Tag Archives: Cairns

Counting down

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Flyer01CTWF LitDin

Hi all,

This is a very exciting time in the lead up to the festival. I mean look who is coming to dinner –  Geraldine Doogue – wow!

To get us all into the swing of celebrating the written word Cairns Tropical Writers Festival Committee invite you all to our fundraiser Writing, Reading and Music with Seaman Dan and Catherine Titasey – happening Saturday 23rd August – yes this Saturday. Visit http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com to get your tickets. You won’t get afternoon tea unless you have booked, paid and bring your ticket with you.

Seaman Dan launches his latest book Steady Steady – he may sing asong or two and Catherine Titasey will read from her book My Island Homicide.

To find out more about the fundraiser, Geraldine Doogue and her book – The Climb, Iain McCalman, Helene Young, Andrew Matthews and all the other amazing festival events and personalities visit http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com

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Seaman Dan

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Hi everybody,

I’ve been a busy bee again – not all by myself – but as part of the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival committee. We didn’t get the grant money we applied for  – but the show must go on. So we have been fundraising and our first fundraiser “Tea For Two” went really well. Authors Josephine Moon – “The Tea Chest”  and Elizabeth Martin  – “Tea House in the Lime Trees” delighted the audience with insights into their lives, writing habits, research and some of the serendipities along the way.

So the news hot off the press on the next fundraiser. An afternoon tea celebrating Writing, Reading and Music in the tropical setting of Rydges Tradewinds Hotel in Cairns.

Seaman Dan an iconic Torres Strait Islander brings his singing, story telling talents and the release of his latest book – “Steady Steady”

He is joined for the afternoon by Catherine Titasey author of “My Island Homicide” – now there’s an intriguing title!

Bookings are essential for afternoon tea – please remember to bring your ticket with you – wwew.trybooking.com/88721

For more details on the full festival programme visit http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com

Tea for Two

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Tea for two

 

Hi all,

It’s been a while but I’ve been busy trying to put the program together for the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – check out http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com

The program will be launched at the wonderful ” Tea for Two” event planned for Friday 27th June in the Botanical Gardens, Cairns.

I said to a writing colleague recently that putting the program together was like doing a Rubic’s cube whilst drunk. Right when you think you have everything in place you notice one tiny little problem, you make the adjustment, but … that leads onto another tiny little adjustment and so on which brings a cascading effect of hugely demoralizing proportions.

I’ve taken a rest from fiddling for the moment. It will be ready for 27th June, it will be on the festival website and you will be able to start planning your festival experience. Which workshops, which chats, which book signings – so hard to choose. Seeing the program for the first time will be like opening a gorgeous box of chocolates. The difference is with a writers festival program it’s none fattening so you can gorge to your hearts’ content filling your head with knowledge and not gaining a single kilo!

I invite you all to “Tea for Two”, hosted by Tropical Writers Inc.  featuring the effervescent Elizabeth Martin and the intriguing talent of Josephine Moon.

Collins Booksellers of Smithfield will be managing the book sales.

It’s all coming together

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Hi all,

 

The first Cairns Tropical Writers Festival brainstorming session in March brought an absolute flood of ideas, not just on the day but they continued to flow in via e-mail.

I’ve just got back from the second brainstorming meeting and it’s as if some sort of magical process is happening – a theme is developing the ideas are taking shape the programme seems to be almost putting itself together.

Thanks must go to those regional writers who travelled from as far afield as Townsville, Port Douglas, Mossman and even the outer reaches of Gordonvale.

It’s time for me to get some sheets of butchers paper so I can plot out the rough draft of how the two days – 13th and 14th September will look. Whatever happens it will be exciting.

Keep a close watch on http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com for developments and the big news on our star presenters.

Cairns Tropical Writers Festival 2014

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 Diane and Tropical Writers Festival banner

Hi all,

I’ve been very quiet but very busy.  I spent the latter part of last year redrafting my children’s novel in preparation for online presentation to a publisher.  Online submissions are great; speedy, saves trees, saves on postage but you still go through the horrors of waiting to find out if that publisher is interested in your work. The guidelines said if the publisher didn’t get back to me inside 3 months then I had not been successful. Well … the deadline approaches – I’m feeling less than chirpy! However I have picked myself up dusted myself down and looked into other possiblities.  I can do something on Friday 31st January so I will.

Facing rejection after rejection is soul destroying so in order that I don’t completely loose faith in myself and my abilities, the other thing that has been absorbing my time recently is THE FESTIVAL! Yes Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is set to leap onto your calendar on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September 2014.

My position on the committee is to represent the regional writers of far north Queensland in much the same way as I do on Regional Arts and Development Committee.

So read on and find out how you can become involved with the 2014 Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – an initiative of Tropical Writers Inc.

Your festival needs you and your ideas.

Saturday 1st March 2014 – 10.00am to midday.

I hope you are well rested and ready to launch into the festival year. 
CTWF committee has been busy behind the scenes for some months now but we’re at the point where we need your input.

The popular Public Arena is an integral part of Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – it is a fabulous opportunity for local and regional writers to showcase their talent.

The Festival committee has already received a number of innovative ideas for presentation in the arena but we want to offer yet another stimulating, entertaining and action packed programme. It’s been done before – three times – 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Can it be done again? Absolutely!

The venue for the fourth biennial Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is Rydges Tradewinds Esplanade – the same venue as 2012 and takes place over two days: Saturday 13th September and Sunday 14th September, with the Literary Dinner on Saturday evening.

Please join the Festival  committee on Saturday 1st March 2014 – 10.00am to midday for free morning tea served at 10.30am; poolside at Rydges Tradewinds Esplanade.

Take the opportunity to have a say in your festival. Network with other regional writers, stimulate your coffee buds and your brain cells for a fun morning of brainstorming. 

  • If you are unable to attend this meeting please take the time to complete the short survey. Just click on this link which will take you to Survey Monkey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWLD9NZ
  • We would really appreciate your feedback at each stage of the planning to ensure the program reflects Regional Writers current needs.  Your details will remain confidential.  We only ask that you include them so we can follow up on any suggestions or comments you make.

There will be a follow up meeting on Saturday 5th April 10.00am – midday for those of you who are willing to become more actively involved. Please put the date in your diary but I will send out a reminder.

  • For catering purposes it is very important to have numbers. Please RSVP to me –  Diane Finlay at findpublishing@hotmail.com I’d hate you to miss out on cake.
  • By spreading the word you will support the success of the 2014 Cairns Tropical Writers Festival and ensure that people in your network have the opportunity to be involved in an inspiring event.

Coffee with a Leprechaun.

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Hi all,

It’s been rather a long time between posts, but the taxes and other horrible “stuff of life” things are behind me. This will be my last Virtual Coffee interview because I’m moving on to Virtual Business lunches. Not all writers write within the creative realm – in Cairns alone there are many writers who utilise the written word in graphic design, web content, promotional leaflets, etc. Heck putting together a restaurant menu requires well chosen words to tempt the palate. So, in thinking of making the transition from Coffee to Lunch I had to put my grey matter to work. Which local wordsmith would help me make the move?

I’m delighted to bring to you my Virtual Coffee interview with Cairns’ own leprechaun – Denise Carter. I know leprechauns are typically naughty little men who run around Ireland causing havoc, but Denise Carter is Irish and has been known to cause havoc! So I use a little artistic licence?

Doesn’t she look gorgeous in this photograph?

In keeping with the theme of this blog I asked Denise to meet me at the bottom of the rainbow. The invite stated – Next time you see a rainbow in Freshwater Valley make your way out. So, the opportunity presented and we found ourselves standing beside a pot of gold, I brought take-away coffees with the lids firmly fixed because rainbow rides can be very bumpy.

We dug a well in the centre of the gold coins – big enough for two bodies; climbed in, shouted the magic word (only Denise and I knew that), and set off. We rose slowly above the cane fields, getting a little damp from the soft rain but the view was stunning. I had to make sure I didn’t run out of rainbow before the end of the interview.  

I asked Denise what she’s working on.

“Currently, with my journalism hat on, I’m working on stories for Hit (our entertainment section) and the arts pages, and for Cairns Eye magazine. My most recent work is on Tim Ellis, an artist who worked in the film industry in the UK for twenty years, before hightailing it to far north Queensland to Port Douglas. In the past year he has turned his passion to painting and has his first exhibition at Cairns Regional Gallery which opens on 14th September 2013. I’m also writing a feature on ex-Cairns fashion student Mia Zielinski, who works cross media, using film and theatre as a platform for her fashion designs. It’s great working on stories on the arts end of the spectrum as I get to meet such interesting and inspirational people all the time.”

“I am happily procrastinating writing two book manuscripts; one, a YA novel about a contemporary Nancy Drew – type investigating a murder and the second one is about a girl, who waits, a lot.”

I laughed because Denise has such a delightful way of delivering her “funnies”. She continued without pausing for breath.

“I am also procrastinating my second semester of English honours at James Cook University  – I have deferred the semester – but I am researching for my thesis, which basically means I’m just reading about writing, because it’s going to be something about reading and how it leads to writing, or authors and how they write about other authors – I think I am driving my supervisor to drink – and I might join him.”

I then asked Denise what recent successes she had enjoyed.

She smiles that enigmatic smile and went on to say,

“A couple of years ago I was nominated as a finalist for the Romance Writer’s media award for a feature I wrote on romance author Barbara Hannay. It was a big surprise and a thrill to get the nomination. I didn’t win but had such a fun night in Melbourne at the awards with the romance writers, who really are such nice people. It was also great to be there at Helene Young’s table when she took out the Ruby Award along with Barbara Hannay. Then…” Denise pauses to gather her thoughts on yet more successes.

“In 2010 I was a finalist in the Queensland Media awards for my very cheerful feature on global climate change called, Mankind’s Last Chance. It was a very important feature to me because I felt very passionate about the issue, and had the chance to interview scientists from all over the world, and learn the truth – which wasn’t very pleasant, and yes, a tad inconvenient. But the Tableland will do well, so we can always climb a mountain.”

Denise went on to describe her best moments as a writer.

“I’ve had great moments as a writer if you count everything as being a writer from songwriting to journalism and beyond. ” (Which I do).  “When I was eighteen, I came third in a national songwriting competition in Ireland, which was a great thrill; mixing with the people I knew only from the radio and TV and being named as a composer. Not bad.”  She squirms a little as she recalls a memory from school. “In school, it was a bit embarrassing to have a teacher read out my composition in class but I do remember writing it and how it had actually scared me while I was writing, so it kind of stuck in my head. It stuck in other people’s heads too because a fellow student used the essay in her leaving exam.” Well they do say it’s the highest form of flattery!

“It was great writing my first theatre reviews for a magazine in Dublin, and even more wonderful when I was finally paid, and attended opening nights of the best shows in town and mix – or at least watch, the famous. It’s always great when you finish any article and you know it’s finished because there’s not a word you want to change and there’s a certain satisfaction in that. Of course, if you read it the next day, you will want to change it but thankfully it’s gone to print and it’s too late.” Denise laughs, “You have to learn to let your babies go.”

By this time we were high in the sky almost at the top of the rainbow – looking out towards the Coral Sea and Green Island on the horizon. The rain slowed but thankfully hung around long enough to prevent a rough landing. Denise had even more best moments to tell me about.

“It was great to find my first job in journalism, and to spend ages on my first news story and then to see it in print. My flatmate at the time had it framed – I think I since used the frame for something more worthwhile; a photo of my mam and dad.”

We move onto worst moments. Denise’s cheerful demeanour is not dented too much – she takes it in her stride.

“The worst moments as a journalist come when the person you are writing about doesn’t like how they have been portrayed. It certainly doesn’t happen often from the arts and feature writing perspective as much as it would happen in news, but it still happens. When it does it’s pretty deflating because you really are trying to be honest and give the best representation possible. Naturally, you’re not trying to hurt someone’s feelings. Mostly it happens because the person has told you things they didn’t mean to but only realise it when they see it in print, and then they can take their frustrations on you.  I think sometimes people forget you’re a journalist and they’re being interviewed. Then, sometimes, even though it’s no fault of the journalist an error can creep in through a mismatched headline or during the subbing process, but you can’t take it too much to heart or be too vain about it.” She shrugs her shoulders and says, “You have to swallow your pride and get on with the job.”

Having had such an interesting writing career I wondered what advice Denise would give to an aspiring writer.

“A writer is something you are already, rather than something you do for a living. I was always a writer in the sense that even when I was very young, I kept a journal. On holidays when my friends were reading books I would go and buy a note book so I could write. It has always been an essential part of me. Over time, I have written poems, songs, essays, reviews, news, features, a column, a blog, academic essays and now a thesis (hopefully) and maybe one day I will finish a book manuscript. Writing is a continual learning process, and it can be very fulfilling. I guess the advice there is to take heed of old adages like keep a journal and one day the journal may keep you.

Writing for work and to a deadline can take the fun out of the creative process but you learn to live with deadlines and it makes your writing better, faster and less self conscious. It can even, weirdly, help with creativity. My features editor told me my best features have been written in two hours bashed up against a deadline.”

Maybe the take-away from that is set deadlines for yourself – even if no one else is setting them for you. It brings some discipline.

After finding ourselves somewhere over the rainbow – on the descent, Denise says,

“The flip-side is if you work at writing, the last thing you want to do is to write for fun. It helps me if I change the way I write – from a computer at work to a notepad and pen at night. Writing is personal as much as public, so you choose what you want it to be and to what degree. There are some things I would never give up to the public eye as they are too personal. And nobody can actually stop you writing.”

Finally as the rainbow faded from the sky, Denise told me why she writes.

“I write for a newspaper, so it’s my job, and it’s a privilege because sometimes it doesn’t feel like real work at all. Other times it most certainly does and is very tiring. But it’s better by a long chalk than any other work I’ve done. When I was a PA and bored most of the time, I wrote to amuse myself, little poems here and there, and for self-expression. It comes naturally and it also helps to get all of the madness out of my head. So, I guess I write for all of these reasons; for work, therapy, pleasure, and to try and put my world into some kind of context.”

The rainbow disappeared and so did the gold – I watched one of Cairns’ most delightful and engaging personalities disappear down the road and felt very privileged to have spent time with Denise Carter.

 

 

 

Remember I said I was getting back in the driving seat – well here’s what happened!

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camp crazy coverTrudie Trewin

Okay we are off. I’m very firmly in the driving seat – absolutely no room for growth when you put your butt into the driving seat of a Lamborghini Gallardo – a very sporty little number. Which I don’t own – I’m hiring. I’m on my way to pick up Trudie Trewin. Won’t she get a surprise? We are travelling in style.  Our trip will take us along the coast from Cairns to Port Douglas and to the Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple resort and spa. Try saying that after a few drinks!

As we cruise along the coast road, Coral Sea glittering in the sunlight, towards Port Douglas I ask Trudie what she’s working on at present.

“At the moment I have about three picture book texts in varying stages of completeness and a young adult novel which is still brewing in my mind. I need to clear some points with the Federal Police before I get too much further into the plotting for that one. Now that sounds intriguing doesn’t it?  And how boring am I going to be, because I don’t really like to talk too much about what I’m working on at the moment – I’ve had too many people comment, ‘Are you STILL working on that one!’ So now I like to just surprise them with a completed book!”

Anyone not in the book business has absolutely no idea how long the writing, editing, publishing process can be. There are exceptions but most suffer this frustration. Trudie has just interrupted with, “Are we there yet?” How childish. We’re not and she still doesn’t know exactly what I have in store for her.

Trudie goes on to tell me some of her recent successes. “I have a short novel with Walker Books coming out mid year – one of their ‘Lightning Strikes’ series. It involves the same characters as my first Lightning Strike book, Camp Croc. This one is called Camp Crazy and is another humorous mis-adventure of boys in the bush.  Also coming out early next year is a picture book with Windy Hollow Books. It’s called Calpepper’s Place and is about a camel looking for a more exciting place to live than the desert. The illustration roughs that I’ve seen have me very excited to see the finished product – some of the expressions on Calpepper’s face are so funny!”

I am constantly amazed at the talent of illustrators to bring a story to life and how often the illustrator sees something in the story that the author hasn’t ever thought of. I know Trudie received a surprise like that with her book, I’ve lost my Kisses.

We pull into the car park, Trudie and I endeavour to extricate ourselves from the low seats. She’s infinitely more graceful; swinging her legs sideways using the door and seat back as support. I, on the other hand, adopt the fall sideways onto the ground method. I’ll let your imaginations fill in that picture. Giggling we check into the spa. We are having the works. Total body massage, sauna, facial, manicure, pedicure; finishing with an invigorating swim in the resort pool before booking into our rooms. We’re staying overnight because I have a lot of champagne to drink and I’m not driving back until tomorrow! During all of this pampering we will be fed delicious titbits of smoked salmon, oysters, prawns; washed down of course with the icy cold champagne. The staff will then bring strong coffee for me and cleansing green tea for Trudie.

As we relax under the skilled hands of our respective masseuse Trudie tells me about her best moments so far as a writer? “

“Best moment is a tie between getting my first picture book acceptance for I’ve Lost My Kisses, with Scholastic Press, and the day the package containing the author copies arrived. I carried a book around with me everywhere that day, popped it in front of me while I ate, read it on the toilet, shoved it in everybody’s face, and made my family listen to me read it until I fell asleep with it on my pillow!”

I’m aching for the day I can do just that.

Now we are quite relaxed I feel brave enough to ask Trudie about her worst moment. She sighs, gives me her cheeky grin and spills the beans. It also involves her first book.

“Firstly was the excellent news that Scholastic in the US were going to publish I’ve lost my Kisses, then the even better news that they were using it as their lead book for the Spring catalogue and printing 30,000 copies (usual print run for a non-US pic book is about 8000). When the author copies arrived, I grabbed one of the books and read through – only to discover that the resolution line “I’m filling up with kisses,” gasped Matilda. “Just exactly when I need them.” was missing. I checked my proofs – the line was included in the proofs I signed off on…. so it MUST be in the books, right? I reached for another copy… same thing. I was still in denial – it wasn’t until I was reading the third copy that the realisation slowly dawned on me that of course if the line was missing in one book, it would be missing in all thirty thousand books. Bad day in the Trewin house that day. Scholastic US apologised profusely and sent me a box of Hershey’s Kisses.  I shouldn’t complain as it still sold reasonably well in the States, but I can’t help thinking it would have done so much better if it hadn’t had the printing mistake in it!”

I don’t know about you but I felt my heart sink as Trudie told me that. She’d done everything right and yet…

My manicure is progressing nicely; Trudie is being pedicured as she imparts advice for aspiring writers.

“Read widely, in your genre, and in others. Persevere. Don’t listen to your family’s praise of your work (remember, your mother used to stick your squiggles of crayon and blobs of paint on the fridge and declare them to be masterpieces!)  People who love you have unreliable opinions of your work! Get critiques from manuscript assessors, enter competitions.”

With some difficulty we continue the conversation swathed in warm towels. We’re about to have facials so just before I drop off I ask Trudie why she writes.

“Unlike some writers, I don’t have a need or compunction to write. I’ve heard other writers say they can’t not write. And I’ve always felt like a bit of an impostor because I don’t have that same drive! Don’t get me wrong, I like writing, even love writing, but I don’t need to write.  In fact I’ve been very successful at not writing for months at a time when life gets too busy! In the end, I guess I really enjoy playing with an ordinary sentence or paragraph, and turning it into something that makes me smile, laugh or cry.”

Can someone remind me why I said we’d finish off with an invigorating swim? I’m far too relaxed and Trudie is fighting to keep her eyes open. I think we’ll finish off with a restorative snooze instead.

News hot off the press: Camp Crazy appears in the shops tomorrow; published by Walker Books as part of their Lightening Strikes series. Wooohoooo!