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KATE FORSYTH'S Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015

Friday, January 08, 2016

Every year I try and take part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, in an attempt to read more books written by Australian female authors.

I only managed ten in total this year, much to my disappointment. It may have been more – I’ve had such a busy year that I was not as good as usual in writing down all I’ve read! Also, a lot of my reading was taken up in research books for the new novel I am working on, which is set in Victorian England. 

I will do better in 2016!

1. The Light Between the Oceans - M.L. Stedman

A compelling and beautifully written novel set in a lighthouse in Australia, and telling the story of a lost child, and how one small choice can break apart many lives.  

2. Daughters of the Storm - Kim Wilkins

A historical fantasy set in a world much like the Dark Ages, with an absolutely brilliant kick-ass heroine and lots of brilliantly drawn characters to love and hate.

3. The Soldier's Wife - Pamela Hart

A moving historical novel set in Sydney during the First World War, The Soldier's Wife tells the story of the women left at home, who must struggle on as best they an.  

4. The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

A gripping and utterly original psychological thriller set in a Sydney suburb much like my own ... unputdownable!

5. The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton 

This is one of my favourite books by one of my favourite writers - entwining the story of a Victorian fairy tale teller, a secret garden, and a murder ... so much to love! 

6. The Tide Watchers – Lisa Chaplin

An intriguing historical novel set during the Napoleonic wars and inspired by the fascinating true-life story of a a British female spy.

7. The Spring Bride – Anne Gracie

Anne Gracie's Regency romance novels are an utter delight! Funny, warm-hearted, and adventurous - I buy them as soon as they are released! 

8. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty 

Another intriguing novel that looks at the dark secrets that can lurk under the surface of even the shiniest of lives, this was so good I gave it to my husband to read!

9. Small Acts Of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger  - Fiona Wright

A collection of interconnected essays inspired by the author's struggle with anorexia nervosa, written with crystalline prose.    

10. The Lake House – Kate Morton

I pre-ordered this book and read it as soon as it landed on my doorstep. Another compelling historica/contemporary tale of secrets and mysteries. Loved it!

WRITING ADVICE from Pamela Hart, author of The Soldier's Wife

Monday, June 08, 2015

Pamela Hart, author of THE SOLDIER'S WIFE, offers her best every writing tips on the blog today:

My best writing tips

Here are my top six tips for people who want to be published writers.

Before that, I just want to say that there’s nothing wrong with writing without trying to be published.  I get a bit annoyed that it’s considered perfectly okay to be an amateur photographer, or amateur painter, or to play in a garage band, but somehow anyone who writes is supposed to want to be published.  ‘Amateur’ means ‘for the love of it’ and there’s nothing wrong with writing for love – or fun!  I’m also a big supporter of fan fiction.  Don’t be made to feel ‘less’ because you like writing fanfic.  

  1. 1. Write the book.

As Pat Walsh says, ‘The number one reason your book won’t be published is that you haven’t written it.’

I hear a lot of ‘I’d love to write a book if only I had the time.’

Sorry, but if you’ve got enough time in your week to read a book, you’ve got enough time to write one.  If you’ve got enough time to watch a couple of tv shows, you’ve got enough time to write a book.  If you have a train or bus journey every day where you can sit down, you’ve got enough time to write a book.  You just have to want to write it badly enough.

  1. 2. Write it again.

That is, do drafts.  Lots and lots of drafts.  Edit and re-edit.  First draft is never good enough. 

  1. 3. Get help

Find some like-minded people – people who actually think about writing in a concrete way; often people who write themselves – and make them your beta readers.  You can do this in a formal course, like the ones Kate and I both teach at the Australian Writers’ Centre, or you can do it informally, if you’re lucky enough to know some peole like this.

And after you’ve asked for their opinions, listen to them.

  1. 4. Make the changes

If an agent or editor suggests changes to your book, that’s a Good Thing.  It means they think your work is good enough to spend some of their time on it.  Agents and editors are really good at identifying problems.  You may not like the solutions they come up with for those problems, but you can’t ignore them.  If they see a problem there, it really is there.  

  1. 5. Ignore what everyone says

Yes, you have to pay attention when a competent professional tells you you have a problem with your manuscript.  But if a friend who’s just a casual reader suggests something you know isn’t right for the story, ignore them.

Of course, if everyone suggests the same thing, you might want to start listening… see tip #4!

And finally, 

  1. 6. Have fun!

Writing isn’t always easy, but I’m always reminded of HG Wells’ quote: Life isn’t meant to be easy, but take courage, child, it can be delightful.

Writing should be delightful sometimes! 

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