The Game Bird sets sail…

Aidan R Walsh’s The Game Bird has been published and is available on!

One eyed scribe

I’m incredibly pleased that The Game Bird is finally released!

You can grab it here on Amazon.

A special thanks to the team at Damonza for such a beautiful cover and layout.

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The final blurb goes like this:

“…I loved it – The Game Bird is intricately constructed, intelligently written and just a fabulous page-turner.”

An evil is growing. The Realm is under attack. A leviathan has risen from the depths and is destroying the fleets that feed Stormhaven.

Stuck ashore and drowning in debt, Captain James Faulkner resolves to hunt the sea monster and claim the enormous bounty on the beast.

Sophia Blake’s life looks effortless. But she carries a secret, an occult curse that is capable of destroying both her and her nation. Sophia knows her time is running out.

The Tallowman is a slowly decaying melding of demon and man. This monstrous assassin is desperate to capture…

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March 2018 reblog: The many benefits of a writing group

At the Newcastle Writers Festival 2015, Margaret Jackson from our writers group wrote an article for ABC Open entitled ‘Top 5 tips for taking your  writing further in a group’.

Here is the link to the full article:

Copied below are some key points from the article.

Photo of group by Anthony Scully
Our writers group in 2015 (a big thanks to Anthony Scully for snapping this shot –

1. Build confidence in your writing.

One of the hardest things to do when you first start out is to share your work with others. A good compatible writers group can provide a safe place to take those first tentative steps and put your writing out there…

Continue reading “March 2018 reblog: The many benefits of a writing group”

GIVE YOUR STORIES A FUTURE: Sunday 8th April, 10am – Newcastle Writers Festival – FREE session

Margaret Jackson, Maree Gallop and Aidan Walsh with Jessie Ansons as host at the 2015 Newcastle Writers Festival

This weekend is the Newcastle Writers Festival, and our group will be hosting a free session at 10am on Sunday morning, in Newcastle City Hall. It’s called ‘Give your stories a future: How three local writers bring their writing to life‘.

You’ll hear from three members of Hunter Story Creators talk about their published pieces and the process they went through to get to that point. You’ll get practical advice, similar to previous sessions our group has run, but this year we’re doing it in casual conversation style to give you a deeper insight into what makes our three authors tick.

At the end of the session, we’ll be launching Aidan R Walsh’s very first novel, The Game Bird.

What makes our session unique?

Our three panelists – Maree Gallop, Sally Egan and Aidan R Walsh – are local emerging writers. There are no major book deals under their belts (not yet at least!) and they truly write for the love of writing.

That’s not to say they haven’t had their successes: all three have had short stories published and been shortlisted or won writing competitions. At our session on Sunday, you’ll hear how they got to the point of publishing and you’ll have the opportunity to ask your own questions too.

Who is on the panel? (click each name for detail)

Jessie Ansons (host)

Maree Gallop

Sally Egan

Aidan R Walsh

Where can I get more info?

For details of the event, go to one of the following pages:

Facebook event

Newcastle Writers Festival 2018 program


February 2018: From sentence to story

Tonight our writing group did an exercise where we started with a basic sentence, then talked as a group about what we could do to bring it to life.

We had a bit of fun coming up with our basic sentence. There were six of us tonight, so we went around the table adding one word per person until we had our example: ‘John drank copiously after his sacking’.

Then we asked the question: how would we bring that story to life?

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Image by David Shankbone at

Continue reading “February 2018: From sentence to story”

January 2018: The winning formula

Tonight we read the winning story of the Newcastle Herald Short Story Competition, Holly Bruce’s Twinkle Drops.

We wanted to learn from the story, and see if our own styles of writing could benefit from incorporating some of Bruce’s techniques. One of our group members read Twinkle Drops aloud, and we all listened, noting down aspects that we believed made it a winning story.

We then all spent five minutes free-writing, with the aim to write in Bruce’s style.

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Image by Jeffrey at

Continue reading “January 2018: The winning formula”

Newcastle Herald Short Story Competition 2017-18 – the finalists

Listed below are the 28 finalists for the 2017-18 Newcastle Herald Short Story Competition. These stories have been published in hard copy and on website.

Congratulations to all of those who have been shortlisted! It’s great to see so many familiar names on the list.

A big congratulations to Holly Bruce, for winning first place, and to the Highly Commended authors Jessie Ansons (our very own Hunter Story Creators member) and John Gallop. The final write up can be found here.

Image by Photosteve101 at

26 December 2017Street Life by Carl Caulfield

27 December 2017Loopy by Lee-Anne Wilson-Smith

28 December 2017The Family Reunion by Jessie Ansons

29 December 2017Wash Away Thy Sins by Nandina Vines

30 December 2017Heaven Sent by Phil Murray

1 January 2018The Lonely Street by Kym Milne

2 January 2018Seaweed by TBA

3 January 2018Original Sin by Brenda Proudfoot

4 January 2018 – Floating Away by Helen Marshall

5 January 2018 – Fresh Milk by Bronwyn MacRitchie

6 January 2018 – Waves by Tanner Johnston

8 January 2018 – Washed Away by Rhonda Mackey

9 January 2018 – Inevitability by Ross Telfer

10  January 2018 – Salt by Kaylea Short

11 January 2018 – A Special Night by Natalie Parsons-Clair

12 January 2018 – Squawk by Dan Shushko

13 January 2018 – Best in the State by Diana Threlfo

15 January 2018 – Ready by Linda Mueller

16 January 2018 – Out by TBA

17 January 2018 – Number 47 by Kristen Mair

18 January 2018 – The Road Trip by Felicity Biggins

19 January 2018 – A Dog’s Life by Shea Evans

20 January 2018 – Twinkle Drops by Holly Bruce

22 January 2018 – Not All Is Lost in War by Dianne Hill

23 January 2018 – The Lone Starboy by Barney Collins

24 January 2018 – Running Out by John Gallop

25 January 2018 – A Guilty Moment by Bruce Jones

26 January 2018 – The Lion’s Maw by Anne Davy

December 2017: Writing freely

Tonight we did a writing exercise. We thought we’d pick a random sentence from somewhere a bit different, so one of us pulled out her Spring 2017 issue of Unlimited Human! The random sentence we picked to start our free-writing was:

“For kids seven and older we teach them a rapid induction before the movie.”

We all started with that sentence and wrote freely for 7 minutes.

Image from 

Our stories of course went in very different directions, mainly around how we interpreted the word ‘induction’. One went with hypnotic inductions, another went with training inductions for children and another went down the path of orientation prior to watching a horror movie.

What we discovered is just how beneficial free-writing can be.

Continue reading “December 2017: Writing freely”

November 2017: What is love?

Tonight’s writing exercise came from the current Hunter Writers Centre project called Read, Write, Love, where members can send in pieces about love to be published on the website.

One member of our writing group was having trouble coming up with the initial idea of a story, and we wanted to explore why this was so difficult.

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Image by Modesto del Río at

Love is an abstract concept, so for our writing exercise we used a concrete object to focus our attention and write something about love. We had to all pick something from the table in front of us and connect it to love.

Writing about love is relatively easy, but there’s a risk of it being cliche. Love stories have been done over and over, and the challenge is finding something unique about love. Has love been so overdone that it’s impossible to write something that’s never been done before?

After five minutes we read our free writing and discussed what worked and what didn’t work.

Out of the four of us here tonight, three of us wrote ramblings about love that went nowhere. But one of us nailed it. The strawberries on the table told a short but deep story of love, with a tragic ending (and might just end up being a fantastic piece of microfiction… watch this space!).

In summary, we agreed that when developing a story, love couldn’t be taken simply on surface value. It’s a concept that has many layers and could be looked at from many different angles.

The story that worked was about a strawberry, which stood in place for love. The story used a concrete object that represented love, but didn’t speak directly about love itself.

Have you ever written a story about love? Share your comments below.


October 2017: What’s in a title?

pile of books
Image by Julie Jordan Scott at

Tonight we did a writing exercise inspired by titles.

We looked at the list of Manbooker Prize winning stories and their titles. Each person chose the title that appealed to them the most and wrote for 5 minutes, inspired by that title.

Here’s what we found.

One of us wrote a piece for Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question because she was curious about the concept between looking for answers versus asking more questions. She also wanted to play with the link between ‘think’ and ‘Fink’.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood was another’s choice. She was drawn to the incongruity of the title, as she wondered who would hire a blind assassin. Therefore it set her up for a challenge that the story needed to solve (and ended up being that the assassin wasn’t literally blind).

One person chose Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes because she wanted to write about the idea that a sense is not definite, but it’s there. She wrote a story about a couple in a relationship who shouldn’t be together, but neither wanted to be the one to end the relationship.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel was another’s story title. She wanted to play on the connection of Pi to maths, and develop a character who’s life was viewed through a mathematical lens.

And another person chose The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, because the title reminded her of a family story, and she developed the story around that.

It was a great exercise to look at all the Manbooker winning titles and think about what makes a good title. We discussed the importance of a good title, because it’s the first thing that draws a reader to a story. It appeals to our curiosity, our ability to connect it to our own lives, or the play on the meaning of a certain word.

The title supports the story, but sometimes a title’s true meaning won’t be clear until after we’ve finished the story.

Pondering a title can ignite our creativity. Usually we write our title last, after our stories are already set in stone. This exercise turned that process on its head, as we wrote the story around the title for a change.

What is your favourite story title? Have you ever considered writing a title before writing a book? 


September 2017: The tail end

Tonight we did a writing exercise that Sally brought in by the Magic Violinist called How to End a Story.

Before we started we identified that we all had our preferred types of endings. ‘Ambiguous’ was popular within our group, as was ‘bittersweet’. We agreed we rarely write tragic or happy endings. The exercise intended to challenge ourselves by writing an ending type that we wouldn’t usually do.

The exercise talked about 4 different types of story endings:

  1. The “happily ever after” ending
  2. The tragic ending
  3. The ambiguous ending
  4. The bittersweet ending

We started all our stories with the same phrase: “The lizard was enormous, at least three feet long. It also wasn’t in its tank.” We had to write the ending first, in a style that challenged us. Then we had 10 minutes to complete the exercise.

Iguana, Watch, Lizard, Reptile, Animal, Dragon, Scale
Image by

We learnt that we often gravitate towards a preferred ending. We all found it quite challenging to think outside that style and we had to push ourselves to get to the different ending.

The mere fact we had to start with an ending was challenging for most of us. For on person, the ‘the ending first’ approach was a comfortable one, as that’s how she usually writes (starting with the ending, then problem solving to get the characters to that ending). But for everyone else, it was an entirely new concept to follow.

Our stories went down paths they don’t usually go. One person found it exciting to work towards that bittersweet ending, and another discovered a surprising taste for horror, following her tragic ending story.

What is your preferred ending style? Please share your ideas below.