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.


Unlocking Short Stories with Susanne Gervay

10am–4pm Saturday 11 October

The short story is a unique form of writing that crosses all genres from children’s, literary, commercial. It is not a novel or novella, although it has all the elements of the novel.  For a short story to resonate, it needs to have a strong idea driving it, strong characters and be structurally and thematically sound. This workshop unravels the elements of good short story writing – the ethos, themes, sub themes characters, language, structure, plots, sub plots, tone, style. It also tackles the road blocks to good short story writing from building tension, characterisation, language consistency, the space between the words, over writing, finding that ending.

Bring a story you are writing or have written to discover its strengths and work on its weaknesses to workshop and develop your skills.

Short stories are a pathway into the writing world through anthologies, journals, magazines, many types of competitions, online blogs, niche publications. They are also in and of themselves an extremely satisfying form of writing as evident from some of the world’s greatest short story writers such as Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, F Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens.

Susanne Gervay is an award winning short story writer, young adult and children’s author. She is widely published in literary journals and anthologies from children’s to literary, including Quadrant, Southerly, Westerly, Mattoid. Her acclaimed story ‘Days of Thailand’ is in the twenty story Picador Indian-Australian anthology Fear Factor, Terror Incognito alongside Sir Salman Rushdie and David Malouf and Thomas Keneally. She represented Australia with her story ‘To Timor Leste’ in the UNICEF anthology Peace Story that included works from 22 countries by 22 authors and 22 illustrators.
Susanne is an international and national speaker addressing audiences from New York, Delhi, Ubud Bali, Byron Bay to Beijing Literature Festival. She is head of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Australia East & New Zealand, former chair of the NSW Writers Centre, Australia Day Ambassador, Role Model for Books in Homes, writer ambassador for Room to Read, awarded an Order of Australia, the Lady Cutler Award and the UTS Award for her writing. www.sgervay.com

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


The Little Red Writing Masterclass: a Crash Course in Style and Grace with Mark Tredinnick

10am–4pm Sunday 12 October

The Little Red Writing Workshop is a crash-course in style, craft and grace for everyone who writes and wants to write better. Drawing on Mark's inspiring writing guide The Little Red Writing Book, the course (like the book) focuses on sentence craft and technique, and it's aimed at both creative and functional writers.

Writing is an act of speech; good writing is talk, tidied by art and set down on paper (or screen). Good writing, no matter what it's about, sounds like someone speaking in a voice truer than the voice they use for gossip and scolding—talking to someone they love about something they know. Literature is divine chatter—the god in you talking with the god in me. (In functional prose, good writing is your best and most orderly self talking at your clearest to a smart person with very little time to spare.)

It matters much less what one writes about than how one does the telling. To tell you what a good book is about is to tell you next to nothing about the book; what lasts is everything that is not reducible to the narrative. The encounter with a unique self, bearing honest witness to itself and the world.

Poetry is "memorable speech", it has been said. But that's just as true, in different ways perhaps, in marketing and commerce, science and law.

So: to write well is to talk like someone in particular (yourself, down deep); it is to tell a story the way that only you can tell it. But, curiously, one's own voice doesn't come easy; naturalness is hard work. Writing better means getting out of your own way. For that, you need both technique and courage. The Little Red Writing Workshop is a gentle intensive in technique (most of the technique is sentence making, and that's what most of this course is about), and it's a shortcourse in courage.

No one can teach you what your stories are, but you can never learn enough about how to get them told the way that only you can tell them. The Little Red Writing Workshop is a place to start.

Learning outcomes:

  • How to write the way you speak, how to sound like yourself—only better.
  • Three or four shortcuts to style and grace: less is more; short words are best; the soul loves the particular; the active trumps the passive.
  • Sentence craft: the long and the short; the plain and the fancy; the bad and the good and the beautiful.
  • The art of the draft: How to plan; how to begin; how to carry on; how to end (and how to know when to). The art of the redraft: how to go back and do it all again…and again…and again
  • Creative writing and functional writing, and how most of the same rules apply to both.

Mark Tredinnick, winner of the Montreal and Cardiff Poetry Prizes, is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and writing teacher. He is, according to Judy Beveridge, "one of our great poets of place—not just of geographic place, but of the spiritual and moral landscape as well". His thirteen books include Bluewren Cantos (2013), Australian Love Poems 2013 (ed.), Fire Diary: Poems (2010), The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir (2009), The Land's Wild Music (2005), The Road South (2008); and the bestselling writing guides The Little Red Writing Book (2006), The Little Green Grammar Book (2008), and (with Geoff Whyte) The Little Black Book of Business Writing (2010). His third book of poems Body Copy will appear in 2014 and he is at work on Reading Slowly at the End of Time, a memoir on the consolations of reading in a frantic age.

Fire Diary won the WA Premier's Book Award. The Blue Plateau won the Queensland Premier's Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minster's Award and the ACT Book of the Year Award. Mark's other honours include the Calibre Essay Prize, the Blake Poetry Prize, and the Newcastle Poetry Prize (twice). His work is widely published and anthologised in Australia and overseas; his poems have appeared in The Best Australian Poems, and his essays in The Best Australian Essays.

For ten years Mark was a book publisher and, before that, a lawyer. He lives and writes in the Southern Highlands, southwest of Sydney, where he runs the Cowshed Classes.

For more on Mark: www.marktredinnick.com.au

This tour is made possible by the support of the Australia Council for the Arts in collaboration with the national network of State and Territory Writers Centres.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Page + Stage: Writing Poetry and Spoken Word with David Stavanger

6pm–8pm Thursday 16 October

Page + Stage will introduce participants to the key elements of writing poetry for both the page as well as spoken word for the stage, with a focus on:

  • form, prompts, narrative, point of view, imagery, erasure & cut-up, extended metaphor, concrete VS abstract, free writing & flash fiction, active voice, movement, setting, the power of three, list poetry, sensory writing, rhyme, rhythm and repetition and other key poetic devices
  • various creative prompt based exercises. over the /workshop, participants will also write a number of draft poems
  • brief editing tips for both page poetry and spoken word

The course will also explore aspects of poetry slam & local performance & publishing opportunities for writers to showcase their work.

David Stavanger—aka Ghostboy—is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Australian poetry. He is also a lapsed psychologist. In 2013 he won the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Award and was also Australia's inaugural Reader-in-Residence based at Brisbane Square Library. As his alter ego, Ghostboy, he is a Green Room nominated spoken word artist, who has won the Performance Poetry World Cup (Nimbin) and performed nationally and overseas. Ghostboy also established the thriving QLD poetry slam scene and has performed on stages around the world, both solo and with the band Golden Virtues. The Special (UQP), his first full-length collection of poetry, has just been launched at the QLD Poetry and Brisbane Writers Festivals.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $10 members, $20 non-members
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Book Marketing and Self-Promotion with Tania McCartney

10am–4pm Saturday 18 October

The expected learning outcomes for this workshop are a deeper understanding of how vital effective self-promotion can be for authors and illustrators. It has been said that the difference between a ‘successful’ author and a not-so-successful one may soon well be in their ability to market themselves effectively.

Participants will learn about marketing both their work and themselves as an author or illustrator. They will learn how to compete in the market, how to make themselves and their work stand out in a saturated book world and how to do things with excellence and savvy.

They will learn about hosting readings and other events, as well as the phenomenal marketing opportunities available online, brand development and how to maximise their output for positive results.

Tania McCartney is an award-wining author of both children’s and adult books. The founder of respected sites Kids’ Book Review (www.kids-bookreview.com) and the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, she is an experienced book and magazine editor, publisher, illustrator, reviewer and speaker. She has a great passion for juvenile literacy and book design. Tania’s latest books include Tottie and Dot, An Aussie Year, and Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo: A journey around Canberra. Tania has lived in Paris, London and Beijing, and currently lives in Canberra with her supportive husband, two gorgeous kids, and a mountain of books. Visit her at www.taniamccartney.com

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


In Conversation: Michael McKernan

6pm–8pm wednesday 22 October

In partnership with the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

Ever come across a fascinating person and wished you could sit next to them at dinner? The Australian Society of Authors national ‘In Conversation’ series features professionals from your industry talking about writing, publishing and the business of authorship.

Michael McKernan is a professional writer, reviewer and commentator in the area of Australian history. He is an advisor to the ABC and appears weekly on ABC radio and is author of The BrumbieDrought and The Strength Of A Nation.

Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $10 members
Bookings: You can book online with the ASA or phone them on 1800 257 121 (toll-free). Payment is required at time of booking.


Writing Narrative: The Art of Story with Aleesah Darlison

10am–4pm Saturday 25 October

Do you have a great idea for a story but don’t know how to write it? Learn the key components of narrative writing in this fast-paced workshop to get you started.

Popular children’s author and short story writer, Aleesah Darlison, teaches participants the basic concepts of story/narrative writing. She leads them through a series of brainstorming exercises to develop ideas for new stories. Participants are given time to start several stories and read them out to the group. Handouts provided.

Participants will learn:

• Key components of story
• Planning and pacing your story
• Where do ideas come from?
• Creating tension, drama, comedy and cliff-hangers
• Great opening hooks
• Satisfying endings

Aleesah Darlison writes picture books and novels for children, both in the contemporary fiction and fantasy genres. She also reviews books for The Sun Herald. Aleesah is an experienced workshop presenter. She is a founding director of Literature Live! an organisation delivering literary content to classrooms across Australia and internationally through video conferencing technology.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


The Story of My Life: a Masterclass with Benjamin Law

10am–4pm Saturday 1 November

If you've ever considered writing about your life—in columns, personal essays or as a memoir—but weren't sure where (or how) to start, then join this in-depth exploration of writing the most important story you'll ever tell: your own. In this workshop, memoirist, journalist and Good Weekend columnist Benjamin Law will teach you key techniques for writing about not only yourself, but the people, places, and experiences of your life in a way that remains true to memory and excites readers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • How to identify the elements of your life that are most interesting to readers
  • How to refine and distill your storytelling voice
  • How to stay on task and time-manage the epic task of writing your life on the page
  • How to write over 20,000 words in a single month – the start of a good memoir, or a collection of magazine columns

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies.He is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. The Family Law has been translated into French and is currently being developed for television. Gaysia was published in India in 2013 and North America in 2014. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards, and he is now working on his next. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), frankie and The Monthly. He has also written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies in Australia and worldwide. For more information about Benjamin and his work please visit http://benjamin-law.com

This tour is made possible by the support of the Australia Council for the Arts in collaboration with the national network of State and Territory Writers Centres.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Feature Writing and the Business of Freelancing: a Masterclass with Benjamin Law

10am–4pm Sunday 2 November

The life of a freelance writer is tough. How do you transition from the occasional article to regular commissions or your own column? Join Benjamin Law for this full-day intensive class as he explores the essentials of successful freelance writing, and illuminates the business of freelancing in an ever competitive market. Learn how to generate great story ideas, hook publishers, and create an impressive portfolio to establish a solid professional brand. Pitch your feature article and get the feedback to get your freelance career off the ground.

Learning Outcomes

  • Generate endless ideas for stories
  • Seduce editors with solid pitches
  • Plan, research and craft stories
  • Invoicing and management
  • Time management

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies.He is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. The Family Law has been translated into French and is currently being developed for television. Gaysia was published in India in 2013 and North America in 2014. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards, and he is now working on his next. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), frankie and The Monthly. He has also written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies in Australia and worldwide. For more information about Benjamin and his work please visit http://benjamin-law.com

This tour is made possible by the support of the Australia Council for the Arts in collaboration with the national network of State and Territory Writers Centres.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Riding the Wave of YA Success: A Fangs Optional Workshop with Kaz Delaney

10am–4pm Saturday 8 November

Commercially speaking, Harry Potter gave it a good nudge. Of course, when Stephenie Meyer brought Twilight into the arena, that nudge became a shove. And that's all it took for authors of Young Adult novels the world over to pick it up and carry it over the finish line to create one of the most amazing phenomena in literary history. Editors and publishers can't get enough YA fiction and everyone from Stephen King down wants a piece of the action.

Why is this happening? Kaz Delaney will speak about her own journey and examine the ingredients of a successful YA novel. She will discuss tone, markets, audience, agents, selling across two continents and popular culture in the context of the YA novel.

Participants will have the opportunity to create their own compelling YA protagonist and be encouraged to dig deep to find the story that drives them.

Award winning YA & children's author, Kaz Delaney, and her alter ego, Kerri Lane have currently sold 68 books between them. Kaz's current title Dead, Actually (Allen & Unwin) is a 'crossover novel', closing the divide between adult and teen fiction, and recipient of the ARRA Award for Favourite Paranormal for 2012, and the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel for 2012, and was long listed for a Davitt Award in the children's/YA section. Dividing her time between teaching and writing, Kaz formerly tutored Creative Writing for CSU's Enrichment Program as well as teaching and creating courses for the Australian College of Journalism. Almost Dead, the next in the Dead series, is a January 2014 release.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Writing for the Education Market with Kerri Lane

10am–4pm Sunday 9 November

Writing for the education market can be lucrative and offers far more opportunities for publication. In fact, many of Australia's most prominent children's authors began their careers by writing education texts. So, how do you break into it, and what are the tricks?

This workshop looks at the education market and examines specific types of texts ranging from Early Readers through to Chapter Books and Young Adult novels, and beyond—to 'readers' targeted at the Adult Education market. Participants will learn about publisher requirements, deadlines, word counts, language level, suitable content and tone. The workshop will offer hints, tips and analyses of successful texts. Participants will come away with the knowledge and beginnings of their own text for Early Readers

Award winning YA & children's author, Kaz Delaney, and her alter ego, Kerri Lane have currently sold 68 books between them. Kaz's current title Dead, Actually (Allen & Unwin) is a 'crossover novel', closing the divide between adult and teen fiction, and recipient of the ARRA Award for Favourite Paranormal for 2012, and the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel for 2012, and was long listed for a Davitt Award in the children's/YA section. Dividing her time between teaching and writing, Kaz formerly tutored Creative Writing for CSU's Enrichment Program as well as teaching and creating courses for the Australian College of Journalism. Almost Dead, the next in the Dead series, is a January 2014 release.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Writing On The Body with Sarah St Vincent Welch

12pm–5pm Saturday 15 November

Discover how developing a sense of 'the body' can take your writing to a new level. Explore the exhibition Pulse: Reflections on the body, at Canberra Museum and Gallery, through writing, with Sarah and a group of fellow writers. Be inspired by visual art and learn ways to bring your writing to life. This guided and immersive workshop caters for all forms, and will include writing exercises and games, time to view the exhibition, and time to write and discuss. Follow up material to encourage participants to continue writing will also be provided.

Sarah St Vincent Welch is a creative writing facilitator with over fifteen years of experience. She received a citation from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council for ‘devising playful writing spaces that surprise, stimulate and support creative writing students to write and keep writing.’ Her short fiction has been published and anthologised, and has won the Marjorie-Graber McInnes Short Story Award twice. She won the inaugural Marian Eldridge Award, and The Jessie Litchfield Award. Sarah is interested in leading a continuing guided writing workshop that responds to exhibitions and collections.

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $54 members, $48 concessional members, $84 non-members (includes 6 months of membership)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.


Publishing a Picture Book with Tania McCartney

10am–4pm Saturday 22 November

This workshop is designed for those seeking to both create and produce children's picture books. It would also suit those keen to learn more about both the trade publishing and self-publishing markets, their constructs and the skillsets required.

Participants will learn about the processes required to create a picture book. Segments will include ideas, planning, storyboarding, the fusion of illustration with text, editing, book layout, design, and sourcing an illustrator.

Participants will also learn about the pros, cons and pitfalls of self-publishing, before exploring the basics of the self-publishing process and its requirements. This allows participants to better understand the self-publishing process, and whether or not this is the path for them—financially, as well as in terms of career development. Costing and projected revenue will be covered, as well as the complexity of marketing, sales and distribution.

Trade publishing, the way it works and its expectations from authors and illustrators, will also be covered. Tania will offer priceless tips on gaining a foothold into the children's trade market, and how to approach publishers.

For those wishing to take on the illustrious picture book, from an author, illustrator or publisher perspective, this workshop offers invaluable insight.

Tania McCartney is an award-wining author of both children's and adult books. The founder of respected sites Kids' Book Review (www.kids-bookreview.com) and the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, she is an experienced book and magazine editor, publisher, illustrator, reviewer and speaker. She has a great passion for juvenile literacy and book design. Tania's latest books include Tottie and Dot, An Aussie Year, and Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo: A journey around Canberra. Tania has lived in Paris, London and Beijing, and currently lives in Canberra with her supportive husband, two gorgeous kids, and a mountain of books. Visit her at www.taniamccartney.com

Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Code: All
Cost: $110 members, $95 concessional members, $170 non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
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.