Tis the season! For a couple of months now we've been bombarded with ads from retailers reminding us that it’s Christmas – or Xmas. We don’t really think much about this widely used abbreviation – Xmas – but it seems it’s quite a touchy topic for some people. There have been suggestions that retailers have deliberately ‘taken Christ out of Christmas’ to make the festive season a more secular event.
Now you may be thinking that Xmas is really not that wacky a word, but it does have an interesting history so I think it deserves a mention here. As does the fact that Xmas really doesn't exclude Christ at all.
Using ‘X’ as an abbreviation for Christ goes way back to Constantine’s reign. In Ancient Greek, the first two letters of Christ are chi and rho, written as X and P respectively. This led to this Christian monogram still used today:
There's just one week to go until Christmas, but don't despair – we know where you can find the perfect gift for the writer in your life. And if you happen to be one of those organised people who've already done all their Christmas shopping (and made the mince pies, and put up the tree, and sent your Christmas cards...) then consider this forward planning for 2014.
A gift voucher from the Australian Writers' Centre Well, we couldn't possibly do a writers' gift list without mentioning the Australian Writers' Centre, could we? For the writer in your life a writing course makes the perfect gift, and we have plenty on offer. We offer courses on everything from creative writing to magazine and newspaper writing. There are genre writing courses in thriller writing, fantasy, chick-lit novels, travel memoir and life writing.
Former soldier Chris Allen is the author of three action thriller novels, Defender, Hunter and Avenger, all published through Momentum Books, the digital only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. His books are described as "escapist action thrillers for realists" and he brings his 20 years experience serving in conflict zones around the world to his writing.
Chris began his career in the military and eventually went on to qualify as a paratrooper and spent time in the British Parachute Regiment. When he left the military due to injuries he began working in humanitarian aid, working for CARE International during the East Timor crisis in 1999. He has also held the position of Sheriff of New South Wales and oversaw a security upgrade at the Sydney Opera House.
Chris's first novel, Defender, was self-published. It was then picked up by Momentum Books and re-released. The second book in the Intrepid series, Hunter, has just been published, and the third book, Avenger, is due to be released in 2014.
Michele Lee is an Asian-Australian playwright and author. Her plays, including Moths and Talon Salon, explore identity, race and otherness. Banana Girl: A Memoir is her first book and describes her experiences growing up Asian in Australia as the middle child in a large Hmong-Australian family. The book has been described as sexy, compelling and nuanced and delves into all aspects of Michele’s life, from family expectations to sexual adventures.
Michele is now working on the next stage development of her play Moths, which explores the experiences of 25 Asian Australians she interviewed on gender and Asian identity. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Once again, our students are on a roll! We've heard from lots of former students wanting to share their publishing success, with one even scoring a major book deal.
Geena Leigh has done three courses with the Australian Writers’ Centre – How to Write a Chick-Lit Novel, Online Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing and Life Writing with Patti Miller. And this week Allen & Unwin will publish her memoir, Call Me Sasha. This is a huge achievement for Geena – a publishing deal with a major Australian publisher and a book on the shelves just in time for Christmas. Congratulations, Geena!
If you're hosting this year's Christmas lunch, you may want to invite a deipnosophist. They'll be the person who ensures conversation flows freely and will be the life of the party without overwhelming it, ensuring no awkward silences or improper table talk.
A deipnosophist is someone who is "a master of the art of dining, especially of conversation at the table". It comes from the Greek words deipnon, the chief meal of dinner, and sophistes, which means a master of his craft or a clever and wise man. (The word sophistry, meaning a subtle, tricky, generally fallacious method of reasoning, also comes from sophistes.)
If you think managing a Christmas lunch is difficult spare a thought for the ancient Greeks. Way back in the 3rd century, hosts were under a lot more pressure to perform than we are today.
Raphaël Jerusalmy is an antiquarian book dealer and writer whose first novel is Saving Mozart. The book has been praised for its unique take on the holocaust and explores the Nazi regime's use of music as propaganda. The story revolves around an elderly Jewish music critic, Otto Steiner, who slowly dying of tuberculosis in a Viennese sanatorium on the eve of the Second World War. When he is asked to write the program notes for an approaching music festival celebrating the Reich, he instead begins planning a powerful display of resistance.
Raphaël has had a varied career. He holds a degree from the Ecole Normale Sueperieure the Sorbonne in Paris and had a long career with the Israeli military intelligence services before moving into the humanitarian and educational fields. Saving Mozart was published in French in 2012 to such high acclaim it was translated into English in 2013. His second novel, La confrérie des chasseurs de livres (The Brotherhood of Book Hunters), has just been published in France.
We affectionately call our blog Writing Bar – and it's designed to be a place where you can connect with other writers, discover new authors, and learn more about what's happening in the writing and publishing industry.
If you think we're a new blog, we're not. We've actually been around the block for a number of years – but we've had different online addresses. Most recently, you may have been following us at WritingBar.com.
However, we've always felt a bit disconnected at that address. So that's why we've decided to incorporate our blog here into our home at writerscentre.com.au