Thursday, January 28, 2016

Holiday craft for kids and adults - have FUN!

We spent many happy hours doing craft this holidays, with the simplest materials and made lovely gifts. Here are some of the projects. The key thing is to HAVE A GO and not worry about the outcome. Experiment with the materials and enjoy the process.

This brilliant stuff is plasticine that you bake in the oven. makes fabulous little critters which we made into a mobile with a piece of dowel, one hook, some fishing line and beading crimpers. 

 I used two part epoxy resin glue to attach the beasties to the dowel.

the finished mobile.


Edward Bear. I never use a pattern, I just experiment and see how it goes. Of course I end up pulling it up several times, but that's part of the process for me.
 Fingerless gloves. So easy!
A little bowl for knickknacks. A flat circle, then doubled up the trebles to form this lovely shape. It's already in use, to keep a bedside table tidy!

I used the wool from a kit to make this little guy. Many versions later I was happy with the result! He's a little late for this Christmas, but he'll be ready for Xmas 2016. 


Its amazing what you can come up with when you just have fun! The best ones didn't use glue at all.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Guest Author - Donna Maree Hanson

If you, like me, LOVE LOVE LOVE dragons, then this author is for you! She has two books in her fabulous 'Dragon Wine' series.
Who am I talking about? Donna Maree Hanson. She is my guest author this month and I'm so excited! I gave her complete open rein as to what to write, and this is what she says about herself:

How reading helps my writing

I like reading. I love being absorbed in a book and being so involved I don’t want to stop until the story is done. I read lots of different genres, crime, romance, science fiction and occasionally literary type books (those contemporary stories where it’s about the words and the character rather than about the plot). If it hooks me I’m there. If it hooks me a lot, I don’t move until I’m done. I have had some impatient children/ partners who want to be fed or something and I’m nose deep in a Georgette Heyer and won’t move. Sigh. I love being that indulgent with a book.

Reading fabulous stories inspired me to write. I am from that school of writers who consider reading very important for a writer. I recall very early on a writer giving a talk about how aspiring writers had to read, read and read. This author said that reading allows your mind to absorb story rhythms and flows and by osmosis a writer will pick that up. Another author, Jack Dann, said at his workshop many years ago that if you like a passage you read, copy it down, study it and understand why you liked it, why it was good. I don’t think I’ve done that but I do study texts more now to look at an author’s technique, see how they have done something. Not so much to copy them but see how a certain thing can be done. Sometimes a novel or a way a novel is written gives me ideas or even confidence. For example, I might think they’ve done something daring and then that leads me to be daring too.

There are opposing schools of thought on reading within the genre you are writing. Some people believe you should be across the genre, know where your work fits etc. Others don’t read in their genre because they don’t want to  accidently influence their work. This happened to me with my dark fantasy series, Dragon Wine. It has dragons in it. I didn’t want my dragons to be clich├ęd or like someone else’s take on dragons. So I didn’t read any books with dragons in them. I’ve been told that my depiction of dragons is a bit different, that they have a different edge to them. That pleases me because that is what I was going for.
Dragon Wine
When I was writing Dragon Wine (Shatterwing and Skywatcher) it came out quite dark and there are things in the story that are disturbing. When I started writing this book back in 2003, dark fantasy wasn’t a thing. I hadn’t read a dark fantasy. I’ve had feedback from editors and readers that the story was too dark. Now dark fantasy is a thing. So I’m not writing the most dark and nasty fantasy out there. One reviewer did say it was ‘grim’ dark, which is about a dark and depressing as you can get. Dragon Wine has a layer of light in it so I’m hoping that’s enough to shrug off the grim dark label.

Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing by Donna Maree Hanson is free in e-book for a short time. As part of spreading the word about Shatterwing Donna is doing a blog tour and offering a give away of a hard copy of Shatterwing. Winners will be drawn from people who comment during the blog tour. So leave a comment to be in it to win.
What is the book about?
Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.
Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.
The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.
There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.
Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

About Donna

Donna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and under a pseudonym paranormal romance. Her dark fantasy series (which some reviewers have called ‘grim dark)’, Dragon Wine, is published by Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan digital imprint).  Book  1: Shatterwing and Book 2: Skywatcher are out now in digital and print on demand. In April 2015, she was awarded the A. Bertram Chandler Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction” for her work in running science fiction conventions, publishing and broader SF community contribution. Donna also writes young adult science fiction, with Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures out with Escape Publishing.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

ANXIETY in CHILDREN - helpful book this Christmas

I've had such a fantastic response to this little book! It seems to strike a chord all over the world and that gives me such joy. In this technologically complex modern world the simple,instinctive things remain - how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about the world in which we live. Many, many people struggle with anxiety and it often begins in childhood My aim with this book is to provide information, to use humour to de-mystify the stranglehold negative thought habits can have upon our minds and to provide practical advice THAT WORKS! Being a 'sufferer' myself I know exactly how it feels but I also know that it can be overcome, if you can accept it for what it is - an early warning system that gets a little out of control.

So, if you know someone who struggles a bit with anxiety, be it child or adult, this little book has many answers and LOTS of tips. My mission, still, after 25 years, is 'Changing the world, one child at a time.' You can order it here:
12 Annoying Monsters, at Five Senses Education website
12 Annoying Monsters, from 


If you've missed the Christmas run, aim for a NEW Year's present! What a fantastic way to begin 2016 - with the promise of a new way of tackling anxiety - becoming victorious over its effects! And please, if you've had success or still have questions, drop me a line at I can send you up to 2 copies (in Australia) for $30 plus $1.80 postage.
Much Happiness to you all!

KID KRAFT - Christmas trees you make yourself!

Here's a simple little thing you can do to brighten up the house this christmas. And its so simple, ids can do it! We collected stick from the garden and raided my ribbon hoard to make little gems just like these. which we hung in the window along a piece of string. For more detailed instructions, go to 'Fireflies and Mud Pies' website.
Have a fabulous Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Individual touch of Small Press

I've been in this publishing game for about 15 years now, with my first book being published in 2000. I've had books published by many different publishing houses, some big, such Cambridge University Press and some small, such as Wombat Books and Satalyte Publishing. Sure, it's great if you can get a contract with a large publishing house and their bigger budget for sales and distribution, but one of my most successful  books, 12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety was published with a local small press, and is available all over the world.

Last week they asked me to call round and accept a little gift, for being their top selling author 3 months in a row! Isn't it gorgeous? Its doubly sweet for me because I illustrated this book myself and seeing one of my little monster illustrations on a mug was a real thrill!

So, what I'm saying is, don't be afraid to go it alone or try small press. It doesn't matter how your story gets out there, as long as it gets out there. Then you can move on to the next project, cos I'm sure, like me, you have loads of them lurking in you harddrive.

Have a fabulous week!

FELICITY BANKS - Steam Punk glory!

This month I am very excited to welcome author Felicity Banks to my little corner of the world. Felicity is mad about Steam punk, so she has great taste! We both love the eccentric Victorians and the wild inventions of that era as the age of steam power, mechanical manufacturing and fabulous (if not always comfortable) fashion. We also share an interest in tall ships. (see my post on the James Craig, The Esmeralda and the Earnslaw) Tall Ships Leave Sydney Harbour  The James Craig and The Earnslaw)  Felicity has provided some magic photos! I've given her free rein to say what she likes, so here is what she said:

Corsets and Roller Skates
Yep, the Victorians were insane... but not in the way you might think.
My interactive novel Attack of the Clockwork Army is steampunk, and features a family of mad scientists. They don’t think of themselves as mad, and by real-life 1850s standards they barely count as eccentric.
As you may have guessed by the title of this blog entry, it was the Victorians who invented roller skates. Casting an eye over patents of the era feels like reading a particularly ludicrous sci-fi novel. The Victorians invented an enormous and noisy device that (allegedly) automatically brushed down your horse. It featured long, spider-like iron arms and an array of cogs, wheels, belts, and counterweights. Any horse worth its meat would have taken one look and kicked it to pieces.
The Victorians also invented the moustache protector, the steam-powered lawnmower (which weighed over a ton and was remarkably difficult to either steer or brake), and (a personal favourite) the anti-garrotte cravat. 

I’m fond of the cravat because it’s linked to my particular area of interest: Australia. When Australian residents managed to put a stop to the convict transports to Australia, Londoners feared that all their home-made criminals would be stuck on their own island, and could attack their own people at any moment.
Perhaps now is a good time to admit that I am, in fact, Australian.
I researched 1800s Australia in preparation for inventing my own steampunk version of that history, and to this day the more I read about the era the more incredulous I become.
Cross-dressing, for example. Australia’s early law enforcement was horrifically corrupt, and that corruption was especially blatant on the goldfields. People flocked to Australia from all over the world, and some became fabulously wealthy. Others were so unsuccessful that they couldn’t even afford to pay for a gold-digging licence. The licences were severely overpriced, and the fees for lack of a licence were even worse.
And that, dear reader, is why scores of tough colonial men would greet the local lawmen dressed in full female regalia, and claim that their “brother” or “husband” was elsewhere – “and he has the licence of course, officer.” It is frankly unbelievable that this worked, but it did.
And then we come to the Bentley family. Mr Bentley owned the Eureka Hotel on the Ballarat goldfields. He was good friends with powerful British men (including the magistrate), and was wealthy. One night when a drunken digger yelled to be let into the hotel for a few more drinks, Bentley refused.

From there the story gets murky, and the true events are still being argued over today. One thing is clear: the digger was dead by morning.
According to the small amount of evidence available, Bentley either did the murder or knew who did, but he was not convicted by his powerful friend. It looked like he’d get away with it. Some eyewitnesses said he followed the digger that night and killed him. One eyewitness report actually implies that his pregnant wife did the deed. (Never, ever mess with a pregnant woman.)
The simmering anger on the goldfields soon exploded, and Bentley’s hotel was burned down. For reasons that have never been fully explained, Bentley fled the scene alone on a borrowed horse... wearing a dress.
So if you think steampunk cross-dressing is unlikely, think again. And next time someone on roller skates nearly knocks you over, just be glad they’re not insisting you wear a corset and crinolines every day.

My interactive steampunk novel, Attack of the Clockwork Army is set in Australia. You can choose to be male or female, gay or straight, black or white. You can even choose to fight for the British, or not to fight at all.
The book is available as a Choose Your Own Adventure-style app for your device on Amazon, Apple, Android, and Chrome. You can also buy it directly from the publisher (an easy way to buy and read it on your computer).
The app stores list it as “free, with in-app purchases”. What this actually means is that the beginning is free, and then you pay $5 (once!) to read the rest.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NEW BOOK for Dawn Meredith - 'Friend in a Shell' is IS HERE!

I'm very excited to announce that my latest book for children, 'Friend in a Shell' is now available online from Five Senses Education! Friend in a Shell by Dawn Meredith 

Imagine you found a GIANT SNAIL down at the park! Imagine if it was scary AND friendly, like a big dog! Imagine that bio-hazard scientists and zoo keepers wanted to kidnap your new friend. What would you do?

The Illustrator
This book is beautifully illustrated by Vietnamese
Artist Diem Kieu Thi Nguyen.
This is one of Diem's sketches for the story, in which Dad helps Charlie find Boris, the Giant Snail, and bring him back to their house in Dad's van!

Below is the opening scene from the book.

What's the story about?
Charlie has a new friend, Boris. 
Boris is super smart, even though all he can say is "Pfoooosht!". With a huge, shiny shell and waving eyestalks, Boris tends to scare people away. But all he really wants is for someone to scratch behind his head. Only Charlie is brave enough to be his friend. And then, disaster! News crews are swarming the park where Boris lives and the zoo wants to take him away as their prize exhibit.
Can Charlie keep Boris safe? And, what on Earth do you feed a giant snail?

When will it be launched?
I will be launching it Saturday November 21st at Katoomba Library at a FREE fun event for children called The Dragon Detective Quest, organised by the CBCA (Childrens Book Council of Australia) Blue Mountains sub branch. Kids of all ages are welcome to come along. Other fabulous and well known authors will also be there, such as Emily Rodda, Steven Herrick, Stephen Measeday and James Roy as well as award winning illustrator, Narelda Joy. It's going to be HUGE! You'll be able to buy copies of 'Friend in a Shell' on the day and have me sign them for you. Yay! Below is the flyer for the day. Just right click on it and print!

Don't miss out!
If you can't make it, click here to purchase your own copy of this exciting and fascinating book. Friend in a Shell by Dawn Meredith

Want to know about my other books?