Search This Blog

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