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Director's Welcome


Welcome to the first eNews of our 15th year in business!

We had a record number of entries this year into IP Picks, so it meant that our Editorial Board members had plenty to read over the holiday season! The overall standard of submissions was higher, so we will be offering several publishing contracts to those who finished Highly Commended and Commended in some of the categories. There's a full report on Picks below, so check out all those who secured a place and keep an eye open for their publication under one of our imprints.

In Canberra, I attended launch events for Geoff Page's latest book, Coda for Shirley as well as a Gala event for returning author Amelia Fielden's tanka book Words Flower, Laura Jan Shore's Water Over Stone and Stuart Cooke's Edge Music. Geoff, Laura and Stuart then joined me in Sydney for a similar event.

Just as this newsletter goes to digital press, I'm preparing for several events in Adelaide to coincide with the Fringe Festival. There'll be a launch of Heather Taylor Johnson's Letters to My Lover from a Small Mountain Town and Amelia Walker's Sound and Bundy at the Tin Cat Café, where I'll also read a couple of days later to a younger crowd from the Project Earth-mend Series, especially Tiger Tames the Min Min, which is set partly in South Australia's Outback.

Preparations are under way for our Summer Gala Weekend in Brisbane, which will include a Soirée and our regular Gala Performance, featuring eight new and recent authors, several of whom are from interstate.

On the IP Kidz front, we're still awaiting the final Premier's Reading Challenge lists from Queensland, but we can confirm that Tiger Tames the Min Min has been selected for the South Australian Challenge, while Goldie Alexander's Hedgeburners: An A~Z PI Mystery, Hazel Edward's Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time) and Libby Hathorn's I Love You Book are on the 2012 Victorian list.

Our Digital Program continues to expand in response to new formats released from Apple and Amazon. Like other publishers, we're witnessing rapid growth in digital sales, and a slight decrease in physical ones. People seem to be voting with their iPads. See the IP Digital Buzz for further details.

IP will continue to be a 'multi-channel' publisher, dedicated to physical books as well as digital editions, as long as the market is there – and we expect it to be for some time.

There are tempting 15th Anniversary specials in Your Deal, so don't forget to celebrate with us by ordering armfuls!

Enough said, I'm sure you're keen to read the Picks results, so off you go – if you're still with me now.


– DR


Is a Change as Good as an Election?

The politicians are puckering up to kiss babies again, so it must be Election Time… Politics in Queensland is not nearly as exciting as Federal politics since we have yet to have a standing premier unseated by those keen to replace her, yet all the polls indicate that Premier Bligh is lucky not to have suffered her own Mutiny in the past year.

The campaign will be dominated by the usual cliché issues: who can minister to an ailing health system, who can pile more paperwork on our teachers to make them more accountable for Johnny not knowing the difference between a subjective and objective personal pronoun, who can best protect our towns against the annual one-in-fifty year flood…

How many artists do you reckon will be kissed along the way to court votes?

Unfortunately, the arts have always been seen as a 'soft' issue for politicians. Like seniors, and the disabled. No one promises more generous funding to the ABC to produce and promote Australian content. Few politicians recognise how many people the arts industry employs in this country. Nor do they take notice of how many people attend arts related events and performances – supposedly more than those attending sporting events.

Governments can be proud of their funding to arts competitions like the Prime Minister and State Premiers' Awards, but the big prizes generally go to a familiar few. These are token gestures – and expensive ones – and I would question if they really benefit the arts as a whole.

Politicians DO enjoy the company of artists, much more so than that of journalists, but they seldom take the opportunity in their key note addresses to announce increases in funding to needy organisations and artists. Perhaps that's because our arts events are so seldom covered by the media, who in turn assume that no one in the community other than the artists and their relations is really interested in it.

When cornered about their token support for the arts, politicians squirm. Once, I attended a function at one of our local universities at which the State Treasurer and Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser gave a welcoming speech. The audience did their best to stifle their yawns. Later in the evening I managed to close in on him to ask about funding to publishing in Queensland. He was cut off in mid-sentence by his minder, who was obviously worried that the Treasurer was finding the question uncomfortable. I seem to be off the VIP list of late…

Perhaps our politicians would think more about the value of the arts in our society if they had to answer questions about it on a more regular basis. I'm thinking of proposing this as a key topic for a future Q&A program, but which politicians besides Peter Garrett would volunteer to be on the panel?

- DR

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IP Digital Buzz

Just when you thought the world was content with ePub, Apple and Amazon set up their own alternative universes.

Several months ago, Apple decided to change the rules for some books submitted to the iBookstore. Spread-oriented books like picture books and cook books had to be converted into Fixed Layout Format ePub files. (If you don't know what an ePub file is, please get yourself a copy of Your eBook Survival Kit NOW).

Fixed Layout Files make it possible for a designer to control precisely what displays on a digital page, no matter what device is reading it. Sort of a pdf file in web clothing. Normal web or html files want to flow into the available space, which means the content will display differently on a smartphone than on a tablet. It would be nice if Fixed Layout files were easy to create, but they aren't, simply because the code works against the page's instinct to flow the content.

Once Apple became committed to Fixed Layout, they began rejecting standard spread-oriented ePub files with the excuse that files created in the conventional format would not provide readers with an optimal reading experience. The decision was not open for debate. Either you sent them Fixed Layout files or your content didn't get accepted by the iBookstore.

Just when we were getting used to providing Apple with Fixed Layout files and ePubs to everyone else, Amazon decided to launch their own Fixed Layout format, especially geared to their new colour Kindle Fire. Would Fixed Layout files created for Apple work for Amazon? Of course not! Amazon has its own coding system, so digital designers now have to speak ePub Standard, Apple Fixed Layout, and Amazon Fixed Layout.

All too complicated for the average DIY author? You bet – and for many DIY publishers as well.

Then Apple appeared to take pity on us mere mortals with a fanfare for their new iBook Author application. Simply import your Word or Pages file into an iBook Author template, add a few refinements, and, voilá, you've authored an ePub – without having to touch the code. Tap another button and your book is published to the iBookstore.

Too good to believe? Mostly!

Publishers don't normally think of Word and Pages as publishing packages but rather as intermediary steps on the way to a true publishing package such as InDesign. What sounds like good news to 'self publishers' of one-off titles seems more like a backwards step to us publishers. When designers put the finishing touches on a file in InDesign or Quark, they seldom modify the source Word or Pages file. Having to do that spells more work. Yet it will have to be done, if we are to publish using iBook Author. You may find that publishers opt for the more technical path of creating just the Fixed Layout file, which still works for Apple.

If you're a Mac user, the relationship between iBook Author and Fixed Layout Format is kind of like that between iPhoto and Photoshop. The latter formats will doubtlessly create a more professional looking file, setting apart content uploaded by DIY authors from professional designers.

Some will argue that Apple is doing this more out of self interest than to help DIY authors. Once files are created in iBooks Author they can only be sold on the iBookStore. You can still distribute the files for free – important for teachers wanting to digitise their courses – but selling it is a breach of your agreement with Apple.

Will Apple care if you quietly sell a few copies to your Mac mates (the iBook Author file won't work on a PC)? Probably not. But if you're planning to make a best seller, you'd be wise NOT to distribute your iBook Author file for profit. Apple is the world's richest corporation by far, and they're not shy of taking legal action to protect their copyright.

What about Amazon's new file formats for the Kindle? That's another story – tune in to the next issue!

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IP Kidz Update

It was great to see so many entries in this year’s Young Adult / Junior Prose category of IP Picks – thanks to everyone who entered. Last year’s winner, The Ruby Bottle, bRuby Bottley Janet Reid has now returned from the printer’s and will be launched in Brisbane at our Soiree and Gala events on 2 and 4 March. If you’re interested, come along and join the fun!

Witches’ Britches, Itches & Twitches, Mark Carthew and Mike Spoor’s illustrated book of rhymes, riddles and jokes, is now going through the final stages of formatting, ready for a May release. We’re also excited to have signed contracts on three new IP Kidz titles: No Matter Who We’re With, a picture book by Robert Vescio, to be illustrated by Cheri Scholten; Anne Morgan’s The Smallest Carbon Footprint in the Land & other eco-tales, a book of fairytales reworked with environmental themes, to be illustrated by Gay McKinnon; and David Reiter’s second picture book, Bringing Down the Wall, about family secrets a boy’s grandfather reveals, to be illustrated by Sona Babajanyan. We can’t wait to see all the illustrations!

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Reading Challenge Updates

Christina's MatildaFive titles are listed on the NSW Premier Reading Challenge: Christina's Matilda by Edel Wignell and Elizabeth Botté, Long Live Us! by Edel and Peter Allert, I Love You Book by Libby Hathorn and Heath McKenzie, The Sky Dreamer by Anne Morgan and Céline Eimann, and Lyli Meets the Stone-Muncher by Céline Eimann.

Tiger Tames the Min Min
Tiger Tames the Min Min
joins the prequels in David Reiter's Project Earth-mend Series on the South Australian Premier's Reading Challenge. The other two titles are The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling.

PlatoGoldie Alexander's Hedgeburners: An A~Z PI Mystery, Hazel Edwards & John Petropolous' Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time) and Libby Hathorn & Keith McKenzie's I Love You Book are on the 2012 Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge list, joining our titles from the Project Earth-mend Series by David Reiter.

We're still awaiting word back from the Queensland Premier's Reading Challenge but will post those on our Facebook and Twitter sites as soon as they become available.

Congratulations to our fine authors and illustrators!

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Out & About

Our Summer Tour kicks off with events in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley this week. For starters, there'll be a Literary Sound and BundySalon in the garden at the Tin Cat Cafe, 107 Rundle Street, Kent Town from 7pm. Heather Taylor John (Letters to My Lover from a Small Mountain Town) and Amelia Walker (Sound and Bundy) will have their IP books launched after a panel discussion featuring David Reiter, talking about his latest work My Planets: a fictive memoir, and the latest developments at IP. Dinner available from 6pm. RSVP to the Café: (08) 8362 4748.

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David Reiter and Heather Taylor Johnson are featured under the stars at Beers and Bards at the Barossa Valley Brewery, 2ALetters to My Lover Murray Street, Heinemann Park, Tanunda, South Australia on Friday, 24 Febuary, from 7:30pm. There’ll be sumptuous literary performances with food and drink as the theme, interspersed with tapas and tastings of the Brewery’s wonderful microbrews. $40/head. Bookings to the Brewery (email) or (08) 8563 0696.

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The Project Earth-mend Series for kids, including the latest title, Tiger Tames the Min Min, will be featured at the Tin Cat Tiger Tames the Min MinCafé (08) 8362 4748 from 3:30pm, Saturday, 25 February. A panel of kids (including perhaps some climate skeptics?) will grill David about the science behind his sci-fi series after readings from the adventures of Tiger the cat, Wanda the Blue-tongue, Number 12, the retired racing camel and their ET buddies. Find out how President Obama and Madonna get drawn into the Project! RSVP to the Café: (08) 8362 4748.

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IP's Summer Gala Weekend is on 2 and 4 March in Brisbane. On Friday, 2 March, we return to the Kookaburra Café at Paddington from 7pm for a Soirée, with gourmet finger foods and brief readings from IP authors including Guy Salvidge Yellowcake Springs(Yellowcake Springs), who travelling here all the way from Perth, Heather Taylor Johnson (Letters to My Lover from a Small Mountain Town), Janet Reid (The Ruby Bottle), Duncan Richardson (Ultra Soundings) and Kathy Kituai (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). Then, on Sunday, 4 March, we hold our Gala Performance at the Performance Studio, 4MBS Classic-FM, 384 Old Cleveland Road, Coorparoo, from 1:45pm for 2. Free event, with refreshments, but bookings are ESSENTIAL (the last Gala Performance booked out!) RSVPs to IP (email) or 3324 9319 (ph/Fx). Deadline for booking the Soirée is 29 February and for the Gala Performance, 1 March.

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E A Gleeson will have the Ballarat launch of her latest IP title, Maisie and The Black Cat Band, which was Highly Commended in IP Picks 2011, at Humffrey Room, Mechanics’ InstituteMaisie and Black Cat
117 Sturt Street, Ballarat, from 2pm, Sunday 4 March. (We'll forgive her THIS time for not being at our Brisbane Gala, scheduled for the same day). RSVP to 0434 084 299 or 03 5348 4878.

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Geoff Page will have the Melbourne launch for Coda for Shirley at Collected Works Bookshop, Swanston Street, Melbourne from 5:45 on Tuesday, 6 March. You can book in for that directly with the bookshop (03 9654 8873).

Sound and BundyAlso at Collected Works, but in April on Friday the 13th (!) will be a Gala reading by IP authors E A Gleeson (Maisie and The Black Cat Band, Amelia Walker (Sound and Bundy), Lois Shepheard (The Rag Boiler's Daughter) and David Reiter (My Planets: a fictive memoir. 6pm for 6:30. Bookings to the bookshop (03 9654 8873).

IP authors Amelia Walker (Sound and Bundy) and David ReiterMy Planets (My Planets: a fictive memoir) join Daylesford author E A Gleeson (Maisie and The Black Cat Band) for a special afternoon of readings at the Castlemaine Word Mine, Anglican Church Hall, Forest and Kennedy Streets, Castlemaine, 2:30pm for 3.

Finally, Bayside Library at Brighton will host a reading by Lois Shepheard and David Reiter from their new books (see above). David will also talk briefly and field questions about our Digital Rag Boiler's DaughterPublishing Centre and the services it offers authors wanting to publish or republish their work to distributors like Amazon, Apple and Google. Sunday, 15 April, from 2pm at the Library. Bookings to IP IP (email) or 3324 9319 (ph/Fx)

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IP Sales

Things could certainly be brighter on the sales front, but then most retailers are probably saying that these days. From our end of year Statements of Account, we determined that our digital sales continue to show a healthy increase, now representing 30% of our total sales, while sales of our print editions are down slightly. Since our partnerships with distributors like Google, Wheelers and EBSCO only started recently, we're expecting healthy growth from their markets in the next statement period.

Our recent success with placing IP Kidz titles (see above) in the State Premier's Reading Challenges have translated into brisk sales, especially in the States where the titles are listed. 2012 sees a major step forward with our acceptance onto these lists, evidence that our children's imprint may have paid its dues to be noticed along side longer established publishers.

Visitors to our mini-sites may notice that we have added another option for clicking through to an eBook store. Thanks to Apple's iBookstore link maker, you'll now see an icon offering you direct access to the iBookstore from many of our recent titles.

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In Review

[The reviews that follow are snippets from the full reviews, which you can find by clicking on the thumbnail for the title.]

Barry Levy – Shades of Exodus

Shades of ExodusBarry needs little Introduction..! I'm humbled to have this opportunity to showcase this powerful writer's work on my blog. What resonates for me firstly, is his exuberant, expansive selfless ... and compassionate soul, which rings loudly through the genres which he elects to write about- combined with his poetic insight and perception which brings brutal truth to the attention of the reader... and secondly, due to my identification with him as an SA Expat residing in Australasia.

– Eve Hemming, Blogspot

David P Reiter – My Planets: a Fictive Memoir

What is equally remarkable, however, is the author's more difficult attempt to capture the life and personality of the birth parents he never knew when young. The social context in the United States cities at the end of World War II is graphicallyMy Planets brought out, including the sexual recklessness of the time and the psychological damage experienced by veterans, even by those who (like Reiter's birth father) didn't see combat. In prose sections like "What a Girl's Got to Do" and "Dancing Sinatra", Reiter very convincingly recreates a sense of a woman who is drawn to sexual adventure and who feels that a more luminous fate should await her than her circumstances allow.

– Geoff Page, The Canberra Times

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Who Needs Publishers?

Content creators have long had an axe to grind with publishers and other 'gate keepers'. No one likes to be rejected. And yet, up until lately, content creators had little choice but to keep at it, despite hillocks of rejection slips. In the face of depressing news, authors are bound to feel hard done by, their work misunderstood, unrecognised for its brilliance and best selling potential.

Self publishing is nothing new. In fact, many early works by authors we regard as 'classical' were self published, often funded by benefactors who believed enough in the authors' work to bankroll its publication. The difference today is that self publishing has become an industry in its own right, a parallel universe to the conventional one populated by editors, publishers and publicists, who are often regarded as unsympathetic to native talent and enslaved to commercial imperatives.

Self publishing is being sold as an empowering option. You become prime contractor, seeing your work through the pre-publication and publication stages. With the advent of POD (print on demand) and eBook distribution, most authors who are fluent with computers and software can publish their work to stores like Amazon and now Apple, cutting out the middle people, the agents of rejection and depression.

If you've got the skills of an editor, proofreader, designer and book packager – and more recently eBook creator, too – you can do it all yourself and reap the lion's share of the revenue. Companies that assist self publishers like Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu regularly trumpet the success stories of people who have published with them, and these testimonials are seductive. But should you take a bite of the Self Publishing Apple? Is there any reason to work with conventional publishers any more?

Recently, a secret email from within Hachette Group was released to Digital Book World's Editorial Director, and he released it to the Internet. We think it makes interesting reading, especially for people who see publishers as the meanies. Here it is in its entirety...

“Self-publishing” is a misnomer.

Publishing requires a complex series of engagements, both behind the scenes and public facing. Digital distribution (which is what most people mean when they say self-publishing) is just one of the components of bringing a book to market and helping the public take notice of it.

As a full service publisher, Hachette Book Group offers a wide array of services to authors:

1. Curator: We find and nurture talent:
• We identify authors and books that are going to stand out in the marketplace. HBG  discovers new voices, and separates the remarkable from the rest.
• We act as content collaborator, focused on nurturing writing talent, fostering rich relationships with our authors, providing them with expert editorial advice on their writing, and tackling a huge variety of issues on their behalf.

2. Venture Capitalist: We fund the author’s writing process:
• At HBG we invest in ideas. In the form of advances, we allow authors the time and resources to research and write. In addition we invest continuously in infrastructure, tools, and partnerships that make HBG a great publisher partner.

3. Sales and Distribution Specialist: We ensure widest possible audience:
• We get our books to the right place, in the right numbers, and at the right time (this applies equally to print and digital editions). We work with retailers and distribution partners to ensure that every book has the opportunity to reach the widest possible readership.
• We ensure broad distribution and master supply chain complexity, in both digital and physical formats.
• We function as a new market pioneer, exploring and experimenting with new ideas in every area of our business and investing in those new ideas – even if, in some cases, a positive outcome is not guaranteed (as with apps and enhanced ebooks).
• We act as a price and promotion specialist (coordinating 250+ monthly, weekly and daily deals on ebooks at all accounts).

4. Brand Builder and Copyright Watchdog: We build author brands and protect their intellectual property:
• Publishers generate and spread excitement, always looking for new ways make our authors and their books stand out.  We’re able to connect books with readers in a meaningful way.
• We offer marketing and publicity expertise, presenting a book to the marketplace in exactly the right way, and ensuring that intelligence, creativity, and business acumen inform our strategy.
• We protect authors’ intellectual property through strict anti-piracy measures and territorial controls.

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Focus 1: Ian Corner

[Interviewed by David Reiter, Ian talks about how his book Profiling Leadership Discipline can help managers improve their game and improve productivity in business and government agencies.]

DR: Are leaders born or can they be made?

IC: Some exceptional leaders genuinely appear to have the natural aptitude to influence others at school, university and at the beginning of their careers.  Others bloom much later but are just as exceptional and powerful as those who seem to have developed early. This appears to suggest that leaders are both born and made. I believe, however, it is what an individual is exposed to, takes interest in and becomes passionate about, which influences the conscious or unconscious decision to lead. Passion determines the speed at which our personal drivers emerge and evolve. It is based on this premise that I believe leaders are self-made or moulded by strong influences or events. Passion is but one element in the quest to master exceptional leadership. 

Profiling LeadershipPassion, purpose and professionalism furnishes outstanding leaders with the drive and commitment to influence, develop, inspire, motivate and engage those willing to follow.  Passion is the emotional engine, the true heart of a leader through which the faith, values and resilience required to lead materialise. Purpose defines a mission, the direction, destination and measures that define success and keeps leaders and those who follow on the right track.  Professionalism is determined by technique, demonstration of the knowledge, skills and experience that influence the trust and actions of others.  Collectively, these elements inspire and influence leaders to be the best they can be. The book Profiling Leadership Discipline attempts to influence behaviours that shape exemplary leadership and create outstanding leaders.

DR: In your role at Mission Australia, what do you find the most challenging aspects of being a leader?

IC: As Head of Organisation Development in the Not for Profit sector I find there are many challenges in applying leadership best practice. What I believe and influence others to believe doesn’t always happen seamlessly. Individuals are diverse and influenced by different motivators. Continually adapting leadership and communication to suit individuals and teams, being authentic and true, investing in the continued development of others and ruthlessly prioritising secures the platform from which I influence and lead effectively. It’s a platform never to be taken for granted and one requiring regular care and attention. Engaging staff when it matters is crucial. I try to create positive and memorable experiences for employees when recruiting, inducting, setting expectations, giving feedback, recognising and rewarding, developing capability and supporting those departing the organisation. The investment always delights when talented employees return later in their careers.

Accurate and speedy decision making is a requirement of my role and at times appears to be a lonely burden. However, believing in, caring for and developing others’ lightens the load.  In recent years I’ve reaped the benefits of being able to delegate to and increase the accountability of direct reports who trust and believe in me as a leader. In truth, I would beIanC far less a leader without them. Trusted advisers who counsel best practice are few, so I strive and make those who report to me just that, consultants whose word and direction enhance my ability to make good decisions. Empowering others to empower themselves is hard work and doesn’t happen overnight. I have due to ill health seen this commitment rewarded. Time away from work didn’t affect the quality and on-time delivery of services from my team. I will not suggest this was as a result of my leadership but will claim credit for understanding the role of leader as a productive team member. No leader can survive without the personal and professional attributes of a team and the individuals within it. I would go as far as to suggest that without investing in and valuing employees, sustainable high performance and outstanding results are unlikely.

DR: Does the business culture in Australia foster world class leaders, or should we be importing more leaders from overseas?

IC: In Australia, in my opinion, we tend to import leadership capability rather than develop it. This impedes our ability to develop and fast track home grown talent. Rather than invest in TAFE and university qualifications, however, leaders must be prepared and committed to coach and mentor the behaviours required to secure an organisation’s long term success. Implied in this, is the ability of leaders to continually and consistently coach and mentor. There is no question that industry and market knowledge benefits leaders. However, just as technical knowledge impresses employees, it is really the ability to direct, support, develop, inspire, motivate and engage (lead) individuals that secures their long term success. Something I will personally strive to perfect.   

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IP Picks 2012 Awards

This year's Picks competition was our most successful to date, with over 100 entries in the five categories. As usual, the Best Poetry category attracted the strongest entries, resulting in the longest long list and the fiercest competition for places in the final list. We were pleased by a dramatic increase in the number of entries from New Zealand; obviously word has spread, helped by our recent tour there. Entrants from New Zealand and Tasmania fared very well compared to their mainland counterparts. We were also pleased to see a dramatic increase in entries in our Junior Prose and YA category.

Percentage breakdown of entries by jurisdiction: NSW (22%), VIC (19%), Qld (15%), TAS (13%), SA (11%), NZ (10%), ACT (7%), WA (4%).

The Judging Panel was convened by our Publisher, Dr David Reiter and comprised Senior Prose Editor Lauren Daniels, Prose Editor Sarah Elliott, Children's and YA Editor Anna Bartlett and Assistant Editors Kayla Clibbord, Josh Brockbank, Hannah Schneider, and external reader Hayley Rogers.

Each manuscript received a minimum of two readings, with long listed entries being read by almost all the panel. Consensus was reached on the winners and commended in all categories. Publication will be offered to all the winners, with some Highly Commended and Commended also to be considered at a later date.

Breaking news about the competition, including short-listed entries, was posted on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter sites. News releases were issued throughout Australia and New Zealand just after the final Editorial Board meeting.

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Judges' Overview: Fiction & Non-Fiction Awards

We understand the amount of hard work that goes into preparing a manuscript for award submission, so well done and thank you to everyone who entered Picks this year.

Overall we were very impressed by the standard of writing in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories, but there were some common problems that restricted many from being placed.

Premise – while most manuscripts did appear to have a premise, often this was not clearly sustained. Your premise should be interesting and unique, and should act as a thread that the reader can follow throughout the piece; driving it forward, giving it purpose and connecting all the parts.

Clichés – avoid overused terms and phrases at all costs. Think outside of the box and come up with new and interesting ways to say things.

Proofreading and formatting – no matter how good the plot or the quality of the writing, typos, inconsistencies and incorrect formatting can undercut the imapct of your work and distract the judges. Ensure that your manuscript is meticulously proofread and professionally formatted before you submit it.

Flat Plots in Fiction – ensure that your plot is cohesive and dramatic to keep the reader interested. It must form a literary arc to the climax and resolution of the story.

Telling/Showing – rather than just telling the reader what to think or feel, it is important that you show them through natural dialogue and suggestive action.

Excessive exposition – avoid including excessive background information. Just include what is absolutely necessary to the understanding of the story.

Sustaining narrative tension – while most manuscripts contained some tension, often this was diffused among superfluous information and details. Your prose needs to be sharp and well paced throughout to maintain the reader's interest.

Weak characterisation – the success of a story relies on the author's ability to create realistic and believable characters. An issue with some of the manuscripts in the Fiction category was that characters tended to be quite clichéd and wooden. Populate stories with complex characters, and bring them to life with realistic dialogue, thoughts and action.

Universality in Non-fiction – while writing from a personal perspective can sometimes be effective and engaging, non-fiction prose needs to appeal to a wider audience to find a market.

Judges' Overview: Poetry Award

It was unanimously agreed that this year’s poetry submissions were the most impressive in the competition’s history. Their diversity in themes, techniques and experimentation showed once again why IP remains one of Australia’s leading publishers of poetry. Such were the quality of the works, it proved a challenge to agree upon the Long-list, let alone our very worthy winners.

From a publisher's perspective, poetry continues to be a 'hard sell', so the entries that placed had to show originality, conciseness of expression, a poetic use of language, a facility with structural principles, a wide scope of subject matter and a style that did not call attention to itself.

The less succcessful entries sometimes read more like prose with line breaks and did not develop the intensity of emotion and accuracy of expression we expect of publishable poetry.

Since poetry is supposed to be more economic than prose, excessive use of adjectives and adverbs and inaccurate imagery will undercut the effectiveness of the poetry.

Poems do have a structure, though this may vary, depending on the form of the poem, but judges look for dramatic openings and endings. Poems without these structural elements are often viewed as flat or too open-ended.

Overall, though, the judges were very impressed by the quality of the entries and had to work hard to decide among them.

Judges' Overview: YA / Junior Prose Award

We were pleased to see so many entries in our Young Adult / Junior Prose category this year. The overall standard of entries has definitely improved from previous years, and the judges saw some engaging storytelling, convincing characterisation, original premises and intriguing plot elements. Our final decision-making certainly wasn't simple, with a number of strong contenders, and we are already looking forward to next year's competition!

[see next column for the award results]

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Your Deal

Deal 1: To celebrate our success in the various Premier's Reading Challenges, we're offering discounts when you order two or more of the selected picture books. You'll get 10% off your second title, 20% off your third title, 30% off your fourth title and 40% off your fifth title if you order all five at the same time. Eligible titles are I Love You Book, Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time), Christina's Matilda, Long Live Us!, The Sky Dreamer, I Love You Book, Lyli Meets the Stone Muncher, and Tiger Tames the Min Min. PLUS a flat rate of $10 shipping on two or more books any where in Australia.

Deal 2: Project Earth-mend Bundle! Order all three of The Greenhouse Effect, Global Cooling and Tiger Tames the Min Min for a bundle price of $40, plus FREE shipping anywhere in Australia.

Deal 3: IP Anniversary Special. Order ANY IP title for a 15% discount, plus FREE shipping.

Order by 15 March from sales@ipoz.biz with Deal 1, Deal 2 or Deal 3 as your Subject. Include your postal address and whether you want to pay by EFT or PayPal.

Top of Page




Amelia Walker

Sound and Bundy

Heather Taylor Johnson

Letters to My Lover from a Small Mountain Town


David P Reiter

My Planets: a fictive memoir


Laura Jan Shore

Water Over Stone


Geoff Page

Coda for Shirley


Duncan Richardson

Ultra Soundings


E A Gleeson

Maisie and The Black Cat Band


Stuart Cooke

Edge Music


Janet Reid

The Ruby Bottle


Ian Corner

Profiling Leadership Discipline






Best Fiction Award: Winner, Peter Kay (TAS), Blood

It's 1991. Rob, an advertising professional, is suffering from a moral crisis in the confines of his 14th floor office, when his dead father Andrew climbs through the window, wearing a pair of Cuban heeled boots and carrying a large blue suitcase. Inside the suitcase is a Space-Time-Accessor-Navigator, or STAN. When Andrew asks Rob to help him film an exposé of the Darwin bombing, Rob suddenly finds himself removed from his situation and catapulted back to the year 1942...

In 1964, 17 year old Selena Wakefield is having a baby. When she awakes to find her files marked BFA, she realises that she has been duped into signing her baby over to an adoption agency. Unable to discover the whereabouts of her child, the incident haunts her for years, until one of her paintings is hung on the wall of an art gallery and begins to moan...

Also encompassing themes of depression, advertising ethics and gay rights, Peter Kay's experimental novella Blood is a far-reaching and multi-layered piece that must be read to be believed. His clean, sharp prose and poignant voice transport the reader through different times, places and points of view as smoothly and effortlessly as a time machine. Playfully eccentric in places and heart-achingly sad in others, with a dark, comedic vein lying just below the surface, Blood is an exceptional work of fiction.

PeterKBorn in Canberra, Peter Kay has lived for the last 30 years in southern Tasmania. He has written fiction, features, news journalism and literary criticism for The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, Nation Review, The Weekend Australian, Playboy and Tracks. Blood, his first novel, won him a Varuna Fellowship and is part of a Ph. D. project at the Central Queensland University. Peter has a B.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Canberra and an M. Litt. in Creative Writing from Central Queensland University.  

Best Fiction Award: Highly Commended, Christian Baines (NSW), The Beast Without

On any given night, in any city in the world, somebody will die before sunrise and most of them will die alone. I speak, not of the peaceful, 'tucked up in bed' deaths, which mark the passing of the fortunate, but rather the deaths that go unseen and often unmourned...

The unrelenting pace of this daringly provocative and sexually charged tale of 'blood shades' and newly transformed werewolves will keep you rapidly turning pages from the first chapter right through to the end. Narrated in the 1st person and set against the backdrop of Syndey's famous nightclub district, Reylan's thirst for male blood as he searches for new victims is truly unnerving, and secures The Beast Without a position amongst the best of the vampire genre.

Born in Queensland, Christian Baines has worked as a freelance arts journalist, screenwriter, director and actor, a career path that has inspired him to write about blood sucking monsters – plus the occasional ChrisBvampire. An ‘all round culture geek,’ he completed his Master of Arts in Creative Writing at UTS in 2010. His passions include travel, theatre and classic horror films. His urban fantasy short story, "The Entropist" was published by Gay E-books in 2010. His short story “The Faggot Prince of Death Metal” has been announced as a finalist in the Sydney Mardi Gras Short Story Competition 2012.

Best Fiction Award: 1st Commended, Keith Chittleborough (VIC), Sheepless in Pukapunyal

Thom Mann wakes up mortally hung-over, feels wet grass probing his naked butt, and doesn't have to be the most powerful psychic in the Southern Hemisphere—which he is—to know something disastrous happened last night...

This fantastically quirky and sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious story follows the plight of Thom Mann as he joins the Psychological Operations Unit of the Australian Army, and attempts to put his psychic powers to good use, i.e., to save the world.

Encompassing ASIO operatives, Christian terrorist organisations and apocalyptic viruses, the narrative is fast paced and futuristic with plenty of drama, intrigue and titillating affairs to keep readers interested.

Keith Chittleborough was born head first in 1982. He holds a Bachelor of Behavioral Neuroscience, majoring in Psychology, and a Masters of Clinical Audiology. He currently works as an audiologist in KeithCMelbourne. This is, however, all a cleverly constructed façade to hide the fact that there is something not quite right inside his brains. For at night, he strips to his underpants, prostrates himself before his laptop, and abuses the English tongue by writing transgressive, comic fiction.  One day all humanity will know his name, and they will quiver… like a large, delicious jelly.

Best Creative Non-Fiction: Winner, Simon Kleinig (TAS), Frenchman's Cap, Story of a Mountain

Known as 'The Mystery Mountain of the West', the perilous terrain and wild isolation of Frenchman's Cap has captivated the imagination of climbers and mountaineers across the world.

After 12 years spent delving into the archives of government departments, examining library microfilm, and reading old newspapers, diaries and letters, Simon Kleinig shares the stories that open 'tantalising windows to the past'; tales of explorers, escaped convicts, prospectors and bushwalkers, as they negotiate the sheer cliffs, impenetrable forests and deep waters of this enticing wilderness.

More than just a collection of mountaineering and adventure tales though, Kleinig's Frenchman's Cap, Story of a Mountain is an expertly researched academic text that draws together disparate social, cultural and geographical histories of the mountain, and inexorably links them to the history of Tasmania itself.

Simon Kleinig was born in Adelaide. A lifelong passion for the wilderness regions of Tasmania led him to write articles for Wild magazine and several SimonKother publications. He considers himself a "history enthusiast", rather than a historian, and loves delving into the human side of history. His first book, Jack Thwaites: Pioneer Tasmanian Bushwalker and Conservationist  was published in 2008 and was short listed for the Tasmanian Book Prize. A second book, Rambles In Western Tasmania, is a collection of early twentieth century newspaper articles written by Charles Whitham, edited by Simon and published in 2010.

Best Creative Non-Fiction: Highly Commended, Anne Naylor (NSW), Because of Bipolar

Anne Naylor's book is an acutely honest and informative account of what it is like to live with Bipolar Disorder. Drawing on the positive aspects of the illness as well as the negative, Naylor draws you into her world of mania and depression through beautifully written vignettes, detailing her thoughts and experiences of the illness and its impact upon her life and those who love her.

Naylor also offers important advice and information to carers and other sufferers of Bipolar, and universalises her struggle by exploring attitudes towards mental illness in the workplace and the media.

Anne Naylor is an artist and (as yet unpublished) author. She has an individual style and a distinctive voice. Anne has written a memoir called Because of AnneNbipolar, which gives unique insights into mental illness - what it is like to have a mental illness, what people can do about it, how carers can cope and where to get help. Anne has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and is a qualified Auslan sign language interpreter.

Best Creative Non-Fiction: 1st Commended, Bronte Dee Jackson (VIC), Roman Daze

A beautifully scenic account of one woman's life-long love affair with Italy. Peppered with stunning imagery and interesting cultural insights, Jackson presents the country's quirks and eccentricities with the fondness of a local. She takes your hand as she walks the streets of Rome, infects you with her passion for the city and its surrounds, and guides you to all its hidden treasures.

Bronte Jackson has lived and worked in Rome for seventeen years.  Originally from Melbourne, she has written stories regularly, and recorded herBronteJ insights of life around her, since she was eight. Her writing for business and academic purposes won her the IBM academic prize at the University of South Australia in 2003. Her stories on life in Rome were accepted by The Age, the leading Melbourne newspaper in 2005. She won third place in the Rome Short Story Competition in 2010.  She regularly writes stories for her blog brontejackson.com about life in Rome and runs her own international Management Consulting practice. 

Best Creative Non-Fiction: 2nd Commended, Janene Carey (NSW), A Hospital Bed at Home

Inspired by her own experience of caring for her terminally ill mother, Carey explores the physical, emotional and psychological challenges faced by herself and other Australian caregivers in an acutely honest and sympathetic way, as they oversee the journey from the diagnosis of a terminal illness to the death of a loved one.

Janene Carey was born in Sydney and now lives on five acres in northern NSW with her husband and four children. She is a journalist with the Armidale Express JaneneCand also a research assistant at the University of New England. She wrote her creative non-fiction manuscript about home-based palliative care as part of a PhD in writing. Her freelance and scholarly articles have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Book Review, Perilous Adventures and TEXT Journal of Writing and Writing Courses. A chapter from ‘A Hospital Bed at Home’ was shortlisted for the 2010 Calibre Prize.

Best Poetry, Winner, Margaret Ruckert (NSW), Musefood

Against very stiff competition, Ruckert's work impressed the most with its first-rate writing and imaginative subject matter.

Modern, savvy and sharp-tongued, Tambourine’s musings on women in contemporary life explore a subject not often visited through verse. What could have easily been flighty or frivolous was instead a witty and honest social commentary, intertwined with varying shades of comedy and poignancy.

electric skin on the night watch, alert
her wrist watch, guaranteed to 500 metres
and when she works a room, she’s a periscope on legs
submerged for effect in a little black number
rivetingly tight, camouflaged danger, oceanic-black
she’s held together by codes for action under pressure
takes instruction from the manual on men and their movements
predictably slim, she’ll maintain position while convoys
steam through the target door to her dream – a ship
in the shape of a man, unescorted; this is no war

Margaret Owen Ruckert, educator and writer, is currently Café Poet at Limes Café, Lugarno, a delightful village suburb overlooking the George’s River. A former TAFE Science teacher, she now tutorsMargoR Literacy and Numeracy. In 2007 she won the National Poetry Competition of the Society of Women Writers, NSW. Margaret is facilitator of the Hurstville Discovery Writers Group and presents monthly workshops on writing. Published in newspapers, journals and anthologies, she explores the poetry of over 100 sweet foods in You Deserve Dessert.

Best Poetry, Highly Commended, Sugu Pillay (NZ), In Medias Res

A well-informed & travelled sequence of post structuralist narratives. Shifts effortlessly between New Zealand – with a seamless integration of Maori themes – and Asian locales, especially India, but is also informed by classical thinkers and artists. A challenging read, with its allusiveness, but one with rewards for those open to its startling juxtapositions and time warps.

who but the writer spies the ghost ship?
the promised presence divagates
yes, & who throws the six indeed?
the Weaver’s art of crime & punishment
of fabulist tales locked in the fabric

the word & its spectacle
attic musings of the textual mosaic
the only breathing space
a now a seed in her mouth
a gullet grown tree

Born and raised in Malaysia, Sugu Pillay has postgraduate degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and the University of London. Having taught English for several years, she began writing SuguPpoetry, fiction and plays in the 1990s. Her poems have appeared in various NZ journals while her short fiction, The Chandrasekhar Limit, was published in 2002. In 2009, her play, Serendipity, premiered in Wellington. Her second play, Salaam Pukekohe, was co-winner of Playmarket’s 2010 Write Out Loud script development programme. In Medias Res is a collection of her poems published from 1993 to 2011. A long time resident of Christchurch, Sugu now lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

Best Poetry, 1t Commended, E A Horne (NSW), If You Threw a Rock

Writes with conciseness, understatement and accessibility. There are several haiku-like short poems that are a good fit with other poems that show her facility with overseas locales and cultures as well as Australian ones.

Paris suddenly seemed cobwebby and conceited,
a sexy old sophisticate unable to comprehend
the allure of the unkempt libertine, unable to
compete with the divine ordinariness
of Australia. She sulked in stony grey silences
for five days straight, then flashed a defiant
thin blue thigh sky as we were leaving…

E A Horne has recently returned to live in Armidale in the Northern Tablelands of NSW after working as a LizHornespeechwriter in Melbourne for several years. A former co-editor of the New England Review, her poetry has appeared in Meanjin, Blue Dog Australian Poetry, Poetrix, Famous Reporter and various anthologies. “If you threw a rock” is her first collection of poems, and she is currently working on her first novel.

Best Poetry, 2nd Commended, Valerie Volk (SA), Even Grimmer Tales

In this eerie and satiric work, Volk calls upon minor and marginalised characters of well-known fairytales, achieving a rich and darkly-nuanced exercise of the imagination. Outdoing even the Brothers Grimm, Volk creates an unsettling sequence of adult fairy tales that write back to the originals, always with a clever though often macabre twist. Generally understated, the poems expose the dark underbelly of social pretense.

There was an axe, that bit is true. But there was no one
rushing through the door to wield it. Only me.
Funny the way the red stain merged into her dress.
Until the pool spread on the floor you really
couldn’t notice it. Now if she’d worn a blue dress
it would be a different story, wouldn’t it?
And then maybe my blood-red dreams
would be a different colour.

It’s taken many years of living, and work as a secondary teacher, tertiary lecturer and education ValerieVprogram director to get Valerie Volk to this point: another life as a writer. After decades of closet writing, her first collection of poems, In Due Season, won the national CALEB Prize for poetry in 2010, and her verse novel, A Promise of Peaches, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2011. Even Grimmer Tales is very different, and she is currently working on another verse novel.

Best Poetry, 3rd Commended, Chris Andrews (NSW), Lime Green Chair

Assured in tone, and often interesting in angle, these poems have an endearing social commentary and an willingness to experiment with surrealist forms.

So this is how the mist lifts in a city
that some gifted children consider the pits
while others at the cutting edge of retro
throw a pinch of wishbone ash into the mix;
it lifts like this off a mirror-still river
where, as it is everywhere, cruelty is
unmistakable as a triangle, but
midwinter's riddled with brilliant days like this.

Chris Andrews was born in Newcastle (New South Wales) in 1962. He grew up and studied in Melbourne. From 1995 to 2008 he taught in the ChrisAFrench programme at the University of Melbourne. Since 2009, he has been teaching at the University of Western Sydney. He has published a collection of poems (Cut Lunch, Indigo, 2002) and translated books of fiction by Latin American authors, including César Aira’s Ghosts (New Directions, 2008) and Roberto Bolaño’s Distant Star (Harvill, 2004).

Best Young Ault / Junior Prose: Winner
Janet Reid, Qld, Granny Rags

Granny Rags is the story of 10-year-old Tim, and the adventures and struggles he faces after moving to a small country town.

Janet Reid has achieved a very high level of characterisation; Tim and his new best friend, Lockie, make a credible and entertaining pair, with Lockie providing humour throughout the story by his impulsiveness and tall stories.

'That …' said Lockie, '… is where Granny Rags lives.'

'Granny Rags?'

A wide grin spread across Lockie's face. 'Granny Rags,' he whispered, 'is a witch. Well, that's what m'dad reckons anyway. And the kids at school reckon that too. She's really old and she wears raggy clothes, like she's got nothin' decent to wear, and she's got a long black stick that she hits people with, 'specially kids. She hates kids. And she snarls, like this,' Lockie pulled a face, 'and her teeth are all black …'

Soon Tim is persuaded to go and meet Granny Rags himself, and as the story progresses he begins to form a relationship with the reclusive old lady. But then Tim starts to realise that something isn't quite right – that Granny Rags is in danger, with no one to turn to for help.

Janet Reid's writing is tight and clean, and the tension in the manuscript builds to a clear climax. Many of the challenges Tim faces will be relevant and familiar to children, and Tim proves himself a resourceful, brave and determined main character, despite being a quiet, overlooked sort of boy.

With its likeable and memorable characters, realistic dialogue and dramatic scenes, 'Granny Rags' is an engrossing and heart-warming read.

Janet Reid grew up on a dairy farm in Queensland JanetRand spent many hours making up and acting out stories, often neglecting her chores. Later, she became a primary school teacher, working in many different areas in Queensland. Now she likes to use both her farm and classroom experiences to write for children. Janet's first children's chapter book, The Ruby Bottle, was published by IP this year.

Best Young Adult / Junior Prose: Highly Commended, Lindsey Little (TAS), James Munkers: Earth Guardian

James Munkers: Earth Guardian starts with a bang, as 14-year-old Jim is told by his parents that the family is moving – to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Jim's voice is engaging, irreverent and believable, and his narration ensures the story is lively.

'I think my parents are possessed,' he relates. 'No, really. Here they sit at the dinner table among the bowls of cabbage and carrots, smiling and laughing as they discuss the end of my life. They're possessed. There is no other explanation.'

And after the move to the country, Jim's life becomes even stranger, as he discovers he has latent magical powers and is destined to save the world – though how or from what, he's not quite sure. With a cast of original, at times hilarious characters by his side, Jim becomes embroiled in a battle between good and evil that escalates to a chaotic and action-packed climax!

Lindsey Little has produced a polished story with a strong voice, creative concept and evocative settings. The action and cynical humour throughout the manuscript will appeal particularly to teenage boys.

Lindsey Little was born in Adelaide but grew up in the Tasmanian countryside in a half-built house full of German Shepherds.  She studied creative writing at college and university, but ended up pursuing history rather than English to honours and masters levels. LindseyL She received a scholarship to study at the University of York in England and completed her masters degree in Medieval Studies with distinction in 2009. Now back in Tasmania, Lindsey works full-time at a bookshop and spends the rest of her time writing.  James Munkers: Earth Guardian is her first novel.

Best Young Adult / Junior Prose: Commended
Ray Neilson (SA), Eyes of the Jaguar

In 'Eyes of the Jaguar' 16-year-old Ben, an Australian boy living in the Central American country of Belize, discovers two huge emeralds in an underwater cave on his father's property. These emeralds were once the eyes of a jaguar god in an ancient Mayan temple, and soon Ben finds himself in a race to locate the lost temple and put the emeralds back in their rightful resting place, before a corrupt shaman can get his hands on them.

Ray Neilson brings the Central American setting to life with authentic details of the land, people and cultures. The prose is clean, and the story boasts some tense, well-crafted scenes. The unusual plot and vivid setting make 'Eyes of the Jaguar' an intriguing read.

Ray Neilson has been a truck driver, rubbish remover, bricky’s labourer, chicken catcher and bouncer. But mostly he has taught English and ESL in RayNeilsonAustralia and Singapore. He and his wife have a taste for travel in the more colourful parts of the world, which has resulted in a couple of travel books, “Travels with Odie” and “Travels in Arabia 2007”, both available on Amazon. Ray believes there are not enough true adventure stories in schools today which offer inspiration to boys. That’s why he wrote “Eyes of the Jaguar”, the result of a trip to Belize and Guatemala.

Best First Book Award: Winner
Karen Zelas (NZ), Night's Glass Table

Night's Glass Table is an exceptional poetry collection featuring engaging and evocative imagery. Karen Zelas demonstrates a sound use of conventions, and her writing is well-crafted and technically excellent.

The poems in Night's Glass Table are tight and emotionally powerful, and deal with themes such as death, grief and love. Zelas chooses her words with care, and her poems are always eloquent and evocative, whether she is making a social comment, such as this snippet from "Giacometti's Fancy":

a roomful of women
arms pinned to skinny hips
chins tilted
in submission

not in man's image
but his fancy

Or recreating historical scenes, as in "What Is Yet To Come":

the ponies stumble snorts of steam
ice-up their balaclavas spindle legs
in clefts sleds overturned wild eyes
man-haul four to a sled whiteout
feet placed blindly the going
stronger than the return
cold stiffens the jaw hunger weakens
not the spirit

… I may be some time

you feel my tread as you lie
where frost never thaws
ice splinters in your eyes
and in your ears
the distant groaning of the sea

An impressive and moving collection, Night's Glass Table is a pleasure to read, and is sure to be enjoyed many times over by the reader.

Karen Zelas lives in quake-struck Christchurch. A former psychiatrist and psychotherapist, she has been Fiction Editor of Takahē for the last five years. Her poetry has been widely published within New Zealand, including in Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, KarenZTakahē, and broadcast on radio; also Australian ezines Snorkel and Eclecticism and recently blogged by Interlitq (UK). Several anthologies contain her work. She was editor of Crest to Crest: Impressions of Canterbury, prose and poetry (Wily Publications, 2009) and her historical novel Past Perfect was published by Wily in 2010. She is married with children and grandchildren.

Best First Book: Highly Commended
Nathan Mahney (VIC), Jack Manley and the Warlord of Infinity

Jack Manley is an intergalactic time-travelling superhero. He's had his share of adventures, whether it was fighting Gammasaurs from Dimension Z, stopping an invasion of mento-scarabs from the planet Gangajang or saving the world from Robo-Devils, but this time he may have met his match: the Warlord of Infinity.

Jack Manley and the Warlord of Infinity is brilliantly sharp and funny, with a strong plot and good use of dialogue. Jack Manley himself leaps from the page with his engaging blend of courage and cockiness.

'I got muscles, more cunnin' than book smarts an' a right hook that can put the fear o' God into God himself,' Jack says when asked what his particular skills are. 'Now tell me the plan so I can ignore it.'

Nathan Mahney has created an original, well-crafted story complete with heroes, villains, portals and lots of weapons. Easy to read and full of action, 'Jack Manley and the Warlord of Infinity' takes the reader on a fast-paced, entertaining adventure.

Nathan Mahney grew up in country Victoria, nourished on a healthy diet of swords, sorcery, lightsabres, transforming robots, mashed potatoes, NathanMninjas, and super powers.  He has had short stories published in a number of anthologies, and his children's book Ug and the Giant's Backyard was released by Flat Chat Press in 2005.  Since moving to Melbourne he has become a husband and father, yet somehow he still finds time to write.  He no longer eats mashed potatoes.

Best First Book: First Commended
Carol Chandler (NSW), Sphinx

Sphinx is a brooding collection of short stories focusing on the inner lives of a group of contrasting characters of different sexes, ages and nationalities. It skilfully grapples with a wide range of themes, including sexual abuse, relationships, estrangement, loneliness, racism and identity, and is an engrossing and affecting read.

Carol Chandler's sound understanding of literary techniques, particularly tension, description and characterisation, make this a collection of great depth. Characters are well developed and believable, the style is mature and the stories flow well, and some beautiful images and descriptions give the stories a poetic feel.

Carol Chandler is a writer and editor who has lived in England, France and Italy. She currently lives in CarolCSydney. Her short stories have won awards and have been shortlisted and published in many of Australia’s major literary magazines, as well as in North America.  She has also co-edited Written in Sand and is the editor of Bondi Tides an anthology from the Bondi Writers’ Group.

Best First Book: Second Commended
Ross Gillett (VIC),The Looking Glass Apprentice

'The Looking Glass Apprentice' is a poetry collection that touches on a range of different themes, such as nature, natural disasters, relationships, and childhood games and memories. The poetry is sometimes visual and sometimes narrative-based, with poems such as "Black Saturday Windows" being particularly compelling and topical:

Delivered early, waiting for walls,
they lay on their backs beside charred brickwork.

They had been blasted dark at the edges.
Glass sagged in the frames.

He looked down at the only views he'd ever see through them.
Vistas of soil, weeds fused into the panes.

Ross Gillett's sound use of description and language has resulted in a diverse, often evocative collection.

Ross Gillett’s poems have appeared in The Age and The Australian and in magazines in Australia and the RossGUnited States. They have featured in Radio National’s Poetica program and three times in Black Inc’s The Best Australian Poems. His book The Sea Factory was one of the Five Islands Press New Poets 2006 series. His awards include the Broadway Poetry Prize, the Melbourne Poet’s Union National Poetry Prize and the Fellowship of Australian Writers John Shaw Neilson Award. Ross has held a Varuna Residential Writing Fellowship and currently holds an Australia Council Literature Board emerging writer’s grant.

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