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!

Character fun #amwriting


We have our villain. Now we need our hero. Someone who will stop at nothing to save the day… Any volunteers????

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Thanks Obi and of course a very little Stitch learning from his hero. Obi was the perfect hero. He was creative, intelligent, athletic, inquisitive and would stop at nothing. All good things. Did he have a weakness??? I guess all heroes need some sort of weakness to overcome. In Stitch’s case it would be his sooky nature, he is very cautious – which can also be a good thing. Obi however if he had a weakness I would say it was doing first, thinking later. A trait I am seeing in the young Chewbacca here!

Some interesting things to think about when creating a hero. Make sure they have their own battles too. It gives your readers a chance to relate. Which means they could achieve some of these amazing things too. Always good if the reader can feel heroic too!

Heroes can come in any shape or form. The limit is of course your imagination. That means there is no limit!!! Go forth and create the perfect hero! Love to see what you come up with – have fun!

Good vs Evil #amwriting

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I love a good villain… I know its strange, but they have always appealed to me. My favourite ever was Captain Hook. There is so much to this character. In a way I think you can do more with villains. There has to be a reason they went bad, no one is really born that way. The reasons for their actions are what gives your villain strength, personality and in a way likability. Yes your villain can be likable. They don’t need to be, but this makes them engaging.


I am currently creating the villain for my super hero series. I already have my super team, but they need someone and arch nemesis to go up against. A Dr who has gone loopy and wants to control the world. World domination is always a good theme, so may ways you could try to achieve that. This character needs to be scary, dangerous, smart and just a little bit zany. It is a kids book after all and my super heroes are kids. It’s a working process, but one that is very enjoyable.

Princess Seea and Super Stitch

When I create villains I start with the motive. The monster in Ghostnapped was driven by local environmental factors. The Homework Goblin, well he just wanted to make sure Jason deserved his grade. So this one, well I’m still working on that. This blog has given me some ideas. So while I write-up my profile why don’t you have a go as well! Remember the key to all character development… have fun!

Creating characters #childrensbooks

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I am lucky in that I live with four wonderful creative beings who help me create characters. My girls and my dogs are a never-ending source of material. They each have personality traits that are fantastic. I even keep note books to jot things down. To create a complete character you need lots of different traits.

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For example Chewie is new to our family. He is developing his own little character, but I see elements of Obi and Stitch in him. I like to find similarities between characters. This might be why they get along or in the case of a sibling relationship why they fight. Differences in personality are sometimes more important. If you have two characters in mind you can list and compare. That’s an interesting exercise.

Characters can be developed from the setting or the story can evolve from a character. I like to create characters no matter what story I have in mind. That way a new adventure can grow or this character can change one of your other stories. My advice is keep everything. You never know when you will use it. Write every little detail even if it seems insignificant. These little factors will be what sets your character apart from the others. For example Obi (my old lab) was a special character himself. What set him apart from other dogs was his amazing self-confidence. He honestly, but never arrogantly believe all was right in the world as long as he was around. There certainly is a big hole now he is gone. Still his memories live on and the world is a better place for having had him in it! When I write Obi’s stories I always focus on his self belief. He was also set apart because unlike other dog characters who do human things he did dog things, but I guess for human reasons. It’s a small distinction, but one that I think really makes my Obi series!

So go ahead, create a cool character and see where they take you! As always 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!

Looking back and moving forward #newyear

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2013 is almost over, just a few more hours and possibly lots of shouting. It is that time to take a quick look back and then jump to the future. What did 2013 bring to me?

1. The Homework Goblin – my third book was released
I even had a book launch this time – that was a first.

2. I became a member of the Chapter book challenge – which not only lead me to finish the draft of Obi the Super Puppy and the Quest for the Last Laugh (to be released 2014), but also to become involved in three anthologies.
Cover_final by Julia Lela Stilchen ebook

3. I developed some new characters and two new series of books which will hopefully be release in 2014, but are definitely going to be lots of fun writing!

4. I edited another longer book that is going to be a bit different.

5. I started my Stitch Says blog for author interviews and reviews. Which is a lot of fun and a great way that I can support other authors.

There was of course the horrible moment when we found out that Obi was on limited time. He lasted as long as he good, but eventually we had to say goodbye.
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He was such a big part of our lives that it was really difficult. Obi would not have wanted us to sook though! He will be forever remembered in his books. I have a lifetime of material to write about this special boy!!!!

Recently we took a fantastic holiday to the Gold Coast – which was great to get away and refocus for the new year. I met some really cool new characters too!

Of course we also introduced Chewie to our family. He’s such a sweety that it’s almost like he has always been here!

It has been a great year for me as an author, one I am really proud of. There are so many new ideas, characters and stories that I am looking forward to getting to know in 2014. I will also be updating my website and making it more interactive so watch out for that. I am actually really excited. I have a few personal goals and some things I need to do aswell, but all that will come. I feel as if I am starting 2014 with a fresh outlook and am ready for any challenge thrown at me!

I would like to thank all the wonderful people who support me here, on Facebook and twitter. It’s great to read your comments and get to share things with you all. I hope everyone has a fantastic and safe New Year’s Eve and looks forward to achieving your dreams in 2014 I know I am! Until next year – have fun!!!!

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