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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.

12 May 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011
In this issue:
  • Feature Writing Stage 2 - Learn the tools
    of the trade
  • TIP: Orient or orientate?
  • Sydney Writers’ Festival - See you there!
  • New phrases: “reach out” and “come with”
  • How to edit
  • TIP: Imply versus infer
  • New Scrabble words you can use
  • We’re reading: Me, Myself and Lord Byron
  • WEBPICK: Shady Characters – the secret life of punctuation

We're so excited about the Sydney Writers' Festival starting next week. We'll be going to heaps of sessions and interviewing our favourite authors. We've highlighted some cool sessions below. If you spot us, come say HI!
 
In the meantime, if you've already completed Feature Writing Stage 1, I encourage you to hone your skills with the next step in your journey, Feature Writing Stage 2 with Gayle Bryant.
 
Gayle is an industry veteran and is so generous with her advice. I love the fact that I get emails from former students every week about articles they've been commissioned to write for their favourite magazines. I'll never forget the first time I was published in a magazine. It was a lifetime ago but I can still remember picking up the magazine at the newsagency at Town Hall station. I was so excited to see my story in print! I rang people there and then with the news. I'm sure the newsagent thought I was nuts.
 
Since then, I've written articles on everything from business, science, fashion, celebrities and much more. I even wrote about sport during the Olympics (but I'll admit this is not my forte). I can't tell you how wonderful it is to talk to the fascinating people you meet in the course of doing research for articles.
 
So if you want to improve your feature writing skills and ensure you’re providing articles that editors want to publish, then Feature Writing Stage 2 will help you learn the journalistic conventions, techniques and ethics.
 
Feature Writing Stage 2 with Gayle Bryant
When
: Wednesdays starting Wednesday 18 May 2011 for five weeks (NEXT WEEK)
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Cost: $395
 
Click here for more information or to enrol online.





TIP: Orient or orientate?
A reader emailed us this week to vent her frustration at the constant use of "oriented" she sees in writing. But is it really so bad to use "oriented" instead of "orientated"? It turns out this is one of those regional confusions – one is preferred in US English and the other is the British English version.
 
According to How Much can a Koala Bear?, careful users would choose "orient", though both versions are considered acceptable. The Macquarie Dictionary, however, lists orientate as the correct word (orient being the East, or countries of the East).
 
It seems that teachers in the past have sniffed at the use of "orientate", claiming it’s nothing but a back formation of orientation – like saying reconciliate instead of reconcile. But it’s actually acceptable to use either option, though you’ll see "orientate" used more in British English and ‘orient’ more in the US. Here in Australia, we defer to the Macquarie Dictionary, so orientate would be the word we use.






What’s new at the Sydney Writers’ Centre this week: 
  • New courses announced this week: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie, starts Wednesday 27 July; Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding, starts Monday 20 June; PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard, Thursday 23 June.

  • Kate Forsyth’s new course, Plotting and Planning, is filling quickly. Enrol here.

  • The winners of the Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition was announced last week. You can see all the winners and judges' comments here.






“Reach out” and “come with”
We often adopt Americanisms and there are a couple phrases I’ve been noticing more of recently. The first is “reach out”. Of course, this is not a new phrase but I’m increasingly seeing it used in the corporate world instead of “connect”.

For example:

“I received your email. Thanks for reaching out.”

I first started noticing this phrase from friends and associates in the US. But it’s now becoming more common here too.

The second adopted phrase is “come with”. I first noticed it on US sitcoms.
Example from S*x and the City when Carrie asks the waiter if she can get crackers with her lentil soup and she simply says:

“Crackers come with."

OR

“I’m going to yoga tonight. Do you want to come with?”


Well I was ordering some fast food the other day when I asked for some fries. The bored teenager taking my order rolled her eyes and said:

“Fries come with.” (Apparently, I should have known).

While I’m getting used to “reaching out” to people, I don’t think I’ll be able to “come with” for a while yet! Have you noticed any new phrases creeping into everyday language? Tell us here.






Sydney Writers’ Festival - next week!
Australia’s largest celebration of books and writing, the Sydney Writers’ Festival, begins next week, when the world’s best writers and thinkers descend on the city to entertain, inspire and inform readers in venues around NSW.

This year’s program includes 2010 Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson, author of The Finkler Question; David Mitchell, author of the acclaimed Cloud Atlas; controversial food critic and travel journalist AA Gill; and Ingrid Betancourt, the Greens MP and social activist who was held captive by Colombian terrorists for more than six years before her release in 2008.

More than half the program is free and aspiring authors will enjoy plenty of practical sessions on writing, getting published and the future of books in our technological age scattered throughout the week.

See www.swf.org.au for the full program.

Sydney Writers’ Centre recommendations:
So You Think You Can Write: International Edition
May 19, 1-2pm, Pier 2/3 Club Stage
Pitch your book idea to a panel of experts from the world of international publishing: UK literary scout Barbara Rozycki, Canadian publisher Lynne Missen (Penguin) and US senior editor Alexis Washam (Crown Trade Paperbacks US). Lenny Ann Low officiates.
Free, no bookings.
 
The Finkler Question
May 19, 6-7pm, City Recital Hall
By some accounts of those in the Great Hall that night, the acclamation greeting the announcement that The Finkler Question had won the 2010 Man Booker Prize was the loudest ever heard. Howard Jacobson speaks to Rick Gekoski.
Costs: $30/$25
Bookings: 8256 2222 or 9250 1988
www.cityrecitalhall.com or sydneytheatre.org.au





How to edit with confidence
Editing is all about ensuring your documents are clear, concise and free of errors. It needn’t be a tedious task, but there are some important ground rules you need to know to ensure your editing tasks can be done efficiently and consistently.
 
If you’re editing documents at work you could be working on anything from letters to annual reports. The tips you’ll learn in our Edit with Confidence seminar will help you improve all of these documents, saving you time and transforming even the most clumsy writing.
 
During this one-day workshop you’ll learn:

  • how to edit for structure and style
  • simple techniques that will improve anyone’s writing
  • standard proofreading symbols and how to use them
  • the steps involved in editing
  • about the role of editorial style sheets and house-style guides – and how to create them
  • and MUCH more.

Here’s some feedback from previous participants:
“I enjoyed learning new things with like-minded people, sharing experiences, and learning from a fabulous, knowledgable instructor. Deb knows her topic and obviously enjoys what she does; everyone responded to her and her inclusive style.”
- Danielle Brender

“New content for me delivered in a straight forward way with examples that practiced these new skills. Deb has a very engaging, friendly and professional teaching style. She is a wonderful presenter and had to get through a lot of new concepts within a single day. I'd definitely attend other courses that Deb teaches. Handouts were excellent - as they always are. I always recommend the SWC to colleagues. Seminars are always practical, engaging and delivered by individuals who are out there applying what they are teaching.”
- Nicole Miller

Edit with Confidence with Deb Doyle
When
: Wednesday 18 May 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395
 
Click here for more information or to enrol online.





TIP: When to use "imply" and "infer"
This is a common query so we thought it's worth clarifying it here. The difference between "imply" and "infer' is pretty straightforward. You generally "imply" something when you hint or suggest when you are speaking (or writing). However, you typically "infer" when you are listening (or reading) and you come to a conclusion as a result of what you've heard (or read).

For example:
When the publisher told Mary that she could make a big impact on her own book sales, he implied that she had to be responsible for marketing and advertising it.

After listening to her publisher explain that he didn't have any more time to promote her book, Mary inferred that it was now up to her to drive sales if she wanted it to become a best-seller.





Online course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults
Want to know what it takes to get your kids’ book published? Have you got an idea for a young adult novel that’s sure to be a hit? Our next online course in Writing Books for Children and Young Adults is starting soon, and this is where you’ll find out how to write for younger readers.
 
Our online classroom means you can do the course from wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection. The audio modules can be downloaded and referred to again and you’ll receive feedback on your writing from your online tutor in the virtual classroom. The course will cover everything from getting started, to finding the right voice for your audience, to getting your book published.
 
Here’s what past participants had to say about the course:
"I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Online Writing Books for Children course and have learned so much in such a short period. It has given me a clear jump-off point for writing - and has shown me what writing for children is and is not. The online mode of delivery makes the course convenient for those of us who can't make it to Sydney."
- Anna Lisa Intia

“The thing I found most enjoyable about the course was the fact I could do it at home, online. Loved it! Great, constructive feedback from Nicola. It was good to be able to read everyone's feedback too so you got even more tips from her.”
- Kate Griffith

Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When
: Week beginning Monday 16 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395
 
Click here for more information or to enrol online.





Book giveaway - Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
We recently spoke to the talented author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova for our podcast series. The full interview and transcript is now available on our website.
 
Lisa is the author of the phenomenally successful, Still Alice, an exploration of the impact of Alzheimer’s on an otherwise healthy 40-something career woman. Her latest book is Left Neglected and it focuses on a high-powered woman who contracts a real-life affliction called “left neglect” where you are no longer aware of anything on your left.
 
As a neuroscientist, Lisa is uniquely placed to explore these fascinating issues in her fiction. Jodi Picoult had this to say about Left Neglected:
 
"The journey Lisa Genova takes us on in Left Neglected is a personal one, for any woman who’s ever had to make a business call while driving to daycare, or who finishes a full day’s work at a high-powered job only to start the second shift as a mom: sometimes, we literally need a shock to the system to remember what matters most in life."
 
Thanks to Simon & Schuster, we have one copy of Left Neglected to give away. If you’d like to win it, just tell us why you want to read this book (in 25 words or less). Send your answers to courses [at] spindriftmedia [dot] com [dot] au by 5pm on Thursday 19 May 2011, and remember to include your postal address.





WORDWISE: New Scrabble words!
Good news for Scrabble addicts – the publishers of the Collins Official Scrabble Words book have added around 3,000 new words to their "legal" list. They include:

INNIT: Short for "isn't it?" as in "This is great, innit?". Also used to replace any negative tag question, as in: "You like this song, innit?"
Scrabble score: 5

QIN (n): A Chinese zither, with strings stretched across a flat box.
Scrabble score: 12

FIQH (n): An expansion of Islamic sharia law, based directly on the Koran and Sunnah.
Scrabble score: 19

BLOOK (n): An online book that is published via a blog (a kind of online diary).
Scrabble score: 11


While many of the new additions will have some players scratching their heads and lamenting the decline of the English language, others will no doubt be excited by the addition of two entries that allow the use of "Q" without a "U".





Kickstart your creative writing
Our Creative Writing Stage 1 course is our most popular and at this time of literary festivals and winter reading, we like to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for you to attend. We’ll be holding our usual evening courses as well as a daytime course and regular online courses.

If you’re interested in writing fiction and want to refine your work, Creative Writing Stage 1 is the ideal starting point. During the course you’ll explore character, plot, structure and voice. You’ll also look at how you can create ideas for your writing and put your lessons into practice.  

Here’s what recent participants say:
"I enjoyed the balance of theory with real life experience. The tips and practical exercises we did, as well as the information about the publishing industry. Our teacher was passionate, enthusiastic and inspiring. She has the 'T-shirt' because she is a published author, not just someone teaching theory. This is her world and she did her best to give us some insider information and insights. I also loved her emphasis on having fun. Writing should be a pleasure - not hard work. This is an enjoyable course that gives one the courage to start writing and the tools to go about it professionally."
- Bronwyn Edwards

"This course provides the opportunity to think and FEEL more creatively around writing, feeling and seeing! It helps you to feel more alert to the art of life. The presenters are passionate and work hard EVERY MINUTE of the 2 hours to ensure we share that passion and dedication to the ups and downs of the craft of writing. If you need some help getting structure, ideas and establishing patterns around your writing practice, then this is a great course!"
- Sharon Niazi

Creative Writing Stage 1 with Laurine Croasdale
When
: Tuesdays starting Tuesday 31 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

DAYTIME Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Tuesdays starting Tuesday 19 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12noon
Cost: $395

ONLINE COURSE: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman
When
: Week beginning Monday 16 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






What we’re reading
This week our friend, Luisa Volpato, is reading Me, Myself and Lord Byron by Julietta Jameson.

Me, Myself and Lord Byron by Australian journalist Julietta Jameson follows the journey of one of England’s finest and most extravagant and scandalous poets, Lord Byron, from England to his self-imposed exile in Europe where he died at the age of 36. At the same time it is a highly personal account of Julietta’s own journey and period of personal exile as she travels in Byron’s footsteps in an attempt to reclaim her life, come to terms with her past, and face her future.

It is a story of parallel journeys and the two intertwine perfectly in a beautifully written and thoroughly enjoyable story. Set against a backdrop of Switzerland, Italy and Greece it also makes for a great travel tale. As a single woman who has just left her 30s behind her I could relate to many of Julietta’s thoughts, fears and feelings and found solace in her story. I looked forward to climbing into bed each night for the next instalment and was sorry when the journey had to come to an end.

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.





Apostrophe abuse
This package was sent to us just this morning.




We had a good giggle and had to share it with you.





WEBPICK: Shady Characters – the secret life of punctuation
Shady Characters is clearly a labour of love. Written by Keith Houston, a medical software engineer by day and punctuation nut by night, it features the fascinating stories of different marks of punctuation. From the common to the obscure, it’s a fascinating look at those marks we see everyday, but have never considered where they come from.

The lovely thing about this blog is it appeals to both typography and grammar geeks. And it’s fascinating! While still in its very early stages, the current posts are the result of a couple of years research on interrobangs (?!) and the pilcrow (the backwards P symbol preceding every paragraph in Word).

Check it out here.









Other upcoming courses
Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
When:
Week beginning Monday 16 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Sue White
When:
Week beginning Monday 16 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Laurine Croasdale/Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When
: Week beginning Monday 16 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Edit with Confidence with Deb Doyle
When
: Wednesday 18 May 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
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

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett – NEW DATE
When
: Tuesday 24 May 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Perfect Your Proofreading with Deb Doyle
When
: Friday 27 May 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle
When
: Friday 27 May 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Laurine Croasdale
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 31 May 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Boost Your Creativity with Laurine Croasdale
When:
Thursday 2 June 2011 and Thursday 9 June 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Marina Go
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 2 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Friday 3 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: Daytime How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Tuesday 7 June 2011 (two-hour morning seminar)
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $85

Seminar: Daytime Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Wednesday 8 June 2011 (two-hour morning seminar)
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $85

Seminar: Professional Business Writing with Mel Wilkinson
When
: Tuesday 14 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: Self-Publishing – How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Thursday 16 June 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

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

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 20 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding – NEW DATE
When:
Every Monday starting Monday 20 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Sell your ebook on Amazon with Steven Lewis
When
: Tuesday 21 June 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Writing about Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
When:
Wednesday 22 June 2011 and Wednesday 29 June 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 22 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard – NEW DATE
When
: Thursday 23 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $495

Course: Travel Writing: Get Paid for Your Adventures with Sue White
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 23 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Edit with Confidence with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Wednesday 29 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Blogging for Business with Steven Lewis
When
: Thursday 30 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

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: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Jeni Mawter – NEW DATE
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 5 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

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: Perfecting Your Pitch with Sue White
When
: Wednesday 13 July 2011 and Wednesday 20 July 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie – NEW DATE
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 27 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

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

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