Tag Archives: North Queensland

Counting down


Flyer01CTWF LitDin

Hi all,

This is a very exciting time in the lead up to the festival. I mean look who is coming to dinner –  Geraldine Doogue – wow!

To get us all into the swing of celebrating the written word Cairns Tropical Writers Festival Committee invite you all to our fundraiser Writing, Reading and Music with Seaman Dan and Catherine Titasey – happening Saturday 23rd August – yes this Saturday. Visit http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com to get your tickets. You won’t get afternoon tea unless you have booked, paid and bring your ticket with you.

Seaman Dan launches his latest book Steady Steady – he may sing asong or two and Catherine Titasey will read from her book My Island Homicide.

To find out more about the fundraiser, Geraldine Doogue and her book – The Climb, Iain McCalman, Helene Young, Andrew Matthews and all the other amazing festival events and personalities visit http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com

Tea for Two


Tea for two


Hi all,

It’s been a while but I’ve been busy trying to put the program together for the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – check out http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com

The program will be launched at the wonderful ” Tea for Two” event planned for Friday 27th June in the Botanical Gardens, Cairns.

I said to a writing colleague recently that putting the program together was like doing a Rubic’s cube whilst drunk. Right when you think you have everything in place you notice one tiny little problem, you make the adjustment, but … that leads onto another tiny little adjustment and so on which brings a cascading effect of hugely demoralizing proportions.

I’ve taken a rest from fiddling for the moment. It will be ready for 27th June, it will be on the festival website and you will be able to start planning your festival experience. Which workshops, which chats, which book signings – so hard to choose. Seeing the program for the first time will be like opening a gorgeous box of chocolates. The difference is with a writers festival program it’s none fattening so you can gorge to your hearts’ content filling your head with knowledge and not gaining a single kilo!

I invite you all to “Tea for Two”, hosted by Tropical Writers Inc.  featuring the effervescent Elizabeth Martin and the intriguing talent of Josephine Moon.

Collins Booksellers of Smithfield will be managing the book sales.

It’s all coming together


Hi all,


The first Cairns Tropical Writers Festival brainstorming session in March brought an absolute flood of ideas, not just on the day but they continued to flow in via e-mail.

I’ve just got back from the second brainstorming meeting and it’s as if some sort of magical process is happening – a theme is developing the ideas are taking shape the programme seems to be almost putting itself together.

Thanks must go to those regional writers who travelled from as far afield as Townsville, Port Douglas, Mossman and even the outer reaches of Gordonvale.

It’s time for me to get some sheets of butchers paper so I can plot out the rough draft of how the two days – 13th and 14th September will look. Whatever happens it will be exciting.

Keep a close watch on http://www.cairnstropicalwritersfestival.com for developments and the big news on our star presenters.

Cairns Tropical Writers Festival 2014


 Diane and Tropical Writers Festival banner

Hi all,

I’ve been very quiet but very busy.  I spent the latter part of last year redrafting my children’s novel in preparation for online presentation to a publisher.  Online submissions are great; speedy, saves trees, saves on postage but you still go through the horrors of waiting to find out if that publisher is interested in your work. The guidelines said if the publisher didn’t get back to me inside 3 months then I had not been successful. Well … the deadline approaches – I’m feeling less than chirpy! However I have picked myself up dusted myself down and looked into other possiblities.  I can do something on Friday 31st January so I will.

Facing rejection after rejection is soul destroying so in order that I don’t completely loose faith in myself and my abilities, the other thing that has been absorbing my time recently is THE FESTIVAL! Yes Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is set to leap onto your calendar on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September 2014.

My position on the committee is to represent the regional writers of far north Queensland in much the same way as I do on Regional Arts and Development Committee.

So read on and find out how you can become involved with the 2014 Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – an initiative of Tropical Writers Inc.

Your festival needs you and your ideas.

Saturday 1st March 2014 – 10.00am to midday.

I hope you are well rested and ready to launch into the festival year. 
CTWF committee has been busy behind the scenes for some months now but we’re at the point where we need your input.

The popular Public Arena is an integral part of Cairns Tropical Writers Festival – it is a fabulous opportunity for local and regional writers to showcase their talent.

The Festival committee has already received a number of innovative ideas for presentation in the arena but we want to offer yet another stimulating, entertaining and action packed programme. It’s been done before – three times – 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Can it be done again? Absolutely!

The venue for the fourth biennial Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is Rydges Tradewinds Esplanade – the same venue as 2012 and takes place over two days: Saturday 13th September and Sunday 14th September, with the Literary Dinner on Saturday evening.

Please join the Festival  committee on Saturday 1st March 2014 – 10.00am to midday for free morning tea served at 10.30am; poolside at Rydges Tradewinds Esplanade.

Take the opportunity to have a say in your festival. Network with other regional writers, stimulate your coffee buds and your brain cells for a fun morning of brainstorming. 

  • If you are unable to attend this meeting please take the time to complete the short survey. Just click on this link which will take you to Survey Monkey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CWLD9NZ
  • We would really appreciate your feedback at each stage of the planning to ensure the program reflects Regional Writers current needs.  Your details will remain confidential.  We only ask that you include them so we can follow up on any suggestions or comments you make.

There will be a follow up meeting on Saturday 5th April 10.00am – midday for those of you who are willing to become more actively involved. Please put the date in your diary but I will send out a reminder.

  • For catering purposes it is very important to have numbers. Please RSVP to me –  Diane Finlay at findpublishing@hotmail.com I’d hate you to miss out on cake.
  • By spreading the word you will support the success of the 2014 Cairns Tropical Writers Festival and ensure that people in your network have the opportunity to be involved in an inspiring event.

Remember I said I was getting back in the driving seat – well here’s what happened!


camp crazy coverTrudie Trewin

Okay we are off. I’m very firmly in the driving seat – absolutely no room for growth when you put your butt into the driving seat of a Lamborghini Gallardo – a very sporty little number. Which I don’t own – I’m hiring. I’m on my way to pick up Trudie Trewin. Won’t she get a surprise? We are travelling in style.  Our trip will take us along the coast from Cairns to Port Douglas and to the Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple resort and spa. Try saying that after a few drinks!

As we cruise along the coast road, Coral Sea glittering in the sunlight, towards Port Douglas I ask Trudie what she’s working on at present.

“At the moment I have about three picture book texts in varying stages of completeness and a young adult novel which is still brewing in my mind. I need to clear some points with the Federal Police before I get too much further into the plotting for that one. Now that sounds intriguing doesn’t it?  And how boring am I going to be, because I don’t really like to talk too much about what I’m working on at the moment – I’ve had too many people comment, ‘Are you STILL working on that one!’ So now I like to just surprise them with a completed book!”

Anyone not in the book business has absolutely no idea how long the writing, editing, publishing process can be. There are exceptions but most suffer this frustration. Trudie has just interrupted with, “Are we there yet?” How childish. We’re not and she still doesn’t know exactly what I have in store for her.

Trudie goes on to tell me some of her recent successes. “I have a short novel with Walker Books coming out mid year – one of their ‘Lightning Strikes’ series. It involves the same characters as my first Lightning Strike book, Camp Croc. This one is called Camp Crazy and is another humorous mis-adventure of boys in the bush.  Also coming out early next year is a picture book with Windy Hollow Books. It’s called Calpepper’s Place and is about a camel looking for a more exciting place to live than the desert. The illustration roughs that I’ve seen have me very excited to see the finished product – some of the expressions on Calpepper’s face are so funny!”

I am constantly amazed at the talent of illustrators to bring a story to life and how often the illustrator sees something in the story that the author hasn’t ever thought of. I know Trudie received a surprise like that with her book, I’ve lost my Kisses.

We pull into the car park, Trudie and I endeavour to extricate ourselves from the low seats. She’s infinitely more graceful; swinging her legs sideways using the door and seat back as support. I, on the other hand, adopt the fall sideways onto the ground method. I’ll let your imaginations fill in that picture. Giggling we check into the spa. We are having the works. Total body massage, sauna, facial, manicure, pedicure; finishing with an invigorating swim in the resort pool before booking into our rooms. We’re staying overnight because I have a lot of champagne to drink and I’m not driving back until tomorrow! During all of this pampering we will be fed delicious titbits of smoked salmon, oysters, prawns; washed down of course with the icy cold champagne. The staff will then bring strong coffee for me and cleansing green tea for Trudie.

As we relax under the skilled hands of our respective masseuse Trudie tells me about her best moments so far as a writer? “

“Best moment is a tie between getting my first picture book acceptance for I’ve Lost My Kisses, with Scholastic Press, and the day the package containing the author copies arrived. I carried a book around with me everywhere that day, popped it in front of me while I ate, read it on the toilet, shoved it in everybody’s face, and made my family listen to me read it until I fell asleep with it on my pillow!”

I’m aching for the day I can do just that.

Now we are quite relaxed I feel brave enough to ask Trudie about her worst moment. She sighs, gives me her cheeky grin and spills the beans. It also involves her first book.

“Firstly was the excellent news that Scholastic in the US were going to publish I’ve lost my Kisses, then the even better news that they were using it as their lead book for the Spring catalogue and printing 30,000 copies (usual print run for a non-US pic book is about 8000). When the author copies arrived, I grabbed one of the books and read through – only to discover that the resolution line “I’m filling up with kisses,” gasped Matilda. “Just exactly when I need them.” was missing. I checked my proofs – the line was included in the proofs I signed off on…. so it MUST be in the books, right? I reached for another copy… same thing. I was still in denial – it wasn’t until I was reading the third copy that the realisation slowly dawned on me that of course if the line was missing in one book, it would be missing in all thirty thousand books. Bad day in the Trewin house that day. Scholastic US apologised profusely and sent me a box of Hershey’s Kisses.  I shouldn’t complain as it still sold reasonably well in the States, but I can’t help thinking it would have done so much better if it hadn’t had the printing mistake in it!”

I don’t know about you but I felt my heart sink as Trudie told me that. She’d done everything right and yet…

My manicure is progressing nicely; Trudie is being pedicured as she imparts advice for aspiring writers.

“Read widely, in your genre, and in others. Persevere. Don’t listen to your family’s praise of your work (remember, your mother used to stick your squiggles of crayon and blobs of paint on the fridge and declare them to be masterpieces!)  People who love you have unreliable opinions of your work! Get critiques from manuscript assessors, enter competitions.”

With some difficulty we continue the conversation swathed in warm towels. We’re about to have facials so just before I drop off I ask Trudie why she writes.

“Unlike some writers, I don’t have a need or compunction to write. I’ve heard other writers say they can’t not write. And I’ve always felt like a bit of an impostor because I don’t have that same drive! Don’t get me wrong, I like writing, even love writing, but I don’t need to write.  In fact I’ve been very successful at not writing for months at a time when life gets too busy! In the end, I guess I really enjoy playing with an ordinary sentence or paragraph, and turning it into something that makes me smile, laugh or cry.”

Can someone remind me why I said we’d finish off with an invigorating swim? I’m far too relaxed and Trudie is fighting to keep her eyes open. I think we’ll finish off with a restorative snooze instead.

News hot off the press: Camp Crazy appears in the shops tomorrow; published by Walker Books as part of their Lightening Strikes series. Wooohoooo!

But he’s wonderful around the house.


Herberton Museum 23 Feb 2013 116

Had a magnificent walk with this critter this morning. We are into perfect winter weather now. I am soooooo lucky to have the most wonderful park on my doorstep. Buddy runs away from me while I charge around the park like an eegit with a bag of tasty morsels to tempt him back to me.

Does it work?


I am now the proud owner of a dicky shoulder, sore neck, very painful sacro iliac joint and a ripped deltoid muscle (and I don’t mean I’m ripped with bulging muscles). The dog tore it when he decided to leap off in a different direction to me. You know those wonderful “Halti” creations which will train your dog not to pull? Well as he leapt and ripped my deltoid he also ripped the “Halti”

I’ve counted four very large bruises on my shins from when he has barrelled into me.

However I am happy and I believe he is too. You don’t know what you are letting yourself in for when you take on a rescue dog – just as well really. Ignorance is bliss.

But he truly is wonderful around the house.It’s just he’s a Jekyll and Hyde dog. I just haven’t worked out where he keeps the potion!

In truth it is puppy madness – he’s not quite 2 years old and filled with pure joi de vivre. I really don’t care what anyone thinks of me as I tear up and down the grassy slopes, yelling my head off. I’m proud I have the fitness level and the stamina to do all of this exercise because we have to go out and do it all again after he’s had his dinner. Then he has to go out again with Stuart when he gets home from work. That mission is to find the next BIG thing; usually a tree branch which he lovingly carries home in his mouth and is so proud of himself.

Just like kids and the terrible two’s you think will never end – before you know it your kids are grown and leaving home. So as with my kids I cherish the mad and happy times with my dog.

Coffee with clouds and daffodils.


Me on Roo Bin EsqueHalf Moon Bay LR

Hi all,

I’m letting you all in on a little secret. I know Helene has told everyone she has been sailing – she has – but that was her stunt double. The real Helene has been with me in Grasmere in the Lake District on the west coast of England. Her stunt double did such a brilliant job that even Zeus didn’t work it out. Not too sure about GW though – I think he just played his cards close to his chest.

As a writer of romantic fiction I thought Helene would enjoy a short romantic visit to Grasmere. William Wordsworth’s grave is in the beautiful little church yard of St. Oswald’s; it is springtime and despite a long, cold winter there is, ” a host of golden daffodils” , bending their heads in the chilly breeze. A weak spring sun filters through the new green leaves; it rained early this morning and the earth smells damp, the mosses are vibrant green. As idyllic as this is, it’s too cold to stay out especially for two far north Queenslanders. We take the short walk to The Grasmere Gingerbread shop – this is a must do – the best gingerbread in the world bar none. Laden with our purchases we aim for Greens Cafe for coffee and lemon drizzle cake or sticky toffee pudding or brownies. Anyway something naughty to go with our coffee.

As we get comfortable I ask Helene what she has been working on recently, she takes mouthful of coffee as she gathers her thoughts.

“At the moment I’m putting the final touches to the promotional campaign for Half Moon Bay so that means writing guest blog spots, organising bookmarks, library chats, and book club meetings … and still find time to write the next book.” She pauses, “It’s the business of being a writer.”

Our chocolate brownies arrive – they’re huge – we’ll have to have a walk around the village after this. Helene goes on to mention her book launch, “We had such a great night last year, for Burning Lies, at the North Queensland Aero Club we thought we’d do it all again, so put Friday 24th May in your diary and come along. RSVP’s are essential for catering purposes.”

I had such a great time last years as well so I’ve already RSVP’d I don’t want to miss out.  We move onto more details of  Helene’s recent success.

“My new Australian suspense story Half Moon Bay, will be released on 22nd May by Penguin Australia.” She pulls out the proof copy from her bag and reads the back cover blurb.

“Ellie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home. As an international photojournalist, she’s used to driving in to war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.

Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…

As  a storm rages and flood waters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?”

I could go a stiff drink now – however if you want to know a little bit more ahead of the launch visit Helene’s webpage to read the first chapter on the ‘books page’.


Helene enlarges a little on the plot for me. “In this story, set in a coastal hamlet, I dropped into northern New South Wales somewhere near Yamba and Angourie, you’ll meet a surfing, flying, photographing heroine and a wounded hero to die for.” She sighs, “I think I still have a crush on Nick. I love the idea that someone could cross the invisible line between right and wrong in pursuit of justice. It was fun writing it.”

I ask Helene to tell me about her best moment as a writer so far. She smiles broadly and says,”The best moment for me so far has been winning my second Romantic Book of the Year award in 2012 for Shattered Sky, which is the second book in my Border Watch Trilogy. It’s a story very close to my heart and was wonderful just to be short listed let alone win the award. Then in complete contrast to that my worst moment was so disheartening. Shattered Sky didn’t sell particularly well. There were some compelling reasons for this such as the Red Book Group, including Angus and Robertson and Borders, went into liquidation the week Shattered Sky was released. Brisbane had its worst flooding for decades and Cyclone Yasi pummeled the North Queensland coast at the same time. All of that led to my publisher Hachette declining my third book in the series.” Obviously the hurdle was overcome but Helene goes on to expand on the business side of being a publisher. “The book was already written and my editor loved it, but sales and marketing couldn’t make a business case for it. It was a a hard lesson I needed to learn. Publishing is a business and there’s no room for sentimentality at the sharp end. Thankfully Penguin Australia loved it and was prepared to take me on. Burning Lies released in July 2012 with a reprint released late April 2013.”

We decide to pay up and go. There is still some blue sky outside – this is the Lake District – so we have to take advantage of it.

As we wander through the village Helene says she’s happy to talk about her experience with publishers to other writers, “Because we need to remember that, just like any other job, it’s okay to change employers along the way. After I’d changed publishers I was amazed at how many other writers had been through similar experiences.”

We wend our way back to the churchyard, it’s such a tranquil spot. I ask Helene what advice she would give to an aspiring writer. She had this to say, “Write what you love to read. Remember that rules are for fools and the guidance of wise men. I always cringe when I hear another writer saying, ‘No you must do it this way.’ And my pet hate is, ‘You can’t write until you’ve plotted your story.’ I haven’t plotted any of my four books and have no plan to start.” I’m so relieved to hear Helene say this – I’m a none-plotter. She continues, “It doesn’t work for me but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Listen to your voice and remember the book will only be written when you put your bottom on a seat and your fingers on the keyboard.” Telling it like it is.

Time to begin the journey home but before we go I have one last question for Helene and it’s the most important. “Why do you write?”

“I started out writing because I wanted to tell stories that entertained, that transported, that possibly even made people think differently about a subject. Having opened that tap I don’t believe it is possible to turn it off now and I love the satisfaction of bringing people and places alive for my readers.”

I’ve enjoyed this interview immensely I love the Lake District – it has a special place in my heart and I know Helene has that same connection.

Remember the book launch for Half Moon Bay is Friday 24th May at North Queensland Aero Club. Get the details from Helene’s website http://www.heleneyoung.com