You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and have to stop to check there aren’t hidden cameras because it’s like it’s been written just for you? Well, as a teenager, bestselling author Kathy Lette’s Puberty Bluesresonated with me (along with her Dolly articles) because the book was set in the very streets I grew up in. Yes, I grew up in Sylvania, in “The Shire”. (The Sutherland Shire that is, not the one in Middle Earth populated by hobbits.)
Well just last week I had the chance to hear Kathy speak at a Business Chicks breakfast. She has certainly led a colourful life. She talked about how she turned down a date with George Clooney (I know, right?), and how she’s had all sorts of people living in her attic (thanks to her humans rights lawyer husband Geoffrey Robertson) like Salman Rushdie, fallen politicians, and Julian Assange. And when she throws dinner parties, the likes of Hugh Jackman and the Minogues come over.
But while her real life appears full of celebrity, her books are often a cheeky look at the little things that affect us: friendships, annoying husbands, challenging children, mountains of laundry and the cocktails required to keep you sane. If you love this stuff, you may also love our weekend Popular Women’s Fiction course.
Speaking of Sir Salman Rushdie, he’s down from the attic and is one of the speakers at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, which kicks off today. And I’ll also be attending the ProBlogger conference next week in Queensland. It’s a busy time!
Have a fab week!
What our graduates are saying
We don’t just run courses in fiction and creative writing. Our business courses are hugely popular for brushing up on your professional writing skills…
“Kate was an engaging teacher who gave insightful, real life examples. She has a warm and friendly personality and is passionate about writing in plain English. I’ve already recommended this course to our HR department as I believe many of our staff would benefit from this course.” – Vanessa Seaton (Business Writing Essentials)
“Deb was fantastic. She really knows her stuff. I now have a better basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation.” – Stephanie Johnston (Grammar and Punctuation Essentials)
Q&A: Hone sweet home
Q: Hi guys, can you clear up whether it’s “to hone” in on something, or “home in”?
A: Not until you tell us which one you think it is.
Q: I’m not telling. Your smug vitriol scares me.
A: Then we’re not telling you.
Q: Well this is awkward.
Q: Okay, I think it’s “home in”, but my friend is adamant it’s “hone”.
A: Well, breathe a sigh of relief, because our missile of smugness has bypassed you and is currently homing in on your friend. That’s right, just like a missile (or a pigeon) “homes in”, so too does the phrase.
Q: So why do people think it’s “hone”?
A: Well, we’re getting into “eggcorn” territory again – phrases that are wrong, but COULD be correct. After all, to hone is to sharpen, e.g. “to hone one’s skills”. So if you “hone in on something” you could be sharpening your focus etc. And something else is also happening with this one.
Q: What’s that?
A: English is an ever-evolving language, and the usage of “hone in” is becoming more common – especially in North America. It’s a “corruption” that has taken hold. After all, homing pigeons aren’t all too common these days, and “hone” as a verb is trending more and more. Way back in 1980, George Bush used “hone in” in a speech, and it’s even made it to American dictionaries in the past decade.
Q: Ah, so, um, am I still right?
A: Yeah, here in Australia (and the whole world, for now), it’s still more correct to use “home in”. The Macquarie Dictionary simply lists “hone in” as a confusion of the correct usage. So, for now, make yourself at “home”. But know that “hone” is homing in on it fast!
Podcast: Episode 25
This episode you’ll hear all about goals, editing features vs editing fiction, bad agents and we talk to Liane Moriarty, bestselling author of The Husband’s Secretand Big Little Lies about plotting vs pantsing. And much much more!
Last week, we wanted the coolest title to go with our scarfed man cover. OMG, this was so much fun – and your suggestions were great! (We’d love to see “Red tape: The true story of Australia’s first legal S&M club” hit the shelves!) Our winner is pictured above, mocked up as a cover – so congrats to Gemma Ryan of NSW, we thought the title had a great sound to it! You’ve got yourself a copy ofAfter Darkness by Christine Piper!
We also wanted, in three words, your reaction to receiving 700 love letters. Most people expressed their delight (e.g. “Pure, Inner Love” or “Radiating Inner Smiles”), while a few admitted they’d be a bit creeped out (“Phone the Police” or “I would shudder”)!
Congrats to our Sydney winner, Candice G who got into the writing spirit with “Respond 700 times!” (yes, it’s okay, we counted “700” as one word!!) and to our Melbourne tickets winner Sara R for her droll suggestion, “Email saves trees…” You’ve each got a double pass to ACO’s Love Letters performance on 24 August in Sydney and 1 September in Melbourne. Thanks to everyone for entering!
The Village Idiom: “Up the ante”
Every now and then, we’ll take a look at a common “idiom” or phrase and dissect it. This week, to “up the ante” – what does this mean? And why isn’t it “up the anti”?
Okay, first let’s explore ante vs anti. “Anti-” is a prefix, to indicate being against/opposite of something. So you may be antisocial, on antidepressants and turning anticlockwise. Sometimes it’s hyphenated, if a vowel or capitalised word follows “anti”, but mostly it isn’t.
Meanwhile “ante” can also be a prefix, meaning “before” – most commonly seen in “antenatal” (before birth). But in poker, it’s simply its own word, denoting the contribution each player makes before the hand commences (but still in the “before” definition).
So to “up the ante” is from the poker definition, to quite literally “raise the stakes” in bets in the game or increase value, risk or quality in any situation.
“They’ve really upped the ante this year with their presentation.”
“These security measures really up the ante for burglars.”
On the blog this week: The business of writing
Kate Hennessy on corporate writing and her approach to work
Kate Hennessy teaches a bunch of business writing courses here at the Australian Writers’ Centre. But in this post, she shares a little more about her own writing, teaching and the daily routine that brings it all together.
Jump on and check it out (and plenty more) on our blog!
Plan Ahead: Take your fiction further
Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques
This course used to be known as “Creative Writing Stage 2”, so that should give you a pretty good idea of where it falls within your writing journey! Quite simply it takes everything you’ve learnt to date and really personalises it to your work and the worlds you have created.
We’re talking about a practical “workshop” style approach to getting the most from your story, your characters, and big ticket items like structure and editing. Our presenters Cathie Tasker and Jeni Mawter will mentor you as you learn techniques that will make a difference to how you approach your writing and set you apart as a professional of your craft.“I really benefited from the course and the feedback I received has given me the motivation and confidence to continue with my project. I look forward to commencing the Write Your Novel program.” – Tracey Jordan
Thanks to Rob G for sending this in. Clearly the writer had not had their mocha for the day when they misspelled “mecca” in this advertisement. “Mecca” of course, coming from the actual place in Saudi Arabia, where Islamic people gather to pray. Like in this ad, it can also be used as “a mecca” – to describe any place where people sharing a common interest make a pilgrimage to from somewhere else. It is often used liberally!
“Australian Writers’ Centre is a mecca for people who love writing.”
(We recommend not capitalising unless you refer to the actual city itself.)
Webpick and competition: The Well Read Cookie
This week’s webpick is a cute Aussie blog that combines a love of reading with a love of baking. The results bring new meaning to the phrase “cooking the books”…
AND in case you thought we’d forgotten acompetition this week, tell us which book you’d like to see a cookie made out of. The best suggestion will win a copy of Posie Graeme-Evans’ book The Island House.Change subject to COOKIE and entries in by 11:28pm Monday 25 August 2014 (not a minute later).
Quote from the film, Dead Poet’s Society:
“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” – Robin Williams
The final word:
BOMBILATE (verb) To make a buzzing, humming sound.
And it’s time for us to buzz off…
Upcoming course dates
Online course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 25 August 2014 for five weeks
All of the plays posted on "The Brainpan" are the original work of the blog's main author, Randy Ford, and may not be reproduced, in any form, without the author's permission. You may reach the author at email@example.com.