Australian Writers’ Centre- New words and ice buckets Aug 27, 2914 & Probloggerconference & Many Writing Courses

As this newsletter hits your inbox, I’ll be on the Gold Coast about to attend the ProBloggerconference. There’s something about being in a room full of 450 bloggers – so much writing, creativity, and, in some cases, over-sharing! I love the wonderful world of blogging because there’s always a bright idea, a bit of a scandal and more than a few inspirational stories in the room.

Blogging has changed the face of publishing forever. Gone are the days when you had to rely on a traditional publisher to print your words. These days, you can broadcast your ideas and stories to the world with a simple keystroke. Many bloggers have built their profiles, monetised their words and even ended up with traditional book deals as a result of their blog. It’s an exciting place to be playing in and I can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next couple of days. I’ll be back with a report on trends, news and, hopefully, some cool stories from the conference.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own blog, why don’t you check out our next Blogging for Beginners seminar – it’ll really help you hit the ground running! And speaking of running, I dusted off my treadmill last week and pounded the virtual pavements. It was quite g–– oh wait, over-sharing alert! I’m in blog mode already…

Have a blogariffic week!

What our graduates are saying


We asked 100 people in the street for their views on our courses. After a day of this, we figured it was just going to be easier to ask graduates coming out of our courses instead. Here’s what they said:

“I’ve a clearer view on how feature articles are to be written, where to get information and ideas and how to eventually get myself published out there.”
– Justina Goh (Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1)

“I enjoyed the supportive environment; interaction with other participants; and feedback on written material. Patti is simply magic. She is a very talented facilitator for creativity and a thoroughly likeable person.”
– Lee Harris (Life Writing)

 Q & A: Or maybe it’s “Q & An”?


Q: Woooo, hi there guys, I just got in from pouring ice cold water over my head and filming it!
A: And do you know what that’s for?

Q: Um, well no. It’s just something celebrities are doing for fun isn’t it?
A: Actually, it’s raising awareness for ALS, also known as MND (Motor Neuron Disease) here in Australia. Quite the viral sensation.

Q: Yes! That’s the one! Now, anyway, I was writing about taking the challenge and how for me it was “an historic occasion”. But someone pointed out that “historic” shouldn’t have “an” before it. Is there a rule? Because it SOUNDS right…
A: Dubious use of ‘historic’ too… But anyway. “An” is one of those things we grow up putting in front of words beginning with vowels. (An envelope. An apple. An ice bucket. An internet sensation.) However, those vowels are red herrings really.

Q: Why?
A: Well, you wouldn’t say “an unicorn”. And you WOULD say “an hour”. So it’s not so much the letter but the SOUND it makes. If your word begins with a vowel sound (or an acronym beginning with a letter that makes a vowel sound like F, M, N etc), you should place “an” before it.

Q: So I’d be instigating “an FBI investigation” at “an NBA all stars game”?
A: Only if you had the proper clearance. (And I’d be taking a long look at that badge.) But yeah. So that’s all good with most letters. And then there’s H…

Q: Yeah, H. Like hours and honorary and historic.
A: Those first two are easy. They clearly have the H as silent, so begin with a vowel sound and deserve the “an”. Yet, standing alone, the words “historic” or “historical” start with a clear “H” consonant sound. And so should be preceded by “a” as in: “it is a historic occasion.”

Q: Hmmmm, this still doesn’t sound right.
A: True. In fact, outside American English, the softer “h” pronunciation in words like “historic”/”historical” do sound okay with the “an” in front. You probably wouldn’t blink at “an historical novel” for example. But would you say “an history lesson”? It’s really the same word, same first sound. Just a bit of an illusion because the stress is not falling on the first syllable (hi-STOR-ic vs HIS-tory), so it feels okay. But rules are rules, and for consistency, we’d recommend you go with the vowel sound rule!


Q: Wow, you’re right. So to recap?
A: If the beginning of the word sounds like it starts with a vowel, you’ll plonk “an” in front. Otherwise, stick to “a”.


Q: Thanks! This has been a H lesson worth knowing.
A: I think you mean “an H lesson worth knowing”.


Q: What do you mean? The sound of the letter is “haitch” isn’t it?…
A: Get out right now. Leave the bucket.

 Podcast: Episode 26


This week’s episode looks at self-publishing sensation Unbroken, how One Direction fan fiction can land you a book deal, bizarre niche blogs, and how to deal with an editor when you can’t deliver what you promised. We also talk tobestselling crime author Michael Robotham!

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:


Your course is on:

Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September 2014

Dragons, spaceships, monsters
and quests 101
Book now


 Competition winner (cookies enabled!)


Last week, we hid our competition in the webpick section, but you STILL managed to find it! Well done, that was the first test. So we wanted to know (after featuring a website that made cookies inspired by books) what book YOU would want to see made into a cookie.


Congrats to our winner, Romi S, who had the tasty suggestion of “I’d like the Hunger Games turned into a series of cookies. Eaten and eaten until the last one standing is crowned the winner. (I really like cookies and I’m pretty sure the odds are in my favour!)”


You’ve gone and won yourself a delicious copy of Posie Graeme-Evans’ bookThe Island House. Check out our Picture This section below for our caption competition!

 TIP: Free rein or free reign?


Both could make sense really (making the incorrect one yet another “eggcorn”).Freeing the reins on a horse or to reign freely over something. And if you googled each, you’d find “free reign” pips “free rein” in search results. But the correct version of the saying is in fact the first one (free rein), and the other is the commonly mistaken “corruption”. Sorry to “rein” on your parade.

In fact, it’s so corrupted that nearly half of Americans now spell the phrase with the G version, and the wrong version has even found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary as an alternative. The term “free rein’ of course does have horsey origins, i.e. when you loosen the reins, your horse is allowed more freedom. Simple as that.

“They have given us free rein over this whole project”
“When it rained during her reign, she had free rein to choose any umbrella that she wanted.”


(And by the way, it’s also “take the reins” and to “rein in” something or someone!)

 On the blog this week: Nip/Tuck: insights from a
fiction editor


If you want a decent book published, it’s going to need a decent edit. So we had a chat with a decent editor and found out a little more about this profession and what it means for you as a writer!


Jump on and check it out (and plenty more) on our blog!

 Plan Ahead: Where will your writing take you?

Online course: Travel Writing with Julietta Jameson

Travelling the world, writing about it, and getting paid for it. There are plenty of people that would see this near the top of their bucket lists of professions. But there are considerably LESS who actually figure out how to turn daydreaming into reality. And here’s how.

First up, this one’s online – meaning you can learn from right there where you are now, with new material uploaded for you to devour each week and a brilliant presenter providing direct feedback and industry insights. Make no mistake: this isn’t “dull ‘n’ dusty correspondence” – it’s dynamic live learning, with other classmates and up-to-the-minute lessons on how to write great travel articles and sell them to magazine and newspaper editors anywhere in the world!

“Julietta was warm and helpful. It was great to have such an experienced travel journalist taking the course as her advice was always relevant.”
– Isabel Gardner

No more excuses: you need to do this course!


Online course: Travel Writing with Julietta Jameson
When: The week beginning Monday 15 September 2014
Time: Whenever suits you
 Picture This
O Caption! My Caption!

We haven’t done a caption competition for a while. So, let’s see your best work for this doozy. Best one wins a copy of Tana French’sThe Secret Place (which doesn’t hit the shelves until September!).


As always, reply to this email with your suggestion, changing the subject to CAPTION. Include your address so we can send you the prize if you win, and entries must be in by 11:43pm on Monday 1 September. We always love seeing what you come up with! Good luck.

 Webpick: Take the “new words” quiz

As we continue to see, English is an ever-changing language – with new words entering the vocabulary every year. So decided to promote this fact by putting together a quiz to help you pick which new word is best for you. Everything from adorbs to acquihire. Give it a try, and see what new fangled word you’re matched with!

Check it out!

 The final word:


(noun) The act of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre.
It’s a real thing and you should try it at your next party.

Upcoming course dates

Online courses

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


Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Julietta Jameson – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 8 September 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
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

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: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter

Starting Tuesday 2 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
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 1 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: Travel Writing with Sue White – NEW DATE

Saturday 10 January and Sunday 11 January 2015 (2 consecutive days)


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
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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