A Tassie Author

A Tassie 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).

A Tassie Author: David Alomes

photo of David Alomes a Tassie author
David Alomes: A Tassie Author

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 interview, the profiled author is David Alomes, an author from Hobart, Tasmania, whose sci-fi novel First Adult is his first novel and the first of a trilogy.

David, tell us about your book

First Adult portrays the type of world where humanity could very easily wind up, a divided world split into two competing and opposing philosophies. Into this broken world is born a healthy child, the first in generations, and he is raised away from the troubles of the world.

His story is one of struggle and loss but ultimately one of hope as he finds new ways to move his world past the troubles of old into a better way – for not only his world, but for the galaxy as a whole. With that hope comes a huge responsibility. He is faced with the challenge of changing millennia of conflict, with the possibility that it will crush him if he doesn’t succeed.

The book questions our values, and perhaps even has readers cheering for the bad guy – if you can figure out who that is!

How did this novel come about?

My professional career is based on numbers, not words. I’ve been a career CPA and financial planner all my working life but eight years ago, a discussion with my daughter spurred me on my writing journey. A simple ‘what if’ discussion ended up with a concept for a book. What would the world look like if…

The book I sought to write turned out to be a trilogy. I had to write a prequel first to make sense of what I had started, and one more to finish the tale. Hence, Book One First Adult was born and published, receiving five-star reviews from the likes of Pacific Book Review.

In between writing, I have retired and travelled and generally have lots of fun, but writing keeps pulling me back. Perhaps the tale wants to be told, or perhaps I’m just too stubborn to quit.

What helped you while you were writing this book?

Having written 15,000 words, I found I did not have enough experience using Microsoft Word to go any further, so I sought guidance. At that point, a discouraging word would have seen me put down my draft and retreat to what I knew. Instead, I received encouragement and understanding. The first words out of my initial coach’s mouth were, ‘You cannot edit what is not on the page.’ Truer words were never spoken. 

Along the way, I seem to have taken an abridged writing course. In my numbers career, I quickly figured out you never stop learning – and I have applied this to my writing. Using resources like a professional editor, having my books reviewed and having beta readers has helped heaps, not to mention joining writers groups. I’m fortunate to have family and friends who have supported my endeavours. My daughter gifted me The Emotion Thesaurus, which I now cannot live without. It helps me add a lot of colour to my writing! And it helps me to show rather than tell in my writing.  

It hasn’t hurt that sci-fi is now an accepted mainstream writing style! With over 6,000 hours of writing experience now, I’m more confident in my writing style, which has changed several times with experience. Now, being retired, I can focus more on a writing career. I still feel that someday I may be able to look myself in the mirror and see an author and not a numbers man.

Can you tell us about self-publishing your book?

You hear horror stories, and, well, sorry to say they are true. I tried a few authors’ reps and publishers but without success. I finally received a publishing contract with a UK publisher, but found they were more a vanity publisher (please read here to avoid this pitfall) and I would still lose control over my book, so I declined.

Self-publishing gave me control over most of the aspects of publishing, and I’m very happy with the final in-hand book.

Don’t start me on marketing, however! Just when you think your hard work is over, you realise it’s barely begun! My advice here is, make sure every sale goes through a platform (like Amazon), as the bigger your recorded sales numbers, the more you get noticed! Buying the books yourself at a discount from your publisher gives you $$, but does not get recorded as a sale.

Think long term and get noticed … I’m still working on this myself.

What are you currently writing?

I’ve just finished Book Two of the trilogy and it’s about to have its final edit. A complete rewrite of my original first draft has become The Death of Violence. This expands the story of Book One to our poor little planet and asks questions like, ‘Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?’ ‘Does the world’s master criminal have to stand up for us all and defend us from indiscriminate murder and mayhem?’ ‘When do things from our past hinder us and not help?’ ‘Wherever you live in the galaxy, why are there always foods that taste just like chicken?’

I’ve also written the first chapter of Book Three, but I have another story I’m busting to put to paper. Stay tuned! It seems words are rushing out of me at a rate of knots.


David’s book is a great read, and you can find it by clicking on the cover below. 

book cover for a tassie author
First adult by a Tassie author David Alomes

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 23

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter

Welcome to the Writers Connect! Newsletter

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

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

In this issue, we explore writing competitions that close at the very end of July 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: Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award

It’s heartening these organisers encourage simultaneous submissions. They acknowledge that ‘writers have the right to continue promoting and offering their work while waiting for the decisions of literary organizations’

About: Hidden River Arts offers this award for an original collection of short stories. Previous publication of individual stories is acceptable (see conditions on organiser’s website)

Open to: International writers in English. Multiple submissions, and simultaneous submissions (i.e. submission elsewhere)  accepted

Word count: No limit

Theme: Appears to be open. Check with organiser

Closes: 30 July 2020

Entry fee: $20 (US)

Prize: $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press

Information and entry here: https://hiddenriverarts.wordpress.com/awards-deadlines-and-guidelines/hawk-mountain-short-story-collection-award/

 

 

Comp 2: 12th Casa África Essay Prizes

This inclusive competition allows essays in Spanish, French, Portuguese and English

About: Original and unpublished essays on African themes to enhance people’s knowledge of the African continent – written in Spanish, English, French or Portuguese

Open to: International, 18+

Word Count: 15,000 minimum to 20,000 maximum

Theme: Climate change in Africa

Closes: 31 July 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prizes: €2,000

Information here: http://www.casafrica.es/en/agenda_europa_africa.jsp?DS28.PROID=916523

 

 

Comp 3: Seán O’Faoláin Short Story Competition

What a fabulous opportunity for short story writers to visit beautiful Ireland, COVID allowing…

About: Original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in English. Multiple and simultaneous submissions accepted

Open to: International

Word count: Maximum 3,000

Theme: Any subject, in any style

Closes: 31 July 2020

Entry fee: €18

Prize: First = €2,000 + publication + accommodation at Cork International Short Story Festival + 1-week residency at writer’s retreat. Let’s hope COVID allows, because read on! ‘Located just outside the colourful village of Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Anam Cara is a tranquil spot structured to provide support and sanctuary for people working in the creative arts. It offers private and common working rooms as well as five acres of walking paths, thirty-four nooks and crannies, a river cascades and a river island, gardens, and a labyrinth meadow. Editorial consultation is also available.’ Wow! Second prize = €500 + publication. Four Runners-Up = €250 + publication

Details here: https://www.munsterlit.ie/SOF%20Page.html

 

 

Comp 4: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

An exciting opportunity for young poets to strut their stuff and be published

About: Work must be original and unpublished and written in English

Open to: Young poets 11—17 internationally writing in English

Word Count: Any length

Theme: Open

Closes: 31 July 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prize: First 15 winners = publication in anthology + attendance at residential writing course at one of the prestigious Arvon Centres, or mentoring from a professional poet (age dependent). The 85 commended poets = publication in online anthology and names in print anthology.

Guidelines & entry here: https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/foyle-young-poets-of-the-year-award/

 

 

Comp 5: Winchester Poetry Prize 2020

While I’m sure all writing competition judges look for the ‘wow factor’ in writing, the judge of the Winchester Poetry Price actually says so: ‘Then there’s that extra thing, the wow-factor … the moment a poem becomes literature’

About: Previously unpublished poems on any theme

Open to: Anyone 18+

Word Count: No longer than 40 lines (excluding title)

Theme: Any subject, any form or style, in English

Closes: 31 July 2020

Entry fee: £5 first poem, £4 each subsequent poem

Prize: First = £1,000. 2nd = £500. 3rd = £250

Details here: https://www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org/prize

 

 

Word of the Day

pyjamas

Did you know that the name of this snuggly garment originates from a Persian word pāy-jāmeh (‘leg clothing’)? The word was only introduced into English around 1800.

 

 

Interesting Fact

In English, loanwords – words that are borrowed from other languages – make up an astonishing 80% of the English language and represent around 350 other languages.

 

 

Get Inspired

Spanish author Rosa Montero, renowned journalist and correspondent for Spain’s El País newspaper, has an interesting perspective on writing: ‘The truth about being a writer is that you do not choose the stories you tell; the stories choose you. Therefore, you do not choose characters either. Novels are like dreams you dream with your eyes open; they are books which appear in your head with the same apparent immediateness as they appear in your dreams at night.’ In speaking about her novel Te trataré como a una Reina (I will Treat you like a Queen), she says, ‘I almost went crazy because my characters did not let me say what I wanted and kept forcing me to speak about things I had … [not intended] to mention. So I came to the conclusion that I had to be true to them, because they had a life of their own.’

If you’re interested in reading an article by Rosa Montero, here’s a great one published in El País about cultural prejudices and stereotypes: Never Mind the Bullfights https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/30/spains-changed-national-character

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

Writers Need to Know their Target Audience

Know your Target Audience

Writers need to know their target audience regardless of the type or genre of their writing: creative writing, business writing, poetry, essays… Arguably, it’s even more important in creative writing because readers choose to buy your work – or not!

dartboard with arrow in bullseye for writers need to know their target audience

Why do Writers Need to Know their Target Audience?

When, before you start writing, you have clear in your mind who your audience is, it’s much more likely that your readers will find your writing engaging. You’ll maintain their attention and interest in the story.

How to Find your Audience

You know what you want to write? You have imagined who your audience is? That’s great, although imagining your audience isn’t the same as knowing it.

Let’s say you’re writing a crime thriller targeted at both women and men aged 35 upwards. To define your target audience, as Dana Sitar advises, think of five people you know reasonably well who read crime thrillers. It could be friends and/or family. The caveat here with family is they will usually love what you write. Alternatively, they will be overly critical, so choose your five wisely. If you are clear about genuinely seeking honest feedback and say you’re not precious about your work and want their objective opinion, in my experience, people will oblige.

Think again about your five chosen people. When did you last see them reading a crime thriller? Do you know why they chose the particular novel they were reading? How do you imagine them reacting to several of the action scenes you’ve written in your book? If you told them about your book, do you think they would want to read it?

If the answers to the above questions are ‘I haven’t’, ‘I don’t’, ‘I can’t’ and ‘No’, then consider a different novel. While there are no guarantees of sales in the publishing world , it’s better to be sure of a ready audience. After all, you’ve put a lot of hard grind into writing and you’ll put just as much into promotion.

If you come up trumps with your hypothetical questions, then ask these people what they think of the idea for your novel. The advantage of asking them is that you’re running your idea by a realistic target audience (Sitar).

When Family and Friends are not your Audience…

As above, if you know that your family and friends will either love your writing, thinking you’re the smartest person on our planet, or criticise it, then it’s best not to ask this group for their opinion. To gain objective feedback on your writing, ask other writers – whose opinion and ethics you trust. You could join a supportive writers’ group to read out excerpts of your work and gain feedback that way.

Sometimes Knowing your Audience Happens Intuitively

When I wrote my non-fiction eBook Ten Ways to Supercharge Your Writing Skills, I followed my own advice and had a specific audience in mind! These were writers who were seeking to improve various aspects of their writing skills. Nevertheless, I have to admit that with my historical novel, Winter in Mallorca: Turmoil to Triumph, ‘defining my audience’ happened intuitively rather than consciously. The inspiration for the novel came to me while on a visit to Mallorca in Spain. I knew with certainty this was the novel I’d always wanted to write.

It seemed to work! Last June, on the writers’ retreat in Spain, I read out excerpts from my novel to the other writers. Their unanimous feedback was interesting: they related to and enjoyed the readings. (None of them wrote in the same genre or were normally readers of historical novels or love stories.) I’ve also been surprised by a similar reaction from my readers. Many of them have said they’ve never read an historical novel in their lives but they loved the book. I’m not blowing my own trumpet, just giving a real-life example. You may not always consciously define your audience, but you need to be aware of addressing a particular audience regardless. As I was writing the novel, I thought of my readers as lovers of history and historical fiction, with an interest in Chopin’s life.

Why Writers Need to Know their Target Audience for Pitching

If you’re planning to submit your manuscript to publishers and agents, have your target readership clear. This is especially important if it’s your first novel. Be prepared to answer in a considered way the question ‘Who do you see as your target audience?’ Don’t just say ‘It has universal appeal’ or ‘Anyone who likes a good story’. Kim Wright illustrates the inaccuracy of such statements: ‘They’re probably trying to imply that their book has equal appeal for men and women, young and old, that it cuts across all racial and national lines and thus has the potential to be a best seller. Hmmm…yeah.

Checklist for Knowing your Target Audience

  1. Before you start writing, have your target audience clear in your mind.
  2. Think of five people you know who read and enjoy the genre you’re planning to write.
  3. Ask yourself: have these five people recently read a book in this genre? Why did they choose to read that novel? How do you think they would react to several of the scenes in your book? Do you think they would want to read your book?
  4. Ask these people for their feedback on your book idea.
  5. If you have started or even finished writing your book, become aware of your audience retrospectively (before publishing it). Make any necessary adjustments to the writing.
  6. Be prepared to answer the question, ‘Who do you see as your target audience?’

Acknowledgements

Bay Tree Publishing, The Ten Most Important Things Every Writer Needs to Know, https://baytreepublish.com/ten-things-every-writer-needs-to-know/ , n.d.

Dana Sitar, Who Is Your Target Audience? Use This Simple Trick to Figure Out If They Actually Exist, ‘Writers Digest’, https://www.writersdigest.com/publishing-faqs/does-your-target-audience-exist-use-this-simple-trick-to-figure-it-out, 6 Feb 2019.

Kim Wright, Who Is Your Target Reader? ‘Writers Digest’, https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/who-is-your-target-reader, 8 April 2012

WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 21

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for writers connect! issue 21 newsletter

Welcome to the Writers Connect! Newsletter

Welcome to Writers Connect! Issue 21

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

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

In this issue, we explore writing competitions that close during July 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: Nowhere Magazine Spring 2020 Travel Writing Prize

Here’s something for travel writers

About: For novice or veteran writers. Entries may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or essay, in English. Previously published work is eligible

Open to: All writers, internationally

Word Count: 800–5,000 words

Theme: Fiction, nonfiction, poetry or essay

Closes: 15 July 2020

Entry fee: $20 (US). Multiple entries allowed

Prize: Winner receives $1,000 + publication in Nowhere. Up to ten finalists will also be published

Enter here: https://nowherepublishing.submittable.com/submit/161855/spring-2020-travel-writing-prize

 

 

Comp 2: The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest

This is an American themed contest so it may have a narrower audience than other competitions we usually feature in the newsletter. But if you’re American, or live in America, then have a go!

About: This contest features the most renowned American fiction writers. Stories must be previously unpublished (excluding personal website/ blogs)

Open to: American authors

Word Count: 1,500–5,000 words

Theme: Character- or plot-driven pieces in any fiction genre

Closes: Not stated. Check with organiser

Entry fee: $10 (US)

Prizes: $1,000 + publication in Jan/Feb 2021 edition of  The Saturday Evening Post. Five runners-up = $200 each + stories featured online

Guidelines and entry link: https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/fiction-contest/

 

Comp 3: HG Wells Short Story Competition

From America, to the UK, there’s something here for everyone

About: The story can be set anywhere, feature any characters and be written in any style. Story may not have been previously published

Open to: Not stated, check with organisers

Word Count: 1,500–5,000

Theme: ‘Vision’

Closes: 6 July 2020

Entry fee: No fee if 21 years or younger. £10 otherwise. £5 with student ID

Prize: Two competitions: The Margaret and Reg Turnill Competition for young writers 21 years and under. Winner receives £1,000. Competition for over 21s winner receives £500

Rules & entry form here: https://hgwellscompetition.com/how-to-enter/?v=79cba1185463

 

Comp 4: The Rattle Poetry Prize

We always try to feature a competition for poets, so here you go

About: Poems on any subject, in any style, of any length, in English

Open to: International poets

Word Count: Any length

Theme: Appears to be open

Closes: 15 July 2020

Entry fee: $25 (this is a 1-year subscription to Rattle, or a 1-year extension for subscribers)

Prize: Winner = $15,000, ten finalists = $500 each + publication in Rattle Winter 2020 issue. One $5,000 Readers’ Choice Award chosen from finalists

Guidelines & entry here: https://www.rattle.com/prize/guidelines/

 

We’ll leave it at four competitions for this time, and feature more with a July deadline in the next issue of Writers Connect!

 

Word of the Day

hiraeth

This is a rather beautiful Welsh noun that means homesickness or nostalgia, an earnest longing or desire, or a sense of regret. How could you use it in your writing?

 

Interesting Fact

Probably the whole world knows that J.K. Rowling, who wrote her first manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while sitting in cafes in Edinburgh, had her manuscript rejected 12 times. It’s a reminder to persevere even when your manuscript is rejected. Commissioning editors and publishers are human, they’re subjective.

 

Get Inspired

Choose a genre you don’t normally write in. Let’s say, mystery. Here’s the writing prompt for your mystery: You open a book and a note falls out. It says: ‘If you are reading this, you have been chosen’. Write the first 500 words of a novel or a 500-word short story around this.

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

An Author, an Accountant and an Introvert

AN Author, an Accountant and an Introvert 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, an Accountant and an Introvert: Lynda Steffens

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 interview, the featured author is Lynda Steffens, an author, an accountant and an introvert from the Gold Coast whose book Accounting Revolution is a guide for accountants. Lynda describes the profession as ‘overworked’ and accountants’ efforts as ‘undervalued’. As she herself has done, Lynda encourages accountants to go beyond being ‘bean counters’ and evolve their current business model to run a powerful high-level accounting and business advisory service.

lynda steffens books for an author, an accountant and an introvert
Lynda Steffens, an author, an accountant and an introvert

About Lynda

In her own words, Lynda ‘lives and breathes’ accounting and is passionate about the industry that has shaped her career. She is the founder of The Small Business Project, a three-phase program that incorporates Business Metamorphosis®, Leading Edge Business™ and Ready Set Coach™ workshops and programs. Lynda has more than 25 years’ experience as an accountant, business advisor, practice manager, speaker and coach.

Lynda, did you always want to write a book?

I never saw myself as an author but the universe had other ideas, lol! I was developing workshops to leverage and scale my coaching and consulting business when the universe kept sending me hints about writing a book. For example, in a professional speaker workshop I attended they advised ‘writing a book’ was recommended. Next, a very well respected coach and friend of mine said ‘writing a book’ would take my business to the next level. They recommended a trusted friend who could help me with that and then this friend’s workshop just happened to be coming to the Gold Coast. I kept blatantly ignoring all the hints, mainly because I never thought I could write a book. Then one day, after being doggedly stalked on social media by book writing courses and offers, I found myself in a book writing information session and discovered to my horror that I really needed to write a book! I’m sure the universe was sitting back and having a good old laugh at me for having this grand epiphany, and the rollercoaster of feelings that followed.

What was the hardest thing about writing your book?

As a first-time author and a recalcitrant one at that, the hardest thing was getting started. I needed accountability. So in true ‘me’ style, I announced it to the world via social media that I was writing a book and well … then there was no turning back. I had to make it happen.

I found the process of writing somewhat difficult to begin with and had to try a few different methods until I settled on just typing out the manuscript.

As an introvert, I found the speaking and transcribing method recommended to me just didn’t work. For me, planning was super-important and I mapped out the entire book before starting any of the content. I also didn’t follow the most logical sequence but instead jumped around a bit if I got stuck on a chapter. 

Lynda Steffens photo for an author, an accountant and an introvert
The author of Accounting Revolution, Lynda Steffens

What kept you going on writing your book?

I just knew that I had to get my message out and support accountants to grow and transition their businesses. I often talk about my love affair with the accounting industry as having all the hallmarks of a trashy soap opera. Starting out as a 14-year-old girl with rose-tinted glasses, to a somewhat more jaded 20-something-year-old who flirted with other careers, to having a business divorce in my 30s and falling completely out of the love with accounting altogether, I’ve come back full circle in my 40s to be more in love with the accounting industry than ever. This is because I see the fathomless potential of the amazing people and professionals in the industry, who can bring so much to a business relationship if they just learn how to connect and engage with their clients.

You describe accountants as overworked and undervalued. How can accountants communicate their value to their clients?

That’s a great question. You have to communicate your value to your clients in a way they understand. You have to change the conversations you have with your clients.

The two biggest concerns for the accounting industry today are the impact of technology, and adapting to the rapid pace of change while remaining relevant. If accountants don’t change the way they engage with clients, then they run the very real risk of completely losing their relevancy.

So Accounting Revolution gives accountants the tools, steps and actions needed to venture beyond the traditional realm of the accountant, into the role of esteemed business advisor.

You mention you are an introvert. I imagine it’s a trait shared by many other accountants. How do you see an introvert taking the leap from a behind-the-desk role to an in-front-of-a-workshop-audience role?

Ah, the million-dollar question. To us as introverts, the world simply seems set up for extroverts always playing to their strengths and not ours, but that’s simply not true. You just need to scratch the surface, look a little deeper, learn about yourself, and you’ll find it’s as simple as finding your way, not an extrovert’s way but your way. For accountants that means structure and process. By using structure and process, I show accountants that they too can advise, consult and coach their clients with confidence and that the transition to an in-front-of-a-workshop-audience role as you put it is actually not that hard, it just takes some time and practice.

In what ways have you used your book since publishing it?

I’ve now been able to use my book as the foundation for workshops and it’s become the central feature of my business marketing. My book helps me to get speaker engagements and media attention that I could have never achieved without being an author.

As a business person writing a book to support your business, did you seek testimonials before publishing your book?

Yes, I did, and in my view, it’s really important for this type of book. I sought testimonials from a number of sources including clients and other accounting colleagues and included them in my book.

You also self-published your book. Can you tell us (1) why you chose to self-publish, and (2) how that looked for you?

For me self-publishing was the simplest and easiest way to get the result I needed, which was a book I could sell and market using my own business contacts and channels. I had heard plenty of horror stories about self-publishing, finding out you signed over rights to your book and generally just getting yourself stuck in agreements you couldn’t get out of, so I made sure I did my research. I interviewed a number of author services businesses before I made my decision, and based my choice on how well they explained their packages, how easy they were to talk to and finally on the recommendations of other authors before me. Thank you, Gail, for your advice and assistance in this area as it was crucial.


click here to watch Lynda’s video

Find out more about Lynda and her book Accounting Revolution at these links:

Latest news, blogs and workshops https://lyndasteffens.com

Drop her a line at [email protected]

Find her on Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/therealaccountant

See her LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lynda-steffens


WRITERS CONNECT! Issue 20

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for editors4you newsletter

Welcome to Writers Connect Issue 20, the newsletter that keeps you up to date and inspired with writing goings-on.

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 Writers Connect Issue 20:

  • 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

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

In this issue, we explore writing competitions that close during June 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: Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2020

Here’s an opportunity for previously unpublished, or self-published, poets, fiction writers and life writing writers, to gain recognition and have their work published

About: New writing in fiction, poetry or life writing

Open to: New writers, with no limits on age, gender, nationality or background

Word Count: Maximum 3,000 words

Theme: Appears to be open

Closes: 1 June 2020

Entry fee: Per category, £10 single entry, £16 double entry. Limited number of subsidised entries at £6 per entry

Prize: Winners of each category = £1,000 cash prize. Publication in Wasafiri in print and online. Also offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility). Shortlisted writers will be published online with Wasafiri and may also be eligible for Free Reads mentoring.

Enter here: https://www.wasafiri.org/enter-the-queen-mary-wasafiri-prize/

Comp 2: Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition

The name of this comp makes the mind pop! It’s no holds barred, although it comes with a catch: the opening and closing lines from a classic work of literature are provided; you write the rest 

About: Two competitions, any genre. For the first, the opening and closing lines are from Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. For the second, they are from Beloved by Toni Morrison

Open to: All writers, professional and amateur, internationally

Word Count: Up to 2,500 words

Theme: No theme or genre restrictions. Simply start with the opening and end with the closing lines provided

Closes: 4 June 2020

Entry fee: $10 (US) per entry. Unlimited number of entries

Prizes: winning story in each contest will receive a USD $500 cash prize and a complimentary copy of the forthcoming 2020 Literary Taxidermy Anthology; runners-up will receive a USD $50 cash prize; and both the winner and runners-up will be published in the forthcoming 2020 Literary Taxidermy Anthology. Honourable mention authors will have their name included on a special page in the anthology

About the competition & entry guidelines here: https://literarytaxidermy.com/contest2020.html

Comp 3: Bath Flash Fiction Award

An opportunity for submitting a piece of writing up to 300 words on any theme or subject

About: Must be original, previously unpublished, written in English and be for adult or young adult readers

Open to: International, 16 years+

Word Count: 300 words excluding title

Theme: Any theme or subject

Closes: 7 June 2020

Entry fee: One entry £9. Two entries £15. Three entries £18

Prize: First = £1000. Second = £300. Third = £100. Commended (two entries) £30. 50 authors offered anthology print publication. All published authors shipped free print copy

Details here: https://bathflashfictionaward.com/enter/

Comp 4: Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Competition 2020

For all the poets among you, here’s your chance to be recognised in the land of Chaucer!

About: Poems on any subject, in any style, not exceeding 60 lines

Open to: International writers 18+

Word Count: Maximum 60 lines

Theme: Any subject, any style

Closes: 15 June 2020

Entry fee: £5 per poem

Prize: First prize = £200. Second = £100. Third = £50. People’s Choice prize = £25. Best-Read Poem receives a bottle of bubbly

Details & entry form here:

https://canterburyfestival.co.uk/poet-of-the-year-competition-2020/

Comp 5: Dreame: The Multi-professional Billionaire Writing Contest

Here’s an intriguing name for a writing comp. Let your imagination go wild and create a character and a plot related to a particular profession

About: Original works of fiction, in English, with characters who have a clear profession

Open to: International writers

Word Count: 3,000 words uploaded initially to confirm eligibility

Theme: Recommended to include elements of romance, and/or sci-fi, horror-thriller, suspense, fantasy

Closes: 30 June 2020

Entry fee: Free

Prize: 1st = $1500. 2nd = $800. 3rd = $500. 4th–10th = $300 (all US). Plus more…

Details here: https://www.dreame.com/act/customactivity/20200330Multi-Professional?theme=20200330Multi-Professional

Word of the Day

Dickin Medal

Celebrating our animal friends, the Dickin Medal (appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary), is awarded to an animal for an act of bravery or loyalty, often during times of military conflict by an animal attached to the armed forces. The word originates from the surname of an English animal welfare pioneer, Maria Elisabeth Dickin (1870–1951), who founded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. The Dickin Medal was first awarded in 1943.

Interesting Fact

Washington Irving (1783–1859), author of Rip Van Winkle – a short story about a villager in colonial America  who fell asleep for 20 years and missed the American Revolution – was an insomniac. Sure sounds like wishful thinking, poor man!

Get Inspired

Spark your creativity this week by choosing an image that inspires you – it could be a scene in nature, a painting, the photo of a family member or loved one – and write 500 words about the image.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Writers Connect Issue 20.

Keep well, keep safe, keep writing 🙂

A Sunshine Coast Author

A Sunshine Coast Author is part of ‘Let’s Talk with the Authors’. This 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).

A Sunshine Coast Author: Don Horsfall

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. However, it’s vital to kick the shyness habit and get our books out there in the big wide world.

In this sixth interview in the series, the profiled author is Don Horsfall, a Sunshine Coast author. Don’s novel The Empyrean Quest takes the reader on a mystical journey in the real world, revealing hidden truths along the way.

Outside of his writing life, Don is a life coach and he runs chiropractic clinics. He has also worked in banking and human resources.

For readers outside of Australia, the Sunshine Coast is located in the state of Queensland. It is 100 kilometres north of the state capital Brisbane, on the Coral Sea coastline.

photo of don horsfall a sunshine coast author
Don Horsfall, a Sunshine Coast author

Meet Don on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/donhorsfallauthor/

Don, can you please give us a brief pitch of your book.

In a similar way to Coelho’s The Alchemist, Redfield’s Celestine Prophecy and Whitecloud’s The Magician’s Way, my novel The Empyrean Quest takes the reader on a mystical journey that reveals hidden universal truths along the way. The novel follows Beau Sterling, a bright young Sydney lawyer with a seemingly secure future ahead of him. Pressured by his domineering father to take over the family firm, Beau feels he has no control over his future. Then he experiences the double betrayal of his fiancée and his best friend. What had been a vague sense of unease escalates into a personal crisis.

He sets off on a journey to gain perspective, meeting Ellen, a fascinating woman who has travelled the world seeking the answers to ‘life’s big questions’. In his continuing quest, Beau joins Ellen as crew aboard a yacht sailing the South Pacific. In the last third of the story, they reach a mystical lost island inhabited by evolved people from a different realm. Undergoing personal challenges that unravel their deepest traumas, Beau and Ellen discover answers to some of these ‘big questions’ and achieve healing.

The Empyrean Quest also falls into the personal growth/self-help/spiritual genres. It is targeted at anyone who has ever questioned their life’s direction, pondered their purpose or repeated the same destructive patterns.

So your book at its core is about personal growth and healing? How do you see the allegory of Beau’s journey in the book helping your readers achieve growth and healing?

I would ask a reader, ‘Have you ever questioned your life’s direction, or wondered about your purpose for being here or why you have had to go through and endure what seemed to be emotional hardships? Have you ever found yourself repeating the same patterns and behaviours, stuck in a cycle, attracting the same drama in your life?’

If your answer is yes to any of these defining questions, The Empyrean Quest has come to your awareness for a reason. Threaded throughout these pages are universal laws that exist all around us and affect every aspect of our lives. The irony is that very few know these truths. This adventure story will take you on a mystical journey of self-discovery and reveal the forces that influence each of us, hidden in plain sight.  

Don, what was the inspiration for writing your novel?

I have had a lifelong fascination with people and have always been driven to understand the world in which we live. Having studied human dynamics I was able to follow my passion in my career in banking, mostly in human resources, including four years as head of employee relations. There, I gained invaluable insight into unlocking human potential. For over a decade, I helped facilitate emotional healing workshops. My background as a life coach helped thousands of people reach their potential.

I subsequently studied under teacher and mentor, Dr John De Martini. His passion for unlocking the secrets of the Universe inspired me to write and share this story. It outlines many of Dr De Martini’s unique concepts, in the hope it will light a spark of inspiration in others.

Tell us about the process of writing your book. How did that look for you personally?

As a first-time author, I took a while to settle in to a rhythm. I found I needed to be clear of any distractions in other areas of my life. So I tried to do a couple of hours in the morning each day. With the storyline broadly established in my thoughts, I laid it out on a large storyboard and compartmentalised it into obvious chapters. As I was intent on getting certain life lessons across in the storyline, it did create more complexity and challenges in conveying the message in a way that made sense to the overall plot.

Having identified my main characters, I thought of their traits and tried to align them with people I had come across in my life. In that way, in any given situation, I would have a reference point as to how they would react or respond.

Not being proficient in keyboard skills, I utilised a technology that typed as I spoke. This allowed me to get concepts down as they flowed. I found this very useful and an essential part of my writing style.

You self-published your book. Can you tell us a little about that process?

This was a scary process having not experienced it before. I did extensive research, read all of the horror stories and rip-off schemes out there before deciding on going with an independent, well credentialed editor. This was the best decision I made. I owe a debt of gratitude to you Gail for your guidance and tutoring. It gave my work a professional edge and credibility it would not otherwise have had. I learnt a great deal through the process which will make me a better writer in the years ahead.

My research also led me to an author services company for self-publishing authors that only charged for actual services delivered. They assisted with services such as typesetting, layout, registrations, book covers, eBook and printing, etc. I found them very responsive, knowledgeable and helpful in the process.

Are you currently writing another book, or do you plan to?

I have been adjusting back to my creative instincts recently. Having enjoyed the creative process of writing, I found the switch to publishing, marketing and what are essentially business-related skills required a completely different set of skills and mindset. I am looking forward to putting pen to paper on my next project in the months ahead.

book cover for a Sunshine Coast author The Empyrean Quest
The Empyrean Quest, written by Don Horsfall, a Sunshine Coast author

Purchase Don Horsfalls book The Empyrean Quest on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle.

Contact Don as below:

M: 0414 339 722

E: [email protected]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donhorsfallauthor/

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).

books and cover sandra sweeney a gold coast author
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?