The Golden Hour launched

All the work of promotion, planning and preparation for the big event culminated in a fabulous evening at my local library with about 70 well-wishers. It was wonderful to have the support of so many friends and relatives, and thrilling to also have people attend whom I had never seen or met before.

book launch signing

Reading at the book launchI think I saturated my local neighbourhood with flyers, newspaper articles, community Facebook notices and talking to everyone at every opportunity. The support of the local traders was astounding, and made me realise again how wonderful it is to live in a place with a sense of community. The Adelaide Hills is like that, a string of local communities in the range of hills lying to the east of Adelaide. Of course, the publishers were doing their part too, and my writing group and my faith community.

Writing can be a lonely pursuit. We need community,  professionally and personally. Professionally, our work benefits from the objectivity of other writers critiquing it. And, of course, we need readers and buyers! Readers in our neighbourhood are the starting point for what ultimately becomes a non-geographic community of readers. It’s such a privilege as an author to connect with this community, and that’s where the personal bit comes in. Continue reading “The Golden Hour launched”

Novel released!

My first novel, The Golden Hour, has been released! Here’s what it’s about:

Graphic artist and computer hacker, James Elkind, finds himself imprisoned with two women. Who are his companions and what is this facility they’re trapped in? As they search through the past to try to understand their surreal dilemma, seventeen year old James must confront the contradictions of his identity. Can he escape to find a future or will this place prove to be his tomb?

I completed this short, somewhat literary novel 8 ½ years ago, and received very encouraging feedback from a number of writers I respect. I duly submitted it to unpublished manuscript competitions, small and large press slush piles, and a couple of agents. In Australia, agents are as hard to come by as publishing opportunities, so it’s not a simple process of ‘find an agent and they’ll find the publishing house for you’ as the plethora of internet-based advisors suggest.

In the meantime I began my second, much longer, novel. It’s an entirely different beast, which means that when I finally finish the first volume (it has turned into three), I may be right back at the beginning again – trying to find a publisher who will take a punt on someone who has a publishing credit but for a different market.

The market is the key. I have heard that for years. But I cannot bring myself to write based on marketing advice. For a start, my books don’t fit popular culture, and secondly, I can’t write them fast enough to follow that advice. But it’s true that you need to know your market as you write your book. That has proven to be the challenge of my first novel.

That novel is liminal in many ways: between genres (realism, speculative-spiritual), between marketing audiences (not really YA but with a teenage protagonist), and between the lengths publishers typically look for. (At 40, 000 words, it’s too long for a novella, too short for a novel, about the length for the YA category it doesn’t fit into.)

novel about identity, trauma and transition

These categories are, of course, purely marketing inventions. Once upon a time there were no such things as teenagers, let alone Young Adults (aged well before legal adulthood) and a ‘genre’ devoted to them. But that’s not a fight a newbie can begin to win.

I am grateful to Stone Table Books for tackling these challenges and throwing their weight as a small, new, publishing imprint behind my small, unusual novel. (Pun alert) We’re both ‘novel’… Continue reading “Novel released!”

Welcome to The Character Forge

Well, here it is: my first post as a soon-to-be-published novelist.

I’d like to say I have spent months planning this day, and in one sense it’s true. Knowing my debut novel had been accepted by a publisher, I have spent hours researching author platforms, trying to work out what would work best for me and my readers in terms of access, interest and sustainability. On the other hand, I still don’t really know what this blog will look like!

I’m here because I want to give readers a chance to engage with who Claire Belberg is. I love writing, so blogging is no hassle, especially when I get to connect with people through it.

I will post excerpts from my current writing projects here, and thoughts on the writing process. I’ll review books I’m reading, keep you up-to-date on any publishing news, and happily respond to your comments. No screen is interesting with text alone, so I hope to do some photo-journalling also, though I’m no great shakes as a photographer! If there’s anything else you would like to see here, let me know! And I’d be happy to hear about your favourite author blogs too – let’s all share the joy.

Let’s begin the journey!

Why did I call my blog ‘The Character Forge’?

I’m glad you asked.

It’s a play on ideas, really. I write to explore character, those traits that make a person unique, built over a lifetime but visible in their unfinished form from early childhood. At the same time, I find the process of writing is character-building for me.

Here’s a poem I wrote years ago on this two way movement between imaginary people and myself. Continue reading “Welcome to The Character Forge”