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Friday, November 21st, 2008
Keep It Movin’

A recent survey done by SPARC (Sport & Recreation New Zealand) has found that around half of New Zealand adults exercise for at least half an hour a day five times a week. Their survey shows the level of exercise among adults is about the same as in 2001.

SPARC spends around 70 million dollars a year on their campaign to encourage New Zealanders to Push Play and exercise. They’re calling the survey results encouraging, yet surely that means fifty per cent of NZ adults aren’t exercising?

I heard on the radio this morning that the NZ result is better than in many overseas countries but I couldn’t find an online source to quote.

I’m in the positive fifty per cent who exercise. I find exercise a great stress reliever and feel more alert afterwards. I also use the time while I’m exercising to think about my writing and often work out plot problems. I feel horrid if I don’t exercise. I cycle, walk and run a bit. Oh, and dance when I can get away with it. As I mentioned a few days ago, the dog takes exception to my dancing! Exercise isn’t always fun. Some days I don’t feel like moving from my chair, but I do it anyway. I’m a firm believer in the use it or lose it school of thought, believing keeping mobile helps you later when you’re older. I have to think about these things you know because I don’t have any children to look after me in my old age.

I’m lucky to live in an area with a lot of walking and cycling paths. I was excited this week to see the council is extending the paved area again. The concrete should be dry and the new paths open in a few days so I can explore it to see where they go.

How are you at the exercise thing? Does your country have a similar organization to encourage people to exercise?

Thursday, November 20th, 2008
Hot Stuff with Shelley Munro

Fringe Benefits

I’m guest blogging at Jennifer’s Randon Musing today and talking about hot stuff. I’m also giving away a download of my recent release, Fringe Benefits. All you need to do is post a comment.

Here’s the link.

Shelley

Thursday, November 20th, 2008
Friends and Friendship

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Sayings about FRIENDS AND FRIENDSHIP

The theme of my current WIP is friends and friendship. I thought I’d give you friend sayings today. I also have a research-type question for you at the end and would really like your input.

1. A good friend can tell you what is the matter with you in a minute. He may not seem such a good friend after telling. ~Arthur Brisbane, “The Book of Today”

2. Being friendless taught me how to be a friend. Funny how that works. ~Colleen Wainwright, Communicatrix.

3. Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation. ~ George Washington (1732 – 1799)

4. When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. ~ Japanese Proverb

5. If you make it plain you like people, it’s hard for them to resist liking you back. ~ Lois McMaster Bujold, Diplomatic Immunity, 2002.

6. It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter. ~ Marlene Dietrich (1901 – 1992)

7. Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love. ~ Jane Austen (1775 – 1817), Northanger Abbey.

8. You don’t get to pick your own nickname. They’ve gotta give you one. It’s like we’re all tryin’ to make pets out of each other and we’re not comfortable unless we get to name ‘em. ~ Laura Moncur, Merriton.

9. It’s a lot like nature. You only have as many animals as the ecosystem can support and you only have as many friends as you can tolerate the bitching of. ~ Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 08-16-05

10. There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time. ~ Rebecca West (1892 – 1983)

11. If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair. ~ Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

12. I’ve learned that all a person has in life is family and friends. If you lose those, you have nothing, so friends are to be treasured more than anything else in the world. ~ Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park, Prehistoric Ice Man, 1999.

13. The friendship that can cease has never been real. ~ Saint Jerome (374 AD – 419 AD), Letter.

QUESTION: What qualities do you look for in a friend? What heinous crime does a friend have to commit to get booted off your friend list?

I look for a sense of humor, trust and the ability to listen when I really need them to listen. I value give and take, honesty. Anyone who is dishonest won’t find themselves with my friendship for long. I need to be able to trust a friend with my secrets and rely on them to follow through on any promises they make.

What about you?

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow…

I’ve been working hard with my writing, starting quite early in the day. I can only sit for an hour or so and try to walk around a little in between. I’ll go and get a cup of tea and do a few stretches. I’m still going through my Country music phase and had the Country station playing. A lively song came on so I started dancing instead of stretching. After a while I sensed someone staring. I turned around and our little dog had woken up from her snooze. She was out of her basket, standing beside it, and staring at me in total disapproval. We stared at each other for a long moment, silently communicating.

“You look stupid,” her look said.
My look said, “Too bad. I’m having fun.”

And I ignored her and carried on. She kept staring until I stopped and went back to writing. I could practically see her thoughts as she settled back down in her basket. I’m so embarrassed. Of all the owners in the world, why did I have to get this one!

On the web, I came across this post by agent, Holly Root. It’s about the Seven Deadly Sins of Publishing. I thought it was rather good, especially the part about each writer’s career being different and you shouldn’t compare your path to another writers.

I also found this post about Kitchen Myths and Pretensions very interesting. There were a few things I knew and I learned some new things, too.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
King’s Love Letters

I read in the New Zealand Herald today that some of King Henry VIII’s love letters, along with thousands of other Tudor and Elizabethan documents, go online this month for public viewing.

The love letters were written by the king in 1527 to the woman who became his second wife. He was still married to Catherine of Aragon at the time. He writes to Anne: “I beg to know expressly your intention touching the love between us. Necessity compels me to obtain this answer, having been more than a year wounded by the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail or find a place in your affection.”

Here’s the link. It wasn’t live when I went to look, but they say it will go live very soon.

Monday, November 17th, 2008
Birds and Bees

I’ve been going to post this for ages. It’s an ad shot in Auckland (you’ll see quick glimpses of Sky Tower and the waterfront from Mission Bay) and it’s very cute. It never fails to make me laugh.

There’s a new version of the ad playing at the moment with the daughter asking her mother where she came from. The above version flashes through the mother’s head, then she turns to her daughter and says, “Ask your father.” That makes me laugh, too. I looked for it on Youtube but it’s a bit too new at the moment.

Well, it’s back to the writing cave for me. Things are going well. If you feel inclined, tell me who told you about the birds and bees…

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
Characteristics of a Good Website

Michael Hyatt, the president and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers has an interesting blog post about websites. He ran several author websites through WebsiteGrader to see how their websites performed.

I scored an 84, which shows room for improvement. I lost marks for too many images. Mr Hyatt’s post is very interesting and concludes that a slick website doesn’t necessarily equate to more traffic.

This test made me think about the characteristics of a good website. I did a little online research and came up with the following list:

1. Good keywords – these are words that describe your site and what you do. For example I’m a romance author.

2. A simple design – nothing too complicated. Keep your page simple and on topic.

3. Easy naviagtion – don’t confuse your visitors. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.

4. Fresh content – update on a regular basis and give your readers something new to look at. Give them a reason to come back. Keep the content short and organize it.

5. The Wow factor – make your page different and original. Make it stand out from the crowd.

6. Optimized – make your website search-engine friendly by using page titles and meta tags.

How did you do with the test? Do you have author websites you return to time and time again? What keeps you going back?

Monday, November 10th, 2008
Busy Weekend: Turtles, Elections and Animals

Mr. Munro and I haven’t had such a busy weekend for ages. We’re both glad the week is here so we can have a rest.

Our night with the turtles turned out to be a lot of fun. As well as seeing turtles, we had a behind the scenes tour, watched the antics of the penguins as they stole nesting rocks from each other and sat on their eggs. We watched the stingrays being fed and wandered around looking at all the fish. I really like the fact that Kelly Tarltons focuses on New Zealand fish rather than having tanks of tropical fish. We ended up sleeping next to the seahorses. All the kids headed for the sharks and we decided we’d like to sleep!

I haven’t had a chance to download my photos yet but will post some as soon as I’m organized.

On Saturday it was our election day. Mr. Munro and I did our civic duty and voted. The polling booth was busy but very efficient, and we were in and out in ten minutes. We are both thrilled with the result and pleased with our new Prime Minister elect, John Key. Neither of us liked the way our country was going and it’s obvious that many other New Zealanders felt the same way.

On Sunday we attended the Clevedon agricultural show. I had an awesome time watching the horses perform, going around all the cattle, goats, pigs, donkeys etc and checking out the food and wine. I also had a back to childhood moment at the sideshows, lining up with the kids to have a turn shoving balls into a clowns mouth. Hey, I won a yo-yo. It’s a very cool yo-yo because it glows in the dark. I’ve decided I need a miniature donkey. They are SO cute!! I have photos from the show, too.

As well as all this excitement I managed to keep up with my daily word quota and hit the 50,000 word mark. I’m very proud of myself.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
Oldies But Goodies

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I went to town. Of course, I couldn’t resist visiting Whitcoulls. (the store I mentioned here)

While I was there, I purchased season two and three of Deadwood (my love of Deadwood and several photos of the town are here).

The shop assistant and I started talking about the Deadwood series and I told her how Mr. Munro and I had originally watched the first program of series one and were horrified by the swearing. I said how we’d visited Deadwood and decided we’d try to watch the series again. Obviously she didn’t need to know we’d fallen in love with the series this time – she could work that out for herself! But we started talking about all the old Western shows that are starting to come out on DVD. Shows like Bonanza, Petticoat Junction and Daniel Boone.

My father loved Westerns. He still does, and if Daniel Boone was on we had an early dinner then all sat down to watch it as a family. Another assistant joined the conversation and we started talking about Fess Parker who starred in Daniel Boone. She said she’d seen him on TV recently, and despite his advanced age, the man was still a hunk.

This is my long-winded way of asking what shows you enjoyed during your childhood. I liked cartoons and still do with The Flintstones and The Jetsons being some of my favorites. Doctor Who, and the daleks in particular, used to scare me silly, and Lost in Space wasn’t far behind in the scary stakes. What can I say? I’m a big wimp!

What shows do you consider oldies but goodies? And for you Doctor Who fans out there – who do you think they’ll cast as the new doctor?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Plain Wrong.

I went to my local town today to post parcels and do a few other things. A couple of the stores have Christimas trees in the windows and are in full-out Christimas advertising mode. We also have a few Christmas adverts on TV. No doubt the first of many to come.

I think it’s plain wrong to think about Christmas in early November. The year is going quickly enough as it is.

Am I the only one who thinks this way? Which date do you think Christmas promotions should officially start?