Now Sponsoring “Story Dogs”, Sunshine Coast

Photo Ella and Charlie new

I am very proud to announce that I am now an official sponsor of a Story Dogs team here on the Sunshine Coast, sponsoring Ella and Charlie (pictured). Story Dogs is a registered charity that supports literacy programs in schools by sending in a volunteer human-canine partnership to help students on their paths to becoming confident, enthusiastic readers.

I first came across the concept several years ago via an American website and then looked for a similar program in Australia. I looked into volunteering with my Golden Retriever Daisy, but quickly realised Daisy was too much of a clown and I didn’t think we’d pass the behaviour test! Now, with my son starting Prep this year, I came across the program again and was truly excited to discover that I could add my name to the list of enthusiastic sponsors who help to keep this program running around the nation.

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While the sponsorship money is pooled across the country to ensure that no child misses out, the beautiful faces of my personal sponsorship are Ella and Charlie, who volunteer at St Thomas Moore primary school here on the Sunshine Coast, and I have committed to sponsoring a Story Dogs team each year that my son is in primary school.

As a former English teacher and now author, I know that reading is the keystone skill to a life of opportunity. 

You don’t have to be an official sponsor to help out too. You can donate or volunteer your time. Just visit the Story Dogs website at www.storydogs.org.au.

The Darkness in the Centre

Spotlight has just won the 2016 Academy Awards Best Picture. And I can’t help but feel grateful for the fellowship of the audience’s embrace of this film,  which covers the exposure of the cover up of abuses in the Catholic Church.

Which leads me to my newest novel… and I want to say this.

Sometimes, a good chocolate will have a dark, bitter centre, but be wrapped in enough sweetness to make the whole thing rich and enjoyable and have you going back for more. This is how I like to think of The Beekeeper’s Secret.

Obviously, I can’t tell you what the secret is. But I do want to talk a bit about the dark centre of the story. And I’m just going to say it straight: The Beekeeper’s Secret contains themes of child sex abuse in the Catholic church.

I’ve been nervous about sharing this because I didn’t want to potentially alienate my many wonderful and loyal readers of The Tea Chest and The Chocolate Promise. Because this book is a little different.

But here’s my promise to you–I have addressed the themes of abuse very carefully, with tremendous sensitivity to my reader’s. The book doesn’t hit the abuse down the centre. Instead, what interests me most are questions like,

How do these ripples of abuse and betrayal of trust resonate outwards through families, over generations (to the secondary and tertiary victims)?

What options did the ‘good’ people have at that time, when they were silenced and bullied into cover up at every turn?

What happens if a ‘good’ person, takes matters into her own hands? Are her actions valid? And how does she live with them?

These are questions that drove the plot for The Beekeeper’s Secret.

There are no graphic scenes of abuse in this book.

“…it seems strange that such an easy to read book could deal with such a serious issue but it does it well… the focus on family, friends and forgiveness makes this story very readable and an enjoyable depiction of life in modern Australia” (Sasha, on ‘The Beekeeper’s Secret’, Goodreads review)

At the heart of this story is a family that has been broken by secrets from the past and the efforts of Tansy to uncover the truth and heal the invisible wounds that have kept her mother and estranged aunt, Maria (and ex Catholic nun), apart.

This is a story of redemption, reunion, reconciliation and forgiveness.

And it’s a story of the wonder of bees.