Why books are the best Christmas present…

I am a big believer that no one can have too many books. Whether they’re fiction, biographies, pop-up books or a classic novel, every book makes a great gift.

The fantastic thing about giving books as presents (and they’re incredibly versatile and will work for ANY time a present is a necessity) is that you can tailor them to the person you’re giving them to! If they’re into sport, you can choose a biography of one of their favourite players – a signed copy would also be a bonus. This works for really any celebrity that the gift-receiver likes or you think would like. If they don’t read much, buy them a hardcover classic with a beautiful design – they’ll thank you for making their house/room that little bit fancier.

One of my favourite things about books is that they can honestly change your life. They can, and will, alter the way you think about a certain subject, and will open your eyes to a million different characters. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read (trying to catch up on my Goodreads account), though each one of them has shown me a different part of myself. It’s no surprise that I love to travel, and reading is an escape for me as it is for many others. I get to travel around the world and live in exotic places all from the comfort of my beanbag (the most comfortable place I have found for day-long reading stunts).

Books are easy to find, and most of the time aren’t that expensive. If you short on cash, visit our Lord and Saviour Kmart for all new and big titles, BUT you must always visit your local bookshop. They need our help to survive, and it’s more than likely that whoever is working will be a great help when choosing a gift.

To all my friends and family, expect books this Christmas!

 

*I was a little sneaky and put Verandah 31 in the photo above, which is now available as an eBook! Buy it here.

What I’m currently reading: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes – the sequel to You.

Open Mic Night

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‘Another great turn out for tonight’s Busybird Open Mic Night’ http://www.facebook.com/busybirdpublishing

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending one of Busybird’s Open Mic Night’s, and what a great experience it was!

We started the night with a quick dinner (pizza, of course!), and then welcomed readers and audience members into the Busybird studio for a couple of drinks and some nibblies before the readings started. I realised the atmosphere was incredibly supportive after speaking with a few readers; they were nervous, as can be expected, but they knew they were speaking to a group of like-minded people. Everyone there was either a writer themselves, or was supporting one, and it was really great to see so many people turn up to what I had thought would be a pretty small event.

Open Mic Night at Busybird is held on the third Wednesday of every month, and they average from 14-17 readers a night. I was lucky enough to come on a night where one of the regulars was reading some of her spectacularly funny poetry, and decided to charm us with a song afterwards.

As this was my first time, I didn’t read anything of my own, but sat back and enjoyed listening to the other fantastic stories that people had written. It’s always so interesting to see how different the genre and writing styles can be between people of different ages, gender etc. We were also introduced to a few of Busybird’s newly published books, and the author of one spoke to us about why she had written her book on domestic violence, before reading a short part of it. As you could imagine, it was a difficult thing for her to speak about and the passage that she read to us was emotive and capturing. Not only did this event give her a chance to promote her book, it was the first time she had spoken about her ordeal in front of an audience.

We finished the night off with a song from BB’s own Kev, which was utterly fantastic!

For me, the most comforting part of Open Mic Night was seeing the community that this event has created. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and meeting people that might help them better their writing, and it was truly wonderful to watch and be a part of.

Thanks, Busybird!

Who Knew?!

It was meant to be

I’ve had an awakening in the past few weeks. One that was incredibly obvious, and also incredibly necessary.

My frequent copyediting, proofreading and constant computer-staring-at (coining the phrase immediately) had gotten me worried about my posture, shoulders and the mass amounts of tension held in my neck.

Most people are aware that I am a stressed person, just in general. I stress about all kinds of stress, even when there isn’t really anything stressful happening (I’m stressed right now as I write this) and, as a result, I am always finding myself tense and sore. I’ve started working on this with stretching and breathing exercises but was recently informed of the benefits of yoga.

Here comes the incredibly obvious part: exercise is good for you!

I still routinely pretend not to believe that epiphany as I sit on the couch with a block of Cadbury’s best, but I decided to ignore my protesting self and give it a try, and boy, it is FANTASTIC!

I owe all of my progress (we’ll call it that for now) to the wonderful people at Busybird. Being at Busybird has changed my outlook on a lot of these health concerns that I pass over as small nothings. The team at BB make it a priority to get away from the computer and all screens for at least an hour everyday; they go for walks, they stretch and move around, and how grateful I am that they have shown me the importance of taking care of yourself.

Like all exercise, I will probably skip it every now and then, but pushing myself to relax, stretch and breathe will help me and all writers, editors and fellow computer-starers in the long run.

If you’re interested in beginning your yoga journey, BB are hosting a weekly class at their gallery in Montmorency, Melbourne. ‘Yoga for Writers’ is taught by a local yoga instructor who is very familiar with the literary industry (she used to work for The Wheeler Centre, how great!!) and she is sure to get you moving and feeling better. Check it out here.

 

 

What I’m currently reading: You by Caroline Kepnes (a recommendation from one of the BB team. So far, it is wonderfully creepy)

Marketing: A Really Simple Guide

Having worked alongside the team at Busybird for around two months now, I have been surrounded by new ideas and the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Aside from it being incredibly fascinating to learn more about the publishing world and how editorial work fits into that scheme, I’ve also picked up on other aspects that are of course integral to publishing a book and creating a financially viable business.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Busybird that I really enjoy how their business works; I’ve focused on editing as a full time role for my future and am now considering that I might prefer something that gives me a chance to move around and try new things, especially to give my eyes a rest from staring at my computer screen all day (which is of course happening right now…). This new venture is a dabble into the world of marketing.

What do I know about marketing, you ask? Well, last week I had the fantastic opportunity to sit in on a meeting. This meeting was focused on marketing Busybird in 2017 and how to best achieve all of their goals and – without sharing all of their secrets! – I would like to pass on some of that wisdom.

Here are three important things to remember and focus on when marketing yourself or your business:

Set goals

If you’ve thought about creating a marketing plan, the first thing to consider is what you want to achieve and how long you are giving yourself to achieve it. Do you want to have your business name known? Do you want to attract a certain number of clients? It can be something simple, like reaching 300 likes on your Facebook page, or getting 1000 people to sign up to your e-newsletter. You have to set goals to be able to reach them, though always ensure that your goals reflect where you would like to be in the time frame that you’ve selected.

Be realistic

A massive downfall for new businesses or inexperienced entrepreneurs is that they are overzealous about the reality of them achieving their goals. To have a dream of achieving a huge milestone is fantastic, but you need to be realistic about how you are going to achieve what you’ve set out to achieve. The time frame here is also important; if you want to gain 1000 people to your e-newsletter subscription and you’re only meeting a handful of people once a month, you would be looking at a few years before this goal is a reality. Be realistic about your goals and you will achieve them and set new ones quicker.

Know your brand

Who are you? What does your business look like? Do you have a solid font chosen for your advertising material? These are all questions that are easily answered when you’ve figured out how to appropriately market your business. The most important thing (apart from the above two steps) is that you have a constant brand. Your audience needs to be able to find and remember who you are and they need to be aware of what you are doing. Use your work to market directly to your audience, and use tools that will best promote your work. If you are running a company that owns tennis courts and you’re looking for people to invest in the future of young tennis players, hand out pens with tennis balls as key-rings (I know I would definitely want one of those if I was at all interested in sport). Know your brand, and your audience will follow.

 

 

What I’m currently reading: Game of Thrones Book Four – A Feast for Crows

(Yes, I finally finished book three part two!)

Books on the Rail!

I’m very excited about this wonderful project! Until recently, I wasn’t regularly commuting to and from the city, and I didn’t realise the amount of people that are glued to their devices during their trips. I didn’t realise this because I too, of course, am glued to my phone, searching through music to drown out the sounds of the train jolting over the tracks at peak hour.

But if I were to look down and find a copy of a book, I would definitely be excited. Those who know me well can account for my love of books; not once have I walked past a bookstore and not gone inside (this was particularly difficult in Tokyo as there is an entire town dedicated to books – *excited noises*).

After reading Ali and Mich’s startup journey and their brilliant idea to bring Books on the Underground from London to Melbourne, I can only congratulate them (and signup to be a book ninja).

So often I find that I’ve finished reading a book and I just need to share it with the world, and need to find someone to discuss it with immediately! This is a brilliant way that people can share their wonderful reads, and hopefully it will get people interested in reading again.

Now I know people will say that they don’t have the time to read or can’t fit it into their daily schedules, and I know, I struggle to myself. I’m not even halfway on my Goodreads reading challenge this year *sigh*. Though I think this would be a great way to catch up and to diversify my reading and I’m hoping that everyone can see the positivity in this project.

 

Check them out here and signup to be a book ninja here.

 

I’m still yet to find a book on the rail, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for that special sticker! Let me know if you’ve found any books, or even just what you’re reading at the moment.

 

‘Til next time!

 

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Photo Credit: Books on the Rail

 

 

 

Still too busy to read but really want to read: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (conveniently found in the photo above…)

Writer’s Block

In the midst of assignment season, I have been stuck trying to write a 2000 word piece on whatever I want…eek! My only problem with this is I find it difficult to channel all of my creative ideas into one that will work for what I need to do. Without a prompt, I find my mind goes wild and I’m stuck not writing anything at all! After finally finishing my piece (days later), I have a few tips for any writers that have struggled with the dreaded writer’s block.

 

  1. Plan

The only reason I find my way out the creative abyss is by learning how to properly plan out my work. This is incredibly important for any type of writing (fiction, non-fiction, critical writing) and will help to give you focus. Once you have focus, you can move forward in your story, build your characters and support your ideas!

 

  1. Get outside! 

Moving your body is great for stimulating your mind, especially when you spend the majority of your day sitting in front of a laptop. Getting outside can also give you inspiration; you could drive or walk by something that makes a great idea for a story. It’s the little things that spark all of our creative genius!

 

  1. Try a new idea

Do you find yourself always writing in the same genre? Why don’t you try something new! If you’re a fiction writer who constantly writes in the sci-fi genre, try writing a romance, or something for younger readers possibly. Non-fiction pieces can be really engaging, and creative non-fiction could always incorporate your style and help you expand your skills! Think outside of your regular parameters and write something new.

 

  1. Write through it!

Just start writing! Instead of aimlessly staring at your laptop (or journal if you’re a hardcopy writer), just start writing. If ideas are hard to come by, just write what comes into your head. Chances are, you’ll come across something you like to write about, something that you want to say, or surprise yourself with a great idea. (Stream of consciousness writing is also very popular in poetry, give it a try!)

 

  1. Have a break

If you’re constantly writing or working and your mind is overwhelmed, just take a break! Make sure you have a dedicated writing space that you can walk away from, and walk away from it. Your mind is the space where you keep all of your ideas; it’s the place where us writers create and shape characters, whole worlds really, and sometimes, you need a break. Don’t be afraid to take one. Your writing with thank you afterwards.

 

Though this is what works best for me, it might not be for you. Let me know if you’re stuck with writer’s block and how you get yourself out of the infamous rut below!

 

What I’m wanting to read but don’t have enough time to read: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Verandah 31 Launch!

After months of editing, designing and emailing, we are finally ready to launch Verandah‘s 31st issue! We are incredibly excited to present our journal to you in Melbourne, and for the first time ever, in Geelong!

Details for each event are located below, and they are both FREE events. Come along for live music, drinks, nibblies, and readings from V31 and beyond!

Creating this journal has been an incredible experience, and I’m so excited to have my name in this book. We’ve worked tirelessly over the past year to uncover the potential of talented artists and writers, and our 31st issue holds great examples of the fantastic work our worldwide contributors have produced. You will be able to purchase this volume online in a few weeks, and in various other places which I will announce when we have a complete list, including at both of our launches!

ONE MORE THING!

This year, we are launching Verandah as an eBook for the first time! If you’re strapped for cash, please consider a smaller donation to ensure the continuation of small publications like ours through the purchase of our eBook, available from our website in a few weeks time.

Please come and celebrate with us at The Owl and Cat Theatre in Richmond and at Beav’s Bar in Geelong!

The Owl and Cat Theatre 
34 Swan St, Richmond
VIC 3121
Date: Sunday 4th September, 2016
Time: 12pm-3pm
RSVP: here

Beav’s Bar
77/79 Little Malop St, Geelong
VIC 3220
Date: Sunday 11th September, 2016
Time: 2pm-5pm
RSVP: here

 

I’ve been a Busy Bird

After months of searching for an editorial internship, I have finally found one at Busybird publishing! Busybird is a small publishing house based in Melbourne, founded by Blaise and her husband Kev, who are both wonderfully talented publishers, editors and designers.

I’ve been travelling to their offices for the past month (only one day a week) and have already seen improvements in my proofing skills, as well as learnt quite a lot about successful blogging!

I have never really considered myself a writer; I don’t make time to sit down and write, even writing blog posts is difficult for me! I’ve never felt very passionately about my fiction writing skills, though the work that Blaise has had me complete over the past few weeks has given me a kind of spark. I actually want to write now.

Their website showcases their weekly blog posts that help writers move through writer’s block, improve their fiction through structure and planning, and quite a lot more! Take a look if you’re a struggling writer like me; their tips have been incredibly helpful in persuading me to take up writing again.

Aside from their help with my writing, they’ve also given me an insight into the publishing world. Some days, I look at my editing work and wonder whether I’ve made the right decision in choosing this as a career. I love working with authors and focusing their work so that it’s the best it can be, and a publisher does that but from afar. Having the chance to move away from constant editing is fantastic and keeps my editing focus strong. (For those who don’t do a lot of editing, let me tell you that it is frustrating, tedious and incredibly rewarding, even when you’re still finding things that need to be altered as your publication goes to print *insert angry emoji face*).

Blaise has taught me a lot through her blogs, specifically about the different ways that you can publish a book. Traditional publishing is all that I had previously considered as a fulfilling route (e.g. being selected by a big publishing house such as Penguin, HarperCollins etc.), but there are heaps of self-publishing options. Publishing houses like Busybird help authors with editing, typesetting and designing their books, and the author pays for the printing, meaning that the author makes all of the profit from sales. In the traditional route, the publishing house that has commissioned the work, or is paying for the printing, will take a cut of all profits made. Of course with bigger publishing houses also comes a bigger marketing plan and you have the little penguin in the corner that makes it feel more legitimate, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be a huge success.

One thing that has been burned into my brain through reading Busybird’s blog is that no one knows what will be a best seller! There’s no special algorithm or way of knowing what will sell a million copies, or even a hundred copies! Publishing is a tough business and giving someone the opportunity to create a novel, whether fiction or non-fiction, is ultimately what I would love to do, whether that’s with a smaller publishing house, or with Penguin.

Maybe I should look into creating my own publishing house…

Future Lauren, get onto it!

 

 

What I’m currently reading: Game of Thrones Book 4: A Storm of Swords Part 2, Blood and Gold

(Phew, what a long title!)

‘I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea.’

I like to think that I’ve read quite a few biographies, though none stand close to this particular one. Yeonmi Park is one of the most resilient people I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. Well, to tell the truth, reading the beginning of her story was anything but a pleasure. It was heartbreaking and confronting from page one. She has had a cruel life, but still maintains the courage to speak about her struggle to get out of her home country, North Korea.

I was anxious to see inside a country we have all heard about; to hear stories of its looks and its people and the way life is in this place we have never seen, and will most likely never be allowed into. It was astonishing and honestly, almost unbelievable, to read about the faith that North Koreans citizens place in the hands of their leader, their ‘God’, Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il Sung, even after having lived for decades in unrelenting poverty. We are also shown into Changbai, a city on the border of China and North Korea; a place where prostitution and the like are commonplace. Park mentions that she has never told this part of her story before writing about it in her biography: ‘I convinced myself that a lot of it never happened; I taught myself to forget the rest’.

It was difficult to read, but don’t let that put you off. English is not Park’s first language but I promise you, you won’t notice. Her writing is impeccable, her story so much more than painful. The horrific things that she has survived are a testament to her character; I will leave these for you to read in her novel, it is more than worth the purchase.

Her life now is one of perseverance, as she is still followed closely by the North Korean Government. She speaks to University graduates about dreaming larger than they could have ever thought to dream; Park escaped from her home country when she was just13 years old, having the literary and mathematical skills of a seven-year-old, and ended up finishing high school and graduating from a top university in Seoul, South Korea. Her determination to succeed is a marvel in itself.

If you are looking for a reason to read ‘In Order to Live’, then look no further. Penguin Books have made her dreams of sharing her story worldwide possible.

Yeonmi Park and her family are awe-inspiring women. Take the time to read about her life; you will be forever changed afterward.


 

What I’m currently reading: Game of Thrones Book 2: A Clash of Kings