I’ve been having much fun this week on Instagram, Jenny Bravo of @blotsandplots is hosting #booktoberfest, an event that runs for the full 31 days of my favourite month.


The rules are simple, follow the daily prompts, add the #booktoberfest and any other relevant tags, then post it to your Instagram feed, easy as.

I’ve made some lovely connections, both in terms of people and books. I’ve also been reminded of a few old favourites, and it’s only been the first week.

Here’s a sample of the posts I’ve made so far.


Mr D










If you are a #bookgeek and hang around Instagram, then come join us for all the funs.

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Inner Critic

Tell the negative COMMITTEE that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!
I recently posted a plea for help to the Women Writers, Women’s Books writing group on Facebook. I had completed the ground work for a new YA novel idea. After I’d put all the pieces together I realised that I really, really liked my idea. I liked the themes I was coming up with, I liked all the feels it evoked in me just from the bare bones planning I had done. Then, I became paralysed. My inner critic reared it’s grotesque head, black oil oozing from sphincters all over it’s massive, suffocating form, its overwhelming voice boomed through me, convincing me that I, me personally, could never do justice to this story.
The response from my group was exactly what I needed. There were the usual words of encouragement, the “I know how you feel,” camaraderie, but there were two awesome and completely different youtube videos offered up to me.
The first was the hilarious song Die Vampire Die from the musical [title of show], yes that’s actually what it’s called. This song had me in stitches and is going into my writing playlist. My playlist usually consists of 100% instrumental pieces that have never had lyrics associated with them, but I’m going to through this in the mix to be played at random intervals as a little “note to self” reminder.
The second clip was a TED talk  (I do love my TED talks so I’m not sure how I missed this one). The talk is by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses.
Both of these clips are completely different but they had the combined effect of making me feel better about myself and my work and inspired to continue trying.

Tell the negative COMMITTEE that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!

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The power of words

As writers, we make a career out of words. We understand that a combination of certain words can transport our readers from their lounge room to a habitat on Mars. The right words can make us feel the emotions our characters are feeling. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve escaped into a novel feeling nothing. Putting that book down, especially mid-chapter, I discover I’m angry or sad or anxious, whatever the main character in that novel was feeling when I stopped reading. We all know it, words have power, which is why we need to take care when we choose our words.
I recently came across this graphic from Upworthy
Upwrothy graphic
It struck a deep cord within me, both on a personal level and as an author. Growing up I had friends and family members with certain conditions, one of my dearest friends had Downs Syndrome. It is obvious to realise how I grew up with a serious distaste for the word “retarded”. As a psychology student, I came to dislike the way we bandy around words like “insane”, “crazy” and “psycho”. Finally, at thirteen, I read about Helen Keller and developed a deep loathing for the derogatory use of the “dumb”.
Most (decent) people strive for the politest form of speech. When we find out a certain word has negative connotations, we try to avoid using it. The types of words we use, help us tell the world what type of person we are, where we fit into societies jigsaw puzzle.
Using words to create a character
This graphic, and the resulting train of thought lead me to think more about the “voice” of a character, and how important it is to get that voice right.
If you have a character that is an uneducated, rude, offensive jerk, they aren’t going to care about being politically correct or avoid using foul or offensive language. These people would use words from the above graphics “Not That!” column with impunity.
“What are you, a god damn retard?”
If your character is compassionate, kind-hearted, and gentle, they may avoid calling someone “moody”. In fact, you may want to read “None violent communication” by Marshall Rosenberg, to improve your understanding further.
“Perhaps he’s having a difficult day and it’s making him lash out at others.”
I repeat, words have power. When you begin to create a character, when you think about their job, their hair colour and personality, pay particular attention to what comes of their mouth. If you write in first person, make sure you retain that voice throughout the novel. Use words they would use. Sentence structure is also important. They speak in short, snappy phrases, or long-winded, that sort of thing.
It never hurts to rewrite a sentence a dozen times until you nail that voice. Little things matter. Do they say “yes”, “yep”, or “yeah”, maybe they say “ah ha” or simply raise their eyebrows and nod.
Posted in My rambling thoughts, On Writing Tagged with: , , , ,

35th IBBY International Congress

35th IBBY international Congress

Auckland will host the 35th IBBY International Congress in August 2015. The IBBY congress explores the excitement and challenges of literature and literacy education in a rapidly changing world.

35th IBBY International Congress


Calls for Presentations will be available from 1 May 2015 and will close on 30 September 2015.

Key dates


1 September 2015 –  31 March 2016


1 April –  30 June 2016


from 1 July 2016


1 May 2015


30 September 2015


31 January 2016

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Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators


Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators 

22-30 August 2015

“The [annual Storylines Festival] concept was adopted adopted in 1993 by the Children’s Book Foundation… now the Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust, and has been developed through subsequent annual festivals.

The first Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators was held in Auckland. Nearly 11,000 visitors came to the first free Family Day at the Auckland War Memorial Museum to hear their favourite authors read stories and to enjoy the illustrators’ painted mural and the Kids’ Lit Quiz. The Storylines Bus took authors to meet many more thousands of children in schools around the Auckland region.

The Storylines Festival includes free Family Days, principally targeted at families with children from age 3 to 12, across New Zealand’s major city’s with seminars for students, workshops for kids and story tours in Auckland and Northland. The festival is so popular that most events are booked out well in advance.

You can find out more about the festival at their website.

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