Young Australian Art & Writer’s Awards

On Saturday night, 17th November, I attended the 2012 Young Australian Art and Writer’s awards in Melbourne. The winners work was of such a high standard. Congratulations to the children who were recipients of the award, including some amazing artists from our remote indigenous communities. You all have done your families, schools and communities very proud. Congratulations to the Children’s Charity Network for providing such a wonderful opportunity to support, promote and showcase the talent among the young people of Australia! And thank you to Ford Publishing and Creative Net for allowing me the opportunity to see first hand the results of such a wonderful initiative. Along with the award winners and their families, and representatives from many of the sponsoring companies, scattered around the room were many well known children’s authors and illustrators, and others from the world of children’s literature. They are a fun bunch, and I always very much enjoy spending time with them all.

Naming Characters

Charles Dickens called the sickly character in A Christmas Carol “Small Sam” and “Puny Pete” before settling on “Tiny Tim.”

I can relate, Mr Dickens! Naming characters is a tricky business for most writers I suspect. Somehow the name has to ‘fit’ the character and finding just the right name can take a great deal of time. I start with a book of baby names and also keep my eyes and ears open for interesting names. I often take a quick note on my phone or in one of the notebooks I keep around the place. Sometimes the meaning origin of the name is the decider and sometimes it’s just the image that name conjures in my head. What are some characters from fiction that have stayed with you and how important is their name? How would you feel about Harry Potter if his name had been an old fashioned, Ignatius, or maybe a modern name like Joel? I wonder how much of Harry’s character is tied up in his name for readers. And if any of you would like to add to my collection of possible character names for humans or animals, feel free to leave a comment. All name donations will be happily accepted and who knows, they may even wind up in a book!

Yabba Yabba Do!

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of visiting the Trinity grammar school in Kew, Melbourne, to attend the 2012 Yabba awards.

Yabba is a not-for-profit organisation who seek to provide children a voice within the general Australian children’s book industry. The YABBA Awards encourage children to read recent Australian published books, rate them against all others and then finally reward that book they feel is best. For me, this year’s shortlist had an added sparkle to it as two of my very good friends had books on the shortlist, Karen Tayleur with her wonderful ‘Six’ and Sue Lawson with the magnificent ‘After’.
This years full shortlist for each category were:

Picture Story Books

ENIGMA – Graeme Base
TERRIBLE PLOP – Ursula Dubosarky & Andrew Joyner
DRAGON’S LIE – Kym and Oliver Lardner
FEARLESS IN LOVE – Colin Thompson / Sarah Davis
CAPTAIN CRABCLAW’S CREW – Frances Watts / David Legge
RAT IN A STRIPY SOCK – Frances Watts / David Francis

Fiction for Younger Readers

SELBY SPRUNG – Duncan Ball / Allan Stomann
TASHI AND THE GOLEM – Anna & Barbara Fienberg, Kim Gamble
JUST MACBETH – Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton
SCHOOLING AROUND ?- SERIES – Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton
OUR AUSTRALIAN GIRL: MEET GRACE – Sophie Laguna / Lucia Masciullo
BILLIE B BROWN BIRTHDAY MIX? UP – Sally Rippin / Aki Fukuoka
OUR AUSTRALIAN GIRL: MEET POPPY – Gabrielle Wang / Lucia Masciullo

Fiction for Older Readers

GRIMSDON – Deb Abela
SPECKY MAGEE AND THE BEST OF OZ – Felice Arena & Garry Lyon
PIZZA CAKE – Morris Gleitzman
13 STOREY TREEHOUSE – Andy Griffith / Terry Denton
JUST DOOMED – Andy Griffith / Terry Denton
CONSPIRACY 365 – REVENGE – Gabrielle Lord
IVORY ROSE – Belinda Murrell
THAI-RIFFIC! – Oliver Phommovanh

Fiction for Year 7-9

GRAFFITI MOON – Cath Crowley
THYLA – Kate Gordon
MIDNIGHT ZOO – Sonya Hartnett
BOOFHEADS – Mo Johnson
AFTER – Sue Lawson
FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK – Melina Marchetta
HELLO GOD – Moya Simons & Lisa Coutts
SIX – Karen Tayleur
ALL I EVER WANTED – Vikki Wakefield”

And the winners:
Fiction Years 7-9 Phoenix Files—Arrival
Chris Morphew, Hardie Grant 2009

Fiction Older Readers 13-Storey Treehouse
Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan 2011

Fiction Younger Readers Alice Miranda at School
Jacqueline Harvey, Random House 2010

Picture Storybooks Fearless in Love
Colin Thompson & Sarah Davis,

Congratulations to all of these talented authors and thank you to all the readers for taking the time to vote for your favourite books.

Promising Beginnings Need Endings

For the past couple of years I’ve chosen the slow lane on the writing road, just plodding away on one project while spending time on other things. But lately I find the ideas are flooding in so thick and fast it’s hard to keep up with them. Wonderfully, writing is once again taking centre-stage in my life.

Lots of travelling to exciting destinations, Mexico, Kenya, Uganda, Italy and Wales has been a huge source of inspiration, but other ideas still springboard from those random and sometimes bizarre thoughts that pop into my brain from time to time, leading me down all kinds of curious paths. Just yesterday I had an idea form and take root, and I found myself spending hours on character development and plotting.

The hard part is knowing which ideas to pursue and which to lie quietly for some future awakening. I love the discovery stage, where characters and settings form and plots and sub plots evolve with so much promise.

Beginnings are more fun than endings. Finishing a project carries with it a sadness, an ending of a relationship with your characters. Like a grown child leaving home for the first time, you know they’ll always be in your life but things will never quite be the same again.

So I find myself with a growing list of stories in various stages of development, and it really is time to get on with completing a few.
Like many authors, I’m always juggling the demands of family and work and precious time to myself for writing. And how do I choose? Which project is more deserving when all of them offer exciting new adventures?

Well of course just a few steps forward on a regular basis will take you to your destination, and I did finally finish that slow project. I’ve finished a couple more since then too. Okay, so on with the next one. Oh wait, I just had another idea…

Spring Has Sprung

Sometimes it seems horse owners have either a feast or a famine to contend with. In a drought, there is a shortage of feed but in good years, we have the opposite problem.
Spring is such a wonderful time of year, but if you are a horse owner, it does come with some problems. When the grass is lush and green and growing faster than Black Caviar can run, those of us with fatty boombah ponies and horses have to be vigilant. Of course exercise, lots of exercise, is great. But I find myself juggling time to ride with all of my other commitments.
Lately I find myself spending a lot of time moving horses around. A few hours on the grass, then back into smaller ‘lock up’ paddocks to keep them from eating themselves to destruction. An obese horse can cause itself a lot of problems, the most obvious of course being Founder, or more correctly, Laminitis. I have two who might be at risk in that category, and even worse, one of them also gets a tummy upset from all the green. Not only does he swell, but he gets a green backside as well. So I feed him dry low quality hay for his tummy upset, restrict his intake of green grass and try and exercise him as often as I can.
I hope all you horse owners out there are aware of the dangers and that you are managing to keep your equine babies from self destructing. If you’re not too sure, it’s a good idea to get online and search ‘Laminitis’ and find out what you can do to better manage your horse’s well being. Just like people, when it comes to food, too much of a good thing is never too good.

My boy Jaspa - a nice healthy weight here but I have to watch him.

Chester Lewis Blog Tour

Today I welcome author and publisher, Steve Rossiter, to share some insights on the anthology, The Life And Times Of Chester Lewis and to talk about some of his other projects as well.

You are one of the Victorian authors, along with Michael Grey, Jo Hart, Louise D’Arcy, and myself, and also the publisher of The Life And Times Of Chester Lewis. There is a broad cross section of writing genres in that group, how did those particular authors come to be involved?

Of the Victorian authors, you were the first onboard. I wanted a children’s author to write a story with Chester between 0 and 10 years old. As a children’s author whose work I had some familiarity with and someone I had interviewed before, you came to mind. Jo Hart and Michael Grey had come to my attention by being finalists in short story competitions I had run. Louise D’Arcy had been recommended by novelist Gordon Reece. In each case, I had read at least a few short stories or a published book by each author

Quite a few of the Chester Lewis authors are from regional areas. Do you think that might have had an influence on the approach they took to their stories?

Not in the sense that I’d be able to read the stories and tell from the writing alone which had been written by a regional author. Individually, if you were to ask each author, I’m tipping at least some of them would attribute something about their life experience which happens to be a bit different from what they would have experienced living in a major city, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to an identifiable ‘regional influence’ in their writing.

The Chester Lewis authors are a mixture of emerging and established authors, did you see a difference between the elements each brought to the character of Chester Lewis?

Each story was primarily focused on a different decade in Chester’s life, different stories were narrated from different point of view characters, and there are numerous geographical settings. These factors, combined with the different writing style and personal background of each author, mean that each author brought different interests, knowledge and ways of writing their story. There is not necessarily a clear divide between the stories of established authors and emerging authors.

If the opportunity arose to write about one of the other characters in the Chester Lewis anthology, which one would you choose and why?

I wrote the final story in the book from the point of view of Chester’s granddaughter. Chester grows into a complicated and important man throughout his life, and writing from Chester’s point of view would provide a lot of great story potential. There are a variety of points in Chester’s life where it would be particularly interesting to go deeper into his life and personality at that time.

In addition to Chester, there are various other characters who may be just as interesting to write as or about, such as his mother, his wife, one of his work colleagues/employees in the family company, his son, or other characters who I’ll avoid describing here to prevent plot spoilers.

Just a week before Chester Lewis was released, the Melbourne-based YA short story collection Possessing Freedom was released. What can you tell us about it?

Possessing Freedom is a collection of 12 stories told by 4 authors, set in a fictional near-future Melbourne in 2026, where ghosts exist. The general population of the story-world can’t see the ghosts. When Alice, a 17 year old psychiatric ward patient, discovers her ‘hallucinations’ are ghosts, that not all of them are friendly, and that they want something from the living, the situation grows more desperate, for the living and for the ghosts.

There is a blog tour full of interviews about Possessing Freedom at

As well as The Australian Literature Review website, you also run the Writing Teen Novels site. What are your plans for the future of Writing Teen Novels?

Writing Teen Novels will undergo a big expansion from January 1st. It will feature:

– daily posts from novelists about writing teen novels

– a range of established novelists from North America, the UK/Europe, Australasia and India/South Asia as monthly contributors throughout 2013, including numerous New York Times bestselling novelists

– posts from guest novelists each month

I’m happy with the 2013 line-up of novelists. Some have had their novels published in dozens of languages or countries. Some have had many novels published over decades of writing. Some are early in their novel writing career, with several very successful novels, and movie adaptations on the way. Some have worked in senior roles with major publishers. Some also write and/or produce for film and TV. Some balance writing novels with being a high school teacher. The mix of novelists covers a broad range of teen novel genres. 2013 will see a large and varied range of great articles about writing teen novels.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing my own first novel, set in 1939 Poland with a teenage main character, with the intention of publishing in 2014. I am aiming for a novel which is both entertaining for teen readers and a serious historical novel for adult readers.

I also have a new site, Writing Historical Novels, launching Jan 1st along similar lines to what the expanded version of Writing Teen Novels, and I will be relaunching Writing Novels in Australia with a new line-up of novelists for 2013.

There’s a technical glitch with my links tab but you can copy and paste the link below to see more of Steve’s blog tour on other sites.

Riding High and Pony Patch Books

For all of those people who email me asking where you can get my Riding High and Pony Patch books, they are all available on
For some reason the link isn’t working here but if you search Author: Bernadette Kelly, the books and ordering information will come up.

all four individual books also available

all eight books in the Riding High series

The Life and Times of Chester Lewis -Blog Tour

Recently I’ve been involved in a project that’s a lot different from my other books and stories. The Life and Time Of Chester Lewis is an anthology of short stories by eleven different authors. Each of us has written about a different time in the life of Chester Lewis, which when you put them together tell the story of his rich and varied life experiences. The authors involved are a mix of established and emerging writers, with a range of publishing experience.
My story, the second in the anthology, is told when Chester Lewis is just eight years old. Writing it was an opportunity for me to try my hand at writing from a child’s perspective, but for an older audience, and I very much enjoyed the challenge.
On October 24th I will be interviewing Steve Rossiter, publisher and also an author in the book, here on this blog. The Life and Times of Chester Lewis is available as an ebook on

I'll be interviewing author and publisher Steve Rossiter here on October 24th.

Gorilla, Gorilla!

When I flew into Uganda after leaving Kenya last August, I really didn’t know what to expect.
The country is such a hotpot of colour, smells and sights and sounds that it’s hard to know where to look first. The multitudes of people, the roadside stalls and markets, the bumpy dirt roads and the relentless traffic all combine to create a sensory overload. We drove from the Uganda International airport at Entebbe, to the nation’s capital of Kampala. Through crowded streets for what seemed like hours in the traffic, we finally arrived at our hotel, high up on a hill overlooking Lake Victoria. But such a spectacular view and lavish surroundings weren’t quite enough to override the many scenes of poverty and hardship we encountered on the journey. The next day we set off early for the 13 hour drive to Buhoma, at the base of the Bwindi impenetrable forest, from where we would set out on our Gorilla trek.
We had two days of trekking through dense rainforest on steep mountain terrain, with just one hour each day to spend with the Gorillas, but every aching muscle was so worth it. Such wonderful creatures, so like us but so very unique. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to see the gorillas in their home environment, to learn a little about their ways and to know that now, with protection from poachers and support from the Ugandan and Rwandan governments, the gorillas are slowly increasing in number and may one day be no longer endangered.

The View over lake Victoria from our Hotel

What you looking at?

A scene from the main road in Kampala on the way to our hotel.