Enjoying a laugh with writerly friends Marie Alfaci, Claire Saxby, Sheryl Gwyther, Elaine Ouston, Julie Nickerson and Kath Battersby

Very few children’s authors become wealthy from their writing, but it is an industry rich with wonderful people and great friendships. I was reminded of this on the weekend when I attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane.

Queensland author, Sheryl Gwyther and her husband, Ross welcomed writers from all over Australia into their home. (Thanks Sheryl and Ross – Chateau Gwyther is always a great place to stay:-)

I spent an amazing weekend, laughing, brainstorming and sharing with other authors; knowing that I am not alone – that others share my love of children’s literature – that others share the ‘ups and downs’ of working in an industry where rejections are plentiful and acceptances are few and far between and must be celebrated with relish.

On Friday night, we attended a function, Four on the Floor at Black Cat Books Paddington featuring Julie Nickerson, Aleesah Darlison, Peter Carnavas and Oliver Phommavanh.

Oliver’s hilarious talk about his new book, Thai-riffic inspired us to dine afterwards at a nearby Thai restaurant.

Illustrator, Jo Thomspon set up a gorgeous display for The Glasshouse launch.

Saturday was full on at CYA Conference where I launched Sheryl Gwyther’s hot new book Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper and Jo Thompson and Paul Collins stunning new PB, The Glasshouse.

I also attended and was inspired by sessions and workshops with Kate Forsyth, Gabrielle Wang, Prue Mason and Chris Morphew. I love hearing how other authors work and came away from each session feeling as if I had learned something valuable or heard something that would help me decide future direction/revisions to my current WIP.

The hardest part was coming away feeling so inspired and not having the time to write until I got home again.


Sunday at CYA was Hatchlings day. From about 9.00am enthusiastic young writers aged 8-16 started trickling through the door, eyes alight with excitement and perhaps a few nerves.

I was very excited at the prospect of being able to do my Heroes and Villains workshop with a whole new group of young writers. And it was wonderful.

We talked about stereotyped heroes and villains and what makes a well rounded character. The kids had two photos as a starting point and worked on developing a character based on each picture; one hero and one villain or two villains if they preferred.

As well as interviewing each character to find out more about them, they looked at the relationship between the two and how they knew each other.

It was so much fun. It was also interesting to see how quietly and intensely they worked at making each character unique and interesting.

Unfortunately time was limited so they didn’t get a chance to put their characters into conflict, but right at the start of the workshop they got to act out their own Hero vs Villain scenario.

All in all it was another inspirational CYA conference. Thanks to Tina, Ally and crew for all your hard work in bringing together Australian children’s writers and illustrators and other industry professionals in such a fun and inspiring way.

And it was so great that young writers could share the experience this year.

Happy writing:-)



I can’t believe that today I have been in Brisbane for ONE WHOLE WEEK already.

You know you’ve settled into a place when someone stops and asks you directions to somewhere you’ve never heard of and looks at you suspiciously when you say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I’m not from around here.”

Hard at work plotting

Now that the workshops are finished (except for From Portrait to Prose on 7th April), I’ve been seriously getting into the writing. I applied for the May Gibbs Fellowship to work on my YA psychological thriller series. It’s a very complex thing – lots happening over three books and the ‘baddy’ not revealed till the end.

So I needed to do lots of plotting, and lots of scheming and laying out clues. I also needed the space to lay out large sheets of butcher’s paper to help me work out how this is all going to fit together.

That’s where this fellowship is such a wonderful opportunity for me – away from all other distractions, with the time and space to get my head around everything that’s going to happen.

Today, apart from going a fair way to plotting book one, I was also able to work out the Point of View for each book in the series – but more about that in future posts.

Enjoying food for thought with author Julie Nickerson. "Chocolate anyone?"

After working hard in the morning, I took a bit of time off in the afternoon to catch up  with good friend and QLD author of Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail, Julie Nickerson for hot chocolate and chocolate (you can never overdo chocolate, can you?)

Tomorrow I’m going to interview my main characters and find out just what secrets they haven’t told me – and where they fit in the story. After that, it will be time to give the computer keyboard a serious workout.