The award-winning author Sophie Masson AM leads the guest list of writers of all genres at the 8th Dubbo Writer's Festival opening this Friday at the Macquarie Regional Library.
As a popular writer and publisher based in Armidale, her passion to inspire budding writers in regions like Dubbo is unquenchable having toured as many festivals showing every writer she meets with tools to navigate a writing career.
"I'm very excited to come to Dubbo, I love regional writers' festivals, they are so warm and friendly and interesting," Ms Masson, the current chair of the New England Writers' Centre and president of the Small Press Network told the Daily Liberal.
A lot of her earlier novels were rejected by publishers, Ms Masson said, and "the secret is persistence and patience, and also to learn from mistakes".
It wasn't until she was writing her third novel that a publisher accepted her manuscript.
"Since then my motto has been that you need two important things to not only start but maintain a career as a professional writer: integrity and flexibility," Ms Masson said.
"Integrity means staying true to your voice as a writer and not trying to copy others you think are more successful; and flexibility means being willing to take advice, to spot opportunities, to be open to new ideas, and to keep up to date with the genre you are writing in.
"Your writing always stays fresh and appealing to contemporary readers. It's been my experience that you need to balance integrity and flexibility to have a successful writing career."
"I'm really delighted that I've been asked as a presenter. I'm looking forward to meeting local writers and readers. I'm sure there will be great reads from local writers, perhaps flash fiction created in my workshop or presentations of ideas for books in the publisher consultations."
Having published at least 70 titles since her first, Two Trickster Tales in 2013, Ms Masson will present "some great reads of my own" on her latest, Sydney Under Attack, for young adult readers about 12-year-old Nick aspiring to write like his father but the war came.
On Saturday, at the old bowling club clubhouse called The Greens on Wingewarra Street, next to the tennis courts, Ms Masson and the author of All I See is Mud, Andrew Dunkley, will jointly hold a workshop for aspiring writers in the region to show them tools they need to get published.
Ms Masson's popular picture books include The Snowman's Wish, A House of Mud, and Santagram, among the genres she has written for leading publishers in Australia and overseas.
Ms Masson's The Hunt for Ned Kelly won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for children's fiction in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards in 2011.
Her recent awards include the prestigious Children's Book Council of Australia notable book award for Two Rainbows in 2018, a Crichton Award for Once Upon An ABC, and another CBCA award for The Crystal Heart in 2016.
Ms Masson was awarded the Order of Australia in 2019 "For significant service to literature as an author, publisher and through roles in industry organisations".
The Orana Writers' Hub and Outback Writers' Centre organised the festival to assist writers based in the region in networking, improving their literary projects, and connecting with publishers, the hub president Val Clark said.
Among the local authors showcasing their work at the festival include Aunty Ruth Carney who wrote A Little Piece of Heaven with her late husband, Dick Carney, as well as fellow Indigenous writer, Rob Salt.
Ms Clark, a retired art teacher at Burrabadine Christian Community School, located just outside of Dubbo, is also a published author writing for both adults and young adults' readers.
Ms Clark wrote Lost for Moshpit Publications a fictional genre about 15-year-old Sharon Mackay kidnapped from earth and sent to another world but luckily escaped in a perilous journey using her wits and imagination. She is currently writing three novels and has been a resident writer at the Varuna Writing Centre in the Blue Mountains.
The hub has at least a dozen members who are writing novels, short stories, stage plays, poems, and anthologies, Ms Clark said.
"The festival is to bring publishing industry professionals to Dubbo so we could meet and spend time with them without the expense of going to an event in Sydney or Newcastle.
"We do have a big writing community that meets once a month to talk about writing and share the progress of their writing.
"There are a lot of writers around the region who don't know about us which is why we are holding a festival to get to know more writers."
The festival will be launched at 6pm on Friday, 9 September at the Library on Macquarie Street. The writers' workshops and author talks at The Greens begin on Saturday, 10 September at 10am-12noon then another workshop from 2pm to 4pm.