January 2018 Update

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Scoop Magazine Issue 14

Back from Australia, fully recharged (I’m solar powered) and bravely facing down the remains of a bleak Vienna winter, I thought I’d share a few updates:

Story Publication

My latest short story, Shadow Town has just been released in Scoop Magazine (issue 14) in the UK. A copy should arrive in the mail any day now. Here’s the link to Scoop Magazine.

Australian stories

Two books on my recent holiday reading list:

  • The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky
  • Nevermoor by debut Australian novelist Jessica Townsend

Both wonderful middle-grade novels.

Discovering Treasure

In a second-hand bookshop in Victor Harbor, South Australia, I discovered a hardcover of an Australian classic, The Nimbin by Jenny Wagner. Now out of print, an entire Australian generation still remembers it. At every book shop I asked after The Nimbin (it was hard to find), people browsing near the counter looked over and said, “Oh, I remember that book. I loved it!”

Why was The Nimbin so loved? What makes it so special? And why the heck is it out of print?! I’ll reread The Nimbin this February and unlock its secrets from a writer’s perspective.

 “How to Write a Short Story” Workshop

I ran this fun workshop last week at The Vienna Workshop Gallery. A vibrant mix of participants, many with an international background. Together we read and discussed, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian as found in The New Yorker December 11, 2017. You can read it here.

We then went on to look at what makes a good story, and applied this understanding to collectively lay the canvas for a story with a title drawn by our fun word lottery:

Pride Tears Lavender Left

Here’s our story logline:

A narcissistic inventor of make-up colour names must face the harsh reality he is not his deceased friend’s only best friend.

The story opens at the funeral. Lavender (the narcissist) is the protagonist. Every participant in the group went on to write their own story openings.

At the end of the workshop, each person then set out to write their own stories. I wish them all every success. At least one or two participants may go on to do the 6-Week Short Story Program.

YA Novel Writing Workshop with Keith Gray

Good friends at Write Now offered this wonderful writing workshop run by award-winning YA novelist, Keith Gray. I came away with some fantastic insights and the inspiration to finally start writing my novel. Keith has another workshop coming up in February. Check out the Write Now website for more details.

Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Austria Meet Up

One coming up! If you’re interested in writing or illustrating for children or young adults, perhaps you’d like to attend. Where to register: Meet Up

My own writing projects for 2018

  • A middle-grade novel. Writing has begun (Many thanks, Keith!)
  • A few short stories, including a couple to connect with the themes sought by The School Magazine. More about what they need here: The School Magazine writers guidelines
  • Another writing project…top secret at this stage
  • A few more story publications are on the horizon!

Open Mic

The next open mic at Cafe Korb in Vienna is only a few weeks away (Thurs, Feb 15). If you’d like to attend, here’s where to register.

Creative Writing on the Go Workshops

They’re up on the website. The creative writing and short story programs are starting in the next few weeks. As always, I am very excited to be running these. I hope to see you there!

2018 Creative Writing Program now open for registrations!

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The January to April 2018 Creative Writing Program is now open for registrations! Check out the website or download the program (pdf) here: CWOTG_Program_Q1_2018

Check out page 2 of the program for some January creative writing challenges and your chance to win a place at any one of the workshops.

I look forward to meeting you at a workshop very soon!

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Writing on the rocks! Second Valley, South Australia, January 2018

Paul Malone

Painters have it easy

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I made the above assertion today at the closing session of the short story boot camp in Vienna. Being in the company of some very motivated writers (and not painters), no one took fierce objection to the observation or supportive argument:

A painter can immediately see their entire composition on their canvas. The writer’s canvas is the imagination, which can only be gleaned piecewise through their text.

Little wonder that many writers find it challenging to see the bigger picture, to observe their entire composition objectively. In the short story boot camp though, writers developed their compositions—from a few sketches (first drafts), to their final “masterpiece”. They neither got lost in the words nor forgot their grand design.

As the boot camp writing coach I had the pleasure of listening to the final stories. The reading session lasted over 2 hours and yet it felt like a few fleeting minutes. Every writer put in not only a great deal of time and effort, but also put their heart into their story.  Everyone, I am certain, gained confidence with their writing.

The closing boot camp session closely follows the last creative writing session (last weekend) for spring. The creative writing session was just plain fun! We wrote a group song (and sang it), explored poetry, speculative fiction, and some flash fiction. All of this in the space of a couple of hours! I think everyone was positively “buzzing” with creative energy at the end.

Over the summer break I’ll be preparing new material for creative writing and short story programs for the fall. The information should be up around the end of July. If you’re in Vienna then, I hope to see you there.

Until then, enjoy your summer!

Publication news

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Isn’t it time you tried writing in the bathtub?

When not coaching at the short story boot camp or running creative writing sessions in Vienna, Austria, I’m writing.  My most recent short story “Night of the Sand People” was accepted for publication this week by The School Magazine–Australia’s leading children’s literary magazine.  Another one of my stories “How to Catch a Rainbow” (also accepted by The School Magazine) is likely to come out in print in the next few months.

As much I love seeing my stories in print, it’s an equal thrill to see writers who have participated in the short story boot camp get their stories published. These are such exciting times for the participating writers and coach alike!

If you’re interested in participating in the next short story boot camp in Vienna, Austria, keep an eye on this page for dates (winter 2017). I hope to see you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2017 Short Story Boot Camp Ends

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Last weekend the four-week short story boot camp in Vienna came to an end. As the coach, I had the pleasure of sitting back and listening to some marvelous stories. Everyone put in a big effort over a month to get their stories out. During the kick-off session, people got to know one another; I discussed the writing program, and we dived in—moving from ideas into stories.

In the first two weeks of the boot camp, each participant wrote two separate short story drafts. They “pitched” their stories and received feedback from their buddies (on a rotating system). In the third week they took the plunge—choosing the stronger story draft to revise. As the coach, I appraised their revision (along with their buddies). And in the final week they narrowed their revision and edited.

Along with the final readings on Sunday, we discussed getting published—every writer’s dream. Although it is early days yet, I am confident I will soon post news of their publication success.

Enough from the coach though…What did some of the participants have to say about the boot camp? Find out here

The importance of title

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A title,

like the moon,

casts its subtle light,

gently swaying the story’s tide.

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Without title is writing in the dark.

With wrong title is writing in the fog.

With right title is writing in the clear moonlight.


So I told a couple of participants in the January short story in Vienna. What do you think?

Would  F. Scott Fitzgerald have written a different story with a title such as “Good Ole Gatsby”?

How about “My Travel Tales” by Jack Kerouac? Or “Black Horse” by Anna Sewell?

Did these authors write their stories and arrive at the title later?  I wonder.

How to write at a thermal spa

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a salty croc–the one guest you don’t want to meet at a thermal spa!

Writing at the Spa

 With pleasure I wrote down at the spa,

between dips in the pool, veiled in steam,

under a glistening sky—

a hedonist’s dream.

A jaunt in the sauna, too hot for me,

on a bright orange tube down a thundering slide,

in the FKK* whirlpool for those who are free,

on deckchair and towel,

with notebook and pen,

I wrote my story,

from beginning to end.

The story I wrote at the spa. The poem (attempt) I wrote this morning on the train. It is true: in that bathing paradise, while people wallowed and dreamed, I wrote an entire story.

You might conclude thermal spas are the perfect place to write. Or how about at a lovely desk beside a crackling fireplace? Neither are any good when faced with a blank page and a starved imagination.

My story first came alive in the train, on a bus, standing at a platform, riding an escalator, in another story draft that came to nothing…except that which is most important—food for the imagination. When I sat at the spa all I had to do was put pen to page. The rest took care of itself.

Don’t wait for the perfect time and place to write. If you do, you’ll be waiting forever.

By the way, 2017 is almost upon us. How will your writing year unfold?

If you’re looking for a big start, check out my short story boot camp in Vienna. I’m a tough coach—you won’t get to loaf about the pool, but you just might get to write your dream story!

FKK: Freikörperkultur or nudism

Sharing your writing

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“Hey, wait up! Don’t you want to hear my poem?”

People write for any number of good reasons—from cornering strangers in an elevator to demand they listen to a poem (this happened to me) to plumbing the depths of the human condition like a pebble sinking into a very deep lake. What might lie at the bottom?

A creative writing session is a journey of the imagination—the curious mind ranging afar, its way illuminated by the heart. “So this is what is means to be human!” the pen says in a myriad of delightful ways as it scribes the page. Little wonder people want to share such discoveries.

Isn’t there something you’d like to share with the world?

One way of sharing your writing with the world is by publishing it. If you write a short story or a novel, publishing is a good way of sharing your writing with others. Another way is to read to an audience. Poets often do this. They gather to read their poems. Some stand tall and have a booming voice; others murmur as they hold their trembling page. Such readings can be a great deal of fun.

I went to a whisky and poetry session the other night. An Irish poet, Neil McCarthy hosted the event at The Laden in Vienna’s 8th district. People tasted whisky, read their poetry, played their songs, and had a rollicking time. The evening also had an intimate feel: people had bled their hearts onto the page and were offering it like wine (or whisky) to a room full of strangers. This takes courage and trust.

If you’ve never shared your writing with the world but have often dreamt of doing so, its never too late. If you’re feeling particularly inspired (and brave) you can check out my writing boot camps.

And if you have a poem to share with the world, why not get yourself along to your nearest poetry evening. If you’re in Vienna, you can find out what Neil is up to here: https://www.facebook.com/neil.f.mccarthy?fref=nf