Category: Community


Hi there,

it’s been a busy couple of months with the end of the financial year, so I haven’t been here much. Work has been hectic as we are putting together the pilot of a new food program for marginalized and disadvantaged youth to kick off in late August which has taken a lot of extra work. Plus there was the whole end of financial year and a visit from the big boss from the US in June.

On a writing front, the value of taking a few months off the manuscript has become apparent. I went back with fresh eyes and did another edit a week ago and, suddenly, the Stairway had another set of steps. Since it was originally “finished” Stairway to Heathen has grown by about 10,000 words and undergone some significant changes.

It is onto its third prologue (the others appearing in different places throughout the novel) and some scenes have been cut to be taken up in book two – Heaven Scent. There are lots of little seeds which are planted for future novels but which hopefully don’t take away from the enjoyment should this be a one off. Most of them are asides mentioned in passing or characters who intersect with the leads who will return in more significant roles down the track.

I actually mapped out a plot line for seven books but am working on a one-three-many arc. In others words, while every book should be able to be picked up and read as a standalone novel, book one is complete with the story coming to a natural conclusion. Book three will bring another conclusion to some dangling plot threads and wider arc. Future books set in the same universe will play with some of the bigger issues as the characters grow and people become more familiar with them.

One of the strange things about editing is the loss of perspective. I now see the words but, because I have lived and tweaked them for so long, it can be difficult to tell if they are any good. Which is where beta readers come in. The trick with good beta readers is to hopefully have a variety with different talents. For example, one person I know is good at going through the novel looking for typos. Another is reading it to see if it makes sense (and hopefully to tell me whether it does the basics of a book – holds the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting more).

You don’t want too many beta readers (and VHS ones, while more numerous, don;t have the same quality). The trick like Goldilocks and porridge is find exactly the right amount.

I let you know when I do.

Cheers,
Damon

Working life and writing

Howdy,

The next few months are going to be critical ones in my job. The non-profit I work for is looking for new corporate sponsors and is developing a range of programs to ensure its growth and future. Despite what some people want to believe, money is an essential part of working for a charity and there is never enough of it.

We are running our Winter Appeal at the moment (see the Feed the Children Australia links below on this page) and the stress of needing this to succeed bleeds into every part of my life.

This is a full-time commitment (taking up many hours a day as well as weekends). And it is something that lies dormant in my mind, leaping to the forefront at times when I should be doing something else. The need to do a good job isn’t restricted to normal working hours.

Which sounds a lot like writing. I’m doing the latest round of edits to a manuscript. Ideas and fixes will pop into my mind while I drive, shower, watch tv, eat, or any one of a thousand non-writing related activities.

The difference is that my job pays me money and my writing (at the moment) doesn’t. And even if I were to sign a novel contract today it would hardly be enough to live off. Thus, like many authors, I need to work and write.

The dilemma is that I can’t do two full jobs and have a family and not be a nervous wreck (you mean, I’m not now) so the writing suffers. It is always there but there are times when I have to summon the courage to banish it to the “I will do later” bin.

I can cross my fingers and hope that the big contract will come through – both for work and writing – but like so many people before me I have to make choices. How other writers cope with these dilemmas make for interesting reading. But at the end of the day I can only live my life, can only make the sacrifices I am prepared to make for myself and my family.

So, to any other writers out there, I offer you my heartfelt best wishes. This is a challenging obsession we have biting at our minds.

And to any charity or non-profit workers out there, I hope you find the support you ned to help other people.

And, to anyone who can, please make a donation to the Feed the Children Australia Winter Appeal or even just a normal donation through the website.

Thanks,

Damon

Community Groups and Cash

Hi there,

When I’m not writing, I work as the Business Development officer with Feed the Children Australia (FTCA). This is both a rewarding and, at times, challenging job. Not because of the pain and suffering you see when you go to help but because many people are all too willing to close their eyes and pretend that Australia doesn’t have a problem with nutrition.

This is despite reports of up to 30% of children going to school without breakfast. And that is across the whole country. In some rural areas or in the lower socio-economic regions, the figures are truly frightening.

As a relatively new organisation within Australia (Feed the Children has been operating for more than 30 years internationally) , finding traction amongst the huge number of people trying to help society continue to function is something we have worked hard to do.  FTCA is a great believer in partnerships and working with local communities to deliver local solutions.

It is a truism that charity and community organisations are an essential part of ensuring our society functions.

One of the unforeseen consequences of the GFC is that many people are no longer prepared or able to donate money. They are willing to give time and goods but the cold, hard cash is drying up unless you are one of the big five charities.

Which is a shame because all the other community groups still need to pay the rent. Insurance companies don’t accept goods in kind and the bank wasn’t supporting a barter system last time I looked.

So this is a plea for people to help support our Winter Appeal (http://www.gofundraise.com.au/FRPView.aspx?fid=59561). This link takes you to a special page designed to track how much we have received in donations to date.

To find out more about FTCA and what we do visit our website, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (see the links below). If you have great ideas on getting the message out there, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line or leave a comment. I’ll be posting about donation and fundraising ideas and opportunities here as well as my writing.

A big thank you to everyone and anyone who does support either FTCA or one of the many worthwhile community groups in Australia. I’ll try not to preach too much while I’m here.

Cheers,

Damon