Picture Book Rusty Rumble reviewed

25 Aug 2014

Front cover smelly socksRusty adores his new home and the Rumbles treat him as a valued member of their family. All is going very well for Rusty; however, when the family leave on the Monday morning for work and pre-school, Rusty finds himself alone again and cries all day. On arriving home later in the afternoon, his family are greeted with lashings of love from Rusty who runs to collect their slippers. When sitting by their lovely smelly feet that night, Rusty comes up with a great idea. As his family sleep, Rusty secretly collects a “smelly” sock from each one, some easier to retrieve than others, and hides them in his little bed for safekeeping. He is very pleased with himself and knows that these socks smell of his loved ones so, to Rusty, they will always keep his family near to him.

What did the writers’ web review panel think about Rusty Rumbles adventures, designed for one to six-year-old readers?

“Young children are going to enjoy this delightful tale of a little dog named Rusty Rumble. He is at the pound waiting for his forever home when he is spied by his new family. The easy-to-read poetry is infectious and the charming tale draws you in from the first line.

Rusty Rumble is a little mischievous and we both enjoyed the playful tone of the book. I read this book with my 6-year-old and think that she will be able to read it herself in the next year or so. It would make great home reader for young children.

We really enjoyed the pictures by Hilbert Bermejo and our only little tip would be for some pupils in the people’s eyes, for they look a little odd. Lots of fun and I bet Dianne Ellis’ next book: ‘Rusty Rumble’s Day at the Beach’ is a beauty too. We recommend it for the young and young at heart. Kasper Beaumont

“Rusty is a naughty dog who steals his owners’ socks. The stealing theme was timely given a stealing incident by Tommy’s sibling earlier in the day. It was a good chance to talk about the morality of the issue.

Despite that Rusty Rumble is light-pawed, Tommy (6) enjoyed the wonderful illustrations and understood Rusty’s motivation for lifting the socks.

The layout of the book with images one side and text the other page of the spread, made it very clean and appealing. A lovely book to enjoy as is or to start a discussion about animal welfare or stealing.” Tommy Edwards

Di Ellis - authorAuthor Dianne Ellis (right) has been writing all her life drafting her first children’s novel in 2011.

She says: “I truly appreciate the written word, both when reading and writing stories. Poetry has played a large part in my life, composing many verses over the years which I’ve enjoyed sharing with family and friends on special occasions.

In the past 10 years, my love of writing has steered me towards children’s stories and I have completed three children’s novels and six picture books and have many lovable characters popping into my head for when I write future books.

When submitting one of my first picture books to a publisher, I was advised to re-write it without rhyme. I tried and tried but it didn’t work. So, I decided to self-publish.”

Dianne  has written her first adult novel and  treasured this writing experience.

When not writing, Dianne can be found work part-time in a corporate office, at  pilates, gym classes, walking and gardening.

Rusty Rumble and his Smelly Socks is now available in the bookstore as a hardcopy book.

5 Things Famous Writers Can Teach Us About Content Marketing

20 Aug 2014

Creating powerful online content can be a tricky process. You need to be good at coming up with ideas, translating those ideas into engaging copy and hitting your target audience’s sweet spot. When you think about it, these skills have always been at the heart of what famous novelists and old school journos do. Our guest blogger, Ruth Dunn has a look at what we can learn from them about creating powerful content.


Make sure you have a worthy topic

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say”. -F. Scott Fitzgerald

The internet is full of an overwhelming amount of content. It boggles the mind. The last thing the world (and your client for that matter) needs is for you to add more ‘nothing’ content. If it’s been done before is your approach a fresh one? If it hasn’t been done before, do people really want to read about it? Generic content doesn’t rank well organically, it doesn’t engage readers and doesn’t attract shares. It’s more profitable to spend a little extra time developing a fresh angle for one article than to churn out 5 generic articles.

Always keep learning

“The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.” -J.K. Rowling

Be like the sponge. There is no ‘ultimate writer’ status you can achieve, where you know everything. A good content marketer will strive to continually hone their skills, to be a better writer and marketer. Even the most famous writers out there know how valuable it is to keep learning.

Understand and respect your audience

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” -Elmore Leonard

Don’t just write about things that interest you. Go beyond your own preferences and understand what your audience wants to read. In his Daily UX Crash CourseJoel Marsh sums this up well:

  1. You want things that don’t matter to users.
  2. You know things that don’t matter to users.

Keep this at the front of your mind throughout the writing process – from ideation to proof reading. When you think you are finished, run your content past someone else so they can help you identify areas that people might skip over.

Don’t waste words

“Never use the word, ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of ‘very’ coming on, just write the word, ‘damn,’ in the place of ‘very.’ The editor will strike out the word, ‘damn,’ and you will have a good sentence.” -William Allen White

Speaking of respecting your audience, don’t make them read lazy writing. Keep it tight and leave out weak and redundant words and phrases such as:

  • Very
  • Quite
  • Really
  • Literally
  • Things
  • Actually
  • Honesty
  • Basically
  • Rather
  • Got

You get the point. You might find a suitable context to use these words, but in most cases they are fillers or have more accurate substitutes. Make it a habit to evaluate your words.

Write, proof, edit, repeat

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” -C. J. Cherryh

‘That article was perfect the first time I wrote it,’ said no writer ever. Get rid of the misconception that great writers create masterpieces straight off the bat. The truth is, awesome content requires writing, proofing, editing and rewriting. It’s a process of refinement. If you have ever written something you thought was the bees knees only to come back later and realise it’s garbage, you will understand how important this is. 7 steps you might like to consider are:

  1. Write
  2. Walk away and do something else
  3. Come back with fresh eyes
  4. Edit
  5. Let your team proofread and suggest change
  6. Final polish
  7. Have a web designer look over it
  8. Publish

If the greats can teach us anything it’s to never stop. Never stop learning, never stop honing your skills, never stop listening and never allow yourself to settle for average.

  • Take the time to create fresh content.
  • Keep learning, asking questions and honing your skills.
  • Understand what your audience wants.
  • Leave out weak words.
  • Write, proof, edit, repeat.

Ruth Dunn is a copywriter who sees writing as a powerful tool for communication and expression. You can read her original article on the Matter Solutions website.

Romance reviewed – The Expats

17 Aug 2014

The-Expats-by-Ivy-DSouva-Front-CoverCan love conquer all? Neelum has an arranged Hindi marriage to Vikram and they live in oil rich Bahrain where she does not have any rights. She and her family are guest workers or temporary economic migrants, totally dependent on their employers.

Neelum abandons her husband and her arranged marriage for her high school sweetheart Aamir, a Muslim. She was parted from him by her parents who didn’t want anything to do with Muslims as the two communities in India were enemies for centuries.

Their love is stronger than the risk of being ostracised by family and community forever.

Our writers’ web reviewers admired both the writing style and the story line in The Expats. Here is what they had to say…

“The story tells the struggles of a Hindu bride settling into her arranged marriage. Set in Bahrain, the story tells of Neelum’s personal struggles in a strict, religious environment. It begins with Neelum unhappily settling into her new role as wife in her husband’s household with a nightmare mother-in-law. Finding courage, Neelum sets off into the workforce and transforms from an obedient housewife to a sophisticated career woman through her own devices. And best of all, she finds true love.

The story is written mostly from Neelum’s perspective. Although we do get an insight into some other key characters struggling with similar religious relationship struggles. The character’s voice is quite formal and portrays her “good Hindu girl” persona quite clearly. The language can get a little a tricky with the amount of Indian food on offer, however it was a good read to learn of another country’s customs.

Neelum seems like a character dear to the author. Her struggles in such a rigid environment where religion and people’s opinions are an essential part of everyday life. It was inspiring to watch Neelum transform from a young, naïve Hindu girl wearing traditional clothing to someone with a career, wearing the clothing she chooses and most importantly, following her heart to marry her childhood sweetheart Aamir.

I really enjoyed learning of the different customs and conflicts between the Indian religions and factions. I also enjoyed reading all about the different cuisines – I think Indian will be on the next take away selection! The ending was also special with its happily ever after feel.

Anyone who enjoys reading about character transformations would enjoy this book. Aimed mainly at women, I think men could enjoy this read and learn a thing or two about how strong women have to be gain independence.” Holly Murphy

“Ivy D’Souza obviously is an accomplished writer. The Expats is a well plotted story, sincere dialogue and authentic descriptions. The book has a vintage feel about it, being set in the 80s. Aside from its novel formula, the book also is helpful for the reader to gain really first-hand insight into Indian culture, and how this culture interacts and deals with difference. The way that the non-deliberate way the author introduces this, through Neelum’s intimate relationships – her love, boss, work colleagues -, gives the novel’s an authentic feel. There are some subtle editing issues. For example, “The temp, very helpful, taught her how to manage the filing system” (p. 30), confuses the tenses. This would be a good holiday book, one where you can read a chapter and anticipate the next before you go to sleep.

This book is a very sound literary work. However, the main character is almost a little too good, a bit like Dicken’s Oliver Twist, and the audience cannot help but sympathise with her and her many admirable qualities – beauty, intelligence, work ethic -; and despite being involved in an illicit affair, she has almost too few flaws. For me, it appeared that just as Neelum was getting into a challenging situation, she all too soon is saved gracefully from it.” Regina Staier

Ivy-DSouva-HeadshotAuthor Ivy D’Souza (right) received a grant from City of Monash in 2012 to write and publish The Expats, her first novel. She is a member of the Clayton Clarinda Writers Circle as well as Caulfield Writers.

She has also written a number of short stories, some of which have been published in anthologies. Her interest in writing came about because of her love of reading from a very early age. She is passionate about the written word in all its forms, although she mainly writes fiction. She hopes to write many more novels in the future.

Ivy’s desire to write a book stemmed from her voracious reading appetite.

From 2007 Ivy began to seriously pursue writing as her life’s  main interest after attending a writers’ workshop writing and publishing short stories. She then began work on The Expats, set in Bahrain, where she lived for over a decade.

Describing The Expats, Ivy says: “My book is about a young Indian woman who lives and works there, adapting to a different culture, an arranged marriage, and a job where the power of the employer is supreme and she can be dismissed on a whim. But she needs to work and earn money, so she can eventually settle in a western country and have a better future.”

When she is not writing, Ivy likes to socialise with family and friends, paint and make greeting cards.

The Expats is now available in the bookstore as an eBook or hard copy book.

They are what? Reading books?

13 Aug 2014

Young Americans are reading more print books than ever!

What is the world coming to!  Just as we are about to embrace a season of writers festivals tracking up and down the eastern seaboard (west coast and beyond next year!), there will be the constant conversation about the changes in the publishing industry, in the changes of peoples reading habits, and the optimists vs the pessimists debate about the validity and longevity of the book.

Five years ago at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, a very brave presenter asked for a show of hands, how many guests had a Kindle.  There were very few respondees.  In 2012, it was half the marquee.  See, it was in April 2011, Amazon reported more digital books were being sold compared to paper based books.  It was the end of the print book as we knew it… Sob.  Or was it?

Well, I had already joined the optimists, and not only because I publish books in a ‘real book’ format, that is on paper, bound and all… Nor because I was sinking my last drops of energy into working on writers’ web in supporting emerging authors – but rather because it is true!

Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project study ‘Younger American’s reading and library habits’, reveals the prominent role of books, libraries and technology in the lives of young readers, ages 16 to 29.     You can imagine how stoked I was to read this, because the reading habits of young literate Americans is the same as mine – so I actually get it!  EBooks are for a time and place, so are print books.  Passionate readers like book in multiple formats so as to best suit their reading practices that day.  Grab a Kindle and down load the second book in a series as you finish the first at midnight.  In a que at an airport, fish for a light airport version of a paperback that is not too demanding.  Be engrossed in an eBook and then go to the bricks and mortar store and buy two – one for your own bookshelf, one as a gift!

Interestingly enough, at one point my reading habits diverge greatly from my younger counterparts… According to the findings of the Pew study found Among Americans who read e-books, those under age 30 are more likely to read their e-books on a cell phone (41%) or computer (55%) than on an e-book reader such as a Kindle (23%) or tablet (16%).  I can’t see my phone screen on a good day!

And as for the rest of my tribe, well, without giving anything away, of the book formats read last year, 73% were print books compared to 17% eBooks… so those sure of the demise of the book may have a little time to wait yet!  Maybe it has more to do with the glasses!



Comedy The Amazing Adventures of Charlie Particle reviewed

09 Aug 2014

Charlie Particle REAL Front CoverCharlie Particle was named after being found wrapped as a parcel. Life can be difficult for all of us but being abandoned in a Baby Shop was not a good start. Yet he was a person who could see the irony of his name being in rhyme and rhyme was to become his passion and stay with him for life.

He discovers a society that seems to be processed, and blessed with excess from the magnificent to the absurd, so he decides his poetic rhetoric needs be heard as he believes that pleasurable nonsense and its light relief is what would tip the balance to a higher existence.

But sadly it seems life has decided that simplicity is not the way things ought to be and Charlie finds himself in love and has to deal with life’s complexities and its surprises as he realises how bizarre we all are, as we all are crazy in our own way.

So, what did our reviewers make of this comedy? Here’s what they have to say:

“I enjoyed this book immensely. This book is about a boy named Charlie Particle and how his amazing adventure affected his life. Even though very silly ( I mean it in a good way) I loved it any way. I found from this book that the author has a fun and creative style and really enjoys writing.” Caitlin Shore

“This is an adventure taking place in a contemporary city, familiar to the reader, where large corporations suck the life out of individuals driving them to insanity and laws are enforced by Police in the usual manner, by taking a culprit to Court. The writer plays on the irony of the so-called freedom that constantly finds itself at odds with the larger system.

Christopher has chosen a relaxed style of writing. The narration incorporates parts of the main character’s dialogue. For instance, most sentences contain rhyming “Except for the Devilish delights of Saturday poetry nights…” (p.20), which echos the rhyming that occurs in Charlie’s head and is also made more obvious in Charlie’s dialogue. The author uses a lot of complex sentences to structure the storyline which contain quirky wording. Both the choice of rhyming and sentence structure help strengthen the absurd nature of the main character, and the scattered goings-on occurring in his head.

A quick flick inside revealed Acrobats in what looked like highly energetic combat until his eyes

focused through the defused light, on a tricky condom conundrum that took his breath away, pictures

of contemporary clinches with very scary lavish weaponry warped his horizon of innocence, this

magazine showed the unshowable, it became a turbulent instant of existence, presenting too many

complex questions and contradictions for a mild-mannered vegetarian virgin. (p. 22)

The style makes the book quite difficult to read and at times, and the echoing of the character’s voice in the narrative voice are distracting and make the storyline static rather than flowing. Therefore, I would place the book as appropriate for mature readers who can decipher the complexities of the story and can appreciate upbeat post-modern works. For this reason, I would suggest that the book could be enjoyed by people who are familiar with other post-modern works such as Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Regina Staier

Christopher-HeadmesserAuthor, Christopher Headmesser (do you think that is really his name, or do you think he’s messing with us?) picture at right, arrived in Australia in 1969 from England travelling until taking root in Kuranda, the hinterland of Cairns in north Queensland.

Contact with creative people in the area sparked an interest in writing poetry and from there the character of Charlie Particle was conceived.

Of Charlie Particle, Christopher says: “The Adventure of Charlie Particle is created to put a smile on the face in a world that has become a deliriously serious place. I like to think it’s in the tradition of Monty Python, Hitch Hikers guide, Spike Milligan and so on. There is a touch of twisted social comment in what I write. The world has become a delirious serious place where guns and murder have the highest profile. Like Charlie, I believe that because we all live on a round world we should all be able to bend. So my favourite subject is pleasurable nonsense, anything that may lift the spirit with a chuckle.”

When not writing, Christopher works as a tour guide and rainforest interpreter driving a boat on the Barron River in Far North Queensland while living in a rainforest environment.

The Amazing Adventures of the Remarkable Charlie Particle is now available in the bookstore as a PDF eBook.

Sometimes the most ‘writerly’ days are not so obvious!

06 Aug 2014

After scrubbing the house from top to bottom in my annual Autumn clean (I am too distracted by the great outdoors in Spring!) I had so much time to think about previous day and how incredibly inspiring it was as a writer.  I was also assisted by the strange and unspectacular demise of our internet connection and the cloud I was relying on for data storage seems to have dissipated, so I could do little but think!

I realised I had just muddled through possibly the most fabulous ‘writerly’ day without actually writing one single word!

You see, after having no sleep the two nights proceeding, grumping around in the most hideous mood, firing bad tempered responses to the hapless members of my family, I was surprised anything lovely happened at all.  This is why I was locked in my office in the first place!  Files were peeking out of drawers; stacks of paper and notebooks ruled the end of my desk; there was a coffee stain that started to look remarkably like a minion from the movie, ‘Despicable Me’ near my keyboard.  If I couldn’t work, I would clean.

I found the newspaper cutting from a lovely event – Associate Dean, Dr Peter McIlveen (USQ) had published his book Social Constructionism in Vocational Psychology and Career Development in the same year his son, Hamish, had also published a book, through Child Writes, in the same year, his first picture book, The Spaghetti Eating Monster! They were immensely proud of each other.

The second cutting reminded me of how I had met up with two local writers, Bob Grieve and Denise Volp, who kindly responded to my hysterical phone call about a photo opportunity with the local newspaper about an anthology we had published. They held the book aloft for a photo and a story, in preparation for the official launch later that week.  The contributors were as diverse as their writing!   Some are established authors, professional writers – and for others, this is the first time their words have seen light.  I was immensely proud of this project.

In a couple of boxes on top of the bookcase, I found all the original workings, draft after marked-up draft, of Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book is Child’s Play.  As I stacked up draft after draft and to my delight, it was over a metre of paper!  How good is that going to sound when I explain editing to my next group of Child Writes children!

In the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet, an innocuous blue plastic folder.  I would have pushed past it, except it was quite weighty.  To my delight, it was a record of a day I must have been quite chuffed with myself, as it had my ‘folio’ of unpublished picture book manuscripts.  (Imagine it has been revived and sprinkled with love, injected with life by an illustrator and is due for release at the end of the year!)

See, I could to this!  My crankiness was unwarranted.  I could work, I just had to re-adjust my headspace.  And as soon as I remove that coffee stain – I will start anew.

X Emma

Animal adventure, Follow Your Nose reviewed

02 Aug 2014

follow your nose

When Ernesto, the food and name obsessed badger, becomes orphaned he dreams of travelling after listening to the tales of the birds who fly south for the winter. He befriends Samantha, a hot-tempered young otter, and they board a ship bound for America in search of Ernesto’s distant cousins. It is not long before Ernesto stands on deck waxing lyrical about America as the ship steams under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Ending up in Sydney, they meet Brussels the lost dog and try to find his owner, Mary. The furry party must traverse the states, sneaking onto trains, sharing trailers with menu reading spiders, dealing with emotionally challenged rats and strange dogs used to entertaining on a grand scale or forced to wear lacy bonnets – not to mention their own many and varied food obsessions.

Ultimately our animal heroes find themselves on a collision course with Mary that is entirely unexpected and full of adventure they could never have imagined.

Here’s what our 10-12 year old reviewers thought about Ernesto’s adventure in Follow Your Nose.

Follow Your Nose is an inside look into the travels of a young badger named Ernesto. It is a great book with lots of twists and turns and many interesting characters. It is a real treat for animal lovers to hear exactly what the animals are thinking. This book would interest a young adult or older.” Abbey English

“I enjoyed the story immensely, not wanting to put it down until I was finished. It was very detailed and entertaining, understandable and easy to read. This particular book is about a badger named Ernesto and his new-found friend, Samantha, the otter. And the troubles they faced as they traveled to America in a boat called ‘The biscuits”. It was very detailed and easy to read, but understandable and I think anybody being young or old would love this story.” Caitlin Shore

“I like stories about animals and different countries and so enjoyed Follow Your Nose. There were some funny parts. It made me think about whether animals can really talk to each other. The group of furry friends had such adventures and mishaps throughout the story, but everything worked out OK in the end.” Jack Edwards

victoria wharfe mcintyreAuthor Victoria Wharfe McIntyre (right) has a Bachelor of Professional Writing with a double major in Drama and Cinema Studies. She attended London’s Blake College studying film and video production and trained at the Guildhall in voice and performance. She has a Bachelor of Social Science Award in Psychophonetics and an AdDip in Psychotherapy.

She has written several short films including The Telegram Man staring Jack Thompson Gary Sweet and Sigrid Thornton which was awarded the BAFTA LA for best foreign short, nominated for Best Short in the 2012 AACTAs and has won numerous international and Australian awards.

Follow Your Nose is Victoria’s first novel although she has been writing her entire life, the last five or six years in a professional sense.

Victoria says: “Nature is my greatest inspiration and if I can help reconnect people with the precious, beautiful, healing, wild natural world that surrounds us then I’d be very happy. Follow Your Nose is all about inspiring kids to get out and communicate with a world beyond humanity.”

Her writing process doesn’t involve planning: “ I like to sit down and see what comes out – if I’m surprised and interested in developments hopefully the reader will be too.”

Follow Your Nose is now available in the bookstore as an eBook.

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

30 Jul 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


Adventure, Perilous Journey for 10-12 year olds, reviewed

24 Jul 2014

Perilous Journey by Antoinette ConollyZachary and Mactavish return to Cauchemar to rescue Randy the bear from the robots in Metallicka and to try to bring Marilla back home from Dragonshire to Earth. Their journey is exciting and at times extremely dangerous as they battle wits with wicked magicians, evil robots, mysterious aliens, predatory dragons and even carnivorous dinosaurs. Will they succeed in their quest?

Let’s find out what the writers’ web reviewers thought about Zachary and Mactavish’s perilous journey back to Cauchemar.

“I really enjoyed this book, a lot! As I did the first book of this particular series. This book was about a boy (Zachary) and his ginger cat companion (Mactavish) and how they returned to Cauchemar to rescue Randy the bear from the robots and Marilla from Dragonshire. Their journey was exciting and at times extremely dangerous as they battle wits with wicked magicians, evil robots, mysterious aliens, predatory dragons and even carnivorous dragons.” Caitlin Shore

“This book is a children’s fantasy adventure. The book is the second in the Cauchemar Trilogy. It is set many years after Zachary has come back from the magical land of Cauchemar and he has forgotten his time there, believing it to be a dream. I liked the magical creatures and found some of the characters to be complex and interesting. I especially like Blaze the dragon. I think anyone can enjoy this book, but because of some of the language it would be suitable for children aged 12 – 14 years. Abbey English

Perilous Journey is a fantasy adventure for a middle years target audience of 10-12 year olds. Unfortunately my 10 and 12 year olds had a look at the cover, read a couple of pages, flicked through the chapters and said they were done. I believe my 10 and 12 year old would have loved being hooked on the first page. Instead, when they read about Zachary being ‘tired, bored and hungry’, they both seemed to be ‘tired, bored and hungry’! They also are usually more responsive to books with a larger font and maps or pictures by way of additional information. The ten year old struggled with the language.

I wanted to give a more in-depth review, so here is an adult opinion for you: The lands are interesting and well described. My favourite land this time was Aquatica under the sea, where they used magic to breathe. I enjoyed the variety of mythical and magical creatures, such as the gryphons, dragons and basilisk. Blaze the dragon is still my favourite and I’d love for him to have a bigger part in future stories. Also Esmerelda and Murgatroyd sound interesting, but are only briefly mentioned. I enjoyed the rhyming spells and Mother Meg the Woolly Mammoth too.

I would suggest a bit of refinement in the next edition to engage the younger readers. Some of the words and language used are difficult for this age group, such as: ‘reverie’ ‘supercilious’ ‘lammergeiers’ and ‘zaubernimbus.’ Even I have a little difficulty pronouncing the last one :-) Thank-you for the book and we will donate it to the local library, so others can be introduced to the series.” Kasper Beaumont

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.

Perilous Journey is not available in the bookstore as a hard copy book.  Also available in the Cauchemar trilogy  is book 1, Zachary’s Odyssey  reviewed here  and book 3, Mactavish’s Destiny.  Anoinette’s other book involving time travel,  A Key to Time, is reviewed here.

The First Time… Ashtara ‘Are you a writer?’

22 Jul 2014



Ashtara (left), writers’ web author of  I Am An Experiment – An Extraordinary Spiritual Adventure reflects on her accidental journey toward becoming an author and the courage required to reveal herself…

Did I intend to be a writer? No. Did I intend to become a teacher? No. A mid-life career change involving intense spiritual growth and the learning of astrology, the esoteric sciences and metaphysics led to me being asked to teach these subjects. The weekly lessons I created morphed into eighteen years of regular weekly teaching and four astrology textbooks. My daily meditations became adventures into multi-dimensional space travel and interactions with, and training by, celestial and extra-terrestrial light beings. I recorded the unique experiences in my journal and, years later, was asked to write about them. I appreciate life challenges but this one was big, and a world away from writing educational textbooks.

Writing personal experiences into my Experiment book required a huge leap. This time I was to expose – myself. Take some brave pills, Ashtara, I told myself.

Persisting each evening in sorting through copious hand-written journal notes and typing them on my computer each day, became a way of life. Re-living my extraordinary inter-planetary space travels, and the amazing information I telepathically received, enabled me to appreciate how our brains can be trained to attune to higher frequencies, much like a radio.

I sought the help of Sunshine Coast editor and writer Rose Allen who became engrossed in my story and shifted her perspective on life because of it. We worked well together and I’m grateful for her expertise, encouragement and support.

Self-publishing seemed the best approach and Andy McDermott from www.publicious.com provided the support I needed. I created in my mind the fabulous cover and had it graphically designed.

And now I’m working on a sequel, The Magdalen Codes, having been asked by my readers to do so. My confidence level has skyrocketed because of the amazing reception to my book and the fear of ridicule has gone. Looks like I’ve become a memoir writer. I wonder what else is around the corner?


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