17 March 2013

Story Telling

The little people were telling me about stories they'd written. They had used ideas that showed everything about their current reading and interests. The stories were about girls at a boarding school where lessons were mostly on horse riding, and magic was an ordinary occurrence.

I guess in some ways we don't really grow up that much, though we like to think we do.

If you read romance, then you know the couple will get together eventually, however much gets in their way. In murder mysteries, the police or protagonist find out 'who did it.' The good guys always win whatever the odds against them. Talking to any friends, or watching the news shows us this doesn't always happen in real life. People break up, hearts get broken, and it often feels like the bad guys always get away with it.

I think there is an element in each of us that never completely grows up, a part that hankers for some type of magic to make good things happen. It might not be the magic of Cinderella, fantasy novels, or vampires and werewolves, but who hasn't wondered about being able to go back and make a different decision, or further back to a totally different period of history, or having a skill that can drastically change things. All of this takes us out of the daily humdrum and makes a daydream just that bit brighter. I guess that's one of the reasons why we write.

07 March 2013

Passport Photo

Just before Christmas I went to Sydney for a few days, and a quick look at my passport reminded me that the dreadful day was fast approaching. I'm sure you know the day I'm referring to - the task we dread, as it will live with us for years to come. Getting a new passport, or more to the point, getting a new passport photo.

I've been putting off the task, waiting for a day when I felt the photo would be marginally better than the one I've lived with for the last five years. However the events of earlier this week have put that back a while now.

My latest contract job means I'm working for a corporate company in the city for the next few months. Everyone needs a swipe card to get around the building. I was whisked away to get mine without being told it was a photo ID card.

'Stand against that wall. 3,2,1.'  That was it, not even a flash to let me know what was happening.

The colour selection was off, to say the least. I look as though I've just been overcooked on a sunbed. To be honest I'm surprised they even let me in the building, as I don't recognise myself from the photo. 

I won't be getting my passport photo for a while!

As a postscript to this ordeal event. A Japanese student sat next to me on the bus this evening. Some of her friends were already on the bus just across the aisle. Looking rather embarrassed she pulled out a photo ID and showed it to her friends, giggling and talking. I don't understand Japanese, but I didn't need to. The conversation was obviously of a similar nature to mine when I got home with my photo ID. The only difference was that her photo was good.

04 March 2013


Salvador Dali said, ‘Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.’ I can certainly relate to that.

Samuel Johnson’s quote is a little kinder. ‘It is reasonable to have perfection in our eye that we may advance toward it, though we know it can never be reached.’

Back in 2006 I started writing a novel. I’d been honing my craft and writing skills on short stories for some time, and decided it was time to start work on the characters and story that became Driftwood.

In 2010 I entered Driftwood into a competition for unpublished romance novels, and to my surprise I won, and Driftwood was published. As I read it I found there were parts I enjoyed and felt proud of, but also parts I wanted to change.  I have a huge streak of perfectionism when it comes to my writing, so strong it is often difficult to know when it's time to let go. 

I kept the electronic rights for Driftwood, and decided as a goal for this year to read it and make some changes. It's been a good experience working on something I originally started six years ago, and I've tried to keep to Elmore Leonard's advice of leaving out the parts that people skip.

It has also been great fun working with Andrew of Design for Writers on the new cover for Driftwood. He's created an amazing cover which I loved from the moment I opened the email with the proof.  He commented about his design thoughts. 'It is hard to escape that central image of the driftwood, but I wanted something more than golden sands and blue sky. This image is darker and suspenseful, hinting at that darker side of the book. It is also wistful in some way, like a memory.' I totally agree, and the image sums up the tone of the book beautifully. 

If you'd like to look at Driftwood, it is now available as a novella through Smashwords and Amazon

Juliet, the protagonist, is a strong character. She is passionate about building her business, but uses it as a shield from emotional involvement. Her strength comes from her past, and has grown as a defence mechanism. On a work trip to Christchurch, New Zealand, she bumps into Luke. She thought she had managed to forget him, but from the moment they meet again, her life is not the same.

Luke wants to renew their relationship, but Juliet has strong reservations (to put it mildly), and tells Luke they can’t recapture the past.

Within days of meeting Luke, events escalate and Juliet realises someone is trying to harm her. She is relieved to leave Auckland for Sydney to work with a new client, but trouble follows her, and then Luke appears. Can she trust him, or are his secrets more deadly than the ones she is hiding

I have also included the opening chapters of Lives Interrupted, and the first four chapters of my new novel, Lies of the Dead, which should be published in April this year. 

I've had a great time working on Driftwood, and I'm now looking forward to final edits on Lies of the Dead, with the help of good feedback and comments from my beta readers.