Month: August 2014

"I got published!": Bexy McFly

We love hearing from our students no matter what they have to say, but when we hear of a student being published, we just want to shout it from the rooftops! We’re a little scared of heights, so we’ll go with a blog post instead. Bexy says: I... read more

Ask Valerie: I can’t figure out the best way to structure my non-fiction book. Where do I start?

Question:

I can't figure out the best way to structure my non-fiction book. Where do I start?

Answer:

When you are writing a book – whether it’s fiction or non-fiction – it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Where do you start? How do you know it’s going to be engaging? How in the world would you ever reach 60,000 words (or whatever word count you’re trying to achieve)? The following advice is specifically for non-fiction books and is ideal for business books.

Q&A: Hone sweet home

Each week, we take a look at a common confusions and ambiguities in the English language (that gives us about a century’s worth of material!) – making things easier through the power of friendly conversation… This week, which word is correct? Q: Hi guys, can you clear up whether it... read more

Memoir + Cancer = Hilarious

Meet Luke Ryan – a comedian who survived cancer twice; first at 11 and then again when he was 22. So instead of just waiting around to turn 33, he thought he'd tour the country performing a show called Luke's Got Cancer – A Comedy, and then write a memoir, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Chemo. (Because that's what all those brochures in the waiting room say you should do.)

His plan has been to take 'laughter is the best medicine' to the next level. Luke's idea wasn't to diminish what he or other cancer patients were going through, but to bring it out in the open and get people discussing it and feeling okay to discuss it.

Always a fun assignment, comedy and cancer. So we thought we’d throw a few questions his way.

5 insights from a freelance fiction editor

Kylie Mason is a Sydney-based freelance editor with a long history of working with Australian publishers, both on staff and on a freelance basis.

Despite having a master's degree in creative writing, it’s the editing that gets her up in the morning. "I love getting involved with stories, I love getting involved with writers, and I love the way writers think," she says.

We had a chat with Kylie about being a paid pair of eyes in episode 7 of our top-rated podcast So you want to be a writer. And here's what we discovered.

"I got published!": Lindy Alexander

We spotted Lindy in Sunday Life recently! Fab to see Australian Writers' Centre grad Lindy Alexander's piece in today's Sunday Life mag :) A photo posted by Valerie Khoo (@valeriekhoo) on Jul 12, 2014 at 4:58pm PDT Congratulations Lindy! If you have a success story to share with... read more

"I got published!": Jo Hartley

We spotted Jo in Sunday Life recently! Thrilled to see Australian Writers' Centre grad Jo Hartley's article in today's Sunday Life :) A photo posted by Valerie Khoo (@valeriekhoo) on Aug 3, 2014 at 3:32am PDT Congratulations Jo! If you have a success story to share with us... read more

Sara Donovan: Published life begins at 50

Many people might get to the age of 50 and look at their successful career, grown-up kids, stable life – and happily put their feet up. But not Sara Donovan. In fact it was this rather domestic alignment of the planets that saw her come to revisit a lifelong feeling... read more

Q&A: Years’ vs Years experience?

Each week, we take an informative and light-hearted look at the important punctuation and grammar issues of the day, including the much-maligned apostrophe. This week, inspired by one of our newsletter readers, we tackle a particularly knotty one... Q: Hi there, I was editing something the other day... read more

Sometimes crime DOES pay: we chat with Matt McGuire

Belfast, 2am, Tomb Street. A young man lies dead in an alley. Cracked ribs, broken jaw, fractured skull. With the Celtic Tiger purring and the Troubles in their death throes, Detective Sergeant John O'Neill is called to investigate. Meanwhile O'Neill's partner, DI Jack Ward, a veteran troubled detective, is receiving death threats from an unknown source…

You've just read the synopsis for When Sorrows Come – Belfast-born author Matt McGuire’s second novel in his DS O’Neill series. It’s a follow up to his debut 2012 novel, Dark Dawn, and further explores the brutal criminal underworld of new Northern Ireland.

Matt currently resides in Sydney, so we thought we'd chat to him as a he launches his book and we launch our new Crime and Thriller Writing course.

"I got published!": Gabe McGrath

We love hearing from our students no matter what they have to say, but when we hear of a student being published, we just want to shout it from the rooftops! We’re a little scared of heights, so we’ll go with a blog post instead. Gabe says: For... read more

This doctor’s 3 writing tips (which may include visiting a sex museum)

Dr Anita Heiss is a busy woman. As the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles, she's never far from a well-shaped word or two. Her books include Am I black enough for you? and Tiddas, and she is on the list of Booktopia’s favourite Australian novelists.

In 2001, Anita was the first Aboriginal student in the history of the University of Western Sydney to graduate with a PhD in communications and media. And despite being so busy, she's always willing to connect with her loyal readers to help grow the voice of Aboriginal writers. "I like meeting my readers," she says. "I think festivals are a great way to do that. It’s a great way for readers to engage with you and learn about why you do what you do."

Q&A: Compliment vs complement

Each week, we take a look at a common confusions and ambiguities in the English language (that gives us about a century’s worth of material!) – making things easier through the power of friendly conversation… This week, when do we use each of these two? Q: Hi Australian Writers’ Centre... read more

This writer fluked his big break with a cute cover and a catchy title

Getting your first big break in writing can take a lot of hard work, determination, and maybe just a little bit of luck.

This is the tale of travel writer Brian Thacker, successful author of seven travel books including Rule number 5: No sex on the bus and The Naked Man Festival. His former life was as an advertising art director, and when you lose an account in advertising, many people lose their jobs. His was one of those jobs.

So he decided to do something different. "I saw an ad in a paper for tour leaders in Europe and winter work," he recalls. "So, I got this big silly dream. I went over and got a job as a ski guide in Switzerland. And, in the summer I was taking tours around Europe, busloads of drunk Aussies and Kiwis around Europe."

The secret to a family, a farm and a novel a year.

They say that you should write about what you know. So it’s quite comforting to look out of Australian "rural fiction" writer Fleur McDonald's window and not see high rise buildings. Or any other houses for that matter.

Instead, a rural scene is the backdrop: her 8,000 acre farm in the southeast corner of Western Australia. It has certainly provided plenty of inspiration for her novels to date, debuting with the extremely successful Red Dust back in 2009. Her fifth novel, Crimson Dawn, was published earlier this year, and we did the sums and worked out that’s around one new book every 12 months.

So what's her secret? How does she balance a family and a farm with knocking out a new novel every calendar year?

"I got published!": Claudine Tinellis

We love hearing from our students no matter what they have to say, but when we hear of a student being published, we just want to shout it from the rooftops! We’re a little scared of heights, so we’ll go with a blog post instead. Claudine says: My... read more

The business of writing with Kate Hennessy

Kate Hennessy is a professional writer who splits her time between corporate writing, journalism, editing and communications consulting. Her love of writing goes beyond the offices of Australian businesses, however.

She is also a journalist and writes weekly music reviews for Fairfax and other arts publications as well as travel features for newspapers and magazines. Kate presents our Business Writing Essentials and Professional Business Writing seminars. Here she tells us what she loves about writing, teaching, and her life as a writer.