Category Archives: Books

The Catholic Imagination of Christopher Koch

I was looking for a cover of a novel by an Australian Catholic for the banner of a new FB group page THE AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC WRITERS’ FORUM (to be developed). I had a few of Christopher Koch’s novels on hand and chose Highways to a War, the 1996 Miles Franklin Award winner. I then looked around for some information about the now (almost) forgotten Christopher Koch and found this inspiring article by Karl Schmude.

Christopher Koch: A novelist for an age with no answers

Karl Schmude

The Catholic imagination of Christopher Koch, the Australian novelist most remembered for The Year of Living Dangerously (1978), was shaped by two intense experiences.

The first was his childhood immersion in the popular Catholic culture in Australia in the first half of the 20th century. Abounding in hints of supernatural mystery and memory, it showed the power of earthly symbols and cultural ritual to evoke timeless realities.

The other was his upbringing in Tasmania, the Alaska of Australia, an island state nearer to Antarctica than the northern Australian mainland. This sense of remoteness sharpened his appreciation of the cultural centre. It embraced not only the traditions of his modern Australian homeland but also the deeper Christian heritage of historical Europe.

Both these experiences, religious and cultural, supplied the background to his eight novels. His Catholic insights enlivened his depiction of human character, especially the dualities of nature and identity that comprise a flawed being who was yet made in the image of God and destined for eternal life. His Tasmanian childhood, meanwhile, nurtured a sense of cultural isolation and the perspective of separation. Tasmania was for Koch a metaphor for Australia – its people, as he wrote, “marooned in the southern hemisphere”. Yet this experience held a wider meaning in a Western culture that was itself religiously marooned, embroiled as it became in his lifetime in uprooting its religious and cultural traditions.

Read the rest here…

I am back with Goodreads

Several years ago, I signed up for the author program on Goodreads. Unfortunately, I could not understand how it worked. It seems I am not the only one. After struggling for some time, and getting nowhere, I deleted my account.

Last week, I came across an FB posting by NYT bestselling author Alessandra Torre offering a webinar for authors on how to use Goodreads effectively. I watched the webinar several times. It was something of an eye-opener. She showed how to make the best of what (on her saying) is a confusing website for authors. So I am now back on Goodreads, confident I can use it, and intending to be more active than the last time.

If you are on Goodreads, be my friend or follower to stay up to date with my books. I have two books to be published before the end of the year.

If you would like to be on my mailing list, please email me on

Ebooks are here to stay – get a device and save money

Those who continue to look down their noses at ebooks risk being left behind. I admit there is nothing like a bundle of pages sewn or pasted together, encased in a stunning cover. I love leaning back at my desk and staring at my bookshelves choc-a-block with books to the ceiling. But it would a self-defeating indulgence if I let those ethereal feelings hide the real advantages of the ebook.

I now buy many of my books in ebook format which I read on my Kindle device. There are several reasons for this. An ebook reader is very portable compared with a 600-page book; it shelve many books; the books are usually well below the hard copy price, especially with specialist books; and, finally, I can adjust the font size.

This last is a real advantage to me. As I get older I find it increasingly difficult to focus on the print size of many books. Novels are not often a problem, but many books on philosophy, politics and religion (my interests) have smaller than usual font sizes to keep the bulk of the book, and thus the price, down.

Take my advice. Get an ebook reader for ease and savings.

The Collapse of the Dutch Church

As the novels of my Conciliar series often play out in the Netherlands, the article below is of interest for background information.

‘Great apostasy’: Cardinal analyzes why Netherlands lost Catholic faith in few short decades

Cardinal Willem Eijk’s new book ‘Ferment in the care of souls’ helps answer the question about why the Netherlands has become one of the most secularized countries in the world today.

September 25, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Why are the tiny Netherlands, whose missionaries represented over 12 percent of Roman Catholic priests and religious bringing the faith to foreign countries around 1960, today one of the most secularized countries in the world? Of all the questions addressed by Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk in his recent book of dialogues with Italian journalist Andrea Galli, this was the one that struck commentators most.

The Cardinal borrowed his answer from a book written in 1947 after a meeting of nine laymen and priests in his own diocese of Utrecht years before a major crisis hit Dutch Catholicism. In Ferment in the care of souls, these concerned Catholics, he said, “saw that the bond between Catholics and the Church was no longer based on the contents of the faith.”

“Membership in the Church was essentially a community factor: one went to Catholic primary school, then to Catholic secondary school, and was a member of Catholic associations, especially in the sports and scouting fields. One was Catholic for reasons of social belonging, because one grew up in Catholic structures, not on the basis of a lived faith,” Cardinal Eijk remarks. It was a faith that “could not withstand such radical culture changes as those of the 1960’s.”

That time of prosperity and growing individualism gradually led to the “hyper-individualism” that Cardinal Eijk has more than once pointed out as being at the root of modern-day Holland’s rejection of God – as in this interview with LifeSite in May 2019, many of whose themes are present in his new book, Dio viva in Olanda (“God lives in Holland”). Revealingly, the subtitle of his book is a quote from Saint Luke: “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Read the rest here…

The Behemoth of bookselling seems unstoppable

Jane Friedman’s latest post on the growing reach of Amazon.

Amazon’s Importance to Book Sales Keeps Increasing—for Better or Worse

Posted on  by Jane Friedman

Today’s post draws from material previously published in The Hot Sheet, a paid subscription email newsletter that I write and publish every two weeks. This week, we celebrate five years of continuous publication. Get 30% off an annual subscription through September 28 using code 5YR at checkout. Your first two issues are free.

Since Hot Sheet started publishing in 2015, Amazon has changed, grown, and dominated more than any other company in the book publishing industry. While that’s not likely a surprise to anyone, here are the key developments that authors need to know about.

Amazon has pulled back on most of its writer-focused programs

Here’s a list of all the writer-focused programs Amazon has launched in the last decade; only one is still active.

  • Kindle SinglesThis program debuted in 2011 and expanded with Singles Classics in 2016. Amazon describes the initiative as “a way to make iconic articles, stories, and essays from well-known authors writing for top magazines and periodicals available in digital form, many for the first time.” It seems mostly designed to give Kindle Unlimited subscribers a library of special content. (More on that in a minute.)
  • Kindle Serials. This program was very active in 2012 and 2013, but Amazon stopped publishing serials in collaboration with authors in 2014 and no longer features them on the site.
  • Kindle Worlds. This program launched in 2013 and provided a way for authors and fan-fiction writers to collaborate in a way that profited everyone. It was discontinued, to authors’ great disappointment, in 2018.
  • Kindle Scout. Launched in 2014, this was kind of like American Idol for unpublished books. Any writer could upload the beginning of a story, along with a cover, and try to gather as many reader votes as possible to catch the attention of Amazon staff and secure a boilerplate book contract with Amazon Publishing. It also closed in 2018.
  • Kindle Press. This program published titles primarily coming from Kindle Scout. It was discontinued in 2019.
  • Write On by Kindle. Launched in 2014, this was kind of like Amazon’s version of Wattpad, an online writing community. It closed in 2017.
  • Amazon Storywriter and Storybuilder. In 2015, Amazon launched special, free software to help people more easily write their scripts, presumably for the discovery benefit of Amazon Studios. It shut down in 2019.
  • Day OneAmazon’s literary journal was produced every week starting in October 2013 until it closed in 2017.

Read the rest here…

Is Indie publishing really vanity press activity?

Many people, even those who read a lot, still think self-publishing is a vanity press activity – you pay a business to design and produce your book. The business gives no thought to its quality. How things have changed in the last ten years. Self-publishing, or Indie publishing, has become a legitimate avenue for authors to bring a professional product to a vast reading public. Kobo Writing Life briefly traces the rise of Indie publishing.



September 2, 2020

Dear authors,

Happy Labour Day weekend to those in North America! As we approach the end of an incredibly challenging summer, we thought we’d distract ourselves from the present and have some fun by looking at the history of indie publishing.

As modern-day independent publishers, you’re in great company. Many renowned authors––from Stephen King, to Jane Austen, to Virginia Woolf––have gone ahead of you, and by now we’ve firmly established that authors can successfully take control of the publishing process and hold their own in the industry.

So where did it all begin? In the beginning, there was spoken word, and for centuries, we passed stories through generations orally. The advent of publishing began when those stories were transcribed onto papyrus and parchment, creating the very earliest iterations of books.

In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg created the first printing press, and society changed forever, as for the first time the written word was accessible to the masses.

Fast forwarding way ahead to the 1800s (in which Jane Austen published Sense and Sensibility via a vanity press); to the 1900s (when Virginia and Leonard Woolf founded Hogarth Press and published their own work), all the way to the 1961, when Margaret Atwood self published her first title, a collection of poetry. 

We’re going to speed into the digital era in the year 2000, when everyone and anyone had a LiveJournal, and could share their writing far and wide. By the year 2000, we were starting to see the first stirrings of a publishing revolution after Stephen King struck fear into the hearts of publishers everywhere when he announced that he would be publishing his book The Plant directly to readers on the internet.

By 2010, the first eReader devices had entered the market (shout out to the earliest version of the Kobo, launched in 2010––we’ve come a long way, baby!) and online retailers had grown in popularity. Suddenly, authors had direct access to millions of readers all over the world, and began to publish in droves. Kobo Writing Life launched in 2012 and has continued to expand and evolve.

In 2020 so far, we’re weathering a global pandemic and provided an unprecedented number of free books to support readers at home; we’ve launched our subscription service Kobo Plus in Canada; we’ve attended virtual conferences and adapted our business for this new normal; we released the 200th episode of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast, and we’re about to do our first ever KWL-only audiobook promotion. 

While 2020 is shaping up to be the most unpredictable year of modern time, we’re looking ahead and focusing on continuing to support our authors and continuing to make Kobo Writing Life even better.

Yours in Writing, 
The Kobo Writing Life Team

Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution

I recently completed an update of TONY ABBOTT AND THE TIMES OF REVOLUTION. I did a bit of polishing and added an index of names. An index of names was an important upgrade. I should perhaps have done that in the beginning. The book also has a new and more attractive cover. The photo is of the entrance to Sydney University where all the action took place.

Update on my writing

This year, 2020, has been a big writing year for me. By the time the year closes, I will have completed and posted 4 books on Amazon, smashwords and D2D. That does not mean I have written four books in a year. It means that I have completed four books, one started as far back as five years ago.

I have also come to a decision about where I am heading with my writing. The question was whether I would pursue the route of traditional publishing with all the risk and frustration that incurs. Or would I commit myself to the self-publishing route – no looking back? There are some great youtube channels that explore this option.

One of the best is Joanna Penn’s THE CREATIVE PENN. I have found her videos extremely helpful in making the choice. She has gone the self-publishing route and, on her saying, earns a six-figure income annually. Not that big earnings is what I am looking for. I am looking for a particular readership. There are others like Penn. They function as mini-publishing enterprises.

Another important consideration in making the choice is that my novels are in the genre of the ‘Catholic Novel’. Book agents, who are the gatekeepers of what gets published, are not looking for my sort of book, nor have they shown the slightest bit of interest. The message comes abundantly clear when you read what sort of books they are looking for. So, it’s now the self-publishing route. What that involves I propose looking at in following posts.

You will find Joanna Penn’s website HERE.