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Saturday, December 12, 2015

And the winner is...

And the winner is... Ginger Woods, who subscribes to my rather irregular newsletter. She chose Abandoned: A Lion Called Kiki - so here's a picture of the little lioness who became Kiki in the book, and her foster mother Mona - (Mona of Rainbow Street is named in her honour). The kids are me, my very excited sister Kathy and brother David - a long time ago in Colorado Springs.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Holiday Giveaway! Choose your signed book

You may have noticed that the calendar and the year have spun around and it’s December already. For many of us this means that Christmas is approaching as well - and Hanukkah is already here! – so in the holiday spirit, I’m giving a signed, postage paid book to a randomly drawn winner. Just comment below or by email by Friday  11th December 7 pm Australian Eastern time (midnight Thursday 10th December Pacific time for US & Canada) and tell me which one of my most recent books you’d choose:


Or any of the RainbowStreet Animal Shelter series:
 ABANDONED! A Lion Called KikiDISCOVERED! A Beagle Called BellaSTOLEN! A Pony Called PebblesrLOST! A Dog Called BearMISSING! A Cat Called BusterWANTED! A Guinea Pig Called Henry
(If you have all of these you're welcome to choose an older book!)
If you don’t win and would like to give someone a signed book, you can still email me – I have copies to sell of some of my older books and most of the newer ones, and am happy to sign and send them for special occasions.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Keeping First Draft Creating separate from Editing

Our friends at grammarly.com have sent a helpful list of things to watch for when editing - whether it's your NaNoWriMo novel or anything else. However I've held back on sharing till the end of the month, because I think it's essential that while you're in that first draft and actively creating, you must NOT worry about spelling, commas, or anything else that blocks your flow.

The important thing in your first draft is just to keep writing. Even if you realise you've just used a stereotypical description - 'red as a beet', etc – unless you can come up with a better one immediately, just leave it there for now. If you're truly worried that you won't notice how bad it is, use an asterisk or footnote e.g. 'red as something unusual that fits into the store: ruby? traffic light? fresh blood?'

Then move on. No matter how beautiful a sentence seems as you write it in that first draft - it's highly unlikely that it'll remain in that form in the finished book. So relax, write, and when your story is done and needs tidying and editing, be absolutely rigorous about these five tips.

Good luck to everyone doing not just NaNoWriMo, but taking that brave step of leaping into any new writing!

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic

Friday, October 02, 2015

Champ's Story of Survival - a Real Life 'Rainbow Street Animal Shelter' story

Today, Harry the Rescue Dog is interviewing Champ for his Rainbow Street Animal Shelter blog post  with special thanks to Fiona Ingram for translating, and for including Champ's poem as well!

Tell us a bit about your story?

Hi Harry, thanks so much for featuring my story on your blog. By the way, what a great blog! I read that you are a rescue dog too. My story has a wonderful happy ever after ending and I’m such a lucky pup for that. I was treated very badly by my previous owners, and it’s a good thing my memories of those bad times are a bit hazy. I was actually saved after my owners wrapped me in two plastic bags and dumped me at a shelter. I guess they thought I was dead, and I thought I was dead too – but I wasn’t!

I was saved by a caring animal rescue organization called S.A.F.E. Rescue in California, and they made sure I came back to life with lots of love, medical care, and good food. My life just turned around. Then a children’s author called Fiona Ingram (who is also a devoted animal lover) saw my story on Facebook and asked me if I’d like to be a co-Pawthor on a biodography. Of course I said yes! What pooch wouldn’t? I thought this is my chance to tell people how to love and care for their pets, and to say NO to animal abuse.
You may be wondering what’s in my book; is it all just sadness and tears? No, there’s a bit about that in the beginning to explain to readers how the book came about, but there’s tons of happy, fun stuff. I wrote Mi Happy Eva After Pome to say how things happened. And then I also wrote a super hero short story, starring me, for younger readers. How Superdog Champ Saved the Day is very exciting. It’s how I saved the dogs of Thousand Oaks, California from being dognapped by bad guys. There’s also lots of helpful stuff about how to look after pets, how to help animals in general, and how to be a good citizen and help elderly people who may not be able to care for their pets any more.

I hope people who love animals will buy my book because the proceeds go to S.A.F.E. Rescue so they can help even more animals like me get saved and find new homes. Here’s something cool – if people buy my book on Amazon, I can Pawtograph it for them!

What's the best thing about living in your home now?

Having people who love me, people who care about me, people who take me for walks with all my other doggy siblings; having a lovely cuddly warm bed to sleep in, and just knowing that when I open my eyes every morning I am safe, loved and secure. No more pain and heartache, no more tears.

Is there anything you'd like people to think about before they get a pet?

First, adopt, don’t buy. There are so many adorable animals, just like me, who are longing to find their Fur-ever Family. And rescues make the most wonderful loving pets because they are so happy to be with a caring family. Second, make sure you have the time to spend with your pet; that you have the right environment and enough space for it. Third, make sure the type of animal suits the mix of family members. If people are not so young any more, they should consider a more senior pet that won’t jump about and demand lots of playful activities. Fourth, animals need the right food, regular dental and health check ups, and annual inoculations. These are all serious considerations before thinking about getting a pet.

I hope Harry’s followers will look me up on Twitter and social media. I love making new friends!

SAFE Rescue Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SAFERescue2013 
Champ’s Bio: Champ is an adorable poodle mix. He loves to be loved, and has not let being a Pawthor celebrity turn his head. His favorite toy is his squeaky ball; and he loves going for walks and being cuddled. Collaborating on this book was the biggest step in his life and he hopes that people will love it to bits and tell the whole world. Readers and supporters will agree with S.A.F.E. Rescue when they say: “Champ has touched the hearts of so many people and has been an inspiration, if for no other reason than to bring awareness and attention to the plight of abused and neglected pets. They too just want to be loved and cared for and can and will blossom into wonderful companions with unconditional love, despite their past.”
Fiona Ingram’s bio: Fiona Ingram is a South African children’s author. Her multi-award winning middle grade adventure The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the first in her adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona loves animals, reading, books, anything artistic, travel (any excuse), and especially doing research for her books. Fiona has an amazing adopted daughter, Mabel, and is passionate about getting kids to love reading. Writing this book with Champ has been an absolute joy. Find out more about Fiona on her website. Find out more about her animal rescue books on Caladrius Books.
(Bit of book blurb)
On May 11, 2013, a little dog was dumped at a California animal shelter. He was enclosed in two sealed plastic bags, with another one over his head and tied around his neck. Miraculously, the shelter vet was able to revive him. More miracles happened. He was taken in by S.A.F.E. Rescue animal shelter in Thousand Oaks. Hundreds of supporters on Facebook followed his precarious road back to health. Again, the odds were stacked against him: his condition was so bad, his wounds so deep. But this little champion (renamed Champ) decided to live. A torrent of love and funding poured in for Champ. Many people said Champ and his brave little struggle for survival had changed their lives. From being beaten by life, Champ has become an inspiration and penned his tale Champ: My Story of Survival with the help of biodographer Fiona Ingram. Please share Champ’s story: it deserves to be told.

Monday, September 21, 2015

It's impossible to overemphasise the importance of literacy, so I'm sharing this infographic from Grammarly  https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker (More than just cute quotes on Facebook!)

I did have one query, as I thought the infographic showed Australia as having a 12% illiteracy rate, whereas it seems to be between 1 & 3% (depending on which site I referenced). However, what it depicts "is that 12% of all illiterate population leave in East Asia and the Pacific region." Australia is of course part of that region - so it's a good reminder that there is a lot of work still to be done to improve literacy quite close to home, no matter where you live. And if you live in Australia, there's one section of the population that especially struggles with literacy - so although there are many charities and organisations around the world working to improve literacy, I'm just going to mention The Indigenous Literacy Foundation. 

As well as donating directly to them, if you're a Nim's Island fan or teacher, don't forget that if you buy the ebook Nim's Island: Excellent Stuff to Make, Cook, Read and Do100% of the proceeds goes to the ILF. 

And meanwhile, think about how lucky we all are to simply be able to read this!

Literacy Day

Saturday, August 01, 2015

The award Nim would be most proud of

The environment and children’s literature are two things I care about passionately, so I was absolutely thrilled last Tuesday night when, at a lovely event at the Melbourne’s Little Bookroom, Rescue on Nim’s Island was awarded the Widlerness Society’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature (fiction) ­– and the inaugural Puggles (children’s choice) award as well!
The Little Bookroom, photo by Elise Jones

When I first wrote Nim’s Island, I didn’t set out to make Nim a wildlife warrior. She just ended up one because if you live in a pristine natural environment, you have to care about keeping it pure. If you have a friend who’s a sea turtle, you care about whether she and her babies will survive. If you live on a small island, you know that every part of the island works together, and if you damage any part of it, it will damage the whole. We live on a big island in Australia, and other continents are bigger still, but the principle is the same.
Hollyburn School, Vancouver, using Nim as an environmental hero, 2008

But the good news is that every good thing you do for the environment can have big effects too ­– and it’s important to remember that we need to start with what’s right around us. You can sign a heap of petitions to save whales, but if you plant the rushes that indigenous butterflies breed in, you can help to save a species in your own garden. 

And that’s really what Nim does. You don’t have to be quite as dramatic as she is – it’s probably best not to look for dynamite to defuse, but I guarantee that you can make a difference. If you read the books on this list, you might find surprising ways to do it. I'm reading one of the shortlist right now: The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek, by Emma Homes, and I'm learning lots! 
With illustrator Geoff Kelly, photo by Coral Vass
With author Emma Homes

for the whole list and more pictures of the great evening, hosted by the lovely Leesa Lambert, with an inspiring keynote speech by Morris Gleitzman. And a special thanks to Coral Vass for allowing me to use her photographs.
Meeting Rescue on Nim's Island illustrator Geoff Kelly for the first time,
photo by Coral Vass

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lost and found lion friends

It’s happy book birthday for the new paperback editions of Wanted! A Guinea Pig called Henry, and Abandoned! A Lion Called Kiki. Harry the Rescue Dog is celebrating with an updated post on the origin of the lion story – because believe it or not, that’s the truest story in all the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter series (the Rainbow Street Pets book in Australia).

Can you imagine getting a phone call from an airport to say, “You’ve got a parcel here!” – and when you get there, finding out that a friend has sent you a lion cub? That’s what happened to friends of my parents when I was a kid, living in Colorado.

The cub was a lioness, and she was named Cappy. Her father was a cross-eyed lion named Clarence, who starred in Daktari, a TV series set in Africa, but I’m not sure why someone decided to send this cub to our friends – who already had six dogs and a three-legged goat! (And can you imagine how excited my brother and sister and I were when they came to visit us? The cub even met our horse!)

Our friends took wonderful care of Cappy, but of course she grew into a lion, not a big pussy cat. In the end they realized that the best thing for her would be to take her somewhere where she could live more like a lion. It was as heartbreaking as it would be to give up any pet. They chose the zoo at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, although she was later sold to the Topeko zoo in Kansas. They visited her there a couple of years later, and she seemed to remember her name when they called her.

That was the happiest ending that little lion could have had in 1967, but when I wrote the story I set it in the 1980s and so was able to make it even happier. I used a wildlife refuge in Zambia because when I phoned the Melbourne Werribee Plains Zoo to ask some questions, I spoke to a vet who was about to return to Zambia to set up a wildlife refuge to look after lions and other native animals.  

It also struck me that if the memory of the visiting lion cub had made such an impression on me, it would have had a much bigger effect on a child who'd been given it. So as authors do, I used some bare bones of truth, and fleshed out a story that explains why the Rainbow Street Shelter manager Mona has dedicated her life to animals.

And thanks to my original post when the book first came out, we’re back in touch with the friends who were surprised by that parcel so long ago. A lovely bonus to the story.

Harry's hoping to interview a guinea pig rescuer in a later post. (I don't really trust him to interview guinea pigs…)