All that time, all that effort, all that blood, sweat, and tears. Make sure it’s not wasted. A few simple changes can transform your first novel-writing experience from failure to success.

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Group Writing Session. Photo by Writers’ Café

Your first draft will be terrible

Unless you’ve got a lot of experience writing other forms of fiction (short stories, flash fiction…), the first draft of your first novel is going to be terrible.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. Professional authors who are writing their twentieth novel often write terrible first drafts too. In fact, Anne Lamott in her book ‘Bird by Bird’ famously advises writers to ‘write shitty first drafts’.

The…


The recent Gamestop share price changes have shown what we’ve all suspected: the stock market is not an indication of the value of a company, but is simply a gambling platform for the wealthy.

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Photo by Burak K from Pexels

The myth that has perpetuated through the ages, is that shares in a company are priced based on the long-term value of that company. If a company becomes more valuable, its share price will increase accordingly.

At first glance it seems that this is indeed the case: A company posts a larger than expected end-of-year profit, and people tend to buy more shares in that company…


The same logic that blames individuals for being fat is used to maintain the status quo and keep people from living the way they want.

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Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

If I offered you a piece of chocolate cake, how would you decide if you should eat it? Would you weigh up the pros (deliciousness) against the cons (an extra layer of fat on your hips and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes)? If you eat the cake, does that mean you’ve decided the deliciousness of the cake is more important than the associated weight gain and health risks?

How Economists Claim We Decide

According to economists, that…


Your partner has made something unpalatable for dinner, or your child has dug up something tetanus-inducing from outside. To take the conversation further, you need to know how to ask what on Earth that is.

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He aha tēnei? He kurī tēnā.

Three New Words

First, let’s learn a few words:


The recession is here, business owners are walking out on leases they can’t afford, tourism is struggling to maintain even the ghost of its former self, but the one thing still going strong is the housing market.

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Auckland at night (when you can’t see the house prices)

The resilience of the housing market shouldn’t come as a surprise. In uncertain times, people look to areas of certainty. The world’s population continues to grow while the amount of land remains fixed, which makes housing a pretty certain investment under most conditions.

With no capital gains tax, rental income able to be offset against interest payments on your mortgage, and many other…


Four big mistakes that all beginning writers make — avoid them in your writing!

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Photo by Writers’ Café

When I first started writing novels, I thought it would be easy. I’ve read a lot of books, so I should know exactly how to write a good one.

I quickly learned that reading makes an author the same way that watching rugby makes a professional rugby player. It turns out that the only way to actually become an author or a professional rugby player is constant, dedicated practice.

Having said that, there are four big mistakes that all (or at least most) beginner writers make. …


Chapter one is where your reader decides if they’ll keep reading, or put your book down and move onto something else.

A woman sitting outside with her feet propped up, reading an un-putdownable novel
A woman sitting outside with her feet propped up, reading an un-putdownable novel
Photo by Min An from Pexels

The Look Inside feature of Amazon makes the first chapter a crucial sales tool for self-published and ebook authors, and if you’re looking to be traditionally published, chapter one is often the make-or-break point for agents and publishers deciding whether to keep reading or to reject your book without bothering to find out what happens. Once it’s in the bookstore, the first page is often a key component of deciding whether or not to buy the book.

With so much riding on the first chapter, it’s essential that it is done well, otherwise, you’ll be left with a novel that…


If you’d love to speak more reo Māori, but you’re embarrassed about your pronunciation, Italian opera could be the solution you need.

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Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Are you envious of the people around you using more and more reo Māori in their greetings and introductions? You may be yearning to join their ranks, but worried that your pronunciation is not up to scratch.

Let’s fix that.

Introducing Yourself: Working on your Pepeha

Let’s work on the pronunciation in the pepeha you give when you’re introducing yourself and saying where you’re from.

Here’s how to say where you are from:

“Nō _________ ahau.”

means ‘from’, ahau means ‘I’, and the…


The dream of becoming your own boss is near irresistible, but the reality is often worse than that 9–5 you’re desperate to escape

A stressed man trying to make an independent income
A stressed man trying to make an independent income
Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

Whether it’s escaping the grind of a job you hate or wanting to make it on your own after struggling to find a job at all, there are many reasons people try to become their own boss.

But for every person who’s successfully made the transition, there are hundreds who haven’t. These failed entrepreneurs are left stressed, out-of-pocket, and with the by-products of their failed dreams to deal with, whether it’s a failed relationship, an overwhelming debt to repay, or simply the weight of knowing that their dream never happened.

Why do so many people fail in their goal of…


You’re showered, you’re dressed, you’ve cleaned your teeth, you’re totally going to make it to work on time. You’re half-way out the door when you realise you can’t find your phone, your keys, or your wallet. Again. You’re going to be late. Again. There is only one thing that makes this situation worthwhile: knowing how to ask where your stuff is in Māori!

You will need FOUR MINUTES to master this. Imagine, in just four minutes time, you’re going to know how to ask where stuff is in Māori!

Let’s do it.

The First Minute: HEA

The first word we…

Julie Sandilands

Economist-in-training, writer, business owner, really slow runner.

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