Blogstop: Donna and Helen visit Dawn Meredith’s writing corner

Well it has been a busy couple of weeks for Donna Smith and Helen Ross, celebrating the cyber launch of their co-authored picture book, A Christmas Tail published by  us at Spider Ink Press.
And the lovely  Dawn Meredith, a published children’s author, teacher and workshop leader kindly invited these two busy authors to her writing corner, as part of the launch festivities.
So grab a cuppa, and find out a little more about how A Christmas Tail came about.
Link at:


Thanks again Dawn.

Amazon 50% eBook discount ends this weekend.

Hi everyone. Apologies to talk eBook sales on a Sunday but it looks like our 50% discount on A Christmas Tail, co-authored by Donna Smith and Helen Ross, is still available on Amazon.

A Christmas Tail no white space

If you are thinking of purchasing the eBook format of our children’s picture book, I would suggest you order today.  The offer is due to finish this weekend, whereby the price will go back to $9.99.

Also, if you are thinking of purchasing the hardback version, you may wish to purchase the eBook first.  This would give you a wonderful opportunity to check out the story before your hardback purchase.

The link to the eBook and hardback formats of A Christmas Tail is  below:

Also, if you are familiar with A Christmas Tail you will know that cheesecake  treats are an all time favourite of all the characters.  I loooooove them.  So if you are in a baking mood, you may wish to try this yummy dessert – Mini cheese cake cookies.



Click here for the recipe.



A little more about A Christmas Tail co-author, Donna Smith

During our fabulous cyber launch celebration on Monday 2 December  we found out a few things that you may not have  known about the co-authors of A Christmas Tail, Donna Smith and Helen Ross.  Unfortunately, we were so busy that we had to keep the speeches fairly short. Consequently, we thought we’d invite Donna Smith back to find out a little more about her and her busy ‘writerly’ life.

So welcome again, Donna.

Donna Smith image

It is so wonderful to be back.  It has been a fabulous week.

It certainly has, and we have just loved the celebrations, interviews, cheesecakes, and activities. I know you can’t stay long but could you just tell us a little about yourself?

Of course, I’d love to.  I am an experienced academic writer (including course manuals, assessment criteria and learning modules), published author and co-author of texts on Animal Welfare topics,  blog administrator and content writer.  Also I am a published children’s author  and haiku poet. Over the past few years I have also had many children’s stories and poems published in anthologies, including children’s stories shortlisted in various competitions, including first place.  And I have also set up my own publishing company, Jelli-Beanz Publishing.

I live in Victoria with my husband and our three children.

What genres do you write in/or have written in?

I usually write in fantasy and science fiction for children.  I have also had poetry published for both adults and children. But I loved working on the picture book, A Christmas Tail, getting to know these lovable characters.

What words best describe you?

Family, family, family and grateful, grateful and grateful!

Have you any other words of advice?

Enjoy your writing and be prepared to learn patience as it is a long process.  Research, writing, editing, submitting, waiting, rejection, re-submitting etc. can take years to see a piece of work in print.

Wow! You are such a busy person, and I know this is a short visit today.  So before you go, could you kindly complete the following?

My earliest memory is running through the snow in my Auntie’s orchard.

At school I was quiet and very sporty.

When I was a child I wanted to travel to outer space and be a female version of Indianna Jones.

I relax by being with my family.

If only I could complete a novel I have been working on for four (4) years this February. It has been back and forth between Sally (children’s author and manuscript assessor, Sally Odgers) and I numerous times.  Happily though, 2014 is the year it will be completed.

In the movie of my life I’d be played by Natalie Portman perhaps. She is a fantastic actress and full of light.  She could bring any character to the screen successfully.

I’m always being asked, ‘Did you always want to be a writer?’ Yes, I remember being quite young and labelling the spine of my books so they looked just like a real library.  I would make call numbers and write my name on pieces of white paper and then sticky tape them to the spines of the book. I always loved the smell of the paper and loved flicking through the pages, even before I learnt to read.

I’m always being told – How do you fit so much into one day?  I am not sure to be honest. Just quietly between you and I, Rupert helps me a lot!

NB: If you don’t know who Rupert is, you’ll just have to read, A Christmas Tail.

Thank you so much Donna for dropping by. Is that Rupert hiding behind the curtain, trying to get your attention?

Thanks again.  It has been a pleasure. And yes, I think that is Rupert.

Well, we certainly haven’t seen the last of co-authors, Donna Smith and Helen Ross. It has been such a wonderful week.

And I smell something very yummy. Melanie Mouse (yes, you’ll have to read A Christmas Tail to find out who she is) has just made a batch of chocolate Mousse cheesecake treats.   (Mousse, not mouse. HA! Definitely not made from mice).  However, chocolate is definitely not good for cats or dogs. But please try.  And if you love the taste, the YouTube link is below.

Choc Mousse Cheesecake Bites


I hope you are all snuggled up on this chilly day, enjoying hot chocolate whilst playing our memory card game.    How many pairs did you win?  Rupert always tried to cheat!  I have another fun activity  for you, I hope you enjoy it.

Follow the link and complete the online Mouse jigsaw puzzle.

mouse stirring hot choc


A Christmas Tail memory card game…

WOW what a treat, seeing Aaron in action!

I hope Aaron enjoyed plenty of treats when he popped in today.  Thank you to all of our readers for following our cyber launch – we are having such great fun.

Please find attached A Christmas Tail memory card game.

A Christmas Tail Memory Game Cards


Print out the game card sheet twice on Christmas coloured paper, card stock or thick paper.  Then cut along the lines to make ten separate images per game sheet.  When both cards are cut up, there are twenty cards, making two sets of ten pairs.  Lay the cards out face down and the one with the most pairs at the end wins.   Enjoy!

Peter 🙂

Chatting with Aaron Pocock, illustrator of A Christmas Tail.

Today, we welcome Aaron Pocock  for a quick chat. If you dropped by our cyber book launch on Monday 2 December, you would have ‘met’ him then.

Aaron is the talented illustrator of A Christmas Tail, our published children’s picture book about a mouse family preparing for the Christmas festivities, co-authored by Donna Smith and Helen Ross.


So please welcome Aaron.

Aaron, thank you so much for dropping by.  We know you are extremely busy and have a big project on the go, so will keep this short.

No problem. It is nice to take a bit of a break.

Aaron, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born into a large family in the South of England and have been living in Brisbane, Australia, since 2000.  I have been an illustrator for 20 years or so. I draw for a living and have created work for children books, packaging design and even editorial illustrations.

As well as drawing, painting and many other pursuits that keep my mind active and nimble, I am also a musician and play a mean Blues guitar.

I am married and have two children.  I work in a big studio where I scribble away at drawings and paintings for books and things.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
As soon as I began drawing, I took to it straight away.

Creativity wise, what interested you in accepting to illustrate our children’s picture book A Christmas Tail?

The subject matter, actually. The story looked great and the characters were right up my alley.

What was your favourite character or page that you enjoyed the most, and why?

My favourite character was Santa Paws.  He was a lot of fun to work on. The page I like the most? The one where he rips his trousers always makes me happy when I look at it.

Can you briefly describe the general illustration process you use for illustrating children’s books?

Sure. I read the manuscript; then make thumbnail roughs, working out the characters as I go, or I’ll work on them separately to flesh them out. Then I draw up the accepted sketch, tightly. Then comes the inking stage, where I lay inks over the pencil drawing and scan into the PC to be coloured in photoshop.

Generally speaking, do you prefer to work with your clients on the development of a book’s characters or do you prefer to use your own inspiration?

I think give and take is the key. I’m always happy to entertain better ideas.

And where can we find out more about you?

For more information about me, just visit the following sites:;

Now for something special – Let’s watch Aaron in action, doing a quick sketch of Santa Paws, his favourite character from A Christmas Tail.

AARON IN ACTION –  Sketching Santa Paws

aaron-pocock AT WORK SMALL

Here’s the link:

Aaron Pocock

Sketching Santa Paws

Video (c) Aaron Pocock.

Thanks Aaron for doing this for us.  We really enjoyed watching you in action. 

Well, we  know your pen, ink and brushes are beckoning you.  So thank you again for dropping by. It is very much appreciated.

My pleasure. Thank you for the invitation.

As Aaron heads back, let’s have a look at a couple of Aaron’s illustrations  from A Christmas Tail.

Melanie at sewng machine

Monty at piano coloured picMore about Aaron:

Aaron was also recently featured on the following site.

It is a very interesting read. You will find out how Aaron got started in art, his training and inspiration, and what he loves about fantasy art, and lots more.  It is a very good interview.

And if you haven’t yet dropped by Monday’s official cyber launch party, please do so.  You’ll find just a little more about Aaron, as well as Donna Smith and Helen Ross.  

Just click here:


A Christmas Tail no white space


From  now until  midnight EST Friday, 6 December 2013 A Christmas Tail  is available half price for eBook purchases.

NOW $4.99 for this week only.  Normally $9.99

Click here to purchase your eBook version.

Offer available at:

Amazon and iTunes

But finishes 6 December 2013.

Would make a wonderful Christmas gift. A Christmas Tail is also available in Hardback.

Chatting with Aaron Pocock  4 December by Spider Ink Press

Zoo trip..

Peter MouseI am off to the zoo today, Yikes!!

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