The Melbourne Writers’ Social Group

Sunset on the first night I attended the writers' group

I took this photo a few weeks ago with my iphone, on one of the nights I attended the writers’ group

I head off on my big UK writing journey in a few weeks (nervous eek) and I hope to tell you a bit about the various writerly events I manage to get to, whenever I get the chance. But before I go, I thought I might tell you a little about a writer’s group that regularly meets in my hometown of Melbourne — the Melbourne Writers’ Social Group. Good name, eh? I mean, I especially like the ‘social’ in it.

I mentioned this group in my last post (I took the sunset pic at that time — the group before last).

The group meets fortnightly on a Tuesday at the Wharf Hotel, which is down by the Yarra River, and it’s free to join. (The Wharf Hotel is in the darkness on the very right of that above sunset pic.) It’s easy to join too: simply log into Meetup (or sign up to it, if you haven’t already), and ask to join. Once you’re accepted, do an RSVP for the next group you would like to get along to, and once you’re actually there, participate at whatever level you would like. (See you there!) Here’s the group’s main Meetup link.

Wharf Hotel

Wharf Hotel (sort of sandwiched in there)

The Melbourne Writers’ Social Group is a busy group with a variety of events for you to choose from (or go to the lot, if you want, and have the energy). The group is co-hosted by Geoff Stuart and Mat Clarke, two guys who are clearly in it to support good writing in ol’ Melbourne town.

The group has what they call The Flagship Event (perhaps it began here, back in 2009?), which is the Tuesday evening social gathering where readings are shared and informal feedback is given — more on the flagship event here. It’s the thing that I’ve been getting along to. We had a great turn up last week — 16 all up by my reckoning. As Autumn is truly upon us, we met indoors for the first time this year.

Philip - long-time group member

Philip, long-time group member

They also have the Writing Time group, where writers spend time quietly writing together, and then chat about what they’ve been working on afterwards. I’ve yet to get along, but it sounds great. Apparently the table is wobbly but the cheesecake makes up for it. They meet at the Cafe Giraffe — it’s worth getting along just for that name! This group used to be their NaNoWriMo group, for those in the know about that. More on it here.

They also have a public Facebook page here. Plus two closed Facebook groups, which you can join once you become a member and start participating. One of these closed groups is for critiquing written work (treading carefully on each other’s dreams, naturally).

I think that’s it? Oh, they also organise the odd one-off event, perhaps based around one member’s activity or a guest speaker opportunity. I told you they were busy!

So, if you’re a Melbourne-based writer — here’s a group to think about. But if you live in New York, Bangkok or Mykonos, well, it’s still interesting to hear how writers can support each other in different places. And perhaps there are some ideas here that you might like to try out in your own neck of the woods.

But — you know what? — in the end what really makes a writers’ group worthwhile is the writer membership. And so I will close this post by introducing you to a few excellent members from last week’s Tuesday meetup…

Billy

Billy

Billy read to us from his — to put it in his words — ‘memoirs of his misspent youth’.

Kelvin

Kelvin

Kelvin read from his published epic sci-fi. He is currently working on his second sci-fi novel.

Geoff Stuart

Geoff Stuart

Geoff Stuart is a co-host of the group (along with Mat Clarke who couldn’t make it last week). He read a short piece. He is currently working on a speculative fiction novel and a series of short stories in the ‘drama’ genre.

Andrew

Andrew

Andrew is currently working on a sci-fi musical, along the lines of Jeff Wayne’s exciting musical rendering of HG Well’s War of the Worlds, but in the metal genre. Sounds very cool.

Nick

Nick

Nick recently spent a month in Paris and read from his journal notes about that time, focussing on his hilarious airbnb accommodation experiences (names changed to protect the innocent).

Christie

Christie

Christie is writing a sequel to her published Red Dirt Road (which comes with an album of songs). The follow-up is a love story inspired by her experiences as a musician. (Doesn’t the picture look like a polaroid? Looks great.)

Ivan

Noel Anderson

Noel Anderson was the first to read on the night. He spoke eloquently about his new play and read from the script. The play is called Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame: In the Raw and is currently on at the Jewish Museum of Australia. Here’s a link if you’d like to find out more.

With so many great participants, I didn’t get to read at all. But it was terrific to hear about the projects of others and to contribute feedback on works in progress. And there’s always next time.

(I think my iPhone pics have turned out quite nicely, don’t you think? All personal pics used with permission — but just weigh in by clicking on ‘Leave a reply’ below, if one of them is of you, and you’ve all-of-a-sudden changed your mind now that you’ve seen it.)

Giraffe cafe

Flying high on Wattpad

wattpad-reviewWattpad, the social media site for readers and writers, began featuring Beneath the Surface on Wednesday, 7 January and a week later Beneath the Surface reached eighth position in Wattpad’s top 1,000 of their Fantasy chart — and I’ve received over 600 votes and many comments.

It was extraordinary to watch. Every time I refreshed my browser more votes magically appeared. I found it amazing to think that while I sat at my computer screen, about the world people were sitting before their screens, reading my writing. And many voting and commenting.

So — forgive me! — I want to share two of these with you. I’ll be quick, I promise. 🙂

There are so many wonderful comments I could tell you about, but I’m singling out these two, both received yesterday, as I like how they respond toBeneath the Surface the story more broadly, not just at the chapter level. I received the first in the morning, the second at the end of the day. So I was on a high all day!

The first, from a London reader, has commented after reading Pt.1, which takes the reader through to the beginning of the adventure. Here it is, I’ve cut-and-pasted it in…

Wattpad feedback 1 (1)

You can find it at the bottom of chapter 7 here.

What more could you possibly hope for in a reader’s response? Hooked into the story. Loves the main character. Compares my writing style to a favourite book. Wow. Thank you! I don’t know Jenny Downham’s book, but I’ll sure be seeking it out.

And here’s the second quote I would like to share with you. All I will say about it is, this is my very first response from anyone anywhere regarding my book as a whole, so, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s feedback of critical importance…

Wattpad feedback 2

You can find that one at the bottom of the very last chapter, Chapter 95.

The comments and votes are still coming in. And — human that I am! — I remain apprehensive as I click open each and every one of them.

Thank you all, for your votes and comments of endorsement for my little fantasy novel about an unwell boy who enters a world beneath his garden. And thank you for permitting me this moment of pride in telling you how things are travelling for Beneath the Surface. Which I will end now.

Except to say, Beneath the Surface will be available to read in its complete form on Wattpad for a limited period. The story starts here.

I have been busy on Wattpad

wattpad-review

I have been busy on something called Wattpad (not absolutely sure why it’s called that, but there you go). And at last I’m back and writing a post about it.

Wattpad is a Canadian-based online reading and writing community that has been around since 2006. And it’s a very busy place! Many are there as readers, but many others are also posting their own writing efforts — articles, stories, poems… And you are able to comment and like stories or join discussion groups.

 Just who is on Wattpad?

wattpad3

I have been dabbling on Wattpad for a few months now and it’s quite clear that most users — readers and writers alike — are women. Though I have come across men too, including a male video game designer. And many are teenagers. It’s terrific that so many young people are keen to explore their writing abilities. There are many good story ideas and I’ve spotted some pretty impressive writing.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are plenty of stories written in the young adult romance genre, though sci-fi and fantasy seem very well represented too. I have also come across a fair bit of  fanfic, which I have to admit I am not so keen on. I am not that interested in reading imaginary stories about members of One Direction or about Justin Bieber. However, if someone on Wattpad grows into a great writer through writing about their favorite pop stars — that’s fine by me! (And besides, if the story’s good enough — they can always alter the characters a bit later.)

What have I been doing on Wattpad?

keep-calm-and-write-stories-on-wattpadMy main reason for being on Wattpad right now is to establish a presence with those who may be interested in my writing, i.e. young adult readers into sci-fi and fantasy. My hope is, if I establish some kind of presence on Wattpad, I can upload the draft of my next book there first. If I’m lucky, I may attract some interest in the story and receive some useful feedback prior to publication. Hence, maybe I can use Wattpad as a giant feedback workshop.

To gain some visibility before I introduce my next book, I have so far uploaded one short story, MotherCraft, which currently has just over a thousand reads, and I am in the process of uploading my first published novel, EleMental: A first-person Shooter. I am up to Chapter 20 in that book, so only 10 chapters to go. It currently has a little over 4,000 reads.

Just on this ‘read’ business, by the way, before you get too impressed. I doubt very much if over five thousand have assiduously read the short story and novel chapters I have uploaded to Wattpad. It’s all software-based counting remember. It has no idea what the ‘reader’ is really doing. But at least they’ve had a peek, eh? No matter how fleetingly. And some have gone on to read it, surely. (Tell me that’s true!)

When I have put all of EleMental on Wattpad, I will effectively be offering the ebook version of that first novel of mine for free through Wattpad. I will then make it free elsewhere also, and upload the first few chapters of MonuMental, my sequel to EleMental.

How to get to Wattpad

keep-calm-and-wattpad-on-3Here’s where you will find more info about Wattpad (complete with a Margaret Atwood endorsement): About Wattpad.

And here’s one of Wattpad’s many writers writing about how to use Wattpad (she gets 14 votes):  Wattpad instructions.

And here’s where you will find my Wattpad page: my exciting page on Wattpad.

Or you can go straight to a story:

  • MotherCraft – A father leaving home can be painful at anytime. Leaving the planet, doubly so.
  • EleMental – The future. It’s all about friendship, young love … and dangerous video games.

Keep on Wattpadding!

Steven O’Connor writes young adult fiction. His writing is influenced by Douglas Adams, CS Lewis, Tolkien and just about every sci-fi and fantasy film and TV show you could possibly think of. His ebooks EleMental: A First-person Shooter and MonuMental: The Hack’s Back are available through Amazon. (Just Google ‘Amazon’ and ‘Steven O’Connor’ to see). You may also like checking him out at one of his hangouts:

Website ¦ Wattpad ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook 

Springing into action

Springing into action

A dandelion caught springing into action

In the part of the world I live in, it’s spring – and I’m springing into action. For starters, I’ve given my website a dammed good spring cleaning, I hope you like it. I’m poised to throw myself into the next draft of my new book – admittedly, I’ve been poised to do that for a while. And I have a brand new little reading for you.

(By way of a wild aside, I even have a brand new wheelie bin out in the back garden in the carport. The garbos broke my last one through all that macho-garbo rough-handling of wheelie bins as they race ahead of the garbage trucks – no doubt an apt description of garbos everywhere. The lid fell off and went into the truck’s compactor along with the garbage. But enough about garbos and wheelie bins and this wild aside.)

I will tell you more about the drafting of my work in progress in a later post. Suffice to say, I will be delving into my time as an HIV/AIDS social worker, and I plan is to stop using MSWord and give something called Scrivener a go. Exciting.

Right now though, I’d like to present my next little reading to you. These little readings are my own worked-up recordings (so be nice) of short scenes from my writing. Personally speaking, and this really is only personal, I prefer to read from a book myself, rather than listen to a story read aloud by someone else –  a hired actor or the author. Especially if it goes on for a while. But I do like the idea of short snappy scenes combined with a bit of a fun soundtrack. Hence my efforts to grasp Ableton audio software – software that can be boggling, but also a great deal of fun.

The passage I have chosen for this treatment is from the first chapter of EleMental and I’ve called it ‘Focus on the V’gaming’, the opening sentence of the passage. It describes the character Zeb starting up his Magnum 50, a virtual games (v’games) console. When I do a school visit or other presentation, I often choose this passage because I enjoy describing how a v’game kicks in. (And now, I can also play them this little audio treatment.)

For those interested, I have added the words further below. Don’t forget to like it. Hopefully you will. You can also add a comment if you feel seized by the moment to say something (nice).

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/108766844″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Focus on the v’gaming

Focus on the v’gaming. There was nothing like it. The real world could go suck.

He booted his door shut, kicked some strewn clothes out of the way and crouched before his Magnum 50, which sat on an old plastic crate near his bed. He hit the small switch on its face and waited. When nothing happened, he slapped it. ‘Wake up!’ he growled.

A dull red light flickered and a square opened at the console’s center, gaping like a hungry mouth. Digging deep into his bag, he seized the v’game. He drew it out, removed the shiny black cube from its packaging and fed it into the console.

Jumping up, Zeb dragged his bedroom’s dusty curtains closed, cutting out all light from the real world.

‘Attention Magnum,’ he said. ‘Seal room for sound and start game.’

A groaning sound like the bending of steel engulfed him, and the floor shuddered as a complete street scene wrenched into existence, materializing beneath his feet and stretching out on all sides.

He let his gaze wander, turning a full circle and taking it all in.

It was a bright, virtual version of a sunny day. A deserted street. Early century by the looks of things. Something like 2013 – his parents would have been kids. He squinted in the light, searching for signs of enemy activity.

(From chapter 1: ‘Attention Game’ of EleMental: A First-person Shooter.)

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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Part 2 – Talk about it. Shout about it. Live it!

This is the second of my guest posts written for Silk Screen Views. I was invited by Silk Screen Views to write about my journey as a writer. Central to this post is a reflection on my family’s migration to the outer suburbs of an industrial town in Australia and the impact that had on my ambitions to write.

You can check it out here.

And, as I said yesterday, while you’re there, don’t forget to have a look around the rest of Silk Screen Views’ beautiful website.

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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Part 1 – How I decided I wanted to be a writer

 I am guesting on the up and coming website Silk Screen Views. In my first post I talk about my decision to be a writer in my childhood (momentous world decision that it was!).

You can check it out here

And while you’re there, have a look around the rest of Silk Screen Views’ beautiful website!

 

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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Little Readings

I’m proud to present to you what I’ve come to call in my mind, ‘little readings’. This is the very first – my bash at an audio recording of a reading. I’ve dug up an old poem from the murky recesses of my computer’s hard drive and I’m pushing it forward as the guinea pig.

To create the recording, I’m currently grappling with some audio software called Ableton Live. It’s pretty cool stuff. DJs such as Deadmau$ use it.  But it’s complex too. Well, for me it is. I tried a few different ideas, but the one that I like the best is this one. It has some rhythm behind it to support the words. I particularly enjoyed that aspect of the creative process. I used some random notes from some favorite songs, but the overall rhythm is mine.

So without further ado, I’d like to share with you my first-and-only attempt so far. A short, post apocalyptic sci-fi poem called ‘Earth’s Last Inhabitant Walks Out’. (Don’t forget to like it. Hopefully you will!)

I have set up a specific page on my website for my little readings, and I’ve included the poem’s lines (or lyrics?) there, in case you want to follow what I’m reading. The Little Readings webpage is here.

Little Readings - Ship in the sky.

Little Readings – Ship in the sky.

And I have also set up a twitter page (@LittleReadings) which you can visit here.

If you have any little readings of your own, or you decide to make one, be sure to let me know. I’d love to tweet about it too. You can use my words, from one of my books, or your own words. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a short reading and you keep it G rated!

I hope you like my reading. I’m looking forward to creating another one.

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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