Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I read HOW Magazine when I can get the latest copy from the library. It is a serious Design magazine packed full of wonderful design ideas for Illustration Designers. I can’t draw to save myself and my classes always laughed when I drew stick figures on the board but that doesn’t stop me wishing that I could. Illustrators are among my most valued friends. Their rich visual life inspires me and How Magazine feeds me creatively when I’m not geeking out on space stuff.

Adele Jackson the wonderful illustrator designer (on our conference committee) who designed the amazing logo for the conference tells me that How Magazine is one of the seriously drooly magazines for designers. The advertisements in this magazine are amazing! New paper’s from paper mills especially for designers. You just have to stroke them. New fonts and typefaces from type designers ...absolutely beautiful , so much better than anything preloaded on Word. But one of the best things about HOW are the articles on creativity.

The issue I am reading now has an article about Daniel Moneypenny, One of the top creative designers in the world. The article looks at how Daniel thinks. He is known for coming up with over 300 ideas a day. During the interview he stopped mid sentence to scribble an idea on a yellow sticky note and stick it on the inside of his briefcase which he puts on the table. He goes through five felt tip pens a week.

The best creative sessions are rapid-fire and crazy-chaotic. Daniel Moneypenny( HOW Oct.08)

(sort of like our conference committee meetings...just wait til you see the programme.....)

Daniel plays with words to get inspiration. One of the tools he uses is Antanaclasis-repeating a single word but with a different meaning each time. (If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm you will be fired with enthusiasm.)

Here are his tips for creativity.

Think about the projects use in the world, not the client.

State the projects goal in a few words and then think of as many adjectives as possible that also describe it.

To be prolific, don’t pontificate.

Surround yourself with 3D visuals, and change them for each client.

Realise that ideas trump syntax until you deliver to the client.

Fear, Frustration and fatigue, are the biggest creativity-zappers.

Encourage participation.

Get out of your office and be eclectic.

When you’re stuck, imagine.

Adele introduced me to Wordle. I have since told all my poet friends about it. It is amazing and creative and lots of other words.... Paste a piece of prose into it and it creates Word Art.

I recommend a play with it.(but warning, it’s addictive) Go On Get CREATIVE!

The pic is the first paragraph of the first News release of The Spinning Gold conference.

The second one, with lots of juicy information, I am working on and will be out before Easter giving you heaps of details about who is speaking and the cost and and and.....


Friday, March 20, 2009

When I have Time

The great Jane Friedman posts such useful information on her blog.

Last week I tweaked my blog in response to a comment made by John McIntyre about having difficulty following the links on a black background....So I changed the background and tweaked colours and generally played around with the site. I am not ditching my space photos...but I did check that they still look ok on the background. As I was doing all these changes I noticed the Great Jane had posted a list of red flags that editors look for, as a result of a webinar that Jane and Alice Pope (Editor of Children’s Writers and Illustrators Marketplace)ran that day on her site. I made a mental note to go back when I had time and post a link....ah the killer words in that last sentence -when I had time-

So belatedly I post this for you to peruse and then you can all go over to Jane’s blog and look at the other great things she has posted since then.

For my blog readers, here are the common problems that we identified during the webinar:
• Flashback on first page
• Too much backstory or explanation, slowing story down
• Waiting for the protagonist to appear (or unclear protagonist)
• Starting with an alarm clock or ringing phone
• Lots of characters introduced on first page
• Ordinary day stuff (getting out of bed, walking to kitchen, etc)
• Ordinary crisis moment without distinct voice or twist
• Too much telling about the story, not enough showing
• Nothing happens -- no action or problem
• Interior monologue: in character's head, just lots of thinking, no acting or interaction with anyone else
• Predictable story start or story line without a unique take
• More of a journal entry (stream of consciousness), and not a story
• Wrong starting point; not starting at a point of change
• Too confusing, not enough reason or motivation to figure out what's happening

Ahh so... I had a nagging feeling about one of my novels and this helps to put it in perspective. Thank You Jane!

However the novel will have to wait for, When I Have Time. The big words...Today I had two must reply emails, a funding form to investigate and my blog to write, in the time the baby is asleep, which is the only time I get uninterrupted. So of course I answered four must reply emails, sent five urgent ones, followed up the funding app and am now just attacking the blog....countdown to baby wakeup is on...

Conference is morphing all over the place....we are in the middle of confirming speakers and making arrangements and waiting on funding...and and and...It is just going crazy but in a good way I hasten to add....I know you are all waiting....some not so patiently...we are working hard...the next time I blithely say ‘oh lets hold a conference....” Hold me down...wash out my mouth... So if you know you want to come to Wellington around the 18-20 September you might start looking at flights....
yikes baby awake....


pic is of The planet... (the novel feels so far away at the moment...)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finding the time...

Book Review from The School Library: Learning Media.

Bones By Maureen Crisp

Illustrated by Robert Calvert.

(Kiwi Bites series Puffin)

Despite the back cover blurb, I feel Bones is less a mystery story than a small and delightful study in both human and canine psychology, as well as a fascinating lesson in police procedure.

What would happen if your dog began bringing home suspiciously human-looking bits of skeleton? Bones answers this - allowing the reader to look in on a realistic police operation as well as the reactions of the individuals at the centre and on the periphery of the investigations. (I like the cameo from two elderly rubberneckers: ’Police are so young these days,’ said Carol to Mavis... ‘Almost babies.’)

By the end of the book, the mystery of where the bones came from is solved, but not the mystery of how they got there. The book hints at a possible sequel. Perhaps we will find out then?


I received a copy of this review from Penguin recently. I would love to know who the reviewer was.

I remember when I was writing Bones, the list of people I made sure I interviewed to get the facts right. And the extra gruesome things I found out from the police and the pathologist that didn’t make it into the book. I am so pleased this reviewer picked up on this.

I think if we write for children we have a duty to make sure that we do get it right. I know that growing up in a medical family, if something was glaringly wrong in hospital procedure on TV, my mother would continually rubbish the programme so in the end no one could watch it.

And she was unrepentant...’It should be accurate.’

My Mother-in- law is the same, she write Romance novels. Her big issue is that the occupations of her main characters must be believable and accurate. You won’t find her writing about inherited millionaires and sheiks. So in her library (and she does have one...dewey-ed, of course,) you will find all sorts of textbooks and journals about the most amazing jobs out there. If you want to hunt for sunken treasure there is an international journal just for you...That was a good subscription she told me...Lots of exotic jobs in that industry...Plenty of romance there. Of course she interviews people too...to make sure her plots are believable.

It is the attention to detail -the believable worlds you create- that stay with the reader and give them a much richer reading experience. For five years our eldest child would discuss over dinner the implications of magic and plot from the Harry Potter series....and now our middle child, the one that never stays still, has begun to devour the books...guess what the dinner conversation is...?

So a sequel, huh?

I would have to get the Mars novel done, (I hate leaving unfinished work. (unless it’s housework and that nags at me,) and a few other plotted stories...and there’s this little conference I’m convening. Oh drat...finding the time...


Friday, March 6, 2009

Celebrating The Brilliance...

I have been contemplating publicity over the last couple of days...in the light of the NZ Post children’s book awards shortlist coming out.

First there was The DomPost, Wellington’s newspaper only printing the Wellington finalists...how parochial is that...we should be celebrating our collective national brilliance...then there was The Herald, Auckland’s newspaper making a right hash of the shortlist putting the wrong illustrators with the wrong books and leaving poor Melinda out completely.

I have passed several bookshops lately none of them have the list displayed in the window...ok they are chain stores but come on....celebrate the brilliance people!

So feeling a little disheartened about it all I started looking on the web at my usual link sites for some inspiration and to feel better as I broke my toe on Wednesday....

The lovely Madeleine of The Buried Editor came to my rescue with a brilliant post on author publicity from an editor and publishers perspective. She has her own little imprint at Blooming Tree Press called CBAY (Children’s Brain’s Are Yummy.) Here is a little snippet of what she has to say.

Besides, your book will never be as important to your publisher as it is to you, especially with your first book. Your book is most likely the only one you have coming out that year. Even at the smallest of presses, this is unlikely to be the case. With the big houses, you could be literally one book out of dozens being produced that month, much less over the year. And even at the small houses where your editor may have read the manuscript dozens of times, he/she still has not put in the kind of time, effort, or love that you have. And the house publicist may not have read the book at all. You are the best advocate for your book. You should take this responsibility seriously.

So, here are some things you can do to market your book:

Go and read the rest of her post Here.

This morning I heard our esteemed patron and all round good keen man, Jack Lasenby, speaking on National Radio, the interviewer asked him only question about his book, Old Drumble. I thought to myself ‘huh DomPost, I bet you want that interview I did for you on Jack now....’ They didn’t run it because they didn’t have space last June when Old Drumble came out. But it was an attempt to celebrate the brilliance...

I thought that I would post the book trailer that Brian Falkner has made for The Tomorrow Code because I think it is brilliant and he is shortlisted and really just to celebrate the brilliance...


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Honour and The Glory

The short list is out!....and to all those who made it WELL DONE...and wonderful how you managed to keep your lips sealed for three weeks....

The amount of Wellingtonians on this list is incredible! (so what were those muttering s last year about Wellington being overrepresented in the judging panel....Just look at the short list this year!- it would be cheaper to fly the finalists down to Wellington...than the huge bill to fly all the Wellington people north...)

For the Spinning Gold Conference Team....hats off to the two finalists!!! And look how many of our speakers there are on that great list...Not to mention our own dear Patron of the Wellington Children’s Book Association-Jack Lasenby.

Judging the winners is going to be a tough job!

Go Here to see the New Zealand Post Children's Book Award shortlist for 2009

Congratulations Melinda (waving madly over the blogosphere)

My fingers are wearing out from the congratulations emails that I have been sending....

New Zealand should be celebrating the brilliance!!!


Pic is the Rugby World Cup Trophy....the William Webb Ellis trophy...ah if only the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards were as well known.....

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