Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tour cancelled

The Thursday tour is cancelled this week, folk, as I bring you some sad news. Doddery Old Fart of Rest Area 300m died yesterday. It seems only a couple of weeks ago that I introduced you all to him and I'm sure his images and unusual humour are going to be missed.

I never met Doddery in person but I felt as if I knew him. He seemed to represent something a little bit old fashioned, something that you don't find so often. I'm going to miss him.

There's a lesson here, guys. Let's not get so caught up in what were doing that we forget the important things. I'm know I'm as guilty as anyone of that at the moment.

My husband has gone off fishing tonight and I left the computer for just long enough to give him a quick kiss goodbye and then back to work on the website.

And what does it all really matter?

People, and our relationships with them, are the only thing that really matter.

Take care, my fellow bloggers. Look both ways before you cross the street.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who is Saffron Delaney?

That's the question that a number of people have asked me so I decided to track down the answer.

As many of you know, the cover of Ripples on the Lake was designed by Natalie Winter of the HarperCollins Design Studio in Australia. Where, I asked her, did she find Saffron Delaney?

Is she, I ask, a budding young model looking to break in to the cut throat world of the cat walk?

I look at the cover as I wait for Natalie's reply and think not. Those eyes have seen too much.

Is she a penniless student trying to earn enough - without taking her clothes off - to get through university?

No. I shake my head.

Is she a mysterious stranger that Natalie chanced upon one dark rain lashed night? Nothing but a fleeting glimpse of a pale intense face before she was gone, lost forever in the glistening wet city streets?

My head nods without conscious thought. This face has been searched for, brooded upon, desired. I wave Natalie's reply away. I have my answer.

I see Saffron Delaney running down the street, blind to the stranger on the sidewalk who spins and stares, mesmerized by the face she had just seen - a face that one day she would recreate when she opened a book and read the words "Saffron Delaney flew down the deserted, darkened pavement ..."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Writing behind closed doors

I've always been impressed by writers such as JK Rowling or DH Lawrence who managed to do so much of their writing in public.

The men in little white coats would lock me away within moments if I dared try such a thing!

Obviously JK Rowling does not contort herself as she writes. I on the other hand, can hardly get a sentence down without my face and body expressing each emotion and movement.

I wince and double up, hands clutching at my stomach, as the knife slips between the ribs. A page later and my lips tremble and pucker as he whispers in her ear. "You bastard!" the baddie sneers and suddenly my lips are curling in disdain.

Then there are the actions to be authenticated. How exactly does one clamber through a window? Which leg goes where? What are the arms doing?

I'm relieved I don't write romance as I believe romance writers sometimes get their characters into a dreadful pickle. You know the thing - he strokes her golden hair with one hand, traces the contour of her neck with his other hand, and tweaks her left nip... Sheesh! Hang on a minute, I've created an octopus! How many hands has this guy got? (There is a smidge of romance in Ripples in the Lake but not enough for me to tie my characters in anatomically impossible knots!)

And of course I cry. Right through all the weepie bits, I'm a-sobbing and a-typing as fast as I can. The emotionally charged scenes still reduce me to tears, even after countless re-reads.

So whilst JK Rowling can pen her masterpieces in a public cafe, I am reduced to writing behind closed doors! Ah well, at least I can stay in my pyjamas.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Link sharing

Talia, over at NZ Reality TV sent me a link that I felt I needed to share. There's a wealth of info in it and more links down in the comments that also look useful.

If you're battling to get the search engines to discover a new site, or just looking for more exposure, check out Entrepreneurs Journey .

And any kiwi readers that also enjoy the gossip and glamour of reality television should check out Talia's site. I'm not into these Big Brother shows - in fact I think there is something vaguely disturbing about them - but I drool over Dancing With the Stars each week. If you've always wanted to get involved in a celebrity focused site, this is your opportunity. Talia's hiring! You don't get paid but you might get to fondle a hunk!

What's that, Talia? Oh, sorry, you don't get to fondle the hunks. Miss Prozac has already claimed that position! Exposure and experience is what you get. Check it out with Talia.

So I'll be immersing myself in the Entrepreneurs Journey link tomorrow because it does seem prudent to try and get the search engines to at least know how to spell my name before the book comes out! Some of them still have a tendency to suggest alternative spellings to me as if really they'd rather I was someone else!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Broken toys

My technorati toy is not working as it should. It has given my profile to about a dozen other Taupo tagged blogs. I'm sure the Boy Scouts and the Fishing Guides will be delighted to know they are now me! Hopefully it is just a temporary spat between my computer and technorati and not showing up everywhere.

But I hate it when this happens! I need my toys.

Some of you will remember when I started blogging, I was out on the cold airless edge of the blogosphere somewhere in the 3 millions. Six weeks later I have clawed my way into 398,711 position.

I have no idea why I find this figure so riveting. I have a fairly clear idea about what I hope to achieve with the blog and I know it's never going to be one of those top one thousand blogs. The personal contact feels important - that, and my choice of subject matter will automatically limit how high the blog goes.

That doesn't matter anymore because I'm enjoying the experience so much. It started off as one of those "think I'll give this a go" things and has turned into a labour of love.

But regardless of knowing my blog has a built-in ceiling, those rating figures have a siren call for me. So somebody somewhere better fix my toy real soon!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sad time in Taupo

I'm feeling subdued tonight. Boy racers in Taupo have been hospitalised after a devastating car crash. Two sixteen year old are seriously injured, other's with a range of less serious injuries.

Only a week ago in another town, the "starter" at one of these boy racer events was killed. I'm sure it happens all over but we seem to have a real problem with it in New Zealand at the moment.

I don't normally blog on the "as it happens" local news but this has affected me. I suppose because it happened on the exact same hill that I used for an exciting car chase in the book. Somehow that makes me feel guilty.

Yesterday I was dragging everyone round my "Interesting Kiwi Links". I wanted to show you everything that is good about Taupo and New Zealand. Tonight, two sixteen year olds, a boy and a girl, are fighting for their lives. It just seems wrong, somehow.

I'll be thinking of all those involved in this senseless tragedy tonight.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Thursday Tour

And I haven't found a single new link for you! I heard that cheer from the back of the bus!

Tell you what we'll do. All of us "old hands" will just hang around the blog here scoffing cream filled apple donuts and chatting, and any "newbies" can scoot over to the "Interesting Kiwi Sites" and check them out.

That's you, sunshine. Over there - to the right - now look down a little - yep, you've got it. Off you go, link forth and enjoy! We'll all be here when you get back.

Now, over at Dawno's blog I saw an interesting widget called MyBlogLog. Regulars here know that I am fixated on the technology involved with blogs - the stat counters and such like.

Evidently MyBlogLog can check which links on your site are being used. Do you see where I'm heading with this? Huh?

That's right! When I do the Thursday Tour I'll know if you guys are getting off the bus and checking the sites or whether you hunkered down in your seat hoping I won't see you! I have noticed that one or two of you are showing a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

Ah, the newbies return. Did you enjoy Mike Hudson's photos? Yes? And I bet you were cracking up over some of Doddery's images? That was him at Rest Area 300m. See the one of the body art on the naked woman? Heh, heh, that got one or two of them sprinting back!

Did all the fishermen check out the trout? We have the best and biggest trout in the world swimming in Lake Taupo.

The Wandering Scotsman is in Japan now and I know I'm supposed to be showing you NZ, and the Taupo area in particular, but I really did have to let you see the Snow monkeys. Cute huh?

Well, if everyone has returned from the tour, pull your chair up closer to the fire, have a gingernut - sorry, the donuts have all gone, and tell me all about yourself.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ripples on the Lake a "prime read"

Latest news from HarperCollinsNZ is that Ripples on the Lake is being promoted to booksellers as a "Prime Read". I have absolutely no idea what this means but it sure has a lovely ring to it.

Just over three weeks to go before release and it sounds as if all the major chains have taken it. And I believe some of the airport stores. That is just so exciting! People will be able to read my book whilst they're travelling.

I believe I will be uploading the website next week. (Do I say that each week?) I've run it through WC3's validator and it is valid for XHTML1 transitional now - all except for one tiny little bit of code that just won't play ball. I may have to change that - it's only a couple of words - but most frustrating.

Sounds as if there might be a few more nice reviews coming in. The whole thing is such a blast. I wish I'd started writing when I was a youngster. I'm going to be a kiwi Grandma Moses! (Not really - not quite!)

I'm far too excited to concentrate on a new story. I know I should be pushing on with cleaning up a crappy first draft that is stowed under the desk but I can't.

Time enough for that later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Anyone for baked bean tin lifting?

Not long after I started blogging I recall a discussion about what search fields people were finding you under. Well, at the time, no one was looking for me under any terms.

But now, I'm being searched out avidly. Well - sort of avidly. Oh, okay then, Little Miss Honesty Jane never-told-a-lie-in-her-life, once or twice!

There's the usual, of course, my name, name of book, name of character, but then there's the person searching for info on Irish setters who discovered my post "On men and dogs". I'm sure I didn't mention Irish setters.

And would whoever was searching for the info on "does lifting cans of baked beans help" like to step forward? I'd like to meet you! You'll recall that was in the post on toning my arms. I wonder if my post helped them at all.

People have come via me in their search for info on our favourite Canadian actress Adrienne Kress, and Elaine Veits who had the stroke just immediately before she had to tour with her latest book. My recent post on Kim Wilkins has also shown up in a search already.

The Australian hunter seeking out "pig hunting" was also led to "On dogs and men" and probably left disappointed with the lack of action.

And my comments probably weren't much help to the person seeking info on "good and bad manners in New Zealand" when they arrived at my "Good luck, bad luck" post.

What a crazy tangled world the Google search field is.

What are your all-time winners?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Are you a shameless perennial guest?

Crabby McSlacker one of the regular posters here came up with an interesting concept in the Absolute Write Forum. What surprised me was how negatively some folk saw it.

Sounded brilliant to me!

How would you feel about someone who visited your blog, commented in a bright and interesting manner, but didn't have a blog themselves? The idea being that someone could click onto their profile and see that they'd written a book or be whisked off to their website. A number of the commentators at AW saw this as shameless self promotion and said they would delete the person's comments.

Why? If they add interesting or witty comment to your blog?

I'm sure I'm not the only person here who has visited a blog and sat staring at the words desperately trying to think of one single thing to say that was more inspired than "Great post!". Sometimes you just don't connect. But if you've visited my blog and commented then I will visit yours and comment - however uninteresting your subject matter might be.

And please don't all yell at me! You know you've been down this road. I'm just being honest. One person's fascinating post is another person's yawn of the year.

So the homeless blogger adds to my content and I never have to visit them - and I give them an opportunity to discreetly self promote. Sounds great!

So if you've decided to put your time into being the perennial guest and never the host, then welcome to my humble blog. Come on in. Sit yourself down. Tea? Coffee? Another biscuit?

It's always good to see you.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kim Wilkins - Queen of the dark fantasy

I can't spend long with you tonight. I have to practise my signature!

I am (I pause dramatically for the drumroll) about to sign a copy of my book and send it off to Australian author Kim Wilkins.

You don't mean ... (I hear you gasp!)

Yes, I do! That Kim Wilkins! The one that wrote Giants of the Frost and Rosa and the Veil of Gold and half a dozen other dark fantasy novels.

The whole experience has an Alice-in-Wonderlandish feel to it. Me signing a book for her!

When HarperCollins asked for suggestions for blurbs, I nervously contacted Kim to ask if she would read Ripples on the Lake and possibly provide a quote - and she said "yes".

It might sound silly but getting that email was almost as exciting as being told that Ripples on the Lake had been accepted for publication. I sat in front of my computer, mouth gaping open, staring at the screen, thinking "this is from Kim Wilkins"! I remember glancing over at the row of her books sitting on my book shelf - as if I might spot her sitting there beside them, swinging her legs and grinning at me.

So thank you, Kim, for being so pleasant and agreeable to a no-doubt burbling with admiration newbie. Your kindness is something that I won't forget. I live in the hope that one day someone will call me "New Zealand's answer to Kim Wilkins", and so to have someone of your talent not only read my book but say something nice - sheesh! - I start rambling incoherently each time I think about it.

And to top it all off, Kim has family associations with Taupo! How perfect is that!

So you'll excuse me if I dash off now. Have to get this signature right!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Thursday Tour - on Friday

Yesterday was supposed to be the Thursday tour but it didn't happen. For the first part of the day I was locked out of my blog, and then I felt the need to explain what happened. So we'll have the Thursday tour now. For many of you, of course, it is Thursday today.

And for those of you who haven't the faintest idea what I'm talking about, each Thursday I take you on a guided tour around my "Interesting Kiwi Sites" links over on your right.

I discovered another one of Mike Hudson's photos that you simply must look at. If you've ever considered entering the New Zealand Ironman this photo will show you just what you're missing out on. Isn't it fabulous.

What do you mean "you don't know". Get over there to the right, click on the damn link, be amazed, and then come back to me! This is supposed to be a tour. How can I show you stuff if you won't get off the bus!

Another new link is Ben Thomas' recount of the Tongariro crossing. Now Ben tackles his touring a little more vigorously than some but if that's the way you like it, you'll find a read back through some of his posts well worth it. Photos too for the folk who only look at the pictures!

New readers might not yet have discovered the quirky images of Rest Area 300m who was one of my first finds. You're going to love his latest posting (or it might not be his latest by the time you get here). Whatever! Just flick back. Something will take your fancy, I can promise you that.

Darren, The Wandering Scotsman, has now left New Zealand. I shall probably link up just to his kiwi posts but he's been all over. You can spend hours reading about his journeys through a dozen different countries. Again, lots of good images.

That's probably about as much excitement as you can stand in one post.

Everyone off the bus!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Saffron Delaney hijacked my blog

Yep, that gorgeous blonde on the cover of my book has just hijacked the blog! Sheesh! I always knew she was going to be trouble.

For those of you who haven't been hanging on my every word over the last twenty-four hours (there are some, I believe) I managed to "lock" myself out of my own blog.

I shall give a few details because I'm not the first person to do it - no names mentioned Talia and Crabby - so that the rest of you can look like computer professionals when you hear of someone else in this predicament.

I was registering two gmail accounts with Google; one for me and one for Saffron Delaney, both to be associated with the new website. Somewhere in that process Google tempts you with a delete old email address option and for some reason that sounded like a good idea - I think I was struggling to get Saffron's account registered and thought that might help. Well it did - but when I returned to the blog, I couldn't get in!

For the last twenty-four hours I've been hanging around on the back porch of my blog like a stray dog.

Some wonderful, handsome, witty, sexy (choose your own adjective you fabulous person) called Danish from Blogger Tech Help came up with the solution. So suggest to the next dingbat that you hear of doing this to try logging in with every email account they have, even the ones with fictitious names!

So I guess Saffron Delaney and I are sharing the blog now.

That's fine - so long as I get to do all the talking!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm not here

Well - I am, but only because I raced in for just long enough to tell you that I won't be here!

No, I haven't won the lotto. No, I am not being whisked off by some gorgeous hunk.

I have to get the website finished so that you can see the cover bigger than postage stamp size. I've been working on it all day - my head is reeling with codes for this and tags for that, but it is slowly coming together. Another few days at most - I think!

My desk is submerged in printouts of the HTML Goodies tutorials, the keyboard is jamming up with biscuit crumbs and I think I've linked myself onto another planet.

Put the kettle on and chat amongst yourselves. I really do have to run.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Benjamin tagged me

If you absolutely do not want to hear eight random facts about me, and I wouldn't blame you in the slightest, you're allowed to wander off, take a nap under the potted cabbage tree, or whatever.

The rules of this meme appear to be;

Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged write their own blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules.
At the end choose 8 people to get tagged and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.

Eight Random Facts About Me

  1. I can not sing.

  2. My favourite foods are sweet and sour pork and fried rice, and almost any sort of desert.

  3. I once went to bed with one boot on because I couldn't get the laces undone - and yes, I might have had a tiny amount to drink.

  4. The beautiful blond on the cover of my book is not me!

  5. If I could only have one vegetable for the rest of my life, I would choose the potato

  6. I've trimmed a sheep's pooy bottom with scissors.

  7. I'm suspiciously good at lying.

  8. Every novel I've written (both published and unpublished) has had a red Mini in it. Yes I am quite fond of them , but no, I don't have one at the moment.

As usual, I won't tag anyone. I'll throw the tags in the air so if you want one, jump high, feel free to elbow others contestants in their most reachable vital spot, and claim your tag.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fashion at the pump

I've worked at the gas station part-time for about a year now and in that time probably about a dozen women have arrived in their night attire.

This puzzles me.

Do they think they look sex and desirable?

In candlewick dressing gown and hair looking like an electrocuted cat?

Usually there is a man in the passenger seat. I assume that the husband/son/father/brother/lover has lost his license and is demanding "take me somewhere, woman" and there is insufficient petrol in the car. I can understand that.

What I don't understand is why the woman doesn't pull on a pair of trousers and tuck her nightie into that - grab a jacket and no one would suspect that five minutes earlier she'd been in bed.

We're a small community. Perhaps they feel it doesn't matter. And, I suppose in the grand overall scheme of things it doesn't, but I can't help wincing slightly as the car door opens and a woman clambers out in a candlewick dressing gown, striped pyjamas sticking out below and fluffy 'animal' slippers on her feet, and wonder what the passing tourists think.

I've never had a man turn up at the gas station in his pjs, bare chested and brazen.

But I live in hope!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Good news, bad news

I've won a Thinking Blogger award. The garage I work for has been broken into.

This means I have a deep and unique mind. This means I may not have any place to work soon.

The world applauds me. The world doesn't give a stuff.

Fame and fortune now await me. Tomorrow I starve.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

And now, if you'll all look out the window on your right

... you'll see my list of interesting kiwi links. You have all been browsing through it, I hope. There will be questions, you know.

Let me introduce you to some of the new links. Check out Mike Hudson's photograph of Mount Tauhara. What I would have given to have seen Mike's shot before I wrote the cemetery scene in Ripples. The photo is so full of brooding atmosphere, and you can see the mountain from the cemetery. I'd love to go back and rewrite that scene now.

And I've found another another traveller with great photos and spiel about his kiwi adventures. Bru is a Canadian - and I know there are lots of Canadian readers because you've just dislodged the Yankees at the top of my Stat counter. New Zealanders I'm ashamed to say are trailing a distant third. Bru did the Tongariro Crossing which is where the Mount Doom scenes in Lord of the Rings were filmed.

I think most of you have met Darren, our Wandering Scotsman. Darren has been all over and will be leaving NZ soon. Check out his Photo Gallery. Just makes you want a book a ticket to somewhere - anywhere and if you haven't already read the post titled The Man Upstairs and His Mistake making Scotland then slap yourself round the ears and go and do it. Make sure you go to the first entry about a week ago not the more recent Part 2.

I have had the odd fisherman popping in for a quick visit at the blog so I've included a Taupo fishing website. I don't usually bother with the commercial sites because I figure people can find them on their own, but if it's fish you like, take a gander at the photo gallery. Mm-mm. Put the pan on and call me a glutton!

So once a week I think I'll take you on a guided tour on whatever I've found of interest over the preceding week. We'll call it our Thursday Tour. I know for over half the globe it isn't Thursday, but it is here, and I'm the one writing this, so Thursday it is.

So if you like tours, drop in again next Thursday (or whatever day it is for you), and if you don't, then drop in every other day of the week and skip Thursday.

But there will be questions. Don't blame me if you fail.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Back to reality

It's been a heady twenty-four hours where I drank too much bubbly and stayed up too late, but I'm finally floating back down to earth. Seeing Ripples on the Lake fully formed has made me realise just how much still needs to be completed before the release.

The web site is still only half done. I'll have it finished by the end of the month so long as I press on, but I realise that I've done the easy stuff and am now down to the bits where I spend two hours with my head in a tutorial to achieve a tiny tweak. Ah well, I never supposed it would be easy and it does feel rewarding.

I'm hoping that a vibrant and always up-to-date website will make up for the fact that it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. It looks great to me but I'm viewing it through the eyes of "wow,look at all the neat new tricks I can do now, ma"!

Others might not be quite so understanding!

Technorati ratings and the Statcounter are, of course, still my main hobby at this point. And I'm Googling myself shamelessly! But only with the lights out!

A word of advice to the writers here. Think about Google when titling your book. I've had to shoulder through what felt like a convention hall of folk who have written articles on the beautiful and mesmerising ripples on the lake they photographed that day or captured in a poem.

I've ridden rough shod over them, trampling them into the mud and reeds with a burst of shameless self-promotion to get Ripples onto Google's front page!

Not quite at number one yet - but I'm working on it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ripples on the Lake

For the very first time I'm holding my book in my hands. I won't equate it to holding your first born or anything but it feels pretty damn special.

I feel as if I've waited my entire life for this moment.

I've posted the image today and I can promise you that it looks even more dramatic "in the flesh". The drops of blood are embossed on so that it look like real blood.

Until this afternoon, I'd seen photocopies of the cover and jpeg images and pdf files, and seen the pages as proofs, but I'd never seen the whole thing - as a book.

It's a very special moment and I can't think of anything much to say. Tears are running down my cheeks and I think I'm just going to wander off and sit down and gaze at my beautiful, beautiful book.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The attention span of a newt

In Ripples on the Lake, the character Saffron Delaney complains about developing just that.

I can sympathise with her. Since I started blogging, I feel I'm in grave danger of developing the same. It's to do with this relentless surfing of the net that blogging encourages - more than encourages - demands.

I am at your site - ooh, that looks an interesting link, and I'm off, on a free wheeling out of control ride that takes me round the globe, from the thought provoking to the ridiculous, and all points in between.

It's fun. I've met some great people. But I fear it's doing irreversible harm to the brain cells. Already I believe I'm showing the first symptoms.

Wandered into a blog from Taupo - and you all know Taupo is where my heart lies - all ready to comment and I couldn't understand a word of the post. I wanted to comment, was desperate to comment, but hadn't a hope. My head swivelled back and forth as I followed a debate on computer widgets until finally, I quietly closed the door and crept away. I will return. When I've learnt my widget from my wodget.

I wish the mysterious Taupo blogger well and was genuinely sorry that I couldn't partake. He, on the other hand, would probably be heaving a sigh of relief if he only knew how close he came to have a computer ignoramus lumber onto his site, stomping over the cherished widgets and munching on the javascript. "Yes, but if you could just help me to turn my computer on. That's not too much to ask, is it, since we're almost neighbours."

We are, in actual fact, about fifty kilometers apart, but I figure in a global sense that is close enough.

If you're one of the people who has visited my blog and wondered why I never returned the courtesy (I have old-fashioned values), the answer lies in my rapidly diminishing attention span. I see a post, I think how witty (or clever, or thoughtful or how something) must visit, and surf on, leaving you lost in a wall of spray.

Occasionally, I find you again. If so, I do try even harder not to lose you. You people reading this are cherished in a way that only a fellow blogger understands.

Someone hears me.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Of men and dogs

A decade ago, I lived alone with two miniature poodles and two cats. Pig hunters were nasty brutish types and their dogs obviously slathering beasts. Then I fell in love with a man that hunted pigs - and his dogs.

It's been a heart wrenching journey since then. One by one the poodles died of old age - to be replaced by pig dog pups. I've learnt that, as in most things, the issues that surround pig hunting are not black and white. It's mostly varying shades of grey.

New Zealand has beautiful bush, evergreen and dense, quite different to the open structure that I see in pictures of American bush. Ferns and mosses carpet much of the ground and bird life everywhere. It's a pleasure to walk through NZ bush.

I'm thinking about this tonight because a competition is running this weekend so while I've been at the garage, husband and dogs has been out after pigs. They got one and tomorrow it will weigh in with the others.

New Zealand only native mammals are seals so that the birds and bush are very vulnerable to the introduced species. Pigs are a pest and do need to be thinned out but it's the method of this culling that disturbs me.

I grew up in a family of hunters so am not upset by hunting. Unless one is a vegetarian then meat has to come from somewhere. A quick shot seems preferable to being transported to an abattoir.

But hunting with dogs troubles me.

But I can't turn away and say it's wrong because I care about this man and his dogs. I've held tiny puppies on my lap as we bring them home and nursed dogs injured in the hunt. Our old dog sleeps inside so that the cold doesn't bother his arthritis. These dogs are the children I never had.

So sometimes I go out on a hunt. I enjoy scrambling through the bush and watching these big hearted dogs working back and forth for scent. And when a far off bark alerts to a bail and the husband dashes off like a man possessed, gun and knife at the ready, I lumber along at the rear, hoping that the pig has been dispatched by the time I get there.

So this I confess to you because we're getting to know one another and I'm thinking of these things tonight. Please don't think bad of me. I never meant to fall in love with a pig hunter and his dogs.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Thank you Natalie Winter

The lovely ladies at HarperCollins HQ phoned me this morning and whatever I had been going to blog about went straight out of my head.

Ripples on the Lake is printed and the cover looks even more fabulous than the draft copies of it promised.

The art work for the cover was designed by - big drum roll, please -Natalie Winter, a fellow kiwi now working in Australia with the HarperCollins Design Studio. Funny how them Aussie's steal all our best things! I'm afraid you're going to have to wait until my web site is up and running to see the cover of Ripples. A squinty little shot in the blog just wouldn't do it justice. I want to bombard your senses with it, whack you over the head with it, steal your wallet with it. Oops , did my avaricious underbelly show for a moment there!

In the mean time, if you want to see a little more of what this award winner designer has done then check out Natalie Winter's website.

Natalie has done a wonderful job and I just thank my lucky stars that HarperCollins had the good sense to completely ignore all of my suggestions! I just hope my words can live up to Natalie's fabulous cover!

Which gets us to - can the cover make or break a novel? I believe it can have a huge effect which is why I'm so stoked over Natalie's art work. I've written what I believe is an exciting tale. It's not a literary masterpiece - I think the Six Pack result says all that needs to be said about my efforts there - but it's different and it's exciting. Well, that's my belief.

But if no one sees it sitting on the shelf, then they'll never discover that exciting world I created for them. That's what the cover is for - to say "pick me up, I'm worth reading". And the cover of Ripples on the Lake does exactly that.

Thank you, Natalie Winter.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Six weeks to publication

Six weeks to publication and my mind has turned to food. Not directly, you understand, it actually turned to a nice green blouse I saw in a shop window. At that point my mind said, "You should buy that. Six weeks to publication and you might have to do something".

This is how I describe anything to do with the actual week of publication. It makes it far less scary if I don't dwell on detail but leave it all in the misty land of "do something".

Not that I'll be expected to do much. New Zealand is a small country. Most of us would rather read the latest Stephen King than one of our homegrown authors, and I'm a newbie, so it isn't as if much will be asked of me. But whatever is asked will surely be better served by me wearing a nice new blouse.

So I tried the blouse on. All I could see were these two flabby arms sticking out of the armholes. I'm sure there were other bits of my body present because the rest of my clothing hadn't fallen into a crumbled heap on the floor. Something, and I'm assuming it was the rest of my skeletal structure, was holding it all together. And the eyes I was seeing said arms with had to be glued on to something.

But all I could see were two flabby arms.

That is when my mind turned to food. As it does at times like that.

I need to diet, I decided as I hung the nice green blouse back on the rack. Instead of opening a tin of something and devouring it like a one-woman band of locusts, I should press weights with it.

So tonight, instead of a late-nite snack, I'll be hefting tins of baked beans in time honoured fashion. Three reps of ten to start with, I think.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Serendipity

And it's falling from the heavens like snowflakes. Snuggle in round this blog and I truly believe some of it will land on you too.

Lots of lovely things have happened in the last twenty-four hours. Yesterday, I found another site to add to my "Interesting Kiwi" links. The more time I spend with the blog, the more I realise that an important part of it for me is to present New Zealand -and in particular the Taupo area - to the world. This means I'm looking for blogs and links that do just that but without the normal tourist hype. The Wandering Scotsman aka Darren is my latest find. He's wandered all over New Zealand and for anyone thinking off visiting us you'll love his laid back commentary and photos.

Then this morning, I set off on my "blog rounds". This is something that I pretend to my husband is a real chore - like this is work, honey, don't think I'm having fun here - but secretly enjoy. The round is bigger for the next week as I've joined a Blog Blitz.

So first of all I wander off round my regulars and there is Canadian actress Adrienne Kress blogging about not pre-judging your writing but just getting on and doing it. I so needed to hear that, Adrienne. I'm struggling at the moment with a first draft that is not measuring up - in my eyes at least.

Next, I nervously approached a few different sites - part of the Blog Blitz - desperately hoping I would find some topic I could participate in, and what do I find? One of regulars over at Marxist horror writer Benjamin Solah's blog is talking about the "Snowflake method". I thought I'd heard of most of the plotting/outlining methods but this was a new one to me. Again, this was exactly what I needed.

For me, this is the wonderful thing about blogging - it is yet another way to let serendipity into your life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Telling it like it is

Ripples on the Lake is set in Taupo and this has been a mixed blessing.

The up-side is that it is a wonderful little town set on the shore of a beautiful lake - the largest in New Zealand. I'm not sure I completely captured the scenery - I might have been to busy "killing people off" and neglected it but I sure enjoyed writing about an area that I love.

The down-side in using a real place is that local residents know the area intimately. When the book comes out, any mistake will be glaringly obvious. I checked and rechecked things. But still ...

I spent hours sitting beside the lake watching it and I like to think that I captured its many moods. Usually my husband would be standing up to his waist out in the water fishing for rainbow trout which were taken home and fried for breakfast or smoked. Delicious! Taupo grows the best and biggest rainbow trout in the world with the original stock coming from America in the 1890's.

Writing about an actual location brought so many problems - from simply realising after I'd written a scene, bother, that character could not have seen that while standing in that position to the real-town newspaper coming out on an inconvenient day - inconvenient for me in terms of the plot. In most works of fiction if there's a tree in the way or a bank in the wrong place you write it out but that just isn't possible when you write about a real place.

I refused to allow myself artistic license with anything. When the writer in me wanted to have trees and ferns dipping into the lake but my research revealed that during the time period of that scene the area in question was barren, that was how I wrote it. It hurt but I stuck to my vowed intention. Keeping it real (or at least as real as paranormal can be)!

A few elements would be noticed (and approved, I hope) by Maori scholars as being in keeping with Maori history and mythology. No one else will notice but it pleased me to write it like that.

I'm not Maori but my husband is and I hope that has given me some insight into the complex issues that are facing NZ in race relations and how the injustices can best be healed.

Taupo has had a turbulent past. The lake began to form about a million years ago and has changed shape many times between then and now. It is a caldera and will erupt again one day. No one quite knows when!

Better visit it while you can!