Australian Writers’ Centre Sep 3, 2o14- This week: Fathers, festivals and free stuff!

Australian Writers’ Centre Sep 3, 2o14- This week: Fathers, festivals and free stuff!

4 September 2014
Spring! Wow, was it just me or had it been “nearly spring” for soooo long? Well, it’s here now (cue baby lambs leaping and daffodils blooming) and surely the perfect time of year to let your own writing blossom and leap!

Okay, but enough with the spring metaphors. Recently, I chatted to actor, screenwriter, director and author Lex Marinos. I loved talking to Lex because he played such such a big part in my TV viewing when I was growing up. We often watched the comedy Kingswood Country, and – I have to admit – following the interview I did everything I could to remain professional and stop myself from telling him to “leave the money on the fridge”!

You may have seen Lex more recently in The Slap or even listen to him on his regular radio spots. And of course, I was chatting to him regarding his recently released memoir Blood and Circuses: An irresponsible memoir – a lively and colourful account of his life in showbiz as well as a great story about the migrant experience.

You can hear my interview with him in Episode 27 of our podcast, so be sure to have a listen. And if you’re interested in telling your own life story, our January course in Life Writing is already half full, so get in soon! (Just leave the money on the fridge.)

Have a springy week!

What our graduates are saying


Wondering if you should do a short writing course? Don’t take our word for it – listen to what people just like you thought…

“I started the course having little experience in writing and have ended it with knowledge of how to construct quality feature articles. The delivery of the course online allowed me to undertake it in the comfort of my home at my pace. The mp3 audio files and notes were excellent. I feel incredibly grateful to have had access to such an experienced and knowledgeable presenter.”
– Barbara Noller (Online course in Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1)

“It was a great experience all round and extremely helpful. The class has given me an excellent sense of direction, it’s fantastic.”
– Liam O’Leary (Writing Books for Children and Young Adults)

Q & A: Plurals, possession and ‘postrophes


Q: Hello. Every May and September I am literally paralysed with terror over where to put the apostrophe in the terms Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Any advice?
A: Well, for starters, try looking up what “literally” means.

Q: No really, I’m writing this from the hospital. The doctors say my case is very unique.
A: Oh, sorry about that. Awkward. Okay, well yeah it’s one that newsagents, card makers and every retailer on the planet can’t seem to agree on. But thankfully there is a generally accepted form YOU should use.

Q: Oh wait, don’t tell me yet. Can you talk me through it as if you were announcing the winner on a talent search reality TV show?
A: Ummmm okay. So, we’re down to our final three contestants: Fathers Day, Fathers’ Day and Father’s Day. Now let’s cut to a montage showing their journey to this point.

Q: Nice. Loving the poignant yet uplifting music. Wow, they’ve come so far…
A: Yep. First up it’s time to say goodbye… to… Fathers Day. I’m sorry “no apostrophe” – you often get used by apostrophobes, and your cover version of “It’s a day that simply celebrates fathers, plural” was amazing. But, the world has voted. It’s time to go.

Q: Did you just say “apostrophobes”?
A: Yeah, it’s what we like to call people who are scared they’ll put the apostrophe in the wrong place, so they end up not putting one in at all. We see it all the time.

Q: OK, back to the show. I knew early on that the no-apostrophe version would be eliminated. Waaay too inconsistent, week to week.
A: Indeed. So, the hugging is over. And it’s down to two: “s-apostrophe” and “apostrophe-s”

Q: Both strong contenders.
A: Flashback time. “Fathers’ Day” wowed us in week 4 with their rendition of “It’s a day belonging to ALL the fathers”, while “Father’s Day” completely floored the judges in week 7 with their proof that the original US holiday used it to indicate each individual family celebrating their own father.

Q: That was pretty compelling. I YouTubed it at least 10 times.
A: So, time to announce the winner. The winner…is…

Q: Yes?
A: ….

Q: Well?
A: …. coming up right after these messages.

Q: Arrrgh. Fair enough, well played. So during the break, can I ask why the Melbourne Writers Festival – which just finished – has no apostrophe, while Sydney Writers’ Festival does?
A: Yeah nice. In fact, Sydney is the only one of the main centres that uses the apostrophe in their festival name. And certainly while we’d suggest a “Writer’s Festival” is wrong (smallest festival EVER), the other two options are open to interpretation. Sydney’s festival perhaps more literally “belongs to” writers, as it were, while Melbourne’s festival celebrates “writers” as a collective group. Neither are incorrect. Even here at Australian Writers’ Centre, we have an apostrophe because we believe it is a more active interpretation – a place belonging to all writers! But yeah, the festival one is always fun because they’re places that naturally attract grammar buffs who may do a double take depending on which version they prefer and which festival they attend!

Q: Shhhhh shhhh, it’s back on!
A: So it is. Welcome back. We’ll now spend 3 minutes showing you what happened before the break. And now for the winner… “Father’s Day”! Congratulations apostrophe-s, well deserved.

Q: Wow, after that chat during the break, I’m quite surprised. Plus I spent forty bucks SMS-voting for the other guy. Hmmm.
A: Yeah I know right? After all that talk of festivals, it can seem almost “quaint” that Father’s Day is so individualised. But this is one of those cases where it comes down to what was originally decided a hundred years ago as the intended meaning of the holiday. So that’s the official version worldwide.

Q: So today I’m seeing a theme. From a grammatical point of view, there are often a couple of options that COULD make sense. But there are no set rules: one is just decided on as the “official” version.
A: Yep. Case by case I’m afraid. Often the whole “apostrophe possession” thing is blurred simply because we’re not sure if the thing doing the owning is singular or plural. But sometimes, like “Workers Compensation” (which has no apostrophe on the legislation) or Writers’ Festival (which has either), it’s just the version they decided to go with.


Got a Q&A topic you’d like us to tackle in our own unique way?
Send us an email!

Podcast: Episode 27


This week, our intrepid adventurers Valerie and Allison talk famous writers’ rules on writing, what the best blog post length is, and discuss whether you can actually make a living as a writer. They also explore a great new screenwriting app and talk with actor/director Lex Marinos on his memoir Blood and Circuses.

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


Caption competition winners
Last week, we asked for your best caption to describe this picture (left!). As usual, you have provided excellent responses (no doubt a brilliant procrastination tool to avoid other work!), and here are our two runners up:

“The ‘Cut’ command was playing up, and Roger had had enough.” (Ross P, NSW)



“Mark’s computer failed to understand his logic. He had not, definitely not, deleted his manuscript.” (Pamela S, QLD)



But the winner is Warren G of NSW for their caption:


“Author caught murdering his darlings”


Congratulations Warren, you’ve got yourself a copy of Tana French’s The Secret Place.

On the blog this week: It’s Awards Season


Writing competitions can be a great way to hone your skills and even win some cash. Check out a quick rundown of some current or upcoming ones.


View it right now on our blog!

TIP: Is it “here, here” or “hear, hear”?


People say it all the time as a form of verbal agreement to what has just been said. It pops up in political contexts or simply when someone is looking for a more dramatic way to say “I agree”. Yet, what is the proper spelling? “Here, here”, “hear, hear” or even “hear, here”?

The correct way to spell it is in fact “hear, hear” – and it’s no coincidence that it spikes during Question Time at Parliament, because that setting was one of the first places it appeared – way back in the 17th Century. The original wording was “hear him! hear him!” or “hear this, hear this!”, and over time it has been shortened.

Our friendly “eggcorn” (a phrase or word that is used incorrectly but seems plausible) “here, here!” is seen a lot, but it’s wrong. The only correct place for it would be calling your dog or frantically signalling to your clearly-blind friend where you’re sitting in a theatre. But they don’t count.

 Plan Ahead: Be a magazine writer!

Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Alexandra Spring

A quick look at the sheer volume of new magazines and newspapers produced every week makes you realise that print is very much alive. Add to this the cache of online magazines out there, and that’s a lot of words. Words that need writers.

Sure, many publications do everything in-house. But most rely on freelance writers to supply them with great stories, and they’re willing to pay for them. So if you’d like to see your stories out there in the world, this is the course for you – showing you how to get great ideas, how to pitch them to publications and how to craft a great story. Gain the confidence and skills to be a sought after freelance writer!

“I did the magazine writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre and it changed my entire life. I met an amazing number of talented and interesting people and the support on the Facebook graduates page has been amazing. So many doors have opened up. Absolutely incredible.”
– Rose Wintergreen


Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Alexandra Spring
When: Every Tuesday for five weeks from Tuesday 7 October 2014
Time: 6.30–8.30pm
 Picture This: One of a kind
Here’s the free stuff we referred to in the subject line. This week, we’ve given you the picture and we want JUST ONE WORD that you would use to accompany this image. The one that we like the best will win a choice of either a copy ofSwitching Suits by Julie Braithwaite or We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride.


Be original, get creative, send us chocolate – all of those things will help your chances. Send us your word and postal address by replying to this email, changing the email subject to ONE. Entries close 11:56pm Monday 8 September 2014. Good luck!

 Webpick: The Periodic Table of Storytelling

If you ever did chemistry, you’ll appreciate the rather scary amount of work that has gone into recreating the famous Periodic Table of Elements. We’ve always talked about writing being an art – but it turns out that there was a science to it all along.

Take a look – but warning, you may want to set aside a bit of time!

Check it out!

The final word:


(noun, informal) An idle spectator.
So don’t be a gongoozler – enrol in a writing course… see below for our list!

 Upcoming course dates

Online courses


Online course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 8 September 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Julietta Jameson
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


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: Creative Writing Stage 1 with James Roy – NEW DATE

Starting Wednesday 8 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: Business Writing Essentials with Kate Hennessy – NEW DATE

Tuesday 14 October 2014 (one-day course


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


Course: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle – NEW DATE
Tuesday 21 October 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
Starting Tuesday 28 October 2014 for five weeks


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: Writing Australian History with Pamela Freeman
Saturday 8 November 2014


Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 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: What Publishers Want with Bernadette Foley
Saturday 15 November (half-day course)



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)



Course: Screenwriting Stage 2 with Tim Gooding

Starting Tuesday 17 March 2015 for five weeks


Course: Plotting and Planning with Kate Forsyth

Saturday 21 March 2015 (one-day course)



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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