The rarest treasure in the garden

A golden camellia – and it’s been a long wait.

Our garden is less than a quarter of an acre, but many years ago we became so invested in camellias we ended up with more than 250 of them. Heavily pruned – obviously. We exhibited at shows, became camellia judges, wrote for horticultural publications, generally gained a great deal of pleasure from these beautiful flowers and the like-minded people we met from all over the world because of them.

One of the varieties we bought was Camellia Chrysantha – a golden variety from a botanical institute in China. Year after year we looked forward to flowers – as did many of our Camellia Society friends. No flowers. We all decided we’d been duped as the years rolled on and on and on.

But this morning we found them – clear yellow flowers as promised. A bit battered because they’d fallen to the ground, but there are more buds to follow so hopefully we’ll get some better photos.

Kris Pearson - Camellia Chrysantha

What Kristen Lamb said, and what I did about it

If you’re interested in writing and social media, you’ll know about Kristen Lamb – Author, Blogger and Social Media Jedi, in her own words. Indeed, according to her Amazon page she’s ‘the author of the top resource for author branding in the digital age’.


Fourteen months ago, Kristen was a special guest speaker at the Romance Writers of New Zealand annual conference in Rotorua. This is the tourist city in the centre of our North Island – an explosive place where the earth’s crust is very thin, and mud-pools plop and bubble, steam roars out of vents, and boiling water shoots into the air to alarming heights. If you visit, stick to the signposted paths!

Kristen spent all of Friday encouraging us to blog very frequently – three times a week was the magic number she’d settled on – and to make ourselves sound like real people. We could report a baking disaster (and follow it up with a little mention of our latest book.) We could talk about a family situation (and follow it up with a little mention of our latest book.) You see where I’m going with this?

She was a noisy, confident, engaging speaker, and plainly if she was a Social Media Jedi she knew more than me and I’d better give it a go. Oh sigh…

Time Flying

Do you ever get everything done? My husband and I were talking this morning about prioritising stuff…. As in not trying to do too much at the same time and getting distracted. He’s a four-jobs-at-once person, and twice in a row now he’s forgotten to put sugar in our coffee because he was also trying to do other things. Today it was wash out some paintbrushes, phone the hospital the check on his mother (she broke her hip last week) and check on sandpaper supplies while he set the coffee going.

I’m a ‘make a list, do it in order’ person. And cross it off once it’s done. I love to see all those things being obliterated. Things like ‘pick beans, plant pansies, reply to Shirley, find good disease for Meifeng’s mother, check on Chinese translations, get Portuguese cover designed, send message re local writers’ workshop at library, paint dining room top windows, do Friday’s accounts, varnish nails.’

It’s autumn/fall here in Wellington. It’s been an amazingly hot, record-breaking summer so the flowers are all giving up a little early. Even a few leaves are drifting down. (‘Rake leaves, buy polyanthus, spread compost, plan love scene’). So on top of extra gardening tasks we’ve had the chance to get a lot of paint onto our 104 year-old-timber house. ‘Buy hinges, buy filler, choose back door colour, mow lawns.’

Kris Pearson - garden plants

Friends with benefits

No – not that kind!

The old idea of a writer labouring on alone in a quiet room has well and truly had its day. For a start, many of us like to write to music. The kind of music we choose might influence what we are writing, or it could simply be something we enjoy.

If it has vocals then I lose all concentration and sing along with the lyrics in my brain, totally distracted from the words I’ve been trying to write my story with. Instrumental stuff is fine - unless it’s an instrumental version of something I know well. Then I start singing along in my brain again…

I have friends who prefer to block out the rest of the world by wearing ear buds or headphones and lose themselves in the music. I have one friend who resorted to industrial ear protectors because other noises were so distracting to her. She wanted to lose herself in total silence.

I live on a really busy road with a school nearby. There tend to be traffic noises, enthusiastic yells from children, sometimes a hideous screech of brakes followed by loud hooting from the roundabout on the closest corner. And occasionally that’s followed by a police siren or an ambulance. I don’t leave my chair for the brakes, but a siren will have me whipping out of the front door to see what’s going on.

Love from Basil

We grow great basil. It always sits on my husband’s workshop window sill because it really likes it there. Year after year we can hardly keep up with it. Salads, pasta, pizza – yum.

This year it’s outdoing itself - practically escaping through the glass - so I said to him I’d put a photo on my Facebook page for fun.

“Did you get it?” he asked a little later.


“The basil photo I sent you.”

“No. When did you send it?”

“About an hour ago.”

“No sign of it.”

(Puzzled) “Oh, it must be there by now. Ummm….! ”


(Cautious) “Are you Kriswrites?”

“No. Where did you get that from?”

Kriswrites is Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s excellent blog. (You should check it out.) Plainly I‘d sent him a link to it at some stage and it had put itself into his address book. Right about now she may be rather puzzled as to why she’s received a photo of a basil plant from an unknown admirer in New Zealand. I’m hoping he didn’t put an affectionate comment with it.

The one-star reviews

I’d love to know more about the psychology of these. Why do people bother to write them? Especially if they want to hide behind a fake name? Hey, no-one knows it’s you unless you tell your friends, and why would you want to tell your friends you’re being a bit mean? (And sometimes a bit stupid, too.)

Bookbub ad, Kris Pearson, Jan 11, 2018

My novel COWBOY WANTS HER HEART has just finished its free run after being featured on Bookbub on January 11th. A total of more than 80,000 copies were downloaded free from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords and Google Play in case you're wondering. Incredible result. The hope was that it would sell more of my others if you enjoyed it. Yes – I’ve had some brilliant sales days since then.

The downside is just enough one and two-star reviews to knock the ranking from 4.5 stars down to 4 on Amazon because of course not everyone’s going to like it. Each time a book goes free many people who wouldn’t normally buy it do give it a go. Excellent! Some very nice new reviews have appeared.

And a few of the others, too. “Historical novel meets present day doesn’t work well.” Um – did this person have the right book? There’s nothing historical about it. But one sad star as a result, along with the comment “Good thing it was free.”

Six years an indie

Writing can be a very lonely job if you let it be. I love to be on my own to write, and really don’t like my husband popping by with news items to distract me. There’s time enough to hear about approaching storms, truck crashes and celebrity scandals once I’m back in the real world. Unfortunately, my writing room (grandly called The Office) leads through to his workshop, and he’s not inclined to take the long way around. He did take this photo of me though, so here I am at my tiny desk. Definitely the best size for me because the bigger the desk the more clutter I’d end up with.

I’m thinking about friends today because I had a lovely visit with Diana Fraser yesterday. We talked all morning about old times and new times. It’s six years since we started indie publishing together – giving each other courage and swapping notes and tips. Here we are, all dressed up at one of the Romance Writers of New Zealand conferences. Probably close enough to that magic day six years ago! We haven’t changed a bit. Maybe.

Judge a book by its cover

I guess it’s easy to judge things by appearances – an elegant greyhound versus a scruffy mutt. A beautifully groomed woman versus one who obviously makes no effort with her hair or clothes. A shiny new car versus a battered old rust-bucket.

Does the same apply for book covers? I always enjoy a look through the charts of the iBook store because there are so many covers so close together that comparisons are easy. Amazon’s charts display twenty at a time and then you have to click to the next page, but the iBook store has two hundred at a time to scroll easily through.

Here are Amazon’s top sellers for this week (six of which are Harry Potter!)

Here’s a page from Amazon’s best sellers today (updated hourly).

The Frog Blog

We’ve had a couple of ponds and a waterfall in the garden for more than twenty years now. Just as well we built them when we were young enough to heave all those big rocks around…

We started with tropical waterlilies – I’m hopelessly optimistic. And we did indeed get amazing purple-blue lilies up on high stalks for the first season. Then the frost got them and I bought some sensible hardy ones. Also bought half a dozen goldfish, because by then we had mosquitos. It was highly amusing watching the fish chase the larvae around in the water. Bye-bye mosquitoes.

But whoops – hello fish! They liked each other! They made dozens more fish in no time. It’s a good thing fish are cannibals. The big ones ate most of the tiny ones, and the population stayed more or less in balance. Over the years the odd one has floated to the top and been added to the compost, but surprisingly few. It seems they live a very long time. They're friendly little things, and always scoot over to side of the pond where they spot a person - no doubt after food.

Doing not much for Christmas

23 of us have combined resources for this Christmas blog hop. You can win by visiting the post of a different author each day and comment on the individual posts to go in the draw to win a book at each hop.

Then by clicking on the Rafflecopter link at the end, you'll be entered in the grand Christmas Eve prize draw for a $150 Amazon gift card. Second prize: 30 ebooks. Third prize… e-books from the individual authors.

I’m writing this a little earlier than my ‘official’ blog hop day because you know what? It’s Sunday, and I’ve spent the morning working at my ‘day job’. And that’s the way it will go up to Christmas until I can finally stop and sit down. Then I can write with a clear conscience and hopefully a calm mind.

By day I’m a curtain installer – an ideal ‘other’ job for a nosy romance writer. My husband and I have worked together for the last twenty-plus years. He has a background in electronics and TV. I have a background in advertising. Good qualifications to run a curtain business???  Well yes, actually! He’s a skilled carpenter and metal-worker and there’s nothing in this world he can’t fix if it breaks down. Maybe a nuclear reactor, but happily we don’t have one of those. He’d probably give it a go.