Sorry Harry Potter, you are too dumb to do magic.

Picture of Daniel Radcliff

I am always looking for new books, movies and other media that might give me all the feelings I had when reading the Harry Potter series.

I was twelve when Harry first entered stage left and while my love of the boy wizard might have been heightened by hormones I believed it was true and like every other muggle I wanted to go to Hogwarts more than anything in the whole world. I waited in vain for my letter but I lived through my seven years with Harry, Ron and Hermione, thrilled by every danger and exhilarated by every victory.

In my heart I know those books hold a special place that cannot be recreated because they are unique but there are plenty of other authors doing amazing things in the fantasy genera that also deserve my attention.

hermione after the battle of hogwarts

Hermione having all the feelings about Harry Potter being too dumb.

 

While trawling the internet for reading recommendations I discovered a list of books on Bustle that promised to be ‘just as magical as Harry Potter. ‘ Moving faster then a Basilisk I set out to recapture the delight of magical worlds and promptly started reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

I read the book veraciously, devouring the intricate world building and magical  storytelling (excuse the pun), however as I moved further and further into the tale something niggled at the back of my mind. Annoying me like a thorn in the paw.

And then it hit me. Why was everyone at Brakebills (Grossman’s version of Hogwarts) genius level smart?

student levitating in the Syfy channel's The Magicians

All of your Craft and Charmed obsessions coming to life in the new Syfy channel’s version of The Magicians.

I mean Ron and Harry were not exactly breaking the bank with their IQ’s (Hermione left them in the dirt on that score multiple times) but their other qualities, bravery, resourcefulness, rule breaking, were always celebrated by their author.

Unfortunately it seems in Grossman’s world only the geniuses are capable of understanding or performing magic. I can only assume this is because learning the craft is complicated, tedious and really hard to do. Or so the author would have us believe. But why should that mean that only the ‘really smart’ kids and not the ‘super determined’ ones make it to magic school?

I’m not saying this is a ‘everyone should get a award for participation’ situation but certainly reading this book it annoyed me that only clever people and not everyone had a chance to learn magic. That is unless you get drafted by the bad guys, but that’s another story.

I like to think I’m not a total idiot but let’s be honest I’m not a spelling bee champion or science fair award winner. Reading this book and realising that everyone at the school is achingly clever, something that we are almost constantly remind of, made it feel almost impossible to believe that I could be one of the Brakebills crew, curbing my enjoyment of the story.

Anyway, I’m curious to know what you think? As an author is it more important to create a world where everyone has a shot of being the hero or is it more important that the world fits the characters and not the wants/desires of the reader?

How to cover a live event with social media

image

How to cover a live event with social media – Byron Bay Writers Festival: Gearing up for a Social Media Storm.

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Don’t let my bird-nest bad hair or manic over caffeinated lip twitch fool you, last week I had the pleasure of covering  social media for the Byron Bay Writers Festival AND IT WAS AMAZING!

I have been working in marketing and social media for many years but I have only ever covered one other live event. Unlike my normal routine of carefully selected or crafted pieces of content, the three days of the writers festival were bananas. A heady mix of rushing between different tents across the festival site, listening to and distilling lectures into 140 characters and taking so many  pictures. It really  was an incredible experience, one which I hope I get to relive again next year,  and I definitely learnt a lot. So below are a few things I picked up from my own experience that you might find useful for your next live event.

image

My advice:

1. Know your goal.

Are you trying to increase followers, create hype or provide timely newsworthy content? Maybe all three.

Speak to your client and get a clear sense of what they want from your efforts. Find out how many different platforms shall you be working across, where do they want you to focus most of you attention and what are their KPIs.

You can spend all the time in the world creating brilliant content but if you are not delivering on the clients specific needs you are wasting everyone’s time.

2. Be prepared.

Lots of little things can get in the way of you providing consistent high quality coverage for your chosen event. Some things you might need to know are: will you have regular internet on site? Somewhere to charge your computer/device? Are you working outside? What is the weather forecast? Are you managing a team or working alone? Can you prepare content ahead of time?

Just by asking a few simple questions I was able to adequately prepare myself for the challenges I was going to face. I also found that by having a clear list of the events I absolutely needed to cover, all of my official accounts set up and logged in on the night before and a map of the event site I could pretty much handle anything. Plus it gave me three less things to worry about on the day!

image

3. Take s survival kit.

I’m not much of a survivalist, you only have to watch two seconds of Doomsday Peepers to see that, but a survival kit could save your ass. Depending on your role you could be so busy rushing between different parts of the event that you might not have time to think, let alone eat or drink. Having a small bag on you with a few items can give you the chance to sit through a particularly long session or whole event without having to miss any important details.

My perfect survival kit includes:

Water bottle
Notepad
Pen
Device- computer/smart phone/ tablet (I used an iPad and it was the perfect size and weight for me.)
Apple (fruit not a computer)
Chocolate

4. Finally HAVE FUN!

Yes yes, the quaint reminder to enjoy yourself at the end of the post. Clichéd sure but still true. Regardless of whether you are being paid or volunteering your time this is your chance to kick some butt and show the world what you can do. And if you are volunteering this opportunity could be the boost you need to get a professional gig playing with the social media we all know and love.

Good luck and let’s us know your tips below in the comments.

7 tips for emerging writers

writer

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Emerging Writer’s Festival Conference in Melbourne. To begin the first day the five festival ambassadors each presented seven pieces of advice they wish they had know when they began writing. Below are mine.

1. Write a little each day

I know this sounds like the sort of bollocks your dentist tells you about flossing, and I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, it’s all true! (Note to self: book dentist appointment.)

tumblr_m6iiwqtadX1rr438g

Most of the time I’m convinced I produce the sort of prose that would’ve left Shakespeare sitting at my feet like a starry eyed groupie. But without fail when I come back to that same piece of writing a month later I cringe with the awfulness of my word choices and the sloppiness of the plotting.

The important thing to remember is that writing a little each day doesn’t have to be a drag on your awesome online social life (hellloooo….. Anyone out there?…..). Scribbling ideas in a notebook, recoding great lines on your smart phone or making a litre of coffee and getting stuck in to it for three hours all count. They do! I checked.

2. Organise yourself and your space

Confucius once said, “clean your shit up!” Hmmm… maybe that was just my mum.

Anyway they both have a point. If you have messy work area then you will never make a start on that epic Cinderella vs Swamp Monster novel you have been telling your friends about for the last three years.

Take five minuets of writing time to do a quick tidy and make your space clear. It will generally make it easier to focus.

writing

3. Learn as much about the craft of writing as you can

With the invention of the Internet (yes kids there was a time when Instagram didn’t exist) an abundance of wonderful writing resources have sprung out of nowhere. Most authors will have a website where you can find tips and there are plenty of forums where both experienced and emerging writers will share their wisdom. So make like a honey badger and get amongst it.

4. Be open to criticism

Another benefit of the Internet is that it’s a great way to get other writers and readers to look at your work. Websites like Figment.com and WritersCafe.org give you a chance to test the waters before you start sending your writing to agents or publishers.

The really important thing is not to be offended by what others might say about your work. Every piece of constructive criticism is meant to make you a better writer, not just a cranky crank pants. That said if you are being besieged by trolls initiate protocol #3487.

Protocol #3487 – Do not feed the trolls. Walk away and have a cupcake.

keanucupcake

5. Meet other writers

I found that the chance to go to an event like the Emerging Writers Festival was a brilliant way to meet people who shared my passion for writing.  I wandered from room to room with my fellow newbies listening to the sage swearing of the ‘old hands’ as they described their life’s work. It was equal parts humbling and inspiring to see other people ‘living the dream’.

I think connecting with other writers is the best way to remind you of why you loved writing in the first place.

6. Write in lots of different styles

Don’t just decide that you only write geriatric erotica or academic papers for children. Stretch yourself and try lots of different kinds of writing. You might find that you are best at one thing, say short stories or you might discover a new love.

huge grant

7. Success = Persistence + Optimism

Everyone has a different opinion on what success looks like. But as far as reaching your version, I believe it requires equal amounts of persistence and optimism. There is one thing I can guarantee you will hear as a writer, ‘thanks but no thanks.”

There are always stories of writers who were rejected a gazillion times before they ‘made it’, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and others come to mind. These struggles have become fables within themselves and are passed on to each new generation of aspiring writers.

The important thing is to keep going. Blog, find magazines and pitch article ideas, enter competitions, write and perform plays in your backyard, do whatever it takes to stay optimistic and see every rejection as a badge of honour on your road to ‘making it.’

Happy writing!

If you would like to read some of my work click here.