The Wind’s Story – Anne B. Udy

by Amanda on April 12, 2016


It is always a thrill for me to receive a book by one of my students or mentorees and this one is super special. Anne joined my 12in12 Programme a couple of years ago to write a novel she had been dreaming about for some time; a romantic fable set in the distant past.

Not having met her, I hadn’t speculated about her age, so when she was struggling with a particular aspect of the writing and losing heart, she finally revealed that she was 87 years old – I was blown away. She had kept this quiet intentionally because she didn’t want any concessions made for her age.

So, without special concessions, she took all feedback on board and completed her delightful tale now published by Xlibris.

Find out more HERE



Meet the family!

by Amanda on April 11, 2016


Thought it was about time I made a record of the growing family of books published by my students over the past few years. This isn’t the full collection as some were published via Amazon and went straight to e-book. There are also a number of other completed manuscripts currently seeking publishers.

All of these books (apart from Greg’s thriller ‘The Swap’) were completed with the help of my 12 Chapter in 12 Months programme. And all of them have been self-published.

Self-publishing has never been easier and it’s getting cheaper and more simple every year. There was once a stigma around self-publishing – last century it was called vanity publishing but that has all changed. Now there are really good reasons to self-publish a variety of books:

Memoir: There are probably two ways your memoir would qualify for commercial publication by a trade publisher; either the quality of writing and story are extraordinary or you are already famous. In other words, there is a ready-made market and selling a few thousand copies is a commercial reality. But if you would like to enjoy the process of writing about your life, include images, recipes, old letters, drawings – a book that becomes a keepsake and record of family history – then self-publishing is absolutely perfect.

Non-Fiction: If you have an area of expertise you’d like to disseminate in book form it may have some appeal to publishers if enough people are interested, or could be interested, in the topic. But publishing companies, by necessity, are extremely risk averse. In the past some non-fiction authors have had success as a result of self-publishing and, once the market is proven, the book has been picked up by a publisher.

Fiction: People want to write novels for a variety of reasons, one being recognition and the possibility of becoming famous. These outcomes are unlikely and even if they came to fruition, they would be fleeting moments. In any case, most people with this mindset are not prepared for the torturous journey of creating and completing a book. While some people write to publish commercially, many simply love writing. They want to do things their own way, write whatever they want, pick their own title, create the cover and control the publishing process – and then get on with the next book in their own time.

Gina Amos is a good example. She attended my fiction workshop at the NSW Writers’ Centre a few years ago, got onboard the 12in12 programme and turned out a cracking mystery novel called ‘Killing Sunday’ which she self-published on Amazon as part of her Detective Jill Brennan crime series. She has all the pleasure of writing without the deals, contracts, deadlines – or rejections! Simple and fun.

While the landscape of self-publishing is changing all the time, I always dedicate the last half of my final workshop session to explaining the options and showing students the books you see here, what they cost and how it was done. It’s always incredibly inspiring for those beginning to the journey to see the finished product and imagine one day seeing their name of the cover of a book.



Mostly Bulldust by Frank Jordan

by Amanda on April 7, 2016


Frank Jordan attended my workshop at the NSW Writers’ Centre in 2011 and signed up to my 12 Chapters in 12 Months programme the next year to complete his novel. Somewhere down the track on that project, he realised that he could also utilise the mentoring process to get the collection of short stories he’d been working on to the next level of revision – and now here it is!

I thoroughly enjoyed working with him on these stories which are inspired by his travels around Australia as a grey nomad. Frank is a terrific story-teller with a dry sense of humour and the 18 stories in his book are well told in the tradition of the great Australian yarn.

The outback is a foreign country to most of us city dwellers. ‘Mostly Bulldust’ drops the reader right into the back of beyond and introduces us to the diverse characters and tall-tales of that ‘other’ Australia.

Congratulations to Frank for getting to the end of this difficult journey!

Buy Here




Free memoir workshop coming up!

by Amanda on March 6, 2016

Manly Daily

Warringah Council have invited me to give a 3 hour memoir writing workshop on April 19th 2016 as part of Seniors week. Sponsored by Council, it is free – and includes refreshments! All the details HERE



The Swap – Greg Moriarty

by Amanda on October 27, 2015


This is a guest blog from Greg Moriarty who attended my fiction workshop in 2011 and recently self-published his crime novel. You can find out more about his book HERE

Writing & Publishing my crime novel – The Swap

Developing the idea
The idea for my novel had just come to me when I took Amanda’s ‘Write a Page Turner’ workshop at the NSW Writers’ Centre in 2011. Those two days were the first time I had aired my writing, the plot and the book title – and the environment felt safe to do so. A combination of the workshop and the group’s sharing of ideas inspired me to push on and finish the first draft.

To come up with twists and storyline, I found Julia Cameron’s morning pages invaluable. I would ask the question ‘what next?’ and the pages would throw me an answer. It’s one of the best tools I’ve ever used.

Staying Motivated
I wouldn’t say I was consistent in my dedication to writing a novel. But outside of work commitments, I managed to keep at it. In the writing workshops I deliver, it gets a giggle when I tell people my surname and add that I write crime fiction. I found regularly telling people I was writing a novel definitely motivated me.

Once I’d completed the first draft, I got a manuscript assessment through the NSW Writers’ Centre. The reviewer praised some of the plot elements and gave me pointers on atmosphere and setting, which led to another revision.

Handing a draft over to my sister-in-law’s book club was a major turning point. Before this, I thought I had carved out a new genre – the thriller without any thrills. But what the reading group confirmed was that there were indeed one or two thrilly bits tucked in there. The group’s feedback – the glowing and the constructive – gave me the impetus to complete a further two revisions.

The best remarks commended the final twist, which served as a huge pat on the back. The toughest comments to accept were about my ‘two-dimensional’ characters.  But I even managed to turn that into a positive – it was after all one more dimension than I had written into them!

Choosing self-publishing
Since I was about 13, I’ve wanted to write a crime novel. So this project of mine has mainly been about realising that dream, and not necessarily about becoming a marketable novelist. Having taken four years to complete the book, I didn’t fancy waiting for publishers to accept or reject it. So I took on the job of self-publishing.

Exploring e-books and print on demand felt right, given my personal reasons for writing fiction. And browsing for a book cover was satisfying after all the hard work of writing.

Reading reviews
As daunting as it is, reading the online reviews has been thrilling. I relish feeding off readers’ enjoyment of the story and the Goodreads giveaway feature is perfect for this.

It turns out my harshest critic has been a dear friend, whose surname happens to be Holmes. Once again, Moriarty and Holmes ‘collide’.

Greg Moriarty.



Magda in Mona Vale

August 14, 2015

I’m thrilled to have been invited by the lovely Gillian May, Manager of Berkelouw Books Mona Vale, to engage Magda Szubanski ‘In Conversation’ to promote her soon to be released book ‘Reckoning’ in early October 2015 . Sounds very intriguing – look forward to reading it! We have also scheduled the final 2015 Memoir Made […]

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Can creative writing be taught?

July 19, 2015

Excellent article in The Australian by Tegan Bennett Daylight about creative writing workshops. It really encapsulates my own teaching philosophy of opening up the craft of the subject – without getting bogged down in technicalities – to help each aspiring author to improve and grow in their own way. When it comes to completing a […]

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Jane King – Book Launch

July 16, 2015

I was very thrilled last night to attend the launch of Jane King’s beautiful memoir ‘Is it Tomorrow Today?’ Jane attended my memoir workshop at the NSW Writers’ Centre more than three years ago and was absolutely determined to embark on and complete this book. She joined my 12in12 mentoring programme and completed the first […]

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Extreme Writing! Workshop

July 2, 2015

Just finished a two-day ‘Extreme Writing!’ school holiday workshop for budding young writers – always a heap of fun – and have another running in Avalon next week. I’m always blown away by the imagination and enthusiasm of young writers, although it saddens me how often they ask if they are ‘allowed’ to do something […]

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School Holiday Workshops

June 8, 2015

EXTREME WRITING! No workshops currently scheduled.

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Evernote – The Writer’s Besty

May 19, 2015

I never thought I’d be the one to say that a mere app has dramatically changed my life – but it’s true. When it comes to writing, I lean towards old school, not exactly back to the quill but inclined to be dismissive about specialist writing software programmes that purport to make it easier to […]

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Berkelouw Autumn Fiction Workshop

May 18, 2015

We had a great six week workshop series at Berkelouw Books in Mona Vale culminating in writerly drinks in Edison’s bar next-door. During workshop time we’re on task so finishing up with social drinks is a wonderful opportunity for people to get better acquainted beyond the shared writing aspirations. It’s generally quite an eye-opener, always […]

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