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October's Newsletter contains info on what I've been up to and what I've reading; the launch of the Writing the Dream anthology; some writing-related articles; and I announce the winners of the giveaway.
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Hi All

Welcome to all my new subscribers! I know inboxes are already overflowing, so I really appreciate you signing up for this, and I hope to make it worth your while! 

In this issue, read about:

  • October news and events
  • what I've been reading
  • the launch of the Writing the Dream anthology
  • some writing-related articles
  • winners of the giveaway
 
 

October was busy. Here's a rundown of some of the things I got up to:

I finally signed my contract. Never have I been so quick to sign on a dotted line! I'm not into reading long legal documents—I don't even read recipes or assembly instructions, let alone T&C's. Just ask my husband how much I read of what he puts in front of me. So, I was grateful to have an agent to do all the negotiations, and all I had to do was add my squiggle at the end.

Early in October, I conducted my first ever author interview. I chatted with Brigid Lowry in a 'Creative Conversation' at the FAWWA. Brigid made my job easy, but because it was my first time, I was a little nervous, but hid it well, apparently. I must admit, I swotted heavily prior to the interview. I read Brigid's memoir-cum-writing book, 'Still Life With Teapot', twice, and also read 'Guitar Highway Rose', a YA novel. I also took notes on everything I could find about her on google—I felt a bit weird, as if I was cyber-stalking, but I had a legit reason! At the end of the day, it really helped to go into an author interview feeling prepared.
A couple of weekends ago, I attended the inaugural Australian Short Story Festival. I'm not a short story writer, but I went because I needed inspiration. I'm having trouble making inroads into Novel #2—it's hard creating something from nothing—and I wanted to get my mind into a creative space. The sessions I attended prompted me to think playfully again, to forget about rules and planning, and just relax and have fun making stuff up. It has bled into my novel writing.
Photo by Mathew Barnes Photography.

Cate Kennedy (above) gave the keynote address at the opening, and prior to that Barry McGuire warmly welcomed us to country.
'I am not a writer,' he told us. 'But I am a book.'
I loved those words and, by the way, I disagree that he's not a writer. Anyone who can say a sentence like that is a writer.
I'm going to attempt a NaNoWriMo of sorts, but I have a son sitting Year 11 exams as well as his Associate Diploma in piano. He's giving a free recital of his programme on Sunday 20 November at 3pm at the Eileen Joyce Studio, UWA, Crawley. If you live in Perth and are interested in piano music, please come along and encourage a young musician. Just let me know if you want to come as the recital will be followed by afternoon tea and I need numbers for catering.

MEANWHILE IN THE ATTIC:


Since my last newsletter, I've had a number of visitors to the attic for my 'What it Means to be a Writer' series. Here are a few quotes from their essays—click the links to read more.

'It gave me permission to struggle on in my piece-meal life as a writer, caught between the demands of full time work, a family and wanting at the same time to lead a committed writer’s life. It’s possible to do both.' Elisabeth Hanscombe

'We cannot all be Jane Austen, or JD Salinger or JK Rowling. Someone has to write the movie reviews and put together the TV Guide. Someone needs to write the instruction manuals and explain how to program the VCR. Someone needs to compose the junk mail and write political speeches. Someone needs to write the little bitty news articles, that are deemed so unimportant they don’t deserve a by-line. Someone wrote those words. A writer.' Shannon Meyerkort

'Well, being away from my family and friends made me sit down on a regular basis and spew all my adventures, thoughts and daily Australian routines onto an airmail sheet of Basildon Bond.' Joyce Mathers

'Instead of locking myself away to pen my masterpiece, which I foolishly believed was the way to do it, I learned many new things, the most important of which: how to juggle!' Tabetha Rogers Beggs

'I lay on a bed in a darkened room, gel smothered all over one breast, and tried to pretend I was elsewhere while the sonographer pressed hard into my flesh. I avoided her gaze: I didn’t want to see bad news written across her face.' Nadia L King 

There’s no point just thinking when you are a writer, it’s never enough. Like a build-up of molten lava in a rumbling volcano, the words must spew forth, creating new landscapes, microcosms and weather patterns. Michele Nugent

I have more special writers coming up over the next few weeks: Gill Kenny, an aspiring novelist, has written a letter to her younger self; and Teena Raffa-Mulligan has written about finding enough space in her life to write.

If you'd like to read all the writers who've visited the attic over the past couple of months, click here.

WHAT I'VE BEEN WRITING:

I wrote a post about signing my publishing contract, and recently, I wrote about blogging and why I've stuck with it even though at times it's felt like a millstone around my neck, or, as one reader suggested, a large dog that requires constant feeding and grooming. If you do read my post, check out the comments from other bloggers as they give insights into why they started blogging and the benefits they've discovered. 

I'VE ALSO BEEN OUT AND ABOUT:

A few weeks' ago, I wrote a letter to my 12-year-old self for Jenn J McLeod's wonderful blog. I had a lot of advice for that dear girl, which was basically to ignore everything she was being told ...

I also wrote a post for Monique Mulligan's blog, 'Write, Note, Reviews', in which I lamented the loss of childhood freedom for modern kids. I talked about my childhood, when adults did their adult business and left us kids to play on the road, literally—we skated down the middle of the road, without pads or helmets or adult supervision. Not that I'd want go back to those days, but I wonder if we've swung the pendulum a bit far the other way. I certainly had a freedom that my kids have never known.
 

What I've Read:

The Windy Season by Sam Carmody

It took me a while to get into this novel, but once I was in, it took off. It's a coming-of-age story about young Paul, whose brother has gone missing from Stark, a grungy fishing town on the West Australian coast. Paul sets off in search of his brother, and heads up to Stark. The story is tough and gritty—there's sea-sickness so vividly described you feel nauseous as you read—and, with the exception of a few, the characters are rough, heavy drinking, drug-taking, and generally not very nice. It's incredibly well written—I see why he's been compared to Tim Winton—and I'm going to gaze into my crystal ball and predict award short-listings and lots of good things in Sam Carmody's future.

Leaving Elvis by Michelle Michau-Crawford

I first read Michelle's short story, 'Leaving Elvis' in 2013, when it won the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, and it made me cry. This book is a collection of interlinked short stories that build on that one. The book is described as a short story collection, but it reads more like a novel. It tells the story of three generations of the same family, all scarred by events beyond their control. It covers dark subjects—the death of a child, alcoholism, extra-marital affairs, domestic violence. I loved it and couldn't put it down. I felt moved by the characters, and as for the ending—it fits so perfectly and brings it full circle. 
 

What I'm currently reading:


Olive Ketteridge by Elizabeth Strout 

After reading and loving 'My Name is Lucy Barton' earlier in the year, I sought out 'Olive Kitteridge', especially once I heard it had won the Pulitzer. I thought it was a novel, and was a bit confused by the scene and point of view changes, until I realised it's actually a series of short stories, albeit interlinked. As it wasn't what I was expecting, it took me a while to get into it, but now I'm really starting to enjoy it. Olive's a bit crotchety, but underneath she's actually very fragile. Like in this touching paragraph:

'What does Suzanne know about a heart that aches so badly at times that a few months ago it almost gave out, gave up altogether? It is true she doesn't exercise, her cholesterol is sky-high. But all that is only a good excuse, hiding how it's her soul, really, that is wearing out.'
 

What I'm about to read:


The Good People by Hannah Kent

This is our book club selection for the month, and having loved 'Burial Rites' and met Hannah when I heard her speak recently, I'm looking forward to it.
Also on my list is Isabelle Li's 'A Chinese Affair'. Isabelle and I were at Varuna together back in 2014, and whilst there she read excerpts from some of these stories. She has a beautiful turn of phrase, and I'm looking forward to reading her short story collection.
My reading for the next couple of weeks ...
Finally, a quote, and I can personally vouch for its truth:
'Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.'

Kurt Vonnegut
That's about it for my news. I hope everyone has a productive month, whether you're attempting NaNoWriMo or sitting exams. For all of those sitting exams, I wish you luck and remember that it's not the be all and end all, and how well you do is no measure of you as a person.

Best wishes,

Louise x
WRITING THE DREAM ANTHOLOGY
Serenity Press

24 Authors
One Dream
24 Inspiring Stories

Available for preorder now from Serenity Press and Booktopia

WRITING THE DREAM 


This anthology features essays by established authors, such as Natasha Lester, Anna Jacobs, Juliet Marillier, Sara Foster, Jenn J McLeod, and by emerging and aspiring authors, such as me!

We share our stories of the pathway to publication, and talk not only about the highs, but the failures, too. Each author has also written five tips for writers. 

It's the type of book you can dip into and out of at your leisure, and we're hoping it will inspire people to pick up a pen and write.

We're celebrating the official launch on 18 November at the Centre for Stories, and at another public function on 27 November at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre.

Please come along and join us—there will be books for sale and authors available for signings.

INTERESTING ARTICLES


5 Reasons Why Novelists Should Write Short Stories 
I read this post on Writers Edit just before I attended the short story festival. I've written about two short stories in my life, and it got me thinking that maybe I should write more as they help develop the writing craft, with the added bonus of building a portfolio and getting your name out there, especially if you're commended in or win an award.  

Vulnerability on the Page: Mining Your Own Dark Corners.
I loved this article, and it's particularly pertinent for those of us who write personally as it talks about ways of taking the personal and making it universal, which is, after all, what we're seeking when we tell our stories—connection and resonance. 

GIVEAWAY WINNERS

This month's winners of a V&A bookmark from the Literary Gift Company are:
 
Caroline Whiting
Jenn McLeod

Thanks for signing up, and I'll send you both an email so you can let me know your address and which design you'd like, and I'll post them out. 

Thank you to all subscribers to my newsletter. To those who are reading but haven't yet subscribed, please add your name to the mailing list to be in the running for next month's giveaway—a beautiful notebook in which to record what you've read. You should see the inside ...
Copyright © 2016 Louise Allan, All rights reserved.


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