(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sharing the Love - a blog write up for Viola.

Thanks to Michelle Dennis for this lovely write up.

Originally posted on My Wonder Emporium:

Karen Carlisle is due to release three exciting short stories of mystery and adventure! I’ve been flicking about on her website and Facebook, eagerly awaiting news of a cover reveal… and here it is…


A steampunk adventure, of sorts, the short stories are based around Viola, a female optometrist with an eye for investigating.

1. Day of the Dirigible – a train, a dirigible landing AND a mysterious stranger.

2. An Eye for Detail – peril, a murder on the gaslit streets of London, secrets and Viola Stewart – a GREAT recipe for adventure!

3. The Magic Lantern – Lord and Lady Hearst have disappeared! While enjoying the latest entertainment, the Magic Lantern Show, Viola joins Dr John Collins in the investigation – why should men have all the fun?

Don’t these stories sound intriguing, and fun? I can’t wait for publication.

You can follow Karen Carlisle here http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/03/25/the-adventures-of-viola-stewart-book-cover-reveal/


View original 49 more words

Sharing the Love - a blog write up for Viola.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Trailer: Introducing The Adventures of Viola Stewart

I set up a Youtube channel last year. I had great plans. It has sat empty. Until now.

This month I tackled the beast and managed to work out the computer-y stuff and upload my very first Youtube video. It features a tea duel – the first recorded in Adelaide – held at last year’s Teanannigans.  The steampunk event was part of the ‘Biggest Australian Morning (we did an Afternoon) Tea’ to raise money for Cancer Council.

Onto my ultimate plan:
After a few photograph sessions (Thanks to my wonderful friends who agreed to model and provide props), I had the raw images for my vision for a book trailer. You can read about them in My Plans are  afoot and The Faun, the Trekker and the Steampunk and Book Cover Reveal.

for blog post

(I will just take a moment to thank SpiralOut at Deviant Art for the corner cogs used in the promo above and fartoolate at Deviant Art for the use of some brushes used to make some images in the book trailer.)

What is a book trailer?

A book trailer is like a ‘video flyer’. It can provide an easily share-able snippet – which the MTV generation created the appetite and the Y-generation have embraced. It has the potential to make our work accessible to a different audience – and potentially large audience, if shared on Youtube. The trick is to make it look professional, make it express the book and to make it short.

VIDEO BT 150315
A crash course in another new programme (my old video programme is out of date) and here is my first ever book trailer:

Introducing The Adventures of Viola StewartThree short stories  introducing my favourite character and some of her early shenannigans.

I have enjoyed putting my passions of photography and film to good use and plan to make more. What do you think?

Book Trailer: Introducing The Adventures of Viola Stewart

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Octopus/Kraken series of mugs on sale at Zazzle - Limited Time

Zazzle has 50% off mugs for the next few hours Use code ZAZSURPRISE4

Portable Art: Original artwork




My Octopus/Kraken series of mugs on sale at Zazzle - Limited Time

The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Book Cover Reveal

Good morning, dear Readers.

Last week I officially announced I am self publishing the first instalments of The Adventures of Viola Stewart as short stories and novella. I am looking forward to the challenge. The finishing touches are sorted. Now I am ready for the first big reveal.

The plan: Dip my toe in the Amazon pond and learn the processes with the first short stories ebook, introducing Viola Stewart – independent Oculist (optician/optometrist) who has a penchant for detectiving (her word for investigating) . I will follow up with the novella, Doctor Jack, in a month or so. I hope to combine both, as paperback, later in the year.

The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Three Shorts, includes:

  • Day of the Dirigible
    It is a big day. Viola has a day off school. She gets a train ride AND to see her first dirigible landing! Who is this mysterious stranger who has confiscated her toy and why does he want it so badly?

  • An Eye for Detail (a reworking of the original short story, shortlisted in The Australian Literature Review’s Murder-Mystery Short Story Competition, June 2013.)

    When Viola’s husband died, she had no wish to wear mourning for the rest of her days. Defying convention, she becomes an Oculist to London society. But peril lurks in the gaslit streets. When a murder victim is found on her doorstep, Viola is drawn into intrigue – discovering a secret she may take to the grave.

  • The Magic Lantern.
    Dr Viola Stewart and Dr John Collins are back. Lord and Lady Hearst have disappeared! While enjoying the latest entertainment – The Magic Lantern Show – the two doctors uncover another nefarious plot. Viola is determined to join in the investigation. Why should the men have all the fun?

    (Approx. 7000 words in total)

I wrote about the my first photoshoot in My Plans are  afootSince then I have been having a ball with the art side of this project. I did have to negotiate a new programme to create the cover and flyer. (not so keen on the computer-y stuff as regular readers will know). But it was worth it. I am happy with the final result.

And now for the cover reveal!


A bit of background information, for those who like to dissect things:

All original photographs were taken on trips to Gawler and at local photo shoots around Adelaide. We are very fortunate to have many  existing buildings and houses, built from the 1840s onward.

Here is a quick rundown on how I created the cover – all the layers.

ModelZena_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015COverProcess1_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015 COverProcess2_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015 Bground_Gawler_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2010
COverProcess3_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015  FinalCoverAdventuresViolaStewartShorts_1_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015

And wait, there is more!

I am finishing up my first book trailer, and will be revealing it in the next few weeks. Here are a few snaps from the trailer… and a few hints.

BT_1_filmsequence4_KarenCarlisle_2015 CollinsMagicLantern_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015

You can follow Viola’s adventures at http://theadventuresofviolastewart.purplefiles.net/ and sign up for my  newsletter,  Tea and Tidings, for more information (out on 20th of the month) – via Mailchimp.  There is also a  specific Facebook page for the series: Doctor Jack and The Adventures of Viola Stewart

All characters and images (c)Karen Carlisle 2015. All rights reserved.

(Cover – corner cogs: thank you to (c)  Spiral-Out at Deviant Art .)

The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Book Cover Reveal

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Plans are Afoot: The Adventures of Viola Stewart

I blame high school. And sport.

I was never really a sport person, though I wasn’t bad at short distance running or swimming. I even played first base or catcher for primary school softball. I used to watch the Australian cricket team in the practice nets that abutted our school oval. I toyed with renaissance fencing as an adult. But it never really tugged at my heart, as much as art or writing.

I was given a choice in highschool; sport or photography for the high school magazine. I chose photography (and got out of sport). In those days we played with negatives, enlargers, chemicals baths and photographic paper – learning to take, develop and print black and white photographs. Then I was introduced to super 8 movie film. By the end of grade twelve, I was itching to become a cinematographer. But there were bugga all jobs for women in the industry back then. I went to university and got a profession; the sensible choice.

I never did lose the photographic bug.  I have always wanted to set up a room dedicated to the craft. Set up and developing costs were always the issue. (Portable video cameras made filming easier.) Now I have my digital SLR camera, it is a much cheaper (and less messy) option. No chemicals and cumbersome equipment.

A few weekends ago I put my creative passion to use – my first photo shoot for the first instalments in my series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart and Doctor Jack. My models were fellow costumers – Zena (Viola), James (Man in Grey) and David (Jack and Henry). A thank you to Terry, from Dragonsblood Creations (you saw her workshop in a previous post) who supplied costumes for Viola.

I shot some portraits in studio and on location at Port Adelaide where there is a smorgasbord of 19th century buildings and pubs. Fortunately the weather behaved. The previous weekend had been a scorcher of almost 40 degrees Celsius – not conducive to layered clothing and standing around in the sun.

photoshoot1Adventures Port Adelaide_copyright_KarenCarlisle_2015

Here are a few hints of my plans.
HINTS for blog 3 1503


Sign up for my newsletter – Tea & Tidings –  to be first to hear more of my plans.

All characters and images (c)Karen Carlisle 2015.

My Plans are Afoot: The Adventures of Viola Stewart

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Self Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing

If you have not guessed by now, I have decided to try my hand at self publishing. My first venture is an ebook of three short stories – The Adventures of Viola Stewart, to be followed by the novella Doctor Jack – part of the same series.   I am currently doing one last round of edits before reformatting the stories. The cover will be revealed later this month.

It was not a quick decision, nor an easy one. I took a scientific approach, did some research and looked a the pros and the cons.

Why not to self-publish?

Cons: I decided to start with the negatives, hoping it may put me in a realistic frame of mind.
Not only would I have to write the manuscript but I would have to:
  • organise own editing, come up with a title
  • organise or design own cover, book trailer etc.
  • organise own distribution and marketing and
  • juggle the pricing factor
  • battle the perception of poor quality writing for self-published works
  • more upfront expense
  • no one to prod me along or boost my morale
This meant more work. I couldn’t just hand it off to the publisher who would organise professional editing, artwork – the lot. This would mean I would either have to do the work myself or outsource and pay for it myself.

Why self-publish?

  • push that glass ceiling of published female writers
  • More control on cover, title
  • more control on my own time and deadlines
  • more control on distribution and marketing
  • more control on pricing
  • potentially bigger income 30-70% royalties, compared to 5%-10% (more if lucky, but usually under 12% it seems) royalties via traditional publishing.

Some Facts and Figures:

Royalties: The 7 K report was published by Hugh Howey in early 2014 . It is one of the few statistical analyses of author earnings I have seen. The publishing industry is generally coy about earnings. Now with smashwords, kindle, createspace, lightning source, there are platforms to professionally publish both ebooks and paperbacks. With increased % royalties for independent publishing/self-publishing, there is not only more control for author but increased income per book sold.

Price point? Looking at amazon and smashwords, short stories seem to sell from 0.99 – 2.99 depending on the length. In the blog, A Time Travelling Apocalypse,  a price survey of the top 100 Best selling ebooks sold was published. Sales for 2.99 and 4.99 seem to be on the rise, with 0.99 ebooks having stablised. Sales of books >$7 have been falling over the past year and half.

(So far, I am rolling with: Short stories: 0.99. Novella: 1.99, and Novel 2.99, as I am debut writer. I will review, if the market changes.)

Overcoming past self-published misconceptions:

It is a fact self-publishing has been swamped with a sea of titles. Some are poorly edited, or (worse) unedited. I feel for the unsuspecting reader who buys a book, excitedly begins the story, then finds it unreadable.

But not all self-publishers skip editing, are unprofessional or vanity publishers. They may go independent for many reasons. Their genre may not be deemed marketable by the big publishers, as it is not on current trend. Maybe they wish to take advantage of the increased royalties or to keep control of their work (being also an artist, this is at the forefront of my reasoning for self-publishing). Some traditionally published authors are even self-publishing past books, now they have publishing rights returned to them.

Many independently published authors are professionally edited, have professional covers, and take the time to ensure their writing is up to standard. Thankfully, this appears to be a growing trend in many genres. It is up to self-publishers and hybrid publishers (writers who both self-publish and publish via traditional publishers) to show we can produce quality reading.

I am always reading the advice: Get an editor. Get an professional looking cover. Being a self-published author does not have to equate to being unprofessional. I just hope readers will not dismiss all self-published (or Indie) authors, because of past reading experiences.


I have worked hard for twenty-eight years in my profession, often working (unpaid) overtime and working through lunch breaks. I am no stranger to hard work.

During this time I dealt with people, provided customer service, did sales and marketing and attended seminars on the same.  I have an insight into the amount of work required and am willing to learn more about the book industry. I have a lot more to learn but it was not an inconceivable task.

I have previous (though unpaid) experience at movie making (I even have an official letter from Skywalker Ranch commending one of the fan convention videos I made in the 1990s. Big fan squee!). I have done artwork, design and photography for over thirty years.

I like a challenge. This was going to be a doozy.

There have been recent changes in the traditional publishing scene. More are now requiring writers to have their own social media presence, their own brand and to do more of their own marketing now. It seems most of their time and money is put into advertising the big five sellers. Whatever my final decision, it seems I would have to do my own spruiking anyway.

I set up my professional website and blog, in 2013. Early research into a writing career, suggested it was important to do so as soon as possible. I followed this through with social media and a look to make the connection obvious.

webpage banner

Possibly the biggest bonus, for me, is less outside pressure. I would be working to my own timetable and not stressed by an unbreakable publisher-imposed deadline. This is also more practical when suffering from migraines and other health issues, some of which forced me to quit my day job. If I stay organised, I could possibly make this work.

There, I have said it. It is official. For better or for worse, the buck stops here. I am going to self-publish.  Now the work really begins.

Self Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Tea & Tidings due out in 3 days!

FilmingMarch2015_ViolaStewart_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015I have been busy again, filming the last bits of my secret project for The Adventures of Viola Stewart. I did some filming on the weekend.

Watch this space and sign up for my newsletter to find out more. Invite your friends as well.  You can subscribe to Tea and Tidings with the form below, or at the sign-up page. You can follow my blog by email as well. There is a widget for that, on the right sidebar.

March Tea and Tidings is due out in three days.

Subscribe to Tea and Tidings

* indicates required

Email Format

Powered by MailChimp

TARDIS Mug and Ice_KarenCarlisle_2015

March Tea & Tidings due out in 3 days!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

With a Bit of Ingenuity - A Roll Top Desk Hack

Regular readers will know how much I love my standing desk. Not only does it have long term health benefits (Standing at Attention) but my back is coping better during those marathon writing sessions.

Last month I promised a detailed post on my standing desk. It does not have to be expensive. Let me talk you through how mine was created. It all started with this – a fortuitous find via Freecycle. Yes, it was free. I just had to pick it up (which was not a straight forward assignment).

desk1When I started writing full time, I found my back complained about the longer hours sitting (even with a really comfortable modern office chair).  Research followed; it seemed a standing desk was the answer. There were some gorgeous ones . But the cost! Buying a purpose built standing desk was impractical (plus I did not want to lose my roll top).

Then I found the IKEA hack sites. I decided to do some hacking of my own. It was simple. It was cheap. Here is how I did it.

1. Take measurements. You will need to know the height of your elbows from the floor to give the desk height. If you intend to incorporate your computer, you will also need to work out where the screen will sit. There are several internet sites that give detailed diagrams and discussions on various measurements. MayoClinic, Ikea Hack, Canadian Centre for Occupations Health and Safety. Check them out. Ergonomics is important.

2. Buy some besser blocks from a garden centre (or hardware store). I needed to raise my desk by 30 centimetres – this equated to 1 and a half besser blocks. Total cost A$40.

3. I painted mine. I get dust allergies. Besser blocks get dusty. No brainer, really. Plus I had paint left over from the lounge renovation, a few years ago, and purple is my favourite colour.

4. Liquid nails to glue felt remnants to the top and bottom of the blocks. I did not want to scrape the tiles or damage my roll top desk.

5. Position blocks to fit under the desk. I had to position the blocks so they would allow the desk to hang over the edge (by about 5 millimetres) as the total length of the rearranged furniture was only about 1 centimetre smaller than the wall span. Remember the old costumer’s and carpenter’s rule of measure twice, cut once? I measured this three times. That desk is heavy (we had to get a friend to help lift it). I was not going to do this a second time.

standdesk 2 liquid nails besserblocks standdesk5 setup

6. Lift the desk onto the blocks. I did not have to worry about standard table legs. This would have made this more complicated.

Voila! One standing desk.

7. To complete my writing area, I added an IKEA shelf for some of my writing books. I painted a second hand pine bedside table (in matching colours of course – also obtained via Freecycle), to store my writing and drawing paraphenalia. The furniture was rearranged so I regained my bookshelves. We have about thirteen in the house; these are my personal research books.

standdesk6a standdesk7c standdesk8 standdesk9b

My latest additions to my writing area: A photo of my Dearheart to keep me company, and a trinket he gave me for Valentine’s Day, specifically for my writing desk.

 standdeskdesk photos above 150309  standdesk9c

This is my writing cave, my sanctuary. What does your sanctuary look like?

With a Bit of Ingenuity - A Roll Top Desk Hack

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bugga the Embuggerance.

I write when I am inspired, when I am moved or need to deal with over whelming emotion or grief. Today I flounder to find the words to express the sorrow I feel. Too many words swirl in my head. I pluck out one; it is unsatisfactory. I try another. No good.  I try, in vain, to collect the right words to describe how I feel. I fail.

So I will tell you a story.

It starts in 1999. A new millenium was looming. My Dearheart and I attended World Con in Melbourne – as part of our honeymoon. It was here I first met Terry Pratchett (for he was not yet Sir Terry), while strolling through the hotel halls.

He was questioning a young man about his colour blindness. As a young and enthusiastic optometrist, I joined the conversation – in a technical capacity. I soon found myself discussing Viagra with Terry Pratchett! (not what you think. Cyanopsia is a possible side effects. From that day I suspected those frog pills may end up causing some interesting effects). The conversation wove its way though several topics until he was whisked away for his next talk.
terry pratchett Nullus Anxietus 2011
I next met Sir Terry at another convention – Nullus Anxietus, in 2011. I had won the honour of dining with him at the gala dinner. He was witty, friendly and just a little bit flirty. I won’t call him jolly, though he exuded light-heartedness. I could see the annoyance and outrage in his eyes; he did not let it effect his demeanour as the subject inevitably turning to his embuggerance – his name for Alzheimer’s – and his campaign for assisted dying. Always a gentleman, though our philosophies differed, we had a very interesting, informing and poignant conversation. And a laugh.

I won’t call myself a fan. I consider myself an admirer. Of the man himself – of his intellect, of his passion. He was an amazing man, a writer who spoke to many. I feel fortunate to have met him, before I read his books. When I read his words, I read them in his voice. I remember his sincerity and affability.

His prose is entertaining, poignant, witty, funny. They make me ponder the issues raised and have sparked long discussions with friends and family, especially when my Dearheart’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. There is a great sorrow and sense of loss, watching the spark in the eyes dimming, as pieces of the soul fade. It is my ultimate fear.

Sir Terry’s courage and dignity, his unwillingness to go quietly into the night, will remain with me always. Bugga the embuggerance!

His daughter penned the fitting last tweets:


Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.”

Today I write to honour Sir Terry. A gentleman. A free thinker. An amazing man. The world is a little less bright today; a brilliant mind has been extinguished – too Young.

Good night, sir. Thanks for the adventures. I am honoured to have met you.

Vale Sir Terry Pratchett.  1948-2015

Bugga the Embuggerance.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March Photo Shoot: the Faun, the Trekker and the Steampunk.

A friend of mine did a shout out. Today a few like-minded, over thirty-five costumers and photographers descended on his pop-up studio, to strut our stuff. Thanks to Catherine, (Proper) Dave and Robert for being my models today – in steampunk, Star Trek and Faun finery. Thanks to (other) Dave for letting us run riot in the studio.

Here are a few of my favourite portrait images from Monday’s photo session.

Catherine_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015 CatherineRobert_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015 David_copyrightKarenCarlisle_2015


Sometimes I don’t know which I love more – photography or writing.

All photographs (c)Karen Carlisle 2015.

March Photo Shoot: the Faun, the Trekker and the Steampunk.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fear, Loathing and Submissions

Fear is the enemy. It paralyses, panics. It whispers seductively, its only purpose to stifle imagination, destroy confidence and crush fragile egos. It feeds procrastination, eroding what resolve may remain. It is one of our strongest enemies and weakest ally.

Mostly, it lies. Big fat whoppers. Furphies designed to create even more fear.

Its strongest weapon? What if…

What if I can’t find the words, run out of ideas?
What if I write rubbish?
What if I finish and don’t have the courage to show anyone?
What if I get judged, get laughed at?

Fear of failure.
Fear of finishing.
Fear of being judged.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of embarrassing myself.

notebook stessFear of everything. I understand many writers have the same fears. Maybe that is why 95% don’t complete their project and yet another 95% do nothing, leaving their manuscript in the drawer – hidden from judging eyes?

But I can control it. I can be mistress of my own fate. If I don’t finish, if I don’t submit it, I have no chance of success. None. How I loathe pressing that enter key – that big red button! But it isn’t the end of the world. It is not my doom. Not pressing it is the real tragedy; the end of hope.

Why would I spend months of my life, pouring parts of my soul onto the page, and not give myself even a small hope of publication? Fear of failure… or fear of success?

So I pressed the enter button and submitted my short story for consideration in that anthology. Fleeting panic grips my heart. Too late now. It is done. There is a sense of uneasy relief. I am already ahead of those 95% who did not push that big red button.

Now I have to wait until the end of April for their judgement…

And hope I didn’t embarrass myself too much.

victoria visual

Fear, Loathing and Submissions

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Take a Look Around You: March Photo Madness

“Take a look around you at the world we’ve come to know
Does it seem to be much more than a crazy circus show
But maybe from the madness something beautiful will grow…

– Brave New World, Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds.

The world around us is full of beautiful things, glorious colours, interesting shapes and pleasing compositions. Take some time to look at the world around you and revel in its wonder. My family are now used to me stopping, mid-step, and capturing the sights.

This month I am concentrating on visuals for March Photo Madness. (I am not procrastinating on those rewrites, honest!).

150106 tish age 22 150106 crane above WEA
David 150301_c_KarenCarilisle2015masks150106 couch1

Photographs: (c)Karen J Carlisle 2015. Please do not use images without permission.

Take a Look Around You: March Photo Madness

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Steampunk Hands: International Q&A Project Pts 1-3

Steampunk month is over. My final post for Steampunk Hands Around the World, showcases Ray Dean’s International Q&A on her website, My Ethereality.

Ray interviewed several participants from around the world. Other participants included:  Sally-Ann Livingston (England), Davide Mana (Italy), Josue Ramos (Spain), Jaymee Goh Sook Yi (Malaysia), Paulo Ramirez (Mexico), Arthur Morgan (France), Kenneth Toglia (USA), Suna (Scotland/India), Kevin Steil (Airship Ambassador). I am such splendiferous company!

The interview was blogged in three parts. Here is the complete list of links.

  1. Part One

  2. Part Two

  3. Part Three

It was interesting hearing from fellow enthusiasts from around the world. I have met a few new friends, as a result. (Isn’t that what it is all about?) One of the things I love about steampunk is its willingness to include different cultures and ideas. In this Q&A, we can see a glimpse of steampunk in different countries.  Thanks again to Raydeen for as asking me to be part of this project.


hands_2015_xpk1 (1)


Image: Thanks to Steampunk Hands Around the World.

Steampunk Hands: International Q&A Project Pts 1-3