Your Creative Life

Your Creative Life


Fiction and freelance writer, Vanessa Carnevale, helps writers and creatives connect to their creativity. Listen in on intimate conversations and insights with writers, authors and creative entrepreneurs, and be uplifted and inspired about the writing process and living a creative life.


#052 Genre Jumping with Toni Jordan  

Toni Jordan's journey into novel writing is about as unconventional as you can get! In this interview, you'll hear all about it as well as why she's chosen to switch genres and how she still struggles to come up with new ideas even with four books behind her.

Toni wrote the international bestseller Addition (2008) - a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick and longlisted for the Miles Franklin award - Fall Girl (2010) and Nine Days (2012), were awarded Best Fiction at the 2012 Indie Awards and named in Kirkus Review’s top 10 Historical Novels of 2013. Toni has also been widely published in newspapers and magazines and teaches creative writing at Faber Academy at Allen & Unwin.

Her latest novel, Our Tiny Useless Hearts, has been described by Liane Moriarty as “a wonderful, witty treat of a novel, both cutting and clever.” It was published in May 2016.

In this week's episode, Kim shares some good news while Vanessa shares some not-so good news. They also discuss what to do when your manuscript is out of your hands and in the hands of someone else, e.g. an agent, publisher or critique partner, and you're stuck waiting.

For shownotes of this episode, visit or

#051Researching and Writing Authentic Settings with Belinda Alexandra  

Belinda Alexandra is the daughter of a Russian mother and an Australian father and has been an intrepid traveller since her youth. Her love of other cultures is matched by her passion for her home country, Australia, where she is a volunteer carer for the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and is a patron of the World League for the Protection of Animals Australia. 

Vanessa chats to Belinda about how she goes about researching her novels and what it takes to write an authentic and believable setting, as well as the role setting can play in shaping a book. With seven books under her belt, including her latest novel, SOUTHERN RUBY, set in 1950s New Orleans and modern day Sydney, Belinda shares some insights into how to effectively write books with dual timelines.

For shownotes visit or

#050 Jane Harper on living every author's dream  

Jane Harper's extraordinary ride to literary stardom is what we're deep diving into on this week's episode. The UK-born, Australian-based author's breakout success with her debut novel, The Dry, has seen her go from newspaper journalist to full-time author in less than a year! It's a fascinatory story and one we can't wait to bring you.

Jane worked as a print journalist for 13 years in Australia and the UK before giving up the day job to become a full-time author. The Dry, a thriller set an Aussie rural town, won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015. It's since gone on to achieve phenomenal success with rights sold in more than 20 territories, film rights optioned by Reese Witherspoon's production company, as well as spending considerable time in the bestseller charts. Jane is currently working on her second book, due out in 2017, as part of a three-book deal with Pan Macmillan.

Also on this week's episode, Kim and Vanessa discussthe concept of what a draft is and the emotional rollercoaster many writers go on before typing 'The End.' They also share their tips on how best to prepare for NaNoWriMo, including their own personal experiences of National Novel Writing Month.

For shownotes, you can visit or


#049 Carla Caruso on Freelance Writing & Rom-Com  

This week Vanessa is back from Italy and feeling a tad jet-lagged. She also chats with Carla Caruso, who writes romantic comedy novels, sometimes with a touch of cosy mystery. Previously she worked as a magazine and newspaper journalist, including in Sydney. Heralding from Adelaide, she’s been published by Penguin and HarperCollins. Her books include A Pretty Mess, Catch of the Day, Second Chance, and more. Recently she told a tale online—about a mermaid stuck in the city—via daily Facebook and Instagram posts @mermadelaide for the SA Writers Centre's digital-writer-in-residence program. Carla’s also part of the Seasoned With Romance writers’ group, which put out free eBook anthologies seasonally, including Summer Daze and Winter Heat.

Carla has written several books and talks to us about her career as a journalist and author of fiction. Carla also edits Hearts Talk for the Romance Writers of Australia, and she shares some tips on romance writing in general, too.

To connect with Carla visit or  

For shownotes, you can visit and

#048 Georgia Clark on being an Aussie author in New York  

This week, Georgia Clark joins us on the podcast from New York where she lives and works as author. Her latest novel, The Regulars, was released by Simon & Schuster in August 2016. Described as a saucy, sexy story that’s one part cautionary tale, one part social commentary, and one part screamingly hilarious comedy.

She’s also the author of two young adult novels, Parched, and She's With the Band. Her work has been translated into half a dozen languages. As a freelance writer, Georgia has written for Bust, Cosmo, Daily Life, InStyle and more. A native Sydneysider, Georgia lives in New York with her girlfriend and a fridge full of cheese.

During the episode, Georgia discusses her journey from being a freelance writer in Sydney to becoming a full-time author living in New York. She also talks about switching genres from YA to adult fiction, what inspired her to write The Regulars and her decision to hire a freelance publicist from BookSparks to help promote her book. You can read more about this decision here and on her blog.

Also in this week's episode, Vanessa returns to the podcast via Skype from Italy, where she is has recently wrapped up her writers' retreat. She gives an update on the rest of the retreat, including the valuable coaching sessions she offered the writers. Kim discusses how taking a step back from her work-in-progress and switching her mindset has helped her to refocus her energy. 

For shownotes, you can visit or

#047 Joel Naoum's new consultancy for authors, Critical Mass  


This week, Kim is flying solo in her introduction for the podcast as Vanessa continues her writers' retreat in Italy. At the time of this recording it was pre-NaNoWriMo time and Kim wants to know who is thinking of joining in on National Novel Writing Month this year? Share your NaNoWriMo plans with Kim and Vanessa by reaching out to them via Twitter @kimberleyfoster and @v_carnevale

Their special guest this week is Joel Naoum, a Sydney-based book publisher, editor and consultant. He currently runs Critical Mass, a consultancy for authors and publishers, and previously ran Pan Macmillan Australia's digital-first imprint Momentum. In 2011 he completed the Unwin Fellowship researching digital publishing experimentation in the United Kingdom.

During Vanessa's chat with Joel, he gives listeners a glimpse into the digital publishing landscape, and what kind of skills self-published authors need. He also talks about factors to consider when deciding to pursue traditional vs. self-publishing.

You can find Joel on Facebook or Twitter, or visit Critical Mass Consulting here.

To follow all of Vanessa's travels around Italy, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

#046 Literary agent Alex Adsett on contracts, advances & more  

This week's episode is a biggie. We start off by coming to you from Italy, where Vanessa is hosting her first ever writers' retreat. During Kim and Vanessa's intro chat, Vanessa talks a little bit about the setting that inspired her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge (out January 2017) and what it was like to meet her agent, Cassie Hanjian in person for the first time. You can listen to her interview with Cassie in a previous episode.

Speaking of agents, Kim had the pleasure of interviewing literary agent, Alex Adsett, who is this week's special guest. Alex is an Aussie agent specialising in genre fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, crime, mystery, and romance. She is also a freelance publishing consultant offering commercial contract advice to authors and publishers. She has more than eighteen years experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry and has managed Alex Adsett Publishing Services since 2008. Alex represents a select stable of authors including Maria Lewis, Shannon Horsfall, Kylie Chan, and Gary Kemble.

During their discussion, Kim and Alex cover everything from the role of agent and contract advice to some of the common mistakes writers make when approaching an agent for representation. They also go into the reasons why many debut authors in the US have been receiving million-dollar advances in recent years, what makes a book reach 'bestseller' status in Australia and Alex offers her take on the possible changes to the parallel import rules.

You can find out more about Alex's agency at her website, as well as where she'll be appearing via her events page. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

To register for more information on future writers' retreats with Vanessa, visit or to follow all her updates from Italy, check out her Instagram. To connect with Kim, visit her website or Twitter.


#045 Australia's Highest Selling Debut Novelist of 2015, Sally Hepworth  

This week, Vanessa chats with Sally Hepworth, the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives. The Secrets of Midwives has been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and praised by New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. The Secrets of Midwives was also the highest selling debut Australian fiction of the year in 2015. Sally is also the author of The Things We Keep, published in January this year. The Things We Keep was a Library Journal Pick in the U.S. for January 2016, and an Indie Next Pick in the U.S. for February 2016. NYT bestselling author of The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion praised The Things We Keep calling it ‘A compelling read that touches on important themes, not least the different forms that love may take.” Both of Sally's novels have been published worldwide in English and have been translated into over ten languages.


For shownotes visit or


Episode #044 On Editing with Dianne Blacklock  

If editing is consuming your world right now, then we urge you to take a break and listen to this cracker of an interview with Dianne Blacklock. With nearly 15 years in the book publishing industry, Dianne knows words (like really!) As a successful author in her own right, she now splits her time between writing and editing other people’s novels, including those of Susan Murphy and Tess Woods.

Dianne Blacklock is the author of nine novels of commercial women’s fiction, published both in Australia and overseas. She recently contributed to the 2015 anthology Mothers and Others, and has written for the Daily and Sunday Life on women’s issues. She is also a busy freelance editor, with a focus on debut authors of women’s fiction and romance titles. She’s also besties with Liane Moriarty so we speak a little about her recent success, including Liane’s secret reading habits, and the newsletter she has with Liane and fellow author, Ber Carroll.

During our chat, Dianne covers off everything including how she first got her first book publishing contract (it’s a gem of a story!) to how and why she decided to take the plunge and become an editor. Her knowledge of the industry is vast and she offers a wealth of advice for anyone looking to get professionally edited or self-editing their own manuscripts. It’s a blockbuster of an episode but one worth listening to from start to finish!

For shownotes visit or

#043 A Behind the Scenes Look at the Role of Booksellers with Cheryl Akle of Better Reading  

This week's episode with Cheryl Akle is a gem! Filled with a behind the scenes look at how books find their places on shelves, what's hot in publishing trends, and the role of book clubs. This episode is a true celebration of the magic and wonder of books with a woman who has worked in the world of books and publishing for her entire working life. 

Cheryl Akle has been a book lover since she first read Where the Wild Things Are at the age of five. Years later, Cheryl got her first job working with books at Marrickville Library in Sydney, where she learned first-hand the difference books can make to children’s and even adults’ lives. Cheryl has never looked back and has worked among books ever since. Cheryl has been a store manager and senior buyer for Dymocks, Edels, Dillons in London and Myer book department. She has also owned her own bookshop, The Idle Tank in Sydney’s Bondi. Providing an integrated environment of books, music and internet access, The Idle Tank was one of the city’s first multi-media retail outlets. In 2002 Cheryl moved from book retail to book publishing when she took the position of marketing manager at Random House Australia. There Cheryl worked with some wonderful Australian and international authors, including Nigella Lawson, Judy Nunn, John Grisham, Robbie Williams, Peter Carey and Danielle Steele. She also promoted some fabulous books, including The Da Vinci Code and Almost French. Cheryl managed Get Reading! for 7 years, a government funded initiative, Australia’s largest annual promotion of books and reading. Two years ago she launched Better Reading, a book recommendation website that has a reading community of 90K and an average weekly reach of 300K. In her spare time she reads, cooks and entertains at her home in Petersham, Sydney, where she lives with George and John Brown, her two fluffy white dogs.

You can join the BETTER READING BOOK CLUB LIVE which is live streamed via Facebook on the last Wednesday of every month at 8:00 pm


For shownotes visit or


#042 Mentoring & Teaching with Faber Academy's Kathryn Heyman  

This week, we dive deeper into the world of writing courses with Program Director for Faber Academy, Kathryn Heyman. As an acclaimed novelist, Kathryn spoke with Kim about Allen & Unwin's writing programme and why it continues to produce such amazing talent including authors Michelle Wright, Emma Viskic and Kelly Doust, who guest-starred on episode #038. 

During their chat, Kim talked to Kathryn about her own path to publication, as well as the benefits of signing up for a writing course or a mentorship to help you with your own writing journey. 

#041 Writing Deep and Emotional Books with Karma Brown  

This week Vanessa chats with Karma Brown, award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Come Away With Me, who spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops. When not mulling plot lines, she can be found running with her husband, colouring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. The Choices We Make is her second novel.

Karma not only shares her journey to publication with us but also shares what it was like to write a book with deep, emotional scenes that cover topics like grief, love and loss.

For shownotes visit: or


#040 Writing Genre Fiction with Maria Lewis  

This week's guest is Maria Lewis, a journalist and urban fantasy author, based in Sydney. Who's Afraid? is her debut novel and the first in a five-part supernatural series from Little Brown Books UK/Hachette Australia. The sequel Who's Afraid Too?is due out in January 2017. A journalist for over a decade, she works on nightly news program The Feed on SBS. She's also the host and producer of the Eff Yeah Film & Feminism podcast.

During the interview, Kim talks to Maria about the health scare that motivated her to take her writing more seriously as well as the decision to make Who's Afraid a series instead of a standalone book. She also reveals her journey to publication which involved six months of writing, six years of waiting to find a publisher and over 120 (yep, 120) drafts!

For anyone who is interested in writing genre fiction or looking to get an agent, this podcast interview will be hugely valuable. Not only does Maria go into great detail about how she signed with her agent, Alex Adsett, she also reveals a piece of writing advice from best-selling author Matthew Reilly helped her in her journey.   For shownotes visit or  

#039 Love at First Flight with Tess Woods  

This week Vanessa chats with Tess Woods, a physiotherapist who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Her debut novel, Love at First Flight, first released as an eBook in April 2015, received worldwide critical acclaim, hit the best-seller charts in Australia and was voted Book of the Year in the AusRom Today Reader's Choice Awards 2015. Tess was also top ten nominated as Best New Author. Love at First Flight is the first HarperCollins Australia digital book acquisition to be given a print release in August 2016. Tess's short story, Destiny in a Day was released in the anthology Hot Stuff: Surfing Love and she is currently putting the finishing touches her second full-length novel, Beautiful Messy Love. When she isn't working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.


#038 Fashion Meets Fiction with Kelly Doust  

This week's episode features Kelly Doust, the bestselling author of A Life in Frocks: A memoir, vintage fashion bible Minxy Vintage: How to Customise & Wear Vintage Clothing and craft books including The Crafty Minx, The Crafty Kid and The Crafty Minx at Home. Her first novel, Precious Things was published by HarperCollins in April 2016.

During the interview Kelly shares how a love of books from an early age encouraged her to venture down the path of book publishing and publicity, taking her across the world from the UK to Hong Kong and back to Australia. In her spare time, she started penning freelance articles forVogue, Australian Women’s Weekly and Sunday Life Magazine. A passion for fashion, vintage clothing and craft led her to write five non-fiction books on these subjects before turning her hand to fiction. 


For shownotes visit or


Episode #037 Writing Competitions as a Path to Publication with Cassandra O'Leary  

We're chatting romantic comedy this week with Cassandra O’Leary, a romance and women’s fiction writer, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things.

In 2015, Cassandra was a finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and in 2014 she was a finalist in the First Kiss contest run by Romance Writers of Australia. She was the winner of the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK and her debut contemporary romance/romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, releases in July 2016.

Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous.

#035 Book blogging & self-publishing with Steph Pegler  
Authors and readers who are fascinated by the world of book blogging will definitely want to tune into this week's podcast episode. On the show, Kim interviews Stephanie Pegler, the Perth-based founder of Chicklit Club, a book blogging site dedicated to news, reviews and author interviews. Founded in 2007, Chicklit Club has grown over the past decade to include 3,500 reviews of books mostly under the umbrella of women's contemporary fiction. Steph also publishes two other blogs - We Heart Writing, for those looking for inspiration and writing tips, and Connect, an online hub where authors share guest posts on a range of topics.

During the interview, Steph talks a lot about why she loves the 'chick lit' genre, how it has evolved and her thoughts on why the term 'chick lit' continues to attract so much disdain. As a long-time advocate for women's fiction, who has seen it all, she also shares her views on what trends have come and gone and what she sees taking off at the moment.

In addition to blogging, Steph is also a freelance journalist and an author. Her debut novel, Don't Mention the Rock Star, was published last year under a pen name, Bree Darcy. During their chat, Steph reveals why she chose to self-publish her first book, espeically given her many connections to the traditional publishing industry. She also talks in detail about she handles rejection and negative reviews and her top tips for self-publishing newbies.

For authors wishing to have their book reviewed or to be featured in an interview, Steph offers plenty of advice on the do's and don'ts when approaching book bloggers to pitch them your work. You can find Chicklit Club's book review policy here.

She also shares an exclusive on what she is currently working on, including her first-ever non-fiction book, aimed at helping book bloggers create a brand, monetise their blog and build relationships with professionals within the publishing industry. It is slated for release in 2017 to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of Chicklit Club.

At the beginning of this episode, Vanessa and Kim touch on editing and how they feel about this phase in a book's journey. They discuss what the editing stage looks like when you're self-editing your own work and when you're working with an editor on a structural and/or copy edit. They also provide some handy tips to help navigate this often daunting part of the process.



#035 What it's Like to Be in the Querying Trenches with Cassie Hamer  

It's always great speaking with writers who are working really hard to achieve their writing goals. Cassie Hamer is one of them and this week, she and Vanessa chat about what it's really like to be in the 'querying trenches' and how to best deal with the ups and downs on what can sometimes be a long journey towards publication. (Good luck Cassie, we are cheering you on all the way.)

We also chat about book reviewing, how books impact our lives, and how reading can be helpful for writers. 

Cassie has a background in TV journalism and public relations but these days prefers to write fiction rather than fact. She lives in Sydney with her young family and tends to write a lot of stories in her head while walking around Centennial Park. Occasionally, she writes them down. In 2015, she launched a blog about books and writing at Book Birdy.

For shownotes visit or


#034 Pitching at Conferences with Sarah Gates  

Ever wanted to try your hand at pitching your book at a writer's conference or festival? Then this podcast episode is for you! This week, Kim chats to first-time author, Sarah Gates, who pitched her contemporary romance novel at two separate writer's conferences, which lead to it being requested by all seven (!) publishers, including Hachette, Pan Macmillan, Penguin, Random Romance, Simon & Schuster, Tule Publishing and Harlequin. She was offered a book deal with Harlequin for her novel, Love Elimination, which hits shelves on 1st July,

In this episode, Sarah shares the story behind how her book went from pitch to publication and shares some of her top tips for pitching at conferences. For more of her pitching pearls of wisdom, make sure to check out this article she wrote on the very subject.

Sarah Gates is an Adelaide-based writer. She is an undergraduate student of Law and Arts and the 2015 winner of the $12,500 Colin Thiele Scholarship for Creative Writing. Sarah’s first novel, a young adult fiction, was originally published on Wattpad with over 9.5 million views. She has since self-published this work, and teaches workshops on ebooks and self publishing at SA Writers Centre.




#033 From Self-Publishing to NYT Bestseller, an Interview with Hazel Gaynor  

Hazel Gaynor, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, chats with Vanessa this week about her journey towards publication. She was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. As features writer for national Irish writing website Hazel has interviewed Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Mosse, Jojo Moyes and Cheryl Strayed, among others. Hazel is a contributing author to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES: Stories of Love and the Great War. Her third novel is THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

In this episode Vanessa and Kim also chat about creating a genuine online writing community and presence.

For shownotes visit: or


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