On Saturday 6 September, in atrocious Sydney weather, I made my way to that artistic oasis, the Hughenden Hotel, in Sydney's Woollahra to give a talk to the UTS Writers Network. I spoke to the group, which is a UTS alumni inititiative (and I am a UTS alumni myself) on professional issues I felt they needed to consider for the development of their careers as writers.
These days the need for authors to present and market themselves as "brand names" is crucial to their success and sustainability. The ASA's professional development program offers assistance in this area. One of the attendees at the Hughenden (in fact its gracious co-host) is my freind Suzanne Gervay, who was one of the presenters at a recent successful ASA professional development seminar titles "The author as brand name".
I also spoke about the need to authors to raise their profiles through websites and engagement in social networking sites.
The attendees, reduced in number because of the bad weather, listened very attentively and asked a number of pertinent and revealing questions afterwards.
The UTS Writers Alumni Network is run by Sharon Rundle, who also operates Round Table Writing from her home in the Hunter Valley. She's dedicated to the UTS group. Her four wheel drive had to be towed out of the mud so she could make it to Sydney.
Sharon is also dedicated to increasing understanding and awareness between writers in different countries, particularly India. With respected author and academic Meenakshi Bharat, Sharon has edited Blood Shall Have Blood, a collection of narrative fiction that looks at how terrorism impacts on normal life. Picador India is publishing it November 2008.
I'm delighted to have my contribution "The Liberation Centre" included in the book, which also includes works by far more significant authors including Sir Salmon Rushdie, Thomas Keneally, David Malouf and Susanne Gervay.
As I write, the book is still without an Australian publisher, despite the stellar list of contributors (oops -- this makes me think that maybe I'm the problem!).
Look out for the book anyway.
Suzanne, Sharon and I will be making a big fuss about it.
And if you are a UTS alumnus in Writing, check out the Network and do yourself some good!