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!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Websites- How to LOSE Customers.

I get newsletters from three people in the fitness/diet/exercise/lifestyle area. Just lately I’ve had cause to write to all three of them about things they’ve done that are a MAJOR turnoff for me when clicking on their links. 

One of them offers a freebie item for only postage. Now, I get his other product semi-regularly and it’s excellent, so I assume the new one would be too. However, he had a sneaky clause that meant the product would keep arriving at the full price after that freebie. I think there was a box to uncheck, but it was wayyy down. I wrote to him and said that was not the way to get happy customers (I’d read a lot of snaky comments about it) and he fixed the problem. Now you opt-in rather than having to opt-out.

One of them talked happily about “my f***y would thank me”. I told him that is not the thing to say to an international audience that will include Australians. He meant my behind would be smaller…

The third one had a link to click that promised a piece of information. Clicking the link took me to an unrelated page. He does this a lot, so I think it’s a deliberate ploy. He offers something we might want to know (which veg has the highest carb for example) and that link goes to a hard-sell page. As far as I could tell the info I wanted and was promised wasn’t there at all.

Also – there are the ones who offer information we want and then make us click through screen after screen of video and testimonial. The videos are soooo slowwww. I can read the info in 30 secs but the dude doing the audio takes 2 minutes. So, having wasted about 9 mins waiting for the screens to advance I click off that site. I will never willingly go back. And I still don’t have the info I was offered.

So- mini-rant over. Sometimes, the bait/switch techniques and testimonials tricks can backfire big time. You might pick up a few customers, but you WILL lose a lot like me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Don't Wake the Troll!

Don't Wake the Troll! is a wonderful new picture book by Ben Kitchin, illustrated by Ben Redlich and published by Koala Books. The lively story tells of a group of dwarves whose treasure is stolen by a troll, so off they go to steal it back. The writing style is lively with plenty of word play and the illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.
This is one of those picture books that has wide appeal. Very young children would enjoy the rhythmic text while older ones would find the story exciting. Reading-aloud adults will appreciate the themes of overcoming fear, solidarity and crime definitely not paying off...I especially love the last page!

I'd love to see another collaboration between these talented creators. Let's hear it for The Two Bens!
To follow the Don't Wake the Troll! celebrations and bloghop, pop along to Jackie Hosking's blog HERE  Before you go, though, here's a contest. Leave a comment to be in the running for your choice of the following three prizes:
Ten Picture Book Mistakes (PDF)
50% off an assessment of your own picture book text from Affordable Manuscript Assessments
(Giving Our Kids) a Reason to Write (PDF)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Meet Donna Smith!

Today Spinning Pearls is delighted to host a stop in Donna Smith's Jazmine Montgomery tour.

Hi Donna- thanks for visiting!

Hi Sally Thank you for inviting me along today to Spinning Pearls. 

I thought today we could enjoy a chat somewhat a little different.  When am I talking to children about writing,  I am often asked about Verbs. So, today I thought I might talk about Verbs. 

Understanding Verbs:

Verbs are so exciting as they not only describe a type of action but they also tell us when things are happening in the text. These include tense (past, present and future tense). A verb is also defined as a state of being. Every sentence must have a verb. Identifying the verb will give the reader greater understanding of the sentence.

The cat ate the rat. In this example ‘ate‘ is the verb as it is the action word within the sentence. In the sentence The monkey is smart there is no action word, however there is a ‘state of being’ which is ‘is‘. Therefore ‘is‘ is the verb of this sentence. Sometimes, this can be a little tricky.  You can always ask your teacher for help if you are unsure.

Sometimes the verb can be changed by adding an ending. This occurs with Tense Verbs. Tense verbs have an ending added to the base verb to show the reader when things occur in the text. Such as past, present and future. The most common endings include:

1) ing – This is added to the verb to show the reader the text is ‘present’ tense. When using this type of tense verb, changing the base word always needs a little helper such as words like: were, was, are, is.

For example:
Timmy was kicking the ball.
Jazmine is going to music lessons.
Ben's kindy friends are reading books.

In each of these examples the base verb  has been changed to include ing (reading) and a helper has been included (are).

2) es – This is the easiest to remember. ‘es‘ is added to a base verb which ends in ‘y‘. The ‘y‘ is dropped in most cases and ‘i’ is added, then ‘es‘ becomes the new ending.
For example:
Fly becomes flies
Spy becomes spies
Cry becomes cries
Try becomes tries

3) s – is added to a base verb to show present tense IF the subject in the sentence is a single person/ thing. ‘S’ is also added when text is written in the third person.
For example:

Timmy eats pears.
Jazmine swims fast.
Benjamin likes trucks.
Sometimes the word may also change completely such as:
I teach poetry to I taught poetry. In this example teach becomes taught – the word changes completely

I hope Sally  this provides your readers some insight to what Verbs are and how they are used.   I will pop by for a visit too. 

Thank YOU Donna! 
Donna is the author of Jazmine Montgomery: Toy Detective. For more information, visit

If you have missed any tour stops so far, you can catch up on the following links:
Helen Ross Writes blog – Helen Ross


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Marlo Can Fly, by Robert Vescio

Marlo Can Fly is a new Australian picture book by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Sandra Temple and
published by Wombat Books in 2013.

Marlo Can Fly is a lovely picture book. Quite apart from the story, which I'll get to in a minute, the book is a visual and tactile delight. The cover is simply designed with a light and airy look and the endpapers have a soft bird-patterned design. The interior artwork keeps the naturalistic colours of the Australian bush and the illustrator has been true to the text.

Marlo Can Fly is the story of a rugged individualist who happens to be a magpie. Magpies, so the other birds tell her, should fly. Marlo has other ideas. Why should I fly just because the others do? she thought. After an encounter with Sally the python, Marlo decides slithering looks like fun... and so does kerthumping like a kangaroo. Failure doesn't bother Marlo, but conforming does. But then she meets Kev Koala. Will Marlo put a frightened baby's needs above her own wishes?

Marlo is a doughty character with a warm heart and a waspish manner. Her story is funny, touching and ultimately triumphant as Marlo discovers the true freedom of being herself.

Visit the author at  and see the trailer at

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Me & Him...

Today I welcome Karen Tyrrell to Spinning Pearls to talk about her follow-up to Me & Her - titled, appropriately enough, Me & Him!
1.     How did the experience of writing Me & Him compare with that of writing Me & Her?
Writing Me and Her was a cathartic experience, healing from the traumas of parent-teacher abuse and mental illness. I wrote from two points of view, Me: mother, wife, teacher and writer. Her: psychic, healer to the living, telepathic to the dead and I was very psychotic.
I wrote Me and Him as a conscious decision to share my healing tools with others. Me and Him comprises two books in one. A self- help book with a guide to recovery and to mental happiness. And a memoir of dramatic events as Him, my husband-carer, divulged new insights into my illness.

2.     Which book took you longer to write, and why?

Me and Her took six years and over 100 drafts to write, learning the craft of writing from the bottom up. Me and Him only took a year, utilizing my experiences as a memoir and mental health author, blogger and a magazine article writer.

3.     How many editing passes do you usually make before you hire an outside editor?

I re-drafted my book until I couldn’t improve it any more. Then I sent out my manuscript to beta readers for feedback and line editing. Finally I sought Affordable Manuscripts for final editing and proof reading.

4.     Do you have any advice to give writers regarding self-editing?

Complete a self-editing course like Queensland Writers Centre: Year of the Edit to learn structural and line editing.

5.     If you self-edit, is there any need to hire an outside editor?

YES, you need an experienced pair of eyes to pick up spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes as well as errors with the facts, logic and sequence. An editor will suggest improvements to formatting and word choice too. This ensures your manuscript is of the highest possible publishable standard.

Book Giveaway

Please leave a query/comment/shared/experience here to win a free eBook of Me and Him: A Guide to Recovery.


Special BONUS Offer

Purchase an eBook Me and Him: A Guide to Recovery on Amazon between March 10-17 and you’ll receive …

*FREE Me and Him audio book

*FREE audio meditation

*FREE mental health video

Email your Amazon receipt dated March10-17 to to claim this Special BONUS offer.


Thanks, Karen! I've had the chance to read both these books and I recommend them to anyone with an interest in self-determination and mental health.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Next Big Thing


The Next Big Thing is a game of tag for authors. I was tagged by Wendy Blaxland.  I have tagged two other authors for next week. They answer the same questions about their own next project, and tag other authors for the week after.
Follow the game around the world…Where will it end?
What is the working title of your next book?
 Clovie Trefoil - Book one of the series The Fairies of Farholt.
Where did the idea come from for the project?
 I love writing fantasy and I wanted to write an exciting new fantasy series for young readers in primary school. I decided to plan the whole series from the beginning. Working titles for the stories are "Clovie Trefoil", "Billabunya", "Tonash and Genimo", "Lark and Shalla", "Foss Ammonite" and "Pother Sneckboggart".
What genre does your project fall under?
 This is fantasy adventure with a quest component.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Clovie would have to be played by an unknown, I think, since she is about ten years old in human terms. The Cromach could be played by any character actor who can do a Scots accent and carry a staff with dignity.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your project?
 When the Great Cairn of Sky loses its cap stone, Clovie Trefoil sets off on a quest across the Lands of the Fae to find the elusive Heatherghillie. (That's the first book only.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
 It took about a week of work, but I didn't work on it continuously because I was away for  few days in the middle of the process.
 What other projects would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don't know of any others that work quite this way.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a series of fantasies for this specific age group, and make the stories exciting rather than "cute". (I don't do cute.) I also wanted to play with multiple formats - audio, e- and teacher-notes.
What else about the project might pique the reader's interest?
The first month of work on the series is chronicled in an already-published book called Finding Farholt
Find out more at
And next week, on 9th January, two other wonderful authors will tell you about their Next Big Event: Robyn Opie Parnell and Michelle Tatam