Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Back on deck

I'm so suggestible. I read an article yesterday by an inveterate blogger who said You must do it every day — in the way others say You must meditate every day — and something magical will happen — promise. Well, it won't be every day but here I go again. Mostly to tell you that I'm excited about the ebooks to be published here this year. I'd thought of flagging novels for being too long and unwieldy but when four cross your path within a few months, each credible, powerful and finely written (and editorially straightforward), that can feel like a gift you shouldn't turn down.

I've told you before that the new website will soon be ready — well, that's truer now than then. I'll be able to run it myself. Two biggish changes: first, I'll be more upfront in offering editorial services (whether or not those services lead to publication here) — I have to keep this show funded.  And the other (same reason) is that the publishing model will be more collaborative, with Rosa Mira and the author sharing (or seeking out) funding for the publication process, and sharing equally, too, in the proceeds. More about that in another blog. More about everything.

For now I need to potter along to the next bay to buy a copy of NZ Listener which I'm told has several of us chipping in about the NZ indie publishing scene, thanks to Tina Shaw. To quote the lead-in: How hard is it to set up your own book publishing business? It’s not impossible – and those doing it may just keep New Zealand’s literary culture alive.

How about that? Sadly, happily, it might be true.

Still house-sitting, elderly homeowners, tiny internet allowance run out, no  room for pic ...

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Peace, good will to all people …

And suddenly it was the end of the year. Many things hadn't happened although quite a few had. A hush had fallen over Rosa Mira Books. A new way of operating had been thought up and was on the point of being discussed here. A new website was being configured, new books considered ... and then Christmas arrived. The rest will have to wait. Hooray for 2015.

Thank you to all Rosa Mira's exceptional authors, readers and enthusiasts. We wouldn't exist without you.

Grateful for all that has come to pass, letting go for now of all that hasn't, let's go and enjoy our loved ones and holidays. Lie back and read heaps. Make some moments more sacred than others. Tread lightly, with bare feet. Treat ourselves kindly and let the fun shine in.

See you in the new year.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

The state of play

Yes, Rosa Mira Books is still here. It's had a big think about its raison d'être and it savoir faire. It's creating ways to broaden its scope, lengthen its bookshelf, serve its writers and readers, and make its ends meet and overlap.

Rosa Mira Books will say more soon.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Published: the now famous The (e)Book of Hat.

 Today's newsletter:

New dance steps: Rosa Mira Books is linking arms with Makaro Press to bring you the digital version of The Book of Hat, named runner-up this week in the Ashton Wylie Book Awards.

"This is the real The Fault In our Stars" — Auckland Libraries

At 17, Harriet Rowland — known as Hat — learned she had osteosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that began in her knee. At the time she was a student at Queen Margaret College in Wellington, New Zealand.

Going through treatment was often a lonely time, as friends — while supportive — didn’t always understand Hat’s new life. This was until she fell in love with the character Hazel Grace from John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars, a girl who talks honestly and openly about living with cancer. Like her, Hat found life changed in ways that were both good and bad: falling in love and hospital stays among them. And she was surprised by how much happiness there was still to find.

Throughout her journey, Hat kept a blog called My Experience of Walking the Dog, and this book is a collection of those posts edited with the author. Why the blog title? Her parents say cancer is like a dog — fine if it stays in its own yard. Hat’s dog got out. This is her unexpected story.

Rosa Mira Books is delighted to join with
Mākaro Press in presenting the ebook version of Harriet’s story which, just this week won second place in the Ashton Wylie Book Awards (sandwiched between NZ’s famed Lloyd Geering and Joy Cowley). 

From its sell-out launch in February this year,  The Book of Hat hardcopy went on to become a surprise hit in NZ. With $1 from each sale going to CanTeen, the blue book with a hat made of stars on the cover was bought by students and grandparents alike, and made its way into CanTeen gift packs, hospices, adult book groups, school libraries and classrooms. A surprising burst of internet sales saw it fly off as far as Moscow, Prague and Wisconsin. —Mākaro press release

Along with heartache, an irrepressible joie de vivre and love spill from the pages Harriet wrote and her circle of influence goes on on widening. She would have turned 21 today.

The Book of Hat, the ebook, can be purchased here.

“Her writing is funny and truthful and wise, exactly like the Harriet we got to meet when she visited the set last year.” Peter Jackson, filmmaker

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A treasure of a book

Here's a thoughtful, appreciative review of Fields of Gold published this week in the June 2014 online magazine for the New Zealand Transactional Analysis Association.

Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life. Charles M. Schulz

Once in a while, if you are lucky, you cross paths with a book that is a treasure; one that you know you will keep – to dip into time and again – because it moves you or expresses something for you, of life, which has been difficult to put into words of your own. For me, Fields of Gold is such a book.

It is not possible to generalize the experience of what it means to be a sister or to have a sister, let alone what is means to be facing a terminal illness, because the experiences are so profoundly personal and so varied. This book, however, gently entwines the individual and combined experiences of sisters Annie McGregor and Pam Morrison through the last year of Annie’s life using a journal – ‘a shared container’ – as a means of holding something precious to them both about what it means for one sister to face letting go of life and the other sister to face letting go of her as a loved, life-long friend and companion.

You know full well, as I do, the value of a sister’s affections: there is nothing like it in this world. Charlotte Bronte

It is tempting to use clichés when we speak of death and dying.  So often we are at a loss as to what to say to express ourselves, restricted by our sense of inadequacy and fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Sometimes, however, when it is too hard to find the right words for ourselves around grief, we recognize them elsewhere, the effect being a release of emotions held in a place of vulnerability, thus permission-giving and healing; a ‘yes, I know about that’ kind-of-experience. This book models permission to live life fully to the very end in such a way as to give expression to an array of emotions and experiences from joy, exuberance and hilarity to tenderness, bewilderment, and sorrow, which add a richness to the tapestry of threads that hold Annie and Pam together through the daunting prospect of the most final of separations.

You mess with my sister, you’re messing with me! Loretta Livingstone  

While Fields of Gold is written from the personal perspectives of the writers, the writing style is inclusive of the reader through its honesty and recognition that all life experiences, from the moment of our birth to our death, impact on us as relational beings and affect how we feel about ourselves and others. One of the lovely aspects of this book is that it candidly models that it is not only ok to be real to self and to other, but that by being real we grow so much more fully into ourselves and stand with one another with a genuine experience of authenticity and vulnerability that refines and enhances shared moments of genuine recognition and consequently, intimacy.

If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone? Jodi Picoult 

Pam and Annie stand together through the progression of Annie’s cancer with an honesty between them that is heart-warming and real, enhanced by a shared love of music, all things creative, a joy that comes from being with those who love them best and a generosity that is inclusive, right to the end, making room for others to be a part of the journey armed with whatever offerings they might bring be they practical, spiritual, emotional or otherwise. It is a gift to write with such candor, one to the other, and reflects the underlying strength of their sister-to-sister relationship.

My sister and I are so close that we finish each other’s sentences and often wonder whose memories belong to whom. Shannon Celebi

I imagine that Fields of Gold will appeal to a wide range of readers. Having worked in a hospice for two years myself, I know the benefit of books as a resource when people lose their way in the complexities of grief, again because they can be permission-giving, putting words to experiences when words can be lost. This book is also a lovely reflection of the relationship between sisters and a wonderful recognition of the emotional and psychological strength that can lie between two women who have known one another throughout a shared lifetime.

I would like more sisters, that the taking out of one might not leave such a stillness. Emily Dickinson

Pam expresses a hope at the end of the book “that others in relationship will be encouraged, when spoken words are not enough, to find a beautiful book, pick up a pencil, and take turns to write.” I have encouraged our youngest daughter, whose partner recently underwent major transplant surgery, to do just that. She was immediately engaged by the idea and has asked to read the book.

I am sure she will not be disappointed.

  Sue McMenamin

A fanciful stalk from a field of gold and the possible reappearance of Ratty.

Friday, 13 June 2014

A very important Hat and two leaves.

We're back. I was going to include The Rat with the pic but he scarpered, so, just the two leaves picked up from an Auckland pavement after the recent storm.

And this note to say that I'm very pleased to be working with Mary McCallum of Mākaro Press to produce an ebook version of The Book of Hat.

That's all for now. Have to go and visit the (gran') babies. More soon.

Monday, 28 April 2014

What's going on here

Ratty's still scudding about in the north, occasionally settling to some worthwhile project, more often looking as if he's doing nothing at all. Hardly ever out promoting RMB ebooks which, nevertheless, remain as potent and exceptional as they ever were.

Those of us still applying ourselves to our self-appointed tasks have been talking about publishing collaborations (digital here, beautifully produced hard copy over there — you'll hear more about it soon); I've been reading a couple of exciting manuscripts and weighing them up against my time, interest and resources (I need a team of reindeer to replicate what the rat's supposed to be doing; an ensemble of editing elves).

Some of Rosa Mira's authors have been performing wonders.  Of those featured in Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, Coral Atkinson is in the throes of launching her novel Passing Through, set 'in the port of Lyttelton, in a community still recovering from World War 1'. Coral draws richly credible historical characters and atmospheres; I've read this and it lingers warmly with me.

Sue Wootton has a new book of ten poems, a collector's item called out of shape: have a look. "Handset letterpress in a soft palette of blue, green, brown and red on Magnani Velata Avorio wove mould-made Italian paper." Sounds edible, doesn't it, and I know the work will match the medium.

(I know there are others putting excellent work out into the world but if I haven't written it down, it isn't retained, so I hope any RMB authors will jog my memory and send info about your latest creations.)