Tag Archives: review

ABC Book Club, Season 11, Episode 1: #bookclubABC

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Image stolen from Marieke Hardy’s twitter account.

It’s back. Life can resume again as Book Club is here. JByrne is of course sleeveless because she hasn’t been working those delts to keep them hidden by sleeves. Marieke is flawless. And Ace, oh my, sleeves rolled up to show off those exquisite forearms and he’s wearing stripey blue and yellow socks. Or is it green and yellow? #sockwatch The exact colour is an enigma just like Ace.

Before we get into the actual show let me take care of a few housekeeping issues:

1) I’m dyslexic, there will be spellos, grammos, typos, and just plain wrongos.

2) JByrne = Jennifer Byrne

Ace = Jason Stegersaurussex

Marieke = jamiest bit of jam.

3) I am unsponsored but if anyone wants to bribe me I love wine and notebooks… and money. Money is my favourite. 

Now onto the show. Joining the heavenly regular panelists are Michael ‘the dagger’ Robotham (known as Robo-Tham from previous episodes) and Clementine Ford. I am wet your pants excited about the Fordinator being on. I hope there is plenty of talk of about uteruses.

The panelists get down to business and discuss books that have been released during their hiatus. Australian author Sarah Schmidt’s 
See what I have Done
 gets a shout out. I’m excited because I’m reading that at the moment. 

And of course they pay tribute to the brilliant Heather Rose who has taken out the Stella Prize this year with The Museum of Modern Love. Rose remembers vividly once getting a royalty cheque that was for less than the envelope would have cost. Thankfully she is getting the recognition she deserves now and more royalties. Big congrats to an outstanding Australian woman writer.

Onto the bones of the show. JByrne says that they’re looking at Sydney author, Kathryn Heyman’s, newest offering, Storm and Grace. JByrne says that it has been touted as the literary thriller of the year. That’s a big call seeing how it’s only April, but then again, she’s an author capable of making a big call. Let’s see if the panelists agree.

They do the dramatic recreation thingo. It looks like a romance movie or teenage coming of age movie. One where the lead female’s ultimate coming of age involves getting boinked. I’m not getting the thriller vibe from this footage. I might be getting slightly hard in the bra region but definitely not suspenseful.

Robo-Tham liked it. He found the book claustrophobic and uncomfortable. That’s exactly the feeling he wanted to get. He respects the level of research that she must have done to get the sensation of deep sea diving just right. Heyman’s research included free diving and deep sea diving. She definitely went all out.

Ace says it’s not a thriller because there is little suspense over the major crime. But he quite liked it. He says it’s a book about an “unusual” relationship and a very odd man. Marieke corrects him and says, “abusive relationship.” Preach. Let’s stop using euphemisms for family violence. They’re not “robust relationships.” They’re abusive. They’re criminal. Let’s not sweep it under the metaphorical rug with niceties.

JByrne was sucked in by the sexyness. Oh myyyyy. It’s a repeat of episode one of season ten where JByrne yearned for Heathcliff’s inky eyes. JByrne we need to talk. Let’s do coffee and Aunty Robin will tell you all about love and life. You’re not simply getting warm in the underpants region over literary bad boys, you’re getting excited for literary wife beaters. 

The knife comes out, Marieke says it’s a year 9 romance and the names of the characters, particularly Storm, are lame. She slams it as badly written and badly structured. So harsh. I think my mouth will never shut again because it is hanging open in shock. Brutal. All I can say is, brutal.

Marieke goes on to explain that her savagery comes from a place of crossness not because she’s a disparaging biatch. She lets us know that she ia quite nice and doesn’t actually enjoy saying awful things about books but she’s cross. She’s super cross because domestic violence is such an important issue and it needs to be explored but she thinks this did it badly. Maybe she wanted something more like Zoe Morrison’s Music and Freedom? I don’t know, but she is not happy. Not happy at all.

She says that Storm is a sleazy creep from the start so why did Grace ever fall for him? She says the seduction and Grace’s vulnerabilities needed to be clearer so that people understood why women get involved with these guys. For Marieke it was a creep from the start becomes a killer and that’s no surprise and wasn’t thriller worthy. 

JByrne is just about crying at this point. Why doesn’t Marieke understand that Storm is sexy? JByrne is all about the sexy. She’s possibly going to overtake Ace in the sexy loving stakes. 

The Fordinator speaks. She wanted the desire to be clearer. She felt that it wasn’t clear why Grace would fall for creepy, controlling Storm. JByrne is looking at her in despair. I can tell she’s thinking, “but he’s fucking hot!” But the Fordinator quite liked the Greek Chorus as a literary technique. JByrne says the Greek Chorus is why it is a literary thriller because Thrillers generally don’t have literary techniques.

I throw my glass of Brown Brothers Moscato at the television. It doesn’t make it. I simply makes a mess of my carpet. I love you JByrne, you are the sun and the moon, but you are wrong, oh so very wrong. Plenty of Thrillers use literary devices. Plenty! I could go on and and give a detailed list (OH, HOW DO I WANT TO GO ON AND GIVE A DETAILED DISSERTATION ON THIS) but I’m supposed to be writing a recap right now, but just know, I’m quietly seething… and sucking at my carpet.

Robo-Tham bravely steps up and explains to Marieke and Clementine the attraction women feel for Storm. He likens it to Trump. People voted for Trump because he talks big. They got sucked in by his confidence and big talk. You know how us ladies love big talk, orange skin, and extreme comb-overs. Amirightoramiright? Ooooo Trumpy, you so sexy. No. 

The Fordinator asks why do all the women have the same attraction. It’s almost as if she thinks us sheilas are diverse. Pfffft. Come on CFord, you know us ladeez are only after one thing.

Now onto discussing what the literary trends for 2017 will be:

  • Progressing from titled with GIRL in the title to WOMEN… Fuck. My book coming out the year is Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women. I’m falling into a stereotype before it’s even set. Shit!
  • Australian Domestic Noir, will be big. Phew. I’m not a complete stereotype. My November release is set in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. So it’s Australian, and it’s dark, but it’s not exactly domestic. 
  • Angry lady books will be big… Shit. 
  • Spec Fic with a literary bent will be in. SHITSHITSHITSHIT! Another glass of wine goes at the TV, hits the floor again.  Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women is Historical Fantasy. I basically take fairy tale princesses and lock them up in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. I’m a great big future trends whore instead of a maverick self publisher. I’m not a special snowflake.

    JByrne picks up Michael Sala’s newest book as an example of a book to look out for. I’m cheering at the TV. I used to teach with him. Go buy his book. Yay. Go Michael, go.

    The Fordinator admits that it’s a good time to be a feminist writer. Maintain the rage, sister, bring out Fight Like a Woman.

    Robo-Tham wants less celebrities writing, long pause, children’s books. What was the long pause? I read into everything he does because he’s a Crime writer. Is the pause because you mean not just children’s books but all books, or is it because you want to emphasise Children’s Books but they can run wild on adult? Tell me Robo-Tham, tell me!!! It probably means nothing and he just had to breathe.

    Which leads us to By the Bed. The segment where the panelists say what books are by the bed and I waft into a fantasy world of lying next to Ace’s bed.

    Robo-Tham is reading Rebus novels.

    Marieke throws a curve ball. She hasn’t been reading in bed but reading drunk in the bathtub. New fantasies are emerging. She’s been loving The Last Picture Show.

    JByrne has been reading Storyland.

    Ace has been reading 
    Crimson Lake by Candice Fox Small excited wee for Sydney crime writer Candice Fox. I adore her. More Candice, more L.A. Larkin, more Tania Chandler, more Emma Viskic, more Cass Moriarty, MORE SISTERS IN CRIME. 

    The Fordinator is reading 
    Circle of Friends. She says it’s like a hug. Awwww.

    And now for 
    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D Vance. Will Marieke go full savage on this one as well?

    JByrne does the intro, it’s a memoir but was billed as the inside story of Trump’s people. However the author said its purpose was to start a conversation not to be the ultimate explanation and lesson.

    Robo-Tham loved it. He kept nudging his wife in bed to read her quotes. She told him she had a headache. We’ve all been there.

    Ace said it reminded him of Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. A man who pulled himself up from poverty and an awful life to achieve greatness. And how they both nearly didn’t make it out of their horrific circumstances alive. 

    Marieke charges into this love fest and calls it a flat telling of an interesting story. She is having none of anyone’s shit today. She said it skimmed through interesting stuff that should have been fleshed out. Ace said he loved the skimming. They stare at each other across JByrne. Horns locked. I await JByrne saying something about sexyness. It does not happen.

    The Fordinator starts to say how she felt that the author was an intelligent guy and that the author should have moved passed the “America is the greatest country” rhetoric and actually given the idea some critical thought. He as a white man could pull himself out of despair. It was hard but would it not be even harder for others that aren’t CIS white men?

    Robo-Tham leaps into the thick of things. He talks more about the problems faced by America and white people in poverty and how beautifully J.D. Vance covered it by showing the good and the bad.

    Fordinator is back and asks why is it suddenly now that people care about poverty. Why is it that black and Hispanic people being in poverty is looked away from in disgust but now that it’s a white problem people are fascinated? Marieke and the Fordinator state that the author fails to recognise his own privilege as a white man. And again raise the issue that he never critiques the trite “America is the greatest country” without thinking about if it actually is or not.

    Robo-Tham tells Ford she wanted the author to “attack” his own country where as he could accept that Vance was still backing his own country. Did she want it critiqued or attacked? There’s a difference.

    In the end, the two white male panelists loved Hillbilly Elegy, and one out of the three white female panelists likewise loved it. Yep, that’s enough to get it voted in.

    JByrne concludes by letting us know that Omar and CS are back next week. Hooray, we loved them last year. They’re discussing Exit West and The Monkey’s Mask. And we are treated to a clip of Roald Dahl saying WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS!!! Because like dreams, you’ll forget them.

    Watch this episode on iView here.

    Read last year’s season highlights here.

    Buy my shit here.

    Book Review: “Madness: A Memoir” by Kate Richards

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    Madness: A Memoir  does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives an insight into the mad mind. It isn’t filtered through scientific or politically correct language like so many memoirs, it is an account on one woman’s self destructive journey through life. As a fellow mad bitch who knows what it’s like to live inside the nightmare of your own mind I highly recommend this memoir to anyone lurking in anxiety or depression or anyone loving someone similarly afflicted. It will give you insight into not only how the mentally ill feel but how they are treated by many professionals.
    I am looking forward to reading Is There No Place For Me?

    Review also on good reads  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1098539373

    You can find out more about Kate Richards here http://katerichardsaustralia.wordpress.com/

    As always if you’re a lady and a bit crae crae you are welcome to join my group

    https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194

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    Book Review: The Impossible Quest – Escape From Wolfhaven Castle ~ by Kate Forsyth

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    It’s an obvious comment to make but it’s true, The Impossible Quest is impossibly good.

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    “Tell your lord to beware,” the wild man said, gripping Tom’s arm with a dirty hand. “The wolves smell danger.”

    From the opening lines the reader is thrown straight into the action. Who is the wild man, how does he know what the wolves are saying, and why must Tom tell his Lord? Such action and curiosity lures the reader on and Kate Forsyth keeps the reader baited with masterful storytelling throughout the entire novel. I should know, because this reader read the whole thing in one bath sitting. I must admit I topped up the hot water a few times to keep on reading just one more chapter.

    This story is meant for upper primary students, who I know would love this (my niece can be expecting her own copy for Christmas… no she can’t have mine I want to read it again!), but also adults will enjoy this. It is written in that sweeping epic style of Feist, Eddings, McCaffrey and Jordan that will keep adults happy but with the youthful exuberance of Rowling and Rodda which the kids will love. Kate Forsyth has even managed to give an elegant nod to the classics with beautifully chosen character names that are reminiscent of Arthurian legend. The Impossible Quest: Escape from Wolfhaven Castle manages to be delightfully magical, darkly adventurous, deeply passionate, with a dash of whimsy, all at the same time.

    And as for the ending… I don’t want to give it away (“Spoilers Sweetie,” as the Whovians say) but it manages to be utterly enchanting, a satisfying resolution yet an absolute cliff hanger all in one. My mind is officially blown.

    Kids will be sneakily reading it when you’ve dragged them to boring social functions and adult Fantasy fans will finally have that perfect sized book to read on the train. All in all a wonderfully written book and yes, I’m hanging out for the sequel.

    Review now also on Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1046853563

    Learn more about Kate Forsyth here: http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/

    Denise Scott, Mother Bare: A Reflection Statement*

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    Now when I go see a lady comedian I look for one thing,  and one thing alone, is there a lot of mention of vag. And I’m pleased to say Scotty not only delivered (oh yes, pun intended) but then gave even more. Some female comedians these days do a brief reference to the fanwah in order to tick off the stereotype but then move on to talking about other things like… I don’t know, not important things… cars or something? Not only did Scotty brush over the vajayjay she went deeper, much, much deeper.

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    Yup, that’s right, Scotty went uterus deep. I don’t want to give away too much (“Spoilers Sweetie,” as the Whovians say) but her plunge into the female anatomy had one young gentleman so excited that he had to run out and Google prolapse before the show ended. He certainly looked far more satisfied when he returned so I can only imagine he found the answers he was looking forward.

    I have to say that Scotty didn’t just inspire a love of learning in the runner but also in the young women in the audience. When asked what a bicornuate uterus was one young lass answered “like two,” following up with, “well, bi means two!”

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    And of course it does. As an English teacher I can assure you her teacher would be proud. Very proud because knowing bi means two is one thing but knowing what cornuate (horn like) refers to is another level entirely. Have to admit I was picturing some sort of devil uterus with two horns, thank goodness I wasn’t asked because I can imagine that response would have opened up can of worms one show just couldn’t untangle.

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    Cesareans,  episiotomies and bitches who get through birth with no vaginal woes also got a nod. So if you like your comedy vag focused, you’re in for a treat. I do, I’m not thinking of getting Judith Lucy’s signature on my pelvis for nothing.

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    Apart from vages Scotty also told some stories of her early days doing stand up. I’m wondering if she is considering doing a “Where are they now” episode so that the rooster sucker can be heard over the voice over. “Suck my….” “Denise, do you remember this voice?” Oh my giddy aunt.

    There were also some fantastic family stories that had us all rolling but again, Spoilers Sweetie. BUT I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are clown references and a photo is displayed at one point that is actually far creepier than the clown from Spawn. You have been warned.

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    Highly recommend that you grab a ticket to one of the additional shows put on. It is seriously hilarious. Just do me a favour. Take a male with you. Preferably a male like my mate Pete who said to me, “The only thing I know about womb is it’s how you start to spell wombat and both are dirty, hairy and belong in the wild.”

    * Why a reflection statement rather than a review?  Firstly, I’m not a reviewer so wouldn’t do reviewing justice. I mean I don’t even drink coffeeor smoke, which I’m told are the base level requirements. If they change the criteria to bitchy tea drinkers then I’m in. Secondly,  I’m going through my existential phase at the moment so relate everything back to my life these days. It’s been going for around 23 years now so I’m thinking I may be coming out of it soon.

    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