Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

April 14, 2012

Dancing to the Flute

Manisha Jolie Amin

Yet another UTS alumna has achieved success in the world of fiction. Allen & Unwin have just released  Dancing to the Flute, by Manisha Jolie Amin. It’s in the bookshops now. I’ve already ordered my copy from the Co-op Bookshop.

Abandoned as a young child, Kalu, a cheeky street kid, has against all odds carved out a life for himself in rural India. In the quiet village of Hastinapore, Kalu makes friends: Bal, the solitary buffalo boy, and Malti, a gentle servant girl, who, with her mistress, Ganga Ba, has watched out for Kalu from the first day.

 Perched high in the branches of a banyan tree, Kalu chooses a leaf, rolls it tightly and, doing what he’s done for as long as he can remember, blows through it. His pure simple notes dance through the air attracting a travelling healer whose interest will change Kalu’s life forever, setting him on a path he would never have dreamed possible, testing his self-belief and his friendships.

With all the energy and colour of India and its people, Dancing to the Flute is a magical, heart-warming story of this community’s joys and sorrows, the nature of friendship and the astonishing transformative powers of music.

Manisha Jolie Amin was born in Kenya and moved to Australia with her family when she was five. Sydney is her home, although she travels frequently to both India and England to visit family. Manisha lives with her husband, son and cat. When not writing, she works for a children’s welfare charity. In 2011 Manisha received a PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney. Dancing to the Flute is her first novel. More…

Manisha Jolie Amin Blog:

Dancing to the Flute … Description and Reviews

Buy from the Co-op Bookshop and receive your member discount.

Paperback – AUD $29.99 inc. GST

ISBN: 9781742378572
Publisher: ALLEN & UNWIN

June 7, 2011

Season of Inspiration Online Writing Course

What could be more comfy and fun than staying inside on a cold winter day or night and logging on to a stimulating and interactive writing course?

A nine week fully online course that is not a lonely self-study course but a lively forum for debate and developing your current project or starting a new one.

 The course provides writing tuition, journal prompts, stimulating activities, live chats and regular feedback from tutors and peers. An active busy forum ensures plenty of interaction between our writers. Each writer is given a private space for their writing journal. Writers join us from around the globe.

 When the course is completed, our writers are invited to join the Season of Inspiration alumni, at no further cost, to keep in touch and let us all know their achievements as well as when they need some extra encouragement and support.

Sharon Rundle and Helen Whitehead are pleased to confirm that the next Season of Inspiration Online Writing course will start in June 2011 with our trademark supportive, friendly, online writing community and all-new inspiration!

This entirely online writing course, takes up about 4-5 hours per week for 9 weeks.  Join in with our supportive learning community at any time to suit yourself.  Start any time in the week 20-26th June 2011.

Yet again we will be dipping into a variety of sources of inspiration, from nature to music to landscape. From poetry to fantasy to autobiography to food, there’ll be formats, genres and topics to experiment with. We aim to provide inspiration for writing that’ll keep you going for months if not years. We offer support, exercises and creative bolstering. Come whether you’re bursting with ideas to try out or whether you want to rediscover your creativity. Designed so that you can work at your own level (whether you’re starting out as a writer or seeking inspiration for your next publication) with the support and encouragement of a writing community and two tutors. This is the online equivalent of a writers’ workshop, not a lonely self-study course. Students are welcome from anywhere in the world (the course is run in English).

The Peacock Mosaic

Peacock Mosaic



Once upon a time there was a Season of Inspiration online writing course. Then there was another one, and another, all led by co-tutors Sharon Rundle and Helen Whitehead. Inspired by the excellent quality of writing time after time by the participants in the Season of Inspiration online writing courses, we have put together a collection of pieces written by members from all Season of Inspiration courses. Our writers are a variety of ages, nationalities and occupations, and have lived in many different and inspiring places around the world.

Our theme is Memories from around the world. Many of these pieces are autobiography, some are fictionalised, fiction based on real experience, or poetry.

Please dive in and enjoy the varied writing. There is no cost for this.

Season of Inspiration Alumni

Sujata Sankranti

We are thrilled to announce that Sujata Sankranti, who joined us for a Season of Inspiration, has just released her novel ‘In the Shadow of Legends’ published by Rupa India.

I had the privilege of reading the manuscript and this novel is a great read. Meenakshi Bharat and I are proud to have first published an extract from ‘In the Shadow of Legends’  titled ‘An Eye for an Eye’  in our Indo-Australian anthology, ‘Fear Factor Terror Incognito.

Sujata’s novel follows her collection of short stories “The Warp and the Weft” (Shristi, India) the title story of which won the overall Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Sujata, Meenakshi and I were recently featured in the ‘Commonwealth Foundation Journal

Andrew Y M Kwong

More exciting news that Andrew has just been notified that his memoir of his childhood during the Cultural Revolution in China “Snake Business” has been short-listed for the Penguin/Varuna Scholarship for 2011!

This is a gripping story of cruelty, violence, famine, survival, love and optimism told from the point of view of a young boy.

Andrew has also published several short stories.

Avril Carruthers

Congratulations to Avril who released her latest book “Freedom From Toxic Relationships published by Allen & Unwin and launched in May.

Avril’s book shows you how to recognise the manipulative or sweetly corrosive partner, the family dynamics that make Christmas and other get-togethers hell, the nightmare boss. And learn what you can do to leave these painful, destructive patterns behind.

Julia McKay Koelen

Has won competitions and has had her poems and stories published with the latest in the Peter Cowan Writers Centre anthology ‘Amulet’.

Read what they have to say about the Season of Inspiration Online Writing course.

April 17, 2011

New books to put on your reading list

New books:

We’re all set for some great reading  judging by the latest releases by friends and colleagues.  Congratulations to you all and I hope they all prove to be best sellers. Here’s a selection of fiction, non-fiction for adults and a children’s book:

Freedom from Toxic Relationships

Avril Carruthers

Available from May 2nd, 2011 in all good bookshops. Published by Allen & Unwin.

Avril is a Transpersonal psychotherapist  with over twenty years’ experience. She also reviews films. Avril is a regular Season of Inspiration writer and all at SOI send our congratulations to Avril on the publication of her latest book.

Good friend and colleague, Susanne Gervay has a picture book for children to add to her extensive list of books and stories, including her story ‘Days of Thailand’ in Fear Factor Terror Incognito.

Ships in the Field

by Susanne Gervay and illustrated by Anna Pignataro

In a unique collaboration, award-winning author Susanne Gervay and award-winning illustrator Anna Pignataro have created a moving and significant picture book, Ships in the Field. It crosses boundaries in a universal recognition that children are part of the journey of war, migration, loss and healing. Through warmth, humour, pathos and story within story, it breaks the silence engaging children, families and community. Susanne’s parents were post war Hungarian refugees who migrated to Australia. Anna’s parents were post war Italian refugees who migrated to Australia. They are a part of the many immigrant and refugee stories that make up Australia.

ISBN: 978-1-876462-87-1

Publication date: October 2011

Price: AUD$26.95

Age guide: 7+

Nichola Garvey, UTS Alumna and current editor of UTS “Writers Connect”, has just released her biography of Alan Tripp.

Beating the Odds, Nichola Garvey


Beating the Odds: Alan Tripp’s rise from illegal SP bookmaker to gambling kingpin

by Nichola Garvey

Alan Tripp, a man some call a genius and others call a criminal, became the world’s most successful private bookmaker. He was Australia’s most convicted SP bookmaker and was the prime target of gaming and vice squads around the country in the 1980s. Yet he would eventually sell his businesses for hundreds of millions of dollars. This is his story.

Starting-price bookies, although illegal, were long a feature of Australian life, giving punters the opportunity to have a bet away from the track. But with the rise of the TAB, police were ordered to stamp out all other off-course bookmaking in order to protect the state governments’ monopoly.

 Alan Tripp, the biggest SP bookie in Australia, was their number-one target. His punting clientele ranged from the high society of Sydney to the underbelly of Melbourne, and included Prime Minister Bob Hawke, media baron Kerry Packer, gangsters Lewis Moran and Alphonse Gangitano, and underworld figure Mick Gatto — as well as many leading trainers and jockeys of the day. Tripp’s life quickly became a rollercoaster of high-stakes gambling, with the dual threats of bankruptcy and prison never far behind.

 In a fearless and thrilling narrative, Nichola Garvey recounts the drama and intrigue of the life of Alan Tripp, the billion-dollar bookie who beat the odds.

ISBN: 9780732290979

Publication date: March 2011



In the Shadow of Legends

My dear friend and colleague in Delhi, India, Sujata Sankranti is about to release her latest book ‘In the Shadow of Legends’, published by Rupa, Delhi, India.

Sujata has joined us in a previous Season of Inspiration forum too. She is the author of “The Warp and the Weft”, Shristi, India. Sujata was overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 1998. Her story ‘An Eye for an Eye’ appeared in Fear Factor Terror Incognito, Pan Macmillan Picador India and Picador Australia.

November 29, 2010

Fellowships, Awards, Competitions and a campaign to Save Our School


From Jackie Hosking:


ABC Radio National’s ‘Hindsight’ featured the magazine in a recent program:

As the ABC’s website says, the world’s oldest literary magazine for children (95 years and counting) is published without fuss by a small, dedicated and skilled staff who are part of the NSW Department of Education and Training: 4 separate titles for a total of 160 000 readers each month, for 10 issues a year. Subscribers who relish the words and illustrations. Subscribers who develop a love of reading, and who enjoy the range of stories, poems, plays, articles, comic series and activities into the 36 full-colour pages of each of the 40 magazines each year. Subscriptions are as strong for 2011 as ever … let’s hope there will be magazines to deliver to them.

During the Hindsight program, Noela Young, who has been illustrating for the magazine for more than 50 years, suggests that the School Magazine doesn’t receive the recognition it may deserve because its readers are children, whose voices are not heard widely. Some of Australia’s best-loved and most successful writers and illustrators of children’s literature attribute their start in the industry to the magazine.

 The School Magazine accepts unsolicited manuscripts and is a starting point for new writers, as well as on-going income for more established contributors. The School Magazine is part of a very large NSW government department. A new entity is being formed by the merging of two separate units within the department. The Magazine is part of one of these units. As part of the merger, all staff in both units have been told their current employment ceases at the end of of January. Permanent staff may be offered positions in the new entity. The rest have not.

The magazine may still be produced, but it probably won’t be the literary magazine for children it always has been. School Magazine is unique Australian literature for children. There is the very real risk that the magazine will not continue. It’s now only 2 months until the deadline!



Thanks, Jackie, for bringing this important development to our attention.

Pass It On is the essential Australian magazine for writers, especially children’s book writers, illustrators, editors and publishers. published and distributed each Monday.



Varuna Publisher Fellowships 2010

Applications accepted from 1 November 2010 Closes: 30 November 2010 – must be delivered (electronically) by 5pm.

A fantastic opportunity for authors, this award offers 15 six-night residential fellowships during June 2011 to writers selected by Allen & Unwin, Random House Australia, Text, Scribe, University of Queensland Press, Picaro Press and Pan Macmillan Australia. The two writers selected by each of the publishers (and one standout addition) will be offered a three weeks residency at Varuna in June 2011. This includes a one-hour consultation with a Varuna writing consultant, a Varuna writing consultant will read their finished manuscript before being it is sent to the publisher. Cost : $55 (including GST) per application. Fees cover administrative costs and help sustain this program. Successful applicants contribute $300 towards a 6-night residency at Varuna and a consultation with a Varuna writing consultant. For Program Details, Guidelines and application forms:



Completed applications must be received by 30 January 2011. Applications are now invited for the 2011 Unwin Trust Fellowship, which enables a member of the Australian book trade to visit the UK for up to 3 months.

All working in Australian bookselling and publishing are eligible. Applicants are asked to put together a proposal to carry out a project which will both enhance their own understanding of the UK book trade and will provide a means to increase understanding of each market by the other. It is envisaged that the successful candidate will have at least three years’ experience in the book industry, and a clear view as to how the experience gained will be of benefit to their career. They should also expect to participate in some seminars/briefings on their return.

The judges will be looking for original and constructive proposals, and applicants should also provide a timetable and approximate budget. It is expected that time spent in the UK will be between two and three months and the Trust will provide funding for travel, accommodation etc up to £10,000.

A detailed career CV should be provided, along with at least two written references. Appropriate confirmation from employers that sufficient leave of absence will be granted should be provided.

Please apply to Maree McCaskill, Director, Australian Publishers Association, Suite 60/89 Jones Street, Ultimo NSW, 2007. Email:

The Unwin Charitable Trust actively supports book-related projects in the UK and it owns Book House in London which is home to the Publishers Training Centre and Book Trust.


Larissa Behrendt, is NSW Australian of the Year.

The award, presented at a ceremony in Sydney, is in recognition of her passionate and articulate advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”. Her award means that she is also a finalist in the Australian of the Year awards to be announced on Australia Day in January 2011. Congratulations, Larissa.


Congratulations to the winners of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2010:

Non-fiction, The Colony: A History of Early Sydney by Grace Karskens; Fiction, Dog Boy by Eva Hornung; Children’s fiction, Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood; Young adult fiction, Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God by Bill Condon.

CBCA and Koala Award Honours

 Libby Gleeson’s book Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood, was shortlisted for the Early Childhood Book of the Year in Children’s Book Council of Australia Book 2010 Awards.

The Max Remy series by Deborah Abela is listed on the Honour Books for the Koala Awards for Children’s books.


Why not enter some competitions and awards yourself?

Here are some to give you a start:

The 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize

Deadline: 31 March 2011

The Bristol Short Story Prize is open to everyone, whether they are based in the UK or outside the UK. The winning writer will receive £1,000 and all 20 writers whose stories are published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 4 will receive at least £100. The winning story will, also, be published in Bristol Review of Books and Venue magazine Stories can be entered online or by post.

Please read the 2011 BSSP rules and competition details before entering.

Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature

Nominations are open and a prize pool of $130,000 is on offer.

There are six national awards (of which five are open for nomination) for the best published in Australia works in the previous two years in six genres.

For detailed guidelines for the 2010 Adelaide Festival awards, please see: Support & Funding at

Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing Travelers’ Tales

runs an annual award to honour great travel writing, the Solas Awards with $1,000 prize money for Best Travel Story of the Year. All entries will be considered for Travelers’ Tales books. Stories submitted after the deadline will be entered in the following year’s contest.

 Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest

The winner earns $500 for sharing their living abroad experiences. See the guidelines .

The Good Reading website competitions list is definitely worth a look.

No excuses–take inspiration from our award winning authors and motivation from the many fellowships, awards, competitions and opportunities–to keep you going, avoid writers’ block, kick-start your writing or begin that writing project you’ve been meaning to tackle.

Tempus Fugit 🙂

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: