Thursday, September 19, 2013

Heading To Mt Doom.

Last week I started to write my blog post but ended up writing a 2 page letter of complaint to the government MP’s who decided that closing down Learning Media was a good thing.

From a teaching point of view my first Go To Resource was the School Journal Index book, 5 years of Journals indexed by subject and age level and theme.  With four levels of journal coming out three to four times a year, there was a lot of fiction, non fiction, plays, poems and craft activities to form the core resource component in literacy, science and numeracy  programmes.

Learning Media, who produced these resources, are a dedicated bunch with a commitment to high production standards... because they know that their work is what New Zealand children learn to read on. They used to work inside the Education Ministry producing not only free core resources in English but also in Maori and Pacific Island languages. The Ready to Read series was one of the first graded reading series for teaching reading in the world with stories by Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley and Dorothy Butler among the first to be published.

My school was part of a group of schools that regularly hosted overseas teachers to show them best teaching practice because New Zealand consistently placed in the top tier of OECD literacy achievement. Every teacher who came through my class looked at the quality of the School Journal and sighed with envy. ‘How can we get something like this?’ was the most common refrain. From a writing point of view I, like so many New Zealand children's writers and illustrators, got my start in the School Journal. They happily provided feedback so you became a much stronger writer. Now New Zealand's common refrain is 'How can our government wreck something like this?'

New Zealand’s current publishing landscape has made international news...and not in a good way although NZ’s children’s books seem to be holding up. Because of our small size (4 ½ million) the publishing struggles going on overseas are played out here in a much more dramatic fashion. Porter Anderson covers the recent collection of articles about The Death Of Publishing In New Zealand in Publishing Perspectives along with news that The MAN BOOKER Prize will be open to all English language novels from next year...not just the ones published in the UK. This change is not being celebrated by everyone....

We Kiwi’s have an interest in the MAN BOOKER as we have a young writer in the shortlist for the prize...proving that even tho we don’t have a publishing industry we do have great writers.

So what is a kiwi writer to do when faced with the one way journey to Mt Doom.
Self publishing or working with small Indie publishers seem the only way to go... many commentators are saying that thinking outside New Zealand is the only way to survive. But do we then write generic Northern Hemisphere stories or do we really celebrate New Zealand cultural style and promote our stories (choice eh!) unashamedly? It means a cultural shift because Kiwi writers are like Kiwi birds... happy to be running around in secret, in the dark...we’re not flashy!
So if you are thinking Self Publishing... Publishers Weekly is now behind you...

Passive Guy talks about the rise and rise of audio books and Publishing Perspectives warns about 10 counter intuitive tips that Self Publishers try.

In the Craft Section,

Jody Hedlund with another brilliant post on getting to know your characters and plot.

K M Weiland on most common mistakes.

Chuck Wendig on 25 steps to edit the unmerciful suck from your stories. (usual Chuck warnings apply)

In the Marketing Section,

Publishing Crawl on Researching Literary Agents

Writer Unboxed on the Query Detox

Joel Friedlander has a guest post from Anne Hill on How toSell Books from your Website.

Website to Check Out,
Lydia Sharp has a timely blog post on Posture and tips forwriters from the Physio...(I’m sitting straighter already.)

To Finish,
This week I ventured into The Children’s Bookshop for one book (yeah right!) The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. If you haven’t come across John Green, take some time to look at this explanation of the John Green and Vlogbrothers phenomenon. I have been following John Green for a while...and admire what he is doing to connect into his tribe of Nerdfighters. And by the way the book is excellent!


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