Educational Resource: A Winter's Day in 1939
- Educational Resource: The Were-Nana
- Educational Resource: The Half Life of Ryan Davis
- Educational Resource: Made With Love
- Educational Resource: The House That Went to Sea
- Educational Resource: A Winter's Day in 1939
- Educational Resource: While You Are Sleeping
- Educational Resource: The Song of Kauri
- Educational Resource: Fuzzy Doodle
- Book List - Complete List of my Publications
Monday, December 29, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
But whatever I think about aging and how it applies to me I can't complain about the fabulous lazy day I had on Boxing day. Friends and family texted best birthday wishes or rang me. It was a perfect sunny day. I didn't have to cook (my favourite birthday tradition) or prepare any food. My children didn't argue (only minor bickering). We shopped, I watched HSM2 on tv, did a jigsaw, lay around, ate and drank, and whooped with joy when that horrible contestant got eliminated on America's next top model. I got lots of hugs. It was all lovely. I wish everyday was my birthday except for the fact that my age would now be a ridiculous number. But then my age would be totally outrageous and therefore meaningless and maybe I wouldn't care about it at all. Still, I've got a whole year to get used to this age - I'll let you know how it pans out.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
So now for some end of year best ofs...Okay, i think Tania Hutley is right when she says that end of year lists are like stocking padding but if you haven't already heard, seen or read them I'd recommend these things. Best movie I've seen this year - Dark Knight. Best books I've read - The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, Catherine called Birdy by Karen Cushman, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Dave Levithan and some woman whose name i can't recall right now, and Slam by Nick Hornby. Also Monster by Walter Dean Myers and Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. I totally love picture books that make me cry. And if you are a New Zealander who can cope with some salty language and you haven't already seen every episode to date then go and borrow all the Outrageous Fortune DVDS from season 1 through to the end of season 4 and WATCH THEM. These people know how to tell a good story. There is lots of very good reasons why it is the longest running home grown television series ever.
And last but not least have a safe and happy christmas. Hug your loved ones, be zen and relax!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I've also resurrected an intermediate level thriller adventure novel. I hadn't realised how much I'd written (around 33 thousand words) and how likeable it was. I'd put it aside because a crucial element at the beginning didn't work throughout the story and needed replacing. The replacement needed to be able to fit with all the other plotting - not an easy task, but after 3 or 4 years I think I now know what might do the trick. And if the fix works I only need about another 5 to 10 thousand words to finish the story (and a bit of spit and polish to tidy things up of course). You never know what you might find when you look at what's in the bottom drawer. Things you'd forgotten about. Little bits of grit which have turned into pearls while your back has been turned and your focus fixed on other things. What were insurmountable obstacles a few years back when you were less experienced can now be seen with an eye and mind that have benefitted from the passing years. Maybe those stories time has come. So sometimes when the writing isn't coming together, when you want to biff the keyboard across the room in frustration and rip Roget in half, take a holiday in the bottom drawer, or under the bed or in the last file pocket of your cabinet. It can be very refreshing.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
So writing is being partly avoided and partly neglected. Its my core business and when writing is going well it makes me happy. I have given up on getting it sorted in 2008. Poor old 2009. A lot is expected of it already and it hasn't even started yet. Now I'm off to test what the low petrol warning light in the car actually means. Wish me luck.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Clear goals are: finish the two manuscripts I'm working on now and try generating a few short stories for the 2009 Random anthology and for School Journals and Magazines, scrape money together for September Children's Book Conference in Wellington, and make a website. Writer Tania Hutley has already got her website up and running after attending the Kiwiwrite4kidz marketing and presentation workshop just last weekend where having a website was whole heartedly recommended. I'd like to keep the momentum going with school visits and author talks/workshops too. If nothing else, 2008 has taught me greater persistence and adaptability in the face of uncertainty. I can't imagine what 2009 might bring but i feel ready for just about anything.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So the euphoria of the Kiwis rugby league world cup win has worn off now. Today I did a school visit today to the Stella Maris school in Silverdale where my sister teaches. My other sister acted as driver (cos as you know I turn into a chicken behind the drivers wheel) and my writer friend Tania Hutley came along as the Tonto to my Lone Ranger. We played a neat game with the kids of 'one of these things is not like the other' and i have to say the family resemblance is obviously not strong enough physically for the children to figure out straight off which of us was unrelated to the other three. Either that or Tania is actually my long lost sister. I'll have to talk to my Mum and Dad about that. I think things went pretty well, although by the end i thought my eyeballs would drop out, I felt so tired, and I suspect I was talking gibberish to the last lot but they were all too polite to say anything. I was extra excited by the first class who had just the day before finished having Jack the Viking read to them and with their very groovey teacher had been having all sorts of discussions prompted by the book. This is wildest dreams stuff where the story I've written has given them an opportunity to learn a whole lot of different things and taken them in all sorts of directions. All the times I've been excited, challenged or stretched by a book, I never imagined (and boy I've imagined a lot of things) my book would do that to someone else.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
But before I go I just want to say congratulations to the Kiwi's, who against the odds and expectations, beat their biggest rivals the Kangaroos to win the Rugby League World Cup on the weekend. And by a healthy margin too :)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I want to start wearing my christmas earrings and get the festive feeling too but November is just too early. Of course once December comes I'll be fretting about the christmas shopping. When Justine Larbalestier's new book 'How to Ditch Your Fairy' came out she did a few blog posts on what kind of fairy's her blog readers had and the ones they would like to have. I would like to have a gift-shopping-savant fairy - one that automatically knew what the ideal affordable gift was for any recipient. The one I seem to have is the ability-to-think-like-a-child-and-so-find-where-they-put-lost-objects fairy. Hmm, not as useful except on christmas day itself. Ah well. Best go and dig out the tinselly earrings in preparation.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
You all need to head over to Maureen Crisp's blog here today to be reminded about why you need to find out how to work this intermawebby thing. And australian wunderkind writer Lili Wilkinson's blog here is always worth a look too. I'm about to take my walking flea hotel for a trot up on Big King so I'm just going to post an old poem of mine today. Sorry its a bit sad...
For All the Lost Girls
They're calling my name
But I'm not her anymore.
Lost at sea
Buried in the sand
There's no outlook
No chance for stormy weather
Pitch a tent,
Query the neighbours,
Let the dogs out.
But I'm gone
Whatever you find
I'm not her anymore.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
And hey Fifi, it was excellent to see you up in Auckland on the weekend. Please come and live here permanently. And your 'Velvet Honey's' are just stunning and i am saving up for one.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
BTW congratulations to my writer friend Elena de Roo for having a picture book ms accepted just recently - living proof that publishers are still taking on new works. I can't wait to see this one in the bookshops (mid 2010 I think).
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
And oh my god Fifi - what do you mean 'plan' for my launch? I don't have a plan. Do I need a plan? What does a plan include? I've invited a horde of ten year old boys and I thought I'd feed 'em up on some greasy savouries and sugary foods and then let them loose in the toy/book shop. It seemed like a winner of an idea to me. I've press-ganged a few folk into making sure I don't sit there alone and I've noted the phone number of the Dominos Pizza place which is just a few doors down from the venue. And there is wine. This is as far as my broken brain will get me. Are there other things I should include?
Remember folk - BOOK LAUNCH FOR THE WERE-NANA AND JACK THE VIKING, SATURDAY 8th NOVEMBER, MAINLY TOYS, 539 MT EDEN ROAD, 4PM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
...anyway I digress. Zen. Writing. I have had a few rejections recently. The agent bravely sends my things out into the world, and...then they come back. But I am untroubled, relaxed, even philosophical about it. I can't help wondering though - is this a bad thing? The potential devastation wrought by rejection can cast a cloud over things for days but if i am not worried by rejection does that mean that some kind of passion is gone. I still feel passionate about writing but how can i be calm about rejection? So folks, you tell me, should I be worried that i'm not worried about rejection?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
My SO had his shoulder op on tuesday and is home now. He's walking round with a full time anaesthetic pump on his shoulder. I'm thinking, I'd like me one of those. Looks like the operation was a success and once he's healed up and rehabilitated he'll be almost as good as new. I'm ticking off stressful events at the moment. My cheerleading daughters have their annual international cheerleading competition this coming sunday and once thats over things should be a little calmer round the house.
I'm a bit stuck on my WIP at the moment and there have been so many distractions I haven't been giving it the attention it deserves. Although I thought this comment I saw the other day suggesting that if you are blocked maybe its because you should be, made a lot of sense (sorry i can't remember where I read it) I'm not a great believer in writer's block. Being stuck is me acknowledging that I'm a bit off track and I have to let my brain take its time and figure out how to get back on track and that the station its heading to is a good destination. Sometimes it all comes easy, other times the cogs grind a little slower or need an injection of something you can't identify until you get it. If this sounds a bit airy fairy thats because it is. There is no 100% logical explanation I can think of that describes the writing process. The path I took for the last book will most likely bear no resemblance to the path i take on this book or the next one. I often fear that my ambitions for a particular story are beyond my writing skills (Justine Larbalestier blogged on this a few days ago) but I believe the ambitions are good and drive me to work harder to get the writing right. I know how I want the story to go, but its a little like precariously holding all the pieces of a broken vase together and then needing to apply the glue - it can be a very tricky business. I don't believe any writer ever knows all there is to know about writing. We are striving to improve, seeking a better way to tell a better story.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Enough about politics, and now for something completely different...I don't write a lot of poetry, but sometimes thats just how the words come out. Sorry, this is not a cheerful one. I feel like it might still be a work in progress but I feel like 'tis on the verge of saying what I want it to:-
The science of war says
The square root of the distance from human suffering
Is directly proportional
To reckoning 'whats in it for me'
The mathematics of human nature says
The sum of acquisition and advancement
Is equal to or greater than
Our love for our fellow man
And the theory of relativity says
The person who harms me
Is more likely
To be known to me
Our ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others
Has not yet been explained.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Next week my SO has an operation on his shoulder (old golfing war wound) and will be in a sling for a month. This means no driving for a month. For those of you who have met me in the flesh you may be aware of my driving phobia. I am pretty handy at tootling round the local streets. Even when the occasion merits I tootle a little further. But I am petrified of driving on the motorway and the harbour bridge. I've seen what crazy stunts some drivers do (hell I've seen myself do some dumb things) and New Zealand drivers rightly have a reputation for being discourteous (aka down right rude) and fairly cranky if they think you've diminished their driving experience in some way. So its not just an irrational fear - there are good reasons i get sweaty and shakey at the thought of driving on the motorway. I don't even like being in the car with someone else driving on the motorway. So I'm feeling a little stressed about having to pick up some additional driving duties during the 'incapacitation'. It doesn't help reading blogs about people who don't want to drive, who just don't. They don't apologise for their fear. They just make a choice and don't drive. I should point out that the choice not to drive is often accompanied by the choice to not produce offspring. This is a good call. If you have small fry the need to be able to drive increases exponentially. In fact it is the driving of my children to after school activities (when the motorway is a necessary evil) that is stressing me the most. I know I have some white knuckle drives coming up but I am really looking forward to just tootling again in the future.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
For me, ideas turn up unexpected and unbidden. My job is to recognize the idea and grab it close. I have to keep my ears and eyes and mind open. It seems like magic to me and is certainly not a thing of logic. Am I strange amongst writers in this? I couldn't say. I only know that this is how it works for me. But it makes it jolly hard to answer the question 'where do writers get their ideas.'
Monday, October 20, 2008
Now I also came across this interesting piece (via Jenny Rappaport's blog, LIT SOUP at http://litsoup.blogspot.com/) 'about the marketing end of the book business, the rationale behind how buyers pick books, and a nice dose of bookselling history too.' You can read it here:- http://antickmusings.blogspot.com/2008/10/on-being-skipped.html. Its written about the American market but the general themes are relevant here too. Just as the health system has a purely financial end that recognizes the most expensive widgit is too much for the budget, at the polar opposite of the emotional end of being sick where you don't care how much the best widgit costs, its the one you need, the book industry takes your beloved book baby and says it needs to sell x copies or it can't break even. No matter how the industry evolves over time we will always be emotionally attached to the books we have slaved over and pored our hearts into and the publisher and booksellers can only sigh and say we have to make enough money to cover our book producing, book selling operation costs. They are not charities and there is no way we would want them to be. It is good to understand how all aspects of the book industry works. And it is always comforting to know that I am not the only writer being rejected or skipped.
The flipside to the financial realities is the fun to be had in meeting your audience. I visited Owairoa Primary School today in Howick, East Auckland. I met with each of the four year-3 classes at the school and talked about ideas, the writing and book making process and reading. It was a lot of fun and the children were wonderful. I'm glad i packed all my books into my Spongebob Squarepants suitcase. The children thought it fitting that books be protected by the King of imagination and it was a great ice breaker. Having my little viking bear along as mascot was also handy. The children were interested and enthusiastic. It got a bit tricky at the end, as having covered the same material with each group i began to wonder if i was repeating myself to the same crowd. As the information came out in different orders for different classes depending on their responses I couldn't follow the same sequence and tick off the list as i went. I will have to figure out a way to avoid this problem. I hope I get to do more school visits in future.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
A few of my other favourite blogs (Kristin Nelson, and http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/) have mentioned the current recession and the potential impact this is/will have on publishing and authors. Kristin was reasonably optimistic, bookends not quite so cheery. Many of the posters to the comments were hopeful. Books are still a reasonably priced luxury that don't require ongoing costs like batteries or an electrical supply or the latest game, and keep on giving unlike a coffee at the cafe or a trip to the movies. On the one hand I want to be optimistic too because I don't really want to give up this writing gig (as tempted as I am at times of intense frustration with the industry and/or myself) and I want there to be more books out there with my name on them and I don't want the publishers to face hardship. However part of me knows that less disposable income will mean less sales of every product. And the fact that this financial crunch is partially driven by people spending beyond their means suggests that there should be at least be a decline in retail down to a level where people are spending responsibly. I still think books are a good investment, especially for children. And there will always be book lovers who can't wait for their next book fix and need to consume them regularly to stay healthy and sane. Health and sanity are important! Libraries might see greater patronage. I think most, if not all, libraries in NZ stock my books - yay. As someone pointed out recently however, books were still being written, published and bought during the Great depression. To help the book industry I intend (within my means) to keep buying books and reading them. I also plan to keep writing and submitting and to keep hoping that the recession won't cut too deep and the recovery when it comes won't be too painfully slow. In the end I can't fix the problem so I just have to make the most of what is in front of me. Remember, there is still a bestseller list and books are still turning up on it, both here and overseas. Someone is still buying them.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
But when he finds himself in eleventh century Norway, Jack has bigger problems, like how will he get home, and can he stay alive long enough to find out?
The first part of a two-part story, my novel Jack the Viking, published by Scholastic NZ, is a fast moving tale of adventure, mystery and betrayal. Available now at bookshops like Jabberwocky and Timeout.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In a delicious touch of irony, this year my youngest daughter turns teen on Halloween. Is there any more frightening prospect than adding another teen to the household mix? It seems perfect for this particular festival. She is off to high school next year, and as her younger brother moves to intermediate I will no longer have any children at primary school. Another milestone is passed, another era ends. I wonder if losing that connection with primary age children will have an impact on my writing. Will i drift away from writing picture books? I hope not. There is something truely magical about crafting a story for this genre. I never cease to be amazed, even as a picture book writer myself, how the brevity and apparent simplicity unfolds and gently reveals complex themes and feelings. It is immensely satisfying that despite repeat readings my favourite picture books can still move me to tears, smiles, out right laughs and understanding. If I'm feeling down 'Olivia' is guaranteed to bring a smile to my face, 'Tulevai and the Sea' reminds me of the power of a mother's love and 'Dear Greenpeace' chokes me up on the final page. How cool is that.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Whilst net trawling this morning, I've come across a couple of interesting posts that got me thinking. NZ crime writer Vanda Symon's latest post reviews the last session at the Burns Festival in Dunedin on NZ literature. Read her review here: http://vandasymon.blogspot.com/2008/10/here-at-end-of-world.html. As did one of the pannellists (Catherine Chidgey), I've often wondered if it is only writers like ourselves who know NZ writers and books so well. If you asked Joe Public how many NZ writers and their books they could name, and how many NZ books had they read in the past 12 months what would the response be? For myself, I read book sections in magazines and papers, read reviews and regularly check out whats new at the bookshops, but does Joe Public? Ms Chidgey contrasted the NZ reality with that in Ireland, where all Irish writers are known. How did they achieve that and how can we do it here. Should it form a bigger part of a childs education to know who our greats are? To paraphrase Ms Chidgey, 'when will our writers be on cards in weetbix packets, traded with excitement in the playground at lunchtime.' The other comment that really got me thinking was the idea that NZ literature was ghettoised by having its own section in bookshops and we would truely have matured as a reading/book buying nation when NZ writers were mixed in with the rest of the world. This kind of took me by surprise and I'm not sure whether I agree or not. I like that it makes my book easier to find. But does it somehow subordinate our writing to what comes from overseas. Perhaps when all kiwis know all NZ writers then we can be mixed in or maybe being mixed in is an important part of the process of getting to that point. I'm not sure.
The other post that caught my eye this morning was by Justine Larbalestier (link over on your right listed under extremely cool people). With some of her pals having books coming out soon she was giving advice on preparing for author talks and book tours by looking at the most often asked questions at such events.
Where did you get your ideas for this book?
Where do you get your ideas?
What were/are your inspirations?
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
And Whats your favourite book/author?
Justine looks at how these questions might be approached. While these all might seem simple and predictable and straightforward it never hurts to consider your repsonse to each one before throwing yourself out there. We assume the answers to the obvious will come easy but if you have a smart and/or witty reply tucked away in your mind it will leave room free for adlibbing on the questions you never saw coming like what does your husband earn (and I have actually had this question from a seven year old - you have been warned). It probably pays to also spend a bit of time thinking of answers to questions like favourite food, colour, animal, and place to write. The more organised you are, the cleverer you will appear!
Friday, October 10, 2008
It is specially exciting because he figured my eastern european background and saw the influence of the fairytales I grew up on. I had a steady diet of Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen as a child - an amazing collection of stories that captured the darkness and light of human nature and really fired up my imagination. I also got a buzz out of hearing that the famous singing sisters, Helen and Margaret Medlyn, interviewed before the book review session liked the book too. Yay!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Yesterday I needed to read something completely different (and was grateful that perhaps the way history played out enabled me to). I consumed, in a day, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. Cool read. Now I wanna see the movie. Nick and Norah's contains a lot of geographical, cultural and product references specific to the US. Only one product had me confused but it didn't hold my enjoyment or understanding of the story back. I wish NZ books travelled to the US like their books travel here. Are kiwis more world savvy or has our wide reading about different cultures over the years made us so. One of the benefits of reading is escaping to and learning about new places, cultures and people. I could never be a teenage jewish New Jersey girl having one crazy night in Manhatten but now i know how it might feel. How cool would it be if some new jersey youngster caught a glimpse of how kids live here. I do wonder why our books don't travel and theirs do?
This morning I'm on to Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. I hardly ever read non-fiction except the newspapers which stretch that definition somewhat at times. Its compelling so far but its a fat book and I am not sure I have the reading stamina for the whole thing. Especially since school holidays are nearly over and I will have peace and quiet, the house and the computer to myself again come monday to get back in to my writing. I can't complain too much tho'. I have been enjoying the books, and all the movies I have been to with my children. I have seen at least one movie alone with each of them which is extra nice.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
In New Zealand the awards we do have for children's literature don't make a huge media splash. The books shortlisted may enjoy greater sales but sadly I don't think these are always vast quantities. I worry that adding more awards would only dilute the effect of each individual award. The current awards don't garner enough attention. Maybe in the short term we should be working to increase the public awareness and interest in those awards already available. Doing this may generate enough positive spin-off to benefit all children's writers. What do you think?
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I read a very interesting post this morning by author Maureen Crisp at http://www.maureencrisp.blogspot.com/ , her third post on marketing one's books using the internet. This one deals with websites and talks about knowing your audience (in our case children) and making the site a mix of information and interactive fun. I got a bit of a fright when she said this,
In the states publishing contracts for children’s authors are beginning to state that providing extra content on websites is part of the book contract.
Yikes. I would love to have my own website but confess I am put off by the cost and the expectations involved. If publishers require it, do they contribute to the cost? When I was growing up, books were all about reading and the interactive part happened inside my readers brain. But times have changed and my brain, raised on reading as reading only is not sure how to turn this round to become interactive fun on the net. I think I'm going to have to get past my ignorance and fear and get on with it though because this is an incredibly beneficial marketing tool I can't ignore. I am a member of the Australasian chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and apparently publishers regularly check out their website (http://www.scbwiaustralia.org/ ). I believe an overseas publishing deal was offered for a book noticed on the site. My books are named on the site but i need my own website to provide further info on me and my books to take full advantage of this. I had a bit of a squiz at one author's website listed on the SCBWI site for author Deb Abela which blew my socks off - kids must love this - http://www.maxremy.com.au/. If only I'd trained one of my children up to be an IT whizz!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
At least we have the internet. My favourite blog post of recent days is this one http://dawn-metcalf.livejournal.com/10762.html - found via www.jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/ - you will need to know who Calvin and Hobbes are to appreciate this. If you don't know who they are, this is an excellent reason to find out.
I had my last two events for NZ Book Month on the weekend. A visit to Auckland Central Library late saturday morning and one to Auckland Art Gallery in the early afternoon. I was one of four authors at the library and I really enjoyed sharing the visit with Maria Gill, Jenni Francis and Lorraine Orman. I think we complemented each other well. At the Auckland Art Gallery I was scheduled to follow Tessa Duder - a potentially daunting position to be in but she was extremely generous and encouraging which put me at my ease. It was such a pleasure to listen to her read and speak. I haven't been to any author talks for a while. I did so many a few years back they all began to sound the same and I stopped going, concentrating on my own work. Now I'm thinking the occasional one will be inspiring, and illuminating and i must make sure I make the time for them.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
In the same vein, I am working hard not to feel guilty about charging a reasonable amount of money to the school I will be taking writing workshops at over a six week period (yay! - I got the job). It is more than I have earned per hour before in previous jobs but less then the recommended rate. I am very keen to do the workshops and have some exciting ideas for them and hope they will be pleased with the results. It is weird to actually be making money as a writer in an industry that up till now has successfully trained me to devalue my worth (because even if i'm rubbish i'm still worth more than 10 cents an hour which is about what I earn now). We do not seem to have a nationally prescribed and accepted 'profile' or 'going rate' like writers do in some countries and I find it makes for some awkward moments. Maybe this is another topic that can be raised at next years conference of children's writers in Wellington. To end todays post i just have to borrow this fantastic query letter that i found via Kristin Nelson's blog at www.suvudu.com/2008/09/what-i-learned-this-week-part.html :
I am monster.
Monster look for publisher.
I am main character in new book, [title removed]. 330 manuscript pages approximately.
Good horror story: lots of action. Blood.
Monster enclose return postage.
I may be monster, but I have manners.
Monster thanks you for your consideration.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
So something changed but secretly i wanted the change to involve one of my manuscripts. It still may happen but as time waddles on I get further and further away from my last manuscript acceptance and the old self-doubt creeps in, exacerbated unpleasantly by the reducing nature of the current publishing industry. I am most saddened by my manuscript Made With Love which people seem to like but publishers don't want to publish. I think it compares well (yes, yes I know I can't be objective but this is different - I've had serious careerist writing folk praise this one) to other picture books in the bookshops so I'm a little heartbroken over that story. I really hope its time will come. Cos i know you would like it too.
I've been mulling over one other aspect of publishing the last day or two. How much of all of the crap thats get thrown at us should we accept? I'm famous/notorious (you pick) for my impatience. I know I'm not alone on this one but I am frequently told that this is the nature of the business and I must accept it or go do something else. Okay - I kind of get (in my more lucid moments) why certain things take time. If they are not getting back to me its because they haven't made up their minds yet. Its not because they are afraid to say no to me, its never stopped them before and I have shown myself to be a person who doesn't make an awful scene or threaten violence if things don't go my way. But this is not the only crap we must endure. I am SURE we each have a secret list of things that happened to us and our writing that drove us mad. My list has been growing like a bug in a petri dish recently. And i just have to accept it all and go write some more stuff that they can screw around with and mess with my head over. Does this seem right to you? Would people just STOP mucking me around please! Its starting to affect my writing. I may just have to channel all this pent up emotion in to lobbying for an educational lending right.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I have been contemplating today (in lieu of actual writing of WIP) whether the current publishing trends in NZ will include a move towards publishers wanting to keep their writers to themselves. I know of at least one australian publisher who operates this way and with the recent changes in NZ in submission policies, the sale of publishing houses and booksellers, and the economic recession I just can't help thinking this might be one more strategy added to the pile by publishers over here. Even if a publisher and I worked equally hard for eachother I'm not sure how I would feel about having only one publisher looking at my work and then, if acceptable to them, publishing it. As I've said before when thinking about loyalty I don't think one publisher would want all the things I write. My writing projects can be so different and in the long term i don't want to be restricted to a particular selection of genre, age groups, etc... And what would i do with the stuff they didn't want? Would I be prevented from sending it elsewhere? I want to challenge myself to try new things and explore different voices. Would a single publisher dictate the topics and styles I worked on? At the moment it goes against the way I work. But if this was the only way to get published would I do it? What would I do to stay published? I never say never, but right now its hard for me to imagine working this way. And if this way of working was adopted wholesale by NZ publishers is there anything I could do to influence how its applied to me or the way it works in general?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
My eldest daughter is part of the Allstar Cheerleading team that got through to the next round of NZ's got Talent last Monday night. They only showed highlights on Monday and I'm looking forward to seeing the whole routine during the semi-finals. Usually a flyer (doing stunts while being tossed up by a base group of three others) with her senior team, my daughter is one of the oldest members of this group and bases one of the younger team members but she does do some gymnastic style tumbling with flik flaks etc...which can look amazing.
Today i am earning a few dollars 'invigilating'. That word just blows my mind but i'm getting better at wrapping my tongue around it. Don't worry, I'm not carrying a gun and wearing a badge, it just means I'm supervising an exam this afternoon in town. Exam rules seem to have got a bit stricter so i'll probably need to take the full 15 minutes before the exam starts to go through the instructions. As its my first go at this I feel like I'm sitting the exam myself.
Monday, September 8, 2008
And thank you Fifi for your very kind words of encouragement. They made a big difference.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I have to say I was impressed with the children at all three libraries. The audiences were never huge but the children were patient, well behaved and polite. In a library you are kind of preaching to the converted as these are people who have already decided they like books. They are there because they want to be which is the best kind of audience to have. I have two more library visits later in the month and a visit at the Auckland Art Gallery.
It is good to have those first three visits under my belt. I was a bit stressed about it before hand. I am not a natural speaker and I'm still learning about finding the right tone for different audiences. I have a better handle on speaking to classroom groups as I'm clearer on what the agenda is but a public venue like a library is a different kettle of children. They are there because they enjoy reading but may have no interest in writing or the process of making books. They might not care where you get your ideas from or what you did when you were growing up. They want entertainment in the here and now. (School children probably feel the same but there is an expectation from all parties that some educational elements will be included). Thanks to Maria Gill's good advice I'd generated some word-finds which many of the children seemed to enjoy and I had some lovely flash-looking Jack the Viking postcards to hand around. I think most children get a kick out of taking something like this away. Best of all they did seem to enjoy being read to, which is great because I get a buzz out of reading aloud. At the Storylines Margaret Mahy Day earlier this year Wayne Mills gave a stirring lecture on the benefits of reading aloud. And not just to the younger children. I'm a big fan and I'm now thinking i might see if i can do more of it. The only tricky thing about reading aloud is what to read to a mixed audience. I am lucky to have written material over a range of age groups from picture books to short stories to novels. There's pretty much something for everyone. With school groups the ages tend to be homogenous and selection is much easier. Most older children don't mind hearing the occasional picture book but sadly I lost a few older boys at one of the venues despite having suitable material for them because of the littlies in the audience. I don't know if there is any way around this. I hope some of my other picture book stories are published so I have a wider range of material to read from. It is still looking possible that a third one will be published but it is (as with so many book related things in my life right now) up in the air. Even if it is, it is probably a couple of years away.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
The do was very enjoyable. I had my best man by my side and lovely people to talk to. It was fun to eyeball a few famous sorts - Miriama Kamo is even more lovely in person, and I'm a huge fan of Tammy Davis - and the entertainment provided by three actors and their ringmaster was superb. The food and drink were yum and the venue - Hopetoun Alpha - is gorgeous especially when done up in fairy lights. And its always fun to have an excuse to dress up. I went out and got myself a very fitting little slip of a dress from a cheap girly clothes emporium - very sorry, no photos, i completely forgot - I'd sighed over some designery frocks and wished I could wear one, then I remembered I'm an author and I can't afford label clothing. I had to suck in my tummy all night (good excercise) but i felt pretty dressed up. I hope this is not the last time i get invited to an event like this. I almost felt like a real author.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Hi to the people who are reading my blog. Even though I sit here alone in my office, my tapping at the keyboard the only sound I hear, its comforting/reassuring/motivating/fun to know that I am part of a community of writers also sitting tapping out their stories, coming up against the same issues, pressing on despite the difficulties, wishing each other luck and best wishes. You are a fabulous bunch of folk and I couldn't wish for a better crowd to be a part of.
It is now officially September here in NZ and my picture book is out this month, it is NZ Book month for which I am doing a number of events at Auckland Public Libraries and the Auckland Art Gallery, my husband has a business trip out of town and there are cheerleading and dance competitions and other related events for my daughters. It will be a busy time and I certainly feel like I am at the top of an extremely slick slope wearing inappropriate shoes. I suspect I will be too busy to obsess over the things I usually obsess about but I hope I am not too busy to keep writing on the current project. I did a little bit of forward planning while exercising last night and wonder if i am going to come up a little short of my hoped for word count. The aim was around 50,000 but looking at where I am (18,000 words) and what I have left to write I don't think I will get there. Still, I am not going to stop now or change the synopsis so I will see what the result is when I get to the end.