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Archive for August, 2009

New Zealand: Queenstown.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

This is a view of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and the surrounding town of Queenstown. It was formerly a gold rush town. These days it’s a tourist mecca during both summer and winter. It’s a beautiful place no matter what the time of year.

Books that mention Queenstown: Assassin, Cat and Mouse

Don’t forget to enter my contest to guess how many books I will read during my holiday. Go here for details.

New Zealand: Auckland

Auckland Harbor Bridge

This is Westhaven marina and the Auckland Harbor bridge that links the city of Auckland with North Auckland.

Books that mention Auckland: Playing to Win, Summer in the City of Sails

Don’t forget to enter my contest to guess how many books I will read during my holiday. Go here for details.

New Zealand: Rotorua

Champagne Pool, Rotorua

This is a photo of the Champagne pool at the Waiotapu Thermal park, near Rotorua. It was difficult to photograph on the day we visited because the wind kept blowing the steam over the pool, obscuring the palette of colors.

Books that mention Rotorua: Never Send a Dog to do a Woman’s Job, Playing to Win.

Don’t forget to enter my contest to guess how many books I will read during my holiday. Go here for details.

Contest: How Many Books?

I’m jetting off on holiday for fourteen days to Singapore and Phuket in Thailand. During my holiday I intend to spend at least some of my time catching up on my reading.

I have my e-reader loaded up with dozens and dozens of books. Definitely more than I can read in this time. I thought I could make a fun contest out of this. Guess how many books I read during my holiday and go into a draw to win one of my print books. I also have a few other things I’ll slip into the package such as pens and post-it notes.

I’m a fast reader.
I’ve read 158 books during the year to date.
The books vary in length and genre.
I intend to read short stories, novellas and long novels.
I intend to spend time swimming, shopping and sightseeing so deduct reading time from this.

Put your best guess in the comments section of this post. Both readers and authors are eligible to enter. Only one guess per person. In the event of more than one person guessing the correct number I’ll do a random drawing. The winner will be notified shortly after my return home.

How many books will I read during my fourteen-day holiday?

Conference Report

It was a weird sort of a weekend for me. I attended the conference, but I have to admit I had trouble focusing on what the speakers were saying because of the personal stuff going on in our lives. I did, however, have a couple of real lightbulb moments – thank you Fiona Brand and Mary Theresa Hussey – and I think that once I return from holiday, it will be with renewed energy and inspiration for my writing.

I attended an early morning talk with agent Melissa Jeglinski from the Knight Agency. They read the first pages of manuscripts and she stopped them when she reached the point where she’d make a decision. The following is a summary of her dos and don’ts. For you experienced writers out there this is probably commonsense to you, but a reminder never hurts!

1. Don’t start your manuscript with a one-sided conversation. i.e. phone call. You’re wasting an opportunity to use characterization through dialogue.

2. It’s good to make the reader want more. i.e. intrigue them but don’t throw everything and the kitchen sink into that first page.

3. Add characterization rather than too much backstory. i.e. have your characters make an appearance early rather than giving lots of narrative first up.

4. Sentence length – don’t make those opening sentences too long and convoluted. You want the reader/agent/editor to understand the sentence. If they have to read it twice you have a problem.

5. You need a coherent flow of dialogue and narration. Don’t have all dialogue and no narration at the start of your story. Make the dialogue meaningful.

6. Don’t feel the need to give a detailed description of clothes etc in that first page. One or two details are fine but don’t describe everything in minute detail.

In a talk about Harlequin and the various lines editor Mary Theresa Hussey gave us a list of points that the editors use when they’re reading a submission.

1. Are the opening and closing lines strong? i.e. it’s that hook thing. Use strong hooks!

2. Do the characters make decisions? i.e. are they active rather than sitting back and letting things happen.

3. Do the conflicts come across as strong and interesting?

4. Are the characters compelling?

5. Does the story start in the right place? i.e don’t be tempted to slide in all that back story!

6. Do you want to read on?

If they can answer yes to all these questions, your manuscript is in good shape.

Mary Thesesa also mentioned that the Harlequin Intrigue line and the Harlequin Presents line are definitely looking for new authors, so if you’re interested in either of these lines get writing!

And two final things: If you’re interested in the new Harlequin YA line check out the prequel for Rachel Vincent’s debut story. You can download your free copy here.

Harlequin do regular podcasts that can be downloaded at this link or at iTunes. There are some additional ones coming any day now so keep checking back. The existing podcasts include editor inside information and interviews with authors.

Super Humans

Recently I watched the FBI drama Eleventh Hour and the episode dealt with super soldiers. In a coincidence, I’m reading the second book in Bianca D’Arc’s Resonance Mates series. (You know the one I mentioned in yesterday’s post—the one I don’t have time to read!) The series is about the Alvian race who takes over Earth. The only humans who survive the attacks are the ones with psychic gifts. The Alvians have taken genetics to the max and have no emotions. Anyone with emotions is suspect and the few remaining humans are subjected to experiments, some of which are horrid. Ms D’Arc writes a great book with awesome world building.

Nalini Singh’s Psy series also deals with something similar- the Psy race have managed to cancel out all emotions in order to make a “perfect” life.

In fiction I can live with this scenario, although I’m not sure I understand the drive behind a race seeking the perfect being. My personal opinion is that disease etc is nature’s way of limiting population. Emotions, both good and bad, bring color to life.

Anyhow, my question is do you think a super or perfect person is a good thing? Does anyone have any recommendations for sci-fi romances in a similar vein?

I have a guest spot at coco & kelley about travel. This blog is a new discovery for me and I enjoy my visits there, indulging my love of pretty clothes, interior decorating and the like. Here’s the link.

Random Happenings

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Random Things about My Week

1. Only six sleeps to go until my holiday.

2. The wind has howled this week, making it precarious to cycle. I HAD to go outside because I was getting cabin fever and almost got blown off my bike.

3. The wee dog has perked up a lot with her new medication. She seems much brighter and came to me asking for more food today. I gave her more food.

4. I went to a chat at Writerspace yesterday and heard about Bianca D’Arc’s new release, Grady’s Awakening. It sounded so fascinating that I went and purchased the first book in the series, Hara’s Legacy straight away, despite having hundreds of books on my to-read pile and many things to do. It was an excellent sci-fi romance with very good world building. It was also hot and spicy. I’m pondering book two. Should I?

5. The Romance Writers of New Zealand conference is this weekend. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

6. I totally kicked hubby’s butt and beat his score at snowboarding on the Wii Fit. Maybe I’ll hide the controls so he can’t try to beat me again. My little Mii figure and I celebrated with a sexy hip swivel and a cheer on my part.

7. I haven’t started packing yet for my holiday and need to at least think about it.

8. Online promotion takes a lot of time! This week I’ve done blog posts, corresponded with other authors re a new promo idea, sent off an interview, gone to a chat and done a hundred other things with not much to show for all my work. I still have a blog post to go. Selena, it’s coming!

9. I finished going over a contemporary story and sent it off to two ladies at Romance Divas for a beta read before I do my last changes and send the story to my final beta reader. Can you tell this story has given me problems?

10. I’ve craved sweet things all week and mostly managed to ignore the craving. I can indulge on holiday after all.

11. I received a new cover for House of the Cat. (see post below) It’s very pretty and sexy.

12. I need to vacuum clean. Hmm, maybe a brisk carpet sweep will do the trick?

13. I’ve sent off a query for a short contemporary story, and I’m currently working on a story for Nocturne Briefs, one I started a few months ago and didn’t finish.

How was your week?

Make My Muffins Blue

I went off to my favorite café today, armed with my writing notes, and ordered a latte and a blueberry muffin. I love blueberries. They taste good and I hear they’re full of healthy stuff. But here’s the thing. How can a café call a muffin blueberry if it doesn’t contain blueberries?

Last time I had a muffin I complained. I marched up to the counter and shoved my muffin at the counter staff. It didn’t contain a single blueberry and they gave me a replacement. Today’s muffin had three blueberries. I counted.


I’m thinking this is a sign from above telling me not to eat blueberry muffins, but really, don’t you think a blueberry muffin should contain more than three tiny blueberries?

What say you? Do you think there should be a specified number of blueberries in a blueberry muffin? How many blueberries are the ideal number?

In Trouble Again….

Yes, it’s true. I did a bad, bad thing…according to hubby. He arrived home from golf and spoke to me in a very stern manner.

My transgression?


My sock sorting skills are below par. To his horror I matched a plain brown sock with a different brown sock that bore a dark brown pattern on one side. And even worse, he didn’t notice until he was at golf in a public place.


Personally I thought it was funny, and at a quick glance they did look the same. I have put on two different shoes when I’ve been half asleep and in a hurry to get to work. Luckily I noticed before I walked out the door.

Have you done something like this? Have you left the house in an unmatched state?

Hello? Anybody There?

Camera Critters

Goat, Clevedon Show, NZ

I took this photo at our local Agricultural show. This goat was patiently waiting its turn for judging.

To visit more Camera Critters go here.

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