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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Jean Allen - ‘Bev Robitai gives Powerful Talk on Self-Publishing.’

Recently I attended the launches of two new books, Shadows of Doubt, a Regency novel by Evan Andrew and Body on the Stage, a murder mystery by Bev Robitai. Both are sequel books and carry characters over from the authors’ first books of their series. These books are well researched and make excellent reading. I congratulate these writers, not only on their writing but on their professionalism.
     Bev Robitai, as Evan’s editor, and as author of her own book, addressed these two large gatherings and gave the most positive and powerful address on self-publishing that I have heard in a very long time.  Bev is a multi-tasking phenomenon. Her business output is astonishing. She is an editor, writer of murder mysteries and photographer and this is what she had to say, with small digressions, at both launches.
 ‘This is a very exciting time to be a writer. Writers have wrestled control of their careers back from the stone-walling publishers to get their books to readers - and the world is all the richer for it. Writing a book has been likened to having a baby. In the old days of mainstream publishing, the author, feeling their time was due, waddled along to the publisher and surrendered to them. There was a quick caesarean section, then the book was sent off to boarding school and the author had little more to do with it except perhaps the occasional book signings.
Now there is self-publishing, and that’s a home birth!
The author goes through all the labour of getting the book out into the world, helped by chosen professionals who act as midwives to edit it, proofread, design the cover and set the layout. The book comes into being and is home-schooled with the author still in full control of every aspect of production, distribution and sales. It is SO much more satisfying!
And just as it takes a village to raise a child, so a book’s readers can help to propel it into the world by posting reviews, Tweeting, sharing on Facebook, or just chatting over coffee to recommend it to friends.
With the tools now available writers can produce a single copy of memoirs for the family, or try for world domination through the sale of e-books and international print on demand.’
I found Bev Robitai’s talk inspiring - and one the writing world needs at this time. I do not believe that because an era of change is difficult the end result will be bad! Rather I believe growth and adversity make for strength and quality. I for one thank Bev for her talents and foresight. I wish her all the best and I will be looking forward to hearing more of her insights on writing today. Her website is  and her Facebook page is
The Mairangi Writers Group has brought out three books in three months. They are
River River Raupo Rye  a NZ historical novel by Jean Louise Allen
Shadows of Doubt  a Regency sequel novel by Evan Andrew
Body on the Stage a NZ mystery and sequel by Bev Robitai or on

This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping you enjoy the book you are reading today. 



Friday, 25 May 2012

Jenny Harrison on after-book blues

Okay, so here’s my secret. I’m stagnating. For a writer to admit that is like a nightclub hostess admitting she’s got herpes. At the moment my writing group nom de plume “Hellfire” Harrison is more like “Embers” Harrison.

Let me tell you how I got to be “hellfire” Harrison. I’ve been writing since 1997 but in 2009 I met a very nice American lady who asked me to write the story of her parents who had been trapped in war-torn France in 1940. Those of you old enough don’t need a reminder. For those of you who don’t know anything about it, Germany invaded France in 1940. France was defeated in six weeks and suffered five horrendous years of oppression, hunger and fear.

I’ve spent nearly three years researching and writing. It’s been three fabulous, exciting years – finding out not only what happened but how ordinary people managed to live through the “dark years” in Europe.  I’ve had a wonderful, fulfilling time writing about two people who were caught up in the “worst of times”.

Now the book is finished and I’ve come to earth with a bump. Any ideas on where to go from here?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Staying Connected - Vicky Adin

Picture this. A birthday party for two littlies then seven of us at the dinner table: two grandparents; four middle generation…. and one 11-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter (she having deemed she was too old to eat with the three younger grandchildren who were now watching a movie).

In talking about the current sci-fi movie ‘sensation’ her 30-something uncle said he hadn’t enjoyed it. Her quick response was something along the lines of old people are not meant to like movies designed for young people. When the laughter died down the conversation turned to the latest boy band that had all the teenagers swooning over them (her included. When did she get to be a teenager I wonder?).  Needless to say only the 11-year-old - and maybe her mother – knew the names, hairstyles and quirks of all five of them.

I thought I was doing OK knowing which movie they were talking about – adding my piece of information to the mix that I’d been told by a young man in his early 20s that the book was much better (hooray for the book!) – and I knew the name of the boy band. I also knew there were 5 of them and that they were Irish, and the titles of their debut song and album, but the fact that I didn’t know each of their names was a total fail.

Making some comment in defence (or was that retaliation) that I couldn’t keep up the response I received from the middle generation was something along the lines of – well you should!  Stay connected was the message. The only way to reach people today was to stay connected. Whether by Facebook (I manage, just) and any or all of the other social media options available, one must be connected. Know what they like and why.

So, I wondered what did people do to stay connected before all of this technology became available? How did someone find out about something new and interesting? The answer then was word of mouth. Is this modern technology and social media the new word of mouth or do we still need people to actually talk to one another? Certainly, there were three generations talking and the discussion ranged from what the youngest liked to what the oldest had just written.

Do you know which movie I am talking about? Or which boy band (and their names and the titles of their music)? How do you stay connected? Only through ‘word of mouth’ does news of the latest ‘in thing’ travel.

It is only by being connected can we spread the word of our writing to the wider audience. Are you connected? Am I?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Maureen Green on reaching an audience

Not too long ago I received an email; an email from an author friend who has 13 books—real books—printed books, on the international scene. An achievement worthy of note, you’d think.

‘Happy chappy,’ she’d written, ‘on cloud nine. My new release is number two—hang on, update—just hit number one!’

‘Fan-dang-tastic,’ I replied. ‘If I could spell supercalafragalistic, I’d do so,’ and pressed send.

It was then the warm fuzzy feelings whisked away as my grey cells conjured up a raft of, ‘whys?’ All questions authors ask; the things that frustrate the hell out us. Here, in God’s Own, was an author, unheralded in N.Z, who, for two consecutive years had been a finalist in the Australian Author of the Year. And she was now number 1 on the international charts. Where were the media, book reps and retail outlets reps? Surely they should have been knocking on her door?  That was the moment the concept of ‘From the Author’s Mouth,’ was conceived; a branding focused on the promotion of NZ authors, a collective venture aimed at making authors visible in our community.

From the Author’s Mouth’ was formed during May 2009 when three local authors: Julie Duffy, Carine Malherbe and Maureen Green decided to find a way to introduce local writers and their work to the community.
Helga's coffee shop, Bute Road in Browns Bay, sponsors the monthly programme to which the general public is invited, on the last Wednesday of each month, 10am–noon.  Here, featured authors are scheduled to read excerpts from works, try out new stories, or introduce their books.

With the aim of providing local published and unpublished writers as well as poets with a platform to share their work, the Author’s Mouth organizes a range of events and programmes in which authors and readers may participate. 

Editor’s note:

This is the sort of venture that any writing community could duplicate worldwide to get writers connected with their audience. We’re in the story business, and stories can be transmitted in many forms. Books are just one of them, and they’re ground-breakingly modern compared to thousands of years of spoken tales. Turn back the clock and tell your stories out loud!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Art or Tart - Erin McKechnie

A young woman I know proudly displayed her latest tattoo to her mother and a group of friends, including me.  Roses and fairies twined in pretty greens and pinks across one cheek of her bottom and disappeared; we could only speculate about where the last leaf and thorn were embedded.  I kept my opinion that it would make a lovely greeting card to myself, the mind boggled at the thought of who would receive such a missive.

I wonder at this preoccupation with bodily mutilation.  Not so much that young woman’s, which was small and discreetly tucked away, presumably for the edification of a select few.  It used to be that tattooing was the preserve of criminals, bikies, prostitutes and sailors, maybe others on the fringe of society.  As a child I was taught in clear terms that ‘nice’ people did not get tattoos, which was why we didn’t associate much with our ex naval neighbour , and why my father and his fellow ex air force friends were unadorned.  It’s not the case these days.  It’s no longer an act of rebellion against social mores as it was when my brothers talked loosely about wanting tattoos, sending my mother apoplectic in the process.  A number of my friends have them.  My sister spent the money she’d saved for a washing machine having a tattoo removed from my seventeen year old nephew’s wrist, but when asked what she would liked for her fiftieth birthday, asked her sons to pay for a purple dolphin on her shoulder.
“Times have changed” she said.  They certainly have.
Nowadays people have animals, memorials, philosophical and whimsical thoughts, flowers, and birds and fish splattered on every conceivable bodily part.   Almost without exception I find it unattractive. I recognise the traditional tattooing Maori and others display on arms and thighs has significant cultural and spiritual meaning.   But the prevalence of ‘pseudo ‘  traditional art so many men sport,  frankly, makes my lip curl.  Of old, the tattooing of warriors signified part of the process of maturation and standing in the tribe. Nowadays, it seems it is done without reference to or respect for, tribal values, on people whose only intention is to look macho.

Part of my resistance is the thought of what these masterpieces will look like as their owner’s age.  At a meeting some time ago we were able to see that the stomach of a woman breast feeding was colourfully garlanded.  After settling baby, she happily lifted her jumper and displayed it to the group.  It was a multi coloured masterpiece of birds, plants and flowers, stretching from her breasts as far south as we could see.  She ruefully smoothed sections out so that we could appreciate the artistry more clearly.
“The only time it looks any good now, is when I’m about 6 months pregnant.”
What will society look like in another twenty or thirty years, when all the smooth bodies have gone wrinkly?  It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Editor’s note – the importance of good spelling cannot be over-emphasised. You’ll find pages of examples of poor proofreading if you Google  ’misspelled tattoos’!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

When Authors Get Too Busy To Write

When Authors Get Too Busy To Write  Click on this link to read a timely article on putting writing before marketing  (just when you were getting your heads around Facebook and blogging!)