Category Archives: Life

The Genesis of Busybird Publishing – the short story

The Genesis of Busybird Publishing, image by Les Zig

Many people ask me about why the business is called Busybird. I guess it was an organic genesis. Let me try to give you a short version …

When I was a child living in the bush, I spent a lot of time hiding under a blanket watching birds. My favourite bird was the cheeky Willie Wagtail flitting from branch to branch showing off his beautiful blue-black tail feathers in all their fanlike glory, and the little Superb Fairy-wren, so delicate and pretty.

This fascination was further encouraged when my stepfather went to Melbourne and came home with posters of bird species from the Royal Melbourne Zoo. My little brain would attempt to pronounce the Latin names without much success but I learned about what noises the Whipbird made or what region the Welcome Swallow lived in.

Fast forward to adulthood and I began to collect bird trinkets: earrings, necklaces, scarves, ornaments, even a bluebird tattoo. Friends and family started to give me gifts that featured birds. I’m not sure what this fascination is about. It may be that I am an air sign, or I love the idea of the freedom that wings might give me.

In 1998, when I was making handmade cards (using feathers as a design element), it seemed very natural to name a business ‘Busybird’. I wasn’t after the ideal of ‘being busy’ but more so the industriousness of my feathered friends.

In partnership with my husband Kev Howlett, we tackled design and photographic work. The digital landscape was changing rapidly during this time. We got one of the first ‘bubble’ Macs, I learned how to send an email and got my first mobile phone (a red Nokia, no querty keyboard). I still have the same mobile phone number today.

We were fortunate to get a contract with Ford Motor Company digitizing their catalogues and this kept us very busy for almost ten years. But like anything in technology, a company in Sri Lanka out priced us and we lost the contract. At the time were were devastated but it allowed me to go back to school to learn about publishing. I had intended to learn about writing in order to finish my novel but I fell in love with the publishing process.

In 2007, while studying my Diploma in Writing & Editing, I met Les Zigomanis. We immediately found that we worked well together and had similar views about the writing industry. We decided to publish a short story anthology called [untitled] with a couple of the other students.

This was a VERY steep learning summit. This experience made us realize how many mistakes you can make when you don’t have all the knowledge about self-publishing, in terms of time and money.

This experience also made me realize that this is where I wanted to be: bringing books to life. I love the whole process and I love being part of this journey with people. It really can be cathartic, life changing, satisfying, frustrating, fun and rewarding.

Ten years on (we changed the trading name to Busybird Publishing) and we’ve  (the whole Busybird team) now worked with over 200 people to bring their book out into the world, and countless others to improve their writing.

I like to think that we are like a midwife. We’ll hold your hand, wipe your brow and whisper words of encouragement. We’ll also be there when you hold that baby up to the light and bask in the wonder of what you have created because we feel as much pride in the outcome as the creator.

What a blessing to be able to help give something wings and release it out into the universe. Everyone deserves a chance to have their story told, to have a voice. It’ll have different resonance for different people but it’s the value of being able to tell it as much as it being accepted by a reader.

If you’ve been thinking about your story, why not attend my next Life Writing session THIS Saturday.

Blaise, the book chick

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Winter Solstice: A Creative Muse

Winter Solstice by Blaise van Hecke

I love winter. Open fires, hot cups of tea to warm our chilled hands, beautiful winter sunsets. I’d love it even more if I could stay longer in bed in the morning, but you can’t have everything.

Today I am reflecting on the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year, the longest night, a time for contemplation. Time to make magic. What does this mean to me? Does it mean anything? Maybe it’s nothing to think twice about and we go on with our day as normal.

Being a writer means EVERYTHING bears thinking about because that’s what writers do. We want to know the significance of things. It hurts the brain, doesn’t it? Writing is a vehicle where we can make sense of these ‘everythings’ in our head.

The Winter Solstice can be a great muse for our writing. There are so many aspects to what it is, the historical values, what it might mean to us that we can ponder and use in our writing. How do you do this?

One way could be to think about what the longest night might mean to nature? What are the elements that relate to nature that could be interesting in a piece of writing? Can we relate these to death, dying, or renewal? Do you feel that the solstice is the start of winter, or the middle? Are there dark, mystical themes that we can tease out and infuse into our writing?

Now think about the history of humans. How do you think the Winter Solstice might have been viewed over the centuries? There were most likely pagan rituals around it during the Middle Ages and who knows how it has shaped other religious entities.

How many questions have I raised here? I haven’t gotten to any answers yet. I haven’t made sense of anything at all so where is this magic that writing is meant to answer? This is the magic of writing. Not that we get a definitive answer to our questions but that in the asking of questions, and writing through them, we go on a quest to discover our own truths and eek out stories as we go.

Being a writer is a quest. A quest to knowledge and enlightenment.

Blaise the book chick

*If you’d like to discover more about storytelling, come along to one of my Meetup groups at the Busybird Publishing studio. More info about the next session is here.

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