Monthly Archives: March 2013

Best Australian Blogs Competition

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Okay, who is entering? Who or should I say whom. Seriously is it who or whom?

The 2013 competition is now open for entries. Entries in the competition will close on Thursday 28 March 2013.

There is over $18,000 worth of prizes, including cash, writing courses and books, to be won by finalists and winners.

You can follow the centre and the competition on Twitter. The hashtag is #bestblogs13

The 2013 winner will receive:
•$1000 in cash
•A one-hour mentoring session with Brandon Van Over, managing editor at Random House, to discuss publishing a book based on their blog or any other writing projects the blogger wishes to discuss.
•$500 worth of books from Random House
$1500 worth of writing courses at the Australian Writers’ Centre

There will also be 5 winners judged as most outstanding in their category. Details of all categories and prizes here.

The Best Australian Blogs Competition has been celebrating the very best of the Australian blogosphere since 2011.

The 2013 competition features:
•Five category winners each with an excellent judge
•A People’s Choice Award round
•Five special awards for outstanding posts or potential.

The Best Australian Blogs Competition is an initiative of the Australian Writers’ Centre. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate, showcase and support the outstanding writing that’s happening in the Australian blogosphere

http://www.writerscentre.com.au/bloggingcomp/index.html

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Liebster Award

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A while back the wonderful Jennifer Zeiger from http://jenniferzeiger.com/ (go check out her blog – DO IT! Shakes fist) was lovely enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award. Hooray. A Liebster Award is basically a lovely nod that a fellow blogger gives you to say, “hey, I like your style.” And I say thank you that is just delightful. The award essentially means that I’m a small blog (depending on which version of events you read the number varies) of less than 200 followers and that Jennifer Zeiger recommends you check me out. In turn I nominate people (11) for the same award, reveal some facts about myself (11), answer (11) questions set by Jennifer Zeiger, and then make up some questions (11) to ask those that I have nominated. Essentially I will do that but a little differently, I’ll do all the questiony, facty, answer stuff, and I’ll list some blogs that I like. The thing is, some will be small, some will be bigger, it is just a list and I don’t want anyone to feel compelled that they must follow along. I would hate for this honour to be viewed as chainmail. So I’ll set 11 questions for those that I “nominate” but they are under no instructions or demand to answer them, or even acknowledge them in any way shape or form. I just thought that this was a nice way to share some blogs I like and also say a great big thank you to Jennifer.

Blogs I Like:
http://jenniferzeiger.com/
http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/
http://www.waltermason.com/
http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/
http://sprteam.wordpress.com/
http://chloeprimealienspacevet.com
http://www.charlottewood.com.au/
http://www.writersjourney.com.au/

11 Facts About Me (AKA Robin Elizabeth):
I am dyslexic
I actually wrote 4 novels in primary school not 2 but because 1 was Babysitter Club fan fic and another Sweet Valley High fan fic, I generally only ever admit to 2. They were the most epic of epic fantasies.
I quite enjoy being a teacher, the students make me laugh pretty much harder than anyone else.
I find most fart jokes funny
I love potatoes. Greatest food ever, you can chipperfy them, bake them, roast them, smother them with a variety of toppings, and so much more. Potatoes are highly under rated.
I grew up in the country but much prefer city living.
I want to have another baby.
I still giggle every time I read about Dick and Fanny in any Enid Blyton book. I am that purile.
I like children’s books as much as adult books.
I am utterly addicted to tea.
If I skip a meal I get overly emotional, cry on the bathroom floor emotional.

Questions Jennifer set me:
1. What inspired your blog?
Truthfully, I did a writing workshop with the amazing Jan Cornall and she suggested I started one and become more social media savvy. She recommended that I take a look at what Walter Mason (Destination Saigon) was doing, so I did and here I am.
2. What are two passions in your life?
Writing and my daughter. What can I say, she is my sunshine.
3. What genre do you prefer to read?
Speculative fiction. I’m an English major and so should probably say literary fiction, but although I do love it I really do prefer spec fic.
4. Who is your favorite author?
Oh great, ask an impossible question!!! Sigh. What to say, how to answer? I guess Alan Dean Foster and Rpald Dahl has had the greatest impact on my own writing, but I do love to read Julian Barnes, but then Kate Forsyth is an excellent teacher, but then again Ian Irvine is so epic, and then there is of course Feist who all fantasy readers must refer to along with Mary Shelley and Tolkien. I can’t answer. I just can’t. There are too many options. I’m sorry. I fail this one.
5. If it’s a rainy saturday, what do you do?
Cuddle my baby girl (I guess my husband too), drink copious amounts of tea, and write.
6. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
The perfect publisher or literary agent who just gets me and wants to work with me and loves my work. Wherever you are, I will find you.

7. To steal one from Joe’s book, if aliens were taking over the world and you could grab one thing, what would it be?
My daughter. My husband can grab himself!
8. Where’s your favorite place in the world?
New South Wales Writers’ Centre’s garden
9. Who is your greatest supporter?
Sigh, my husband.
10. If you won the lottery, what would you do first with it?
Travel Europe
11. What are you currently reading?
“Daughter of the Forest” by Juliet Mariller. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do. Haven’t even finished it yet and am loving it! (Expect a book review from me on this one)

So now for my 11 questions for anyone who wants to play:
What are you wearing?
Why are you wearing it?
What is your favourite thing to cook?
What is your favourite thing to eat?
What is your favourite word/catchphrase/quote?
If you could meet any fictional character which one would it be?
What would you ask them?
If Hollywood were to make a movie of your life who would they get to play you?
What book would you recommend everyone reads?
What do you care about most in this world?
What do you fear most in this world?

Book Review: “The Wild Girl” by Kate Forsyth

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I will do my best to avoid spoilers. I will try to avoid referring to anything too specifically past the first three pages, although of course there will be general reference past this point, for there must be in order to review the whole novel.

Once upon a time there was a young princess who was trapped in a tower. But of course it wasn’t really a tower, it was a hospital, and it wasn’t really a princess it was a little girl. That little girl was Kate Forsyth. Through her time spent in hospitals as a child Kate Forsyth learned about yearning, struggle, and the importance of an imagination. She put that imagination into good use through reading fairy tales and writing her own stories. Now much older (well not MUCH older), Kate Forsyth’s latest novel “The Wild Girl” combines her exquisite story telling abilities and her love of fairy tales.

“The Wild Girl” explores the life of Dortchen Wild, one of the sources that the brothers Grimm used to write their collection of stories. It is a tale of love, exploration, family, hardships and exploration. Kate Forsyth manages to weave a beautiful spell between historical fiction, magic realism and fairy tale, as she tells the tale of Dortchen Wild. From the very first few pages you know that not only will this be historically accurate, with mentions of the palace and customs, but there will also be that beautiful sense of fairy tale magic, with the references to crows and rose thorns. Throughout the entire novel this balance of history and magic is held strong. Small touches such as using the historically accurate, yet fairytalesque (yes, I made up that word but I’m sticking with it) term for Napoleon “The Ogre”, is what makes this book so special.

I won’t spoil it for you by mentioning any more, aside from this is a truly magical book for the lovers of historical fiction, fantasy, magic realism or fairy tale.

Doctor Who Episode Review: Rose

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Warning this review will spoil the episode so don’t read it.
Rose:
The opening was quite promising, reminded me a lot of “Spaceballs’ which we all know is a classic movie. Had a lovely image of Earth with a pretty blue atmospheric shield around it, much like Druidia. And don’t worry my friends because that’s not where the similarities ended. This episode did not disappoint on the slapstick comedy to satisfy Mel Brooks. After a rather mundane start with irritating music there was a scene where a plastic hand attacked The Doctor in the background whilst Rose prattled on in the foreground. It was a scene that even the staunchest “Three Stooges” fan could appreciate. Heck, even the anti-Rose quarter would have been laughing once the plastic hand leapt from The Doctor’s throat to grabbing Rose full on the face. This was followed up by Rose’s boyfriend Micky getting eaten by a bin and then turning into a very plasticy ken doll type creature that Rose failed to notice any changes in. My one year old was giggling like crazy when the wheelie bin attacked Micky so I can assure you that it was a superb piece of comedy. She’s one classy baby and she knows funny, and a man being attacked by a bin is funny. There was more comedy when KenMicky attacked The Doctor and Rose later on in a restaurant with KenMicky’s hand converted into some massive plastic spatula thing and The Doctor ripped off KenMicky’s head. Now it wasn’t all hilarity I am disappointed to tell you, it did come with some bits that didn’t quite gel, like The Doctor coming to terms with his hand movements and ears yet there being plenty of records of him as The Doctor (although fair to say those ears would take a lot of getting used to), and far too much running and hand holding, I got tired just watching it all. If I want to see something about hand holding and running I’ll see a Romantic Comedy. This was reinforced in the end with a slow motion run by Rose into the TARDIS. I get that the romantic idea was being established from the start but it was a little too much in the face with the close ups of hand holding. However, all in all it was an amusing little jaunt into Nu Who. Now please don’t complain as I did warn you not to read it!

Book Review: “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

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I will do my best to avoid spoilers. I will try to avoid referring to anything too specifically past the first three pages, although of course there will be general reference past this point, for there must be in order to review the whole novel.

Patrick Rothfuss managed to recapture my love of fantasy in his stunning debut, “The Name of The Wind.” At its heart it is a coming of age story, but of course it isn’t the coming of age story of an ordinary boy but that of a very talented one. This boy, Kvothe, is so talented that in fact, some people may criticize this as being unrealistic. Rothfuss, however, skilfully manoeuvres his was past this issue through his use of an unreliable narrator. Part of this story is set in the present time (present for the land they’re in) whereas the rest is Kvothe reluctantly telling the story of his childhood. The reader comes to love this unreliable story teller, full of belief in himself and utterly beset by tragedy, In fact it is the very tragic childhood that he has endured that makes us believe in him even more. Arrogant, troublesome but utterly honourable and loveable. The kind of hero that you can invest your heart in.

For lovers of adventure and epic fantasy this is a must read. It delves with the storyline of one character but through the flashing back and forth in time and the switch from third to first person narrative it really gives a fuller sense like that of Raymond E Feist who deals with a cast of thousand.

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

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Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

I had the great pleasure of attending the Speculative Fiction Festival, organized by the amazing Kate Forsyth, and held at The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, this last weekend. In short, it was amazing. And I should possibly leave it there, nay I should definitely leave it there, but I won’t. As “they” all say, “A great story is not written, it is rewritten.” “You must learn to love editing.” Or my favourite, and “Nobody writes a perfect first draft… well if there is somebody who does, she’s a bitch and I hate her.” So I have determined to rewrite the festival in order to make it more interesting, in order to make it speak to a generation, in order to give it vim and vigour.
Hmmmmm, where to begin.

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

A sea of nervous writers sat in a large room. The appearance was light and airy but the atmosphere was anything but. It was an excited yet nervous air full of buzzing writers with their heads open. (Not immediate enough. Make your writing immediate!!!!) This is the worst kind of excited nervous air as it is “writer nervous excited air”. The most kind of verbose, over adjectified kind of air in the world. This can only be topped by “writer in a flap” air. Ian Irvine strode into the room, he was the first of the guest speakers to enter. He could have entered casually and taken a seat and prepared himself for the day but some silly fan girl at the front of the room squeeeeed, “Oh my God, that’s Ian Irvine, its Ian Irvine. I love him.” (Okay, it was me) This caused a room full of beady writer eyes to focus on the man, the man with the plan, the man with the 61 page plan (as it turns out, he’d just finished a novel which he had a 61 page plan for). He smiled graciously, said hello, and took a seat. (My exact role in this situation may have been a tad exaggerated; the fan girl squeee may have been a tad under exaggerated)
You know what, that’s not exactly, the most powerful of opening is it? Kate Forsyth said that we should start our stories with a BANG! Hmmmmmm, when was there a bang, where was the bang. I must move the bang to the start. I’ve got it!

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Rewrite

SPLASH! Ben Chandler’s glass tipped over. An almighty flood of water gushed out of the glass like some sort of hot water spring exploding after years of pent up sexual frustration. (Yeah, I put in sex, that’ll get the punters in!) It trickled towards the electrical equipment in front of Ben’s shaking fingers. At any moment the stage was set to EXPLODE!!!! People rushed about. What would happen? We were all doomed, doomed, doomed I tell you! But a hero stepped forward. A member of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre admin came forth with paper towel and a cool attitude and sopped the water up with her very calmness… and her paper towel. The day was saved and we all lived happily ever after.

Okay, that was RUBBISH! I seriously doubt a spilt cup of water was what Kate Forsyth had in mind when she said start with a bang. I feel so stupid, why did I even bother. I have failed her, I failed myself, and I have failed you. Sigh. Well, hopefully this was not all for naught. How about I write out a list of some of the festival highlights for me and hopefully you can glean some insight and put it together in an order that works for you?

Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre 2013: A Highlights Package
Ian Irvine:
• Sara Douglas was the first Australian Speculative Fiction Author to hit it “big”. She paved the way for all us future Australian speculative fiction writers, by making publishers believe that yes, fantasy was awesome, and yes Australians could be awesome at it too. Respect.
• It will cost you at least $5000 to get a good quality editor for your work. If you want to self-publish you need to invest that yourself in order to have a comparable product with publishing houses.
• 2 million books are published per year now because of ePublishing.
• Self-promotion is the way of the future, make friends with talented people (or give birth to them) who can help you.
• As for how to plan, if it works, it is good, if it doesn’t, it is not.
• “If the characters are having a good time, then the reader is not.”

Juliet Marillier
• She has the most amazingly expressive hands I have ever seen. So tiny yet beautiful.
• UK publishers actually want to have the publishing rights for not just the UK but for Australia and NZ too.
• Australians actually buy more books than most other Countries. We are actually a big market when it comes to novels.
• Publishers are less inclined to do publicity and promotion these days so you need to really develop that yourself.
• Some agents are strictly business and contract advisors, others have a more creative approach, you must choose based on your own individual needs. Research research research.
• Love of storytelling and stories begins before you can read; it begins in the laps of your parents as they read to you.

Sophie Masson
• Fairy tales are a complex world of dichotomous forces
• Writing is like having a magic wand. You can do anything you want.

Kate Forsyth
• Fairy tales are important. They give us hope. They give us a way to cope with our own lives. They let us know that in the end, everything will be alright.
• Writing fairy tales is challenging because everybody thinks they already know the story, usually that just means they know, Disney, Grimm, Anderson or Perrot.

Garth Nix
• Just write. Don’t worry about genre or sub genres; let the publishers worry about that.
• “I write outlines… mostly for the pleasure of departing from them later on.”
• “Read more things.”
• “Children’s natural state is an imaginative one”

Pamela Freeman
• “There may be someone out there who can write the perfect first draft… But I hate them whoever they are.”
• Low fantasy is “where there’s thieves and bandits and people have sex a lot.”

Melina Marchetta
• Strip the thought, “It’s a bit indulgent,” from your vocabulary when talking about doing what you need for writing. If you need to travel to somewhere to get in the zone, that is a business trip, NOT an indulgence.

Belinda Murrel
Spoke of how she wrote for her children, so they had something stimulating but not dealing with themes they were not emotinally equiped to deal with maturity wise.

John Flanagan
• Write what you would like to read.
• He is the funniest speaker I have ever heard, he was utterly brilliant but I was so enchanted by him that I failed to take adequate notes

Dionne Lister
This I think was possibly the best comment of the day for me, “Why should I publisher put the time and effort into your work if you haven’t?”

There were many more inspiring speakers. If you want to read what twits had to say about it check #nswwc xxoo love you all