Wednesday, October 26, 2011


As promised here's a post about my trip to Arrowtown with my hubby.

We set off very early last Monday morning with daughter's camp gear squashed into the back of my wee car. By mid morning we had left her at her second home - Pukerau Christian camp.

We drove up from Gore through rolling green farm land to Kingston. Tucked in under mountains at the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu, Kingston is a tiny town where the Kingston Flyer resides. At present the steam train is out of use and in the hands of new owners. Hopefully it will be up and running again soon. Several years ago we took the family on the restored train on its roundtrip to Garston.  A 20 minute trip if I remember rightly. New Zealand readers might remember the role the train had in the Cadbury's Crunchie Bar adds.  A very western style add with gun-brandishing outlaws!! One of my favourites, of course.

The shore of Lake Wakatipu - Kingston

By the time we arrived in Queenstown the weather had closed in. We ducked between shops trying to avoid the rain. It's almost ten years since I last visited and I was amazed at how large this town has become. In my younger days it was a quiet holiday town. Now it is the adventure capital of New Zealand and even has its own international airport.

A short drive from Queenstown had us in Arrowtown; cold and wet. After settling in to our accommodation we searched out a nice place for dinner. We ate at an old converted stable in the middle of this picturesque little village.

The Stables - built by Bendix Hallenstein in 1873.

I love how this little town, foundered on the discovery of gold in the 1860's, retains its frontier look. Here's some photos. Imagine there's no cars, add a few horses, a wagon or two, perhaps a lady in a bonnet and a long dress ...

The next morning brought torrential rain and after a virtually sleepless night, due to a bed which I'm sure was made from lumps of concrete, we decided to return home. So our holiday was cut in half, but it was  refreshing to get away and revisit some interesting and beautiful places. Here's a few more pictures.

Several cottages in Arrowtown built in the 1870s.

A little house close to the restored Chinese Settlement. This place tugs at something deep inside.  I've a feeling it's going to feature in a future story!

On the way back home we went off the beaten track to visit The Lonely Graves. Before I took this photo a Magpie dive bombed me and tried to take off with my hood - he failed!

Last year I wrote a story about these graves. You can read it here.

With summer just around the corner, I'm going to have to organise a few more of these excursions. I'll need to pray for soft beds and no rain first!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I can't quite believe that the first week of the school holidays is over. It only seems a moment ago that I was waiting for them to start!

On the writing front, things are ticking along nicely. My short story is finally finished and I handed it in for judging on Wednesday. I found writing in a completely different genre a real challenge. It required me to change my usual writing style, both sentence structure and choice of words.  I feel like I've had a vigorous workout and have given myself a few days off!

Recently I had some in depth and really helpful feedback on my novel, Blackbird. It's given me much needed inspiration and I'm looking forward to getting back into the thick of it.

On the domestic front, hubby and I are taking off for a few days. On Monday we're dropping our youngest at a camp near Gore then heading off to Arrowtown via Kingston and Queenstown. It's been almost 10 years since I have been up that way and I'm so excited. Central Otago is one of my favourite places in the world. I'm hoping that tripping around and visiting the cemeteries and museums will inspire some historical stories.

I'll tell you about our travels when we get back.

In the meantime, here's some photos of our Kowhai trees, which have just burst into flower. For my overseas readers Kowhai is the Maori word for yellow and is pronounced - ko (rhymes with no) , phi (rhymes with high). The flowers attract many native birds especially the Tui with its little white throat. We're fortunate to have several of them living close by.

A Tui, but not from my camera

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Today I'm pleased to welcome Elisabeth Grace Foley on the fourth stop of her blog tour. 
Her first eBook THE RANCH NEXT DOOR AND OTHER STORIES -  an anthology of western stories - is available at Smashwords and Amazon for US$2.99. It's a great read with wonderful characters and story lines that stay with you long after you've read the last word. You can read my review here. 

Elisabeth is a young writer (21) who lives in the north east of USA. Today she is going to tell us what inspired her to write westerns. 

I first got acquainted with Westerns in the same way many people probably havethrough film and TV. My dad always liked Westerns, and as a little girl I spent many weekend afternoons watching John Wayne movies and classic TV shows like Bonanza with him. I was also a thoroughly horse-crazy kid, so the presence of so many horses in Westerns was probably a big attraction.

Oddly enough, my introduction to Western literature came by way of Roy Rogers. One of Roy’s early films, The Border Legion (a.k.a. West of the Badlands) was apparently based (very, very loosely) on a novel by Zane Grey. I’d enjoyed the movie and decided to look up the book.

Well, I never did end up reading The Border Legion, but I began with The Light of Western Stars and went through about a dozen more books by Zane Grey. His often melodramatic novels of romance and adventure were a new reading experience for me. But I think it was the West, rather than the flowery prose, that had me hooked. From there I moved on to other classic Western authors, a variety of styles among themLouis L’Amour, Max Brand, B.M. Bower and others.

Somewhere during this time my own interest in writing resurfaced. I’d been writing stories for most of my life, and occasionally talked about getting published someday, but all of that had taken a back seat for a while during my teens while I studied music. I got back into writing by participating in National Novel Writing Month a couple of times. And my lifelong interest in history also experienced a resurgence. History had always been my favorite school subject, and the more I read the more it fascinated me. To me, the American West represents a fantastic opportunity for the historical fiction writer, because there’s such a wealth of material to draw on. So many different settings, climates, people and events—plenty of factual inspiration, and also plenty of room to let your imagination go to work with your own fictional creations.

I’ve started small and simply with this collection, but I put a lot of love and hard work into each of the stories. I hope I can take what I’ve learned in writing them and go on to more ambitious projects in the future. It’s exciting to think about all the stories that are just waiting to be written.

Thanks for sharing with us Elisabeth.
You can visit her blog The Second Sentence here.

Monday, October 10, 2011


As an addition to my previous post, here are the details to Elisabeth Grace Foley's blog tour for the launch of her book: The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories.

Today:  Elisabeth will be at  Writing With Style sharing how she got her inspiration for the story The Ranch Next Door and a giveaway of her book.

Wednesday: An author's spotlight at Meg Mim's blog and a guest post on editing at K.M.Weiland's Wordplay.

Thursday: Here with me to talk about what influences her to write in the western genre.

Friday: An interview and giveaway at Writing at High Altitude.

I hope you can hop over to these blogs. One thing I like about blog tours is that apart from the author interviews and giveaways, which are always fun and informative, it's a chance to explore some different blogs.

Well, I'm off now to add the final scene to my short story. The competition closes on Wednesday night. I think, despite my annoying health issues, that I will get there. Phew!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Earlier this week, this collection of western short stories was launched by Elisabeth Grace Foley. I have been a regular follower of her blog The Second Sentence for over a year now and it is a great pleasure to be able to review her first venture into the world of ePublishing.

There are seven stories in this collection, all set on the prairies of the American west. The collection opens with 'The Ranch Next Door', a story reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. The Spencers are cattlemen and the Ryans are sheepherders; never a good mix. So what happens when a Spencer falls in love with a Ryan?

'Disturbing The Peace' came next with a more reflective tone, followed by 'Cross My Heart' that had me holding my breath as the tension built.

'A Rangleand Renaissance' is my favourite. Old man Patton, an irascible old crone, has his granddaughter wrapped around his finger, he's even interfering with her courting! But are things as they seem? Elisabeth's prose shone in this story. Old man Patton leapt of the page fully formed, with absolutely spot on dialogue.

'The Outlaw's Wife' was riveting, with a wonderful twist at the end that I just didn't see coming and 'Delayed Deposit' was a fine end to a great anthology.

These stories are packed with cowboys and outlaws, yet beyond the high stakes and adventure there is a quiet, thought provoking quest for justice and integrity. These stories linger after the last word is read, which, to me, is the sign of a great writer.

'The Ranch Next Door' can be purchased at Amazon or  Smashwords for US $2.99.

And join me on Thursday 13th of October when I will be hosting a guest blog with Elisabeth Grace Foley, where she will be discussing why she writes westerns.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It's sometimes hard to come up with a blog when not much has been happening. I'm getting over the last of the shingles, which have left me with an insatiable need to sleep! the weather is bouncing between glorious warm sunshine and cold overcast drabness, and I'm still grappling with the first three chapters of my novel - with a modicum of success. So really I have nothing awe inspiring or exciting to report.

Have I read some good books? Yes, definitely, but nothing I feel like reviewing - yawn - I need more sleep.

What about telly?  Well I did watch a doco about three men in a boat in Scotland. I enjoyed that and it rekindled my desire to travel there. A bit of a problem about all the boat rides to the islands though. Not sure I like the idea of little planes either.

Movies? I enjoyed one on the telly the other day. Can't remember the title - what does that tell you?

Oh, a light bulb flash! I watched Young Victoria on Sunday evening. Now that was wonderful. What really intrigued me was her succession to the throne. I always assumed she was the daughter of a king, but not so. This movie really highlighted my ignorance of the monarchy over this period. I know an awful lot about the Tudors - can't avoid them really, can we? Then, thanks to the superb writings of Sharon Penman, I have some knowledge of the Middle Ages, but the Regency? My knowledge of that era begins and ends with what I've gleaned from Jane Austen, and if you know her work then you know that the monarchy gets barely a mention. Well, not that I noticed anyway.

So, there you go. A glimpse into the not very exciting life of an aspiring novelist. I'll think I'll go take another nap now.  I'll just find a pretty picture for you first :)

Victoria and Albert - Quite the handsome couple aren't they?