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Writers' Festival

 So, for the very first time ever, we are having a writers' festival here in the Manawatu (the province I live in).There are a number of workshops going over the five-day festival. One of which I will be running myself. 

Anyway, I went to a workshop yesterday, on day one, about publishing in New Zealand. One guest speaker was from the local university press and I approached her about possibly working for the company. She used to be an editor for a major magazine here, so we'll see. I'm only asking about sub-editing/proofreading but who knows what will come out of that. 

There were two other publishers. One who publishes mostly non-fiction and the other who does what I do - publish through Amazon. Anyway, I made a comment about Amazon and especially its expanded distribution. The lady who publishes via Amazon commented that it's a better idea to sell the books ourselves, which is fine, except for the fact that our libraries and other distribution networks here in NZ won't deal directly with the author/self-publisher. So, rock and a hard place. 

Speaking of rocks and hard places, I went to another workshop today. The speaker was an author who has written six books and has been writing for about forty years. She has had her work published by actual publishers. She was talking about how she had sent her work to an editor who ripped the story to shreds, giving her two pages of notes on what didn't work about the story. Instead of being disheartened, she rewrote the story then sent it off to someone else and it was accepted. I still find that idea scary. I guess I'm just very thin-skinned as I couldn't take that kind of criticism. 

Anyway, she's an American author who has spent the past ten years living in New Zealand. Her perspective is that New Zealand authors will not have much success outside of New Zealand simply because the rest of the world doesn't really know us. Let's put it this way: a lot of Kiwi expressions haven't made it into popular culture like American ones have. It's slowly changing, thanks to Lord of the Rings, but then again, when most people think of that movie series, they're not really thinking of New Zealand as New Zealand. What that means is, there's nothing that really represents us as a people in the movie. There was a movie that came out a year or so ago, based on a novel written by a very famous writer (famous in NZ anyway) which has done really well here and in Australia, but not so in America. The reason? They don't get the jokes. 

I've had it happen to me where there's been something mentioned in a tv series which refers to something in American popular culture but because I'm not American, the reference goes completely over my head. 

Anyway, the point of this ramble is that she said a way to get around it is to include an American (or British) character as a main character. When I talked to her about it, she said, well, make your main character American. I'm reluctant to do that for the Phoenix novels, simply because that would mean I would have to change a lot in the first novel. My thinking is, since the second novel's main plot revolves around the mafia and what it does to resolve the problem of their exposure. Maybe that will be enough? Who knows? 

I'm not looking to make a ton of money. Just enough so that I don't have to worry so much about finances. Enough to supplement income from a full-time job, if I ever get a permanent one that is. I want to be able to own my own home. Is that too much to ask? 

I have one more workshop to go to, on Monday night, and then I have my own workshop on Tuesday morning. All in all, I think it's an interesting exercise and I'm looking forward to the next festival next year. 

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June 2018


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