Posted in Australian fiction, Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Fremantle Press, friendship, Getting published, Kate McCaffrey, Lamont's Standing Order, Penguin Books, Saving Jazz, teacher librarians, teachers, teaching notes, Uncategorized, writing, WritingWA

Saving Jazz Book Launch


SJ banner

It was a great turn out on Tuesday night- despite the wet weather and the Census Epic Fail. About 150 guests turned up to greet Saving Jazz as she enters the world!

My thanks to Catherine Kolomyjec and her team at Sacred Heart for all their work. Peter Bothe ( and Trevor Lynch) for so graciously allowing Sacred Heart to host it. Justin Whitt for an amazing job as the official launcher. Bianca, Zoe, Anthony for their contributions on the night. All of my students who had an input and interest in the development of the novel. Fremantle Press, in particular Cate – for her ongoing support and Naama for her meticulous editing and appreciation of who Jazz is.

And Jasmine Lovely is officially here…

Justin SJ

Justin Whitt

Kris Norman SJ

Kris Williams and Norman Jorgensen

SJ launch


Posted in Australian fiction, Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Destroying Avalon, Louis Braille audio books, teacher librarians

Louis Braille Version of Destroying Avalon

When I first received the audio version of Destroying Avalon I had mixed feelings. I think mostly because I’d only ever heard myself read the text- so it was a complete jolt to hear someone els’s voice. The other thing was I’d never listened to a talking book before- so that, in itself, was a new experience for me. Having said that once I continued to listen I found myself drawn into the story (which was surprising as I knew how it went!!) and found myself becoming involved on a different level. I guess at that point I realised that though this was still my story it was now a completely different form of work. I could see the value of the different voices the reader (Kellie Jones) used and the way she drove the narrative along. Having spoken to people with vision problems, they’ve told me how much they value the reader changing the voices, it makes it so much more interesting for them listening.

I found this review of the Audio version- on the Read Plus website. Check it out. ReadPlus

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Destroying Avalon, Michael Carr-Gregg, New Idea, Real Wired Child

Destroying Avalon and New Idea

Wow- you know you’ve made it when you appear in the New Idea!

Well, not me personally but Destroying Avalon. In this week’s New Idea Rachel Friend has written an article on Cyber Kids – outlining the dangers, to parents, of unmonitored internet use. My friend Michael Carr-Gregg is the source interviewed.

He says, “If you had a seven year year old would you dump him or her in Amsterdam in the red light district?” It’s an article for parents who are unaware of what exactly goes on when their child is “studiously working for 5 hours in their bedroom”.

Michael’s book Real Wired Child and Destroying Avalon are both listed as recommended reading. Michael’s book gives parents tips on how to manage their child’s internet use and explains blogs, sms, chat rooms etc. Destroying Avalon “explores the problem of cyber bullying…written for teenagers… with strong messages for parents too.”

This week in New Idea – New Idea

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Destroying Avalon, Penguin Books, Puffin Teaching Notes, teacher librarians, teachers, teaching notes, writing

Penguin- Puffin Teaching Package Destroying Avalon as a Cyber bullying Resource

For those of you interested in teaching Destroying Avalon and have not found anything useful in  my teaching package I’d like to direct you to Penguin’s Puffin Website:

Click on Teachers- then go to Teachers’ Notes

Then go to Units for the Secondary Classroom, pull down the menu and click on Destroying Avalon.

That’s the link (kinda long and scary looking isn’t it!!) But what you will end up with is a different angle for teaching Destroying Avalon. This focuses more on the text as a tool for combating bullying than as a ‘literary analysis’ of text- so I guess it depends on your aim.

But there you go two to choose from!

Teaching packages galore!

What could be better????

Posted in awards, Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Destroying Avalon, New York Festival Awards, teachers, teaching notes, We Are Watching You

We Are Watching You wins Bronze

Annie Thomson the producer of the ABC’s Street Stories radio documentary into cyber bullying We Are Watching You just won a bronze world medal at the New York Festival Awards.

As the medal implies- it is a world wide award and in my opinion much deserved. Personally I think she should have received the gold- but hey, bronze is very impressive too!

To listen to her recording I hope the hyper link at the top of my blog still works. Otherwise visit ABC radio’s website for details. In the production Annie interviews an author of a fiction novel about cyber bullying (okay- yes it’s me), a teacher (not me), a parent of a victim, a victim and 2 bullies- caught by their school! It is a fantastic resource- for anyone teaching cyber bullying, for parent forums and general awareness into the issue.

Posted in audio books, Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Destroying Avalon, Louis Braille audio books, writing

Destroying Avalon is a Talking Book

Well, here’s more good news! I had a phone call the other day from my publisher to tell me Louis Braille Audio Books wish to turn Destroying Avalon into one!! Isn’t that exciting? It means for those who are vision impaired, or don’t like reading (the whole Year 9 cohort at my school!!!) or who are travelling long distances in the car will be able to hear the audio- unabridged version of Destroying Avalon.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like as a CD! (I’m thinking probably round and shiny- but what would I know!) My publisher said they go into production quite quickly- and they get professional actors to read the part- so don’t fear it isn’t me reading it!!!!

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Destroying Avalon, teacher librarians, teachers, teaching notes, writing

Teaching Guide for Destroying Avalon

On my website there has always been teaching notes for Destroying Avalon. These were devised when Destroying Avalon was selected by Australian Standing Order, as a book to be sent to public libraries.Today, after mucking around for hours with the upload button I’ve managed to put an entire teaching guide on this blog. It contains some of the original information but I think it has a lot more content. Especially teacher reference notes and activities presented as student briefs.

You’ll find it under Teaching Notes and Guides on the home page. Click on through to the guide. It’s yours to download and reproduce!

As an English teacher I know how much effort you have to put into devising a new package for a new novel. I hope this takes the pain out of it! Any comments or suggestions welcome!

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, Cyber Cop, Ivanhoe Grammar School, literary appearances, Michael Carr-Gregg, Susan MacLean, Uncategorized, writing

Return from Ivanhoe

No it’s not the sequel to Destroying Avalon, it’s what I’ve been up to lately. The musings have been quiet because I have been in Melbourne! Late last year as I innocently googled the title of my book (a past time all authors assure me they engage in- except the likes of JK and Stephen King!) I came across a review, on a WordPress blog. Destroying Avalon had only been released in September and this review was written in about October. Intrigued, I read it and was rewarded with praise and glowing recommendations! I returned fire (friendly of course) thanked the anonymous reviewer and addressed several of the questions that had been raised. Pressed send, end of story.

Not quite. When I came home that day there in my Inbox was a reply to my comment. The reviewer was none other than the Head of Ivanhoe Grammar in Melbourne. What developed then was months of corresponding and co-ordinating my trip as Writer-in-Residence to their school.

What a school! On my last night there I attended a Parent Forum- for the launch of Ivanhoe’s Cyber bullying policy and when I spoke I made the point that if I lived in Melbourne I’d send my kids to Ivanhoe. I sincerely mean it! Firstly, Graeme Harder- the head of Ivanhoe Plenty, is a forward thinking man, he seized on Destroying Avalon at its release and began organising cyber bullying forums and sessions immediately. To my mind this is a man with his finger on the pulse! The school is lovely, and the students brilliant.

I had sessions with each year group- engaging and polite kids. I also had a writer’s workshop with the Talented and Gifted Writers’ Group- wow, impressive people. These students are SO smart, and lovely too. We could have extended the time from two hours to four and probably would have needed more. The head of secondary Renata Rowe was a wonderful host, organising and accommodating us (my sister-agent flew over with me) and Chris Norwood (of the library) was wonderful too. It was a fantastic time.

The trip concluded with the parent forum which was lead by Adolescent Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg and Victoria’s Cyber Cop Susan MacLean. Talk about authorities on the subject. Together these two make a formidable duo- armed with all the latest imformation on cyber bullying and teenage depression. They are fantastic speakers to have in a school and also have resources to help schools tackle cyber bullying. Michael Carr Gregg’s website is certainly worth checking out.

I hope to stay in touch with the kids from Ivanhoe- via this blog (some have already commented) or through my email at One day I’d love to go back- who knows In Ecstasy is out next year- maybe then!!

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources

For the Victims of Cyber Bullies

This is in response to a comment on the post ‘Cyber Bullying is 24/7…’ The comment was that the post itself was essentially useless for people who’ve been bullied. Fair point. It is. Because as a victim you actually know how cyber bullies operate, you know what their weapons of choice are, you know how damaging the effects can be. In truth, nothing I’ve posted has been really targeting the victims of cyber bullying. ‘Tis true- not intentional, but true.

The reason for this is that my intention was to get to that point a little further down the track. But if necessity dictates, then it must be addressed immediately.

My research into cyber bullying showed me how shrouded in secrecy the whole phenomenon is. That victims of bullying, traditional- style and cyber, suffer in silence. Fear of further reprisal and lack of faith in any form of justice or help keeps their mouths shut. Their secrecy, in turn, allows bullies to continue.

My initial purpose of Destroying Avalon was to blow the whistle. It was to create a book that made people shake their heads in disbelief and say “Is that really happening?” I wanted to increase awareness about cyber bullying. I wanted teachers, parents, and decision makers to see how serious the situation is and say “What can we do it about it?” I wanted education programs in place, measures taken to reduce the ‘anonymity’ the internet provides by preventing access to sites with a web-based email account. I wanted parents to put in place tighter restrictions on their kids’ mobile phone access, I wanted to draw attention to it and work towards a solution. Because at the moment there isn’t one, this thing has the potential to explode. We are already witnessing its devastating effects,

But of course you, the victim, know all this. You know that cyber bullying is relentless, that it is 24/7, that there seems no escape from it. You want to know what to do, how to handle it, how to recover from it.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have some suggestions that might help you now, while we wait for the decision makers to create their policies and plans.

1. Speak Out: You must find someone to confide in. You cannot handle this on your own. Bullies operate because of your fear, you give them power by keeping your mouth shut. Find someone to confide in, a parent, sibling, friend, teacher- with that person you can discuss ways of handling the situation. Also just talking about it can lighten the load somewhat- knowing there is someone watching your back. You’re not alone.

If there is no one you can trust get on the internet (ironic isn’t it) and go to a web site like

They provide confidential services for situations exactly like this.

2. Do not give anyone access to your passwords or provide people you don’t trust with your phone number. Be careful which websites you post personal information on. Do not open emails or read text messages from unidentified names and numbers.

If you are in a chat room or forum and someone is sledging you do not FLAME back. Leave the room- go into another one, do not engage in their taunts.

3. If it’s too late-you’ve already done this and you’re in the middle of being cyber bullied you must save any threatening or disparaging emails, web pages or texts. You will need evidence to prove what they are doing. And rest assured the school will want it, and if it’s happening after hours (as it so often is) the police will want to see them too. Depending on the severity of the threats and the frequency of them several different punishments are in place. Schools usually look at suspension- leading to exclusion, and counselling of both victim and perpertrator. The police have the power to impose fines and jail time -depending again on circumstance.

4. Follow Up Care; When it’s over- and it will end- speak to someone (that parent, friend etc) about how you feel now. Are you still suffering the effects of it- and it can linger. If so seek professional help, counselling can work to put things back into perspective, to talk through issues that may have arisen as a result.

Finally, if this is happening to you and I’m so sorry it is, because I do know how hideous it makes a body feel, know this. It won’t go on forever. It will end. One day you will look back on this whole experience and remember how awful it was- but you will be okay. Just don’t let it continue. Take the power back. Stop them now.

Posted in Books, cyber bullying, cyber bullying resources, writing

Cyber bullying is 24/7- “We’re Watching You”

More on cyber bullying….

Early this year ABC Radio National did a ‘Street Stories’ production titled “We’re Watching You”. For those of you who’ve read Destroying Avalon you’ll know that is one of the text messages Avalon is sent. For those of you who’ve heard me publicly speak you’ll know it is also the title my publisher suggested for Destroying Avalon– back when it was A Person of Interest (that’s another post!!). Anywho- the ABC story is about cyber bullying and went to air on the 18th February 2007. It was produced by Annie Thomson and it is a fantastic resource for a discussion on cyberbullying.

I was listening to it again, I have it as a podcast- ahhh the wonders of technology (if only it was used for good- not evil) and Annie Thomson has created an amazing documentary. She interviewed me, a school teacher, a victim of cyber bullying and her mother, and two girls who were caught cyber bullying. We were all interviewed separately, and, as is the producer’s job, Annie pieced the stories together, linked with some lovely readings from Destroying Avalon.

What struck me as I listened to it was the ‘sameness’ of what we all said. Remember we were interviewed separately. But Annie used one person to lead into the next, if I stated something I’d researched, the victim of cyber bullying was later heard illustrating that point. I guess the sad thing is research reflects true stories- this kid (whose name was changed to protect her) is a living example of how damaging cyber bullying is. And coupled with that we hear the voices of the perpetrators. For me it was interesting to hear the dynamic between them. The ‘minion’ was remorseful and in a way it was heartening to hear her breakdown- she cried when she told of how she was punished for her part- mostly by the other girls at her school. She even showed evolution when she stated how she’d learnt from the experience. But the ringleader! Shudder- she was remorseless. Her attitude was still “So what?” But then underneath it you heard a very lonely and rejected kid- she made reference several times to the fact she was a boarder and ‘wasn’t close to her parents’.

I think the success of this production lay in the clever juxtapositioning of victim and bullies. Even the fact it was one against two-  symbolic of the nature of bullying. Even though these kids weren’t linked (the 2 girls weren’t this particular victim’s bullies) the similarity of their stories was chilling! To hear the voice behind nastiness and then the deeply affected voice of the victim is something I think all kids should hear.

Maybe it will teach them empathy? At the least understanding?

It’s a fantastic resource that should be used in schools.

Congratulations Annie Thomson.

(If you look in My Pages- I’ve created a page with links to this story- but I don’t know if the audio is still available via the Net. You may have to contact ABC directly. It’s worth it though, promise!!)


I was sent this address-

 try it, they seem to carry quite an archive of Street Stories- scroll down to 2/17/2007 We’re Watching You and download for your listening pleasure!!!