Sunday, 10 March 2019

Keeping It Simple

Like most things, IT stuff gets easier the more you use it. I'm reasonably certain one of my first blogs was about being a Technophobe and in true TP fashion, I now can't find it. I probably deleted it when I wrote the post titled 'Techno-Phobia Be Gone'  (13th Oct 2015), thinking it was time to get positive about this thing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
It's taken a while! Almost 4 years since I wrote the one above and even longer since that original wail about all things techno. I had a habit of trying something, feeling all gung-ho because I was going to CRUNCH it, but it wouldn't be long before I was so frustrated I'd toss it aside and find someone to do it for me.
For someone whose childhood chant was 'I can do it myself', I can't believe it took me so long. Finally, I've learned a few things which seem to be working for me.
 - Baby steps. Don't get hung up on the whole project and the fact you want it done in a day. (Actually, I've always preferred things done yesterday. Could be part of the problem. :) Learn one thing at a time and keep it.
- There are many varied ways to do most things on a computer, even working with basic programmes. Usually, they are simpler, easier to follow - and much slower. But since I don't have a modern, fast, computer-oriented brain that is perfect for me.
- There is nothing like a good friend who knows stuff and is willing to share their expertise - patiently! Thanks, Lyn Rasmussen.
- Keep it simple. I'm talking about book covers here. They don't have to be elaborate compilations of all the elements in the whole damn story! They just need to convey genre. At a glance, they should scream Historical/Sci-Fi/Horror/ Mystery/Romance, so a reader knows at a glance whether it's the genre they're looking for.
So, I'm feeling pretty chuffed as I've finally changed the cover on a book that's been bothering me for ages and I'm pretty happy with it. See 'The Virgin Widow' above.

 A few weeks ago I also updated the covers on the 3 contemporaries. Hopefully, they look somewhat more enticing than they did before.

Now I'm working on re-doing the covers for the Crystal Series and getting those 2 books back on my Amazon bookshelf too. I think I've nailed 'Crystal Warrior' with some help from Lyn.

And of course, I've just made a heap more work for myself. There will need to be changes made to my website, my FB page and probably a few other things I haven't thought of yet!
At least boredom won't be a problem!
And then, of course, this jolly thing won't download tidily when I publish it!
Yeah, I hear you. Just keeping me humble!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

A blog to my granddaughter.

In response to this question from my Grand-daughter on FB:-

Shayla E. Mc Nananana Jenny, question! Do you have a favorite book of all time? Or something you have read so profound it drove you to write? Xx
Dearest Shay!
My answer to that was way too long for FB so I decided to blog my answer. 
Once upon a time - quite a long time ago! - when I was probably JUST old enough to start reading the books on my mother's bookshelf - I found
"Paddy the Next Best Thing" by Gertrude Page. It had a plain blue cloth cover like most books did back then. It had probably had a dust cover when it was new, but that was way before I found it. I'm pretty certain the spine was broken by then. So I'm guessing it was written early in 1900s.
It's a delightful Irish romance. Red-headed tomboy, Paddy, and her beautiful dreamy sister, Eileen, live next door to the parsonage at Omeath and the parson's son, the gorgeous rapscallion, Jack O'Hara. 
Paddy & Jack are the greatest mates, getting into all sorts of scrapes together and Paddy of course just knows they will grow up and marry. Trouble is, Jack falls for Eileen. But this is Paddy's story and she does get her HEA, just least where she expected it.
But the charm of this story for me was the humour and Gertrude Page's ability to create such vivid word pictures I have never forgotten them.
I could see the mountains and the loch and Paddy skimming over it in her yacht - and falling out. I could picture Patrick's pig shed where Jack and Paddy had gone to help him catch the piglets for market. Patrick's housekeeper, a very large woman called Dan'l, was to stand in the doorway to stop the little blighters escaping. But the mighty Dan'l was no match for a charge of piglets intent on escape and came down in an ignominious heap with one squealing piglet trapped beneath her.
In a way this story was a treatise on growing from the careless pleasures of youth which we tend to take for granted, to the emotional reality of adulthood and the painful lessons we sometimes have to learn along the way. It was full of love and fun, of grief and pain, of staggering and picking oneself up and learning to live again. And love again. 
Once I've read a book, I've read it and have no interest in re-reading it. But I couldn't tell you how many times I re-read that book. I would try to hide it because I knew it was an oddball kind of thing to do! Because, of course, Mum noticed - and commented.
"Jennifer, you're not reading that book again, are you?"
Well - yes, I was. Many times. I made sure I inherited it and had it on my shelf so I could indulge whenever I fancied.
Then disaster struck in the form a house fire in 1981 in which we lost everything. There were many things I deeply regretted losing in that fire - but of course, they were only things. We were all alive!
But one loss I could never reconcile with was 'Paddy the Next Best Thing'.
I spent the next 20 years checking out every second-hand bookshop I came across, searching the shelves for an old blue covered book.
I found a lot, but never the one I was looking for.
I even considered writing the thing from memory, for I was pretty certain I could!
Then on a visit to Wanganui, I found a little shop where the old books were well laid out and I really can't remember whether I asked and yes they had it, or whether I just found it. I suspect it was the former because it was not the blue book I was looking for.
But there it was, re-issued in paperback! The 720th Thousand! And it had apparently been a Best-Seller!
Nothing could compare with how I felt in that moment. It was like a lost child had been restored to me! And I couldn't wait to get home to read it again.
And guess what? Now you've made me think about it, I will just have to read it - yet again!
So there you have it - and it's not even sexy! I guess it would not have been lurking on my mother's bookshelf if it had been!
But I would credit this book with starting my lifelong passion for reading and writing romance.
And if you want to check it out for yourself, it's now available free on Amazon. 

Monday, 21 January 2019

5* Reviews for 'Lords of the matrix Club' series.

I love the characters who come to life in my books and the wonderful stories they share with me.
But the pearl is when my readers love them too. Am so very grateful.
Here are three reviews written for the last book in the 'Lords of the Matrix Club' series, but encompassing all four.
"She is wonderful creating different men and women for each book yet equally relatable and unique. The emotional and passionate scenarios are so clearly written you wonder if maybe she is speaking from experience. Anyways all four books are amazing but this fourth and last was my favorite."
"I absolutely loved reading every book in this seriesI couldn't put the books down. You are a true star!!"
"I thoroughly enjoyed the Lords of the Matrix Club series. The plots are extremely intriguing and all the characters are quite engaging. The relationships between the cousins add a layer of depth to the series. I look forward to future books."
Feeling blessed.
Next? The "Ladies of Stannesford" series. It's not coming as fast as I would like but I'm getting back into the flow now Christmas and New Year holidays are behind us.
Stannesford is a fictional village in Oxfordshire and the heroines and some of the heroes grew up on the five large estates surrounding the village.
Here's part of what's taking so long! I am visual apparently and need to be able to see things - and the details kept popping in!
I'm no artist - but you get the idea!

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Writing ‘The Earl of Windermere Takes a Wife’.

I'm discounting this book for a short time so thought it an opportunity to talk a little about the writing of it.
The first in the 'Lords of the Matrix Club' series, it was a challenge to write.
Windermere had loved Miss Jassinda Carlisle since childhood. But being eleven years older he'd had to wait for her to grow up. During his years at university, he became involved with a deviant professor's wife who sexually abused him and left him with deep psychological scars as a result. By the time Jassie was sixteen and determined on her first kiss from the man she'd loved all her life and was going to marry the moment she might, he knew he would never be any woman's husband.
So began years of pain, years in which he tried to stay away, but couldn't. Years in which she waited and hoped, not really understanding. Jassie was twenty-five when she took matters into her own hands and forced Windermere into a situation where marriage was the only honorable option.
He determined he would not be a proper husband to her and risk damaging her also. Jassie was more determined their marriage would be totally normal.
She promised him her love was unconditional.
Even so, Windermere needed help and there were no psychologists in the Regency era. What then? Who could one approach about such a private, sensitive and sordid matter? Who would know most about deviant sexual needs and problems? My decision was a brothel madam which led to some interesting intervention.
I loved that I was able to gain Windermere a normal marriage and a normal life with the woman of his heart, and that Jassie had the stamina to take the journey with him.
If you want to know more, take your chance to acquire your copy while it's discounted to the bargain price of just 99c. Here's the link.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

35 Years.

35 years ago today I was 20 minutes late for the most important moment of my life (courtesy of my boss, Grant McKenzie, and soon to be brother-in-law, Paddy Coogan, who thought it a great joke! Thank you!) It has never been forgotten!)
However, it was definitely the start of the best years of my life. Of course, it hasn't all been plain-sailing - how boring would that be? This is life, after all! But considering what many would have called 'the obstacles' we started with - the bride was 13 years older than the groom and had four teenage children, three of whom were still at home - I am feeling totally blessed. So glad we had the strength to go with how we felt 35 years ago instead of bowing to 'what people would think'!
What richness we have shared. love you even more today than when you waited those awful 20 minutes 35 years ago...!

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Birds Told Me...

Am feeling very grateful for my life.
I have just had a week in writing paradise, a lovely holiday home among the bush, above Lake Taupo, at Pukawa. The only sounds were the birds and the breeze. A single beautiful flax was blooming just off the deck and tui came to visit it several times a day. Tui are nectar eaters and they start at the top flowers and systematically dip into every blossom on the way down the stalk.
Their magical song made up of ringing bell-like tones and deep 'churr' noises can be heard above the bush all day long.
They are also quite territorial, and noisy about it!

A kowhai tree grew a little further back which attracted a big fat kereru (wood pigeon) to munch on the green foliage. He only visited once but I was able to capture the moment.
Kereru are as large as a small hen and look rather incongruous perched in the delicate branches of the kowhai, but they seem to manage without mishap.

One afternoon while writing at the table on the deck, an odd sound caught my attention and I turned to see a pair of quail come out onto the small patch of lawn. I grabbed my camera and began videoing. Suddenly there appeared what I thought was a small flock of sparrows about their feet. It took me a minute to realise that it was baby quail, looking like bumblebees on stilts! There must have been a dozen at least. Unfortunately, the video is on it's side and I don't know how to turn it round and  I didn't get a still shot of them. So - a sideways video of the quail!
That same afternoon a bird that I didn't recognise visited the birdbath. And I will share another sideways video of it, hoping someone might know what it is. It was a little bit smaller than the tui and had a solid white ring about its neck.

Strangely enough, I did get quite a bit of writing done while I was there!
And the final morning Mother Nature gave us a glorious farewell.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Cabbage Trees - and - er - Superstitions or somesuch...

I love cabbage trees - Ti kouka, in Maori.
It is said that Maori believed when ti kouka flowered profusely it was the sign of a hot summer, or drought.
Whatever the cause they are particularly showy this year. They grow all over New Zealand and love swampy ground.

Below are some facts from a Dept. of Conservation article:-

  • Māori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The root, stem and top are all edible, a good source of starch and sugar. The fibre is separated by long cooking or by breaking up before cooking. 
  • The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • Cabbage trees were also planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupā (cemeteries) and births, since they are generally long-lived.
Beautiful and useful too!
I'm writing this post because I can't resist taking photos and these beautiful trees were in my sights lately. Just want to share a few photos with you.