Tips on how to be a good social media friend.

How to be a good Facebook, social media, friend, or blog follower is quite simple. It’s called ‘netiquette’ an online version of etiquette. Basically, it’s just being a good social networking friend to both the person blogging, or posting on Facebook, and to your other friends too.

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So how to be that good friend?

Just like all those funny, or cat video clips we watch and repost, it’s really helpful to your writing friend, or photographer, or artist, to repost their work too. Artists and writers need people to read their work or consider the artwork whether this is by pencil, paint or camera.

Another way is to comment on the piece, or ask a question, or tag a friend telling them, “hey Pat you will enjoy this” or “how about we go here on our next weekend break Peter”. Your other friends will value the fact you were thinking of them, and are introducing them to artists or writers or bloggers will no doubt trust your taste, after all you’re friends so will have much in common.

If you have read one of my books, could you also add a wee comment about it on Amazon. Links to my blogs, Facebook pages (four of them!) and other social media pages are on my webpage for easy access.  www.kiwitravelwriter.com

So see, it is really easy to be a good friend to your writing friend, your favourite photographer, or local artist – and that tiny commitment will make a huge difference to them. Sitting at home, creating without any feedback, can be difficult, and for travel writers like me, it’s often the interaction I have with my followers that shows tourist destinations or activities that yes, this is a person we should invite to our city, country, or event. The more they can see that people follow me and enjoy my writing the more likely I am to get invitations or commissions to write.

One word of warning though, if you are anything like me, you need to do this instantly you see the blog or Facebook post or it will be gone forever, lost in all the other daily activity and busy minds! This doesn’t have to be a big chore, once a day would be wonderful.

And, if you repost blog links (or posts) to my pages on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media like StumbleUpon or Instagram, add a hashtag # (eg #kiwitravelwriter or #travel or #goodblog) I’d be really grateful: so, ‘thank you’ in advance.

 

 

Dame Ngaio Marsh – New Zealand’s Queen of Crime

One of the worlds queens of crime, Dame Ngaio Marsh  was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and a while ago I wondered if her house had survived the quake: I’d assumed ‘yes’ given it’s wooden and is in a relatively unscathed part of my old city.

The “Ngaio Marsh house” suffered only minor damage during the  2010 /2011 quakes that rocked the city.  Sited on the lower Cashmere Hills meant the damage to the area was less than other places the city and Canterbury – a chimney had been demolished and the sewerage pipe was broken but repairs have been made to both.

Their website said “The house was well shaken, creating a considerable mess with small items and books widely distributed over the floor. However, nothing of special significance was lost apart from a few pieces from Ngaio’s glass collection.”

So, the house remains basically as it was and is still open to visitors – as are most things in Christchurch.  See what Wiki says about our beloved Christchurch treasure –  Dame Ngaio Marsh

I took these photos during my last visit to the house in May 2010 – my first visit was for a fairly wild party in the early ’80s – not long after her death!

Just some of her books .. how many have you read?

Once upon a time a fire-breathing dragon . . .

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Once upon a time, a fire-breathing dragon, with taste for young female flesh, lived in a cave in Krakow according to Wincenty Kadłubek (1161-1223), Bishop of Cracow and historian of Poland.

When nearly all the city’s young girls had been eaten, the King promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to anyone who could kill the beast. The legend reports the Wawel Dragon was finally slain by a cobbler’s apprentice who fed the creature a roasted lamb which he had stuffed with sulphur and hot spices.

After the dragon had devoured the tasty sacrifice a powerful thirst hit him so he went to the river to drink. He drank and drank and drank but became even more parched and continued to drink until, so full of water, he burst.

As with all good stories, on his wedding day, to Princess Wanda, the poor apprentice lad was fittingly renamed, Prince Krak, Dragon Slayer.

Today, the dragon’s den, in the 12 million year old cave at the base of Wawel Hill, and a fire-spouting dragon statue, are both part of Krakow’s literary trail which celebrates its status as the world’s seventh UNESCO City of Literature.

Wawel Hill, home to the Royal Castle, is a favourite setting for many a national myth and legend and when I first saw it, on a grey monochrome morning I could well believe the stories of supernatural powers held by a mysterious chakra discovered there in the 1st century.

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Dunedin (New Zealand) knows, as now the eighth city of literature, that to become a UNESCO City of Literature, there are several requirements in terms of the quality and diversity of initiatives. They include the role of literature in its broadest sense in the everyday lives of the city’s inhabitants, a range of festivals and literary events, and an abundance of bookshops, libraries and other institutions involved with books and literary heritage.

Some of Krakow’s claims for being considered a literary capital were that the first Polish language books were published there in the 16th century, and that it was the first Polish city to hold scriptoriums, libraries and printing houses.

As book lover, in Poland at the end of the tourist season, I was disappointed not to be able to take one of the monthly, guided literary walks. It was even more disappointing that despite two emails to the literary and tourism websites I received no response to my request to hire a guide for an individual tour of the literary hotspots. It’s very easy to overpromise and under deliver. To add to the difficulty the tourism office in the city square did not have the brochure-map either – they sent me to another office where I was given their last English one.
With sixty-one points of interest detailed on the map, they cover historical sites; literary addresses, libraries and bookstores, literary cafes, literature in public places and, Nowa Huta, a 1949-built city for the workers. Until this year, this area was home to the annual Krakow Book Fair, Poland’s most important meeting of readers and some 500 Polish publishers. Portrayed as an ideal city in Stalin-era literature, it has been the setting for many poems and human interest stories. Alongside the book fair, the Conrad Festival takes place – a prestigious literary event, it’s considered one of the most noteworthy occasions in this part of Europe and has attracted crowds of readers for many years.

Outside the old city wall, the moat has been filled in, providing a ring of green – Planty Park. As well as monuments to writers and other artists, it is also home to dozens of benches honouring writers with connections to the city. One easily recognised was Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark, the 1982 Booker Prize-winning novel which was later adapted to film for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. QR barcodes on all seats, helpfully link the visitor to virtual collections of text and recordings of the specific author. Of course Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory is on the self-guided walk too.

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There are close to 80 bookstores and almost 30 antiquarian bookshops in the city, with one of the buildings in Market Square housing a book shop continually since 1610. I walked to the Massolit Bookstore hoping to talk with one of the three ex-pat owners about the literary meetings, events and political debates which are held there. They were not available so I did what time-rich travellers do and just sat, enjoying coffee, a chocolate brownie, the international newspapers and the old world ambience.

In the Main Market Square (where you can spend hours) every hour, on the hour, a bugle plays from the four points of the compass in the high tower of St. Mary’s Basilica, and this too has a literary connection. It was immortalised in the first book by Eric P Kelly, The Trumpeter of Krakow, which won the 1929 Newbery Medal as the year’s most distinguished contribution to American children’s literature. An American journalist, academic and author of children’s books, he was briefly a lecturer at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

Interestingly too, Krakow is part of the International Cities of Refuge Network and, in the Villa Decius, one of the Renaissance complex sites of literary and cultural salons, a refuge is provided for persecuted writers.

Finally, two Nobel Prize Winners in Literature had their homes in Krakow: poet Czesław Miłosz (1980) who returned after many years in exile, and poet essayist Wisława Szymborska (1996) until her death in 2012: I only wish I had been able to get a deeper insight into this walkable city’s past, present, and undoubtedly bright literary future.

This story first appeared in the Otago Daily Post, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Travel writing for free?

This is a chain of posts and comments from my Facebook page and thought it was worth sharing with a  wider audience. Thanks to all the writers / journalists/ bloggers who commented … I have removed names and links to their FB page to stop spam etc

Here also is a rant from Harlan Ellison (I love ranters who I agree with :):) )

Heather Hapeta has shared a video with you on YouTube
Harlan Ellison — Pay the Writer
A memorable (and timely) rant from the upcoming feature documentary on Harlan
Ellison, “DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH”. Go to www.dreamswithsharpteeth.com for
more excerpts!!
See the full trailer here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=dmfzKKM49uY

From  Heather Hapeta‘s Facebook page earlier this year.

“Recently I was asked to write a monthly travel column for a NZ online fashion mag. For no reward  – they seem to think it’s worth $1500 a month in promotion for me!

As I tell my travel-writing students ‘you will find it hard if not impossible to get published’ … and, ‘don’t give your work away’! I’m wondering what others think of this “it’s worth blah blah blah

replies ……

LW  Promotion? So another mag can see that you write well and offer you are job for no money? I never work for free; that is called a hobby. Just my thoughts.

SET Agree – what is it that you would be promoting via the column?

Heather Hapeta yes that’s my gut feeling LW .. would be writing on travel topics .. so only promoting wherever I write about I guess .. plus the links to my pages. Its not like I’m a tourism company and promoting that.

NA Knowing how many visitors the site receives and from where would be interesting. How are they calculating that magical $1500?

HB Once you do stuff for free, you establish your market value. You’ll always be doing stuff for free after that.

DM I was once offered cash to write about a company’s new car but knew it would kybosh any future career. ‘What if it’s no good?’ I asked. ‘Oh you can’t criticise it and we’d have to have editorial sign-off.’ they said. I said they must be joking and never heard from that particular PR bloke again, though I’ve driven and written about several good, bad and indifferent cars from the company since. A hundred quid was a lot money in those days, too.

MH Myllylahti There is not such a thing as free labour. That is just pure exploitation.

Heather Hapeta They sent me all their site stats .. although they have more Facebook ‘followers’ I have 3 or 4X the #s on twitter/WordPress etc . but I’m 99% sure no is my answer. .. thanks everyone

DH  Good decision

DM  Tell them you’ll accept that $1500 each month on a cheque?

LH  Heey Hugh….YOU’RE SO RIGHT! Embarrassingly….I’ve only just come to work that out now?? Classy! HA HA HA HA! Working for Pro bono is definitely a habit I have to break!

Heather Hapeta LH why do you do pro bono work?

LH  Hmmm…Hi Heather…I have a neurological condition….and therefore a patchy work record ie Employers were anxious about employing me because they were worried that they would have to deal with my bad memory and organisational skills ( hmm they are…BAD…) so I did pro bono work to try and say to the journalism, communications, PR and Marketing industries that I am capable of writing articles….BUT Capital Community Newspapers have stopped taking work from me now anyway ( there new editor says they wont take freelance work now!) so doing pro bono work might be over anyway!

Heather Hapeta LH  do articles etc on your own blog for them to see your skills :):)

LH  Hi Heather! Yes….Thank you…..I wasn’t whinging about life as a journalist ( though reading my last post may give this impression!) I will do something like this….I’ve just been made redundant from NZUSA as their communications person ( they ran out of money for the role) so I will have to do something like this, I think to get into another comms role! This is the first week of unemployment after 7 months….and its all a bit….Daunting ( is that the word??)

Heather Hapeta very daunting!

PHW  Cash is king. Tell them to read Adam Smith. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith)

BK I did pro bono work in radio copywriting as a sort of foot in the door training thing. I got paid work out of it, from the radio station – they’d get me in when people were sick. So it can work. But that was quite a lot of years ago now.

AG It’s awful, isn’t it. I was recently asked by a website to write one 300 word lifestyle article per week. The writer of the ‘most shared’ article on the site per month would receive $25 while the writer who had the most shared articles overall per month got $50. Depressing.

BK  And that model of course encourages people to write lowest common denominator, clickbait, trollbaiting stuff.

Heather Hapeta You have all convinced me to go with what I knew was right. Will write a blog re the issue and send it to the company

JB  Tell them if it’s only worth $1,500 promotion then it’s not really worth your time?

DBK I wouldn’t do it for nothing just like they wouldn’t sell advertising for nothing. Tell them to get stuffed – you can SELL your work; how can they qualify their statement regarding value? Is the by-line likely to attract more work? I doubt it. But keep trying elsewhere and if you need advice email me off this page….I’ve had a lot published over the years and been paid well for it. Incidentally do you belong to Travcom?

BK And if Vinny Eastwood can self-promote his “journalism” and get such high numbers, so can you. You don’t need them to raise your profile.

Heather Hapeta David Burke-Kennedy yes I’m with Travcom … also sell my work in many international places …airline mags newspapers etc but it’s getting harder and harder!

DBK y yes it is…but don’t devalue your work by giving it away unless there’s a really good reason. Hope that’s not like telling an experienced writer how to suck eggs…

Heather Hapeta I was querying it as Travcom now allows articles that have not been paid for to enter the comps .. in trade for free trips. So think giving work away is more common than we think. Was testing the waters really … glad lots of staunch people out there!

JT  NEVER give your work away…unless it is for charity. My brother, photographer Rob Tucker, used to charge peanuts for his work, until his wife took over the books and quadrupled his charges. He never looked back.

AC Go with your gut, Heather. It’s not worth anything at all to you if no one pays.

AL Absolutely, Heather – they’re trying to make it seem like they’re doing you a favour by publishing your work. Of course, the truth is the other way round – where would their magazine be without content?

JB  Going back to what Brigid said about a foot in the door … what say ye KJAs to a request from a place you’d really like to work for? Still yeah but nah?

BK  I think the circumstances of the job market have changed quite a lot and you would need very clear boundaries about how little free stuff they would get for their non-buck. Because more and more outlets are looking for content they don’t have to pay for, in order to cut costs.

JB  Sorry my own experience: was unemployed, started doing a column for free for the editor of a paper that I admired, just to keep my profile up, the publisher then read the columns, remembered me from years of conferences, had an empty slot, said thanks and hired me. So, fa’afetai Samoa Observer! It’s not the NYTimes but I never wanted that anyway, small island papers is where I started and what I still love to bits – plus SaOb is feisty-as for a *small* paper (huge by island standards) ….. point being, if it’s for an outlet you love, take a punt, they may just have an empty slot. Or one may come up? 2 senes worth from Samoa.

AL I think the situation for Heather is a bit different (feel free to correct me, Heather!) in that she is an already established writer and the magazine wants to publish work in an area in which she is already known. If they were saying ‘let’s give it a whirl for a couple of months and then we’ll pay you’ that would be a bit different I suppose, but this looks more like ‘let’s give it a whirl and you can keep working for us for nothing’. Having said that, Jason, I started a 30-year-plus career in radio by working for nothing every weekend… and like you, when a paid position came up, I got it!

JB Ah, sorry Heather, was talking in general terms, rather than being Hapeta-specific, but should have said so .. thanks Allen, exactly what you said.

JW  I don’t think you should do it for free. Unfortunately it lowers the bar for everyone trying to make a living. I have a parallel experience as a musician. I got asked to play for free twice in the last fortnight with the benefit to me of ‘getting my name out there’. I explained politely that I have been performing professionally for 20 years now. If people want something for free then they could at least acknowledge that you would be doing them a service and not pretend they’re doing you a favor.

KM  Sounds like bollocks. Ask for $500 a month or get stuffed.

FL  I left a job recently and a former journalism student of mine was interviewed for the position. She was asked to write an article for the paper – I wonder if she was paid for it? She’ll find out this week if she’s got the job. I was asked to write an a…See More

PHW If you want exposure, file for Salient. And do it well. There. I said it.

MS I am finding more and more that the less you get paid for your skills, the more people seem to want from you and often the more troublesome the client. As hard as it is, I’ve said No to a couple of things lately. Interestingly, jobs paying properly came along to fill that space…

PHB It goes without saying I hope that as professionals we refuse to be commission stories without offering payment.

 

Oil, oil, oil, death and courage

Oil, oil, oil, death and courage.

Freedom of speech and Courage Day – read the above article – published in The Press, Christchurch New Zealand .. the link is to my blog!

Religion, atheists, books and travel

On my recent trip I spent the 14-hours in the air from Wellington, New Zealand to Kuching, Sarawak (East Malaysia, Borneo) reading Alain de Botton’s book HEATHROW DIARY and despite spending many times in airports, it made me aware of nuances I had not perhaps been so conscious of.IMG_3278758846670

Then, instead reading one of the many books on old Malaysia and Borneo on my Kobo, I returned to one already started on my e-reader, RELIGION FOR ATHEISTS. a non believers guide to the uses of religion, also by de Botton.

Interestingly this has also tied in with my travels here, and resonates with past travels.

A kiwi for many generations, both maternal and paternal lines escaping the Irish famines, the Scottish clearances, and the Cornish tin mine closings of the 1800s (in today’s terms both economic migrants and refugees) the kiwi way of life absolutely seems the norm. That is, I live in a secular country where in the recent census nearly 50% of us declared” No religion” on the form: a number that would be much higher if not for our migrants who of course bring their religions with them.

During these travels, like many other – such as in Europe, Israel, Southern USA and many other places – I am aware if how religion plays such a huge part in people’s lives outside New Zealand, an awareness made more acute by the many Chinese temples here in Sarawak and the fact that Ramadan has just started.

Have you read either books?

Have they, or any other books on the topics, influenced you with your travel observations?

For me they have both just made me more conscious of both travel and religion and like local food, remember what an integral part it is with travel – no wonder I’m a passionate nomad, aging disgracefully as I move around the world.

Off to Malaysia Lah.

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Hibiscus. National flower, Malaysia

Yes, today I’m off to Malaysia Lah – and, as I said in my book – Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad,– it’s my favourite Asian country!

So why “lah” and why “favourite”?

To lah or not to lah that is the question. Many Malaysians add this ‘non-word’ to sentences, peppering it around , flavouring their words just as you do with the spice.

For explanations of all the meanings attributed to the word see here.

Some include these

Coaxing: Come on, lah; don’t be like that-lah; please-lah
Forceful: Shut up-lah! Get out-lah!
Apologetic: Sorry-lah
Fed up: Enough-lah!
Definite: Of course-lah; sure-lah
Agreeable: Okay-lah

We Kiwi also add a sort of non-word to many sentences – ours is ‘eh’ pronounced ‘ay’, like the letter ‘a’ and it’s used to tag question or emphasise a statement – not nearly as versatile as the Malaysian Lah!

However, my parents, clear-speaking Christchurch folk, were horrified when their North Island born grandchildren moved south with the casual ‘eh’ added to their comments and queries alike – they considered it very ‘lower-class’. It was ‘regional’ but it has slowly moved to the South Island but it’s still not so common there – and many people throughout NZ still consider it a sign of a lack of education and or money.

And, now, why ‘favourite country’? Well, my first visit to Asia, and Malaysia was in the late-90s, landing in Singapore, on my way to Thailand where I was keen to see the gold temples and Buddha’s. Malaysia was really just a two-week route north. I thought it would be ‘just another colonised country’ and gosh was I wrong!

As a Kiwi (New Zealander)I got a 3-month visa as I crossed the border, bused to Malacca and promptly fell in love with the country, the food and the people: Think Assam Pedas a spicy-sour fish for breakfast, sweet-corn ice-cream, great sights, history,  friendly people of different ethnicities and religions, and of course  their “Open Homes”.

These open homes are a truly Malaysian way of celebrating all festivals or celebrations including religious and ancient events, when everyone is invited to someone’s home for a great meal.  Staying in Malacca for ten days meant I was there for the Hari Raya celebrations (end of Ramadan) and much to my surprise was welcomed into the home of the Deputy Health Minister.

I tell much more about my time in Malaysia in my book, but to finish this blog, I can tell you I finally had to make a rush to the Malay-Thai border on the last day of that 3-month visa, hating leaving, and knowing I would return.

I’ve been back a couple of times but this is my first visit to East Malaysia (Sarawak & Sabah on Borneo) and for the next 2 months I’m looking forward to seeing both the differences and what’s similar – follow my adventures here and on social media.

Heather Hapeta: the kiwi travel writer

See here for my social media links – so you can choose how to follow my travels, the food, the creatures, and the nature of this tropical island:)