Kat Muscat Fellowship

In 2019, I was lucky enough to be chosen as the Kat Muscat Fellow, an annual award given by Express Media to a writer under the age of 30 to support an editorial project or work that embodies Kat’s legacy of feminism, defiance and empathy.

More information about the Fellowship here

I was also invited to speak at the Blue Breakfast, an annual breakfast in partnership with Beyond Blue to raise funds for the fellowship and to tackle stigma and discrimination and promote good mental health.

Blue Breakfast Speech

[Transcript]

My name is Liana Skrzypczak. I am adopted from Korea into a Polish-Australian family, hence the incredibly long and confusing last name. I want to stress that my writing has always been influenced by this mixed cultural heritage. AndThe Lore of Jeju, the project I have been working on with the assistance and support of this amazing fellowship, is no different.

The Lore of Jeju seemed ambitious on the outset. I wanted 1) an all-Korean 2) female cast, existing in a world where 2) sexual fluidity is the norm and where the 3) magic system was not based on the well worn paths of euro-centric mythology. Some would say ambitious, other would say stupid. But I believed all the above stated aims were incredibly important. And so I pushed ahead and began to consider how I might pull off this story.

I’d recently been inspired by the way writers like Naomi Alderman who wrote The Power managed to create a world where a female dominant power system was the norm. Other novels which manage to create their own micro-cultures within them were island novels like Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater or Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. In these books, the literal boundaries of an island allowed the author to create societal rules and beliefs that pushed the readers conception of ‘normal’ in whichever direction the author wanted.

So, I began to look for likely island cultures on which to base my East-Asian, matriarchal, all-female, kick-ass cast on. And it didn’t take too long before I was reading all about the history of Jeju-do, a rugged volcanic island off the south coast of Korea, which, while known for its abundant waters and fertile soil, has a fascinating history. It was used for political prisoners during the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910). It was the place of brutal mass killings of communist sympathisers in 1948 leading up to the Korean War. It’s where the infamous Haenyeo ‘sea-women’, free-divers of Jeju are famous for risking their lives to dive the rugged coastline without oxygen tanks in search of seafood to provide for their families. Jeju-do is known for its matriarchal legacy because of this.

So, I had my potential setting. Next, I needed an inciting incident: a profound circumstance that would drive the plot. I was dwelling on this problem on a 9-hour drive from Melbourne to Adelaide where my family lives and saw a fallen tree. It was the strangest shape, hollowed, looked like a piece of windswept driftwood. I began to think, driftwood –> Island –> imagine if the driftwood arrived on the island but was not a piece of driftwood at all but a vessel for carrying something… or someone. A person –> An exile –> A prisoner exiled on a one-way current to a treacherous island of women who’ve been exiled for the same thing. But what?

Murdering men? Yes, I thought. I can do something with that. Then, I thought, what if this particular piece of driftwood contained a man? The first to set foot on the island since its inception. What would happen to him?

So, this became the basis for my premise as follows:

On an island of women exiled for the crime of killing men, one of these women, Shin, wants nothing more than to escape and reap revenge for those who wronged her. When a Prince rocks up in a magic driftwood casket, exiled for pissing off his father, King Suro, the one responsible for the women’s exile, he must make a bid for his life. Will Shin be able to forgive Jae-Sun for the wrongdoings of the men who took away her people’s freedom? Will Jae-sun be able to prove that he’s not his father? Will they be able to conjure a plan of escape? Will they fight for a revolution? Together.

So already, I had a premise which involved two characters whose desires and beliefs are in direct opposition. But it quickly became apparent to me that this skeleton outline was missing a heartbeat. Which led me to my application for this fellowship, which involved money to fund a research trip to Jeju Island to visit the locations I had in mind for key scenes within the novel.

As soon as I set foot on the rugged volcanic coastline, I realised in all my research, I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of what Jeju has to offer. Everything I needed to embellish this brutal and beautiful world was right there in front of me.

Yes, I was that suspect tourist running around gathering all the sensory details one can’t get from online research. Yes, I was the one hanging off the side of a cliff just to get a photo of an interesting fungi growing from a rotting tree carcass. I spent an entire day in the Natural History Museum using google translate on my phone to decipher information on traditional earthwork, stone masonry, thatching, food culture, boat building, herbal medicine, flora, fauna everything there was to know about geography, geology, cosmology, weather, folk lore, clothing, music, customs etc. Yes, I was the one telling everyone to shush while I made voice memos of bird songs. My friend really thought I’d lost it when she turned to see me saying “Anyeonghaseyo!” to a nest of ants and asking them to identify themselves because I couldn’t find them in the guidebook.

I am a writer whose themes have always been deeply connected to setting and place. Without this fellowship, how would I have knownthe sheer force of buffeting winds on Mount Hallasan’s volcanic cone. The smell of rotting clumps of miyeok on the foreshore, or the specific cadence of the Haenyeo “Leyeo Leyeo Leyeodo Sana”work song.

How would I have come up with the saying: “She is suffering from a single cloud rain” to describe a passing sadness if I hadn’t experiencedthe Jeju phenomenon of a torrential downpour that lasts only handful of seconds?

How would I have come up with the saying: ‘She is like a splintered rice paddy in drought’ to describe the condition of ‘yearning’ for freedom if I didn’t see the effects of rice farming on the soil due to a lack of fresh water or irrigation options.

This fellowship allowed me to engage all five senses authentically and to ensure Shin-young’s story wasn’t a skeleton without a soul. 

Thank you:

To Roz, Maddy and Michael—from the moment I met you at lunch just prior to embarking on my trip, your warmth, generosity and genuine passion for this project was invigorating. I can’t tell you how much it means to have that. And also, you guys give the best hugs. To the rest of the committee Tracy, Shawn, Elizabeth, Jo, Jessica, Zoe and the Express Media team Lucy, Beth, Ronnie, I know I have only met some of you, but I have heard of all of you and I feel as though I know you guys so well. Thank you for your tireless work in the arts community and for those of you at Express Media and the Wheelers Centre, thank you for running such amazing institutions.

To Beyond Blue—thank you for the work you do with changing stigmas around mental health in so many areas. From the arts, to, for example, education, which happens to be my day job. I recently attended a professional development workshop where one of your representatives left us with the timely reminder that: “Everyone has mental health needs. Mental health is a spectrum and we are all included in it.” Thank you for the work that you do.

Finally, I wanted to say thank you to Kat for founding a legacy of feminism, empathy and defiance—a mantra I am holding close while drafting this work. It’s a powerful thing to be able to ignite a community of creatives around important themes like these and I have felt that power around me from the momentthis fellowship was announced on social media by the Wheeler Centre. Immediately, I was flooded with support from writers I’ve admired, but whom I’ve never met. From agents and publishers who reached out and showed that these themes matter on a larger industry scale. And from readers who told me this is the kind of book they’ve been searching for. That the lack of books that contain narratives about powerful East-Asian women, representation of LGBT romances, and fantastic worlds of a non-eurocentric origin isn’t a niche frustration, but a shared feeling amongst many.

The Whiter the Socks

Westerly Magazine (issue 64.1) has published a creative non-fiction story of mine, ‘The Whiter the Socks’ about my grandmother (babcia) and her time at Hohenfels Stalag 383 displaced persons camp after WWII.

This story tells three stories of survival: My babcia, Two young men, A cow.

Image: Australian War Museum (AWM)

 

[excerpt]

 

Babcia has sun-splotched hands, with skin that stays peaked after it’s pinched. She says it’s because she’s old and the skin has lost its spring. I think it’s because she carries too many secrets around and they’ve made her hands heavy.

The cow stood, body long to the wind, nose twitching. Dusk fell over the valley and a white frost crept up each blade of grass until the rolling green became rolling white.

The young lad raised his eyebrows as the older man tossed cloth into his hands. ‘What are these?’

‘Socks. To keep her hooves quiet.’

‘The Cow?’

‘Yes. Haven’t you ever put socks on a cow before?’

Buy it online here

The Long and Grinding Road

The Big Issue Australia have published my personal essay, The Long and Grinding Road, as a feature article in their New Year magazine (No. 578).

This was a think-piece inspired by one of the most difficult years of my life in which I spent many hours aboard the Firefly Express night-bus from Adelaide to Melbourne and back again.

[Excerpt]

…and after the year I’d had—family drama, work stress, money problems—my emotional baggage was heavy and my bank account, a little light. Thank God for the Firefly.

There are many reasons why people choose the Firefly over plane or train.

I MET PEOPLE WITH BAGGAGE OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES—LITERALLY AND METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING.

[Excerpt]

Steve’s gaze was a fly settling on the spot between my eyes. “So, how come you’re heading to Melbourne?”

[Excerpt]

“I’ve got a chance to, you know, start over. I’m straight outta recovery so I wanna change…”

[Excerpt]

Back in our seats, I wondered what Steve had been about to say, or had been trying to say, but couldn’t.

I am especially proud of this piece as The Big Issue is a not-for-profit, independent magazine aimed at supporting disadvantaged Australians.

Vendors receive $4.50 for every $9 issue sold.

More on The Big Issue here

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Mother

Mother is a psychological horror inspired by:

… a notorious Adelaide Hills firebug who was sentenced to 13 years prison in 2007 for the deliberate lighting of 21 fires around the town of Harrogate using customised mosquito coils.

$7000 damage was done to fencing and the largest blaze blackened 180ha of land. Residents describe the year before her arrest as a period of terror.

Links to news reports: The Australian, ABC, Adelaide Now,

My partner was witness to one of these fires at his family home in Oakbank. He remembers waking up during the night and seeing the fire at the end of the driveway to the property. During interviews with the CFS and the police, he learnt the incident was one in a long string of suspicious fires intentionally lit that summer.

It was believed, at first, that the culprit was male and from Harrogate. Many meetings were called by the local town council to discuss and condemn the terrorising actions of this individual.

The incidents became so serious that locals took to taking shifts, sitting in their cars and monitoring the entry to the town and recording suspicious vehicles passing through.

When White, loving mother of two and one of the most vocal advocates for catching the perpetrator during this time, was convicted, it sent shock waves through the community.

White told the court she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress due to an incident in her childhood, post-natal depression and anxiety.

She remembered watching the blazes but didn’t remember lighting the fires.

She was released on bail in 2016.

 

[excerpt]

 

Mother didn’t bother finding out my sex, so sure she was that I was a boy. ‘Gave a kick like a ginger hare in a ferret’s mouth,’ she told me once at Christmas, saluting with her empty scotch tumbler. ‘Near broke me ribs.’ As she laughed, the smoke from her Winnie Blues choked the tiny square space of kitchen.

Mosquitoes, a black storm cloud of them, rush the porch, blocking moonlight, wings beating a sound like static, angry humming becoming murderously loud. Once inside, I can hear the pebble bulk of their bodies battering the windows and doors, catching on the thin wire mesh of the fly screen.

‘There’s something wrong with my baby,” I say.

ISLAND 155 2018 COVER noBarcode LRG

Buy it online here

Stocklists here

Leaden Heart

My mother grew up in Hobart before moving to Adelaide as a teenager. During a very special trip to Tasmania with my partner last year, I got to visit my mother’s old neighbourhood and home as well as experience some of the most beautiful Australian landscapes, wine, food and festivities (such as the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race).

We also made a day trip to Port Arthur, infamous convict penitentiary for some of the hardest criminals of the 19th Century, and also the site of more recent tragedy (Port Arthur Massacre, 1996). I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the natural surrounds, juxtaposed against the stories of horror and brutality that had been experienced there.

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This short story was inspired by this spirit of place, and

…the infamous escape attempt of George ‘Billy’ Hunt, travelling actor and self-proclaimed ‘mad man’, who tried to jump across Eaglehawk Neck to freedom in the the carcass of a kangaroo.

[excerpt]

The crack of the whip cut the frosty dawn, sending feverish shivers along the lines of sleeping men. Exhaustion kept them at a doze, although the sound pierced their flesh and settled in their bones. They had all endured the whip—but none had seen it ring so many times and with such ferocity as they did now…

Read it here

Buy it here

The Moon and The Sundarban

Sundarban: ‘Beautiful Forest’ (Language: Bengali)

This short story was inspired by a documentary I saw on the BBC UK channel in 2013 entitled, ‘The Man-Eating Tigers of the Sundarbans’. The documentary was about the Bengal Tiger living in the tidal mangroves of the Sundarbans, Bangladesh—the only place in the world where tigers actively seek out human prey (up to 300 people are attacked and killed each year). While it is a phenomenon that continues to stump ecologists, it has been loosely attributed to global warming (rising tide levels leading to a decrease in tiger’s rainforest territory). This is a concern for both the villagers and the tiger conservationists, who have seen a rise in poaching and ‘revenge killings’ of the endangered creature as a response.

The most fascinating part of the documentary was the conservationists’ innovative plan to train local stray dogs as a pack to warn villagers when a tiger is near. The bravery, intelligence and instinct for survival of these previously mistreated strays was what inspired me to write this story about Dukhe, a stray dog from the streets of Khula, Bangladesh, who finds his leadership of the Chadpai pack threatened by a mysterious creature lurking on the outskirts of the forest. He goes to investigate, and in the course of a single turning tide, changes the hierarchy of the forest forever.

 

[excerpt]

Dukhe lifted his shaggy brown head and sniffed. The villagers were at it again – burning incense, beating rapid footfalls on the hard clay earth and chanting in low, guttural voices as they did on the eve of each shrinking moon. Dukhe was so used to these strange monthly rituals that he let his eyelids grow heavy and stretched his forepaws towards the campfire flames, soaking up flickers of warmth. But as he was about to rest his head again, he caught a whiff of something heady, pheromone rich, skirting the opposite bank of the river just beyond reach of the firelight. The scent may have eluded a lesser nose, but it set the coarse hairs of his haunches bristling and exposed his canines to their root. Years living on the busy streets of Khulna in the far North—where the slightly rancid scent of another stray’s breath could carry with it the wide-eyed craze of the frothing sickness—had taught him never to trust a scent he couldn’t immediately define.

The sound began in the hollow of his chest, hitching a couple of times before bursting forth in a wolfish pitch. It was a sound that called to the heart of any dog whose breed had not yet been tamed, and for a second, the forest stilled, listening. The breeze held its breath. The tittering nocturnal creatures ceased their midnight rustlings. The tiger rose, hair bristling, the tip of its tail agitating left and right as though to swipe away the sound. When its attention shifted towards the village, Dukhe slipped beneath the tangle of roots and swum back to the banks of the khal where he rose, bloody and dripping.

 

To read full short story, order your copy of Pencilled In Magazine, Issue 1, ‘Fear and Hope’ here : http://pencilled.in/product/issue-1-fear-hope/  – A new literary magazine dedicated to publishing works from Asian-Australian artists and creators.

Cover pic

SOUTH AUSSIES AT THE NATIONAL YOUNG WRITERS FESTIVAL 2016

Now in its 19th year, the National Young Writers’ Festival, creative partner of the much celebrated TiNA (This is Not Art festival), just keeps getting better.

This year, South Australian co-director, Annie Waters and her team upheld the long-running festival tradition of diversity and inclusion. They were looking for minority voices, multi-disciplinary workshops, fresh conversations and creative interpretations on theme. No conversation was too taboo. No pitch was left unturned. This resulted in a fascinating variety of workshops, round-table discussions, panels, games, debates and stalls.

And South Australian voices were not in short supply. South Aussies and SA Writers Centre members in attendance included Sarah Gates, Royce Kurmelovs, Phoebe Paterson de Heer, Anthony Nocera (current Digital Writer-in-Residence), Shaylee Leach, Simone Corletto and Joshua Mensch to name a few – all were glad to escape the blackouts, storms and flooding for 26 degrees and blue skies.

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The 2016 festival theme, ‘Get Lost,’ attracted over 117 presenters (not to mention attendees), 23 pop-up venues, labyrinth-inspired parties and mysterious Amazing Race-esque games. So jam-packed was the program, it was hard not to get lost in the creative pandemonium. In other words, I was not the only one who was wishing for a time-turner in order to make it to all the amazing events.

“The only possible way to fit everything I want to see at this festival is to constantly rock up halfway through [each event]” – Simone Corletto

From the very first night of readings on Thursday 29th September (back by popular demand), the high standard was set. Special guest writers exchanged childhood photos and had the crowd laughing, crying and exclaiming in delight over their astounding interpretations of character, narrative and voice.

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Then came a full day of bike-decorating, learning how to produce a podcast on the museum tram with the talented crew at ‘All The Best Radio,’ writing for television with Neighbours screen writer Magda Wozniak, fortune telling through native flowers, and the heated debates of ‘Science Fiction versus Science’ over who can ‘tell us more’ about the end of the world.

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Minds warmed up as we delved into the uncertain future of arts funding and journalism, and were soothed again by poetry inspired by place and landscape. We talked about gender representation in fashion and threw away traditional ‘stand up’ comedy forms at Friday night’s open mic event.

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And then of course, there was the much loved festival ball. Labyrinth themed, showcasing some serious glitter, fairy lights and ‘out of this world’ dance moves and ending with late night dips in the Sea Baths.

There was something for everyone. Even those who were simply after some quaint sea-side reflective calm or coffee chats with other artists at the many cute cafes along the main street.

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While the future of the writing industry might be the Labyrinth of all Labyrinths, creativity isn’t going anywhere. And neither is this festival. Due to the passion and drive of its organisers and contributing artists, it’s only getting bigger and better. So, keep an eye out for the next one!

“It’s been really beautiful to be amongst what feels like … a community and where art doesn’t feel like a beauty pageant. #NYWF ” – Shaylee Leach

For more information on how and when to apply for next year’s festival:

Twitter: @NYWF

Website: www.youngwritersfestival.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/youngwritersfestival

 

 

Article first published on the SA Writers Centre website

NYWF – Implementing Professional Advice and Feedback

Interpreting and implementing Professional Advice and Feedback­

*Fact sheet prepared for National Young Writers Festival, Sydney, September 2016

Downloadable PDF

Reading is highly subjective and so finding the right set of eyes to give feedback on a new piece of writing can be both instructive and detrimental, making the process of interpreting and implementing feedback daunting for any writer.

Listed below are sources of feedback a writer might expect to receive:

Writing mentor:

One of the most valuable and accurate sources of feedback can come from a writing mentor (see blog post ‘Professional Mentorships’ for more information on sourcing a mentorship). This process guarantees personalised and targeted feedback from a professional in the field who may be working in a similar style and genre for a target audience. Forms of feedback can include industry, structural, copy or proof as well as general personal support (as outlined in next section).

In-house editor / publisher / agent:

If you’re at the stage where you have gained the attention of an in-house editor or publisher, some agents and publishers will request a ‘revise and submit’ from an author before signing them. This is as much to identify how well an author receives feedback as it is to determine how successfully they can integrate that feedback into their manuscript.

Critique partner / critique group / beta-readers:

This is a great way to ‘cast the net wide’ and collect the opinions of a sample of readers. Sometimes the collective opinions of a group can help a writer better identify any weaknesses / trends in their work. Formal critique partners can be sourced through most writing institutions such as state writing centres, Australian Society of Authors and through writing memberships such as Romance Writers of Australia.

Freelance Editor:

Freelance feedback services are available from most writing institutions (State Writers Centres, Australian Society of Authors) and come at a cost. Rates vary depending on the editor and the type of service (structural or other). The South Australian ‘Society of Editors’ has a list of registered editors on their website and the kinds of services they offer. Registered means that each editor has undergone and passed state standards to receive qualification. http://www.editors-sa.org.au/

Manuscript assessment services:

Manuscript assessment is usually a combination of industry, structural, copy advice on a manuscript, with a focus on the big-picture—content, voice, tone, style, plot pace, characterisation, setting, dialogue, market, audience, theme. More on these categories outlined below.

Types of advice that may be contracted or received:

Industry advice:

  • Will the story idea appeal to the market in which it’s intended?
  • Does the story idea identify a target audience in tone, theme, voice, plot, character?
  • Does the story idea hold its own in the current marketplace? (Has it been overdone? Does it offer something new? Is it following a trend?)

Structural advice:

  • How does the work read as a whole?
  • Are events logical and consistent?
  • Are there any obvious plot holes?
  • Does the world/setting/characters work? Do the characters and relationships work?
  • Does the book begin/end in a satisfactory manner?
  • Does the author’s choice of tense and voice work?

Copy advice:

  • Is spelling, grammar consistent and accurate?

Personal advice:

  • Personal advice, usually given in an informal fashion (through mentorships, discussion panels). May include advice on how to handle rejection, stress, career pressures. This can be just as important as craft, industry and career advice to some writers.

Some thoughts on interpreting and implementing feedback

It is important to be open to feedback in order to learn and improve. However, being too influenced by feedback, or making uninformed changes based on mixed feedback can confuse and water down the intended effect of a particular work. It is important to develop a strong sense of intention before approaching feedback so that subjective opinion may be strategically and implemented or considered and, sometimes, disregarded.

Remember, as Neil Gaiman stated:

“…when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/477087-remember-when-people-tell-you-something-s-wrong-or-doesn-t-work

NYWF – Professional Mentorships

Sourcing and Engaging in a Professional Mentorship

*Fact sheet prepared for National Young Writers Festival, Sydney, September 2016

Downloadable PDF

Why should I get a mentor?

Mentorships aren’t for everyone. Some writers may not feel the need to engage with a mentor in a formal sense—the advice, encouragement and support of trusted advisors, friends, colleagues might be enough. But in some cases, a mentorship may be a way to access specialised/in-depth/targeted advice on a specific area of interest or difficulty. In these cases, a professional mentorship might be worth considering.

What kind of advice can I expect to gain from a writing mentor?

There are many different kinds of mentorships available to writers, from project development mentorships to industry advice. Perhaps you are working on a science-fiction manuscript and want to improve the world-building elements, or you have a polished manuscript and want to know where to send it. Whatever the area of interest or difficulty, there are knowledgeable people out there who are willing to help.

Where can I source a mentorship?

Mentorships can be privately sourced (see info under ‘how do I approach a mentor?’), or sourced through professional institutions and awards. See list below:

  1. Australian Society of Authors Emerging Writers’ and Illustrators’ Mentorship Program supported by Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

https://www.asauthors.org/asa-mentorships

Professional advice for emerging writers and illustrators on strengthening a manuscript to publication standard for an elected number of hours over an agreed time period.

  1. Hachette Mentoring Program

An opportunity to work with an in-house editor at Hachette Australia on a manuscript

South Australia: https://sawriters.org.au/2015/05/19/south-australian-hachette-mentoring-program/

Western Australia: http://www.writingwa.org/programmes-services/hachette-mentoring-program-for-writers/

Northern Territory: http://www.ntwriters.com.au/news/hachette-mentorship-program/

Tasmania: http://www.taswriters.org/tasmanian-writers-centre-and-hachette-mentoring-program/

  1. Valerie Parv Award

1-year mentorship for a romance author to work with award-winning writer, Valerie Parv

http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/110/Valerie-Parv-Award

  1. Affirm Press Mentorship award

http://www.varuna.com.au/varuna/index.php/programs/residential-programs/pathways-publication/item/342-the-affirm-press-mentorship-award

  1. Writers’ Centre Programs

South Australia – https://sawriters.org.au/mentorship-program/

Victoria – https://writersvictoria.org.au/support/mentorships

New South Wales – http://www.nswwc.org.au/support-for-writers/mentorship-program/

How do I approach a mentor?

Before applying for a mentorship or choosing a mentor, the applicant should identify what they want to gain from the process. A mentor will want to know that they are the best person for the job and that they will be able to provide the kind of advice being sought. Mentorship programs won’t consider an application unless they believe a specific outcome can be successfully achieved.

For privately sourced mentorships, the success of an application can lie in the strength of the query letter. Some authors will make it very clear on their website that they are not available for mentorships. It’s always good to do your research and find out if they’ve taken mentees before—which can be a positive indication that they would be open to doing so again.

What should I include in a query letter?

  1. Identifiable and relevant details about yourself
  2. Clear explanation of why you’ve approached the mentor including examples that express an understanding of the mentor’s strengths and expertise
  3. A detailed mentorship plan including SMART goals (measurable outcomes, timelines, mode of correspondence). More on SMART goals here: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php
  4. Details on how you’re going to recompense the author for their time and expertise. Rates can be found on the Australian Society of Authors (approximately 100 per hour).
  5. Should you be considering applying for a grant to cover the costs of the mentorship, details of grant should be supplied so that mentor can prepare relevant support letters and references. See more information about grants and funding opportunities below.

How do I fund a privately sourced mentorship?

Sourcing the right mentor is one thing, but finding a way to recompense them for their time and expertise can be the tricky part. Below is a list of grants that are specifically designed to support authors with mentorship opportunities (Apologies in advice for the South Australian focus of this blog post. Similar funding bodies can be found in each state):

Arts funding bodies in SA include:

  1. CARCLEW:

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/ProjectandDevelopmentGrants

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/fellowships

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/quickstart-loans

  1. ARTS SA:

http://arts.sa.gov.au/grants/emerging-artists-mentorships-impp/

http://arts.sa.gov.au/grants/professional-development-imp/

  1. Copyright Agency Ignite Career Fund:

http://copyright.com.au/culturalfund/career-fund/career-fund-guidelines/

  1. Quick Response Grants:

http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/your-council/funding/community-development-funding/

https://www.countryartswa.asn.au/our-services/funding/quick-response-grant/

  1. Local council grants (eg: City of Salisbury):

http://www.salisbury.sa.gov.au/Council/Grants_and_Awards/Grants

  1. University Alumni grants (eg: Flinders University):

http://www.flinders.edu.au/research/researcher-support/grants-contracts/

So, you’ve successfully secured a mentorship, now what?

Now it’s time to move on to my blog post on interpreting and implementing professional advice and feedback, which will outline what to expect when working with a mentor, editor, publisher on a manuscript or project.

How to chair a panel at a writing festival

Saturday 7th of May 2016 – I had the opportunity to chair my very first panel at the speculative fiction/fantasy festival held at SA Writers Centre with the lovely Gillian Rubinstein aka Lian Hearn and our very own South Australian writer, Tony Shillitoe.

Getting to meet two incredible writers with very different experiences and opinions, and to engage them in a discussion about the growing number of crossover readers that comprise the current YA market – a percentage believed to be as high as 55% – was enlightening and one which I can’t wait to repeat should the opportunity present itself again.

While I was extremely nervous about hosting a panel, I quickly learnt that writers are not only generous with their knowledge of the industry and their craft, but with their understanding and helpfulness. Most have been on both sides of the table and are more than willing to help steer the conversation. Here are some of the most important things I learnt from the experience:

  • Research the authors. Make sure you have a good knowledge of their work, their views, their expertise. Watch previous interviews (podcasts are great) to see how they address questions. Ie: Are they softly spoken? Are they animated? Do they like to joke around? Do they give short answer questions or do they elaborate on topics?
  • Research the topic. Example: When thinking about YA crossovers, I made sure to have a thorough knowledge of the main conversations concerning YA literature such as censorship, marketing, themes and changing technologies. I looked at past and current trends as well as future outlooks for the market.
  • Know your audience. What’s the demographic? Are they majority writers or majority readers? What specific areas would they be interested in? Craft-related advice? Industry knowledge? Or do they just want to hear from their favourite authors and learn more about their books and lives?
  • For a 40-60 minute panel, write around 4-5 open-ended questions that could lead to smaller investigative follow-up questions. Try to vary question depth and involvement required by the panelists. Start with some easier, ‘warm-up’ questions and build to the high concept questions. Try to vary mode of questioning (How do you feel about … ? Why do you think … ? Do you agree with … ? What are your thoughts/opinions …? Can you explain … ? Have you done …. ? Is there an example of … ?)
  • If possible, try to introduce yourself to the panelists at least twenty minutes prior to the session to get to know them, to discuss few key topics that both parties would like to cover and, most importantly, to get a feel the group dynamics.
  • When introducing the panelists, keep their introductions brief and relevant to the topic being discussed. Example: if you’re talking about YA crossovers, reference their YA works. The audience wants to know that the author they’re listening to actually has experience in the field they are discussing.
  • During the session, allow the conversation to flow naturally and for the authors to explore larger concepts and ideas. However, try not to let the conversation go too off topic or else the audience isn’t getting what they came to hear.
  • Listen to what the panelists are saying but feel confident to offer alternative views or opinions in a way that encourages interesting and positive discussion.
  • Try to avoid talking about yourself or monopolising the conversation. This isn’t about you.
  • Keep track of the time. If you’re using a watch, place it on the table so you can see it without being obvious. You don’t want to be bringing your wrist to your face every time you need to check the time. It’s distracting and can make people think they need to wrap up.
  • Bring a pen to jot down key words or ideas should the conversation spark a new question or concept.
  • Allow 10-15 minutes for audience questions at the end.
  • Be prepared to clarify/repeat audience questions.

Mentorship with Sean Williams thanks to Carclew PD grant

It’s official – 2016 is going to be a good year!

I just found out I have been awarded a $3000 grant to develop a YA fantasy novel under the tutelage of New York Times best-selling author, Sean Williams, commencing January next year. Thank you to Carclew for their constant and enduring support of the creative arts and for backing my proposal.

Now to morph into the biggest knowledge sponge over the new year.

For all those looking for a dependable funding body for their creative pursuits, I definitely recommend Carclew.

See information on their project development grants here.

For a full list of the 2016 round 1 recipients click here.

 

Feature image: Assisted by the South Australian Government through Carclew.

I made my own colour thesaurus

After being inspired by Ingrid Sunberg’s ‘The Colour Thesaurus‘, I decided to put my day job to good use and share some of the wonderful colour names I come across as a showroom assistant at a kitchen cabinet company.

Every year, new colours of laminate, natural/composite stones, acrylics, timbers, metals, paints come in, and some of them have some extremely creative and inspiring names which I’ve shared below with the hope of inspiring others in their narrative descriptions.

Enjoy!

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Clear/white

Diamond, salt, icicle, polar, crystal, snowdrift, alpine, quartz, fleece, foam, silica, talc, dove, sorbet, mist, swan, alpine, avalanche, Everest, birch, calacatta

 Cream

Pearl, champagne, parchment, cappucchino, latte, porcelain, pannacotta, linen, antique, chalk, eggshell, putty, limed, nougat, pannacotta, frappe, crème brulee, carrina marble, ivory, clamshell, atlantic, alabaster, alpaca, twine, moleskin

Grey/silver

Smoke, palladium, iridium, ash, iron, gunmetal, nickel, oyster, carbon, armour, concrete, sarsen, pewter, platinum, seal, pumice, fossil, basalt, slate, soapstone

Yellow

Malt, buttermilk, ginseng, sand, chamois, honeycomb

Brown

Quarry, caraway, leather, char, cinder, truffle, wenge, hazel, cocoa, walnut, biscuit, taupe, cinnamon, kashmir/cashmere, mocha, feldspar, husk, macadamia, sable, bronze, teak, balsa, bamboo, maple, oak, mahogany, reed, straw, macchiato, shitake, clay, jute, peat, caper, espresso, moose, heartwood, russet, tawny

Black

Graphite, peppercorn, flint, ashphalt, aniseed, galileo, swan, raven, battalion, ebony, eclipse, midnight, licorice, volcano, domino

Red

Cabernet, tulip, redgum, alder, cherry, raspberry

Orange

Tangello, caviar, persimmon, mandarin, Olympic orange

Blue

Lagoon, peacock, teal, china, ocean, bay

Green

Snowgum, zinc, sorrel, jalapeno, olive, lichen, grass, spring, pesto, Amazon

Pink

Blush, posie, coral

Purple

Eggplant, plum

Thank you SA Life Magazine and SA Writers Centre

Was very excited to get a text message from a workmate last week saying: “Your photo is in the latest issue of SA Life! Page 44.” Lo and behold I went and bought myself a copy and found this!

SA life article SA Life article 2 SA Life cover

It’s an article about the South Australian Hachette mentoring program I received with in-house editor Sophie Hamley for my YA speculative fiction manuscript, Gold. A big thanks to Vanessa Jones at SA Writers Centre for making this happen. It’s lovely to get an acknowledgement in such a fancy magazine!

cited to

I read my work on Radio Adelaide!

I had so much fun recording this segment with Radio Adelaide’s ‘Wide Open Road’ that I just had to share the fantastic result of their hard work and passion for live literary readings. Screenshot 2015-07-29 10.20.09

While I can’t quite bring myself to listen to my own voice just yet, here is the link to our sci-fi segment: https://radio.adelaide.edu.au/specials/the-wide-open-road/ (scroll to the bottom). Fun fact: Best-selling sci-fi author and multiple award winner, Sean Williams read some exclusive excerpts from soon to be published new work!

An interview with Liana Skrzypczak

DUBNIUM

Liana Skrzypczak is an emerging fantasy fiction writer whose first novel, White Horse, was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for new writing talent. She has since commenced publication with Harlequin and is now working on a sequel to this work, The Zoo, which she hopes to complete by the end of 2014. When she’s not shooting her characters with ice arrows, she’s confusing people with her mixed heritage (being adopted from Korea into a Polish family living in Australia). In what little spare time she has left, you can also find her surfing, relief teaching, talking to herself in Spanish, running around after children at her local OSHC and answering phones for her dad’s kitchen business. More on her adventures at her blog and on Facebook.

She took the time to have a chat with one of our editors, Sam Prior.

View original post 459 more words

17 Questions a Publisher Might Ask of your Novel at a Pitching Session!

From the 24th to the 26th of July 2015, I was lucky enough to attend SA Writers Centre’s ‘Pitch Conference’ – an intensive three days of pitch workshops and 5 minute pitch sessions with publishers. It was the first time the conference was held in Adelaide and was made possible by the tireless work of SA Writers Centre staff including Director, Sarah Tooth and program director, Bethany Clark and funding bodies such as Arts SA.

pitch conference logo

Attendance was stellar and included the likes of Tim Tomlinson, President of New York Writers Workshop where the conference first began, and Australian publishers such as Kate Blake (Penguin), Sophie Hamley (Hachette), Meredith Curnow (Random House), Roberta Ivers (Simon and Schuster), Angus Fontaine (Pan Macmillan).

It was an extremely successful event with 27 out of 42 participants receiving requests from publishers and a total of 44 manuscripts being requested (some by multiple publishers). It was an invaluable opportunity for Adelaide writers to pitch their manuscripts directly to interstate publishers.

Here are some of the questions the publishers asked:

  1. Does your book have a central question / theme?
  2. What are some comparison titles?
  3. What are some comparison titles from Australian writers?
  4. Where did you set the book? Where would you imagine it being set? Why?
  5. Can you speak to broader concerns relating to the current political landscape of your novel?
  6. Main attraction of your book? Why would a reader gravitate to it?
  7. Is there a love interest? What’s the pacing of the romance?
  8. What’s the pacing of the story like? Backstory – journey – main conflict – resolution? How long does it take to get to the journey?
  9. Where did you get your inspiration from?
  10. What was your writing process in coming up with this story?
  11. Plot-driven or character driven? Why?
  12. Is there more than one main character? If so, how did you separate the voices?
  13. In what POV / tense is your novel written?
  14. What is the turning point of the novel?
  15. What are you willing to do to assist with selling your book?
  16. Why would our book be interesting to women? (Women make up 70% of market in terms of readers).
  17. Have you been published before? If not, what have you done to improve your writing?

Extra tips (nuggets of gold)

  • Answer the publisher’s questions as succinctly as possible. Don’t give convoluted answers or a scene-by-scene run-down of what happens in the novel.
  • Use buzzwords and punchy adjectives. Write your pitch in an active voice.
  • Use language that connects with the mood/tone of book’s world but make sure it’s not in the book’s prose.

METAMORPHISIS

A: I’m trapped.

B: In a steel cage

C: In a crushing, tumbling liquid mass

A: In a cocoon of silk

A, B, C: We’re trapped.

A: I sleep.

B: A slippery kind of waning sleep

C: A fading kind of panicked sleep

A: A long deep and restful slumber

A,B,C: We sleep.

A: I wait.

B: For the flashing lights and sirens

C: For the red and white caps to come

A: For the transformation to be complete

A,B,C: We wait.

A: I’m freed.

B: From my steel cage

C: From my crushing, tumbling liquid mass

A: From my cocoon of silk

A,B,C: We’re freed.

A: I’m changed.

B: By blood anew

C: By oxygen anew

A: By wings anew

A,B,C: We’re changed.

A: I live again.

B: Lucky

C: Thankful

A: Transformed

A,B,C: We live again.

A: I am…

B: A victim of a car crash

C: A survivor of the sea

A: A butterfly reborn

A,B,C: We are metamorphosis.

 

 

 

Poem featured in Mint Magazine, Issue 7, 2013

Mint Magazine cover