Ice Cream Social

Who likes ice cream? We do! Who loves an ice-cream social? We certainly do! So imagine our delight when we heard that American Writers Review is throwing one on Saturday October 30. And to add to the joy, Helen and Barry will be among contributors reading a selection of their pieces from the latest issue of AWR, Turmoil and Recovery. There’ll also be readings from Art in the Time of COVID-19. Both books are published by San Fedele Press.

Our Ice Cream Social at Wilkes University was a delight. While we can’t hand out the ice cream this year, we can share some of the wonderful work of our latest two books with you virtually.

San Fedele Press

Now, because this event is being hosted from the Jersey Shore in the US, we have to adjust the time to our location here in Australia. And it turns out that we’ll be enjoying ice-cream over an early breakfast on the Sunday morning. Even die-hard ice-cream fans Jennifer and Barry would struggle to eat any at that hour. It’ll more likely be a strong-coffee-and-Danish-pastry social for us.

San Fedele Press say that this event is of particular interest to ‘those who are interested in writing for our publication, new writers, and seasoned writers’. If you’d like to learn more about the publications and the event, go here. You’ll find the Zoom link at the top of the page you land on.

We might see you there. With ice cream, Danish, or otherwise!

‘How to Maintain a Thriving Writers Group’, by Barry Lee Thompson

Barry has written the October guest post on Lee Kofman’s blog The Writing Life, over on Lee’s website.

‘How to Maintain a Thriving Writers Group’ offers practical tips to anyone thinking of starting a group, or for those who want to inject momentum into an existing group, or shore up their solidarity, or what have you. Maybe you’re curious about how we work. Or you might want to compare the group to your own experiences. There’s plenty in the post to think about. While you’re there, it’s worth checking out the rest of Lee’s website. Have a wander, linger a while.

Thanks to Barry for writing about Elwood Writers. And thanks to Lee for welcoming us to her blog.

Happy reading and writing to everyone!

A question of websites: Barry answers

Thanks for inviting me to answer your website questions, Elwood Writers. Here are my responses.


What was your original intention when setting up your website?

It was a while ago, but if I cast my mind back, one of the main things was having some kind of online presence, in line with advice I was hearing at literary events. I spent ages debating the pros and cons, on paper and with Elwood Writers. The details are swirling in the mists of time, but I concluded that it’d be a good idea to start a blog. I began with wild and ambitious ideas for its direction. It would be different to anything that had ever gone before (!), an experimental fictional adventure. I would write a brand new post every day. Or more! These were early ramblings, and useful to have had because now I needn’t wander there ever again. It’s been invaluable throughout to discuss aspects of building an online presence with the group. In a sense, we all came to the brave new online literary world together, so it’s been very much a shared experience.

Continue reading “A question of websites: Barry answers”

A question of websites

Elwood Writers is in a slightly introspective mood. Maybe it’s the change of season, or the gloomy weather, or the world news. Whatever the cause, our self-reflection has led us to wonder what makes the group tick. In particular, what makes us tick online. We have maintained a group website, the one you’re reading now, for quite some time. But three of our four members also have their own individual websites, and have for a number of years. Their sites contain active and fascinating blogs, each with a rich history, and each vastly different from the others. You can access Barry’s here, Jennifer’s here, and Margaret’s here.

So we’re throwing out a few questions to Barry, Jennifer, and Margaret:

  • What was your original intention when setting up your website? What are your reasons for maintaining a blog?
  • What audience are you trying to reach?
  • What do you hope to communicate through your website?

If we go alphabetically, then maybe Barry could start the ball rolling? It’s up to you how you approach this. You could choose just one question, or address them all if you want. There might be a bit of overlap between the questions, anyway. You could also say ‘no comment’ or ‘I’m too busy’, and we wouldn’t be offended. Though our curiosity would continue to nag.

We look forward to seeing the responses over the coming weeks. In the meantime, we’ll go back to gazing through the window, watching the rain, and wondering what it’s all about.

Elwood Writers

Glittering Ceremony

Broken Rules and Other Stories (Transit Lounge, September 2020)

Here at Elwood Writers we enjoy a good old celebration and relish any chance to get dressed up to the nines, so we’re excited to have the opportunity to remotely attend the Queensland Literary Awards ceremony, which will be live-streamed from State Library of Queensland at 6–7:30pm on Thursday 9 September.

We’re really looking forward to cheering on the finalists in all the categories. The evening will be particularly thrilling for us because Barry’s book Broken Rules is on the shortlist for the University of Southern Queensland Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection.

If you’d like to be a part of this year’s awards ceremony, click here and scroll down the page to register for the live stream. It only takes a few minutes. And you won’t have to dress up on the night, unless you want to. You can wear whatever you want. As far as we know.

Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists. Every one a winner.

The Queensland Literary Awards are supported by the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland and State Library of Queensland. The Queensland Literary Awards also receive funding from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The commitment of sponsors is critical: Griffith University, The University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland and The Courier-Mail. Philanthropic support through the Queensland Library Foundation is gratefully received from Jenny Summerson and Susan Hocking and Ian Mackie, and their family, through the Hocking Mackie Trust at APS Foundation.

State Library of Queensland

2021 Queensland Literary Awards

Yesterday we had news that Barry is a finalist in this year’s Queensland Literary Awards. His book Broken Rules and Other Stories (Transit Lounge) is one of five titles shortlisted for the University of Southern Queensland Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection.

The Queensland Literary Awards celebrate outstanding writers from Queensland and around Australia, across published and unpublished categories. The awards also offer fellowships and development awards for Queensland writers, and emerging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers, Australia-wide.

State Library of Queensland

The winners’ announcements will be livestreamed on State Library’s website and Facebook Live at 6pm on Thursday 9 September 2021. You can register for the event here. We’ll be booking our ‘seats’ right away.

Well done, Barry. We’re thrilled for you, and hope you’re celebrating wildly, in whatever way you choose. This may well be a time to shun restraint and fully enjoy the moment! Safely, of course.

Congratulations and very best wishes to Barry and to all of this year’s finalists,

from Elwood Writers

American Writers Review 2021

American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery

Barry just sent us this picture of him holding his newly arrived contributor copy of American Writers Review. Nice hat, Barry. He says he’s really been enjoying delving in to the book since receiving it a few days ago. It’s the ideal companion, he says, for curling up with on chilly winter nights in old Melbourne town.

The theme of this year’s edition of the journal is ‘turmoil and recovery’, and the anthology features work from an array of international writers and artists, including stories and poetry from Barry and fellow Elwood Writer Helen.

To find out how you could also be posing in a beautiful garden setting with your very own copy of this wonderful book, head over to the journal’s website at the link here.

Happy posing and reading!

American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery

As of this writing, the pandemic continues, killing record numbers of people. Moreover, countries that had enjoyed democratic governments are facing authoritarian attacks. Divisions run through the fabric of our homes, our families, our nations. At the same moment, there are wellsprings of hope, love, and connection.

‘Our 2021 Issue’, from American Writers Review website

A brand new edition of American Writers Review has just been released by San Fedele Press, and once again we’re excited to see the journal featuring original work from our own Elwood Writers Helen McDonald and Barry Lee Thompson.

American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery

Helen has three poems in the book: ‘Aftermath’, ‘Covid Lockdown (an Haibun)’, and ‘Restoration’.

From Barry, there are three short stories: ‘Glassy’, ‘Afterdark’, and ‘First Day Of Summer’.

For more information, including how to get hold of a copy of American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery, follow the links found here.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this latest issue. We can’t wait to get our hands on it.

Happy reading and writing, as always.

Elwood Writers

About ‘Just Martin’, by Barry Lee Thompson

The woman brought him a bar of chocolate. He didn’t usually eat chocolate, but she’d loosened the wrapper for him and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He placed an oblong in his mouth and allowed it to melt into claggy sweetness upon his tongue. He ate the entire bar, piece by piece, and when he’d finished he folded the wrapper carefully and put it in his anorak pocket and fastened the flap.

From ‘Just Martin’

I wrote the short story ‘Just Martin’ some years ago, and have tried to place it in a variety of journals and competitions. I’m thrilled that it has found a home in the pages of Every Second Tuesday. I was discussing the story’s journey with another member of Elwood Writers recently. They suggested, and I’m paraphrasing, that perhaps for some readers a difficult aspect might be that they are not sure by the end if Martin is or will be okay. The story represents only a couple of hours at most in the young boy’s life; even if he is okay for now, there might be many such episodes ahead. Perhaps to some extent we are left troubled, wondering whether he has the resources to survive well in a difficult world. I feel that the moment where he places the folded chocolate-bar wrapper into his anorak pocket is important; that it tells us something significant about him and about the way he is in the world. I’d like to think he’s going to be just fine.

‘Broken Rules’ is out!

Barry Lee Thompson’s short story collection, Broken Rules is already proving to be a stunning success. It is to be launched, virtually, by Readings bookstore next Monday 14th September at 6.30pm Eastern Australian Time. Don’t miss out on the chance to hear Barry ‘in conversation’. The event is free, but you need to book: https://www.readings.com.au/event/barry-lee-thompson-in-conversation

Already there has been a range of very complimentary reviews, including in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. The following review was written by Amanda Rayner of Readings Books. We hope to see you at the Launch next Monday.

The short-story collection from a single author is something I have grown to appreciate, especially in the last ten years or so. Australian writers have definitely made their mark in this area, ranging from those works with a strong sense of concept (Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals), those linked by a sense of mood (This Taste for Silence by Amanda O’Callaghan) and those that are simply an impressive, varied collection (Fabulous Lives by Bindy Pritchard). Broken Rules and Other Stories by Barry Lee Thompson (who was born in Liverpool but now lives in Melbourne, so we’re claiming him!) touches on all these approaches but is its own unique collection and brought unexpected tears to my eyes in the closing pages.

Broken Rules and Other Stories is described as seventeen interlinked stories. I found coming to each story individually and not worrying too much about how it should ‘fit’ resulted in me slowly seeing the possible links between them. By the time I read the final and longest story, ‘Angel’, I had developed my own perspective on how these stories worked together, which bought a sense of closure for me as a reader. The stories cover two main themes. The first focuses on stories from gay male perspectives: fantasies as a young boy, first approaches, random encounters with strangers, sex work, and the continuing search for true intimacy. Scattered between these stories is a group of tales that centre on family dynamics, with a particular focus on the relationship between mother and son.

Regardless of connections the individual reader may make between the stories, there is not one weak link. All pieces capture your attention quickly and none outstay their welcome. It is Thompson’s ability to create a vivid sense of place and tone that makes this an exciting (although sometimes unsettling) reading experience. At this point I am still wondering if I can forgive the author for the terrifying pictures in my head after reading the opening story!