The 35th Annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest

They love it when you call them Big Papa.

Wally Collins is congratulated after winning the 2014 Papa title.

Wally Collins wins the 2014 Papa title.

Around this time every year Key West is set upon by mature, heavy-set men with full beards in khakis.


It’s time for the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest!

Hemingway lived in Key West during the 1930s and local bar Sloppy Joe’s, where Hemingway would often be found holding up the bar, has been holding the contest for an incredible 35 years. Around 125 entrants are expected to jostle for ‘The Papa’.

Sloppy Joe’s says it is “looking for mature, heavy-set men with a full beard”, but adds that “several young lookalikes have participated, and some have actually made it to the finals.”

It warns contestants: “Know your competition. The lookalikes arrive in Hemingway garb. Some wear safari outfits, khakis, and even the excruciatingly hot fisherman’s woollen turtleneck sweater. Some bring their own cheering squad. Most contestants admit (confidentially) that they may never win, but return year after year for the fellowship.”

The lookalike competition is just one part of a week long Papa-palooza that rains down upon at Key West every year, with Marlin fishing and short story competitions, readings, book signings and a “running of the bulls” event.

Click here for all things Hemingway

Writing Copy Before Bestsellers – Six Famous Authors And The Advertising Campaigns They Created

Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

And before they became world famous novelists, these authors knew just the right kind…

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The Write Stuff – Famous Writers On The Art Of Writing

A writer needs advice from all and sundry, and often receives it whether they like it or not.

But from these great writers of the past any advice is good advice, even if it can be a little off the wall…

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GUEST BLOG: Ernest Hemingway and the Girl from the Bush by Nicole Alexander

I often wish I’d been born a man. This statement has nothing to do with the perceived favouritism that is touted in relation to the world of publishing but instead is a reflection on the practicalities of being a fourth-generation grazier in the male-dominated world of agriculture. I’m pretty sure that this desire to be more than hands-on, on-farm can partly be attributed to Ernest Hemingway, with whom I’ve been infatuated with from an early age. It was he that swept me away aged twelve with For Whom The Bell Tolls and later, The Old Man and the Sea. His economical word usage and understated style struck a chord with me and at some deeper level; I wanted his life; the martini-drinking, big game hunting, bull-fight aficionado, bestselling author. Wow, EH had me right from the beginning. Right or wrong, I’m a fan for life. I was an omnivorous reader as a child yet Hemingway stands alone as the first author to shake me out of complacency and compel me to write. Later I ventured into the works of Dickens, Shakespeare and Austen and their brilliantly crafted imagined worlds beckoned me to try harder at perfecting my own scribblings.

These days I’m a time-poor yet eclectic reader who spends nights studying research material, dipping into the more literary of authors and reading the odd work of commercial fiction. I’m not a trend follower. I read for pleasure and education and the books that provide both remain favourites. Having grown up on the tales of my own pioneering ancestors, I’m naturally drawn to Australian rural literature. Although historically only a small percentage of our population have lived beyond the major cities, some of our most distinctive stories and indeed legends are set in the vastness of the Australian bush.

My non-fiction favourites include Jeannie Gunn’s We of The Never Never, Mary Durack’s Kings in Grass Castles and Eric Rolls’ A Million Wild Acres.

Fiction picks include Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood and Xavier Herbert’s Capricornia.

In all these works the reader is treated to the story of men and their passion for land, of occupation and settlement and of businesses forged and lives lost in a land fraught with the difficulties of an isolated frontier. There is something thrilling about reading about the country in which we live, and taking a step into the Australian outback via the written word is an experience rich with conflict, difficulties, intrigue and romanticism.

© Nicole Alexander August 2012

Absolution Creek

by Nicole Alexander

One man lost her. One man died for her. And one would kill for her …

Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is a sweeping rural saga spanning two generations.

One man lost her. One man died for her. And one would kill for her … Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is a sweeping rural saga spanning two generations.

In 1923 nineteen-year-old Jack Manning watches the construction of the mighty Harbour Bridge and dreams of being more than just a grocer’s son. So when he’s offered the chance to manage Absolution Creek, a sheep property 800 miles from Sydney, he seizes the opportunity.

But outback life is tough, particularly if you’re young, inexperienced and have only a few textbooks to guide you. Then a thirteen-year-old girl, Squib Hamilton, quite literally washes up on his doorstep – setting in motion a devastating chain of events…

Forty years later and Cora Hamilton is waging a constant battle to keep Absolution Creek in business. She’s ostracised by the local community and hindered by her inability to move on from the terrible events of her past, which haunt her both physically and emotionally.

Only one man knows what really happened in 1923. A dying man who is riding towards Absolution Creek, seeking his own salvation…

From the gleaming foreshores of Sydney Harbour to the vast Australian outback, this is a story of betrayal and redemption and of an enduring love which defies even death.

Click here to buy Absolution Creek from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

About the Author

In the course of her career Nicole Alexander has worked both in Australia and Singapore in financial services, fashion, corporate publishing and agriculture.

A fourth-generation grazier, Nicole returned to her family’s property in the late 1990s. She is currently the business manager there and has a hands-on role in the running of the property.

Nicole has a Master of Letters in creative writing and her novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, Germany, America and Singapore. Nicole’s previous titles:  A Changing Land, The Bark Cutters.

The Ultimate Imaginary Literary Dinner Party Guest List: Guest Two, The Debater

Thank you, you have filled the first place at my table, The Drunkard. You have chosen Ernest Hemingway. A brilliant choice.

As you know, now that the Olympics are behind us I want to celebrate the intellect. And to do so I am going to host my very own dinner party. An imaginary dinner party, with some of the greats of literature. But my imaginary dinner must be a small intimate affair. I want to be able to talk with my guests. I don’t want it to be overcrowded or too grand. One seat has now been filled.

But I still need your help. Remember, I want particular kinds of guests. I want variety. I want spice. I want argument and passion. The perfect roll call for a dinner party, if you will. Ernest Hemingway occupies The Drunkard’s place. My dinner party is on Saturday night. This gives me four days to fill these final four positions. Here is my wish list.

Today I need you to choose the second guest – The Debater. Where would any dinner party be with a skilled debater, someone able to play the devils advocate, coerce the room’s yin and yang, someone so skilled in the wordy arts as to excite all of the guests into a frenzy of discussion?

Someone needs to fill The Debater’s seat. I’ve got a long list of people in mind, but I need your help to narrow it down. You can do this by voting in the poll below

You can also suggest anyone I might have left off the list that you think fits the bill.

We’ll publish the results each day, and on Saturday we’ll unveil The Ultimate Imaginary Literary Dinner Party Guest List.

And next week, I’ll give you a full report on how it went and the books that these great figures have been influenced by.

Your host,

Andrew Cattanach

Click here to read all of Andrew’s Posts. Click here to follow Andrew on twitter.

Grab a seat Papa, what a brilliant choice, mojitos for all!

Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Paula McLain

author of The Paris Wife

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents in 1970, my two sisters and I were sent off into a series of foster home placements. This was an incredibly transient way to grow up, and we switched schools a lot, though always stayed in public schools. At eighteen, when I aged out of the system, I went to a community college and embarked on a highly inefficient course of study. Nothing really inspired me until, at age 24, I stumbled into a creative writing class. Voila, I had found my passion.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I thought being a secretary was pretty appealing. I liked the reassuring clicking of typewriter keys, and liked what I imagined was a keen sense of order. At eighteen, I began working in a convalescent hospital, and thought I might be a nurse. I had watched a lot of soap operas featuring hospitals as glamorous places where one might meet a doctor husband. My convalescent hospital was decidedly unglamorous. When I was thirty, I was in graduate school studying poetry, and trying like crazy to be a poet—have a career and publish a book. I did accomplish that, though I ultimately stopped writing poetry along the way.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That the world is a terrifying place. I was afraid of everything at eighteen—and though because of my childhood trauma, I had good reason to be, it was also terribly limiting. It wasn’t until I left California in my Continue reading

Rebecca Lim, author of Mercy, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rebecca Lim,

author of Mercy,

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Singapore but raised and schooled in marvellous Melbourne, Australia. I speak a kind of terrible, pidgin Mandarin Chinese around my relatives, but I think and dream in English.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I wanted to be a picture book writer and would hand deliver wonkily-drawn picture book manuscripts to the Melbourne offices of imprints that have slowly disappeared from Australia over the years (remember Methuen, anybody?).

At eighteen, all I knew was that I didn’t want to study Medicine (partly because everyone thought that would be an excellent career choice) but I did want a job that revolved around ideas, words and writing. So I picked Continue reading


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