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Our visiting author today, Jeffery E Doherty is also a very talented illustrator. Jeffery writes short stories, chapter books, picture books, junior and young adult novels.

Today’s writing tips are based on the creation of his book, Paper Magic.


Paper Magic is a book about finding courage, facing challenges and overcoming self-doubt. It is about the power of friendship and discovering you don’t need magic to be worthwhile.

Marina needs a wheelchair to get around. Her legs might not work but she has clever hands.

Marina spends her days staring out at the park from her bedroom window. The park calls to her. It tugs at a place deep in her chest but the thought of meeting the children who play there sends her into a breathless panic. On the last day of the holidays, before starting at a new school, Nana arrives with a magical gift to change Marina’s life.

When Marina discovers she can breathe life into the origami figures she creates from Nana’s magic paper, it gives her the courage to go and explore the park.

Marina meets some amazing people on her adventure.



1)    My first writing tip is find characters you actually like for your story.  Ask yourself, “If they were real people would I like to meet them or be friends with them?” Maybe not so much for the antagonist (bad guy) but definitely for the main characters. This is especially important for a longer book because you will be spending a lot of time having conversations with them inside your head. Make sure your main character isn’t perfect. Give them some interesting flaws. Marina from Paper Magic has to use a wheelchair and she is very anxious. If she didn’t have flaws like this the story would be boring.

2)    Lots of beginning writers only use their eyes when describing things. Remember to use all of your senses. When the mean boy trips over and lands on the cow pat, what does it feel like and smell like? What sound does it make when he lands and if he lands face first, what does it taste like? Grose, yes but it lets the reader experience what is happening to the characters. You don’t need to use all of your senses for every description you use but pick the best sense for the job.

3)    Everyone talks about the SHOW, DON’T TELL thing. I have to admit that when I started out writing, I didn’t understand what they were on about. It ended up not being all that hard. If your character is angry, don’t say “John was angry.” Think about a time you were angry or when you saw someone who was angry and describe what you saw and felt. For example, “John’s face turned as red as a beetroot and his glaring eyes made me want to turn and run.”  Or “John clenched his hands into fists and growled, a real growl like a mad dog.” These examples are much more interesting than “John was angry.”

Art Trail Promo Pic for poster4)    Ask yourself the who, what, where, why, when and how questions when you are writing the story.

”The frightened girl ran through the forest.”     Who is the girl? What is she doing in the forest, what frightened her – was it a sound, a feeling, seeing a monster? Where is the forest, is it in the wilderness, on the edge of the town, is it a pine forest, Australian bush or a forest of alien plants on a newly discovered planet? Why is she in the situation, why is she scared, why is she being chased? When is she being chased, is it in olden times, a futuristic setting, is it day or night time? How is the girl going to get out of the situation, does she out run the thing chasing her, does she hide, does someone rescue her or is it just a figment of her imagination? These questions are brilliant for when you don’t know what to write. Asking yourself these questions can turn a simple, boring sentence into a whole scene or even a chapter of a book.

This is the method I used to write Paper Magic. The first chapter was, Marina is too scared to go and play in the park with the other children. I already knew who so I went straight onto What? Marina wants to go to (where) the park to meet the children but she can’t. Why? She is stuck in a wheelchair and has anxiety problems. When? The last day of the holidays before starting at a new school.  How does she overcome the problem? Nana gives her a magical gift that helps Marina find her courage.

5)    A big part of writing a book or story is re-reading it and editing to make it the very best it can be. The first draft is never, ever perfect. I print my work out and read it with a highlighter. Any time I see the words; was, were, feel, felt, that, just, very, seem, would, should, could, thing, stuff, because, so, then, got, get, has, had, to be, and any words ending in “ly”, I highlight it. These are my whackable words and I know most of the time that sentence can be improved.  In fact, nearly every time you see the work “that”, you can remove it and the sentence still makes perfect sense. Ask yourself, “How can I make this sentence more interesting?” Also look for times when you repeat yourself, writing something very similar to something else you have already written. If you are going to go to the trouble of writing a story, make it a story you are proud of.


Some book shops are stocking Paper Magic. If your local book shop isn’t, you can ask them to order the book in for you. Paper Magic can also be purchased on-line from;

http://ifwgaustralia.com/print-title-shop/    or most on-line book stores.

The best deals are at The Book Depository (they have free postage) and Amazon.



If you wanted a signed copy from the author you can contact him at



Jeffery has a website here where you can check out more of his writing, and his fabulous illustrations.

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

Happy writing:)





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AUTHOR WRITING TIPS – Co-Writing With Family – Hazel & Trevelyan Edwards


Mother and Son Co-authors

Bestselling author, Hazel Edwards (There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, and many other fabulous titles) and her son Trevelyan are here to talk about their new book and share their tips on co-writing. 


Co-writing with family is different from co-authoring with a colleague, because you still have to live together afterwards.

Someone once asked me, ‘Is writing your family trade?’ Until then I hadn’t thought of co-writing in that way. It was just a time management and family workstyle. But it also gives our extended family reason to travel & celebrate together.

I’ve co-written two ‘adventure’ books with my son. The two grandsons are yawn-testers and have inspired some stories.

Low_Res_Single_Trail_Magic_coverHazel’s Tips

  1. Agree on who does what, before you start. E.g. Trevelyan did ALL the THRU walking of the 5 month  2184 miles of the Appalachian Trail which became the ‘Trail Magic’ book. This was the research. I helped with the writing and business side. He wore out two pairs of boots.
  2. Allow for differences in attitudes to deadlines or ways of working.
  3. Have some family fun where you do NOT mention ‘The BOOK’.
  4. Decide on sequence of  author names on cover.  Put most relevant author first  so readers can find it easily, or go alphabetical. We included Quest as Trevelyan’s real middle name because it fitted the adventure book subject.
  5. Agree on title and cover.
  6. Work from the same version of the ms. Or use Drop box.
  7. Possible to co-write even if in different time zones. E.g. Trevelyan lives in Darwin.
  8. Invite all family to book launch to celebrate.
  9. Knowing you will write about it afterwards, enables you to live more intensively and to share family memories.


When I was growing up, Mum had a home office , so authors and illustrators visited all the time.

We had their signed artwork on the walls. But her memoir about the 2001 Antarctic expedition stuck in the polar ice with the chopper crash, inspired me to  write my first book  ‘Cycling Solo; Ireland to Istanbul’ .

I realized you could travel and write honestly about what went wrong or the funny stuff. And others liked reading that.

But I always put off finishing my writing. I prefer the walking or cycling. That’s why we call it co-authoring.  Mum finishes projects.

Trev signing closeup smiling

Trevelyan was kept very busy at the recent Darwin book signing.

Trevelyan Edwards wore out two pairs of boots in five months. He walked THRU the Appalachian Trail of 2184 miles northwards from Atlanta, Georgia to Mt Katahdin in Maine (U.S.A.)

'Trail Magic'  'trail mix'  food.  Trail magic are the kindnesses freely offered to THRU walkers on the Appalachian Trail.

‘Trail Magic’ ‘trail mix’ food. Trail magic are the kindnesses freely offered to THRU walkers on the Appalachian Trail.


Tropical launch setting at Darwin's Nightcliff Pool. (About 50 other guest sheltering under verandah off camera) VERY hot.

Tropical launch setting at Darwin’s Nightcliff Pool. (About 50 other guest sheltering under verandah off camera) VERY hot.

A Darwin-based life-saver and former cartographer, Trevelyan was known as ‘Walkabout’ along the trail. ‘Trail Magic’ shares his minimalist (minus digital devices) philosophy as he treks the most famous hiking trail in the world over five months. At one stage he nearly gave up, but the support of friends kept him going. Trail Magic is the random kindnesses strangers offer travellers along the Appalachian Trail which should be paid in kind. Hence this book.

  images-2  hippo30thanniversary  





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

Happy writing:)



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