Taya Bayliss Code Breaker mystery reviewed

27 Nov 2014

Front-Cover-Taya-Bayliss-Code-Breaker-by-EJ-GoreThe Bayliss family is on the move again, this time to Narralong, home of the famous Splinter Island BIrd Sanctuary. Taya’s father is there to investigate a change in the breeding habits of the native birds, or so he says.

Taya has a bad feeling about this trip and an injury to Chris seems to confirm her fears.

A recurring dream, a series of lies and the discovery of a body on the beach leads Taya to suspect that her father is involved in something far more sinister. Taya’s relationship with her father is challenged in this emotional environmental mystery.

The writers’ web reviewers thought that this title in the Taya Bayliss mystery series was suited to older readers. Here’s why…

“My 10-year-old daughter had a read of this book and again enjoyed reading another Taya Bayliss story.The book explores Taya’s father’s involvement in trying to track down some egg poachers.

Taya starts to write down random numbers and letters that she sees while she is out and about doing her daily things. She is very particular about patterns and the need for order. These random numbers and letters are very out of place for Taya.

In the process of writing down these numbers and letters, she sees a pattern in these ‘codes’ and understands that it relates to types of birds and their eggs. Taya makes a connection between this and the poaching. Will the poachers be caught in time?

For those of you that like to read an adventure story as well as cracking codes.” Dyan Burgess

Code Breaker is another exciting suspense mystery for young readers in the successful Taya Bayliss series. I was introduced to this series several months ago and am really enjoying the stories.

I would say that the author has written for a slightly older audience this time. My 10 year old didn’t engage with it, but my 13 year old thinks it’s a great read and recommends it as a great adventure.

It does start off on a serious note and I wasn’t quite sure what the hook was, but it soon settled into a riveting mystery adventure by the end of the first short chapter. The themes are darker than in the Taya Bayliss Dog Sitter book I had read previously, with murders and ruthless criminals the order of the day.

Taya is witness to mysterious events in the bird sanctuary of Narralong and her detective skills are put to the test with a obscure code to crack. Her father is keeping secrets and it is up to the youngster to figure out the truth of the bird thieves before more lives could be lost.

The tension builds nicely in the grand tradition of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. The only thing missing I felt was the camaraderie between characters with Taya’s friend, Chris, out of action in hospital for much of the story. I do feel that these two have a good rapport and hope Chris returns in future novels.

All in all, a fun read. Well edited and nicely constructed. 4 stars.” Kasper Beaumont

EJ-Gore-headshotAuthor EJ Gore (right) grew up with a love of reading thanks to her mother who introduced her to the library.

She says: “That’s where my vivid imagination flourished and my delight in storytelling was born. During my thirty years as a primary school teacher, I used storytelling and drama as the base for my classroom practice creating stories and plays through which my students were encouraged to develop deeper understanding and knowledge of curriculum concepts.”

Now retired from full-time teaching, she has the time for two of her greatest pleasures – writing and travelling.

EJ Gore is currently working on a novel started in 2012 and of her Taya Bayliss series of books, she says, “I wanted to write books that featured real kids dealing with situations that could actually happen, no fantastic super powers or magic, just quick wits and good problem solving skills. I wanted the young readers to be able to imagine themselves in the story. Children are wise little beings who delight in solving mysteries. Adults often underestimate their wisdom.”

When not writing, EJ blogs, promotes her books, tutors children, walks her dogs and travels with her husband.

 Taya Bayliss Code Breaker is now available in the writers’ web bookstore as a PDF eBook or a hard copy book.

The other Taya Bayliss  books in the series, Dog Sitter and Treasure Hunter are reviewed here and here.


Digital books – they are good news for everyone (and everything!)

24 Nov 2014

On 25th January 2012, on Fran Kelly’s ABC Radio National show Breakfast, Peter Marks was talking ‘tablets’ in his Tech review.   EBook readers and tablets were under many Christmas trees, with sales data from the US indicating a doubling of ownership – from 10% of the adult population to 19%.

The Amazon Kindle has been around since 2007.  I received mine as a birthday gift in 2009.  Whilst certainly this doesn’t make me an early adopter, it does mean quite a few new models have now been released to the market which supersede mine!  Now, you can buy a Nook, an iPad, a Sony Reader.   The market has finally reached a critical mass where publishers now consider releasing a book as a print AND an eBook version.

Tick – proliferation of published books now as eBooks.  Great for readers.

Peter Marks commented on the oft heard comment that digital age for books means the demise of the publishing industry.   “I don’t see it as the death of publishing … I see it as the birth of publishing.”  I have say, I agree.

Tick – access to publishing.  Great for aspiring writers.

For the younger readers, used to reading on screen, the next natural step for digital books is text books.  Last Friday Apple announced a deal with the three big text book publishers McGraw Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflen Harcourt (who between them account for 90% of text books sales in the US) to provide content which is priced at $14.99 or less.   These digital books, produced using the free app iBook Author, are part of the iBook 2 evolution.

Tick – reduced volume of paper.  Great for students no longer lugging heavy bags and for great for parents pockets.

Personally, it is the immediacy, accessibility and the affordability of digital books which has me hooked.   I download a book, consume it, and may or may not think of it again.  When I really enjoy a book and want it to have a more permanent place in my life, then I go to my local bookstore and purchase a print copy.   And this is appreciated.  Today, via our local newspaper, one independent bookstore owner graciously described ‘the initial panic felt (when eBooks found favour)… had wavered as devoted clientele kept coming back.’

Tick – multiple platforms for delivery.  Great for the traditional publishers and the book stores bottom line.

Tick – and finally, this selective purchasing is great for my bookcase which no longer groans under the weight of unwanted titles.

Five good reasons and not all of them obvious!

Cheers, Emma.

Fantasy, The Magister reviewed

21 Nov 2014

The Magister“Congratulations to David Cox for luring me in again with his great writing and leaving me begging for more,” so says writers’ web reviewer and author, Kasper Beaumont of the fantasy novel, The Magister.

The great magister, Brennan Redmayne dies of old age, though there is an odd suspicion rising in a few of his followers.

Three men are sent out to lead a company of riders north, west and south to go out in search of the three greatest friends of the magister; Ludwig, Brunian and Abbot, in a bid to get to the bottom of the mystery of his death.

Here is what the writers’ web reviewers thought about The Magister, suited to hard-core fantasy lovers as well as those who prefer some more realism and history.

“The title “Magister” by David Cox has been loosely adapted from the Middle Ages meaning, a personage of authority. So, we know that the hero is someone important. Interestingly, the title character only features in name and legacy, and has no active role in the actual story. The story centres around different troops who were under the jurisdiction of the Magister and their roles and ambitions now that a new leader is sought.

The fantasy is well-written with strong, unusual grammar usage and, a strong and clear voice. David Cox is comfortable with the language and style of this genre. I felt it easy to enter into the mood of the story and its dialogue.

The character of note for me was the Captain, Eamond, Lord Greyworm because he exhibits strength, loyalty, courage and intuition when assessing the old man. He also isn’t a ‘hot head’ like some of the other characters, more of a strategist.

I enjoyed the author’s descriptive style, clear and clean writing; it effortlessly and subtly drew me into the desired mood for potentially imminent action. I liked the ‘darkness’ of the writing mood, it somehow didn’t demand any emotion from me as the reader.

This is a good story for a beginner in fantasy reading as it is not bizarre. It is easy to read and would also appeal to the seasoned reader of this genre. Both female and male readers would find this a good read. I enjoyed the work.” Gloria Hamilten

“The Magister is a short fantasy story which is set in a harsh medieval-type world where Lord Redmayne has been killed and riders set forth from the castle in three directions to notify other lords. As with a previous David Cox story I have reviewed, I enjoyed the descriptive and gritty writing style. You really feel drawn into the world he has created.

The main character here is Eamond Greyworm, a rather suspicious-sounding name to me (shades of Tolkein’s Wormtongue) for a young knight who has to resort to hard tactics to keep his older minions in check. I like the descriptions of his leadership struggles and would be interested to hear more of why the young man has been given this position.

I get the feeling there is more of this story to come, so I’m hoping that perhaps a novella or full novel will result as more is written. Kasper Beaumont

The Magister appears to be set in a fantasy country similar to the middle ages and opens with a company of three groups of warriors setting out to deliver an important message to the various parts of the kingdom. The main characters in this first section of the story are Uric, Eamond and Gamult, the three captains of the horseman. The story follows the journey of Eamond and his men as they separate from the other two groups.

The story is written in the third person with an abundance of descriptive language that sets the scene very well. Because only the first part of the story is being reviewed, there was limited story and character development. The story thus far, has been developed well with enough detail given to convey the type of society and the characters of the men that we meet along the journey. The reader is left anticipating some twist of plot or complication that will then have to be resolved.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting and characters as I sought to understand this fantasy story. I expect there will more adventure to come as the story unfolds. This story would be enjoyed by readers of ‘old world’ fantasy and adventure.” Sharyn Macdonald.

Full reviews of The Magister can be viewed on the Reviews page.

DaveCox Author David Cox (right) has been writing since primary school, inspired by Tolkein who “sparked my love of reading and I have been in love with his universe since I read The Hobbit and later, The Lord of the Rings.”

About his writing process, David wittily says, “As George Martin once said, there are two types of writers. There is the gardener, who goes out and plants the seed, waters it, and see what it grows into. The second is the architect, who has all these grand plans and schemes, and will know every inch of the building and what is going to happen before it is finished (just paraphrasing there). I think that I have a mix of both. Most of the time, when I’m writing a short story, I am the gardener, I start off and see what it shapes into. When I’ve got an idea for a hundred thousand word monster, I turn into a bit of an architect. I highlight key points and plot twists and turns that I want to see in the book, and I just let the plant grow into shape.

When  not writing, Davis manages to squeeze in time for  university, doing assignments, studying and working at a hardware store. “Living as much as I can,” he says.

The Magister is now available as a PDF eBook  in the writers’ web bookstore.

Other epic fantasy novels also by David Cox include The Valkyr and A King, A Queen and a Magician .

Story Writing Ideas – Just one image can start a great story

18 Nov 2014

I loved Jackie French’s comment at the CYA Conference in 2009 so much it still is posted on my wall. “It doesn’t take one idea to create a book, it takes THOUSANDS.” So, where do ideas come from?

I have the good fortune of being part of a local writers group.  Yes – one of those often told truisms – it really is INVALUABLE to be a part of a writers group… but I digress (more of this later!)  There was talk of imposing a ‘deadline’ for writing, to ‘keep us honest’.   The deadline was next meeting.  I had a terrible flash … I simply did not have a couple of days to wander aimlessly in the streets, letting my head empty for it to then be overtaken with a brilliant idea, which then brewed and simmered until clarity befell me.  (You have a huge insight now into my writing habits and possibly the exact understanding of why I don’t manage to produce much of it!)  What on earth was I going to do!!!!

Image – get an image and free write… it is a method I use in the classroom and it actually works.  The image I used was a little boy in a Telstra advertisement.  He was ‘old fashioned’ looking, with a creamy coloured woollen vest which came from a thick cumbersome knitting needle, yet an lopsided smile which generated trust.  Where did ‘he’ come from, who were his parents, who influenced him, who tucked into bed each night, having supported his every whim… Slowly, his world emerged.

The trick to the process is to not actually over think the image selection.  Have a folder you have already filled with images that you simply like.  It may be the colour, the room layout, a face, an event.  Don’t intellectualise it, just cut it out, put it into a folder and then walk away.  When you need a flash of inspiration, just close your eyes, rifle through the images and when you can feel you have one, pull it out.

If it is a setting, then who would live there?  If it is an event, who would participate?  If it is a person, who are they?  Answer the questions and you will find you are on your way.

Have fun

X Em


Murder mystery Muddied Water reviewed

15 Nov 2014

Muddied Water by Neil McInnes Front CoverMike Brennan, at the age of twelve, witnessed the murder of beautiful young girl near a swimming hole on the Murrumbidgee River. Brennan had kept the secret of that dark and terrible day for fifty years, but now his story needed to be told.

The writers’ web reviewers admired the surprising twist in this murder mystery, likening it to one by Agatha Christie. Here’s what they have to say about Muddied Water:

“Muddied Water is an easy read full of the excitement of murder with a twist, intrigue for the main character as he digs for the truth, and my only criticism is that it was not long enough. A little more of what was written would have kept me locked onto the pages longer…and not with boredom.

For 50 years, Mike Brennan has harboured a guilt that he has finally decided to face. His story is in the Murrumbidgee River region.

The author writes the book making it a easy-to-read story. He seems to know the Murrumbidgee River area intimately and describes it comfortably. The author has taken care in formulating the character Mike Brennan, to the point where at times I felt I was reading the story from a personal perspective.” Angeline Beikoff

“At the tender age of 12 years Mike Brennan witnesses what he thinks is the brutal murder of a teenage girl. He flees the scene scared that somebody will see him. Afraid to tell anyone about this he carries the memory with him though out his adult life, which results in horrendous nightmares.

After the death of his wife he consults a psychologist who encourages him to return to the scene of the crime so he can face his demons what takes place in the town of Wagga Wagga on his return dredges up even more deep seated memories.

This book has an interesting storyline and a great twist. It is well written and has very believable characters. The dialogue is natural and easy to relate too. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.”  Coral Nichols

“The title of this novel aptly foretells the plot. The author has provided some strong descriptive passages of the place and feel of the Murrumbidgee river as the background to a fast paced novel with a surprising twist. I never saw that coming and really enjoyed it. I congratulate you on your effort. I enjoy reading Australian stories.” Lyndall Holmes

“Writers Web has discovered Australia’s own Agatha Christie in Neil McInnes. What an extraordinary mystery novella you have written Neil in “Muddied Waters”. Loved every minute of it, and could not put it down until I had finished reading it. I was even tempted to flash through to the end to see what happened!

The title was brilliant. It reflected the muddied waters of one of Australia’s historic rivers, and figuratively speaking, the muddied waters of the murder and the muddied waters of the police and corruption.

It was an absolutely ripping yarn, that was well-edited. Congratulations Neil and Writers Web for finding such a great new author.” Judith Flitcroft

Full reviews of Muddied Water are on the Book Reviews page.

Neil-McInnesAuthor, Neil McInnes (right) began writing fiction after he sold his consultancy business and retired in 2006. Since then Neil has written five novels, three screenplays and numerous short stories.

He says, “I have a vivid imagination, a love of books and immense pleasure from creating stories that others may enjoy reading. Usually I have an outline of the story in my mind when I commence. I break my story into three acts then begin typing, jumping from one chapter to another as the plot evolves. I know this is not a very structured method of writing a 500 page novel, but once I get started the words seem to flow.”

Neil’s other books YA adventure, Eagle’s Realm is reviewed here, and his crime novel The Rutlidge Profiles is reviewed here. Both books have very positive reviews from the writers’ web reviewers.

Muddied Waters is now available from the bookstore as a PDF eBook.

Read? Is anyone reading?

12 Nov 2014

EVERYONE and I mean, everyone talks of the sale of books slowing down.  The bricks and mortar stores are hemorrhaging and literacy rates are the topic of talk-back radio / morning television on a regular basis…

According to http://www.statisticbrain.com/reading-statistics/ 80% of US households did not buy a book in 2013.  56% of young people claim to have read more than 10 books a year.  Only 10!  In Australia, nearly half of the population DO NOT have a literacy level which is needed to thrive in a knowledge-based economy. 

Yet we had a National Year of Reading in 2012, we have programs like Get Reading! And National Simultaneous Storytime… it certainly is not for lack of trying when it comes to actually influencing change in these statistics.  What was happening out there?

I asked the powers that be – the writers’  web writers.  I really wanted an insight into what writers’ reading habits were! 

Kasper Beaumont summaries the dilemma beautifully.  “It is a conundrum that it is the easiest time ever in history to publish,yet people seems to have less and less time to read.” In a bid to bolster the lot of other writers, Kasper reviews at least three books each month and buys her books from stores which stock independent writers!  

Luciana Cavallaro has an insight into the falling literacy levels in Australia. “Access to information via the internet has affected student learning process. Many tend to cut and paste their information thinking it’s all right to do that without first reading the text! It’s frustrating as a teacher. No matter how many times you teach the research process students are not willing to do the leg work and will find short-cuts to get the task done.”

One of writers’ web’s younger writers, Dion Warren reads over four books every month.  He does like the physical book as well and buys them from stores.  With a different purchase strategy, Jerry Richert shops online and reads at least a ‘how-to’ book nearly every month, as does Terrie Anderson.  “We are reading less because we have less time and more interruptions, also being connected has taken over many of my friends lives, they are reading all day every day but not books, (they are reading) tablets, iPhones.”  Still, Jane Grieve is happily embracing on-line purchasing of books, because of the convenience and the transportability.  “I have all my books in one place and very transportable in my nomadic lifestyle.  I’d average a book a week. I read only in bed. If I’m busy and tired I don’t get nearly as much read before I fall asleep!”

Time is the enemy of many, as Coral Nichols describes, “I read an average two to three books a months, I would love to read more but just don’t have the time.  I usually buy my books on-line from Amazon as I do most of my reading on my Kindle, but I still buy books from the book store as I love the idea of turning the page.”  Doreen Slinkard also feels time, or rather lack of, is the challenge.  She certainly is not beholden to one means of supply however, “sourc(ing) my books from everywhere I am able, Library, on-line, book stores, borrowing from friends.” 

I have to admire Antoinette Conolly’s reading habits.  I read about 12 books a month, often two or three at the same time.  Real books, not the e variety.  Used to buy books in bookshops, but as many have closed down in my area of Sydney, now get books at market stalls, Vinnies and Salvos etc. Quite enjoy ‘fossicking’ as my husband calls it! It’s quite amazing some of the treasures I have found recently.”

The greatest insight of all; was the role of friends in the process of reading!

Margot Tesch says, “I would read a book a month on average, sometimes more, sometimes less when life takes over and sometimes I don’t finish them and move on to the next one. I source my books from either on-line bookstores in either hard or electronic versions. I’m leaning more and more to electronic but still love the feel of handling a book so haven’t given that up entirely. It is also easier to lend and share.”

For writers, the issue is not whether or not to read, as it may be the case for the rest of the population, but rather what books to read.  This sharing of ideas, this conversation is actually driving our own purchase decisions and conceivably has the greatest impact on the overall industry. 

I am sorry I didn’t have an epiphany as to how to increase the amount of books we read (therefore improve our situation as writers!) but I certainly appreciated the key to the entire process is sharing!  I believe writers, in their support of each other, will genuinely have a go at keeping reading alive.









Fantasy adventure Mactavish’s Destiny reviewed

09 Nov 2014

Mactavishs Destiny by Antoinette Conolly Front Cover Zachary and Mactavish return to Cauchemar to free Magenta, the apprentice witch, from the aliens in Centauri who are holding her hostage waiting for the fuel for their stricken spacecraft. Due to a number of misadventures, the journey is longer and much more dangerous than expected. The boy and cat have to overcome serious and life-threatening problems in a number of lands in Cauchemar. Will the two friends survive to return safely to Earth?

Book three of the fantasy Cauchemar Trilogy was enjoyed by the writers’ web reviewers for its magical creatures and exciting adventure:

“In this novel Zachary and Mactavish return to the fantasy world of Cauchemar. They travel there to try and free Magenta, who has been held captive by the aliens in Centauri.

This book held my interest because just when I thought the journey would end for Zachary and Mactavish it became even more dangerous. I really enjoy the magical creatures in these books.

I believe that this book can be enjoyed by anyone, especially readers who enjoy fantasy novels. Similar to the other books in the series, because of the language, this book it would be suitable for children aged 12 – 14 years.” Abbey English

“My 10-year-old daughter had a read of this book and she said that the adventure was very exciting. She particularly liked that the protagonist had a goal and had to work towards resolving this and meeting the challenges along the way. The Gaelic words were a little bit of a challenge and she was glad for the glossary to be there.

There were a lot of misadventures along the way and this makes the characters’ inner strength shine through as they need to work together to get to their end goal and they always look for opportunities, even when all seems lost. Nice adventure read with a bit of magic and mystery along the way.” Dyan Burgess

Antoinette-ConollyAuthor Antoinette Conolly (right) is a writer of science fiction/fantasy novels for children. She lives in Sydney and spends a lot of time visiting primary schools and libraries to speak to students about reading/writing and her books. A former high school teacher, Antoinette taught foreign languages (French, German, Italian) and was also a consultant in Training and Development for the Education Department of New South Wales. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Newcastle University and a Master of Educational Administration from New South Wales University. Her novels are suitable for 7 – 13 year old readers.

Antoinette’s writing is inspired by a love of reading (she still reads three books a week). She wrote as a child and teenager when at Uni and had some poems published when in high school. Antoinette always wanted to write fantasy for children, but did not have time until she retired from high school teaching.

Mactavish’s Destiny – Book Three in the Cauchemar Trilogy is now available in the writers’ web bookstore. Also available in the Cauchemar trilogy is book 1, Zachary’s Odyssey reviewed here and book 2, Perilous Journey reviewed here. Anoinette’s other book involving time travel, A Key to Time, is reviewed here.

The First Time… Doreen Slinkard ‘The Writer’s Happy Lament’

04 Nov 2014

Doreen Slinkard, writers’ web author of children’s picture books, Little Thought Monsters (reviewed here), Lulu’s New Pony (reviewed hereand Peppi the Polo Pony (reviewed here) reveals where her stories come from….

I’m sure the stories which possess us as writers, are deemed to burst through at some stage of our life.  They captivate, mesmerise and control, near every waking moment.  I knew from a very young age that I needed to write, but fortunately there were so many other things to discover and experience when young that thankfully it led me away from what has now become an obsession.  I now at the age of over sixty and after beginning to write in earnest, have had many people ask, how do you come up with this or that story.  Well, it’s simple the stories live quietly within, and once allowed through a need to grow, they overtake our senses to even surprise the writer most times.  Well that’s what happens to me, it feels like the story is being channelled through me. Maybe it’s my age?

I love to write short stories, as I can walk away in an appropriate time frame and feel satisfied with what I have written. I have been working hard for the past four years on an adult trilogy, history based in the 19 hundreds.  I’m lucky enough to have excellent proof readers, who I know would not tell a lie and so far, I am, and they are happy with my stories.  I must say though, for and old rooky it was with slight trepidation that I handed my work over to a well established author.  He agreed only to read the first chapter of each book. My confidence was later boosted when his favourable critique was emailed to me.  And so, I then breathed a great sigh of relief. I hadn’t been wasting my time.

I’m sure every author knows in their heart whether they have given a story their all, and then some.  They should be happy then, to hand it over for a constructive proof read and to face the consequences of maybe a further edit  or even a major change. Make sure you choose your proof readers well, not just mum or dad, who will always say. “It’s wonderful dear.”  They must be intelligent, well read and honest.  I think the main thing is that you believe in what you are doing, or in our case writing. Tell it from the heart and you are sure to touch people.  That’s what it’s all about.

Read more about Dorreen Slinkard here.

Short story Pan y Agua reviewed

31 Oct 2014

This South American adventure tells of the attempts of Pan y Agua, a notorious bandit leader of the Grand Chaco of Paraguay  to hijack a heavily laden Unimog and trailer driven by Pedro, a young expat Australian, in the isolated Chaco wildness on Christmas Eve.

The powerful Unimog is Pedro’s only weapon as he stares down the barrel of Pan y Agua’s big silver six shooter. Pedro is determined to reach his destination and the beautiful Angelina by Christmas morning but to do so he must gamble all, amidst a hail of bullets….

Ronald-ButlerAuthor, Ronald Butler(right) spent time in Paraguay, South America as an ordained Anglican priest and has been writing on and off for 20 years. Retirement to the family farm has provided the opportunity to write his chosen genre, historical fiction. Of his writing process, Ronald says, ” Usually in the morning when I’m mentally fresh. First, writing quickly in pencil in note form, then to the computer in detail draft.”

Other works include Blood Latitudes is set in North Queensland based on early European settlement and the resulting devastation of the indigenous population, and sequel, Blood on the Reef. Reviews of these works of historical fiction can be found here. Ronald’s third book is a work in progress set in Paraguay, South America.

When not writing, Ronald has family interests and activities (with three children and six grandchildren), enjoys rowing and helping around the farm and house.

So, what did the writers’ web reviewers think about the adventure of Pan y Agua?

“From the beginning of the story, Pedro, the protagonist, is a likable fellow and he grows on you. He has values which he doesn’t compromise under any circumstance even to the point of putting himself into potential danger by not carrying a firearm. He uses his wits and is a champion for doing the right thing.

There is good use of emotive language in scene- and action-creation that had me engaged right to the end.

I liked the South American location which added an intriguing dimension to the setting. I also liked the foreign words scattered in a story; I find this interesting. The story depicts well what we know about life in the lawless parts of some of the South American isolated areas. It is very readable and the storyline flows well and kept my interest to the end. There was even some humour amongst the terror.

I believe it has a wide readership amongst adults and older teenagers. Female and male readers will enjoy this tale of adventure.” Gloria Hamilten

“Pan U Agua is about Peter’s (or Pedro’s) journey across a vast plain in South America and the dangers he faces. The plain is a lawless territory and I found the book very suspenseful when Peter gets caught in a trap. I really wanted to read on to see if Peter made it home for Christmas.

Young readers aged between 6 and 12 would really like reading this book, especially boys. Abbey English

Short story, Pan Y Agua is now available free  in the writers’ web bookstore.


Best Tips for Editing Yet!

27 Oct 2014

Melaina Faranda has been writing for an eternity. When she was booked for a school visit, and was expected to be there first up on Monday morning, she had not choice but to do a sleep-over in Toowoomba the night before! In a clever bid to make the visit as productive as possible, she offered an editing workshop the day before and googled her way into contact with all the local writers groups and rustled up a full class. Impressive.

I was absolutely hooked from the introduction. Melaina uses the English language like a dancer uses music. To say that she has a broad vocabulary is an understatement and it was nearly hypnotising hearing so much rich language used in context. But I digress – you were reading this for editing tips!

1/ Hook (line and without it, a sinker!)

It is super important to have a hook, not only at the beginning of the first paragraph, but at the beginning of each paragraph AND at the end of each paragraph. You have to give your reader a reason to persist with your story. Their time is precious!

2/Sentences – vary the length / vary the tempo

Have you started with different words? Have you used different sentence lengths?   Consciously choose languorous when necessary or choose short bursts if it mirrors the action!

3/ Avoid proximal repetition

You will find you repeat yourself.  (Should I have used ‘you’ twice in one sentence!) Plus, if you have chosen an unusual word, it can stand out, so use once!

4/ Avoid too many adjectives

You have to trust that the reader is capable of interpreting the story without the handholding.  Avoid adverbs as well, use strong verbs instead.  Walked quickly should be strode or marched

5/ Consistency with the choice of ‘person’

First, second or third person – the choice is yours.  Once you decide, it is a useful exercise to rewrite in another person!

6/ Imagery – to be authentic, it needs logic and realism

Hemingway said, “You may have to murder your darlings”, in reference to those magical constructs that truly, whilst they sound ‘fabulous’ simply don’t make sense!

7/ Purple prose – ditch them!

Purple prose are overly lyrical and have way to many adjectives within a sentence.  Additionally, avoid the cliché – it is low hanging fruit and lazy.

8/ Avoid qualifiers

They weaken or soften a sentence.  Use strong verbs instead.  ‘Ing’ not ‘ly’

9/ Dialogue

Double duty!  Reveal the character and move the story forward.  Remember ‘said’ is nearly invisible, whereas ‘she shouted / he puffed / he roared / she whimpered’ are unnecessarily noticeable!  Get rid of the attributive verbs.

10/ Use active language

The girl picked the flower, not the flower was picked by the girl.

When you are writing, most importantly, strive for the virtuoso.  And finally; don’t rely on these notes, go to a short course by Melaina if you can – you will be languorously swimming in virtuoso!

Em x


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