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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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e-book collaborators, Jane & Hazel

Today, we’re lucky to have popular Australian author, Hazel Edwards visiting. Hazel created that very famous Hippopotamus who sits on the roof eating cake.

Hazel Edwards (www.hazeledwards.com) is a readaholic  (reads in the bath & listens to audio books in the car but not simultaneously ) She has been writing since she was in Grade 6. Best known for the picture book series ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake’, which is now a film, Hazel writes YA novels such as ‘f2m;the boy within’ , co-written with Ryan Kennedy and has even co-written ‘Cycling Solo;Ireland to Istanbul ‘ with her son Trevelyan Quest Edwards , but he did ALL the cycling.

Currently Hazel is collaborating with illustrator Jane Connory on e-book junior mystery series ‘The Frequent Flyer Twins’ and ‘Project Spy Kids’ where Art, a non-reader is the hero. Next is ‘Astrid the Mind-Reading Chook’and the lost voice at the Grand Final.

Hazel mentors young writers, is an Ambassador for 2012 National Year of Reading and a 2012 nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Award. She also writes a story each birthday for the children in her family. ‘Henry-Garnet, the Serial Sock Puller’ was the latest for 1 year old Henry’s birthday.


Co-writing is a great way to write a better book. If you team up with someone who has different skills, together there are two brains and two imaginations working on the project. If you’re a ‘procrastinator'(that’s someone who puts things off) having to get your share of the writing done before you next meet, helps.

From my ‘f2m;the boy within’ co-author Ryan, I’ve learnt how plot a novel on Skype(Ryan lives in New Zealand) , create a book trailer and do a 3 way webchat and book launch online. I also learnt facts about punk music and new words, because our 18 year old character is a punk musician.

From Jane, I’ve learnt how to format better, and that she thinks in shape and colour and graphics and I think in abstract ideas. I love her character cameos of the frequent flyer twins. and especially the BIG dog called Tiny from the Project Spy Kids series. Check out our ‘Design Your own Mystery’ sheet.Jane illustrates the covers, and the characters ,formats the e-books and draws artwork to go on t-shirts, coffee mugs etc. This is called merchandising.

From the ‘Cycling Solo;Ireland to Istanbul’ project, we’ve learnt that cyclists and backpackers love to read adventures which are short entries. Many people keep blogs, but you need to write for your reader as well as yourself.So we crafted the candid, funny stuff. This is a factual book.

Hints for Co-writing

1. Choose someone who works at your pace.

2. They can live anywhere, because you can co-write online.

3. Your story can be in different formats .

4. An e-book with photos or illustrations, or an audio story can travel internationally, quickly.

5. Series mysteries can have similar covers to link them, just change the colour.

6. Expect to re-draft work. We did 30 drafts for the 30,000 words ‘f2m;the boy within’

7. Work regularly, Jane and I work on Thursdays.

8. Accept criticism of your work. Consider the reason.Then re-write.

9. Read aloud to hear if the story flows.

10. Craft the story for your reader. Choose an apt title.

Make a new friend, via writing & have fun.





Title:”f2m:the boy within” (FOR YOUNG ADULTS)


Author: Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing

EBook Versions: Kindle edition on Amazon.com  and

Readings  bookish ebooks


Click on the picture on the right of Hazel Edward’s great Design Your Own Mystery activity and download the PDF.

This activity is lots of fun for all ages.

We hope you enjoy writing your mystery story.

Keep watching this blog for more great author interviews and activities.

Feel free to share the links:)




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