Monday, 5 November 2012

My Enduring Love Affair with Writing 2.0

Photo by Pam Kleemann

Rotunda in the West:
Conversation with Australian Writers

My Enduring Love Affair with Writing 2.0

(Speechless: A year in My Father's Business)

(The Spare Room)

(The Lost Art of Sleep)

(Exile: The Lives & hopes of Werner Pelz)

(former Women's Weekly editor)

Wed 28 November
6:00pm for 7:00pm start

City Convention centre
12th Floor, 300 Flinders St
Victoria University City Flinders Campus
Melbourne CBD

$20 or $10 concession

RSVP essential 0422 298 643


And, on slow release, YouTube clips of our last My Enduring Love Affair with Writing event filmed/edited/broadcast by Channel 31:

Poet and writer Kristin Henry (All The Way Home, Atheist in the Foxhole, What if the Plane Goes Down)

Paul Mitchell: performance poet
(Dodging the Bull, Awake Despite the Hour, Minorphysics)

Professorial Fellow Raimond Gaita (Romulus, My Father, After Romulus, The Philosophers Dog)

Poet, short story writer and blogger Barry Garner (, Haloes in the Windscreen, Heroes and Daydreams)

Check out Rotunda in the West on facebook, too

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Open Invitation to a Free Literary Event

Dear Readers,

It gives me great pleasure to invite you to an event I'm producing in collaboration with Rotunda in the West, TheWriteZone, Victoria University's Professional Writing and Editing (TAFE) department and the Shire of Melton:

Rotunda in the West 
goes to 

for a deep conversation about 
'The Storyteller's Role'
between authors

Sydney Smith

and our Master of Ceremonies,
Bruno Lettieri

12noon to 1pm
Sunday 9 September 2012

Weekend time slot!
Free family event!!
Lots of stalls and free activities from 11am!!!

Can you tell I'm excited?

The Rotunda events are truly inspirational literary occasions - for guests, organisers and authors alike. We challenge the norm and dare writers and readers to think outside the status quo, for this is where great ideas dwell.

If you have a Facebook account, you can RSVP here. Otherwise, comment below, email or call 0422 298 643.

Hope to see you there!

Yours Sincerely,
Emanuel Cachia

P.S. Be sure to bring your kids to my marquee, where they can make a hand-made book. It's free!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

SEED Magazine

Here's the cover of SEED magazine's latest issue, the third for 2012. While I didn't write anything this time around, I edited a number of articles, proofread most of the others and gained a sub editor credit for my hard work

I also co-authored an eight-page feature article with Craig Henderson in the previous issue. I had a great time working with the editors, Suellen Green and Michelle Smart, who let me edit a number of articles and proofread the magazine as a whole. 

While I'm on a role with the covers, Writers Victoria mentioned my story Time and Time Again in their Jan-Feb 2012 issue for winning the 2011 Melton Short Story competition and being Highly Commended in The (2011) Henry Lawson Society Literary Awards.

Thanks for visiting,

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Issue 12 of Platform Magazine

Platform magazine's awesome twelfth issue is here! 

This fantastic magazine, produced by Victoria University's Professional Writing and Editing department, features pieces by writers off all capabilities from high school, VCE and TAFE students to more established authors like Cate Kennedy, John Marsden, Michael McGirr, Alice Pung, Barry Garner and Kristin Henry, to name just a few.

If you would like a free copy of issue 12, send me your details.

Oh, and be sure to check out page 11 ;)


Friday, 29 June 2012

Creating and Maintaining a Twitter Account

Social networking sites have been moving up the 'most visited web sites' lists previously dominated by search engine juggernauts Google and Yahoo!; video sharing site YouTube; the free, but sometimes unreliable, online encyclopaedia Wikipedia; and shopping sites Amazon and Ebay.

But social networking isn’t a new thing—people have been doing it for centuries, long before this glorious thing we’ve dubbed the internet first came online. It comes down to the fact that humans are social beings. We crave interaction with people similar to ourselves, whom we can ‘share’ our experiences with and show off our exploits to.

It feels good when someone ‘likes’ something we do. These things are imbedded in our genes, and without them we’d probably still be living in trees and content eating parasites off each other—not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The first time my high school’s 14.4k dial-up modem connected with their ISP, one of only three in Australia at the time, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I can look at sites created by other, everyday people’, ‘man this is fast’ and ‘I can’t believe it has photos of Pamela Anderson!’

After getting in trouble, possibly for the tenth time that morning, I downloaded a bunch of Star Wars stuff, read a few reviews on novels I was looking forward to and checked out the latest wiz-bang walkman that apparently played CD’s. I then taught the library staff how to use the net (via the now defunct Netscape, mind you).

Even though Facebook is the current king of social networking, it wasn’t the first iteration of digital socialising. Long before Zuckerman dreamed up his first hack, a clever guy invented IRC (Internet Relay Chat), allowing people to ‘chat’ in real-time. Soon after that came the email, Bulletin Board Services and many other instant messaging services, but I digress.

What I'm talking about are the web based sites that allow users to share their thoughts, pictures and a little, or a lot, about themselves and what they're doing. Apart from Facebook, there are the blogging sites (like this one) and the relatively new micro-blogging sites like Twitter.

Although these sites share a number of functions and features, they seem to specialise in different aspects of social networking: Facebook tends to be more personal, blogs and websites more professional and the most likely to generate an income, and Twitter a more concise, albeit restricted, way to advertise whatever it is you’re selling.

To me, Facebook is more about socialising with people you know and trust, whereas Twitter is about finding people with similar interests and networking with them in the traditional sense to improve your industry knowledge, promote what you've done and are doing.

Facebook is quite self explanatory and doesn't need another article on 'how to get more friends on Facebook'. Instead, I’ll focus on Twitter.

The first step is to create your Twitter account. Open the Twitter website ( and, once the home page loads, look for the area for new users. It’s usually on the bottom right, under ‘New to Twitter?’ and ‘Sign up’.

Keeping in mind you can later choose what information to show other users, enter your name, email address and a password that’s easy to remember, but hard to guess. If you don’t have a password to use exclusively for sites like this, create one; there are tons of password generators on the net that allow you to create a random mix of letters, numbers and punctuation.

Next you’ll want to choose a user name. This unique name is what others will know you as and doesn’t need to be your real name. If your preferred name is taken, try another, and possibly another, until you find one that’s available. Don’t worry about it too much for now; it’s easy to change later.

After chosing a user name and password, and entering your email address, log in and proceed to the tutorial. By the end of this short guide, you’ll know what tweets are and how to post them, how to find people you might be interested in and will be following a few people who might follow you back.

To access all of Twitter’s functions, you’ll want to open the email Twitter sent you and confirm your email address. After doing so, you'll be able to customise your privacy and notification settings, hide information you don’t want other users to see and stop the annoying email notifications, if you’re so inclined.

To change your profile description, select ‘Edit your profile’. Write something witty, revealing and interesting about yourself: what you do, what you want to do, what you know, what you’re interested in. It can be anything at all and can be changed whenever, and as often, as you like. As you’ll see from other user profiles, grammar and punctuation are optional. If any appeal to you, imitate (not copy) their wording. Some tweeple use full sentences and fairly accurate grammar, rather than my preference: fragments and non-sentences. The choice is up to you.

You can also upload a profile picture. It doesn’t need to be a picture of you or your cat, but it can be. Choose something that’ll encourage people to follow you and show them some of your personality.

By now, you may have seen the following buttons on the Twitter interface, maybe even clicked a few, but not known exactly how they work. Well, here’s how I see them:

Re-tweet (v)—to share a user’s tweet with your followers, word-for-word and with the original author’s profile picture attached.

Quote (v)—to post another user’s words in a tweet of your own, mentioning the original author’s name (including the @symbol) alongside your profile picture. One may add extra words to the tweet.

While reading tweets on your timeline, you may feel the desire to retweet or quote interesting posts by people in your relevant fields. This will not only give your followers something interesting to read, but also might gain the original tweeter's attention and possibly a thank you mention.

Give credit where credit is due. Don't just copy what popular users write and try to palm it off as your own. Besides being unethical, your followers will catch on and it might cost you some important promotional partners.

So, someone has mentioned your name in a tweet and you’d like to thank them or say something back. Enter the reply function. I reply to everyone who mentions me in a tweet, or quotes/retweets any of my tweets. They’ve taken the time to single me out and share my name with their followers, the least I can do is reply.

When you want to say something to another user, but don’t want everyone else to read it, you can send them a direct message. Some users send a standard message to new followers. While this is a great way to promote your blog or other endeavours, I worry about being spammy and only send a welcome message to tweeple who send me one.

If you go into the ‘# Discover’ tab, you can also search any key word like you would on Google or Yahoo! Growing your own veggies at home? Search for ‘gardening’, ‘garden’, ‘plants’, ‘veggie patch’, ‘organic’, etc and tweets containing these words will pop up.

From there, you can follow the users, see who they follow and who follows them. Very soon you’ll be connected with a bunch of people interested in home-grown veggies, or whatever it is you’re into.

If you've created your Twitter account just to show off how many followers you have, do what many users do: follow anyone and everyone and hope they follow you back. There are even groups dedicated to achieving this (more on groups later).

But if you want people to follow you because they have similar interests and genuinely want to read and share your tweets with their followers, you'll need to tweet about the stuff you enjoy. When tweeting, I think it’s best to just be yourself and use your natural voice to write interesting tweets. Do this and other users will follow you.

Another reason to be selective about who you follow is that after 2,000 users are in your following list, you cannot follow more people until more than 2,000 users follow you back. This is quite annoying, but if you keep this in mind it won't be a problem.

If you hit the cap, unfollow a bunch of users who aren't following you back. The best way I've found is to open the list of people you're following and click the drop-down menu beside their name. If you see the option to 'Send a Direct Message', they are following you. Otherwise you can unfollow them. It's a time-consuming process, but you're less likely to offend your followers.

That's pretty much everything you need to know to run a successful Twitter account. I recommend playing around with the above functions for a few hours, or days, before familiarising yourself with the below, more advanced features. It’s not that I don’t want you to continue (please do come back!), but experiment with the basic functions might benefit you more then theory.

In short, follow more users, post a few more tweets, check out what's going on in the world and what other users are saying about those events.

HASH TAGS(#) are used to openly collate tweets about interesting topics. They are essentially a word, or sequence of words, that can be grouped together, and searched, as one thing. The main hash tags I use are #FollowFriday and #FF (on Fridays) #amwriting, #amreading, #MentionMonday (on Mondays), #blogpost (when I post a new article on my blog), and any other silly ones I can make up that are relevant to the tweet I’m posting—like #amrambling…

Due to the 140 character word limit for tweets, users have devised many ways to bypass the character limit, a result of laziness, or a mixture of both? There are way too many of these to list in such a short article and even if I wrote a comprehensive list, it’d be obsolete in a day.

TRENDS are basically the hot topics or words for that moment. This is where the tweeps are at. Some users post on every trend to gain more followers, but I only post in these if I have something relevant to say, or am extremely bored…

LISTS are a great way to organise the growing number of people you follow. Lists allow you to categorise the people you follow, and those you don’t, making it easier to find tweets you’re interested in at any given time. Among my lists, I have one for fellow writers, one for publishers, one for gamers and a couple of others including major newspapers and sources of facts on science. You can even lock the lists so no one else can see who’s on them—a great place for your chips-that-look-like-Star-Wars-characters friends.

And, finally, here are a few Dos and Don’ts to consider when developing your identity on Twitter:

DO post your tweets at different times each day, and on different days of the week. This way you're sure to reach a world-wide audience with varying log-in patterns.

DO follow back the interesting people whom follow you.

DO give people positive energy and they'll likely give it back to you.

DO share your fellow tweep's discoveries and accomplishments. Modern day social networking isn't a competition. If a user sends you a direct message promoting their website, check it out and send them some positive feedback and a link to your blog or website. It'll very likely generate another hit on your site and might gain you a long-time reader—the most sought after kind of reader there is!

DON’T spam your followers. I like Spam on toasted cheese sandwiches with a little pepper and sweet-chilli sauce, but not in my Twitter timeline.

DON’T feed the Trolls! If another user says something offensive, either intentionally or by accident, don't publicly bite back—It will only generate another tweet with their name on it, increasing their exposure and possibly their popularity, and encourage such behavior. Simply ignore the tweet and, if it's definitely offensive, report it and the user.

DON’T follow, or interact with, spam bots—they are the root of all evil and defeat the purpose of 'social' networking. They won't read your tweets, per se, nor visit your website, nor care one iota about you and what you have to say. All they care about is generating followers for their evil masters and taking over the world, ala Terminator. Sure, you'll have a few less users on your followers list, but the ones you do have will be a real, genuine audience made of like-minded people. And, most importantly,

DO have fun socialising! It's meant to be good for us humans :)

Happy tweeting,

Emanuel Cachia is a freelance editor, proofreader, manuscript appraiser, book producer, workshop facilitator and, when time allows, an avid gamer. He lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne, has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and is studying a Bachelor of Communications.

A member of the committee that short listed the 2012 Ada Cambridge Prize for a biographical short story and subeditor on the July 2012 issue of SEED magazine, he is currently editing Platform magazine, an anthology written by Victoria University students and a collection of his own writing.

His short stories have been commended in literary competitions, one reviving first prize in the 2011 Melton Short Story Competition. His feature articles, reviews, short stories and poems have appeared in two anthologies, six magazines and five websites (not that anyone is counting). He dedicates his writing to his wife and two children, whom mean worlds to him.

For more of his work and witty comments, follow him on Twitter (@emanuel_cachia), link with him on LinkedIn (, read with him on Goodreads ( and be his friend on Facebook (!/emanuel.cachia).

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Drafting Process

If you ask a group of writers what they hate most about writing, the overwhelming majority, if not all, will say editing. It takes a long time, is much less enjoyable than writing the first draft and involves thinking about a lot of things at the same time: grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, logical progression of ideas, point of view, mood, theme, target audience, word choice, tense, headings, subheadings, font style and size, paragraphing and line spacing—to name just a few.

No wonder editing is associated with eyestrain, headaches and feelings of frustration and hopelessness.
To make the editing process less painful, many writers involve other people at various stages, from friends and family to fellow writers, literary agents and/or editors. As you gain more experience editing your own work and develop your support group, the process will become shorter and more tolerable. The goal is to go through each stage only once with as little help as possible.

If this is the first time you're reading this process, it might look quite daunting. The fact is, being a writer is tough, being a good writer is tougher, getting published is even tougher, and being a great, published writer is one of toughest challenges you'll face. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying, doesn't draft their work (usually because it's only a hobby, which is fine), or has a ghost writer.

But, seeing your work in print (physical or electronic) and knowing you’ve created something unique and original that people are going to read and enjoy is well worth the effort. Your writing may show a reader they aren’t alone, shed light on a taboo subject, or change someone’s life for the better.

Below you’ll find an explanation of the various editing stages all good writing (emphasis on good) goes through, in one way or another, before it's ready for publication. Some writers, like me, draft their work a number of times at each stage and swap back and forth between them whenever necessary. It just depends on how quickly the story comes together.

Whenever you feel you don't have what it takes to be a great writer, don't be too concerned—there are a lot of easier jobs out there: physicist, biochemical engineer, astronaut and brain surgeon spring to mind.

I hope to shed some light on this process and break it down into smaller, manageable chunks of information that shouldn't melt your brain. I'll focus on writing a novel, but the principles are much the same for shorter fiction and non-fiction of any length.

Please keep in mind that, as with anything creative, the actual workings are unique to each author. What works for some, won’t for others. The same goes for each story.

The First Draft
The author writes a chapter at a time, with minimal feedback from a fellow writer, writing group, or mentor. The key here is to get the story down as organically and seamlessly as possible with only the faintest amount of conscious thought and self-criticism. Some writers call this free writing, but I think it’s best to keep the end product and target audience in mind at all times, reducing the chances of going too far off track and having to throw out slabs of text that took hours to write.
The emancipation
I write most of my first drafts and rewrites by hand. I find it helps silence my inner critic and editor. But I also like to dip my McDonalds fries in a chocolate sunday...

When this first full draft is complete, you have the groundwork for a novel: a manuscript. Congratulations!

Some writers let family and friends read their manuscripts, but most of these people aren't regular readers, will say a lot of nice things and have very little to offer in the way of constructive criticism. This is great for a writer's motivation, but does little to improve the story.

If you’re serious about getting your novel published, and don’t have a team of credible people behind you, you could pay for a manuscript appraisal. The appraiser should identify, among other things, general problems with the voice, point of view, tense, amount and credibility of characters, chapter structure, themes and plot development. You’ll have a good sense of what woks and what doesn’t and, if your appraiser is good, you’ll know how to resolve most of it or know where to research how to.

The changes are usually applied by the author in this stage, or by an editor in the next.

Draft the Second
The second draft involves moving the text around to get the structure right: scenes, chapters, plot points, character relationships, themes, back-story, setup, main conflict, climax, resolution, plot holes and mix of setting, dialogue and narrative. Obvious punctuation, spelling and formatting errors can be corrected here, but the finer details are covered in later drafts.

This is usually where most writers need professional help (pardon the pun) and is where many give up. Little do they know, emerging authors usually have help from a mentor, agent or other person with authority in the field. Publishing houses usually assign contracted authors a specific editor, or various editors, who works very closely with them through this stage. The more prolific and popular the author, the more editors they’ll have behind them—not that they’ll ever tell you. Lucky aren't they?

Some editors call this structural or substantive editing and charge a lot for it. Others consider this an early stage of copy-editing.

While this stage can be quite daunting and leave your mind whirling in confusion, with the help of a good editor your manuscript will be a good read, something to be proud of. The story will flow in a logical and entertaining fashion. The plot points will be in the right place. The voice will be engaging and reasonably consistent. There'll be just the right amount of characters and they'll be believable and compelling and be doing what you want them to.

You've put a lot of hard work into your manuscript and should pat yourself on the back for hanging in there.

Third Time Lucky?
The third draft, which may be anywhere from the fifth read-through, is true copy-editing. It's time to work on the intricate details: paragraphing, sentence structure, progression of thought, depth of detail, tense, point of view, pace, tension, spelling, grammar, capitalization and word choice.

Reputable publishing houses have a team of editors who work through manuscripts a number of times at this stage. Most self published authors hire a freelance editor to do it for them. While many emerging writers spend very little time here and just print the damn thing.

Your work should be as polished as possible before being released to a wider audience or submitted to a publisher. Publishers won't be as willing to invest in your manuscript if it needs a lot of work. And, if a reader pays for your self-published book, you want to give them the most enjoyable experience possible.

Bad copy-editing lowers a book's readability and drags readers out of your story, deterring them from finishing your book and buying the next.

Anything with your name on it should be as error proof as possible. This will create a positive image of you as an author and create a standard of excellence. Establish yourself a skilled writer and you will gain credibility. A good reputation will lead to a wider readership and publishers will be more willing to invest in your work.

There’s a Fourth Draft Now?
The end is in sight! It's now time for line editing/proofreading. Most of the obvious errors will have been resolved. So, this stage is quite brief and may only take a few hours, depending on the author's ability to implement the previous drafts without introducing too many new errors. A few are inevitable; a lot can be quite time consuming.
Final version of the
emancipation proclamation

If you have gotten to this stage on your own, or with a single editor, you, or the editor, should get a second professional to proofread your manuscript—the fine details are very hard to see for someone who hasn’t seen them during previous drafts. This stage involves reading the manuscript line by line, word by word, a character at a time and teasing out the last of the spelling, punctuation, grammatical and formatting errors. 

Proofreaders are the Terminators of the writing business—almost nothing escapes them. From the opposite side of the room, they can spot extra spaces between words and lines, indented paragraphs that shouldn’t be, back to front apostrophes, missing full stops and commas, hyphens that should be n-dashes, and incorrect capitol letters.

Submitting or Self-publishing?
If you are selling your novel to a publisher, you're now ready to finalize your cover letter,chapter summaries, pitch and/or blurb and submit it to appropriate places. By now, you should know where and how. A literary agent can guide you through this process and get you the largest advance possible.

Literary agents research authors with similar writing styles and books with similar themes and target audiences to your own. They look at sales figures, demographics, projected sales, established markets, emerging trends and recent accusations. After creating a profile for you and your book, they approach the most appropriate publishers and try to get you the best deal possible.

If you have chosen to work on your novel alone until this point, you might find your manuscript gets rejected by agents and publishers without much explanation. Having an editor involved in the process does not guarantee your manuscript will be accepted by the first publisher you approach, especially if you submit it to the bigger ones, but it will definitely help. Any publisher willing to reject a well-structured manuscript with minimal errors is not worth your time.

Having an agent also helps you avoid the 'slush pile': the mountain of unsolicited manuscripts the major publishers receive every month. Getting off the slush pile is almost impossible, and even if you are offered a contract, it will likely include an entry level commission percentage and a very small advance. Your initial offer should include a cooling off period and the opportunity to have an agent represent you. An agent is your promoter, financial planner, legal aid and protected in all things publishing all rolled in one.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to post comments or questions below.


Updated 28/06/12 - resolved format issues
Updated 06/05/12 - more pictures

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A message to my fellow emerging writers

As one of five shortlisting judges for a local creative writing competition (I'm not sure if I can say which one...), I've read a ton of unpublished short stories in the last few months.

It's exciting to know there are so many talented armature and emerging writers who's stories need only minor changes to be truly amazing.

Submit your stuff to publishers, people. You never know when you'll be picked up!

Be brave, leap off the deep end and have confidence you'll land on the other side.
Even if you're not, pretend to be; not many people can tell the difference

For all you Aussies, check out my post on the major Australian literary journals and magazines.

A bunch of other competitions are also currently accepting submissions. Some are free, while others charge a small reading fee. Many offer decent prize money, certificates of merit and/or publication opportunities.

I know I've said this cliche before, but...

You've gotta be in it to win it!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: The 'Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers'

I have chosen to review the sixth edition of the Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers edited by Snooks & Co, printed by Craft Print International Ltd, Singapore, and published, marketed and distributed by John Wiley and Sons Australia, Ltd. My 2011 paperback edition contains 550 pages and cost $44.95 plus $7.50 shipping and handling via Wiley’s online store.

The Style Manual is an extensive resource for authors, editors and printers as it contains detailed information on preparing publication plans; the role of authors, editors, designers, printers and various other specialists; how to convey information clearly and concisely, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalisation conventions; the importance of thorough copy-editing and proofreading; copyright, privacy and defamation laws; how to obtain quotes from printers; measures to ensure a publication’s quality; and, unique to the sixth edition, publishing on the web and other forms of digital printing.

Since the first edition, published in 1966 by the Commonwealth Government Printing Office, the Style Guide has undergone a number of revisions, keeping it up to date with the ever changing English language and trends in the publishing industry.

Each topic is written by specialists in their field, refereed by a second, or subsequent, source, and includes relevant images set out in an effective manner. For example, the introduction to chapter 25, ‘Paper-based Reproduction’, states that “Arranging for a document to be printed is a significant project management task. It entails contracting and coordinating a range of different suppliers, and checking the quality of the services they provide for the project. Knowledge of the processes and techniques involved enables suitable production decisions to be made.” The following 28 pages describe the process in great detail, including not only the various costs associated with print production (types of paper, printing and binding techniques, and embellishment), but also advice on how to reduce expenses without necessarily degrading the look and feel of the publication.

When you include the long list of further reading resources at the end of each chapter, the Style Manual has to be one of the most thorough and credible resources anyone serious about the publishing industry in Australia can own.

Harvard reference: Snooks & Co (eds.) 2011, Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edn, John Wiley and Sons, Singapore.