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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.

9 February 2012

Thursday, February 09, 2012
In this issue:
  • TIP: Apostrophes and time
  • Voiceless Writing Prize – win publication with Allen & Unwin
  • Travel Memoir: Weekend Workshop
  • TIP: Cannot or can not?
  • The right way to write at work – Business Writing Essentials
  • What we’re readingMen Are Like a Box of
    Chocolates
    by Elly Klein
  • WEBPICK: The 20 “Best” Suspicious Quotation Marks

It's been another busy week at the Sydney Writers’ Centre. I love the vibe in our graduate forum where we’re hearing from former students who have successfully pitched their stories to publications – congratulations to everyone! It’s also buzzing at the Centre now that our business courses are back in full swing as well. We have new courses for you that will definitely make business writing an enjoyable and easy process.

In addition, I’m excited about our new course in Thriller Writing. When I want to escape, I love reading thrillers. Sometimes, they are so adrenalin-packed and full of suspense that I literally can’t put the book down. My heart races, my breath gets shorter and I all but break out in a cold sweat.

In our exciting new 5-week course (which will no doubt also keep
you on the edge of your seat), you’ll learn:
  • the eight must haves of a good thriller
  • how to find the story you want to tell
  • story structure, and how to incorporate key turning points
  • character creation – attributes, motivations
  • how to craft the all important opening lines
  • the dos and don’ts of action scenes
  • building pace and suspense
  • what literary agents/publishers look for in a thriller
  • how to craft a satisfying climax
  • and more

Thriller Writing with L.A. Larkin
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 15 March 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






What's new at the Sydney Writers' Centre




TIP: Apostrophes and time
Get Published reader, Stephan Overbeek, recently sent us this question:
 
"People tell me I have 'fifteen years' experience'. Why is there an apostrophe after years?"
 
The rule here is similar to that for apostrophes and possessive nouns. If the day/week/month is singular, the apostrophe is inserted before the s. For example:

It feels as though Sydney has had a year’s worth of rain in just a few months.

If the day/week/month is plural, then you use the apostrophe after the s. For example:

The new CEO has 15 years’ experience in banking.

And if you’re wondering why you need the apostrophe at all, it’s because you use apostrophes to indicate possession. The CEO actually has 15 years of experience in banking, and Sydney has had a year of rain in a few months.





Plotting and planning your stories
‘If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.’

There is some truth in this, especially for writers. Effectively planning your novel could mean the difference between having a publishable draft, and going back to the drawing board.

There are many different ways to plan a novel, and many different ways to build a plot. Our two-part masterclass on Plotting and Planning with author Kate Forsyth teaches you the techniques you need to make sure you don’t lose the plot.

What past participants say:
"All the detail provided in the plotting phase was at the perfect level to make a big difference to my current project! Kate is really great. She has relevant and interesting examples and is really knowledgeable about the industry."
- Michelle Wallace

"The course has helped me think more strategically about my novel, and to think through the important elements in a logical way."
- Barbara Watt

This course is taught by Kate Forsyth. Kate is an internationally bestselling author of more than 20 books for children and adults, including The Puzzle Ring, The Gypsy Crown, The Starthorn Tree, and the bestselling fantasy series ‘The Witches of Eileanan' and 'Rhiannon’s Ride'.

Plotting and Planning with Kate Forsyth
When
: Wednesdays 22 & 29 February 2012 (two evening classes)
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






Voiceless Writing Prize
This year Allen & Unwin and Voiceless, the animal protection institute, have come together to launch a unique, and generous, writing prize. The competition is designed to raise awareness of the role and value of animals in our society.
 
On offer is a chance to be published by Allen & Unwin in a collection of stories on this important topic, and a chance to win up to $15,000. The competition is open to writers of fiction and non-fiction and closes on Friday 16 March 2012.

You can find more details on the Writing Bar.






Student Success
This week we want to congratulate Aurora Lopez, who completed our Life Writing course with Patti Miller. Aurora has been living in the US and working on her memoir – a chapter of which she’s had published! Here’s what she wrote to us:

I completed a course with Patti Miller on memoir writing, which I adored. It was the beginning of the most exciting adventure for me. I moved to the US three years ago, and amidst the publishing jungle of New York, I have been lucky enough to have a chapter of my memoir The Secret Drawer published in the 17th issue of the literary magazine 34th Parallel: http://www.34thparallel.net/in-this-issue.html

Thank you to Patti and thank you for your courses and newsletter!






Travel Memoir: Weekend Workshops
Publishers and readers love travel memoir. The world may be shrinking but this genre is growing in popularity every day thanks to authors like Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, and of course Elizabeth Gilbert.

Travel Memoir takes a different set of skills to writing travel feature articles. You need to be able to turn your experiences into a compelling story that will grip readers from the first page. Whether you’re yet to take that trip of a lifetime, or you have travel journals from past holidays you’d like to turn into a memoir, the Travel Memoir course with Claire Scobie will show you how!

What past participants say:
"I wanted to write about my experiences and this course made me realise that I could actually do it. Claire was a warm, engaging presenter who really unlocked the creative potential in all of us."
- Chula Murray

"Claire is a phenomenal presenter with a wealth of writing technique knowledge and practical experience. She lives and breathes writing and it comes through as a passion that embraces and motivates her students."
- Penny Cannan

This course is taught by Claire Scobie. Claire is the author of Last Seen in Lhasa, winner of the Dolman Best Travel Book Award. So far, it has been translated into German, Dutch and Korean. She writes for numerous publications including the Daily Telegraph and the Observer Magazine in the UK, and is a contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald.

WEEKEND WORKSHOPS Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
When
: Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 February 2012 (two consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






TIP: Cannot or can not?
Is cannot one word or two? That’s a question that stumps many writers, but the form you choose will depend on the context.
 
The Macquarie Dictionary lists “cannot” as “a form of can not”, which suggests the two are interchangeable. However, cannot is most commonly used. AskOxford, and many other resources, prefer the use of cannot in formal writing. For example:

You cannot take sharp or dangerous objects on the flight.

In informal writing or speech, you can use the contraction “can’t”.






Want to go to the movies? Win tickets for The Grey
Thanks to Icon Movies we have 10 double passes for Liam Neeson’s latest thriller, The Grey, to give away. Here’s a bit more about the movie:

THE GREY tells the story of a group of oil-rig workers who find themselves stranded on the freezing Alaskan tundra after their plane home crashes.  Their efforts to survive and find a way home to their loved ones are threatened when the men come under attack by a pack of wolves, who see the humans as intruders in their territory.

If you want to win one of 10 double passes to The Grey just tell us who your favourite thriller character is (from a film or a book) and why.

Email your answers to courses [at] spindriftmedia [dot] com [dot] au by 5pm on Friday 17 February 2012.






The right way to write at work
When you’re at work, it’s vital your written communication is clear and concise, and easily understood by your reader. There are fundamental rules for business writing, but these rules are rarely taught in school or at university. That’s why we think our Business Writing Essentials seminar is crucial for anyone who wants to improve their written communication skills.

In this one-day seminar, you’ll learn:
  • a step-by-step guideline on how to write most business documents
  • valuable templates to help you write your letters and emails
  • the 11 Golden Rules of business writing
  • the right way to write salutations, honorifics and signoffs
  • how to use apostrophes correctly
  • frequently confused terms
  • and much more.

This seminar is taught by Tony Spencer-Smith. Tony is a corporate writer, editor and trainer, an award-winning novelist and former editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest magazine. Over the last eight years he has delivered writing training courses to many hundreds of people from numerous organisations including the ABC, Allianz, AMP, Macquarie Bank, Optus, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children and the Wesley Mission.

Business Writing Essentials with Tony Spencer-Smith
When
: Tuesday 28 February 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






Apostrophe will work for food
We love this sign, tweeted by @WstonesOxfordSt and sent to us by @Robert_Ashton.



We’re glad it hasn’t offered to help out with plurals too!






What we’re reading
This week Sydney Writers’ Centre office manager, Andrew Gillman, is reading Men Are Like a Box of Chocolates by Elly Klein. He writes:

Thanks to the folky wisdom of Forrest Gump, it has become a pop culture truism that "life is like a box of chocolates". But one writer, and Sydney Writers’ Centre graduate, Elly Klein, has turned that on its head somewhat.

Her recently released book, Men Are Like a Box of Chocolates, categorises men as various types of chocolate that she and her friends have had to sample during their time in the dating world. Its aim is to take a humourous look at life as a single woman and Elly remarks that it has struck a chord with its intended female audience.

“It gives (women) some comic relief from dating and trying to find Mr Right, maybe even some sound advice,” said Klein.

With Valentine’s Day looming, it looks to be the perfect book for a holiday that promises much for the romantic in all of us, but which is also fraught with some peril. Elly, who says she does fancy herself as a bit of a dating counsellor, encourages everyone to look for true love, but sample everything they can along the way.

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: The 20 “Best” Suspicious Quotation Marks
Thanks to Faun Harbord who sent us this amusing piece on the misuse of quotation marks. (You thought I was going to say apostrophes, didn’t you?)

This list of the 20 “Best” Suspicious Quotation Marks shows why you really should avoid using them to highlight words, when their intended use is to indicate a direct quote or speech.

Check it out here.









Other upcoming courses
Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 9 February 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Weekend Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter – SUMMER SCHOOL
When
: Saturday 11 February and Sunday 12 February 2012 (two consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Course: Weekend Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge – SUMMER SCHOOL
When
: Saturday 11 February and Sunday 12 February 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When:
Week beginning Monday 13 February 2012 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 20 February 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Sue White – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 20 February 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Travel Writing with Sue White – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 20 February 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Melina Marchetta – FULL
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 22 February 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Plotting and Planning with Kate Forsyth
When
: Wednesday 22 February and Wednesday 29 February 2012 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard
When
: Thursday 23 February 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Cost: $495

Seminar: Blogging for Business with Steven Lewis
When
: Friday 24 February 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Weekend Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie – SUMMER SCHOOL
When
: Saturday 25 February and Sunday 26 February 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Course: Weekend Life Writing with Patti Miller – FULL
When
: Saturday 25 February and Sunday 26 February 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: Business Writing Essentials with Tony Spencer-Smith – NEW SEMINAR
When
: Tuesday 28 February 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395


Seminar: How to Write a Business Book with Valerie Khoo
When
: Thursday 1 March 2012 (half-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 1.00pm
Cost: $295

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 5 March 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
When
: Every Monday starting Monday 5 March 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Tuesday 6 March 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Marina Go – NEW DATE
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 6 March 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Professional Business Writing with Sue White
When
: Wednesday 7 March 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
When:
Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 7 March 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Self-Publishing – How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Monday 12 March 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Thursday 15 March 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Thriller Writing with L.A. Larkin
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 15 March 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Writing about Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
When:
Thursday 15 March and Thursday 22 March 2012 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Monday 19 March 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Perfect your Proofreading with Deb Doyle
When
: Thursday 22 March 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Monday 26 March 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Weekend Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Marina Go – NEW DATE
When
: Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April 2012 (two consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Sell Your eBook on Amazon with Steven Lewis – NEW DATE
When
: Monday 2 April 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller – NEW DATE
When
: Every Friday starting Friday 13 April 2012 for six weeks
Time: 10.00am – 12noon
Cost: $450

Seminar: From Blog to Book with Kerri Sackville
When
: Monday 16 April 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Daytime Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter – NEW DATE
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 19 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: 10.00am – 12noon
Cost: $395

Seminar: Successful Freelancing with Valerie Khoo and Gayle Bryant
When
: Thursday 19 April 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 24 April 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

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

Course: Food Writing with Carli Ratcliff – NEW COURSE
When
: Saturday 28 April and Sunday 29 April 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00am – 4.00pm
Cost: $395

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

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

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

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


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