My Writing and Illustrating Friends

You don't meet too many other writers while you sit at home tapping away at your keyboard for most of the day. Some I catch up with at meetings, talks, and festivals, but I am privileged to be part of networks of talented writers and illustrators from all over the world who enjoy emailing each other. We encourage each other, celebrate successes with cyber-champagne or a good red wine, share in rejection blues and encourage each other, critique each other's work and try to offer helpful suggestions, share publishing industry news …and lots of laughs.

Some people in my network have had more than 50 books published, while others are still working on lengthy novels or waiting at the mailbox for their first contract.

If you're interested in writing, you just have to visit Marg McAlister's websites. I suggest you start at www.writing4success.com and follow the links to her other sites for incredibly useful free tipsheets, an excellent ezine / newsletter for writers called Writing For Success, and heaps more. Over the years Marg has been an inspiring tutor and mentor to me - and is now a great friend.

Like many of us, Melinda Hutchings writes all kinds of things, but her remarkable books and www.bodycage.com site on recovering from Anorexia and other eating disorders have helped thousands of people - sufferers, their families and friends, and those who just want to find out about and understand these problems.

When I attended printmaking workshops in the UK I met Brigid Marlin and we ended up holding some joint exhibitions. Her etchings and egg-tempera paintings have to be seen to be believed, and at www.brigidmarlin.com you'll find lots of mind-blowing examples of her work and instructions for trying her painting technique yourself.

Julie (Julie P. Laing) likes to write books with a touch of history. Her latest is a fictional account of the life of Australian bushranger 'Captain Thunderbolt'. Her other "Read into History" books include 'A Roman Tale of 123BC' and 'Alex in Alexandria'.

I'm so thrilled that Gail Breese has managed to squeeze in illustrating my picturebook, 'Kangaroo's Visitor Gets A Surprise'. She's just so talented - not only as a professional illustrator and graphic artist, but as a writer too, and has had a number of her own stories published. Her site is www.creakyg.com .

I met P.J. Masi through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Coalhurst, Alberta, and keeps me up to date with what's happening in Canada. I think we share the plan that by working on children's books we will never have to grow up. P.J.'s an illustrator with a wonderful imagination, and you can see some of her work and books at http://groups.msn.com/pjsportfolio .

Sue Lawson worked in a variety of jobs, including primary school teacher and radio announcer with the ABC and commercial stations before discovering a passion for writing. Her books include 'My Gran's Different', which is a picture book illustrated by Caroline Magerl, and popular children's novels 'Dragon's Tear', 'Ferret Boy' and 'Tessa', which I believe are all published by Lothian. When she's not writing she's leading writing workshops for children or adults.

This is Helen Evans, a storyteller and a writer, with her donkeys. Her weekly story sessions at child-care centres in Armidale, NSW, are similar to 'Play School', and are a great hit with pre-schoolers. Helen makes tactile picture story books and three of these will soon be available from Writers Exchange E-Publishing. Loranda Publications will publish 'Watch Out for Bunyips' this year, which is a story for 9-12 year olds about life in a small town where land rights and reconciliation are an issue. Helen can be contacted at helen_stories@yahoo.com.au .