The 2012 Byron Bay Writers Festival … impressions from a children’s writer

SCBWI Qld author and blogger, Taryn Bashford blogs on her experiences at the recent Annual Byron Bay Writers Festival. Visit her blog or website to find out more about Taryn.

Beautiful Byron Bay (image courtesy of the Byron Bay Community Markets)

Firstly, I went along as a volunteer and I highly recommend doing this if you want to save the entry fee because it’s lots of fun, you meet lots of people and you feel like you’re a real part of the Festival. I was a host and had 8 writers assigned to me (I was like their PA for a day). Just contact them via the website.

Anyhow, this was my first visit and the general impression was that the visitors loved it, thought there was a good breadth of topics and some great authors there. I was surprised at the number of children and YA authors in attendance; Morris Gleiztman, Andy Griffiths, Isobelle Carmody, Shamini Flint and Sarah Brennan to name a few.

From the standpoint of a writer though, there was very little there in terms of learning your craft. The only session catering for us writers was the pitch session (45 mins for 6 pre-determined people to do a 5 min pitch) but this was interesting as ever with publishers from Harper Collins and Harlequin Teen.

I have to say the most exciting day for me was the Sunday as it was Children’s Day. To see a whole marquee full of 5 to 14 year olds, all there to listen to authors, buy their books and get them autographed, was very exciting. We should thank these authors for attending because they are creating so much interest in reading books and that will certainly benefit those of us wishing to publish in this market – and their own sales of course!

All in all, a great venue, some brilliant authors to talk to and listen to but more geared to readers than writers.


EXHIBITION: JOURNEY OF A BOOK: Celebrating books-from idea to publication

A SPECIAL EXHIBITION at the Brisbane Square Library, George St, Brisbane city Level 2 … 13th July to August 30th

Showcasing the work of many of Queensland Children’s Authors and Illustrators – organised by the SCBWI Qld team and the Brisbane City Council events organiser, Michelle Richards.

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The Exhibition launch was held on Friday 13th July 2012 and will run until the end of August. Many supporters turned up to the launch and celebrated with the authors and illustrators.

The exhibition was launched by Jenny Stubbs, organiser of the Ipswich Children’s Literary Festival, co-ordinate the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network, president of Book Links Qld and passionate supporter of children’s books and their creators.

Authors’ work is displayed in individual glass cases, and illustrators’ framed images hang on large wall spaces.

Each exhibit demonstrates how authors create books – from the first glimmer of an idea to the finished product. They feature artifacts, photographs, images, first drafts, final manuscripts and the book itself.

Featured authors:

David McRobbie – Vinnie’s War

Josie Montano – Little Penguin

Judy Paulson – Baby Tawnies

Kim Michelle Toft – Recipe for Perfect Planet Pie

Nette Hilton – The Web

Tina Marie Clark – African Orphans

Peter Taylor – Calligraphy

Katherine Battersby – two Squish Rabbit books

Pam Rushby – The Horses Didn’t Come Home

Sheryl Gwyther – Secrets of Eromanga

Jennifer Poulter – Mending Lucille

Prue Mason – Camel Rider

Angela Sunde – Pond Magic

Featured Illustrator:

Peter Allert

Lynn Priestley

Anil Tortop

Ozan Tortop

Lynelle Westlake

Finding time to write… Guest post: Taryn Bashford, author

Finding time and place to write is sometimes half the battle when writing stories.  

So it’s a pleasure to welcome our guest blogger,  Taryn Bashford as she shares some of her experiences. Taryn is a member of SCBWI Qld and very enthusiastic about the world of children’s writing.

As writer’s we’re always looking for ways to help us get more writing time. We all have our strategies like blocking off ‘writing time’, turning off the phone, shutting down the email and so on. But if you’re like me, I find with my home office so close (yes, the day job), the washing machine just across the way, the dishes piling up, the fridge looking a bit empty, the beds needing changing – that it’s all too easy to get distracted or pulled away from your writing time.

This year I’ve tried something new and wanted to share it with you because it’s made a lot of difference. I’ve actually left the house. I take my laptop, notepads and so on and leave the house by 9am. Where do I go?

At first it was cafes and I know some of you might want to know how one concentrates there. Indeed, I did too. Until I tried it. I found I got so caught up in my novel, my mind feeling liberated and unencumbered and perhaps not subconsciously glancing at the washing pile that I felt like I was in a bubble and didn’t hear anything around me. I was very surprised at how easy it was to get lost in my novel and not be distracted by fellow coffee drinkers. 

However, as a final point, I actually found going to sports clubs, hotel coffee areas or holiday resort-style restaurants was even better. No one wondered why my pot of tea lasted for 2 hours as these places are used to people hanging out for a while. I even hang out with the holidaymakers at hotel swimming pools with my lap top and you really are invisible then.

Taryn Hall-Smith writes articles for the health market and is hoping to publish a middle grade novel called Believe under her pen name, Taryn Bashford. Visit her blog or website: