Byron Bay Writer’s Festival

It was all hands on deck on opening day, Friday the 5th of August as Co-Chair of the #Byronwf2016 Jennifer St George directed traffic into the car park. After pumping water from the site for 36 hours and battling rain and high winds bringing marquees down, the festival opened to the sell out crowd.

2016 Top Tips for #Byronwf2016

Parking Clothing Crowds 

Parking is $5 Get in early to avoid delays. Be conscious of how you park. Be aware of where you park. There are lane numbers at the entrance to each row, take note either as you drive in or as you walk out. Your car may be easy to spot when you park it, finding it in a sea of metal later is a different matter.

Gumboots. The ground is wet, some of it is under water, with the crowds there is a lot of mud and slippery surfaces. Don’t get caught out with nice shoes and have to put plastic bags on your feet (great idea) Wear water proof boots with grip if possible.

Winds. The site is open to winds, layering is essential as the indoor venues can be warm. Jacket, scarf.

Poncho. Be crowd friendly don’t bring an umbrella instead opt for a plastic poncho that has the benefit of being easy to carry when not in use, covers your bag and books when rain is sideways and pokes no ones eyes out.

Crowds. Byron Bay Writer’s Festival is world class for writers and readers, it understandably attracts large crowds. Friday and Saturday’s tickets are sold out and there aren’t many tickets available for Sunday. If you are unable to obtain a seat for a session, you will be able to hear from the periphery. If you have a must see, sometimes sitting through the session before is advisable to ensure a seat. Please remember that aisles must be kept clear to provide fire exits.

Questions. Please be mindful that everyone in the audience must listen. Ask your question efficiently. Your bio, history and love for the speakers and when you met them previously is 9/10 not relevant to anyone else in the audience.

Essentials for #Byronwf2016

Gumboots & Poncho

Drink bottle. This is a no plastic water bottle site. You can refill your drink bottle at water stations.

Plastic bag to sit on if seats wet. Bring a face washer or towel to wipe seats and keep in plastic bag between sessions.

Program and Map Both available at the box office on entry.

Pen and paper. There’s too many great quotes and information not to have one or you can tweet it

Social Media Facebook and Instagram @byronwritersfestival, Twitter @bbwritersfest, #byronwf2016 We can’t as individuals be everywhere at once, so let’s keep each other informed with those gems by sharing them on social media.

Emerging author, Polly Jude and Kelly from the @ByronatByron enjoyed the sculptures placed around the festival sight. 


Blue Sky- Rainbows- Books 

Plan your own festival program from the world class line up. Be flexible and adapt to program changes and be open to new experiences, they could exceed your expectations.



The art of storytelling has existed since humans first scratched messages in the sand with sticks. From paintings on walls or camp-fire corroborees, to a travelling sage bringing news of battle, humans have always sought out stories as a way to make sense of life, writes Liss Caldwell.

Franz Kafka once wrote: “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”  Words have always had the power to unite or divide – and in the past few weeks Queensland has had more than its fair share of words whipping around the state.

Read more


Limbo Confirms Pro-Creative Clutter

I am in a state of flux. In between houses and many other things. Trying to climb mountains that I assessed as mole hills. My creativity when I need it to breathe, has been stifled. One thing that is true of my life is that chaos or entropy is constantly increasing. I create in clutter. I am a visual person. I like to see everything all at once, my mind maps, plotting, structure, character boards etc. Being an empty-nester I now have no reservation, in fact I don’t know that I had much prior to being an empty-nester, but now, I have no reservation in writing across my double glass sliding doors with multi-colour glass pens to visually plot out my manuscript. That was until four weeks ago…

On Mother’s Day, my son confirmed my suspicions, “this is the one.” I had doubts. I own a lot of books that lovingly clutter my house. I had found my dream property but there wasn’t enough room for my books. So, after finding solutions including building a new library/ writing room and two storey book tower (like the one where I discovered, North and South, in Umbria, I was convinced.) I know this place has magic.

The Real Estate’s first command to sell my house was “get rid of all the books.” The books, now boxed fill a 3 x 5m floor to ceiling storage container. The removalist informed me that is usually the storage size needed for the furniture of a normal three-bedroom house. The change felt good. I cleaned the windows of my visual creative genius. I uncluttered my house. The vision boards of novels, characters and memos all went into storage. The house listing went up, with the photos being a testament of a minimalist house.

“Looks great,” “why would you leave?” “wow, your dream house must be amazing to leave this house on the coast.” My coastal home in the trees. Problem is, in this house on display, I can’t work. It isn’t my home. I can’t find anything and I am terrified of making a mess. It is an alien environment, free from books. I can’t think. It is a black hole sterile of creativity. An environment where all lines are defined.

This minimal and clear space is not conducive to creativity for me. I know there are successful movements for de-cluttering but I need clutter as a comforting reminder that I am allowed to make mistakes. I have permission to let go of regiment and confines.

My high school art teacher, Jamie Henderson, always told me that there is no such thing as mistakes. A mistake can be the beginning of a masterpiece, an opportunity, something the rules and your mind may not have thought of. If your house is perfection and everything kept within the guidelines, where is the Tardis for the creativity that flows and challenges and dances outside the lines?

I never had an ordered room growing up, I never coloured between the lines. Whilst at uni training to be a teacher, a lecturer  announced, “there’s always one” and tisked before turning away from me. I had been asked to stand in the middle of a circle, to touch his hand without moving from the inner circle around my feet. The lecturer stood on the outside of the circle. He was so sure I would not be able to touch his hand, he looked away. Being a kick boxing student, I touched his hand with a controlled movement of my right leg whilst remaining balanced and stationary on my left leg. “There’s always one” he said, shaking his head. The shame for thinking outside the ordinary descended. Well, no more.

As what seems to be the universe embraces de-cluttering, I am going to be the one who embraces cluttering for the sake of creativity. I am not saying be dirty. Owning numerous books is not hording. It is building a library. Honoring your creative process cannot be bad. Mine just comes from a place of sprawl where writer dinners like avocado or sardines on toast, or… I can’t believe I’m admitting this but …. turns my stomach to think of it…tin spaghetti out of the can, with a spoon because there were no clean forks, because you are on a creative whirl-wind roll and there is no time to stop for dishes or cooking. Ok, so I have done it and will probably if needed do it again. It is not the norm for me. Given the choice when I am in creative flow to clean or create??? I am choosing the muse.

So whilst the world de-clutters. I say embrace your creative process. As long as it is effective for you who cares? I had so many woulda, shoulda, couldas previously, thinking that “if I was more organised or de-cluttered” my writing would be more productive. Having created in chaos, surrounded by clutter, where I can see everything at a glance and enter my void, I know, I am most productive. Now, living in this minimalistic display house, I know it is not me. I cannot breathe to create without creative clutter. I can’t find anything and I find myself completely disheveled and disorganized.

Whether you are a clutter creative or a de-clutter creative, embrace it because there is no right or wrong. I don’t go to the extremes of Margaret Olley but I’m still creating. Clutter doesn’t mean dirty. It doesn’t mean disorganized. It just means different. Different. Different to… sterile creativity for me. I’m choosing clutter and like Miss Piggy in mud I am going to revel in it.

In my clutter, I’ve written children’s series, curriculum for adults, outlined a series of six adult novels and written the first due out September 1st, outlined the series of thirteen YA and written the first three due out in November, planned the Byron Bay Writers’ Symposium for April 2017 and continued freelancing as a Structural Editor and Mentor to writers becoming authors. All in all, I think it’s more important to know what works best for you in regards to efficiency and productivity.

I knew what worked best for me but let doubt creep in because society on mass said I should de-clutter. Note to self: No one knows the truth but you, no one knows what is best for you but you. I’m forty and still reminding myself of something I knew when I was sixteen. If like me, you work best in creative clutter, there is no shame in it, instead let’s celebrate it. Margaret Olley was a creative genius and lived in clutter because her art came first. I’m not saying deliberately go to her extreme, just know what works for you and embrace it without justification or judgement.

Quirks & All

Nothing held back. First confession…I am  more of a circle than a square. I am looking forward to including new and previously published articles and interviews for writers, book reviews for readers, innovative and inspirational musings on life and my misadventures.  My son has diagnosed me with Ditzaphrenia. He coined the term to describe someone who suffers from ditzy accidents daily and repels technology. Laughter assured.

I have been story telling since before I could write. I was lucky enough to have Bryce Courtenay as my first creative writing teacher when I was in primary school. I still follow his advice. I am an author of short fiction, stories for children, YA and NA fiction and equestrian, sport psychology, business non fiction and personal development works.

I started working as an editor twenty years ago and have edited a number of magazines. I currently work as a substantive/structural editor assessing and reviewing manuscripts.

I have a background as an equestrian and personal development coach, primary/literature teacher and in business, PR and marketing management. I combined this with my Sport Psychology education to mentor other coaches, taking them from where they are to where they want to be and propelling their goals into accomplishments. I currently focus in mentoring other writers to master their craft, stay motivated and become authors.

I am passionate about creativity. I am an animal rights and environmental advocate. I reside in the Northern Rivers of NSW with a large menagerie.

If you are open to celebrating creativity, the good, the hairpin turns and hysterical, let’s connect and share Quirks & All.

Create – Life – Love – Laughter

Liss xx