The Writing Journey: Where Did It All Begin?
Picture: Magnificent East Coast sunrise by Ngaio Keelan in the “scenic and tranquil little haven” that is New Zealand (or ‘Godzone’, as it is often affectionately known)
So where did the writing journey begin?
Well it’s a rather long and involved story… so I’ll start at the beginning (at least a new life in beautiful and tranquil “little” New Zealand!)
Don’t worry about the world ending today…
it’s already tomorrow in “little scenic and tranquil” New Zealand
This account tells a bit of my story and how I got to this point in my “rather eventful little life”…
(from ‘I’LL DO IT MY WAY: ‘MY STORY’ (Kindle digital book)
and I’LL DO IT MY WAY [Paperback]
I’ll Do It My Way: Craig Lock: 9780473147563: Amazon.com: Books
I’ll Do It My Way: Craig Lock: 9780473147563: Amazon.com: Books
Buy from Amazon
Writing into the Light
THE WRITER IS BORN.
While he was still manager at NZI Life, Craig decided to fill in some of the long and boring days by doing some research and writing on stress, goal setting, motivation etc. He also wrote a short book on how he became politically aware, which his secretary typed for him. He certainly had a way with words and a real talent for writing. Shortly after this, he was made redundant and just before he left the life insurance company, we purchased a word processor. Doing this was a bit of a gamble, seeing that neither of us knew the faintest thing about word processing. However, his secretary assured us that it would come in extremely useful for his writing. History proved her correct and the word processor is one of the best investments we have ever made.
Craig went to South Africa shortly after and left me with the whole manuscript for his book on stress to copy onto a disc. Talk about being dropped in it! It was a painstaking experience to put it mildly and the air was frequently blue, when I discovered that I’d deleted a whole file somehow or other. That disaster seemed to happen too often for my emotional health in the early days! However, as in most things, practice, while not making perfect, certainly helped and by the time Craig returned, six weeks later, I was fairly proficient and had put the whole manuscript on disc.
There followed several months of trial and error in trying out business ideas and trying to find employment. Eventually through a process of elimination, Craig decided to write full time. He had never been so busy in his life and worked 8 sometimes 12 hours a day. Pretty soon he’d found a publisher for his first book, ‘How to Survive the Nineties’ and we were “over the moon”. The writing career was taking off! It was a very exciting, yet nerve wracking time, waiting for the post, trying to find another publisher, or literary agents. Everything seemed to be in slow motion in the publishing world and it was a very frustrating period.
We often went for long walks at beautiful Makorori Beach and would discuss new projects, new books and would throw ideas around and think up titles for Craig’s books. His second book, ‘The End of The Line’ came about as the result of an article Craig had seen in a library book and he was able to combine his love of Africa and wanting to do something positive for South Africa to create a very moving novel.
Then we were talking about some of the funny experiences, that we’d had living in a small town and I suggested that it would be a good idea to write a book about it, ‘a la’ Peter Mayle. So ‘Dropped out in Godzone’ was born. I was able to help write chapters and do the illustrations for the book. Finishing that book meant a search for a new subject and Craig, having read ‘Neither Here Nor There’ by Bill Bryson, felt inspired to write a mad account of his adventures as an intrepid traveller in the seventies and eighties. All these books were accepted for publication and it was a really exciting and busy time, as we both helped with the proof-reading of each book and printing out the original manuscript. I held the lofty position of ‘girl Friday’, part time writer, as well as sounding board for all the new ideas. I was extremely busy, posting manuscripts, writing and mailing letters, reading and writing, as well as working full time to support us all – being the chief cook, ‘bottle washer’ and gardener. There always seemed to be something urgent to do and Craig is a rather enthusiastic and impatient person, who likes everything done yesterday and who won’t rest until it’s finished. I often felt as if I didn’t have time to know who I was!
At the beginning of 1995 Craig had a further three books accepted for publication. ‘The New Rainbow’ set in South Africa and telling the story of the Election and the changing South Africa…it was a very moving story. Shortly afterwards he wrote what I think is his best novel to date, ‘Angolan Dawn’ about the war in Angola and the terrible legacy of the land mines, that have been planted there. In between he’s written a book on sports psychology, another on quotations that have inspired him, another called ‘The Mad Money Book’, and his latest, ‘The Return Of The Chicken Runners’. So you can see he is a prolific writer. In addition, he is writing his autobiography,
in which I’ve had a small hand and which should be an inspiration for many people.
Writing certainly suits Craig, as he’s never really been comfortable in the corporate world and is best self employed, creating something from scratch and doing what he does very well…growing with it and improving all the time. He assuredly deserves all the success in the world and for his books to achieve what he wrote them for, namely to help people.
– Marie Lock
SCAM – “A PACK FUL OF LIES”
I had tried a few publishers with my first work HANDBOOK FOR SURVIVING THE NINETIES without success. Then I came across
the advertisement for Minerva Press in the Guardian Weekly, an exclusive London weekly newspaper. Often on the same page was an excellent review of a Minerva book. They seemed to like books, which were rather different. I spent a while checking out Minerva Press locally here in “Sleepy Hollow”, Gisborne in New Zealand, near the bottom of the world; but only Minerva was mentioned in the lists of publishers in the local library. So like many other people (as I was to find out later), I assumed the two publishers to be one and the same firm.
I then wrote to Minerva Press submitting my manuscript, HANDBOOK TO SURVIVE THE NINETIES. Their “excellent” contract looked so good to our “naive little” minds regarding the world of book publishing. I was now on my way as a writer…or so I thought.
The past two years spent working day and night carving out a career as a writer for Craig came to an abrupt halt with a single telephone call on June 23rd 1995. The owner of a local bookshop, with whom we had been in contact was apparently arranging a book launch for another Gisborne author, who was also dealing with the same publisher. The only problem was that, due to a series of bungles and seemingly evasive tactics on the part of the publisher, this poor man’s books had never arrived. The bookshop owner rang to tell us the awful news that Minerva Press (who were publishing five of Craig’s books by then) had nothing to do with Minerva in the United Kingdom and had no distributing agent in Australasia. I felt my heart sinking, as this news was imparted and told Craig that I thought we’d just been dealt a body blow by losing our life savings.
I was on my way that morning to see my father, who was terminally ill with cancer, in Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, 6 hours drive away. I left feeling rather numb and Craig was shattered. However, he did a lot of thinking and investigating over the weekend. When I returned home, he had ascertained that Minerva Press were little more than vanity publishers and certainly not part on the Reed Group with a large international distribution network. An association, which we (along with at least two other authors, who had been similarly duped in tiny Gisborne) had thought existed.
Craig had spoken to the two other local authors and discovered amazing parallels in their stories. The one woman felt, like us, a dreadful sense of betrayal by unscrupulous people, who led us to believe that Craig’s future as a writer was absolutely safe with them. She consequently had a breakdown. Minerva Press knew all along about our circumstances and the sacrifices we had made in getting Craig’s books published. We were in frequent correspondence with their “publishing heads and editors”. We subsequently found that they had no distribution network at all and we doubted if they ever paid royalties. The more we discovered about this “bifg scam”, because that is what it was, the sicker we felt. We had completely funded three books and half of two others, by living as “paupers”. The first book was not yet published after over 18 months of lies and evasive answers to our long list of queries, which were seldom, if ever answered. The second book was due to be published at the same time as the first; but was nowhere in sight. God alone knows what has become of the third! This unprincipled group were certainly quick to take your money; while you did all the proof-reading; but when it came to delivering the goods, there were mysterious printer’s errors, etc.
The first book ultimately got stalled by Minerva Pres for about three years and in that time “gullible I” had submitted four more to them. What a “total Wally”!
We felt really betrayed by these people, as we had on many occasions informed them that Craig was writing as a career and that we were putting all out money into this venture and doing it on “an absolute shoestring”, investing every cent we had and struggling on a nurse’s salary. And still they had no scruples about taking our hard-earned money! We were rather gullible in putting all our eggs in one basket; but Craig really believed in the quality of his writing and had asked them directly about the possibility of having some of his books published under the Mandarin imprint, which is part of the Reed Group, and Minerva Press never deigned to reply. Also Craig had written to the Society Of Authors, outlining what he was doing and who his publisher was and only on the second attempt did they reply with a blurb about getting an agent. Craig had also corresponded with many other publishers and agents about his work, mentioning his publisher, and not one ever told him to be wary of Minerva Press. We carried on getting books published by Minerva Press; because their royalty structure seemed so good* and they sent wonderful editorial evaluations of Craig’s books, which just confirmed that we were on the right track. We have since learnt that this is common practice and that the evaluations are pretty meaningless, but designed to lure in unsuspecting authors.
* We only had to sell a thousand of my books world wide to get our money, the initial “investment” back… and I had FIVE books
and Minerva had distributers in 116 countries!
The lady and the gent here in Gisborne had similar reviews of their books with exactly the same phrases, extolling their abilities as writers.
A call to Reed Publishers in Auckland elicted the response that they were aware of the problem and that there was litigation in the U.K. pending against Minerva Press. Craig was also advised, seeing that we had not received any books yet, to cancel all his contracts straight away, which he did.
We feel absolutely shattered, deceived and betrayed by a group of unprincipled, unscrupulous, scoundrels, who would probably sell their own mother for a few cents and still sleep soundly. We also feel very angry at the duplicity and evasive action taken by these people. We never wanted to make a fortune. Craig just wanted to make a living to support his family and would have been very happy to earn even $20000 New Zealand dollars a year.
Like Humpty Dumpty, we are busy picking up the pieces of our shattered lives at the moment and trying to get Craig’s books published by a reputable publisher, as well as find an agent to handle his large body of work. It’s like starting from scratch two or three years and many thousands of dollars later; but we’ll get there in the end, albeit with our trust in human nature rather dented.
I am very bitter; yet Craig lives on in hope.
Then some years later go to http://nzwriter.wordpress.com/
Magnificent East Coast sunrise by Ngaio Keelan in the “scenic and tranquil little haven” that is New Zealand (or ‘Godzone’, as it is often affectionately known)