Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Alby book on 2017 Premier's Reading Challenge Booklist

When I write, it is because I really love to write.  I find it is a great way to express my creative side, and it is an honour and a privilege knowing that people read and enjoy my books, which is what all authors really hope to achieve.  We don't write obsessing about whether our books will win awards, or be put onto lists, or be recognised for being really good books - all that is a bonus, a REALLY good one!

When 'Quizzical' was the joint winner of the 2006 Best Australian Self-Published Book Award for Fiction it felt very surreal.  When I was contacted by the organisers with the news, I almost dropped the phone.  Seriously?  My book had won an award?  Surely, they had the wrong person.  Or the phone call was a prank!   I'm so glad it wasn't!

And that's how it all began for me.  I flew to Sydney to collect the award, the whole time feeling like I was in a dream.  I will remember that experience always.

When books are added to the various Reading Challenge booklists, they aren't just added willy nilly.  There is a process.  The books are read by a selected committee and it's the opinion of the committee that decides whether a book goes on the booklist or not.

So, it's a great honour to have both my 'Quizzical' series, and the 'Alby' books on Premier's Reading Challenge booklists in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.  The new book, 'Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up' has just been added to 2017 list, so I'm thrilled about that! 


I'm thrilled to tell you that my new Alby book, 'Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up', was a recent 'Red Ribbon Winner' in the 2017 Wishing Shelf Awards in the UK for 'Highly Recommended'.

All my Alby books can be purchased via my distributor, Dennis Jones & Associates, through various library suppliers, in bookstores and online bookshops.  They are also available through Amazon at and The Book Depository at 


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Alby and the Cat review

So chuffed with this review from Mum's Delivery for my new children's book, 'Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up'.  Thank you Sara!  So glad you enjoyed the book!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Alby and the Cat

The Alby and the Cat adventures continue with my new book, 'Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up', which has just been released and is available now!

These books are close to my heart, as you know.  My Dad was blinded in an industrial accident many years ago and he had a beautiful black Labrador Guide Dog named Duke.  Duke not only provided Dad with independence and gave him the confidence to face the world again, he was his best friend, and when he died of bone cancer after over 10 years of service, Dad was devastated and swore he would never have another Guide Dog again.  The relationship forged between a visually impaired person and his Guide Dog is like no other.  Dad had to place his total trust in Duke, who literally had Dad's life in his paws.  Their bond was so deep and strong.  Dad didn't want to have to go through the same thing with another dog, and then, another, so he has used his cane ever since. 

It was interesting watching Dad and Duke, and people they came into contact with.  Because Labradors are well accepted by the community and are very people-friendly, people just assumed Duke was a normal pet, even though they knew he helped Dad.  They would come up and pat Duke, sometimes before they even spoke to Dad.  What they didn't realise was, that when Duke was in harness, he was working and couldn't be distracted, or Dad was put at risk.

I wrote these books not only for children, but also for adults, to educate them a little about guide dogs, what they do, and why they make such a difference to the lives of visually impaired people.  The situations in the book are based on situations that Dad is faced with every day. 

The original 'Alby and the Cat' was out of stock so has been revised and reprinted and is also available now!  'Alby and the Cat' and 'Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness' are both on the 2016 Premier's Reading Challenge booklists in Victoria, NSW and SA.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Getting back into it!

Wow, how time flies!

After having six books published in a relatively short period of time, I decided to take a short sabbatical to spend time with my family.  My three boys were heavily into sport.  You name it and they did it.  So a lot of time was spent with them, if not watching them, it was driving them around.  But I wouldn't change it for the world.  You never get that time back, so spending it doing things with your kids is a blessing.

I'd already half-finished a manuscript for my third Alby and the Cat book, so took my time finishing it, then I sent it off to my editor, Nan McNab.  At the time Nan was busy editing for Bryce Courtenay, but I was in no rush, so told her to take her time with it.  I thought no more of it as I was busy with other things.

Then, last year, I was asked to visit the wonderful Flinders Christian Community College in Traralgon for Book Week.  I'd visited Flinders previously.  They have been great supporters of mine, to the extent of having both 'Quizzical' and 'Money Bags' on the Year 5 & 6 booklist.  It was wonderful speaking to the children, and I always bring along my 'Quizmaster' for some fun quiz action.  The children gather around you like you're a rock God.  But I always tell them, I was exactly like them.  I went to school.  I had hobbies.  I grew up and got married.  I now have kids like them. I'm no-one special, I just like to write books, and I'm lucky enough that people want to read them. Anyone can be like me.  You just need to have a dream and want to chase it.  Because that's exactly what I did.  It wasn't easy at first, but it was interesting, even fun.  And I learned a lot. 

That school visit reminded me of how much I enjoy being an author; how rewarding it is to write books for people to read, and to have those people enjoy reading them.

Then, I was invited to be a guest speaker for the Baw Baw Writers' Network alongside fellow author, Michelle Path.  Michelle had just released her first two books, Suki and the Seedling, and Xalien the Purple Alien, and her enthusiasm and love for writing was evident.  She really inspired me and we have kept in contact ever since.

It was these two events that brought the writing bug back.  Writing is such a creative thing.  It's hard to step away from unless you have another outlet, or keep busy with other things.  Luckily I was busy with other things.     

Then, just a few weeks ago, I received my edited Alby manuscript back from Nan!  I went through the edits and Nan's notes, and cannot believe how much I had missed this process, as stressful as it can sometimes be.  It's amazing how a good editor can make a book so much better, just by changing small things.  And Nan is awesome.  It also helps when it's a chapter book for younger readers because the word count is a lot smaller, so the editing doesn't take as long. 

With the editing now done, the manuscript is currently with the wonderful Kim Dingwall, who illustrated Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness.  She is also the niece of the late Allan Cornwell, who was not only a wonderful man, but instrumental in publishing all my books and getting them to the standard that saw them picked up by The Five Mile Press.  It's fantastic to have her on board again.

So, I'm very excited to tell you that some time in the next few months, Alby and the Cat: All Holed Up will be published!
So all you Alby fans, watch out for updates!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Week

Book Week can be one of the busiest and most challenging times of the year for an author, but it is one of the most rewarding, too, and I always come away thinking how fortunate I am.

Every school and library I have visited since my first book, Quizzical, came out, has been so welcoming, and the staff and children, wonderful. All are different, yet similar, and I have enjoyed each and every one.

I remember a couple of years ago I visited a library and was booked for two sessions. The most children I'd had in a session prior to that was about 80, and I was expecting about the same amount for these particular sessions, except that when I got there I was told that the schools had given the the library the wrong student numbers and there would, in fact, be approximately 120 students in each session.

I absorbed this, with a smile. I figured, what's forty more? The more the merrier! Well, I was hoping that would be the case, anyway! And it was. The children were brilliant. They were all so into the session. They were loud, but only when they needed to be, and excited, but always respectful, and it was one of the best sessions I've ever had!

I visited four schools over four days this year, leaving one day of the week free to catch my breath. As most authors would know, a lot of preparation goes into each session, whether it be at a school, or a library, and most schools and libraries request more than one session. It is not unusual to spend a day at a school, especially around Book Week, so you have to tailor each session to suit whatever year level you are speaking to. Your first session may be for Year 6's and your very next may be Preps and while each may be similar, they can be very different in many ways, too. They can be very draining, too. But I wouldn't swap it for anything. It is such a privilege to be invited to schools and libraries, and to get the opportunity to speak to children about your books.

I feel like I'm leading a second life, being an author - a whole different person than the one I am at home! When I'm not writing, or visiting schools and libraries, I'm just an ordinary mother and wife, doing what all mothers and wives do - working, running children around, doing the housework, cooking meals (and the list goes on!) Believe me, I'm no more special than anyone else. I'm just someone who is living a dream I've always had. And it's wonderful!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

'Alby' nominated for another award

I am very excited!!!! After the disappointment of the Cybils Awards I have just learned that 'Alby and the Cat: Showbusiness' has been nominated for the 2011 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards. To be eligible for nomination, a book had to be nominated by a member and meet the following criteria: 1. a strong narrative format; 2. contain characters that appeal to the intended audience; 3. encourage the reader to explore new ideas and concepts; 4. encourage the development of imagination and curiousity; 5. use appropriate language; 6. be engaging; 7. be well presented and be attractive to children, with appropriate pictures and an appealing layout. My distributor now has to send off 12 copies of the book so that they can be read by a judging panel who will then decide on a shortlist. Fingers crossed that a little luck will be with me this time!!!!