Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week’s ‘The Daily Post’ photo challenge is threes.

So my photos are based on the ‘Three Picture Stories’ (storytelling with images) that I posted about last Tuesday.

All these photos were taken at my local park, except the last set.  I think I am a little hooked on the ‘three picture story’ ideas (with some variations in interpretations).  I haven’t included any captions, as I think they are self explanatory (I hope).

(Of course, just click on the first picture to enlarge, and see as individual slide shows).

This last ‘three picture story’ was taken during a trip to Port Douglas (North Queensland) two years ago.  My husband and I took the rail up to Kuranda.  Although I did take a few other photos, I think you can tell what was my sole purpose for going into the Kuranda Koala Gardens. I have now crossed that one off my ‘live life’ list.

All photography © Helen Ross (http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com)

Looking back on 2013

Since my foray into the blogging world in 2009, each year (except for last year) I have posted about my previous year’s achievements (as many bloggers do).  I think it is important to reflect and be grateful (regardless of your religious or spiritual leanings) for the wonderful moments and milestones in your life (no matter how small or large).  As days tick by, and months tumble past (much like being on a train watching the landscape and towns flash by), it is easy to forget the good and the little things that touch our heart, leaving an imprint for a lifetime.  Generally our lives are much richer than we realise. When I moan about the bills, my husband will quickly remind me of where we have come from, and what we have. And somehow the bills get paid. Yes, I should be grateful.

Also, reflecting (albeit quickly) on the not-so-proud or those cringe-worthy moments are also opportunities to reflect, learn and grow. Then, hopefully, move on. It is all part of life.

Last February, when reflecting on 2012, I  decided not to outline my achievements in terms of what projects or activities I completed. Instead I reflected on what I was grateful for, and what I had learnt. This was brought home by the passing of my dear mother in mid 2012 (at 89 ½ years young).

So this year, will be a combination of some of my writing milestones and fondest family memories (holidays, family births, etc.).

Don’t focus on what didn’t happen (that elusive contract, the unfinished manuscript, the holiday that didn’t happen, etc. Yes, the list could go on.) but on the good that happened and the wonderful things and people that are in your life at this current time.

Maybe you didn’t get that book contract. If not, maybe 2014 is the year. At least you have found your passion, and you are doing something you love. Some people don’t ever find theirs, or make excuses for not doing so.  We should  be grateful that we have found something we love to do. It is at least a wonderful start to achieving any dreams we may have.

Anyway,  here’s some (in other words – what I can remember) of my most fondest memories, and milestones (regardless of the degree).


  • Invited to conduct school writing workshops – all grade levels: 1-6


  • Signed a contract with a UK publisher to have one of my children’s picture book manuscripts published as an interactive reader. Yay!  Alas, I haven’t heard anything since then. Will have to follow this up.
  • On  10 February, I joined nine other poets in a wonderful ginko (haiku walk), hosted by the talented poet, Graham Nunn. It was a lovely way to spend  some time and just ‘be’ with the surrounds of Karawatha State Forest (Brisbane).
  • Some of the haiku composed as a result of our walking, contemplation, and sharing of our experiences, are still available on Graham’s blog:


Then from that time till mid April the group worked on a renga (collaborative poem) using the following form: [SU = summer; A = autumn; W = winter; SP = spring; Misc. = non-seasonal references -- usually about people or feelings or places; Love]

It was a great experience working with these talented poets with a diversity of voices. It certainly unearthed me from my comfort zone of writing humorous poetry for children. It helped stretch me as a poet of haiku (I’m still very much a novice) and Graham’s advice was always invaluable. I learnt so much from this experience.

Links below – posted on Graham’s blog, Another Lost Shark.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4

As I was in Japan at the time that we were working on the final quarter (April) you will notice my Japanese inspired contribution (couldn’t help but be inspired by the beautiful cherry blossoms).

Inspired by the Cherry blossoms: Taken in Nara, Japan.



APRIL – SEOUL/JAPAN/SEOUL – 2 weeks in Japan (Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo). 4 days in Seoul (1 night on way to Japan and 3 on way back to Australia).

  • My husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary on 4 April in Japan.
  • My huband’s eldest son married his lovely Japanese bride in a Shinto temple in Nara, Japan (on 6 April). It  was a traditional ceremony – just beautiful. Unfortunately we were not able to take photos in the temple.


Cutting the cake:

IMG_4880 Cutting cake at reception

Unfortunately I haven’t as yet blogged about this holiday but hopefully I will make time  to do so this year.  However, I will add that we loved Japan. The people are just beautiful. But that doesn’t mean to say we didn’t enjoy Seoul (we did).

  • Received a ‘surprise’ email –  Independent Education Union of Australia invited me (yes, it was a shock to me also) to be their guest presenter at their 2013 Literary awards ceremony (Brisbane) on 16 October.  This was to involve a ten minute speech and handing out of certificates to the winning students in a number of categories. And payment. Yay!

Of course I said ‘YES’.  Was I nervous thinking about it? – YES.  Was I shocked to be asked?  Of course.


  • In May/June I returned to casual ESL teaching – to a teaching  Institute that I hadn’t worked at before  (humbug). It was actually a moment of desperation (oh the bills!). Though this wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences (nothing to do with the students) I think I had to do it (lasted six weeks through my choice) for me to realise that my ESL (teaching English as a second language to adults) days were well behind me. After 17 years of tertiary teaching it was now time to be brave, and start my own business (conducting school writing and poetry workshops) which I have been wanting to do for some time.  Now, how do I do this?
  • So I researched and  applied for a Government grant (similar to a small business grant) to commence and operate my own business.  Completed a very detailed application form. Yikes! Fingers, toes and eyes were crossed!
  • Wrote a post based on a quote by Henri Matisse – Creativity takes courage.  This post received a lot of views and was actually my first post to be reblogged – EVER! (reblogged later on in the year – thanks Bea).

Link at:



  • Once again I facilitated at the ASA’s (Australian Society of Authors.) Brisbane’s OWOD (One Word One Day) event.  This time it was held at The Edge, State Library Queensland on Wednesday 26 June – with two Queensland groups participating on the day: Brisbane and Cairns.

Write up and pics at: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/owod-illustrator-event-brisbane/


  • I completed my four year term as a RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund) committee member for the Logan City Council, representing the portfolio of writing. I was appointed in September of 2009.

Link at: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/end-of-a-radf-chapter/

Includes pics of my lovely gift.

  • My co-authored picture book A Christmas Tail  (co-authored by Victorian children’s writer, Donna Smith) was pre-launched to coincide  with Christmas In July celebrations. Illustrations by the talented Aaron Pocock.

Link at: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/celebrate-christmas-in-july-with-peter-mouse/

Crosley, the ‘star’ of Sands Hetherington’s award winning Night Buddies Adventure series, held a wacky words competition to seek some wacky new words to add t’ his wacky vocabulary. Entrants had to come up with a new word and say what it means.

Well, I came second. Yay! And as second place winner I was to receive both titles signed by the author, Sands Hetherington.  I actually didn’t receive both titles: only one unsigned copy.  But this will be addressed in a future blog post (coming soon).

To see my word, and that of the other winners, please click the link here: http://familiesmatter2us.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/winners-of-wacky-words-contest.html

  • Received Government funding to commence my own business.  Yes, received a phone call (weeks after sending in the application) saying I was successful.  I had actually forgotten all about it. Acceptance involved completion of a Certificate IV in Small Business Management and  subsequent year’s funding (for set up and marketing purposes) and mentoring.  Yippee yi ay!
  • Death of my only living Uncle (my late dad’s brother – passed away at 83 year’s young). Thankfully we had kept in contact with each other since my mum’s death.
  • Commencement of Certificate IV Small Business Management to begin early July. Yay!


  • Going to Italy was really a spur of the moment idea.  I just had the urge to travel at this time (my husband has passport, so will travel). Sam (Samantha), our lovely travel agent came up with a wonderful holiday idea based on our preferences. My husband and I had planned to return to Japan in January 2014 and I had  tucked away money from my previous year’s tax return.  We used this to go to Italy. And just as well.  You’ll find out why under SEPTEMBER.  This holiday was organised a couple of weeks before finding out that I had received Government  funding.
  • Italy here we come!

What a fabulous time we had – five nights in Rome, three nights in Florence and four nights (pay for three) in Venice – plus a good airfare deal thrown in the mix. It was meraviglioso -“wonderful” in Italian.

Sightseeing in Rome

Links to posts and pics at:





As I hit the pavement running (so to speak) upon my return to Brisbane I haven’t as yet got around to writing up our adventures in Florence and Venice.  On the 2014 ‘TO DO’ list.

  • Upon return to Brisbane I resumed study in Cert IV Small Business management.


  • 20 September – I am a step-grandmother again. Little Kichi was born on 20 September. A very healthy boy (was a bit of a whopper from all accounts). (Ki Chi: Good luck in Japanese).
  • Completed Certificate IV Small Business Management (part of my Government grant). Yay! I was given about 12 weeks to complete but completed in about 5 weeks. Worked like a dog but wanted to get most of it out of the way before going to Italy. Completed a very detailed Business Plan.

After signing the contract to start my business, I found out that I can’t leave Australia (unless it is part of my business) for 12 months, in view of receiving Government funding.  Fair enough.  Just as well we holidayed in Italy (and had a holiday to Japan).


  • Our picture book, A Christmas Tail was featured in Creative Kids Tales October Pitch—Ya-Book.

Link at:


  • Attended the awards ceremony where I was guest speaker and award presenter. The annual competition is open to students from Year 6 through to Year 12, and teachers, and is judged by members of the English Teachers’ Association of Queensland.  I was gobsmacked by the talent. Yes, I was nervous but all went without a hitch.  Got a little chuffed when a mother and her daughter sought me out for a photograph after the ceremony; saying that my speech was inspirational.  I was touched.
  • From October – December, A Christmas Tail  received wonderful book reviews. Can be found at Spider Ink’s Website: http://spiderinkpress.com/book-reviews/
  • On 10 October, officially began my business.
  • Conducted workshops in Melbourne and Canberra.

As I hadn’t been to Canberra (Australia’s capital) my husband and I thought we’d make a short holiday out of it, and drive down. Enjoyed it immensely.  Visited the Australian War Memorial. And the Boutique Hotel we stayed at (literally 500 yards from the school that I was conducting workshops) was just gorgeous.


  • Registered for another year (month of November) for PiBoldMo (Picture Book Idea Month).  Founded by children’s author, Tara Lazar, November’s challenge was to create 30 picture book concepts in 30 days.  It didn’t have to be a manuscript or potential best-seller ideas. Just ideas to build upon, or spark other ideas for potential stories. Information at: http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/

Yay, I created 35 picture book ideas for November’s PiBoldMo (picture book idea month).

  • Celebrated another November birthday.
  • Due to a referral and  wonderful feedback from the Canberra workshops I presented, an event agent for school holiday programs contacted me to see if I would ‘join’ her books. Saves me doing the hunting for work during holiday time so I said ‘Yes’.  Will see what 2014 brings.


  • From October – December, A Christmas Tail  received wonderful book reviews. Can be found at Spider Ink Website: http://spiderinkpress.com/book-reviews/
  • A Christmas Tail officially launched.  Link at:


  • Visited Melbourne – Opportunity to play the doting grandmother to Kichi, and deliver Christmas presents.  He is just adorable. Couldn’t stop cuddling him.

Well, that’s it. Or what the memory allows.

Feel free to give me  your link to your 2013 in review (just add in the comment section). Happy to pop over and see what you got up to.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2014.


Meet Donna Smith, co-author of A Christmas Tail

Donna Smith, my co-author of our newly released children’s Christmas book, A Christmas Tail dropped by Spider Ink Press during the week.

During our fabulous cyber launch celebration on Monday 2 December you may have ‘discovered’ a little more about Donna, myself and the book’s  illustrator, Aaron Pocock.   But because we were all so busy,  we decided to keep the speeches fairly short. Consequently, Donna was invited  back to Spider Ink Press to chat a little more about herself and her busy ‘writerly’ life.

Donna Smith image

Link here:


New Pre-launch Christmas In July Release

Psst! I know it isn’t Christmas yet, and most of us don’t really want to know. However, if you like to party, keep reading.

It is currently winter time in Australia. And for many people who live in areas where it is cold (namely Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, ACT, South Australia and parts of Western Australia, etc.) Christmas In July is fast becoming a tradition as it is generally too hot to enjoy a roast dinner and plum pudding in December.

So to celebrate, author Donna Smith, illustrator Aaron Pocock and I are celebrating our new book with a pre-launch as part of our Christmas In July festivities.

So please put on your party hat, grab a whistle and party with us!
party animated 2

A Christmas Tail

Just released on iTunes as ebook and on Amazon as Hardback and ebook.

A Christmas Tail no white space

Co-written by Donna M Smith and Helen Ross. Illustrated by Aaron Pocock
ISBN: 9780987306715
Hardback: 36 pages
Publisher: Spider Ink Press, Australia
Trim size: 280 x 210 mm


Melanie, Monty and baby Peter Mouse live in a doll’s house called Cherrywood Cottage. The Mouse family are full of excitement as they await the arrival of Santa Paws. However, an unlikely turn of events sets about a hilarious twist to their Christmas festivities.

Find out how Santa Paws loses his trousers.

A Christmas Tail is a delightful story, the first in a new collection about a very special mouse family.

This enchanting story is brought to life by the exquisite illustrations of Aaron Pocock

AVAILABLE on Amazon: Hardback and ebook on Kindle
Also available at Apple iTunes stores.

Please follow Peter Mouse on Facebook and Twitter. He’d love to be your friend. He is three years old and A Christmas Tail is about an adventure he had one Christmas.

Setting Off

Well, it is holiday time again. In Australia, it does get a little confusing as each State/Territory has slightly different school terms. Also Private schools and colleges tend to have different term dates to that of State schools. Regardless, many people are taking advantage of the snow in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, while others are heading to northern parts of Australia for the warmer weather. July and August are also peak travel times due to Summer holiday time in other parts of the world.

So I thought a poem I wrote many moons ago would be apt for this time of year.

(First published in New Visions: A collection of 800 Australian Poems Published by Writers World Poetry Anthology 1993. The following has been edited since its first publication.)

Well it is holiday time again
We’d been planning where to go
But couldn’t make up our minds
To go to the sun or the snow

Then travelling in the country
Seemed like the way to go
We’d pack up the car and leave
Maybe with a caravan in tow

We’d leave early for the highway
And camp along the way
End up somewhere along the Murray
Do some fishing in the day

Somehow the time just flew
Leaving little time to pack
As usual, the kids packed too much
We yelled till they put things back

‘Get in the car!’ I screamed
‘It’s time we were on our way
It’s my holiday too
I’d like to leave today.’

Now with all the yelling
I got in a bit of a state
Hastily in reverse I went
And smashed into the wrought iron gate

I sat there in a daze
How much more could I endure?
I soon found out just how much
For the car I forgot to insure!

Copyright Helen Ross 1993.

The End

CAR cartoon accident

If you are currently on holidays – Happy holidays and stay safe!

And to celebrate ‘Christmas In July’ please join in the festivities with Donna Smith and myself – coauthors of ‘A Christmas Tail‘, which has just been released on iTunes as an ebook.
More information here.

Psst! Donna and I wish you a very mousey ‘Christmas in July.’

Celebrate Christmas in July with Peter Mouse

Christmas In July is fast becoming a ‘formal’ celebration. It apparently began over twenty years ago in Austalia’s internationally famous Blue Mountains, and has grown to become a major seasonal event.

I am still researching the origin of this tradition but there is a belief that it was attributed to an Irish group who enjoyed the winter snow in Sydney’s Blue Mountains and thought it a great time to party!! Sounds a good enough reason!

This event is also known as Winter Yuletide celebrations or Yulefest and is gaining popularity in countries where December 25 is summertime. So Australia and New Zealand love it as it is a chance for many Australian families and organisations to celebrate now as it is the middle of winter (though you wouldn’t really know it in parts of Queensland or the Northern Territory). It is a great chance to tuck into sumptuous winter food and pudding.

So to join in the celebrations Victorian children’s writer, Donna Smith and I are so very proud to announce the arrival of our new book, A Christmas Tail, illustrated by the talented Aaron Pocock.

A Xmas Tail cover

Donna and I co-wrote this story about a Mouse family (yes, their surname is Mouse) who live in a doll’s house called Cherrywood Cottage. Melanie and Monty Mouse’s endearing son Peter takes centre stage as we are taken on a mousey Christmas full of excitement, and adventure. You will also see some mischief with Peter’s secret best friend, Rupert Rat.

To celebrate, A Christmas Tail has just been released (TODAY!!!) as an ebook for iPads and iPhones via iTunes.

It is also available in hardover via Amazon, Australian online bookstore BookPod or via redhen.com.au. For Kindle, click here.

Peter Mouse also has a facebook page where you can visit and share Peter’s stories and adventures.

Peter would love to become your FRIEND on Facebook.

The illustration by Aaron Pocock is just gorgeous. I just want to cuddle him.

Happy Christmas in July Donna, Aaron, Peter Mouse and everyone!

So let’s celebrate.

Book App Academy – registration open till 21 June.

Book app expert, Karen Robertson, has just reopened her online Home Study Course for creating book apps – Book App Academy - and is taking new members until June 21st 2013!


This 8-module, video-tutorial course takes you through planning your app, finding your resources, choosing a developer, legal issues, financial issues and beyond.

This is the first opening since December 2012 and Karen has updated and added 25 videos and added two great bonuses!

1. There will be 4 group Q & A calls to answer members’ specific questions.

2. There’s a private Facebook Group for Book App Academy members to share resources, ideas, support each other and more. And Karen will be there too!


If you have been thinking about the possibility of creating your book as a book app but you’d like more information about whether the course is for you, please check out Karen’s free webinar.

Here you will find that book apps don’t just mean for picture books, but also can include poetry (with illustrations/pictures), some ‘long’ books (with illustrations) and similar. Be creative in your thinking!

Just click on the following link:


OR you may first prefer to read information Karen has put together based on the most common questions posed to her in relation to creating book apps. Karen has addressed these on her “Book App Curious” page! This page is designed to be a one-stop resource page for people who are curious about what a book app is and if they could create one.

The questions answered include

1. What if I’m not “technical”? Is this an option for me?
2. It all seems so complicated. How do I do this and where can I get help?
3. How much does it cost to create a book app and how much money can I make?

You’ll find these answers at: http://digitalkidsauthor.com/bookappcurious/

If you do wish to go directly to the Book App academy information and registration page (no obligation to sign up), please click on this link.

Direct link:

And yes you are right. I am an affiliate and if you do sign up using this link some commission will come my way. So I’d just like you to know that this is the only ‘product’ that I am affiliated with. I have known Karen for some time through the children’s book industry, and Karen was one of my first interviewees for my blog. (Actually interview number 2). You know how I love talented indie writers and publishers. Also since Karen has become an expert in creating and marketing book apps, I have bought all five of her ebook resources as I have been interested in this area for quite some time.

When Karen asked if I’d be willing to help promote her course I didn’t hesitate. As such, I have been privy to some insight into the course as Karen wanted to make sure I was comfortable promoting it.

This is no sales pitch. The course is well researched and is a wonderful resource for assisting authors create a book app. There are so many areas that I wouldn’t have even considered but I now realise how important they are. Some areas are a MUST know! The course does not include coding but offers a wealth of wonderful information including planning your app, finding your resources, choosing a developer, legal issues, financial issues and much, much more. I actually can’t wait to start work on a brief for one of my picture books that I think would work wonderfully as an app.

But don’t take my word for it!

Karen has included some testimonials on the Book App Academy information page.

Direct link: http://bookappacademy.com?ap_id=Helen

A little more information about Karen’s award winning apps.

Karen’s first book app, “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island” has garnered numerous accolades:

Treasure Kai app 1

• “Best in Category for Apps” at the New Media Film Festival, San Francisco, November 2011
• Digital-Storytime.com’s “Top 10 Most Original,” April 2011, “Top 10 Most Innovative Use of Interactivity,” May 2011, and “Top 25 Most Essential Children’s Book Apps,” July 2011
• Selected as a Top 150 Children’s App by AppStarPicks.com
• #5 Download paid book in the US App Store, May 2011
• #3 Download paid book in the Australian App Store, Sept 2012
• #4 Download free book in the US App Store January 2013

And the sequel, “Treasure Kai and the Seven Cities of Gold” received

Treasure Kai app 2

• The Digital Book World, QED Gold Seal of Approval for Quality, Excellence, Design
• Was a Padgadget “must-have” in November 2012
• Was one only 20 book apps to be awarded 5 stars by Digital Storytime in 2012

Karen Robertson has presented workshops for numerous organisations and colleges in Australia and the U.S. including the SCBWI Australia/New Zealand Conference, Australian Society of Authors and the Children’s and Young Adults Writers’ Conference.

Still interested?

If you haven’t checked out Karen’s FREE webinar, the link is:


OR to go to the registration page for cost information, please click on:


Just a wee reminder: Registration closes 21 June 2013.

Why you should/shouldn’t create a book app.

If you’ve ever wondered what a book app is and if it’s a publishing option you could consider, then I’ve got something to help. It’s a one-pager written by book app expert, Karen Robertson, about what a book app is, who can create one and why you might want to. She even shares why you shouldn’t! There’s a short video as well.

Book Apps PDF

You’ll find the video here: http://youtu.be/p-keA26i6QU

If you are interested in finding out more, Karen has compiled a webinar. It is a free, one-hour training webinar that people can schedule to watch or can watch on-demand.

Just click on the following link:

Could your book be a book app? FREE How to Webinar

If you’ve wondered whether your book could be a book app but have no idea how to get started or are technophobic, check out this jargon-free, 1-hour FREE training webinar from book app expert, Karen Robertson.

Karen has helped dozens of authors publish their books as apps and she’s about as “non techy” (her words) as you can get.

To see what’s possible for your book and be inspired by examples of all kinds of book apps including illustrated children’s books, poetry and long text, watch the webinar now.

To watch it immediately, go to and choose “view yesterday’s webinar” under DATE and “now” under TIME.

The webinar is a free, one-hour training webinar that you can schedule to watch or can watch on-demand.

Please click on the following link to the webinar.


I have watched it and the webinar offers a great insight into areas that need to be considered when considering whether your book could be made into an app.

Yes, you will notice my pic there as a host. I have ‘known’ Karen for some time and have bought all five of her ebooks related to learning about and marketing apps. Plus I have also downloaded the apps she has created for her two children’s books and they are wonderful. So I am more than happy to help pass the word around about her Free Webinar. You have nothing to lose.

More about Karen

Karen Robertson
Speaker, lecturer and coach: How to Turn Books into Book Apps


**Treasure Kai and the Seven Cities of Gold” (sequel to TK Shark Island)

5 Stars from Digital Storytime and The iMums!

Demo video here: http://youtu.be/tCpXPCQBGMU
Download from the App Store here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/treasure-kai-seven-cities/id565841661?ls=1&mt=8

**Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island”*: “Best in Category” winner for apps at New Media Film Festival San Francisco, a “Top 25 Most Essential Children’s Book
App,” “Top 10 Most Original Book for iPad” – Digital Storytime, AppySmart’s Editor’s Choice and an AppStar Picks Top 250 Children’s App.

See “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island” in the App Store:

Her website:


Night Buddies Adventure series Wacky Words Contest

The World of Ink Network and the Families Matter blog is currently running a fun contest for kids or anyone who loves children’s books.

Please spread the word about this fun contest and you are also welcome to enter. It is not just for kids – why should they have all the fun!

Details below:

Crosley contest

Crosley Contest Banner

More contest information at:

Contest closes 15 June 2013.

Wait! There’s more!

If you missed my interview with Sands Hetherington during his 2013 World of Ink Virtual Tour promoting his nighttime adventure children’s chapter book, Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine ( the second book in the Night Buddies series published by Dune Buggy Press), here is the link:


So spread the word about the fun contest. Such as EXCELSIOR idea!