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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 I’d given my hero Alexandre a phone that went out of date, but it was easy enough to change it to ‘a smartphone’ or whatever I did before I reloaded the book.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.

Reviewing a reviewer

 

Okay, I’ve been checking the rankings for Resisting Nick because the book is free for a few days from October 23rd. I really don’t go looking at reviews – I consider they’re for readers more than authors.

Rhodos from my garden

This week - no facts or figures. Just some pretty pics because I'm half blind from finishing writing the end of HARD TO REGRET over the weekend. Launch day - November 4th!

I love my rhododendrons, so here are three favourites:

'Saffron Queen' - just bursting out. A great choice for a smaller garden because it stays compact.

Wish I knew the name of this. Big tree, big leaves, huge spectacular waxy flowers. Had it for years, so I should go to the garden centre and try and track it down.

And this goodie is blooming right outside my offrice window at the moment. Inspirational!

HOW much?

I was never the least bit fascinated by figures, but now I’m running my own global company, I have to be. And I’m finding it interesting!

Nice pic? Here’s what I had to do to drive a book up to the top of the US iBook store’s romance section (and tenth in their whole store that day.)

On October 6th I invested in a Bookbub promotion. Bookbub is the world leader in online book advertising. You tell them what you’re interested in and they’ll send you 1 – 4 deals each day ONLY for that genre. It’s very hard for authors to get accepted, so readers know they’re being offered successful books. It works like crazy. It’s also not cheap.

OK, they agreed to offer my boxed set of three Wellington novels for 99 cents. Ridiculously good value. Bookbub charges $US734 for a one-day space for a 99 cent book. That’s $NZ1023. Ow!

Bear in mind I’m entirely indie. I have no kindly publisher offering me their promotional money and international clout. So what else am I going to do to make this go well enough to cover the awful cost?

A free ad in Read Free.ly, which is very supportive of indie authors. A Choosy Bookworm ad for $US48 ($NZ68.56). An ad three days after the BookBub on EReader News Today, which costs $US55 ($NZ78.85). And a ‘Deal of the Day’ on FreeBooksy/BargainBooksy five days after the Bookbub which is $US125 ($NZ177.25).

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.

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