Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

November 27, 2012

Dancing to the Flute

Dancing to the Flute

Manisha Jolie Amin

Allen & Unwin 2012

The power of music to reach people is never far from the surface of Dancing to the Flute. The brilliantly conceived structure parallels the stages of the Indian raga. The rhythm and pattern follow those of the raga as the narrative unfolds. The poetic language transforms the commonplace as the reader travels along with Kalu, the protagonist.

Dancing to the Flute has the magic and pathos of myth and enchantment, yet the human condition and the transformative quality of music are always at its centre. The yearning, the secret dreams and the shared bonds of those who are deeply connected by the ties that bind them are the catalyst for the metaphysical effects of Kalu’s flute. The world of Kalu and those with whom he comes in contact,  Vaid, Guruji, Bal, Ganga ba, Malti, Martin, Ashwin and others who inhabit the villages, is keenly wrought and ever evocative.

At all times, the reader is there at the centre of Kalu’s world, engaged by his quirky irrepressible nature, moved by his grief, captivated by his inquiring mind and gift for making music. As Kalu grows older and wiser, he discovers the incandescent and a higher purpose to this extraordinary gift. Just as Guruji discovers the true gift he has in his apprentice. As Kalu’s world expands, he learns that no matter how difficult life is, there is no going back – one can only go forward.

Just as the future appears Inevitable, however, the narrative twists and turns to another possibility.

Dancing to the Flute is an original and fine literary work, Amin is undoubtedly a skilled storyteller—there are stories within stories—and I found myself irresistibly drawn in and transported to Hastinapore, Guruji’s house and land on the way to Tanakpur, Ahmedabad and other villages of Gujurat, India and on to London.

Amin’s novel is right up there with the best I’ve read this year.

Manisha Jolie Amin

a raga is the projection of the artist’s inner spirit, a manifestation of his most profound sentiments and sensibilities brought forth through tones and melodies. The musician must breathe life into each raga as he unfolds and expands it … each note pulsates with life and the raga becomes vibrant and incandescent.” Ravi Shankar.

 Reviews:

UTS

Indian Herald

Good Reads

Book Coasters

September 16, 2011

Commonwealth Short Story Prize-winning Stories announced.

Overall Winner and Regional Winner, Canada and Europe is

Philip Nash from the United Kingdom for his story Rejoinder

Read the winning story by Philip Nash,

the Regional winners,

Highly Commended and Special Prize stories

on the Commonwealth Foundation website.

And remember to write a story to enter next year!

New writer triumphs in Commonwealth Short Story Competition

Philip Nash wins 2011 Prize

Press release

In 2012 the competition will be re-launched as the Commonwealth Short Story Prize under the new banner Commonwealth Writers – a world of new fiction. Find out more at www.commonwealthwriters.org

August 12, 2011

Violin Lessons – Arnold Zable

Violin Lessons by Arnold Zable

Arnold Zable has released his latest book Violin Lessons published by Text.  Zable is the narrator of stories of the lives of displaced people, survivors and their families, like Amal Basri rescued from the SIEV X after almost twenty-four hours in the ocean, whose moving story is told in ‘The Ancient Mariner’.   Another story, ‘The Dust of Life’ follows the lives of children orphaned by the war in Vietnam: Bui doi, the boys were called, ‘the dust of life’, but in this moment of blessed sleep they were a brotherhood united by common circumstance, living a semblance of family life in a transient haven in a warring city where the bonds of civility had been strained beyond the limits.

As the title of this poignant yet gripping collection of stories suggests, music is present in each story. In ‘The Ancient Mariner’, Amal sings; in ‘The Dust of Life’, the music flows from a bamboo flute. ‘In time, the distinction between flute and water, bamboo and breeze vanished, and all that remained was the flow of the notes—a melody that belonged to streams and rivers, outside and beyond history, beyond the scourge of contending armies, beyond the stench of camps and shantytowns housing the displaced and exiled. Beyond the madness.

You can read a review of Violin Lessons published in the Canberra Times. Arnold tells me that: ‘one thing I would add to that quote from the Canberra Times article is that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary for the story teller is often dependent on the intensity of our listening. Seemingly ordinary people often possess that extra in simple but profound ways.‘

Zable book review in the Canberra Times

Violin Lessons is hitting the bookshops now, so watch out for it or order your copy from Text Publishers.

Arnold is an award winning writer, storyteller, educator, and human rights advocate and a wonderful speaker. I met him at Eltham “World Matters” where he spoke eloquently and passionately about refugees and people who are seeking asylum during his discussion with Susan Metcalfe about her book The Pacific Solution

Arnold Zable’s many books include:

 Jewels and Ashes, (Scribe, 1991) which won five Australian literary awards

Cafe Scheherazade, (Text, 2001)

The Fig Tree, (Text, 2002)

Scraps of Heaven, (Text, 2004)

Sea of Many Returns, (Text, 2008)

Special Event for Members of the NSW Writers’ Centre

Arnold Zable will join NSW Writers’ Centre members for an in conversation event, where he will talk about his life and his work. Arnold comes to the Writers’ Centre via the Writing Australia 2011 touring program and will be in conversation with Rebecca Giggs.

The event is part of the NSW Writers’ Centre Free Member Events.

Arnold Zable and Rebecca Giggs in Conversation at the NSW Writers’ Centre Members Only night on Monday 26 September, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

An event not to be missed.

RSVP to events@nswwc.org.au with your name and member number to attend.

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!

http://seasonofinspiration.eventbrite.com/

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.

http://memosaic.net/

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.

June 4, 2011

The Kids and Young Adult Literature festival at the NSW Writers Centre

The Kids and Young Adult Literature festival brings:-
New Work, New Directions, New Opportunities

The best in Australian kids’ and YA authors, playwrights, film script writers , multi platform publishers from HarperCollins and Random house, independent and online publishing, apps  and there’s the chance to pitch your idea.

"Butterflies" Indonesia Cover

Susanne Gervay award winning children’s and young adult author is the Director of the Children’s and YA Literature Festival bringing exciting publishers and creators  up close and personal to you:– keynote with Olympian swimmer, ABC broadcaster and author Lisa Forrest, Monkey Baa Theatre,  ABC TV script writers, best seller series authors Duncan Ball, Jacqueline Harvey, Sophie Masson, Kate Forsyth and more.

Pitch your work to a Publishing Panel.

It’s one of the few times you can talk to authors, publishers, multi media experts, network, meet your writing community and have a drink on the balcony afterwards as the sun sets over Rowen House the home of the NSW Writers Centre.

Date: 25th June 2011
Time: 9.30 am – 5 p.m.
Place: The NSW Writers Centre
Cost: $50 members ($80 non members)
Parking: Freely available
p: 02 9555 9757
e: nswwc@nswwc.org.au
http://www.nswwc.org.au

Booking essential       

If you need somewhere to stay in Sydney, I recommend The Hughenden at 14 Queen Street Woollahra.

May 26, 2011

Writing a Successful Synopsis.

 The very idea of writing a Synopsis can make a novelist shudder.

The Synopsis Scream

Compacting a full length work or a collection of stories or poems into a page or two to pitch to a publisher is an art in itself.

Synopsis head-scratching

Very few examples of successful synopses are available and the advice that is there can be conflicting. One excellent book is ‘A Decent Proposal’ by Rhonda Whitton, she shows step by step how to put together a book proposal that will impress publishers. It not only allows the writer to assemble a ‘decent proposal’ but also makes the writer really think about the different aspects of publishing a book. By going through the steps to create a book proposal, the writer has also had to answer various questions about their manuscript which makes them better prepared for the publishing process. I know, I’ve used it myself. However, it does only lightly touch on exactly how to write the dreaded synopsis.

************************************************************************************************

Varuna newsletter March 2011 also has some advice. 

Author! Author! Blog 

This blog is written in a very accessible way and gives tips on How to Write a really good Synopsis.  Practical advice dished up with humour from the point of view of an editor and agency screener. Much of it is written tongue in cheek, nevertheless there is sound advice in there. It’s a UK blog but still relevant, especially if you are thinking of submitting work to the UK. Though, as I mentioned earlier, some of it conflicts with the advice given in ‘A Decent Proposal’ which is aimed at Australian authors.

The Author! Author! blog has loads of links to other pages with advice on book proposals, pitching a story, formatting and submitting a manuscript, editing as well as writing techniques.

Some of the advice that is on offer recommends chapter by chapter summaries, others say summaries should be avoided or that the chapters and scenes should be described rather than summarised. Some suggest writing a synopsis along the lines of a jacket blurb; others advise against it.

Most agree, though, that formatting should be in the style of a manuscript, with indented paragraphs and 1.5 line spacing; 2.5cm margins; 12 pt font. A running head with author name, book title and page numbers should be shown on each page (though the first page is optional). The book title and author name and the word ‘synopsis’ should appear at the beginning.

Successful Synopsis!

Have you written a successful synopsis?

Would you care to share it as an example?

Have you found some practical and sound advice about writing a successful synopsis?

Many writers are looking for advice, tips, templates or examples that will give them a strategy for writing their synopsis. Let us know what you think.

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