Sunday, 10 August 2014

Everything is story fodder...

Writers always get asked where they get their story ideas and we always think that's an odd question. Stories ideas are everywhere and everyone has them. We all go into work Monday morning full of stories from the weekend. The only difference between writers and non-writers is that we spin ours out until they reach book length! Every experience can be used in a book. But, I've found, the most humiliating ones are the best.

Take my contribution to the Second Chances boxed set - Laura's Big Break. Laura is terrible at riding a bike. She has one disaster after another while on a cycling trip through Holland. Unfortunately, most of what Laura does, I did before her. I was a cycling legend in my husband's home town. In a country where most people learn to cycle before they can walk, I was a source of fascination. Especially for the kids - they'd never seen an adult fall off a bike before.

There's no way I could do this!!
This is because my husband bought me my first ever bike when I was 25.And he didn't just buy me a normal bike. Oh no. He bought a granny bike. Which meant it had no handbrakes, or gears, and you had to cycle backwards to stop the thing. Add to this the fact I am five foot two and all bikes in Holland are made for giants and you have an accident waiting to happen. Not only did I have to remember to cycle backwards to stop, I then had to fall over slightly so my foot could reach the ground! Just let's say I'm not known for my coordination and I never managed to get the hang of this.

Yep. It all looks lovely, until you're in the canal...
My cycling became the stuff of local legend. I was entertainment for the masses. Wherever I went people stopped to watch me wobble by, screaming and squealing, as I balanced miles above the ground. I cycled into the same wall, in front of a busy market, three times. When people stopped laughing they would clap. I also cycled into a canal. My husband had to pull me and the bike out of it. And I got my bike stuck in tramlines in Amsterdam. I screamed as a bell ringing tram aimed for my backside. Some poor guy, who was laughing hysterically, ran into the road and hauled me off the bike, then yanked it from the tram tracks and my life was spared. Again, people clapped. And laughed.

After that, my husband traded my granny bike in for a kid's bike with handbrakes and a very loud horn. As my legs are seriously short, the bike fit perfectly. And it had the added bonus of being bright purple and adorned with streamers.
And don't get me started on finding your bike once you've parked it!!
The moral of this story - apart from the fact Scottish women should not be allowed to cycle in Holland - is that everything in life is fodder for a story. The more I humiliate myself, the more fun my characters have.
And hopefully my readers too.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

On kisses, humiliation and wishing for a do-over…

This is a re-blog of my post on the fab Kiwi Indies site
Why not check out the other blog posts on the site? 
Or you could listen to the books from the Second Chances boxed set being read 
while you play around on facebook! :) Here's the post:

We all have something in the past that won’t let go. It’s that itch you just can’t scratch. Or that niggle in the back of your head that won’t leave you alone. It’s the feeling of something left unfinished. Or worse yet, something that was so humiliating you would pay Satan with your soul for a do-over. Or how about that taste of something you had a long time ago that left you hungry for more?

This is why we need second chances. I have a couple of things I’d like a do-over with. There was my teenage crush, Colin. Poor boy, I trapped him in the school library and declared love to him. Would seriously love to go back in time and wipe that from history. I realise now it wasn’t love, more like the feeling I get now when I really need chocolate. Needless to say, he didn’t have the same need. Knowing what I do now, I’d say his need was more along the lines of, “Run. Run fast and far.”
Best second chance movie ever!!
Then there’s Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy—I feel all soft just thinking about you—sigh… That boy could kiss!! But I was so wrapped up in Colin—even though that relationship was all happening in my head!—that I didn’t give Andy a chance. So here I am twenty odd years later, wondering what Andy can do with his tongue now when he could kiss like a superhero as a teen. Seriously, I still dream about that kiss. None have surpassed it. Andy, if you’re out there, you know who you are, I’m sure my husband would give me a pass to lip lock again…maybe…hopefully…sigh…

The great thing about being a writer—apart from the fact you get to lie in bed reading other people’s books and calling it research—is that you do get a chance to change the past. You just do it through your characters. And if you’re any good at the writing thing, the character doesn't screw up their second chance the way you undoubtedly would if you were given one!

So put your missed romantic opportunities aside for a while and live vicariously through the ones in the Second Chances boxed set. You never know, it might give you some ideas for your own do-over.

Second Chances: 7 Sweet & Sexy Romances in 1 Book

And Andy? Please? A phone call???

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

on my disappearing act and new books...

Hello everyone. No, I haven't dropped off the planet - although it felt like it for a few months! Unfortunately I spent the last couple of months of 2013, and the first few of this year, dealing with illness. I'm on the mend now, so nobody panic! :) Thanks to everyone who got in touch to encourage me while I was ill. And in answer to the emails asking when Goody Two Shoes is coming out - hopefully, soon. Thanks for your patience. I realise it's a long time between books and hope that you'll still want to read my work when the book gets out there!

As for other news. A fab bunch of award winning, and best-selling, Kiwi authors have put together a boxed set of their ebooks - and I'm part of it! It's called Second Chances and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes. For the princely sum of 99 cents, you'll get 7 complete novels. Here's a bit about each of the books:
 buy now on iTunes

In Too Deep — Tracey Alvarez
To save her brother from financial ruin, police diver Piper Harland does the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island hometown on Stewart Island where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. West lost Piper once, but now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit. Maybe he wants her a little bit, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?

The Playboy’s Redemption — Diana Fraser
James Mackenzie is tired of his shallow lifestyle and wants a family. But before he begins his new life he wants to secure the future of the woman he wronged ten years before. The last thing Susie Henderson needs is her ex lover buying the winery in which she works and threatening her independence. Because how can she trust someone who betrayed her, someone who doesn't even believe in himself?

Laura’s Big Break — Janet Elizabeth Henderson
Laura needs to interview war hero Charlie to keep her job. She'd rather stick a fork in her eye. Charlie jokes that he won't say a word unless Laura comes along on his cycling holiday. Sport phobic Laura has no choice but to agree. It's going to be two weeks of hell in Holland - and that's before Charlie discovers she can't ride a bike!

Dating Daisy — Joanne Hill
When Daisy Miller discovers a new dating show in town, she auditions in the hope of getting promotion for her ailing bookshop. She figured she’d never win. She was wrong. Ancient History Professor Joel Benjamin—the loser boy Daisy once spent a memorable night with—chooses Daisy. But Joel's only on the show as a favour to his best mate and dating Daisy threatens his dream of becoming an Associate Professor.

The Wrong Sister — Kris Pearson
From the 'Wicked in Wellington' series. Fiona Delaporte has an impossible assignment - to care for her newly widowed brother-in-law and his tiny daughter. (The newly widowed tall, dark and delicious brother-in-law she's secretly wanted for five long, frustrating years.) WARNING: Contains one hot man who always gets what he wants - in bed and out.

Return to Totara Park — Shirley Wine
Winsome Grainger left Totara Park vowing never to return. A vow broken when she and her estranged husband, each inherit a half share in the estate. She has had time to regret not telling Jared why she walked out on him, and their marriage... Too late Winsome learns she’s a pawn in a dark and deadly game. A game whose rules she doesn’t know.

His Christmas Present — SerenityWoods
A romantic Christmas novella. Dion Wallace turns up in New Zealand hoping for a quiet break after the stress of his father's betrayal, and maybe also to reconnect with Megan Green, whom he hasn't seen since they met in Prague a year before. Megan has a Christmas present for him - but it's not quite what he was expecting.

Monday, 11 November 2013

how not to diet like a writer...

A few weeks ago I decided to go on a diet. I approached this latest plan like any good writer would and started with research. I went to the library and borrowed every book on dieting that I could find - low fat, low carb, eat for your blood type, only eat soup, fast for two days, the LBD diet... Then I bought a copies of all the latest slimming magazines - so that I was up to date with the latest diet info.

As soon as the kids were in bed, and hubby at work, I sat down to research. As we all know, a well informed person always succeeds - right? Ten minutes into reading I was hungry. Concentrating is hard work. I picked up the phone and ordered a pizza and chocolate cake. I happily munched my way through a meat lovers pizza, while keeping one eye on the latest episode of Castle, and reading through my research.

After my pizza, and research, I came to the conclusion that the worst thing about dieting was deprivation. I didn't want to miss all those foods that I loved. So I made a list. I put everything I love to eat on it - pizza (of course), cake, fudge, chicken Korma, creamy pasta carbonara, bacon and eggs, exotic breads, steaming hot chocolate with cream - you get the idea. The plan was to keep that list pinned to the wall and remind myself that once I'd lost the weight I could indulge again - in moderation of course. I'd read a LOT about moderation during my research. The main thing to tell myself was that foods I loved weren't gone forever, just for a while. I was optimistic.

Then I had another idea. Why not give a proper farewell to all the foods I love and eat them before the diet starts? That way I could get wanting them out of my system and I'd be able to focus on the diet a whole lot better. It was genius. I spent about ten days eating my way through everything on the list - it was a big list. I ticked each item off as I went, feeling very smug that my diet was going so well already. I'd researched everything I needed to know, I was prepared and I was eliminating the temptation of all the foods I craved. Meanwhile, so that I wasn't distracted from my mission, I kept reading the diet books while I ate through my list and I started a spreadsheet for all the low carb/low fat meals I would eat after I got rid of the temptation.
I even dusted off my treadmill and spent hours planning a walking/running programme for me to follow. I worked hard. In my head.

When the ten days were up I had gained 6 pounds. I was so sick of reading diet books that the mere thought of anything to do with a diet made me feel nauseous. And I was so lethargic from all the food I'd eaten that I couldn't step on my treadmill let alone look at it.

I'd like to say I've learned from this experience, but the sad truth is I probably haven't. Part of me STILL believes that my approach was completely logical. Unfortunately, it's the same part of me that's now 6 pounds heavier...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

sharing the book bounty...

Just a short, and sweet, post to let you know that I'm running a competition on my website. I'm giving away a bundle of new romance books that I got from the Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference! 

a mysterious bundle of the latest and greatest in romance!

There are a variety of romance genres, big names and new names and they're all looking for a new home. All you have to do is answer the question to enter the draw. Competition ends September 30th and anyone can enter, no matter where you live. I hope you'll join in!

see you there,

Sunday, 18 August 2013

confessions of a fashion phobic writer...

Okay, this is going to shock some of you, I know it. For about ten years now I've been living in jeans, T-shirts and a variety of sneakers. I can't remember the last time I wore makeup and my hair is always tied up in a messy bun on top of my head - which means I can skip days wrestling with the curls. If Oprah was sitting here right now she's be doing a segment on women who let themselves go! I'd like to clarify that I don't look like a troll. I just don't dress up! (just in case your image of me is a tiny hairy creature who barely changes her clothes...)

With two tiny kids, who have permanent sticky hands, there never seemed any point in making an effort. I'm all about function and comfort. Which was fine, but now I'm off to the New Zealand Romance Writers conference next weekend, and the dress code for the Saturday awards dinner is glam!

So I went shopping for glam. The first thing I did was buy a pair of high heels. And when I say high, I mean stilts high. Why I did this, I have no idea. The shoes called to me. It was as though I was in a trance. I have no recollection of paying for them. One minute I was drooling over them, the next I was home trying them on. Honestly, I wish they'd called to someone else, because I've never worn heels higher than an inch. The new shoes look kind of like these, only mine have a peep toe and no gold lightning bolt.
I put them on as soon as I got home - to practice walking. And a 6.6 earthquake hit our region. I was on stilts and the floor was moving. It took about 30 seconds for me to land on my backside. Now I don't have the courage to try them again. I did however google "how to walk in heels" - you have no idea how many videos there are showing you how to walk. And much to my disgust, I've been doing it wrong all these years. I thought, heel then toe, but when on stilts it's toe then heel. I tried this, just in bare feet, and I look like I a constipated chicken. Might have to rethink the shoes.

Today, I went looking for a dress. I should point out that the last time I wore a dress was twenty years ago. I didn't even wear one when I got married, I wore trousers. (You all think I'm a tomboy slob now, don't you?!) Anyway, I took my two tiny girls on an hour's drive to the next town to go shopping. I tried on every dress in the shop. Some of them more than once. My girls were very well behaved for the first hour, then started chanting "we're so bored" for about twenty minutes. Then they got bored of that too. So they decided to peek under the changing room curtain while I was undressing. The curtain gaped and I flashed my wares to the shop staff and a very embarrassed middle aged couple. I had to wait until they left before I came out of the changing room. I was hoping that if they saw me around the mall, they wouldn't recognise me with my clothes on. 

This is the dress I picked.

That's not me wearing it - sadly.

So now I have makeup I can't use (see the last blog post for that one), shoes I can't walk in, a dress I can't zip up without help and underwear that takes a team to tug on. Oh, forgot about the underwear. A friend of mine told me I needed Spanx, so I dutifully bought some. When I asked the girls at the counter if you bought it in your size, or the size you wanted to be, there was much hilarity. In case you were wondering - you get your own size!

I'll let you know how the big event goes. I may even take a picture of me looking glam! It's funny though, I thought I was just going to Wellington was a fun weekend away. Instead I'm visiting another planet - one without black T-shirts and sneakers. There's a possibility I won't return. Already I've developed an unhealthy attachment to my mascara and every shoe shop I pass whispers my name...

Sunday, 4 August 2013

this is my life...

Thought I'd walk you through a week in my life. I'd like to say this isn't typical, but it pretty much is.

Monday: Discovered my pet sheep is "with child", which means I'm about to have another pet sheep. Husband shook his head and went over our options - sell the lamb, turn the lamb into sausages. I covered my pet sheep's ears - it would be like selling a family member. I told him he'd just have to come to terms with being a grandparent, and then I told him off for leaving the gates open, which enabled the ram to find my pet. At which point he left, muttering under his breath.

Tuesday: Pet sheep is hormonal and keeps kicking the back door to demand sandwiches. Meanwhile, I have the dentist tomorrow and I'm getting an anesthetic for the first time ever. I'm completely convinced that I will have a bad reaction to it and die in the dental chair. Instead of spending the day working on my new book, I spend it writing "last letters" to my family... I debate whether or not to leave a video message, but decide I'd like to loose a few pounds before doing that and there isn't time if I'm going to die tomorrow. Husband shakes his head and mutters.

Wednesday: I spend my waiting time in the dental surgery breathing into a paper bag - much to the horror of other patients. Meanwhile husband rubs my back and sings Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" to me - NOT helpful! After grilling the anesthetist with many stupid questions, I get an IV in my hand, feel dizzy for about ten seconds and wake up an hour later. I don't remember anything about it and although I'm minus a wisdom tooth, I have no pain for hours. I now LOVE anesthetic. I should have it for everything, in fact it would be great it keep it on hand for those days when I need a little time out. In my whoozy state I write a thank you card and send it to the dentist.

Thursday: I'm in pain. The sheep is demanding more bread and her baaing is like a dental drill on my brain. My 8 year old wants to put on a dance show in the living room. The throbbing in my jaw is at odds to the rhythm of the music. I discover I can't chew, so everything has to be blended. It's a liquid food diet. After a two hour dance show I'm wondering if a person can live on vodka - that's a liquid, right? I don't drink, but it isn't too late to start. To cheer myself up, I call the local beauty counter and book a make-over for the following morning.

Friday: With a swollen face and dark circles under my eyes, from being awake and in pain all night, I go for my make-over. The make up artist is wearing LOTS of blue eye shadow and black eye liner. She looks like someone punched her - twice. I emphasize that I want a natural look. 45 minutes later, I have so much foundation on that my face looks it's been vacuum formed out of plastic. My eyebrows, which are bushy already, now look like two small hairy creatures that are living on my forehead. And my eye shadow is blue. I smile, firmly refuse to buy anything she used on my face and leave to wipe it all off. Before I can remove the makeup, I run into my dentist. He's grinning widely. "I got your note," he says. "I'm glad you love me that much, it's good to know." I hang my head in shame and go home.

Saturday: My jaw is feeling better. I actually get some writing done. I put the girls in the bath, tell them to play and then I knock off a chapter while they splash about. Then the call of "muuuum" rings out - apparently my three year old thought it was a good idea to put a marble up her bum. Yep, you read that right. And the thing that upset her the most was that it was her favorite purple one. I get them out the bath, call my husband, who's working as a nurse in the Emergency Department, and ask him what to do. After a short conversation, which was mostly made up of him laughing, I'm told that all I can do is feed her lots of fruit and monitor what comes out the other end.

Sunday: I am the toilet monitor. The marble comes out and my three year old cries when I throw it away. Seriously, she wanted to keep it!? I've put my sheep in her paddock because her mood swings are driving me mental. My dog has stolen my mobile phone again and buried it somewhere in the garden - the girls are looking for it now. The chapter I wrote yesterday is too dark for a romantic comedy - it also mentions teeth a lot - so I'm starting again. Oh, and it's soup for dinner. On top of all this - I have another appointment with the dentist tomorrow...