Love: From the Profane to Romance…

This is the name of the panel session I’m moderating tomorrow, at the inaugural Writers in the Park festival, Centennial Park, Sydney. The rain’s been lashing the city for days.. and just today…some sunshine. It would be great if it stayed around for tomorrow. (Thanks, in advance, sun!) But rain or shine, it’s bound to be a terrific conversation given that I’m talking to three wonderful writers: Pamela Cook, Joanne Fedler and Susanna Freymark. Each of these fine writers has so much to add to the always engaging, sometimes confounding and even confusing… thorny, horny world of love and writing about love. It’s a pleasure to be involved in this festival; not least because it renews my respect for the process and rigour and, often, sheer slogging effort of writers (published or not).

It’s what keeps me inspired each time I work with an author as an editor, or as a workshop leader. (And yes, our next Editing in Paradise retreat is happening in Bali — 22–27 October).

Now… when the time comes to pay more attention to my own writing (ahem.. the memoir that’s still in the making, seven years on) then I’ll be sure to turn to the works of these women writers for joy and more inspiration. Do check out their work… and hope to see you at the festival.

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It’s nearly time


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With another terrific Byron Bay Writers festival wrapped for another year, comes the thought of how close the Ubud WRF is, and then, our next Editing in Paradise for 2011. This year the venue is Villa Sekala, in Sanur on the east coast of Bali. The participants so far are working on memoir, a children’s picture book and True Crime (why caps?) — well, of course, I think it’d be a true crime to miss out on being part of it. So check your diaries, finish your drafts and come and visit the site. Be inspired by the great writers coming to the Ubud Writers festival (6-9 Oct) and then come and be part of our exceptional EIP process (10-17 Oct) where writers meet, work, play, work some more… commune. That’s the true beauty of the work; meeting and sharing with other writers and having professional editors on hand to help finesse the work; engage with the words that have (often) been so long in the making…
I’ve also just rejigged this blog theme. Trying a new format and look forward to comments on how it works. For now, it’s back to the pages.

Portsea held a bit of paradise last week

The first Editing in Paradise retreat for 2011 has just wrapped up. This retreat we had all novelists, writing in different genre from family drama, to fantasy. Each manuscript with its own charms and challenges; each writer putting so much heart and soul into the 6 days that on the final day, it was quite a wrench to leave. Was it just that Portsea turned on such splendid days and the dolphins frolicked in the bay (on cue, almost) or that the mix of bloody hard work and fun was intoxicating (or was that Terry’s wine?) or…the wealth of stories and many breakthroughs…
Not sure. But I do know we all had a great 6 days.
And we’ll do it again in 2012…Mornington Peninsula in February is quite a find.

Jaipur delights


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“If you want to write, you have to have two main things,” said Henning Mankel today in Jaipur. “You need to burn to tell the story…to tell it to someone else. There has to be a fire in you to do it”. The Literature Festival is a wild affair, as done in Jaipur. The tents on the lawns of the Diggi Palace are bedecked with swathes of Rajasthani fabrics, steaming chai dispensed in clay cups give just the right sweet hit to keep going from session to session of great discussions on writing and word wangling in all forms and the inevitable debate about the death of the novel and fascinating insights into India’s relationship to Pakistan and Kashmir and and …. then there’s the nightly music extravaganza. What a magical introduction for me…to some of the most haunting and powerful Rajasthani, Qawaali, Tamil…musicians, I’ve ever heard. The frenzy this evening was for Susheela Raman, singe and all round stunning performer. It’s also an auspicious day for weddings in India so Jaipur’s streets are filled with staunch men in regalia on white merwari horses and processions with fire sticks and lights and drumming and fireworks exploding in the skies and much trumpeting… wonderful. Two more days of the festival and I can’t wait!
It’s this sort of event that really makes me realise how inspiring it is to be around writers and books and how…no matter how many times I hear the question – ‘how do you write’ addressed to a published author – I am still so keen to hear the answers, gather the gems…. so, what was Henning Mankell’s second gem: ‘Find your voice; find the way that only you can tell a story,” and keep telling it until you forget it’s made up… He also mentioned a wonderful technique for up and coming writers, which I’ve often mentioned to attendees at Editing in Paradise. Find an author you love and …copy them. Yes…not, NOT plagiarise their work but literally, copy out their lines…you will get to see/feel how it is to form their sentences, find their rhythms and it will help you get yours…” It was great to hear it from him…a most impressive and entertaining story teller.

Jaipur beckons

Happy New year…and may 2011 be the year that your writing bears fruit!

I’m off to the Jaipur Writers Festival; huge excitement as I’ve never been to Rajasthan before and the lineup for the festival is …breathtakingly good. A swift pass through Udaipur, Jaiselmer on the way (never enough time..) and then it’s 5 days of immersion in the world of writing, books, music with a lineup that takes my breath away. Consider Orhan Pamuk, and Junot Diaz and Jung Chang…and that’s day 1. Richard Ford,  Jim Crace, William Fienes, Rana Dasgupta… and on… no wonder it’s named ‘the greatest literary show on earth’.

When I get home, it’s back to more delight with the first Editing in Paradise offering for 2011. We’ve been busy developing the website—now with FAQs—and the program  for 2011. At our 2010 Bali retreat  we were joined by our first Writer in Residence, Shalini Gidoomal, an impressive Kenyan writer who shared not only her writing insights but her yoga and meditation skills at our Bali 2010 retreat.

In 2011, we welcome two new co-presenters to our editorial team in 2011: Desney King (Australia) and Barbara Nussbaum (South Africa).  See the website for more details:

Bali, 10–17 October, following the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival; Kangaroo Valley, 22–29 May; Keurbaai, South Africa, 2–9 December …and, starting the year with a splash…Portsea, 17–24 February

For this retreat, I’ll be co-presenting with sought-after editor, Desney King, editor, publishing project manager and writer with more than three decades’ experience—inhouse and freelance—in Australian book publishing. She has worked with authors in a wide range of genres, as mentor, guide and editor. ‘At its finest,’ says Desney, ‘the relationship between writer and editor is collaborative, dynamic, highly productive and deeply satisfying’.

Whatever the final destination—publication, finishing the manuscript, or just getting through the next draft—the EIP process works. Of course, some of you already know this, and have shared your positive feedback with us and referred your writer friends. We really value your support.

Wondering whether to give it a go, have a look at the FAQs or get in touch. I’d be delighted to answer any questions.

And now…it’s off to pack that last book into the suitcase. I’m definitely getting an e-reader this year. 4.5 kilos of books (guessing, of course) just means fewer treats that I can bring back. And I’m partial to the odd fabric and jewel purchase.

Do check out the Jaipur lineup…and, if you have the chance, come! if not, read those authors’ works. What a wonderful 5 days it’ll be.


Editing/writing courses


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NT Writers’ Centre: Position, position, position: Structural editing (25 July 2010); Writing for business (26 July 2010)

Qld Writers Centre: The kindest cut & First cut: Masterclass, Brisbane (17/18 April 2010)

NT Writers’ Centre: The kindest cut: Editing for writers (11 April 2010)

Northern Rivers Writers Centre: (with Selena Hanet-Hutchins) 2-day mini Editing in Paradise Masterclass (27/28 March, 2010)

Doors opening…

We’re gearing up for the next Editing in Paradise masterclass retreat. It’s a thrilling thought and a bit daunting. Last October in Bali was…well, thrilling and daunting but I’m so happy it happened and we did it and we’re ready to do it again. Why daunting? To be honest, it was harder work than I imagined even when I thought it would be hard! And that was just us, not to mention the dedicated and very focused writers. But why thrilling? Let me tell you the story of one of the writers…who arrived a committed and very skilled short story writer. Working with her and those stories was a great experience. And one of them, begged to become more than a short story. But that was for her to decide.

On her return to England, having survived the long gruelling squash of 23 hours in a small, fast tin can with bad food and too little atmosphere, she had to do a rapid reentry (straight to work within a day of arriving back in London). But, within days she wrote to tell us that the story was going to be the bones of her first novel. NaNoWriMo kicked in; she wrote those 50,000 words and writes again to say she’s pretty happy with the result. So am I. I’m honoured and delighted and warmed by the experience. That’s what makes this so much joy. It’s not a trite thing; editors may say it’s an honour to work with authors. Often it’s just words (!). This time it was true.

Shelley Kenigsberg

Shelley Kenigsberg is a freelance editor, writer, trainer and Director of S K Publishing.

In 2009, she initiated Editing in Paradise — a writing and editing masterclass/retreat, held in Australia and Bali. She has worked in publishing for almost 30 years; working as editor and mentor for authors writing in all genres, taught editing for 26 years and developed and presented courses for editors, writers, private corporations and at literary festivals in Australia, singapore, Indonesia, Japan and South Africa.