An Author from Ohio

An Author from Ohio is part of ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’, a series of interviews with authors who have worked with editors4you or WriteDesign Publications. The promotional opportunity is also open to other authors. Contact us for details.

An Author from Ohio: Grace Curtis

Promoting Your Books

Around Christmas 2019, I offered my authors a simple way to promote their books through an author interview.

As we writers know, it’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to promote it. Writers tend to shy away from promotion, but it’s vital to kick the shyness habit and get our books out there in the big wide world.

In this fifth interview in the series, the profiled author is Grace Curtis, an author from Ohio who has published several collections of poetry. The Surly Bonds of Earth, a letterpress Chapbook, was selected in 2010 by American poet, Stephen Dunn, as the winner of the Lettre Sauvage contest. In 2014, Dos Madres Press, Cincinnati, published her first full-length collection, The Shape of a Box and in April 2019, they published her third poetry collection, Everything Gets Old.

Grace retired in 2011 from full-time work in healthcare administration in Ohio so that she could write. She was awarded a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Ashland University in Ohio in 2010. She lives in Waynesville, Ohio, a small village in Southwest Ohio.

In An Author from Ohio, we talk with Grace about her third poetry collection, Everything Gets Old.

photo of grace curtis an author from ohio
Grace Curtis, an author from Ohio

The blurb of Everything Gets Old was written by Pauletta Hansel. It says, ‘Everything does get old, including the speaker of these poems and the inclusive “we” to whom they are often spoken… Is it that simple, that literal? What in your mind are you concerning yourself with in these poems as related to the title?’

The title of the book is taken from the second poem, ‘Everything, Including Us, Gets Old’. In part VII of that poem, the last few lines read:

We started thinking the thought

about not thinking,

about giving in

and how it hangs

like after-sex, a detente,

as if settling in or giving up fear

for the first time….

…It knew

that everything, including us,

gets old.

The it here refers to the thought about not thinking, or a sort of giving in to the reality of the fact that everything, including people, get old. The passage addresses the idea that over time, perhaps a lifetime, the speaker arrived at that realisation and acceptance.

But, and this is important, while the notion of a person or persons getting older is front and centre in this specific poem, the book throughout directly, and often indirectly, addresses the idea that all sorts of life events represent that idea, and that aging or a routine getting old, for example, is neither negative or positive. It just is.

Can you say more about that?

Well, I seek to find middle ground in my poetry, where the idea of negative or positive, good or bad, is not a part of the concern. It’s simply poetry of witness and of observation. I try to make it nonjudgmental and apolitical in the common sense. That to me is where lyric poetry, at least my lyric poetry, most often resides, or where I want it to reside—in a place of observation, or maybe simply in a place of artistic expression.

In fact, several of the poems do specifically address age or aging as a concern: ‘On What We Keep’, ‘What if Old People Dress in Camouflage’, ‘The Sun by Another Name’, ‘Battleships’, and others. Many do not.

Some of the poems, like ‘The Choices We Make’, ‘Godbye’ or ‘Autonomy’ feel like meditations, meditation being defined as discourse expressing your considered thoughts on the subject. Does that description ring true for you?

Yes, I would say that statement is accurate. There are a number of poems in addition to the ones you have mentioned that would fall into that category, for instance, ‘An Ostinato on Winter Solstice’, or ‘The Orthography of Wind’.

Some of the poems in the book take on a very personal nature. There are two poems related to my sister’s illness and subsequent passing. The same is true for the long poem near the end of the book, ‘Definitions/Parts/In the Beginning’. This poem is dedicated to my daughter, Samantha, who as a nine-year-old child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It’s fundamentally a poetic conversation about our early journey with that disease.

In our efforts to be exact

we created/

create exact failure.

We fumbled/

fumble with exact. Back

and exact to the store

for the exact supplies.

We exacted/

exact the syringe

I wanted to express the sense of frustration that occurs when trying to manage type 1 diabetes with an exactness that is impossible to achieve, and to capture the idea that it is an ongoing struggle. I wanted to tell an old story in a new way. Perhaps, selfishly, it was less about the art of poetry and more of an act of catharsis for me.

What was different about writing this book compared to the others?

I struggled for a long time with this collection of poems because I wasn’t clear about the direction. I’ve always envied poets who set out with a clear-cut purpose in mind. Once I wrote the title poem, I knew what I wanted the title of the collection to be and I found the poems from my stash or wrote new poems that fitted that vision. I can’t say it was easier or harder than the first full-length collection, but it took less time. Anyway, I write slowly to begin with.

What’s next for you, Grace?

I am currently working on a collection of prose poems. Someone told me they fit into what might be considered lyric prose. These are more meditative, more observational than anything I’ve ever written. You can read a sample poem, ‘Even-Turn’ in the Galway Review.

What advice do you give to aspiring poets who are trying to get their first book published?

I recommend they stick with it and not get discouraged. Here are some specifics:

  1. Read several collections cover to cover and ask yourself, what is the collection doing? How is it held together? What overall impression does it create? What is the poetic arc of this book and how was it created?
  2. Edit, edit, edit. And then, find a good copy editor for a final edit. A lot of small presses that publish most of the poetry today do not provide intense copyediting services. A clean, error-free manuscript can’t help but impress a publisher. It’s well worth it to have a professional look it over, otherwise, you might find yourself with an embarrassing typo that lives on and on in your book. Poetry can be hard for someone else to edit, but a good editor can work with you in all your poetic quirkiness. I struggle with commas, for example. It’s nice to have someone question my decisions.
  3. A publisher once told me to submit to ten presses. If I got ten rejections, then consider some rework of the manuscript. I am always tempted to try to rework the poem or manuscript after I get even one rejection. But don’t. Editors have preferences and it might not have anything to do with the quality of your work. Once you decide to do some rework, ask yourself things like, Does it need a new title? Do the poems need to be sequenced differently? Should some poems be swapped out for others?
  4. You can always consider self-publishing. Leaves of Grass by American poet Walt Whitman was self-published.
book cover for an author from ohio
Grace Curtis, an author from Ohio, ‘Everything Gets Old’

To find out more

You can purchase Grace Curtis’ latest collection, Everything Gets Old at Dos Madres Press.

Grace’s contact information follows:

[email protected], www.gracecurtispoetry.com, www.N2Poetry.com, Instagram @graecellen, Twitter @gracecurtis, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gracecurtispoetry/


We hope you have enjoyed reading about Grace, the first author from outside of Australia interviewed for this series.

A Gold Coast Author

A Gold Coast Author is part of ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’, a series of interviews with authors who have worked with editors4you or WriteDesign Publications. The promotional opportunity is also open to other authors (contact us for details).

cover and books of a gold coast author Sandra Sweeney Ripples from the Wave
Ripples from the Wave, by Sandra Sweeney, a Gold Coast author

A Gold Coast Author: Sandra Sweeney

Promoting Your Books

Around Christmas 2019, I offered my authors a simple way to promote their books through an author interview.

As we writers know, it’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to promote it. Writers tend to shy away from promotion, but it’s vital to kick the shyness habit and get our books out there in the big wide world.

In this fourth interview in the series, the profiled author is Sandra Sweeney, a Gold Coast author who published a moving account, Ripples from the Wave, of losing her son in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Sandra teaches English for academic purposes and is an Academic Skills Advisor at Bond University. A former secondary school teacher, she has also taught international students from all corners of the world.

author photo Sandra Sweeney a Gold Coast author
Sandra Sweeney, a Gold Coast author who wrote Ripples from the Wave

Sandra, this must have been a very difficult book to write. What was your main reason for deciding to write it?

Well, in fact, it was not difficult to write. It was never a chore because it didn’t start out as a book but a scribbling of reflections and I didn’t know where it would end. I didn’t start out writing a book, I was just jotting down my thoughts. It was a way of coping. In subsequent months and years, I thought it would be a good thing for Craig’s daughters, Demi and Forreste, to read in the future and know what happened to their dad. And then I met you, Gail, and you encouraged me over the years to keep going, even though I had no idea when the story would end because I was raising Demi, so a new chapter had emerged.

How soon after the loss of your son did you start writing the book?

On the night of my son’s funeral in January 2005, in a hotel room in Thailand, I began to write about the ritual of the Thai funeral. It was different from western funerals in many ways. It had been a long and exhausting day, but I wanted to remember it – all the little symbols, sights and sounds. Writing comes naturally to me, but since I didn’t have my laptop or any writing paper, I wrote the first lines in the back of a little exercise book with a purple cover. It had been Craig’s book for Thai language classes. In the front part of the book were the curly symbols of Thai script that he’d been practising.

Your son’s young Thai wife was pregnant with their first child. You then brought her to Australia to help raise their daughter, Demi. Can you tell us something about this?

Sheree, my daughter and I, had been to Craig and Maliwan’s wedding in March 2004. Towards the end of the year, he announced Maliwan was pregnant and he was very much looking forward to the arrival of the baby in 2005.

I had only spoken to ‘Wan’, as he called her, a few times because of the language barrier so I hardly knew her at all. But after the tsunami and the funeral in Thailand, I asked her if she’d like to come to Australia to meet the family. She seemed keen to do that after the baby was born. So after the funeral, I returned to my teaching job in Australia and then returned to Thailand a few months later for the birth of the baby. During that visit, I organised visas for Wan and her sister to come to Australia. They arrived when the baby was eight weeks old.

A few weeks into her visit on a tourist visa, Wan casually said one day while we were preparing dinner, ‘Mum, I like to stay.’ That was the defining moment that changed the course of three women’s lives: mine, hers and baby Demi’s.

So that was it? She stayed?

Well, no. It was much more complicated and protracted than I’d imagined. You can’t just land in the country on a tourist visa and decide to stay. The rules are that you have to return to your country and then reapply. It could take years. So I started my quest to keep Wan and Demi by calling immigration. The answer was swift and definite; there were no grounds for Wan to stay. I had become very attached to them and began to feel that the chance to see Demi grow up was slipping away.

I began to think about the many politicians I had met in the course of attending a number of tsunami memorials earlier in the year. They always offered their condolences and said that if they could help in any way, I should get in touch with their office. One of those politicians was Peter Beattie, then Premier of Queensland. I wrote to him, explaining our dilemma but not daring to believe I would receive a reply. To my absolute astonishment, I had an answer from his PR people within hours! He had read my letter and handed it to immigration to investigate. Immigration did call and we were in the Gold Coast train on our way to Brisbane the next day.

We didn’t have to wait; they were expecting us. Demi’s Australian citizenship was granted and, after a tense couple of months and a lot of red tape, the case ended up on Minister Amanda Vanstone’s desk for the final approval. She signed off on it and Wan became a permanent resident on humanitarian grounds a couple of weeks before Christmas 2005. It was only then that we had assurance that Wan could stay in Australia and Demi would be educated here. Thanks to Peter Beattie, the future looked bright and the cloud of uncertainty had lifted. 

It was an incredible transformation for Wan. In less than a year, she transformed from a newly married girl from the rice fields of northern Thailand to an Australian permanent resident!

Your son’s wedding and funeral were both held in Thailand. How were these different from western rites of passage?

The wedding was really lovely because it was loaded with Thai symbolism and custom that I had previously not been acquainted with. It was the happiest of ceremonies. Sheree and I are so glad we had that last time together with Craig. It was a traditional Thai wedding in the north east of the country in Wan’s tiny family village. The wedding planner was Wan’s gay cousin, Ahn, who attended to every detail. There are so many parts that were truly amazing. I can’t list all of them but some examples are: Craig had to buy Wan’s mother a buffalo before the wedding; on the wedding day, the groom’s party had to parade through the dusty streets of the village banging drums, cheered on by excited kids and well-wishing neighbours; there was a string of dressed-up Aussies and Thai family members in their best wedding clothes; my son had to roll up the legs of the pants of his cream, silk suit before entering the bridal house so that his feet could be washed in a red plastic bucket by excited, squealing sisters. Wan has seven!

The ceremony was conducted by an elderly monk and it was the noisiest event you could ever imagine. Everyone was laughing and calling out to one another. The bride and groom knelt on the floor, as did everyone else, and there was a mood of happy chaos surrounded by a forest of magnificent flowers. That’s the best way to describe the wedding ceremony.

The funeral was in stark contrast. I was stressed, having arrived in Bangkok at midnight the night before and in disbelief that I was in a temple with monks chanting and my son’s coffin draped with fairy lights. Funerals last for anything from three to seven days in Thailand. Friends and relatives tend to sleep in the temple so that the deceased is not alone. The cremation ceremony lasted the entire day. Food was being cooked in a kitchen out the back, stray dogs were wandering in and out, sometimes fighting over food scraps, sometimes stretching out in the middle of the floor. Toilet rolls were handed around to mop up tears, chanting monks came and went, boys from the village wore orange monk robes, had their heads and eyebrows shaved and wrestled at times when they were bored, people posed in groups for countless photos in front of the coffin, relatives knelt at the altar or presented robes to the monks at various intervals. Hardly anybody spoke English and I had no Thai so I spent the day feeling confused and lacking any control in farewelling my son. It was so different from the quiet, one-hour ceremony we are used to. But in another way, I later felt privileged to have experienced such a deeply cultural ceremony.

It must have been very difficult under the circumstances to attend your son’s funeral in an unfamiliar culture. What helped you deal with this?

I don’t think I dealt with it very well. I was on the back foot all day, unable to ask anyone, ‘What’s happening now? Why are they doing that?’ I just had a feeling of ‘what on earth am I doing here?’ It was surreal, like having an outer body experience. I couldn’t believe it was happening and yet, I drifted along with events and obligations that swept me forward on the day.

Having written about it so soon after the event, I have managed to keep the details fresh so I’m glad that I started immediately. If I hadn’t done it then, I’d have forgotten so much of the culture on the day of the funeral and the day after when we had to return to the temple crematorium to collect the ashes. That was a very confronting, raw and unexpected experience.

You have a great sense of humour, which comes through in your book. Can you give us some examples?

The topic of death and funerals is quite harrowing so having a sense of humour is really important in a story like this to avoid the doom and gloom that could otherwise take over. Thai superstition was a source of some amusement at times. On the morning of the wedding, Craig, Wan and several Australian mates who had come over for the ceremony had stayed in a hotel in town. Ahn, the wedding planner, had been particular about the necessity for the wedding to happen before 9 am and had ensured that everyone knew the game plan. He gave the impression that it would be very bad luck if we didn’t make it to the wedding at the village on time. I listened to his warning but wondered how, with all the celebrations that night and celebrating at Mr Tong’s Bar until after midnight, it could possibly happen before 9.

Next morning at 8.45, Wan was stuck in the hairdresser’s for hours while everyone sat around in the foyer. The village was 40 minutes away so I just had to ask the question, ‘Ahn, so how bad is the bad luck for missing the 9 am deadline?’

His beautiful face lit up and he smiled and said, ‘No, it OK because last night we see the elephant so everything OK now.’

Whew! We had indeed seen an elephant the night before outside the restaurant and fed her some sugarcane. How lucky was that! In the face of impending doom, the Thais have a way of turning fate around.

Tell us about your ongoing voluntary activities helping Thai immigrants adjust to life in Australia.

It’s 15 years since the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. Life has taken a direction that I could not have predicted. Wan had English lessons at TAFE, then eventually graduated as an Assistant in Nursing Certificate 3 at TAFE, with help from Sheree and me, and eventually she became an Australian Citizen.

All this time, I have remained close to the Thai community. I’ve applied for countless visas and written dozens of letters on behalf of Thai people. I’ve taught them English and advised them about their rights in Australia. I’ve been to a police station for hours after some Australian guy beat his Thai wife. I didn’t know either of them but Wan asked me to help the woman, so I was there to support her while she told her story to the police. My Thai ties are extensive and many of the encounters have been amusing because language and culture are always a stumbling block to communication.

Do you plan to write other books? If so, what will these be about?

I do plan on writing another book. Time is my biggest problem. One day I’ll retire and then I’ll have time to write. But I have started writing a book about a dog, and I’ve met a neighbour who has had a really interesting life so I’m collecting stories from her and may ask her if she’d like me to write her memoir. I will always write because I really enjoy it. I recently wrote a blog for a page online just because I had an amusing story to tell that fitted the topics for that group. To my astonishment, I won $50! I had no idea people were paid for their blog. I’ll write more short stories when I can fit them in.


To purchase Sandra’s book, send her a message on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pg/ripplesfromthewave/

or email her at [email protected]

or SMS her 0410 553 723


We hope you’ve enjoyed ‘A Gold Coast Author’, and look forward to sharing more author stories with you. If you’d like to be interviewed for ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’, drop us a line.

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 17

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter

(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Welcome to the Writers Connect! newsletter

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Interesting Fact
  • Writing Inspiration Quote

Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing

In this issue, we explore a selection of upcoming writing competitions with international reach and free entry that close during April 2020.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

Comp 1: The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize 2020

About: Awarded for the best piece of writing on the theme of the 2020 Alpine Fellowship Annual Symposium: Forgiveness and Retribution.

Open to: All nationalities, aged 18+. All genres. Text must not have been published, self-published or accepted for publication in print or online, or have won or been placed in another competition at any time

Word Count: Maximum 2,500 per entry, one entry only per person

Theme: Forgiveness and retribution.

Closes: 1 April 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prize: Cash Prizes – 1st £10,000, 2nd £3,000, 3rd £2,000

Details here: https://alpinefellowship.com/writing-prize

Apply here: https://alpinefellowship.submittable.com/submit/156072/alpine-fellowship-writing-prize-2020

 

 

Comp 2: Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

About: Humorous poetry

Open to: No age limit (authors from all countries eligible except – due to US government restrictions – Syria, Iran, North Korea, Crimea), published or unpublished works, one entry per person only

Word Count: 250 lines maximum

Theme: Humorous poem

Closes: 1 April 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prizes: 1st: $1,000 + two-year gift certificate $100 value, 2nd: $250, Honourable Mentions: 10 awards of $100 each (US dollars).

Entry link here: https://winningwriters.submittable.com/submit/58279/wergle-flomp-humor-poetry-contest-no-fee

 

Comp 3: Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2020

About: One work of short fiction, mainly in English, original and previously unpublished

Open to: All writers 18+

Word Count: Under 5,000 words

Theme: Around climate change, any genre

Closes: 15 April 2020

Entry fee: Appears to be free

Prize: Winner: $1,000. Nine finalists: $100 (US dollars)

Submission link here: https://everythingchange.submittable.com/submit

Comp 4: Science-me a Story

About: Short scientific stories for children, promoting short stories as a tool to communicate science to children in a fun and engaging way.

Open to: All writers 18+

Word Count: Not stated, check website

Theme: Relating to the scientific method and the everyday life of a scientist, amongst other topics, to achieve engaging scientific communication. The competition has both English and Spanish categories. Must be original and unpublished

Closes: 20 April 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prizes: £150, £100 and £50

Details here: https://sruk.org.uk/initiatives/public-engagement/science-me-a-story/

 

Word of the Day

nanocephalous

A medical term meaning ‘having an abnormally small head’.

 

Interesting Fact

William Shakespeare, who died three days short of his fifty-second birthday, coined the terms dead as a doornail, in a pickle, wear your heart on your sleeve, star-crossed lovers and off with his head, along with many others. Amazing to think these terms continue in use five centuries later!

 

Get Inspired

‘Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window’—William Faulkner.

 

What is your writing target for this weekend?

The Profiled Author

The Profiled Author is part of ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’, a series of interviews with authors who have worked with editors4you or WriteDesign Publications. The promotional opportunity is also open to other authors (contact us for details).

The Profiled Author: Greg Kater

Promoting Your Books

Around Christmas 2019, I offered my authors a simple way to promote their books through an author interview.

As we writers know, it’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to promote it. Writers tend to shy away from promotion, but it’s vital to kick the shyness habit and get our books out there in the big wide world.

In this third interview in the series, the profiled author is Greg Kater, a prolific author who has so far published four novels: The Warramunga’s War, The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War, Skills of the Warramunga and Conflict on the Yangtze. And he hasn’t finished writing yet!

Today, we chat with Greg about his four books. Meet Greg on his website.

Tell us how you started writing

I am an 80-year-old Australian living on the Gold Coast of Queensland. I retired as a geological and geophysical consultant to the resources industries five years ago. During my professional life, I was always busy and never had time for writing anything but thousands of technical reports.

On my retirement, I had time on my hands and decided that I would like to write fiction using my knowledge of different lands and peoples. I had worked with many weird and wonderful people and thought it would be fun to include them (under different names) in my novels.

That’s an interesting point, because your characters are vividly painted, likeable (the goodies!) and realistic. Did you tell these people they were going to appear in your books? How did they react?

No, I didn’t tell anyone in advance that I might base my characters on them. At first, I didn’t know which characters I was likely to develop as the story progressed, but each situation brought forth a new memory. Most of the characters I remembered are diverse and spread out all over the place. Some may not now be alive. Contemporaries of mine who have recognised themselves in my novels have been most amused (and, I hope, pleased).

I was fascinated and completely drawn in by the descriptions of countries, locations, buildings and customs in your novels. How were you able to make them so vibrant?

I travelled extensively and worked in all parts of the world and in all sorts of environments, from Australian desert and remote bush country to parts of the USA, Central America, South East Asia, Russian Siberia, the Middle East and most provinces of China. The countries and locations in my books are all personally familiar to me.

Tell us about your books.

The profiled author’s first book

My first book, The Warramunga’s War, was initially based on my father’s war diaries and his involvement in the Syrian campaign and the desert war in the Middle East and North Africa during World War II. My principal characters were based on people I had worked with at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, including some of the local aboriginal people, the Warramungas, during the 1960s. All the localities in the book are places where I have been and know well.

book cover for the profiled author the warramunga's war
The Profiled Author: Greg Kater’s The Warramunga’s War

Greg’s second book

My second book, The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War, which takes place in early 1946, deals with the trafficking of children from the war-torn Philippines. I lived in the Philippines for 11 years from 1969 as VP with one of the major mining companies there. I learned a great deal about the havoc and suffering during the Japanese occupation, as well as some of the terrible things that happened later as criminals took advantage of the chaos in the aftermath of war. I felt a need to write about this.

book cover greg kater
The Profiled Author: Greg Kater, The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War

The third book in the Warramunga trilogy

My third book, Skills of the Warramunga, takes place in Malaya, where I have also worked throughout the country. In the aftermath of World War II, many different groups, including communists, bandits, Nazis and others, were trying to gain control of all or part of the Malayan Peninsular from the British. The novel deals with the period when the British created the Malayan Union in April 1946. It showcases the extraordinary tracking skills of the Warramunga aborigines, which I witnessed first-hand during my time at Tennant Creek.

photo of book cover for the profiled author
The Profiled Author: Greg Kater, Skills of the Warramunga

The fourth book – Greg couldn’t let his characters go!

I had originally set out to write a trilogy using the same principal characters, but after the third novel I just couldn’t let them fade away! So, I wrote Conflict on the Yangtze. I have been to China more than a hundred times and am very familiar with the landscape and the people. In 1946, although Japanese occupation had ended, there was still a good deal of fighting throughout China between the government (the Kuomintang), the communists, warlords and various criminal groups, all trying to establish centres of power. Most of the leading families mentioned in the novel are real and there certainly was some opium smuggling going on at that time.

book cover for the profiled author
Greg Kater’s Conflict on the Yangtze

Your books clearly required a huge amount of painstaking research. How did you go about this?

In spite of my intimate knowledge of the localities and their histories, I had to undertake a great deal of research to confirm the accuracy of the historical events my fictional characters were involved in. I researched material from libraries, diaries and known histories as well as talking to people who had been around during the war in the different countries. As mentioned before, I was also able to use my father’s war experiences in my first novel.

Did you enjoy doing the research? Why?

Historical research is very fulfilling. I have always been interested in history and the research enabled me to learn much more about past events than I previously knew. That gathering of knowledge, in no small way, increased my enthusiasm for ensuring the accuracy of historical events.

What are the main themes in these four books?

Apart from a good amount of action, adventure and history, I have tried to include the themes of friendship, trust, humour and skills, mixed in with a certain amount of love and romance.

Who do you consider is your main audience?

I think my main audience comprises all ages, from 15 years up. With my style of historical fiction, I don’t believe it necessary to spice up the narrative with lurid descriptions of steamy sexual affairs or extreme violence. In wartime and its aftermath, violence does occur. When it does, I have generally moderated the descriptions as far as possible to appeal to a wider audience.

Many authors struggle with promotion. How have you gone about promoting your book, and what success have you met with?

Yes. As with all other authors, I struggle with promotion. I have been fortunate to have the support of the Online Book Club and other such organisations which have produced hundreds of maximum star reviews for my books and supported me in other ways. I have also been fortunate to have received several book awards from various international groups that run competitions. If any of that translates into book sales, we’ll have to see…

Greg, I believe you’re currently writing your next book. Can you give us a sneak peak, without giving too much away?

I am about 70% through another historical fiction novel which is set in a completely different period to that of my first four books. The working title is Scent of a Foreign Land. It follows the adventures of a family in the 1830s-40s who sail to Australia from England and carve out a life for themselves producing cattle and sheep in the vast wild country over the mountains west of Sydney.

The story is based on the detailed diaries and letters of my great-great-grandmother, as well as letters and histories of other ancestors. Writing this novel has been slow, as I am in possession of almost too much research material. However, it is a wondrous thing to be able to get into the minds of my forebears. They were a hardy lot. It is quite a series of adventures.

You can read reviews of and purchase Greg’s books by:

Going to Greg’s website and purchasing from one of the suppliers listed there.


In our next ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’ series, we chat with another Gold Coast author who wrote a moving account of losing her son in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

If you would like to be interviewed for this series as a featured author, please contact us.

Featured Authors

Featured Authors is part of the series of interviews ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’. Featured authors have worked with editors4you or WriteDesign Publications. The promotional opportunity for featured authors is also open to other authors (contact us for details).

Featured Authors: M.B. Wynter

Promoting Your Books

As we writers know, it’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to promote it. Writers tend to shy away from promotion, but it’s vital to kick the shyness habit so that we can get our books out there in the big wide world.

In our second interview of featured authors, we chat with M.B. Wynter, an Australian author from Sydney. The Fetal Position is her first YA fiction novel.

featured authors photo of M.B. Wynter the fetal position
Featured Authors: M.B. Wynter, The Fetal Position

Can you give us an elevator pitch of your story?

The Fetal Position follows the lives of my two protagonists, Dwaine Hauser and Paige Wyander, a young couple from Sydney and Melbourne respectively who are at a crossroads. Personally, they are in distress, and their relationship has come to a standstill. Paige suffers from a disability that greatly affects her relationships and her ability to manage a seemingly easy life, while Dwaine is trying to graduate high school despite his father’s recent incarceration. The novel has both lovely as well as cringingly awkward moments, which to me is a young adult’s life in a nutshell.

The Fetal Position is YA fiction. Have you found that people other than young adults also purchase your book? What feedback have you had from such readers?

Surprisingly, yes, and the feedback is mostly the same. In both online reviews and in person, many say that the book is a little too graphic for their liking in terms of sexual content. My response to that has been, ‘This is what young people do.’ I didn’t write an erotic fiction novel, but I wrote one that doesn’t shy away from what happens behind doors in a young person’s life. Particularly when the book is centred around a couple who are very much in love.

Some other responses I’ve received have been nostalgic. I reference a lot of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music, and I realise that most young adults wouldn’t be familiar with half of it, but it worked with readers over 25. I’m relieved because yes, The Fetal Position is YA fiction, but what writer wouldn’t want their work to appeal to everybody? 

I believe it took you a number of years to finish your book. You began at the age of 13 and published your book in 2018. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing and completing your book?

No one on earth will ever know the agony I went through to write and complete this book. I was 13 years old; I was in year 8, I was a top student living a healthy lifestyle and I was very happy. I initially wrote about 25,000 words of The Fetal Position (which didn’t have a title until a few weeks before I published it) but then life began to change for me on a personal level. I won’t delve into it but the next 10 years were a severe struggle and it affected every aspect of my life, including my writing.

I was stuck. I didn’t have writer’s block (I knew exactly where my characters were going) but I was a kid, I knew nothing about writing a novel and I knew no one who had written one. I’d read a hundred books and all I knew was that The Fetal Position had its place on paper.

Stephen King says there are really only two things you need to do in order to be a writer; you need to read a lot and you need to write a lot. I read that quote when I was a teenager in the midst of my struggles, and it made perfect sense to me. There are no excuses or shortcuts. I struggled in my youth, yes, but I never stopped doing those two things. The writing took up most of my high school education and a few years after, but by 2018 I’d finished the first draft and needed professional assistance.

You redrafted your novel many times, but your book has an intriguingly mature perspective and contains many mature insights. Did you feel particularly ‘mature’ when you began writing your book?

The funny thing is that as I grew up, so did the story. Paige is 21 and Dwaine is 18. I (the person who made them up in my head and gave them names and scars and secrets) was 13. I felt mature when I started writing it, and in many ways I was, but it didn’t take me long to realise I was coming up short in some areas. I would map out a crucial scene, but when it came to writing it, I couldn’t inject emotion into it because I hadn’t felt those emotions myself.

That’s why I had to redraft parts of The Fetal Position multiple times. By the time I published it at 23 years old, I felt everything I needed to feel in order to do my characters justice and not sell them to the world ‘half done’.

Young adults are sometimes faced with adult issues. You told me these shouldn’t be treated lightly. Can you give a couple of examples from your book?

Many children are faced with situations where they’re forced to grow up very quickly. I knew when I started writing it that the mature themes were going to cause some controversy. My mother hasn’t finished reading it because in the first chapter there’s a moment when Paige and Dwaine witness her mother having sex in the living room. I understand my mum’s reservations as well as everyone else’s, but society needs to remember that this scene is not far-fetched for some people. Some kids have to be the ones to look after their parents, just as Paige does with her drug-addicted mother. I wanted to be as authentic as possible when writing this story, I didn’t sugar-coat anything.

Paige suffers from an illness where she must be medicated, and medication has side-effects. In recent times, the world is learning that adolescents struggle with many ‘adult’ problems, including mental illness, and it was important to me to factor this in when writing scenes that to some would be controversial. In reality, there are millions of Paiges out there.

Your book is set in 1994. Has anyone who’s read it asked, ‘Why isn’t this book set in the 21st century’? Why did you set in the mid-1990s?

The 90s were a simpler time for communication due to the lack of technology. I fell in love with and respected my characters to the point where I was afraid to ‘write’ them for fear I would fail them. Crazy, I know, but my way of making them great was to have them speak face to face rather than on Facebook Messenger. They deserved a love that was typically 20th century. I love writing scenes that don’t include a text message. I love writing intimate moments that don’t necessarily include nudity. People don’t speak to each other anymore. It’s ironic coming from me, but typing out words isn’t speaking. Using your ‘voice’ is the most daring thing of all, I think.

Many people have asked me why the book is set between 1990 and 1994, and I tell them the same thing: Even though I was a teenager in the 21st century, I liked it better back then. And the happier I am, the better I write.

I’m sure you can imagine their confused expressions at that one.

Did you have an initial inspiration for the book, or did it just ‘happen’?

I fell in love with writing when I was nine, and when I was 13 I said to myself, ‘I want to write a book for teenagers. I don’t know what it’s going to be about but I want to write something real. I want to write something that I would read a million times over.’

The next day, I saw an image in my head of Dwaine with his long hair and the day after, Paige looked at me with a sad face, and I just went from there.

Paige is 21 and Dwaine is 18, and they meet when Dwaine is still in high school. Despite the three-year age difference, in many ways, Dwaine is a lot more mature than Paige. Was this intentional? If so, why is it important to your story?

I deliberately made the characters and their personalities this way to avoid gender stereotypes and ageism. Dwaine is, in fact, more mature than Paige. He’s more emotional, he’s shy and he has a lighter presence. Paige, however, has a quicker mind, she’s more logical and she’s generally complicated. Typically, in the arts, the roles are reversed. I have a male friend who after he read the book said to me, ‘This dude is so many of us but he’s not what women want and it shows because Paige rages it at him.’ I replied, ‘Whether or not that’s true, you just said he’s so many of you and that’s all I wanted to write about.’ Something true, something people can relate to and something that both men and women can take away. That’s important to me. An artist can’t achieve much if they don’t understand people. People can’t be truly stimulated unless they feel understood.

When you began writing the book, you yourself were still at high school. What aspects of school life in the book are taken from your own high school experiences (if any)?

To be honest, so much of my high school experience isn’t reflected in the book for various reasons including the fact that I don’t remember a lot of my high school life (I mentioned my youth was a bit rocky). However, the only place I ever felt truly safe and understood was the library. If you read the book, that’ll make sense.

What do you believe is the main message of your story?

The entire foundation of Paige and Dwaine’s romance is based on the fear of the unknown. The way Paige sees herself in a negative way stems from her fear of not understanding why she suffers from a ‘curse’ of a disease. There’s a chapter I titled ‘Homophobia’, which represents the fear of something that people don’t understand. The 90s was a homophobic time. I don’t know if fear is the message I want to convey, but I certainly do want to show others that fear gets you nowhere at all, and sometimes it even gets you into trouble.

My English teacher in high school once said to me, ‘Once an author releases their work, it no longer belongs to them.’ I didn’t understand what she meant until she said, ‘People are going to dissect the shit out of your work and make it whatever they want it to be. You can tell them it’s not true, but why do that? People want to be entertained.’

I was angry. I knew people would think I had written a love story when I hadn’t. She said to me, ‘You want to be a novelist, right? That’s something you need to come to terms with.’ That’s what I did, so there isn’t a direct message. My readers will take care of that.

Ok, so here comes the question that all novelists either dread or smirk at! Is any part of your book autobiographical?

I wasn’t expecting this question but now I’m dreading answering it! I’m adamant that this book isn’t based on my life whatsoever, but I threw two pieces of me in there. The first was the music I loved and the second was my obsession with everything 90s. I also wanted to pay tribute to Nirvana and document Cobain’s death. Like Dwaine, they were my favourite band as a teenager.

So no, The Fetal Position isn’t autobiographical. Did I feel the way my characters feel when I was a teenager? Hell yes. 

Are you planning to write further novels?

Of course! I’ve mapped out a new manuscript. It’s also YA fiction, but it’s not a sequel to The Fetal Position. However, given the long and difficult 10 years I spent writing my first novel, I decided to put it aside and let it gain its strength while I wrote something a little less complicated, some poetry, which I’ve just finished.

The poetry is autobiographical, so those who found my vague comments on my adolescence interesting will have a chance to be nosy. And I welcome it! All updates will be through my social media. I can’t wait to share my next piece of work with you all.

How is your experience of writing your first novel affecting how you write your second?

I made a billion mistakes getting started and writing The Fetal Position, which I like to refer to as ‘writer growing pains’. I spent too many years striving for perfection when it didn’t exist. I spent too little time believing in my words and more time trying to comfort the characters in my head who I loved so much but who literally couldn’t love me back. When I started working with my writing coach and editor, she taught me so many things, from simple grammatical tips to massive ways to structure a novel. Editing a book is just as important as writing it, and with all this knowledge I know it won’t take 10 years to write the next one. I don’t recommend that to anybody. Time was my enemy for a long time, but it’s my friend now.

Featured Authors cover The Fetal Position
Featured Authors: M.B. Wynter, The Fetal Position

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Next time in featured authors, we’ll be interviewing a prolific Gold Coast-based author about his books.


Contact us to find out about being interviewed for featured authors.

Writing Festivals 2020

My Writers Connect! Newsletter, generally produced fortnightly, is now combining with some of my blog posts, as in this one, Writing Festivals 2020. Here, we highlight some upcoming writing festivals in NZ and Australia.

In today’s blog, we finish up with a word of the day, a fun fact about a famous writer, and a brief tip to keep you inspired.

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for blog writing festivals 2020
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Writing Festivals 2020 – NZ

Wellington, New Zealand

2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts

This festival is an absolute smorgasbord of events in the arts, with dance, theatre, music, visual arts, opera and of course writing. We focus on the writing program below. Some events are free. It’s well worth a visit to beautiful New Zealand.

Writers’ Program

22 February – 14 March 2020 (Note: full festival runs 21 Feb – 15 March)

Entry: Individual session $NZ19.Take Five Pass’ 5 sessions  $NZ76

Details of writers’ events here:

https://www.festival.nz/events/writers/

Details of all festival events here:

https://www.festival.nz/events/all/

Writing Festivals 2020 – Australia

Below is a selection of Australian writing festivals coming up within the next four months.

Perth Festival – 2020 Literature & Ideas

21 – 23 February

Set in the grounds of the beautiful University of Western Australia, the 2020 festival is all about discussing the most pressing issues of our time: land, money, power, sex. There are plenty of free events.

Download the program here:

https://www.perthfestival.com.au/media/qpejkjfl/lit-ideas-brochure_245x345_2020.pdf

Writers’ Week – Adelaide Festival

29 February – 5 March 2020

This is truly an inclusive event. All sessions at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden are FREE. The Opening Event is ticketed. Selected sessions will be live streamed toschools, libraries and retirement villages from Mon 2 Mar to Thu 5 Mar.

Download the program here:

Download the live streaming events here:

Tickets for opening event here:

https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/events/2020-writers-week/the-only-constant/

Sydney Writers’ Festival

27 April – 3 May 2020

You can look forward to around 300 events during the week-long festival across the city.

The festival is a not-for-profit organisation and their aim is to be accessible to a wide range of audiences.

The full program will be announced mid-March 2020. Meantime, you can subscribe to their e-newsletter to receive updates. See link below.

Sign up to e-newletter for festival updates:

https://tickets.swf.org.au/account/create/brief?tnewq=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&tnewp=7e49d929-999b-4d6f-9966-f9915a9ae1f0&tnewts=1486944578&tnewc=swforg&tnewe=swf2016&tnewrt=AfterEvent&tnewh=a8090119f46e5dbde9eeac794c714cef

About the festival here:

https://www.swf.org.au/about-us/

Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival, WA

15 – 17 May 2020

This is the largest regional literary event in Western Australia. It attracts novelists, journalists, academics and established and emerging storytellers from WA, interstate and overseas.

The program will be announced during February. Not long to wait!

Stay tuned for festival updates:

https://mrrwfestival.us14.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=80cd9ddb1d9a87e3b96e5327d&id=0e8660bdcf

About the festival

Word of the Day

bae

Meaning ‘a boyfriend or girlfriend; a romantic or sexual partner’, bae is mainly used as a term of endearment. It is now officially listed (as of June 2019) in the Oxford English Dictionary, so go ahead and use it in your YA fiction without fear!

Fun Facts – Enid Blyton

One of the most successful children’s storytellers of the 20th century – with more than 600 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Enid Blyton (1897 – 1968) wrote 762 books. Her mother thought her writing was a waste of time! Enid generally wrote 6,000–10,000 words daily. Her writing routine involved beginning after breakfast and writing until 5 pm, with a short break for lunch, her portable typewriter on her knee and her favourite red Moroccan shawl nearby. Red was a ‘mental stimulus’ for her.

What’s your writing routine, and do you have any quirky writing habits?

Get Inspired – George Orwell

‘A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: 1. Could I put it more shortly? 2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?’—George Orwell, Politics and the English Language.


Writing festivals 2020 is…

… a regular update about competitions, festivals and other writing events. Festivals and writing events are a great way to meet other writers and keep up with what’s happening in the world of writing!



writedesign publications logo for writing competitions jan and feb 2020 post

Need help writing your business book?

One of the best ways to build credibility in your business is to write and publish a book. It creates trust in you and in your business.

You can sell your book, and promote it as a giveaway at keynote speaking events, seminars and training sessions.

Where do you start?

That’s where WriteDesign Publications comes in.

Affiliated with editors4you (established 2006), which provides professional editorial services including book editing, manuscript appraisal and writer coaching, WDP and editors4you together offer an end-to-end service to writers and business owners.

Drop us an email at [email protected] or give us a call on 0405 695 534 Ask for our cheat sheet where we show you how to plan your book in 30 minutes.

Let’s Talk with the Authors

‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’ is a series of interviews with authors who have worked with editors4you or WriteDesign Publications. The promotional opportunity is also open to other authors (contact us for details).

Featured Author: Deborah Peden

Promoting Your Books

Just before Christmas 2019, I had the idea to suggest to my authors a simple way to promote their books by offering an author interview.

As we writers know, it’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to promote it. Writers often tend to shy away from promotion, but it’s vital to kick the shyness habit so that we can get our books out there in the big wide world.

Today, we kick off the Let’s Talk with the Authors Featured Author Interviews and chat with author Deborah Peden from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, about her book 100 Ways to a Healthy 100.

photo of deb peden author for post let's talk with the authors
Let’s Talk with the Authors: Deb Peden, author of 100 Ways to a Healthy 100

Let’s Talk with the Authors: About Deb

Deb has a degree in English and History, and a BEd. She’s a Life Coach and Trained Demartini Method© Facilitator.

I think you can tell from her photo that Deb is a living example of health and wellbeing. In fact, for over a decade she’s been researching health and wellness, and supports others through workshops, seminars and face-to-face consultations.

Her book 100 Ways to a Healthy 100 is a combination of her passions: balanced wellness, educating and writing, and distilling ancient and contemporary wisdom into a readable and relatable format.

Let’s Get Cracking and Chat With Deb

Is 100 Ways to a Healthy 100 your first book?

Yes, this is my first published non-fiction book. I’ve written a number of creative pieces and have had magazine articles and short stories published over the years.

Where did your health journey start? Because you’re not exactly 100!

In 2008, I had a health crisis, triggered by years of sugar addiction. I read David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison around that time. His easy-to-read text with its science-made-simple approach helped me turn my health around, and the wake-up call ignited a desire to discover other ways to stay healthy and live a long life. I uncovered the secrets of the supercentenarians – those wonderful folk who’ve made it past 100 years, hale and hearty! In my book I share their wisdom to help my readers meet that milestone. I’m 62 years of age now, so I’ve got 38 years to reach full credibility!

(62, really?! You look at least 10 years younger!)

You told me you experienced some challenges while researching and writing this book. What kept you going?

Writer’s block inevitably reared its ugly head from time to time. Whenever I hit a wall with my research, I reminded myself of the chilling health statistics associated with lifestyle choices; choices that I had been making most of my life. For example, there are 422 million people worldwide (1 million of those Australians) living with type-2 diabetes. This figure doubled from 1980 to 2014! I knew I had an important message to get out there, and I persisted because I cared about my own health and the health of millions of others.

Then there were the fascinating facts I dug up that helped keep me going. For instance, the relationship between the health of the gut and the health of the brain/emotions – known as the gut-brain axis.

Does your book address the healthy mindset aspect?

100 Ways to a Healthy 100 addresses all seven areas of life: Mental, Vocational, Physical, Spiritual, Familial, Financial and Social. Community and connection, the social aspects of life, are proven to be one of the main reasons for those living healthy lives to 100 and beyond.

I understand the book was 4½ years in the writing. Did you expect to finish writing your book?
Yes and No! I had the title for my book very early on, although I considered it just a working title and thought a more condensed one would reveal itself as the book unfolded. What I didn’t expect was that I would modify my lengthy title by increasing the number! It swelled from 30 Ways … to 50 Ways … to 75 Ways … before finally becoming 100 Ways to a Healthy 100.

I had a message to share with others. I got over my self-doubts, sat down and did the work, trusted my own abilities. I ended up having a greater fear of keeping the ‘music’ locked up inside of me, than of sharing my message with the world.

What would you say is a key message for your readers?

We need to take control of our own health, not just buy into what food manufacturers say is ‘healthy’. I did my homework, trusted my gut and went back to the basics.

I follow the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, who said, ‘Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.’

If Hippocrates lived today, he’d qualify that by saying he means real food, not the processed stuff on supermarket shelves!

How would you condense your message for your readers?

I would summarise by offering four key points:

  • Eat as low down the food chain as possible
  • Move/exercise: it doesn’t need to be overly vigorous for longevity
  • Connect with others: community connection is said to be the most powerful strategy for long life
  • Find out what your purpose is in life and go for it. Serve others. Purpose is said to be more indicative of longevity than race, gender and educational levels.

Has there been a key influence in writing this book?

Aside from recognising my own poor health choices and health challenges, a major influence in writing my book was Dr John Demartini, a specialist in human behaviour who wrote the Foreword for my book. One of his key messages that continues to resonate with me is: ‘When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear and loud than all opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life.’

You’ve incorporated humour and anecdotes in your book. Can you tell us about that? And about the illustrations?

I’ve taken a relatively serious topic – health – and injected a little humour. My creative writing in the past has always been about entertaining people, so it was natural to thread it through the pages.

My illustrator, Sean Leahy, is a well-known cartoonist: humour, irony and satire are part of his stock-in-trade. I gave Sean free rein to choose the topics for illustration. He modelled the two comical figures on the cover and throughout the pages on my husband and me. I love the way he was able to create humour in the otherwise-ordinary, and it helps to engage my readers.

Do you plan to write further books, on health topics or any other? If so, would you like to share?

I don’t have another book in mind at this stage, but I have been gathering important updates and new knowledge for an updated edition of 100 Ways to a Healthy 100. As balanced good health is my most important value, I’m constantly researching, looking out for and learning from others about ways to help us all live a long and healthy life.

front cover of book for let's talk with the authors
Get your health in shape. Click on Deb’s cover above to purchase her book

In the next ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’ series, we’ll be chatting with a young Sydney author about her YA fiction novel.


Contact us to find out about being interviewed for your book.

Writing Competitions Jan and Feb 2020

My Lonely Writer Newsletter, produced weekly or fortnightly, is now combining with some of my blog posts, as in this one, Writing Competitions Jan and Feb 2020.

In today’s blog, we finish up with a word of the day, a fun fact about a famous writer, and a brief tip to keep you inspired.

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe writing competitions jan and feb 2020
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Put Your Writing to the Test

Writing competitions are a great way to open your writing up to an audience of professionals, without having to go through the – sometimes – discouraging process of submissions to publishers and agents.

With some competitions, you can even pay a little more on top of the entry fee to receive feedback. This can be so valuable!

Australian and International Writing Competitions

Below is a selection of writing competitions in Australia and internationally that you can submit various types of writing to this January and February.

Australian Writing Competitions

AWC Furious Fiction

About: Short story up to 500 words. First Friday of every month. Next starts 5 pm Friday 7 February.

Open to:Writers 17 years plus anywhere in the world

Theme: Follow the story prompts revealed when the competition opens

Closes: Midnight Sunday 9 February

Entry fee: Free

Prize: First: $500

Details here: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/

The Writing Quarter Competition

About: Monthly short story competition up to 3,000 words

Open to: Writers 18 years plus, any nationality, any country of residence

Theme: Open

Closes: Next competition closes 29 February

Entry fee: Free

Prize: First: $30

Details here: https://writingquarter.com.au/competition/

Boyup Brook Bush Poetry Competition

About: Bush verse

Open to: All

Theme: Original Australian verse

Closes: 31 January 2020

Entry Fee: $10

Prizes: First: $100. Emerging Poet: $100

Details: Please email entries to [email protected]

International Writing Competitions

The Masters Review Winter Short Story Award

About: Short story, up to 6,000 words

Open to: Emerging Writers internationally

Theme: Open

Closes: 31 January 2020

Entry Fee: $US20

Prizes: First: $US3,000 + publication online. Second: $US300. Third: $US200

Details here: https://mastersreview.com/short-story-award-for-new-writers/

Flash 500 Short Story Competition

About: Short story, 1,000—3,000 words

Open to: International

Theme: Open

Closes: 29 February 2020

Entry Fee: One entry £7. Two entries £12. Three entries £16. Four entries £20

Prizes: First: £500. Second: £200. Third: £100

Details here: http://www.flash500.com/index_files/ss.html Rules here:  http://www.flash500.com/index_files/ssr.html

Michael Terence Publishing Winter Short Story Competition

About: Up to 3,000 words

Open to: International

Theme: Most genres accepted

Closes: 29 February 2020

Entry Fee: £5 for each story entered

Prizes: First Prize: £400 + publication in MTP Anthology + Anthology title based on title of winning entry. Second: £300 + publication in MTP Anthology. Third: £200 + publication in MTP Anthology.

Details here: https://www.mtp.agency/copy-of-competition

Word of the Day

Albertopolis

Until today, I had not heard this word. It is a nickname referring to the area of museums and other cultural institutions on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London. It was named after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, to both celebrate and satirise his role in Victorian life.

Fun Fact – Agatha Christie, surfer

The British crime novelist may have been one of the first British surfers. She and her husband learned to surf during an international trip. At the time, she was in her early thirties. According to some sources, the couple was among the first British people to stand up on a surfboard.

Get Inspired

If you’ve been writing bits and pieces for years, dedicate a rainy day to digging them out and rereading them. Pick out the most promising piece you’ve written, and develop it into a short story or novel.

Writing competitions in Jan and Feb 2020 is…

Just the beginning of a regular update about competitions you can enter. They’re a great way to test out your writing in a non-threatening environment. Go to it!


writedesign publications logo self-publishing services

Writing your Business Book

One of the best ways to build credibility in your business is to write and publish a book. It creates trust in you and in your business.

You can sell your book, and promote it as a giveaway at keynote speaking events, seminars and training sessions.

Where do you Start?

That’s where WriteDesign Publications comes in.

Affiliated with editors4you (established 2006), which provides professional editorial services including book editing, manuscript appraisal and writer coaching, WDP and editors4you together offer an end-to-end service to writers and business owners.

Drop us an email at [email protected] or give us a call on 0405 695 534 Ask for our cheat sheet where we show you how to plan your book in 30 minutes.

Australian Writing Workshops in Jan, Feb and Mar 2020

vintage books pen and photos on table
(Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash)

In last week’s blog post, Writing Resolutions for 2020, we touched on honing our craft as writers with ongoing training through writing workshops. This post, Australian Writing Workshops in Jan, Feb and Mar 2020, continues from there. We travel around Australia and pick out one writing workshop from each of the writers’ centres in the six states.

I’ve chosen these workshops randomly. So to be fair to the myriad of other workshops and presenters, as well as a link to the workshop selected for inclusion here, I’ve included a general link to all the other workshops currently available in that state.

Writers Victoria

‘Unreliable Narrators and Other Innovative Points of View’

24 January 2020 10 am – 4 pm. Cost $135–$215

This workshop centres on point of view. It sounds intriguing. Point of view ‘can establish your narrative, tie it to one character, and help develop the emotional resonance of your characters. It can also be a fantastic tool for laying the foundation for twists, red herrings and big reveals.’

The workshop is run by Robert Gott, the author of 97 fiction and nonfiction books. Of his seven crime novels, two of have been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award.

Details here: https://writersvictoria.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=742

More events at Writers Victoria here: https://writersvictoria.org.au/calendars/events

Writers SA

‘Preparing for the Publicity Trail’

1 February 2020 1.30 – 4.30 pm. Cost $115

Designed for authors ready to hit the publicity trail with their book, this workshop will teach you how to promote your book, how to give a great book launch speech to drive sales, how to overcome nerves (including learning what not to say), even how to pose for promotional photos!

The presenter, Victoria Purman, is a multi-published, award-nominated, Amazon Kindle bestselling author. She has been involved in the Adelaide media for nearly thirty years in various capacities.

Details here: https://writerssa.org.au/event-registration/?ee=751

More events at Writers SA here: https://writerssa.org.au/program/workshops/

Writers WA

Perth Writers Salon

26 January 9.30 am – 12.30 pm. Cost $30–$150

‘Participants will learn how to generate ideas, create conflicts, take heroes on journeys, overcome writer’s block and much more in five constructive, inspiring and fun sessions.’ You can attend just one session, or join them all.

The workshop is facilitated by Campbell Jeffreys, an award-winning WA writer of nine books. He has also written for newspapers and magazines around the world.

Details here: https://writingwa.org/event/perth-writers-salon/2020-01-26/

More events at Writers WA here: https://www.writingwa.org/events/

pens and pencil tied with string on brown notebook
(Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash)

Queensland Writers’ Centre

‘The Hero & Heroine’s Journey: Blueprints for Writers’

25 January 2020 10.30 am – 4.30 pm. Cost $100–$190

As the workshop description states, ‘In both fiction and non-fiction, characters are the pillars of a good story. Fiction and memoir writers can look forward to exploring ‘where literature and psychology converge.’ You will improve your writing skills with practical exercises and group discussions, understand the hero and heroine’s journeys, ‘integrating the power of character flaws into authentic characterisation, creating engaging and entertaining characters, understanding how story and character arcs work together to serve the narrative.’

The presenter, Lauren Elise Daniels, has published globally.

Learn more here: https://queenslandwriters.org.au/events/the-hero-amp-heroines-journey-blueprints-for-writers

More events at QWC: https://queenslandwriters.org.au/events?view=calendar&month=01-2020

Australian Writers’ Centre (NSW)

‘Travel Writing’

10 February 2020 (any time during the week). 5 weeks (allow 3 – 4 hours per week). Cost $450

Here’s an online writing course for you. The course is ideal for writers wanting to combine a love of travel with a love of writing – and, according to the course description, ‘get paid for it!’ In the course, you’ll explore how the travel writing industry works, learn how to write travel stories readers will love, get tips on planning, photography and ‘getting free stuff’ and perhaps start earning an income as a travel writer.

The presenter, Sue White, is a freelance features and travel writer whose stories have featured in a wide range of newspapers and other publications, in Australia and overseas.

Learn more here: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/courses/travel-writing/#online

More events at Australian Writers’ Centre (NSW) here: https://writerscentre.com.au/a-z listing/?utm_source=ubermenu&utm_campaign=a-zlisting

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre

‘Writing Action with Dr Rosie Dubb’

15 March 2020 10 am – 1 pm. Cost $60–75

In both fiction and narrative non-fiction, action is an important element of story, ‘moving the plot forward, creating pace and revealing character.’ Action plays an important role even in more static scenes like moments of contemplation or conversation, and it’s important to make these engaging for the reader. You’ll explore, through discussions, readings and writing exercises, how to write compelling scenes by ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’, and how to build tension and work with pace, character and setting.

The presenter, Rosie Dubb, is the author of two novels, one of which is currently being developed as a feature film. She has also published short stories, essays and life writing in anthologies, magazines, newspapers and literary journals.

Learn more here: https://taswriters.org/events/writing-action-with-dr-rosie-dub/

For more events at Tasmanian Writers’ Centre: https://www.taswriters.org/events/

I hope you’ve found this post, Australian Writing Workshops in Jan, Feb and Mar 2020, useful. Get in touch if you’d like to see any other workshops featured.

Keep writing!


Check Out My Books

Novel

cover of historical novel by G.E. Tagarro Winter in Mallorca about Chopin and George Sand

Winter in Mallorca, Turmoil to Triumph explores the relationship between Chopin and Sand during the winter of 1838 in an abandoned monastery high in the mountain village of Valldemosa.

One reader’s feedback: ‘The Prelude is strong, nice hook to get you reading, and then it just gets better. I would find period writing extraordinarily difficult, but you make it seem pretty easy. The psychological observations are spot on. Great historical asides, great landscape descriptions, lots of luscious colour to keep you ‘in’. I don’t usually get through books in one day!’

John W., Writer.

Read more about Winter in Mallorca here.

How-to Writing eBook

cover of ten ways to supercharge your writing skills by gail tagarro

This entertaining how-to writing book contains 10 chapters of simply explained writing techniques and tips that will help you super-charge your writing! Other chapters include how to handle writing techniques like pacing, head-hopping and narrative arc.

Only $11.95. Start super-charging your writing now!

Writing Resolutions for 2020

Have you made any writing resolutions for 2020?

notebook and pencil with pencil sharpener and shavings for writing resolutions for 2020
Sharpen Your Pencil and Make Your Writing Resolutions for 2020 (Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash)

Any goal, including a new year’s resolution, needs committed action, discipline and planning.

Below, I give you a couple of my own writing resolutions for 2020. These may help you formulate some of your own and keep you on track with your writing.

Commit to Taking Writing Courses

Just like any job, career or profession, regular learning through writing courses will help hone your craft as a writer.

My #1 Writing Resolution for 2020

Having published my first novel in November 2019, I really wanted to keep up my writing momentum. So before 2019 ended, I registered for the Queensland Writers’ Centre ‘Year of the Novel’ workshops. It’s a multi-part workshop held across five Sundays throughout the year. At the end of it, we will have drafted a full-length novel. Curiously, as we’re on the subject of writing resolutions for 2020, the course description states, ‘Year of the Novel returns in 2020 so you can follow through with your New Year’s resolution to get that book out of your head and onto the page.’

As it happens, I don’t yet have a ‘book in my head’, However, I’m working on it so that I’ll have a clear(er) idea before the first workshop.

Commit to Entering Writing Competitions

Competitions are a worthwhile way of testing your book out on the market. It’s best to approach competitions with the mindset of first putting on your big girl or big boy pants, being prepared for possibly not getting placed. The more competitions you enter, however, the more likely you are to achieve a placing eventually. Make sure you have your manuscript professionally edited before submission, and that it meets all the requirements of the competition.

My #2 Writing Resolution for 2020

Each time I’m researching competitions for my fortnightly newsletter, The Lonely Writer, I find a competition or two that captures my attention. The thought, ‘I’d like to have a go at that’ comes to me often. And, well, until now, that’s as far as I’ve got: just thinking about it.

All that’s behind me now since my zest for writing resolutions for 2020!

If you’d like to subscribe to The Lonely Writer, you can do so here.

Writing Competition for Published Writers!

…and for unpublished and independently published writers.

Over the Christmas break, I had lunch with an old writing friend of mine. He congratulated me on publishing my first novel, and said I should enter it in a competition. All the competitions I’ve researched so far for The Lonely Writer have been for previously unpublished works.

So I was very excited to discover a competition for published writers also. The condition is that you must be a self-published or independently published writer. You are also eligible to enter a previously unpublished manuscript.

The competition that has me so excited is an international one, from the UK. It’s the Bath Novel Award 2020. You can read all about it here.

I encourage you to set a couple of achievable writing resolutions for 2020, more if you can realistically accomplish them, and then take committed action towards achieving them.

Happy and productive writing 2020!