Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

             Merry Christmas

                         Have a safe and joyous holiday period
                                  and I wish for you all the
                                           READING time
                                              you can get!

My Favourite Christmas Links

Star Dreamer  (the index for the amazing pages is at the bottom of the welcome page - nostalgia galore).

North Pole (self explanatory - kids can go wild)

Santa Claus (great place for the kids to browse through)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Big Four Ohhhhhhhh

Yep - I've made it! I'm actually on the other side of the age-hill heading down (ever so very gently :) )

I've spent the first day of my 'noughties' baking. Don't know why. Surely the nesting instinct hasn't kicked in again ... there is absolutely NO=WAY I'm pregnant ... must be a comfort thing.

Henyway - I've cooked this year's Christmas cake (plus bread, plus shortbread) and I took a photo of it before I cut the first slice. It is delicious!!!! So good, in fact, that I felt the need to share the recipe. If you're looking for a great, easy recipe that tastes divine - then this is it. Enjoy :)

Dark Rum Christmas Cake
6 c Christmas Fruit mix (or 2.5 c sultanas, 2 c raisins, 1.5 c currant/citrus peel mix)
3/4 c oil (vegetable is best)
1/2 c dark rum
1/2 c orange juice
1 c brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup or treacle
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 eggs - lightly beaten (I actually missed this instruction, so if you don't beat - it's still okay)
2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp mixed spice powder
'As many as you like' cherries ;)
tbsp plum jam

Combine the dried fruit, oil, rum, orange juice, sugar and golden syrup in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat for two minutes. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda (definitely use a large saucepan or the baking soda will overflow - yup, I found out the hard way). Allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile. Preheat oven to 150 degreesC (or 300 degreesF). Lightly grease then fully line with baking paper a 20cm (or 8inch) cake tin. Hint: the cake rises a lot so make sure the baking paper on the sides of the tin is a good inch higher than the tin (- again, the hard way).

Now that the fruit mix is cool: add the eggs, sifted flour and baking powder, and the mixed spice until completely combined.

Spread the mixture into the prepared tin. Arrange the cherries on top. Bake for 2 hours 10 minutes or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.

Let it cool in the tin. Heat the jam until it's runny then paint over the top of the cake with a soft pastry brush.

Store in an air tight container and it'll keep for a month if you want to tease yourself - or five minutes if you live in a house like mine - we all like the first slice while it's still warm.  (It'll last three months in the freezer).

Merry Xmas

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sandra's Last Book

Our wonderful friend and fellow author, Sandra Hyatt, passed away in August 2011. Her last book Lessons In Seduction has now been released by Harlequin "Desire" and we are all spreading the promotional word.

“The romance community is great at helping one of its own. Sandra Hyatt’s posthumous book Lessons In Seduction, is out tomorrow and her writing friends are spreading the word in the hope of increasing royalties for her family.”

Sandra's writing is fresh and heartfelt - I thoroughly recommend this book.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finally - to the Bat Cave!

Okay - it's not really anywhere near as cool as the 'real' Bat Cave on the Batman TV series (i.e. it has no butler). In fact, the bat reference is more in relation to my love of vampyres, than a shout-out to Batman - but still - my little writing wardrobe is like a cave of sorts.

And, I'm back-into-it ... I'm-a-writing-liza. And, it feels good, da da da da da da da!!!

99% of bulls have gone out and they won't be back until January/February 2012! ergo -  I have major writing time and I'm not gonna waste a moment of it.

Over the last month of full on bull-pimping, I've been able to fully develop the 'New Voices' entry in my head with the characters now shouting at me to get written - which means that in my world -  all the moons have aligned and it's time for the BatCave.

As a small stop-over (not procrastination :) ) I checked out what's been happening on the New Voices Facebook page and caught a post by Wendy S. Marcus with a link to her blogpost about external plot devices - very timely!!  I was going to have Hero/Heroine meet again in hospital because of emergency and an outsider (fairy-godmother-anaesthetist) let slip that the hero wasn't leaving the country like she thought. Whoops! Have now re-thunk that plot point and changed to the hero confronting her instead (on a mountain biking course - but you'll have to buy the book to find out why :) ).

I'm so excited! - To The BatCave (and no more procrastination!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Voices

Well, I didn't get through to the top four - but considering the shock I received when I got in the top twenty-one - I'm not complaining!  This has been an absolutely fantastic experience. Wendy S. Marcus is now my new hero!! Her mentoring, was spot on and stretched my writing muscle completely out of shape; into a new sassy, flirty voice that makes sense to me (it didn't to start off with because I didn't recognise it).  That might sound a little weird but VOICE has been one of my toughest challenges because I couldn't see it on the page

 To everyone who voted for me and supported me with comments I give my heartfelt thanks. The facebook friends were brilliant and our RWNZ members went the extra mile to make sure I did the best I could. Extra special thanks to Kamy Chetty for being the "Critique Partner Extraordinaire".
Over a thousand writers put themselves out there with the first chapter and I give a standing ovation to all.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chapter Two - New Voices Top 21

The link for my second chapter of The Not So Secret Seduction of the Surgeon is here.

My mentor ROCKS, M&B ROCKS, basically - EVERYBODY ROCKS

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Top 21 - M&B New Voices

I found out the news yesterday and I still can't comprehend it.  I made the cut to the top 21!!!!

It's fantastic news - and incredibly scary - the second chapter has to be just as good but I don't know how to write when I'm so blimmin' nervous.  PLUS the editors have judged my first chapter as being Flirty and Sassy - I don't know how I did that - what if I can't do it again?

Self doubt, much?

Thank goodness I have the guidance of Wendy S. Marcus, M&B published author extraordinaire who's already been a tremendous support. She's just as excited as I am!

I'm going back to writing now, procrastination moment over, thinking flirty, thinking sassy ... oh heck!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


This is a quick post to say I haven't fallen off the edge of the world ... I'm swamped by bulls.

Five hundred leased out - fifteen hundred to go.  Bring on Christmas ;)

On the writing front (because life still goes on), I'm taking a workshop for the RWNZ C2C regional meeting this weekend.  A workshop about 'Writing With Pace'.  Quite fitting considering the way my life is at the moment.

Happy writing everyone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Voices - First Take

I've entered!!!!  It's the first time for me (I didn't have the confidence, or the chapter, to enter last year).

My entry - The not so Secret Seduction of the Surgeon is here. Everyone is welcome to have a read and leave a comment or, just as important, vote on the rose vote-o-meter. Five roses would be lovely - thank you :)

A small comment on the format of this competition - it's welcoming and friendly - but completely intimidating to put a first chapter out in cyberspace for the public to vote on. Wow - good luck to everyone who's had the guts to enter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Strictly Single ... Take Two

I've gotten over the nerves and sent Sandii my Strictly Single Entry for 2011. 

I think I'm more nervous than last year because I now have "expectation" of what I can achieve, and doing it twice would be incredible.

I love my hero and heroine - the story is kick-ass - let's hope the judges like it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm Battling with the Medical

Yep - it's become a mission.

After feedback from Lucy Gilmour during conference I have been reworking my Medical ms to exclude my heroines best friend. Why? Because she was developing a more exciting voice than my heroine. Why? Because she has a book of her own to come and she obviously didn't feel like waiting patiently.
I'm battling.

The best friend was a pivotel role - now it's another 'bestie'; and he's male; and he's a little bit nuts (not in a good way).

Secret weapon to all this editing???
Yep, you betcha!
My notes from our RWNZ workshop with Molly O'Keefe.
I don't know why but Molly's particular brand of tools to add Tension and Conflict; and then ensure the characters had growth through each conflict, really resonated with me. Perhaps because the pie charts and lists weren't too mind boggling.

If you have a chance to do a workshop with Molly I absolutely recommend it. The bonus is her humour - it's definitely worth the price of a ticket :).

Also - I've tried to keep a track of my mean-ness level.  I have a bad habit of wanting to be nice to my heroines, and that is seriously boring. Hence:
She loses a student on a field trip and has to call emergency services (any teachers worst nightmare)
She injures herself
Everyone finds out she slept with the Hero on the first night (embarrassed - much!)
Hero has a girlfriend (not, but you know there's nothing like a bit of sabotage by a woman scorned, to add conflict)
Hero refuses to let her do what she's trained to do (this is the biggie for both of them)
Father wants her to shift home (she's 29!)
Volcano erupts (a little bit of kiwi realism :) )

Funnily enough, the first time I wrote this it was over a time period of under a month - hello? It kinda stretched the realism - therefore, it now has sentences like " the days passed..."

Happy writing everyone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

To Prologue or not to Prologue - Question, much?

Sue Grimshaw (who is lovely, and approachable, and a breath of fresh air) really threw the cat amongst the proverbial chickens when she advised us during a cold read at the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, that she like prologues.

An editor who likes prologues?

Yes, apparently Sue was serious and, to tell you the truth, I couldn't be happier because if there's something I love, as a reader, it's a well thought out prologue. One that makes me think I've been let-in on a seriously cool secret right from the beginning.

Of course, that doesn't mean I think we need a lot of prologues at the beginning of books and I don't think that's what Sue was saying.

My rule of thumb?  Nut out the pertinent information, drill it right down to the most important facts, then write a prologue that creates the feel and tone you want for your manuscript.


If you're having problems with it. If it doesn't flow or come out right,


admit that maybe you don't need a prologue - as all it is, is a lump of backstory - which may be interesting but not the best way to hook your readers (or an editor).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference

I'm taking a deep breath and blogging about conference.

The first couple of days were amazing and then Sunday, knowing how ill Sandra was, it's just a blur - except for a poignant song by Adele that was played at just the right time, a fantastic casual workshop with Lucy Gilmour, and a wonderful warm hearted workshop with Molly O'Keefe. Well done Suzanne Perazzini and Erin the Pocket-Rocket, for keeping us all going - you both deserve a medal.

So most of my recall is from the first couple of days.

I travelled to Auckland on Thursday night with Nicki Davidson as the first cold reads were 7am on Friday morning - and there's no way we were travelling up at 5am - waaaaaay tooooooo haaaaaard :)

Went to dinner at "The Stables" and had a mixture of French, Japanese and Italian for dinner with Iona Jones, Nicki Davidson and Sandii Manning. Kamy Chetty (aka the best critique partner EVA) arrived at our room after eight pm on Thursday. It's such a bonus to sleep room share with important people, cause I got my ribbons earlier than anyone else *vbg*

Nicki and I chose the cold read with Sue Grimshaw, Editor at Large for Random House. By luck this was the best start to the conference we could've possibly got. Sue asked for our names for our cold reads and, later in the weekend, requested from both of us. I now need to send Sue the first three chapters of Paranotte: Warlock, the first three chapters of Paranotte: Vampyr (better write it) and *sigh* synopsis for both. Nicki got a full request and a very excited editor raving about her writing - high five Nicki.  Kamy meanwhile bonded with Lucy Gilmour HM&B and it doesn't get any more exciting than that.

Then I loitered all day on Friday, had a cup of tea with Lucy Gilmour HM&B who requested the first three chapters of my medical - must've been something in the tea, and then a time-out chat with Maria V Snyder who is one of the loveliest visitors a conference could have. We had a chat about home life, children, allergies :) ... and during the weekend she very kindly signed her YA 'Inside out' for my daughter AmberJane.

The Sword workshop late on Friday was absolutely fantastic - from broadswords to rapiers to daggers - the guys knew their stuff and the information we gleaned on defence positions and "moving the feet" was invaluable for anyone writing historical or paranormal. I have to admit the photo op with 'Silver' later that night at the cocktail party was a hoot, especially when he started to do some Fabio poses with his long, blond hair.

Speaking of the cocktail party - Sandy Manning wowed me with her Prince which included electric guitar and Clare Scott was Paparazzi extraordinaire - and soooo realistic.  It was certainly a royal night with Kendra as a very sexy Queen of Hearts and Michelle de Rooy as a sensual bellydancer - sweet.

Saturday - Tess Gerritsen (supreme, riveting, wow), more Maria V. Snyder (seriously worth driving or flying miles to be at her workshops), and Molly O'Keefe (what a hoot! I loved it - and I'm looking for the credits to RWNZ in her next book as we brainstormed it with her).

I think I'm missing heaps of stuff but the brain is a little fuzzy. I do remember that Nicki and Jeanne Drake won an incredible amount of raffles between them. Nicki's I remember vividly because we had to pack it all into my little car for the trip home.

Before the awards evening we had the AGM - a huge thank you to Adele (Abby Gaines) for the fantastic amount of work she's done the last few years, as president. She had to leave before we could thank her properly and I'm hoping I'll be able to do just that, sometime soon.

I have taken on the role of Vice-President and look forward to my turn at 'giving back' over the next couple of years.

Awards night was brilliant. A little dress, not really appropriate for climbing stairs, but I did my best.  Congrats to Clendon Winner Rebecca Skrabl - who will have to come over at some time - 2nd place to our new President Iona Jones, and 3rd place to Michelle de Rooy who also won readers choice - yee ha! Huge thank you to Barbara and Peter Clendon, and to Francis Loo (who received a life membership).

I'd decided to wear some of my 50's dresses for the weekend - petticoats and all - so I think I stood out a little, lol. This was kinda on purpose because I wanted to make the most of the weekend, and force myself out of the hiding shell I have previously gotten into at conference where I mainly talked to people when I was selling raffles or doing a job - bet ya'all didn't know that. Also, they are seriously cool dresses that I otherwise don't get to wear - and a fantastic side effect was the "cushion" effect the petticoats had. Yayee for my hips and butt after three days of sitting down.

In all, the conference was one of the most exciting weekends, and one of the saddest, I've ever had. The ups and downs have left me a little shell shocked. I'm glad to say I'll be able to travel up to Auckland on Thursday to pay my respects to Sandra's family and to support our wonderful Auckland writers who've lost such a fantastic mate.

Hugs to everyone.

A few photos - play spotto :)

 Natalie, Yvonne and Lucy (masking it)
 Gracie and Kylie - mischief in the making
 Me and Nicki doing our Princess bit
 With Kamy, Silver and Louise
 Chilling with Susan, Yvonne, Kamy, Nalini, Me, Tess and Tessa.
Pre-Clendon drinks with Jenny and Nicki

(Great pre-party thanks Barbara and Peter - amazing Bellydancing routine to warm us up!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Such a sad time.

I was expecting today to blog about a fantastic New Zealand Romance Writers Conference - but right now I can only think of the sad news surrounding us.

Two wonderful Auckland romance authors passed away this weekend.

Norah Hansen-Hill - a wonderful, successful author who touched the hearts of many and sadly passed from us because of a long fought illness

and Sandra Hyatt (Hyde) - who was with us at the beginning of the conference, then fell suddenly ill and passed away last night surrounded by her family.

I send all my love and support to Norah and Sandra's family's. And to their close writing buddies in Auckland. This is an absolutely shocking and sad time. My heart goes out to you all.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Conference Week

It's conference week in New Zealand. Romance Writers of New Zealand get together in Auckland to celebrate our achievements for the year and partake of workshops and seminars -
with the odd bit of food and wine thrown in.

This is my berocca for the next twelve months. I get energised and re-creative-ised; the following ten months are the most productive with the last two a count down to conference again.

It's my time - to spend three full-on days with my critique partner, amazing romance authors and fantastic friends from around New Zealand and Australia.

Bring It On!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hol-mogoly Cow - I'm a blog intervieweeeeee!

Kylie Griffin has me featured over on her blog today. Weird!

Welcome to everyone visiting via Kylie's invitation.

Further background info - I'm a thirty-nine-and-three-quarters mother of two and step-mother of one. My eldest daughter is Aspergers and she definitely gets it from me (I absolutely DO NOT think in a very neuro-typical way and my social skills can dip into the inept end of the scale).

My heroines tend to be fiesty (my husband would probably say this is from me too) and my hero's are tough with a touch of honesty and integrity - thank the heavens.

I love being a member of the Romance Writers of New Zealand where I've met wonderful people like Kylie who - wonders upon wonders - speak my language.

I'm a member of the C2C chapter (central north island) where we have a number of accomplished authors and newby writers. Everyone gets support to the level they require and the meetings are fun and typically lively - especially when we're talking the technicalities of sensual scenes.

Thank you, Kylie, for the interview spot - and I hope you all enjoy your visit.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Homework Post the Post

If there's one thing I hate about starting a new manuscript - it's the Homework.

LOL - too much information!

I have fairies coming out my ears (oooh, that's actually a good idea, wait - a - minute - while - I - write - that - down (with a pen that doesn't run out of ink))

I need to type at about 1000 words per minute to keep up with the story in my head - and it's getting complicated. Frustrating much.

Gotta admit though - I'm probably more on edge because I'm waiting for the announcement of the finalists for the Clendon and the RWNZ First Impressions contests. I absolutely can't wait to meet Jessica Faust at the conference, and if I can win ten minutes with her I'd be over the moon.

Speaking of moons - and therefore shapeshifters - I'm about to take a break and pick up Nalini Singh's latest "Kiss of Snow" - just to get a different tone in my head for a while. I've been waiting for this romance - I can't wait to see how Nalini handles the age gap. Definitely a must read.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Doing the Homework

I have to admit - one of the biggest thrills I get out of starting a new manuscript is the 'homework' that needs to be done to ensure the details are right.

For some reason my gladiator got railroaded by fairies and I'm now deep in the Irish Sidhe sorting out kings and warriors and who belongs in a fairy court. Gotta say Irish history and fairytales make for facinating reading.  I always start at Wiki and Google then surf from there.

So far my world building is at the stage of figuring out what details are important to the story; and what details I can gloss over.  Detail affects pace. Too much at the beginning and a reader will throw in the towel at chapter two.  Too much later on and a reader will want to curse me for stopping her in the middle of a chase to explain why the colour yellow on my heroines dress aides her running skills (it doesn't btw - I just made that up as an example :-)  ).

Also - this is the first time I've had a full-on fairy book (or two) stuck in my head.  I'm not sure why it's fairies - except, I love the idea that fairies can't lie, which means I have to write some pretty clever dialogue for my bad guys. (Gives me the happy-shivers just thinking about it.)

Happy writing - Happy reading.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Pottermore???  Youtube teaser??? What is she up to now?  Author marketing at its best!!

(BTW: The Youtube page is a teaser extra-ordinaire! - try it out, you can't subscribe (unless you go down the bottom) the 'likes' number is static, etc etc etc - it's a teaser within a teaser - probably a code (because that's what JKR does) - this brain teaser will keep the population hooked for the next five days.)

Romance under fire

Is this inspiration for a Romance Writer? - you can bet your sweet Canuck it is.

This guy - an Australian...who knew they could be that heroic? (Kylie you don't need to answer that) - kissed his girlfriend as he comforted her after she got caught up in the Canadian riots.

It's a moment captured in time - it's not sexual - he is absolutely, my hero!

Photojournalist Richard Lam took the photo and it's gone viral. Girl - Canadian, Boy - Autralian. Gotta love the big boost the two countries have got for their international relations. *sigh*

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chasing Bulls, Second Place and Nailing the Synopsis

It's a mouthfull of a heading - I know - but it's been a very hectic two weeks!

Bull Leasing has started with a handful of winter bulls doing the rounds for the 'early' ladies. I have to admit that they're big brutes and drafting in the yards is fairly intimidating. I had a go at drafting two bulls myself, which went well (I'm still alive), though standing still while they charge towards you is not my natural reaction to a threat! (cut and run would be more like it)

No words written - just a handful of edited pages on two manuscripts. The RWNZ is running three pitch competitions for the August conference and I intend to enter all of them. Jessica Faust is the guest agent and  I'd love a face to face. She requested a partial from me this year; it wasn't successful but she's a top agent I'd like to work with - so I'll bother her with another manuscript and see if that's more to her liking :)

The results of the Chapter Bookshop Short Story arrived last night and I placed SECOND. 
Woop Woop!

Very stoked with the placing - my little mouse story was fun to write and I'm glad it hit the right note with the editor of Womans Day. Now I'll get it off to the magazines and see if I can get a wee sale.  It's a definite boost to the slightly tired writing muscle.

As a small note - we were given the option to utilise the feedback from first-round judges and then forward a re-edited manuscript to the final judge if we wished. I did this. The feedback was brilliant (and very similar from all three judges). It critiqued the weaknesses in the story really well. I put forward a tighter manuscript which took me from sixth equal in the first round, to second place in the finals. Well worth taking on board the feedback. Yayee first round judges!

Also, I received my results from the Great Beginnings competition last night. I didn't make the final cut but again the feedback has proved invaluable. It was the synopsis that let it down. With no more than 500 words to play with I didn't convince the judges of the "conflict" between my protagonists. I received top marks for my writing (at least my voice didn't get lost in the change to a medical genre) but defining the conflict of my story is a weakness - excellent - a skill I can now work on improving.

All in all - Life's Good!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Short Story Success

What a great week!

Started off by receiving notification that I've finaled in the Chapters Short Story competition. Yee ha!

 It included fantastic feedback from the judges which I used to tweek the manuscript before I sent it for the final judging. Now it's fingers and toes crossed.

Competitions are a fantastic resource for writers. Not only do they get you on the right desk if you final, but they provide invaluable critiques.

To bring me back to earth I've spent my first few days with the bulls - and I love it. I'm going to enjoy the new challenge. We went to the sales yards yesterday - cattle everywhere. It's a real social occasion for farmers, they come to town for the livestock auctions and a bit of a food shop - I could imagine a few romance stories here. A couple of characters jumped into my head straight away - crikey, what market would a bull farmer romance fit into - Harlequin Category?

I've managed 13,000 words this week, plus editing - the gladiator is taking shape.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Holiday is almost over...

Wow - time is spinning past me as fast as my new clothes dryer (yes, I have sat down and watched a cycle of my fabulous new machine. Just in time for winter.)

The girls are back at school on Monday and I start day one of my new life...

Part-time Bull Farmer  /  Part-time Writer!!

Did I just say that out loud to a back yard full of chickens? You bet your dime-store romance I did. Sure, they didn't react much but their clucking is sending out very positive energy waves.

I've done the planning and the research and have a number of projects to get through over the next six months. New full paranormal - gladiators are in my head and they won't shuddup - and a re-work of one of my earlier shapeshifter novella's that I wrote with 'Nocturne Bites' in mind and now feel a full novel coming along. It's a favourite of mine. The first time I wrote edgier paranormal and didn't treat my heroine so nicely (thanks to my critique partner).

Further plans are to write two novella's a month - crafted towards e-publishers - as a way to keep the 'pingas' ticking over.

Exciting, exciting, exciting. Now, the only thing I need to do is limit my time on blogs/facebook/email and make damn sure I churn out at least 3000 words a day. Piece of easter cake, anyone?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

DH has read the manuscript

Yes, that's right, my darling, the man of my heart, has read the complete paranormal manuscript.

This is a man who prefers to ride a bike, hike a trail, dance competitively and generally keep our family functioning properly - rather than read a book.

And the feedback from this wonderful, super-sexy guy  - "it's actually good".

"Wow" you say!
"Wow" I agree with you!

This simple but straight-up comment is incredibly important to me because, as stated above, DH keeps our family functioning. Particularly when I'm locked in my closet writing and I don't realise it's time to eat, or time to sleep, or time to dance. He keeps me on track while my mind is lost in a whole other world...

and if he knows it's worth it, if he knows "it's actually good"...

then I don't feel so guilty about the "home" work my writing also means for him. We're in it together - the writing is a partnership - and he likes my story :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Location Location Location

Help! I have a dilemma - and I'm not sure what to do.

I've had feedback from two agents that my writing is great, but the book might be a difficult sell in the US market - because it's set in London. Now I'm not sure what to do, as I don't want to hound these agents with emails saying "I CAN CHANGE!" (I'd feel like a stalking girlfriend.)

I can happily swap the locations to New York and Canada (sans Scotland) - Cleopatra's needle has a sister in central park, New York City has an underground and large river. Canada can get just as cold as Scotland (very important) and I already have Hawaii as the hot spot (though it's not specifically named in book one of the series).

Do I make this change - does a sale hinge on it?

Do I contact the agents/editor who presently have the partial/full and let them know I'm happy to make the change if they feel it's required?

Or do I wait and see if they come back wanting to work with me first - then I find out if the change is needed?

RWNZ members I need your advice!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Picking up the Pen

In November 2007 some 'things' happened in my life that reminded me

1.  Life is short
2.  Life is what you make it

With this in mind, I picked up a pen.

I'd always wanted to write - and never had. Why? Because I thought authors were pretty amazing people who oozed creativity and were somehow born with a quill in their hand. I had an inferiority complex (which occasionally still knocks the feet out from under my confidence) and never gave it a try.

It took a brief moment in time, when my life was suspended due to illness, and I thought "what the hell, there's only one way to find out if I can write". As the God Nike said - Just Do It.

The way you pick up the pen is your own business. I personally surfed the Internet and found Romance Writers of New Zealand. A number of competitions were advertised on their website - the Clendon Award aka Finish the Damn Book (deadline for entry February) and the Chapters Bookshop Short Story Competition (deadline for entry March).

Motivation found, I sat down and wrote my first 55,000 word manuscript. A Mills and Boon 'Sweet' set in New Zealand. I wrote it in one month  - I guess you could say 'I was on a mission'.

At this stage I hadn't had the confidence to venture along to a local area meeting of RWNZ so I sent the manuscript into the Clendon Awards with the best edit I could - namely a spell check :). Thank you to Barbara Clendon for the wonderful critique (I can't believe she persevered through the entire, overly descriptive text - a great story/very slow pace).

I then went to the February meeting of RWNZ, Waikato/BOP group, and found out what a real edit was (lol - too late to get my manuscript back). I talked with my new found, like minded, friends about my intention to enter the Chapters Short Story and received amazing support for the idea, including offers of critiques. With the knowledge that I was no longer going it alone I wrote my short story. Tui Feathers. I got it critiqued and found out about the words WAS and HAD and all the 'ing' mistakes that make great ideas weak on paper. Annoyingly these lovely ladies didn't re-write the story for me. They only told me the 'rules' that I naively broke. It improved my writing immeasurably within the first six months. The critiqued short story Tui Feathers won the Chapters Bookshop Short Story Comp and published in the Womans Day Magazine in 2008. Success.

I'm not a particularly amazing person and I don't think I absolutely ooze creativity.

I CAN write - because I picked up the pen.

I CAN be a successful author - because I keep picking up the pen.

My intention is to never put it down.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How does that work?

Okay - so I'm posing a question that I'd really like your opinion on.

Devastation has hit many places in the world so far this century. Devastation on a scale that's been seen before, but perhaps not so much at once (or am I too young to understand how much the wars last century devastated in a similar way?).

Places have been irrevocably lost - or are irreversibly changed - and yet in contemporary books they're still there. In fact, in many thousands of books, thanks to the talent of the writers, they're alive and thriving, vivid and exciting places, not touched by the horror - or even the inkling of horror - that's in their future.

How does that work for a reader who knows better? Can the reader slip into the world of a book - even though there's the fresh knowledge that a place no longer exists, and therefore realism can't be pretended?

Is that where historical and sci-fi/paranormal/steam punk have a much longer shelf life - because today's reality is already suspended?

What is the affect on those who write contemporary?

The disaster in Japan is on a scale of terrible that I find difficult to comprehend. I'm not sure how it would affect me if I was to sit down and read a beautiful romance, sited in Miyagi.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake

My heart breaks for Japan

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I'm sitting in my car outside Brownies - waiting to be allowed in (*giggle* my nine year old thinks she has  power) - and am mulling over a lovely conversation I had with one of our librarians this afternoon.  They're a cheerful lot (no grumps at all) and I tend to get asked "have you heard yet?" the minute I walk in the door.

Of course, I haven't heard yet - it's only been a few weeks - but I tell her I'm sure it'll be soon.  Then she asked me "what if they like it but don't."
My expression must have shown a little confusion because she went on to elaborate.
"What if they want changes - like - a whole chapter or character." (We've previously had indepth discussions about characters-we-hate so I knew what she meant).
I very quickly said "not a problem, I write to sell."
then she asked "but isn't that sacrilege? It's your baby."

The Highschool students demand attention before we can get into the topic but it made me think. So often, that's how readers/fans/followers react when a change is made they don't like. When an author takes their character on a tangent the fan thinks is plain WRONG - and then the word sacrilege comes into play.


I think that the majority of authors (at least the ones I listen to at RWNZ) WRITE to sell. They may love something the editor hates, but in the end - both parties do what's best for the book - to MAKE it sell. Sacrilege possibly needs to stay in the domain of the readers/fans/followers - those that LOVE or HATE. Authors, in the real world, who want to make a real GO of it - don't have that luxury.

I love my real world - so I'm flexible.

Down to business

I haven't been writing this week - aaaargh!

My whole body feels ting-ly - there's an itch in my writing brain that I can't scratch.

Life needs attention (for example, right now I'm at the Library with Daughter One, and pretty soon I'll be at Brownies with Daughter Two). Then dance training tonight because junior nationals is only five weeks away (I'm trying not to be a panicked mother but I haven't finished making the dresses yet), training again tomorrow night, full day competition on Saturday, judges workshop on Sunday...the list goes on.

So - my body tingles - and it'll just have to keep right on tingling-aling-aling until I get through this month.

Then...the real news...I'm finishing full-time work (with some pangs because I love my job) and I take on the wonderful world of part-time writer and part-time BULL farmer-ish thing-ee position-ee. Very, very excited - I'll be sending wonderfully big, strapping males out to service the girls of New Zealand (cows that is, in case you're not following me). I don't think it'll be grist for my books - not necessarily very romantic - but a good challenge to keep the brain well and truly ticking over.

Which reminds me, I need to go and buy some gumboots.  I wonder if they come glittered, or designed with music notes/buffy monograms...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand

My heart aches and tears slide down my cheeks. From the minute it happened I knew about it thanks to streaming Internet at work, and I'm a whole other Island away. Scrambling for my phone - pushing the buttons to reach my brother's recorded voice. Try again, don't miss-dial. This time there's a no-connection tone. Try again and again until thirty minutes later he answers (thank God!).

He says he's fine. He says he's talked with Hayley and she's fine. (I've now seen pictures of the building Hayley was in - it doesn't exist anymore - she made it out alive but fine is probably not the right word, though my brother certainly didn't know it in that first half hour.)

"Shit" he says, "that one put me on my arse."
I say, "Shaun, it's a bad one, buildings are down, the Cathedral's down."
"What's  down?"
"The Cathedral. It's bad, you can't go centre city. I love you. Take care. It's bad."

We say goodbye because we know the phone lines will be overloaded and I only needed to hear his voice. I say I'll contact all the family (mum, dad, sisters, friends) and let them know he's fine. I'm watching the pictures on TV in the office lunchroom and I can't believe what I'm seeing. The reporters haven't said anything about death yet, but I know Christchurch at lunchtime - there are people everywhere, there must have been people in the Cathedral spire, there must have been people walking on the sidewalk...and now they must be under the rubble. Haven't even seen the CTV building yet. This is bad.

Everyone outside of Christchurch knew the scale of the disaster before most Cantabrians knew. And only those in the central business district knew it for real - because pictures on TV don't really tell the story of the dust, the smell, the hysteria and the surreal experience of walking down streets that no longer exist. Streets that echo loss and destruction with each quick footstep. Quick because - what if another one hits and more comes down - get out, get out fast.

Now, every once in a while.
When I stop.
I cry.

I cry for the lifetimes that will no longer be lived. I cry for the lifetimes that are irrevocably changed, and I cry because a beautiful city, full of beautiful people, has fractured.

It'll never be the same fun loving, carefree city again because, like a child losing a close family member for the first time, there will always be the knowledge - that this life is more fragile than we like to admit - and you can't turn back time to unlearn that knowledge.

Cantabrians will be looking through new, sad eyes - and I mourn the loss of the rose tinted glasses that are lying broken, somewhere in the rubble of Cashel Street.

I send cyber hugs, texts of love, thoughts of strength - and feel impotent because it isn't even close to enough.

Friday, February 18, 2011

And now for something a little different...

A friend in need...

Callum, a Director friend of mine, had a dilemma. He needed to get together a pitch for NZonAir - three films. This required a one-page synopsis each and methodology around filming. Well, the methodology paper was all his to do, but the synopsis and story brainstorming that went with it - bring it on!

Talk about out-of-my-comfort-zone and lovin' it!

Idea's bounced around the room. High-fives were thrown (and sometimes met) when the ideas got very clever. Shouts of jubilation when a satisfactory 'fade out to credits' was reached (movie speak for the last shot - you probably know that).

All-in-all a very good time and definite energizer.

Gotta love the movies

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Competition Time

It's February, my ms is finished and off to Publisher/Agent, and I now need to plan what competitions I'll enter this year.

I haven't entered many in the past and I think this needs to change - because my success rate is 75%!!
 I need to ramp my writing up.  Deadlines make for the best motivation and competition deadlines are non-negotiable (chiseled in stone), so they motivate big time.

RWNZ Clendon, Strictly Single and Romantic Short Story are a must this year. (The one and only Romantic Short Story I entered was in 2008 - and I won - so surely I should enter it again - where has that thing called confidence gone?)

Also looking at Valarie Parv and various RWA Chapter competitions to practice tight synopsis and first pages writing.

The hook, it's all about the hook. This mantra is to be repeated when I wake and when I go to sleep.

Speaking of mantra's I also often repeat to myself 

"Thou shalt not write a boring book, thou shalt not write a boring book..."

I think it works...

Agent Request

Received partial request from Laura Bradley Literary Agency.  First 30 pages and full synopsis.

Sent - again, pass the popcorn.

I have my fingers and toes crossed but, to be honest, it's all about the book - if it's good, it'll sell.

Done and Dusted

Full request has now been sent to Berkley - pass the popcorn, it's a waiting game.

(feel good though, feel really, really, really good

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Strictly Single - First Place

Oh Wow! I've won the RWNZ Strictly Single - absolutely brilliant.

I received a phone call from Sandii (competition coordinater in L.A.) on Thursday and the even bigger news:
I GOT A FULL REQUEST from the Editor Judge (Berkley Publishing, N.Y.).

As I've spent the summer break polishing my manuscript - which lead to a total revision of the last chapters - I'm now frantically reviewing my changes before I send them off.

Exciting times :-)