SCBWI Queensland celebrates a great year

Another year of writing and illustrating is almost at its end. SCBWI Qld members met recently to celebrate another year of connecting and enjoying the company of many of our colleagues and friends in the world of publishing children’s books, celebrating successes and otherwise. 🙂

Some of our SCBWI Qld members

(l to r) Julie Nickerson, Angela Sunde, Ozan Tortop, Anil Tortop, Ally Howard, Lynn Priestley, Katherine Battersby, Sheryl Gwyther, Lucia Masciullo

Our end of year/Christmas party was a great success with yummy food, great company, lots of laughter and even a visit from a hairy gentleman in a red hat bearing gifts. Note: no further auditions for the part of Santa Claus will be needed. We have our star.


In SCBWI Queensland we’ve had member meetings this year in Brisbane with guest speakers, like Michelle Richards, the events coordinator at the Brisbane Square Library (with particular reference to children’s books); SCBWI Qld support team member, Pam Rushby, who gave us a great talk based on an article she wrote about selling your own books at a local market. At another meeting Pam also presented a Professional Development mini-workshop called “Perfect Pitching” following on from feedback from the Sydney conference pitching sessions. 

This year was also the first time SCBWI Qld ventured (physically) further into the state’s regions. Sheryl Gwyther (SCBWI Qld ARA) and team support member, Prue Mason flew to Cairns in far north Queensland. The meeting with members in the north was very successful and funding from SCBWI central will allow Sheryl to fly north again in April 2013 to ensure another regional meeting. In 2013, we’ll also be conducting a meeting/workshop in the Gold Coast region, and a workshop in the Sunshine Coast/Maleny hinterland. All members are welcome.

first SCBWI Qld regional meeting

The Cairns Regional visit

In July-August 2012 we had the opportunity for an exhibition in the Brisbane City Library in George Street. JOURNEY OF A BOOK … from idea to publication. A great success for many of our authors and illustrators. Thank you all who participated. 

Part of the Exhibition at the Brisbane city library

Part of the Exhibition at the Brisbane city library

2012 also saw a competition for our own SCBWI Qld logo – and because of the high calibre of entries from member illustrators, we ended up choosing three. One for this blog (Anil Tortop and Jennifer Poulter), one for Facebook (Jennifer Pearce) and one we use for our banner (Lynn Priestley). Thank you to everyone who entered.


Our new outdoor/indoor banner

This year saw a very successful national conference in Sydney for SCBWI Australia (east and west)/New Zealand. Roll on 2014 for the next one. 🙂

Our newsletter, SCWIBBLINGS also began life this year with three issues already ‘put to bed’. Looking forward to more member input over the new year. SCWIBBLINGS Newsletter Issue 1 2012

Best wishes to everyone in SCBWI Qld for the new year ahead. Hoping to connect up with many more of you over 2013. 


November is Picture Book Month.

My goodness, it is November already.  But before we think about singing Christmas carols (oh no!), this is a  great month to celebrate picture books.

Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative (since 2011)  that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November – though as children’s writers and illustrators we always value the importance and magic of picture books.

To celebrate the month, a different author or illustrator will visit each day to share their love of picture books, explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.

Click here to see their 2012 schedule­:

And make sure you look out for Australian picture book talents, Jackie French (November 11), Emma Quay (November 17)  and Bruce Whatley (November 28).

And, how can you participate in Picture Book Month?
There are many ways to celebrate Picture Book Month. Their official website has a Celebrate! page with suggestions on how you can join the celebration!

How can you become a Picture Book Month Ambassador?
Anyone who loves picture books can become a Picture Book Month Ambassador. All you have to do is place their PBM Ambassador logo on your website or blog  and celebrate by shouting out Picture Book Month. In exchange for using the PBM ambassador logo, all you need to do is link back to

And you might like to read SCBWI’s Christopher Cheng’s 2011 post on why picture books are important. Click here.

So let’s celebrate together. More information at

We’d love to here from our own SCBWI Queensland writers and illustrators  as to why you think picture books are important. Please feel free to leave your comment below.

Long Live the picture book!

Post by Helen Ross.

Leading Illustrators’ Auction for Indigenous Literacy

As facilitator and roving reporter for the Brisbane One Word One Day (OWOD)  illustrator event held on 11 May at the ABC Studios (South Bank), SCBWI Qld author and blogger, Helen Ross, gives us an update on the auction details scheduled for 25 September 2012.

Earlier this year a host of Australia’s best known and highly acclaimed artists (ASA and non-ASA members) created art for ONE WORD ONE DAY to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) to help disadvantaged kids in the remotest parts of Australia.

Artists had three hours to create a picture based on an inspirational word that the ASA released in the morning.

And there were many SCBWI Qld artists participating in the Brisbane OWOD event. What talent we have!  – Lucia Masciullo, Lynn Priestley, Angela Sunde,  Peter Taylor …

So now for the drum roll …..

The Australian Society of Authors, in partnership with the ABC and Micador will auction the 101 original artworks by these leading artists including Oscar-winning creator and illustrator Shaun Tan, Children’s Book Laureate Alison Lester and internationally recognised artist, Alison Jane Rice.

Tuesday 25 September, 6pm – 8pm
ABC Studios, 700 Harris St, Ultimo NSW
Registration essential – RSVP

Bid in person, by phone or absentee

Times: 10am – 2.30pm
Cost: $15
Bookings: Bookings essential – book online below or phone 1800 257 121 or (02) 9211 1004

To view all the fabulous artwork, click on:

BUT before you go. All SCBWI illustrators please put the 2013 date in your diary. It really was a fun day!

Brisbane                  Wed 15 May 2013, 10am – 2.30pm

For other OWOD 2013 event dates, click here.

And, to find out more about  Brisbane’s fabulous  OWOD 2012 event, click here.

And if you want to bid, or know of anyone who might be interested, please kindly pass this information on.

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

SCBWI Queensland heads up north

Queensland’s large geographical status means that very often SCBWI members from its widespread regions miss the contacts, networking and other opportunities those of us in southeast Queensland have.

To go some way to addressing this problem, I, as Assistant Regional Advisor, and support team member and author, Prue Mason, flew to Cairns recently to hold an informal meeting with our far north Queensland SCBWI members. Several even came some distance to attend – Port Douglas and Mena Creek, near Innisfail.


Thanks to the efforts of our SCBWI members in the region, Trudie Trewin, Ann Harth, Katrina Germein, Jacque Duffy and Kay Crabbe who passed on the information to other children’s writers and illustrators, a number of other interested writers turned up as well.

In north Queensland, SCBWI members are involved in writing picture books, fiction, non-fiction, poetry and self-published e-books. It’s clear that, even though the tyranny of distance is real for them, all are enthusiastic about what they’re doing.

Of course, as what happens when ‘the tribe’ get together, we continued talking about writing over lunch on the tavern’s wide deck overlooking the sea.

All the best,  Sheryl Gwyther

The Writing Life… it’s not all about the writing

Most people get a huge shock when you hit them with the facts – no, we don’t expect to ever earn enough royalty from our writing/ illustrating to rival JK Rowling. It’s more the case of what JK Rowling spends on her pet cat. Yearly.

Luckily, we don’t do it for money (alone)! 

Most of us have to supplement our income visiting schools and libraries, promoting reading, writing and heaven’s above, even our own books. The good side is, it’s fun! Sometimes stressful, but fun all the same.

I’ve asked author, Sue Lawson (on the occasion of the launch of her new book, Forget me not) to answers some in-depth questions about hitting the author appearance trail and how she copes with the bumps and hollows of these author gigs. 

Sue Lawson, Australian author

Welcome north of the border, Sue! I’ve got some specific questions that would interest practising authors…..

1. When you have a class group, do you plan the writing activities around your novels?

When I run straight author talks, I discuss how I come up with ideas and the writing process. It’s during these sessions that I focus on my novels.

For the workshops, I use my experiences to illustrate what I am teaching. For example, when showing students a way to capture ideas, I’ll show them my planning book with the original mind map that kicked off the story, or if we’re doing dialogue, I might show a piece of editing where I have changed a slab of text to dialogue and explain why.  I think kids become very sick of ‘in my book.’ ‘When I was writing…’

Instead I focus on books I’ve read and loved like David Metzenthen’s Black Water, Karen Tayleur’s Six or Julia Lawrinson’s Bye Beautiful for older readers and Michael Gerard Bauer’s Just A Dog or Glenda Millard’s Kingdom of Silk series for younger readers. Doing this also helps to encourage kids to read.

2. Do teachers tell you what they want you to impart?

Generally teachers will tell me what they want me to focus on before I arrive. I would much rather work on what the school sees the students as needing, rather than me come in and focus say on characters when the kids really need help with dialogue. The teachers give me the topic and I design activities around this. It’s best to stick to one area, as an hour goes very quickly, particularly when you have the kids writing and sharing their work.

3.  What type of activities do you find most useful?

That’s a tough one – the success of the activity depends on the group. I love working on character and dialogue and use pictures I’ve collected to help inspire the students. Asking the kids to share is a powerful way to teach – once the kids know you are going to be positive they fall over themselves to read, which gives you an opportunity to impart all kinds of incidental information. ‘I love how you named that character straight way.’ ‘Fantastic start – you’re straight into the problem.’ Etc.

 The best tip I can give is to ask the teacher about the students’ needs and listen to what they say. You’ll pick up all kinds of hints. While you are setting up the visit, bounce around ideas and listen to the reaction from the organiser – you’ll know straight away if your idea is a winner.

Many thanks, Sue. I’m sure these insights will be helpful to lots of us JK Rowling-cat-feed-earning authors (and illustrators)