Take a chance on something different

I don’t usually read psychological thrillers, but something about this menacing beautiful cover got to me. (Never judge a book by its cover, huh?)

            Cover of Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Then I found the book had 6783 reviews – and more than two thirds of them were five stars.

Okay, getting tempted. Even though it didn’t appeal to me from the blurb, I read the sample on Amazon. And I was totally hooked.

Had to buy it. Had to start it right away. Had to keep reading, quite obsessively. And when I finished, I needed to know more about Rachel Caine because I’m going to be trying some of her others for sure. It looks like she has around forty-five, and there’s a sequel to this one due around Christmas. Excellent!

If you don’t read thrillers either, give this one a go. I can practically promise you won’t be disappointed. Gnawing your fingernails maybe, but clinging on tight for the ride. Click the cover to get to her Amazon page. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

My Spanish translator defies the police

Yesterday I sent a message to the lady who translated four of my books into Spanish. Was she OK after the terrible riots I’d seen on TV? I’d hoped she wasn't at home in her beloved Barcelona but maybe in Brussels where she often works as a translator at the European Union Headquarters. No such luck – here’s what she replied.

“In fact I was not away from all that, I was protecting the ballot station for two days, just to avoid what happened to other ballot stations and to stop the criminal Spanish Police from stealing our ballot boxes. Well, we succeeded in it. I am now very tired, but happy.

We hope the civilised countries and the EU and the international community will impose sanctions to Spain for its unthinkable and unforgivable behavior. The Spanish premier is such a liar and a criminal, that yesterday at the evening news he said to the whole nation that the Police had done what it had to be done, and that their action was measured and civilised. I wanted to throw up. Having seen older people beaten, hit, wounded, bleeding, hurt... more than 800 wounded, some of them with serious injuries... having seen the ferocity of those animals against peaceful people... I still feel sick and want to cry.”

Two fiction writers having coffee - and a boxset bargain

Every now and again I have coffee and a long chat with a friend – a man I’ve known for almost forty years. When I first met him (working with him) I was already married to Philip, but I was delighted to find Blair because we just clicked – never mind he was younger, American, and totally different from me.

Do you have people in your life who are really easy to talk with? They don’t happen along all that often – to me, anyway. Honestly, you can’t shut the pair of us up when we get together.

I didn’t see him at all for about thirty of those forty years – we were living different lives with different partners. Then, there he was on Facebook. In contact again.

I write fiction. These days he writes fiction too – mostly interactive children’s books, but a couple of thrillers as well. We’ve taken up exactly where we left off all that time ago – each trying to out-talk the other.

On this occasion it was in the café across the road from where we live. I left Philip painting the sitting room walls and ambled over with Blair. Got a surprised look from the café staff as if to ask what I was doing out with another man. I love it when that happens! There might be life in mysterious Mrs Pearson yet…

Open wide

What frightens you the most? Your biggest fear? With me it was the dentist.

When I was a child, almost every school had a Dental Clinic – not-so-fondly named The Murder House because the nurses would grind away at children’s teeth with slow old drills and without local anaesthetic. But it was free, and part of the school program and we couldn’t escape. Much as I hated those visits, it gave me teeth which I hope will last for the rest of my life.

In my twenties I started going to a central-city dentist who had enough sense to tell I was petrified. He was good at injections. I’m apparently a tooth-grinder and a heavy chewer so my teeth have needed a bit of work over the years. I’ve been creeping along there like a condemned prisoner and emerging with a numb jaw and my lipstick re-applied all crooked, but the teeth still chomp okay.

And then – just before Christmas – disaster! He retired. Well, I reckon I need to keep my teeth in good nick for another two or three decades so the fear turned up all over again. What was I going to do???

To my surprise he said I’d be going to his brother now. His brother? How many years before he retired too? But I gave him a go, and I’ve never had so much fun.

Come to lunch with my ladies

I have a wonderful friend called Shirley. She’s here in the photo, wearing purple. Shirley lives in Auckland these days – eight hours’ drive away, so I don’t see her too often. She has an enormous garden and a home orchard which provides fruits for an amazing collection of jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys. I wish I could show you a photo of her pantry, shelves groaning with goodies.

She also happens to be a very funny writer. I’m itching for the day when she finally finishes her novel about Reggie the renegade vicar. Shirley and her husband drove down to Wellington last week so they came to dinner and we had a very cheerful night.

A couple of days later I rounded up some of her other local friends and we had a most enjoyable lunch together a little way up the coast. (Not too far from where I’m imagining Scarlet Bay – the setting for my current novel.)

Next we have Giovanna, who probably knows more romance authors than the rest of us put together. For many years she has travelled to the Romance Writers of America conference, and is a wonderful source of information about people and writing trends. She’s the only person I know who has met Nora Roberts.

Eight stitches in his head

Kristen Lamb – you have a lot to answer for, pursuading us to blog three times a week!

The most recent drama here is a husband who returned from work bleeding. I didn’t notice because he walked straight into the bathroom and attempted to mop himself up. Then, when it wouldn’t stop, he finally found me and told me how he’d accidentally slammed the hatch of his van down on his head. Head-wounds bleed.

I think he must have been half-concussed because he went on to collect a job from one of our decorators (and spooked her) and then went grocery shopping at the supermarket on the way home. Heaven only knows what the customers thought.

Anyway, there he was, leaking blood and needing a cup of coffee. I eventually persuaded him to go to the local medical centre – a bare hundred yards away. He came back with eight stitches and a nice neat dressing on his forehead.

                            Mrs Pearson's man

Here he is, undamaged. Getting him to stay still for a photo is a total impossibility, but wives can be sneaky. A wee while ago he needed new specs, and had brought several frames home from the optician to consider. Of course if you’re long-sighted, you can’t see yourself in the mirror if there are no lenses in the frames. “This is hopeless!” he said, getting a good deal angrier that when he’d bashed himself on the head.

Having / not having

I see amazing things when I’m out and about. Much as I’d like to sit here all day writing, I often work with my husband as a specialist window furnishing installer. That’s a fancy way of saying we fit tracks, rods, curtains and blinds – mostly in houses, but sometimes in commercial situations. We contract to some lovely decorators, so we get into the cream of Wellington’s houses. It’s interesting! (And it‘s sometimes a heck of a workout for both brain and body.) Not quite a logical career progression for a TV guy and a copywriter, but that’s another story I might tell you sometime.

       Wellington city

The biggest job we ever did was a seventeen-storey hotel. Just the two of us, tagging along after the builders had finished each floor. Hundreds of rooms of identical tracks, drapes and sheers. At least the conference floors had different fabric. I should write a book set in a hotel because it was a great learning experience seeing it all come together over several months. Yes, writers are nosy, and we eavesdrop shamelessly.

Pursued by bitcoins

Do you have ridiculous overlapping coincidences in your life like I do? This week I’m literally being chased by electronic currency. First, I starting re-reading Penny Reid’s novel Love Hacked. I adore all her books – can totally recommend them. This one features a clever young man called Alex who sweeps bitcoins as part of the plot. I didn’t know too much about this currency – just that it’s not very traceable, and it rises and falls in value like dollars and pounds and euros. I know all about those from selling e-books on Amazon and iBooks and the other e-stores.

Okay, so I had the word ‘bitcoin’ going around in my brain as I reported for possible jury duty on Monday. I made it through the first ballot. I made it through the second one, too. And was part of the team of twelve who eventually sat down in the jury box, wondering what would unfold. We were warned the case might take all week so it was obviously something biggish.

Phone fun - NOT!

I can do a lot with a computer. I can do virtually nothing with a mobile phone. It doesn’t help that I had polio as a child and one hand is now pretty shaky. Swiping anything is an exercise in frustration. Who knows where I’ll end up?

Poor Philip has bought me three phones over the years, hoping I might get interested. I can use the ‘work’ phone when we’re out on jobs together. Answer, talk, click off. Thank you iPhone.

But his latest offering is not an iPhone. It’s quite big, so my fumbling fingers will have a chance of landing on the right letters. Not a bad idea! I have proudly managed several texts. Yay me – making progress.

And overnight, some helpful person in a country far, far away has ‘updated’ it. Some of the icons have changed. I can find no way to phone anyone. If I click the green telephone symbol, which used to work fine, I now get taken to a ‘call log’ – a list of times I’ve phoned them in the past. Blowed if I can find anything that looks like a ‘call them now’ icon. I have resorted to the landline again and torn some more hair out. Loud sigh….


P.S. several hours later. I have been given another lesson. It was far from obvious to me that clicking on the small telephone number would do the trick. Why not the big red letter in the circle? Why not the name of the person?

Kristen Lamb says we have to blog!!

The amazing Kristen Lamb from Texas – blogger extraordinaire - was the keynote speaker at the recent Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. Kristen blogs three times every week and says three is the magic frequency to attract a growing audience. There was a good deal of quibbling about this - how were we going to find something interesting enough to blog about three times a week?

She says it’s easy, and that the blogs needn’t be long but should be personal. Okay, here’s my first not-long and more personal effort.

Before the conference, I drove almost four hours north of Wellington to stay several nights with my lovely sister. Then I collected my author friend Kendra Delugar and we drove north for several more hours until we arrived in Rotorua where the conference was. The weather on the way home was gorgeous, and we passed the three famous volcanoes looking absolutely splendid and snowy and scenic. We stopped and took photos - possibly at some risk to our lives on this very busy fast-traffic road.