WIN a signed copy of THE FIRE STAR

WIN a signed copy of THE FIRE STAR

The three winners for this giveaway are Katie Trethowan (Instagram), Trudy Francis (Twitter), Jessie Boan (Facebook).

Thanks to everyone who entered! If you missed out, you can pre-order from your favourite Australian online bookseller here.


The countdown is on! With four weeks until the official release of The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery), I’m offering three signed copies to WIN.

The Fire Star is an upper middle-grade mystery/adventure novel set in a Medieval world and starring Maven, a 15-year-old maid, and Reeve, a 16-year-old squire. On one level it’s a perplexing investigation into the disappearance of a dazzling jewel, but on the other it’s a novel about secrets, friendship and rebellions, large and small. If you love mystery stories, secret societies and intrigue, this one is for you!

I’m giving away one signed copy on each of my social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

How to win a signed copy of The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery)

If you’d like to win one, all you have to do is:

Follow me on Instagram, like the competition post (online from 5pm (AEST) 3 August 2020), and tag two other people you think might be interested.


Like my Facebook page, then like and share the competition post (online from 5pm (AEST) 3 August 2020). (Let me know in the comments that you’ve shared as they are sometimes not public).


Follow me on Twitter and RT the competition post (online from 5pm (AEST) 3 August 2020).


All three. There’s a signed copy on offer for each platform and you can enter for each one if you like.

Giveaway ends at 5pm (AEST) Friday 7 August 2020, with winners announced on each platform soon after (as well as here on this post).* Good luck!

*T&Cs: This competition is not associated with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Giveaway opens at 5pm on Monday 3 August 2020. Up for grabs are three signed copies of The Fire Star by A. L. Tait, with one book as prize on each social media platform. Each prize is valued at approx $20AUD including shipping. Open to residents of Australia. Entries must follow entry directions to be eligible. Winners will be drawn after 5pm on 7 August 2020 and announced as soon as practicable after that. 

First review: The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery)

First review: The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery)

I think it’s probably fitting that the first post I’ve managed to write on my freshly redesigned site is all about the first official review for THE FIRE STAR (A Maven & Reeve Mystery), by Dani Solomon in Books + Publishing last week.

The full review is here, behind a paywall, so I’ll just share an extract, but suffice to say I was thrilled to see these words from Dani, the assistant manager of Readings Kids.

“While I will admit that it took me a while to get used to the jumps between first- and third-person perspective as the story switched between Maven’s and Reeve’s point of view, once I did, this book didn’t leave my hands.

“I’m looking forward to selling The Fire Star—this middle-grade novel is great for existing fans of A L Tait, as well as lovers of historical fiction and adventure aged nine and up.”

As I await the arrival of my first author copies, I’ve been watching as the book makes its way out into the world, popping up in the social media feeds of advance readers and reviewers, and it’s a strange and wonderful time. When you spend so much time with characters and a story, building them first in your head and then on the page, it’s a little unnerving to realise that they are now in the hands of other people. All you can do is to hope that those people will love them as much as you do.

It’s so very reassuring to read a review that suggests that at least one person does – and that they can’t wait to share your characters and story with others.

THE FIRE STAR (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) is published by Penguin Books Australia and will be available from 1 September. You can preorder your copy from your favourite online bookseller here or at your local bookshop. 

COVER REVEAL: ‘The Fire Star’, new from A.L. Tait

COVER REVEAL: ‘The Fire Star’, new from A.L. Tait

I am so very excited to share the beautiful cover of THE FIRE STAR (A Maven & Reeve Mystery), published by Penguin Books Australia on 1 September 2020.

The Fire Star, new from A.L. Tait


Step inside the castle. The mystery awaits . . .

A maid with a plan.

A squire with a secret.

A missing jewel.

A kingdom in turmoil.

Maven and Reeve have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star.

This could be a complete disaster . . . or the beginning of a great friendship.

Hasn’t the Penguin team done a wonderful job? I CANNOT WAIT for you and your young readers (12+) to meet Maven and Reeve and share their adventures.

You can pre-order through Booktopia here, through your favourite online bookseller here, or order at your local bookshop for delivery on 1 September.

Let the countdown begin!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

NEWS: New novel on the way

NEWS: New novel on the way

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Penguin Random House Australia for a new novel.

Frustratingly, that’s as much information as I can give you right now!

But I’m excited and can’t wait to share more details as they come to hand.

In other book news, today marks the fifth anniversary of the day Race To The End Of The World, the first book in The Mapmaker Chronicles series (and my debut children’s novel), was launched.

With six children’s novels now published, and a new one on the way, I can honestly say that five years has both passed in the blink of an eye – and felt like an age.

If you and/or your children have bought, borrowed, read, reviewed, talked about or otherwise engaged with any of my books over those five years, thank you for your wonderful support. It is so much appreciated.

I look forward to sharing the new book with you in due course.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


The 6 Cs of writing a novel

The 6 Cs of writing a novel

The 6 Cs of writing a novel | allisontait.comIn case you missed it, the latest round of #writeabookwithal is over and I have finished the first draft of my latest manuscript. It is, brace yourselves, the 15th first draft fiction manuscript that I have written.


Four were written before my first children’s novel (The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race To The End Of The World) was published and I doubt that we will ever see that fab four again.

Since TMC #1 came out, I have written five manuscripts that are now published novels, plus five more, including this new one. News on all of those various projects will be with you once I have it to hand.

Anyhoo, my point is that I’ve written a few now and it got me to thinking about the various ingredients that are common to all of them. So I’ve packaged them up neatly as Cs because a) it’s been a while between blog posts, b) it amused me to use a maths concept in my creative writing post and c) that’s how I roll.


I’ve put this one first because it’s hard to write a novel without an idea. Sometimes, though, I think the bigger challenge is working out which idea will sustain a novel and which is the starting point for a character (which will then be subsumed into a larger idea), which is the basis of a scene (which will then be subsumed into a larger story), and which is a short story all by itself.

The reality is that some of my many ideas are just half-formed fragments that end up in notebooks and stay there, taunting me forever.

The most difficult ideas, for me, are those that present themselves as ‘I’d like to write a book about X’, or ‘I’m going to write a mystery story’. For me, that’s not an idea, it’s a theme, or a genre.

The best and most creative ideas are specific. Often weirdly specific. And, for me, they usually present themselves as a question and a feeling.

The Mapmaker Chronicles came from that feeling you get when you look out into a clear night sky (where are the edges? what’s at the edges?) and a specific question: How did they map the world? (You can read about it here)

The Ateban Cipher novels came from the feeling I got when I looked at The Book Of Kells (I wanted to take it home) and a specific question: Why would you write a book that no-one can read? (You can read about it here)


If you have always been someone who can write – that is, sit down at school, or university, or wherever, and have words pour out onto the page when required – craft is often something that you come to later. It’s often about the time that you write the first draft of your first novel, all 70,000 words of it, and think that your work is done.

In fact, it’s the time that you submit that first draft to an agent who comes back to you with these words: “What would you like me to do with this? There’s some nice writing in here but it is in no way ready to send out.”

Or maybe that’s just me.

Valerie Khoo and I have often discussed on our podcast that you don’t know what you don’t know. I discovered this lesson the hard way when I had the above exchange with an agent. I knew I could write a sentence – hadn’t I been doing that for years as a features writer? What I didn’t know was how to write fiction. Not really.

I was lucky enough to have had a good head start, thanks to all of my years of reading and working with words. But I had a lot to learn, and that’s where craft comes in.

Structure, character development, logical plotting, pacing… Take the courses, do the reading, go to the workshops at festivals, join writers’ groups. Whatever works for you.

I’m still learning a lot the hard way, because I still write without a detailed plan. I have to write it to see what it is, which is not the most efficient way of managing a publishing career.

But at least I now know what I don’t know.


If you had told Teenage Me that I’d one day be a published author and that I’d spend half my time walking around the block trying to work through logical solutions to problems that I had created myself, Teenage Me would have laughed.

Teenage Me thought that creative writing was all about… creativity. Little did Teenage Me know (about this and so many things, right Mum?)

When I do my school visits these days, I like to talk about writing superpowers. And when I tell the ‘maths kids’ and the ‘science kids’ that they have one of the greatest writing superpowers ever, I can see their confusion.

But so much of what we do as writers is problem solving.

If this happens, what happens next?

If that happens, what happens next?

And every decision has to come back to your character, and what your character would do in that situation.

Not what you would do. What your character would do.

Not what you, as the writer, needs your character to do to fix this festering plot hole you have created. What your character would logically do.

No wonder Procrastipup and I do so much walking (which is a great way to work through logical solutions, if you’re looking for one).


Look, I wish that talking about writing got the writing done. I wish that I could tell you that your novel will write itself.

But it doesn’t, and it won’t.

If you want to write a novel, you have to commit to the process. You have to make the time. You have to write the words.

Yes, you.

It’s not easy. You’ll have to make sacrifices. You need to show up.

But that’s what it takes.

If you need some help to get the words written, you can read my blog post here, or you can take my 30-Day Creative Writing Bootcamp (10,000 words in 30 days. Yes, you).


I well remember the first time I received a structural edit (you can read about it here). I have still been known to cry. But editing – fixing (correcting) what is wrong with your manuscript – is an essential part of the process.

The trouble with a big edit is that it feels like an insurmountable problem. How can you possibly make all of these changes when every single change you make affects the entire story?

The answer, of course, is that you climb that insurmountable mountain one step at a time.

I’ve got some tips on how to edit your own writing here, and some tips from a professional editor here.


I call it courage. Others, as one person on Twitter told me in no uncertain terms [insert eyeroll emoji], call it confidence. Perhaps it’s a blend of the two.

It’s the blind faith that will carry you through the process of sitting alone in a room for the countless hours it takes to write your novel, then the countless hours of hard graft it takes to edit your novel and then, right at the very end, the sheer will it takes to press ‘send’ to either submit your work to a traditional publisher or publish your work yourself – and it is not for the faint-hearted.

Putting your thoughts on the page and then handing them over to someone else to read isn’t easy.

Dealing with rejection isn’t easy.

There are a lot of people out there who say they’re going to ‘write a novel one day’.

To me, it takes courage to try.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

And check out So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job), co-authored with Valerie Khoo and based on our top-rating podcast.

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