Friday, January 4, 2013

Much, much better than luck

WRITERS' & ARTISTS' YEARBOOK 2013
A REVIEW


           So, you’ve finished writing that book have you?   It’s a hard slog.  I know.   I’ve written two myself and I know how time consuming, emotionally draining it can be, and how fabulously exciting it is to type ‘The End’. 
It’s like being on a big, scary, theme park ride.  You’re having a great time, then a scary time, then a good time.  If it’s one of those freaky swinging tall ones, then you may spend the whole time wishing it was over.  Then suddenly it is over.  Now you’re thinking, okay I have to make my way through the crowd to the next ride but I’m not sure where to go because it’s a big park and I’m not getting on that whiplash scary &^#@* ride again. No sirree.
Well, I am going to break it to you gently. That roller coaster ride that has left you giddy whilst writing and editing your book until it is shiny like a diamond; that, my friend, was the easy bit.   But you knew that didn’t you?  You cannot attend a writing course or a workshop on publishing or read an article by a famous, successful author without hearing those wearying words.  “It’s almost impossible to get published.”  We know that. Yep. We do.
A few years ago, I attended a publishing workshop at a Writer’s Festival and by lunch-time most of the initially excited participants filed out totally transformed. They trudged towards the coffee shop, feet dragging and shoulders hunched. In huddled, dejected groups of despair they sat, staring at their cakes as the idea they had wasted years of their lives sank in. 
And whether you are the “I’ve been rejected too many times” author or an excited “Just finished my book and it’s really awesome” author, there may be something that will help with the toughest part of the job—chasing down an agent or a publisher. This is the part of the job where you need to remain diligent and determined and work smart.
And here’s my little secret weapon for you.  Get yourself a copy of the latest ‘WRITERS’ & ARTISTS’ YEARBOOK. The current copy is 2013.   The blurb on the cover says, ‘Everything you need to know about the business of being a writer.’  And they weren’t exaggerating.
 
Inside is a treasure trove of up-to-date information.  Terry Pratchett comments on the inside cover that it is ‘Much, much better than luck.’  It contains not only listings of addresses, emails, web addresses and phone numbers of literary agents and major publishers world-wide but also, newspapers and magazines. If your leaning is towards film and television scripting, poetry, art and illustration and even photography there are listings for you too.  Also, there is a very helpful section of ‘Societies, prizes and festivals’ and even though this is aimed at the UK market, many competitions are open to overseas authors.
But the real gems are the Notes from the authors. They are small essays from successful authors, like ‘Notes on becoming a novelist’ by William Boyd.  Or ‘Notes from a successful fantasy author’ by Terry Pratchett (quite an understatement to call him merely successful).  There are dozens of these type of essays from romance novelists to crime authors to J.K. Rowlings ‘Notes from a successful children’s author’ (again, it’s like calling a peacock a bird).
Then there are sections about the publishing industry written by people in the publishing industry, that span ‘The state of commissioning’ to ‘Understanding publishing agreements’ to ‘Marketing, publicising and selling books’.
And haven’t you always wanted to get inside the mind of a literary agent?    Carol Blake, one of the U.K.’s foremost literary agents with a career that spans forty-nine years tells us ‘How to make a successful submission to a literary agent’.  And we sure want to know that?  Should you want to bypass the publishers and do it yourself there is even information on indie publishing with articles on ‘Print on demand’ and ‘Vanity publishing’.
WRITERS' & ARTISTS' YEARBOOK 2013 is 788 pages of information that you need to know with nearly 4,500 entries in its up-to-date directory of media contacts. You could spend a year full-time on the web, Googling, reading blogs and news articles in an attempt to work out how to get your work published.  Or you can be smart and learn about the publishing industry from the publishing industry. 
Just sitting it on your desk near you is a reminder that there are many avenues to publishing your work.  Somewhere in this beautiful, glossy book may be the essay that gives you the inspiration to send that umpteenth query letter that will bring back that answer they told you wouldn’t come.  This book could be your ticket off those whirly, scary, rejection rides and onto a smooth train ride that will take you down the track to arrive at Station ‘Yes, we want your work’.
My review copy of "Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2013" thanks to the loveable people at Bloomsbury Publishing Australia




To buy or learn more visit Bloomsbury's  The Writers' & Artists' Year Book 2013
Published August 2013:  RRP $39.99 in Australia.
Available Worldwide.




About Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2013 from the Publisher


This bestselling guide to all areas of the media, now in its 106th edition, has been completely revised and updated. With 100 articles written by successful authors and publishing insiders, it advises, guides and inspires writers and artists on how to get published.
The 2013 edition includes new articles on, amongst other topics, memoir writing, apps, libraries and contains a wealth of practical information on a huge range of topics including copyright, finance, submitting a manuscript and marketing yourself and your writing.
With nearly 4,500 entries in its up-to-date directory of media contacts, the Yearbook is an in invaluable companion.

New articles for 2013 include:
 
Electronic publishing by Philip Jones

Notes from a successful romantic novelist by Katie Fforde

Writing for the theatre by David Eldridge

Why libraries matter by Maggie Gee

Writing for magazines by Hero Brown

Writing memoir by Irene Graham

The laws of privacy and confidentiality by Keith Schilling


'The one-and-only, indispensable guide to the world of writing' - William Boyd

'Everything you need to know about the business of being a writer' - Lawrence Norfolk




'Even established writers can feel as though they're climbing a mountain. Think of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook as your sherpa' - Ian Rankin

'Full of useful stuff. It answered my every question' - J.K Rowling


'...much, much better than luck' Terry Pratchett


'...like a magic carpet that would carry the writer anywhere' Maeve Binchy

'... the book which magically contains all other books... an entrance ticket to the world you long for' - Fay Wheldon

If you have enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straightaway you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I have exciting news to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz




Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favourite Author talks: Elizabeth Gilbert

I love this talk via Ted Talks by 'Eat Pray Love' Author, Elizabeth Gilbert. In fact, towards the end, it had me in tears it is so spot on. She muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.  It's twenty minutes but worth the time.  We who hear voices may not all be crazy.
           As I trawl the internet I keep finding these fabulous videos by writers. It certainly saves me from paying out my dollars and getting dolled up to see and hear them in person. Plus, remember I live in Perth, Western Australia (the most isolated city in the world) and, along with many big name bands, even authors don't visit here much.
After downloading the podcasts on to my iPhone I usually listen whilst trucking around in my car. You learn a lot listening to these guys and I figure I really don’t need to hear that Rhianna song for the hundredth time. So, why not educate myself on the publishing industry via the people who know.
What may surprise you is that many of these mega-stars of writerdom still face the same insecurities that novice writers face. Their words offer encouragement, wisdom and vision. Sometimes, they are simply inspiring and you can feel your fingers itching for that keyboard.
I will keep putting up my favourite interviews as I come upon them, so check back regularly. And if any strike a chord, please leave a comment. That’s how we humble bloggers get paid.No, I don’t reach through and get into your wallet, I mean we are paid by the thrill of receiving a comment. 
So pay, people, pay with your words.


Your Elusive Creative Genius: Elizabeth Gilbert


Elizabeth Gilbert faced down a pre-midlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of—running off for a year. Her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia resulted in the mega-bestselling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about her process of finding herself by leaving home.
She's a long-time magazine writer—covering music and politics for Spin and GQ—as well as a novelist and short-story writer. Her books include the story collection Pilgrims, the novel Stern Men (about lobster fishermen in Maine) and a biography of the woodsman Eustace Conway, called The Last American Man. Her work has been the basis for one movie so far (Coyote Ugly, based on her own memoir, in this magazine article, of working at the famously raunchy bar), and Eat, Pray, Love is on the same track, with the part of Gilbert played by Julia Roberts. Not bad for a year off.
Gilbert also owns and runs the import shop Two Buttons in Frenchtown, New Jersey.

If you have enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straightaway you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I have exciting news to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: http://eepurl.com/3P-Wz




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Favourite Author Interviews - Neil Gaiman



As I trawl the internet I keep finding these fabulous videos by writers.  It certainly saves me from paying out my dollars and getting dolled up to see and hear them in person.  Plus, remember I live in Perth, Western Australia (the most isolated city in the world) and even authors don't visit here much.
After downloading them on to my iPhone I usually listen whilst trucking around in my car.  You learn a lot listening to these guys and I figure I really don’t need to hear that Rhiannon song for the hundredth time. So, why not educate myself on the publishing industry via the people who know.
What may surprise you is that many of these mega-stars of writerdom still face the same insecurities that novice writers face.  Their words offer encouragement, wisdom and vision.  Sometimes, they are simply inspiring and you can feel your fingers itching for that keyboard.
I will keep putting up my favourite interviews as I come upon them, so check back regularly.  And if any strike a chord, please leave a comment. That’s how we humble bloggers get paid.  No, I don’t reach through and get into your wallet, I mean we are paid by the thrill of receiving a comment. 
So pay, people, pay with your words.

         Click here for Video
          From Coraline to The Sandman and American Gods to Doctor Who, Neil Gaiman has made his mark by bringing fantasy and sci-fi from the fringe and into the spotlight. Gaiman joins Clem Bastow onstage to talk about his varied work, the tyranny of genre, sneezing baby pandas and red daleks.
Gaiman’s conversation is lively and wide-ranging; he moves quickly from describing why he feels like a fraud to discussing why he’s not published in mainland China (and how a sneezing panda named Chu might change that). When Bastow asks him if he’s bothered by the effect genre prejudices may have on whether all of his work is read or not, he says that beginning as a comic writer, “every single possible prejudice that can be levelled at an area of the arts is levelled at you.”
          The breadth of his output is one of Gaiman’s most distinctive features. Speaking about his reluctance to be pigeonholed as a writer, he reveals that his restlessness stems from what he learned during early days as a journalist interviewing other writers. He also describes how he tries to enter the storytelling process as openly as possible.
Questions are invited early in the session, prefaced by Gaiman’s explanation of what he considers a question. Gaiman engages playfully with his audience, who ask questions about his inspiration for Neverwhere, his creative approach, his resistance to his work appearing in school curriculums, plot outlines and his knowledge of his characters.
He’s queried on where his ideas originate — “the question that must not be asked of writers” — and elucidates the experience of writing for Doctor Who (“um… it was awesome!”).
          On weightier topics, Gaiman talks about the ideas behind his unconventional characterisation of death and the kind of death he’d prefer to meet. He offers his thoughts on love and vulnerability and confesses that as a social creature, “writing is peculiarly lonely”.
          To close the evening, Gaiman slips his iPad onto his lap and reads a poem he wrote for an Australia Day event earlier in 2011. “There are so few places in the world that I could possibly read this poem,” he explains.
Click here for Video


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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Throwing Imagination Out With The Bath Water


Imagination is a muscle.  I know this because when I didn’t use it for years, in a storytelling way, it shrunk.  For a long time, I couldn’t conceive a story idea even if it hit me in the head and wrote itself.  And that lasted twenty plus years.
Later, when I did throw myself into storytelling, it took months of writing, (the only story my mind possessed for  the past ten years), before other small ethereal ideas began alighting upon me.  My imagination was slowly awakening, and with that awakening began a trickle and then a flood of story concepts. 
            They were everywhere and so abundant that I have now given up writing them down.  No longer do I worry if I will run out of ideas.  Instead, I worry if there is enough time left  in my life to write all the good ones.
A TREND
This post isn’t about imagination or story ideas, though.  It’s about a worrying trend—and it could be just me worrying—but did you know that narrative creative writing makes up less than fifteen per cent of the Australian English curriculum?  Check in your own country, I imagine its' similar.
Several teachers have recently  informed me that the emphasis for literary education was in the writing skills needed in everyday life—persuasive writing, reporting, and letter writing.  They told me that narrative writing would definitely be important for a writer to study, but that very few children were going to grow up to be writers.  (They really should check Twitter. There seems to be millions on there).
These reports and persuasive argument skills are the more important literary tools in the  automated programming  necessary for their University years, work and everyday life, they tell me.  They are teaching them to write letters too.  Even though, I don’t know anyone who writes personal letters, except my seventy-eight year old Aunty—and she doesn’t own a computer.
I wonder though, if you have an encouraged, resilient imagination through creative writing wouldn't that  translate into more interesting letters and reports?  It worked for me.  In a misguided attempt at an MBA, I received a distinction for an essay for which I had hardly researched—I had two babies at the time.  The tutor commented, ‘I have given you this distinction not for the content because I’m not sure if you really nailed it.  You score is for how much I enjoyed the read.’
IN MY DAY
In the sixties and seventies, during my school years, narrative writing was all we did, interspersed with the occasional review of a book or poem.  Of course, as you would expect of a writer, English was my favourite subject and the only reason I wanted to attend school.  All the other subjects bored me and once I achieved a reasonable understanding of math I thought, well that will do me for life and I no longer listened. 
I flunked history and geography because, frankly, I couldn’t see the point.  My cocky, fifteen-year-old self advised the poor cooking and sewing teachers that I did not need to learn to cook and sew because I would be rich and have servants. What an imagination. right?  In German, I cut a deal with the teacher that as long as I passed then I did not have to attend class.  Subsequently, I spent those lessons down by a creek near the school reading and writing.  Had I attended school now, with this lack of emphasis on narrative expression, would I have seen writing as my future?
Whether a child’s destiny is to become a writer or not, is not the point of narrative writing as a child.  One of the most valuable tools a person needs, writer or not, is not  mastery of the English language but imagination. And, for me, imagintion trumps all skills and education.
My imagination, encouraged throughout my school years by creative writing exercises, has taken me further than being a writer.  It helped me imagine distant lands I wanted to visit, which from age twenty I did and continue to do.  It helped me see a business opportunity in my late twenties that became an exciting multi-million dollar success.  Everything created within that business opportunity came, not from my education, but from my greatest asset, my imagination—an imagination fertilized most fervently whilst writing stories at schools. 

A LOSS?
I am saddened to hear that our children will lose precious opportunities to utilise their imagination.  This is particularly poignant in an era where the gift of imagining, and maybe not education, have delivered us Steve Jobs, who dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes.  Then we have another imagination major, Steven Spielberg, who in 2002, after a thirty-five year intermission, finished his degree via independent projects at CSULB, receiving a B.A. in Film Production and Electronic Arts with an option in Film/Video Production.  Hardly something he needed to do to continue his success.
Since the emergence of man, stories have told our history and encouraged our future.  Whilst we are preparing our children for their adult lives, could the educator’s also find a way to encourage their student’s dreaming lives? 
These young people will all too soon spend a long time, as adults, writing their pragmatic reports and persuasive texts.  Could we just allow them a few short years with their unicorns, wizards, pirates and fairies?  Let us encourage their imaginations to flex and grow whilst they are young, so that one day they may not become a robot in a system, but a person who remembers imagining they were a robot and dreaming of saving the world.
I leave you with Yeats…
People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.  ~William Butler Yeats


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