Tag Archives: books

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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Turning Feral – work in progress

Our dog Cloud. Photo by Lin van Hek

A pack of dogs is going crazy down at our swimming hole. Crazy wild like nothing you could tell them would stop their racket. It’s been happening a lot lately, packs of dogs rampaging through the bush. It’s been talked about at tables and by the river, what should we do about those dogs? They’ve had the taste for blood. Turning feral.

Us kids emerge from the blackberry tunnels and rush down to the river to investigate. We make up our own little feral pack.

A dead kangaroo, fat and bloated, is wedged in a tree that overhangs the waterhole. The stench stings our nostrils and the pack of dogs is bursting with hysteria.

Will it blow? asks Couzie.

Someone nudges the animal with a long stick but it won’t budge. Marko steps out from the bank, left foot on a branch, right foot on the body – like a steppingstone. Us onlookers crane forward, waiting for the drama. The dogs are beyond excited now, saliva spraying sideways, teeth bared.

Marko rocks and nudges at the dead beast, the water rippling across the river. We hold our noses dramatically, the pong makes our eyes water. It might explode any minute.

The kangaroo comes free bobbing in the ripples and parting the branches of the tree. The dogs are barking in trill tones – feverish – as the bulbous body floats downstream, the dogs following along the shore, carrying on like it might try to escape and bound away.

Boredom sets in now that the excitement is gone, so we run off to capture frogs. The dogs lose interest too and slink away into the bush, the occasional yelp or bark fades into nothing.

This small bit of excitement is soon forgotten, we go back to the blackberries. From the break of day till the dusk of night, we are in the creek bed or in the blackberries. We scoot into the depths of the vines, prickly and dense, where we have carved out rooms and corridors just like in Watership Down. We sit in dug out hollows sipping tea from a river rock or writing on a flat rock using another powdery rock as a pen. This one makes soft yellow words.

Our warrior dog, Cloud, stands guard. He is bored with our games now and prefers rolling in crushed ants. We hear a whine deep in the bush and Cloud stops panting to listen, wary of those feral dogs in the distance.

The blackberry grows like a hedge around the bend in the creek and gives us bucket loads of large, juicy blackberries every summer.

There’s nothing like blackberry jam made with just-picked berries. Mama sometimes puts too much sugar in the mix and the jam becomes toffee. It’s so hard we can’t even get it out of the pan. Then it burns and turns the toffee black. The pot is no good now. We put it in the garden for the bush to reclaim.

When the jam works well it doesn’t last. We eat it on chapatti bread cooked on the fire. Warm and oozy. A jar of jam might last a day or two. Maybe less if we didn’t have to wait for the chapattis to cook.

Blaise the book chick

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