Posts tagged Sharon Holt

Fast Five with Sharon Holt

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

I was naturally good at it and I loved reading. I believe we are born with talents and gifts and that was one of mine. I am also very passionate about writing, reading and books.

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing is getting feedback that your hard work has made other people happy.

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Most things by Kate DeGoldi – at the moment, it’s The 10pm Question and The ACB with Honora Lee.

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

Everything! The friendly people, green open spaces, positive can do attitudes and easy going lifestyle.

  • What do you love most about libraries?

Everything! I would live in one if I could! My happy place is sitting among piles of picture books. (Librarians are great people too!)

Sharon Holt is the author of novels, picture books and the wonderful Te Reo Singalong series.  Her books include two of the My New Zealand Story books, No Survivers and Sabotage.

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Fast Five with Sharon Holt

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer because I absolutely loved reading books and being in libraries. I wanted to help other children find the joy that I found between the pages of so many wonderful children’s books.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

There are many great things about being a writer, but the best thing for me is when children come up and say they love a story I wrote.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

My favourite NZ book is The Terrible Q by Tanya Batt.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

The thing I love most about New Zealand is how easy it is to get to the sea. I love the feeling of looking out over the ocean and imagining what’s on the other side.

5. What book changed your life?

The book that changed my life was a picture book that I was reading at bed time to my two toddlers. I don’t know what the story was but it was probably something by Lynley Dodd. While reading it to the children, I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to be a children’s author! I was already 40 so I very quickly started writing stories and sending them to Learning Media. Before long I was a published author and I haven’t looked back since!

Sharon has been writing for 10 years and has had stories, poems, plays and articles published in the School Journal.  Her latest novels, Sabotage and No Survivors, are  in the New Zealand My Story series and tell the stories of two girls growing up in New Zealand at the time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing and the Erebus crash.  Sharon has also written her own joke book called It’s True! You can make your own jokes, because her son kept trying to make up terrible jokes.

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My Story: Sabotage by Sharon Holt.

Rowan lives with her mother, and her best friend Alex is really into Greenpeace. She begins to write to her new pen friend Lisette, who lives in France, and finds out that her brother, Rene, is coming to Auckland! When he arrives, he seems to the world a charming young man, but Rowan and Alex become suspicious when he is seen with a French lady in the street, who hands him a parcel. Soon, the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, is bombed, and a man dies. Rowan begins to wonder- did Rene do this? Was it my fault? And, if it was Rene, how am I going to stop him?
Sabotage is one of my favourite My Story books, because it sounds like a real girl, in a real background. I thought that lots of it was very sad, but that just makes it more real. I love how My Story books are always based on a certain historical event. Sabotage is about the Rainbow Warrior bombing, and No Survivors, another excellent book by Sharon Holt, is based on the Erebus crash. Knowing that it really happened makes it more interesting, and the more realistic something is, the better a picture I get in my head. That’s why I love historical fiction. Sabotage is best for both boys and girls, and I think that children aged from 9 to 14 would love it.

By Tierney, 11.

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Sabotage By Sharon Holt

When Rene, Lisette’s brother visits Rowan in Auckland, things get a bit complicated. Rowan’s friend Alex and his family are in to Greenpeace big time! One day Rowan and Alex find out that a crew member from the Greenpeace ship was killed and with the sad news was the remaining ruins of the dearly beloved ship, Rainbow Warrior. When Rowan and Alex see Rene again with an odd looking French woman, Rene pretends that he didn’t know them and just walked away with a parcel from the lady. Things get even worse than it already was, when the bombed ship was blamed on the French Secret Service. By now Rowan and Alex were feeling very suspicious. Why did Rene completely ignore them? Is Rene really everything he claims to be? Why can’t I tell you the whole story? Because you need to race off to your nearest library and get the book NOW!!!!!!!

By Anne

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Book Character Naming Competition

Hello again everyone

I have finally decided on the names for the four main characters in my next book. The characters are four children aged 10-12.

The names will be Tierney, Rhys, Rozyczka and Fabian.

The other people who entered their names in the competition will also appear in my book. They will be friends of the four main characters.

Their names are Amy, Holly, Hana, David and Saoirse.

I would like to have an adult character named Mr or Mrs Ozich – if Lucy agrees!

And there will definitely be a dog named Biggles!

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful names. I will let you know how I am going with progress on the book.

Happy June!


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Last day of the Month – sob… sob…


It’s the last day of May and that means it’s my last day as the Star Author. It feels a bit sad to be saying goodbye to all my new Christchurch library friends, but Zac says I can come back and visit with a blog post now and then so that’s wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed blogging this month and your feedback has been excellent. My last job is to choose the names for the characters in my next book. I have about 10 to choose from, which means I will have four main characters and I will definitely use the other names in the book as well. I can’t make a final decision yet, but I plan to do that later today and create a new post then. Thanks again everyone.

Talk again soon


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Instant Poems

I assume we are all getting the rain this morning. (It just became heavier when I wrote that!) I feel inspired to give you one of my poetry secrets – and rain is a good thing to write about.

I call these “Instant Poems” – because they’re quick to write and they get your brain working fast.

Line 1: (Use one of these choices…or something similar for the opening)

The rain falls…

The rain pours…

The rain comes down…

Line 2: Hint – this is where we think of something similar to the rain

Choose one of these examples, or one of your own: tears, overflowing tap, waterfall, river…

So if we choose waterfall, our first two lines could be…

The rain comes down

Like a waterfall tumbling over an invisible cliff…

Lines 3 and 4: This is where we brainstorm a waterfall (or whichever other similar thing we chose)

Waterfall brainstorm: rushing, thick, thunderous, hidden air pockets, heavy, loud, white out, never ending, incessant, persistent, wet, vertical, soaking etc

We can do anything with these words for lines 3 and 4. Here is an example of how we might use those words together

It thunders head first to its destination below,

Soaking everything in its path instantly

Line 5: This line is about you, your feelings or your wishes.

Start with: I wish, I feel, I think, I wonder, I want

Here are some possibilities:

I wish we could return to the dry sunny silence of yesterday.

I feel scared that it will never end.

I think the ground is a magnet for the rain.

I wonder if Heaven is crying.

I want to run outside and drink every drop.

Finally: here’s how our rain poem might look…

The rain comes down

Like a waterfall tumbling over an invisible cliff.

It thunders head first to its destination below,

Soaking everything in its path instantly

I think the ground is a magnet for the rain.

So, there you are. An instant poem about the rain. You can use this technique to write about anything in five lines.  I would love to read your instant poems!

Bye for now


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The True Story of Skipper the Dog

Not many people know this, but my Ready to Read books about Skipper the Dog were originally about a cat. Our cat called Moose (who’s still alive) is a big old white and ginger boy. He’s a bit slow and forgetful now, but in his younger days he was boisterous and funny – and he was definitely an ‘outside cat’. I wrote a true story about Moose the cat, called Outside Moose! and sent it to Learning Media. They loved the idea of an outside cat wanting to be an inside cat. It’s true that one rainy day we let Moose in and he created havoc in the house because he wasn’t used to being inside and was over excited. That was the background to my story.

The editor contacted me and said it was a great idea for a Ready to Read story, but they already had stories about a famous cat called Greedy Cat. She suggested we could change Moose into a dog. I was happy with that, and Moose didn’t mind at all. So the story was kept the same, but the cat called Moose was changed to a dog called Moose.  It was trialled in a black and white version in several schools, which is what happens to all Ready to Read books I believe.

The kids liked the idea for the story and they loved the dog character, but some kids were bothered that a dog would be called Moose. That doesn’t sound like a dog’s name, they said. So the editor contacted me again and said, “you know how we changed Moose the cat to Moose the dog? Now we want to change it to Skipper the dog. Is that okay with you?” I was just so pleased to have a book published that of course I said yes. The title was changed to No, Skipper! and published. I then wrote the next story about Skipper’s Happy Tail, which was also published.

I love finding out the story behind the story. I hope you do too.

Bye for now,


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Dog stories

Many of you will remember my Ready to Read stories about Skipper the Border Collie dog. I had two stories published and four rejected. The published ones were “No, Skipper” and “Skipper’s Happy Tail”. The rejected ones were about Skipper digging holes, licking people to say hello, dressing up for a competition and nearly going through the carwash on the back of the ute. Sometimes it can be hard for an author to tell why a story has been rejected. I would like to submit another Skipper story and, now that we have a dog, perhaps I will use an example of that in one of my stories.

For example, today our dog Kelsey came to our son’s soccer game. There were other dogs there who were all adult dogs and very well behaved. But our dog is a 9 month old puppy who is very excitable. So a game of soccer is quite something to her! I might write something about her funny (and annoying) antics during the game and see if it can become a new Skipper book. I wonder if any of the readers of this blog have some funny dog stories that might be good for a Skipper story. If you do, make a comment on the blog and tell us all about them.

Bye for now.


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Who wants a writing competition?

Hello again

It’s blustery in the Waikato today. Wind is my least favourite form of weather, although the word ‘blustery’ is rather nice, isn’t it? I don’t need to worry about the wind too much though, because I’m inside for most of the day. Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for longer than expected. Life became busy. Hopefully everyone had a restful and enjoyable weekend. Our soccer team won, so that’s always a bonus. One of the stories on my ‘to do’ list is a soccer story. But I’m not sure whether I’ll ever get around to writing it.

I always have a lot of projects ‘on the go’ at once, which isn’t a great way to conduct life but it seems to be my way. One of my projects is a website with writing competitions for kids. I imagine that the competitions will be for a variety of things – writing a great opening sentence, describing a tree, creating a limerick. That kind of thing. There would be opportunities to submit longer pieces as well, but I would probably start small to see how it goes. I would like to host regular writing competitions, but I’m not really sure whether that would be weekly or monthly yet.

So here’s the big question! Is it a good idea or not? Would you enter a regular writing competition for kids? Do you need prizes? Or is feedback enough? I am keen to hear your ideas on my idea.

Thanks for listening!


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Writing Secret #2

Hello from another dank and dull Waikato Wednesday!

I hope you enjoy alliteration. And I hope your Christchurch weather is brighter than mine. You may or may not have noticed that I have been blogging on the even numbered days of the month. This is partly deliberate and partly to keep me organised. However, I am off to Auckland early tomorrow morning (the 12th) for secret research mission and I won’t be near a computer with bloggability. So I’m giving you tomorrow’s writing tip today. Hopefully I’ll be back to even numbered days on the 14th. We won’t mention Friday the 13th for obvious reasons. Anyway, here’s another tip! This is actually one of my favourites because it is SO GOOD IN SO MANY WAYS!

Writing Secret 2: Read your writing out loud

You can read your writing out loud to yourself or to another person. It doesn’t matter, as long as you read it out loud. I always do this. Here are the reasons:

1. When you read your writing out loud, you hear the rhythm of your words. Rhythmic language is much more satisfying to read. If your writing sounds like it flows, great. If you stumble when you read… not so good. Try rewriting those bits so they flow more easily when you read them aloud.

2. When you read your writing out loud, you find lots of errors that you missed before. I like good spelling, punctuation and grammar but sometimes my eyes miss the errors when I’m reading silently. Reading out loud makes it harder to miss the errors. If you find some, correct them.

3. When you read your writing out loud, you can tell if it’s boring or exciting! Enough said about that.

So there are three good reasons to read your writing out loud. Hope that helps.

Until next time,


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Writing Secret #1

Hi there

In my first blog post I promised that I would reveal a few writing secrets.  Here’s the first one: Write about what you Know

This morning my daughter told me about a writing assignment she has to do at school today. She has an idea for a story, but wasn’t sure how to stretch the idea out. I told her one of my writing secrets… write about things that you have really done, felt and experienced. So if you want to write about a farm, think back to a farm you visited. Remember the smells, sounds, sights and thoughts you had that day. You can put several ideas together from different farm visits too. The key is to make your writing seem “real” to the reader. If you haven’t been to a farm – ever – then it’s pretty hard to write about it. Seeing something on television or in a picture helps a bit, but your writing isn’t quite the same as the writing of someone who has really experienced a visit to a farm. It’s the real life experiences you write about that make your reader want to keep reading.

For example, in my book called “No Survivors”, I wrote about the main character being bullied at the bike shed for the diary entry on Tuesday 4 September. If you get a chance to read that bit, you’ll understand what I mean. There is no way I could have written that if it hadn’t really happened to me. Your writing doesn’t have to be totally about things you have really done and seen. However, if you add plenty of “real” stuff from your own experience, it will be much more interesting to the reader. Hope that helps!


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Yay for Mothers!

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mothers out there. I’m a great fan of correct punctuation but I’m never entirely sure where to put the apostrophe in Mothers’ Day. I put it at the end because it’s a day for mothers. Hopefully that’s the right way.

Today I thought I would also let you know about a word game that I started a few years ago. It’s got its own blog called If you go to the website you will see how to play, but here’s the rules in a nutshell. Every few days I put up a new word. It’s a real dictionary word, but it’s not a very common one. The point of the game is to make up wild and wonderful meanings for the word. Don’t look up the real meaning of the word – it can stop the creative flow. I add the real meaning when I choose a new word. So, if you like word games and you’re a little bit crazy and inventive, have a look at that website and have a go at inventing a meaning for the word that’s up there at the moment – cromlech!

Last but not least, don’t forget to suggest the name of a character for my next book! I have one entry so far. But there are four main characters, so there’s still room for your name to be a winner.

Enjoy the weekend.


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Would you like to be a character in my next book?

Happy Friday to you all!

I know you’ll be looking forward to the weekend, with all that time to read, play sport, help with the dishes and do your homework! And don’t forget that Sunday is a very special day for mothers…

I mentioned Brian Falkner in my last blog post. Last night I was remembering the day I worked with him at Taupo Intermediate. That’s when I found out that the characters in his books are the names of real kids he has met during his school tours. He has competitions and the winners get to have their names in his books. How cool is that? I’m sure Brian won’t mind if I use a similar tactic! Here’s my cunning plan…

I am cooking up a series of books in my head. At the moment it’s a bit of stew, or a slow cooking casserole you might say. All the bits are still coming together at a low temperature until the flavour is just right. I can’t tell you the idea at the moment, because it would be commercially sensitive. If you don’t know what that means – ask your teacher or parents. Anyway, I’ve been tossing around a few character names and then I came up with this stupendously fantastical idea! Copy off Brian!

You could become a character in my next book!

So here’s the thing – you use this blog to add a comment telling me in a few sentences why your first name should be used as the character in my next book (hopefully book 1 in a series for kids aged about 8-11 years old). If you don’t like your name, you could suggest another name and give the reasons why one of my characters should be called that. I will have four kid characters – two boys and two girls. There will be other characters too, so there’s plenty of opportunity for yours to be chosen. But you have to have a good reason! You have the whole of May to enter, by adding a comment to my Star Author blog posts. I’ll let you know at the end which ones I’ve chosen.

Bye for now.


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History Challenge and NZ authors

Hello again

How are you going with the history reading challenge this week? Sometimes history can sound dry and boring but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a matter of choosing the right book for you. That’s why I love the books in the My Story series – they’re a mixture of history and adventure. Another great one in that series is by David Hill, an excellent NZ author. It’s called Journey to Tangiwai and I can thoroughly recommend it. I heard David Hill speak at a writers’ conference a few weeks ago. He’s very funny and has lots of interesting tales to tell about his life as an author.

I love meeting other authors and hearing about their lives. One of my favourites is another NZ author, Brian Falkner. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, you won’t regret it. He is fascinating and very funny. There are so many talented NZ authors out there. I wonder how many of them you have met and listened to. Margaret Mahy? Joy Cowley? Lynley Dodd? Kate De Goldi? Fleur Beale? I’d love to hear about the authors you’ve met. You can put a comment on the blog just below this post and let me know.

Bye for now.


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Hello from the Waikato

It’s great to be your Star Author this month. I’m writing this blog from Hamilton where I live with my family (husband and two kids aged 13 and 14). I have lots of things planned for the blog – including competitions, writing tips and some of my “secrets of a published author”.

First – a bit about my books. When you were 5 or 6 you might have read my books about a dog called Skipper. The books are called “No Skipper” and “Skipper’s Happy Tail”. Children always ask me if we really have a dog called Skipper and the answer has always been “no”. But now I can answer a big waggy-tail “yes” to that question. We now have an 8 month old kelpie-labrador cross called Kelsey. She’s just as playful as Skipper and has a very happy tail. We also have two cats – Moose and Dora. The Skipper books were originally about our cat called Moose. But the editor at Learning Media wanted a book about a dog instead. So Moose the cat became Skipper the dog and the rest is history.

Speaking of history, it’s great that you’re reading some historical books this week. Perhaps you have read some of the books in Scholastic’s My Story series. They are really interesting, easy to read and all about stuff that has actually happened in New Zealand. I wrote one about the Rainbow Warrior bombing called Sabotage! It’s a mystery story. Then a couple of years later I wrote another one called No Survivors about the Erebus tragedy. They were both really hard work and involved heaps of research – but the challenge was worth it. My daughter Sophie is the cover model on No Survivors.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has read and enjoyed any of the books in the My Story series. I loved the one about the Wahine sinking called Abandon Ship. If you want to read an awesome historical book, choose any book in the My Story series. I recommend them.

That’s all for now.

Bye, Sharon

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Check out our May Star Author – Sharon Holt

Our Star Author for May is New Zealand author, Sharon Holt.  Sharon has been writing for 10 years and has had stories, poems, plays and articles published in the School Journal.  Her latest novels, Sabotage and No Survivors, are  in the New Zealand My Story series and tell the stories of two girls growing up in New Zealand at the time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing and the Erebus crash.  Sharon has also written her own joke book called It’s True! You can make your own jokes, because her son kept trying to make up terrible jokes.

Whether you’re interested in history or love to tell jokes, make sure you read Sharon Holt’s Star Author posts.

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