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, May 30, 2011
Several people recently linked to this article on facebook. I confess that I don't expect to make a significant living from writing books. Few writers do. I am realistic about things when I look at a contract. I know what I am likely to be able to change (not much usually). I am still learning what clauses I care most about and what I should ask for to protect myself and my career but it has taken me nearly ten years to know what I know now. But I am disturbed by the new trends in contracts and worried for debut authors signing up now. How do we know what we don't know? How do we ask the right questions? How do we know how far to push for change? How do we plan for future changes in the industry? What will happen when we push? And consider folks that your behaviour may influence contracts of the future. If everyone accepts the new status quo it will become the rule. Don't be afraid to talk to other writers and illustrators about it. Don't be afraid to ask questions. And just remember - lets be careful out there...
Thursday, May 26, 2011
And in other news I have signed up to have my young teen thriller My Sister's Shadow published, more details soon, and I have received my fresh-from-the-printers copy of The House That Went to Sea and I am delighted to report my new baby is beautiful. Launching in July, details also to follow soon. In addition to the launch in Auckland in July I will be reading The House That Went to Sea at the Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington on Friday, August 19 at 10.30, and loitering with intent at the Storylines Family Day at the Wellington Town Hall on Sunday 21st.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The Fabo gears are slowly grinding back into motion. Watch this space. Its an all new and exciting writing adventure for years 5 and up with loads of fun and heaps of prizes. More on this soon...
So I will keep you posted on any developments that may occur (I can tell you I am in Wellington in August, reading The House That Went to Sea at The Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie at 10.30 on Friday 19th and at Storylines Family Day at the Town Hall on Sunday 21st) - in the meantime I'm off to hang out the washing and have a coffee.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I knew some of the finalists - shout outs to Fleur Beale, Kyle Mewburn, Anna Gowan, Sherryl Jordan, and Diana Menefy. I met a few more last night whose names and books I already knew - hi Sarah Davis and Elizabeth Pulford. And I know of a bunch more - Ken Catran, David Elliot, Leon Davidson, Maurice Gee, Anna McKenzie, and last night's big winner Margaret Mahy.
I spoke last night with publishers, booksellers, illustrators, writers, bookdesigners, librarians and teachers, family and friends of finalists, and a bunch of just-all-round-bookophiles that I have met over the years. We were all there for the same reason - to celebrate children's books. And NZ Post and NZ Booksellers put on a fabulous event to do just that. They made everyone involved in producing children's books in this country feel special and appreciated. They even rolled out the red carpet and because we make books for kids, we got small sparkly squishy red balls as well. And all my earlier efforts to introduce myself into this community, all my earlier moments of feeling awkward and embarrassed have slowly but surely morphed into discussions about my books, other peoples books, where publishing is at, the pros and cons of attending conferences, book promotion, change and the future of books in NZ. I can truly stand behind my recommendation to join the community you want to be a part of, because after a while you do become a part of it. Last night I called it a family. The children's book community in New Zealand is very encouraging, supportive and friendly - everything a good family is. This is something you have to do for yourself - no one can do it for you. But if you can get to the NZ Post Children's Book Awards next year you should go. And if you don't yet know anyone come and talk to me. I would love to talk to you.
Last nights winners
Non-Fiction: Zero Hour by Leon Davidson
Junior Fiction: Finnigan and The Pirates by Sherryl Jordan
Young Adult Fiction: Fierce September by Fleur Beale
Picture Book: The Moon and Farmer McPhee by Margaret Mahy and David Elliot (illus.)
Best First Book: Hollie Chips by Anna Gowan
Overall: Baa-baa Smart Sheep by Mark Sommerset and Rowan Sommerset
Non-Fiction: Who's Cooking Tonight by Claire and Glenda Gourley
Junior Fiction: Hollie Chips by Anna Gowan
Young Adult Fiction: Smiling Jack by Ken Catran
BOOK of the Year: The Moon and Farmer McPhee
Congratulations to all the finalist and the winners!! May your books prosper.
And because I'm in a very generous mood today here are some juicy links that I'm busting to share with you. I've never seen actual jokes about writers and publishing before - these are excellent, go and have a chuckle.
And this lovely list of what defines Children's literature over at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure is also interesting, thought provoking and maybe a little controversial in places. Go check it out and see whether you agree or have some more definitions to add.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Then my wordy bff Tania and I hoofed it up to Auckland University in time to hear Garth Nix and Sean Williams do a double act on their coauthored series TroubleTwisters, followed by Meg Rosoff and Margo Lanagan talk on their novel novels and then Paula Morris on Ruined and Dark Souls. I reluctantly passed up Mandy Hagar and Bernard Beckett, Karen Healey and David Hair to attend the others which just shows the quality of the Festival's programme. The cost of all this was very reasonable as well. And what did I learn from the speakers? Despite all the doom and gloom, the naysaying and the mystical prognostications (man that was fun to write) from the media, the fundamentals haven't changed. My favourite speaker so far is still Lionel Shriver from last year who didn't teach me something new about writing or getting published but who did say something very intelligent about how we deal with cancer. I still remember it and it has changed my thinking on the subject. I enjoyed the talks this year but now they confirm rather than alter my thinking. They don't inspire me so much as steel my resolve to continue. There were plenty of familiar faces in the audience and I was surprised to see a number of NZ children's publishers from Random, Penguin and Gecko there as well. Things the authors said that stuck in my mind? Garth Nix's comment that books were his mentors when he started out (just like me). Meg Rosoff's comment that she doesn't plan her stories very much before she starts (just like me) and Paula Morris's advice on character development in which you run through a questionnaire (boxers or briefs? showers or baths? etc...) with your characters to get to know them better (may have to borrow this in future). Will I go next year? You betcha! There is nothing better than mingling with other writers. It is a happy place :)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The weather here is awful at the moment. I do not mind the rain or the cold but when either is incessant I go a little barking mad. Having children exacerbates the problem, especially sporty children with school uniforms. People will soon start to talk about my kids repeatedly turning up in stinky and/or muddy things. I have a dryer but everything that goes in the dryer has a shortened life. All that tumbling would wear me out too. And uniforms for school or sports are expensive so i do not put them in the dryer...as much as I want to...as much as my hand inches along, creeping closer to the dryer door, itching to press the 'on' button, desperate to be free of the damp of wet clothes hanging on the clothes horse and the dehumidifier that runs day and night. And the wind makes things bang...
There is something behind the wall, banging. There is a high wind buffeting the house. A storm. But I do not think the two are related. The banging in the wall has a rhythm all its own. I wonder who it is. Trying to get in. I wonder what they want with me. I wonder if they know.
In the Weekend Herald's Canvas Magazine (Sat. May 7) there was a lovely article on Michael Morpurgo by Hermione Holby. I have not read anything of his - I read a lot and there are a lot of good books out there, so I refuse to feel bad about this - I am making my way towards his books I am sure. But I love him irrespective of his books, for his comments on literature and children's books.
Morpurgo himself was not a great reader as a child. He came from a literary family and explains that, "literature with the big 'L' was thrust down my throat from a certain age - as it is thrust down many kids' throats.
"I still, to some extent, rebel against that," he says, "because at the heart of every great work of literature, in my view, is a great story. I think at our peril we make literature this rather elite thing. Rather sadly we think of storytelling as writing for young people, and the number of times I've read comments on this play [War Horse] like 'what is remarkable is that it comes only from a children's book'. It reflects the way many people feel still about children's literature. We don't have respect for youth any more than we do for age. I mean the word 'childish' itself," he goes on, "it's not exactly a compliment. And yet if you lose the heart of yourself, if you lose the child in yourself you lose your soul."
Sunday, May 8, 2011
When your book is published, you quickly realise that there are few people better to promote it than yourself. Maybe a school has asked you to come speak to the children about your book and yourself, maybe a local group have invited you to talk on your writing process. Do you do it for free or should you charge? How do you bring up the potentially sensitive issue of payment? And what exactly should you be paid for your time? A recent brouhaha has arisen over the payment of $45,000US to wunderwriter Neil Gaiman for a four hour talk given at a Minnesota Public Library several years back. (You can start here if you want to read about it). As Neil Gaiman rightly pointed out he has made his public appearances so expensive in part to price himself out of the business to allow him the time to fulfil his writing wishes and obligations. The money he earned for this talk was given to charity. If the
Arts and Culture are not often seen as valuable recipients of ‘real’ money. Culture is a ‘luxury’ for the arty set and should not be supported by the government?
Artists and Writers time is not valuable enough to be reimbursed/recompensed.
On average writers are not well paid members of society. Advances are typically low in
In order to set your fee you need to take several things in to account.
1) How much time you spend preparing
2) How much time you will be talking/visiting for
3) What related institutions/other writers charge?
4) How much can the school/community group afford?
5) How far do you have to travel?
Talk to your writer friends about what they charge. Where possible I charge a fee usually based on the fees paid by the New Zealand Book Council and this is what I start with when discussing doing a visit, workshop or talk with a school or group, but I am happy to negotiate and I will talk for free when the circumstances warrant it. There will always be times when charging is not appropriate or possible. Sometimes if a group cannot pay you, having your petrol costs reimbursed is a good way to go. Remember too that there are other ways to have talks and workshops funded – one half-day workshop I ran last year was funded by a grant from Creative New Zealand. A library talk I gave this March was funded by New Zealand Book Month. And charging a lower fee might pay off if you get repeat business. I used to hate bringing up the money side of things (one of the reasons that author talks organised by the NZ Book Councils Writers in Schools Programme are so nice as they manage the payment) but I can say from experience that it does become easier with practice. Remember this money can be used to enable you to keep writing in the future. And we want to encourage groups, institutions and the audience to value what we do and recognize that we work hard to produce our books. Be prepared to negotiate but don’t forget if you don’t value yourself and your writing time then those you come in contact with won’t value it either. Its not just about you (although you should never be thinking you are not worth being paid for your time and knowledge/expertise), its not even about just writers, its about how society views creative folks. We do matter.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I am generally interested in the news. I like to know what is happening in the world I live in and am always alert for possible story ideas. Everything that goes in my facial ports becomes grist to the story mill and, I believe, nothing is wasted. But my most common reaction to listening, watching or reading the news is increasingly becoming one of frustration, not at the news but at the way it is reported. Too often these days the media seems to 'make' the news. Everything is put on high rotate until the next juicy disaster hits. We have this skewed perception that our lives move from one disaster, drama or crisis to the next when really we still live in conventional fashion, driving the kids to their sports practices, grumbling about the price of petrol and wishing we didn't have to wash, vacuum, cook or pick up all the same things we did the day before. Does the news blur the line between fact and fiction by combining entertainment, and editorial with the facts? And if it does what effect does this have on us? Do we become immune to the horrors of war and devastation? Do we feel constantly stressed by all the bad things happening and worry whether we are doing enough to make the world a better place? Are we suffocating under the weight of all the opinions we feel obliged to form over every issue ever faced by modern man? I don't know about you but I feel exhausted by it all. I don't want to stop knowing whats going on in the world but could the media get over themselves and just dial it back a notch or three? You know you are in trouble when the media are the news they report!!
Sunday, May 1, 2011
As is often the way at times like these (the honeymoon phase of writing The End) I'm momentarily feeling rather sanguine about everything to do with my writing career. I realise that a writing career is a very stressful thing. There is so little that can be controlled and we are at the mercy of so many variables, not all of which are just or reasonable. Success can be an elusive and sometimes mythical seeming beastie. Today however I can understand Nathan Bransford's post on fate and be weirdly happy along with all the commenters. I cannot say that I will ever love that this is how the writing world is, but it is my world and I am a card carrying member and today I can truly say I will happily accept it, warts and all.
Here for your delectation is a link on the reality of self promotion for authors. We may not like it but it too is just 'how our world works'.