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Guest blogger: Catherine Evans

3 April 2016

CatherineEvansGroup work

Have you ever done group work? I used to have to do it at school and uni and I hated it. Someone always flaked off and didn’t do their share. Someone else would force their opinions on the group. Everyone wanted the credit but no one wanted to do the work. I vowed never to do group work again.

Yet I have, and quite successfully. It seems that when you choose to work as a group, and can choose the group, things work better.

In my agricultural science career, I worked on a lot of projects with multiple groups. My vow of never doing group work went by the wayside and I was very glad to be proven wrong. I learned to love group work—sharing information, brainstorming, checking out other people and places, learning to understand others’ issues. I even led a project with groups from right across Australia. We took a busload of farmers on a road trip as part of the group project and that was an awesome experience.

With my writing I’ve also been involved in group projects. My first print books have come about through group work, and one of those is out this week (the other is written under my pseudonym). I find it funny that group work has featured for both writing personas, especially after my early hatred of it.

Working in a group makes me more aware of myself. I become aware of things I might usually take for granted—like how I approach something (e.g. a story idea). I have to dig deep to find my self-confidence and hold my own in company that is often above my level of expertise. I have to listen, analyse, speak, compromise. I have to work things out that, if I was alone, I’d just do my way—and sometimes I’ve learnt better ways to do these things.

Group work can be confronting and challenging. But it can also be a time where you make new friends, learn more about yourself, stretch your wings, and sometimes you can learn to fly.

Jennie Jones, Lisa Ireland and I have been working together for two years on the Dollar for a Dream series, which has produced the print book Last Chance Country, containing our three individual stories. To get to this point, where the book is out, is a dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to hold a book with my name on it, in a bookshop … and this book has allowed me to do that.

I’ve come a long way from hating group work to loving it, but I couldn’t have changed my opinion without the loads of people I’ve done group work with (the ones after uni, anyway!!). So thank you for teaching me to love working with others.

How do you feel about group work? One lucky commenter will win a copy of our group’s print book, Last Chance Country. The giveaway closes on 17 April 2016. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Malvina.)

Last Chance CountryLast Chance Country

Move to the country for a dollar a week!

Dulili is suffering a people drought. Over the years more people have moved away than have arrived to stay in this old New South Wales farming town, and now only a handful of young families and elderly residents are left. The locals put a plan into action to entice newcomers: offering the town’s empty houses to people from anywhere in Australia. Who could resist renting a beautiful homestead for a dollar a week?

Three people, eager for a new chance at life, take up the challenge. Adele, newly retrenched and with a daughter in tow, is living on hope; while newly divorced Bea has a point to prove both to herself and her family. For Lachlan, a farmhouse for a buck, a job and a town to call his own seems perfect. But can he keep his secret in such a close-knit community?

Are the newcomers prepared for the revelations, disruptions and distractions of love?
Featuring stories by bestselling authors Jennie Jones, Lisa Ireland and Catherine Evans, Last Chance Country is a collection of small town dreams, second chances and the healing power of hope.

Includes the stories: A Heart Stuck On Hope, Honey Hill House and The Healing Season.

Catherine Evans is a city-born throwback to country genes. After completing an environmental biology degree, she desperately needed to move to the country. A job in agriculture was the perfect escape. After spending eighteen years in agricultural research and gaining a Masters degree in Agriculture, Cath has a passion for rural life.

Now living on the south coast of NSW, a large part of her heart belongs across the mountain ranges in the red dust.

The Healing Season is her first rural romance.

You can find Catherine here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

  1. kerriepaterson permalink
    7 April 2016 9:32 am

    I think group work where you have no control over the group (eg school & uni) ranks as one of my worst nightmares 🙂 Where you can choose the group, or at least where the group has the same values as you, makes it so much nicer! If you can trust that everyone will work professionally and pull their weight, it can be great. Congrats once again on your release!!

    • 7 April 2016 3:45 pm

      Hi Kerrie,
      It’s a wonder any of us ever did group work again after those awful ones at school and uni!! And we would have missed out on great fun working with like-minded souls 🙂

      Congrats on your new releases too, Kerrie! Hope they do well.

      Thanks for stopping in.

      Cath xo

  2. 4 April 2016 11:29 pm

    Working in a group with the right people is awesome! And you have the perfect combination here 😀 I already own a print copy, so no need to enter my name in the hat. I’m saving my copy to read on my plane trip.

    • 5 April 2016 12:38 am

      Hi Juanita,
      Thanks heaps for buying the book. Hope you enjoy it and your plane trip!

      The right people make a group, that’s so true.

      Thanks for coming by for a chat.

      Cath xo

  3. Malvina permalink
    4 April 2016 11:19 am

    I’m not a fan of group work at uni or school… There is always someone who never pulls their weight! But writing, now, is different. It’s creative and you want to be there and share the ideas. You make great friends! Congratulations on the new book, it looks terrific.

    • 4 April 2016 12:48 pm

      Hi Malvina,
      I think you make a great point about the creativity being the drawcard with writing in groups. It certainly helps generate ideas and enthusiasm. And yes, friends. That’s a great benefit from group work!

      Thanks for coming by to chat 🙂
      Cath xo

  4. Lynette williams permalink
    4 April 2016 10:11 am

    I have enjoyed the other books so look forward to reading this one –I don’t know about working together but as I have read a number of series written by groups & they all say how much fun they have working together—-LymW

    • 4 April 2016 12:45 pm

      Hi Lyn,
      I hope my story won’t let you down.

      I think writing can be quite a lonely and isolating business, that when there’s an opportunity to work in a group, people often love it because it’s different to the usual. There can be a lot of brainstorming and support, two things I miss when I’m on my own.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cath xo

  5. AnneGracie permalink
    3 April 2016 6:42 pm

    Hi Cath — I think it depends on the group. Some groups are made up of individuals who can’t work together — nightmare territory. But when it works, I love working in a group. And it depends what the job is — for writing, I still prefer to work on my own.

    • 3 April 2016 10:20 pm

      Hi Anne,
      Yes, groups are so individual. You always seem to be a part of lovely groups of other writers, which I’ve always admired.

      Thanks for stopping in for a chat.
      Cath xo

  6. leo1962 permalink
    3 April 2016 3:23 pm

    What a great blog with your debut book out in the world, Catherine.

    I love group work as it leads to robust discussions on the way to do things, new and exciting ideas being tossed around and ensures that, between the gathered group, all aspects of whatever the task is / tasks are covered.

    If everyone plays their part success is pretty much a given.

    It’s much more exciting that trying to wrestle with it all on your own…except, as you wrote, when people don’t pull their weight!


    • 3 April 2016 10:22 pm

      Thank you so much for enjoying the post, Sharon 🙂

      I’m glad you see the great aspects of group work too – but as you say, one person can make it a very different outcome! I hope you always have great groups to work with!

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Cath xo

  7. 3 April 2016 12:10 pm

    Hi there Catherine. Thanks for sharing about your dreams and fears with us. I really understood those feelings of self-doubt and trepidation for working in groups. I guess we have to take the good with the bad, which is a learning opportunity in itself. I’ve been in a few – quilting, exercise and conservation groups and all sorts of committees (eeeek), but none like the niche I’ve finally arrived at. I hang out at my library every Friday avo with a little group of writers in our small town. We are all so different in many ways, but we share a common passion in the power of self expression through watching, reading, listening and writing together or alongside one another. We’ve been at it for a year now and we have all grown so much! I would love to work on something like the Dollar for a Dream books with them. Dreams are really what it’s all about after all! Jay

    • 3 April 2016 10:24 pm

      Hi Jay,
      Your writing groups sounds like a fabulous group. It’s such a lovely feeling to find people you ‘click’ with. We started our project with just a dream, and it grew and grew. So good luck with your dreams – I wish you and your groups much success.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Cath xo

  8. 3 April 2016 11:10 am

    Hi Catherine

    And yes some group work can leave one person doing all of the work but there are lots of times working together can be very rewarding and fun as people become friends learn together and help each other. I have these three books as e-books and am very much looking forward to reading them love the premise of the three stories 🙂

    Have Fun

    • 3 April 2016 10:26 pm

      Hello Helen,
      I think you must have a book buying habit to rival my own – that’s what I love about ARRA, so many other addicted readers 🙂 Thank you for having our books on your reading device, it’s very much appreciated. I hope you enjoy them when you get to them.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Cath xo

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