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Friends for you to meet

I'm pleasantly exhausted after two very long drives and three wonderful days of full-on annual conference. Romance Writers of New Zealand's special guests from the USA included blogger and author Kristen Lamb, author Christie Craig (amazing!!!) and agents and editors from top overseas publishing houses.

Kris Pearson RWNZ conference 

So who's in the photo? And were we a bit tipsy?

Knowing Nalini

I’ve been writing in my head as I garden. It’s a fine cold winter’s day here, so I’m making the most of the great weather - and using it to think about other people’s successes. That’s one of the nicest things about being a writer - you don’t just enjoy your own success, but all around you friends are having their own great moments.

I’ve titled this blog Knowing Nalini because she’s someone I’ve known for many years, and it has been a total pleasure to watch her go from success to success. I’m talking about Nalini Singh of course. I ‘met’ her at my first Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. Sitting up by the stage was a large blow-up ET-type alien labelled Nalini. When I enquired why, I was told that Nalini was there in spirit, but was in fact in Japan busy writing. Okay – even then she was obviously held in high regard. I found out more.

Her first book was a Harlequin Mills & Boon Desire. I still have it right here - a sheikh fantasy. Nalini’s ‘Desert Warrior’ dates from 2003, and I was obviously enchanted by her made-up kingdom of Zulheil and handsome sheikh Tariq, because I went on to write a couple of my own in the made-up Middle Eastern kingdom of Al Sounam. (I have two more planned for that series, and whereas they’re both started, they’re a long way from finished. Sorry.)

New books from me and 'her'

Do you ever wish you could be someone else? I’ve just become someone else, and for an unusual reason.

A year or so back, a publisher in China asked if I could remove the sexy love scenes from my books. What??? No!

In fact it’s not me who puts the sex in – it’s the characters themselves. It’s perfectly possible to write for ages in the zone and get a real surprise when you read the manuscript back. This is where the bedroom photography scene in Hard to Regret came from. I didn’t set out to write it… Anna and Jason simply started to live it. I was thrilled when I discovered what they were doing.

Cover, The Boat Builder's Bed - Kris Pearson   Cover - The Boat Builder's Bargain - Kris Pearson

The nicest people

Well, I think readers are pretty great – but writers are just a tiny bit better! Maybe not for any reason you’re expecting though.

I’ve been around for a while – worked in various places – and I can say without word of a lie that writers are the most co-operative people I’ve ever found. There’s no ‘keeping secrets’ in case we’ve discovered something good just for us. We share. Maybe we share too much sometimes, but we’re all in this together! I guess we remember the thrill of finally writing THE END on a manuscript, or selling our first book, or seeing our first royalties arrive. These things are so exciting we want others to enjoy them too.

Case in point: the current Easter promotion I’m part of. This is a whole bunch of authors willing to make a book free or 99 cents. We’re being coordinated by the wonderful Tracey Alvarez, and if you click on this picture, you’ll see all the books listed so you can download what you like. Dozens of them!

       

The whole big group has written newsletters, blogs, facebook messages, instagrams, and tweets. We’re liking and sharing like mad to spread the joy. Working on behalf of each other – because there really is strength in numbers. 

Prizes and Pretties

Hello – something different from me this time. I’m taking part in the 6th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop, and this means the chance for you to win daily prizes or the grand prize of a Kindle Fire or Nook (your choice). The second prize is a $25 gift card, and individual authors each have their own prizes too.

We’re to include gardening or cooking tips. For me it will be gardening - and my tip is a four letter word: POTS. I have pots everywhere - on our big deck, and standing in the garden beds themselves. I hide the pots up the back of the yard once they’re past their best, replant them and bring them out when they start to look good again. Sometimes they look good for months. They’re a great way to brighten up a shady or difficult area, they foil my next door neighbour’s three cats from digging and pooping, and if you’re a cheapskate like me then you can use your home-made compost and always find a few self-sown seedlings to pop in the pots. Primulas, pansies, impatiens, begonias and French marigolds pretty much take care of the whole year here in Wellington, New Zealand.

  

The biggest distraction

I wish I could just write. Day after day of peaceful progress would be wonderful. Life surely does get in the way though.

There’s ‘writing stuff’ – replying to lovely reader’s emails, checking out the e-newsletters and buying too many books, (Melanie Harlow, Melanie Harlow!) recording my overnight sales figures, planning and booking promotions - which is really time-consuming - and keeping up with emails from friends who are writers, and sometimes critiquing or proofreading for them. That’s all legit.

There’s the garden, which is just sliding from summer to autumn, but is still full of flowers (including another flush of gorgeous white waterlilies in the pond.) I can’t ignore it. I get a lot of pleasure from it, and so do my visitors.

There’s the curtain work – less of it these days – but there are still jobs that are so big or so high that they require two of us. And I like meeting all those people and seeing their houses and gardens and cats and dogs.

But being self-employed and semi-retired has its drawbacks, because there is, undeniably, the husband. His workshop is right next to my office. I am the shortcut through the house! Would I like a cup of coffee? Tea? What are we having for lunch? Do we need any groceries while he’s out at the hardware store? Did I hear about the terrible flooding up north? Does my car need petrol yet? Oh f……………..or heaven’s sake!

New life for old books

I’ve got my knickers in a twist (or panties in a knot, apparently, if I was American!) about books that haven’t been updated when they so easily could be.

What’s got me going is a book published in 2016 by a well-known New Zealand author. It must be an old one she’s bought back her publication rights to and re-published. Nice enough read, but it mentions several times ‘The Holmes Show’ and ‘the top-rated Paul Holmes news show’. Paul stopped fronting that show in 2004 - that’s thirteen years ago. How easy it would have been to just tweak out the name a few times and call it ‘the top-rating evening news show’ or something before republishing it in ebook form.

I had to do this with Seduction on the Cards. I’d given my hero Alexandre a phone that went out of date, but it was easy enough to change it to ‘a smartphone’ or whatever I did before I reloaded the book. I also tweaked a camcorder out of my first sheikh novel, because now it’s so easy to video with your phone.

Somewhere in this house I have a Nora Roberts double re-issue. It’s a paperback, some years old now, but I was astounded to find the heroine pounding away on an electric typewriter. How long have we had computers? That would have been so easy for the publishers to bring up to date.

Christmas v. technology

This is embarrassing! It’s already January and I’ve only just published my Christmas novella. It popped straight up on Smashwords, which means it will be on iBooks any minute and Nook and Kobo in the next couple of days. It should appear on Amazon overnight.

You see – I was so attracted to this great photo for a cover that I began writing. Thought it would only be a seasonal shortie, but it’s grown past 14,000 words, included a visit to Christian and Fiona from THE WRONG SISTER, and turned itself into a novella. That’s part of the reason it’s late, but the rest is technological frustration.

                          

A few weeks ago, my ever-helpful husband decided I should upgrade to Windows 10 and installed it for me. Ooops – not quite the result he wanted so he stripped it off and reloaded. BUT! He stripped off a lot more that he expected. I’ve spent the last month re-finding all the places I want, re-bookmarking them, and being told I can’t have that password and email address because someone else already has it. (Yes – me!) Much grinding of teeth.

On shaky ground

Wellington, where I live, has been knocked around by earthquakes lately. Midnight is not a nice time to be woken up by shivers that turn into rattles that morph rapidly into very frightening shaking. The first one was the biggest earthquake I’ve ever been through – 7.5, and subsequently upgraded to 7.8 by the American Geological Survey. This has provided me with a whole new job experience.

Kris Pearson - hard at work!

This is me in the life I lead when I’m not writing. My husband and I have a curtain installation company and spend our time up ladders playing with interesting metalwork and sumptuous fabrics. On this occasion though, we’re working in a condemned apartment block rescuing curtains for use elsewhere. I’ve just taken down the curtains from behind all those helpful boxes. We’re working our way through many, many, windows. We’re tired and scratchy and hot (and in my case looking very stout and far from beautiful.) That’s my very own hard–hat, with a special sticker saying I’m allowed on site. The building still shakes. Hopefully not with anything close to another 7.8 while we’re inside. We’ve had more than four thousand aftershocks, ranging from trembly to terrifying.

Making Alfie blonde

I wrote Alfreida Hamlin of COWBOY WANTS HER HEART as a dark-haired girl. Don’t know why – she just seemed right that way. But could I find an acceptable photo of a beautiful brunette and a cowboy for the cover? I spent endless hours searching the photo sites.

I have to tell you cowboy shots include a lot of silly send-ups, total hayseeds, and horses stealing the limelight. Things like this.

     

And yes, I’ve chosen some to give you a laugh, but there are a whole series featuring each of these couples. Get your hands off her bottom, boy! And what were you thinking - wearing heels like that on the ranch?

A solitary cowboy is easier, but I didn’t want him on his own. He needed his girl. In the end I settled for a couple who were a few years too old, and not enough like the Alfie and Rory I had in mind.

When things aren’t right, they niggle away at me, and my cowboy quest quietly continued. Then, when I least expected it, there they were. But she was blonde! I gritted my teeth and tried to ignore the shot. But… western hat… man who looked well worth knowing… girl planting a nice kiss on him…

Shame she was blonde.

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