Riding the Waves Conference Spotlight ~ Dr Deborah Southwell

Welcome to another conference spotlight from the

Riding the Waves conference!

Today we have Dr Deborah Southwell  who will be presenting the workshop  DAVY JONES’ LOCKER ~ Locating Arts Grants & Writers’ Residences.




Dr Deborah Southwell is a successful grant writer who has secured over $500k in grant money for projects that she had undertaken. An experienced grant manager, consultant and evaluator, Deborah has also presented to various audiences nationally on grant management, opportunities, issues and challenges and brings the benefit of her experience from both sides of the grant writing process. Deborah lives in Brisbane, Queensland, and is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Australian Society of Authors and the Queensland Writers Centre.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Successful grant writer, experienced grant manager, consultant and evaluator.

What prompted you to put together this workshop for “Riding The Waves”?

Money, time and place to write – sounds like paradise doesn’t it?

Grants, fellowships and residencies provide the opportunity to have all three – but how do you go about actually writing a proposal in the first place and how do you make it appealing to the people who are looking at all the applications – so appealing that they want to give you money, time and a place to write?

I have been a successful grant writer and leader having secured nearly $300m in grant money for projects that I have undertaken.  I also have a very strong background in grants management and have helped others to be successful with their grant applications.  I want to share what I’ve learned because I’ve benefitted so much from what others have shared with me.

I think women particularly are sometimes reluctant to take advantage of these types of opportunities. I hope this workshop will help everyone to feel more confident in knowing what steps to take next so they can build their confidence to ‘have a go’ at submitting their own proposal.


Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

Ideally, participants will come along with at least one project of their own that they want to workshop. I will provide scenarios to workshop if they haven’t a project that they want to workshop on the day.

By the end of the workshop, they should have developed a practical and workable strategy and process for applying for funds to support their writing projects and getting their project looked at seriously. As well as the overall strategy, we will look at the details of some of the practicalities, look at examples and draft some of them together in small groups or as a whole group:  a writers CV, drawing up budgets, being ready to apply for funds at a moment’s notice.


Which members will benefit most from this session?

I have specifically developed this workshop for the Australian romance writing community from emerging writers to established professionals. Anyone interested in the business and career development aspects of being a writer should learn something from this workshop.


What is the best part/aspect of conference for you?

Last year’s conference was my first RWA Conference. There’s nothing quite like being an introverted, self-conscious new conference attender and having a big yellow heart attached to your chest to make you feel welcome as you walk around a hotel foyer. But I was soon absorbed in conversation with two wonderful women at the table where I sat in the first workshop. We had all been to Spain, two of us were new to the conference and one hadn’t been for several years and best of all we were all Queenslanders. Throughout the rest of the conference, we held seats for each other at our tables for each session, we cheered as two of us went off to pitch their story, we went for walks along the beach and best of all we have kept in contact after the conference, providing online feedback and encouragement on works-in-progress, catching up face to face every other month and making sure we each had accommodation booked for the Freo Conference within weeks of it becoming available.

Any advice for conference first-timers?

Beware of women bearing yellow hearts!

Finally, we are so delighted you’re visiting us in Western Australia. Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to seeing or doing while you’re here?

Although I’m now a Queenslander, I was born and lived most of my life in Perth so catching up with family especially my daughter and my West Australian grandson, who will be 2 ½ by August, is high on the agenda. So will be finding postcards for the two Queensland grandchildren lest they think Grandma has forgotten them!

I’ve also allowed time to travel around the South West especially Cowaramup (near Margaret River) where my grandparents were some of the first group settlers (Group 13 – the Devil’s Own).

If time allowed, I would then trail around the Margaret River wineries, , get yummy cakes from the Dunsborough bakery, enjoy the wonderful karri forests at Pemberton, stand on the beach at Augusta wondering how pioneer wife and botanist , Georgiana Molloy, coped with the isolation, visit the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse where Indian and Southern Oceans meet, wind my way up the Caves Road … and if I had even more time, make the effort to visit the wonderful secret known as Esperance –stunning beach vistas, clear turquoise water, seals , islands …. Perhaps a tad too cold for swimming in August … but now I’m homesick – roll on Freo 2013!


Thank you, Deborah!

Our next conference spotlight will be featured tomorrow.

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