The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales

It’s been an absolutely frantic year, and I seem to spend most of my time running from one project to another, while  juggling several others at the same time. This link will take you to a fun movie trailer for one of those projects, The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, with sneak previews of some of the book art and lots of cool info about the project.

The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales - 31 stories by 27 authors including Joy Cowley, David Hill and Dave Freer
The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales – 31 stories by 27 authors including Joy Cowley, David Hill and Dave Freer

The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales is looking good! You can order your copy online now at the Twisty Christmas Pledge Me site or if you’re in Wellington on Thursday 13 November, you can come along to our book launch at 6p at The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie. (I’ll post more launch details soon.)

Remember some of New Zealand’s most famous children’s authors feature in this anthology. For a full list go here  or here. Every book purchased supports the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand. So, join us for a fun ride on Santa’s sleigh, as our reindeer gallop full tilt into a frenetic fantasy world of kiwi Christmases.

Storylines: Joy Cowley, Celia Wade-Brown, & Scholastic Books Out Aloud

The Mayor and Joy

4,000 visitors flooded to Storylines Free Family Day in Wellington last month. The family-friendly event focusing on NZ kids’ literature was opened by Her Worship Mayor Wade-Brown and Dame Joy Cowley – both known lovingly by Wellingtonians as Celia and Joy.

While preparing to cut the ceremonial ribbons, Joy heard one child asking whether Celia was the Queen. It was certainly a moment of pomp and ceremony!

Mayor Celia wade-Browna nd author Joy Cowley open Storylines Family Day
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and author Joy Cowley open Storylines Family Day (Photo: Luise Charlton.)

Scholastic Books Out Aloud

Once the ribbons were cut, Joy and Celia headed up to the Scholastic Books Out Aloud area to enjoy Celia’s rendition of Joy’s book, The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown reads with Joy Cowley
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown reads with Joy Cowley (Photo: Luise Charlton)

After reading, Joy signed books for hundreds of her fans, young and old – who queued at The Children’s Bookshop stand to have a chat with her about her work.  If you’re a fan of Joy Cowley’s work, you may want to check out this link to an exciting new anthology including one of her stories.

LCP_Wright Family_86cropped
The Wright family enjoy Scholastic NZ’s Clifford. (photo Luise Charlton)

Scholastic NZ Ltd made the day with Clifford the Big Red Dog, who, although not a kiwi icon, was loved by children of all ages. The teenagers who volunteered to bring Clifford to life said they had the best job of the day. There’s already a queue to audition for the role of Clifford next year!

Clifford supports volunteers
Kids love hugging Clifford.






Storylines Free Family Day in Wellington included many exciting events in the Monster Fun Zone, Antarctica Zone, Bugs ‘N Bees Zone, and War Zone, as well as interactive activities with authors, illustrators and storytellers. We’ll feature more posts about Storylines Family Day soon, so stay tuned.

That link for the anthology featuring Joy Cowley is here.

For now, goodbye from me, and from Clifford!

Twisty Christmas Tales feature Joy Cowley, David Hill & Dave Freer

The dust has finally settled after Storylines Family Day, and Christmas is just around the corner. But I have a confession to make: I’ve been wearing my Santa hat for months, editing The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales!

Last year Peter, Alicia and I put out a small e-book of ten Christmas stories as a trial for a larger project. Now that larger project is nearly complete! The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales features 31 crazy Christmas capers from 27 authors, including iconic kiwi authors Joy Cowley and David Hill, best-selling sci-fi author Dave Freer, stacks of kiwis and an Aussie or two.

Geoff Popham Twisty Christmas Tales Santa sleigh over Auckland
Santa over Auckland by Geoff Popham, in The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales.

Check out the awesome list of authors in our new kids anthology here. It’s going to be a Twisty Christmas!

It’s been an amazing experience to edit this anthology, along with Alicia Ponder and Peter Friend. So many great stories, so many talented authors, so much fun, and so much hard work!  As well as all the other projects I’ve been working on! If anyone has a cloning kit, similar to one that gets used in Santa’s workshop in one of our Twisty stories, then I would gladly borrow it, just to get everything done. Or perhaps not, after all, I know what havoc resulted when Santa’s elves tried it!

To find out more about The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, the authors, and the artist – check out this link

The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales is available in good NZ bookstores and on Amazon from late October.

Storylines Family Day – Joy Cowley

Storylines Family Day makes the Dominion Post!

The Dominion Post ran a fantastic article about Storylines Family Day in their Capital Day page this morning. Joy Cowley mentions how Storylines Family Days “give children a love of reading.” At Free Family Days we open the world of stories and knowledge to them through providing stimulating activities based on books.



Gheko Press are giving away copies of Joy’s two novels Dunger and Speed of Light, via the Dominion Post Capital Day Page. Just email with “Joy Cowley” in the subject line by 5pm Saturday 23 August. Good Luck.

I’ve read Speed of Light and it’s a fantastic journey! Just when I was sure everything was going to fall apart in Jeff’s life with no hope of recovery… well, I don’t want to spoil the book, but the ending left me with a pleasant glow. If you don’t win a copy, you can always pick one up at Storylines Family Day tomorrow. If you get there before noon, Joy may have time to sign it for you.

Julia Marshall, Director Gheko Press, with Joy Cowley and Paul Beavis.



Storylines Family Day – Antarctica Zone

    Storylines Family Day Michael Fowler Centre Wellington

Sunday 24 August 10am-3pm

Shackleton Bear Goes SouthShackleton Bear.

Well, he’s actually come north, all the way from Christchurch to be with us for Storylines Family Day in Wellington! Author John McCrystal has gone all out to bring you a wonderful Antarctica Zone for Storylines Family Day.

We’ve collected samples of marine life from 1NIWA, real stuffed penguins from Te Papa, oodles of slides, photos and pictures, a real snow tent from Antarctica NZ, and a replica of the old stove from Shackleton’s hut in South pole.  Of course, Shackleton bear will be very happy to meet you! Visit him in our version of Shackleton’s hut!

The real Shackleton’s Hut in Antarctica

Come along and make snowflakes, snow globes, and bear masks! Meet Shackleton, see John’s presentation about going to the Antarctic with Shackleton Bear and try on a real Antarctic snow suit!



We also have a Monster Fun zone, a Bugs ‘N Bees Zone, a War Zone, and more fun.

Storylines Family Day – Bugs N’ Bees Zone

Storylines Family Day Michael Fowler Centre Wellington

Sunday 24 August 10am-3pm

We have lots of bug-gy and bee-sy activities lined up at Storylines Family Day. Sally Sutton and Gary Venn have  a great book, with a bug theme, Ben and the Icky-Ooky-Sticky Smick. Brian Lovelock just illustrated Raymond Hueber’s book Flight of the Honeybee and won the LIANZA award for children’s illustration two weeks ago. So we are celebrating!

ben-and-the-icky-ooky-sticky-smick huber_flight-of-the-honey-bee

Phil Photo

Come to the Bugs N’ Bees zone and meet Phil Sirvid, Te Papa’s entomologist and a spider expert. Check out his bug collection. Don’t miss his talk, Spiders Are Cool at 2pm. Bee Photo

You can also meet Tricia Laing and Frank Lindsay, real live beekeepers from the Wellington Beekeeper’s Association. They’ll have beekeeping gear to try on and hives to show you.

Join in a bug hunt, find illustrator Gary Venn’s super-sized bugs around the venue and win the bug to keep and go into a prize draw for books! Hear Sally and Gary talk about their bug-gy book and where they get their great ideas from! Hear Brian and Frank talk about bees. Learn about the different types of bees and what they look like. See a real queen bee, a carpenter bee, drones, and more…

Get your face painted bug style. Come along and bee a bug, but whatever you do, don’t bug your parents too much! Just have fun! For Monster Fun Zone go here. For War Zone go here. For general info go here. For a program go here. See you tomorrow!

Storylines Family Day – War Zone

Storylines Family Day Michael Fowler Centre Wellington

Sunday 24 August 10am-3pm

Philippa Werry is a fantastic author, short-listed for the NZ Post children’s book awards, and a prolific writer for the School Journal. Most kids will know Pippa’s stories, even if they don’t yet recognize her name. In the last few years she has become a World War 1 specialist with several books about the war – both novels, and picture books.

best-mates Anzac-Day-300dpi








To celebrate Philippa’s great books we have a War Zone at Storylines Family Day. Real soldiers will be there to give you camouflage paint, show off their tents and equipment and let you try on soldier’s gear. They’ll even teach you how to march like a soldier!

One of our team has been baking up a storm. We have hardtack to break your teeth on (the softer modern kind) and 900 real old-fashioned Anzac biscuits – that taste more like ginger-nuts than today’s Anzac biscuits!

There are displays of WW1 soldier’s food, oodles of photos of world war one, soldier stories and even Bob Kerr’s fantastic illustrations from Best Mates. A particularly special treat is Philippa’s personal Galipolli gallery. She volunteered there on Anzac Day this year and has a fantastic presentation to share about her trip!

Philppa Werry, Anzac Day 2014 in Galipolli. Pippa is in the back row, on the right at the end with long dark hair.

Come along, march like a soldier, get dressed up and learn about the war! For a full programme, go here. For the Monster Fun Zone go here. General info go here.

Storylines Family Day – Monster Fun Zone

Storylines Family Day, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington,

Sunday 24 August, 10am-3pm

At Storylines Family Day there’s a great Monster Fun Zone.Three of this year’s featured authors had books about Monsters so we decided to let everyone enjoy the fun!

Phoebe Night Creatures
By Jenny Hessell
By Moira Wairama.
By Paul Beavis







There are two Monster Parades with our monster authors judging, and monster books as prizes. We can only guess what their criteria will be — the loudest roar, the funniest costume, the best growl or monster scowl? Come along and find out. Parades at 11:30am & 2pm.

monster parade-grey

Paul Beavis has been at work in his studio creating some monstrous props for kids to have fun with… rumours are that kids can have a turn being one of Mrs Mo’s monsters… come along to Storylines Family Day and find out how!

Mrs Mo's Mosnter

Moira Wairama is bringing her taniwha along to join the monster parade.

Storylines Family Day Taniwha

And although Phoebe is brave when she gets haunted by night creatures, we’re going to have a monster tunnel that kids can leap into to battle their fears. Yes, they can go straight thru the monster’s teeth and wriggle inside it! They’ll never be afraid of monsters in the night again! Here is a top-secret sneak preview of the monsters costume! It will look much better on the tunnel! See you tomorrow, Sunday 24 August, WP_20140823_005Michael Fowler Centre, 10am – 3pm. Go here for a copy of the program. Go here for more info about other Storylines Family Day activities. See you there!

Storylines Family Day – Wellington

Storylines Family Day is coming to town!

What is Storylines Family Day? A fun action-packed day of bringing books to life for kids (old and young.) I’ve been coaxing stuffed penguins out of Te Papa, cajoling entomologists to let their precious bug and spider collections see the light of day, mingling with monsters, sweet-talking soldiers, and skating on thin ice to help create an Antarctica zone.

Meet Mrs Mo’s Monster in the Monster Fun Zone.

How? With a fantastic committee of dedicated book enthusiasts whose creative ideas have brought our festival to life. Storylines Family Day 2014 will be a day to remember!

Come along and make a monster, be a monster in our monster parades, or climb though our monster tunnel!

Meet Shackleton Bear and visit his Antarctic Hut. See Antarctic marine samples from NIWA. Wriggle into an Antarctic suit, then go into an Antarctic sent to experience Shackleton’s hut.

Shackleton’s hut is still intact in the Antarctica today.


Life was tough in the trenches in WW1.

Get camouflage paint and try on army gear with real NZ Defence Force soldiers. See the World War One gallery and taste hardtack. Make weapons, I mean, poppies and medals. Learn about Gallipoli.

At Storylines Family Day, you can meet beekeepers, try on their gear, and check out lots of creepy crawlies!

Help illustrators make murals, meet your favourite authors, see storytellers and performers in action. Join in with the ukulele orchestra, see string ensembles and hear Virtuoso Violins in action.

And if you just want to curl up in a corner with a  book, you can go to our Scholastic books Out Aloud zone and listen to your favourite kiwi authors read their stories.

Come along and have some fun.

Kindle & Smashwords Surveys

Recently released Kindle & Smashwords surveys provide overviews about the performance of their best-selling books and authors. These Kindle & Smashwords surveys have resulted in reports, detailing the performance of their top-selling authors, ideal price and length of books, and tips for marketing eBooks.

Kindle & Smashwords surveys
Kindle & Smashwords Surveys provide book marketing insights.

Kindle’s commissioned survey, conducted by Sellbox, provides insights into the self-publishing industry, & ebook marketing best practices. Key findings include:

  • Indie authors invest more in the producing their books than marketing their books.
  • Most indie authors don’t know the best way to promote their book and mainly use their blogs and Facebook for promotion.
  • Amazon still dominates the self-publishing industry.
  • Self-publishing markets still remain in their infancy.

The associated report contains insights into marketing, some statistics about how and where authors self-publish, and a few hints about marketing books. I hope this information is helpful.

Smashwords have done a similar survey which can be found here. This survey gives interesting insights into:

  • the size of the most popular books
  • the best way to promote a series
  • optimum pricing
  • effect of free books
  • pre-orders and effectiveness for marketing books

The Smashwords slideshow resulting from their survey is embedded here for you to view.

Although the information is broad, as averages tend to be, perhaps the Kindle & Smashwords surveys can help you to decide how to market, price and sell your books!