Plinko colouring competition Winner…

Plinko bedtimeOn the 2nd May, Marion and Jill went to Burleigh Heads Primary School and were delighted to be able to share our experience of being part of a group writing for children with such inquisitive minds. They asked great questions and were happy to see Plinko sitting in the corner of the room on the day.

Jenna 8 BHPS Plinko colouring comp winnerWe offered the students the opportunity to win a copy of our latest anthology through a colouring competition.

After Plinko took a look at all the entries, although she was flattered with all the very beautiful entries, this was her favourite.

Jenna aged 8 will be receiving a copy of Mystery, Mayhem & Magic from The Ten Penners.

Special thanks to Janina and all the wonderful support staff at Burleigh Heads Primary School for making the day a magical memory.   – Jill

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Somerset Celebration of Literature Part 2

Summary of my day at Somerset 15th March 2018 – Part Two By Jill Smith©May 2018

This session was in the Performing Arts Centre which I had to dash to as my session with Jaclyn ended at 10 am and this started at 10.15am. This is a day of running from one place to the next, which makes the whole experience immersive. I love soaking up the vibes of this beautiful school and seeing the kids’ faces as I walk past and they either go from class to class.

Jackie-French-bio pic 2

10.15 to 11 Jackie French

Jackie French AM is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator and was the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014-2015 and the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. In 2016 Jackie became a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to children’s literature and her advocacy for youth literacy. She is regarded as one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors and writes across all genres – from picture books, history, fantasy, ecology and sci-fi to her much loved historical fiction. ‘Share a Story’ was the primary philosophy behind Jackie’s diary of a wombat cover jackie french illus bruce whatleytwo-year term as Laureate.

I arrived at the venue with only a hand full of people in the first couple of rows. I quickly joined them as Jackie was already on stage with two students waiting to do the formal introduction.

Jackie asked, ‘Does anyone have any questions while we’re waiting for the students to arrive?’ Who would say no to that offer? So she began –pennies for hitler cover jackie french

‘Pennies for Hitler’ is a book she wrote because many people she knew in her early life had survived being interned during the Second World War. This experience as a three-year-old left her wanting to write about it. It screamed at her, this is not as simple as goodies and baddies, there were many grey areas. Every solution is going to cause pain for someone. Whenever you think something is simple, you’ve probably oversimplified.

Then she was introduced by the students:- Jackie is an Australian Author, Historian. She loves wombats, has dyslexia and writes Historical fiction.

hitlers daughter cover jackie frenchShe began by asking the students who thought books were boring. Then she made a bet with everyone in the audience that every child there who thought this will want to read when they are engaged. She said that publishers spend a lot of money on the covers to get the attention of young readers. Then she suggested that if you want a magic potion, to make you better at school, (up to 15 IQ points better), you can by reading. That readers younger than 24 with every book they read, can increase their IQ and therefore makes you more intelligent.

Understand – What if? She had dismissed zombie stories for years, but, she’d been enticed to read them and she discovered Zombies are human but not quite human – thinking about this stretches your brain.Author_Jackie_French bio pic

Read it because you enjoy it. At school – sometimes they have to read – rather than want to read. Be honest about a book.  Imagery makes the book better, only the image is too weak will the book fail.

Jackie explained she writes about things that move her; about courage, compassion, and innovation. We are all descended from the hero’s going back through history, man has always been heroic.

She is never bored. She wants to write books kids can read in one sitting.

Be very wary of people who make you angry, hatred is contagious – Hitler is a good example of this.

She then read excerpts from her Hitler Books.

She then implored the audience, especially the students to stand up and say ‘This is wrong!’ against the slappers. We owe the soldiers who sacrificed so much for us that.

fire cover jackie french illus bruce whatleyThere are different kinds of wars. She experienced a battle facing bushfires. Where she along with a few friends, only five people, battled a blaze for two days and two nights, till they put it out. She met a blind girl who helped because she could feel the air on her skin, she was able to save the horses, although the sighted people couldn’t see through the black ash in the air, the blind girl could tell the direction the fire was coming from.  She wrote a book from experience fighting fires, based on real things. When people are facing their hardest struggles, people do wonderful things.

Another character that Jackie researched to write about was Miss Gilly. She was not a Goodbye Mr Hitler by Jackie french coverlonely lady but was never recognised, as WWI ambulance and hospitals were manned by women who never were acknowledged by the war. This woman was a cross between James Bond and Downtown Abbey.

The session ended all too quickly and I fervently believe that any of the students taking up the Jackie French challenge will grow in intelligence and enjoyment of life.

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Somerset Celebration of Literature 2018

It’s already May and I’ve been posting about school visits and reading the books I bought at Somerset Celebration of Literature. Now here is the first part of my rundown on the day. More to come.

Summary of my day at Somerset 15th March 2018 – Part One By Jill Smith©May 2018

Combining what I’ve previously put on my blog about the day, each person’s bio in the Somerset Programme. Then I’m going to say what I saw and what I thought. I hope this will give you insight into the day I experienced. I’ll need to do this in daily segments as each session was about 45 minutes long and I wrote copious notes. 

moriarty-jaclyn-bio pic9.15 to 10 Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty is well-known as the prize-winning, bestselling author of novels for young adults (and sometimes for slightly older adults). A former media and entertainment lawyer, Jaclyn’s books include the Ashbury-Brookfield series and the Colours of Madeleine trilogy. The first two books in that trilogy were both awarded the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the Queensland Literary Award.

The first thing on entering the venue was a book cover on the screen – The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. She explained a bit about why Bronte grew up with her aunty.

cover The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte MettlestoneI loved how she explained a little about her life but had the kids wondering how she learned to stand up to a bully, and how she learned to swear. This story had the students in the palm of her hand.

Jaclyn then explained that she was one of six kids and to receive their pocket money they each had to tell a story. Every night before she went to sleep she told a story.

As you get older people tell you YOU CAN’T rather than YOU CAN. She always wanted tofeeling sorry for celia cover jaclyn moriarty prove them wrong and become a writer. She studied law and waited till she became a Lawyer, then she would write a book. She decided she wanted to be a writer in England, she moved to Australia. She was a Lawyer in Sydney when the 2000 Olympics were on. The Olympic Torch relay went past her building. She didn’t want to wait anymore, that was when she decided to try again.

Then she wrote a book. Her first book was Feeling Sorry of Celia.

Jaclyn then brought up images of the different covers of her book – The Australian cover, the English cover and the American cover. She asked the kids which they liked best.

She went on to explain her love of colours and their meanings –

Green – loves nature, good heart, fresh rainforest, people feel calm

Blue – heal or cure illness, very friendly, good to friends

Yellow – least likely peoples favourite colour, babies cry, studying and optimistic, her favourite colour

Red – Smart, danger, makes you feel warm

A-Corner-of-White coverMy notes became a bit disjointed at this point as I became as engrossed as Jaclyn’s audience.

Jaclyn said she always writes a plan. She said her sister (Laine) never plans, she just writes.

She has a blue bowl filled with chocolates and strawberries on her desk when she writes. She walks across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and back. She wrote a chapter on a cliff. Her favourite smell is cinnamon. Smells evoke memories. She draws on these memories to write.

Jaclyn asked the students what were their earliest memories were?

The answers were interesting and demonstrated where ideas for stories can come from.

A – One said they remember being in a high chair, she threw fruit on the floor and wondering why everyone was looking at her.

A – said she drew on his sisters’ picture even though she was told not to. Jaclyn said that was a moment of defiance.

A – one said adults asked him how he could draw sitting on a couch, he said it’s my spot.

A – Another said first memory was the shock of falling out of a boat.

A – uttered a first full sentence in the back of the car, only having said words to this point, and his mum nearly had an accident.Jacklyn Moriarty bio black and white

Jaclyn said these are all triggers. When she writes she asks – what is this characters earliest memory? Why? How could that make the character who they are?

Questions at the end of the session from the students –

Q – What’s the difference between Australian and American writing?

A – Places may sound strange to Americans – she wrote in one book about a cliff at The Gap – American clothing company called The Gap – confusing to them. In Australia, we use some bad language and Americans don’t like that. Different spelling in some cases and different meanings such as in Australia we say kitchen bench while in America that’s a chair to sit on.

This session went very quickly and I enjoyed it immensely. I’d already purchased A Corner of White, I asked her to sign it before leaving, knowing that at the bookshop there can be long ques for signatures and I did have the next session to go to. I’d already read the blurb and first chapter while waiting to get into the Seniors Common room at the start of the day. You can see my review on the Book Reviews Children’s/YA’s tab.



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PLINKO has arrived…

PLINKO 1May18Plinko has been preened and fixed up to look her beautiful best for The Ten Penners visit to Burleigh Heads Primary school tomorrow.

Marion and I will be talking to three different groups of children and we hope they’ll love PLINKO as much as we do.

Julie Baythorpe created PLINKO in two stories between the covers of The Ten Penners latest anthology Mystery, Mayhem & Magic. There will be a colouring competition and prizes for those children who answer our questions correctly.

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Camp NaNoWriMo April 2018

OK, so I’m not going to finish editing my 2015 NaNoWriMo manuscript Microworld, well not by the end of April. I will get it done soon though.domes image for microworld edit Camp NaNoWriMo Apr18

I have re-read it, I’ve figured out where it doesn’t work and what I need to fix it. I’ve edited some of it and decided I may need to change from Chapters to Parts as it fits withCamp-2018-Writer-Profile-Photo the story better. That’s a win even though I won’t complete it! I’ve already let my writing mentor Robyn Burrows know that I’ll be drawing on her expertise again for the final edit of this book. Meantime I’ll finish my first edit using all her valuable tips and hopefully, it will be much easier to Steph Bowe bio pic 2polish.

What have I been doing?

Reading, writing book reviews, and now writing up my day at Somerset for another blog post. I was also delighted to be able to contact Steph Bowe who I’d met at Somerset to do her interview by email. She’s definitely someone to follow as she’s bound to do lots more writing of intriguing stories.

PLINKO needing repairAs a member of The Ten Penners adults writing for children subgroup of Gold Coast Writers, I’ve been planning more school visits. We launched our children’s anthology called Mystery, Mayhem & Magic last year. Our next visit is next Wednesday to Burleigh Heads Primary School.patched up PLINKO ears fixed

The day will be made more joyous with the presence of our mascot PLINKO. One of our members Julie created the PLINKO stories and her paper mache version of her little alien. She wore it to our book launch. I’m now resurrecting a slightly battered head and putting it on a stand with the clothes she wore, this mascot will stand at the front of the classroom when we do school visits. Above is broken PLINKO and right is patched PLINKO with straight ears.

Now back to my Somerset summary of my day Thursday 15th March 2018 – yes over a month ago already!

Happy reading and writing my blog following friends!


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Interview with Steph Bowe…

This will appear on the Interviews Gals tab also. This young 24-year-old has already written three great books YA novels NIGHT SWIMMING (Text Publishing, April 2017), ALL THIS COULD END and GIRL SAVES BOY. What an inspiration to writers who think they can’t get published. I’ve read ALL THIS COULD END and can only say that Steph has a unique and fresh approach that I loved.

Steph Bowe bio picQ 1      When did you start writing?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember – before I actually knew how to write words I scribbled nonsense into notebooks. I decided I wanted to be an author when I was 7 – I was a pretty serious 7-year-old.

Q 2      What were your first writing efforts?

I first tried writing a novel when I was 7 and enamoured with Enid Blyton books – my first? novel? was a very thinly-veiled Magic Faraway Tree-inspired story that was essentially about a magic faraway escalator.girl saves boy steph bowe novel cover

Q3       Your blog says you write for young adults? Have you written children’s or any other genre?

I’ve been writing (or trying to write) Young Adult fiction since I first started reading it when I was around 11. I think my earlier efforts would have been more like children’s fiction. I have yet to branch out into other genres, though I would like to at some stage.

all this could end by Steph BoweQ4       At Somerset you said you started with your blog, then you wrote your book. Did you get an agent because you had a blog?

I think that the contacts I made through my blog and the fact that I could demonstrate my passion for YA and my ability to promote my work both worked in my favour – but I don’t think I would have been able to find representation had the book not been good enough. The work itself is what really matters.

Q5       What do you gain most out of attending writing Steph Bowe bio pic 2festivals?

Writing is an isolating profession and you rarely get to speak to your audience directly, so actually getting to present to kids and talk about books and literature is a lot of fun, and I think helps to remind me why I write the kind of books I do. (Plus it is awesome to meet kids who have actually read my books, and getting to sign books remains a really terrific – and surreal – NightSwimming StephBowehighlight.)

Q6       Do you draw from your own life experiences/family/places to write?

Absolutely! Sometimes in quite direct ways – in Night Swimming, the character of Kirby’s grandfather is heavily based on someone in my family who has dementia – and sometimes more indirectly – in All This Could End, Nina’s parents are bank robbers, which is not from my own life, but I drew on my own feelings of being loyal to family, as well as that process of growing up and realising that your parents aren’t perfect and that adults don’t know everything. (It’s a little more extreme for Nina but it’s still essentially the same emotional experience.)steph bowe bio pic 3

Q7       When you wrote Girl Saves Boy did you approach an agent?

When I finished writing Girl Saves Boy, I queried a few agents based on recommendations from another writer and ended up signing with an agent who had requested my manuscript through a contest on a blog. With a previous novel, I had submitted to a few publishers and had received some very kind rejection letters.

Q8       How long after Girl Saves Boy did you write All this Could End and Night Swimming?

I wrote Girl Saves Boy when I was 15, and All This Could End and Night Swimming was predominantly written when I was 17 and 21, respectively.

Q8       Do you think of your audience when you write or do you write for your teenage self?

It’s a mix of both for me and it also depends on the novel – when I wrote Night Swimming I very much had my teenage self in mind, but with my other novels, I wasn’t as specific. I think tapping into the things I experienced as a teenager is useful for those universal experiences, but it’s important not to be too centred on my own experience, I think – and working with teenagers helps with having a sense of what they’re looking for in books and what is relevant to their lives.

destroying the joint steph bowe

Q9     Do you write short stories or articles?

I have always tried to write short stories but I don’t think I am succinct enough – they always turn into novels. I have written plenty of articles, though – writing about YA literature and youth issues. I also had an essay on feminism in Destroying the Joint: Why Women Have to Change the World (UQP, 2013).

Q10      Where do you see your writing career taking you?


I’m very much at a stage now, where I’m focused on the process of writing and enjoying that as much as I can and not really thinking about my goals down the line! I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities – to visit schools and libraries and festivals, and travel and meet awesome readers and writers and teachers and librarians – so it’s been terrific so far.

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The second book I bought at Somerset…

all this could end by Steph BoweAll This Could End

This story brings the awkwardness of being teenagers, the drama of normal daily life and the influences parents have on their lives to the fore with raw intensity.

Who would know that Nina doesn’t have a Steph Bowe bio picnormal family? Why would Spencer even suspect Nina of being anything other than an enchanting new girl at school? How their daily lives have become, by necessity, an exercise in keeping secrets? The collision course they are on to move to the next level makes this story a page-turner.

Steph Bowe is fresh in her thinking. She is still young enough to infuse the teenage perspective, I love that.

I’ll put a full review up shortly, but, suffice to say I loved this book.

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