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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

Friday, 5 September 2014

Helpful Articles and Blog Posts

Hi folks,
in the absence of a beautifully crafted, intelligent and inspiring blog post from any members of Mairangi Writers this week may I offer the substitute of similar things written by other experts? Check out these links for ideas, techniques, tips and traps.

This is a good article when you have trouble getting going.

2. Conquer the fear.

I believe most writer's block doesn't come from lack of inspiration. If you've sat down to write something, chances are you have something to say. The real problem is fear--fear that what you write will be ridiculed, or simply won't meet your own high standards.
My secret for overcoming that fear (yes, professional writers have it, too) is to put words down with a serious lack of commitment. This is what I'm writing as if it were my real work, but it's not, I'm going to change it later. Even if you do write something awful, once it's written, you will likely see how to make it better. --Minda ZetlinStart Me Up
Want to read more from Minda? Click here.
This covers several useful aspects of self-publishing, particularly this one...

5. It's tough getting your self-published book into book stores. As someone who has a publisher, I can tell you that getting placement for your book in a bookstore is hard. Bookstores only want to give space to proven authors. There’s a self-publishing company called Lighting Source, which has a relationship with Ingram books, the world’s largest book distributor. Ingram distributes books to all the major bookstores. Yes, Ingram can get your book in the bookstores catalog but not necessarily in the actual bookstore.

By the time you've read those and followed a few of the associated links you'll be inspired!
Thanks to Vicky Adin for the suggestions.
Keep on writing!