I’m an aspiring author of YA and MG fiction.

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My son now has a whole collection of books that he loves to read over and over. I thought I’d share some of them and what he (and I) like about them.

In no particular order:

Zac Power: a series by H.I. Larry

Zac Power is a spy kid whose mission is (always) to stop the bad guys. The Zac power books are very easy to read with nice big print and self-contained plots that mean you can pick up any one of them and not really miss anything in the series. A really great first set of books for boys that they can read on their own once they’re comfortable with the basics of reading. Not to mention, lots of sports and exciting spy gear.

Captain Underpants: a series by Dav Pilkey

The Captain Underpants series is hilarious. George and Harold are two supposed trouble-makers who get into a lot of pickles (of the trouble variety) and actually have quite strong ideas about right and wrong (particularly about things like bullying). They somehow manage to travel through time, beat talking toilets, acquire a pet pterodactyl, and are responsible for creating the world’s best superhero, Captain Underpants himself. Tra la laa!

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton

The 13-Storey Treehouse has all sorts of things in it that you’d never expect to find in a treehouse, like a marshmallow machine, a bowling alley, and a swimming pool. Andy and Terry (the main characters) are writers who live in the treehouse and are supposed to be writing a book, but end up having all sorts of whacky adventures instead. It’s funny and imaginative and has lots of fabulous illustrations that are just as funny as the text.

This series is particularly good for reluctant readers who don’t like a lot of dense prose.

There is also a 26-Storey, 39 Storey, and 52 Storey Treehouse with even more batty “rooms” in them.

Beast Quest: a series by Adam Blade

These books follow the adventures and challenges faced by Tom, who goes in search of his missing father and ends up battling all sorts of magical beasts–a new beast in each book. These books are easy to read, full of action, and contain nicely subtle character development through the series. It’s classic good vs. evil stuff with the next adventure just around the corner.

There’s also an associated Sea Quest series, with robotic sea beasts to battle, great for boys (and girls) who love sea creatures, pirates, and magic all rolled into one.

Spook School: a series by Pete Johnson

Charlie wakes up to find he’s a ghost and, much to his dislike, he finds out that he still has to go to school. These books are easy to read and great for kids who like age-appropriate spooky ghost stories. They’re fun, simple, and ghostly and can be devoured by a ravenous reader in an afternoon.

Ewan Hughes Doesn’t Eat Salad by… me…

Okay, so you can’t find this one on bookshelves–yet. When Ewan Hughes’ army dad is stationed overseas, Ewan ends up stationed at Granny’s beachside home, but eating greens is the last of his problems once he discovers there’s mixed-up magic lurking in the ocean. My son is mad about this book and its sequel Ewan Hughes Doesn’t Talk to Elephants, but that might have something to do with him having lots of input into both. Hopefully some day, you’ll get to read them too.

And others…?

I’m always on the look-out for books for my book-hungry boy that are age-appropriate for under 10 year-olds and readable (as in, not printed in fine print), so if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. Thanks!

New Beginnings

I am so pleased and happy to announce that I am represented by Leon Husock and Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management. They are an AMAZING team and I’m still kind of in awe that they believe in my work and want to represent not just my manuscript, but me as a writer. It’s a dream come true, and I can’t begin to describe how excited I am about the days ahead.

My lovely agent recently became a NY Times bestselling author, which is super cool and something I’m pretty sure all writers aspire to. The down side of that (for me) was that her very busy schedule meant she had to make the difficult decision to leave agenting.

So, after taking a good hard look at my manuscript and spending some time making changes, I jumped into querying again. At first, I was terrified and found it even harder than querying before I had an agent. There’s a sense of pressure, rather than a sense of excitement and hope. Luckily, I had some really nice writers who gave me some much needed moral support and encouragement to persevere.

I’m glad I did. I have a new beginning that I’ll announce soon.

I have a Literary Agent!

I’m so excited to announce that I’m represented by the awesome Brittany Howard of Corvisiero Literary Agency!

I queried the Corvisiero Agency in July this year and within a fortnight Brittany replied with a partial request. She read it in early September, requested the full manuscript and even took the time to suggest a few revisions. Which alone would have made me fall in love with her (revision suggestions from an agent are worth gold). But I also checked out her twitter stream and saw that she’d tweeted about my partial here. And that’s when I KNEW I wanted her as my agent. She warned me that it would be a couple months before she could read the full because she had a lot in her TBR pile–and I respected that. So I cooled my heels. And tried not to stalk her on twitter (too much). Got a bunch of other requests from really great agents and kept querying, but at a much slower rate, because I really wanted to know what she thought.

Then on Sunday morning, after I left my email open on the computer, my husband called out to tell me I had an email from Brittany. And… I couldn’t read it. I  froze to the spot with dishwater dripping down my arms. Because what if she didn’t like it, after all? What if she was emailing to let me down gently?

I took a deep breath…

She loved it! She tweeted about it (picture me with a smile that didn’t wipe off for days), and she was so easy to skype with (even though I was mostly tongue-tied the whole time). She is awesome and I couldn’t be happier!

I really want to give a huge shout out to my critique partner, the lovely Alison Miller, who gave me such incredible feedback–and kept it all secret for ages, since I didn’t put this manuscript out there at all (and I mean, at all: no contests, no pitches, no forum posts, no nothing. Just me and the computer–and Alison keeping me sane). Thank you, Alison!

And to all the other writers out there in the query trenches: persevere, you can do it, through the highs and lows, the happy moments and the oh-so-dark times, keep on!

If you’re writing fiction, you’re bound to have heard those dreaded words: show don’t tell. They’re dreaded because, until you really get it, you won’t get it (well, I didn’t).

It took me, um, a long time, but I figured it out. The secret to knowing whether you’re showing instead of telling.

Telling is when you feed the reader the story. They don’t have to use their imagination. They don’t have to picture the scene. And so, the writing is boring and flat.

Here’s an example of telling: She was angry because her father wouldn’t let her go out to a movie on a school night.

If the whole book was filled with sentences like that, you’d put it down pretty quickly.

So here’s the same thing using showing (and note it takes a lot more words and a lot more work–on the writer’s part, that is):

She slammed her school bag down and glared at her dad. “Geez, you’d think I was three or something. Everyone else is going. It’s a movie, Dad. I won’t even be home late.”

So here’s the secret: telling is the CONCLUSION you draw from observing somebody’s body language, facial expressions, dialogue, or actions. Showing IS the body language, facial expression, dialogue, or action.

If you want your reader to know that your character is angry, don’t tell them that. Instead, describe to them what you would see if you were observing your character in that moment. How do you know that your character is angry?

Showing is like living life. How do you know if a family member is happy, sad, depressed? How do you know whether your work meeting is going well? What is it that you observe that tells you that? When you meet someone for the first time, what is it about them that tells you their personality, their profession. That’s what you need to show the reader, and trust them to draw their own conclusions. If you’ve done it right, they’ll draw the conclusion you want.

I’m really excited to have officially launched myself as a freelance proofreader/editor. I’ve been proofreading and editing documents for a long time now (about 10 years) and I’ve decided to get serious about it. So on the weekend I applied for an ABN (Australian Business Number), completed work for my first client, and I’m off to a happy start!

I have a strong background in proofreading/editing documents in the legal field because of my  work as a lawyer, but I’ve also spent the last few years immersed in the world of fiction, which has definitely broadened my horizons. I’m looking forward to dealing with all areas of the written word, from fiction to academic works in all disciplines (not just legal).

So… in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, if you need something proofread/edited, please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.

Happy writing, all!