2022: My Writing Year in Review

As writers (indeed, as practitioners of any form of art) it’s often too easy to dwell on what we haven’t achieved, rather than what we have accomplished.

I’m guilty of this. I often raise my creative bar impossibly high, and set myself productivity goals and benchmarks of success that simply don’t align with my work and family life. As a consequence, I’m often left feeling like I’ve failed myself and my art. Silly, huh? I’m working on it.

My two words for 2023 are: Balance and Vitality. I aim to use their themes to underscore all aspects of my life this year, and help guide my intentions and mindset.

Many writers post a list of their ‘year in review’ and I think it’s a great way to overthrow any negative feelings you might hold about your personal output. You might not have set the world on fire (according to your own goals), but you’ve written, damnit! And maybe, along the way, and in between the rejections, you’ve had a few wins, in whichever shape they take.

As we move into 2023, my creative advice is simply this:

  • Be bold.
  • Be patient.
    • Be kind.
    • Share.
    • Do not compare yourself to others.
    • Remember, a high tide raises everyone’s boat.
    • Make the art you love, regardless of whether it’s deemed ‘commercial’ enough. Writing to a trend or market when it’s not your jam does not a happy writer make. When you attempt to shoe horn your work into a space and place not carved from authenticity it will also show in your writing.
    • HAVE FUN.

    With that said, below is my 2022 Writing Year in Review. Despite my inner critic telling me otherwise, it’s actually been a very positive year.

    Why not make a list of your writing activity from 2022? Even if it’s just a word count. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve achieved.

    Happy New Year to you all, and of course happy reading, happy writing, and happy days for 2023.

    Awards and Honours

    • Finalist – Ditmar Awards – Best Collected Work
    • Finalist – Ditmar Awards – Best Novella / Novelette 
    • Finalist – Aurealis Awards – Best Fantasy Novella
      Finalist – Australian Shadows Award – Long Fiction Category
      Finalist – Australian Shadows Award – Poetry Category
    • Honourable Mention – Dishlickers – Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Writing Award

    Residencies

    Two-week Police Point Artist’s Residency, Point Nepean (Mornington Peninsula Shire)

    Contracts

    • Middle Grade Novel Sea Glass – Wombat Books (Release date: March 1, 2023)
    • Middle Grade Novel Jonty’s Unicorn – IFWG Publishing Australia (Release date: November, 2023)

    Publications

    Short Fiction

    Fawdaze ‘From The Wasteland’ Anthology, PS Publishing

    Poetry

    • If I Touch You, You’ll Know Nightmare Fuel Magazine
    • The House Contrition Built Midnight Echo #17, AHWA
    • House  Spectral Realms, Hippocampus Press  

    Articles

    Gateways to Horror: Defining Books that Sparked a Love of Genre Aurealis Magazine Issue #151

    Writing Life and Community

    • Ambassador, Australia Reads
    • Vice President, Peninsula Writers’ Club
    • Co-Director, Little Stories, Big Ideas

    The Numbers!

    • Pitches: 3
    • Submissions:  17
    • Rejections:  48
    • Competitions Entered: 4
      • Grants/Residencies Applied For: 3 (no cigar, dear reader!)
      • Books taken to acquisitions: 1 (no cigar, dear reader!)
      • New Manuscripts completed: 2
      • Works rewritten on request: 1 (no cigar, dear reader!)

      Writer in Residence Reflections: Police Point Shire Park

      This month I had the privilege of spending two immersive weeks as Writer in Residence at Police Point Shire Park in Portsea, Victoria. The opportunity formed part of my prize for winning the 2021 Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Writing Awards for my short story Due South.

      The Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Artist in Residence program has hosted over 100 Australian and international artists since its conception, providing a location rich in history, cultural heritage, and stunning natural assets

      Cottage #4 was my home and workspace for the duration of my residency—a delightfully maintained residence with a history dating back to the 1850’s. You can read more information about the history of Police Point here.

      And what a gift this little cottage was, not only for the time and space it provided to focus on my latest work in progress, but also for its peaceful stillness in a location that is and of itself a work of art.

      I felt inspired and encouraged by all the creatives who came before me, and all those who will follow. I enjoyed sitting with my work and chatting with my characters, trusting them (and myself) to know what they’re doing, and allowing myself the freedom to move forward with a productive first draft of my contemporary Australian middle grade novel Tiger Girl.

      I also clocked up the bushwalking miles as well as the writing miles. I made friends with multiple echidnas while sunset strolling. I’ve said g’day to magpies and blue tongues. I took joy in observing the newly-hatched plover chicks under the fierce protection of their proud parents, and I watched the sun rise over London Bridge, feeling like the only person Earth. The solitude and the setting of this Residency has been the greatest blessing.

      My greatest thanks and gratitude to Mornington Peninsula Shire for this invaluable creative opportunity.

      * The Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Writing Award is a collaborative initiative with Peninsula Writers’ Club. My thanks to both for such a notable inclusion to our literary landscape. My story Dishlickers received an Honourable Mention in the 2022 awards, which you can read it here.

      Triple Award-Nominated ‘The Little One’ Available to Read for Free – Limited Time

      It’s been five years since my first book was released with IFWG Publishing Australia and to celebrate, my novelette ‘The Little One’ has been made available to read for free for a limited time.

      ‘The Little One’ was shortlisted for an Australian Shadows Award, an Aurealis Award, and a Ditmar Award, and I’m so pleased it’s been a bit of a happy hit among readers.

      ‘The Little One’ forms part of my award-nominated collection ‘Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract’, so if you like what you read…well, hey, there’s more where that came from! 🙂 ‘Coralesque’ is available through all your favourite bricks and mortar and online booksellers.

      Click here to read The Little One for free.

      ‘Honourably Mentioned’ in the 2022 MP Shire Mayor’s Writing Awards.

      What a wonderfully welcome way to wrap the week! As I started thinking about packing for my forthcoming two week writing retreat as Artist in Residence at Police Point Cottages, which formed part of my prize for winning the 2021 Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Writing Award, I learned some exciting related news. My story ‘Dishlickers’ received an Honourable Mention in this year’s Mayor’s Writing Awards!

      Congratulations to the winners and entrants across all categories. Big thanks to judges Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Cr Anthony Marsh, and award-winning author Garry Disher. My gratitude to Peninsula Writers’ Club and Mornington Peninsula Arts and Culture for making this competition a notable inclusion to our literary landscape, and of course to our amazing local bookstores for their generous sponsorship, Farrells Bookshop, Antipodes Bookshop and Gallery, Petersen’s Bookstore and Rosebud Book Barn.

      If you would like to read my entry, along with the other amazing stories, you’ll find them all here: https://shape.mornpen.vic.gov.au/…/2022-mayors-short…

      New Book Signing: ‘Sea Glass’ with Wombat Books

      I’m thrilled to announce my middle grade novel ‘Sea Glass’ has been signed by long-established Australian publishing legends, Wombat Books.

      Here’s what you can expect…

      When eleven-year-old Cailin’s mother takes a contract job on Victoria’s eastern coast, Cailin’s holiday plans are ruined. Worse, they’re staying at her estranged grandfather’s shack at Whitefoam Cove. Cailin barely remembers him, let alone knows him.

      Grandpa doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and his television is older than him. Memories of her father are everywhere and, to make matters worse, she’s left her cricket bat at home. How will she make the team now? And how will she keep in touch with her best friend, Josie? It’s going to be the worst summer ever.

      But life with Grandpa proves to be anything but boring. There’s treasure to be found at Whitefoam Cove!  But just when cricket-mad Cailin and Grandpa finally feel like they’re making a connection, disaster strikes…and Cailin knows it’s all her fault.  

      Sea Glass is a coming-of-age family drama for readers aged 7-12 that explores how, despite difference and disaster, a generational gap is bridged. This contemporary Australian middle grade novel celebrates the importance of family and environment…and proves you’re never too old to go treasure hunting.

      Sea Glass will be released 1 March, 2023. Click here to pre-order your copy.



      StoryCraft Creative Writing Workshops Turns 5!

      This month StoryCraft celebrates its Fifth birthday! It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since I first launched my creative writing workshops…and what a ride it’s been! I’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of helping children and adults explore their creativity, hone their craft, explore different narrative techniques and literary devices, achieve publishing success, finish first drafts, dare to dream, write fearlessly and from the heart, and – most importantly – develop the confidence to give themselves permission to write.

      I’ve lost count of the aspiring authors and budding writers I’ve workshopped with along the way, but each and every workshop has been a pleasure to present, each, with its own unique energy – and that’s down to you. Thank you to every participant (new and return) who has entrusted me to nurture their creative souls.

      I’ve presented at festivals, mainstream schools, libraries, writing groups, community centres, home schools, book stores, one-on-one mentoring, online and outdoor spaces. I’ve been fortunate to have many supporters and collaborators along the way, and my special thanks go to Mornington Peninsula Libraries, Mornington Peninsula Arts and Culture, GATEWays, Mount Martha House Community Centre, Peninsula Writers’ Club, Little Stories Big Ideas, Andrea Rowe, Peninsula Cultural Collective, Antipodes Bookshop & Gallery, and so many more!

      So, what’s next for StoryCraft? Well, like many businesses, StoryCraft took a bit of a Covid hit. While I presented some workshops online, many – from home schoolers to work-from-homers – had screen fatigue. Additionally, with physical workshops continually having to be cancelled or rescheduled as lockdowns rolled on, it was quite a challenge to keep continuity tracking the way it had been in pre-covid times. Now, while normalcy – or this new edition of it – resumes, it’s pleasing to see confidence in physical meetups is growing, although many people are still cautious. Add to this an increase in work and writing commitments, and StoryCraft is looking at moving forward in a positive, though altered way.

      From the new financial year, I will be available to present workshops and author talks on a pre-contracted basis only. If you are a school, library, festival, community group, writing group, book store, youth group, educational organisation, NDIS service, I welcome your enquiry. You can reach me through the contact form on my website or email rebeccafraserwrites(at)gmail.com

      I hope you’ll all join me in blowing out the virtual birthday candles! I look forward to seeing old faces and meeting new ones at an upcoming workshop in the future. Thanks for your continued support of StoryCraft Creative Writing Workshops – it means the world to me,
      Rebecca <3

      I’m a Finalist in the 2021 Aurealis Awards!

      I nearly spat my coffee out when the 2021 Aurealis Award Announcement came through via email last week. My novella ‘The Little One’ is a finalist in the Best Fantasy Novella category!

      This amazing news came on the back of ‘The Little One’ making the shortlist for an Australian Shadows Award in the Long Fiction category.

      I’m thrilled this dark story of a young girl’s sacrifice for justice has resonated with readers and judges. The shortlist for the 2021 Aurealis Awards is truly outstanding, and I’m so honoured to be on it. These works underscore how vibrant and exciting Australia’s speculative fiction landscape is. You can view the shortlisted works here.

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      If you would like to read ‘The Little One for yourself, you’ll find it in my short story collection Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2021).

      Keep your fingers crossed for me everyone! The Aurealis Awards ceremony will be held in Canberra on May 28th.

      Shortlisted for Two Australian Shadows Awards!

      This week, I was thrilled (and surprised) to learn I’m a finalist in two categories for the 2021 Australian Shadows Awards.

      My novella ‘The Little One’ was shortlisted in the Long Fiction category. ‘The Little One’ first appeared in my short story collection Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract (IFWG Publishing Australia) and seems to be a real favourite among readers.

      My poem ‘Sonnet for a Scarecrow’ made the cut in the Poetry Category. ‘Sonnet for a Scarecrow’ was published in Issue 1 of Curiouser Magazine, a great new Australian publication showcasing thoughtful and thought-provoking speculative fiction and poetry.

      And, in other happy Shadows news, Spawn: Weird Horror Tales About Pregnancy, Birth and Babies, edited by Deborah Sheldon (IFWG Publishing Australia) an anthology featuring one of my stories (‘Beneath the Cliffs of Darknoon Bay’) appears in was shortlisted in the Best Edited Work category.

      The competition this year is amazing though, so while the chances of me winning are up there with that idiomatic snowball in hell, it’s an honour to share the shortlist with writers I have the greatest admiration and respect for. You can read the finalists for all categories of the Australian Shadows Awards here.

      Winners will be announced at a live Zoom event on the evening of Tuesday April 12th. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

      Three-book deal signed with IFWG Publishing Australia

      I’ve had some happy publishing news to kickstart 2022! I’ve just signed a three-book deal with IFWG Publishing Australia for my middle grade fantasy trilogy, ‘The Irrawene Chronicles’.

      The first novel in the series ‘Jonty’s Unicorn’ will be galloping its way towards readers everywhere in late 2023.

      Of all the things I’ve penned to date, ‘Jonty’s Unicorn’ was hands down the most fun, free-flowing fully-formed story to write, and I’m delighted to be continuing the narrative over two further books with IFWG Publishing Australia

      I hope you’ll all love Jonty’s adventures as much as I do. You can read the official acquisitions announcement from the publisher here❤

      Here’s what you can expect:

      In the quiet hamlet of Blaxby in the Kingdom of Irrawene, twelve-year-old Jonty Fairskye’s mother is gravely ill. A tonic from Dagatha, the fearsome witch who dwells in the dark heart of the Terrenwild Woods may be her only hope, but everyone knows Dagatha’s cures cost dearly—both in both gold and regret.

      Determined to save her mother, Jonty resolves to enter the King’s Annual Horse Race on her beloved horse, Onyx. The prize, a pouch of gold—more than enough to pay Dagatha. When Jonty discovers an injured unicorn trapped in a hunter’s snare during a woodland training session, she is thunderstruck—there hasn’t been a unicorn sighting in Irrawene for over a century. To ensure its safety Jonty knows she must keep the unicorn hidden. She names it Rose, and smuggles her back to her barn to recover.

      As the great horse race draws closer, disaster strikes when Onyx suffers an injury of his own. He is barely able to walk, let alone race. Jonty is crushed…until Rose insists that Jonty enters riding her. Jonty is torn—she knows once Rose is seen, it will be the end of her freedom, yet Mamma grows frailer by the day…

      The decision Jonty makes will impact the lives of everyone she loves, spreading ripples throughout Irrawene. Danger and betrayal lurk around every corner, and Jonty will learn that the true meaning of kindness and bravery comes down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice.

      I’m Proud to be an Australia Reads Ambassador

      Australia Reads is is a unique Australian book industry collaboration (between authors, booksellers, libraries and publishers) born of a common passion for, and mutual interest in, championing reading, promoting the many mental health and lifestyle benefits of reading books, and encouraging the next generation of avid book readers to significantly increase book reading by all Australians – no matter the format they read.

      When Australia Reads put a call out for creators to apply to become Ambassadors to join them, I enthusiastically put my expression of interest forward. I couldn’t think of a better mission. So now I’m joining a cast of 300 ambassadors all across Australia to help share and deliver the message that reading rocks, culminating in the tenth annual Australian Reading Hour on Tuesday 14 September 2021.

      This year’s theme, Stories that Matter, is set to generate a buzz around how the books we read, and write, and talk about, help shape our sense of identity, belonging and understanding – and why these stories matter so much.

      Which book will you be reading on 14th September?
      Let me know in the comments 

      In other literary news, Happy Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week, everyone! Like last year, book week looks a little different, but there are so many authors, bookstores, and libraries hosting awesome online appearances and readings, everyone across Australia can get involved.

      This week I celebrated Book Week by recording two readings for Mornington Primary School as a collaborative effort with members of Peninsula Writers’ Club. This is me getting my cat on for a reading of ‘The Flying Tuxedo Brothers’. I also did a ‘click and collect’ from local independent bookstore legends Farrells Bookshop for some new spring reads I’ve been looking forward to. Happy Book Week, Australia!