Australian Writers’ Centre Aug 20, 2014- This week: Home truths and poker hands & Many Writing Courses

 Australian Writers’ Centre Aug 20, 2014- This week: Home truths and poker handsg
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.
A: Yep.


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!

You can listen to the podcast here or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here.

Courses starting soon

You’ll find a course starting soon to suit your writing goals:


 Competition winners


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

Online course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Cathie Tasker
When: The week beginning Monday 15 September 2014
Time: Whenever suits you
Sydney course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Jeni Mawter
When: Every Thursday for five weeks starting Thursday 9 October 2014
Time: 6.30–8.30pm
Picture This

 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”…

Check it out!

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).


Good luck!

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:


(verb) To make a buzzing, humming sound.
And it’s time for us to buzz off…

Upcoming course dates

Online courses

Online course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 25 August 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Julietta Jameson
Week beginning Monday 25 August 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
Week beginning Monday 15 September 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Travel Writing with Julietta Jameson
Week beginning Monday 15 September 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 15 September 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Cathie Tasker
Week beginning Monday 13 October 2014 for five weeks



Sydney courses

Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry
Tuesday 26 August 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)


Course: Business Writing Essentials with Kate Hennessy
Tuesday 2 September 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
Starting Tuesday 2 September 2014 for five weeks

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
Starting Thursday 4 September 2014 for five weeks


Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry
Saturday 13 September 2014 (two-hour morning seminar)

Weekend course: Fantasy, Science Fiction and More with Pamela Freeman
Saturday 13 September and Sunday 14 September 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
Monday 15 September 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)


Course: Professional Business Writing with Kate Hennessy
Wednesday 17 September 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Alexandra Spring

Starting Tuesday 7 October 2014 for five weeks


Course: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle
Thursday 9 October 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Jeni Mawter

Starting Thursday 9 October 2014 for five weeks


Course: Crime and Thriller Writing with L.A. Larkin

Saturday 11 October and Sunday 12 October 2014


Weekend course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman
Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 October 2014 (2 consecutive days)

Course: Introduction to Novel Writing with Pamela Freeman
Starting Monday 13 October 2014 for six weeks


Seminar: How to Create and Sell Your Ebook with Anna Maguire

Monday 13 October 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)


Course: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
Thursday 16 October 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle
Wednesday 22 October 2014 (one-day course)


Weekend course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Weekend course: Popular Women’s Fiction with Lisa Heidke
Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Course: Writing About Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
Starting Wednesday 5 November 2014 for two weeks


Course: PR and Media Releases That Get Results with Catriona
Thursday 6 November 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Food Writing with Carli Ratcliff
Saturday 8 November and Sunday 9 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Course: Screenwriting Stage 2 with Tim Gooding
Starting Monday 10 November 2014 for five weeks


Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
Starting Wednesday 12 November 2014 for five weeks


Seminar: Self-publishing: How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
Thursday 13 November 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)



Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller

Starting Friday 16 January 2015 for six weeks


Course: Write Your Novel with Pamela Freeman
Starts Monday 2 February 2015 (6 month program)


Course: History, Mystery and Magic with Kate Forsyth

Saturday 7 March and Sunday 8 Sunday March 2015 (2 consecutive days)




Overseas writing tours – 2014

Writing in Oxford with Kate Forsyth
When: Sunday 7 September to Monday 15 September 2014


Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller
When: Thursday 23 October to Saturday 8 November 2014


Overseas writing tours – 2015

Writing in Vietnam with Carli Ratcliff – NEW DATE

When: Friday 11 September to Saturday 19 September 2015


Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller – NEW DATE
When: Thursday 22 October to Saturday 8 November 2015

Best wishes,
Valerie Khoo
National Director


Australian Writers’ Centre

Sydney and Online: (02) 9929 0088
Melbourne: (03) 9005 6737
Perth: (08) 9468 0177
Australian Writers’ Centre | National office: Suite 3, 55 Lavender Street Milsons Point, New South Wales 2061 Australia 02 9929 0088


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