Writers Dabblers and Dreamers

Hey, all you emerging writers out there. This is serious stuff. Tired of the garret lifestyle, the self-imposed deadlines you never meet. Well, you could blame that Covid-19 thingy but you need to get moving again. Actually you really need to get moving…

Go for a walk, think over your future options.

You are not really looking for fame and fortune (cough) but it would be nice for someone to show some interest, read your work, comment on it, appreciate it, encourage you and, perhaps maybe, take your manuscript one or two steps further, or even work towards (gasp) publication.

Twill never happen if those pages and pages of Word.doc and PDF drafts sit idle or continual rewriting takes up all your time; your precious creative time.

The Magic of Books © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

You need to be actively finishing work and getting it out there, but

Your inner voice mutters alluring proposals about buying that new How To Write book, the literary organisations to join, writing workshops and conferences to attend, the obligatory book festival rounds, catching up with your book club Zoomies, and that not-to-be-missed favourite author talk.

The above-mentioned diversions take planning, I know because I have done that for over five years. Let’s not get into the time-sucking Socials and lists of new books waiting to be read because writers “gotta keep their finger on the pulse”.

Dream-on pen pushers and keyboard tappers

It took me awhile to realise that it is a daydream, a distraction, a cunning brain slip to lull me into thinking that I know my craft reasonably well and could be half good at writing…

Design art and image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My writer’s brain has to accept that it takes courage to submit my work and to undergo scrutiny.

Otherwise, as my aunt Joyce would have said, “All window-dressing, darling” or if you prefer something more contemporary “Totally photoshopped, dude.” It means I am concealing the desire to find out the truth about my writing, the culmination of my creative energy.

This is where the hidden “I can’t push myself out there” syndrome rears its ugly head. “I only write as an outlet”, “I only write for myself” blah, blah, blah.

Snap out of it! I ask myself why not submit something really good, work I am proud of?

Then my inner roadblocks appear

  • Strong competitors
  • Heaps of knockbacks
  • Fearful of feedback
  • Uninteresting story
  • Uninterested readers
  • My lack of polish
  • People will know I wrote it
  • The veracity of my stories
  • Nightmare of unsold books

All useless babble; but if it’s not true, what next?

Stop hanging around! You have many choices, one decision—

Praying Mantis © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Do what author Jack Roney did!

Enter a manuscript development prize!

As a second-place winner of Hawkeye Publishing’s Manuscript Development Prize, Jack Roney pays tribute to the Hawkeye team. I recently read and reviewed his excellent book The Ghost Train and The Scarlet Moon.

Like mine, I hope your writer’s brain is tick, tick, ticking—
Thinks “I’ll take a look at Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize 2022
Thinks “I’ll read eligibility and terms and conditions of entry”
Shouts “I WILL enter the Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize 2022!”

Entry to the program is open to applicants WORLD-WIDE who write for an English-speaking audience.

Winner receives Author Coaching, Structural Edit and Line Edit (Prize Value AU$2,500) with the structural edit kindly sponsored by Brisbane Writers Workshop, and line editing and author coaching sponsored by Hawkeye Publishing.

As my favourite inspirational quote says:

“Today You Can And You Will”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Mary Poppins and Folks Boppin’ at Maryborough Festival

Here is my pictorial of the Mary Poppins Festival 2022 in Maryborough, Queensland, where Helen Lyndon Goff (better known as Pamela Lyndon Travers) grew up with no inkling of her wonderful life ahead as an author and creator of a children’s literary icon.

Here are some of the fabulous people who made the whole day magical and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Next showing the historical side… more info on Mary Ann steam locomotive https://www.maryboroughwhistlestop.org.au/

Special buildings and ye olde shops were open, roads were closed, hot food stalls did a roaring trade, and there were nanny and chimney sweep races. The final parade was a sight to behold, everyone had happy smiles!

Below is the childhood home of P L Travers, formerly a bank (her father was the bank manager) which is now a beautifully preserved, interactive tribute to her writing career.

Mary Poppins Statue in Maryborough

The first window below echoes the words of author P L Travels while further on is the window of the family library in the corner of the building… oh, and there’s Mary Poppins…

After a meal, live music and a quick look at Phillips Botanical Gardens, next came chalk street art, a visit to the calm atmosphere of the Art Gallery and a bit of history found under the paint and framed.

Landmark photos below give an idea of early Maryborough, finishing with a late afternoon stroll alongside the Mary River.

I have a great desire to return and explore further. These snapshots were taken over the course of a day and do not encompass the diversity of the event nor the city and colonial past of the Maryborough region.

Mark you calendar for next year!

My previous post has more written info
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2022/07/09/mary-poppins-and-five-years-of-blogging/

Just loved the poster below and had to include it…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward
https://www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au/
Detail from Mary Poppins Festival publicity showing a drawing of the Admiral’s canon. During the festival a real canon was fired. Please note the Disney movie “Saving Mr Banks” starring Tom Hanks is fabrication and, apart from being filmed entirely in California USA, in my opinion it bears little resemblance to the true facts of author P L Travers life.

Scarlet Stiletto Awards and Young Writers Award 2022

It’s that time of year again!

The Scarlet Stiletto Awards – the 29th – are now open so it’s time to start polishing your short story or at least fire up the computer/sharpen that pencil.

A record $12,365 in prizes is on offer and this year’s Writers Victoria Award for the story with the ‘Most Satisfying Retribution’ now offers a choice of an online course worth $215 – start writing!

To download an entry form and list of FAQs, go here.

To pay the entry fee go here.

To submit the pdf, email here.

Make your crime (story) rewarding!

AND THERE’S MORE—

Do you know someone aged 18-25 who loves to write?

State Library of Queensland’s Young Writers Award is now open.

They are looking for inspiring, vivid and bold short stories by Queensland writers aged 18-25. Whether you’re just starting out or already making your mark as a writer, your creative work could win $2,000 and be published in the Griffith Review.

Have the chance to see your story published and win cash.

Enter your best work by Monday​ 15 August 2022, 5 pm.

The Young Writers Award is free to enter! To apply, submit a short story of up to 2,500 words.

First prize is $2000 and up to three runners-up will receive $500. 

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TIP: Always read the submission guidelines.

NOTE: I am no longer affiliated with either organisation although years ago I entered their competitions. I didn’t hear back but really enjoyed the experience and I encourage all writers to stretch their emotions and imaginations and start writing – now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Mary Poppins and Five Years of Blogging

I never thought I would last this long and still be interested in blogging the miscellaneous bits and pieces which make up my literary life.

Over the last five years I have written, read, liked, followed, commented and corresponded with many other bloggers around the world. It is such informative fun, thanks everybody, and I look forward to continuing.

This is me formatting a new blog post © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

What have I got to show for it? To answer that question, a look through my Archive List is required. Select a category from the drop-down menu.

Meanwhile, I have just returned from a holiday in Maryborough (an historic Queensland town – actually the whole region is pretty special) and one of the highlights was attending the Mary Poppins Festival in the birthplace of her creator, author P L Travers. Many will remember the Disney version of her famous book.

Naturally I did heaps of things and took heaps of photos, so once they are curated I will be posting a travel pictorial. “Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee” there is more to see.

Mary Poppins in Maryborough where it all started https://www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au/

Unfortunately it had been raining for several days when we left Brisbane and headed north with no sign of letting up. The journey to Maryborough, situated inland from the Fraser Coast region, is about 250km and it rained the whole way; it was still raining when we arrived.

The next day was the Mary Poppins Festival and a huge amount of outdoor activities with most people in costume. Lo and behold, the rain stopped! The whole day was fine and sunny. You guessed it, the next day it bucketed down again!

WordPress 5 Year Anniversary July 2022

If I go prepared, rain is a novelty for me. I took an old family umbrella with frills around it. But when the wind blows cold (it is winter here in Australia) it’s not much fun hanging onto a brolly unless you are Mary Poppins. Her classic silhouette, in glowing red then bright green, blinks and beeps as pedestrians cross at traffic lights.

Anyway, the itinerary held good. We achieved our goals, seeing interesting sights (the Mary River curves around the town and there were a number of yachts moored), strolled through art galleries and parks, antique shops, City Hall, the library, the historic Story Bank museum, and ate local produce including pizza in the skate park after dark. We met friendly, welcoming and relaxed people, and waved vigorously at the Mary Ann steam locomotive as it huffed and puffed down the tracks. A different way of life…

Enjoy more pictorial highlights of my Maryborough visit:

https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2022/07/26/mary-poppins-and-folks-boppin-at-maryborough-festival/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Author Overview: Helen Lyndon Goff (author P L Travers) was born and grew up in Maryborough, Queensland, before being sent to boarding school in Sydney NSW. Her writing was first published when she was a teenager. Later she worked briefly as a journalist and a professional Shakespearean actress. As author P L Travers, Goff wrote many children’s stories, non-fiction and collections, and lived a varied yet personal life. Wikipedia entry reads “In a 1977 interview on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs, Travers remarked about the Disney film, “I’ve seen it once or twice, and I’ve learned to live with it. It’s glamorous and it’s a good film on its own level, but I don’t think it is very like my books.”

All Gloom and Doom?

Thoughts Become Words on a White Board © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

A DEPRESSING LIST

OR SOMETHING TO WORK ON

FOR A BETTER FUTURE?

Our Belloo Creative playwriting tutor Katherine Lyall-Watson asked us to suggest issues of importance to today’s society, issues which affect us all and need addressing. As we called out our single words, strong topics emerged to write about, and to heighten awareness for the future.

Founded by four women in 2013, Belloo Creative creates original new works fusing body and text. The Co-Artistic Directors of Belloo are Caroline Dunphy and Dr Katherine Lyall-Watson.

Belloo creates innovative, inclusive and experiential work including transcultural content.

Belloo delivers content globally across artforms that inspire imagination, collaboration and change.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Cake, candle, birthday or bomb? The world is ticking… © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Happy New Year 2022

Dust off the old year and brighten up the new year 2022 @ Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wishing you all a clearer, brighter, fresher New Year 2022.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I have enjoyed reading yours!

And books.

Here’s to another year of literary endeavour.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

* * * * * * *

Preview of my forthcoming Agapanthus post “From Buds to Bundles of Blooms on Sticks” @ Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Entries now open Stringybark Short Story Award 2022

This alluring information comes from The Black Stump, a Stringybark Stories newsletter, with reference to their Stringybark flagship open-themed short story award which commenced 15 November 2021 and closes 13 February 2022. Plenty of time? Maybe polish that special draft…

… and the world keeps turning… © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Stringybark Short Stories are open to Australian and international authors of all skill levels.

While the Stringybark Short Story Award 2022 is open-themed, your submission does require some reference to Australia.

The size of this reference doesn’t matter says Stringybark Stories. It could be a mention of a Vegemite sandwich, or the fact that Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. The story could be set in Australia or have an Australian in it. Stringybark doesn’t mind. Even a discussion on the habits of ‘drop bears’ is okay with them.

Head over to the Stringybark Bookshop and get inspired by some great short stories from their past anthologies. Please note Stringybark Short Story Award is not accepting poetry or illustrated tales.

Stringybark Stories have over AU$1000 in cash and books to award the winners, as well as publication in a paperback and ebook. The entry fee is the same as last year — AU$14 with discounts for multiple entries.

INFORMATION BELOW please check Stringybark Stories website thoroughly for details:

Enter https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html

Conditions https://www.stringybarkstories.net/competitions/entry-conditions.html

Subscribe to The Black Stump Stringybark Stories newsletter here.

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Stringybark Stories Hints and Tips on Entering their Awards…

“Don’t let potential problems affected the likely success of your entry. The comments provided here are relevant for all short story competitions — not just Stringybark ones.”

1. Never put your name on your story. Put it on the entry form (a Stringybark requirement) or on a separate page.
2. Follow the formatting requirements. All competitions describe how they want your entry to look. We explain our requirements here.
3. Try and ensure that your entry and your payment are made as close together as possible. That is, don’t pay your entry and then submit your story a month later. It makes administration very tricky. It’s always best to do both together.
4. Related to number 3 above, if you are paying by Direct Deposit (and we love entrants who do) please remember to put your surname in the reference field so we can marry your entry and your payment.
5. Ensure that your story meets the theme of the competition!

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Tempting isn’t it?! I’ve a story in mind and this is just the incentive I need.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Footnote

“Any entry in any short story writing award must meet the specified wordcount.

It can be under but never over the word limit”

Lucy V Hay ‘Criminally Good’ Advice

After reading Lucy V Hay’s two informative books “Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays” and “How NOT to Write Female Characters” the next logical step was to subscribe to her website and learn more.

The first thing I noticed was that Lucy is very active and her site holds a plethora of information. Then I was delighted to receive a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories, three of Lucy’s short stories titled “In Plain Sight”, “Killing Me Softly” and “Hell and High Water”, twisters which certainly pack a psychological punch.

Here’s what it says on her website—

Lucy is an author and script editor, living in Devon with her husband, three children and six cats. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015) both starring Danny Dyer. See Lucy’s IMDB page HERE and other movies and short films she’s been involved in, HERE.

In addition to script reading and writing her own novels, Lucy also blogs about the writing process, screenwriting, genre, careers and motivation and much more at her blog Bang2write, one of the most-hit writing sites in the UK. Sign up for updates from B2W and receive a free 28 page ebook (PDF) on how NOT to write female characters, HERE or click the pic on her website.

For more scriptchat, leads and links, join Lucy’s online writing group, Bang2writers. It’s something I am going to explore further!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

ADDENDUM—For a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories and more, join Lucy’s EMAIL LIST—My post heading comes from the title of Lucy’s email CRIMINALLY GOOD where she interviews fellow crime writers and asks them five questions.  She says “It’s fascinating to read their answers, especially as they are all so different!”  Today I have the choice of Ian Rankin, Sophie Hannah or Peter James. GBW. 

A Novel is Not a Screenplay

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To assist the modification from page to screen by meeting the market half-way, writers are chasing the more lucrative side of wordsmithing by hammering out books which have the actions, expressions and dialogue of movie characters.

If you are dreaming of seeing your work as a major motion picture, professional screenwriters can adapt existing books, hence the words ‘based on’ when you view a book-to-movie deal.

Read on for my thoughts on the situation…

Film Camera Lights Action Movie

Good news for the future of the film industry but what about the book industry?

Should a writer write a novel similar to a filmscript?  I guess if you are determined enough you can learn, but what are you sacrificing along the way?  Formatting is important; not too much, not too little.  Your characters will be noticeably shallower, the scenery will be sketchy and the action will be like every TV series you have ever watched.

Bend to a market whim?  What makes the difference is being different!  With or without a movie contract, if you write in a hybrid format, your novel has less chance of standing amongst the notables of your decade.  I’ve read several amalgams in the last month.  Believe me, it shows.

Film Cameraman Movie Camera

In my opinion, there is a market for the TV-ready book/screen blend of writing but it is light-weight and not the same as solid, descriptive, memorable words which feed a book reader’s imagination.

And herein lies the problem.  There are eager new readers just the same as in the past, but now they are looking for ‘movie action’ because they have grown up with on-demand screens.  Substance is not as favourable, skimming is the name of the game.

Again, I say this is a disservice to the reader as well as the book industry.

It’s a long haul and immediate gain for the primary writer is unlikely.  Say a director/producer likes your work, every page you have written means extra money is needed in production and, as we know, the financial aspect rules.  Gone are the days of blockbuster world success—think LOTR or J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Film Clapper Board Movie

Durability is the name of the game.  You can find countless info and advice on writing a screenplay or TV script and if you want to do it you will—bearing in mind that any formula has restrictions, your manuscript will not resemble the finished product.

Look closely at Michael Connelly and other writers who have made the transition, in particular their previous jobs.  They will have ‘connections’, they will move house ‘to be closer to their work’, they will have ‘legal advice’, an abundance of ‘good luck’, an ‘understanding family’ and other clichés but not the words ‘smooth sailing’.

Write with your heart, write something strong and original, write a standalone which shines with your own unique qualities.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Mother’s Day Stories & Poems Wanted

Valentine's Day 11

Exactly what we need in these days of social-distancing!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Positive Words Magazine

I’m looking for story and poetry submissions for the May issue. A nice way to honour a special person at a time when we might not be able to visit…

Mothers, grandmothers, daughters who have children of their own, special aunts and friends…send them in 🙂

Positive Words magazine

PO Box 798

Heathcote 3523 Victoria

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My Sisters-in-Crime Membership Card

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I kept the postage stamp but the envelope has been recycled.

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 Crime Logo 03 2019Sisters-in-Crime is 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.

Maybe next year <sigh>

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Winners Society of Women Writers and Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition 2019

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!


 

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Prizes:

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)

Three Commended:

‘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)


Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding Pencil
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 would like to thank the President and Committee of  Society of Women Writers Queensland Inc and acknowledge author Estelle Pinney for her ongoing encouragement via this competition.  It is a morale boost to have my work recognised and financially rewarded.

In the spirit of giving, I have donated my prize money back to the Society.  It may help a new member, or go towards a workshop at Bribie Island Writers Retreat, or perhaps an event with cake!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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Society of Women Writers Qld Inc

Not So Secret Society of Women Writers

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—

Society of Women Writers Qld IncThe 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.

The Beginning

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.

Postal Magazines

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

Bribie Island Jetty at Bongaree
Bribie Island

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.

Writers Retreat

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

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.

For further information please contact the Secretary
secretary@womenwritersqld.org.au
or visit their website http://womenwritersqld.org.au

My Journey

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward 

The Rose and The Thorn by Indrani Ganguly 2019 01Flash Fiction Virginia Miranda Volume One

Author or Businesswoman? The Story Behind Girl and Duck

Real world experience and advice from a published author with dedication, sincerity and passion for sharing her craft.
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Who is this wonder woman? Read on…

girl and duck

This week at girl and duck, we opened The Scribbles Academy. It’s been super exciting and lots of people have jumped on board.

Thank you!!!! I know you’re going to love your Scribbly experience!

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But how did this all begin?

What’s the real story behind girl and duck?

I wrote about this a couple of years back. But, in those early days, I was more interested in talking about the community. How passionate it was and how it seemed to sprout from nowhere.

More time has passed and now I want to go deeper. I want you, dear reader, to know exactly how I began my online business.

How and why I started it. And who was there to help me.

Ding Ding Ding! Multiple Income Streams!

Back in 2011, it occurred to me that I might NEVER make a liveable income from writing. No matter how many books…

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My ‘Commuter Scene’ in The Drabble

Delighted to be Drabbled! Love the accompanying photo, just wish I was as glamorous as this young woman Gretchen Bernet-Ward.

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By Gretchen Bernet-Ward

It’s nauseating. I usually don’t read on public transport. Sentences sway like a line of melting ants. I look out the bus window, watching cars whoosh along one level, trains on another. Soon train tracks swoop down, crossing the road. Ding, ding, ding, shrills the signal. A teenager ducks under the falling boom gate and sprints across the tracks. Impatient, foolish. Two seconds between life and resembling dog vomit. Platform security guards move in. The teenager projects nonchalance then slumps onto a metal seat. The bus moves off and my eyes fall to the formicine words.

           
“The written word has been a big part of my work-life, never for personal fulfillment. The birth of my blog activated the joyous freedom of self-expression. I use public transport and, oh, the things I’ve seen …” – the author

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THAT is a Stupid Word

THAT debate rages on.  THAT is an overused, unnecessary word, a redundant filler which bulks out your manuscript and changes just about anything into THAT nothingness.

Increasingly, ambiguous THAT is being used instead of ‘who’ and ‘which’ or more descriptive words to introduce a defining clause.  This is happening universally in writing today; THAT is slowing and neutralising sentences.

Seven examples where THAT is incorrect or useless, write your own, you get my drift:

  1. She said that it was in her best interest – delete.
  2. They walked down the stairs that are rather grand – use which.
  3. He visits the koala that he sponsors – delete.
  4. Judy thinks Angela is the sort of woman that enjoys tennis – use who.
  5. He assumed that they all wanted to singalong with him – delete.
  6. It takes a minute to realise that Sue is talking – delete.
  7. Tom has to tell her that her dog has been stolen – OK-ish.

A pronoun is a word taking the place of a noun.  THAT is a demonstrative pronoun and used in the right context it has a legitimate reason to exist, e.g. ‘That’s a good idea’.

That Word That Deleted

It is perfectly valid when THAT appears in character dialogue, but when a writer indiscriminately uses THAT in other areas of their work, I find it needlessly clunky.

Of course, you can change a passive voice to an active voice, or use the rule ‘Who is a person, THAT is an object’.  Remember ‘Who, what, when, where, why’ to help you decide.

On the other hand, there’s always exceptions.  Use your own discretion as to where you like or don’t like THAT, and where THAT actually does fit in your sentence.  Once you become aware of THAT, you will probably get rid of it unless you use American English.

CHALLENGE 

  • Read through text or a draft you have written in the last month.
  • Check for how many time you use the word THAT.
  • Are you surprised at your usage?
  • Could you use a more expressive word than THAT?
  • Could you condense your word count by omitting THAT?
  • Read a novel or document and watch for THAT exploitation.

IMG_20190513_111412Like me, not everyone has a degree in English grammar, check further:
https://www.bkacontent.com/avoid-overusing-word-writing/
https://www.thefreedictionary.com/List-of-pronouns.htm
https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/09/07/that-who-which/

If there’s a ‘Ditch THAT’ campaign running, I will sign up!

Why?  Because current literary exertion is being spent on THAT, an overworked and superfluous word.  What more can I say about THAT?  Or, what more can I say?

‘That’s all, folks’

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Scribbles Masterclass 2019

One of my favourite contemporary children’s writers is Jen Storer.  Wise, warm and wonderful, Jen imparts her wealth of knowledge on Girl and Duck online with Scribbles courses, Questions and Quacks videos, Facebook live sessions and a yearly Masterclass.

Here is a letter from Jen Storer


Scribbles Masterclass Logo 2019

Scribbles Masterclass 2019

Dear Children’s Literature Creators,

KidLit Vic is fast approaching and so is the annual Scribbles Masterclass!

  • Scribbles Masterclass
  • 4.1 Hayden Raysmith Room
  • Ross House
  • 247 Flinders Lane (That’s right. Across the street from Brunetti!) Melbourne Australia
  • Friday 24 May 2019
  • 2pm – 5pm

Note: This year we have a SECRET special guest joining us!

If you would like to join me (and my special guest), please CLICK HERE to book your place by Wednesday, 15 May 2019 10pm (AEST).  There are still a few spots left.

IMPORTANT:  You do not have to be attending KidLit Vic Melbourne in order to join the Masterclass.  We are not affiliated, we just time it that way because lots of Scribblers are in town!

Stay scribbly!

Jen Storer
Children’s Author and Chief Inspirationalist at Girl and Duck.com*


Scribbles Masterclass Information 2019*Girl and Duck is a flourishing online community of emerging and established children’s literature creators (authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, designers and enthusiasts) with members from all over Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Europe.

Learn more about Duckies, Scribblers, writers and illustrators:
https://girlandduck.com/

Click to BOOK your Masterclass 2019 place NOW.  I know first-hand it’s a fun learning experience.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Scribbles Masterclass Melbourne May 2019 Panel
Girl and Duck ‘Scribbles’ Masterclass panel featuring Jen Storer, Lucinda Gifford and Judith Rossell, May 2019 Melbourne Australia.

Travel Tribute to H V Morton and Wales

This faded old book jumped out at me.  I believe interconnections exist everywhere in many forms but none so strongly as with books.

I spied this hardback ‘In Search of Wales’ by H.V. Morton, with sixteen illustrations and a map, resting on one of the tables at UQ Alumni Book Fair.  It was published by Methuen & Co. Ltd London in 1932 and purchased by the Parliamentary Library in Queensland, Australia, on 27 July 1932.  My photographs don’t convey the substance of this volume.

Apart from my purchase giving me a tenuous Queensland connection, since I have been blogging I have come to know bloggers from Wales like Book Jotter, and people with ties to Wales, so I guess I was curious to find out some early 20th century history.

There is a city named Ipswich, west of the capital Brisbane, Queensland, and it has Welsh heritage from the founding families, the legacy of coal mines, and street names I can’t pronounce.  It was going to be our capital city but being situated inland away from sea ports (and always hotter in summer) Brisbane took over the coveted position.

When I look at the B&W images in this book, I can’t help but feel strong emotion for those Welsh families, the people who came to Queensland in 1851 and started afresh.  Whether it was out of necessity, assisted passage, general interest or just sheer bravery, it was a long way to come to start a new life in a totally different land.

The three photos (below) are 1. Cornfields, 2. Druid ceremony conducted by the Archdruid at the Gorsedd Stone, 3. Cockle women of Penclawdd on the seashore.  It looks cold!  Throughout there are two-page spreads of dramatic valleys, stoney castles and heartbreaking portraits of mining men and soot-covered boys.

My new old book was deleted from the Old Parliament Library catalogue on 22 October 1996 and I wondered where it had been since then.  ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I am enjoying it now on 10 May 2019’.  Then I saw a small pencilled Dewey notation on the back cover map UL914.29 Mor.  It had probably languished in the University Library.

As yet I haven’t tracked down all the details of author, Henry Vollam Morton, and even though he was a well-known journalist and travel writer, the information in the final pages doesn’t give much away.  There is an insightful personal comment (photo below) which ends with three tiny icons, perhaps foreshadowing today’s social media links.

Further material tells me that the author’s book ‘…is more than a travel book, it is a sensitive interpretation of a country’s people and their history.’  He wrote a series called ‘The Search Books’ and further along it reads ‘Since that time Mr Morton’s gay and informative travels…have gained him thousands of readers.’

At this late stage, a book review would be rather tricky—okay, it would be hard for me to get my head around.  H.V. Morton travels far and wide through Wales and writes in depth.  The voice, the style of that era (nicer than brash Bill Bryson) is easy to read and written in a friendly, personal way with warmth in every chapter.  Allowing for the off-key words we don’t use today, there is factual information and humorous stories, and in Chapter Six he asks the usual traveller’s question and receives a great reply—

“The first village, commonly and charitably called Llanfair, provides the stranger with an impossible task among the Welsh place-names.
Its title is: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch

This is no joke.  It is only too true!  The full name, however, is never used but it appears only slightly amputated in the Ordnance Survey maps.
The postal name is Llanfair P.G. or Llanfairpwll.

I entered the first inn and said to those who were drinking in the bar ‘I will buy anyone a drink who can pronounce the full name of this place.’
There was an ominous silence until an old man, finishing his beer, stood up and sang it!

‘And what does it mean?’ I asked.
‘It means,’ I was told, ‘the Church of St Mary in a wood of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and near St Tysilio’s cave close to a red cave’.” 

Sounds magical to me.  Daith yn hapus!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190509_132036
Another beautiful coincidence – it is not springtime in Australia, it is cool autumn weather. Yet these daffodils, a Welsh symbol, were outside my local supermarket the day after I purchased the book at UQ Alumni Book Fair.

Further reading from Niall Taylor, Glastonbury, England, and HVM Society
https://hvmorton.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/great-british-car-journeys/

Synopsis Writing for Your Novel – Advice from Senior Editor

Synopsis

Poetry Clipart 13The 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.

 

First Page

Poetry Clipart 08Read 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!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward 


✏  Give it a go!

Why Writers Write

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!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


I Only Need This To Write 01
“All I Need To Write” by Grant Snider – A room with a view, No other work to do, A child-proof lock, A ticking clock, Natural light, A chair that fits just right, New paper and pens, Some animal friends, The right phase of the moon, Ambient tunes, A world of my creation, Or internal motivation – http://www.incidentalcomics.com/



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.


Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding Pencil

EAGER FOR MORE LITERARY INSIGHTS?
Frank McKinley, author and writing coach, also raised the question—-
https://www.frankmckinleyauthor.com/54-writers-love-writing/