Saturday, December 21, 2013

Books in 2013: A list with no order

I wish I could give a huge top 10 list of the best books of 2013 but I haven't read all of them so it would be disingenuous.

I spent the first half of this year finishing my degree in Literature and didn't have much time for reading outside of the curriculum so unless you want me to recommend Beowulf (Which I don't) here are the top books I have actually read this year. These are in no particular order, except that of my memory

1. Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. nothing needs to be said it it freaking amazing. Read it or regret your own life forever.

2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I enjoyed my first foray into the Russians and it was a pleasure to read for school.

3. The Most Beautiful Walk in The World by John Baxter. Francophiles unite and read about one writer's great gig running literary tours for writers in Paris.

4.How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen. Essays that made me rethink my whole outlook on myself as a writer and reader. Franzen justified my own beliefs in loneliness and it's likelihood of producing great fiction writers. If you are a loner, and because you read you most likely are. Read this.

5. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I wrote by Ernest Hemingway. That should be enough to persuade you to read it. Also, most of it set in France. I like France.

6. Taipei by Tao Lin. I think he got mad at me at Melbourne Writers Festival but his book is excellent. Specificity is an underutilised tool in fiction. Not for Lin though.

Read them and be amazed. If you hate them email me and tell me why. If you love them email me and tell me why.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On Being an Online Writer

When I first learnt about being a blogger it was 2007. I googled making money from writing and I found a post on the ProBlogger website about making money from your blog. To me this site just looked like any other site, I was young and dumb. I read a whole lot more articles by Darren Rowse in the coming days and I joined Blogger. Between high school and studying at University my blogs dwindled in readership and page views. I never really developed a website that would be able to compare to ProBlogger.

I felt like I was failing and I wanted to know why. I was inconsistent, that was my first problem, and my other was that I knew nothing about marketing my work online to others. I got Twitter in 2008 and started sharing my posts, unbelievably (to me anyway) I was getting traffic. I spent a long time researching how to market my work on twitter, even publishing an article for Darren's website about the retweet feature changing marketing on Twitter.

I turned to writing screenplays and poems, I wrote short stories and last year I wrote a novel. I self-published it, I didn't even send it in to any publishers. I felt that my connection with my readers would be strong enough to warrant sales. I was wrong.

Being an online writer involved in Twitter, Facebook and Google+ I felt I was in a prime position for the people that were retweeting me and mentioning me and following me back and liking my posts to buy my book. What I realised is that being a writer online is a lot like being stuck on the subway, you want to get out and be mainstream, the people around you seem to want to help but what they really want is for you to help them and retweet them when they retweet you, they want you to follow them when they follow you.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame others for my books poor sales. I don't have a problem with my community of peers. What not only I, but most of us have is a problem with being too nice to each other.

We only offer help, we won't critique each other's work, some writers online unfortunately will only interact based upon some unspoken rule that you must interact back. I try and help newer writers out; at I publish new writers almost exclusively. Being a writer online is like starting a business from the ground up whilst thousands of other business' are crowding around you. It is like opening a pizza shop in the middle of a million other pizza shops. It is a little harder to get people to buy your slice with so many options.

Being a writer online is hard work. I critique movies, television, books, I write short stories, poems, novels; I write news pieces and do short reporting. I wake up every day and treat myself like I am working in a newsroom; I treat myself in my own home like a professional writer.

I am an online writer, a freelancer from the comfort of my own chair/bed/floor/car; I am building the business of ME from the ground up among millions of others screaming "it's my turn now!" With a little constructive help from the community it can only get better from here. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Carbon Pricing and the future of Australia.

Dear Mr. Abbott

I understand the importance of Carbon pricing, I am willing to pay more on bills if it means companies will have to pay for their pollution. I understand the logic behind a carbon tax initiative. The Liberal party obviously doesn't and they think that pandering to the public promising price cuts will change the way we feel about it.

I try to show no bias in my writing, but this time I have legitimately had enough. This to me is as clear as the debate on same-sex marriage. Mr Abbott, most people either want it or don't care either way. Just do it. I know Nike doesn't sponsor the Australian Government (but how cool would the election ads be?) but we can still make a positive difference in this country in this generation, in this leadership if you try and do something that will change the climate for the better.

Mr Abbott, please, please, I am literally begging you. Don't scrap carbon pricing, you will only be considered a white collar jerk, I will never call you a jerk, I will never say you are stupid, or you are not fit to lead, I respect the office of Prime Minister more than most. Just because I disagree with you, it doesn't mean I don't respect you for winning the minds of the Australian people. That being said, don't be the Prime Minister known for looking out for the priorities of big business and not Australia as a whole. The people will learn to pay the little extra. You are not winning a battle, you are starting a war that will end when Labor eventually regains leadership and puts the tax back on. This isn't tug of war, this is Australia, leave carbon pricing as it is, oh and legalize same-sex marriage too.

That would be great


Adam Meyers

Monday, November 11, 2013

Will writing ever make you any money?

Earlier this year upon finishing my first novel and having fellow author Christopher Wheat read over it and offer me feedback I was shocked, though not entirely, when he told me to get a job outside of writing. Even though I had written a good novel. I was studying Literature at the time and have since graduated. I had planned to have my degree and then write novels for the rest of my life, I wanted my first one to be a best seller, it wasn't, though it did sell a medium amount on Amazon.

What Mr. Wheat had told me essentially boiled down to the following point

"Writers don't make much money"

My initial thought was of my childhood writing hero J. K. Rowling. Who has more money than the Queen of England. But that is children's literature, fantasy literature has a wide readership. Literary novels don't do as well, that is true, the Franzens of the world will attest to that.

It is my assumption after several talks with other authors that in this world, there exists more writers than readers. Writing a book that doesn't make much money must tell you that the book wasn't very good, that however was not true for Annabel Smith who wrote 'Whisky Charlie Foxtrot' in 2012 and received rave reviews, the marketing was excellent and her novel sold more copies than the average 700 for first time authors. It is an excellent novel and the reviews told of that. It sold 1300 copies and she received in royalties a meager $2200.

So what now? Live poorly until you write the next Harry Potter? Of course not, you have to get a day job. Outside of Australia Council grants for writers your only option is getting a day job, my preference is to have one that doesn't involve writing, writing is my home job. My day job is teaching taekwondo.

Christopher Wheat told me that writing is more of a supplement to income rather than a full time job for most writers. So before you give up on writing all together, keep the hope alive, maintain the dream of selling 1,000,000 copies and keep writing. I don't write full time but the meager income I receive is enough validation for me. Meager income is more than you would make writing nothing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Literati Magazine First Issue Release

First issue comes out January 1st. Get on it

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Can you write a good novel in a month?

Is it possible to write a good novel in a month? On Friday I will be commencing my second NaNoWriMo. For those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it challenges the aspiring writer to finally put down 50,000 words of a novel. Weather or not the 50,000 is the total of your word count is up to you. Completing the gargantuan task will make you a NaNoWriMo winner.

Critics have said that if you are just writing to put down the words you mustn't be putting down the prose necessary to create a good novel. Let alone a great one. Last year I wrote my first novel during the month of November called Twenty Two  and it was good enough to garner entry to a Master of Arts (Writing) program. I spent the first half of this year work shopping Twenty Two and getting it ready to sell on Amazon which I did with a medium level of success.

So the question remains, can you write a good novel in a month? My answer is no. You can write a good first draft but if you enter into the event with the idea that Penguin Random House will come calling on December 1st you will be sorely disappointed. Join in the forums and get involved, buddy up and get a first draft out. I read a lot of blogs by writers who complain about not having finished a novel yet. Find an idea, throw editing to the wind and write without fear. Good luck in November.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Education as Priority

I read an interesting article in The New York Times earlier today. It described, through stories from Amanda Ripley’s new book ‘Smartest Kids in The World’ that Finland, South Korea and Poland have better education systems than America. As someone who has spent a good deal of time within the education system it was intriguing. 
The rigor of the syllabus in Poland was what seemed to be leading to clever graduates. Not that American students aren’t clever but on average they are less clever. What do you think would happen in Australia if a policy was implemented that made school days longer, like in South korea? Or that the work was both more complex and of a higher quantity, like in Poland? What would happen in Australia if getting into an Education degree was harder than getting into medicine, like in Finland?
Of course all of these would cause chaos within parents groups. They would scream for less homework because of stress, even though the South Koreans seem to relish the opportunity. They would complain of higher failure rates, even though the kids in Poland manage to pass what is referred to as the hardest High School Syllabus on Earth. The only issue with Education being a harder course to get into is that the highest ranking high school kids won’t pick it if the pay doesn’t add up to what they could earn in Medicine or Law. 
In Finland teachers are paid extraordinary amounts, because only the very best students can become teachers. The government in Finland promises to invest in Education and then, unlike Australia, actually does.
I know it is a crazy thought, imagine a country that is better at something than Australia. The culture in this country favors sports over education and that leads to a population of under achieving kids that hoped they would make the AFL but didn’t and now don’t have anything to show for it except stories from Junior footy.
If Teaching at University was a 95 ATAR only the best would apply. The best will apply only if the Government would focus on paying teachers what they are worth and not on fixing skills shortages. Making something easy to get in to doesn’t do anything but create a cohort of graduates that aren’t smart enough to do well in High School but because of easy acceptance are smart enough to teach other kids to do what they themselves couldn’t?
How could a kid who gets an ATAR of 60 tell someone effectively how to get an ATAR of 99? They have no idea how to get that score. 
ATAR is not everything though, kids who get into other University courses will have more trouble upon graduation finding a place for themselves in the global economy than kids from South Korea, Finland or Poland would. Because our courses are too easy, high graduation rate means nothing if the average graduate can’t spell ‘necessary’.
Therefore, it is necessary for Australia to stop dropping the ball when it comes to Education, improvement means real investment in teachers and coursework, not giving all the kids an iPad. A smart whiteboard and a projector won’t do as much if you can’t entice the best students to become teachers. Education is the future, every politician has said it, what they need to do now is to make positive steps towards the future and stop investing in new laptops, kids are using them for Facebook guys, it’s a waste of money.

About Me

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I'm a Taekwondo and MMA athlete. I also write novels and screenplays.