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Friday, 31 July 2015

Mairangi Writers’ On Display at Take Note Bookstore

Mairangi Writers’ is an active group of twelve committed authors who like to keep pace with the constantly changing world of writing. Originally formed thirty-five years ago, the current group now meets once a fortnight at the Browns Bay RSA.

With over forty titles available among them, in both fiction and non-fiction and across all genres, the group’s work is on display at Malcolm’s Take Note in Mairangi Bay from 3 August for two weeks. Call in and see the display – you might even meet one of the authors there, if you are lucky.

Mairangi Writers’ is a multi-talented group, boasting a professional conference organiser, a photographer/cover designer, and a professional journalist and magazine editor as well as a formatter and layout designer - all skills essential to successful independent publishing.

At the meetings, each member reads their work aloud, which the group then critiques. From time to time, they invite publishers, book designers, distributors, agents and other professionals to talk to their group to keep up to date. Outside of the meetings, members help each other by ‘beta-reading’ and proofreading completed manuscripts prior to publication.

Mairangi Writers’ holds book launches and seminars, has a presence at writers’ festivals, gives readings at schools and libraries, as well as giving talks to service groups and clubs.

If you would like to hear a member of Mairangi Writers’ talk to your group, please contact one of the members below.

Their books are available locally, as print-on-demand and e-books on Amazon and through their sales site,


Look out for Mairangi Writers’ next time they are ‘On Display’:

3-4th October 2015

North Shore Events Centre.

Don’t miss it.



Over the years, many aspiring writers have asked to participate in the group’s meetings. Unfortunately, due to lack of space it has had to restrict numbers to twelve. There are currently no spaces available. However, the group is happy to assist fellow writers, and often invite aspiring writers to attend the group for one meeting to observe.

If any writers wish to set up their own group with the initial help of the Mairangi group, Contact Jean Allen on 09 4735910 or Vicky Adin

The following are alternative options:

U3A Creative Writing Group. Contact Elaine


International Writers Workshop. Contact Barbara


Authors Mouth. Contact Maureen


Friday, 24 July 2015

A Writer's Worries - Gay Rothwell

I wonder how many writers when working on a book whether it be fiction or non-fiction, get pangs of fear that they won’t be able to deliver the goods. If it is a first book of course it’s understandable to have these fears, but what if it’s a recurring theme when writing every book?

The one I am working on at the moment is about an important historical event and it is probably the most important book I will ever write. It’s about an English girl who was an agent with the Special Operations Executive in World War Two – a clandestine organisation set up by Winston Churchill in 1940 to “set Europe ablaze.”

My heroine, Diana Rowden, volunteered to be dropped into enemy-occupied France to be a courier for a resistance circuit in the Jura, a beautiful area of south-west France on the border of France and Switzerland. She worked tirelessly, travelling all over the country keeping just one step ahead of the Gestapo – a job fraught with constant danger.

Unfortunately her luck ran out when she and her radio operator were denounced to the Germans. After being imprisoned for several months Diana, together with three other girls was taken to Natzweiler, the only Concentration camp on French soil, and executed in a most brutal fashion.

This is a serious work which I have spent the better part of 18 months writing and researching. I even travelled to the other side of the world in the hope of gaining crucial information.

When writing about history you have a responsibility to do the best job you can. A lot depends on producing a book which is high-quality and well-researched that people will actually want to read and enjoy reading.

So I have to do the best I can to do to give Diana the justice she deserves. I have to be meticulous because when writing history there is no room for error. There are too many people just waiting to come down on you like hot bricks if you make a mistake!

And I have a responsibility to all the people who helped me so much who have been so generous with their time, especially the two dear French sisters, Claude and Christiane who looked after me during my stay in France.

Have I given it my best shot… have I done enough? These are thoughts which go through my head all the time. Do I need to dig deeper?  I’ll have to wait and see.

Gay Rothwell

Friday, 17 July 2015

How to Look Like You Belong Online

The new world of social media, email, Twitter and Facebook is hard to get your head around, especially if you’ve been forced to confront it ah, let’s say late in life. You want to get involved but sometimes you do the wrong thing and a patient colleague or sighing grandchild will point it out to you, making you feel bad. Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid some of the common blunders.

On Facebook, don’t post replies to other people’s posts in your own status box. If you do that it will show up on all your friends’ pages as a separate item that bears no relation to the item you posted about. When you want to comment on something someone else has posted, use the comment box directly beneath their post. Or to reply to a comment that’s already there, click on the word ‘reply’ to get a new box you can type into.

On both Facebook and email, don’t share any article that screams ‘tell everyone!!!!!’  without checking it first. Almost every time, that dramatic plea to ‘please share with everyone you know…THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE’ is either a hoax or a total waste of time. How can you find out? Here’s a typical email warning.

[Collected via e-mail, November 2014]


Feel free to pass this along to anyone you want. Better safe than sorry.


GPS left on dashboard in the sun - WOW! Keep those electronics with Lithium Batteries out of the sun!!!!!!!!


Looks like a good lesson to learn. I would bet this also applies to Cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, and other devices that use lithium batteries. You think this may be a reason why the US Postal Service will not ship electronic devices that contain lithium batteries any longer?


GPS was placed in its bracket in the windshield and left in the sun. The battery overheated and exploded!


Can you say "Totaled"?


Gosh, that sounds serious. Several of my friends have GPS in their car. Should I warn them right away? NO! Check it first by taking the key words from the message that cover what it’s about, like ‘GPS dashboard fire’ and type them into Google. You should see a whole set of articles on the subject from a range of sites, and good ones to look for are or hoaxbusters.

Here’s the GPS fire link at so you can see the true story.

Just spending a few minutes browsing through the Snopes site will arm you with all the latest hoax stories doing the rounds and help you to recognise new ones.

Don’t be discouraged or put off from sharing things online – everyone likes a good inspirational quote or a picture of a rainbow, and there are great benefits to be had from your online friends. As a writer I have a wonderful and supportive community at my fingertips every day, always quick with a pat on the back for success or a word of sympathy when times are hard. Follow me on and I’ll be nice, I promise!


Bev Robitai

Monday, 13 July 2015

For writers moving house - advice from Erin McKechnie

Distractions From Writing (But no hints on how to avoid them.)

If your core objective is to write as much as possible to complete the book you have now been working on for so long you can’t remember why you ever thought it was a good idea, do not put your house on the market. (Well, that’s one hint.) It is a huge distraction.  All of a sudden, instead of sailing out the kitchen door safe in the knowledge that all your mess will lie about comfortably on the bench in the sun for the day, you will feel compelled to tidy absolutely everything away. The same applies to the rest of the house, especially the bedroom. The linen must be colour co-ordinated and fresh every time someone walks into the room, and it simply is not acceptable to sling you pj’s over the hook on the back of the door. The bathroom is the worst; despite more water being sloshed around in this room than in the rest of the house combined, no drip must darken any surface. The towels must all be white, fluffy and never used, and the shower base must sparkle like jewels in the royal crown. In fact, the agent assures me, it is the crowning jewel in the house; sales proceed or fall on the appearance of the bathroom.

This slavish attention to detail means you don’t get near your computer until the middle of the morning at the very earliest, and then you have to knock off again in the early afternoon to cook, because, despite all the hype about playing soothing music and having the aroma of fresh cooking wafting from the oven, getting caught snivelling over the chopped onions as you prepare the family’s favourite lambs fry and bacon doesn’t cut it. It is astounding how many prospective buyers can only view properties at dinner time.

After weeks of agonising in limbo land someone finally makes an offer, less than you wanted, but enough – and at last you are able to put all your energy into packing. If you are unlucky as I was, the house you are purchasing doesn’t settle for three weeks after you have to move out. Slinging things into the back of the car to get them across town must be easier than packing to go into storage. And I am sure, the keyboard for your computer won’t get lost if you are able to only transfer your most treasured possession once.

It’s wonderful to have family come to stay from the other end of the country; however, regardless of how much you love your grandchildren, they do not help you to unpack. They want to play at the beach and ride the bike which is kept at your house just for them, and you will want to go and do things with them. But gumboots, sand digging tools and favourite bed time books do not rise to the top of the pile of their own volition and neither do keyboards.

Think seriously before you get rid of your old desk, even though you know it won’t go through the door of the new house without being dismantled.  Buying a new desk is fraught. Such as, the box won’t go into your car and so the excitement of setting up your new work corner is delayed until somebody with a bigger vehicle can collect it for you from the store. However, I thought this desk, once in the house, was a breeze. I scrambled around on my hands and knees happily screwing parts together as instructed and within no time had an upside down desk in my den. I could not lift it. My partner couldn’t help, he’d put his back out shoving his own desk around. There it stayed for a week, upside down in the middle of the room waiting for someone to help me turn it upright. But - as we pushed it into place the legs I had so blithely screwed into place a week earlier snapped off.

Another hint – do not schedule elective surgery into the same time frame as moving house. The only thing worse than a mountain of packed boxes is not being able to do anything about them. Especially because you know – the elusive key board is in there somewhere.

Erin McKechnie.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Pam Laird on Organ Donation

 Is There Anyone There?


Recently I was part of a discussion re the success or otherwise of Organ Transplant in New Zealand. There are a number of aspects to this not-so-well publicised act of public benevolence.

  1. Donor
  2. Recipient
  3. Availability/condition of organ
  4. Information
  5. Consent (both parties)
  6. Ethics
  7. Hospital/surgeon availability
  8. Racial/family taboos
  9. Payment or not. This list is only a small section of a highly debatable/ emotional topic.


            My concern is the ability or otherwise of any given hospital to deal with what would be a highly technical and time-fragile surgical procedure.

            Judging by the recent public airing of the topic, it is apparent that given all the above conditions are positive and a go-go, if the hospital doesn’t have a theatre available or is not fitted out for the purpose, or even worse, there is no recognised team on tap, all optimistic plans may simply fail at that point.

            The second option becomes the transport of the patient or the organ(s) to a more up to the minute specialist centre. If any one of the above requirements is challenging, at this point the next essential step is the viability of the organ. This depends on the pre-death condition of the donor, the type/viability of the organ and the condition of the recipient.

            None of this takes into account the weather for flights, the traffic at either end, the mobilisation of the team and the theatre. In other words, time is of the essence and I suspect in many places in NZ this might be impractical.

            My question is… With New Zealand holding one of the lowest rates of deceased organ donation in the Western world, ie 8.7 donations per million people compared to say Australia's 13.5 and the UK's 16.4, is this the problem? That because of transport difficulties we no longer hear of miraculous transplants in any number so the whole idea has fallen below the population’s line of vision?

            Could it be, we’re not geared up to clear the flight paths and highways in whichever arena is demanded so these precious gifts can make it ‘without let or hindrance’ to save the life, for example, of one of our people in distress?

            I do understand that all of the points made above can cause their own problems but if all is viable and we don’t have a rapid joining together of donated organ and ailing patient then that is a shameful state for our country to be in.

            A second reading of the ‘Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill’ (Party Vote) put forward by Dr Jackie Blue (National) was defeated in November 2007 by 70 noes to 49 ayes

            Please, can Parliament get this Bill back on the table for what would hopefully be a more informed and philanthropic decision for New Zealand and New Zealanders to aspire to.

Pam Laird