Leanne Barrett: Poetry, Pictures and Polishing with SCBWI ACT & Surrounds

Monday 8 April 2019

Poetry, Pictures and Polishing with SCBWI ACT & Surrounds

I love to spend time with my creative friends catching up and learning from each other, this workshop provided both.

  • Had lunch with a few illustrators: Suzy Houghton, Amie Sabdin and Irene Tan
  • Chatted with friends I hadn't seen for awhile
  • Became reacquainted with Lisa Kalma
  • Learnt some great tips from the presenters
  • Had fun and lots of it
The day started on a low note as we said thank you one our favourite bookstore people, James Redden aka Jimmy. I first met James in early 2015 when I organised Harry Hartog to provide books to sell at a CBCA ACT Branch event. This turned into a wonderful relationship between James and CBCA ACT Branch and their members for many many years. James was a great supporter of our local authors, both published using mainstream publishing and self-published books. There are so many wonderful memories in H.H store with James as we celebrated many book birthdays and window launches. This support then later naturally extended to supporting SCBWI ACT and Surrounds. We will have a fondness in our heart for James, our champion and smiling friend. You are indeed, James the Great! And one day we hope that we can support you in your next endeavour, what ever that may be. 

The Workshops were presented by;
A full report of Poetry, Pictures and Polishing by Cate Whittle is available on the SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand Blog. My blog will highlight my 'ah ha' moments.

Harry Laing
  • Write rhymes that play with sounds of words.
  • Children enjoy the subversive content.
  • Surprise and challenge yourself.
Let me say from the outset that I don't write in rhyme and one of the activities was to write a poem using the repetition of consonants: s, sp, f, fl, ch, w, k. This is my unedited attempt. 


Slip and slide.
the chunkies,
slither and float,
up my throat. 
Hope it won't last.
As I chuck my lunch, 

Thanks Harry your wonderful session of laughs as we listened to you preform your poems. 

Harry's new book Moon Fish is published by Ford Street Publishing. 

Danielle McDonald
  • Decorate vs Communicate.
  • Play with the rules of body proportions to change the ages of your characters.
  • Avoid symmetry in the body even the eyes. 
  • Learn life drawing skills so you can draw the hard things; eyes, hands.
  • Body language should engage the readers.
  • Clothing can be fun, shows the personality of a character.
  • Be aware of perfectionism.
  • Finding ways to draw quickly is okay.
Thanks for sharing your world of Ella and Olivia and your previous life as a product designer. Now I'm off to practise my drawing of people with no hands in their pockets or behind their backs. 

Shelly Unwin
  • What's your point of difference?
  • Start your story in the right place.
  • Use genuine up to date language - don't use old words to create rhyme.
  • Get the worst reader you know to read your picture book out loud. Then you can see where the clunky parts are.
  • Get your work edited.
  • Find the doors that are ajar when trying to get published.
  • Network, attend conferences, follow podcasts and groups, and enter competitions.

Final thoughts.


Leanne, Sandra and Cate

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