Effective Creativity: Editing and Getting Published for Writers

An exciting and interesting event is being held next week from Monday, July 3rd to Friday, July 7th, 2017.

This five-day intensive will be held at Tabor College of Higher Education in Adelaide, South Australia.

If you live in Adelaide, near Adelaide or can get there next week, this could be a break-through event helping you on the path to publication.

Whatever you write, however you communicate, now you can do it even better…

Effective Creativity: Editing and Getting Published for Writers

It’s an Intensive: an exciting 5 days where you’ll get to learn from, and with, publishers, editors, agents, academics and established authors who’ve achieved genuine success in the traditional and new media worlds.

The Intensive will focus on the rapidly changing and exciting world of modern publishing and communication. Topics will include marketing yourself as an author, editing and proof-reading for writers, and understanding and making the most of the complex world of digital and traditional publishing (see below for full program).

The 5 days will blend academia and practicality and is open to all interested. With sessions from 2pm-8pm daily and with dinner provided, it’s perfect for those who work and should provide plenty of networking opportunities. The Intensive can be attended as a full five-day program, or you have the option of attending individual days. Dinner and refreshments are included in all ticket types.

Important information: I will be there all week – and I happen to be one of the presenters.

You can see the whole programme and make bookings here.

Book Review: The Golden Hour

novel about identity, trauma and transition

The Golden Hour by Claire Belberg

Stone Table Books, Northcote, Victoria, Australia, 2017.

And now for something different.

This is a novel with a fascinating plot – the story kept me intrigued and guessing until the very end. Sure, many other books have done that too, but this novel drew me in from page one and wouldn’t let me go. What was actually happening to the characters? What had happened to them?

James, a teenage computer hacker and graphic artist, is trapped inside a mysterious, windowless room. He has no idea how he got there. Two other occupants of the room have no idea how they also came to be in this surreal room. The story delves deeply into the fears, background, family and life of James, and how he relates to his companions. Attempts to escape appear futile – or are they?

This is a brilliantly written novel filled with a small cast of finely drawn characters. While the reader’s sympathies lie with the protagonist James, strongly portrayed through the author’s first person account, one is also drawn one minute to the other characters of Naomi and Eliza – and then almost immediately repulsed by them through their words, attitudes or actions.

It is hard to pigeon-hole this novel into a single genre. While there are some elements of fantasy, it does not sit comfortably there in my opinion. Is it a psychological thriller? Hardly – though there are many moments where the reader just has to keep turning the page. Possibly the closest one could get is to describe this novel as speculative fiction. It goes a long way to answering the ubiquitous writers’ question: “What if…?” What if you unexpectedly find yourself locked into a place or situation from which there was no hope of escaping? How would you react?

As something of an aside, as I read this novel I couldn’t help thinking of the characters in Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” The surreal nature of this novel would, in my opinion, translate well to the stage or possibly even the screen. The plot, dialogue and action are all dense, confronting and intense.

Highly recommended.

Launch: this novel is being launched tomorrow 21st June 2017 at 6:30 pm in the Blackwood Library, South Australia. RSVP ph: 8372 8255

Links:

Acknowledgement: special thanks to the author, Claire, for her friendship, encouragement and for a review copy.

A Resting Place for Poets

Poet's Recall Motel, Gundagai

Poet’s Recall Motel, Gundagai

On a recent trip to Sydney, we stayed one night in the Poet’s Recall Motel in Gundagai. In the past, we have taken only two days to travel from home – Murray Bridge near Adelaide – to our son’s home in Sydney. Due to doctor’s appointments on the day we had planned to leave, we decided to take a more leisurely two and a half days to get to our destination.

On the second night, we had planned to stay in a cabin in the local caravan park in Gundagai. We usually prefer to stay in a cabin because the cooking facilities are generally better in cabins. Of course, I should have booked ahead.

When we arrived at the caravan park, they had no cabins left vacant. The lady in the office told me that rooms were in short supply in the town, and she gave me a few possibilities to try. A few hundred metres away was the Poet’s Recall Motel; what a charming name for a motel. I loved the idea of staying in a motel which acknowledged the role of poetry in our Australian culture.

We managed to get one of the few rooms left that night. It was cosy (read “smallish”) but quite adequate for our needs. Comfortable and clean. On the downside, I had to lug our gear up some stairs, but we only had an overnight bag and a few other items, so I managed okay.

One of the first things I noticed was a plaque on the wall outside our room. Later I noticed that every room had one. Each plaque was a tribute to an Australian poet of note. I have featured two of these plaques above and below. The top one features our well-known poet, Dorothea Mackellar, and the one below Mary Gilmore. I particularly love the quote from Gilmore’s poem.

Poet's Recall Motel, Gundagai

Poet’s Recall Motel, Gundagai

The Dog on the Tucker Box

Many Australians are familiar with the story of the Dog on the Tuckerbox, made famous in another poem. The tribute to this famous story and poem is featured a few kilometres north of the town of Gundagai. I wrote about several of our visits in posts on my travel blog, Trevor’s Travels. You can read those posts by clicking on the links below.

Further reading:

 

 

On this day my life changed forever

Ama Dablam, Nepal

Ama Dablam, Everest region, Nepal

March 26th, 2004

On this day thirteen years ago my life changed forever.

That sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. For the previous 35 years – in another life – I had been a primary (elementary) school teacher. Eight of those years I enjoyed being a teacher librarian; I loved buying books and using the school’s money and not mine. I loved the relationship I had with the students in my classes over the years. I still keep contact with many of them, either on Facebook or in the town where I live. It’s great to see them developing as adults and to see their own children growing up.

What happened to change my life?

On that momentous day in March 2004, I clearly remember hearing a voice inside my head saying, ‘You’ve left your classroom for the last time.’ Now, I must clarify that I am a Christian and believe that God ‘speaks’ to us in many ways, but my experience of His audible voice has been very infrequent. I can really only recall one other occasion. During the first few months of 2004, I had been seriously struggling with illness. Teaching became an almost impossible struggle. On this day, March 26th, I had endured a meeting arranged for me with a counsellor. It was not easy acknowledging that I needed some serious help.

More struggles

The voice was right. That was my last day of teaching in a primary school. I was granted some sick-leave by my doctor – I had plenty in reserve – and took several months off while I recovered. The process was long and emotional; I won’t bore you with the details. I didn’t want to give up a calling to teach, something I loved doing but a task which had become so hard in the face of my illness.

Release

As my health improved, I was able to consult my financial planner. She looked at my situation with great compassion and understanding, just as my doctor and counsellor had done. She asked whether I would rather teach for a few more years to build up my superannuation, or cut loose and get better. ‘Do you want the extra money, or do you want your health?’

It was a no-brainer, really. especially when she told me that to teach for several more years as I had planned would only increase my super payout by a few dollars per week – $15 was the figure, I think.

I resigned forthwith.

And that’s when my life changed forever.

Life after teaching

For many months I struggled with coming to terms with my sudden retirement. It took me a long time to adjust to not fronting up at school every morning. It took me a while to get over my illness. One thing is certain: during the winter months that year, when the rain was pouring down outside, and the wind was howling around our home, and I was reading a good book in front of our fire, I did NOT miss venturing out to supervise the children during after-school bus duty. I didn’t miss it at all.

Alhambra Castle, Granada, Spain

Alhambra Castle, Granada, Spain

Travel adventures

Over the subsequent years, I have experienced many wonderful times. Some of this has related to travel. I have been free to enjoy the delights of Thailand, Nepal (see the photo above of Ama Dablam, just a few miles from Everest), enigmatic Ethiopia, mesmerising Morocco and scintillating Spain. My wife and I have also travelled extensively in Australia in that time. We are planning more travel in the coming years. I have written about many of my adventures on my travel site called Trevor’s Travels.

Writing

After I had recovered sufficiently from my ill-health, I set about establishing my second career as a writer. I had always been a writer, but my writing was confined to weekends and school holiday periods. In the 1990s I actually published six books; two teacher curriculum books with four accompanying student workbooks, all of them sadly now out of print.

On my son’s encouragement, I started writing three blogs, this one you are now reading, plus Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels. I would love it if you visited them and left some comments. Both sites feature hundreds of photos of Australian birds and scenery shots of places we have visited. In total, with these three sites and two other sites I write for, I have published nearly 5000 articles since retiring. I feel tired just typing that!

During my retirement, I have also written several – as yet unpublished – novels and picture book texts, along with dozens of articles, short stories and poems. (Click on the sidebar to read some of my poems and stories.) Nearly 100 of these stories and poems have been published in a range of newspapers, journals and magazines.

Masters Degree

Not content with just writing all of these blog posts, novels, stories and poems, a few years ago I also completed my degree. I now have a Master of Arts in Creative Writing. You can read about that process here. This has led to some lecturing and speaking at conferences. What I learned during this course has equipped me to tackle some earlier novels I wrote back in the 1990s. I am now in the process of rewriting them. Stayed tuned; I hope to publish these very soon.

What’s missing?

On occasions, people ask me if I ever miss teaching. It’s a very valid question, especially in the light of a lifetime – 35 years – in the classroom. The short answer is ‘no’. I do not miss the long hours of preparation, marking and professional reading required. I do not miss the unending staff meetings and the politics of the staff-room. I do not miss the parents who make life hard for teachers to do their job; thankfully I experienced very few of them.

I do miss the children. I do miss seeing children develop their skills, especially children like Jennifer. She astounded me with the progress she made under my care and guidance.

I do miss building relationships with children and seeing them go on successfully in life. I actually keep a list of successful former students, following their careers.

And above all, I miss the fact that they all used to laugh at my ‘dad jokes’. Now my longsuffering wife is generally my only audience, though my 8-year-old grandson thinks I am hilarious.

What next?

It’s time to roll out a list of what I hope to do in the coming years:

  • Many more blog posts here on this site, and the other sites I mentioned above.
  • Continue on a wide-ranging reading programme, something all writers should do.
  • Rewrite and publish as eBooks my novels, collections of stories and poems.
  • Publish as eBooks several non-fiction books as spin-offs from my blogs.
  • Write more novels; I have ideas for at least six more. Coming up with ideas is easy; writing the books is hard.
  • Continue to travel here in Australia as health and finances allow.

Mmm… looks like I have a busy time ahead.

Good reading,

Good writing.

Trevor

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Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

On writing one’s memoirs

Image result for pictures of memoirs

Confusion

In beginning to write on this topic, I must admit to something of a dilemma and a little confusion. I am quite clear about what an autobiography is, as well as a biography and I have read quite a few in each of those categories. What, therefore, is one’s memoirs? And what should one cover when writing one’s memoirs?

Does it cover every aspect of one’s life – no, that has to be a biography. Biographies cover life to death events – and everything in between, often in chronological order. What I am working on is less than everything I have ever done, or the major events anyway. Many of the mundane happenings in my life are of little or no interest to anyone, even my closest family members. I suspect it would be very boring, except for the odd exciting and interesting event.

A special request

Several months ago my eight-year-old grandson was asking me a whole range of questions about when I was young. This probably came from discussions he had in class at school. We have frequent and long conversations on the phone every few days. Because he lives in Sydney, about 1400 kilometres away (or two days’ drive), this is our main means of keeping in touch and getting to know one another. He has been asking plenty of questions about my early days. It was his interest which motivated me to start recording some of my experiences as a child, and as a young person growing up.

Family interest

While the things I am including in my memoirs are of interest primarily to my grandson, there is also the potential for other family members to be interested in reading such a work. I know that my daughter and my son have both expressed an interest, but my five year old granddaughter is probably not there yet. She has too many other things filling her head. She only started school a few weeks ago. There would also be some of my nephews and nieces who might also be interested, and possibly even my brothers. Beyond that, a few odd friends may have a little interest – but they would have to be quite ‘odd’ indeed.

What to include?

The beauty of memoirs, as opposed to an autobiography, is the subject matter which is included. Biographical writing tends to cover the whole range of events in one’s life, with a special emphasis on the major influences and achievements. In memoirs, however, one can ignore some of the otherwise significant periods of a life, and instead focus on some of the minor snippets, incidents and insights which have become memorable to the subject and have somehow had a profound influence on them. Memoirs can be more of a series of isolated snapshots, rather than a broad, panoramic movie. They are reflections and reminiscences rather than all inclusive biographical records.

While have read a few memoirs, biographies and autobiographies in my time, it is a genre I have not really delved into in depth. I recently came across a wonderful resource, a list of the 100 Must Read Memoirs. I am pleased that I have read several of the titles on this list, I have seen the movie of at least one of them, and several others are on my yet-to-read pile of books.

Recommendations

Please feel free to recommend any memoirs, autobiographies or biographers in the comments. I am always looking for more titles to add to that rapidly growing Must Read list, and to that mighty Waiting-to-be-read pile.

Good reading. Happy, productive writing.

Trevor

Further Reading: