First Draft Done! #amwriting

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Jump for joy!


The completion of the first draft is reason to celebrate. Now you actually have something to work with. Of course I rarely expect the finished product and the first draft to be very similar. My first Novel – Ghostnapped had a completely different villain in the first draft. It was a witch, not the cool unique monster I finished with. Obi’s first draft was actually only the first chapter – so to speak. I was going to leave the story there as a picture book. It was too wordy for that so I re did the first draft and made it into a chapter book. However my kids weren’t in it. it was far to wordy without speech and I didn’t want Obi to talk to everyone. So the kids got a gig. The Homework Goblin was pretty close. There was plenty of refinement, but I think the essence of the story is the same. Should go back and check.

The two manuscripts I am currently working on have certainly undergone changes and will continue to do so, but I think as I get better with my writing the first drafts are becoming more structured. This process that I have been blogging about certainly helps with my organisation. Which means the first draft is better than it used to be. It takes longer, but is a better product for me to work with!

If you have completed your first draft jump for joy and back it up (I always have at least three back ups electronically and usually a paper version!). Even if you don’t use that first draft for anything, never throw it away. One of the stories I am editing now is actually a combination of two. They worked really well together so I molded them that way.

I don’t usually start editing straight away – will blog about my editing process next month. Now is a good time to put it away, recollect your thoughts. If you are in any challenges then I would say go over other bits and pieces and begin something new. That way when you do start to edit you are fresh and more likely to detect issues.

Speaking of challenges I recently completed my first for the year:

This was a wonderful way to start 2014. During this time I have used these prompts to write three flash fiction drafts. I have also come up with an idea for a new chapter book and continued to work on a few other ideas. It gave me some excellent tools to improve my writing this year and into the future! So much fun and now I have so much to do. I love a busy life, until next time – have fun!

My newest heroes #amwriting #labslife

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Just wanted to share my next two heroes. Super Stitch with the super sniffer and the humungous heart! Plus his little sidekick Chewie who is proving to have a big personality!


They will have their own roles to play in a host of different stories. The best thing about these boys as heroes is they are completely different. They are their own characters. Just as Obi was. That means I get so much material – just need the time to write it all!

Next blog will start to put all our planning together with a plot – so stay tuned and of course have fun!

Planning the story #amwriting

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Alright I have an idea… A couple of characters and a bit of a setting burning in my brain. Now I need to get started on the story. Sometimes it just comes to me and I write, but that often leads to me getting stuck or deciding to change ideas. When I have a really good idea forming I do some research in this planning stage.

It might be location research. When I wrote Ghostnapped I was on a camping trip. I took Obi and my camera. We went exploring. Obi used to be my planning buddy for sure. We went on lots of walks and always took the camera (I love digital cameras!!!!)


This just means I can come back to the photos later and see if there is something I have missed. Photos can also be used later on for illustrations. I often find my characters evolve more if there is a location. Certainly the unique monster in Ghostnapped came completely from the local environment. That made it even cooler, it gave the monster form and motive.

At the moment I am planning a pirate story. So the beach is part of that. I can imagine a pirate ship sitting on the horizon. Captain Walt Sharkchum standing a the helm… more about that later.

During this stage I get out a note-book and start recording. Characters, plot ideas, settings, anything that comes to mind.

Then I will work out what type of story this will be. A chapter book (usually for me) or something longer? Then you can plot out short chapter outlines. I never write more than a sentence. It’s just a guide at this stage. So I don’t forget things and also to see if there is a full plot. Sometimes this activity raises questions. Either about characters or plots. So then the research can begin. This is actually one of the best parts (more about research soon!). While I am doing this I will actually write bits of the story too. It might be a character entrance (another prompt from Start the year off write), or just a cool thing I absolutely have to have in the story.

I don’t always take this approach. However as I become more serious about writing and publishing books I have found doing this actually increases my chance of finishing the first draft. I don’t look at it when I am writing, but it is there if I get stuck. Generally I look at it once the draft is done and see if I missed anything. A bit of a guideline.

How do you plan your stories??? Writing this blog has given me more ideas, better get them down! Until next time – have fun!

Research trip #zoodays

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I love the zoo – so do my superhero kids. We go fairly often and it never gets boring. There is always something new that makes life interesting. Today however we also had a mission. I am setting up my chapter book for March. Yep getting in early. I may even be writing the sequel by March – that would be awesome. Not going to get ahead of myself lots can happen between now and then. Anyway it is the first in my super hero series. Book one of The Lighting Lilly and Princess Seea Chronicles. Tentatively called The Great Zoo Heist. So today we were doing some research about which animals may appear.

The Meerkats always get a look in – they are so cheeky. Pretty sure there can be some fun between these little guys and Super Stitch.

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This goat just made me laugh…. May well get a gig somewhere. Sure there is room for a fat goat…

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Otters need to be in the story. They are my favourite and I have also already written a chapter about them for the SuperHERo Tales.

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Pretty sure there is room for a giraffe or two – they make pretty good lookouts for my two super heroes.

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I may need to do another zoo story at some stage… What animals would you like to see???

Love these days so much fun. The best bit was my girls when they came home they put on their superhero capes and rescued all the zoo animals. Lots of material there, solid gold stuff. Need to get my notebook out! Until next time – have fun!

Anthology Antics #chaboocha1

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Today I thought I’d share the Anthologies I have been privileged enough to have stories in:

The first is Teapot Tales:
This is a great collection of really unusual fairy tales. My stories were inspired by my girls. The first is Snow White and the Pirates… Many of you may remember my now 6-year-old had this inspiration as her fifth birthday cake – Snow White and the seven smurfs on a pirate ship:
Snow White and the 7 smurfs on a Pirate Ship
Naturally this had to become a story – I am actually thinking about extending it into a chapter book?
My second story in this anthology is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin… I love that fairy tale, but what if it went wrong?

The second Anthology is Jingle Bells Tales of the Holiday Spirit:

This is a great collection for this time in the year, my girls are really enjoying listening to the stories. My two stories are lots of fun. The first is an episode (if you like) from Maddy and Aijay’s Magical Adventures. This time with Stitch and their fairy friend Fidget they travel to their magical land in search of Santa’s naughty or nice list….
M and A

The second is a Lightning Lilly and Princess Seea Adventure. This time Captain Obi sends the super girls and super Stitch to the North Pole. Rudolph has gone missing and it’s a foggy Christmas Eve… Will they find him in time???
stitch color

The final anthology from the Chapter Book Challenge (Chaboocha) is the SuperHERo Tales:
Cover_final by Julia Lela Stilchen ebook
This anthology was inspired by the need to have more empowering female superheros. It was actually the anthology that lead me to develop Lightning Lilly and Princess Seea. My girls helped me and they designed the perfect super hero versions of themselves. So much fun had here. This will become a chapter book series… just need to get time to write, but the ideas are endless. In this adventure they discover their favourite animals – otters have been stolen from the zoo.
Captain Obi
Princess Seea and Super Stitch
Lightning Lilly

All of these anthologies are available on amazon… If you are local to me and want a copy please contact me.

The final Anthology for the year is the Charms Volume 1: This was so much fun. My charm was the dolphin and once again it is a story that will be included in Maddy and Aijay’s Magical Adventures. It has everything from fairies to pirates. I really enjoyed this one.
I have some copies of this one for sale, contact me if you are interested.

These anthologies were a new thing to me this year, but so much fun. I have always been a team player so it was great to write as a team member…. I look forward to completing more of these next year. I even have a cool idea for a couple myself. More on that in the new year. Until next time – have fun!

Ticking the Boxes #amwriting #amediting

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I had some pretty big goals at the beginning of the year. They actually got bigger as the year went on, but I have managed to achieve a few. Which is great considering how amazing I am at the art of procrastination….


I try to stay focused, but usually I get distracted by new ideas. It is amazing that editing one piece can simply lead to new ideas. Anyway this year I have managed to get The Homework Goblin published, hold a book launch, have stories in four different anthologies, keep up with my interviews and reviews on the Stitch Says blog and finally edit two manuscripts. I have also completed one more first draft and am hopeful to do an edit before the year ends. During this time I have also come up with an idea for another series and the extension of my Obi the Super Puppy series. Not bad for a year, especially considering writing is my hobby. So I guess I haven’t wasted too much time doing this…


That may change in 2014 as we get Chewie and puppies are the biggest time wasters ever. Still they also provide lots of material. I am going to have so much writing fun next year. However this year is not over yet. I still have time to achieve a few more goals. Plus I need to set myself up for next year. I am looking forward to getting organised, there are so many things I want to achieve. This year added more than I could have imagined so bring it all on! Can’t wait. So how are you all going with your goals – getting there, achieved some, done the lot??? Would love to hear – until next time, have fun!

Wild Weather #makeupyourmind

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The forecast today was hot with a late chance of thunderstorm. Not sure that 11am is late, but we did have the thunderstorm. Who doesn’t love a good summer storm. When you are lying in bed with a good book they can be fantastic. However when you are out with the dogs and kids at work that’s another thing. Thunder I can do, but lightning… no!!!! We quickly packed up and headed to cover. Of course the big boys I had today – Stitch, Tug and Buddy weren’t fussed one little bit. Our sweet girl Matilda wasn’t too keen on the banging and rumbling of thunder. She got lots of cuddles.

Here’s how we passed the time until we could go out side again:



We finished the session with a steamy, warm afternoon. Now it’s raining again. Don’t get me wrong would much rather have the rain than the drought we had a few summers ago, just prefer it at night. Which now means I am off to read all those wonderful books I need to review for the Stitch Says blog. Until next time – have fun!

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