Freelance Writer

The trouble with flying x

With the busy lives people now live, short stories are more popular than ever. Reading a novel is a commitment that many people find they often just don’t have the time to commit to, whereas a short story is a lot more doable, offering a satisfying read in a relatively short time.

Margaret River Press is currently running a short story competition and as a result of that will publish their fourth anthology since the company’s inception in 2011.

Bunbury readers and writers enjoyed an evening of literature over a glass of wine at ECU library on Thursday night where they met with authors of recently published anthology The Trouble With Flying and other stories. Short story writers Rachelle Rechichi, Leanne Browning and Leslie Thiele read from their prize-winning stories and spoke of the background and what inspired them to write.

Special guest and competition judge and writer Richard Rossiter, addressed the audience talking about what makes a great story, offering valuable tips to new and would be writers. Such advice included: don’t over write, don’t use too many adjectives, have a consistent point of view and show rather than tell.


Richard Rossiter

Richard Rossiter

He also highlighted the importance of the writers voice and said not to be afraid to experiment with point of view and that limited third person point of view can be a good way to establish character, while also allowing the writer to comment. ”A good writer’s voice is marked and idiosyncratic and that will hook a reader into a piece of writing”, Rossiter said.

When judging short stories he said he narrows them down and once short listed he leaves them for about a week and then when he goes back to them, he thinks about which ones have been memorable, which ones stayed with him and which ones moved him. ‘The essence of a short story a compressed piece of writing that moves the reader’, he said.

Sometimes writers will write for years without having an audience, such as Elizabeth Jolley who wrote for twenty years before being published and having an audience. So sometimes it can look like an author has, incredibly, written three or four books in a couple of years, when in actual fact they have been working on them for twenty.

For some of the writers, undergraduate students at ECU, their stories stemmed from writing exercises they had done during their writing course and were based on their own experience growing up in the world. Rossiter said most first works produced by writers are autobiographical, it is often necessary to write that out and finish it before the writing can continue.


There is still time for writers to enter the short story competition for which the closing date is 16 October 2014. Carolyn Wood from Margaret River Press said they hope to discover new talent from a diverse cross range of people. For more information go to:




A couple of weeks ago I posed the question “Can creative fiction writing be taught. This was a discussion within our writers group prompted by a newspaper article by Tegan Bennet Daylight.

I recently spoke with popular crime writer Felicity Young to get her thoughts on the subject. Here’s what Felicity had to say

Crime writer:  Felicity Young

Can fiction writing be taught?

 My answer to that is Yes. And No.

I think this topic is thesis-worthy! I’m afraid my comments barely skim the surface, but here’s a start:

A fiction novel is the sum of many components, and it is my belief that a great many of these can be taught. These are what I consider the tools of the trade, the craft of writing, ie the skills and writing techniques we start learning when we are at school. The craft consists of things like spelling, grammar and sentence structure, progressing to the analysis of the novel itself eg plot construction, characterisation themes, points of view, formatting etc. And when you have mastered all that, even those troublesome proposal emails you write, can be taught.

After school, people who wish to write creatively often go to uni, participate in writing workshops opt for self help books or teach themselves through there own analytical reading. In other words, they work hard to hone their craft.

Drive and commitment

This brings me something that I think can’t be taught, and that is drive. You can have all the craft at your fingertips plus the imagination of a JK Rowling, but if you don’t have the drive to further your learning, or get back to it after your tenth rejection letter, then you probably won’t succeed as a fiction writer. I don’t think anyone can teach someone else drive. That is something that has to come from within.



I’m not sure if you can be taught to have an imagination either. If you were imaginative child, you will probably be an imaginative adult. You might just need some help in re-releasing that imagination that was stamped out of you as you grew up — and there are plenty of courses around that offer that.

So there we have it. The greater part of fiction writing (in my opinion) is the craft and that can be taught. But drive and the imagination are also essential components and much harder to teach. Unfortunately, when it comes to these, I think you either have ‘em or you don’t.


So there you have it – bottom line – yes creative writing can be taught and then, as the writer, you need to make it happen, which means write and keep writing. Voila – you have a manuscript. That’s the first bit done and then the editing and rewriting begins.    The first draft is the all important step because then you have something to work with. As we say in the industry “you can’t edit a blank page”.



The Scent of Murder




IMG 5 x

The bravest of the brave from South Side Quills writing group confronted Bunbury’s wild winter weather this morning to walk the street art exhibition in Bunbury’s CBD. After a heartstarting caffiene hit from Henry’s, we met  Jordon Gianfransesco of the Dark Room Concept fame in Victoria Street who introduced us to the Street Art Exhibiton.

Earlier this year the Rediscover Bunbury video Six Two Three Zero, created by Chad Peacock from Peacock Visuals, was launched. The striking video is a Bunbury initiative, seeking to use street art as a catalyst for urban development and social change, by bringing communities together in conversation and creative inspiration.

So far there are six street murals in Bunbury by as many artists. Once permission from the propieters of the building walls was granted these talented artists got to work to show case these works of art, brightening up the streets of Bunbury. The project is sponsored by many community minded businesses, including Souths, Veens Drafting Service, Wardrobe, McDonalds, Bunbury Mail, Dark Room Concept to name but a few.

  As you walk through Bunbury  … See if you can spot these works of art.

Artist Kyle Hughes Odgers

Artist Kyle Hughes Odgers

Artist Tim Howe

Artist Tim Howe


artist Andrew Frazer

artist Andrew Frazer

Artist Jodee Kowles

Artist Jodee Kowles

Carol and Mike take shelter near Artist Stormie Mills' masterpiece.

Carol and Mike take shelter near Artist Stormie Mills’ masterpiece.

Picture by Sormie Mills

Picture by Stormie Mills



You can see these talented artists at work by visiting

and the Six Two Three Zero website.

Can Creative Writing be taught?

This question was recently raised at our local writers group, prompted by an article in the Australian newspaper (Fighting Words by Tegan Bennet Daylight, February 2014). The article posed that very question “Can creative writing be taught?”

Creative writing x

My answer in a word is yes – of course it can (ok that was five words).

Tegan Bennet Daylight believes writing can be taught and says that writers are firstly readers, who have always wanted to write, as opposed to someone who has always wanted to be a writer (more about that later). And they will write and go on writing, even if their work never sees the light of day.

Bennet Daylight talked about university students who take on creative writing as an elective unit thinking it will be an easy, relaxing ride, but soon realize that the words they write start fighting back, reminding them about what tense they are writing in, sentence structure and telling rather than showing. At the end of term, many of those students will come away with a renewed respect for successful writers, understanding that writing is an on-going commitment to regular writing, editing and rewriting. She said good writing requires honesty without sugar coating the truth, skirting around the real issues with empty words, and furthermore, an astute reader will pick this.

My English lecturer at university used to say he could tell what type of material his students read by the way they wrote.

Best selling romantic fiction writer Cecelia Ahearn said she had wanted to write a book for ten years before she actually started writing. She said her sister used to tell her she was more interested in the idea of writing a book that actually writing it. “… if you really wanted to write, you just would, every day, by yourself, for yourself, whether it was a book or not”, she said. She added that a writer felt compelled to write, whether they had an idea or not, whether they had pen or paper or not. Their desire wasn’t determined by a specific pen brand or colour, or whether their latte had enough sugar in it or not.”   These are distractions and obstacles to the creative writing process every time you sit down to write.

Cecelia Ahern x

Writing is an individual thing and the insights and feelings of every person is unique. That can’t be taught. But the craft of writing can – that is the tools of trade if you like. Individual writers write fiction in one of two ways – that is they are a plotter or a pantser. A plotter is someone who has an idea, methodically arranges the order of their story before writing it. A pantser, on the other hand, (so called because they are writing by the seat of their pants) has no clear direction, just an idea, putting all the information, knowledge and insights down in no particular order, rearranging events as they go.

Not every writing student will write a best seller, but if attending writing classes helps a writer to be able to express themselves and their feelings and opinions, enabling them to leave a record, then it’s very worthwhile.

Acclaimed writer Elizabeth George distinguishes between art and craft, saying that, while you can’t teach passion (and she has her doubts about being able to teach discipline) the craft can be taught, demystifying the process of writing. Once you learn the craft of writing, the art of writing will come. Like anything, practice makes perfect.

In conclusion a quote by Elizabeth George: “Craft alone won’t make someone William Shakespeare or Jane Austen, but can and will serve as a guide, as the soil into which a budding writer can plant the seed of an idea, in order to nurture it into a story.”

 Next week: I talk to international crime writer Felicity Young about her thoughts on  – Can creative wrting be taught?  Be sure and pop back to see what Fellicity’s thoughts are on the subject.

Exploring Sydney

A few top things to do in Sydney

Koala x

Darling Harbour

Darling Habour is a great location to base yourself while in Sydney, picturesque with an assortment of good hotels to choose from. With many attractions right at your doorstep including Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquarium and the National Maritime Museum. It is a short walk into the city over the Pyrmont Bridge, which still opens at times during the day to allow ships and harbour boats to pass through.
And , well  …  you never know who you might run in to …

Jonny Depp 2 x Giant Koala x

Winter Festival

Winter Festival


Harbourside Shopping

Harbourside Shopping

The Thai Foon restaurant in Harbourside

This Thai restaurant in the Darling Harbour shopping  complex serves delicious food with special offers available through We took advantage of the special, which included a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine for $50. (wow). For Our Deal special  offers go to

Thai Foon chandelier

Thai Foon chandelier

John Chen Gallery

While in Darling Harbour complex I was drawn to the John Chen Gallery, run by John and his brother. John, who studied in Shanghai, has been working as an artist in Australia for the past 22 years. Displaying a feast of works, from portraits, charicatures and pets through to celebrities, street scenes and seascapes, you are bound to find that special work of art or have your portrait done. It only takes a few minutes. To see some of his stunning works visit his website at

While there John did my portrait in charcoal – see below

Charcoal drawing by John Chen.

Charcoal drawing by John Chen.

Sydney Tower Eye Westfield

A great place to visit is the Sydney Tower Eye, completed in 1981 at a cost of twenty six million dollars, and is well worth a visit with 360 degree stunning views over the city and surrounds. It’s the tallest building in Sydney, with 1504 steps reaching 309 meters to the spire. I took the elevator which only took 40 seconds to reach the top. You can also take a guided walk outside around the top of the building if you are feeling adventurous.

Sydney Tower

Sydney Tower

Victoria Tea Room

In the Westfield building we discovered  Victoria Tea Room Salon, above Market Street and Pitt Street Mall.  Surrounded by a curved picket fence, where they serve fine tea (and coffee) in fine bone china, this is a great place to retreat from the bustle of the city. High tea is served on a three tier cake stand and includes an assortment of ribbon sandwiches, scones and cup cakes and sweet treats.  There are three different levels of high tea including a Sparkling high tea option, which includes champagne (I like it a lot).

Victoria Tea Rooms

Victoria Tea Rooms



Excuse me - I think my wine glass needs refilling ...

Excuse me – I think my wine glass needs refilling …

Taronga Park Zoo

A trip across the harbour on the ferry takes you to Taronga Park, where you will find the workers – staff and volunteers alike, just love their jobs, understandably in such an amazing location with spectacular views.  You can catch one of the bird shows, where the birds are so well trained they fly in and out on cue doing all sorts of tricks along the way. And on hearing the word rubbish, a cockatoo swoops in picks up the rubbish, dropping it in the bin.

view from Taronga Park zoo xView from Taronga Park x

The Blue Mountains

When visiting the Blue Mountains, there are a few things you shouldn’t miss, including the Cultural Centre in Katoomba, which celebrates the environment, history and culture of the region.

Echo Point – the lookout overlooks the famous Three Sisters and the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness. Ride down the incline railway or take a cable-car ride across the Jamison Valley. The Blue Mountains and the Australian bush that covers them is best discovered by bushwalking. We took one path that was only about 3 or 4 kilometers and I thought “a piece of cake” How wrong I was … what I didn’t realize was how steep the terrain was – it was all down hill (about a thousand steps) through the rain forest and picturesque waterfalls. I became acutely aware of all my leg muscles for the next couple of days.

Echo Point - The three sisters

Echo Point – The three sisters

Choc factory xPicMonkey Collage 1

While that is a few highlights, Other things to do include:

Sydney Harbour Cruise

The Rocks and Opera House tour

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Sydney and Bondi Hop on hop off tour

The Hunter Valley

 Happy Touring




Felicity Young, author of several successful crime novels and recent resident writer at Matty Furphy House (Fellowship of Australian Writers) ran a workshop for budding crime writers on the 28th June.

Crime writer:  Felicity Young

Crime writer:
Felicity Young

A few crime writing tips fromFelicity.

  • Draw a plot arc to show major events in your story
  • Draw a character arc for each main character, showing crisis,change of heart etc
  • Summarise scenes or chapters on palm cards and lay them out, experimenting with the order of events ( or use Scrivener). You can colour code the cards indicating character’s POV.
  • Solving sodoku puzzles in between writing May help with plotting
  • Research for accuracy
  • Keep a disciplined writing routine
  • Make sure your writing environment is comfortable so you can look forward to settling down to work
  • You don’t have to write what you know provided you can interview someone who does.
  • Carry a notebook . Listen and watch people around you . Stories are everywhere.
  • Keep enough space in your head to dream
  • study the craft of writing – grammar, spelling & formatting are important
  • Read as much as you can and stay up to date with the crime genre

Quote from Stephen King:  If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the tools or time  to write.


The practical component of Jill Harrison’s photography workshop was the  Sunday before last and students were able to wander around the lovely Lyndendale Estate and put theory into practice.

Here are a few of the results and some of what I learned:

Jill hard at work - teaching photography

Jill hard at work – teaching photography at Lyndendale

Rule of Odds

objects photographed in odd numbers is more pleasing to the eye than even numbers e.g. 3 flowers rather than 4

3 flowers IMG_0042


Seeing an image through something that frames it adds a 3 dimensional quality to the image – helps to tell a story and create depth.

Looking for frames

 Horizons and Reflections

Horizons should be straight and  preferrably in the rule of thirds, not  in the middle  as this can split the image in half.  However, with reflections this can work – giving a mirror image.


off centre image xmirror image x
reflection x
Different perspectives

Shooting upwards or downwards, shooting from different angles can add interest to pictures … the message from Jill was to experiment and have fun.

upward Agapanthus  xIMG_0032

Leaving already Jill … but wait  … there’s more …

Jill leaving already

It’s OK … here we are just practicing panning – moving the camera along a parallel line with the moving subject, causing the background to blur and the subject to remain in focus – need more practice!

Foreground and back ground and aperture priority 

IMG_0082 foreground interest xNew Zealand pics Jan 2011 663

This is another example of using aperture priority where the foreground such as a fence can be blurred to focus on the background, in this case the lion.

I will point out here, that while all the photographs in this post were taken at Lyndendale Gallery, this one of the lion was not. I’m sure the Gillies’ will be relieved to hear that clarification. 


Another gorgeous  Cat

 cat 2x

Resident feline at Lyndendale – he’s onto it – diligent as ever.

Leading lines

Leading lines draw our eye into and through a photo – looking to where the lines are leading

 leading lines  xCrooked Brook Rd x



I was much more than 50 meters away from this parrot so not too bad considering …

Parrot  cr x

Patterns xPhotographer Jill Harrison and Gallery owner and artist Denise Gilles

Photographer Jill Harrison and Gallery owner and artist Denise Gilles

Photography is a very relaxing pastime and keeps you in the moment and appreciative of all that is around you.

More workshops by Jill will be coming up in the near future,  including food photography and travel at Lyndendale.

Watch this space for more creative,  inspirational and innovative ideas and adventures  …