Fun fiction, fascinating facts, and helpful how-to
Welcome to my ever-growing Writing for Children website!
It’s for adults who wish to write and illustrate for children, for enjoyment or publication…
…and for children and all people who love books, writing, art, and being creative.
I collect books, read books, smell books, create artists books (sometimes even making the paper by hand), write books for publication and for fun—picture books, science, stories for all ages, and craft books. I illustrate some of them, give talks, puppet performances, workshops, masterclasses, provide exhibitions, work in residencies, and love helping people whenever possible.
This site is being rebuilt and modernised from the original one that had 74 pages and was started in 2002. It was showing its age and had to go! This new version will rapidly increase in size with sections on the history of books; tips for writing, editing, creating illustrations and handcrafted books, and more.
- To help children and adults develop a passion for the written word and books of every kind, and to encourage people of all ages to read, write and be creative.
- To be a fun and useful site.
- To provide information and tips for adults and children, beginners and experts, to help develop their writing, illustrating and art and craft-work skills for pleasure or publication.
- To showcase my own books, ideas and techniques, plus a taste some of the things I discuss and teach in visits and workshops.
…It would also be wonderful if it encouraged a literary agent to offer new representation. My former agent for ten years, Margaret Kennedy, founder of the Margaret Kennedy Agency in Australia, has retired.
While I am reconstructing,
a gallery of my published and experimental art
has been added to Flickr at
published for older children and adults by Hinkler Books, 1 September, 2022
“Create beautiful, contemporary lettering with a personal flourish. This kit explains everything a beginner needs to know about calligraphy and hand lettering, including the basics of letter formation, changing line weights, uppercase and lowercase variations, exploring different calligraphic styles and connecting letters seamlessly.
With a calligraphy pen, extra ink cartridges and more, learn how to express your personal style through the handwritten word.”
It has content by fellow expert Joanna Chia, too, and includes:
• 48-page book
• A calligraphy pen with two nibs
• 32 page practice pad
• 18 ink cartridges • Exercise pad
But this is actually the 14th spin-off product from my book ‘Practical Calligraphy’ that Hinkler published in 2010.
Yay – ‘Once a Creepy Crocodile’, illustrated by Nina Rycroft was shortlisted by Speech Pathology Australia for their Book of the Year Award!
Sometimes words can be a stimulus for developing a special artist’s book structure to house them…or a structure can be created with no words in mind, but it gives rise to a story, poem, or collection of facts, for example.
One of my artist’s books, commissioned by World Expo’88, was used as part of its gift to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the occasion of opening the event.
Books in progress…
…that may never be published, but I have hopes.
A Giant Book of Small Things, for ages 9+
It’s planned as a compendium of tiny objects and the fascinating stories behind them – things children’s parents, grandparents and earlier ancestors may have owned and used. It will include a few record holders for the smallest of their kind.
‘Waiting for Dad’ – a humorous picture book
Set in 1930s Australia, the story features Dad’ guiding his bullock team to collect bales of wool, and away from home for weeks at a time…and the kangaroo’s joey he’s rescued that grows at home to become a pest.
Tip – writing a picture book
If you are writing a picture book, it helps if you create a dummy, even if you will not be the illustrator (which you probably won’t be, especially if you’ve not had picture books published before. The chances are, a publisher will choose and pay an artist with a reputation for sales and a vivid imagination. If you are an accomplished artist, you’ll first be selected to illustrate the work of an established author, so one name on the cover is well-known.) Your author’s dummy will not be shown to anyone.
I create a concertina zig-zag of card (A4 or Letter size) and paper-clip on exceedingly rough ideas for pictures, even stick figures, for what I envisage someone might possibly draw. And I add the text of the draft on removable Post-it notes.
This makes it easy to stretch out the zig-zag to check the fit and flow of the story, and make sure neither the beginning or any other part is too long, for example, and that it is actually possible to illustrate it. This way, I’ve made discoveries such as, it would probably be too hard and ineffective to show Mum in the lounge, the goat trying to eat the washing outside, and the kids making a billycart…all on one spread. The words needed to be changed. The billycart no longer exists.
The stretching-out also instantly shows if the words suggest an interesting mix of illustrations, with visual hooks: close-ups to show emotion; mid-range for action; and more distant zoomed-out views to show setting, atmosphere, and perhaps build anticipation—no consecutive pages of people just talking (talking heads).
The Sketchbook – an Upper Middle Grade novel
Emma, 13 and with hobbies such as taxidermy and clock repairing that are deemed weird by other kids, struggles to fit in at a new Australian school. When her veteran great-uncle visits he tries to help her develop resilience by sharing his sketchbook of his voyage to Singapore, his capture, work as a prisoner of war on the Burma Railway in WWII POW, and repatriation through the US and Canada (based on my own English uncle’s written and verbal reminiscences. These included feeling sorry for some Japanese guards who were abused by their superiors, and a guard probably risking his life by being kind.)
It’s not all gloom! It’s really about the power of friendship, and also includes funny incidents from my days as a student and as a high school teacher.
Some of the facts are little known. On their return to civilian life, the British were given this document to discourage them from describing their experiences. And many of those people who they did tell didn’t believe them, and thought they were joking and exaggerating. So sad. Lest we forget.
I hope you enjoy exploring the site!
In a former life, I taught high-school science, photography and art in England and Australia. I’ve also been a museum curator, nature reserve warden, committee member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia and held the position of Coordinator (now called the Assistant Regional Advisor, ARA) of the state of Queensland’s Chapter of the 25,000 international member strong Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – the world’s premier organisation for children’s book creators.
And I’d love to hear from you via the contact page!