19 Sep 2014
As you sit and wait for fellow attendees, as they leave their private writing space, it is like watching bears emerging from hibernation – each rubbing their eyes, their ruffled hair belying their exasperation, their skin pasty white from being inside for too long. Okay, so now I am being silly – but you catch my drift.
I was in the fortunate position of creating a writer’s group, from scratch, and one that appealed to my innate need for human contact, not necessarily contact with more words! It has worked wonderfully and I am so proud of the diverse group of writers who attend and the intensely satisfying conversation emerging month in, month out. It was started with a series of author events coinciding with a state based celebration of writers and simply took off from there. In only its third year, we have a history of events, a collection of short stories and a wildly creative progressive story in production right now.
It hinges on some very simple fundamentals.
- Ask not what your writers’ group can do for you, but what you can do for your writers’ group.
Those participants who are ‘getting’ the most out of the group bring ‘gifts’ each month. They share their thoughts, their found information, their skills and their experience. This has meant the group has proven to be very dynamic. In the first year, we talked industry experience – what happens away from your desk. In the second year, we were improving our own skills and this year, members are presenting specific workshops, free of charge, based on their particular skill-set as well as happily organising a writers festival!
- Be prepared to be generous.
You have found out information about a certain competition or a publisher has opened its door to unsolicited submissions. Then share the information! There is no point waiting until the group gives it to you on a platter once a month at the meeting… Our group has a Dropbox account (yep, in the ‘cloud’) and it supports folders on topics like ‘Competitions and Opportunities’. The idea is if anyone trips over a news release or information, they can pop it in there for everyone in our group to see. Additionally, there is a website where members can ask for help / post information or tips and of course, bringing content to meetings is a must.
- It is up to you.
Sometimes, actually, often, it is simply not possible to participate in activities because the rest of life is just too busy. As I mentioned above, in the last three years, we have had a week of events, a collection of short stories and now a progressive story. This is as well as our monthly meetings. If you can participate, do. If you want something particular to happen, suggest it by way of leading the charge!
If you can’t participate, don’t knock yourself out, as hopefully your group will be meeting next month, (and the next, and the next!) Remember though, it will continue only if it has your support, so at the outside, our members at least reply to invitations or communications just to show they are still there!
For me personally, I have been absent all year – yet I delight in the progress of the writers festival, the changing venues, the dialogue – I feel as though I am still part of it all!
- Be flexible
As I said in the introduction, our group is dynamic, not just the participants, but also the current focus. This means making suggestions, actively participating with enthusiasm and being prepared to lead a little. For example, at one meeting, a new member wanted to have her work read and appraised. She offered to barter time with others who wanted the same. This was the first time there was focus on this sort of activity.
- Be there, be present!
If you are watching your clock or wishing you were someone else, you probably should have reconsidered even attending at all! Our members really do give over to the process, and I have had the wonderful experience of watching serious novelists doing blind contour drawing, of the tech-phobic embrace WordPress, of cover designs evolving from the ashes, an embrace of social media…
And as to the simple joy of being part of a group, well, there is no doubt you certainly will learn something, will grow as a writer and have a lovely time with real people doing so!
17 Sep 2014
A non-stop, action-filled epic of sailing and exploration in the intriguing time of the Phoenicians. A time when ships were at the mercy of the winds, and men were at the mercy of kings. A tale that explores the truth of where lies the fabled mountains and wide river that gave up its treasures for King Solomon’s temple of gold.
Wow, did our writers’s web reviewers enjoy King Solomon’s Pilot, or what? Here’s what they had to say about this work of historical fiction:
“It did not take me long to become immersed in King Solomon’s Pilot and I found that the story flowed really well and was very descriptive. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I thoroughly got into the story and liked the way Jerry blended fiction and historical facts. The title, cover and ‘type’ of story is not something I would normally choose. I’m glad I did as was very pleasantly surprised.
The story had sections in it where I was drawn to continue reading ‘to see what happens next’ so I did find the ending to be a little flat.This story lends itself to a sequel. I will look for the other books by Jerry Richert as his style of writing is engaging and would like to read more.” Rensina van den Heuvel
“King Solomon’s Pilot is a story of action and adventure with a thread of romance set in 962 BC in north western Africa. The story follows the life of Hallam from the time he encounters Philippa, the king’s niece. Both have their life courses set by the culture of the time but they rebel against that in order to be together. The consequences of their individual rebellions lead them into many adventures. The story is developed very well with smooth cohesion of both story line and characters.
The story begins with the first encounter between Hallam and Philippa. Information about Hallam’s life up until then is communicated in setting up the incident. As a result of that meeting, his life changes completely and his character is further developed as he responds to a new environment and role as well as his attachment to a woman who is from a world that is alien to him. As various extreme situations are forced upon Hallam, his character continues to develop and the reader is given an in depth understanding of him. There are many other characters introduced but this is done in a way that is seen as necessary to the story and not at all confusing.
The story is written in third person with a lot of direct speech. It is quite long which gives the opportunity to fully develop both the characters and the various settings. Quite complex political situations are incorporated into the story but I was able to keep them clear as I read. There were some fairly graphic passages but they were in the context of the setting.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and am in awe of the amount of research needed to produce this story. I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys an historical story of adventure, action and romance.” Sharyn Macdonald
Author, Jerry Richert (right) has a fascinating and colourful life which started in Johannesburg then ventured to Zimbabwe, Monaco, Britain, Canada, Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand and finally Australia.
What he’s done over his life to date makes a fascinating read in itself over here at his author’s profile.
A self-confessed failure at school, Jerry started writing twenty-five years ago, when with the Flying Doctor Service, doing a novel course with Stotts then buying every book he could find on the subject. Now with more time and a wealth of life experience behind him, his passion is building once more. He says: “Writing is the new horizon; a way to adventure once more without the unpleasant or risky bits.”
King Solomon’s Pilot is now available in the bookstore as a hardcopy book.
13 Sep 2014
When I launched Master of Illusion – Book One last year, I really had no idea of its likely reception: good, bad, or worst fear of all: being ignored. And, on entering awards at the suggestion of my editor, I had no expectations, other than those of promotion and perhaps(crossed fingers), a positive review. How grateful I am that the Global judges considered my debut novel worthy of silver: the highlight of my life!
My first reaction was stunned amazement, unable to take in the ‘hugeness’ of it. My second was profound relief: I had been validated as an author. (I know authors don’t need awards to be validated, but try telling yourself that when you’re a self-publisher!) Currently, I am still pinching myself and rereading the email to help me believe it. ‘Award winning author’: Three little words, but how they resound!
At a time when spinal arthritis has severely curtailed my other passion of working with my beautiful horses and Brangus cattle, the gift of writing has eased my regret. This award has been the silver crown on a fantastic new life of adventure; of never knowing where my characters are going to take me; and all without leaving my chair. As the Master would say: ‘Formidable!‘ And the best part is: it isn’t over yet.
I would like to thank Dan Poynter for his vision in founding the Global Ebook Awards, his judges for their time and dedication; and Writers’ Web for their support of authors. As award winning author, Anne Rouen, I am, most definitely, living my dream.
My favourite mantra: Never give up the search for that perfect word or phrase to paint the most vivid picture possible for your readers. Because you truly do not know what you can do until you try.
(Lyn Newberry writes as Anne Rouen and on behalf of the team at writers’ web – congratulations x Find your copy of Master of Illusion here today!)
11 Sep 2014
As of September 2014, writers’ web won’t be taking on any new writers as we’re playing catch-up.
Right now we have a backlog of works from emerging Australian writers for our review panel to read. They are busy with their reviews that authors can then use in marketing their self-published or otherwise-published books or manuscripts.
We’re proud that a few of our writers have been offered publishing contracts and that writer’s web has had a role in their success.
Our readers will also be busy taking a look at the material from our Write Around Queensland project which gathered 1,000 word submissions from writers in writers’ groups around the state. The Queensland Society of Editors then worked with the writers to fine tune their work. The result is two eBooks to be released in December 2014 – In The Raw and The Final Draft.
If you have any queries, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
09 Sep 2014
When you can’t do what everyone else can do, you get sad. Kanga couldn’t be like a real kangaroo and jump. His mother was worried about it, too. Kanga was always the jump rather than the jumper when his friends played Leap Roo. He just wanted to be like all the other kangaroos.
As one of the writers’ web reviewers says, “ If you have youngsters needing to overcome an obstacle, this is a good, uplifting read.”
Here is what the writers’ web review panel thought about this picture book for 1-6 year olds:
“Kanga Can’t Jump is a great children’s story about (you guessed it) a kangaroo who is unable to jump and feels sad that he can’t keep up with his friends. It is a charming story, well-written and edited, and my 6-year old enjoyed me reading it to her. It flows very well, with the problem identified, something unexpected in the middle, and a satisfying ending. If you have youngsters needing to overcome an obstacle, this is a good, uplifting read.
I would recommend this book to youngsters from around 4 – 8. Best wishes to the author. We’d be keen to read more of her work. A free ebook was provided for review, thank you.” Kasper Beaumont
“I enjoyed this story immensely. When reading this book, I loved how the characters were portrayed through their personality, e.g: how the mother worried over her child’s misery and how she supported her son even though he could not leap. The people who would like this book are people who want to read a short story that is entertaining and very understandable. Also, I liked how the images corresponding with the text.” Caitlin Shore.
“Plays on the theme of how it feels when you are different to others, and a possible strategy to cope with a difficult circumstance. Kanga is given a chance to find his own way with help from an unusual friend. What would you do if you could not jump and everyone else could? For sharing with younger readers while more confident readers could read themselves.” Dyan Burgess
Author, Deidra Drysdale (right) was once a primary school teacher who loved story time possibly even more than the children.
She says, “A lifetime of travelling and teaching in Africa, Europe and Asia fuelled an interest in teaching English to all age groups, and completing a higher degree lead to my moving to management in education. I have a new role as an artist and spend most days drawing and painting, but still teach when needed because I enjoy it.”
Deidra has been writing short stories for about ten years, with Kanga Can’t Jump her second story for children. She has also written three short stories for older readers and has been a runner up in a UK magazine (Women’s Journal) competition.
Of Kanga Can’t Jump, Deidra says it ” is about a little kangaroo who has a problem. I like happy endings, so the problem gets solved. It was important to me for there to be an element of realism (in a book where the kangaroo talks?!) so there is a very good reason for Kanga’s predicament.”
When not writing Deidra draws, paints and walks, hoping for inspiration.
01 Sep 2014
Eleven year old Taya Bayliss is not happy that her family has moved from the city to Bascombe Bay, a tiny fishing village. She has only been in her new home for a few hours when she finds herself mixed up in a fifty year old mystery.
She meets Mae Evans, an elderly lady, who because of a long ago love seems to hold the key to the treasure. But is there really a treasure or is it all just imagination? Two local boys certainly think there is a hidden fortune and spend their time stalking Mae in an effort to get her to lead them to it. They soon turn their attentions to Taya as well making life more difficult for her.
Taya is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and to help Mae out of her difficulties but the clues don’t seem to add up. Is the painting of the lighthouse a clue or just a keepsake?
Here’s what the writers’ web readers thought about this book, written for 10-12 year olds:
“This book is about an 11 year-old girl who has moved to a new town with her parents for her father’s work. She was not asked if she wanted to move and is not happy about being in Bascombe’s Bay. The town starts to get more interesting for her when she meets an old lady with a story about possible long lost treasure and starts to investigate the story. But not everyone is happy she is snooping around.
This book definitely held my interest. It was suspenseful and when each chapter ended I found myself really wanting to read more.I would recommend this book for young readers from ages 8 up to 15 year olds as it is a well-written, easy to read book with a good storyline.” Abbey English
“It was adventurous. This book is about a girl (Taya Bayliss) who has just moved to Bascombe Bay and is trying to help an old lady called Mae. She almost gets pushed into the water by two boys who won’t leave Mae alone, Garrnet and Robert, because they think Mae has treasure. (Because their father told them a story from fifty years ago.) Mae tells Taya that she doesn’t have any treasure, but Taya is determined that there is. With the help of a painting, a watch and Michael Shaw they discover that there is treasure, diamonds”. Ella Neil
Author EJ Gore (right) grew up with a love of reading thanks to her mother who introduced her to the library.
She says: “That’s where my vivid imagination flourished and my delight in storytelling was born. During my thirty years as a primary school teacher, I used storytelling and drama as the base for my classroom practice creating stories and plays through which my students were encouraged to develop deeper understanding and knowledge of curriculum concepts.”
Now retired from fulltime teaching, she has the time for two of her greatest pleasures – writing and travelling.
EJ Gore is currently working on a novel started in 2012 and of her Taya Bayliss series of books, she says, ”I wanted to write books that featured real kids dealing with situations that could actually happen, no fantastic super powers or magic, just quick wits and good problem solving skills. I wanted the young readers to be able to imagine themselves in the story. Children are wise little beings who delight in solving mysteries. Adults often underestimate their wisdom.”
When not writing, EJ blogs, promotes her books, tutors children, walks her dogs and travels with her husband,
29 Aug 2014
Two years on, Emma Mactaggart reflects on her win at the Ippy awards…
Congratulations to writers’ web’s own Emma Mactaggart who has won a gold medal at the 2012 The Independent Publisher Book Awards (also known as the IPPY Awards) taking out the Best Adult Non-Fiction E-Book with Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book is Child’s Play (pictured below).
The awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles published each year and are open to all members of the independent publishing industry, and to authors and publishers worldwide
Full results are here.
Reflecting upon receipt of the award, two years on, Emma says:
“This award gave me courage, confidence and the actual right to say ‘award winning author’! It is just huge! I am still smiling in the afterglow nearly two years later. Book sales did receive a substantial nudge and have predictably fallen now, but it is my credibility as a writer, as an authority on what I was writing about, which received the biggest boost. I am invited to speak at conferences – the most recent being the Australian Literacy Educators Association and it is exhilarating to know I am wanted. Child Writes, as a program, will be in its 10th year of publishing children’s books written by children for children. That little gold sticker I attach personally to every book before it goes out the door is a constant reminder it is honestly worth pursuing your dreams.”
25 Aug 2014
Rusty adores his new home and the Rumbles treat him as a valued member of their family. All is going very well for Rusty; however, when the family leave on the Monday morning for work and pre-school, Rusty finds himself alone again and cries all day. On arriving home later in the afternoon, his family are greeted with lashings of love from Rusty who runs to collect their slippers. When sitting by their lovely smelly feet that night, Rusty comes up with a great idea. As his family sleep, Rusty secretly collects a “smelly” sock from each one, some easier to retrieve than others, and hides them in his little bed for safekeeping. He is very pleased with himself and knows that these socks smell of his loved ones so, to Rusty, they will always keep his family near to him.
What did the writers’ web review panel think about Rusty Rumbles adventures, designed for one to six-year-old readers?
“Young children are going to enjoy this delightful tale of a little dog named Rusty Rumble. He is at the pound waiting for his forever home when he is spied by his new family. The easy-to-read poetry is infectious and the charming tale draws you in from the first line.
Rusty Rumble is a little mischievous and we both enjoyed the playful tone of the book. I read this book with my 6-year-old and think that she will be able to read it herself in the next year or so. It would make great home reader for young children.
We really enjoyed the pictures by Hilbert Bermejo and our only little tip would be for some pupils in the people’s eyes, for they look a little odd. Lots of fun and I bet Dianne Ellis’ next book: ‘Rusty Rumble’s Day at the Beach’ is a beauty too. We recommend it for the young and young at heart. Kasper Beaumont
“Rusty is a naughty dog who steals his owners’ socks. The stealing theme was timely given a stealing incident by Tommy’s sibling earlier in the day. It was a good chance to talk about the morality of the issue.
Despite that Rusty Rumble is light-pawed, Tommy (6) enjoyed the wonderful illustrations and understood Rusty’s motivation for lifting the socks.
The layout of the book with images one side and text the other page of the spread, made it very clean and appealing. A lovely book to enjoy as is or to start a discussion about animal welfare or stealing.” Tommy Edwards
Author Dianne Ellis (right) has been writing all her life drafting her first children’s novel in 2011.
She says: “I truly appreciate the written word, both when reading and writing stories. Poetry has played a large part in my life, composing many verses over the years which I’ve enjoyed sharing with family and friends on special occasions.
In the past 10 years, my love of writing has steered me towards children’s stories and I have completed three children’s novels and six picture books and have many lovable characters popping into my head for when I write future books.
When submitting one of my first picture books to a publisher, I was advised to re-write it without rhyme. I tried and tried but it didn’t work. So, I decided to self-publish.”
Dianne has written her first adult novel and treasured this writing experience.
When not writing, Dianne can be found work part-time in a corporate office, at pilates, gym classes, walking and gardening.
20 Aug 2014
Creating powerful online content can be a tricky process. You need to be good at coming up with ideas, translating those ideas into engaging copy and hitting your target audience’s sweet spot. When you think about it, these skills have always been at the heart of what famous novelists and old school journos do. Our guest blogger, Ruth Dunn has a look at what we can learn from them about creating powerful content.
Make sure you have a worthy topic
“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say”. -F. Scott Fitzgerald
The internet is full of an overwhelming amount of content. It boggles the mind. The last thing the world (and your client for that matter) needs is for you to add more ‘nothing’ content. If it’s been done before is your approach a fresh one? If it hasn’t been done before, do people really want to read about it? Generic content doesn’t rank well organically, it doesn’t engage readers and doesn’t attract shares. It’s more profitable to spend a little extra time developing a fresh angle for one article than to churn out 5 generic articles.
Always keep learning
“The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.” -J.K. Rowling
Be like the sponge. There is no ‘ultimate writer’ status you can achieve, where you know everything. A good content marketer will strive to continually hone their skills, to be a better writer and marketer. Even the most famous writers out there know how valuable it is to keep learning.
Understand and respect your audience
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” -Elmore Leonard
- You want things that don’t matter to users.
- You know things that don’t matter to users.
Keep this at the front of your mind throughout the writing process – from ideation to proof reading. When you think you are finished, run your content past someone else so they can help you identify areas that people might skip over.
Don’t waste words
“Never use the word, ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of ‘very’ coming on, just write the word, ‘damn,’ in the place of ‘very.’ The editor will strike out the word, ‘damn,’ and you will have a good sentence.” -William Allen White
Speaking of respecting your audience, don’t make them read lazy writing. Keep it tight and leave out weak and redundant words and phrases such as:
You get the point. You might find a suitable context to use these words, but in most cases they are fillers or have more accurate substitutes. Make it a habit to evaluate your words.
Write, proof, edit, repeat
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” -C. J. Cherryh
‘That article was perfect the first time I wrote it,’ said no writer ever. Get rid of the misconception that great writers create masterpieces straight off the bat. The truth is, awesome content requires writing, proofing, editing and rewriting. It’s a process of refinement. If you have ever written something you thought was the bees knees only to come back later and realise it’s garbage, you will understand how important this is. 7 steps you might like to consider are:
- Walk away and do something else
- Come back with fresh eyes
- Let your team proofread and suggest change
- Final polish
- Have a web designer look over it
If the greats can teach us anything it’s to never stop. Never stop learning, never stop honing your skills, never stop listening and never allow yourself to settle for average.
- Take the time to create fresh content.
- Keep learning, asking questions and honing your skills.
- Understand what your audience wants.
- Leave out weak words.
- Write, proof, edit, repeat.
Ruth Dunn is a copywriter who sees writing as a powerful tool for communication and expression. You can read her original article on the Matter Solutions website.
17 Aug 2014
Can love conquer all? Neelum has an arranged Hindi marriage to Vikram and they live in oil rich Bahrain where she does not have any rights. She and her family are guest workers or temporary economic migrants, totally dependent on their employers.
Neelum abandons her husband and her arranged marriage for her high school sweetheart Aamir, a Muslim. She was parted from him by her parents who didn’t want anything to do with Muslims as the two communities in India were enemies for centuries.
Their love is stronger than the risk of being ostracised by family and community forever.
Our writers’ web reviewers admired both the writing style and the story line in The Expats. Here is what they had to say…
“The story tells the struggles of a Hindu bride settling into her arranged marriage. Set in Bahrain, the story tells of Neelum’s personal struggles in a strict, religious environment. It begins with Neelum unhappily settling into her new role as wife in her husband’s household with a nightmare mother-in-law. Finding courage, Neelum sets off into the workforce and transforms from an obedient housewife to a sophisticated career woman through her own devices. And best of all, she finds true love.
The story is written mostly from Neelum’s perspective. Although we do get an insight into some other key characters struggling with similar religious relationship struggles. The character’s voice is quite formal and portrays her “good Hindu girl” persona quite clearly. The language can get a little a tricky with the amount of Indian food on offer, however it was a good read to learn of another country’s customs.
Neelum seems like a character dear to the author. Her struggles in such a rigid environment where religion and people’s opinions are an essential part of everyday life. It was inspiring to watch Neelum transform from a young, naïve Hindu girl wearing traditional clothing to someone with a career, wearing the clothing she chooses and most importantly, following her heart to marry her childhood sweetheart Aamir.
I really enjoyed learning of the different customs and conflicts between the Indian religions and factions. I also enjoyed reading all about the different cuisines – I think Indian will be on the next take away selection! The ending was also special with its happily ever after feel.
Anyone who enjoys reading about character transformations would enjoy this book. Aimed mainly at women, I think men could enjoy this read and learn a thing or two about how strong women have to be gain independence.” Holly Murphy
“Ivy D’Souza obviously is an accomplished writer. The Expats is a well plotted story, sincere dialogue and authentic descriptions. The book has a vintage feel about it, being set in the 80s. Aside from its novel formula, the book also is helpful for the reader to gain really first-hand insight into Indian culture, and how this culture interacts and deals with difference. The way that the non-deliberate way the author introduces this, through Neelum’s intimate relationships – her love, boss, work colleagues -, gives the novel’s an authentic feel. There are some subtle editing issues. For example, “The temp, very helpful, taught her how to manage the filing system” (p. 30), confuses the tenses. This would be a good holiday book, one where you can read a chapter and anticipate the next before you go to sleep.
This book is a very sound literary work. However, the main character is almost a little too good, a bit like Dicken’s Oliver Twist, and the audience cannot help but sympathise with her and her many admirable qualities – beauty, intelligence, work ethic -; and despite being involved in an illicit affair, she has almost too few flaws. For me, it appeared that just as Neelum was getting into a challenging situation, she all too soon is saved gracefully from it.” Regina Staier
Author Ivy D’Souza (right) received a grant from City of Monash in 2012 to write and publish The Expats, her first novel. She is a member of the Clayton Clarinda Writers Circle as well as Caulfield Writers.
She has also written a number of short stories, some of which have been published in anthologies. Her interest in writing came about because of her love of reading from a very early age. She is passionate about the written word in all its forms, although she mainly writes fiction. She hopes to write many more novels in the future.
Ivy’s desire to write a book stemmed from her voracious reading appetite.
From 2007 Ivy began to seriously pursue writing as her life’s main interest after attending a writers’ workshop writing and publishing short stories. She then began work on The Expats, set in Bahrain, where she lived for over a decade.
Describing The Expats, Ivy says: “My book is about a young Indian woman who lives and works there, adapting to a different culture, an arranged marriage, and a job where the power of the employer is supreme and she can be dismissed on a whim. But she needs to work and earn money, so she can eventually settle in a western country and have a better future.”
When she is not writing, Ivy likes to socialise with family and friends, paint and make greeting cards.« Older posts