Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Steps Into A Secret Life

In my secret life I am taller, thinner, brainier and permanently aged 30. Of course, when I was 30, I was all of those things. I just wish I had celebrated it more...

Not a bad first line...a bit of pathos...a bit of thinking...line two and three follows on developing the theme...

Why am I looking at the first line....because Lisa Stiles has a great article on her blog about first lines and their power. She has some great examples and analysis on the first lines of the famous books.
If I am talking to anyone on the power of the first line I send them straight to any Dick Francis book. Pick any one. Read the first line and that gives you a huge clue as to why they are bestsellers.

Tahereh hasn’t been blogging very long but has made an impact with her witty blog. This week she posted a great list of what 81% of Agents would like on the first page. If you trawl around her site you will find other laugh out loud articles for writers. Tahereh is also graphic artist and she made up a spoof cover called Querypolitan. This has now morphed into reality as an online magazine (she is looking for contributors...)  which is as funny as her blog.

Angela Ackerman had a recent contest on her blog asking readers to nominate blogs they could not live without. She posted the extensive list divided up into Agents and Industry, Query and MS Tuneage and Writers, Authors and Writing. I have quite a few on my regular check list but I will be checking out some new ones based on this comprehensive list. My Twitter follow list will be getting a workout. 

Robin LaFevers and Mary Hershey together run The Shrinking Violets Blog. This blog is dedicated to Marketing for Introverts. As introverted children’s writers they have a wonderful handle on what it takes to step out and market your book in front of an audience. This week one of their readers, Jenn Hubbard has written a great guest post on how getting together with other writers to market your books can help the introvert writer. (Extroverts will like it too.)

Our collective writing group project is coming together and as part of the nuts and bolts of going live we all have to have a profile and pic on the website...I hate the camera and the camera hates me. You may have noticed that I have cool space pictures all over my social media presence. However with the help of some cool free software and my kids, I have an avatar pic, which wonder of wonders makes me look taller, thinner, brainer and permanently aged 30.  Who could ask for anything more? Check out the sidebar!

Over on Craicerplus (my Amplify page) there are links to articles on

The Literary Lab - Keep Your Middle From Sagging

5 Writing Super Powers I would like to have.

Children’s Book Apps get curiouser and curiouser.

Melvin Burgess’ Top Ten Books for Teenagers.

Big Publishers have reason to be happy about how the book market is evolving.

Maybe ET is calling but we have the wrong phone.

How to create Buzz before opening week(end).

Agents won’t survive just by charging a higher commission.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Support and the Writer

I’m fighting this week. 
I’m fighting my lousy cold. I’m fighting my families lousy colds. I’m fighting tiredness. I’m fighting weather depression. I’m fighting the laundry. I’m fighting nerves.
And lo here comes Thursday to remind me that the end of the week is fast approaching. But Thursday can be a good stock take day because it allows me to gather up all the notes to myself for my blog post and put them in some sort of coherent order (I hope)

So what has been kicking around my brain cells this week.


The typical writer, stuck at home staring at the computer, feeling very alone and wondering if the page they have just written is any good...sometimes feels despair. It all feels too hard to keep going. They check their email ten times an hour, spend waaay to much time on facebook, follow every twitter lead, even dust... to try to get back that happy flying feeling when they know that they are writing good stuff.

Authors need a little support.

A good critique group can be worth more than gold to your own writing. It can be a cheer leading team, a commiseration club and a timely whip cracker. In this post Susan lists questions to consider when you go looking for a critique group or begin to set one up. She has helpful advice and points to consider for example, whether online or off line critique groups are good for you.

The internet can be a marvellous resource for the writer (and also a time suck) There are great sites out there where weekly roundups of what’s topical in the writing world keep you updated and feeling relevant... (as opposed to  know nothing and dull, stuck in your cold writers garret.)

This week the team at Adventures in Children’s Publishing have put together a huge list of relevant articles all available on the blogosphere under the helpful sub headings of Inspiration, Craft of Writing, Self Editing, Critiquing, Rejection, To Market and Congratulations. This is like a mini encyclopaedia of information and they do this every week! Dip in and be inspired!

Last year I talked about Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans idea, which generated heaps of interest. This week Eli James explores the 1000 Fans model and whether it really works for writers. We know it works for bands and bloggers. But a blog post and an MP3 music track can be created in much less time than a novel...So how can writers really make use of this model? There are some great ideas to think about here. (Maybe we have been thinking about it all wrong....)

James Scott Bell, of The Kill Zone authors collective of mystery and thriller writers, has written a great article on writing with heart. You must be in love with your writing to give it your best shot. It is very timely if you are looking for that burst of inspiration to get back into the grind with a happy smile on your dial....
The Kill Zone Authors have got a great site, a model to copy if you are thinking about author collectives. They even have a book available of short stories, on Scribed and Smashwords, (e-publishing and p.o.d.) Now that’s being in control of their brand!

I dropped into Alison Steven’s blog this week and read her timely post on paying it forward.
If you have been lamenting the fact that you have no money and no time to travel to a writer’s conference...There is a solution. A group of Young Adult Writers have taken this in hand and a running an online conference for Children’s Writers. I could embed the funny video the team have put together to publicise it (some of whom I have referred to previously in this blog) but in the spirit of paying it forward, jump over to Alison’s Blog and take a look.

And if you really need inspiration take a look at The Brainstormer Prompt Wheel...just clic the random button.

Over on Craicerplus (my amplify page) There are articles on...

The basics of the elevator pitch.

Five incredibly useful gmail features.

A roadmap for the future: 6 suggestions for today’s publishers that many can’t follow. (lots of comment on facebook)

How to build a tribe of followers.

13 Ways to add depth to your genre novel.

Boys and Girls and the Bechdel test...very interesting... do you pass the test?


Friday, June 11, 2010

Things Worth Doing

This last week I have been mulling over things worth doing. 

This started when I decided that during the  long weekend rather than fritter it away with the usual family activities spread out over an extra day we should make it count. So the contents of the kids bedroom were hauled out and painting, ceiling to floor, began...Of course the rainy weather meant that the room has taken its time drying and so the contents of the kids room are all over the house.... The kids had fun camping out in other family bedrooms and found going back to their nice clean bright room a wrench. But the room looks it was worth doing.

Next week I am chairing a panel discussion on Boys and Reading at the City Museum. In preparation for this I have been sent little bios of the panel members, so I can introduce them properly etc. As I know all of the panel members this is a timely reminder for me to think about what I would say if I was asked to put a short bio together for someone who doesn’t know me. (Hmmm lucky I’m chairing this really, and can remain anonymous, letting the panel be the stars they are...) 

I recently came across a new site where 30 mid grade writers have gathered together to promote midgrade...and their short bios are entertaining and give a sense of their personal style. (Midgrade is commonly called junior chapter books or junior novels...for children 8ish-12ish. It’s my favourite age to write for. It’s my favourite age to teach as well. There must be something in that as I think sometimes I’m a ten year old trapped in an adult body...oooh gross.)

So in the spirit of worthwhile bios and media kits for authors, here is a great link to an article which gives a good run down on what the author should be including in this internet savvy age. This has to be the most comprehensive list of what to include in a media kit that I have seen. It covers every eventuality...sample questions... book trailers...definitely a must read.

Jody Hedlund has a great blog that I drop into from time to time. This week she has a great post on  5 tips for playing the smart publishing game.  I mentioned to a friend recently how many new writers want information on a plate now and who don’t realise that going out and researching is the start of learning about publishing. Of course Jody puts it so much better. She makes some worth while points about connecting with other writers and writing, writing writing.

Alan Rinzler has a superb post entitled The Number One Issue for Writers Today. If there is one piece of worth while writing advice you need to read... this is it.

And on the topic of worth while things to do...Today one of our own literary gems, Kate de Goldi, was awarded a major prize from the creative arm of our government to research and write a book about another quiet literary gem here in New Zealand. For those of us in Wellington, Susan Price is an icon of New Zealand children’s literature. Those of us lucky to have visited the amazing Susan Price collection of children’s books know what an amazing unsung hero she is. For one of our best children’s writers and reviewers to be given the means to write a scholarly study of Susan and the gift to the nation of her collection and what it means to children’s literature is truly wonderful news. 

A very worthwhile project indeed.

Over on Craicerplus (my Amplify page)
There are links to articles this week on ...

So what comes next after Steampunk and Zombies?

Writing A Series – good points to remember.

10 ways authors can profit from instant free screencasts.

21 things you writers know that non writers don’t.

And a nod to my geek side
Top 10 places to find alien life...( I picked over half of geeky am I )



pic is Kate de Goldi...(nice pic Kate)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Forgiveness and Group Branding

I am guilty.
I am guilty of not having a set routine, of not setting goals to check off, of procrastination...which is why this blog post is late.
Forgive me.

So what have I found to get you thinking for the next week.

The Author as Publisher...this thought was revolving around my head as I hung up the washing on the first sunny day here in two weeks. The Wall Street Journal has a good overview of what is happening with Amazon moving into the publishing market. They use several author experiences as case studies. In particular the royalty amount Amazon is paying (70%) which makes it worthwhile to look at what they are offering to authors and how this changes the publishing landscape.

With all these possibilities in mind Tony Eldridge retweeted a blog post from October last year on marketing plans with a multiple pronged attack. This is a handy list and as he says you don’t have to do all of it. One of his bullet points is joint ventures. Tony had already posted an excellent article on the synergy of working with other authors on a joint venture. Each week as I research my blog post I am finding more of these author collective initiatives. They are a very good idea.

Create a Group Presence
If you are finding the whole author online presence very daunting, get together with a few friends and create a group presence. This divides up the work each author has to do online. It promotes collective branding as a group. It can give you wider exposure.

A while ago I talked with Stacy Nyikos about the class of 2k8 and how that was set up and how it operates. It is such a good idea that it has morphed branding on its own with 2k9, and 2k10....
In a collective author venture everybody has input into the brand. The brand promotes itself collectively and individually. The brand provides speakers to events, a fan club to promote them, a built in author blog tour....
You can be as big a presence as you want and can cope with, from Readergirlz with their video TV channel to PBJunkies, writers with its focus on parent events.
(Note: As I was loading up the links to the blog I found this one for dystopian writers, courtesy of P J Hoover of Spectacle writers....)

In Facebook land I am part of a collective of writers experimenting with writing a group book. We are still developing the story but alongside we are brainstorming ways that we can bring children along for the ride online. We are going to have to think seriously about collective and individual branding the project. This all seems like adult work...when at the moment the collective energy and camaderie has us feeling like the kids at the back of the class having a secret plan and executing it while the teacher (publisher) is not looking. When we grow up and put the whole project on a more serious footing, it is still going to be fun given the personalities involved....

So having confessed I spend too much time researching social networking...Chip McGregor of McGregor Literary has a timely reminder with a guest post by Rob Eagar of what an author should be doing with the 10 plus hours they spend online.

Following on from this is a good post by Mike Duran on routine and how this can benefit an author’s career. He makes the point that he never understood why his agents asked him how fast he wrote a novel...and why that fact is important to know.

This month is SoCNoC. (Southern Cross Novel Challenge)Yes, here in the Southern Hemisphere we have our own NaNoWrMo (National Novel Writing Month) in a winter month. are organising it and people from all around the world are taking part which goes to show that authors like a goal and need a whip cracking challenge to apply butt in chair.

I attended Ruth Paul’s Two Little Pirates Book launch last night, at The Children’s Bookshop. The publishers representative commented in her speech that so proud are they of this book they had ordered 19,000 copies to be printed and distributed in Australia and Canada as well as here in New Zealand. This is a well deserved accolade for one of our best writer illustrators. Two Little Pirates is gorgeous!

Over on Craicerplus (my amplify page)

Marketing Tips for Authors 10 Tips on Preparing A Speech

The Number One Habit of Highly Creative People

The Three Best Takeaways from Book Expo America (this is a must read on copyright and royalty changes)

Author Marketing Experts inc.Free Toys and Downloads for Authors

Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize longlist...great lit for under 10s



Pic is the cover of Two Little Pirates
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