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Monday, May 30, 2011

I, Zombie Release Announcement and Excellent Reviews!

I'm tres excited. Why, you ask? Because I, Zombie has been released!

It's all official and up and ready for reading! 

I, Zombie, the newest eBook by my alter ego, Edwina Ray is available from Amazon and Smashwords now!

Like Zombies? Ever wonder what's ACTUALLY going on in their heads? You thought there was NOTHING, didn't you. 
Well you would be wrong.
I, Zombie is a dark comedy and a quickie read with a surprise ending. At 99 cents, like my other shorts, this is quite the bargain.

Check out these fantabulous reviews!

"Well done you. I write feature movies (horror, rom-com, sci-fi etc), have won 3 film awards, and thought every angle in the zombie genre had been explored. I was wrong, you have proven in such an original and hilarious way. To have the story run from the point of view of the zombie makes this a pleasure to read, and gives hope to the future of the horror genre. Keep doing what you do." - Vinnie Cleghorne

"This is dark and wonderfully creepy! I love your writing style, very clean, compelling and top notch" - Heather McCorkle
"Wow. For some reason, I found this strangely hilarious. Great job! It's always admirable-and quite refreshing-when someone isn't afraid to give gory details." - ClearasMud94

"I can't claim to have ever read a funny zombie story narrated by a zombie, or simply a funny zombie story as a matter of fact! But this is sinfully hilarious. And original. Having read your other work, I'm spun out that it's so different. I'm impressed." - Shirley Marr

"I always enjoy a fresh take on the zombie subgenre. Thank you." - JasonDavis

"LOL. We needed a book inside a zombie's mind. :)" - Dewdette

Next post, I'm going to show you inside the cover design process, and the original sketches that the artist, Emma-Lee Nosworthy of came up with. It was really fun working with her!

G'night, my loves,


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Robin Mellom's DITCHED is becoming REAL!

Hello dear ones!

You may remember way back in January I did a blog interview (which you can find here) with the lovely Robin Mellom about her experiences in the publishing industry, and selling her first book DITCHED to Disney-Hyperion, in a 2-book deal. Which has since become a SIX-book deal.

I just wanted to help her celebrate as Ditched is nearly a real in bookshops book!

So far there are ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies), or Proofs as they're called in Australia out in the world. There are sure to be reviewers out there readng it as I write this. Oh how I wish I was one of them.

So what do you think of the cover? I love the fonts and how colourful it is. Looks like that dress has been through a hell of a night, huh?

Asta la vista,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lisa Dempster's Guide to Being a Publishing Success PART TWO

This is Lisa
With the opening of the 2011 Emerging Writers Festival imminent, this year's Director still had time to discuss her Top 7 Tips to becoming a success in the Publishing Biz.

On Tuesday in Lisa Dempster's Guide to Being a Publishing Success PART ONE I shared Lisa's Tips #1-4

#1 Forget about a career path

#2 Embrace DIY: Independent Publishing

#3 No opportunity is too small

#3a Show up to things

#4 Put your writing out there

Let's continue!

#5 Anyone can be successful

Why does Lisa know this? Because SHE is successful. And if SHE can be successful…(her words!)
The most visible example I can see this by the number of indie authors finding success with ebooks. 
Lisa considers herself “deeply average” but she says YES a lot and puts herself in positions in which she can be successful. For example, if you want to be published in McSweeney’s but you don’t submit to them they can't publish you.

#6 You will fail and make enormous mistakes: But that’s okay.

This is what stops people from trying.
When you put yourself and your work out there, there is a really big chance of failure. The potential for success is enormous but so is the potential for failure.
Lisa knows people who lost $50k when starting an independent press, went broke but started a new press later and became successful. These people failed huge but learnt from it.
And nothing lasts forever! People move on, they forget, and it never looks as bad to the outside world as it feels to you.
By trying something and making mistakes, you have gained experience and know ways NOT to do something next time you try it.

And finally,

#7 Do what you care about

Pursue your passions because at the end of the day, nothing else matters. You will naturally be much more successful doing something you love than if you were doing something you are not passionate about.
Find a niche. Eg Lisa is a vegan food writer. If she had been an omnivore, her career would not have progressed as fast, as there is so much competition. But she has a niche, she is the only person doing vegan food writing so she gets a lot of writing gigs because of it. 

Find your passion, people, and do that!

If you're in Melbourne, it's well worth checking out the Emerging Writers Festival between May 26 and June 5 2011 as there will be a lot of great speakers, panels and workshops on a variety of topics, including Trends in Publishing, Faking it vs Making it, Going Global, Beyond Academia and Stand up. My personal faves are the Getting into Genre panels, YA Fiction, Romance, Crime and Speculative Fiction. You might even find me there! If not, take notes, 'kay?

Lisa Dempster is a jack of all trades in the publishing industry. She is a vegan food writer, has worked on a contract basis for publishing companies, bought out a small press and created her very own, Vignette Press, and is currently the Director of a two week festival for writers here in Melbourne, The Emerging Writers Festival (which starts this week) as well as being a Bachelor of Writing & Publishing Lecturer at NMIT, Fairfield. Phew!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lisa Dempster's Guide To Being a Publishing Success PART ONE

Lisa Dempster
With the opening of the 2011 Emerging Writers Festival imminent, this year's Director still had time to discuss her Top 7 Tips to becoming a success in the Publishing Biz.

Tips 1-4 are below.

#1 Forget about a career path

In creative industries, your career path will not necessarily be linear, heading up the promotion totem pole. Creative industries most often promote based on your skill level. The best writer may have been writing for a year, but if they are the best, they will be the one to get the book deal. The cover designer that produces evocative covers that fit the book are the ones that will be commissioned again.
Lisa hasn't had a linear carer path by any means. She is a freelance vegan food writer, started her own small press, is currently Director of the Emerging Writers Festival and is a Publishing Lecturer at NMIT Fairfield.

#2 Embrace DIY - Independent Publishing

Lisa claims that she has learnt way more by teaching herself to be a publisher than she would have by working ten years in a big publishing house. At big publishing houses, you work in a department, either editorial, marketing, sales etc, and though you learn that role well, you won't learn other areas of the industry. By starting her own small press, Vignette, Lisa had to learn every facet of publishing, be it proof reading, pitching titles to booksellers, invoicing or taxes. 
Lisa has produced two "Mooks" (Magazine/Books) The Sex Mook and the Death Mook through Vignette Press.

(Vignette Press will soon open submissions to the Geek Mook, check out deets here)

Whether you want to start a music festival, make a film, self publish a book – go out and do it. You will learn SO much by giving it a go.

#3 No opportunity is too small

You never know where the people you meet and things you do will lead you in the future.
Five years ago no one would have thought that Lisa would be heading a writers festival

Related to #3, Lisa also suggests you: 

#3a Show up to things

This is a big one, people. One I'm not fantastic at yet, but it's not because I underestimate how important it is. Lisa says you should go to book launches, programs and submit things to journals and competitions. You might meet a like-minded stranger at a festival and make a best friend or even a business partner out of them. You might submit some work to a journal and it is rejected by the committee, but when the committee member who loved your story moves on to another position, they will very well remember you and your talent. 
Personally, I attended two SCBWI Conferences in 2009 and made some of the best writing friends I could have there.

#4 Put your writing out there

Lisa says keep writing. That's so important. But don’t keep it to yourself – put it out there.
Lisa is a big advocate of blogging and says that if you’re interesting or a good writer, people will read you.

Blogging helped her to learn to write succinctly, in her own voice and regularly.
But there are other things you can do other than blogging. If you’re a poet, go to spoken word events. A political commentator or comedian? Twitter is a great place to test out your skills.

That's it for today! What are your thoughts?

On Thursday, find PART TWO, with Lisa's Tips #5-7.

#5 Anyone can be successful

#6 You will fail and make enormous mistakes. And that's okay.

#7 Do what you care about.

Lisa Dempster is a jack of all trades in the publishing industry. She is a vegan food writer, has worked on a contract basis for publishing companies, bought out a small press and created her very own, Vignette Press, and is currently the Director of a two week festival for writers here in Melbourne, The Emerging Writers Festival (which starts this week) as well as being a Bachelor of Writing & Publishing Lecturer at NMIT, Fairfield. Phew!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Laughing at Eurovision turns into Loving of Eurovision

I've been watching Eurovision off and on for a couple of years because of the insanity and absurdity and just how funny some of the acts can be.

It became a running joke between me and my two international exchange student housemates at University when we stumbled upon it one year and there were bearded ladies and a scary smiley random ice skater in the background and I don't think w'll ever forget the angel and devil country and the costumes on the Pirates of the Sea act. Oy.

So I am very excitedly watching Eurovision this year for the craziness. And Portugal did not disappoint.

They were a little Village Peoplesque with two chicks and protest signs. Couldn't tell what they were protesting because, you know. It was in Portuguese. But there were some overdramatic pouts so it was clearly serious.

But something weird is happening. There have been some crazies but I am right this second watching the Eurovision Final and the crazy has, for the most part, been weeded out. And the acts, again, for the most part, are actually quite good..

Okay I wrote that and then this came on the screen

Anyway, what I was getting at is that there are starting to be some actually, good, quality acts on here. I might  even get the Eurovision 2011 sountrack NON-IRONICALLY. There have been some good boppy songs, even though I'll never be able to sing along to half of them since they're in other languages, it might make for a good road trip soundtrack.

Hope, if you were watching, you've all enjoyed it as much as I have. And I bet the drinking games were fun!

Love Sairz

More Gore or Less Gore? Cover Wars

So Edwina Ray's next ebook is coming SOON. I'm quite excited by this one as it has shocked readers who know me and my personality, and what I usually write. This is why I created Edwina Ray. Some Sarah Billington fans may not want to experience the internal monologue of a zombie with a craving for crunchy bones and fresh, steaming, drippy hearts.

It is quite different.

I have been lucky enough to be working with illustrator Emma-Lee of on the front cover and I'm really happy with what she has produced.


But I wondered whether it needed more gore. So she added some which came out like this:

The front zombie's gore level has not changed because he takes care of himself. But check out the other zoms.

What do you think? Which cover do you like better? MORE GORE or LESS GORE?


Decisions decisions.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Death and Life of Rocky the Crab - FREE eBOOK Voucher

The downfall of juggling a gazillion tasks is you (or me...yeah, we're talking about me here) let important things slide through sometimes.

So in order to celebrate the release of a short I'm really proud of, again, I'm giving you the opportunity to get a copy for FREE.

But what I ask in return is that you write a short review - one or two lines - on Amazon or Smashwords in return.

If you have a Smashwords account, you can download it from the site for FREE with

Coupon Code GA92C. 

You can read it online through html or javascript, download the PDF, Kindle, ePub, Rich Text, LRF (for Sony Readers) or Palm Doc versions.

If you want to review it through Amazon, I don't have a voucher but I would love for you to email me at SarahERBillington AT gmail DOT com and request a copy.

This freebie is only until Sunday 22nd May!

The Death and Life of Rocky the Crab is AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon and Smashwords and awaiting approval for Apple, Kobo, Sony, B&N and more. 

The Death and Life of Rocky the Crab is a story you just can't make up. It's based on a true story which happened to Amy a young lady I met over Christmas 2009 in a haunted castle in the Scottish Highlands. I wish I had her contact details, she was an awesome chick.

The Death and Life of Rocky the Crab

Something moved in my hand. I looked back at Rocky in the tongs. Something was weird. I stopped shuffling and narrowed my eyes at it. Was it…looking at me? Suddenly its legs unfurled from under itself and its pincers sat up at attention. In front of my face. And they snapped together.

Lisa was supposed to be pet sitting. Looking after a crab is easy, right? Unless you forget to feed it. And then you find it dead minutes before its owner is back in town. There's something a bit different about this dead crab though. 

Happy Wednesday, peeps!

Love Sairz

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Public Speaking Jitters: How To Give an AWESOME Presentation PART TWO

Welcome to Part Two on my Public Speaking Series. Series is the wrong word, considering this is the second, and last part. Welcome to my duet on Public Speaking?

Moving on. Last time I talked about how to calm those nerves (scary scary blank faces and sleeping audience of doom!) by Knowing Your Audience, Tailoring Your Anecdotes To Your Audience, Observing Your Audience (really it was all about them and not you) and Using Your Body. If you didn't read it, it has some useful tips so I'd go check it out here, or you can scroll down to the last post.

Today, I'm talking about you and the person who hired you to present!


Remember when someone asked you to do a presentation on eg., How to Write a Screenplay and you, the screenwriter extraordinaire you are, said "Sure, I'll do it!". Well the person or company who hired you to speak is expecting your insight on screenwriting. The audience is looking forward to your tips and insider secrets on how to write a blockbuster movie or an indie award winner.

So perhaps it's not the right audience for you to talk about your Horse Ranch or that you have a killer bottle cap collection.
Or less tongue in cheek topics - don't do a presentation on what it's like being a TV Showrunner, or a director or producer. Your audience wants to know what a script looks like, they need to know abouts acts and how you can't really put a character's internal thoughts in a screenplay because if they don't say it or you can't see it, it can't be done. This audience is probably a long way from being a Showrunner, and they may have no interest in being a director or producer. You will hold your audience's attention if you stick to the topic they have spent their time and money to come and see.


Practice your presentation, time it and make sure you're not going to run too long or too short. Record yourself and listen to see where you can improve - are you speaking in a lullaby-like monotone? Change up your tempo and your pitch. Do you speak too fast and are overloading you audience? Slow it down. Give them a chance to think about the shiny ideas you've just presented them. Not only does practice allow you to hone your skills, but it helps you get to know your product, and your presentation more fully.

And that brings me to the big one. The biggest thing that will help you conquer your nerves when it comes to giving a speech or compelling presentation.


If you know the topic you are talking about inside and out, you are less likely to get mental blanks and forget everything, you are going to feel more confident that you can handle the day because you know your shizzle and if you forget one detail, you'll have something else you can talk about.


This weekend I worked at The Age VCE & Careers Expo as a Student Ambassador for my University. I spoke to year 10, 11 and 12 students, parents, careers advisors and adults looking to change their career direction about the benefits of my University.
I am studying a Bachelor of Writing & Publishing, so when I had potential students of Aquaculture, Plumbing or Enginering etc come to me for information about what we offer, I floundered a little bit and had to look up the course guide. I got mental blanks in what I could tell them and didn't know the answers to some of their questions (but could direct them on who to contact, by email or phone or if they happened to be standing next to me). I got NERVOUS. Because I didn't KNOW MY TOPIC. When I had potential Writing and Publishing Students I was a completely different person. I was passionate, I could tell them about the different subjects and the industry connections they could make and practical experience they would gain from the course. I knew my stuff and I became fired up (in a good way) when talking to them. I had a girl come and speak to me on Saturday and she came back with a friend and her mother on Sunday (hi if you're reading this!).
Doing the research and KNOWING YOUR TOPIC truly are the KEY to conquering nerves.

As Conference and Festival Season approaches (heck, the whole year is Conference and Festival Season) I hope some of these tips will have helped you.

Much Love,


Friday, May 6, 2011

Public Speaking Jitters: How To Conquer All Encompassing Nerves Part ONE


Public speaking scares the heck out of (almost) everyone, right? Your heart starts thumping distractingly, you start getting sweaty palms, you blush and for some reason you forget how to use the English language but you CAN'T STOP TALKING.

It's a big part of being a professional writer, speaking at schools, at conferences, at book launches and signings, at festivals, on panels...gone are the days when a writer's literary prowess could speak for itself!

But fear no longer, fellow glossophobics (the word for fear of public speaking. You learnt something new just then, didn't you.), Public Speaking is a learned skill and I gots some easy tips to help you through it! This is part ONE of a TWO part series on conquering your public speaking nerves.
First up lets talk

Who are you presenting to? A bunch of kindergarteners, year nine girls or Wall Street bankers? Even if the difference isn't as profound as this, merely knowing you're speaking to Women's Magazine editors instead of bankers will make a difference. By knowing your audience you can

You might be doing a presentation on writing, so when discussing writing sales copy to the Women's Magazine editors you might talk about use an example of different approaches to writing about shoes, whereas you might talk to the Wall Street bankers about the lifestyle they are selling their clients.
Enhance interest in what you're saying by tailoring your anecdotes and examples to appeal to your specific audience. By doing this, they will be more actively engaged in your talk and listening attentively. And it will help you feel more CONFIDENT on stage.
But what if you are the last speaker of an awfully long morning and everyone's zoned out and ready for lunch already?

Notice that a half the audience is dozing in their seat, or doodling in their notebook or perhaps whispering with a friend about their weekend. Do not just:
Your audience have been LISTENING and LOOKING for a long time. Get them out of their seats and MOVING: make them jump up and down a little or perhaps do a spontaneous dance. Make them stretch or SPEAK - for five seconds, have them introduce themselves to the person behind them. And after five or thirty seconds get them sitting down and ready for your presentation and you'll be surprised at how attentive your passive audience of seconds ago has become.

SMILE. Even though you're nervous, make sure you SMILE A LOT. It is a proven fact that people are more likely to warm to you if you smile.
PUT YOUR SHOULDERS BACK and stand up tall. This gives you the appearance of confidence and tricks not only the audience, but your body into believing you are confident in front of your audience.
PROJECT YOUR VOICE. Audiences that cannot hear the speaker are likely to tune out and either talk to their neighbours or look bored. And seeing people look bored can cause little gremlins of doubt to enter your brain and convince you that you are boring and shouldn't be there. But in fact all it really means is that you should speak LOUDER.

That's it for PART ONE: Know your audience, tailor your anecdotes, observe your audience and use your body. In PART TWO I shall discuss zipping your lip, getting there early, and knowing your product.

Big kiss,


DISCLAIMER: I am by no means a public speaking aficionado. I do it very infrequently and it makes my heart thump, face heat up and I can't control my mouth to make it shut up. I tell you this because I do not want to heighten your expectations of my public speaking skillz. My public speaking nerves are however, what happens now. They are not forever. These tips come from a training seminar I attended this week which I wanted to share.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Events! Events! Meg Rosoff at the Wheelers Centre and NEXUS Festival of Animation, Comics & Graphic Novels!

Melbourne peeps, listen up!

Wish I'd known about this sooner, but it's not too late for you!
Meg Rosoff, award winning YA author of How I Live Now, Just in Case and What I Was will be at The Wheeler Centre in the city on Wednesday (TOMORROW NIGHT). And it's a free event. I mean, why aren't you going? :)

Check out The Wheeler Centre site for more deets. 

ALSO, I just found about this great sounding festival. If you're around and interested in graphics you should totes check it out!

NEXUS is a festival of animation, comics, graphic novels and moving image, at NMIT Fairfield Campus 10-12 May.  There will be exhibitions, masterclasses, screenings, a book fair, panel discussions, seminars and innovative performances.


ANTHONY LUCAS              Animator
                                      Jaspar Morello

TOM TAYLOR                   Comic, Screen & Theatre Writer

DAVID RUSSELL                Storyboard Artist
                                      Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

EDDIE WHITE                    Film Writer & Director
                                       The Cat Piano

COLIN WILSON                 Comic Artist
                                       Blueberry, 2000AD

ISABEL PEPPARD               Animator
                                       Mary and Max

SUTU                               Interactive Comic Producer

BRUCE MUTARD                Graphic Novelist
                                       The Sacrifice

Lots to learn here, don't you think?
For full details and to register to events, please see

Fairfield campus
Yarra Bend Rd Fairfield

That's all for now, 

I have an exciting new blog series coming up soon so stay tuned for that!