Pictures worth thousands of words

I’m not a visual artist, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of influence I was allowed to have on my books covers (Odyssey Books has a top-notch cover game).

It’s a good thing they go through a few drafts, too.

Can you see what’s wrong with the first draft of SILVER AND STONE?

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 9.06.24 AM

Thank goodness for Chris, and for my fellow ‘Oddies’ (we Odyssey authors are constantly talking book stuff together), who noticed what I didn’t.

So that was changed.

I was SO PROUD to finally have the finished cover, and to be able to put the two covers side by side on facebook. Only to realise (due to facebook’s arbitrary cropping) that half my followers were wondering why I’d called my first book “Fart of Bras”.

Does one’s underwear usually fart? If so, why? And how?

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 3.49.37 PM

In unrelated (but still vaguely visual) news, I was amused by the juxtaposition of these two reviews on the “Choices That Matter” Google Play app. The first made me laugh out loud, and the second was just icing on the cake.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.40.32 AM

That’s an excellent screenshot summary of the review-reading experience.

There’s reviews on iOS too, but barely any (and they get deleted every time there’s an update). I gather it’s a lot easier to leave a Google Play review, since there are several new ones every day.

Louisette Interview Age Four

Based on a set of questions from Crappy Pictures, I’ve interviewed Louisette around her birthday at age two, three, and now four:


Me: What job do you want to have when you grow up?

Louisette: LOTS of jobs. I want to be a waiter….and work in a cafe. And in the cafe I will make cupcakes. And cakes. And bread.

Me: What makes you feel happy?

Louisette: Being with Dad AND TJ… and you. And I’m with you right now, so I feel happy. And I feel happy when I’m eating bacon.

Me: If you had so much money you could buy absolutely anything, what would you buy?

Louisette: The same bag as anybody in the whole world.

Me: What is the meaning of life?

Louisette: I don’t know. That’s just a silly joke. I know! That’s the question.

Me: What do you love?

Louisette: You.

Me: What makes you feel loved?

Louisette: Dad and you and TJ

Me: What are you afraid of?

Louisette: Without being with a grown up.

Me: If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

Louisette: I wish I could fly.

Me: What is the funniest word?

Louisette: Clowny bowny.

Me: What is the hardest thing to do?

Louisette: Play golf.

Me: What is the easiest thing to do?

Louisette: Ah…aha! Play with a balloon. and make this picture.

Me: What is the best thing in the world?

Louisette: You and TJ and Dad.

Me: What is the worst thing in the world?

Louisette: TJ usually snatches from me so he’s the baddest.

Me: What makes you mad?

Louisette: Someone holding on tight of me and I want to get out.

Me: What is the meaning of love?

Louisette: Bun! [Giggles]

Me: If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

Louisette: Buy a lot of things, like this (her own drawing). Well if we wanted to get a real slide then we need thousands and thousands of money to get that.


Me: What is life for?

Louisette: Are you getting sleepy?

Me: No Louisette, I just leaned my head back to hear what you’re saying  because we’re in the car. So what do you think life is for?

Louisette: For having…….life!

Me: Great answer.

Louisette: Now I’ll ask you a question.

Me: Okay.

Louisette: Why is Upside Down Town upside down?

Me: Because it’s silly.

Louisette: Why?

Me: Because silly is fun.

Louisette: Like Mr Klickety Kane?

Me: Yes! He’s VERY silly.



“Worst one I’ve played”: Reviewing the Reviewers

It’s finally happened: my first interactive (that is, Choose Your Own Adventure-ish) Australian steampunk novel is wandering unsupervised in the great big world, gathering reviews near and far (and scaring its mother half to death).
My very first review was the hilarious comment “Worst one I’ve played”, accompanied by one star. I’m genuinely delighted by such a start to proceedings, and could only be happier if a major lobby called for it to be banned.
Moments ago, the very clever and well-respected Emily Short published her review, and said, “All in all, then, this is both the biggest and the best of the Felicity Banks games I’ve tried so far; the worldbuilding is more extensive and the plot better structured.”
She also said the beginning was nicely paced while the end was rushed… which is funny since another reviewer said the beginning was boring but don’t worry because it gets better once you get into it.
People say, “Don’t read your reviews” but with material like this, how could I resist?
It’s on Amazon (after 20 reviews – positive or negative – Amazon will start promoting the book for me for free!!), Apple itunesGoogle, and Google Chrome.
Or you can play directly through the publisher’s web site, here. That’s the simplest if you’re not tech savvy (although you’ll need a credit/debit card there).

On most sites, it LOOKS like the game is free, and has in-app purchases. This is just a backwards way of saying, “You can read the first bit before you pay for the rest.” It’s a one-off $5 payment.

I’ve started up a facebook page just for this specific gamebook (discussion, reviews and steampunk/Victorian-era fun), at

And of course the Sydney Launch is at the Freecon at 11am today/Sunday (Garry’s even promised me wine, and I know there are lollies because I brought a huge pile). If you’re in Sydney, you can just show up:
O.E.S. Amenities centre, 190 William Street EARLWOOD, Clemton Park shops, next to the ‘Thai-in-a-box’ shop, about half way between the Bexley Rd. / William St. intersection and Main St., Clemton Park.
Bus routes M41, 400, 412, 423, and 473 all pass near the Freecon venue, Campsie (Bankstown Line) and Bexley North (East Hills line) stations are nearby.
I’ve been working non-stop to get the rumbling engine of promotion moving, and I now have a weird feeling that I’ve managed to start something I can’t stop. That’s the entire point of the whole thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not scary to see the train suddenly belch fire and clatter off beyond my control.
Good luck, little e-baby. I know your friends are out there.

Funny Faces

These are the photos of Louisette that I find funny – often just because of her facial expression. Only the birthday cake photo was posed – the rest just happened.

0-1 month:

img_0014No! Not without makeup on!


Ninja baby only pretends to sleep.


Fart face.


What on EARTH is that pink flailing thing, and why is it following me?!?


The eternal, “Huh?”

1-2 months:


Mmm, tasty.


Mwa haha! They’ll never catch me!


Suspicious baby.

img_0030Oh no! They’re on to me!


Okay, this one was posed (or was it?)


I respectfully disagree.

2-3 months:

img_0018And this one (the hard part is always getting the zip done up, am I right?)

img_0002_11That bag was a lifesaver while travelling (it’s designed as a stroller insert, and worked great as a handbag/cot).

img_0031I’m watching you, Mr Elephant. Don’t make any sudden moves.

img_0032Could I be any more ladylike?

img_0033Music! Flashing lights! Arg!

3-4 months:



Nom nom.


I’m so nervous chewing my nails just isn’t enough.


Holding Hands With A Boy.


I would have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for those darn kids.


A-a-almost got it. . .


Why does that giraffe have a rainbow shoved through its skull?


Flipper baby


Okay, I can explain! See there was this thing, and then I just. . .


Yo, bring me a cold one, wouldya?


First dates are always so awkward. What am I meant to say?



4-5 months:


What could possibly go wrong?


Look what I caught!


Why won’t the book open?


Darn it, I KNEW I’d forgotten something!


They grow old so fast.


Sneaking up on the enemy.


Drop bear.


I can eat the caterpillar, and my hand, and the world – simultaneously.


Sadly, her actual hair.

5-6 months:


Fascinated by her cousin.


Why do you want to eat the table, sweetheart?

Because it’s there.


Obviously hiding SOMETHING.


Kissing frogs.


Easy to hold onto, not so easy to put in her mouth.


And the feeling is mutual.


Whatever works.


Mirror, mirror – who on earth is in there?


Suspicion versus further fascination.


Dressed as the hungry caterpillar, and hungry for the hungry caterpillar book. (The combination of outfit and book was deliberate.)



6-7 months:


and three seconds earlier:

img_0001_11 img_00161

How does she already know she wants lollies? She’s not on solids yet.


Nom nom.


Saucepan!!!!! Woooohooooo!!!!!!!!!!


Thanks, poppy. I’ll be taking that now.


Would you keep down that racket?


And then the Irishman said, “I’ll be having mine with potatoes!”




Once she could crawl, it suddenly got very difficult to keep her in frame.


But I LIKE drinking this way.

img_0001 (1)


8-9 months:


Nom nom.




Hark! Is that Prince Charming, come to take me away on his white horse?


Just not that impressed.


Box!!!! Wooo!!


Mister? Mister, wake up!


Her natural hairstyle.


Being a baby takes a lot of concentration.


Nom nom.


Yes, she’s blowing a raspberry (her idea; she invented the technique without ever seeing it done). Yes, that’s a grand piano in the background.


Nom nom.


I believe I mentioned she suddenly became a great deal harder to photograph. This represents 90% of the photos I’ve taken ever since.


Nom nom.


Buddy? Are you okay up there?

9-10 months:


Punk princess.


Pushing boundaries.


Still working on that “eating” technique.


Bad hair day.

img_00042 img_00061

Yes, she’s genuinely asleep with her face on her own legs.


Eating a peg and apparently kind of angry about it.


What do you mean she’s not a chew toy? (This is after repeated attempts at sucking on her littlest cousin – not all of them unsuccessful.)


This is such a drag.


Is it coffee time or what?


Talk to the hand.


Baby death-glare.


Truth in advertising (read her shirt).


Mmm. . . coke. . .


And THIS is how I get dow—arg!


About time somebody cleaned up around here.

10-11 months:




Eeevil baby.


A little but of shush, please. I’m talking.


Ten seconds later:



Leggo of me, Poppy! I’m doing fine.


Would she gain the ability to reach the presents before Christmas? It was a close-run thing.

11-12 months:


Nome nom. a24.12.12.4

Nom nom.


Who says you need a dog to tidy up?


Marry me, Justin Bieber!!!!


I ordered my latte five minutes ago. Where IS that incompetent new assistant of mine?


Is there something on my face?


Aargg, noooo!!!


Aaaalmost there. . . .


Not happy, Jan.


Cleanliness is next to annoyingness.


I gotta drink up before they find me.


Eureka! One year old!

The Four Scariest Picture Books

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are freaking scary.

#4 “My Animals” by Xavier Denaux

Looks nice, doesn’t it? The entire book is pictures of animals, done mainly in black and white (with a feature colour here or there) and clever little holes through the pages where the eye of one animal is also the bellybutton of another. That kind of thing. It’s Louisette’s favourite book.


One tiny problem. . . things get pretty macabre pretty quickly.

ImageThat’s right: the eye of the sheep is COMING TO GET YOU.

#3 “Teddy the Policeman”

Great! A simplified way to tell kids about trusting policemen to look after them. How nice. Or not.


This policeman is prepared. But what kind of miscreant needs the automatic application of handcuffs?


That’s right kids (especially YOU, Timmy: I see that tell-tale dirt on your face). The policeman is much, much bigger than you and he’s going to take you away.

#2: God Made Me

Now THIS is obviously going to be a book about how God made you special and unique. . .

Image. . . and how he can steal your face at any time. Just because.


#1: God Made Colours

Staying on the all-powerful deity theme, another brightly-coloured offering from the Christian Bookshop.


As you can tell, Louisette loves it (either than or she is trying desperately to MAKE IT STOP). The book goes through a number of colours, then ends by bringing it all together in one picture:

ImageJust one teeny tiny question: WHY IS THE SKY BLEEDING???

It’s obviously not because the picture had too much blue – there’s barely any blue at all. It’s because God is on his way to smote all the naughty little girls and boys.

Sleep tight.