Great reviews for It’s Hard: A Realistic View of Becoming a Mother

18 Apr 2014

Its HardDo you know how hard it is to be a mother? It’s hard!

Author Krista Becker gives a brutally honest account of how she found the whole experience . The aim is to empower other mothers – to make them realise that they are not a failure if they admit that “It’s Hard.” This is the author’s journey into the world of motherhood – during pregnancy and through the trials and tribulations of the first three months with a newborn. The story extends into the experiences of becoming a second-time mother and all that it entails.

Most of the writer’s web reviewers are mothers and had could relate to what Krista wrote about, recommending this memoir to mothers-to-be.

“I found this book a delightfully frank expose of the vicissitudes of beginning motherhood. This book could be an essential guide for first-time pregnant women. In fact, I wanted to send it on to my god-daughter at once! There is nothing like a first-hand account from someone at the coal face to dispel any doubts about the facts of the matter! This is exactly what Krista’s book does, right down to pre-and post-birth sex life. Very refreshing. Jane Grieve

“In a world where we are bombarded with how to do this and that, Krista reminds us that each person’s experience is unique and cannot be compared to another. This is a book not just for the expectant mother, but also the expectant father and all those surrounding them. The timing at which I read this book, being 7 weeks pregnant, made it even more realistic for me. The easy tone and straight forward manner in which this true life account of one person’s experience is told, makes this book very enjoyable and at only 137 pages long, it is the right length for any expectant mother who finds it difficult to stay awake and focused for extended periods of time.” Regina Staier

“What sets the book apart from other informational texts on this subject is the author’s willingness to admit that pregnancy and motherhood for her was filled with self doubt and guilt. She describes a very different picture than those often seen in the media. But Krista supports a flexible approach to pregnancy and motherhood, dealing with the life changing event as an individual, without fearing or bowing to the judgement of others. It is refreshing to read the bare and often unflattering facts of pregnancy and childbirth written with humour as the author recounts her experiences through the births of her two children. Some may not appreciate this frank admittance that motherhood is not all that it is cracked up to be!” Debi Benstead

“I really enjoyed this book and could very much relate to some of her feelings and thoughts. She gives some wonderful ideas and advice to new mothers about how you are expected to behave and what it is really like. I think it is a wonderful read for new mothers as it really is a realistic view of motherhood.” Linda English

She gives us her viewpoint from her first pregnancy into motherhood and on further with an account of the delivery and changing dynamics of her family, after the arrival of baby number two. This book is not for the faint of heart. It does not paint a pretty picture and does put quite a negative spin on some of the writers own experiences. So with that in mind, I would say read this book and take from it what is useful to you and don’t fret about the finer details. The plus side is that it does have some embedded humour and Krista ends on a very positive point that it’s not all bad, because she is expecting baby number three!” Diane O’Nions

“I read this out of curiosity to see how a young writer handled the self-assigned task of revealing all for the purpose of hopefully making a mammoth experience a little easier for those who have yet to embark on this journey. Krista’s objective is admirable. The execution, I felt, left a bit to be desired. The book needs a strong edit. I am sure there are women out there who would benefit from reading the book and would appreciate the effort Krista has invested to ”tell it like it is”. Again, congratulations Krista. Your honesty is refreshing.” Lorraine Cobcroft

KristaBeckerAuthor Krista Becker (right) lives in Central Queensland on a cattle property with her husband and three children. It’s Hard is her first book which she started in 2009 and completed in 2013.

Krista says: “When I had my first daughter, I struggled to breastfeed and, once I had conquered it, my mother-in-law said I should write a book about my experiences. I want to tell my story so that other mothers will feel empowered and be able to admit that motherhood is hard and we are not all perfect.”

When she’s not writing, Krista is a part-time support teacher and mother who also helps run their family farm business.

Memoir It’s Hard: A Realistic View of Becoming a Mother is now in the bookstore as a PDF eBook.


We get Nick Earls’ thumbs up

13 Apr 2014

nickearls2013-5Although it’s been many years since he was an emerging writer, beloved Brisbane writer, Nick Earls remembers what it’s like when there’s lots of writing and not much reading of it.

Nick has very kindly given Write Around Queensland his stamp of approval, saying;

“Write Around Queensland is a new way for emerging Queensland writers to let us all know they’re here, and to let their work find readers. But it offers more than that. It’s also a chance to be edited – perhaps to try out that part of the job for the first time. It’s a chance to develop as a writer and a valuable added line on a writing CV, as well as a new opportunity to do what all writers want to do: connect.”

Write Around Queensland is about the state’s raw talent. We’re looking for a 1,000-word submission from each of the estimated 100 writers groups around Queensland.

We don’t care where you live, what genre you write or how old you are. What we do care about is that you belong to one of the incredibly useful and supportive writers groups across the state and are either unpublished or self-published but not tradtionally published as defined by the Queensland Writers Centre here.

Submissions close 20 June and are strictly limited to 100.

For more information, pop over here.


Why do we tell stories?

08 Apr 2014

(I have been heavily by the definitive work of Christopher Booker in his book ‘The Seven Basic Plots; Why we tell stories’.  It is a work thirty years in the making and it appeals to me because of the connections he makes and the conclusions he draws.   I should say right now – what follows is really my interpretation of his work!)

So we begin at the beginning!

Forever and a day, we have borrowed knowledge from those who have gone before us, making another incremental nudge forward in our cultural development.  This knowledge was originally shared in aural form when the elders gathered the younger members of their tribe and explained the social mores, the implications of the impacts of the seasons, how they all needed to work together to hunt and gather food.  These stories provided a framework for their society.  These stories also explained the origins of life, the perils of an ego and acting individually against what was good for the group.

This is what makes us differ from any other species in the animal kingdom.  The ability to make choices about the world around us as opposed to other creatures who instinctively structure their societies in order to serve the species.   We do share the instinct of survival, which is internal and reconciling these two ‘needs’ – looking after ones self AND doing so in a community or a group, is what we strive for.  The story-tellers are those who have made sense of this chaos!

Now, in a contemporary sense, stories are shared in a visual form as well, in books, plays and movies.  What is fascinating, it the same plots deliver the same message as that of our ancestors, providing guidelines for making sense of the disruptions caused by individuals making their own choices!

  1. Overcoming the Monster which deals with good and bad;
  2. Rags to Riches which teaches us the process of maturation;
  3. The Quest which is the journey to find a treasure and this drives us as adults;
  4. The Voyage and Return as we discover the strengths within ourselves and with working with those around us who compliment our character;
  5. Rebirth, where as adults, we deal with the impact of our ego on our wider community and ourselves;
  6. The Tragedy is an exploration of what goes wrong if the individual doesn’t fit back into the framework which allows us to live harmoniously.
  7. And finally, Comedy is the only plot that has evolved and in its current form it demonstrates what is right and wrong, using a ‘tangle’ of circumstances, becoming unbearable until it ‘pops’ and order is restored.

To quote Booker… “This is why those first properly-formed stories which make sense to us as a child tend to show a little hero or heroine, much like ourselves, venturing out into a mysterious outside world, such as a great forest, where they encounter some terrifying dark figure: a witch, a giant, a wolf or some other monster.  The purpose of this is to introduce the child to a personification of that dark power of egotism which it must learn to recognize as its most deadly enemy.”

Whilst each plot can refer to a whole journey of a lifetime, so to do they ‘unfurl’ in a chronological order which is timely as we reach each different stage in our lives.  We begin at home and we need to learn first how to conduct ourselves and about the evils of the ego (overcoming the monster) and then manage adolescent (rags to riches) before we venture out into the world to find ourselves and then to find a mate (the quest).  We have to learn how we impact upon others and how to reach a state of connection between our instincts and the broader community (voyage and return) all the while needing to understand that if we cede to the disarray caused by ego, the outcome will be dire (tragedy) but if we conquer them (rebirth) all will be well.

The final word to Booker… ‘The ‘knowledge’ of all this is so deeply imprinted into the human psyche that it unconsciously lies at the heart of storytelling.  We cannot imagine stories in any other way.”

Historical fiction Master of Illusion reviewed

05 Apr 2014


Cover Master of Illusion Book One by Anne Rouen

Childhood comrades Angel and Elise run hand in hand from a history of treachery, heartache and crippling abuse. Under the mask of exceptional talent and in the name of justice, they each grapple with their own damaged version of love and loyalty, while fiercely protecting their terrible secrets. Can they fulfil their childhood dreams without blood on their hands?

Our reviewers found shades of Phantom of the Opera in this historical fiction describing it as “a good read” and “outstandingly well-crafted work and a great pleasure to read.”

“I was pleasantly surprised by this work. It started slowly and I had to compel myself to continue reading, but after the first few chapters I could not put it down. The voice was authentic and consistent. The characters came to life and elicited great empathy. The story was rich and well-paced, with plenty of conflict. There was just enough description, and what was provided was satisfactorily in line with the period and setting. The author demonstrates impressive professionalism as well as talent.

I particularly enjoyed the touches of what I refer to as ”word magic” -”tension feathered along her spine”, “his laboured voice took on a silkily menacing tone”; and the brilliantly done comparative descriptions of the two conductors. Overall, I found this an outstandingly well-crafted work and a great pleasure to read. I congratulate the author.” Lorraine Cobcroft

“Set in Paris in the late 19th Century, a beautiful story of love, adoration, hate and murder. This book read very similar to The Phantom of the Opera. It was nevertheless beautifully written with likeable characters and natural dialogue that was spiced with French phrases.  There was not an adequate conclusion, just a lot of loose ends and unanswered questions. I realise that this is book number one and there is another to follow.” Coral Nichols

“…is a dense novel that does well to keep reader’s interested by using a number of different narrative devices. The book is well suited to a female young-adult, adult audience as it is full of romance and charming men and suits a long Sunday evening where you have nothing to do but get lost in the Victorian-Parisian life of Elise and those surrounding her life.” Regina Staier

“Their’s is a story of good and evil, triumph and tragedy. Of the destruction of innocence and the struggle to define justice with similarities to both Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera. The reader is easily transported to this time in Paris and Rouen uses descriptive language and the insertion of French words and phrases to support the setting. The characters are complex and the plot is well-developed, if a little predictable. Readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book.” Debi Benstead

“This is a good read. Written with great skill and compassion the author has woven a compelling story that kept me enthralled to the conclusion. I particularly enjoyed the complex and powerful character, Angel, and how he overcame his disfigurement to become a strong and devious character. 19th Century France was a fascinating and intriguing time and the author has captured that to perfection. This is a book for all lovers of history and romance with a very touching and dramatic finale.” Pete Loveday

“As I am an absolute fan of “Phantom of the Opera”, often playing the movie and the music over and over, I could see the parallels running along. At first, I had some difficulty about this, wondering about copyright. It felt as if I had experienced this all before. The story then turned into one that stands on its own when the leading character of Elise is raped.

I loved the way the French language is used and how the dialogue is set out with many instances of italics to highlight the story. So many scenes were enhanced by beautiful word pictures such as, “fingers of bright afternoon sunshine played over the rippling muscles of the Akhal-teke horses”. Characters were vividly painted and easily came to life on the page.” Judith Flitcroft

Anne-RouenAnne Rouen is the alter ego of Lynn Newberry: a country woman from the New South Wales New England region, who breeds Brangus cattle by day and is a dedicated, passionate horsewoman. Throughout her career, Lynn has escaped the everyday demands of work through the hand of Anne Rouen with Master of Illusion being her first published novel. Lyn has a specialist teaching degree in the Rural Sciences department of the University of New England, and has spent most of her life involved in the agricultural industry—twenty of them as an educator.

Anne had recently completed the sequel to her first novel, Master of Illusion 2.

Master of Illusion is available is now available in the writer’s web bookstore as a PDF eBook.


3 AWESOME ways to start your own picture book!

01 Apr 2014

You started the day with a coffee and a yawn and then found a spring in your step.  There was nothing planned for the day – perfect opportunity to deal with one of those agenda items on your bucket list – write a book, a children’s picture book no less!  You had a great idea years ago that keeps nagging at you and it is time to put it to rest – but doing something about it!

The good news – it is perfectly doable.  If you need a little motivation, try these by way of ‘warming up’.

1. Start a collection of images ‘just because’.  When you sees a particular image in a magazine / on the internet / in photos you have taken (wherever!) that you like, simply add it to the collection.  The idea of collecting images in this way is inherently powerful because:

  • It allows you to create a visual diary for reference as you develop your own illustrations;
  • You have at hand a collection of images you already have an attachment to and feel safe with, which means if were to do a ‘free write’ exercise by way of warming up (that is, pick and image and then simply start writing whatever comes into your head!), then you will already be on the front foot.
  • Gives you a sense of purpose.  Collecting with the directive of sourcing from the internet / magazines from op shops / photos you have taken… means you can source images in a way that makes sense to your world.  This is not a task that is reliant on resources or money – rather it is dependent on your ability to work out a means of accessing images which fits your world.  Doctors surgeries usually update theirs monthly or op shops usually can’t give them away.  The real trick of this is to allow TIME.  You can’t rush something like this!  You have to be able to flick through your reference source, effectively allowing it to become a right brain activity where time doesn’t matter and choose something ‘just because’.

2. Now, hunt and gather reference material with purpose!  You may have an idea for a picture book?  Now go and find inspirational images that you may be able to draw upon for the illustrations. Not many of us can draw what is in our minds-eye; rather, we need to construct an image that conveys our thoughts and emotions and intent!  The most amazing example of this was an exhibition I was lucky enough to see in Brisbane ages ago – Graham Base’s original illustrations for The Waterhole.  Base had a collection of photos he had taken himself when he went on a safari in Africa.  They languished in the bottom drawer and when he discovered them, he had an idea.  He ‘builds’ his illustrations using images he draws onto tracing paper.  Once he has all the images assembled, he finalises the illustration by tracing it off using a lightbox and ends up with a finished drawing.  It is layering at its best, using found images, his own photos, reference materials and of course, it all hinges on the page design which is truly his!

3. And finally – write… It can be in the form of stick figures and it could be diagrammatic; it could be a list; it could be a story with potential.  Just let rip.   At this stage, no-one is looking, this is all just for you.

See, easy!



Romance reviewed: A Waltz on the Wild Side

28 Mar 2014

Front Cover A WaltzIn 1955, twenty-four year old David Appleby, fed up with living in the shadow of his gregarious older brother, sets out to assert himself in the post war social scene of working class Ascot Vale. After a dismal start David realizes that if he’s to win any hearts he must brush up on his social skills. He goes along to The Lydia Academy of Ballroom Dancing in Moonee Ponds where he meets Greta, a forthright young woman who draws him into unfamiliar territory.

David has a big argument with his boss and loses his job, but schooldays mate Charlie Poh finds him temporary work with Charlie’s uncle, Mr. Cheng, a Chinese café proprietor.

David is a passive traveller on a treacherous journey. In love with Greta and uncomfortably involved in Charlie’s bizarre lifestyle, he seeks help from a number of disparate sources – his family, his new boss, his mate Frank, a South Melbourne brothel, an Anglican priest and his learned and devout neighbour, Auntie Han.

The writers’ web reviews related to this  nostalgic look at Australian life in the 1950s.

“Set in the 1950′s, this book deals with the coming of age of David Appleby , a young man making his way in Post War Australia. Employment, first love, friendship and family, class differences, racial differences are all interwoven throughout the fabric of this captivating tale. I enjoyed this book very much and would have liked to have read more. I am hoping there will be a sequel! Definitely worth reading and enjoying!” Diana Harley

“What a good read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It provoked memories of my teenage years which made it easy to relate with the protagonist as well as the other characters in this book. The characters were all strong and believable and their personalities complimented each other.

The dialogue was natural and flowed well, very appropriate to the late 1950′s. The writer obviously knows his craft well and it shows, along with the research that must have gone into this story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written, interesting book.” Coral Nichols

“What a refreshing change to see the fifties through a bloke’s eyes. I grew up in the fifties as a female and that is why it is so intriguing now to read about the fifties through your eyes, Jack.  I just loved your ripping yarn. The intriguing opening chapter hung in the air until later on into the story, when it slotted into the yarn so beautifully and made perfect sense.

Your exploration of human sexuality and morals was done with great taste and humanism. You pointed out so succinctly that people need to dance to the right tune to slot into their proper place in society.

Character descriptions were brilliant – eg. “a wisp of a woman”, or “smiled timidly and retreated into her shadow”. Situations and conversations drew me into the scene – eg. “conversation wobbled along like a clown on a tightrope”. The style of writing was all-encompassing. Congratulations on an extremely thoughtful read, perfectly edited with nostalgia full on!” Judith Flitcroft

Jack-Davis-Headshot--150x84Author, Jack Davis (right) has been writing for  about 30 years and is inspired by his  interest in people and how they react to other people, time and place. Of his writing process, Jack says, “ I first create my characters and then drop them into a particular time and place (eg, the northern suburbs of Melbourne in the mid 1950s) I then juggle these 3 elements into a workable plot.

Jack reads fiction for pleasure and relaxation, non-fiction for information, and, when not writing he does “all the things husbands, fathers and grandfathers are expected to do. When I’m not writing I like to do something with my hands – make models of buildings and cars etc and paint a bit.”

A Waltz on the Wild Side is now available in the bookstore as a hardcopy book.

The First Time… Jane Grieve ‘Book published and dreams dashed!’

21 Mar 2014

Guest blogger and writers’ web author (and reviewer), Jane Grieve shares her somewhat surprisingly disappointing experience of seeing her first book in print:

Slippin on Lino Front CoverThe first time I saw my first book, Slippin’ on the Lino, which was the answer to my lifelong dream of being a published author albeit a self-published one, a huge wash of disappointment swamped me.

There it was! Being held out to me by my dear friend Heath, who had kindly offered to help me sell it through his chain of stores. I couldn’t take it from his hand. It looked so small and inconsequential; suddenly the cover looked silly. When I took it eventually and flicked through it, the print I had so carefully selected looked silly and the recycled paper looked silly and everything about it looked silly. I wanted to cry.

In fact it was and still is a beautiful little book. It’s beautifully set out, has a fabulous cover, is professionally edited and carefully crafted in every way. Yet my response to meeting it for the first time, after all the huge effort of its creation, was to shrink away from it.

Thank goodness I didn’t have that reaction to each of my babies!

I grew to love it though and to be immensely proud of it. Such a vast amount of effort had gone into its creation! Months of planning, finding an editor through the Queensland Writers’ Centre and driving 30,000 km between Warwick and Brisbane over a period of 5 months or so, to work with him on perfecting the stories (I have a horror of poorly-edited self-published books); finding a graphic artist to produce the cover and the layout and the small illustrations I wanted; deciding on a printer; deciding on the typeface; deciding on the paper for the book (note to aspiring self-publishers – white paper is a dead giveaway for self-publishing!).

Then there was the negotiating with the printer (I wanted Australian, and I chose the printers who had produced the most popular authors at the time – Tim Winton comes to mind. I noticed that Griffin Press had printed all the current bestsellers, and I also learned not to use white paper). I had to decide how many to print, and discovered that it’s hugely cheaper exponentially the more you have printed.

Of course, once the book was in my hands I then had to market it. The birth had followed a normal human gestation time, and the rest required an equal amount of effort. But at least I had full nights’ sleep!

Jane_Grieve_-book-small_jpg-150x193Part of the process included setting up a website. I was more than amply bossed and organised by my group of budding artist friends as we all jostled and shared our way to the art show for Brisbane Ekka week which was to be our launching pad for our various artistic pursuits – and is now an annual event under the name of 9 ante portas. My website opened up a new world for me, new people and new opportunities which subsequently led to my being found by Allen & Unwin who published my second book In Stockmen’s Footsteps last year.

I was so glad that I had self-published my first book. Through that process I had the full apprenticeship of the publishing process. And I also learned not to resent the large slice of the profit that the publisher takes when they publish a book for a writer. Believe me, they earn it!


Moving memoir Mary’s Ramblings reviewed

17 Mar 2014

Marys-RamblingsMary’s Ramblings is a story written with honesty, depth of soul and humour. It begins from the safe streets of suburban Sydney, in Post WW2 years. When kids played in billycarts on the streets, neighbours chattered over fences and front doors were left open all night.

The story sweeps along on the journey into Religious Life and then changes course to being a young wife and mother in outback New South Wales. It tells of the beauty, fun and hardship of living in an isolated part of the country. It speaks of the glorious sunsets and the terror of flood and drought.

It narrates the tragic loss of two sons and a baby grandson and tells the story of the grief journey through the eyes and heart of a mother. It offers encouragement and hope.

The writers’ web reviewers were unanimously touched by Mary’s evocative story:

“This book has been written in the form of memoirs starting from when Mary was a small child and then gently takes us through her teen years, marriage, children, and then becoming a grandparent.

It stirred up so many childhood memories for me as I read these stories. Mary writes with humour and love not only for her family but also for her religious beliefs. She shares the good times and also the sad times when she tells of the loss of family members.

It’s obvious Mary knows her craft as this is so well written and easy to read. Thank you for sharing your life with me.” Coral Nichols

“This work is a memoir of the author, Mary Pearce. A delightful read – my only wish is that there was more of it! Written in small chapters of one to a few pages each, Mary tells us about her  very full and interesting life, filled with both love and loss. She knows about grief and sadness and in simple yet skilful writing, tells her stories and her experiences to her readers in a powerful way.

Mary’s deep faith and enduring marriage form the backbone of her inspiring life. She tells funny stories about her children, powerful stories about love and endearing stories about family and community. Mary gives us an insight into history and the role of women in society, particularly in the Australian rural community. Mary has said she has put her story on paper mainly for her grandchildren. What a wonderful legacy she has left for them and for those of us fortunate to read her ramblings! A great read!. ” Diana Harley

“Mary Bridget Pearce, I feel I know you as a sister does after reading your “Ramblings”. Your story flows and is easy to read, much as a series of letters to a family member.

Your “Ramblings” brought back so many memories of a simpler life as I am of your “vintage”. Our generation well remembers “cracker night” and having to entertain ourselves by putting on “events” such as a bush dance.

So many of us have lived parallel lives, raising families, coping with the death of a child, and suffering post natal depression and not knowing what on earth was wrong with you. It would have been good to have a “time warp” and live through such tragedies together, as young mums do these days through social media.

I hope your story is read by many others. Thank you for pen to paper, or rather fingers to the computer. As I read, I felt I was a family member, and you were taking me into your confidence – the old-fashioned way of letter writing. I was touched by your story and it will stay in my heart forever. Judith Flitcroft

Mary Pearce Head ShotAuthor Mary Pearce (right) was inspired to share her story. Mary’s Ramblings is her first book, about the courage and faith of a young mother as she comes to terms with the tragedy of burying two sons and a grandson. It tells of the challenges and isolation of living in an isolated part of the country. However, despite this it is intermingled with humour a positive attitude and an authentic experience of life.

Mary says, “I wanted to share my experience of grief and survival in the hope that it may help my fellow man. I also have a love of reading, sharing stories and language. I have a great respect for the written word and an awareness of the impact it can have on a person’s life. My husband suggests that it is my innate sense of being an entertainer that inspires me to write. I am inspired to write because writing is important; it records history, imparts knowledge and information, provides communication and entertains.”

Mary’s Ramblings is now available in the bookstore as a PDF eBook and a hardcopy book.


7 tips to help understand the magic of picture books

12 Mar 2014

The advantage of research as you plan on embarking on the creation of a picture book cannot be underestimated.

At every writer’s group, writers’ festival, author talk – the one bit of advice established authors share with aspiring authors is simply ‘know your stuff’.  This of course, refers to knowing what it is that makes a children’s picture book magical and memorable.

There are many ways to immerse yourself in picture books to begin this process and they include:

1. Go to a school library and ask the librarian for a ‘tour’ of their latest acquisitions.  Ask them ‘why’ did they purchase the books they purchased!  Librarians have the most amazing ability to make the connection between books of literary merit, what is commercially sensible from a budgeting point-of-view and what is culturally appropriate to their community.  They are amazing barometers of what is important to the broader public and even better – can actually articulate why!

2. Go to your local bookshop and when you pick up a book to look at – try and ask yourself ‘why’ did I choose that book… Did I like the cover?  Did I like the title?  Did I like the subject? When I read the ‘blurb’ at the back, did I want to read more?

3. Go to the local library and look on the ‘new’ bookshelf for the latest acquisitions.  This means these are the books recently acquired by the librarians and likely to receive support in reading sessions and shelf promotion.  It is a great way to see the ‘flavour’ of books right now.  I noticed in the CBCA lists (Children’s Book Council Australia) that there was a leaning towards books which explored ethnicity and diversity this year…

4. Choose your favourite book.  Volunteer at the local kindergarten and read it aloud to a group of children.  Have a discussion about the book.  Ask…

  • Did they like the way the book ‘sounded’ (was it melodic / rhythmic / did it make them sleepy / relaxed / excited?)
  • Did they like the way the book ‘looked’ (were the illustrations colourful / engaging / flat and dull?)
  • Did they understand the ‘emotional intent’ of the illustrator – that is, did the colours convey anger / sadness / happiness.
  • (One of my favourite books, ‘The Dot’ by Peter Reynolds is masterful with its use of colour, exploration of a simple concept which is our self esteem, and I read it to every class starting Child Writes because it is about their journey as much as the character, Vashti!  If we don’t share and show our work, we never grow!)

5. Spend some time drifting around the publishers lists or indie’s like the Child Writes Library, looking at the work of those who have gone before you… By looking through the previews in the bookstore, you get an idea of what children enjoy writing about.  Plus, look at story corner where there is always a full book to read.

6. Alternatively – spend a morning cruising around the internet reading parents forums to see what topics parents are passionate about!  Chances are, that if you solve a dilemma, your book with prove to be more marketable and hopefully more saleable!

7. Practice story writing using on-line tools like Storybird is a low risk experience with writing.  It is important to know that in Australia copyright is automatically assumed to belong to the author UNLESS you hand over the rights… Please read  When you agree to the terms and conditions, an author assigns the rights to their work to StoryBird.  This means StoryBird can then use the story anyway they wish, without further consultation required with the author.

Regardless of what you do, just make sure you do something!  Oh, and the other thing, enjoy it :)

x Emma


“Inspiring” African Hearts reviewed

08 Mar 2014

African Hearts CoverOn a romance scale, I’d rate it as ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (a very high) for it’s lingering touches with heat and anticipation – high praise indeed for African Hearts.

Leaving her business in Australia, Gina travels to Africa to answer the summons of Dr. Kam Bonsu. Reaching the African village where her brother used to live, Gina is shocked to hear her brother has died and left his son to her care. Gina can never be responsible for another after a child in her care died. Her nephew Justin doesn’t want to come to Australia but she can’t leave her only living relative living in Africa. To complicate matters, there’s attraction simmering between Kam and Gina. They’re of such different cultures is there any hope?

What did our writers’ web reviewers think about African Hearts?

“A story of conflict, love and joy, of overcoming prejudice and of race and religion. Set in Uganda, Africa. Gina a trained nurse, who left her calling to run her parents business in Australia after their death, is summoned to Africa because her brother is very ill. On arriving at the village of Gumboli she finds she is too late and that her brother has died and has left behind his small son for Gina to rear. Although she is conflicted at the thought of her, a young unmarried, business woman rearing a child, she comes to love the little boy. Likewise the local Doctor, a black man raised in Africa but educated in Australia, who falls in love with Gina.

This story is well told giving an insight to the problems faced when two different cultures come together. The characters were believable and the dialogue flowed naturally. I would say this book is suitable for adults and young teens, good luck, Laura.” Coral Nichols

“Laura, your story, “African Hearts” is inspirational. I was engaged with your characters, Kam and Gina from the first chapter. and ended your last chapter in tears. I appreciated the spirituality of your story and how you sensitively dealt with the clash of cultures, race and the quest of Gina and Kam to redefine love and a purpose for their lives wrapt in God’s care blanket. The story is further enhanced by the beautiful relationship of the children, Justin and Kizza and their love for the lion “Maucho”. This love reflects all we know of Africa and parallels the life journeys of the children to adulthood. “African Hearts” is beautifully written and perfectly edited. Congratulations Laura on your insight into inter-racial relationships. You gave me insight into how people could change our world.” Judith Flitcroft

“An inspiring story of courage and romance in Africa. I really enjoyed African Hearts and read it within 24 hours. On a romance scale, I’d rate it as ‘Pride & Prejudice’ for it’s lingering touches with heat and anticipation.

The mostly peaceful, but occasionally violent life of Uganda is the perfect backdrop for this gently-told tale of overcoming obstacles and making the most of an economically poor, but emotionally rich lifestyle.

The characters are well-written and have their flaws, but become stronger as they use each other and their faith to realise their true potentials. The young boy Justin is a delightful character, full of childhood innocence and positivity, but also morally wise beyond his tender years. I love his bond with the lion cub, Maucho, as they play together in the grasslands. My favourite line from the story is, ‘Kam’s smile kissed her heart.”

It is not the type of book I would normally read, so I thank writers’ web for sending me a copy to review. It was time well spent. I did think it somewhat reliant on dialogue and sparse with the plot, but sometimes it’s nice to read a gentle and inspirational story that makes you slow down and really think about our world. I enjoyed the writing style and thought it well edited.” Kasper Beaumont Laura OConnell Headshot

Author, Laura O’Connell (pictured right) writes women’s fiction about relationships and second chances in love and life. She has been writing for about 22 years, seventeen of which involved learning the craft of writing while working full-time as an accountant. Her writing is inspired by her life experiences and other writers. Of the writing process, Laura says,”Before I start writing my novel, I prepare a biography for each character. This biography is detailed and includes everything from physical appearance to likes, and dislikes, character strengths and weaknesses, past regrets, future dreams and how they related to their family and how they feel about other characters in the story. By the time I gather all this information, I begin to see conflicts within the characters and with other characters. This sparks the plot and the theme of the story and soon scenes form in my mind. I then write a few short paragraphs about the story and I develop these paragraphs until I have a synopsis. Once I’m happy with the synopsis, I break it down into scenes and chapters. I can’t start writing the first draft until this step is done. Then I write the first draft of the full novel from beginning to end. Occasionally, if a scene is very strong in my mind I might write than out of chronological order so that I get it down while it’s fresh in my mind.

African Hearts  is now available in the bookstore as a PDF eBook for $3.99 or a hard copy book for $19.99.

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