As a writer, my first attempt (a short story), was published in the Newsletter of the Rural Women’s Network magazine in 2004.

After developing a life-changing chronic health issue that continues today, I enrolled in a short-course writing class in 2008. Conducted by author Lee Kofman, I learned the joy that comes from putting pen to paper and began dabbling in children’s writing, short stories and regular workshopping. It was as a result of these classes that I wrote Alice meets a fox! in 2009 as a first birthday present.

In 2011, yet another health situation occurred and I was ordered to stay home from work. While suffering from glandular fever, I decided it was time for a career change and wrote my application to study the Professional Writing and Editing course at RMIT. Despite being ‘fuzzy-headed’ at the time, I was accepted! In my final year of study, I completed an internship with The Five Mile Press and was a voluntary judge for the New Voices Young Writers competition.

From a fiction perspective, the specific nuances afforded to children’s picture books, middle grade books, young adult or the many genres of adult fiction allow me to stay engaged with what my clients are aiming to achieve. In 2013 I self-published a children’s novel Jack’s Convict Adventures and in 2014 my short story Shot Silk was longlisted for the Visible Ink anthology. Also, in 2014 my piece, Hilda’s Indignation, was accepted for the Write Stuff anthology.

I currently have an 80,000-word young adult, science fiction manuscript on the go that is nearing its final draft. And although considered for, but unsuccessful, in obtaining a Write-ability mentorship in 2017, I still aim to complete the project in the coming year. That is, when my analytical editing work allows my creative brain to re-emerge! 

From a non-fiction perspective, I love history, nature, art and memoir, having self-published two books: a family recipe book in 2016, and a family history book in 2020.

To this present day, I have enjoyed the creative aspect of writing, as well as the interaction with fellow writers through workshopping, writers’ weekends, master classes and book launches.

Writing types

I’d like to touch briefly on the different types of writing an author can use – particularly in regard to personal or family stories:

Most people realise that fiction is non-factual and something totally made up. It allows the author to invent worlds, scenes, characters and dialogue as much or as little as they want in order to create a story. For the purposes of historical fiction, this is where authors can draw on a real-life event but totally fictionalise the characters and what happens to them. For instance, the event may be the Wall Street crash. You know that it occurred in 1929 on a Tuesday, but everything else relating to the story can be fictionalised. Your story may be about a young man who had just started a job a week earlier, not knowing this this event is going to change his life and the lives of those around him. The young man, how he looks, where he lives is all made up. The other characters he meets and talks to are also made up. It can be written in first or third-person point of view. In such a book, you may acknowledge that you have drawn on real events but that the characters and what they experience are fictional.

Creative non-fiction
Creative non-fiction can be a bit tricky to get your head around. You are writing about real people and real events but you want to imagine the conversations they had or the thoughts and actions they endured. The first is non-fiction, the latter is fiction. The way to address this is to delineate then change from non-fiction to fiction so that the reader knows you are making it up.

For instance, you may write your story using a narrator in third person who sets the scene from the factual research you have made, using details and data that are true and correct. But then you want to bring the story alive and let your reader experience the situation from the character’s point of view. You won’t actually know what they may have said during any specific time, so you imagine it and alert the reader that this is fictionalised. For example, “It could be imagined that the conversation between Peter and Fiona, under such stressful times, went along these lines …” For creative non-fiction, you still need to note all your sources either in footnotes or end-notes, and in the bibliography.

Non-fiction is a collection of facts and figures researched and presented in a narrative that sets out your findings so that you can draw conclusions. As the author, you can use the facts to support or negate an idea or argument. Mostly, non-fiction is written in third person. It is important to footnote/endnote all sources that support the information within a written paragraph or used for a direct quote, photo, chart, map etc., and that all researched sources are listed in the bibliography.

It is extremely important to familiarise yourself with copyright and permissions to see whether you are allowed to use quotes and data in your publication. More information on copyright can be obtained from the Australian Copyright Council. Note that to publish something is to produce a piece of work for distribution, regardless of whether you intend to have commercial benefit or not.

There are various styles that can be followed when writing footnotes and a bibliography. Two of the most common are the documentary-note system (also known as Oxford referencing) and the author-date system (used in Harvard and APA referencing). More information about the two systems can be found at Australian Government Style Manual. For the documentary-note system, references are indicated in the text with a numeral. The corresponding reference details are numerically listed at the bottom of the page as footnotes or at the end of a chapter or section as endnotes. Using this system, a bibliography is then presented at the end of the manuscript. A bibliography is a list of the sources that were used for directly referenced material and when researching. It is set out alphabetically. The author-date system places an in-text citation using the reference’s author name and date. A collated detailed reference list is then placed in alphabetical order at the end of the chapter, section or manuscript. If required, the author-date system also may include a bibliography if other research material has been used but not directly cited.