Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I'm almost too scared to tell you about the latest developments in my writing. If you've followed my blog for the last six months, or so, you will be well aware that I've put one project away, started a new one, rehashed the new one, battled with distractions and generally been rudderless. But this last week everything has changed - I hope. (see, I'm living up to the ditherer moniker.)

I've always maintained that there is nothing more helpful than putting a distance between yourself and your newly completed work. It needs to marinate and the writer needs to have a chance at objectivity, and I believe the last six months have done that. So I pulled out the manuscript to Blackbird and bingo!

It took me less then a day to realise I needed to chuck out the first 300 pages and make what had morphed into two books, back into one. So I sat down and wrote the new first chapter and amazingly my MC Maddie popped out more formed than she ever had been and my style of writing has changed too. I'm writing in a much closer 3rd person perspective and I think it serves the story well.

Now I'm wading through the manuscript. I spent three years learning to write on this story and I wrote far too much. There are too many 'events' and a few too many characters. So I'm making great use of my literary shears: slicing off unnecessary scenes and splicing together others.

I know some writers would turn their back on the story they 'practiced' their craft on, but this is a story I care about and the characters just won't leave me alone.

I'll keep you informed of my progress. And don't worry, Amelia's Strath Taieri story is tucked away safely, but not forgotten.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Today is the last day of the school term and I'm thankful to have finally gotten to the end of it! It has been a term filled with illness, unusual busyness and hockey - which has taken over our lives: All of the family play plus hubby coaches, the eldest umpires and the youngest plays for two teams. Let it be noted that I've never played a game in my life, but I'm a really good taxi driver! Between games and practices there is only two hockey free days per week.

Now you may have an inkling as to why the blog posts have been somewhat scarce. Unfortunately the writing has suffered the same fate, but as this term draws to a close, I'm happy to report that my health is back on track and there is an easing of the busyness in sight.

One good thing about being laid up is that while I may have been too miserable to write or blog, I have read a good number of books. Here are a few that stood out as great reads:


 I thoroughly enjoyed this. It reminded me of the books I read as a teenager. A lovely long read with a cosy feel.

At ninety-eight Grace Bradley looks back on her younger days as a house maid at Riverton Manor. The Edwardian era is drawing to a close and the Great War looms. Both a romance and a mystery, it had me hooked from the first page. Interestingly, I watched the first episodes of Downton Abbey at the time I read this - a wonderful double dose of Edwardian England.

THE MERCY SELLER by Brenda Rickman Vantrease.

I picked this book up at a library sale, in a very dilapidated state. From the first paragraph, where the burning of an heretic takes place, the story grabbed me by the throat. I have since bought my own copy and also her previous book THE ILLUMINATOR, which should tell you how much I loved this.

In fifteenth century Europe, when the copying of the Bible was an act of heresy, Finn and his granddaughter, Anna, work in secret. When all she holds dear is lost to her, Anna must flee to England. Along the way she meets up with Little Bek - a disabled boy and Brother Gabriel, masquerading as a Flemish merchant.
But when she finally reaches England, her safe haven has already been breached.
As colourful as the richest tapestry, this book drew me in with wonderful depictions of the era and a multilayered story with plenty of twists to keep the pages turning.

THE GENTLEMAN POET by Kathryn Johnson.

This book opens in 1609 with a storm overtaking The Sea Venture, a sailing ship on route to Jamestown, Virginia. On board is Elizabeth Persons, a young servant girl.

Shipwrecked on the Devil's Isles (Bermuda), Elizabeth splits her day between cooking for the survivors and caring for her cantankerous mistress. Wooed by ships cook Thomas she turns to her new found friend Will Strachey for advice.
Finding the father figure she lacks, she also finds the great playwright: Shakespeare.

In a cleverly wrought story, Kathryn Johnson presents a 'what if' explanation of the writing of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Roll on holidays, where much writing and reading - in front of a roaring fire - will take place!

These reviews are part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.