Tuesday, March 3, 2015

help your anxious child

Wow! I am so happy to see this review of my book:

We have tried so many books and workbooks for my anxious 6 year old son and this is the one that 'spoke to him' and has been an ongoing, useable resource. I found the information in the book really helpful for understanding anxiety and particularly the body's response to it, and then the 12 monsters themselves are a useful tool for a child to identify with. Reading the title of each made me smile as Dawn Meredith certainly has done an amazing job of identifying the different types of anxiety. Thank you for this book, it really has made a difference to us, and I've recommended it to others many times.

It means so much that this little book has helped kids and their families.
click on the right side bar to see more about it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Facial Features and Emotions - helping kids READ people

In researching Sensory Processing Disorder I came across this brilliant website human anatomy fundamentals  for artists on how to draw facial expressions. It's actually a terrific resource for the kids I work with who struggle a bit with understanding people and their surroundings.
There are detailed drawings of facial expressions plus notes on which facial features are used to convey these moods. Feelings are grouped on an 'emotion tree' to show variations and degrees of emotion. Such as these below.

It's very similar to a section in my 12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety book, where I list words for the various emotions to help kids express more accurately how they're feeling. You can buy the book here: 12 Monsters  It would be pretty easy to print off the faces as cards and play a matching game to the words that describe them. Anything that helps kids understand others is a good thing. :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Serious Writers - NO Pussyfooters Allowed!

So, you want 'to be a writer'. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said that to me. 'Oh, it must be so nice to just sit and write all day.' HA! HA! and HA! If only.


Things have changed. To be a successful writer these days you have to also be a publicist, social media expert, publishing guru, business owner, crystal ball gazer and salesperson. Publishers are no longer satisfied with just your brilliant work, they want to know how it will sell, what it is similar to, who will buy it and why, even which section of the bookshop it will belong to. In short, they want us to be market analysts as well as writers.

This sits ill with a cave dweller.

Then there's your 'writers journey', or as my husband puts it, being 'forged in the fires of rejection.' How badly do you want to be published? How much do you believe in this story/project? How much are you willing to sacrifice for this goal? I recently signed a contract for a book that was previously submitted to 13 publishers over a period of five years. It's changed a lot since the beginning because I kept asking for feedback. What was wrong, what I needed to fix. And then I fixed it. And then I fixed it some more.

You need balls of steel for this job.

That is why I say writing is not for the pussyfooters. You cannot hope for success if you whine about how unfair it is. You must believe in what you are writing, that the message is worthwhile, has something valuable or interesting or refreshing to say. And keep going. Ask for advice and listen to it.

If I knew at the beginning what I know now.....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Geeky Toys - what does it have to do with writing?

I confess, I am a gadget girl. I love geeky toys! My dad was a mechanic so I grew up helping him pull apart motors and putting them back together. This fostered a love of cars too. Machines fascinate me and this little gadget caught my eye.

So, what's this got to do with writing?

Inspiration, my friend, inspiration! Sometimes, if I'm a bit stuck for ideas, I half-watch TV whilst writing. Random things are thrown at my consciousness through ads and TV shows. Some of it pings off and some of it rattles down to the next level. The other day I wrote a piece about the challenges of juggling womanhood, motherhood, work and writing and the inherent guilt that goes with the territory. I didn't know what I was going to call the piece. Something on the TV screen caught my eye. Birds. Hummingbirds frantically going about their day. And I thought - 'hey, that's me!' So the piece is called Frantic Hummingbird.

Back to gadgets, because I can't stay away for too long... This perpetual motion machine is so cool. Made of wood, it's solar powered, so no batteries are required. Reminds me of old fashioned wooden toys. They didn't end up at charity stores like the plastic rubbish of today, they were passed down to the next generation as treasured heirlooms of childhood. I love that. Click on this link to see a video of it in action: Enjoy!

And how cool is this catapult?

Ok, one more, because I love robots!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

WRITING TIPS for the holidays

So, you've been aching to get stuck into that new story for months but work commitments/life hasn't allowed for the full immersion needed to really nut out the plot and characters. Perhaps you've got your first draft almost done. Either way, I have some tips for you - easy ways you can improve your writing, whatever stage you are at.


1.     Use strong verbs rather than ineffectual words such as 'started', 'was', 'had', 'just'. Go through your entire MS and eradicate them!

2.     Try not to begin sentences with the noun/subject of the sentence, such as 'the' or the person's name. Begin with verbs, adverbs (sparingly) or subordinate clauses. This adds variety and can have a strong influence upon the rhythm of your work.

3.     Try to keep one subject per sentence ie: if you're describing a person, keep to them, or if it’s the ocean, develop that further. Link ideas with the first word of the next sentence.

4.     For a tight, concise manuscript, go through each sentence and eliminate at least one word. You will have to rewrite, but it will make your work stronger and more punchy.

5.     Have your plot worked out, even roughly, beforehand. I now use index cards with a brief description of each scene. I put them on my whiteboard with blu-tack and can move them around at will. In my latest novel I realised I had two missing scenes!

6.     Use active, rather than passive. ie: 'the sound of glass breaking was heard by Miriam' is passive. 'Miriam started. Glass smashed somewhere in the house.' Show what the character is doing, rather than what is being done to the character.

7.     Use the speech function in Word to hear your work read back to you. The computerized voice sounds a little odd, but hearing someone else read your work makes a huge difference. While you listen, edit.

8.     NAMES - for goodness’ sake, choose character names carefully! Don’t use modern names in a medieval fantasy. Similarly, don’t use old fashioned names that just do not fit the context simply because you’ve always loved them. Made-up names add to the world you have constructed, so make sure they sound like they belong there. Unless you’re doing it deliberately for effect, name your characters with their personality in mind - for instance, (in a fantasy story), a large, crudely featured man might be called 'Grumm,' and a dainty lady of royal birth might be called 'Trilaya'.

9.     Dialogue - the way a person speaks should reflect their character and make it easy to identify them. "Great," smirked Josh. "If you had listened to my sage advice you would not now find yourself in such distress," opined Wallace. "Yay!" Shrieked seven year old Lucy.

10.  Give us a picture of what your character looks like as soon as possible. Even scant details are better than none. Don't wait for page five to tell us the colour of her eyes.

11.  Begin a new line for each speaker's dialogue.

12.  Some of our most precious and treasured words are the very ones we have to take out, ie: 'kill your darlings'. They trap you into thinking they're so wonderful that the entire story can work around them, when in fact they hold you back and annoy the reader.

13.  The old saying, 'show, not tell' is so hard to do, but you must keep it in mind. Reveal a person's feelings/thoughts/opinions through their speech and actions. It is more effective than simply telling the reader.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Man from Cox's River DVD - A Brilliant Story of Modern Conservation

I'm so pleased to tell you that this DVD is now available, just in time for Christmas. I was lucky enough to see it, at The Mount Vic Flicks cinema, when it was first released. It's the story of the removal of the last wild brumbies from the Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountains National Park.

You'll cry, you'll chuckle and you'll feel your heart in your mouth as local cowboy, Luke Carlon, endeavours to remove these horses by leading them out of the forest one at a time. Support Australian small films and buy your copy!

 Man From Cox's River DVD

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Creating a scene - essential elements to writing your story, scene by scene

So, I've fallen a bit out of love with my latest manuscript and looking for tips to freshen up my approach. Thanks goodness writers are a generous and caring lot! Perhaps it's because we know the pain and frustration of this totally insane lifestyle choice... I digress, as I usually do when stuck. Sometimes you write a scene and it appears to function well, but you get the feeling something is missing and you can't quite put your finger on it. Writer John August has a great website, with tips for writing scenes, to ensure you have all the elements needed. how-to-write-a-scene.pdf

Here's a brief overview:
  1. What needs to happen in this scene?
  2. What would happen if this scene got omitted?
  3. Who needs to be in the scene?
  4. Where could the scene take place?
  5. What's the most surprising thing that could happen in the the scene?
  6. Is this a long scene or a short scene?
  7. Brainstorm three different ways it could begin
  8. Play it on the screen in your head
  9. Write a scriibble version
  10. Write the full scene
  11. Repeat
The only thing I would add to this, is - Write three different ways this scene could END. I think having options helps free the mind. Doesn't matter if two of the options are ridiculous, it helps free the mind to possibilities. I'm also thinking of using colours for scene elements. I'll let you know how I go with that!