Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Creating a fictional enchanted world

In my books about the magic game ‘The Tenth Gateway’, the game world was created hundreds of years ago. I therefore wanted the world to reflect aspects of the medieval period. 

So the fictional magical beings and nasty creatures in the books draw on traditional fairy tales and folklore but they live in a world that doesn’t have modern technology. There’s lots of magic and anything can happen but there are no cars, planes, big cities or computers.

Hansel & Gretal
The Brownies
‘An Encyclopedia of Fairies’ by Katherine Briggs was really helpful.  I also trawled through the internet and I remembered all the great fairy tales I have read. 
I love these images that I found in a volume of a very old encyclopedia – J. A Richards Publishing Co., Inc 1947!

Some Writing Challenges

One of the most difficult things to do in writing my stories was the come up with the various challenges and puzzles that the children have to solve to move through the game. Childhood memories also played a major role here.

I remember getting stuck for a couple of months when writing the first book because I couldn’t think how to move the children from one particular world to another. Thank goodness for Eda’s  ‘good magic’ which helps them to play the game. 

I needed to change the gateway worlds and challenges in Book Two – ‘The Spy’s Door’. The growing power of the evil magician Malefic means that he is increasingly able to modify the game to suit his purpose. He wants to escape from the game which keeps him a prisoner. Eda is determined to stop him.

I had lots of fun thinking about how the game would change as Malefic’s evil influence spread.

Book trailers

Alison Tait has a great book trailer for her children’s books ‘The Map Maker Chronicles’. I can recommend looking at the trailer and also reading the books – a great fantasy adventure story. It’s what motivated me to have my first book trailer on ‘The Tenth Gateway’ developed by Austin Macauley (publisher). I (with help of course) included the Youtube links in one of my recent blogs.

I’m not sure how people stumble/find things (like book trailers) on Youtube unless they know exactly what they’re looking for. 

I know about Google. Type in key words and it’s amazing what information you can find. However I’m not sure how people find things they don’t know exist; for example: terrific books or the web sites of other great authors.

I suppose utilising ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO) helps a bit.  Sounds like something mysterious to include in a children’s fantasy story! What do you think?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Writing my book

Getting started 

As with a lot of people who write I scribbled lots of poems and stories as a child. And of course I was a ‘book worm’. I even wrote fantasy for young children in my twenties. The draft copy still sits here in my study and I’m determined to try and polish it up in the New Year.

My ‘real’ career beckoned.

Therefore it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided I would like to do something serious with my writing. But I didn’t want to do any more formal study.  So I completed two online short courses with the Australian Writers Centre – they were a great help. The first was in creative writing and the second in writing children’s books. I realised that it was ‘fantasy’ that I really loved. It enables my imagination to take flight.

During the two courses the idea for ‘The Tenth Gateway’ popped into my head. Obviously I was influenced by everything I have read over the years and I included all the sorts of magic, characters and nasty creatures I loved (and still love) reading about.

However the inspiration for creating the story of the magic game was the traditional game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’. Players have to try and avoid landing on something nasty (snakes) and being sent backwards. The aim of course is to land on a ladder and move forwards to the final square. The first one who gets there wins.

It was lots of fun.

I don’t have any ladders in my books so far – although there are some horrible serpents in the enchanted world of the second gateway in my second book ‘The Spy’s Door’. But there is the tension between good (Eda the good magician) and bad (Malefic the nasty magician).

Anyway I had to have different obstacles for the children in the stories to overcome –hence the challenges and puzzles that need to be solved before they can move forward in the game.

Blogging – good news

I’ve surprised myself. I’m actually enjoying writing these blogs. Maybe it’s just like everyone says – you’ve just got to sit down and write.

I still need help from my Social Media Expert Friend (SMEF) on posting blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc but I now feel a bit more confident that I’ll get there in the end.

Why is fantasy  a ‘good read’ for children?

Here is one of my favourite quotes from Dr. Seuss:

Do you have any good quotes about why stories drawing on the fantasy genre is important for children?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

From a bush house to watching flowers grow

 Ten years ago I planted six Birds of Paradise plants under a tall gum tree. I envisaged a beautiful group of colourful exotic flowers shooting up in the Spring. 

Each year through cold and windy winters and hot dry summers I have weeded, watered and watched my small family of plants. 

A few new leaves emerged but that was all. I still hoped and now after all these years there are two flowers. One has opened and showed its beautiful colours and the second (look carefully at tree trunk) is still closed like a spear. Wow! I am so happy.

My husband Frank retrieved a discarded small garden glass house. 

Most of the glass was shattered and it lay around behind the barn for several years. 

Last year I had the idea to turn it into a bush house filled with the native orchids given to me by a friend. I kept the frame and covered it with green netting. And a few weeks ago I built a paved area with more of the old bricks near the entrance to the house.

My challenge now is to slow down the ‘bricks works’ – although there are still more to use and get back to my writing. 

Hopefully I’ll have something to say about that next time. I have a new idea about how my main characters move from one enchanted world to the next – of course, once again inspired by nature!

Do you know if there is an eco friendly way to boost the growth of ‘Birds of Paradise’? I’d rather not wait another ten years.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Creating something new – from recycling bricks to imagination

About six months ago, as I shared on facebook, a tall gum tree fell on and destroyed a large section of my front garden. I was quite upset as it had taken me some years to create it. But I took a deep breath and I re-planted the garden using some of my old bricks to create another new path. I took this photo of it last weekend. You can compare the before and after.


I find that creating fictional characters is a bit like gardening. First, imagining what they are like and then watching their personalities grow as the story develops. Lots of patience is required for both. This past week or so I have been struggling to find names for some of the fictional characters in my third children’s book about the enchanted game and world of ‘The Tenth Gateway’. I can spend several hours at a time on this.

Just when I think I have found or created something different, I check ‘google’ and up pops the same name for a character in a book or film, a singer, or a computer game. It’s easier for the ‘human’ characters but much harder for the various fantasy creatures – good and bad.

I found this lovely image of a fairy-like being which reminded me of the fairy charm I included in my first book “The Tenth Gateway’. I didn’t give her a name but now I’m wondering what it would be. I am thinking ‘Clara’. It is an ancient Latin name and means ‘clear, bright’.

What would you call her?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Using old bricks in the garden

I can’t believe it’s time to post another blog. What have I done in the last two weeks? A bit of writing (hoorah!) and re-cycling old bricks!

I’ve managed to finish another draft chapter in my third book about the magic game ‘The Tenth Gateway’. I’ve been a bit slow as it’s taken me several weeks to work out how the fictional children can solve a difficult challenge. It’s interesting that the more I write about the main characters in the story the more real they become for me and I know how they will each react to a particular situation.

I’ve also completed a page for ‘The Spy’s Door’ as part of the scbwi (society of children’s book writers and illustrators) annual bookstop promotion. So if you are looking for holiday gifts for children you can find 'The Spy's Door' and lots more to browse through at  #SCBWIBookStop for a great new read 

Although I haven’t done a huge amount of weeding and planting type of gardening I have been very active outside re-using the old bricks from the house renovation we did several years ago. My first effort was to make a new garden path.

I have some more ideas that I’ll show you next post.

Do you have any fun or practical ideas of how to recycle materials or items left over from a building project?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Guess what I'm doing when I'm not writing?

It’s been 2 weeks since I posted anything on social media. I did try to send my blog link to Austin Macauley to post on their web site for my new children’s book- The Spy’s Door’- but I got that wrong. So have waited for my ‘Social Media Expert Friend' (SMEF) to help me send it to AM and of course to help me update this blog. This week I must take some notes on ‘how to post a blog.’

But I’ve got some news. My book trailer for ‘The Spy’s Door’ is now up. you haven't seen the trailer for 'The Tenth Gateway' published in 2017 the link is:

Not only do I have a mental blank about my blog and other social media, how do I think about writing when my spring garden keeps me so busy.

I always thought that ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ (who said that?) – but now I know that it’s gardening.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Being a novice with social media

When I published my first children's book - The Tenth Gateway- I didn't realise that I would be entering a whole new world - the world of social media.

It terrified me.

I took the first step by enrolling in an online course called 'Building an Author Website' run by The Australian Writers Centre. This was a great course.  I created a face book page with the help of a friend who knows about these things. 

The next difficulty was knowing what to post. This was and still is a struggle. I now also have Instagram and twitter but I still don't really understand them.

Everyone then told me that I needed to have a blog, so let's see how it goes.

On my blog I intend to share with my journey not only as a writer but as a user of social media.

Does anyone relate to this?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Becoming a writer of children's books

I haven't always been a writer of children's books - although I did write a story about the adventures of a nail when I was nine.

Progressing on from this there have been a multitude of professional writings - essays, academic papers, reports, project plans, business plans and lesson plans etc etc.

Now it is time for writing about all the fun and interesting things I have always loved to read about - history, mystery and magic. I can use my imagination to create fantasy worlds and beings that children - real and fictional - can immerse themselves in.

Albert Einstein once said:

So, I'll keep writing......

What is your favourite fairy story?

Between Books

  Taking a Break After I sent off the third book in my planned trilogy about the magical world of The Tenth Gateway I t...