Lovin’ & Genre Fiction

I’m not deep into the romance genre but I have to admit all my favourite reads contain aspects of romance – all the way from Homer to Lord of the Rings to the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child.

Here I was thinking all I needed to do was master the art of the chilling clue or the perfect sword thrust when the unavoidable conclusion is that appropriate lovin’ also needs to be attempted.

Homer’s romances were responses to lust or to loyalty; Middle Earth’s  love affairs burned bright, but were seldom spoken of; Jack Reacher enjoys the meeting of physicalities driven by the practical requirements of ‘no baggage’.

One type of romantic interlude does not suit all and I’m hoping that at WriteFest 2016, to be held this year in October, Rachael Johns will be able to give this romance klutz some insights into creating an (appropriately weighted) romantic buzz between characters.

Rachael-Johns-high-resolution-195x220

Rachael Johns

Rachael is an English teacher by trade, a mum,  an arachnophobe and a writer the rest of the time. Her greatest reading loves are for romance and women’s fiction.

She has 15 published books to her name, including both digital first novellas and traditionally published novels. She writes as she reads, in the genres of rural romance, contemporary romance and women’s fiction. 

Rachael has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Writing/English and a Graduate Diploma in secondary education. She teaches high school English and Drama, she has presented a wide variety of workshops, for example, at KSP Writers Centre and the Clare Writers Festival, and now at WRITEFEST.

Check out 2016

Late 2105 release from Queensland Writers Centre:

  • Books from our Backyard – for the fourth year, a catalogue of books published as advised by Queensland authors.
  • Programme, January -June. Check out the online courses. Be aware, if the fees are daunting, grants are available (try RADF [Regional Arts Development Fund] or local councils) for professional development.

 

International Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo

November for writers, well, at least this writer, means NaNoWriMo. The time to go for broke, to put as many words on paper or monitor, or scratch on paperbark, that you can.

(Special note from Editor: Writers don’t have to sign up to be part of NaNoWriMo. All they have to do is write.)

For me, NaNoWriMo started a few days earlier, or rather, the set up did.

Five years ago I began a story, but soon became bored with it. So I started another, and another after that. I had so many characters clamouring for their story to be told, the poor first story slunk into the corner and sucked its thumb, sad and depressed that it had been forgotten.

Had I forgotten it? No, but other stories came before it. I still didn’t have the right idea of where the story needed to go, what twists or turns would it have?

Two NanoWriMos came and went. Entangled Destinies was the product of them.

I knew this year would be my forgotten word child’s turn. I would either finish it or come damn close. I sat down at the keyboard and nutted out fifteen chapters and one Epilogue. Yes, happy with what I’d semi-plotted, I waited for November to begin.

Blueeyed-cat

Cat-ch me if you can

The first day dawned. I found slumber had not come easily to me the night before. Plots and sub plots ran through my mind, giving me some extremely weird dreams where my cat, Pookie, spoke to me. That was it, I had to get the words out, the time had come, but first I had to contend with a day’s work.

Work over, I hurried to my trusty computer, kicked up the gizmo inside that makes it work, and waited, fingers paused over the keyboard, itching to get the words buzzing in my brain out where they belonged.

That first day, I typed 1808 words. Not a lot, but it got me off the mark and it was more than the 1669 required per day. Over the next twenty-five days my word count fluctuated between 549 and 3889. Some days the words didn’t want to come. However, all the headaches, scratchy eyes and frustration ended on the 26th when I completed the 50,000 words.

Is the story finished? Not yet, but it doesn’t need to hide for another year or more. The end is in sight, as long as all characters decide to play nice, and do what I want them to do.

On another note, November also saw me turn another year older and launch my 107,000+ word novel Entangled Destinies at the Gin Gin Courthouse Gallery.

 

Death is Peace. Life is Love

Skulls

 

Beneath the garlanded stamps, invisible if you don’t stop to see, are the skulls. Long dead. Dinosaurs. Witnessed only through the absence they make, catching an eye, so you must stop. And see.

~ Di Esmond

Having just completed a course of Identifying the Dead and currently reading Forensics by Val MDermid, the word ‘skulls’ sent my mind to thoughts of death.

~ Lorraine Heyes

Requiem

The breakers pound against the rocks
‘Neath grassy slopes, white horses play
And I will steer by Southern Star
As shadows lengthen at close of day.

Beyond the dawn of spangled skies,
Through the mists of death’s dark veil
By moonlight I will come to you
On ghostly ship with silver sail.

Without the mists and moods of time
I feel you wait with ice cold breath
And watch me toss on troubled seas
With steel blue eyes in pools of death.

But there’s a time outside of time
Where death is peace and life is love
And though Hades gate should bar the way
Someday my soul will soar above

Mysterious Way of the Spirit

Retablo

Coyote speaks to Mary#3

Virginia Maria Romero’s devotional retablos feature a person with the footprint of a wolf on their throat in one, and a person with a wolf beside them in another. To me they speak of the connection with the land and the animals that we once had, but many have lost.

When I first discovered the retablos my mind linked to the word wolf. Although I soon discovered the animal was a coyote, I felt strongly about the wolf, and so I stayed true to my initial impression of the retablos and wrote Brother Wolf.

~ Laree Chapman

Brother Wolf

We were brothers together, fur and tooth
At home in the red desert sand.
We tracked the prints of truth, of truth
Shared its scent, my brother, my wolf, my wolf

Our slow lope ate the miles away
We bayed as we hunted tomorrow.
We fled the pain of yesterday
And its turquoise tears of sorrow.

But I left the desert, the blood we shared,
For lights and a city’s desires.
Now the trail is cold, the red sand bare
As I scry in the man made fires.

Where was the truth, brother? Where was the truth?
Was it there in the lay of the land?
Or the moments between the heartbeats we shared
And the pulse of the hot red sand?

I know the truth, brother. I know the truth.
Too young to understand
I lost my friend, my brother, my wolf,
For a life in an alien land.
And the ripped blue sky as it tumbles down
Leaves me chilled and trembling still
Yet I find his tracks in the sand ahead
And at midnight I hear his call.

At midnight I hear my brother’s call.
Yes, at midnight I answer his call.

Some people thrive at boarding school. I did not. I felt I had been wrenched from my family, my farm and the animals I loved most, our sheep dogs. To a child once free to roam across thousands of acres alongside two or three dogs, the convent school’s tightly packed dormitories and concrete borders seemed like a jail on foreign soil. I returned home on holidays to find school friends saw me as different to them. They were secure in the knowledge that they would be there forever; I would always be leaving. It left me in a void. And so I had one foot in the past and one foot in the present. But always, my loving sheepdogs were my connection.

On seeing an art work

And then I stop and stare.

There is a painting above the old fireplace. I don’t know what it is but it seems to be something made especially for me. It is a muted landscape and at the top is a shining gold sun. Some of the gold seems to have worn off, giving the sun a distressed look. The sun is poking into the border of the painting, which isn’t framed.

coymoonI stand and stare.

There is a good chance that my mouth is gaping wide open. I’m having trouble breathing and my heart is thumping hugely. I keep standing there staring.

After a while I look around and realize that everyone is nearby too busy eating drinking and talking to pay much attention to me. That’s fortunate because I must look really dumb.
I look away from the painting. I look back. I can’t help it. I seem to need to keep looking at this beautiful thing. I understand it. It is speaking to me. I have no idea what it is saying but still I understand it. This is really stupid, but I can’t stop looking.
I feel someone standing close beside me. I look and it’s Avril.

“You seem to be enjoying the art,” she says.
At first my voice doesn’t work. I close my open mouth and I open it again in an attempt to speak like some demented goldfish. “That painting, it’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it’s only small, but I like it too. It’s made by painting with beeswax, with the color in the wax.”
“Small but perfect. It’s amazing. I need to buy it. How do I buy it?”

This painting could not be expressed in poetry. I have never found that to be the case before. I ventured into the scary (for me) area of prose and plotting and it became the inspiration for a novel. Girl meets boy artist, who is a Las Cruces nice guy over here as part of the exchange — not the actual artist, Susan Hutton, as I have taken some licence with the facts. 

~ Jan Sullivan

 

Blue Sky Talkin’

   #Blueskytalkin'FB copy CRUSH FESTIVAL FINALE

During the final days of CRUSH, club members were privileged to be given an opportunity to stand back and really look at the place we call home.

Thanks to the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, we had our own little part to play in their Wide Bay High Desert II Exhibition, an international exchange project between two countries involving twelve artists responding to the unique culture and landscapes of the Wide Bay in Queensland and the High Deserts of New Mexico.

Club members added an extra dimension with their words, and a little music.

First words to Vance Palmer

Back in the day, one of Australia’s most respected wordsmiths, Vance Palmer, was born (1885) in Bundaberg. He spent his early years here before being educated in small towns across Queensland – his father was a teacher. After that, Vance travelled the world learning his writing craft. He’s known for his poetry and essays, and for his journalism, but wasn’t against writing pot-boilers (eighty-one during a nine month stint in London), serials and music-hall sketches.

He was in France when the First World War broke out, and came back to Queensland. He said of the country: 

Beyond the horizon, or even the knowledge, of the cities along the coast, a great, creative impulse is at work — the only thing, after all, that gives this continent meaning and a guarantee of the future. Every Australian ought to climb up here, once in a way, and glimpse the various, manifold life of which he is a part.

And of Bundaberg:

By night Bundaberg reminds one of a coastal town in the Southern States of America, the wide streets, with their heavy foliaged trees the smell of tropical fruit in the air, the sense of open doors and windows-all these things suggest Carolina.

There is a faint restlessness abroad. Voices echo dimly from shadowy verandas and balconies and there are the thousand little sounds and movements that speak of heat.

So what is it about Bundaberg and the Wide Bay…

Lizard1FB

A curved stick in the middle of the road moves to become a live being. In another time the goanna could have been king on his world without any fear.

Red sand blowing creates new
blue haze laying above the tree tops
sand scraping against itself
leaves rustling into gullies.
The scent of sandy wind meets the aromas of the bush.

~ Jenny Addicoat


RiverFBThe slow, deep, muddy river approaches the city from the west, widening into a respectable, significant waterway traversed by long, important, busy bridges – both rail and road.

It skirts the CBD, refuge for fishing boats and pleasure craft, moving on past the mill – ever-widening as it reaches the port, the large bulk sugar ships and over-crowded marina.

Ever widening, still muddy, on it goes until at last the river merges, disappears, in the vast South Pacific Ocean.

~ Angus Gresham


Coral seaFB
The soft breeze coming off the Coral Sea whispers through the leaves of the majestic she-oaks.

A turtle raises its head and takes a gulp of air, letting out a whoosihng sound that seems to reply to the oaks, and then disappears beneath the clear waters of the Baffle.

It’s calm waters gather momentum as the Baffle reaches out through the estuary mouth and tumbles headlong into the mighty ocean.

~ Lorraine Heyes


Cane green against a blue sky. PalmsFB

Perfect tips flop, carefree in the gentle breeze, and thrash, wilding, in the wind.

I succumb, like an addict, to the freedom it promises.

Skimming. Ducking. Diving. I glide inside my imagination.

I see across the breadth of the earth, feeling the desert heat before the sea envelopes me in its coolness.

~ JenLi

Best writers’ sites on the web?

I’ve found the sites in this round-up all contain at least one helpful tip, idea, observation – most contain many more than one. However, we don’t imagine each site will be universally useful.

We hope you enjoy dipping into them and we hope you find advice you can make use of.


Story Starter: Random opening lines for the clicking. Not that they always make sense, but each one I clicked carried the seed of a story. Rather than an opening line, each could represent a simplified nut graf.


Daily Writing Tips: A favourite site. Free tips on everything writing, from punctuation to style to freelancing. A monthly fee gets you Pro membership.


Babbles from Scott Eagan: Glimpse inside an agent’s head space. Lots of food for thought for writers, including tips on building a social media presence.


United States Copyright Office: If you’re intending to publish in the US, may as well know their rules. Check their FAQs as a starter.


Absolute Write:  Interviews with authors (I like this one with PN Elrod), opinion pieces and all the usual stuff. Notable because of an active forum – more than 60000 writers talking about it and, if possible, answering your questions.

If you have found some favourite sites, comment to share.

Why writers’ festivals are good for you

The following article appeared in WQ, Christmas Edition, 2014. Used with permission.

Don’t Miss out on PLR and ELR

Jacque Duffy

Jacque Duffy

I’m Not Worthy.

One of the earliest writers’ festivals I ever attended was WriteFest in Bundaberg. I left my family in our post-Cyclone Larry shed and caught the train from Innisfail. (Twenty hours, and as any writer worth their salt will tell you, a journey on the Sunlander is a hot bed of story ideas.) Anyway, this isn’t about the train journey, or really about WriteFest; it is about listening to your peers – even if you have placed those peers on pedestals and you don’t recognise them as actual peers.

Back then, I was a five-time self-published – independently published, if you please – author/illustrator and I didn’t know anyone attending the festival. I was there to learn more about the craft and meet like-minded people. I hoped they didn’t ask me too many questions about my writing. I was fully aware of the stigma attached to us ‘selfies’ and quietly felt like the ugly duckling surrounded by some quite beautiful well-known/ famous/I worship the ground you walk on ‘real authors’ with contracts. These ‘real authors’ were actually quite human, conversed like real people and certainly made me feel welcome. In fact, they made me feel like one of them. Generosity must be one of the criteria by which the tutors at WriteFest are selected.

After managing to sidestep most questions about my writing, a zinger came my way

Had I registered my books for PLR and ELR? I had no idea what PLR and ELR were, let alone registered for them. The ‘writing gods’ explained to me PLR was public lending rights and ELR education lending rights. Australian authors could register with the Federal Government’s Lending Rights department to receive ‘missed royalties’ for books that, rather than being sold, were loaned through the public library and education systems.

I thought, That wouldn’t include me, I’m self-published.

YES, it does.

I thought, I’m not like these writers; they’re professional, and I’m not.

YES, I was (surprise, surprise).

I thought I wouldn’t have enough books out there to warrant registering.

YES, I did.

Those published (and registered) authors who had me hanging off their words all weekend told me to go straight home and register.

Did I register as they suggested? NO, I didn’t. Why would I? I wasn’t in their league.

The following year, after another fascinating train journey, I was once again at WriteFest, and once again the subject of PLR and ELR came up. Had I followed advice and received a nice little package from the PLR/ELR people? Well, no, I hadn’t registered. I didn’t want the ‘writing gods’ discovering I was an imposter; I enjoyed playing with the big kids. Evasive manoeuvre 101: change of subject.

Did I go home and register this time? No, I didn’t.

Why?

Because I wasn’t in the same ball park as these talented people.

OK. You get the picture. I am a slow learner. After a third WriteFest and PLR/ELR reminder, I finally registered myself AND all of my books. I mean, who would ever find out that my registration had been rejected or something equally as embarrassing? (They don’t reject registration, by the way.)

Do you have any idea what happened next?

You’re right.

I received a healthy little sum of money at the end of the following financial year. Actually, because I was self-published (and also registered as the publisher), I received two healthy little sums of money. If I had followed advice, if I had listened to my peers, I could have taken my family on a nice holiday.

Now, as your peer I want you to listen to me.

Register yourself and your books for PLR and ELR.

The closing date for the next round is 31 March 2015, for titles published in 2010-14. * (see below)

Tick the boxes to discover if you are eligible:

  • Authors, editors, illustrators, translators and compilers
  • Australian citizens, wherever they reside
  • Non-citizens who normally reside in Australia (eligibility ceases if normal residency in Australia ceases)
  • Creator must also be entitled to receive royalties from the sale of their book
  •  Books written by Australian creators may be eligible even if those books have not been published in Australia
  • Digital-only published books are not eligible.

Don’t miss that closing date: you have NO EXCUSES. I used them all up ages ago.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Lending Rights, arts.gov.au/literature/lending_rightsLogo2015

WriteFest is on again in Bundaberg on 16 May. bundywriters.com

Queensland writer Jacque Duffy has written and illustrated a series of seven books for children, bought by the Queensland Government for use in schools and libraries. Her picture book The Bear Said Please was released by Wombat Books this year and is used in the National Curriculum Grammar Strategies. www.jacquesartandbooks.com www.qwc.asn.au

* In 2011 the scheme changed slightly.

It is now the case that: Titles must be claimed within five years of the date of publication

Books may only be claimed up to five years (60 months) from the date of publication of the first edition and any subsequent edition. Therefore claims submitted for the 2014–15 program must be published between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2013.

In order to remain eligible as a publisher: at least one new work or revised edition (has to have been published) in the preceding three-year period

Current information available here.