Sometimes an opportunity comes up and it seems as though it's been made just for you. You send away your application... only to realise you're not what they were looking for after all.
Other times, accolades just pop up out of the blue. Last week I discovered my cat's blog was listed in the world's top 100 cat blogs! Hey it's not the accolade I was hoping for - but I'll take it!
This is my cat's blog... and this is the story of how he became famous.
When I first came up with the idea of creating a children's book, I thought I might get it done by Christmas.
But predictably, everything about creating a children's book is taking longer than I thought it would!
Firstly, the writing took a while. I used one rhyme structure, but the parents who test-read the draft said it was hard to read aloud, so I tried another rhyming structure. (The latest one got much better reviews!)
Now I'm doing the illustrations. This was the big unknown - I've illustrated a lot of things before, but predominantly in black and white, pen and ink. This time I'm used coloured pencil. Each illustration takes about a week to do (evenings and weekends) - longer if I get sick, have family obligations or urgently need to tackle the weed problem in my garden. Because it's the first time I've done anything like this, it's slow-going and I'm learning a lot. I'm now about halfway though the illustrations.
The next big hurdle - publication! This will be another steep learning curve. After attending that National Writers Forum I realised how much time publication will take. Now I think I'll be lucky if I get the book out before next Christmas!
On the Conditions and Possibilities of HIllary Clinton taking me as her Young Lover
by Arthur Meek and Geoff Pinfield
directed by Geoff Pinfield
Arts Festival of Dunedin 2016
Richard Meros, BA, gives us a PowerPoint presentation on the conditions and possibilities of Hillary Clinton taking him as her young lover in the hope that our support will boost his chances of amorous congress with the US presidential candidate.
Read the full review on Theatreview.
Adapted and directed by Keith Scott
The Globe Theatre, Dunedin
In our times of terrorism and Trump, Mary Stuart – a play about the entwined fortunes of two global powerhouses – could hardly be more relevant.
Like all good plays, Mary Stuart leaves us with questions. When public opinion can turn on a dime, what weight should it have, and on what matters? Is integrity worth more than personal safety? And why is it sometimes so hard to do the right thing?
Read the full review on Theatreview.
The National Writers Forum
17 – 18 September
University of Auckland Business School
I arrived at the inaugural National Writers Forum (NWF) with a sheath of beautifully printed pitch documents and visions of pressing them into the open hands of delighted publishers.
By the end of the first session I knew I would be doing no such thing – but I also knew I was in for an enriching, enlightening two days. The NWF had a practical focus on improving your writing, placing your writing, building your reputation and finding an audience. A collegial tone was set by keynote speaker Chris Cleave (UK), who spoke of the importance of storytelling and supportiveness in our turbulent times. (You can read Chris’s full speech here. It’s well worth your time.)
During most time slots there was a choice of three different sessions. I’m currently finishing the illustrations for a children’s picture book I’ve written, so I choose the sessions that related to publishing. I wanted to find out more about how to pitch to traditional publishers, and how to self-publish. Below are the key messages I took away from the sessions I attended.
The Perfect Pitch
Melanie Laville-Moore (Allen & Unwin), Duncan Greive (The Spinoff), Kevin Chapman (Upstart Press), Harriet Allan (Penguin Random House), Scott Pack (Unbound).
Copyright and Contacts
The Future of Publishing
Scott Pack (Unbound), Dominic Hoey (Boosted)
Publishing 101: Making a book
Kalee Jackson (Kalee Jackson Design), Karen McMillan (Publicity), Malcolm Nell (Kobo), Martin Taylor (digitalpublishing101.com), Jenna Todd (Time Out Bookstore)
Elizabeth Heritage, Publicist
Support, sustain, survive
Siobhan Harvey (Writer), Malcolm Nell (Kobo), Anne O’Brien (Auckland Writers Festival Director), Rachel Jean (South Pacific Pictures)
I wish I knew when I didn’t know…
Patricia Grace, Stephen Daisley, Kate Pullinger, Chris Cleave, Paula Morris
Along with these notes I also took away new ideas, new confidence and new friendships. The NWF was superbly well-organised and well worth the time and money.
On the occasion of what would have been her 107th birthday, I chatted to actress Alex Ellis about the experience of portraying one of New Zealand's greatest adventurers - Jean Batten.
“If you have an ambition you should go for it, even if it sounds ridiculous,” says local actress Alex Ellis. “Jean Batten was an Auckland teenager who, in 1930, decided she would sail to England, learn to fly a plane and be the first person ever to fly all the way to New Zealand. Ridiculous."
Read the full story on the Glory Days telegraph.
Not in Our Neighbourhood
Written and Directed by Jamie McCaskill
Presented by Tikapa Productions in association with Te Whāriki Manawahine O Hauraki
Fortune Theatre, 13 September 2016
Yesterday evening I stepped over the threshold of Dunedin's Fortune Theatre for the first time, where I was treated to an outstanding performance from Kali Kopae. Kopae is like a graceful tornado as she twists and turns from broken, sexy, tyrannical, nurturing and powerful. At times her performance is like dance or like song. Watching Kopae in action is the theatrical equivalent of watching an Olympic gymnastics routine: controlled, exquisite, exhilarating.
Read the full review on Theatreview.
I have a famous cat with over 21 thousand followers, and I'm writing and illustrating a children's book based on the story of how he was found. In the story a young girl called Kate finds him on the pavement on her way home from school. I have now completed five of the 17 illustrations (above: Kate with the kitten, and next door neighbour Miss Conduct). I took a week off work to prepare a mock-up of the book, and last week I sent the mock-up, the manuscript and these two finished illustrations to a publisher! I would love to have the book picked up by a publisher, so please keep your fingers crossed for me. (My kitten Bruce has his paws crossed, too.)
I have a famous cat. (It's a long story - I'll write a separate blog post about it some other time.) My cat has over twenty thousand followers on Facebook now, and people love to hear how we hand-raised him into the handsome hell-raiser he is today.
I've decided to turn his story into a picture book for children. In the book a young girl called Kate finds a kitten, takes him home and names him. I've written the text and now I'm developing some working sketches.
My plan is to send the manuscript and the sketches to some publishers. It will take a while for the manuscript to get around all the publishers I've identified, and while that's happening I'll complete the final illustrations. That way even if no publishers are interested I'll be ready to self-publish by the time my proposal's done the rounds.
I'll keep you posted about my journey - and in the meantime, if you have any tips for me please let me know!
Seafog, with Lachie Hayes and Paul Winders
The Crown, Dunedin
29 April 2016
Built in 1862, Dunedin’s Crown Hotel is a colourful venue where pool sharks and beatniks rub shoulders with retirees and students. A key part of the development of the local music scene and a thriving creative hub during the 80s and 90s, it was a fitting venue for a show that was both a tribute to and an evolution of Dunedin’s iconic indie sound.
Read the full review on The 13th Floor.
My short fiction has been published in Headland, Hue and Cry, Pot Roast and Aerodrome, and my play Indiscretions was published by Playmarket. I also write reviews for The 13th Floor and Theatreview.