The Benefits of Attending Smaller Festivals

Dear fellow Children’s Writers and Friends,

20191019_085543Exactly one week ago today I attended Day 2 of the StoryArts Brisbane Festival. It was a Masterclass with Lisa Shanahan on Writing for Children and it, like the previous day’s panels was worth every cent I spent including the cost of the plane ticket. This, value for money is, but one of the many reasons I like small festivals. There are of course many others, length, industry experts, abundance of opportunities and of course size.

Smaller Festivals such as StoryArts Brisbane present incredible value for money. As they are smaller the cost of attending is often reduced as they may be held in venues with lesser associated costs such as libraries and community centres. These, such as The State Library of QLD where the festival was held are still fine, attractive, well-equipped facilities.

Again due to the ability to use such venues, smaller festivals can often run over a whole weekend enabling a broad programme with increased choices, e.g. one day vs both days, an illustration workshop vs a research one or pitching workshop vs a writing one.

I was pleasantly surprised, both at this festival and at the Creative Kids Tales one I attended early this year, to find that there was quite a variety of excellent speakers and tutors. Each of these publishers, agents or creatives were well recognised and respected industry professionals, such as Walker Books Sarah Davis who played a dual role of Art Director and Creative- illustrator. Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood of Red Paper Kite Books, similarly spoke as Creatives and Publishers. Joining them and Sarah Davis on the Creatives Panel were Lisa Shanahan, Heath MacKenzie and the wonderful Dr. Robyn Sheahan-Bright who posed a whole new set of questions to both the Creatives and the Publishers eliciting interesting and previously (for me at least) unheard of insights and information for aspiring and emerging creatives like myself.

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Having so many industry experts on hand presented abundant opportunities to meet with and talk to them in either a paid assessment or socially over tea, coffee or champagne, and for those quick off the mark creatives at the Networking Dinner on Friday night. There was also the opportunity to pitch, both in the Alex Adsett workshop (purely for learning pitch writing skills) and in the First Page Pitch Publisher Panel session where several lucky and talented writers received a full or partial manuscript submission request. The were even a couple of contracts resulting from the paid assessments and the illustration portfolio display.

Finally the smaller numbers of people either professional, emerging or aspiring allowed for a much more personal festival. Meeting people in this way resulted in more relaxed, frequent and personal communication experiences, which for a socially awkward, introvert like myself was just bliss. As well as this, the buzz of being with other creatives (as we tend to be relatively isolated in our day to day work) was and always is, no matter the size of the festival or conference, a truly exciting, inspiring and invigorating experience.

My Top Takeaways

Publishing Panel

*You can tell if an author is enjoying themselves, if they care about what they’re writing about as the characters ring true. The story is more genuine and real.

Creatives Panel

*Think of rejections as badges of courage. Courage comes from the Latin word for heart. Write with heart, then if it means a lot to you that’s what matters, it doesn’t matter if it gets published.

*Take your time! If you want something lasting, you need to take time to make it your best.

Lisa Shanahan Masterclass

*If it comes too easily, it’s probably not your best and there is likely more work to be done.

*Be more aware of moments with heart in your day to day life, if they move you and stay with you there’s probably a story in that.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into StoryArts Brisbane and, if you too are a creative, that will consider attending it (in 2021) or another Festival or Conference in the future.

Farewell fellow travellers

Savour the quest,


About Artelle Lenthall

Hi Fellow Children’s Writers and Friends, I am a published Picture Book author as well as a wife, mother and Primary School teacher. I am loving the new 'sites' on the continuing road to publication. I belong to the Fellowship of Australian Writers(FAW) Creative Kids Tales(CKT) Jen Storer’s The Scribblers and although I'd love to belong to more writing related organisations, I have found friends, support, critiquing and general encouragement with these, for which I am truly grateful. I also subscribe to Tara Lazar's specialist Picture Book website; How to Write For Kids While Raising Them, Buzz Words and The Duck Pond where I am one of the moderators. These inspire me in the development of my craft. Worth a look if like me, Picture Books and Children’s Writing are your passion.
This entry was posted in Networking, Professionalism, Publishing Opportunity, Road to Publication, Writing Conferences. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Benefits of Attending Smaller Festivals

  1. Karen Tyrrell Author says:

    Hi Artelle, I’m thrilled you enjoyed StoryArts as much as me. Fabulous that we could share these experiences together, Your buddy, Karen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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