Top Three Ways to Support Local Writers for FREE

I get it, books are expensive. As much as you want to buy books, there’s bills to pay, kids to be feed, and you’d really like a pair of sneakers without holes so you can walk your dog through puddles without having squelchy socks afterwards – or is that just me?

So you might have found yourself asking: 

How can I support local authors for free? 

Good news, there is a number of easy ways that you can help your favourite local authors without spending cold hard cash. 

Here's my Top 3 Ways to Support Local Writers for FREE 


Number 1: Visit Your Local Library.

Libraries want to provide books that their members – that’s You – want to read.
And speaking from personal experience Libraries are extremely supportive of local authors.

[I am certainly Thankful to my local library the Dunedin Public Library for all the support they’ve given me and my fellow Dunedin Speculative Fiction Writers as pictured below]

The DPL Hosts Dunedin Speculative Fiction Writers' Panel "Genre8: Flights of Fantasy"

So go in and find out if your local library stocks the books of your local author – if not, find out how you go about recommending a book. Yes, that’s right, You can recommend books to libraries!

And when they get the book in, or if they all ready have the book on the shelf BORROW it. 

The Dunedin Public Libraries display a Collection of Local Authors books acquired during 2018

This may seem obvious, but actually borrowing a book from a library helps your favourite local author because here’s the thing, libraries keep stats on how many times books are read and authors get paid via a library fund system if their book reaches a certain threshold.

So if you feel badly that you can’t afford to buy a book, by actively borrowing those books from libraries you are still helping your local author. Win-win.

And you know what? Even though you don’t own the book, You can still write a review for the book on Goodreads.

Number 2: Join Goodreads.

What’s Goodreads? I’m glad you asked...
"Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love."
After joining go look up your favourite authors and hit the Follow Button on their author profile page. As per the example below of local Dunedin writer Deb E Howell:

Then go through their books and add them to your hypothetical To-Be-Read pile by clicking the Want to Read button.

If you’ve already read those books even better, Click Read, and give a star rating.

Undoubtedly the best thing and most supportive is to Write A Review at this stage. A star rating is nice, but reviews get noticed, reviews count, reviews are worth three times their weight in gold.

Relax though, this isn’t hard.

Reviews don’t have to be a grandiose statement of delightful prose discussing the finer points of theme, whimsy and narrative arc versus narrative drive. They can be, but they don’t have to be.

A review can be a comment “I enjoyed this book a lot”. You’re not expected to write an essay, this isn’t a school report, just say what appealed to you. Was it funny? Sad? Who was your favourite character? Do you want to read their next book?

Trust me, Writers love feedback. Think about it, have you even had a compliment from a stranger? It makes your day, right? Same for writers. Even a simple line like, “This book made me see my city in a whole new light” will make an author’s day. Your single line review might be the difference between someone giving up or not. Seriously. You have that power.

example of a brief review that made my day :)
[By the way, If you do want to learn how to write reviews, read my Guide: How to Write A Book Review ]

Number 3: Social Media.

But maybe you’re not a member of Goodreads, maybe you don’t read all that much and just want to help your writer friend.

Well, even in this high-tech-age, it turns out that good old-fashioned ‘Word-of-Mouth’ is still valid and helpful way to support local authors, and Thanks to Social Media it’s easier than ever.

Take a photo of their book (which you borrowed from the library, or saw on the shelf in a bookshop, or perhaps you did buy a copy) and share that photo of the book cover on Your social media.

Maybe a quick post on Facebook/Instagram with “Here’s a good book I read recently” or “Here’s a book my friend wrote, you might like it” – this is something my friends have done and I’m extremely grateful. 

Look what just arrived!!! I cant wait to start reading your work of art!!!
I have been waiting ages to read this, written by my friend and fellow greyhound owner Kura Carpenter I was definitely not disappointed!! I don't think I've actually read a book so fast, just couldn't put it down. Every page was thoroughly enjoyable. Can't wait to see what comes next, and you don't even have to put a greyhound in it!! 😉😉

Speaking of Social Media, don’t forget: Find your local author friend on various social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc etc and FOLLOW them, but more than that ACTIVELY ENGAGE by liking, commenting and sharing their posts.

So that’s it, my Top Three Ways to Support Local Writers for FREE and none of that was hard, right? No money spent but plenty of support given.

You can do it! And if You have, as one author, may I say Thank You! Thank You, Readers everywhere!
Because at the end of the day Writers and Readers are a partnership, and I for one am grateful to have You on My team.

Now go read something, I’ve writing to do.


Kura Carpenter is a Dunedin Fantasy Author 
and Founding Member of the 

Author Interview: LP Ring

LP Ring author of Long Snake Moan, a Senior Inspector Choi series
LP RING author

Today I’m chatting with LP Ring author of Korean Crime Thriller Senior Inspector Choi series, Ring’s second novel in the series Long Snake Moan is just about to be released in Oct. Available Amazon HERE

Liam, you mention on GoodReads that there are 5 novels in your Senior Inspector Choi series. So, are you a plotter or a pantser? Are these all planned out in advance?

When I started out I knew who the characters were and what would happen to them. I also had an idea of how these events came about and the themes I wanted to discuss within the stories – the crimes being investigated reflect some of my views on society and the importance of a country’s history. However, I freely admit that characters have a habit of doing things I don’t always expect them to do, so it’s entirely possible that Choi and his team might end up not following my plans for them at all. I’ll have to wait and see.

How did you come up with 5 being your ideal series number?

I feel that sometimes a series of novels can go on too far and the stories can become repetitive. Some writers can end up with 10, 15 or 20 novels in a series and the stories and action seem to blend into each other to the point where even hard-core fans are left wondering who was in what story. Also, I’d love to give another genre and character a try before I’m in my dotage – it’s something that we are a lot freer to do in the self-publishing market – so five seems the number at which I’ll have said enough with these people and this situation. I’ll be ready by then for a new set of paintbrushes and a new canvas.

What drew you to writing crime novels?

I was kidded for years by this intellectual snobbery that crime fiction - isn’t as valuable as literary fiction; indeed that snobbery has fallen by the wayside in the last decade with writers like John Banville entering the crime genre. As time has elapsed I’ve realised that the characters in novels like these end up dealing with problems that can happen to anyone in any walk of life.

I’m really interested in social issues and I think that a lot of what irks us about society can be looked at in a crime novel format. Just having these themes within a story will hopefully make people think about issues they ignore on a regular basis. My favourite novel of all time is probably The Secret History by Donna Tartt. She isn’t someone you’d term a crime writer and yet that and her other two novels both feature crimes and criminality as a major motivator.

Long Snake Moan, author LP RING cover designed by Kura Carpenter,
Long Snake Moan
Book 2 in the
Senior Inspector Choi series

What era and city is Long Snake Moan set in?

The novel is set in the modern day in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea is a potentially fantastic subject as it’s a first world country that was decidedly under-developed only 50 years ago. Its history as a former colony as a country riven by civil war also makes it a fascinating study. In addition, its status as a mega-city means that a lot of things go on in it every day – things that can involve an insane number of people. On a more mundane point, Seoul also gets hit by these pretty tough winters sometimes – minus 20 degrees is not uncommon – so choosing the winter as the time of year for the first three in the series gave me the chance to add some claustrophobia to the story.

What part of East Asia were you living in before moving to NZ – is it safe to guess Korea as your novels The Tiger Awakens and Long Snake Moan are set in Korea?

I taught English in Japan for a number of years before moving to South Korea where I taught at a university. That job gave me space to write during the vacations. The winters are long and quite harsh too so there wasn’t much to do outside.

Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?

I’m my own boss and although that means a lot of extra stuff to do besides writing, I only answer to myself at the end of the day. I had a look at a few publishing companies – quite small, niche ones - and sent off a few query letters (I think it was 4 in the end). I immediately got an automated response from one company that said if you haven’t heard from us in six months, we aren’t interested. It just struck me as incredibly disrespectful, and if the company was going to be like that, even if they were interested in my novels I just wasn’t going to enjoy the overall experience. I’d also seen how people like Hugh Hovey and J.F. Penn had been successful and happy without any publisher backing and thought I’d enjoy the process a lot more just taking care of myself.

What have been some of the hard things to overcome with your self-publishing journey?

Technology can be a major pain. I’m a bit of a technophobe so have found some of that quite tough. I’m using draft2digital at the moment though, and I’ve found that the learning curve isn’t as steep with them. It also gives me a decent ‘time spent to results’ trade off that I’m comfortable with. So I have published two novels so far this year and learned some things along the way.

If you could go back and give yourself tips as a young writer, what would you advise?

Write what you like. Don’t force yourself into writing in a genre you don’t like. It sounds obvious but for example, I’m not a romance kind of guy so my trying to write a romance novel would be absolutely crazy (even though romances are often the most popular sellers in self-publishing). I wasn’t reading the right things when I was younger as well. If you want to write anything - space opera, thriller, harlequin romance… anything, you’ve got to read as much as you can in that genre. You’ll learn how the experts do it and it will gradually filter into what you do. You’ll at least structurally be a better writer for it and have a fair idea of how the experts go about things. You don’t learn to cook or do carpentry from scratch. Writing isn’t any different.

Great advice Liam, Thanks for answering my questions today. I wish you and Senior Inspector Choi all the best for the rest of the series.

Please check out Liam's Latest novel Long Snake Moan on Goodreads.
Or  Long Snake Moan on Amazon
You'll also find him on Twitter: @l_p_ring

Or for more info checkout his Blog LP Ring on Wordpress

And Don't forget his Amazon Author page LP Ring where you'll be able to keep track of the entire series as it progresses.

The Tiger Awakens
Book 1 in the 
Senior Inspector Choi series
by LP Ring

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!

Angela Oliver, New Zealand writer and illustrator
Angela Oliver

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 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


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.

Author Interview: Lennard Gillman

I was approached recently by Adrienne Charlton of AM Publishing after a recent collaboration rebranding book covers for Vicky Adin, to help with a fantasy cover design for New Zealand author Lennard Gillman.  

Accipitri and the battle for Heliosa by Lennard Gillman, cover designer Kura Carpenter
Accipitri and the battle for Heliosa - Lennard Gillman

Accipitri and the battle for Heliosa is Lennard Gillman’s debut novel, and today I'm interviewing him about the novel and his journey into self-publishing.

Hello and Welcome, Len,

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
I have climbed in many parts of the world, camped on beaches, mountain tops, Arctic glaciers in Baffin Island and the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. I am Head of Science at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and a Professor of Biogeography. My work as a scientist has taken me to the hot deserts of Namibia and Australia and to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica where I have flown drones to map protected areas. I also have a keen interest in conservation and sustainable development. I have worked as a conservation manager in the past and I am on the AUT Sustainability Task Force. I live in Laingholm on the fringe of the Waitakere Ranges, southwest of Auckland and have three wonderful children and a beautiful partner.

  • What is your novel Accipitri and the Battle for Heliosa about?
It is about a boy (Ferobellus) and a girl (Tess) struggling against a harsh mountainous wilderness and a king who wants to annihilate a neighbouring kingdom. It is also about the development of relationships and respect among people with different behaviours and abilities. Tess is strong-willed, resourceful, and an expert archer while Ferobellus is fit and skilled at surviving in the wilderness, but they both have their weaknesses. It is set in a fictional land in the southern hemisphere approximately 1000 years in the past. The genre is low fantasy because of its fictional setting but it is nonetheless grounded in reality. The novel brings together medieval European and African cultures in a landscape that draws on a prehumen New Zealand.

  • What sort/age of readers would most enjoy it?
Eight to thirteen year-old boys and girls, although adults appear to enjoy it too.

  • I believe Accipitri and the Battle for Heliosa is set in a pre-industrial age, did you do a lot of research into earlier civilisations, or prefer to make things up?
Yes, I did do a fair amount of research but I also had the freedom to create unique cultures and an entirely unique continent. The landscapes and situations, such as the 3000-foot descent down a vertical granite escarpment, are derived from my personal experience in the mountains and so it should be possible for people to enact them. I would like to challenge a couple of modern climbers to repeat the feats of Tess and Ferobellus on a similar rock face using the equipment described in the story.

  • What type of magic/technological is there which is unique to your world?
My story is different because there are no magical powers or unrealistic abilities. The technology is of the middle ages and faithful to the reality of that time. It is the mixture of cultures and the setting that makes my world unique.

  • Where did the idea for the story come from?
I invented the overall plot and then got inside the heads of my characters and acted it out.

  • Which character do you most identify with and why?
I think I identify equally with most of the main characters but I like Tess best because she is the most complex and conflicted character.

  • Why did you decide to venture into self-publishing?
Just for fun. I find fiction relaxing and a nice contrast to scientific writing.

  • What tips would you give to others considering self-publishing that you wished you knew when you started?
I don’t think I have any pearls of wisdom other than to get a good editor and artist for the cover – I could not have done it without Adrienne Charlton and Kura Carpenter.

  • Where can we buy your books?
Email: NZ$19.50 plus postage.