Page 1


WRITER? a guide to getting your career started in Western Sydney and beyond

written and compiled by Felicity Castagna 1

ISBN: 978-0-9875463-0-2 Copyright Š 2013 Published by Felicity Castagna. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of Felicity Castagna. Views expressed are not necessarily the views of the funding bodies or partners of this publication.

acknowledgements 3

This book was made possible by the support of many generous people in Western Sydney and beyond. I would like to thank, firstly, Michael Mohammed Ahmad for the great advice he has given me as the editorial consultant. Shiela Pham has also made a wonderful contribution by bringing her extensive knowledge of blogging and social networking to the writing of the online section. Sue Crawford compiled and checked the details of all the writing groups in Western Sydney. I am also very thankful to the editors who allowed me to interview them for this book and who provided such thoughtful and informative responses: Domenique Wilson, Sam Cooney, Kat Muscat, Erin Stewart and again Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Sue Crawford. George Toseski and Tamar Chnorhokian gave me very valuable feedback on initial drafts of the book. Many thanks also go to Parramatta Council and the Writing & Society Research Centre, at the University of Western Sydney for providing the funding to get this book designed and edited. Thank you also to ICE (Information and Cultural Exchange) for helping to promote and launch this book.


Written and compiled

Felicity Castagna

Editorial consultant

Michael Mohammed Ahmad Guest writer, blogging

Shiela Pham

Local writers’ group information

Sue Crawford

Design and layout

Nadine Beyrouti Copy editing

John Revington


table of contents 5

So what’s this book for? ..................................................................... 6 So you want to get published? ......................................................... 7 Publishing tips ................................................................................... 8 Writing a cover letter ......................................................................... 9 What do magazine editors want? .................................................... 10 Literary journals in print .................................................................... 21 Journals online only .......................................................................... 27 So you want to win a writing competition? ...................................... 29 Calendar of writing competitions ...................................................... 30 So you want to write online? A quick guide to the blog by Shiela Pham ........................................ 42 Great examples of blogs by western Sydney writers ........................ 45 So you want to apply for a fellowship/mentoring/writing residency? Tips for writing applications .............................................................. Fellowships, mentorships and residencies ....................................... Sample of a fellowship application ...................................................

46 47 49 55

So you want to find a writing community? ....................................... 56 List of writers groups in western Sydney .......................................... 58

so what’s this book for?

This book is for Western Sydney writers who are just getting started or who may have already begun. It’s for: writers who want to know how to submit to a magazine or literary journal and how to find the right one for their work; writers who need strategies for submitting to writing competitions and a list of ones to choose from; writers interested in blogging and online promotional spaces; writers who need advice on applying for fellowships, mentorships and residencies; and writers wanting to find writing communities. A lot of great work has been done to bring Sydney’s western suburbs to the attention of the wider world. This book is about bringing the world to the western suburbs. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that many people in the west just aren’t ‘in the loop’ like inner-city artists. One of the reasons why writers in the west miss out on opportunities is because they just don’t know where to go looking for them. This is a book that hopes to even out the playing field by bringing that information straight to the west in an accessible and comprehensible format. This book is an opportunity in itself. A lot of thought has gone into deciding what should and shouldn’t go into this book. This book focuses primarily on opportunities for writers of fiction, prose, poetry and blogs. Much of the information will, of course, be relevant to writers in other genres such as non-fiction or journalism but it focuses more on creative forms. I also purposely left out information on submitting whole books to publishers—that is the next step; this book is the first step. In order to submit a book to a publisher, writers first need to build up a resume and a reputation. Use this book to build yours. Send your work out, have your voice heard, and meet others in your writing community. Inevitably, you will sometimes be met with rejection, silence and the fear of failure. This is a normal part of the writing life that every writer must go through from the beginning of their writing career until the end. Be strong. You will have your successes too. Sometimes they take a little longer to come and sometimes they come in forms you don’t expect.

Felicity Castagna


so you want to get published

in a magazine/journal/anthology?


Step 1

Read through the list of print and online publications in this book. Decide which publications may be right for your work and then do some research. What kind of research? Look at the publication’s website and read through their submission guidelines and any samples of material or tips for contributors they may have. Go to your local library, bookstore or the NSW Writers’ Centre, read the publications they have on offer, and decide which ones have material that is most like the things you write.

Step 2

Write pieces that are appropriate for the publications you have chosen, or select suitable pieces from among works you have already written. Edit, edit, edit. Read the tips from writers and editors in this book for ways to make your work stand out.

Step 3

Read the submission guidelines (these are usually on the publication’s website). Make sure that you follow the guidelines exactly. These guidelines will tell you things you need to know like what font to use, how long your piece should be, whether you need to write to a theme and whether you submit by post or email.

Step 4

Send your submissions off. Wait. Be patient—the average publication will take around three months to get back to you.

publishing tips



Write a cover letter (there is a

Don’t send in more than two or

sample letter on the next page).

three poems or one short story or article to a single publisher.

Look up the name of the editor

Don’t contact the editor to bug

and use it in your cover letter.

them about your submission.

This shows the editor that you

If you haven’t heard back in

have gone to enough trouble to

three months you can send it

look at their publication.

somewhere else.

Keep a record of what pieces

Don’t send the same submission

you are sending to what

to multiple magazines at the

magazines and which ones have

same time. Editors generally

been rejected or accepted.

want first publication rights and if your piece ends up in multiple publications at the same time you could be in a lot of trouble.


writing a cover letter

to go with your submission

A cover letter is a letter that accompanies a submission you might make to a journal or publisher. Including a cover letter makes you look like a much more professional writer. A cover letter should be short and simple. Magazine editors get hundreds of submissions. They don’t have time to read your resume. Only include information that is relevant to the submission you are sending. For example, if you have written a short story about a Lebanese community in Bankstown, it would be relevant to say that you are from this community.

Cover Letter Example Story Magazine 38 Leaf Street Greenpark, NSW, 2043 Sue Karam 32 Olympic Street Bankstown, NSW, 2200 5-8-12 Dear Julianne Smith, Enclosed is my short story ‘Two Steps Forward’, which I would like to submit to Story Magazine. I have included a short biography of myself below. Best Regards, Sue Karam

Short Bio: Sue Karam is a community worker in south-west Sydney. Her stories have been published online and in local newspapers. Last year she was shortlisted for the Bankstown Council short story competition.


so what do editors want?

To find out what editors want from writers, read the following six interviews with the editors of some of Australia’s best online and print magazines.

Sam Cooney, Editor of The Lifted Brow

How can writers make their work stand out when submitting to your publication? The best pieces don’t stand out at first, at least not visually. The opposite is true, in fact. The best pieces are generally by switchedon people, and switched-on people follow any submission guidelines that have been provided. Their pieces are clean, well-spaced. Their documents do not have viruses. Never use Courier because you’re not living in the 1940s. Always use a seriffed font (Garamond is probably the sexiest.) Never paste your piece in the body of the email. Always proofread. Never use ‘Dear Sir/Ma’am’. Always try to address by name the editor who will read your piece. Never submit a piece if you think it needs more work. Always provide a short bio, because a story doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

What are the stories about that you tend to publish? Anything and everything. There is no subject matter that is wrong. The Lifted Brow does love stories that don’t pull any punches. Swearing, anxiety, violence, faux pas, sex, boredom, arrogance, going to the toilet: Often, the killers are the ones that feel true.

What are some key mistakes people who submit to your publication tend to make? Worst mistake ever: not knowing the publication you are submitting to. If you haven’t read at least one whole issue of a publication, then you are banned from submitting. This is a rule that I will enforce with water bombs that aren’t filled with water. You’re 5392578925569804 times better off submitting to one or two publications that you have read and therefore know have a tendency to publish the type of piece you are submitting, than you are shotgun-submitting to every publication within email/Australia Post reach.


so what do editors want? 11

How important do you think submitting to magazines and competitions is to emerging writers? Submitting is important, but it should only happen once you truly believe your work is good enough. There’s a shitload of writing out there being published—why should another person be welcomed onto the teeming, groaning pile? Are you bringing anything new, or just looking to take something away? If you’re not quite at this stage, then instead of sending work to strange publications run by strangers, send your work to writer friends, or teachers, or mentors, or anybody writerly/literary-minded who has the time to provide feedback.

What do you think are the best outlets for emerging writers? Emerging writers should be in contact with (and members of) their state writers’ centre. The people who work at these writers’ centres are paid to help you. Make them work for their money! Send them emails! Call them! (NSW Writers’ Centre: The Emerging Writers’ Festival and the National Young Writers’ Festival should be on every up-and-coming writer’s calendar. If you don’t attend these every year you better have a very good excuse. Again, reach out to these people! Call, email, Facebook, Twitter. They want to hear from you. ( and Express Media, and its flagship publication Voiceworks is a whole organisation whose sole purpose is to support and promote writers under 25. Subscribe to the magazine. Go to their events. Et cetera! ( Also, every writer should be on Twitter. You’ll hate yourself for being on there all the time, but some of the best creative writing I’ve seen this year is occurring right there, in bursts of 140 characters or less. Also, every single writer, as well as every single author, publisher, editor and anyone involved in the writing/publishing industry is there. Hanging out!

so what do editors want?

Kat Muscat, Editor of Voiceworks

How can writers make their work stand out when submitting to your publication? When submitting, you really want the strength of your writing to speak for itself. This is a business that can’t boast any shortcuts, if this step isn’t already covered. Beyond that it becomes about learning how to work constructively with an editor, being reliable and resilient.

What are the stories about that you tend to publish? Apart from only publishing people under 25, Voiceworks is up for pretty much anything. We publish fiction, poetry, visual art and nonfiction (including creative nonfiction). Each issue has a theme which is always pretty abstract, but sticking to this is optional.

What are some key mistakes people who submit to your publication tend to make? Every editor will tell you this, but it bears repeating: always carefully read and follow the submission guidelines. Honest mistakes are no big deal, but you can tell when a writer hasn’t bothered to check out the house requirements before getting in touch. On a related note, be familiar with the publications you’re submitting to. Actually subscribe and read them. It’s immediately clear to me when a writer has written a piece for Voiceworks, which shows that they mean business and are already ready to meet the editor halfway.

How important do you think submitting to magazines and competitions are to emerging writers? It is very important to give yourself tangible goals as a writer. Competitions and submitting to a variety of publications are great ways to do this. But it feels a bit backwards to have publication as your personal marker of success. Especially as an emerging writer, the point needs to be writing in itself. Crafting work that you are proud of is much more rewarding than getting published in a journal you would never actually read.


so what do editors want? 13

What do you think are the best outlets for emerging writers? It’s vital to get involved with your local literary community. Go to readings and volunteer at festivals. Keep an ear to the ground for open proofreading sessions (not all publications do these, but it’s a get- foot-in-the-door method). Do an internship at an arts organisation that you believe in. Make friends that you can learn from. Sometimes these are creative outlets, others are giving you insight into the industry, and friendships built on common goals and interests double as invaluable support networks.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad, SWEATSHOP Editor-in-Chief

How can writers make their work stand out when submitting to your publication? Firstly, go to, visit Westside Publications, go to the bottom and check out our style guide. This will give you helpful tips on how to format and layout your grammar, and also on writing technique. I think it is important for all writers to develop a clear understanding of the English language and a style that is consistent. Secondly, work that stands out for me personally is writing that is about place: When it invests in something honest and realistic, and when it does not reinforce boring, typical and cheesy Western and American values. For example, I hate receiving and reading stories about cheerleaders or vampires from kids in Bankstown. We are Australian, our familes come from all parts of the world, and we live in Western Sydney – this is what I believe is important.

What are the stories about that you tend to publish? This is not the only kind of writing I publish, but I am usually interested in stories about Western Sydney. I am interested in people’s experiences and observations about the places they know and understand. I am also interested in publishing stories by young writers of migrant, Indigenous and refugee backgrounds because we do not hear enough of these stories in mainstream literature and on mainstream television.

so what do editors want?

What are some key mistakes people who submit to your publication tend to make? Most people who think they can write haven’t even written a short story yet, and contact me because they want to write a book. If you wanted to be a builder would you think you could build a house before you could build a table? The problem is that many people think writing is easy. My advice is to start slow, try some short stories and short poems. Develop the size of your work as you get better. Another mistake writers make is that they think anybody can write, so they go for it without learning or doing any research. I think it is important for people who want to write to learn about writing. You can do this by reading more, by doing a writing course, by consulting with professional writers and editors or by joining a writers’ group. In many cases you can access these things for free through local arts organisations like SWEATSHOP, WestWords, ICE or your local libraries. Do a Google search and you’ll find plenty of places and people that are willing to help you learn to write. A good editor will always know how much knowledge and research a person has put into their writing and will be able to identify a writers’ grasp of the English language very easily.

How important do you think submitting to magazines and competitions are to emerging writers? Extremely important. This is one of the primary ways to become a professional writer, who has book deals, who is being invited to festivals and panels, and who is producing novels or collections of short stories or poetry.

What do you think are the best outlets for emerging writers? SWEATSHOP is devoted to sourcing and supporting young writers from Western Sydney and our door is always open to you. I also respect the literary journals like The Lifted Brow and Seizure, who are now also interested in sourcing and supporting writers from Western Sydney.


so what do editors want?

Erin Stewart, Editor of Vibewire Online Magazine

How can writers make their work stand out when submitting to your publication? Vibewire is a site which endeavours to ensure that young people are included and able to participate in conversations that matter. Any submission that adheres to this premise is probably going to get our attention. Our ideal article looks like this: It’s on an important issue, it has a fresh and interesting angle, it goes beyond the offerings of mainstream media and mainstream debates, and it gives an insight that young people are uniquely positioned to provide. We run a lot of profiles and the occasional personal story as well as opinion pieces. At their heart, they all engage with important issues. Bonus points are also given for articles that give a fresh angle on an issue we’ve been covering in depth. However, we do recommend external contributors pitch first, just in case we have similar content coming up. The guidelines we give our in-house writers (and that you should follow too!) are as follows: -- Be relevant and write on important topics -- Have a strong angle and a specific focus -- Grab the readers’ attention -- Contextualise the issue for the reader, but spend most of your time going beyond wiki-like description -- Support action and debate on the topic -- Keep your article around the 800-850 word mark

What are the stories about that you tend to publish? It’s cliché advice because it’s important – in order to get a feeling for the kind of things we publish, it’s probably best to actually read the website. We’ve undergone some changes earlier this year and we’ve shifted our focus a bit, but articles from about April 2012 onwards should give you a good idea about our direction. We like to talk about issues which get a lot of airtime and column inches in mainstream media, but we also like to cover issues that mainstream media tends to neglect too. If you hear about something


so what do editors want?

and you wonder, ‘why haven’t I heard about this on the news?’ it’s perfect fodder for our website. Issues we’ve covered recently: asylum seekers, media ethics, education, drugs, mental illness…

What are some key mistakes people who submit to your publication tend to make? They write a complete article on a topic that we simply wouldn’t cover. The fact that you fell over this morning and reflected on how icky blood looks? Yeah, it might be an interesting article but it’s just not the kind of thing we cover (however, the shortage of blood donors, or how people with serious injuries cope at school, or safety in public space might be things we’d consider). We try to be flexible and we’re willing to work with people who take the time to submit to us to develop something suitable. We get a surprising amount of submissions just from people who want to collect clips and who aren’t prepared to redraft and edit. We primarily work with interns rather than external writers so a lot of our attention is on helping them rather than external contributors. However, if you want to write for Vibewire, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Also, don’t send us poetry. We just don’t publish it and there are many other great publications out there that do.

How important do you think submitting to magazines and competitions are to emerging writers? There’s no way around it, if you want to write, you need to write: Ideally for publication. It can take years of writing to get good at it, and then even more years of writing to get paid for it. Submitting work to magazines and competitions is really the only way a writer can develop and gain experience, not to mention a portfolio. If you aren’t writing with a career or the prospect of a publication in mind (for instance, if you just prefer it as a hobby), then it’s less vital to submit your work, although it is still a good way to get feedback.


so what do editors want? 17

What do you think are the best outlets for emerging writers? Vibewire! Seriously, a lot of people who wrote for Vibewire are now off doing awesome writerly things. Have a look into our Vibewire internships as well. A lot of emerging writers do internships and work experience for media outlets where their main jobs are transcribing interviews, cleaning out cupboards, perhaps writing the odd thing (but rarely with a by-line for it). At Vibewire, from day one you write articles and are responsible for getting stuff done. It’s real actual experience writing, rather than real actual experience being around people who write. As for other publications, Voiceworks is very good. They publish a more diverse range of writing than we do (such as fiction and poetry) and work with writers through the editing process. What that means is that emerging writers get to see the mechanics of editing and writing a better piece, which is really invaluable. You also get paid! Other Express Media initiatives are very impressive too. Many, many writers got their start on their local street press doing gig and music reviews and interviews. Student newspapers and magazines, especially across university campuses are also amazing opportunities to get things published and to write on a variety of topics. Emerging writers also shouldn’t be afraid of online media. Why not write a blog? If you’re good at it and you pick your niche right you can build yourself a following. It’s not very lucrative in general, but then again, neither is writing. If you don’t want to make your own blog, you can contribute to others out there – there are many good Australian websites which have a good amount of traffic and will publish your stuff. Other than that, be brazen. Why not try submitting something to a major newspaper or magazine? It might not be published, but you don’t have anything to lose just by trying your hand at it.

so what do editors want?

Sue Crawford, Editor ZineWest

How can writers make their work stand out when submitting to your publication? Emerging writers have wonderful verve and sincerity. We’re listening for depth and clarity to match the passion. We are open to different styles and genres so it’s all about how well the writer conveys their intention. (Always good to check past publications, eg. we have an ezine that includes our winning pieces, http://nwgincsezine. )

What are the stories about that you tend to publish? Eventful stories about people and relationships have done particularly well. Stories that win ZW awards are quite layered for works under 1000 words and far from predictable. Poems range in theme, however many of the best connect people to a social or physical environment.

What are some key mistakes people who submit to your publication tend to make? Narrative threads that wander or break; ingenious but ambiguous imagery; shouts and lectures instead of illustration/revelation; inverted phrases to achieve a rhyme; solid work that lacks development or a distinctive voice; lack of substance in a lyric or performance piece; writing about the past as if the writer still lives there. Plus of course the universal problem of not studying the entry conditions: eg If your name can’t be on the entries, obviously don’t put it into the piece!! Note the word limits – don’t go over or too far under (It’s risky sending in a very small piece to compete against longer more complex works even though we do publish at least one every year). Most of our entrants seem to have more than enough talent to avoid these pitfalls. Solution? Ask for feedback from good readers of your genre before sending out. It should be a ‘cold’ reading. On no account read the piece aloud to your readers or explain things beforehand. You can’t do that for editors and judges. Listen to your reader’s response and don’t defend the piece. Catch what isn’t quite working and revise. 18

so what do editors want? 19

How important do you think submitting to magazines and competitions are to emerging writers? Publishing and competition credits help writers establish a place in the writing community and may lead to more opportunities, however I’m not sure they nourish talent directly unless there is an editing/ mentoring component. Wins are good for morale of course!

What do you think are the best outlets for emerging writers? Local projects and groups that are easy/cheap to access and which help writers develop their work as well as publish and perform. Collaborative work with other writers and artists from different disciplines is great – if it’s not happening in your neighbourhood … you know the answer…

Do you have any hints for entrants writing in English as a second language? Our policy is to overlook a small slip or two when ranking pieces because we are aware that some entrants are working in English as a second language and we want to include them. However, we suggest writers ask a very good reader of English to check whether their work is “saying” what they meant to say. If you have to explain it you need to change it. This can make a significant difference to your ranking.   Alice Grundy, Editor Seizure Magazine

How can writers make their work stand out when submitting to your publication? Each of the literary magazines in Australia has a different personality so the best thing to do is indicate in the submission email/letter what it is about the writing that fits with the magazine. For Seizure, we like writing that is witty, parodic or ironic as well as writing that is based on, or develops out of performance. By indicating that one of these elements is present in the piece, I know that the writer understands the magazine and what we’re trying to do.

so what do editors want?

What are the stories about that you tend to publish? We publish a range of fiction and non-fiction as well as some poetry. What appeals most to us is writing that has a sense of humour and is more nuanced than it first appears. We’ve published stories of fake magazines, fake conferences and fake heroes so fakery is certainly part of the playful Seizure m.o.

What are some key mistakes people who submit to your publication tend to make? It’s the usual suspects of poor spelling or grammar and weird email addresses. When submitting to a magazine, I think that it can help to follow the process that you would with a job application; read the email through carefully, run a spell check and – if you know someone amenable – ask a friend to read over what you’re sending in.

How important do you think submitting to magazines and competitions are to emerging writers? I think that given how competitive it is as a writer trying to get published, having some magazine credits can make a significant difference on a cover letter. However, more importantly than just being a step towards publishing a book, I think that the editorial process with a magazine like Seizure can be invaluable for young writers since it is often the first time their work has been read so closely. Working with an editor can develop aspects of a writer’s craft that might otherwise remain dormant.

What do you think are the best outlets for emerging writers? As far as publication is concerned, there’s a vibrant culture of literary publications in Australia, particularly geared for emerging writers, including Kill Your Darlings, Going Down Swinging and Voiceworks. As far as instantaneous feedback goes, there’s no better source than reading a piece at Penguin Plays Rough or Story Club (both in Sydney although I understand other cities have their equivalents).


literary journals in print





Special Focus





--Short stories


--Opinion pieces



--explores creativity, societal change


and the human condition through


multiple disciplines --history



--issues are themed

--Short stories

--stimulating and thought-provoking

--Opinion pieces

but also entertaining writing

--Memoir --Review --Images --Poetry





--Short stories

--only accepts poems in the form of tanka

--Opinion pieces --Memoir --Review --Images --Poetry





--Short stories

--Eureka Street is a Catholic

--Opinion pieces

magazine but interested in all


religious viewpoints


--ethics/human rights

--Images --Poetry



--looks for quirky and original pieces



--Short stories

--favours shorter pieces


--the website contains a good



discussion of the types of pieces


they look for

--Spoken word






Special Focus

The Lifted



--Short Stories


--Opinion Pieces



--Memoir --Review --Images --Cartoons Meanjin


--literary works


--Australian content

--Review --Essay



--publishes work that engages with

--Short Stories

important literary, cultural and

--Opinion pieces

political issues in contemporary



--Review --Images

--has a tradition of publishing dissenting articles with a political and cultural focus


--Short Stories




--encourages those with little or no publishing history to submit their work for consideration


--Short Stories --Poetry --Essay

--focus on political and cultural critique --politically conservative

--Feature Article --Cartoons





Special Focus



--has a different theme each issue

--Short stories

--performance based writing

--Opinion pieces

--writing with a sense of humour

--Memoir --Review --Images Sleepers

--Short Stories



--Limited number

--publishes new and established writers

of poems and illustrations Southerly


--Australian literature focus

--Short stories --Memoir --Review --Poetry

Visible Ink


--short stories


--particularly interested in emerging writers and artists



--Short Stories

--favours shorter works



--publishes a lot of emerging writers


--Poetry --Scripts --Essays --Memoir




--Short stories --Reviews

--only publishes work by people under 25 --publishes work that gives young


people a voice and explores youth


culture and youth issues

--Opinion pieces --Memoir Untitled

--Short stories

--publishes fiction of any genre --engaging, entertaining





Special Focus


--Short Stories

--has a different theme every issue


--publishes new and emerging



--Feature articles



--focuses on the literature and



culture of Australia, particularly

--Short stories

Western Australia, and its

--Opinion pieces

neighbouring regions in South-East


Asia and the Indian Ocean


Wet Ink


--publishes exciting new and


emerging authors alongside

--Short stories

established authors

--Opinion pieces



--Short Story








--publishes many emerging writers

--focuses on writing from Western Sydney

--Short stories


journals - online only





Special Focus




--Reviews --Feature Articles --Interviews --Spoken Word, Video and Multimedia which focus on poetry Islet




--features short works by new and emerging writers and artists

--Review --New Media --Images Mascara


--Poetry --Reviews

--particularly interested in Asian and Indigenous writers

--Translations --Essays Jacket






--Essays --Interviews LinQ


--particularly interested in regional,


national and international interests


in the areas of literature, media/


cinema and culture




--Short Story --Photography

--favours inventive, experimental and avant-guard work

--Art --Essay Stylus






--only accepts submissions in

magazine 3am magazine


January, May and September

--Fiction --Reviews 28

so you want to enter

a writing competition?

Step 1 Read the submissions guidelines thoroughly. Make sure that the piece you intend to submit is in the correct genre and form and that it explores the theme of the competition if there is one. If there are judges reports and/or samples of the winning entries from a previous year available make sure that you read these in order to get a better understanding of what the judges may be looking for. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to also look at who the judges are and what type of work they publish. Judges have a tendency to favour work that is similar to their own in style and genre, though that doesn’t mean that something completely different might not work as well.

Step 2 First impressions count. Judges won’t go past your first page or even your first few lines it you don’t grab them immediately. Your opening needs to be memorable, to make your style and voice clear and to give a hint of the themes and ideas you will be exploring in the rest of your piece. Hook your reader in.

Step 3 Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Hand your work to someone else who can have a second check of your spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Step 4 Read the submissions guidelines again. Make sure that your entry conforms to all the guidelines you have been given. Pay particular attention to layout. Are you using the correct font and spacing? Have you been asked to put a header or footer or page numbers? A note on money: Most writing competitions will ask you to pay a fee of between five and ten dollars per entry. This is mostly to fund the judging, administering and awarding of prizes and to also weed out writers who might submit work that they know isn’t really ready yet. Most of the time entry fees are reasonable but writers should also be aware that there are some competitions whose entry fees are not reasonable.



of writing competitions

January Josephine Ulrick Literature and Poetry Prize Website: About: Submit a short story of 1,000-3,000 words of prose or a single poem or suite of poems to 200 lines. First prize: $10,000. Mardi Gras Short Story Competition Website: About: Submit creative and non-fiction works under 750 words. Open to members and friends of the LGBTQI community. Certificates and prizes awarded.

February Bankstown City Council, Youth Week Writing Award Website: About: Submit writing in any form. Open to writers under 24 years of age who live in the Bankstown City Council Area. Prizes and certificates awarded Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Literary Competition Website: About: Submit a short story up to 3,000 words on any topic, poetry up to 30 lines, bush verse up to 52 lines. First prize: $200 Flinders News Prose Award Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 1,500 words for adults and up to 1,000 words for young adults (13-18 years). Prizes and certificates awarded Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting Website: About: Submit an unproduced, unpublished play of a minimum length of 60 minutes in performance. The Griffin Award is an annual prize offered to an outstanding new Australian play. Prize: $10,000.



of writing competitions

March FAW (TAS) Nairda Lyne Award Website: About: Submit a short story of no more than 1,000 words that is suitable for children aged 8-12 years. First prize: $100. Gulgong Henry Lawson Society of NSW Inc Written Poetry Awards Website: About: Submit written poetry, for a ballad with good rhyme, rhythm and metre, no word or line limit. First prize: $500.

April The Best of Times short story competition Website: About: Submit humorous short stories (any theme) up to 2500 words. First prize: $200. CAL Scribe Fiction Prize Website: About: Submit an unpublished manuscript. Open to an Australian writer over 35. The winner will receive $15,000 and a book contract from Scribe. Charlotte Duncan Award Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 1,500 words and aimed at readers aged 9-12. First prize: $75 and publication on Celapene Press website. Eastern Regional Libraries National Storywriting/Poetry Competition Website: About: Submit a short story and poem. First prize: $1,000, adults and $300, teenage. GCWA Children’s Writing Competition Website: About: Submit a short story or poem in three age categories: 7-10 years, 11-13 years, 14-17 years. Certificates and prizes awarded.



of writing competitions

The Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award Website: About: Submit poetry that responds to artworks selected from the Council Visual Art Collection. Each poem must be no longer than twelve lines, and may be in any genre of poetry. First prize: $500, adults. Youth prize, $150 (12-18 years old). Twelve poems will be selected for a series of postcards. Raspberry & Vine Short Story Competition Website: About: Submit unpublished fiction not exceeding 4,000 words. First prize: $300. The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing Website: About: Submit a fiction or non-fiction manuscript for young adults. Open to submissions from published and unpublished writers. Submissions must be 25,000 words or more, and hardcopy only. First prize: a publishing contract with Text and a $10,000 advance against royalties.

May ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize Website: About: Submit stories of 2,000- 5,000. First prize: $5,000. Alan Marshall Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words. First prize: $2,000. Eastwood Hills FAW Annual Literary Competition Website: About: Submit a short story, memoir, free verse poem, bush verse or traditional rhyming verse. First prize: $200. ZineWest Competition Website: About: Submit short prose and poetry. All shortlisted entrants go into ZineWest magazine. First prize: $400.



of writing competitions

June Blake Poetry Award Website: About: Submit poetry that explores spiritual and religious themes in a new work of 100 lines or less. First prize: $5,000. FAW (TAS) Henry Savery National Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a short story of no longer than 2,500 words. First prize $400. FAW (WA) Lyndall Hadow/Donald Stuart Short Story Competition Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words, maximum 3 entries. First prize: $400. Page Seventeen Short Story and Poetry Competition Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words, poetry to 60 lines. Prizes and certificates awarded. Society of Women Writers Poetry Competition Website: About: Submit unpublished poems. Open to women only. First prize: $250. Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year Website: About: Submit an original short story of 1,000 words. Open to secondary students in years 10 to 12 in NSW and ACT. Winners announced in Sydney Morning Herald and website. Young Aussie Writers’ Awards Website: writers_home.aspx About: Submit fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, song lyrics and plays. Open to children aged 5 to 14 years. Winning entries published in Comet, Explore and Challenge magazines.



of writing competitions

July Albury City Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a story of up to 3,000 words, the theme is open. First prize: $1,000. The Arts Queensland Val Vallis Poetry Award Website: About: The prize is offered to an unpublished poem of 100 lines or less written by an Australian poet. First prize: $1,000. Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize Website: About: Submit an original, unpublished poem of not more than 50 lines. First prize: $1,500 The Carmel Bird Short Fiction Award Website: About: Submit a short story award of up to 4,000 words. Open to women only. Winner and finalist to be published in anthology. First prize: $500. Max Harris Poetry Award Website: About: Submit poetry of up to 60 lines. Prize: $3,000. The Shoalhaven Literary Award Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words. First prize: $1000 together with a two-week artist residency at Bundanon. Wesley Michel Wright Prize in Poetry Website: About: Submit a poem of between 50 and 500 lines. The poem must have been published within the last 12 months in book or journal form. First prize: $3,466 and an annual subscription to Meanjin magazine.



of writing competitions

August Boroondara Literary Awards Website: About: Submit a short story of 2,000- 3,000 words on an open theme. First prize: $1,500. Cricket Poetry Award About: Submit a 150 word poem celebrating aspects of life in and around the game and sport of cricket, in settings of backyard, beach, street, park, village green, local club or social cricket. The genre may be Narrative, Dramatic, Satirical, Lyrical, Elegy or Verse fable. First prize: $2,000. Kathleen Julia Bates Memorial Writing Competition Website: About: Submit an unpublished short story to 1,000 words suitable to be read by children aged 7-10 years. First prize: $200. FAW (NSW) Marjorie Barnard Award Website: About: Submit a short story of no more than 3,000 words. First prize: $500. John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers Website: About: Submit a short story or poem. Winners are selected by Express Media’s patron and best-selling author, John Marsden. Categories for 18-24 and under 18 in short story. Winners published in Voiceworks, certificates and prize money also awarded. Finch Memoir Prize Website: About: The Finch Memoir Prize is awarded to an unpublished nonfiction manuscript in the form of a memoir. The winning author will receive prize money of $10,000 and publication of their book on the Finch list.



of writing competitions

Newcastle Poetry Prize Website: About: Submit an unpublished poem or sequence of poems, in English, of up to 200 lines. All entries will be considered for publication in the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology. First prize: $12,000. Perilous Adventures: The Short Story Competition Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 5,000 words. Stories may be in any genre: from the weird to the wacky, the sassy to the sublime; speculative, serious, criminal or romantic, realist or reactionary. Four winning stories will be published in the Perilous Adventures Magazine.

September The Examiner Literature Awards Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 2000 words on any topic. First prize $500. EJ Brady Short Story Writing Competition Website: About: Submit a short story competition with an open theme. Major Short Story: maximum 2,500 words or less; Very Short Story 700 words or less. First prize: $1,500 and $200 for runner up. The Examiner Literature Awards Website: About: Submit short stories up to 2,000 words on any topic. First prize: $500. FAW (NSW) Hilarie Lindsay Young Writers Competition Website: About: Submit a poem or short story (alternate years). Poetry competition has four sections. Years 4 and under: Poem to 20 lines. Years 5 and 6: Poem to 40 lines. Years 7-9: Poem to 40 lines. Years 10-12: Poem to 60 lines. Short Story competition has four sections. Years 4 and under, up to 1,500 words. Years 5 and 6, up to 1,500 words. Years 7-9, up to 2,500 words. Years 10-12, up to 2,500 words. Certificates and prizes awarded.



of writing competitions

FAW (NSW) Jean Stone Poetry Award Website: About: Submit a poem on the even biennial year for a poem or group of poems up to 60 lines. First prize $500. Gawler Poetry Competition Website: About: Original and previously unpublished poems with a limit of two poems per poet. Certificates and prizes awarded. Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize Website: About: Submit previously unpublished poems. First prize: $2,000. Rolf Boldrewood Literary Awards Website: About: Submit prose or poetry with an Australian content. Prose fiction or family history memoir to a maximum of 3000 words, on an Australian theme; Poetry – in any form or style to a maximum of 80 lines on an Australian theme. First prize: $600. The Walter Stone Award for Life Writing Website: About: Submit an original, unpublished manuscript showing some aspect of Australian History or having Australian Historical significance. ‘Life Writing’ is defined as biography, autobiography, memoir, monograph, bibliography. Biography and autobiography may be an extract to meet the word count requirements of: minimum 10,000, maximum 25,000 words. First prize: $1,500.

October Gold Coast Independent Writers Festival Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 1,500 words. First prize: $200 voucher. Details on website: Positive Words Competition Email: About: Submit poetry and short stories. Certificates and prizes awarded.



of writing competitions

Queen of Crime Awards Website: About: Submit a crime story with a maximum 5,000 words. Certificates and prizes awarded. Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award Website: About: The Award encourages development of material (not necessarily religious) that conveys a message of faith, hope and love. A panel of judges are appointed annually by the Rodney Seaborn Playwright’s Trust. Preference is given to persons who have resided in Australia for at least one year. Prize: $20,000. Southern Cross Literary Competition Website: About: Submit a short story up to 5,000 words. First prize: $1,000.

November The Blackened Billy Verse Competition About: Submit bush poetry (containing rhyme and rhythm). Must have an Australiana theme. No limit on length. Cash prizes total $900. FAW (VIC) Angelo B Natoli Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a short story on any theme to max 3,000 words. First prize: $600. FAW (VIC) Anne Elder Poetry Award Website: About: Submit a first book of poetry published after November in the preceding year. The book must have at least 20 pages of text. Selfpublished works are eligible. First prize $1,000. FAW (VIC) Di Cranston Award Website: About: Submit a stage play, radio or television script on any topic by a writer of any age. Entries will not be returned. Submit a maximum of 120 pages in script format. First prize: $250.



of writing competitions

FAW (VIC) Jennifer Burbidge Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words, which deals with any aspect of the lives of those with mental disability and/or its impact on their families. The story should be relevant to an Australian situation. First prize: $250. FAW (VIC) Jim Hamilton Award Website: About: Submit an unpublished novel on any theme or genre with a minimum length of 30,000 words. Entries must be aimed at adult or teenage readers. First prize: $1,000. FAW (VIC) John Morrison Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a short story on any theme up to a maximum of 300 words. For writers aged 17-20 years. First prize: $200. FAW (VIC) Mary Grant Bruce Short Story Award For Children’s Literature Website: About: Submit a short story aimed at readers aged between 10 - 15 years. No longer than 5,000 words. First prize: $600. FAW (VIC) Michael Dugan Short Story Award Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words in length. Open to young writers in two age categories: 8-12 years and 13-16 years. Certificates and prizes awarded. FAW (VIC) White Light Short Film Script Award Website: About: Submit a short film script: Part A, TV Drama Script Award; Part B, Short Film Script Award. One copy required, will not be returned. First prize: $125 in each category. FAW (VIC) Young Poet of the Year Award Website: About: Submit a poem on any theme, no word limit, in two age categories: 8-12 years and 13-16 years. Certificate and prizes awarded.



of writing competitions

National One-Act Playwriting Competition Website: About: Submit a one-act play. Total prize pool of $6,000. The winner of Best Play prize is $3,000. The 3 finalists are staged as part of the Noosa Longweekend cultural festival. Peter Porter Poetry Prize Website: About: Submit a single poem of no more than 100 lines. Guarantees winners wide exposure through publication in ABR. First prize: $4,000. The Somerset National Novella Writing Competition Website: About: Submit a novella of 10,000- 20,000. Entrants must be under 19 years of age at close of entries. All State winners will be awarded cash prizes. The winning manuscripts will receive personalised advice from Penguin Group (Australia). Accompanying the monetary prize will be a full editorial report on the National Winning Manuscript, courtesy of Penguin Group (Australia).

December The Age Short Story Competition Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 3,000 words. First prize: $3,000. Winners and runners up published in The Age A2. Eyre Writers Awards Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 1,500 words; the Tom Black Memorial Poetry Prize for non-rhyming poetry (limit of 50 lines); the Rhyming Poetry Section, for poetry up to 50 lines; and the Manthorpe Memorial Prize, for a story on a maritime theme, with a maximum of 1,500 words. Fist prize: $200 for each section. FAW (WA) Tom Collins Poetry Prize Website: About: Submit a poem of a maximum of 60 lines. First prize: $1,000.



of writing competitions

Hal Porter Short Story Competition Website: About: Submit a short story of up to 2,500 words. First prize: $1,000. IP Picks National Awards for Unpublished Manuscripts Website: About: Submit unpublished manuscripts in poetry, fiction; creative non-fiction; best young adult or junior prose; or best first book. Upper limit for prose is 80,000 words. Winners published in one of IP’s imprints. Overland Magazine Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets Website: About: Submit one poem of no more than 80 lines. Open to poets who have not yet had a collection of their work commercially published. First prize: $6,000 and publication in Overland. The Nature Conservancy of Australia’s biennial Nature Writing Prize Email: About: Submit a nature-themed essay of between 3,000 – 5,000 words. First prize: $5,000.


so you want to write online?

Blogging is a great way to develop your writing and to gain an audience for your work. Here is what Western Sydney writer Shiela Pham has to say … How I learned to stop worrying and love the blog: A quick guide by Shiela Pham I wasn’t an early adopter of blogging. For the longest time I found it odd that people would share the intimate details of their lives so freely through their LiveJournal accounts. Back in the early 2000s, I didn’t understand that blogging was so much more than that, and how much it could help me with my writing. It was only in 2005 when I moved away from Australia for the first time, that I finally got what blogging was all about. Not only was it a chance to share my experiences with my friends and family back home, I began to really enjoy the discipline of blogging itself. I had a reason to write regularly and I found that writing for people I knew helped me make sense of my experiences. Writing for an audience – real or imagined – can make storytelling feel a lot more natural. What I also learned when I started blogging was you only need to reveal what you want to reveal; it’s entirely up to you what you write about. Although blogging isn’t the same as having your work published, there’s something very satisfying about having a living document that’s all yours, a space where you can regularly add your writing. Why blog? If you want to be a writer, there are lots of good reasons to start blogging. I think the four main things it gives you are an online platform for your thoughts and stories, a ready-to-go personal website; a chance for you to develop a writing practice and a commitment to publishing regularly. There are different types of blogs out there. You’ll find blogs about any topic you can think of – food, classic cars, space travel. Not to mention plenty of blogs which are about writing itself (e.g. The NSW Writers’ Centre blog, which talks about writing as well upcoming courses). Some are highly personal, while others are completely impersonal and read more like news sites. Most blogs are singleauthor, but there are some where multiple people contribute. I have my own blog and I also write for others as well.


so you want to write online?

A blog is a collection of posts (with dates on them) and you can certainly treat your blog like an online diary and write about your adventures. However, it might be easier for you to keep it up if you can think of an angle; like having a regular column, where you can share your take on things. For me personally, I found it boring to write about my day-to-day life in Australia. It was more inspiring to blog about my travels, which is one of my passions. Aside from the immediate audience of friends, which is gratifying, I’ve also made lots of online connections with other bloggers who share an interest in travel too. But this is just my experience of blogging; everyone has a different approach. For example, a good friend of mine started his blog when he moved away from home and used it as a space for personal reflections about what he was thinking about and doing. Over time he’s added much longer journalistic pieces and a platform to practice his personal essay writing skills. Just like writing in general, don’t go into blogging thinking that it could be a way to make a living. Although some make money via donations or advertising, the vast majority of bloggers don’t. Do it for the love of it! It’s a total bonus if you develop an online following. Even rarer are those who get some sort of book deal out of it. Yes, there are books and films out there that started out as blogs (e.g. Stuff White People Like, Julie & Julia). How do I start a blog? Starting a blog is actually easy, and it only takes a few minutes to sign up to a site. Maintaining a blog and writing regularly is the real challenge. Two of the most popular free blogging platforms are Blogger and WordPress. Blogger is simpler and more accessible if you’ve never had a blog before, but WordPress gives you a lot more options in terms of design and functionality. I used Blogger for my first blog, before migrating onto WordPress (which is now my platform of choice). LiveJournal, which I mentioned at the beginning, also has a social aspect where you have a friends list on your blog. Another popular free blogging platform is Tumblr which is quite different to traditional blogging and it’s known as ‘micro-blogging’.


so you want to write online?

The posts are much shorter and there’s a strong culture on Tumblr of putting up posts relating to pop culture or fandom (like for TV shows). There’s also an emphasis on photos, graphics and even animated GIFs. If you’ve got your own website, you can also install blogging software (such as to host your own blog, which means you can fully customise it too. Writing for other people’s blogs Another great way to start blogging is to contribute to other people’s existing blogs. For example, I occasionally post to two group blogs, and it works well for me because sometimes I write about things that don’t really fit on my own blog. Also, it’s a chance for me to be part of an online community based on a specific topic of interest. For example, last year I wrote a post called ‘Why I’m keeping my Vietnamese surname when I marry’ on Peril Magazine’s blog, which features commentary on Asian-Australian issues. My blog post wouldn’t have made as much sense on my travel blog, and it wouldn’t have reached a lot of readers since the audience for my blog is much smaller. What if I want to be anonymous? The beauty of blogging is you can be as anonymous as you like. If you wanted to, you could write a blog with no identifiable details and no one would know it’s you. This would be a good approach if you write about stuff that you don’t want everyone on your Facebook list to know about! On the other hand, if you’re interested in promoting your blog and building up your profile as a writer, you need to attach it to some sort of personal identity, even if it’s a pen name. Then you can put links to your blog posts on Facebook or Twitter, and promote it on other appropriate online forums. Also, a simple way to attract an audience is to give readers an option to subscribe so they receive an email whenever you publish a new post. The other way to find readers who aren’t people you already know in real life is to spend time on other people’s blogs. When you give a bit of love to the ‘blogoverse’, some of that love will come back to you.


great examples of blogs

by western sydney writers




Shiela Pham

Jennifer Lam

Walter Mason

Nicole Miller

Thang Ngo

Amy Ta

Filip Stempien

so you want to apply for

a fellowship/mentoring/writing residency?

Why would you want to apply for one of these? Fellowships usually involve a writer receiving some money to enable them to take time off work and write; residencies provide uninterrupted writing time, often in a beautiful space and in the company of other writers; and mentorships provide you with feedback and guidance on your work from experienced writers. Criteria: All fellowships, residencies and mentorships have criteria that your application will be judged on. Sometimes these criteria are more vague than at other times. The two main criteria for the Australia Council Literature Fellowships: -- the creative substance of the intended project -- literary merit; assessed on grounds of writing ability, and stylistic and thematic achievement as demonstrated by support material. These two criteria are a good indication of the basic information that needs to be included in all applications.


tips for writing applications 47



--Carefully read and re-read

--Don’t be vague. Outline a clear,

the guidelines and eligibility

specific project that you will


be working on. For example, do not write “I want to write

--Make sure you address every

poems.” Write “I want to write a

aspect of the application

suite of poems that explore the


connections between mothers and daughters.”

--Explain specifically why you are the most qualified person to write this specific text.

--Don’t give a lot of personal detail about your own life unless it is relevant to the writing you

--Explain what impact your

are working on. For example,

work will have on the literary

mention that you’ve been a sailor

field. For example, you

for 20 years if you are writing a

may be writing about a

book about sailing.

community that is not often represented in literature or

--Don’t be too informal or

you may be pushing the

conversational in your tone. Write

boundaries of a particular

in plain, clear English.

genre. --Explain what research you have done so far and the impact it has had on your work. For example, you may have been highly influenced by particular writers or you may have conducted significant original research into the historical period in which your work is set.

tips for writing applications



--Get someone to proofread

--Don’t give up if your first

your application for spelling,

application is not successful.

punctuation and clarity.

Read over the general feedback on applications that most

--Explain what you aim to

organisations will make available

get out of the residency/

after applications have been


processed. If the organisation offers individual feedback on

--List your literary

rejected applications then politely

achievements. This may

contact them and ask for it.

take the form of regularly

Spend some time considering

attending a writers’ group,

how you can make your

being shortlisted for local

application more successful next

writing prizes or having a

time and then apply again.

piece of work published in an anthology. --Provide good quality support material that shows off your best work.


fellowships, mentorships

& residencies

January kuril dhagan Indigenous writing fellowship Email: About: There are two $10,000 fellowships on offer. The fellowships are open to all writers (published and unpublished) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

February WestWords Western Sydney Writers’ Fellowship Email: About: Fellowship awarded to individual artists with a significant Western Sydney connection. Applicants must propose a writing project that they will facilitate in the community as part of their fellowship. The fellowship is worth $7,000.

March Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards, Written Word Award Website: About: The Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards offers writers aged 30 and under the chance to accelerate their creative careers with $5,000 worth of Qantas flights and $5,000 cash. A mentorship with a professional writer/editor is also made available.

April Watermark Fellowship Website: About: Fellowship offered to an emerging writer of nature, natural history, or sense of place. Fellowship valued at approximately $5000.

May Australia Council for the Arts Literature Board Fellowships Website: About: The Australia Council offers a variety of fellowships for emerging, developing and established writers. The monies awarded range between $10,000-$40,000.


fellowships, mentorships

& residencies

Australian Society of Authors, Emerging Writers Mentorship Website: About: Each year the ASA runs a selective mentorship program for unpublished writers and book illustrators. Authors writing in a new genre may also be eligible to apply. Mentorees work with an established writer for 25 hours over a 12-month period. Aspiring Writers Mentorship Award Website: About: The Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program is designed to encourage aspiring writers in their pursuit of creating fiction for children with a view to publication. Submissions are evaluated in one of three age categories: Junior (under fifteen years), Young Adult (fifteen to twenty years) and the Charlotte Waring Barton Award (over twenty years). Penguin Varuna Development Scholarship Website: About: New and emerging writers of adult and narrative nonfiction, including published writers trying a genre different from most of their published work. $5,000 cash prize. One year (20 hours) of editorial assistance from Penguin Books Australia. Two-week Varuna residential fellowship. Valerie Parv Award Website: About: Submit a maximum of 10,000 words of manuscript, plus maximum 1,000-word synopsis, of an unpublished romance manuscript. For details, see website. First prize is mentorship by published Harlequin author Valerie Parv, plus $300. Write in Your Face Email: About: A program funded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council, Write in Your Face supports young writers using language innovatively across a range of forms and genres. Applicants may apply for up to $5,000 but to be eligible they must be aged 30 years or younger (or work with people 30 years or younger) at the time of application.


fellowships, mentorships

& residencies 51

August Varuna Fellowships for Writing and Illustrating Retreats Website: About: Varuna Fellowships are offered in all genres of imaginative writing or illustrating, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, genre writing, writing and/or illustrating children’s books, graphic novels, dramatic/screen writing, writing for radio, translation, essays and short fiction. Varuna Fellowships for Writing Retreats offer a writer a residency with independent writing time, accommodation and full board at Varuna, the Writers’ House in the Blue Mountains. The St Martins National Playwrights’ Fellowship Website: About: The Victorian Emerging Playwright Fellowship predicts Australia’s brightest new writing talent and is open to 13 to 30 yearold playwrights across Australia. Scripts in progress only, no full or finished works accepted. Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre Residency Website: About: The KSP Writers’ Centre awards a stipend and two to four weeks’ free accommodation in Katherine Susannah Prichard’s house in the Perth Hills. Residencies are awarded to a young writer, an emerging writer and an established writer.

October Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarships Website: About: The Marten Bequest is intended to augment the scholar’s own resources towards affording a cultural education by means of a travelling scholarship in one or more categories of the Arts. These scholarships shall be used for study, maintenance and travel in either Australia or overseas, and are for a period of two years. Prose and poetry entries should include a small selection of work published or unpublished and reviews of recent work (if applicable). Scholarships valued at $20,000 each (two scholarships per category).

fellowships, mentorships

& residencies

Playwriting Australia, Re-Gen Project Website: About: RE-GEN is an initiative for young and emerging theatre makers to develop new work, create professional networks and promote their work to theatre companies. RE-GEN brings selected artists – playwrights, directors, dramaturges—into a week-long creative development on a new Australian play running in parallel with Play Writing Australia’s National Script Workshop. RE-GEN is offered exclusively to young and emerging artists, as individuals or working in creative teams, who are aged between 18 and 26 and can demonstrate up to five years’ equivalent arts practice experience or who have graduated from relevant tertiary study in the past two years.



of a fellowship application

A version of this application was successful for both an Australia Council Emerging Writers Grant and a Varuna Writers’ Centre Fellowship. The format used here may not be appropriate for all types of residencies, fellowships or mentorships which may have different criteria, however, it is a good guide. Michael’s brother Dom dies in the summer he turns fourteen. But The Incredible Here and Now is not a sad story, nor is it a story about suffering or death. Told in a series of vignettes, it is the story of Michael and his perpetually moving family of ‘everywhere people.’ After the death of his brother, Michael spends his days becoming intimate with his western suburbs neighbourhood and those that surround it: its structures, its people, the tensions and the inspiring stories that wrap themselves around the sprawling apartment blocks and vacant plots of land. “Those who don’t know any better they drive through the neighbourhood and lock their car doors.” However, Michael and everyone else who lives here knows better. He knows that the “men on the corner smoking hookas are only telling each other lies like men in every other place do.” Michael knows everything about this neighbourhood and through his vignettes he lets the reader in; to the unsettled lives of his family members, the friends he meets in the McDonald’s parking lot at night and the classmates who spend their mornings drooling at the Coke Factory on their walk to school. It is in this place that he will find an escape from his mother’s growing silence and fill the space left by the absence of a brother who could charm the whole neighbourhood into doing anything.

Aims I am writing the Incredible Here and Now because it needs to be written. Because I wanted to tell a story about young people in the western suburbs that isn’t overshadowed by the clichéd images of violence and drug abuse that often prevents the media from really understanding Western Sydney. I have always believed that art has the responsibility of serving communities and this book both serves and pays respect to mine. I think that the vignette form serves my aims well as it allows me to write a series of self-contained stories that ignore borders between



of a fellowship application

spoken and written, poetry and young adult literature. Vignettes mimic the way we understand places in a series of seemingly disparate voices and images that, when combined, form a picture of a whole community. The inspiration for the structure and style of my novel is taken from texts such as V.S Naipaul’s Miguel Street, Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street, Jorge Luis Borges’ Dream Tigers and Kawabata Yasunari’s Palm-of-The-Hand Stories. All these novels/collections, told in vignettes, or short short stories intimately capture the intricate world of a community through writing that is both experimental, yet humane and appealing to a general audience.

Progress to Date Thus far, I have mostly been concerned with experimenting with and researching the style, structure and form. As well as reading and note-taking on works such as the ones mentioned above, I have also written over forty practice vignettes. Many of these vignettes will not make it into the final product but writing them has allowed me the invaluable experience of experimenting with different voices and perspectives. As a result of this experimentation, I now have a very clear understanding of the form and style my manuscript will take. In addition, I have workshopped these vignettes with SWEATSHOP and the Westside Writers Group and received feedback from western suburbs school students.

Timing If I am successful in receiving funding, I plan to take leave from my job between February 2014 and July 2014 to work full-time on my project. Prior to this period, I will still be experimenting, researching and workshopping my vignettes. I plan on producing a complete manuscript by the end of 2015 and submitting this manuscript to publishers by February 2016.



of a fellowship application 55

Conclusion I have many personal qualities which I know will enable me to meet the deadlines I have set out above. I am an extremely hard worker who has consistently managed to meet the writing goals I have set for myself regardless of other working commitments. I have already established myself as a successful and well-respected short story writer over the last 10 years. In this time period I received numerous awards and fellowships for my writing including; the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award for Writing (2004), a mentorship with Random House Publishing (2005), a Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize (2009) and a Varuna Writer’s Fellowship (2010). In addition, my stories are frequently published in well-respected journals such as Heat, Wet Ink, Island and Going Down Swinging and my work has been featured on ABC Radio and Triple J.  

so you want to find

a writing community?

SWEATSHOP --977726780 --University of Western Sydney, --Bankstown Campus --Building 3.G.40

ICE --98975744 --8 Victoria Rd --Parramatta --Corner Villiers St

BYDS --97938324 --5 Olympic Pde --Bankstown --NSW 2200

WestWords --98396079 --62 Flushcombe Road --Blacktown NSW 2148


so you want to find

a writing community?

PYT --97246077 --19 Harris Street Fairfield NSW 2165

Street University, Liverpool --87858000 --1 Speed Street Liverpool --NSW 2170

Street University, Mount Druitt --8886 2800 --Suite 1, Level 1, 11 Cleeve Close --Mt Druitt --NSW 2770

Writing & Society Research Centre, UWS --977726780 --University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus --Building 3.G.40


list of writers’ groups

in western sydney

Details can change. Check contacts for updates and information on membership and activities. Auburn Poets and Writers 3rd Wednesday of the month 6.30 - 9.30 pm, ACDN, Auburn Central, Shop P7B, Cnr Park/Queen, 9649 5559 or Eastwood/Hills FAW 1st Saturday 1.30 pm, Senior* Citizens’ Room Cnr. Farnell/North Rocks Roads, North Rocks (*all ages welcome ). Philippa Holland: INFINITAS Writers’ Group 3rd Saturday most months Noon-2pm at Infinitas Bookshop, 22 Civic Arcade, 48-50 George St, Parramatta. Mount Druitt Creative Writing Group 2nd Thursday of the month. Noon–2:30 pm, Library at Mount Druitt Hub, Ayres Grove, Mt Druitt. Free entry, share your work. Ph: Gayle 0421 648 798 NEW Writers’ Group Inc 2nd & 4th Saturdays, 3-5 pm Mars Hill Café (upstairs) 331 Church St., Parramatta | Parramatta FAW 2nd Saturday of the month 12.30 pm Top Floor, Parramatta Library, Civic Place, Parramatta. Lyn Leerson: Ph: 9639 8394 Poetry Alive Thursdays at Liverpool Library, 11 am to 1 pm All welcome. Wheelchair access. Ken Setter Ph: 9720 8247 St Marys Community Creative Writing Group Last Friday of the month 12:30 to 3:00 pm St Marys Community Centre, Great Western H’way/Mamre Rd Ph: 9673 2169


list of writers’ groups

in western sydney 59

SWEATSHOP Fridays University of Western Sydney, Writing & Society Research Centre UWS Bankstown Campus, Building 3

U3A The University of the Third Age runs groups for members e.g. Writing Creatively: Every second Wednesday, 1:30-3:30 pm Hewitt House, cnr Byron St and Guildford Rd, Guildford. For people in retirement or semi-retirement. Contact Lorna Clayton, 9630 7636 Wollondilly FAW 2nd Sunday. 1.00 pm Community Centre, Harper Close, Tahmoor

Look for other groups: NSW Writers’ Centre Grounds of Rozelle Hospital Home to a number of groups: Ph: 9555 9757 Note also the Centre’s online search page for groups in NSW. For more FAW groups in Greater Western Sydney, including Liverpool, Bankstown, Hawkesbury, Macarthur (Campbelltown) and Blue Mountains see the NSW FAW site:

Felicity Castagna is the author of Small Indiscretions: Stories of Travel in Asia (Transit Lounge, 2011) and a Young Adult novel set in Western Sydney, The Incredible Here and Now (Giramondo, September 2013). Her writing has appeared in places such as The Age, Heat and ABC Radio National. She is a doctoral candidate with The University of Western Sydney, Writing and Society Research Centre. She has worked as a teacher, editor, writer and community arts worker in Western Sydney for the past ten years. Editorial consultant, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, was chief editor of Westside Publications from 2005–2012. He was the recipient of the 2012 Australia Council’s Kirk Robson Award and a 2012 JUMP Mentorship. His stories have appeared in Heat, The Lifted Brow and Seizure. Mohammed is currently a doctoral candidate with the University of Western Sydney Writing and Society Research Centre and Director of the Western Sydney Literacy Movement: SWEATSHOP. His first novel, The Tribe, is forthcoming in 2014 (Giramondo). Guest writer, Sheila Pham, is an online editor at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a professional writer. Her personal blog is Elephant Woman (, and she’s a contributing blogger to Language on the Move (http:// and Peril Magazine (





Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.