Australia Day – Are You Proud?

The 26th of January 1788 saw the First Fleet land at Sydney Cove to begin the European colonisation of Australia. We mark that date with a public holiday every year – it is a chance to celebrate with our friends and family what we think it means to be Australian. BBQ’s in the backyard, pool parties, alcohol, cricket, and JJJ’s Hottest 100 are recurring elements from almost every one of my Australia Day celebrations, but unfortunately I didn’t have any lamb this year…

I’m not sure what it is but for some reason, Australia Day seems to bring out both the best and worst in people. From the Kalgoorlie race riots in 1938 through to yesterdays semi-violent protests, Australia Day seems to be used as an excuse to incite violence against those who are deemed “unaustralian”. It is disappointing that we continue to see this race issue crop up year after year, and pictures like this give an impression to the world of what it’s really like to live here:

This from a high profile media personality

An attack on the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader

The Australian flag cape is a nice touch...

And if you look closely at his boxer shorts...

It is actions like this that tarnish Australia Day for everyone. When we look at them we question whether or not we are proud to be Australian because people act like this in the name of Australia.

Am I proud to be Australian? Of course I am. We do so much good as a nation and it is those actions we should acknowledge and be proud of. Our professionals are leading the world in a bunch of different fields, are economic strength has allowed us to provide generous support to struggling nations in this time of financial crisis, and for the most part we are just a bunch of people lucky enough to live in a country where we can take a day off to BBQ some lamb and listen to some music.

Not all images from Australia day are bad, and I will leave you with one of my favourites – my nephew gearing up to celebrate what it means to be an Aussie.

Proud to be Australian

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Writing Awesome Stories – Five Sources Of Advice For Aspiring Writers

I’m still very new to the whole “writing fiction” business. It’s something I have always wanted to do ever since I was a young voracious reader who thought he could come up with better ideas than some of the ones he read. Just learning the process of writing fiction has been a massive eye opener for me, and the thought of writing a novel looks far more daunting when the target is more than 70,000 words away. Why 70,000 words… well that just seems like a good size.

Not bad for $10.00 per hour

So having not taken any official courses on creative writing, the knowledge base I have built up has been based on collections of writing advice provided by many of my favourite authors around the entire globe. It’s not formal, it might not be the best, but I figure that if I want to write a novel and get it published then I should probably be listening to the people who make a living writing novels and getting them published. Below is a list of my five favourite sources of advice on writing. If you are an aspiring author then you should definitely check them out and see if you can apply their advice to your own writing.

1. Writing Excuses – This podcast hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor and Mary Robinette Kowal has been the one source that has taught me the most about writing over the past twelve – eighteen months. Each episode is a 15 minute discussion about a specific aspect of writing, with each host adding to the discussion from their own wealth of knowledge and experience. If you want to become a fiction writer then I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough.

2. Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nation – This collection of articles written by Larry Correia are of the anti-literature bent and aimed towards those people who want to tell a fun story without any regard for literary rules. His advice is plain and simple, it is all about giving you the best information on writing a story that will entertain fans and make you money.

3. Dan Wells’ Writing A Short Story – I know I have already mentioned Dan Wells with Writing Excuses, but his series of blog posts on how to write a short story fundamentally changed my approach to constructing a story. The whole “Seven Point Structure” thing he talks about struck a chord with me, more so that the traditional “three-act” process, and I now find using this new structure that I can outline an entire story based on a simple idea in a matter of minutes. Dan also presented his “Seven Point Structure” as a lecture, which was filmed and uploaded onto YouTube, and I find it works as a great companion to the blog posts.

4. John Brown and Larry Correia’s How To Write A Story That Rocks – This is a two hour seminar, delivered by Larry Correia and acclaimed fantasy action writer John Brown, with both going through their methods for extracting maximum entertainment out of an idea. While both authors have a very similar world view, John Brown brings a lot more balance to the arguments while Larry Correia is driven by impulse and passion. This seminar is a great tool if you want to learn about how to write action.

5. Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing – This podcast hosted by Shaun Farrell, Moses Siregar and Brent Bowen is great for those who have written their novels and are now looking at the process of getting published. Each episode they interview an author, editor or agent from the sci-fi/fantasy genre and they always seem to get some great stories and anecdotes about the publishing process as a whole. I would recommend any episode featuring Lou Anders or Michael Stackpole.