Camp NaNoWriMo update – day 3

I’ve started with slow and steady progress, Day 1 – 1st April 2 hours = 2000,

Day 2 – 2nd April 1 1/2 hours 1500 words,

and today 3rd April 1 1/2 hours so far adding 1500 words to the overall total – 5000 words.

I’ve downloaded the logo and am enjoying my book re-edit.

Happy writing or editing everyone.

Stay safe. – Jill

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Camp NaNoWriMo and how to survive coronavirus

Camp NaNoWriMo has provided a Self Care checklist daily leading up to starting the month of April with your project. I’m editing again as I’ve several manuscripts that need shaping up. I’ll be updating as I go.

It appears that every day we are being bombarded with bad news, however, the curve is flattening and abiding by the Government measures we can see that we are helping save lives.

It’s wonderful to see the good news stories, singers on balconies in Italy with the housebound neighbours singing. Hands clapping in praise of health workers.

Locally, our Aussie creatives have some wonderful offerings for us, both on the craft and drawing front with tutorials on books and writing.

George Ivanoff – Videos and Virtual Visits – I’m a big fan of his books

Book promotions are still happening such as ‘Scribbly Gum Secrets’

On the funny side – check out Jenny Wynter, Comedian on Facebook video – it’s hilarious!  

What a Great Teacher Mummy Can Be!

We had a catch up with our friends with a Zoom meeting. We played games and laughed a lot. You can still virtually hug those wonderful people who make your life such fun.

Stay safe everyone! We’re home and keeping busy, we’ll get through this thing together.  – Jill

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League of Llamas – The Golden Llama and Llama Impossible

Available from all good bookstores: visit www.penguin.com.au for more information. @AleesahDarlison @PenguinKidsAustralia @PuffinBooksAus

 

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar20

Title: League of Llamas – The Golden Llama

Author: Aleesah Darlison Award-Winning Author, Guest Speaker and Owner of Greenleaf Press www.aleesahdarlison.com

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Phillipe Llamar is LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011. He’s handsome and has a magnificent head of beautiful hair and a fringe he constantly combs to dazzle everyone around. He also has a terrible memory. He’s at General Bottomburps’ party to steal some secrets. The General along with his Badger buddies are renowned for their potent very smelly bottom burps. He’s up to no good and Phillipe intends to find the evidence. With the aid of his sidekick Lloyd Llamanator, aka agent 0013, (who has a good memory), Phillipe breaks the General’s computer code and gets hold of the incriminating evidence. He burns this to a USB and swallows it to escape. Fortunately, they have a hidden Llamaborghini to drive away in.

They leave with more questions than answers. Such as: Who is the lovely lady llama in red? How are they going to get the USB out of Phillipe? The answer to this comes with the Turbo Llama Lax Incident (which needs to be read to understand the sheer hilarity). Mama Llama explains the USB shows that General Bottomburp has committed the utterly unthinkable crime of stealing The Golden Llama, (a symbol of the nation and the freedom for Llamas to spit.) Phillipe and Lloyd set out to recover the statue to avoid a spitting war by returning the statue to the Musee du Llama.

This Bond parody has all the elements kids love, such as farting and spitting together with lots of cleaver gadgets (that almost work) and dramatic twists and turns.

The illustrations by Simon Greiner of Phillipe in disguise, the lovely Lady Llama in red, the Llamaborghini and General Bottomburp, and the all-important League of Llamas logo to name a few, enhance the book. Particularly the very James Bond, (I’m a handsome Phillipe with gorgeous fringe on the front cover image), together with the Llama play on words which makes the whole book one ready to capture the imagination of youngsters worldwide.

I chortled through this book from the first sentence to the last. I look forward to reading the whole series including League of Llamas – Llama impossible, League of Llamas – Undercover Llamas and League of Llamas – Rogue Llama. Then I’ll be happy to pass these books onto my granddaughters to enjoy.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar2

Title: League of Llamas – Llama Impossible

Author: Aleesah Darlison

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Action-packed from the first sentence. A runaway train, an unconscious train driver, and speed building as the train hurtles through one station after another. Luckily Phillipe Llamar LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011 is cruising overhead in his Llamaborghini and he decides to jump on board to stop the train. He jumps out landing on the roof of the train and is met by a gecko in singlet and jeans who has a resemblance to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Geckoson with freaky eyeball licking action. After a near-death experience, Phillipe gets to the front of the train to save the day.

When he gets back to Mama Llama’s office eleven floors underneath Mount Killamanjaro he discovers there’s more trouble in New Llama City. The train brakes had been cut at the same time as a massive robbery. Mama Llama sends her top agents Phillipe and Lloyd to investigate. She’s also sending Agent 0077 with them, Elloise is the Llama in red. They all go to the bank to see what happened. Phillipe and Lloyd cause a mess while investigating, (this is another laugh out loud moment among many in the book). Mama Llama gets an emergency call from the New Llama City Fire Chief. A fire had been deliberately lit. Were all these things coincidences?

All the evidence from the speeding train, bank robbery and dazzling diamond heist points to General Bottomburp. Is this a setup? At the bank, they meet Mr Itchee Kneebone, a property developer and fine art collector. This plump guinea pig was making sure his money was safe. He also invites them to his home to give them information. Bottomburp had gone into hiding, Kneebone tells Phillipe they might find him in Papua New Guinea Pig. On the island, they are captured and put in a pot by guinea pigs. Captain Archie the leader told them they weren’t vegetarians. Itchee Kneebone arrives and scolds his brother Archie and they are released. Phillipe finds Bottomburp and he goes to talk to the villain. He says he’s innocent and that he has bodyguards coming. They must rethink what’s been happening. Could a cuddly, kindly guinea pig with money and a mansion, be the real culprit? When all three agents work together, they discover the truth.

This is the second book in Aleesah Darlison’s League of Llamas series. And equally hilarious as the first with her play on words and crazy Llama antics. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and then deliver them to my granddaughters to enjoy. – Jill

 

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Somerset StoryFest has been cancelled

Usually, at this time of year I post the exciting list of authors sessions I intend to see. That was what was going to happen tomorrow.

I was to see Ursula Dubosarsky, TC  Shelly, Jess Hill, Bruce Whatley (I was taking my copy of Ruben for him to sign), and Gabrielle Tozer.

Ursula Dubosarky Award-winning Australian children’s author Ursula Dubosarsky has won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award a record five times as well as the Victorian, Queensland and South Australian state awards for literature. She is the twelve times CBCA shortlisted author of 50 books for children and young adults. Internationally she has been nominated for both the Hans Christian Andersen and Astrid Lindgren awards. She has a PhD in English literature and lives in Sydney.

T.C. Shelley studied Creative Writing and Literature at university. She has been teaching English for over twenty years and her first school was classified as the most remote in Australia. She began writing novels to entertain her daughter, who wisely suggested that she try to get them published. The Monster Who Wasn’t is her first published novel. Her next book, The Werewolves Who Weren’t, will publish in August. Shelley lives with her husband, her daughter and two dogs in Perth.

Jess Hill is an investigative journalist who has been writing about domestic violence since 2014. Prior to this, she was a producer for ABC Radio, a Middle East correspondent for The Global Mail, and an investigative journalist for Background Briefing. She was listed in Foreign Policy’s top 100 women to follow on Twitter, and her reporting on domestic violence has won two Walkley awards, an Amnesty International award and three Our Watch awards.

Bruce Whatley – Bruce jumped into the unknown world of picture books after a career in advertising as an illustrator and art director working in London then Sydney. Since 1992 Bruce has written and/or illustrated over 80 children’s picture books. Though based in Australia his work is published internationally and in 2014 was included in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Exhibition.

Gabrielle Tozer is an award-winning and internationally published author and freelance writer based in regional New South Wales, Australia. She has published six books, including the young adult novels, Remind Me How This Ends, which was on the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2018 Notable list and longlisted for the State Library of Victoria’s 2018 Gold Inky Award, Faking It and The Intern, which won the 2015 Gold Inky Award.

As you can see this would have been a great day, inspirational, motivational and exciting for me. However, due to this Coronavirus, I received an email saying the event has been cancelled.

I’m not going to say more about this other than to wish everyone well, wash your hands, don’t shake hands, stay away from crowds, but continue to live.

Writing continues, this is a joy that will abide. We can get through this health crisis as a country, and member of the worldwide population.

Here is my Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar20

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks

Rosamund Tomkins enters the world smiling. The midwives believe she will have a charmed life. Her early life living with her strict but caring grandmother Lady Ellinor Tomkins, at Bearwood Manor, are happy days. She laughed a lot then.

The story opens nine years after her grandmother dies and her mother Tilly, who had deserted her at birth, came back to reclaim her. Tilly and her husband run an Inn, Rosamund is put to work cleaning, running and serving at the Inn. Her step brothers Fear God and Glory, brutish men who take after their father Paul who often administers his own kind of punishment to Rosamund for any mistake she might make, real or invented.

 
Rosamund now Ballister, finds her circumstances dramatically change when running away from her stepbrothers she is knocked down by a rich man’s carriage. Sir Everard is travelling with his manservant Jacopo when they pick her up from the dirt and return her to her family. A deal is struck and she leaves the Inn and her past miseries to become ‘The Chocolate Makers Wife’.

Unbeknown to her, she bears a remarkable resemblance to Sir Everard’s deceased daughter, her benefactor has plans of his own for her. Plans to strike down his mortal enemy.

I could almost hear Rosamund’s peal of chiming laughter resonate from the pages when for a second time she becomes ‘The Chocolate Makers Wife’.

The research of the period detailing the life of a woman who was downcast and abused who becomes a woman of substance, with the history of London being the backdrop, is a credit to Karen. During turbulent times of the war with the Hollanders and fearing Civil War again while their lacklustre King reigns over the Protestant country. The discrimination of women, and intolerance of Quakers and Catholics being the setting for Rosamund and her journey.

I loved this book. I knew I would, having read ‘The Book of Night’ among others of Karen’s work.

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League of Llamas Book Reviews

Available from all good bookstores: visit www.penguin.com.au for more information. @AleesahDarlison @PenguinKidsAustralia @PuffinBooksAus

 

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar20

Title: League of Llamas – The Golden Llama

Author: Aleesah Darlison Award-Winning Author, Guest Speaker and Owner of Greenleaf Press www.aleesahdarlison.com

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Phillipe Llamar is LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011. He’s handsome and has a magnificent head of beautiful hair and a fringe he constantly combs to dazzle everyone around. He also has a terrible memory. He’s at General Bottomburps’ party to steal some secrets. The General along with his Badger buddies are renowned for their potent very smelly bottom burps. He’s up to no good and Phillipe intends to find the evidence. With the aid of his sidekick Lloyd Llamanator, aka agent 0013, (who has a good memory), Phillipe breaks the General’s computer code and gets hold of the incriminating evidence. He burns this to a USB and swallows it to escape. Fortunately, they have a hidden Llamaborghini to drive away in.

They leave with more questions than answers. Such as: Who is the lovely lady llama in red? How are they going to get the USB out of Phillipe? The answer to this comes with the Turbo Llama Lax Incident (which needs to be read to understand the sheer hilarity). Mama Llama explains the USB shows that General Bottomburp has committed the utterly unthinkable crime of stealing The Golden Llama, (a symbol of the nation and the freedom for Llamas to spit.) Phillipe and Lloyd set out to recover the statue to avoid a spitting war by returning the statue to the Musee du Llama.

This Bond parody has all the elements kids love, such as farting and spitting together with lots of cleaver gadgets (that almost work) and dramatic twists and turns.

The illustrations by Simon Greiner of Phillipe in disguise, the lovely Lady Llama in red, the Llamaborghini and General Bottomburp, and the all-important League of Llamas logo to name a few, enhance the book. Particularly the very James Bond, (I’m a handsome Phillipe with gorgeous fringe on the front cover image), together with the Llama play on words which makes the whole book one ready to capture the imagination of youngsters worldwide.

I chortled through this book from the first sentence to the last. I look forward to reading the whole series including League of Llamas – Llama impossible, League of Llamas – Undercover Llamas and League of Llamas – Rogue Llama. Then I’ll be happy to pass these books onto my granddaughters to enjoy.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar2

Title: League of Llamas – Llama Impossible

Author: Aleesah Darlison

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Action-packed from the first sentence. A runaway train, an unconscious train driver, and speed building as the train hurtles through one station after another. Luckily Phillipe Llamar LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011 is cruising overhead in his Llamaborghini and he decides to jump on board to stop the train. He jumps out landing on the roof of the train and is met by a gecko in singlet and jeans who has a resemblance to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Geckoson with freaky eyeball licking action. After a near-death experience, Phillipe gets to the front of the train to save the day.

When he gets back to Mama Llama’s office eleven floors underneath Mount Killamanjaro he discovers there’s more trouble in New Llama City. The train brakes had been cut at the same time as a massive robbery. Mama Llama sends her top agents Phillipe and Lloyd to investigate. She’s also sending Agent 0077 with them, Elloise is the Llama in red. They all go to the bank to see what happened. Phillipe and Lloyd cause a mess while investigating, (this is another laugh out loud moment among many in the book). Mama Llama gets an emergency call from the New Llama City Fire Chief. A fire had been deliberately lit. Were all these things coincidences?

All the evidence from the speeding train, bank robbery and dazzling diamond heist points to General Bottomburp. Is this a setup? At the bank, they meet Mr Itchee Kneebone, a property developer and fine art collector. This plump guinea pig was making sure his money was safe. He also invites them to his home to give them information. Bottomburp had gone into hiding, Kneebone tells Phillipe they might find him in Papua New Guinea Pig. On the island, they are captured and put in a pot by guinea pigs. Captain Archie the leader told them they weren’t vegetarians. Itchee Kneebone arrives and scolds his brother Archie and they are released. Phillipe finds Bottomburp and he goes to talk to the villain. He says he’s innocent and that he has bodyguards coming. They must rethink what’s been happening. Could a cuddly, kindly guinea pig with money and a mansion, be the real culprit? When all three agents work together, they discover the truth.

This is the second book in Aleesah Darlison’s League of Llamas series. And equally hilarious as the first with her play on words and crazy Llama antics. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and then deliver them to my granddaughters to enjoy. – Jill

 

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League of Llama’s Prize

League of Llama’s Prize

I didn’t get a pair of socks, but I did get book one and two of the series and a poster.

 

I’m about to read them and will post my review shortly.

Thanks, Aleesah Darlison and Penguin Books for the opportunity.

Stay tuned for the review. -Jill

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Book Reviews so far in 2020

I’ve been a little remiss in updating my book reviews so I thought it high time to remedy this. These are my Goodreads reviews, some are short for this reason.

Betty White If you ask me cover

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)

by Betty White

This is a chatty and entertaining read. Betty White is a remarkable woman with a very positive outlook on life. She is an animal lover and devoted campaigner against animal cruelty.
This was certainly worth picking up like a Christmas Secret Santa from Gold Coast Writers piles of ex-library books. Thanks for the smiles.

 

In Pieces by Sally Field

This is a sad book. Sally Field bares her soul and works through the traumatic events that Sally Field In Pieces covershaped her childhood and made her a fragmented soul. It wasn’t until her mother was terminally ill that she reconciled her internal agony with her relationship with her mother. The horror of her relationships with her uncaring natural father and her sexually abusive stepfather. The knowledge that acting for Sally was her saving grace, her source of income and her greatest trial. She wrote this exploration of her life in her early 70’s. I believe she’s overcome her demons and is proud and delighted with her three sons and their families, careers and lives.

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks (Goodreads Author)

The Chocolate Makers Wife coverI loved this book. I knew I would, having read ‘The Book of Night’, among others of Karen’s work.

This detailed the life of a woman who was downcast and abused who became a woman of substance. The history of London during the war with the Hollanders and fearing Civil War again with the lacklustre King at the helm of the Protestant country. The discrimination of women, and intolerance of Quakers and Catholics being the setting for Rosamund in her journey. I could almost hear her peal of chiming laughter resonate from the pages when she finally took her place as ‘The Chocolate Makers Wife’.

David Jason: My Life by David Jason

This is a great book and finished with the style of a great storyteller.

David Jason comes from humble beginnings. He didn’t take much seriously in his early David Jason My Life coverlife. When a teacher suggests he and a mate join the local amateur theatre group because they only have girls and are needing boys. Both boys thought, girls – (sounds like a chance), so they joined.

Thanks to his gymnastics teacher who encouraged him and made him feel good about his ability to throw himself about. This led David to partake in slapstick comedy.

He didn’t really plan on being an actor. His brother Arthur had become one, much to his parent’s displeasure, another son going that way wouldn’t make them happy. Instead, he studied to be an electrician and went on to set up a business run from his parents home. Fodder for future comic material would be gleaned from his door-knocking to get jobs. He’d be going past the markets watching the patter of salesmen who scarpered as soon as the bill arrived, their patter lodged in his mind for another time.

When he decided to follow his dream and become an actor he went after it immersing himself in anything he could get. His brother Arthur helped him get his first break. The early days were difficult. His big break came and went, missing out on getting a part in a big tv sitcom more than once.

Then we come to the heady days of his acting in theatre and building his reputation as a comic actor. Taking over from Michael Crawford in one play after watching this exceptional slapstick comedian and following his lead. After that during the years of theatre work, adverts and animation voices his reputation grew. Getting a break in a tv series as a gardener in Hark at Barker with Ronnie Barker, who became his friend and inspiration he knew as the Guvnor. This led to a small part in ‘Porridge’ showing David’s ability to create a character again much older than his physical age.

His BAFTA award-winning portrayal of ‘Del Boy’ in ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Along with his mother’s favourite series ‘The Darling Buds of May’ and then ‘A touch of Frost’. He was instrumental in getting this series made because he chose the book to become his next challenge, quite different from his comedic roles.

The heartbreak of losing his partner Myfanwy after eighteen years was not eased through work. In the past, the acting had seen him through. This time it was meeting Gill a floor assistant at Yorkshire Television in Leeds. They moved in together and had a daughter, Sophie. He married Gill the night before his in investiture as a Knight Batchelor, being knighted by the Queen.

The pictures throughout the book show some touching images of his life from childhood to fatherhood. As my husband is an avid ‘Only Fools and Horses’ fan, I bought this book for him to read. Naturally, I couldn’t let him have all the fun.

Hope you enjoy these as there will be many more to come. – Jill

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League of Llamas by Aleesah Darlison – I’m a winner!!

Thank you so much for offering to review the first instalment in Aleesah’s brand new laugh-out-loud series, League of Llamas Book 1: The Golden Llama.

You’re one of the lucky prize winners – CONGRATULATIONS!

The series is published by Penguin Random House Australia, with books 1 and 2 set for release on 3 March 2020.

We will shortly be posting the review copy out to you, along with your llama socks. We hope you enjoy both!

Eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book. Watch out of my review. – Jill

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Writing Prompts courtesy of Melissa Gijsbers – Author

Although Christmas is over I’m still celebrating being alive. Catching up with friends and enjoying the laughter.

You may have noticed I haven’t finished this challenge yet. The prompts below are the ones I’ve yet to tackle. I’m planning on using the prompts to create new stories.

Will you join me?

Day 2 -12 days of Christmas challenge 

The writing prompt is: Choose an unlikely food. Explain why this is a traditional part of your Christmas Dinner.

Day 7 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is: It’s New Year’s Eve and you head down to see the local fireworks. Instead of the traditional fireworks show something else is shown. Tell the story about the unusual New Year’s Eve Show.

Day 8 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is; Your brand-new year. You’ve resolved to attend a local boot camp. But it isn’t quite what you expected… what happened?

Day 9 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is: Today is the 2nd of January. Write a story that features the number two.

Day 10 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is: Pick a random book from your bookshelf or the pile of books you’re reading this holiday. Use the first line of that book to start a story.

The Michelle Worthington’s Share Your Story, Facebook Bootcamp was challenging and I did most of her tasks too.

I’ve also been recording the Ingram Spark 30 day writing challenge prompts and will share those with you soon.

Happy writing for those who take up this challenge.

Feel free to post your stories and I’ll share them, if you wish me to, with Melissa Gijsbers and her 12 days of Christmas Challenge Facebook page.

  • Jill
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12 Days of Christmas Writing Challenge continued…

Day 4 12 Days of Christmas writing challenge

The prompt is:

Write a love story that is no romance that somehow involves a Christmas decoration.

Day 4 12 Days of Christmas writing challenge

The prompt is:

Write a love story that is no romance that somehow involves a Christmas decoration.

The Christmas Star Short Story by Jill Smith©Jan20

 ‘What are we going to do today,’ five-year-old Shelly squealed as she ran out of the bedroom with her six-year-old sister Emily.

‘Mum told us yesterday,’ Emily jibed. ‘We’re going to decorate the Christmas tree.’

Shelly grinned.

‘I know where mum keeps the decorations,’ Emily nudged her sister. ‘Let’s get them.’

They were soon rummaging around in the spare room wardrobe. There were boxes at the bottom marked Christmas decorations. They pulled them out.

‘Help me carry the big box into the lounge,’ Emily lifted the box and they both struggled to carry it before deciding to push it along the floor.

‘Quiet,’ Shelly pointed down the hall to their parents’ bedroom.

A few minutes later with the first box between them, they tore open the top. Pulling out everything from inside. Soon they were surrounded by tinsel and ornaments.

‘Can we start to hang them on the tree?’ Shelly asked.

‘We can’t reach the top, silly,’ Emily grunted. ‘I can’t find the Star.’

‘It must be here,’ Shelly was tangled up in tinsel as she tried to turn the box upside down.

‘It’s not in this box,’ Emily announced as she pushed the contents of the box aside. She stood up and stepped over the mess on the floor and snuck out the door. ‘I’ll get the other box.’

Shelly put her finger to her lips. ‘Shush, don’t wake them up.’

The smaller box arrived moments later beside Shelly. Emily grinned as she tore open the top of the box. More delicate ornaments were brought out, one by one.

‘Put them together in a pile. When mum wakes up, she can put them up the top. We can start at the bottom of the tree. I’m bigger now I’m six.’

‘Shelly, it’s still not here,’ Shelly wailed as her chin wobbled.

‘I know. It must be somewhere else,’ Emily turned to Shelly and hugged her.

‘I love that star, it’s so beautiful,’ Shelly started to sob.

‘We’ll find it, Shelly. Please don’t cry.’

They looked at the mess around them. The lounge door opened, and mum came in.

‘What on Earth are you doing? Look at this mess.’

‘Mum, we wanted to start decorating the Christmas tree,’ Emily explained.

‘I can see that.’

Mum came in carefully stepping towards them.

‘What’s wrong Shelly?’

‘We can’t find the star,’ Shelly blubbered.

‘The Star,’ mum lifted Shelly up and hugged her.

‘The Star mum,’ Emily chipped in, ‘we both love it. It’s not Christmas without it.’

‘Oh my,’ mum moved to the chair beside the Christmas tree. ‘We’ll find it. I’m pretty sure there were three boxes of ornaments packed away. One had the most delicate ornaments and the star was in there.’

‘We only found two boxes,’ Emily sighed.

Mum kissed Shelly and sat her in the chair.

‘I’ll get the other box. It’s at the top of the other cupboard. First, I want you both to sort out this mess. Put the tinsel together here, those ornaments here, make a space for us to work in. There are some baubles with our names on that go higher up the tree, find them please and put them aside. I’ll be back in a moment.’

Mum left them and Shelly sat down beside her sister.

They were busy sorting out the decorations when mum returned with another box.

‘Let’s look through this one,’ mum smiled at the girls.

A while later they all stood back to admire the decorated tree. On top was a beautiful golden star.

‘One more thing I want you both to do to prepare for Christmas day is to decorate your own Christmas boxes,’ mum instructed. ‘Here are the cardboard boxes and some old cards to decorate them. We’ll do it in the kitchen where you can put your name and cards on the boxes. Santa needs to know where to put your presents.’

The girls giggled and rushed towards the kitchen. At the door, Emily turned to her mother.

‘Mum, I want to do a Christmas card for Shelly.’

‘That’s a great idea,’ mum grinned and hugged her daughter.

‘I want to tell her that even though she annoys me, I love her heaps.’

‘We’ll all make cards after you’ve done your boxes,’ mum agreed.

In the kitchen, cards were glued, and names written on the boxes.

‘This’ll be the best Christmas,’ Emily grinned at Shelly.

‘Thanks, Emily,’ Shelly smiled at her sister, ‘you’re the best.’

Day 5 12 days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is:

The last line of your story ‘And that’s why we never eat leftovers of Anything Aunty Joan brings for Christmas dinner.’

This is a short-short story

Doggy Diner by Jill Smith©18Jan20

Aunty Joan loves her dog. She takes it everywhere with her. We’ve seen her baking in her kitchen. Dog hair gets mixed in with her ingredients. And that’s why we never eat leftovers of ANYTHING Aunty Joan brings to Christmas dinner.

Day 6 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is:

You are in the process of putting away all your Christmas decorations and pack them away for next year. You hear something crying from the decoration box. One of your decorations doesn’t want to be put away. Tell the story about the decoration and why it doesn’t want to be put away for another year.

The Good Luck Charm short story by Jill Smith©Jan20

 A few days after Christmas I started packing away the Christmas tree. I’m always sad when I do this because the house looks so empty after it’s back to normal.

I open the empty box and start taking down the baubles and tinsel. The lights would be last because they were the first put on the tree. Smiling as I pulled down the named baubles and put them on the side-table, I read the names of my children, Brenda, Kay and Ashley, and one with my husband’s name Steve, and myself, Joy. Then the lovely shaped decorations were next, bells, Santa’s, Nutcrackers, horses, stars, and a very pretty unicorn. My youngest loves unicorns. Then the other ornaments some handmade by my sister before she died. And some given to me by my mother. They were crafty people. All are treasured and loved. Lastly, I pull down the star before I unwind the tinsel. The tinsel goes at the bottom of the box. The children were out visiting their cousins. My husband was at work and the house was silent, even the radio was off. I hummed while continuing my task.

‘Please don’t put me in the box!’

I shook my head and looked around.

‘What the heck.’

‘Please don’t put me in the box. It’s dark and cold.’

Scrunching up the tinsel I put it in the bottom of the box.

‘I must be imagining that,’ I mumbled as I started transferring the decorations from the side-table to the box.

‘Please stop, don’t put me in the box.’

‘Who said that?’

‘I did, please, I don’t want to go in the box and into the garage till next year.’

I kept lifting the decorations from the pile and transferring them to the box.

‘Please, I don’t want to be locked away. I need to be with Ashley.’

‘Ashley?’ I looked around. ‘Who are you? Why, do you want to stay with my youngest daughter?’ I looked down at the few decorations I had in my hand. ‘I can’t believe I’m talking to baubles.’

‘I’m not a bauble, and you have me in your hand. Please don’t put me in the box!’ the little voice squealed.

Looking around me I could see I was still alone.

‘I’m the unicorn. Please,’ the little voice began to sob.

‘The unicorn.’ I look at the beautiful sparkling white unicorn ornament with multi-coloured mane and tail and shiny horn. ‘I can’t believe you’re talking to me.’

I put the unicorn on the coffee table.

‘Okay, humour me. Why is it so important that I keep you out and Ashley keep you in her room?’

‘She’s going to get sick. If I stay with her, she’ll get better.’

‘And if I don’t?’

‘This Christmas will be her last.’

I gasped and sat down. I took a deep breath.

‘Ashley is fit and loving her gymnastics. You’re just saying that to frighten me.’

‘I know it will happen. Please let me stay in Ashley’s room and she will recover.’

‘I’ll think about it,’ I said as I cleared up the rest of the decorations and started pulling apart the tree. It was a good tall artificial tree we’d bought when the girls were little.

The back door banged.

‘Hi Mum, we’re home,’ my eldest Brenda called out. ‘Dad picked us up on his way home from work.’

‘That’s great, you can help me finish putting the tree away.’

‘You’re nearly finished,’ Brenda gave me a hug. She picked up the unicorn and was about to put it in the box.

‘Don’t put me in the box!’

Brenda looked up at me.

‘I didn’t say that the unicorn did.’

‘Don’t put me in the box,’ the little white unicorn repeated.

‘We need to leave it in Ashley’s room until next year. It’ll be her good luck charm.’

The other girls came into the lounge.

‘Here, take this box into the garage. I’m almost done with the tree and we’ll put it out there too.’

‘What about this one?’ Kay said.

‘That’s my favourite,’ Ashley grinned.

‘Yes, love, it’s going to stay on your bookcase all year. It’s one beautiful and very special unicorn.’

‘Why?’ Kay asked.

‘It asked me not to put it away.’

Kay giggled. Brenda nodded. Ashley grinned and took it into her room.

When their father came into the room, they told him what I’d said. He looked at me and winked.

As the new year moved through the seasons, I pledged to watch over all my girls. I could swear when Ashley got a cold that lingered and turned into meningitis, I talked to her about her unicorn. Her good luck charm and sighed with relief when she pulled through.

The end.

These are great prompts by Melissa Gijsbers

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Writing Challenges

This New Year is the start of an exciting new decade. I’ve begun with two writing challenges.

The first is Michelle Worthington’s Share Your Story Boot Camp. As I have in previous challenges with this inspirational lady, discovered amazing new things about how to use social media to my advantage. I’ll do a full rundown of this once I’ve completed this other writing prompts challenge.

The second challenge is by a friend who is also in the Share Your Story group, Melissa Gijsbers – Author.

Kickstart your creativity for the New Year with 12 writing prompts. Held from 25 Dec – 5 Jan
Member since January, 2020.
Melissa Gijsbers – Author

I diligently wrote down the prompts each day and intended to write the stories then, however, being Christmas time escaped me and I’m now doing the challenge.

Here are the first few days:

Day 1 – 12 days of Christmas challenge

I’m not a comic so this one had me scratching my head. It might also show my age.

Here goes – Create a joke or riddle for the bonbon.

Q. Who goes Rockin all over the world trying not to Rock the Boat?

A. Status Quo

Day 2 -12 days of Christmas challenge 

This one is a bit tricky for me because we really don’t have a traditional Christmas dinner.

The writing prompt is: Choose an unlikely food. Explain why this is a traditional part of your Christmas Dinner.

I can only say that my fondest memories of my childhood Christmas foods would have to be my Grandmothers well-soaked Trifle. I’m not going to write a story about this one as I’ve been engrossed with the next couple of writing prompts.

Day 3 -12 days of Christmas challenge

The writing prompt is:

A Christmas card arrives in the mail addressed to you. The handwriting is a beautiful cursive that belongs to another era, and the postmark is from December 191? Who sent it to you and why?

The Warning short story by Jill Smith ©Jan2020

The back door banged shut. Emily came through the door with several envelopes and she sat at the kitchen table to open them.

‘This is a lovely card,’ Emily handed it to Bob who was sitting beside her having his morning cup of tea. ‘It came in a motley old envelope. Look, it’s addressed to you. The stamp is a very old one, it looks like King George, but it can’t be, can it?’

‘Wow,’ Bob stammered. ‘It looks like my mothers’ writing. She’s been gone eighteen years, so it can’t be.’

Emily shook her head. ‘It’s not her writing, I’ll show you.’ She rose from the table and walked over to the bookshelf to inspect the spines of the albums on the shelf. After a few minutes, she pulled one out and returned to the table with it. ‘This one’s full old postcards your mother sent us.’ She opened the album and put it in front of her husband.

‘I’ve been looking at this envelope. It’s the old stiff buff paper. The postmark is 1910 or something, it’s a bit smudged. The writing is like my mother’s, but not the same.’

‘What’s the message inside?’ Emily asked. ‘I was so taken with the decoupage layered image of a cottage in the snow that I didn’t read it.’

‘May the new decade in your millennium be filled with love and joyous family reunions. Bob, look after your health. Grace.’

‘How could this card be written last century?’ Emily was going back through the album. ‘The postmark must be wrong.’

‘It’s addressed to me Em, and we only moved here four months ago. How could someone from almost a hundred years ago write to me?’

‘It’s more than a hundred years, Bob dear. Look.’ Emily pointed to a letter written to Bob’s mother Jane from her Grandmother Grace.

‘Incredible, the writing is the same.’

‘Listen to this, the letter is telling your mother she will marry a hard-working man and have five children. Grace is telling Jane that she is clairvoyant and not to worry, all will be well.’

‘I can’t see how my Great Grandmother could write me a letter to warn me about my health. I wasn’t even born when she wrote it.’ Bob tapped the card against his chest. He looked out the wide front window at the seaside view.

‘They lived in the country, didn’t they?’ Emily continued to flip the pages of the old album.

‘Yes, they lived on a farm in the bush. It was hot and dusty, and they were a pioneering family.’ He replied, shaking his arm to relieve the ache. Bob felt like his jaw was stiffening.

‘Here’s a picture, it’s small and black and white, well, now its sepia. Here, this is your mothers writing saying this was your Great-great Grandmother Grace with her seven children. Your Grandmother Joyce is the babe in her arms.’

‘I remember seeing pictures of that old cottage, Gran and Pa took us out to the district when I was a lad.’

‘Bob, you’ve gone white as a sheet.’

‘I’m not feeling too good Em,’ Bob tried to stand up, but his legs were jelly.

‘I’ll call the doctor,’ Emily picked up her mobile and rang. The dial tone went to a recorded message. ‘Bob, just sit still and rest your head on the table. It’s out of hours, still too early.’ Bob couldn’t hear her, and he was too heavy to move. ‘Oh my, what am I going to do?’

She looked at the old photograph and into the knowing eyes of the woman in the picture.

‘I’ll call the ambulance.’ Emily was soon explaining what had happened to a kindly calm voice at the other end of the phone. The woman asked for their address and her mind awhirl she couldn’t remember their new address. Once she took a few breaths she could relate it.

After a while with the woman on the ambulance emergency line assuring Emily, they would be there soon the siren announced the arrival of the paramedics. Before she knew it, with her own heart pounding wildly, Emily watched her husband being put on a stretcher and being bundled into the ambulance. She managed to grab her handbag and Bob’s medications and was assisted into the front seat beside the ambulance driver. With the siren wailing, they travelled to the hospital at speed.

‘Here,’ the paramedic who’d been treating Bob on the way to hospital handed Emily the card. ‘He was holding onto that tight.’

‘I’m so glad to see him conscious,’ Emily said as she accepted the card.

‘He’s a tough bloke, he’ll be fine,’ the young man assured her.

‘We’ve a full-on Christmas family reunion planned for next week. I’ll be glad if Bob is able to sit up and enjoy some visitors.’

‘He’s in the right hands,’ the paramedic left her at the emergency reception. The paperwork needed to be done. Bobs’ medicines recorded. Tests would be done.
Emily couldn’t help but be grateful for the warning from the past. Who would believe Bob’s Great-great Grandmother had sent it?

_ Jill

 

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Happy Boxing Day!

Hi everyone! Happy Boxing Day!

We had a fantastic Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our family in Brisbane.

For an overview of My Year in Books 2019 here’s the Goodreads link.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2019?int=yyib_sa

This little elf wishes you fun everyone, enjoy yourselves. – Jill

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My year in books 2019 – part three

Seasons Greetings everyone, we’re getting closer to us enjoying wonderful family fun with our son, his wife and our darling granddaughters.

This is part three of my year in books – Goodreads brief reviews or book blurbs. Fifty books is a lot to cover and I hope you are enjoying my round-up. – Jill

The Apostrophe Posse by Teena Raffa-Mulligan review©JillSmithDec19
It all starts innocently enough. Cam and Ellie go shopping for school shoes with their mother. Jimmy Leeds is painting a sign on Baker’s shop. Mrs Terry, their mum, points out that Jimmy has missed putting an apostrophe on the sign. Jimmy The Apostrophe Posse by Teena Raffa-Mulligancan’t see it.Cam forms a group they call ‘The Apostrophe Posse,’ just like in wild west movies. He and Ellie, with their friends Billy and Louisa, will go out to fix the signs in Tea Tree Bend. School starts again in a few weeks and it must be done before then. The Apostrophe Posse head out after dark when no one can see them. That’s the plan. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out, lots.Louisa’s little sister Lindy wants to help. They don’t want her to mess up their plans. When she wakes and follows her sister, what can they do but let her tag along? That’s a big mistake. While working to fix the signs, accidents happen. Before they know it, they are in big trouble. The local newspaper headlines say businesses are calling on the authorities to apprehend the vandals and have them prosecuted.This is a slim volume of seventy pages that invites young readers on a humorous adventure. Teena writes a story that will engage children in an entertaining way. It leaves them with a simple message – be honest, to ask for help when you need it, and, apostrophe’s matter!
Follow after me by Allison Marlow Paterson review©JillSmithDec19
Lizzie Windridge is a typical teenager living on a farm in a rural community. Self-obsessed and vulnerable to manipulation, Lizzie pretends everything is going well with her new friend Ashleigh who prompts her to follow the drop-dead gorgeous football player Brandon. Her grades are slipping and ignoring her former friendFollow After Me by Allison Marlow Patersons is getting easier. Her older brother Mark is always getting in the way. His friend Nick is on the football team too. She spends more time watching Brandon play than visiting her ailing Grandmother. When she is asked by her mother, then her grandmother, to read letters left at the old house on the farm, Lizzie is reluctant to act. The old house is creepy with its musty smells and original furniture still there like a time capsule.One hundred years earlier Evie is in love with Tom who is the youngest of five brothers who live on a neighbouring farm. Her father is a staunch Irishman and does not approve of the blossoming romance. When the World War breaks out young men in the district are signing up to join the campaign battle. Evie knows that Tom has enlisted to be with his brothers, and she gives him a small key to carry with him as a token of her devotion.When Lizzie is rescued by her brother Mark and his friend Nick from a devastating situation, she starts to turn her life around. She knows now that Brandon is the son of the Bank Manager threatening to foreclose on the family farm. She also realises how reading the letters from the past can help her find her own place in the world. The expensive school excursion to Canberra is a welcome escape. Mark helps her parents pay for the trip as he wants to help his sister. Nick is on the school trip too. Can she face him as he knows the horrible truth? Lizzie learns a lot about her family history, the battles and the tragedy that her great grandparents endured while exploring the War Museum with Nick.Evie lives through the tragedy that her neighbour’s family suffers, losing young men who never return from the battlefront. She faces her challenges in finding her own way in the world with meddling from her father causing her anguish. Will she find love again once the survivors of the War return home?I read this book quickly and was swept along with the historical references and story of the Windridge family. Allison has written compelling accounts of the battles in horrendous conditions of World War One. Only at the conclusion of the book in Author Acknowledgements did I discover the research is based on her own Marlow family history. The vivid battle conditions and terrible loss of life suffered by rural Australian families. I will now need to read Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers in the War to End All Wars.

Sweet Adversity by Sheryl Gwyther review©JillSmithDec19

Adversity McAllister is strong-willed and she wants to keep the other children at the orphanage happy. Matron Maddock made them all miserable. As the daughter of two wonderful actors who travel the land as ‘The Famous Shakespearean Theatrical Troupe’, she knows how to she put on a show. Her cockatiel Macbeth is part of her act. He recites Shakespearean quotes. Addie loves him and watches out in case Matron should get clerk Algernon Parris to lock him away. Putting on a show for the other children also helps her forget being left by her parents. Matron had told her that her parents had died in a flooded creek and that she was now her legal guardian.

Addie knows Sweet Adversity by Sheryl GwytherMatron is mean but it’s only when she sneaks into her office to find a key to rescuing Macbeth, does she learn the whole truth. Macbeth was in danger of being killed but she was also in danger. She discovers a child trader is on his way to the Orphanage to collect her as she’s being sold. She must leave before Scrimshaw could get his hands on her. With the help of Mary, the cook, and Thomas, the gardener, who gives her his gypsy caravan, she runs away to Emu Creek. There she hopes to find a camp and a new family with lost boys who live in hiding. When she meets Sam, she thinks she might be in luck, but things don’t turn out that way.

Matron Maddock’s black Buick has followed, and her new friends send her away as she might put them in danger. Worse still, Scrimsaw, the devious man, has discovered her escape from the orphanage. He wants his money, so he chases after her.The historical context of the Great Depression and the underlying expectation that children could be bought and sold, and no one would bother about it. What’s the life of one feisty red-haired girl who can sing and act worth? And, would anyone miss her? Her steadfast friendships help her through, especially the little yellow cockatiel Macbeth and her friend from the orphanage Jack.

I loved this book, I bought it off Sheryl on Wednesday at an SCWBI meeting in Burleigh, started it on Thursday, finished it on Friday. Young adult’s books are my favourite genre.

I will treasure the signed copy and Sheryl’s note. I did enjoy Addie and Macbeth’s adventures, and believe ‘All the world’s a stage’. Thanks so much, Sheryl Gwyther. Now to share this adventure with my granddaughters will be a joy.

Summerfeste (Garlands of Thorn and May, #2) by Sally Odgers (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

Ash has led a boring kind of life. He always worked hard for his father at the charburn, but, since the thornfair, much had changed.
His father has remarried and having a stepmother is a new experience. His friend Rowan was having a baby. He might be the father, but he can’t remember. He has brief yet thrilling dalliances with Genista the hillfayre girl. He believes himself to be ugly. Why is she showing herself to him? Hazel, Rowan’s cousin is likely to be his bride. Life is way too complicated with three women on his mind. When he finds Rowan on the path, having had her baby, Genista appears and helps to care for Rowan. She sends Ash away to find the healer. When he returns, he has been given a magic potion by the healer, to see as a the hillfayre do. Rowan and Genista are well ahead and heading for the hill. He follows them to stop Rowan leaving.
The twist at the end is a surprise that only Rowan and the Healer see.
This book left me feeling the confusion of an adolescent boy. Ash is trying to make sense of the world he lives in. His emotions are all askew but he continues to be devoted to friends. The depth of feeling is palpable.
There must be more books in the series, or has Sally left it dangling for the reader to continue the thread in their own imagination?

Thornfair (Garlands of Thorn and May Book 1) Sally Odgers (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

Rowan is growing up and her determination to follow the old traditions is grating with her family and friends. She doesn’t care, the ‘Thornfair’ gown may look odd but she feels beautiful in it and drawn to see if any of the Fairy folk remain. She is desperate to meet them and, if possible, go over the hill to escape the drudgery of her current life.

Once she meets Flynt dan Apfel she thinks of nothing else. All the while the magic that remains weaves around Rowan to draw her in, to reject her at the last moment. She believes he won’t harm her, but she is lured into his trap, to escape, she must climb through the thorns.

This is an exploration of the stubbornness of youth. Of making poor choices and committing to them. Rowan feels distant from her mother who lets her have her headstrong head. Her cousin Hazel, who was once a close friend, now doesn’t understand her. And Ash, although he adores her, can’t understand her changes but accepts her anyway. The village healer is the last remaining link with the past and she offers Rowan advice relating to the hillfayre folk, that she ignores.

This whole book was an experience of emotions from Rowan’s point of view. As soon as I finished, I was compelled to read ‘Summerfest’ the next book in the series, which I also read quickly. The cover design is a hint to the unique slant of the book, a perfect Barbie doll in the world of magic. Sally is a friend of mine on Facebook and I thank her for the opportunity to read books that tantalize and delight.

Ciao! We’re in Africa by Marisa Parker (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

This is a follow on from ‘Goodbye to Italia’ a memoir of Marisa’s mothers’ life. These are the memories of the period from 1955 to 1969. Maria ‘Iucci’ and her husband Eugenio married in Italy and not long after said goodbye to all their family and friends to set sail for Africa and a new life. This period covers a period of change in the world that is reflected in their lives.

The family were a very loving group who were sad to see them leave. She begins with the Family tree showing her mother and fathers lineage. The agreement the two most important women in ‘Iucci’s’ life, had made with her new husband, without her knowledge, was remarkable. They wanted to keep their daughter and granddaughter with them as long as they could. After the wedding, her husband dutifully returned ‘Iucci’ to her mothers home each night, until they boarded the ship. When they leave, they have no way of knowing if they’ll see these women again or not.

The journey from Italy to Durban, South Africa in 1955 is a long one and Iucci becomes homesick. Her husband is a clever businessman. He intends for them to make a go of their lives in Africa. A country he fell in love with during the war. He had made friends there and was determined to make his wife happy. They meet new friends on board the ship, who are also Italian immigrants. These friends would play an important part in their lives over the following years. The sights and sounds of Africa are astounding to Icci as they call into several ports. She is learning more about her husband as they travel, even though they have worked closely together for many years, she is newly married and life is an evolving adventure.

They arrive in Durban, South Africa, but papers are not forthcoming. Their dream of starting a business is being thwarted. Their shipboard friends invite them to visit Rhodesia. There they find a more relaxed bureaucratic system and they start the business there.

Marisa has researched the facts and made sure the events match the circumstances. I loved the way the book is put together with pictures and events outlined all from her mothers’ point of view. Another beautifully delivered memoir and one I’m sure makes Marisa and her mother proud.

The Pearl Thief

Fiona McIntosh (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

The journey begins when Severine Kassel, who is on loan from the Louvre in 1963 to The British Museum, is asked to identify some antique jewellery, her speciality. Not only can she identify this unique string of high-quality pearls, but, seeing them brings back into her life the horrors she endured during the war in Nazi Germany. These are traumas she has locked away, never letting anyone past her guard, always looking over her shoulder for the Nazi Ruda Mayek. Now with the pearls on offer to the museum, she sets out to hunt down her persecutor and take revenge on him.

With Mossad on the trail of the same man and an agent comes out of retirement to ask Severine to tell her story. When she learns his true identity and begrudgingly accepts his help, they set out to find her former persecutor. Her best plan to reach the Nazi is through a solicitor handling the pearls. However, they discover he is bound by client confidentiality so can’t help. Both Daniel the Mossad spy, and Edward, the Solicitor fall under Severine’s spell. She finally gives her heart the freedom to fall in love.

This book is wonderfully written drama that would lend itself to a movie adaption. So vivid are the images of time and place. Fiona McIntosh weaves an intriguing tale from beginning to end. I will continue to read and enjoy her work.

Elysian Dawn (Elydian Dawn#1) by Sally Odgers
The Silvering (Elydian Dawn Series #2) by Sally Odgers
New Dreams (Elydian Dawn Series #3) by Sally Odgers – review©JillSmithDec19

Elysian Dawn by Sally OdgersSeventeen-year-old Marianne Arcadia is planning to marry Jeremiah. The Elysian Dawn is a space ship and the only home she’s ever known. She has never experienced pain other than scratches and never seen death. The Healer Moon has matched her to Jeremiah, she loves him, but she’s still growing and can’t marry till she stops. Then they’ll have children who will be the next generation and the generation after that might reach their destination and settle on the new world.

Jeremiah is handsome and older than Marianne. He was born on Terra the old world they left behind he was very young when they left so his memories are sketchy. He is devoted to Marianne. Esden B adores Marianne but realises he will never be with her. They are eighteen years into a journey.

They know nothing of the advancements in space propulsion that means the journey of a century can now be completed in years. Cornelia Conti was one of the Faceless Four of Outward-Bound who instigated the First Launch of Elysian Dawn to beat Ganes and Zulu Queen. The changes this causes means other planets are populated long before Elysian Dawn has reached its destination. Meera Singh is a first-born citizen on the new world Shiva. Her brother Jameel Sing intends to travel to Terra to meet his fiancée’s parents.

Everything changes when the Elysian Dawn crashes into a planet eighteen years after launch.

The Age of Akra (Starchild #1) by Vacen Taylor review©JillSmithDec19
The Powers of the Seven Nations of Saha’s will be tested as the prophecy of the Star Child becomes reality. Mai is chosen to go on a pilgrimage, her brother Long goes with her as her chaperone. Their journey is to the Valley of a Thousand thoughts as they are both Thoughtbankers, with the ability to read people’s minds. They start their journey across the deserts towards their destination when they come across a crater. They investigate and meet a strange boy called Akra, who is still recovering his memory and his skills. Akra is the Starchild, the three travel on to battle with the elements. The trio The Age of Akra by Vacen Taylorfaces many dark challenges, desert serpents, being chased by Beings from the Underworld. Having to milk Spiderflax to create a waking potion for a sleeping oracle whose powers are being channelled by the Dementra underworld being.
Vacen is a writing friend of mine, she told me that she writes horror.
To me, this is a science fiction fantasy along the lines of my favourite author Anne McCaffrey and her Dragon series. The characters are instantly likeable as sister and brother face a common foe. The end of this first book alludes to more twists in their relationship as they continue their journey. I can’t wait to continue the journey in the next Starchild book.
Charlie the Cheeky Spider by Brian Dale, Illustrated by Jennifer Scicluna review©JillSmithDec19

Charlie was born with his many brothers and sisters on a quiet, still night, in the light of a full moon. His mother noticed he was different right away. He kept asking questions and was never still. He grinned a cheeky grin. So that’s why she called him Charlie. He was impish and liked to play tricks on his family. He was growing bigger and he realised it was time to leave home, so he wove threads into a parachute and jumped into the air. He was blown a long way from his country home to the suburbs and he landed on a window sill.

He was ready for more adventures, so he crawled inside. There he found a family to live with and he happily introduced himself, to Mr and Mrs Pan and Junior Pan. He was a talking spider and loved to hear Mrs Pan scream, and he was especially fond of her chocolate cake mix that was left all over the bench and floor when she’d run in fright. This is just the first of many adventures.

I can imagine Brian or any teacher reading this book to a group of school children and having them enjoy it when Charlie went – Creepy crawly, creepy, crawley, creepy, crawley … boing!

This is a charming chapter book for young readers about a very cheeky spider. The illustrations by Jennifer Scicluna are carefully matched to the story and I must say Charlie is a cute cheeky spider. I’m giving my signed copy to my granddaughters and I’m sure they’ll love it.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2)

by Jessica Townsend (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

Morrigan Crow lives in the Deucalion Hotel in Nevermore, and her patron Jupiter North has taken her out for a surprise excursion for her twelfth birthday. She’s been in Nevermore a whole year but still is never sure what to expect. This outing was totally strange with her being led down an alley, to walk up the wall to enter a theatre – Old Delphian Music Hall with the star The Angel Israfel. But, of course, Morrigan couldn’t hear star sing or her life would forever be impossible to live without the perfection of hearing the Angel sing.

That’s where they hear about the first of several disappearances which take Jupiter North away often over the next few months. Leaving Morrigan to navigate her way through her first several months at school. This should have been marvellous, she had passed her trials and was now accepted into the Wundrous Society! She would go to the school where she would, at last, have friends who were her brothers and sisters, a bond that made Morrigan feel complete. The old fears returned when her unique knack became a curse again.

When Jupiter does return, their reunion is one where Morrigan tells him lots of things about his life at school. Things like how she only has one class and the teacher Professor Onstald has written a book about how all Wundersmiths are evil Wundersmith by Jessica Townsendand no good, and that that is all she studies. Her teacher never has a kind word for her or her kind. She tells him about her Homeroom decorated by their conductor Miss Cheery and how wonderful she is. She doesn’t tell him about how class 919 are being blackmailed to keep silent about her knack, and how this is making her very unpopular.

There are so many strange things that happen in Nevermore that the reader feels dragged along by the strong current of an exciting imagination. Thanks, Jessica Townsend, I was unable to go to sleep until I’d finished turning the last page. I rated this and the first book Nevermore, Five Stars on Goodreads. I loved every twist and turn. I loved the feeling of comfort and homeliness of the Deucalion Hotel, Morrigan’s ever-changing bedroom and Jupiter’s cosy nook. I eagerly await the next instalment in Morrigan Crow’s journey.

Amazingly good, l read this in three days finishing in the wee hours.

Dear Santa by Samuel Johnson review©JillSmithDec19

I liked it – the concept of a fundraising book for cancer research which gives it extra points. Adults writing to Santa, and these are mostly high profile Australians so that’s great too.

What I didn’t like – was the few who made it a platform for bashing, or simply saying Santa is an anagram for Satan and couldn’t be believed.

What I loved – was those who wrote their letters with humour and the goodwill that Christmas should bring to us all. My particular favourites were written by Peter FitzSimons – being proud of his mother. Missy Higgins for asking for ‘sleep’. ‘Molly’ Meldrum for asking for a St Kilda Grand Final win. (This was a fun-filled and excellent letter) The stand out for me in this quirky collection was written by Rob Carlton – his letter was touching, heartfelt, and very much a concept we all need ‘IMAGINATION’.

Thanks to my younger sister for giving me this book for Christmas. I’ll always be a believer in Santa Claus!

That completes my year in books 2019.
Now we turn our minds to family and looking forward to seeing them. Christmas is a magical time. I hope everyone who’s come across my blog and read my posts, find something to read and enjoy. My love of books, reading, writing and learning writing-related skills is my catalyst to continuing to write here.
I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas, safe travels, many hugs and cuddles from those most precious in your lives (including grown-up sons) and a fantastic start to 2020 and the first year of the new decade. – Jill 
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My Year in Books 2019 – Part 2

Merry Christmas Everyone, five sleeps to go till Santa arrives.

I’m continuing my year in books – Goodreads brief reviews or book blurbs. Fifty books will require two more posts. Here’s part two, as they are long reviews, part three will need to finish off my year in books, 2019. 

Rosie Bird aka Song Bird, Superhero has nightmares about how the Great Barrier Reef is dying. Green Turtle Island is closing down and the marine creatures are disappearing. The family holiday is turning sour, the natural life they came to see is no longer in the oceans surrounding the island. What’s happening? Is her arch-enemy Destructo behind the devastation? Can she rescue the Great Barrier Reef before its too late?

Luckily for Song Bird, her best friends are with her on the investigation. Amy her super-smart nerd friend with a wheelchair full of gadgets, and Ben her other BFF. How does Destructo always manage to stay a step ahead? They would have to find out.
Through a time portal, Song Bird and Ben go back to the past. Amy was meant to go with them but she disappeared before they left. Things go badly as soon as they arrive in the pristine past. The King of the Island thinks Song Bird is trouble and locks her up. Ben is captured too. How can she find a way to convince the King she’s there to help save the future reef? Her friends come to the rescue. Then Song Bird takes a dangerous journey to collect a piece of the coral reef to take back to the future to rejuvenate it. Amy gains super mermaid powers and they work together. But what happened to Ben? Once they find out Destructo’s evil plan, they return to the future. Destructo is still ruining the marine environment and must be stopped. Will their trip into the past save the Great Barrier Reef? As with all Song Bird books, the story is a world not quite our own, but very nearly. At the end of the book, Karen has added information for young curious minds to learn about the Great Barrier Reef. The facts are given in a clear concise way. Options to help our environment are given and website addresses to find out more listed. I find the message of learning about problems, solving them with self-empowerment, and the strength of sticking together with friends, a powerful one underpinning all Karen’s books.

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Peony wants to be a Bee more than anything in the world. She and her sister Mags are very good Pests. It takes a lot to make it through the test to become a Bee and if she did, they would have more food. Peony tries even though she’s too young. Her friend Applejoy has an excellent smile and he does make it through the test the Boz or Forman sets. This time she is tripped up by a mean girl Pomz, so she fails the test. Pomz and AJ are the new Bees.

Gramps makes them good food and gives good hugs. When Ma comes home from the city, all worn out and crying, Gramps feeds her and gets her to sleep. His love rejuvenates his daughter Rosie enough for her to go back to the city. Peony and Mags want Ma to stay. They don’t need the money she brings home with her. They live in a shed on the farm. AJ and his mum and MJ live in a shed nearby. What could be better than the learning over the radio and working on the farm?

Peony is dragged away to the city and her world is turned upside down. She sees her Ma being bossed around and she doesn’t like the Ape Man who pulls her into the car. She must work and be polite, even though she doesn’t know what that means. She meets Esmeralda and finds out that people can be frightened of going outside. Peony makes a promise, and so does her new friend Ez.

This book is wonderfully written and a world without bees becomes a possible near-future reality. It’s no wonder this book won and was shortlisted in so many awards. I’m sure to re-read it many times.

Jake in Space Mercury Rising by Candice Lemon Scott
The excitement was building the planets would align and it would be an awesome show if only Jakes parents could agree on how to set up the megascope to see it. Luckily for Jake, his cyborg friend Henry, comes to take him to Mercury for a great planet side view. His other friends Skye, Milly, and Rory were already aboard the best Space 4045 jet car. They soon discover that Henry is on assignment for the Central Intergalactic Agency (CIA) and that they must defuse bombs set to go off on Mercury to save Earth and they have to complete this mission before the planets align.

They are amazed to find two of their old enemies Gradlock and Valerie, have united to put the dreadful plan into action. Will they be able to find the bombs and stop them from causing both Mercury and Earth to be destroyed?

Candice has written another fast-paced action-filled book for young readers who are sure to love this page-turning adventure.

Jake in Space Volcanoes of Venus by Candice Lemon Scott

Jake thought he’d won the best prize ever. He was in the Floating Hotel of Venus with his mum and dad. His friends Rory, Skye and Milly arrived not long after they did with their parents. Henry the cyborg arrived last. He wasn’t on assignment from the CIA (Central Intergalactic Agency) this time and he was upset about it. They’d told him to take a holiday. Anyone else would love that but not Henry.

Everything at the hotel was amazing starting with the lava fountain in the foyer. They start to enjoy being pampered with a ride to their rooms and non-stop food. When Henry knocks on Jakes room door his parents think he’s a bit weird when he goes to smell the garbage chute. He leaves quickly and Jake must find out what he’s up too, it’s too strange, even for Henry.

Next day four friends are booked to go on the Volcanoes of Venus tour. Jake, Skye, Rory and Milly are surprised to see Henry in the pilot chair having disabled the robot pilot. What’s going on with the garbage? Why is Henry sniffing out a problem? Why is the rubbish from the hotel being dumped in the volcano, it smells disgusting! It’s dangerous too as it’s creating a cap that could blow off and destroy the hotel. Who would want to do that?

Would they solve the mystery without getting captured or thrown into the volcano where the rubbish is being tipped?

This is an exciting romp and one that will sure to please young readers.

The Ivory Rose by Belinda Murrell

Jemma just started her first babysitting job in one of Sydney’s iconic homes known as the Witches’ Houses. The house is old and run down and Sammy is a fun-loving energetic girl. Her mum Maggie, is an artist and single mum, needing Sammy to be occupied for a few hours each afternoon so she can finish her work for an exhibition.

The rambling house is a bit creepy and Sammy’s cat screeches and spits when the air in her room gets cold. Mater of factly Sammy tells Jemma that her friend Georgie is in the room. The chair in the corner of the room begins to rock. At first, Jemma thinks the little girl has an overactive imagination then other strange things happen.

At home her parents are always busy and hardly there for Jemma, so she spends a lot of time at her best friend Ruby’s place. It’s untidy and chaotic but filled with love and laughter. Jemma’s home is a show home of neatness and she feels detached. It’s nearly her birthday and she’s longing to just hang out, having a sleepover, painting their nails and chatting. Her mum has other ideas.

Jemma looks up the history of the Witches Houses of Annandale on her laptop. She finds out a lot about the area and about Rosethorn house. She read that a little girl Georgiana Rose Thornton had been murdered in the house. Was it a coincidence that Sammy called her invisible friend Georgie? The next Monday Jemma rushed to Sammy’s after school. She found more things had been unpacked. Jemma suggested she and Sammy read then they play hide and seek. She looked for Sammy and found her frightened and hiding in a secret cupboard. Jemma saw a flash of the past when a pin stuck in her hand. Once they were back in Sammy’s room Jemma calmed the little girl down, she put the dainty pendant carved from creamy ivory in the shape of a perfect rose on the dressing table, ivory rose. But who was Aggie? Why did Sammy think someone was trying to hurt Georgie?

Sammy left to go downstairs and Jemma couldn’t resist putting on the pendant. Shadow the cat spat again and the room was cold. Jemma felt that someone was with her in the room. Someone wanting to hurt her. The history of the Witches’ Houses in Johnston Street linking Rosethorne house from the century before Jemma’s time to her own suddenly became very real.

This is an intriguing time-slip story and one with a very satisfying end.

Chicken Little Investigates by 

Lois Wickstrom (Goodreads Author)
Sir Isaac Newton and Chicken Little did the same thing. Chicken Little would have figured it out if she had investigated. In this version, she does, and in the process saves herself and her friends from Foxy Woxy.
A twist on a tale, this book using the same characters in Chicken Little. This time the little chicken investigates and comes up with a name for the discovery of something falling down to the ground. Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey came up with different names. They all outsmarted Foxy Woxy, who’d lured them into his den. Then they all went to the King to name their discovery. He was wise and did his own experiment and came up with his own name. This is a cute book with lovely illustrations by Francie Mion. I think this is a great modern take on ‘the sky is falling’ original classic and one, I believe, young children are sure to enjoy.

Carrie’s Flight by Lois Wickstrom illustrated by Francie Mion

Being a Grandmother, I could relate to this book, that I truly love. If I downsized and moved, I would love to leave behind boxes of treasures for my granddaughter to touch, so she could feel close to me. It would be magical to be able to leave feathers that she could put on and fly to me. These are the dreams we all share that make this book emotive and its beautiful illustrations by Francie Mion so delightful. I also enjoyed the educational aspect at the end of the book about Starlings. I’m certain that many youngsters are taken to the sky, wearing imagination wings, when they read this book.

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee
Annabel Grey has been bought up in a privileged home, with an elegant mother and Miss Finch’s Little Blue Book (1855) to guide her. Such advice as – ‘A young lady does not yawn or sigh but listens attentively to any lesson a wise anecdote an elder may offer.’ This may not be helpful when meeting Miss Henrietta Vine, her Great Aunt, for the first time. Especially when her Aunt tells her that she is a witch and must learn magic.

When Mr Angel arrives at the magic shop he gives Annabel a message to pass on to her Great Aunts. Then she meets Aunt Estella and is told that she is – ‘A most magical girl’. Annabel must travel to Under London to save the good magic in the world. Miss Henrietta is not as sure as her sister that Annabel is ‘A most magical girl.’ The threat is close as Mr Angel has already bought a dark fog down over the city and is raising shadowlings to do his bidding.

Annabel is given a broomstick, a wand and a reluctant travelling companion. Kitty is also magical and not many are like her in the world. She can talk to fairies. She can run errands from Henrietta and Estella Vine’s magic shop to the Wizards and all those ageing members of The Great & Benevolent Magical Society. Kitty is wild and sleeps where she will at night. She knows all of London and listens to the trees speak. One day she’ll cough up her heart light and the body she is in will vanish.

Annabel is a plain Mayfair girl when she arrives at her Aunts. She misses her mother, who left her to go abroad. Her mother told her that her father had been in the navy and died at sea. How could she take on such a dangerous journey when she doesn’t know if there is any magic in her at all. She listens to her Aunt’s advice, be brave, be good. She learns about true friendship. She learns about her father The Great Geraldo Grey and that her elegant mother is very magical and told her lies about her father.

I loved the way the ending tied up loose ends and left a smile in your mind and heart. I think this book gives children hope, when they have self-doubts, when they don’t think themselves strong enough to fight for what they must, the message here is – Be good. Be Brave.

This whole book is delightfully written. Every word conjures up images of conflict and insecurities. I love this book. It’s a keeper, I gave it Five Stars on Goodreads, make you happy in your heart keeper.

I thought at first the dark side of the book might be too much for young adults, knowing some start very young and others may not be emotionally ready, however, I changed my mind. Be good. Be brave. Treasure it.

This is another cute book by Lois Wickstrom who is also a talented artist.
I can see children enjoying a book about a dinosaur coming to school. The images of the children simply accepting a big red Dinopoamus coming through their schoolroom window and joining in their lessons. The teacher and the other students showing him how to adapt because he couldn’t speak charming. They didn’t want him to be upset when he couldn’t join in. This is a reflection on how youngsters act when meeting something or someone different, they adapt. I liked it

Pocket Guide to Publishing: 100 Things Authors Should Know

John L. Koehler, Joe Coccaro

Publisher John Koehler and executive editor Joe Coccaro share 100 golden nuggets of wisdom that help answer the many reoccurring questions that authors have.

How collaborative should the process be with a publisher? What is a decent royalty percentage? How is the price of your book determined? Do you need to have an attorney look at a contract before you sign? What’s the difference between line and copy editing? How much and what kind of marketing should an author expect to do?

These questions and many more are answered in this pocket guide to publishing.

Jake in Space Robot Games by Candice Lemon Scott

Jake and his friends Skye, Rory and Milly are excited about going to the Robot Games. It’s the best reward for winning the Rocket Battles space car race. Their cyborg friend Henry joined them and he was acting even stranger than usual popping Gob Pop in his mouth. He’d just had an upgrade and when he ate too much Gob Pop his cheeks puffed out like balloons then he shut down. Henry was spoiling their day but Jake needed to help his friend. They had to take him to the mediRobot Games by Candice Lemon-Scottcal centre but he was too heavy to lift. The cleaner helped with his flying robotic cleaning machine.

Things started to get weird and the kids decided to find out what was going on after being shut out of the medical centre. The doctor and nurse at the medical centre acted weird too. What were they doing to Henry? Was it his upgrade? How could they rescue their friend and save the people being locked in the arena? Would the Robots take over?

Action-packed from the first sentence, Candice has written another page-turning thriller for young readers.

I read this quickly, this tale had some dramatic revelations, but it left a ‘life sucks – be competitive and get on with it’ message. As a result, it ended on a downer. Having not long ago read Jane Fonda’s memoir, which was a difficult read but left an upbeat message, ‘you can change and become who you should be’ message. I preferred her take on life, however, Sidney Poitier did have some pertinent and candid reflections on his life and how his parent’s advice made him relate what made him who he is. The measure of a man ended with his grief at losing a close friend to prostate cancer. Many of his observations of current societies rang true.
The Voyage Series – Voyage To The Bottom Of The Bathtub by Peter Boey

Erik is a wild boy who is always getting into trouble. He can hold his breath underwater for a very long time. His sister Stephanie is very protective of him, although, she gets sick of having to rescue him when he does stupid things.

They hate living in the Australian outback away from the sea. Erik is drawn to the ocean and hates that his father’s disability is the reason they live there. Erik finds an old diving suit hidden in their attic. Why was it there? Stephanie wears a pendant that has some significant background in their lives. They just don’t know what it is. The mysteries stack up. Why do they live where they do? How did their father suffer the injuries that cause him to be unable to work? They are always short of cash. Why they don’t they move to the coast to be near the hospital he has to visit?

Everything changes for the whole family when they are offered a house to live in on the coast rent-free. They move to the seaside. Then they discover many revelations about their father and his sea diving past. Entwined with a sunken treasure, mysterious maps, and a bathtub at the bottom of a river, Erik becomes obsessed with finding out more. Stephanie worries about him while she investigates the strange dress shop their mother has started working in. It’s old and full of antique furniture and relics. It’s next door to a dive shop on a hill away from the Main Street in town. Both the home and the job come courtesy of an anonymous benefactor.

What they discover takes them on a dangerous path.

Peter is a fellow Ten Penner who writes beautiful quirky stories and this book is clearly the start of an intriguing series. As a former teacher with an inquisitive mind, he has created a page-turner young adults will fly through with relish. I’m looking forward to the next instalment in the journey.

Jane Fonda has written this book in Acts. Like everything in her life, she sees as segments divided as a play or theatre. She writes articulately and the very first scene brings you into the moment of solitude and desperation she felt as a child. Peeking out from a cardboard box she was hiding in to snatch glimpses of her mother further along on the verandah of their home. Her mother was pinning butterflies and Jane was in her box rubbing saddle soap into her half sister’s Pan’s saddle.
My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
Her father was her idol and he loved him dearly. The photos of him are scattered throughout the book. His influence on her life from the start was powerful. Jane looked up to him, he looked anywhere else. Her mother was a troubled woman who was sent away. Then she committed suicide and Jane blamed her for all the wrongs in her world. Her father called her fat and Jane spent much of her youth trying to please him. If she could please him, she would make it better.
Henry Fonda remarried and Susan went from being her father’s mistress to her stepmother. She was loving and kind and good to Jane. Her father would replace Susan when she left him. Jane was very confused and hurt. She ran free as a child, pretending to be a cowboy to be courageous, not feminine. Her life was a series of run wild and free moments. In her teens, she went to Paris to live. The acting was something she didn’t really want to do, but it gave her some direction. She started to live independently with an income.

In her mind, her mother had failed her father. She would always put her own thoughts and feelings aside to make it better. To be a complete person she needed to be with a man. Much of the book delves in her marriages and her inadequate role as wife and mother. Of the times she didn’t take control and allowed men to control her.

The first marriage to Vadim, who was like a rock star in his own right in France. She bowed to his every whim. The birth of their daughter Vanessa was not what she’d expected. Vadim was a gambler and a womaniser. It didn’t last. Then she became an activist and her second husband Tom was already a campaigner. She learned a great deal about others during this marriage. Her career was on a high with movies like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Coming Home.’ He was going into politics. They worked together but mentally went separate ways over the years. Then Ted Turner burst into her world after she separated from Tom. He wanted to date her. It was far too early to think about dating another man. She said so. Ted Turner was patient and gave her time. Just the time she gave him. Then he steamrolled into her life. Jane fell in love with the maverick. This time it was Jane realising she had changed and wanted a complete relationship. She made demands of her husband, ones he wasn’t able to meet.

This was a challenging read. Jane Fonda is remarkably frank about her dysfunctional childhood family and how the death of her mother shaped her feelings towards men. Her father was her idol but even as she reached out to him when filming ‘On Golden Pond’ their fellow co-star Audrey Hepburn described Hank Fonda as ‘a cold fish’.

Her writing of this memoir was clearly cathartic. It helped her to explain the reasons she needed to be with a man to be complete. Satisfyingly, she discovered in her sixties that this was no longer true. Now we know there have been a couple more Acts lived in Jane Fonda’s life since the writing of this book when she was in her early sixties. She has continued to forge a life in movies suiting her age and attacking stereotypes of older women. What a wonderful career she continues to have.

There are some books you read that you know will take a place in your mind and heart and you’ll look back on as a reference for your own feelings and exploration of the world. This is one such book.

 

I’ll end this post on this review of Jane Fonda’s memoir as it compares well with Sidney Poitier’s. I’ve fifteen more books to finish off my year in books, that’s the next post (hopefully before Christmas).

Enjoy the silly season, stay safe. – Jill

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My Year in Books 2019 wrap up

This is my Goodreads year in books. I aimed to read 45 books having struggled to read 40 last year and I’m happy to say I managed to read 50 books and still have a couple more to go. These are the 50 books with my reviews or Goodreads blurb.

You have read 50 of 45 books in 2019.
YOUR 2019 BOOKS

The Rainbow Slide

by Roslyn Wiegand

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published
Laura is spending her school holidays at Ebony House Orphanage where her aunt takes care of orphaned girls. On a previous holiday, Laura had met Vicki, an orphan, who is always getting into trouble.
This is a lovely story of Laura and her best friend Vicki who have some amazing adventures in a magical world that exists underneath the Orphanage. The rainbow slide wasn’t easy to find and only those who are chosen could discover the entrance to the world of the Caveland People. Ebony House Orphanage is the backdrop and springboard for their adventure. The girls agree to help Yazmarin, the leader of the Caveland people, to fight against an enemy who enlists the help of someone working in the Orphanage. The girls learn to be self-reliant and strong while discovering where the dangers are and where the lost key to the Magical Vault is. I enjoyed this story and believe it has a market for young chapter book readers.
AnChook Shed Snake by Phil Cummingsother Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns book with an insight into two kids and their dad making a chook house, all the while a creepy snake messes up their plans. Dad knows when to do as he’s told, but plans don’t always work out.
What a fun book. Ollie is being left at home with his Grandmother looking after him for two whole weeks. His mum is a ‘Health and Safety’ Award winner and she is very protective of him. He can’t do much and neither can most of the people in town. Grandma Dangerous is hilarious and the adventures are sure to delight youngsters. I’m hoping my granddaughter reads a chapter each night.
What a delightful book. I love the story, Jack has a new friend called Tashi who tells him wonderful stories. Dad always asks the wrong questions. The illustrations are brilliant. I’m giving this book to my granddaughter for Christmas and I’m sure she’ll love it.
Jack continues hearing Tashi tell him all about his adventures, making ghost pie and it’s a very angry Baron. Tashi helps everyone in the village. These books are delightful, beautifully illustrated and are a great start to chapter book reading for youngsters. I’m thrilled to be able to give this book to our granddaughter.
It’s so wonderful to relive the joy of reading this classic book. It’s no wonder it’s become so popular in other mediums. The book is always best though.
It is wonderful to re-read classic books. What can I add to the praise for this wonderfully crafted story, without saying that I simply have to re-read and enjoy – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, today!
Another great Aussie yarn this time from Sally Morgan and Illustrated by Beth Norling. Again another fantastic Australian themed story for kids. Gran was on cyclone alert and insisted Danny help her put blankets at the window and batten down the hatches. He thought she was overreacting. Even Dad didn’t think a Type 1 Cyclone was anything to worry about. But Gran insisted they tie down the caravan and made sure everything in the yard was locked away. She packed an Esky full of sandwiches and water and made them all go into the bathroom when the alert hit the TV. It had gone from Type 1 to Type 3. This is a great book to show kids that it’s best to be prepared and to help out when others lose everything they have. Congratulations to Big W for making these brilliantly written stories available for free. That’s a give away that’s worth its salt, great promotion!

 

Bern and Cody live in a little outback town where they have lizard races every year. Uncle Mo comes to visit to eat mums great tucker and to bet on the lizard races. Who knew Cody and Bern’s pet Frill-neck Lizard called Tarantula could run so fast? Cody had a secret way of talking to Tarantula and that’s how he got him to run. This is a great little Aussie yarn. James Moloney is a wonderful writer. Thanks to Big W for providing real Australian stories for children free. Wonderful giveaways that give back to us and our children and grandchildren.

Howling on a Concrete Moon by Simone BaileyTess is a clever girl who loves English and writing. She’s shy around boys and her little sister, Julianne, is athletic and outgoing. This story is set in 1982 when she’s seventeen. As a twelve-year-old, the town hierarchy imposed a ridiculous curfew on teenagers in the town. Tess produced a pamphlet that became a rallying of the youngsters in town to protest. The ‘Resistance’ wasn’t flash but, it was her creation.

The town smart alec, Sebastian Keddie, was her pen pal for several years while he was away at boarding school. She liked that he was smart, and they could have a conversation, but she didn’t like him. When he became even more unpopular in town, the local cleric asked her to visit him in hospital. This could spell the end of her friendship with her best friend, Megan, whose older brother Greg, is good looking. She can’t fall for her best friend’s brother though, can she? Her other friends Tony Wilson and Barry Rizzo don’t mind so much her visiting Sebastian, even though he’s hated by almost everyone else in town.

Tess has a secret that she hasn’t told anyone about. The only way she’s been able to manage to live with the nightmare is to write it down. She begins her memoir, bans her dad from his office and his ball-type electric typewriter, and starts to figure out her own feelings. Sebastian twigs that she has a problem, he doesn’t know what it is, but he makes Tess talk to Megan about it.

Tess wants to protect Julianne. She blames herself for letting things get so bad. Why didn’t she speak up? How could this situation have gone on for so long? Why didn’t her parents realise what was happening? Why was it her sister, and not her, that suffered the indignity?

This is a cleverly constructed coming of age story, with scenes of awkward teenage embarrassing moments that everyone can relate to. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry as you share Tess’s emotional journey.

For the young adult readers in your life, get a copy of this book and put it under the Christmas tree. It’s a great read.

Joe lives on a farm in an isolated rural community. He’s sad because the teacher wants all the children to bring an animal to school to meet Davina Dabchick who’s on the telly but is making a special trip to their school.

He couCrikey! by Jane Carrollldn’t take a cow! It had to be better than Patsy’s dog Esmerelda who was a dog show champion. He puttered home on his motorbike when he found a little galah chick that had dropped out of a tree. He took the chick home and called it Crikey. He taught Crikey lots of tricks and was sure Davina Dabchick would award him best animal on the day. But things don’t always go as planned.

Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns are brilliant reads. Thanks to Big W for giving this book away as part of a promotion. Much better than useless points. Here the point is kids read and learn something too.

This is a lovely anthology of heartwarming Christmas stories. A Share Your Story collaboration with Michelle Worthington being both contributor and organiser. Well done, I giggled and smiled, and my heart was touched, shedding the odd tear of joy.
This is a great collection of Halloween themed scary – but not too scary stories. Michelle Worthington has brought together an array of talented and creative writers. These stories are a little bit creepy, thought-provoking and many leave you withSpooktacular Stories by Michelle Worthington a smile. The stories will entertain children in hospitals throughout Australia and has already become an Amazon Award winner. I’m proud to be a part of the troupe of authors who created these tales.

Lois is so good a putting a twist on old fairy tales. This one is a feel-good version of Goldilocks and the three bears. The emphasis is on Goldilocks found the door to the bears home had been left unlocked and that she went inside because she could smell the porridge. This Goldilocks was very clever and fixed things in the house. The bears were glad she came and invited her back anytime. Children can learn that things can be repaired not discarded. In this consumer age – six simple machines – is a valuable lesson. The artwork by Nicole Hehn is childlike in simplicity enhancing the overall effect of the book.

Candice has written a wonderful read for kids with friendship, and a crazy Pelican taking centre stage and saving the intrepid Eco Rangers. I look forward to reading this whole series and passing them on to my granddaughters to enjoy.

This is an amazing book, full of thought-provoking optimism and life-changing ideas. At first, I couldn’t see how anyone living in such frightening circumstances would be able to survive. I know people do but reading this book shows ways to recover and move forward. Such powerful stuff. I’ll post a full review shortly.

Saving Saturn by Candice Lemon-Scott

Another fast and action-packed boys-own thriller. Full review shortly.

 

Three-year-old Lenny is a new big sister to her baby brother Davey. Her mother, Cynthia Spink, is good at knowing when something is not right. She had a bad feeling about Davey. He was born ‘Perfectly Normal’. Six days after Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon Davey turned five and he had a Lenny's Book of Everything by Karen Foxleetantrum, and, his mother knew the bad thing had arrived.

Davey was a beautiful baby who enjoyed hearing his mother tell him about the story of his birth. Each chapter is headed with age and height – 5 1/2 years old 4ft 3inches December 74. He had grown too big already. Lenny loved her brother, but she didn’t like that he was different, that other kids loved his happy smile and charming ways, he stood out. She had to look after him.

Peter Leonard Spink was their father who came and went. He worked away. He was home until baby Davey said, Dada. Then he saw a job advert and he went again. Although Cynthia said he’d come back, this time when he left, he didn’t return. She raised Lenny and Davey on her own, leaving them with Mrs Gaspar from next door when she went to work.

The Encyclopedia arrived from Burrell’s Publishing Company Limited – ‘Our gift to you is the gift of knowledge.’ Lenny and Davey loved learning all the wonderous things in each volume delivered. Lenny loved insects and Davey loved Falcons and birds of prey.

Davey grew and grew. Their world changed.

This book is about growing up and making mistakes along the way. Of grief and moving on. It is a wonderful book.

Karen Foxlee is rapidly becoming a favourite author of mine. I loved ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ and ‘A Most Magical Girl’. This is quite different but equally enchanting. If you’ve never read YA’s books before, this book is a great place to start.

The Magical Secret of The Crystal Kingdom – this is an enchanting story. Full review shortly.

10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010 by Maggie AldersonTen Short Stories You Must Read in 2010

by Maggie Alderson (Goodreads Author), Georgia Blain,  Mark Dapin, Nick Earls, Alex Miller, Judy Nunn, Malla Nunn, Craig Silvey (Goodreads Author), Rachael TreasureChristos Tsiolkas No Review on Goodreads yet.

Two Wolves by Tristan BancksTwo Wolves by Tristan Bancks

Ben Silver is a kid that likes making up video stories. He’s always wanted to be a Policeman but doesn’t know if they’ll take overweight people. His sister Olive is seven and annoying. They are home alone because their parents are at work in the wreckers yard. When the police come to the door he doesn’t know what they mean when they say, ‘we’ll catch up with them.’ They want to talk to their parents. What’s going on? They’ve never had a holiday and now in a rush, they are driven off in the bush to a cabin that was Ben’s grandfathers’ place. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Everything feels wrong. Ben’s dad always calls him Cop, because he asks so many questions. When they argue Ben’s dad wrestles him to the ground. He’s humiliated and defeated. His parents are acting weirdly. The food is running low. They didn’t come prepared for a long stay in a cabin. They were city kids. Ben felt he had to be there to keep Olive’s spirits up. They were scared. Especially when the food ran out and their parents took off. Being on their own wasn’t unusual, but being where they were was.

Left to their own devices Ben and Olive explored the surrounding area and fell in love with the wild and rugged river and bush. What had happened? Why were they on the run from the law? None of it made sense, but, Ben was determined to find out.

The twists and turns in this story are artfully woven into the story of a teenage kid finding out who he is and what place in the world he exists in.

Read this book in two days. It gripped from the first page. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more of Tristan Bancks work.

The above is the first half of the 50 books I’ll post part two shortly, hopefully before Christmas (less than a week to go, folks). – Happy reading – Jill

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Wrap up – I’m a Winner!!

A few days after the end of November – so I’m a bit late in announcing this to the world – but, I’m a NaNoWriMo Winner again!! This time I edited and as I’m now only working one day a week, I had an advantage. I’m also learning from various Scrivener tutorials that I’ve got a long way to go before I press compile. I need to sort out my Front and Back matter and then I’m almost there. I’m determined to finally get it done.

Facebook post 24/11/2019

Hi everyone, NaNoWriMo I’ve just reached 50,550 words! I’m a winner! But I’m not finished my compare edit so will continue over the six days. Once it’s all done, and I’ve stopped tweaking, I’ll finally get Scrivener to compile it so that I can upload into IS. That’s the aim.

And feedback on the new NaNoWriMo Website, I liked after learning where the time and update buttons were. I liked the graph and the daily tally giving you what you achieved daily. I like the overall, where I write, when I write bits. I’d like the link to this webpage to show the tally daily as it did in previous years.

On the whole, I thank my friends in The Ten Penners, five of which also set to the task of working away on their novels during NaNoWriMo 2019. It’s a great experience and sets up good writing habits. Bye for now – Jill

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NaNoWriMo Update and Book Review

Day 21 and I’m going cross-eyed doing my compare edit so I took time out to do another book review. If you add this in I’ll call it half an hour as taking my total to 44,050 words. I’ll be back to editing after a good nights sleep.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Nov19

Title: Howling on a Concrete Moon

Author: Simone Bailey

Publisher: Zeus Publications

Tess is a clever girl who loves English and writing. She’s shy around boys and her little sister, Julianne, is athletic and outgoing. This story is set in 1982 when she’s seventeen. As a twelve-year-old, the town hierarchy imposed a ridiculous curfew on teenagers in the town. Tess produced a pamphlet that became a rallying of the youngsters in town to protest. The ‘Resistance’ wasn’t flash but, it was her creation.

The town smart alec, Sebastian Keddie, was her pen pal for several years while he was away at boarding school. She liked that he was smart, and they could have a conversation, but she didn’t like him. When he became even more unpopular in town, the local cleric asked her to visit him in hospital. This could spell the end of her friendship with her best friend, Megan, whose older brother Greg, is good looking. She can’t fall for her best friend’s brother though, can she? Her other friends Tony Wilson and Barry Rizzo don’t mind so much her visiting Sebastian, even though he’s hated by almost everyone else in town.

Tess has a secret that she hasn’t told anyone about. The only way she’s been able to manage to live with the nightmare is to write it down. She begins her memoir, bans her dad from his office and his ball-type electric typewriter, and starts to figure out her own feelings. Sebastian twigs that she has a problem, he doesn’t know what it is, but he makes Tess talk to Megan about it.

Tess wants to protect Julianne. She blames herself for letting things get so bad. Why didn’t she speak up? How could this situation have gone on for so long? Why didn’t her parents realise what was happening? Why was it her sister, and not her, that suffered the indignity?

This is a cleverly constructed coming of age story, with scenes of awkward teenage embarrassing moments that everyone can relate to. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry as you share Tess’s emotional journey.

For the young adult readers in your life, get a copy of this book and put it under the Christmas tree. It’s a great read.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Update – Day 20

I haven’t been updating daily but I’ve been going well. I’m editing and with the 1 hour for 1000 words equation I’m now up to 43,550 words. I’m on a final compare edit to fine-tune anything else I might have missed.

I’ve been reading and will post a full review of this book, ‘Howling on a Concrete Moon’ by Simone Bailey, shortly. This book is published through Zeus Publications and I work there one day a week.

My brief Goodreads review is:

This is a very interesting take on a coming of age story. What would drive a shy and intelligent girl who has an athletic and gregarious younger sister, to start writing her memoirs? I’ll post a full review shortly.

I’ve also read some great little Aussie novella’s by accomplished authors that were free giveaways from Big W. Thankfully, one store chain has the sense to offer something other than useless points to their customers and the youth of Australia.

Goodreads review: How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard by James Moloney, Illustrated by Simone Linehan (such action in images, loved them) –

Bern and Cody live in a little outback town where they have lizard races every year. Uncle Mo comes to visit to eat mums great tucker and to bet on the lizard races. Who knew Cody and Bern’s pet Frill-neck Lizard called Tarantula could run so fast? Cody had a secret way of talking to Tarantula and that’s how he got him to run. This is a great little Aussie yarn. James Moloney is a wonderful writer. Thanks to Big W for providing real Australian stories for children free. Wonderful giveaways that give back to us and our children and grandchildren.

Goodreads review – Cyclone Fever: by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Beth Norling

Another great Aussie yarn this time from Sally Morgan and Illustrated by Beth Norling. Again another fantastic Australian themed story for kids. Gran was on cyclone alert and insisted Danny help her put blankets at the window and batten down the hatches. He thought she was overreacting. Even Dad didn’t think a Type 1 Cyclone was anything to worry about. But Gran insisted they tie down the caravan and made sure everything in the yard was locked away. She packed an Esky full of sandwiches and water and made them all go into the bathroom when the alert hit the TV. It had gone from Type 1 to Type 3. This is a great book to show kids that it’s best to be prepared and to help out when others lose everything they have. Congratulations to Big W for making these brilliantly written stories available for free. That’s a giveaway that’s worth it’s salt in the promotion!

And lastly: Crikey! by Jane & Zannah Carrol, illustrated by Chris Edser

Joe lives on a farm in an isolated rural community. He’s sad because the teacher wants all the children to bring an animal to school to meet Davina Dabchick who’s on the telly but is making a special trip to their school.

He couldn’t take a cow! It had to be better than Patsy’s dog Esmerelda who was a dog show champion. He puttered home on his motorbike when he found a little galah chick that had dropped out of a tree. He took the chick home and called it Crikey. He taught Crikey lots of tricks and was sure Davina Dabchick would award him best animal on the day. But things don’t always go as planned.

Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns are brilliant reads. Thanks to Big W for giving this book away as part of a promotion. Much better than useless points. Here the point is kids read and learn something too.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping going on my editing and have worked out some of the formatting issues, fixed the Contents page with the corrected order. I’d added some chapters and not changed the index. Happy NaNoWriMo everyone! – Jill

 

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NaNoWriMo Update – Day 10

I’m going great guns and finding lots of things to change in a manuscript I thought was thoroughly edited. So worthwhile exercise all round. I’m up to 25,250 words edited using the 1 hour equals 1000 words formula. Well ahead of target, but the formatting was messy and I’m fixing it too. Maybe Scrivener will auto fix it but I’m taking no chances.

We had a great Melbourne Cup Day at Twin Towns with friends. Laughs and even a small win! We only bet once a year and that’s a good thing. We spent $24 to win $15.50!!

Also, started to think about Christmas. With our change of address, the Christmas cards will go out with our new address. I have contacted everyone on Facebook and phone lists but feel sure someone will be missed.

It’s less than SEVEN weeks to Christmas! Yikes! How did that happen? Happy NaNoWriMo writing or editing everyone! – Jill

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Book Review and NaNoWriMo update – Day 6

My NaNoWriMo total to the end of Day 5 is 13,750 words (13 3/4 hours) as I’m editing. Day 6 and I’ve nearly done another hour, now, as a diversion from the editing I typed up my handwritten book review. Here it is. Now on with the editing.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Nov19

Title: Lenny’s Book of Everything

Author: Karen Foxlee

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Three-year-old Lenny is a new big sister to her baby brother Davey. Her mother, Cynthia Spink, is good at knowing when something is not right. She had a bad feeling about Davey. He was born ‘Perfectly Normal’. Six days after Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon Davey turned five and he had a tantrum, and, his mother knew the bad thing had arrived.

Davey was a beautiful baby who enjoyed hearing his mother tell him about the story of his birth. Each chapter is headed with age and height – 5 1/2 years old 4ft 3inches December 74. He had grown too big already. Lenny loved her brother, but she didn’t like that he was different, that other kids loved his happy smile and charming ways, he stood out. She had to look after him.

Peter Leonard Spink was their father who came and went. He worked away. He was home until baby Davey said, Dada. Then he saw a job advert and he went again. Although Cynthia said he’d come back, this time when he left, he didn’t return. She raised Lenny and Davey on her own, leaving them with Mrs Gaspar from next door when she went to work.

The Encyclopedia arrived from Burrell’s Publishing Company Limited – ‘Our gift to you is the gift of knowledge.’ Lenny and Davey loved learning all the wonderous things in each volume delivered. Lenny loved insects and Davey loved Falcons and birds of prey.

Davey grew and grew. Their world changed.

This book is about growing up and making mistakes along the way. Of grief and moving on. It is a wonderful book.

Karen Foxlee is rapidly becoming a favourite author of mine. I loved ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ and ‘A Most Magical Girl’. This is quite different but equally enchanting. If you’ve never read YA’s books before, this book is a great place to start.

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NaNoWriMo update

It’s The Ten Penners monthly meeting today and I’m pleased to say I’ve made a great start on my NaNoWriMo. Being a rebel and working on One-hour editing equates to One Thousand words. Yesterday, I rose early and did three hours, and after our normal walks, housework and going out for lunch, then in the evening, I managed another hour.

I’m hoping by doing as much as I can each day when I strike a day I can’t get anything done I’ll have it covered.

Looking forward to seeing all my inspirational writing friends and getting a kick out of learning more about Scrivener.

Happy Writing fellow NaNoWriMo’s!! – Jill

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NaNoWriMo Prep – I’m a rebel and will be editing

NaNoWriMo Prep – I’m a rebel and will be editing so I’m figuring out where I can write. It’s a card table in the lounge/dining area of our new unit. Space is at a premium, I will manage though.

I’ve done another book review today and sorted out a bit more of my manuscript to be reprinted through Scrivener thanks to a brilliant tutorial I recently watched, I now imported my word document and can sort it out much more thoroughly.

Of course, I’m still deciding whether I’ll put the two previous NaNoWriMo manuscripts – Microworld and Microworld Undersea together, or if I’ll just rework my old manuscript to get it republished.

Now for the book review:

Book Review by Jill Smith©Oc19

Title: 10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010

Authors: Authors: Maggie Alderson, Georgia Blain, Mark Dapin, Nick Earls, Alex Miller, Judy Nunn, Malla Nunn, Craig Silvey, Rachel Treasure, Christos Tsiolkas

Produced by: Produced by the Australian Council for the Arts

I won this book as part of a package from the Library ‘Get Reading’ program. The Foreword by Sandra Yates, Chair of Get Reading. I’ve never needed to be encouraged to read but I know others struggle to read books as they prefer newspapers or magazines. This is 2019 so it’s one of those books I put off for someday having many others to read.

Some of these stories left a mark. I particularly enjoyed Maggie Anderson’s ‘Dress Medium’. Felicity is a psychic shopper whose talent could lose her everything, Anya is an antique shop owner desperate to sell ‘deadstock’, she discovers they are a perfect match. ‘Confession’ by Malla Nunn is an intriguing tale of a Priest who helped turn around the fortunes of McAlister’s orphanage. Well written with immersive descriptions of the horse-riding Priest and the children’s carer. I particularly loved ‘The Amber Amulet’ by Craig Silvey in which a solitary boy sets out to save the world in his street, one house at a time, after dark he becomes ‘The Masked Avenger’. It is a disarmingly charming story of self-discovery. ‘The Evolution of Sadie Smith’ was a great story very much in keeping with getting a reader interested in where it would go. I was surprised and delighted by this story. A young widow changed her own life with the help of mail she hadn’t ordered being delivered. The other authors all contribute in their own style, Nick Earls has his straightforward deadpan style with Steve when going for coffee with Jeremy, an almost tolerated, almost friend when they go to buy coffee at Merlo girls.

If you happen across this book it is worth picking up and taking to read. This copy is likely to make it into a second-hand bookstore for someone else to devour.

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Book Review – Goldilocks and the Six Simple Machines – Lois Wickstrom

I’ve been asked to review many books over the years and these twist on a Fairy Tale books by Lois Wickstrom are delightful.

Lois is so good a putting a twist on old fairytales. This one is a feel-good version of Goldilocks and the three bears. The emphasis is on Goldilocks found the door to the bears home had been left unlocked and that she went inside because she could smell the porridge. This Goldilocks was very clever and fixed things in the house. The bears were glad she came and invited her back anytime. Children can learn that things can be repaired not discarded. In this consumer age – six simple machines – is a valuable lesson. The artwork by Nicole Hehn is childlike in simplicity enhancing the overall effect of the book.

I’m wanting to have all my book reviews up to date in the next week so I can concentrate on NaNoWriMo. This will be an interesting exercise this year as I plan to edit, which is not my strength. I have no desk or printer connected at the moment so will be working on my laptop. This would be lovely if I had a table, but alas, the joys of moving our dining table delivery having been delayed, I am currently working off the kitchen bench. Let’s see how it goes? – Jill

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Spooktacular Stories launched…

spooktacular book launch good witch jill casting spellThe Spooktacular book launch yesterday 12th October 2019 was great fun. Lots of book signing, kids activities, face painting and best of all l met many talented creative people who inspire me. Here are some pictures courtesy of Maria of SCBWI and the proud aunt of the youngest author in the book. All the authors who attended read snippets of their stories to the engrossed audience.

My own copy of this great book is signed by-

Michelle Worthington – Share My Story host Sandra Bennett, Trish Donald, John Drake, M J Gibbs, Karen Hendricks, Jennifer Horn, Alison McLennan, and June Perkins. I think I missed a couple of creatives who were there but hope to catch up with them another time.

Here are some pictures courtesy of Maria of SCBWI and the proud aunt of the youngest author in the book.

I’m delighted to say the books flew off the shelves and the hosts at The Mad Hatters Bookshop provided a wonderfully enchanting venue.

To cap it all off my fellow Ten Penners, Marion Martineer and Kate Russell were able to travel up to Manly from the Gold Coast. No mean feat on a day with heavy rain that was truly wonderful to see but terrible to drive in. It was an amazing day! – Jill

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Spooktacular Stories Book launch is today!

Looking forward to an exciting day today. Meeting the most wonderful creatives who contributed to this great book. Will update later today! – Jill

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Spooktacular Stories book launch tomorrow!

thrilling tales for brave kids Spooktacular Stories anthology coverTomorrow at The Mad Hatters Bookshop in Manly I’ll be joining a bunch of talented creatives who contributed to this great book. Thanks, Michelle Worthington for getting it all together. The books will be distributed to hospitals throughout Australia.

Michelle Worthington’s Facebook post – Congratulations to our Share Your StoryAnthology Angels, in this case witches for a Not-So-Scary Storytelling at the Queensland Childrens Hospital, donating copies of the book to our bravest little readers. Some of them flew on their brooms all the way from Adelaide and Canberra! Can’t wait to get for the official launch this Saturday at The Mad Hatters Bookshop. It’s going to be Spooktacular!

We’ve already won an Amazon award for the book and it’s available in libraries. So if you can go ask for a copy that would be great.

More tomorrow from the good witch. – Jill

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NaNoWriMo prep October 2019

November is NaNoWriMo month and October is the preparation month. I have three manuscripts written during previous NaNoWriMo challenges and have decided to be a rebel this year and edit. I’ll try to whip my ‘Microworld’ and ‘Microworld Undersea’ into shape, the shape of one book.

img_0281We’ve moved and still unpacking boxes. We don’t have a dining table or curtains yet so it’s all a bit primitive. Our second bedroom once free of boxes will be the room with a sofa bed on one wall and a desk and bookcase on the other. That’s a little way away yet.

The best part about living where we do now is that we’re a six-minute walk to the beach. The family arrived during school holidays and we enjoyed a dip in the pool at the units and paddling in the ocean. It was lovely.

On Saturday at the Ten Penners meeting, we all chatted happily about our current projects. Marion is having her Steampunk manuscript assessed at the SCWBI conference in November. I’d love to go but doubt I will be able to. Kate has just returned from an overseas adventure. Louisa is going great guns with her editing and development of her Utopia series and working on an adults book as well. Michelle shared notes of the CYA conference. Julie wrote a lovely story she’s planning to put into a competition. Lindy and I keep plotting along with our little stories. I do have five books to review and must get into gear with them. We don’t even have a dining table yet, so it’s been a while between posts for that reason.

img_0612Today is a glorious Monday Public holiday and we’ll be visiting our friends in Pimpama and sharing our moving house news with them. Have a wonderful day everyone! – Jill

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The final countdown has begun…

Yes, we are nearing the end of our temporary living arrangements. It’s been a busy month. We now have packed up and moved out of our old home in Robina. Lived with laughs and fun times with our friends in Pimpama for two weeks and two days, and enjoyed their hospitality, dogs and fun with friends. If you’ve never played ‘Chicken Foot’ you’ll have to try it! Buy a set of Double 12 Domino’s to begin the hilarity.

Our settlement is now going to be a little earlier so we’re planning our next stage. The count down to the move-in has begun.

I’ve read a couple of books but not written the reviews yet. Watch out for my reviews of ‘The Magical Secret of the Crystal Kingdom’ by P S Nicholls, and ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’ by Karen Foxlee, who is rapidly becoming my favourite author of the moment.

Stay tuned to resume normal service (or as normal as can be expected when being surrounded by boxes).

  • Jill

 

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Goodbye Hindmarsh Court, hello new adventure

Leaving a home of twenty-four years is hard, but, we’re looking forward to a new adventure.

The bookshelves are being sold at auction this weekend. They and the corner unit are the last remaining vestiges of our former life, apart from the red lounge suite.

 

Everything else apart from the clothes we’ve bought with us in cases is in storage.

We are enjoying being spoilt at the ‘Parker Hilton’. Our wonderful friends are fun to be with and their little dogs ‘Bella’ and ‘Lucy’ are gorgeous.

Now for more adventures.

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Madly moving

One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that packing is a big job, especially when you’ve been in one place for over twenty-four years. I’m on the downhill run but now at the point, I can’t put stuff in boxes that I need at the last minute.
I have books I’ve just read, they can go in. I have books I am about to read or just started. I should get a chance to finish these when we’re between homes (which I’m hoping won’t be for a whole month). I have those important writing notes that have stacked up that I’ve managed to squeeze into a filing cabinet. Now writing itself has been put on the back burner, but, I can’t wait to get back to it. I’m consoling myself after demolishing my organised writing home office that I’ll have more time at the next house. Less room, but more time. Everything is downsizing.
The books I have on the go are in Goodreads, (so I must read them) once there I check them off after reviewing. Sam’s Theory is on the laptop or iPad was a requested read and one I’ve been wanting to read as the first two pages are a hook. ‘Momo Freaks Out’ by Samone Bos, was given to me for my birthday. I’ve started it, so far the series of blog posts are a bit like my own ramblings, although a more raunchy. I just need to get into it. Then three books for my pure enjoyment that will be quick reads ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’ by Karen Foxlee, ‘Jake in Space 6 -Saving Saturn’ and another by Candice Lemon-Scott, her new series beginning ‘Eco Rangers – Pelican in Peril’.
My greatest fear among the stack of boxes and disappearing furniture is that my books will disappear too! OMG – that would freak me out. That won’t happen, they will be with my laptop and it’s staying close. (As close as my husband who is freaking out.)
I hope everyone who reads my posts followed my #astoryadayjuly which I enjoyed doing. Thanks again to Michelle Worthington for the great motivational suggestions. As I learned to schedule posts in her January Facebook Challenge, I was able to do the whole month ahead of time as moving house and packing has made me time-poor.
I might suggest a story a day challenge for my fellow writing family ‘The Ten Penners’. The topics get you thinking.
Next post will be on the other side of the move, either in our temporary accommodation at the ‘Parker Hilton’ or in our new unit.
Wish us luck in the transition. It’s a big one!
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Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks reviewed by Jill Smith

two wolves coverBook Review by Jill Smith©Jul19

Title: Two Wolves

Author: Tristan Bancks

Publisher: Random House Australia

Ben Silver is a kid that likes making up video stories. He’s always wanted to be a Policeman but doesn’t know if they’ll take overweight people. His sister Olive is seven and annoying. They are home alone because their parents are at work at the wrecker’s yard. When the police come to the door, he doesn’t know what they mean when they say, ‘we’ll catch up with them.’ They want to talk to their parents. What’s going on?

They’ve never had a holiday and now in a rush, they are driven off in the bush to a cabin that was Ben’s grandfathers’ place. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Everything feels wrong. Ben’s dad always calls him Cop, because he asks so many questions. When they argue Ben’s dad wrestles him to the ground. He’s humiliated and defeated. tristan bancks bio pic in book

His parents are acting weirdly. The food is running low. They didn’t come prepared for a long stay in a cabin. They are city kids. Ben feels he had to be there to keep Olive’s spirits up. They are scared. Especially when the food ran out and their parents take off. Being on their own wasn’t unusual but being where they were was.

Left to their own devices Ben and Olive explore the surrounding area and fall in love with the wild and rugged river and bush. What had happened? Why were they on the run from the law? None of it makes sense, but Ben is determined to find out.

The twists and turns in this story are artfully woven into the story of a teenage kid finding out who he is and what place in the world he fits.

I read this book in two days. It gripped from the first page. I’ll be reading more of Tristan Bancks work.

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#astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge

For those who haven’t caught up with my challenge, it’s day 13 and my next scheduled post will be published at 7.45am. It’s handy that the Jill Smith Aussie Author page allows for scheduling. Something I discovered while doing the Facebook challenge earlier in the year. Michelle Worthington has great ideas and ways to make you push michelle worthington bio picyourself as a writer. Considering I’m time poor this month due to selling our house and packing. I’m pleased to say I’ve only three days left to schedule my posts to complete the month.

Here are a couple of catch up posts for those who might have missed them.

Day 11 of the #astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge
Book of Poetry – This must be Banjo Paterson

banjo paterson book coverAndrew Barton Paterson Facts.
Andrew Barton Paterson (1864-1941) was an Australian folk poet popularly known as “Banjo” Paterson from his pen name, “The Banjo.” His swinging rhythms captured the atmosphere of the land, life, and humour of Australia’s people.

My dad was very ‘Occer’ and he would occasionally quote a line of poetry such as ‘A spectator’s leg was broken — just from merely looking on.’

I remember fondly ‘The Geebung Polo Club’, ‘The Man from Snowy River’, ‘Clancy of the Overflow,’ ‘Waltzing Matilda’, and ‘The man from Iron Bark.’ To mention but a few. Sadly, when I visited my son and his wife recently, I discovered that my twenty-seven-year-old daughter-in-law had little knowledge of our Australian icon and Poet Banjo Paterson. They live in Brisbane and we drove to a place in Geebung for lunch. I started saying I loved ‘The Geebung Polo Banjo paterson on the ten dollar noteClub’ and she looked at me as if I’d grown donkey’s ears. I looked up the poem on my phone and started reading it to her. My son was in the shop and we were waiting for his return. I was appalled that she didn’t know much about him or the poem I started spouting with gusto. What are schools teaching kids these days? I wonder has this truly Australian icon and the musical language died out?

The Man From Snowy River stampThe Geebung Polo Club by A B Paterson

It was somewhere up the country, in a land of rock and scrub,
That they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club.
They were long and wiry natives from the rugged mountainside,
And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn’t ride;
But their style of playing polo was irregular and rash —
They had mighty little science, but a mighty lot of dash:
And they played on mountain ponies that were muscular and strong,
Though their coats were quite unpolished, and their manes and tails were long.
And they used to train those ponies wheeling cattle in the scrub:
They were demons, were the members of the Geebung Polo Club.

It was somewhere down the country, in a city’s smoke and steam,
That a polo club existed, called ‘The Cuff and Collar Team’.
As a social institution ’twas a marvellous success,
For the members were distinguished by exclusiveness and dress.
They had natty little ponies that were nice, and smooth, and sleek,
For their cultivated owners only rode ’em once a week.
So they started up the country in pursuit of sport and fame,
For they meant to show the Geebungs how they ought to play the game;
And they took their valets with them — just to give their boots a rub
Ere they started operations on the Geebung Polo Club.banjo paterson pic

Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,
When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;
And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone
A spectator’s leg was broken — just from merely looking on.
For they waddied one another till the plain was strewn with dead,
While the score was kept so even that they neither got ahead.
And the Cuff and Collar Captain, when he tumbled off to die,
Was the last surviving player — so the game was called a tie.
Then the Captain of the Geebungs raised him slowly from the ground,
Though his wounds were mostly mortal, yet he fiercely gazed around;
There was no one to oppose him — all the rest were in a trance,
So he scrambled on his pony for his last expiring chance,
For he meant to make an effort to get victory to his side;
So he struck at goal — and missed it — then he tumbled off and died.
*****
By the old Campaspe River, where the breezes shake the grass,
There’s a row of little gravestones that the stockmen never pass,
For they bear a crude inscription saying, ‘Stranger, drop a tear,
For the Cuff and Collar players and the Geebung boys lie here.’
And on misty moonlit evenings, while the dingoes howl around,
You can see their shadows flitting down that phantom polo ground;
You can hear the loud collisions as the flying players meet,
And the rattle of the mallets, and the rush of ponies’ feet,
Till the terrified spectator rides like blazes to the pub —
He’s been haunted by the spectres of the Geebung Polo Club.

Day 8 of the #astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge
Adored Author

Anne McCaffrey booksAnne McCaffrey who wrote my all-time favourite science fiction/fantasy books ‘Restoree’, ‘The Ship Who Sang’ and the Series of dragon books including ‘Dragonsong’, ‘Dragonflight’, ‘Red Star Rising’, ‘Dragonsinger’, ‘Moreta Dragonlady of Pern’, and the ‘White Dragon.’ She also co-wrote ‘Dragon’s Kin’ with her son Tod, and ‘Acorna’s Search’ and ‘Acorna’s Rebels’ with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. I have all these books on my bookshelf and will delight in re-reading them whenever the need to return to the world of Pern, or simply reconnect with the wonderful concepts of a woman being recreated as an alien on a new world after having been skinned and left for dead as in ‘Restoree’. I’ve read more of the Brain ship series but only have ‘The Ship Who Sang’ on my shelf, another brilliant concept that gets to the heart of what it is to be human.

To say that reading her books influenced my decision to become a writer is an understatement. I love her style of writing and the characters she creates.

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#astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge

 #astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge

Here are the first two days of this challenge, posted on the first and second of July respectively. I’ve been very busy scheduling posts on my Jill Smith Aussie Author page.

elephant rock 1Day 1 of the #astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge
Local Attraction – Elephant Rock

We go for long walks each weekend and one of our favourite haunts is the esplanade from Kirra to Greenmount Beach. Sometimes we start at Elephant Rock where the Vikings Surf Club is perched at above a rugged rocky outcrop on the water line. It’s beautiful and an icon of the area.

elephant rock 2

 

 

For many years I had bad knees and looked up at the steep stairs at Elephant Rock as an impossible mountain to climb. Now after two knee operations and much-improved health, I delight in being able to take the precipitous steps to the magnificent view. The reward of being able to see the sea cascading in along the pristine stretch of sandy beaches is heart-warming.

elephant rock 3It’s also a place where Anzac Day ceremonies are held and the images of red poppies cascading down the rock in a river of blood are so moving.

Elephant Rock is a Local attraction and one tourists’ and gold coast beach lovers enjoy.

 

 

Day 2 of the #astoryadayjuly Facebook challenge

angus lying downScrub a Dub Dub

When visiting our son and his new wife and their large, friendly, big-eyed Bull Arab Cross dog, we sit in the yard watching the dog play with his rope, chew on his plastic toys and wag his whip-like tail in jubilant excitement. He also talks in a very dog whining whimpering way.

When it comes to bath time, my son and his wife have a special routine. Yes, Angus has his own shampoo, his lead is bought out and he’s tied to a post. Dog treats at the ready and the hose ready to douse his body they begin.

First is the water with our son following up with a sudsy foam rubbed in from head to toe. The dog looks at our son adoringly but still tries to back away from the hose. He wriggles and tugs until finally, our son rewards him with a treat then finishes off with a massive towelling off.

So, the grey hair now is white, and the tan pattern stands out. He’s a beautiful dog. Until he rolls in the dirt and ruins all the good work.

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‘How to Bee’ by Bren MacDibble reviewed by Jill Smith

How To Bee coverBook Review by Jill Smith©Jun19

Title: How to Bee

Author: Bren MacDibble

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Peony wants to be a Bee more than anything in the world. She and her sister Mags are very good Pests. It takes a lot to make it through the test to become a Bee and if she did, they would have more food. Peony tries even though she’s too young. Her friend Applejoy has an excellent smile and he does make it through the test the Boz or Forman sets. This time she is tripped up by a mean girl Pomz, so she fails the test. Pomz and AJ are the new Bees.

Gramps makes them good food and gives good hugs. When Ma comes home from the city, all worn out and crying, Gramps feeds her and gets her to sleep. His love rejuvenates his daughter Rosie enough for her to go back to the city. Peony and Mags want Ma to stay. They don’t need the money she brings home with her. They live in a shed on the farm. AJ and his mum and MJ live in a shed nearby. What could be better than the learning over the radio and working on the farm?
Bren MacDibble bio pic

Peony is dragged away to the city and her world is turned upside down. She sees her Ma being bossed around and she doesn’t like the Ape Man who pulls her into the car. She must work and be polite, even though she doesn’t know what that means. She meets Esmeralda and finds out that people can be frightened of going outside. Peony makes a promise, and so does her new friend Ez.

MacDibble bio picThe book is wonderfully written and a world without bees becomes a possible near future reality. It’s no wonder this book won and was shortlisted in so many awards.

I’m sure to re-read it many times.

 

 

Winner of the NZ Book Prize for Junior Fiction 2018
Winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia 2018
Winner of the Patricia Wrightson Prize in the NSW Premiers Awards.
Shortlisted: Queensland Literary Prize
Shortlisted: South Australian Festival Literary Prize
Shortlisted: Aurealis Award
Shortlisted: Ditmar Award

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Kisses in your Heart blog tour #day4

I’m thrilled to be part of this blog tour. I love picture books and enjoy giving them as gifts to family and friends who have little people to share them with. As my granddaughters have grown older, I’ve shared the joy of reading books and will continue to do so.

#kissesinyourheart #blogtour #booksontourpr #day 4

Please, follow this blog tour and enter the competition to win your own copy of this gorgeous book.

 

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun19

Title: Kisses in your Heart

Author: Sonia Bestulic

Illustrator: Nancy Bevington

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

 

My review

This is a beautiful rhyming picture book. I am in awe of anyone who can create rhyme to create a story that is a song. The emotions generated are deep and soulful. Every mother wants to give their babies the knowledge of their inherent love. A love that carries through the days the child faces, through times when they are alone or unsure in a new situation.

Sonia writes from the deep connection with her children giving them the knowledge of her love being with them when they face daily challenges. The words are delightful and emotive. This book will be one for mums, dads, and grandparents will read many times to the little people in their lives. ‘Kisses in your Heart’ will leave a positive message of empowerment in the hearts of those children as they grow older.

From Sonia’s blog:

I love writing, speaking and presenting, having written numerous articles and delivered countless education events nationally and internationally, to empower parents, educators and business owners to learn more, grow more and enjoy what life has to offer.

As a Children’s Author, I have the privilege of sharing my creative expression, which entwines my extensive knowledge as a Speech & Language Pathologist, and my personal motherhood experiences.

With my deep passion and commitment to self-development, positive psychology and wellbeing; for people of all ages, I hope to share inspiration and perhaps plant a seed of thought, to strengthen your connection with you, your family and friends, and your community.

The illustrator Nancy Bevington was selected by Big Sky Publishing. Sonia and Nancy collaborated to create this masterful story. The illustrations enhance the words delivered in a heartfelt way.

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like to win a copy of ‘Kisses in your Heart?’

Let this book fill your heart with love and joy… 

Plenty of loving kisses will melt into your heart once you read Kisses in Your Heart with your loved ones. So, follow your instincts and reach out for a chance to WIN your own copy of this beautiful story by Sonia Bestulic and Nancy Bevington, courtesy of Big Sky Publishing.

All you need to do is answer, ‘Who or what places kisses in your heart?’

Good luck! 🙂

*Open to Australian residents only. To enter, fill out the form below. Winner will be notified via email and/or Facebook and will be required to provide an Australian postal address. Special thanks – prize courtesy of Big Sky Publishing.

The winning entrant will be selected at random. No further correspondence will be entered into. Winner must reply within 7 days for their prize to remain valid, otherwise, the prize will be forfeited.

Closes midnight AEST Sunday, June 16, 2019.

Website: www.soniabestulic.com.au

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sonia.bestulic

Instagram: Bestulic_sonia

Podcast: www.chataboutchildren.com

My belief is that communication is at the heart of connection, to our self, to others and the global community, and that the quality of these relationships is fundamental to our wellbeing.  – Sonia Bestulic

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Kisses in your Heart Blog Tour coming up…

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour to launch ‘Kisses in your Heart’ a beautiful picture book by Sonia Bestulic and illustrated by Nancy Bevington.

 A bright beautiful and empowering story to inspire little people to use the strength of love within.

It’s all happening next week.

Stay tuned…

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The Ivory Rose by Belinda Murrell reviewed by Jill Smith

the ivory rose cover

Book Review by Jill Smith©May19

Title: The Ivory ROSE

Author: Belinda Murrell

Publisher: Random House Australia

Jemma just started her first babysitting job in one of Sydney’s iconic homes known as the Witches’ Houses. The house is old and run down and Sammy is a fun loving energetic girl. Her mum Maggie, is an artist and single mum, needing Sammy to be occupied for a few hours each afternoon so she can finish her work for an exhibition.

The rambling house is a bit creepy and Sammy’s cat screeches and spits when the air in her room gets cold. Mater of factly Sammy tells Jemma that her friend Georgie is in the room. The chair in the corner of the room begins to rock. At first, Jemma thinks the little girl has an overactive imagination then other strange things happen.

At home her parents are always busy and hardly there for Jemma, so she spends a lot of time at her best friend Ruby’s place. It’s untidy and chaotic but filled with love and laughter. Jemma’s home is a show home of neatness and she feels detached. It’s nearly her birthday and she’s longing to just hang out, having a sleepover, painting their nails and chatting. Her mum has other ideas.belinda murrell

Jemma looks up the history of the Witches Houses of Annandale on her laptop. She finds out a lot about the area and about Rosethorn house. She read that a little girl Georgiana Rose Thornton had been murdered in the house. Was it a coincidence that Sammy called her invisible friend Georgie?

The next Monday Jemma rushed to Sammy’s after school. She found more things had been unpacked. Jemma suggested she and Sammy read and then play hide and seek. She looked for Sammy and found her frightened and hiding in a secret cupboard. Jemma saw a flash of the past when a pin stuck in her hand. Once they were back in Sammy’s room Jemma calmed the little girl down, she put the dainty pendant carved from creamy ivory in the shape of a perfect rose on the dressing table, an ivory rose. But who was Aggie? Why did Sammy think someone was trying to hurt Georgie?

Sammy left to go downstairs and Jemma couldn’t resist putting on the pendant. Shadow the cat spat again and the room was cold. Jemma felt that someone was with her in the room. Someone wanting to hurt her. The history of the Witches’ Houses in Johnston Street linking Rosethorne house from the century before Jemma’s time to her own suddenly became very real.

This is an intriguing time slip story and one with a very satisfying end.

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A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee reviewed by Jill Smith

a most magical girl alternate cover

Book Review by Jill Smith©May19

Title: A Most Magical Girl

Author: Karen Foxlee

Publisher: Piccadilly Press

Annabel Grey has been bought up in a privileged home, with an elegant mother and Miss Finch’s Little Blue Book (1855) to guide her. Such advice as – ‘A young lady does not yawn or sigh but listens attentively to any lesson a wise anecdote an elder may offer.’ This may not be helpful when meeting Miss Henrietta Vine, her Great Aunt, for the first time. Especially when her Aunt tells her that she is a witch and must learn magic.

When Mr Angel arrives at the magic shop he gives Annabel a message to pass on to her Great Aunts. Then she meets Aunt Estella and is told that she is – ‘A most magical girl’. Annabel must travel to Under London to save the good magic in the world. Miss Henrietta is not as sure as her sister that Annabel is ‘A most magical girl.’ The threat is close as Mr Angel has already bought a dark fog down over the city and is raising shadowlings to do his bidding. Karen-Foxlee2

Annabel is given a broomstick, a wand and a reluctant travelling companion. Kitty is also magical and not many are like her in the world. She can talk to fairies. She can run errands from Henrietta and Estella Vine’s magic shop to the Wizards and all those ageing members of The Great & Benevolent Magical Society. Kitty is wild and sleeps where she will at night. She knows all of London and listens to the trees speak. One day she’ll cough up her heart light and the body she is in will vanish.

Annabel is a plain Mayfair girl when she arrives at her Aunts. She misses her mother, who left her to go abroad. Her mother told her that her father had been in the navy and died at sea. How could she take on such a dangerous journey when she doesn’t know if there is any magic in her at all. She listens to her Aunt’s advice, be brave, be good. She learns about true friendship. She learns about her father The Great Geraldo Grey and that her elegant mother is very magical and told her lies about her father.

A most magical girl cover Karen FoxleeI loved the way the ending tied up loose ends and left a smile in your mind and heart. I think this book gives children hope, when they have self-doubts, when they don’t think themselves strong enough to fight for what they must, the message here is – Be good. Be Brave.

This whole book is delightfully written. Every word conjures up images of conflict and insecurities. I love this book. It’s a keeper, I gave it Five Stars on Goodreads, make you happy in your heart keeper.

I thought at first the dark side of the book might be too much for young adults, knowing some start very young and others may not be emotionally ready, however, I changed my mind. Be good. Be brave. Treasure it.

 

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My Life So Far by Jane Fonda reviewed by Jill Smith

my life so far Jane Fonda coverBook Review by Jill Smith©May19alternate Jane Fonda My Life So Far cover

Title: My Life So Far, Jane Fonda

Author: Jane Fonda

Publisher: Ebury Press, London

Jane Fonda has written this book in Acts. Like everything in her life, she sees as segments divided as a play or theatre. She writes articulately and the very first scene brings you into the moment of solitude and desperation she felt as a child. Peeking out from a cardboard box she was hiding in to snatch glimpses of her Henry_Fonda_and_Jane_-_1943mother further along on the verandah of their home. Her mother was pinning butterflies and Jane was in her box rubbing saddle soap into her half sister’s Pan’s saddle.

Her father was her idol and he loved him dearly. The photos of him are scattered throughout the book. His influence on her life from the start was powerful. Jane looked up to him, he looked anywhere else. Her mother was a troubled woman who was sent away. Then she committed suicide and Jane blamed her for all the wrongs in her world. Her father called her fat and Jane spent much of her youth trying to please him. If she could please him, she would make it better.486864.JPG

Henry Fonda remarried and Susan went from being her father’s mistress to her stepmother. She was loving and kind and good to Jane. Her father would replace Susan when she left him. Jane was very confused and hurt. She ran free as a child, pretending to be a cowboy to be courageous, not feminine. Her life was a series of run wild and free moments. In her teens, she went to Paris to live. The acting was something she didn’t really want to do, but it gave her some direction. She started to live independently with an income.

Jane_Fonda early acting daysIn her mind, her mother had failed her father. She would always put her own thoughts and feelings aside to make it better. To be a complete person she needed to be with a man. Much of the book delves in her marriages and her inadequate role as wife and mother. Of the times she didn’t take control and allowed men to control her.

The first marriage to Vadim, who was like a rock star in his own right in France. She bowed to his every whim. The birth of their daughter Vanessa was not what she’d expected. Vadim was a gambler and a womaniser. It didn’t last.

Then she became an activist and her second husband Tom was already a campaigner. jane fonda and activitst husbandShe learned a great deal about others during this marriage. Her career was on a high with movies like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Coming Home.’ He was going into politics. They worked together but mentally went separate ways over the years. Then Ted Turner burst into her world after she separated from Tom. He wanted to date her. It was far too early to think about dating another man. She said so. Ted Turner was patient and gave her time. Just the time she gave him. Then he steamrolled into her life. Jane fell in love with the maverick. This time it was Jane realising she had changed and wanted a complete relationship. She made demands of her husband, ones he wasn’t able to meet.

a-dysfunctional-childhoodThis was a challenging read. Jane Fonda is remarkably frank about her dysfunctional childhood family and how the death of her mother shaped her feelings towards men. Her father was her idol but even as she reached out to him when filming ‘On Golden Pond’ their fellow co-star Audrey Hepburn described Hank Fonda as ‘a cold fish’.

Her writing of this memoir was clearly cathartic. It helped her to explain the reasons she needed to be with a man to be complete. Satisfyingly, she discovered in her sixties that jane Fonda bio picthis was no longer true. Now we know there have been a couple more Acts lived in Jane Fonda’s life since the writing of this book when she was in her early sixties. She has continued to forge a life in movies suiting her age and attacking stereotypes of older women. What a wonderful career she continues to have.

There are some books you read that you know will take place in your mind and heart and you’ll look back on as a reference for your own feelings and exploration of the world. This is one such book.

 

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NF Reads an interview with Jill Smith

I’m delighted to be able to present interview questions by Tony of NF Reads, with me! Here’s the link to this inspiring site.

Interview With Author Jill Smith

Introduce myself

jill profile picI have always been a writer. My first memory of writing was stick figure comic as a seven or eight-year-old. Someone who read it said they liked the story. I put together an Interplanetary Zoo which was quite detailed, and the creatures were way out there. One of my sisters said, ‘that can’t be real’. I said, ‘It’s an Inter-planetary zoo, of course, it can. How do we know what exists out there?’ Right there, I can pinpoint being a science fiction fanatic.

 

Introduce my books –Adults Science Fiction

https://www.amazon.com/Dual-Visions-Jill-Smith/dp/1545398984

Dual Visions front 29.06.17 (2)Dual Visions – Book 1 of The Ancient Aliens Series

Richard Davidson, a seventeen-year-old leaving home. He is abducted and taken to a space station at the other end of the galaxy. There he finds love. He and his new alien cloned partner Davrew return to Earth. Davidson’s family lives anonymously in a small rural community while raising a family. Rakal, a violent alien crash lands on Earth and disrupts their existence. Rakal’s intrusion becomes a blessing when the whole Earth faces a threat from space.

Vashla's World cover July17

 

https://www.amazon.com/Vashlas-World-Battle-Worlds-Ancient/dp/1546550348

Vashla’s World – Book 2 of The Ancient Alien Series

Vashla’s is related to Rakal. She is a sadistic space pirate living on her own planet VaLinta. Rakal has sworn to protect The Davidson’s family and Earth. Gardt Ness is a disgraced space pilot, campaigning to alert authorities on his planet Ghaur, that there is a terrible threat lurking in space, and not to attempt colonisation of other worlds. Orthama is a dead planet with a scientific space station orbiting it. Zorn lived on his mining planet Zamba. He wants to control his cousin Vashla. A chain of events occurs that culminates in a battle between all five worlds.

Children’s short stories and novella’s in collaborative anthologies

ten penners 3 books http://www.thetenpenners.wordpress.com

The Ten Penners Logo by StarlaFan-tas-tic-al Tales – Thirty-four short stories, novella’s and poems make up this collaborative book written by eight ladies with a theme of magic. My six stories are aimed at eight to twelve-year old’s – My Word, Magical Musical Mervin, Horrible Hilda, The Toothpaste King, The Night Witch, and Goblins in the Grounds. This was released in 2009.

 

MMM coverMystery, Mayhem & Magic – Thirty-six short stories, novella’s and poems in this collection with a theme of adventure. My contribution to this book was eight short stories and a novella. The short stories – Red Beard’s Treasure Hunt, Trinny’s First Adventure, Trinny’s Prehistoric Adventure, Trinny’s Sky High Adventure, Trinny’s Kindy Playground Adventure, Trinny’s Tiger Island Adventure, Trinny’s Last Adventure, and Horseplay. The novella – The Real Deal. This was launched in 2017.

 

What inspires your creativity?

ten penners school visit Oct17

I simply love to write. This year I’ve been entering short story competitions. I had done this about twenty years ago with some success and found that the topics and criteria always made me create something quite new. I like to explore characters viewpoints and reactions in situations where their voice might be something foreign to me but believable to the reader.

How do you deal with creative block?

A. I don’t devote regular time to my writing so I’d have to say I write when I can and have never stopped. If I’m not writing my blog or Facebook posts, I’m reading books to review. The books I’ve written have been done when I’ve dedicated myself to doing them.

Dual Visions started way back when I had a young son. My husband asked what I was doing at the ironing board in the laundry with a notebook and pen. I was writing. I had the idea and I had to put in on paper. When my son was in Primary School, I wrote for Burleigh-heads-ss Jilltwo hours every morning before I had to get ready for work. My more recent books have been written during NaNoWriMo when I dedicate November to writing a first draft novel. All the time, these books have characters that are in my mind. When I come to write the story, I need to fit it all together. Often needing a great deal of editing after the basic work is done. A first draft is very much a work in progress. 

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

A. To think it’s ok without editing, getting it appraised (another person’s take on your story), critiques are invaluable. Then begin the most important work, editing. I’m still learning the craft of honing the basic story into a polished work. I’m better now than I was at the start, but still learning. Never think you know it all, believe in yourself, be persistent and keep going.

Do you have tips on choosing titles?Jill head shot

A. I always start with a working title and in the case of Dual Visions, I found other books with titles like my working title, so I needed something different. It may sound weird, but I woke up in the middle of the night and rushed to write it down. I dreamt the title. Vashla’s World came from the name of the character and the fact that the storyline became a battle for peoples from five different planets to defeat their foe. Short story titles come from the theme or character. I’m never sure if I get it right but it fits with me and that’s the most important thing. Your creation has a unique starting point, even if you don’t arrive at it until you’ve almost completed the first draft.

Jill at beach for blogHow do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

A. When I started out, I found it very difficult to swallow that someone couldn’t see what I was writing was a complete story. I’ve since learned that a writer doesn’t always see faults in the work, you’re so close to it you can’t see the mistakes. The writing group I belong to critiques and helps give candid feedback. I love reshaping a story that has shortcomings. Again, I’m no expert and happy to admit, I’m still learning this craft. Sometimes, feedback can be surprising and take the story in a totally new direction. I love that.

How has your creation process improved over time?book signing jill julie lindy

A. Well, that’s a good question. I’m sure I’m better at editing. I’ve always been able to come up with ideas and write something, although, I’m my own worst critic. I never think it’s good enough. I don’t feel confident enough to say – that’s it! However, I’d never written for children when I joined The Ten Penners in 2007. Now I love writing children’s stories. My adult stories are romantic, and I may continue to evolve and change directions. That’s the beauty of writing.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your books?

robyn-and-i-gcw-ll-2016A. The best thing is joining writing groups. Being part of a group of like-minded people who share your enthusiasm. They are great friends, inspiration and critiques from them are invaluable. The worst thing is having to deal with technology. I’m always battling how to convert something to a file or to get organised. I have Scrivener and really need to learn how to use it to simplify my life. A new computer would be a boon too.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

A. I love to write and have always written the kind of story I enjoy reading. Science Fiction and Fantasy has always been the start. However, having to stretch and change to suit any competition criteria or theme, has always given me the opportunity to try something new.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

A. If you tap into emotions and make the reader feel them, you have created something DV VW proofs May17magical. Emotions that feel raw and really enhance any story.

At one point in Dual Visions, I wrote a scene that was very dramatic. I was carried along with what was happening and could honestly say I didn’t know till I reached its climax if the character I’d created who’d become a central figure in the book, would live or die. The result was satisfying when one reader (a co-worker of mine at the time) came to work and said – Jill how could you do that? The emotional feeling, I had while writing that scene, shone through for the reader.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

granma reading charlie the cheeky spider to maria and heatherA. Just write whenever you can, as much as you can. And read, read, read. Go to writer’s festivals, join writing groups (but don’t get hung up on being on the committee), find time to be kind to yourself. Writing is a solitary and often insecure process. I need this advice myself – believe in yourself. Sign yourself as an author and believe it.

What are your plans for future books?

A. I’ve written the third book in the Ancient Alien Series, working title Travellers, that needs editorial work. I’ve also written a Young Adults manuscript, working title Microworld and it’s follow-on Microworld Undersea, both science fiction written during NaNoWriMo. I read YA’s books all the time and find them the best reads. Once these are edited, I’ll be getting it out in the wide world too, more than likely as one volume. I’d love to have a publisher take up my books. I’d also love to be paid for writing books and book reviews. Why should passion a pauper makes?

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself?cropped-jill-at-beach-for-blog.jpg

My full name is Barbara Jill Smith, but I have always preferred Jill, (DON’T call me Barbara!) I grew up in Victoria in Australia, the colder southern states. I hated getting chilblains (like frostbite) on my fingers, which I did every year in Victoria. When our son was young, I moved north with my family to warmer climes in Queensland, twenty-seven years ago. I have mad hair, that I’ve always tried in vain to tame. There are times it resembles a Witches’ broom. I believe in ‘the glass half full’ view of the world and that humankind will overcome tremendous hurdles to create a wonderful future. Yes, I’m a Trekkie at heart and the future where people strive to be good to the planet and themselves is one, I aspire to. I smiled when going to the doctors for my flu injection the nurse took my temperature with a little white hover on your forehead device. (very Star Trek)

Jill Smith
Aussie Author

 

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Somerset StoryFest Report – part eight

Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part eight

Now the best part of Somerset is there are times you can get more bang for your buck by going to panel sessions. The sure to be winners in my book. This year I was limited by both time and resources so I needed to cram as much of the author’s inspiration into my visit to Somerset as I could. Therefore, I picked for my last session: – Take Three Girls – a book and panel comprising Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood.

Session 10.15am to 11 am –

Take Three Girls – Year 11 Common Room – Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood

cath crowley picCath Crowley is a young adult author published in Australia and internationally. She is the author of The Gracie Faltrain trilogy, Chasing Charlie Duskin, Graffiti Moon (I’ve read and loved) and Words in Deep Blue. In 2011, Graffiti Moon won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, the Ethel Turner Award for Young People’s Literature, and was named an honour book in the Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year. Words in Deep Blue won the Indie Book Awards Young Adult Fiction of the Year 2017, the Gold Inky Award 2017 and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. Her collaborative novel Take Three Girls, written with YA luminaries Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell, won the CBCA Award for Book of the Year: Older Readers 2018 and was shortlisted for a Gold Inky Award 2018. http://www.cathcrowleyauthor.com

Simmone Howell is the award-winning author of YA novels Girl Defective, Everything SimmoneHoweell-1Beautiful and Notes from the Teenage Underground. She also writes non-fiction about dream houses, teen movies and ways to map a city. She lives in Melbourne and is currently working on a memoir about her formative female influences.

fiona woodFiona Wood is the award-winning author of three interlinked novels, Six Impossible Things, Wildlife, and Cloudwish. The books are published internationally and are Junior Library Guild Selections in the US. Take Three Girls, co-authored with Cath Crowley and Simmone Howell, won the CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers, was shortlisted for the Indie and Gold Inky awards and has been honoured by the International Youth Library as a White Ravens selection. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a screenwriter. She lives in Melbourne. http://www.fionawood.com

Take Three Girls cover

This beautifully crafted, lively novel captures the good and the bad of female friendship” Bec Kavanagh Books + Publishing, 5 stars.

WINNER OF THE CBCA AWARD FOR BOOK OF THE YEAR: OLDER READERS

3 award-winning authors.
1 compelling book.

ADY – not the confident A-Lister she appears to be.
KATE – brainy border taking risks to pursue the music she loves.
CLEM – disenchanted swim-star losing her heart to the wrong boy.

All are targeted by PSST, a toxic website that deals in gossip and lies. St Hilda’s antidote to the cyber-bullying? The Year 10 Wellness program. Nice try – but sometimes all it takes is three girls.

Exploring friendship, feminism, identity and belonging. Take Three Girls is honest, raw and funny.

SHORTLISTED FOR A GOLD INKY AWARD 2018

Now to my notes, after the introduction of all three ladies, Cath Crowley began with a reading from the book. The end of that scene shows Clem practising playing the cello alone and not wanting anyone to see her.

Q. How did you three ladies meet?

simmone-howell torso bio pic b&wA. Simmone, I write for television went to an event to talk about ‘The Secret Life of Us’ there I met Fiona through another writer at the writer’s centre. Fiona, we had the same publisher and attended the same writing retreat. Cath, me too.

Q. How did your relationship grow as you were writing this book?

A. Fiona, we were already friends and were well down the road to creating together. Simmone, it takes a long time, we don’t want to jinx it, by freeing us to write our sections then putting the work together. Fiona, how it developed made the characters’ friendships better and stronger. The earliest things we decided to make sure writing this book wasn’t going to wreck our friendship. Cath, though trying to tie the story together, the editing is the most difficult thing, we were constantly applying changes, the editor on her shoulder with two other people made it ok.

Q. What the book is about effects teenagers our age. (the host and her audience)Cath Crowley in chair

A. Simmone – the main thing online lumber secrets that are negative, toxic, viral things – each girl individual thing to deal with – Clem back to her own body image and finding a place in the world. Fiona – before internet bullying it would stop when you went home, now online it’s 24/7, being prosecuted rarely is a horror. Cath – made the reference of a secret tracker. Fiona – we didn’t want to sugar coat it, we won ‘Book of the Year.’ Simmone – realistic on the share the load. Cath – wade into the world.

Q. How did you go about structuring your novel?

A. Simmone – pre-planning, Fiona TV writing experience – getting the details. Fiona – this will be so much fun, chapter planning each one of us had a character. Each, two writers, write the same scene, from different points of view. Cath – we mapped out where the characters stand in relation to one another. Simmone – people remember differently.

Fiona wood Bio PicQ. All three of you are strong women, what does Feminism mean to you?

A. Simmone – Equality is not what you look like. Cath – same opportunity to the same pay. Fiona – Feminism has a bad rap, we need to go back to the meaning – Political equality, Economic equality, Social equality, Fundamental Social equality. There are still demonstrable differences.

Q. How do you think peoples outlook has changed in the last ten years?

A. Fiona – we have become immune to normal – nobody questioned it – at that time description of the status quo. Those questions asked now frequently look at with fresh eyes. Young people need to ask questions. Simmone – Now people are asking questions when I was at school, we didn’t. Cath – I love the way the world is now, very hopeful, the world is changing. Fiona – people are pushing back. Only a small percentage, so little and threatened.

Q. Relationships of the three girls in the book, did you want to protect your character?somerset stand

A. Simmone – Clem had self-esteem, she thought the boy was good and easily influenced by him but not a good relationship. Not needing external validation from boys, now – its change male opinion previously more important than female.

Q. How you drew inspiration from when you were at school?

cathcrowley-39A. Cath – I lived in the country and wanted to get out, I loved music, art, reading and literature. Fiona – I grew up in a middle-class safe environment, but my father was an alcoholic and there was pressure in the family to keep it a secret. Be authentic to herself but keep the family secret. Journals were more revealing.

Q. Did you slip into the characters you were writing?

A. Cath – Yes, while we were discussing them. Fiona – as professional writing it helps to keep you focused. Simmone – Emotionally true and everything else will follow. Cath -we were learning more of the craft using a whiteboard, fine-tuning the characters, cleaned up. Fiona – by the end of the book we knew all the characters.

Q. Why do you think YA’s read this type of book?

A. Simmone – wanted to write a book that was real for right now. Fiona – Online Simmone Howell - author photooptimistic ideas to gain strength and support each other’s back. Cath – freedom to be yourself. Fiona – deliberately structure wellness program people can feel ashamed of but constructive conversation helps.

Q. Write a book in a day story beats – plot pursuits?

A. Fiona – Story bead is something that happens in the story, narrative progression. Simmone – Save the Cat eight beats. Fiona – Film writing and novel writing depends on structure.

Q. How hard was it to stay on target?

A. Cath – amazing things happened to change the story but we kept to a plan.

fiona Simmone and CathQ. When writing what circumstance did you have?

A. Fiona – age group readers and how would you feel.

Q. Who are your biggest idols and inspirations?

A. Simmone – there are so many, artists who are true to themselves. Fiona – Jane Austin – a sense of humour. Cath – Jacinta Ardern said (and I didn’t note the quote)

Q. When you started this project did you think you would win an award?

A. Cath – no, it’s amazing.

Then we’d run out of time and the students moved on after photos were taken. I’ll hold happy memories of my day and a half at Somerset StoryFest 2019, for the rest of my year. I plan to get there next year and see more.

I hope you enjoyed my eight-part report. 

 

 

 

 

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Somerset StoryFest Report 2019 – part seven

Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part seven

This was the session I changed from my original purchases.  Mainly because having been moved by Clare Sultmann’s story on Wednesday I felt this story of recovery over adversity would be of more interest to me than the three young poets. I’ve nothing against poetry or youth, it was my choice from gut feelings that I go for this session, and I’m so glad I did. 

10.15am to 11am Venue – Spartans Indoor Baseball Courts (due to school renovations)

Samantha Bloom and Penguin the MagpieSamantha Bloom and Cameron Bloom

From the lows of a devastating injury to the highs of representing Australia as an athlete, and inspiring an upcoming Hollywood movie, Sam’s path has been anything but ordinary. In 2013, Sam’s dream life turned into a nightmare. On a 2013 family holiday in Thailand, Sam leant against a rotten balcony railing, falling through it and crashing six metres onto the concrete below. She suffered devastating injuries that left her paralysed from the chest down. Broken and hopeless, Sam reached her outer limits of suffering. But with courage, determination and a little help from an unlikely feathered friend, she made her way back from the edge, scarred but undefeated.

Samantha was introduced with her husband Cameron. They would relate how in 2013 penguin-bloom hard coverSam suffered devastating injuries, and how, a little magpie they named Penguin, would save the family.

Sam began. From a young age, she had a sense of adventure. Her mind was set on two things, travel the world and to become a nurse. She worked in a cake shop. She met photographer Cam, as they were kindred spirits, they set off to travel the world for two years. The more remote and exotic the better. They met Catherine, an Australian doctor in Ethiopia. They were inspired. They wanted to go back once their boys Ruben, Noah and Ollie were old enough to travel to Africa. There was too much unrest in Cairo so they went to Thailand and that’s where they went to a beautiful hotel. sam hospital with boysThey stood on the beach after a swim. Sam felt life was perfect. They stood on a balcony to enjoy the views, she leant against the safety rail and it gave way. She fell six meters to the concrete pathway. There was a pool of blood from the back of her head. The three boys saw it.

The journey changed, she was taken to a hospital close by. Her whole body was battered, her back was broken. She would never walk again. She was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where she spent seven months in hospital. They were all looking forward to Sam coming home.

Once home Sam found it much harder. It didn’t feel like her own home or be a good sam and penguin recoverymum. They represented the world she’d lost. She wasn’t the same anymore and she missed the old Sam. She thought about suicide.

Then they found an injured magpie. They decided to give it the best shot. They called it Penguin and this bird was something that made them all happy. Penguin gave her a purpose. Sam laughed for the first time since the accident. Penguin was her constant companion. Never kept in a cage, we were her family. She found it hard to leave the lounge. Penguin would sit in the Frangipani tree.

Every morning at 6 am she came in. The boys had adopted a baby sister. A small creature that made a big difference. When we went out, Penguin was always excited to see them return. At 3.30 they called each other in bird calls, the boys mimicked the bird calls.

bloom familySam said watching Penguin get stronger every day made her feel she wasn’t useless. She could still add value and purpose to those around her.

Penguin had spent more time outside, sometimes going away. On Ruben’s thirteenth birthday, they said ‘imagine if Penguin came back today’. People around them knew Penguin. She did arrive at a nearby property but wouldn’t go to their friends, Cameron had to go and pick her up. When Ruben returned home and Penguin was there he rushed inside calling to her in bird song. Cameron took a video. Sam said simply – he was very excited.

Sam couldn’t do any of the sports she loved but she could kyack. So she took up racing sam and penguinand started training six times a week, going to the gym three times a week. She had a goal to compete in Kyacking in the Para Olympics. Travelling again was wonderful. Winning races and medals were not as important as being active.

Before the accident, her favourite place in the world was Palm Beach, Sydney on the point. She thought she could never go back there. Her first Christmas at home she was woken at 4.30 am and four friends were waiting for her. They carried her to her rock. Ruben sprinkled rose petals there. It was her Christmas present to be on her rock. One by one her friends left her. They allowed her twenty minutes to sit on her rock alone.

Now she knew anything is possible if your creative and determined.

xpenguin-bloom.coverShe’ll never accept being in a wheelchair for life. Surfing had been her passion before the accident, now laying down she started surfing again. She entered the Australian Adaptive competition and won. Then went onto the World Adaptive surf challenge. She can duck dive and Cam pushes her onto the waves. She made it through to become World Champion. At that moment, she was taller than everyone else, for once.

Sam said now she’s super grateful. You’re never too old or damaged to do what you love doing. Anything and everything can be taken away at any time. Strive to be the best you can be with those you love most. Accepting the love of others can help make you whole.

Penguin at two years old was ready to find a mate. Male Magpies are white and black on the neck but females are grey.

When the boys were at kindy they would take the kids sandwiches at morning tea and Penguin would fly down there.

Cam said it was an incredible story, Sam is goal orientated, and her World Championship participation showed how much she’d changed.

Q. How do you feel you’ve changed in yourself, what affirming things?

A. Sam – I’ve completely changed, I’m happy and content. I still don’t like my body. I’m resilient. I have amazing support and from Cam and the boys. I’ve not spoken publically before so this is new for me.

Q. What inspired you to share your story?

A. Cam – I made an Instagram account for Penguin. When the press picked it up and the book happened. Bradley, the author of the book, which was a wonderful process.

Q. How much involvement will you have in the movie?

A. Cam/Sam – we are executive directors, it’s being filmed in our house, all Australian production. We have to move out of our house while they make the movie.

Q. As an athlete how do you stay motivated?

A. I’ve always been competitive. I found Kyacking, not enough speed. I’d grown up surfing and that was when the fun feeling returned. The picture of me kyack training showed the strain. Surfing is better.

Q. Would you have found the unconditional love the same if it had been a dog?

A. Sam – a dog might be similar. Cam – I don’t agree, Penguin was wild, not a pet. The powerful thing was that she could have left at any time.

Q. How are they going to do a Magpie in the movie?

A. They have a bird wrangler.

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Somerset StoryFest Report 2019- part six

Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part six

Friday was a shorter day for me, I made every session count. Having bought and read ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ by Karen Foxlee. She was first on my Friday list. I headed straight to the oval to Marquee 2.

Friday 22nd March 2019

Session 9.15 to 10 am – Marquee 2

Karen-Foxlee bio picKaren Foxlee

Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who writes for both kids and grown-ups. Her first novel The Anatomy of Wings won numerous awards including the Dobbie Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, Karen’s first novel for children, (which I read and loved) was published internationally to much acclaim while her second novel for younger readers, A Most Magical Girl, won the Readings Children’s Fiction Prize in 2017 and was CBCA shortlisted the same year. Karen lives in South East Queensland with her daughter and several animals, including two wicked parrots, who frequently eat parts of her laptop when she isn’t looking. Her passions are her daughter, writing, day-dreaming, baking, running and swimming in the sea.

Karen was introduced as an award-winning author of five novels aimed at grades 5, 6, Lenny's Book of Everything coverand 7.  Lenny’s Book of Everything won independent booksellers of the year award.

Karen outlined that she would be talking about how stories come to be. How writers become writers and that there are so many different ways to tell a story.

Q. Do you think stories are important.

ophelia-and-the-marvelous-boy coverA. Yes

Q. Why turn our minds to stories

A. Escape, entertainment, to pass down history, to get away, to feel better about yourself. Turn to a book to learn to cope with difficult situations.

Karen said when she writes a book its to entertain, words sing so you want to keep turning the page. She wants her readers to think about things, all the things you have to deal with. Writers plugin to keep the world electrified.

How she became a writer was at six and a half she was bored and hot. She had a feeling karen-foxlee-special-note Ophelia and the Marvellous boyand she wrote a story. She had created something out of nothing. That was so powerful. She wants to recreate that feeling. She’s practising, taking time to practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Q. Where do you get your ideas from?

A. They come from everywhere, family life, maps, clouds, feelings – they all stew in her head.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration?

A. I’ll give you an example of an idea that came from experience. At twenty-five, I was backpacking, visiting a castle, looking all through the rooms. One part was blocked off. Along the corridor slightly open big arched wooden door. She went through the barrier and through the crack in the door. It was a storeroom and inside was a glass coffin, inside the coffin was a skeleton, on its head was a crown. What if you went into a museum and saw something you weren’t meant to see? That’s where Ophelia’s story began.

Karen-Foxlee2Lenny’s came from a feeling. When I write I have three random ideas in mind and my job is to write a story that links them.

1. What does it feel like to be different? When I was young I had curvature of the spine and I had to wear a back brace. I felt different.

2. The idea bubbled up – a boy grows up and he grows and grows, and keeps growing.

3. The story had to include a set of encyclopedia. Before computers where would you go to get information? The Library. You’d go to a card catalogue, go up to a reference section and pull out the book you need. The encyclopedia was Google before Google.

Q. What do writers use to start stories?

A. Pencil, memories, imagination, notebook and the best question – What if?

One day when my mum came home from hospital an encyclopedia salesman came to the door. The ideas don’t always come together right the first time. It needs to be written a second and third time.

Door – heart – feeling. The mother had a feeling. Davy grew. They had a Burrell’s Build it at Home Enclyopedia Set.

Karen loved looking up things in their encyclopedia.covers_anatomyofwings karen foxlee

A – Ants – bulldog ants, Amphibians, Albatross has a 3.5-meter wingspan, Abominable snowman.

B – Beetles – Lenny loves beetles – there are over 350,000 species of beetles. Davy loves birds.

C – Canada – there was a place in Canada they want to run away to.

The story is about love, friendship, to make you laugh or cry and what is there to know.

Q. What is the best thing about being alive? (Karen asked the children)

A. Family, friends. Experiencing new things. Learning crazy facts. Discover new things. Challenges. To help others to learn to succeed. Gods creation in nature. To reach for the stars. To feel fulfilled. To live for every single moment. To be your own person. (what wonderful answers)

A most magical girl cover Karen FoxleeQ. How did you feel when you saw the glass coffin and skeleton

A. Glad I took a risk and looked

Q. Why did you choose to be an author

A. I always wanted to tell stories

Q. What’s your favourite part of life?

A. My daughter and the natural world.

Q. What’s your favourite book?  A. Lenny’s book of everything.

Q. What was the first book you wrote? A. The Anatomy of wings told from a ten-year-old girls point of view. A girl who likes facts.

Q. Who did you look up to when you were young?a most magical girl alternate cover

A. My older sister, teachers, my mum and authors.

Q. What do you think your next book will be about?

A. A magical story and water dragon who doesn’t like water.

Q. What is the meaning of life in your words?

A. Love, kindness, don’t take anything for granted.

Q. In one word – how would you describe your books?

A. Adventures.

I went to a museum in London and there they had recreated Victorian era street with a carriage, pretty, prim and propper. I saw The Most Magical Girl in that street.

midnight dress karen foxlee coverQ. Have you got inspiration from other peoples books?

A. Yes, The Snow Queen from Hans Christian-Anderson – in Ophelia her version of the Snow Queen appears.

Q. What was your passion before being an author?

A. Writing, Nurse, love to help people.

Q. If there was one thing you could change in your career, what would it be?

A. Believe in yourself from the beginning.

Q. One fantasy animal you like, what would it be?   A. Dragons.

Q. What story mostly shows you and your family in it?

A. A bit of me in all my stories, maybe the first book, The Anatomy of Wings.

 

 

 

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Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part five

Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part five

There’s not a lot of time between events, by the time I went up to Clare briefly and said how much I enjoyed the session it was time to make my way to the oval to Marquee 2. This was a young audience and only about two grades. As I’ve already mentioned, the Marquee’s are hot. Right from the start, Lucas has his young audience in the palm of his hand.

Session 1.45pm to 2.30pm – Marquee 2

Lucas Proudfoot with instrumentsLucas Proudfoot

Lucas Proudfoot is one of Australia’s most versatile children’s performers, playing guitar, didgeridoo and stompbox to over 120,00 kids each year. He is a multi-platform storyteller, sharing stories through his music, books and live performances.
In recent years, he has been touring Australia performing his cultural show, Circular Rhythm, where he delivers an entertaining and contemporary Indigenous Australian music experience, inviting young audiences to learn about Indigenous cultures through a live show full of fun and interaction. He has shared stages alongside a host of Australia’s most renowned children’s performers including Hi5, Justine Clarke, Jay Laga’aia and Yo Gabba Gabba, performing his cultural show, Circular Rhythm. Lucas is a proud member of the Tweed Coast Aboriginal and Islander community and lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and their young daughter. http://www.theproudfoots.com.au

Lucas started by saying he’s a performance artist, who had been on Playschool.

He introduced his instruments and the characters they portray.

BILLY BLUE TONGEBilly Bluetongue – the Drum or Stompbox

Pat the Wombat – Pat-THE WOMBATDidgeridoo

Koolaz-selfieKoolaz Koala – plays guitar.

In the first twenty minutes, he had connected with the kids.

Lucas Proudfoot at Somerset StoryFest 2019

Lucas began by saying stories come in many different ways, heritage is a big part of his.

His Grandfather was ‘Proudfoot’ and that’s his Scottish side. It’s easy to start when you’re passionate about things.

He grew up at Nan’s place where he would go fishing and follow tracks down to the beach. Jullum – fish, is a big part of his background, catching mud crabs among the mango trees. They would eat all that food, and they had music.

 

The music was – lucas proudfoot guitar mad expression

Short – Fast – Fun

Lucas said his parents were teachers

Dad played the guitar and Uncle played spoon on the belly (this had the kids in hysterics).

Lucas said he writes about his experiences, the places he’s visited and the people he’s met. There’s a little about the languages and learning about cultures in each of his books.

books Lucas Proudfoot all 3 coversThe Proudfoots

Magic Globe? What Magic Globe?

Shaka Shaka Hawaii

Rocking in Japan

Culture – not all aboriginals play the didgeridoo, not in South Australia, Victoria or Tasmania, they did not play the didgeridoo only in Arnhem land they did.

Why do we paint a didgeridoo?

To give it a point of difference and to tell a story. This one has the story of the diamondback turtle.

Somerset StoryFest Marquees

 

What a magical way to end the day. The kid’s laughter ringing in my ears.

After ending the day on a high I couldn’t wait to get back for more on Friday.

Stay tuned for the next instalment.

 

 

 

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Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part four

Somerset Storyfest Report 2019 – Part Four

LUNCH – In my previous post, I said I changed sessions. I did go to the ticket office during the lunch session. I didn’t get to see who was slimed, although I suspect it was Belinda Murrell. I changed one of the Friday sessions and kept this day as its original schedule. I’m so glad I was one of the half dozen (older level students) to make it over to the Year 11 Common Room to hear Clare Sultmann speak. Her story is amazing, inspirational, and at times, graphic description of events the reason a mature audience attended.

Session 12.45 pm to 1.30 pm – Year 11 Common Room

bookcover Clare SultmannClare Sultmann

The story of Clare Sultmann is one of strength, determination and adversity. After a devastating blow, she demonstrates how her unwavering determination has her standing on her own two feet.

The 23-year old aspiring lawyer woke up one morning to start her normal daily routine and headed out to complete her 10km circuit run. Little did she know that very morning would change her life forever. Over the coming months, she battled,
not only to stay alive but to save her legs and walk again on her own two feet. Although the physical and mental obstacles she faced were overwhelming, her strength and determination were unwavering. Standing On My Own Two Feet is Clare’s first novel and autobiography which chronicles her journey from despair to happiness with a myriad of life lessons learned along the way.

Clare introduced herself by saying in 2000 she started writing ‘Standing On My Own Two Feet’, the title would make sense shortly.  The book was published in May 2013.

She continued to give the background to her life. When she was young, she didn’t know what to do. She went to Uni at UQ and graduated with a Business Degree, still not knowing what she wanted to do, she obtained a Bond University scholarship and lived in Robina while studying Law at Bond. She was always very athletic as a Junior Tennis champion in Queensland, she also succeeded in Dragon Boats National Titles. Fitness is a very big part of her life. When she completed her Law degree at Uni she would move to London, using Sydney as a stepping stone. She always planned things, that was the way she was. Her law degree was fast-tracked. January 2000 drove down to Sydney with her parents driving behind her. Their only daughter needed to ring every day to say she was alright. May 2000, she lived at Bondi Beach going for a 10k run every day before catching the ferry to work. She felt very accomplished. Her work at KPMG she was a consultant in the area of taxation. In fifteen weeks, she would be going to London.

Sydney was cold. On this Friday morning, 18th August 2000. Unusually she had a ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ feeling about going for her run, it was cold and it would be so good just to hop back under the covers at 6 am. Shaking herself out of that reverie she began her normal routine, got dressed, into her leggings and t-shirt and headed out for her run. Clare was determined to keep fit as outward appearance was important to her. At 23 with her life planned out, blond hair tied back for the run she headed out.

Only 200 meters from her unit a garbage truck didn’t see her and ran over her. Worse, the truck stopped on top of her. All she felt was a deep burning. There was an ambulance on the next corner. She was screaming. No one would answer her. Police arrived and she continued to scream at the garbage truck man. ‘You’ve already ruined my life.’ The truck had to be lifted off her to release her. She was taken to St Vincent’s hospital. She was conscious and spoke to her mother who said she was driving down. She asked her mother – why are you driving? Her parents drove to Brisbane and caught a plane.

clare visitors at hosp in book imageThe ambulance paramedic gave her 2000 dose of morphine, enough to kill a horse, which gave her no relief, she was in agony. The Triage Code One – degree life-threatening situation. They operated for thirteen hours to save her life, with three surgeons.

Her thoughts when she woke were. Do I have my legs? Yes, but! What about my job? In intensive care? She was lucky to have kept her legs, but the garbage truck had severed blood flow, her veins and arteries were gone. It was a question of – life or limb?

In September 2000 she began a month flat in bed. In October she’d been in hospital six months. Learning to walk again and the skin grafts were the next challenge. Clare was in incredible pain when standing.clare in hosp starting to walk

The support from family and friends saw me through. ‘Let’s get these legs moving,’ was her mantra. Most nights she had visitors. Forty-two are still some of her best friends. She’d write letters. Her mother stayed at her side the whole time. She had thirty-seven operations. And was in the rehab hospital from February 2001 for over six months. She was twenty-three and was now a different person. She got very depressed. Her mum always said ‘Clare, things will get better.’

The lessons Clare felt she’d learnt through this ordeal were. You need much love to get through this. In prosperity, our friends know us. In adversity, you know who your friends are.

There are defining moments in a person’s life that show your future strengths. At eleven or twelve in 1989 in a tennis competition. She was asked if she was going to forfeit or play on. Getting up after a fall is what sets you apart from others. That’s what she did.

Bikers groups get terrible press, but, when she was in the hospital the ‘King Cross Bikers’ came to give patients presents. ‘Skull’ was the father of a kid who had a teddy bear, with empathy and care, the boy chose to give it to her.

Clare said her mother told her. ‘It’s not the accident that will define you. It’s where you go from there. You are so much more than your injuries.’

Oprah and ClareOprah Winfrey quote: ‘What do you know for sure. No matter what you think, nothing is certain. Spirit can overcome.’

In 2011 she returned to work part-time. Work gives you a sense of purpose. Her work kept her focused.

Clare graduated with Master of Law Degree from Uni of Sydney in May 2004.

The book was cathartic.

How the book was published was with help from Johnny Elvers (not sure if I got this name down correctly) and Peter FitzSimons edited. The book was everything from her journal. The publisher Halstead Press came on board.

Then she showed photos of her at the Dorset Orthopedic Clinic, Hampshire, UK November 2005, sitting beside a cabinet filled with prosthetic limbs.clare Cam William Joseph

She began working for a charity – ‘Young care’ in April 2006 to 2007 for Age-Appropriate Care. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in helping others.

She met her husband Cam and they married in 2010. She has three children William, Joseph and Amelia.

She has gone on to the Bar as a Barrister.

Has a women’s networking site – Dear Molly – and lives in Noosa.

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Somerset Storyfest Report 2019 – Part Three

Somerset Storyfest Report 2019 – Part Three

Session 11.15 to 12 noon – The Great Hall

Zanni-Louise-photo1.credit-Kate-Nutt-photography-865x1024Zanni Louise

Zanni Louise is a picture book and fiction author based in Northern NSW. She’s written ten books for children, including Errol! Mum for Sale and the Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush series. Her books sell in 20 countries and have been translated into multiple languages. Two have been long-listed for the CBCA awards and Archie and the Bear was selected for the White Ravens catalogue by the International Children’s Library. Zanni advocates for creativity and imagination and loves teaching writing to adults and children. She is part of the Byron Writers Festival StoryBoard program.

Zanni is also a Facebook friend of mine and I was delighted to see her presentation in the Great Hall. It was a relief to be in air conditioning.

Mum-for-Sale

The student introduction mentioned ‘Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush’ and the Errol series. The room was packed and her hook to get the students involved was to set up an interview. It went from strength to strength from there.

The job interview was for an Author.

You are the best person for the job if you are: –

  1. Engaging and like playing games
  2. If you like being bored. Being bored is very important as not being entertained lets your mind roam. What happens is that your mind chases down ideas to make a story. My working life is like this – Zanni lies down on the stage. Stories come when I’m lying down.
  3. If you have a head with a brain inside you have imagination
  4. Perseverance – try and fail – try again – finish something
  5. Are any of you magic? Magic is making something out of a bunch of different things.

Zanni announced – you all qualify for being an author.

Tiggy magic paintbrush Birthday party trick cover‘Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush’ idea came when one day she was folding clothes and her daughter was playing games and jumping on the bed. What would you do if you could print a friend? She wrote Wyn and the 3D printing machine. Early readers stories. She sent it away and the story was rejected. Zanni cried. Then she saved the idea and changed the name from Wyn to Tiggy, and the 3D printer to a paint brush.

Perseverance.

Zanni sent the story to a different publisher and received a four-book contract, with Gillian Flint as the illustrator.Too-Busy-Sleeping cover Zannie

You are never too old for picture books. Zanni teaches writing for picture books. The story idea was a seed in the soil – inspired by emotions and observing how people feel.

Emotion – excited – frustrated

She wrote the first draft then edited and tweaked it. She sent it off to a publisher and discovered it’s an amazing business with lots of people doing different things.

Sent as a word document to the editor who sent it back with lots of red marks – oh no!

Okay, an Editor is good, they make the best story we could, reduce it down from five hundred words down to three hundred and fifty words. They suggested the main character solved her own problems. The illustrator was from the publishing house using colours and shapes on the page creating movement.

Two years later we had a finished book. The text and images came together.

archie and the bear coverArchie and the Bear had a different illustrator David Mackintosh.

The magic of picture books is that you can look through the book and read it without text.

As in Errol – a blank page with a blob helps the story take place with simple drawings that would take you through. The end pages are like wrapping paper.

 

Mum for sale – lets trade story ideas. Here are a few.

  1. A kid can print $100 bills and has to hide it because it’s illegal.
  2. The life story of a stick that falls into the sea, going all around the world.
  3. A little boy goes around the world and he loses his mum.
  4. A Mars Bar and you get eaten.

Writing is like dancing – (Zanni gets the kids involved)meet-zanni-1

The publisher asks – can you write a series of books about ballet? You can make anything out of nothing.

Bailey (a boy from the audience) gets up on stage and shows his dance move, like a caterpillar crawl.

Idea – Stardust School of Dance – books have relationships with people.

Question time

Q. How do you normally start your books? Zanni – with an idea from my notebook, I might draw a version of my story.

Q. Why does it take so long? Zanni – A lot of people are involved so it takes time, art takes time.

Errol-coverQ. When did you want to become an author? Zanni – When I was six I started, I didn’t think it was a job, I love picture books. When I had kids in 2015 I decided to try.

Q. What was your first book? Zanni – Too Busy to Sleep, but I knew I had a long way to go.

Q. How old were you when you wrote your first book? Zanni – Thirty-one

Q. What’s your best book? Zanni – I can’t choose. My favourite is Errol. I like to make kids laugh.

Q. How many books have you published? Zanni – Ten books published, I write a series.

Q. What’s your favourite Tiggy book? Zanni – A Birthday Party Trick

Q. What was your job before you were an author? Zanni – I worked in an Art Gallery. I wrote manuals on how to drive trucks. Training manuals, writing ten to twelve thousand words a day.

Q. Do you think you would write a book about bullying? Zanni – Maybe, I didn’t in my current book.

Then it was lunch time and I made my way happily to the Quadrangle. I ate my lunch perched on a seat, watching the bidding at an auction for an author to be slimed! Then I decided to change my next session and I’m glad I did. 

 

 

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Somerset Storyfest Report 2019 – Part Two

Somerset Storyfest Report 2019 – Part Two

Bren MacDibble bio picSession 10.15 to 11 am – Marquee 1

Bren MacDibble was raised on farms all over New Zealand, so is an expert about being a kid on the land. Bren lived in Melbourne for many years, but now lives and works on a bus travelling around Australia. How To Bee, her first novel
for younger readers, won the 2018 CBCA Book of the Year Awards, The NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and the NSW Premiers Literary Awards, and was shortlisted for several others. Her second children’s book, The Dog Runner has just been released.

This is for an older group of children. Bren is another Facebook friend and I was looking forward to hearing her speak.

Bren began saying she wrote ‘How To Bee’ released 2017 about a time in the future whenHow To Bee cover there are no bees to pollinate the flowers, thirty years after the famine, children hand pollinate the flowers.

‘The Dog Runner’, is another famine novel set closer to our time, the story revolves around Ella and her brother. She got the idea for this from ‘dog mushing’ with a scooter behind a dog led, under fifteen degrees. Dogs love running.

Why does she write books about scary worlds? Kids these days hear and see what’s happening around us, it is scary. Things like Queensland being the skin cancer capital, just one example. Children are taking on environmental issues – act as if you’re in a crisis. Kids previously were not told anything, now kids see too much.

the dog runner coverShe writes about love, security, strength and purpose for young readers to take comfort in. Talk about environmental issues. If you look for excuses fear will hold you back, we need to act. Fear will stop you from being creative. Solutions need creativity. The dog runner – the first ones to change will survive. Encourage creative thinking and exercise creativity.

Use imagination muscle as it makes you smarter.

Growing up, she was limited in the reading available to her. She had to grab a chance to read a chapter of a book before her brother got it. She remembers vividly ‘Dune’ that she had to read as fast as she could. It’s a big book and the ‘Dune’ wars showed no mercy. Her younger brother would snatch the book before she’d finished reading her chapter. The book itself gave her ideas. Skin suits are an amazing idea. Someone’s (the author’s) idea coming up with an imagined solution to an imagined problem.

Suggest solutions – Bees not diseases, aboriginal grains, can save Australia and possibly the world. Kangaroos for meat. Loss of Biodiversity, most urgent aspect of sustainability, fungi, bacteria depleted. Biodiversity – complex functions.

Reading – feels like magic on the inside – shows how other people feel.

People will be interested in your solutions.

A great idea is Electric self-drive cars. It’s cool and safer. Cityscape could completely change our air quality will improve and there will be less crashes.

Environmental alternatives – Solar, Wind, Water, Lithium Battery. More radical change.

Then it was question time. Bren ran about the room with her microphone to collect the queries.

Q. Has she always been a passionate writer? Bren – Yes, always good at telling stories. Writing something she enjoyed. Our history became stories.

Bren MacDibble profile pic

Q. How long does it take you to write a book? Bren – Depends on how hard it is.

Q. What age were you when you published your first book? Bren – ‘How To Bee’ published two years ago. She had been writing for the school market and it took twenty years to learn to write it well.

Q. How long did it take you to write ‘How To Bee’? Bren – about a year to write.

Q. How many books have you written? Bren – I wrote for educational services and ‘How To Be’ has won three major awards. ‘The Dog Runner’ is about to be released.

Q. What made you start writing? Bren – I have always been writing, I write to learn.

Q. What is your favourite genre? Bren – Science Fiction.

Q. What inspired you to write a book? Bren – Both food shortage and food security, the catalyst being Science Fiction conference and farmers competing with overseas imports. I asked – Are we self-sufficient as a country? Can we support ourselves?

MacDibble bio picQ. When did you become an author? Bren – twenty years ago.

Q. What is your greatest accomplishment in writing? Bren – Getting ‘How To Bee’ out. Nine years empowered accomplishment.

Q. What are your favourite books? Bren – Neil Stevenson – Snowcrash had all the elements I love like a computer virus, robot dogs, girl, skateboards and downloads.

Q. What inspired you to write about dogs? Bren – always wanted to have kids travelling across Australia with dogs.

Q. What goals are you trying to achieve? Bren – To make a living off writing, books to do well, and maybe to have a book turned into a movie.

Q. How do you come up with ideas for your books? Bren – I shove everything in I’m passionate about.

Q. What does your family think of you writing? Bren – husband happy, mum loves it, son not impressed.

Q. How old were you when you started writing? Bren – very young, mum wouldn’t teach me to read but I was very determined to learn.

Q. What’s the process of publishing? Bren – Open door contests – Allen & Unwin Friday pitch. Once I had a contract it took a year, overseas needed an Agent, it’s a long and tedious process – but let all that go.

Q. Who’s your favourite author here? Bren – Cath Crowley is great.

Q. What are you doing to change the world apart from writing books? Bren – Using environmental platform, talking about it, getting over fear. I live on a bus so that means I have less impact on the environment.

Q. What type of novel will you write next? Bren – Science fiction, post-apocalypse, post-famine.

The children in the front row had notebooks and pens at the ready for a wonderful presentation. I’m sorry to say they took few notes. The book – How To Bee – Bren wrote about passionately with her environmental issues abounding, it is award-winning. Her speech was delivered more like a lecture and I saw the kid’s eyes cloud over with disinterest. They did engage during the question time and I’m certain Bren with more experience of public speaking would have the kids enjoying the session. I wrote copious notes and feel her message was powerful but being that she read from her page of notes and didn’t have eye contact with the students, she lost her audience. Afterwards, I asked Bren if she had been to Somerset before and been to other sessions. She explained that she’d been living on a bus and had not been before. I totally understand as public speaking is not my forte, but her words were true and powerful. Had she had the opportunity to go to other sessions and see the other authors receive wrapt attention, she might have picked up some useful tips. 

(Personally, suggesting children protest when they don’t understand the full ramifications, can be a dangerous thing. Such as close coal power stations, people lose jobs, the Australian economy suffers, with no real tangible effect on the environment. Will the country slipping into bankruptcy help when coal is a valuable and available resource? Let children think about all the consequences before taking a day off school to march in the streets.)

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Somerset Storyfest 2019 Report-Part One

Somerset Storyfest 2019 – Report – Part One

somerset standSomerset was brilliant again. I attended sessions presented by inspiring authors and had a great time. Of course, had I booked sooner, I could have gone to a couple of magical workshops, but, as they are sold-out, I bought tickets adapting my programme. Some sessions were packed, as in The Great Hall, and others were a handful of eager students or two or three mixed grades. The Marquees are hot – (but I was prepared). The Great Hall is air conditioned but at times hard to hear the kid’s questions (the students ask the best questions).

“…a festival of storytelling for the whole family.”

Wednesday 20th March

Session 9.15 am to 10 am – Marquee 3

MGB at computerMichael Gerard Bauer’s first novel The Running Man was the 2005 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. Since then four more of his books has been shortlisted for CBCA awards including his very funny picture book Rodney Loses It! Which was the 2018 CBCA winner in the Early Childhood category. His other very popular and award-winning works include the Ishmael series, the Eric Vale series and Just a Dog. His most recent publication is the young adult novel The Things That Will Not Stand. Michael’s stories have been translated into 12 languages and sold in over 40 countries.Rodney doll MGB

Michael is a man I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several times and he is a genuine and funny man. He began by telling the children about his book. His first picture book idea. The illustrator Chrissie Krebs from Melbourne. He explained, in a dancing way, that when he walks, he makes up rhymes as he marches to a beat.

The promotion to these younger students of his picture book ‘Rodney Loses It’ was a ‘Where’s Wally’ event. Rodney loves to draw but he is always losing things. He asked the children to find the missing objects. He involved them by getting a selection of children up on stage to help. They loved it.

Then it was question time. (I did already mention that the kids of all ages ask the best questions.)

MGB Rodney Loses It coverQ. Why did you want to write the book? MGB – I wrote one years earlier that didn’t get published, it was my son ‘losing it’ getting angry. This is better as Rodney is a Rabbit and the illustrations show where the things he loses go. This was how he tried again to make the story work.

Q. Did you and the illustrator write together? MGB – No, they didn’t even meet till after the book was published and they won a medal – Book of the Year 2018.

Q. Did you choose the front cover? MGB – Both he and the illustrator needed to decide, and the publisher suggested a few changes and decided it for them.

Q. What did you do before you wrote a book? MGB – I was a teacher of English because I like words. I wanted to be a Ninja or a Rockstar or even a songwriter before that.

Q. How did Rodney lose his slinky? MGB – It sprang up in the air and got caught on the light fitting.

Q. Where do you get the book from? MGB – The bookshop here.michael_gerard_bauer-450x576

Q. Are there any more books? MGB – I’ve written sixteen different books including ‘The Running Man’, they include the Ishmael series, the Eric Vale series and Just a Dog.

Q. Why did Rodney have problems? MGB – You need a challenge, to make the book interesting, a problem or a challenge to solve, otherwise it would be boring.

Q. Where do your ideas come from? MGB – I lose things too.

MGB just a dogQ. Where did you get the bunny? (there was a Rodney doll on the podium) MGB – The illustrator Chrissie Krebs makes soft toys, she made the Rodney doll for him and one for the publisher.

Q. Will you write more books about Rodney? MGB – Yes

Q. Do you have any narrative in the book? MGB – Good question, the illustrations show the missing things. That’s the narrative as Rodney is alone at his desk.

 

That’s part one. I’ll have more on my next post. Stay tuned!

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Books on Tour – The Apostrophe Posse

The Apostrophe Posse cover

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar19

Title: The Apostrophe Posse

Author: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Publisher: Sea Song Publications

It all starts innocently enough. Cam and Ellie go shopping for school shoes with their mother. Jimmy Leeds is painting a sign for Baker’s shop. Mrs Terry, their mum, points out that Jimmy has missed putting an apostrophe on the sign. Jimmy can’t see it.

Cam forms a group they call ‘The Apostrophe Posse,’ just like in wild west movies. He and Ellie, with their friends Billy and Louisa, will go out to fix the signs in Tea Tree Bend. School starts again in a few weeks and it must be done before then. The Apostrophe Posse head out after dark when no one can see them. That’s the plan. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out, lots. teena with picture book

Louisa’s little sister Lindy wants to help. They don’t want her to mess up their plans. When she wakes and follows her sister, what can they do but let her tag along? That’s a big mistake. While working to fix the signs, accidents happen. Before they know it, they are in big trouble. The local newspaper headlines say businesses are calling on the authorities to apprehend the vandals and have them prosecuted.Teena Raffa-Mulligan bio pic

This is a slim volume of seventy pages that invites young readers on a humorous adventure. Teena writes a story that will engage children in an entertaining way. It leaves them with a simple message – be honest. Ask for help if you need it, and – apostrophe’s matter!

Teena writes a variety of books including Juvenile fiction and Poetry, Picture Books, Chapter Books and Romantic reads. For more about her visit her website.

TAP-WiN-long competition logo

On Your Marks. Get Set. WIN!

Kids! This challenge is for you! Fix the apostrophe mistakes for a chance to WIN a paperback copy of The Apostrophe Posse by Teena Raffa-Mulligan!

Closes midnight AEST Friday, April 12, 2019.

http://www.justkidslit.com/on-your-marks-win-the-apostrophe-posse-book-giveaway/

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Accepting the Challenge…

March begins with another Challenge thanks to Michelle Worthington

Day 2 Breakfast – 30day Instagram Social Media Challenge

breakfast

 

 

 

 

30 day instagram challenge March 19

 

 

 

 

My other Challenge is writing stories for submissions to The School Magazine – My stories for January and February have not been accepted but are good little stories I may be able to use for The Ten Penners should we decide to produce another anthology of stories for children. Yes, I’ve written another story for the March submission. I hope that, as the story is a little more quirky, it will be accepted. Wish me luck!

A couple more challenges that will keep me busy are:-

Penguin WriteIt Fellowship competition

WriteIt_LogoBanner_1600across

https://www.penguin.com.au/win/entryform.aspx…

and

Spooktacular Stories: Thrilling Tales for Brave Kids

Share Your Story Writing Competition 2019

Share Your Story anthology comp

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