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A child asks—a mother answers

It was nap time and I had snuggled into the big bed with my three-year-old after the last story book page had been read.

“Mummy,” she asked, “how can God speak if he doesn’t have a tongue?”WDG1

She was child number three so I was no stranger to the tricky questions kids can ask. This was an odd one, though. We weren’t a religious family, didn’t go to church or include God and the Bible in everyday conversation.

“Nanna said God knows everything we do and can see and hear everything but he doesn’t have eyes and ears. So how does he do that?”

Ah. Mystery solved. I answered as best I could and smiled when she wanted to know who looked after God and dressed Him, marveling at the workings of my child’s mind.

Subject closed, I thought. Then my writer’s mind clicked into gear. It wasn’t a conscious decision to write a picture book called Who Dresses God? I didn’t sit down, pen in hand, and plan out my story. I didn’t debate the pros and cons of using rhyme, or consider whether there was a market for this particular book.

It was one of those ‘gifts’ that turns up from time to time in a writing life; a story, poem or scene from a larger work that arrives without warning and the only effort on the author’s part is to commit the words to the page or screen.

Of course, after it was written and shared with family, I did approach publishers to see if anyone was interested. Over the years three publishers accepted the book but for one reason or another it was never published and eventually I filed it away and forgot about it.

In 2010 my dad died. A deeply spiritual man, he’d had a profound influence on my life. We’d had many discussions about the meaning of life and he’d left me his spiritual writing to share as I saw fit. While sorting through the dozen or so boxes of his manuscripts, I remembered my story and how much he’d liked it.

The publishing industry had changed radically in the meantime. Writers had more options. Advances in technology had seen to that. I decided to self-publish the book, to make it available to parents who also were confronted with the difficult task of explaining their belief in the existence of a higher being to a young child. Artist Veronica Rooke created the beautiful illustrations to accompany the text and Who Dresses God? finally came onto the market.

WDGwebI’ve had many stories published since that nap time conversation and the three-year-old who wanted to know who dresses God is now the mother of two children aged nine and 11 with questions of their own about life.

No matter how many books I have published, the book she inspired will always have a special place in my heart. When a child asks, a mother will always do her best to answer.

Who Dresses God? is available as a paperback  here and as an e-book here






The Writing Process – An Authors Blog Chain

A big thank you to Juanita Keys, author of Under the Hood, for inviting me to take part in this authors blog chain. What a wonderful way to find out how other authors work and discover new books to read. Under_the_Hood Juanita achieved her dream of becoming a published author in 2012 with the release of her debut romantic suspense, Fly Away Peta. Under the Hood followed in 2013 as one of the first releases from Harlequin’s digital pioneer, Escape Publishing. She escapes the real world to write stories starring spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. When she’s not writing, editing or proofreading, Juanita is the cleaning fairy and mother to three boys (hubby included, his toys are just a little more expensive).  You can find Juanita and her book on

And now to meet the challenge Juanita has set for me…

1) What am I working on? A YA novel called Monelli & Me, which is about truth, lies and the damage secrets can cause. I came up with the idea for it many years ago when my daughter was a teenager. She’d joined the local amateur theatre group with her cousin and I wrote a play with leading roles for the two of them. I had no idea about the practicalities of writing for the stage and it was never produced but it did get some positive feedback from a competition. The idea must have stayed dormant in the back of my mind because about five years ago I decided to turn it into a novel. I got nowhere with it when I tried to find a publisher so it went back into the filing cabinet until last year when I took it out and reread it. Immediately I knew I could write it better now because I’m writing at a different level. Of course, I’m never working on one thing because I’m a bit of a butterfly, and I’m also playing around with a couple of picture book ideas. One is purely a fun story, which is what I like doing best, and the other is about the loss of a baby, so it’s a lot harder to write.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? A lot of my writing is for children and I tend to choose quirky ideas, such as advertising a cranky dad for sale in the local newspaper, and coming up with weird ways to get rid of wrinkles in 10 days. My style is basically quite light-hearted and Even when I’m writing about serious topics there’s always an underlying message of hope and optimism because that’s how I see life.  

3) Why do I write what I do? I have a head full of stories that insist on being told. It’s as simple as that! Every so often I decide I’m going to stop being a writer and go off to grow petunias, paint flower pictures and do tap dancing. Next thing I know I have an idea for another story and it’s back to the keyboard. I do tend to write ‘feel good’ stories, particularly for young readers and that’s probably because I’m the sort of person who wants life to be all sweetness, light and happy endings. The reality is so different but I don’t do magic. I can’t bring peace and harmony to the world so I write gentle stories about everyday people and quirky tales to entertain young readers instead.

4) How does my writing process work? That depends on what I’m writing. For a poem or picture book it can be quite a haphazard, disorganised process, especially in the beginning. I tend to write bits and pieces as they come to me in between doing other things, so I end up with lots of scraps of paper or pages of chaotic scribble without any structure.  When I think I’ve got enough to work with I start putting it together properly and knocking it into shape. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw. The trouble is, I don’t have much control with this sort of writing and it can take me a long time to produce a completed manuscript. With novels, it’s different. First I get a strong sense of the characters and the general concept of the story and sit with that until I know the opening lines so I can start writing and see where it takes me. I don’t work out the plot in detail or plan out scenes or chapters. My characters’ appearance and backstory is a mystery to me until their story unfolds. Sometimes get stuck and have to step aside for a while and do something else because I don’t know what happens next.  Once I’ve got a completed first draft, I systematically work through it, revising and refining it until I’m satisfied it’s the best I can do. During this stage I share my chapters with a wonderful group of professional writers and draw on their invaluable feedback and suggestions to get the book up to submission standard.

Well, there you have it. Now I’m passing the baton to Dale Harcombe, an Aussie author who writes with perception and compassion about everyday life. Streets cover Dale’s latest novel Streets on a Map published in December 2010 is now also an E book. It has received some excellent reviews.  You can find some of them on her website As well as fiction. Dale has Kaleidoscope, a collection of poetry, published. She also likes to write children’s fiction. Since Chasing after the Wind, she has had 7 children’s novels published. She has run workshops at the NSW Writers Centre, Parramatta Evening College and Central West Community College in poetry and creative writing. She worked for many years as a manuscript assessor and is an avid reader and book reviewer.

Dale would love for you to share her writing journey with her at: Author Site: Blog: Write and Read with Dale Goodreads page:



WS_thumbnailI’d heard of tag teams in racing but I’d never heard of being tagged to take part in an author blog hop – until my writing colleague Pauline Montagna told me about an informal program called The Next Best Thing, for writers to promote their upcoming book. The idea is for authors to invite other authors to follow them from blog to blog. It sounded like a lot of fun so I decided to take part. Pauline posted her blog on January 9, 2013 – check it out to find out about her Next Best Thing.


Ken Sheerin, one of the members of her tag team, tagged me, so now it’s my turn to reveal a few details about my next book.

First, a little about Ken…

Ken grew up on the outskirts of Geelong in the post WWII era. His early years were spent travelling around the Australian countryside, working in places as diverse as wool sheds, meat works, car factories, fishing boats and mines of WA. He also spent some years in the RAN. Ken draws on his early experiences when writing which, coupled with a fertile imagination and library filled with facts and figures, fuel his short stories of which he has many. Now he has graduated to fantasy and sci-fi and the much shorter verse, ballads and prose poetry. As well as Young Adult science fiction, Ken has published Against all Odds, a book of verse. To find ’s out about Ken’s latest book visit

And now for news about my next publication…

1)      What is the working title of your next book?


2)      Where did the idea come from for the book?

I thought it would be funny if a couple of inept crooks tried to steal a Lotto winner’s cat and were foiled by her menagerie of pets.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a short illustrated chapter book for children aged seven to nine years.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Animation would suit Catnapped! perfectly…something in the style of Toy Story or Ratatouille. I’d cast Drew Barrymore as the voice of Cass.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Mrs Horgan wins Lotto and her menagerie of pets foils an attempt by two bumbling burglars to steal Oscar the cat and hold him to ransom.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Catnapped! has been accepted by an American publisher and is presently in production.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’ve been writing for many years and often return to early manuscripts to revise them from a fresh perspective for a different market. Catnapped! started out as a picture book text for junior primary-age independent readers. Some years later I turned it into a short story to submit to magazines. Neither version sold so I put them both aside and turned my attention to other story ideas. In 2005 I adapted a picture book text called Getting Rid of Wrinkles into a short chapter book and it immediately sold. I decided Catnapped! might suit that genre too, so gave it a similar treatment.  So much time has passed since I wrote the initial picture book draft that it’s hard to remember how long it took. Usually I work out the story mentally before I commit any words to paper so by the time I get to the writing it might only take 20 minutes. There’s a lot of polishing after that, though, even for a 100-word picture book. Catnapped! was long for a picture book to start with and when I decided to turn it into a chapter book I had to think about character development from a different perspective.

8)What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Probably some of the Blake Education Gigglers Series, because it’s a bit of a wacky tale.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The real Oscar belonged to friends of ours, who had adopted him from the Cat Haven. He was an enormous, marmalade-coloured creature that did little else but snooze and eat all day. I’ve always loved cats and Oscar was such a personality I briefly considered stealing him myself. Instead I created a story around him.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The way a house full of pets managed to foil a catnap attempt is sure to make young readers giggle.

My Blog Hop Tag Team

Read about The Next Big Thing my Tag Team are working on in their answers to these questions on their own blogs. Why not visit their websites to find out who they are and what they write…

Rosanne Dingli

Dale Harcombe


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