Thursday, August 26, 2010


Sometimes, despite our best intentions, life gets in the way of ... well, life!

I'm roaring towards the end of editing my manuscript then everything comes to a screeching halt. Why? you may ask.

There are several things really. First, the sun has been shining for three days and it has been warm. Warm for a Dunedin in August, anyway. The birds have come to life, it's lighter in the morning, and trees and bulbs are bursting into life. It makes me want to take in deep breaths, stare out the window, and cuddle up with a good book somewhere sunny.

Second, I have decided to home school my youngest. It's a journey we've been on before. I have home schooled all three at different times, and for one memorable year all at the same time. So I know what I'm getting in to.

I've been busy this week putting together a curriculum and completing an exemption form to release her from school. Quite a mammoth task of transactional writing!

With that behind me, I'm looking forward to getting back to my MS this afternoon. Last week I finally licked into shape a section that had refused to behave. Today I will begin a section that I haven't looked at for six months. I'm sure there will be some surprises.
Spring in Wyoming.  A common site for Maddy -  my main character.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I have just finished reading the third book in Sara Donati's  Wilderness Series.

The book opens eight years after the last and Nathaniel's half Mohawk daughter Hannah is eighteen and a doctor in training.

Determined to help an escaped slave she plunges her family into danger. Her old childhood friend, Liam Kirby shows up, only to declare himself a bounty hunter, seeking the slave.

Elizabeth and Nathaniel take to the endless forests to deliver the slave to safety, while Hannah is sent to the Kine-Pox Institution in New York in order to learn how to vaccinate the village from small-pox.

A wonderful blend of historical detail and rollicking adventure ensue, coming to a wonderful ending that involves the appearance of a strong, persuasive Mohawk, by the name of Strikes-the Sky.

It took me a few chapters to really get into this book. I think because so much time had passed and many things had changed. The biggest was Hannah being grown up and a greater emphasis on her character. However it didn't take long to be swept in to the adventure and I found it a hard book to put down. I especially enjoyed the historical detail of Hannah's training as a doctor.

Book four is waiting on the shelf, but I'll try to read two or three smaller books from my tottering To Be Read Pile first.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pavlova Westerns

Westerns made in Italy are called Spaghetti Westerns, Japanese Westerns are called Sushi Westerns, so a New Zealand Western had to be a Pavlova Western.

Check out the progress of Dunedin Director, Mike Wallis' western, filmed in Central Otago here.
There you will find a clip from Friday's Close Up, that says it all much better than I can.

It's due for release next year and I can't wait to see it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My First Fantasy Read

I've always been an avid reader. Over the years I've devoured the horrors of Stephen King, the cosy romances of Rosamunde Pilcher, got totally absorbed in the historical tomes of Sharon K Penman and chewed through any historical that covers the US, or Britain, with a particular leaning towards war stories. Oh and I have recently sampled crime: the wonderfully gutsy stories of Sam Shepherd by Vanda Symons.

There is of course something missing here. Something that one of the members of my critique group (Mad Scribblers) writes and reads voraciously. FANTASY!

Feeling just a little skeptical, I turned the first page of Juliet Marillier's Heart's Blood and found I couldn't put it down. Rather a dark take on Beauty and the Beast, the story is set in Ireland sometime in the Middle Ages. It had me hooked from the very beginning and never let up until the perfect ending.

So I offer a challenge to all who read this: Try a genre you've never read before. You just might be surprised.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Still Working

Red Winged Blackbird - North America

It's a while since I've spoken about Blackbird (my WIP), but don't worry, it's still there and I'm still working on it.

The nice picture at the top is the type of blackbird my book is named for.

A couple of other writers have blogged about "the lion in the corner" or "the beast in the writing room". Mine's a very sneaky little thing that changes its colours, or spots, at regular intervals. A Shapeshifter. It's lurking around the last 150 pages of my MS and creating havoc.

Every day there is something new to address. It might be a paragraph that refuses to behave, or a protaganist that insists on acting out of character. A chapter may even decide it really belongs in another book!

Then there are those pesky words that we love to use and really shouldn't. My Beta reader has read through the first half of my MS and informs me that my characters are always 'turning' or 'standing'. I did a word search and she's right. 263 'turns' in the whole MS. Hmmm, work needed here. Now of course every time I go to write those words alarms ring in my head. Which is, of course, a very good thing.

I've set myself another deadline to finish the editing: the end of this school term - 7 weeks. Let's hope I achieve this one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


One of the reviews on the back cover says it all: She melds horror and beauty in a story that will disturb the mind forever.

Definitely not a cosy read, yet I found it compelling. She leaps right into the guts of the story and for the first 40 odd pages it was hard going, then I couldn't put it down.

Sethe, along with her three children are finally free. She has escaped, without her husband, to the safety of her mother-in-law's home. After a few idyllic weeks, the white people come for her. In an horrific moment, Sethe would rather her children die than become slaves and she kills her child - Beloved.

With hauntingly beautiful prose Toni Morrison tells the story of Sethe and her family, including her daughter Beloved - who returns to claim her retribution.

It's a story that confronts you with the horror of slavery and I was left with many powerful images: of mothers who lose the ability to love because their babies belong to their masters, of white men who have become 'filled with the same jungle' that they fear in their slaves, and the human spirit which can conquer all with love.