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.


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 **SOLD OUT**

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: This workshop is sold out. To go on the waiting list, please email admin(at)actwriters.org.au or fill out the online form.


Crafting Poetry with Lisa Jacobson

10am–4pm Sunday 10 May

Creating a good poem is like making a fine table. It requires the right tools and imagination. Maybe you have never written a poem, or maybe you have but want to extend your range. Beginners and intermediate writers will benefit from this session about what makes some poems stand up and others fall flat. There will be Q&A, sample poems and guided exercises. Treat yourself to a day devoted to poetry; its technical demands and enchantment.

Learning outcomes:

  • 7 techniques to transform your poems
  • Recovering imagination & playfulness
  • Strengthening form: detecting weak joints
  • Keynotes: sound, shape, language, meaning
  • Active reading: how poets read poetry

Lisa Jacobson is the author of three poetry collections: Hair and Skin & Teeth, The Sunlit Zone (which won the 2014 Adelaide Festival John Bray Poetry Award) and South in the World. In 2011 she won the Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize. Lisa has been motivating and inspiring writers of all levels for 25 years. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from La Trobe University, Melbourne. To read her poetry, go to www.lisajacobson.org

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.

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.


Irresistible Voices with Andy Kissane

6pm–9pm Monday 11 May

"You mightn't think it, but Sloppy is a beautiful speaker of a newspaper. He do the Police in different voices." —Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

In the best fiction it is not just what is said, but how it is said that matters. This workshop focuses on the crucial area of voice and investigates strategies for finding and harnessing a voice to suit your story. A range of distinctive narrative voices will be discussed, as we work towards an analysis of how each voice is created and sustained. You will experiment with the creation of voices that are idiosyncratic, memorable and not your own. From colloquial to formal, naïve to sophisticated, and exaggerated to deadpan, we will investigate how the narrator's voice is a tool for developing characterisation and prose style. We will also consider how voice can inflect third person narration, through the use of free indirect style, where the narrator's voice takes on the nuances and idioms of her characters.

This workshop is interactive, informative and exercise-based. Come prepared to talk, think, write and have fun.

Andy Kissane is a writer of fiction and poetry. His fiction includes the novel, Under the Same Sun, (Sceptre, 2000) which was shortlisted for the Vision Australia Audio Book of the Year and a collection of short stories, The Swarm (Puncher & Wattmann, 2012) which was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Rebecca Starford wrote in The Australian that The Swarm "is a terrific addition to Australia's thriving contemporary short fiction." His short stories have been published in six Sleepers Almanacs, and in Heat, Island and recently in The Best Australian Short Stories 2013 (Black Inc).

Kissane has published four collections of poetry, including Radiance which was shortlisted for the 2015 Victorian Premier's Prize for Poetry and Out to Lunch, shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Prize for Poetry. He was the winner of the 2013 Fish International Poetry Prize. He has read his work in Ireland, England, Vienna, where he was a guest of the 13th International Conference on the Short Story, and many venues in Australia. He teaches creative writing in the community, schools and universities. Visit him at http://andykissane.com

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.


Spectacular School Presentations Seminar with Tania McCartney

10am–12pm 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: $25 members, $40 non-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.


Characters that Count with Cate Whittle

10am–2pm Saturday 4 July

Having believable characters that readers care about is an integral part of breathing life into any story.  Without characters that count, the web that weaves your story together is incomplete, but before your characters can step into the story, you, the writer, need to know them better than they even know themselves.

As a writer, you must feel as though your characters are real before your readers will be able to, and, once you have worked out how to create characters that count, you will have one of your story foundations firmly in place.

In this introduction to creating characters that count, participants will be invited to think about some well known characters from a range of familiar stories written for children and young adults, look at ways of getting to know everything you need to know about your characters to help them come to life, and find out how to introduce your characters without overwhelming readers with too much information.

Local author Cate Whittle sometimes steps out of her imagination, where amazing characters take her on fantastic adventures, long enough to write their stories down.  Also a mum and a teacher, the stories are most often for children and young adults, and frequently feature a dragon in one form or another.  Cate’s characters have come to life in stories that have won prizes and been shortlisted in competitions, including the Terry Pratchett Prize in 2013 when she got to go over to England and meet Sir Terry, and have been published in various different magazines and anthologies since 2002.  Her first full length, illustrated children’s book (which features a dragon!) is due to arrive on the scene any day now, with three others in the series being published by Omnibus following soon afterwards.  You can read about Cate’s writing adventure at www.catewhittlewrites.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.


Feature Writing and the Business of Freelancing with Benjamin Law

10am–4pm Saturday 5 September

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 journalist, columnist and screenwriter. He is the author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both of which were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. He is the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis, and has just finished writing TV adaptation of The Family Law for SBS and Matchbox Pictures. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekendfrankie and The Monthly, and has written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies in Australia and worldwide.

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.

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.


Spec Fic Masterclass with Marianne de Pierres

10am–4pm Saturday 24 October

In this full day masterclass, Marianne de Pierres will address some of the key issues in writing speculative fiction, including how to build convincing worlds, maintain narrative drive, and effectively blend sub-genres. A section of the workshop will also be spent on sharing current industry insight and the exploring the concept of creating adaptable content for New Media--how to survive in the brave new world of publishing.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Excellence in world-building
  • How to maintain narrative drive
  • How to successfully blend speculative fiction genres
  • How to create speculative fiction for the new world of publishing
  • Current industry insight

Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular Parrish Plessis trilogy and the award-winning Sentinents of Orion and Peacemaker series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into ten languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the Peacemaker series is currently being adapted into a novel adventure game. Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy a dark fantasy series for teens. Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs (and once upon a time three sons–before they grew up). Marianne also writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her websites at www.mariannedepierres.com  www.tarasharp.com.au and www.burnbright.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.

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.

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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.