Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pay the Writer

Harlan Ellison is tapping into my own view about writing. It's hard work that should be paid for.

Plus it's a great rant.

I'm still of the view that the only benefit to writing for free is for the practice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The value of blogging

Two minds about blogging

I realized that one reason I haven't made many posts to this blog is that I object to writing "for free." 
I'm accustomed to be paying paid to write, so what's the value in working for free?
One aspect I hadn't considered is that blogging can be a way to improve my writing. The posts can remain short, but it is an easy way to practice. Writing begets better writing.
So with that in mind I've started looking at blogging more seriously.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Growing up with Adolf Hitler

I know it's politically incorrect, but when I was growing up, my Austrian father (who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger) would occasionally impersonate Adolf Hitler. He would froth at the mouth, girate his hands in the air and begin a tirade in German, but then he'd always burst out laughing.

To watch these Hitleresque renditions as a kid was the funniest thing.

So when I came across the above video, it took me back to those happy days of Nazi-parody.

I was pleased to see that I'm not the only one who can see the lighter side of Hitler's public performances.

Monday, July 28, 2008

E-books and book fairs

It must be heaven, all those books!

A previous e-book seminar student of mine, Jane Schauer, wrote to me about her recent experiences at a book fair in the US.
It is my opinion that authors already have the best distribution channel already at their finger-tips for the distribution of their own digital products: the internet, but Jane's experiences might be of interest to others.
It thrills me to see people I've taught move ahead with their projects.
Here is Jane's new web site:
Attending BookExpo America
by Jane Schauer
As a new publisher I thought I would mark my publishing debut by having a stand at this year’s BookExpo America. It is the second largest annual trade book show in the world (Frankfurt is the largest) and I thought readers might be interested in knowing about it.
Each year the show is held in a different U.S. city and this year it was held in Los Angeles in June. One of the main aims of BookExpo is for publishers to be able to showcase their works (including audio and e-books) to trade book buyers, such as book stores and librarians. However, interested members of the public can also attend the show.
The main activities at the very well organised show were:
  • publishers and writers displaying their works in exhibition halls
  • talks and book signings given by famous writers
  • expert panels conducting education seminars on the publishing trade
  • networking and rights selling
The show this year was huge and rather overwhelming (over 37,000 attended). It took me an hour and half just to walk around the exhibition halls without stopping to chat. Two highlights were Ted Turner launching his biography and Salman Rushdie signing his books.
I had a stand in the independent publishers’ row, which I found I was stuck on most of the time. When the show is in New York next year I will probably not have a stand, instead I will put my books in the show’s New Title Show Case. Then I will be able to attend seminars and network.
If you are interested in the show and are wondering about costs, this year they were in US dollars:
  • to be an attendee for 3 days (including education seminars) was $225 (cheaper day only tickets were available)
  • to be an exhibitor with a provided stand in the independent publisher’s row $2,810 or in the writer’s row $ 1,697
  • to display books in the New Titles Show Case was $210 per title (you don’t need to attend the show to display books and you can also send your books to other book shows for cheaper costs)
You can find out more by visiting the show’s website You can also contact me at

Who would think of this at the beach: managing documentation projects

Writing Projects

How long is this thing?

I recently attended the AODC 2008 conference on the Gold Coast, which by the way, is a great place for a conference for the early morning walks along the beach.

The presentation I most wanted to hear was called 'Estimating Documentation Projects' by Stewart Walker.

I was interested in this topic because many of the projects I have worked on have the notorious habit of 'scope-creep,' whereby the project gets bigger and bigger, but the deadline doesn't move!

Stewart's talk combined two methods that are commonly employed by project managers in documentation projects: the cradle to grave metrics model advocated by JoAnn Hackos in her book Managing Your Documentation Projects, and the bottom-up, task by task method that makes it easier to manage the work on a day-by-day basis.

The beauty of this approach is that you get the benefits of both, which I hadn't considered before.

A fellow technical writer, Sarah Maddox, wrote copious notes at the conference and posted them on her blog for us all to see:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5 rules for managing volunteers at a film shoot

Some people need a good old-fashioned wedgie

I was clearing out old e-mail and I came across this little diatribe I wrote after my involvement in a student film a couple of years ago.

It's good to laugh about it now.

5 rules for managing volunteers at a film shoot
I volunteered to assist a fellow-film student with his shoot over the weekend and it was a good exercise in witnessing how people & time management skills apply equally to film projects.
Here are some rules that every budding director/producer should be aware of:
1. Make sure you know how to operate your camera before the shoot. Hire the camera for a few days before the shoot if you have to.
2. Make sure there's a prepared timetable so that people know what to expect and when they are likely to finish. They have lives outside of your film shoot.
3. Volunteers don't want to hear the struggles you are going through as a creative genious as you decide what shots to take or how you might edit the shots later. They don't care, they just want to shoot the scene and move on.
4. Don't spend hours in idle chit-chat, stick to the timetable. That's why you should have one.
5. Don't expect other people to spend money on your project. Since people are already more than generous in volunteering their time, then don't take advantage of them by expecting or hoping they will also spend their money on things like catering and props. At least offer to reimburse volunteers for every expense they incur for you, even if it's as simple as a battery. Otherwise you can guarantee they won't help you again.

Finding Inspiration with Anthony Eaton

Anthony Eaton - not typing for this photo

I was a little ambivalent about attending a half-day seminar at the ACT Writers Centre entitled 'Finding Inspiration' with Anthony Eaton. It was a gamble to know what I would get out of it.
But I'm glad I made the effort.
I'm accustomed to writing technical material on a daily basis, but creative writing for me is a hit and miss affair - there are times when the words just die on the page.
Hearing Tony's similar experiences and how he overcame them was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.
Those times when my words die on the page - I secretly thought that there was something wrong with me and I lacked the necessary talent to be a creative writer, but I discovered from Tony that I was simply jumping in too soon with my ideas and needed to build the ideas more before putting a story together.
Boy, what a relief!
With the simple practical strategies that Tony gave us, such as gathering ideas into a single folder for a book project, I know I can keep building-up a story idea for a time until it's ready to work into a manuscript.
I've now purchased two folders for two manuscripts that I'm keen to work on.
When a seminar gives me practical strategies that change the way I do things, then it was DEFINITELY worth the time and effort.
Thanks Tony. Now I'll read your books too!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Create and promote your own e-book

Preachin' the good word about e-books
On Saturday 29th March, I conducted another seminar at the ACT Writers Centre on the topic of creating and selling e-books over the internet.
I've been in the fortunate position of sitting in front of and watching the evolution of the internet since the mid-nineties, and it's an enjoyable experience for me to speak to others about it, when typically I'm sitting quietly all day at my keyboard, barely speaking to anyone.
Perhaps it's a ying and yang thing, but after all that talking, I'm keen to get back to writing this week.
Because there was a waiting-list for this seminar, I will probably run it again in July this year. Keep your eye on the ACT Writers Centre workshop calendar for updates.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Benefits of a writing-buddy

Cheesy but true

What the heck?

I looked at my blog and saw that I completely missed posting an entry at all in February.

I know I've been busy - I can tell from that frantic nervous feeling I have deep down in my gut.

I did do an online writing course, which had some interesting concepts that I found helpful as a writer, but that's something I might talk about at another time.

What I want to say right now is that I had a great couple of days preparing for a lunch meeting with my writer-friend.

I had to have something ready for him to review, and I can honestly say, that if we didn't have our meeting scheduled, there's NO WAY I would have written the article that I wanted to do.

It's a lesson I keep having to re-learn: unless I set a definite deadline to complete a writing project, it won't get done. It will just sit there in the 'to do list' of my mind, creating clutter and frustration. Then that vision is tagged with the cliche, 'I'll get around to it some day.'


I know this ABSOLUTELY from bitter experience.

There's no point beating myself up about it, about how poor my self-discipline is, or how scattered my mind gets.

Without a deadline, any writing project is meaningless.

My fortnightly meetings with my friend reminds me of the joy I have when I sit down to write creatively. He gives me the gift of connecting with that ineffable 'something' that sends electricity through my body when I write, like I'm a kid again and I'm just SO DAMN EXCITED.

I too often forget that feeling.

So my writing-buddy is one of the best gifts I have.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Becoming a Healthier Writer

Willing is not enough; we must do. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. - Bruce Lee

One of the 'problems' of being a writer is that your reality can be mostly what goes on inside your head, and as you sit at the keyboard, year after year, your butt and gut slowly swell before you realize it.
After recently discovering that my butt was reaching felonious proportions, I decided to take action, using a vehicle that I hope will keep me motivated over the long term.

I've started a separate blog which will track my progress to achieve physical fitness this year: Martial Arts Fitness.

Let's see how I go!