May Meeting Round-Up

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#blpg-3Today’s meeting was just the right antidote to the wild and wet weather wreaking havoc outside. The planned discussion on Memoir Writing, for which some of us had even prepared, didn’t eventuate because we ran out of time, as usual!

We welcomed May, new to Australia via New Zealand and originally from China. May has already published one novel with Penguin, ‘Tears of the Moon‘, under the name Guo Shen.

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Lyn also brought a copy of the short story collection that features three of her stories. It’s called ‘Feast!’ and is published by Pure Slush. It’s available in print for $19.95 or as an ebook for $5. The Pure Slush website also features a Q&A with Lyn about her favourite colour—I won’t spoil it and tell you the answer, but we might have seen her wearing it …

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Here are a few other highlights of the meeting that might be of interest to members:

  • Pinterest is a great site for research, with loads of historical photos and links to website. It’s also a good site to set up to showcase your novel and characters.
  • Two photography websites, Bigstock and istock, have free photos we can use on Pinterest and our websites. Pixabay is another site, and this blog post has a long list of other good sites with free photos. In the two years since I started blogging, the number of free photos and free photo sites has risen exponentially!
  • We talked briefly about how necessary it is these days for authors to have an online presence—a Facebook page and a website with blog would be a minimum. Social media is quite daunting at first, especially for introverted writerly types, but you soon get used to it!
  • Margaret told us about an online course being run through the Australian Society of Authors on e-book publishing. The cost is $130 for ASA members and starts May 26th.
  • We also discussed sharing email addresses so we can contact each other, share our writing, and give feedback. Feel free to arrange this privately at meetings, or ask if you’d like to form a reading-writing-critiquing partnership and I can email a request out.

COMING UP

FAWWA have started a new initiative this year, Creative Conversations. The next one is Richard Rossiter in conversation with Susan Midalia, on Sunday, 7th June, 3:00-5:00pm. Richard will talk about ‘Becoming who we are – How do we become the people that we are? How do society’s narratives and our own experiences provide shape and meaning to our lives?’

Richard is a writer, editor, and part-time supervisor of postgraduate writing students at Edith Cowan University. He is a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press, a judge of the Margaret River Short Story competition—and has edited collections from that competition, a judge of the Hungerford Award, and the author of Arrhythmia: Stories of Desire (2009) and Thicker than Water: a novella (2014).

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The following month, on 5th JulyAmanda Curtin will be in conversation with Geraldine Blake, discussing re-creating the past, and the creation of time, place and character in Elemental. The following week, 12th July, Amanda will hold a workshop on Writing the past, which will focus on research for historical fiction, fictional techniques that bring the past to life, and a few common problem areas to watch out for. Exercises will be designed to have participants exploring and applying research materials, brainstorming, writing, and analysing how other writers have created convincing past worlds.

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Whilst browsing the ASA website, I also noticed this Novel-Writing Masterclass which is being held in Perth and run by Kathryn Heyman on Saturday 5th September. The cost for ASA members is $250, which is a lot, but would be a great opportunity as Kathryn is a multi-published author and highly respected as a writing mentor. 

NEXT MEETING

Our next meeting will be on Sunday, 21st June. We’ll discuss pitching our books to agents and publishers, and we thought we might even bring our pitches and practice—surely practising in front of each other is less scary than doing it for real! I’ll let you know more closer to the date.

We also thought we’d stay afterwards and have lunch, so bring a plate of something to share if you’d like to join us. There are cooking facilities, not that I know how to use them—my kids would say I don’t even know how to use the ones in my own home—but some reheating might be possible.

Hope to see you then and in the meantime, happy writing!

Louise

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April Meeting Round-Up

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Well it was a small, intimate gathering this month, no doubt owing to a combination of school holidays, beautiful end-of-summer weather and the Western Derby.  The BLPG was without the guidance of our fearless leader, Louise Allan this month and her presence was certainly missed.  I (Emily) convened the group in her place, and it was my pleasure to welcome two new attendees, Lynda and Robert, to our group.  We were also joined by FAWWA’s current Writer-in-Residence, Steven (SJ) Finch.

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We began our meeting with a talk from SJ Finch about his current work-in-progress.  In 2009, Steven was the creator of Perth’s own dotdotdash magazine which ran for a number of years and was available at a lot of great bookshops and venues.  (This was when I first came into contact with Steven’s work, and indeed dotdotdash was one of the first places where I submitted by work as a young and inexperienced writer!)  But working on dotdotdash got in the way of Steven’s writing and so he hung up his editor’s hat and began work on his PhD, a study of the way novels use Kierkegaard’s concept of cultural anxiety, looking in particular at Dostoevky’s The Brothers Kamazarov and Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  Steven demonstrated not only extensive theoretical knowledge of his subject but also an intense commitment to what sounds like a lot of work on a creative project,, a novel, and we wish him the very best of luck with his studies.

A round table discussion of the group uncovered what the rest of us were working on, and as usual, we were faced with a diverse group, all with varying approaches to craft.  It is lovely to be able to share ideas and offer support, and so I offer my thanks to Lynne, Lynda, Robert and Steven for sharing their writing news with me today at the group!

Next month’s meeting, Louise will be back in the captain’s chair and hopefully we will be able to continue with our planned topic of Memoir Writing, so if anyone has material they would like to bring along that would be wonderful.

March Meeting Round-Up

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Our group enjoyed another interesting and entertaining meeting last week.

First up, FAWWA’s current writer-in-residence, Ally Scales, spoke to us about her writing, and also about applying for grants. Alli has a Masters of Writing and Literature from Deakin University. Her personal website is worth checking out, along with the website she kept during her stay in Iceland, 150 Days in Iceland, which has stunning photos from her time there.

photo-on-9-05-14-at-6-41-pm-2Ally’s currently working on a book of microfiction. Microfiction means stories of less than 500 words, and seems to becoming increasingly popular, particularly in online journals—maybe because it’s something we can click on and read in a minute or two.

Ally said applying for grants and being rejected can be demoralising, but it all helps in the learning process. It is time-consuming to prepare an application, she said, and it may take three or four tries until you’re successful, but don’t give up.

On Saturday 28th March, Ally will be facilitating a workshop on ‘Literary Places’, which will:

‘… take you through some examples of famous literary settings to show how these settings reinforce character, add texture and resonate on many levels. Think of the moors of Wuthering Heights or the defining worlds of the ‘West Egg’ and ‘East Egg’ in The Great Gatsby – both settings etch into the minds of the reader and linger long after the reading is finished.’

The workshop will be at Mattie’s House next Saturday, 28th March, 1:30-4:30. Cost $30. Click here for more details.

We welcomed a new member to the group, Nicole McAlinden. Nicole is nearing completion of her second manuscript, which is a work of speculative fiction. Her first novel, ‘Hold On Life‘, was self-published towards the end of last year. Hold On Life tells the story of a young Perth woman, Kate, whose normally ordered, work-oriented life descends into a whirlwind following her sister Sam’s shock diagnosis with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Sam and Kate’s fierce struggle to hold on to life is a work of fiction inspired by true events. 

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Hold On Life‘ is available as an ebook on Amazon for $9.85.

We also caught up with David who is currently submitting his novel to agents and publishers. You can read about the ups and downs of David’s novel-writing journey on his blog, Shunned House.

Lynne and I read excerpts from our novels. Even though I’ve revised and edited my work I’ve-lost-count-of-how-many times, I still picked up errors as I read, and I appreciated the feedback. In fact, I deleted a couple of lines as soon as I got home!

People seemed to like the idea of choosing a topic for discussion at each monthly meeting, so at our next meeting, we thought we’d talk about the difficulty of telling the truth when writing memoir and autobiography. It’s a highly contentious area, not just legally but in terms of alienating family and friends, and every writer has to decide how much they will reveal.

Emily Paull has sent a link to the following article by Ceridwen Dovey, called ‘The Pencil and the Damage Done‘, which might be a good place to start our discussion. If you know of other interesting articles on the subject, please send me a link, and come along if you can.

If there’s a topic you’d like discussed at future meetings, let me know—you can even lead the discussion if you like!

Our next meeting will be at Mattie’s House, on Sunday, April 19th, 10am-12:30pm. Everyone is welcome, of course.

Until then, happy writing!

Louise

February Meeting Round-Up

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Thanks to everyone who came to our first meeting for 2015—what a turnout! It was great to see so many people and to hear what you’ve all been up to.

We welcomed four newcomers: Vicky, Christine, Kellie, and SookKwan. I hope you enjoyed the meeting, found it useful, and will come again.

Congratulations

To Lynne T, on having a short story published in the anthology ‘Pure Slush’.

And congratulations to Charles for his journal publications, and particularly for his article on the ‘Great Escaper’, Paul Royle.

(Please let me know if I’ve left anyone out and I’ll add it here.)

Self-Publishing

Chris Bowman told us how he has self-published his novel, ‘Tradewinds: A Tale of the Caribbean’. He published through the Fremantle publishing company, Vivid Publishing. He’s promoting the book through social media, and selling it in various places other than bookstores. For example, as the novel is about sailing, he sells it at yacht clubs and boat yards as well.

Tradewinds is a beautifully presented novel, and can be bought online through Vivid Publishers here, through Amazon here, and from the Bookcaffé in Swanbourne.

Tradewinds: A Tale of the Caribbean

For those who are interested, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is running a couple of courses on self-publishing. The first is coming up in Melbourne on the weekend of 21 and 22 March. For more information, click here.

They’re also running an online course called ‘Publish Your eBook’, which starts Tuesday 26th May. Click here for more details.

And there’s an online course entitled ‘Market Yourself on Twitter, which is starting on Tuesday 7th April. Click here for more information about that. I’m interested in this one, as everyone talks about how great Twitter is, but I find it quite hard to negotiate.

Locally, the FAWWA is running a course on Self-Publishing in May. It will cover the following:
Preparation for Publication
Publishing
Building your profile and selling your books.
For more information, click here.

Annabel Smith, an accomplished local author whose first two novels were published traditionally, chose to self-publish her latest novel, ‘The Ark’. She wrote about her reasons for doing so, the self-publishing process, and its pros and cons, in a guest blog post for another local author, Natasha Lester, here.

Hardcopy

Lynne T. told us about Hardcopy, a professional development program for Australian writers, in which she took part last year. It’s run through the ACT Writers’ Centre and the focus for its 2015 programme is non-fiction, including autobiography, biography, memoir, essay collections, histories, literary criticism or analytical prose. The first round has places for 30 writers to develop their nonfiction manuscript. Click the above link for more information, including how to apply.

The Organised Novelist

I read somewhere that writing a novel is like trying to tuck an octopus into bed—just as you get one arm in, another pops out. It can be a very messy process, given the length of the project, the number of plots and sub-plots you might be juggling, and all the characters involved.

Some writers are ‘plotters’, while others prefer to fly by the seat of their pants. Whichever way you write, it’s hard to keep a novel ‘organised’—to keep track of the plot, the characters (and their names and ages!), manage time, etc.

Lynne A. has offered to talk to us about how she manages to keep organised while writing. I have a couple of titbits of information that I can throw in, too—techniques and tips that I found useful while writing my novel. For example, I found the website Preceden handy for keeping track of the timelines for my novel and characters. It’s much easier and neater than writing them with pencil and paper:

From this ...

From this …

... to this.

… to this.

The corollary of being organised, is when it takes over and prevents us writing freely—when the plot must be sorted, the writing as good as it can be, and everything must be perfect before we can keep writing.

I struggled with this myself. One day, I’ll tell you how I wrote about 100,000 words before I found the right voice for my story. I’ll also tell you about the 50-odd rewrites of my first few chapters until I was happy with what I had and was able to ‘write on’. Of course, a chapter or two later I’d change something, and have to go back to the beginning and start again …

At some point, you do just have to ‘write on’, even if you’re not 100% happy with the words on the page. As Elizabeth Gilbert said last night, ‘Just get it done.’ It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good—it just has to get done.

Next Session

Next session, we’ll hear about Leonard’s time as writer-in-residence at FAWWA, and hopefully we’ll have time for some readers. Please bring along an excerpt and a few extra copies if you want to share your work with us.

We can talk more about self-publishing, and maybe touch on the tricky topic of writing memoir and the people who might not be happy to read about themselves …

Hope to see you then.

Best wishes and happy writing,

Louise.

Happy Christmas 2014

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I want to wish everyone a happy Christmas and thank you all for such a productive year at the BLPG. In particular, I say a heartfelt thanks for being so supportive of Emily and me after we took over from Iris.

This year we’ve had many and varied discussions, and a number of great guest speakers—Lisa Litjens, Ian Reid, Felicity Young, Rose Van Son, Dawn Barker, Nathan Hondros, Amanda Kendle.

Our members have enjoyed success:

  • placing in short story competitions—Pat, Glen, Leonard, Lynne
  • self-publishing their works—Elizabeth, Matt,
  • being published in journals and collections—Charles, Glen
  • launching blogs—Helen
  • being selected for writing residencies—Lynne, Emily, Leonard.And we shouldn’t forget Deb, who produced a baby!

    Please let me know if I’ve missed anyone’s achievement and I’ll add it to the list. Continue to tell me your good news so I can share it with the group.

I’m looking forward to our meetings in 2015, and our first one will be on February 15th. I’ll send out an email just before that date.

Until then, I wish you and your families a happy Christmas, and happy writing until we meet again.

Louise 🙂

Peace

October Meeting Round Up

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It was a small, intimate meeting today, as the unseasonable weather kept many of our regular writers at home today.  Luckily there was no storm damage to either Mattie Furphy or Tom Collins Houses, though the surrounding grounds were somewhat muddy.

We began our group discussion by reflecting on what we had learned at the September meeting, when Blogger Extraordinaire, Amanda Kendle, came in to talk to us about creating our author platforms.  A few members had been inspired to begin using a blog, or Twitter, and others had decided that while they saw the reasoning behind it, the world of social media was not right for them.  As Lyn so beautifully put it, there was a feeling of being like one of the “natives of Borneo”, standing back and watching, rather than letting Social Media outlets gobble up all her ideas and substance.  Some of our members wanted to know how hashtags work, and I would encourage people who want to practice using these to put #BLPG at the end of their tweets about their book length projects (or Facebook posts) if they want to see this in action, and keep in touch with other members of the group.

Pat joined us for the first time in a few months (welcome back, Pat!) and read us a thoroughly enthralling segment of her novel, “Tamsin and the Devil”, co-authored with Lisa Litjens.  We were all mightily impressed, and a discussion of form led to an impromptu, and enlightening, discussion about short forms of fiction.  Shorter fictions, such as short stories or novellas, do not always have to follow a linear progression, and as Elizabeth  rightly brought up, they do not always require a logical conclusion.  Shorter fictions also require a very tight control of language.

EXERCISE: Anyone who is interested might like to use their Twitter account to post VERY short fictions (140 characters or less) and use the hashtag #BLPG to share them with us.

After the break, Matt read us the ending scenes from his novel “The Spy”, a historical fiction starring little known explorer and polyglot Pero da Covilho.  This action adventure story is the second in a four part series, and shows off the adage ‘always leave them wanting more’ with its beautifully timed endpoint.

Matt also read us the opening page from his non fiction book in progress, “The Bloody Stairway to Paradise.”

Ros then showed us all her beautiful picture book, just recently published through Book Baby, “Awesome Aunt Dolly in Action”.  This heartwarming, rhyming book about a rather buxom aunty had us all gushing over its beautiful production and I think a few members will be looking to purchase this for loved ones for Christmas.  You can do that here….

Iris read us the opening scenes from her work in progress, a quiet but wry and insightful story about a woman named Evie.  She had us spellbound and ready for more.  It was lovely to see Iris again; for those who don’t know, the entire BLPG was Iris’s brainchild and we are incredibly grateful for her continuing support.

Finally, I read a few scenes from a story in Island Issue 136 that had taken my breath away, but I realised it was longer than I remembered and left off after two segments, encouraging all there to read the end.  Here’s the rest of the story for those who are interested.

Thanks to those who attended today.  The next meeting will take place on the 16th of November at 10am and will possibly be our last meeting for 2014.  All welcome, participation will cost you a mere $5 donation for the Fellowship.

A reminder also that the Fellowship of Australian Writers WA is having their busy bee at Tom Collins/ Mattie Furphy Houses and grounds next Sunday the 26th of October from 9am and volunteers are appreciated.  See http://www.fawwa.org for more details.

August 2014 Meeting Round-up

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Thanks to everyone who came to yesterday’s meeting, and a warm welcome to Tracie who came for the first time.

First up, we heard Dawn Barker speak about her journeys: from Aberdeen, Scotland, to Perth, Western Australia; from Medicine and Psychiatry, to creative writing; and from unpublished writer to bestselling author. Of particular interest was her disciplined writing practice (Dawn, I hope you wrote your 500 words today!) and her first draft practice of ‘not reading back’.

After the break, Glen read his monologue, which enthralled us all. Best of luck to Glen for the competition in which it is entered, and I hope many more voices perform it in the future.

Now, onto next month: we have Amanda Kendle coming to talk to us about Social Media and why we should be using it.

Amanda Kendle

Amanda is an experienced traveller and travel blogger, who presents courses on blogging, social media, and online promotion for UWA’s Extension Programme. As authors, we know the benefits of having a social media profile, and that’s not just for self-publishers but commercial publishers also expect it these days. Amanda will talk to us on blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting, and hopefully Pinterest and Instagram, too. When she’s not blogging or face booking or tweeting, Amanda’s also a passionate reader of modern Australian literature and harbours a not-so-secret desire to become a published novelist. You can find out more about Amanda on her websites: Not a Ballerina (but a traveller and a thinker) and Amanda Kendle Consulting.

I’m about to make up a list of good websites for writers and post the links here on the website. Please let me know (via email or the contact page here) if there are any you particularly like and want to let others know about. I’ve already noted yesterday’s recommendations.

Hoping to see you all next month, 21st September, at 10am. Until then, happy writing!

Louise