Book Launch – Under the Fig Tree

julie at her book launch Sept17An avid reader of good Australian authors, I’m pleased to add my friend and fellow Ten Penner Julie Baythorpe to my must read list.

Last Sunday I was delighted to be able to attend under the fig tree coverher book launch of ‘Under the Fig Tree’ another in her Reid Devron murder mystery series.

The first was ‘The Lavender Principal’, which I’ve read and reviewed already but am now reposting as I’ve now purchased the second in this series called ‘Silo Deadfall’, which I am also looking forward to reading and reviewing.

The Lavender Principal coverBook Review by Jill Smith ©April 2011

Title: The Lavender Principal…an outback murder mystery


I found this book wonderfully written, highlighting the uniqueness of Australia. The rugged outback and its equally stoic communities and people spread out in a vast landscape make this murder mystery all the more tantalizing. With the school activities the social focus of the community, the school principal is an important, if transient, community member. The relationships between families and the local school Principal are unbalanced, when Reid Devron, starts asking questions. The dialogue in the local vernacular really draws the reader into the drama. Who did murder Neil Addison, and why?

At Somerset Literary Festival this year, I was disappointed to hear one prominent international author say she despaired for those who wrote from an Australian view point. I disagree with this and say that Australia is a setting, a character in itself, so why should we not write about this country and its people, as they are what we know?

I loved this unique Australian story and feel that it has a place on any bookshelf. Like Lillian Beckwith, her stories are based in small communities in the isolated New Hebrides, people around the world may not live in the climate or community described, but, they can read and enjoy the human experience there.

Julie Baythorpe



Julie Baythorpe was born in Sydney and grew up in Brisbane, she moved to the Gold Coast in 1985. She has been writing all her life. She has taught creative writing both as a teacher and a principal in classrooms across Queensland. Clearly, she draws from her experience in outlining the daily running of a small rural school.

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Under the Fig Tree a Reid Devron Mystery reviewed by Jill Smith

under the fig tree coverReid Devron carries on life as a Principal of a small school, this time in an outer Brisbane area.

The school gardener is found dead under the fig tree. Who julie-baythorpemurdered him and why? Being a curious chap Reid starts to investigate, even though the police don’t want his assistance.

Reid likes his current job but, wants to be with his fiance Meg. She wants to stay on the land 500 kilometres away, and wants him back in the outback and running a small school. When he finally gets to have a weekend with her in Brisbane a new sinister turn in the murder investigation takes place. Is Meg safe? Is this something to do with the school?

This is a great read, written by my friend and fellow Ten Penner Julie. I recommend it!

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New book ~ ‘Ballyhoo and Babble’

Julie gives us great enjoyment with this book and her Reid Devron murder mysteries

Julie gives us great enjoyment with this book and her Reid Devron murder mysteries

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Google The Ten Penners – impressive!

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Cover reveal…Mystery, Mayhem & Magic

MMM coverThe Ten Penners meeting today was another productive one.

We heard the last of the Kai stories by Kate Russell. These tales are sure to have kids enjoying the rib tickling antics of this young man!

We had a professional headshot taken with a proper camera and discussed upcoming promotion of the new book Mystery, Mayhem & Magic.

And now, drum roll….. The Cover Reveal!! Thanks to Starla Martineer for the cover design and photography!

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Ruben by Bruce Whatley reviewed by Jill Smith

Ruben coverThis is an amazing book. A children’s picture book is hardly a true description.

I love every detailed drawing, every feature that Ruben abides in.

Everything black and white and grey, especially the shadows. Ruben is safe in the shadows of Block City. His life changes when he decides that he has to go outside of the section of the city he knows. He moves carefully through the dead world to the train terminus. There was always a train coming. He hid watching the train being unloaded by the machines. The streets in this part of the city were different, higher, darker. He was not comfortable.Bruce Whatley illustrator

That’s when he sees a movement on the other side of the street. A small figure just like him.

They stay hidden from Controllers and The Listeners. All robotic human figures. Together they moved to places Ruben hadn’t been before. Through a maze of cogs and machinery, through the engine room, past the Sweepers. The train carriages were locked, there was no way out of Block City.

Bruce Whatley RubenThey rested together in her safe place, in a space between things, before Ruben left to go back to his safe place. It didn’t seem so safe now.

The Epilogue is brilliant with Ruben and Koji in the train carriage and Ruben with a copy of Gulliver’s Travels in his pocket.

This is a picture book for everyone who hopes and dreams to go beyond a dark and frightening world and move onto new places.

Thanks, Bruce Whatley.

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Mystery, Mayhem & Magic…


The Ten Penners Aug17 meetingToday’s meeting of The Ten Penners was inspiring, full of discussion about covers and promoting our book with media kits, social media, and marketing.

We brainstormed possible ideas for our synopsis/blurb.

This is what I came up with. Not the best of the bunch but it’s a start.

Mystery, Mayhem & Magic is an anthology of stories and more by the creative adults writing for children’s group The Ten Penners, following on from their previous books ‘Shock, Horror, Gasp’ and ‘Fan-tas-tic-al Tales’. Adventures abound with pirates, spiders, aliens, dragons, witches, a boy who can fly, a baby with attitude, a magical teddy bear and much more in virtual worlds. Take the path through the forest of imagination. Come and explore!

Here is our new logo

The Ten Penners Logo by Starla


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