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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Maverick and Ralph…and Kellie Byrnes

I’m out and about with Russ the Bus, which is uber-exciting! I’m missing my own pooch, so it’s a perfect time to cue a huge round of barking to welcome back…

Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!!!

Today’s hounds are Maverick (the sook) and Ralph (AKA Destructo), assistants to Australian picture book author Kellie Byrnes.

Me and the boys.jpgAbout Maverick and Ralph

Age:  Maverick just turned 11 years and Ralph is almost 9.

Breed (or best guess): Maverick is a Border Collie x Heeler (with a mixture of other things thrown in, particularly Huntaway, Kellie thinks).

Ralph is a Kelpie x Blue Heeler (with perhaps some Belgian Shepherd in the mix, Kellie thinks, based on his big thick lion’s mane!).

Assistant to: Author Kellie Byrnes.

cloud+conductor+small.jpgKellie Byrnes is a children’s author, freelance writer, blogger, book reviewer and presenter. Her debut picture book, Cloud Conductor, was released in May 2018, and her next picture book, Yes! No. will be published in late 2019. Kellie also writes early readers and junior fiction novels, and is slowly working her way up to longer works!

Check her out on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Help or hindrance?

“The dogs both help and hinder me in my writing,” says Kellie.

“As for helping, I come up with most of my story ideas and plot devices when I’m out walking them (many include dogs, of course!). If I’m having a problem with a manuscript, I take the boys for a walk and have usually sorted it out by the time I get back.

“I find that having a break from work, and hanging out and playing with them, clears my head and improves my mood, too. They’re always happy and loving, and it’s impossible to be cranky or stressed when they’re around, being playful and cheeky!

“Something that’s both a help and a hindrance is when I’m working on my computer at night and they’re inside, and think I should finish. If I haven’t stopped to give them attention after a while, they take it in turns coming into the office and bumping my elbow so that I can’t type, or pushing their heads into my lap and staring at me.

“Ralph also likes to give me a bit of a soft nip on the arm if I still don’t get the hint, or he ‘talks’ to me, making short little sighing, yipping sounds which get increasingly louder over time! Maverick also does a lot of sighing, sitting right at my feet, if I don’t get up!

“All of this distraction is a help though, too, because the dogs remind me to stretch and have a break and hang out with them more.”

Fave toys and games: Maverick’s favourite toy is a ball: “Any ball,” says Kellie, “as long as someone is throwing it to him. This is his favourite game, along with being chased, and wrestling!

“And since he’s a complete sook, he will take being patted and cuddled for hours on end. He thinks he is a lap dog, even though he’s 30 kgs. He still seems like a puppy in many ways!

Ralph’s favourite game used to be chasing after balls too, but he has bad knees now, so he’s not allowed. “He adores being given toys to tear apart though,” says Kellie. “His nickname is Destructo. Thankfully he is well behaved and doesn’t try to tear apart other things in the house (god help him if he touched my books!).

“Having said that though, when I bring home stuffed toys or puppets to use at school visits, and he sees them, he does everything he can to let me know he wants them!”



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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Pip, Benji…and Meredith Costain

Pip and M.jpgWhy have one adorable dog when you can have two?

This week on Dogs of the Rich and Famous we feature Pip and Benji, beloved four-legged coworkers of Australian author Meredith Costain. Too cute!

About Pip and Benji

Names: Pip (aka Pippus Rattus) and Benji (aka Benji Basenji)

Ages:  20 months (Pip) and 2 years (Benji)

Breeds (or best guess): Kelpie/red heeler cross and kelpie/blue heeler cross.

Perfect puppy cover005.jpgAssistant to: Author Meredith Costain

Meredith writes books for children with lots of music and dogs in them. These include Musical Harriet (which was adapted for TV by the ABC and has five dogs), Dog Squad (lots of dogs), Daddies are Great (dogs on every page), CBCA Honour Book Doodledum Dancing (lots of poems about dogs) and the quirky illustrated best-selling series the Ella Diaries, and new ’sister series’ Olivia’s Secret Scribbles (both featuring the same family dog, Bob).

She lives in an old inner-city bluestone house with her partner and co-dog wrangler Paul Collins and a menagerie of pets (including cats, chooks and fish as well as dogs).

(I think it’s fair to say Meredith LOVES dogs!)(and so do I :-))

Help or hindrance? “Help,” says Meredith. “Their antics and personalities provide loads of material for my books. Every day. They also keep me moving (after hours stuck in a desk chair) by reminding me it’s ‘park time’ with gentle nudges and growly noises.”

“They are also ‘naturals’ when it comes to social media promotion.”

Fave toy: Tennis balls for rounding up in the park.

Fave game: Rounding up the chooks in the garden.


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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Carson…and Rebecca Laffar-Smith

RebeccaHoldingCarson.JPGIt’s been a busy month, with books launching and book week book weeking… And with all this exciting news, I’ve totally neglected my favourite segment: Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!!

For those playing along at home, in these posts, I feature an adorable canine creative muse. This post’s pooch is a tiny working dog that plays a huge role in the lives of his family.

Gorgeous Carson is assistant to Australian fantasy and children’s book author Rebecca Laffar-Smith, but that’s only part of his day job.

“We got Carson as a puppy two years ago with the intention of training him to be a service animal for my 14yo autistic son, Joshua,” says Rebecca.

About Carson 

Age:  2 years.

Breed (or best guess): Poodle cross Maltese (also known as a Moodle)

Assistant to: Children’s and scifi/fantasy author Rebecca Laffar-Smith.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith always yearned to explore the wonders of this world and beyond. She gave up a successful career writing about the non-fiction world in favour of fantastical creatures and the fanciful things she could create and immortalise in fiction.

Now she writes full-time while homeschooling her Autistic son, raising her creative daughter, and volunteering as an events coordinator and mentor for her writing community.

She dreams of someday running a writer’s retreat on the outskirts of Perth and writing her stories in a detached, hexagonal room with dozens of bookshelves and plenty of natural light.

Rebecca writes children’s books especially for dyslexic kids, and fantasy/scifi. Her most recent book is City of LIght, book one in the Shadows Of Nar.


Help or hindrance? “Carson sits in my lap when I’m working,” says Rebecca. “When I’m thinking or struggling with emotional scenes, he does his job as a service animal to comfort me and bring me back into the real world when I get a bit lost.”

Fave toy: “He has two favourite toys,” says Rebecca. “A fluffy, pink bunny and his brother, my mother’s Poodle-cross-Chihuahua (Choodle), Teddy.” (Sooo cute! Check out Carson and Teddy the day Rebecca and her mum picked them up.)

Fave game: “Carson loves Fetch,” says Rebecca. “We have a device that shoots a small ball across the room and he loves it, but hasn’t quite mastered putting the ball into it himself.”

Photos by: Kaylie Laffar-Smith, used with permission, all rights reserved.

You can see more of Carson and Rebecca on Twitter or check out her books for dyslexic kids or scifi/fantasy on Facebook.

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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Pepsi…and Sandi Parsons

Pepsi and Sandi Parsons.jpgToday we’re celebrating another clever canine in…Dogs of the Rich and Famous.

Today’s dog is Pepsi Parsons, Canine Story Advisor to West Australian author and proud book nerd, Sandi Parsons.

And in true Canine Story Advisor fashion, Pepsi has opted to tell her own story for us today…

Pepsi Parsons, Canine Story Advisor

When I first got this request from Cristy, I was so excited, I ran around chasing my tail for a bit. Then I read the fineprint: Cristy wanted my writer to do this interview.

But I’m rich (I have people to look after me!) and I’m waaaayyyy more famous than my writer, so I decided to take over. It’s what I do best.

pepsi-the-problem-puppy.pngBlue Heelers are working dogs, and I’m no exception. I’ve been a Canine Story Advisor for six and half years and I’m pretty good at it, even if I do say so myself.

I take research assignments very seriously. Once I ran away from home, and went on an adventure up and down the street. Then I found a bowl full of cat kibble and ate it all up. Yum! My writer yelled something fierce at me at the time, but she calmed down later and wrote all it about it in our book. It was a win for everybody.

While the research is fun and interesting, filing and editing are my least favourite jobs. Sometimes it looks like I am sleeping during the editing process, but I promise I’m busy being an excellent paperweight. The office chair spins which sort of makes up for the boring bits.

The worst thing about being a Canine Story Advisor is the puparazzi. Always with the photos!

About Pepsi

Age: 6.5

Breed (or best guess): A disgracefully behaved but sweet-natured blue heeler.

Assistant to: Sandi Parsons, author and proud book nerd.

Help or hindrance? Pepsi takes her role of Canine Story Advisor seriously, putting much thought and practice into the antics and shenanigans of her fictional counterpart.

She claims all shenanigans are purely for research purposes only, and that any Houdini-like escape attempts are not trouble, but plot points.

She’s currently giving some thought to setting the record straight and publishing her memoirs, tentatively titled Pepsi the Perfect Puppy.

Fave place: Lazing in the sun

Fave game job: Chief of Border Security for her household.

You can find Pepsi on the web and on Instagram. She has been officially acknowledged as a Canine Story Advisor on the title page of Pepsi the Problem Puppy.

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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Chloe…and Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena and Chloe.jpgWelcome back to my new favourite feature: Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!

Today’s sweet helper is Chloe, assistant to Australian author Teena Raffa-Mulligan.

“Chloe joined our family from a kennel in Victoria about 18 months ago and was so stressed by the flight she bolted the minute we opened the cage at the busy airport carpark,” says Teena.

“There could have been tragic consequences but fortunately she took refuge under one of the parked cars and after about an hour we managed to coax her out and take her home.

“It took time and patience to earn her trust and it was months before she considered every room in the house safe to enter.”

About Chloe

Age: 7 years

Breed (or best guess): Labrador (with anxiety issues and an obsession with toast)

Friends-cover-2-300x287Assistant to: Author Teena Raffa-Mulligan. Teena looks like a responsible adult —it’s a disguise. The real Teena is a kid with a sense of adventure who comes out to play when she’s writing her stories and explores the wonderland of imagination.

Teena’s publications include poems, short stories, picture books, chapter books and MG novels. She has also worked as a journalist and editor. Teena loves sharing her passion for books and writing with people of all ages and encouraging them to write their own stories.


Help or hindrance?  Hard to say….

“Recently she’s begun popping into my office occasionally to sit beside my chair while I work,” says Teena. “When she thinks her dinner is overdue, she now comes in and ‘tells’ me, pats me on the leg and nudges me until I get the message and abandon my writing.

“Someday I will have to give Choe her own story.”

Fave toy: “She has no idea what to do with a ball or stick, but will race around the backyard with the man in my life,” says Teena. “Never with me.”

Fave time: Breakfast. “We both have to be in the kitchen or she will go and hassle the latecomer out of bed,” says Teena. “If we are too slow delivering her toast treat, she ‘talks’ to us and dances about until we pop the bread in the toaster.

Find more of Chloe (and Teena): On Teena’s blogFacebook, Twitter, or sign up for Teena’s newsletter for all the latest and greatest author news.




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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Hero…and Gabrielle Wang

Welcome back to Dogs of the Rich and Famous. (Crowd goes wild :-))

Today’s canine muse is Hero, assistant to Australian author-illustrator Gabrielle Wang.

profile pic Gabrielle WangAbout Hero

Age: 6 years

Breed (or best guess): English Cocker Spaniel

Assistant to: Author-illustrator Gabrielle Wang

Gabrielle is a children’s author and illustrator. She has written 18 books. Her first book was published in 2002.

9781760146788.jpgHer latest novel is The Beast of Hushing Wood published by Penguin Books Australia. In September a new novel, Ting Ting the Ghosthunter will be released. This is the sequel to A Ghost in My Suitcasewhich won the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Long Fiction. The play of A Ghost in My Suitcase will premiere in Melbourne later on this year, then go onto the stage in Perth in 2019.   

Help or hindrance? “Hero helps my work day by reminding me to step away from the computer or drawing board and go to the park. Or just look up at the sky,” says Gabrielle.

“He is great company as the life of an author/illustrator can be a solitary one.”

Fave toy: The yellow ball

Fave game: Chasing said yellow ball (see below :-))



You can find more of Hero (and Gabrielle Wang) on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Noodle…and Meg McKinlay

Megsynoodle.jpgToday’s (arthritic and entirely gorgeous) Dog of the Rich and Famous supplies dopamine on demand and belongs to…

…International Author Of Mystery Meg McKinlay.

About Noodle

Age: 10 years

Breed (or best guess): “A spaniel/poodle cross,” says Meg, “which means she’s a spoodle but I can’t bring myself to call her that because it’s a ridiculous word, though thankfully slightly less ridiculous than cockapoo which is apparently what they’re called in the US.”

duck_cover.jpgAssistant to: Meg McKinlay, the author of fifteen books, from picture books and young adult fiction through to poetry for adults. Meg’s novel A Single Stone won the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Award and her latest titles include picture books for both older and younger readers: Once Upon A Small Rhinoceros, Drawn Onwardand Duck! 

Raised in a TV-free household, Meg was a bookish kid, in love with words and excited by dictionaries. Meg lives near the ocean in Fremantle, where she is always busy cooking up more books.

You can find Meg online at her webpageFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Help or hindrance? “Definitely helpful!” says Meg. “Examples include, but are not limited to:

i) Reminds me that I’m not an illustrator every time I try to sketch her

ii) Gets me up and moving early in the morning, which wakes up my brain cells for the day

iii) Demands to immediately be on the other side of any door which is closed to her, which gets me up and moving at regular intervals throughout the day. This sometimes feels like a hindrance as it interrupts me at the desk, but I’m someone who needs to be interrupted at the desk and reminded to move, so it’s actually excellent.

iv) Looks at me with her happy, uncomplicated face, which gives me jolts of pure dopamine – an essential drug for any writer in the weeds of the WIP.”

Fave toy: Her favourite toy is… “tennis balls of all kinds, colours, and states of dilapidation, most of which she finds just outside the tennis courts at the park where we walk and brings home to deposit in places that will cause humans to roll their ankles after stepping on them,” says Meg.

Fave game: “Her favourite game is chasing tennis balls until she drops flat from exhaustion or requires expensive veterinary intervention to reconstruct her ligaments,” says Meg, adding: “I am not even slightly joking.”


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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Hecta…and Julia Lawrinson

Hecta Annie and Julia.jpg

Dogs of the Rich and Famous is back, this time starring the carrot-loving scoundral Hecta, assistant to Julia Lawrinson, Australian author of literature for young adults.

I actually laughed out loud while reading about Hecta. All I can say is, he’s one lucky dog to have found such a loving (and understanding) home.

About Hecta

Age: 10.5 years

Breed (or best guess): Broken coat Jack Russell Terrier

beforeyouforget_final-cover-1.jpegAssistant to: Julia Lawrinson, who has written more than a dozen books for children and young adults, many of them award-winning. She writes about friendship, family and the occasional Jack Russell. She loves the ocean, reading, and the word serendipity.

Her latest book for younger readers is The Flyaway Girls (Penguin Random House 2015) and her latest young adult novel is Before You Forget (Penguin Random House 2017). You can read about her here.

Annie Lawrinson and Hecta.jpgAnd a special mention to: Annie Lawrinson, Julia’s daughter and incredible portrait artist, also puts up with Hecta and his antics and dietary choices (can they be called choices?).

Help or hindrance? “On balance I’d have to say he’s helped,” says Julia, “seeing as he has featured in my latest novel, Before You Forget, as himself.

“However, his habit of courting near-death experiences, such as escaping onto busy roads and eating whatever he can find (including thumbtacks and discarded chicken bones, requiring panicked vet visits), has shortened my life, I’m sure.”

Fave toy: “Doesn’t have one,” says Julia. “Destroys them all.”

Fave game: “Raiding the bins at the nursing home he visits each weekend,” says Julia. “And chowing down on crusts, eggshells, and whatever other delights he can find in the moments between raid and detection.”



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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Banjo…and Mark Greenwood

3.JPGWelcome back to my new favourite feature: Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!

Today’s canine muse is Banjo, assistant to Australian author Mark Greenwood.

“Banjo came into our lives after four years without a dog,” says Mark. “He arrived after a long flight from Queensland, a tiny ball of smiling fluff. And he never stopped smiling. Banjo is always happy.”


About Banjo

Age: 2 years

Breed (or best guess): Border Collie

Assistant to: Author Mark Greenwood.

Mark’s books include The Legend of Lasseter’s Reef, Moondyne Joe, Simpson and His Donkey, Jandamarra and Boomerang and Bat.

HappinessBox.jpegMark often teams with his wife, illustrator Frané Lessac, to produce books that promote an understanding of multicultural issues, such as Drummer Boy of John John, Magic Boomerang, Outback Adventure, and Our Big Island. Their other books include Ned Kelly & The Green Sash, The Mayflower, The Greatest Liar on Earth and Midnight – the story of a light horse.

Mark’s recent chapter book series delves into some of Australia’s most baffling History Mysteries. In 2018, he will celebrate the publication of a new picture book, The Happiness Box, illustrated by Andrew McLean.

Help or hindrance? “[Banjo’s] instinctive skills as an editor…took me by surprise,” Mark says.

“The first thing he did, after he sniffed his new home, was to waddle into my studio and plonk himself down on my latest manuscript.

“Then, sentence by sentence, he began to eat the sections that needed work. One day he devoured my entire story – Banjo’s way of letting me know it needed a rewrite.”

Fave toy: Justin Beaver (a soft toy) and a bouncy blue diamond.

Fave game: “Banjo never passes up a ride with the wind in his face,” says Mark. “Chasing waves make him happy. And being with Banjo makes me happy too!”

Instagram account!? That’s right. Banjo’s so hip, he’s on Instagram.


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Dogs of the Rich and Famous: Pippa…and N L King

Pippa2.jpegWelcome back to my new favourite feature: Dogs of the Rich and Famous!!

Today’s adorably photogenic furry friend is Pippa, assistant to Australian author, N L King

About Pippa

Age: 6 years

Breed (or best guess): British Labrador Retriever

Assistant to: Australian author, N L King. Nadia was born in Dublin, Ireland and is a young adult author and short story writer.

JennasTruth.jpgNadia’s first book, Jenna’s Truth, is a teen novella which tackles cyberbullying, attempted suicide, and what it means to be true to yourself. A second edition of Jenna’s Truth is published by Western Australian independent press, Serenity Press.

Kirkus Review has described the book as “a deeply affecting, valuable story and educational tool.”

Nadia is passionate about using stories to reflect a diversity of realities in order to positively impact teen lives. ​

Nadia loves to read. She is a particularly hopeless horse rider, although she enjoyed that one time she rode an ostrich. She also loves riding camels, and hopes to one day ride an elephant.

You can find Nadia on Facebook, TwitterInstagram or LinkedIn

Help or hindrance? “Pippa helps me write by dragging me away from the desk which I would happily never leave,” says Nadia. “She helps me to maintain a balanced approach to life, mainly because she requires a walk everyday. Also when things aren’t going so well, she’s a great listener and loves to cuddle me until I feel better.”

Fave toy: “Good old-fashioned sticks, which must be thrown in the river for retrieval,” says Nadia. “Pippa is happy to share her sticks with any dogs she meets along the way.”

Fave game: Anything involving food. “Eating toast in the morning, sandwiches at lunch, and helping out at dinner are her favourite pastimes,” says Nada. “She’s happy to snack all day, too. Basically, just feed her ALL the time and she’ll be happy. Consequently, she is on a 24/7 diet to keep her weight down.”