What can you see? What can you surmise from this scene? Is it in suburbia or the mountains or maybe near the sea?
Can you name the trees? Or guess the potted plants? What time of day, or time of year, do you think the photograph was taken?
And who might live there? Who owns those gumboots?
You could write a short story about someone who walks out onto this balcony. Perhaps it’s the home of the Capulet family? There is a good reason why Juliet walks out onto a balcony.
Valentine’s Day is nearly here! Imagine an alternate ending. A happy, sad, good, bad or exciting scene… Writers, write about it in your own hand! Put it in an envelope and present it to your loved one.
❤️ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Postscript: I will write my own version on traditionally the most romantic day of the year 14th February 2022.
How is this for the personal touch!Sisters-in-Crime mailed a white 9×4 envelope with my address neatly printed on it and a postage stamp stuck in the corner. The stamp, if you are interested, commemorates 50 years since the moon landing. Australia had a hand in the Apollo 11 lunar module ‘Eagle’ landing on the moon.
Back to the goodies in the envelope:
A welcome letter from Carmel, Secretary & National Co-convenor.
Diary Dates and information on 26th Scarlet Stiletto Awards.
Leaflet for ‘Murder She Wrote’ Readers and Writers Festival to be held in Tasmania under the title ‘Terror Australis’ .
Bookmark stating all the wonderful things Sisters-in-Crime can offer me.
Info on bookshop discounts, panels, discussions, debates, tours, launches, festivals.
And, of course, my Membership Card!
Every department store in the world wants to give you a plastic card but this is a Crime Card. Not plastic; written on by hand; the nostalgic beauty of it.
Who or what are the Sisters-in-Crime? Let me fill you in—
Sisters-in-Crimeis a world-wide organisation but the Australian chapter was launched at the Feminist Book Festival in Melbourne in September 1991, inspired by the American organisation of the same name, which was founded in 1986 by Sara Paretsky (creator of Chicago PI VI Warshawski) and other women crime writers at the Bouchercon crime convention. Members are authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians bound by their affection for the mystery genre and their support of women who write mysteries. Chapters currently meet in Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane. The Melbourne chapter holds very regular events and partners with festivals, libraries and other organisations.
There are annual crime-writing competitions, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards (big prize money) and the Davitt Awards for the best crime books by Australian women published in the previous year.
I missed ‘Murder She Wrote’, the readers and writers Terror Australis Festival in Huon Valley, Tasmania, from 31 October to 5 November 2019. It was jam-packed with amazing stuff; panel sessions, masterclasses, Hall of Writers, book launches, Murder Mystery Dinner, etc. Hear my teeth gnashing…
I am currently reading‘Dead Man Switch’ by Tara Moss and she attended the Festival. Quote ‘I would kill to be at the Terror Australis Festival, but thankfully I was invited so I won’t need to.’ – Tara Moss, author.
Congratulations to the successful writers listed below. I am still dazed at my accomplishment, a double dip! The two short stories I submitted have been close to my heart for some time and it is truly wonderful to have them recognised.
The Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is Australia-wide and I am the only member of Society of Women Writers Queensland to win honours this year. Such a privilege!
1st Prize: ‘Baby’ by Jean Flynn (Victoria)
2nd Prize: ‘Tram 86’ by Melanie Persson (Western Australia)
3rd Prize: ‘Remnants of Miriam’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)
Three Highly Commended:
‘One Hundred Year Old Feet’ by Margaret Ogilvie (South Australia)
‘Mero in the Library’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)
‘Not Everything is Cut & Dry’ by Maree Gallop (New South Wales)
‘Portraits’ by Megan Hippler (Queensland)
‘The Lies of Love’ by Jo Mularczyk (New South Wales)
‘The Birthday Present’ by Lynne Geary (Victoria)
(Award certificates below)
The competition judge, Lauren Daniels, is director of the Brisbane Writers Workshop. Lauren is a qualified editor, author, mentor and trainer of professionals, academics, writers and editors.
I’ve been asked if I belong to a writers group. After reaching saturation point with courses and workshops, I decided to get serious and join a writers group. Currently I am a member of two organisations, Girl and Duck.com and The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc. One real and one virtual, both offering the interaction and motivation I crave.
I also belong to two book clubs, one leaning towards the literary and the other crime, but that’s a whole new blog post. Today my information flow is about—
The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc(SWWQ) which provides an invaluable support network for women writers. Members share comments, feedback, achievements and encouragement, or listen to guest speakers at monthly meetings.
In 1925 the Imperial Press Conference Sydney hosted a conference for Visiting Writers and Journalists from the United Kingdom. At that time women were excluded from the all-male journalists’ club. This led to the wives of the delegates and the invited female delegates forming their own group which became The Society of Women Writers. Thus (Dame) Mary Gilmore, Pattie Fotheringham, Mary Liddell and Isobel Gullett became the four Vice Presidents. Zara Aronson was Honorary Secretary; Agnes Mowie and Blanche d’Alpuget were Honorary Treasurers. Abigail Clancy was one of the founding committee’s fifteen members. In 1982 The Society of Women Writers Queensland was incorporated and Mocco Wollert became their first State President. Di Hill is the current State President.
In 1975 Bridget Godbold felt inspired to start her own group of writers in Queensland. While in Sydney for the Society of Women Writer’s Fiftieth Commemoration, she was asked by their Federal Executive to produce a Queensland postal magazine, based on the success of a Victorian experiment called MURU.
Bridget, with four women from Townsville, Boonah, Kingaroy and Burleigh Heads, created MORIALTA. This Aboriginal word means ‘everflowing’ and epitomised their motto to Keep Thoughts Everflowing into Creative Writing. The first edition of MORIALTA was produced in 1976.
Postal magazines are ideal for isolated writers or those who find it difficult to attend meetings. An electronic newsletter is also available.
The Alice Award
Every two years, since 1978, the Society shares the privilege with other States and awards a non-acquisitive bronze statuette, The Alice, to an Australian woman writer who has made a significant contribution to Australian Literature. Well-known past recipients include, among many others, Nancy Cato, Ruth Park, Kate Grenville, Margaret Scott, Dame Judith Wright, Dame Mary Durack, Jill Shearer, Christobel Mattingley, Susanna des Vries, Dr Claire Wright and Sally Odgers.
Ring of Bright Water
SWWQ’s newsletter Ring of Bright Water is compiled monthly and sent to members either electronically (preferred) or via Australia Post, keeping members updated on upcoming events, competitions, publishing opportunities, members achievements, writing and more.
The Society organises an annual retreat, held in October on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane. Here writers can dedicate quality time to their works-in-progress; join structured workshops; begin new work; discuss writers, writing and books and generally share good times with like-minded people.
Competitions for Short Story, Article and Poetry categories are held each year for members and the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is held annually and is open to Australian women writers over the age of 18.
The Society publishes anthologies of members work occasionally and supports many other literary events in Queensland. SWWQ is affiliated with Society of Women Writers in WA, VIC, NSW, TAS.
I have entered two short stories in the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition which closes Wednesday 31 July 2019. At the moment, I am reading The Rose and The Thorn written by member Indrani Ganguly. After attending a meeting with guest speaker Virginia Miranda, author of Flash Fiction Volume One, I enjoyed the writing exercise she set with picture prompts and I’m all fired up on the joys of flash fiction.
The agony of writing a synopsis! For writers who find it hard to chop their synopsis down to size, this video from Nicola, senior editor of HarperCollins Publishers, steps us through a seamless 500 word synopsis. It will grab that attention your manuscript deserves. And, yes, a synopsis does include plot spoilers.
Read why the first page of a manuscript is so important. Anna Valdinger, HarperCollins commercial fiction publisher knows – she reads a tonne of submissions every year.
Click Importance of Manuscript First Page
The Banjo Prize
HarperCollins is Australia’s oldest publisher and The Banjo Prize is named after Banjo Paterson, Australia’s first bestselling author and poet. His first collection of poems The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses was published in 1895. Who’s up for 2019?
The Banjo Prize is annual and open to all Australian writers of fiction, offering the chance to win a publishing contract with HarperCollins and an advance of AU$15,000. Submit entries via HarperCollins website. Entries opened 25 March 2019 and close 5pm AEST on Friday 24 May 2019. Good luck!
Is acknowledgement a cherished goal? Is reimbursement the final accolade? Or will a writer write regardless?
On a writer’s wishlist, there would have to be the thrill of seeing their name in print. My name under a bold heading on a hardback cover would show that I’ve made it. Throw in a display stand, a book launch with signing table, coffee and cupcakes, and I would be in literary heaven. No doubt hell would follow with the necessary writing of a sequel…
Recently a member of my writers group asked the question “Why do you write?” which seemed innocuous enough but there were vastly different answers—-see below.
My earnest reply went something like “Because I think in words hence the title of my blog. Most things I experience can become a potential story.” I am always mapping out first lines, or an introductory paragraph, or setting the scene. This, however, does not mean I will be traditionally published. I just keep doing it.
I believe a writer’s inner core is made of words and emotions which must be written down.
If I’m undertaking a complex household chore like chopping carrots, I may not jot down a sudden literary gem, but, no matter, I will find myself composing another while out grocery shopping.
For example “See that bloke over there, he’s uncomfortable and he’s trying to get up the nerve to...”
(1) ask the sales assistant out (2) steal that expensive car polish (3) abandon his trolley at the checkout (4) inquire about a job (5) hide behind the refrigerated cabinet to avoid his mother/parole officer/ex-boss or chatty neighbour.
See, I can’t help it!
GENUINE RESPONSES FROM 31 WRITERS WHEN ASKED THE QUESTION “WHY DO YOU WRITE?”
A form of self-expression, the joy of crafting something meaningful.
I write because I can’t imagine my life without writing in it.
I started writing because I wanted to explore my creative side.
Because I can’t dance.
Mostly it’s because I have loads of inspiration and story ideas and I need to write them to get them out of my head!
It sets my soul free and my heart on fire….storytelling is an inextricable part of who I am.
I write because I want to.
I write because ideas, images and words come to me and they seem important to share.
I can’t help it, stories bubble and whirl around in my head all the time.
So I can draw the pictures, to be honest I find writing really tedious – I just want to illustrate.
I do not know why. It just is. And sometimes or often, it isn’t.
Because I like making people laugh and feel other feelings.
I’ve always imagined myself writing one day, but now that I’m finally trying to make it actually happen I’m finding it a lot harder than I expected.
If it’s any help, writing for me is mostly agony.
Starting is great fun…I love cracking the problems.
Because I know how it feels to not create.
Writing is, for me, a personal freedom.
Because I like making things.
Because I think in words, the title of my blog is Thoughts Become Words.
For me it is almost a subconscious act that I’m completely driven to do.
Because I have to, it’s not a want or a need, it’s an in-the-bones thing.
Writing is always there with me, sometimes we’re best of friends, often we’re not.
Cos I have to! I do my best to avoid it, I really do.
Can’t help it.
To put something wonderful out into the world.
It does get easier especially when you get a download in your head.
I think it’s a wonderful form of escapism.
It’s part of me.
At the moment I’d say that writing is a kind of masochism for me.
I love writing and hate it in equal measure.
Because it’s fun and because I find it impossible not to.
“For a consciousness to be capable of imagining…it needs to be free.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘The Imaginary’.
“In a work of fiction, everything is invented, even the things that are not, because once a true event is brought into the realm of the imaginary, it becomes imaginary.” ― Paul Auster, American writer.
“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.” ― Neil Gaiman, ‘The Sandman #19’.
“Creativity is the brain’s invisible muscle that, when used and exercised routinely, becomes better and stronger.” ― Ashley Ormon, writer and poet.
“Living alone, with no one to consult or talk to, one might easily become melodramatic, and imagine things which had no foundation on fact.” ― Agatha Christie, ‘Murder Is Easy’.
“It is only through fiction and the dimension of the imaginary that we can learn something real about individual experience. Any other approach is bound to be general and abstract.” ― Nicola Chiaromonte, Italian author.
Over the years I have read a handful of self-help books aimed at emerging authors, including the iconic Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and famous memoir On Writing by Stephen King, but recently I came across these two quite diverse publications which really gave me a nudge in the right direction.
“Use Your Words” by Catherine Deveny 2016 published by Black Inc. “See Me Jump” by Jen Storer 2016 published by Girl And Duck.
Catherine Deveny’s book is written in plain straight forward language, and she gets right to the heart of the matter. There’s no place to hide once the momentum starts rolling. Be warned, this book is for adults. Catherine uses impolite language and bad manners to push you forward, sometimes against your will. Then you see that glowing light at the end of the tunnel, er, book. Well worth reading this boot-camp style book.
Jen Storer’s book is slim yet informative with small sketches dotted through the pages. Her style is easy, encouraging, friendly and humorous. It’s a book for adults but those with a yearning to write good books for children. Note the chapter 4 heading “Don’t let adults fix your character’s problem” which is a must for kids literature. Many of Jen’s sentences make memorable quotes, my favourite “Be brave. Don’t wait to create.”