Category Archives: Life/Family/Friends

Dolls And Trees

I had a conversation recently with someone about being called a tomboy during childhood. When I was a child, most people thought only boys liked to climb trees, play with cars in the sandpit and ride around for hours at a time on a bicycle. I was only considered a bit of a tomboy though because I also enjoyed playing with dolls.

What many didn’t realise was the dolls were characters in the stories I created, some of my stories lived out through their actions and adventures. I would create elaborate stories and events for them, telling the stories with the help of my dolls and various other props. Mysteries, adventures, horrors and actions. Some were contemporary, others were sci-fi or fantasy, with mythical creatures and strange worlds.

Some of the stories I created with my dolls were written down, many of them weren’t, the tales now lost to the past. But the fun I had and the enjoyment of using them to create stories lives on in my memories. And quite possibly in the memories of those I dragged into my ‘story games’, keeping them entertained too.

So while many thought I was playing dolls, as was expected of little girls when I was growing up, I was actually creating worlds and telling stories with a large cast of ‘actors’ in the form of my dolls. Doing what I enjoyed doing, with the tools I had at hand, regardless of what the expectations were for me.

Family Stories

As a child, I loved hearing stories about the lives of those around me. Especially family members like grandparents and parents. I always asked millions of questions, and not everyone was willing to answer every one of them. Sometimes the stories about a particular person came from them and sometimes it came from those who knew them. Most of the times, it was a combination.

Often, when I asked my dad about his childhood, he’d ask, “Why do you want to know about that?” My reply was sometimes as simple as ‘because’ and other times a lengthy and rambling mixture of answers. Many of the stories I learned about my dad were told to me by others, such as his parents.

Nana would talk about how she and Da had given up expecting to have a child and they had my dad when they were a lot older. Which meant Dad was raised by parents who were much older than those of his friends. Nana was rather old-fashioned in her views and very strict while Da was easy going and loved a good joke and to spend time with his mates. Both of them told me stories about Dad and I learned that he once loved to draw and that he learned how to play the piano and was in plays. Nana was always so proud of how well he played the piano and the awards he had won. Yet when I was a child, he never played the piano and when I asked him about it, he told me how much he’d hated learning when he would have preferred to be doing other things.

When I asked Dad about the drawings he’d done as a child, he mentioned how much he’d enjoyed drawing, but his mother had told him to set them aside and focus on skills that would earn him an income later in life. To get an apprenticeship rather than waste time with his art. Nana also told me similar things when the subject came up.

Da told me about fishing and camping trips and all night long poker games. He talked about friends and the fun they had together. Nana talked about the outfits she made for Dad and how well dressed he’d been. Nana was a seamstress and Da was a tailor, making wedding outfits, formal wear and other garments for their clients. Dad told me how he hated the clothes he was made to wear, suits that set him apart from his peers. I found it fascinating seeing the two different perspectives of the same events.

Most of the time, the stories I heard from my dad about his childhood were when we were doing things he’d also done. Such as when he took us fishing. Little bits of memories would be mentioned about when he went fishing as a child. Sometimes on his own, down at the Causeway in Townsville where he was raised, and sometimes with his own father or other family members.

I loved those fishing trips. More so when Dad and Da both took me fishing. And it wasn’t because we were fishing. I’m not much into fishing. It always takes so long to catch them and then you have to clean them before you can cook and eat them. I do like eating fresh fish though.

No, the parts I loved the most about fishing trips were the stories. When those around me reminisced about other fishing trips. When they talked about the people they knew, the great catches and the best places to catch fish or throw a cast net to catch prawns. Those stories would lead to other ones. Stories about life in general.

Dad also talked about having his left hand tied behind his back at school so he couldn’t use it to write. And being hit with a ruler when he used his left hand. Till the day he died, Dad remained left-handed, the nuns at his school failing to force him to stop using his left hand.

The one thing that always stood out about my dad was that he often went his own way. He didn’t make a big fuss about it. He quietly headed in the direction he decided on, whether through his own choices or by taking the advice of those around him, such as with his mum telling him to get an apprenticeship. Which he did, becoming an electrician and working as one throughout his life.

I love stories. All types of stories. Fiction, nonfiction, memoir. All stories. To me, they’re fascinating. More so when they’re about the people in my life that I care about. I love learning more about those around me. Little bits of their past that gives me a greater understanding of who they are and what they have experienced during their life.

Those memories I have of my dad, the ones he shared with me and the ones others told me, are precious. They keep him alive in my memories, even though he is no longer with us. They give me something to pass along to my children about their granddad and they help me smile when I think about him. There might be a touch of sorrow in the smile, but there is also a lot of joy from the memories I cherish and the stories I gathered back when I was a child.

Old Manuscripts

Recently I had to move some filing cabinets due to cleaning up from a flood we had this year. Which meant the contents of the filing cabinets needed to be taken out, since each drawer was filled to bursting. I couldn’t resist perusing some of what I took out. They were old manuscripts, some going back decades. Luckily, none of them were damaged, which although I have digital copies, it still would have been heartbreaking to lose the early copies of the older manuscripts.

It took quite a while to empty the filing cabinets. There were towers of paper and I struggled to find space to stack everything. Seeing them out like that was a little overwhelming. It didn’t seem possible there were so many. Sometimes, when you’ve been working at something for such a long time, you don’t always realise exactly how much you’ve done. Logically, I know how many I’ve written, but seeing them all piled up like that, rather than just thinking of them as a single number, gave me a different perspective of exactly how much I’ve written over the decades.

It also had me reminiscing about the moment I realised I wanted to be an author. Since I was too young to attend school, it often feels like there was never a time when I haven’t written. But there was. Many years ago. I’m grateful I figured out so young what I wanted to be. And I’m glad I never run out of ideas to write about.

So, no matter what you’re working on, take a moment every now and again to step back and survey what you’ve accomplished. Like me, you might surprise yourself with exactly how much you’ve done.

Bring On 2022

As I’ve looked back over not only this year, but the past decade, it would be easy to allow myself to become disappointed with all that is happening in the world. With the uncertainty of the future, and the difficulty of being able to spend time with those I care about, this year has certainly had its challenges. Instead, I think about all the little moments I’ve shared with those in my life. It hasn’t been a year of big events, and nor was the previous year, but the year has contained memories I’ll cherish and look back on in the future with a nostalgic smile. And all those moments that mean the most to me, from this year, were spent with those I love. With my family.

Hopefully, you have moments from this year that you cherish too. Moments that mean a lot to you, no matter how big or small they are. Ones that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Lore Books

One of the things I’m really enjoying about writing the Guardians Of The Round Table series is creating lore books. While working on the eighth book in the series, we encountered another point where a lore book was needed. It’s always so much fun creating them. The ideas come fast and we discuss and joke about the possibilities, scribbling them all down, even the far-fetched, as you never know where each idea might lead.

Creating the lore book during the story can sometimes add to the story or even change the direction the story is heading. It’s also a way to cement the ideas about that particular piece of lore and give readers something extra if they’re interested in knowing more about the world of Inadon. I love background information and discovering more about the worlds I immerse myself in. Both my worlds and those of others. I know not everyone enjoys that. They just want the story. By putting that extra information into a lore book, it’s available for those interested while those who aren’t can focus instead on reading the series.

I also have very fond memories of discovering lore books in games and reading them. As well as collecting them. Discovering little pieces of information and learning more about different parts of the world fascinates me. But then, I’ve always loved learning more about things. Hence the reason I ask so many questions. I’m sure anyone who knows me in person is nodding their head and strongly agreeing with that comment. Very strongly agreeing!

Photos And Stories

My grandma on her family farm. Horses were Prince and Darky, North Queensland, Australia.

I was looking through old family photos recently, regularly smiling and at times laughing as they brought back memories of the stories that went with them. And it’s not just the photos from my life, but ones from before I was born, that also contain stories I know well.

I recall, as a child, sitting beside grandparents and looking through old albums, turning the pages and stopping to study the images, the scent of old paper lingering in the air. Sometimes we’d sit at the kitchen table, light from the window falling across the pages. At other times, we’d be in the lounge room, me perched on the arm of the armchair while the album rested open on my grandparents’ lap. It also wasn’t any one of my grandparents in particular who looked at photos with me. I’m afraid I pestered all of them. Mostly though, it was Grandma or Nana who spent time looking through old photos with me, some of which I’ve inherited over the years.

My dad and his mother dressed up for the Townsville Show, Queensland, Australia.

As the pages were turned, I’d point to a picture and ask about the people, wanting to know who they were and what they were doing. Those explanations always contained stories. Either about the actual photo or about the people in the photo. Sometimes both. I always found it fascinating, those glimpses into lives that had begun way before mine. And the stories led into other ones. Either about those in the picture or about those related to the ones in the picture, the conversation rambling through memories of times that, although well in the past, were still remembered.

Looking at old family photos reminds me not only of those in them, but of those who shared the stories with me. In some cases telling me stories of people I’d never met, people who were gone long before I’d been born. Yet those people, even the ones I’d never met, are still remembered, stories of their lives entwined with mine and those who also know their stories about who they once were and what they’d once done. Their lives living on in memories and the words of others.


We welcomed a second puppy into our family at the start of February, and Ace has been thrilled to have a new friend. Although he is rather boisterous and we have to supervise very closely to make sure he doesn’t play too rough with her.

Jasmine has quickly become part of the family, following us around like our shadows and liking to climb up on our laps whenever we sit down. She’s so sweet and loving and learns very quickly. Especially important things like giving Mistletoe plenty of space because she’s not the type of cat that tolerates dogs in her personal space. Actually, she’s not the kind of cat that tolerates anyone in her personal space. Human or animal. If she wants attention, she’ll enter your personal space and allow you to give her the attention she deserves.

Like any puppy, Jasmine is curious and loves to learn new things. Such as when you bark at frogs, if you’re really close to them, they’re noisier than a squeaky toy. But most of all, if you look mournfully at a human when they have food, they can’t resist sharing with you. She’s absolutely right. We can’t resist. Not her and not Ace. They both get a share.

We’ve certainly enjoyed having a new member in our family. Well, nearly all of us. Mistletoe gave us a look of disgust and left us to do our own hunting for a week, keeping all the mice she caught just for herself. But we’ve since been forgiven and she’s back to bringing us our regular… er… treats.

Storms And Blackouts

The past month we’ve had more than the usual amount of black outs and electrical storms. Being on a rural property, this means that not only do we not have lights and electrical items, but our pump for the water tank also doesn’t work. All this isn’t too big a drama as we have things in place to cope with the situation since it’s a regular occurrence, but it certainly reminds me of how much we rely on electricity and makes me think of all the things I’d miss if we didn’t have it.

Candles and lanterns provide enough light to work by, but they do involve more vigilance since the last thing we want is a fire in the house. So although I miss being able to have light at the flick of a switch, it’s not something I can’t manage without.

Having a pump for the water tank that provides water to the house makes for a good water flow inside, but if the house tank was on the terrace behind the house, gravity would be sufficient. So although it’s more convenient to have the pump, it is something else I could manage without if I made a few changes.

We have a gas cook top so we can always cook things in a pot or pan, but the oven itself is electric. I do miss not being able to use it when there’s a blackout, but after years of campfire cooking I can make anything in a camp oven. Including cakes, biscuits and bread. It just takes more time.

I would miss gaming consoles, but I do have board games and enjoy playing them just as much so if that was the only reason I used them, I could manage without them. But I would miss being able to spend time gaming with friends and family online. With people who live too far from me to visit. I would certainly miss that.

The other things I’d really miss are my PC, sewing machine, washing machine, fridge and freezer. The items that make life more convenient, save me a lot of time and allow me to stay connected with those who live far from me. It’s much quicker to type or dictate using my PC than it is to write by hand. My PC is also one of the ways in which I stay in contact with people online. My sewing machine also saves me time. It’s quicker to use it rather than sew by hand and I do enjoy creating and making my own clothes.

The few times I’ve been without a washing machine, I’ve really missed it with how far we live from a laundromat and having to wash all the clothes and linen by hand. It’s good to have simple, safe and easy food storage methods such as a fridge and freezer. Although there have been periods in my life when I’ve had neither. It just involves more time and effort.

So to me, electricity gives me more time to do the things I enjoy and helps me keep in touch with friends and family who live a long way from me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do as much writing, reading, gaming, spending time with my family and keeping in touch with those who don’t live nearby. It creates so much more work for me when it’s not there. I spend time carting water, writing notes down on paper that I struggle to decipher later, washing clothes by hand and so many other chores that normally only take minutes, but without electricity end up taking hours. But most of all, I miss talking to friends and family. Miss being able to message them and have a reply within seconds. Miss being able to keep in touch with those I care about and who are a part of my life. Electricity and the tools it allows me to use makes it possible for me to be close to friends and family even when they are physically far from me.

What are some of the things you’d really miss if you were without electricity and why would you miss them?

Going To The Moon

I‘m extremely lucky to be a part of the Writers on the Moon project, a rag-tag fleet of stories organised for a lunar time capsule. The project was started by Susan Kaye Quinn, a rocket scientist turned science fiction author, who invited others to join her in sending stories to the moon. It’s such an exciting project and when I heard I’d been accepted, I wanted to share my allotted space with those in my life.

Storm, Avril and Rhys

Many people say being an author can be a lonely profession and talk about the solo aspect of writing. Yes, there is much about being an author that involves long stretches of time working on your own, but there are also parts of it that involves others. Whether it’s bouncing ideas off family or friends, asking questions of people who are more knowledgeable about a particular area than me, getting feedback from beta readers, working with editors, designers and cover artists, or once upon a time going to events, I’ve found that being an author isn’t completely a solo profession.

Four generations: mother, Avril, grandmother, daughter


Avril and father, Lloyd Sabine


Jarrin, Avril and Celeste (siblings)

So as well as including some of my books, I decided to include photos of people who are a part of my life. My family and friends, including photos of the four-legged members of my family because they’re important too.


Ace (Storm’s dog) and Tino (Jarrin’s dog)Mistletoe (Head of the household)


Mika (parents’ dog) and Miss Benny (Cat’s horse)

Choosing which books to send was easy. The first four I published immediately came to mind. Demon Hunters 1: Blood Sacrifice, Elf Sight, Through Your Eyes and Dragon Lord. I also decided to include my cookbook since I do love my food. Next on my list was Tell Me A Story, Grandma. It might not have been the first story I wrote, but it certainly was one of the earlier ones and it meant so much to me as a child that my grandma shared stories of her childhood with me so I could write them down and read them over again throughout the years. My next choice was An Endless Dawn. It was chosen because it’s a story about something from space being brought to Earth. It seemed fitting as something from Earth was being sent into space. This was the same reason why I chose Compulsive Directive, a post apocalyptic sci-fi short story.

Avril Sabine and Adam Boss, Maroochydore


Rhys, Storm and Adam, Buderim


Stepfather with Ruby and Red

My final choice was Guardians Of The Round Table 1: Dexterity Fail, a young adult fantasy LitRPG. It was chosen not only because the seventh book in the series was my most recent release, but also because it’s been a series that so many close to me have been involved in. I’ve had an amazing time writing it and have spent so many hours with my sons and co-writers coming up with the next adventure for the characters. Those planning sessions are always filled with laughter and I look forward to many more such sessions. I’ve also enjoyed seeing each new cover Cat Petersen has created for it and I had an amazing time at Supanova 2018 when I took a display there for the series. Much thanks to Corey Crossley from Tokimotive who helped at that event, including being chained up in the dungeon for a photo and spending the rest of the weekend chaining attendees up so they could have their photos taken too. The series is a fantasy set in a world with game mechanics, so a dungeon like those the adventurers frequently found themselves exploring was a great choice for a display.

Corey’s vehicle


Corey, Storm and Avril at Supanova

We’ve also enjoyed sharing the series with our readers, including being able to share them with Brad and Will who are not only friends, but feel like they’re part of the family after how long we’ve known them. They were amongst the first to read Guardians Of The Round Table 1: Dexterity Fail.

Will and Ghost, Colorado
Brad Bauer and Ariana

I also added a short story by Rhys Petersen, one of my co-writers on Guardians Of The Round Table series and my son. It’s one of his early stories that he wrote on his own, when he was sixteen, using a prompt from a writing group activity.

Gary and Celeste (sister)

You might as well say that all the images I’ve included are of family members. Either those born to my family or those who’ve become a part of it over the years, becoming more than friends. From my parents and siblings who had to put up with all my reading and writing as a child and listen to some of the stories I came up with to my children and those who have come into my life over the years. People I’ve been lucky to meet. Who I’m glad to have had the opportunity to welcome into my life and to share this moment with them. This moment of going to the moon. Today it might only be stories and images, but one day, it might be people making that trip, planning what to take with them for their visit to the moon.

Jarrin (brother) and his children

What would you take with you on a trip to the moon? More than likely, just like for any trip I make, my first items I’d pack would be books.


Local Exploration

During these time when we can’t go far afield, why not explore your local region? We often put off visiting some of the places nearby, thinking we’ll have plenty of time to visit them since they’re so close to home, with years going by and those places remaining somewhere we’ll get around to seeing one day. When I travelled in a caravan, many years ago, I would often ask the locals in the places I visited, what were some of the nearby locations they planned to visit and what were some of their favourite spots. I soon noticed how many people had places they kept saying they’d get around to checking out one year. Sometimes they’d been meaning to visit those places for years and even, in some instances, decades.

I love exploring what’s around me, spending time discovering all the interesting spots when I live in an area. Even in an area I’ve lived in for over a decade, I’m still discovering new locations and things to do. Within a couple of hours in each direction of me, there are national parks, beaches, historical buildings, waterholes, lakes, gardens, scenic drives, lookouts, museums, art galleries, waterfalls and so much more. It can be interesting visiting a tourist information website for your local area and discovering things you didn’t know existed nearby. Why not play tourist in your own town or the nearby region? You can rediscover old favourites, find new ones and gain plenty of memories to look back on in years to come.

For those of you who can’t leave your homes, why not explore a map of your region and discover the places you didn’t know existed. That way, when you can get out and about again, you’ll have a list of where you wish to visit and what there is for you to explore in your region.

I’d love to hear some of the hidden gems you’ve found in your region and if at all possible, see photos of them too. I’d also love to hear your stories about those places. What you’ve discovered, what you liked about it and if it’s likely to become one of those places you’ll often return to. I think that’s what I love most about exploring. Not just seeing a new location, but discovering the stories about it, learning of the people who’ve been there and hearing about what has happened there, both the good and the bad. Stories, as always, intrigue me.