Monthly newsletter for the Society of Women Writers Victoria Inc
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Write Away

September 2016
The Society of Women Writers VIC
Committee 2016–2017:

President: Blaise van Hecke
Vice-president: Del Nightingale
Treasurer: Del Nightingale
Assistant Treasurer: Pat Arts
Membership Secretary: Shirley Whiteway
Newsletter editor: Blaise van Hecke (acting)
Website coordinators: Pat Arts & Mary Jones
Minutes Secretary: Pat Arts
Postal workshop coordinator: Judith Green
Outreach coordinators: Pat Arts & Jenny Hearn
Journal sub-committee: Paula Wilson, Errol Broome, Blaise van Hecke & Mary Jones
The SWWVic is all about the love of the written word. Through mentorship, we strive for women to attain confidence and skills in their writing.



To our newest member Rhonda Poholke
Details for Upcoming Meetings

Friday 30 September 11am–1.30pm, meeting followed by Margaret Hazzard Award Presentation by judge, Blaise van Hecke. Please bring a plate to share. Committee meeting 1.30pm–3pm. *Please note that Ross House is closed for the Grand Final public holiday, but we will have access to the building.

Friday 28 October 11am–1.30pm (committee meeting 1.30pm–3pm)
Writing workshop to discuss inclusions in the first journal (April 2017). BYO lunch.

Friday 25 November 11am–1.30pm (committee meeting 1.30pm–3pm)
Annual Christmas writing competition and end of year break-up. Please bring a plate to share.

President's Letter
Dear Members,

Since our AGM was last month, I think it relevant to include my report here.
Over the past year, we have been regrouping with our new committee, to see where the Society sits in terms of value to the members and the community at large. There have been a number of projects that the committee have been working on to create a more vibrant and viable position.
Monthly activities for the past year have included
Workshops in Haiku (facilitated by Janet Howie), Short story (facilitated by Mary Jones), Short story (facilitated by Maxine Beneba Clarke), Performance poetry (facilitated by Krystle Herdy), members reading their work, and the Nance Donkin awarded to Roseanne Hawke.
Ross House
Because of proposed building works for the new CBD South train station, under the City Square between 2017–2026, we feel that the heavier traffic and constant noise will not make Ross House as accessible for our members. It will also be a much noisier space. Because of this, we have started to investigate other alternatives.
The Library at the Dock
This is a wonderful new venue with state of the art spaces and equipment and very easy accessibility. Jenny Hearn has been meeting with Louise Cadell at the library to see if there is a synergy between the society and the library. We believe that there is and we plan to have a handful of our monthly meetings at the library in 2017, to see if it is a good fit. Louise is already keen to introduce some of her patrons to our group. This is an invaluable partnership if we plan to grow our membership.
There is also a beautiful performance space that we have access to for a small fee. This is where we hope to hold at least 2 weekend seminars in 2017. To add to that, there is a recording studio available where the society can potentially run podcasting sessions and have readings of members work.
Pat Arts has been looking at ways to reach people who would like to be members but may not have the ability to come to many of our meetings. This has been done by reaching out to groups such as U3A. To entice groups to join the SWW Victoria, we have set out a group or association membership of $85.00. There would still be a $10 fee for each postal workshop participant. Meetings have been set up with various U3A groups to talk about writing and publishing and to suggest joining our society. I have visited several groups already and another date is set for the Pakenham group on 31 August.
This outreach program will give our society exposure and attract members over time.
The newsletter is our main point of communication with members. Because of the rising costs of postage and printing, there have been some changes to the distribution. As with any change, there have been some teething problems but they are being ironed out with each newsletter. Hard copies are going to those who request it but the majority are happy to receive it by email. The newsletter is now working in conjunction with our ever improving website, so we are becoming more accessible and up-to-date for the community.
In the past, the newsletter has been a platform to showcase our members’ work. The newsletter is now seen as a communication tool to tell members about what is happening in the society, and the upcoming journal, to be published twice each year, will be a way to showcase our work. This journal will be of high quality and a beautiful marketing tool for our society.
The next year
This year has seen the need to evaluate the society to ensure that it is relevant in the current literary landscape and to create a group that can be sustained financially. Going forward we must continue to improve our website and online communication with the literary community at large. Social media will go a long way towards achieving that. The Alice Award being awarded to Dr Clare Wright afforded us some exposure because we nominated her and because she spoke about it frequently on social media. We must continue to look for opportunities like this to create word of mouth and attract new members.
Thank you
None of this work is done by little pixies in the night. I would like to make some thank yous to members who make this group what it is. To all of the committee, I would like to thank you for your dedication to the society and what it stands for, but especially to Del Nightingale for guiding me in my role as President.
Thank you to Lynn Smailes for her past work on the website.
Thank you Meryl Tobin, who brings flowers and takes photos and then distributes them to the people in the frame. Meryl also keeps an eye on members who are aging or who are ill and lets us know when a member has died.
Thank you to Maree Silver for stepping up to do the minutes at short notice, Nina McPherson for storing our archive collection at her place, to everyone who brought food to share at meetings.

Here are some of your committee:

Back row: Mary Jones, Pat Arts, Shirley Whiteway, Yvonne Sweeney, Blaise van Hecke, Lynn Murphy.
Front row: Jenny Hearn, Errol Broome (SWWVic patron) and Del Nightingale.

Until next month, keep writing!
Blaise van Hecke
SWWV Journal

We have a great start to a sub-committee with Errol Broome, Paula Wilson, Mary Jones and Blaise van Hecke. At our October meeting, we will work with members to decide the best way to create a vibrant journal. More members are welcome to join this sub-committee – more hands make light work!
Permission to email
Dear members, you will have received an email from Del Nightingale with a copy of our “permission to email” form. We are not legally allowed to send out emails and newsletters without this form. Please return it ASAP.
Speaker report by Meryl Brown Tobin
Lynn Smailes spoke to the group at the last meeting about her experience working on this book.

A Prescribed Life: Royalty, romance and medicine

Tony Atkinson’s autobiography, A Prescribed Life: Royalty, romance and medicine is not your usual autobiography.
As the blurb on the front of the book suggests, it encompasses stories about the British royals from a person who served the Queen, the romance of the subject of the book and his connection with Australia as a ten-pound Pom.
Co-written with Lynn Smailes, the book chronicles the life of Tony Atkinson from when he was born in 1929 to recent times. From the very first line you know you are about to tackle a book about a somewhat bizarre life: ‘As a baby I was put in a wire cage suspended out of a sixth storey window out the back of our house.’
Tony’s early happy life in a family changed when, aged eight, he was sent to an English boarding school where he endured conditions and experiences which today we would call child abuse. Of this time he wrote: ‘We were living in a scenario that William Golding depicted in his 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, with boys forming gangs and cliques.’
A great name-dropper, Tony told stories of classmates, including Tony Armstrong–Jones. He also wrote about suffering tuberculosis, of the deprivations during wartime and post-war England, and of the various part-time and casual jobs he got as a student. So apart from all its other attributes, the book is also a social history.
One of his memorable jobs was as a footman to the Queen and a waiter for others such as Winston Churchill. As the book’s cover photo shows, he even attended the Queen on the day of her Coronation.
As a young man he was a practical joker and some of Tony’s and his friends’ exploits were a concern. One could even have led to serious harm or worse.
Tony’s love of Terry, the young woman who was to become his wife, and of his four daughters is one of the glues that give the book focus. However, life was hard for his
young family as life for a GP and then an anaesthetist involved such long hours that Tony was unable to spend much time with his family.
Apart from telling entertaining stories, Tony also raised serious issues, such as the low payment and dangerously long hours worked by some doctors and issues concerning the behaviour and ethics of some doctors. While he himself showed genuine concern for those in his care, there were others he worked with who did not deserve the title of doctor.
A Prescribed Life by Tony Atkinson with Lynn Smailes is a 280-page entertaining read. Published by Affirm Press, South Melbourne, 2016, it is available for $29.99 from bookstores. 
Excursion to Geelong: Word for Word Festival 18–20 November 2016

The Geelong Writers' Festival, known as the Word for Word festival is geared to the non-fiction writer. Here is a link to the website for more information:
If anyone from the society would like to attend and be part of a group, please contact Jenny Hearn or talk to her at the next meeting. Jenny's email address is: J Hearn <>
Promises in pink by Razmi Wahab  

Eight years ago in September I moved into my house that I had bought mainly because the large front garden was facing north.  The house was fine but it was the garden that persuaded me.  My two grandchildren were with me on that moving day.  My granddaughter, then not quite nine, was very excited when she saw the tree, with the pink flowers.  She was convinced it was a peach tree but I said it could very well be a nectarine.  Late that summer we harvested some very sweet and juicy peaches.  Every spring we would anticipate the promises of the pink blossoms.  One season, after a beautiful display, curled leaves blighted the tree.  My solution was to prune back the branches, taking away the promise of a bountiful harvest.
This spring it was my younger granddaughter who looked at the pink blossoms in awe.  She would pick the blossoms if allowed but I had to explain that would prevent them from fulfilling their promise of delivering us some sweet peaches.  A quick lesson in botany was required.
I also told her that in the last three years I had waited for the blossoms to deliver a good harvest and I would store some in the refrigerator in anticipation of her return from her entrapment in Egypt.  For three years while we worked at trying to free my daughter and her daughter from their enforced stay in Cairo I would put my hope into the peaches I had put aside in the fridge.  For three years the fruits had to be eaten before they became inedible. The same happened this February.  A vengeful man was determined to prevent his daughter from leaving Egypt while he himself was living in Melbourne.  Once again my hope was dashed.  In a naïve way I was so sure my daughter and granddaughter would return to enjoy the peaches but it was not to be.  Then out of the blue a judge in Cairo allowed the entrapped mother and daughter to leave Egypt.  They arrived in Melbourne in March but the peaches had been eaten.

I promised my granddaughter that the blossoms would deliver some peaches for her this summer.  She was impatient to see the flowers turn into fruits but I had to explain that it was about waiting and hoping.  The tree might deliver come summer and we have to wait for that promise to be fulfilled.  At the tender age of seven she seemed to understand.  She waited three years to be free and she could wait a few months to watch the blossoms grow into fruits that would ripen in the summer sunshine.  I say a silent prayer that she will not be disappointed.

Blaise fires up U3A Writers

Sometimes it is a joy to be a U3A tutor, particularly when an important learning need is met expertly by a visiting speaker.
On the 31st of August Blaise van Hecke, President of the Society of Women’s Writers Victoria Inc spoke to the two Wednesday Writers groups – the Life Story writers and the Creative Writers along with some guests. The requested topic was on publishing.
Several students are close to finishing significant writing projects and are keen to find ways to get their work into print. Blaise was well qualified to tell us, being both an author in her own right and also the owner of Busybird Publishing. Her business provides a whole range of services to aspiring authors.
I would describe Blaise as a “super communicator”. She instantly tuned into the U3A members and gave an involving explanation of the necessary steps to develop a work for publication. This was followed by the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional mainstream publishing including realistic expectations of remuneration.
Two hours hardly seemed enough and discussion flowed while we ate a generous afternoon tea provided by the participants. We thanked Blaise van Hecke and also, Pat Arts, our U3A writer colleague who introduced us to Blaise. The U3A office was very supportive providing space and equipment in the main art room which we appreciated given the level of attendance.
Clio Curtis, on behalf of the Creative Writers Group
Competitions and Opportunities
Mona Brand Award for Women Stage and Screen Writers
The State Library of NSW invites nominations for the inaugural Mona Brand Award for Women Stage and Screen Writers. The Mona Brand Award ($30,000) recognises outstanding Australian women writers for the stage and screen. The Award for Emerging Writers ($10,000) is presented to an emerging Australian female writer for her first substantial produced/screened work.

Submit to 'Antithesis'
'Antithesis' is a refereed arts and humanities journal published annually in association with the University of Melbourne. They publish scholarly essays, poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, as well as artwork, illustration, photography, reviews and interviews. The theme for the 2016 issue is 'Liminal'.

The 2016 NWF/Joanne Burns Award for Microlit
This Award is looking for writing which responds imaginatively to the theme of 'landmarks'. Microlit includes any form of short writing such as flash fiction, prose poem, dramatic monologue etc. Max 200 words. Winners receive cash prizes of $300. Entry fee is $7.

The ESU Roly Sussex Short Story Award
This competition aims to reward experimental and thought-provoking work. First prize is $7500. ESU will pay return travel from within Australia and a night's accommodation in Brisbane for the winners. Max 3000 words. Entry fee is $55.

Boroondara Literary Awards 2016
This is an open-themed competition for stories between 1500 and 3000 words. First Place is $1500; Second is $1000; and Third is $500. Judges are Eliza Henry-Jones, Jane Godwin and Emilie Zoey Baker. Winning entries will be published in the Boroondara Literary Awards Anthology 2016.

The Best of Times short story competition #22
For humorous short stories (any theme) up to 2500 words. 
First prize: $300-$500 (depending on number of entries), second prize: $100. 
Closes 30 Nov 2016.
No entry form is required. Include a cover sheet with your name and address, story title and word count, and where you heard 
about the competition. 
Entry fee is $10 per story. Send a cheque or money order made out to Chris Broadribb or use Paypal to pay 
Post your entry to PO Box 55, Blaxcell NSW 2142 (including a large SSAE if you want the story returned and a results sheet, or a small SSAE for results only) or email it to 
Competition website:

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Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000

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Society of Women Writers Victoria Inc · 247 Flinders Lane · Melbourne, Vic 3000 · Australia

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