News: ebook Pre-order The Kingfisher's Debt

ebook Pre-order on Amazon is now available for my New Zealand Urban Fantasy novel "The Kingfisher's Debt" official release date is 29 September.

"The Kingfisher's Debt" is a fast-paced, humorous first-person mystery about a woman whose family are all car-thieves with supernatural powers and she is forced to work with the Dunedin police to solve community crimes in order to repay her debt to society."

The Kingfisher's Debt by Kura Carpenter
The Kingfisher's Debt by Kura Carpenter, Kiwi Urban Fantasy #DunedinMagic

Check out these Advance Reviews on GoodReads:

“I’m thoroughly enjoying this book. If you like your humour as dry as your gin, you’ll love this. Cracking dialogue, and a story that keeps its secrets when it should.”

“A great example of a genre that blends crime drama with fantasy in a modern setting.”

“I love the character Police Chief Jackson, who reminds me of Pratchett’s Vimes (although in a very kiwi way). His humour is dry and his attitude no-nonsense.”

“I was quite quickly addicted once I got into this absolute page turner.”

“The family politics and drama of Outrageous Fortunes with the supernatural intrigue of the Dresden Files.”

“The supernatural aspect is unique and well developed, filled with interesting lore of witches, elementals - and the not-so-fair fair folk. The pacing is excellent, with a pleasing array of twists and turns, a hearty dash of humour.”

“With clever re-imagining of witches as gang members, magic as the drug for sale, and poetic touches of what lives look like on the line between good and evil, Kura brings us a touch of ‘if only’ in Aotearoa.”

“The writing was crisp, clear, and had a cracking pace.”

“The protagonist was unusual and I had to keep reading to find out just what made her tick and just what this magic was all about.”

“The author has a great command of the story, she’s in charge and there is nothing unnecessary here.”

The Kingfisher's Debt



Guide: How to Write A Book Review

Today I'm chatting with Angela Oliver, Christchurch based writer, illustrator and GoodReads Book Reviewer. 

 

As someone who has written nearly 1000 reviews on Good Reads, why are reviews so important for authors?

Reviews are important because purchasing - or even reading - a book requires a certain commitment, of time and generally money, thus many readers would like to know, in advance, if they are making the right choice. Reviews are especially important for independently published or debut authors as a reader is less likely to commit to something they are unfamiliar with.

Do you have a method? Or have you developed one?

I'm not really sure I've developed a method as much as a structure, but one thing I shall say is: review as soon after you've finished the book as you can. The initial emotional impact will soften as time passes and key elements will fade from memory. When I first write up a review on Goodreads I tend to write only one or two sentences. If it is a book I am reading purely for pleasure - as opposed for one I've specifically been asked to review - I may not always elaborate past this point, especially if it is a later book in a series or hasn't left a strong imprint.

How do you start?

I begin by first noting down my general impression of the book. Here's where I will occasionally use words like “evocative” or “spell-binding”. If it is a book I didn't like, I may end up going off on a rant as to why I didn't like it. Interestingly, my rant-style reviews tend to earn more Goodreads “likes” then my positive ones. My review for THE Hundred-Year Old Man is my most “popular”.

If it is to become professional review, ie an advance copy in have specifically been asked to review, or one for the Booksellers site, then I will generally follow up with a teaser of the plot. I never exactly copy the book’s blurb, although I may refer to it to make sure I have included key points. I conclude with a general summary of my impressions including recommendations on whom I believe the book would appeal to.

Sometimes I will write a ranting-style review on Goodreads then refine it before submitting it to Booksellers. I never lie about how I felt about a book but can mostly find some redeeming features!

Do you think there’s an ideal word count to aim for?

I'm not sure how many words most of my reviews contain but I think probably between about 200-400 words. That's more for professional reviews, of course. If it's not one I've been specifically requested to review and I didn't feel particularly strongly about (either positively or negatively), then they can be very short. I think the shortest I've ever written was one word: “unremarkable”.

How do you avoid Spoilers?

I try not to reveal more than what the author or publisher has revealed in the blurb. Sometimes blurbs can give away significant plot points! I will tease that there is a twist but not say what it is - only whether it caught me unawares or not.

What’s your opinion on reviews that have Spoilers?

I'm mostly okay with that as long as they give fair warning - and Goodreads does offer the ability to hide spoilers. Of course, if I found a review that started with “I couldn't believe that Jack was the killer!!” then I'd be very annoyed. That's not a review - that's just ruining it for any other readers. If they were saying “Jill’s relationship with Jack felt unconvincing and made me uncomfortable” however, than that is highlighting the quality of the writing (or lack thereof) even if it may also be a slight spoiler.

What kind of statement might you suggest ending a review on?

I tend to try to end with a positive - often by saying who I think the book would appeal to, and why. After all, even if I hated it, that doesn't mean there isn't someone out there that would love it!

Are Amazon and Good Reads the only good places online for people to share reviews?

They're the only two I frequent! Goodreads more than Amazon, since Amazon has introduced their stricter rules around who can post reviews (which includes deleting reviews if they discover you are friends or family of the author). I can understand their reasoning for the $50 requirement thanks to sites that offered positive reviews for sale but it does make it harder for people who review ARCs. Goodreads would probably be better if people weren't allowed to review books before they were even released though. I also have book reviews on Booksellers website, but those are ones I review on request.

What’s the hardest things about reviewing books?

Trying to write a positive and professional review about a book I didn't particularly enjoy! I've found words I can use that make the negative sound more positive - which is perhaps where my writing skills are put to use!

Can you explain some of the common terms eg/ TBR, DNF, ARC?

  • TBR means: “To Be Read” and like most authors, I've quite a pile of those!
  • DNF is “Did Not Finish”. I've a few of those: sometimes no matter how promising a book sounds, the writing style or characterisation just doesn't work. And life is too short to read bad books.
  • ARC is “Advanced Review (or Reader) Copy”.

What are some tips for newbie reviews to build up a following?
Write a negative review of a popular book - you might be surprised how many people agree with you! But I guess, be honest, but not offensive, and, if you are an author that gets a negative review, don't start an argument with the reviewer!

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Angela Oliver, New Zealand writer and illustrator
Angela Oliver
 ABOUT:

Angela Oliver (LemurKat) is a dedicated bibliophile and has been reviewing books online for over a decade. 
She officially reviews selected titles for Booksellers NZ. 
Since joining Goodreads in 2011, she has reviewed almost 1000 books. You can visit her Goodreads page and see what she's reading (and writing) HERE

Writing Groups NZ: Otago Writers' Network

Today I'm chatting with Jane Woodham about the Otago Writers' Network.

Otago Writers' Network

What is the Otago Writers' Network?
The Otago Writers' Network is a website designed to help put writers in contact with either existing writing groups or with other people looking to start up a new writing group.


Who started it? (And when)
It was started by the members of Kath Beattie’s Writing Group in 2017, and came about almost by accident.

We wanted to celebrate the fact that we had been together as a writing group for twenty-four years. Claire Beynon came up with the idea of showcasing the group’s work on a web-site. Then someone mentioned how nice it was to hear the writer read aloud their work, and words like podcasts and MP3 files started to get thrown about. As newest group member I volunteered to run with the idea and apply for funding from the DCC Community Arts Grants. A requirement of the grant is that there is community involvement. We knew Kath was often contacted by writers looking for a writing group, so we thought why not use the website to help writers find existing groups and where necessary create new ones.

What’s been the hardest aspect of launching the OWC?
It took quite a bit of organising, but eventually things fell into place. In order to record our writers’ voices we needed to find a sound engineer and Claire suggested Danny Buchanan, husband of Caroline Davies, the creator of the wonderful Down In Eden on-line magazine. While looking for a recording studio Danny asked Otago Access Radio if we could use their facilities. They came up with the idea of recording a 15-part radio series, which we could then link to our website and use for MP3 files. Lastly we got help from Yvonne Sommer from clickdesign.co.nz to help put together the website.

The most nerve-wracking thing was recording the actual radio series. Luckily for us Danny said he’d help, so he did the technical stuff while we read our work and interviewed one another. I’d warned each member we’d need about 24 minutes of material, including a reading and an interview, as well as a couple of pieces of music. We had two days in which to record 15 hours of radio.  Not to put too fine a point on it, half our group are over seventy. Websites and podcasts leave them cold, but as soon as I mentioned a radio series their eyes lit up. I asked them to pair themselves up, and drew up a timetable. Danny and I weren’t sure we could get it all done in two days, but crossed our fingers and waited.  We were gobsmacked. Along everyone came, clutching their pieces of paper, on time and fully prepared, and we were done in half the time. They were so professional.

We launched the website at the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival in May 2017. There being twelve of us present that day we worried the panel might outnumber the audience, but the Dunningham Suite was packed. One by one the group spoke about their experience of being in a writing group, about what they felt they had gained and why they recommended others to join or create their own groups. It was a magical afternoon. I was very proud to be part of that group.

What it is you hope to achieve with the OWN?
A strong network of writing groups across Otago. Not just generic writing groups, but also specific groups, ie groups for people who write for children, or groups for self-publishers, or groups for male writers … why belong to just one group when you can belong to several?

How can other Otago writers become involved?
On our website is a page that lists the writing groups within Otago HERE. If you are looking to join a writing group, that is a good place to look for one.

If you’re not sure which is the best group for you, contact us by completing the form on the Contact Us page and we will suggest a group. 

If you can’t see a group there that appeals to you, you might wish to start your own, in which case we could list it.

If you belong to a writing group that is not listed, let us know and we will add you to our list. We have created one new group, and added many writers to existing groups.

We nearly started a men’s group, but so far that has failed to materialise.

Another way to meet other writers is at the NZSA Salon, which is held every second Monday of the month at the Athenaeum Library, in the Octagon. Paddy Richardson and I are on the committee. Members of our first new writing group ‘Black Ink’ have read for us, as have members of Dunedin Writers’ Workshop, Writing Dunedin and Kath’s Writing Group. It’s a great place for new writers to practice the art of reading their work aloud, as well being somewhere you can listen to the experts, last year we had Scottish writers Lesley Glaister and Andrew Greig, this October we have former poet laureate Jenny Bernholdt with Greg O’Brien and our very own Claire Beynon.

Thank You so much Jane, for telling us all about the OWN and its creation, and I encourage you all to visit the website of the Otago Writers' Network

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Twister by Jane Woodham

Jane Woodham, is the author of Twister, a Dunedin-based crime novel published by Rosa Mira Books in 2015 and in 2016 was a finalist in the Ngaio Marsh First Book Awards.