Mad Scientists, a Flamingo, a hippo and a whole lot of fun.

As a newbie author, 2018 has been a heart-racing, nail-biting, champagne popping, pinch-me sort of year. There have been new challenges, nerves, and plenty of excitement. But as one of my favourite characters, Matilda Wormwood, says: Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog!

On top of the ongoing support of my writing buddies, friends, family, agent and publisher – I’ve been so lucky to meet a whole bunch of amazing people. Readers, booksellers, illustrators, published authors, aspiring authors, teachers, librarians, and parents. People who genuinely care about children’s literature and want to share great books with young readers. They also love talking all things storytelling, and writing – my kind of people. A huge thank you to each and every one of you for celebrating with me and helping me get my books out into the world.
It’s been a cracker!

I can’t wait for another bookish year ahead : ) : )
Have a Merry Christmas and may your 2019 be filled with books, books, and more books.

Coming up with the idea for Quark’s Academy

Quark’s Academy will be my first published book!

The idea for Quark’s Academy first came to me when doing an astronomy course at the Sydney Observatory. It was taught by a charismatic, enthusiastic and clever professor called Paul Payne. Each week I attended class at the Observatory (which is such an amazing place) and more and more I thought about the fascinating world of science. It was during class that I had the first spark of an idea for Quark’s Academy. (The Sydney Observatory below)


(Image credit: The Sydney Observatory)

A little later, I cat-sat for friends while they were away. My house guest was a beautiful British Shorthair with lots of attitude named Sir Reginald. I just knew he had to be a character in the story.


And so I had the theme of science and a huge cat. I also knew I wanted go-getter characters who were bold, smart and had a sense of adventure.

I wrote the first draft of Quark’s Academy over about the space of a year. I then took it to my writing group to workshop and refine the story.

In July 2015, an opportunity came up to pitch story ideas to publishers and agents at the CYA Conference. For anyone who is an aspiring writer and doesn’t know about CYA, you should definitely check it out. It’s an incredibly well-organised event where you can meet and listen to industry experts, enter a great writing competition and be around other writers.

Keen to test out the waters and see what others thought about Quark’s Academy, I decided to book in for pitch sessions with various publishers and agents.

I would  have five minutes to ‘sell’ my story. This was a challenge that terrified and excited me – so of course I had to do it. On the morning of the conference I rehearsed my pitch several more times, and soon it was my turn to deliver it…

In my next post, I’m going to share how I secured an agent and found a publisher for Quark’s Academy.

If you would like to read about how I started writing for children, check out my first post: Writing for Children: getting started and writing groups.


Writing for Children: getting started and writing groups

In August this year, my first children’s book: Quark’s Academy will be published with Hachette. Quark’s Academy is a junior-fiction story about three science whizz-kids.

You can read the first two chapters in Hachette’s 2017 SNEAK PEEKS! Just ask your local bookstore for a copy!
Over a series of blog posts, I’m sharing how I went from deciding to write for children to finding a publisher.

Writing for children:

I’ve always been a keen writer and someone who enjoys creating stories. Children’s books especially interest me because of the long-lasting impact they can have on a person, and the way they share so many truths in such creative and wonderous ways.

The decision to start writing for children was an easy one. I just needed to figure out how!

Writing courses

Several years ago, I found a course through the Australian Writer’s Centre called ‘Writing for Children and Young Adults’, it was just what I was looking for. The course was informative, interactive and what gave me the confidence to keep going. I started to write more and not long after joined a picture book writing group at the NSW Writer’s Centre.

Writing groups

Being in a writing group would mean having my work discussed and critiqued regularly – which sounded terrifying! It would also require me to give feedback to other writers – also terrifying!
However, I decided to give it try and was thrilled to meet many other aspiring writers who shared my passion for children’s books. It was a wonderfully supportive environment and where I learned so much about the complex craft of writing for children and the industry.

After a couple of years in the picture book group, I decided I also wanted to write chapter books. So, I started another writing group called Down the Rabbit Hole. It was in this group that I started working on Quark’s Academy.

I wholeheartedly believe being in a writing group has enabled me to find a publisher. Why? because I think every writer needs a support network. People who will give you honest feedback, encourage you every step of the way and who ultimately help you to become a better writer. It’s also handy to have people who will eat biscuits and drink tea with you and never tire of endless talk of books, writing and publishing.

My writing group picture below:

Down the Rabbit Hole


Coming up with the idea for Quark’s Academy

… In my next post, I’m going to share how I came up with the idea for Quark’s Academy.