Thursday, January 27, 2011


In the year 1888, in Victorian England, being twenty-nine and single label you a spinster. The opportunities in life are limited to being a governess or a ladies companion. But Amelia has a dream: she wants to become a qualified teacher and work in a school.

After convincing her father to allow her to attend a women's teacher training college, her life makes a sudden dramatic turn. The plight of seven motherless children and her desire to experience a foreign land, convince her to sail to New Zealand. Once there she will marry a widower: Mr Theodore Brennan, of Tautuku Bay in the Catlins.

But when she steps onto the wharf at Port Chalmers, she finds more than she bargained for ...

And so my new novel begins.

Tautuku Bay.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Last time I posted I was the Procrastinating Writer. Since then I've been the Dithering Writer and now I'm happy to report I am the Decided Writer.

So, what does that mean?

It means that I have broken my No Diversion rule. Three years ago a germ of a story popped into my head and started me on this great adventure of writing. I've cut my teeth on that story, poured my heart and soul into it and watched it grow from a tiny idea to a three book series - rather big books at that too! And the really best part is that my writing has improved and I've learnt so much about the craft of writing.

However, three years sometimes feels like thirty and I've got stuck in a rut. The passion has faded (just a little) and the thought of rewriting a good portion of book one fails to thrill me in any shape or form. So, the new story, the one I'd put away when I wrote my last post, has been resurrected and Blackbird is taking a well earned nap. But don't worry, I certainly will not forget about it. As perhaps only a writer will understand, I love those characters. They are almost a part of me and I want their story to be told.

As I throw myself into this new project I am feeling invigorated and excited about writing again and I know I've made the right decision.

I'll tell you about the new novel in my next post, but here is a little peek that could have been lifted from Chapter Two!

The SS Ionic, Port Chalmers, 1880s.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


As I write this, hubby is outside feeding a whole tree's worth of branches through a mulcher. Very noisy. I could blame that on my failure to do any writing, but that wouldn't exactly be the truth. I have been lagging ever since I finished NaNo (way back in November) but these last few weeks have been totally barren in the writing department.

The red-winged blackbird of my novel's title. 
I think the problem is that I know I have to virtually rewrite the first half of Blackbird - my WIP, and I still have the finishing chapters to knock into shape. Then there is the matter of this new story that raised it's head whilst on holiday. I wrote the prologue and first chapter yesterday and today I guiltily got back to Blackbird.

I'm being very strict on myself. You see I'm the sort of person who starts projects and before I finish, start something new. For example, there is a small pile of unfinished quilts and wall hangings in my sewing room. But when I started writing, I promised myself that I wouldn't do that. And three years later, I've kept to it. Except for yesterday's momentary lapse.

So, new story is saved and temporarily forgotten and Blackbird is being pulled out, shaken and attacked with renewed vigour. I'll keep you updated with my progress.

One of my characters is a Shoshone Indian named Standing Eagle. I thought this was a magnificent specimen.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Last week hubby and I holidayed in the Catlins. Located on the south east coast of the South Island it is a wilderness of long golden beaches, sheer granite cliffs and great expanses of native rainforest. I loved  walking through the forest where the top canopy of podocarp trees filtered the sun and everything dripped with water. It was peaceful - the only company being Fantails flitting between the trees and Bellbirds and Tui calling overhead.

Jacks Blowhole

We filled in the days with walks to all the points of interest. We visited several magnificent waterfalls, beaches, the remains of a 170 million year old petrified forest and an intriguing blowhole. Two hundred metres from the coast, Jack's Blowhole is 55 metres deep. I could have watched the ocean thundering in for hours.

On return, I caught up with the news that New Zealand's first 'pavlova western'- Good For Nothing, is having its premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the end of this month. You can find out about them on their Facebook Page here. I posted about the movie a few months back here. I wish Mike Wallis and all at Mi Films the best of luck and great success with their venture.

Here's the trailer for the movie. It's going to be a good one! And all New Zealand made!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


It's been awhile since I've posted. I've been in total holiday mode: late nights watching movies; long lie-ins and plenty of reading. A very luxurious twist to this decadence is my eldest son's New Year Resolution. He gets up before everyone else and makes his Mum and Dad breakfast-in-bed! Now that is something I can really cope with.

I'm not into making resolutions myself. I know I'd be doomed to failure. However, I do like to think ahead and make some plans. I've let my writing holiday stretch out much longer than I intended, but my Muse has been haunting me and over the last few days and I've laid out some achievements to aim for.

Having now completed the first drafts of all three books in the trilogy, my aim this year is to get the first book ready so I can find an agent/publisher. That was my aim for last year, but in hindsight I was being a bit ambitious. Now it feels achievable.

In a few days I'm off for a week's holiday in the Catlins with hubby and when I get back I'll be diving back into Blackbird and getting it into the best shape I can.

I've also added another reading challenge for the year. This one is for Historical Fiction and I plan to read 20 books. It's being organised by Historical Tapestry. I'll keep you updated as I complete both my reading challenges.