Thursday, September 27, 2007

Myths and Mayhem Tour

I've just returned home after having the most wonderful time on the Myths and Mayhem Tour. If anyone out there is stressing about an upcoming book tour - don't. This was my first and I sailed through it. There was one heart pounding moment as I waited to start talking at the first venue, but after a couple of minutes I was away and they couldn't shut me up after that!

I should probably introduce the participants of this whistle-stop tour. There was Deborah Challinor who writes historical novels that bring early NZ history to life. With seven novels under her belt, Deborah was the most experienced amongst us.

Elenor Gill has two paranormal novels published and is currently working on number four. (You can tell they all work harder than I do, can't you!) Elenor's husband Brendan accompanied her and what a fine "roadie" he made! He drove us about, minded bags, took photos, found restaurants - in fact, having been a backing musician to singers like Dusty Springfield, he was even able to give assistance with microphones.

We also had Charlie Holland, the NZ Book Council tour coordinator with us, and she provided all the support a newbie could want.

First venue was Hamilton, a city about an hour and a half drive from home. The audience there was wonderful - they all looked so friendly that it was hard to stay nervous for long. Elenor, Brendan, and myself went on to a restaurant after the talk and then back to the motel.

Next day, we all travelled separately through to Tauranga which is actually my home town. I was born there and did all my schooling there.



That's me in the "hot seat" at the Tauranga Library, and on the left is the chair, Jenny Argante and to my left is fellow author Elenor Gill. In front of me, are zillions of devoted fans hanging on to my every word! Well - about 30 people who were politely managing to look mildly interested!

After that, it was back to the cars - the bagel I had scoffed for breakfast was beginning to seem inadequate - and on to Rotorua, our third and final venue. This time the audience consisted mainly of members of the local writer's group so they brought yet another perspective to the talk.

After that, the five of us descended like a plague of locusts upon a local restaurant called Fat Dog.

I'm afraid I seem to have cropped poor Brendan out of the shot, which seems a bit tough after he guarded my bag all evening, but that's (from left to right) Elenor Gill, Deborah Challinor and Charlie Holland. The food was delicious and the servings enormous and I shall certainly return with Tori - who is not a man to be intimidated by a super large plate of food - next time we are in Rotorua.

I took a photo the next morning because I liked Fat Dog.


The motel I was booked into had a spa and it was wonderful to relax after all the rushing about. I slept like a log that night. And then, this morning, it was back into the car and the drive home. The dogs were delighted to see me; the hens might have been - they're not very demonstrative.

And that was my very first book tour. It's left me feeling proud to be a writer, determined not to waste this opportunity, and so very keen to start writing again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Tour Begins

The mini-book tour begins today. I refer to it as a "mini" tour because I hear of writers slogging from city to city over a period of weeks or even months, battered suitcase in one hand and road map in the other, and I do want you to know that my tour is a nice civilised jaunt, not an enduro event.

This means I'll be "missing" for a couple of days (what's new, you say!) but I'll be back on Thursday and will fill you in on all the details. It sounds strange but I have never actually met another writer in person, so I'm looking forward to meeting up with Deborah Challinor and Elenor Gill. It will be interesting to hear their take on writing.

And so many people have emailed me to say how much they've enjoyed Ripples that I'm hoping I might run into one or two of them. I wonder sometimes if readers realise just how much their support is appreciated.

I have decided to take my camera with me and will get someone to take a pic of us all looking suitably authorial - just in case it's the only book tour I ever go on! The speed I'm progressing with the next story, it well could be!

I have a zillion things I should be doing this morning so had better race off and attend to them. I don't want to turn up in a car that looks as if it carts pig dogs about in the back seat! (It's a treat - they love going to town with me!)

Full report in a couple of days - until then, take care.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gardens and other things

I popped into town today to buy a few "bits" for the garden. It's springtime here in New Zealand and in another few weeks my flower garden will look wonderful. I like things fairly wild and - in many people's eyes - overgrown. It's how I like a garden. Drives my husband crazy. He likes things well pruned. In fact, give him a chain saw and he'd reduce my garden to ankle level in a second!

There are a number of roses sprinkled round our half acre, mostly old fashioned ramblers and shrub roses with a few modern ones, and then lots (and I do mean lots) of a pink flowering plant that I have absolutely no idea of the name. Ditto a yellow flowering plant. But they both flower like crazy, self seed like crazy, never give weeds a chance to get a foothold, and I love them. Then there's white flowering feverfew and mauve poppies - I love them all as they combine in an orgy of flowers in the spring and early summer.

I grow lots of vegetables from seed but at this time of year I like to buy a few seedlings just to get things started, so that's what I was doing today.

Adrienne Kress, author of Alex and the Wigpowder Treasure, has a wonderful post about her trip to the UK to launch the English edition of her book. The link is over in the side bar (The Temp, the Writer and the Actress - although the words are possibly not in that order!) and you will enjoy it. Trust me.

I'd started to get a little nervous about my own upcoming mini-tour, but reading Adrienne's adventure reminded me to just enjoy the ride. As usual with Adrienne's epics, there are lots of photos.

Talking of photos - if anyone out there knows of a good digital camera brand and model, do tell. I've been reading reviews of various models and getting so much conflicting advice that now I feel quite confused. If you like your camera, tell me what it is.

Otherwise how will I show you pics of the puppies when they arrive!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Book Tour

In just over a week my mini book tour will begin. The tour will last two days and I'll speak in three different towns. I hardly ever seem to stay overnight anywhere nowadays so it will be a treat to forget about the feeding of dogs and hens (and husband!) and enjoy doing something different.

The tour is called "Myths and Mayhem" and I'll be joined by two other kiwi authors, Deborah Challinor and Elenor Gill. Both these ladies are multi-published authors so obviously work harder at their craft than I do!

I gather that we will be talking about "the process of crafting history and myth into the perfect story". And there I was thinking I was just belting out an exciting tale!

I have to confess that I actually did do a lot of research before writing Ripples on the Lake, but once I started writing, I was more concerned with the pace of the story and making sure that it never slowed as it galloped towards the end.

Before the writing began, I read everything I could on early Taupo history (the town the story is set in) and on early Maori history. It felt important to keep everything accurate and real - goodness knows why since the story is paranormal. I think I wanted a reader to believe that it could have happened to anyone - even them - exactly as I wrote it, so that background accuracy was important.

It's been lovely to get email from readers saying that they have learnt things about maori culture from the story. It was never my intention to "teach" anything but it's a nice spinoff.

I'll be doing a reading on the book tour and have chosen the passage where Billy dies. It doesn't contain the central character but does feel "complete" in itself.

On the puppy front, Berry continues to thrive. She is still hunting which is unlikely to do her or the unborn puppies any harm, although I'm begining to think that the jump up on to the back of the ute will become a bit of a stretch.

I told Tori that he might need to lift her up, but he just gave me a funny look! I know that he will - he'll just make sure that none of his pig hunting friends see him doing it!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Puppies

I'm not sure how you count the age of puppies that are yet to be born. Let's just call them minus six weeks and counting.

Berry is developing a wee "tum" on her and seems to have mellowed a little so I'm convinced she is in pup although it seems very early to be showing. If not, it certainly isn't through inactivity on Diesel's part!

He did all the things a stud dog is supposed to do - several times over! I was relieved when Berry was through her fertile period and things settled back to normal. You try telling a couple of amorous dogs that the front lawn isn't really the best place and could they please be a little more discreet!

The puppies will be pig dogs, of course, and we will keep one and find homes for the others. Diesel has a lot of greyhound blood in him and is very fast. He can still out sprint Berry although she is just youngster compared to him.

I really do understand why regular guest Marijke loves the breed so much. I remember watching Diesel run at full speed once many years. We were on opposite sides of a small gully and I had this panoramic view of him in full flight down a dirt track. It was simply magical. In some strange way the beauty of him moved me and I still remember that day clearly.

And jump! He can clear a gate, taking off seven or eight feet in front of it and touching down a similar distance on the other side.

I know if any of the puppies look as if they've thrown towards Diesel that Tori will want to keep them.

Mother-to-be, Berry, is a sweetheart although that is not considered the "proper" way to talk about a pig dog! Tori would cringe if he could hear that. I don't care. They can be his rough-tough pig dogs when they're out hunting - at home, they're my two sweethearts.

Berry is part Lockley which I believed is considered a recognised breed now, although not by the Kennel Club. The breed started many years ago when a dedicated pig hunter by the name of Lockley decided to establish a true breeding line of dogs that he considered the perfect mix for hunting pig. For the most part, pig dogs are of mixed parentage.

Tori took them both out at the weekend but it must have been the pigs lucky day. Berry will continue to hunt for a few more weeks before becoming a "lady-in-waiting" until she whelps.

And won't that be an exciting post!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The plan - for this week at least!

As I lay on the couch thinking nasty thoughts about calf 202, I had time also to contemplate my future. The result of this is that I have decided to put writing on the back burner for awhile.

I hope there is another book in me. I'm convinced that there is - but, what I need to do right now, is earn money. As all you writers know, writing is a long term thing. Money comes in, but it's down the track.

The driving determination that pushed me through to the completion of Ripples is temporarily quietened. Right now, writing is something that gets in the way of life, whereas it used to be the other way round.

So - there are going to be a few changes. I don't want to scrap the blog because I've come to enjoy sharing my bits of news with you all and getting your feedback. I shall post two or three times a week as anything of interest happens.

To whet your appetite (or cause you to hastily delete me from your bookmarked sites!) in the months coming, there will be a report on the three city book tour that I'm doing with two other writers and also the pregnancy and birth of Berry's puppies. Berry is one of our pigdogs as is father-to-be Diesel.

After a lifetime of working for other people I'm about to try my hand at an internet based business. Don't worry! I haven't sent my life savings off to a Nigerian bank or anything! I will reveal all when the time is right and hopefully any lessons learnt can be of use to others. It won't bring in any money for awhile and I shall return to either the garage (if it ever pumps gas again) or the pizza parlour (if it ever opens) in the mean time.

I'll continue with the monthly update on my website and will keep the rating widgets on it but I'm thinking off removing all rating widgets from the blog. Gasp! Did I really just write that? Well, if the blog is going to be simply a means of communicating with people that I consider cyberfriends - it really doesn't matter, does it?

There'll just be me, you and a couple of others, sitting around munching on cream filled apple donuts and working out good names for Berry's puppies!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

"excessive schmaltziness"

Yesterday I received another batch of review clippings. Mostly good.

But - "excessive schmaltziness" - that's what the gentleman from the Dominion Post had to say about Ripples. I'm assuming the reviewer is a gentleman. Come out and say that to my face you swine, sir!

The book was, he tells me, an "uncomfortable chick-lit makeover"!

I believe he has a heart in there somewhere because he did say the book was "sadly spoilt" by the "excessive schmaltziness". Like it hurt him to discover that. Ahh well, it hurts me to hear him say that, but not very much. I'm surprised to discover that my skin is tougher that I thought it might be.

Adrienne Kress over at The Actress, The Writer and the Temp has an excellent post on reviews. It's all subjective, she tells me.

She's right, of course, but what I wonder about is this - are the passages in Ripples that were found to be awash in sentimentality by one reviewer, are those the passages that I wrote through a blur of tears? Because it was genuine emotion when I wrote it.

I know I do go over-the-top when I write. The most common phrase used by the HarperCollins editors was "less is more, Dawn". It still rings in my ears! Possibly I'm better at conveying excitement and action that heartfelt emotion.

All I can say is the gentleman from the Dominion Post should have seen it before the HarperCollins editors made me pull out all my most heart wrenching scenes!