Friday, 14 February 2020

New Beginnings

The annual RWNZ conference is always a source of inspiration and cause for some quite child-like excitement - every year!
I always take heaps of raffles as the proceeds go to RWNZ. In 2018 I won a 3-chapter edit from Grace Burrowes. Grace writes sexy Regency romance too, so that was invaluable.
In 2019 I won a 2-hour marketing makeover with Melissa Storm.
(Yes, I am very blessed and very grateful!)
I've had one 40 minute session so far and she turned my world upside down.
So far I've changed my author name and the titles of my Regency series, Lords of the Matrix Club and the covers so they actually look and sound like a series!
The new covers were created by Dar Albert of whose work speaks for itself. Do you see how she put all the heroes together on the cover of the novella that starts the series off?
No wonder Mel Storm said Dar was 'the best'.
I've fallen in love with my guys all over again!
New Covers

Old covers

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

The Beast & the Butterfly. #2.

(The following has been copied from the Country File Magazine, (on line).

Large blue Phengaris arion
The British race of this magnificent royal blue butterfly was declared extinct in 1979. Since then, the Swedish race has been naturalised in the West Country by a dedicated team led by top butterfly scientist Prof Jeremy Thomas.
This race is now quite well established in the Polden Hills in mid Somerset, where several colonies result from natural spread. It is also being re-established in the Cotswolds and Devon.
It flies during June on sunny slopes where the grass is kept short, and visits wild thyme flowers. The larvae feed for a while on wild thyme before becoming predators of the grubs of a single species of warmth-loving red ant. The large blue lives for 10 months underground in the ant nests.
Where to see
Access is difficult at most sites, and most colonies are extremely small. The National Trust runs an open access site at Collard Hill, near Street, Somerset. This supports one of the largest known colonies in Europe.
Henry Davencourt would have been pleased to know his beloved butterflies are being cared for.
Here is excerpt #2 of Henry's story.

'Like a butterfly.'
‘A butterfly struggling on a pin, if you ask me,’ sniffed his oh so elegant mother.
He'd heard nothing else of the dinner table conversation between Mama and her companion, Cousin Eugenia. Nothing unusual in that. He rarely listened or bothered to try to slip in even a word. They never expected him to anyway.

But butterflies always got his attention. It was the very topic exercising his mind at the moment—where was the most likely place to acquire a perfect specimen of the rare large blue. He'd been working for years on a painting in which he hoped to showcase every species of British butterfly known to exist.
At his mother's next words he realized she was talking of a woman and almost ignored what came next, except she had captured him with that image of a beautiful creature struggling on a pin—a pin wielded by Uncle Charles, apparently.
‘She's the niece of his first wife, sent from France by her mother for a Season under the auspices of her uncle. What her mother was thinking, I can't imagine!’
‘Lady Wilhelmina will surely keep a wary eye on her husband?’ Eugenia said. ‘She must know how he is.’
‘Perhaps,’ his mother muttered, ‘but there's many a slip betwixt cup and lip, as the saying goes. Not a situation any young gel would like to find herself in, beholden to my scoundrel of a brother-in-law for the roof over her head, the food in her belly, and the clothes on her back—and having to tread carefully with that witch, Wilhelmina. The sooner she marries the better, I should think.’
‘With her looks it shouldn't take long,’ Eugenia opined.
‘Her coming-out ball is only a week away. No doubt there’ll be plenty of interest. Plenty to recommend her to those who don’t mind her lack of fortune.’
Henry went back to his eating and ruminations. He hadn’t thought to attend his uncle’s ball, but damn if his curiosity wasn’t piqued.
A butterfly to add to his collection…perhaps.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Beast & The Butterfly. #1.

I'm writing the origin novella of my next series. It's going to be a freebie so I thought I might serialize it here, as I write it!
Never done this before but I am a bit anxious about my hero. He has mild Asperger's Syndrome - but of course, no one understood that in 1788! He is just a 'boor' and occasionally cruelly referred to as the 'Beast of Stannesford' for his deliberate and often unmannerly way of doing things. His social skills are nil in a world where social skills counted for everything.
It's first draft so I welcome comments, suggestions, and critiques! Don't hold back. Tell me what you think! 😼
Of course, what I really want to know is whether you would want to read Henry's story - or not?
Identify a butterfly | Butterfly Conservation

The Peacock butterfly

The Beast & the Butterfly . (Excerpt 1.)
At twenty-six Henry Davencourt was still a virgin.
The fact bothered him. If he was honest, it was starting to obsess him—but he wasn't like other men—men like his cousins, who never obsessed about anything and had long ago discovered the delights of copulation with a willing maid or tavern wench, on any convenient flat surface as soon as they could decently perform.
Henry was different. He’d discovered that early in life when he realized no one else shared his fascination with creatures that could fly. The agony he'd felt when his cousin, Louis, casually pulled the wings off a beautiful peacock butterfly still had the power to hollow out his gut twenty years later.
Curled over with pain, he had desperately tried to reaffix the delicate wings to the still-struggling body of the tortured creature, his small chubby fingers doing more damage with every frantic movement.
Ultimately, Louis’ laughter had become too much and Henry had transmorphed from the solemn, quiet little lad who was usually lost in his own private world of natural wonders to a wind-milling tornado of arms and legs that quickly had Louis howling and running for his nurse. Henry had got into trouble for blacking Louis’ eye and he and his twin brother, Jonathan, had rarely visited after that.
Which had suited Henry just fine. He had little empathy for his own kind and had developed a lifelong fascination with butterflies—to his father's unending disgust.
‘What sort of man chases butterflies? And spends his days painting them—in watercolors? Why can't you gamble and wench and be a drain on my purse like a normal son? Like your damned cousins, for instance? Do you even want a woman?’
‘When I find the right woman—’
‘Pshaw! When you find the right woman how will you know what to do if you haven't even dipped your wick?’

The question had rankled ever since Papa had tossed it at him a few months before he'd died of a heart attack, making Henry the Earl and responsible for providing the heir to carry on the title. It had gnawed at Henry, but it had not chewed through his resolve to wait. Only tempered it even more.
He would wait for the right woman, his woman, but he would not wait idly.
When God and the angels saw fit to bring them together he would be ready. He would know.
To that end his extensive library of books on butterflies and other insects had been augmented with a small but comprehensive section on the sexual habits of humans.
So perhaps it was time to give in to his mother's constant demands that he show his face in London, for part of the Season at least. For the truth of the matter was, he was never going to find his wife along the stream banks and among the wildflowers of rural Oxfordshire. The ballrooms of London were a much more likely habitat for that rare and elusive creature, his future wife.
His body was way past finding any satisfaction or even relief from his lonely manual ministrations. The logistics and the likelihood of finding that one woman among so many in a matter of four to five weeks, which was all he cared to spend in the capital, was far-fetched, he knew.
But in his experience, when the time was right, a lot could be accomplished. One just had to believe.
And believe he did.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Romance Writer's Conference in Christchurch - and other Travels.

For the first time in 26 years, Romance Writers of NZ held their annual conference in the South Island. I visited Christchurch about 36 years ago, very briefly. It was to be the beginning of a tour of the South Island with three of my teenage children and my sister and her family. Unfortunately, my husband's (we weren't even engaged then!) father died and I immediately flew back to Wellington, leaving my sister and husband to begin our South Island odyssey without me. I caught them up in Dunedin. So I missed seeing Christchurch in all her pre-earthquake glory. Nevertheless, I loved the city and felt deeply moved by the evidence of grit and determination as they fight back and rebuild. 
I was impressed with their efforts to retain their history. Regent Street and the tram were favourites.
Custard squares and books are two of Petes favourites. it was a no-brainer when the two came together on one notice board!

To his disappointment, there were no custard squares. I came to the conclusion it was evidence of the after-earthquake humour.  The bookshop (in a caravan) was set up in The Square, which had 'turned to custard'.

Thanks RWNZ for taking the 2019 Conference to Christchurch and giving me an excuse to finally acquaint myself with this beautiful part of our country.

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!