Sunday, June 1, 2014

STOP the Bully, by Karen Tyrrell

Today I welcome Karen Tyrrell on the first stop in her STOP the Bully tour. Karen is an Aussie author who cares passionately about mental health and family well-being. STOP the Bully is a lively, well-paced story for mid-grade readers. Best of all, it's not only an "issues" book. The characters are people we come to care about.

To prepare for Karen's virtual visit, I asked her some questions about Stop the Bully.
Q. Brian is a somewhat unusual name for a 21st Century child. How did you come to choose it for your main character?

A. Brian is an old fashioned kid with old fashioned morals. I named him Brian from the very inception and it just stuck.

Q. There’s an interesting twist in the book. I won’t give it away, but here’s a question; did you begin with the twist in mind or did it come up later?

A. The twist idea and the ending came first for me. Then I wrote the story backwards, giving clues to the mystery, making sure the twist would only be revealed in the final chapter.

Q. STOP the Bully has an arresting and powerful cover design. (See below.) Could you tell us a bit about that?

A. I wanted a cover to be provocative, eye-catching and a tiny bit controversial. So, the teacher or parent would ask the class, what do you think the story is about?  Are the characters assertive or aggressive? In reality, the cover depicts two different scenes where Amelia in one scene and Brian in another, save a bullying victim from the bully.

Q. STOP the Bully seems to me to be an excellent book for classroom read-aloud. Is that the way you envisage it being used, or is it more of a novel that just happens to have this particular subject matter?

A. YES, I envisage teachers reading a chapter or two each day leaving the kids wanting to hear more. (Fingers crossed). I would love children to be hooked in until the very end when Brian’s story is solved and resolved. STOP the Bully is perfect for spring-boarding discussions on bullying strategies and resilience.

 Thanks Karen! Read on for more on this brand new book.

STOP the Bully, by Karen Tyrrell
Want to follow the tour for a chance to win a prize? 

STOP the Bully Blog Tour & Book Give Away
Empower KIDs with assertive anti-bullying strategies!
WIN: Signed copies and eCopies of STOP the Bully.
Leave a comment on any of the 15 hops June 2- 11
The MORE comments you leave the MORE chances you WIN.
WINNERS announced on June 16 http://

Blog Tour June 2-11
2 June STOP the Bully Release Party & Reviews http://
             Sally Odgers Interview
3 June Jill Smith Review
            Charmaine Clancy Interview
4 June  Sally Murphy QUICK Questions
5 June Melissa Wray Interview
            Yvonne Mes Interview
6 June Ali Stegert Interview
7 June Kids Book Review CURLY Questions
9 June Bug in a Book Review
            Jackie Hosking Interview
10 June June Perkins Interview
           Robyn Parnell Interview
11 June Nicky Johnson Review
              Literati Radio Interview 9am AEST

STOP the Bully is endorsed by Kids Helpline and aligned with Kids Matter, Australian curriculum.
Download FREE children's activities and FREE teacher notes from
ISBN: 9780987274069
STOP the Bully is now available from Amazon.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meet Marko Stout: Multimedia artist

Today I welcome Marko Stout, multimedia artist, to Spinning Pearls. Art and artists have always fascinated me, so I was delighted to get down to some curious questioning.

Q. Hi, Marko - Multimedia is a familiar term, but what does it mean in terms of your art?

A. A multimedia artwork can move and occupy time or develop over time, rather than remaining static as with traditional media. The work now engages senses of sight, hearing, touch and even smell. The newer formats provide an expansive palette for artistic expression for today's artists; I don’t think an artist should limit themselves to a particular medium.

 Q. Do you see your work as primarily of interest to the greater public or to experts?

A. I create work that primarily interests and inspires me, hopefully it also clicks with critics and collectors. So, regardless of what others think it will still be great art to me. You need to create as if you’re not afraid of critics- they will always be critical, it’s their job.

Q. What is your own attitude to 21st Century urban life?

A. New York can be a very busy place filled with modern stress that never seems to really stop, being at red alert all day and every day- 24/7. But this is great for the artist and curious people, there is so much to taken in, some many unlimited opportunities to observe all types of people and really just not enough time. So a good artist must also intrinsically now how to distill and edit everything,  so the viewer will understand what he’s talking about. This is the best time to live in the best city in the center of the universe- I love it!

Q. Does your subjects' reaction reflect or exaggerate yours?

A. When working with a model I try to provide the basic idea of what we’re going for a defined sense of its meaning- but I like the freedom to capture the aesthetic that appears sublime- that cannot be directed.

 Q.Do you see your work as gallery/show based, or is it also acquired by people who just happen to love one piece?

A. Some of the larger installations or collection of works are meant to be taken as a whole and cannot be broken into smaller individual elements or the entirety and meaning of the piece ceases to exist. But, much of my work and especially the prints are indeed meant to stand alone as a lone gallery display or part of a collector’s assembly. We are now starting to provide some of the more popular standalone prints on a limited edition print series in galleries. 

Q. Has your style changed a lot over the years?

A. I know my style has been influenced by the changes in the New York society that I’m trying to comment on in my work and the changes in technology and mediums that allow of ever more comprehensive artistic expression.  I’m not sure if you could say my work belongs to any particular art movement or style, but whatever the style is, it is definitely modern and very 21st century. One thing that is certain is we live in a time where everything is always changing very quickly- and a relevant artist must change also. I think the terms of styles and artistic movements are losing their meaning as we all blend styles and techniques to communicate an artistic idea or a certain feeling or make a comment on society- that’s the nature of modern art. 

Thanks so much for this, Marko. I love to hear from people so enthusiastic and focused on their works.  For anyone wishing to find out more about Marko Stout and his artistic vision, head off to

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Almost Dead - Kaz Delaney

Kaz Delaney is the author of quite a few books but her new title, "Almost Dead", is - well - pretty lively! I am happy to host Kaz and her book at Spinning Pearls as part of her blog tour. Now, Kaz is a modest person (fun, bubbly, wonderful... but modest). So, I thought I'd put her just a little outside her comfort zone. This is not cruelty. It is a public service. I asked Kaz to pretend she was the ideal reader for "Almost Dead" and to write a wildly enthusiastic letter to someone extolling its virtues.

"I'll try," said Kaz.

I think you'll agree she did more than try. She totally pulled it off! Over to Kaz!

Dear Auntie Kate,
Thank you so much for sending me Kaz Delaney’s latest young adult novel, Almost Dead.
What a treat! I loved it! Suspense, mystery, romance and teen angst all in one story! It even had a ghost – a very cute and cheeky ghost  - which was such a change! I shouldn’t have been surprised that I enjoyed it so much. As soon as I saw the cover I had a good feeling creep over me. Such pretty,  bright colours! Good energy! It just screamed “I am fun!” I suspected right from that moment that this had the potential to be a great summer holiday read. (Though, when the cool change swung in and I was curled up under a doona, I realised it was a good ‘anytime’ read.)
I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Man! That Macey Pentecost has such a lot going on in her life! At first she seems kind of tough, as in strong, and so self-contained but I soon found out that she can be just as vulnerable as the rest of us.  Her outer shell is just a bit more brittle than  - well  - than mine, anyway.  Okay, I wouldn’t say she’s all marshmallow once you peel back that shell – maybe a hard caramel that gets sweeter and softer the further you get into it? What do you think? Am I right?
I really liked her! And she so smart and funny! And oh wow – that mouth! I wish I could think up lines like she can. Hilarious!  I wouldn’t like to be on her bad side though. I don’t think she’s cruel; in fact, she’s got the really strong moral streak and she fights against social injustice all the time – but if you were the underdog, she’d be on your side and I swear it would be like having Batgirl there with you!  Then again, if you were cruel or thoughtless – and especially if you act in a really stupid way – then be warned:  she doesn’t take prisoners! I really liked that about her.
My heart broke for her over the whole family thing. Man, I don’t know how she coped... I’m not sure how I’d cope if I was hit with something like that – especially right after her mother walked out.    I don’t think I’d handle it as well as Macey did though. I’d probably fall apart and never leave my room!
Still, if I lived in a place like Macey’s that wouldn’t be such a bad idea, right? What a mansion! And right there on the beach on the Gold Coast.  It sounded like paradise and it just added something to the story. I had never been that keen on the GC, but now I can’t wait to have a holiday there and walk around those streets that Macey and Finn walked. Those kebab and burger places are real you know.  I looked them up! And the markets and that beach strip... 
My fave parts? Hmmnn. I’m torn between the stalker story line and the romance. Nick of course was just too cute and at first I wanted Macey to get with him – even though that would have been weird because at that time he was astral travelling and therefore not really real... But then I met Finn. O.M.G. Is he hot or what? Please, please I hope I meet a Finn one day...
But you know, on second thought, it was definitely the stalker mystery that I loved best. I love, love a good mystery and this one kept me guessing all the way to the big reveal!  And there were some parts that were downright scary!  I couldn’t put it down; I had to keep reading to see who it was! And there were so many false clues!  It could have been any one of them. Me?  I truly had no idea who it was! It was like – whammo!  Kaz Delaney caught me completely by surprise – and that was great! Ah-mazing!
Yep, this has certainly gone down on my fave read pile for this summer.  It has great pace – it really moves along quickly.  Did it challenge me?  Well, apart from the mystery – which is kind of a great game between author and reader - I guess it’s not that kind of book. This is pure entertainment  and on that score it really delivered.
So thank you again! I laughed, I cried and I shivered with anticipation – and sometimes in fear and worry for Macey.  The perfect reading experience.   J  I am sooo going to go out and look for ‘Dead Actually’ now!  (Unless, of course, you’re thinking you’d like to get me an early birthday pressie? Okay, just kidding...)

Love K xx

There! Now, if anyone has questions of comments for Kaz, you can totally write them in the comments area below. (Oops- now I'm talking like Macey...)

And Kaz and her publisher are offering a free comp of Almost Dead. Since I know this giveaway will be popular, I'll give you the month of February to enter. At the end of the month I'll draw the winner out of a hat. And if you've already bought a copy by then, that is totally fine. You'll have an extra copy for a friend.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Meet Matthew C. Martino!

Today we welcome Matthew Martino to Spinning Pearls. Matthew is a writer, actor and film producer based in the UK.

Q.1.  Hi, Matthew! I see you have worked as an author, an actor and a film producer. This is an impressive resume for anyone, let alone someone in his early twenties. Please tell me which you count as your main talent or field, and why?

A. Thank you, I wouldn’t know which one to call my main talent field but I do enjoy writing , although my books may not be novels as such I’ve always enjoyed the art of researching about something and putting it on pen and paper. It's obviously a bit hard to write and I never had respect for authors until I wrote "Let's Fly". I then realised that it's not all milk and honey. That having been said I feel my knowledge and talent within film production is growing day by day.

Q.2.  We'd love to hear a bit more about your book, "Let's Fly". What inspired you to write it? Who do you see as an ideal reader for this book?
A. "Let's Fly" was one of those things that I put my whole heart into.  I’ve had an interest in aviation since I was back in the streets of Africa. I felt inspired to write the book as I wanted to provide resources for aspiring pilots to be able to learn more about the field. I realised that most pilot books on the market were too complex so I simplified mine as much as possible. The ideal reader for "Let's Fly" could be anyone in essence; it does have a few physics and general knowledge facts embedded in it.

Q.3. Which of your production jobs has been the most challenging and why?
My most challenging role had to be my own "Let's Fly" Documentary. I never realised how it can be to get everything together all by yourself. I usually jump onto projects where a Director and most crew are already attached but having to create everything from scratch was a bit of a challenge. Still, I do love a challenge and I learnt so much from it and I know in future when I endeavour into my own production I will know what to look out for.

Q.4. You obviously enjoy a wide range of interests and talents. How do you see these developing as you progress through your twenties?
A. I do!  I’ve been told it's not a good thing to be a ‘Jack of all trades’ so I might have to stick to one thing sooner or later. In all honesty I don’t know what the rest of my twenties will bring, I have realised that towards the end of 2013 and going through to now I’ve not been spending too much time on set. I’ve gone from being on set every day to pre-production meeting, investor meetings and doing castings and location scouts. In an ideal world I’d love to continue to do a bit of everything and hopefully find a lucky lady to share the journey with me.

Q.5. Still looking into the future; do you have a specific project you’d like to tell us about?
A. Yes the future...I’m currently meant to be working on a film ‘Essex Crystal’ which will be directed by award winning director Azeem Khan. That will be an interesting venture and a challenge. I’m also in talks to bring back "Let's Fly" Documentary but I can't say too much at the minute. I’ll be signing someone on to pen the project then take it from there. I'm also looking to put a lot of time into my charity works this year and take a more hands on approach. Sadly my writing days are gone – I don’t think I can write anymore, I now tend to lose concentration quickly.

Thanks for your time, Matthew. I really admire multi-talented people.

 For those who'd like to find out a bit more about Matthew and his endeavours, here's a link to his Star Now page.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kingdom of the Sun

Kingdom of the Sun, by Ariffa Bevin
Today I welcome author Ariffa Bevin to Spinning Pearls. Ariffa agreed to answer my curious questions about the intriguingly titled novel - The Kingdom of the Sun.

Q. "Kingdom of the Sun" is a splendid title for a book. How did you come up with it?

A. Out of all the questions that are asked about my book, I have to say that this one is my favorite. So, thank you for asking it! I came up with the title “Kingdom of the Sun” by thinking deeply about the book’s message and what I wanted the book itself to signify. The sun is an extremely significant theme in the novella for its representation of literal and figurative light, hope, and strength. 

You see, although Helena is the protagonist of the story, the book is really about the kingdom of Sooryan as it tries to regain all that was taken away from it in order to be seen as a country worthy of the name Sooryan, and I will leave it to my readers to decipher the true meaning of that word.

As an author, I want “Kingdom of the Sun” to be like the sun. I want it to not only tell the story of a nation fighting for truth, hope, honor, and happiness, but I want it to shed light on the unseen and ignored issues and perspectives of society and the world. I want my readers to feel the strength that comes from the sun in believing they have the strength to overcome anything. And like how the sun signifies hope, I want Kingdom of the Sun to represent the hope that change can and will happen for the better: in the world and in our own lives.

Q. Please tell us a bit about the story. 

A. I would love to! Set in the modern-day kingdom of Sooryan, Kingdom of the Sun tells the story about a nation that became successful based solely on education and its Scholars as the foundation. However, the story opens with Sooryan in economic, political, educational turmoil. In a kingdom where Scholars and education were once top priority, the Royals of the past and present years favor competition, status, and money more. And although Sooryan’s people and Scholars are well aware of the nation’s decline, Helena is the only one who truly sees what needs to be done and has the courage and strength to do it.

Q. You know those "if you like this author, you might also like this one" lists? Please tell us a couple of authors that fit in with you and your book.

A. Well, there are two authors that come to mind. The first is George Orwell and his novel 1984. Kingdom of the Sun possesses many of 1984’s characteristics like literary symbolism, rebellion, and most importantly, its story pertains very much to what is happening in today’s countries. The second author that I believe has a similar style to mine is Margaret Duras and her beautiful novella The Lover. What I enjoyed most about this book, besides the touching true story, is that Duras uses very simplistic sentence structure that is extremely powerful and dense at the same time. I tried to do the same with Kingdom of the Sun.

To learn more about Ariffa and Kingdom of the Sun, please visit the sites below:

Goodreads: Book page

Thank you, Ariffa! If anyone has comments or questions, I'm sure Ariffa will be happy to respond.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ascending the Spiral with Bob

I wanted to interview Bob Rich about his new book, Ascending Spiral, but since we've known one another a long time, I decided on a new approach. Here is what I asked him, and what he replied!

My Question:

I can interview you? Excellent. I could ask you questions, in the ordinary interview style, but I think I'll just go for one big question and it's THE big question. Your new book is called Ascending Spiral. Please suppose, for a moment, that it is an international best seller, fuelled by viral word-of-mouth marketing. What's the buzz? What do your readers take away from this book that prompts them to recommend it to others?

Bob's Response:

Thank you for the question, Sally... I think. I am not very good at blowing my own trumpet.

OK, first because it is entertaining. It’s a good read, and people have told me that once they start, they don’t want to put it down. It currently has 25 reviews, 17 of them 5 star, the rest 4 star. One reader posted a very critical review, but even he gave it 4 stars.
My publisher nominated “Ascending Spiral” for the Pushcart Prize because... well, because he enjoyed reading it.
Recently, a reader interviewed me (unusual, I know), and I posted the results at my brand new blog She told me she’d read it three times! No, not the interview, the book.

Second, because it is designed to change the world. I am a professional grandfather, and I love children. What kind of a future are they growing into? Let’s not worry about climate change for the moment, but there are many other things I don’t like.
We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction event of Earth’s history. Some of it is due to ocean acidification, but most is habitat destruction. Nearly half of over 7 billion people live in cities. Human structures now cover a significant area of what was once farmland, and before that part of nature. Add to this damage from mining, replacing rainforest with oil palms, land covered by transport infrastructure, and you can see that we are killing the natural world. And we are not apart from nature, but a part of it, and the beauty and diversity of life is a source of joy and wonder, as well as what keeps us alive.
A great advance of the 20th century over the 19th was the reduction of disparity between rich and poor. In most parts of the world, almost everyone could have a reasonably decent life. This is no longer the case. With the population explosion, there is less for everyone. And with a culture of greed, more and more ends up the exclusive property of fewer and fewer people.
Then there is pollution. We are poisoning ourselves, and every other living being. Combine this with all the radiation we have unleashed, and a chronically stressful lifestyle, and you have the epidemic of cancer that is rarely acknowledged, but is growing all the same. When I was young, cancer was an old person’s disease. Not any more. This is why one of my books is on cancer.

OK, enough gloom. The point is, I want to do something about it, and all my 15 books are tools for improving the world.
I could have written a nonfiction book advancing my philosophy -- but that would have only been read by people who already agree with me. Fiction is more effective at reaching people who are open to a change of viewpoint, but haven’t thought about the issues that have concerned me for over 40 years. So, by entertaining, I am recruiting: join my team!
I have diagnosed the problem: it is a culture of conflict and greed. The path to survival, to a decent, humane, equitable life for all of us, is culture change, to one of compassion and cooperation. This is what Ascending Spiral is about, and this is why I want it read by millions.

So, that's what Bob has to say when I corner him with an outrageous (for a modest man) suggestion. I found it fascinating and thought-provoking. Who wouldn't want his or her book to improve the world?
Below is a picture of Bob in one of his favourite roles, and below again, his bio.

Bob's Bio

Dr Bob Rich   is the author of 15 books, 4 of them award winners. He and his wife chose to live below the official Australian poverty level, and raised 3 wonderful children while doing so. This was not on welfare benefits, but by working part time, and replacing paid work with directly providing for their own needs. A byproduct was an interesting, meaningful, stimulating, contented life. You can read about the reason for this crazy behaviour in Bob’s essay ;. His motto for today’s world is, “Live simply so you may simply live.”

Okay, so that's Bob Rich and this is his new book. Thanks to everyone who visits Spinning Pearls. Please leave a comment. If you have any questions for Bob, I'm sure he'll answer them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THE STORY OF CHARMS Part 1 (Concerning Clovie)

In May 2013, overwhelmed as usual by work, I decided to start a new little project just for fun. It all started before that though, with the series The Fairies of Farholt, which I am developing with an illustrator. I thought it would be good if my young fae protagonists had signature necklaces or charms, which could possibly be marketed with the books. I looked on eBay for inspiration, searching specifically for four-leaved clover or shamrock charms for Clovie, the protagonist of the first book. I didn't find what I was looking for (they were all too big, too crude, too fancy or just too expensive) but I found a lot of wonderful charms- a much wider variety than I'd known existed. Right away, my brain concluded this was exactly what I needed for a project for my grandchildren... to read about that, tune in to the next installment of this blog-serial. (You can do that by subscribing to this blog. Don't worry... you can always unsub if I waffle on too much.)

In the meantime, here are some links to check out. (Please do!)
The Fairies of Farholt project is at  Yes I know... my son would click his tongue and tell me that url is too long. I tend to go for long descriptive urls, partly because they are intuitive and partly because the shorter simpler ones usually belong to someone else already! Here's the tinyurl version. which is just about as long as the other one. Hmmmm.

To see CHARMS, visit or,

The Charms project is out there now, but two other projects, KEEPSAKES and LUCKY DRAW are still open for contributors. If you're interested, pop along to KEEPSAKES or LUCKY DRAW Aha! Those are short! Short, I tell you! SHORT!