Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life is like...

Spring Spring Spring. The buds are on the trees. The sun is warmer. 
The Spring storms have hit with a vengeance. Today landslips (from all that rain) caused two trains to collide north of serious injury. At least the snow has stopped and the rain has kept the hay fever down.
We are in the middle of school holidays and I find my good intentions of getting some writing done have being hijacked by either dispute resolution or transportation imperatives.

So it is a rather patchy collection of interesting links for your delectation this week.

Debbie Redpath Ohi has enjoyed some well deserved success this year and in a great post on time management and creativity she outlines how she juggles the many projects she does and keeps her sanity. One of her advice gems is to get an accountability partner. This is a good strategy that I have made use of now and again...nothing like having to justify why you are so slack, to get you moving again.

I have been looking at my Mars story and trying to isolate where the plot is going to go...I can head off in a few directions and I really need to nail down one direction to get the story finished. With this in the back of my mind I have found myself spending more time looking at back story and prologues trying to pull out the essential information and work it better. Two great posts on these topics this week have caught my eye.

Kristin Lamb part of Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writers group has written an excellent post on 7 Deadly Sins Of Prologues If you are tempted at all by using a prologue....take a look.

Laura Pauling has written a nice post on how to use backstory effectively and she links to Story Sensei who has a more in depth analysis of backstory writing.

In my quest to uncover marketing gems for you, gentle reader, I have often read lots of posts on blogging. I don’t usually share these as I figure each writer will find their own way if they want to blog. However I do read a few writer blogs and I know they read me so in the spirit of sharing interesting stuff on writing blogs, Tribal Writer has a post entitled How Fiction Writers can Turn Into Badass Bloggers

Problogger always has useful ideas on blogging and publishing and this week they have a great post on 11 Ways To Convince Readers To Buy Your eBook. (If you have an eBook...or even an eReader...) eBooks are just starting to appear here in New Zealand so if you are a sneezer (an early adopter of technology who shares the experience around) or a ‘wish I had the money to be a sneezer,’ you might be interested in this post.

Over on Craicerplus ( My Amplify Page)

In Defense Of Dead Parents In Children’s Literature.

5 Things A Writer Always Overlooks...(brilliant)

Giving Stuff Away Is Not A Strategy

Finding The Perfect Collective Supernatural Noun...(a very funny list)

Joe Konrath – The Acquisitions Editor. (This satire will make you laugh and make you think!)

And for those counting down to the end of November there is a new Movie Trailer up.


pic is chocolate....points for those who get the quote reference

Thursday, September 23, 2010

P on the Brain...Promotion, Platforms, Pitching, Publishing and Phew...

This week has been ‘my can’t quite settle to anything’ week. 
It is probably due to changes in the family routine...Theoretically I should have more time...I wonder where it goes. 
I need to wrestle my house into submission and also my brain, which has been jumping around all over the place. I have a new story idea that I have been doing a little bit of research on, and thinking about on how to tackle the story...You know me, sucker for anything that needs research, also I don’t know why but I have to challenge myself in structure and style as well... Why can’t I just write a simple story? As my good Fabo Friend commented on Facebook recently  ‘Just write Maureen write!!!’

So in this week’s blog there is a mix of different ideas that caught my eye.

If you read last weeks post and went aaaarhgh. Social Media and Promotion and...It’s all doing my head in... then have a look at this guest post on Sia McKye’s blog. Janice Hardy takes a look at using your time wisely on promotion.

If you looked at last weeks post and thought Twitter aaaargh. Nicola Morgan has a good series of posts on using hashtags for searching within twitter. (good for research)

If you thought 'I can’t do facebook...'Take a look at this article on Fan Pages from Publetariat.

Nathan Bransford has a post looking at platform...which I have touched on before...If you wanted to know what an authors platform is, in terms of agents and publishers, read Nathans post.

This morning I had the good fortune to be able to chew the fat with some writer buddies (Hi Melinda) and we discussed last years conference. It has been a year since Spinning Gold...(I can’t quite believe it myself.) We discussed the success stories and the challenges of putting on the conference. The next conference, Spinning Tales, will be in Auckland at the beginning of April. Planning is underway with the Auckland team.

One of the topics in our wide ranging discussion was the changing face of publishing and also the speed of change. Jason Pinter looks at this in his Huffington Post article The 12 Game Changers In Publishing (and he doesn’t mention the tech companies....)

There will be pitching at Spinning it could be timely to have a look at what happens to your manuscript when it gets requested. An agent tells....

Darcy Pattison has guest blogged about book trailers on The Creative Penn. If you have been thinking about book trailers and wondering if it is for you, have a look at what Darcy has to say.

Over on Craicerplus  (My Amplify page) There are articles on

Reinventing Book Marketing.

What Do The Most Highly Paid Authors Have In Common.

New Print Books Jump Off The Page With Digital Enhancements.

Speaking Loudly...(how Social Media got the word out for Laurie Halse Anderson when her book was banned in schools....)

5 Ways To Make Your Novel Unforgettable...(for those of us stuck in mid novel blues...)

MG vs YA...(brilliant post and nailed for me why I love writing MG)

I want to leave you with a great video that Rachelle Gardner posted on her blog.
The The Impotance of Proofreading.

And if you know a teacher... send them this....Absolutely Brilliant!


and the pic is not my kitchen sink.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Socially Speaking....

Social Media...say what? You don’t waste time on that stuff do you?

Sometimes there is a fine line between wasting time and working on growing your brand, marketing in other words.

There have been lots of posts by respected industry professionals recently that highlight the fact that authors need to be google searchable. They must have a web presence and be active in the web community even before you have a book out. This shows potential editors and agents that the author understands that the web is a vital part of the marketing arsenal. If you are an established author it is a given that you will have a web presence for you and the book.Social Media sites makes you web searchable, this can help with branding and contribute to making you a better bet to publish. 

If you are going to be active in Social Media you need to set goals and limits for yourself. (What is best for you? How much time should you put into it...)

What is your core business, networking or writing? If you are networking all the time, chances are you aren’t writing. And if you are always intending to get around to Social Media or are unsure whether it is even relevant for you, chances are you are not networking or growing your brand.

So what is Social Media and where do you start?

Social Media is Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Ping, Digg....Yup it is seemingly endless.

Nathan Bransford asked the question, Social Networking- Does it really work in selling books? His forum community waded in on the topic and there is a great for and against debate going on. In the end as one commentator said ‘It is the strength of the story which sells the book.’ Using Social Media with only the intention to sell books and not participate in the community is just spamming.

Jody Hedlund has the most comprehensive round up of pros and cons on using Social Media. Jody’s blog is always worth the read and her debut book is racing up the charts. She has a loyal and savvy group of followers so that hasn’t hurt either.

Jane Friedman has been picked up by Cincinnati University to teach Digital Media. She was interviewed this week by Dan Blank about How Digital Media Can Empower Writers. This is a thirty minute skype interview so grab a coffee and sit back. Jane does know of what she speaks being an extremely popular blogger and editor with Writers Digest.

Bob Mayer has taken his Who Dares Wins philosophy a bit further and established his own publishing company. Go and have a look at his rules for engagement and why he decided to take his brand of writing and popular workshops into another sphere. (Hint Digital Media played a huge part in all the possibilities.)

Rachel Gardner has given everyone a wakeup call about what happens around the acquisitions table. Are You Brave Enough To Find Out? Some of her regular readers were not....

On Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Victoria Moxon - Interview. (This is a fabulous article. All Victoria’s advice is worth its weight in gold!)

John Steinbeck’s Advice For Beginning Writers.

The Fifty Best Author Vs Author Put Downs Of All Time. (ouch)

What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing...(very very good grasshopper...yes I know I mixed my genres.)

Marketing Tips For Author-Niche Marketing...(echo’s of a recent blog)

As you can tell I use Social Media. You are already reading this blog. I use Twitter primarily as a resource tool to get great links for you to read. I retweet some and Amplify others. My Amplify links get directed to Facebook and Twitter. Each of these Social Media groups have their own followers. I try not to spend more than four hours a week on research, networking and being social...The benefits tho are The FaBo Project put together with Facebook writers. Up to date knowledge of cutting edge news (UK Penguin and open submissions) some fine reading and great friends met over the blogosphere (waves to there are a lot of you...)

Questions and comments about using Social Media are welcomed...dip your toe in and comment....


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Future Creativity...

This week I have been thinking about creativity and the future. 
This came about because I was at the Storylines committee wind-up dinner (being an email member qualified me...yippee) and Adele Jackson fab co-ordinator and all round creative ideas professional started talking to me about Creativity and the impact on the classroom of the news that creativity is falling away as we focus on assessment.

Of course the teacher in me takes notice. Adele is in touch with some very classy educationalists whom we invited to The Spinning Gold conference to give us a perspective of writing and illustrating for the classroom in the future. Derek Wenmouth of CORE had posted an article on his blog about creativity which featured an excellent video address by John Cleese on the subject. If we don’t block out sustained quiet time we will not have any creative ideas. We must work at it...carve out time!!!

So of course after those stirring words I looked at my to do list and carved out time. Yes I got some big projects done but unfortunately some more got added to the list...Oh well I know what I need to do. Unplug the internet! (yep I hear you all laughing) I am resisting all efforts by the family to make this a wireless household...too easy I think to get sucked in into checking facebook when I am supposed to be writing. Fleur Beale has a good system, every morning she goes to an office in town without internet and writes...which is why we are all going to the launch of her new book Fierce September tonight....(a great launch and Fleur is going all techy with added content on linked blogs to the book. Check out the Fierce September website.) 

 Looking into the future is what the sci fi pop culture site i09 is all about. It has some great articles abut what is current, analysis, reviews etc...geek stuff including ask a physicist... I was interested in an article this week about the rise of Science Fiction lit. novels and how writers who previously were known for ‘literature’ were now moving into Science Fiction....(making it legit? Guess my reaction...)

E books are on their way to Australia and  New Zealand with news this week that major publishers are about to sign deals that will enable their lists to be published as e-books. As the readers start to make their way into this part of the world it would be good to have local content available to read on them.

Sydney Salter, one of the 30 mid grade authors running the midgrade site From The Mixed Up Files has a great blog post looking at her reaction to her child who saved up and bought herself an e-reader. So is this what kids of the future want to spend their money on? Sydney was sceptical but her non reader is now reading...

So how to get that content picked up so you can be part of the publishing lists of the future....

Mary Kole of has been interviewed on several blogs about being a young agent and she has written a thought provoking post on how she acquires authors. Here in NZ we don’t have many we do more ourselves but overseas getting the agent can be the hardest part of the whole publishing process.

Sunny Frazier has written a no nonsense straight talking guest post on being an acquisitions editor...she doesn’t bother with the query letter but goes straight to google search to find out how web savvy the author is...go read is eye opening!

 If you are now in a state of shock about your publishing and the future you might want to check out this collection of tips from authors who are using social media for marketing... and Chris Brogan has a good post on blogging and websites if you need to do something concrete...(Thanks to Justin, for the link.)

Over on Craicerplus (my Amplify page...which is getting a following of its own)
I have links to articles on

Finally Someone Admits To What The Print On Demand Business Model Really Is

Genreality- Self Publishing Realities

Ten Ways To Improve Your Writing

13 Wonderful Truths About Publishing

Dear Dan Brown...(you will laugh)

Ten Tropes you Will Find In Science Fiction Over and Over Again...(geeking over the video clips)

How To Effectively Manage Your On Line Reputation

How To Read A Publishing Contract

In the good news corner Debbie Redpath Ohi,  whose cartoons I have enjoyed over the last few years, got some well deserved recognition purely by accident and through a rejection picked up a publishing contract and a new career...nice one! She carved out time in her hotel room in a frantic rush but the payoff was oh so sweet.
So how do YOU carve out time for writing? All tips appreciated...


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Niche Learning

Do you have a niche?
How do you get one if you don’t have one? 
Does a writer need a niche?

Tony Eldridge has a great article on niche and what it means to an author when it comes to marketing yourself and your books.

As part of looking into niche and branding, these ideas had me thinking about Author websites and blogging.

Alexander Chee has written a great post on Author blogging. Why should an author have a blog? Should you blog if you have been pressured to do it? 

This is thought provoking stuff to all the author bloggers out there.

I was encouraged (strongly) to blog by a friend. As you can see my blog is not about my writing...(if I didn’t have the link to my book blog you wouldn’t even know.) 

This blog is about my learning. 

Since I have been blogging (just over two years, once a week) I have learned an amazing amount. I have found new friends that share some of my ideas (or humour me:) I have been challenged, stretched and energised by the blogs of others I have read and the discussions that I have participated in. The discipline to write an article once a week about my learning has hopefully made me a sharper fiction writer.... I hope that my learning discoveries have helped others.

Alexander also has part two of this article which is even better about the story that sells the story. He takes a look at James Kaelan and the Zero Emissions Book Tour and how James got corporate sponsorship and ended up bare chested on the cover of Poets and Writers magazine.

Seth Godin and his decision to abandon traditional publishing has been a hot topic across a niche blogosphere that I read this week. The decision has angered some and dismayed others. Seth’s ideas on marketing and his innovative way of publishing has given him a huge following. Linchpin was an instant bestseller and will be the last book he traditionally publishes. (i.e. paper and ink)

Mike Shatzkin has talked about Seth’s decision and what it may mean for authors and publishers now and in the future. As Mike says 'not everyone is a Seth Godin...'some of us need traditional publishing but for how long...

Two best selling authors have taken their book into social media and mixed it up. Today Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear announced that they have partnered with Subutai Corporation to deliver the worlds first digital novel on a social book platform. They are publishing a chapter a week with lots of supplementary material, all their research etc all on the ipad, iphone and ipod touch. This is story telling into the future. Of course it would be two speculative fiction guys who would do this....

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify page) I have linked to articles on

Tension = Conflicting Emotion Article by  Donald Maass.

Beware The Eyes That March-What Eyes Can And Cannot Do In Fiction

Words To Think About from A to V from the Blood Red Pencil

Two Items Needed In Every Authors Toolbox (Melinda linked to this from her blog)

Mr Rochester Is A Creep...(those weird Bronte sisters)

Making The Most Of Criticism...( a good post for those critique-ing out there)

So there you have it... a round up of my learning and reading this week. As I ask my kids every day... what have you learned...anyone want to share what they have learned this week?


pic from niche market
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