I find it hard to believe that it has been three years and four months since I last posted a blog, it seems not long ago. My life has been a crazy mix of achievements that are only just settling down to a normal existence - writing, my garden and a little bit of work.
What happened in the last three years that derailed my good intentions to post a regular blog? The first was an invitation from Scholastic NZ to write one of their Kiwis at War Series. With a tight deadline and a massive amount of research to complete before I could start writing everything but work got pushed aside. I was a month late in getting the manuscript to the publishers in March 2014 and after that the editing process started. This was my first experience of working with a publisher’s editor to hone a story. Both my previous novels were polished before I submitted them but they had been five years in the making.
I’ve always enjoyed working with Lesley Marshall my close friend and editor, sometimes challenging her to find any errors (she always did no matter how hard I worked at getting the script right) and other time relying on her totally when there has been insufficient time to do a second draft before a deadline. Lesley did the initial edit of 1915 Wounds of War before I sent it off.
Working with Penny Scown was great fun. It was a different sort of editing - arguing over whether to use the word life jacket, life preserver, life belt; taking out the bits of writing that would only appeal to girls, cutting back on some of the detail… 1915 Wounds of War is a much tighter book as a result - it is also longer because at the same time my daughter Nyrene was reading the script and she demanded I add to scenes that needed more - scenes that I’d chickened back from, thinking I could skip over them because they were too hard to write. Nyrene was right, but I did pay her back with the description of a frog being cut up in the date scene she insisted I write. The book finally went off to the printers in October 2014 and was launched in April 2015 as part of the war display at Kiwi North Museum in Whangarei timed with the ANZAC commemorations. The book sat on the Children’s & YA bestseller list for six weeks. I’m allowed to skite -it will probably never happen again. This was followed by a fantastic tour of South Taranaki.
The other major happening, linked to my role as programme coordinator of the online applied writing diplomas at NorthTec, was the completion of the Writing Mandatory Review of Qualifications. Levels 4, 5 & 6 Certificate and Diplomas all had to be rewritten as New Zealand qualifications. I chaired the governance group and a team of us from Whitireia, Waiariki, Manukau, Nelson/Marlborogh and NorthTec worked for several years on this with the help of some wonderful associates from all over the writing industry. The process was fraught with rejections and lack of guidance, but in the end thanks to some clear suggestions from our evaluator Eman Alzaanin the qualifications were finally approved and upload onto the NZ Qualifications Framework in June this year.
I have recently cut my Northtec hours down to one day a week to allow more writing time and am now back to working on Chasing Silver. I plan to get it completed this year.