Meet the Sandcliffe Festival Presenters: Lauren Daniels

Lauren Daniels has worked in publishing since ’92 with Ziff-Davis in Boston. In ’99, she completed her MFA and moved to Australia where she has edited 70 titles of fiction/non-fiction for the literary publisher, IP, among others, and supports authors who seek publication both here and overseas.

Since winning the Newport Poetry Contest in ’87, Lauren has published work in various international periodicals. The manuscript for her novel, The Serpent’s Wake: A Fairy Tale for the Bitten shortlisted with the 2016 Half the World Literati Award in Singapore and her essay, ‘Maternal Lines’ appears in Australia’s Antic Literary Magazine this year.

 Lauren served on the Board for the Erica Bell Foundation in Hobart and as a Youth Arts Queensland mentor. She taught writing at UQ and TAFE and directs the Brisbane Writers Workshop.

1.Have you been to the Sandcliffe Festival Before?

 This is my first time and the line-up is wonderful. The dinners and panels are a tremendous Queensland roll call.

2.What are you looking forward to and how did you become involved in it this year?

First, I’m excited for the collage of viewpoints. The topics are rich and provocative across the schedule. Late last year, I chaired the Alice Award panel with Shelley Davidow, Kris Olsson and M.K. Hume for the Society of Women Writers Queensland and Brisbane Square Library. The topic was gender bias in the publishing industry and I have to hand it to the Society: they have brilliant events and know how to gather our talent.

3. What is the main focus of what you will be speaking about at the festival (A short sneak peek )

I’m chairing the event at the Brisbane Square Library with Veny Armanno and Melissa Lucashenko for ‘Insights of an Outsider’; a theme that underscores much of their literary work and serves up as a familiar perspective for writers across the globe.

For ‘Write of Passage’, Susan Johnson, Jacqueline Henry and I will be discussing the power of language as a societal catharsis and catalyst. That is both an immensely personal and vastly universal topic and I’m excited to see where it will go.

4. If you could choose to a favourite literary character, who would you be and why?

A tough question, considering all of my favourites are mired in conflict and usually end in tragedy. Still, I’m a New Englander called due south, so call me Ishmael. The consummate writer—though he himself doesn’t write a word—observes everything meticulously and disappears into the action to offer as objective a vision as possible. Ishmael survives an alien, dangerous world captained by a madman and befriends those worth befriending, especially Queequeg. His wisdom is hard-earned as it shapes every page of Moby Dick. There are so many potent one-liners like this one: ‘Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian’, sharp as scrimshaw carved from a sperm whale’s tooth.

To find out more Lauren Daniels visit the following links

www.ledaniels.com

www.brisbanewriters.com

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First Sandcliffe event. ‘Insights of an Outsider’

Sunday 23rd April,

11am – 12pm

Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St. Brisbane

Panel Session: Featuring Melissa Lucashenko, Veny Armanno and Lauren Daniels

Organised by Society of Women Writers QLD and funded by Lord Mayor’s Writers in Residence program.

Free entry, but library would appreciate bookings so they have some idea of numbers. Please ph: library on 3403 4166.

Dymocks Books will be there selling author’s works

For more information on the festival visit FACEBOOK

Walking out the Writing Beginning Blues

June Perkins. Taken on my phone

Dear Readers,

Walking and thinking are truly a cure for a bad case of procrastinating starting something new.

Recently I have been  constantly perched at my desk, and sometimes a lovely green recliner chair in front of the fish tank (that is when I can ‘rent’ some time from my daughter who just loves this chair) planning and planning a new novel, character by character,  scene by scene, and furiously studying how to build scenes through reading a text-book.

I’ve been researching setting (more still to do) and yet the first pages remained unwritten for several weeks.

I’ve been writing other things; four poems, a short prose piece,  a short observation piece; as well as editing several picture books.

I’ve been reading quite a few books for children, young adults and adults to see what I like in my own reading and what techniques I like from other writers.

I’ve been avoiding my novel project.

But a couple of days ago I knew I just had to start doing the hard yards of writing and completing my first novel, lest this become the novel unwritten!

I began to do more walking. Something about the fresh air, and moments to observe and day-dream suddenly lead to a productive writing session of the opening! As I walked the voice to open the novel became clear. That’s it!  I suddenly felt like the journey of writing this novel was on!

Now heading into my third day of writing I have four scenes,  and have established three central characters.  I have made a pledge not to miss a novel writing session every day, even if its short, it is the sticking at it that is going to get me through, together with some change of scenes, and thinking breaks when required throughout the day, and of course I do have other things to do, being a mum, running a household, being a tutor and conquering some other things in life to enable me to grow as a human being.

I am doing the first draft, and have a goal of when I would like to complete it.

The outline does make me feel more confident that I can do this, although the characters may do some dynamic things, but I have a compass for them to help us all make it to the end.

Switching from short forms to long forms and finishing long forms has been a bit of an issue for me, and a recent realisation that many of my short stories are novels, or novellas in the making is a jolt to the writing senses.  I have actually started three novels and not completed them.  I could sigh,  and say, ‘I just have to do this and make it through the first one!’  But I want a better attitude than that, and want that being in the flow writing experience. I do so love these characters and want to honour them!

On one of my trips out into the real world – I came across this random cafe poetry. It made me chuckle.   It reminded me this novel cannot be completed by being chained to my desk.

June Perkins. Taken on my phone

Wondering about the opening

Apathy sets in

Lingering on other tasks until

Kickstarting this dream with the first scene after a walk.

Well I can’t stop in too long to this blog because there is a novel waiting for its next scene and a few submissions to put in so as to earn a crust.

Yes, I am walking today, and who knows what novelistic ideas I will daydream whilst I walk through my next scene.

Have a brilliant week wherever you are, and don’t forget the power of a walk and dream session!

All the best,

June

‘THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK’ MAGIC FISH DREAMING

A wonderful reflection from the talented Helene Magisson, looking at behind the scenes of the creation of Magic Fish Dreaming.

Magic Fish Dreaming

 coversmall

It has been a bit more than one year now, since June Perkins contacted me to illustrate Magic Fish Dreaming, a series of poems describing, with softness, mystery and humour, the beauty and richness of a region of Australia: the Far North Queensland.

This project immediately appealed to me for four reasons.

  1. June’s approach suggested a rich and elegant personality which, I felt, I would have a lot of pleasure to work with.
  2.  I like poetry especially when it targets children. It is a wonderful way to tell things, and a book of poetry is full of stories to be read and listened to. Words play with sounds and images play with words.
  3.  I love Australia, a country I discovered 5 years ago. This is one of the few countries that still offers completely wild and pristine areas. A country in which we can be easily and…

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World Building with Marianne de Pierres.

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Marianne in action

On the weekend I attended an inspiring workshop in the Writelinks Workshop Series with Marianne de Pierres.

“She is the award winning author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis, Sentients of Orion and Peacemaker science fiction series. Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs. Her Night Creatures series, Burn Bright, Angel Arias and Shine Light has been very popular among young adult fiction readers. Marianne is also the Davitt award-winning author of the Tara Sharp humourous crime series under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. (From Good Reads)

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During our two hour workshop we focused  on developing ‘settings as characters’ and how to make them best reflect our characters’ emotions.

We examined the ‘strengths and pitfalls of tropes'(they can easily become cliches), the central importance of story even as we work on settings and we gained experience ‘tethering our landscapes to emotions and character.’

Marianne engaged us to listen and pay attention to the topics she was raising through not only the content but the style of her delivery.  She did not stand still in one spot at the front but walked up and down the room to engage with us as a group.   She was keen to show us, not just tell us about the concepts she was explaining. Her face and hands were expressive.

We read examples silently and aloud.  She encouraged us always to be ‘critical readers’.

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Participants engaging with the topic

Marianne explained the concepts of setting as characters using: examples, question and answer and practicals exercises.  She had us spend about ten minutes during the session thinking of our own setting and writing it using some of the principles she had introduced us to.

As a group we suggested settings as character and one example that came up was the Tardis! We felt the tardis is an interesting character that is; protective, reliable, unreliable, mysterious, contradictory.

The Secret Garden was another example of a powerful setting reflecting the transformation of its central character’s emotional journey.

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Participants in the Workhop, asking questions

Marianne gave us choices of what we might like her  to cover towards the end of the session. We chose ‘transmedia’ from the options.

She ended her workshop sharing the many opportunities for writers to develop their stories across platforms in a world where ‘transmedia’ is the future of storytelling.

I’d say this was one of the best discussions and explanations I have heard for personification and am inspired to adopt this into my writing and do some more critical reading looking out for writers who do it well.

A participant asked why people write things that might be challenging to them, that require research, and not just what they know, and to that Marianne, responded with her story of her immense love of astronomy even though it is not her field of expertise and that she just loves writing it.

She encouraged us to surround ourselves with ‘expert friends, ‘ who can educate us about their passions which we share and want to convey in books,  rather than just books and online research. Sometimes it is just so much easier to ask someone who knows the field you are trying to write about and they will fill you in on details you need to get right.

Research is an important skill for speculative fiction writers, but it is important not to get ‘lost down the well of research.’  As some point you have to write.  Some writers like to research as they go, not before they start writing.

As many of us were writers for children and young adults, she told us how important for us to not make silly mistakes when writing about things we are not expert in but want to have as settings for our books.  Children not only deserve that respect but will pick up any mistakes if it is something they love.

I definitely want to read JG Ballard after this workshop!

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Here is what I wrote in the session:

First Draft

My cocoon of glow wormed light swaddles me as if first born,
so quiet, it’s full of heart beats,
and it lights my way to safety within its cold cave walls.
Those outside can’t see it,
because the grass haired roof would confuse them.
 It is camouflaged and the oasis of cool within the searing heat
would remain hidden, unless
they knew just where the doorway sang.

(c) June Perkins

I am loving the writer’s workshops through Writelinks, and feel they give me a lot of support to keep developing my writing skills.

I highly recommend  this workshop series and have enjoyed the presenters we have had this year.  This week I will apply some of the learning from the weekend into a series of short stories, possibly novellas, that I am working on.

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Sam Sochacka presenting thank you certificate.

 

Precious Painting; Precious Times

youngjune2bA catch up on life this year. Making head way with my writing! Thanks so much to those who have been supporting and following the journey!

Following the Crow Song

youngjune2b Me as Young Artist – by Edward Broomhall

I was delighted to receive this photograph of attending an art class in my childhood from our art teacher at that time.

Thanks Edward!

I remember this experience and this jumper so well.

It was one of my favourite jumpers, due to the multicoloured randomness of the pattern, and the soft feel of the wool.

I remember painting a self portrait of myself in the jumper to capture how special it was to me as well, and never forgot it or the painting day.

I think that will be a poem one day for sure.

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I have written my early childhood up to when I was twenty and am letting that peculate for a while before deciding where to finish the story of growing up or whether to continue into student hood for my first book.

Work progresses on Magic Fish…

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