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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.

26 April 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012
In this issue:
  • TIP: Why shouldn’t you use adverbs?
  • Boost your creativity
  • Alan Marshall short story award
  • Where do “nerds” come from?
  • Learn with us – online
  • TIP: No please in please rsvp
  • What we’re readingA Game of Thrones by George R.R.Martin
  • WEBPICK: Easy Street Prompts

This week is a HUGE one for me because I submitted the manuscript for my book to the publisher. I should be used to the process as it’s my sixth book, but it’s still hard work!

It’s a business book about storytelling for entrepreneurs and I’ve been so lucky to meet and interview some fascinating people during my research for it.

I’m particularly excited because, in case you haven’t noticed lately, the business book genre has grown in a big way. Gone are the days when there were only a handful of books in the business section of the book store. These days there are entire walls in some stores dedicated to this genre.

If you’ve considered writing a business book, you’re probably an entrepreneur, expert, consultant, or coach. That’s why I’m so excited to be presenting the seminar, How to write a business book.

This seminar will cover:
  • how to make your business book different from the rest of the market
  • the right way to structure your book
  • innovative ways to keep your reader interested and engaged
  • whether you should write it yourself, or outsource to a ghostwriter
  • your publishing options – mainstream publishers versus self-publishing
  • how to use your book as a lead generation tool
  • the basics of publicity, marketing and promotion
  • and MUCH more.
I’m only holding this seminar in May and November this year!

How to Write a Business Book with Valerie Khoo
When:
Friday 4 May 2012 (half-day seminar)
Time:
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Cost:
$295

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





What's new at the Sydney Writers' Centre
  • Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition finalists have been announced! Click here for the list. You can still be a part of the competition by voting in the People’s Choice Awards.

  • Filling fast: How to Get Your Book Published, Monday 7 May 2012.

  • Legendary American broadcaster Ira Glass on storytelling – watch the video on Writing Bar.




TIP: Why shouldn’t you use adverbs?
The poor adverb. Often maligned by writers of fiction, for many the dreaded –ly words are like the literary equivalent of fingernails down the blackboard. But why are they considered so bad?
 
Adverbs are descriptive words that can be used to alter the meaning of verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. Adverbs that modify verbs usually come after the verb and often end in –ly. For example:
She ran quickly.
It rained heavily.
Adverbs can also modify adjectives. These adverbs are: very, extremely, really, totally, absolutely, quite, fairly, well. In this case, they’ll usually come before the adjective. For example:
He was running very late for his appointment.
We’re totally impressed with the renovations on the new apartment.
While adverbs are a legitimate form in English, you do need to watch how often you use them in your writing. If you find you’re using ­a lot of ­–ly words, make sure they’re needed. Often, writers inadvertently slip an adverb into their writing and it’s totally unnecessary. For example, “shouted loudly” or “carefully examine” or “totally unnecessary”! 





Boost your creativity and get started writing fiction
Want to know how to boost your creativity and explore the world of writing fiction? Our next Creative Writing Stage 1 course starts soon and this is your chance to get those ideas out of your head and onto the page.
 
This five-week course will show you how to turn your dream of writing into a reality. You’ll learn about what makes great fiction and how to apply these skills to your own writing. You’ll also learn how to tap into your imagination and how to draw from everyday experiences to inspire your stories. Whether you’ve experimented with writing fiction before or you’re a complete beginner, this course will help you get started.
 
What past participants say:
"Jeni was great! I had so much fun listening, writing, talking and I loved all of her advice and motivation."
- Chantelle Ravenswood

"The Sydney Writers' Centre helps to get your ideas out of your imagination and onto paper. Plus, the location is amazing and you are spoilt with a great view!"
- Shelley Hall

Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Thursdays starting Thursday 3 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395
 
Click here for more information or to enrol online.






Alan Marshall Short Story Award
If you’ve completed your creative writing course then your next step is to put what you’ve learnt into practice. The best way to do this is to write, and what better motivation to write than short story competitions!
 
One of Australia’s most well-known is the Alan Marshall Short Story Award. Held in memory of short story writer and author of the classic I Can Jump Puddles, the competition is open to all Australian residents. The open section is for short stories up to 2,500 words long and offers a first prize of $2,000 cash. There are also prizes for local writers (in the Nillumbik Shire Council area in Victoria) and young writers.
 
Check out all the details here.






Where do “nerds” come from?
These days, we’re all familiar with the word “nerd”. The Macquarie Dictionary describes one as: “a person who is unpopular by reason of not participating in the social life of a school, college, etc., because of an obsession with study, computers, etc.”

But where did the word come from? The first known appearance of the word in print was in a story by Dr. Seuss “If I Ran the Zoo”. In it, a character said:
“I’ll sail to Ka-Troo and bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo, A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker, too!”





Varuna Sydney Writers’ Festival
Less than three weeks to go until the 2012 Sydney Writers’ Festival kicks off, and we’re busy planning our festival schedule. One event we’d love to attend features our own life writing guru, Patti Miller. She’ll be discussing Memoir: Public Issues and Private Lives with Robert Hemley and Carol Major at the Carrington Hotel in the Blue Mountains.
 
For younger readers, there’s also a Varuna Sydney Writers’ Festival Children’s Day featuring some of Australia’s best writers for young people, including our own creative writing presenter, James Roy.
 
There are lots of events happening in the Mountains as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. You can find all the details here.






Learn online from the best
We may be known as the Sydney Writers’ Centre, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be an international writers’ centre… If you don’t live in Sydney or prefer to learn online, you can still join us for some of our most popular courses. And that’s exactly what many students from around Australia and the world have already done.
 
If you’re interested in writing for magazines, writing fiction, writing for kids or writing travel articles, we have an online course for you. The courses are interactive and cover the same great content we teach at our face-to-face classes, and you’ll also benefit from the expertise of your own online tutor.
 
We schedule online courses very regularly so there’ll be a course and a date to suit you.  
 
What past participants say:
"It was easy and convenient doing an online course. The best thing was being able to study around my busy life, when and where it suited me."
- Vanessa Bernardo

“This is one of the best online courses that I’ve done.”
- Michelle Crutcher
 
ONLINE COURSE Magazine and Newspaper Writing with Sue White/Allison Tait
When
: Week beginning Monday 30 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online

ONLINE COURSE Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman
When
: Week beginning Monday 30 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.

For more online courses click here.





TIP: No need to say please
We’ve all seen it – a wedding or party invite with the words “Please RSVP…” While it might seem polite to ask “please” when requesting a response, there’s absolutely no need for it.
 
We all know that RSVP is derived from the French phrase, répondez s'il vous plait, meaning “please reply”. And here’s the problem with asking to “please rsvp” – the phrase already has a ‘please’ in it so there’s no need to add it again.






Did you know?
This year’s announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners created news not so much for those who won, but for the fact an award for fiction was not given. For the three shortlisted authors it must have come as a shock that the board could not agree on one outstanding novel for the year.
 
Maybe they’ll take some comfort in the fact that many great authors struggled to achieve fame and fortune in their lifetimes – some receiving no recognition until long after they died. Consider these initial reactions to some of literature’s greatest novels:
 
“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
– Publisher’s rejection of George Orwell’s Animal Farm
 
“It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.”
Graham’s Lady Magazine on Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights
 
“It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass, only that he did not burn it afterwards.”
– Thomas Wentworth Higginson in The Atlantic, 1867 on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
 
You can find more examples of ill-judged book reviews here.






How you can edit with confidence
To turn even the clumsiest writing into clear and concise communication, you need to know the rules of editing. Many of us have to edit documents at work – correspondence, reports, proposals – but if you’re not familiar with the process, you may be spending more time on this than you need to.

In one day, we can show you how to edit for structure and style, how to set up and use style guides, and show you the editorial style rules you need to know. After our Editing Essentials seminar you’ll be able to tackle all your editing tasks with confidence and efficiency.

What past participants say:
"Very practical, clear and easy to understand advice. This is definitely the best course of this type that I have attended."
- Catherine Thrum

"Deb was brilliant! She has amazing knowledge and knew how to make the seminar fun."
- Aine Dowling

Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Thursday 3 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






What we’re reading
This week Sydney Writers’ Centre course manager, Danielle Williams, is reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R.Martin. She writes:

It’s been a long time since I took on a good fantasy series, and as there’s been so much hype around the Ice and Fire series by George R.R.Martin, I figured this was a good one to immerse myself in.

Book 1 of the series, A Game of Thrones, introduces us to the noble houses of Westeros, a large island continent divided into seven kingdoms. Told from several points of view, the book begins in Winterfell, where Eddard Stark and his family are uprooted from their ancestral home so Stark can take up a position as the “Hand of the King”.

I wasn’t sure at first that I was going to get into this book. There was some hokey symbolism early in the story that I worried was a sign of things to come. Happily, it wasn’t. The pace of the story is incredible and I’ve quickly gotten to the “I can’t put this book down even though it’s almost 1am” stage. There are all the elements of good fantasy fiction here, but it’s darker than other series I’ve read, and this gives the story a more mature feel.

Being only ⅓ of the way through book 1 of the series, I know I’ve got a lot of late-night reading ahead of me, but I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the journey.

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: Easy Street Prompts
Need more than just a word to get your creativity flowing? Then Easy Street Prompts is the place to go. Here you’ll find visual prompts – including photos, paintings and even short videos.

It’s the perfect place for the “terminally creative” to go if they’re feeling the dreaded writers’ block coming on.

Check it out here.










Other upcoming courses
Course: Travel Writing with Sue White
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 26 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Blogging for Business with Steven Lewis
When
: Friday 27 April 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 30 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
When:
Week beginning Monday 30 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Thursday 3 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 3 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: How to Write a Business Book with Valerie Khoo
When
: Friday 4 May 2012 (half-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Cost: $295

Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Monday 7 May 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
When:
Week beginning Monday 7 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Travel Writing with Sue White
When:
Week beginning Monday 7 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Business Writing Essentials with Tony Spencer-Smith
When
: Tuesday 8 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Marina Go
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 9 May 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Writing for the web with Grant Doyle
When
: Thursday 10 May 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $450

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

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 – NEW DATE
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

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

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

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

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 – NEW DATE
When
: Tuesday 10 July 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Build Your Profile Using Twitter with Steven Lewis – NEW DATE
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 – NEW DATE
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 17 July 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 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

WRITING TOURS
Writing in Bali with Patti Miller
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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