This Writer's Life · Up Close & Personal

My First Author Interview.


I don’t normally post twice in one week, but this is a special occasion. I have had my first author interview!

Today, I speak with fellow blogger, Jonny Pongratz over at Jaunts & Haunts, about my writing process, film and television, and my short story, The Ghost at Willow Creek. I really enjoyed the interview and found it to be a lot of fun. Many thanks to Jonny for taking the time to do this, I really appreciate it.

You can read the full interview here at Meet the Author: Debbie Johansson

Does this make me a ‘real’ author now? 😉

Main image courtesy Pixabay

IWSG · This Writer's Life · Writing Process

IWSG: Writing in Obscurity.

Last year, I finally ventured into the world of indie publishing. I had read that writers should make the most of their time before publication and this worried me, for I am not comfortable with change. The biggest change has been the need for a shift in mindset, for now, I am running a business, which is a steep learning curve. Otherwise, I remain a small fish in a big pond.

It is now six months since I took that giant leap. My sales may be low, and although disappointing, I am not overly concerned. I never expected anything different. Right now, I am being realistic, knowing that I am only getting started and that I have a long road ahead of me. I am in this game for the long haul.

Of course, one hears stories of debut authors ‘making waves’, which is great as it gives the rest of us hope, but it also gives us pause for thought. We need to keep in mind that when it comes to writing, everyone’s road is different.

Keeping with that analogy, I haven’t made a ‘big splash’, but I am truly grateful for it. I continue to work in small steps, building up a body of work as well as my platform. I still feel, very much, within my comfort zone, knowing that some things take time. Like writing in general, being an indie author is a learning experience. I’m planning to make the most of it.

This is not to say that some good, and quite unexpected changes haven’t happened. 😉

In February, I decided to try the Kindle Unlimited program. My biggest takeaway from the entire ninety days? My short story, The Ghost at Willow Creek, made the Amazon Top 10 Bestseller list in Australia.

Last month after an awful lot of apprehension, I stepped out of my comfort zone once more and created a Facebook author page. I felt like a pretentious fraud. After all, who am I, and why would anyone be interested? I was pleasantly surprised to watch the numbers go up as people began to like and follow my page, and in a matter of weeks, I have come close to one hundred followers.

It was around this time that I received another pleasant surprise, which completely floored me. I received a request from a fellow blogger for an interview. Soon, I will be having my very first author interview, so watch this space!

I have been experiencing a lot of insecurities these past few months. Stepping out of our comfort zones is not without its challenges, but it also comes with some satisfying results.

Are you happy being a small fish in a big pond as an indie author? Have you had some pleasant surprises when you began self-publishing? What insecurities have you been experiencing lately?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy Pixabay

Movies/Television · This Writer's Life

How are You Coping with Life in Isolation?

Life has begun to settle down here in this ‘new normal’. The reality is this was pretty much what my life has been like even before COVID-19. Being an introvert now has some advantages. 😉

Of course, I’m not immune to what is happening in the world and what is happening in some other countries is truly shocking, but in order to not let it overwhelm me, I have cut down my news intake. And I make sure I get my news from reliable sources as there is a lot of misinformation going around, which doesn’t help.

Fortunately, my family and I have not come into contact with the virus, nor faced any real issues of unemployment (although I do naturally worry about the future of my children). I try to keep myself as busy as possible, focusing on my writing and my health and those of my loved ones. Trying to be positive and keeping a sense of humour is also helping to get me through.

I’m gradually returning to early morning walks and yoga, and now that we’re in autumn, I can get back to doing some gardening. When I’m not writing I’m reading, watching Netflix, et al and playing Animal Crossing (both New Horizons and Pocket Camp). I’m finding Animal Crossing a happy place to be during these uncertain times.

As far as writing goes, I have been focusing on doing some on-line courses and learning as much as I can, as well as experimenting with Canva and Book Brush. I am currently undergoing re-writes on two novellas before finishing off the first draft of a third. It’s a series of novellas, which I’m really getting into at the moment and has been a great help during this crazy time.

I also need to get back into blogging. There has been so much going on of late, that some things have fallen through the cracks. I hope to remedy that situation because, without social media, I probably would be going crazy right now! During this time, I want to make my blog a happy place as much as possible (although that has always been my intention). And writing a blog post keeps me happy!

Today, I’ll leave you with what I have been watching this past month. I aim at making this a regular feature, so if you’re ever stuck for something to watch in isolation, I’ll be giving you some recommendations. I watch just about anything, but mainly crime and paranormal. 😉 Stay safe everyone!

What I’ve been watching this past month:-

The Stranger (Netflix)

Based on the novel by Harlan Coben, a mysterious woman tells a man a secret concerning his wife. When his wife goes missing, he undertakes a desperate bid to find her. Uncovering more secrets along the way, this was a show that hooked me in, so I was guilty of binge-watching. With Richard Armitage in the lead role, it’s all the more reason to watch! 😉

The Valhalla Murders (Netflix)

Murders take place in Reykjavik, Iceland, where those killed reveal they have become victims of a serial killer. Delving into the murders, as well as the personal lives of the lead investigators, the story has some interesting twists. This series threw me a bit at the beginning as the voices have been dubbed (I’m used to reading sub-titles), but I soon went with it. The story also captured my attention due to its location, as I’ve rarely watched shows from Iceland.

Haunted Hospitals (Foxtel)

Hospitals are places of birth and death; we are told in the introduction to this series. This docudrama tells the real-life stories of experiences by medical staff within the UK, US, and Canada. Whether you are a believer or not, this series raises the possibilities of what happens to us after death.

Murder Wall (Foxtel)

This docudrama of true crime cases focuses on how a visual murder wall can work as an aid to help police investigations and eventually solve the crime. There were some interesting cases here that I hadn’t heard of before.

How are you coping with the isolation? Have you been writing lately or taken up a new hobby? What have you been watching lately?

Main image courstesy Pixabay

IWSG · This Writer's Life · Up Close & Personal

IWSG: How are Things in Your World during Caronavirus?

These past few weeks have been surreal. It’s certainly been an emotional roller coaster for many of us.

In late February, I had to see to a family issue. My mother has dementia and is going downhill fast, struggling to cope with even the basics. On my return, I had some minor surgery which then became infected and took a little while to get better. During all this, the coronavirus was in the background.

Where some people had difficulty in fully grasping the situation, like those on Bondi beach, we also had the complete opposite where shopping hoarders made it look like something out of a zombie apocalypse. Fear does strange things to people.

Since then, in Australia, things have been moving fast; social distancing, travel banned, state boarders closed. News can change on an hourly basis. Here in New South Wales, there are now fines if someone is caught outside their house without a ‘reasonable’ excuse. Reasonable is essential grocery shopping, exercise, a medical reason, compassionate grounds, or work or education which cannot be done in the house.

Only this week, my husband started working from home after trying to make it happen for some time. It has been during this past week that his offices began taking things more seriously, due to Government intervention.

During this difficult time, people need hope and humour to help get them through.

This made me wonder about my writing and my chosen genres, which are not exactly happy places. And yet, my muse tends to go down dark alleys. Lately I am once again plunged into darkness. Of-course, I like to come out into the light every once in a while!

As writers, right now we have the opportunity to write and share our stories with the world. Whether they are of love, hope, comfort, or to help others face their fears, we need tales of humanity and connection. Now more than ever, more people will want to delve into the world of fiction*.

These times are tough, but we need to remember to just keep going, one day at a time. Tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start afresh, we will make it to the other side. Stay safe everyone!

How are things in your world during caronavirus? How have you been coping during this time?

*Amazon’s Kindle is currently offering two free months to its unlimited e-book service to new users. Both my short stories, The Ghost at Willow Creek and Legacy and Other Short Stories are available through Kindle Unlimited for FREE. Now could be a good time to try stories from new authors. 😉

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy Pixabay

Legacy & Other Short Stories · This Writer's Life

Calling Yourself a Writer & Book News.

Sometimes, when I peruse social media, I encounter people who call themselves ‘aspiring’ writers. I have never referred to myself as an ‘aspiring’ writer. If you write, you simply are a writer.

But I get it though because it was only in recent years that I called myself a writer. I’m finally admitting to myself and to others that I write. It’s taken a long time to own up to it. It was just that I was too insecure to admit it. After years of being mocked or derided for creating stories (yeah, let’s not go there), I quickly learned to keep quiet about it and keep it all to myself. It was safer that way, ensuring that my dreams and my stories remained intact.

Perhaps, what these fellow writers really mean when they say ‘aspiring’ is calling themselves author. Now, that, I can understand. Sometimes, I feel I don’t wish to call myself an author until I have a published novel, as I guess it sounds more ‘authentic’ that way. Maybe it’s a matter of whatever term we feel comfortable with. And that’s what really matters. 😉

* * * * *

Speaking of being comfortable, I was recently thrown out of my comfort zone in a very unexpected way. This was such a surreal moment I couldn’t believe it happened!

My short story The Ghost at Willow Creek made it into the Top Ten Best Seller List on Amazon in Australia over the weekend.

*picks self up off the floor*

Good thing I decided to take a screenshot for prosperity! 😉

Does this make me a ‘best-selling author’ now? 😉

In other news, Legacy and Other Short Stories is now available as an eBook through Kindle Unlimited. It will be available for FREE from 10-14 February 2020 in Australia, as well as other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

Jonathan befriends the new boy in class, but Jonathan has something sinister in mind.

A young boy tests his skills to continue his father’s legacy; a young woman goes to great lengths after a betrayal; a woman confronts her stalker. These stories, along with those of obsession and revenge, explore the dark side of human nature.

‘Quirky tales that will stay with you after you’ve closed the book.’
– Amazon review.

* * * * *

When did you call yourself a writer or are you still struggling to call yourself that? Do you prefer to call yourself an author or you don’t think either term really matters?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

This Writer's Life · Writing

A Sweet Competition.

Recently, I have been working on a project that managed to catch even me, completely by surprise. I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote something different from what I normally write.

As a member of Romance Writers of Australia, this year, I thought I would enter a short story competition. This year’s theme for the Sweet Romance category is ‘Cupcake’. Being a writer of paranormal, I began to wonder how I could possibly fit such an item in as an integral part of a short story. Using one of the many meanings for the word, I did manage to come up with an idea and went with it.

Halfway through though, I began to have my doubts. I wondered if it was going to work, let alone if I could manage to write something completely different to what I normally write, but I managed to get it finished. I sent it off to a beta reader, who is a romance writer and fellow RWA member. They returned it saying they thought it was ‘a fabulous story’ and ‘can’t believe this is only your second romance’. I’ve struggled with writing romances for quite some time, but now I feel I may be on to something. I guess it has always been a case of never say never! 😉

So how does this all fit in with the stories I have already written and self-published? I believe the paranormal is the common thread. I grew up on both horror and romance; Dragonwyck being my favourite novel, which introduced me to Gothic, a genre in which I love. Recently having read a blog post about the appeal of Gothic Horror, only confirmed this for me.

Before Christmas, I read a post on Anne R Allen’s blog about the 3 Things You Need to Become an Author and it made me think about an issue I had thought about for a while. As writers, we need to learn to be adaptable, and lately, my writing tends to be going down a slightly different path (either that or I’m finally going down the right path). I’m following where my muse is taking me and it’s currently leading me to such stories as Dragonwyck, Jane Eyre, Rebecca and even Crimson Peak. Of-course, it’s not stopping me from writing other things, which I plan on publishing this year. 😉

This past weekend, I went over my short story entry for the last time and submitted it to RWA. Not only is this the first time I have entered a competition through the RWA, but the first writing competition I have entered for quite some time. If nothing else, at least I will be getting feedback, which is something I have never had before from a competition.

And yes, this is the second romance I have ever written. Talk about jumping into the deep end!

Do you plan on entering any writing competitions this year? Did you ever receive helpful feedback from entering a competition? Is your muse taking you into a different direction? Have you jumped into the new year by stepping out of your comfort zone or do you plan to?

Main image curtesy Unsplash

This Writer's Life · Up Close & Personal

A Country on Fire.

This post is a little different from what I may usually write because what has been happening lately here in Australia is far from normal. I’ve been trying to be upbeat on social media through all of this, but sometimes it’s hard. Given the subject matter, it is not an easy one for me to write, so I’ll keep it as brief as possible.

So far, the New Year hasn’t exactly been a happy one for me, and fellow Australians. As you may already know, Australia is on fire; the worst in our history and it has been truly terrifying.

Fires have been happening since about August (our winter) of last year and now that we’re in the middle of summer, every new day poses a new threat. I live in country New South Wales and thankfully nowhere near the fires, but we have been getting a lot of smoke and like many Australians, remain ever vigilant.

The news and images have been horrific; parts of the country and animals destroyed that may never be the same again. The South Coast of NSW, where I frequented during my childhood holidays; the Blue Mountains where I once lived; Jenolan Caves where I’ve been a regular visitor over the years; Kangaroo Valley where my family and I stayed for my 20th wedding anniversary; a rainforest we visited up north a few years back that had never seen fire. It makes me wonder how much of my State, let alone my country will be left after this.

Australia and its environment play a large influence on my writing and I’ve seen the effect it has had on my fellow Australian writers; some unable to write because of it. For me, being a Highly Sensitive Writer, it finally came to a head one day last week where I had to take a step back from everything and give myself some space. Thankfully, I felt much better afterward.

Through all of this though, there is hope; the kindness and generosity of strangers, both here and overseas, the sheer bravery of our firefighters, and in more recent days, cooler conditions. When this is all finally over, I hope our firefighters receive the recognition they deserve and we as a country can enable change and move forward.

How does tragedy affect your writing? Does your environment play an important role in your stories? How has 2020 been for you so far?

Images courtesy Pixabay

IWSG · This Writer's Life

ISWG: Did You ‘Know’ You Wanted to be a Writer?

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to another year of reading, writing, and blogging.

Did you just suddenly ‘know’ you wanted to write? My writing journey did not start with a particular book, movie or story; that would come later. No, my writing journey started simply by attending school. In primary school, one of my favourite things to do, was when the teacher wanted us to write our own story (or comprehension as we knew it) as a special project.

Whenever we were asked to do these, I would get an inner thrill, my imagination would take hold and I was always eager to begin writing. I remember receiving good marks on a story about a slater (of all things)! I remember it was about a family of them and the father was killed by someone stepping on them. I guess I had morbid thoughts even back then. 😉 In sixth class, we needed to write a story set during the Australian gold rush, and I wrote it out neatly in an exercise book, where my mother did the cover art. I even had a poem pinned to the school noticeboard for everyone to read. I was embarrassed by such attention.

I was about ten years old when I remember I was talking to my teacher one lunchtime. I don’t recall exactly what we were talking about, but it must have had something to do about my writing because I thought to myself how great it would be to write stories for a living. That was my moment; that was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Uncle Fester was always a favourite. 😉

As I grew older, despite having a family that mocked my writing aspirations, I continued to persevere. I learned how to touch-type, did courses by correspondence, read writing magazines whenever I could and joined professional organisations. It wasn’t until I met my husband and left home that I began to feel comfortable with who I truly am.

It took a long time to get to this point (insecurity being my biggest hurdle), but I am finally published. It’s taken a lot of persistence and hard work to be able to call myself a writer. I have always been one really; it’s just taken me a long time to own it.

Did you always ‘know’ you wanted to be a writer? What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story or series? Was it a teacher/friend/coach/spouse/parent?


The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy Pixabay

This Writer's Life · Writing

2019: Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone.

Usually, at this time of year, I look back at the year that was and think about all the things I could have done differently; namely, getting published. This year, however, I look back at 2019 a bit differently. 2019 was a year I decided to step out of my comfort zone and finally swallow some of those insecurities.

This is what I did: –

  • I had my short stories professionally edited. My editor loved my stories, saying she would be happy to work with me again and wants to know if I’m writing any novels. 😊
  • Re-joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
  • Prepared short stories for publication, including contacting professional cover designers, and setting up an account with Amazon.
  • Attended a local readers and writer’s festival.
  • Entered a short story competition with the Romance Writers of Australia. Although I didn’t win, I did get some great feedback.
  • Enrolled in five – yes, five! – online writing courses.
  • I became an indie author, by publishing a short story and a collection of short stories.

Yes, that last one makes me look back at the year and I feel happy knowing that I finally did it!

Pressing that ‘publish’ button for the first time was more difficult that pressing it for the second time, but I’m feeling greatly relieved at having accomplished that. Now, however, is the ongoing battle of ‘discoverability’ and marketing, but that’s a whole lot of new insecurities and a completely different post right there! 😉

I’ve already made plans and begun working on, my upcoming projects for the new year, so there’s plenty to write and re-write!

Yep, all year round!

Of-course, I wouldn’t have got this far without the continual love and support from my husband and the online writing community. I can’t thank you all enough!

I’ll be taking a break from blogging over the next few weeks and return on 8 January 2020, posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. Stay safe!

Did you step out of your comfort zone in 2019? Is there anything you would have done differently this year? Do you have any big plans for 2020?

Main image courtesy Pixabay

IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Becoming an Indie Author.

This month, for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, my insecurity is on high alert. No, let’s be realistic. Make that extreme! My insecurity this month is on an all-time high because this month I become an indie author.

It’s going to take some time to get used to calling myself that. Despite blogging and being on other forms of social media, I’ve become used to being a writer with no real deadlines to meet or any form of expectations from others. Pressing that ‘publish’ button now changes things, taking it to a whole new level. Now that I’ve committed, I’m in it for the long haul.

And it’s being committed for the long haul that I know is something I can do. Pursuing a writing career has been my goal since I was ten and I’ve done everything I can to get to this point in time. It’s just the perfectionist in me that is having a bit of a struggle. 😉

When I take a step back and really give the situation some thought, what frightens me the most is what other people will think of my writing. Will they like it or not? This then evokes imposter syndrome. Having spent a lifetime surrounded by negativity, this is what I seem to be struggling with the most. Realistically, I know that what I write is not going to be to everyone’s taste and that’s okay; these people are not my ‘tribe’. The trouble is, I am worrying about something that is out of my control. When I stop thinking about that, everything seems fine.

Of-course I’ve thought about the marketing aspect of indie-publishing, but for now, I’ll be sticking with the ‘soft launch’. During this early stage, I’m still learning and there will be some trial and error while I continue to work on my current projects. Over the years, I’ve experimented with different social networks and have now come to stick with the ones I feel the most comfortable with. And this is what I’ve decided I need to do. Do what I feel comfortable doing and take things one day at a time.

My daughter has now finished school, so that marks the end of our school lives. Our household is now entering a new phase. It’s therefore, the perfect time to make the leap into indie-publishing. I’m experiencing a lot of different emotions – nervous anxiety mixed with excitement and relief. I guess I could be feeling like this for some time yet! 😉

There comes a time when one must bite the bullet and say enough is enough. That time for me has finally arrived.

Okay, when I’m not stressing, this is me!

My short story, The Ghost at Willow Creek, will be available soon as an eBook through Amazon. I will be posting shortly with further details.

If you are indie published, how did you work through your insecurities? When it comes to writing, do you worry about things out of your control? Do you tend to stick with what you are comfortable with?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Unsplash