I Joined the Rotorua Writers Group
I had always dreamed of becoming an author but, in a busy teaching career, seldom found the time to seriously pursue writing. My friend, Marj Griffiths, was a member of the Rotorua Writers Group and had often spoken of the club and encouraged me to come along.
My fiftieth birthday was a turning point. I feared that if I didn't write my book, I would reach the end of my life with regrets. It was now or never. So I joined the writers group and found a place where I belonged.
Hesitantly and nervously, I shared my writing with the members, and received a positive response and a lot of encouragement. My confidence grew. Perhaps, after all, I could write a book.
I Wrote My First Novel
I began writing my first novel "The Crystal Bluebird", and finished it in three months. I had it printed, only to discover that I still had a lot to learn about writing and publishing. A reviewer read the book and wrote an encouraging review, but said the number of errors was unacceptable.
The proprietor of a local bookshop read my book and was enthusiastic about the story, but rejected it because it wasn't up to professional standards.
I joined the New Zealand Society of Authors and found an editor, Patricia Bell, who worked on my novel. Her input was invaluable. She edited the book and her feedback gave me much needed insights, teaching me how to improve my writing.
I began a knowledge quest: scouring the internet for writers' blogs and information on writing. I read book after book on the subjects of writing and publishing. I joined the Guerilla Publishing Facebook group, run by Derek Murphy, and worked through some of his courses on writing, publishing and book promotion.
Patricia Bell edited my second novel “Between Stars”, published in 2019. She commented that it was a huge improvement on my first book and encouraged me to write a sequel.
As an avid movie-watcher and a teacher who thrived on the creative arts and the adoption of digital technologies, I developed a keen interest in the idea of making movies.
In 2016 I enrolled in a screenplay writing course at Toi Ohomai (formerly known as the Waiariki Institute of Technology). I experienced a joyful year learning the fascinating process of creating movies; from concept to pitch, developing scene treatments, writing short screenplays, and drawing storyboards.
I had fun incorporating my new skills into movie-making activities with my students at school.
A Book For the Rotorua Writers Group
Early in 2018 the Rotorua Writers Group Committee embarked on a project to produce an anthology of our members' writing. As a member of the committee I was active at every stage of the project, which lasted two years and involved collecting contributions from our members; deciding on content for the book; editing and proofreading; communicating feedback for recrafting and style guidelines; more proofreading; and consulting with book cover designers and printers. Finally we completed the formatting for two versions of our book: an e-book and a paperback printed version. Heads Will Roll was published at the end of 2019.
We twice planned launch events in early 2020 for Heads Will Roll but had to cancel both due to Covid-19 level restrictions on public gatherings. The Rotorua Arts Village came to our rescue by mounting a display to promote our book and other works by our members.
Study and a New Business Venture
I studied by distance at Massey University during 2020 and completed my Graduate Certificate of Arts in Creative Writing.
During one of my courses, I worked with three other students to produce an online science fiction and fantasy ezine entitled "The Cosmic Gossip". I wrote contributions, edited submissions from the public, and helped to design the website for the publication.
Also during 2020, Marj Griffiths, the president of the Rotorua Writers Group, asked me to take on some proofreading and editing for a member who had been writing short stories for many years. He needed help to format his books for printing. Marj encouraged me to think about doing this kind of work for others. I had often read others’ manuscripts and given feedback and encouragement, but now realised I could offer these valuable services to help other authors too.
I enrolled in the New Zealand Institute of Business Studies and began work toward a Certificate in Proofreading and Book Editing. I'll complete the course by the end of 2021.
I've met so many other writers and authors who just need a little help to navigate the steps to publishing the book or the stories that are dear to their hearts. I've navigated those steps, and love helping others climb those steps too. I can't wait to help bring the next great book into the world.