Local Word Writers Festival 

Hold the Date: Friday 23 and Saturday 24 August, 2024

Expressions of Interest Now Open:

We are currently programming for our 2024 festival and we'd love to hear from you!

Are you a local writer or creative? Do you have a workshop you would love to present or a creative skill you’d like to share? Or maybe you're a local author with a book you'll be releasing this year?

The Festival will take place across two days on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 August, at Geelong Library & Heritage Centre and other Geelong Regional Library branches across the region.

Submissions are invited from authors, illustrators, publishers and creatives living and/or working within the G21 region including City of Greater Geelong, Borough of Queenscliffe, Golden Plains Shire, Surf Coast Shire and Colac Otway Shire.

Please complete this online application form with as much detail as possible. Applications close at 12 midnight AEST on Monday 1 April, 2024.

{If you would prefer another format, please use this Microsoft Word form that you can edit and save, or this pdf version that you can download, complete by hand and scan. Please email these forms to caz.copic@grlc.vic.gov.au}

About the Festival:

The Local Word brings our diverse local writing communities together through workshops, panel discussions, authors in-conversation and literary-themed social events.

It's a hyper-local festival designed to celebrate and showcase the amazing creative and literary talent of Victoria’s south-west region – from Geelong, the Bellarine, Colac and the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Cape Otway.

For established and emerging writers, and appealing to readers and book lovers generally, the festival includes topics and books from fiction and non-fiction genres and includes storytellers of all kinds.

This is a two-day event with workshops at Libraries across the region, followed by a full day program of panel discussions and author talks at Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, supported by book sales and signings.

Dates of previous festivals:

2023 - Friday 25 and Saturday 26 August 2023 

2022 - Friday 18 and Saturday 19 November 2022

Watch #LocalWord23 online

You can now view recorded sessions from Local Word 23 on YouTube. Re-live the discussions, or share them with your family and friends .

Local Word prizes

As part of the Local Word Writers Festival, each year we offer two writing prizes. Find out about more for each:

2023 Program

Meet the presenters (2023)


Kgshak Akec is a South-Sudanese writer, performing artist, storyteller, and a lover of words living and working on Wadawurrung Country. Since the moment she learned how to write in English at the age of six, Kgshak has been writing out the stories that live inside her mind. As a migrant and non-native English speaker, Kgshak is fascinated by the unspoken words and unsung songs of the day-to-day, she finds herself drawn to stories that challenge perception and go against the grain of the expected while also being grounded in truth. Her debut novel Hopeless Kingdom (UWAP/2023) is shortlisted for the 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award and winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.



John Bartlett is the author of ten books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including The Arms of Men (Melbourne Poets Union/2019) and Awake at 3am (Ginninderra Press/2020). He was the winner of the 2020 Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and Highly Commended in the 2021 Mundaring Poetry Competition



Samantha-Ellen Bound (Seven Wherewithal Way, Affirm Press/2021) is a writer, children’s author, and podcast host. She has many years’ experience working with books and publishing and she hosts and produces KidLit Classics, a podcast that celebrates classic children’s literature.



Kelly Caldwell is a primary school teacher at Queenscliff Primary School teaching First Nations Studies. Seeing a need for children to learn First Nations Languages in schools, she and Ben Shaw came together with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners to write and record 5 songs and stories to teach people Wadawurrung language. These lyrics, chords and songs are available in their book Songtimes on Wadawurrung Country.



Jacqui Connor is a writer, performer and teacher with over 40 years of experience in theatre. She is a member of The Main Street Writers, a Portarlington writing group, as well as Dome Poets, a part of Geelong Writers Inc.



Rhett Davis is the author of Hovering (Hachette/2022), which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2020 and was shortlisted for the Readings New Australian Fiction Prize in 2022 and the Aurealis Award for Science Fiction in 2023. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a PhD from Deakin University. Rhett has lived in several places but always finds his way back to Geelong, on Wadawurrung country, where he lives with his partner and two talkative cats.



Gregory Day is a writer and musician living on Wadawurrung tabayl in the Eastern Otways region of Victoria, Australia. Gregory has published six novels to date and has won many awards, including the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. In 2019 Gregory’s novel A Sand Archive (Pan Macmillan/2018) was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2020 Gregory received the Patrick White Award for his ongoing body of work and in 2021 he received the Nature Conservancy Australia Nature Writing Prize.



Corrina Eccles Corrina Eccles is a proud Wadawurrung woman living and working on Wadawurrung Country in Djilang/Geelong. Corrina is Manager – Cultural Education for the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (WTOAC) who are the Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.  The Corporation actively seeks to protect and conserve Wadawurrung living cultural heritage, including through planning and design initiatives.



Kat Fox is a Brit-born children's book illustrator and art educator extraordinaire now residing on the Surf Coast Victoria. Kat's illustrations are cartoonish, bright and expressive. She is all about slapstick and whimsy. Kat has her work published in many books from traditional publishers to self-publishing authors.She focuses on picture books through junior fiction. Kat loves to bring a smile & a giggle through colour and line.



Harriet Gaffney is an award winning writer, scholar and arts administrator. She has an MA in Creative Writing and is currently working on a novel for her PhD.  She freelances as a literary professional for festivals and organisations in Australia and beyond. 



Heather Gallagher is a children’s author and freelance journalist. She is passionate about children’s literacy and has worked as a writer-in-residence for Ardoch. Her picture book Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so Sad? (Wombat Books/2014) was a recommended title in the Australian Family Therapist’s awards. Her latest picture book Scaredy Cat (New Frontier Publishing/2018) is based on her anxious dog, Pip



Louis Glazzard was born and raised working class in Yorkshire, England. Untitled: Voices, Polari Press, Queerlings, and more have published Louis' writing. In 2021, Louis received an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant, where he ran poetry workshops with various organisations, including the NHS and the LGBT Foundation. Louis is Geelong Regional Libraries' Virtual Writer in Residence.



S.D. Hinton was born in Melbourne and worked in the public health system before moving into health education. She has travelled extensively and unconventionally, from hitchhiking around New Zealand at eighteen, sailing across three Oceans and three Seas, to living in Istanbul writing and learning Turkish. She now writes full time, having overcome a lifetime struggle with dyslexia.



Dorothy Johnston was born in Geelong and now lives in Ocean Grove. Dorothy is the author of thirteen novels and is currently working on a sea-change mystery series set in Queenscliff. Dorothy is the author of a quartet of crime novels set in Canberra, where she lived for many years. Two of Dorothy’s literary novels, One for the Master (Wakefield Press/1997) and Ruth (Hale & Iremonger/1986), have been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award. One for the Master has recently been re-published as part of the Untapped Project.  Dorothy has published many short stories in journals and anthologies, along with essays in Australia’s major newspapers and journals



Jo Langdon is a poet and fiction writer based on Wadawurrung land in Geelong/Djillong. Her two poetry collections are Glass Life (Five Islands Press/2018), and a chapbook, Snowline (Whitmore Press/2012) which was co-winner of the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize.



Rich Larsen lives on the Bellarine Peninsula and works in research ethics at a local hospital. He is also studying a PhD in public health at La Trobe University. Outside of work, he loves to pursue his passions of cycling, surfing, running and hiking…and of course, writing!  His debut novel, The Silent Society, was published in May 2023 with Shawline Publishing. He also has short stories published in Greatest City Diary, Poet’s Choice, and Free Spirit.



Sue Lawson is an award-winning author who writes books that challenge and delight. Sue worked in radio, with both ABC and commercial stations, and as a primary teacher. Her most recent picture books include The Biscuit Maker (Walker Books/2020), illustrated by Liz Anelli, Respect, Sharing and Family (Magabala Books/2020-21), co written with Boonwurrung Elder, Aunty Fay Muir.




Sally Learey is the author of 8 books including children’s picture books that are a combination of fact and fiction; books about food allergies in children; and location books which connect children with community. Her latest, non-fiction, adult personal development book is called Overcoming Problems (Sandcastle Press/2020).



Tom Molyneux is a Gunditjmara theatre actor, director and playwright based on Wadawurrung Country in Geelong, Australia.  Tom has an extensive history of work in successful independent and touring theatre productions, including as an actor, writer and director in 'Stardust + The Mission', which extensively toured regional Victoria in 2019 to great acclaim and subsequently toured to over 35 venues nationally around Australia in 2022. He received a 2023 Green Room Award as Best Performer (Independent Theatre) for his performance in The Mission.



Liz Monument (The Eternity Fund, Fahrenheit Press/2016) is a novelist, fiction editor and writing coach based in Geelong. She works hand-in-hand with selected international fiction agencies to accelerate the submission process for writers of talent.



Shivaun Plozza is an award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her debut novel, Frankie (Penguin/2016), was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year (older readers), Highly Commended at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and won the Davitt Award for Best YA Crime Novel.



Ben Shaw is a permaculturist, songwriter & musician.  He is passionate about creating connections and resilience in communities and growing food in the urban environment. He has established a permaculture design and consultancy business, assisting the local community and organisations to implement regenerative change, including the establishment of Farm My School.



An adventurer at heart, Alli Sinclair is a best-selling and multiple award-winning author. Her book, Burning Fields (Mira/2018), was #13 on the Top 100 Books of all-time. Her books have been translated into many languages and they explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery. Her latest book, The Codebreakers (Mira/2021), is about the codebreaking women who worked for Australia’s top-secret intelligence agency in WWII and is being made into a feature film.



Maria Takolander is the author of four books of poetry: Trigger Warning (UQP/2021), which won a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award; The End of the World (Giramondo/2014), named a best book of the year in Australian Book Review and reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books; Ghostly Subjects (Salt/2009), shortlisted for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award; and the chapbook Narcissism (Whitmore Press/2005). Her poems were selected for The Best Australian Poems and/or The Best Australian Poetry every year from 2005 until those anthologies ceased publication. Maria is also a prize-winning fiction writer and the author of The Double (and Other Stories) (Text/2013), which was short-listed for a Melbourne Prize for Literature




Jayne Tuttle is the author of Paris or Die (Hardie Grant/2019 and My Sweet Guillotine (Hardie Grant/2022). A graduate of Melbourne University, the National Theatre Drama School and the Jacques Lecoq Theatre School in Paris, she has worked internationally as a playwright, copywriter and translator. In 2021, she and fellow Lecoq graduate John Bolton developed Paris or Die into a solo theatre show, which has toured regional and urban venues including La Mama. The show is set to tour to France in 2023/24. Jayne co-owns The Bookshop at Queenscliff.



Laura Waters is a Geelong-based travel writer and author whose work has appeared in publications such as Escape, Explore, Australian Traveller, NZ Herald and Australian Geographic. She is the author of Ultimate Walks & Hikes Australia (Hardie Grant/2022) and Bewildered (Affirm Press/2019), winner of Best Travel Book at the 2021 ASTW Awards for Excellence.


Visit our What's On page for a full listing of all Local Word sessions

    Festival bookseller

    The Book Bird

    We are pleased to partner with The Book Bird the exclusive bookseller for the Local Word Writers Festival

    The Book Bird is a small, independent bookshop that prides itself on matching readers with books they love. Their eclectic range of books spans children’s, young adult, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, gardening, travel, art, architecture and cooking. They stock the books you see reviewed in the national papers and the books you’ve never heard of, but, when placed in your hands, just may change your life. No, seriously, this has been known to happen.

    Visit The Book Bird online or in-store to pre-order books for your event.

    Address: Shop 1 Pakington Village, 111 Pakington Street, Geelong West, 3218
    Phone: (03) 5224 1438
    Email: info@thebookbird.com.au

    Accessibility, changes, refunds and photography


    Geelong Regional Libraries offer fully inclusive and accessible venues. There is an accessible Word document version if you use text-to-voice software. If you require any assistance with any accessibility, please email events@grlc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 4201 0600.


    Program changes, refunds and photography

    • Please be aware that the program may be subject to change without notice, and in all cases we will do our best to notify attendees in advance.
    • Refunds will be issued on request if submitted prior to the event. Please email your request to events@grlc.vic.gov.au.
    • Please note: We have photographers coming to most sessions for a short visit so we can capture the creativity in process!

    Join our mailing list

    Want to stay up-to-date with all things Local Word? Whether you're interested in attending an event, entering a writing or poetry prize or even hosting a session at the next Festival, sign up here and we'll keep you in the loop.


































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