Coffs Harbour Grassroots Writers’ Weekend

17 – 19 May 2019

Workshop Facilitators

Roby Aiken
Roby Aiken is the author of The Traders Series, an epic fantasy trilogy. She has written many short stories, and is currently working on a suspense thriller set in the Australian Outback. She has been a member of the Nambucca Valley Writers’ Group for twenty years, and is proudly their current President. 

Greg Barron

Crime, terrorism, history, international politics and the wide open spaces of outback Australia are all passionate interests of author Greg Barron. He has lived in North America, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. His books, published by HarperCollins Australia and Stories of Oz Publishing, are gutsy page turners that tell the truth about the world, then and now. Rotten Gods was long listed for the prestigious Ned Kelly awards, and has been lauded as "one of the most sophisticated geopolitical thrillers ever written." Savage Tide was described by ABC Radio reviewer Rob Minshull as: "Both supremely intelligent and written at breathtaking pace."

Camp Leichhardt is the first of his Australian Stories , and was serialised in 2016 to wide acclaim. Rotten Gods, Savage Tide, Voodoo Dawn and Lethal Sky all feature Marika Hartmann, the Australian intelligence agent who won the hearts of readers all over the world.

Elizabeth Bond
Elizabeth Bond is the copywriter behind Whirlybird Words, and she’s on a mission to grow innovative business in regional Australia, one word at a time.
As a self-confessed word nerd and marketing junkie, she enjoys crafting engaging, strategic and search-engine-optimisation (SEO)-friendly content that helps businesses genuinely connect with their ideal customers. 
She’s been writing professionally since 2003, and has qualifications in media, journalism, marketing and training. She lives on a property by the beach with her two dogs (office managers) in the spectacular Nambucca Valley, NSW.

Michael Burlace
Michael Burlace is a newspaper sub editor who is learning fiction writing as he goes. He teaches others to write, edit and rewrite so their work flows and draws the reader along. This method liberates writers from their pesky inner critic and allows them to drop habits that interfere with good writing.
His workshops are fun and full of useful tools and techniques for writing, editing, publishing and promoting works.

Laurel Cohn
Laurel Cohn is an editor passionate about the power of stories to communicate. As a developmental editor she has been helping writers since the 1980s prepare their work for publication. She spent five years with one of Australia’s top literary agents and four years as Consultant Editor to the NSW Writers’ Centre before turning freelance. She works with individual writers, publishers and self-publishers, and is a popular workshop presenter. She has a PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies.

Graeme Gibson
Graeme Gibson has a background in adult learning, principally in the environmental and   community services sectors. His approach to learning is that that people learn from and with each other, not just from a teacher. He also works as a group facilitator and mediator, getting close to people’s core concerns. Most of his writing is non-fiction with a focus on nature, community, politics and their intersection. He has published essays, contributed to and edited a number of short story collections, and self-published Beyond Fear and Loathing: Local politics at work. This account of local politics and community activism is based on personal experience.
Graeme has been presenting writing workshops, including life story and writing about place, since 2013. These have been mostly in regional areas – he likes to get around. Another interest is Little Literature, poetry or prose responding to or interpreting art, place or events, real or imagined. Graeme and his partner relocated to the NSW northern rivers in early 2016.

Leonie Harrison
Leonie writes mainly short stories and flash fiction across a range of genres with a number of publications to her credit. She has also had success in the competition sphere with several winning and highly recommended entries. Leonie enjoys sharing her love of writing and encouraging others to create their best work.   

Wendy Haynes
Wendy Haynes has been learning the craft of writing for over ten years and has completed a Diploma in Creative Writing at Southern Cross University. Her writing focuses on middle-grade fantasy and contemporary stories for children, picture books, and YA.
Her first picture book Hayden’s Bedtime was published in March 2019, and she is working on a children’s fantasy series, with Book One due out in August 2019.
She believes that having a regular writing practice, and understanding the device at your disposal, is the key to not only completing a story but in building the skills required to produce a worthy manuscript.
She was a judge for the Port Writer’s In-house competition for the creative non-fiction category in 2018, and one of the judges of the fiction category in 2019.
Wendy won first prize for her short story Going Nowhere, at Port Writers In-house competition 2018, and enjoys helping and motivating writers and has developed a mentorship program to help writers tell stories. Armed with a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, she conducts writing workshops on and offline through her business.
Being part of a writing community Wendy has volunteered for both roles of the President and Treasurer of Port Writers Inc., a not for profit local writing group, bringing writing workshops, presentations and writing exercises to the group.
You can find Wendy at

Leonie Henschke
Leonie Henschke is a freelance journalist and writer with a background in book publishing, newspapers and magazines.
She was Managing Editor of Angus & Robertson Publishers based in Sydney and London and worked closely with well-known Australian writers including Peter Carey, Frank Moorhouse and Michael Leunig.  Leonie also managed the extensive Australiana backlist that included works by Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, Miles Franklin, Thea Astley, C.J. Dennis, and Xavier Herbert.
She began her career as a feature writer, sub-editor and editor with Sir Frank Packer’s Australian Consolidated Press after a degree in English and politics from the University of Sydney. She was on the staff of a number of the company’s newspapers and magazines.
Following her time with Angus & Robertson Publishing, Leonie was Managing Director of UNE (University of New England) Partnerships, using her communication skills in the management of corporate education and training, both within Australia and overseas.
 Now living on the beautiful north coast she continues to write and undertake workshops for writers, manuscript assessments and guidance on publishing options. She is also active in the creative industries networking with local, state and federal governments for arts funding and support.

Yvonne Kachel
Yvonne Kachel worked in both community and government sectors across NSW, Tasmania and the ACT at an executive management level before retiring to Coffs Harbour over five years ago. Yvonne has an Honours degree in Sociology, a Diploma in Agency and TESOL and has travelled extensively, speaking at International Conferences about her work. It is Yvonne’s hobbies that have drawn her to writing. With two years at Newcastle University pursuing drama, acting on the stage, playing in television commercials and back up advertisements for cinema, Yvonne also featured in videos and scenarios for the Medical Faculty. Yvonne has taught children’s drama and written plays for children that have been performed at the Jetty Theatre in Coffs Harbour. She enjoys writing short stories, especially humourous stories with quirky ends, as well as travel stories. Yvonne has nearly completed her first serious novel and is currently putting together a travelogue of her travels encompassing countries as Africa, Europe, Great Britain, South East Asia, China and Scandinavia. Yvonne has been a member of the Coffs Harbour Writers’ Group for several years and has contributed to their Anthology and website with some of her stories as well as presenting workshops. Yvonne now contributes to Nambucca Writers’ Group and enjoys all writing challenges as Mad Monologues, Furious Fiction and the occasional nonfiction serious writing.

Wendy Laharnar
Wendy Laharnar grew up in the central west, NSW, graduated from UNE, Armidale, with a BA in English Lit., Classical Lit (in translation), and History, both modern and ancient. She writes historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Her medieval novel, The Unhewn Stone, won third prize in the 2013 International Digital Awards for best YA novel and short stories. Wendy lives on the South Coast of NSW with her husband and mini Schnauzer. When she is not writing, she creates with fabric and wool and enjoys travel and photography.

Fiona McDonald is an Australian illustrator, author, publisher and doll maker. Based in Armidale,NSW, she has had eleven books published internationally, including an illustrated graphic novel for children, Ghost Doll and Jasper, and a bestselling history of street art, The Popular History of Graffiti: From the Ancient World to the Present. Fiona is also the co-founder of the independent children’s publisher, Christmas Press, and its two imprints, Second Look and Eagle Books. Her most recent titles include illustrations for the acclaimed picture books Two Fearsome Fairy Tales from France (retold by award-winning British author Adele Geras) and Two Selkie Stories from Scotland (retold by popular Australian author Kate Forsyth), both books published by Christmas Press. She is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in Creative Practice at the University of New England where she is working on a novella featuring Jenny Wren, the dolls’ dressmaker, from Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend.

Lisa Milner
Lisa Milner is an academic, with a background of production in film, video, radio, theatre and writing. Based on the mid-north coast, she also works with local groups involved in producing a range of works. A member of the Nambucca Valley Writers’ Group, her books include Fighting Films: A History of the Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit and her recent biography of activist Freda Brown, Swimming against the Tide.

Desley Polmear
Desley was born in Brisbane, QLD. Growing up she always had an interest in writing and her teachers reported that she had a great imagination. She contributed to a local magazine on the Sunshine Coast, QLD and produced an inspirational verse book in the 1990s. She ran seminars in ‘mind, body and spirit’ on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.
Desley became involved in a writing group when she moved to South West Rocks, NSW in 2008 and began writing seriously. She published in anthologies in the mid-north coast area and then wrote her first trilogy. In 2014, her second book of the trilogy, ‘Just before Midnight’ had a review in the New York Times. She followed that up by writing about her life, titled, ‘My Early Years.’ She ran a successful workshop at Grassroots Port Macquarie, 2017.
Desley writes daily and is working on her next novel. She is a high-energy person whose interests cover the arts, musicals, writing and travel. She has fond memories of being in the production of many musicals, but the highlight was to be in the production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Les Miserables.’ For over eight years, she has been singing with ‘Sing Australia.’ She believes singing is good for the soul.

Penelope Pratley
Emerging Illustrator, writer and educator, Penelope Pratley spends her days creating wonder, one illustration at a time. Using watercolour, ink, pencil and mixed media her particular focus is creating picture books. She adores stories for children and owns far too many pencil cases. Penelope made her illustration debut in February 2018 with The Art Garden, published by EK Books, and is currently illustrating books to be published in 2019 and 2020. Living with a surfer, an inventor, a ballerina, three chickens, a rabbit, an ancient guinea pig, and a rescued cat, her heart is never short of inspiration. She only emerges from her garden studio to hunt for chocolate freckles, seek sunshine and take care of her beautiful family.

Carrolline Rhodes
Carrolline is a passionate and inspiriting tutor whose courses at Bellingen’s Camp Creative were booked out during the nine years she was a tutor there. Published in Australia the UK and Italy, she is a multi-award winning writer across a range of genres. Her workshops inspire and empower: they take students on a journey where the ultimate destination is the writer-self.

Gill Goater

Gill’s been involved in writing for many years. She’s especially interested in modern poetry and the breadth of human experiences poets write about. She facilitates a poetry group in Port Macquarie and is a member of a writers group where she presents occasional workshops. Gill’s work has been published in anthologies, magazines, on ABC regional radio and in her book Occupied by Gods.

Rosalie Skinner

Rosalie spent the first forty years of her life as an obsessive reader before taking up a quill and penning The Chronicles of Caleath. Fantasy and science fiction allowed her to weave life experience with imagination to create a world where her main character would fulfil his quest.
She spent much of her life raising three children while working as a professional portrait artist. She also spent years breeding Australian cattle dogs and children’s ponies. When her regional library failed to keep pace with her appetite for new books, she began to write.
Writing became an obsession while watching her teenage daughter cope with chronic disease. There is a theme running through the series that reflects the courage and despair experienced as her daughter’s potential for a successful future evaporated. Watching her daughter’s courage in the face of adversity inspired Caleath’s story.
Rosalie can be contacted through Rosalie Skinner or her blog Ramblings from Lady Rosalie

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