Like all good things in life, the writers’ conference started with the smell of coffee. I felt excited, and a bit nervous, walking into the CYA Conference rooms at Southbank, Brisbane. The heady smells and the sound of excited chatter were the perfect greeting. I didn’t know anyone, but I knew I’d be surrounded by people who held the same passion as me – to write for children and young adults.

That’s what CYA stands for, by the way, children and young adults. Participants came from all over the country and beyond to celebrate books and improve their craft. Check out the link: The people I met were fantastic – generous with their knowledge and enthusiasm, genuinely eager to support each other.

First prize, junior novel category. Yay!

First prize, junior novel category. Yay!

First prize 🙂

The conference runs a highly-regarded writing competition, with excellent feedback sheets. A few years ago I entered a story that placed third in the chapter books (junior novels) category. This year I entered a different story. I’m delighted to say I won first prize! It was such a thrill and a great confidence boost. I received many congratulatory hugs from the wonderful writers I met. Lucky, otherwise I think I would have floated away …

Master classes, workshops and presentations

The only problem I faced at the conference was picking which classes to attend. The range was comprehensive: from picture books, storyboarding, character creation, software tools, pitching a manuscript, and using social media. Participants were also able to submit their stories for one-on-one sessions with various editors and agents: a great way to by-pass the slush pile.

Me with Jackson Pearce!

Me with Jackson Pearce!

I attended Brian Falkner’s extended master class on writing for young adults. He showed us some lessons writers can learn from the Hunger Games trilogy: Jackson Pearce’s social media master class provided us with valuable information on this fast-moving area:

 CYA success stories

The day closed with a source of inspiration. A presentation by previous winners, now published authors, who link their success in some way to the CYA conference or competition. There are many of them – have a look:

Enthusiasm and confidence radiated out of them, infecting us all. The message was clear – if I can do it, you can too! I was buzzing all the way home. I could have flown to Sydney without the aeroplane. Days later, I’m still buzzing. Daydreaming about joining the CYA success story panel soon!

14 thoughts on “2013 CYA competition – YAY!!

  1. Congratulations on winning first prize! Impressive. Well done, I say!

    1. Stella says:

      Thank you! My head is still in the clouds, and I like it up here!

  2. Vasudha Chandra says:

    Congratulations!!! That is fantastic!

    1. Stella says:

      Thanks Vasudha! It’s great to hear from one of my former workshop students. And I know you’ve had a few writing comp wins too 🙂

  3. Congratulations, and thank you so much for attending – so glad to hear you had a great time!

    This is a great write up – thank you! Love hearing from people who had a nice time, or not so nice so we can improve if need be…but nice is good!

    I’m going to link to it from the CYA Conference FB page.

    Congrats again – well done on your competition placing – well deserved!

    CYA later!
    CYA Conference

    1. Stella says:

      Thanks, Tina, much appreciated. Everyone I spoke to was raving about what a great conference it was. CYA next year!

  4. msavins says:

    Love hearing about your successes!! Looking forward to red carpet and front row seats at your first movie premiere 😉

    1. Stella says:

      Horray! And a private invitation to meet the cast?

    2. S2 says:

      Can I come too? Congratulations!

      1. Stella says:

        Absolutely! Front and centre 🙂

  5. Steve says:


    1. Stella says:

      Thank you! 🙂

  6. Jill Sherrin says:

    Hi Stella, a quick note of Congratulations on your recent first prize win. I’m sure there are many more to follow!
    What an inspiration for us scribblers …. & dreamers! Jill

    1. Stella says:

      Thank you Jill! Scribbling and dreaming are the first steps!

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