President: Gavin Fisher
Vice president: Susan Johnston
Treasurer: David Kelly
Secretary: Leah Bunn
Membership secretary: Jackie Moore
Social media / Publicity officer: Mark Wren
Events Coordinator: Annette Kontoleon
Newsletter editor: Kerri Yarsley
Webmaster: Damien Booth
Speaker coordinator: Ocean Reeve
General committee members: Gary Ivory, Karen Thomas, Julie Baythorpe, Karen Knight-Mudie
Competition coordinator: vacant
Read more about our current committee members below
Gavin was born in South Africa. He studied there and worked as an architect and project manager before relocating to New Zealand where he lived for seven years with his wife and two daughters.
He also enlisted as a volunteer paramedic for several years and served with the National Sea Rescue Institute on numerous rescue missions. Other interests include flying and scuba diving.
Gavin now resides in the Gold Coast with his wife, Caroline, and currently works for an award-winning construction company as a contracts administrator.
Favourite quote: Fiction [fik-shuhn] – A literary work that avoids letting the truth get in the way of a good story.
Susan Jane is a Published Author, Professional Speaker, Life Coach and facilitator of Business Workshops with a concentration on the ‘Writer’s Centoring Program’. This is her blend of task orientated coaching skills, with personal mentoring practices, that she has used to keep writers centred and true to their intentions.
Susan’s life changed dramatically when her 20 year marriage ended and she had to discover who she really was and what she really wanted. Susan had a lot of experience connecting with people. She was nominated for Australian Citizen of the Year, but things were different in this high Tech era. She went back to university in 2009, studying a Public Health degree fulltime and working three part time jobs. However, six months after she graduated from her three year degree, the government changed hands and all Health Promotion positions were made redundant. Susan didn’t know what to do, she wasn’t a spring chicken any longer and felt extremely out of her depth.
Deep down Susan knew there was still a lot more she could offer this world and so she set about to prove it. On a shoestring budget, and with strong faith in her ability, she started writing, formatting and publishing her first book. Oh boy did she make some huge mistakes but it is because of these mistakes that she now has the experience of helping others, not make the same ones she did.
Susan has spent over 30 years developing, educating and encouraging people to grow, trust and utilise their Intuition enabling them to make sound decisions or choices that are in line with their true core values. Joining the Gold Coast Writers Association was one of those intuitive decisions that naturally led her to the Vice President’s position. Being in this position she hopes to assist the president in taking the association to a new level, bring in more members and grow our reputation to the wider audience.
After working more than 40 years in the field of electronics engineering, David has hung up his multi-meter and soldering iron for good. He has had formal training and job experience in both technical and management positions, including budgetary responsibilities. David spent the last nineteen years of his working life in such roles within the Fire Service and the Department of Emergency Services.
He enjoyed writing poetry for fun when he was at school; and also afterwards, when he did it a little more seriously. He has always been fascinated by what makes things, and people, tick. This has directed his mind towards the fields of the “Three Ps”: physics, psychology and philosophy. For him, life’s journey has been one of continual discovery and unexpected surprises.
He obtained qualifications and a career in the rapidly developing technology of electronics, as it moved from vacuum tubes to microprocessors. He has been mostly employed in radio communications. His interests helped sustain him through the hard slog of supporting a family and paying a mortgage. He is a proud father and grandfather.
After leaving full time work, David thought his age of entitlement had begun as he put out his hand for the aged pension and looked forward to sharing a great time with his wife. However, the unexpected was lying in wait, ready to ambush. It seems that traditional male-female roles had worked fine when he went off to work. Now, instead of peace and tranquility, there was a new climate of domestic turf wars. David finally realised: all was not as he had thought.
His job life behind, he missed participating in groups with shared purposes and goals, and struggled to translate such scenarios to benefit his home environment. Turning once more to other interests for sustenance, he is now taking a deep breath and moving on, as they say.
David has a thirst for knowledge and learning, with particular interest in new developments that can bring beneficial changes for mankind. He is generally dismayed by humanity’s preoccupations and obsessions with power, control, greed and fear. He also has a desire to offload his thoughts in writing, particularly as a means of sharing with others.
After arriving in Australia and meeting her soul mate, Leah Bunn has dived into a world of the unknown, learning about things that she didn’t realise she was passionate about. Rather than walking away, she has taken on each challenge with the intention of learning from each and every lesson. Whether it be business, writing, conservation and/or the environment, it is clear that her life has been turned 180 degrees.
Leah is a co-organiser of Green Drinks (Gold Coast), and she is co-organiser of a local small business group on the Gold Coast. She believes in buy local, and support local – whether that be small business or farmers and the like.
She has started writing her first book, and is excited about sharing her story. Leah has a wide variety of skills and attributes, which have assisted her in looking at things both logically, and outside the square box.
Leah works with her partner, Mark Wren, within their businesses.
She has been a member of the Helensvale Writers for a few years, and has been a member of the Gold Coast Writers’ Association for approximately five years, joining the committee of the GCWA in December 2015.
Jackie has enjoyed several varied chapters in her life.
She began her professional career as a skin care therapist in the late 70’s, working with a vibrant team at a renowned health spa in South Africa.
She then changed direction in order to pursue her passion for handwriting analysis and forensic handwriting examination, lecturing and practicing in this field for the better part of a decade.
In 2013 she made the decision to leave South Africa in order to relocate to the Gold Coast, Australia.
Today she focuses her energies on her love of words, developing a somewhat dormant talent for creative writing.
To date, she had completed a children’s chapter book, which she hopes to have published soon, as well as several short stories, one of which won the ‘Mona Brand Short Story Commended Award 2015.’ She is currently busy on her second book.
Mark was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1963, his family arrived by ship to Western Australia as Ten Pound Poms.
He moved across to Melbourne in 1969, where his mother, one of Australia’s top A-Grade female journalists, married the publisher of her newly-written books. Dennis Wren was managing director of the Melbourne office of William Heinemann Publishing. In 1970, he went out on his own, starting Wren Publishing, which Mark now owns.
The family also started ‘The Independent’ newspaper in Hastings, Victoria.
Mark has completed over twelve years of college and university, combined with thirty-seven years as an IT technician, printer and photographer.
He has achieved the highest printing qualifications attainable in Australia. Apprenticed to Wilke Printers, Mark went on to work for another of Rupert Murdoch’s companies. As a third year apprentice, he shared a supervisor position, where over the next decade he participated in the production of over 300 million books and magazines (57 mast heads).
Mark wrote a thesis after finishing his Printing Survey Certificate in 1983. This was published and has been used as an education tool to this day. Regular articles and photographs have been published with Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as various magazines and IT publications over four decades.
He has been involved in conservation circles, and has been a member of the ACF (Australian Conservation Foundation) for over thirty years. Mark is one of the founding members of Green Drinks (GC), now in sixty countries. He is a member of the Southport Chamber of Commerce; co-organiser of a small business group with partner, Leah; and has been involved with various charities and community groups since 1976.
Mark relocated from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, in 1991 to become self-employed.
Mark is equally qualified in ICT, as he is in printing. He is the proprietor of IPCC (Group of Companies) now trading in eight countries.
- Cherri International (Computer Solutions)
- After Dark Digital, Security & Offset Printing
- International Plastic Card Corporation P/L (IPCC)
- Rat Mats (Mouse Pads with Attitude)
- Wren Publishing
Annette left school at the age of fifteen. She couldn’t read. Her mother believed that if a female wore glasses, no man would ever marry her. She failed miserably in all my exams at school because if you can’t see, you can’t read.
Several years later, she could only say thank God for contact lenses, as they changed my life dramatically. They opened a whole new world. Not only did she learn to read, but she could actually see the people she was talking to.
Annette was inspired by the stories my grandmother told me. She was in awe about the suffragettes. Their fight for women’s rights was the first step to equality. She was a modern-thinking woman. Many young people today wouldn’t know who the suffragettes were or how much they gave up and what they endured to get women the right to vote.
Annette would describe herself as a strong-willed person who likes her own space. A song that comes to mind that was written when she was in my early thirties, “I Am Woman,” was to play a huge factor in my life. She credits those who she believes are special people and animals that give her so much and ask little in return.
When she was in her late teens, she decided to write a novel about her heritage, with some truths and a lot of fiction. Unfortunately, her mother read it while she was at work and decided she was trying to defame her family, so she tore it up. What she didn’t know was that the stories my grandmother had told her when she was young were embedded in her mind.
Many years later, after her mother passed away, she started that same novel once again. This book is the first of the trilogy that spans many generations, from the eighteenth century and continuing on to the twenty-first century.
Annette’s father was a great storyteller; he wrote a book at the age of ninety-three. His life was full of adventures, and his memory for detail was exceptional. He was a good man but a wild boy. The book he wrote doesn’t really show his wild side. When her father reached his hundredth year, his biggest worry was that Annette might write a book about his wild side and the cops would come after him.
To give you a glimpse into Annette’s life, she has a message for you on how she has survived the difficulties of everyday living. Annette hopes you will be inspired by the following words:
When you reach to the depths of your soul, you find a glimmer of light. All is not lost and becomes a new beginning. Life has gone in a complete circle. What goes around comes around.
The challenge of life and old age comes to all who survive. How we deal with it is the key to unlocking the door of our destiny. No matter what confronts us, our actions speak louder than words. That’s what we are really judged by.
Be your own person, have your own ideas, gain strength from your knowledge, and live your life to the fullest. Love and be loved. Give of yourself to people who need help, and one day your deeds will be repaid.
Never give up. Life is too short.
Kerri Yarsley was born in Melbourne, Australia in the late ’50’s. She studied Biochemistry, Microbiology, Education, and Computers at university. After marriage, Kerri worked as a Systems Programmer and attained Fitness Leader’s qualifications and trained in marital arts.
Kerri and Frank had four children in six years, so Kerri changed into documenting which was more easily done from a home base. Over two decades later Kerri is still enjoying writing and learning new things. She has more recent diplomas in Business and Project Management, and has also studied a variety of interests including piano, chanter, guitar, flute, oil painting, singing, bee keeping, Taekwondo, Aikido and Kung Fu weapons, such as the sai, short sticks, long staff, nunchaku and straight sword.
Kerri loves peaceful forest surroundings occasionally disrupted by her chooks, dog and multiple wild birds, including finches, scrub turkeys and black cockatoos. She loves vegetarian food and her lifestyle reflects her love and respect of all life.
In 2011, Kerri wrote “The Instruction Manual for Kids – Parent’s Edition” because there wasn’t one, and it seemed to be needed more and more. Later years have seen title become available in eBook and audiobook formats.
Damien has a genuine passion for helping and assisting people/businesses with their web sites and social media marketing. Ever since Damien first laid his hands on a keyboard, he hasn’t considered doing anything else.
2009 – Damien decided it was time to run his own business, developing and marketing web sites for small to medium businesses around Australia. 123 Internet.com.au and 123 Buy.com.au were born over two years of hard work and continuous persistence.
2015 – Damien joined forces with Cherri International (Computer Solutions). Working as a team has been a benefit to all parties involved, as each bring their own skills and attributes.
Damien has never looked back. He prides himself on helping each and every small to medium business within his portfolio, as well as individuals needing some help with their online presence, reach success.
Ocean is committed to facilitating the creative process in all who are willing to express themselves through the written word. With the belief that we are all born with a desire to be creative, Ocean operates a defined, dedicated and determined process to bring a book to life and if desired, build a profitable future from this expression of creativity.
Ocean’s 20 year career in the creative arts has been one he has great respect and gratitude for. Following a successful 6 years in Film & Television, Ocean spent a year in nightclub promotion before beginning his publishing road. Beginning as a Digital Production Manager for an educational publisher, Ocean was soon promoted into a sales role which quickly developed into Sales Manager for both the educational and traditional arm of Zenith Publishing Group.
As the internet took its grip over the creative arts industries, Ocean was integral in the development and management of New Zealand’s premier self-publishing house, PublishMe, and following a six month stint as a Radio Host, successfully graduating with a Diploma in Creative Writing, becoming a qualified Workflow Trainer and being nominated and winning two National Awards for Service to Authors, Ocean departed New Zealand to expand his creative reach into Australia.
Six years into his new life in Australia and Ocean has now introduced an established and fruitful marketing platform where authors not only achieve their vision of bringing a book to life, but also promote and market their published works with amazing results. He has played a major role in the birth of InHouse Publishing in Queensland and believes that in this current landscape of creative expression, it is the vision and legacy of the author that has to be the paramount focus.
Gary hails from Queensland and grew up in Brisbane at a time when roads were still being sealed and out -houses languished splendidly across suburban backyards. Educated as a teacher, and a Graduate of both Deakin and James Cook Universities, Gary has lived in many parts of the State and is now in his 41st Year as school principal. His interest in writing has grown out of his teaching experience and continues to peek his interest as the influence of technology shapes and forms the modern writing experience.
Living in country Queensland gave Gary the opportunity to write as a correspondent for two provincial newspapers. As well as this experience, Gary managed one of the Brisbane Urban Newspapers and regularly wrote columns of interest for local communities.
Gary and his wife Penelope, spent time in the Middle East, where Gary worked for the Qatar Government as a consultant assisting in the establishment of the Independent School System. Gary took the opportunity to write extensively about this experience and his forays into Jordan and Morocco and shared these writings with a large following of interested armchair travellers.
After returning to Australia, Gary worked with GCWA over several years coordinating the “Authors in Schools Program” as well as supporting the 2013 Writers Festival. Gary rejoins the committee after retiring from the Vice Presidents role to recover from illness.
A lover of music and a member of the Gold Coast Theatre Organ Society, Gary spends his spare, spare time playing piano and organ.
Julie Baythorpe was born in Sydney and grew up in Brisbane. She moved to the Gold Coast in 1985. Julie has been writing all of her life. For many years, she taught creative writing, both as a teacher and Principal in classrooms across Queensland. Julie started writing full-time when she retired from teaching. In addition to writing and publishing journal articles, poems and curriculum documents, Julie has also published two Reid Devron mystery novels – The Lavender Principal and Silo Deadfall. She has also written and published a book of short stories Ballyhoo and Babble … Tales of Fright and Delight and she has co-written Love, Lies and Laughter and a Few Little Tears with members of the Southern Short Story Group of Gold Coast Writers’ Association. She holds a Diploma of Teaching and a Bachelor of Education and worked for Griffith University as a Liaison Supervisor. Julie is currently writing her third Reid Devron murder mystery.
Karen Thomas – General committee member
Karen was born in outback New South Wales and attended boarding school in Sydney. Hence she had boots in two paddocks—country and city.
Inspired by her father’s stories of Mimi lights, bush things, and wonderful paintings of our surroundings and animals, she soon found freedom in tubes of paint and in books—offering Karen liberty to go anywhere with words and images as intrinsic soul-mates. Maybe that explains her love of gathering all sorts of stuff into an eclectic treasure trove of ideas.
Later, raising children in Vanuatu and London sparked her interest in languages and arts as vital means of expression. From that time she began a love affair with painting images to tell stories of the landscape and writing words to whisper secrets from the past.
In 1979 Karen returned to Australia, and was passing through the Top End en route to Brisbane when she met Dr. Colin Jack-Hinton, then Director, Museum & Art Galleries, Northern Territory (MAGNT). He invited Karen to join a small band, “Artists in the Field”, that he and Frank Hodgkinson had developed as an annual event to stimulate European interpretations of Kakadu. Karen was excited at the thought of painting in the Territory, but in 1979 she had a lot of other things on her priority list. First was getting her French educated children into an Australian school, second was getting herself a job. Both took time and effort—years rolled by.
During those years, Karen became Head of Department, Art, at Stuartholme School, and plunged into professional duties. Importantly, when students saw her painting my talk it gave them confidence and stirred curiosity. Soon they were producing exceptional work that attracted prestige to the school.
Finally, in 1985 Karen joined “Artists in the Field” and became the first woman artist to join the blokes, Colin Jack-Hinton, Frank Hodgkinson, John Rigby, Robert Jacks, and Vic Majzner for two weeks camping at Cooinda in the Northern Territory. It was an honour, an inspiration, and a fantastic experience.
Towards the end of 1987, Karen received an unexpected invitation from Education Queensland to restructure the art curriculum at the College of the South West, Roma. The timing of this request was fortuitous. The then principal of Stuartholme, impressed by student work, insisted Karen enter their work in inter-school art competitions—for the glory of the school! Karen refused. Her reason was simple and straightforward—extrinsic reward systems such as art competitions for young folk, erode the essential notion of personal fulfillment; the most powerful intrinsic reward. Her students had internal pride in their work as evidenced by their unique images, and willingness to help each other without having ideas pinched.
Sadly, Karen said good-bye to students, bought a 4×4 vehicle and headed west to a new challenge. And the wonders of the Carnarvon Gorge a couple of hours drive north of Roma. However, her location changed again when she accepted the offer to set up the Arts Education programme at the burgeoning University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba . Thus, Karen spent two decades straddling the worlds of academia and professional art practice.
Since retiring from USQ, Karen has relocated to the hinterland of the Gold Coast to be close to family, build a new home and become “story-teller” to her grandchildren. Tales of larrikin deeds and Australian animals flooded the seats of cars, planes, and trains as they journeyed around Japan and New Zealand. Eventually, pleas from the children to write their tales into a book, Yarns From Yandilla, motivated her to join the Gold Coast Writers’ Association. Thus began a new learning voyage into the world of publishing that, Karen admits, has been a scary and steep hill to climb. Karen’s still slipping and gripping—but three books are now published.
Yarns From Yandilla is a maze of mishaps for young Barry Badger—he has lots to learn about Australia!
Boy From Bullamooluka probes bullying in middle school, blending fantasy, harsh realities, and hard science to weave a cosmic web of challenges for the new student, Watson Webber.
Moonlighting in Moffatt: Tracking the Kenniff Brothers tells the true story of two young brothers, Paddy and Jimmy Kenniff, who lived life to the full, testing the system as they went about “business” in the remote Upper Warrego district of western Queensland.
And more has happened. Karen’s painting an avalanche of moonlighting ideas pushes her to create new stock.