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Manawatu Writers’ Festival 2018 (Sept 7 – 11)

We welcome our guest blogger Rita Stirling-Vincent…

As a newbie to the “I’m gonna be a writer” gang, I really didn’t know what to expect from the festival. It’s the first I’ve attended. I was prepared to sit in dark, draughty town halls, sifting through the pearls of wisdom scattered by successful writers, published writers, real writers. Now I would get guidance on how to begin this crazy career. There would be illumination of the way forward.


Over the course of a weekend, I discovered that there is no right way to write. You can be a planner a` la Michael Hauge, with your 6-act story structure and a percentage allocation of words to each section. Or you can be a “pantser” – write by the seat of your pants, letting the story and characters take over. It seems both ends of the spectrum and all points between are equally valid. Who knew?

Turns out there were no drear town halls either. The three sessions that I attended were in well appointed, light and comfortable spaces in the pretty town of Feilding.

The first was in the function room of the Amayjen Restaurant with Stephanie Johnson. As we arrived, we were greeted with a warm welcome and an infectious laugh. The workshop was Writing Erotica with Elegance. Seemed a good idea in the comfort of my own home, but the reality of facing a bunch of strangers all there for the same purpose initially felt awkward. A round-the-room introduction of name and home town settled us down until an elderly, white-haired gent joined the group of all women. We applauded his bravery. As this session was a workshop, Stephanie set us a couple of writing exercises and I have to thank the Manawatu Writers Festival team for the provision of notebooks – for free. In fact, the whole festival was free.

My second session was in the Feilding Little Theatre with Lyn McConchie and was billed as NZ Fantasy/Sci-fi. It turns out that Lyn is a pantser. To paraphrase, she nudges her sub conscious for a book then she takes dictation. She is able to produce 3 or 4 books each year and currently has 44 books published. She also ranges across genres and then, using a large network of writers around the world, will write a book and seek a suitable publisher. This was a fascinating talk, from a prolific writer who seems inexhaustible.

My third session was Sunday morning in a quiet nook of the Feilding Library with Romance Writer Bronwyn Evans. Bronwyn cheerfully admitted to being a planner and she had a wealth of information to impart covering such things as the various genres of romance writing, the various tropes that could be used in each of those genres but always concentrating on the Happily Ever After or Happy For Now resolution as this is what defines a romance.

The statistics on who reads romance and how much they consume are staggering. Yes, it is possible to earn 6-figure incomes, but it also takes hard work as well. There is an expectation of a writer who becomes successful to produce a new book every 3 or 4 months. Whew! No pressure.

Bronwyn also covered the difference between publishing in print with a publishing house, self-publishing and e-books. It was a very informative session and I came away with pages of scribbled notes.

Bronwyn’s advice is to write what you love to read and one of her slides was a Venn diagram of

  • What you love to read
  • What readers love to read
  • What’s easiest for you to write

The sweet spot is where those circles intersect.

Full kudos to the Festival organisers, pulling together 46 events over 4 days all of which (apart from the opening session) were free. This meant there were double-ups so hard choices had to be made.

My take-away from this weekend is to read, read, read and to write, write, write. I also loved their appropriate use of the much-maligned apostrophe. Sigh.

Rita Stirling-Vincent was a member of the Upper Hutt writing group known as The Writer’s Plot and has a short story in the last anthology C’est la Vie

The next Manawatu Writers Festival will be held in 2020.

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Enter, writers in crime …

As we (im)patiently wait for the 10 long listed books for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards which is due to happen on Tuesday 22 May 2018, we looked at the books in the shop that are entrants this year … what an eclectic mix. An amazing 66 books are up for the award this year… and we have 13 of them.

Continue reading Enter, writers in crime …

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Our staff Picks for Mother’s Day

Mothers Day this Sunday 13th May and what better way to say to mum that she is appreciated than to spoil her with books and some time for herself to read.
We asked some of our volunteers and frequent buyers what they recommend or what they would like to get for Mothers’ Day. We hope you can find some inspiration among the picks – either for yourself, or for a woman in your life that deserves a treat.

Continue reading Our staff Picks for Mother’s Day

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Why We Don’t All Like the Same Books

We welcome our guest blogger Nōnen Títi …

Why do we go around saying that one or another book “is good”, “is fascinating”, “is realistic”, or, alternatively, “is stupid”, “is simplistic” or “is not proper literature”? Why do we express our opinion about certain genres of books as if they are factual?

I am not talking about books that can justifiably be labelled “not very good”, because they have problems with grammar, punctuation, cohesion, pace, tone and characterization – problems related to the ability to use language or the craft of writing itself – which are somewhat objective measurements. Continue reading Why We Don’t All Like the Same Books

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Celebrating International Women’s Day

The 2018 theme for International Women’s Day is Achieve gender equality and empower rural women and girls.
We have excellent reads, that will motivate, encourage or inspire, see these and more on our website.
A woman with a voice is by definition a strong womanBut the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” – Melinda Gates, Powerful Voices Annual Luncheon 2003
Events happening around the country can be found on the UN Woman, International Woman’s Day page. 

Continue reading Celebrating International Women’s Day

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Book, Chocolate and Wine Pairings – Perfect for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, Valentine’s Day – we can almost hear the eye rolls. We don’t want you to put up with  sappy, insincere cards, overpriced flowers, and the societal pressure to be paired off.

For those who are going to do Valentine’s Day on their own terms, we at Writer’s Plot have some interesting and thoughtful ideas as we acknowledge the one great unifying truth: generally, people love presents. And that includes presents to yourself.

As book lovers and avid readers, we ask – What’s better than a good book? A good book paired with the perfect glass of wine, and favourite chocolate deliciousness of course. However, we also know that all books are best consumed with cheese, but we are leaving that for another day.

Not a wine drinker? Then we have some alternatives further down the page –

There is no wrong or right way of doing this, and here are a few to get you started…

Continue reading Book, Chocolate and Wine Pairings – Perfect for Valentine’s Day

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Cybil dresses up for NZ Secret Santa

It’s time to pack away Halloween and get the girls (Cybil and Rachel) into new clothes! I expect it will take me all morning. Note to self: Don’t forget to put the headless bride away. – Cat

NZ’s very own #NZSecretSanta 2017 opens on 6 November 2017. Get your $20 Secret Santa gifts here! Pre-wrapped, and ready to send.


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Writer’s Plot Bookshop – Two Years Old Today

Come in and help us celebrate our birthday, and while you are in the shop check out some of our new books – we have cake and we want to share it with you. Buy a book and you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Cybil is wearing balloons and has a friend in the window – Rachael Reader. Plenty of reading and reviews coming up. Continue reading Writer’s Plot Bookshop – Two Years Old Today

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Spring Festival Specials

We have some exciting in-store specials today!

Specials on series

Lucky Dip books (7-12 yrs) – $15

Photographic Bird Studies – $40
by Hutt photographer Frances Ross

Blind Date Books – $20


Many more specials in store 10am – 3pm. Pop in and browse!