Once again, it was a warm and lively gathering of the BLPG at Mattie’s, and we welcomed two new writers to the group—Gill and Jyoti, who are both writing fiction.

We discussed returning to writing after setting it aside or stepping away from a project for a lengthy period. Most of us seemed familiar with this as family and work often intrude on writing time. Suggestions on how to return to our work-in-progress included:

1. Printing the draft-to-date, and reading it to refresh our memory and hopefully revive our enthusiasm for the project. Also, sometimes after setting work aside for a period, glaring plot holes jump out.
2. Summarising the novel, chapter-by-chapter, which not only reintroduces the story, but highlights details that might be missing or unexplained.
3. Planning the novel in advance might alleviate some of these issues, as you can see where you left off and always know where the story is heading.

Please feel free to add to these suggestions in the comments.

I have two major killers of my enthusiasm for a project: when I don’t like what my characters are doing, and when I don’t know what should happen next. When I don’t like what they’re doing, it’s often because their behaviour isn’t in keeping with their character, or they’re doing boring things that just aren’t interesting. When I don’t know what should happen next, it means I’ve written myself into a corner! Sometimes, a bit of time away from the work is helpful, and the remedy usually comes—often as I’m driving and can’t write it down, and it often involves deleting and backtracking!

We also talked about how hard it is to avoid clichés when writing. They’re the first words that come to mind, and it’s sometimes hard to think of something new and original. It can be especially difficult when describing things that have been written about since time immemorial, like skies and sunrises and sunsets, for example. Yet, these descriptive details take the reader into the scene, and are evocative and create mood. The most helpful solution to this, I’ve found, is simply to start describing the scene using sensory details—visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile.

Sometimes, I re-read a passage in a novel that described the particular object or scene in a way I liked. I don’t copy it, of course, but I use it for inspiration. Sometimes, too, I visit the website Descriptionari. Many of the descriptions here aren’t unique or particularly well-written, but they give me ideas from which I can generate my own description.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 5.45.44 pm

Another useful website is the ‘Reverse Dictionary‘ , for when you have the description, but not the the word. The ‘Flip Dictionary‘ by Barbara Ann Kipfer is another reverse dictionary which can be purchased from Amazon.

I’ll also let people know about a writing group, The Writing Connection, run by Rosemary Stevens and is held in Fremantle. Each Tuesday fortnight, Rosemary gives us a prompt and we write for about half-an-hour. Afterwards, people share their writing. It’s a very safe and encouraging group in which to write. If anyone would like to know more, please email me and I can forward Rosemary’s contact details.

Also, Barbara Turner-Vasselago is running her Freefall Writing Workshop in Perth from November 9-14. I did this workshop about two years’ ago, and it really helped my writing. You can read more about what I thought here, and more about Barbara and Freefall here.


Lastly, tomorrow (Sunday, 6th September) at 3pm, FAWWA is hosting another of their Creative Conversations at Mattie’s House. The writer is Andrew Burke, in conversation with Dennis Haskell, and the topic is ‘Imagination, Inspiration and Intellect’. You can read more details about the conversation on the FAWWA website.


That’s all. Our next meeting will be Sunday, 20th September, 10am. Until then, happy writing.



May Meeting Round-Up


#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.


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 …


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.


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).


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.


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. 


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!


Creative Conversations at FAWWA


Creative Conversations, a new initiative organised by FAWWA, will run over the next nine months at Mattie Furphy House.

Each session has three parts: a conversation and a workshop, followed by a manuscript assessment for five writers.

In the conversation, the featured author discusses his or her creative process with another author or creator. Topics discussed will range from dreaming up mystery novels which persuade readers to follow the whole series, to entry into a poet’s creative world.

Audience members will be encouraged to become involved in the conversation.

The conversations will take place on the first Sunday of each month, at 3pm. (Entry: $10)

A week after the conversation, the featured writer will lead a workshop on an aspect of their work or the creative life. The workshops are aimed at introducing new skills to emerging writers, whether they be honing the perfect sentences or bringing the past to life. (Cost is $30 non FAWWA members, $25 FAWWA members.)

In the following fortnight, by arrangement, the featured author will provide manuscript assessment of a short excerpt (5-6 pages) to 5 writers and give feedback.

The first conversation is this afternoon, 8th March, at 3pm, and features crime writer Alan Carter in conversation with Georgia Richter from Fremantle Press.

Alan will talk about creating a Crime Fiction Series—heroes, villains, and the zeitgeist. 

Alan Carter

Alan was born in Sunderland, UK, and immigrated to Australia in 1991. He lives in Fremantle with his wife Kath and son Liam and works as a television documentary director. His first novel, Prime Cut, was shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award in 2010, and won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction in 2011. The sequel, Getting Warmer, was released in October 2013. The third book in the Cato Kwong series, Bad Seed, has just been released by Fremantle Press.

Next Sunday, 15th March, also at 3pm, Alan will run a workshop. He will cover topics such as: crime scene investigation; creating the characters—creating heroes, villains, and an ensemble cast that your readers will not only want to stick around with for a book, but for a series; points of view; a sense of time and place; plots, subplots and red herrings; cliff-hangers and resolutions; and practical tips for the perfect crime.


Next month’s author is Moira McKinnon.

moira mckinnon

Moira was born in Western Australia, one of six children. Although she was drawn to writing, she became a general practitioner then an epidemiologist, with an emphasis on infectious diseases. She spent her early working life in the outback, mainly with Aboriginal people. In 1992 she wrote a short story, Toyota Dreaming, which won the Harold Goodwin short story prize at the Henry Lawson festival. Many years later, she started writing again, and her essay, ‘Who Killed Matilda?’, was a co-winner of the National Calibre essay award in 2011. Her novel, ‘Cicada’, set in the Kimberley, was published by Allen and Unwin in 2014.

Moira will be in conversation with author Marlish Glorie on Sunday, 12th April, at 3pm about ‘Writing across the cultural divide – can a writer be true to both sides?’

The following week, Sunday, 19th April, at 3pm she will run a workshop on ‘The power of the sentence’. The workshop will examine tools and methods to create great sentences, looking at the rhythm, balance and suspense of sentences of master writers.

More information:

For more about the Creative Conversations series and to see the list of upcoming authors, download the booklet Creative Conversations, or visit the FAWWA website.