Monday 22 July 2013

Guest Blog - Writer Events Q&A with Dionne Lister

The next author I contacted to answer my Writer Events Q&A is Dionne Lister.

Dionne is an Independent self-published author who writes fantasy and suspense/thrillers. Her novels ‘Shadows of the Realm’ and ‘A Time of Darkness’ are the first two in the ‘Circle of Talia’ series. 

If you like dragons you will love these. They are available in both paper and ebook .

Dionne also has an ebook called ‘Dark Spaces’, which is a collection of scary short stories and definitely worth a read.

I was aware that Dionne had recently been on a writers panel, so I wanted her input on my Q&A to tap her experience of writer events. So here you go.

What was your first writing event?

Genrecon in Sydney, 2012. It is a speculative fiction event. Genrecon was my first event and I think I heard about it from someone on Twitter.

Did you go alone?

I asked Ciara Ballintyne if she wanted to go with me. I had never been to any before, because I had only just started really getting into the writing life, mid 2011, joining Twitter in August or September of that year. Before that I had a sensible job: I was a property valuer and never spoke to other writers—I don't know how I survived for as long as I did!

When you went, did you go with a specific plan in mind, or focus? Did you structure the day, or did you just go and see?

A bit of both. I’d never been to one before so I wanted to know if they were any good, but I did have talks I wanted to see. On the day, we could pick what we wanted to see, and there was a lot to choose from.

Can you go to a writing event without a specific focus? Can you just go and look?

You can, although if there is nothing you are really interested in, it’s probably not a good idea. I wouldn’t go to a conference that was for romance, for instance, as I don’t write that genre.

What did you gain from it personally?

I learnt that I knew more than I thought I did and that there is more than one way to do something (writing-wise). It was also wonderful to meet and talk to other writers—that really was the best thing for me.

Have you been to any other writing events?

One of the most exciting things to happen to me was getting onto Facebook one day (and no, that's not the exciting thing) and finding a private message from Kate Forsyth, one of Australia's most successful children's and young adult fantasy authors. I thought at first it was a joke, but I checked out the link and it was definitely her page. She introduced herself and asked if I wanted to speak on a panel at the NSW Writers Speculative Festival. I cried, I was so happy! Apparently she'd been looking for an Australian, self-published fantasy/spec fiction author to speak about self-publishing and after weeks of combing the net, she picked me. I was flattered and excited.

After a successful appearance at that festival, I was asked to speak on self-publishing at the Sydney Writers Festival—the biggest writers' festival in Australia. Because I've done that, I'll now be speaking at two more festival/writer's days in November, so it's just had a domino effect, and I'm enjoying the ride.

I guess it has all come from presenting a good image on social media and producing a good product. As you know, I've had a professional cover done and my books are edited. I also put myself out there as an advocate for professional self-publishing. I think because I'm an editor, it really peeves me when people put out work that is only half finished and full of mistakes.

Writing is a business (as much as it is a passion) and you shouldn't ask readers to pay for half-baked work—imagine if MacDonalds served half-cooked chips or you had to sew your own buttons and hems on the new jacket you just bought. I think becoming a successful author is about working hard, being lucky enough to get that one opportunity, and doing as much with it as you can :). I'm certainly going to run with the speaking gig as long as people will listen to me rabbit on lol.

Have you ever gone on a writing retreat? If so, what are your thoughts/experiences?

No, haven’t done that one, although I think it would be wonderful to go somewhere and have none of the distractions of every-day life and just be able to write.

For someone starting out, or wanting to go to one and not being sure, what advice would you give?

Pick a conference that has content you’re interested in, and if there are questions you’ve always wanted to ask, write them down before you go as there is always opportunity to ask at the end of any panels or talks. Be prepared to have a good time. 


  1. I'm very glad you became a writer, Dionne :-)

    1. Thanks Ben. I'm happy I did too :). Not only do I love writing, but I love the awesome people I've met along the way, people like you ;).

  2. Well done Dionne,
    So hope things escalate for you. It isn't easy being a self-published author and you certainly have some good advice there for others about making sure they are putting out the most polished work they can, because it not only reflects back on them as a writer, but the industry of self-publishing.

    1. Hi Lisa. Glad to see you are in the 'professional' writing camp :). Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment as it's great to see others feel the same way I do. Cheers!