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Friday, 27 December 2013

Merry Christmas from Evan G Andrew and the Whole Gang!

It's that time of the year again!

Suddenly Christmas is upon us, and life becomes a hectic rush with lots of happenings! The social whirl of catching up with family,  friends, and neighbours begins. The shopping for presents, and stocking up with extra goodies, and little luxuries for lunch or dinner during that very special day, plus preparing for holidays, if you are going away.

There is also time to pause, and reflect, for all those you may have loved or lost, during the past year. While the good times, and the not so good, come more clearly into focus.

Within our writing group, it has been a busy year with several new books published during the year, and many more ready for publication in the New Year; so lots to look forward to.

I don't know whether there are many of you out there, who at this particular time of the year, unfailingly bring out books that you have loved and enjoyed in the past. Those that have a Christmas theme, or a poignant Christmas scene, which draws you back, year after year.

Charles Dickens of course had 'A Christmas Carol,' and 'Mr Pickwick', plus many Christmas scenes in his books, as did Louisa May Alcott in 'Little Women',  and many others, who used the theme in their stories.

Two favourites of mine that I always re-read, are Winston Graham's excellent Cornish novel, 'The Grove of Eagles', and Jean Stubbs, 'Kit's Hill', which are pure nostalgia for me. They also get me re-motivated, at this rather slothful time for writers.

For all writers, I hope that the muse is with you, and you strike success in the near future with your endeavours.

On behalf of all the other 'blog' writers throughout the year, may I wish everyone, a very Merry Christmas, and a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year.


Evan G Andrew

Friday, 20 December 2013

Jean Allen decries gaps in The Listener's NZ book coverage.

I read with interest The 100 Best Books of 2013 in the New Zealand Listener November 30th to December 6th this year. The sentence underneath the heading read – 'Books & Culture editor GUY SOMERSET' and listed the magazine’s team of reviewers on the year’s reading highlights. This article took up sixteen pages.     Admittedly the heading alone took up two thirds of the first page and from there on pictures of five book covers topped and bottomed each page.

This is a New Zealand magazine, to which I have subscribed for years and being a writer, the article interested me. Having read most of it I counted the numbers of books listed under the genres.

FICTION – featured 45 titles, of which I counted only 3 New Zealand authors.
They were The Fall of Light by Sarah Laing; The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and Wake by Elizabeth Knox. Not being an expert on the top writers of this country I apologize if I have overlooked anyone.
I found this far greater number of overseas books sad.

In our own country, in a New Zealand magazine, I would have thought our authors would have been better represented. Yes, we are a small country – but had Eleanor Catton not won the Man Booker Prize I suppose there would have only been two New Zealand books in that list.
Other categories, Poetry, Art and Natural History, were much the same.
Perhaps the Listener might counterbalance this very long article with an equally long one featuring our own authors, including Indie published authors.

This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen wishing a Happy Reading Holiday to all NZ writers and readers.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Barbara Algie reflects on the people passing by

I hope you haven’t been making rash promises about writing x-number of words per day in the coming year.  My literary inspiration has gone down the gurgler, for I’ve found something much less energetic to be doing which is dodging pouring rain one minute and slapping on 30+ sunscreen the next.  Some would declare I was ‘wasting time’ whilst others, of a more sympathetic frame of mind, call it ‘gathering valuable information about men, women, kids and their best friends’ as I sit on a coastal walkway seat, where a heavy cloud arrives, gives up all hope of finding a mate and sends down a swift reminder that it pays to adopt the Boy Scouts’ Motto, even in summer.  

One or two hungry seagulls stamp their feet, demanding a share of my cold stew sandwich (yum) and the  high tide whispers ‘ssh’ as it gently laps the shore before slipping away with a soft sigh and returning to repeat itself.  I am very aware that a long distance from this shangri la there are people who, through no fault of their own, are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Come to think of it that fellow Newton was one of ‘em but he was luckier than most and ended up with a  mere bump on the head. 

Watching the passing parade on the boardwalk I couldn’t help noticing the extraordinary resemblance which pets share with their owners – for instance -
There were fellas with jowls like snuffly bulldogs, large ladies resembling fat pooches
Dogs that were pantin’ and rantin on leads and others reluctant wee moochers
A tough guy in black with ferocious Rottweiler,  a fat Labrador’s dad the same gut
and some feline owners, when viewed from behind, had exactly the same shaped butt.

Maybe I’ll toddle off home after the next shower and file this invaluable information away somewhere but right now here comes the sun again and I’d rather not be disturbed thanks.  
Have a great 2014.

Big Al

Friday, 6 December 2013

Boost your blog traffic: Six keys to writing great headlines, by Vicky Adin

As authors, we are constantly bombarded with promotions, advice and advertising (predominantly American) telling us the Umpteen Best ways to … get known / sell more books / get more followers / write the best blogs / write better/quicker/smarter / avoid writers block / design the best covers / … and the list goes on.

 If every author blogged on a website, wrote guest blogs on every blogging site suited to their genre, wrote reviews on the millions of books available worldwide in their genre on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, and… and I won’t mention any others because there are too many, and daily updated their activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube et al, there would never be any books to read. Authors just wouldn’t have the time to write their story while they are so busy ‘getting known’.

 So what do we do? Not to do any marketing and promotion is a self-fulfilling recipe for obscurity. So, despite the overload of information and advice, which usually comes with a price tag, I came across this site on how to Boost your Blog Traffic.

 I have signed up to receive A Cheat Sheet for Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral.

I may regret it if they then bombard me with more advice, but there were some good tips on how to write headlines and how to reach the numbers of people out there that could make a difference to your sales figures. (You can download it free).

 There’s plenty of sound reading worth a look… and some good hints for writing headlines. Not only blog headlines, but also media releases, and even log lines (shout lines) anywhere you need a headline. After all, our aim is to attract attention, so any advice on how to do that must be worth a look. Right?

If you have read this far, what did you think of the headline? Did it grab your attention?

 Threat Headlines - What Keeps Your Readers up at Night?

Zen Headlines - Promising Your Readers a Simpler Life

Piggyback Headlines - Riding on the Back of a Famous Brand

Mistake Headlines - Irresistible Teasers from the Masters

How to Headlines - The Oldie but Goodie That Never Fails

List Headlines - Bite-Sized Content That Readers Adore
Best of luck with your blogging
Vicky Adin
Ed: A reminder that Mairangi Writers and Let's Buy Books will be at the Browns Bay Christmas market TOMORROW from 11 - 5. If you see it raining, please come and buy up all our stock!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Bev Robitai on Nanowrimo, news and novel ideas for launches.

Hi Team,

How’s our merry band of writers doing this week? It’s almost the last day of November so those who took up the challenge of Nanowrimo will be feeling the strain of completing their word targets by midnight on Saturday. I’m grateful that some of our little band chose to do a mini version of the full event and just aimed for 1000 words every day for November rather than the entire 1667 words a day. Surprising what a difference that makes, especially when you’re a day and a half behind and struggling to catch up! There are several benefits to putting yourself under pressure to perform by entering Nanowrimo – it sets up good habits of staying at your desk until you’re done, and of writing through any potential blocks. And if you let the words flow freely as they spring into your mind, you can allow your creativity full rein rather than stopping to consider every word. I’ve had a great time doing it and plan to carry on for December. (Oh all right, maybe a couple of days off for Christmas!)

Now, on a parochial note… Next Saturday, the 7th of December, we’ll be manning a stall at the Browns Bay Christmas event, hoping to hand-sell a few books to the Christmas shoppers. It’s a chance to push the ‘support local business, not big corporations’ barrow and convince people to buy local. The market runs from 11am through to the Santa Parade around 5pm and we’d love to see you there. Look for the Let’s Buy Books banner.

I attended a couple of colourful book launches recently – one for Jack Smith’s autobiography Ahoy There about his early life in the merchant navy, which was launched at The Bookmark in Takapuna to the accompaniment of raucous sea shanties.

The other was historian Scott Bainbridge’s latest book, The Basset Road Machine Gun Murders, which was held in Shanghai Lil’s, a cellar bar in Parnell, full of oriental silks and scattered cushions. Scott and several guests dressed as gangsters and the crowd got right into the spirit.

Start thinking about the launch you could plan for that Nanowrimo novel, once it’s finished…

Happy writing everyone!

Bev Robitai


Aka Officer in Charge



Friday, 22 November 2013

Erin McKechnie struggles with Real Estate language

Lots of the blogs various members of the group write are about the correct use of language. For instance it’s only a week or so since Jenny wrote about the misuse of words such as full, fuller, fullest. It struck a chord for me because I am in the process of preparing my own home to sell, and consequently am looking at other properties to buy.
Real estate agents must be the masters of inflationary language, followed closely by advertisers; I guess I could put in here - and car salesmen. But my concern is the language used in real estate advertisements.

‘Beautifully contoured garden.’ When I looked, the property sloped almost vertically down to the fence line with nothing but scruffy grass. Another agent described that property as ‘filled with potential for the keen gardener’ which was a little more realistic. But, although I’m a fairly enthusiastic gardener, I’m not a mountain goat. If the property had honestly been described as ‘steep’ I needn’t have wasted my own or the agent’s time.
All lounges are ‘spacious’ even if reasonably only two chairs can be slotted in, or the front door cannot be fully opened without hitting the couch, sideboard or television.  Another advertisement claimed a property has a ‘marvellous free flowing living area’ but omitted to mention it had no dining area of any sort, not even a couple of bar stools at the kitchen bench. Bathrooms are ‘beautifully appointed’, even if they don’t have a shower.

These experiences have made me wonder how I should advertise my own property when the time comes.
‘Private, right of way property. Four bedroom home on relatively flat area, remainder of section steep and covered in native bush. Kitchen and bathroom due for a tidy up but fully functional.  Lounge and dining room large and comfortable, opening to north facing deck. Internal garage.’

Which would be an honest, unvarnished sort of description. Or, in order to catch people’s attention must I resort to the language others use, presumably because that’s what other buyers understand?

‘Listen to the tuis all day in this very private, large, four bedroom home, set in wonderful bush clad paradise. Built in the days when houses were built well, designed for comfort and well proportioned.  Generously sized, efficient kitchen, spacious bathroom and beautiful sunny lounge and dining room opening onto expansive north facing deck.’

Actually, that sounds exactly what I want. Maybe I’ve been unlucky and not all agents are wrong after all. Pragmatism has its points, but a little bit of enthusiasm or idealism certainly whets the appetite.

Maybe I’ll stay here.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Pam Laird on Positive and Negative Thinking

Philosophising about life is often not rewarding. Well, pretty much never!  Day to day living on this planet is a bit of a gamble and when you take some time to study companion travellers, most of them seem to get on with life using a que sera sera approach.

Then we start to think how the population seems to be made up of either positive or negative thinkers with I suppose, a few degrees in between. Remember the prisoners looking out from their cells…… “Two men look out from prison bars, one sees mud, the other, stars.”

A perfect illustration written by — Mmmm! According to Google, could be any one of the following…  Frederick Langridge 1849-1922, Oscar Wilde 1855-1900 or Dale Carnegie 1888-1955. Carnegie, probably not, but there it is, an apt summing up of the two main opposing divisions of human nature. Author unknown.

Is there anything positive about negative thinking? Apparently there is or so a psychology lab in New York would have us believe. It seems that assuming success in a venture can disappoint as one assumes an achievement without taking the necessary steps to achieve it. I can see that might be a problem for a particular goal but what about daily living and the effect on everyday contacts through work, recreation, home life, parenting etc?

The argument goes — picturing certain obstacles to one’s achievement  activates the realisation that further study or exploration may be required. Recognising such an obstacle would therefore more likely create success.

   As mentioned, this attitude may well have adverse effects on those around and cause reactions that in themselves are unhelpful. Is there an upside to negative thinking? Perhaps negative thinkers should confine themselves to certain professional areas of their lives rather than causing ructions and dismay among family and social contacts.

Is positive thinking a good thing? We hear today a great deal about positive reinforcement for children. On the face of it, this process appears to be a good idea, but do the children grow up thinking they can do no wrong and their efforts are always right? That their work does not require further investigation and/or  checking for errors?

So often today we hear of young ones expecting, as of right, to be the most popular child, an assumption of success in exams, the right to a new home fully furnished, that the usual steps in business to career achievement do not apply to them. That they will expect to be managing director the day after tomorrow! All these are obviously unreal beliefs, perhaps brought about by a surfeit of positive reinforcement.

   Is there an upside to positive thinking? Most certainly ‘yes’ from the immediate relationships point of view with work mates or family, yes there is. Taking into account the unreality of over-emphasising a child’s confidence, the value of given talents or abilities and results of exams etc., yes, of course this can be overdone. So a parent or teacher has to find a middle way.

Middle way or not, no-one wants to live with a combination of Pollyanna and Shirley Temple or Eyeore and Scrooge, do they?
Pam Laird
Nov 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Mary Neilson dislikes -ING

 "As the maddest, baddest and not the youngest of this galley of rogues I had to zip up, was feeling me way until I was given me dues, you know, the chance to speak me piece. So here I am.
       Me pet peeve is words ending in "ing."

       It's just a buzzing wee thingy that slides into one's narrative, making it slitheringly slow in a reading.
You go along without noticing how the wordings are dragging your story-telling down until you start thinking, 'huh, I be having enough of these 'ing' wordings. Could there be another way?'
        We all know not to start a sentence with a word ending in
ing e.g. 'Smelling the roses, he bent lower' but most look at me strangely when I mention my 'ing' peccadillo.

        I was happening to be reading the amazing tips in the following link, and lo, a charming and clever young man, D.W. Wilson, born and raised in the small towns of the Kootenay Valley, British Columbia was talking about the very same thing!
Check it out.


Plus the competition is open now for entries.
It's worth a peepo folks, I promise you.
         Me thought me could rewrite this without the ing words, but perhaps me point is made.......

Kia pai to ra. Enjoy your day.
"Mad Mary"

Ma te wa.

Mary Elsmore-Neilson 

2012 Inaugural Winner Christine
Cole-Catley Short Story Award

Mary Neilson

Friday, 1 November 2013

Bev Robitai and the Nanowrimo Challenge

OMG, it's November! And all over the world, writers are girding their loins, saying goodbye to friends and family, and embarking on the gruelling challenge that is Nanowrimo. (Google it - it's a real thing.) The challenge is to put bum firmly to seat and write - as prolifically as possible - to achieve a total word count of 50,000 by the end of the month. That means at least 1,666 words a day for every day of November, at the end of which you'll have a rough first draft of a novel.

And that's all it is. There are no publishing deals, no guarantees of success - just the gauntlet thrown down to see if you have what it takes to produce work under pressure.
The nice part is that there is support to help you through it. If you sign up to the Nanowrimo website (free) you get regular pep talks by email to spur you on, and plenty of helpful tips and tricks for planning and executing your novel. It's a great way to get a book off the back-burner and onto the page.

I'm among a small group of local writers doing a smaller version, a mini-Nano, of just 30,000 words for the month. Less pressure, but still the support and encouragement of fellow scribes. Feel free to join us on the Lets Buy Books Facebook page if you have a project that needs that extra kick in the pants to be completed.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have today's word count to begin...I'm starting from scratch and have a lot of planning to do.Wish me luck!

Bev Robitai

Friday, 25 October 2013

Grumpy Granny on the Rampage - Again

Now, I know I’m being a Grumpy Granny, but I’m going to have a moan. If, like me, you are a stickler for good English then hang on, I’ve a point or two to make. If you’re not a stickler, then hang on as well, because you’re about to learn something.

Let me admit right here, my grasp of the intricacies of English is limited. What I know I seem to know instinctively; stuff learned with mother’s milk you might say, or beaten into my skull with a ruler by the nuns at the convent, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I’ve got this wrong.

My grumble is about degrees of comparison. We have adjectives that are positive, comparative and superlative. Examples: bright, brighter and brightest. Or happy, happier and happiest. Or costly, costlier and costliest. Or pale, paler, palest. And so on.

But hang on, says me. What about ‘full’? ‘Full’ is an adjective that means (OED quote)... ‘Having within its limits all it will hold’. So, can you have ‘full, fuller, fullest’? No! You flamin’ well can’t. You cannot ‘live life to the fullest’. You can only ‘live life to the full’. It really riles me when I see good writers use the word ‘fullest’. Poor writers use it sometimes and journalists, of course, use it all the time. So, let’s deface books. Let’s cross out every ‘fullest’ we can find. Let’s hang, draw and quarter people, especially writers, who use the word ‘fullest’ because, ladies, gents and all those in-between, there’s no such word.

Another pet hate is the use of ‘amount’ instead of number. You can’t say ‘the amount of people’. It’s wrong. It’s ‘the number of people’. I was always taught that if you can count something then you use the word ‘number’. You can count people so you use the word ‘number’, as in ‘number of people at the soccer match’. If you’re talking about snow on the mountain, you use the word ‘amount’ because you can’t count it. Simple? I would have thought so.

And don’t tell me because it’s in common use it’s alright. It isn’t! Don’t get sucked in by that hoi poloi, cheapskate argument. That’s an excuse used by people who don’t know any better.

Okay, now that I’ve let off all that steam, I think I’ll go and have a cup of tea.

Jenny Harrison

Friday, 18 October 2013

Gabrielle Rothwell on life after The Sunken Garden

I going miss it.  I really will - but there’s another one waiting in the wings.

That’s my book I’m talking about and I’m about to put it to bed after working on it for more than three years. Because its part-memoir-part fiction it has been a difficult book to write.  What to put in?  What to leave out?  French author Laurent Binet says he spent a whole day wondering whether to take out a comma then at the end of the day put it back again. It’s an apt quote for someone like myself who has written and rewritten chapter and verse and agonised over tenses and punctuation and historical accuracy. I always remember one of my teachers saying “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. There have been so many rewrites, notes on pieces of paper, notebooks and exercise books filled with observations and thoughts, etc all scattered around my study – and of course conversations, thoughts, visualisations running through my head over these last few years.

I have eaten, slept (precious little) and lived with this book for a very long time. In the end I had to give myself a deadline- actually two weeks which will run into three as although I have printed out the manuscript to give to my husband to read, I do have to print the good copy for publication.) And yes, there are still the odd pieces of paper with notes that I have to insert (notes I’ve forgotten about which simply have to go in!)  When I tell people this they look at me and I can see their minds ticking over saying: For God’s sake, just put the bloody thing to bed!

 One famous novelist - can’t remember who - took ten years to write what was eventually hailed as a masterpiece. Maybe Leo Tolstoy and War and Peace? I’m sure the likes of Stephen King, Bryce Courtney or Wilbur Smith would look at me in disbelief if they read what I’ve just written.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bang out a novel every few months or so?

They say a writer’s work is never done.  Why couldn’t I have chosen a simple 9 – 5 job?

There is always the big question – have I written rubbish? Is it publishable? And – oh no - can I make it better?  I have to squeeze out the very last creative thought just in case ...

And the one waiting in the wings? Now that The Sunken Garden is almost at an end – I hope to bring to light my next creative venture, one which has had to be put on hold. It’s the story of a Special Forces agent during World War II – a book I actually started writing before Sunken Garden. Rather than rest on my laurels I’m going to try to cash in on the anniversary of World War 1 which every man and his dog will probably do. So another deadline in sight and the whole process starts over again.

Happy Writings,


Friday, 11 October 2013

Rod Dearing on rest and refreshment for writers

Healthwise the last six months have been a tad trying for me (and 
for my family) but from a creativity and writing point of view I can’t complain.

You see because of my aches and pains I was forced to slow down and rest up. Take some morphine pain killers. Stay in bed longer. Snooze out in the sun. Snuggle deep into the cushioned comfort of the old grandfather chair and doze off. Forget about the stresses and tensions of the outside world. Let my mind wander aimlessly and dream a little. Dream about the really important things in life.
It's extraordinary how life’s priorities change in Dreamland where there are no boundaries and restrictions, pressures or timings to meet. Creativity can flourish unfettered.

Fresh plots emerge out of the mists. New characters make their acquaintance and either stay to converse or, as in Macbeth ‘is a poor player who struts and frets his hour on the stage and is heard no more’.  The impossible becomes possible and acceptable. New norms are created and a myriad of hitherto undiscovered views offer themselves for exploration.

‘Ah,’ I hear some sceptics say, ‘it’s the morphine pain killers!’ And in my case, having led a very sheltered life that could well be a contributing factor. But on the other hand it’s far more likely to be that I was forced to take time out to repair the body and spirit.

Do you think that we writers should deliberately plan to take ‘time out’ as a means of recharging our creativity?

Settle down, switch off and ... dream a little.


Rodney Dearing

Author of 'Brilliant Mr Badger' and 'Cadet Willie McBride' stories.

74 Temple Street,


Auckland 1072

New Zealand.

Tele + 64 09 521 5193

Mobile + 64 027 3333 984

Friday, 4 October 2013

Evan Andrew on the annoying popularity of Bridget Jones

Well, last week we fought the good fight and lost to technology, and a bottomless purse! So, now back to normality, and yet, I still feel grumpy, irritable, and generally out of sorts.
'Why do you watch the news?' said my better half wearily the other night.  'All you do is complain, and say they are all a bunch of idiots.'
She is of course, quite right, and I slink away, gin and tonic in hand, mumble under my breath, and wonder... am I becoming a grumpy old man?
My latest gripe with the media is ... all the hoopla and news time taken up recently on every TV news channel, (also radio, women's magazines, newspapers, etc, etc,) with the sequel to 'Bridget Jones's Diary.'
Now, I have never read the book, (and full marks to author Helen Fielding, and I assume her publishers) for what must be a brilliant advertising campaign.
To be able to sell the book, film, play, TV series, song, clothing campaign, makeup range, and whatever else they can dream up to sell through the media with this type of promotion, without spending a pound, euro, dollar, or anything else.
'You are only jealous,' sniffed my better half, and of course she is absolutely right, as always!
What wouldn't I give to have my book taken up and pre sold for free like this, by the news moguls that control the media worldwide.
How amazing it is, to think that a fictional character like Bridget Jones, can relate to so many women worldwide, (and possibly men too) to become such an icon.
Congratulations again to Helen Fielding.

Ah well, back to the computer, to escape into the plight of my heroine, even if she bears no resemblance to... Bridget Jones!
Evan Andrew

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jean Allen on making reading easier.

Style, plot, and characterisation are but a few of the abilities writers use to hone our work for our readers. We care about their reading experience as well.
Recently I had to have cataract operations on both my eyes. What a wonderful era we live in to have this surgery available. I had the near sighted eye done first and arranged to have the long sight eye done two weeks later; which was just as well as I was found to be allergic to one of the eye drops used before and after surgery. I could read, just, but the discomfort to that eye made it too sore.    
Remedy? My kind husband went to the library and chose for me three Large Print books. E-books also proved good with their larger print options and a friend lent me some audio CDs. Of these I still preferred the Large Print books. I love the feel, smell and familiar look - and many now have lighter weight covers for comfort.
Blind Institutes worldwide have long provided for the blind or near blind; now those of us having short or long term seeing problems have options. My personal, short term experience has made me decide I shall follow some of my fellow writers’ lead and seek to add to the supply of e-books, large print and audio CDs – and incorporate them more in my own reading interests. And maybe I shall find other options.
This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping my new eyes haven’t made any mistakes and that you are enjoying your favourite reading method today!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Barbara Algie on NZ Sporting genius!

‘Strike up the Band’/’Roll out the Barrel’/’Congratulations’/and ‘Wasn’t that a party?’ All amazing songs but I’ll tell you more about them later.

Right now it’s all about National Pride in this under-populated chunk of land whose exact whereabouts has some people in the world scratching their heads. This week we are celebrating a host of amazing moments in the worldwide sporting arena

1) National Sport – ‘Rugby Racing & Beer’. Our All Blacks, whose veins are a combination of fibre optic cable and No.8 fencing wire, brushed off mangled muscles to defeat a burly South African team by a country mile, causing nationwide Sunday hangovers.

2) Ranfurly Shield – Provincial challengers have been playing ping-pong with the ‘Log o’ Wood’ as
it’s widely known. Otago (rank outsiders) held it briefly before it was wrested from their grasp by the Magpies from Hawkes Bay who didn’t even have time to give it a polish before it found itself in the firm grip of Counties Manukau. The Shield is beginning to feel dizzy, so – watch this space.

3) Sweet was the victory of Netball’s Silver Ferns over their Australian opponents in the first of a bruising series of Five Tests where the slogan of our so-called friends across the ditch is ‘take no prisoners'. For once our kiwi girls managed to forget they were the nice-guys and inflicted the necessary amount of push, biff and shove, for a narrow cliff-hanger win. ‘Go the Ferns!’ for the series.

4) World-beater Lydia Ko – what can we say? This young lass has put new emphasis on the phrase ‘a real cool cat’ by astonishing the golf world with her ability not only to make the cut in every tournament in which she has so far competed, but whose short game is the envy of players, male or
female. Her aim? To be the best in the world. Good luck Lydia - ‘Go Ko – Turn Pro!’

5) NZ Rowers – Bedecked with so many medals they set the airport security devices ringing like the Bells of St Mary’s. Rowing – showing the world how it’s done.

6) Now to the ‘biggie’ – America’s Cup where Team New Zealand need to win just one more race to bring the Auld Mug back to where its empty (burglar-proof) cabinet awaits in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. I’m not sure the description of this event as a ‘Regatta’ is correct. Rather than a genteel afternoon picnic with cucumber sandwiches it’s more a bitter battle currently being waged on San Francisco Bay. The rivalry between Jimmy Spitall (the Pitbull) and the Deano/Dalton duo (the Icemen) is intense, but thankfully somebody has resurrected a pair of red socks. A gimmick yes, and some smell of mothballs, but one which seems to be working for our unflappable crew.

So please don’t worry about stomach ulcers or angina pains – put on those red socks and pray – HARD – and after we win tomorrow’s race (fingers crossed of course) you can start singing all those songs at the top of this blog and don’t worry about impending hangovers – they may go on for a month or two but ‘they’ll be worth it’!

Barbara Algie
Sept 19 2013

                                                           Photo: Bev Robitai


Friday, 13 September 2013

Vicky Adin on Facebook for authors

For those indie authors who wonder how to reach those elusive readers, I came across this post - – the best I’ve seen – explaining the difference between a Facebook profile (personal) and a Facebook page (professional).

A Facebook profile is for people. A Facebook page is for products (books!), services, nonprofits, and businesses.

Having a Facebook page will enable you to promote it, announce your readings, and inform your readers of upcoming workshops you’re giving. Technically, writers can’t promote their wares on their Facebook profiles

Even so, I struggled with some of the concepts.
After several experiments, the author – Frances Caballo – came to the conclusion that:

     On your Facebook profile, personal information trumps beautiful images. Profiles are for friends and they want to hear about your life, your travails and your accomplishments. They also want to help so don’t forget to solicit their feedback.

     Information about your specialty or niche will perform better on your Facebook page, not your profile. I’m a writer who specializes in social media. I love to post about books, libraries, social media marketing, and authors. However, those types of posts work better on my Facebook page where my fans expect me to write about social media and as writers themselves, appreciate quotes by writers. So keep professional interests on your Facebook page and keep personal information you’d like to share on your Facebook profile.

     The image posted was beautiful, but it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t a picture that I’d taken on vacation or after a day at the beach. If that had been the case, more of my friends would have left comments. Images in and of themselves, despite the beauty they capture, won’t generated the engagement you’d like to have on your profile.

     Facebook users love to laugh. Whenever I post an image that’s hilarious, whether it’s on my profile or my page, the engagement goes up. This is true for both your page and your profile; something truly hilarious that isn’t offensive may trump everything else, except for your profile when you ask people for their help.

I agree that photos and images are postings that attract comments and likes. A good photo or humorous image and hitting ‘like’ is quick and simple. But in this article, the author also pushes the personal - Facebook profiles are all about sharing one’s drama, struggles, parties, promotions, and other personal items. And this is where I have a problem.

I am happy for people to know about me as an author, but do they really need or, more importantly, want to know if I have a cold, had chicken for dinner or my granddaughter was cheeky? My friends will, I agree; my family probably already know as I talk to them, but do my readers, followers and people who ‘like’ me want to know? I’d be interested to know your opinion.

As a reader I want to know what about my favourite authors: something of their interests and what excites them, but not personal and intimate posts. I want to know a lot about what they are writing, what the theme for the next book might be, and what inspires them. I am also more interested in the struggles they are having with writing rather than anything in their personal lives. Is that just me, being a fellow writer, or am I being too ‘out-of-touch’ in today’s world?

So this is where Facebook doesn’t work for me. You must have a personal profile to have a Facebook presence – okay, so far so good – and if you ‘like’ a business page (which I have done) you would expect to receive updates according to your setting.  Unfortunately, that also means an author not only has to spend time commenting on their personal page but also on their professional page, which takes them away from what they do – write books.

Yet anything posted on that business page does not necessarily appear in your personal news feed. Sometimes it might and sometimes not. I have a friend, both personal and on Facebook who updates here personal profile with interesting news. She is also an author. I have ‘liked’ her professional page, but rarely do I get any updates from that page.  I wondered if it was my ineptitude and somehow I didn’t have the correct settings. It appears not.

Another article by Stephanie Chandler - - tells us Facebook deliberately controls the number of people who see the posts on your business page. The only way to overcome this problem is to spend money and pay for Promoted Posts.

What do you think?

Do you want read personal updates about people who you ‘like’ on a business page? Shouldn’t that sort of personal information be just for friends and family – people you know? Are your readers also your friends? What is the difference between a friend and a Facebook friend? I don’t like to share my personal with the wider world out there in cyber space who I don’t know, but thousands, even millions of people do. So much for the GCSB debate! (But that’s another story).

What would be the factor that would attract you away from the personal profile of an author to the professional page of the same person?  If I put my writing information – and I don’t mean hard sell: that doesn’t work in anybody’s world – but a link to my blog, for example. Would you follow that link more if it was on a professional page rather than my personal profile? According to this article, yes:

Facebook friends want to hear about the highlights of our lives, and not have to click a link that take them to a blog post. Do you agree?

Seems to me that social media, which is constantly highlighted as THE way to connect with your readers, is not all it’s cracked up to be, but then I’m old-fashioned like that. I want people to read my stories, not the story of my life today in one-sentence updates. So, I still have the problem – how do indie authors find their readers?

Vicky Adin

Friday, 6 September 2013

The New Face of Bookshops

When travelling last month I took the chance to check out the state of bookselling in Canada and the UK, and it was mostly a disappointing exercise. Bookstores, unable to make enough profit by selling books, have become houseware and accessory stores, filling their retail space with knicknacks and completely unrelated products.
 This is a branch of Chapters - the equivalent of Borders - hardly looks like a bookstore, does it?

I guess they need to do whatever it takes to survive. There were certainly no independent bookstores in sight in any of the towns and cities I visited, only big chain stores, or secondhand bookstores.

But on the positive side, I was impressed by the care taken by the Toronto Central branch of Indigo, where I found all kinds of interesting displays designed to unite books with readers who would enjoy them. That's where bricks and mortar stores need to concentrate their efforts to stay relevant. Having titles recommended, either by a human or a well-thought-out display, tips the balance between buying a book in the shop or getting it later online.

 Here are books for Book Clubs, and mystery lovers.
 The books most often stolen! Fascinating set of titles!
And special interest books grouped together so customers can browse them easily, probably finding more than one they'd like to buy.

There's no silver bullet to 'fix' the problems with book selling, and I think bookshops will continue to struggle in the face of cheaper and more convenient book-buying options. It will come down to customer support. If they can offer an experience the customer is willing to pay a little more for, then they'll survive.

Meanwhile, writers continue to find new and exciting ways to get their books in front of readers with or without bookstores.

Speaking of which - open invitation to a double book launch on Tuesday 10th, 6pm at Takapuna Library. Shauna Bickley and I are talking about our new publications Lies of the Dead and Sunstrike. All welcome!