Oct 2, 2013

Paul Collins on writing, Ford Street Publishing and pursuing dreams...

Today I have a guest on dream... write... publish! Paul Collins, from Ford St Publishing has released a new book and shares with us the journey (there's a few good tips for us packed in here too).

First, a little about Paul...

Paul Collins has written over 140 books and 140 short stories. He is best known for The Quentaris Chronicles (The Spell of Undoing is Book #1 in the new series), which he co-edits with Michael Pryor, The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars and The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis. Paul’s latest book is The Only Game in the Galaxy, book three in The Maximus Black Files

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and won the Aurealis, William Atheling and the inaugural Peter McNamara awards. He recently received the A Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in Australian science fiction. He has had two Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.

He has black belts in both ju jitsu and taekwondo – this experience can be seen in The Jelindel Chronicles and The Maximus Black Files.

Visit Paul’s websites: 

The Beckoning...

The Beckoning is Paul’s first adult novel. Check out the trailer:

Here Paul tells us something of the background behind his latest books, both out this month.

Matt Brannigan is a lawyer living on the edge. His daughter Briony is psychic and trouble shadows his family wherever they go.

Cult guru Brother Desmond knows that the power within Briony is the remaining key he needs to enter the next dimension. Once he controls this, he will have access to all that is presently denied him.

When Briony is indoctrinated into the Zarathustrans, Matt and psychic Clarissa Pike enter the cult’s headquarters under the cover of night to rescue her. 

So begins Armageddon . . .

When I give workshops or talks in schools I inevitably get asked by students (and a few teachers) for tips on writing. My best tip is persistence. I’ve heard of authors who get a few rejections and place their manuscripts in a bottom drawer or even throw them in the rubbish. Remember, numerous famous books received rejections before they were finally published. I’ll always remember Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. He committed suicide because everyone rejected it. His mother persisted with the book, and when it was finally published, it won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Following my own advice I persevered for over thirty years with a book called The Beckoning. Initially it was Wind Chill, then Evil Intent, and no matter how many name changes and revisions, it failed to sell. It was typed on a counter in a St Kilda second-hand bookshop in the early 80s. Over the years it’s been digitalised, stored on 3.5 floppies/discs, CDs, zip drives, USB sticks and no doubt a few storage devices I’ve long since forgotten. 

Damnation Books recently opened up for submissions. I thought, what the heck. I sent them three chapters as per the guidelines. Within two days they asked for the rest. Within two weeks they’d accepted it. Within five months it was published. My, how times have changed. It used to take up to 18 months to get a book into print.

So now it’s available in both ebook and print at Amazon.

The Only Game in the Galaxy... 

In a galaxy of cutthroat companies, shadowy clans and a million agendas, spy agency RIM barely wields enough control to keep order. Maximus Black is RIM’s star cadet.

But he has a problem. One of RIM’s best agents, Anneke Longshadow, knows there’s a mole in the organisation. And Maximus has a lot to hide.
As luck would have it, another book of mine came out this month, too. The Only Game in the Galaxy is the third book in The Maximus Black Files trilogy. This is another tale of persistence. The first drafts were written many years ago. Ford Street published the first book, Mole Hunt, in 2011. It was a success, especially for a small press. Dyson’s Drop followed in 2012. So now The Only Game in the Galaxy is available at Amazon and at “any good bookshop” but also at Ford St Publishing (with PayPal): http://tinyurl.com/ojxxjz8.

I love anti-heroes – think Modesty Blaise and Artemus Fowl. They’re bad, really, in as much they’re up to illegal activities. But I always feel as though they’re Robin Hood characters in that they steal from the rich and give to the poor. Maximus Black is pure evil. He’s all out for himself and woe betide anyone who gets in his way.

However, here’s the odd thing. So many people have told me they were rooting for Maximus! The reason I believe major publishers rejected The Maximus Black Files is because the lead character has no redeeming features. But in a survey ran by ROR, questioning readers whether characters needed redeeming features, not one respondent thought they did. This flies in the face of everything publishers/gatekeepers believe.

Maximus does have a nemesis in Anneke Longshadow, but all the fan mail is directed at Max. Ah well. So much for my creating a unique character who everyone will loathe . . .

Wow. Thanks Paul for the insider's view of the publishing world!

I think the best lesson members of the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) can take from Paul's post is to NEVER give up. Every manuscript has a different journey to travel and some may take longer than others to reach readers. Stay positive and keep writing!


  1. Definitely great advice. That's incredible how much he's published.

    1. Fire in the belly - that's my favourite quote lately (right before I exhaust myself with enthusiasm and take a nap instead), Paul obviously keeps his fire stoked... okay, this sounded more motivational in my head and less icky biology.

  2. Great advice. CONGRATS to Paul on his writing success.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Susanne, Paul's quite an inspiration.

  3. Charmaine, thanks for bringing this author to my attention. Awesome trailer! And good advice.

  4. Its great to meet Paul and best wishes for his continued success! Cool trailer too! This inspires me to do something above and beyond the video using little Lego men for my video clip.

  5. I like the sound of his book! Right up my genre.

  6. Great sounding books and I'm inspired by his message. Best of success to him!

  7. hehe, this post has come with perfect timing for me. Persistence is so important!!
    And wow, 140 books? Impressive!!

  8. Inspirational words of advice for getting published. I liked that he submitted the same book over the years under different titles. I tried doing that once, changing the title once, but giving up after a few more rejections. I probably should have been more persistent.

  9. 140 books? Wow.

    Not giving up is a good idea.

  10. Great post! TTT...things take time. It is important to not give up!

  11. Hey, Charmaine,
    To say I'm impressed with Paul would be a major understatement. It took me a while to get past the 140/140 publication credits. His words are truly inspiring and this is a good post for the IWSG. Thanks so much.

  12. Charmaine, thanks so much for sharing this. Love Paul's thoughts. His inspirational words really do help!

  13. I can't imagine that it's humanly possible to publish over 100 books, especially on the heels of countless rejections. Pauk, I'm awestruck. I like the Australian accent too. Thanks for the reminder about perseverance.

    A great guest post, Charmaine. Thank YOU.

  14. This is a great post. I needed this today. Thank you.

  15. Persistence is a good tip. you seem to have made the incentive work :)


  16. WOW, Thirty years... Well, talk about persistence... Congrats..

    Hey, Charmaine, thanks for featuring Paul today!

  17. Just now saw this! Okay, lady bird—gotta figure out where to visit you now that you're all over the ethernet with a blog here and a blog there. I don't know how this escaped me for so long.