What I’ve Been Writing – and Where: 2017 in Review

2017 was the year I became a freelance writer – yes, people actually pay me to write for them!

It turns out I only write for places with a capital S in the title. Like these ones:

The Spinoff

I’ve felt really lucky to start writing for The Spinoff this year, for both the Parents and Books sections.

Here’s one I’m particularly proud of, first up, a satirical press release on MPs being mothers: A future with mothers in the house

My first piece for the Books section was a round-up of the Storylines Notable Picture Books, which became a lament about underrepresentation:

Why do so few of the best books feature girls, Māori or Pasifika characters?

Then it was my job to find some:

22 picture books that feature Pasifika or Māori children


Inside spread from The Singing Dolphin, by Mere Whaanga

Inside spread from The Singing Dolphin, by Mere Whaanga


I’ve done quite a range of things for the Parents section, edited by the marvellous Emily Writes. She’s very kindly commissioned a few specific things that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to write about, and also published some pitches from me on various topics:

There’s a God in our Christmas (to complement an article from another mother called ‘There’s no god in our Christmas’)

A kind of sprawly piece, but also one of my favourites: Think Big for Kids: 5 big ideas (and dozens of smaller ones) to protect children and support families

I’m all about saving pregnant people’s brainpower: ‘I’m going to stop you there’ and other conversational comebacks to protect your pregnant soul

In the category of golly-I-wish-we-weren’t-still-having-this-conversation-but-I-made-the-mistake-of-reading-the-comments-and-clearly-we-have-to: What’s wrong with having boys’ and girls’ toys?

I had a riot writing this feminist satire on a book that’s actually a favourite in our house: The Tiger Who Came to Tea: A true story

Illustration from The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr.

Illustration from The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr.

And an interview/book review with a creative team of mums: Little Gems.


Do you use Storypark? It’s a web platform for Early Childhood Education Centres to communicate with families – and among teachers, for planning and so on. Invented by a mother-son team from Gore, and now used around the world!


storypark logo


They have a blog attached, with articles for parents and teachers, and I’ve started writing regularly for them.

First up, the lovely editor, Sonya, asked for a piece on communicating with religious families:

Finding Common Ground

And that led to a series on communicating about values with small children:




Care for the environment

I’ve done some ‘seasonal’ articles, on Halloween and Christmas:

Putting the love into Christmas

Six lovely Christmas books

Stop the cobwebs and ghouls (at ECE centres)

And I’ve been delighted to be able to do a bunch of book lists (I DO LOVE A GOOD BOOK LIST!):

12 fabulous books featuring great dads

Six great dinosaur books for young scientists

Better Books: Do your books have characters that look like the children in your neighbourhood?

Better Books: Does your book collection encourage gender equality?


The Sapling

One of the highlights of my year has been becoming an editor (EDITOR!) for an amazing new website, The Sapling.

I was a regular reader and had written one piece for the site (on picture books featuring different kinds of families) when founding editor Jane Arthur had a baby, and now I’m filling in for her while she cuddles Baby Pete. It’s been a delight!

Some of my work highlights: casually emailing several of my literary and political heroes to see if they’ll write for us, and then working with them on their articles, like, say, THE PRIME MINISTER, Zak Waipara, Jenny Bornholdt, Nick Bollinger, Ned Barraud, and Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan.

I’ve also written a few more pieces myself, like this fun list of kiwi books (kiwi birds, that is), which my children helped with.

Two other big projects I loved working on:

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, where I worked with guest editor Nadine Millar, one of my favourite essayists, to curate a fabulous week of five features.

And Sarah Forster, the other founding editor, and I put together a list of the best books of 2017 – lots of work, and very satisfying.


The Sapling Best Picture Books 2017


I am Brilliant and Amazing, and so are you

A surprising amount of my time and energy has gone into – and come from – a set of new Facebook groups I’ve been part of setting up, named for a mantra I’ve been hoping will catch on for some time now.


the only thing briliant and amazing


A year or so ago, when my friend Miriam asked if I knew of any groups for people who were juggling writing and motherhood, and I couldn’t find one, we started our own.

BRILLIANT+AMAZING+WRITERS+MOTHERS is now an incandescent ball of love and hilarity, and the kindest place on the internet.

It spawned a fantastic four-day mothers-and-children writing retreat, and even its own website, where you can see links to our members’ writing, and a series of astonishing anonymous essays from our members.




Once the Brilliants grew to 500 members we capped it and have just started another couple of groups for any women who want a safe, supportive place to get encouragement, motivation and tips. BRILLIANT+AMAZING+CREATIVES and BRILLIANT+AMAZING+ACTIVISTS are open to new members. I also admin a group called Christian and Feminist – feel free to join us!

Christian Savings

Did you know there’s a dedicated financial institution for churches and charities in Aotearoa?

Christian Savings (formerly Baptist Savings) lends to organisations like churches, understanding that even when they have fluctuating, donation-based income, they’re still good bets.

Lucky me, I got to work with them this year on their new website, their magazine, and a few other bits and pieces. Check them out, and feel free to hire me to write for you, too! Email me at sacraparental [at] gmail [dot] com.

And, um, Sacraparental

When I first started this website, I posted about five times a week. Whoa!

That was back in the days of blog comments – remember when people used to come and chat and even make friends in our lovely comments section?

Browsing habits have changed a lot, and comments happen in social media instead, and don’t tend to generate the chat and relationship-forming that used to happen here, but that’s just the way of the online world, as connectivity and devices change and patterns shift.

Now I’m down to about once a month. There are lots of reasons, of course, but the two main ones are that a) I’m writing elsewhere too and b) I now write much more work-intensive, aiming-to-be-super-helpful-resources kind of posts, rather than shorter musings.

Such as these (click on the images to see the posts):


56+ magic phrases to end food battles with picky eaters

22 Fantastic picture books for kids who want to change the world

People keep saying 'boys won't read books about girls' - but it's just not true. | Sacraparental.com

Giving thanks or saying grace at mealtimes - sacraparental

Allergy-friendly Banana and Raspberry Ninja Loaf


One more enormous writing project: the 8000-word application for a schooling exemption for my now six-year-old son, SBJ, so he can educate himself without being in a school.

More on that another time, but this post on his self-starting environmental activism sums up a bit of who he is and why I think it’s gonna be great.


Help Unmask Palm Oil, a handy wallet-sized download to help you at the supermarket, from Auckland Zoo, illustrated by Giselle Clarkson, reproduced with kind permission.

Help Unmask Palm Oil, a handy wallet-sized download to help you at the supermarket, from Auckland Zoo, illustrated by Giselle Clarkson, reproduced with kind permission.


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