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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.

17 March 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011
In this issue:
  • Greetings from Austin, Texas
  • TIP: A spelling dilemma
  • Student Success – Julian Howard shortlisted in Stringybark Awards
  • Random House Batavia Short Story Competition
  • How you can self-publish: student success
  • Did you know? Palindromes and the Sator Square
  • WEBPICK: The Gender Genie

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered as a result of the devastating events in Japan during this past week. We have some online students living in Japan and if you have been affected in any way, please do let us know what we can do to help.

This newsletter comes to you from Austin, Texas. I’m currently here at the South by South West Festival and it’s been a busy schedule of book readings, book launches, meet-ups and sessions with some of the world’s top thought leaders. I’ve also attended panels on the Future of Journalism and participated in discussions on the trends we’re seeing in the world of words. I’m looking forward to reporting back to you on these emerging trends when I get a moment to catch my breath. So stay tuned to our blog for that.

I’ve also been filing stories for Fairfax while I’ve been here, reporting on what some of the Australians are doing here at the Festival. In researching these stories, I’ve been amazed at how great some people are at PR – while others can be utterly useless. I know that sounds harsh but I just think it’s such a
wasted opportunity if you don’t make the most out of getting
publicity for your business or your cause.

That’s why I recommend the seminar “PR and Media Releases That Get Results” with Catriona Pollard. By the end of the seminar you’ll walk away with:

  • a clear blueprint for your business
  • an understanding of what should be in a media release
  • knowledge about how the media works
  • step by step guidelines on how to contact journalists/editors
  • the confidence that you’ll be able to implement your own campaign
  • and much more.

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.







TIP: A spelling dilemma from Grammar Girl
Grammar Girl covered an interesting spelling, um, dilemma this week – do you write “dilemna” or “dilemma”? I’ve seen both versions used in various publications and even books. Apparently even the French get it wrong, sometimes spelling “dilemme” as “dilemne”.
 
Here’s what Grammar Girl said about it:
 
The only correct spelling is "dilemma".
 
"Dilemma" comes from Greek. "Di" means "two or twice", and "lemma" means "assumption or premise". A dilemma is a choice between two undesirable options.

 
It’s possible the confusion is caused by other English words that are spelled with “mn” but said as “mm”, for example autumn, hymn,
solemn
and column. But in this case, it’s definitely “dilemma” with the double m.

If you’re ever in doubt of how to spell words like this, check your dictionary.
 





Whoops!
Last week’s tip on the difference between “defuse” and “diffuse” had a tiny (!) error in it. Did you spot it? Some of our keen-eyed subscribers did.

We said that “diffuse” was an adjective, but in our example we used it as a verb. Thanks to everyone who emailed us to point it out.



Student Success – and how to kickstart your creative writing
This week we heard from another former Creative Writing student, Julian Howard, whose work was shortlisted in the recent Stringybark Awards. Here’s what he emailed us:
 
“I have been lucky enough to be included in the cut for publication in the book ‘The Umbrella's Shade' after entering the Stringybark Short Story Competition. I completed Creative Writing Stage 1 and wanted to say a big thanks to Jeni Mawter and you guys for helping me start out.”
 
Congratulations Julian! We’re looking forward to hearing about more story successes in the future.
 
If you want to kick-start your creative writing, short story writing competitions are a great way to keep up your motivation, and our Creative Writing Stage 1 course will show you how to write the best possible story.
 
Covering all the essential elements, including plot, character and voice, this 5-week evening course will help you refine your writing and build your confidence.
 
Here’s what some recent participants had to say about the course:
"The course was very practical and simply presented. It worked really well with a balance of listening to Jeni and doing exercises that we shared with the group. The access to Jeni was great. She was enthusiastic and encouraging about writing, and sharing what was clearly a wealth of experience. If you're interested in writing and need a motivating hand / kick up the bum to get started, try a course. Listening to Jeni, I realised that the only limitations to getting started are with me and I just need to start typing."
- Jo Cross

"I enjoyed having an experienced writer explain some of the different methods of writing and cracking into the industry. Jeni was fantastic. She was very sympathetic to the needs of new writers. An excellent presenter, and a good course."
- Maya Sebestyen
 
Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Tuesdays starting Tuesday 22 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395
 
Click here for more information or to enrol online.





Random House Batavia Short Story Competition
The story of Batavia, a Dutch East India Company vessel shipwrecked off the West Australian coast in 1629, is one of the most fascinating, and bloody, chapters in Australia’s history. It has inspired plenty of writers over the years and the latest, Batavia by Peter Fitzsimons, has just been released by Random House.
 
To celebrate, they want you to write your own story inspired by the wreck of the Batavia for a chance to win $500 cash. Two prizes will be awarded – one to the best story as judged by the publisher at Random House, and one to the People’s Choice.

Stories up to 1,000 words will be eligible and must include the sentence: “Described by author Peter Fitzsimons as a true, adults-only version of Lord of the Flies meets A Nightmare on Elm Street, the story of Batavia takes place in 1629.”

Entries close on Thursday 31 March 2011.
Full details can be found on the Random Books Facebook page.





Writing Letters and Emails – do you know the rules?
Most of us write every day – we write emails and letters to customers, colleagues and managers – yet so few of us are confident communicating this way. Despite being such a major part of many jobs, the art of writing a clear and concise letter or email is rarely taught in school or universities.

With some simple tools and templates, you can improve your writing at work. Our one-day seminar, Writing Letters and Emails, is a practical and informative day that will show you the right way to structure your correspondence, every time.

Here’s what some recent participants had to say about the seminar:
"The presenter was very good. She was informative and interested in making the content appropriate for all individuals in the class. This course is a good way to 'brush up' on skills and learn new ones.
The teacher was very approachable and the location was great."
- Anna Cummins

"Deb is a friendly easy going presenter with loads of little tips on how to structure information/details into an email or letter."
- Candice Arzapitian

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

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





More Student Success
We were thrilled to hear from Christa McDermott this week. After completing a number of courses with us, including the Travel Writing course and How to Get Your Book Published, she has written and self-published her first book, It Happened in Florence. Here’s what she wrote:
 
“Inspired by attending various fabulous courses with you over the last 18 months, I seriously got in to action with my writing last year and co-wrote It Happened in Florence with my friend and colleague – which was heaps of fun. We self-published and the book is now available on Amazon! I’ll be sending you through a copy when I get my hands on my promotional ones!”

Congratulations, Christa! We can’t wait to see the book.





Self-Publishing: How to do it
Like Christa, many people choose to self-publish their books as it gives them total control over the entire process. It can be incredibly rewarding but it’s also very hard work – you might be surprised how much is involved in publishing and selling a book.
 
Many people choose self-publishing over the more traditional publishing route for various reasons. In particular, it suits non-fiction authors who want to write about their area of expertise. If this is your preferred option, you need to be well-prepared. Our next self-publishing seminar is coming up soon and is ideal if you want to know if this is the path for you.

Here’s what recent participants had to say about the seminar:
"The seminar was presented by a very knowledgeable presenter who covered every aspect of self publishing and was able to answer all questions raised. Geoff was excellent – amiable, accessible, knowledgeable and professional."
- Andrew Akratos

"Good no-nonsense, practical information from someone who has 'been there, done that'. This seminar gave me some very good information that I can use to make an informed decision about whether or not to self publish."
- Betty Sheppard
 
Self-Publishing: How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Wednesday 23 March 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






Did you know? Palindromes
I’m sure most of you know what a palindrome is – a word or phrase that can be read the same way in either direction. (Actually, any units in a sequence that can be read forwards or backwards, including numbers and music.) But did you know about the earliest known palindrome, the Sator Square?
 
The Sator Square is a Latin word square featuring the words SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS. Written in a square, the words read the same top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right and right to left (one possible translation being “the farmer uses his plough as his form of work”). The earliest known example was discovered in the ruins of Pompeii and dates back to 79AD. Other examples have been found all over Europe and even in Egypt and Turkey.
 
Many religions attribute powerful mystical properties to the square and it has been used in folk magic for everything from removing jinxes to protecting livestock. Whatever its powers, it has deservedly fascinated linguists and wordsmiths for centuries.





What we’re reading:
This week freelance travel writer Briar Jensen tells us about what she’s reading – What’s Their Story? by Bruce Moore.

Briar writes:
Ever wondered how the word “chunder” came about? Or the origins of words like “dunny”, “furphy” and “dinkum”? And what on earth is a “wowser”?
 
There are many guides to Aussie lingo, but I recently came across What’s Their Story? A History of Australian Words by Bruce Moore. Published in 2010 by Oxford University Press, the book takes a look at the history behind 67 Aussie words, from Anzac to yous(e).
 
I’m not a budding etymologist (I had to check how to spell that), but I do wonder how some of our Aussie expressions came into being, like “tall poppy” and “budgie smugglers”.
 
Moore, one of Australia’s foremost lexicographers, comprehensively but succinctly sums up the often tangled web of each word’s origin. Various theories – true, false, or unverifiable – make interesting reading, along with examples of the word used in Australian media. Footnoted references make further research easy.
   
For me, this is not the sort of book to read from start to finish, but to delve into at whim, choosing a random word that takes my fancy. It currently sits on my desk, so when I need a break from writing I have a browse. Now, what exactly does “bludger” mean?

 
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: The Gender Genie
Here’s something I didn’t know I needed until I found it – an online tool that can predict the gender of the writer of any text. OK, need is probably an overstatement, but it’s certainly a fun time-waster!

The Gender Genie claims to be able to tell you whether a piece of writing has been written by a man or a woman. Using a simplified algorithm developed by a group of computational linguists based in Israel (no, I cannot tell you what a computational linguist is...) the Genie will predict the gender of the writer and apparently has an accuracy rate of 80%. All you do is paste the text into the box (preferably at least 500 words) and you’ll be given a male and a female rating based on the type of language being used.

This tool has gotten a lot of attention (even the New York Times
and the Guardian have devoted column space to it) and is fascinating, if not always correct.

Check it out here.








Other upcoming courses
Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 21 March 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
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
When
: Wednesday 30 March 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett – FULL
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: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Sue White – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 4 April 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
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
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
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

Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Sue White – NEW DATE
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 12 April 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Tuesday 12 April 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.00pm
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
When
: Thursday 14 April 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

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

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

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett – NEW DATE
When
: Thursday 21 April 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Perfecting Your Pitch with Sue White
When
: Thursday 28 April 2011 and Thursday 5 May 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

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
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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