Amazing Babes, Eliza Sarlos & Grace Lee

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AMAZING BABES by Eliza Sarlos and Grace Lee.  This is the book that inspired a traveling writers singing spectacular!

Amazing babes, amazing babes book, emerging writer, emerging writers, reviews, australian books, aussie book reviews I first heard about Amazing Babes at the EMERGING WRITERS FESTIVAL.  At the festival, it was in song form, but I got the drift of it.

So it’s a beautiful book.  It’s well made, lovely to look at and easy to read.

Amazing Babes is a celebration of innovative, brave and world-changing women.  When I first read this book I felt a little tingle run down my spine.  It’s a really inspiring book, for grown-ups as much as little people.

AMAZING BABES was published in 2013 by Scribe in Australia.  It’s a collaboration between writer and illustrator which started as a one of a kind book, written by Eliza Sarlos for her son Arthur.  It was a birthday present for Arthur.  Eliza asked longtime friend Grace Lee to help bring the words to life and the result is gorgeous portraits that introduce new readers to the lives of these strong, powerful and world changing women.

I actually have a copy of this in my library and we have a house without children.  Friends and family love reading it when it’s laying around on the coffee table.

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Can You Run Out of Ideas

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Pinterest teaches us, if nothing else, that there are plenty of ideas to be had and not all of them need to be life changing.

When I first begun writing I clung desperately to any tiny morsels of inspiration that came my way.  I cut out favourite sentences from paragraphs I was going to discard, hoping to save them and use them again in another story.  At best I thought my creativity was a statistical likelihood given how much time I spend trying, at worst a complete fluke.  I thought I would only have a finite number of good ideas so I was diligent not to waste them.

When I first begun writing, I did not believe in my ability to continually generate ideas and was certain it was only a matter of time before I dried up.

Which is why I found it so difficult to let go of my first novel.  I was not sure I would have another idea.  I clung to that crazy monster for too long, wasting hours and days of my writing life trying to hold it together; trying to save the good parts and glue together the worst of it.

I knew I NEEDED A BETTER IDEA but I was not sure one would come to me.

To put it simply, I was very scared.

It wasn’t until I finally set that monster aside (I cannot even bring myself to say it’s name any more) that more ideas started to bloom.  It wasn’t until I made space in my mind more thoughts and inspiration arose.

Donald J. Treffinger wrote these four basic guidelines on PREPARING CREATIVE AND CRITICAL THINKERS.

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POV – The Effect of First Person Writing

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Point of View; First Person

Why do Authors head towards first person?

This is typically a beginners start to writing, using the first person, as it is a more natural progression from though and casual story telling in our every day lives, I did this and then this and so on.

Can focus more on learning as a consistent characters voice is more easily written.  It more easily fleshes a character on the page by allowing the audience to listen to their voice for long periods of time.

A beginning writer often finds it easier to keep consistent tone, style, and prose when writing in first person.  In some ways, a first person narrator can more easily “dump” information on the reader.

The most intimate is first person, where the narration is coming from the head of the character. We get the closest possible connection to the thoughts and feelings of the Lead.

By way of contrast, the omniscient POV is the least intimate.

Their Version

Relate their versions of the plots. Weather that version is true and honest or unreliable.

First person narration gets good when you are dealing with an unreliable narrator – Oh yeah.

Because another version of the story may exist that the narrator would like to debunk – an alternative history – or the Truth, as they see it.

Emotions and character growth

First-person point of view is used for numerous reasons, including creating a sense of emotional directness and drawing readers into the specific voice.

The first-person style also produces more immediate emotional appeal for readers. In third-person narration, with the use of pronouns such as he and she, the distance doesn’t give readers access to a character’s full response to events. Some stories require direct access to the narrator’s thoughts and feelings to be effective. Emma Donoghue’s novel “Room” is narrated by 5-year-old Jack, who has been imprisoned in a backyard shed with his mother since birth. The first-person narration gives a constant, present tense stream of his thoughts and feelings as he gradually learns of the world outside.

Allows people to see more closely how much a character has changed over the course of the novel.

First person narratives also have a much easier time garnering empathy from your audience, since they end up spending so much time in your character’s brain.

Explain their world,

They are the experts of their own world of the story.

Need to persuade

The reader of the characters point of view, or explain their decision.

If done well, it can give logic and motivations to characters that would seem otherwise evil, immoral, or otherwise not relatable.

Need to tell a tale.

Looking back on the past and recounting a tail, is self aware and can imput where they went right or wrong.  Retrospective recount can help the narrator to de brief and learn from their story – or actions.

Subjective Narration/Interior Monologue

The subjective narrator is an unreliable narrator who spends most of the story trying to convince the reader of something. This narrator has a firm position about a particular event or person and uses the time in the story to argue in favor of her position. Subjective narration is often used by anti-hero main characters to justify their actions or positions and to convince the reader of their values or views.

Interior monologue often avoids complete sentences and aims to present the narrator’s views and experiences as a train of thought. It is also called stream-of-consciousness narration and it can be reliable or unreliable.

So the first question to ask about your plot is how intimate do you want it?

Is the character aspect the most important factor? You might then consider first person. But that’s not always the best choice. There are other alternatives along the way, as we’ll see.

In between First Person and Omniscient is Third person POV, which comes in two forms. Limited and Unlimited. Limited means you stick with one character throughout the book. You don’t stray into the perceptions of any other character. Unlimited means you can switch POV to another character in a another scene.

A variation on the omniscient POV is the cinematic POV, rarely used except in detective fiction. Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is the prime example of this style. Most literary novels choose the first person these days, for good reason. Since character drive is the motor of literary plots, using first person is a natural choice.

First person does not have to be limited, either. Many writers now use multiple first person narration, alternating voices with each scene or chapter.

Third person is most popular for thrillers and action driven books.

But this does not mean there is any one right answer. The right answer is what best fits your book.

Let’s have a closer look at your alternatives:

First Person

First person is the character telling us what happened.

I went to the store. I saw Frank. “What are you doing here?” I said.

Obviously, this POV requires everything to be seen through the eyes of one character. The lead can only report what she saw, not what Frank saw or felt (unless Frank sees fit to report these items to the lead). No scene can be described that the narrator has not witnessed. But, as we will see, there are some tricks you can use to get around this.

You can use past or present tense with First Person POV. The traditional is past tense, where the narrator looks back and tells his story.

But the narrator can also do it this way: “I am going to the store. I see Frank. ‘What are you doing here?” I say.”

There is an immediacy of tone here that, when handled well (as Steve Martini does in his Paul Mandarini legal thrillers) is quite nice.

But there is something you can’t do in First Person Present POV that you can do with the past tense form: The “If only I’d known” technique:

If only I’d known what was behind that door, I never would have opened it.

Can’t do that in the present. If only I knew what I don’t know now, I might not open the door, as I am doing now.

First Person makes for a very intimate, and potentially memorable, tale. But to do it well you have to:

• create a strong, interesting narrator.

•

 

Now that you understand the different possibilities for Point of View, which one is right for your novel? As you understand the possibilities, you can make a much more informed decision and carry this intentionality into your writing.

 

Disadvantages

  • Many authors discount this, but I think it’s important: the narrator needs to have a clear reason to be telling or documenting the story in the first place.
  • Describing the protagonist clearly (let alone honestly and objectively) is very difficult, and usually requires tacky tricks (like staring into a mirror).
  • Perspective and perceptions are extremely limited.

First person narrators, unless they are telling the story far in the future, are less inclined to understand the gravity of any situation. In general they are more grounded in the immediacy of any given moment and less able to see its place in the grand scope of things.

 

  • Immersion – First person is the most immersive of perspectives, even more so than the rare, “elusive” second person (which is specifically aimed at maximizing immersion). You live the adventures of the protagonist through his own eyes. Second-person narration is still someone telling me to do something or see something. First person is me doing or seeing something. I know what I know, I see what I see, no deus-ex knowledge, if I have shortcomings, they affect the way I see the world. No immersion-breaking superpowers of a 3rd person narrator. This will be a disadvantage if you want to detach the reader from the protagonist – all parables are 3rd person and giving very simple descriptions, so that we concentrate on events, not on people.
  • Lack of reflection – while for “colorful” protagonists this is a disadvantage – it takes jumping through hoops to describe them for the reader, if your protagonist is more generic, you can freely skimp on details. Leave the protagonist nameless, faceless, maybe even in extreme cases genderless – and let the reader fill in the blanks with their own face and name. This does wonders to immersion. Instead of making your own, cherry-picked protagonist, you put your generic reader in the centre of events in person. They don’t follow – they live these events! Of course this leaves you without your own cherry-picked protagonist.
  • Surprising perspective – Do cherry-pick the protagonist. Take a story that would be generic at best but tell it from perspective of a dog. Or the villain. Take a common trope: time traveller stuck with cave people. Yawn? Not if told by a caveman! Humans discovered an alien civilization? Tell that from perspective of the alien tasked with organizing their welcome! You’ll never get this done so thoroughly with 3rd person.
  • Unreliable narrator – There is simply no way to excuse the 3rd person narrator skipping/skimping/falsifying details. It will always feel cheap or wrong – or may cause reasonable doubt in case it’s merely reported as told by others. Only first-person will let you lie to the reader with impunity and then make them jump with surprise at “The protagonist is schizophrenic!” – OTOH, you’ll have a hard time to ascertain things are true that way. Also, hiding things behind scenes is easier. You Were Elsewhere Then. But then, you can’t be everywhere!

Natural – This is the fundamental way people tell their own stories. It’s the classic of centuries. A war veteran will usually tell in first person!

Examples

The Catcher in the Rye,

The Great Gatsby

A Clockwork Orange

Lolita –

Motivate

Catherine Vance, emerging writers

I write. I delete.

Uncomfy in my seat.

Procrastinate, gotta motivate.

Got an empty slate.

 

Caffinate

Regenerate

 

Friend gets a contract. Congratulate!

(A little hate)

Can we collaborate?

Caffeinate, caffeinate,

Fragment; consider revising. Am I literate?

 

Exasperate!

Punctuate, hyphenate. Educate!

Grilled cheese on toast.

(Even though I just ate.)

Don’t hesitate, this is fate.

Or do I exaggerate?

Procrastinate

 

5 Things I Learnt from Fiona McIntosh

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When I was at Art School, every one of our teachers told us to get out and go to exhibitions.  They told us to find out where the openings where, get into galleries and meet as many artists as we could.  Now that I am writing full time, I am taking that same approach writing – Get to book readings, find where the parties are and meet as many writers as I can.

Book readings are never just about the book.  Book readings, launches and events are about the book, the author, the venue, the publisher, the crowd and the market it is being released into.  So what can you learn from a book readings  Basically…everything.

The French Promise, Fiona McIntosh, australian authors, young authors, female writer, female writer australian A while ago I went to a book reading by Fiona McIntosh, for her new novel, The French Promise. The event took place in a small book store on the south coast, as part of her regional tour of Australia.  As it turned out, there were not many of us who had read the first book The Lavender Keeper, so she spoke about them both.

What did she speak about

After Fiona McIntosh introduced herself, she started to talk about her decision to become a writer.  She spoke about choosing to write.  She spoke about attending a writing workshop held by Bryce Courtenay, about her family and how stories have fallen out of her ever since.  this was a writer how had made a decision, who knew she could be a writer if she worked hard enough.

What Did I Learn

1. Finding ideas quickly and making them work

Listening to Fiona talk about where her ideas came from, helped me to understand where I found my ideas.  Fiona spoke about how she mapping out the story on a plane, while flying from Australia to Europe.  What was obvious to me was that she was able to do this, because she understood how stories worked, how characters operated and how to tease out more ideas.  Listening to Fiona speak out writing, it’s very clear that she understands the craft behind it.  She credited her skill with a great foundation of education combined with a huge amount of practice. Continue reading

Ira Glass, on Creativity

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Is the work you’re making as good as your ambitions?

A few days ago I was talking to my sister about the trials of creativity.  We were discussing the difference between what we wanted to do, and what we were capable of making.  It is so frustrating – in the beginning of a creative career – when you are not quite as good as you want to be.

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The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing

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For those of you who could not get to the National Writers Conference this weekend, or were not there at 10am, here are five of the five by five rules.

The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing –

‘Our five Festival Ambassadors share the writing advice they wish they had known when they were starting out – in the form of five rules for writing – an inspiring guide for the next time you sit down to write. It’s 5 x 5  with Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hannah Kent, Krissy Kneen, Benjamin Law and Felix Nobis. Hosted by Sam Twyford-Moore.’ Emerging Writers Festival 2014.

My Top Five

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Throw your hat in the ring.‘ Maxine spoke of what can happen when you throw yourself into an award application, grant application or writing project.  ‘You never know what might happen?‘  She encouraged us all to take chances as she spoke of applying for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript on the very day that entries closed.  ‘See what happens and take chances.‘  She won!

Felix Nobis

Be your own manager – you have a responsibility to be a good manager to yourself.’  Felix reminded us all that no one is going to just give you the information you need.  He pressed the importance of our responsibility to know about the grants, funding and awards that are available to us. ‘Find out who has got the money and how you can get it.’  He spoke of the importance of being informed on a national, state and local level.  In being your own good manager, make sure that the writing part of you ‘Responds directly to the application criteria.  So many applications don’t even meet the application criteria.’

Krissy Kneen

‘Every novel will hit a rough patch… At 20 000 words your novel will start to smell like it’s crawled up your own arse and then come back out again…You’ll want to vomit when you think of it.‘  Krissy humorously spoke of the doubt writers have and how you might start to search for a better / different idea.  ‘I can tell you, those ideas will hit a rough patch also.’  She reminded us that every writer will find themselves struggling with a manuscript at some point, but to push through this.  Krissy spoke of a book being written in the rewriting; saying that is was much easier to work with a (really really really) terrible first draft, than an empty page.

Benjamin Law

‘Get an accountant.’ Benjamin’s very practical advice for Emerging Writers touched on a subject that is not often discussed during writing festivals – Tax.  Benjamin raised our awareness of a Specialist Art Accountant, reminding us to ‘…understand your rights.’  Also discussed during this rule was superannuation and the importance of setting aside a portion of your income for tax and superannuation accounts.  Investigate what you can claim on tax and then actually do it!

Hannah Kent

Don’t wait until you feel ready.’   Start now!  During her five writing ‘rules’ Hannah shared with us some advice on how best to relate to your own doubts.  Hannah told us all to begin as soon as possible, don’t wait for the confidence to start, as it may never happen.   ‘…doubts about writing aren’t going to go away.’   It was wonderful to hear such an informed and honest account about becoming accustomed to feeling the difficulty of writing and about coming to expect it.  ‘Be brave and do it anyway.’

Such a great part of the National Writers Conference.  It is already the afternoon on Saturday and I can still hear people talking about what the 5 x 5 from the Festival Ambassadors.  If you did make it to the National Writers Conference this morning, which were your favourites?

 

 

Naming Characters

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Do you struggle when it comes to naming your characters.  I do.  Well, to be more correct, I did.

This is just a quick post to share my new favourite Scrivener tool.

 The Name Generator

Check it  out.  You can select gender, country of origin, obscurity levels and even ask for a double barrelled last name.  You can select one name, or it can generate 500!  So great.

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Click image to play demo…

I used to use baby name websites – but the problem with that is the names coming up now are not the names used 40 years ago when my characters were born – Tricky – So I would search, ‘Popular boys names in 1973‘ and I only get the top ten!  What can I do with ten?

6 Books Every Emerging Writer Must Read

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The Emerging Writer, Writers, Writer

Click here to Purchase

 

1. Bird by Bird

by Anne LaMott.

This book is a really inspiring and practical book for writers.

Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott’s witty take on the reality of a writer’s life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer’s block and going for broke with each paragraph.

Reading this book, I realised how much further I could push my writing and my characters.  It was this book that helps me to understand how shallow I was writing and how much my writing could improve if I was brave enough to be honest and write something that mattered.

Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.

 

The Emerging Writer, Writing.

Click to Purchase

2. The Little Red Writing Book

by Mark Tredinnick. 

(Released as Writing Well in America)

I should probably credit this book as the catalyst for my conversion from the Visual Arts to the Literary Arts.  I love the style and strength of this book, which includes a whole chapter on writing with grace.

The Little Red Writing Book is a guide to expressive creative writing and effective professional prose. The author, a poet, writer, editor and teacher, explains the techniques required for stylish and readable writing. Everyone who wants to improve their writing can benefit from this book, which describes how to: • identify topics that inspire you to write • get into the habit of writing regularly • develop ideas • construct effective arguments • choose words for maximum effect • use grammar correctly • structure sentences and paragraphs appropriately • write with integrity The book is enriched by examples from great modern writers, and includes a variety of exercises and suggestions for writing activities.

books for writers, emerging writers must reads,

Click here to Purchase

 

3. On Writing, A memoir of the Craft. 

by Stephen King.

Every writing blog on earth recommends writers to read this book…and you will find we are no different.  One of the most famous writing works for writers.  Need we say more?

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.

King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told

 

Seth Godin, Icarus deception, emerging writers, books on art

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4. The Icarus Deception

by Seth Godin.

‘Make Something Happen’ They are the words on Seth Godin’s homepage.

Everyone knows that Icarus’s father made him wings and told him not to fly too close to the sun; he ignored the warning and plunged to his doom. The lesson: Play it safe. Listen to the experts.  But we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe.

In his book ‘The Icarus Deception’ Godin talks of the obligation we have towards ourselves and the world, to make art.  Godin discussed the issues we face when we fly too low, under achieve and ignore our potential.  This book speaks of Art and Society and the World and Life…. great read if you need to be pulled back on track.  But it is not just a book about what you are doing wrong, it also give practical and real advice on how to make sure you don’t fly too low.

A great read…actually now that I think about it, you should probably read ‘Tribes’ as well.

Emerging Writers, Manuscrapped

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5. Story

by Robert McKee. 

I put off reading this book for a long time because I believed it was just for screen writers.  It is not.  This book is for every Story Teller!

Story is a complex and thorough break down of ‘Story Craft’ with a focus on excellence and quality.  McKee demands excellence from every word you write.  He wants you to be good, better, and the best.  I found it great to be driven to such high standards.

Robert McKee’s screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.

Click here to Purchase

Click here to Purchase

6. The War of Art

by Steven Pressfield.

If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

Are you paralysed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. hat keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identif ies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

Happy Reading Emerging Writers!

 

 

 

Do you have a Writing Mentor?

Every Year I Choose Two Writing Mentors

In 2013, I adopted Kate Morton and Michael Ondaatjie as my writing mentors ; you gotta have a boy and a girl.  I read I chose them quickly and without much information on either and then set myself the task of getting acquainted with their work.  I decided that they were going to be my writing mentors for the year.

I had never read any of Kate Morton’s work before.  I had only just heard that she existed as an author from seeing her in my local book store.  I asked for her books for Christmas from my friends and received ‘The Secret Keeper’ as a wonderful surprise.  But this wasn’t just about her books she had published, I learnt all that I could about Kate Morton.  I read interviews with her and watched a couple of Youtube clips she has released.  I started to follow her blog and see if she was on Facebook.  (Gosh, this is sounding really stalky)

I tried to educate myself about Kate Morton as a person and author.  I wanted to know if she studied creative writing and when she published her first work.  While learning about Kate Morton I felt like I was learning about writing and learning about the writing industry.

I had read In the skin of a lion during Four Unit English in high school and am still grateful to my amazing teacher for helping that little class of 6 young girls become women through studying and discussing the most interesting of literary texts she had to work with in the syllabus.  Reading Michael Ondaatjie again after ten years was a sort of rediscovery.  I had read his work so long ago.

Ten years later, as a writer myself, I also found Michael Ondaatjie on Facebook.  I looked at his website and read his wiki  page.  Now, I was interested in much more.  I wanted to know who he was published with and when he started writing full time.  I took him on as a personal mentor without his consent.

In 2013, when I did not know where to turn next, I looked to my un official writing mentors and found inspiration hope, ideas and knowledge.  It is 2014 and it is time to choose two more Writing Mentors.

Why do you need a writing mentor?

Emerging Writers Blog, Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent

Read Outside Your Genre  Choosing Writing Mentors is a great way to start reading outside your chosen genre.  Every writer will always tell you to read as much as possible, but I often don’t know where to start.  Writing Mentors are a good way to make sure that you don’t get stuck reading the same old styles and stories that you have been reading for the last 10 years.

Make Contact with the Community – Once you have chosen your Mentors (if they are still alive) see if you can find them on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere online.  Subscribe to their fan page and follow their publishers and you will be surprised to learn how active they are in the writing community.  Their facebook pages are blipping with updates and comments and events and tours and talks and signings and helpful advice and posts.

Career Role Model While it is very important to read your Mentors work and really engage with their writing, it is also helpful to look at their career.  Your Writing Mentor will probably become your Writing Career Mentor (As they are now notable enough for you to have heard of them, there is probably a lot you can learn)  As writers, we don’t get to see writers in action – But now Writer’s offices are online and you can take a look at what they are up to.

Isolation You are not as isolated as you think you are.

Informs your connection to the writing world Having a writing mentor, whoever you choose, is a good way to learn about publishing, publishing houses, awards, talks and festivals; in fact – everything that is going on in the writing world.  You must stay connected to as many elements as possible.

The Emerging Writers blog, TIm Winton

Tim Winton

My Mentors for 2014 –

This year I chose two Australian authors to be my mentors.

Hannah Kent & Tim Winton.

I have chosen to follow and investigate Australian writers because I was sick of people telling me that the Australian Book industry was crashing and burning.  I have also chosen Australian Writing Mentors because I would like to keep Australian publishers and bookshops open long enough to one day stock my work too.

Here goes, I better get to the book store.

UPDATE – 31st May 2014.

Today I had the most wonderful opportunity to meet one of my 2014 Writing Mentors.  At the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne I met Hannah Kent.  What a fantastic experience and what a lovely person.  I am so happy I chose her for 2014.