Those who know me, know I'm a pretty quiet girl these days.
Back in the day, I was a radio and television reporter before deciding to make my career in print journalism.
Features. health-writing, human interest and travel soon became a love, and writing for magazines was a natural progression.
Attending media launches, talking about stories I've written, and in the case of my own books, being interviewed as an expert, has been all part of the job.
And yes, I've appeared at writer's festivals and other public events.
It's weird because in 'the younger years', I could read the news and do live crosses to television with the best of them. As a youngster, I was quite the debater and public speaker, and was even an enthusiastic member of school theatre productions and my university's choir.
I've taught feature-writing at university, and even dished out advice during live talk-back radio shows.
But these days, a public appearance can turn me to jelly.
And yet, I find it difficult to say no, particularly when I have a personal attachment to a cause.
Recently, I was gutted when I'd realised my former uni, The University of Southern Queensland, had contacted me in the past about appearing at their annual writers’ festival, the USQ Bookcase.
Each time, I must have been terribly slack and either missed the emails, or they had disappeared into my junk folder. They thought I'd been ignoring them. How rude! (Of me. If I'd been ignoring them. Which I never would do. Even if I was too shy to appear).
This year, actually I think it was sometime last year, the clever organiser tracked me down via LinkedIn, and asked if I'd liked to be involved in the 2015 USQ Bookcase.
I found myself saying yes. Yes! I'd love to appear. Yes, I'd love to run a workshop about blogging and social media. (I know! What was I thinking?)
This year's USQ Bookcase, in Toowoomba on 18 and 19 July 2015, has its biggest line-up yet.
Headlining the event this year is Walkley Award-winning ABC journalist and Toowoomba local, Mark Willacy.
Mark is just one of the more than 30 authors, writers, journalists, commentators, speakers and thinkers taking part in the festival’s 26 events across the weekend. (I already feel intimidated, being on the same program as a real journalist...)
"Also in attendance will be internationally-renowned Australian author Holly Hill, critically-acclaimed romance writer Kylie Kaden, award-winning children’s author and illustrator Narelle Oliver, best-selling fantasy author Kylie Chan, ARIA nominated songwriter Mark Scholtes, and well-known mummy blogger Bronwyn Marquardt," (That's me!) (Shit: This is a quote from their actual PR material. I'm a well-known Mummy Blogger? What am I going to talk about? Oh ... help!!)
But don't let me put you off. The USQ Bookshelf will be awesome. Apart from my bit, the spiel continutes:
'From journalism and blogging to romance writing and children’s stories and everything in between, the University’s second annual writers’ festival will deliver a program that will challenge, provoke and inspire.'
In addition to the 12 free workshops, panel discussions and author Q&As, this year four full-day masterclasses will be offered for those who want to delve deeper into their chosen writing genre.
Topics covered include Fantasy Writing, Travel Writing, Creative Writing and Journalism, with classes costing $65 for USQ alumni, students and staff, and $75 community. (Mine is free).
Get your festival pass or register for a masterclass before June 30 and you’ll go into the draw to win one of two 16GB iPads Airs.
The festival is open to all, and will run from 9.30am to 4pm on both days. Entry is $5 per person, with children under 12 free.
See the USQ Bookcase website for the full program of events.
Seriously, I am chuffed to be a part of this event. I am a proud graduate of USQ. Which is something, considering over the years I have actually been on the receiving end of quite a lot of ribbing for going to what was once seen as a 'country' university.
I will have you know I scored high enough to go to other unis, but I wanted to go to USQ. One, it was relatively close to home. Two, one of my brothers had been there, and had a fab experience. Three, it offered the best print journalism course in Australia at the time. (I am still in awe of my lecturer Professor Mark Pearson, one of many who had such positive influences on my life. I also studied literature there, and Dr Bruce Dawe was one of my tutors. Bruce Dawe. And he thought I was clever and talented. (He actually wrote that on one of my assignments...) I admired him so much I once lent him one of my books on James Thurber and never got it back. Oh well. Four; My parents and I could (just) afford it, though it was a constant battle. Five: It was still small enough so that I wasn't just a number.
I am still friends or at least acquaintances with the handful of journalists who made it through to graduation, though most of us work in different fields now. I admire them deeply.
I took my son back to USQ for an open day there last year. Wow, it's changed. It's bigger and better, but it was still very familiar.
I was a bit disappointed when, on the drive home, he said he'd liked it, but he didn't think he'd study there.
"Why not?" I asked.
"The road to get there is way too windy," he said.
Well yes. Yes it is son.
I thought he was being extremely clever and using it as a metaphor for life for a moment. But in fact, the highway to Toowoomba from Kingaroy is a windy road, and we both have a tendency to get motion sickness. Luckily, they have campuses elsewhere these days, including on the Sunshine Coast.
So whilst I'm
You can follow the events on Facebook here.
In the meantime, join me while I reminisce about my USQ days. They were some of the happiest of my life.
At one of the many balls/socials. Oh the fashion. And the hair ...
Goody two-shoes choir girl. Ready for a performance with the Darling Downs Singers. In my tiny room at McGregor College.
My first car. A daggy green Ford Escort it may have been, but it was the chariot for a variety of the coolest girls and guys I have met. And the transport for many a midnight sustenance run to the nearest service station during all-night study marathons.
Outside my room at McGregor College on an unusually warm Toowoomba day. Being profound. With Queensland nuts, an orange, and bricks. For some kind of project. Hey, I was an arts student ...
Another social. I did actually study sometimes ...
Because I ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (double major in journalism and music)
Do you have fond memories of your 'younger years'? Have you changed as much as I have?