Adelaide Writers

Welcome, Writers!

I hope that writers feel comfortable here.  I write speculative fiction, but I enjoy all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, as you can see…

My bookshelf

Writers’ Groups

I am a member of several writers groups, for example, a little Facebook group called ‘Writers of Adelaide‘.  There are six other members, so far, and here are some links to their blogs:

Ryan Peck: https://adelaidedad.com/

Dean Mayes: http://www.deanfromaustralia.com/

Jennifer Sando: http://www.jennifersando.com/

Heidi Arellano: https://marissakeller.blogspot.com/

Mary Louise Tucker: https://mltatlarge.me/

Fontella Koleff: https://crossbordertales.wordpress.com/

Adelaide Writers’ Group (AWG)

We meet monthly to critique each others’ work at the Cumberland Arms Hotel.  Ask to join our (closed) Facebook group page for details, or try the SA Writers site for information on other local groups.

Back to my writing projects!

Anatomy of a Writer’s Block

Writer’s block.  It’s a cliche, it’s not real – is it?

This Writer’s Block

In 2010 I started writing my first novel.  (We’ll forget about the train wreck of a novel I wrote in the 1990s).  It was planned as part of a trilogy called When I Was, Other Than, What I Now Am, which is a quote from a short story by Greg Bear.

Greg Bear, SF Author
Greg Bear

By late 2012 I thought I had finished writing When I Was (HO-HO-HO, I’m still working on the latest draft in 2018) and I moved onto Other Than.

With the benefit of hindsight, this book was probably suffering from Second-system syndrome.  I deliberately kept the first one simple, with one main protagonist and everything written from his point of view.  Not so with number two! There were three main protagonists and multiple points of view.  Did this contribute to the problem?  I’m still not sure.

Anyway, all seemed to be going well.  I was using a detailed chapter plan, a first for me as I recognised the complexity of what I was taking on.  The words came easily and the characters, who I knew well from book one, were doing most of the work for me.  By March 2013 I was 30,000 words in and then … nothing.  I just ran out of steam and could go no further.

What Happened?

Looking through the files from then it was a very creative time.  I sketched out ideas for several novels, including one that evolved into Jubilee (a current work in progress, see this page) and another book in my planned alternative-crime series, The Oxygen Thieves, which is still on my to-do list.  Perhaps I just burned myself out.  After all, we’d just moved to Australia with a stroppy teenager (don’t try this at home) and I was just setting out on a five-and-a-half-year roller-coaster ride on a massive project at work.  (Incidentally, this ride comes to an end at the end of this month: synchronicity, anyone?)

In the end, I wrote my way out of the block, by starting a new project, writing the first 12,000 words of The Daedalus Soul; since then I’ve built this story to 50,000 words.  Eventually, I was able to go back and take the first draft of Other Than to 80,000 words and a conclusion.

Postscript

Sometime later I discovered that another name for writers’ block is the thirty-thousand [word] doldrums.  My grateful thanks to Emma Darwin and her excellent blog site This Itch of Writing.  As always, Emma provides wise advice and a useful perspective, from which the aspiring writer can see a way ahead.  Thanks, Emma!    Emma Darwin, patron saint of struggling writers

Emma Darwin

I am now returning to Other Than in order to complete it (note to self: must learn to FINISH a novel).

Review – The Artisan Heart

The Artisan Heart

Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.
When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.
A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.
As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

I have just finished reading ‘The Artisan Heart’ by Dean Mayes.  It’s a contemporary romance set mostly in the country Victoria town of Walhalla.  It is Dean’s fourth novel.  I should reveal that I’ve met Dean at Adelaide writers’ events, in various pubs, and he is a thoroughly nice guy!  (On this blog I have briefly reviewed his previous novel, ‘The Recipient’, which is a thriller with subtle supernatural elements.)

I was very pleased to be able to get a signed advanced copy (not a freebie, by the way), even though romance is not a genre that I would normally read.

Review

The novel opens in dramatic fashion with a betrayal, followed by a violent confrontation in the emergency room at Adelaide hospital.  The damaged protagonist returns to where he grew up.  He seeks shelter in a familiar place and with old family friends, but must also confront old pain and loss.  The romance at the core of the story grows slowly, but steadily, before the dramatic interventions of previous partners threaten to ruin everything.

One of the novel’s strengths, which it shares with ‘The Recipient’, is how it makes you care strongly for the characters, so strongly that I am reminded of novels by Neville Shute.  The two main characters are strong.  They are sympathetically drawn, but they are not without their faults, they carry scars from past relationships and they did not get on so well in the past.  These factors and many others mean that they are fully and satisfyingly realised on the page – and in the mind’s eye.

The cast of supporting characters is also vividly drawn, some at more length than others, but always to good effect on the plot and this reader.  The disability of a key supporting character is sensitively dealt with, heightening the sense of peril at times, but without being patronizing or clichéd.  The town of Walhalla and the surrounding hills also play their part and are well presented.  The slightly claustrophobic small town is hemmed in by the mountains, forming a cauldron for the romance and drama.  Economic use of description adds realism and atmosphere without getting in the way.

Dean adds his medical knowledge into the mix and several twists that stop the romantic story arc becoming predictable or too comfortable.  All these elements – plot, characters, setting, description and so on – are skilfully combined into a satisfying whole.

Conclusion

As I said at the start I would not normally read a romance, and this book is quite different from Dean’s previous novel.  Nevertheless, I was very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next Dean brought another element to the fore and kept me anxiously reading right to the end.  Thus fed and entertained, I shall be more open-minded in my future reading!

The Artisan Heart will be available in print and digital from September 1st, 2018.
See Dean’s website for details…

Book Review

Hi all,

I have been lucky enough to be asked to review the latest book by Adelaide writer Dean Mayes, called ‘The Artisan Heart’.  Now, everyone in Adelaide knows everyone else via two or three other people, so it’s no surprise that I know Dean.  I met him down the pub at an Adelaide lit drinks thing put on by SA Writers, and he’s a thoroughly nice bloke.  Now that I’ve disclosed that I’m biased…

…let’s get on with the review.  Well, sort of.  I am reading The Artisan Heart and thoroughly enjoying it so far, but I’m not finished or ready to review it.  Feeling a bit guilty about being so slack in my reading, I thought that I would mention Dean’s previous book ‘The Recipient’.

Review: The Recipient

The Recipient, Dean Mayes, Review, Novel, Thriller
Cover picture of The Recipient, by Dean Mayes

This is a contemporary thriller with a subtle, but important supernatural element to it, and sat mainly in Melbourne: so far, quite different from the Artisan Heart.  However, it also has strong, nuanced and believable characters, which Dean gets you to care about very quickly.  He reminds me of Nevil Shute in that respect.

The book also delivers on the thriller front, with a tough, driven heroine, who gets herself into some dangerous situations. There are also some interesting family dynamics, several characters who may have mixed motives and a well rounded, but lethal, villain.

Anyway, I hope that I’ve whetted your appetite!. Now I must get on with reading The Artisan Heart!

Cheers, Simon

Grants Information for South Australian Writers

Yesterday I went to an event run by the Arts South Australia on grants from their Independent Makers and Presenters Program (IMPP).

My thanks to Jennifer Sando on Writers in Adelaide for the tip-off!

Introduction

It was an open panel discussion about project and professional development funding opportunities for independent writers.  About fifteen of us got to learn more about IMPP funding categories, and we got inside tips on how to present a competitive application.

The session focused mainly on Project Grants, for – you guessed it – specific projects and on Individual Development Grants for mentoring opportunities.  A lot of the advice was along the lines of “read the handbook and do what it says”; a handbook or guide is available on the website for each grant category and the ones I read were clear and helpful.

Good Advice on Grants

However, there was also lots of other good advice, for example:

  • You can’t apply for funding to do things that are part of an existing course;
  • Include a one-paragraph synopsis of your intended work;
  • What is your inspiration? What are you exploring?
  • How are you pushing (your) boundaries? Why is this work a strategic choice for you?
  • The Arts SA staff encourage applicants to get in touch with them (contact details on the IMPP website) – indeed few applications succeed without this;
  • The Arts SA staff will read applications for first-time applicants (but NOT in the final week before the submission deadline;
  • You should begin writing your application at least six weeks before the deadline; and
  • About one in three applications succeed!

I felt greatly encouraged to “give it a shot” and apply, even dare I say to try something out of my comfort zone – why not?  Peter Grace and Julia Moretti of Arts SA were excellent, as were Arts South Australia peer assessors Dr Cameron Raynes and Dr Danielle Clode, who had themselves won such grants in the past.  I also know some un/published writers who have won these grants, so there is hope for us mere mortals!

Panel Members

https://arts.sa.gov.au/sites/default/files/public/styles/flexslider-mid/public/field/image/cloderaynes_0.jpg?itok=X1TmIHQr

Dr Cameron Raynes is an Adelaide based writer and educator. His published works include First Person Shooter, The Last Protector and The Colour of Kerosene, for which he received the prestigious Josephine Ulrick Literary Prize in 2008. Cameron currently teaches Aboriginal History, Contemporary Aboriginal Issues and Creative Writing at the University of South Australia.

Dr Danielle Clode is the author of numerous literary non-fiction publications, including Voyages of the South Seas, A Future in Flames and The Wasp and the Orchid. She is the recipient of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction, Whitley Award for popular zoology and has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia award. Danielle is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University.

Further Information

For further information contact Julia Moretti, Arts Development Officer, Independent Makers and Presenters Program on julia.moretti@sa.gov.au