SCBWI Maldon Creative Escape Weekend
Last weekend our first SCBWI Victoria/Tas/SA Creative Escape Weekend was held in Maldon at ‘Girrahween’ the stunning and special home of fellow author and friend, Glenda Millard. Catering was provided by the wonderful crew at the Kangaroo Hotel so if you are ever up that way and are looking for a good meal at a great venue, The Kangaroo Hotel is the place to be.
I’ve added a few snippets of the positive feedback and comments I’ve received so far and below that is a taste of what the weekend was like, written by SCBWI member and author, Diana Lawrenson.
‘I thought that the Maldon weekend was an absolute triumph.’
‘Just writing to congratulate you on a wonderful weekend, and say how much I enjoyed it.’
‘You gave every one of us on the retreat an amazing, inspirational and memorable weekend. All that you and your team did combined to create a wonderful communion of writing peers, friends and opportunities. The venue was simply gorgeous and perfect, the catering fabulous (though I fear I’ve added a couple of kilos) and the sessions were both inspiring and informative. The smaller group gave us a remarkable chance to meet and talk with almost everyone at some stage, including the publishers.’
SCBWI Maldon Creative Weekend Escape
An informal Friday evening gathering at the historic Kangaroo Hotel in Maldon, central Victoria together with a blazing birthday cake (from Sue Lawson, author and cook) and a double rendition of Happy Birthday to Bernadette Kelly, was a warm start to SCBWI’s Maldon Creative Weekend Escape tirelessly organised by Corinne King (assistant regional adviser Vic/SA/Tas) and wonderful authorGlenda Millard. A team of helpers including Claire Saxby (assistant regional support Vic/SA/Tas), Marjory Gardner, Bernadette Kelly, Sue Lawson and Diana Lawrenson were there for support.
Saturday saw over 30 people from metropolitan Melbourne, rural Victoria, and Tasmania gather in an inviting room of books and illustrations at Glenda Millard’s home, the beautiful Girrahween. After a welcome from Corinne and Glenda we settled into a serious poetry session presented by Lorraine Marwood, poet and winner of the 2010 Prime Minister’s prize for children’s fiction. She workshopped us through three techniques of writing poetry, stretching our minds and giving us a selection of methods to approach this genre.
Sherryl Clark, award winning author of children’s and YA novels, gave a presentation on verse novels – she has written four. She provided clear and valuable insights into the specific components that make a good verse novel, describing the differences between verse novels and prose. As a poet she laments the lack of poetry being published in Australia, drawing a comparison with the USA where April is designated as Children’s Poetry Month and schools respond accordingly.
Our host and another award winning author, Glenda Millard, spoke with gentle warmth on how to use emotion in writing. She suggested several ways authors can imbue their work with it, and hearing her read passages from her own books brought crystal clarity to her topic.
Anne Haddon and Ann James of Books Illustrated brought an array of books and artwork from exhibitions they have mounted in Bologna, China and Korea. Besides Australian works, they also brought international publications which were of particular interest to attending illustrators. Ann James spoke of maintaining character within the character when illustrating, and had us all drawing with magic pencils and out on the veranda painting pictures with mud – fun all round even if a challenge to the inartistic.
The veranda was then the venue for the launch of award-winning author, Sue Lawson’s You Don’t Even Know, Black Dog Books/Walker Books, launched by Glenda Millard which promises to be a deeply moving read.
‘What are you looking for?’ was the brief to Lisa Berryman of HarperCollins, Maryann Ballantyne of Black Dog Books, Karri Hedge of Hardie Grant Egmont, Gemma Dean-Furlong of Ford Street Publishing and freelance editor Alison Arnold. They all spoke generously to the topic, telling us about their current lists, a new genre, series, trends, what’s going/what’s coming, e-books and other technology, and reader awareness. From their presentations attendees could see which house their writing or illustrations would suit.
Individual assessments of manuscripts and portfolios followed, with some participants being asked to submit more of their work for further consideration.
Corinne closed the two day escape with a thank you and reflection on some warm and positive feedback received and enthusiasm for the workshops, presentations and networking
but she felt the most important thing was the feeling of camaraderie and friendship that resulted from the weekend.
Heartfelt thanks go to Corinne King for her effort in preparing and organising this valuable weekend for (mostly) published authors and illustrators, to Claire Saxby for her indispensible assistance, and to Glenda Millard for opening her home for the event that was not only greatly enjoyed but also of real benefit to those who attended.
Glenda Millard’s home, Girrahween, is available for literary events such as small conferences, meetings, and writing/illustrating workshops. Please contact Glenda through her website: www.glendamillard.com