What did we do
at our meetings in 2009?
November 2009: Christmas Competition Awards and Lunch
This was our final meeting for the year. The winners of our Christmas Competition were announced and a delicious lunch was shared - and enjoyed - by all. A glass of bubbly added to the festive feeling.
October 2009: Guest speaker Michelle Hamer
We were very sorry indeed to learn that Michelle
Hamer's son had an accident and was taken to hospital. Michelle tried to call a
few people but was not successful in getting the message through to us. We are
very pleased to report that her son is all right now.
Members got together and we had some great readings. Most of these were from the anthology Reflecting on Melbourne, published by Poetica Christi Press. This is a large and really beautiful volume of poems, artworks and photographs. Several of our group are also members of Wordsmiths of Melbourne poetry group. Poetica Christi Press is the publishing arm of this group. Jean Sietzema-Dickson and Janette Fernando have managed the Press since its inception in 1990. It has since published over 20 books.
September 2009: Group Workshops
After some lively exchanges in the General
Meeting we divided into two reading and critique groups.
The poetry group mostly came with prepared work which we shared with each other. The works were very varied and the critiques helpful and positive.
Karen Turner brought along some pictures to stimulate the prose writers. These were passed around and, after a discussion, everyone then wrote something. When writing time had elapsed the pieces were then shared amongst the group. Betty Caldwell had seen the picture of a healthy looking grey cat and had written a lovely witty short story which she read to us.
August 2009: AGM & Guest Speaker June Loves
The Annual General Meeting of the Society of Women Writers Victoria Inc. provided the membership with reports from office bearers which was followed by the election of the new committee for 2009-2010. The election was presided over by our patron, Lady April Hamer. The new committee members can be seen on our Contacts page.
Meryl Tobin presented beautiful bunches of native flowers from her garden to each member of the outgoing committee.
|Flowers for Rebecca, Vice President; Karen looks on.||Flowers for Lady April Hamer, our Patron||Flowers for Errol Broome, our Literary Patron|
|Flowers for Judy, our long-serving Membership Secretary
with Meryl and Tricia on the right.
|Flowers for Shirley, our Treasurer||Flowers for Veronica, our Web Weaver.|
Photos by Veronica Schwarz
Newly elected President Tricia Veale took the chair and thanked Past President Rebecca Maxwell, Lady Hamer, Karen Turner (Vice President), Marissa Byatt (newsletter editor) and Meryl for the flowers. She concluded by reading William Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils".
Writing: from 17 to 70
introduced our guest speaker June Loves who spoke on her long and varied writing
career. June has published more than one hundred books, non-fiction and
June is now seventy and looking back over her life as a writer, she realised that she began writing at the age of seven. Queuing at the library for books to read seemed much more difficult than just writing her own at that tender age.
In the 1950s, she tried for jobs with various
newspapers and got a job with the Herald Sun, writing for the magazine Woman’s
Day. She also wrote freelance for the Herald Sun and made more money than her
In the 1950s, she tried for jobs with various newspapers and got a job with the Herald Sun, writing for the magazine Woman’s Day. She also wrote freelance for the Herald Sun and made more money than her day job.
It was while writing freelance as a journalist
that she learnt the tricks of the trade. Write the best first so the bottom can
be cut if space is not available. Use a hook to get the reader in immediately.
Use nouns and verbs only. Cut the moderators.
It was while writing freelance as a journalist that she learnt the tricks of the trade. Write the best first so the bottom can be cut if space is not available. Use a hook to get the reader in immediately. Use nouns and verbs only. Cut the moderators.
Female reporters were confined to writing for
the social pages in those days and eventually she left and went into teaching,
then marriage and children kept writing out of her reach.
Female reporters were confined to writing for the social pages in those days and eventually she left and went into teaching, then marriage and children kept writing out of her reach.
She became a teacher librarian but began writing
She became a teacher librarian but began writing children’s books.
She observed that you need the heart of a lion
and the hide of a rhinoceros to be a writer. It about luck, inspiration and
perspiration. Once you get going, you get braver. You have to separate the
writer from the business person in writing too.
She observed that you need the heart of a lion and the hide of a rhinoceros to be a writer. It about luck, inspiration and perspiration. Once you get going, you get braver. You have to separate the writer from the business person in writing too.
She always wanted to mix fact and fiction in her
children’s books. She has also written a nine-volume easy-to-read encyclopedia.
She always wanted to mix fact and fiction in her children’s books. She has also written a nine-volume easy-to-read encyclopedia.
She advises that if you ever work in
collaboration, it is important to have a legal agreement.
She advises that if you ever work in collaboration, it is important to have a legal agreement.
Her experience shows that you can earn a living
as a writer but you have to have discipline and passion.
Her experience shows that you can earn a living as a writer but you have to have discipline and passion.
Her final cheerful advice to members of the Society was that it doesn’t matter how old you are or how fit you are, to be a writer.
She too received a
beautiful bunch of Meryl's flowers at the end of her talk.
She too received a beautiful bunch of Meryl's flowers at the end of her talk.
June Loves and Karen Turner
July 2009: Writings, Readings and Rewards
By Marissa Byatt
We had a full and informative July meeting with judges, Molly Travers and
Kristin Henry, giving their reports and announcing the winners of the 2009 SWWV
Biennial Literary Awards. Regardless
of whether members had their writing work rewarded or not, it was fascinating to
hear the judges talk about the difficult process of determining the best entry
out of many.
We had a full and informative July meeting with judges, Molly Travers and Kristin Henry, giving their reports and announcing the winners of the 2009 SWWV Biennial Literary Awards. Regardless of whether members had their writing work rewarded or not, it was fascinating to hear the judges talk about the difficult process of determining the best entry out of many.
Molly Travers gave valuable insights into the first part of the judging process which is to develop a set of criteria that the work must meet. She said first and foremost, she looks for what she calls ‘secretarial skills’ which encompass spelling, punctuation, grammar and the overall order of the work. The work must also be of a tidy and uniform appearance.
Molly and Elizabeth (First Prize for Best Article A Brief History of the Picnic)
Molly and Tasma (Second Prize for her article The Innocent Side.
Particularly, Molly stressed the importance of the story or article to be told in the appropriate voice and that this voice is consistently used throughout the piece. She looks for the way the writer develops and directs their idea towards a satisfying and believable conclusion.
Kristin Henry, our poetry judge, agreed with Molly’s suggestion that the entries received had a ‘lightness of touch’ which helped to make ‘heavy’ or ‘dark’ topics more palatable to the reader. Kristin was also impressed by the subtle mental pictures brought to mind by the selected poems, describing the imagery as ‘well defined’. She said she was pleased with the entries that displayed lucidity and direct language rather than using ‘tricky’ or complicated words and phrases to describe something simple.
Kristin and Judy (Highly commended poem)
Kristin and Marlene (Second prize for her poem Hot Air Platoon)
The winners were announced and members were treated to readings of the successful entries, made even more special when delivered by the authors.
June 2009: “What If?”
Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
by Veronica Schwarz
Sussex presented our June 2009 meeting with information on the science
fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy writing and publishing scene with
a particular emphasis on Australia rather than the galaxy.
are now so many sections and subsections within this genre that it has
become quite confusing to differentiate among them. Lucy gave us a
number of definitions covering Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction,
Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism, Dark Fantasy, Supernatural Romance and
Post Apocalyptic fiction.
told us, there is a huge market for Fantasy, particularly Romantic
Fantasy. Tolkien is a classic case.
the best know author of Horror is Stephen King while Salman Rushdie is a
writer of Magical Realism. In the realm of Supernatural Romance, Lucy
told us of the work of Laurell K. Hamilton who writes about a Private
Investigation agency in Hollywood run by fairies – the tiny type with
the Vampire Slayer with her vampire lover Angel, would be a good example
of Supernatural Romance.
fiction uses speculation based on fear. Some disaster that destroys the world as
we know it and what happens next. “Day of the Triffids” and “On the
Beach” are two good examples.
interesting concept is the “shared world”. One writer comes up with a
concept for an alternative world and other writers write stories in that world.
For example, Jillian Pollock created an alternative world based on the
eighteenth century. Other people write stories set within that world.
of these forms of fiction are written for both the adult and young adult
markets. If you can write both, you will have an on-going audience as your young
adult readers move on to your adult fiction.
Australian publishers now have some fantasy writers on their books. Harper
Collins and Allen and Unwin are two of the biggest. The short story market is
limited but Speculative Fiction does better than other forms, Lucy told us.
South Writers’ Residential Workshop runs every two years in Brisbane and is
the most intensive professional development program for speculative fiction
writers in the southern hemisphere.
writers’ retreat at Varuna in the Blue Mountains is a supporter of Fantasy
writers and Harper Collins reads the manuscripts produced by their participants.
you don’t have to have a science degree to write in this genre. Keep up with
the trends by reading New Scientist
and watching the program “Catalyst”.
Thanks Lucy. See you among the stars.
THE NANCE DONKIN AWARD
Following Lucy's talk, the inaugural presentation of the Nance Donkin Award took place. For more information on this award, its origin and its purpose, click on the Award below:
The Nance Donkin Award Sculpture by Lisa Herbert ('Herbs')
President Rebecca Maxwell opened this section of the meeting and introduced our Literary Patron Errol Broome.
Photo: Left to right: Errol Broome, Rebecca Maxwell and Vice President, Karen Turner.
|Errol spoke of her personal
friendship with Nance Donkin and read from Nance's stories for
children.. She then handed the Award to Ms Pia
Butcher, the Judge. Pia announced the winner of the
inaugural award was Dr Ruth Starke.
Dr Starke was unable to attend the presentation but her former Editor Ms Helen Chamberlain, accepted the award on her behalf.
Errol handed the award to Pia Butcher, who announced the winner to be Dr Ruth Starke.
Pia presented the Award to Helen Chamberlain (far right) who accepted it on behalf of Ruth Starke.
PHOTOS: Veronica Schwarz
2009: Shaping Inspiration
by Marissa Byatt
our May 2009 meeting, members engaged in “Writing Exercises; For Any Genre”
with writer and teacher Annette Trevitt. The exercises were fast paced and had
plenty of scope for the writing imagination. First, we had a short exercise on
“Why I want to write …” then, to reverse the thought process, “Why I
don’t want to write …”. This technique introduces another point of view;
it can also help stimulate new ideas and prevent the cycle of writing about
the same topic.
introduced some tips to think about when writing:
story needs tension, conflict is a great way to create this; ask yourself
specific with details, make sure your writing does not get bogged down by
irrelevant words or images.
old favourite, ‘show, don’t tell.’
what your character wants within the story.
an overall view, not only of your main character but also stay in touch with
other characters, mood, space and time.
is a time, Annette says, when you have to just sit down and write. She explained
that one way of stimulating ideas, was taking one word and writing down all the
words you associate with it. The word Annette chose was ‘escape,’ then
members were asked for their responses to this word. In minutes we had a white
board full of interesting and different words: free, waterfall, fire,
expression, ideas, prison, exboyfriend etc … Already the starting points of
potential stories forming.
each consecutive writing exercise, Annette introduced a new element to our
topic. Our writing now had to include: a suit-case, an unopened present, a
postcard ... This provokes the writer to think more about the direction of their
story. Annette says, “Some writers know what their story is going to be about
before they have started writing, others write and follow where their story
members were asked to take one of their favourite writing pieces and improve the
work. Annette stressed, “Find the meaning of the piece; what are you trying to
say? Sometimes the underlying theme is a surprise, even to the writer!”
you Annette, for the (often demanding) inspiring and worthwhile writing
April 2009: Why Limit Your Creativity? Self Publish.
by Marissa Byatt
Beth Wunderlich, who has self published many of her own books, was our first
speaker at the April 24th meeting on “Idea’s For Self Publishing” and her
message was, “You don’t have to be an expert to create a book.”
Beth says there is nothing complex about the process of self publishing, but there are a few things to think about before you start. Firstly, find a recent book that has a style and format that appeals to you; use this book as your guide. Secondly, prepare your manuscript neatly, type the book up as it would be printed, including page numbers, titles, underlines and frames. You will need to apply for an IBSN (International Book Standard Number) which identifies a unique addition of a publication. Remember: if you are not sure about number placement, dedications or blurb, check the book you have chosen as your guide.
Before your book arrives at the printers, Beth says, you should have your manuscript checked by an expert. When you feel the book is done to your satisfaction you must negotiate with a printing firm about types of paper, binding, colours, pictures and book cover. When these issues are decided, think carefully about the number of copies you want printed. If your book is for family and friends, you might only want 10, 20 or 50 copies. If you think you may have a larger market for your book you may want to order more, but beware, no one wants a garage full of unsold books gathering dust! When it comes to the pricing of your book, Beth advises self publishers not to rely on verbal quotes “… get written quotes”. Lastly, the message to self publishers is to have fun and “ be creative!”
Paul and Debbie Higgs from Palmer and Higgs were the second of our guest speakers, who specialize in all areas of book production distribution and marketing. They help authors work out what they want to do with their book and how to go about printing and marketing the finished product. They say that they think of themselves as ‘…halfway between professional and self publishers.’ Debbie and Paul have 15 years in the publishing industry, working with such publishers as, Oxford University, Penguin and Spinifex Press and have published a wide range of genres from educational books to cooking books.
Paul particularly emphasized the need to make sure a manuscript is neatly typed, double spaced with a simple and consistent font and format and proofreading is an imperative step before it reaches a publisher. In the final stages of finishing Paul says, ‘Your book cover is your one chance to catch the audience’s attention…it is always important to choose a designer who is right for you’.
In terms of marketing Debbie explains she believes that self publishers make more book sales online than in independent book stores. Reminding members of the 4 Ingredients Cookbook ,written and self published by two Brisbane women, which outsold both Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver in 2007. The book was second only to J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
Thank you Beth, Debbie, Paul, Meryl Tobin and Lin Van Hek! The session was filled with interesting tips and insights, we look forward to further discussions on the subject.
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