My Books

My Books
My Books

Monday, 10 October 2016


I've been in this game for a while now and found some things are really helpful in raising my profile (not easy when you basically want to stay in your cave and write most of the time). Some very generous people have shared their ideas with me, so now I pass on what I know to you. And you don't have to pay a fee to know my secrets.
  1. Your platform - what is it? How you market yourself will open doors. What do you want to be known for? Have a media release ready (and regularly polished) to send out.
  2. Contact other bloggers in your field of expertise/interest and offer to send a copy of your book for them to review, in exchange for reviewing theirs.
  3. Promotional materials, for business cards, posters of your book covers, bookmarks, banners, freebees. Being an author is a business and you need the promotional tools handy. I use Vistaprint or make my own using MS publisher and Powerpoint.
  4. A flyer with what you offer, ie: author talks, writing workshops, school visits. these can be emailed and printed out to give when you are out and about at festivals, libraries, schools, etc.
  5. Amazon author page. If your books are available on Amazon, it is imperative that you have a presence there. Its easy to do, just follow the prompts. You'll need to write a blurb about yourself and your books. Hunt for them on Amazon and then add to your author page. 
  6. Slide shows of your books - how they were made, what influenced you, where you write etc. These are fabulous for school visits or conventions. People want to know WHY you wrote a book, not just about the content.
  7. Swap book reviews. Invite people to review your book on Amazon. 50 reviews gets attention from Amazon and help from their marketing juggernaut
  8. Blog or website. My blog (blogger) functions as my website. Its free and I have total control of content. The downside is I have to do it all myself. but with labels on your blog posts you can attract attention to your pages and books. Also, provide handy links for purchasing. If things are one click away you'll get more sales. Every time I blog about my books I get a spike in page views and then sales. Also, I have 10 pages of information on my blog, which also attracts people.
  9. Networking! Be part of groups with similar interests. These don't have to relate to your books, just to your interests. all sorts of conversations begin randomly, centred around mutual interests.
  10. Social Networking. Facebook - regular profile and separate pages for your books for people to 'like'. I don't do twitter or instagram. Haven't the time quite frankly! But it might work very well for you. Linked-In - this is an awesome way to network too and stay up to date with whats happening. Share your tips there and follow interesting people.
  11. Events. Conferences, book days, conventions etc. pester (nicely) until they let you in, then you can set up your own table with books and flyers etc.
  12. Blog tours. I admit I don't do a lot of this. Wish I had the time! But they are brilliant and mutually beneficial for each person who swaps 'exposure' on another person's blog.
There we go, lots of ideas for you to munch on. I have included some of mine below to give you an idea.
Good luck and keep writing!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

ROBOTICS FOR KIDS - easy to make projects using kitchen utensils

As some of you may know, I LOVE robots. In fact, I am currently writing a book called 'Ten Ridiculous Robots." I subscribe to the website INSTRUCTABLES which sends me newsletters about the latest things you can make using household tools and products. From hen houses to rainwater tanks to, you guessed it... robots!

Here is the latest link: make your own robots from kitchen utensils

About the Teacher

Randy Sarafan is an artist, designer, inventor, and founder of the Instructables Design Studio. Over the last 10 years he has created hundreds of step-by-step tutorials on diverse subjects ranging from pancakes to self-driving robotic queen-sized beds. ​He has​ authored two books, 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer and Simple Bots.
His work has been showcased by the NY Times, Popular Mechanics, The Today Show, The Tonight Show, NPR, the BBC, Core77, Boing Boing, and the National Examiner (to name a few). He currently splits his time between Brooklyn, NY and the internet.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Childrens Book Council of Australia Blue Mountains Pirate Day!

I had a ball on Saturday at my local library. As one of the local authors and illustrators invited, I ran two short workshops on writing. There were lots of other activities to do as well, such as drawing workshops, talk like a pirate competition, treasure hunt, puppet making and book buying/borrowing.
Everywhere you looked, kids were excited about reading, drawing and expressing their thoughts in writing.

Ahoy, there, ya scurvy lads!

SCBWI Conference Sydney 2016 Winner Andrea Pinkney Writer Award - tell your story the way you want!

with judge Clare Stuckey. photo by Denzo Guiney
A lovely shock
I can hardly believe it! I am so amazed and gratified to announce that at the recent Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Sydney I won the SCBWI Andrea Pinkney Writer award! Apparently I beat some of Australia's best children's authors to win - wow! The award is a personal critique of my work-in-progress, a YA paranormal crime novel, with Vice President of Scholastic USA Andrea Pinkney next month.

What do publishers actually want?
At the presentation dinner, I was so shocked when my name was called I cried my eyes out. I am a published author of children's chapter books, but after 20 years and 7 novels completed I am yet to have a novel published. This award means to me that my work can stand on its own two feet. This was the novel which I had decided to write as I wanted to write, to introduce the character and her dilemma in my natural 'voice', which has taken me 20 years to figure out. The irony is, that after I submitted the synopsis and first page to the competition I lost all confidence and began 'polishing' the first chapter - endlessly, angrily tapping away, deleting, crying, shouting at my PC etc. A writer friend had agreed with me that the new opening was dull. I feel completely lost. Why did I do this to myself, you ask? Because the initial feedback I'd had from publishers when I started submitting it, was that the opening was too much 'telling, not showing,'

Publishers are always saying they want a fresh voice, original ideas, good writing but also sticking to the formula. This is SO confusing. It's like a lost, dead language only the privileged few understand. The rest of us feel like we are on the outside, blinking in the sunlight.
with one of my beautiful mentors, Susanne Gervay. photo by Denzo Guiney

So, it was incredibly gratifying to stand at the podium with the judge and accept an award for the original version of chapter one. Ha! I completely forgot to thank everyone who has helped me reach this point. All I could think was, 'Bloody hell, why did I waste all that energy, emotion and stress trying to change it, when it was good enough already?' And afterwards, a couple of people came up to me and said how they appreciated me sharing the frustrations and crisis I'd been through. It's a lonely business, writing, and we have to have an incredibly thick skin to take the constant rejections, year after year. It felt to me that when I accepted this award for my work, the weight of every single rejection I've ever had as a writer flooded over me like a tidal wave. The relief was overwhelming.

Keep going!
So, my advice to you is keep going! Keep believing in yourself. Keep developing as a writer. Never give up your dream.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

KIDS and photography - the fascinating world of small

autumn splendor
I love taking photos, particularly close-ups, things you don't always notice straight away. And with digital cameras making it so easy, even kids can take fantastic photos, in their own environment or as they go about their day. My tip - focus on the small things. Zoom in with that macro setting and click away!

hail in our garden

These pics can then be cropped and printed out for a display or use to inspire stories or artworks. Sometimes its really nice to just have them as a screensaver on your desktop and remember the day you took them. If you're not sure what you've captured, you can research and make a new discovery. Have fun and enjoy the small world!

Mmm... yummy pumpkin scones!
a tiny gecko we nicknamed Fred
a wildflower I saw on a tourist walk. The purple petal section is about 1cm wide!
a leaf that blew in onto my verandah and caught the sunlight

Friday, 22 July 2016

Childhood Anxiety - what can you do to help your child?

Why I wrote this book
When I wrote this book for my clients and their families I had no idea how quickly I would get through the first 100 copies. When I visit schools I take copies with me. They all disappeared. Then the next 100. Now I'm on the third lot. Everywhere I go people pick up the book and exclaim, "Wow, I wish I'd had this when I was a kid!" Now it sells all over the world on Amazon   Booktopia  and  Collins booksellers

So why is this book so important to people?
Through my work in schools and teaching parents often chat to me and many of them are concerned about the pressures on their children. Modern life is supposed to have given us freedoms and more leisure time, and yet kids seem to be suffering even more than they did when I was young. I believe technology and our obsession with it has contributed to this phenomenon. Kids spend hours a day glued to screens, instead of interacting with real people, chatting, reading facial and body clues, smelling, sensing, touching. This makes them less able to interpret what they see in their environment, causing confusion which results in anxiety. Of course, this is a simplistic explanation. There are many more aspects to life that contribute to anxiety, such as genetics.

When parents start flicking through the book they often remark that it speaks to them and then sheepishly admit that their child has 'probably got that from me.' This is actually great! I wanted my book to start a conversation between parents and children about how anxiety affects them, to demystify it.

The power of this book
Self-knowledge - My standpoint is that children should be empowered by recognising they are prone to anxiety, and accept they will probably always be that kind of person. Stop fighting it, I say!

Managing, not suffering - Learn how to manage it instead. Be realistic about the triggers that set you off and learn how to minimise their effects on your life. I mention lots of different techniques and ideas in the book, as well as the 12 monsters themselves, which represent the unhelpful messages that repeat inside your mind over and over.

Physical effects  - To break free of that, you must first understand the physical aspects of what anxiety actually is, so that even though it feels like you're going to die/pass out/have a heart attack/suffer major embarrassment you know that it is just adrenaline flooding your brain and body, and that if you breathe deep and focus your mind it WILL pass.

What age group is this written for?
I designed it to be read independently by children aged 8yrs+ but it is equally accessible and interesting for teens and even adults. The idea is to take the scariness away and replace it with a humorous take on being an anxious person. Being an anxious person is not the end of the world, or your life, it's just a way of thinking - that you can learn to control.

You can buy your own e-book or paperback book here. I'd love to hear how it's helped you!

Monday, 30 May 2016

World War II Book for Kids - What was it like to be a teenager at war?

The virtual world has made it so easy to recreate fight scenes and battle scenes for our entertainment, but what if you had real memories, of real experiences of war? How would this affect you a year later, two years, ten years, seventy years later?

Meet Jim Haynes. He joined the Royal Navy at 16 and served the British Empire in some of the bloodiest and most horrific theatres of the last world war as a teenager, alongside hardened sailors and soldiers, on the Atlantic Ocean and in the jungles of Burma and Malaya. This is Jim's story of WWII, from the streets of a slumin Nottingham, England where he grew up to finally settling in Sydney, Australia at the age of 20, leaving behind his family (and his sweetheart, Olga) forever. Jim has led a fairly normal life - married, had children, divorced, married again and had more children, but the cost of his service back in his teens has haunted him throughout his life, affecting his happiness and that of his family. The impact of PTSD cannot be underestimated, as Jim's life proves.
Jim (far right) and Aussie mates on board the LST 3008 ferrying soldiers and equipment after the Burma Campaign

Olga, aged 16
So, what can we learn from Jim's experiences? After all, he begged his parents to let him join the Navy, thinking it would be a fantastic adventure. In some ways it was. He still talks of his mates and skipper of HMS Avon with fondness, but those mates are long gone and what remains is the battle that still rages in his mind. If virtual reality should teach us anything about ourselves as a species, it ought to be that war is futile, despite it being a constant, and that fighting the after effects is a much bigger task than the actual fighting.

You can buy a copy of Jim's story here:
The Boy Who Went to War on Amazon
and here:
The Boy Who Went to War (Five Senses Education)
from Five Senses Education website

Monday, 2 May 2016

WWII book for kids

It's here!
I'm very happy to report that my newest book, 'The Boy Who Went to War' is officially launched!

A five year journey
I have been working with 91 year old Jim Haynes for five years to achieve this amazing victory. Slowly and carefully, extracting painful memories, reliving horrors and reminiscing over good times. For Jim, who suffers with PTSD it's been particularly difficult.  
A positive day
The event drew a good size crowd who enjoyed the fabulous food laid on by a wonderful group of my personal friends. Thanks girls! Lots of kids came, which was what I wanted most of all, as this book was written for children. My passion is to bring a true story of wartime to the current generation, to give them an understanding of what it was actually like to be a child during WWII and hopefully encourage a sense of gratitude for the amazing, safe, suburban life they now lead. Thank you, Jim, for sharing your story with me. I have a greater appreciation of what you sacrificed and am honoured to have your friendship.

Want your own copy?
You can purchase your own copy from AMAZON here: Dawn Meredith books 

Or in Australia from Five Senses Education here:
The Boy Who Went to War

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Boy Who Went to War - One man's true story of WWII

I am SO excited to announce that my newest book, The Boy Who Went to War is here!
purchase from

I've been working on this project with 91 year old veteran Jim Haynes for five years, interviewing Jim, collecting documents and photos and writing his story. I am so privileged to be the guardian of this true life account of what it was like to be a boy in England at the start of World War II.

The son of a policeman, Jim joined the Royal Navy at age sixteen, trained at HMS Royal Arthur, HMS Drake, HMFS Paris and ended up on the brand new River Class frigate HMS Avon in the Atlantic, dropping depth charges on German U-Boats. Jim had many adventures. He saw ships blown up, picked up survivors of the Tonsberg Tarifa just as they ran out of water, saw a WRN (Women's Royal Navy) buried at sea, saw King Farouk's bombed palace in Alexandria and much more. As an inexperienced teen, Jim got into trouble in the out-of-bounds area of Alexandria markets and had to be rescued by a truckload of 'Red Caps'.

At nineteen Jim joined Special Forces fighting Japanese marines in the dense jungles of Malaya. In the jungles he fought malaria as well as the short, well-muscled 'unkillable' Japanese marines, often with insufficient weaponry or no guns at all! Finally his role was in transporting men, women and children from Japanese prison camps before settling to a new life in Australia. Making that choice meant Jim had to leave behind his entire family and sweetheart Olga in England. He never returned.

Jim has struggled with PTSD in his adult life as a result of what he witnessed as a young man. This story tells of his boyhood in Nottingham at the start of the war, the events which later shaped his future, the courage of these boys as they fought often invisible foes in the dark, the excitement of training with their mates and the resilience they developed to survive.
Nancy Wake
Jim witnessed cruelty, bravery, compassion and met extraordinary people along the way, including famous female spy Nancy Wake, The White Mouse.

Jim today
Our first event is as part of the ANZAC Day celebrations at two local schools. Jim is looking forward to meeting the kids, answering their questions and sharing his story.

On Saturday 30th April we will launch the book to the public. Everyone is welcome! This is a free event for kids and adults. See below for details.

If you are interested in meeting Jim, chatting to us about the book, or have questions, email me at

some of Jim's medals

Thursday, 17 March 2016

HOMEWORK - Some great Literacy and Maths books you can order online

Homework. Lots of parents disagree about it's importance. Well here's my two cents' worth, after 25 years of teaching. It helps. As long as you do it together and make it fun, not a terrible chore. It consolidates what is learned at school and takes the pressure off the student. Its difficult to somehow absorb everything while at school, especially when the teacher is going too fast or the child has days off due to illness, or has emotional issues that prevent her/him from attending mentally. Done the right way, homework can be a fabulous, confidence booster. You just need 2 things - to take the time to sit with your child and have the right resources.

So, this year my daughter's new teacher is advocating an online study program for homework. This I am NOT in favour of. Nothing is better than face-to-face instruction. As a teacher of many years, both Primary and Secondary education, I have found certain resources helpful and decided to purchase copies for home use. Then I thought I'd share them with you!

Literacy -
My daughter is in year 4. Lots of literacy books are either boring or visually overwhelming and confusing. This book does lots of things simultaneously:
  1. Extending vocabulary
  2. Improving comprehension skills
  3. improving spelling knowledge and practical use of words
  4. Improving skills of inference (reading between the lines) and interpretation of text
  5. Improving self-directed work
  6. Improving focus and motivation
  7. A wide variety of topics, including history, science, biography and fictional stories are covered.
Sound good?
It's Reading Freedom book 3
I bought it here:

SPELLING workbook for year 5 -
  1. phonics based spelling
  2. vocabulary development
  3. prefixes, suffixes, base words
  4. contracted words
Available from the publisher, Pascal Press  and other websites

Maths - 
I'll admit, Maths has never been my strong suit. So when I'm looking for an appropriate Maths textbook I consult my Maths Teacher husband. Easy!
The features of this book that make it stand out from the rest are:
  1. Its simple layout
  2. Not too many bright confusing images and colours
  3. ONE TOPIC PER PAGE. I get so fed up with current textbooks that give just a snippet of every topic on the one page. This goes against everything we know about Mastery Learning! 
  4. Sequential format
  5. Plenty of opportunities to practice the skills learned
  6. Instruction box at the top of each page shows you HOW to complete the exercises 
  7. Practical applications for what you just learned are at the bottom of each page.
Here's the book and link:

If you have any questions, I am happy to answer. Just leave a comment below.