Monday, November 23, 2009

Waikato writers Christmas

This last weekend went to  my first Christmas party of the season. And with it the realisation that Christmas and the new year is just around the corner.

And wonder of wonders it was warm and sunny. When a group of writers get together you can guarantee a good time had by all. Lots of laughter, warm compassionate 500 word Christmas stories, that ranged from the hillarious to the tender and brought many a tear to the eye.

As a fun activity, we formed groups and re-enacted some of the great love stories in history giving them a modern day twist.

I'm sure Shakespeare would have appreciated out efforts to translate Romeo and Juliet and Mark Antony and Cleopatra into modern day usage. It was a laugh a minute.

Although, being a little old school, where **** language was considered woolshed language, and not fit for polite society, I confess to being a tad uncomfortable with modern day lingo. The teachers in the group explained this was normal playground vernacular, and I find that quite sad.

It's adding to what many refer to as the 'bastardisation' of English. It is a great pity that so many of our young ones have lost the art of writing a clear message or being able to comprehend written English.

The English language has always had a fascination for me, one I get great joy from in my writing.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shirley Wine -The Wine Press-: The Wonderful World of cyberspace

The Wonderful World of cyberspace

It's a brave new world we live in. With the click of a few buttons we can connect to anyone anywhere on the planet. Something that only a few short decades ago would have been considered in the realms of science fiction.

In one way this is quite scary.

What our parents deemed as fiction and never likely to happen is now an acceptable part of daily life. My sister-in-law and I were having a chuckle about this a few days ago. When we were teens we thought it a scream imagining being able to answer the telephone and see the  person on the other end.  We dreamed up all sorts of scenarios to just hopping out of the bath to -horror-of-horrors- being caught with out hair in rollers! Well guess what? Our flights of hilarity are so close to the truth it's not even funny anymore!

So why does this scare me? Well when I look at all the books being written about vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters etc etc I wonder if these fantasies will also come to pass. In this day of genetic engineering one would have to be very brave to say, "It ain't never going to happen!"

What's the old adage? Be careful what you wish for it may just happen!

What sparked this trip into fantasy land. The last few weeks I've been beavering away building a webpage. Jem and Gracie and their Three Bears Method is a brilliant tutorial.  Everything is explained in non techno language that even I can understand.

And this is saying something from someone who has never mastered the art of a video player!!!

Do come and visit  and see my efforts at cyberfun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time management

This is an important tool for wtiters especially if you also want to have a life and don't have the inclination to leave your warm bed very early on cold mornings.

I've heard other writers discuss this and everyone seems to have a different way of best utilising their time. And I guess every one has to find what works best for them.

I prefer to write in the evenings.

My husband does love his telly so while he's busy watching the box I'm spending a few hours tapping away at a keyboard and creating another world.

Escapism? For sure. But everyone needs some form of escapism or we would go crazy.

 Another reason the evenings work well for me is it helps me unwind after a busy day at work. Also when it's dark I don't have the garden to distract me. The garden is a siren song for me. I see one weed that needs twitching and before I know it, I've embarked on some major chore. I just love to get my hands in the soil.

Once a few years ago a friend suggested that as I always had dirty hands I would love potting. Uggg!!! I could not abide the feel of all that slippery clay on my hands and under my fingernails. Garden dirt is completely different but said friend couldn't understand my aversion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spring Fever

Spring is in the air, the days are longer, the sun is warmer and the growth is bursting out all over.

Not for me is the garden with a few spikes of green in a bed of stones.

I love the changing face of the seasons and enjoying to the full nature's bounty. And while I ensure the garden is easily maintained its constant state of change is a delight. This past winter has been hard and plants that have stood bravely in past winters are now dead stumps. Hardest hit have been the native coprosmas.

All the early bulbs have finished, the daffodils, freesias whose delicate fragile blooms stand bravely in the face of wind and rain.

Now it's the turn of the blowsy flowers to take the stage, the Azaleas, lavender clematis, snowball tree, rhododendrons, apple blossom and this year the lilac. I am blessed with one of the old fashioned hedonistically scented lilacs in my garden. It suckers like crazy but man hasn't interfered with its God-given perfume.

When these flowers finish it's the turn of the roses. In this district we are so fortunate to be able to take pleasure in the changing seasons.

In the vege garden the last of the winter veges are giving way to spring growth of summer crops. There is little to choose from for fresh food and it's easy to see why in times past more people died of starvation at this time of the year than at any other time. 

It never ceases to amaze me that the people who frequent food banks have large areas of ground where with a little effort they could grow enough food to feed their families.

Oh well it seems the fable of The Little Red Hen is well and truly alive!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Computer Literacy

I've been really pushed, intellectually, in creating a website. It hasn't taken too much effort to follow the web creation course lectures. Jem and Gracie are such great teachers and so patient. I would recommend their Three Bears Method of web creation to anyone.

I ran into problems publishing the trial page on the web and that really showed me where to turn for help. Jem's instructions were explicit and the webhosting help desk was briliiant. So between the three of us I finally achieved success. It just goes to show you can teach old dogs new tricks.

I can't say the same for my computer technician. He more or less told me I was on my own because I didn't get him to do it for me, at humungeous cost!

Today's young ones are born knowing how to do all this techno stuff, it takes us older people a concentrated effort to acheive the same results. When we were children computers, websites,emails and all the other technogadgets were in the realms of science fiction.

How times have changed.

I always remember my father telling me that when he was a boy he used to read fantasy like Jules Verne's Twentythousand Leagues Under The Sea and he lived long enough to see fantasy become reality.  It's an eerie sensation to realise that the fantasy we imagined as children, like phones where wecould see the people calling us, are now realities.

Will our children and great grandchildren see their fantasies live to become reality?  

It's enough to boggle the most sanguine mind.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Waikato Writer's Group meeting; Fat Pigeon Cafe: Ana Namu life coach.

What a fantastic meeting! Anu Namu was great and I've come home inspired to give my characters a good talking to. I've been mulling over her techniques and can see that they have a very useful place when your character's don't want to co-operate. And boy do my characters ever have a mind of their own! They demand that I tell their story not what I, the poor humble author thinks should be their story!

Writing sure highlights your prejudices, foibles and eccentricities.

I had a wonderful time staying over night with Jenny and Pete, thanks so much guys. I was too tired to face the journey home. Loved your shop Jenny. Your organisation puts mine to shame!   

The group congregated at The Fat Pigeon in Pio Pio for lunch. What a fantastic cafe. The food was sublime although I was a little startled to ask for two mussel fritters (my absolute favourite food group) and I was served two plates! Oh well! They boxed the second meal and I enjoyed it that evening.

It is many years since I've visited the small King Country town and I was suitably impressed. The artwork, the shops, The Village Green all show that small town New Zealand not only thrives, it's forward looking and embraces change.
It was great to catch up with all the girls in our writing group and hear where they are at with their works in progress. The energy created by these meetings keeps me inspired for the lonely work during the month.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dreams and Progress

      My characters have taken on a life of their own and are making their presence felt in both my waking and sleeping moments. My hero and his troubled heroine are haunting my dreams.
      I've always had this terrible dream of eyes watching me through something resembling a letter slot.
      As far back as I can remember I've woken in a cold sweat trembling with fear when I have this dream so it was a very small stretch to have a heroine haunted by a recurring nightmare.
    Couple this with an accident and a loss of memory and a hero who has vowed to never trust another woman and there is a volatile mix of emotions.
     Now that I've started, and this one has been simmering in my mind for many years, it's cathartic to write it down.
     Will it fix my recurring nightmare?
     Only time will tell. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Writing Progress

    The book challenge has become more than a little challenging.  After having a mini break away and then coming back to the backlog of work that always seems to accumulate when the boss is away it's been a tough couple of days to even plug in the laptop.
    Add to that characters who refuse to co-operate make for slow progress. The trouble is I dreamed the ending of the book in glorious technicolour so the middle meaty bit needs to work out all the nuts and bolts as it progresses to make the ending have the punch it needs.
    For the first time I have an amnesiatic heroine and it's taxing to make it credible.
   Writing I've decided is like real estate. In real estate it's location, location, location. With writing it's motivation, motivation, motivation.
    If the motivation is right, and you  delve into your characters psyche, the story has punch and verve.
    For me, as the author, motivation is the key.
    Both in setting and keeping up with goals as well as sending work out into the big wide world.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dargaville-- Small town New Zealand

    My visit to the no so winterless north included a fisrt for me. A visit to  Dargaville and the Kaipara.
    I found it both interesting and informative and was impressed by the enormous size of the Wairoa River that feeds into the upper Kaipara Harbour.
    Dargaville, like many small country towns is facing challenges in these tough economic times but despite this there was an air of prosperity and an atmosphere of warm friendliness. Every shop we visited was staffed by cheerful, helpful people only too keen to point out to strangers the most interesting places to see and visit.
    Most evident was the pride in the local people from the clock maker making beautiful clocks out of centuries old kauri logs pulled from the swamps, to the local bakery making traditional Dalmatian cakes.
    The locals displayed an endearing fondness for the Dalmation settlers of old who wrested a living harvesting kauri gum from the swamps that are now lush fertile dairy plains.
    On my list of things to do before the grim reaper calls is to take a cruise on the mighty Kaipara Harbour. The biggest harbour in our waterways the fleeting glimpse road travel gave me makes me keen to go back and explore it in the traditional way of old, by boat.
      Every landing on the river also came equipped with a warning to marine users to notify the Coast Guard before attempting to cross the bar into the open sea, a grim reminder of all the people who have perished in times past crossing a deadly West Coast Bar.
    And no visit to the Kaipara would be complete without buying a bag of kumera to take home and enjoy the harvest of the soil. The kumera is huge business in the area and we were amused to see a huge tin kumera as a roadside stall.
   An entertaining place to visit and one I certainly would like to return and explore more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Whangarei --- a city of surprises

   I've been fortunate to take a mini break in Whangarei with my husband. We sold a lovely deco sideboard to a lady from there and decided to take an extra day with our days off and spend a couple of nights there. What an interesting city.
    Always before I've been on my way to somewhere not as a destination in itself.
    I can't resist secondhand shops and found a few interesting ones and true to form took a van load back home for our shop. I've always found the best buys out of other people's shops.
    We spent an enjoyable few hours in Clapham's Clock Museum at the town basin. What an amazing collection. Mr Clapham gifted his collection of four hundred clocks to the city and they have added to the collection and now have over 1800 clocks. It is the biggest clock museum in the Southern Hemisphere and is well worth a visit if you are ever in Whangarei.
    Mr Clapham had a great sense of humour and all his clocks had to do something else besides tell the time. One clock was a nineteenth century Blackberry. You put chips in the top when you had appointments due and at the given time it would chime and deposit your chip to remind you. Nothing short of ingenious!
     And the clock made of Meccano that told the time, day, month, year, tide, leap year, and phase of the moon. But it didn't tell you when to wash your socks!!
     There are two examples of bird clocks, as seen on last weeks BBC Antiques roadshow.  And one of the first Juke boxes, a fabulous coin operated music box, complete with the huge music discs, that operated on board one of the paddle ferries as it plied between Whangarei, Waiheke Island and Auckland and Coromandel. As well as a genuine Hickory Dickory Dock Clock complete with mouse.
   A piece of living history. Everything in the museum works and the pieces range from Disney watch clicks to an early seventeen hundred Dutch tower clocks to French Ormulu timepieces that would comfortably grace the Royal Palace at Versailles or the Queen's drawing room at Buckingham Palace.
    The cuckoo clocks are amazing but the clock that caught my eye was a hand carved Black Forest Clock that had a monk tolling the bell for prayers at a monastry.
    One other Black Forest Clock with two Scots Pipers piping the hours carves a s a special tribute to The Scots regiment that saved a town from Napolean's Army.
     The City itself was a study in contrasts. Old heritage shops on the wharf and basin to the tree clad roads in the heart of town. Fabulous sea views from cliff top perches to driveways that made you dizzy just seeing the angle of them from the road.
    A place I'd return to any time

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Kauri Tree has Fallen in the forest

It is a very sad day for all new Zealanders today with the passing of Sir Howard Morrison.

A great man, a wonderful entertainer, and an inspiration to the nation.


Monday, September 21, 2009

The ultimate recycler

Its been an interesting day. I had several poeple bring me in their treasures. It never ceases to suprise me what people collect and what people have tucked in cupboards.
One gentleman whose wife died several years ago is moving house and he brought me in several boxes of treasures. It amazes me how much tastes change and yet how much they stay the same. He had a lovely Carltonware coffee set from the seventies, you know the ones tall pots, honey brown with circular bands around the base decorated with sunflowers.
For those of us who have lived through the retro era we do not want to revisit it in any shape or form. athe young twenty somethings are a different breed.
They think retro is so cool. If you are into retro my shop has some very nice examples at the moment.
My writing is progressing nicely. Have decided to let my characters talk a little more even if it means trimming other things a litte.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Writing project

Today is a red letter day...sort of. I finished my book but then all the minor characters are clammering at me to have their say.
I must confess that when I first wrote this book I envisaged it being a much longer book. Not a short category romance. As it has yet to see the light of day with a publisher I'm considering adding the extra layers that take it from a good small read to a multilayered one.

Not an easy decision but one that's yammering on my subconscious harder by the hour.

Or perhaps my trouble is I love my characters so much I don't want to say goodbye.

Now I have to seriously consider a title. Bookends LLC had a neat blog on titles that is worth reading. So I want something short and catchy.

All blacks beat the Aussies

It was great to see the Allblacks beat our arch rivals The Wallabies in the third test last night. With Richie McCaw and Dan Carter back on board it was a great showing by the boys.

It just goes to show that for writers heros are everywhere.
Even when they're muddy and sweaty at the end of a game those fifteen guys look awesome. Mils Muliaina, I adore that name, it rolls off your tongue like warm chocolate, and Joe Rokocoko and Ma'a Nonu are all great favourites of mine.

 Back to writing, after long hours of concentrated editing and polishing I now have my lastest manuscript almost ready to send off. Another few hours and a quiet read through to pick up any hitches and I think....I only think mind.. it might be okay.

Have just been heartened to read a quote from Dame Lynley Dodd: "A good writer is never satisfied by second best. Writing children's books is not easy"
No writing is easy, it's a writer's skill that makes it appear easy. How many people have read a book and said "I can do that!"
And how many of those manuscripts are languishing in bottom drawers.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Favourite Quotation

Procrastination is not only a thief of time it is a thief of self-respect also
Had an interesting afternoon with our monthly writing group meeting, the Waikato/Bay of Plenty branch of the Romance Writers of New Zealand.

Sandra discussed blogs and blogging so I thought this a good time to activate the blog I've had on hold for a little while now.

It has been a beautiful spring so far with lovely sunny days and no wind to destroy the blossoms. At the moment the Awanui cherries are in full bloom and are absolutely amazing.