Competitions, News

Upcoming awards, residencies and other awesome things for writers

It’s tough out there for a writer.

So here are a few things coming up that you should probably be aware of.

Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program (QWC):

  • Upto 10 writers will get to work with editors on their manuscripts with 3 places reserved for writers residing in Queensland.
  • The program will run from 4 – 7 November 2016 in Brisbane, Queensland.
  • Only unpublished and emerging fiction and non-fiction Australian resident writers can apply.
  • Application deadline is 16 May 2016.
  • Entries must be between 55,000 and 110,000 words and the following are NOT ELIGIBLE: sci-fi, fantasy, young adult, self-help, cookbooks, business, academic, educational, poetry, plays, short stories.
  • Applications must include: first 50 pages of the MS + one page synopsis + entry fee of $50 AUD.
  • Upon shortlisting, the full MS must be submitted within 72 hours.
  • Application guidelines and forms and terms and conditions are here.

Allen & Unwin/Vogel Awards 2016:

  • Open to Australian fiction and non-fiction, memoir, Australian biography and history writers that are under 35 years old on 31 May 2016.
  • The deadline is 31 May 2016.
  • Submissions must include full MS between 30,000 and 100,000 words in English.
  • Entry fee is $25 AUD.
  • Allen & Unwin will publish the winning entry and have exclusive worldwide publishing rights.
  • The MS cannot be under submission elsewhere and no more than 10% of it should have been published previously.
  • The winner gets $20,000 AUD as an advance against royalties.
  • Application information and guidelines are here.

Richell Prize 2016:

  • Only unpublished Australian resident writers can enter.
  • The deadline is 1 June 2016.
  • The winner gets $10,000 AUD + mentoring for a year from an editor.
  • Submission must include the first three chapters of the MS + one page synopsis on direction of work and how the author will benefit from the prize.
  • Hachette Australia gets first option on publishing the winner and any other entries.

Small Wonder Short Story Festival Writer in Residence, UK:

  • Deadline to apply is 6 May 2016.
  • Writer in residence gets to attend festival in East Sussex at Vanessa Bell’s home for free from 28 September to 2 October 2016.
  • £250 stipend + local travel, meals, per diems and hospitality are included/paid for.
  • Travel to the UK, visas, insurance and accommodation not paid for/included.
  • The writer must produce a short work after the festival related to the setting and will retain copyright but the British Council will be able to use it for promotional material, websites and social media.
  • The writer will get mentoring from a UK literary professional after the festival.
  • Application information is here.

Contribute to Chicken Soup for the Soul books:

  • Writers can submit stories for the collections by theme before each deadline.
  • The next deadline is 30 April 2016.
  • If published, writers will receive $200 USD per piece + 10 free copies of the book one month after publication.
  • Writers, if accepted, will get a response within 60 days of submission and rejection notices are not sent.
  • Submission details can be found here.

Good luck and if you know of any upcoming prizes and opportunities, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Books, Writing

HIM update for April 29

Quick explainer: I am writing my second book HIM and have staggered my word count goals this time. If you sign up to the mailing list or become a blog subscriber you get to read the first draft. If you don’t you just get this update on whether I hit my goals or not each week. Subscribers scroll down for your link, mailing list, you will get an email in your inbox.

Word count this week: 726
Total word count so far: 12,064
Total word count goal at this point: 20,000 for novella, 60,000 for novel

How long did it take me? 2 hours

What have I learnt?

  1. That this is very much an exploratory draft in a lot of ways still. At this point I am not sure I have sorted out Sophie’s voice. So I am just going to get all the words down on paper and see if I can get to the end of the story.
  2. But that getting to the end of the story bit? It’s hard – yet again I am worried that I have written myself into a corner with the storyline. Here’s a tip: don’t make a character that’s kind of clueless, helpless and a tad bit lost your main protagonist.
  3. People I write with are kind of amazed by the fact that I write with pen on paper and keep scribbling away. And I am  like, yes, yes, I do scribble and most of it is rubbish you realise and I just drop it into this very weird draft and the rest of you lovely readers probably scratch your head and wonder how I could possibly write stuff this bad and I just sort of hope that it will once finished be able to edit it into something worthwhile that perhaps you might be more used to seeing. Maybe. that was just a very long sentence.

What distracted me?

  1. I had cells coming off my eye. Yes. You read that right. A layer of cells was coming off my eye each time I blinked. This was first treated with a routine of different eye drops and lubricants to allow the eyelid to glide over the area and the cells to bed down and fix themselves. It didn’t work so instead I spent about five or six days going to the optometrist every day to have them take out a contact lens and insert another one so that it could act as a barrier between the cells and the eyelid and let the area heal. That worked but I now have to sleep with one eye full of ointment every night for the next six months.

    So yeah eyes. And trying to figure out where this story is going.

As always if you have joined the mailing list, you know where to go and you will have an email as well shortly reminding you.

Blog subscribers/readers please see below for subscriber access only info about where to go to read it.

Please subscribe to access the free stuff collated on this page.

Reader question: How much do I plan when I write?

A couple of my friends are reading my novel draft as I write it. And this then leads to some very interesting questions.

Am I a good novel writer? I don’t know – that’s a question for you to answer once you read what I write. But that isn’t the question I am getting.

The question I am getting is usually along the lines of “Was X planned?”

The general answer is “No.”

I think this question arises from the fact that many people are taught, either in school or university, to plan their essays and papers and to structure them in a certain way. So I get it – it’s a valid question.

Does a novel have a structure? Yes, it does. Generally, structure in a novel = some combination of plot + the way the plot is conveyed. Plot = what mad shenanigans the characters get up to.

Do writers plan their novels and drafts? Some do, yes. Some do so to the extreme of planning and plotting out every detail.

Some do not plan at all. Some are in between where they plan some bits and wing the rest. When I wrote Sedition‘s first draft, I carried pieces of paper around with me to constantly redraft the timelines of when things occurred. Apart from that there was very little planning or plotting.

But with HIM, it’s one character and I am writing from start to finish. I knew where I wanted it to start and I know what I want her to do at the end. I know what she does in very general terms with a couple of minor characters and the sort of entire idea that I want the story to convey.

That may sound like a lot but it is not. Beyond those points, I didn’t plan anything at all, I just started writing what is pretty much termed an exploratory draft. It may work, it may not. It may require very little rewriting or a lot. I won’t be able to tell until I either finish it or get too horribly stuck halfway through. I don’t even know if it is a novel or a novella right now.

But to my friends, something must be working out right because what my character is thinking, feeling, doing, experiencing, to them it all seems precisely calculated.

To me that’s a good thing. There are things that seem to work in each scene so I add them in and I do think about what each scene will be and what will happen but usually this is just before I start writing it and while I write it only. It isn’t planned any more in advance than that – it occurs during the actual sitting down writing process.

And it is encouraging because if it seems cohesive enough to seem extremely planned in advance then well perhaps I am writing well and the story will end up working out after all.

Do ideas come up as I write? Yes. And this is where things become very serendipitous for me. I find that if I fill my brain with all sorts of random facts, ideas and knowledge and then sit down to write stories with just the germ of an idea of where it will start and actually get out of my own way, my brain will take over the writing and will tell the stories. The characters do their thing and I, in quite an odd journalistic way, try to be very true to the telling of the story of what they do as they do it as I see it occurring.


HIM update for April 15

Quick explainer: I am writing my second book HIM and have staggered my word count goals this time. If you sign up to the mailing list or become a blog subscriber you get to read the first draft. If you don’t you just get this update on whether I hit my goals or not each week. Subscribers scroll down for your link, mailing list, you will get an email in your inbox.

Word count goals this week: 5,000
Actual word count this week: 3334
Total word count so far: 11,338
Total word count goal at this point: 60,000


How long did it take me? 3 hours

What have I learnt?

  1. My first choice for certain characteristics for new character Kay was not as good as the choice I ended up making which has actually opened up the plot quite a bit thankfully. I am in debt to my family friend Sudath for the suggestion for certain character traits and also her name (Kay isn’t a name she will end up having throughout the book but she starts with it). Thank you!
  2. If you realised by now that Sophie is rather lonely you are much smarter than me because I didn’t realise that till I was typing everything in. But yes she is and I don’t think she knows it yet.
  3. Trying to convey the bar scene has been a bit tough for me. So while the general dialogue and action will definitely remain the same for now when I get around to editing, I may go back and add more or better description. Maybe I need to go and sit in a lot of bars first.

What distracted me?

  1. I have had a couple of tough weeks, mental health wise.  But I am trying to get over them and keep going.
  2. I also had my phone camera stop working. This has temporarily halted any video work for journalism etc that I wanted to do with it and so it’s driving me a bit nuts while I try to figure out what to do about it. I may end up going and getting a reasonable video camera instead. If you have any suggestions for some good ones, please leave them in the comments and I will adore you forever.


  1. Please keep an eye out for podcasts and interviews and reviews. I will try to get them up.
  2. Some of you have asked me questions about writing HIM or writing in general – you can comment below or email me or tweet at me – and I will be answering them every week for as long as I get them so let me know.

As always if you have joined the mailing list, you know where to go and you will have an email as well shortly reminding you.

Blog subscribers/readers please see below for subscriber access only info about where to go to read it.

Blog subscribers, thank you. Please head here and type in LIMERENCE.


My story on China’s circuit breaker mechanism

I recently got back from two months in Sri Lanka where I worked as a weird mix of intern and reporter and production assistant and researcher for both a TV channel called Newsfirst and a radio channel called Yes FM.

They allowed me to take some of the work I had done for my portfolio when I left. So here is some of the work I did.

This is the story on the circuit breaker mechanism that China trialled in early January. It was part of why the global economy in January was so shaky that oil prices got affected a lot more than they otherwise might have been. I found it an intriguing story to follow just because it was very different to what you might otherwise normally report in terms of stock exchanges and indices and share prices and so on. People across the world are working on various ideas to try to fix the global economy and prevent things collapsing or falling apart.

This was created ahead of time for the dummy of an half an hour business program and I was hoping to keep it but I ended up putting together another story on the oil price debacle instead which by the time the program was about to air was more current. But also intriguing.

I will have my portfolio up and available soon. I am also doing a bit more video journalism work on the fly while in Perth so let me know if you have an interesting story to cover.

Scripted, edited and voiced by me; the footage is courtesy of Reuters and Xinhua via Reuters subscription – my thanks to Newsfirst for allowing me to put it together and use it.

China circuit breaker mechanism
Journalism, Political journalism

The Safe Schools Rally, Perth, Australia

The Stand Up for Safe Schools rally was held on Monday 21 March in the Perth CBD.

“Do you want me to cover it for you?” I asked a few outlets.

“No, you can go but I don’t think we are planning anything on it.”

Now for those who are not plugged into Australian politics here is the brief:

We have a program called Safe Schools which teaches kids and staff not to bully LGBTQIA identifying students which then decreases the amount of mental health issues and youth suicide in the community.

The Federal government is now discussing cutting this program’s funding and scaling it back and making changes to it like making it an opt-in program which means that kids attending the program initiatives is now dependent on the viewpoint of their parents which may or may not coincide with the kids concerned.

The LGBTQIA community now has organised these rallies everywhere in Australia and this was the Perth one which is also interesting because quite recently in Western Australia, laws were discussed in the state parliament to make protesting illegal.

I am trying to do more video journalism work now. It may be a lot about protests, it may not always have a publication or an outlet but I will always upload everything to Youtube and onto this website.

If you have a story idea for me to cover, please let me know. Or ideas for other video series and projects on Youtube.

Equipment: This was filmed on an HTC Desire 826 with the native Camera app and edited on Edius 6.0 (the trial version) and Audacity (fiddling with some background music).

Permissions: Please do share the video if you like it, if you want to on your activist pages/platforms etc but if you want certain bits of it alone, let me know and I can either give you permission to edit it or do it myself and send it to you. If you are a broadcast/online outlet, please contact me first.

The Safe Schools Rally in Perth

HIM update for Feb 26 and Mar 4 – sorry for the delay!

Horrible first draft” is not intended to be self depreciating at all – sometimes people I am writing with or speaking to about the ideas in the book jump in and try to tell me not to say that but the reason I do so is to remind myself that this is the stage where I get the story down in words. It isn’t the stage where the words have to be awesome – they don’t have to be. They just need to tell the story. So it is the horrible first draft now – it will be rewritten and edited and prettified later.

Books, News

My apologies

Hi everyone,

If you have been waiting for the novel updates on HIM, sorry.

I had to go to Sydney for secret MEAA business. Well, Federal Council meetings as an alternate for someone who could not go. And it was madness in terms of time to do things and so I was tired and could not update.

Sorry. I could not write either.

So I will update this Saturday. And this book won’t be done by April I don’t think.

I am on my way to my usual Friday writing group now so I do apologise for the delay etc but I will update soon. Sorry.

And thank you to all those reading along at the moment. 🙂