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

 

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WOOD NYMPHS WRITING RETREAT!

A wonderful time was had by all at the latest Relax and Write Retreat up in the hills and among the trees at Highfields.

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Fourteen women feasted and rested, stretched, danced, laughed, relaxed and wrote in good company.

The lovely folk at Camp Koojarewon took really good care of us, providing delicious vegetarian meals and treats. Everything was spotlessly clean and they built fires to keep us warm, making sure we were all well fed and comfy.

We had the whole camp to ourselves, so even though we were in dorms we were able to spread out and have lots of space to ourselves. The ground were beautiful with lots of walks to explore.

Highlights for me were the crazy fun of scarf dancing and all the great writing that was done in the workshops. I especially loved our workshop out on the verandah where it felt like we were in a tree house.

 

Monique provided glorious healing massages, we ate like queens, and enjoyed the company of other writers, learning from each other and being inspired.

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Come along and join the fun at the next one.

RELAX AND WRITE ON MAGNETIC ISLAND – tropical far north Queensland. June 21 – 23 2019.

More information about that coming soon!

Contact me HERE if you’d like to be kept in the loop for retreat news and for writing hints and tips and publishing opportunities.

Until then – HAPPY WRITING! May the joy of the retreat wood nymphs be with you!

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lots of love

Edwina xx

 

 

 

“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

RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS!

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PLEASE NOTE – THIS RETREAT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL Friday 26 – Sunday 28 APRIL 2019!

RELAX AND WRITE YOUR WAY TO WELLNESS!

I’m excited to announce the next Relax and Write Retreat – this time in the mountains west of Brisbane – from Friday 5th October to Sunday 7th October 2018.

I’m holding a special retreat in a beautiful mountain-top location, for women to relax with gentle yoga and meditation, and get writing with inspiring creative workshops.

The lovely people at Koojarewon Retreat, in Highfields – 12 kms north of Toowoomba, are turning the entire place over to us, and they’re providing all the meals, so it should be truly relaxing, even if the accommodation is pretty basic.

 

It’s dorm style but we have plenty of room to spread out through the dorms to claim a patch for privacy. And, best of all, the bathrooms are inside, so there’s no traipsing out to facilities in the middle of the night. Keeping the accommodation “rustic” is how I’m able to keep retreat prices affordable.

 

It’s important to me that these opportunities are available to all women. I know how difficult it can be to spend money on yourself, especially for something as seemingly frivolous as a retreat.

But what is it they say on airplanes? Make sure you give yourself oxygen first, then take care of the person next to you. And that’s what retreats like this provide, a bit of oxygen, breathing room, nurturing for the nurturers, so we are refreshed and renewed and ready to take care of everybody and everything once again. Writers and creative artists in particular need to ensure that their own tanks are full enough to keep the flow of creativity coming.

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Each day begins with a gentle yoga class, followed by creative writing workshops suitable for beginners through to more experienced writers wanting to renew passion for their projects. Healthy vegetarian meals are provided so all you have to do is let go of all the busy-ness of every day life and surrender to the peace of the mountains, stretching, breathing and writing your way to wellness.

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Come away from your weekend feeling refreshed and renewed, with a suitcase full of story ideas and hints and tips for improving your writing. See reviews from previous retreats here: https://relaxandwriteretreats.blog/about/reviews/

COST includes
• two nights basic accommodation
• all meals, morning and afternoon teas and supper
• two yoga classes
• three, two-hour creative writing workshops
• introductory relaxation and writing session

$360 per person for the entire retreat

You can get more information and book by contacting me at kublershaw@optusnet.com.au 

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This retreat promises to be extra special and I’m very much looking forward to meeting a whole new group of amazing women and listening to their stories.

Be like Heidi and come and join me in the mountains to find your legs again.

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Lots of love

Edwina xx

 

FREE MEMOIR WORKSHOP!

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Have you always wanted to write stories from your life?

Come along to the FREE memoir workshop I’m running for the Queensland Writers Centre at Everton Park Library in Brisbane on Saturday 12th of May from 1:30 – 3 pm.

I’ll show you some easy ways to unearth your stories and get them out of your head and onto the page.

Contact the library directly to book a spot – be quick it’s filling fast!

Did I mention — It’s FREE!

Come along and join the fun. I’d love to see you there 🙂

 

Writer in Residence

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Last week I had the honour of being Writer in Residence at St Patrick’s College  for the school’s Men of Words week. In the most beautiful teaching room imaginable, overlooking the Shorncliffe Pier and Moreton Bay, I shared my love of writing with all of the young men in years 7, 8 and 9.

We started each session with a general chat about the importance of reading, and the magic of reading and writing – the unique creation that is formed every time a different person interacts with a text. Then we got down to the fun stuff – RELAXING and WRITING!

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I love this shot because it’s such a joy to help everybody let go of their busy days and enter their imaginations. Love the boy in the jacket with the levitating arms!

Once everybody was calm, I led them into a creative writing exercise, entering a story world of their own, populated by characters of their own invention. Once they had a story in mind, I got them to roll over and write it – as fast as they could – with a time limit!

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Though I did end up with a few Fort Knight (a poplar game with teenage boys I’ve discovered!) stories, most of the writing that emerged was fresh and original, and some pieces were extraordinary. The bravest of boys read their stories aloud to the group. It’s amazing how many volunteers I had once I bribed them with a mint!

It was an absolute joy working with the young gentlemen, and hard-working staff, of St. Pat’s. I hope that my visit has helped to inspire a love of writing and reading that will last all their lives.

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To have me come along and do writing workshops with your school or writing group please contact Speakers Ink. In the meantime – I’m off to the second ever RELAX and WRITE RETREAT for women. Three full days of yoga and writing 🙂 YAY!!

 

RELAX AND WRITE RETREAT filling fast!

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Spring into spring! Spoil yourself with a retreat to inspire and delight you.

Whether you’re a writer in need of relaxation and a good stretch, or a yoga practitioner yearning to write, this is the retreat for you.

Writing buddies, published authors and experienced creative writing teachers, Helena Pastor and Edwina Shaw have been holding their own private writing retreats at Evans Head since 2005 to relax and write and share their stories.

This year they’re opening up their retreat to other women who’d like to do the same.

Unwind with yoga and free your creative voice with lots of fun writing activities and workshops. All only a minutes’ walk from a glorious beach surrounded by national park where you can swim, walk, laze in the sun or meditate to your heart’s content.

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THE PROGRAM INCLUDES

FRIDAY

Arrival from 2 p.m.

5:30 p.m. Welcome nibbles and drinks, introductions

6 -7 p.m.  Introductory deep relaxation and writing exercise

7 p.m.      Dinner

SATURDAY

7 – 8:15 a.m.  Gentle morning yoga with Edwina

9:30 – 12:30   Memoir workshop with Helena

12:30 – 3          Lunch and free time to enjoy the beach (or have a nap!)

3 – 5:30           Writing the Body with Edwina.  What stories does your body have to tell?

7 p.m.              Dinner

SUNDAY

7 – 8:15 a.m.     Yoga with Edwina

9:30 – 12:30      Writing fiction using yoga techniques to quiet the inner critic with Edwina

12:30 – 2:30      Lunch and free time

2:30 – 4:30        Self Editing with Helena

4:30                   Feedback and farewells

COST

$400 for twin share with ensuite or $350 twin share with communal facilities

For more information and to book please contact Helena

helenapastor2@gmail.com

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Come along and join us. Only a few places left, so book now and avoid missing out!

You’ll have a wonderful time.