My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Highlights from the CBCA National Conference, 2014

The CBCA National Conference, 2014 is an event I will remember fondly for a long time. I loved mingling with respected children’s authors and illustrators for two and a half glorious days. Here are ten of my favourite highlights. I could have listed a hundred!

1) Meeting Stephen Michael King and Glenda Millard

Glenda Millard, Kirrili Lonergan, Katrina McKelvey, Stephen Michael King

Stephen and Glenda are such a gentle yet powerful team. The themes in their stories run deep into my heart and touch me profoundly. 

2) Drinking champagne in the foyer of the National Library with much loved children’s authors and illustrators


Photo by Tania McCartney

What a way to start a conference! There is no better place to host literary events and toast wonderful publication news than here. Can you find me in this photo?

3) Watching Bob Graham sign my first edition of ‘Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten’



I was given this copy while I was at university studying my Bachelor of Education degree in the early 1990’s. My copy is very worn as it has had many children inside its pages. I attended Bob’s workshop at the Sydney Writers’ Festival two years ago and he talked about the story behind his latest picture book, ‘Silver Buttons’. Now I have my own signed copy. 

4) Canberra in Autumn

Photo by Tania McCartney
Photo by Tania McCartney

The colours were amazing! I enjoyed sharing breakfast Sunday morning on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin while chatting to Canberra’s local authors and illustrators. Every colour of the rainbow was represented in the trees that surrounded the lake. A breathtaking site indeed!

5) Dinner in the Australian War Memorial


Words cannot explain the atmosphere of this night. Being in the Australian War Memorial seated in a dimly lit room underneath the tail of a war plane was incredible. We were moved to by war stories by Jackie French. Morris Gleitzman’s ‘Loyal Creatures’ (a war horse story) was dramatically performed by a solo artist. Very moving!


6) Andy Griffiths - legend



I ‘accidently’ ran into Andy in an empty foyer. What else could his biggest fan do other then ask for a photo? See – he is happy to see me! We made a date to cross over at this year’s Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. Now I can’t let the man down can I?



My copy of ‘The Bad Book’ was signed by Andy at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in 2012 (For Katrina, the very bad teacher) and ‘The Very Bad Book’ was signed at this conference (For Aidan, the very bad son). I could go on and on about how bloody amazing this man is but I won’t. You should already know!

7) Catching up with people who I have connected with on Facebook


There were many people I chatted with who I follow on Facebook, but it was just beautiful to especially catch up with this talented one  – Tania McCartney.


8) Mixing with respected children’s authors and illustrators


Freya Blackwood, Katrina McKelvey, Libby Gleeson

Katrina McKelvey and Julie Vivas


Jackie French signing one of my favourite picture books, 'Queen Victoria's Underpants'

Lynn Jenkins, Kirrili Lonergan, Choechoe Brereton, Katrina McKelvey
I lined up for a long time across the weekend (often while eating my lunch with a knife and fork standing up) to see Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood, Julie Vivas, Glenda Millard, Stephen Michael King, Bronwyn Bancroft, Choechoe Brereton, Bob Graham, Barry Jonsberg, Michael Gerard Bauer, Jackie French and Andy Griffiths. I managed to get no less than 36 of my books signed (most of them I bought from home). Is that a record?

9) Being inspired by Jackie French


Jackie's passion for children’s literature is contagious, inspiring and overwhelming. No wonder she is the current Australian Children’s Laureate. My only regret is that I couldn’t go on the visit to her property on the Monday.


10) Taking some time out of my life as a busy mum, wife and volunteer to refocus and be reinspired to write my little heart out.


It was so luxurious to take a few uninterrupted deep breaths. Thank you to my beautiful family for helping me take some time out and be self-indulgent – even if it was only for a few days. I feel like a new person.


Quote of the conference for me: ‘You cannot be all things to all people, but you can do the impossible.’ Thanks Erica Wagner (Allen and Unwin publisher) for this reminder I needed to hear.