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,


Posted in Networking, Professionalism, Publishing Opportunity, Road to Publication, Writing Conferences | 1 Comment

Spring- New Beginnings For Your Manuscripts

Ah Spring, the time of renewal, warmer weather (not that Winter’s been that cold until the last fortnight) increased energy and hopefully greater health- Winter has not been kind to me this year. I hope it has treated you better.

Hello dear fellow Children’s Writers and friends,

Spring is indeed all of the above, it is also your final season to get your manuscripts polished within an inch of their life and out of your drawers and files, into the publishing houses. Why is this the perfect time to polish and submit? Simple, you have three solid months after the fun, full and frantic ‘Book Week/Month’ to focus on your unpublished masterpieces and send them off into the world before the publishing houses close their books for the Summer. Most Australian publishers close from December to February so best get cracking. That’s not a long time to research publishers and submit you say, well thanks to Alys Jackson whose post on Publishers Open to Submission, which I’m reblogging today, a lot of the hard work has been done for you. You’re welcome. Good luck to those submitting,

Children’s publishers accepting unsolicited submissions


Farewell fellow travellers,

Savour the journey,


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments