Thursday, 20 February 2014

homemade cards and new printer love!

I always love having homemade cards on hand for family and friends.  I used to supply a couple of local outlets but ran out of steam somewhere around the third child and then my beautiful printer died.  Now that my card stash is almost finished, I've bought another printer (with fantastic, photo-like prints) and have printed my first batch of transparent labels.  As the ink isn't cheap, it's not likely to become my regular mode of printing, however for card making, it's wonderful.  This is my first batch off the press, so to speak, and I'm delighted.  Long-term I'd like to have some cards professionally printed, it's just a matter of doing some research and having the funds...

Have you printed cards professionally?  Any recommendations?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

recent reads including 'think like a publisher' - a must have for budding writers

I continue my love affair with our local library.  What's not on the shelf filters in from afar as I work the reservations system, bringing the latest releases to my home in country Victoria.  Heaven!  The first piece of eye candy on your screens is Scissors, Paper, Craft - 30 pretty projects all cut, folded and crafted from paper.  This is a beautifully put together book with activities suiting all ages.  It includes simple instructions and photos of step-by-step details - a must have for the book shelf.
I first read Deborah Moggach some years ago and loved her writing.  For some bizarre reason, I couldn't remember the title of the book and when I asked google, it told me the book in question was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I can't believe this was actually the book I'd read - how could I have forgotten?!  Anyway, I'm yet to see the movie and look forward to reserving it from the library!  Moggach's Heartbreak Hotel lives up to expectations and we meet a cast of loveable cast of characters in various stages of life - a recommended read.  Walking on Trampolines was out last year and, until now, had managed to pass me by.  It's set in Australia, flicking between today and the early 80s.  School girls of that era (one may be writing this post) will recognise the country of that time, feeling the warmth of long hot Aussie summers coming straight off the pages.
Don't tell the groom reminds us that light fiction doesn't necessarily mean 'light weight' - Penny's horrified to find her wedding fund empty on the eve of her impending nuptials.  Her online gambling addiction - aimed to raise money for the dream wedding - has been disastrous for her personal life and Penny sets about rectifying the situation, with heartwarming results. Warm Bodies and Oz the Great and Powerful were dark in tone, but both had glimmers of humour shining through - I'd recommend both of them.

Randy Davila's Think like a publisher: 33 Tips to Write, Promote and Sell your Book has been the best thing for my writing since I entered the QWC Hachette Manuscript Development Program.  Even though I didn't get to jet off to Brisbane last November, the efforts I made with my entry saw me produce a much sharper piece of work.  Davila's how-to has done the same - if not, even more so.  His 33 tips are easily read and understood, making the writer really assess their work and encouraging them to 'kill their darlings' - to get rid of parts they may think are great, but don't necessarily add to the content or quality.

Davila covers publishing, marketing, editorial and more.  He's big into platform building - especially creating digital points of contact between the writer and their readers.  So far, I only have this blog as a social network.  I've been contemplating a Facebook page, Twitter and Good Reads account, but feel I want to be further along with my manuscript before I go down that road.  I know this is contrary to Davila's instruction - as it does help when it comes to publication, for many different reasons - but I just need a bit more time to sort out what I want to do and how.

I've taken copious notes from the library copy of Davila's guide and will buy my own when funds permit.  It's not that the book is wildly expensive, it's just that we've started the year on a very tight budget.  Davila's tips are invaluable and I've taken apart the entire structure of my work and thought seriously about its direction.  With Davila's advice, I've been able to see where my writing has become too broad and been able to rein it back in.  This is a must have for budding writers - whether it's a library copy or one of your very own, you must get it now!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

the writer's edition: month 11 check-in

The new school year has seen the stonefruitseason children filter in to various educational establishments, meaning that at one point this week, all three were absent from the house.  Their mother arrived home in a flurry, turned the computer on and shook the dust from her budding manuscript.  Within half an hour, she had achieved almost 400 fresh new words on the page and by morning's end, just over 600 - editing included.  These sessions are intended to occur twice weekly - Monday and Friday - when the youngest member of the house acquaints himself with the local kindergarten.  His mother is relived to report the first day at kinder a roaring success and that there have been numerous requests to return…

Yes, it's happening!  Monday's was a great success, adding new material and rewriting the old.  I've discovered that if I adopt an English accent and read my work out loud, it's much easier to edit than when I use my own droning Aussie drawl (luckily nobody knocked on my door as I was working!).  I do actually think this is a really good tip for other writers.  I know people say to read your work out loud, checking for flow and clarity, but a different accent adds another dimension - go on, try it some time and let me know!

Kinder is on again tomorrow and I'll do another mad dash home to get back in front of the computer.  I have just over 30,000 words to go - editing included - but I'm feeling more confident that the overall shape of my manuscript is coming together.  It's been helpful to have time away from the work and come at it afresh.  I'm still continuing to read as much as possible, finding that there are tips in every novel - a code behind the story if you like - depth of character, sentence structure, continuity and so much more.

Find more writer's edition check-ins and thoughts on writing here.