November 30, 2010

Categories: NaNoWriMo 2010, Netherlands

Okay, well NaNoWriMo has gone the way of other good ideas that I have had over the years.

There was the exercise bike that ended up being a clothes hanger.
The apple cider vinegar diet that gave me an aversion to salad dressing.
The handkerchief skirted dress that made me look like a harlequin.
The bubble skirt – the less said about that the better.
Hermit crabs as pets. (I can’t talk about that either.)

Big apologies to my NNWM friends.
I wasn’t much support but I promise never to do it again.

PS: Netherlands still winning in the blog view stats – two days in a row. I don’t know why, but nice to know you’re there!

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Hello Netherlands!

November 29, 2010

Categories: NaNoWriMo 2010, Netherlands

There are a few things I know about the Netherlands.
It has a history of great painters.
And good cheese such as Edam and Gouda.
There are tulips, windmills and clogs.
50% of the land lies less than 1 metre above sea level.
Tuesday’s weather will be a minimum of -7 and a maximum of -1, with a chance of snow and 20% chance of rain.

What I don’t know is why there has been a sudden rush of views of my blog from the Netherlands.
Can anyone tell me?


The big question on short stories

November 28, 2010

Categories: NaNoWriMo 2010, short stories

The skill of a good short story is that it offers the reader a glimpse into their own life truths in a way that other writing can’t offer. Often, with novels, the reader is caught up with the characters or the plot.
The end of a good short story can give you a kick in the guts.
Or it can linger with you long after you’ve moved onto something else.

Just as writing books for children is not easier than writing books for adults
so writing short stories is not an easier option to writing a novel.
Australia has a history of short story writers
and it feels like lately it has started coming back into vogue.

Or maybe I’m just hoping?


Back to the future

Categories: back to the future, NaNoWriMo 2010, school reunions

Some people love to do it and some people would rather poke themselves in the eye with a sharp (or burnt, depending on your upbringing) stick.
Some people spend time wondering and some never give it a second thought.
Some people do it once and wish they’d never done it.
Some dream about doing it but don’t have the guts.

I did it on Friday night and I’m glad I did.
Thanks for the great school reunion Caroline…

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A word on speeches

November 26, 2010

Categories: NaNoWriMo 2010, speeches

A good speech is really just another way of telling a good story.
It’s not about being word perfect, about precise annunciation or having a posh accent.
Or about being so incredibly rehearsed that you could talk without really thinking about what you are saying.

Time and again, I have to remind myself that a good speech is about speaking from the heart.
it’s about believing what you say and being passionate about your subject.
It’s about being yourself.
(And ignoring the fact that your face is the colour of a beetroot.)


You want eggs with that?

November 24, 2010

Categories: crossover books, marketing books, NaNoWriMo 2010, rejacketing

When I studied copywriting (last century) we had a fantastic marketing class which was the highlight of the course. I can’t remember the name of the lecturer now, but he was a dapper man who had a colourful range of bow ties and a never-ending bag of anecdotes. One story that has always stuck with me is the story of the instant cake mix.

As a young man my lecturer was given the job of selling instant cake packet mixes. The manufacturer had done a great job of creating an instant cake mix that only needed water added by the busy housewife (and housewife it would have been then) to create a perfect cake. But the mix didn’t sell. Subsequent surveys of the target market suggested that the end user felt they hadn’t put enough effort into baking the cake, and questioned the nutritional value of the cake. Feedback was given to the manufacturer who changed their recipe so that it required the addition of one egg. Sales rocketed.

In a similar vein, publishers over the past few years have cannily rejacketed books to increase their market share. Books with child/teen oriented covers have been given more sophisticated treatments so that adults can happily sit on trains, in cafes and any other public place without the stigma of being seen to be reading a children’s book. Nothing else has changed, just the cover.

I guess it’s all about the perception of the end user.


There is nothing worse…

November 22, 2010

Categories: NaNoWriMo 2010

than driving someone to the airport
to watch them fly away
without you.

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More on the power of three…

November 21, 2010

Categories: more on three, NaNoWriMo 2010

Then there were the three musketeers.
The three little pigs.
Three blind mice.
The three bears.
Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three strikes and you’re out
Three batsman out in a row is a hat trick

Three witches in Macbeth
Three sisters by Chekhov

It is also the first odd prime number.

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The Power of Three

November 20, 2010

Categories: NaNoWriMo 2010

I was arranging some flowers from the garden into a vase today (okay plonking) when I realised the power of three comes into play in more than just vase arranging. The three rule of vase arranging was introduced to me by my mother, herself a florist at one stage of her life. Never put two of a kind flower into a vase, always three to balance things out in an arrangement.

The unwritten three rule for writing was introduced to me by a lecturer who has now vanished from my memory’s filing system, but his/her rule remains with me today.

The rule of three remains vague and hard to explain, so easier to show than tell:

He took a clipboard and a pen with him.
He took a clipboard, a pen and a well-worn ruler with him.

No, not a really good example, but the best I could come up with at the moment. A story between two people is always interesting, but three’s a crowd — there’s always something more delicious going on when you have three people. The friction as two side against one, the hurt as messages from one to three is lost in two’s translation.

Three is just more interesting.

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Is it worth writing a book?

November 15, 2010

Categories: fast food, NaNoWriMo 2010, why write?

An acquaintance of mine, a fellow writer, recently asked whether it was worth writing a book. He meant financially, of course, but my initial response was, if you have to ask that question, then don’t bother.

Still, it was a fair question. A publishing colleague and I always joked that if we wanted to make money we’d be better off running a fast food establishment.

So why do I write?
Because it helps me make sense of the world.
Because I want to send my words out into the world and touch readers in the way that my own life has been touched by authors I have read.
Because it makes me happy.

And royalties?
Any royalties are gratefully received.

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