Award-winning WA writer for young adults

Turbo-charge your narrative skills with one of the best.

Amanda (AJ) Betts is one of Australia’s best young writers for young adults, and she’s going to be in Sydney from Western Australia for a couple of days only. She’s promoting her new book Rogue, but has also agreed to present a writing masterclass for WestWords for senior secondary students and adults!

Amanda will be offering the experience she has gained from writing five award-winning YA books, including Zac and Mia, which won the Text Prize and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, and was made into a US TV series of the same name. Amanda is a popular and engaging teacher and presenter, and you’ll leave with a much deeper insight into how and why you write!

This masterclass is especially relevant for HSC writing students but also for writers 18+.

Where: Dennis Johnson Library Stanhope Gardens
When: Tuesday 6 August 2019, 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $33
Suitable for senior secondary students and adults

call 0410 588 201

Congratulations to Christina Huynh!


 Christina will be spending a week in November at Pinerolo as Illustrator in residence. She will be mentored by THE Margaret Hamilton during this week.

Christina Huynh

Christina Huynh is a visual artist and illustrator based in Western Sydney that paints under the name ‘Styna’. She began creating illustrations while completing her Bachelor of Design in 2011 at the Western Sydney University. Christina’s work is inspired by travels to faraway places, both new and old, one’s heritage and story telling.  From using traditional mediums of watercolour, ink and pen to aerosol and acrylic; her art practice explores creating murals, illustration, typography and book making.



Hemingway’s Polydactyl Kitten Club and Speakeasy

Join us on the first Monday of the month for Hemingway’s Polydactyl Kitten Club & Speakeasy, a spoken word event held in the intimate art-deco setting of the Avalon Cocktail Bar, Katoomba.

Next event:

Our next event is at 7pm on Monday 7 October, with Steven Herrick as our special guest. Door prizes, floor spots, great drinks, wonderful vibe. This is such a welcoming crowd, so if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of reading your work publicly but never found the courage, this is your chance! On behalf of Ernest, we hope to see you there!

Steven Herrick is an Australian author who writes poetry and verse-novels for children, young adults, and adults, as well as travel memoirs based on his many cycling trips around the world. He has performed his work in schools and at festivals all over the country and overseas. His books have won and been shortlisted for countless major awards both here and internationally. This is a rare opportunity to see Steven in his natural habitat – behind a microphone, turning the everyday into engaging, moving, and oftentimes hilarious observation. He might even take some questions, especially if they’re about cycling or soccer!

When: 7.00 – 9.00, Monday 7 October
Where: Avalon, 18 Katoomba St, Katoomba.
Cost: Cash entry of $10 ($5 concession).
Guest feature:  Steven Herrick

For more information contact James on 0410 588 201, or

The launch of Hemingway’s Polydactyl Kitten Club was fantastic! Thank you to everyone who came and a special thanks to Kate Fagan for being a splendid guest feature and to the Avalon Restaurant, Katoomba for being a great encouraging venue!

See you next month.


In Partnership with Avalon Restaurant Katoomba.

Would you like to be involved in writing poetry, prose, rap or stories to help shape a major public art project by critically acclaimed visual artist Tina Havelock Stevens to take place at Bella Vista Station?

On 10 and 14 August, WestWords is presenting two writing workshops with Tina Havelock Stevens and author and artist Vanessa Berry.

Tina and Vanessa will look to gather short pieces and poems that speak to experiences from those that live in the Bella Vista and surrounding communities. Who they are, what they do, what they are interested in, what it’s like to live in the area, and what their dreams and aspirations are.

The resulting texts will be used for banners that will be displayed at an art performance event to take place at the new Bella Vista Metro Station on November 30.

The workshops are aimed for adults and teenagers.

When: Saturday 10 August 2pm – 4pm and Wednesday 14 August 7pm – 9pm
Where: Bella Vista Village Green Community Centre
Cost: FREE

Reserve your place now! Email with the subject ‘Bella Vista’.

Picture: Wendy Murray


West Side Poetry Slam!


An open mic night on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. Sign up on the night and perform/read an original piece of writing to open minds, hearts, and arms. Random audience members score just for the fun of it and you could win a support feature slot at the next slam. Other performance art forms are also welcome. Anything can be poetry.


Wednesday 18th September. Sign up at 6:30pm. Start at 7pm.
 WestWords Centre for Writing, 91B Grose St, North Parramatta.
$10 entry fee for adults and $5 for concession/students. Pay at event.
Aishah Ali + Liam Smith (July winner) as support feature


WestWords-Varuna Residency

WestWords and Varuna have once again partnered for the WestWords-Varuna Residential Program offering four emerging writers from diverse backgrounds from Western Sydney the opportunity of a six-day residency at Varuna, The Writers’ House in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Joining them will be a live-in mentor who will be chosen in response to the successful candidates so that the mentorship offered is tailored to the people and their work.

The residency will run from 21st – 27th  October and is limited to only four participants and will include:

  • a mix of mentorship, private writing time as well as social time for unstructured conversation
  • One-on-one mentorship/consultation
  • Six nights’ accommodation at Varuna including meals

The residency is intended for the development of a current project where a significant amount of work has been completed. Prior to taking up the residency successful applicants were required to submit the manuscript they intend working on. This is for the purposes of tailoring the mentorship to your needs.

Key dates
Applications will open 1 July, 2019 and close midnight 9 August, 2019

What WestWords is looking for

The fellowships will be awarded to emerging writers of any genre who display exceptional promise in their writing style and the premise of the work. WestWords welcomes manuscripts from writers working in all creative forms, including fiction, drama, poetry, children’s books, and narrative non-fiction.


There are no application fees or program fees associated with this program.

Click here for application form and to submit.


Presented in partnership with Varuna, The Writers’ House

2018 was a wonderfully successful year for WestWords. Much was achieved. Every day we saw the power of literature change lives. WestWords would like to extend a huge thank you to all our authors, poets, illustrators, artists, schools and partnering organisations who have made these events possible, and more importantly to all of the young and emerging writers who have taken part in any of our workshops, writers’ groups, seminars and events – and shared your work with us. We would also like to extend our deepest thanks to our funding partners and the companies, groups and individuals. Your support makes possible what we do for the people we serve.

Read about it in the 2018 Annual Review


Click here to submit your entry


Competition guidelines and criteria
Welcome to the Mayoral Creative Writing Prize 2019. It is open to adults and children (aged 8 to 17 years) who live in Blacktown city. The poems and short stories must be works of fiction. Entries close midnight, Sunday 29 September 2019.

All entries can be either poetry or short stories. They will be judged in the following age categories, 8 – 11 years, 12 – 14 years, 15 – 17 years and adult (18+).

Language. Place. Story. You should weave stories of language and/or place into your short story or poem.

Your work will be judged on how original it is, how you have constructed your story or poem, the use of language, (including creative expression, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and spelling) and the way you have developed characters, atmosphere, or setting or used words in a creative way.

It is critical that this work is original and not copied in any way. Copied work will be disqualified. An independent judging panel will assess all submissions.
For more information, please contact WestWords: Western Sydney’s Literature Development Organisation, on 8677 4815 or by email:


The total prize pool is $1,600. Winners aged 17 or younger will receive $100 and their school, if located in Blacktown City, will receive a corresponding $100 as an incentive to encourage the budding authors of our local area. Adult winners will receive $200.

Age Categories Prize School prize
8 -11 years Poetry $100 $100
Short Story $100 $100
12-14 years Poetry $100 $100
Short Story $100 $100
15-17 years Poetry $100 $100
Short Story $100 $100
Adult Poetry $200  –
Short Story $200  –


Announcement of the prize winners

The presentation ceremony will take place on Thursday 5 December 2019, at 6 pm. All winners and Highly Commended recipients will be invited to attend.


Submission criteria

  1. The work must be original and completed in the last 6 months.
    Entries can be either:

    • poem, maximum of 25 lines
    • short story, maximum of 500 words.
  2. Only one entry per person is permitted in each category.
  3. Each entry must have one entry per online form.
  4. Members of staff, members of Council, their partners and members of their immediate families are ineligible to enter this competition.
  5. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  6. All participants will receive a letter acknowledging the receipt of their entry and their participation.
  7. Submit entries with a completed entry form online.

Entries close midnight, Sunday 29 September 2019.


School Holiday Workshop with Oliver Phommavanh and Nat Amoore

These school holidays your kids can exercise their writing muscles at a writing workshop with Oliver Phommavanh and Nat Amoore! Two authors in one, now that’s a treat!

When: 12th July, 10am-3pm
Where: 91b Grose St, North Parramatta NSW 2151.
Cost: $50


10am-12:15pm incl. 15min break:
Oliver will be facilitating the first half of the workshop

½ hr Lunch break

12:45-3pm incl. 15min break:
Nat will be facilitating the second half.

Oliver Phommavanh

Oliver Phommavanh loves to make people laugh, whether it’s on the page writing humour for kids or on stage as a stand-up comedian. He also shares his passion for writing with kids, using his experience as a primary school teacher. Oliver has performed at various comedy and writers festivals around Australia and Asia. Oliver’s recent books include Don’t Follow Vee and Natural Born Loser, and he is best known for Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd and The Other Christy.

Nat Amoore

Nat Amoore is a Sydney-based writer who is passionate about encouraging kids to read and write and explore their imagination without boundaries. Her first middle grade novel ‘Secrets Of A Schoolyard Millionaire‘ is out now with Penguin Random House.

Reserve your place now! Email with the subject ‘holiday workshop’.


Kids Holiday Illustration Workshop with Liz Anelli

Liz Anelli is a collector, artist and writer. She loves nothing more than finding ideas that she can turn into works of art. In this fun, engaging and inspiring holiday workshop she will show you how she does it, and will help you do it too!


When: Tuesday 9 July, 10am-4pm
Where: Blacktown Arts Centre
Cost: $22
Book: Email

Blue Mountains

Holiday Writing Workshop with Deborah Abela

Deborah Abela is one of Australia’s most popular children’s writers, with multiple award-winning books to her name. Her workshops are fun and informative and will leave you full of creativity and amazing ideas.




When: Wed July 10, 10am-4pm

Where: MCRN, Meeting Room Lawson Library Building
Cnr, Loftus St/ San Jose Ave Lawson, NSW
Ages 9-13
Cost: $22
Email to book!

Sunday Afternoon Creative Writing with Sarah Ayoub

There are no secrets, no cheats, maps or recipes to guide our development as creative writers. Creative writing, in all its forms, is a lived artistic practice – a kind of hero’s journey – and it is only through living it fully and faithfully that we can address the trappings of our path to progress. Dead sentences take root in our keyboards, clichés cling to our fingertips, and the riches of our imaginations seem always just beyond grammatical reach. WestWords invites you to join author and journalist Sarah Ayoub, author of Hate is Such a Strong Word and The Year Book Committee for three weeks learning the art of creative writing. Bring your WIP or start from scratch, and workshop through characterisation, dialogue and setting to make your writing sing.

When: 2-4:30pm, 30 June(passed)/7 July/14 July
Cost: $135 (3 x 2.5hr sessions)
Send EOIs to

Sarah Ayoub

Sarah Ayoub is a  freelance journalist and author based in Sydney, Australia.

Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Marie-Claire, ELLE, Sunday Life, Girlfriend, Cosmopolitan, House & Garden, Sunday Style, Yen, CLEO and more, and she has spoken at numerous industry events including the Sydney Writer’s Festival, Emerging Writer’s Festival, Children’s and Young Adult’s Writer’s Festival, Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference and more.

Her novels Hate is Such a Strong Word and The Yearbook Committee are contemporary stories of identity, belonging and discovery. She regularly speaks at schools and writer’s festivals about identity and self-worth in YA fiction, and is passionate about empowering young people to see the value in their own personal stories.

Sarah has a Master of Media Practice from Sydney University and teaches Journalism at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, where she is currently a PhD candidate exploring the representations of migrant girls in Australian YA literature.

Sarah decided to pursue a career in journalism at the age of ten after realising that, like Lois Lane and Vicky Vale, it was always the reporter that got the superhero. She loves purses, pastries and Paris, and welcomes a cure of any sort to her substance abuse problems.