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Sharing my friends

I just thought of something – I didn’t put anything on my website about the recent Romance Writers of New Zealand conference (and I'm on the committee already helping to plan the next one for August 2017 in Wellington.) Here’s a small taste of what we got up to –

Kris Pearson - RWNZ conference

Our Awards Dinner was themed 'Austentatious' and we were invited to wear Regency costumes. Easier said than done when you have to fly with a suitcase, but many locals managed it. There was a charming dance demonstration to kick the evening off.

Next to our dancers is Becky Watts, winner of the Pacific Hearts Award for new writers. She's on her way!

Below the dancers we have two Harlequin writers whose books I'm sure you'll have read and enjoyed - Sue Mackay and Barbara DeLeo.

Joanne Grant, editor from Harlequin UK, wears the stunning red and white striped dress in the next shot, and in black and white we have Elizabeth King, fresh from winning a Golden Heart Award at the huge RWA conference in San Diego.

Down the bottom we have big smiles from Kristina O'Grady (we always refer to each other as 'other Kris'), visiting American author Heather Graham (200+ books), president Bernadette, Heather's husband at the back, and their dark-haired daughter China next to me.

Writers' Fuel

Once a month my local writers’ group meets up – to share tea/coffee and whatever we’ve bought to eat. And we talk. And talk. Oh my goodness, how we talk.

Today we met at Ellie’s place. With chocolate, apple pie, doughnuts, date shortcake, eclairs – nothing that was good for us. And because I’ve made pikelets before, and they seem to be enjoyed, I made some more today.

      Kris Pearson - plate of pikelets

Pikelets? We wondered where the name came from because it seems to be peculiar to Australia and New Zealand. A little research indicates it might have originated in Wales – bara pyglyd. I guess py-glyd sounds enough like pikelet to be possible.

We asked Bonnie what they’d be called in Boston, and she said Silver Dollar Pancakes. I like that! Topped with raspberry or strawberry jam they contain no calories at all. If you add whipped cream, even less. We write fiction here…

So this is my very quick and easy pikelet recipe:

Heat a good solid frypan until quite hot.

In a bowl mix together one cup of self-raising flour,

one quarter teaspoon of baking soda,

three tablespoons of sugar.  

In a measuring cup combine half a cup of milk (for starters),

one egg, and one teaspoon of malt vinegar.

Tip the wet ingredients into the dry and stir.

Cover Reveal

What a way to use up precious time when I should be writing! I’m going well on my current book, and it finally has a name – HARD TO REGRET. (What did they regret???)

This is the first of a series set in a beachside place I’ve named Scarlet Bay after the pohutukawa trees that flower at Christmas time. I sent my cover designer a reference to this photo, which was perfect.

To my extreme disappointment she said she’d just used it for someone else. Humph! And it’s maybe even someone I know. She went looking and came up with this alternative, which she felt combined much better with the people I’d chosen. Unbelieveably she'd chosen my old childhood beach of Westshore in Hawkes Bay. She lives in Florida USA. What are the chances of that?

             

I had to agree the combination looked great. I like that girl – she looks as though she has some angst in her past, but maybe she could become the heroine in Book 2, complete with the lovely sunset scene? I really wanted to show a BEACH to set the tone for the series.

Okay, the search was on for an alternative nice piece of New Zealand scenery where this story might have taken place. After using up a lot more data I found the perfect place. No scarlet flowers on the trees, but very much prettier.

My patchwork camellias

Sometimes just being beautiful is enough. These are Guillio Nuccio variegated camellias. The tree is practically pushing them through my sitting room window right now.

Kris Pearson - Guillio Nuccio var camellia

I used to have more than 150 camellias – and then the dreaded petal blight arrived in New Zealand. This is rather like brown rot on peaches – one small spot that grows and ruins them. There’s no cure. It’s spread by the wind-blown spores of a particular little toadstool that appears out of fallen camellia petals that aren’t cleared away.

Someone with a piece of squished-up infected petal in the sole of a shoe possibly walked it out onto kiwi soil from the USA. That’s all it would take. Hopefully no-one was stupid enough to flout the biosecurity rules and try smuggling fresh camellia flowers into the country. We’ll never know.

Is a book ever finished?

Not if it’s an ebook! It really is possible to tweak it forever. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but let’s consider my novel ‘Taken by the Sheikh’.  This was published in 2012, and rapidly became my best selling book. Day after day when I checked the sales figures the Sheikh beat all the others. It outsold newer books launched and just kept on chugging. It’s the same with the Spanish translation ‘Raptada por el Jeque’. It’s only in the last few months that its rankings have fallen away and it has lost the top slot.

I presumed sheikhs had finally had their day. Fashions in writing do change, and my second one – ‘Desired by the Sheikh’ – never did as well as the first. This is despite me having more writing experience by the time I published it, and personally far preferring the story in ‘Desired’ to ‘Taken’. Maybe it’s just the state of the market – many more books out there to compete with?

I decided to go to cover designer Robin Ludwig and commission new covers for everything except the sheikhs. If they’d done their dash it didn’t seem worth spending money on them. Of course once the new designs started rolling in I couldn’t resist smartening up the sheikhs as well.

Covers to die for

I’ve been having a wonderfully interesting time lately with my new covers. Until now I've put them together myself – buying the photos from sites like dreamstimes.com after exhaustive searching. I have a small publishing program, and it's the work of a few minutes to turn out a birthday card or a bookmark – or indeed a book cover. But although the old ones were clear and colourful they never looked professional enough to really please me. The time had arrived for a real designer.

For various reasons I chose Robin Ludwig, and you can find her work here: www.gobookcoverdesign.com

I really didn't know quite what to expect. I hoped (naïvely) that I could keep the same photos of my carefully chosen people and just give them a new look. Nope – Robin wasn't having any of that. When I saw her first suggested design, I absolutely saw why.

The final episode of 'Sniffing Her Out'

R16 content, so read at your discretion.

Several slow paces further and he broke the kiss, pulling back to stare deep into her eyes again. “What a woman,” he murmured. “What a bear you’d make.”

“Noooo…” she protested. “Not yet.”

“Of course not yet,” he assured her, gaze steady on hers. “There’s a lot I need to teach you first, and there’s no guarantee you’ll agree. It doesn’t happen unless you agree.”

He set her on her feet and Atarangi locked her knees into place because she was trembling with excitement. She clung to his shoulders, smiling up at him, turned on beyond belief, but still not entirely certain what to expect from a man who was half bear. Would he be rough?

His kisses were ultra-potent, but she liked them. Loved them! The feeling of being helpless was so new. Men tended to be cautious around her ample, curvy body—treating her like a cuddly toy instead of a hot-blooded woman.  Adam was all hot blood to match hers, and as she leaned against him she knew exactly where a lot of that hot blood had located itself.

It had been dark the night before when he’d shifted from being a bear. She hadn’t managed a detailed inspection, no matter how she’d tried to focus in the gloom. He’d surely had trouble tucking himself away into those jeans though. His man looked even bigger than his bear!

Another episode of 'Sniffing Her Out'

Come home with Adam and Atarangi

The words seemed invested with special significance. Did he mean his home, or that it could be hers as well, one day? Atarangi spun around slowly, taking in all the luxurious furnishings, the big leather sofas, the wonderful works of art. The windows on the far wall stretched from floor to ceiling—a huge expanse of glass that framed the most beautiful view she'd ever seen. She slipped off her high sandals and swung them from a finger as she walked across to admire it. The foreground was filled with the private land they'd just driven through—lush and dark, with the moonlight painting the edges of the foliage with silver. And out beyond that lay the amazing lake. An expanse of black for the most part, but with a broad trail of sparkles reaching right across from the lights of Taupo township and the moon over Mount Tauhara.

“Is the house on stilts?” she asked. “This is incredible, being able to see right out over the treetops.”

He came to join her, resting his hands on the curves of her hips. “No—on a natural rise in the land. It falls away quite steeply just below us.” He nuzzled into her hair, taking big deep breaths. 

The next part of my Kiwi bear

And just a reminder that this might get frisky...

Soon they were speeding along the highway beside the huge lake. Lights rippled on its inky surface, and the trail of moonlight danced and fractured under the starry sky. His hand wandered to her nearest thigh and gave it an affectionate squeeze. Atarangi returned the favour, and then trailed her fingers down to his knee and back again. Or surely somewhat higher?

Adam grunted. “Trying to distract me, pretty girl? I’m on the home stretch of road now, so as long as we don’t hit a tree you can do that all you like.” He turned off the main highway beside a very rural looking mail-box. Stones began to rattle against the underside of the Jeep and the trees closed around them in a forbidding tunnel. “Don’t want to make it too welcoming,” he said in answer to her raised eyebrows. “If we keep the access looking rough, not many people bother coming as far as the lodge.” He switched the headlights to full for better visibility.

She gave his thigh a friendly squeeze. “I don’t remember this from last night.”

“You were pretty shocked, all things considered. I’m not surprised.”

The Jeep ploughed on for another minute or so.

“Do you…” She hesitated.

He glanced sideways. “Do I what?”

She stroked down to his knee. “I don’t mean just you. Do all of you prefer to be bears or men? Dex was a man last night.”

Third episode of Kiwi Bear - a free read for you

Remember - you can read the first two parts by scrolling down. We're getting a little sexy now, so don't continue if you'll be offended.

He collected her the following evening in his big black Jeep, braving the inspections of two bony sisters and the stern glare and nose-pressing hongi greeting from her white-haired grandfather.

“Keep my mokopuna safe,” the old man instructed.

“Koro! He’s already rescued me once,” Atarangi exclaimed. “There’s not a dangerous bone in his body.” She sent Adam a wink.

“Home by midnight. I’ll leave the door unlocked,” the old boy replied.

Atarangi bristled. “I’m twenty-one. Not a teenager.”

“And I’m not a fool, Atarangi. I see the way this man looks at you.”

“She’s beautiful,” Adam inserted. “A treasure to be guarded. I’ll take care of her, never fear.” And he would, because she set all his senses alight in her high-necked black dress and strappy red sandals.

She’s hiding her body, but I know what’s under that modest disguise.

“I’ll be safer with him than anyone else,” Atarangi muttered.

“I’m pleased to hear it,” the old man said, nodding sagely. “Enjoy your dinner.”

Adam drew the door closed behind them and placed his hand on the small of her back as they walked toward the Jeep. The heat of her flesh burned through what felt like one thin layer of fabric, and he wanted that fabric gone in hurry.

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