Latest Posts

Oriental lilies

Coaxed into glory,
Long are the days.
Opening petals,
Fuchsia ballet.

Flowers in winter,
Nourish the soul.
Waxy perfection,
Anthers of kohl.

Shy ones and bold ones,
Perfume the air.
Fluted umbrellas,
Beauty beware.

Poison that lingers,
Hidden from view.
Pearlescent sepals,
Shiny and new.

Whimsical trumpets,
Set in a vase.
Spilling, cavorting,
Dust of the stars.

By Sophie Chenoweth (2017)

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How to host a book launch

Hi there, today’s article is all about how to host your own book launch. I’ve had two and, while that doesn’t make me an expert, I’ve certainly got some experience to draw on which should be helpful!

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Setting up the room

Here are my tips and tricks in order to host a successful (and enjoyable) book launch:

Practical Tips:

  • Hire a community centre or hall (via your local council)
  • Check out the space beforehand to pre-plan layout of room (chairs, tables, speakers, microphone, displays, etc.)
  • Hire caterers (cold food is cheaper) / do it yourself (the day before)
  • Get a copy of your caterer’s Public liability insurance (Australia) to give to your local council
  • Create fliers (hand out at work/school/community notice boards, etc.)
  • Make personalised invitations for friends and family (of flier with their name on it)
  • Hire a microphone/stand or lectern/speakers (shop around for audio hire companies who will give you advice)
  • Delegate someone to help you sell your books (you focus on signing and saying hi)
  • Keep all your admin in a folder (including your speech and centre keys)
  • Write your speech a month or so beforehand (and rehearse)
  • Bring comfortable chairs for yourself and book seller if centre chairs are plastic

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I bought my flowers the day before at Woolworths and designed my posters that week

Creative Tips:

  • Get flowers from a florist (pre-book and plan) or buy your own from a supermarket the day before (put in buckets and buy cheap vases from a discount store)
  • Make some posters with photos of things that inspired you (optional)
  • Display artefacts that inspired you (e.g. the pointe shoes I wore when I was fourteen)
  • Bring fabric or throws (with push pins) to cover ugly areas or notice boards
  • Organise music for when people arrive (your own playlist)
  • Make hand-outs in envelopes or scrolls as a take-home souvenir (delegate someone to hand these out for you)

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Scrolls I made which included a welcome, some context-building and a poem

Structure of the day:

  • Start with food and drink (finger-food is best) with music (good for late-comers)
  • Announce that you’ll be starting in five minutes
  • Make your speech
  • Questions and answers
  • Sell books (a friend sells, you sign)
  • Mingle (if you can)!!
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Book signing

Speech:

  • Welcome everyone (tell them where exits are/toilets, etc.)
  • Give a background to your creative process/inspiration
  • Do some readings (e.g. chapter excerpts or poetry readings)
  • Questions and answers
  • Thank everybody for coming

Note: The basic tenets of ethos, pathos and logos should inform your speech, making it more accessible and compelling. Ethos stands for ethics (make it ethical), pathos stands for eliciting compassion and sympathy in your audience (be emotionally honest) and logos stands for logic, so make it easy to understand and logical.

I hope you found this helpful and good luck with your planning!

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Relaxing after my first book launch, which I held at home (flowers were by a local florist)

By the way, here are the books I was promoting at my launch which are available on Amazon, Kobo and iTunes/iBooks:

How to write poetry: line stress and syllables

Hi there, I hope you enjoyed those exercises. If you haven’t checked them out, go back to the previous posts and start from the beginning. In this session, we’ll talk about how to look at patterns in rhyming poetry.

I’ll give you two stanzas of a poem I wrote called ‘The Platypus’ and we can analyse it together:

The Platypus

He glides along the river bed
And shakes his head about.
The clouds of silt like puffs of steam,
He’s hungry, there’s no doubt.

His bubbles blown are silk balloons,
They billow beautifully.
His aqua home, complex biome,
Debris infused like tea.

If you read this poem out loud, you can figure out how many syllables there are in each line.

Line 1: 8 syllables   a
Line 2: 6 syllables   b
Line 3: 8 syllables   a
Line 4: 6 syllables   b

If you look at lines 5-8, you’ll see the same pattern:

Line 5: 8 syllables   a
Line 6: 6 syllables   b
Line 7: 8 syllables   a
Line 8: 6 syllables   b

This pattern of 8,6 (a, b respectively) carries on throughout the poem and gives it a rhythmical, soothing beat.

I’ll now go ahead and highlight the words that stand out in each line (those that sound a bit louder as you read them) which also forms a pattern of sorts. If you clap on the stressed sound as you read the poem out loud, you’ll find that it becomes like a chant.

He glides along the river bed
And shakes his head about.
The clouds of silt like puffs of steam,
He’s hungry, there’s no doubt.

His bubbles blown are silk balloons,
They billow beautifully.
His aqua home, complex biome,
Debris infused like tea.

Please note that sometimes, line stress (especially in a poem) differs from how you’d say the word out loud in a different sentence.

For example, the word complex is normally said with a stress on the first syllable:

complex Oo

However, when I read the poem out loud, I usually stress the second syllable just to keep the chanting pattern going. You could probably call this ‘poetic licence’ or attribute it to the notion that the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts! In other words, the overall effect of the poem is more important than adhering 100% to the natural stress of each word.

If you’d like to read this poem in its entirety, please find my book ‘The Scent of Eucalyptus’ by Sophie Chenoweth on Amazon, Kobo and iTunes/iBooks.

How to write poetry: word stress and syllables (b)

Welcome back! As promised, here are the answers from the previous exercise:

Paper: 2 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Paper    Oo

Calendar: 3 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Calendar    Ooo

Icing: 2 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Icing  Oo

Water: 2 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Water  Oo

Japan: 2 syllables, the 2nd is stressed

JapaoO

Sydney: 2 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Sydney  Oo

Beautiful: 3 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Beautiful  Ooo

Exquisite: 3 syllables, the 2nd is stressed

Exquisite  oOo

Dangerous: 3 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Dangerous  Ooo

Pity: 2 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Pity  Oo

Emerald: 2 syllables, the 1st is stressed

Emerald  Oo

How to write poetry: word stress and syllables (a)

Hi there! Welcome back. In this session, we’re going to learn about word stress and syllables. This technique will help you to write more rhythmical, lyrical poetry, so it’s a great thing to know about.

Basically, all words have syllables (one, two, three, etc.) and all words have a natural stress. The stress is a loud sound you can hear when you speak the word.

For example, my name is Sophie. Sophie contains two syllables but the first one is louder.

          Sophie

The loud sound is actually on the vowel sound:

Sophie

Let’s try some more words. How about apple, volcano, geography and contempt

a) How many syllables does apple have?

Apple has two syllables. Where is the stress? Say it out loud and see if you can hear it.

Apple (The stress is on the first syllable)  We could symbolise it like this: Oo

b) What about volcano?

Volcano has three syllables. Where is the stress?

Volcano (The stress is on the second syllable) We could symbolise it like this: oOo

c) What about geography?

Geography has four syllables. Where is the stress?

Geography (The stress is on the second syllable) oOoo

d) What about contempt?

Contempt has two syllables. Where is the stress?

Contempt (The stress is on the second syllable) oO

Did you find this easy? If not, try to work out where the stress is on these words and I’ll provide the answers in the next post. Good luck!

paper, calendar, icing, water, Japan, Sydney, beautiful, exquisite, dangerous, pity, emerald

 

How to write poetry

Hi everyone! I’ve been on an incredible journey writing poetry and have decided to share some of my tips and tricks with you. I have a background in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) and Science (I’m a high school Science teacher) and I also have credentials in Communications (majoring in Public Relations), so I bring a unique perspective to this cathartic and poignant craft.

If you’d like to write rhyming poetry for greeting cards, a special gift, the expression of deep feelings or just for the heck of it, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve written two books of poetry, entitled ‘The Scent of Eucalyptus’ and ‘Elysian dreams’ which have brought me a huge amount of joy. Here’s a sample of what I write:

The Snowflake

She floats down through the heavens,
Ethereal and light.
Her never ending pirouettes
Tossed gently left and right.

Like diamonds do the chinks of light
Shine through her pearly face.
She comes to rest so gently on
The beings in this place.

The mystery of her jewelled form,
Her crystalline physique.
Why are her sisters, none alike?
Why all of them unique?

A pattern, though exists between
Each spoke of her silk wheel.
Self-similar, yet intricate,
Exquisitely surreal.

And yet no justice can I do
To how a small child felt.
When softly landing on my hand
She caused my heart to melt.

By Sophie Chenoweth (2015)

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So if you’d like to find out more about how to pen poems like this one, stay tuned! Topics will include word stress, line stress, syllables, helpful websites, poetic techniques such as the use of metaphor, simile, personification and alliteration, plastic and naïve thinking, emotions and writing authentically, research, fieldwork, characterisation and more.

See you – Sophie Xx

Woolloomooloo

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The warships docked along your bay,
Their dusky tones of green.
The topaz waters shimmering
Through misted morning sheen.

My cappuccino’s steaming cup,
It burns my hand to touch.
Commuters clack on chiselled stone
The pounding peak-hour rush.

The sunlight streams through leaden clouds,
Some tourists pose and pout.
The unleashed dogs run wild and free,
Tall palm trees blow about.

Your restaurants filled with socialites,
Sardined along the pier.
Their white facades, perfect post cards,
The clink of boutique beer.

The ibis roam your boulevards
In scientific tags.
The yellow metal glints so bright,
The swirling leaves dull rags.

Like seagulls do the masses flock
To ‘Harry’s Café de Wheels’.
The fragrant pies, the mash heaped high,
His patrons’ laughter peals.

A windswept man, he staggers on,
His home beneath a bridge.
His comrades smile with crinkled eyes,
Their voices’ resonant pitch.

This place of contrasts by the sea,
I wander round about.
A Sydney suburb, colourful,
Intriguing, without doubt.

By Sophie Chenoweth (2015)

This poem is taken from my memoir ‘The Scent of Eucalyptus’ which celebrates Australia’s unique flora, fauna and places.

Its available on Amazon (US, UK, Australia), iTunes/iBooks and Kobo

https://www.amazon.com.au/Scent-Eucalyptus-Precious-Poems-ebook/dp/B01G7LCR7Y

Earth

Mottled marble in the dark,
From giant’s fingers flung.
She pirouettes around an orb,
The fiery, golden sun.

The other planets also dance,
Trajectories unique.
And like the Earth their moons despun,
These children mild and meek.

On outer arm of Milky Way,
They turn like all the rest.
This gilded spiral mass of stars
A shining cosmic nest.

Andromeda approaches her,
A larger galaxy.
They’ll coalesce eventually
With wondrous alchemy.

And yet this tiny coloured ball
Is all most people know.
So very few have pierced the tip
Of atmospheric glow.

Earth’s monoliths and silver lakes,
Her oyster-crusted shores.
Lush perfumed winds of lavender
And creatures on all fours.

The island chains that dot the globe,
Volcanic and alive.
Or ancient lands that billow dust
Where reptiles bake and thrive.

Proud glaciers of crystal blue
Which score the helpless rock.
Mesmeric beauty perilous,
Yet tourists gladly flock.

Sleek alpine grasses peeking through
The lavish, creamy snow.
Wildflowers springing from the green,
Mosaic on plateaux.

The tangerine of lions’ fur,
The rosy cockatoo.
Grey howling wolves on stormy nights,
A rousing, fierce tattoo.

And yet we do not recognise
This jewel we’ve been bestowed.
We do not see her gaping wounds,
We plunder and we goad.

We humans with our square-edged lives
And soundproof, tower homes.
Igniting coal and mining deep,
Earth’s melancholic moans.

The ozone layer delicate
And torn in southern skies.
The chlorine atom is to blame,
From cans of spray it flies.

The UV light is stronger now,
We cower at its might.
The phytoplankton are reduced,
Our burning skin a sight!

Vast coral reefs are ghosting too,
The warming seas a scourge.
Insidious acidity,
These biomes on the verge.

A carbon storehouse oceans are,
Repository for greed.
The seashells are a-weakening,
These signals we must heed.

And runoff from our farmers’ fields
Spreads nutrients galore.
The algal blooms then choke our fish,
We’ve waged unwitting war!

A living, breathing thing she is,
A haven for us all.
Why can’t we feel her pulsing heart
Or hear her desperate call?

She is the only home we have
And yet we do not care.
Solutions are within our reach,
Resources we must share.

Holistic should our thinking be
With synergy a must.
She’s more than just the sum of parts,
Reductionists distrust!

Renewable technology
Is deeply ethical
And fusion is a goal of ours,
Its products plentiful.

So do not say there is no hope,
We cannot give up yet.
A rarer pearl cannot be found,
Good deeds, the same, beget.

By Sophie Chenoweth (2016)

This poem can be found in my latest book ‘Elysian dreams: songs from the soul’ and is available on Amazon (US, UK, Australia), iTunes/iBooks and Kobo

Lake Ainsworth at sunset

Lake Ainsworth

Twinkling mirror of the sky,
A watercolour dream.
Colours gently melded by
A waning beacon’s beams.

The stillness of the sleepy lake,
Svelte silhouette of trees.
Upon a bench I watch with awe,
Warm blanket at my knees.

The fiery glow of umber light,
The vast expanse of blue.
Bold planets glimmer in the night
As vibrant hues subdue.

Mosquitoes nibble at my skin,
I wave my hands about.
Bright laughter tumbles liquidly,
Such frenzy do they flout!

The lulling chant of restless waves,
Proud beach a gorgeous twin.
Its diamond sands luxuriant,
Defying cruel winds.

I stake my claim upon this place,
This hallowed point in time.
We course through space so rapidly,
It etched into my mind.

By Sophie Chenoweth (2016)

This poem can be found in my latest book ‘Elysian dreams: songs from the soul’
which is available on Amazon (UK, US, Australia), iTunes/iBooks and Kobo

Clareville beach

Neptune’s necklace drapes herself
Along your pretty sands.
The olive beads thrown carelessly
By mermaids’ wanton hands.

The rose pink light on whipped cream clouds,
The spray of salted breeze.
A lady of the deep swims by,
Waves’ crests her sudden sneeze.

The sailboats rest on placid blue,
Their masts stretch tall and proud.
I sit upon a carved-out step
And dare not speak aloud.

The tinnies stacked like dominoes,
Their insides aqua paint.
A kiosk smiles invitingly,
The ‘scape she does not taint.

The seagulls swarm along the shore,
Their charcoal feet protest.
A beach brawl have I chanced upon,
They squawk their wrath with zest.

I smell the sizzling barbeques,
They are like flame to moth.
The tourists crowd and socialise,
Jade grass their tablecloth.

A dreamy little paradise,
A jewel in the crown.
I wonder when I shall return
On winding trip from town.

By Sophie Chenoweth (2016)

This poem can be found in my book ‘The Scent of Eucalyptus’ which pays tribute to Australia’s unique flavour.

It’s available on Amazon, iTunes/iBooks and Kobo