QR Codes Tell The Story

QR Codes Tell The StoryImagine strolling around a new city with a map (printed or available as a PDF) that allowed you to access stories related to the area you are exploring?

But not just a story. Each QR code will take you to a webpage where you can read the story and choose your own way to continue the story out of a few different options.

This is the idea behind a new Pozible campaign called Choose Your Adventure and one I think would be interesting to tourism boards as an intriguing way for visitors to discover new and ‘locals-only’ areas.

If you’re wondering what IS a QR code, then let me explain. The main image for the story demonstrates scanning a QR code with a smart phone. QR stands for Quick Response. Wikipedia can explain it further, but in relation to this project it requires a user to download a QR code scanner application. The QR code can “direct users to text, web content or other online information” as the Choose Your Adventure project by Em Craven describes. You can choose your adventure and move through the story via the QR codes – in the actual location.

But this isn’t the first project of this kind that Em Craven has done. Emily is an author and speaker and works as Digital Producer for if: Book Australia (the Institute for the Future of the Book). She also blogs about ebook and digital strategies so is well versed on experimentation and execution. Em has previously successfully crowdfunded – a wonderful photography gallery/charity trip project for Cambodian Children’s Trust.

Adelaide- ChooseYourOwnAdventure

Adelaide: Choose Your Adventure

In 2012, Em Craven organised a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ around Adelaide. Part of the Adelaide Festival, it was run during Writers’ Week and the QR codes were printed on posters around town. Naturally enough though, the vandals couldn’t leave them up there – spoilsports! Each adventure started from a central point and then the reader has the choice about what options to explore.

This was, Em Craven has said, the world’s first choose your own adventure event! You can read more about that project here. Continue reading

CLICK on KIDS: Transmedia, Augmented Reality and Education

APA CLICKonKIDSIn my previous post about The Australian Publishers Association  Industry Seminar CLICK on KIDS: Children’s Digital Publishing Seminar I focussed on the presentation by Kristen McLean of Bookigee. It’s not surprising I loved Kristen’s presentation – she’s super smart, knows her stuff and shares information very well. Plus I’m a data nerd.


What I know very little about is how digital publishing is being utilised in schools. I know that education has embraced learning in a digital environment – but how? This post showcases some examples presented at CLICK on KIDS and they were pretty inspiring.


Weaving a StoryWorld Web

Cathie Howe, Professional Learning and Leadership Coordinator Manager, MacICT (Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre) talked about Transmedia storytelling in an Educational Context. She showed us Year 3 StoryWorlds, for Storm Boy by Colin Thiele.

CLICK on KIDS: APA Children’s Digital Publishing Seminar

APA CLICKonKIDSThe Australian Publishers Association put on another great Industry Seminar with CLICK on KIDS: Children’s Digital Publishing Seminar.

You can see the entire outline here but on this post I am featuring the presentation by Kristen McLean.

I was particularly interested in the use of digital for educational purposes and will showcase some great examples of transmedia and augmented reality on my next post.


You may enjoy reading tweets from the day  that I Storified.

Insights from the US: sizing up the kids’ book market

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A Personal Publishing Story by Johanna Baker-Dowdell

I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by Johanna Baker-Dowdell of Strawberry Communications. Johanna and I connected online while she was in the process of funding her book for self-publishing. I followed her campaign with interest and stayed in touch. This is Johanna’s personal publishing story.


Johanna-Baker-DowdellWorking as a freelance journalist and blogger I never thought I would write a book, because I’m great at articles and posts 400 words or less. But here we are and I am talking to you about writing a book!

When I left full-time work to become a mum more than seven years ago I thought it would be nice to freelance while my son slept. Luckily for me I had some friends in the industry and they passed work my way. As I became more confident in my role as a mum and a freelancer I started writing more about my own experiences as a working mum, weaving my stories into conversational articles about time management, social media marketing and me time. These were well received and several people suggested I take the content and turn it into a book.

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Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013 – The Author as Everything

#SWF2013_ForestforTreesIt’s now over a month since the Sydney Writers’ Festival day long workshop prepared by NSW Writers’ Centre – Forest for the Trees. I wanted to post about the panel I facilitated, but it has been delayed because I was enjoying a lovely post-festival holiday on a tropical island!


The Author as everything

“Anna Maguire leads a conversation with self-published authors Chris AllenDionne Lister, and Elisabeth Storrs about how they manage to get their work published, printed and promoted while retaining their creative sprit.” Sydney Writers’ Festival program.

Firstly, can I just say what an absolute delight it was to have Dionne, Chris and Elisabeth on the panel! We had great email conversations up to the event and and thanks to them I felt as organised as it is possible to be. Although it can sometimes be a bit nerve-wracking talking to a large room full of people I can honestly say it was a lot of fun and we would have loved to have kept talking!

Secondly, kudos to NSW Writers’ Centre for organising a day on the state of publishing in 2013 and including a panel of self-publishers. We all know about the growth of this form of publishing and of course NSW Writers’ Centre run courses for those who wish to publish, both traditionally as well as delving down the digital path. If are you are a writer interested in finding out more, then I recommend the weekend workshop Digital DIY in November 2013. I’ll be speaking over the weekend, along with a great line up including Linda Funnell, David Henley and  Walter Mason.

If anyone needs the growth trend of indie publishing confirmed, then reading this post from industry heavyweight Mike Shatzkin should be of interest. One point in this article highlights the different paths possible when publishing:

The “Wool” deal, where Hugh Howey sold only print rights to Simon & Schuster, hasn’t really been replicated yet for anything else that big, but it will be. (Successful indie authors John Locke and Bella Andre have done different versions of the same trick.)  Extract from The Shatzkin Files

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Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013 – My Path Through with Forest with Emily Maguire

Forest for the Trees

#SWF2013_ForestforTreesThis is the second time this excellent workshop has been organised by the NSW Writers’ Centre and run at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I always find the sessions talking about the life of the writer very interesting. So many people want to be a writer, but what is it really like? Can a successful writer concentrate on their writing alone, or do they need to do other jobs too?


My Path Through the Forest

A writer’s life entails much more than just getting words on the page. Author and journalist, Emily Maguire, takes us through what she will be doing in 2013.


  • Emily’s first novel Taming the Beast took two years to write at night.  It was sold to a tiny Australian publisher for a small advance but her dream to be published had come true.
  • When the international rights were sold she quit her job to have a few months to look for something else. That was nine years ago and she hasn’t had to look for a ‘real job’ since.
  • She stretched her big advance further, writing endlessly. Her first freelance story payment came through just in time to stop the phone getting cut off. This first story helped her get other jobs. In the years since she has returned to study and returned to teaching, but is always writing madly and hoping there will be enough money.
  • She does a lot of freelance work and her success rate on pitches has improved because she knows what certain editors want and her name is more known. However, she isn’t pitching as hard as she used to do as she spends more time on teaching and her first preference is to work on her fiction.
  • She also enjoys writing book reviews for freelance work, although she does feel guilty as times as it’s heaven to read and write about a book.
  • Emily has a website, is on Twitter (sometimes a lot, and sometimes not for weeks) and doesn’t blog.


  • Emily also runs creative workshops for kids, is running Year of the Novel for NSW Writers’ Centre and works mentoring authors. She also has a newly elected position on the Board of NSW Writers’ Centre.
  • I loved her advice on writing organisations: The best way to find warm generous writers friends is to be a warm generous writer friend. That’s the benefit of writing organisations – you can find people at various levels of experience.
  • Emily also enjoys talking about the writing life and is asked to do this at libraries, schools and festivals. However, she gave some sage advice about talking about writing – and also about social media:

“Talking about writing can be energising – BUT you can kid yourself you’re working hard on your craft, when in actual fact you’re talking about writing. “ Emily Maguire

  • She described herself as a novelist with four done, and one on the way. But writing her books is the smallest slice of the work. If she could afford to she would spend more time writing novels but this is not unusual. But it IS the centre of her life. Emily is now working on her 5th novel, but it could be the first, she still needs to carve out this novel out of the world.
  • A writer is making something from nothing. It’s her and the keyboard. her fingers, sometimes frozen, sometimes aching, sometimes her body hurts, this body, dressed in mismatched tracksuits or PJ’s, but always with a coffee, and that’s it. That’s all there is. “Hence the terror and elation”. Emily said writing is thinking of a word, a sentence, a paragraph, then doing it again, and again, and again. And ensuring those words justify their existence, before it’s ok to present to someone else.
  • When she is writing she sits down and switches off everything else. She reminds herself, her novels take time. It’s easy to think you need to be rushing, seeing others and what they have done”The more days of my life I spend writing, the better I would have lived.”
  • At times she knocks back invitations, but she does that because writing matters to her. She asks herself if the thing she’s about to do, is it more important than writing her novel?
  • She writes a first draft as quickly as she can – a skeleton – and deals with all  the notes she’s made in a seperate file. Then she goes through it again and again, putting layers on layers, stripping off half of them, putting down new layers.
  • Thoughts run through her head. Maybe her agent will hate the book? Or feel nothing? Maybe he’ll love it, but her publisher won’t –  she thinks of all the possibilities.
  • Emily told us there is no one right way to do this work, there are multiple ways through the forest.

I think this is the most important message and one that reinforces the talk last year by Sophie Cunningham. Each writer must find their own way through the forest. Learn from others, but don’t be afraid to strike your own path. Don’t feel the pressure that may come when you compare your own path to other writers.  It’s not always an easy path, but often one that writers feel compelled to take.

Thank you to Emily Maguire for sharing with us her path through the forest, and for Pantera Press for supporting the session at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. And huge thanks to NSW Writers’ Centre.


Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013 – Crowdfunding workshop/Nick Earls talk

Now that the dust has settled  I wanted to share some of my exciting week at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Through the week I wore two different hats: (1) A crowdfunding expert and author; (2) A facilitator of panels relating to the state of the publishing industry. It was terrifically exciting to be involved with so many brilliant events this year.This post will cover the Crowdfunding workshop and Author event with Nick Earls.

Using and Understanding Crowdfunding – Monday 20 May 2013 at State Library of NSW


I was so pleased to be asked to run a crowdfunding workshop for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I’ve been immersed in the world of crowdfunding for around a year and half now, and I can really see the opportunities for those who wish to self-fund their writing projects.

I outlined the workshop in my post on my ‘other’ blog, Crowdfund it! One of the things I enjoy about running workshops is allowing everyone the opportunity to ask questions aimed at their particular project. I am finding in the crowdfunding workshops that around  2/3 of participants arrive with a specific project in mind. The remainder are interested in a more general sense. I also find that sometimes people attend on behalf of someone else that they think would benefit!

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Layar – Mobile Augmented Reality Technology

Layar on PW

EDIT 10 MAY 2013: I’ve just been informed that Layar won’t be part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival this year. I still recommend you check out this amazing technology and consider how it may be used.

In my previous post Reading in the E-Future I discussed the line up at the fantastic upcoming event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival this year.

Naturally I’ve been enjoying researching all my sessions for this year, but wanted to share with you a little bit more about Layar as it really is an interesting development.

Although there are many videos online of how it works, if you don’t have access to a magazine that has worked with Layar I’d recommend the following:

This blog post on the Layar site talks about the recent use on the Publishers Weekly cover.

In order to experience this for yourself I’d recommend you try the following example:

1. Download Layar from the app store – it’s a free download.

2. Go to the link mentioned above, the post about the use by Publishers Weekly.

3. Click on the image of the cover in the post, or click here, or even click the image above.

4. With the Layar app open, hold it over the cover image on your computer and access the additional content.

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Reading in the E-Future at Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013

What is the future of reading?

Reading in the E-Future

  • How has your reading changed over the last five years? Have you moved on or stayed with predominately reading on paper?
  • Do you read on your computer, smart phone or tablet?
  • And do you have a preference?
  • Does the choice of what form you read on change what you read?
  • Is there a need for newspapers when we all know that Twitter is first with breaking news?
  • Do you read paper newspapers or online or on a Tablet or via the Facebook page of the news service?
  • Will the readers of the future only consume content in 140 character counts or short updates via their social media of choice?
  • And how will that that impact how we write?
  • Are words enough anymore or do readers need accompanying audio or video and will this stop us being immersed in what we read?
  • Or will extra digital content help us understand the creation in a deeper way?
  • Does language need to evolve to suit different forms?
  • And if so, how should language evolve? 
  • Is there a difference in understanding between linear and non-linear reading?
  • A difference in our cognitive approach?
  • And how do you design for the E-Future when you’re in the here and now?

I won’t pretend to have all the answer to these questions, but the wonderful panel I am facilitating at the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival may have some discussions along these lines.

Reading in the  E-Future is presented in collaboration with Vivid Ideas and supported by the Plain English Foundation.

The panel features the following speakers:

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Summer of the Seventeenth Doll iPad App

The Doll App by Currency Press

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, by Ray Lawler, was first performed in Melbourne in 1955 and is universally acclaimed as one of the most significant plays in the history of Australian theatre. This was one of the first to show Australian life and characters with unabashed honesty and to be performed with Australian accents.

Amazingly for the time, after runs in Melbourne, Sydney and around the country it moved onto a successful London season, backed by Sir Laurence Olivier, and a less successful Broadway season.

Performing Arts Publisher Currency Press has just released an inspirational and educational app for The Doll. It will introduce the work to a new audience and delight those familiar with the play through its curated interactive content.

I’ve been reintroduced to the play, last experienced in long-ago school days. With a depth of content related to this iconic work I’ve spent a lot of time listening, looking and watching some of the content in the app. Despite this, I feel I may not yet have discovered all it can offer!

TheDoll App Timeline 1970s

I talked to Digital Project Manager and Curator Toby Leon from Currency Press to find out about the project.

Digireado: Congratulations to you and Currency Press. How long has Currency Press been publishing The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll?

Leon: The play was originally published by Angus & Robertson, before being taken up by Fontana Press. Currency Press secured the publishing rights in 1978, the year after The Doll Trilogy was performed for the first time – and in repertoire – at the Melbourne Theatre Company. Continue reading