Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

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 3, 2011

Authoring the Author at the NSW Writers Centre

More about the publication process.

A brand new professional development course is running at the NSW Writers Centre,

which may be of interest either to you  or perhaps to people in your network emerging into the role of author.

Authoring the Author is run by William Kostakis (YA author and professional blogger) with a tonne of guest speakers including Zoe Walton (Random House) and Benython Oldfield (Zeitgeist media). This is a selective course and participants will need to submit a one page statement of what they would like from the course before being offered a place. 

Over six sessions William will examine the industry from all angles, navigating the challenges and identifying the opportunities presented to modern authors.

We are trying to spread the word about this opportunity for emerging writers as far and wide as possible, so do please pass it on.

Jacqui Dent

Program Officer

NSW Writers’ Centre

PO Box 1056

Rozelle NSW 2039

T  02 9555 9757

F  02 9818 1327

E  jdent@nswwc.org.au 

W www.nswwc.org.au

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.

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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.

February 21, 2011

Season of Inspiration ~ Writers’ Centre ~ Picture Book ~ Flash Film

Season of Inspiration online writing course

The next season will run from June 21 – August 23, 2011.

Helen Whitehead and I will again be running the course in our private Season of Inspiration online course space

We are taking enquiries now and bookings on the website.


NSW Writers’ Centre at Rozelle on Saturday 26th February

I’m looking forward to a day meeting authors  and discussing how to develop their manuscripts further towards publication.

The day was booked out some time ago but another is scheduled for Saturday 23rd July though you may need to book early. For more information go to The NSW Writers’ Centre website.


Ships in the Field

Susanne Gervay never ceases to amaze me with her creativity. Her latest is a children’s picture book Ships in the Fieldwhich she is currently editing for forthcoming publication by Ford St in October this year. She is thrilled that Anna Pignataro is illustrator. Susanne’s “Jack” books are such gems, fast paced prose that leaps off the page, endearing quirky characters and language that is vigorous, vivid yet accessible to young readers. The black & white illustrations by Cathy Wilcox capture the whimsy and the quirkiness beautifully.


Storytelling

The Hughenden Hotel has bi-monthly Storytelling over Devonshire Tea for those who want to tell stories and those who enjoy listening. I’ve been along myself and it’s a very entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

Storytelling and other events at The Hughenden


Can you write 250 words of fiction that would make a great 60 seconds of film?

Bridport’s Film Festival Flash Film

Closes: 20 March 2011. Turn short stories into film. 250 words of fiction. 60 seconds of film. Flash Film is your chance to go from Page to Screen, with your own film adaptation. Download Guidelines for entering this exciting competition. Bridport Film Festival runs from 13 – 17 April 2011.

September 30, 2010

Celtic Handfasting ceremony and news of Varuna Fellowship

  

Congratulations to two dear friends and Season of Inspiration writers.

On a glorious Spring day on the Sydney harbour foreshore, I attended the Celtic Handfasting ceremony for Avril Carruthers and Roger Adam Smith in the grounds of Strickland House, Vaucluse; followed by a champagne picnic lunch and croquembouche. I enjoyed delightful company and delish food, as well as witnessing a traditional Celtic hand-fasting. It was such a pleasure to be part of the ceremony and share Avril and Roger’s joy. The pictures tell the story.

 

As well as being the author of Let Go of Your Past and Live, published Allen & Unwin, Avril also writes poetry and fiction and contributed to the Season of Inspiration Peacock Memosaic.

  

  

 Varuna Writing Fellowship 2011

Andrew Y M Kwong who has just been notified that he’s a recipient of a Varuna Writing Fellowship 2011. Andrew has been working on his memoirs of growing up in and eventually escaping Mao’s China. It is a gripping and heart-rending tale that vividly portrays the way the human spirit can flourish even in the worst of times. He’ll now have the opportunity to work intensively on his manuscript in consultation with Varuna’s Creative Director and Creative Team. Well done, Andrew. As well as being one of our Season of Inspiration writers who contributed to the Peacock Memosaic, Andrew has a story “Snake Business” in Fear Factor Terror Incognito, published Picador India and Australia. 

  

Andrew Y M Kwong with David Malouf and Rosie Scott at the Sydney Hughenden launch of 'Fear Factor Terror Incognito'.

 

Andrew on the panel at UTS TFC Fear Factor Terror Incognito event.

June 18, 2010

Writing On through the Winter Solstice

Writing On

The Season of Inspiration Alumni Forum ‘Writing On is a lively discussion forum at the moment with past and present Season of Inspiration writers re-connecting to discuss and critique their work. We’re also in the process of creating a Peacock Memosaic of Season of Inspiration stories and poems for publication. More later.


NSW Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference

Today, 18 June,  Andy Griffiths and Kristin Gill addressed the NSW CBCA Conference at the Menzies Hotel, Sydney.

http://www.indigenousliteracyproject.org.au/Events/EventDetail.aspx?ID=5

National Literacy Ambassador

Children’s book author, Deb Abela has recently been appointed as the National Literacy Ambassador. Deb Abela’s very popular books include Max Remy Superspy, the Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen (all highly recommended in my family). Deb was recently interviewed on ABC Sydney Radio.

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen hits America!

National Literacy and Numeracy Week

The Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has confirmed 29 August to 4 September as the dates for National Literacy and Numeracy Week (NLNW) in 2010.

Author News

Susanne Gervay

Susanne Gervay with book "Butterflies" at the British Council SCWBI launch in New Delhi, India

writes to say: “I am very proud that my new book ‘Always Jack’ has been endorsed by the

National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Council.”

See the book trailer for this popular international best-seller at

http://www.sgervay.com/jackbooks.php


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Abdul Hekmat has published an opinion article in The Australian newspaper about the Hazaras demonstration in which thousands took part last Sunday. He has sent a link to his article at:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/hazaras-cry-from-the-heart/story-e6frg6zo-1225873734262

Abdul also writes: “Please find an article I have published on National Times; a leading online opinion section of Sydney Morning Herald, The age, Canberra Times, WAtoday and Brisbane Times. If you like please make any comments or burning issues you want to raise. Regards, Hekmat.”

http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/hardline-policy-on-asylum-seekers-wont-work-20100610-xzgv.html

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Dr Andrew Y M Kwong

Dr Andrew Y M Kwong with Dr Meenakshi Bharat and Sujata Sankranti at the launch of Fear Factor Terror Incognito at The Hughenden, Sydney, Australia

is off to Varuna for a week to work intensively on his memoir manuscript. It is a gripping narrative that shows human nature at its worst and its best; and how the human spirit can rise from the depths with courage to overcome innumerable hurdles and fears to become an inspiration for others. Andrew has a story “Snake Business” in Fear Factor Terror Incognito; he has had stories published in several journals.


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Writing Tip for Today


The Winter Solstice is approaching for the Southern Hemisphere. Think of the stories you read that entertained you and kept you enthralled on a long, cold winter’s night. Write about these stories: what was it that made the stories memorable and gripping? How did the author achieve this? Think about the traditions of the Winter Solstice, the seasons and the cycle of life. Then begin writing your own story to entertain on a Winter’s night. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere and about to celebrate the Summer Solstice, write about what that means to you instead.

http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/cms/astro/cosmos/*/Solstice

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

December 5, 2009

Writing and Publishing News

No change to parallel importation legislation

The government has decided against accepting the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to remove parallel importation restrictions which means there will be no changes. This is a victory for the ASA and its members who waged a vigorous campaign against changes to the legislation. It was a long and hard fought campaign involving a great many people and many letters and petitions. You can read more about this and find further links on Jeremy Fisher’s blog

It’s a great delight to announce that the Pan Macmillan Picador India edition of “Fear Factor Terror Incognito” has been released and is on the bookshelves in India right now. I have received copies and seen it. The book is a beautifully produced smart looking edition. I am very proud to be associated with this anthology.

Fear Factor Terror Incognito

I have had very kind and encouraging comments from some of the authors who contributed to this volume of stories and have just received their author copies from Delhi. Congratulations to all of you and thank you all for your patience. I very much appreciate all your positive comments about the anthology and the ‘fine production qualities this book displays’.
http://drjeremyfisher.blogspot.com

The Pan Macmillan Picador Australia edition will be released in March 2010, with a Sydney launch and other events in Sydney, featuring co-editor Meenakshi Bharat and Sujata Sankranti who are visiting from Delhi, India.

Well done to Dr Andrew Y M Kwong, whose story ‘Snake Business’ is included in “Fear Factor Terror Incognito”. Andrew has received some very good advice and comments from Varuna about his book length manuscript. It is a gripping and strong narrative. Andrew is now working on his final draft and I’m sure it is only a matter of time before his memoir will be published. Andrew was a refugee from Communist China and has been a well respected doctor and Australian citizen for many years now. His narrative is a moving tribute to the endurance and triumph of the human mind and spirit over unimaginably horrific conditions and experiences. It is told with the ease and confidence of a true storyteller. One to watch out for.

Congratulations to Roanna Gonsalves. ABC Radio National read Roanna’s ‘Curry Muncher’ story and has commissioned her to write and present a program about Indian students. Roanna is working on her first novel with the support of Varuna Writers Centre and an Australia Council New Work Grant for Emerging Writers. Her novel was long-listed for the Vogel Award Her short story Curry Muncher, inspired by the recent attacks on Indian students in Australia, was published in Eureka Street in June 2009. You can read more of Roanna’s work and her story ‘Curry Muncher’

More congratulations to Christopher Cheng for his 2009 Lady Cutler award, this is an annual award presented for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature. Christopher is a children’s Author and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Co-Regional Advisor–Australia & New Zealand, he was also Federal Literacy Ambassador for Literacy and Numeracy Week for four years from 2004 – 2008.

Susanne Gervay gave the citation speech at the Lady Cutler Award 2009 ceremony.

More at: http://nsw.cbca.org.au/news.htm and with photos on Susanne’s blog

More information about the Lady Cutler Award,

Christopher Cheng has also released a new book: “60 Classic Australian Poems”, Written by Christopher Cheng and illustrated by Gregory Rogers, which has been published by Random House Australia, see link at http://www.randomhouse.com.au/Books/Default.aspx?Page=Book&ID=9781741664140

Elizabeth Webby launched the latest anthology from The Company of Writers at the NSW Writers’ Centre on December 4. “Secret Cows” is now available from the Company of Writers and selected bookshops.

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