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Friday, 28 December 2012

Technology failure!

My apologies to anyone seeking enlightenment and entertainment on the blog this week - Erin has written a terrific post and sent it to me for uploading, but I'm unable to complete the mission at this point. I'm holidaying in the South Island, and despite being overloaded with every possible kind of travelling technology - iPad, smartphones, laptop, digital cameras - I don't have the right version of Word to open the file Erin sent, so I can't upload it!

I may be able to acccess the file using another computer that DOES have the right version of Word in a day or so, in which case I'll get the post online for you.

In the meantime, enjoy the silly season between Christmas and New Year and I'll catch you later!


Friday, 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas everyone!

Hi everyone, welcome to the New Age! Now that all this end-of-the-world rubbish has been kicked to the kerb we can get on with planning for an exciting New Year in 2013.

The pace of change in the publishing world is still increasing. This year saw the Big Six continuing to struggle with their outdated business model, and I suspect the now Big Five will not find things any easier next year unless they embrace radical change. The successful business model in tomorrow’s publishing is a small, nimble company (or individual) who can produce good quality books quickly and economically, and promote them to their target readers using a variety of techniques and channels. Here are some of the options to consider.

The way to achieve meaningful sales – which for New Zealand authors means ebooks and POD – is to have an active online platform. That doesn’t mean you have to spend weeks figuring out how to use your website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, a blog, LinkedIn, AND a dozen other channels and then sit on your computer for hours a day tweeting and posting to all of them. It does mean that you need to actively engage with strangers online in whatever channel you are comfortable with, exchanging comments, asking questions, and contributing useful information to be shared. Or even reposting some good jokes now and again! All of that gets your name out there and establishes you as a recognised source of good content. And you'll make some good friends.

Many quite ordinary writers have started a blog, posted such good content that they’ve gained a large following, and then gone on to become world authorities in their field. The potential is there for any of us with talent and determination to do the same.

Now that the world seems set to continue for a while, I think making the effort will be worth it. World literary domination in 2013? Who’s with me?!

Wishing all our blog readers a happy and stress-free Christmas and apocalypse-free New Year.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A glowing review for Jenny Harrison's latest book.

Carrie Beavers in Alameda Sun reviews The Lives of Alice Pothron by Jenny Harrison

 As a child I had the good fortune to live overseas in Brussels and London. This was in the early ‘70s, and memory of World War II was very much alive. In London, particularly, visible evidence of the war was everywhere. As a result, when I returned to the U.S., I had a completely different appreciation of the war than my American classmates.

Evelyn Pothron, a long-time Alameda resident, also has a different view of World War II. In July I939, her parents Emile and Alice Pothron, naturalized American citizens, traveled to their native France for a much-needed six-week vacation. It would be four years before they would return to the United States with their daughter Evelyn.

In a harrowing, yet uplifting account, New Zealand author Jenny Harrison tells the story of the Pothrons’ ordeal; the separation of a family; life in a German prisoner of war camp and the unimaginable nightmare of living at the whim of occupying Nazi soldiers.

The majority of the story centers around Alice and Evelyn. As a result of an extraordinarily difficult childhood, health problems had left Alice in despair of ever having a child.

When it is discovered that Alice is expecting a miracle child, the family makes the fateful decision to remain in France until the baby is born. It is this decision that places the family in harm‘s way when the invading Nazi forces arrive at their doorstep. Emile, conscripted into the French military and subsequently captured, is unable to protect his family.

When circumstances become life threatening, Alice, who has been forced to feed and house a unit of Nazi soldiers, makes the courageous decision to escape to freedom, a journey that will endanger their lives many times. At the journey’s end is a miraculous reunion and return to the United States that will eventually bring the family to Alameda. The incredible strength that Alice shows in the face of such adversity is an inspiration for all of us.

This story held me in its thrall from beginning to end. When I had to put it down for those daily inconveniences like sleep and work, I thought about it. I spoke to friends and co-workers about it.

One afternoon, as I worked at my desk, a petite elegant woman came in to the office. I realized instantly that she was Evelyn, the tiny tot who had walked away from the Nazis.

If it hadn‘t been for her extraordinary mother, I would never have met this lovely, soft-spoken woman, and find out the rest of the story. The measures to which this mother went to save her family would eventually shorten her life.

Many years later, Evelyn’s retelling of her mother’s story to a fellow passenger on a cruise — author Jenny Harrison — led to this book.

Evelyn's wish for the book was to teach her grandchildren just how fortunate they are. That’s a wish I’d like to share with us all.

The Lives of Alice Pothron, 286 pages, is available at

Congratulations, Jenny, on a well-deserved great review!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Jean Allen on showing character with language


‘On my holidays my mother sent me to stay with Auntie Beral. I didn’t know Auntie Beral very well. She was skinny and tall and had spectackles that keeped on rolling down her nose and she keeped pushing them back up her nose with her thumb. Her eyes looked like they were on a escanlater.
        On the first day we played Snap and I won all the games.
        On the second day we had pikelets and treacle and cheese for lunch and I was sick on her carpet square and she showed me how to wash up the sick.
        On the third day we went out to see her friend Eva Cramps and I had to call her Auntie Eva Cramps and we had scrambled egges for lunch and they were so runny they ran all over the table cloth.
        On the last day we went shopping and Auntie Beral let me stay outside with Buskabill from Buffalohill. He played all the nursery rhymes on his geetar and I singed every one of them and so did he but he singed different words than me. We made lots and lots of money and when Auntie Beral came out of the Supermarket I wasn’t there because we were in the Ice Cream Parlar next door and eating ice cream sundees with chocolate sauce and jelly beans on top and then she did find us and she was mad. I think it was becos she didn’t get any ice cream sundees and she was jellus. Next holidays Mum says I can go to the moon!’           © Jean’s younger alter ego

This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping you are enjoying today’s character.

A note from Officer in Charge - I see we've just reached 5084 page views, and have readers spread across the world. Very happy to see you - stay and post a comment so we can see you! *waves.*


Friday, 7 December 2012

Maureen Green asks - Are Book Retailers Catering to Client Needs?

My sister, an avid reader, has difficulty in reading standard-size print in published books. Because of this she has turned to large print editions and to talking books. She has found limited choice of reading material available in both of these forms, and New Zealand authors are rarely represented.
          Having heard her complain about the lack of choice afforded other readers I checked out our library’s data bases and found the range of materials available uninspiring.
          A visit to the larger bookstores drew a blank. When I approached staff members and asked where I might find the large print section, puzzled faces met my inquiry.
"We don't have any."
         "Why not?" I asked.
        A shoulder shrug and backing away from me was the common response to this fractious question, as the assistants slunk away. I left wondering why in our society where equal opportunity is a priority, bookstores did not see a need to cater to those whose sight was failing.
            I got to thinking then, whether the so-called literary world knew what the reading public wanted.
            Do they ever ask the reading public?
            My examination of the written materials stocked in store showed the focus to be on cookbooks, how to do, life stories of sportspersons, fancy stationery and what I would class as knick-knacks; the gutsy stuff was in short supply.
            In these hard times when every opportunity to draw customers is a bonus, I would have thought large print books and talking books in bookshops would have been a must. Books in many differing genres, written by New Zealand authors, are readily available from independent publishers., and Amazon are sites where titles may be viewed.
            Why not encourage libraries and bookshops to visit these sites and to stock these works?