Camp NaNoWriMo April 2018

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

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

What have I been doing?

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

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

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

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

Happy reading and writing my blog following friends!


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Interview with Steph Bowe…

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

Steph Bowe bio picQ 1      When did you start writing?

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

Q 2      What were your first writing efforts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

destroying the joint steph bowe

Q9     Do you write short stories or articles?

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

Q10      Where do you see your writing career taking you?


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

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The second book I bought at Somerset…

all this could end by Steph BoweAll This Could End

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

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

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

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

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Urban Fantasy tab added…

In a similar vein to The Book Review Directory, I’ve been sent freebies from authors in this genre. I’ve downloaded one and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve decided to add this group to my spreadsheet and when I read and review a book I’ll post it here on my main page and on the new URBAN FANTASY PAGE I’ve created.

Raven's Flight coverBook Review by Jill Smith©April18

Title: Raven’s Flight: A Dragon Romance

Author: Chrys Cymri

He realized he was being born when all the eggs of his brothers and sisters were being popped out, why was he different. He clawed at the womb to stay inside, his body was out of a shell, but couldn’t stop being born. His mother lashed out at him. He had to escape before she killed him. She gave him a name but flew at him with talons bared.  Why was she trying to kill him?

He escaped by seeing a point in the sky. A light drew him away from the longhouse, away from his family and the certain death inflicted by his mother. He arrived at a lake, he could have drowned, but he was saved by a woman. Her name was Audrey. She nursed him back to health. He learned to speak with her help, he grew and she instructed him to help her around her house. She was isolated and alone. She’d crashed her plane there a long time ago. Where were they? When were they? Audrey knew it wasn’t Earth and it wasn’t London. She longed to return to her home.

She named him Raven and he was glad to help her. He realised he could find things. He found out he was a seeker, he could find anything. For a long time, he was too weak to fly and Audrey worked hard to ensure they would be both fed during the long cold winter by the lake. She longed to go to London and she encouraged Raven to explore places with his talent and to find a way back to her home.Chrys Cymri bio pic 1

Raven realised as an adult he’d become more than protective and caring of Audrey and he would do anything to help her. He learned how to use his seeking abilities and to find a journey plan to London. He wondered where they would go once they’d arrived. Audrey had other plans.

Raven is a beautiful dragon with many talents and a deep love for Audrey. This novella is the origin of the urban fantasy ‘Penny White’ series.

I enjoyed Raven’s Flight so much I had to get more, so here’s the next book I’ve read by Chrys Cymri. The author is a Minister in England and her ‘Penny White’ character is also a Minister. She wrote these books over twenty years ago and has a catalogue of books I’ll be putting on my iPad to savour.

The Dragon Throne coverBook Review by Jill Smith©April2018

Title: The Dragon Throne (The Four Kingdoms #1)

Author: Chrys Cymri

In the woods of the unicorn herd, the Prancer, who has two colours on his flank. Unheard of in the unicorns, as each has a colour denoting their place in the herd. Prancer loses his milk-brother to an attack by a dragon. He takes an oath to retrieve part of his milk-brothers horn that was embedded in the eye of the dragon during the battle. Prancer leaves the safety of the woods and the herd to travel across the human kingdoms to seek the killer. He learns the complex ways of humans and their relationships, wondering if he’ll ever meet the red-haired human he dreamt of in his future telling.

Fianna is the only child of King Stannard and Queen Fiona, and she always expected to become the next Keeper of the Dragon Throne. When her mother dies her father mourns with her for only the customary time allowed. Then his friend brings his daughter to help run the castle who becomes his second wife. Fianna decides to stay away from the interloper by working in the castle stables. When Fianna realises her father’s new bride could bear another heir, she leaves Secondus, the town she loves to live with her aunt, who has her own reasons for teaching Fianna the intricate dealings of deceit and manipulation.

While living with her aunt Fianna meets and befriends a kindly pig herder who has a Chrys Cymri bio pic 2talent with animals and contact with the Earth. She meets a dragon with a part of a horn in its eye. The pig herder helps heal the dragon and Fianna takes the piece of unicorn horn. She is flattered when the pig herder asks her to wear his band, as a promise of marriage, but she dismisses him as she is a princess. The proposal comes on the day that Fianna discovers her father, King Stannard has died and her stepmother is near to giving birth, she must travel back to the castle where some guards are planning to take over the Kingdom. For her to take her rightful place she must summon the dragons to gain approval to take over the leadership of the kingdom.

While making the perilous journey to the Dragon’s mountain kingdom, Fianna comes across The Prancer who had been viciously attacked by trained unicorn hunting dogs. He is near to death, and although she is to be Keeper of the Dragon Throne, she helps heal the unicorn. Prancer is kind and honest and they become close friends and travel on together. Even though Fianna soon realised Prancer could be saved the arduous journey by her simply handing over the part of the unicorn horn he seeks, she keeps this knowledge from him.

I loved this book and could easily be a huge fan of urban fantasy if this is an example of that genre.

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The first book I bought at Somerset 2018…

moriarty-jaclyn-bio picBook Review by Jill Smith©Apr18

Title: A Corner of White

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Publisher: Pan McMillan Australia

Madeline Tully lives in Cambridge with her mother. They used to be rich in their life before with her father. She had run away again, being rebellious, and she was surprised when her mother ran away with her.A-Corner-of-White cover

Cambridge is cold and dreary with drizzling rain, and their attic flat cramped. Her mother sews to make a living with the sewing machine she’d won on a game show. Madeline’s homeschooling is unconventional and her friends close, but when friendships become strained she starts to rely on another friendship from a boy she’s never met.

The corner of white in a parking meter caught her eye. She read the letter and replied. The boy who she talks to is Elliott Baranski. Is he real? Does he really live in the Farms, in a town called Bonfire, in the Kingdom of Cello? How could seasons roam and colours be dangerous? Was there really a Butterfly Child living in a glass jar who had magical abilities to end droughts or even save a corner of white alternate coverlives?

Elliott’s father had disappeared and everyone in Bonfire thought he’d run away with a teacher from the school. Elliott didn’t believe that and he was out searching for his father who he believed had been captured and taken to dangerous territory in the Kingdom. Madeline’s mother was ill. Could they solve the mystery of where Elliott’s father had gone, and find a cure for Madeline’s mother?

I loved the way the viewpoint of each of the characters makes their worlds real to the reader. Elliott’s world often feels more real than Cambridge feels to Madeline. Mainly because Madeline is still hoping her father will come and take them back to his wealthy world. Was this ever going to happen?

Great book, quirky, fun and I couldn’t guess the ending, for those who love YA and fantasy this is a must-read.

This is an enchanting book and the glimpse of the next story enticing. I can’t wait to read the continuing journey of the people in the World and the people in the Kingdom of Cello.

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More about Rarity from the Hollow…

There are some books I read and review simply because the author is persistent and entreating. This is not an Australian book or an Australian author but one I’ve been asked to read through The Book Review Directory. See my review on that tab.

This book is one of those haunting stories, and Robert Eggleton deserves to be recognised and he’s passionate about funding campaigns against child abuse.

Rarity from the Hollow is thought-provoking and this YouTube trailer gets to the heart of the story. Although to feel the full impact, understand the quirky journey, you have to read the book.

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The Ten Penners meet today…

ten penners school visit Oct17Onwards and upwards, today IS the first day of the rest of my life! There is life after 20 employment in one place. Watch out world, I’m on my way. The Ten Penners meet today and I’ve done my homework for March and April, taking a short story I wrote for a competition I entered recently. I’ve put together a pitch for my book that I’m working on for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. The sky’s the limit! Cheers all my friends.

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