Thursday, October 25, 2012

Learn how to use Facebook or Twitter as a writer

Workshops: Saturday 10 November 2012

  • Do you want to use Facebook or Twitter but don't know how or who to ask? 
  • Have you uploaded your manuscript to Amazon, Smashwords, etc and wonder why your book is not selling? 
  • Are you tired of publishers that say no but not sure how to indie (self) publish?

Here's your chance to discover the answers, guided by The Story Bridge team of James George and Jocelyn Watkin.   

There are two workshops - come to just one or both. 
Date: Saturday 10 November 
Venue: Selwyn College, 203-245 Kohimarama Road, Auckland.  Free parking on site. 

Workshop 1: How to indie publish your books (both print and e-books) 
9.30am – 12:30pm
Learn the ‘nuts & bolts’ of the indie publishing process from word document to finished book. 
$117, or bring a buddy and pay only $97 each 
RSVP form
Workshop 2: How to use Facebook, Twitter and blogs (social media) as a writer and sell more books
1.30pm – 4.30pm
Whether you indie (self) publish or are published by a traditional publisher, you will need to market yourself and your books using social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and blogging).  This class will be held in a computer suite so you don't need to bring a laptop.
$117, or bring a buddy and pay only $97 each. RSVP form 

Come to both workshops: Pay only $97 per workshop and bring your lunch (tea and coffee will be provided). 
RSVP form 

Email or phone 027 493 9851 if you need more information. 

Bookings close on Tuesday 6 November.   
Click here to download the RSVP / Registration form

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ian Rankin appearing in Auckland

Noted detective thriller writer Ian Rankin is appearing in Auckland in discussion with Crime Watch blogsite founder Craig Sisterson.

Spencer on Byron Hotel, Takapuna, Auckland
12th November.

 I'll definitely be going. Be keen to hear Rankin's rationale for constructing his crime/mystery/thriller novels.

Rankin's hard bitten detective novel continue a long line of excellent detective thrillers set  in Scotland. 

Here is a link to more information on Craig Sisterson's Crime Watch blog.

See you there.

Book Blogs...

I did an interview this week with Karen Tay, for her book blog page  Reading  is Bliss, on the website. She asked me about the growing phenomenon of book blogs and if (and how) they are changing readers' perceptions of book reviews and literary criticism. It's an interesting subject and perhaps hints at conflicts around who (if anyone) should hold sway in giving opinion on published works, and how a reader judges value.



I had coffee with an old colleague a few weeks ago, in which he (intelligent, street-smart, well-read, politically lefty, opinionated journo) said he liked my blog. His assessment of it was that it was aimed at bored housewives with Master's degrees in lit, looking for an outlet for their repressed creativity.
I would argue that the comments section alone - and yes, I do read every single comment, I figure it's the least I can do for my readers - suggests otherwise. There are men, women, housewives, librarians, students, engineers, writers and architects who read my blog. In other words, a typical cross-section of society.

Read the rest of Karen's article here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not taken in

I went to see the movie, Taken 2, on the weekend and was struck by how ho-hum it all was. The first of these films, Taken, was one of those thrillers whose best moments had a kinetic energy that seemed to run up through the theatre floor and into your seat. But it was a one idea film which didn't need to become a franchise.

When you take away all the noise and explosions and flick-knife cutting between scenes, the real film is actually pretty static. Even the main actors and actresses seemed bored, and almost annoyed at having to do this. 

Even the action sequences in the sequel have a been there/done that feel to them. I don't think much new has been done with car chase sequences since The French Connection in 1971. 

It's difficult to get away from storytelling fundamentals, no matter what the genre.

  • effective, individualized characterisation
  • a meaningful context, beyond the stereotypical
  • a plot that has surprises (when you first see them) that make story sense in the wider context
  • believability
  • an attempt at an emotional core which has poignancy, not syrup

The villains in this film (Islamic, as has been the fashion since 9/11) are all stereotyped, and come and go so quickly that we never get a sense of them as being individualized. They have no inner lives that are hinted at on screen, they are just ciphers, balls of typecast anger.

Even the hero's family are merely functional. Liam Neeson's (Bryan in the film) wife, Lenore, is underwritten, a shame and a nagging and worrying recurring facet of many action films. She just seems to be there to suffer, to act as revenge motivation. The daughter, Kim, is given more space and scope, but segues between classic American young beauty and grenade carrying proto-marine.

As for context, there was a classic revenge narrative, which is true enough, but still done to death. The first few minutes show the villains at a funeral, which both connects to the background of the first film and sets up their motivations in this one. But it's too easy.

One of the reasons why the Bourne trilogy of thrillers was so effective was that amid all the action it contained mystery. Who was Jason Bourne, really? Who had wiped his memory? Who was behind the attempts in the present to shut him down and kill him? So the film worked on an intellectual level, not just a physical one. And Matt Damon's acting, mixing vulnerability and confusion with his super action powers, gave the films layers of nuance. They had an emotional and a psychological core.

Taken 2, has no real emotional core, beyond the classic, you kidnapped my family plot. It has no psychological dimension at all. The heroes are all good, the villains are all bad. There is no ambiguity, no self-questioning of motives or allotted roles, no subtextual conflicts bubbling away. Everything is derived and played out on the surface. So because the audience isn't asked to think or feel, the quick change editing goes into overdrive to compensate.

It even fails in believability. The villains don't do a thorough search to find the hero's hidden phone, they leave him alone with his wife, giving him time to escape and save her.  

I also find it a very questionable thread in American movies where ex CIA agents are presented as heroes, or at the very least - ordinary guys. It's a serious liberty with  the truth to get away with either of those lines.

It's tempting to think that the film's only real purposes are to sell popcorn and get us angrier at anyone who prays to Allah.The great thrillers, Bourne, Bullit, The French Connection 1 and 2, Terminator 2 (Judgement Day) work on more than one level, and at their best get us to question our own perspectives of good and evil, question our own motivations and justifications.
Action thrillers have their place, and at their best, they can invigorate and render the audience uncomfortable, as well as thrilled. At their worst they're just smoke and noise.


Friday, October 5, 2012

The Story Bridge Writers' Coffee Club

Many writers want someone to talk to when they have a problem that needs sorting or advice on just one question. They may not be ready for a full manuscript assessment but they just need something now to keep them on track with their book or writing project.

If this sounds like you then The Story Bridge Writers' Coffee Club is for YOU.

In the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, you can move your book and publishing project along to the next step. Imagine if you could meet and talk with either of The Story Bridge team (James George or Jocelyn Watkin) over a coffee to access to their knowledge or back up this knowledge through a mixture of articles, blogs, tips and ideas. Find out more here.

The next The Story Bridge Writers' Coffee Club intake will be in November 2012. This will be ideal for anyone wanting to work on a special writing/publishing project over the New Year and January period.  Numbers are limited. Send us an email (to and tell us why you want to be part of our Writers' Coffee Club. Applications close 31 October 2012.  We'll be in touch after that.

Want to know more?  Click here to discover how The Story Bridge Writers' Coffee Club can help you.

Want free writing tips from The Story Bridge team? Our free e-newsletter is distributed twice per month with ideas and inspiration for writers at all levels. Send an email to with "newsletter please" in the subject line.