Is there a difference between Landscape and Setting?

I think there is.

But what I think doesn’t matter. On May 21, BWC will be hosting T M Clark, a writer born in Zimbabwe, now calling Queensland home (having also lived in England) to help us understand how writers need to be Inspired by Landscape, rather than settle for using setting as an atmospheric backdrop.TMClark

Bookings are Essential through the Queensland Writers Centre.

As you can imagine, setting features strongly in TM Clark’s books, which are described as African Suspense. Some might think Tina Marie is ‘lucky’ to have first hand knowledge of a landscape we Australians probably consider exotic.

One point might be that we are all living our own exotic lifestyles. We just don’t notice any more.

The other point might be that Landscape is much more than a location, exotic or otherwise. Landscape isn’t a relief painted with broad brushstrokes. It’s not an accessory. It is the living world your characters find themselves in.

Elizabeth George, American Queen of Crime, a writer of mysteries set in England (you might know the Lynley Mysteries), has this to say in her book, Write Away.

On the surface, it would appear that landscape and setting are the same creatures, identical twins given different names just to confuse the beginning writer. This, however, would not be the truth since setting is where a story takes place–including where each scene takes place–while landscape is much broader than that…Landscape in writing implies much the same as that which is implied by the word when it’s used to refer to a location in a country: It is the broad vista into which the writer actually places the individual settings of the novel, sort of like the canvas or other medium onto which a painter has decided to daub color.

“You need to think about the landscape of your book because if you’re able to make the landscape of place real, you can make the land itself real, which gives you a leg up on making the entire novel real for the reader.”

If you want TM Clark’s take on the Inspiration Landscape can lend to your latest MS, make sure to book early.


It’s All Good for Today’s Authors

Which ever way you intend to publish –Justin_Sheedy
Whether e-books have peaked and readers really are re-committing to paper –

No matter what your publishing route, it’s all good news for today’s author.  The reading world is your oyster, assuming you have the tools to crack it.

Meet Justin Sheedy.

He knows his oysters, and he’s either built, borrowed or taught himself the tools he needs to get his words out to the world.

As he says, ‘I’ve gone solo, and am still flapping my wings.’ As publishing models continue to change, he’ll have to keep flapping, and we’ll all be there with him.

Justin’s wing flapping has seen him host six sell-out book-signings during 2015, including his last for the year at Dymocks George Street, Sydney (arguably Australia’s Premier Bookstore) with more event planning underway in 2016.

His first book, Goodbye Crackernight (2009), failed to interest publishers – it’s a memoir – yet Justin continues to secure feature spots in broadcast media, most recently  on 7 News Sydney and Radio 2UE.

He’s currently 60% through his fifth book, No Greater Love, Part Three of an Australian historical fiction trilogy begun in 2012 with Nor the Years Condemn, followed by Ghosts of Empire (2013).

He’ll share what he’s learnt at WriteFest 2016

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

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.


A short story about how to win

It’s the easiest thing in the world to write a bad short story. You could:

  1. fail to read short stories (eg., collections like Nam Le: The Boat, Cate Kennedy: Like a House on Fire)
  2. write like it was 1964 (Writing has changed since then and competitions are being won everyday by people who are writing like it’s 2015.)
  3. colour your prose purple (Most writers exercise a little purple in the beginning, but practice polishes the melodrama out.)
  4. narrate a Series of Loosely Connected Events (apologies to Lemony Snicket)
  5. believe an excess of poetic language equals fine writing (It doesn’t. It may equal poetry.)
  6. write a story longer than the space it must fit, then hack off the ending. (Think Cinderella’s big sister cutting off her toes to better fit into the slipper – and still failing.)
  7. believe that, because you’re retelling a true event,  you don’t have to write it like a story. (Life is stranger than fiction. Make us believe. Make us Suspend our Disbelief.)
  8. write a story just like everybody else’s story. (This only counts if you’ve nothing new to say.)
  9. tell yourself stories don’t have to say anything special. (Stories are a communication between writer and reader. If the writer has nothing to say, why should a reader care to listen.)
  10. cut a slab out of the middle of your novel. (Short stories and novels are generally very different stylistically. For one thing, short story prose has to be tight, concise, efficient. Novelists can be more expansive when writing.)

If you want to win:

  • Come up with a cracker of an idea.

Aiming to use perfect prose to express a fresh idea will secure a writer a good chance of a win, but if you can’t manage both, remember: more people have been successful with a fresh idea and fairly ordinary prose than have won with an uninspiring story impeccably written.

  • Create three dimensional characters.

Readers must believe in your characters in order to care what happens to them. Give them flaws and weaknesses. Give them something to fight for.  Don’t be afraid to let your characters speak. In fact, encourage it.

  • Remember to create a setting.

Seems obvious, I know, but so many characters float through the story world like a ghost, neither touching nor being touched by their surroundings. Even if the story is happening in the ubiquitous kitchen, give us a glimpse of the red range, the swing in the back yard, etc.

  • Begin where it counts.

Where does it count? In medias res (in the middle of things) is when.
When he throws the knife. When she opens the Christmas card. When she pulls on her clown outfit for the first time. When he learns to tap dance.
You don’t have enough words in a short story to waste them on an introduction.

  • End when it stops counting.

Usually the beginning will help you work out when the story is finished. If he threw the knife to protect himself, then the story ends when he’s safe. If the Christmas Card makes her cry, then the story might end when she’s happy again. That clown suit she was pulling on, the story ends when we find out whether it was a good idea, or not. And the tap dancing – ask Billy Elliot – that story might end when mum and dad realise he can dance better than he can kick a goal.

Some things to avoid (or at least consider carefully) when writing a short story

  1. warmed over ideas
  2. characters with nothing to lose
  3. introductions
  4. stereotypes and cliches
  5. more than one point of view character
  6. dialogue that sounds mechanical
  7. It was a dream endings
  8. a plethora of pulchritudinous, perfectly purple pronouncements
  9. forgetting to include a plot

Download an entry form. Competition closing March 2016

International Novel Writing Month


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.


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.


Opportunity for Queensland’s rural and regional writers

QHMPQueensland Writers Centre (QWC) and Hachette Australia have announced a new program aimed at rural and regional Q’landia writers – the Queensland Hachette Mentoring Program.

Now, if you wondering who is rural and regional covers, it’s any writer NOT living in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, Redlands, the Scenic Rim, Somerset, Sunshine Coast or Toowoomba.

Those areas are considered part of South East Queensland, as defined by the Queensland Department of Infrastructure, local Government and Planning.

Writers accepted will have the opportunity to work closely with a leading industry expert and major publishing house, to receive professional feedback on a manuscript, and to bring it to publication standard.  Check Queensland Writers Centre for full application details.

APPLICATION  DEADLINES 2015 5:00pm Monday 30 November
Recipient notified: January 2016

This is the real world people. Applications had better be in their hands by November 30, or you’ll have missed out.

Oh, and in case all you bush babies are wondering, submission to QHMP is free.


Simsion GIt’s safe to say, I think, that screen writing is different from novel writing in one manifest aspect: A screen writer has to begin by being a master of ‘show, don’t tell’; a novelist may be able to fake mastery until they grow into it.
The path to story mastery lies this way.

Write Note Reviews

Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, is a writer of screenplays, short stories, novels and a couple of short plays, an occasional producer of films (primarily those for which he is screenwriter), and husband of writer Anne Buist. The father-of-two is a former IT specialist (data modeling) and founder of a business and IT consultancy. He once once gave a conference presentation dressed as a duck, has walked the Chemin de St Jacques/Camino de Santiago/Way of St James (a 2000 km trip from Tramayes, France to Santiago) with his wife, and played harmonica with a band. For more interesting facts, visit his website, or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Monique: What prompted your move into writing fiction?

Graeme: I was inspired by Joe Queenan’s book The Unkindest Cut to make a low-budget feature-length movie (shot on a handycam). I was in my…

View original post 1,712 more words

Prep for Workshops

How to Get the best out of your workshop.Writingdownthebones

1. Make sure the workshop will suit you. Many workshops are aimed at beginner writers but some are more advanced. If you’re at all concerned about your skill level, contact the course organiser.

2. Arrive on time. If you can’t help but be late, enter the room as quietly as possible.
3. Come equipped with your favourite writing tool.
4. If you wish to record the session make sure you ask the presenter.
5. If you have any specific needs let your tutor know. If you have hearing problems, forgot your glasses, have a sore throat and can’t speak up – whatever it is – let your tutor know.
6. Remember, everybody’s nervous. Don’t be afraid to join in.
7. Expect anything. Writing exercises can sometimes seem unusual. Nobody expects perfection.
8. Remember you’re there to learn what tutor have learned from their own writing experiences. Ask questions, but try to avoid arguing points of philosophy. Each writer is different.
9. Make sure you understand when is the best time to ask questions.
10. Even if notes are given out, remember to take your own.
11. If you’re popping out for a one on one with an agent or an editor, make sure your tutor knows in advance.
12. Be prepared to make friends, be tested and have fun.
13. A couple of days after the workshop go through your notes and flesh them out a little. This gives time for you to fully absorb the experience, and ensures you deal with your notes while you remember the workshop clearly.

Jason Nahrung: One foot on the bitumen…


Jason Nahrung grew up on a Queensland cattle property and now lives in Ballarat with his wife, writer Kirstyn McDermott. Jason works as an editor and journalist to support his travel addiction. His fiction is invariably darkly themed, perhaps reflecting his passion for classic B-grade horror films and ’80s goth rock. He has an MA in creative writing from QUT and is in his first year of a PhD in creative writing at The University of Queensland. His most recent long fiction title is the Gothic tale Salvage (Twelfth Planet Press), with his outback vampire duology Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke due out later this year with Clan Destine Press. Read it first: Pre-release Taste Test Teaser for vampires in The Big Smoke here.

 Mouse: You’re country born and bred, from Queensland originally. Spent time in Melbourne, currently studying in Brisbane.

Jason: I am indeed in Brisbane at the moment, tackling the opening stages of a PhD at The University of Queensland – the creative work will use Brissie as a case study in a near future of climate change.

M: I could say something political here, but I’ll resist the temptation and go on to an obvious question instead. What took you to town in the first place?

J: One of my strongest childhood memories of Brisbane city is the stink of it: the raw, choking stench of the air as I walked up Wickham Terrace. It was a hard, grey place, crowded and loud. I never imagined living there. And yet I did, because life is like that. It took a while, but the air did not stink as it had (most days), and it was not as hard as I’d imagined. Adaptation in action. From a cattle property and a one-teacher school, to Maryborough and a high school of 600-odd kids, to university in Rockhampton (leafy, quiet, not crowded), then working in the ‘Borough, and back to Rocky, then finally to Brissie to answer the lure of culture and entertainment on a grand scale – and specifically subculture (not that you couldn’t be bashed for wearing black, mind you, but I never had any hassles). Then to Melbourne (for lurve, baby) and recently to Ballarat (for the property prices, but it has turned out to be much more than that). It is much easier to downscale: fewer roads; less traffic; easier, cheaper parking. Enough restaurants and theatres. The Big Smoke, spires in the murk on the horizon, is close enough we don’t have to go without.

M: Wait a minute. Culture took you to Brisbane. Love took you to Melbourne. Then Property prices… Maybe it’s my imagination, but does this have all the ingredients of a Once Upon a Time story – the goat herd who accepted a quest, saved a princess then built a country house/castle – in Ballarat.

Available now: .Salvage brilliantly fuses the sensitivities of mainstream fiction with the sense-of-wonder spinal chill of the genre : Jack Dann

Available now:
Salvage brilliantly fuses the sensitivities of mainstream fiction with the sense-of-wonder spinal chill of the genre
: Jack Dann

J: No Princesses were saved in the making of this fairy tale! When I look back at the shifts in my life, I suspect I’ve been the one rescued from the ‘Tower’ by strong, independent heroines. [Tweet this!] You know, there’s a saying that wherever you go, there you are, but it’s also true that where you are changes you: it either opens you up or closes you down, maybe both in different ways. I was running to, not from, I think; an explorer, not a refugee; one of my biggest regrets is not being able to be a farmer. To be honest, I’m still not sure what I am, but it has been shaped by all these places. The things I remember most about the places I’ve lived are the friends I made there, even the ones I left behind: the ties that unwound as well as the ones that stayed. I know what they’ve given me; I’ve got no idea what I’ve given them, other than bad puns.

M: I’d like to think our roots give us certain advantages. My bias is showing, I know, but do you see any advantage in having a background in the bush, any way a rural writer can value add.

J:Are country folk – outsiders – any better at cutting through the artifice and distraction of the urban environment, of balancing virtue against vice?

M: Maybe. More than one novel’s been built around that idea. There was a time when country meant vice and city meant virtue. But I think all writers need to find an edge to sharpen. A point of difference. Do your country roots give you any edge?

J: When I was a kid, the city was vice and the country virtue – it’s one of the Australian myths, isn’t it, that the ‘real’ Australia is in the outback (or on the beach). As it happens, I was back in the country last week, a get together of the rural community in which I grew up, one district removed. An old school mate said I hadn’t changed, for all my gallivanting. That axiom of not being able to take the country out of the boy, I suspect. I don’t know if he was right. Seems (has always seemed, since high school at the least) I’ve got one foot on the bitumen, the other in the dirt: Janus in the rural-urban divide? It’s probably not an accident that my vampire duology (Out Soon: Mouse) is called Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke. Maybe that’s where my value-adding is to be found.

M: You’re chatting about Horror at WriteFest, and I know you like shades of black. I could rather brusquely label you as Goth. Would that be fair? Or do you just have trouble with light.

J: LOL It’s true I’m not a big fan of sunlight, and the feeling’s mutual, and I certainly have a Gothic sensibility, although the days of black hair dye and eyeliner are probably over. The music collection and t-shirt drawer, and the gargoyles in the front yard, would lend the label some credence, too!

M: Your school mate said you hadn’t changed. So you’ve worn black for a long time. How did that play out for you?

J: Strangely enough, it is storytelling that has helped me fit in. In the bush, as a kid, being able to string a sentence together (without being a smartarse) was actually appreciated. My parents’ generation didn’t get much schooling, after all; my folks sacrificed to make sure I got the opportunity they hadn’t. Just the other day I got a Facebook message from a high school classmate reminding me of the (what we now call flash fiction) stories I wrote in typing class (learning touch typing: best thing ever) and passed around. The outsider from the bush found his place through academic achievement and participation (and dodging bullies – they know when you’re alone). I was certainly different to the city kids who’d come up through the same primary schools together and were talking (and not just talking) sex and music and exercising clique politics. Uni was similar: playing Dungeons & Dragons (communal storytelling) and discovering literature and developing a personal taste in music, exploring writing (but curiously not literature, I don’t know why I didn’t take lit classes).

 M. So dark doesn’t have to mean dastardly.

J: Certainly not. It was the music that led me to black – Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie, The Cult, The Cure, et al. From there to the Gothic community, largely non-existent in Rockhampton where I was working at the time. Wearing all black was a good way to cop a shoulder in the local pub, even though I kept it toned down – it’s a blue jeans kind of town. I used to wipe off the nail polish before leaving Brisbane, where I’d trawl for music and lurk in the shadows at the Goth clubs on weekends away.

Where you are changes you: it either opens you up or closes you down, maybe both in different ways.

I really don’t understand why people find a threat in black, or punk, or whatever – some sense of the unknown or the Other, I guess; constrained minds struggling to deal with something not like them, insecurities manifesting in aggression or dismissal. Which is what we try to address in our literature, isn’t it? Break down barriers, fight the lowest common denominator, explore, empathise, challenge the majority in the name of the minority. The black I wear at work is different to the black I wear at home or when I go out; that’s my concession to a company preference for professional attire. I’ve not noticed any negative feedback – my workmates in Brisbane used to call me the Black Knight, which I quite enjoyed! – but then, I guess boy writers are almost expected to wear black, aren’t they? Stoopid stereotypes.

M: Languishing in Attics – in Paris, not Ballarat. Moody. Brooding.  Vulnerable. What’s not to love about boy writers.

J: I really need to polish up my absinthe-drinking skills, don’t I? It was when I embraced writing as a serious interest (in Brisbane, through the Vision writers group) that I found a community in which I felt comfortable. I certainly feel different to the mainstream, if we can pinpoint that, because of my role in the creative industries – it’s not nine to five, bank managers hate me, it feels under-appreciated in our culture whose values and priorities increasingly puzzle, frustrate and disappoint me (I am not the ultra-conservative country kid I once was). There is an uncomfortable friction between art and business and the expectations of reward from both. Many of my most valued friends are creative types now; it’s a wonderfully supporting and welcoming community. Read More