The news. Exciting for me. And you too, I hope

A couple of weeks back I promised I’d reveal some exciting news.

I had to share this pic, taken by She Who Must Be Obeyed. We end up in some interesting places, sometimes. Just in case anybody googles "Stockton Mine".

Why was I wearing hard-hat and luminescent jacket somewhere in Mordor? Research, that’s why. More? You’ll find out soon… Click to enlarge.

Last year, print book sales dropped by 15 percent in New Zealand, nailing a down-trend that’s been happening for a while. I watched that start several years ago and decided to do something about it. Downturn apart, writing’s a business, and reinvention is key to longevity. So is adaptation, including embracing new technology. In this I was spurred by Random House who suggested I should join Twitter, get an author platform going and so forth. I did.

I got cracking in other ways – retrieving many of my publishing licenses to avoid losing control of them amidst the flight of big-name houses from New Zealand. I talked to publishers and discussed  future titles. I was offered new contracts despite the downturn. This last couple of weeks I’ve been fielding publishing schedules, including from Random. More soon. But the news is rather good – and yes, you’ll be the first to hear about the releases, on this blog.

Of course, the REALLY exciting news is due within a few weeks…and, I hope, more after that (when I catch my breath).

Meanwhile, here’s my updated author page at Random:

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: More exciting news. And stuff.

A totally cool and exciting taunt

I post a lot on this blog about writing – but not often about the writing I’m actually doing myself. That’s partly because it’s often commercially sensitive. But also partly because you’d soon get sick of my blurting on all the time hard-selling my books. And I’d certainly get sick of writing about it.

Wright_SydneyNov2011Most of my books get a profile for a few weeks – and then I’m on to other content. But there’s a time and place for everything, and I’ve got a couple of exciting things happening this year which I’m going to share.

First one’s coming up in a couple of weeks. Watch this space.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: writing tips – tomorrow – plus history, science and general mayhem. And some news.Watch this space.

Welcome to 2014 in M J Wright blog-o-land

It’s 2014 – and I’m rolling into the new year and new blog posts. I’ve got a full programme lined up for you kind folks this next few months.

MJWright2011There’s ‘Essential Writing Skills’ – a regular weekly series outlining what writers need. It’s backed by my 30 years in the business as a published author, publisher and journalist. You’ll discover what writers need to write well, effectively – and get results. Everything from editing to proofing to writing to content to viewing the projects as a business to approaching publishers and agents – and more.

There’s ‘Write It Now’ – musings on writing, books and the industry, including where it’s going, why it’s going there, and what we can do about it.

I’ve got more weekly science and sci-fi geekery, spiced with history and other cool stuff. And more fun stuff – humour, commentaries, thoughts and more. Why? Because life needs to be fun.

For the next few months, the schedule is:

Mondays NZT (Sunday EST) – Write It Now
Tuesday or Wednesday NZT (Monday or Tuesday EST) – Fun science or fun history. Or something similar.
Saturday NZT (Friday EST) – Essential Writing Skills

Watch out for surprise stuff on other days.

Needless to say I wouldn’t be doing this blog without you – it’s thanks to you kind folks that I keep posting. And that means the blog’s really about you – about interaction, it’s about having a conversation. About cool stuff. About fun stuff. About serious stuff.

And if there’s something you’d like me to blog about – ask!

Let’s get talking.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: See above… ☺

Secret revealed: the most searched-for thing ever!

A few days ago WordPress sent me a barrage of statistics about my blog in 2013.

A sample of nothing.

This is the most searched for thing on my blog.

Intriguing stuff. I discovered, for instance, that if each visitor was equal to a hydrogen atom, then I would not have had enough visitors to fill the Atlantic ocean with water. And that on 18 June I received 22.3 visitors in 18 seconds, 22.1 of them me.

More seriously, WordPress gave me the most popular discovery searches. These were:

1. blank square
2. jk rowling writing tips
3. adler gabriele 25
4. 12 blank squares
5. logline generator.

I’d like to explain, but somehow I can’t. ‘Blank square’? A block of nothing. Perhaps I bought some from Malcolm McLaren (he told me once, in a lecture, that his ambition was to sell…nothing.)

As for the others – well, I’m sure J K Rowling has some great writing tips to offer, but what you’ll find here is actually mine. I own an ‘Adler Gabrielle 25‘, and it’d work if I could find a Type 1 ribbon for it (go on, Google search…bet it will lead you back here…). I also wrote a logline generator.

But there was one search they didn’t mention – one that found my blog and which piqued me deeply. Of that, more tomorrow.

Meanwhile – what’s the weirdest search string that found your blog?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: Regular writing posts resume this weekend, science geekery, humour and more.

Wrapping up 2013 and a shout-out to some wonderful bloggers

There are no two ways about it – 2013 has been a year to remember. Not least because my city, Wellington, was slammed by two major quakes – and thousands of aftershocks – mid-year.


High points? For me, some surprises. General book sales have dropped twenty percent and publishers have been fleeing the country. But I had a book at No. 3 on the Whitcoulls best seller list for August – where it stayed for three months. Woohoo! My Bateman Illustrated History of New Zealand also entered the charts (not quite so impressively) – and fielded awesome reviews. Yes!

As for 2014, I know what’s coming up for me, at least – and you will too, soon. Watch this space.

Wright_Whitcoulls1I’d like to thank all my regular readers and blogging friends for taking the time to visit my little corner of the blog-o-sphere, for their thoughts, and for posting such fabulous, inspiring material on their own blogs, including:

Dennis Langley- Minnesota

Lemuel Lyes –  Fellow Kiwi and history geek. His blog is a truly amazing place – run, do not walk, to:

Herman Kok – South Africa

Karen Huber – Florida

S. Thomas Summers – New Jersey:

I’d also like to thank – among many others – Stuart Young, August McLaughlin, Janice Spina, Cymbria Wood, Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes, Roly Hermans, Bev Robitai, Pete Denton, Leslie Berry, M. Hatzel, Christina Hawthorne, Tom Burkhalter, Susie Lindau, Elizabeth Fais, Elisa Nuckle, Karen Rought, Caitlin Kelly, L. Palmer, and Susan Keirnan-Lewis.

Thank you, all, for your kind support through the year – it’s great to be able to make friends with such a diverse, talented and wonderful group of people over such a wide part of the globe.

Take care. And here’s to a fantastic 2014.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: Bursting into 2014, my review of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and more. Regular writing posts, science geekery and all the usual features begin second week January.

Write it now: celebrity book signing sessions

Over the years I’ve done a fair few book signings. You sit in a bookshop or public venue with a pile of books, while people you don’t know – who often put you on a pedestal – queue up to meet…you. And get you to sign a book for them.

Wright_Illustrated History of New Zealand 2Most people I’ve met at these events are friendly, chatty, and welcoming.  Engaging, and I’ve spoken to some interesting and kind people along the way, all of whom have had wonderful stories of their own. I recall one delightful experience, particularly, in which I got chatting with one couple who were very enthusiastic about art deco (as, indeed, am I).

Some authors are cautious about the number of books they sign. I’m not. It’s a personal touch – and that’s great. Sometimes I’ll drop into the local bookstore and sign their stock – which adds sales potential. Signing the book also, I suspect, makes it less likely the store will return it to the publisher under ‘sale or return’ arrangements.

Still, for me these are always nerve-racking moments. Partly because I don’t regard anything I do as special, or that I should be important because of it.

But it’s nerve-racking mainly because I sometimes get asked to inscribe my books, and  I can’t hand-write. Not legibly, anyway.

It’s like this. As a kid, I was left handed, which was why I wrote backwards and upside down in a sea of spattered ink. Alas, despite heroic efforts with every tool at their disposal – humiliation, class ridicule and many ingenious punishments – the teachers were unable to get me to write with the Proper Hand. Thus proving, apparently, what a stupid and worthless child I was. Of course, it could have been that the New Zealand school system was run as a barbaric exercise in conformity, enforced by weak and sadistic bullies who got their personal jollies out of punishing children entrusted to their care. But I digress.

The upshot was that I left primary school with worse hand-writing than I’d gone into it with, and I’ve never bothered trying to fix it. I can read the stuff. But it gets awkward when I fill out forms – assuming I don’t misread the form in the first place. And so when somebody buys one of my books and asks me to inscribe it, I’ll happily sign my name, but I don’t want to mess up their purchase with hand writing.

I remember one time a reader persisted – would I please, please, inscribe a particular phrase. I didn’t want to let them down, I did my best…but there’s no backspace with pen and ink. Sigh.

I did think of getting  a rubber stamp made, but it wouldn’t be the same.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: More writing tips, humour, science posts and – well, you’ll see. Watch this space.

NaNoWriMo tips and other stuff – more on what’s coming up

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got a lot of content coming up for National Novel Writing Month. Here’s some more details. I’ll be rolling from this Friday with…

1195430130203966891liftarn_Writing_My_Master_s_Words_svg_med* Sixty Second Writing Tips – quick-fire tips for NaNo and for every writer (Friday/Saturday)

* Write It Now – my long-running series explaining every aspect of writing (Saturday/Sunday)

* Occasional NaNo writing prompts

* Mid-week posts on fun science and other things. Like why giant mechs are a silly idea and how to measure the speed of light using custard (you can – I am not joking).

* News – I hope to have some exciting stuff to bring you in the next few weeks.


* Some posts, from November, marking thirty years in the writing and publishing business.

Normally I post three or four times a week, but there’ll be more through October and November. Feel free to check out the blog generally – I’ve been publishing a lot of writing-related stuff, with more to come.

And I love hearing from you – so join any debate, tell me what you think. Have your say.

Party’s on, folks…

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Tomorrow: Science geekery – the physics of uber mechs. And on Friday – the NaNo tips begin.

The funny side of having a popular name…

A while back another Matthew Wright – in Australia – pointed out to me that our shared name wasn’t common. It was ‘popular’. Good call.

I suppose I had to put on a kind of expression, or not, for this one...

Not even dressed up as a Grunka Lunka (Google it…)

But it hasn’t stopped relentless confusion. Like the time my publisher kept sending emails meant for me to Matthew Wright, a commissioning editor in their New York office.

Or the day when someone from the UK who’d read my books came to New Zealand and wanted to see me. He researched my appearance via Google and discovered Matthew Wright, star of many ‘adult’ movies.

Google really don’t know who I am at all – they also credit the books of mine that they’ve scanned without permission to Matthew Wright, a lecturer at the University of Essex. Adds insult to the injury, and they haven’t corrected their mistake despite my efforts.

Then there was the time someone contacted me wanting to buy ‘my’ book on the Midland Railway line, central South Island, by Matthew Wright. I write railway books. But this wasn’t one of them. (The third Matthew Wright who writes in New Zealand publishes poetry online…)

All good fun until somebody loses an eye. What worries me is that a Matthew Wright will do something heinous – and I’ll end up innocently smeared, even after clarification.

Which brings me to what Matthew Wright was reported doing last week. Allegedly,  my 20-year old UK namesake went on a rampage in a kebab shop, knocking someone over.  I suppose it was to be expected. As a friend of mine pointed out, he was in a clubbing district. (Groan.)

Thing was, this youthful Matthew apparently did it dressed as an Oompa-Loompa.

He has since denied the allegation, according to the latest report.

Have you ever been mistaken for somebody else?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

A big thank you for two blogging awards

Last week I received two blogging awards in quick succession.

very-inspirational-blogger1That follows being ‘freshly pressed’ by WordPress a few weeks back.

Humbling, all of it. I guess I must be doing something right! Alas, I haven’t the time to respond as the awards recommend just now (soon!), but I do want to say a very special thank you to Quirkybooks (‘One Lovely Blog’) and Eagle Tech (‘Very Inspiring Blogger’) for the honour!

Make sure you check out their sites. Check ‘em out now!

Coming up on this blog – more writing tips, more ‘how tos’, more science geekery…and other stuff (nice and mysterious, that).

I’m also open to requests.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Welcome – thank you – and what’s coming up

I discovered on Wednesday morning that my Monday post had been ‘freshly pressed’. Cool.

‘Hey,’ I said to my wife. ‘Now everybody in the entire world will realise I’m a beer-swilling geek who does physics problems for fun.’

‘You are,’ she said  ‘And so are all your friends.’

‘Only on Thursdays.’

This is me doing my 'writing getaway' impression on Rarotonga.

This is me doing my ‘writing getaway’ impression on Rarotonga.

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to look at Monday’s post – and a warm welcome to all new readers. And a very big thank you to all my regular readers. Thank you! I wouldn’t be doing any of this without all of you.

Coming up – more ‘kindness’ posts, 60-second writing tips, ‘write it now’, the A-Z of a writing life, and ‘inspirations’ – mainly photographs I’ve taken. More humour, stuff about Tolkien, music and more science geekery. I think science is pretty cool. And fun.

Who am I? I’m a New Zealander and live in the land of Tolkien movies. I was trained in fiction writing. studied the sciences. classical music (Royal Schools), switched to history, which I took past post-grad level, though I kept my science hand in with an undergrad degree in anthropology.  I’ve been writing and publishing – among other things – for over 30 years, writing books mostly for Penguin or Random House. A few years ago the Royal Historical Society at University College, London, elected me a Fellow.

It’s been an interesting ride. And it ain’t over yet.

Of course this blog isn’t about me. It’s about you – my readers. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about yourselves. What’s happening your way? And if there’s something you’d like me to post on – something scientific, historical or just plain interesting… let me know.

It’s all good. And interesting. Life’s like that.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013