Tuesday, January 31, 2012


If pulp fiction did not meet a need it would not exist. In my opinion Mills and Boone Australian authors, especially Nikki Logan, are top notch for character, situation and humour. They are a fun read after an awful day. .

Since getting my Kindle reader at Christmas I have been exploring Amazon’s ninety nine cent e books. That is partly why I wrote and published Thorny Glen; to see if I could do it. I downloaded three of John Locke’s Donovan Creed novels and am still getting my head around them. A 21st century James Bond written for people who have weird moral views, but well written in a slangy. fast paced style. He is selling by the million so he must be doing something right. And at 99 cents US I don’t begrudge the cost.

Then there are the thrillers and whodunnits, like Hostile Witness by Rebecca Foster and Summer People by Aaron Stander. An evening’s read after a taxing day they engage the brain, like doing a cryptic cross word. The escapist, or romantic books like A Marriage of Convenience by Doreen Owens are like whipped cream apple pie, undemanding and fun.

They all have a place in Literature. At US$0.99 they don’t break the budget and reading them on an e reader will save a lot of trees.

I borrowed Chasing Fire by Norah Roberts from the library because it was priced at nearly $50 in the bookshop. I would not take it on a plane; at nearly 500 pages it’s too heavy, It’s about a team of fire jumpers in Montana. They parachute out of planes, spend days chain sawing fire breaks, finding charred bones, solving murders, dodging wild fires with nothing to sustain them but energy bars and Coca Cola. Then they go home and copulate in the shower before downing tequila by the bottle! The main characters are XXXX superheroes. I suppose they would have to be to do the job.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Conception was instantaneous, gestation lengthy, labour painful but at last we succeeded. The novel is now available on Kindle.
It is called 'Thorny Glen' a fictional settlement in high country South Island New Zealand. It started when I bought a book about writing a romance novel. The advice was solid and sensible. I also took an on line course from Bob Mayer about writing that read like an Army Training manual. I wrote most of Thorny Glen while I was in Crete two years ago, put it away when I came home, then signed on to a course called 'Finish Your Novel' at the Writers' Centre in Dublin (wonderful place), taught by Connor Kostick, (wonderful teacher).

So there it is, available for U.S.$0.99 for download, (Kindle has sent an e mail saying it will be available free for the first 90 days to Kindle owners.

The story started out as traditional romantic conflict between the flawed hero (CEO of a dairying consortium, and a heroine (Black Fern rugby player)who is married to an All Black, a rather nasty character. My characters developed minds of their own and were twisting the story from day one, and then the Canterbury earthquake happened and I had to accommodate that. But I had fun writing it. I hope my friends will as much fun reading it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I was reading a grand daughter's facebook page. Her generation does not write letters it tweets, texts and twitters. She has a wide circle of contacts and cousins, being twenty three, intelligent and stunningly pretty I am not surprised.

A few days ago Ceiridwen complained on her facebook page about headaches. Not the light throb that tells one they have been reading too long, or their period is due, but it read like the kind of headache that can signal a serious maladjustment in the brain.
I put on my grandmotherly voice (bossy) and said she should see a doctor immediately.
Her facebook friends, including several of her cousins, sent her commiserations and advice, like DRINK COCA COLA; FANTA;Tea instead of coffee; water, that is not so bad, but those friendly messages were from kids making diagnoses (addiction loomed large) they should not have been making. They were happily passing on medical misadvice mainly based on their personal experiences or things they saw on TV and that can be dangerous.

I told her to go to a doctor because headaches can be a sign of a number of serious
maladies, or just emotional stress. Her response? She 'liked' my message.

I retired from teaching before Ceiridwen began school. I and other teachers of my generation worked extremely hard to teach children how to think critically, to examine evidence, to distinguish solid fact from suburban myth, to develop the skills that would let them make sensible decisions. Well it seems the snake oil merchants and the peddlers of superstion have won. Warm fuzzies and snake oil is so much easier than facing reality.

I am concerned about this because two of Ceiridwen's father's cousins died of undiagnosed brain tumours.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Thank you the kind people who sent me e mails about the watering holes south of Christchurch. One suggested that I move the venue to Dunedin to avail myself of the really interesting and historic pubs on the way down there. Another suggested travelling across the Canterbury plains to take advantage of that big blue hotel at Methven.

Filling in the bald spots has been really interesting. I have learned a lot about funerals, country roads, the physics of what happens when a van overturns on a bridge. Like how long does it take a laden milk tanker to stop when the driver sees an accident blocking the road? What is the likelihood of fire? You don;t want to hear about what bodily functions do after death, but when mothers tell their daughters to always wear clean knickers in case of accidents - don't bother.

And I have had to listen to my characters; Ask myself, "What would they do?" my heroine's bossy mother, would she move in and start directing the funeral arrangements? Of course she would. And the wealthy Dairy Corporation owner who fancies the heroine, what does he do when her rat of a husband finally dies? They can't fall straight into each others arms, or beds, can they? But it has been fun working it all out.

Yesterday son Joe with his partner Kim brought a tall dark and handsome young man, with an inexplicable American accent, to lunch. They were travelling to Dunedin for Grandson Jed's other grandmother's seventieth birthday. Jed talked me through downloading things on to my Kindle reader, Joe put an icon on my screen to let me open Facebook, and they all had second helpings of the kumera, coriander and chillie soup I was trying out on them. I don't know where Jed got the accent from, but it's fascinating. My ten grandsons are all tall, handsome with I.Q.s like telephone numbers. Makes me wonder what the generation after them will be like!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I have been consulting Google maps all afternoon. The novel is finished, or at least the third draft is finished, except when i read the draft I find I have some serious gaps in my knowledge of vital spots in the locality.

The lead up to C.J. Spencer's demise is this. There is a charity rugby match between Canterbury and Otago Veterans. Men in their forties playing a match to raise money to rebuild AMI stadium. His nine year old son is going to kick off and so C.J.is taken to the venue in a mobility van to watch. After the match the van is stolen by some hooligans and driven down S.H.1 on a pub crawl. It will probably come to grief on the bridge over the Rakaia. near Hinds. End of a nasty character.

But, not being a drinker, I have no idea what pubs there are en route. I know the towns, Burnham, Rolleston, Dunsandel, Leeston, but I haven't the foggiest what the pubs are like.

Now, if anyone knows something that will give one or more of these stopping places character please post a response, A sharp, narrow entrance to the car park, a mounted trout above the bar, a moth eaten stag head,historic photographs of the area, a licensee who doesn't like selling beer, anything relevant that will round out the scene please tell me about it. Just a few words would help.

And if you should be familiar with a rugby ground near Christchurch which could host a large charity match please tell me. The venues I have found on Google are either too far away or look like a farmer's paddock with a collection of tin sheds on it.

People sent me some wonderful suggestions for C.J.'s actual death, including one from India suggesting a knife fight. At the moment the driver loses control when one of his drunk mates spews inside the van. Thanks DHJS, you gave details that nearly sent me into the same state, but that is what will be in the book.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


He deserved to die, and people suggested some really grizzly endings for him. But oh boy! It was fun. He went to the rugby match and watched his wife become the darling of the crowd, but he did not fall off the grandstand. If you want to know what happened, I shall only tell you that alcohol was involved.

Now I can add the final chapter which I wrote in Dublin last August, Will the heroine marry the hero now she is free? Well, if I was thirty three and beautiful, and had just escaped from a terrible marriage I would think twice, several times before taking on another relationship. But my heroine might not see things that way. After all she is a blonde, and they are supposed to be a bit dim.

My next reading project is "How to Format Your eBook for Kindle" by Paul Salvette

Monday, January 2, 2012


The Irish Writers Centre newsletter told me about 'Little Christmas'.
Shakespeare called it Twelfth Night, we mark it on the calendar as January 6th, heave a sigh of relief and say, 'Thank Goodness it's as far away as ever it will be.'

Not the Irish. On January 6th, in recognition of all their work over the previous year,Irish women are allowed to stay in bed and be waited on by their menfolk.

I can just imagine it, Irish women toiling for days to make sure the cake tins are full, the meals cooked and the house clean enough for them to take a day off. And their menfolk?
"Don't you worry, Pet. You have a good lie in and I'll see to everything."
"Sorry to wake you pet, but I can't find any clean towels. No, don't get up. We'll be right now. Go back to sleep."
"Just tell me Darlin', where do you stow the tea bags? Right. Go back to sleep."
Imagine the bairns, peering round the bedroom door.
"Mam, do we have to eat Da's porridge? It's all lumpy."
"Mam, I told you I needed my best blue blouse to-day and you haven't ironed it. No I can't wear my green."
"Mam, Da's hidden the remote.He says we ca't watch the cartoons."
"Sorry love, but the new puppy's peed on the livin' room carpet. How do I fix it?"
A day off for women? In their dreams.
But the Irish Writers' Centre is having a women's literature day on June 6th with readings and workshops by and about noted Irish women writers. Their hearts are in the right place.
If I was rich I would charter a plane and fly there, just for that day.