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snailjpeg 001Today I’m pleased to welcome Dianne Wolfer who has a beautiful new book out called Annie’s Snails.


Annie loves her pet snails. She makes them a special home in an ice-cream container and gives them names. Annie and her snails have lots of adventures together. They play spelling games and make trails. Annie thinks the snails will be very happy living in an ice-cream container in her cubby. But will they?


The idea for Annie’s Snails was sparked by a chance comment my husband made about how granddaughter Amelie loved having snails slide along her arms and legs when she was little. The story grew from there.

It was fun adapting this idea to meet the guidelines of Walker Stories. This series is specially designed for beginning readers who are moving from picture books to chapter books. There are three highly illustrated chapters in one book and each chapter is around 600 words. Sometimes when I edited, it felt a bit like doing a new form of haiku!

As a child I always loved animal stories and longed for a pet. We lived on a main road so a dog was out of the question, but I always enjoyed finding small creatures in the back yard. Annie’s Snails touches on this interest and also celebrates the power of imagination. Working with an illustrator is an exciting part of writing for younger readers. Gabriel Evan’s lovely line drawings have added movement and life to my story and I’ve really enjoyed seeing how Gabriel brought my characters to life. I hope young readers enjoy this story about Annie and her Snails. And apologies to parents who may no longer be allowed to dispose of these interesting garden creatures. Since writing this story, I now put my garden snails into the green recycle bin and wish them good luck when the truck comes…


  1. Just do it. Write whenever you can; as well as setting aside uninterrupted writing time, print a page or two and take it with you to work/other jobs. Edit between appointments. You can rewrite and polish a paragraph in 5 minutes. And those beautiful paragraphs soon add up to chapters and novels.
  2. Always have a notebook/paper in your bag, in the car, beside the bed. When ideas arrive jot them down. Most of my books started this way.
  3. Do a lot of drafts. I do dozens – even for picture books. Read each version aloud so that you hear the rhythm and sound of the story.
  4. Share ‘almost completed’ drafts of your stories with trusted writer friends and readers the age of your intended audience. Listen to their advice, be brave and make changes, but also remember that only you can write your story.
  5. Don’t send your work to a publisher too early. They are busy. You may only get one shot at impressing them. It’s hard to be patient when you think it’s done, but whenever I make myself set aside a story for a couple of weeks, I always see things to fix.

If you have a question for Dianne, feel free to ask it in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing:)


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TheSilverStrand_fullresLJ Clarkson is the author of The Silver Strand, an MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, The Silver Strand is Book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.


Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker.  Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes.

The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle’s source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It’s also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn’t count on is that there is more at stake than just her life.


I wrote The Silver Strand when I found my first grey hair (yikes!), and thought it would be cool to have a hair with magical powers as it’s really different.

Louisa Clarkson author picL J CLARKSON’S WRITING TIPS

1. Characters need to have strengths and weaknesses which affect their journey. Otherwise they’ll be too perfect and the reader can’t relate to them. For example, in The Silver Strand, my character Boldrick, who is a man trapped inside the body of a cat, has excellent animal senses and can sense a storm a mile away by the whistle of wind on his whiskers! But he has poor reflexes and crashes the flying machine!

2. A book doesn’t always need to have a bad guy. The problem(s) characters face create something for the character to remedy and conquer.

3. A story must have 3 acts. Act 1  – a beginning where you introduce the characters and their problem. Act 2 – a middle where the character tries to solve the problem but something happens and they fail. Act 3 – the end where the character’s problem is resolved.

4. The ending of a chapter should be left on a cliffhanger, like your character gets into a tight spot and can’t escape. This makes the reader want to continue reading.

5. If a character has magical powers, there must be a limit to their powers, otherwise they’ll be so invincible that no enemy can beat them, and that would just be boring zzzzz.


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