Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Mini-comps the perfect prompts

Social media as a source of inspiration


I’ve been writing a lot in the past couple of weeks. In fact, I’ve completed several stories – and a few have been published. And I’ve developed the urge to see my words up in lights.

The Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) is running the 8WordStory competition until 24 November 2017. The prize? You might see your work on an electronic billboard in Brisbane. Don’t live in Brisbane? Goa Billboards has a website where you can view live feeds of each of its billboards.
a screenshot of a twitter post with the following text: The road unfurled ahead, its infinite choices beckoning
An #8WordStory from Twitter

At this stage the program is ‘publishing’ 10 authors each week during the morning peak and another 10 during the evening peak, with the remainder of the longlist of 60 getting their names up in lights at off-peak times.

It’s less a competition and more a community – schools are competing against one another, teachers are using the concept in classrooms, and writers from across Australia are answering the challenge.
A screenshot of a Twitter post with the following text: The cat just wanted a human to enslave
And another.

I’ve been trying to do one a day, and have found myself sitting in traffic or lying in bed tapping up to eight fingers to try and express an idea in eight words. You can tweet using #8WordStory and tagging @qldwriters, or enter through the website, although the chances of being published on the website or getting on a billboard seem greater if you go through the online form.

A screenshot of a Twitter post with the following texts: She realised he was neither problem nor solution
I pilfered this from a WIP.
Each story should be on one of four themes – change, love, home or play – and be no more than eight words. You’ll get an email or be notified via Twitter if your #8WordStory has been published, and QWC publishes lists of billboard authors and locations on its Twitter feed. A warning: this is addictive. There are pages of wonderful ultra-micro-short-short stories to trawl through, and you’ll find yourself trying to distil moments and stories down to eight finger-taps worth of words.

Here are few links to my stories that made the small screen:

Did you think I was joking
about tunnelling puppies? 
For me, the past three months have been packed with sick family, injuries, appointments, medical tests, work, school holidays, puppies tunnelling out of the laundry and into the linen cupboard, and a stack of other time-sucking, brain-chewing high-level procrastinations that have made it hard to focus on writing. So a story I can put together in a few minutes? Perfect.

Competitions, programs and hashtags such as #8WordStory crop up occasionally, and are a great way to get your mind back into creative gear.

The Digital Writers Festival (24 October-30 November 2017), for example, is running the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge. A prompt is published each day at 9am, and you have 24 hours to write up to 500 words responding to that prompt. Daily winners are chosen, and the overall winner will receive $1000 and publication in Seizure. If NaNoWriMo’s too much, this one might be perfect.

The Melbourne Writers Festival has in the past held micro-review competitions over Twitter, which is a great source of ongoing or short-term prompts. Check out #1lineWed – one-line Wednesday – for some excellent micro-fictions. Fun pop-up prompts include #MakeAHorrorMovieBritish, #MakeAPlaySpooky, #MakeABookMeaty – you get the idea. These are all prompts and word plays that not only engage you creatively, but can help you engage in the creative community. And most of all, they’re a lot of fun.





Monday, 19 June 2017

Week packed with writing

EWF, NWC, workshopping, Writing Disability, Fan Fiction, YA’ll for Brunch. And words on the page!


The past week – and the weekend especially – has left me both energised and exhausted to the point where I can’t decide whether to get stuck into my MS or lie facedown on the floor with the music up full-bore. Or write a blog about it. Apparently.

Two soy flat whites in red mugs
The writing meet-up started, as normal,
with coffee. The first of many!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Social media watch

This week I was reminded that not all media is social


I’m careful about how I use social media. I keep my location and other personal details off Twitter and Facebook, and my personal Facebook page is locked down.

My writing page is open to anyone, but I still keep certain personal information off it.

Like many, if not most, women I receive constant friend requests from men – usually middle-aged, widowers, American and ex-armed services – because obviously we all have soft spots for guys who’ve fought for (in this case) another country. Not many posts on his timeline? He’s new to Facebook, reaching out because he’s alone with no woman to look after him. Who’s cooking his dinner? Will he remember what day of the week it is without someone there to remind him? Hmm… maybe I can be the one to nurture him. Then there’s that post-army pension he’s getting, and he’s standing on a yacht… You get the idea.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Three months of turmoil

To say the past few months have been chaotic doesn’t cover it.


A period of ups and downs, tumultuous. Good news, bad news. A little from column A, a little from column B. Insert relevant cliché here.

I finally took the plunge and subbed manuscript no. 1 out to agents, sending either queries or the opening chapters depending on their submission guidelines, and received some feedback and a couple of no thanks.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

#LoveOzYA book challenge

A month of great Australian YA reads


This month I've taken part in a fantastic online challenge run by Michael Earp - AKA @littleelfman on Twitter and Instagram. Michael runs these challenges occasionally, involving posting a book in a specific category that matches a set theme each day of a month, and this time that category was Australian young adult books. 

Michael also took over as chairman of the #LoveOzYA committee this month, and will be a fantastic successor to Danielle Binks, who's done an amazing job as one of the driving forces behind the campaign to encourage Australians to read local books.

Monday, 13 February 2017

HARDCOPY is back


Non-fiction writers: this one’s for you


the logo and text for the 2017 HARDCOPY program
*Applications for the 2017 HARDCOPY program are now closed. Good luck to all the applicants, and I look forward to meeting you all online!

Not too many things have me out of my chair doing an actual happy dance, but the news that the Australia Council funded the ACT Writers Centre’s HARDCOPY program for another year did just that. 


I was lucky enough to be selected as one of thirty emerging writers from across Australia to take part in HARDCOPY in 2016, which focussed on fiction. The program alternates between fiction and non-fiction year to year, and was the most valuable experience I’ve had so far as a writer.