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					                                Tropical Writers
  November/December 2010
  Volume 5, Issue 11

                           Behind the Scenes…
                           Christmas is coming early this year. This newsletter is a combined
                           November/December issue that Sally has jam packed with ideas, tips and all
                           manner of information for writers and poets.

                           The December meeting has traditionally encompassed our Christmas Party, where
                           writers bring along a Christmas poem or short story for FUN. Of course members
                           are still welcome to bring and share other work requiring feedback and critique.
Inside this Issue:         Annette Christensen has offered to act as Chair as I will be away on holidays.
News from Writers      2   As our „home‟ is now La Porchetta, the restaurant will prepare our Christmas fare
Workshops              2   this year i.e. pizza, nibbles, cake, which will be paid for out of our $5 subs. So come
                           along, enjoy and let‟s celebrate what has been a wonderful Tropical Writers year.
Anthology 2011         2   The great thing is that it‟s air-conditioned and we don‟t have to clean up afterwards!
Competitions           3
                           2010 has indeed been a full and productive year, both collectively and individually.
Upcoming Events        3   Many of our writers have had their work published and recognised locally, nationally
                           and even internationally. This is a great feather in our collective cap and we are
Editor‟s Corner        3
                           justly proud of their efforts.
The Art of Critique    4
                           This year, Tropical Writers produced yet another brilliant anthology, which we
Poetry Talk            5   opened to other regional writers groups. Many attended the Writers on the
Editor‟s Mark          6   Waterfront event, where one person from each group read from the anthology. This
                           is evidence that working together with other groups reaps benefits in many ways.

                           Regional writers again helped us to „set our imaginations on fire‟ at the Tropical
                           Writers Festival. It was great to see so many people travel vast distances to support
                           the Festival and attend our various workshops and the literary dinner. We have no
                           doubt the 2012 Tropical Writers Festival will be even bigger and better.

                           Our Festival website and our presence at various regional events throughout the
                           year has enabled us to expand our audience, which bodes well for our future
                           endeavours. The photographs on our website are a clear indication that we are a
                           proactive, community minded group who take great pleasure in supporting one
                           another. Many of our members took the time to promote our group on radio, in print
                           or by word of mouth. As a result, our membership has flourished, the quality of our
                           work has improved and it is a very exciting time to be part of the literary arts scene
                           in Cairns. Keep up the good work.

                           Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year.

                           Yours in writing,
                           Carol Libke
Tropical Writers                                                                     Page 2 of 6

                                           Sight Reading and Voice Modulation Workshop

                                           Magda Palmer is offering a 3-4 hour workshop to
                                           develop the art of sight reading and voice modulation
                                           for those who require the skills to read their work in

                                           Where:     “Valhalla” 13 Julian Close, Mooroobool
     News from our Writers                 When:      Afternoon or weekend
                                           Cost:      $1.00 towards coffee/tea; no food provided;
   Talitha is very excited to announce     Bring:     Work to read, notepad, biro, red & blue pencil
   she has signed a contract with the      Contact:   Magda on email:
   Joy Harris Literary Agency in New
   York with her young adult Sci Fi        Query Letter and Blurb Writing Workshop.
   series, „Lifesphere Inc.‟
                                           Talitha Kalago would like expressions of interest for this
                   ......                  workshop.

   Rob has taken up the NaNoWriMo          What is a blurb? A blurb is the part of a query letter
   challenge! (National Novel Writing      where you tell agents and publishers what your book is
   Month). This is a US based writing      about. It‟s also found on the back cover of books at the
   challenge where participants write a    book store - and in most cases, the blurb on the book
   50,000 word first draft of a novel in   jacket and is the same blurb that was on the query!
   the 30 days of November. Rob
   Farquhar accepted the challenge and     Your blurb is the first thing any potential agent or
   at last count was over 17,000 words     audience will read. It needs to be so fascinating an
   into his sequel to H. G. Wells‟, The    agent requests more and a buyer purchases the book.
   War of the Worlds.                      It‟s also extremely difficult to write.

                   ......                  I am offering to run a workshop on query letters -
                                           specifically focusing on how to write the blurb. I‟d like to
     Good on you, Talitha and Rob!         teach you, not only what to say in a blurb, but how to
                                           say it, and what will make an agent request a partial. I‟ll
                                           even tell you what a partial is.

                                           The workshop would be held at La Porchetta in March,
                                           the weekend after the March TWG meeting and will
                                           cost $10. The workshop will need a minimum of 7
                                           people to run so that I can cover costs. Please email
                                           Talitha at if you are

                                           Anthology 2011
                                           Guidelines for submitting manuscripts to the Tropical
                                           Writers 2011 anthology are now available. Email Sally
                                           for a copy: ( or
                                           view it on our new website in January.
 Tropical Writers                                                                                Page 3 of 6

Competitions                                                      Upcoming Events
Tom Collins Poetry Prize                                          Book Signing
This is an annual competition inaugurated in 1975 and is in       Elizabeth Nicholls and Sally McDonald will
memory of Australian author Joseph Furphy (1843 - 1912)           be holding a book signing:
Opening Date: 1 September                                         Where: Collins Bookstore in Smithfield
Closing Date:     Postmarked 15 December
                                                                           Shopping Centre
Number of lines: Maximum 60 lines per poem.
Prizes:           First - $1000.00; Second - $400.00              When: December 5, 2010
                  4 x Highly Commended - $150.00                  Time: 11:00 am to l:00 pm
                  4 x Commended - Certificate only                Shop the markets and pick up a signed
Entry Fee:        $5.00/poem (max 3 poems per entrant)            book for Christmas!
Entries must be accompanied by an entry form.
Go to:                                           January Tropical Writers Meeting Date
                                                                  In January, Tropical Writers will meet on
Jetstar “What’s Your Story’ Writing Competition                   January 8th at La Porchetta at 1 pm. This
Win a flight voucher to the value of a return economy             is the second Saturday of the month,
JetSaver flight for your and friend to travel to the
                                                                  since the first Saturday is a holiday.
destination of your choice on the Jetstar network! If you‟re
a winner, we‟ll notify you by email or telephone within 30
days of being selected. Enter your favourite travel story         Dues for Tropical Writers 2011
where you flew with Jetstar (in 600 words or less) and top        Please be aware that dues for TW 2011
travel tip (in 250 words or less). You can also include a         are due in January. Diane Finlay will be
photo or video with your entry! Each day of the competition,      available at the December and January
a winning entry will be selected as the most creative and         meetings     to   receive payment     for
original travel story and top travel tips by a panel of judges    membership.
from Jetstar management. Entries aren't restricted to the
day they were entered. Entries close Midnight (AEDT) 1
February 2011. Go to:

The Blackened Billy Verse Competiton                              Editor’s Corner*
This is regarded as one of the most prestigious bush poetry
competitions in Australia. 1 prize is $500 plus the famous        Welcome to the Editor‟s Corner. Each
                             nd                rd
Blackened Billy Trophy; 2 prize, $250; 3 prize, $150.             month I will give you two sentences that
Bush poetry is a traditional type of verse written with rhyme     require an editor‟s red pen. Test your
and rhythm that reflects the Australian way of life. Winners      editing skills by correcting the sentence.
will be announced at the Tamworth Country Music Festival          If you need a little help, scroll down to
in January 2011. Entries forms available from Jan Morris
                                                                  the end of the newsletter and look for the
via post or email at the following address: Blackened Billy
Verse Competition, PO Box 3001, West Tamworth, NSW
                                                                  answer in the box titled, Editor‟s Mark.
2340, OR email:
                                                                  Here are your two sentences:
The 2010 Hal Porter Short Story Competition
Australian writers are invited to enter a short story, written    (1) As a non-fiction writer, Sophie had
in any style. Entries must not exceed 2,500 words. 1 prize,           the ability to hone in on the important
$1,000. Shortlisted writers will receive UQP publications.            ideas of a subject and explain them
Manuscripts must be original works, in English and must               concisely.
not have been previously accepted for publication, which
includes websites. No entry form is necessary. Only the
                                                                  (2) As everyone sat down for the
title of the story, not the author‟s name, is to appear on the
manuscript. If you wish to receive notification of the
                                                                      meeting, the atmosphere seemed
winners, send an SASE with your entry. Post entries to:               restrained so Emma made a simple
Hal Porter Short Story Competition                                    observance on the weather in an
East Gippsland Art Gallery                                            attempt to start a conversation.
2 Nicholson Street
Bairnsdale, Vic 3875
Tropical Writers                                                                                        Page 4 of 6

                         The Art of Critique
                         Those of you who came to our writing group in November experienced a rather volatile
                         critiquing session and although the committee responded to the incident, it‟s given this
                         newsletter an opportunity to revisit the whole issue of giving and receiving feedback.

                         Back when Tropical Writers formed we frequently discussed the art of critique. We knew it
                         was the most important thing for a writer‟s group to get right. This week I researched the
“Critique the writing,   subject for this newsletter and discovered there is a LOT of information online about how
not the writer.”         to give critique in a writer‟s group. I urge you all to browse the internet on this subject.

                         Most of the articles agree on key points. I‟ve compiled those points and present them
                         here for Tropical Writers to view.

                             1. Critique the writing, not the writer. Critique the writing, not the genre. Most
                                important of all, don’t get personal.

                                 Most editors advise that the way to do this is to avoid „you‟ statements („you
                                 should change this...”) but instead focus on the writing: “This scene would be
                                 more effective if it had less exposition.” “The dialogue of this character doesn‟t
                                 ring true for his age”. In other words, frame all comments in terms of how the text
                                 could be improved.

                             2. Highlight the strengths first, then discuss what you consider needs work.

                                 Many writing groups require members to say one positive thing before discussing
                                 the areas that need work. We all respond to negative feedback better if there is
                                 positive too, and it sets a more nurturing tone for the critique.

                             3. Do not confuse critique with criticism.

                                 Criticism uses negative language, such as: “this is weak”.
                                 Critique uses positive language, such as “this would be stronger if...”.
                                 Criticism would say: “you used the wrong word”.
                                 Critique would say, “a better word choice would be...”.
                                 Criticism would say: “this is boring”
                                 Critique would say: “this could be more exciting by...”

                         When the Tropical Writers group increased in member size, we had to impose a time limit
                         for giving and receiving feedback. We asked members giving the feedback to be succinct
                         and we asked members receiving the feedback to listen to all of the feedback first and
                         respond at the end only if there was a question related to the feedback. Over time, the
                         following responsibilities were developed to strengthen our group:
 “Do not confuse
 critique with           Responsibilities of the Writer                   Responsibilities of the Reader
                         Ask for feedback on the specific area of         Only give feedback related to the specific
                         writing you want help with.                      questions asked for by the writer
                         Be able to articulate what you are               Find out what the writer is trying to
                         attempting to do and ask your readers if it      accomplish and direct feedback to that.
                         If possible, supply the readers with copies      Take time and care to consider thoughtful
                         of the writing beforehand so that they can       feedback.
                         give considered feedback.
                         Respond to critique with respect.                Give critique with respect.
Tropical Writers                                                                              Page 5 of 6

Poetry Talk
Congratulations to Dave Delaney for receiving a „commended‟ award on his entry
in the Cervantes Art Festival bush poetry competition. With Dave‟s permission,
we print the winners of the competition and the judge‟s comments below. It is
interesting to learn how bush poetry is assessed and the difficult task of being a
bush poetry judge.

A Cross Beside A Lonely Road - Ellis Campbell - a poem that touches the heart
of all who pass along our highways and byways, on a subject that has had many
variants over the years, this one also having a brilliant usage of words and

Highly Commended:
The Ugly Side of Drought - Terry Piggot - Emotive and descriptive; unfortunately,
the incorrect usage of one word lost it first place
Do You Think of Me? - Zondrae King - Delightful love story, not your usual Bush
poem                                                                                    “Overall, a moderately
A Garden On the Wall - Heather Knight - A simple poem, but with a very strong           good standard with
                                                                                        around half being very
                                                                                        good to excellent.”
Old Life Dreams - David Delaney - a very lyrical poem about "getting away from it
The Valma June - Terry Piggot - a very descriptive verse about a shipwreck

Judges Comments:

What a difficult task I was set. The standard was generally very high, almost half
of the entries, in a different field, could have been among the place-getters. In the
end, it was basically one word used in a slightly incorrect context that separated
Terry‟s poem, The Ugly side of Drought, with the winning poem.

In general, there was a high degree of consistency in the metre and the stress
patterns that go to make a good Bush Poem flow easily. The top third or so of
entries had almost no technical errors, and it was largely on "storyline appeal"
that I made my final decision.

Of those that didn't 'make the grade", only one was not what I would describe as
"Good Aussie Rhyming Poetry" - it was lacking in almost all aspects. Several
others had difficulty sustaining a consistent stress pattern; such errors are almost
immediately apparent when reading the poem as a stumble in the flow of the
This is by far the feature of Bush Poetry that is most difficult for many to achieve.
In terms of rhyme, a far easier concept to get your head around than metre and
stresses, there were a significant number who had imperfect rhyme. A couple
had resorted to visual rhyme, - ie "I often find the gusty wind...” - but that's not
what Bush poetry is about, it must stand up when read aloud.

So there we have it. Overall, a moderately good standard with around half being
very good to excellent.
Tropical Writers                                                                               Page 6 of 6

Editor’s Mark
(1) Many people write „hone in‟ (to sharpen) when
they should use „home in‟ (to move towards). The
confusion is understandable. The two words have
similar spelling, they sound similar, and on the page             Trivia Tidbits…
they look similar. There is also a close commonality              When M. Night Shyamalan wrote the
in their two meanings. To home in is to get closer to             screenplay The Sixth Sense, it wasn‟t
something, or if we are talking about an idea, to                 until his tenth draft that he came up
bring it more sharply into focus, which is perhaps                with the idea for the incredible surprise
why we confuse it with „hone in‟, which is to sharpen             twist.
something. Sentence one should read, „Sophie had
the ability to home in ...”.

(2) Observance usually means the practice of
observing the requirements of a law, as in
observance of the speed limit, or observing the
tenets of a religious faith or the rules of a game. But
this meaning does not make observance a synonym
for observation. The word „observation‟ has a
number of meanings, and in the context of this
sentence, observation means making a statement
about something that is noticed. That is what Emma
did: she made a simple observation on the weather,
not a simple observance.

* Ideas and examples for this feature come from Richard Bell’s
column in Writing Magazine entitled “Red Editing Pen”.

Tropical Writers of Far North                                     Tropical Writers of Far North Queensland
Queensland: Mission Statement
                                                                              PO Box 7772
As writers we gather to support each other in our                            Cairns, Qld. 4870
shared need to write. We learn from each other, help
each other and critique each other‟s writing with                        Carol Libke – President
respect. We encourage each other to reach                     
individual goals and rejoice in each other‟s
successes. Most of all, we nurture the creative muse                     Diane Findlay – Treasurer
in each of us and share a mutual understanding of            
that strange creative force that compels us to take
pen to paper: In short, we gather to celebrate our                      Sally McDonald – Secretary
individual creativity and our collective energy.        

                                                                 Oonagh Prettejohn, Jack Shields, Annette
                                                                 Christensen, Christine Eyres - Committee

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