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!

Open Mic for Charity

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Many people (and prairie dogs) believe wearing a hat significantly improves their singing 🙂

Along with good friends at Write Now, and with guest host and award winning YA novelist, Keith Gray, I’ll be hosting another Open Mic at Cafe Korb this December.

Proceeds to The Gruft for their winter charity action: sleeping bags and warm food for the homeless. More details about the Guft.

The Open Mic charity event is a great opportunity for creative people to meet up, to perform on stage (if they wish) or simply enjoy the performances, and to contribute to a wonderful and greatly needed cause.

When: Friday 8th December, 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Where: Cafe Korb in Vienna’s 1st District

Cost: Donation to the Gruft*

Full details and to book here

Hope to see you there

* venue hire will be deducted from proceeds

 

 

 

October Open Mic

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Time to take to the stage…again!

An entertaining “open mic” evening is coming up this October in Vienna. Along with friends at Write Now, I’ll be hosting the evening. We’re all looking forward to the performances. It’s a unique opportunity for people to take the stage before a friendly and creative audience.

If you’d like to read out a poem, a short story, a novel excerpt, to sing a song, or just sit back and enjoy the performances, then you’re warmly welcome.

When: Monday 23rd October 2017, 7.00pm

Where: Cafe Korb, 1010 Vienna

Price: A small contribution (between 5-10 Euro) will be welcome to cover the venue hire.

You’ll find all the details on Meet Up here 

I look forward to meeting you on the night!

 

 

 

Open Mic in Vienna

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Time to take the stage!

An entertaining “open mic” evening is coming up this September in Vienna. Along with friends at Write Now, I’ll be hosting the evening. We’re all looking forward to the performances. It’s a unique opportunity for people to take the stage before a friendly and creative audience.

Guest Irish poet, Neil McCarthy will also be there on the night, inspiring everyone with some of his wonderful poetry.

If you’d like to read out a poem, a short story, a novel excerpt, to sing a song, or just sit back and enjoy the performances, then you’re warmly welcome.

When: Thursday 21st September 2017, 6.45pm

Where: Cafe Korb, 1010 Vienna

Price: A small contribution (between 5-10 Euro) will be welcome to cover the venue hire.

You’ll find all the details on Meet Up here 

I look forward to meeting you on the night!

 

 

 

Creative Writing News!

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We love creative writing!

The autumn 2017 creative writing program is up! Check out the website for details. The new short story program is now 5 weeks (instead of 4) and includes three group sessions at The Praxis Wien. I’m also running a 4-week creative writing program at The Vienna Workshop Gallery. A creative writing program for young people (11 to 16 years) will also start later this year. And the popular Creative Cafe sessions will also return at Praxis Wien 5 in October.

Creative Writing “Schnuppertag”

If you think you might be interested in creative writing, but would like to have dabble in it before committing, why not come to the Creative Writing Schnuppertag:

Location:                     The Vienna Workshop Gallery

Laudongasse 9, 1080, Vienna

When:                           Friday 1st September 2017

Time:                         19:00 – 21:00 (16 + years)

Price:                             Free!

10.08.2017: The creative writing Schnuppertag is now full. 

I hope to see you at a creative writing workshop this autumn.

 

An exciting new creative writing program!

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View from the lookout in our woods: a perfect place to write!

If you’re like me, you’ll likely agree that creative writing is sunshine for the imagination. Still, there’s a lot to be said for sunshine and fresh air. Over the summer I’ll be out amongst it all. I hope you too get the chance.

At the end of July, the new creative writing program will be up on this website.  There will be creative writing sessions for young people, for people who would like to improve their English, and for those who would love to write a brilliant short story.

If you’d like to be kept posted, drop me a line (visit the contact page), and I’ll send you a newsletter at the end of July.

In the meantime, I wish you a lovely summer!

Here’s a lazy summer tune I just made up and played on my guitar for fun 🙂

 

 

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!

May 2017 short story boot camp

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With the May 2017 short story boot camp kicking off in Vienna tomorrow, one particular short story competition presents itself as a potential target market for participants’ boot camp stories. Perhaps you might be interested in the Berlin Writing Prize too. With the competition titled “Home is Elsewhere” many European expats and immigrants with an English language background will be interested. If you’re interested, here are the details:

The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize

More news on the short story boot camp to follow soon!

 

How to write a group story

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Community Teamwork Together Group Team Motivation

At the January short story boot camp kick-off session in Vienna, a group of motivated writers developed a humorous team story, starting out with nothing more than their chosen title (Creative Sneezing*) and a few literary constraints. Through group discussion, characters came to life, their situation became clear, a setting drew into focus. In no time each person was able to write their own take of the story opening.

Although there were many minds behind the inception of the one story, the creative process was essentially the same as that undertaken by an individual:

A story might be explored within such boundaries or constraints as mentioned above, perhaps starting with a character or a feeling or a situation—with whatever inspired the writing. The writer fields questions to the imagination (Who is this story about?) and writes a response (Charlie, whose every sneezes brings a revelation!).

This exploration may progress through writing the story itself—allowing ideas to coalesce along the way, or through taking notes at the outset until the story feels pinned down. I suggest the second method can save considerable time. This is not to advocate knowing everything  about  the story at the beginning (a strongly plotted story); rather, to establish the basis from which a memorable story might evolve.

More on the January boot camp and the team of talented writers to follow!

If you missed out on the January short story boot camp but would like to participate next time, please check out the short story boot camp page for more details. Next boot camp in Vienna: May 2017. I’d love to see you there!

* Many thanks to Petra for coming up with the story title as part of her creative writing exercises in preparation for the boot camp

The Very Personal Christmas Story

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Purkersdorf in Winter

This Christmas I’ll be creative writing at the Purkersdorf Christmas Market. The creative writing event is titled Die Ganz Persönliche Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Very Personal Christmas Story).

People can pop in, give me one or two personal details (a name, perhaps an interest, the name of a pet, etc.) and I will intuitively write on the spot their very personal Christmas story. Such stories make for a unique Christmas present. The stories might be funny or wise or silly or sad—I won’t know until each story (written in the company of each guest) is finished.

 How to write a spontaneous Christmas story:

  • Be mindful of each guest and their wishes
  • Put pen to page and write in their company
  • Change nothing
  • Make it a brilliant story, naturally!

Simple enough, right?

If you’d like your own Christmas story or one as a present for someone special, then here’s where you can find me on the 10th and 11th of December:

Pop Up Galerie (scroll down)

 There is not charge for a story . People are welcome to leave a donation. Proceeds will go to a charity or worthy community cause.

The Purkersdorf Christmas Market has some wonderful stalls and a little ice skating rink, so come along and make an afternoon of it.

 I look forward to seeing you there!