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Courses taken at AWC:
Freelance Writing Stage 1
Travel Writing
Copywriting Essentials
How to Write Media Releases

Five years ago Mandy McKeesick completed the AWC Freelance Writing Stage 1 course with the aim of showcasing the Australian bush. Today today she has a successful business working with both magazine and corporate clients doing just that!

“My writing home, however, is the magazine RM Williams Outback and in the current issue I have a whopping 27 pages of words and photos spanning two major stories.

“Today if someone asks me what I do, I proudly say I am a freelance writer and photographer. I still live and work on a cattle property – something I do not want to change – and my husband is dragging me, somewhat kicking and screaming, into a third business as an opal miner, but writing is my career.

How it all started
“Prior to doing the first course I had had an article published with R.M.Williams Outback, a publication I have always admired for its positive portrayal of the bush. Looking back I am not sure how that happened, such was my inexperience. I spoke to the editor and asked about the AWC course. He was high in his praise of Valerie Khoo and that was all I needed to enrol.

“For a writing career I had the words and stories, the experiences gained from a life in rural and regional areas, the love for the land – even in the hard times – and its people. I did not, however, have any idea of how to go about it. So I turned up at the doors of the AWC in Sydney and the presenter Sue White gave me an education. That was the Freelance Writing course and I have been a professional writer ever since.”

What’s so good about Freelance Writing Stage 1?
“The Freelance Writing course was mind-blowing and Sue White exceptional as a teacher. I learnt the jargon, the pitch–commission–filing process, pay rates to expect, the number of editors to work for to build a business, the need for bullet-proof armour when dealing with rejection, and so on.

“I think I absorbed all Sue said into the pores of my skin!”

After that course, Mandy completed Travel Writing and then Copywriting Essentials.  She further expanded her business to include corporate work.

Hard work and dedication paid off
Mandy always knew she would be a published writer one day but knew it would not become a reality without a lot of work and dedication.

“An editor once said: ‘We like you, you don’t go away’. And I don’t. I’ll put in the time to review a published article and see how it has been edited. I’ll research how writing styles differ from one publication to another.

“I also did an online photography course and invested in camera gear because a bush writer will make more money if she can provide images as well as words. And you know what? I love it. I love the challenge. I have developed that essential thick skin and realised relationships are as important as words and photos. I know the challenges will keep coming, and I relish that. And best of all is I get to showcase the Australian bush with almost every word I write.”

Mandy maintains that she gained valuable insights with all the courses she’s done with AWC but the Freelance Writing Course was the most influential.

“I grew wings after that and have never looked back; and now I run a successful business that supports the farm – even through drought.”

Her advice
“To all the newbies, don’t give up, keep pitching and keep believing. It will happen.”

OPAL HEART MEDIA: www.opalheartmedia.com.au

The post Mandy McKeesick has never looked back since taking AWC’s Freelance Writing course appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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Each week here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we dissect and discuss, contort and retort, ask and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and ridiculousness. It’s a celebration of language, masquerading as a passive-aggressive whinge about words and weirdness. This week we learn the idiom to almost succeed in something, but not quite get there.

Q: Hi AWC, I’d love to know how we got the idiom “close, but no cigar” – it seems like a strange thing to be so close to getting. Thoughts?

A: The saying means to almost succeed in something, but not quite get there.

Q: Yes, but where did it originate?

A: Jamaica, which on a map is very close to Cuba – a major cigar producer.

Q: Really?

A: No, we made that up. It actually comes from hospital waiting areas, where expectant fathers would enquire about news of the labour. The nurse – instead of saying “she’s 7cm dilated and calling you a bunch of expletives” – would simply say “close, but no cigar”. The cigar of course being what was smoked once the baby arrived.

Q: Wow, really?

A: Actually no, we made that one up too.

Q: Arrrgh. Why are you doing this?

A: Because it’s fun coming up with alternative origin stories.

Q: The real one please.

A: Okay. Surprisingly, it originated in the 1990s with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsk—

Q: Okay, that’s enough. If you’re not going to take this seriously, I shall take my questions elsewhere.

A: Alright fine, let’s get to the REAL origin of “close but no cigar”, shall we?

Q: Yes please.

A: It dates from the early 20th century US fairgrounds, where you would go to play the near impossible-to-win games in those sideshow alleys.

Q: Oh, those ones where you can win a giant cuddly gorilla?

A: Yes, although back then there were significantly less cuddly cigars on offer.

Q: Wait, what? I know that children went up and down chimneys back then, but I’m fairly sure they didn’t also smoke like chimneys. Why would they want to win cigars?

A: Remember, this was a hundred years ago, when children were still being seen and not heard. It was actually the adults that had the fun at the fair and got the prizes – in this case, cigars being one such prize on offer.

Q: Wow, a fairground with no kids. That’s like an organic locally-sourced juice bar with no apron-wearing hipsters.

A: Quite. So anyway, if you didn’t end up winning (which, let’s face it, was almost always), then the carny (can also be spelt “carnie”) would yell “close, but no cigar!”

Q: And this story is true?

A: Yes. Through the late 1920s and 1930s, it began to appear in print and on film – with the context already beyond the fairground. Headlines of close election losses or sporting defeats would commonly use “Close – but no cigar!”. Since the 1950s, it has been well entrenched and today you might also see “Nice try, but no cigar” – which of course means the same thing.

Q: Okay, that seems like a fair answer.

A: Oh very good, because of the fairground?

Q: No. Because it was average.

A: Right, we’re done here. This cigar chat has officially run out of puff.

If you have a grammar gripe or punctuation puzzle that you’d like our Q&A to explore, !

The post Q&A: Close but no cigar appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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In Episode 241 of So you want to be a writer: Meet the guy who writes the messages you find in fortune cookies and learn about real estate copywriting. And we chat to Ali Berg, co-author of The Book Ninja.

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show Notes

Shoutout

Omwriting from UK :

I am working my way through the library of old podcasts. Great chat, great advice and fantastic interviews. Love it.

Links Mentioned

Meet the guy who writes your fortune cookies

Real estate copywriting

Writer in Residence

Ali Berg

Ali Berg is a creative writer with over six years experience working in both London and Melbourne. She’s delivered fully integrated campaigns for some of the world’s most loved brands including Mercedes-Benz, ghd, The Body Shop, Cadbury, Good Friday Appeal, Samsung and more. She’s worked for both in-house and award-winning agencies including Leo Burnett, Grey Possible, CHI, The Red Brick Road and The Body Shop’s in-house creative studio. She’s also the founder of the Australian community initiative, Books on the Rail.

She co-authored The Book Ninja with Michelle Kalus, published by Simon and Schuster.

Follow Ali Berg on Twitter

Follow Simon and Schuster on Twitter

(If you click through the links above and then purchase from Booktopia, we get a small commission from this purchase. This amount is donated to Doggie Rescue to support their valuable work with unwanted and abandoned dogs.)

Competition

Competition: Win double passes to the new film, “The Breaker Upperers”

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

Connect with us on twitter

@altait

@valeriekhoo

Connect with Valerie, Allison and listeners in the podcast community on Facebook

So you want to be a writer Facebook group

Share the love!

Interview Transcript

Coming soon!

The post Ep 241 Who writes fortune cookie messages? And meet Ali Berg, co-author of ‘The Book Ninja’. appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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This week we’re excited to be giving away 20 double passes to an upcoming new movie from executive producer Taika Waititi and the producers behind Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy. It’s The Breaker Upperers – written, directed and starring Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami, premiering at SXSW and opening at Sydney Film Festival. It hits cinemas nationwide from 26 July 2018.

The film centres on Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) – once the two-timing victims of the same man, but now best friends who have made a business out of breaking up couples for cash. Life is good, cynicism is high and business is booming, until they run into an old victim who will truly put their friendship to the test…

This Kiwi gem is a side-splittingly funny tale of friendship and relationships – an authentic ride with equal parts hilarity and humility.

Check out the trailer here.

The Breaker Upperers - Official Trailer - YouTube

So, to win one of our 20 double passes, we’d like to know:

IF YOU HAD A “BREAKER UPPERER” BUSINESS, WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?

The 20 business names we like the best will win!

ENTER USING THE FORM BELOW.

Entries close midday Monday 23 July 2018, Sydney/Melbourne time.

GOOD LUCK!

First Name *
Last Name *
Email *
State *
Please select oneNSWVICQLDWAACTSANTTASOutside Australia
Competition entry *


(NOTE: Film passes are redeemable in select Australian cinemas. If you win, we’ll contact you via email. Winners must acknowledge their win and provide a sending address within 7 days of notification or they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen.)

The post Competition: WIN double passes to new film, “The Breaker Upperers” appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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Each week here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we dissect and discuss, contort and retort, ask and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and ridiculousness. It’s a celebration of language, masquerading as a passive-aggressive whinge about words and weirdness. This week we’re in a wedding mood and wondering about fiancé, fiancée and “my betrothed”.

Q: Hi AWC, I just got engaged on the weekend and was wondering what we call each other now. Is it “fiancé” or “fiancée” or simply “my betrothed”?

A: Wait, what? You got ENGAGED?

Q: Oh, yes.

A: How are we only hearing about this in a question about word choice?

Q: Well, we don’t really hang out much outside of these conversations. I figured someone would have told you…

A: Right. Well, okay. Congratulations.

Q: Yes, thanks. Anyway, can you come to the party?

A: Of course, we’d be honoured. Good on you for saving money on invitations.

Q: Oh. This is awkward. I meant can you come to the party on an answer to my dilemma? Over which word to use?

A: Sure.

Q: Thanks.

A: So, when two people become engaged, there is indeed a generic term of “betrothed” – a noun and adjective used for both parties. For example, “the man to whom I am betrothed” or “my betrothed will meet me at the cake shop”…

Q: Sounds very old-fashioned.

A: That’s because it’s old – dating back to the late 1500s.

Q: What about “fiancée”? Or is it “fiancé”?

A: The terms “fiancée” and “fiancé” arrived in the mid-1800s – from the French for “to trust or confide”. They are nouns, and a “fiancée” is an engaged woman, while a “fiancé” is an engaged man.

Q: Oh, wow. I didn’t realise there was a difference based on male and female.

A: There is.

Q: Do you have an easy way to remember which is which?

A: You could think of the “e”s as rings. A woman traditionally ends up with two (engagement and wedding band) while a man wears just one (wedding band).

Q: Nice! So when she was engaged, Beyoncé was the fiancée, and Jay-Z was the fiancé, yeah?

A: That’s right. Nice rhyming.

Q: I also see people write the words without the acute accent above the “e”. i.e. “fiancée” and “fiancé”. What’s the deal with this?

A: Either way is fine. When the words migrated to English from French, many chose to drop the acute accents over time, similar to a word like “résumé” or “café” – it’s basically a style thing.

Q: Do you think that the people who don’t use acute accents are only doing that because they can’t find the keyboard shortcut?

A: You might be onto something there. But either way is accepted. Fairfax Stylebook does without; others with. Just be consistent.

Q: When my aunt Shelby was looking for a fiancé and she would only marry someone with a cute accent.

A: Did she find someone?

Q: She and Uncle Luigi are very happy.

A: Excellent.

Q: And “finance” is not related to “fiancé” or “fiancée”?

A: It might look similar, and it has French origins, but apart from needing to have your finances in order for a wedding, there is no connection.

Q: Good to know.

A: Congratulations again on the engagement, by the way.

Q: Thanks. And sorry about not telling you.

A: That’s okay. We’re fine with it. Really.

Q: Cool. It’s just that things have just been so busy lately, especially since the baby arrived…

A: Wait, what??

If you have a grammar gripe or punctuation puzzle that you’d like our Q&A to explore, !

The post Q&A: Fiancé vs fiancée appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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Congratulations to AWC alumnus Sarah Bailey who appeared in the Sun Herald and The Sunday Age. Sarah has just published her second book Into the Night (Allen & Unwin), a brazen murder with hundreds of witnesses and a case where no one can be trusted.

Sarah’s acclaimed debut novel The Dark Lake (2017) was a bestseller around the world and her taut and suspenseful storytelling earned her comparisons with authors such as Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.

In Into the Night, the protagonist, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock from Sarah’s first book is back on the case, but this time she’s in Melbourne. Now she’s investigating two very different deaths and looking for a connection between the two.

Sarah started writing short stories to give herself a sense of completion and flexibility that fit with her busy lifestyle working in advertising. Words flowed easily, and she knew that writing was something she wanted to pursue. Keen to hone her skills and hear from professional writers on the fundamentals of writing a good story she completed Creative Writing Stage 1 at the Australian Writers’ Centre.

“I’d heard really good things about the Australian Writers’ Centre course, the reviews were always really positive, and people were always providing really good feedback on social media, so I just thought that was a really good place for me to start.”

Congratulations Sarah. We look forward to reading more riveting books featuring Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock in the future.

Hear more about Sarah’s path to publication.

The post Sarah Bailey’s much awaited second thriller hits the bookshelves appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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In Episode 240 of So you want to be a writer: Avoid the perils of striving for perfection and learn about the copywriter who cold called 500 places in one week. Impress your friends by using ‘defenestrate’ in your casual conversations and discover your chance to win an awesome 3 book pack. You’ll also meet Kirsty Manning, author of The Jade Lily.

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show Notes

Shoutout

JamesLindsay76 from Australia:

Over the summer I had a bad case of writers block. So bad I found it hard to write a tweet without getting the sweats. Then I found this awesome podcast. I listened to one podcast and quickly mainlined several more. I was mowing, cleaning toilets and any other chore I could just so I could hear Valerie & Allison talk about all things writing. Like domestos in my drains my writers block was washed away and I quickly found excuses to get the manuscript out. I have now finished book 3 in my ‘Plato Wyngard’ series, edited and polished and sent it off to the printers. Hoping to launch in July and believing it’s the best Plato yet. I used a lot of the tips and strategies talked about in these awesome podcasts and truely believe they have made my writing tighter and more effective. After reading Allison Tait’s ‘The Mapmaker Chronicles’ I have even started a new middle grade series using Viking mythology and hoping this could be my break out series. Thank you Valerie and Allison, I look forward to each podcast as they drop and really appreciate the inspiration. – James Lindsay

Writer in Residence

Kirsty Manning

Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east and west coasts of the United States and pockets of Asia. Kirsty’s journalism and photography specialising in lifestyle and travel regularly appear in magazines, newspapers and online.

Kirsty’s first novel was the enchanting The Midsummer Garden published in 2017.

The Jade Lily is her second novel.

Kirsty is a partner in the award-winning Melbourne wine bar Bellota, and the Prince Wine Store in Sydney and Melbourne. She lives with her husband and three children amid an old chestnut grove in the Macedon Ranges, Victoria.

Follow Kirsty on Twitter

Follow Allen and Unwin on Twitter

(If you click through the links above and then purchase from Booktopia, we get a small commission from this purchase. This amount is donated to Doggie Rescue to support their valuable work with unwanted and abandoned dogs.)

Competition

WIN: Describe this image in ONE word

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

Connect with us on twitter

@altait

@valeriekhoo

Connect with Valerie, Allison and listeners in the podcast community on Facebook

So you want to be a writer Facebook group

Share the love!

Interview Transcript

Valerie

Kirsty, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kirsty

My pleasure.

Valerie

Now this beautiful book, your beautiful book, The Jade Lily. For some readers who haven’t read the book yet or discovered the book yet, tell us what it’s about.

Kirsty

Well, it starts with a little girl. Well, she’s not little, 13 years old. On the night of Crystal Night in Vienna. And we follow Romy as she flees Austria and boards a ship to Shanghai, the only place in the world, really, that they can go without a visa and that would let them in to the country.

So they go to Shanghai. And here she befriends her next-door neighbour, Li, a Chinese girl. And she learns the world of Shanghai through her next-door neighbour’s eyes.

And then there is a contemporary storyline of Alexandra who is coming home to Melbourne, because her grandfather is dying. And through her grandmother she learns the story of her Jewish refugee grandparents and their time in Shanghai during the Second World War, and their life in what is now known as the Shanghai ghetto.

Valerie

And it’s just such a great idea for a book and a setting and an era. I understand there’s quite an interesting way this idea came about and into your head. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kirsty

Well, I actually was in Shanghai on a holiday with my children and I was walking down a laneway in Hongkou which is one of the poorer areas of Shanghai. And I walked past an old door, there was a red door with a rusted-on Star of David. And I was gobsmacked. I mean, what was this Star of David doing in the middle of Shanghai which was a communist country? And it was the last thing I was expecting.

And I then found out that just around the corner there was a Shanghai Jewish Refugee’s Museum. And we went there and I discovered that 20,000 – over 20,000 Jews were given shelter in Shanghai during the Second World War.

And this just blew me away. I had no idea of that history, of that pocket. I had no idea of the history of Shanghai full stop. And I had no idea of the Jewish history in Shanghai. And it just fascinated me. It just kept on calling me.

And I came home and I contacted the Holocaust Museum in Melbourne, and they put me in contact with some people and resources and I just started researching from there.

Valerie

But when this occurred, this was 2005 I read somewhere, I think. Is that right? No. When did you go to Shanghai?

Kirsty

2011 the first time I went there.

Valerie

But when you came back, did you think, I’m going to write a book about it? Or did you think, I’m just interested and I’m just going to do some research?

Kirsty

No, I didn’t. I had no idea. Actually it was 2014. I’m jumping ahead. I’m thinking my years of my children.

I didn’t know. But I was hooked. I was completely intoxicated by the history of Shanghai and the city, the scents, the smells, the architecture. We walked The Bund and the French Concession with these plane trees, giant plane trees that overhang the buildings and kind of kiss in the middle, so you’re walking through this almost cathedral of trees in the French concession.

And I just was fascinated with this city that could be old school dumplings out of a pot on one corner, and then the fastest train in the world and Bladerunner the next. It was fascinating to me. I’d never been somewhere like that, and it was really quite eye opening.

Valerie

So you do this research because you’re fascinated. At what point did you think, I’m writing a novel based on this?

Kirsty

Well, I went back. I became so fascinated with it we did a stopover again on the way on a family holiday. And I went back to the Jewish Museum. And then I started looking at the people’s stories and the shoes they were wearing and the photos of the flooding and the heim which were the boarding houses that the refugees lived in in the ghetto, and the cafes. And I started learning about the stories of people, how they came to be in Shanghai and their life in the ghetto in Shanghai.

Because don’t forget, in the late 1930s, Shanghai was the wealthiest, the most glamorous, the most dazzling international city in the world. And it just must have been extraordinary to sail up the river and see The Bund, these huge European Renaissance and Art Deco buildings perched on the edge of the river, with sampans and barrels and live frogs and snakes and the scent of star anise and cotton and these strange smells of foods that they’ve never smelt before.

And I just thought, imagine! Imagine coming into this city from Europe and seeing these buildings that look ostensibly European but not understanding the language or the scents or the culture or anything around it. It would have been packed, packed the docks. And I’ve seen pictures of the river where the rivers are just heaving with boats and sampans and there’s jetties everywhere. It just felt like chaos in the pictures, so I can only imagine what it felt like when you got off on to the docks.

So I really tried to capture that. I started thinking about how I could capture that in a story. And then there was one particular photo of two little girls. It was a European refugee and two Chinese girls laughing. And they were wearing little Peter Pan collars. And it looked like they were sharing a joke. They both had their hair pulled back with ribbons. And they looked like really tight friends. And I thought, that’s it. That’s my story. This is a story about… This is my way into Shanghai, it’s going to be through the friendship of two girls.

Valerie

Love it. And so you went back the second time. You go to the museum, you find out all this other stuff. You see this picture of little girls and you think, okay, that’s my story. What then did you have to do to do more research about the era and the customs and just everything really?

Kirsty

Well, I took a walking tour of Shanghai. There’s a great historical society called the Art Deco Shanghai. You might not know, but Shanghai has one of the greatest collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. So I did a walking tour of those buildings.

And I also did a Jewish tour with a journalist called Dvir Bar-Gal and he took me through, walked me through the buildings, starting at the Cathay Hotel that features in my book, and took me right through the ghetto into the buildings that people lived in. And then again on to the museum. And he showed me where they cooked and where they lived and how they went to school.

And then I started reading a lot of memoirs from people. There’s a lot of articles online. And I bought a lot of memoirs too. But the thing with memoir is everyone remembers things slightly differently.

But what was universal in all the memoirs was the deep reverence that the refugees had for the Chinese people. And how they really took them in and looked after them and their generosity. It was a real sense of…

To be stateless, these were stateless refugees, and it would be the most horrific awful feeling. We see it, it’s still happening today. And there’s nothing any of us wouldn’t do, really, to save our families and to get them into a safe harbour. And it really struck me that’s what all of these people were doing.

And their resilience and their courage to survive those years of the Japanese occupation where food was essentially cut off, and so everyone had to make do. Chinese families were sharing with Jewish refugee families in the ghetto. There could be as many as 10 or 12 or 14 people to a room. It was really… It was tough. Bitterly cold in winter and in summer humid and hot with dysentery and typhoid rife, with not enough medicine to treat people.

And yet still, the photos that I saw at the museum were people sharing Chinese New Year meals together and going to school together and playing hoop games in the street. It really was quite an extraordinary time.

Valerie

So you do have a couple of timelines going. And obviously they’re interrelated. When you were writing it, how did you arrange your writing? Did you write the timelines separately and then mix them up? Or did you write them in a linear fashion? How did you plot the story as you went along with these two timelines?

Kirsty

Well, before I started this book, I knew that it was based during a war, the Second World War. And there were certain dates I had to hit.

And it just so happened, Valerie, that I had done the Scrivener course that you offer through the Australian Writers’ Centre, because I thought that it would be good to get a new tool. The kinds of books I write, dual time frame, and this one especially with very clear dates. I mean, in the Second World War there are certain dates that you have to hit. And so I…

Scrivener really helped me map at those dates, the line of the story. So I had certain ideas of scenes that would happen. And without giving elements in the story, you know, the war begins and ends on certain dates, and there are certain things that happen in Shanghai that were big international events that happened on certain dates. And so I put those in as key events.

And then I had certain scenes that I wanted. I wanted Romy’s first impression of Shanghai. She sails in on the boat. I wanted her in the Cathay Hotel. There were certain… Shanghai is almost a character in the book as well. And there are certain places that I wanted to show off in Shanghai on particular dates. That was really crucial. So I did that.

And then I had the contemporary timeframe. And I could colour code that, so it was very clear. And that allowed me to lace the contemporary story through. Because that was… Obviously Alexandria’s dealing with different issues. But really, when you’re writing historical fiction, you are lacing a mystery through the book. And you have to lace it through both eras. And I found Scrivener very useful for laying out the line of my plot.

Valerie

But when you actually wrote it, did you write the timelines separately? Or did you actually jump between the two?

Kirsty

I did bits and pieces. I would work on…

The benefit of working in dual timeframe is you can work on the historical aspect until you’re sick of it, or until you’re at a part where you don’t know, and then you can switch across to the contemporary.

I start… I have a very… Before I even start writing a book, I have a very clear idea of what the opening is. And I have a very clear idea of what the ending is. And then as I said I had some key dates. So in the middle I kind of patchwork it together until I get the sense of what the characters are and what the line of the story is.

But I always know where I’m heading. I mean, that can change, and it did change slightly. But it… There were certain aspects… So the historical, the first hundred pages, I just wrote that in one go. And then I broke it up. And then with the contemporary, that was scene by scene laced throughout. So that’s how I work.

It’s a bit like threading together a patchwork quilt. And sometimes you have large chunks. And then I think in the last few days before this was due with the publisher, I had two scenes, I just wasn’t quite sure how to link two crucial scenes. And I was still umming and ahhing about it, and then in two days I kind of wrote the two connecting contemporary scenes that stitched the whole book together and it was like voila!

Valerie

Yes! Fantastic.

Kirsty

I’m not sure how that happened completely. But that was a touch of magic. You do the work and then it just comes home, it brings it home.

Valerie

That’s right. The magic of creativity. So you said you have a very clear idea of how it’s going to start and a very clear idea of how it’s going to end. Which is great. And the way it starts is very powerful. Did the way it ended up in the book reflect the way it started in your head when you were conceiving it?

Kirsty

Yes, it did actually. It did. Because I think by then I had done a lot of research into the era and then I had stepped away and developed my own characters.

And I should say that the Holocaust Museum put me in touch with two Jewish refugees – Sam Moshinsky and Horst Eisfelder. And as I was writing… When I finished the first draft I actually went and met with them. And Sam has this booming baritone voice and he was a Russian Jew that lived in the very wealthy French Concession. And Horst lived in the Ghetto. He was a Viennese refugee. And he actually, as it turns out, came out on the same boat as my character Romy. And his parents owned Cafe Louis which features in my book as well. So I didn’t know that when I was writing it, but it came out when he was reading it.

And they… I had written the beginning, and I had written the end, and I had the characters in my mind. And then I gave it to them to read to feel – as well as some other beta readers, too. But I really wanted to know if… Because I was very nervous writing about this era that people lived through. And I am not Jewish, and I am not Chinese, and yet I felt very, very compelled to tell this story. So I wanted to treat it with the utmost respect and to feel like I was hitting the true notes without touching on anyone’s personal story.

Valerie

Sure. And this is your second book.

Kirsty

It is.

Valerie

I mean, your second novel. The first one did very, very well – The Midsummer Garden. Did you feel what is known as the pressure of the sophomore act?

Kirsty

Um… I don’t think so. Because I remember when my publishers asked me… So my first book went to option. And all of the publishers asked me if I had a second book. And I had this Shanghai story buzzing in my mind. And I remember, I sat down on Good Friday, actually, and typed up the proposal for it. And handed it in, that my agent handed out with the option. And it got bought.

And I really didn’t read that proposal again until the day before, funnily enough, I handed it in to the publisher. I thought, oh, I better check. I better check I’m on the right track here. And it was pretty close to the wire! So it had…

I think the resonance of this story, and I don’t know how that happened, but I did feel… I don’t think I felt pressure, because this is a very different book to The Midsummer Garden. It’s got much bigger themes. I felt pressure to capture the era well enough that people who lived it would appreciate it. I thought that was my pressure.

Although my husband did say that it was like I was giving birth. Because every time I would past the office I would say, “I’m not doing this again! If my next book, remind me, I’m not doing a war with tight dates like this!”

Valerie

What was the hardest part about the process, then? Or about capturing the era? What was the thing that was the toughest bit?

Kirsty

Well, I think because there are so many wonderful World War Two stories, and nobody has fictionalised this corner of history in Shanghai.

And I think the hardest bit was telling the story properly and capturing the era and making an interesting enough tale that would keep people enthralled to the end.

So I don’t think my publishers put any pressure on me. In fact, they were like, you really need to relax, actually.

But I sent it in to the publisher, I sent it in to my agent. And my publisher, she’s a beautiful woman, Annette Barlow, she was very busy and I didn’t hear from her for a couple of weeks. And I was holding my breath for two weeks.

Valerie

Oh, it’s stressful, isn’t it?

Kirsty

And eventually she got back to me and said, “Kirsty, this is magical. It is wonderful. You’ve created something special here.”

So I think my pressure was to do it so that if people like me had not come to the story before, you could pick this up and curl up and learn about a new era and have a wonderful tale.

Valerie

Oh, it absolutely does that. It absolutely does that. So have you always wanted to write novels?

Kirsty

I think so.

Valerie

So when you were little?

Kirsty

I really did. Yeah. Creative writing was my favourite story, my favourite subject when I was little. Mostly, my stories were about ponies and netball. Although I did branch into the crime area, because I did… My mum reminds me I wrote a story about smuggling guns to Afghanistan in netballs.

Valerie

Oh, right!

Kirsty

And I did a bit of poetry through high school. And I studied literature. And I remember writing an essay on Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. And there’s a particular scene where the glass house is floating down the river. And that was it for me. That was it. I thought, if..

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Australian Writers' Centre by Australian Writers' Centre Team - 1w ago

This week we’re showcasing THREE BOOKS – all featuring writing from three of our world-class AWC presenters, Natasha Lester, Kate Forsyth and Patti Miller. You can win all three.            

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester crosses two timelines to tell the story of Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette, who is forced to flee France as the Germans advance in war-torn 1940. Years later, her granddaughter, Australian curator Fabienne Bissette, journeys to the 2015 exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – uncovering a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets from the past.

Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth has been described as a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty – taking place in Pre-Raphaelites times and twisting many threads of obsession, heartbreak and awakenings in a dramatic tale that explores the true stories behind the Victorian era’s most famous paintings.

Reading the Landscape featuring Patti Miller is a celebration of Australian writing, featuring 25 of the greatest Australian writing names from past and present, and showcasing specially commissioned fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Australia’s finest writers on themes such as legacy, country, vision and hope.

Phew– what a line up! We’re exhausted from all the talent in one place this week, so we’ve decided to make this competition easy. In honour of the title of the third book, we’d like YOU to ‘read the landscape’ and give us ONE WORD that describes the image above. Our favourite entry will win the 3-book pack!

ENTER USING THE FORM BELOW.

Entries close midday Monday 16 July 2018, Sydney/Melbourne time.


GOOD L
UCK!

First Name *
Last Name *
Email *
State *
Please select oneNSWVICQLDWAACTSANTTASOutside Australia
Competition entry *


(NOTE: If you win, we’ll contact you via email. Winners must acknowledge their win and provide a sending address within 7 days of notification or they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen.)

The post WIN: Describe this image in ONE word appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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The 2018 winner of the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction is Liz Allan for Our Voices, Fierce.

Liz receives a $1000 cash prize, a 12-month online subscription to Books + Publishing, and a collection of books.

According to the media release, judge Margot McGovern commented:

Our Voices, Fierce is a haunting story of young women coming into their power. There is such a strong and compelling narrative voice here that captures the clique’s blossoming fierceness, the gossipy parlance of girlhood and the innocence being cast aside.”

Second place was won by Emily Clements for her story Post and third place went to Kristin Hannaford for the piece Quiquiriqui.

Now in its sixth year, the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction is held in honour of of Lip’s founding editor, Rachel Funari, who passed away unexpectedly in 2011.

According to the media release, this year:

“Writers were asked to submit previously unpublished and unperformed fiction up to 2000 words that engages with the theme ‘metamorphosis. As a feminist magazine, Lip aims to nurture, and provide a platform for, feminist voices and stories. As such, the competition was open to all women, female-identifying and non-binary writers.”

Congrats Liz Allan, Emily Clements and Kirstin Hannaford!

You’ll soon be able to read all three stories on lipmag.com.

The post Lip Magazine announces the winner of the 2018 Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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Each week here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we dissect and discuss, contort and retort, ask and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and ridiculousness. It’s a celebration of language, masquerading as a passive-aggressive whinge about words and weirdness. This week we are reeling from discovering that “rail against” and “rally against” are unrelated.

Q: Hi AWC, I read an article recently about an Adelaide council that was going to “rally against the issue of dumped supermarket trolleys”.

A: A worthy cause.

Q: But then this week, another Australian article stated, “Senators rail against live export of donkeys”…

A: Also worthy.

Q: But which is right? Rally or rail?

A: First, well done on delivering two Australian examples – it helps us dispense with the notion that geography has anything to do with it. Let’s start by going back to the 15th century.

Q: Diddly doo. Diddly doo. Diddly doo.

A: What are you doing?

Q: Time travel sound effects.

A: Oh, okay. Continue.

Q: Diddly doo. Diddly doo.

A: Right, so here we are in the mid 1400s. The noun “rail” has been around for a few centuries by this point – as in a beam or straight piece of wood. But then along comes the verb “rail” – meaning “to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation”. It’s likely derived from Latin “ragulare” which means “to bray”.

Q: Bray, like what a donkey would do?

A: Exactly. So, of course you need someone or something to “rail at” or “rail against” – and so we arrive at the phrase.

Q: So if you complain about just one thing, is it a “monorail”?

A: Cute, but no.

Q: Now, what about “rally”?

A: Rally is much younger – arriving in the 1600s, with a few different verb meanings. The one we probably use most today is to gather together for common action. E.g. “they rallied around their leader” or “we should rally to save the hospital”.

Q: Okay.

A: Another common meaning is to recover or bounce back. So the stock market might rally after earlier losses, or a boxer rally to win the fight after looking down and out.

Q: These don’t sound as angry. Are they related to “rail” in any way?

A: No, they come from Old French “rallier” – to join.

Q: Makes sense. So, is anything related to “rail”?

A: There is one surviving verb definition of “rally” that means to mock or ridicule – and it can be traced back to the original scoffing, braying “rail”. But this is a “rally” really rarely used.

Q: Haha. Yes, I’d be more likely to rally in tennis than to mockingly rally someone.

A: We’ve seen you play tennis. There’s plenty to mock.

Q: Oh hardy ha ha.

A: And so we end up with “rail against” and “rally against” that many assume share common lineage, but do not at all. While neither is wrong, they are not interchangeable.

Q: Please explain.

A: “Rail against” is by far the more common phrase. As we already know, it is to complain, denounce or strongly oppose. An individual can do this (e.g. “she railed against the storm”) or a group (e.g. the headline, “US immigrants rail against court order”). And one place you’ll find people railing against things is at a… rally.

Q: I hate English.

A: Haha. So, “rally against” is more literal. It either describes a physical rally (march, protest) taking place or the promise of a call to arms. It’s all about the gathering, which is why we suggest you can’t “rally against” something on your own, but you can “rail”.

Q: So was that first article wrong to say the council was “rallying against the issue of dumped shopping trolleys” when no actual rally was taking place?

A: The story was in the context of them building a campaign, so there is the hint of a public call to arms. If you like, the council was “rallying the troops” rather than simply “railing against” or complaining about the issue. And that’s the important difference.

Q: So to “rally against” is the act of gathering, while to “rail against” is the act of opposing or complaining?

A: That’s a great way to think about it. Consider this example. “We are rallying against the government today, taking to the microphone to rail against the use of chemicals in our drinking water”.

Q: Do you have any more examples?

A: Sure. “Let’s rally against the closure of the hospital, so that we can rail against the decisions being made by the board.” Or “She railed against the closure of the hospital and called on other towns to rally against this alarming trend.”

Q: Wow, I really hope some of those hospitals stay open. Especially with all that dodgy drinking water out there.

A: They were just examples; everyone is fine.

Q: Oh good. So, to recap – it’s all about context. As an individual, you could “rail against” something but it’s not the same as rallying against it.

A: Correct. Now, let’s end this before it goes off the rails.

If you have a grammar gripe or punctuation puzzle that you’d like our Q&A to explore, !

The post Q&A: Rail against vs rally against appeared first on Australian Writers' Centre.

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