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Friday, 19 December 2014

Joanna Penn and Booktrack in Auckland this week.

A large group of indie authors gathered to hear UK writer and entrepreneur Joanna Penn speak at the Auckland Central Library this week. The event started out as Joanna emailing a few writers to see if we'd like to meet for a coffee when she visited Auckland, but the burgeoning writerly grapevine sprang into such vigorous life that over a hundred replied! The result was a two-hour talk and Q&A session sponsored by Booktrack that brought together a whole heap of local authors who hadn't met before.
You can see the content of the talk here on Joanna's website, and you can find out about Booktrack here. It's a site that allows you to add background music and subtle sound effects to deepen the reader's immersion in your ebook.
But perhaps the most useful outcome was finding another place where local writers can meet up to share advice and information in this fast-changing business of ours, by joining the New Zealand Indie Authors Facebook Page(Note that you will need to ask to join the group)
I see this as a huge step forward in gaining the notice of book sellers and libraries. United we stand and all that! And the author community is full of such amazing and talented people that great things will come from letting them interact.
I'm excited to see what 2015 will bring!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas and (dare I ask) a prosperous New Year!
Best wishes,

Friday, 12 December 2014

Erin McKechnie on giving birth to a new book

The Christening
Most of you will know that I self published my first novel ‘Cissy’ in the middle of the year. Maybe with your first book you indulged in the same feelings I did: an incredible, overwhelming feeling of awe and wonder at your own magnificence as you stroked for the first time that glossily covered, exquisitely designed and presented work of art. Cissy’s arrival meant the world will never be the same again.
Do you remember how slow and painful the passage was for this delicate embryo of the heart and mind? For me and Cissy the journey posed challenges of the most personal nature. As she grew, I dithered, beset with doubt; should I express what we wanted to say so bluntly, expose my feelings and be vulnerable to ridicule or rejection? The potential to be misunderstood was enormous.  If I was more restrained, would the immediacy and honesty be lost, would readers have any awareness of the complex dynamics in play which created Cissy’s environment?
Along the way Cissy, encased in the cloth of golden prose I had created for her, was sent out into the world to be edited. It was a cold, harsh experience. The first editor didn’t like the book, said it was far too explicit. Demoralised, feeling small and that Cissy was tarnished, I revised many of the passages so that they were less likely to offend the sensibilities of her potential readership. In the process Cissy became a tame and inhibited version of the real thing, lacking frankness and vitality.
A couple of beta-readers gave Cissy and me a shot in the arm, kind and encouraging in their acceptance of her for what she was, a beginner feeling her way in the world, but with good bones. I felt stronger as I sent her out to meet her second editor, the cloth of golden possibility restored from around her ankles to drape gracefully across her shoulders.  Although the second editor liked her well enough she thought Cissy lacked detail.  The subtle references to passionate interludes and flaming exchanges were not explicit enough, she wanted specifics. In short, her opinion was completely the reverse of the first editor.
And so I learned a valuable lesson:  ultimately I must hold onto my own  voice, I must send my darlings out into the world wrapped in the best cloth of gold I can give them, and editors’ opinions are just that, they are not the word of God.
And then that magical moment, when the first beautiful books arrived on my doorstep at seven o’clock in the morning. The tea and toast went cold as I mooned over those gleaming manifestations of the most creative achievement of my life. Maybe you more experienced writers with numerous titles sustaining your sense of well being no longer feel as I did then, but I admit freely, the satisfaction I feel whenever I look at a copy of Cissy is as rich as it was that first winter morning.
It was not enough. Cissy had not been presented to the world, was not Known. I felt bereft; as if one of my precious children, created with so much of my own life force, deserving of acknowledgement, was being ignored. Circumstances precluded having a launch at the time the first books arrived and as time went by it seemed that Cissy might miss out. But – last week I passed through the last rite of passage for a new book – the Launch. Once again others expressed their opinion, pointing out launches are a waste of money and sales don’t compensate for the outlay. They didn’t understand, did they? A launch is not a money making venture. This was a celebration of the transition of this work of art from being a dream in my mind to being a tangible entity ready to go out into the world and create a life of its own. 
I see this book as being rich with promise, blessed with the love and good wishes of all those who attended the launch, as a baby is by those who attend a christening. Finally, unequivocally, it is real.


Friday, 5 December 2014

Randy Ingermanson (The Snowflake Guy) shows how to plan your year.

Organization: Make Your Annual Plan Now

Nothing is more important to your writing business than making an annual plan.

Even if you don’t follow it completely. (You won’t.)


Even if your year takes a drastic left turn. (It will.)


Even if you bite off way more than you can chew. (You greedy dog, you.)


Those pesky motivational geeks constantly tell us that “if you don’t have a target, you’ll never hit it.” It’s a platitude, but they’re right, curse them.


It may take you five years to do all the stuff you foolishly cram into your annual plan. That can be frustrating, but so what? Life is full of frustrations, and then you die. Being frustrated is better than dying, so don’t sweat the frustrations.


First Things First


There’s one thing you should do before you make that annual plan for next year. Haul out the one you made last year (if you made it), and look at it. Read the whole thing. 


What went right for you this past year? Was that part of the plan, or was it one of those serendipity things that fell into your path? 


What went wrong? Was that something you could have predicted, or did it just come out of left field?


Did you achieve everything in last year’s plan? If so, then bravo. If not, then you may have aimed too high. That’s not so tragic. Aiming high is a good thing.


Did you make a reasonable effort to execute your plan? How many hours did you actually put in? (If you don’t know, then now would be a good time to set up some kind of tool to track your hours. A lot of writers use a spreadsheet, and that works pretty well. I use an online tool at that makes it easy to track my time and pay myself an hourly wage for every different kind of task. This costs me $9/month, but I think it’s well worth it.)


Looking back at 2014, I see that I only accomplished a small fraction of the things in my plan. But they were the right things. I edited and rereleased three books from my backlist and wrote one new book. As a direct result, my writing revenue for 2014 shot up rather drastically over 2013. I averaged about 90 hours per month on my writing work, which was more than I averaged at my day job. 


I’d rate the year a success, even though I only completed 4 of the 14 items on my list. The important thing is that I worked hard and felt happy working on the projects I chose. It’s a bonus that my revenue took a leap upward.


One Thing to Remember


Bear in mind that there are things you have control over and things you don’t.


You can’t control whether some publisher somewhere decides to buy your work. (This is why indie authors like being indie—they don’t have to depend on what a publishing committee decides.)


You can’t control how many people are going to buy your book.


You can’t control sickness, family problems, and all the random stuff that happens to you.


You can control (mostly) how many hours you put into your writing. 


You can control what projects you work on. 


You can control what sort of marketing plan you make and whether you execute it. 


Now Make Your Plan For Next Year


Let’s keep this simple and shoot for the sure thing first. Write down the answers to the following questions:


  1. What’s the one fantastic thing you’d like to achieve next year that’s actually in your control? 
  2. What sort of outcome do you expect from it? (That is, will it likely earn you money and if so, what’s a reasonable amount to expect? It’s okay to guess here.)
  3. How much time and money will it reasonably cost you to achieve this goal?
  4. Do you actually have that much time and money available in the year? If you have time and money left over, then go ahead and repeat the above questions as many times as you want, until you’ve run out of time or money to execute them all.

That’s your annual plan for the year, in a nutshell. It won’t hurt to write it up in a document. It won’t hurt to put your major goals on a sheet of paper and post them over your computer, so you see them every day.


I did the above steps just now and immediately saw that I was hoping to do far more than is humanly possible next year. I can’t do ten major projects next year. I can do two. 


I also realized that my #2 project has a predicted return on investment that’s massively higher than the ROI for my #1 project. 


So I’m rethinking things to move the bigger revenue-generator closer to the beginning of the year. Money is time. The more money you earn, the more time you free up to do what you love doing most. 


In 2015, track your progress and review it monthly. Are you putting in as much time as you thought you would? Are things taking longer than expected? 


If you do your annual plan now, well before the New Year begins, you can hit the ground running on January 1. And have a great year.

This article is reprinted by permission of the author. You can read the full piece here.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 10,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit



Saturday, 29 November 2014

Bev Robitai has a dream for local bookshops

I dream of the day when bookshops return to their roots, selling books by local authors to local readers. No longer in thrall to large corporations pumping the same high-profile titles around the world, but able to choose titles that are in tune with the lives of their readers.

I dream of discerning readers who will explore new writers without the powerful thrust of advertising to tell them what to buy. Readers who will pick up a book, read the cover, flick through a few pages and say ‘this sounds like me – I’ll take a chance and buy it.’

I dream of a strong national culture to enhance the lives of those who live in this country, reflecting the world they live in, speaking their language. Yes, the books will still be shaped in part by overseas influences – in our international world that’s unavoidable – but our reading doesn’t have to be limited to what American and European publishers dictate for us.

There is a growing stream of excellent books being produced by independent authors and I dream that they will find good homes in the hands of delighted readers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that process saved our local bookshops along the way?

Bev Robitai

Friday, 21 November 2014

An Overview of Self Publishing - Bev Robitai

  • Write your book, being creative and artistic and inventive, using beautiful language to tell engaging stories. Allow your imagination full rein and use as many words as you need to tell the story.
  • Stop being an artist and become an editor. Shape, modify, improve. Pare back to the essentials to make the story stronger. Have you added too many details of that research that was just too fascinating to leave out? If it's not essential for the story - cut it.
  • Decide on the production process – what can you tackle yourself and what will you need help with? You can pay others to do the publishing tasks, or you can up-skill and handle most of them yourself.
  • Open accounts on, (for print) and Kindle Direct Publishing (for Kindle ebooks.)
  • Format and publish your ebook and/or print book. For help with that I can recommend A Reassuring Guide to Self Publishing - (shameless sales plug, sorry!) - Amazon link
  • Send the obligatory copies to your national archive and list it on book databases for retail and library suppliers.
  • If sales are important to you, work on promotion. Enlist the help of all your contacts to spread the word on social media. Be active online.
  • Write the next book.
Got all that? Great! Get going!
And good luck,
Bev Robitai

Saturday, 8 November 2014

News from Jenny Harrison in far-flung Te Aroha

For a number of years, I was fortunate in being part of a very creative, very productive writer’s group in Auckland, the Mairangi Writers’ Group. (If you’re reading this blog then you probably know them.) Over the years the members have published more than forty titles; novels, non-fiction, poetry and short stories. The group also organises seminars and presentations. They know their stuff. At present there are twelve very committed members who meet once a fortnight to critique and workshop their stuff. I am now the Country Cousin, having recently moved from the city to the small, idyllic, peaceful and very rural town of Te Aroha.
The town nestles in the foothills of a mountain, Mount Te Aroha, which apparently mean the Mountain of Love. There is a population of around four thousand, a lot of them ‘Wrinklies’ who have retired from the city and are looking to a more peaceful, less stressed lifestyle. What can be more serene than a little village with no traffic, no peak hour, no police sirens?

Are these residents sitting back and vegetating? No, sirree!
There are a large number of arty crafty people down here; painters, photographers, quilters and a gentleman who turns scrap metal into works of art. (Adrian Worsley is actually very good. If you’re down this way anytime make sure you pop into his art gallery Historic Creations. Adrian kind of sets the bar for creativity in Te Aroha.) There are a few art galleries and various displays of art work. In December there is going to be a “Words Live and Art Show Summer Fest” in which moi will be participating.

But there are no writers, or if there are, they’re in hiding. So, I played with the idea of starting a writers’ group; talked to a few people about it. Before I could safely retreat from the thought, I had five very keen ladies wanting to start.
Now, what to do with them and their enthusiasm? I suspect there are among them a few who would like to be “taught” how to write without really having to do much about it. I am going to have to excite them enough to become committed and serious writers. In the coming months, I will be trying my damnedest to get a number of keen first-timers to take their creativity seriously, write something worthwhile and finally publish it.
Will these enthusiastic ladies be up for it?
Watch this space … !

Jenny Harrison

Friday, 7 November 2014

Writers make miracles, says Maureen Green

Writers create something out of nothing and turn themselves inside out to do just that.
Just as a newborn babe is a unique combination of heredity and environment connected with, but different from its parents, written works are too a unique combination derived from, but not limited to, the author's wisdom and cultural heritage.
The miracle of fiction happens when you believe in yourself, and believe in the thousands of years of traditions that reflect the human need to tell stories. You've probably heard talk about 'formulas' and thought, "I don't want to follow a formula. I want to write my own stories."
Genre conventions are forms not formulas. Form is a structure. The traditional storytelling structures are not meant to imprison, just hold them. Genre conventions are as flexible and powerful as the imagination.
Me, I like to delve into all written forms and often curl up with poetry, classic and modern. The succinct stories they tell expresses lofty thought or impassioned feeling delivered in imaginative words.
Like prose, poetry can start from any seed. The following poem is one that touched me.

                         Left Over

Odd, how when abroad

We always slept the other way round.

You on my right

Or was I on your left?

Me the southpaw,

And you the dexterous logician

Protecting each other.

And in our own beds, it was always

You on the left or was I on your right?

An equal partnership of power

Secure at home.

Now I lie awake

And you sleep outside

Cold ashes under the stars


And, on lighter note, one of my own published works.


 Morning delight

I heard a kookaburra this morning

In the heart of a bustling metropolis.

Stirred from that place between sleep and waking

Where fantasy and reality merge

I heard it ring loud and clear

Above the thrum of rubber on wet tarmac

And, the clack, clack of metal wheels on rails

Forming a ground base to its song.

Noisy bloody city husband mumbled

Rolled over,

Muffled the sounds with his pillow.

Chalk and cheese we are.

Amidst the hustle and bustle in the waking city

I'm glad I heard that kookaburra’s song.

Maureen Green


Monday, 3 November 2014

Evan Andrew asks Whatever Happened to an Idyllic Spring!

As I sit shivering, reluctant to turn the heating on, (it's October after all,) I look out of the window and feel gloomier than ever. When July began we were all congratulating ourselves on a wonderful autumn and the first month of winter, which was the warmest on record. Well, as we all know it started raining, and continued on through August and September, though we had the odd spring-like day that lifted our spirits, and our hopes rose. Surely by now, we hopefully thought, we would have some sunshine and warmth, not continuing grey, gloomy cold wet weather. I rashly put some of my winter clothes away, only to haul them back out again, and my spring garden is suffering. The sweet peas are sulking, the roses confined to tight buds, there is no sign of the scallopini, climbing beans, and as for the tomato plants... forget it!

I know I do most of my writing in the winter, when it's snug to be inside when it's cold and wet outside, like  most other writers I know.  I have recently completed my fourth novel, which I feel I have laboured on forever, called, 'Beware of The Dragon,' and wait in eager anticipation for the first books to arrive, and cannot settle yet to start the fifth. As life has been hectic and topsy turvy to say the least over the last month,  I am trying to be 'ever so cheerful,' but the continuing gloom is making it 'ever so difficult!'

I remember other Labour weekends when the sun shone, and I went swimming, (even got sunburnt,) but not this year though.

Anyway, here I am writing this blog, trying desperately to think of something witty and instructive to enlighten the reader. Regretfully nothing is coming to mind, so I think I will put on my winter jacket and go for a wild and windy, but hopefully restorative walk along the beach, and shiver watching the hardy wind surfers etc having  a ball in the rough conditions.

Ah well, one man's meat ...
What the heck! Just looked out of the window and it's now raining! I think I'll just light the fire instead.

Evan Andrew

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Poetry from Monique - When Hindsight Hurts

For a change of pace, here's a poem from one of our newer members, Monique.

When Hindsight Hurts

Hindsight offers me a gleaming glimpse of what may have been my future
Shimmering in the realms of possibilities lost – vanished – never to return
The path I rejected was so attractive to me, it sparkled with the promise of happiness
Yet fear of circumstances that had not yet appeared frightened me away
I didn’t feel strong enough to accept what could happen; the failure that may ensue
Unequipped on many levels to face what might have happened
So I veered down an alternative route, a gravelly road
 A less appealing route, alas one the ignorance of youth perceived a safer option
One that would keep my ego intact, protecting it from the unpleasantness of failure
Upon reflection I wince at the cowardly actions of that person that called herself me many years before
Life has turned 360 degrees since then and she is alien to the me I know now.
Sometimes I feel bewildered with disbelief that the same person can make decisions so foreign.
However bitter the pill of yesteryear is to swallow, swallow it I did
And when I wonder why I was too feeble to advocate for the path that sparkled with so much promise
I remind myself that I chose the path that allowed me to become the wise woman that I am today
The enlightenment is cold but true, that simmering beneath the surface of my choices
The nature of life acts subliminally to secure growth, wisdom and wonder
Succeed I did to become somebody I want to be – I only wish there had been a less stony path.

Monique Constable

Monday, 20 October 2014

Jean Allen's alias has a Bad Day!

 Chapter 7,846 of Caffeine Kate’s Bad Day book.

Caffeine Kate woke up this morning after a bad night’s sleep.
I shouldn’t have read so late. I shouldn’t have read at 2am or 4.30am either.  
She wandered out into the kitchen to drown her grotty self in a glass of water.   Three gulps later her charming husband, Bad Dan, said, “What happened to your hair? It looks like a dog’s breakfast.”
I shouldn’t have come into the kitchen before I went to the bathroom.
The phone rang. Their Accountant’s cheerful voice chirped down the phone, “How are you coming along with that book number count?”
Caffeine Kate grabbed a cup of three-spoon-sugared coffee and waited for the ‘busy-busy’ rush to kick in.
I shouldn’t have had coffee so early. I’m trying to keep it down to two a day. The sun shone. The birds sang. The bees buzzed. Bad Dan retreated to the garage while Kate madly re-counted her unsold books over a cup of coffee.
I shouldn’t be drinking this coffee with the bench still covered in dirty dishes.
Kate put the plug and the detergent in the sink, turned on the taps and hurried down to the bedroom to get her empty, middle of the night, teacup by her bed. There she found her scribbled list of book numbers, lying on the floor. She picked them up and decided she had better check her midnight work. Seconds later she drifted through the kitchen door … stopped; and screamed for Bad Dan. Sudsy water streamed out of the overflowing sink, over the bench, down the cupboard doors, into the cupboards and all over the kitchen floor. 
I shouldn’t have left the taps on! Pull the plug, Kate! Grab towels! Big towels!  An hour and a half later, cupboards bare and contents washed, Caffeine Kate and Bad Dan sat in the lounge drinking another cup of coffee while they wondered why everything had turned so bad.
“Think I’ll go fishing!” Bad Dan muttered.
I shouldn’t have kept reading that old Dick Francis ‘Rat Race’ mystery until three in the morning. I shouldn’t have got out of bed today! I shouldn’t have drunk so much coffee! I shouldn’t be talking to myself …

This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping you enjoyed that book you read too late last night.  

With apologies from Officer in Charge who forgot to post this on Friday. Must need more sleep myself!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Barbara Algie definitely has "IT"!

Are you sitting waiting for ‘it’ now – like me? Will ‘it’ eventually arrive? What are you going to do if ‘it’ never turns up? ‘It’s is such an ephemeral thing ‘it’ sometimes comes out of the blue but quickly turns to despondency if ‘it’ never eventuates.
All of us spend a lot of our time, maybe even years, waiting for ‘it’ to strike. If and when ‘it’ does you’re usually away laughing. So try to be ready for ‘it’. Make sure you have pad and pencil in your bag, or pocket, when you go shopping for ‘it’ is everywhere. Frazzled mothers are coping with even more frazzled children whilst at the other end of the scale elderly couples are coping with what they have left of their twilight years. Rita Hayworth of the Silver Screen was once known as the ‘IT GIRL’ along with Betty Grable and Clara Bow, but because not everyone is blessed with their sexy vital statistics all this proves is there are a number of very different kinds of ‘it’.
Acquiring ‘it’ is easy – using ‘it’ is the hard part. Keep a pad and pencil beside your bed, for I’ve known people wake from a deep sleep and shout ‘That’s ‘it!’ in the middle of the night.
Mostly they decide it’s not worth risking chilblains by padding round the house in bare feet so by morning ‘it’s’ gone.
‘It’ could be any number of fanciful things, from the lyrics of a song that will top the charts, to that close friend whose name you couldn’t remember a week ago.
According to the English Encyclopedic Dictionary ‘it’ may be a range of things from ‘communication of ideas’ to ‘breathing/rapture/enthusiasm/genius’ and, finally, ‘poetical conceptions of a supernatural source’ - now that’s more like it. What is ‘it?’ INSPIRATION!!!
Being a lark I rise early and sit hoping, hoping whilst the owls of this world burn the midnight oil searching, ever searching. So sit down in front of your computer and type the first thing that comes into your mind – you never know ‘it’ could be the first chapter of the rest of your life. They do say ‘Use it or lose it’ – your choice.’
Barbara Algie

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

If I only had time

Vicky Adin on history and heritage

I was clearing out my inbox and trashing files off my desktop and the old John Rowles song – If I only had time – popped into my head. The lyrics are fitting.

I was wishing for more time to do all the necessary things, the things expected of me, and things I would have liked to do. So I was really sorry to have to ditch a wonderful flyer about Auckland’s Heritage Festival.  I would go but I’m not in the country. But you could. It’s on right now. Did you know?

Time is an insidious little beasty. We never get any more of it never mind how hard we try. How many times has someone said to you, ‘sorry can’t catch up now, I haven’t got time. Maybe later.’? But it doesn’t happen, and you drift a little further apart because there isn’t the time to make the connection.

Yet time isn’t something we can manufacture, we have to prioritise to make the most of the time available to us. So, the necessities get done and in the rush and bustle of life, we miss out on so much more. And often we miss out on what makes us human: people and their stories.

As an avid reader, I struggle when people tell me they haven’t time to read. I would give up a television programme any day of the week to read. I fill in every spare minute I have with reading, but that’s me. I don’t write because I read, or read because I write, but both are an essential part of who I am.

Genealogy, as I’m sure you know by now, is also a part of me. I love to know about people, what happened to them, what struggles they had, and how their life impacted on future generations. As ours does today.

This year the theme for the Auckland Heritage Festival to honour the centenary of the start of the First World War is 'courage has many resting places.'

But it’s more that the story of war. The website says: The Auckland Heritage Festival 2014 reminds us that we are collectively the best kaitiaki (guardians) and advocates of our own history. It is up to us to protect and conserve our heritage for future generations, and I couldn’t agree more.

There are over 200 events: demonstrations and workshops, displays and exhibitions, entertainment, performances and films, and walks and talks. And if you want something a bit different, there’s something of offer for you too.

Many of the events are free, some are ideas to do things that are always there but we don’t think about and some events are specific to the Festival and designed to cater for all ages. Take a look at this list as an example

It’s the school holidays, take the children and the grandparents out for the day and discover how much each generation has to offer the other when discussing a past event. You will be surprised.

Then please, please, come back and tell me what you discovered. You never know, it might appear in the next book.

The Festival is on until 12 October. Be surprised.

Vicky Adin


Education in Civics for Secondary School Students

Pam Laird wants Civics in Secondary Schools

Thinking back on the unpleasant juxtaposition of ‘Values’ (or lack of them) and 'Politics’ during the run-up to the recent election, it would appear that New Zealand is sadly lacking in the teaching and understanding of acceptable communal ‘thought and action.’

Somewhere along the way in the last fifty years or so, the previous home teaching of consideration for others and awareness of behaviour on the streets or play-ground seem to have been lost.

We now have citizens from 213 ethnic groups in this country, each one of them will have a different slant on what is desirable citizen behaviour. Therefore it seems to be imperative that for lack of such teachings in many private homes a single code of ethics be taught in schools.

I believe there is a base for this in primary schools, long may it last.

In Athens, Socrates (circa 469BC) taught the true meaning of justice and courage. He also taught critical thinking skills in order to open the minds of his students to other ways to view society.

Then there was Plato, (437.) Among other things he taught philosophy. He spoke of ideas, ideals, senses, the soul, pleasure and much more. If the Greek philosophers of the day developed a wise and stunning nation from their early thinkers, including Aristotle who taught metaphysics and logical thinking, why cannot our young have such topics included in their curricula?

There are also more modern thinkers such as Albert Schweitzer, Elizabeth Anscombe (1958) and Bertrand Russell.

Schweitzer Quotes:

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.


One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.


The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.

Why are our NZ educationists so frightened of enlightening the secondary students of our schools? A huge base already established is available on which to establish tried and true moral principles. Then, should our rights as citizens be compromised, we are fortified with the knowledge, integrity and confidence to stand tall and question such incursions into our belief systems.

According to,  ‘Civics Education in NZ’ there are ……… Quote:

Links to the curriculum

Civics Education has links to the social sciences curriculum. The ideas for teachers provide a framework for further development for students to gain the knowledge, skills and experience outlined in the achievement objective.

These activities, and the content on the website, may align with other big ideas /concepts, such as human rights (Level 5), social justice (Level 6), and government (Levels 5 -8).

The activities could be adapted to suit the needs of students working at levels 3-4 of the New Zealand Curriculum.

My heart sinks at the line ‘may align with other big ideas,’ ‘could be adapted,’ etc. How wishy washy is that? When are we going to teach pride and backbone in this country so never again are we high-jacked by ‘a walking mound’ out to bring the government to its knees?

Pam Laird

Monday, 22 September 2014

How to link your Blog Posts to Facebook

This is a brave experiment . Let's see if I can successfully create a link to get our blog posts to show up onto our Let's Buy Books Facebook page. I've Googled the possible procedures, tried them out, and the first few failed miserably when the screens that appeared on following the instructions bore no resemblance to the sample illustrations. But persistence is the key to beating unhelpful technology so I'm trying another approach. And another. The trick is not to give up - or to find someone who knows more about it than you do!

If this test post fails it's time for the Final Solution...ask The Husband. Let's see how we go...
Success!!! And The Husband is impressed! The solution, for those who want to do the same, is to set up an account on Twitterfeed and make the connections there. Here's the link to the instructional video I followed.
Phew. Time for a celebratory whisky I think.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Vicky Adin asks - What makes you give up on a book?

How many times have you said, “Oh, I give up. I can’t get into this book, it’s too…” Too what? Slow? Descriptive? Can you even put your finger on what the problem is?

 I rarely give up on a book. Even if I find it initially disappointing I still prefer to give the author some credit and hope that something about the story will captivate me, and I’m usually rewarded by my efforts.

 The one thing that will have me ditching a book is bad grammar and spelling errors. There is no forgiveness for that. An author has a responsibility to their readers to make sure the book is as perfectly presented as humanly possible, even if they have to pay megabucks to achieve that result. Excuses about always being a bad speller don’t wash. The one book that was eventually forgiven for such blatant misdemeanours was Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes” where the author deliberately didn’t use any punctuation for either narrative or dialogue to make a point.

 There have been times when I’ve put a book aside because I’m not in the mood for that genre or writing style, only to come back to it at another time and really enjoy it. It’s worth a try. So the next time you aren’t sure about a book, give it a rest and try later.  Kerri Hulme’s ‘The Bone People’ fitted that category - gritty but compelling, at times whimsical and self-indulgent but realistic. Janet Frame was another author that fitted my dislike/like mood.

 Having said that there are times when I was right to put it aside. It’s usually the genre that I don’t like rather than the author. Elizabeth Knox’s ‘Vintners Luck’ was one of those. I can’t criticize her skill as a writer, but it was not ‘my thing.’ What books have you tried that are not ‘your thing’?

 At times I just need a light read that will not require too much thought. Sometimes a story like that will resonate, but mostly I will forget large chunks of it, and I’m terrible at remembering the ending of quick and easy reads. I’m like that with jokes. I know I know a good one, but always forget the punch line. Because of that, I like large books with long saga style stories that take me on journeys that I can live through and travel along with. Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ (Cross-Stitch) series and Sara Donati’s ‘Into the Wilderness’ series are two such authors that have long running sagas with the same characters. Monica McInenary is another family saga author I enjoy, although she tends to wraps her stories up within one book.

 Nevertheless, a story that resonates enough will have me re-reading it at a later date never mind how long and involved, or how lightweight it first appeared. I often find a well-written story that is easy to read and I find I’ve reached the end before I’ve really taken in all the characters and their quirks, is the one that lives with me and I need to go back and fill in the gaps I missed.  

 But what I look for most in a book is to feel emotion. I don’t necessarily need to have the adrenalin pumping, I don’t need gore or salacious sex scenes: I want truth. I like a story that either is based on a true story; that is realistic to the time and place, and captures the feelings of the characters, but most importantly, one that is well written.

 What books have you loved and hated, and why?

Vicky Adin





Saturday, 13 September 2014

Getting your book out there.

One of the things new authors struggle with once they’ve got through the labyrinth of self-publishing is ‘what do I do now?’ You have a box or three of printed books – how do you get them to readers?

 The first task is to get your book listed on as many databases as possible, starting with the New Zealand National Library. If you obtained your ISBN from them you are obliged to send them two printed copies of the book, and even if you used an overseas ISBN it’s still worth sending copies to them as it will get your title listed on the library’s database. This is a resource for shops and libraries to find titles and publisher contact details to place orders. Download the legal deposit form from the National Library website, print it off and send it with the copies. If your book is in ebook format as well, email the form and the ebook file to the address on the form. Here's their website

Wheelers – a nationwide distributor and current exclusive supplier to Auckland libraries. They too have a new title form for you to fill in and email them. They will handle both print and ebooks.

Nielsen Book Data – an international book database.

Unity Books in Wellington supply libraries.

All Books NZ in  Christchurch

Once you’re listed with those, bookstores and libraries will be able to order your books. Now the hard part is to make them WANT to! Reader requests are your best tool here so plead with anyone and everyone to ask for your book at their local library – it does work.

Good luck!

Bev Robitai