EARLY BIRD PRICES CLOSE THIS WEEK!

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Just a quick reminder that early bird prices for my upcoming retreat in the mountains west of Brisbane close soon.

This special retreat for women is a great introduction if you’re a new writer wanting to test the waters. This retreat has a memoir/life writing focus but is also suitable for those writing fiction.

Come and Relax and Write in the Mountains. Renew your love of writing and life and make new writing buddies to share the adventure.

A whole weekend of writing, yoga, food and fun in a peaceful location.

Join our community of kind, creative women.

Stay in comfortable, rustic accomodation with plenty of space and quiet writing nooks and time to write.

Time for you at last!

RETREAT INCLUDES

4 Writing workshops

2 Yoga sessions

All meals and accomodation included.

ALL FOR ONLY $360! If you miss the cut off date-  $400.

Pay your $200 deposit now to secure your place.

Editorial feedback and massages also available at extra cost.

HURRY! BOOK NOW! Returning retreaters have nabbed lots of spots. Only 5 places still available. 

Numbers are capped to make sure everyone gets the attention they deserve.

Contact me for more details.

Hope you can come! We always have a wonderful time 🙂

Lots of love

Edwina

 

UPCOMING EVENTS 2020! REGIONAL TOUR OF QUEENSLAND- YIPPEE!

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I’m super excited to announce that through February and March (with more planned for later in the year) I’ll be travelling around my home state of Queensland running workshops for people who suffered abuse in institutional care, as part of my work at Lotus Place. This wonderful project is organised and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects. If you identify with having been abused in institutional care you are most welcome to attend. Please just ring Lotus Place first to get in touch and confirm your attendance. I’d love to help you get those stories out of your head and onto the page.

While I’m on tour I’ll also be holding some Bjelke Blues events – all free and open to everyone. So do come along and say hi.

While I’m in Cairns I’ll also be running a Life Writing Workshop in partnership with Cairns Tropical Writers and QWC is hosting a Memoir workshop in Esk. So if you live out woop-woop (as we like to say here) please come along and get writing!

BUNDABERG

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

MONDAY FEBRUARY 3rd 10 am – 3:30 pm at Bundaberg Regional Library

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along should ring Lotus Place on 3347 8500 to check eligibility.

Bjelke Blues AUTHOR TALK

TUESDAY February 4th 10 – 11 am

Bundaberg Regional Library

ALL WELCOME! FREE! But book your spot here

TOWNSVILLE

Bjelke Blues AUTHOR TALK

SUNDAY February 9th 10:30 – 11:30 am

MARY WHO Bookstore. 414 Flinders St, Townsville QLD 4810

FREE but please phone MARY WHO to book  (07) 4771 3824

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

MONDAY FEBRUARY 10th 10 am – 3:30 pm at Lotus Place NQ, 382 Sturt Street, Townsville Q 4810

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

CAIRNS

Bjelke Blues PANEL DISCUSSION

Wednesday February 12th 10am -11 am Cairns Central Library

With local contributors Christine Howes, Chris Morris and Bill Wilkie.

Hosted by the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival. FREE BUT BOOK HERE

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 13th. 10 am – 3:30 pm at Cairns Central Library

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

LIFE WRITING WORKSHOP

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 15th. 10 am – 12:30 pm at Stratford Library, Cairns

Come along and explore your creativity with this half day workshop guaranteed to get you writing!

$35 or $30 for QWC or Tropical Writers members.

See here for more info and to book 

ESK

MEMOIR WORKSHOP ESK:

February 22 2020-  9:30am – 12:30pm: Esk Library

FREE! Proudly brought to you by the QLD WRITERS CENTRE

SEE HERE TO BOOK   

Esk Library PHONE 07 5424 4080

BOOK YOUR SPOT NOW!

MACKAY

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

MONDAY MARCH 9th: 10 am – 3:30 pm at Jubilee Community Centre, Gordon Street, Mackay  

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

ROCKHAMPTION

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 9th: 10 am – 3:30 pm at ??

DETAILS FOR THIS WORKSHOP ARE YET TO BE CONFIRMED  

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

ADDITIONAL HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOPS ARE PLANNED FOR LATER IN THE YEAR in BRISBANE TOOWOOMBA, GYMPIE AND GOLD COAST.

BOONAH

BUILDING YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER WORKSHOP

SUNDAY 3 MAY 9am – 12:30 as part of the Boonah Writers Festival

Register for the Boonah Writer’s festivalto join the fun weekend of writing and hobnobbing with writers 🙂

And so on… I’ll keep you posted!

5 WAYS TO BUILD NARRATIVE DRIVE IN MEMOIR

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John Gardner once said, “Structure is the primary concern of the writer.” The more I write and edit other people’s writing, the more I agree with him. It’s not the story itself but how the writer chooses to arrange story elements that keeps the reader turning pages.32533._SY475_

This is easier when writing fiction than when dealing with the real-life constraints of memoir, but here are a few ideas to help you keep your memoir readers up at night in a page turning frenzy.

Before we start there are a couple of issues you need to consider. First of all

  1. What are you writing?

If you’re intention is to record your entire life history then you’re writing an autobiography, not a memoir. What’s the difference? A memoir is a focused selection of life events around a particular theme or time in your life.

  1. Who is your audience?

Are you writing just for family and friends, or people who shared these experiences with you? If so, then you can really write whatever you like and they’ll still read it.

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However, if you believe your story has a wider appeal, that you have a story of interest to the general reading public then you’re going to have to work a whole lot harder at building narrative drive to hook them in and keep them reading right till the end. If you’re not a famous sports star or a glamorous movie queen, then selling your memoir to a publisher is going to be tricky. You need to make sure you have a compelling narrative that grabs them right from the start. But how?

Reading by Lamplight by James Whistler

Reading by Lamplight by James Whistler

5 WAYS TO BUILD NARRATIVE DRIVE IN MEMOIR

  1. Write down all your key plot points.

An easy way of thinking about this is to call them Heart Clutching Moments as Elizabeth Sims does in her Writers Digest Article

Think of the moments in your memoir that have most emotional impact – the parts where your hand goes to your heart. Key emotional turning points – remember to include some happy moments as well as those of drama or trauma. Write down a list of as many of these as you can think of.  Put big circles around the most important and a star next to the most emotional, most moving, heartbreaking moment. That is your climax.fullsizeoutput_5b2

  1. Find your central quest or question?

Delve deep into what your story is really about. Ask yourself, “What is this story about?” Then again, “What is this story really about?” Ask yourself those two questions seven times. Famous non-fiction writing teacher Robin Hemley developed this method for finding the heart of your story.heart with eye

Once you have your answer then formulate a question or quest. In memoir it might be something like this “Will Mary ever find the daughter she gave up for adoption in 1965?” or “Will innocent Bob survive his time in jail?” Or “Will Sarah find a cure for her mysterious illness and be well again?”

You get the idea. What is your central question?

  1. Find your Hope and Fear around this question.

In order to keep the reader highly engaged in your story, every scene and chapter needs to move them between hoping that YES – your central quest/ion will have a happy ending (that’s your hope) and NO! – the very worst will happen (that’s your fear).

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For example

HOPE: Mary will find her adopted daughter who will want to see her and they will lovingly reunite.

FEAR: Mary won’t ever be able to find her daughter no matter how hard she tries or how close she gets. OR Mary will find her daughter who won’t want to have anything to do with her.

HOPE: Bob will study and be freed from his wrongful imprisonment and go on to be a lawyer advocating for those still in jail.

FEAR: Bob will be brutalised in jail. All his appeals will fail, and he will die, sad and alone, in the electric chair.

Oh dear – poor Bob!

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What is your Hope and Fear?

  1. What is your HOOK?

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Your hook is what sets up your question and the connected hope and fear right at the start of your memoir. Look at your list of Heart Clutching Moments and find one which will be best to draw your reader into your story. It doesn’t have to be what chronologically happened first. The power of writing is that you get to play around with the order of events to create most suspense and impact. It doesn’t have to be the whole event, just a snippet of it. Then once you’ve set up your question and what is at stake you can go back and fill in the background.

For example

Mary gives birth to a precious baby girl and gets to hold her, but only for a few minutes. Then she is spirited away and a weeping Mary signs away her rights as mother.

Bob is eating his last meal on death row, the priest beside him giving comfort. He starts down the long hallway in chains.

  1. Arrange your key plot points

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Look at that HCM list and arrange them after your hook. You can list them chronologically but make sure there is movement between your hope and fear in each one. Build to your most impactful moment as your climax. And make sure that you have some kind of satisfying conclusion – even if it’s sad.

For example

Mary gives birth etc

Mary at the graveside of her husband who she never told about her secret child – now she is free to look for her.

Mary tells her son about her search. Son says, “She won’t want to see you.”

Mary finds old papers and begins search.

Mary finds orphanage but records were lost.

Mary finds alternate clues – her daughter has been searching for her

Mary gets sick – she may die before she finds her daughter – search intensifies.

Mary finds an address – in the same state!

Mary’s son kicks up stink – why are you doing this? It’s too stressful! You’re sick!

Mary makes a tentative phone call – gets her daughter’s husband

Mary’s illness worsens.

Mary’s daughter arrives on her doorstep and they reunite tearfully and joyfully.

Mary’s son reacts badly.

Mary’s daughter is a doctor and heals Mary and all family is happy and harmonious!

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Now real life isn’t usually so orderly, nor does it have neat closed off endings, but for the purpose of your memoir you’re going to have to find a satisfying point to stop where the main quest or question has been resolved.

These exercises can be done after you’ve already completed a draft or even better, before you start the big job of writing it. If you can write to a structure that is already moving between hope and fear, then your job is halfway done.

Of course all of this is applicable to fiction writing as well – just easier to do because you can invent events and keep that movement between hope and fear with a flick of your pen.

GOOD LUCK!

writing on retreat!

If you’d like to learn more about memoir writing or just make a start on telling some of your life stories, then my next retreat in Highfields west of Brisbane is now open for enrolments. Come and join a like-minded group of women and get writing! See here for all the details.

What is your memoir’s central question? What is the hope and fear? Need help working it out? Ask away!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

 

The Magic of Magnetic Island

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Oh yes, it really is that beautiful! I arrived home last night from a wonderful extended stay on Magnetic Island, just off the coast from Townsville in North Queensland. Wish you could have been there too! Traditional home of the Wulgurukaba People and a true piece of paradise.

We had so much fun on retreat. A fabulous group of writers, from absolute beginners to those with books under their belts. Now freshly-minted mermaids!img_3710.jpg

It all started with drinks on the verandah with tame blue-winged kookaburras eating out of our hands. Those beaks were a bit scary!

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Champagne still in hand, workshops started and writing dreams began to take shape.

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Then dinner up at the Amaroo restaurant with all the gang : )

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Mornings were filled with yoga and dance with our resident dancing queen Lalita Lakshmi!

Then we got stuck into the business at hand – writing! With two writing workshops covering all the basics and focusing in on character development to shape plot we were plenty busy enough. We got lots of writing done and had masses of information to absorb, so we needed our princess naps in the afternoon.

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Some  retreaters took advantage of the extended break and explored the beautiful island and had a walk and a swim.

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Dinner on Saturday night was at Bikini Tree Restaurant where my friends Jen and Dan had prepared a delicious and plentiful Indian feast.

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Even though we were stuffed to the gills (as mermaids get very hungry!) we managed to rouse ourselves for my personal highlight of the retreat  — candle dancing on the beach! The photo is blurry but you get the general idea of the fun of it. Lalita led us all in a joyful and playful celebration of life. I’m definitely keeping Lalita and dancing as part of the retreats.

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Sunday and more yoga and dancing and deep relaxation, some goal setting and another favourite part of the retreats, collage! Some collages were fun, some surprising, and others full of wonderful wishes that I hope all come true.

After farewelling all the lovely retreaters, my friend Vahida and I stayed on at Magnetic for another week, working on our own projects. Then Vahida left too, and I worked on in paradise editing a book for a friend of mine who lives on the island. Took the manuscript to the beach and worked on the sand : ) Yes! It’s not a bad life.

So now I’m home and back in the saddle, ready for more.

Life Writing Workshop this weekend at the CYA Conference Everything is a Genre Day. For the weekend (or day) ticket you get as many fabulous workshops as you can handle.

The following weekend I’m presenting Building Your Career as a Writer, at the QLD Writers Centre. You can come along in person or participate online as the session is streamed. I call this workshop – Many Fingers Many Pies, because it’s all about how to make money writing or doing things related to writing. We all have bills to pay, but it’s very nice to pay them by doing what we love.

And on Saturday 20 July I’m at Sunnybank Hill Library for a FREE WORKSHOP on the basics of creative writing. Would love to see you there. Come along and say hi : )

While I was away I also received feedback on my feature film screenplay from a Los Angeles script editor, so I’ll be busily redrafting over the next few months. Cross fingers it makes it to the big screen.

Coming soon is the launch of Bjelke Blues, a book of stories about life in Queensland under Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, that I’ve been collecting and editing for AndAlso Books. Super excited about that. It’s heading to the printers very soon. As soon as I have the cover I’ll be showing it off. Launch is booked for Friday August 23. More on that later,

Next retreat is set for November 8 – 10 at Burleigh Heads. I’m designing it as dual purpose.

A planning and writing retreat to super boost people doing NANOWRIMO.

And for those women with a finished manuscript (or almost finished) already done, a feedback and redrafting weekend, with personalised feedback from me on the first 10 pages and your synopsis and also feedback from a small group of your peers. That way you get to talk about the book you’re working on with people who understand just how much work you’ve done and how precious your project is.

If you’d like more information about the Burleigh Retreat, would like to secure your spot, or just sign up for newsletters to keep you up to date with the retreats or to receive my hints, tips and opportunities GET IN TOUCH.

Hope to see some of you soon at one of the workshops.

Happy Writing till then!

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Lots of love,

Edwina xx

 

MANY FINGERS MANY PIES Or How to create multiple income streams to support your writing habit.

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We all know the dream – write a fabulous book and start a bidding war, preferably in American dollars. Sell gazillions of copies worldwide and become an international bestseller. Do book tours with mile-long signing queues in New York. Sell the movie rights. Go bigger than JK Rowling and Liane Moriarty combined. Wonder if it should be Meryl Streep or Cher who plays you in the bio pic of your life; and if you really want plastic dolls of yourself.

But wait! You’ve written your fabulous book, you know it’s fabulous because many people have told you so, just not the right ones. Not the ones who could start your high-flying trajectory. You’ve sent your book out to every publisher in the known world, and it still hasn’t found a home. Or maybe it has, just not with a big publisher. Your book has done its best, but the massive royalty cheques have failed to materialise. You feel as if it’s all been for nothing. But the thought of only doing your day job for the rest of your life makes you feel like running off the nearest cliff. You just want to write stories.

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Don’t despair. You’re not alone. You’re a writer.

Unfortunately, the dream is only a reality for a miniscule percentage of writers – the few who shoot up like lucky stars. For the rest of us the trajectory is much slower and not nearly as dramatic. It doesn’t make us lesser writers than those who become overnight successes.

The trick is to keep writing, no matter what. And to find ways to make money related to writing. It’s extremely difficult to do a full-time job, cook dinner, put the kids to bed and want to do anything except stare at the telly. It’s vital to find ways to pay the bills without draining all your energy and creativity. But how?

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Writers and creative thinkers are in demand. People will pay good money for your skills. You can spend each day writing or talking about writing and be paid for it. This also takes time and effort, but it’s worth it if your days are filled with words and the fun of playing in your imagination.

Recently, I was talking to an artist friend who’s been painting since his teens. Even though he’s not famous, he’s making a living too – the same way I do— Many Fingers Many Pies! We each have a number of small contract jobs. He teaches art; I teach writing. He does people’s gardens and runs design courses. I write for online magazines, do blogs, run retreats, edit other people’s work and rework every story idea of my own across multiple genres.

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In a recent interview on Oprah’s podcast channel, Liz Gilbert referred to people who thrive on working this way as hummingbirds. I like the idea of flitting between lots of different flowers, cross-pollinating and fertilising, all while filling up my own tank.

So, if the old 9 to 5 isn’t for you and you’d love to discover many ways to make money doing what you love, then join me at my Building a Career as Writer workshop at QWC on July 13. Making money from your writing skills can be easy and fun!

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Come along and find out how.

Contact me if you’d like more hints and tips and advice on the writing life and if a writing retreat on beautiful Magnetic Island sounds like just the ticket, then HURRY and CONTACT ME NOW to secure one of the last available spots .

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Put yourself in this picture : )

Lots of love

Edwina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREE MEMOIR WORKSHOP IN TOWNSVILLE! YAY!

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Yes! Not long now and I’m flying up to Townsville for the Queensland Writers Centre to facilitate a day-long workshop on using the techniques of fiction to bring your memoir to life. And best of all, it’s FREE!

My father’s family is from far north Queensland, so I always enjoy travelling up to the cane fields, tropical sunshine and reef. Such a beautiful part of the world where wonderful people somehow manage to thrive in all that heat.

You can register HERE

WHEN?

Sat., 11 May 2019

10:30 am – 4:30 pm AEST

WHERE?

Aitkinvale Library

4 Petunia Street

Aikenvale

Townsville, QLD 4814

See the map HERE

So if you have a story from your life you’re itching to tell, come along and write up a storm!

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A full day workshop for FREE! YIPPEE!

Keen writers and beginners all welcome.

Book HERE

Hope to see you there 🙂

Edwina x

“HELP!!!!” she screamed loudly. Do’s and Don’t’s for Writing Good Dialogue

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Dialogue is the most immediate mode of expression in writing prose. Used correctly it brings your writing to life, be it fiction, memoir, creative non-fiction or even personal essays. It’s importance in screenplays is vital. Done well, dialogue can move the plot forward, build multi-dimensional characters and add layers of complexity you didn’t even know were there.

However, it can be notoriously tricky, and some new writers find it so difficult to manage that they avoid it completely to the detriment of their writing. So here are some of my best tips for writing effective dialogue.

DOKeep it short and sweet – or not so sweet. While there is sometimes a place for a poetic monologue the best advice I’ve ever been given is LESS IS ALWAYS MORE. Cut the beginnings and endings of your dialogue sentences. Cut excess sentences altogether. How can you say it with less? How can you almost say it, so the reader has to fill in the blanks themselves?

DON’TUse dialogue to explain or describe what went on in a previous scene. If a reader has read that scene, they’ll get it. If the dialogue isn’t adding a radical new viewpoint, or revealing information we didn’t already know, then never ever look back!

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DOMake sure the reader knows which character is speaking. The easiest way to do this is with proper punctuation and speech tags.

Each first line from each speaker is indented and the dialogue itself is enclosed in quotation marks. For example:
1.         “How do I punctuate dialogue?” Julie asked.
2.        “That’s simple,” said Edwina. “Find a good book that uses classical punctuation and follow their lead. The main rule is to put your punctuation marks inside the quote marks and to indent the first line but not the others.”

You don’t need to use classical punctuation, but it makes dialogue much easier to read. Some modern authors eschew it and use italics or other forms of punctuation, but I often then find it hard to tell who’s speaking and get frustrated. Suit yourself, just make sure it is clear who is speaking.

DON’TGo all fancy pants with your speech tags. “Said” is almost always best. It becomes invisible to the reader. Words like murmured, stammered, shouted, protested, and argued have their place, occasionally, but are best avoided. “Lied” is an exception. Keep it simple superstar!

DOGround your reader. This is good to keep in mind throughout your whole story, but especially in long stretches of dialogue when your characters can become talking heads floating in space. Even if they are floating in space, most especially then perhaps, slide in a few words describing setting or actions, that place the conversation in a context.

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DON’TPut everything in. If your characters are out for dinner, for example, we don’t have to read their whole conversation about what they’ll order, and their interactions with the wait staff, unless this contributes to character development or plot somehow. If it’s boring in real life, it’s extra boring on the page. Writer friends of mine have learnt this the hard way by transcribing recorded conversations. Your job as a writer is to trim out the boring bits and leave us with the juicy titbits!

DODifferentiate the speech patterns or habits of each character. After a while your readers should be able to tell each character apart from the way they speak. If your characters are all from similar cultural backgrounds this can be trickier, but if you listen in on conversations around you (put in your earphones, but don’t have your music on, and eavesdrop to get an idea of how people differ) you’ll see how we all have our own individual tics.

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DON’T Use capitals to indicate shouting, that’s what an exclamation mark is for.

DOUse character actions beside their dialogue to not only indicate who is speaking but to add to the tone or develop an undercurrent of meaning. For example:
1.          “What time is it?” Joan lifted her head from the pillow.
And      “What time is it?” Joan threw the saucepan full of cold soup at Brian’s head.

DON’TUse adverbs unless absolutely necessary. If you’ve done everything else right you just don’t need them.

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Here are the links to a couple of stories that use dialogue exceptionally well for you to get an idea of just how effective it can be.

Denis Johnson, “Steady Hands at Seattle General” – it doesn’t use classical punctuation, but it’s genius at creating an entire story almost solely in speech.

“Reunion” by John Cheever. It hasn’t indented the first line of each speaker but again, the dialogue demonstrates character in a way nothing else can.

Try writing your own story almost all in dialogue. Make it a hospital story like Denis Johnson’s or a reunion like Cheever’s.

Let me know how you go.

If you’d like more hints and tips on writing see my post here

or CONTACT  me HERE to get regular (but not too regular!) writing advice and news.

And if you’d enjoy a whole weekend full of learning about writing then come along to my next retreat, More information HERE.

I’d love to have you along.

Lots of love,
Edwina xx