A key feature of Karitane is the shoreline - a long stretch of beach with the jutting headland at one end, and stacks of rock in the other direction. The sand slopes gently to the water and is perfect for building castles, the water, whilst cold, is great for a dip. Because of this, it’s popular with families, surfers, walkers, fisher-people; anyone wanting an escape from city and home for a while. (Side note, there are several gorgeous properties available for short stays!)
If you haven’t already guessed, Karitane beach is the location for Out of my Depth.
It’s a hot, blustery December day after the culmination of the school year. Lambing is done and dusted on the farm, and the protagonist’s family are after some hard-earned time out together.
Our protagonist is a girl fast approaching her teens, with a new passion for books and a tendency to push back if she thinks she's missed out. She hasn't yet learned to listen to her gut instinct, though the events of the day might change that.
Come along on the adventure, feel the sand under your toes, the sun against your back, and taste Pacific Ocean salt on the stiff breeze, for there's adventure afoot and our girl needs a witness; one who’ll see what happened from her point of view.
I seem to be in a little bit of a whirlpool of writing memories at the moment, and this story started very much as one of those. I did accidentally go swimming in a thunderstorm with my best friend, my mother, and my sisters. It was calm and still when we left and we had little idea of what was to come. Never before had such a violent storm overtaken our little corner of the Otago Peninsula, and had we known what was coming, we never would have ventured beyond the house! When our hair started to stand on end, we were confused and intrigued but we carried on. Then the heavens opened and the lightning, thunder, rain, and wind, let loose.
Whilst the event itself was worth a story, the effect on the senses is what I remember above all else. The strange quality of the light and the contrast in sound and sensation all amplified the experience, and it’s still clear in my mind now, nearly thirty years later! That’s what I’ve tried to focus on in this story, and to stress the fact that to be waist-deep in water during an electrical storm is about the dumbest place to be! Without intending to, we’d put ourselves in quite serious danger, and lived to see the tale.
Incidentally, just last year we had another massive thunderstorm (though I live at the other end of the farm now and was NOT swimming). It happened between Christmas and New Year, and late in the evening. It rolled on over us with constant flashes, and a bolt struck a tree less than thirty metres from the house. We’re surrounded by mature blue gum and macrocarpa trees atop a hill. There were taller trees the lightning could have hit, but one down an old, overgrown hedgerow wore the strike and looked like it had been clawed from tip to ground by a massive, angry bear. A thick macrocarpa with multiple trunks got struck, as did the tall tree next to it. When the storm had moved off, I went in search of the source of the massive flash that lit the window I happened to be in front of at the time, and found chunks of bark and wood on the ground. The sodden earth released its pungent odour, cut sharply with tree sap. I still struggle to comprehend the violence of that moment! By March, the tree showed clear signs of injury in yellowing foliage. Now, seven months later, it’s clearly dead, the foliage completely browned off, and the tree next door looks unhappy too!
I’ve done a bit of research around lightning, and positive and negative charges. My thought is that the tree must have had a higher charge than those around it, thus attracting the strike. Whatever the science, I can confirm that it’s just unbelievable to experience the power of a lightning strike at close range. The whole house lit white in a triple pulse, and the instant explosion of sound shook everything like an earthquake. My husband and children screamed from the hallway (the light tubes flooding them with light), I screamed, levitated, and ran! At first I thought our neighbour’s house had been hit. It was a massive shock to find ground zero closer to home. I’m not in a hurry to experience another thunderstorm, I’ll tell you that!
In this story, though, you’re perfectly safe. I’ve tried to give a sense of the sensations and bewildered wonder we experienced, so you can be immersed in it too.
Don't forget to check out the synopsis and Pinterest inspiration board, or to grab your copy on FREE Flash Fiction Friday!
Happy reading everyone!
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Pinterest beyond being an enthusiastic user. I’m not being paid for any element in this post, nor have I been approached to write about it. I merely wish to share with you a tool that I find invaluable as a writer and believe you’ll find an asset to your writing.
Here is my Pinterest secret weapon that you won’t see when you look at my account. It’s there working quietly in the background for your benefit, and you can take advantage of this simple trick too.
When I began using Pinterest, I found myself saving a few quick pins over a break time, often to a public board without having the time to click on it and read through the connected material first. I'd go back later only to find I'd saved a pin that promised tips and tricks, but gave me links to purchase an expensive book, or worse, led me somewhere I’d never intended to go. I'm also often frustrated by broken links. I hate to think how many people trusted a pin I'd saved, as I had, and been let down by my quick save!
That got me thinking about how I could safeguard my boards, and my followers, and still save the pin for a later look. I came up with a brilliant little trick that everyone can use to save those pins and check them when you’ve got time without showing them on the world: my YET TO CHECK board.
My YET TO CHECK board is a secret board where I save anything I can’t look at straight away. I’ve named it that way so it always comes up at the very bottom of my boards list, and I’ve given it a bright cover board that’s totally different to the rest of my covers so it’s quickly located. Every few days, when I’ve got a longer stretch of time, I go through this board and check through each pin. If it’s spammy or doesn’t give me quality information FOR FREE, I’ll delete the pin. If I like it, I’ll click ‘edit’ and move the pin to the appropriate board and section.
How to make one (save the handy infographic below for later!):
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Pinterest beyond being an enthusiastic user. I’m not being paid for any element in this post, nor have I been approached to write about it. I merely wish to share with you a tool that I find invaluable as a writer and believe you’ll find an asset to your writing.
Pinterest was my best source of learning when I decided to commit to writing as a career. I wanted to learn as much as I could to make my writing quality, and worth reading. Trawling the internet was a start, but saving and categorising my learning sources was difficult. I needed to know about plot development, character development, setting description, and eventually how to revise and edit, then how to publish. I can tell you, there is an absolute multitude of information out there, and it pays to keep what speaks to you in a handy place. At this early stage I’d been using Pinterest for teaching ideas and home improvement things, and then it occurred to me that Pinterest would be the perfect platform to collect my learning and preserve it for others who’d like to use it.
When I started out, I found bits and pieces of writing wisdom all over the place. There are several superb websites with a large amount that interested me, but there were also sources with just an article or infographic I was interested in. I spent hours and hours collecting items together, and I wanted to cut out all the searching for quality pins for others, and provide boards that contained quality pins and what really worked for me. So, when looking at my Write boards and Biz boards, what you’re looking at right there is all the research that’s made me the writer I am today. My Pinterest account is a resource I add to daily, and revisit several times a week – it’s a working resource for me, and you too can use my boards to develop your craft and save and/or share what works for you.
Side note: I chose not to do it this way because you can only create sections within a BOARD, not sections within a SECTION, and I felt I needed to be able to separate out, especially in the case of my Character Inspiration boards – each section represents a person with their name and birthdate, so it had to be that way. Incidentally, you can have up to 500 sections within a board (yes, I’ve found that out through creating 500 sections in my character boards and having to start second boards!). Give yourself room to expand and, if you’re keen on building a following, do your best to avoid deleting boards, as this deletes all the followers of that board (whom sometimes don’t follow your whole account, just that board).
So, if you know anyone headed in the writing direction, or anyone else wanting to learn a new craft, let them know about my account and share away. Pinterest isn’t just a ‘save’ space, it can be utilised as a learning space, for marketing, sharing, and so much more!
Now, onto Grandad's Wild Ride, behind the scenes...
It all started with a small red go-cart being restored on the TV show, The Repair Shop. A sweet grandfather had brought in the small, red racing car he'd played in as a child. Beaten up and rough around the edges, it sparked just enough of something for me to write down little red racing car in my notebook. The grandfather wanted his cart restored for his grandchildren to enjoy, and the result was a candy-red racer fit for children to have a ball with!
My story didn't come easy though. My children have had colds, the children I look after have had the colds too, and to top it off, I got the cold, but still, I had a story to write for all of you! I had many false starts, not writing more than a few words. Finally I stepped back and decided to mull it over without the pressure of writing anything down. I thought about the grandfather's cart, and his hopes for his grandchildren. A memory came to me of my Mum's father, Grandad Lance, who passed away a decade ago, and his dare-devil, get-stuck-in attitude with us, his grandchildren. Many years ago now, my father made my sisters and I a go-cart out of a tip-trolley. It was narrow and a bit tricky to steer, but boy could it go! We only found just how fast after Grandad visited and couldn't resist having a turn himself!
I've also written about my father's father in the last couple of months. He passed away two years ago, and with my grandmother passing recently, my grandparents have been on my mind. Grandad Ray's story is Burning the Cow, and it felt as if Grandad Lance wanted a turn too.
The melding of all these fragments of ideas has resulted in Grandad's Wild Ride, a fast-paced flash fiction full of fun! Enjoy!
Now that I’ve freaked you out, let me explain…
As a first-time indie author, I was oblivious to this legislative obligation that applies to all New Zealand authors/publishers (and not just those of books or stories). It’s called Legal Deposit, and if you’re publishing almost any kind of publication in New Zealand (see below for a link to the list), you’re required to send your work to the National Library of New Zealand for preservation as part of New Zealand’s heritage. The potentially scary bit is, if you fail to comply, it’s a punishable offence. You may be liable to a fine not exceeding $5000 under section 39 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga O Aotearoa) Act 2003 (here’s a link to the act if you want to read it).
So how do I make my Legal Deposit and not get fined?
It’s actually easier than you might think, and beyond the cost of a couple of author copies and postage (if you’re publishing in print), it won’t cost you a bomb either. Plus, there is an upside to this Legal Deposit business: your work will be preserved FOREVER within the National Library of New Zealand, and therefore become a permanent, physical part of the heritage of our country. Now that’s cool hey?
What you can access here:
I'm covering Legal Deposit (and a little on ISBN) here. If you'd like to find out more about the other items on this list, head to the Nat Lib website.
So, let's find out how to make your Legal Deposit…
Under legislation, all publishers in New Zealand are required to deposit their publications with the National Librarian. Yep, you read that right. I had no idea about this until I looked at requesting an ISBN for the paperback copy of my debut novel, plus, I nearly made the mistake of purchasing one through Amazon. On top of that, had I continued with digital copies only, I may have unwittingly failed to comply with the legislation and therefore been liable for a fine. Through my research, I was lucky, and by reading this, you will be too!
If you’re not sure if Legal Deposit applies to you, check out the list here, and if you’re still not sure, contact them via the phone number or email address at the above link.
So, you’ve found out you’re on the list. What now?
In short, you need to submit your publication/s, and it’s pretty straight forward.
First, There’s a PDF form to fill in asking for your details, your publisher’s details (if you’re self-publishing, you can create your own publishing name, for example, I use ‘Emily Larkins Publishing,’ but you could be more creative), and details of your publication. QUICK TIP: I keep a copy of this form saved on my computer with my details filled in and only have to add my publication details each time.
Second, if you’re publishing physical copies (e.g. paperback), you’re required to submit two copies of your publication (there are some exceptions to this that you might want to check out on the form or website) within 20 days of publication (or as soon as practicable thereafter. In my case, it took an absolute age for my first copies to arrive from Amazon in the US and I did get a reminder email from the Nat Lib that my deposit was overdue. If you keep them updated via email, they’re pretty good about it).
For more on Legal Deposit, and to download the most up-to-date forms, head on over here.
Should you have questions or require assistance to at any stage of the process, the contact details for each department are clearly shown on the above website. All my communications with National Library staff have been straightforward, professional, and informative, though there can be a delay between inquiries and replies depending on when you send your emails, so keep this in mind.
And here’s a bonus note on ISBN, ISSN, and ISMNs…
It takes three working days to supply your number/s. If you have an urgent request, you need to call the library directly. Make sure you tick ALL the boxes your publication will come out in as each requires its own specific number. You can apply for your number/s up to eight weeks prior to your proposed date of publication, though you may request your number/s early if you have a specific reason. You can fill in this form on the website.
As a problem shared is a problem halved, so is sharing those vital pieces of information that can save other authors from heartbreak or calamity in the writing world. So, share away, and I’ll add your tips either to this post or to fresh one if they’re biggies, with you as the source included!
Until next post, happy writing and publishing!
I am in no way associated with Pinterest beyond being an enthusiastic user. I’m have not been approached by Pinterest and am not being paid for any element in this post. I merely wish to share with you a tool that I find invaluable as a writer and believe you’ll find an asset to your writing.
If you haven't caught the other posts in this series, link to them from here: Part One: The writer's best friend, Part Two: Do it once, do it right, Part Three: Injecting your brand into your boards. Enjoy!
I find storyboards great for two main reasons: 1. They help me create a visual plan of my story before, or as I write, and 2. They’re great to share with readers or potential readers to give a sense of the story as I saw it during writing.
Pinterest is an exceptional place to create storyboards because you have access to the entire web. Being image-based, these storyboards become a visual representation of your story, and you can pin links to research keeping it all in one convenient place.
Before going public with this board, you might consider making a title image using Canva or similar. As I’ve posted about before, I have specific titles I use, and incorporate my logo and website into cover images to make them instantly recognisable.
Storyboards can be an effective source to lead readers to your website or book sales links by including your book cover in the storyboard, plus, you can use your cover image to lead to your books, blogs, or buy links too. Consider having them lead to different places, e.g. cover image leads to your website, book cover image leads directly to your amazon link for that book (or similar).
I find my storyboards an excellent source of motivation to write. Visiting them gives me a deep reminder of my characters, setting, and plot, and this drives me to write more. Having images I can return to as needed helps me write accurate descriptions of character and setting, my saved research can be accessed quickly and efficiently, and I get a real sense of what my story looks like from my storyboards.
If you’d like to give storyboarding on Pinterest a go, I suggest you visit my Write! boards (link to my account below) as a great starting point. You’ll find banks of character inspiration images (see below; thousands of faces choose from including celebrities, well-known people, athletes, and so on, with multiple images of each person); Setting Development includes sections on world building, architecture, and images for inspiration; Images for Inspiration has plenty of setting ideas, plus a more diverse section called Strength, Beauty, Diversity to find character inspiration; and Research for Stories has a wide selection of topics you might require information on from survival to medicine, law to ancient culture and so much more. Feel free to follow these boards as I’m adding to them all the time.
Click Character Image Bank images to access below...
Do have a look at my existing storyboards under Read! (link to all boards above). Some are better than others, but all will give you a good starting point for your own storyboarding adventure. Learn from my successes and mistakes, and take from them what you like.
So, why not give it a go? And if you come across any great storyboarding examples or ideas, please add them to the comments on this post for others to learn from. Who knows, it might just generate you some sales!
Home life: visitors, visiting, and school!
Well, New Zealand has apparently ‘crushed the curve.’ That big old ‘zero new cases’ milestone has happened for us, and we’re looking ahead toward a step down to level one. Another milestone was schools going back mid-month. Along with the excitement of children returning to school (aka, no more home teaching!!!!!!), there was the collywobbles of my girls being out of my care too. We tested out the social thing, first with the electrician coming back to finish off the last bits on our house on the very first day of Level 2. I got to hug my mum in the morning when she came to shift sheep (my children went bonkers having Nana around, even just for a few minutes!), and Dad when he came to help with electrics. I’m now the proud owner of a pantry light (this is momentous!), outside lights front and back, and garage lighting that works!
We also had family visitors out for a Saturday firewood-gathering adventure given we’ve had some proper cold days with the first real frosts. With our four, my husband’s sister and family (another four), and my husband’s Dad over, we pushed toward the maximum ten limit for the first time. The following week we ventured into town as a family for more visiting and birthday celebrating. Fair warning: for those who haven’t ‘done the social’ yet, prepare to be exhausted. I thoroughly recommend small doses of people to begin, especially if you’re an introvert like me.
Along with the shift to Level 2, adults are congregating for pickups again, strangely at the school gate, hand sanitiser and awkward conversation included. My first attempt at proper adult conversation felt like talking with my mouth full, words jumbling and competing for use, and to top it off, I forgot to wear my hearing aids and this only highlighted how my hearing has changed over the last couple of months. Eek! Long story short, if I could press delete on that conversation, I would.
We’re all a bit excited to see each other though. Social distancing on the drive at school hasn’t been the most accurate, but it’s hard with kids. Thankfully we’re a small school and pretty much know every other parent there.
Back to school, for me, means back to looking after my niece and nephew twice a week, though this will only be for a couple of weeks with the ‘big boy’ turning five! It’ll be just me and miss 2.5 from then on. It also means Board of Trustees meetings and getting back into the governing of the school. We were a chatty bunch on our first meeting back, sharing our experiences of lockdown, and particularly what we’ve all taken from the experience. My real sense is that for my household, we needed that enforced slowdown. Whilst it has been an uncertain time, we’ve had a government that has reinforced and explained the need to do what we’re doing clearly, briefing us each day on the telly, and setting out next steps with time to prepare. I can’t thank Jacinda and Ashley (Prime Minister, and Director General of Health) enough for being firm but kind, and reinforcing the fact that we’re a team of five million: all in this together, and we’re jolly lucky to be a tiny group of islands at the bottom of the world.
Writing life: hot, cold, and in between...
I’m proud to say I’ve written a lot this month. I’ve had a good go at The Weight of Expectation (though there’s still 95% of the marathon left to run), and whacked out a great new flash fiction to share free on Free Flash Fiction Fridays. I hit my time goal on 30/31 days (woohoo), really challenged myself with an attempt at a new genre – Western – and looked closely at my social media data to see where I can make changes and improvements to give viewers a better experience with me.
Joseph’s Gold is my June Free Flash Fiction Friday release, the Western(ish) tale of hardship and gold. You can read more about my writing process for this story in my behind-the-scenes blog, and keep an eye out for the story coming up free, which it will from time to time over the rest of the year.
I’ve made a slightly annoying discovery, though, with the ambitious goals I set for myself this year: I won’t be able to keep it all up next year if I hope to get The Weight of Expectation out anytime soon! Between weekly blogging, new flash fiction monthly, short stories every two months, and the demands of family, school, and other opportunities, my novel-writing time tends to be the sacrifice. Something’s got to give, but I’m not sure just what yet.
Whilst I’ve been refining my planning and journaling systems (I’m looking forward to my bright and beautiful new journal for next year), and have discovered a bunch of great ideas for keeping track of where I’m at. It’s a bit of a shame I haven’t managed to keep it all going as much in the last weeks of the month, but of course, the kids are back at school, I’ve got my little people keeping me busy, and social commitments are back underway. I’d better get my bum into gear and work it all out as this month has been productive and busy in a great way.
So what will this writer's life look like now?
And so, we’re back into ‘close to normal’ life and the time I had my husband and girls home was far more productive than I thought it’d be. The work/life balance felt nourishing, and while I thought I’d be driven spare by having so much going on at the same time as my writing time, it actually was good. How I’ll return to that balance is as yet unclear. As for deciding which of my projects gets culled next year, or, how I’ll modify my current workload to balance novel writing more effectively is another mystery. If you’ve got any ideas, please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for a solution!
I think my revelations for this month is that I’ve just got to go with it. Times have been hard, unsettled, scary, sad, fun, distracting, productive, frustrating, and everything else in the spectrum. Not meeting the mark or hitting my goals is an utter frustration, but why waste my energy and bring myself down grumbling over it? I’ve just got to acknowledge it, balance it with what’s happening in my non-writing life, and breathe it through. Like the rest of the world, I need to find my new normal. Let’s hope I find it sooner, not later!
Until next month,
Happy reading and writing!
I decided that the prompt itself demanded to be the opening of my story:
The boy’s plight caught me in the chest, however I didn’t feel that this story was his in the telling. Instead, the narrator is an observer, though no less part of the story. Both are caught in that hazy zone between boy and manhood, and both have weights on their shoulders that aren’t a boy’s to carry. They share desperation, drive, and more…
This story required research. I’m not a natural Western writer, but I have taken on historical fiction pieces in the past, and approached it from that direction. I wrote the guts of the story first, then went digging for information on the Western genre – particularly the identifiable features of Western – and swept back toward places I knew, lending them to the story. My experiences with gold come from the Central Otago region of New Zealand, particularly Cromwell, Arrowtown, and Queenstown. I panned for gold on school camp when I was eleven, but before that, family holidays to Bannockburn and Cromwell were spent out in the old diggings; dry, dusty places of shale, burning sun, and the evidence of the search for gold back in the late 1800s. I also borrowed from T.V. and movies, particularly scenes involving medicine and hospitals/infirmaries.
But how to get all that into 1500 words? Well, not easily! I had to balance what was important to the genre with the heart of the story, which essentially is the idea that a strike (yours or not!) could change a life. I found it addictive and used it to build the desperation within the story. If you want to find out how, I suggest you have a read when Joseph’s Gold comes up for FREE Flash Fiction Friday, or, if you can’t wait, Joseph’s Gold (and all other Flash Fiction Friday stories) is locked down to a tiny price throughout the month. If you’d like to check out the images I collected that helped inspire Joseph’s Gold, there’s a link just over here! I’d also love to hear what you think of the story, so feel free to pop a review on via the link. Plus, this prompt, and more, are available on my Prompts by Emily board on Pinterest, so go to it! Write your own version of the story!
First up, if you haven’t already checked out Part One (The Writer's Best Friend) and Part Two (Do it once, do it right) of this series, click the links! There are some fantastic tips there for new or existing Pinterest users.
I am also not being paid by anyone to write this post, I’m doing it purely because I value Pinterest as a tool for writers – they have not approached me for endorsement.
I make no secret of my love for Pinterest, and before I say anything more, I need to be clear that I have not been approached by anyone from Pinterest, and I’m not being paid for writing about it; I’m doing my bit to help other writers (or creatives), it’s as simple as that.
As an author or business person on Pinterest, the one thing you want above all else is to be recognisable – to STAND OUT. In my last Quick Tip post I discussed setting up your profile, specifically your bio, username, and image, and I briefly mentioned board cover images and descriptions. This post relates directly to them.
What learning is how to inject the ‘flavour’ of you and your writing (or business) into your account and become immediately recognisable as YOU. If you haven’t considered it yet, I strongly urge you to create a brand for your business (you can see mine all over this website AND my Pinterest account). I suggest you do this early, as this is one of the most striking ways to make yourself visible and identifiable – think colour, font, a logo, or consistent imaging. DO YOUR RESEARCH – there’s more to branding than simply popping your name on something – it’s a chance to create a striking, instantly appealing signature that is yours alone (for more on this, try my Promotion Board on Pinterest).
The basic anatomy of your Pinterest account is: your bio, your boards (very much like a folder), sections (like dividers in your folder), and pins (the items you place under each divided section). You can also make an image from each board the ‘board cover image,’ this is the highlighted image that stays at the front no matter how many pins you add to the board. You give each board a title, and you’re given a limited number of characters to describe each board.
So, how in this limited space, can you show your brand and personality? The key is to be consistent, concise, and clever.
As I discussed last Quick Tip, I group my boards by type: About me, Business boards, Reading boards, and Writing boards. My first strategy here is alphabetisation (Pinterest organises boards and sections alphabetically by default, and I’ve tried to safeguard my organisation by running with that (so it won’t matter too much if Pinterest, for whatever reason, lists differently on different devices). My second strategy is COVER IMAGE. This is potentially the bigger attention grabber because this is where you can showcase your brand on each image and employ colour to clearly define the group your boards belong to. You can add text to these images to further explain what they’re about without having to click to get board description.
When you’re entering the description for these boards, write a concise essence of what the board is about, then add hashtags that will lead potential viewers right to your boards (viewers can search hashtags and all the boards with those hashtags included will come up – you want your board to be on that list!). I always include my specific hashtags #emilylarkins and #emilylarkinsauthor, as well as #amwriting on writing boards #amreading on reading boards and #businesstools on my business boards. Do some research, and try to anticipate what your potential viewers might search for, like #shortstorytools on a board for short story writing. I aim for a 50:50 balance of description and hashtags in the allowed character limit.
Once your board is cleverly named and described, use your cover images to your advantage. Sticking with the default is fine, but risks your account looking generic. Board covers are a massive opportunity to make your account stand out. It’s where you can get clever: using Canva (this is the site I use) or a similar image creation site, design your own cover images that include: the name of the board, a one sentence description of what it’s about, always include your website address, and/or your name, AND use your brand colours and logo if you have one. I also include my profile image. Cover images can be a real asset to your Pinterest account, and you can set the pin address to redirect straight to that board so when a viewer clicks on the image, it takes them to that board. Viewers can then save your board cover image right to their own boards, and when they click on that image it takes them straight to your board! Alternately, whatever pin you create can link directly to any web address you like, so it can link to your website, book purchase pages, and so on, so lead your viewers to YOU.
Do you have more ideas on how to inject your brand into your Pinterest boards? If so, please share them in the comments!
Hi, I'm Emily,