Archive for the ‘voice’ Category


When I grow up I want to be a writer…

When my brother grows up he wants to be a rock star…

When my  children grow up they will look at their mother and their uncle and see a pair of old crazies doing what they wanna do and being what they wanna be, yeah…

When you grow you grow up, what do you want to be?

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To prologue or not to prologue, that is the question…our middle grade novel, Dirt Busters, A Cracker & Gilly Mystery, was originally called, Old Bones, and was based on the bones of a WW1 aboriginal soldier and and an ancient burial site. The site was being turned into a housing development and Cracker and the gang were determined to stop this happening.

Despite rewriting the preface to our story a zillion times, I made an executive decision to cut it. That’s the advantage of being executive but my co-author is still mad…and that’s okay because our novels are based on sibling squabbles, and our co-aurthorship has more than its fair share – yep, exactly like Cracker and Gilly, and yep, Gilly always wins, sort of, because her creator is the one who makes the executive decisions in our co-authoring team. And Cracker always saves her because that’s what big brothers do.

And being an Indie author team, I figure we can always put the prologue back in one day, and change the name back to Old Bones…but here are the reasons I made the decision I did (yeh, I know, self-justification is no justification:))…

1. My beta readers – Yr 5 & 6 kids – wanted to get straight to the action

2. I’ve been following the prologue/no prologue debate for years and it seems the no prologue team always have good reasons not to prologue

3. I wasn’t confident of our material – I don’t know a lot about our aboriginal history

4. With the right research and help I can always include it in a future edition

5. It’s a great talking point in my writing workshops and my students always engage (maybe I’ll put it in our non-fiction writing book as a discussion point for writers)

6. I went with the old maxim, if in doubt leave it out…

7. Our publisher agreed with me

But I still like our prologue…as my co-author says, it has just the right amount of spookiness…what do you think?




THE night air was thick and pungent with wood smoke emanating from a fire built high above the tide line where a group gathered under the light of the full moon recently risen from the west.

It was a night like no other Tanjatjiri could remember and the thought made him uneasy. He sniffed at the air as he watched the men of the Wulbunga people dance the corroboree.

Namittitnan, middle-aged and spry, danced to the rhythm of the night, as did his son,Nappittitan, beside him. Karipcoycae and his son, too, danced and Tarijatjiri momentarily forgot his worries as his gaze rested on his own young son who swayed at the feet of his elders, ready to take his place amongst them although he was only seven.

These people looked up to Tarijatjiri, the men and boys of the Wulbunga, and as their leader, Tarijatjiri took his duties seriously, which was why on this night of dance he stood to one side and tried to understand what it was that made him uneasy.

Ochre outlines painted onto the skins of the dancers, with feathers attached by animal fat long horded, showed the care each man took to present himself to the “old ones”.

From his vantage Tarijatjiri could see the sea, the sky, and the land where the men danced and as he gazed around him there was nothing amiss. Yet still he was uneasy. The melodious ‘r’ rurr r’ rurr r’ rurr’ of the dozen didgeridoos played in time to the pounding of the surf as it crashed onto the beach added to his unease.

As the dancers clapped the flats of two nulla-nullahs together, the sharp ‘slap slap’ emphasizing the driving beat, Tanjatjiri turned back to the shadows where the sea met the sky and frowned.

And from deep within him came a guttural cry.

He began to run, his words of warning unable to compete with the ancient rhythms around him, of pounding feet and the fury of clapping wood sticks. It was the crescendo of the tribal dance and as Tanjatjiri ran his brain was filled with the sounds of the dancers, but still he heard it, above the sounds, louder than the sea and the earth combined, and he knew that his warning would come too late.

As the men of the Wulbunga tribe danced to a rhythm passed down from father to son for as long as Tanjatjiri could remember, the big wave struck.


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I dare you not to be inspired by my young friend, Briana’s, story…what do her illustrations suggest…


My mind is racing….who is the girl…what are her motivations…what is her journey….


Give her some friends and a setting…and suddenly I have a plot for a story…

I didn’t expect it and I didn’t ask for it…but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, inspiration comes when I least expect it.

Who is the girl and how will her story unfold…


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soldier for web
soldier for web

Ideas for stories are all around us. In my local newspaper today is a story about a little known role of Australian soldiers in WW1.

It made me think about our recently released middle grade novel, Dirt Busters, and where our inspiration came from – although my co-author and I disagree about whose idea it actually was – to save fights I’ll use the words ‘we’ and ‘ours’ – but the more I think about it the more I realise our idea grew – as ideas do – like topsy.


medal for web

We found an article and we liked the idea of an old medal and we already had the setting – a development site – and an old professor turned up and we found him a shack to live in and we started to ask questions like what was the professor doing down the coast in an old shack and – boys being boys – our characters, Cracker, Trann and Bone had to follow him to see what he was up to…and our girl character, Gilly, being Gilly, had to have plans of her own and so a billy cart race was born with the race taking place – yep, you guessed it – at the development site.

As ideas go, it’s turned out to be a good one as so far the response to our novel has been great and we keep getting asked when is our next book being released.

And here’s the article that inspired it:

Moruya Examiner, 23 August, 1919:

On Friday night last Pte, Frank Stewart was the recipient of the usual Shire address and a presentation from the Bay to honor him as a returned Australian soldier. The occasion was rather unique, in as much as the ceremony too place during the interval of a picture show. To this entertainment about 50 of Private Stewart’s friends and relatives from the Aboriginal Reserve had been invited. The presentation was made y Mr D F Mackay and was received by much acclamation and to the accompaniment of the indispensable leaf strains of music…

(Please note, the aborigine pictured in this blog post is not Frank Stewart…)





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On finding your voice…

There’s a fair bit of information out there nowadays about collaborative writing…the good, the bad and the downright ugly…and one of the biggies is finding an authentic voice for your story. Not only did we combat that particular problem early on (because we were so naive we didn’t know there was supposed to be a problem in the first place) it has actually turned out to be one of the biggest strengths for our series of middle grade mystery novels.

Our boy/girl approach is quite a hit with kids and ‘boys against girls’ competitiveness is something that happens naturally around the ages of 9-12…luckily for us, it seems, my brother and I never grew out of it. What follows is an excerpt from our upcoming ‘Growing Up Writing’ non-fiction book that’s taking on a life of its own as the focus leans more and more towards collaborative writing and the pure joy of sharing the writing process with another person…and the boost to your creativity this sharing of ideas encourages.

I asked Richard what he felt about co-authoring having written three books together…yeh, it was a brave question and I had a faint worry that what he said would be unprintable and that there may never be a fourth mystery novel to fight over…but being the blogger of our duo, I could always delete the bits I didn’t like…for my part how much more fun can a middle aged woman have than beating up on her brother and making money out of it?

Out of the mouths of boys…

I have written three novels, collaboratively, with my younger sister, Lindy.

These novels started with Lindy sending me the first chapter of the first novel with the instruction, ‘your turn.’ The story commenced on a cliff top with a rather dangerous track running down it that my sister(s) and brother and I raced up and down as children. We knew the place extremely well. Set at Malua Bay, near Batemans Bay, the South Coast of NSW we had grown up there, and this area is the setting for the three novels.

There are a number of positives inherent in writing collaboratively, the first being, in my view, I am at last getting a glimpse of situations from a female perspective. A glimpse that seems, at times, cluttered and meandering and at other times cold and clinical. The female interpretation on a given occurrence or ‘happening’, when written, is surprising and certainly adds a fullness to my own stumbling efforts. Things that seem clear and exciting to me are rushed over while other things are seized upon and embellished.

Sharing with a female, a sister, as strong willed and as intelligent as mine is daunting, demanding and educational. I am sometimes amazed at the clarity and descriptiveness which my sister brings to each task. Secondly, it is good for me to have someone with talent and education who can bring sense to my childish dabbling’s, someone who has the ability to construct sentences correctly and speak in the correct idiom although the novels are set in a ‘years gone by’ era and I am allowed speak in an ‘Australianism’ that perhaps is sadly, fading away to be replaced by Americanisms.

There are of course negatives to collaborative writing. Heated discussions about who is responsible for progressing the story line, what direction the plot should head, down to the paragraph settings on the computers we both use. She in Far North Queensland and me in Southern NSW. Conflicting ideas on who should edit the stories are something I have great difficulty with, when I have written something it’s finished with – maybe that’s a male thing, I just cannot go back and change things. Hats off to Lindy, she is a great editor. Secondly, I think sometimes females fly off on an unimportant tangent that does not follow a logic, not one that I can see. Maybe I’m just dumb (happily so).

The three novels, to me, are gentle tales from not so long ago, when we made our own fun by having adventures. The stories are warm and familiar, are an attempt, at least on my part, to encourage readers, no matter where they live, or what age they are, to look on the bright side, to take what’s at hand and go with it, to never give up and never settle for anything other than giving one hundred present to everything.

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