This year felt like a bit of a flop for me, as a writer that is. The reason it felt this way is that I didn’t have any new books published or accepted for publication. I didn’t win any writing awards or competitions. There were no obvious ‘successes.’ And this was the first year in many that this has happened to me.

When we experience this (as most writers do at some time), it’s all too easy to think of ourselves as a failure, and that’s how I was beginning to feel. This is when it’s tempting to give up and forget writing altogether. After all, it’s already challenging to find the time, energy and willpower to continue writing in the highly competitive book industry. Put that together with running a business and raising a family, and it seems almost impossible.

Needless to say, when I received today’s challenge in the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers I inwardly groaned. Write a whole page of successes for the year? What? I would be lucky enough to jot down two. But as I started thinking, and writing, I ended up with a list of over 20 successes. As I was writing I realised that success as a writer doesn’t just mean getting a publishing contract, but making steps towards it, working on your craft, learning, growing, presenting and getting excited about the unexpected surprises, like having my chapter book series published in the UK.

jake in space_Moon Attack_UK        Jake in Space_Rocket Battles_UK

So, the reason I’m sharing this list of 2017 successes is to show you that success comes in many forms and it’s worthwhile and motivating to think about and acknowledge them.

Here’s my list:

  1. Outlined my first crime novel
  2. Chapter book series published internationally
  3. Attended an editing workshop with an editor from a major publishing house and plucked up the courage to gain feedback on my story opening
  4. Successfully applied for and ran library writing workshops for the Summer Reading Club program
  5. Submitted a reworked manuscript for a new chapter book series to my publisher and then received a request for a series proposal
  6. Submitted the series proposal
  7. Reworked my YA novel and accepted an offer of a critique from a good writing friend
  8. Attended a workshop to learn more about presenting writing workshops for kids
  9. Requested feedback from my author talks and workshops that I added to my testimonials
  10. Put in multiple submissions for my YA novel
  11. Ran author talks and workshops – expanding time spent and number of students presented to
  12. Learned about the Story Grid structure and started using it
  13. Applied for my first travel grant for writing
  14. Investigated further study options for writing
  15. Received a lovely acknowledgement for my work editing a client’s short story collection in his published anthology
  16. Sent a screenplay in to a competition and received positive feedback
  17. Offered to run a workshop on getting your books into bookstores which will be scheduled for 2018
  18. Received unexpected income from my books
  19. Undertook a mentorship on how to set up an online course and created the course and writing school for tween and teen writers
  20. Entered the Pitch Wars contest
  21. Was invited as a guest author at Romancing the Stars and presented to teachers, librarians, writers and readers at the event
  22. Taught students and teachers in Laos how to write a story in English

school photo.jpg

What are your 2017 successes?



Today I’m very excited to be interviewing author Jill Smith, who has nine stories, repeat nine (now is that talent or what?) in the new anthology by The Ten Penners, ‘Mystery, Mayhem and Magic.’ I already love the short stories by the Gold Coast writers The Ten Penners, but being a total fan and author of mystery, mayhem and magic myself I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to chat with Jill about this exciting anthology for young readers. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jill as much as I have!

Special Announcement – book giveaway!!

There will be a giveaway of a copy of Mystery, Mayhem & Magic! At the end of the blog tour, those who have left a comment on this page, or on any of the other hosts’ pages during the blog tour, will be in the running to receive a free copy! The announcement of the winner will be at our book launch at Broadbeach Library on the 4th November

So, please make a comment to be in the running! Good luck!

MMM cover

First, a little bit of info about the anthology:

Mystery, Mayhem & Magic is an anthology of amazing adventures for young readers!

“Take a path through the forest of imagination into mysterious journeys filled with mayhem and a kaleidoscope of magical creatures.

2lorraine b drawing king ted.jpg


From the authors of “Shock! Horror! Gasp!” and “Fan-Tas-Tic-Al Tales”, “Mystery, Mayhem & Magic” is the new anthology written by the Ten Penners … Come and explore!”

The Ten Penners Logo by Starla


And onto the interview with Jill:

jill bio pic 2017 (1)

What kind of children’s stories did you write for Mystery, Mayhem & Magic?

I have nine stories in ‘Mystery, Mayhem & Magic.’ Six of these are about a little girl called Trinny who is three in the first adventure and just on five in last adventure, all based on two beautiful illustrations created by our dear friend and now passed former member Lorraine Blomberg who created the covers of The Ten Penners two previous books‘Shock, Horror, Gasp’ and ‘Fan-tas-tic-al Tales.’ I have two further stand-alone short stories in ‘Red Beard’s Treasure Hunt’ which is a follow-on episode of a story in Fan-tas-tic-al Tales called ‘The Night Witch’. Horseplay is the other and I wrote this for my granddaughters as they love horses. Finally, I wrote a novella called ‘The Real Deal’ about a boy who can fly.

How long have you been writing children’s stories?

I joined The Ten Penners in 2008 as a sub-group of Gold Coast Writers, firstly because they were closer than another sub-group The Southern Short Story Writers that I had been attending, and, because I wanted to push my writing in a direction I hadn’t been before. I’d never written children’s stories before that. So, I was pleased to be able to contribute six stories in the last anthology Fan-tas-tic-al Tales.

What other writings have you done?

I have written two Science Fiction booksDual Visionsand Vashla’s World which I aim to release on Amazon shortly. Dual Visions has been developed from an e-book with a very inexperienced edit through to a self-published book with Publicious and through to the current re-release after a rework with my writing mentor. I’ve also written a young adults science fiction manuscript called Microworld which will be my next publication project.

What have you had published and in what mediums?

I’m glad to say that I’ve read and reviewed many wonderful books by Australian authors for many years and been rewarded with copies of signed books by authors such as Peter Watt, Simon Higgins, Kim Wilkins, Michael Pryor, George Ivanoff, Colleen McCulloch, Darryl Greer, Lian Tanner, Kim Kane, Andy McDermott, Julie Baythorpe, Robyn Lee Burrows and many more. I also have a blog I showcase my book reviews, short stories and interviews with interesting authors. Many of my reviews are also published in online magazines such as Gold Coast Writers eWriteabout, Jackie Hoskings’ magazine PIO (Pass It On), which is circulated in schools around Australia. On occasions, The Reading Stack and Writing Queensland, a paper print magazine for Queensland Writers Centre, have also have published my reviews.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Editing and getting the story right. Being one of The Ten Penners, allows me to have my stories honestly critiqued, which always enhances a story. I’m also fortunate enough to have a writing mentor in my friend and multi-published author Robyn Lee Burrows who gives her time willingly to have me read and rework my manuscripts.

Thanks for joining me on the blog Jill!


Jill Smith loves adventures and has nine stories in this book for youngsters and the young at heart. Now a grandmother to two beautiful girls creating stories for them gives her great joy. A long-term member of The Ten Penners, presenting our books in schools, writing book reviews and reading is a huge part of her busy life. For more about Jill, follow her on her blog: Jill Smith

Enter the colouring competition for your chance to win a copy of the book. Results will be announced on the 4th November at our official book launch at Broadbeach Library.

Colouring In Competition

More about the Book

Want to read more about it? You can follow the blog tour:

15/10/17   Sunday -Marion Martineer – https://marionmartineer.wordpress.com/Dimity Powell – author The Fix-It Man http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

16/10/17    Monday– Yvonne Mes, www.yvonnemes.com Elaine Ousten – author Mystery of Nida Valley https://elaineoustonauthor.com/

17/10/17    Tuesday – Jill Smith – https://authorjillsmith.wordpress.com/

Candice Lemon-Scott, author https://candicelemonscott.com.au/

 18/10/17    Wednesday– Kate Russell – https://katharinerussell.wordpress.com./

Teena-Rafa Mulligan – In Their Own Write https://intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

 19/10/17   Thursday –

Julie Baythorpe https://juliebaythorpeauthor.wordpress.com/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward – Thoughts Become Words https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/

 20/10/17   Friday – Robin Adolphs   http://www.robinadolphs.com/

Artelle Lenthall www.journeygirlontheroadtopublication.com

 21/10/17    Saturday – The Ten Penners https://thetenpenners.wordpress.com/

The Ten Penners will be attending Gold Coast Writers Meeting to announce the book launch

23/10/17   Monday – Aleesah Darlison – author of Fox and Moonbeam-Greenleaf Press http://www.greenleafpress.net/

The Federal Government is proposing the removal of parallel importation restrictions (PIR). You can read more about what this is here. In a nutshell, lifting PIRs would devastate our Australian book industry as Australian authors would no longer receive full royalties (payment) on their books and Australian publishers and booksellers would be forced to compete against cheap, mass imports of books from overseas (including Australian titles).

I’ve had 11 books published with trade publishers, many that are on recommended reading lists, and still I work 25 hours a week while my husband works 40 plus to fund my writing and keep our young family fed and clothed and with a roof over our heads.

My ‘second job’ is owning a book store. As an independent bookseller it’s already difficult to compete against big chain department stores that can buy books at cheap, mass purchase discount prices. I do these jobs that barely pay the bills though because I love it, it makes me feel alive, and I feel I am contributing to society in the best way I can. If the proposed changes go ahead it will be impossible for me to continue writing and my business will fold. With book stores already struggling to survive amid rising rents, mass order discounts and online competitors, I see the end of the independent book store.

When that happens all we will see is mass produced, commercial books lacking any Australian flavour or cultural value. You won’t be able to walk into a book store and ask for a recommendation, to discuss your latest favourite read with another customer or meet and chat with authors who come in to do a signing or launch their book.

Likewise, authors will not be able to survive on already meagre incomes generated from books by receiving reduced royalties and new authors will not be able to be published at all as Australian publishers will struggle, and tightening belts means dropping less profitable titles.

I don’t want to read about America and American culture, I don’t want my kids to grow up calling me Mom instead of Mum. I want picture books that depict Australian animals, and where it is acceptable to show a baby’s bottom (unlike in the US). I want to read about our outback, to picture myself on the beaches described in the latest novel, and to learn about issues that affect us as Australians. I want the ‘u’ in colour, the double ‘l’ in travelled. I want to keep seeing our vibrant and talented Australian writing community continuing to thrive.

I want people who are passionate about story to keep writing. I want new writers to be able to spend time nurturing and developing their talents. I want to keep writing, keep reading, keep selling and keep talking about books. Because this is my passion, this is what I love, and in a democratic, free Australia we should all have the right to nurture our talents, to feed our souls, to contribute economically in the way we can best do that. Whatever happened to Australia being the ‘clever country?’ Without books we will never be that because no matter who we are, or what we do, we all learn through reading.

You can find out more and sign the petition here:



SA Premier's Reading Challenge


This week is Book Week. I hope you’re celebrating at school, at your library or by enjoying some quiet time with a favourite book, or perhaps one that’s read to you or that you read to someone else.

Book Week 2015

Here’s a little interview on YAtopia about the Jake in Space series and my writing process to celebrate.



Some photos from the launch of ‘Jake in Space: Saving Saturn’ at Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop in Brisbane that was held on Sunday, June 28, 2015.

Saving Saturn Book Launch


on Aussie Reviews

Jake dropped his old backpack in amazement. He couldn’t believe he was actually here at the Floating Hotel of Venus.

‘Wow! This is the best prize ever,’ a voice said.

Jake turned. It was Rory, who had just arrived from Mars with his mum and dad. And Rory was right – the hotel was even more incredible than Jake had heard. The foyer was round, with gleaming bronze pillars and walls that shimmered bright yellow like a golden waterfall.

Jake and his friends are on Venus staying at the unimaginably luxurious Floating Hotel of Venus courtesy of a reward for saving the world from being taken over by robots. But it’s not long before a new mystery finds them. The action quickly moves from deciding which luxury treat to have first, to who to trust and how to find out just who has dangerous secrets. There are fast vehicles and near misses, red herrings and volcanoes to be navigated. And as always, time is running out before catastrophe ensues. Chapter headings are illustrated and there is a flip space race happening across the bottom of each spread.

As if there’s not enough to be had on Earth, Jake and his friends, Rory, Henry, Skye and Milly, take the action off-Earth and into space. They are trained in space driving but more than that, the friends between them have the skills and insights necessary to solve all manner of mysteries. They don’t always get it right first time, but with teamwork, they consistently out-think and out-manoeuvre their foes. The stakes are high, and there is plenty of high-tech equipment at their disposal. These fast-paced adventures are ideal for newly independent readers.

Jake in Space: Volcanoes of Venus, Candice Lemon-Scott New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925059281

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller