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Free newsletter from the Australian Writers' Centre (formerly the Sydney Writers' Centre) packed with information about our upcoming courses and events, writing competitions, festivals, free articles on writing as well as freelance news and opportunities. Here's a collection of some of our past newsletters.

10 March 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011
In this issue:
  • TIP: Do you defuse or diffuse?
  • How to get free publicity for your business
  • More student success – Candice Ward and Mavis Stucci
  • Join our online classroom – Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers
  • We’re reading: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
  • WEBPICK: Write or Die

I'm writing this from the plane as I'm heading to Texas for the South by South West Festival. Apart from heaps of filmmakers, musicians and tech-geeks, there's also going to be lots of authors. I'm looking forward to attending the author panels, book readings, sessions on the new age of publishing, and reporting back to you via our blog.

I've already bumped into some Aussie filmmakers who will be launching their films at the Festival and I'm also looking forward to those screenings.

Meanwhile, if you're an aspiring writer, check out our Creative Writing course. We’ve got two options for you so there’s no excuse for putting it off!

Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Tuesdays starting Tuesday 22 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

DAYTIME INTENSIVE Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Monday 11 April to Friday 15 April 2011 (five consecutive mornings)
Time: 10.00am - 12noon
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online. 






TIP: Defuse vs diffuse
Two commonly confused words are “defuse” and “diffuse”. They sound very similar when they’re spoken, but they have quite different meanings so it’s important to use the right one when writing.

Defuse is a verb meaning “to remove a fuse”, for example “to defuse a bomb”. It’s often used figuratively to also mean “pacify” or make a situation less dangerous or tense. For example:

Serving cupcakes helped defuse the tension at the meeting.

Diffuse is an adjective
, and it means to spread out or scatter. For example:

Rocky the cat diffused the crowd that had gathered
to admire him when he spewed all over their shoes.





What’s new this week at the Centre:








PR and Media Releases
Do you know how to get free publicity for your company or is PR a complete mystery to you? If you’re looking for more ways to promote your business – on a budget – developing a great PR strategy is where you must start.

You can learn how to set up this strategy yourself with our one-day seminar, PR and Media Releases that Get Results. This is an intensive day but you’ll leave with so many new ideas on how to promote your business without spending a fortune.

Here’s what some recent participants had to say about the seminar:
“I found the approach in this seminar was practical, relevant and holistic. Catriona was knowledgeable, easy to listen to and understand, and was generous in supplying resources and examples. The program offered value for money as the skills I learned during the course will save me money on contractor fees in the future.”
- Alison Hough

“I enjoyed the interesting content, good pace, comfortable interaction, and great presenter. I immediately started writing press releases again with more confidence.”
- Sally Berry

This seminar is taught by Catriona Pollard. Catriona is the director of CP Communications and has 17 years experience in developing and managing public relations and marketing programs. She has previously set up the marketing communications department for a leading software company and managed a diverse range of accounts within PR agencies. She has extensive experience in managing public affairs and marketing in federal and state governments.

Catriona has won an award in the Public Relations Institute Association Awards for Excellence and is a co-founder of Social Media Women, a formal online and in person networking group that encourages and assists women to participate more prominently in social media.

PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard
When
: Thursday 24 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $495

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





More student success
Our students have had a big week this week – so far we’ve heard from two former participants who have achieved great things with their writing.

First, we received this email from Candice Ward:

I completed Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers Online while living overseas in 2009 with a view to pursuing a writing career upon my return home. The course was a great way to get inspired and prepped, however, six days after getting home I somehow landed a 'proper job'. Finally I've restructured my working life to ensure I fulfill my writing goals. I listened to all my course mp3s again over the summer and submitted my first article to The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller, which was published this month. Thanks for your practical, straightforward advice, which I followed to the tee in my pitch!

Candice also did Sue White’s Perfecting Your Pitch and it’s obviously
paid off. Congratulations Candice! Your article was great – we
can’t wait to read more.

We also heard from Mavis Stucci. After completing two courses in 2010 – Writing Books for Children and Young Adults and Creative Writing Stage 2 – she entered the Stringybark Short Story competition. Here’s what she wrote to us:

I entered the Stringybark Short Story Award 2010 last year when doing my second course with the Sydney Writers' Centre. My one-page story is among the 24 Highly Commended entries that won publication in 'The Umbrella's Shade' (named after the winning entry). There were 159 entries, so I'm really chuffed!

I wouldn't have done it without your excellent training.
Thank you.


We’re chuffed for you, Mavis. Congratulations!






Join our online classroom
Pick up any weekend newspaper, or your favourite magazine, and you’ll read feature articles written by people from all walks of life – even from some of our students. Our Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers course is still one of our most popular, especially online.

If you can’t make it to our training rooms here in Milsons Point but you do want to learn the essentials of writing great feature articles and getting them published, you can join us in our virtual classroom at a time that suits you. And maybe next time you pick up that magazine you’ll be reading one of your own stories!

Here’s what some recent participants had to say about the course:
"I enjoyed getting to practice writing a profile on one of the other students. It was helpful to put into practice what I had learnt in the module while it was fresh in my mind. If you have an interest in writing anything, from corporate publications to fiction, the Sydney Writers' Centre is a great place to learn about writing and get an idea if it is something that you want to pursue."
- Kate Hill

"The ability to listen to the modules at my own leisure was fantastic. I looked forward to them every week! The structure was brilliant and I have gained confidence in approaching publications. The Sydney Writers' Centre is a great place to learn the ins and outs of a career in writing. They're professional, very friendly and have a wealth of experience in the field. I highly recommend it!"
- Veya Seekis

ONLINE COURSE: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Sue White
When
: Week beginning Monday 14 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





Book giveaway – Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman
Once upon a time, way back in 2005, our presenter, Pamela Freeman, started sharing her writing and publishing knowledge with a small, but committed group of budding authors. Since then, she’s taught... well, we’ve lost count. We do know that she’s kept up her writing and has published two books just in the last year!

And Pamela has very kindly given us a signed copy of her latest, Ember and Ash, to give away. Here’s a bit more about the book:

Two peoples have been fighting over the same land for a thousand years. Invaders crushed the original inhabitants, and ancient powers have reluctantly given way to newer magics. But Ember was to change all this with a wedding to bind these warring people together – until her future goes up in flames.

Ember’s husband is murdered by a vengeful Power, who sees peace as a breach of faith. Set on retribution, she enlists the help of Ash, son of a seer. Together they will pit themselves against the Powers of Fire and Ice in a last attempt to end the conflicts that have scarred their past. They must look to the present, as old furies are waking to violence and are eager to reclaim their people.


If you’d like a copy of Ember and Ash tell us what your favourite fantasy book is and why. (If you don’t have a favourite fantasy fiction, just tell us about any genre fiction you’ve read.) Send your answers and your postal address to courses [at] spindriftmedia [dot] com [dot] au by 5pm Thursday 17 March 2011.





TIP: Toward or Towards? Among or Amongst? While or whilst?
We’re often asked if among and amongst or while and whilst are interchangeable, and the answer is yes, they are. But, in modern usage, among and while are far more common. The other versions, amongst and whilst, are considered old-fashioned and most writers recommend avoiding them.

Toward and towards are a little different – once again these are regional differences. Toward is more commonly used in American English and towards is the standard for British English. 








Perfect your Proofreading
Even we make mistakes. Yes, that’s right, here at the Sydney Writers’ Centre we occasionally let the odd typo or spelling mistake slip through. Everybody does it! But you can limit them if you know how to proofread documents properly.

Proofreading is very different to editing. When your document is almost ready for printing, when the layout has been completed, that’s when you need to proofread it to ensure there are no errors. Our Perfect your Proofreading seminar will show you how to do this well.

Here’s what some recent participants had to say about the seminar:
"Deb was very good. Her manual was well thought out, and generally well put together. Her approach was relaxed and very encouraging. I was extremely happy with the course, and feel much more confident [in proofreading] as a result."
- Janet Robertson

"I found the information and examples provided by the presenter, the small class size, and the location all very enjoyable. I now know what is industry standard in proofreading and feel better equipped to do my job. The presenter was knowledgeable, approachable and more than willing to answer any queries."
- Sandy Eime

This seminar is presented by Deb Doyle. Deb is an experienced editorial-training consultant and publication editor. Deb has conducted courses for the Productivity Commission, AMP, Wizard Home Loans and the RTA as well as for many other corporate and government entities located in Sydney or Melbourne. Deb's courses are interactive and collegial. If anyone can turn a proofreading workshop into a fun and interesting day, it’s Deb Doyle.

Perfect your Proofreading with Deb Doyle
When
: Friday 25 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






What we’re reading:
This week our Course Manager, Danielle, is reading An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin.

I’m reading An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (better known for his comedic film roles) for our April book club. It wasn’t news to me that Martin was recognised as a writer, but I was surprised that he’s also very involved in the modern art scene and over time has become something of an authority on the subject. As I once dreamed of working in the art industry myself, I was very keen to get stuck into this book.

So far, I’m enjoying it. It seems like an accurate enough description of the art world in 1990s New York. The main character, Lacey Yeager, is young, smart, beautiful – and ruthlessly ambitious. Through charm, some hard work, and a lot of conniving, she’s making her way up the ladder at Sotheby’s auction house, and establishing herself as an expert on American art. She is the perfect vehicle for Steve Martin to show off his knowledge of art history.

The short chapters and easy writing style make this book ideal for reading on the way to work, when I have just 20 minutes to grab some quality reading time. For me, the most enjoyable thing about An Object of Beauty is Martin’s descriptions of famous (and some not so famous) art works. Some are even accompanied by illustrations, which is very unusual for fiction but I was thrilled to have a visual reference.

This is a fun read - perfect if you’re at all interested in art. Even if you know nothing about the art market, this is an engaging book that’s perfect for commuting. 

We want to know what you’re reading! If you’d like to submit a short book review (no more than 200 words) send it to courses [at] spindriftmedia [dot] com [dot] au and we’ll consider it for publication in our newsletter or blog. 




WEBPICK: Write or Die
(We featured Write or Die in our newsletter back in 2009, but I thought it was worth mentioning it again as you can now buy a desktop version.)

While Dr Wicked may not sound like someone you can trust to get you writing, you’ll find a quick visit to his website surprisingly inspiring. He has designed a web application called Write or Die, and it’s a very simple concept – keep writing or suffer the consequences. While you get to decide your word goal, time limit and grace period (forgiving, strict or evil), only consistent writing will let you avoid punishment. And what is your punishment? Not quite as severe as the name would suggest, but you can select a gentle prod, a frighteningly loud and unpleasant sound or Kamikaze mode (I’ll let you discover for yourself what that is).

The beauty of this program is that it encourages you to write only – not edit as you go. It’s a wonderful tool if you want to get the words out first and then refine them later. This is definitely worth a try, and while you’re there, check out Dr Wicked’s blog as well – very informative and very entertaining.

Check it out here.








Other upcoming courses
Seminar: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle – FULL
When
: Friday 11 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller – FULL
When:
Saturday 12 March 2011 and Sunday 13 March 2011 (2 day workshop)
Time: 10.00am - 4.00pm
Cost: $450

Online Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Sue Whiter – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 14 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 14 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding – FULL
When:
Every Monday starting Monday 14 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Daytime Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 22 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Self Publishing - How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Wednesday 23 March 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard
When
: Thursday 24 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $495

Course: Writing about Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett – NEW COURSE
When:
Thursday 24 March 2011 and Thursday 31 March 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: Perfect Your Proofreading with Deb Doyle
When
: Friday 25 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Boost Your Creativity with Laurine Croasdale
When:
Monday 28 March 2011 and Monday 4 April 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: Writing Letters and Emails with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Wednesday 30 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Wednesday 30 March 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Blogging for Business with Steven Lewis
When
: Friday 1 April 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 4 April 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Writing Books for Young Adults and Children with Laurine Croasdale/Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson – NEW DATE
When
: Every Monday starting Monday 4 April 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Travel Writing: Get Paid for Your Adventures with Sue White
When:
Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 6 April 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 6 April 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Friday 8 April 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Course: Weekend Travel Writing: Get Paid for Your Adventures with Sue White
When: Saturday 9 April 2011 and Sunday 10 April 2011 (2 day workshop)
Time: 10.00am - 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Course: Daytime Intensive Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Monday 11 April 2011 - Friday 15 April 2011 (5 days in a row)
Time: 10.00am - 12noon
Cost: $395

Seminar: Sell your ebook on Amazon with Steven Lewis – NEW SEMINAR
When
: Thursday 14 April 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett – NEW DATE
When
: Thursday 14 April 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Edit with confidence with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Friday 15 April 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Professional Business Writing with Mel Wilkinson – NEW DATE
When
: Tuesday 19 April 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 3 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Daytime Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 4 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $395

Course: Daytime Travel memoir with Claire Scobie
When
: Every Monday starting Monday 9 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding – NEW DATE
When:
Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 11 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Magazine Writing Stage 2 with Gayle Bryant
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 18 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Plotting and Planning with Kate Forsyth – NEW COURSE
When:
Thursday 19 May 2011 and Thursday 26 May 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Course: Your Story Structure with Kathryn Heyman
When
: Friday 17 June 2011 and Friday 24 June 2011 (2 half-day classes)
Time: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Cost: $215

Course: Life Writing Masterclass with Patti Miller
When
: Every Friday starting Friday 1 July 2011 for eight weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $650

Course: Novel Writing Workshop with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 5 July 2011 for six weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $495

Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller
When:
Every Friday starting Friday 9 September 2011 for six weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12noon
Cost: $450

WRITING TOURS
Writing in Bali with Patti Miller
When
: Saturday 18 June to Saturday 25 June 2011

Writing in Paris with Patti Miller
When:
Thursday 20 October to Saturday 5 November 2011

Travel Writing in Italy with Sue White
When
: Friday 16 September to Friday 30 September 2011


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