Posts tagged writers

Meet our August Star Author – Juliet Jacka

Our awesome August Star Author is Juliet Jacka.  Juliet is a New Zealand author, whose debut novel, Night of the Perigee Moon, was published earlier this year.   Biography for author Juliet Jacka.   Juliet has wanted to write for years, in large part inspired by her love of Margaret Mahy’s young adult books. Escaping the call of writing would have been hard, as she comes from a family of bookworms and crossword fanatics.

Thanks for joining us Juliet!  We look forward to hearing all about your books and your writing.

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Meet our May Star Author – Sue Copsey

Our fantastic May Star Author is New Zealand author, Sue Copsey.  She is an editor and an author who writes for both children and adults.  Sue’s books include Children Just Like Me, Our Children Aotearoa and The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head.

Thanks for joining us Sue!  We look forward to hearing all about your writing and other roles.

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Festivals, workshops and bookish events

Hi,

I am busy this week getting ready for Word Café, Raglan’s first ever writers’ and readers’ festival. It is happening this weekend (10 and 11 May) and there is going to be an amazing line-up of writers.

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I have been helping to organise the event, and am also presenting a workshop and reading some of my stories. I’m really looking forward to it, but am also a bit nervous. Like a lot of writers, although I love words, I am more comfortable writing them, than speaking them!

Still, getting out and promoting yourself seems to be part of a writer’s job description these days. And I do find that going along to writing festivals, workshops, readings and other bookish events is really good for my own writing.

Hearing other writers talk is very inspirational and gives you a real creativity boost. I always find that my mind is humming with ideas for new stories and ways to improve my old ones after I’ve listened to someone else talking about their work.

There is an American writer, Julia Cameron, who writes books for artists and writers about how to access and boost your creativity. One of her ideas is that you have to pamper your inner-writer (the place where your ideas comes from), so that it remains happy and creative. You have to give it treats and take it for days out to fun places: like writer’s festivals.

I like this idea, especially as the treats can involve fancy stationery (which I love) and chocolate (no comment needed).

I also think it’s important to go along to writing workshops and events, if you can, so you can improve the craft side of your writing. Part of writing is inspiration, but a much larger part is craft (learning how to make and structure a story, the best words to use, how and when etc).

You can learn this, just like any other skill. One way is practice. The other is by seeking out and learning all there is to know, so that when you sit down to write your story, your writing toolbox is full.

This weekend, I am going to be working alongside and listening to some very inspirational children’s writers at Word Café; I’ll tell you a bit more about them next week. After that, the next writing event I’m going to is the Golden Yarns: Children’s Writers and Readers Hui 2013, which is happening down with you, in Christchurch, at the beginning of June. I can’t wait! I wonder when I’ll find time to write?

Talk soon. Sarah

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A Study in Custard by Tierney Reardon

Check out Tierney’s ‘A Study in Custard’ that she wrote using Andy Griffiths’ writing prompt,Make the unbelievable believable.

A Study In Custard

“Scientific studies show that eating custard three times a day with fish fingers will minimize your chance of catching yellow fever; a disease cured by eating liberal amounts of custard,” says Dr. Gloopicus.

“I heard on the news that there are 154 ways of making a custard pie,” 73-year-old Mrs. Splatt explains, “but I know this to be wrong. I tried every method ever heard of, and there are actually 155.”

“Recent research findings prove that custard will withstand large shocks without being destroyed, making it a perfect substance for building houses,” says Prof. Dratsuc, who works at the University of Custard. “We are currently working on the first custard skyscraper.”

“Statistics show that 78 percent of people prefer their custard hot.” These poll results were published in Custard Monthly, a popular magazine. However, some disagree.

“Experts say that cold custard is fantastic on rough skin around areas such as heels and knees,” says supermodel Clarisse Ustard, who launched her nail polish brand this year; C. Ustard Nails. “I use custard on my skin once a week- and look at me!”

“It’s a well-known fact that lying in a bathtub full of cold custard improves your chances of passing exams by 35%,” claims mathematics teacher Ms. Yellow. Ms. Yellow gives out cartons of custard for her students to snack on while studying.

Nine out of ten doctors reccomend keeping a 2-litre carton of custard in your fridge for first aid emergencies. Custard can cure sore throats, paper cuts, headaches and hunger.

Sir C. Cream was unable to give his opinion on the matter, as he was tragically killed when he was sucked into a patch of custardsand while studying foreign custard recipes in Africa. May he rest in custard.

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Andy Griffiths Writing Challenge #2

Andy Griffiths, the author of Just Crazy, Just Tricking, Zombie Bums from Uranus and The 13-storey Treehouse, has just released his book about writing, called Once Upon a Slime.  In this very cool book he gives lots of tips about writing and some activities to help you become a better writer.  You’re probably looking for something to do in the holidays so why not try an Andy Griffiths writing challenge.

In the box below there is a writing challenge from Andy’s book, Once Upon a Slime.  Why not try it out and post your writing here on the blog.  Just post your piece of writing as a comment at the end of this post, along with your name and email address.  At the end of the week we’ll choose our favourite piece of writing and the author will win a prize pack of goodies from Typo.

Twelve Doors

Imagine that you are standing in front of twelve doors.  Behind one there is a fabulous treasure.  Behind the others are eleven of the most dangerous things in the world. Describe what lies behind each one.

For more great writing ideas check out Andy Griffiths’ new book, Once Upon a Slime.

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David Hill – Author Blog 4

I’ve spent quite a lot of time this week working on TWO novels. Does that sound impressive??

First, I’ve been going over the page proofs of a novel that’s coming out in June, called Brave Company. It’s about a teenage NZ seaman, who is on a NZ frigate during battles in the Korean War of the 1950s. Page Proofs are the final stage before the novel is actually published. Everything is set out exactly as it will be on the pages of the book, numbers and illustrations and all, and the author has to go – very carefully – through them, seeing if any mistakes have been made. There hardly ever are any; editors are a very efficient lot. But a final check is always a good idea.

The page proofs come after a series of stages in the making of a book. First, the author writes it. (Easy! Simple!) Then, if the publisher likes it and agrees to publish – and this often doesn’t happen; please don’t think that everything I write gets published – the editor will make suggestions on how to improve the book (add details here; cut bits out there; stop describing so much; stop the feeble jokes, etc) and author/editor work on these till they agree. This part can take weeks. After that, the designers make suggestions about cover, set-out, illsutrations / maps / diagrams, etc. And then come the page proofs.

The second book I’ve been working on is one I wrote over the winter / spring / summer. It’s about a NZ teenager in the 1970s who somehow gets involved in French nuclear tests in the Pacific. How? You’ll have to read the book – if it ever gets published. If that does happen, it won’t be till next year. I researched it, I wrote the first draft. I wrote the second draft. I wrote the third…..   And now I’m going over and over it, taking out a sentence on Monday, putting half of it back on Tuesday, getting the book as good as I can before I submit it.

So that’s what the author’s life can be like. It can also be full of pleasure. When you write anything – a book, a story, a poem, a letter – you make something that never existed in the world before. It’s special. It’s unique. And that’s something that nobody can ever take away from you. So the very best of luck with your own writing and reading.

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The thot plickens…

I’m up to my armpits in plotting at the moment.

Some writers adopt the headlight approach to their novels. American author EL Doctorow is credited with saying, ‘Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’

I’m sure that’s comforting for some.

I need to know where I am at every stage of my journey. So I take the obsessive military planner approach to my books. That is, I need high-res satellite imaging of every inch of the way and don’t bore me with diverting side trips to that picturesque lake back at the turnoff. My troops are massed and they have a plan to follow. The logistics are in place; the supply line is organised. We march at dawn!

I plot. A lot.

It always starts the same way. With a 240 page A4 spiral-bound notebook, and my lucky mechanical pencil (a LAMY scribble Druckbleistift that I picked up at a stationers in Auckland about ten years ago, if you must know.) I’ve used that pencil for all my books and would be lost without it.

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I always have a firm idea of where the story is going to go before I begin. I crack open the notebook and start, very simply, with the prologue. And I write. In pencil. For about three months. I average about three chapters a week. So over twelve weeks I can complete an 80,000 word novel. At least, the first draft of that novel. Once I’m done, if I have the luxury of time, I put it away for a month or so and let it fester in its own juices. Then I crank up the laptop and start the task of typing it up, embellishing and polishing as I go. At this stage some characters blossom and others wither. Various plot twists are crinked and action scenes are choreographed in minute detail. I can often be found prancing around the house, trying to recreate a chase sequence or a fight scene, just to make sure it’s feasible. It will take about six weeks to complete that second draft. Then the editing kicks in. I’ll go through the manuscript at least a half dozen times, making it perfect, before I submit I to my editor, who will then show me just how far from perfect it actually is. By the time the manuscript is ready to be typeset it will be on its tenth draft. The whole process — from notebook to bookshop — takes about a year.

Then I start again.

I’m up to Chapter 27 of my next book. There’s about six chapters to go. It’s a fairly involved mystery and it has taken a long time to set the dominos in place. I’m just about to push the first one, and it will be action all the way to the finish line.

And I know exactly where that finish line is — I have a satellite image of it seared into my brain.

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