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From January to March, it’s all about “fantasy” here at Writing Classes For Kids and we’re going to meet some fabulous authors and get their tips.

Bestselling Felicity Pulman is our January Feature Author and she’s also generously donating two of her books for our ‘First Quarter’ writing competition.


I’ve written numerous novels for children and teenagers, most notably Ghost Boy, the Shalott trilogy and the Janna Mysteries series.

My novels reflect my fascination with the unknown in our world, like ghosts, reincarnation and time travel, along with my interest in Australian history and also medieval time, and my delight in writing crime and mystery stories.

I often have to do quite a lot of research, which is always a good excuse to travel!  Most recently I visited Norfolk Island to research my new novel, Hearts in Chains, which will be published by Harper Collins next year.  This is a story of a love that lasts through time, from the brutal 2nd penal colony in the mid-1800s to the star-crossed ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and their difficulties in the present.


I recently completed the Janna Mysteries, my medieval crime series for teenagers (although adults seem to love them too!)

Because I live in Australia and the books are set in England, I had to make several research trips to walk in my character’s footsteps and see what she sees on her quest to find her unknown father and avenge the death of her mother. It’s important to create a credible setting, so I visited all the places Janna went to on her quest, including a huge forest, a working farm, a water mill, an abbey (I had to go to France for that), Wilton, Sarum, Winchester and Oxford.  

I always walked with pocket guides to flowers, trees, birds etc so I could identify what Janna would have known.  I found this    ‘dreaming time’ really helpful and often inspirational – like when I took a side trip to Stonehenge. I had no intention of sending Janna there, but when I saw those huge monoliths I imagined a bleeding body stretched out on one of them, and I knew I’d have to use that image somehow. This became the central inspiration for Book 4, Willows for Weeping.  Guide books are often sold at these historic sites, which are also really helpful. 

Even more important than setting are characters, and they drive the other crucial component: plot.  

Authors usually draw on their own experiences when creating characters.  For example, in Book 3, Lilies for Love, Janna spends time at Wilton Abbey with the nuns, learning how to read and write so she can read her father’s letter to her mother and hopefully find clues to his identity.  I used my horrible experience in an all-girls boarding school to envisage a closed community of women and to create the characters of the nuns: the rivalry, jealousy, ambition, loves and hates that led to some of the crimes and mysteries Janna needed to solve. 

Sometimes I wrote something that turned out not to be true once I’d researched it properly, and then I had some rewriting to do.  But I also learned to trust my instinct and explore whatever ‘crazy’ idea might pop into my head (like Stonehenge) because those ideas often turned out to be vital either to the plot or to the development of the character.

Writing the story is the fun part, but after that you have to get serious about editing and polishing your story to make it the best it can be before sending it to an editor – or a teacher!


Writing activity (a):  Imagine that you live in medieval time. Who are you and what do you do? Describe your day, where you live, your family, your work, your mates, what you wear, what you eat, etc.

Writing activity (b):  You live in medieval time and your best friend has been murdered. How would you go about solving the murder without modern technology (eg finger printing, DNA testing, etc) to help you?  What steps would you take? What techniques might you use?  What sort of knowledge might be helpful?

All Felicity’s books, including the Janna Mysteries series, are available through www.amazon.com either in paperback or e-book format. 

 Felicity Pulman is donating two books to our Writing Classes For Kids 1st Quarter competition, so make sure you enter. Competition closes 31st March. See our competition page for details.


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Today I’m thrilled to welcome talented US author and thoroughly nice person, Laura Elliott. Laura is the author of two wonderful YA novels Winnemucca and 13 on Halloween, and has many more to come. She has kindly agreed to donate her fabulous books for our December writing competition.

I met Laura in LA at a conference earlier this year. I admire her dedication and enthusiasm for her work. Welcome Laura, so happy to welcome you to my blog and thank you so much for donating your books for our December writing competition.


I’m excited to be here today to talk a little bit about writing. Thanks for asking me to spend some time with you and your readers, Dee. First of all can I just say how amazing Dee is? Not only is she a talented writer, but she is loads of fun. Los Angeles will never be the same!


What worked and didn’t & why?

One thing I’ve learned is that every book sends me on a unique writing journey. My debut novel Winnemucca, came to me in a different way than my latest novel, 13 on Halloween, book 1 in the Teen Halloween series. Ginny, the main character of Winnemucca, a small-town fairy tale, just showed up one day and told me 80 pages of her story and then stopped. Her story was raw and came very fast. And then, nothing. I had this character who needed to be on the road. A character who believed her feet were asking her questions and she had to find the answers. A character who conjured a fairy truck driver to take her to her own version of The Emerald City, Winnemucca, Nevada. It took me five years to find out why. I kept writing different middles and different endings. I tried to capture an enchanted road trip that made sense, as much as questioning feet and fairy truck drivers would let me, but still have the story feel unexpected yet inevitable.

13 on Halloween came about because of NaNoWriMo. I try to take the challenge every year. This is my eighth year. Are any of you participating this month? [www.nanowrimo.org] I was looking to write a funny book this time last year. And, at the time, I lived very close to the ocean. I’d go on long walks in a town called Pacific Grove, CA haunted by literary greats who lived there before me; John Steinbeck, Joseph Campbell, and Robinson Jeffers. And they kept me company and my long walks when I was trying to sort out the plot and characters. All I had when I began 13 on Halloween a few scribbles about how I wanted to explore a girl’s unluckiest year, which in my mind was her 13th year. There were many challenges along the way. I knew I wanted to have Roxie, the snarky 12-going-on-13-year-old to be funny and to see the world through the Animal Kingdom. I wanted to explore how this would affect her perceptions of the world and her changing role in it.

A big part of my process this year came when I decided to be independently published. All of a sudden every decision was mine. And it was so much fun and totally terrifying. I went to work designing my covers and putting together trailers, which I’ve never done before. Making my own book trailers was a big part of my process because by making short movies I got closer to the heart of my stories and that taught me how to describe my novels when I’m asked to, which can be a bit terrifying for a new writer. But, don’t worry. I really believe that a lot of writing is about faith and trust in yourself; and listening and acting upon your own intuition. Which are what both of my books are about. You might not know what you are writing about while you are writing. But, keep it up. Those answers will come in time. You will learn what your writing is about when it’s time for you to share it. I really believe that.

Writing activity
What’s your language? Every teenager I know has their own special way that they talk with their friends. I wanted to write a character like you, only a little over-the-top. Roxie uses animals as verbs [most of the time.] You can check out an excerpt of her language here to get an idea.
link to :http://laurasmagicday.wordpress.com/13-on-halloween-excerpt/

Use your own special language to describe the last time you found yourself wanting something so much it hurt. Be sure to include a scene where you are talking to your best friend.

Whenever I have a tough time writing, I always imagine telling a story at my kitchen table. If it’s hard for you to begin your writing, pour yourself a glass of milk, get out a plate of cookies and pretend you are telling a story to your friend sitting in the chair next to you. I can’t wait to read it!

Dee, what a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful readers with me today! I am so thrilled to be here. Maybe one day, I’ll get to visit the land of OZ. It is a setting in one of my novels, and I’m telling my husband I need to do lots and lots of research! Hee-hee.


When fear’s as blind as love, how far would you go to find your own happily ever after? One mistake will change Ginny’s life forever. One answer will set her free. Once upon a time Ginny’s road blood ripened, the day she got wise to love. Engaged to the high school quarterback, his quarter-carat ring and enchanting smile should have been enough for her. But, she stands him up and takes a walk where every step questions her happily ever after gone-bad and the fate of the mother she never knew. The mother her father refuses to talk about. Ginny fights to untangle her big, fat, lie-of-a-life on an enchanted road trip to Winnemucca, where she believes all her answers lie. To solve the riddle of her past, she must outrun everyone who wants a piece of her future; including a man determined to see she never has one.

13 on Halloween:
Twelve-year-old Roxie wants to be like Adrianne, the popular girl, the peacock, who gets everything she wants; a trampoline, a flock to prowl around the mall with, and most especially invitations to parties. But everything changes when Roxie invites all the popular kids in the eighth grade to her thirteenth birthday party on Halloween and they all come. And a boy, the boy, actually talks to Roxie. Roxie has the best night of her life until the peacocks decide they want to celebrate her birthday in a way Roxie never expects in her attic, with a gift that is literally out of this world, and a pact to never tell a living soul what happens next.

You can buy 13 on Halloween here: https://www.createspace.com/3678772
You can buy Winnemucca here: https://www.createspace.com/3610611
13 on Halloween trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksO8iGOhc5s
Winnemucca trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa9n1KIpaWw

Thanks for sharing your tips and writing journey with us, Laura. I’m hoping to get back to the US and visit you one day soon.


P.S. Don’t forget to enter our December Writing Competition to win one of Laura’s fabulous books plus other great prizes. Check out the competition page for details.




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