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Author Success Stories Podcast - Melinda Hammond
#155 Never Give Up On Your Publishing Dreams, with Cassie Hamer
00:00:00 00:47:11

#155 Never Give Up On Your Publishing Dreams, with Cassie Hamer

If at first you don’t succeed at this thing called writing…keep writing, and learning, and writing some more.

Cassie Hamer, author of  After the Party, has put in the hard yards, earning her Masters in Creative Writing, and then unlearning most of what she’d been studying for years as she searched to find voice.

And lucky for us, she found it with her debut novel.

Cassie opens up about the fears, doubts and joys of success as a published author. We even get a sneak preview of the joys of lunching with her editor.

In this episode, we cover a range of topics which can be summed – sort of – as follows:

  • Publishers want to publish your book
  • literary versus popular fiction
  • the value of Higher degree Creative Writing courses
  • what it’s like to meet your editor for lunch
  • a writing place of your own
  • finding and trusting your writing voice
  • rejection is part of the writing life
  • celebrate your wins
  • what is your next book?
  • writing is a personal journey


You can find out more about Cassie and her writing here.

You can find out more about Author Success Stories Magazine and TIPS For Writers here.

Read Full Transcript

Mel Today have with me the beautiful Cassie Hamer. Hi Casey.

Cassie Hi Mel. I love your podcast. You have such great warmth and enthusiasm and it really is lovely to be speaking with you.

Mel I'm really excited everyone to introduce a new writer and the book, 'After The Party. Now I had no idea what to expect but when I read it, it was thirty two young children at a birthday party.

Cassie I have three young children myself and they're 6, 8 and 10 and I have hosted quite a few parties here at my home on their behalf. I always find that kids parties are constantly teetering on the edge of total disaster because you have so many children they're so hyped up there are games of competition. There's far too much sugar causing total chaos. So I thought what what it a scenario into which to put an inciting incident. So as you say the party is a complete disaster the laser WAKES UP LIKE NOTHING'S READY TO GO. SHE'S ABOUT TO HAVE 33 children land on her doorstep which they do. And it continues to be disastrous. And she makes it through though she struggles through until the end and reads It's a relief that there will be kids and picked up and taken home. Well, all except one little girl who she discovers hiding in a dog kennel. And at first Lisa thinks well the mom's just running late. No problem. This is true and she gets a note and the note is from Ellie's mother and the note explains that in fact she's not coming back to pick up the child at all and that she's asking Lisa to take care of this child and then laces put into these massive conundrum what do I do. And the story takes off from there.

Mel It's really interesting because when I set out to to research for this interview Cassie I wasn't quite sure where this novel was going to fit. And one of the reviews that I read is this reviewer thought it was going to be a romance and I thought oh we must have another book here but it's not it's far. I think it's far deeper than that. It's got a lot of elements in it. We can all relate to it. We all cringe away from from some of the things that happen in it. But basically this book has a lot more depth and resonance than then just a quick story doesn't it?

Cassie I think I think it did. Well thank you very much for saying that but. I love books that have lice and chives and I think. Women in particular we are complex creatures. We are interested in a range of different things. One minute we can be talking about the dash in the next minute we're talking about the state of the planet and politics and we are not we cannot be pigeonholed. And my reading interests are pretty eclectic. They like to read across a range of genres. But I have to say my absolute literary. Goddess is Leon Moriarty. And reading her books was just a complete light bulb moment for me. And I don't claim in any way to have her ability because I think she is quite remarkable. But I did read from her books the concept that you can be quite serious subjects. I do it with a lightness of touch and that's absolutely what I set out to do with the party. I had written two scripts previous which were very serious and very sad. And I think that was a hangover from the fact that I had study a master's in creative writing at university and I think I was writing what I thought I should write you know art and writing degrees at universities have a very low tree end. And that's really just not me. I'm just not that really stupid serious substantial person. I like to love. I like to have fun. I also like to joke about politics and serious issues. And I think that's what I was trying to achieve with the body.

Mel This book does have some big questions in it. Who is in charge of the upbringing of a child.

Cassie Yeah. And when we talk collective responsibility to children I guess.

Mel As a teacher we I come across this issue all the time. How far do we go and where are the boundaries.

Cassie Yes. With Lisa and her sister Jamie. What inspired me to do that is that when I became a mom it was probably a surprise to me as to how maternal I felt not only to my own children but to everyone else's children. Now I'm not a particularly wonderful mother by any stretch of the imagination besides my three daughters. But I do have a great affinity for children. And if I see a baby in a shopping center on that person you will run up and try to wangle my way into holding the baby within five seconds of the mother do have a great sense that all children deserve love and deserve a safe environment that as we know that is just not the reality. And. I'm very interested in the foster care system and the out-of-home care system. I think there are many wonderful people in it. But I also think there are some children that fall through the cracks. And I just can't think of a worse do to a child take them out of their own home in a vulnerable situation and then to put them in an even more vulnerable situation does seems unconscionable to me. And that's something I wanted to injecting.

Mel You've done your Masters in Creative Writing and the idea that literature has to be serious. And I wouldn't mind unpacking that a little bit because once you've done I guess are higher studies course like that. And once you've started to do your own writing and we're going to talk a little bit about some of the literary competitions and things that you've entered with your short stories. What does it take to to find your own voice through all that?

Cassie It takes a lot of writing basically and it takes the personal journey of arriving at the point where you actually don't care about what other people think of your rating choices or your writing choices. Nothing makes me more cross now than genre snobbery and I see it everywhere you look at the literary pages about major newspapers. They're full of wonderful books of course they're wonderful books. They're of a very particular genre. And that's usually literary fiction or it's crime fiction. Now why is crime fiction which is very commercially popular considered more worthy of being in literary pages and women's commercial fiction which you almost never see in these review pages. It makes me very cross. I have to say and I think it's a throwback to patriarchy and sexism in that crime and literary novels have traditionally been mainly reached by and for men. But I think this is huge appetite for women's stories written by women and believing in to domestic experiences. And I think when really well written the mystic experience is a fascinating area to explore because as you said before you took this thing relatable and I think we often read because we want to learn more about ourselves. And I think fiction does allow us away to explore that and develop our feelings of empathy I suppose.

Mel I hear what you're saying because popular fiction has been debated for a very long time.

Cassie I think we all know that it does feel right.

Mel Sam just bought the Norton's Anthology of Literary Theory. I studied that when I was at Uni. Theory has just exploded in the last 20 years as we as we break off into all these different factions of literary theory and what makes a good story and what doesn't. And it's really interesting that the debate is still happening in our media because we've been very spoiled here right around the road. We had people like Rachel Jones and Natasha Alistair and always guys Alexander they're all fighting very hard for everyone's rights to write not only good stories but deep and meaningful stories as well.

Cassie Yeah I think so. You mentioned before was that before writing this book I had done a lot of short story writing and short stories saying in Australia has a very literary focus. There aren't many kind of commercial short stories compilations so I think through that I did try to hone my ability to write in that way. And that experience now informs the way in which I write the longer form fiction. I must say that. It's lovely to be free of kind of the shackles of literary fiction and I think. I've finally found my voice and my natural voice and I know that because it's not such a struggle to sit down and write. Writing in a literary or literary style does not come naturally to me. Whereas writing a book like after the party was just the title. It was so enjoyable to sit down at the computer every day and and ash it out. And that was quite a different experience to the short stories which require so much plumbing of your emotional bits and stripping back and considering every word. And I do love a really well-written short story but I also like the freedom of the longer form allows you as a writer.

Mel And it's that whole thing of finding your voice I think and it's interesting because what we used to joke about in literary fiction and I'm pretty sure that the joke is still around is that you write the story and then you go back and you stick in the metaphors and similes as a customer later I don't know.

Cassie But I mean certainly with short stories The brilliance comes out in the editing. There's no doubt. I mean that's probably true of all fiction. I would have to say I had an interesting analogy the other day where a writer said that that the story itself is perfect so the story itself exists in your subconscious and it's already perfect and your job as a writer is dust to uncover it. And so your first draft is kind of word vomit where you just get it all out. It is your second job is chiseling away and actually sculpting and uncovering a beautiful piece of artwork that lies underneath. I just really like that analogy.

Mel Yes it's true isn't it it's finding the story. I hate editing every one of these oh that's why I love Dragon Dictation. I can just tell my stories and then move on to the next one. I think we should all get someone else to edit our stories for us.

Cassie Oh I agree. It is no doubt that After the Party would not ever have seen the light of day unless I got the manuscript assessment on it. After I'd done the first draft and if I could make any recommendation to an emerging writer it would be to get someone. Who is not a friend or family member to read your work and. You have to get totally unbiased and critical feedback and you really need to consider that feedback carefully. Whether you accept that or redacted is your decision in the end. You need to have valid reasons as to why you did it. The feedback of a qualified professional.

Mel And manuscript assessment they look you do have to get a qualified professional to to take that on board and we're talking about structural made it's right at the very beginning of editing process because sometimes you too close to your story and you don't see it. Now you said you've written three novels. And did you go. Did you get the first to assist as well.

Cassie Yeah I did. One of the reasons was that I at the time that I write them particularly have many contacts in the writing world and there really was no one who I could just ask to do it. So I did my research and found some amazing professional editors who both of them books wanted to give me a report. Which was extremely useful just detailing major issues with the book with after the party. I took it to an editor called Kim Swagel and she came back to me not only with an overall report but she'd actually annotated the entire manuscript which if you know anyone who knows anything about editing will understand that there is a huge amount of work. And it was an unexpected if a surprise but she was really direct as well and to write things in the margin like what is this story. Where is this story going. It doesn't belong in this story. So she was very clear about where the problems were. And after I gave myself a few minutes to just. Inhale and exhale and you know have a little mental breakdown of that. She's absolutely spot on and I would be a fool if I don't follow her recommendations. So yeah I'm so grateful to her doing that. I just think it was priceless really. I know these assessments are expensive and it is involved to be able to pay for one day if you can muster the funds to do it. Give it to yourself as a birthday present or a Christmas present. It's absolutely worthwhile.

Cassie We were over it. I put it out to be published but I hired a professional group to do that.

Cassie It's quite frightening how many pairs of eyes can look at a manuscript and you will still never see the same things. And yes it is pricey but editing is one of the areas. On which I just might think you can scheme. I think it's essential. I've not yet heard of a writer who can produce an immaculate first draft and just don't think that person exists unless it's Tim Winton or someone like that. But. I just think it's almost impossible to do.

Mel I would say do we want to meet them anyway. Do we want to hear about those perfect people aren't they. I'm going to suggest not. So you've actually done it a little bit backwards. Employing people. Now you've done it a little bit back to front. You've actually written your manuscript you've got the assessment. Then you started pitching it is that correct.

Cassie Yeah that's correct. So what happened was that I wrote the manuscript in 2016. I gave my self six months to do it because at the site at the time I was studying a teaching qualification and I had six months left on that degree but I was only going one subject so I did have quite a bit of time on my hands so I bashed out this in six months for him to give me the report rewrite quite a substantial portion of it and then started to query agents which was a completely soul destroying. Eight months of my life I would say I'll send it out plentiful agents and I was just looking at the numbers that I a third of them never responded to of them expressed some interest but ultimately didn't pick it up and the risk said nigh night basically no. So that was a really. Difficult period. But I mean I guess by that point I'd actually been through a fair bit of rejection and it is part of the writing life and I think you probably get better at dealing with it the more it happens to you. And so after all the agents had passed on. I wasn't particularly shocked or surprised by that but I still really liked manuscript and when I reread it I wouldn't completely cringe and look for runaway and solve in the bathroom.

Cassie So far it's actually not that bad. I'm still going to persist with this thing. So. I decided to leap on in the process of meeting the publishers and put it out into the beautifully named slush piles of Australia. And it was going towards the end of that process again which had been pretty much an epic failure. When I realized that Rachel Jones whose books I love and I'd read. The art of keeping secrets which I would classify as a women's general fiction novel and it was published by Harlequin and I traditionally knew Harlequin as a romance imprint and had assumed that I wouldn't be interested in my book because it's not a romance book. This is a love story but it's very much a subplot. I don't realize that Rachel was published by Harlequin. You know what. Maybe maybe they might be interested. So I set it all with very low expectations and heights and then a few weeks later I actually got an email from them and I just assumed it was going to be another rejection. So with a very heavy heart I opened it and it said oh your manuscript has been put in the queue to be read by an editor.

Cassie And I think my hopes went up from zero to one and then a few weeks on from that I got another email asking me to come in for a meeting with the senior publisher and the publishing assistant. And at that point I forwarded it to my husband and I said a few swear words and said this might actually be a real thing. And it all went from there. The meeting went really well I was quite shocked by how much they seemed like the manuscript to the point where I was thinking I would actually tell you about the same book because I just had so many bad things about it that I really believe that someone. Was finally going to champion it. But I think as I said in the acknowledgements finding a public shot is a lot like blind dating. You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or in my case my princesses. But you know when you get rejected it's not or it's not often because of the quality of the work. It's just because it's not what they're looking for at that moment. So they've already got too much.

Cassie And while it's very hard not to take it personally. Rejection isn't always a reflection of the manuscript that you've submitted. Yeah and it's interesting isn't it because at any stage any time alone that compendium you could've given up. Oh easily. But the only person who would have lost down would be myself. I mean the rest of the world doesn't care about my writing and my manuscript. And I think the thing that kept me going was the thought of being. A really old woman. And thinking to myself. Why didn't I just keep trying. Why didn't I just have another guy. And I just didn't want to regret not having given it everything. And the other thing is that I just really like writing and I think even if after the party hadn't been published I still would have been writing anyway. Just because it is something that gives me great pleasure and satisfaction and I think. You have to start doing it for that reason because there's not a lot of money in it. So you have to genuinely love it because it takes up a lot of time.

Mel It takes up a lot of your your mental space as well as you as you worry this thing through. I'm going to ask everyone because I'm a complete sticky book. Talk us through the meeting with the publisher. I don't think I've ever asked anyone that question before.

Mel What's it like walking into a meeting. I know I know you're in Sydney shaking your boots getting off the bus at George Street and the publisher. I know Harlequin are really champion Australian waters. I have a lot of Hollywood movies on the podcast when you walk in and you meet someone you we met at the senior publishing editor as being someone really really 20 foot tall. What was it like.

Cassie That's exactly what I thought it was gonna be like. I thought it was gonna be some really imposing scary person who'd be really critical and I look at it's not ad he's x y z where you need to improve it. I was really nervous. I wore an outfit that made me feel good about myself because I thought I'll just I just need every ounce of confidence that I can muster. But I think I also went in with an attitude that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And this was my shot. This was my toe in the door and I was not going to die wondering. I was just going to give it everything I had. I actually probably didn't need to sell myself to them in a way. It was almost the reverse.

Cassie It was in trying to tell me how much they love it and I think that was more shocking than anything really was their enthusiasm and during my time my publisher is this the most gorgeous positive soft lovely woman that you could imagine because I'm being when you're. Wearing you imagine publishes as it's very severe. I keep it types who are just too busy from the likes of image writers but I don't think it's like that at all. I want to publish books. I love books and reading lovers dislike us writers. It's just that they are constrained by how much can be published. I know it was the most wonderful experience. It was really the first time in my life that someone had told me to my face. I actually liked my writing and I walked out every day feeling ten foot pole and I knew it wasn't across the line. Joe had explained that they still needed to take the manuscript to an acquisitions meeting.

Cassie So basically the publisher still has to go and convince everyone else in the company that the book is worth. Printing. And so she asked me for a bit more information and I supplied some synopses for further books that I might write which I actually hadn't really thought about at all. And I think there's some potential marketing ideas where I thought I could contribute publicizing the book and Jared took all of that information to the acquisitions meeting which happened a couple of weeks later and then I had that meeting I was in. The bowels of Central Station and my phone rang and the train is approaching. And so there's washing of win and it's noise and I knew what the phone call was just quaking with nerves. And anyway it was Joe and she said. We're going to publish. And I was so surprised and unsure and then I had to e-mail her later on. Just I check that I'd actually heard the right thing because I was thinking. She'd say yes I'm not quite sure. I couldn't really hear everything. But yeah it's cyanide spray reliving those memories because a lot has happened since then and you very quickly get an amazing feeling. And that's another thing I would recommend to all writers is to celebrate the wins along the way even those really small ones getting shortlisted and getting a highlight come in and celebrate it and hold on to it because that is what keeps you going in the funds. I think you would experience that Mel right.

Mel I think it's exciting experiencing it again now as I listened to you. This is something that we don't get often get to hear everyone.

Cassie There's lots of ways this podcast could've gone today. We could talk about short stories we could talk about pitching with metal those things very rarely do we get to celebrate the good times with writers So tell us about the reviews because I'm sure there's been reviews coming in already.

Mel They have mostly they've been really kind and supportive and I always read them with trepidation because I know that reading is a subjective experience and I don't expect that everyone is going to love this book. But I Billy heart that a lot of readers will take it into their heart. But the response so far has been really positive. I do you know everyone says diary good rates. Of course we all do. And there has been a two star review and I read it and I didn't feel as terrible as what I thought I might feel. I just sort of spot. Yeah well that's that's a point of view that's a valid point of view. Reader just didn't quite engage with the material. That's fine. It doesn't make me a worse person. It doesn't devalue the book. It just is what it is reading is about often a lot about pace like food raids is a place where readers express their points of view and they pace. But yeah it's actually been really good over the years I've developed some contacts with other book bloggers because that's something I did for a while and I've read it and they've been really wonderful about it and they just engage with material that's all you can ask of a reviewer is that a cook with an open mind and an open heart and I try to understand what the author was trying to achieve that is all I ask. If you don't like it fine. If you tried to figure out what the intention was. That's all.

Mel I think someone likened your novel to Bridget Jones's Diary.

Cassie Yeah. I. Saw that and I thought that's probably not far off because Lisa the main character she's little bit of it it's as well like she is she's gorgeous and I love her. But there are definitely moments where public is blown away. Have suggested that she was a little too Daffy. I think that actually that description is what comes to mind when I think of Bridget Jones. I decide slightly fumbling but always trying and really really lovely person and sometimes falling short of the mark. So. I thought that was not a comparison I'd thought of before. But I think it's probably pretty spot on actually.

Mel There's not too many people who don't like Bridget Jones's Diary that I've come across in my life. Especially with Colin Firth I think he's pretty cute as well.

Cassie I don't think you can trust a person who doesn't like Bridget Jones really.

Mel And it brings us right back round to that literaryvs. commercial fiction. You know a good story is a good story regardless of how you categorize it. Now I'm not going to start you off again on that one.

Mel Tell us about your residency on the south coast.

Cassie It's it's an extraordinary place. It's a really remote property about oh probably 30 kilometres from the nearest township. And you drive on a dirt track to get there and you're going through the mountain range and then at the last minute you descend into this valley and it just opens up into this beautiful green grassland with cows and kangaroos and wombats and you think Oh what is this paradise that I've arrived in and there's this gorgeous Shoalhaven River which is wide and expensive it's just a really picturesque place. So it's where the renowned Australian artist Arthur Boyd. It's a lot of his work and was the inspiration behind a lot of his artwork. And he had a homestead. And he did that property to the New South Wales Government to be used as an artist in residence eyes and they've since built a few cottages on the property. And one of them is a writer's cottage and it's a very cozy quaint little wooden weatherboard cottage. You sit at your writing desk and you look out to hangars and Charlotte Wood around Australia and a male writer has had a residency there and she describes the kangaroo alive.

Cassie And that's what it's like because you see these kangaroos having little fisticuffs and fights and interactions throughout the day. And just think of the amazing writers who sat there before you inspires you to do so much work and my output. When I was in London was more than double what I could achieve at high my thinking. One of the ways I write about 20000 words which is a fake for me but it's just having the time and the seclusion. There's Wi-Fi but you can't use your mobile phone and there's some other people around. It's very much just you and solitude and beauty and it's just a gorgeous place.

Mel But if you've just had a taste of Australian bush life everybody. The Kangaroos do not hop down the main street of Sydney but they certainly aren't there in the bush. What are you working on your next project.

Cassie I've actually submitted a second book to my publisher. It's similar in that I think it has but and shade the settings a bit different. I would describe it as. Desperate Housewives The. Golden Child by Wendy Davis which was a wonderful book written a couple of years ago about a very crazy passion site because it was given away read the book anyway. That's a little taste of what may come. I don't know. The publisher hasn't even read it yet so she might hide it but nothing new.

Mel Your first book's just come out. Your second book's at the publisher you've been working really really hard.

Mel Is that going to be the story from now on is it writing a book and getting it out there doing the marketing to one book and working on the next book.

Cassie That's the plan. I heard a writer once say that the best way to market your book is to write a new one. And I think that's true. I think building a backlist is a really. Helpful way to sell new books and the old books. And also. You just want to sit around waiting like I would be doing my hitting at the moment if I was sitting around and worrying about people buying or reading the book and just constantly checking social media. That's just not good for my mental state. So for me I've moved on now to the third book which doesn't have a contract. I don't know if it'll ever be published but it's certainly giving me pleasure to write. And it's giving me a focus outside of myself which is the whole reason I got into writing. I've started writing creatively after my second child. I was at home with two very young children and I was just doing my head I think to be so focused on the children and writing in a way just allows me to get outside of my own head and haven't distraction which is fun and enjoyable and means I don't obsess about myself and the kids in the family.

Cassie It opens up a whole new world of possibilities because I have that set period between nine and two ish where I know that I can write and it's probably about the perfect amount of time a I think I could write for more than four or five hours per day because I do find it quite mentally exhausting. So the school day is actually really conducive to writing qualities for me. And then when the kids get home I have to extract myself out of the imaginary world because they want in mother who is fully present and engaged and that can be quite difficult. I don't know if you've ever found that smell that you have to eat. This can be hard to leave that fictional world behind. But children demand that you are there. So I just don't have a choice. It's a good balance I guess in a way.

Mel And it is a balance. If we think about the Virginia Woolf a room of her own they don't exist for the majority of us. You've got to balance everything I know and I dunno whether it was Rachel Jones they write for 10 minutes as they queuing up at the soccer fields and you'd snatch your writing where you can which would drive me insane but being able to have your room have your gaze set up and not have to pack it away just set that whole fact of not doing it on the kitchen table is a treat in itself isn't it.

Cassie Funnily enough here I am on my kitchen table I know no one out there can see me but sadly in this house I don't have my own office.

Cassie I could write in the garage but it's a bit smelly and freaky and I like to be in it. Who was the writer that said you need a will. Playing room. I don't know. I remember now. But anyway my kitchen is a lovely bright space. I can look out the windows as the dog sleeps at my feet. I do have to pack away things at the end of the day but I actually find that is another. It's almost a physical way to separate from the usual world back into the real world and re-engage with everything else that's going around all along happening around me.

Mel Thank you for that slice of the writing life that we don't actually get to engage with as much as we we wish we could because the story that you were telling all of us is could be describing the story of any. Anyone listening to this podcast what's your what's your one piece of advice and I know you've given us lots all the way through and I think it's don't give up would be would be my message. What's that one piece of advice that you would give to others that kept you going.

Cassie That is a good question I think and I think I said this earlier. If you're going to give up who's the one that suffers? It's just you. So keep going for yourself if you're not enjoying it. I think this is my advice. You've got to do it because you love it and you enjoy it. If you want to take a break. Take a break. But keep going. I think other people do validation of your work hopefully is not the reason you're doing it do it for the pleasure. I think at the end of the day my first love was rating. It will always be rating. I'm probably a of first and a writer second in some ways. I think books will always play a part in my life. And writing is just a lovely. Adjunct to that. So I guess my advice is figure out why you're doing it and cling to that and imagine yourself as that 85 year old woman or man and you don't want to have the regret of not having tried and I know that some people struggle with putting themselves out there and putting their work out there. You don't have.

Cassie You can just write purely for your own pleasure. That's a very valid reason to do it. I know it can be difficult for other people to take it seriously when you're not a public writer and if you take it seriously and you let people in. It's incredible how supportive they are. They were I think you're an idiot. Most people that I have all that I write are just really interested and they don't judge it. I just accept that and I ask questions.

Mel Yes. And that's one of the beauties of having all the beautiful writers around us is that asking of questions so that we all know that we're not alone. It's not a scary behind the publisher's door as we all think it is, it's not that daunting.

Mel You're living breathing proof that tenacity pays off. And we wish you all the best with After the Party. Do you recommend that if you're that way inclined that Master's Degree has helped you become a better writer?

Cassie Oh for sure without doubt I think any study of the crop is going to help you as a writer. Perhaps I don't write in that particular genre of literary fiction anymore. But I still do write the occasional short story. Just give me a taste of the writing world. And it was the way in which I made my first contact and really kind of opened my eyes and actually that would be my other piece of advice is. Get out from behind the computer and actually meet people and immerse yourself in the writing world. Because writing is like any other businesses. Publishers like to work with people that I know and people that I know are easy to work with or. Chase those pitching opportunities to conferences at festivals. Get to know other writers because at the end of the day I can be quite solitary. Writers are really lovely people in the mine. And that has been one of the nicest things of the Tolle experience. I think it's getting involved in the community. It's only been a positive in my life.

Mel And I think can thoroughly back that up - no matter where you are on the publishing journey, it has something to offer.

Cassie I think I mentioned to you before I listen to so many different writing podcasts because as you say every writer has something to teach you. And writing is one of those things for me which I will never feel that I have completely mastered and will always be trying to improve. And you can do that one of two ways I guess. One is by reading. Another is by studying. But another is just by listening to the writers such it's such a blessing when writers share their stories and that's why I really do love cars like yours. So thank you very much for the opportunity that you give us all.