Category Archives: What I’ve been up to

New NZ Post Outlet at Mobil Karori Works Great

NZ_Post_Mobil_Karori_street_viewEfficient and effective postal services are essential for our home-based book publishing and distribution business. We send and receive packages and letters around New Zealand and overseas. So, we were concerned to learn that the NZ Post shop in Karori was going to close and be replaced by a new outlet at the Mobil service station.

NZ_Post_Mobil_Karori_shop_entryWe needn’t have worried. The new facilities and the customer service at the new Mobil outlet are excellent. NZ Post has helped the transition by providing a trainer form the South Island to get the Mobil staff up to speed. One the first day I had a package to airmail to Vanuatu – this was no problem.

I can drop off prepaid packages and stamped letters. We sometimes have lots of packages that are too big to fit in a post box slot, so being able to leave them at Mobil is important.

NZ_Post_Mobil_Karori_containerOur PO Box is now located in a refurbished container at the back of the Mobil property. Do watch out for vehicles as you walk across the forecourt.

NZ_Post_Mobil_Karori_PO_box_lobby_entry

You gain entry by keying in a 4 digit PIN.

NZ_Post_Mobil_Karori_PGPL_box_17160Our box (17160) used to have a door about 6″ square and was on the very bottom row, so was hard to get at. Our new box is bigger and can comfortably fit foolscap size envelopes and packages up about 2″ deep. And as bonus, it is at chest height — no more bending and crouching – Yay!  If a package is too big or needs to be signed for, the staff leave a card and I call at the counter to claim it – just like a real Post Office.

For our business, one week on, the transition to the Mobil outlet has worked well.

Philip Garside
books@pgpl.co.nz

Breath of the Spirit – a poem, litany and song

Breath of the Spirit — a creative process

I’ve just written a poem, that became a catch phrase for a concert series, then a litany and then a song. Here’s a description of the creative process.

Some background

For the past 7 years Wellington Methodist Parish have offered a series of free lunchtime concerts and weekend film showings as part of our Winter@ Wesley festival. Graeme Millar sowed the seeds for W@W when he was our minister for a year. His vision was that we should spread some light and warmth in the gloom and misery of winter darkness. We offer free soup and bread after the lunchtime concerts and have found this to be an effective, gentle way of reaching out to our central city neighbours. The performers also bring their friends along. My wife Heather has managed the concerts from the start and does a fine job of contacting and hosting local musicians and singers at our church.

Each year I have designed a poster for Winter @ Wesley. Last year Rev Motekiai Falkatou suggested that we make wind the theme for the festival. With that in mind I created the spiral logo you see in last year’s poster. 10 days ago I was talking with Motekiai again and he said that this year we could focus on breath and wind. That immediately made me think of the Holy Spirit.

Winter_at_Wesley_2015_A4_22_May_15

The writing process

A couple of days later the phrase “Breath of the Spirit, blowing among us” popped into mind and I grabbed a pen and scrap paper and started to write the poem. Take a look at the three photos of my scrawled notes which show how the words developed.  This took less than half an hour.

breath_of_the_spirit_draft_1A breath_of_the_spirit_draft_1B breath_of_the_spirit_draft_1G

I started with passive phrases “blowing among us” and “reforming and reshaping us.” When I realised this, I changed them to active voice phrases “come blow among us” and “reshape and reform us.” This gives the words more urgency and implies movement.

There were too many instances of the word “us” at the start, so I took some of them out, e.g. “fill us, inspire us with…” became “fill and inspire us…”  Some phrases didn’t work at all, e.g. “connecting to each other” became “link us together to form a new whole.” And the odd word got changed, e.g. “dark corners” became “dark places.”

So this short poem emerged:

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Weave your deft patterns, reform and reshape us
link us together to form a new whole.

Roar down our streets – winter gale blowing
sweep clean our dark places – hearts bare and renewed

Uplift and free us, help us to soar
May your energy power us, turn all hearts to you.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

You can see a video of me performing the poem on YouTube here:

 

2016 poster takes shape

The next step was to include the words “Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us…” in this year’s poster. You will see that I have fitted the words on a curve below the spiral logo.

A design tip…The best way to create a poster like this is to use multiple layers in Adobe Photoshop. This enables me to size and position each element separately, until a nice visual balance is achieved. You will also see that I have re-used most of the 2015 poster design, with the biggest change being the background colour, which was blue and is now purple.

Winter_at_Wesley_2016_A4_23_May_16

When the design is finished and approved we will print an A1 poster for the front notice board, A4 and A5 posters and maybe A6 leaflets, all from the same A4 PDF file.

Then a litany

Being a worship leader, it soon occurred to me that the poem could be adapted as a responsive litany. It would work as a call to worship or a prayer of approach a bit later in the service. The congregation repeats the refrain and the leader speaks the verses.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Weave your deft patterns, reform and reshape us
link us together to form a new whole.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy.

Roar down our streets – winter gale blowing
sweep clean our dark places – hearts bare and renewed

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy

Uplift and free us, help us to soar
May your energy power us, turn all hearts to you.

Breath of the Spirit, come blow among us
fill and inspire us, with life-giving joy. Amen

You can see a video of me performing the litany on YouTube here:

 

 

 Then a song…

 I showed the litany to a poet friend. The next day she sent me a Facebook message saying, “The liturgy you wrote yesterday could also be turned into a hymn with a repeating refrain.”

To which I shrugged my shoulders. Mmm, maybe?

But the next day, when walking home from the bus stop after church, a bit of tune came into my head from the Finale of Jonathan Berkahn’s The Third Day, Easter cantata, which I have sung many times with Festival Singers. It fitted the first few words of the refrain. When I got home I got out the litany and started to sing melodies to the words – the first step in composing.

Having convinced myself that I had some good melody ideas, the next urgent step was to write out the musical notation. Urgent, because if I don’t capture the musical ideas quickly I will forget them. I don’t write the notes by hand onto lined manuscript paper. Instead I use music notation software – Noteworthy Composer (US$49). This lets me enter a few notes and I can then get the software to play them back. Often I enter the wrong pitch or length of a note, so hearing the melody played back lets me check what’s written down against what’s in my head.

The other tool I use at this first draft stage is an electronic keyboard. I have an old Yamaha keyboard which can sit next to my screen and computer keyboard. I use the keyboard to try different patterns of notes for the phrases of the song, and keep fiddling until I’m happy. After I have entered all the melody line into Noteworthy I print out a first draft of the sheet music.

20160527_223542

Then I get out my guitar and experiment fitting different chords to the melody, and write them by hand onto the music. Then I sing through the whole song, ironing out the rough edges until I’m happy. While I have Grade 7 Royal Schools music theory and have sung in good choirs for many years, I can’t “hear” the underlying harmonies and chords when I’m writing a song. Heather and my son Christopher do have that ability, which I greatly admire. I just have to bash my way through.

Now the acid test. “Heather, I’ve got this new song. Would you like to hear it?” To which the response, after listening to it, is, “It’s good, but…” An exercise in humility then follows in which I am given several suggestions for better chords, tweaking the verses so the melody ends on a rising note, allowing ease in the timing so that people singing can catch the breath we are singing about and so on…

I accept some suggestions and tactfully decline others. Another couple of rounds of editing the sheet music follow. And, we are done. The whole creative process took 3 days.

Click this link to download a free PDF of the sheet music: Breath_of_the_Spirit – Melody

Note: The song is set fairly low which will suit basses like me and altos. If you prefer a higher setting, transpose it up a tone or two by using a capo on your guitar.

You can see a video of me performing the song in our Winter@Wesley concert series on YouTube here:

 

Then publish abroad God’s glorious name!

Now I get to share the poem, litany and song with the rest of the world.

I’ll make them and this story available as a blog post on my website. (This is it!) I’ll share that post on Facebook and Twitter to help build my brand.

I’m going to sing the song when I perform the first concert of the Winter@Wesley series on 9 June. I’m going to introduce it to Festival Singers when I lead the closing devotions on Monday night, and to our 10am Singing Group at Wesley.

I’ll also do a post on kiwiconnexion.nz and record videos to post on You Tube performing the poem, litany and song.

I might base my next service at Pukerua Bay on the litany…

People, choirs and churches are free to use these in worship or anywhere else. Please just credit me as the composer/writer.

If you want to record or publish any of them commercially please email me at books@pgpl.co.nz

Brief reflections on the creative process

Interactions with other people were important. Motekiai sparked, “Spirit.” My poet friend liked the words and said, “Song?” Heather helped to polish a rough diamond into something shinier.

It’s good to recycle and re-purpose an idea. A simple devotional poem, can be extended for use in worship. I have also in this case borrowed the first two bars of the tune from Jonathan. I don’t think he will mind.

I wrote the words and the song because I felt inspired to do so. I like making things and the process somehow comes naturally to me.

I’m not the best poet, liturgist, composer, singer or musician in the world. But I have enough skills, and the confidence to use them, to produce worthwhile creative work. It would be silly for me to be held back by waiting until I achieved perfection, good enough will do.

Make it, share it, see what happens.

Philip Garside
28 May 2016

p.s. There is an excellent podcast interview about the creative process here: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/05/16/creativity-art-business/

Praise for Earthed in Hope. eBooks now $9.99

The following review by Rev John Meredith appears in the June 2015 issue of Touchstone – the Methodist Church’s monthly newspaper.

 “Alister G. Hendery,
Earthed in Hope.
Dying, Death and Funerals. A Pakeha Anglican Perspective
.
Wellington: Philip Garside, 2014, 300 pages.

Hendery remarks that over the past four decades funeral practices in New Zealand have undergone sweeping changes. Celebrants who are not clergy conduct well over half Pakeha funerals and offer a highly personalised, life-centred alternative to churches. Although the church is no longer the chief provider of funeral ceremonies, Christian faith has a realistic approach to death and grief that is grounded in undying hope in God. Writing from an Pakeha Anglican perspective, Hendery addresses significant issues of Christian faith and practice and touches on matters relevant to all who exercise funeral ministry.

A funeral marks the ending of a human life and, as Hendery points out, people today have a wide choice in style and content of a funeral service. When a minister of the church is requested to officiate it cannot be taken for granted that the community for this funeral either understands or accepts the Christian story. Listening is a key part of the minister’s preparation. It is also important for a minister to accept that profound feelings of the loss of a physical presence cannot be assuaged by religious formulae.

At several places in the book the author stresses that whatever form the funeral takes, the most effective feature will be the embodiment of compassion by the minister. While those attending the funeral may forget what was said they will probably remember the attitude of the minister.

While a minister of the church is a spokesperson for the gospel, Hendery stresses this does not mean imposing on people. Ministers must be flexible and willing to offer guidance rather than ruling on matters such as choice of music and form of tribute.

Hendery expresses concern about the way euphemistic language may diminish the reality of someone’s death. Too often a person passes away to become the deceased. Instead, the author prefers unambiguous language. His practice of referring to someone who has died as “the dead person” indicates both respect for the person and an acceptance of reality.

The idea of closure, as it is popularly termed, is addressed thoughtfully. Writing of the pastoral care of people who are grieving, Hendery suggests that while, over time, those who have been bereaved may become reconciled to their loss, this does not mean that closure, is an appropriate end to the experience of grief. Those who are left continue to relate to those who have died through memory and abiding influence.

For those concerned with funeral ministry there is much in this book that will repay careful reflection: how God and Christian hope are presented, the avoidance of euphemisms and idealistic eulogies, ritual at and after the funeral, funerals following suicide, funerals of children and children at funerals. Hendery states: We need to be able to look death in the face and be willing to wrestle with the theological, spiritual and emotional demands that this takes. Earthed in Hope offers significant help for those who are serious about doing this.”


eBook editions of Earthed in Hope have now been reduced from NZ$14.99 to NZ$9.99.
Click here to order your PDF, Kindle or ePub edition.

 

Fraser Boyd featured in Upper Hutt Leader, 25 March 2015

Newspaper Article

Author tackles fiction

Upper Hutt Leader 25 March 2015, pg 12

Upper Hutt Leader article 25 March 2015 150w

First time author: Fraser Boyd undertook a lot of research before writing his first novel. (Upper Hutt Leader, 25 March 2015)

“Upper Hutt’s Fraser Boyd had done a lot of writing in his time before he turned his hand to fiction.

The former technical writer and Air Force photographer has recently had his first novel published.

Never to Return Home tells the story of Boyd’s wife Margaret’s great-grandparents, who emigrated from Ireland to Otago in the 1860s.

Boyd said his interest in their story began when his wife embarked on a family history project. Scant details were available about their lives in New Zealand, so Boyd used his imagination to fill in the gaps.

Boyd, a morning person, would get up bright and early to work on the story.

“It took three years’ spare time,” Boyd said.

“I don’t think I found it too difficult,” he said. “Once it flowed, it really flowed.”

Boyd said he wanted to rewrite the novel about five or six times, often realising he had skipped some years in the story.

Once Boyd had finished his manuscript, he showed it to his family before it went to publisher Philip Garside.

After that, there was a “huge amount” of rework by the editor.

“I write long sentences,” Boyd said. “Some had to be cut in half.”

Boyd said he was amazed how much information is available to help with writing a piece of historical fiction.

“It’s surprising how much you can find when you put some strange words into Google.”

In one instance he had found a complete history of the Port Chalmers Quarry.

Boyd said the whole process had been a big learning experience, but he would recommend it to others who felt they had a story to put to paper.

“Based on my experience, I would say ‘do it’.”

Click to order  eBook or Print book

 

Dance With Us – A response to hatred

Click to download a PDF of the melody line and guitar chords

Click to download a midi file of the melody

Dance With Us

  1. When you are troubled,
    have no fear, have no fear.
    Christ has a message
    we want to share:

Refrain:
Come and dance with us,
sing with us,
walk along our way.
Help us bring alive God’s kingdom
on earth today.

  1. Leave behind hatred,
    turn away, seek the light.
    Love one another
    no need to fight:
  1. Hear one another,
    loving care, kindness shared.
    Hearts and hands open,
    world in our care:

Words and music:
Philip Garside
10 January 2015

(You may copy and sing this song freely, with acknowledgment.)

“New Book Takes Wings” Review in Touchstone Dec. 2014 of Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight

New Book Takes Wings

By Sophie Parish

Review published in Touchstone Dec 2014

Rev Vai Ngahe uses symbols of nature to layout strategies for ministry in today’s world in his new book, ‘Weaving, Networking and Taking Flight’. The book was launched in Manurewa Methodist Church on Oct 25th. Those on hand for the event included local parishioners, business owners, and MPs.

In his book Vai reflects on 10 years of ministry in Avondale and Manurewa and the evolution of modern-day Methodism in the community. He records his growth as a minister and how each congregation has been transformed.

Reflecting on his work in Avondale, he highlights the importance of weaving together a multi-cultural community to support members within the church and people in the community. He writes about the importance of networking as a way to help transform lives.

Vai uses the symbol of the bird taking flight to write about his ministry in Manurewa. He describes how it has enabled him to see life from a higher and more spiritual perspective, and how the placement of the church is optimal for reaching the community on many levels.

Photos and articles in the book illustrate his journey and the improvements made to the Avondale church building and the outreach events organized at both churches to promote the love of Jesus and John Wesley’s message to go out into the community.

Vai offers concrete examples of how the church can thrive through the challenges of and changes in an increasingly secular society.

Available now in Paperback and Ebook.

WNTF_front_cover_200w_sq

Order now eBooks or Print book

See the original review on page 12 of Touchstone Dec. 2014 here:
http://www.methodist.org.nz/touchstone

 

www.pgpl.co.nz website moving to WordPress

This weekend I’ve been moving the website content from the old FrontPage design into a new WordPress site.

You should find it quicker and easier to get around the site as WordPress  makes it simpler to provide drop down menus and has a whole bunch of other tools and features that I’ll be exploring soon.

The new WordPress site should be available in a few days at the same URL www.pgpl.co.nz

Cheers, Philip