Friday, May 1, 2015

Regional Writes manuscript development workshops.

It's been a while since I posted here, but now the dust has settled on the past five years, it seems like a good time to roll out a new edition of Regional Writes manuscript development workshops. There is a crop of new writers ready to work on a new bunch of manuscripts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We have a free day pass to the festival to give away.

First to email gets LUCKY!

Your time starts now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ten rules for writing fiction

This two part article is hilarious - and true, all too true
Enjoy. Part 1 Part 2

Friday, February 12, 2010


THE TRUTH ABOUT US - Calling all Non-fiction Authors

The 2010 Reality Bites Literary Non-fiction Festival is seeking submissions from local writers of literary non-fiction for possible inclusion in the forthcoming festival to be held 24 July - 1 August.

Writers of history, genealogy, memoir, environmental issues -- anything true -- are welcome to send a synopsis of their work for consideration. Deadline for submission is 15 March 2010.

Work must be published, either by an established publisher or self published. The Director will assess submissions on their quality and how the work fits with the themes of the programme. For further information go to the festival website at or contact the festival director.

In addition, we will be holding a pitching clinic again this year and invite authors with unpublished true stories to register for that session by submitting a synopsis. The panel will listen to your five minute pitch and advise you how best to get your idea up. Open to any form, screenwriting, prose, theatre etc, but the story must be true.

Annette Hughes
Director | Reality Bites 3
(07) 5447 7063
258 Ferrells Rd Cooroy QLD 4563
Sunshine Hinterland Writers' Centre Inc

"Australia's Premier Literary Non-fiction Festival"
Bookseller & Publisher

Monday, December 7, 2009

Poet in Residence @ Bistro Bistro in Cooroy

Geoffrey Datson is the Australian Poetry Centre 'cafe poet' in residence at Bistro Bistro in Cooroy for the next four months. Each week or so he will post a poem on the menu board, all of which will be included in his forthcoming memior "Then, and Then", about his move from Sydney to a farm in the hills behind Cooroy.

The memior will be launched in conjunction with the Sunshine Hinterland Writers' Centre and Bistro Bistro at the forthcoming Reality Bites Literary Non-fiction Festival (24 July - 1 August) in Cooroy in 2010

Here is the first one. You can hear the audio version of it here.

What Thou Art

Time line, 1977

Spring I guess

Sunrise.on Black Mountain Road

the air a-pulse with incandescent wildlife

Hello universe!


it’s a field of abandoned cars

Native tobacco, and ferns burst through rust


We’re all on the slow burn down here

So, to the floor of a fifty-seven De Soto:

discarded tools, feathers,

crushed beer cans, greasy rags

and a message from the out-lands,

as without, so within.

And I’m hearing Patti Smith and

I’ve been reading the symbolist poets and

I’m fairly pretentious

Another lonely boy

out on the weekend

But, it’s a big land

and given to dreaming

Through the windscreen

the morning clouds pile up

our heaped canopy of joy

And fearful

that my head will explode

from too much cumulonimbus

Out and spinning, spinning

Spin the world,


till racing backwards

retreat into our own eternal sunset

Hey Sheba, hey Salome, hey Venus

eclipse them my way

And a quarter of a century later

I dreamt of this same morning

crouching in the wet grass

hugging myself hysterical with connection

and voicing all time

in the wet grass

Bycatch by Morgana MacLeod

SAM had no worries behind the wheel of his cruiser. He lived for the open sea, the tang of salt air mixed with diesel. The night before, a fierce storm churned the waves into a frenzy. Gale force winds speared gusts of rain, water turned brutal, clawed and slashed at the land. Now the ocean had settled, but there was still something ominous about the blood-red streak of sunrise. A gory stain leaking into the banked grey clouds on the horizon, it smouldered like a promise - no, threat - of more to come. Rounding the point, Sam saw spills of coffee rock exposed along the Coolum shoreline where tonnes of sand had been sucked back off the beach. Seal-sleek surfers bobbed in pods, riding the tail-end of the swell. Reflecting back the sulking sky, the sea was dull, a milky green-grey. Still, the current wasn’t strong enough to pull Sam’s boat off course, and although the wind had teeth he was heading leeward, following the line of the shark net. ‘Wouldn’t be dead for quids.’ Sam told himself.

At the big round buoy that marked a drumline, Sam dropped anchor. Small waves lapped the cruiser’s hull as he pulled up the chain, careful not to foul the float rope and net lead that anchored the whole set up to the ocean floor.

‘She’s right.’ Sam confirmed. The lump of shark carcass he’d used to bait the thick steel hook was a bit worse for wear, ragged edges trailing fringes of tattered flesh, but still secure. He was due to pull the lot out next week anyway. He was a Shark Control Program subbie, contracted to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Check the nets every second day, replace the gear as it rusted out every three weeks, help the boffins when he was needed – that was Sam’s line of work. Not what he’d call hard yakka, either. With plenty of time out on the open water, no-one in his ear all the time, he was a happy man. Sam lowered the baited hook and chain back into position under the buoy, weighed anchor, and continued to check the shark net.

‘You’d expect a bit of bycatch, after the carry on last night.’ Sam told himself. The drumlines and nets were designed to discourage sharks from lurking around the Sunshine Coast’s beaches. Without some deterrent, the predators were liable to cruise past and devour tourists as if the patrolled shoreline was a fast-food drive-through. But sometimes turtles, dolphins, even migrating whales got tangled up in the nets and lines, and part of Sam’s job was to locate and free this bycatch. By the time Sam found them it was often too late of course, particularly for the active breathers, the big marine mammals that had to keep surfacing or drown.

Sure enough, between the next set of marker buoys, Sam spotted a problem. Instead of lying strung out neatly like a bead necklace on the surface of the water, the torpedo floats that marked the top of the shark net were bunched up in a clump. Something big was snared in the nets below. The floats weren’t moving much, so Sam suspected that whatever it was had stopped fighting – probably for good. The sky was still dull, the water murky, so Sam couldn’t see what was caught. He threw his anchor over the side, started hauling in the fouled net. It was heavy going. Sam wondered about using the electric winch instead, but decided it was less trouble to just get on with it and land the thing by hand.

Sam grunted, ‘Big ‘un.’ Sweat beaded on his forehead and started to trickle down his back, despite the chill sea breeze. He stripped off his flannel shirt, down to a singlet, and went back to work.

He saw the fluke first, a frilly sweep of tail that, despite the overcast dullness, scintillated with flashes of aquamarine and nacre.

‘What the …?’ He thought he’d seen most things in his years on the trawlers, but this was a new one on him. His attention was snared and he pulled harder, ignoring the fire in his broad back and shoulders. He hauled a few feet of tail fouled with net into his boat and stopped for a breather. He grabbed the side and leaned over. Just below the water’s surface he saw a woman’s face. A swirl of long hair streamed and undulated with the moving water to conceal, then reveal, her beauty. Her face was light brown, café au lait, but from the neck down her skin tone blended towards the colour of the scales on her tail. Her naked breasts were a pale khaki with bluish nipples and the skin at her narrow waist blue-grey, like a shark’s. Rows of scales started about where her hips flared, where a woman’s belly and arse and secret parts were replaced by long powerful tail muscles that still managed to swell with the promise of seduction. Sam stared for a timeless stretch, frozen in wonder. When he snapped out of it, he started to haul like ten men until she was with him in the boat.

‘Geez.’ His curse, soft and reverent, was almost like a prayer. He unsheathed his knife, cut the fouled section of net free from the rest of the line and then collapsed back in the stern.

Sam struggled to catch his breath and sort out his head. He tried to tell himself he was just seeing things ‘cos he’d had a few too many last night. He rubbed his eyes, scrubbed his palms across his stubbly cheeks and then looked again. Nah, it had nothing to do with the turps. Maybe he’d just gone berko and when he made it back to shore they’d have to lock him up, or shoot him, or something. Either way, Sam couldn’t take his eyes off his catch. No less beautiful out of the water, she lay relaxed, one arm flung up as though reaching towards him, the other draped across her torso. Her long thick tresses of green-brown - part hair, part ribbons like seaweed - trailed down past her waist. Her lower half lay enmeshed in the lines, curved in a sinuous S-shape. The netting had cut cruelly into the flesh of her tail, raw gashes oozing navy blue…well, Sam supposed it was blood. His chest ached to see her and he fumbled for his knife again, leaned forward to cut her free. When Sam’s shadow crossed her face, her eyes opened. A clear, light green like the shallows in summer they glowed, huge over her high cheekbones. For an eternal moment, she looked deep into Sam’s eyes.

‘You wou’ not be after harming me, now, wid dat knife o’ yours?’ She asked, in a lilting Creole accent.

With a strangled ‘Fark!’ Sam recoiled, almost flipped himself over the outboard and into the drink.

The mermaid pulled herself up to a sitting position, wincing as the netting bit deeper into her injured tail.

‘I tank you, Sir, for liberating me.’ She ran long, shell-tipped fingers through her hair, stroked tresses back off her face. She started to sing, a strange polyphonic chant with a melody that rolled, hypnotic, like the tides.

Images of caverns, deep undersea, filled with pearls and pirate treasure drifted through Sam’s mind. He smiled as shoals of shimmering fishwomen swam into his dreams, reached out to him in welcome, invited him to linger and play with them a while.

The injured mermaid held a hand out over the waves. A stream of water leapt up, lively as a jumping fish, into her cupped palm. The chant stopped as she rinsed her mouth with the salt water and Sam’s head cleared.

‘Would you… can I…’ Sam choked down the lump in his throat and started again. His head still felt frothy, too light on his shoulders. A practical, brine-soaked man, good with engines and his sure strong hands, he was allergic to magic. ‘D’ya want me to cut you out of the net?’

‘I would take it as a great kindness, sir.’ She replied, and flashed him a smile. Her pearly teeth glittered, disconcertingly sharp behind her lush curved lips.

Sam bent forward and went to work. The familiar rhythm of steel on rope brought him back to his senses. The mermaid held still, but when Sam tugged a deeply embedded loop of rope free her breath hissed in distress. He thought to chat, distract her from the pain.

‘My name’s Sam.’ He offered. ‘What’s yours?’

‘In my country, I am known as La Sirène.’

‘You’re not from around here, then.’

‘Oh, no.’ La Sirène laughed.

In her open mouth Sam thought he glimpsed more than one row of teeth. He looked away quick smart, back to her tangled tail.

‘I was born in da warm waters of the Caribbean, near Aytí.’

‘Long way from home.’

‘Indeed, Sam-you-el. But I am tireless, as restless as de sea.’ His name sounded lyrical as it rolled off La Sirène’s tongue. ‘I ‘ave sisters, everywhere in de saltwater.’

‘Fair dinkum? I’ve been going to sea for nigh on thirty years now, and I’ve seen all sorts. Never caught nothing… I mean anyone like you.’

‘You are a fisherman, den.’ Her tone was sharp.

Sam could have sworn a flash of dusky maroon swept through her scales, like an angry flush.

‘Not for a while. I’m semi-retired, now, odd jobs and checking these nets for the DPI…’ He broke off when La Sirène gasped, as if she was short of breath. Her skin was suddenly dry and ashen, her scales dull. Shaky, she reached out to the ocean. Streams of saltwater shot up from the surface and wreathed around her arms, cascading down her body. Glistening wet, she was restored. She ran dripping hands through her hair and across her face.

‘There you go.’ Sam said as he pulled the last of the net away.

La Sirène summoned more saltwater and bathed her wounds. With a few muttered words in a language strange to Sam and an undulating gesture from her elegant hands, scales shuffled and migrated to cover the gashes. Soon, the only sign of her injuries was the navy stain of her blood in the bilge water. Her long muscles rippled as she flexed her tail.

‘Why do you set dese cruel traps, Sam-you-el, in da water where we live?’ Her fluke flicked.

‘Keep shark numbers down.’ Sam muttered. ‘Make the beaches safe.’

‘Safe?’ She flushed purple again. ‘’ow is ripping, tangling an’ drowning safe?’

‘Safe for swimmers. Umm, people I mean, not you fellas.’

‘You people,’ La Sirène spat the word like a curse ‘rule de land. Dere, too you destroy, an’ burn, an’ poison. Wit’out respect, wit’ no concern, your waste gushes into my domain.’

Here’s a turn up for the books. Sam smiled to himself. Seems like it’s the top half of a sheila that causes all the grief. Before he’d met this mermaid, he would have sworn that all the trouble that came, part and parcel, with a woman originated from parts lower down.

‘Sorry, love. Not much I can do about that.’ He’d never had much time for hippies and greenies and the like.

La Sirène smiled again, tossed her hair back over her shoulders to expose her breasts.

‘Dere be sumtin I ‘ave in mind for you to do, Sam-you-el.’ Her song swelled again.

Visions wreathed Sam’s mind. He could have sworn the full moon rose over her shoulders to stroke her skin and scales with silver shimmers. This struck him as odd, at half-past daybreak, but soon his confusion was quelled. When her mouth opened wide at the song’s crescendo, revealing three jagged incurving rows of dagger-like teeth, Sam smiled and leaned into her embrace. Then there was no will left in him, only the thrall.

Questions were asked, of course, when a tourist was taken by a three metre tiger shark off Yaroomba. In damage control mode, the authorities talked up the fact that he should have known better than to go swimming at an unpatrolled beach, but that was beside the point. Shark Control Program officers sent to check the lines and nets found the floats and anchors properly positioned. On the surface everything looked unexceptional - but all the nets had been neatly sliced away, the hooks cut off the drumlines. The DPI&F had some serious questions for Sam, but no-one could find him. Some months later his boat washed up on Castaways Beach. The outboard was operational and there was plenty of fuel. Sam’s equipment was neatly stowed. His logbook, protected from the elements in a plastic pouch, was neat and legible and recorded nothing out of the ordinary. The forensics mob was meticulous when they went over the boat but they came away not much the wiser. The silver-blue streaks on the hull, and the scattered sea-green scales found inside, were dismissed as irrelevant – just traces of bycatch.

Morgana is a Sunshine Coast writer. This short story was published in "Coasters", the Coolum Wave Writers' 2009 Anthology. Visit her blog to find out more.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Orca by Gabriell Bryden

Gabrielle Bryden's poem 'Orca' has recently been published in the online ezine Third Eye. You can read more from this Hervey Bay author at her blog.

‘Orca is one of those poems that pulls you in right from the start. The imagery is especially powerful. Not only that, but the rhythm is just right. Together, this is an irresistible combination. I understand your fascination with the juxtaposition of fear and awe. Power and beauty. Weakness and hope. Orca doesn’t come along every day. Please allow us to add this to the December edition of Third Eye. Our readers will be most excited!’

Tea Cosy Queen

Local author Loani Prior has just released her second book, Really Wild Tea Cosies. They are simply amazing. Visit her lovely blog and check it out.

Happy Campers by Annabel Candy

Recently I camped in Coolum and discovered a small community on the verge of extinction. So I chatted to them, took photos and wrote this story.

Coolum Campsite is a great place to stay in the heart of Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Set right on the beach away from the high rises, you can find a peaceful spot, hoist the Aussie flag over your tent and relax. I only stayed one night but I wish it'd been longer.

Stan's lived at Coolum Campsite for 16 years. He doesn't need to use the communal bathrooms or laundry facilities because he's got a permanent home here, surrounded by lush bromeliads, with space to air his laundry in private.Temporary residents abound, but permanent residents like Stan are a dying breed. Literally. Once you could buy a spot at Coolum Campsite, set up house and move in, but those days are over now. Another charming resident who moved to Coolum from Victoria 10 years ago, said a permanent spot at the campsite was the only housing option he could afford at the time.

I admired a tree, adorned with a twinkling kaleidoscope collection and an epiphyte that clings to it like a ruff. The epiphyte has doubled in size since he moved here, but property prices have grown faster. Apparently, 10 years ago a typical house in Coolum would have cost about $150,000. Now they're over $400,000.

All 32 permanent camp-site residents have injected their personality into their homes and maintain them meticulously. Only one house looks pleasingly ramshackle and seems to house an extended happy family. Never-the-less, permanent residents are being phased out. Most of them are elderly and when they die no one else will be allowed to set up a permanent home like theirs.

If you can, stop by and visit the permanent residents of Coolum Campsite. They're a friendly bunch, teetering on the brink of extinction and we'll never see their like again. Thank you for chatting to me Stan, and letting me take your photo. You seem such a happy man.

Annabel Candy is a local writer who has lived in Noosa since November 2008 and is here to stay. She is originally from the UK (many moons ago) and moved to Australia from New Zealand via Costa Rica. Her blog "Get in the Hotspot" contains a wealth of great reading. Check it out.

Livaboard 1 by Stafford Ray

As an infant, I loved all the rides,
The see-saw, the swing and the slides.
So now, on my mooring,
My life’s never boring.
I go up and down with the tides!

Stafford Ray lives aboard a yacht moored in Mooloolaba harbour.