Archive for the ‘Truth’ Category

I confess. I like reading children’s literature. For years I’ve said, I have to read middle-grade fantasy fiction because I’m “reading within my genre.” Yes, if I want to have an idea of what’s going on in the world of children’s literature, then I have to read what my contemporaries are doing. If I want to add to the body of that literature, I need to read everything in my genre. Most writers know that. But the truth is the last 35+ years I have learned I prefer reading middle-grade fantasy fiction to adult fiction. Uh-huh.

Now and then someone forces me to read adult fiction and I always regret it. The only adult fiction I enjoy is the classic mysteries like those by Agatha Christie. I would say my taste is eclectic. My sister usually buys me adult literary fiction for gifts. Some of the nonfiction books she has bought me over the years have been a hit. But I confess I am not a fan of literary fiction. There has been more than one occasion where I have opened one of these books, then closed the cover, and never looked at them again. Sorry fans of the art. I just can’t.

As I turn into the crone my interest in middle-grade fantasy fiction is far from dimming. On the contrary. It has grown. Here write my favourite authors of all time, Brian Jacques, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, Tove Jansson, Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, Maggie Stiefvater, Philip Reeve, and J.K Rowling. What I love about these stories, apart from the comforting point of view of innocence, is the way the stories move forward and then something special or magical or unusual happens. As the reader, it’s like lifting off into outer space. You are transported somewhere different. In children’s literature, it is a smooth transition, there is no strain or effort. Children are there already, living in the Twilight zone. They accept what happens in cartoons and animations.

It feels to me with this style of fiction as if ‘anything can happen’ and I like the creative freedom that affords me as a writer and a reader. It’s like happy juice.

It transports me to childhood. As one of my favourite teachers, Kiwi, Kate de Goldi, once put it, she ‘wrote children’s fiction to recreate the shaded places of childhood.’ I’ve thought about my writing that way ever since. Reading middle-grade literature is about childhood and it helps me to reconnect with that innocent wide-eyed part of myself, which I cherish. It helps me to connect with my target audience and better understand my readers. The benefits, I tell you, are multifold.


At least, that’s what I tell myself.


What do you like to read and why?

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette Carol
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Reading is dreaming with your eyes open. ~ Unknown


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The weekend before last, I went to see Neil Gaiman at the Auckland Writer’s Festival. With the restrictions imposed worldwide because of the pandemic, the organizers intended the festival would focus on those authors resident in New Zealand. It was a great opportunity to highlight the national talent pool, and the organizers also drew from the international authors already available in the country. Neil Gaiman had been here since lockdown was first imposed in 2020, being with his wife Amanda Palmer, who had been touring here as a writer at the time. The festival organizers had tried to get Neil Gaiman along to the Auckland Writer’s Festival many times in the past and failed. Lucky us.

Neil Gaiman and his interviewer Nic Lowe wandered on stage, no introduction apart from the lights being raised. They sat in worn-looking black leather armchairs while Nic conducted the live interview. Neil Gaiman was normal. It was great. And he was also the typical author, long-haired, a tad shambolic, wearing an exhausted jacket, the pockets hanging heavy with what one imagined were several books, maybe even cigars. He looked thoughtful, yet at ease with everything. It was easy to imagine him writing at home wearing pyjamas and a robe all day long.

The interview was fine. My feedback to Nic Lowe would be this: he could try speaking a little less, allowing us to hear a little more from the star.

How many books had Neil Gaiman written in his illustrious career? “A fan had stacked them up at one point, and the pile reached over 7 feet.” Wow. His output has been prodigious, including the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. They have made his stories into movies and TV series, Good OmensAmerican GodsCoraline, and more. And Neil has plainly loved every minute.

Did he expect to be where he is today in terms of career? Neil said he never expected to be famous. When he started out, he worked in niche areas where no one in those days ever got famous. ‘You didn’t get famous in comic books, fantasy, or children’s writing—I thought I’d be out here with the weird kids. Then it spread out and now we’re all the weird kids.’ The audience laughed. In fact, we laughed a lot. The humour surprised me—I didn’t expect him to be so funny. Neil spoke with intelligence and dry wit, poking fun at himself and everything. When asked what he would have done if he hadn’t become an author, he replied, “I would have been a freelance religion designer.” That got the biggest laugh.

And the theme Neil put across in the hour-long session, was, “Young writers don’t have to feel guilty for not inventing the whole thing. It’s okay that you got it from somewhere and passed it on. I want young writers to know it is okay, and that’s how storytelling works. Know that nothing comes magically from nowhere.”

He said that writers who think their prose all comes from within them were ‘not being honest.’ He likened it to there being a giant pot of stew bubbling. And we all take bits out and ‘along the way we get to add a potato or two to the stew pot or a bit of gristle.’ Cue another belly laugh.

Personally, I don’t think it’s always dishonesty by the authors. In a lot of cases, you write what comes to you and you do not realize that you are pulling archetypes and story tropes from a treasure trove of shared ancestral memories.

Having a talented author like Neil Gaiman telling authors there is no need to reinvent the wheel, that we can dip into the community stew pot and borrow the pieces we need then we give back our piece for passing on to others, was liberating and exciting. I hadn’t ever heard anyone say that before. It was warm, generous and inclusive during these more divided times. The fact I came home excited to write means it was time well spent. 

While I made myself a hot cup of tea and a slice of buttered toast at home, Neil Gaiman remained at the event. In fact, he stayed there for five hours, some people said it was seven, signing autographs for the queue of avid fans who snaked outside of the building into the square. Honestly, I do not have any ambition to be famous—I’m too lazy! Would I want to be Neil Gaiman, stuck at his signing table well past dinner time? NO.

Being unknown has its perks. Like dinner and stuff.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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What we need in a crisis are friends. ~ Neil Gaiman

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I’ve finished reading my ninth novel for 2021, Infinite Threads, by Mariko B. Ryan. You know a book is powerful when you’re still thinking about it a week later. It’s the sort of book that stays with you. I may still think about the 100 indigenous insights for years to come, it might take me that long to understand it. Almost written like a poem, the insights form the meat of this fascinating sandwich that starts and ends with the author’s observations and personal story. Mariko B. Ryan generously shares some of the background to how she found herself ‘kaitiaki, guardian, of the once hidden writings of her great-grandfather, a tohunga, sage.’  

It is the author’s first book, and it’s a hardback. Mariko’s style of writing is erudite, almost poetic in her minimal delivery, getting maximal effect.

The author presents the 100 Indigenous Insights in eleven sections, covering every part of the indigenous life and viewpoint, from rituals of encounter to leadership. Each insight shows up as a heading and Mariko has translated the Maori words. Insight 1: Tae-a-tinana. Show Up. Then she relates the insights in well-crafted numbered mouthfuls. Most sentences start on a new line with a new number.

1. Today, you convinced yourself to show up.

2. Willing to be scrutinised. To go down. To get back up.

(and so on).

At first, I was so taken aback by this unusual book that I felt off put. But Infinite Threads has a universal appeal in its unexpected presentation and style. There is something, like a mystery, always drawing me onwards. What do the rest of the insights have in store? I wonder. What else did the old man, as Mariko fondly refers to him, say to enlighten and guide his great-granddaughter and all the future generations?

Although the author’s genealogy gives her the pedigree needed to interpret the writings of the sage, she admits she had to struggle against her own conditioning and confront her own fears to take on the role of authoring the book. Her blurb says, “Recent world events and challenges have inspired her to share the knowledge of her ancestors.” I appreciated the courage shown and the spirit of wanting to share this information with the world when it’s needed most. It drew me to find out what else the book had to say.

The more I read, the more I had to read. And it was not a flip through. Infinite Threads is no lightweight walk in the park, this is some thought-provoking, candid, clear-eyed, straight talk about us, the state of our lives and the world we live in today. And the indigenous viewpoint is such a balm to my soul right now that I really wanted to understand it as much as possible before I moved onto each new chapter, or section. I took my time over reading this book because I was learning new things.

The story starts out with the author Mariko B. Ryan sharing her thoughts and viewpoint. Speaking as an insider, she gives us the native New Zealander’s perspective on the history and culture of her people and the devastating effect of colonization. We are told the story of how Mariko came to be entrusted with the hidden writings of her great grandfather, Takou, who was an esteemed chief, sage, visionary and prophet, as well as a shape-shifter known to change into an emerald green gecko.

The insights in the novel are wonderful. They’re instructive. And the novel ends with Mariko relating her journey to take on the responsibility of sharing her great grandfather’s words. It’s the sort of personal struggle to step up anyone can relate to and envision.

Mariko B. Ryan lives in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and hails from the northern tribe of Te Rarawa. I thank her for Infinite Threads. This book is deep, real, and a timely reminder about how to live on this earth together the right way, lessons we could all benefit from right now. It’s the sort of book you keep on the shelf, and keep dipping into now and again. It’s a serious book, one for grown-ups. A must read. Well done, Mariko!

My rating: Four stars.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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However, when we are all tending our gardens, when we are all fed and are all engaged productively, the need to take up arms is quelled and the realisation of Peace is affirmed. ~ 1182. Insight 61: Kaingaki Mara. Rangimarie. Gardeners. Peace, Infinite Threads

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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

April 7th’s question, if you’d like to answer it, is: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

No, I’m averse to risk. Although I write middle grade fantasy, which is different and “other,” I still find it hard to stray outside of accepted styles. Maybe it’s because I still feel like a beginner, a novice at all this. Imposter Syndrome, anyone? Someone said once that the truly popular authors are the ones who have the most guts. I believe this to be true.

Take a great like Lemony Snicket, for instance. Snicket writes crazy books no sweaty beginner could ever hope to get away with, but he’s so bold and brassy, he gets away with it. Not only that, he’s a bestselling author getting sales other authors could only dream of. Balls of steel, that’s what an author needs to succeed in this business.

Look at David Walliams. I know, I know; he got a foot in the door of a publishing house because of his fame as a comedian, but his many books have gained him a whole new fan base following with good reason. My son and I just finished reading Walliams’ latest release, Codename Bananas, which my son received for Christmas. This guy’s fiction is so out there, it’s almost verging on mythology, but when the impossible things happen, it’s penned with such panache and aplomb you’re ready to forgive him anything, as long as he keeps telling the story. I’m reading a book by the fabled Carlos Fuentes at the moment (Constancia and other stories for Virgins), and this book is so off the wall, so bizarre, that it turns into art. That’s what these brave writers do by being innovators.

When I read books by authors such as these, I realize that an excellent storyteller will keep the audience coming back for more. The best storytellers don’t care about tradition, or the accepted mores, they kick sand in the face of the rules. They write stories from a more pure place, that of gut instinct. They write whatever they want to write. End of. That’s the sort of writing bravado I long for because I imagine that is the greatest freedom like being a kid again.

In October of last year I released a trilogy, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, a set of books I’d been working on for fifteen years. Since I finished the series, I’ve struggled to relinquish the world I’d created and the characters I loved. It took a long time to let go. Then I tried to start a new book. I’ve been doing some free writing exercises each weekend, trying to loosen up the writing muscles, but I have felt stymied, stifled, stuck. The needle simply hasn’t moved.

It felt like a turning point when I came across a rather triumphant, sassy little blog post this week called Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney on First Drafts and Battling Writer’s Block. I really needed to hear her sage advice, “write the first draft for yourself.” Because I think that’s where I’ve been going wrong the last few months. When I wrote The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, I was an unpublished writer, I wrote fiction as an escape route for a harassed mother of two boys under the age of five. This time round I’m a published author and I’m thinking of genre, age group, who might read it and what they might be interested in reading–a total buzz killer. When I read “write the first draft for yourself” I thought that’s what I need to do! The goal is to write all the drafts for myself, to have the courage to totally and utterly back myself and my own creative choices, whether they fly in the face of the rules or not, just like the greats do. Yeeha!

Do you try new things?

Keep Creating!

Yvette Carol

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The process of writing—for me and for almost every writer I know—is some combination of fast, slow and excruciating. ~ Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

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Subscribe to my newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to yvettecarol@hotmail.com 

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

This is a timely question because I’ve been thinking about this very thing lately. I’ve read several books in the last two months, being our summer holidays here in New Zealand. The novel I’m reading at the moment is by an Indie author I met recently. When I took part in a local book signing event with other Indies, I ended up buying more books than I sold, as usual. Seriously, how can you resist? I could have bought a dozen more great looking books, but I had to be discerning, so I kept it to five. I sold four. These new purchases I added to the teetering tower of my “to read” books in the corner of my bedroom.

As much as I’m new to being self-published, I’m also new to reading Indie fiction. I plucked one of the books I’d bought from the top of the pile and started reading my first Indie work. I wasn’t sure what to expect, however the story has a great premise, and it interested me.

The hitch came in the first part of the story when there were one or two wobbles with context and grammar. They were simple little things yet because of this I don’t want to name the story, to protect the author. What did these slight errors do? They made me hesitate in my headlong flight into belief in the story unfolding. So instead of getting further sucked into the magic and the mystery, it jolted me back to reality. When I started reading again, there was a hesitation within. Sometimes the errors were so minor, I almost didn’t notice them, but then I’d question what had just happened and have to go back to check earlier parts of the narrative. Spell broken. It’s that dreaded moment in every author’s book where the reader might put the tome down, never to return!

Why did I stick with the story after a so-so start? Because I’d paid twenty bucks for that book so I was determined to get my money’s worth. But also the story is solid. This is the thing. Fortunately, with this Indie tale, there were only a few mistakes, and as the story is progressing, the author’s confidence grows. No more wobbles. I am back into becoming fully immersed in the tale. (I’m still only halfway through).

What I have learned from reading my first Indie novel is that if you have a good enough story line, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, the readers will stick with your stories, anyway. I am thoroughly entertained and I literally look forward to picking it up and reading more each day.

I should file this under ‘Lessons learned so far in 2021.’ It’s all about the story and only the story!

Before going, I’d like to say a big thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG Leader and Ninja, for the stirring piece written for the January issue of the IWSG newsletter. ‘Reach out to other writers, encourage one another, and come up with some new strategies. Remember that moment when writing was a joy, and we were excited and ready to take on the world.’

Yes! Needing to pick up the reigns and get writing again this year, it has dismayed me to feel no energy towards getting started. I truly do feel encouraged reading Alex’s post and more than that, inspired to create. If I feel the joy in writing again I will write stories people want to read. That’s the goal, right?

What stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Keep Writing!

Yvette Carol

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If ever there was a time to reboot our lives and set some goals, it’s now. Leave 2020 in the past. Find that creativity and hope and make plans for a new year. ~  Alex J. Cavanaugh,

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I’ve finished reading my twelfth novel for 2020, Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott. I can’t pass a thrift store or book fair without looking at the books, and Anne Lamott is one of those authors that the title doesn’t matter: you snatch it up, anyway. It wasn’t until I brought Plan B home I realized it was an autobiographical account written in part about her struggle with the Bush administration and an internal tug-of-war around her faith.

I’ll admit I felt hesitation. I wasn’t sure if it would get past one page. But after reading the first line I was in hook, line and sinker.

Who could resist a book that begins, ‘On my forty-ninth birthday I decided that all of life was hopeless, and I would eat myself to death.’

The book is mesmerizing, a searing, endearingly honest account of one woman’s struggles in life with herself, her child, her mother and with her Christianity. It is tough stuff to tackle and yet done with such disarming honesty you forget your preconceived concepts and tag along for the ride. Plan B follows on in the same vein as Lamott’s first memoir, Travelling Mercies. Plan B is a series of articles on everything from the Bush administration to single parenthood, to judgement of others and self, to grappling with her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and her son’s adolescence, to getting older and losing friends.

Some reviewers have called Plan B ‘a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.’ This is spirituality presented by someone who never takes themselves too seriously. Because of the deceptive ease with which Lamott deftly handles the big subjects, we find ourselves drawn to contemplate our own stand in life. At the same time, we appreciate the lightheartedness, the rawness that reminds us even the top writers are human and we’re all in this together.

Anne Lamott, April 10, 1954, is an American novelist and non-fiction writer. She is also a progressive political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher. Born in San Francisco, she now lives in Marin County, California. Most of Lamott’s nonfiction works are autobiographical and of her books, they have made The Midnight Gospel, Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins into TV shows and movies. Her father, Kenneth Lamott, was also a writer. Anne wrote her first published novel Hard Laughter for him after his diagnosis of brain cancer.

Freida Lee Mock researched Lamott’s life in the fascinating documentary Bird by Bird with Anne. After the documentary aired, Lamott became known as “the people’s author.” We feel there is a familiarity there.  Marked by self-deprecating humour, Lamott is unafraid to share the difficult issues like alcoholism, depression, solo motherhood and faith, or as one reviewer on Newsweek said, ‘call it a lowercase approach to life’s Big Questions–she converts potential op-ed boilerplate into enchantment.’

Lamott is nothing short of genius and she is a really interesting character to read about.

In Plan B, we recognize ourselves and our frailties. Lamott reflects our imperfections and the continuous life lessons on self acceptance. By revealing she has learned to love the jiggly parts of her legs and butt (“The Aunties” as she calls them), she allows us to see ourselves yet in such a light-hearted way that we laugh too. As a narrator of her own experience and ours, the essays in Plan B are eclectic and often unexpected, but always eye opening, warm and relatable.

Of her writing, Lamott has said, ‘When I am reading a book like this, I feel rich and profoundly relieved to be in the presence of someone who will share the truth with me, and throw the lights on a little, and I try to write these kinds of books. Books, for me, are medicine.’

Here is someone speaking my language. Plan B surprised me. I read it avidly to the end; I laughed and sat thinking deeply too. The essays cover the broad, raw spectrum of life and are given with nothing withheld. Lamott’s candour is as refreshing as taking a dip in a pool of fresh water. A novel I would put aside for a few years, then pick up and gladly read again.

My rating: Four and a half stars.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness—and that can make me laugh. ~ Anne Lamott.

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It’s a funny thing when you’ve been editing day and night for months on end to do those final polishes on your masterpiece, when the deadline suddenly looms (Oct. 1st), you find the reserves to work even harder. Suddenly the words you have been coercing into expressing the story take on a whole new significance. It’s not just you and your fond eye who will peruse your words, it’s potentially going to be a considerable number of people. And some of those people will be intelligent, well-read, discerning readers. Some people reading your fiction will review your work. Some readers will come back to interview you. This is the point where a writer steps from the relative comfort of isolation in the artist’s tower to the reality of the reading public.

As author and media guru, Kristen Lamb put it, ‘Writing has problems. Learning the craft, coming up with a book idea, writing the book, editing, revising, building a brand and platform, facing uncertainty and crushing insecurity, and on and on. How many love the idea of being a best-selling author but not the pain/problems that go with being a best-selling author?’

It would daunt any novice.

Being a writer is tough enough. And the ballgame steps up another few degrees of difficulty when you are an Indie. As an Indie author, I am responsible for the initial editing, the copyediting, the proofreading, the design and the marketing. It’s exhilarating, stressful, endless, joyful, and utterly draining.

The other day my youngest son asked me, with great fear and loathing in his voice, “Is there going to be a fourth book?” And I hear what he’s not saying. Since I started the real hard graft of editing (back in May) I’ve “been mean” to him and his brother, apparently. The youngest has pointed out that where I used to explain things in a friendly tone of voice, now I sound “unnecessarily harsh.”

I felt instant remorse. Every working parent knows the bite of payback for juggling a career with parenthood. The payback kicks like a mule. However, I am close to finishing my trilogy. I’m on the homeward stretch so I must continue reading copy minutely hour after hour day after day. A sucker for punishment I am.

This week, yesterday actually, I sent the final digital proofs of The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, back to the designer. They now go to the printed proof stage. In the next few days, I will receive by courier a copy of each book in printed form. At this stage they do not bind the books, but I’ll be able to see what the covers look like and experience reading the books on paper. I should be elated. But my eyes are so tired they look like they need to go to bed for a good night’s sleep. I am close to burnout.

My friends over on our children’s writer’s group on Facebook asked me what are you going to write next? I cannot imagine ever writing another word. What I want is a holiday. Somewhere nice and warm.

I’m rather expected to get back to normal life, however, because not only have I neglected the children in my quest to launch these books, I’ve neglected my friends, I’ve neglected the house and the garden. So they will come first.

In the meantime, there are many steps of production still to go. I have to apply myself to the PR campaign and marketing. I have to plan the launch, prepare a speech, organize my support team. I have to nut out details around outlets for selling the books digitally and in paper form. I have to approach schools and libraries.

I still have the printed proofs to check. There will be more edits, and then last proof reads, final edits and printing of the books.

Whew. It’s enough to drive a person to drink. In fact, it does! I love Roald Dahl’s way of putting it. “The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze. He wants a drink. He needs it. It happens to be a fact that nearly every writer of fiction in the world drinks far more whiskey than is good for him. He does it to give himself faith, hope and courage.”

 Perhaps that’s what I need, more whiskey. What about you, how do you encourage yourself to do the work that is most difficult? And what do you think of the covers?

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it. ~ Roald Dahl

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I will call what happened “an intervention.” A close friend took me by the hand and gave me a kind little shake up, a gentle push in the right direction. When she heard my intention was to soft launch my next book, The Last Tree, on Amazon, she was aghast. ‘But if you do the same things, you’ll only sell to the same number of people.’ It’s a privilege when someone gets real with you, because it means they care about you enough to intervene.

She asked me, ‘What do you want?’

‘To inspire more readers.’

‘If you want to reach more readers, you must do more.’

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My friend introduced me via email to two people in the business. And over the last fortnight I have met with these two wonderful successful business women, one a traditionally published author of sixteen books and a publicist, and the other a well-connected and respected literary agent. Both women generously gave their time as mentors.

I thought I should share some insights I have gained through this enlightening process.

The first advice was to use my time more wisely.

‘You have too many toes in social media. These things are time wasters.’

I think I sucked in a horrified breath. I’ve spent the last ten years working extensively on my brand, by maintaining ten social media accounts: going around the sites, liking, sharing, commenting, and by making status updates, posting photos and quotes. I thought I was building a social network of contacts, which was important for Indies. It never occurred to me I was wasting my time. Admittedly, sometimes I ran myself ragged keeping up with it all.

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In life you learn and learn, then you course correct, then you learn and learn and change more. It’s a constant process, isn’t it? I remember hearing, ‘Margaret Mahy doesn’t have any social media accounts. She doesn’t even have a website.’ I remember being surprised by that. And I remember my writing buddy,James Preller, joking that he didn’t go near sites like Goodreads because they scared him. I had always felt I needed to be present in as many social media spheres as possible to build my brand as a writer. Yet, maybe that’s why Mahy published hundreds of titles and Preller is on his 85th and I’m on my third….

A week ago, I deleted half my social media accounts, reducing my activity to this blog and my Facebook Fan Page for writing. The monthly newsletter, Pinterest, and my personal Facebook page get to stick around for a while because I can’t bring myself to release them.

The next advice was to amalgamate my blog and website.  To do what I do online better, they suggested I study what the greats are doing with their Internet presence and do likewise.

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I circled the internet and noticed the bestsellers usually have one official site which has a blog and website combined along with a few pages to read: about the author, coming soon/what’s new and links/downloads, that sort of thing.

I did the same. I shut my old website down and amalgamated my blog and website, so it is now a journal blog plus a few pages about me and my work.

The next advice was to expand my author branding. I changed my title from ‘Children’s Writer’ to ‘Author’ as the former might become limiting in future if I want to branch into other genres.

The next advice was to get out of my comfort zone. I shall start submitting to publishers, however if I do self publish, then I’ll spend the money to bring a publicist and a distributor on board, to get the book into stores and libraries and get media attention.

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Admittedly, I shall have to summon all my courage to submit to publishers again. I had gotten to the stage where I was sick of the rejections, and that was one joy of going Indie was I didn’t have to worry.

However, I will send the query letters. I will go to the Publishers Association New Zealand website and look up the member directory for publishers and then follow the guidelines on how to submit.

The last advice they gave me was to be professional. They said ‘if you want to be taken seriously in this business, have your manuscript checked by a proofreader and a copy editor. Pay the money.’

The Last Tree is with a proof reader now.

I’m taking notes. You live and learn, boy. What about you, what have you discovered lately?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.” ~ Les Brown

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Ten days ago I delivered the finished manuscript of my book, The Last Tree, to the printers and I told myself I would relax. I would finally take the foot off the pedal. That was the plan. It was Monday. Turns out taking the foot off the pedal isn’t as easy as it sounds. On Tuesday, I organized to meet with an old school friend who is a business whiz. She had suggested she might help get more visibility for my books.

It was the first time I’d ever seen her business side, which was very interesting. After chatting for a minute, we sat down and started to talk about my stories.

I thought her first question was brilliant. She said, “What do you want?”

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I said, “When I started out (at seventeen) it was world domination. But it’s not about that or the money anymore. People say when they read my books they’re inspired. I want to share my stories and inspire as many people as possible.”

She asked me, “Do you have an agent?”

“No.”

“Do you have a marketing plan?”

“No.”

“Do you a way of getting your book into bookstores and libraries?”

“No.”

I was feeling like a right duff by this stage! I think my friend was none too impressed. She said two things after that.

“Your problem is no one knows who the heck you are.”

“That’s true.”

And,

“You will have to up your game.”

“Oh.”

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Both these statements struck terror into my heart. Do I commit to this? I prefer low sales and no one knowing my name. I prefer gliding under the radar. I don’t want to get asked to attend ceremonies and speak at venues. I don’t want a full social agenda. I have more than enough to do every day. There is no downtime as it is and as a card-carrying introvert, spending more time with people scares me terribly.

Yet I get the shake up my friend is giving me. She’s saying ‘look what is it you really want?’ And then, naturally, ‘you will have to do more to make that happen.’ And she’s right. I know she is. But can I do it? Can I commit when I’m raising two boys on my own and have a home and a property to manage single-handed?

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Since then, my friend has introduced me to a successful author she knows. We’re meeting at a cafe up north on Monday morning. I’ll take my first two books, The Or’in of Tane Mahuta and The Sasori Empire. What I hope to find out is how to reach more readers, and whether I should submit my books to a publisher. My friend has also introduced me to an author and agent whom I’m meeting soon. I need to ask if she has access to the lucrative movie and gaming market, especially in the U.S. They should be fascinating meetings. The nerves are fraying already just thinking about them.

I have freely admitted in the past to being utterly slack at book marketing. In fact, the article I had included in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group book, The Insecure Writers Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond, The Melee of Modern Marketing, was about accepting our limits as Indies and not beating ourselves up when we do not achieve mega book marketing campaigns.

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Between the many responsibilities in my life, I am tired. I don’t know if I have the time or the drive needed to “up my game” with book marketing. It’s a serious concern. Although I respect my friend’s advice enough to take it, I do so with great trepidation.

All I can do is what my hero, Aden Weaver, did throughout The Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, to get through adventure after adventure. Whenever he felt scared, he would keep putting one foot before the other. This would be an apt time for the adage, ‘don’t think, do.’ Then trust the rest will follow. Whew!

Since sending my manuscript to the printers, I’ve done nothing but work. The overgrown garden needed a machete taken to it. I had a big speaking project at Toastmasters, which required a lot of prep. The meetings with these other authors will probably lead to even more work. Rather than taking the foot off the pedal, I’ve been burning rubber.

Relax? Fail. Please tell me how you relax. I need tips!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden,” – Goethe

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Subscribe to my newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

*I took the option of not answering the ‘optional question of the month’.

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I exist in that strange, no-man’s-land, the limbo on the other side of having finished a book. I only just surfaced from the gruelling, nitty-gritty hard yards of getting The Last Tree to a publishable standard at the weekend. Any Indie will sympathise. Those few weeks and days were late nights and early starts, and staring at the words on the screen, word by word, until I could barely see anymore. Then, I delivered the novel into professional hands and went into free fall.

Slowly I can feel my extremities again. I am relieved and pleased all at once.

I tried an experiment with this book. The first two books in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver trilogy cost me upwards of $5000 each to produce. To bring the price of publishing my stories down to a reasonable level, I cut out the proofreader and the copy editor, which saved $3200 and instead paid $70 for a year’s subscription to ProWritingAid.

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I worked with the online editing program and my blood, sweat and tears.

Last weekend, after developing this book for two years, the deadline for delivery to the book designer was Monday. It locked me in a deadly embrace with time. I can’t stand deadlines. However, they work to prod you into gargantuan herculean efforts of which not even you thought possible. Sunday night I was still at my computer editing hard at eleven, and on Monday morning, I was up at five to start again.

I cross my fingers and toes that by doing it all myself; I have done enough. I really hope so.

The Monday deadline also meant I needed to get the second pen and ink illustration done, because I had only completed one. The weekend of editing was so intense, I gave myself “art breaks” and during those allotted times I doodled and inked in the second picture. It was so much fun! I think I like the resulting illustration the most out of them all.

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I blogged last week about the cover art arriving. After the long haul of editing, when you reach the finish line, it’s like time speeds up and everything happens at once. These vital pieces fell into place. On Thursday night, the cover art brought the world to life. I finished the second pen and ink illustration. I prepared the accompanying copy for the back cover and the end pages. I liaised with the book designers and set up the printers.

Monday eleven o’clock, I reached the words The End and realized I had finished the editing. It was an emotional moment. At lunchtime, I emailed the whole package to BookPrint. Then I drove over and sat with the designer for an hour and a half. The great thing about going to BookPrint again is they have the files of my last two books so it should be a relatively seamless job to produce the third book in the same style as the others.

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For the actual printing of the books, I compared the costs of printing at local firms and took $400 off the price by giving the job to another local company, 3A Signs. Altogether, I have halved the price of production, bringing it to $2500. But have I done enough as the proofreader and copy editor to make the savings worthwhile? I don’t know.

I have an author friend who recommended the online editing program, and she has successfully used it for her last three books. Will it work as well for me? I don’t know.

I wait to see the cover and the layout. I’m looking forward to getting the proof copy. I want to sit and read The Last Tree as a reader would. I did the very best I could, and now, the test, does it hang together as a great story that was worth telling? I hope so.

I hope this book makes the mark, however; I don’t know, hence my insecurity at present. I linger in book limbo. Help! Thanks IWSG, for the chance to rant!

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Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
– Eleanor Roosevelt