GWN June 2023 Newsletter

by | Jun 29, 2023

to the two GWN clients, Arlo Kelly and Janine Williams,  who are among the five finalists in the Best First Book category of Ockham Children’s Book Awards
*Echo, Arlo Kelly (Sparrow Press)
*Holding the Horse, J L Williams (Ocean Echo Books)
He Raru ki Tai, Jane Cooper, illustrated by Story Hemi-Morehouse (Huia Publishers)
Kidnap at Mystery Island, Carol Garden (Scholastic New Zealand)
The Lighthouse Princess, Susan Wardell, illustrated by Rose Northey (Penguin Random House NZ)

From the judges report:
Holding the Horse, J L Williams (Ocean Echo Books)
“In rural New Zealand just after World War II we meet 14-year-old Sid, who wants to be a jockey. But Dad has come back from the war with PTSD and Mum has to hold the family together. This tightly woven novel deftly depicts family dynamics and tensions as Sid pursues his dream despite many challenges.”

From the judges’ report:
Echo, Arlo Kelly (Sparrow Press)
“Eric is visually impaired and lives a quiet life on a remote East Coast beach. One summer he encounters a whale whom he names Echo, and they develop a friendship that leads to Eric making new plans for the future and increasing his independence. An engaging story with believable characters, by a promising young writer.”

Both books were also  Storylines Notable Books Award winner in 2022. 

Take away from this for all of us:   This shows here IS a way to get your first book published! 

About Janine:
“In 2019 Janine was juggling her job making chutneys from her own grown fruit and trying to write a historical Y A novel that demanded a lot of research. She was getting discouraged and nearly gave up until she saw a notice in the Storylines newsletter about  the deadline for the inaugural Janice Marriott Mentorship award. 

Janine says:
“When I saw the [Janice Marriott] mentorship, I thought this is what I might need. I entered and won and it was exactly what I needed. The Storylines Janice Marriott Mentoring Award, absolutely changed my life. I now consider myself to be a writer. “Janice is kind, patient and astute, and a true encourager. The entire process of sending off chapters and receiving them back was fun and exciting. Janice’s insightful suggestions were extremely helpful and her encouraging comments were very affirming. My skills and confidence grew with each exchange. By the end of the six months process, I had learned an incredible amount about writing. I had grown so much as a writer that I completed the manuscript (which had been languishing in a drawer for several years.) 

“I would encourage anyone needing help and encouragement to find a mentor. The Storylines Janice Marriott Mentoring Award is a great place to start.”

Janine is currently working on a sequel, Like The Wind, which she hopes to finish next year.In 2015 her children’s picture book manuscript Seaside Countdown was shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award.


31 August is the deadline date for submitting a published book for the Storylines 2023 Notable Books. Both Janine and Arlo will verify that this is a good list to be on. 


Two lyricists with something to say:

Paul McCartney wrote recently in his book, The Lyrics,
“The Beatles would have done two songs by the time you got the computers up and running.The promise of being much more efficient and much faster was not true. To rely on a pencil and a piece of paper and a guitar is a lot faster and a lot more efficient.”

Bob Dylan has always seemed like a wizard/prophet to me. And now his lyrics are coming true:
Think of  the beginning of The Times They Are A-Changing.
Come gather round peopleWherever you roam”And admit that the waters Around you have grown/
And accept that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone/ If your time to you is worth savin’/ Then you’ll better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone/ For the times they are a-changin’

This was released in 1964, almost SIXTY years ago!



As well as persistence ( a theme of the last two newsletters) you might need to develop confidence in yourself as a writer.  Sometimes being  a published author isn’t dependent on the ‘talent’ you have. Instead, it depends on your persistence, your confidence that it will work out in the end if you just keep on trying. . I’ve mentioned persistence before but confidence is just as important. You need confidence in your own ideas, confidence that you do have ideas  that other people will want to read. 

George Saunders said recently in an interview:  ‘“This is how it works best—if I don’t know what I’m looking for and then that thing comes and finds me. Then I just go, “Oh, I see, this is what you want to be about, story. O.K., let’s do that, since you seem to feel strongly about it.”
He also says that for his most recent story  “I have seventy-five drafts of this one.”


An inspiring  piece from someone who’s doing the writing for children course:
“I am now more curious about different genres. I am also feeling more confident about writing in depth and longer stories having completed all the activities in the modules. I thought my writing capabilities limited me to picture book stories, but now I feel otherwise. When I am reading more books or when I read my own work aloud, I get more creative ideas. When I let my story mellow, I produce better ideas. I find that when I walk in nature, listening to music I free my mind to be more creative when I get home. I am daydreaming more when I have quiet times. I found writing notes in my notebook, about what people say and do, has assisted my creativity. The ‘what if’ question has dramatically helped. My mind flows down paths that it would not have flowed before. My mind is free from words that said, ‘you can’t do that.’”


Stretch your Vocabulary
This month’s lovely word is Lucubrate – –  to work, write or study laboriously especially at night.

Two new words for me from students:
The esculent smell of porridge.
Chisoku- a Japanese concept -be satisfied with what you have. Great advice. 


Get Out and About
Opportunities to network, learn something, be inspired: 

15-18 Jun    Puke Ariki Festival of Words
30 Jun-Jul 2 Mountain Book Festival Queenstown
21-23 Jul     Marlborough Book Festival
1-31   Aug   Hamilton Book Month
21-27 Aug   Word Christchurch
4     Sept     Going West
29 Sept-Oct 1 Whanganui Literary Festival
9-12  Oct    Verb Wellington
13-15 Oct   Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival
19-23 Oct   Nelson Arts/Pukapuka Talks
19-29 Oct   Tauranga Arts Festival
29      Oct    Women’s Bookshop Ladies Litera-tea. This is in Auckland.


From this Month’s Advice

A client emailed me after May’s newsletter:
“After receiving your newsletter I went on line to submit my manuscript to Penguin Random House NZ and Austin Macauley Publishers came up with instructions for sending manuscripts which I followed.  2 house later a friend rang to ask if I had just sent a message on facebook telling him  about my wonderful good fortune of winning $2,000 to help my way forward from international publishers.”

First, about Google searches in general:
I checked what had happened to you I searched Google for Penguin and up came Penguin as you would expect BUT you must be careful with any Google searches because at the top of most searches there will be “sponsored’ material which isn’t the site you are looking for. It is advertisers who pay a lot to get their products sitting at the top of a relevant Google search.  Sure enough, Adam Macauley was there at the top, diverting people from Penguin to themselves..

I don’t want to criticism them in print because their highly commercial printing services might  suit some people but I will say I find it highly annoying that their appearances as trade publishers are everywhere you look when you are inquiring about a publisher.  They are not ‘trade’ publishers like Penguin is.
Take from this: Beware of ‘sponsored’ content when searching Google. 


For the Poets

Kate Saunders was awarded a mentoring from NZSA this year and reports she’s enjoyed zooming with her mentor.  She is also adding poems to her collection which is great.
Mentoring and assessing is always helpful. 

 Kate also  read a published poem, Mother Waiting, in the anthology More Than a Roof,  at her local library and enjoyed the positive feedback afterwards . “Someone in the audience felt tearful! YES!!!”Congratulations, Kate. 

Owning your poem by reading it at a public gathering is always confidence-building. 


Ted Hughes urged poets to “Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously as if you were working out mental arithmetic.  Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself to it. When you do this the words look after themselves, like magic.”

“The verb is the engine of a poem, giving a sense of movement or mood.”
Google  Ted Hughes’ poem, Wind. . Underline the verbs and adverbs


My favourite quote this week:
“So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style,  to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.”
George Orwell
I’ve just read a biography of him by Rebecca Solnit.