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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 May 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012
In this issue:
  • TIP: Is data singular or plural?
  • Learn what it’s like to be a travel writer
  • Winners announced for the Best Australian Blogs Competition 2012
  • Did you know? Lynch mobs
  • Turn your travels into memoir
  • What we’re readingMadlands by Anna Rose
  • WEBPICK: Edenland

I was chatting to a friend about how she should take her writing to the next level. She’s a great writer but lacks confidence when it comes to the rules of grammar and punctuation. In fact, this is holding her back. I explained that even if you don’t have a strong foundation in this area, it shouldn’t hold you back because grammar and punctuation is so easy to learn.

All you need is the right teacher and the right materials. You’ll realise that it’s not rocket science; you just need the right rules to follow.

That’s why I’m so passionate about our one-day seminar Grammar and Punctuation Essentials. This is a real weak spot in so many people's writing and it can hold you back, not only in fiction but also in the world of business. But it doesn’t have to.

In this seminar you’ll gain:

  • knowledge that you can apply easily and immediately in your writing
  • a clear understanding of how to treat common mistakes - such as apostrophes and plurals
  • the basic rules you need to know to be confident in the workplace
  • an understanding of when to bend, break or keep a rule or convention
  • ability to discern when more than one solution is acceptable
  • empowerment to justify your corrections to your own and other people's writing
  • and MUCH more
Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Tuesday 15 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





What's new at the Sydney Writers' Centre



TIP: Is data singular or plural?
Data is the plural form of datum – that’s a fact and that’s how the Macquarie Dictionary defines it. Technically, being a plural, data should only ever be used with a plural verb.  For example, some people would say this sentence is wrong:

The data is compelling. (Uses the single verb is.)

And that it should be:

The data are compelling. (Using the plural are.)

But, like other words we’ve borrowed from Latin, data is rarely used only as a plural. And the Macquarie Dictionary acknowledges that with its second definition, “(construed as singular or plural) figures, etc., know or available; information.” In other words, you’re safe if you use data as a ‘collective singular’ noun and therefore with a singular verb.
 
Other technically plural nouns we’ve borrowed from Latin and often use as singular nouns are agenda, insignia, bacteria and candelabra.






What’s it like to be a travel writer?
Want to get a taste of what it’s like to work as a travel writer? If you’re interested in pursuing travel writing as a career but first want to learn what it’s really like to travel the world and get paid for it, then our Introduction to Travel Writing seminar is for you.
 
This intensive two-hour seminar will give you tips on publishing opportunities, finding your story, making contacts and getting published. This industry insight is perfect if you want to explore the nuts and bolts of travel writing.
 
What past participants say:
"I loved that the course was so informative about the reality of what it means to be a travel writer. I came away inspired and also equipped to BEGIN!"
- Rachel Sharp

"The content of the presentation made good use of a small timeframe and the teacher was excellent."
- Annette Bewicke

Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Tuesday 15 May 2012 (two-hour seminar)
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85
 
Click here for more information or to enrol online.






TIP: Fewer or less hours?
You know the rule – use the word fewer for countable items and the word less for items that can’t be counted. For example:

There are fewer m&ms in the bucket than there were at the beginning of the week.

We've used less fabric to make the red cushion compared to the blue cushion.

There are, however, some occasions when this rule may not apply. The Chicago Manual of Style Online says:

Less is idiomatic in certain constructions where fewer would occur according to the traditional rule. Less than is used before a plural noun that denotes a measure of time, amount, or distance: less than three weeks; less than $400; less than 50 miles.





Winners announced for the 2012 Best Australian Blogs Competition
This morning we announced the winners of the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition. With 1024 entries and over 17,000 votes for the People's Choice Award, the competition for the category winners was tight.

Congratulations to Bernadette Jiwa (Business winner), Caroline Webster (Parenting winner), Eden Riley (Personal/Lifestyle winner), Lisa Hill (Words/Writing winner) and Martin McKenzie-Murray (commentary winner). The overall winner and Best Australian Blog for 2012 was Eden Riley's Edenland.

The People's Choice Award was won by David Knox’s blog, TV Tonight, with 785 votes.

This year we also had special awards for outstanding posts, new blogs and young bloggers. You can see the full list of winners and links to their blogs here.






Learn to write for Magazine and Newspapers – Online
Learning to write great features for magazine and newspapers is as easy as logging on to your computer! With our ONLINE Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing, you can learn everything you need to know to kickstart your freelance writing career, from wherever you are.

Using our interactive online classroom, you’ll learn how to develop ideas, how to research and write your features, what editors expect from you and how to pitch your ideas and sell them.

What past participants say:
"The course gives you real life insights, constructive feedback and an ongoing support network to hone your skills."
- Vanessa Bernardo

"What sets apart the courses at the Sydney Writers' Centre from other organisations is the relevant and realistic content. I got a real sense of what it would be like to be a freelance writer in the 'real world'."
- Emma Cottrell

ONLINE COURSE: Magazine and Newspaper Writing with Sue White
When
: Week beginning Monday 21 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






Twitter inspired words
A recent article in smh.com.au alerted me to Twitter’s latest addition to the English languagetwitchfork. It’s a combination of Twitter and pitchfork. Urban Dictionary defines it as a group of people using Twitter as a tool for social protest. Lately, its definition has become more sinister, bringing to mind an online lynch mob.
 
Other recent twitter-words (twords?) are:

dweet: a tweet sent while drunk
tweeps: Twitter people that follow each other from one social media/network to another.
tweetaholic: someone addicted to Twitter, so much so that it may be an actual problem.
twitterati: The A-list twitterers.

Twitter language is now becoming so complex, there’s even a Twittonary!






Did you know? Lynch mob
Since we’ve mentioned “lynch mobs” … did you know that the lynch mob is named after Captain William Lynch (1742-1820)?

He was a justice of the peace in Virginia at the time of the American Revolution. He had a tendency to execute people with whom he disagreed! And so the term “lynch mob” was coined.






Oops Word
We spotted this on an online news site:



We’re not sure why the headline says “Get you’re diary out…” You’re is a contraction of “you are” and is definitely not the right word to use here. It should read “Get your diary out…”, to indicate the diary owned by you.






Turn your travels into your memoir
Take a look at the shelves in any book shop and you’ll see plenty of travel memoirs. Publishers love them – and that’s because readers love them. Just look at the success of Eat, Pray, Love, or Bill Bryson’s hilarious travel tales, such as Down Under.
 
If you’ve taken your own life-changing journey, or are planning one, you too could turn your travels into a book. Award-winning author and journalist Claire Scobie will show you how you can turn your travel tales into a memoir. This five-week course is perfect for new writers or for anyone who wants to turn their writing skills to travel memoir.

What past participants say:
"Claire was wonderfully encouraging and always listening. I enjoyed learning about different sorts of writing, from describing a photo to going to a new location in Sydney."
- Donna Hayward-Brown

"Claire Scobie is a warm and enthusiastic teacher. I found her easy to understand and encouraging. She made me want to write!"
- Carla Simmons

Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
When
: Wednesdays starting Wednesday 23 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.







Eric Rolls Prize for Nature Writing
Want to win a trip to Port Macquarie plus $1,000? The annual Eric Rolls Prize is now open and accepting entries in prose fiction or non-fiction of up to 6,000 words. The prize is a celebration of nature, and anyone living in Australia and writing about nature can enter.
 
Held by the Watermark Literary Society, the Eric Rolls Prize celebrates the life of the great Australian nature writer. Rolls was a long-time patron of Watermark, which holds the biennial Literary Muster (the next Muster will be held in 2013).
 
The winner of the Eric Rolls prize will win $1,000 and will also be flown to Port Macquarie and given five nights accommodation, to take part in the Literary Muster. As part of the prize, the winner will also present their winning entry at the festival.
 
Entries close Friday 29 June 2012.

Click here for more details and an entry form.







What we’re reading
This week Sydney Writers’ Centre course manager, Danielle Williams, is reading Madlands by Anna Rose. She writes:

Climate change is a hot topic right now. Is it happening? Should we prepare for it? Should governments tax carbon? There are plenty of people with wildly different opinions on this, as we saw in a recent ABC documentary with climate activist Anna Rose and Liberal party powerbroker Nick Minchin.

The documentary, called I Can Change Your Mind About Climate Change, challenged both Nick and Anna to back up their claims – Anna's that climate change is real and action must be taken, and Nick's that the science is far from settled. From that documentary and her experiences travelling the world with a climate sceptic, comes Anna's book, Madlands.  

Anna's story is fascinating and, having watched the documentary, it's great to get more insight on her crusade to change Minchin's mind. There's lots of science in this book, but it's so well explained in layman's terms that I never felt overwhelmed (and science is NOT my strong suit). Anna argues her case eloquently and passionately. If you're interested in the debate and the science around climate change, this is a must read.

We want to know what you're reading! You can write a book review for the Writing Bar and we'll feature an excerpt here in the newsletter. If you'd like to submit, check out the review guidelines here.






WEBPICK: Edenland
Our Best Australian Blogs Competition is over for another year, so now it’s your turn to check out some of the fantastic blogs that entered.

The overall winner of the competition, and winner of the Personal/Lifestyle category, was Eden Riley, who blogs at Edenland. Eden blogs about life – specifically living with cancer, overcoming addiction, and living life in the Blue Mountains with her sons and husband.

Check it out here.











Other upcoming courses
Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
When:
Week beginning Monday 14 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Tuesday 15 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Tuesday 15 May 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Perfect your Proofreading with Deb Doyle
When
: Thursday 17 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Cost: $395

Online Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Sue White/Allison Tait
When:
Week beginning Monday 21 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Sell Your eBook on Amazon with Steven Lewis
When
: Monday 21 May 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Program: Write Your Novel with Pamela Freeman – FULL
When
: Every Monday starting Monday 21 May 2012 for six months
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $1980

Seminar: From Blog to Book with Kerri Sackville
When
: Tuesday 22 May 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Professional Business Writing with Sue White
When
: Wednesday 23 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 23 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard
When
: Thursday 24 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $495

Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When:
Week beginning Monday 28 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
When:
Every Monday starting Monday 28 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Introduction to Novel Writing with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 29 May 2012 for six weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $495

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 29 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with James Roy
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 31 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 4 June 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Self-Publishing – How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Thursday 7 June 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Online Course: Travel Writing with Sue White – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 11 June 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 13 June 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Business Writing Essentials with Tony Spencer-Smith – NEW DATE
When
: Thursday 14 June 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Food Writing with Carli Ratcliff – NEW COURSE
When
: Saturday 16 June and Sunday 17 June 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Write a chick-lit novel with Lisa Heidke – NEW COURSE
When
: Saturday 16 June and Sunday 17 June 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Writing about Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
When:
Wednesday 27 June and 4 July 2012 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Thursday 28 June 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Course: Screenwriting Stage 2 with Tim Gooding
When
: Every Monday starting Monday 9 July 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Successful Freelancing with Valerie Khoo and Gayle Bryant
When
: Tuesday 10 July 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Course: Travel Writing with Sue White
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 11 July 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Build Your Profile Using Twitter with Steven Lewis
When
: Tuesday 17 July 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 17 July 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett – NEW DATE
When
: Thursday 19 July 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Blogging for Business with Steven Lewis – NEW DATE
When
: Friday 27 July 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller
When
: Every Friday starting Friday 3 August 2012 for six weeks
Time: 10.00 am – 12 noon
Cost: $450

Course: Thriller Writing with L.A. Larkin
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 9 August 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: How to Write a Business Book with Valerie Khoo – NEW DATE
When
: Friday 16 November 2012 (half-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Cost: $295

WRITING TOURS
Writing in Bali with Patti Miller – FULL
When:
Saturday 21 July to Saturday 28 July 2012

Writing in Paris with Patti Miller – FULL
Arrival: Thursday 18 October 2012
Departure: Saturday 3 November 2012


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