Australian Writers’ Centre- Picture Books & Anita Heiss & Many Writing Courses

25 September 2014
Recently, some of you may have spotted amongst the ice bucket videos and baby photos on social media an interesting “meme” that was doing the rounds. This was asking people for the “10 books that had the most profound influence on me over the years.” Or something like that.

Now, while I didn’t do the list myself, it was interesting to see the types of books that were appearing on other people’s lists. And typically three or four of them were picture books.

Picture books appear simple, but can be so powerful – and not just because they’re the first books we probably ever read. When you have fewer words to play with, those words really have to work harder – there’s simply nowhere to hide for lazy language or words that aren’t pulling their weight. So when a picture bookgets the formula right, it is often a huge success – which clearly (if social media lists are to believed) can last a lifetime in our memories.

With such rewards on offer for readers, it makes writing them equally rewarding. And this is why I was so excited last week to receive, from publisher Allen & Unwin, a copy of Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway – a graduate of our Writing Picture Books course! Congratulations Kylie – an amazing achievement, really fun to read, and fab illustrations by Tom Jellett.

A recent article stated that bookshops are reporting booming sales of children’s fiction (including picture books), making it a magical time to be a reader and writer of these genres. So if you’d like to replicate Kylie’s success, our brilliant Writing Picture Books course is the place to be! Then we can all live happily ever after.

Have a picture-perfect week!

What our graduates are saying
What our graduates are saying


Considering doing a writing course with us? Or maybe you’re considering a new hairstyle? Well, we can help with the first one. These people did a course and here’s what some of them had to say:
“The presenter was very knowledgeable and covered the content really well.”
– Sally Taylor-Phillips (Blogging for Beginners)

“I’m glad I did it! I know I can write, and write well, but needed the presenter’s insights into the process and the realities of writing, whether for a living or for fun. I might just get off my backside now and start the novel I believe I have in me.”
– Floyd Robichaux (Creative Writing Stage 1)

“It motivated me to start writing! It gave me a boost in confidence to take my ideas seriously and do something about them. The units on how to structure a feature article were extremely helpful.”
– Johanna Rigg-Smith (Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1)

Q & A: It’s a new innovation!


This week, we’re going to have a discussion inspired by an email from alert reader, Lee F.

Q: Hi there AWC. Did you know that today it’s exactly three months until Christmas?
A: We’re sorry, is this your grammar and punctuation question?
Q: Nope, just thought I’d start with something light. I actually want to talk to you about your “Plan Ahead” section of this weekly newsletter. I couldn’t help noticing that there really isn’t any other kind of planning you could do – you’d hardly “plan behind”… Am I right?
A: Great point! You’ve spotted one of the more commonly used (certainly by us at least) examples of “tautology”.
Q: Tautology huh? I think I might have taken that in high school. With Mr Simons? C block?
A: Probably not. But it is a fascinating area. (Tautology that is, not C block; that was always shabby.) Tautology occurs when you have a phrase that repeats itself – with two (or more) words effectively saying the same thing. One is rendered redundant by the other.
Q: Hey, when I was 10, my dad was rendered redundant by some guy they flew in from America. There was no advance warning, apparently some joint partnership between the companies. They just gathered together each and every one of them in close proximity, told them the honest truth that the vote had been completely unanimous and that the US bosses in charge couldn’t keep commuting back and forth and the end result was that they had to cut back and close down. Dad’s future prospects weren’t great, no added bonus or anything. But I’m guessing you meant something different.
A: Well, we did. But you just used 14 tautologies in that trip down memory lane.
Q: Seriously? I think you’re over-exaggerating.
A: 15 now.
Q: Wow, okay, so they really ARE everywhere. But are they acceptable?
A: Well, some are just clunky. You shouldn’t ever want to write “say it again once more” or “a sad misfortune”. And yet others have found their way through the side door of usage. Things like “positive affirmations”, “armed gunman” or “first priority” you’ll see and hear all the time. Then you have the modified absolutes we chatted about a few weeks back – “very unique” or “completely destroyed” etc. They happen. If the English language was a law-abiding nation, then these tautologies would probably represent jaywalking.
Q: Hmmmm. But it’s lazy.
A: Absolutely – and just like stepping out into traffic at your leisure, it’s something you should avoid doing, or one day you’ll get hit. However it’s also something that won’t ever be eradicated. Yes it’s a double up, and mildly annoying, but certainly not up there with mixing “your” and “you’re” – that’s more akin to an armed assault.
Q: True I guess. Now, you’ve just slid a piece of paper over to me asking me to enquire about whether there are acronyms that commit tautologies.
A: Great question! Wow, you’re on fire today. There definitely are. First example, your “PIN Number”…
Q: 9124
A: No no, lalalalalalaaa. We didn’t WANT the number. We’re simply saying that “PIN” already has “number” as the “N” word in the acronym, so you’re basically saying “Personal Identification Number number”.
Q: Oops, how embarrassing. Lucky I only have a $100 dollar limit.
A: That’s another sneaky one actually – the dollar sign was already there, so use either “100 dollar limit” or “$100 limit”, not both. Back on acronyms, other examples include “ATM Machine”, “GPS System” or even “Please RSVP” because “Respondez, s’il vous plait” already translates as “respond please”.
Q: Great. Now I have to go and change all my party invites.
A: We’d suggest not to worry – it’s a common thing. What time does it say the party starts?
Q: 11 am in the morning.
A: Okay, shred them all. Because that one is our pet hate. For example, “I arrived at five am in the morning” – well duh, there is no five am in the afternoon! Either just use “5 am” or “five in the morning”, never both.
Q: Hmmm… Five is probably a bit early; it’s more of a lunch thing. But you’ve raised a good point. Perhaps tautologies are sometimes snuck in for emphasis. To really hammer home a point.
A: Yep, there are clumsy ones that you should avoid, and there are others which would probably get let off with a warning. However, we’re good law-abiding citizens and from this week on, we’re changing our “Plan Ahead” section to “Featured Course” instead. It’s our “free gift” to you! 

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

Podcast: Episode 30


This week, the podcast turns 30 and YOU get the presents! Val and Al talk about the flooding of the Amazon (with books!), smart ways to use your Kindle, six-word memoirs, and an innovative book launch. Plus they chat with business author Steve Sammartino 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 winner
Oh wait, that probably doesn’t sound too good. Ahem. Anyway, what we’re TRYING to say is “wow, thanks for all your acronym entries”.


We liked the meta-ness of ACRONYM (Alphabet Capitals Representing Ordered Names Yield Meaning) and TWA (Three Word Acronym), the functionality and politeness of EMFJI (Excuse Me For Jumping In), and the audacity of WOMBAT (Waste of Money, Brains and Time). SWF (Small White Fluffies) for those small dogs that are the bane of hound owners everywhere, and SOBWWF for people who enjoy slapping bellies with wet fish!? One reader described AFBOB syndrome from European Contiki travels (Another F***ing Boring Old Building) whereas ROFLSCOMM (Rolling on floor laughing while spitting Coke onto my monitor) has definitely happened here in the office before!

But the winner of Poppy’s Dilemma by Karly Lane is Matt K from VIC for MAMIL – Middle Aged Men In Lycra. He even gave us an example sentence: “On sunny winter mornings, MAMILs migrate in herds through the eastern suburbs towards the pretentious cafés of Camberwell.” Well done Matt FTW! And take a look at our Picture This section below for this week’s competition.


On the blog this week: WIN with Anita Heiss


We chat to Australian author Anita Heiss about her latest book, Tiddas, and have a look around her workspace. PLUS, you can win a copy of her book just by giving us another word to describe your close friends! Enter on the blog.

The Village Idiom: “To make a beeline for something”


This one talks about going somewhere in a direct line (which for school holiday parents may involve making a beeline for the bathtub/wine at the end of the day!). It of course relates to the straight line that a bee makes when returning to a hive. Sometimes it’s written with a hyphen or even as two words, but the generally accepted form is “beeline” as one word. Sometimes “B-line” is wrongly used, possibly originating from the concept of travelling from A to B in a straight line. Close, but no cigar!

Featured Course: 2015 is your year!
Enrol now!

Write Your Novel with Pamela Freeman
Begins Monday 2 February 2015

This is it. A six-month course where it’s time to get serious and take your novel to the next level. We’re talking about expert advice, completion of your first draft (you must have at least 10,000 words to begin the program) and perfecting the all-important first chapter that publishers and agents will be critiquing.

It’s six months because we’re realistic. We know that this is what you’ve been working towards and we want to help you identify issues, nail your structure and really maximise your story’s connection to your reader. There’s theory (including the publishing process, agents, editors and publishers) as well as significant workshopping, combining to give an honest grown-up look at your work. All working towards the same goal of completion and publishing success!
So if you’re ready to take the next step, diarise February 2015 and prepare yourself for a big year!


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

Time: 6.30–8.30pm
Picture This: O Caption! My Caption!


It’s time for September’s caption competition. You lot always do well with these, so we can’t wait to see what you come up with for this great pic! Get creative – first person, third person, whatever you want. It’s a game of skill!

Enter by replying to this email, changing the subject to CAPTION. Entries close 11:46pm on Monday 29 September 2014 and our favourite caption will win The Lost Testament by James Becker.

Good luck!

Webpick: Game on!

So, you want to be a writer? Well, it sure can be tough to get into this writing game.
Hey, what if it WAS a game!…


Created by the Los Angeles TimesHow to be a writer was built from more than 200 responses to an informal survey of writers.


The resulting online boardgame may ring true with many aspiring or published authors. Overwhelmingly they found that there actually is no single path to literary success – sometimes it even comes down to a little luck!


Check it out here.

The final word:
The final word


(noun) 24 or 25 sheets of paper – traditionally one-twentieth of a ream.
And now it’s time to enQUIRE about a writing course – check out the full complement below!

Upcoming course dates

Online courses


Online course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 29 September 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Julietta Jameson – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 13 October 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman
Week beginning Monday 13 October 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


Online course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
Week beginning Monday 13 October 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Travel Writing with Julietta Jameson
Week beginning Monday 20 October 2014 for five weeks




Sydney courses


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

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

Tuesday 14 October 2014 (one-day course)


Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry

Tuesday 14 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
Tuesday 21 October 2014 (one-day course)


Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett

Tuesday 21 October 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)


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


Course: Professional Business Writing with Kate Hennessy
Tuesday 28 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: 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)

Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry

Saturday 22 November 2014 (two-hour morning seminar)



Course: Travel Writing with Sue White

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: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Sue White

Saturday 17 January and Sunday 18 January 2015 (2 consecutive days)


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)


Weekend course: Fantasy, Science Fiction and More with Pamela Freeman

Saturday 21 March and Sunday 22 March 2015 (2 consecutive days)




Overseas writing tours – 2014

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



Overseas writing tours – 2015

Writing in Vietnam with Carli Ratcliff

When: Friday 11 September to Saturday 19 September 2015


Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller
When: Thursday 22 October to Saturday 7 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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