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

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!!!!

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:
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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:
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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….
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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???
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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.
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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!

Super Start #amwriting #ChaBooCha1

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I decided to put the editing aside for a moment because the writing bug has hit me again. A while ago I wrote a super hero story for SuperHERos which is due out soon. I spent time with my little super heroes and developed Lightning Lilly, Princess Seea, Captain Obi and Super Stitch. The crime fighting team of the century. These characters also had a Christmas adventure for the Jingle Bells anthology. Still I love these characters so much that they have their own series in my head. I was going to leave adventure one until the Chapter Book Challenge in March. Yet last night I just had to write.
Captain Obi
Princess Seea and Super Stitch
Lightning Lilly<
My girls did an awesome job developing these characters and they have given me too many ideas for their adventures. I could fill up all of next year so I am sure I will have a chapter book to write come March. In the meantime it's good to take a break from editing. Although I still promise to get two of the three manuscripts editing by the end if the year.
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So excited I think I’ll get back to it now – more about these characters later! Until then have fun!

Nominated for the Liebster Award

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I have been nominated by Becky Fyfe http://chapterbookchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/nominated-for-liebster-award.html

for the Leibster Blog Award. The Leibster award is giving to wonderful blogs with under 200 followers. The word “Liebster” Means sweetheart in German. It’s pretty cool really!

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In accepting this award I am contractually obligated to answer 10 questions of Becky’s choosing and then command 5-10 other people to answer my similarly worded questions. So here we go!
1. Why were you drawn to writing?
I have always written. It was my favourite part of school. Actually I used to sit up the back and write stories in most lessons anyway. I just love to make up things. It is something that has stayed with me and now I love having people read my stories – that was a long time coming!

2. How many years have you been making or trying to make writing your career?
I’m not really sure I see writing as a career – more of a hobby. Although the more I get into it the more I want to do with my writing, so who knows what the future will bring!

3. Are you published? Where?
I have three books published through Strategic Book Group, they can be found at: http://sbpra.com/AshleyHowland/ I also have stories in various anthologies, which are coming out and one that is out.

4. What is your favourite part about writing stories?
the actual first draft I think. I love it when the story just rolls. I also enjoy the research for characters and ideas. Having said that holding the completed book with my name on the front is pretty addictive,

5. What is your favourite genre?
I write children’s novels and chapter books. I love reading these books too, so writing for children just comes naturally. I am writing some stories for older (teenage) children, but I generally like writing for the younger children. Adults have really enjoyed my books too, so it’s proof you never really have to grow up.

6. Where do you find your inspiration?
My kids and the dogs I work with inspire me every day. They give me so much material and the girl’s well they just love to hear my stories. They have become a big part of my writing. I develop ideas and characters with them. Then when I am editing I read the story out loud to them. They love it.

7. How active is your muse?
That’s hard to answer. I wish I had more time to actually write and edit, however I constantly have ideas brewing. So I would say I am actively creating stories, characters and plots every day. Just not sure they all end up on the computer.

8. If you could have a conversation with your muse, what would you say?
Can you get your ideas down for me? Preferably while I’m sleeping as it’s the only time left!

9. What are the latest projects you are working on?
I have three stories I am editing. Two are chapter books for younger children and one is a novel for teenagers. I am hopeful to have these edited and in the publishing process for next year. I am also involved with a few different anthologies. 2014 is working its way up to being a pivotal year for me as an author.

10. What plans or dreams do you have for your writing in the next year?
As I just said I have lots of plans – three books out and a whole host of other drafts complete. I am going to explore self publishing from her on in. It’s been a big decision and I have a lot to learn, but I think ultimately it is going to suit me better. So wish me luck!

Okay so they are my answers. Now I am going to nominate the following blogs for this award:
http://merlenefawdry.blogspot.com.au/
http://jemimapett.com/
http://www.freckles-the-bunny-series.ca/freckles-blog.html
http://emhawker.blogspot.com.au/
http://mylittlesunshinehouse.com/

Here are your questions:
1. What makes you write?
2. How long have you been writing professionally (including amateur writers, I think we’re all professional!)?
3. Independent of traditional publishing – which one is it for you?
4. What is the best thing about writing?
5. What do you write?
6. Where do you get your ideas?
7. How often are your writing or in the process of writing?
8. If anything was possible how would you increase your productivity as a writer?
9. What are you writing now?
10. What can we look forward to in the next year?
Please answer these questions however you see fit. Since I’m lazy I’m copying and pasting the instructions: “If you choose to accept here are the directions: Link back to the blogger that tagged you. Nominate 5-10 others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you (mine are below). Then ask 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate as well as letting your nominees know of their award. Oh, yeah—and have fun! ☺”
Thanks Becky this was fun – I hope my nominees enjoy doing this, I look forward to reading your posts. Until then have fun!

Superheroes! #animals

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We spent the day following a Superhero trail at the wildlife park.

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So now we have a whole host of superhero animals to write about. The girls loved the little squirrel glider who glided from the tree back into her pouch. They were happy to see the koalas actually moving around – usually they sleep or make horrible noises! They also got to watch the dingoes get fed, which was pretty cool. The wombats weren’t very active, but the kangaroos were happy to be fed.

It was a fun day and now they have loads of photos to do another scrap book page. Pretty sure there will be a story or two soon as well. All this gives me a great idea for my superhero book. I already have one chapter done and now I am getting enough to write the rest. It’s a shame I still have three manuscripts to edit. Really should get on to those. First up though I am going to finish my keepsakes stories. I have to prioritise for the rest of this year to get everything done. Wish me luck! Until next time – have fun!

Bookweek Fun #childrensbooks #bookweek

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Bookweek is here. I love book week, the kids get to do so much cool stuff at school! Of course it all wraps up on friday with the big parade. Lightning Lilly, Captain Obi, Princess Seea and Super Stitch will be making their debut appearance!

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Pretty special considering they haven’t been published yet! My girls were determined though and they have their costumes all ready complete with their toy labradors all dress up too. I have also made scrap books of the story so they can have them read to the class. They will have a great time!

Until next time – have fun!

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