Happy Easter from The Ten Penners

Happy Easter to all our readers, followers and friends. Travel safe and enjoy your holiday.

I’m putting in an excerpt from Fan-tas-tic-al Tales, it’s one of Jill Ford’s contributions to the book. Petal and the Easter Bunny.

easter bunny and eggsPETAL AND THE EASTER BUNNY

BY JILL FORD

From Fan-tas-tic-al Tales

Hannah Elizabeth and Petal were eating Easter Eggs. The little girl sat cross-legged on her bed and Petal sat on the floor. He took up all the space in Hannah’s bedroom.

‘Where’s my egg wrapped in the pink paper with the silver stars?’ asked Hannah.

‘Oh, was that your egg? So sorry,’ Petal said with his mouth full of chocolate.

‘You are a piggy. I was saving that egg for tomorrow.’

Petal shifted himself to a more comfortable position. The whole room shook and a large piece of plaster fell from the ceiling. Petal brushed the bits that had fallen over him onto the floor.

‘I just love the Easter Bunny,’ said Hannah, popping another piece of chocolate into her mouth.

‘I helped the Easter Bunny deliver eggs once,’ said Petal yawning.

‘You didn’t!’ said Hannah amazed.

‘You don’t believe me, do you? Just because I’m not cute, soft or cuddly. You’ve really hurt my feelings, Hannah Elizabeth.’

‘I’m sorry, but are you sure you are not fibbing?’ said Hannah, licking her fingers.

Petal glared at her.

‘All right Petal. Why don’t you tell me all about it?’

‘It was a very long time ago. I was very young, a baby really. I was still green.’

‘Green?’ Hannah looked at her Dragon. He was dark grey with a pink chest.

‘I picked my own colours when I was two years old. Wizard Knowsthelot gave me tins of coloured polish and I rubbed the polish over my scales until I was the shade I wanted. Now, do you want to hear about the Easter Bunny or not, Hannah Elizabeth? Don’t you know it’s very rude to interrupt someone when they are trying to tell you something?’

‘Sorry. Well, go on. Tell me what happened, Petal.’

‘I’m trying to. Now let’s see. Where was I?’

‘You were green,’ said Hannah.

‘That’s right. I was still green. I was lying on the grass having a snooze when Carrots, that’s the Easter Bunny, hopped on top of me. I guess he didn’t see me. He’s very short sighted and…’

‘You were green at the time,’ Hannah interrupted.Petal

‘Well, I rolled over and squashed Carrots.’

‘You killed the Easter Bunny!’ Hannah cried out, shocked.

‘No, I just broke his leg and crushed a couple of his ribs. It was the week before Easter. He was in a terrible fix, so of course, I had to offer to help.’

‘Come on Petal. You never could help the Easter Bunny. You’d eat all the eggs,’ Hannah said laughing.

‘You are not going to be quiet, are you, Hannah Elizabeth?’ Petal said with a pout.

Hannah pretended to zipper her mouth shut. ‘I really would like to know what happened,’ she said. ‘I’m truly sorry Petal.’

‘All right then. I’ll give you one more chance,’ said Petal, who was bursting to tell Hannah his story.

‘Anyway, as it happened you are right. I only meant to sample one egg, but I ate the lot!’

‘I knew it,’ Hannah exclaimed shaking her head. ‘Oops,’ she clamped her hand over her mouth guiltily.

‘One more word and you’ll never know what happened. Not ever. So there, Hannah Elizabeth.’

‘I’m really very sorry Petal.’

‘So you should be. Well, I was very frightened. Carrots’ mother has a nasty temper. She would have spanked me if she found out what I’d done. She was already cross with me for injuring Carrots.’

‘How can a bunny spank a dragon? It doesn’t seem possible.’

‘Carrots’ mother would have found a way. Remember, I was only a baby back then.’

‘You still are,’ said Hannah sniggering.

‘That does it. I’m not telling you any more of the story.’

‘Please Petal. You know you’re bursting to tell me what happened. There’s still a serving of chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer. Mum said it’s mine. It’s yours Petal if you tell me what happened.’

‘I’m trying to,’ snapped Petal. ‘But you are making it very difficult Hannah Elizabeth. Now, where was I?’

FOR THOSE  WHO HAVEN’T GOT THE BOOK, I’LL CONTINUE THE STORY TOMORROW … STAY TUNNED!

 

The Fix It Man book launch

the fix it man book launch

On Saturday 25th March after another inspirational meeting with my writing buddies in The Ten Penners, I went to see Dimity Powell launch her truly heartfelt book The FIX IT Man. To say it was a beautiful presentation is an understatement.

The time and effort Dimity and her supporters put into launching this book, matched by Nicky Johnstone’s superb illustrations. I did have a tear in my eye when I heard the story for the first time The Fix it Man book launch DPon the day. Who knew that facing grief and moving forward with life could so be put so succinctly in a children’s picture book? I love it. The FIX IT Man cover

The fact as Dimity explained briefly, that she and Nicky took eighteen months to complete this work only goes to show that beautiful books can be masterpieces in their own right. Well done ladies! You are a true inspiration to aspiring picture book authors and illustrators. And of course to groups like The Ten Penners who are striving to create entertaining and thought-provoking topical stories for children aged eight to twelve-year-olds.

Somerset 2017 – Wonderful Wednesday summary …

Yes, it rained and the ground was squelchy! Yes, it was hot in the marquees! Did I mind? Not a bit. It was a great day. I only wish I had been able to go to more sessions.

Robet Newton Somerset 2017I started the day with Robert Newton, a firefighter and writer who said he could see himself retiring from firefighting but never from writing.

He never wanted to be a writer growing up but when his brother moved overseas he wanted to keep in touch so he started writing letters. Life was a bit boring so he’d send stories of embellished childhood memories. His brother said, ‘these are good, you should do something with them.’ That was the only encouragement he’d ever had for anything other than sport. It was the start of his obsession with writing and creating characters first. His books published to date are: RunnerWhen We Were TwoThe Black Dog GangSaturday Morning, Mozart and Burnt ToastMr Romanov’s Garden in the SkyThe Khaki KidMy Name Is Will Thompson, for children all developed to tackle difficult subjects in a way kids can relate to. He was a very engaging speaker. The picture above is of him signing the book I purchased from his works.

Nadia Sunde Sorting Hat Somerst 2017Next session was in the Great Hall and I was able to enjoy the oh’s and ah’s of a large audience of rapt students as Nadia Sunde wove a magical spell in her session playing the role of Professor Francesa Falconette Exploring the Magical World of Harry Potter.

Needless to say, it was a spellbinding session.

Nadia Sunde Somerset 2017The rain departed for enough time for me to leave the Great Hall and walk down on the sodden oval to Marquee Three to go to my next session with Kim Kane.

 

Kim, having being trained as a lawyer, had all her notes on hand. A few images and videos to share Kim Kane Somerset 2017snippets of where her inspiration for stories came from, along with a very old shoe. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about ‘time slip’ novels and how she researched her books. I fear some of the students may not have been so engrossed, but for me, Kim delving into research and where different information led her and affected her writing was fascinating.

As was the case in all the sessions, and has been my experience of Somerset Celebration of Literature that I’ve experienced over the years, the children as the best questions.

Rachael Craw goodreads bio picThe next session was after a lunch break and back in Marquee Three this time to see Rachel Craw. She did delve into the writing process itself. She loves strong female characters and found her first book huge and unwieldy, only being reshaped when she was encouraged by manuscript assessors, who later became editors and then her agent. The result is a series starting with Spark (Spark, #1)Stray (Spark, #2)Shield (Spark, #3)Kill Switch (Spark, #1.1)The Book That Made Me as one of the anthology contributors, Black Room (Spark, #2.1)Scar Tissue (Spark, #3.1). She has trouble letting go of a story and tends to keep editing until the book is forcibly taken from her by her agent. Her stories are coming of age tales with strong drama. I hope to read the whole series in the future.

From then I hurried onto Marquee One to see Soraya Nicholas who writeSoraya Nicholass stories for
younger children about horses in her ‘Starlight Stables’ series. I was particularly interested to hear what she had to say as my granddaughters are mad about horses. I was as surprised as she was when her grade three little people audience were led in to hear her talk. Soraya had pictures of her horses and explained how her covers were photos of three girls and three horses depicting her characters. She loves writing and to keep the image of the characters and personalities of her horses in mind she has a wall of pictures beside her when she writes.

Her books are Pony DetectivesBush Bolts,  Starlight Stables: Bush Bolts (Book 3) Starlight Stables: Saving Starlight (Book 4)Gymkana Hijinks, and Saving Starlight

I bought five books on the day and I’m nearly finished reading ‘Starlight Stables’ Pony Detectives.  I will give this to my granddaughter shortly after I’ve written a review.

That was all the sessions I attended on the day, however, I met and spoke to other authors when in the book tent, or just at the coffee shop. I bought one book because I liked the cover – Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee. I took the opportunity to get the author of that book to sign it too, that was another treat.

Two days to Somerset… who’s counting!

Somerset Celebration of Literature starts this week! Yay

And I’m going to see some great authors. Always so many to choose from but the sessions I’ve chosen are:-

newton-robert-bio-picRobert Newton 9.15 am – YA author 

His first novel, My Name is Will Thompson, was published in 2001. Since then he has written six other novels for young people, including Runner, The Black Dog Gang and When We Were Two, which won the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Nadia Sunde 10.15 am – Exploring the Magical World of Harry Potter Bookssunde-nadia-bio-pic

The role of Professor Francesca Falconette, Harry Potter Enthusiast, is played by award-winning children’s entertainer Nadia Sunde. Nadia Sunde is one of Australia’s most celebrated and highly acclaimed children’s theatre writers and performers.

kane-kim-bio-picKim Kane 11.15 am

Kim Kane was born in London and went on to practise law. Her picture book, Family Forest, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Awards, and The Vegetable Ark and Esther’s Rainbow were both CBCA Notable Books.

Rachel Craw 12.45craw-rachael-bio-pic

Rachael Craw is the award-winning author of the YA speculative fiction trilogy Spark, Stray
and Shield, with book one being recently optioned for the big screen by Miss Conception Films. Her early years studying drama developed her passion for snappy dialogue and vivid characterisation.

nicholas-soraya-bio-picSoraya Nicholas 1.45

As a horse-crazy girl, Soraya Nicholas dreamt of owning her own pony and riding every day. There were plenty of adventures on horseback throughout her childhood, and lots of stories scribbled in notebooks, which eventually became inspiration for Soraya’s very own pony series, Starlight Stables.

I’m looking forward to a great day out, hoping Somerset doesn’t live up to it’s too hot to handle or muddy quagmire grounds when it rains. It often does but I go prepared!

The Sending -The Obernewtyn Chronicles – Book Six by Isobelle Carmody, Book Review by Jill Smith

 

isobelle carmody profile picAs with all of The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody, this book is difficult to describe briefly. It is simply another episode in the journey Elspeth Gordie is making in the Quest she has been set upon since the first book. Interwoven with her many talents including self-healing, she continues her journey.

This book is divided into three sections. The first is heartwarming in that at Obernewtyn as Guildmistress, her true love Rushton, Guildmaster to Obernewtyn finally returns. They consummate their love and forge a link between them.

The second part of the book is her journey away from her home and life at Obernewtyn and all those she loves. It is a heartbreaking journey she takes with her old and fey cat Maruman, and Gahltha the stallion, both who travel on the dream trails with her as her guardians. This journey takes them to meet up with a pack of wolves who also form a part of Elspeth’s Quest to stop the before time computer machines Sentinel being woken and permanently destroying the world already blighted by the taint of the Great White.

The third part of the book sees Elspeth reunited with those she loves and gives her courage to continue her journey. Her band of friends all learn more about the Quest during a journey across the black lands led by the wolves, facing illness due to the taint and frightening encounters with carnivorous, bat-like creatures along the way. Tthe sending coverhey learn more about themselves, and the journey each of them made to reach this point and to be at Elspeth’s side on this perilous journey.

As a writer, who has been to courses and had been told many fundamentals about writing, one being ‘to limit the number of characters in a story’ as it’s confusing to readers; this book and whole series, does not adhere to that theory, with over five pages of characters listed. All the characters form layers over layers pushing the story further with Elspeth Gordie as the main character.

I found the ending frustrating as the hook leaves the reader gasping to read the next book. After 750 pages this is no small tome.  I eagerly await the final chapter in The Red Queen.

Ice Breaker – The Hidden Series by Lian Tanner, reviewed by Jill Smith

ice-breaker-aust-coverI was in a session at Somerset Literary Festival in March 2016, and attended a session presented by Lian Tanner. I shook her hand and introduced myself. She got ready for her meeting with the students who attended by running on the spot.

The kids came in and she had the kids give her story ideas. They giggled and joked while she helped ask the important what if questions. They answered and a very bad story started to come together. At the end of this exercise, she said ‘funnily enough I didn’t write that’.

Then she read the prologue to Ice Breaker. The kids were gobsmacked. It is so good, such a hook. You long to know what happened to the metal child. So, I had to buy the book.

Three hundred years after the initial escape from the anti-machinists, Petrel is ‘a nothing lian-tannergirl’ barely living aboard the Ice Breaker Oyster. Her friends the rats Mister Smoke and Missus Slink are the only people she trusts. She had no idea that everything was about to change when she alerted the crew to a frozen boy on the ice. They rescued the boy then bad things started to happen. Petrel finds out who her parents were, and that she is not a nothing girl. The boy, Fin, had been left on the ice as a trap, the anti-machinists lure. Will the crew of the Oyster, now working against each other as separate factions come together? Will they be able to wake the sleeping Captain?

This book is wonderfully written and the first of three books in The Hidden Series, and I’m looking forward to reading the others.

Somerset – all booked in for my writing fix 2017 –

Somerset Celebration of Literature 2017

I have managed to get one precious day to indulge in inspirational doses of new authors and books to talk about.

Lately, I’ve been writing quite a bit for The Ten Penners new Adventure anthology. I get huge doses of inspiration from the ladies in this group and from reading children’s stories and YA’s books. It’s always great to be able to see different writers I wouldn’t normally get to meet and hear about their journey into writing.

March is fast approaching and I’ve booked myself one full day of sessions, this is who I’ll be seeing on Wednesday 15th March.

newton-robert-bio-picRobert Newton works as a full-time firefighter with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. His first novel, My Name is Will Thompson, was published in 2001. Since then he has written six other novels for young people, including Runner, The Black Dog Gang and When We Were Two, which won the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction.

His latest novel is Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky, published February 2017. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and three daughters.

The role of Professor Francesca Falconette, Harry Potter Enthusiast, is played by award-sunde-nadia-bio-picwinning children’s entertainer Nadia Sunde. Nadia Sunde is one of Australia’s most celebrated and highly acclaimed children’s theatre writers and performers.

An internationally and nationally awarded singer/songwriter she is also the author of two children’s books, an experienced music educator, actress, comedienne and ABC radio presenter. Nadia has written four children’s theatre shows and also works as a freelance creative consultant / producer / director / performer on adult and children’s theatre. Nadia uses her skills as a professional performer to engage children in a vibrant and interactive presentation, using drama and comedy to activate children’s imagination and creative curiosity.

kane-kim-bio-picKim Kane was born in London and went on to practise law. Her picture book, Family Forest, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Awards, and The Vegetable Ark and Esther’s Rainbow were both CBCA Notable Books.

Her junior fiction novel, Pip: The Story of Olive, won the Barbara Ramsden Award and was shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) and Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards. Kim lives with her family in Melbourne. She writes whenever and wherever she can.

Rachael Craw is the award-winning author of the YA speculative fiction trilogy Spark, Stray and Shield, with book one being recently optioned for the big screen by Miss Conception craw-rachael-bio-picFilms. Her early years studying drama developed her passion for snappy dialogue and vivid characterisation.

This, combined with her love of classical heroes, teen angst and popular culture, informs much of her creative process. Rachael writes, teaches and enjoys small town life at the sunny top of New Zealand’s South Island.

nicholas-soraya-bio-picAs a horse-crazy girl, Soraya Nicholas dreamt of owning her own pony and riding every day. There were plenty of adventures on horseback throughout her childhood, and lots of stories scribbled in notebooks, which eventually became inspiration for Soraya’s very own pony series, Starlight Stables.

Soraya lives with her husband and children on a small farm in New Zealand, surrounded by four-legged friends and still vividly recalling what it felt like to be 10 years old and head over heels in love with horses. The Starlight Stables series includes Pony Detectives, Gymkhana Hijinks, Bush Bolts and Saving Starlight.

I’m looking forward to writing a blog post about the day!

Happy Australia Day 2017

cooyar-coverWe’ve had a sleep in and now getting ready for an Australia Dayimg_1543 party at friend Sandra Rogers who is launching her book Cooyar. I’ve read and reviewed this already, check out 2nd January post.

The car and house are decorated, flags abound. We’re ready for sausages on the BBQ, lamingtons, Anzac biscuits and everything Australian.

Have a great day everyone!  Stay safe! Enjoy the celebrations!

Interview with Belinda Murrell

Courtesy of The English Tour blog

https://theenglishtutorblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/author-interview-with-belinda-murrell/#like-252

No prizes for guessing I love good Australian authors, and when this popped into my inbox I had to share it. Particularly, as I was so engrossed with a speaker at Somerset Literary Festival last year, that I didn’t realise the person next to me was Belinda Murrell! It was only when some children came up to her after the session and asked her to sign some books that I realised I missed an opportunity.

Author interview with Belinda Murrell

Belinda Murrell writes children’s fiction – both junior readers and for older children. Belinda kindly offered some insights into her writing:

 

1.    What does your workspace look like?

I live in an on old Victorian house near the sea with my husband Rob and three children. I am lucky enough to have a beautiful office at home, which is lined with hundreds of books, has a fireplace and looks out over my garden. My dog Asha keeps me company, sleeping in front of the fire. It is a gorgeous place to work – sunny, calm and quiet.

2.    Who or what inspires your work?

As a children’s author, perhaps it’s not surprising that kids are my greatest inspiration. Initially it was my own three children Nick, Emily and Lachie who inspired me to write books for them. Now however I am also inspired by readers who love my books and children I meet. One of the greatest inspirations is receiving hundreds of emails, drawings and letters from children who love my books. They tell me what they love about each book, and beg me to write more. I also spend several weeks each year on tour – speaking at literary festivals, schools, bookstores and Book Week events. Each year I meet thousands of children and I love talking with them, discussing what they enjoy about books, what interests them and intrigues them. Many of my ideas for books are triggered by conversations or experiences I’ve had with children.

3.    What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

I have four tips which all begin with P! They are:

Passion – write what you love. Write from your heart. Don’t try to follow trends. Write for yourself.

Persistence – there are so many writers with talent, who write extremely well. But to succeed as a writer you need bucketloads of determination and tenacity. Succeeding as a writer can only be achieved through lots of hard work over many years!

Practise – write constantly. Write every day. Take a notebook with you everywhere and fill it.

Pack your bags – travel the world and have amazing adventures. Work at various jobs, volunteer, experience life, fill your notebooks with sights, people and experiences.

4.    What was your reaction when you found out that your first manuscript was going to be published?

Utter joy! I screamed and cried and laughed. It was definitely one of the most exciting days in my life. My agent rang to tell me the news. My family all came running to find out what was going on. Then I rang my sister Kate (who is also an author). She was as thrilled as I was and we celebrated with French champagne. Despite all the excitement, I couldn’t really believe it was true until I first saw my name on the cover of a book in a bookstore.

5.    What dreams do you have for your writing career?

To keep writing books which kids love. To stretch myself and keep getting better as a writer. To challenge myself and try different genres and styles.  I have been incredibly lucky to have a career as a writer doing something I love so much. I work with a fantastic team at Random House who are so talented and supportive. I get to spend time with lots of extremely gifted and inspirational authors. I am now writing my twenty-first book, yet I still get very anxious when I finish a new book and am waiting for my publisher to read it. Will she like it? Is it any good? Writing can be a solitary and often difficult job. Yet opening that package with your book straight from the printer is still one of the best feelings in the world.

And a quick biography:

Belinda Murrell is an internationally published, bestselling children’s author. Her 21 books include The Sun Sword Trilogy, a fantasy-adventure series for boys and girls aged 8 to 12. Her time-slip books – The Locket of Dreams, The Ruby Talisman, The Forgotten Pearl, and The Ivory Rose – have been shortlisted for various awards, including KOALAs (2013, 2012 and 2011), CBCA Notable List and highly commended in the PM’s Literary Awards. Her new book, The River Charm, is based on the thrilling adventures of her ancestors. For younger readers (aged 6 to 9) Belinda has a new Lulu Bell series, about friends, family, animals and adventures growing up in a vet hospital. http://www.belindamurrell.com.au <http://www.belindamurrell.com.au&gt;

https://www.facebook.com/belinda.murrell.5