Now available: American Writers Review 2022

The brand new American Writers Review is out!

This edition of AWR, The End or the Beginning?, features stories from two members of Elwood Writers. Jennifer’s ‘The First Day’ and Barry’s ‘Half Life’ are included among contributions from writers and artists all over the world.

There are a couple of ways to buy the book: either contact San Fedele Press directly by clicking here, or go via Amazon by clicking here.

American Writers Review 2022 | The End or the Beginning? | San Fedele Press (USA)

For more information on American Writers Review and the work of San Fedele Press, visit them at their website, here.

Congratulations to San Fedele Press and to all the contributors to this edition of AWR!

EW

The End or the Beginning? | American Writers Review 2022

We received a preview of the cover of the forthcoming edition of American Writers Review this morning, and are excited to see that both Jennifer and Barry have stories included in this year’s anthology.

American Writers Review 2022 | San Fedele Press

For some years now, San Fedele Press has consistently come up with terrific journals featuring talent from all over the world, with compelling art and writing that addresses important contemporary themes. This year’s anthology is looking like no exception. We can’t wait to read it.

More details soon. In the meantime, for information on San Fedele Press and their publications, drop by their website via the link here.

Happy reading and writing, as always!

EW

Currents: What I’m working on, by Jennifer Bryce

A couple of months ago I finished the manuscript of my second novel, working title Edith Ascending. Finished? I think we all know that a piece of writing is never ‘finished’. Even after my first novel was published and stacked on shelves within its beautiful cover, there were bits I wanted to rewrite – things I could have left out, things I could have added. But with Edith, I’d reached a stage where I needed to do something more than re-reading and tweaking. Fortunately this stage of my writing coincided with a program of Virtual Literary Speed Dating organised by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

Writers are aware that it is extremely hard to get commercially published in Australia if you are not well-known. But I wanted to give it a go. Get a literary agent? There are not many agents in Australia and most of them, it seems, don’t have room to take on new clients. The alternative is to trundle your manuscript around to publishers, hoping that one of them won’t assign your work to the slush pile.

If you are brave, Virtual Literary Speed Dating is another pathway to a publisher’s door. The ASA sets up a three-minute time-slot (on Zoom) where you can ‘sell’ your book to a publisher you’ve selected from a list of about 12 provided by ASA (some of these may not be suitable, for example if they mainly publish YA or children’s picture books). You have to be a member of ASA to participate.

I’d never before done any kind of speed dating, but the similarity with the more usual kind of dating is clear. Is this my kind of match? Do we like each other? Could we get along together?

I found the ASA very supportive. I attended a preliminary online workshop where there was advice about preparing for the three-minute presentation, including a suggested template for structuring your pitch. Spend 1½ minutes outlining what you want to pitch: genre, word count, brief synopsis and a selection of three or four similar books – I tried to select titles from the list of the publisher I was pitching to. Then 30 seconds on why you wrote the book: I was inspired by a particular composer, etc. And finally, 45 seconds about yourself (the most difficult): previous publications, writing courses you’ve taken, other publicity such as radio interviews.

I don’t know how many times I recorded myself practising my pitch, timing the presentation to within a microsecond! I discovered that you can look at the camera on your laptop whilst reading from notes stuck to the side of the screen – better than glancing down the screen to read a document and thus not looking straight at the camera. My colleagues from Elwood Writers were a huge support, both in suggestions for my synopsis and bio, and also in keeping the presentation enthusiastic.

It was all worthwhile. I think I was fortunate that the publisher’s representative who heard my pitch is interested in music and asked to read the whole manuscript, which is the best outcome I could hope for. This doesn’t mean that they will take on the publication, but it’s a step in that direction – a very pleasing result.

Currents

One of the longer pieces I’m currently working on takes a fresh look at the dynamics of ease/unease in online spaces such as those described in ‘Twitch’.

from “The story behind ‘Twitch'” at barryleethompson.com

In Barry’s recent blog about the background to his short story ‘Twitch’, he talks briefly about a story he’s currently writing that shares similar themes. It’d be interesting to hear more about this new story sometime. Come to think of it, it’d be great to hear a little about what other members of Elwood Writers are working on at the moment. But only those who want to share. Writers don’t always like or feel comfortable discussing current work, for a variety of entirely understandable reasons. Oh, hang on just a moment, there’s a call coming in … why, it’s Jennifer Bryce – what a nice surprise! What’s that, Jennifer, you’d love to tell us about a project you’re working on? Well, we’d love to hear about it, so please go right ahead, in your own time. Absolutely no rush.

And now that a forthcoming blog post has been successfully solicited, let’s continue with the current project of spending this wintry Melbourne Saturday afternoon in the warmest way possible, all cosied-up with a good book. The Evenings by Gerard Reve, if anyone’s interested. But first let’s pop the kettle on and open up the cookie tin.

Have a peaceful weekend, everyone.

EW

Hello to 2022

Happy New Year!

We thought we’d kick off the 2022 blogs with some recent activity from Elwood Writers members’ individual websites.

Click here for the latest post from Jennifer. You’ll find Margaret’s latest by clicking here. And for Barry’s, click here. And while she might not have an individual site (yet), click here for a recent EW post on Helen’s poetry.

If you do find time to visit any or all of those websites, why not linger and explore. You won’t be disappointed.

Coming soon, news about a forthcoming Elwood Writers radio project. Stay tuned. In the meantime, happy reading and writing.

EW

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!

‘What I’m Reading’, by Jennifer Bryce in Meanjin

How can we find out what Jennifer Bryce is reading? Maybe we could ask her. Or, we could simply hop over to Meanjin, where she’s been writing about it. You can read all about what Jennifer’s been reading about, here. It’s a really interesting read in itself.

Spike is Meanjin’s blog. The name comes from Meanjin’s original meaning as an Aboriginal word for the spike of land on which central Brisbane sits.

Happy reading, as always!

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

EW Member News

Helen’s haibun ‘January’ is published in Issue 9 of Drifting Sands, May 2021. Drifting Sands is a journal of haibun and tanka prose. For more information about the journal, go here. You can read Helen’s beautiful haibun here.

Jennifer’s story ‘The Angel of Gennevilliers’ was recognised in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize 2020/21, making it on to their very competitive long-list. This annual international contest has become an established event on the literary calendar. There were 1631 entries in the 2020/21 competition.

Very well done to both!

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.’