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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