Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 4)

July Writers Corner – social media

Writers Corner is back! With the June event having been cancelled due to Covid restrictions, July will pick up where we left off with a discussion of social media for writers.

Do you have followers or are you a follower, perhaps a blogger or a vlogger, tweeter, snapper, and or a chatter?  Maybe you just enjoy a surf, virtually speaking from a digitised reality. 

Is it a matter of sitting in front of your keyboard and tapping away, word after word, sentence after sentence – taking the words straight to the world wide web? Is social media the ultimate in self-publishing – do it anytime, anywhere, put it out there? Well, maybe not.

Building content is difficult. Reaching and keeping followers (audience) is not easy. Just because you have built it, they may not come.  But you should come to Writers Corner and tell your social media story.

Come along on Tuesday 6 July at 2pm at the Bunch of Grapes in Pleasant Street, Ballarat, and join the Writers Corner discussion about social media and putting yourself out there in the digital universe.

Writers Corner – tools of the trade

Do you use pen and paper, dictionary and/or thesaurus, laptop and/or desktop? Are you a fan of Word or Scrivener?  Does technology get in the way of the creative moment?

Tools of the Trade: this deceptively rich topic should give us a couple of hours of interesting discussion at our May edition of Writers Corner, a casual, loosely moderated discussion group for BW members and prospective members.

There are research processes and resources – Trove? Your local library? Others? How about eavesdropping on the morning commute or the local coffee shop? Note taking and filing, and the good old Post-it note, all tools of the trade!

Love them or hate them, it is time to talk about them. Humans are renowned tool makers, and we all love a good tool.

Never mind the vagaries of Microsoft Word or the richness of Scrivener.  Who has a favourite dictionary or thesaurus with well-thumbed pages showing the ravages of overuse; checking those subtle nuances to give your writing that special edge?

You might be writing a couple of hundred words for your local community newsletter (hint) or the ultimate Rocky Horror saga of speculative fiction with a romantic twist; perhaps you are in the middle of your dissertation on the finer elements of the decline of neo capitalist empires; keeping track of notes, ideas, context and continuity can benefit from good processes, indexing, filing and search routines.

Image: Pixabay

Come along on 4 May at the Bunch of Grapes, 401 Pleasant St, Ballarat, from 2pm to 4pm and share your ideas for the tools you like, or gripe about the tools you dislike – whether it be pens, pencils, coloured biros, quill and ink, a filing cabinet or a shoe box or simply the art of observation. 

Questions? Contact BW or hit us up at the Facebook event.

Writers Corner – travel writing

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

Do you have a favourite piece of travel writing? Has reading stories of travelling inspired you to pack a bag and take to the road, jet set off to strange lands?  What was it about that writing that inspired you?

The discussion topic for our first Writers Corner, on Tuesday 6 April, is travel writing. This creative form of nonfiction is often based on the writer’s encounter with foreign places.  However, it can also take several other forms, which is something we can explore.

There is a practical side to travel writing: tips and advice, the must see’s and do’s, and how to get from one place to another.

In these restricted times travel writing would seem questionable. Writing about travel may fuel aspirations that cannot be achieved, or alternatively make how-to’s and itinerary planning even more critical.

Travel writing is not simply a product of the industrial revolution or the jet setter age; this popular form of writing has been written since Classical times. A couple of early examples include:

· Rutilius Claudius Namatianus (fl. 5th century)  

De reditu suo (Concerning His Return, c. 416) – the poet describes his voyage along the Mediterranean seacoast from Rome to Gaul.

·  Xuanzang (602–664)

Great Tang Records on the Western Regions (646) – narrative of the Buddhist monk’s journey from China to India.

More recent examples would include:

  • Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck (1962)
  • The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain(1869)
  • Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1939)
  • The Sea to Sardinia by D H Lawrence (1923)
  • On the Road is a 1957 novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States.
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (2015)

Want more travel writing? Check out this event with Tamara Sheward, being hosted by Ballarat Libraries on 16 April!

event details at trybooking

Travel writing takes many different forms, they might more readily be described as follows:

  • Destination pieces
  • Special interest for types of travel, e.g., hiking, cycling, caravanning, backpacking or something more quirky.
  • Holidays and events – family vacation
  • festivals.
  • Personal adventures
  • Travel blogging
  • Itineraries
  • Travel guides
  • Memoir of personal travel.

Questions to help kick off your thoughts:

  • Why do you want to write about travel?
  • Do you have a collection of tips for other travellers going to a particular destination?
  • Is the travel just a backdrop to another adventure or drama, a setting for a romance?
  • Could Murder on the Orient Express be thought of as writing with a travel theme?
  • How to transport your reader to a new place?
  • Travelling during pandemics?
  • Places to publish – do you have suggestions?

Where, when and what to bring

Bunch of Grapes Hotel, 401 Pleasant St, Ballarat, on the first Tuesday in April: that’s the 6th, at 2pm; the bar will be open. Come along for a relaxed, loosely moderated discussion about the topic. It would be useful to bring a pen and paper in case we decide to get creative.

Click for the Facebook event

Email publicity AT with queries

Committee for 2021 announced

Following on from the AGM this month, the committee welcomes Nicole Kelly to the role of Competitions Co-ordinator!

Last year’s co-ordinator, Megan J. Riedl, has moved to a general committee position.

The committee thanks departing general committee members Zoe Werner, David Mellows and Brooke Vogt for their contributions last year.

Otherwise, familiar faces abound!

The 2021 committee is:

Chair:                                                  Rebecca Fletcher      

Treasurer & Membership Officer:     Kirstyn McDermott  

Secretary/Public Officer:                    Laura Wilson             

Publicity & Media Coordinator:          Jason Nahrung

Competitions Coordinator:                 Nicole Kelly

Unassigned Committee Member:      Megan Riedl  

Unassigned Committee Member:      Phil Green

The committee welcomes contributions and suggestions from members. If there is a project you think would be well suited to Ballarat Writers that you’d like to be involved in, please feel free to get in touch at a Members’ Night or through this website.

If you’d like to contribute to the blog, please email the Publicity and Media Coordinator (publicity AT

BW competitions in 2021

After feedback from our members survey and the engagement with Ballarat Flash in the past few years, the Ballarat Writers committee has decided to stop running the monthly Ballarat Flash competition.

It will be replaced with regular writing prompts on our Facebook page and in our Ballarat Writers newsletter.

The Pamela Miller Prize will continue as an annual prize for members, and we are currently working on how we can make it a bigger and better opportunity for the first half of the year, with the winner announced at our June members night.

The biennial prize will continue to alternate between the Southern Cross Short Story Prize (2021) and the Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry Prize (2022).

If you have any comments, questions or ideas, please feel free to contact Megan on or, better still, join our committee at the AGM on 10 February and make a contribution to Ballarat Writers! Contact our Chair, Rebecca, on to find out more

Book review: When the Apricots Bloom, by Gina Wilkinson

Title: When the Apricots Bloom

Author: Gina Wilkinson

Publisher: Hachette Australia, 2020

Gina Wilkinson is a journalist, foreign correspondent and documentary-maker.  In this debut novel we follow three young women living in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The story is based on the writer’s personal experience of life in Baghdad under Saddam.

Two teenagers pledge love and loyalty with a blood oath. Huda is a village girl. Rania is a sheikh’s granddaughter, Iraqi nobility. After sharing a delightful adolescence on the banks of the Tigris, Huda and Rania lose contact.

When Saddam seizes power in Iraq, war, sanctions and tyranny bring the golden years of the Fertile Crescent to a bloody end. Tensions with Washington increase and a nervous Iraq increases security. Embassies withdraw non-essential staff.  Iraqis live in fear of Saddam’s secret police. They can invade your home, threaten your children or even snatch you off the streets.

Twenty-four years after their oath, Huda and Rania are struggling to raise their own teenagers in dangerous circumstances. Rania has contacts in the resistance. When Huda’s brothers are killed in a brutally crushed uprising, Rania disappears, hiding a shameful secret. Huda holds Rania responsible for the boys’ deaths.

When Huda lands a secretarial job at the Australian Embassy it seems too good to be true. Then the secret police order her to spy on Ally Wilson, the young wife of the Australian Deputy Ambassador to Iraq. The brutal intrusion of uniformed men into her home shatters Huda’s world. Her teenaged son, they warn, can be ordered into the regime’s murderous militia which trains boys to be killers.

Ally must hide her American citizenship, a deception that is dangerous. Western women are not safe on the streets. Ally, naïve and reckless, goes out alone. Huda tries to protect her even while she is forced to spy on her.

Read a Q&A with Gina Wilkinson about When the Apricots Bloom

at better reading

The secret police order Rania’s teenaged daughter to the presidential palace where sadistic sexual practices are known to take place. Rania and Huda are now reunited in an uneasy alliance to save their endangered children. They plan to smuggle them out of the country by forcing Ally to use her diplomatic position to help them.

In a world that nurtures suspicion rather than trust the women push the boundaries of safety. Friendships form despite the dangers and torture them in an emotional tug-of-war as the regime forces them to keep secrets from each other. The closer they become, the more they fear each other. Emotions are on-edge as they fight off the urge to trust. Blood oaths are stronger than anything … aren’t they?

Wilkinson weaves a gripping, page-turning plot of intrigue, fear and courage. When the Apricots Bloom takes us into a world that is foreign, exotic and terrifying as its strong characters struggle under the rise of tyranny. It challenges our comfortable existence and our privilege and reminds us that nations we have demonised and gone to war with are populated with people just like us. Knowing that I had more in common with the naïve Ally Wilson than with the brave Iraqi women, I read When the Apricots Bloom with sadness, huge respect and admiration for the courage of those who survive and resist. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It will not disappoint.

Reviewed by: Maureen Riches, January 2021

Ballarat Writers Inc. Book Review Group

Season’s greetings to our members and supporters

By BWI chairperson Rebecca

There’s nothing that I can say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said.
As a hobby group in a year that has focused on ‘essential services’, it
was hard to know what shape we would be in when all of this passed.

I am pleased to say, however, that the Ballarat Writers community is a
tremendously robust group who clearly care deeply about writing, and
each other, even when there’s not a bar involved. It has been lovely to
see so many of you coming along to the monthly Zoom meetings, and many
of you braving Discord for the weekly Write Club meetings (which have
now resumed at Racers). I know that both  critique groups were keen to
meet up again in person as soon as they could as well. With such strong
participation in both the Pamela Miller Prize and Martha Richardson Memorial
Poetry Prize
this year, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of passion
and creativity in the Ballarat Writers crew.

I want to say thank you to every single person who has continued to open
their emails, check Facebook or find some other way of keeping in touch
with us and continuing to be a part of this amazing community. I also
want to thank the committee for their outstanding work in keeping the
wheels turning and being so adaptable in a year that has demanded it.
Your work has not gone unnoticed and is deeply appreciated.

I hope you all have a wonderful end of year break, and we look forward
to seeing you all (hopefully in person!) in 2021.

Merry Christmas!

This is a copy of Rebecca’s address at the end-of-year meeting in November.

MRMPP & Pamela Miller Award winners

Ballarat Writers Inc. is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry Prize and the Pamela Miller Award.

The MRMPP, run every two years, was judged by Terry Jaensch. To read Terry’s comments, click here, and click on the entries to read the poems.

BWI thanks Terry for his insightful comments and all those who entered for their support, and offers congratulations to the winners and those highly commended.

First Prize ($1,000)

Bee Hives at Night‘ by Nathan Curnow, Ballarat East, VIC

Second Prize ($400)

Banksia‘ by Claire Miranda Roberts, Edinburgh

Third Prize ($100)

What Time It Is In Auckland‘ by Colin Montfort, Padbury, WA

Highly Commended

‘Piano Concerto’ by Helen Bradwell, Williamstown, VIC

‘Burden’ by David Terelinck, Biggera Waters, QLD

‘Ibis Roost’ by Pippa Kay, Hunters Hill, NSW

‘The Georges Sand, Eliot and Lewes’ by Anne M Carson, Bonbeach, VIC

‘The Way’ by Damen O’Brien, Wynnum, QLD

‘Your Coma Is A Half Death’ by Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Padbury, WA

The Pamela Miller Prize is for members of BWI, with the winner chosen by the committee and the people’s choice by an online vote. The entries can be read at the Ballarat Flash website.

Judge’s Choice ($100): ‘Double Act’ by Polly Musgrove

People’s Choice (BW pen): ‘Spontaneity’ by Kirily McKellor

Book review — Max by Alex Miller

Title: Max

Author: Alex Miller

Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2020

Castlemaine-based Alex Miller is the winner of multiple national and international awards and a recipient of the Manning Clark Medal for outstanding contribution to Australian cultural life. His latest work, Max, his first non-fiction book, is a tribute to a man he loved and who loved him, a man who was his mentor and inspiration.

Imagine you are a writer. A friend shares with you mysterious fragments of his past. This friend shuns the limelight yet you have always suspected that “beneath his modesty, lurked a secret wish to have the story told”. Then your friend dies.

Max is a Jewish/German socialist intellectual who opposes the rise of the Third Reich. He is deported to Poland in 1933 and emigrates to Australia in 1945. His torture at the hands of the Gestapo, the demise of the German Labour Movement and the destruction of ideals to which he has devoted his life, have broken Max and brought him to the end of hope.

When Max dies, Miller feels he has betrayed his friend by not writing his story. He goes to Berlin in search of Max’s mysterious past as a resistance fighter. Miller believes that the torture Max suffered is the reason his memories are so fragmented. His quest leads him to a darker suspicion. He begins to fear that his friend was not a hero, after all. He gets to know Max better by meeting people who suffered similar experiences. The fragile Jewish community of Breslau, for instance where latent anti-Semitism still hovers.

An interview with Alex Miller about his book, Max

with david speers at abc radio’s the drawing room

Miller compares the rise of the Third Reich with the extreme right in the Western world today. A constant theme is that many Jews couldn’t believe what was happening until it was too late – they didn’t believe it was possible, they just didn’t see it coming. Miller suggests history seems fated to repeat itself and offers the chilling warning: “By the time we are aware of it, it will be too late to bring it down.”

After the war, Max was denied compensation because he was unable to provide documentary evidence. Miller points to this inhumane situation repeating worldwide today: failure to produce paperwork is often an excuse for governments to avoid helping refugees.

Honouring Max’s telling, the writing is divided not into chapters, but “fragments”. It is rich with sensitively portrayed images of place and human interaction …Miller’s reluctant visit to Auschwitz … his walk through the Thuringia forest … the post-war decay still evident in parts of Europe and the loving restoration of buildings that were burned to the ground because they were Jewish.

For me this book was a gift, emphasising as it does the importance of listening to traumatised people, and the value of every life. The story of futile resistance against an evil power will resonate with today’s refugee advocates.

Reviewed by: Maureen Riches, October 2020

Ballarat Writers Inc. Book review group

Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry Prize deadline extended!

The closing date for the Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry Prize, to be judged this year by Terry Jaensch, has been extended by one week.

The competition has an open theme and accepts poetry to 40 lines.

It now closes on 18 October 2020

Entry Fee: $25 first poem

$20 first poem for members of Ballarat Writers

$15 for second or subsequent poems

Prizes: First $1,000; Second $400; Third $100

Finalists and winner will be announced in November 2020.

Please see the competition website for details on how to enter.

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