February Meeting Round-Up


Welcome back to 2016! It was a big turnout last weekend, and I’m looking forward to another year of working towards our writing goals.

We welcomed many familiar faces, which is always lovely, as well as a few new writers working on a diverse range of projects—novel, memoir, family history, and feature articles.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the topics we discussed:


Many writing centres around Perth run writing classes and anyone looking to improve their writing skills can find details of courses and workshops on their websites:
UWA Extension
Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre
Australian Writers’ Centre.

The ‘Trinity School for Seniors‘ was also mentioned. They run classes for the over 60’s, including Creative Writing, Life Writing, and Manuscript Development courses. You can read more about the courses they run in this brochure here.

John Harman also runs courses on plotting, characterisation, dialogue, narrative structure, developing creativity, and more. For more information, see John‘s website.

Apart from these, the Australian Writers’ Centre and Gotham Writers’ (based in the USA) run online creative writing courses at various times throughout the year. The Queensland Writers’ Centre has the ‘Year of the Novel Online’, and the Writers’ Studio run novel-writing courses, catering to the level you’re at.

Many of these courses are expensive, but there’s a free option: MOOC‘s, which stands for Massive Open Online Courses. They’re running all the time, and cover just about every subject imaginable. While you don’t get the one-on-one teaching, the information comes from some of the best in the business. For the past couple of years, each September the renowned Iowa Writers’ Centre has run one on writing fiction. You can subscribe to their email list for when registration opens.


Congratulations to Emily Paull on having a short story in the anthology, ‘(Re)Sisters—Stories of Rebel Girls, Revolution, Empowerment and Escape’, and also a story accepted for the Margaret River short story collection!


Emily also chaired some sessions at the recent Perth Writers’ Festival. I saw her in action with Lauren Groff, whom she even helped by remembering the author of a quote.

Congratulations, also, to Christine Eyres, on being long-listed for the MSlexia Novel Competition. This is a prestigious competition for novel-writers, so please keep us posted, Christine. The mslexia website is also worth a look, with many interesting articles particularly aimed at women writers.


This post took much longer to write than anticipated because I made the mistake of downloading the Grammarly App while I was writing it, and lost a couple of hours to playing. Thanks for letting us know, Ros, as it’s really useful. I pasted in one of my documents, and it came up with many helpful suggestions. It seems more specific and specialised than MS Word’s general spelling and grammar check.


Submissions for the TAG Hungerford Award close on 18th March. Click the link for more details on how to enter.



Melinda Tognini, author of ‘Many Hearts, One Voice: a history of the War Widows Guild of WA‘, has agreed to speak to us at our next meeting on 20th March.

Melinda has worked in various roles over the years, including as a pharmacy assistant, youth worker, chaplain and teacher. She’s written a full-length YA novel, a short play, Can You See Me?, feature and travel articles, personal essays, and has been a regular contributor to magazines over the yearsIn 2012, she completed a Master of Arts in writing, and from that arose her first book, Many Hearts, One Voice: the Story of the War Widows’ Guild in Western Australia. She’s particularly passionate about telling ‘invisible’ stories – those stories absent from or sidelined in the dominant narratives of our history – and empowering others to find their voice.


I’ve discussed changing the format of our meetings with a few members, and we’ve decided people might get more out of them if we give them a bit of structure. We’re going to try for a guest speaker every second month, and we could even do an in-house workshop or two. We’ll always leave half the meeting open for questions and discussion, and for meetings without a speaker, I’ll prepare a presentation. We’ll also shorten the meeting time to two hours.

I’ll also give you some advance notice of ‘Write Night’, which will run every Tuesday fortnight and which is aiming for a mid-March start. This will be different to our meetings, in that the time will be used for writing.


I’ll write up the writing books I recommended in a separate post—stay tuned …

That’s about it for this month. I hope to see you again on the 20th March when we’ll hear Melinda and talk about our writing.



February Meeting Round-Up


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.


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.)


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
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.


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,


First Meeting for 2015


Hi All,

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all!

Happy New Writing Year

I hope this message finds you well and rested after your holiday break, and more importantly, with a creative spirit ready to fly in 2015! I’m feeling positive about this year, that it’s going to be a creative one for all of us …

Our first meeting for 2015 is coming up next Sunday, 15th February, 2015, at 10am. We’d love to see as many members as possible come to the first meeting, where we can discuss our projects and our plans for the year.

Bring something to read if you wish, as it’s always nice to hear members’ writing. Less than 1500 words is good (about eight minutes), and if you want more thorough feedback or critique of your work, please bring extra copies for people to take home and peruse. 

When I sent out the list of member achievements for 2014, I didn’t realise that one of our members, Leonard Goulds, had been granted a residency with FAWWA for 2015. Leonard is the FAWWA writer-in-residence at the moment, and I’m hoping he can come to our meeting and talk to us about the residency, the application process, what he’s working on, and perhaps give us a reading.  

So, come along and join us next Sunday for some motivating discussion and to get us into the writing mindset!

Hope to see you soon,