Sunday, October 27, 2013

Writers Love Reviews

As the title suggests, I'm all abuzz right now about reviews. These little gems are precious stones to a writer, and seemingly quite hard to come by these days. I've been amazed how hard it actually is to get a review, although, given the number of self-publishing authors, and amount of reading material on the market, it shouldn't be surprising.

So, I'm going to shout out about this site:

Not only is their service free, provided you don't mind waiting, they guarantee to give a review. That's better than any other site I've found so far. So many sites have disclaimers that they don't guarantee to review your work, and so many sites do not even reply to authors when review requests are submitted.

They don't, however, guarantee a good review, so I think myself among the lucky ones who have been given a fair and glowing appraisal of my book:

I'll take my four star review, thanks Readers Favorite!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rafflecopter Giveaway

This week I'm running a Rafflecopter Giveaway of my six titles as an experiment to see how much exposure I can far on Facebook it's not spreading too far...

Let's see if anyone notices here and goes to check it out...

I have 5 copies to give away, and the choice of title is yours...six to choose from.

You can check out what they are in more detail here:

Then you can pop over to this link and with a couple of clicks, you can be in to win:

A DiamonD In The DustBeside The BrookRiding The Hurricane
Alexandra The GreatThe Silver LiningSongs In The Key Of J

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Helen

Such a funny moment this afternoon when I logged into my account and found an email from Wattpad, with "Happy Birthday, Helen" in the title.

For just a moment I was very confused. Then it all fell into place.

When I set up my Wattpad account online, I decided that Paulette and Helen should have two separate accounts, therefore Helen should be considered a different person to myself. When I pondered what her birthday would be, the first thing that came to mind was the birthday of someone I used to know...someone I've pondered for a long time about being the protagonist of a story hidden in the recesses of my mind yet to be written.

Just this June passed I in fact attended my High School reunion with this story in the back of my mind. Returning to the scene of the crime, I had hoped to stir up the feelings enough to write the story. It was an uncanny feeling, sitting in the car with my husband, right on top of the very ground where the boys' dorm of my boarding school had once stood. I snapped a few photos, but it was a 'going through the motions' type of scenario, because nothing pictured vividly in the back of my mind even existed anymore. Just grass where we once used to line up for dinner, and concrete where the cool waters of a ground-in pool used to entertain us on the hot summer evenings. And behind me, my husband - representing my life as it is now, and everything that has happened to me over the years in between then and now.

What I realised more than anything on that trip, was that although we all told each other "Oh, you haven't changed much since high school", because physically we recognised each other, even painted with more than a few more years' experience on our faces, we really have changed. Twenty-odd years, between high school and turning forty, includes so many milestones. Study, work, relationships, marriage, children...all have moulded us into what we are now, and while we may retain our basic personality traits that make us recognisable to those who knew us from 'yester-year', we still have changed.

It was then that I realised my story would be different. My main character might recognise her protagonist when she sees him, but they will not know each other. It won't be like they were sitting under a light on the tennis courts when they should have been inside doing their homework (Yes, Mum, that's possibly why I didn't excel as well at school as you hoped I would, but I promise it was probably one of the worst things I did with boys then!). They will be strangers. It won't be a memory of something that never happened in High School that she had hung onto all these years with regret that will suddenly bridge the gap and make them fall into each others' arms like it was yesterday. That would be cheesy and disappointing to the reader, and I certainly don't need that.

So, thank you Helen, for sharing your birthday with the person who made me reflect on this. I hope his life has been as rich as mine (and Helen's!) to this point. Oneday, unless I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I'm going to imagine just what did happen to him in the twenty years since I saw him last, but like many of my characters I pluck from real life, he won't be recognisable on the page!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Stress does not induce the imagination

As you've guessed by the title, I've been tying myself up in knots recently about the lack of words on my pages.


I have plenty of ideas. They come like waves...little snippets of information that either hit the shore and die, or build to a crescendo which quickly root themselves as solid ideas and real characters who have wonderful stories. The problem is, that's where they stop. I'm not getting the stories from my head onto the page.

I had a lightbulb moment just this week, though, when I was trolling Facebook...Deborah Riley-Magnus posed a question on her page about writing...

Is your writing production cyclical? Do you write more at a certain time of the day or week or year? Are the patterns clear, or are the cycles random? My writing seems to cycle twice a year from inspiration to finish.

All my teachings have been that to be a writer you must write and it's like a muscle, you have to exercise it...and that's what I believed. Having said that, I now have five books published, so I know, in that context, I am a writer. I can acknowledge that. I'm not saying I'm a good writer, but for all intents and purposes, I can claim I'm a writer. I write, therefore I am.

Having someone else say that they write cyclically, made me think about how I write. To know you're not alone - that you're not the only one, makes it seem much more acceptable - and less of a problem.

I suddenly relaxed about what I thought was a problem.

Low and behold, the moment I relaxed about it all - the ideas began to flow more I'm not going to worry about getting them down on paper just yet...I'm happy to let them stew.

As long as they keep coming, I'm happy!

Be Happy!

Happy people are more productive...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipes for Writing

If you're a writer and a working mother like me, you'll find it difficult to juggle everything you need to get done. While you're knee deep in plot and character development, it can be hard to tear yourself away for some of the necessary challenges daily life throws at you, like cooking family meals.

I'm a big fan of quick and easy recipes, so I'm going to share a couple with you which have become my favourites over the years.

I love dessert, but I'm not a person who likes to spend time in the kitchen. Many nights, dessert is an afterthought, especially when dinner has been a quick throw-together, leaving everyone with a hankering for just a little bit more.

Below are two different versions of an apple crumble. The first is for when you already have the oven on, and just want to throw something together for 'after'. The second is a microwave recipe, which takes next to no time to prepare and cook. Your family will love them both. While I haven't specified it in either of these, you can use gluten free flour in the mix for both - which I do as my diet is wheat free - and it turns out equally as nice. In the oven baked version, just use gluten free cornflakes as your option, which I think most are these days anyway.

Oven Cooked Apple Crumble:

1 425g tin pie apples (or stewed fruit)
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 cups crushed Cornflakes or Wheatbix
75g melted butter

Put the apples in the bottom of a casserole dish, mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and pour over the melted butter. Spread crumble mixture over the apples and bake in a 180 degree (Celcius) oven for twenty minutes. Without opening the oven, turn off and leave to cook in warm oven for another twenty minutes. Serve with cream or ice-cream, or if you're like me, both!

Microwave Apple Crumble:

1 425g tin pie apples (or stewed fruit)
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
100g melted butter

Prepare as for the oven baked crumble and microwave on high power for 5 to 8 minutes. Leave to sit for a further 3 minutes, then serve, with yoghurt, cream, ice-cream, etc.

While they're both quite sweet, they both contain some pretty healthy ingredients so it's also a good way of getting your kids to eat cornflakes, oats, and fruit. You can even serve this up on a cold morning for breakfast with yoghurt...yum!

Happy cooking and happy writing...

If you try these recipes, I'd love to know what you think...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Time to Blog Hop

It's time to blog hop! Today I'm going to talk about my new project, Two Degrees, and offer a few other fantastic authors to check out. I hope you'll follow the links, and watch the blog grow, as well as follow it back. There are some great blogs to check out...

I've come to this via my very good friend, David Bowman. You can find his blog here:

Let me begin my blog hop by telling you all about my new project:

1: What is the working title of your book(s)?
The working title is Two Degrees. If you’re a New Zealander you will probably get the meaning straight away, but it’s said that there are six degrees of separation between any two people and here in New Zealand, with the population the size it is, this calculation is more like two degrees.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve had the idea for a while, but I’m pretty sure it stemmed from my actual experience years ago of picking up a hitchhiker while I was travelling between Blenheim and Christchurch. Like many of my stories, it’s been mulling around in my brain, waiting for me to put it on paper.

3: What genre does your book come under?
Surprise, surprise, it’s romance! How unusual for me…but like most of my books, this one is contemporary romance…a mainstream story which is character-driven. We all know a Kathryn…maybe we are in some ways Kathryn. She’s headstrong and determined… passionate about animals as she’s a vet. She followed her father’s vocation, but felt like she always lived in his shadow, hence the reason she lives in another city. She feels she failed her parents because her marriage didn’t work out, so now she focuses on the things she can do right.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Not sure about the female lead, but the male would have to be played by Timothy Olyphant, although by the time I get it written, he might be a little grey around the temples…hang on, he already is, and very hot for it. Did I say that out loud? Anyway, a younger version of Timothy would be perfect…

Kathryn is tall, graceful, but strong and intelligent…maybe an Uma Thurman type, but again, a little younger.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Kathryn takes on more than she bargained for when she stops for a hitchhiker.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
Bluewood Publishing will, as usual, be representing my work.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ll answer that when I finish writing it…

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Now that’s a toughie…I don’t like to compare my writing to other authors, or even other books within my genre, so I’ll compare it instead to one of my own. In story, it will be similar to Beside The Brook, in that Kathryn is a very strong-headed woman with good family roots.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As I said, the story has been in the back of my mind for some time now. Like most of my stories, the basic shell forms and doesn’t flesh out until I find the right character to fit the story. For a long time I didn’t know who Kathryn was. Just recently she has come to fruition, building every day in my mind. Little things about her become clear all the time, and I’m now at the point with her that I can start to write her story.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There’s a steamy, almost instant connection between Kathryn and her hitchhiker, Gabe. For Kathryn, it’s a daring excitement, something that doesn’t happen in her life very often, and she thinks it will be a one-time thing…in the morning they will part ways and nobody will know any different. She can let loose with Gabe, because she knows he’ll be gone the next time she turns around…obviously, fate has other ideas…

I hope you’ll take a look at my work when it comes out…I’m enjoying getting inside Kathryn’s head, and Gabe promises to be a worthy opponent…

Next on the blog hop is a fellow author who I know you’ll love, M.M. Cox. Megan has had great success with her Teen Mobster series so far, and I look forward to her future releases. You’ll find her blog here, where she’ll be blog hopping on the 1st of May:

After Megan, I hope you’ll hop over and check out Lee Murray’s guest blog at Paula Phillips’ The Phantom Paragrapher blog site. Those in New Zealand may know Lee for her children’s book, Battle of the Birds, which won Best Youth Novel in the 2012 Sir Julius Vogel awards.

I’m very fortunate to be able to work with Lee this year on her new up and coming novel, Misplaced, which I’ll let her tell you all about here on Paula’s blog, on the 15th May:

Last, but not least, my fellow author, Barbara Phipps, will be joining the blog hop on the 29th May. Like me, Barbara is new to the blogging revolution, but she has some great things to say. You can find her blog here:

Thanks for joining me on my blog's been fun!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Recently I came home from work to discover that our house had been burgled. Now we were relatively lucky. Nothing was broken and our house wasn't completely decimated, the probably local thugs were obviously on foot and not professionals as they took only what they could carry...or ride in the case of my bicycle...but they did take all our laptops.

As a writer, coming home to find your precious life lost is quite heartbreaking. I'm relatively new to the concept of backing up, especially to a virtual online device such as is the new technology available these days. Putting your precious data onto a virtual drive that you can physically pick up and take with you, seems to be literally putting it in clouds...which is why, I guess, one of the options is Cloud :)

Again, luckily, I only lost nearly two months of data. Now I've been pretty slack the last few months and haven't written much. My time has been devoted to the publishing business and getting other authors out into the world, so I guess it was quite timely in that I haven't lost anything I can't get back.

However, my message today to the writers out there who are managing to draft more than a few words a day is: Backup! In fact, don't just backup...have a backup of your backup. You just never know when your thoughts and scribblings will be gone...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fifty Shades of Romance

I want to talk about sex.

As a writer, I'm interested to know whether the sexual content of a novel sways the reader either toward, or away from, a particular author or book.

Traditional romance doesn't dictate one or the other, but with genres now stretching and blurring between the lines, there is more freedom for writers to explore their own creativity. Certainly, if you're going to write for Harlequin, then you must follow their set guidelines, which are rigid in plot conformity and word count. They have a huge readership, stretching years and generations, so they stick to this, moving with the times and extending their guidelines as they see the demand for it. Very clever. But it's not everybody's cup of tea. Especially when you've already read fifty of them before. They become a bit monotonous.

I think this is where E L James has struck it lucky. She gave women what they wanted and there was no pretense about it. The sex, or lack thereof, in Shades is appropriate to the story. That's what the story is about. You know what to expect from the get-go. Again, if it's not your cup of tea then it's not your cup of tea. Personally, I've seen more sex written in a Paullina Simons' novel and, for that matter, I wrote more sexual content in my own first novel, Riding The Hurricane, than what appears in Shades. But it's the implication and way it's handled in Shades which has the impact.

My new release, The Silver Lining, has no sex in it. The reader knows that the main characters have sex, for sure, but the actual act is not described on the page. So I'm wondering how my readers, who have already read my other novels, will react. Will they notice it's not there? Will they reach the end of the book and think, "Hey, she didn't write any sex scenes...what a let down"? Maybe if I've done it right, they won't even notice...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Editing Game

I think after several years of learning the art of writing, I'm finally mastering the art of editing. I might still have a long way to go on the actual writing process, and if anyone says they've got it down pat then I'll be impressed. Actually, thinking about it, I probably wouldn't be...I think to be good writers we must keep on learning. If we become complacent then we might as well give up the game.

When I say editing, I more specifically mean editing my own work.

Time is the key, I've decided. I've heard it before and I know that you're supposed to let your first draft go cold before you attack it, but I don't think six weeks is enough time either. My work is still pretty luke warm after six weeks. I'm still very precious about it.

I can't remember when I finished the first draft of The Silver Lining, but I do know it's been well over six months since I sent it to be published. It's been sitting, waiting patiently with other manuscripts, for another editor to have their take on it.

Now it's back in my hands, line edits and constructive criticism included and I'm thoroughly enjoying both taking in what someone else says about it, and seeing it from a completely fresh perspective. I can see all the little gaps clearly. I knew they were there and had filled some of them in, but now I know exactly what it needs to make it complete. I've even decided it needs a whole new chapter in the middle. And the creative process of editing, and seeing it meld together even better than it was before, has sparked me to begin writing again. Hallelujah!

So, that's my advice this week to any budding authors who might happen upon my blog...take your time. Yes, it's very, very exciting seeing your work come to fruition. But once your book is out there you'll be extremely lucky if you get a chance to take it back and rework it once it's published. Trust me, I've read some of my own work and thought...If only I could have another go at that.

Write on...

The Silver Lining