Au­thor keen to share tips

Central Telegraph - - NEWS - Vanessa Jar­rett Vanessa.Jar­rett @cen­tral­tele­

PUB­LISHED au­thor Bette Shiels will be trav­el­ling to Biloela next month to host a writ­ers’ work­shop.

“I have been up there a cou­ple of times,” Bette said. “I re­ally en­joy Biloela.” Since start­ing to write at the age of 35, Bette has pub­lished six books.

“Four books are writ­ten and two are au­dio,” she said.

The au­dio books are the same as reg­u­lar books but are recorded on tape to be played in the car or at home.

“I started do­ing them for the blind as­so­ci­a­tion and they are very pop­u­lar with the grey no­mads – they like to lis­ten to them while they are trav­el­ling in­stead of the ra­dio,” Bette said.

Au­dio books are not the first time Bette has been in­volved with those who are vi­sion im­paired.

“I started do­ing work­shops for Cen­tacare and after two years, four of my classes were vi­sion im­paired,” Bette said.

“It is amaz­ing what their imag­i­na­tion is.”

She also teaches se­niors. “I work with se­niors who want to write their mem­oirs.

“In be­tween writ­ing my own books, I like to teach younger peo­ple as well.”

Bette’s nov­els are in­spired by her sur­round­ings.

“I try to keep them all dif­fer­ent. My first one was a true story of 15 years of fos­ter­ing,” she said.

“I have had a very ad­ven­tur­ous life – I have lived in ev­ery state in Aus­tralia.”

Her sec­ond novel, Mirikata Magic, was in­spired by an­other of her jour­neys.

“We were sent to work on a sta­tion in the out­back and the gov­ern­ment de­cided to make it re­dun­dant and we lost $300,000,” she said.

“I thought I didn’t come up here for noth­ing and I wrote a story on it, so that was the plot.”

Bette en­joys do­ing the work­shops in her spare time be­tween writ­ing.

“It is what I love do­ing and I al­ways come away happy. It is in­spir­ing see­ing some­one learn,” she said.

Bette comes pre­pared for her work­shops, with plenty for the stu­dents to learn.

“What I do is I give them a ques­tion­naire to find out what they know about writ­ing, what they would like to do, what they would like to learn,” she said.

“I usu­ally have some­thing funny for them to do and start writ­ing.

“(I teach) a lot of fun­da­men­tals, what you need to learn be­fore you be­come a writer.”

To be a good writer, you had to have en­thu­si­asm,

Bette said.

“If they come to a work­shop, they are en­thu­si­as­tic and want to learn.

“I was taught by a teacher it’s all in your mind how cre­ative you can be, if you’re in­ter­ested.”

She said imag­i­na­tion was key.

“My big­gest thing when I teach is to get the sto­ry­line and then ask what if, what if this would hap­pen?” Bette said.

In to­day’s day and age, some might think writ­ing and read­ing is a dy­ing art.

“I keep a jour­nal so my kids, great-grand­kids, great-great-great grand­kids know who I am and what I did,” Bette said.

Hav­ing now spent many years writ­ing, Bette loves what she does.

“It is an in­ter­est­ing hobby and if you write a best­seller that could be your life.

“But it takes 10 years to be an overnight suc­cess.”

To be­come a pub­lished au­thor wasn’t easy, she said.

“Colleen McCul­lough, who wrote The Thorn Birds, sent her story to 70 pub­lish­ers be­fore they ac­cepted her story. It is hard work to get a pub­lisher.”

And Bette said it was vi­tal your story was dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers.

“You have to be ex­cep­tional and some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Bette said.

“You have to love the writ­ten word and you have to be a reader – you can't be a writer and not be a reader.”


DOWN ON PA­PER: Bette Shiels teach­ing Ros Matthews, who is vi­sion im­paired, how to write.

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