Posted in Courses, Travel, Travel Writing

Travel Writing with Brisbane Writers Workshop

Travel Writing Tips

Last Sunday (17th March 2019), I attended The Art of Travel Writing with Brisbane Writers Workshop, run by the always amazing author, editor and director, Lauren Daniels.

It was my first travel writing workshop as I usually focus on fiction writing, but this time I wanted to branch out and learn how to put some of my travel experiences into stories and blogs. I wanted to learn how to write in a way that captures the imagination and inspires others to get out there and see the world too.

The workshop was small in numbers but big on inspiration and travel excitement.

I have to put a disclaimer right up front about my travel and writing. I confess I am not much of a traveller and so I am limited in my topic options, but am I?

I did go to the UK last year for the first time (if you read my blog regularly then you already know this) and I had so many amazing experiences which I still need to write about.

So, what did I learn and what can I share with you?

Here’s a limited list of travel writing tips inspired the travel writing workshop with Lauren Daniels, Brisbane Writers Workshop:

  • Go travelling and take notes – lots of notes. Take a note book, a voice recorder, shoot video and take photos. This will help bring back memories of the experiences you had while on your trip.
  • You’re not limited in your travel writing. Remember, you can write about your own home town and share your world with others who may want to visit your area.
  • Journalling is an important daily writing practice for anyone who wants to develop their writing voice. It is a place to go where you can be safe and say whatever you want without anyone casting judgement. Writing in a journal is about creating a practice (or habit) that gets your brain switched on and ready to dig deep for writing. It is also a fabulous opportunity for you to work on developing your writing voice which is important for all types of writing, from non-fiction to fiction.
  • Write about your experiences – the fantastic times, the hideous dark, and daring times because people love reading about how you handle the unexpected as well as the sweet.
  • Use imagery in your writing. I’ve written blogs here that haven’t delved into imagery as much as I could have. It’s a way of showing your reader where you are and giving them a taste of the place you are visiting without them actually being there. I’m going to keep working on putting vivid imagery and sense in to my travel stories.
  • Strive to be accurate in writing about places you visit. Remember there are a lot of people who love travelling and many will be familiar with the environment. It pays to double check facts and get nuances of your destination right.
  • You can structure your travel writing stories in different ways such as starting in the middle of an action scene where you set the tone of the stories to come. This travel piece can be from half way through your trip. Then you go back to the beginning of your trip and write from there up to this scene, then go beyond it. It’s one of a number of ways to structure your travel writing stories.

There were mountains of tips, tricks and ideas shared by Lauren Daniels and the participants. I was swept away with the travel ideas and itineraries of those who are planning round the world adventures myself.

We did writing exercises too. I had so much fun with one which was centred around the idea of: “I remember…” then start writing.

The prompt I chose was “Once, I got lost…”

I wrote this piece in long hand in my study journal and I wanted to share it here.


Once, in Oxford, I got lost.

Lunchtime had come around and my writing class had dispersed like ravens into the sky. The traffic hummed with cars, taxis and double-decker sight-seeing buses. Even in the overcast grey of the day, tourists sat on the top deck clicking with their camera phones.

A little lonely, I wandered down a side street admiring the old homes. I notices a security camera over a front door and thought nothing of it. But I should have thought more.

A right turn and down the lane a tiny church sat hunched over itself, surrounded by crooked grave stones with weather worn epitaphs.

It looked safe enough.

Tall trees loomed over the graves and I wandered down the winding path, snapping photos for my memory files.

The air around me stilled. Birds that had chirped stilled. Something unseen touched me, made me turn around.

Two men. Worn clothes. Shaggy beards.

They blocked the path and the entrance to the street.

I glanced right.

Where did the path go?

Was I trapped?

My heart tripped.

The men grew silent and drew closer.

No time to think. I clutched my phone, turned and rant to the back of the church, praying for a way out.

Relief flooded me. An open gate. My heart thundered in my ears. Fear pumped through my legs, giving me the super speed for my body to beat a path to the safety of the street.

I glanced back, heaving heavy breaths. They followed.

I swung right and ran for the main road.

I should have noted the security camera. I’d learned to value the signs.


When I wrote that piece, my heart tripped just as fast in my chest as it had the day that I’d been alone in that cemetery. It was my first trip to Oxford and I’d been having a great time, but I wanted some alone time. That day, I chose to wander on my own and even if they two men meant no harm, the experience still gave me a fright.

I made sure I stayed with people from the course from then on. I’d returned to my class with my heart pounding in my ears and my breath still heaving. My hands shook and I had to write a scene for my novel. It took all my focus to compartmentalise the experience I’d just had and do the writing exercise instead.

Oxford was still fantastic, but I was more aware of my surrounding than I had been before that event. I guess these experiences are part of the adventure of travelling.

Until next time, all the best with your writing, art and creative expression.

Posted in fiction, Journal, Paranormal, Sketches, Travel, Travel Writing, Water Colour, Water Colours

Art, Writing and Scotland

I’m circling back around to my arty side this year.

In recent years, I have taken a big break from painting and drawing. I needed a breather but now I have realised just how much I have missed my art practice.

So, I got myself a moleskine art journal (my first one) and have started sketching and water colour painting in it. I am totally inspired by author and illustrator Kate Knappe with her cute little birds, so you will see an image that I drew to honour her artistic expression in the photos below. If you see her work around – there are a lot of greeting cards with her artwork in Australia – do support her if you can and if you like the art of course.

I’m all for supporting living artists who can do with the dollars in their bank account so they can live life and continue to do what they love.

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This is a page from my new moleskin art journal with another little bird inspired by Kate Knappe. It also has an orb, inspired by a walk along the beach today.

Here is one of the pages out of my moleskine art journal.

I’m going through a reflective stage and wondering what I should do next?

Do I keep focusing on writing my novel and slogging away attempting to get it published?

Or do I study something? Something else? Should I study art? Should I study something that will help me in my day-job?

So many questions.

So much inner confusion.

I love art.

I love writing.

I love coaching.

I do enjoy learning but I am not sure what to do. What is next for me?

So this piece of artwork is a true reflection of the questions and confusion whirling around inside of me.

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This page of my art journal is a reflection of how intricately interconnected we all are.

At least, that’s how I see the world.

I have recently decided to sponsor two young girls through World Vision and, hopefully, make a difference for them and their community. I didn’t do this lightly. I feel very strong about young girls having the opportunity for a good education and waiting until a decent age to be married. It is my hope that my sponsor children and their community will embrace this opportunity to have more choices and be lifted up and out of poverty.

As I was drawing this image, I was thinking about my sponsor children and how we are worlds apart, both geographically and with regard to quality of life style and education and choices. But I believe that all beings are interconnected and there are threads that connect us. I believe that one act can have a multitude of effects. A lot of the time, I do not know the effect I have on people, but it is my hope that my effect is a positive one for all concerned.

So, I’m getting back into my art. I’m thinking about things outside of my fiction stories but I am still drawn to my writing. I love it.

I’m just not keen on editing.

Editing is hard work.

I’m not averse to hard work.

I just think I’m a bit creatively burned out at the moment.

But despite my burn out, I am still returning to The Living Death of Toddy James and day by day I am making editing progress. I’m up to chapter six so far. It’s a matter of small daily habits that add up to big changes.

I won’t give up. I’ll rest and I’ll refocus, and I will edit my novel. It takes grit and determination to get these things done.

Now, as promised, here are some more photos of my awesome UK holiday from last year.

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In the above collage, Dave and I went to Edinburgh and saw the city, Edinburgh Castle. We also visited a fabulous historic place called Torphichen Inn for dinner and a show.

Wow, what an amazing place. I was in love with the atmosphere, the friendly welcome and the life size cardboard cut out of Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, written by Diana Gabaldon. The ladies at our table were a little shocked at how excited I was to see the cardboard cut out, but I had only just finished listening to the audio book and watching the series, so in my mind, Jamie Fraser had come to life!

I still love David, but it was Jamie Fraser!

I think David was in love with Torphichen. I think he wanted to immigrate and live there for the rest of his life. It was green and homey. The Torphichen Inn was filled with friendly people and the services was excellent. We had haggis. I actually ate some and David had a bowl-full.

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The photo above is the Torphichen Inn.

The show had bag pipes, singing and excellent hospitality. I truly loved Torphichen and felt very warmly welcomed.

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We saw the Kelpies sculptures several times as the bus took us from the hotel to Edinburgh and back on our visit. They were spectacular and it was the first time I’d heard that Kelpies were shape-shifting water spirits that take people and drown them. As an Australian, when I hear the word ‘kelpie’ I think of a type of dog, so this revelation was endlessly entertaining to all of the Aussies on the bus.

Dave and I also visited the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book – OMG, I almost wet myself with excitement. It’s called The Elephant House. We had coffee and cake and then we entered the toilets which were completely covered in Harry Potter fan scribblings. It was surreal. I didn’t like the way people wrote all over the toilets. It was oppressive. I think being a fan is great, but defacing property falls outside of my boundaries for appropriate ways to show adoration.

Anyway, of course, I had to buy a mug to remind me of this special opportunity to dine in cafe where one of the most famous writers of today did her plotting, characterisation and writing. I was hoping some of her inspiration and determination to finish writing would rub off on me. I’m still hopeful.

In the photos above, you can see us at The Elephant House.

We also visited Greyfriars Bobby where this little loyal dog is honoured and remembered. This church was fabulous, but for those who enjoy a bit of ghost hunting and paranormal thrills, I have to say there was a crypt there that gave me the shivers.

It’s the circular one with the dome roof. It had two doors with square windows made of wrought iron. I was too scared to get too close to this one. I kept getting the shivery sense that something was inside watching me. My writer’s imagination went wild, wild, wild with exciting ideas for creating paranormal wonder in my stories from this experience!

Okay, for my last Scottish highlight, here’s a super short video where Dave and I went hunting for the Loch Ness Monster and caught a glimpse!

Happy creativity whether you write, dance, make art or create music. Whatever you do, I hope it brings you joy and happiness.

Posted in Travel, Travel Writing

The Tower of London

Oh my goodness, I have so much to share with you but I haven’t had access to wifi for a while, so these updates are going to come well after the actual dates. But I hope this glimpse into my UK trip inspires your imagination as much as it does mine.

Last week when my partner flew over to London, we took some time to tour around and see the sights. One of the sights we went to was the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and many other gruesome things happened.

I took some time walking through the tower and observing all the armour displays. Below are some of the photos I took.

Selina at the Tower of London
Selina at the Tower of London

That’s me (above) and behind me is a wall of armour. It was a great room to visit and very surreal.

Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London

I also took time to see the Crown Jewels and appreciate the magnificence of workmanship that went into each piece. This was a great afternoon in London. Funny to say that since it was a place that has known such gruesome historical events.

I have to say, that I am not a historian, but my visit to the UK has been helping me to develop a deeper interest in learning more about history.

Also, learning about life in a castle is so helpful for my fantasy fiction story that I worked on during my week with David Farland. The course went really well and I met some fantastic authors – all with excellent story ideas. I’m very much looking forward to seeing each of them published in their chosen genre.

I will try to update my blog as I go, but as I said above, the wifi isn’t always reliable.

Today, I am in the Scottish highlands. I’ll write about that another day.

Posted in Children's Stories, Courses, Creative Writing, creativity, fiction, Fiction Writing Courses, Travel Writing

Creative Writing Courses 2017 in Brisbane, Australia

400dpiLogoI love sharing creative writing tips and when quality courses come along, I want to share them with you.

If you’re based in Brisbane and have been looking for a group of creative writers that will help you to develop your skills, I recommend checking out Brisbane Writers Workshop courses.  They will help you to develop valuable writing skills and inspire your creative ideas and develop them into stories.

Brisbane Writers Workshop courses are kept small to meet your needs and their presenters are experts in their fields with current publishing and editing experience.

So, I thought I’d share their 2017 schedule of courses which I put up on Weekend Notes.

Check out this mini-trailer above to see what the classes are like. This was the Fiction Blitz class from 2016 but it’ll give you a great idea of how cosy and cool the Brisbane Writers Workshop classes are.

Here’s the brief list of the courses on offer from April through to September 2017:

Intro to Creative Writing: Light Your Fire [4 Seats Left]
Saturday, 8 April: 2.30-5pm; Sun, 9 April: 10am-2.30pm

Intro to Creative Writing: Light Your Fire will inspire you to begin work on your creative story ideas.  Sometimes you have a piece of the puzzle of your story whirling around inside your head and may need a little help getting it to bloom. You may want to work on developing your author’s voice or want to understand the basics of story structure.  If that’s where you’re at, then this intro course will be a great start.

This course will give you the foundation information and inspiration to get cracking on your story!

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Spike your skills with this small-group course presented by Lauren Daniels. Developed for those with a desire to push ideas into more workable drafts, this course provides the petrol and the launch pad. Practice literary techniques, play with writing exercises, and build upon your strengths. Explore common issues from strengthening focus and omitting purple prose, to the crafting solid scenes with a focused perspective and an authentic, active voice.

Speculative Fiction: Myths & Madness [Filling Up!]
Saturday, 27 May: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 28 May: 10am-2.30pm

Speculative Fiction: Myths & Madness is going to be an course filled with ghost, ghouls, vampires and characters inspired by the myths of the world.  I can’t wait to go to this course. I enrolled the minute I found out about it.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Got ectoplasm on your laptop and fire-breathing carnies on the brain? Got Rowling, Gaiman, Rice, King, Bradbury and Tolkien on your shelf?

While the term ‘speculative fiction’ dawned in the 20th century, the angle of alternative and inventive angles that synthesise magic realism with the supernatural dates back to Euripides and Shakespeare.

Our challenge is to bypass the cliche and stay fresh. If you need some support from savvy editor/authors who love this genre as much as you do, join us…

Travel Writing: Articles to Books
Sat, 3 June: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 4 June: 10am-2.30pm

Travel Writing: Articles to Books is a course for those who love to travel and write stories about your experience.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
With a travel writer and editor as your guide, join this expedition into one most the most popular of genres. The itinerary includes resources, publishing tips and how to highlight your experiences in a marketable fashion as short pieces of writing for periodicals as well as full-length works.  Travel adventure and disaster tales welcome.  Beginners to advanced writers will create this supportive atmosphere. Trade trekking insights and tips with like-minded friends.

Polish & Publish: The Insider’s Guide
Sat, 15 July: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 16 July: 10am-2.30pm

Polish & Publish: The Insider’s Guide is a course filled with tips on how to bring your writing up to publication standard.  I had a very positive experience when I attended this course. It was brilliant and kicked off a second rewrite on my own novel.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Bring up to 2000 words of your writing to collect gentle and constructive feedback, discover your strengths, define opportunities for improvement, and get the inside scoop on publishing.  This course will enhance your writing and you’ll be inspired by passionate industry pros to join the ranks of writers who take these workshops and get published. At the Polish & Publish workshop you’ll feel empowered to edit your own work with verve and learn how to run productive writing groups.

In Character: Archetypes to the Enneagram
Sat, 19 August: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 20 August: 10am-2.30pm

In Character: Archetypes to the Enneagram is a brilliant course!  When I went to this course I learned so much about how to  integrate archetypes into my characters. And I learned how to use the Enneagram to further develop my characters personalities. It was an awesome experience. If you’re receiving feedback that your characters are two dimensional, then I recommend getting along to this course.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Examine character through an array of lenses including Carl G. Jung’s archetypes, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey motif, and the personality model of the Enneagram as exemplary creative tools in character and plot development. Read excerpts and experiment with character styles. Explore the concept of identity as you track what makes good characters great. Join author/editors Lauren Daniels, Josh Brockbank and Geneve Flynn for lively discussions, writing exercises, morning and afternoon teas.

Writing for Children & Adolescents: Picture Books through YA
Sat, 16 September: 3-5.30pm; Sun, 17 September: 10am-2.30pm

Writing for Children & Adolescents: Picture Books through YA is yet another course I’ve attended with BWW.  It was another excellent quality course filled with relevant information for authors seeking to write for children and YA.

It is amazing how much work goes into creating a picture book. And children are a tough audience, so the insights I received from the editors were pure gold.

Here’s the blurb from BWW on this course:
Meet with a team of editors — Anna Bartlett and Lauren Daniels — and award-winning, guest author Janet Reid to glean tips on what children’s and young adult [YA] publishers seek and how to prepare professional submissions. Find out about good storytelling techniques for young readers and how to earn the regard of this tough audience.

To find out more about the Brisbane Writers Workshop courses, check out their website.

Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for liking my posts too.

Happy creative writing!