I know it's not very good but it took hours to put the whole thing together! I'm g
This is the winning design for Christmas Calamity. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who participated on Facebook. Congratulations to Debbie (surname withheld). Debbie won a free illustrated copy of Christmas Calamity!
A Christmas Calamity... An Introduction
Who wouldn't want a robot that looked exactly like they did? How much fun would it be to go on adventures saving dogs with your robot double? Can we really blame Astro for ruining Christmas then?
Well, yes, actually. Astro thinks that his robot double can be reprogrammed to be good. He is sadly mistaken. After his robot double injures Santa and the reindeer it is up to our brave heroes to save Christmas. Let's face it, driving a sleigh and giving out presents can't be that hard surely? But what happens when the sleigh is stolen right from under their very noses? Who is swapping presents and burning Christmas angels? Who would dare to write rude things about Santa using Christmas lights?
And who will eventually save us all from this terrible Christmas Calamity?
In this story from the Astro's Adventures series you'll meet a young enthusiastic Border collie named Laddie, three very cheeky ducklings and you’ll learn about some of Santa's secret powers. Joining the fun is our team of heroes, Commander Rocky, Stella D'oro, Alfie, Digger, Indy, Hans, Dingo and of course, Astro - our kind hearted reluctant hero. Not to mention, a guest appearance from Santa Claus himself!
I want our opinion about these covers. I can't make my mind up which one I like best so I'm asking for your help. Please vote for the one you like by either clicking on the image or the link below. You'll be taken to the Facebook entry - Please like the post and comment under whether you prefer Cover 1 or Cover 2. I'll pick someone at random on Friday (Australian time) and they'll receive a free eBook copy of the book!
I loovvee COVER 1
I really loooveee COVER 2
Vote now and win!
Rocky and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Pakenham Library to participate in a new project they have adopted. The new project is designed to encourage children to read more and to enjoy it too!
The library is encouraging children to read to their dogs. It's a wonderful idea because dogs are non-judgmental. In the picture I think Rocky is pointing out his favorite part to the little boy.
The dogs don't care if you don't say a word correctly or you stammer a bit. Dogs just love being with close to people. The children love it, too.
Both children who read to Rocky were given a copy of Rocky's book, Understanding Your Dog: A Guide for Humans written by a Dog. You can get your own copy by clicking the highlighted text or the Amazon link below.
The picture below is the lovely Thank You card sent to us by one of the children. It is lovely and Rocky and I will treasure it forever!
Most of the organisations who are running this project are looking for volunteers. So, why not check them out?
For more information please visit these great sites:
Reading with Rover - http://www.readingwithrover.org/
Library Dogs - http://www.librarydogs.com/
Story Dogs - http://www.storydogs.org.au/
There's something exciting about having to write about something given specific guidelines and limitations. This is an exercise I like doing because although it appears to be limited it in fact opens a whole range of possibilities.
Writing about a super hero has certainly be done before but not quite like this...
1. Walk into a room with a pen and paper
2. Turn around and write down the first thing you see. For example it might be cup or the curtains.
3. In front of this item write the color of the curtains or the couch.
This is going to be the name of the super hero in your story. I did this and came up with Brown Jug!
4. Now repeat the exercise in a different room to come up with the name of the baddie in your story.
5. Now you’ll need a disaster that your baddie has created in an effort to gain world dominance. I know it’s a bit cliché but it’s a fun idea. Have a look online or in a newspaper for a disaster. Don’t use the specific details. Instead, chose something general like a plane crash, earthquake etc.
6. Now you have to write a story about how your super hero saves the day. You must include the following:
a. His or her super power
b. The enemies super power
c. How your super hero is going to save the day
I joined Inkbok several months ago because I believe that people should have access to as many books as they like. I have uploaded two of my titles and plan to upload more soon. You can join for less than $5 per month and have access to a wide selection of texts - fictional and non fictional. Authors get a better deal too so in this crazy changing world of publishing it's worth checking Inkbok out!
From the webpage:
Inkbok is a subscription based digital library of published and self-published material. Our collection includes books, journalism, articles, academic papers, essays, poems, short stories and more.
Inkbok offers two membership plans for readers: (1) Free Membership (2) Unlimited Access Membership. Free members gain unlimited reading of Royalty-Free works and Unlimited Access members pay $4.95 per month and gain unlimited reading of all works.
Publishers and authors can upload their written material to Inkbok for free and gain royalties whenever their work is read. Inkbok utilizes a unique royalty model where publishers/authors share in the Total Gross Revenue from the website.
Our vision is to build the world's largest collection of stories and ideas and place it at everyone's fingertips for a low monthly cost, while ensuring that the creators of these works receive competitive royalties. Through the Inkbok community, we hope to offer great opportunities for exposure to aspiring, self-published and published authors. Additionally, we desire to encourage people of all ages to spend more time reading and discovering. And finally, our goal is to become a community of action by reaching out beyond ourselves to give to those in need.
This is a great video. I'm including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in my latest book, Neptune's Trident. I want to raise awareness in young readers to pollution in the sea. At the end of the book I'll include links so my young readers can see the devastation themselves. The book will be available as a print copy with colour illustrations or as an ebook (this is just a matter of weeks away) here: http://www.astrosadventures.com or at Amazon.com - This is the link to the video on Youtube: http://youtu.be/y5y1W5xduiE
I just received this email:
Your interior and cover files for A Christmas Calamity, #4698752 meet our technical requirements for printing.
The next step in the publishing process is to proof your book.
What this means is that the publishers have checked the book's formatting and given it the okay to be published. What I am required to do is order a proof copy. This is just a copy of the book with the word 'proof' printed on the last page.
If the book looks and reads just the way I want it then the next step is to publish it.
This is one of the most exciting and yet daunting steps for any author. It means that all the work I have put in to writing the manuscript, creating the illustrations and then formatting them so they all fit neatly on to the page is completed. As well as the illustrations, I also include coloured paws running through the pages and the Spylinks.
The scary part is hoping beyond hope that there are no mistakes and the book can go straight through to the publishing stage. I have spent the last three months preparing the book - editing and formatting - so that it will be perfect but we all know there's no such thing as perfection. I can only hope that if the books does have errors they are minor. For example, in Gypsy Curse, some of the coloured paws are not positioned properly on the page. I know most people wouldn't notice but when you are so involved in your work these are the things that drive designers crazy!
Stay tuned... as soon as I have the proof copy in my hands I'll post some pics.
Check out the other five titles in the Astro's series here.
This is a picture of how my whiteboard looks at the moment. I don't suppose you can understand much of what it says but you can see how much 'thinking' has gone on.
Anyone who teaches brainstorming or mind mapping will tell you there's no right or wrong way to do this type of thing. The most important thing is the end result.
My latest book, Neptune's Trident, had hit a wall. I had five characters or groups of characters and I didn't know how I was going to bring them all together and end the book.
I have Astro and the dogs, Speed Bump Charlie, the gang of Pirate Catfish, Neptune the god of the sea and a small crab floating on a raft of rubbish. I also have Icky the Ugliest Dog in the World as a guest character. Each one plays an important role in the way the story ends and I need to get them all to the same spot. This is where the whiteboard and the coloured markers come in.
At the top, I listed the characters in different colours. Then I began I wrote down at the bottom of the board what was going to happen in the end. After that, I set out filling the spaces in between. I think it’s important that each character gets their fair share of the fanfare in the end. There are also minor characters I would like to involve even if it’s only for a couple of lines.
This story has a lesson about garbage that is left in the ocean and how it is accumulating en masse poisoning the oceans. If we don’t take care with the ocean we will be destroying a vital part of our environment. The little crab, who has only a minor part, plays an important role in delivering this lesson.
After brain storming or nutting out the plot lines I now know where I need to go and what I need to cover in this story. There will be the usual twists and turns and comic elements I so enjoy writing into my stories too. And, of course, the ending will lead into the next book (Hint… I think it’s going to be a space story).
I plan to have the final draft of Neptune’s Trident finished by mid-April. Then I can start the illustrations. This is one of my favourite jobs!
While I’m doing the illustrations I will ask my friends and editors to look at the draft thus beginning the editing process.
I have attempted to make a video of this task because it is a lot easier to explain that way. Unfortunately, I am really bad at making videos. I spent the morning practising and trialling my techniques only to find that my phone wouldn’t or couldn’t upload the darn thing! It was two hours of frustration! However, I persevered and downloaded Movie Maker and hopefully it’ll run smoothly for you! You can also watch it on YouTube.
This story is an old tale that I used to share with my children. You can draw any picture as long as the lines you are drawing correspond in some way to the story. For example, if you’re drawing a fish’s scale you might say the character was whooshing along on a skateboard mimicking the shape of the fish’s scales.
Once you’ve demonstrated this type of storytelling to your children ask them to have a go themselves. They can use this story or another one they’ve created.
This is the script I used. It doesn’t matter if you don’t repeat it exactly the same. If you practise reading the story and drawing the picture you’ll get a good understanding of how it works.
An Old lady lived in a small house. She was very cold. It was winter and she had no wood for her fire. So, she decided to go and find some.
She left her house went down the path, around the corner and up the hill. When she got to the woods, she went deep inside to find some wood but here was none there. She walked along the path and decided to try again. She went back into the woods but still there was no sticks or wood she could use to make a fire.
She thought, “What am I to do? I will certainly freeze if I don’t find some wood for my fire. I know, I’ll go into town and ask my friends if they have any wood they can lend me.”
She went down the valley and up the hill. She made her way into town and walked down the long street. She got to Mr Brown’s street and walked right to the end. She knocked on his door.
“Excuse me, Mr Brown, but do you have any wood I could borrow for my fire?” she asked.
“No, none at all!” Mr Brown said.
The old lady went back down Mr Brown’s street and thought, “I’ll visit my friend Mr Black.”
So, she went down Mr Black’s street. She knocked on his door.
“Excuse me, Mr Black, but do you have any wood I could borrow for my fire?” she asked.
“No! I am sorry, none at all!” Mr Black said.
“Ah well,” The old lady said. I will keep looking.
Half way down Mr Black’s street she noticed some trees on top of big hill.
“There are bound to be some bits of wood I can use in my fire up there!” she exclaimed and she climbed up and up the big hill.
There weren’t any bits of wood at all and the poor old lady had to come back down again.
Then she saw a bridge. “I will crawl under the bridge and see if there are any bits of wood under it,” the old lady said.
She crawled under the bridge but found nothing. Then she saw another hill. She skipped up it quickly but again there were no bits of wood to be found.
“I know!” the old lady declared, “I will go to my friend, Mr White, and ask him if he has any wood I can borrow.”
She walked down Mr White’s street and knocked on his door.
“Excuse me, Mr White, but do you have any wood I could borrow for my fire?” she asked.
“No! None at all! Now, go away I’m busy!” Mr White said.
The old lady was very sad. She walked up the hill towards her home. “What am I going to do?” she thought to herself. “I will certainly freeze if I don’t have wood for my fire. How will I keep warm?”
As she was getting close to her home she saw something that was really amazing. She rushed up the hill and around the corner.
Outside her home were bundles and bundles of sticks waiting in front of her front door for her. The old lady was very happy. She gathered up the sticks and went inside and lit the fire. The smoke came out of the chimneys as she warmed herself.
“Who has left this wood by my front door for me? Who could have done such a kind thing?” the old lady said.
Can you guess?
Here is my latest guest post on Mom-Spot - How to Read Out Loud to your Child. It's a great site full of information no parent should be without.
My article looks at how to use your voice and gestures to engage and excite your child about stories and reading. It discusses the importance of children 'hearing' how our language should sound out loud so they can emulate this and learn valuable communication skills. Check out my article here:
Check out World Book Day here: http://www.worldbookday.com
It's a fantastic initiative to help encourage children to read. Books are offered for just £1 to children all over the UK and Ireland.
There's also tips for young writers from published authors and lots of fun activities.
Here is a sneak peek at the next additions to the Spylinks range. Spylinks are special weblinks that are hidden in the pages of my Astro books (From Major Dakota's Ghost onwards).
The links take the reader to a secret web page where they'll find games, activities and much more!
You can only find the links within the pages of the book. They are not posted anywhere else. They are available in the print and eBook editions of my books.
Spylinks add more value and fun to each title. I love creating them. I enjoy the challenge and get to call on my years of teaching too!
When you're looking for Spylinks just look for the Spylinks hound on the cover.
One of my blog posts is going to be published on Mom Spot - a wonderfully informative website for moms of all ages. It has articles on creativity, cooking, cleaning and heaps more. My post will appear on March 13 at 10 am. My post is about how to read to your child. I look at the use of voice and gestures to engage your children in the art of storytelling. Don't forget to mark the date in your diary and in the meantime check out the other great articles on Mom Spot here.
Here is a short story I wrote to encourage students to write. It gives the basic outline and then asks students to insert words - nouns and adjectives in particular.
This way the child gets to choose the details of the story. I’ve added suggestions in brackets just to get their creativity flowing but there are no right or wrong answers. Right click and copy the story and have a go yourself. I'm sure the young writers in your family will really enjoy this interactive story.
Once you've got the knack as the children to write a story like this for someone else. All they have to do is leave out certain words.
You can also focus on different words. As I said this story asks for nouns and adjectives but if you were teaching about verbs or adverbs why write a story about that too. Or you could focus on emotions or even pronouns. Think about a popular story like Little Red Riding Hood. How does the story change if we alter the female pronouns to male?
You can purchase the whole story here for 99c https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/76991 or you can ask your young writer to finish the story off themselves.. enjoy!
THE WHISPERING CASTLE
In was late one night when I heard a loud ____ (crashing, banging) sound coming from the _____ (loft, spare room, basement). I climbed out of bed and picked up my lucky ______. Stumbling through the house in the dark, I felt a cold chill and smelt something weird. Although I couldn't be sure, it smelt just like ______ (cookies, burnt toast, Dad’s aftershave).
When I got to the ______ (loft, spare room, basement) I noticed a large hole in the side of the ______ (wall, door, ceiling). As I leaned closer the weird smell increased. I was feeling a little frightened but curiosity got the better of me and I looked deeper into the hole. As my eyes adjusted I could see a ______ (ladder, staircase, rope) waiting for me to climb. Tucking my lucky ______ under my arm I carefully climbed through the hole and my adventure began.
I no sooner took three steps down the ______ when I felt myself falling through the air. I tried to scream but only ______ (air, frogs, crackling) came out of my mouth. I held onto my lucky ______ tightly. I wished I had stayed in bed and not heart the loud ____ (crashing, banging) sound.
It only took a few seconds and I fell into a large ______ (cave, opening, pit). I stood up quickly and brushed the dirt off me. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust because it was very dark.
Around me where seven doors each one had a different ______ (colour, symbol, picture) on it. There was a ______ door, a ______ door, a ______ door, a ______ door, a ______ door, a ______ door and a ______ door.
There was no other way out so I squeezed my lucky ______ and entered the ______ door.
Wow! I couldn't have ended up in a more magical place. As soon as I opened the ____ door, the sun lit up the ______ (cave, opening, pit) and I was surrounded by light. When my eyes adjusted I saw ______ dancing with each other and ______ lying together in the sunshine. There was a large fountain that had ______ flowing out of it. Some cheeky ______ were letting it run into their hands and they were licking it off.
As I walked through this magical place I saw several ______ flying together. They had strong wings that seemed to glisten and glow in the sunlight. I saw a special school for all the ______ where they were taught all sorts of interesting things like ______, ______ and ______.
After I had walked for ______ minutes, I noticed a little ______ sitting alone and crying. He was sitting beside a ______ and had both of his hands covering his face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked the little ______.
“I dropped my mother’s shopping list down this ______,” he sobbed. “I remember that my mother had written down to buy a ______ and a ______ and a ______, but there was one other item and I can’t remember what that was!” The little ______ howled and sobbed.
“I will try and help you,” I offered.
I leaned forward and stretched my arm into the ______. At first I couldn't feel anything but as I stretched deeper and deeper I did feel something but it wasn't a shopping list.
I told the little ______, “It just feels like a ______.
Just then I heard a terrible laugh. It sounded like a ______ and it really frightened me. I was just about to pull my arm out of the ______ when a ______ grabbed me tightly and pulled me in.
I yelled to the little ______ to save me but it was too late. I was dragged into the ______ quickly. There was nothing I could do to stop it. It was dark and I could smell that same smell I smelt at home. It was just like ______.
I suddenly found myself back in the ______ surrounded by the seven doors. Next to me was the little ______’s shopping list. I picked it up and looked at it. The last item on it was a ______. No wonder he couldn't remember it.
I looked up and noticed a wicked ______ hiding in the corner. She made the same terrible laugh that I had heard before I was dragged in the ______.
“You think you’re so clever,” cackled the wicked ______. “You had better buy the items on the shopping list or you’ll never be able to find your way home!”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Up until now I had been really curious about this strange place. I had never thought about getting home.
“You are trapped here,” she croaked. “If you help me, I’ll help you get home! All you have to do is buy the things on the list and return them to the little ______. Then I will grant you your freedom!”
“But I don’t have any money,” I said. “What will I use to buy these items?”
“That is not my problem!” she yelled and with that she laughed louder and louder and then, all of a sudden, she vanished in a puff of ______ the colour of ______.
I looked at the seven doors. There was no use going through the ______ one again. I knew what was on the other side of that one. So this time I chose the ______ door and gently opened it.
What happens next?
What other exciting things can you write about?
Purchase the whole story here or 99c https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/76991
Sign up for my lazy eNewsletter. I'll send out games and puzzles and information about my books every now and then ... if I feel like it.
I just read this interesting article from Media Bistro and I have to admit I'm a little bit grumpy! Not only are female authors being reviewed less but female reviews are not getting their articles published.
This is the article:
Books written by women are reviewed on average much less than books written by men, according to the annual VIDA count a report that tracks gender inequality in literary publications.
The organization looked at the number of women whose books were reviewed, as well as the number of female reviewers in 39 literary publications and found that some are more gender balanced than others. Gender-biased publications included The New York Review of Books which published 212 book reviews written by male reviewers in 2013, and only 52 by female reviewers. In addition, The London Review of Books reviewed 245 books written by men last year and only 72 written by women.
Not every publication was so biased. The Paris Review was very balanced with 47 men and 48 women represented overall. Granta reviewed books by 30 females and 36 males.
While the article only gives us only a few facts it does open a whole can of worms about how female authors are viewed in the literary world. There are some pertinent questions too, such as:
Surely, we’re not saying that women are not as good as men!
Do women write more romance or children’s books that reviewers deem as not worthy for review?
What does this mean for our young writers who are aspiring to become published authors?
More importantly what can we do about it?
Should we women authors address the balance by starting our own women only review group or should be appeal to the other half of our species to help address the imbalance?
Hmm…. Let me think…..
I just noticed this colour image of an envelop with a rainbow coming out of it. When I clicked on it I was taken to my new eNewsletter sign up form. How cool is that? I tested it and it worked really well. You don't have to go to Facebook to sign up, there's a form below the pic. But if you would like to catch up on Facebook you can find me here: https://www.facebook.com/sdayauthor
Hey everyone! I've just finished putting together this Activity Sheet for my books. I thought they'd be great to give away and leave at cafes and restaurants.
The sheet features all the dogs from my books, Astro, Indy, Alfie, Digger, Hans, Stella, Dingo and Rocky. There are lots of games and activities for children of all ages. You could also use them for travelling in the car or for children's parties - The games are designed to meet the needs of a wide age range and there's lots of pictures to color in too.
I drew each of the images separately and then built the sheet using Publisher 2013 (my new best friend!) I'd really appreciate your feedback too.
To get your FREE copy please email me at email@example.com and just put "Activity Sheet" in the subject box - I'll send it as soon as I can.
I'll send you a pdf copy ready to printed on an A4 sheet.
When I read through this list I had to admit that when I use these words I don't really know exactly what they mean. Well, I know what they mean but I am not completely on top of their exact meaning. That's why I decided to share this graphic. If you want to see it for yourself click here.
To develop my writing skills and further education I decided to do the following exercises for each word. Why don't you do the same and ask your children too. This exercises are great for middle to senior high school students.
1 - Write the word in lower case and then in upper case. I find this helps with the spelling.
2 - Look the word up in a dictionary and re-write its definition in your own words.
3 - Use a thesaurus and find words of a similar meaning.
4 - Find the word's antonym.
5 - Use the word in a sentence. Then add two to three more sentences further explaining the word.
6 - Create a dialogue between two characters where one person uses the word and another asks them for an explanation.