Spring is in the air.

It’s that time of year again where we Canberrans begin to live in hope of a little warmth and sunshine. But don’t put away your winter woollies too quickly. Just when the weather feels like it has turned a corner and we can end our hibernation, the cold winds from the south return.

Late August and September did bring us some beautiful days, enough to start dreaming of Summer holidays, visiting the beach and long country walks.

Towards the end of August after a hectic bookish month, (see last months post), I escaped for a well earned rest to warmer skies. Perth already felt like Spring had sprung. I shared several glorious days with my eldest son and his wife. We explored the wonderful Swan Valley region with all its delicious offerings of wineries, chocolate factories and even a gin distillery.

I discovered like Canberra, Perth too, has a tulip festival. Their’s is set among the beautiful hills behind Perth in the Araluen Botanic Park. A hidden native garden I had no idea existed until this visit. We had planned to visit the gardens for the day anyway, when on arrival we found to our delight the tulip festival had begun. It was a perfect Spring day for meandering along garden paths under Eucalypt trees taking in the abundant colour.

Araluen Botanic Park, Perth
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Naturally, as with all my trips to Perth, we also visited Kings Park Botanical Gardens. Many of the native wildflowers were just beginning to bloom, but I did take a few lovely shots of some of the Kangaroo Paw.

 
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Springtime in Canberra means tulips, wattles and cherry blossoms. Not to mention the inevitable hay fever that comes along with all the pollen. On one of my morning walks around our valley I did stop to take a few pics of the wattle. Its bright yellow blossoms always bring sunshine to any day.

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Back home in Canberra our own Floriade has begun in all its amazing glory. I have had the opportunity to walk around the festival twice already this year. It is wonderful to see all the families out and about enjoying the weather and all that Floriade has to offer. Including the tulips and pansies, Floriade also entertains with an annual painted garden gnome competition, ferris wheel rides and art & craft, and local produce stalls. I found my picture books ‘Emma the Eager Emu’ and ‘Frazzled Freya’, both being sold among the stalls and enjoying the sunshine, (thanks so much to Monica of Wombat Cards & Gifts).

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We even managed our first trip to the beach this month. Although the wind was still a tad chilly, it was fabulous to soak in the sun and watch our grandson experience the sand and surf for the first time.

 
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I did do one school visit, for a writer’s workshop with year 5 & 6 students, (and a book signing too, at Harry Hartog in Woden.) but that is the topic of another blog post. Maybe next time.

With the Spring also came a bit of much needed rain. (We still need a lot more.) The paddocks have been looking very hard and dry and our water tanks have never been so low. On a positive note the rain brings the kangaroos out more to graze during the day. It is a chance to see all the cute new joeys as they begin to pop out of their mother’s pouches. We have also had deer grazing in our paddocks more frequently than ever before. I think they have discovered the green grass where our grey water waste flows. Deer are curious creatures and get up to rather a lot of mischief that includes eating the blossoms from my ornamental pear tree and pulling branches off my gum trees with their massive strong antlers.

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Spring is in the air and Summer is just around the corner. Time to start making plans for those lazy hazy days down the beach. That also includes a reading list for time spent in the shade of a tree, swinging in a hammock or lazing by a pool. Perhaps it’s time to plan your next Summer getaway? Don’t forget to include a book for the kids. ‘Secrets Hidden Below’ will take them to the beaches of Bali and beyond. Filled with adventure and surprises it just might inspire you and the kids to book that well deserved holiday.

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Have you ever been to a tulip festival?

What are your plans for the upcoming warmer months?

What is on your reading list?

A Bookish Month, Engaging Book Launches & School Visits.

August has been a busy month with lots happening for authors of children's books. With Book Week in the middle of the month, we have all been busy launching books and attending school functions. This years theme was 'Find Your Treasure.' So hang on to your pirate hat me matey,, lads and lassies, this is going to be one amazing adventure into the world of children's books. You may even want to make a cup of tea, this was a long month.

Children's Book Council of Australia

It all started back in July, 25th July to be precise. The ACT branch of CBCA held their Romancing The Stars meeting here in Canberra. Craig Cormick encouraged us with his stories about writing books in a series, those that are successful and those that are not quite so successful. Jacqueline de Rose-Ahem discussed ways to broaden your books reach internationally. Kerry Malone took us along on her journey to self-publication. Jack Heath brought us to tears with laughter as he looked back on his teenage years searching for books he wanted to read which became his reason for writing. Pauline Deeves discussed the abundance of research necessary when writing for the NLA (National Library of Australia and Maura Pierlot delved into her interest in dramatic play writing.. It was an inspirational evening, we all came away filled with information and motivation to continue our writing journey.

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May Gibbs Exhibition

Still in July, but at the end, 30th July, I attended the opening of the 100 year anniversary exhibition of the works of May Gibbs at Queanbeyan Library. There hasn't been a generation in Australia in the last 100 years that hasn't grown up reading about May Gibbs much loved and iconic characters Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the rest of the Gumnut Babies. To my international readers, if you have never heard of these adorable stories I highly recommend you find yourself a copy and learn about these beautifully illustrated Australian bush characters.  May Gibbs was a magnificent and much loved author and illustrator. Author Tania McCartney had the fantastic opportunity to open the exhibition. She has spent years researching the life of May Gibbs to be able to have the honour of writing a children's picture book somewhat loosely based on her life story.

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Wyrd Book launch

Cate Whittle held her book launch for her new chapter book, Wyrd, to a great crowd at Harry Hartog, Woden on August 11. The audience was enthralled to listen to Cate read an enchanting chapter full of magical wishes. Followed by delicious cupcakes, colouring-in for the little ones and plenty of books to be signed. I couldn't wait to take my signed copy home and start reading. Cate didn't disappoint. The story was wonderful. Imagine the horror of two girls who can't stand each other suddenly discovering their parents are planning to marry. Add to that mistakenly becoming a reluctant witch and you have the potential for disaster. Cate Whittle handles the story with both gentle humour and sensitivity.

 
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SCBWI ACT Meeting

Only a couple of days later, on the 15th August SCBW! ACT held their next development meeting,  Putting Yourself in the Picture was an amazing evening of shared learning experiences. Award winning author/illustrator Caroline Magerl had us in stitches with her light-hearted journey through the publication world from before technology right up to present day with the launch of her latest beautiful picture book Maya and Cat. Emma Allen, Hannah Sommerville and Susan Hall spoke about the benefits of collaboration, while Maura Pierlot discussed the advantages of going away on a writer's retreat. We all came away from the evening enriched and inspired once again. I also came home with an armful of gorgeous irresistible picture books.

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CBCA Book of the Year Awards

These were held at the National Library of Australia on 17th August and mark the beginning of Children's Book Week. I didn't have the time to attend this year, maybe next year I will make it. Congratulations to all of this years winners. Check out the list of recipients on the CBCA website.

Secrets Hidden Below Book Launch

Saturday 18th August was my turn for the official book launch at Paerchain Bookstore in Manuka of Secrets Hidden Below. Thank you so much to everyone who braved the cold wet wintry afternoon to come out and join me. My dear friend and colleague Lynne Audsley kindly agreed to launch my book for me. A small part of her wonderful speech said,

'As a child I loved reading the Famous Five books. Books that took me to a world where children had amazing adventures involving smugglers and hidden treasure. Secrets Hidden Below is that for modern children. They can experience the thrill of reading a book they can't put down. In fact it would be a good contender for dragging children from 8 years, away from their electronic devices  as they get caught up in the mystery of Secrets Hidden Below.'

After Lynne's amazing speech that I appreciated very much and felt rather humbled by, I spoke about the inspiration behind the story before reading a chapter that had everyone hooked. We then went on a treasure hunt around Bali before to the delight of the kids I revealed the hidden treasure inside the treasure box. Yummy Volcano cupcakes were enjoyed by all as the signing of books began.

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Official School Launch

Monday 20th August took me to Curtin Primary school to launch Secrets Hidden Below with the year 5/6 Indonesian LOTE students. We were fortunate to have Pak Baskora from the Indonesian Embassy join us for the morning. A huge thank you to Ibu Karen Kennedy for organising the event. The kids really enjoyed the presentation and were enthusiastic to read more of the book. We held a writing competition beforehand whereby I selected the best story to win a free copy of the book. The students were asked to write a story using several Indonesian words. The winning entry was titled The Berapi Harimau, (Volcano/Fire Tiger). I selected this one as I felt it read like a Balinese legend. I could see that Madison has the potential to be a great writer as she grows and learns.

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Telopea Park School Visit

There was no rest, this was Book Week after all. Tuesday meant another fabulous school with more kids eager to see me, learn from me and read my new book. This time I visited year 3 students at Telopea Park School. On arrival I was surprised to find an awesome display the kids had made from their work about my earlier books. They were so excited as they entered the library, the chatter bubbled with hello's, waves and whispers. By the end of the session I was swamped with requests for my autograph. It was a beautiful moment to be able to share time with these gorgeous kids. The competition here, I asked them to come up with a title for an adventure story. The winner I selected was 'The Caves Beneath The White Cliff of Dover.' I could imagine all sorts of intriguing situations arising from that title.

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Forrest Primary School Visit

Thursday 23rd August I found myself back at Forrest Primary. I have very fond memories of my teaching years at this school, but today I was not teaching, nor presenting my book. This time I was supporting fellow author Skye Davidson and illustrator Agnes Rokiczky as they launched their gorgeous and mischievous picture book Archibald the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo. It was a lovely afternoon, the Kinders and year Ones had a lot of fun.

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Of course there have been many children's authors launching books and presenting at schools this month. I couldn't get to all the launches, as much as I wanted to. I apologise to those I missed. I was there in spirit and hope to catch up with your amazing books soon.

My hectic schedule did not stop there. I flew to Perth for my eldest son's 30 birthday at the end of Book Week. Still can't believe he is that old! Where do the years go? Then flew to Port Moresby to attend the PNG Independence Day Ball with hubby, That takes us into September and there is still so much more to come. More school visits, more book signings. These are exciting times.

 
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If you missed the book launch of Secrets Hidden Below at Paperchain but would like a signed copy, you have a second chance. I will be signing books Saturday 15th September from 11:00 am at Harry Hartog Bookshop in Woden. Hope to see you there. For those who are not in Canberra, books can be purchased through Elephant Tree Publishing.

I will also be returning to Forrest Primary this Friday, 7th September to do a writing workshop with students from years 5/6. 

How about you? How was your August? Did you dress up for Book Week? Let me know in the comments below, add a photo too. I'd love to see those bookish costumes. 

 

#Gr8t Blogs Winter Road Trip

Check the tyre pressure. Plug in your GPS. Dust off your road maps. We’re off on a family-friendly road trip across Australia, North America and Great Britain in this #Gr8tblogs Winter Road Trip 2018.

My writerly friends and I are sharing insiders touring tips for your wintertime fun. I’m excited to guide you around my part of the world, Canberra, Australia. Then you can pop about the globe for more inspiring road trip ideas from other great bloggers, who are linked at the bottom of this page. 

5 Things I love about Canberra.

1.       Canberra, unlike other Australian Capital cities, actually has four seasons. Our temperature this time of year ranges from -6 Celsius to 12 C. So, if you come here June through August, be prepared to rug up. Even though our Summer can rise as high as 40 C, you can never quite put away your winter woollies, as you never know when a cold front will blow through. It has even snowed in October, our Spring! I love that with the change of seasons comes the change of colour in the trees. The streets are lined with deciduous and evergreen trees making a beautiful display all year round. I love that kids can shuffle through fallen leaves of amber in Autumn and blow wispy petals of white in Spring. In Autumn we have the Hot Air Balloon Festival that rise high above the lake early on chilly mornings, and Enlighten that illuminates the buildings around the Parliamentary circle in the evenings. Both are ideal for those walks around the lake, while in Spring we have Floriade. A festival of tulips that blossom in arranged splendour to the delight of children and parents alike. Not so much happens in the depths of winter. Canberrans tend to either hibernate her head to the snow. Living in the hills just south of Canberra sometimes we are lucky to have a snowfall ourselves. It is one of my favourite times of the year.

 

 The photo of Enlighten on Parliament House and the Balloon Festival are courtesy of the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra  

The photo of Enlighten on Parliament House and the Balloon Festival are courtesy of the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra  

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 A Royalla Winter Wonderland, rare but beautiful when it does happen.

A Royalla Winter Wonderland, rare but beautiful when it does happen.

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2.       If you are a nature lover like me, there are plenty of walking and bike riding tracks in and around the city. You can do the bridge to bridge walk around Lake Burley-Griffin or settle for a shorter walk on the foreshore. If you are lucky you might even hear the bells of the Carillon on Aspen Island, chime. Weddings are often held on Aspen Island, including one of my sons and his wife. We watched in awe as she walked across the bridge while the bells rang out across the lake.

The National Carillon on Aspen Island in the middle of Lake Burley-Griffin, playing a little something you may recognise. 

 A wonderful place for a winter walk on a sunny day.

A wonderful place for a winter walk on a sunny day.

 The Carrillon is lit up this week for #Donatelife week

The Carrillon is lit up this week for #Donatelife week

1.       Nature reserves on the outskirts of the city provide ample opportunity for hiking and discovering native flora and fauna. Tidbinbilla and Namadgi National Parks are ideal spots for picnics, day walks and even a bit of sight-seeing historical sites like the remains of the old space tracking station at the end of Apollo Road. Honeysuckle Creek Tracking station played a major role in many of NASA’s space missions including the 1969 landing on the moon. If your kids are interested in space they will love the drive out to explore this place. There is a beautiful picnic area, walking tracks and plenty of kangaroos to see as an added attraction. After that you can also take them on a tour of Tidbinbilla Space Tracking Station where they still hold all the memorabilia from the space race days.

 Remains of Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

Remains of Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

 Orroral Space Tracking Station also in Namadgi National Park, both perfect for a picnic, walk and kangaroo spotting.

Orroral Space Tracking Station also in Namadgi National Park, both perfect for a picnic, walk and kangaroo spotting.

4.       I love science and here in the middle of Canberra we have Questacon, the greatest hands-on science museum for kids I have ever seen. There is much to see and do in here. Plenty of experiments for the kids to take part in, ask questions, learn and explore. In fact, Canberra has so many places to immerse yourself in learning, there are too many choices. My favourites after Questacon, would have to be the National Gallery of Australia which features outstanding touring exhibitions such as the Cartier Exhibition, Turner, Monet, and many other brilliant Impressionists, just to name a few, and the National War memorial. Be prepared to spend hours wondering around the war memorial, it covers every possible conflict Australia has been involved in.

 Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin.

Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin.

 Floriade, held every September, (Spring) in Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley-Griifin.

Floriade, held every September, (Spring) in Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley-Griifin.

5.       One of Canberra’s best attributes to me, is its location. We are only a couple of hours drive south to the Snowy Mountains, east to coastal beaches and north to Sydney. This means ample opportunity for country drives on long winding roads discovering old country towns, with quirky gift shops, creative art & craft shops, antique shops and amazing little cafes. One of our favourite little restaurants is only an hour drive east of Canberra towards the coast in the old majestic country town of Braidwood. TorPeas is quaint and quirky, all gluten free and so welcoming it is like eating in someone’s home. On reaching the coast, my favourite beach to take visitors from overseas is one that is possibly the best kept secret. Pebbly Beach is part of Murramarang National Park just a 20 minute drive north up the Princes Highway from Bateman’s Bay. It is a quiet little beach, very clean, plenty of soft white sand, waves gently roll in, I’ve never seen the waves big enough to surf there, so it is safe for kids to swim, but the best draw card of all, is the kangaroos you will find grazing on the grass. They are so used to people they will let you pat them. To pat a kangaroo in the wild is not common, most will hop away, they are usually wary of humans, these fellows appear quite tame. The kangaroos on our property will not let us anywhere near them. Naturally, I would still caution anyone, to move slowly not to frighten them and do not feed them.

 TorPeas Restaurant in Braidwood.

TorPeas Restaurant in Braidwood.

 Me patting a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, South Coast NSW

Me patting a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, South Coast NSW

Thanks for your company. Hope you enjoyed your tour around Canberra and the surrounding region. What are favourite road trip must sees in your corner of the world? Please share in the comments section below. We would love to virtual visit you too! If you blog and want to hop with us add a live hyperlink to your family-friendly road trip in the comment section We'll swing by and give you some blog love!

As I am the only blogger in the Southern hemisphere, the other road trips are all Summer road trips. Click over to the next fun and inspirational road trip destination of your choice at any #Gr8tblogs below.

Other Blogs

Carmela Dutra - California

Julie Gorges - California

K. Lamb - California

Rebecca Lindsey - West Virginia

Cat Michaels - North Carolina

Rosie Russell  - Kansas City, Missouri

Rhonda Paglia - Pennsylvania

Patience and Persistence Does Make Dreams Come True

Emma the Eager Emu has patience and persistence, so does Frazzled Freya. In both these picture books my main characters learn the essential life lessons that to achieve anything in life you must practice, be patient and continue to try. 

One thing is certain, I have also learnt this lesson. In my blog post in May, I wrote about my chapter book set in Bali and how after almost twenty years of writing, rewriting, editing, learning and more editing and rewriting, I finally felt my baby was ready to go out into the world . First I submitted the first three chapters for a manuscript assessment by the incredibly helpful Sue Whiting at the Creative Kid Tales Festival in March. Following Sue's advice I returned home motivated and full of ideas for more rewrites and edits. When finally I felt the manuscript was complete, I found the courage to press the send button and begin the submission process to publishers.

I waited with baited breath. Just when I started to allow self doubt to take over again, I received a reply.

An offer of publication! You can imagine my excitement. To say I jumped for joy would be an understatement. I squealed with delight and ran around telling anyone who would listen. It's not everyday your dream comes true. 

That is not to say I have not been happy with self publishing so far, I have. I enjoy the road I have travelled  that helped  me reach this point. I have met many wonderful authors both indie and traditionally published and learnt so much from them all. It's just an amazing feeling to know that someone else believes in your work enough to take a risk on it and publish. I may still self publish my next picture book, it is so close to being ready, but for now I must concentrate on 'Secrets Hidden Below.'

The story has improved quite a lot over the years. It is almost unrecognisable from it's original draft. The setting and characters are the same, (almost). We have had a gender change. Instead of three brothers, the middle child is now a sister. It was a great suggestion by the publisher and I couldn't agree more. Not only does it widen the book's readership but as I edited I realised the character actually made sense as as a girl. I don't know why I hadn't seen it before? Sometimes we are a little too close to our work and it takes fresh eyes to see the obvious.

This week I have had to write the blurb for the back cover and look over several alternative front cover designs. The blurb reads as follows -

The Adamson family are set for a surfing holiday in Bali they’ll never forget.
Dad wants to surf all day and Mum wants to shop. Zac is eager to explore a sunken WW2 shipwreck. Luke is keen to cause mischief wherever he goes. Clare on the other hand, just wants to stay out of trouble.
But while building sandcastles on Kuta Beach, the kids unearth a surprising find that dramatically changes their holiday. Curiosity leads them on a dangerous path to an adventure where difficulties lurk around every corner.
Secrets Hidden Below takes the reader on an intriguing treasure hunt around an exotic tropical island that includes plenty of rotten-egg gas, a guardian snake and a volcano spirit you definitely, don’t want to anger.

I've written my bio for the publishers website and thanked them for their awesome words of encouragement. Part of their wonderful review reads 'our latest treasure is very much in the style of the classic mysteries we all loved, ( Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys). Canberra author Sandra Bennett has written Secrets Hidden Below, a rollicking adventure set in Bali for children aged 7-10. What child couldn't resist a sunken Ww2 Japanese shipwreck, a message in a bottle, a treasure map, a guardian snake, lots of rotten egg gas and a volcano spirit? ' I am so humbled that my writing has been mentioned in the same category as my childhood heroes. The new book will be released in August during book week. Thanks Elephant Tree Publishing for having faith in me. 

Next my story will go off to the type setter. I will do one last proof read and we will be ready to send the book to the printer.

School visits and book launches are next to plan.The chance to spend time reading, entertaining children  and helping them learn is my favourite part of writing children's books. Being able to share read aloud moments with them  and seeing their joy makes  my day. Exciting times ahead.

Are you are a teacher or parent in Canberra or Sydney who might like me to visit your school for a reading or writing workshop during book week or the weeks that follow? Please contact me here in the comments section below, my email gingerbreadaliens@gmail.com or through Elephant Tree Publishing. I would love to share my new chapter book with your kids.

Now for the big reveal! Here is the cover!

Secrets Hidden Below

Impressions of Papua New Guinea ... so far.

It took a lot longer than expected, but I'm finally here. Below are four of my impressions of living in Port Moresby as an expat as I see it at the beginning of this journey. Some things may change in the next three years, some things may not. Life goes on wherever we are and we make the most of what we are given.

1. No Hurry.

The first thing I have learnt about this nation is that nothing ever happens in a hurry. I think living in the tropics makes people more relaxed. With the constant heat there is no need to exert yourself. There is no sense of urgency to complete a task. I remember observing my maid in Thailand. Before then I had never seen anyone sweep a floor with such carefree abandon as she did. Khun Nong made sweeping a floor look so relaxing. The Papua New Guineans make it look just as easy, they do not put in the effort that we do. Time here is viewed in a similar manner to the Indonesians. It's all about 'rubber' time, flexible, easily bent and of little concern. It's a bit like learning to 'hurry up and wait.' You tend to do a lot of waiting here. It took us a lot longer for work visas to be approved than we anticipated. In fact, to sum up the life style here, the Spanish have a saying 'manyana' meaning tomorrow or some unspecified time in the future. Here in PNG the meaning of manyana is similar, but does not convey the same sense of urgency. Even the cars are driven around the city at a snail pace as if there is no where in particular anyone has to go. Consequently traffic jams are amazing, cars manage to find their way into gaps that no westerner would attempt, but when driven at a crawl, it is no problem. This photo was taken back home in Canberra at the PNG High Commission on one of our visits to complete our visa applications.

2. Safety.

I touched on this in my original post when we first visited PNG before signing the contract. The gap between the 'haves and have nots' is huge. Consequently crime is rife and staying safe requires vigilance. When driving through the traffic we have been told to always be aware of an escape route. Leave a gap where possible to allow to do a u-turn and drive away as fast as you can if a rascal comes racing towards the car. Keep the car doors locked at all times and always be aware of your surroundings. Never drive anywhere at night and certainly don't think about driving out of the city without a driver who is a PNG National. As for walking anywhere, that proves near impossible too. I have two choices, a) the treadmill in the gym in the apartment complex or b) the path around the inside of the gated community we are living in. As I am used to my walks around the valley I live in back home, I prefer to walk outside, therefore so far I have chosen option b. I have been told it is not wise to leave the gated community on my own at any time. I have lived in a guarded compound before, we did it for two years in Thailand. The only difference was that I felt safe to leave that one, catch a baht bus and head down to Beach Road in Pattaya to go shopping. That's not at all possible here. Life is going to be that much more restricted. However, I'm sure once I meet a few other expat wives, life will become more involved in the community. In the photo below you can see the car park to our apartment complex. There are two sets of security gates to drive through before you are in.

3. The People.

Even though there is an element that will choose to do harm for the chance to take a wallet, mobile phone or jewellery, the majority of people I have met have been nothing but friendly and courteous. Whether it's the guards at the gates, cleaners, gardeners or restaurant staff, they all say hello, and are keen to stop for a chat. We had a wonderful conversation with our waitress just last night at the Royal Papua New Guinea Yacht Club. Christine was a lovely quietly spoken young girl with pearls of wisdom beyond her age. When I commented that I probably shouldn't have had dessert as I couldn't really fit it in. Christine smiled and replied, 'dinner is for the stomach, dessert is for the heart.' I thought that was a beautiful comment. Although Pidgin English is their native language, they are all taught to speak English in school. It is with education that this nation will grow.

 

4. Tourism.

Would I recommend Port Moresby as a place to come visit? Probably not. It is pretty much a developing country on Australia's doorstep, desperately trying to elevate itself from poverty, but I fear that is still a long way off.  We did have a day out of the city on Sunday. A driver took us into the mountains to the Virartas National Park. The drive through the mountains was stunning. The road meandered through thick lush green tropical forest. The majority of the vegetation resembled the rainforests of far north Queensland. Our driver informed us that the road was built by the ANZACs during the war. He said WW1 , but I'm sure he meant WW2. If we had continued for another 35 minutes along the road, we would have reached the beginning of the Kokoda Track. One day I would like to walk part of the track, but it will be with security, or an expat tour, not just a driver. On our return down the mountain we visited the ANZAC War Memorial which was quite an emotional experience. Graves  of fallen soldiers from Australian and New Zealand Armed Forces were in lines too numerous to count. Many tombstones bared the name and age of young men too young to die, it broke my heart. Many still, were unnamed. Lost souls buried in another country for fighting for our freedom. There were PNG soldiers buried there too. We have much to thank them for. If you have loved ones buried here or who fought here and managed to survive the horror of Kokoda, then perhaps a journey here is worthwhile.  Port Moresby is only a 3.5 hour flight from Brisbane and if you appreciate war history, then this is a place worth considering.

Have you ever lived in a gated community? How did you find life there?

Would you want to visit Papua New Guinea?

Do you have any questions you would like answered? I will do my best to find out.

Have You Been to Bali?

Sun, sand, surf, you can find that on any beach right around our beautiful Australian coastline at any time of year. So why fly north to Bali?

Most Aussies fly to Bali for a sun drenched holiday where they can sit back , relax, be pampered, surf and party.

However, there is so much more to see and do around the island beyond the beach resorts.

As a family, we first experienced the exotic island over twenty years ago. This was when my idea for an adventure chapter book set in Bali was born.

Throughout the years since then, I  have nurtured its growth and believe it is now ready to fly the nest just like the rest of my children.

In recent days I have with hesitant fingers pressed the send button on my submission to two publishers. The harrowing wait begins.

Perhaps now is the time to revisit this beautiful tropical island, its people, culture and mystique.

Animism

Did you know the Balinese are a very spiritual people? Their religious belief system is steeped in history and mythology.

Animism is an ancient form of Hinduism that combines Hindu gods with primitive ancestor worshipping. It includes the battle between the forces of good and evil. 

Animism holds the belief that large stones, trees or other natural objects may house invisible spirits. Consequently, a small shrine is often built for them either nearby, or as a protective covering. Offerings of food and flowers are placed on the ground in bamboo trays to deter demons or evil spirits.

You may find an effigy of an animal god or a pair of mythical demon statues guarding many temple entrances. These too, are places to present offerings.

There are many places to visit around Bali where you will find evidence of this spiritual belief. Below are a few such places, that the Bradberrie Brothers discover as they follow their adventure trail around the island in their quest to find 'secrets hidden below'.

 

Ubud

In my chapter book one of the places the boys are amazed by, is the drive through the village of Ubud. Here they encounter streets along the roads that wind through lush green tiered rice fields lined with spirit poles, presenting offerings to appease evil spirits.

Ubud is only about an hour drive north inland from the main tourist beaches around Kuta, yet it is where you encounter a hub of the traditional Balinese lifestyle. It is known for it's culture, arts, crafts and market stalls set among the cooler climate of the rice paddy backdrop. Ubud is also where you will find health and yoga retreats, as it is a place of calmness and well-being.

Tanah Lot Temple

Not far up the coast from Kuta, stands this magnificent and iconic temple. Sat on a rock surrounded by water, it is accessible at low tide.

One of many along the coastline, including Uluwatu, this temple was built centuries ago in order to worship the gods of the sea.

Nowadays, tourists flock to this destination for photo opportunities, particularly at sunset. A note of caution at these Temples, not only are they guarded by spirits, (good or evil) but monkeys too, all too willing to grab your food, bag or jewellery.

Along with the mystique of the culture, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from both intruders and evil spirits.

I wind this into my story as the boys encounter something lurking in the shadows of the caves in and around Tanah Lot Temple.

Mt Batur

There truly is something for everyone on this island. If you are not into sun, sand and surf, history and culture, or arts and crafts, there are volcanoes.

Mt Batur is an active 700 m tall volcano to the north of the island. It is formed between two craters. At its base in one of the craters is Lake Batur.

The volcano rises above several small villages nestled among rice fields within the craters and can be quite a formidable sight  It is well worth the day drive to watch the volcano quietly smoulder among the clouds.

Within the pages of my book a thirst for adventure, temptation and intrigue lead our mischievous boys on a dangerous path to this volcano.

Amed Beach

Like most Aussie kids, the brothers in my story have grown up loving water sports. Whether it's at the beach learning to surf or in a backyard pool, we all learn to swim. Water is in our nature and swimming is a big part of our culture. So when visiting Bali we are all drawn to the beaches. Brian, my main character, has discovered the perfect snorkelling location. It is a small coral reef made from the remnants of a sunken World War 2 Japanese ship wreck. The coral and fish that are to be found there are renowned to be some of the most spectacular in the world.  Found in the middle of the 'Coral Triangle' just off the coast of Amed beach, it is in shallow enough water to allow snorkelers and divers a chance to see her many treasures. The boys are however, in search of another treasure. Does Brian ever manage to have his day snorkelling? Maybe one day, you will be able to read my story to find out.

 

Have you ever visited Bali? Basked in her sun and culture?

Have you ventured out of the beach resorts to discover her natural wonders?

The Bradberrie Brothers discover much more than they bargain for in "Secrets Hidden Below.'

 

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference.

The thought of attending a conference on my own makes me shudder with fear. My husband can step into a room of unknown people and before you know it he has made friends with at least a dozen of them.

I'm the complete opposite. Born in July, I am a typical crab. I like to hide in my shell. build up my walls and observe while everyone else around me talks.

In social situations where I know all the people that are invited I'm fine, but put me in a situation where I am out there on my own I suddenly dry up. I  can't find anything to talk about,  and certainly can't begin to think about joining a group where they all seem to know each other and I am the odd one out.

Sound familiar? So why would you put yourself in this situation and attend a conference of like-minded people?

In the past two months I have done just that. The first was a writer's workshop in the beautiful Araluen Valley with the amazing Jackie French. The second was the Creative Kids Tales Writer's Festival in "The Shire." The place I grew up and called home for my younger years.

I learnt a lot from these events and I am so pleased I put myself out there on a limb, took a chance and dove into the experience.

Here are my top 5 reasons you should consider attending a conference in your field no matter how introverted you are.

Developing your Network.

This could be one of the hardest for me. Online, I have no problem connecting with other authors. In person, this is a lot harder. While at the festival I had hoped to introduce myself to other authors that had also been involved in the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection. I don't think I managed to speak to one of them, until perhaps the end of the day when this photo was taken. I did connect with other authors and illustrators that were new to this publishing journey and I hope I was able to help them with a little insight of my journey so far. It was a few small steps, but at least I have now met a few more like-minded people to continue along the road with. I encourage you to do this too. You are never alone, there are always other people in your field willing to share their experiences and wisdom.

Increasing your Knowledge.

The keynote speakers at the festival were amazingly generous with sharing their knowledge. I wrote copious pages of notes so numerous I don't know where to begin. A huge thanks to Georgie Donaghey, founder of Creative Kids Tales for bringing together these wonderful writers, illustrators and editors to speak to us. Also a massive thank you to Susanne Gervay, Wai Chim, Tristan Banks, Sue Whiting and Sarah Davis for being so willing to give their time to us novice writer's so that we may learn from your incredible experiences. A few of my take-home points from their advice is as follows -

  • Do your research, read a lot, rethink your work, rewrite, make it relatable.
  • Don't be afraid to write about hard topics, but soften it with highs and lows. Add laughter as well as tears and always finish with a happy ending.
  • Start with what you know, then lie. In other words, be creative, stretch the the truth, add a twist and see where it leads. Build on what you know to find an original story.
  • When marketing think outside the square, be unique, different but always be true to yourself.
  • Write the story that only you can tell. Look at it from different angles, make it topical, be brave, bold and write from the heart.

Improving your skills.

As a member of Creative Kids Tales we had the bonus of being offered a one on one manuscript assessment by either Clare Hallifax, Sue Whiting, Sarah Davis or Susanne Gervay. This was an opportunity not to be missed. Sure, you can pay for a manuscript assessment without attending a conference. You can email your manuscript off into the ether to someone and wait for a written response, but to meet and personally speak to the assessor makes the experience all the more personal and worthwhile. I truly appreciate all the advice Sue Whiting gave me for my junior chapter book. It has been a work in progress for many years. After speaking with her and listening to all her valuable advice I now feel I am on track to finally complete the story and begin the submission process with more confidence. Sue was able to guide me in the right direction where I could see I wasn't quite right but wasn't sure how to fix it.  Like anything, writing takes practice and is a constant learning curve. No matter how much you read or study, there is always something someone can teach you.

Build your resource library.

Conferences always supply goodie bags and the Creative Kids Tales Writer's Festival was no exception. There were two bags on offer, one for members and one for non-members. Inside among all the pamphlets and wonderful information were also a couple of books to add to your resource library. Inside my bag was the fabulous picture book 'I'm Australian Too,'by Mem Fox, (which is among the Children's Book Council of Australia's short listed books of 2018), and a YA novel 'The Things We Promise' by J. C. Burke. I also managed to buy for myself copies of Georgie Donaghey's PB 'Clover's Big Idea.'  Can't wait to start reading that to my 3 month old grandson. Susanne Gervay's JF,  'Super Jack' and Sue Whiting's MG 'Missing." I have already finished reading 'Missing,' it was certainly an 'unputdownable' irresistible story. You never know what fantastic things you might come home with. It goes without saying, I wore my CKT badge with pride on the day and hope to find other occasions to wear it too.

Opportunity to Challenge yourself.

As I said at the beginning I am by nature a rather introverted person. I overcame this to an extent as a teacher. Put me in front of a group of kids and I can read, teach, perform for hours, but put me in front of a room full of adults and I freeze. So the decision to enter the draw to 'Pitch Ya Book' was a biggie!  While introducing myself to people at an event is difficult, this was even harder.The idea was to prepare a picture book pitch, place your name in the box on entry to the festival and hope to have your name drawn out.  When the time came for the pitches, I actually sat there hoping my name would not be called out. My self doubt had overwhelmed me. Sure enough my biggest fear eventuated. Before I knew it I heard Georgie call my name. It felt surreal as I rose and walked to the front to take the microphone. My mouth dried up, I felt myself begin to shake as my face flushed. I opened my mouth and began to stammer. Before I knew it my two minutes to explain my latest Australian animal picture book were up and it was all over. I was left to hear the response from the panel. They gave some fantastic feedback and brilliant advice to take home to help with my edits. I always felt the story needed a different ending. I now have a new antagonist, Mr Fox is no longer. I have heard before, 'Don't be afraid to kill your darlings.'  The panel advised that a fox as an antagonist was too predictable. Foxes have been hard done by in children's stories, perhaps it would be better to find another option, preferably another Australian animal. Enter a Tasmanian Devil who brings a different slant to the story that is all the more stronger and improved. Armed with Tassie as my new baddie, my new ending became obvious to me, the story practically wrote itself. Challenging myself to attend a conference on my own proved far more worthwhile than I could ever have hoped. Who knows, I might even try to do it again one day.

So there you have it. This little crab is proud to say she has poked her head out of her shell, challenged herself and taken steps to move forward. Next Thursday night I will be attending the SCBWI ACT meeting here in Canberra. Who knows, I may even raise my hand to ask a question...but don't count on it!

Do you attend conferences? How do you feel about them?

An Expat's Life..... Again!

Here we go again, one last hoorah before retirement. Hubby and I are about to embark on one final adventure in a career that has taken us throughout South-East Asia and all around Australia. Last week we flew overseas to a neighbouring country to see where our next and final posting is most likely to be for the next three years. The new company wanted us both to have a look around the area before making the final decision to sign the contract. We have seen some incredible places during our working lifetime, yet nothing before had quite prepared me for this.  I can certainly say that being married to Mr B, for 32 years has never been boring. Life has taken us on a wonderful journey of adventure and cultural learning.

His first Expat job took him away to Indonesia for the duration of my third pregnancy. He departed when we had two point three children, yes I was just at the end of my first trimester with Alex, when he was asked to head to Jakarta and the Sumatran jungle. We made the joint decision that it was better for the boys and I to stay in Australia at that time. Our other two boys were only 2  and 5 years old.  Mr B finally managed to returned to us just days before Alex was born.

A year later, the Expat bug had nibbled his feet again and I found myself with seven weeks to pack up our house before hubby returned to help me move the family to Pattaya, Thailand for two years. That was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The boys experienced growing up immersed in a fascinating culture while attending school in a multicultural melting pot of diversity. I was fortunate to pick up work teaching at the same International School which broadened my skills and knowledge to a level of experience I could never have discovered back home. We made many wonderful life-long friends along the way and made precious memories that will forever be in my heart and soul.

Since then, work has taken Mr B in and out of Indonesia. We both learnt to speak Bahasa Indonesia, He, while immersed in the culture, myself, during two years of intensive night classes which helped qualify me to then teach Indonesian language. after also completing my Grad Cert in ESL/LOTE. In the years since our travels through South-East Asia and study of this unique culture that is on our doorstep, I have written a chapter book set in Bali full of adventure, history, culture and language. After many revisions, I hope to finally publish it this year.

We've also had the opportunity to work all over Australia including Perth, Karratha and most recently two fabulous years in Darwin. Living in the Top End of Australia was akin to being an Expat. The tropical climate made it feel like Thailand again. The transient population of workers that flew in and flew out, or had short term contracts combined with the influx of tourists during the dry season all added to the vibrant and welcoming nature of the destination. We embraced the life-style, the people and the cultural diversity once again.

As I write this, I find myself at the beginning of the latest chapter of our expat journey. This should be our final chapter before settling down on our beautiful little country property just outside Canberra. Where am I? As I look out of my hotel window I see a beautiful blue bay surrounded by lush green mountains. Immediately below me in the foreground I can see and hear the busy work of construction as a city prepares four lane highways, lays down pipework, and re-seals existing roads. Cranes and trucks beep as they reverse busily erecting apartments and business centres. It is a city of massive growth and excitement. The new convention centre is well on the way to completion in time for the APEC summit in November. There is a buzz in the air as people go about their day to day business in a constantly developing nation. Yet, at any time of day, the nationals are happy to stop, say hello and have a chat.

It is a tropical climate once again, they are nearing the end of their wet season. by April there will be minimal rain then it will be dry until the rains start to arrive again in October.

The only downside I can see so far is the fact that I am used to walking at least 5 Km every day. This will not be possible here. With my fair hair and white skin I tend to stand out in a crowd somewhat, making it not advisable to walk the streets alone during the day or night. There is an element of danger that an Expat must be aware of at all times. While the people we have met so far have been so friendly, there are those on the streets that will take advantage. After all, this is a developing country, wages are minimal, poverty is everywhere. The gap between those that have a lot and those that have very little is quite obvious. Everywhere we have been taken, shopping centres, restaurants, apartment complexes, business buildings and hotel, have all been heavily guarded by armed security and gates. Hopefully as the country develops this will diminish as economic growth brings prosperity to the region.

Have I given you any clue as to where I am? Do you think you know?

We fly home tomorrow, then it's a waiting game. We wait for work visas, medical reports and Mr B has to be accredited as a member of the IEPNG, all before we will be permitted to return. All being well, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea will become our new home for the next three years. While Mr B will spend most of the time here, I plan to fly in/out, sharing my time here and home in Canberra. This Nanna can't miss out on the first three years of my new little grandson's life.

It should be an interesting few years, full of cultural learning and diversity once again, all of which we embrace with open hearts and minds.

Have you ever experienced life as an Expat? If so, let me know where and your thoughts on the experience in the comment section below.

If not, if you could work in another country, which one would you choose and why?

Looking Back at 2017: My Most Memorable Moments.

What sort of year have you had? Has it been a roller coaster for you or perhaps more smooth sailing? Were there any Milestone events? Let's take a moment to ponder upon our happiest times and consider maybe a few of those not quite so successful days. In general I hope 2017 has been a good year for you all.
I invite you to come along on a journey with me as my writerly pals and I  share our most memorable moments in the Looking Back at 2017 Blog Hop. Please have a read of each our most personal reveals. Read mine here, then visit the other #Gr8Blogs linked at the end of this post for more look-backs. We hope you’re inspired to gather round with your family for a look-back, too.
1. Surprising/Joyful
I'll never forget the moment my middle son and his wife presented me with a little surprise package.
It was a Friday evening in early May. They arrived home grinning from ear to ear and placed a small black cardboard box in my lap.
I had no idea what was going on or what to expect?
Inside was a card and several gifts. - The card read "Congratulations on becoming Grandparents! Here's your starter pack!'
Included were several tiny nappies, bibs and coveralls.
They had been wanting this miracle to happen for quite some time. We had stopped thinking about it being possible for now as they had appeared to take on a different direction in their lives and began to concentrate on work and buying a home.
You can imagine our surprise and delight!
We have spent the remainder of the year preparing for the joyful event, as the card reads, 'Womb departure date, 1st January 2018."
It's going to be one amazing New Year!
Update: The joyful news is he arrived on Friday 5th January 2018
The most precious gift of all, our gorgeous first grandson, and this Nanna couldn't be prouder. 
2. Exciting/Triumphant
We moved onto our dream piece of land in 2007, 13 acres of sheer bliss. At the time we moved into a shell of a shed, a caravan and a port-a-l00. Over the years we gradually made the shed comfortable, (probably a little too comfy) and slowly worked away at building our dream home.
Each year when someone asked when were we moving in? My reply was always the same, sometime before Christmas, but I never said Christmas of which year.
2017, ten years after the initial move, was finally the year. In October we finished enough of the house to be able to move in.
It was such an exciting and triumphant moment to move our furniture in and not have to go down to the shed to sleep at night.
A lot of hard work and love by all our family has gone into building our home, it feels amazing to finally be in! Yet somehow, so homely, just as I always planned, it also feels like we have always been here.
There is still much to be done to complete the finishing touches. We still have no cupboard doors in the kitchen, or skirting boards and architraves around some doors, but that's ok. I'm a patient woman. I've waited this long, I can wait a bit longer. 
3. Successful.
As far as my writing is concerned, 2017 brought me success in having two  short stories accepted for publication in the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection.
This was an amazing opportunity to be part of a collection of stories by so many wonderfully talented Australian authors and illustrators.
The stories are varied in style and length, some are prose, some poems. Some are light and entertaining, others are humorous or thought provoking.
The stories range from the really young reader to the young at heart.
One of my stories is a poem for ages 3 - 6 years while the other is a short story for ages 8 - 12 years.
As the collection was due for release in time for Christmas, both of my stories are Christmas themed.
"Aster's Aussie Christmas" is a little poem penned to delight children from all around the world as they travel with my little alien in Santa's sleigh and discover all the wonders Australia has to offer.
"A Whale of a Christmas Time," takes older children on a journey of discovery in a different way. As the maim character must learn to help save a pod of beached whales, readers will learn that giving is far more important than receiving.
4. Disappointing.
As I embarked on 2017, I had many plans when it came to my writing. I had stories set to publish, marketing plans, school fetes and visits to organise.
Sometimes life gets in the way and even the best intentions and plans don't always see the light of day. I'm OK with that, it's been a busy and amazing year in so many other ways.
At least it gives me time to ponder those stories a little longer, revise, edit, and revise some more.
Who knows, perhaps 2018 will be the year?
Thanks for stopping by! How was YOUR 2017? Please share in the comment section.
For more Look-Back moments, visit the #Gr8blogs below.
If you’d like to join us on this hop, add the family-friendly link to your blog in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love!

Tis the Season for Holiday Traditions

This is the season when memories are made and family is celebrated in unique, joyous ways. Whether your traditions are Christmas based or not, it's still a time to came together and share special moments together. What traditions make your holiday?

Perhaps it's hanging that special ornament made by your child years ago and brought out every year. to be hung  in pride of place,

Do you whip up a special recipe that Grandma taught you long ago?

While you ponder some of your fond memories please join me and my #Gr8Blog colleagues as we share a few of our Holiday Traditions That Ring In Our Season.

A Past Family Tradition.

When I was little we had a huge Pine Tree at the bottom of our backyard. Well, it seemed huge to me at the time. I always knew Christmas was almost here when Dad went down to select a branch to be cut and made into our Christmas tree.

He would plant the branch in a bucket of sand. (We collected the sand from the sandhills at Cronulla each year). That in itself was a fun day out as Summer was upon us and we could slide and roll down the sandhills for hours. Mum would then wrap the bucket in Christmas paper and the tree would stand tall in the corner of our lounge room where we would decorate it with shiny ornaments and tinsel. The angel was always last to be added, her special place was on the top of the tree, she was the finishing touch.

The scent of the pine needles permeating the house combined with the build up of Summer heat made it feel like Christmas was here.

Past Treasured Recipes.

When I was young, Christmas dinner was not complete without a traditional Christmas pudding. My Aunt continued the old tradition of hiding a handful of threepence in the steaming hot fruit pudding and covered it with a delicious port wine sauce. Once decimal currency arrived, she converted the coins to 5 cent pieces. My fondest memories are sitting around my Aunt's dining table being surprised by my father and grandfather as they each in turn pulled out larger coins from their serving of pudding. My sister and I would increase in jealousy and eat more of our pudding in hope of more money. Alas we were to only ever find 5 cent pieces in our serving. It wasn't until the stakes rose so high that Dad and my granddad began to raise one and two dollar notes above the table that we realised they were joking.

As I grew older, it wasn't the gathering of coins that made me eat Christmas pudding, but my Aunt's famous port wine sauce. We couldn't get enough of it. She always promised to write the recipe down "one day." Unfortunately "one day" never came, and try as she might, my mum never did quite manage to replicate it.

Today's Family Traditions.

While we are surrounded by trees since we live on a property instead of suburbia, we haven't planted any pine trees because they are not native to Australia and the native wildlife won't nest in them. As a result,  I don't have access to our old tradition. I could use a branch from a gum tree and have the scent of Eucalypt through the house, but I prefer my imitation tree that I can use time and time again without cutting anything down. It goes up on the 1st of December each year and sits in my bay window for all to see. Naturally, my angel sits atop my tree just like my childhood memory. Ornamental reindeer adorn every nook and cranny possible around my house, it's a bit of a joke between hubby and myself, they serve as a reminder to him to look before you throw things away. I guess you could say he learnt the hard way. Accidentally throw out one  favourite reindeer, find a dozen more every year since. They just keep multiplying!

Today's Treasured Recipes.

When my eldest son was old enough to start cooking, he began making a Gingerbread House for Christmas. Later, my nephew took over the task, then it was his brother's turn. Each year we look forward to seeing the latest creation and delight in cutting into the house and tasting the delicious treat. Of course Gingerbread Men are traditional favourites this time of year too. When our boys were younger they enjoyed a gingerbread man or two. This lead to my idea for my early reader series starring Gingerbread Aliens, after all, most boys like gingerbread and aliens, put them together and you have a recipe for a great story. Over the years I have made many batches of Gingerbread Aliens to the delight of lots of children. In the story the kids use sultanas and honey spread across the top of the head to represent brains, they cut up green jubes for eyes and roll up orange jelly snakes and stick them on the middle for the gingerbread aliens insides. Kids love it when the intestines melt and go all gooey! Disgusting! Sometimes I make life easier for myself and decorate the gingerbread aliens with green icing. Either way they look cool, are lots of fun and taste yum!

Here's the recipe if you would like to give them a try this Christmas,

Gingerbread Alien Recipe

Ingredients

125g softened butter or margarine

½ cup (100g) brown sugar

½ cup (125ml) golden syrup

1 egg

3 cups SR flour *

1tbs ground ginger

1tsp ground cinnamon

1/2tsp ground cloves

Snakes, jubes, sultanas, honey to decorate 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.
  3. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large bowl until creamy.
  4. Add the egg and beat until combined.
  5. Add the flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  6. Use your hand to knead until smooth.
  7. Cover and rest in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough into 2 portions.
  9. Roll one portion out on a lightly floured surface to about a 4-5 mm thickness.
  10. Use a 12cm gingerbread man pastry cutter to cut out shapes.
  11. Reshape head by pushing in the sides to elongate and make more triangular.
  12. Alternatively for those more creative, do not use cutter, use a blunt knife to shape by cutting freehand.
  13. Use a skewer to poke two holes for nostrils and draw a thin line for a mouth,
  14. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.
  15. As soon as gingerbread aliens come out of oven, decorate with sultanas and honey mixed together, snakes and lollies for eyes. Aliens need to be hot for lollies to stick while cooling.
  16. Repeat with remaining dough, rolling and re-rolling gingerbread.

*I used Gluten Free flour and it worked just as well as ordinary flour.

Snakes were also gluten free. You can also buy fruit salad gluten free lollies to use for the eyes.

If you've not read the story or shared it with a loved 4-10 year old child yet, I guarantee they will laugh from the beginning to the end. It is a great Christmas gift.

Why not read the story and and make a batch of gingerbread aliens today! Find out exactly what becomes of the disaster in the kitchen when the boys mix up the recipe?

Available in print here on my website or in ebook via Amazon.

What sort of Gingerbread man could you create? Let your imagination play. Make one and send me a photo. I'll add it to my list.

Thanks for stopping by! What’s your most-treasured holiday tradition? Please share in the comment section.
For more traditions to ring in your holiday season, find inspiration in the #Gr8blogs below. If want to tag onto this hop, add the family-friendly link to your blog in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love!