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Showing posts from 2012

Kickstart Me Where It Hurts...

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Over the last few years there's been a quiet revolution going on in literary circles. It used to be that literature was the exclusive domain of those with deep pockets and vast distribution networks, of penguins and random houses . Smaller projects vanished without a trace - if they got off the ground at all. Unless you had a generous benefactor behind the scenes an indie press might as well fold after the first book. But the times they are a'changing. Following the example set by the music industry, more and more indie publishers are reaching out directly to their readership, and it's giving the entire industry a much-needed makeover. Even if you've never used Kickstarter, you've probably heard of it. The site allows you to create projects, appeal for funding, offer your fans some unique incentives for their generosity, then sit back and watch as your idea becomes reality. It's funding from the bottom up, and it's turning the current literary scene into

Give the Gift of New Zealand this Christmas

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The days are getting shorter, the radio waves are brimming with festive cheer, the Salvation Army has mobilized its ground troops on every street corner... Yes, it's that time of year again, and as we all gear up - and stretch our credit limits - in preparation for Christmas I'm glad to say that I'll be keeping it simple this year. Just give me a good book and a pint of whiskey and I'll be a happy man. In keeping with the festive spirit, we're running some special discounts on Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand throughout the holiday season. Please consider buying it for your loved ones, fellow readers, fellow travelers, or even just for a random person in the street. Nothing says 'hello new friend' quite like a Kiwi travel memoir. So here's the deal. From now through Christmas Ka Mate is 30% off when bought through Createspace . Use coupon code FGY57695 at checkout to get the discount. This is the best deal for those of you in the US, but we haven&

Of Books and Beer

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Two weeks ago I took part in the inaugural Lit Crawl Seattle - an evening of over 60 author readings dotted about the Capitol Hill neighborhood. My reading was part of the Debut Lit presentation, seven debutant(e) authors from Seattle (and nearby) who are just emerging onto a larger stage. It was my honor and my privilege to share the mic with Suzanne Morrison, Jeff Bender, Rebekah Anderson, Lance Weller, Will O'Donnell and Nicole Hardy. In a room packed with people, and against a LOT of background noise from the bar, I think we all did ourselves proud. My own reading was a collage of two separate excerpts from Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand , stitched together to make some kind of coherent whole. If you want to read the full chapter - or you're intrigued to see what went down in Capitol Hill on the 18th - then you can read the unedited version for free on The Nervous Breakdown . And don't say I never give you anything. Luckily my reading took place early in the nig

Seattle Prepares for a Litquake

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If there's one thing I like more than a good book, it's a beer. Okay, sometimes the beer wins... but it's hard to finish five or six books in a single night. Either way, the Litquake event that's coming to Seattle's Northwestern shores next Thursday, October 18th, should satisfy both cravings (it's also part of this year's Heineken City Arts Fest... see, I told you there'd be beer). If you've been to one of the Lit Crawls in San Francisco or New York you'll already know just how satisfying they can be. If you're a book lover, it's a chance to see some of your favorite authors - and make some new discoveries - in person, all on the one night. If you're a beer lover... well, you can drink yourself silly while you're at it. The idea is simple, so rather than overcomplicate it with my own words, I'll leave it to the official Lit Crawl site: The first-ever Lit Crawl Seattle, to be held on October 18, is a co-production of

FREE Travel Writing Worshop at Northwest Bookfest!

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If there's one word I like to hear, it's 'Pudding'. But if there are two words, then the second would be 'Free' - which is why I'm excited for this coming weekend. I'll be taking part in Northwest Bookfest 2012 in Kirkland, WA, as part of their extensive writing workshops program. There are many workshops across both days of the book festival, covering everything from book cover design to creating believable characters - and the best part is that they're free. In fact the whole festival is free, leaving you no excuses for being anywhere else this weekend. Where else can you catch bestselling authors like David Guterson and Greg Bear, rising stars like debut novelist Lance Weller , and eat some hand-crafted mini donuts? My own workshop takes place on Saturday September 22nd at 11.30am, and will run for just over an hour. It will then also be followed by a signing session in the on-site bookstore (run by Parkplace Books ), where I'll be sig

Footnotes to a Rock Story

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Some stories creep slowly into your subconscious. Others arrive there fully formed. In the case of 'A Rock Story', however - published this week on The Fiction Shelf - it took a lot more sweat and toil to get there. The initial spark was nothing special, just a vague idea that I should use my experiences as a music journalist to provide the background for a piece of fiction. It's a world that few people get to see, and one that has a certain glamor attached to it - a glamor that often couldn't be further from the truth. I'd recently read Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists too, and the idea of a journalistic tale appealed. Quite where I was going with it was slightly less clear. It will be immediately apparent to anyone who has ever written a work of fiction that my first draft was a disaster. Aimless, plotless, characterless - the only thing it had going for it was that it at least vaguely resembled my experience of the rock world. It was also very, ve

More Ka Mate reviews

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Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand may have been out for almost a year now, but there's still no sign of the interest slowing down. In the life of the struggling, penniless writer this always counts as good news. Last week not only did I make an appearance (and meet some other local writers) at the annual PNWA Conference Autograph Party , but I also received two new reviews from bloggers. The truly great news is that both were positive reviews, too. Clearly someone is smiling upon me. First up is this review from the Vegemitevix blog. Okay, so she did get my name wrong first time around (for more on Davegate, see her blog post on the name mix-up here ), but it's nice to get a true Kiwi opinion on Ka Mate . If she wishes that I'd gone to some of the more far-out places, then trust me, so do I. Anyone who wants to pay for my return ticket to New Zealand can contact me below. Book Corner - Ka Mate, review by Vicki Jeffels The second review came courtesy of the 1Dad1Kid

Give me a P, Give me an NWA...

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It's official, summer is finally here (in the Pacific Northwest, at least). The sun is out, the crowds have flocked to Alki, everyone's complaining that it's too hot... and, of course, it's the season for writers conferences. The PNWA Annual Conference is one of the biggest of its kind in the Northwest, and around here it rules the writing roost. That's why I'm pleased to say that I'll be attending their Autograph Party this Friday, July 20th, signing copies of Ka Mate and generally mingling with the literati. It takes place at the Seattle Hilton in Seatac, and runs from 8.30pm-10.00pm. The party is only open to conference attendees (and authors), but if you'll be there then please do hunt me down. I'll be the one with the English accent, weaving my way unsteadily between the tables. And if you're extra organized, leave a comment here - or tweet me - in advance, so I know to look out for you. Now, back to that sunshine...

Goodreads, Here We Come...

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If you're a lover of great books (and if you're reading this blog, then I certainly hope you are), you'll probably already have discovered Goodreads . The website does for reading what Facebook did for embarassing personal information, or Twitter did for banal one-liners. You don't just get to recreate your bookshelf in virtual form - you also have the chance to discuss what you've read, share reviews, chat to authors and other readers, and even discover your next favorite author via their surprisingly accurate recommendation algorithm. If you thought the internet would mean the end of real literature, then Goodreads is your bearded, haloed savior. All of which means it was about time that I embraced the new, and created a pixelated Dan Coxon for the internet reader. So you'll be pleased to hear that I now have an author profile on Goodreads, complete with bibliography, events listing, far too much personal information, and an inanely grinny photo. If you st

Return to Write-O-Rama

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Some of you may remember that last November I taught a writing workshop at Write-O-Rama, the full day of workshopping that Hugo House offers several times a year in Seattle. I'm pleased to say that Write-O-Rama is back again on Saturday June 2nd - and yes, I'll be there again, waving pens at whiteboards and handing out random pieces of paper. This time my workshop is on interviews - how to conduct them, what to ask, and how to write them up as feature articles afterwards. If you're in one of the two sessions held on Saturday you'll learn the different kinds of interviews, how to adapt your techniques to these different formats, how to sneak in those awkward questions - plus how to PIMP your interview. Gotta love that acronym. Here's the official blurb on the workshop: Writing and Conducting Interviews   with Dan Coxon, 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Want to interview and write about your favorite author/band/artist, but don’t know where to start? This workshop w

Ka Mate in the UK

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Good news for readers in the UK, and for any Brits who follow this blog. Until now Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand has only been available in the UK as a Kindle ebook, or imported from the US at inflated prices. That's no longer the case, however, and from today Ka Mate is also available from Amazon.co.uk in paperback. That's right - you can finally get your hands on an authentic British version of my travel writing debut. Even if you have an imported copy, I'd suggest that you buy a British one too, just for completion's sake... The paperback is priced at under ten quid, so it won't break the bank. In fact, it's only 48p more than Tom Daley's autobiography. And it wasn't ghostwritten. Go figure. You can buy Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand from Amazon.co.uk here . (NB: The books in the photo aren't a special UK edition of Ka Mate . They are in fact some particularly snazzy Union Jack boxes from MiaBellaCasa.co.uk. If you like them you c

A Brief History of Bookmarks

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Next time you slide a slip of paper between the pages of your book, spare a thought for the humble bookmark. Bookmarks have been around since the 13th century, when they were used to mark points in the long medieval scrolls of the period. Most were of the clip-on variety that seems to have come back into fashion recently (isn't it funny how these things come around?), and several examples have survived to the present day. By the 18th century books (mainly Bibles and prayer books) were starting to appear with fabric strips sown into the spine, as a way of saving the page without damaging the fragile paper. You still get these in some 'classic' editions - although you probably didn't realize that they're a throwback to the 1700s. It was in the 1850s that the modern bookmark truly came into existence, however, with the increased production of modern-style books. These detachable bookmarks were similar to the modern concept - a slip of paper or other material th

The Jumblies (Like The Avengers, But in a Sieve)

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Those of you who know me away from the blogosphere will realise that I've been quiet lately for a very good reason. On February 15th my son Jacob was born, and since then I've been on the helter-skelter newborn ride that some of you will know only too well. Some days I've barely found the time to drink a cup of tea, never mind write a blog post. As things slowly return to something that might almost resemble normality, so I've started to have more time at the keyboard. And that means more writing, and more posts on here. First up is my latest essay for The Nervous Breakdown - and, you guessed it, there's a baby theme. A couple of weeks ago I read Edward Lear's nonsense poem 'The Jumblies' to Jacob, and it brought with it a flood of memories, as well as a few revelations. The narrative poem about a tribe of green-headed, blue-handed travelers who set out to sea in a sieve may sound like gibberish, but there are some surprising life lessons in there.

Every End Has a Start...

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Once upon a time there was a writer. He wasn't a best selling writer, or a famous writer, or even a hugely talented but vastly underrated writer. But he did know a few things about structuring a story, and one day the very nice reviewer at Komz Reviews - otherwise known as The Review Girl - asked him to write a guest blog for her website. The result? A blog post about how to begin and end a story, appropriately called 'How to Write Gripping Openings and Endings '. It's quite a gripping read itself, if you like writing. And reading. And discussing story mechanics with examples from classic literature. You can read it by clicking the link above. And this writer then lived happily ever after. With an endless supply of beer. And an Xbox. The end.

I'm A Loser, Baby

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Sometimes winning seems like the only goal worth pursuing. Everyone has their own definition of the big win - getting a new contract, receiving an award, winning the lottery - but we're all heading for the same finish line. We're all in it for the win. I therefore take perverse pleasure in announcing my failure to win the New Works Competition at Seattle's Richard Hugo House. Okay, so I'd have preferred to be a winner (wouldn't we all?), but there's some consolation in knowing that you did a good job despite your loser status. My short story 'Bud' made it to the final four of the contest this year, and of that I am unduly proud. I like to think that if the judges had drunk just a few more mojitos before reading it then I might have come out on top. Which also leads me neatly on to the winner, Jeff Bender 's 'The Guard'. Jeff gave a fantastic class on story structure at Write-O-Rama last year, so I've no doubt that the story is a winn

Affection for Line Zero

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At the start of January, as we all sat under an icy winter blanket, Seattle-based literary/arts journal Line Zero ran a Flash Fiction contest. The prompt was 'Affection', and writers were given 24 hours to come up with a story that clocked in at under 300 words. Always one to rise to a challenge I sharpened my pencils, started some coffee on the stove, and set about cranking up the creative engine. If you're not familiar with Flash Fiction as a format, then don't be put off by the title - it doesn't involve a soundtrack by Queen, or wearing Spandex pants. The idea is simply to tell your story as concisely as possible, distilling the short story down to a few hundred words. Think of it as an extra-long haiku. If you want to check out a master of the form at work, then get your hands on a copy of Dan Rhodes' Anthropology , 101 stories each told in 101 words (for the UK edition, click here ). I'm pleased to announce that my short short short story 'DSA

KA MATE: the Baby Sale!

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My son, Jacob Coxon, is currently 10 days old. He already has a room full of toys, memorabilia, and more gadgets than 007: a jungle bouncer, a lavender scented hippo, a miniature sock monkey, teething rings, books, cloth books, Pooh, Eeyore, a sheep that makes womb noises... and a tiki. This particular tiki traveled with us all the way from New Zealand. It was born in Rotorua, to be exact, and was carved at the traditional Maori carving school there. It now hangs on the side of Jacob's bookcase, a reminder of our travels, and the place of our own little man in the bigger scheme of things. When he screams the resemblance is uncanny. All this preamble is bringing me slowly to my point. From now until March 4th we're running a number of discounts and promotions on my book Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand , to celebrate Jacob's arrival in the world. Think of it as a baby sale. If you haven't already read the book, it follows my adventures across New Zealand's North a

Celebrate Waitangi Day with KA MATE!

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If you're not in New Zealand right now, you'd be forgiven for letting Waitangi Day pass you by. It's not a fixture on the international calendar, and even some Kiwis allow it to slip past unnoticed. If you're into historic celebrations, however, then Waitangi Day is one to pay attention to - the Kiwi version of Independence Day. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6th in 1840, at James Busby's house in the Bay of Islands, and it marked the founding of New Zealand as a modern nation. The Treaty is still controversial to this day. If you want to know more about it (and where it was signed) then I suggest you check out my book Ka Mate: Travels in New Zealand . As a taster, and to celebrate Waitangi Day, here's a short passage from the book on the history of the treaty: There are many books devoted to the wording of the Treaty and its various points of mistranslation or open interpretation, so I will keep this summary brief. Essentially the first a

An Inequality of Superheroes

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It's been a surprising side effect of the Occupy Movement that everyone has suddenly started paying attention to social equality, or perceived inequalities. If Hoover were still around (and no, Leonardo's make-up artists are fooling no one) he'd have locked us all up for exhibiting Communist tendencies. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that the 99%-versus-1% argument doesn't work everywhere, however. Specifically, I began to wonder about our superheroes. Batman and Iron Man may be the modern equivalent of the heroes of Greek legend, but they have conspicuously deeper pockets. Bearing in mind that these guys are the biggest box office successes of the past ten years, could it possibly be true that we're still idolizing the rich, even after all the lessons we (should have) learned from Wall Street? Well, one thing led to another... and no, I didn't start the Occupy Gotham movement. But I did write a brief memoir of my time spent playing Golden Heroes , a r