Counting down to WriteFest

Only a brief twinkle in time before this year’s WriteFest is upon us, and I have to say, this year it will be a step beyond what the club alone has been able to bring you.

WriteFest is the same friendly space at CQU for writers to meet with peers and chat to successful Australian authors, and with publishers and editors.

And rather than simply hoping some of those hard earned skills and insights will rub off, the workshops ensure WriteFestians leave with a bounty of  practical information, as well as a few handy tips (and maybe, tricks).

So you see, nothing’s changed. It’s just, like Topsy, WriteFest has grown.

With Creative Regions throwing its  administrative might behind the festival’s organisation (don’t worry – presenters have been invited in consultation with Bundaberg Writers Club), workshops now stretch over a full weekend, including two Masterclasses – The Art of Story and Creating Rounded Characters, both on Sunday, October 8 at CQU. The Masterclasses are, as usual, an all day event.

As an invitation to the Bundaberg community, writing related events feature before and after the festival, and Arnold Zable, human rights advocate and acclaimed writer of stories, large and small, will present a keynote addressThe Power of Story to open 2017’s expanded WriteFest.

Bookings are online but as usual you can pay on the day. Maybe sure you check out the schedule online first though. Morning and afternoon tea are provided, but if you’re there for the whole day you might like to book something from Alowishus Delicious (through the online booking page) to be delivered to you at CQU.

What’s this about booking with Alowishus for lunch?

In the past you’ve had to book for a whole day. The good thing is now you can book by the half day – perhaps mix and match a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning session. So we’re not providing lunch as usual, though morning and afternoon tea will be provided as usual.

Writefest this year is a bit like having a big bowl full of delicious tidbits to choose from, and finding you can have the whole lot, if you want.

See you at WriteFest.

 

 

 

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10,000 reasons to write crime

2015-Scarlet-Stiletto-wniner-T-J-Hamilton-copy

T J Hamilton, Cop turned crime writer

23rd Scarlet Stiletto Awards Crime Short Story Competition

now open – closes 31 July 2016

(one month early)

Record $10,000 on offer  

Stories must have a crime or mystery theme, a female protagonist and a female author.

Text Publishing, winner of the Australian Book Industry Awards Small Publisher of the Year 2012, 2013 and 2014, is sponsoring the $1500 first prize in this, the 23rd Scarlet Stiletto Awards, Sisters in Crime Australia’s annual short story competition.

“For more than two decades the Scarlet Stiletto Awards have played an unparalleled role in discovering and nurturing Australian women crime writers. One of Text’s authors, Angela Savage, won 3rd prize in 1998 and in 2004 went on to win the Victorian Premier’s Award for An Unpublished Manuscript for a novel featuring the same sleuth. Text then published the book as Behind the Night Bazaar and two more in the Jayne Keeley series,” Publisher Michael Hayward said, adding that Text Publishing was honoured to support women’s literary talent of the criminal bent.

“Crime has been a staple of our publishing program from our earliest days. This year, for instance, we’re proud to be publishing the second books in crime series by Anne Buist and Sue Williams.”

National Co-convenor, Michaela Lobb, said Sisters in Crime was thrilled with this top level support.

Simon & Schuster  (publishing crime writers like Ann Turner, Sara Foster and 2007 Scarlet Stiletto Award winner Aoife Clifford) will sponsor the $1000 second prize. Every Cloud Productions,  producer of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, is offering a new award for the best mystery with history story ($750).

 

The climax of Sisters in Crime’s 25th anniversary convention, SheKilda3: One Day Crime Spree, at St Kilda Town on 19 November will be this year’s Scarlet Stiletto Awards. To mark the special occasion, a Silver Stiletto Award will be presented.

Sponsored by Kerry Greenwood, a founding member of Sisters in Crime, the Silver Stiletto will be open to previous shoe (1st prize) winners.

Five authors have won the Scarlet Stiletto Award twice – Cate Kennedy, Christina Lee, Roxxy Bent, Janis Spehr and Josephine Pennicott – so the Silver Stiletto Award is open to only 17 writers. Only Cate Kennedy has won a matching pair of stilettos.

The full list of awards includes:

  • The Text Publishing Award: 1st Prize: $1500
  • The Simon & Schuster Award: 2nd prize: $1000
  • The Sun Bookshop Award: 3rd Prize: $500
  • Allen & Unwin Award for Best Young Writer (under 18): $500
  • Silver Stiletto Award: $1000
  • The Athenaeum Library ‘Body in the Library’ Award : $1000 ($500 runner-up)
  • The Every Cloud Award for Best Mystery with History Story: $750
  • Kerry Greenwood Award for Best Malice Domestic Story: $750
  • HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Romantic Suspense Story: $500
  • Scarlet Stiletto Award for Best Environmental Crime Story: $500
  • Scarlet Stiletto Award for Best Financial Crime Story: $500
  • Clan Destine Press Award for Best Cross-genre Story: $400
  • Liz Navratil Award for Best Story with a Disabled Protagonist Award: $400
  • Scriptworks Award for a Great Film Idea: $200

To date, 2,926 stories have been entered with 21 Scarlet Stiletto Award winners –including category winners – going on to have novels published: Cate Kennedy, Tara Moss, Annie Hauxwell, Angela Savage, Josephine Pennicott, Ellie Marney, Sarah Evans, Inga Simpson, Alex Palmer, Liz Filleul, Margaret Bevege, Patricia Bernard, Bronwen Blake, Jo McGahey, Cheryl Jorgensen, Kylie Fox, Simmone Howell, Emilie Collyer, Sandi Wallace, Aoife Clifford and Amanda Wrangles.

 

Three collections of winning stories have been published by Clan Destine Press: Scarlet Stiletto: The First CutScarlet Stiletto: The Second Cut and Scarlet Stiletto Short Stories: 2013 (ebook). http://clandestinepress.com.au/

Closing date for the awards is 31 July 2015. Entry fee is $15 (Sisters in Crime members) or $20 (others). Maximum length is 5000 words.

Click here to pay entry fee: https://scarlet-stiletto-competition-entry-2016.eventbrite.com

Click here to download entry form: Scarlet Stiletto 2016

Click here for FAQs: Scarlet Stiletto Awards FAQs

Competition Winners Announced.

Thank you to everyone who submitted to this, our last short story competition for a little while. Although the competition has been especially successful, in our view, the club has decided to change focus for a couple of years to better service the needs of members.

Winner

Janice Williams for Tough Guy. Tough Guy

Janice describes the story as a ‘combination of working dog stories I have heard, and a recognition of the serious problem farmers face with depression.’

Judge’s Comment: Tough Guy is a gentle and moving story exploring the important and topical issue of depression rates amoung Australian farmers . It is well written with heart and humour, and a distinctively Australian voice. It builds powerful moments of drama through subtle characterisations and intimate moments.

Runner Up

Susan Bennett for Butterflies and Roses

Judge’s Comment: Butterflies and Roses has a sophisticated structure and delivers a great twist. Through clever writing and characterisation, it offers beautiful and unexpected insights on life and love.

Special Mention

Cameron England for  Close Contact

Judge’s Comment: Close Contact deals with compelling themes of climate change and isolation through excellent world-building. The dystiopian imagery and depth of characterisation are handled well through clear writing and subtle pacing, ending in a moment of high drama.

Short listed:

  • Mark Fowler Larrikin
  • John Pittmann Blame the Pink Umbrella
  • Carmel Lillis Submitted
  • Naomi Currie Honey Eater
  • Melanie Napthine Escape Artist

Meg Vann said: The standard of (short listed) stories overall was excellent. Each and every story offers terrific writing, characterisation and drama. The stories focussed on intriguing and topical themes, and all showed a sophisticated understanding of craft, using a high level of imagination and expression to create excellent narrative interest. It was very difficult to select the winners. I encourage all writers involved to keep honing their craft and sibmitting their stories to markets

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.

Thoughts from the Back of the Room ~ Writing Tips We Love

A series of notes from Club Members:

Angus Gresham wrote for many years before becoming a club member. Since then he’s passed through many stages of learning, including having to reframe what he thought was ‘only commonsense’.
Writing is something everybody does, but all wannabe authors need to learn how writers do it differently, often alone and sometimes in the middle of creative chaos.

Angus Gresham

During my five years membership of BWC I attended various workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials – all directed at improving one’s writing skills. I would hang on every word from the presenters and furiously scribble down copious notes – every word uttered seemed so important at the time; I couldn’t risk missing out on any of the gems of wisdom raining down. My notes were taken home, carefully filed and then largely forgotten. As a result a huge, unwieldy and somewhat illegible pile of papers accumulated.

Angus GreshamFinally I decided to do something about it. I pored over the years of note-taking in an attempt to determine what was worth rescuing. Some valuable writing tips were discovered among the mountains of more or less irrelevant scrawlings. Quite a few tips (the better ones) had been repeated over and over by various presenters. Some advice completely contradicted other advice.

The following is a sample of what I found useful. There has been no attempt to list in order of importance. For some people all the information provided may be of equal importance; others will find only some of the tips helpful.

**********

  • Don’t write unless you like doing it for its own sake. It would be great to be published and make lots of money, but if money is the primary focus, you won’t find writing enjoyable.
  • Read a lot, particularly in your chosen genre. When you read a good book, analyse what you like about it, and determine how you can use its positive elements in your own book.
  • Make notes, and plan months ahead of when you actually start the book.
  • You can use a working title which can be changed by you or your publisher at a later date.
  • One should only write for oneself, or for strangers; never for a set audience or family.
  • You’ve got to be happy with what you write. Do numerous drafts if necessary. Edit as much as you like.
  • First paragraph is crucial. You must hook readers from the very beginning. The real meaning of the first paragraph can be explained over the rest of the book. Conflict should start on page one.
  • End each chapter with a little bit of mystery, or even some excitement. This will ensure the reader keeps on reading to see what happens next.
  • Do emotions first, and structure last. You must feel compassion with, and become a part of, the characters. The reader should be able to identify with the characters and become emotionally engaged. Readers have to care about the characters – but they don’t necessarily have to like them.
  • Be aware of pace. Keep the pace moving. Delete all (or most) adverbs in your draft. This allows the story to flow much faster thus maintaining reader interest.
  • It’s OK to have short paragraphs; they give the reader breathing space. It’s OK to have short chapters; they give the reader a break.
  • Use internet research. It is much quicker than traditional library research. It may not be 100% accurate, but most of your readers are not experts on the subject you are writing about. The overriding importance is to tell a good, but believable, story. Wikipedia has a great overview on any topic.
  • Use your professional knowledge and life experience in your writing. Write about what you know. This saves having to do a lot of research.
  • Put your story away for a couple of months and then read it as if it’s someone else’s work. Does the story grab your attention and hold it through-out?
  • Read your story aloud. This will reveal any longwinded or awkward sentences.

Finally, you have to work out the system that works best for you.

 

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