2023 Looks Literarily Amazing!

Looking Forward to an Amazing 2023! 

I think the idea of being a writer is that you have to keep going. I have been a late bloomer when it comes to publishing success and although I wish I had started in my twenties, I am now not daunted by creeping age and the fact that there is ageism in our society in every vocation. If you’re a cricketer or footballer over 40 you’re out of the game. Why is that? Some human beings have only reached their peak at that age. Writers, it seems, are also over­-the-hill at a certain age. However, the best thing is to ignore the pundits, push beyond those restrictions, keep planning your goals and keep on applying for author opportunities. 

2023 looks literarily amazing for me. I am off down south on 5th February on a self-funded writing retreat in Margaret River for 7 nights to work on my 4th book, The Tattooed City. After spending two weeks at the KSP in Fellowship this year, I realise how much more work I get done away from home. The concentration is there, the distractions are minimal and the quiet allows the brain to think clearly. At least it does for me. See pics for my accommodation, and of course the property has a pool! 

In 2021, I visited the York Festival and met the Festival Art Director William Yeoman. I had followed him on Instagram and he posted a message to visit York and introduce one’s self. Naturally, I went and luckily also met up with fellow writer Rose Van Son who was a featured poet. At the same time, I reacquainted myself with John Kinsella. Not a close friend or buddy, but someone who I had met at ECU and also online on PoetryEtc. In those days, I was a cheeky student and had invited John to the uni café to have coffee with us students. He reciprocated. Anyway, to cut a long story short in 2021 when I attended his session at the York Festival with William on guitar, John reading his poetry, he remembered me and also the university café fun. Making this connection has been invaluable. I’m not one to self­-promote in a sycophantic fashion, but prefer to be a quiet achiever. So having met Will (I shook his hand!, the next year in 2022 he invited me to the writer’s weekend, however unfortunately due to lack of funds it was cancelled. Will Yeoman kept in touch. He promised that a writers’ festival would happen in 2023 and so now recently it’s in the throes of promotion for 18-19 March 2023. I will have a 45 minute spot, hopefully with a self-published York author Karina McRoberts as previously planned. It will be great having this exposure & hopefully I can sell books!

There are also other writing opportunities available in 2023. I have applied for Westerly’s Mid-Career Fellowship. My friends & family think I’m applying for the $2000, but they don’t understand it’s for the kudos; getting your work published and seen by many. I have my fingers crossed but the odds are high. You just don’t know what the editors want. In 2021, I applied with poetry, this time with prose from my unpublished novel The Five Lives of Ms Bennett. If I don’t succeed I will post my entry as a new blog post, titled Grandma’s Chocolate Tin.

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I belong to Bookbub Partners and during this time they have offered some excellent suggestions on book promotion. This year they suggest to advertise your Christmas  Books. While I haven’t any, I have taken up the suggestion to make a Xmas sale offer = 2 books for the price of one + a free gift. (That’s a surprise). Who knows if this will work, but you have to be in it, to win it? Email: hagemann.helen@gmail.com or DM me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenHagemann.Author/

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My Time in Residence

October Fellowship 17/10 to 30/10 at KSP:

I feel so lucky and extremely pleased that I applied for the 2022 Fellowship. A week has gone by and in that time I have completed my MA novel *The Five Lives of Ms Bennett* changing my mixed tenses to all present tense. And although I haven’t changed the story, I feel that it reads better. Also using Text-to-Speech has been a marvellous editing tool. You’d be surprised how many errors and mistakes you can hear. Also in this time, I have shopped in Mundaring, had a coffee at the Lazy Corner Café, shopped at Coles West Swan, walked the West Swan Railway track (3 times) went, oh shame, only one day swimming so far at the Bilgoman Aquatic Pool. 

I had a great time conducting my *Crime* Workshop – “So Why Not Turn to Crime”. Six participants were all into the crime genre and there was much discussion about dead bodies, murder, Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot, editing, crime audio books and a great sharing of their writing exercise. I believe the writers went away feeling good about attending. We went over time so that’s a good indication.

Today, I headed up to Mardi May’s poetry group. I have known Mardi a long time, I think since the Peter Cowan Writer Centre’s days. We had a laugh when I said in class to the group on Sunday, ‘that I used to be a poet.’ Mardi quickly told me that there’s no such thing, to her I’m still a poet! Voila! Of course, I still love poetry and write the odd prose poem now and again.

Thank you so much KSP for my 2022 Fellowship, the opportunity to stay in a beautiful cabin with an en-suite, to write uninterrupted, for the magnificent views to the city, the gentle swaying trees in full flower, the hunting waddle of magpies, and the vociferous bees in the nasturtiums. A neighbourhood cat also visited, but was too shy to come inside 🐈

Lastly, I’ve been fortunate to meet and have been invited by my two writing co-fellows, Ashleigh & Narelle for friendly chats, dinner and drinkies on Katherine’s veranda –great gals, thank you!

More to come….in my second week!

A CRIME WORKSHOP 23rd October at the KSP

Conducting A CRIME WORKSHOP by Helen Hagemann: 

Throughout my uni years and studying several genres, I remember touching lightly on British crime writer Linda La Plante, especially her method of research. Compared to my research of watching untold years of TV crime series (Australian & British) & loving Agatha Christie, La Plante has always scoured newspapers for “actual” crimes. She has also done a lot of leg-work, as the ultimate writer-sleuth.

In an interview on Better Reading La Plante states:  I have always used real life as a basis for my books, simply because I believe that actuality is usually much more fascinating than fiction. I am a stickler for authenticity and all of my manuscripts are checked by forensic experts to confirm that the scientific procedures are correct, and they keep me up to date with new developments. In ‘Tennison’, which is set in 1973, there was hardly any forensic science and DNA had not been discovered.  I had to undo everything I had learnt about the subject, which was a new experience for me.  During my background research I speak to police contacts to make sure that I am getting the police procedure right. Earlier this year I was invited to a lunch with over 300 retired former police men and women, some who had worked in London in the early 1970s.  They shared their experiences of that time and it helped me create accurate descriptions of the police station in Hackney, the police cars, and how they communicated when they were out on the beat.  Some of the stories were very funny – one former WPC told me that the capes they wore as part of their uniform could conceal their fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. They not only kept you warm on the beat but you could secretly have your supper too!

Certainly Linda La Plante, with a slew of 40 crime novels + others is an amazing writer to be read and admired.

Conducting a Crime Workshop seems to pale under Linda’s light. I’m a writer of mixed genres including poetry. However, my first book harbours a drug taker/ drug pusher, and a hog-tied dead female/cum/ghost. My second novel The Ozone Café incorporates “White Collar Crime” and my current manuscript The Tattooed City is a crime novel; thoroughly made up, total fiction, and only half way through. I’m just getting it down and will research later. I think that’s half the fun of writing. I’m not sure where the narrative is heading. I have plotted to a certain degree, but let’s see where my characters take me. It would be good, if they wrote the story!

The Crime Genre is enormous and its history is absolutely spell-binding! The following is a sample from my workshop notes:

In the 1930’s the Detection Club was founded by a group of British mystery writers, including Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers – the first president was G.K. Chesterton. The club held regular dinner meetings in London and is still going strong today, with every author joining agreeing to a strict oath:

Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them, and not placing reliance, on nor making use of divine revelation, feminine intuition, mumbo jumbo, jiggery-pokery, coincidence, or act of god?

More to come….

 

Writers! A Great Digital Feature

Text-to-Speech – Keeping abreast with Technology

As a writer, in the past, I have recorded my work, either poetry or fiction in order to edit and hear mistakes. Recently I discovered through my iphone & laptop k*indle, that I can download a .pdf of the work to the laptop and there’s a function called *Text-to-Speech* – a very computerized male voice reads your work, ie. short story, novel or part novel from the beginning to end.  I have started to use this function as it not only saves so much time, but you can hear the errors, typos, and redundant text like too many speech tags, *he says* or *she says*. This mainly helps when you have dialogue happening between two characters. When you have three to four characters talking in one scene, this is different. The reader needs to know who is speaking. The recorded voice doesn’t always get the Australian language correct of place names. For instance, a suburb called Carine is pronounced as Karen. A character’s name + ownership of something, with the apostrophe “‘s” sounds like Claress, not “Clare’s”. However, you can ignore the fellow’s speech pattern, as you know very well it is a computerized voice. One thing I noticed in my MA novel (pic shown above) is that I have *Chapter breaks with a stylized set of *Memos* that relate to the subject matter. Underneath, I have included a line, a continuous underscore before the chapter begins and my young male reader (funnily) says ….underscore, underscore, underscore and continues to say underscore about 12 times. Best to avoid this kind of punctuation inclusion! I will put up with it for now, until I publish & see how either Ingram Spark or KDP like the underline.

On another note: Once you get the fellow started reading your work, he stops mid-sentence if you click somewhere else on your laptop. I thought he would continue to ramble on, if I were to edit the manuscript at the same time. Not so! Now I have discovered that it’s best to hear your work on Kindle – uninterrupted and work on another laptop. I have three! So no big deal when it comes to editing, just save your novel on a USB stick to transfer later and re-save as .pdf once again. On Kindle you can delete the old file and *Import PDF* as a new file. Another good idea is to stop your reader at the end of a chapter. You can start him up again, by clicking on let’s say Chapter 2. You may want to style your .pdf without page numbers until you are satisfied with all your edits, as he also reads the page numbers.

Getting Books into Australian Libraries

The Hows, Whys & Wherefores

One of the things that I have experienced as an Indi author (I consider this even though published overseas) is that it requires a lot of energy, willpower and persistence to get your books into Australian libraries. In relation to my first novel, The Last Asbestos Town, it only took a matter of days contacting & negotiating with the supplier ALS (Australian Library Services) who bought two of my books. Likewise, James Bennett Pty Ltd rallied after a few weeks of emails and bought one. I was quite happy with this, especially being an unknown author and first time novelist. They don’t exactly tell you where the book is available, but I do know that a reader can borrow the novel from one of the City of Wanneroo libraries.

MARKETING TO LIBRARIES (This is taken from https://www.alslib.com)

A GUIDE FOR AUSTRALIAN SMALL AND SELF PUBLISHERS

How many libraries are there in Australia? 14,000 — they purchase about 12% of all books sold. New Zealand has about 2,500 libraries. They acquire both print books (printed books) and ebooks (electronic books)

What types of Australian libraries are there?

  1. Local public libraries 530 services with a total of 1560 branches serving the general public. They are used regularly by 60% of Australians and are accessible to about 99%.
  2. Primary school libraries 7,000, many of which have only a part time teacher librarian. In very small schools there will be no librarian. High school libraries 2,300, most of which have one or more qualified teacher librarians Note: private schools and country public schools may combine primary and secondary on one campus
  3. Joint use libraries 120, mostly in country areas. These are mostly public libraries combined with school, technical and further education (TAFE) or university libraries
  4. University libraries 40 often very large library systems, many of which have several campus or departmental libraries
  5. Technical and Further Education (TAFE) libraries 200 libraries
  6. Special libraries 1,200 company, government department and agency, health, law, association, parliamentary libraries
  7. State/Territory Reference Libraries and the National Library of Australia 8 large libraries

Who is responsible for selecting books and other resources in libraries? In smaller libraries such as primary school, high school and special libraries it will be the librarian in charge. Larger, multi-branch, libraries will often have a centralised selection and acquisition department because it is more cost efficient. For local public libraries, some states have centralised purchasing for all of those libraries, although the larger libraries in those states may have additional funds for local acquisition. The states/territories with centralised public library purchasing are the ACT, Northern Territory,

Queensland (in part), South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. New South Wales and Victoria have no centralised system — every library service selects and purchases its own resources, although there may be local cooperation in buying specialised resources such as books in languages other than English. There is a tendency towards use of a small number of large library vendors by state and other library consortia. These vendors will often supply books and other items to libraries fully processed and shelf ready (labels, barcodes, catalogued etc).

What is the financial year for libraries?This is an important issue which may affect the timing of your marketing. The financial year for public libraries and special libraries is generally the financial year 1 July – 30 June. For other libraries it is generally the calendar year 1 January – 31 December. Libraries will tend to have most funds available for purchases at the beginning of their financial year— and less at the end — however, in some cases they may have funds remaining at the end of their year which have to be committed and spent quickly.

The Ozone Café. Again, I have contacted these 2 companies, ALS & James Bennett and await their response. Is it times like this when there’s inflation and publishing houses are merging (Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster) that it appears to spell a culling of expenses? ie staff. I don’t think library suppliers would feel the pinch as they get paid by city libraries, it’s commission they receive on the books they supply to various shires and in the end it’s really the government who is paying to have authors’ books on the shelves.

 

Kindle Unlimited – 2nd novel promotion

I’ve decided to join Kindle Unlimited with my ebook The Ozone Café, my 2nd novel. This is in order to generate more sales, possible interest in my other books or generally, fingers crossed, test the waters and give them a go! What can I lose? I am subscribed from today, 29th August 2022 until 28th November 2022. This is enough time to gauge how this system works and if people are interested in novels about cafés. There are zillions, of course!

I hope I don’t sound like an advertisement for Amazon, but this company is by far more professional when it comes to helping Indi authors. I haven’t yet looked into Smashwords or Ingram Spark who offer a similar service, but the fact that (at the moment)with Amazon it’s free, and Kindle Unlimited (per se KDP Select) as a promotional tool is also “free” for authors, I would say, how can one go wrong? It’s the buying readership market who are paying to read our Kindle books.

This is Amazon’s explanation of Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription program for readers that allows them to read as many books as they want. When you enrol in KDP Select, your books are automatically included in Kindle Unlimited. Your books will still be available for anyone to buy in the Kindle Store, and you’ll continue to earn royalties from those sales like you do today. For more information about Kindle Unlimited, click here.

So, one of the interesting things about Amazon’s free promotion is that if you opt for KDP Select & this includes Kindle Unlimited, the book hopefully, might do the rounds reaching a wider readership in other countries like the U.S, U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, India, Japan, and Australia. Do they read in Greece? Sounds too good to be true? My only problem is that I still need to promote my historical novel also worldwide. I have three blogs, so will be hitting the WWW trail uploading the opportunity for international readers to join Kindle Unlimited to read my novel for $0.00. Apparently, according to the rules, I can promote/advertise but not distribute the ebook.

Oh, the joys of being a writer!

Review on Goodreads

Helen Hagemann’s Reviews > The Crystal World

The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard

The Crystal World

Aug 27, 2022  ·   One thing I have learned after reading good authors is that *fiction knows no bounds*. As an inspiration after reading Ballard, you can certainly stretch yourself in terms of setting, history, imagined, unnerving dystopias, action scenes and even character names. The Crystal World was hard to imagine. I tried thinking about this unusual setting in terms of ice, then imagined the west African Jungle metamorphosing into something like a spread of stalagmites and stalactites. Then found that hard when the crystals dazzled like jewels & a man wore jewelized arm-like armour. However, this is the brilliance of a writer who allows the reader to imagine that you can walk into the lines of a book and feel daunted and apprehensive where the main protagonist & other minor characters might be headed especially into some sort of danger. ie. This is superb suspense! Ballard is a prophetic author, unsettling us about what might happen in the future, yet as readers we have to suspend our disbelief to enjoy the fiction and work of a master. This following chapter is an excellent *action* description of a helicopter!
*Twenty yards from the forest, a helicopter prepared for take-off. Its heavy blades rotated like drooping scythes, sending up a blaze of light from the disturbed vegetation. With an abrupt lurch it made a laboured take-off, swinging side to side in the air, and then moved across the forest roof, its churning blades gaining little purchase on the air. The soldiers and the visiting party stopped to watch the vivid discharge of light that radiated from the blades like St. Elmo’s fire. Then with a harsh roar like the bellow of a stricken animal, it slid backwards through the air and plunged tail-first towards the forest canopy a hundred feet below, two pilots visible at their controls.* Page 74

2 Poetry Books on Kindle

My Poetry on Kindle – 2 Publications!

After learning how to upload my recent fiction book to Kindle, I was determined to upload my two poetry publications of Arc & Shadow and Evangelyne & other poems.

  TV Series Minuscule

This has now given me the impetus to publish all my  ”unpublished poetry” – it’s so fun to see your hard work on Kindle. It’s as if the work has been given a second life!  I have a collection of prose poetry titled Bounty and a children’s poetry collection, Miniscule, inspired by the French TV mini-series called Minuscule. I intend to self publish these two collections and possibly have both editions of print and ebook. Poetry is not so popular when it comes to the buying public, however I have bought American/International poets on Kindle such as Mary Oliver, Li Po, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, Lorna Crozier, and Sharon Olds, so it’s early days here in Australia. Trends change and kids are always on their ipads. They’re the next generation of readers. Check out my Kindle Author Page, on Amazon.

A Poem from Miniscule

Black Hairy Caterpillar

After the charge around the room,
the black caterpillar curled not to move,
I walked away without knowing if he
would turn around, stick his tongue out.

The weight he pulls is heavy
all those legs underneath, the tall
assemblage of hairs, flashing red face
navigating a wall with no ears.

He goes forward with timid stiffness,
climbs down to the floor, door opening.
He starts to run, sliding first, his body
bowing up like a Greek symbol.

I couldn’t hold him back. Could you?
Beating the air with his tiny heart,
dreaming of a windswept courtyard
of quiet, of space, of leaf matter.

When I least expect, he’s back.
No change on his face, legs and hairs
spread along the gutter. Will he fall?
Be swallowed by some greedy mouth?

I think of the creatures of Sylvia Plath.
The ones she wrote in a poem. Would
she say? ‘The weight of his life is small.
Let be. Let be.’

Tips on Publishing your Poetry Ebook

Uploading Your Poetry Book to KDP

One of the reasons for uploading my books (novel & poetry) is I have learned that publishing houses do not have the resources to convert your work to digital. They do this for high profile, top selling authors, but for the rest of us, it’s tough bikkies.

With Digital Publishing your POETRY you may not get high sales, but remember the internet is timeless and immortal. If you die, your work will remain on Kindle Amazon, if you have a free blog/website your hours of posting/ or promoting yourself as a writer will always remain. Hopefully the grandchildren or great-grandchildren will seek you out. You will definitely be immortal along with Hemingway, Jack Kerouac or Adrienne Rich (poet), to name a few. You would think that some story snippets from our Australian authors like Elizabeth Jolley, Peter Cowan, Patrick White or Dorothy Porter (poet) might be accessible for “free” to read online. At least, they should be available either as ebooks or audio books.

As per previous posts, again with “poetry” you have to think outside the box. Some videos have suggested you can turn your work into images like concrete poetry. The same steps for POETRY are below, and I have acknowledged a 6-year-old video from AuthorHouse Publishing where I learned “HANGING INDENTS” – this is because some poetry lines are too long and Kindle platforms (phone, ipad, ereader) will turn the end line and most likely not where the poet intended. It’s best to watch the video (see below) as all other tips mentioned are relevant for digital publishing.

If you have a poetry manuscript or print collection and would like to see your hard work as an ebook, follow these steps. A word of warning!  It is very time consuming, and also be prepared to upload as many times as you want to get it right/ perfection is another country!

For Your Poetry Book or Manuscript

Cover required for KDP.  This you will load last (I used my print book cover, slightly altered). KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing, on Amazon will style one for you although they may be a little bland.

  1. The manuscript is best in Word ie .doc / docx, Times New Roman, Font size 12, in single spacing. Keep it simple as Amazon changes the font anyway.
  2. Delete all page numbers.
  3. Re-format your poetry into one long continuous flow of text so that you only have one or two spaces in between poems. This is in order to insert Page Breaks. Page breaks work best at the end of your poem/ ie. last word – try every which way as we all have different Word editions. Click on the show/hide symbol to view your page breaks at end of poems. Show/Hide is in the “paragraphs” section on Word eg.
  4. You need a title page, a copyright page, a quote/dedication page (optional), author page if you’re new to this, and a Table of Contents – before the first poem.
  5. Table of Contents: it’s important to click on Heading 1 (in style) on each Title of Poem. Word automatically links your title page to the TOC page. You do not need page numbers. You will see why when you use the KDP’s manuscript previewer. Please watch as many videos as possible on how to create a Table of Contents in Word. I have acknowledged Derek Murphy below. His TOC video is excellent!
  6. Note: If you’ve written free verse, you are definitely on the way. Small poems justified to the left work best for digital publishing. Really long lines spread across the page do not work so well as each digital platform will do a “hard return” and you could end up with something like this: eg.           The train, a long tube wound

  its way

  towards the mountain…

When finished promote your ebook to as many poetry readers as possible, include cover, link back to Amazon Kindle where your book is and post the release on all your social media. Good luck!

Remember!  You are the copyright owner of the work and if your contract doesn’t say anything about “Exclusive digital rights” you are home, hosed and out of the woods.

For Poetry

AuthorHouse Publishing – Poetry Books: Guidelines & Design Options

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMVk4BtHK4U&ab_channel=AuthorHousePublishing

Derek Murphy

How to make a Table of Contents for Kindle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ8bpEDHFh0&ab_channel=DerekMurphy

How to format a book with Kindle Create

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qfSMG0-Xaw&ab_channel=DerekMurphy


Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: Self Publishing

https://kdp.amazon.com