Writer in Residence

st pat's hands up!

Last week I had the honour of being Writer in Residence at St Patrick’s College  for the school’s Men of Words week. In the most beautiful teaching room imaginable, overlooking the Shorncliffe Pier and Moreton Bay, I shared my love of writing with all of the young men in years 7, 8 and 9.

We started each session with a general chat about the importance of reading, and the magic of reading and writing – the unique creation that is formed every time a different person interacts with a text. Then we got down to the fun stuff – RELAXING and WRITING!

st pat's relax!!

I love this shot because it’s such a joy to help everybody let go of their busy days and enter their imaginations. Love the boy in the jacket with the levitating arms!

Once everybody was calm, I led them into a creative writing exercise, entering a story world of their own, populated by characters of their own invention. Once they had a story in mind, I got them to roll over and write it – as fast as they could – with a time limit!

st pat's boys writing

Though I did end up with a few Fort Knight (a poplar game with teenage boys I’ve discovered!) stories, most of the writing that emerged was fresh and original, and some pieces were extraordinary. The bravest of boys read their stories aloud to the group. It’s amazing how many volunteers I had once I bribed them with a mint!

It was an absolute joy working with the young gentlemen, and hard-working staff, of St. Pat’s. I hope that my visit has helped to inspire a love of writing and reading that will last all their lives.

Shorncliffe pier

To have me come along and do writing workshops with your school or writing group please contact Speakers Ink. In the meantime – I’m off to the second ever RELAX and WRITE RETREAT for women. Three full days of yoga and writing 🙂 YAY!!



logo relax and write

Spring into spring! Spoil yourself with a retreat to inspire and delight you.

Whether you’re a writer in need of relaxation and a good stretch, or a yoga practitioner yearning to write, this is the retreat for you.

Writing buddies, published authors and experienced creative writing teachers, Helena Pastor and Edwina Shaw have been holding their own private writing retreats at Evans Head since 2005 to relax and write and share their stories.

This year they’re opening up their retreat to other women who’d like to do the same.

Unwind with yoga and free your creative voice with lots of fun writing activities and workshops. All only a minutes’ walk from a glorious beach surrounded by national park where you can swim, walk, laze in the sun or meditate to your heart’s content.

evans head




Arrival from 2 p.m.

5:30 p.m. Welcome nibbles and drinks, introductions

6 -7 p.m.  Introductory deep relaxation and writing exercise

7 p.m.      Dinner


7 – 8:15 a.m.  Gentle morning yoga with Edwina

9:30 – 12:30   Memoir workshop with Helena

12:30 – 3          Lunch and free time to enjoy the beach (or have a nap!)

3 – 5:30           Writing the Body with Edwina.  What stories does your body have to tell?

7 p.m.              Dinner


7 – 8:15 a.m.     Yoga with Edwina

9:30 – 12:30      Writing fiction using yoga techniques to quiet the inner critic with Edwina

12:30 – 2:30      Lunch and free time

2:30 – 4:30        Self Editing with Helena

4:30                   Feedback and farewells


$400 for twin share with ensuite or $350 twin share with communal facilities

For more information and to book please contact Helena


Helena and Edwina photo

Come along and join us. Only a few places left, so book now and avoid missing out!

You’ll have a wonderful time.






logo relax and write

Since 2002, my best writing buddy, Helena Pastor, and I have been heading to Camp Koinonia in beautiful Evans Head NSW to write, read and edit each other’s work and have lots of fun doing yoga, swimming, walking on the beach and feasting.

This year we’re opening up our special place to share it with other like-minded women who want to do the same.

This is how happy we were at the end of our retreat earlier this year. We’d love for you to feel this relaxed and happy too.

Helena and Edwina photo

So, whether you’re a writer in need of relaxation and a good stretch, or a yoga practitioner yearning to write, this is the retreat for you.

The program includes gentle yoga sessions to suit every level of ability and fitness, and writing workshops guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing.

All activities are optional, so if you just want to lie around in the sun all day you can do that, but we’ll be having lots of creative fun in the beautiful hall just across the road from the beach.

Arrival from 2 p.m.
5:30 p.m. Welcome nibbles and drinks, introductions
6 -7 p.m. Introductory deep relaxation and writing
7 p.m. Dinner
7 – 8:15 a.m. Gentle morning yoga with Edwina
9:30 – 12:30 Memoir workshop with Helena
12:30 – 3 Lunch and free time to enjoy the beach (or
have a nap!)
3 – 5:30 Writing the Body with Edwina.
7 p.m. Dinner
7 – 8:15 a.m. Yoga with Edwina
9:30 – 12:30 Writing fiction using yoga techniques
12:30 – 2:30 Lunch and free time
2:30 – 4:30 Self Editing with Helena
4:30 Feedback and farewells

We’d love to have you along to join in the fun. Women only (Sorry boys!)

As I’m away for most of July on an expedition to Cape York (more about that later) please contact Helena on helenapastor2@gmail.com for more information and to book


We’ve kept our prices as low as possible – we wanted something we’d be able to afford ourselves 🙂

$400 for twin share with ensuite or;
$350 twin share with communal facilities
EARLY BIRD $380 / $330
if booked and deposit of $150 received before 31st July
This includes
• all yoga and writing workshops
• 2 nights twin share ensuite accommodation / or
twin share with communal facilities
• healthy home cooked meals on Friday and
Saturday nights – self cater for breakfasts and lunches
Optional extras:
• Massage
• Personalised Editorial Feedback (10 Pages in 20

Treat yourself to a weekend that will leave you feeling relaxed, creative and inspired. We’d love to have you with us!

With lots of love


Just to tempt you a little bit more – here’s a shot of an Evan’s Head beach at sunset.

sunset evans head


Girls in an orphanage scrubbing floors

Recently, it has been my privilege to work with a group of Forgotten Australians. This is the preferred term to describe people who experienced life in institutions as children, whether as child migrants after the war, orphans, or those who, through no fault of their own, ended up in places no child should ever be.

My friend, jazz singer, Karen Anderson, and I facilitated a creative writing course at Lotus Place, the Micah project centre that supports Forgotten Australians, people who have often endured lives more traumatic than most of us can even imagine. Yet I have never met a more compassionate and loving group of students. It reinforced what I have often felt – that pain and suffering teaches us most about love and compassion.

Rather than retelling their traumatic histories, I attempted to help them change the way they looked at their histories and to see themselves, not as victims, not even as “survivors’, but as the Superheroes of their lives. Did these superheroes go back in time and wreak revenge? No! They gathered armaments and melted them down, they made enemies face each other and shake hands, they saved children in danger and rescued the world. We wrote love letters to our younger selves and reminded ourselves of how far we’d come and all that we’d achieved. We put ourselves in the shoes of someone who’d wronged us and saw things from their perspective. We even imagined ourselves as animals. One student decided she wanted to be one of the Queen’s corgis, petted and spoilt and listened to.

Hungry boys, thin soup

For that is what is most important, not only to these students, but to us all, to be heard. To have our stories matter. Many Forgotten Australians have limited literacy skills because of a lack of educational opportunities, but more than that – when you’re focused on survival as a child, there isn’t much room for thinking about reading and writing. Luckily with creative writing, spelling and punctuation don’t matter, at least in first drafts. What was important was feeling safe enough to tell our stories.

Yesterday, we had a ceremony presenting certificates to the participants and I was rewarded in the best possible way. One student read her piece aloud and showed everyone how to spell “overcome” – a word she’d learnt to spell all my herself! I read a piece that an elderly gentleman (and I mean that in every sense of the word) had dictated to Karen who’d acted as his scribe over the course. It described his memories of his mother slaving over an old washing boiler with a forked stick, looking worn but loving as she turned with a smile and a comforting touch for her many children. The applause for that was loud. Another student, a woman who had been unable to sit at the same table at our first session, who couldn’t speak for herself and had others speak for her, got up and made a speech in front of the crowd, holding her head high, telling everyone how much she’d learned and how much her confidence had increased from being in the course. Worth a million dollars!

Perspective is everything. How we see ourselves and view our histories shapes our futures. By helping these students reclaim and reframe their stories we went some small way to helping them change their lives. I miss them already and I most certainly won’t ever forget them.