Upcoming workshops and events

All workshops require payment at time of booking. Bookings can be made by phone on 6262 9191 (Tuesday-Saturday), online or in person at the ACT Writers Centre office—Gorman House, Ainslie Avenue, Braddon. The Writers Centre has credit card facilities and EFTPOS. If paying by cheque, make payable to ACT Writers Centre. Enrolment will not be confirmed until payment is received.


Turning Your Dreams into Stories People Want to Read with Kaaron Warren

10am–1pm Saturday 28 February

Let's face it. Hearing someone else's dream is boring. "It started in this weird garden," they say, before going on to describe random events that are meaningless to you. Clueless people will give you every detail, no matter how long it takes. We want to recount our dreams because they are such emotional experiences for us. Fascinating, terrifying, delightful. We feel as if we've lived those moments and we want to share them.

The trick in story telling is to conceal that dream inspiration so that people can't pick it. To turn that dream into a real story, one that people will actually want to read or to listen to.

The workshop will discuss the history of dream analysis, the purpose of dreams and the possible meanings of dreams. We will talk about individual dreams, and explore ways to turn them into actual stories.

Potential participants should start a dream diary, so they have material to work with.

Bram Stoker Nominee and Shirley Jackson Award winner Kaaron Warren has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She's sold almost 200 short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification) and four short story collections. Through Splintered Walls won a Canberra Critic's Circle Award for Fiction, an ACT Writers' and Publisher's Award, two Ditmar Awards, two Australian Shadows Awards and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her story "Air, Water and the Grove" won the Aurealis Award for Best SF Short Story and appeared in Paula Guran's Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Her latest short story collection is The Gate Theory.
Kaaron is a Current Fellow at The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, where she is research Robert Menzies, Sir William Ashton and the Granny Killer, John Wayne Glover. The resulting crime novel should see print in 2016.

You can find her at kaaronwarren.wordpress.com and she Tweets @KaaronWarren

Cost: $60 members, $40 concessional members, $125 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $110 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Does the darn thing work? The Art of Manuscript Assessment with Kaaren Sutcliffe

10am–4pm Saturday 14 March

Reviewing a manuscript as a whole is an acquired art, as is providing candid, balanced and detailed feedback to the author and keeping intact their motivation to write. Manuscripts are composed of many facets and, depending on the skill of the author, some will work and some may not. Establishing why a manuscript isn't quite right can be elusive and requires much thought.

This workshop will look at what makes a good manuscript and what doesn't. Participants will go through the building blocks of fiction and what they need to be effective, as well as consider how the major components should work together to deliver a coherent and fluid story. You can build a template for an assessment report with clear and logical headings and that covers what the author will need to know about the state of their manuscript. We'll discuss ways of giving feedback constructively and tactfully.

This workshop is suited for those who wish to move into structural editing or manuscript assessment—would also be useful for authors who need some tools to be able to review their own work more objectively, or anyone who is interested in performing manuscript assessments on a regular basis.

In this class you will learn:

  • Appreciation of the essential building blocks of a manuscript and key aspects to look for to see if they are effective.
  • Understanding of how to consider whether the work is integrated and the parts are working together to deliver the story.
  • Tips for disentangling style and language from the content of the work.
  • Clear understanding of the role of the manuscript assessor and how to build (and maintain) the author/assessor relationship.
  • Options for compiling a professional assessment report and appreciation of the importance of being candid while also deploying tact and balance.

Kaaren Sutcliffe has been active in the ACT and region writing scene since the late 1990s. Her journey started as a writer of children's stories, initially published by Ginninderra Press and IrrePressible. She moved on to complete and publish two fantasy series, regarded as young-adult/adult crossover novels, and also published a nonfiction book on practical job application and interview techniques. After attaining Diplomas in Professional Children's Writing and Professional Editing and Proofreading in 2001, Kaaren became a freelance manuscript assessor, editor and proofreader. Since then she has assessed or edited numerous works across a range of age groups and genres, either as part of the ACT Writers Centre manuscript assessment scheme or from direct approaches by authors. Kaaren has also judged several children's short story competitions and has previously been a judge for the ACT Publishing Awards in both the fiction and nonfiction categories.

In 2012 Kaaren became an Accredited Editor with the Institute of Professional Editors. For the past two years she has been Vice President of the Canberra Society of Editors. An analytical writer and thinker, she immensely enjoys assessing the work of others and offering constructive feedback. Kaaren has also worked as an in-house editor and writing coach for government agencies.

Cost: $125 members, $90 concessional members, $190 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $140 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Using Scrivener with Marcus Amann

10am–2pm Saturday 28 March

In this workshop you will learn why Scrivener has become the tool of choice for authors around the world. Marcus will cover:

  • Importing existing Microsoft Word manuscripts into Scrivener
  • Step-by-step workflow
  • Customising your preferences to suit your workflow
  • Tips for organising and viewing your research
  • Creating a clickable table of contents
  • Compiling for different eBook formats, such as Kindle .mobi and Smashwords

Bring along your laptop with your copy of Scrivener and Marcus will answer your Scrivener questions. Get the most out of this powerful writing and publishing tool by attending this half-day workshop.

Marcus Amann has been producing eBooks since 1995 and is a long-time technical writer and editor for a Canberra-based software company. Marcus has also worked as a freelance writer and taught internet marketing at the Canberra Institute of Technology. Marcus recently used Scrivener to complete a Graduate Certificate in Comic Scriptwriting and continues to use it for all of his creative writing projects.

Cost: $80 members, $55 concessional members, $145 non-members(includes 12 months of membership), $110 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Writing for the Web with George Dunford

10–4pm Saturday 18 April

The web has created a new way of writing and reading. Even in the age of tl:dr (too long: didn’t read), you can create rich content online and build audiences for your work. With this full-day masterclass you’ll go beyond the buzzwords to understand how your writing can become web content—findable, amplified across social media and different devices, and effective online. 

User experience has revolutionised the web and digital writers can hone their skills to hit the right audience. Increasingly, content is not just about the web but finding ways to strengthen your message through social media and different devices so writers are re-using and re-inventing their work in different forms.

This class focuses on professional writing for the most effective communication tool in history. Drawing on latest web trends and in-depth experience of working with large websites, this masterclass looks at what makes web writing unique and powerful.

This class is suitable for writers wanting to transition traditional or print skills online, beginners on the web. Refreshing skills for jobs with increased digital expectation. Familiarity with the web required but writing experience can be from beginners to expert.

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Write content that is web-ready (including social media, blogs, websites and professional journalism)
  • Understand online writing style and conventions
  • Optimise content for search engines
  • Create accessible content
  • Re-use content for different devices
  • Understand current web trends in content including blog posts, web pages, social media and email marketing.
  • Encourage interaction with your audience using tested web 2.0 principles

George Dunford has been working on web content for over 10 years for Lonely Planet, ABC, Yahoo!7 and The Wheeler Centre. He’s taught online writing for RMIT University, CAE and Writers Victoria. He is currently director of Digital Engagement at the National Library of Australia and chairs the Digital Culture Talks which look at the intersection of culture and technology. For more information please see: www.georgedunford.com

Cost: $125 members, $90 concessional members, $190 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $140 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


How to Audition Your Characters–a Masterclass with Valerie Parv

10am–4pm Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 May

There are as many ways to create characters as there are writers, but some methods are more effective than others. In this 2-day masterclass, you'll discover how to treat your story people as lead actors in your production. Just like actors, they will need to audition for you, to ensure they work in your story.

Based on methods used by some of the most successful casting directors on Broadway and in Hollywood, this masterclass introduces you to the 12 guideposts studied by actors as a way to bring depth and meaning to a role, despite having only a few minutes to impress a producer.

As a writer, you also have limited time to hook readers and keep them turning pages, so it's important to bring your characters to life as quickly and deeply as possible. With enjoyable, interactive exercises and a hands-on approach, the 12 guideposts show you a new way to get there.

Valerie Parv, recipient of the Australian Society of Authors MEDAL 2014-2015, has published 86 books including nonfiction, selling more than 30 million copies in 26 languages. In recent years she has ventured into science fiction romance with her Beacons series of ebooks published by Corvallis Press, USA, starting with Birthright and Earthbound (2014), with Homeworld and two related novellas in the series. She is an in-demand presenter of masterclasses and popular speaker including at Romance Writers of America national conference and RT Book Reviews, New York, and is represented by The Tate Gallery, Sydney.

Cost: $250 members, $180 concessional members, $315 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $230 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Stand Out Self-Publishing: Tricks and Tips to Publishing a Book Successfully in Today's Market with Samantha Tidy

1pm–5pm Saturday 9 May

There are many publishing pitfalls that the novice self-publisher almost always makes, resulting in little to no return on their investment. This masterclass will look at how to successfully self-publish a book in the current Australian marketplace, taking advantage of distribution, marketing and media opportunities. Most importantly, the class covers how NOT to look self-published and how to produce a product that is worthy of sitting alongside the new releases in any Australian bookstore, nationally distributed, and unrecognisable as a self-published title.

This class is suitable for anyone who is considering, or is on the cusp of self-publishing a fiction or nonfiction book.

By the end of this course you will have an understanding of:

  • the key elements of book publishing in Australia, including production, distribution and sales of books (bookstores) and what percentage each element takes as profit for their contribution to a book's journey
  • the tight profit margins of the traditional publishing industry
  • the financial outlay involved in hardcopy self-publishing
  • the value of proofreading and editing, and the difference between the two professionals
  • legal (and non-legal but recommended) requirements of publishing a book
  • design and typesetting principles of a good quality publication
  • the national book distributors that operate in Australia
  • the basics of book marketing; and
  • where eBooks fit into the publishing world, and how to publish in both hardcopy and eBook format, complimenting one another.

Samantha Tidy is a Canberra author of adult and children's fiction. She has written freelance non-fiction for 15 years, for magazines and newspapers, as well as writing book contributions for large publishers such as Dorling Kindersley. Along the way her career has also found her working behind the scenes in the publishing world—as a booking agent for authors, as a bookseller and as a magazine editor. Whilst Samantha has been published by traditional publishers and large organisations, her background knowledge in marketing and publishing has allowed her to find great success with self-publishing. Each of her four major published works (two novels and two children's books) is either award-winning or multi-award-nominated. Her first novel Cappuccino Diva (2003) was Runner Up for the prestigious TAG Hungerford Award (2000) and her most recent novel The Happiness Jar, won the ACT Writing and Publishing Award for Fiction (2014).
In addition to her own writing career, she also mentors authors, is a manuscript assessor, and works with people to publish their own work independently, as successfully as possible. More information is available on her website: www.samanthatidy.com

Cost: $80 members, $55 concessional members, $145 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $110 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Spectacular School Presentations Seminar with Tania McCartney

10am–2pm Saturday 16 May

School and library visits are a sensational way to promote your work, network, earn money, develop a reputation within the children's book industry, and connect with your precious target audience—kids! In this two-hour seminar, authors and illustrators who are interested in expanding their careers will learn the ins and outs of the school and library visits process—from primary schools to high schools.

Participants will learn how to prepare for, source and approach schools, as well as organise an actual visit, what to charge, equipment needed, book signings and sales, author blurb, brochures and order forms. Various types of presentations will be covered, as well as creating great content, engaging children and making your presentation shine. Logistics, tips and tricks for success are also covered. For creators wanting to take that next step, this a priceless two-hour session packed with resources and know-how!

Author Illustrator Tania McCartney has been public speaking for over fifteen years, and has been presenting and running workshops for children and adults at schools, libraries, writing conferences and festivals since 2008. She has spoken to audiences of over 400 people, and is a regular school presenter in both in the ACT and interstate. A presenter for both CBCA and SCBWI, she will be a featured author at the Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore this June. Visit her at www.taniamccartney.com

Cost: $45 members, $60 concessional members
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking


Writing Historical Biography with Kristen Alexander

10am–1pm Saturday 23 May

In this workshop participants will receive an understanding of biographical writing practice. They will gain an appreciation of the elements of telling a life story, in particular the best way to use primary and secondary sources and to discern when they are unreliable.
Topics covered include:

  • challenges of biography
  • the pitfalls of memory unreliable sources
  • an appreciation of the subject's life and times
  • integrating the personal into history
  • competing voices you versus your subject
  • you can't include everything what to leave out
  • 'free time' to share writing and researching experiences.

This workshop will suit novice historians writing historical biography.

Participants are invited to send Kristen details of their personal interests and writing experiences, including any specific writing issues they would like to discuss, at least a week beforehand to ensure a broad range of examples.

Kristen Alexander loves afternoon tea served on fine china, cats, leaf tea, old movies, and her husband David (not necessarily in that order). She is a passionate reader whose personal and research collections have outgrown their purpose-built bookshelves and threaten to take over the house. Kristen's main writing interest is Australian aviation history but she considers herself a biographer rather than a military historian because, well, she has written mainly biography: Clive Caldwell Air Ace, Jack Davenport Beaufighter Leader, and Australian Eagles, a collection of biographical essays. With Australia's Few and the Battle of Britain she moved from a single biography to multi-biography. Flying Gipsy, which is currently in production, is a biographical sketch of 1930s pilot Lores Bonney based on her diaries and other personal papers.
Kristen won the Military Historical Society of Australia's Sabretache Writers Award in 2012 and 2013, Jack Davenport Beaufighter Leader was included on the RAAF Chief of Air Force's 2010 reading list, and Australian Eagles was awarded a Highly Commended in the non-fiction section of the 2014 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards.

She can be contacted at www.kristenalexander.com.au, fondly referred to as 'one big skite', her Facebook page www.facebook.com/KristenAlexanderAuthor, on twitter @kristenauthor, or even via her blog kristenalexanderauthor.blogspot.com.au

Cost: $60 members, $40 concessional members, $125 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $90 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking

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Workshop codes

The Centre's workshops and seminars now carry a code to help you choose the right workshops to match your abilities. Adherence to the codes is not mandatory, but should be used as a guide as to whether a workshop is suitable.

1 = Established writer with at least one published book.
2 = Developing writers who may have been published in journals etc.
3 = Emerging writers with little or no published work yet.
4 = Writing for enjoyment/basic improvement.