Posts by Melissa Watts

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Writers Festival in July

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I’m pleased to announce that while I have resigned from my duties at Ballarat Writers this year, I’ve agreed to help out with publicity for the fantastic upcoming Death in July Festival.

Ballarat Writers have a strong reputation for informative and industry specific writers festivals. This year is a break from the CYA and is focused on Australian Women’s Crime Writing. The event is partnered with Sisters in Crime and M.A.D.EContinue reading →

Why I love Graeme Simsion

In October I had the good luck of meeting and Interviewing Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project.

He was a guest of the Ballarat Writers for one of our ‘Reading Nights’ where we host a guest author to discuss all things writing with our members. There was much excitement about Graeme’s visit due to the success that The Rosie Project has had this year. I held off buying the book so that I could get a signed copy on the night (I’m always secretly worried that our guests will travel from Melbourne and get zero book sales, a small turn out, then a long and lonely drive home.) I’ve had a chance to read the book now and I can see why it’s been a hit. However what I learned from my interview and Graeme’s presentation was more about what makes some people succeed. Continue reading →

2013 Southern Cross Literary Comp

I’ve been working hard over the last few months to promote the Southern Cross Literary Comp. Please see the details below and share with anyone you think may be interested. It’s a fantastic competition that Ballarat Writers Inc is administering (I am Chair and Publicity Officer)  Continue reading →

I’m talking at the Melbourne Writers Festival

I am very pleased to announce that I will be a panellist and an interviewer at the 2013 Melbourne Writers Festival.

I spent some time helping the team from MWF as part of my role at Ballarat Writers and now I can announce that I’ll be involved in 2 events.

My first event is on Saturday as part of the M.A.D.E. by Writers Panel. I will be discussing how my life as a writer interacts with the ideas of freedom, power and democracy. I’ll be sharing the panel with some great writers and must confess to having what singer/songwriter Paul Kelly calls ‘the pretendies’.

On Sunday I’ll be hosting, In Conversation with M.J. Hyland. I’ve written about her work before and a few years ago participated in a workshop that she was running.  I’m looking forward to this event as it closes out the weekend of events and I’m hoping will have some great audience participation.

So let me know if you’ve got any advice, or any questions you’d like me to ask.

If you’re in Ballarat please come along to some of the events. It’s a great chance to encourage Melbourne arts groups to run regional events.

There are heaps of workshops and panel discussions so please book in.

Finding God?

If you stare at a religious artefact long enough can it convert you?

Yes, I am seriously asking that question. It’s not the type of question I’d usually ponder, being neither religious nor prone to staring at artefacts. However, last month I completed another ekphrastic poetry project with the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat University and Ballarat Writers. This year’s project was based on the exhibition, Living Traditions which exhibits a range of religious and spiritual artefacts and artworks.

A group of poets from Ballarat Writers and Ballarat University were assigned the daunting task of creating a collection of ekphrastic writings inspired by the collection. Ekphrasis is the term used when creating one artwork inspired by another. Continue reading →

Reading Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly’s How to make Gravy is not a book to read fast.

Perhaps that’s why I went to the launch in 2010 and have only just finished reading it. I put it off originally because of the size – too big to lug to the station for my train ride. But it was perfect reading as a new Mum. I was able to grab a chapter at a time between feeds and sleeps, and be inspired to get into my own creative work. Continue reading →

Place as Character – Toni Jordan Nine Days

art-353-Nine-Days-300x0-184x280 I’ve seen Toni Jordan speak at quite a few events, and I was fortunate enough to hear her again towards the end of last year at the Ballarat Mechanics Institute. It was just after the launch of her latest novel, Nine Days.

I knew about the general premise of the book before I bought it – that Jordan was inspired by a photograph from the Argus records. (The image is on the cover of the book) But what I didn’t know was that the nine days of the title, refers to the plot structure. The novel tells of nine days, spread across seventy years, which transform the lives of each member of the Westaway family.  Each chapter is narrated by a different member of the family as they face their transformative day. However the plot is not structured chronologically. This device is a wonderful tool for driving the plot. Readers are left to fill in some blanks when the novel jumps from 1939 to the weeks immediately after the September 11 collapse of the world trade centre in 2001. We wonder who the new narrator is and how is she related to Kip, the character we’ve just grown to love in chapter one. This continues through the book, and it’s Jordan’s skill as a storyteller that ensures that readers don’t feel dislocated, instead urging them on with a new character who is just as fascinating as the one before. Continue reading →

Writing Workshops

Ballarat Writers have launched their 2013 Workshops

Based on the success of previous years the writing workshops are back with a range of topics to inspire writers of all levels and genres.

 

This year’s workshop facilitator is local author and poet Karen Sparnon.

Karen has twenty-five years teaching experience and a PhD in Professional Writing and Editing. Her first novel, Madonna of the Eucalypts, was published by Text Publishing in 2006. It was translated and published overseas, and in 2007 won the Grollo Ruzzene Foundation Prize for Writing about ltalians in Australia. She has recently completed her second novel, which is again set between Italy and Australia, and is at work on her third novel.

 

Workshop topics include:

February 23rd Continuing the Mythic Journey, exploring the emotional arc.

March 23rd, Struck by Lightning, exploring how creativity works, and how to make it work for you.

April 20th, How to deal with your characters emotional lives, outlining how to add depth and create compelling characters.

June 15th, To plot or not to plot – that is the question, determining key structural conventions within fiction.

July 13th, Shaping life into life writing, for writers working on biography, autobiography and life writing.

August 10th Just when you thought it was finished, looking at what writers should focus on when drafting and re-drafting.

 

For the complete detail of each of these workshops, session times and locations visit www.ballaratwriters.com