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  • Book Review: On a Bright Hillside in Paradise

    On a Bright Hillside in Paradise by Annette Higgs (Reviewed by Katie Lewis). On a Bright Hillside in Paradise by Annette Higgs (Penguin, 2023) follows the Hatton family, convict descendants living in the Tasmanian bush on a farm called Paradise in the 1870s. The story centres around the arrival of two strangers into their midst, both evangelical preachers from outside Tasmania. The strangers’ arrival causes quite the stir within the tight-knit community as they go from house to house conducting revivals and converting the locals, and the Hatton family start to question long held beliefs about their past and their future. I was completely drawn in by this book. Tasmania in the late 1800s is not a setting I’ve read much about, and I really loved being transported to the rough but beautiful farm of Paradise. The story is told through the perspectives of five different members of the Hatton family, following each character through roughly the same time period. As we move from one character’s perspective to the next, we learn more and more about their lives and their reactions to the arrival of the evangelists. We see the same events through five very different perspectives and, rather than being repetitive, it was nuanced and so unique. I loved how each new perspective added more and more to the story, carefully and delicately layering details on top of each other. It was cleverly done. I also love when the landscape becomes a character in a story and the author does it so well in this book. You can feel the connection she has to this place and its history, and I loved being able to feel that through this story. It was also impeccably researched. This is a quiet but tender book. It was a little melancholy but also eerily beautiful, and I loved how the author highlighted the beauty in the ordinary lives of the Hatton family. The more I learned about this family, the more I found myself sinking into their world. I could smell the gum trees, I could hear the water of the Dasher, and I could feel the cold wind blowing in from the mountain. The writing was evocative and immersive, without being overly flowery, and dialogue felt natural and genuine. I loved the way the author carefully crafted the characters and slowly brought them to life. They felt so real. I’ll be thinking about this family for a long time to come. On a Bright Hillside in Paradise was an extremely enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend, especially to readers who enjoy character-driven historical fiction. Katie Lewis as a prolific bookstagrammer and you can find more of her reviews on Instagram @katie.reads.things More Reviews The Secrets of the Huon Wren, by Claire van Ryn. Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here, by Heather Rose.

  • Book Review: Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here

    Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here: A Memoir of Loss and Discovery, by Heather Rose (Reviewed by Johanna Baker-Dowdell) It seems fitting that the first review I write for the Tamar Valley Writers Festival is for Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here: A Memoir of Loss and Discovery (Allen & Unwin, 2022) by Heather Rose because my introduction to Rose was at the event’s first iteration: The Festival of Golden Words. As an eager festival attendee and aspiring author, I was lapping up every session I could, but the one I remember most clearly was the panel featuring Heather Rose, speaking about The River Wife. As Rose described the Tasmanian setting for The River Wife it occurred to me that a place can be a character as much as a person. I was captivated by Rose’s powerful words then, and continue to be now, with Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here. Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here is a collection of personal essays, thoughts and insights spanning Rose’s life from childhood to the present day. Rose contemplates some of the bigger questions we all wrestle with: what do I believe, what does love look like, how do you parent, what does grief look like and how do you carry on when everything feels like it is imploding? I was fascinated to read Rose’s take on these – and many other – questions and her deeply honest response to everything life has thrown her. However, I was equally fascinated to read about her extraordinary life, from early memories of herself asking the big questions, to the horrific tragedy that clearly reshaped Rose’s entire family, through her courageous globetrotting, her relationships and, finally, how she deals with chronic pain. There were many times I found myself nodding along with Rose’s insights about herself and relating them back to myself as a fellow parent, a writer, a woman and somebody who also has learned to live with chronic pain. I interviewed Rose when Bruny was released in 2019 and it was a conversation I have cherished ever since because it covered so much ground and left me inspired. I hung up the phone feeling like I’d had a nourishing chat with an old friend. Reading Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here left me with the same feeling afterwards ­­­– like we’d had another long conversation, but she had summoned up the courage to finally share a long-held secret. I felt an almost voyeuristic pull to keep diving into Rose’s words because this memoir contains such deep and compelling insights into her life, thoughts and beliefs. Something Rose and I discussed during that 2019 interview was my own writing. I still think about the ideas she had for my works then and have kept them filed away for a future novel. Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here inspires me to keep feeding my creativity and be a better writer but, more importantly, Rose’s struggle with illness and pain reminded me to be gentler on myself, and those around me. I appreciated the reminder. Johanna Baker-Dowdell is a communications specialist and author. She is also the Vice-President of the Tamar Valley Writers Festival committee.

  • Q&A with a Bookstagrammer

    Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a book reviewer on social media? We all know that the world of social media is where it's AT when it comes to marketing brands, fashion, technology, travel, ideas, food... and books! Yep, books. Increasingly, publishers are relying on 'bookstagrammers' to promote new release reads to their burgeoning audiences. (For those unfamiliar with the term, a bookstagrammer is someone whose Instagram account is focused solely on books and reading.) So, we've tracked down a Tasmanian-based bookstagrammer to find out just how it all works. Introducing Kate Jackson (@kate_thebooklover)... 1. Tell us about yourself. I’m a mum to a five-year-old daughter, and a wife. These two are my world. I am currently living a pretty stress free life after having had the opportunity to take time away from the busy 9-5 office job and instead I’m enjoying a sea/tree change for a couple of years on the rugged West Coast of Tasmania. I live opposite the beach and love to go out on the water paddle boarding. Over the last year I have spotted dolphins in the harbour and on Sunday morning back in January was even able to get up close to a pod as they cruised in the harbour. That was a pretty magical experience and one I shared with my daughter as she rode on the front of my paddle board. I am a drinker of tea, and thankfully my friends and family no longer look at me weirdly when they go to make me one and ask, 'How many sugars?' and I reply 'Four please!' Tassie has always been my home growing up on the North West Coast in the beautiful town of Penguin before heading south for Uni where I studied at the Art School in Hobart majoring in photography in the late '90s. 2. How did you start in the #bookstagrammer space? I’d never really been a reader at all, probably only reading one or two books a year. I preferred to watch reruns of A Country Practice and other '80s Australian TV shows as a way to unwind. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I started listening to audiobooks as I walked her in the pram, and then for my first Mother’s Day my husband bought me a couple of books and that got me started. I was then looking for a way to track my reading. I started just popping it on my Facebook under the locked settings. At the time I’d been listening to a lot of audiobooks and when I googled pictures of them I discovered people were doing the same sort of thing but on Instagram. So in November 2019 I began @kate_thebooklover Initially and still at times I feel like a fraud as I am not a writer and have no real desire to be one, so my Bookstagram account is purely from a reader's perspective and it was always designed as an account where I could share the books I really like. By the middle of 2020 Bookstagram was growing in popularity, mostly due to covid lockdowns. It was during this time that I was first contacted by a publicist about sending me a copy of a book which I had commented about on another bookstagrammer's account. Initially, I was a bit sceptical, but that began my journey reviewing new and upcoming releases. Since joining Bookstagram I have really enjoyed the connections I have with authors. I will often be having chats about day-to-day stuff with them and I am excited that one quirk I shared with an author once is even making its way into an upcoming novel! I've had an author arrive on my doorstep with a signed copy of his debut novel, and my husband has assisted an author with police procedural questions she had. Sadly for me, he has had his name in a book before I have! Haha! 3. How does it work? After that first contact I received through my IG account I was able to establish a connection with other publishers and get added to their blogger list. At that time, publishers were looking for established accounts having posted for at least six months and with at least 2000 followers. Now that I'm on the blogger list I receive emails about books coming out, giving me the option to request the ones I’d like to read and review. I also jump on the publishers' websites and look at the upcoming releases and if there is a book that has interested me, I will send an email to express an interest in the book months in advance. Advance Readers Copies (ARCs) can also be requested in digital form through Netgalley. Publishers will put upcoming releases on that site a month or two prior to release. There are also times when I receive a book in the mail unsolicited from a publisher, this is often referred to on Bookstagram as 'surprise book mail'. It is always exciting getting book mail of any kind. When I started receiving books it was such a buzz to get home from work and find packages on my doorstep. Even now, four years down the track, it still brings me the same joy. There have been happy dances and tears of pure joy when a book I have been anticipating has arrived in my post box. I will also buy new releases and books by self published authors. I have filled my house with books, more than what can fit on the bookshelves I have. I wouldn't call myself a hoarder but more a collector and I have a dream of converting the attic in our Hobart home into a cute and cosy little reading room. I’m not a writer and sometimes I do find it hard to express my thoughts, which can lead to procrastination when it comes to posting a review. It ebbs and flows. But as it's just a hobby, I don't put pressure on myself to have weekly posting targets. I can go through times when reviews flow easily and I smash out several in one go, and other times I just can't find the words. Generally I try to post a review within a month of reading the book, and once I post my review on my Bookstagram account I then add it to my Goodreads account. 4. What's your favourite genre? Before starting my Bookstagram account I didn’t really know what books were out there, so I just stuck to what I knew, that being the Jack Reacher Series (Lee Child) and celebrity memoirs/biographies. Bookstagram opened a whole new world for me, and I fell in love with many different genres. Now I really enjoy historical fiction, rural romance, romcoms and crime thrillers. The only genre I struggle with is fantasy. There are times when I will read books that aren’t usually what I would pick up. I will always give a book a go but if it isn’t for me I feel bad, especially as I know how much work goes into writing a book. 5. What if you don't like a book you've been asked to review? Early on I used to push through and finish a book, but now if I find I am not enjoying a book I will often put it down, start something else and then come back to it. If, on the second attempt, I am still not enjoying it I will DNF (did not finish). This is about the only time I will ever go looking at reviews on Goodreads and Bookstagram before I have finished a book, mainly to see if it is a common theme that others couldn't relate or if it is just a case of the book not being for me. I am less inclined to post a negative review on my account, opting to maybe feature the book in my grid as I still like to promote Australian authors where I can. I am a strong believer that not all books are for everyone so, just because I didn’t like it, doesn't mean someone else would. 6. What do you think makes a great read? A great connection with the main character/s and/or the location. When I look at the books on my favourites shelf I can straight away say, 'Oh I loved that one because it was set in Tasmania and the main character was…' or 'I really enjoyed this one as I learnt about a historical event and it was written in such an engaging way...' or 'Oh gosh I loved this one as the main character was such a hoot and I loved a particular part when they did...' I have read so many books in the last five years (around 500!) and not all of them are going to stick in my memory, but when they do, I know they were a winner. 7. Your fav read so far this year? The One and Only Dolly Jamieson (Penguin Random House) by Lisa Ireland closely followed by The Redgum River Retreat by Sandie Docker (Penguin Random House) and Duck à L’Orange for Breakfast (Pan Macmillan) by Karina May. Dolly Jamieson was such a beautiful character I couldn’t help but fall in love with her and the strong friendship she made. She was an older character and had plenty of stories to tell of the life she lived. I have always enjoyed Sandie Docker’s books. The first book of her's I read had me crying big fat ugly tears as I really connected with the character and the storyline… and her subsequent books have been absolute joys to read, thankfully without the tears. Duck a L’Orange was one of those books I just didn't want to end! I got anxious as I neared the end and would often read only a few pages before putting it down to draw it out. 8. Your fav Tasmanian author? I would probably have to say Meg Bignell and Minnie Darke, though there are plenty more out there and others I am yet to discover. Welcome to Nowhere River (Penguin Random House) by Meg Bignell was the first book I ever requested from a publisher and I was so excited when I received a finished copy a month prior to release. I also really enjoyed Jo Dixon’s debut novel The House of Now and Then (HarperCollins), and I am excited for her future novels. Have you bought your tickets to the Sydney Writers Festival Live & Local livestreaming event in Launceston on Saturday May 27? Book now to avoid disappointment! Sydney Writers Festival info and tickets

  • Sydney Writers Festival comes to Launceston

    The Tamar Valley Writers Festival invites you to a Live and Local streaming of the 2023 Sydney Writers Festival, here in Launceston on May 27. Please join us at the new UTAS Inveresk Library to participate in sessions with literary greats ranging from Maggie Beer to Pip Williams, on topics from crime to food to history to activism. We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity for Tasmanian readers, writers and thinkers. Single session and day passes are available. Sydney Writers Festival tickets THE PROGRAM Saturday May 27 10:00 - 11:00am - A LIFE IN FOOD: STEPHANIE ALEXANDER AND MAGGIE BEER Culinary icons Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer have inspired generations of home cooks and fundamentally transformed how we think about food. They reflect on their decades-long friendship, and their partnership in running a cooking school for Australians in a medieval villa in Italy. They also talk about their influential books on preparing, cooking and savouring delicious food, including their co-authored Tuscan Cookbook, which was recently optioned to be made into a feature film. They are joined on stage by cook, writer and presenter Adam Liaw. 12:00 - 1:00 - CRIME AND JUSTICE We are fascinated by stories of crime and how they unfold. There are no finer narrators of such stories than legendary author Helen Garner and The Teacher’s Pet podcaster Hedley Thomas, whose work explores the link between confronting terrible things that happen and the people who are involved. They sit down with Sarah Krasnostein to explore the compelling nature of crime and the pressing question of what happens when justice takes a lifetime – or if it never comes at all? Helen Garner appears thanks to the support of Kathy. 2:00pm – 3:00pm GREAT ADAPTATIONS Four favourite writers come together to give the lowdown on having their works adapted into TV shows and movies and adapting the work of others. Hear from Eleanor Catton, whose novels The Rehearsal and The Luminaries have made their way to the screen; Holly Ringland, whose bestseller The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is being turned into a series starring Sigourney Weaver; and Tom Rob Smith, whose novel Child 44 became a movie with Tom Hardy and whose adaptations for the screen The Assassination of Gianni Versace have won him an Emmy and a Golden Globe. They chat with Benjamin Law. 4:00pm – 5:00pm - PIP WILLIAMS: THE BOOKBINDER OF JERICHO Australian novelist Pip Williams drew wide acclaim for her bestselling debut, The Dictionary of Lost Words, “a marvellous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress” (Geraldine Brooks). Her new novel, The Bookbinder of Jericho, covers similar terrain, with the story of a young British woman working in a book bindery who gets a chance to pursue knowledge and love when World War I upends her life. Pip is in conversation with Cassie McCullagh. 6:00-7:00pm STATE OF THE ART How is fiction evolving with our times? Is the novel a vulnerable art or more vital than ever? Could AI one day pen a masterpiece or do our storytellers guard an inimitable craft? Join some of the leading names in literature today – Eleanor Catton, Richard Flanagan, Tracey Lien and Colson Whitehead – for a lively discussion about the state of the novel and the future of fiction. They are joined in conversation by ABC RN’s The Bookshelf’s Kate Evans. 7:30pm – 8:30pm REAL SELVES Women and girls have long been pressured to conform to written and unwritten rules about how to think, act, look and feel. But a new generation of writers and activists are breaking down barriers to allow women and girls to show their real selves. Hear from Heartbreak High actress, advocate and Different, Not Less author Chloé Hayden, Wadjanbarra Yidinji, Jirrbal and African-American filmmaker and Gigorou author Sasha Kutabah Sarago, and activist for sexual assault survivors and The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner author Grace Tame in conversation with disability and women’s rights advocate Hannah Diviney about their pathbreaking work.

  • Opportunities for Writers

    Hello writers! Whether established or emerging, young or old, published or yet-to-be-published, we want to encourage you in your writing forays. One of the best ways to forge a way forward with your writing craft is to get it out there in the world. Easier said than done? Well, here is something to motivate you: a list of all the upcoming writing competitions for Australians. We encourage you to choose one, and get writing! (Please note that the competitions are listed by due date.) March Mulga Bill Writing Award 2023 CLOSED Closing date: March 3, 2023 Goldfields Libraries and Eaglehawk Festivals Inc. are calling for entries from writers all over Australia for the annual Mulga Bill Writing Award. Writers are encouraged to take inspiration from the theme ‘gold’, and submit a poem (max. 25 lines) or short story (max. 2000 words). Short story: $500 first prize, $150 second prize, Poetry: $200 first prize, $50 second prize Entry fee is $5 More info The SCWC 2023 Poetry Award 2023 CLOSED Closing date: March 5, 2023 The Award is open to submissions of poems up to 50 lines responding to the theme “In Colour”, with four prizes to win totalling $1300. The Award will have guest judge Peter Ramm, published South Coast poet and winner of multiple awards including the SCWC 2021 Poetry Award. Submission fee per poem is $15/$10 for SCWC members. More info Little Black Dress Spooky Story Competition CLOSED Closing date: March 15, 2023 *NB: Tasmanian residents are only eligible to enter the Youth section The theme for 2022 is ‘After Midnight’. Adults: $10 per entry Youth: Free YOUTH: Max 500 words, one entry only (Australian residents) ADULT: Max 1,200, unlimited entries (WA residents only) More info Peter Carey Short Story Awards 2023 CLOSED Closing date: March 16, 2023 This award is for short stories between 2000 – 3000 words, and is open to all Australian residents. The winning entry receives $2000, while the runner-up wins $1000. First and second prized stories will also be published in the Spring 2023 issue of Meanjin. Entry fee is $15 per story More info Daisy Utemorrah Award CLOSED Closing date: March 30, 2023 For an unpublished manuscript of junior or YA fiction by a First Nations author. Open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people currently living in Australia. Open theme. Entry free. Winner receives $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books. More info Northern Beaches Writers’ Group Competition CLOSED Closing date: March 31, 2023 Stories up to 2,500 words that are inspired by the theme of ‘RAIN’, along with at least one copyright-free image that reflects and enhances that story. Stories can be non-fiction, fiction, or fiction inspired by true events. All genres and styles welcome. Entry fee: $15. Multiple entries welcome. Prizes: First place $250 + online publication. Second place $100 + online publication. More info FAW Tasmania 2023 Nairda Lyne Award CLOSED Closing date: March 31, 2023 For an original, unpublished short story suitable for children aged 8-12 years. First Prize $100 and winner’s name inscribed on a plaque in the State Library Launceston Branch. Hobart Bookshop voucher for the best Tasmanian entry. More info April CYA Competitions (U18, Aspiring & Published sections) CLOSED Closing date: April 11, 2023 Under 18s and Aspiring Writers sections are open themed and require first 5,000 words maximum, pitch and a single-spaced synopsis no longer than 600 words. Published Writers section is also open themed and requires first 12,500 words maximum, pitch and a single-spaced synopsis no longer than 600 words. Entry free for U18, $25 for Aspiring, $45 for Published. Prizes vary. More info Under the Silver Tree Short Story Competition CLOSED Closing date: April 12, 2023 This year's theme is UNDERGROUND, and entries may be up to 2000 words in length. First place wins $1000, and there are prizes for young people and local (Far West NSW) entries. Entry is $10. More info Peter Cowan Short Story Competition CLOSED Closing date: April 14, 2023 Entries may be up to 600 words in length. Open to all, as well as specific sections: Senior Writer Award, Novice Writer Award, Secondary Education Support Centre Student Award, Julian Cowan Youth Award. Prizes are $50-$200. Entry is $10 + Eventbrite fee, youth entries $5 + Eventbrite fee. More info Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction CLOSED Closing date: April 21, 2023 Open to all women and non-binary writers residing in Australia. Entries may be up to 2000 words in length, must be original, previously unpublished, and unperformed, and engage with the theme REVOLT. Prizes are $1000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place, all with a book pack and publication on the Lip Magazine website included. Entry is $10. More info ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize CLOSED Closing date: April 24, 2023 For an original work of short fiction with a length of 2,000-5,000 words. First prize $6,000, second prize $4,000, third prize $2,500. Entry is $30, or $20 for ABR subscribers. More info The Bronze Swagman Award CLOSED Closing date: April 30, 2023 All are welcome to enter works of bush poetry. First place wins $1100, runners-up $350, highly commended $100 and the Tim Borthwick Memorial Award $100. Entry is $25 per form (up to three poems) and includes a copy of the 2023 Bronze Swagman poetry book, posted on its publication. More info Furphy Literary Award CLOSED Closing date: April 30, 2023 Open to all Australians aged 18+ with the theme 'Australian Life in All Its Diversity.' The work must be fiction or narrative non-fiction and the length is no more than 5,000 words. First place wins $15,000, second place $3,000, third place $2,000. No entry fee is mentioned. More info Silver Tree Poetry Competition CLOSED Closing date: April 30, 2023 Open to all Australians of all ages, open theme, poetry only up to 50 lines length. First place wins $1,000, Junior entry $200, highly commended $100. Entry fee is $10. More info May The Writing Prize CLOSED Closing date: May 1, 2023 Open to all Australians of aged 40 years and under. For the best writing on the question, 'Why is ‘A Voice to Parliament’ important and how will it be of benefit to Australia?' Length 4,000-5,000 words. First place wins $10,000. No entry fee. More info Kyogle Writers Festival Poetry Competition CLOSED Closing date: May 1, 2023 Open to all Australians. For the best poem of any style on the theme 'beginning', with a maximum length of 35 lines. First place $250, second place $100, third place $50. Entry fee is $5. More info RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Prize CLOSED Closing date: May 31, 2023 Open to Australian citizens under different age categories (u19, 19-26 and over 60). For the best fictional prose on the theme, 'Your vision of the future.' Prizes in each category, up to $500. No entry fee. More info The Australian/Vogel’s Award for Young Writers CLOSED Closing date: May 31, 2023 Open to Australian citizens under aged under 35 years. For a 50,000-80,000 piece of fiction, Australian history or biography. Winner receives $20,000 and publication by Allen & Unwin with an advance against royalties. Entry is $25. More info June Ros Spencer Poetry Prize CLOSED Closing date: June 23, 2023 Open to all Australians. For original and unpublished poems of up to 60 lines, of any theme, for an opportunity to be published in the anthology Brushstrokes 2023. First place wins $1001, second place $299. Entry fee is $10. More info AAWP Writing Prizes CLOSED Closing date: June 28, 2023 The Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) publishes the literary journal Meniscus and the writing journal TEXT, and hosts a number of creative writing competitions. Open to all Australians of various ages and stages, according to each prize. AAWP / ASSF Short Story Prize AAWP / Westerly Magazine Life Writing Prize AAWP - UWRF Translators' Prize Sudden Writing Prize (U25 yrs) AAWP/UWRF Emerging Writers' Prize Click the link for information on each prize and the associated prize money/award. Entry fee is $20. More info Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards CLOSED Closing date: June 30, 2023 Poetry competition with various age sections, open to all students enrolled in Australian education facilities. Click the link for information on each prize and the associated prize money/award. Entry fee is $20 for up to 3 poems (where home-schooled or school is not taking part), and school entries are $30 for up to 30 entries, $60 for 30-100 entries and $80 for more than 100 entries. More info Henry Savery National Short Story Award CLOSED Closing date: June 30, 2023 Hosted by the Fellowship of Australian Writers Tasmania, this award is open to all Australian residents. Open themed short story of up to 2,500 words. First prize $400, second prize $100. Entry fee is $5. More info University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's International Poetry Prize CLOSED Closing date: June 30, 2023 Open to all writers aged 18+. Open themed poem of up to 60 lines. First prize $15,000, second prize $5,000, international winner $5,000. Entry fee is $25 ($15 concession). More info July SD Harvey Short Crime Story Award CLOSED Closing date: July 1, 2023 Hosted by the Kennedy Foundation and recognises excellence in this genre of writing, either fiction or non-fiction. It is open to all budding crime writers and journalists, and word limit is 2,000 – 5,000 words. First place wins $1,000. Entry fee: $60 More info The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers CLOSED Closing date: July 7, 2023 For works of adult fiction or adult narrative non-fiction. Entries must include the first three chapters, up to 20,000 words in length, a one-page synopsis, a chapter breakdown and a statement up to 750 words about how winning the prize will further your writing career. Prize: Winning Entry: $10,000 and a 12-month mentorship with Hachette Australia More info The LIMINAL & Pantera Press Nonfiction Prize CLOSED Closing date: July 15, 2023 (extended) Open to first nations writers and writers of colour, for a work not exceeding 4,000 words. Theme: ARCHIVE. Archives are not merely sites where knowledge is retrieved, but sites where knowledge is produced. What is placed in an archive is often a monument to political authority—and the narrative that authority wishes to tell. Prizes: Winner $10,00 Second place $2,000 More info E.M. Fletcher Writing Competition CLOSED Closing date: July 15, 2023 Open to all Australians aged 18+ and hosted by Family History ACT and the University of Tasmania. For a short story on the theme of family history/genealogy, of length 1500-2000 words. First place wins $1000, second place $500. Entry fee is $30 ($20 for FHACT members). More info Not Quite Write – Flash Fiction Competition CLOSED Closing date: July 16, 2023 A flash fiction competition with a twist! The competition commences on 14 July 2023, and at this time, NQW will announce the competition criteria by email to those who have registered for email updates. Writers will then have 60 hours to submit a 600-word piece of original fiction in response to the given criteria. Entry is free Prizes: Winner $300 More info Albury City Short Story Award CLOSED Closing date: July 25, 2023 Open to any theme, with a word limit of 3,000 words Entry fee: $10 Prizes: Winner $1,000, Second place $200 book voucher, Third place $100 book voucher More info Short Stories Unlimited Competitions CLOSED Closing date: July 31, 2023 Open to all, with sections for poetry or short story on the theme 'urban'. Absolute upper word limit of short story section is 5,000 words. Poetry: first place $50 and copy of anthology, highly commended (x2) $25 and copy of anthology. Short story: first place $200 and copy of anthology, second place $100 and copy of anthology, third place $50 and copy of anthology, highly commended (x2) $20 and copy of anthology. Entry fee is $5 poetry, $10 short story. More info Port Writers Open Writing Competition CLOSED Closing date: July 31, 2023 For short fiction (up to 2500 words) and poetry (up to 32 lines). Entry fee: $10 per entry (maximum of 3 entries per category) Prizes: Winner $200, Second place $50, Hastings Prize for local author $50 (for local writers in the Port Macquarie-Hastings geographic area) More info August Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition CLOSED Closing date: August 1, 2023 Open to all Australians. For a short story on the theme of detour/s, of length 1000 words. First prize wins a $250 Hawkeye Publishing Gift Voucher and anthology cover art based on story, top 40 entries will be published. Entry fee is $15. More info The Best Australian Yarn Short Story Competition CLOSED Closing date: August 1, 2023 Everyone has a story to tell. Share yours in the world’s richest short story competition for published and unpublished writers. Word limit: 1000 – 25o0 words Prizes: Overall Winer $50,000 Runner up $3,000 The Navitas ESL Prize $3,000 The First Nations Storytelling Prize $3,000 Regional Australia Winner $3,000 Readers Choice $2,000 Eight Shortlisted Finalists $1,000 each More info FAW Tasmania Poetry Prize CLOSED Closing date: August 31, 2023 Open to all Australians. For a poem on any theme, of no more than 60 lines in length. First prize wins $150, second prize $50. Entry fee is $5. More info September New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Non-fiction CLOSED Closing date: 28 September, 2023. Word limit: up to 2,500 words Entry fee: $10 Prizes: Winner $500 More info KSP Poetry Competition CLOSED Closing date: 27 September, 2023 Entries must be original and unpublished. All poetry styles and themes are acceptable. Entry fee: $10 per poem, no limit on entries Prizes: Winner $300, plus a weekend residency at the KSP Writers’ Centre, Second place $150 More info Woorilla Poetry Prize 2023 CLOSED Closing date: 30 September, 2023 Judith Rodriguez Open Section Word limit: up to 50 lines per poem Entry fee: $20 per poem Prizes: Winner $3,000, Second place $500 More info Scribes Writer Short Story Competition – 2023 CLOSED Closing date: 30 September, 2023 Genre: Short Story Theme: Open Work limit: 1,000 words Entry fee: $10 per entry Prizes: Winner $200, Second place $100 More info October Stella Prize CLOSED Closing date: 12 October, 2023 A major literary award that celebrates and promotes the work of Australian women and non-binary authors. For novels of all genres; memoir; biography; history; short story collections; poetry collections; verse novels; novellas. Entry fee: Earlybird $66, general $88 Prizes: Winner $60,000. Shortlisted $4,000. Longlisted $1,000. More info 2023 Ernestine Hill Memorial Award CLOSED Closing date: 21 October, 2023 Type: Short Story, in a rural setting Word limit: 4,000 words Entry fee: $20 per entry Prizes: Winner $1000 More info November The Readings New Australian Fiction Prize Closing date: 30 November, 2023 Open to Australian authors, for their first or second work, published by a recognised Australian publisher between June 2023 and May 2024. More info The Marj Wilke Short Story Award Closing date: 17 November, 2023, 5pm. Open to Australian women writers over the age of 18 years, for a short story up to 1,500 words length, open theme. Entry Fee: $15 or $40 for maximum of three (financial members of the Society of Women Writers Queensland Inc may submit one entry free). Prizes: First $350, second $150, and The Lauren Elise Daniels Encouragement Award $50. More info December 2024 Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award Closing date: 15 December, 2023 The Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award recognises the best original book, in the judges' opinion, that is published in Australia in the previous calendar year. Submissions must deal with any aspect of Australian life and can be in any field or genre of writing, verse or prose. Entry fee: $50 Prizes: Winner $50,000. More info

  • Q&A with festival president Lyndon Riggall

    You may have heard by now that the Tamar Valley Writers Festival has two new faces in the roles of co-presidents to carry the vibrant organisation into the future. Georgie Todman and Lyndon Riggall are full of energy and passion for words: written, spoken, performed or any other way that sees people interacting with and enjoying this medium that ultimately promotes expression and empathy. We thought you might like to get to know them a little better. Last week, Georgie gave us some insight into her world and workings. Today, we bring you Lyndon Riggall. Enjoy. What's your day job? Like Georgie, I am an English teacher at Launceston College, but I am lucky enough to also have a role promoting books at our school library this year. I can’t imagine what a younger version of me would think about where I have found myself. I wish I could just grab myself at thirteen and say, “It’s okay. You’re going to get to live in the world of books all day, every day.” Your earliest memory? Being a kindergarten student, delighting in those half-days of chaos at primary school. I was absolutely obsessed with two-minute noodles, and while the microwave was running for its allotted time I would charge around the house in enormous excited loops, knowing that I could do about four laps before the timer ticked down. If I was a dog you’d call it the zoomies. How do you unwind? I’m trying really hard at the moment not to use my phone as a soothing device at night. It’s so powerful, and always so available, so it can be challenging not to reach for it as my first option, but I find it’s better if I don’t. Settling down at night, I’ll get the best night’s sleep after a nice cup of tea and an hour reading before I drift away. After a long work day, I’m also rapidly discovering that a good run is like a whole-body reset. If I can just con myself into getting through the first five minutes, I know I’ll feel better for it. What's something quirky about you? I drive an electric car! Last year I bought myself a Nissan Leaf and I absolutely love it. It is such an unusual thing to come home and “plug in” my car to charge (yes, in a regular power-point!), but I’m certainly enjoying not having to go to the petrol station on the way home. It barely whispers on the road and it feels like the future. I’ve always loved driving, but this is definitely the kind of driving for me! What are you reading right now? I am reading Jennifer Down’s Bodies of Light (Text, 2021), the winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin Award. So far it’s an extremely powerful exploration of the foster care system and one woman’s life and experiences growing up. The further I get into it the more nervous I am about where it might be going, but it is without a doubt an exceptional novel and I am just soaking it up. Finish this sentence, "If I could meet one person I would choose..." Terry Pratchett. I recently finished his official biography A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins (Doubleday, 2022), and it will always be one of my biggest regrets that I never had the chance to meet him and experience his wit and wisdom first-hand. One of my prize possessions is an illustration of the Discworld’s orangutan librarian that he has signed. Sadly, that will have to do. Finish this sentence too, "My vision for the future of the TVWF includes..." An expansion of the reading community. We have an amazing army of stalwart festival-goers who are smart, generous and passionate about the written word, but I can’t help but feel that our mission now is to try and grow this group even more. Those of us who are readers know what everyone else is missing out on. I would love to see our literary community continue to grow with new eyes and fresh voices.

  • Q&A with festival president Georgie Todman

    You may have heard by now that the Tamar Valley Writers Festival has two new faces in the roles of co-presidents to carry the vibrant organisation into the future. Georgie Todman and Lyndon Riggall are full of energy and passion for words: written, spoken, performed or any other way that sees people interacting with and enjoying this medium that ultimately promotes expression and empathy. We thought you might like to get to know them a little better. Here, Georgie gives us some insight into her world and workings. Next time, we'll bring you Lyndon. Enjoy. What's your day job? I am an English teacher at Launceston College, having recently transferred in from Brooks High School. I am also a foster carer with Life Without Barriers and the president of Three River Theatre Company. Your earliest memory? Gathering plums with my siblings in Beaconsfield. They had rigged up a guttering system to send them down the tree to the wheelbarrow. I thought it was magic! How do you unwind? I love to settle in with a good book or perhaps play a competitive/cooperative board game with friends or watch a good episode on the couch. What's something quirky about you? I'm a vego, I can't feel one of my legs, I complete running events for fun and am about to do my second 25km 'Gone Nuts', I played the violin, I have my certificate one in Auslan and I can't eat onion. What are you reading right now? I just finished Heather Rose's memoir Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here (Allen & Unwin, 2022). We recently attended an in-conversation with Heather and she was so genuine and impressive. I have also enjoyed two very cosy fantasy/sci fi stories in A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Becky Chambers, 2021) and Legends and Lattes (Travis Baldree, 2022) and I'm listening to Brene Brown's Atlas of the Heart (Vermilion, 2022) at the gym. Finish this sentence, "If I could meet one person I would choose..." go back in time and mess around with the grandfather paradox, shake things up a bit. Finish this sentence too, "My vision for the future of the TVWF includes..." ...engaging with the wider Tasmanian community, including young people, and fostering a love of language, literacy and community. I would love to see more people coming together to practise their writing craft and getting excited about reading and stories!

  • Short Story Competition Winners

    We're delighted to share this collection of short stories. It is comprised of the winners of our recent short story competition where the theme was 'The Good Life'. We had some truly incredible entries and our judges had their work cut out for them. The winners are as follows: Grades 5-6: "Pippy: A True Story" by Jade Dickinson from Kingston Primary School Grades 7-9: "The Sleeping Forest" by Erin Grubert from Scotch Oakburn College Grades 10 - 12: "The Midden" by Ena Nichols from Don College Open Section: "Mother" by RT Wenzel The Adam Thompson 'New Voice' Award: "Welcome to the Afterlife" by Mieke Burch from Launceston College The Adam Thompson 'New Voice' Award Highly Commended: "An Affair with the Dark" by Monique Schnitzer from Clarence High School We hope you enjoy them! Tamar-Valley-Writers-Festival-Short-Story-Competition-Winners-2022Download Mieke Burch and Adam Thompson at 'The Power of the Short Story' panel and prize announcement. Hotel Grand Chancellor Saturday Oct 15.

  • What Makes a Festival?

    Mary Machen, our 2022 Festival Director and recently retired Committee President, has worked tirelessly to make Tamar Valley Writers Festival a success, including seeing us through COVID-19 interruptions, keeping community engagements, and staying on past her retirement. Her contribution was noted as significant, not just by the Tamar Valley Writers Festival committee, but by a recent article in the Tasmanian Times celebrating 'Literary Launceston' by Anne Layton-Bennett. Mary is quoted as saying: “I feel proud of how my committee members and supporters have got to this stage, and I’m confident in handing over the baton. I’ve given it my all but it’s time for someone with new ideas and energy to take over an event that I believe is special for northern Tasmania, and that’s offered the cultural scene something exciting which is now recognised across Australia. We wouldn’t otherwise have these authors clamouring to come!” Mary Machen, Tamar Valley Writers Festival Director 2022 While we're sad to see Mary Machen and Marj Covill leave the committee after their vital and delightful contributions, we're thrilled to have a new committee established with new co-presidents Lyndon Riggall (author of Tamar the Thief) and Georgie Todman (local playwright) taking the lead.

  • Young Writers Program Approaches!

    The school holidays are approaching and the Tamar Valley Writers Festival is here to support and engage young writers throughout Launceston and the Tamar Valley.  Our program has been designed for 12 - 18 year olds to work on world building, spoken word poetry, visual language, and more. The workshops are all one hour long and feature Tasmanian talents. Sara Ferrington is the founder and atelierista of Rascal Robot Art Space - an art space to celebrate and nurture young visual creatives based in the West Tamar Valley. Sara will talk about creating visual language and storytelling that doesn't rely on traditional language to communicate meaning and ideas. Jazz Frost, a spoken word poet, recently published her anthology 'Ambiguity', documenting their journey through accepting her queerness, vulnerability, and mental health. They are excited to pass on the freedom of expressing oneself through words and the joy of performing. Jazz has youth mental health first aid qualifications and works with young people from trauma backgrounds, as well as being one of the driving forces behind Launceston's Queer Pride Ball, earning them a special commendation at the Young Tasmanian of the Year Award 2022. Avery McDougall published her debut YA novel in April 2022 with Forty South Publishing. Invisibly Grace has been described as moving, genuinely funny, and honest as it deals with being a teenager, chronic illness, and being the 'new kid'. She is a teacher librarian by degree and a youth worker in practice, specialising in working with those, like her, who collect 'A-Words' (autistic, autoimmune, author, awesome.... the list goes on!). Avery looks forward to helping young people with their world building and dialogue, making characters and settings feel authentic and alive. Mallika Naguran isn't just an author, she's also a very experienced communicator and environmental professional. She has published two books for young people that focus on retelling classic tales for younger readers (Peter Pan and Ramayana: the quest to rescue Sita by Pop!Lit for Kids). She's thrilled to be part of the young writers program and looks forward to helping young people develop compelling voices for animal characters.  For more information on workshops, dates, and times, check out Eventbrite!

  • A Moving Conversation Between Indira Naidoo and Stephen Brown

    On Tuesday September 6, the Tamar Valley Writer's Festival had the pleasure of presenting admired and acclaimed journalist Indira Naidoo to talk about her latest book The Space Between the Stars with Stephen Brown, CEO of Launceston City Mission. It was an intimate affair that touched not just on the loss of Indira's sister, Stargirl, but on the joy and nostalgia of childhood, of running wild, puddle jumping, and kite flying. It was a testament to the healing power of nature and the hope we can find by choosing to truly live. Indira Naidoo quoted David Whyte during the session, 'life is a conversation between loss and celebration'. The conversation between these two caring and thoughtful individuals echoed that beautifully. One of the questions Stephen asked Indira was about how writing the book helped her process the grief of losing her youngest sister despite the isolation she found herself in during COVID-19 lockdowns. She spoke out against the taboo of grief and described the book was kind of an extended eulogy and allowed Indira to celebrate her sister in ways she might not have without it. She was surprised by the joys that she found it and how if you listen, the universe will always send you signs to let you know you're not alone. We're incredibly grateful for RANT Arts for the grant that allowed us to bring Indira to Tasmania for this special appearance. TVWF gratefully acknowledges a $10,000 Quick Response grant through RANT for making it possible to attract such a high-profile media personality to be a key guest speaker. This gala lunch will be marketed as a special precursor to TVWF 2022 in October.

  • The Space Between the Stars Event - September 6

    You’ve probably admired and respected Indira Naidoo as a news journalist and broadcaster, and more recently as a best-selling author. Now you can see and hear Indira at a gala lunch in Launceston, where she will give a key address about her latest book, The Space Between the Stars. In this book she writes about the tragic loss of her younger sister, the magical power of nature to heal, and shares her wonderful school-age memories growing up in Tasmania. Indira is a Launceston Church Grammar School alumni. Indira will be in conversation with Stephen Brown, CEO of Launceston City Mission for a decade and committed to community, healing, and creating safe spaces for the people of northern Tasmania. Indira’s books will be available for purchase and she will be available for book signings and conversation at the conclusion of the event. The ticket price includes complimentary sparkling wine on arrival and a two-course lunch as well as a $5 donation to Launceston City Mission. BOOK NOW! About Indira Naidoo: Food sustainability advocate, garden designer, author & speaker. During her 25-year journalistic career, Indira Naidoo became one of Australia’s most popular broadcasters, winning many awards. She hosted and reported for some of the country’s most distinguished news and current affair programs including ABC’s nightly Late Edition and SBS TV’s World News Tonight. Since leaving full-time news broadcasting in 2000, Indira’s journalistic interest has not only shifted to the role global environmental issues play in conflict, poverty and food security, but she has also developed a food-gardening obsession. This obsession has led to Indira winning more awards – as a food garden designer – as well as accolades as a best-selling author. It all began when Indira, a passionate foodie, decided to try growing her own food on the balcony of her 13th floor apartment in Potts Point, Sydney. This act transformed her balcony into an abundant kitchen garden and sparked her quest for self-sufficiency, a deeper awareness of the issues of climate change and a desire to reduce her carbon footprint – as well as providing her with great pleasure and enjoyment. Her first book, the best-selling The Edible Balcony, is about growing food in small spaces, and her follow-up second book The Edible City is about community gardening. She designed two award-winning food gardens for the Australian Garden Show Sydney, in Centennial Park, and through her garden company helps community group build their own food gardens. Indira is an ambassador for Sydney’s homeless crisis centre, the Wayside Chapel, and conducts weekly gardening classes on its rooftop vegetable garden for its homeless visitors. The Tamar Valley Writers Festival is proud to present this event in recognition of Launceston having been designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy; in support of 24 Carrot Gardens; and celebration of sustainable permaculture advocate Hannah Moloney coming aboard TVWF as our inaugural ambassador and writer-in -residence for 2022. It is anticipated Hannah will attend this event.

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