It’s a Giveaway!

It’s giveaway time over at Goodreads. Enter to win a copy of Floating Upstream – a real, flick-the-pages-with-your-fingers copy that you can dog ear, cry onto, underline and the rest of it.

For your chance to win one of three copies, head over to Goodreads. PLUS All winners will also receive a usb stick filled with music that inspired the book. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Floating Upstream by Jo Vraca

Floating Upstream

by Jo Vraca

Giveaway ends October 05, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

A thousand million years ago

A thousand million years ago I ran away from home (for the second time out of four) and took up a room in Geelong. Pretty sure it was a big old rooming house with 9 other women (also pretty sure this is one of the reasons why I could never be a lesbian, besides not being one, whatever).  So anyway, I was at Deakin Uni and one of my classes was called “Narrative Studies” or something (this was 1987!) and a woman called Ania Walwicz came to our class and got us to do some weird-ass writing that changed my life.

One hour for a life-changing experience.

Ania had us do some stream-of-consciousness writing, something I’d never heard of. Yet it was life changing.

A few years later, I came across Ania again in a writing class at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and had coffee with her at the Black Cat on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, and visited her home. Ania believed in my writing before I did.

Many many years later, I took a class at Melbourne University with Karen Burnes. Karen had me do a reading at a bar on Brunswick street. Karen believed in my writing before I did.

I still don’t believe in my writing, because that’s weird, and presumptuous.

Anyway, I’m publicly launching my book next week, the one I started as a short story during Karen Burnes’s class 15 years ago. I’ve connected with a few people from that time, who read my stuff, people like Rachel Matthews and Peggy Frew. They believed in my writing before I did.

I’ll believe in my writing some day. 

Here’s some of Ania Walwicz’s writing. She’s such a rad spoken word artist, and I believe in her.
 

David Bowie, Therapy, and Live Music

What a freaking week! I LOVE change. Change is also pretty overwhelming. Right now, I have change-a-million (and a cat crawling over me).

So let’s ignore that fluff and look at David Bowie. I heart Bowie’s music. Until tonight I thought I hearted Bowie. Period. After visiting the much hyped Bowie Is Now exhibition at ACMI in Melbourne tonight, I learned that I really just love the music, not the artist. Is that even possible?

Can you love the music but not the performance?

Friday nights at the Bowie show, ACMI is putting on some live shows, and tonight I got to see a favourite of mine, Jen Cloher, with Courtney Barnett (on guitar) – talk about all of my girl crushes in one room!

The band wore black.

The band was noisy.

It made me think hard about the avant-guard-ness of Bowie’s performance art-ed-ness.

That’s why I’m more Lou Reed than David Bowie.

I like artists who just tell it like it is.

I still love Bowie’s music.

I just don’t care for Bowie’s costumes or performances.

But I love this.

Can it be true?

Researching my favourite songs of the 70s for a mix-tape I’m giving away with my book at my upcoming launch and re-discovered this one. Just saying. I remember this song, and it made it to #11 of the Australian Music Charts in 1974. #11!!!


READ IT OUT LOUD

Holy Shitballs!

Tonnes of writing advice tells us that we should read our writing out loud to see how it feels and reads. Let me tell you what’s better than reading your writing out loud – getting someone else to read your writing out loud. To that end, last night, during my husband’s weekly Art Night, I asked my little cousin to read to me a new poem I wrote over the weekend. Wow! The kid is so sweet, so when she read back my I HATE poem, it was truly something. Here it is. Read it out loud or down low. I don’t mind.

I hate the rain
I hate umbrellas
I hate the sunlight when I’ve forgotten my glasses
I hate parents who scream at their children
And let them run around my table.
I hate sound
I hate memory.
I hate bikinis on skinny bitches
I hate the sound of airflow outside the window
I hate maths
I hate the sound your damp finger makes as it turns another page
I hate your success
I hate ordinariness
I hate our normality
Sometimes I hate the cool water pouring from the tap and want to cork it so
I hate the moon on a cloudy night
I hate those piddly wooden benches in the park and wish they were deeper
I hate cowards who didn’t tell their truth
I hate sprinklers left on during a storm
I hate your throat.
I hate repeating the same thing over and over
and over again.
I hate the colour blue, the way it cloaks you at night.
I hate missing you.
I hate breathing.
I love the water on my neck when I shower
Deglazing me.
Pouring me, drop by bloody drop
Down the drain
I love to be debris, cast out to sea.

Out to sea.

When will I be a real writer?

At what point do you become a real writer? Is it when when it’s available on Amazon and you get your first real-life printed copy? Or, if you’re in Australia, when it’s available for purchase from Readings?

Or maybe it’s the moment you write that last page. Or the day you burn it forever. Every last page.

I don’t know about you, but I wrote my first novel when I was 12. That’s way back in 1982. Thriller had just been released.

Time’s Man of the Year was given to the Computer.

One of my favourite songs was “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band.

John Belushi died.

I used to go to bed wondering what Adam Ant was doing while I was asleep or having breakfast or (yawn) learning maths.

I read SE Hinton’s The Outsiders for the first time.

I was obsessed with the Outsiders when I heard that the film was due to be released in ’83, and wanted nothing more than to be a bad girl, the only bad girl of the group of Greasers – not like Cherry, who was a Soc with a bad streak, but one of the really bad kids. But I lived in an uber-strict world. So, rather than live it, I did what so many writers do, I wrote about the life I thought I wanted. Then, because I was a total wanker who had not siblings and fewer friends, and read Edgar Allen Poe, I torched every hand-typed page. Because that’s what you did to art when it wasn’t perfect.

Delete!

Book launch… for reals

A Book Launch? Yes, A Book Launch!

Join fellow author, Belinda Missen and I as we launch our debut novels on Thursday, September 24, 2015

@ Littlefoot, 223 Barkly Street, Footscray. 6-8pm

There’ll be drinks and nibbles, as well as readings from our works (I promise this is going to be awesome).

If you think you can make it on the night, please head over to Facebook to RSVP or just come on the night!

Pre-order Floating Upstream

Lucky 13 and A Free Ebook!

You know one of the best things about living and getting older? 

Meeting and talking to some amazing people. As a journalist, I’ve spoken to a bunch of fascinating people, like MC Proof (from Eminem’s D12), Molly Ringwald, and authors Kathy Charles, and David Nobbs. In one of my previous blog incarnations (www.writersquarter.com) I had the absolute pleasure to interview writers I admire, writers who are friends, writers who were recommended to me.

Over the eons, I’ve met people who’ve had the craziest stories to tell and I think: Really, are you telling me the truth? Was your life really that awesome? You bullshit meter is on high alert as you get older.

Still, someone had to live the extraordinary life. And someone had to interview Molly Ringwald and Proof. Someone had to write the stories and go to the parties and meet all the interesting people. I don’t pretend to be any of these things, but I’m happy to have experienced them.

So, in the meantime, I put together a little ebook based on some of my interviews with writers.

It’s free. Simply sign up to my eensy-weensy mailing list to get your copy of The Lucky 13.

Subscribe to my mailing list and receive a Free Ebook!

Good writing vs Compelling Story

Yes, I honestly think it’s hard to get both right because the need to follow a “story arc” can truly bog us down. 

I have a confession to make: I have read very little over the last few years. Just putting that into writing makes me judge myself. Does that make me one of those writers who doesn’t read? I used to read piles of books a year but then something happened and I stopped. I’ve got a stack of books on my bedside table that have been dog-eared at various stages – 10 pages in, 5 pages, some 30-odd, but finishing has been a real drama. Here’s what’s in the pile: 
Every time I make time to pick one up, I’m left feeling terribly ho-hum. The story moves along, but there is no depth to the writing, no real beauty.
Recently I was sent a book by a friend who is a big reader, and will only read books that are recommended to her, so I was happy to take her recommendation. She isn’t the biggest fan of modern fiction, so I was interested to know why this book, this writer. 
“My mom introduced me to William Maxwell. I’m not extra fond of modern writers and modern fiction, but he was one who warmed me up to the genre.  I remember you and I talked about the preponderance of plot in so much modern fiction.  Well, his stories are much more character-oriented.  I never had experienced what I thought was ‘tone’ before I read his works.  Well, I’m sure I did, but his works are startlingly pure in this regard, I think.  I’ve read about 6 of his works and would read them again”
I read books like I watch TV or movies – in the moment. In while it’s in then, soon after, it’s gone and I’m left only with a feeling. I don’t remember the inciting incident or the plot. I do remember the language, the characters and their interactions. I’ve read One Hundred Years of Solitude three times, and know it’s my favourite book but can’t remember what it’s about.
Then over the last few years, I’ve been reading books for story, plot, arcs and action, and I think it’s killed my love of reading and, to some degree, writing.
What happens to a writer who doesn’t write books that are plot heavy? We self publish, that’s what!

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