All About Writing

SCBWI Queensland Meeting – Tips for Author School Visits

I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous SCBWI Queensland meeting last Sunday. By request, the topic was on tips for author school visits.

SCBWI Queensland branch

The panellists shared so much of their knowledge and experience with honesty and humour so I was very pleased to write a post gleaned from the copious amount of notes I took at the time, along with my fellow author, Dimity Powell. You can read about it here.

Panellists Peter Carnavas, Prue Mason, Charmaine Clancy, Pamela Rushby and Amanda Worlley, with Sheryl Gwyther, SCBWI Aust. E/NZ Assistant Regional Advisor.





All About Writing

Author Tag – A Little About Writing

I’ve been tagged by the very wonderful and talented Alison Reynolds. As she mentioned in tagging me, we first met in Queensland but soon found our connection to places and people, and events in Melbourne, was strangely uncanny. I love Alison’s work but even more so my kids adore her books (and rightly so since she writes for their age group). The Ranger in Danger series is a popular one with my eldest, who wants to be a ranger herself when she grows up. My youngest just adores Alison’s ‘A Year With Marmalade’ picture book. So much so my daughter ‘forced’ me to take a photo of her not just reading the book, but reading every single page of it.


Q1: What am I working on?

I am in the middle of writing a six book series of futuristic space adventure books. They’re to be published with New Frontier later this year and are chapter books aimed at 8 and ups. Boys especially will love them I bet, though my 8 year old daughter loves them too and wanted to me to write the next one last night (ahh, if only it were that easy).

Q2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I pretty much combine the ever popular space theme with a bit of mystery. I was a mad reader of mystery stories as a child so that element has definitely crept in with these books. Plus, there’s always a little smelly stuff to be had.

Q3: Why do I write what I write?

Because it’s fun. Seriously. I have an absolute blast getting my kid characters blasting off on their own adventures. I’m really enjoying something that is set in a fantastical place in a fantastical time because anything can exist there and anything is possible.

Q4: How does my writing process work?

Hmmm, I wouldn’t really call it a process because I don’t really plan anything. I have no real book outline, or writing schedule and my desk is always a mess with ideas and scraps of paper everywhere. To me, writing happens when some strange part of my brain tells me what and when to write (not always convenient when you have children to pick up from school). That said, I did have to plan this series out and I do have deadlines to meet – eek!

My latest book, also in the sci-fi genre:

The Day the Energies Saved the World

Now it’s time for me to play chasey! I tag:

Ashleigh Randall 

Ashleigh is a passionate writer who I first met because she couldn’t attend my workshop on pitching to publishers. To explain, she got in touch with me after she missed it and we caught up for coffee instead. Ashleigh is a blogger and she is writing her first full-length book. I can’t wait to read it when it’s finished.

Marina Cook

Marina is my dear and ‘oldest’ friend. We have known each other since primary school and believe me that was a long time ago, it’s sadly true. She is also a fellow writer and was part of my writer’s group. She is now the editor for the Foothills newspaper and is a very talented writer in her own right.

What's New

Mr Abbott, Won’t You Please Leave Our Children an Underwater Kingdom?

Sometimes life is made of the stuff of fairytales. My youngest daughter is five. She lives for fairytales. She loves princesses and fairies, unicorns and all creatures, great and small. Her favourite stories are those about mermaids and underwater kingdoms. As we sit up in her bed together each evening, a storybook in hand, we are taken to magical worlds under the sea. Here the clear waters, covering the spectrum of blues and greens, team with the vibrancy of colourful fish, sleek sharks, bright corals. We delight in the images of seahorses, turtles, octopi, starfish, stingrays, crabs and other sea species. And yes, there is usually a mermaid, and a castle or two.

I remember such a place. Not one of dreams or fairytales but of real life. You may have heard of it. In fact, it’s such a magnificent, indescribably beautiful place, that it’s been classified as a Natural Wonder of the World. It’s called the Great Barrier Reef. An underwater wonderland, there is no other place that teems with such brilliance of colour, life, diversity and beauty.
But as in all fairytales there is an evil threat looming. One that threatens to destroy all that is good and natural, rare and uniquely special. It is hard to fathom that a natural wonder of our world is under very real threat from the senseless dumping of dredge materials.
In fairytales that which should be preserved is always saved. The people of the magical worlds bring down the evil threat and stop it once and for all. My hope is that Australians, and the world, unite against this and that we can have our happily ever after. I am only one small voice in a vast sea but join those small voices together and we can roar like the ocean.

You can sign a petition here.



All About Writing

Blog Hop 2014

I’ve been tagged to take part in the first 2014 blog hop by the fabulously talented author — Vacen Taylor. You can check out her answers here.

blog hop

These are my responses to the questions here. It’s interesting to shoot around to the different blog and see how all writers approach their work differently so it was great fun taking part!

1) If you could achieve anything with your writing in 2014, what would it be?

Complete the space adventure books for my kids’ series that’s coming out in two parts, mid-year and by the end of the year.

2) What are the top 3 demons you must slay to achieve your goals in 2014?

  • The ticking clock
  • My inner critic
  • The procrastinator

 3) Name 3 things that inspire you to write.

  • People
  • Places
  • Possibilities

 4) What advice do you have to a new writer who is considering writing fiction?

Write from the heart first and save the editing for later. Then just go for it!
Follow the blog hop tour here with more answers from other writers here:

Ashleigh Randall

Bekki Burns

Julia Schafer

Out & About

Book Links – ‘Romancing the Stars’


This year I’m ditching my husband to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Book Links Inc (Qld), the Centre for Children’s Literature.  In what’s shaping up to be a fun night of music, book launches and scrumptious food, I’m very excited to be taking part in this special night. What better day to celebrate the love and passion for books and writing. Aptly titled, ‘Romancing the Stars,’ over the course of the evening, guests have the opportunity to ‘speed date’ an author. I for one can’t think of a more enjoyable way to talk about books and the writing process. If you’re thinking of coming along, it’s a great chance to chat with authors you know well and perhaps find out a little more about some you don’t know so much about. So, if you’d like to come along to this exciting event, please click on the link and get your form in before it sells out.

Romancing the Stars


Look forward to seeing you on the 14th Feb :).



All Things Books

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to take part in ‘The Next Big Thing’ – a blog chain which gives authors and artists the chance to provide a sneak peek of their work-in-progress. It’s pretty appropriately named – don’t we all hope our work will indeed become ‘the next big thing’? But also it’s a lovely opportunity to reflect on and share a little of our latest projects – for me, this is perhaps the first stage of  letting go of my baby as it takes those tentative first steps into the world. Big thanks to my fellow author at Odyssey Books, Rebecca Bloomer, for including me in the blog chain. Here’s a bit about my upcoming novel:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
A friend of mine sent me a photograph of the Clearwing butterfly a few years ago. It was beautiful but what appealed to me most was the description of how things look and how colours are enhanced looking through the Clearwing’s translucent wings. I always had this image in mind, but when my main character, Jett, came along I knew it represented him and the life journey he goes on – finding beauty amid ugly life circumstances.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
My current novel, Unloched, is a contemporary fiction novel for adults. Clearwing will be geared more towards a young adult (YA) audience.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Jett would be played by someone like Sean Keenan, who starred as Gary Hennessy in Puberty Blues. The girl Linda, who Jett meets and falls in love with, appears at first as an angel. So she’d have to have an angelic quality to her – someone like Rachel Hurd-Wood who featured in Tomorrow: When the War Began would be perfect.

Sean Keenan

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Clearwing is the story of small town Aussie teen, Jett, who battles between following the path of his alcoholic father and choosing his own direction, as his life spirals out of control.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither, it will be traditionally published.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
My second daughter was just a baby when I wrote this book so I had one session every week to write. It took me about a year to complete.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Not too sure, as there’s not a lot out of ‘real life’ stories out there for the YA audience right now with the focus on fantasy novels. In some ways, I think Clearwing could be compared to the Tomorrow series by John Marsden because in both the characters show the strength and resilience of teenagers and how it’s that time of deciding who you want to be as a person despite everything life can throw at you.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
There were three things that inspired me to write this book. The first was the Clearwing photograph I mentioned. The second was Jett, who began as a teenager telling his point of view from the stance of being a bully (That first ‘fight’ scene made me wonder what kind of background that kid had and the kind of life choices he might have to face). Lastly, the setting was inspired by a small, country town where I used to take dance classes as a teenager. As I delved into the history of the town, my character Jett emerged more fully.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I hope that young adults will be interested in the journey of the characters and the questions it raises about the people who come into our lives and how they can help shape who we become.

Thanks for reading!

Follow the Blog Chain here:

Terri-ann Varga: Writer, Artist & Photographer

Vacen Taylor: Author

Michelle Worthington: Author

Alison Stegert: Writer

Rebecca Burns: Writer

All About Writing

The Stringybark Young Adult Fiction Award 2013

Do you have what it takes to write a story that will engage a member of the iPad generation?  Can you get a young adult to switch off their iPad (well at least stop playing games) and instead focus on your writing?  If so, why not enter the Stringybark Young Adult Fiction Award 2013.  Aimed at the YA market (ages 12-18) we would love to hear from you. As long as it is in 1500 words or fewer.  The story must have a link (no matter how tenuous) to Australia.  The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16 and living on planet earth.
There is a total of $770 worth of prizes in cash and books available — plus publication for place-getters and highly commended authors.  There is an entry fee of $9.95 (discounts for multiple entries).  Closing date 13 January 2013.   Details: Stringybark Young Adult Fiction Award 2013.
Results of the Stringybark Flash and Microfiction Awards 2012

On 11 November 2012, the judges announced the winning stories in the Stringybark Flash and Microfiction Awards.  John Poole (NSW) won the flash fiction competition with his wickedly clever story, Behind the Wattles.  Queenslander, Kerry Whalen won the microfiction competition with her introspective tale, The Question.  Other place getters were Jacqui Halpin (Queensland), Graham D’Elboux (NSW), Otto Fischer (NSW) and Martin Lindsay (WA) The winning and highly commended entries are now available in a new anthology Behind the Wattles.
A full list of the place-winner and highly commended authors  can be found on the website: Stringybark Flash and Microfiction Awards.