Sunday, October 14, 2012

My new Website

My new website and blog is now up and working and we've ironed out most of the kinks . 

Do pop over and visit.

Michelle has done a superb job and given my site a real New Zealand flavour. There is a gorgeous array of photos that capture some of our most stunning scenery.

New features.... you can now follow my blog off the website by email and rss feed.

My new book is featured in this week's blog   Seven For A Secret.

This is the story of a young woman who discovers her life was built on a colossal lie.

This book was a finalist in the 2010 Clendon Award run in Conjunction with Romance Writer's of New Zealand.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Last Post

I am a little sad to announce that this will be my last post from this site. 

When I first started this blog I have  to confess that I really did wonder what I would find to fill the posts...but as those who have been regular followers you'll know that in blogging, as in life, events happen...

Who would have imagined NZ's worst environmental disaster, the grounding of the Rena, would happen on my doorstep?
That Christchurch would be destroyed by earthquakes or Japan by a tsunami?
Or that we'd loose so many good men at Pike River in our worst mine disaster ever? That I would mourn the death of a loved friend and colleague, Sandra Hyatt.

As someone once said, and I forget who.... Life is what happens while men make plans.

My new website is now up and running so do visit me and gain a glimpse of our beautiful country. My blog posts, books and all  other useful information is now on this one site.

Aroahanui ..... farewell


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lovers' Lies my latest release

For more info visit  

For single mum, Victoria Scanlan, a visit to the luxurious country house of Darkhaven, is a rare chance to combine work with pleasure. If she can secure the commission for the flowers for the upcoming society wedding it would be a huge boost for her floral boutique.

Arriving at Darkhaven, Victoria is stunned to discover the groom, banking tycoon Keir Donovan, is the man she knew as Seth Donahue, her young son's father. 

Wealthy and powerful Keir, after a lifetime of being betrayed by every
female in his life, has settled on a calm future with the glamorous Davina Strathmore. Davina has her own reasons for accepting Keir's pragmatic proposal and she sees Victoria as a threat to her plans.

Victoria knows she has to tell Keir about their son, but decides to wait until they're no longer visitors in the Donovan family home, a decision she quickly comes to regret.
This decision is a mistake and it's too late to go back and start over. A lie by omission is still a lie, and after a lifetime of being lied to, Keir's has no tolerance for lies…

 Lovers' Lies









Friday, September 14, 2012

Changes are in the wind

For more information visit my new site

There is an old proverb that goes something like this; The only constant in this world is change.

And change is indeed in the wind for me. Im finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with my blogs and the changes needed on my website as well as concentrate on my writing.

So I've employed a web designer to streamline my online presence. We are aiming for an early to mid October  launch.

My blog will then be located on my website along with all the information about upcoming books.

I am in the process of making decisions.
  1. What look am I aiming for
  2. What shall I include
  3. What shall I leave out.

The only thing definite at the moment is that I want a NZ theme. I am honoured and feel blessed that I live in such a beautiful country.


The edits are coming along nicely for Lovers' Lies.

This book started life as my entry into the M&B New voices 2011. And after taking all the comments of readers on board as well as comments from my critique partners and beta readers it has morphed into  Lover's Lies.    

Here is a preview of the cover for Keir and Victoria's story.

Once this book is up then I need to finish the edits on

One Hour To Midnight and finish writing the third book in the series

The Mulleins of Katherine Bay.

With this workload ahead of me it makes good sense to streamline my website so I only have to deal with one site instead of three.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nalini Singh and the rewards of belonging to a writing fellowship

NYT selling author Nalini Singh
For more information visit my new site

Yesterday I joined fellow writers of the Coast To Coast chapter of Romance Writers of New Zealand  for our monthly meeting in Hamilton.

The Coast to Coast group covers the geographical area from the Bay of Plenty in the east, Hauraki/Thames/Coromandel in the north, through the Central North Island and as far west as Waitomo/King Country and south to Taumaranui.

Many of our members have to travel a considerable distance to attend meetings which makes it all the more special when we get together.

Yesterday our guest speaker was New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh

Nalini talked about a variety of topics, the business side of writing, and an overview of the promotion seminar she attended at the RWA Annaheim conference in America.

She stressed the importance of promotion and discussed the merits of maintaining a consistent internet presence. We were advised to sort out our websites....the link to my website is on my blog.

A website is the first and most important tool for promotion for a professional writer.  Then she advised us to choose two or three types of social media, hand waves madly here... twitter handle is 
And Facebook!/pages/Shirley-Wine/286187614776117

So I guess I have them covered.
Nalini also asked us to remember when using social media, to be kind and generous towards others.

Nalini gave us an insight to her heavy workload and the challenge she faces to keep it all in perspective. The major point she rammed home again and again; First you have to write the books.   And then you have to keep writing and treat your writing professionally; work regular hours/word counts.
And for all those doubters who claim you can never make a living as a professional writer she said, "That's strange I have morning tea regularly with five other authors who make a living at writing."

For me, it was wonderful to meet up with Nalini and her wonderful mother, Oosha.

I have known Nalini since she was a struggling wannabe writer and now she's an Internationally known author.  And she's still the same warm, generous person.  

This is one of the real joys in belonging to Romance Writers of New Zealand. We can share the joys, the setbacks and the triumphs of our fellow writers.

It is a pearl beyond price.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My natiive corner with our farm waterwheel

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Finally I think we can officially say spring is on its way.

After last summer's dreary weather and a wet... wet...wet...winter is is such a joy to see sunshine.

The daffodils are out, the flowering may is showing colour, the early scarlet rhodo and white tulip magnolia have turned my driveway into a picturesque scene.

The birds are singing and this morning I watched a blackbird methodically line up a heap of worms so I guess she's feeding babies in the hedgerow somewhere.
My back garden
I've always loved birdwatching and I thought that our move from the country into town would end this enduring hobby...but no. In our little town we are not too far from open country and we have an amazing variety of birdlife that visit.

Tuis and bellbirds are regular visitors and the big bellied native pigeons often call by.

My front garden from my lounge window
Then there are the little birds...the grey warbler with their tiny legs, no bigger than darning needles, and their sweet sad me it always sounds as if their sweet refrain says...never the same again...never the same again... theirs is the quintessential sound of New Zealand's bush.  And the fantails that flit around the garden a few feet from my spade and wax-eyes by the number.

Then we have regular visits by mynas chaffinches, green finches, goldfinches and sparrows and the very occasional yellowhammer....but they are more open country birds.

But by far the highlight for me was the recent visit to my garden of a NZ native falcon. I have only ever seen one other...and that was in one of our country gardens.  They are very rare visitors this far north. But as I have free flight ring-neck and lace-neck doves who come into my maize feeder I guess the falcon was after  an easy meal.

The wrought iron archway and rose bed
It was a real highlight of my day to see this magnificent and rare bird sitting atop the wrought iron archway over my dovecote.   Unfortunately he was too fast for me to capture on camera.

Monday, August 13, 2012

On Being A Writer

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One thing about being a writer is that you keep on beavering away at your typewriter for years.

Despite the rejections.  Despite the setbacks. Despite periods of depression when you seriously doubt you have one Buckley's chance of ever breaking through the glass ceiling. Despite the self-doubts that whisper away in the back of your mind...the doubts that gather and chorus cheerfully "You're no good. What makes you think anyone will want to read your pathetic scribbles"  

Yet despite it all, you're drawn back to the keyboard, again and again. It has a siren call like no other.

Now writers like myself, who've found it impossible, for one reason or another to break through the glass ceiling and be taken up one of the BIG SIX, there is another option.

Self Publishing.

For many years anyone who self published was looked down upon and scorned by those who'd managed to break through the glass ceiling. Not any more.

In the past two years the face of publishing is a dramatically changing landscape. With the advent of Amazon's self publishing programme, authors can now go it alone.  And both traditionally published authors and those who have found it impossible to get a toe in the door, have another very viable option.

Many mid-list authors have discovered this changing landscape means they get dropped by their publisher. The shrinking number of books shops means that fewer authors, some of them very big names, can penetrate that glass ceiling.

The opposite side of this coin is that there are more and more dissatisfied readers out there. Readers craving something different from porridge smooth offerings at skyrocketing prices. Amazon offers readers the choice to buy direct from the author. And the author no longer has to recieve the smallest slice of the pie for all their hard work. After all the BIG 6 amassed all their New York Real Estate by rising on the backs of hardworking authors.  

So as you can imagine this review of Shadow Dance warmed my heart and went some way to easing my doubts.  
5.0 out of 5 stars heart pounding read July 21, 2012
By Holley
Format:Kindle Edition
Shirley Wine is a new favourite of mine. Love her strong characters and the romantic New Zealand setting. This romance left me hungering for more.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ashlyn's Bodyguard hits Amazon's cyber shelves

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I am delighted to have Ashlyn's Bodyguard up on Amazon. This is the second book in the series The Mulleins of Katherine Bay.
Bad-boy Jace is one of my favourite heroes.

Here is the link

About this book

An attempt to thwart theives goes horribly wrong and Ashlyn Pritchard is forced to flee. Cast off by her wealthy high-acheiving family, and with a dangerous crinimal on her trail, she accepts Jace Mullein's offer of protection, but comes with strings. He'll be her bodyguard, twenty-four-seven...if she marries him.

As the danger escalates, Ashlyn learns to trust Jace. Then she discovers the truth about his past. It's too late to retreat, but she needs to question everything about the man she has come to love. Does she mean anything to him at all, or is Jace using her to exact revenge for past slights?


Ashlyn Pritchard clung to the biker with a death grip.

The powerful machine throbbed between her legs as it weaved from side to side, leaving her dizzy. She fought down the sting of bile. Now is not the time to throw up.

Breathing hurt. Wind whipped at her face, every difficult breath filled with a subtle, sexy aftershave, leather, petrol fumes and taut strength. Her overwhelmed senses were still imprinted with the hard crush of his arms, the protective shield of his huge body.

Who was he?

Santos' victims don't die easy. The blunt words painted a horrible picture.

Was he part of the security team staking out the gallery as he claimed? Ashlyn prayed that for once in her life, she'd been lucky. Leaping off this death-defying machine wasn't an option.

Overpoweringly male, his strength as he'd subdued her struggles was too fresh. Now, every sinuous move as he guided the bike through the night was sexily provocative. Within minutes, she was hopelessly lost. They careened through an endless maze of alleys and bounced over surfaces so rough they almost pried her loose from the mountain of muscle she clung to.

They jolted down steps and crossed private yards. Laundry on clotheslines whipped at exposed flesh. Just as nausea threatened, he eased onto a smooth surface.

The highway?

Ashlyn gulped in a relieved breath and opened her eyes, only to shut them again. Blurred black ribbon raced past at a dizzying pace. It was better not to look. Eventually, they turned into a narrow graveled track.

Once clear of the highway, he stopped the bike, dropped his feet to the gravel, cut the headlamp and turned slightly. "You okay back there?"

"I think so." She was shaking so hard her teeth chattered.

A husky laugh rumbled from him. "Just making sure we've not been followed."

Her heart skipped a beat. She glanced over her shoulder, her grip on him tightened convulsively. Spooky, crowding blackness sent a thrill of fear up her spine. At this moment her rescuer was the lesser of two evils, a buffer between her and the terrifying darkness.

He pulled a torch from a side pocket of the bike and handed it to her. "Shine that ahead for me, darlin'?"

Somehow, she pried a hand loose from his torso.

With excruciating slowness, he guided the bike up the track. In the weak light, ghostly shadows leaped from overcrowded verges. After what seemed like an age, he switched on the headlamp, took the torch from her numb fingers and guided the growling beast of a machine up an even steeper incline into the bush clad hills.

Where is he taking me?

Ashlyn's heart clubbed painfully in her chest. Panic made her dangerously close to hyperventilating. All sorts of improbable scenarios scrabbled around in her brain. After what seemed like a lifetime the bike rumbled to a halt, his powerful legs holding it upright. "Can you get off?" His deep voice startled her into loosening her grip.
"I think so."

Ashlyn put a leg over the bike, but her abused limbs refused to support her. An arm of steel held her upright.

"Hold on." He swung a powerful leg over the seat, kicked out the stand with a booted foot and stood up. The arm that circled her waist was corded with muscle.

Ashlyn sagged against him. Fright, cold and reaction coalesced into enervating weakness.

"Come on, Daisy, let's get you inside," he said, with rough gentleness.

Daisy? Her sluggish mind tried to process this but it refused to co-operate. As her eyes became accustomed to the dark, she made out the outline of a building. "Where are we?"

"Safe for the moment."


The word jerked her into awareness of her situation. This close, the rumble of his deep voice was a physical resonance. Heat radiated from his powerful body. She wanted nothing more than to curl into that heat and pretend the last half hour had never happened.

"Santos will have difficulty finding you here," he said with strained patience.

A sigh shuddered from her. The Coromandel was rugged and unforgiving to strangers. Regarded by many as New Zealand's last frontier, it was the last place on earth she would willingly venture into. Let alone with a forbidding stranger in the dead of night.

She tripped and stumbled as he opened a door.

The arm around her waist tightened and she was glad of the support. The inky blackness made it impossible to see which way was up.

"Wait here. I'll fix a light."

All she could discern was that they were inside, a room of some sort. She shivered missing his warmth, too aware of the dark, the silence and their isolation. What sort of situation had she landed in now?

Light flared.

She glimpsed a face shadowed by black stubble. Another flare of light and lantern-light filled the room. The sudden brightness made her blink. For the first time she could see her rescuer and was far from reassured. He wasn't overly tall, but he dominated the space, his hair a wild riot of raven curls any girl would envy.

Too aware of shrewd, dark eyes studying her, her chin lifted and her spine straightened but the effect was ruined by a convulsive shudder. With a muffled grunt, he disappeared through a doorway off to one side of the main room, returning with a sleeping roll he tossed her way. "Wrap up and get warm. I don't want to light a fire."

The brusque command loosened her limbs. "Thanks."

Sinking into one of the well-worn armchairs bracketing a log fire, she pulled the rug around her shoulders. She unzipped ankle boots and tucked her frozen appendages into the sleeping bag. As she warmed up so did her ability to think. She watched warily as he rummaged in a cupboard and pulled out a shiny kettle, filled it with water from a faucet over the sink and set it on a gas burner he ignited with a taper.

Dragging her gaze away, she looked at a room so eerily normal it spooked her. Wooden floors, two bright area rugs, matching cabinetry set off by dark bench tops. Windows above reflected lantern light, beyond—impenetrable darkness.

"Tea or coffee?"

Her gaze jerked back to him. He watched her, his coal dark eyes as inscrutable as the night.


He spooned instant coffee into mugs. "Black or white? There's powdered milk here somewhere, Daisy."

"Black." Ashlyn glared at him, the first sparks of temper surfacing. "What's with you and this Daisy racket?"

He stiffened and turned to face her. "Be thankful I caught you in that alley. Paz Santos leaves victims in pieces for their families to bury."

Ashlyn shuddered. "Look mister. My name's not Daisy. Who are you?"

"Jace Mullein." His grim expression was not reassuring. "From Ace Securities. Like to explain why you were in the gallery at that hour, Ms. Pritchard?"

The insulting emphasis on her name had her chin lifting and nerves jitterbugging in her stomach. "My job."

Feet apart, body rigid, his black eyes narrowed to gleaming slits. Moving faster that a striking snake, he gripped her shoulders, hauled her to her feet and thrust his face to within an inch of hers. "Then you knew Santos and his gang was poised to strike? Do you have a death wish? If you had another freaking brain, it would be lonely."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You know you've made it.......

Please visit my new

You know you've made it when the books you've slaved on, shed buckets of blood, sweat and tears over, end up on a pirated site.

That's about the only positive thing I can say to the scumbags who decide to set themselves up in business to make money off hard working writers' and artists endeavours.

The discouraging thing about pirate sites is that no sooner is one closed down than another one pops up in its place.  The latest site to come to writers' notice on the Indie writer's loop is
While my books are not on this site far too many of my fellow authors' books are.

There are too sides to this story of pirate sites.

On one side are the greedy merchants who set these sites up to rip off writers and artists .

On the other, people who are quite happy to buy from pirate sites to save a buck and deprive the same hardworking writers and artists of legitmate hard earned income.

To these people I say only one word.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yee haa!!! It's out there.

For more information visit my new site

It's done.

Shadow Dance is now live on Amazon
Writing and rewriting this book has been a really steep learning curve for me.

I've worked with an independent editor and learnt so much.

The biggest thing I've learned is that although it's easy to pen a quick moving's the spit and polish and attention to detail that turns that first rough draft into a memorable book.

For example in high summer....who would have a fire going in the evening??
It is these sort of inconsistencies that annoy a annoyed reader won't come back to read another book by that author.

Shadow Dance was Highly Commended2011 Clendon Award—run in conjunction with Romance Writer's of New Zealand.

"I read this entry in one sitting—I couldn't put it down."—Judge's comment.

       The sense of familiarity intensified.
       She knew she'd never met him, but also knew she should know who he was. As she picked up the tweezers, she heard his footsteps in the hall.
        Her heart picked up a pace, the involuntary reaction irritated her beyond reason. He walked through the door, stooping slightly so his head missed the lintel, and halted mid-step when he saw her tending Zach's injury.
        "I told you I didn't need that." She glanced at the tin in his hand.
        Ignoring her protest, he laid it on the table and flicked it open. The glossy green contrasted sharply with the scarred wood. "Two pairs of hands are better than one."
        His good natured comment had Jenna grinding her teeth in frustration. Boy, does this guy love himself—or what?
        He produced a penlight and shone it on the cut. The splinter glittered in the pinpoint beam. This did as little to soothe her temper as his satisfied smile.
       Who the heck was he? His air of casual elegance exuded wealth and privilege. Those charcoal slacks and cream shirt never came off any ready-to-wear peg.
      At five three, her head barely reached his shoulder. A quick glance at him through her lashes had her inhaling a shaken breath. The heady spice of pine, sea and warm, healthy male stirred an instinctive feminine appreciation.
      A reaction as annoying as it was unexpected.
     Inhaling a shaken breath, she squashed it flat.
     Never again would she allow a good looking guy, no matter how hot, to derail her plans.
      Once, she'd allowed a life-long friendship and loneliness to blind her to the obvious—and now she was a single mother of twins.
       "Doesn't that make it easier to see?" The deep rumble of the stranger's voice added to her unsettled irritation.
      "Some." On that grudging admission, she caught the splinter with the tweezers and deftly removed it.
       Zach wriggled and curled his toes, whimpering, "Ouchie."
      "Mama kiss it better." She lifted his foot and kissed it. "Hush, sweetheart. Finish your raisins."
      "Is that all of it? Does it need stitches?"
      Jenna stopped swabbing the cut and gaped up at him. Was he for real? "It's a splinter for cripes sake, not a cut artery."
      "Any injury to a child is serious."
      She selected a plaster from the packet in the first aid box and covered the tiny cut on Zach's foot, lifted him down from the table and watched as he ran to join his sister not even favoring the foot. "I take it you have a dozen kids?"
      A dull flush crept up under his tan. "Since when has being concerned for a child's safety been a crime?"
      Anger had her sucking in a sharp breath. "Who the heck do you think are you?"
     Her unwelcome visitor put his hands in his trouser pockets, pulled out a cell phone and two shotgun cartridges.
      Suddenly wary, Jenna's gaze winged upwards. Apprehension spiked as she saw his lips thin to a grim line. His grey eyes were as hard as polished steel.
      "Gabriel Callahan. And by rights I should call the cops, have you arrested and hauled off to jail."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Proof Reading

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Don't you just hate it.

Your precious manuscript that you've sweated and slaved over for months or even years is returned to you and you eagerly load it on your kindle and there smack bang in the middle of the very first paragraph is an error.  It's about now that bashing your head against the wall seems like a very good idea.

This happened to me yesterday.

Shadow Dance came by return email neatly formatted and ready to upload.

I saw that pesky comma which, even to my comma challenged eye, was in the wrong place. I don't know what it is about commas...those pesky little critters defeat me at every turn. I have studied books on the subject...had their use explained by experts and still I manage to get them wrong.

Now I err on the side  of caution and use too few instead of too many.

But that aside...I took the chance and read the whole novel on my Kindle. Errors jumped out at me and made me cringe. How could I miss so many? After all I'd read and re-read this manuscript umpteen times. And I'd given it one final assiduous check before I sent it off.

But on the credit I read my novel in book form...I felt a thrill of pride. Why? Because the few errors I found, although they annoyed me no end, didn't really detract from my reading pleasure.

At one stage I found myself caught up in a sense of disbelief. Did I really dream up and write this yarn? It reads like a real book!

On that this space. Shadow Dance will appear on Amazon very soon.

Readers will get the chance to read the entry that was Highly Commended in the 2011 Clendon Award.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winter...a time for fires and reflection

Winter has come early and hard this year. Record cold temperatures and heavy snow dumps in the southern parts of the country.

The garden has a bleak look with flowers few and far between but already the snowdrops are peeping out of their buds and the early daffodils are sending up flower buds. Where we live the climate is more temperate. The banksias are in full bloom and are attracting tuis and wax-eyes in huge numbers. The red hot pokers brighten up gloomy winter days with their cheerful flower spikes.

Writing is moving on apace..with the final edit of Shadow Dance going back to my editor and then it's fingers crossed...big time.  It has been a real steep learning curve...and given me a great deal of time to reflect on the difference dealing with technical issues make to the finished, polished product.

When I settle in to read a book I hate being jarred out of the story trying to figure out what the writer actually meant. And working with an experienced editor has shown me that I am just as guilty of making these mistakes as the next writer.

So now my ms is fingers crossed and as the saying this space.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Little Thank You Makes My Day

for more information visit my new site   

Belonging to a writing group is always rewarding.
    For many years I've been a member of Romance Writers of New Zealand and through this organisation I have learned so much about the craft of writing.
    At RWNZ's annual conference I've had the benefit of being able to listen to world famous authors, agents and other professionals expound on various aspects of the craft of writing. Chances that as an individual, I could never have accomplished.
    So I find it really rewarding to pass some of this hard won knowledge on. And one way of doing this is by training as a judge and helping judge some of the contests run by RWNZ.
    One of the highlights of my writing year is helping judge the Chapter Short Story Competition.  Writing a good short story is really difficult. With only 1000 to 1250 words to make a complete story vignette, it takes enormous skill. And I have to confess it is not a skill I have mastered.
    The standard of the entries is always high.
    When judging my policy is to always make any criticism constructive and sometimes after I've sent the entries back I start second guessing myself. Am I being too harsh. Was that criticism justified, the negative thoughts and doubts that are the bane of a writer's life, begin to creep in.      
    So imagine my delight to receive this warm thank you letter:

 You recently judged my story ... for the Chapter Short Story Contest.
      Thank you very much for your insight and comments. 
     This is the first time I have presented anything for criticism since I was at school (far too many years ago to count) and I was very apprehensive about doing so... I was so nervous about the results that the message has sat in my Inbox for a fortnight until I had the courage to open it and the documents attached. 
     I was pleasantly surprised to read your comments, even the negative points you made, and that you didn’t tell me to give up and stick to reading.
      I know your intention is to constructively criticise and therefore to encourage and I can assure you that you have succeeded in this case and that I am pleased I overcame my fears and entered this competition. Your comments have encouraged me to continue in my endeavours...and I nearly leapt out of my chair at the inclusion of ‘great promise’ in your final comment!
      At the risk of being repetitious, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I have scribbled for many years without having the courage to do anything about what I have written, not even letting anyone read it. I know I have hard work ahead of me but I will keep trying.
     Warm regards....

It is letters like this that keep me putting my hand up as a judge. It is so rewarding to be able to give something back to the organisation that has given me so much.   

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Free downloads today only

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Free downloads today of

Return to Totara Park

Yesterday's Sins

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The End is In sight.

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When my editor told me my writing was old fashioned and I needed to change my style, my first reaction was:


My second reaction after reading through her critique a second and third time: this is do-able.

Now that the end of this rewrite is in sight I realise her insight was spot-on. The difference is incredible.
It has been a real learning curve and I am now eagerly awaiting her response.

The sense of accomplishment is worth the exercise alone.

On another front I now have my ITIN after a lengthy wait.

Now that I have the coveted number, I now need to forward it to Amazon. So following their instructions I set about doing it only to come to a shuddering stop.

Please submit in wet ink......scratching my head I was stumped until I realised they wanted a hard copy filled out and posted by snail mail.

Just how we supplied legal forms in the olden days when we were young.

Wet ink!!!  I have to admit that is a new one on me.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life in a Country Town

Martin enjoying horse love in our driveway
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There is an old saying in our part of the can take the girl/guy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl/guy.

This photo encapsulates this sentiment. Wherever there is a horse you will inevitably see my husband.

And even in our small East Waikato town, in our driveway no less, he found two horses to admire. Horses have played a big part in his life. As a child he rode a horse 3 miles to his local school in the days before there were school buses.

In both our childhoods, horses were the mainstay of farming life. My father never owned a tractor. Long after every other farmer in our district had turned to mechanisation, my father had his trusty draught horses, Socks and Prince to haul hay, fencing materials and any other loads to heavy for him to haul alone. When he sold his farm he admitted to shedding a tear when he saw his last horse, Neddy looking out over the top of the stock truck and whinnying at him as he was driven away to his new home. It's hard to imagine feeling that nostalgic about a piece of machinery.       

My father-in-law spent years working with horses and always talked of plowing 1000acres of land on the Maniatoto Plains in Otago as a young man, but he moved over to tractors.

So with this back ground you can imagine my husband's joy to hear the once familiar clip clop of hooves down our very urban street and straight way he was out there to touch and admire the two patient, gentle horses giving school children a holiday treat.

It was a treat that also made this retired farmer's day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest We Forget

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Today we pause...two nations...Australia and New Zealand...proud of the ANZAC spirit forged on the battle fields of Gallipoli in 1915.

We honour the men who paid the ultimate sacrifice that we may live a life under democratic rule.

Men and women who in two world wars were prepared to stand up to tyrants...put their lives on the line to defend the right of our nations to enjoy the lifestyle we have today.

We Will Remember Them. 

Flanders Fields by John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Personal Milestones

It never ceases to amaze me how fast these milestones creep up and catch us unawares.

It just seems like yesterday that I was in my old bedroom getting dressed in my wedding finery, so excited I honestly thought I'd pass out. I remember the autumn chill...being very late to the church...on account of my bridal bouquet not being quite ready for me.  And ever since I've been unmercifully teased. My husband's family were, and still are, notoriously late at every function. And they considered I'd started out on the right foot!

And yet the years have passed, seemingly in the blink of an eye, and this year I woke up celebrating 49 years living with the same man. I guess that makes me a dinosaur in the eyes of the young ones.

Today is more special than just another milestone. My husband has battled serious illness, a life threatening allergy to bee-stings and we've survived the trauma of losing our adult twin sons.

But our life had been also filled with hard work, lots of love and laughter and more family than we can shake a stick at.  

And this morning I was presented with a beautiful breakfast on a tray with one of the last of the season's roses beside my plate.  Who says Kiwi blokes are not romantic?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kura Carpenter

Today I am interviewing designer Kura Carpenter from Dunedin, New Zealand.  Dunedin is one of the creative hubs of NZ.  Kura is fast making a name for herself designing book covers. To set the ball rolling Kura, tell us a little about yourself.

Kura: I have a Bachelor of Arts, in Design, from the University of Otago, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
A couple of years ago my friend, Justin Elliot asked me to create the cover for his YA Fantasy adventure, ‘A Dark Future’, which is the sequel to ‘The Lord of the Beasts’ that was published by Scholastic in 2008.
Being an avid reader, I was thrilled to be offered a project that combined my passion for books with graphic design.
Q: Where do you start in the design process? 
K: I listen to my client, to establish what they want and mostly importantly what they need.
Good Design is all about communication and I feel it’s very important to think beyond the physical props and capture the emotional tone of the book. Only once I understand the emotional aspect required do I actually start thinking about what images to use.

Recently while working for the author Giuseppe Tortorici, he summed up the emotional cues, asking for a cover with, Quote: “A feeling of danger. The overall context should transmit the feeling that something sinister is about to happen, it should not be reassuring.”
Giuseppe’s book ‘Isemen’ is to be released in Italy later this year, see my website 

Q: How do you meld good design with what a customer wants?

Kura's Workspace 

K: A good question! Every product has a function to serve and fundamentally, Book Covers are adverts. I have to understand what is being marketed and what the target audience desires.
I would hope that a client has chosen to hire me because they liked my portfolio, and therefore they will have faith that I can deliver an appropriate graphic solution.

Q: What do you think are the essential ingredients of good design for book covers?
K: Knowing what your audience wants. Knowing what works in terms of how the book will primarily be viewed.
Q: How do print book covers differ from eBook covers?

K: Aside from the technical issues, the main difference is the way they are displayed. Traditionally in a bookshop setting a book had three faces, (front, spine and back) to catch the browser’s eye and make them pick that book up.
Ebooks have changed everything. The marketable surface area has been reduced from 3 planes to 1, and the initial viewing size is as small as a postage stamp!
Q: I often hear readers complaining that the covers aren't a true reflection of the characters inside the book. How important do you think it is that book covers are true to the story inside the covers?

K: One of things I like about self-publishing is the power to decide what goes on the cover has returned to the author. But equally that’s often the case when working with an independent press. For example, I’ve been swapping emails with Stephen Minchin of Steampress recently and I know they directly consult the author about cover choices.
When I work with authors I advise them to be open when choosing cover models, and don’t think about looks, but rather seek the essence of their character’s attitude.
Whether the woman has curly hair or dimples isn’t as important as capturing the spirit of who she is. Is she sad? Defiant? Because that’s what cues the Reader in to the true tone of the story.

Q: What importance should an author place on his/her book cover?

K: A cover is a hugely important marketing tool. For example late last year I worked for Titus Powell  who wanted to redesign the cover of his novel ‘The Dare Ring’ on the release of a second novel, knowing not only could he better show the quality of the book but also establish an author brand. 
We live in a society inundated with images, and people are very sophisticated at understanding and valuing their world through unspoken cues and symbols.
A well-crafted cover speaks to a prospective buyer on a subconscious level, not only does it hint at the content, but it also demonstrates how much the author believes in the story.
I’ve been fortunate to have clients who understand this, and have been involved in several projects where an original cover designed elsewhere has needed to be remade to meet the author’s expectations.

Q: What do you consider are the no/nos in book cover design.

K: Comic Sans. There’s just no excuse.

Shirley:  I had to ask Kura about the last answer... and was told Comic Sans is a font and this was a classic slice of designer humour....LOL. 

Thank you so much Kura, for your time.  Kura can be contacted at   

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Learning and Workshops

For more information visit my new site

The one thing I enjoy about writing is, as a writer, you're never done with learning.
No matter how much you already know, there is always more interesting lessons to learn.  I've been doing an interactive workshop through RWNZ with the lovely Susan Meier.

What a steep learning curve and what an excellent tutor.
The course on Can This Manuscript Be Saved is an excellent resource for writers.  The questions asked by writers and Susan's answers are both informative and very constructive.

The one thing that truly stands out in the writing community, is everyone's willingness to help other writers. No question is deemed to basic or irrelevant. And this course is no exception.

Susan is running another course on-line on Conflict and I am going to sign on for that one too.

Susan's  blog is also a great one for writers keen to improve their mastery of the craft. Visit Susan's blog you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

emotional bullets

How do you keep a reader?

Keeping your reader interested enough to keep turning the pages of your book is
  •  The key to a satisfying read for your reader.
  • A demonstration of an author's mastery of the craft of writing.
How do you dow these two things?

Emotional tension. Emotional tension. Emotional tension.

So how do you create enough emotional tension to keep your reader hooked?

Have your character ask the hard questions. There's nothing like one of your characters asking the hard questions to up the emotional tension. 

Don't underestimate the value of emotional bullets or using shock value to keep a reader hooked.
What is an emotional bullet?

In one book I read recently.

When the hero returned to the bedroom the heroine was gone, the cover-alls she had worn were spread out on the floor. And it wasn't until he went to lift them up he realised the arms, legs and collars were nailed to the floor with three inch nails.

The reader reaction. Wow! What reader wouldn't want to read on? Who wouldn't want to find out the reason someone would do something so bizzare?

Or take this line from my book   "Return to Totara Park"

"Tonight, Jared you are responsible for Winsome's and Lacey's safety under this roof. It would never do to have another accidental death at Totara Park."

Why would someone make that outlandish statement?
These emotional bullets not only up the emotional tension, they have great shock value.

Readers just have to read on desperate to find out what happens next. When was the last time you shocked your readers with an emotional bullet?
Try it, you might be surprised. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Computerese and Publishing Pitfalls

Deciding to re-publish my earlier books on Amazon has been an amazing experience and not without its pitfalls. Despite following their instructions to the letter there are still glitches in formatting.

So being a perfectionist...I decided to have the books professionally formatted.

And in doing so I've had a crash course in computerese. Michael Zapp sent me a very straighforward attachment outlining what I needed to do so he could format the e-books for me. Well to him they were straight me anything but.
So help was needed. Romance writers are a diverse group and help is always at hand for those who need it. fortunately one such lady lives at the end of my street and I sent out an urgent call to Gracie.
She certainly never disapponted.
I now know what a pilbrow is and what a useful little gizmo it is.
I discovered there were heaps of hidden formatting thingies among the hidden hyphens..optional hyphens...tabs and a host of other squirrels hiding among my text that I couldn't see.
So to quote my friend Kris "I needed to learn my computer was more than a clever typewriter." 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Experiences

Life is full of interesting experiences and it's fun and rewarding to savour each new experience.

As writers we sit in our quiet little cubbyholes beavering away at our keyboards making imaginary people become as real as the friends we pick up the phone and chat to.

And the rewards for all this hard work is knowing other people can savour and enjoy  a book that leaves them with the warm fuzzies romance writers expect.

Today has been memorable on two fronts...Return to Totara Park has been on Amazon's top 100 free romance list all day. And now I know that several hundred people are able to read and hopefully enjoy my creative endeavours.  And to me that is more rewarding than any amount of riches...although if I'm honest the riches would be nice.

The second thing today I downloaded an old Sharon Sala book...When I Call Your Name  and that left me teary-eyed.  And this is why I keep tapping away and creating imaginary people.

Other writers have given me so much pleasure over the warms my heart to put something back into the pool for others to enjoy. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Leigh D'Ansey: Introducing Shirley Wine, Romance Author

Leigh D'Ansey: Introducing Shirley Wine, Romance Author: Shirley Wine is a born-and-bred New Zealander.  Shirley Wine's novels reflect her rural background.  Shirley grew up just south of ...

Free on Amazon interview with Romance author Leigh D'Ansey

Today I'm doing a blog interview with Romance Author
Leigh D'Ansey ... pop over and leave a comment

Today and tomorrow (American Time) Return to Totara Park and Yesterday's Sins are free on Amazon.

Return to Totara Park

Yesterday's Sins     

Thank you to all my wellwishers and followers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Yesterday's Sins and Return to Totara Park are set to go live on Amazon

Have just uploaded Yesterday's Sins and  Return to Totara Park on Amazon are now live on Amazon.

Return to Totara Park
Yesterday's Sins

It's been a strenuous exercise and required so much concentrated work made more difficult because I kept crying...and at times laughing. Lacey is a four year old pistol... who keeps everyone on their game.

Return To Totara Park is a heart wrenching story of a young couple whose marriage founders after the death of their baby son and a reconciliation that tears at the heartstrings....warning tissues needed.  Set in New Zealand's rural heartland it is the story of a rising rural dynasty.

It is a romance that has it all. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and betrayal and is testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

This  marks off two items on my New Year goal list.
Mind you our rotten New Zealand summer has made working indoors so much easier.  After the wettest December on record we've graduated to the cloudiest January and are fast heading to the coldest February.  At least we're not drowning like Australia's Eastern seaboard.

Now to make a start on my next goals.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coming Soon Yesterday's Sins

It amazes me that once you set a goal and aim steadily towards it, the more within reach it is, and eminently achievable.

I have been doing the final edits on  Yesterday's Sins...ensuring their are no spelling errors or continuity errors...a laborious and time consuming exercise as other writers well know.

Yesterday's Sins was published in New Zealand by the now defunct KiwiGold Publishing Company and, as the rights have long since reverted to me, I will be publishing it on Amazon.  And with the help of my friend Kris Pearson,  who had lent me her expertise in designing a cover, it is almost ready to go up on Amazon.

Here's a sneak preview of my new cover.

From start to finish, it's been an interesting exercises and a huge learning curve.  Not the least because in the middle of it my laptop died and I've had to buy a new one....and learning a new machine's idiosyncrasies  has been, shall we say, a tad challenging.

To quote my late father Unless you learn something new everyday, you are not living. 

Well Dad, I've been really living this week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interview With Indie Author Kris Pearson

Today I am interviewing Indie Author Kris Pearson.


Welcome. To start the ball rolling tell me a little bit about your self.

K. As a child of ten, I wanted a helicopter. My father said okay, as long as I saved my pocket money and landed it on the back lawn and not the front.
What a gift for a child - to be taken seriously and encouraged!
So here I am now without a helicopter but certain I can have anything if I really want it.
S What a great memory. How long have you been writing? And what keeps you writing?

K. I've been writing since I could put words on paper. I read my stories and reviews on Children's Radio and wrote my autobiography at twelve. I worked in advertising as a copywriter rising to advertising manager for a furniture chain and wrote articles for periodicals in my spare time. I came to fiction when I joined RWNZ. I write because I love it. With me, it's not seeing my words in print so much as creating people. I’ll see a germ in real life and use it to create a story. A few days ago I saw a man reverse his ute into his wife at the tip and push her into the huge pit of rubbish. I'll use that cameo somewhere!

S. LOL. What did she say to her husband? You've placed in The Clendon Award and won or placed in several short story competitions. Tell us what you've gained from these competitions.

K. From the Clendon - deadlines! Instead of meandering along you have to finish. Barbara and Peter Clendon sponsor this contest with RWNZ and it’s judged by readers, so it’s the story that counts. It’s past entries in the Clendon I’m now self publishing. Short stories were the first fiction I sold, so to me, they are special. They taught me to write tight. Some of my favourites are published as "Five Short Romantic Reads".

S. You've recently ventured into the field of self-publishing on Amazon. Why have you chosen this option?

K My writing doesn’t fit category style. I have eight completed novels– and none have sold and I want them to be read. They are often a little off the wall and humour keeps sneaking in, as does my irreverent attitude to life. And now self-publishing is taking off, it is time.

S Has this been a steep learning curve? And what part of the process presented the most challenges?

K. Editing my earlier books, I found my skills had grown and the quality improved so a quick tart-up was not an option. This has been a 'start on page one and make everything better' exercise, time-consuming but enjoyable.

S. How would you rate the experience dealing with Amazon?

K. Amazon has great information and an informative How To video on uploading a book. Their report on book sales is constantly updated. I am so new; I check it twice a day! I’ve never had to use their help desk yet, so perhaps I'm not the best person to answer that question.

S. Do you have any advice for other writers who are contemplating venturing into the world of self-publishing?

K. Yes - go for it. But one lonely book floating out there isn't going to do it for you. You need a number of them - and new ones following on.

S. Have you made any mistakes or done anything that in hindsight you wouldn't do or would do differently?

K. I would learn to use a computer properly. To me it's a clever typewriter, not a helpful attitude. Would I have submitted to different publishers or tried to write other genres? No- romance is me. My books have a small casts so I can get close to my characters. Should I have put more work into submitting them? Yes of course - but that would have eaten into my writing time...

S Many review sites state they won't review self published authors because of inferior presentation. Will this have a negative impact considering many pundits view it as the way of the future?

K Writers write, regardless. Good ones will shine and succeed. Word spreads very quickly now. Publishing doesn’t make books good or bad. There are some shocking published books out there, and real self published gems. They should pick the good self-published books and give them their due.

S. I've read two of your books;
 Wrong Sister

And Seduction on the Cards -
The formatting and presentation is superb. I haven't come across a single error to spoil my reading pleasure. Do you employ a professional editor? Would you recommend employing a professional editor?

K. No - it's all me. After years of proofing ads I HATE mistakes so there's personal pride here. A professional editor may improve my books, but that would steal my fun. Many Indie Writers do have editors. If they feel it's the way to a better book, then good on them.

S. Reviewers and readers are influenced by book covers. How challenging is it to design and produce enticing covers?

K. With my background in advertising and being a hobby artist, I have a fair design sense. This combined with my husband's computer skills works well. Covers are important. Mine are simple, colourful and to the point. I like having a co-ordinated look-same fonts etc as a visual lead-in to the next book. Covers on Amazon are shown small so visibility is vital.

S. If you could offer one word of advice to other authors what would it be?

K. Believe in yourself. If you really want to write, the good stuff will shine through.

Shirley : Kris it's been a pleasure and thank you for sharing your time and expertise. You can find out more about this author on her website

Please feel free to leave comments or ask Kris any questions.