If you are writing a graphic novel, a chapter book or a picture book this workshop is for you.
Gondor Writers’ Centre will be conducting writing workshops starting soon. Guest presenters will be invited to take some of these workshops.

KevThe first of our guest presenters for the year is Kevin Burgemeestre. Kevin is coming to Brisbane to launch his new novel, Kate, and has graciously agreed to conduct a workshop while he is here. Check out the course details below. Don’t know Kevin or his work? Check out his profile here. http://www.gondorwriterscentre.com/our-team—illustration-and-cover-art.html

 DATE: March 1st & 2nd

TIME: 10 am to 12 noon – 1pm to 3pm

VENUE: The Memorial Hall Caboolture

Create a story in four panels

A 2 day story workshop in words and pictures

Kevin Burgemeestre


Day 1: Getting it Write: Developing a story idea in parts.

Show some character:
What makes your character an individual? We will workshop their gender, size, characteristics and dress. We will also explore how they speak or what sounds they make.

Exploring a dramatic arc:
After your character is found tension will be essential to a story. What challenge does your character face? We will think about obstacles and what particular trait your character possesses that could help overcome their challenge.

What event or scene would show the reader/viewer how the character is facing or overcoming the challenge you pose. We will investigate how your character is coping. We will think about ploys to surprise your audience and encourage them to be an active part of imagining the tale.


Grey lead pencils, biros and pads, dazzling ideas.

Day 2: Picture That: Illustrating Your Story in four panels

Getting down and dirty with illustration.

Visualise your tale in four illustrations:
Just as though we are making a movie, we’ll develop a story board to demonstrate how images will tell your story and how to use expressions, body language, and gestures to communicate what characters are feeling.

We will ensure each panel reveals new information and demonstrate how to use composition and cropping in a frame to show viewers exactly what you wish to communicate.

It’s Behind You:
We’ll explore how background and setting can support your story.

Materials: Charcoal, fixative, scissors and glue sticks, imagination, & fearlessness.

Bookings are essential. This is a hands-on workshop so places are limited. To avoid disappointment, book early. Cost 2 days for $200. Payment must be made at time of booking.

Phone Elaine on 54 981 332, email elaine@gondorwriterscentre.comor choose the PayPal button on the WORKSHOP LIST page.

Check out the other workshops we will be conducting and send me your email address if you are interested in learning more. www.gondorwriterscentre.com

A review from the UK for Kate

Dinker Bear coverReview by Debbie Cullen

Author of The Dinker Bears series.


Kate by Kevin Burgemeestre

kate coverTwo young lives, Kate and Mal, from two totally different backgrounds, are bought together by one small act. From then on, their lives are inextricably intertwined as the two are forced together because of Mal’s past.

Kate’s life had been tainted with sadness, but was a fairly normal young girl’s life. Mal, on the other hand, had a very traumatic life for one so young and was living on the edge.

When Kate rescues a pathetic looking dog, tied up and injured outside a rough looking property, she meets Mal for the first time when she knocks on his door to ask about the dog and finds him rude, rough and a bit scary. She decides the dog needs care and steals him and takes him to be cared for at the local pound.

Unbeknown to Kate, Mal’s unsavoury past meant he was being watched by some rather nasty characters, and now, she was too.

They meet again when Kate is attacked in the park; Mal comes to her rescue. An unlikely friendship develops and Kate finds herself warmed towards this rough character, but soon his past catches up and Kate is embroiled into a world she didn’t know existed. Before she can gather her thoughts, she’s thrown into fear and confusion as she and Mal, end up running for their lives.

At first, I found this book a little difficult to get into. I found the authors way of writing a little confusing, but once I was able to connect, I enjoyed the read and the story flowed better.

It kept me reading and wanting to know what happens next, especially toward the end when it seemed impossible for them to escape.

It’s fast moving so no time for page skipping.

I’d like to know what happened to their friendship afterwards, how they managed to stay friends and where they’re at now; always a sign of a good book when the characters stay with you once you’ve turned the last page!

I would recommend this book as it covers quite a few spectrums, from loneliness to loyalty and friendship and from regret, failure and anger to achievement, self-worth and encouragement.

An exciting journey from the city to the Australian outback, told in a way that will make you feel you’re there.

A young readers review of Kate by Kevin Burgemeestre

When I am evaluating a manuscript I send it to a few keen readers in my circle. This review by a young writer helped me make the decision to publish.  I couldn’t contact her to get permission to use her name, so I am leaving it out.

kate coverReview by an emerging writer 15 years:

Kate by Kevin Burgemeestre is an entertaining story about a young girl named Kate who finds herself being hunted by strange men. She has no idea who they or what they want. She soon has to go on the run if she wants to stay safe, accompanied by the mysterious Mal and the dog she rescued from the street, Wilde.

Kate is a strong character who refuses to get swept away by frightening events in her life, and grows even stronger as the story progresses. Her kindness to Wilde and to Mal makes Kate a memorable and loveable character who refuses to give up when trouble comes her way. Mal and Kate soon form an unlikely friendship and learn that they must trust each other if they are to stay safe.

The plot is engaging and complete with high-speed car chases, fights and suspenseful hunts through the woods. I found it hard to put down and had to read it in one session, but the satisfying ending was definitely worth it.

Overall, Kate was an entertaining read with memorable characters.


I know that you will love this story as much as she and I did.

Buy your copy today at your local bookstore. If it is not in stock, ask them to order it for you, or buy a signed copy from the Morris Publishing Australia website. Address below.

YOUR LAST CHANCE TO ENTER THE COMPETITION!! As part of the blog tour, we will give away a copy of Kate. To be in the draw, simply comment on the post and send an email of your comment to submissions@morrispublishingaustralia.com with the subject “Kate competition”. The draw will take place tomorrow morning. The winner will be notified by email and the name published on the webpage and on Facebook.  Good luck

Morris Publishing Australia – http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com
Dennis Jones and Associates: www.dennisjones.com.au
James Bennett library suppliers: www.bennett.com.au
The Nile Bookshop:  www.thenile.com.au

Meet the stars of An Aussie Year and enter our publishing competition

??????Tania McCartney has done it again. This book, An Aussie Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Australian Kids by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling is bound to be a winner. Today the characters from the book join me to tell me a little about being a star.

Character Interview – meet Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda

Hi kids, so lovely to have you visit today! Congratulations on the release of An Aussie Year. How much fun was it to star in this book?

Ned: It was so cool! I never thought a kid from the bush would ever get this chance—but I’ve had lots of fun. Shooting the book all over Australia was awesome. I even got to ride in a helicopter!

Zoe: And we all got to go to Alice Springs for the Henley on Todd Regatta—that was my favourite part of all. Imagine doing boat races in the desert!

Lily: A boat race. On sand. Not a river or creek in sight!

I bet you’ve had a lot of fun—and you must have seen heaps of Australia during book production. What other parts of Australia did you love visiting?

Kirra: I’d never been to Tasmania before. We had to look for platypus and I found one! When we went for afternoon tea later that day, we met a Tassie devil. She was so funny—she began eating the table leg!

Matilda: That was scary.

Kirra: No it wasn’t. The crocodiles were scarier!

Matilda: It’s all right for you—I had to wear a crocodile suit! [Laughs]

Zoe: I really liked ice skating at Jindabyne. That was fun.

Ned: Taronga Zoo for me. Hands-down. I got to play soccer with a seal. How many kids can say they’ve played soccer with a seal?

You also took a tour through the months of the year. Which events did you love exploring the most?

Lily: Book Week! That’s in August. I love love love it. I love to read. I also loved being the one to do April Fool’s Day. They turned my milk blue!

Matilda: But you didn’t drink it.

Lily: Yes I did! It tasted blue.

Kirra: I loved visiting the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. We got to ride on the Ferris Wheel. That’s in April, too.

Ned: My favourite time of the year is December. School finishes and you get to swim every day over Christmastime. It gets a bit hot out West, though.

Zoe: I loved doing Easter. Mum and Ya Ya make tsoureki bread. It’s sweet and delicious. You make it into a plait and you stick red eggs in it.

What have your friends and family said about starring in your own book?

Matilda: They’re jealous!

Zoe: My brothers and sister are, too!

Ned: But they’re very proud of us. We worked hard!

You worked closely with author Tania McCartney and illustrator Tina Snerling during production of the book. What are they like?

Kirra: Stress-heads! [Laughs]

Zoe: They are not! They were just very, very busy. They’re nice. [Insert heart shape with hands here]

Matilda: I really liked them. They let us eat the lollies we used for August.

Ned: Tina’s very good at drawing. I like cartooning, so she showed me a few tips.

Lily: Tania liked my short stories. She said maybe one day we could do a book together!

Why do you think the Aussie childhood should be celebrated?

Ned: Because we’re really, really, really lucky. Like, really lucky. And we have ANZAC cookies.

Kirra: And lamingtons!

Zoe: And the best mixed lollies, ever. Freckles, cobbers, yellow snakes …

Lily: Because we have really cool children’s book authors and illustrators. Maybe I’ll write kids’ books one day …

Matilda: I like Australia because of my friends. I like how Kirra and Zoe and Ned and Lily are all different to me. I like that very much.

Zoe: Aw! [another heart shape with hands]

Ned: Tilly’s right. It’s called diversity. That really needs to be celebrated. I think An Aussie Year does that.

You’re real literary celebrities now. What’s after An Aussie Year?

Kirra: I’m going surfing!

Matilda: You’re funny, Kirra.

Zoe: Well, I want to be an actress—everyone knows that, so maybe I can star in the movie version of the book.

Lily: I’ll write the script!

Kirra: I’m directing!

Ned: You know—just between you and me, I did hear Tania and Tina talking about a spin-off series, featuring us …

Zoe: How cool would that be!?

Ned: But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s just hope kids and mums and dads and teachers like An Aussie Year, Version One.

Matilda: I hope they love it!

Lily: I’m absolutely certain they will—it stars us!

Visit the An Aussie Year website (www.anaussieyear.com.au) to meet all the characters from the book, see updates and behind-the-scenes work. There’s also some Fun Activities for kids.

Win! A Publisher’s Desk Opportunity

Love to write? Dream of fast-tracking your manuscript right to the publisher’s desk? Here’s your opportunity to have the publishers at Morris Publishing Australia take a peek at your work.

Check out the submission guidelines right here, then send the synopsis and the first ten pages of your manuscript to  submissions@morrispublishingaustralia.com. Regular response times apply; see the website for details. One submission will be chosen to be published as and eBook and considered for a printed copy.

Book Info

An Aussie Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Australian Kids by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

(Oct 2013, EK Publishing, $19.99, hard cover, 9781921966248)

Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda––three Aussie kids keen to take you on a journey through a year in the life of Australian children, from cultural celebrations to traditions and events, to our everyday way of life.

An Aussie Year is a picture book bursting with national pride. It is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, covering our melting-pot culture, lifestyle and traditions. Its pages feature trailing, meandering text, dates and gorgeous illustrations showing our five Aussie children at play, at school, at home, enjoying their homeland––from the tropical north to our rugged west.

Trailing through the seasons and idiosyncrasies endemic to each month of the year, this is Our Australian Childhood.

About the Creators

Tania McCartney is a book-obsessed author, editor, reviewer, photographer, traveller, mum of two and wife of one. She simply adores words and paper—and would ingest them if she could (though she’ll settle for a good coffee). She frequently flits around cyberspace but can also be seen visiting schools and libraries, running workshops, reading to kids or pushing tomes onto unsuspecting shoppers in bookshops. Tania lives in Canberra, but would like to live inside a book. http://www.taniamccartney.com

Tina Snerling is a designer, illustrator, artist, web designer, seamstress and mum. She adores Paris, fabric, design and paper. She lives a very illustrated life—one day she’s creating children’s books, the next she’s creating websites (in between the washing and school lunches!). She’s the type who has a notebook by her bed because most good ideas happen when you’re supposed to be sleeping. She lives in Brisbane with her two gorgeous poppets and one gorgeous husband.

An Aussie Year Virtual Tour Schedule

Join Ned, Zoe, Lily, Kirra and Matilda on this journey around the webosphere, from 21 October to 21 November. There will be reviews, sneak peeks, guest posts and lots of fabulous giveaways including some publishing opps! See the entire tour schedule right here http://taniamccartney.blogspot.com/2013/09/an-aussie-year-virtual-tour.html

The story of a remarkable lady

Cover_Caroline Chisholm - mediumCaroline Chisholm: The Emigrant’s Friend

(New Frontier, Oct 2013, $14.95, paperback, 9781921928482)

Author: Tania McCartney
Illustrator: Pat Reynolds
For ages: 8–12
Type: Faction Novel, History Book

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Tania McCartney to visit with us to review her latest book.

Before reading her story of Caroline Chisholm, I knew a little about this amazing lady, but I had no idea what an astounding contribution she had made to the shaping of early Australia. How lucky Australia was that this courageous woman, born to a life of privilege, was raised with a strong sense of the importance of helping others, and the adventurous spirit that led her to our shores.

Without Caroline’s support network for young female migrants, brought to Australia to create the male/female balance, many would not have survived in the harsh environment they found themselves in on arrival on our shores. She not only helped to find them shelter, she started an agency to find them employment. She continued and expanded on this work during her lifetime. Just some of her achievements include networks to relocate women to areas where they could be gainfully employed, starting schools and reuniting families torn apart by fathers being sent to the colonies. And while she was busy doing all of this, she found time to raise a family and write Australia’s first non-fiction book. I was staggered by the many things that she achieved in her lifetime. This woman is an inspiration to all women.

I was also, once again, impressed with the writing style of Tania McCartney. That she could so seamlessly take the information her research presented to her and weave it into an engaging story of a woman who defied the convention
of her time is testament to her skill as a writer. While we follow the successes, tragedies and achievements of this extraordinary woman, we are given real insights into the harshness of the environment and the social issues that the first settlers faced.

Tania’s ability to create word pictures that allow us to imagine the scene, coupled with the wonderful illustrations, transports the reader back in time.

The Aussie Heroes series would not be complete without the story of Caroline Chisholm. This book is a worthy addition to the series. Well done, Tania.

‘If Captain James Cook discovered Australia––if John Macarthur planted the first seeds of its extraordinary prosperity––if Ludwig Leichhardt penetrated and explored its previously unknown interior––Caroline Chisholm has done much more: she has peopled—she alone has colonised in the true sense of the term.’
—Henry Parkes’s Empire newspaper, 15 August 1859.

The fifth book in the Aussie Heroes series of junior historical fiction, Caroline Chisholm: The Emigrant’s Friend is an illustrated chapter book for children aged 8 – 12, and covers the remarkable life and work of one our Australia’s greatest philanthropists. The book features beautiful illustrations by Pat Reynolds.

Tania McCartney Sept 2013 AAUTHOR BIO – FYI

Tania McCartney is an author of both children’s and adult books, and has been writing professionally for over 25 years. An experienced magazine writer and editor, she also founded respected literary site, Kids’ Book Review. She is passionate about literacy, and loves to speak on reading, books and writing. Her latest books include Eco Warriors to the Rescue! (National Library Publishing), Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo: A journey around Canberra (Ford Street), Caroline Chisholm: The Emigrant’s Friend (New Frontier) and An Aussie Year: Twelve months in the life of Australian Kids (EK Publishing). Tania adores books, travel, and photography. She lives in Canberra with her family, in a paper house at the base of a book mountain.



Follow Tania’s blog tour to find out more about this ‘must read’ book.

Monday 30 September

 GiveawayKids’ Book Review

ReviewKids’ Book Review

Author Interview Dianne Bates, Writing for Children

Writing Historical FactionPass It On

Researching Sweet CarolineSheryl Gwyther’s Blog

Tuesday 1 October                    

Review + Five Historical Faction Writing TipsDeeScribe

ReviewElaine Ouston Blog

The Coolest People in Australian History Soup Blog

Author InterviewMy Book Corner

Wednesday 2 October


Author InterviewBuzz Words   

ReviewAlison Reynolds

Blog Tour Wrap-UpTania McCartney’s Blog

A book for every home and classroom

Eco Warriors to the Rescue!
(National Library Publishing,

Aug 2013, $17.99, firm cover,


To today I welcome a very special guest, Tania McCartney, who is an amazing ambassador for reading and writing, founder of Kids Book Review, and a very talented writer. Her latest book, Eco Warriors to the Rescue, features very believable characters, Banjo, Matilda and Ned who embark on a magical adventure giving tips and advice on how to save the Australian landscape for future generations.

The book should be in every home and classroom. The information and tips on saving our wildlife, flora, and water-ways are something that many adults need. The use of photographs of children instead of cartoon characters will, I believe, make children relate to and absorb the information more readily. The colourful drawings of the plants add to the over-all appeal of the book and the detailed information on each plant is a valuable lesson for all. I wonder how many adults know this much about our native flora.

I congratulate the National Library and Tania for their foresight in creating and publishing this book.

eco warriors coverSynopsis:

Join Banjo, Matilda and Ned on a magical adventure into the Australian native landscape via a series of historic, beautifully-rendered botanical paintings.

Entering the very pages of their favourite book, the children interact with all manner of Australian flora including Kangaroo Paw, Wattle and Eucalypt. Along the way, these intrepid warriors seek ‘tips’ to ensure the survival of our native landscape for generations to come.

Can these eco-warriors help save our native flora from extinction?

Combining modern photography and typesetting with historical artworks from the archives of the National Library, Eco Warriors to the Rescue! makes our beautiful collection of botanical art accessible to the very young. The book also includes interesting facts about Australian flora, as well as floral emblems and birth months, and further ideas on how to keep Australian green.


Join Tania McCartney and her three real-life eco warriors—Banjo (Riley), Ned (Andrew) and Matilda (Claire)—as they launch Eco Warriors to the Rescue! at Canberra’s National Arboretum Gift Shop, Saturday 5 October 2013, at 11am.


Tania McCartney is an author of both children’s and adult books. An experienced magazine writer and editor, she also founded respected literary site Kids’ Book Review. She is passionate about literacy, and loves to speak on reading, books and writing. Her latest books include Eco Warriors to the Rescue! (National Library Publishing), Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo: A journey around Canberra (Ford Street), Caroline Chisholm: The Emigrant’s Friend (New Frontier) and An Aussie Year: Twelve months in the life of Australian Kids (EK Publishing). Tania adores books, travel and photography. She lives in Canberra with her family, in a paper house at the base of a book mountain.



Follow the book’s blog tour to learn more about this fabulous book.

Sunday 1 September

 Sneak Peek

Tania McCartney’s Blog



Boomerang Books Blog



Pass It On


Mixed Media Illustrations for Picture Books

Angela Sunde

Under the Apple Tree

Monday 2 September

Book Review

Book Giveaway

Kids Book Review


Eco Tips for Little Readers

Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog


Bringing Up Eco Warriors

The Book Chook



Books for Little Hands


Literature Supporting Sustainability

Children’s Books Daily


Author Interview

Alison Reynolds


Tuesday 3 September


My Little Bookcase



5 Multi-Media Writing Tips




Writing for the National Library of Australia




Elaine Ouston Blog




Soup Blog






If you love sci fi/fantasy you’ll love this book

The Princess and The Pirate – Book one of The Knights of Katesch

Published by Morris Publishing Australia. Comment on this post and go in the draw for a free copy.


02 19 13 cover new FRONTToday I have the pleasure of interviewing Royce Bond, author of the sci fi/fantasy novel The Princess and The Pirate – Book one of The Knights of Katesch a swashbuckling adventure of a Pirate, a Princess, and their followers as they fight to save the universe from evil forces.

Synopsis: These are the chronicles of the Knights of Katesch, who for time out of memory have fought the wizard Maligor, across all the dimensions of the known universe.

After the death of her mother Hibana, one of the famed Knights of Katesch, at the hands of a Kladath assassin, Princess Hepzebah faces the fight of her life. As the new queen, she has inherited her mother’s powers. The space pirate Captain Sergio runs the blockade to bring an unearthly army to fight the last battle against Maligor’s hordes. He has plans for this young queen, but his plans are hijacked and they are thrust into an inter-dimensional battle for the future of the known universe.

Q. What are the greatest obstacles you’ve experienced on your writing journey?

Tiredness. When I’m tired, I can’t write.  

Q. What do you love most about writing books f?

a) Creating worlds that I love slipping into myself and sharing these worlds with others.

b) Seeing and hearing the response of my readers.

Q. Have you had work previously published?

Yes, I have had 3 children’s science books, and 8 teacher reference books published, as well as dozens of magazine and newspaper articles.

 Have you won any awards?

 I was the first Queenslander and the first teacher from the bush to win the National B.H.P./C.S.I.R.O. Science Teacher’s Award.

Q. Is there anything special that you have done that a reader might be interested in?

I think my writing is my greatest achievement. I have created a world filled with exciting adventures that I hope will hook you in and not let you go until the book is finished and when it is finished you will breathlessly ask for more.

Q.  Other than writing, what else do you love?

My family, medieval re-enactment, gardening, making cheese, cooking, astronomy, playing the Irish whistle (or trying to play it, while not scaring the cats away), travel, kite flying, archery, telling stories, and much more.

Q. What were you in a past work life (if anything) before you became a writer?

a) Farm labourer

b) Storeman and packer in a furniture shop

c) Bank teller

d) Justice Clerk in the court house

e) Full time student

f) Wardsman

g) Preacher

h) Cleaner

i) Disability Program Officer

j) Painter

k) Teacher

Q. Describe your perfect day.

a) Wake before dawn in the middle of winter

b) Fire up my cob oven

c) Sip hot home brewed coffee in front of the fire while watching the sun rise.

d) Cook my breakfast in the oven

e) Spend a couple of hours writing

f) Work in my vegetable garden, have lunch

g) Afternoon sleep

h) More gardening

i) Cook dinner over the fire (I have a medieval fire place)

j) Watch movies with my family

Q. What five words best sum you up?

a) Loving, kind, loyal, future thinking


Thanks for taking the time to visit, Royce. Good luck with your book and your school tour.

 Thanks for asking me to visit. I hope I can inspire others to pursue their dream of becoming an author.

 Best wishes,


The Princess and the Pirate is available from your local bookstore.

Signed copies are available from the MPA website.


 Follow the blog tour get some great writing tips, read reviews, and learn more fascinating information about this author.


Monday August 12th:             http://morrispublishingaustralia.com Interview

Tuesday August 13th             http://diannedibates.blogspot.com.au/ Interview

Wednesday August 14th        http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com Interview

Thursday August 15th             http://www.elaineoustonauthor.com Interview

Friday August 16th                  http://www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au Interview

Saturday August 17th             http://www.losangzopa.wordpress.com Review

Sunday August 18th                       http://www.kids-bookreview.com interview

A very Jumpy Tour!

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the lovely Tania McCartney to my blog, as a hop-stop on the blog tour for the release of Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo – a journey around Canberra. Read on to learn more about this author and her writing process.

Riley the Jumpy Kangaroo cover MEDIUMRiley the Little Aviator has finally reached our capital! How do you decide where to send Riley and his crew each time a new book is released?

This year was easy, as it is Canberra’s 100th birthday—a perfect time for Riley to visit. I had actually planned on releasing the book at the end of 2012, in time for the start of the Centenary, but I’ve been overloaded with other books, and Jumpy Roo had to wait.

I think this small delay has worked out well, though, especially as I get to launch the book at Floriade, which will be extra huge this year.

Kieron Pratt is responsible for the adorable illustrations in your Riley series. How much fun is it to work with Kieron? He seems like a funny guy.

He’s hilarious. He’s like a cartoon character—seriously funny, and larger than life.

Kieron brings SO much to the Riley series. I love sending him an illustration brief then waiting to see what he comes back with. He injects so much MORE into whatever I envisage … so much humour, new insights, new ways of thinking. I’ve actually changed text to suit his illustrations.

Do other people ever suggest places for Riley to visit?

They do. Especially school kids. Of course, their first preference is always their very own school, followed by their very own house. And they all want to feature in the books, too (naturally).

During school presentations, I often ask kids where Riley should travel to next and the answers have been incredibly varied, although Antarctica, under the sea and the moon feature prominently.

Kieron and I have talked about a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa, for a Christmas book version. I’d love to do that. Of course, it would mean a trip to Finland for photos. What a shame.

This is the fifth book in the Riley series. What have you loved most about producing these books?

Definitely the travel aspect. I’m an insatiable traveller and I believe it’s an unparalleled way to expand and educate children, even if it’s to a nearby town or uncharted suburb.

I’ve also loved laying out the pages for the books—I have a deep affection for book design and have been doing it for some time. It’s so fantastic to work with a publisher that allows this opportunity—not only with Ford Street but also with my books for the National Library and Exisle’s new imprint, EK Publishing.

How have kids responded to the series?

I’ll never forget coming home from four years in Beijing with my first picture book—Riley and the Sleeping Dragon: a journey around Beijing—and believing it would tank. The book did really well with China’s expat community but I honestly never expected the book to attract Aussie kids. I was wrong.

Australian kids are some of the world’s best travelled and multicultural. I was shocked at how much kids embraced the book and this experience alone is why I made more books in the series.

I love how exploration and curiosity is central to the Australian child. Watching them armchair travel in my Riley books is a real joy for me. I love seeing them explore new places or recognise their own.

If you could choose any five destinations—anywhere, anytime—where would you send Riley next?

Oh golly. Outer space, definitely—scooting around the planets and the stars.

Then under the sea.

After that, I’d send him on a dream run to a string of tropical islands.

Then Narnia. Could you imagine?

Lastly, I would love to send him to the Arctic Circle to visit Santa’s workshop. (I really do want to go to Finland!)

Book Launch

The Jumpy Roo book launch is being held at Floriade this year! Anyone living in or visiting Canberra on 15 September is invited along, but RSVPs are essential if you want a goodie bag and balloon! You can find out more here.

You can also visit the Riley the Little Aviator website (www.rileyaviator.com) to see updates, learn more about the places Riley visits, and see behind-the-scenes work. There’s also some Fun Activities for kids.

Learn more about Tania’s books at her website – http://www.taniamccartney.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

Bound along with Roo on a Very Jumpy Tour! Monday 29 July to Thursday 1 August at the following destinations:

Full Blog Tour Schedule
Tania McCartney’s Blog

Book Giveaway
Kids Book Review

Interview and Review
Boomerang Books Blog


Children’s Books Daily


Instagram Book Giveaway
Posie Shoots

Review and Five Picture Book Writing Tips


Book Giveaway


Book Review
My Little Bookcase

Guest Post – Behind the Scenes
Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog

Review and Author Interview

Pass It On


Elaine Ouston Blog – On Writing



Creative Kids’ Tales

Guest Post – Roo’s Top 5 Canberra Stops
Bug in a Book

Author Interview
Soup Blog

Sneak Peek
Tania McCartney’s Blog

Too close to reality for comfort – A spine-chilling thriller

Not since the horror movies The Exorcist and The Silence of the Lambs has anything terrified me so much. I think the story is all the more terrifying because it is happening all over the world.

The Girl in the Basement by Dianne Bates is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Like all the other people who read this book, I read it in one sitting. You simply can’t put it down until the end. But don’t take my word for it, below is one of the many great reviews the book. This one is by author Jenny Mounfield.

The Girl in the Basement front newThe Girl in the Basement by Dianne Bates

Morris Publishing Australia

RRP: PB: $24.95 E-book: $4.99

ISBN: 9780987543417

Category: YA Thriller

Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield

“Distant from neighbours, it stands in paddocks of tangled brambles, bleached animal bones, and pines that have shed a carpet of needles.

’A four-bedroom house,’ the estate agent says. ‘You have a large family?’

‘They’re coming,’ the man replies.”

 His mother is dead, his siblings years gone and the man is utterly alone. But not for long. He has a plan.

“From dawn to dusk, he labours. Sweat drizzles down his face and body; his muscles bulge and build up strength.

The hole beneath the house widens. Deepens.”

 The excerpts above are taken from the prologue. The story hadn’t yet begun and already goosebumps were marching down my spine. It was a sensation that would become familiar.

When a party turns sour, sixteen year-old Libby hits the road. Little does she know that this will be her last taste of freedom for some time. Waiting in the shadows to take her home is, the man.

Libby wakes in a concrete cell lit by a tantalizingly distant skylight. Over the coming months her mind will become imprinted with every detail of this place. She will never forget it. If she survives.

I read a lot of books and the downside of this is that it’s rare to find one that hooks me so completely that I feel I’m living it. This is one such story. Not since, Stephen King’s, Misery, have I cared so much about the fate of a character. Part of the reason is that this story isn’t entirely fiction. It’s on our television screens and in our newspapers. It’s probably happening now. Only recently, the world was shocked and appalled to learn that three women were held captive in a house in Cleveland Ohio for a decade. Disturbingly, this is just one of far too many true stories.

However, it takes more than just a story that we can all relate to on some level to hook a reader; it takes a skilled storyteller to place that reader in the front seat. This is something Bates does extremely well. I applaud her decision to include the ’man’s viewpoint. His faulty reasoning and demented logic add volumes to the creeping terror that underlies every chapter. Like groundwater seeping slowly to the surface, this damaged man’s thoughts trickle into the reader’s consciousness. Perhaps the most frightening part of all are those passages from his viewpoint that engender pity and compassion.

While Libby’s story is, of course, a work of fiction, it should serve as a warning to young women whom, I’m sure, will have no trouble identifying with this character. It’s been a long time since I was a carefree sixteen year-old, yet I instantly saw my naïve young self in Libby.

In short, The Girl in the Basement is heart-thuddingly creepy, it plucks at every emotion and once it has entered your reality it will linger long after the final page is turned. Highly recommended.

The paperback can be purchased from any bookstore in Australia, and many on-line stores, including Amazon, and http://morrispublishingaustralia.com  The eBook is available from Amazon, Smashwords and all of your favourite eBook stores.  http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Basement-ebook/dp/B00D2KJCHW/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372984645&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Girl+in+the+Basement

Jenny Mounfield is the author of four books and numerous short stories for young people. Her first novel for adults, The Unforgetting, is available from the Kindle Store. Jenny’s reviews have appeared both online and in print. She lives north of Brisbane with her husband and three grown children.


Here is what one of the participants of the weekend workshop had to say.

Elaine’s first two-day intensive workshop on creating memorable characters was a huge success. As one of the participants, and a writer of many years’ experience, I was dubious that I would learn much new information about developing characters, but I soon found I have much more to learn. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. The sessions were excellently planned and executed with a well-balanced blend of information and practical exercises. I have never enjoyed a writing workshop so much. I will create and describe my characters with a great deal more confidence now, knowing how to make them leap off the page and grab the attention of the readers.

The workshop is now available on-line. Just go to the website http://www.gondorwriterscentre.com  and to the CREATING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS page to find out how to download the workshop notes. The cost is way too cheap, but Elaine says she wants to make it affordable for all. If you want to improve your writing, download it today. You won’t be sorry.

Ron Day

The next workshop TURNING AN IDEA INTO A STORY is Saturday April 6th from 10 am to 3 pm, if you are attending in person. It will be on-line from that date as well.

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