If I could choose my own name …

Who am I?

Years ago there was a profile feature on Facebook where you could add a little quote or sentence of your choosing. I had no idea what to put there but wanted something that ‘felt’ like me. At the time I was addicted to a band called Bayside and their album The Walking Wounded, but ultimately, it was my husband who suggested these lyrics from the Bayside song ‘I and I’:

If I could choose my own name
I’d choose something that’s bold and fits
Like anger, aggression or cunningly brash
By the skin of my teeth but with timing and…


There’s one thing you can always tap into

Photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash

Feeling like I wasn’t an expert in anything or that I wasn’t good enough was what held me back from writing. I’d start to write on a topic but then question what I really had to offer that hadn’t already been said before — and by people who knew way more than me.

The truth is, there will always be lots of people who have more experience than me on almost any given topic.

Almost.

There’s one topic I know more about than anyone else, and that is myself.

My experiences and my life are unique. It’s not like I…


You can ruin someone’s day in a matter of seconds. Yesterday I took my one-year-old to have his vaccinations. I had my four-year-old with me too who was very sweet when her baby brother was bawling his eyes out at the shock of having been stung by a needle three times — she did her ‘crab dance’ and fetched his Peter Rabbit to make him feel better.

Afterwards, when we got out to the car, I popped my daughter in first and buckled her in because she has trouble staying still, which worries me in a car park. …


A valuable tool for all kinds of writers

Screenshot of style sheet template. Supplied by author.

What the heck is a style sheet?

A style sheet is a document created for a writing project (or sometimes multiple if you’re using it for things like blog posts and articles that you want to keep consistent) that outlines specific preferences in regards to things like spelling and punctuation as well as noting information like character names, locations, buildings.

Have you ever started editing a piece of your writing only to find that you’ve used ‘ok’, ‘okay’, and ‘OK’ throughout and you have no idea which one to go with? A style sheet is where you can note down these preferences that aren’t necessarily correct or…


A MG spec-fic adventure featuring crocodiles, sharks, and more

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

I stumbled across author Bren MacDibble via the So You Want to Be a Writer podcast (episode 272). I was immediately taken with MacDibble’s casual, laidback attitude — she sent out two different novels (one YA, one MG) on the same day (one to the Ampersand Prize and one to Allen & Unwin’s Friday Pitch) and ended up with publishing deals for both.

‘I was just on a crazy day where I just sent anything off that day. Apparently that works!’ — Bren MacDibble

MacDibble also talked about how her house burnt down during the editing process for those two…


Short Fiction

A Furious Fiction Story

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Three dollars for a single rose. Better than the thirty-five I was gonna spend on one at the plaza florist. The kid in line in front of me kept glancing over his shoulder and wiping his palms on his pants. I know how you feel, I wanted to say. But I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself. Curious eyes were already making it clear I didn’t belong here.

When it was my turn, I handed over a fiver to one of the kids behind the desk. ‘Keep the change,’ I said. I could tell they were suspicious…


I used to do that too, Erica!

I had this beautiful colouring book just sitting there because I didn't want to stuff up any of the illustrations. I finally ended up just going with it and forcing myself not to think about what colour would look best and what would match the rest. I pick a totally different colour for each little part and it becomes some kind of fabulous rainbow – not perfect and not like how it's probably 'supposed' to look but I'm getting better at just going with it.

I've also been sketching by copying from a…


Our household is emerging from two weeks of my four-year-old having almost daily meltdowns and defying every single thing we say. It all came to a head on Saturday night when I felt on the verge of roaring in my daughter’s face like a wild beast. I removed myself from the situation so that that didn’t happen (although I did yell at her on a previous occasion), but it all felt awful. I was tired and done with the lot of it.

The following day I bought the book How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A survival guide…


Here’s why I’m not going to punish my daughter for using swear words

Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence on Unsplash

My 10-month-old was crawl-stomping (he’s kinda aggressive when he wants to get somewhere fast) into the bathroom just as my daughter had emerged from the bath.

‘Fuck the hell!’ she said (translation: fucking hell).

I mean, she gets that kind of response from her parents who are always saying ‘oh gawd, here comes the little beast!’ or ‘arghh, here he comes!’ because he charges in, wrecks everything, then leaves to do the same somewhere else. Not that we usually use a swear word in that instance, but she captured the sentiment, I suppose!

Plus, I don’t usually say ‘fucking hell’…


And accepting all the things left unsaid

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

It’s been two years since the day I was told my father had died. And I still have questions. So many questions that I’ll never have definite answers to. And this time of year has brought them all back up again.

What exactly happened?

Did he know he was unwell?

How did he die?

Why did he die?

I flashback to that day. Sitting on a chair outside in the stinking Australian heat of summer watching my little one and her daddy splash and play in a blow-up pool. I’m sure I looked still and calm. …

Melissa-Jane Nguyen

Writer and editor. Writing about parenting, writing and life. Working on YA novel. Tea drinker. Book lover. Wife. Mother. https://melissajane.substack.com/

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