Category Archives: Biography

Can’t Wait to Meet You

With less than two weeks until I’m due to give birth and less than two weeks until my eldest child starts school, my mind has been thinking of little else than getting organised for both these momentous events. It is little wonder I have been unable to think of something to blog about this week!

Thanks to the wonderful support and suggestions of the 12 x 12 challenge Facebook group, I’ve decided to allow myself a little creative time today to write a poem to share. As a teenager I used to write poetry all the time to get out my feelings onto paper; sadly, it’s something I don’t really do anymore. I’ve written this poem as a set of haikus.

 

Can’t Wait to Meet You

Every time I hear

Your heartbeat I’m filled with joy

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

Knowing you’re growing

Preparing to greet the world

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

God has plans for you

You were always meant to be

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

Next week (providing I’m not in hospital with a new arrival) I will post my monthly helpful writing posts round-up and after that I have a few guest posts lined up to help me through those early weeks with a newborn, but if my blog is a bit quieter over the next few months, you’ll know why. For now, I’m off to contact school books and label uniforms.

The Publisher Checklist

One of my resolutions/goals this year is to submit more. I was fully prepared to submit some of my stories last year and had everything ready to go. I had several polished stories and a checklist of publishers for each. Hesitation and procrastination held me back. I should have been sending more out as soon as I got replies back, but I hummed and hawed over whether the stories were really good enough and whether they needed more work before sending on to the next. I had a good year in 2011, though. My success rate for submissions in terms of short stories/competitions was nearly 50%. I should have submitted more! I also got positive feedback from publishers on some of my children’s stories, which should have encouraged me. So this year I’m resolved to submit more–especially in terms of my children’s stories.

The Publisher Checklist

When submitting, it’s vital to keep track of what is being sent to whom. That’s why I keep a publisher checklist as a spreadsheet in Excel. I want to share that with you, in case anyone else finds it helpful. Of course, it can be applied just as readily to agents if you happen to be submitting to agents.

– Name of publisher (or agency). Those highlighted in red are those who are currently closed to submissions. It’s a good idea to check back every now and then, though, as sometimes they reopen for short periods of time. Those highlighted in yellow are those to whom I have submitted and am waiting to hear back from (I haven’t started submitting this particular story yet). Those highlighted in blue are the ones I have heard back from.

– Contact name. Most publishers request for you to address the submission ‘to the editor’ or something along those lines, but for those who have a specific contact name I add them to the list. This is especially important if you are submitting to agents, as agents would prefer you address them by name rather than ‘dear agent’.

– Contact details. This is where I list their postal address and/or e-mail (depending on how they prefer you to submit). I also list their phone number.

– Query done? A simple yes or no here. As you can see, I’ve only written our a query/cover letter for Scholastic for this story at the time of this post. I usually write a generic query/cover letter for each story that’s ready to submit, then I copy it into a new Word document and tailor it to suit each individual publisher, keeping their individual guidelines in mind.

– E-mail/Post? Some publishers prefer submission by post, others by e-mail. It’s important to note this down as it will determine how you format your query/cover letter. (For example: a postal letter requires contact details at the top of the letter, whereas an e-mail requires them at the bottom.)

– Simultaneous submission? Here I note if a publisher specifically states they are not open to simultaneous submission (they will not accept submissions that have also been subbed elsewhere–it has to be exclusive). I also mark the box red so I don’t accidentally send to them when I’ve subbed to other publishers.

– Reread submission guidelines? Here I paste a link directly to the submission guidelines. I won’t send out my query/cover letter until I’ve marked this box with a green YES.

– Stamped self-addressed envelope? For those who require postal submission, a SSAE is required if you wish to receive a reply and your manuscript back (in the case of a rejection). This gets a tick when done.

– Sent? Once the submission had been sent this box gets a tick (plus the publisher gets highlighted in yellow).

– Date sent. So I can keep track of how long it’s been out on submission.

Expected wait time. This is how long they estimate it will take for you to receive a reply. Once I’ve sent the submission, I make note of what date I should expect to hear back from them.

– Reply received? Once I receive a reply, I note the date and whether it was a rejection or not. For a rejection I highlight this box red. For requested edits it gets highlighted yellow. And if it gets accepted: green.

– I then have subheadings for stages of edits if they have been requested (eg: edits requested, date edits sent).

It’s important to regularly recheck details and update the list. Addresses and contacts can change. Some publishers are only open at certain times or close down submissions if they don’t have room for anything new.

How do you keep track of your submissions? Do you keep some kind of checklist?

 

The Flower Show Fiasco

I’m very excited today to have my rhyming children’s story ‘The Flower Show Fiasco’ published in the online magazine Australian Women Online.

When I decided to try submitting to Australian Women Online’s ‘Bedtime Stories’ section and saw the theme was flowers this month my initial thought was to write something about fairies in the garden, but then I got this idea for a disastrous flower show (which I think in part was inspired by a Hairy Maclarey book my children have about a disastrous pet show).

I love writing for children and for me many of my children’s stories naturally flow onto the page as rhyming stories. Which isn’t to say rhyme isn’t difficult to write as it needs to be perfect not only in rhyme, but in meter and rhythm as well. When you write in rhyme you gain a whole new respect for authors who do it so well, like Mem Fox, Graeme Base and Lynley Dodd. It takes a lot of work to make it flow naturally off the tongue.

It was a lot of fun to write, especially thinking up all the different flowers I could include in the story. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It is completely free to read on the Australian Women Online website (under Bedtime Stories) and is also printable if you would like to print it up for your child to keep.

Photo: Tania McCartney

What’s Scarier Than Halloween? The Day Before NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo Diary – NaNoWriMo Eve

For some people the 31st of October represents dressing up in spooky costumes, getting a sugar rush and maybe watching some scary movies. For me the 31st of October means one thing: NaNoWriMo Eve. And yes, it’s just a little bit scary. I have a big task in front of me to write 50000 words in 30 days. How in the world am I going to fit in my word count around my daily life? What if I get stuck half way through the month and don’t know what to write? What have I signed myself up for?!

To help make the prospect of NaNoWriMo a bit less scary, I’ve been trying to get organised. So far I have:

Written an outline with a basic plot arc so hopefully I won’t get stuck not knowing where the story is going. It’s like my road map for November.

– Got a reasonable supply of chocolate in the house. I can’t write without chocolate!

Got my NaNoWriMo profile up on the NaNoWriMo site to record my progress throughout the month. I just have to remember to keep updating it as I completely forgot last year (I remembered half way through the month, it ended up looking like I hadn’t written a thing for the first 15 days and then wrote something like 25,000 in one day).

I still have stuff to get organised today! Still to do:

Clean entire house so I can feel a bit more relaxed about getting writing done in those first few days and not have to worry so much about housework.

Stock up on Coke and more chocolate today when I go shopping. Coke is the only form of caffeine I drink and I’m sure I’ll be needing it. Should probably also stock up on food for the rest of the family. I need to plan what meals I will be cooking for the week so I’m prepared.

Make sure business paperwork is up to date.

Write up brief character bios for main characters. I actually have very clear ideas of my characters already, especially in terms of personality, but writing down some key points about them will help me stay consistent (eg: eye colour, family)

Make sure I have a notepad and pen to carry around in my handbag during November.

I’m not sure what the 1st of November will be like for me as a writing day. In Australia it will be Melbourne Cup day, although since I’m such a reclusive writer I have nothing planned anyway, so unless we get visitors it shouldn’t be much different to any normal day (except to sit down and watch the cup).

Are you prepared for NaNoWriMo? What are you doing to get ready?

(P.S. This is officially my 100th post on this blog! What better way to celebrate than to kick off my NaNoWriMo diary.)

From Song to Story (Part Two): The Vampire’s Curse

I’m hoping you’ve now had a chance to read my story for FREE on the Literary Mix Tapes website. If not, it’s still up until 11pm AEST (that’s another 14 and a half hours). There will be SPOILERS in this post.

To recap: In Part One I talked about how I was given the song ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row as my inspiration (a song I’d never heard before). I had to combine it with an event from 1989 and include a speculative fiction element to write a 1500 word story. After listening to the song I had an idea to make my main character a vampire.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Now all I had to do was tie my vampire character to an event that happened in 1989. That was tricky. I skimmed Wikipedia’s list of events from that year, but nothing really stood out. At one stage I was tossing up between Tiananmen Square and Ted Bundy. But in the end I went in a completely different direction. Instead of going with a political event, I went with a pop culture reference. There was one thing that really stood out in my memory from the year 1989. It was the movie The Little Mermaid (Hey, give me a break, I was only 7 in 1989!).

A Different Kind of Vampire

The idea behind my vampire evolved from the idea that the last image he saw when he was alive, a movie poster of The Little Mermaid, meant he had a compulsion to feed on girls who resembled the red-haired, waspy-waisted Disney Princess.

I was really quite happy with my draft. I loved my vampire, who I thought was different to any vampires I had read in the past, wasn’t romantic in the least and had ties to a more traditional form of vampire.

A Second Opinion

I sent my draft to several beta readers, made up of writer friends and fellow Eighty Nine authors (one of the great things about being involved in Literary Mix Tapes is how all the writers work in contact with each other and swap stories to critique). I took on board most of their comments and ignored the ones I thought might not work for my story, and started redrafting.

Hold My Breath and Submit

What if Jodi thought my writing wasn’t good enough and sent me an e-mail telling me, ‘Sorry, we won’t be including your story in the anthology’? Thankfully, this was not the case. Jodi loved the idea behind my vampire. Now it was time for the edits.

Pushing My Story to New Limits

Working so closely with an editor (especially one as awesome as Jodi) was such a great experience. I learned a lot and pushed my story into new realms. Every time Jodi sent me back edits and notes it sparked new ideas. It was a long back and forth process, but so worth it.

I Should Have Listened to my Beta Reader (sorry Rachel!) — P.S. SPOILER ALERT (you should really read my story first before you read this section)

One of my beta readers made this note:

I was just wondering whether it might be interesting if the girl at the end was actually his sister – maybe she looks up at him and mentions his name as she dies or something – then he really would feel sentenced to this life.

I didn’t think this would work for my story, I think I had some lame reasoning about the hair colour being too obvious and the fact he’d watched the girl for three days would mean he would have known it was his sister.

Then on Jodi’s first lot of edits, she wrote this note:

What I’d like to see is for you to take this idea and really push the boundaries of it. Rather than him imprint on the Little Mermaid – what if he imprinted on his sister, she doesn’t run away, gripped by fear she stands and watches it all happen? Which would mean he is cursed to walk the earth feeding from girls who look like his sister.

I took the idea and ran with it. The Little Mermaid was scrapped. The focus on 1989 now came from the cultural references, rather than a specific reference. Having the sister as the focus added a new layer of depth to the story.

The Countdown

Once all the stories were finalised, all the authors got sent a pdf copy of the book to proofread, which meant a first peek at the other stories. (It was great seeing everyone’s takes on their songs and the year 1989.)

Then we got our first look at the cover. The girl on the front cover has been affectionately named Amiga after a character from one of the stories in the anthology.

Then the nailbiting wait for my contributor’s copy to arrive in the mail. I was on a rollercoaster ride that whole week. I knew it was due to arrive, so every time I got a parcel pick up notice I got really excited. But every time I made a trip to the post office I was disappointed to find it wasn’t ‘Eighty Nine’. Then one day my husband walked in with a parcel for me and as soon as  saw the envelope I knew it was finally here! Of course I flipped straight to my story and basked in squeefullness (yes, I just made that word up)of my name in print.

Blast Off!

And that leads us to the launch!  Thanks to everyone who has joined in the Facebook event so far (it’s still going, so drop and join in the fun if you haven’t yet).

You can still read stories for FREE. The last one has just gone up and the others will gradually be taken down one by one over the next 24 hours.

You can also still take part in the Amazon chart rush (and take advantage of free shipping to Australia and New Zealand if you order from Amazon UK before 31st October). Or if you buy a copy directly from the Literary Mix Tapes site you get a complimentary ebook to go with it!

To finish, a picture of me getting into the spirit of the launch last night with my copy of Eighty Nine.

From Song to Story: Vampires with an Eighties Twist?

Today marks the launch of the speculative fiction anthology Eighty Nine. To celebrate I want to share the journey of how I took a song from the year 1989 and turned it into a story about a vampire with a compulsion. My story ‘Eighteen for Life’ will be posted HERE to read completely FREE for twenty-four hours starting at 11pm AEST*. (The first stories have already gone live.)

But first, a look at how it all started…

When Opportunity Knocks

When a call went out for authors for a new Literary Mix Tapes anthology I jumped at the chance to be involved. I heard about it through Jodi Cleghorn (who had been the editor on 100 Stories for Queensland). I was impressed by all the hard work Jodi had put into 100 Stories and I was excited by the idea of writing a story based on a song prompt. There were eight places available and I was lucky enough to secure one of the places.

The Idea Behind Eighty Nine

Authors had four main rules they had to follow for their stories:

1. It had to be 1500 words.

2. It had to be tied the year 1989.

3. It had to be inspired by a song from the year 1989 (from a playlist of songs which would be randomly drawn from a hat and assigned to each author).

4. It had to be speculative fiction.

Combining a cultural/political event from 1989 with a speculative element (ie: fantasy, paranormal, science fiction) into a story inspired by a song, all in 1500 words. Piece of cake, right? Hmm, maybe not. I do love a good prompt though, and I knew I would have a lot of fun with this one.

Drawing Songs from a Hat

When I first read through the song list for the anthology I had my fingers crossed for ‘Funky Cold Medina’ as I immediately got a story idea for it. There were also some other really great songs on there I love, like ‘Love Shack’. But when Jodi pulled my song out of the hat I could only say, “Huh?”

I got ‘Eighteen and Life’ by Skid Row and I’d never even heard of the song or the band.

Thank You, YouTube

The YouTube video (click to watch)

I went straight to YouTube so I could listen to the song. My heart sunk even further. Not only was I unfamiliar with the song, it was heavy metal, which I can’t stand. I knew there was a chance one of the other authors might swap songs with me, but I looked up the lyrics and listened to the song a couple more times…

Inspiration!

I got an idea. I decided to use the character Ricky from the song as the main character in my story. There were a couple of lines in the song that I wanted to include as part of his character, but in a different way to what the song meant.

“He had a heart of stone.”

and

“…he fought the world alone”

Bam! I immediately thought of a vampire walking the world on his own in a lonely existence. Ricky would be this vampire. And there was my speculative fiction element.

THE STORY CONTINUES IN PART TWO.

Come Join in the Launch Events!

As I mentioned, stories are being posted FREE for twenty four hours each, with one story going up every hour (the first ones are already up). Mine goes up 25th October at 11pm AEST* and will remain up until 26th October 11pm AEST. Don’t forget to come back here tomorrow after you’ve read it to find out how my idea transformed into the story in its final form.

There will be a Facebook event happening at 5pm AEST** today to celebrate the launch. Please come along as there will be eighties trivia, prizes (including copies of Eighty Nine) and lots of eighties fun. Just by clicking the ‘I’m attending’ button you go in the draw to win a copy of Eighty Nine.

You can also get involved in the Amazon chart rush taking place. This is a good chance for all you Aussies to take advantage of Amazon UK‘s free shipping to Australia offer (which ends on the 31st October). Grab a few other books you’ve been thinking about getting while you’re at it (or maybe some copies of Eighty Nine to put away for Christmas presents; or a copy or two of 100 Stories for Queensland to continue to help with flood relief).

Me & 1989

As part of the launch celebrations, here is a photo of seven-year-old me from 1989:

I haven’t changed a bit 🙂

Because I know time zones suck:

*11pm 25 Oct AEST = 12pm 26 Oct AEDST(Victoria); 9am 25 Oct EDT(New York); 6am 25 Oct PDT(California); 1pm 25 Oct GMT

** 5pm 25 Oct AEST = 6pm 25 Oct AEDST; 3am 25 Oct EDT; 12am 25 Oct PDT; 7am 25 Oct GMT

Finding Time to Write: 3 Tips for Writing with Kids

With the goal of writing fifty thousand words in a month for NaNoWriMo next month, I’ve had a lot of people say things like, “I’d love to do NaNoWriMo, but I just wouldn’t have the time” or “How do you find the time to write?” But I think one of the best things I ever learned from doing NaNoWriMo for the first time was that the time is there, you just have to learn to find it and use it effectively.

The first year I did NaNoWriMo I had a VERY active nearly-three-year-old boy who had grown out of naps, an eight month old baby AND I was teaching part time. No, I didn’t write fifty thousand words that November, but I did write twenty-five thousand. The days I taught were usually zero word count days, as by the time I got home from teaching, cooked dinner, organised kids for bed, etc. I was just plain worn out. But I was proud of my twenty five thousand words — it was twenty five thousand more words than I had at the start of the month, and by January I had finished writing the first draft. PLUS I learned A LOT about managing my writing time effectively.

Currently I’m a busy mum of two (and one on the way) running between preschool, swimming lessons, playgroup, grocery shopping, etc. On top of that, although I’m not currently teaching, I’m helping my husband run a dairy farm by doing all the paperwork. Plus I do all the cooking, cleaning, washing, etc. BUT I still get writing done.

How do I find time to write?

Easy answer: Have you seen my house? It’s not going to win any prizes for neatness. I do have to balance it though. So here are three of the ways I make time.

1. Write after the kids go to bed at night.

My kids go to bed at around 7pm every night, so once they’re in bed it’s a good time to get some writing done (depending how tiring the day has been–sometimes I just want to collapse in front of the TV or get lost in a book). I know other mums who get up an extra hour early before their kids get up to get some writing time in. This doesn’t work for me because 1. My kids are early risers (ie: 6am) and 2. I am so not a morning person. Work out what’s best for you: if your kids are late to bed, late to rise, try getting up an hour early to write, or if your kids are like mine, early to bed, early to rise, try doing some writing at night.

2. Write after lunch/at lunch.

This is my second best writing time. My kids tend to have some quiet time around this time of day. When they still had naps, this was usually naptime. Sometimes my youngest still has naps if she’s had a big morning out (like today). As for when they’ve grown out of naps, they still have some quiet time, whether it’s quiet play with their toys in their bedroom/the loungeroom or some downtime watching a Wiggles DVD or ABC for Kids. My oldest loves being outside, so he’ll often go out for a play in the backyard. Sometimes I’ll get my laptop out on the kitchen table and write while we eat lunch. If you’re working, you can always get some writing done on your lunchbreak.

3. Computer placement.

This could mean having your computer in the same room where your kids play, eg: the loungeroom, so you can write while they play. I had this set up at my old house and it worked really well. It’s not possible where I am now as the loungeroom is too small, but I do have it set up so I can see straight into the loungeroom. I also use my laptop so I can sit in the loungeroom/dining room to write. I like to have a view outside since my son loves playing outside and that way I can watch him. Of course, be prepared for distraction. While sometimes my children will play happily for small blocks of time, more often than not they like to climb on my knee and watch me type or ask for something to eat every few minutes. It can be hard to keep any writing momentum going, but I still get little bits and pieces written.

P.S. It’s so tempting to use quiet time to catch up on Facebook/Twitter, read blogs, play games, etc., but you’d be surprised how much writing you can get done by just disconnecting from the internet or using a computer/laptop that doesn’t have internet.

But what about the housework?

1. Do what you can with the kids underfoot, so when they’re not, you can write.

I found it’s easier to do housework with kids distracting me, than trying to write when they’re distracting me. So instead of hanging washing while they nap, I’ll take the kids outside to play and then when they nap, I write. Involve the kids in what you are doing. My kids love passing me clothes to hang on the line, they love standing on chairs at the kitchen bench to watch me prepare dinner (especially if they get to eat pieces of chopped carrot and cauliflower) and they love pretending the vacuum cleaner is a monster chasing them.

2. I’ve now got a whiteboard where I write up what I want to achieve for the day.

I have a section for the farm business, a section for housework, and a section for writing. For example, on the board today I have: FARM – call electricity company, update records for workers’ hours; HOUSEWORK – Do a load of washing, do dishes, fold and put away washing, clean bathroom; WRITING – 300 words (minimum) on short story, blog post. Priority is given to the business, then housework, then writing (though I often slip writing in between my housework). (I still need to clean the bathroom and do my 300 words today.)

3. Have a day off.

Saturday is my self-designated day off housework. I’ll load the dishwasher and make breakfast and lunch, but that’s about it. I don’t even cook dinner on Saturday, that’s our takeaway night. It’s a quiet cruisy day, and often perfect for catching up on some writing.

Like I said, my house isn’t going to win a prize for neatness, so I’d love to hear any other tips you have for staying on top of the housework.

What do you do to find time to write?

How do you balance work, writing, housework, being a mum?

2nd Blogiversary: The Highs and Lows of the Past Year

Wow, what a year!

This time last year I was celebrating the very first blogiversary of this blog, I can’t believe another year has past. So much has happened in this past year; these are some of the biggest ups and downs:

I took part in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. After finding it hard to get into the story I’d planned, I ended up writing a fanfic and reaching my goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. (The previous year I’d only managed half that.)

– The worst day of my life was the day I found out I had a miscarriage and lost my baby. I didn’t cope at all with the loss and sunk into depression. I found it hard to write for a while. I’m still struggling with the loss, but I’m writing.

After entering my completed YA fantasy MS into a couple of novel competitions and having no luck, I decided to put it aside for the time being, rather than following my original plan of querying it. I decided to focus on my YA thriller WIP instead.

– After the devastating floods in Queensland at the start of the year, I was compelled to submit a story to the anthology 100 Stories to Queensland. I was thrilled to first make the longlist and then the shortlist and have my story ‘A Penny for a Wish’ included in the anthology. The anthology has gone on to raise much needed funds for disaster relief in Queensland.

– I was surprised and thrilled to find out my story ‘Angel Blood’ was to be included in the Australian Literature anthology (and I also totally bawled my eyes out as it was to be my first story I would be getting paid for). It was released at the same time as 100 Stories for Queensland. I couldn’t believe my debut as a published author involved two separate stories being published at the same time.

– I jumped at the opportunity to get on board an anthology called Literary Mix Tapes: Eighty-Nine where I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with other authors and an editor (the fabulous Jodi Cleghorn). Working on my short story ‘Eighteen for Life’ has been a great learning experience for me as a writer. Eighty-Nine is due for release next month.

– I’ve had the honour of being invited to write short stories for several other upcoming anthologies (which I will tell you more about as the release dates come closer).

I found out I was pregnant again, but kept the pregnancy secret despite the fact I was suffering the worst morning sickness of all my pregnancies so far. Thankfully the morning sickness has now subsided. I’m nearly at the halfway point!

My family and I were all plagued by illness over the winter months, and in fact it got so bad my son ended up in hospital for a week (with me staying there with him) and my daughter ended up in hospital overnight. Even once we were home it was a long road to recovery (compounded by the fact I was also suffering horrendous morning sickness at the time). Needless to say my writing suffered during this time, as did my poor blog.

I worked up the courage to send a couple picture book (and one chapter book) manuscripts to publishers. So far no luck, but…

– Only last week I received the exciting news my picture book ‘Monster Sister’ was shortlisted for the CYA competition’s preschool category. (CYA = Children and Young Adult Writer conference, which is held annually in Brisbane, Australia.) I just found out the winner as I was about to hit ‘publish’ on this post. Unfortunately ‘Monster Sister’ did not win, but I feel so privileged to have even been shortlisted and to have had the opportunity for my story to be seen by a publisher.

Edit: Just had to make an edit, because I just found out that although ‘Monster Sister’ did not win the CYA preschool category, it did place second!

Happy Book Week

It’s book week this week; a great week to celebrate all things books and reread some of your old favourites (maybe introduce them to your kids or recommend them to some friends).

Remember at school how book week meant dressing up as your favourite book character? I can remember dressing up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Emily from L.M. Montgomery’s Emily Climbs and a fairy (though I can’t remember which book it was from). As a teacher I remember one year dressing up as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. I can’t wait until my son starts school next year and gets to dress up for book week.

All week I’ve been sharing some of my favourite books on my Facebook page as part of the book week celebrations. So far I’ve covered my favourite picture book, chapter books and YA book/series. Watch out for my favourite adult book and all time favourite in the coming days. Feel free to tell me some of your favourite books.

In the spirit of book week, and following a great three days at Write on Con, I’ve been busy revising some of my writing, including several picture books, a chapter book for boys and a young adult contemporary thriller. I’ll be posting a Write on Con follow-up post soon.

And as if book week wasn’t already great, I got some fantastic news at the start of the week: my picture book Monster Sister was shortlisted in the preschool category in the 2011 CYA conference competition. The winners will be announced at the conference on the tenth of September and unfortunately I can’t be there. I’m so excited just to be shortlisted though, since it means my story will be seen by publishers!

Introducing Jo’s Labyrinth

I’m launching a new site today aimed at children, teens, teachers and parents. It is to be a Literacy based site with a focus on reading, books and creative writing. Some of the sections include Monday Munchkins for parents/teachers of young children, Teacher Tuesday for Literacy teachers, Writer Wednesday for children and teens interested in creative writing and Friday Favourites, which will have books reviews of children’s/teen Literature (from picture books through to young adult novels) with input from my own kids.

I came to realise that while my writing blog is great for sharing my writing journey and sharing tips with fellow writers, it is not the sort of blog that appeals to my target readership. Although my short stories are aimed at an older audience, my main passion is writing picture books and children’s Literature (including young adult). I wanted to start a blog/site that appeals more to kids and teens. As a teacher/writer/mum, I’ve also had a lot of mums come to me for advice on encouraging their children to read/write, and have in the past toyed with the idea of a mummy blog. Thirdly, as a teacher who is currently not teaching I have a vast collection of teaching resources and ideas that aren’t being used and I thought it would be great to share them with my fellow teachers. On top of all that, I want to share my love of reading and writing with a new generation of readers and writers, so Jo’s Labyrinth was born.

I will still be blogging on The Graceful Doe. This is still the home for blogging about my writing journey, sharing writing tips with my fellow writers and providing links to writing resources. The Graceful Doe is my ‘grown up’ blog.

You can have a look at Jo’s Labyrinth here.