New-Year Highs

While last year was taken up with the production and launch of our anthology Every Second Tuesday, each of us was also busy working on our individual projects. We all rounded off the year on personal highs.

Jennifer’s short story ‘The First Day’ was awarded a Highly Commended in the Port Stephens Literature Awards 2020.

Margaret’s story ‘Pastry Fever’ appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Door Is A Jar literary magazine (Issue 16). Door Is A Jar is a US publication of poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, drama and artwork.

Helen was excited to have her poem ‘In deep blue’ selected for Democratic Poetic | Poetry Matters Issue 40 December 2020, a gathering of the journal’s finest poems from 2006 to 2019.

The successful launch of Barry’s first book Broken Rules and Other Stories in September was followed by the publication of Every Second Tuesday, and Barry is already planning and writing his next book.

The creative spirit surges. Watch this space throughout 2021 for more Elwood Writers news.

Now, Voyager

It’s one week since Every Second Tuesday was launched by Lee Kofman in a wonderful online event hosted by Readings. If you booked a ticket to the launch, you will have received a link to the recording. That link is still live, but will expire shortly. But you can save the video forever by clicking on the link and choosing the download options in the viewing window. Then you can watch it this year, next year, or whenever suits.

Now the book is sailing steadily on its journey. One of the best ways to support Elwood Writers is to read our work. For book lovers in Australia, we’d encourage getting hold of the anthology from Readings. Overseas readers might want to go here.

Or if you’d like to support a favourite bookstore but they don’t have the book in stock, why not ask if they can order it in for you. The ISBN is 978-0-6450041-0-6 and the publishing imprint is Rightword Enterprises.

The e-version is available from all the usual places.

If you have any issues or questions, do get in touch in the comments and replies box below this post.

Happy reading!

Anthology stories

The podcast of last week’s Cover to Cover is available by clicking through to the Vision Australia Radio website. You can also find the podcast on Spotify.

The program features readings by Alison Davies and producer Tim McQueen of stories by Elwood Writers from our new book Every Second Tuesday, including Jennifer’s ‘Teleférico’, a selection of Helen’s haiku inspired by Japan and Australia, Margaret’s ‘The White Woman’, and Barry’s ‘Tongue’.

Happy listening!

Turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out

This evening, Tim McQueen presents a special edition of Cover to Cover showcasing stories and poems from our brand new anthology Every Second Tuesday: 8:00PM Vision Australia Radio 1179 AM and VA Radio Digital, repeated Sunday 1:30PM.

Listen on the radio if you’re in Australia, or online from anywhere in the world. The times listed are Australian Eastern Standard, so make sure you do any necessary adjustments. Online listening links can be found by clicking here.

A podcast of the program will become available after this week’s broadcast. VAR podcasts are now available on Spotify.

Thank you to Alison Davies and Tim McQueen for reading our work on air. We can’t wait to hear the readings.

Learn more about the work of Vision Australia Radio at their website, here.

To find out how to get hold of a copy of Every Second Tuesday, go here.

About ‘Down to the Sea’, by Margaret McCaffrey

In 2018, Tim McQueen from Vision Australia Radio commissioned Elwood Writers to create a series of pieces in celebration of the centenary of Armistice Day. They were to be read on his program Cover to Cover.

I scratched my head for a story.

‘I’ve got nothing to write,’ I told my partner. ‘I don’t know anything about World War I.’ 

‘Yes, you do,’ Tom replied. ‘Your two grandfathers were in that war, and your great uncle.’

To my surprise, I was reminded that my maternal grandfather, Dr John O’Brien, had been an army surgeon at Australia’s ill-fated campaign in Gallipoli. To me as a child his post-war life looked so prosperous and comfortable, I couldn’t imagine him ever having been at what became a godforsaken strip of Turkish beach.

With much research and a stretch of the imagination, I wrote ‘Down to the Sea’ as a mixture of fiction and memoir. It formed part of the group’s quadrilogy for the radio program, and is now included in our eclectic anthology, Every Second Tuesday.

The new Elwood Writers anthology to be launched 9 December 2020

If you haven’t already registered for a free, online ticket to the launch of Every Second Tuesday by Elwood Writers, you can do so at the following link:

https://www.readings.com.au/event/the-elwood-writers-in-conversation

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.

Anthology Announcement

We interrupt this series of anthology teasers to let you know that Every Second Tuesday is now available to buy from Readings, our hosts for the launch on 9 December. You can get your copy of the book here. Quick, before they sell out!

If you happen to be in Melbourne, you could visit the St Kilda branch of Readings to pick up a copy. But give them a call first to reserve one.

If ebooks are your preferred way to get your literary hit, then head to your favourite ebook retailer for a copy.

We can now return to our regular programming.

Thanks for reading.

Elwood Writers

About ‘Duets’, by Jennifer Bryce

My short story ‘Duets’ features in Every Second Tuesday, the new anthology of work by Elwood Writers.

What inspires one to write a short story? My motivation to write ‘Duets’ was different from usual, when I’ve recalled an episode from my childhood, or been moved by a particular experience, or tried to put myself in the place of someone else. In the case of ‘Duets’, I saw that the Henry Handel Richardson competition was to be judged by my writing hero, Helen Garner, and I wanted her to read my work.

Henry Handel Richardson/ Ethel Florence Richardson

The competition required that the short story have ‘some link to Henry Handel Richardson and/or her work’. I had recently read her first novel, Maurice Guest, much of which is set in the Leipzig Conservatorium – a world that interested me because I was writing a novel set in a musical environment. The story that emerged was: ‘a glimpse into the life of Madeleine from Henry Handel Richardson’s novel Maurice Guest ‘. Madeleine is a sensible and well-organised student, never frivolous, never passionately in love and I imagined how that young woman might have become a school principal’s wife, where she would have an intellectual more than a passionate compatibility with her husband. My own maternal grandmother (only about ten years younger than Henry Handel Richardson) had made a career out of being a school principal’s wife and I drew on my childhood memories as I developed my own older Madeleine.

My grandparents lived in a flat in the grounds of the school where Grandad was principal and I used my memories of this as a setting for ‘Duets’: ‘the scuffling of feet as the boys were summoned to bed’ [page 122], the dingy sitting room in the flat, ‘furnished in deep-red brocade and dark wood, the darkness broken only by cream lace antimacassars on the back of the upholstered chairs’ [page 115].

The school boarding houses, where my grandfather was principal, taken in the 1930s

Helen Garner did get to read my story and I was awarded an honourable mention. The judge’s comment was: ‘A shocking and very touching and strong story about a child’s suffering and despair, and the breath-taking dishonesty of adults.’

Armistice Day

In 2018, Elwood Writers was commissioned by Vision Australia Radio’s Tim McQueen to create the material for a special edition of the literary program Cover to Cover. The program was to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day, and was broadcast then repeated on 9 and 11 November.

Today marks 102 years since the signing of the armistice ending the First World War. For another chance to hear our Armistice Day Centenary stories, an audio file of the commemorative edition of Cover to Cover can be accessed here.

The stories are also collected in a dedicated section of our new anthology Every Second Tuesday, available soon from selected bookstores including Readings. Every Second Tuesday will be launched on 9 December by local author Lee Kofman at an online Q&A and celebration through Readings. Details are on the Readings events page, here. Tickets are free, and booking is necessary to receive the Zoom link on the day of the launch. We’d love to have you there, and hope you can join us.

So whether listening or reading is your preference, please enjoy our Armistice Day stories, each a reminder of a time when guns across the world fell silent and peace prevailed.