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Research, research...

No-one wants to read a novel full of facts and figures, but equally we don’t need writing that’s so bereft of description and interesting tid-bits we get no sense of where we are and what’s going on in the story.

For romance this is always a careful balance, and what I’m playing with right now is a novella set in Scarlet Bay – to follow Summer Sparks, Summer Secrets, and Summer Spice.

First, I needed to know more about Antarctica because that’s where my hero, Mack, has been working.  The northern arctic region includes pieces of Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia. Animals there can wander in and out as the seasons change. But not so Antarctica – it’s totally surrounded by sea, so anything coming to check out the southern polar region has to be able to swim or fly. No polar bears or caribou. Lots of penguins and seals.

And how do the research scientists survive there? In this case, in the green buildings of Scott Base. I can now tell you so much about Scott Base I could bore you silly. Did you know they separate out all the human waste and bring the solid stuff back to New Zealand to avoid contaminating the ice-shelf? (Euw! No – of course I won’t be including this, but what dedication.)

What did Mack do there? How did he get home to take part in this story? It only takes a sentence or two, but the facts need to check out.

The daunting author photo

Well, you gotta have one! I must say I’m never attracted by authors who hide under hat brims, or are just a pair of eyes behind a coffee mug or a book. I like to see the real person, so I guess that holds true in reverse.

When I started publishing ten years ago, I went out in the garden, stood in front of a pretty rhododendron called Milkmaid, and grinned at my husband as he popped off a few shots. A bit squinty, but surely that would do?

 

But time went by, and I’d really like you to see the ‘current me’ in case you get a terrible fright if you meet me in person. So I tried again – selfies this time. I’m no Kim Kardashian who reputedly takes five hundred to get one perfect shot for Instagram, but it’s amazing how many are bad. Ooops – eyes half closed. Ooops – bra strap showing. Darn – wind making hair stand up on top.

 

And speaking of hair, my bright hair looks better on a dark background, so I stood against our upstairs bathroom door and managed to look exactly like my mother (except she never wore a metallic-printed T-shirt in her whole life.) Then I started writing the Merry Summerfield cozy mysteries and thought adding some of the animals from the covers might be cute. Hmmm… but probably not for readers of the hotter romances! That didn’t last long.

Making an entrance

How much do first impressions count with you? Do you judge other people by their clothes? Do you flick past books because the covers don’t grab you, even if the author is someone with a huge reputation?  Do you get a giggle from backgrounds for Zoom sessions when there’s a lampshade right on top of someone’s head? Or a bookcase so artfully arranged behind them that you KNOW they’ve tidied it specially?

I suspect appearances matter more than ever these days. The world is moving so fast, and not always in a good way. You don’t get long to form an opinion. Or, indeed, to make an impression.

Kris Pearson author's front garden

 I’m writing this as the USA changes Presidents, and I know many millions of people are holding their breath about what might happen next. What sort of impression would a first-time visitor to Washington DC gain this week?

I’ve had some time to myself lately because my husband ended up in hospital for a serious and most unexpected heart operation.  When I wasn’t visiting him in hospital I found I couldn’t write because I was a mess of worry. (He’s now doing well).  It’s no fun staring at the screen when last time’s words refuse to progress further, so I’ve been taking my annoyance out on the garden. Specifically the piece in front of the house. Literally making an entrance.

Just some pretty garden stuff

Kale. Who likes kale? I love the ornamental varieties, and every winter I grow some in pots that can be placed in the best spots when it's looking spectacular. Right now it's these two varieties, but they'll be shooting off to seed soon.

White ornamental kale

 

Purple ornamental kale

Every leaf is different... masterpieces in miniature. Can you eat it? No way! You'd better stick to the supermarket or green-grocer's  stock for that.

Pre-Christmas specials

Okay - here are my Christmas treats for you: There's too much happening right now to write any more, so click the covers and you'll be taken to the page for that book, and the link to get it from Amazon.

Merry Christmas from me!

1. Christmas Holiday Hearts is down to 99 cents.  Save $3.

Christmas Holiday Hearts - Kris Pearson

 

Ravishing Rose will be FREE December 5th for a few days

Ravishing Rose - Kris Pearson

 

Murder in the Aisle will be free from December 6th

Murder in the Aisle - Kris Pearson

 

I hope you have a very merry Christmas in this exceedingly strange year. I hope someone buys you goodies, or cooks you dinner, or Zooms you if you can't meet face to face. I hope you get great books for Christmas.  A more peaceful world would be nice. And fast, effective vacinations for everyone. Not much to hope for, is it!

Diamonds and Emeralds

These are the earrings I’m wearing today. I last wore them on my wedding day, 49 years ago.

             

They’re nothing special (look at those awful settings around the stones) but to me they’re intensely special. My grandfather gave them to my grandmother in 1919, and then he died in the Spanish Flu pandemic.  She gave them to my mother. My mother gave them to me. I wore them for my wedding and wished I hadn’t, because they had old-fashioned screw fittings that just about killed my earlobes. We think they’re Italian.

All these years later I’m having a jewellery adventure. My friend Bernice mentioned a very good manufacturing jeweller here in Wellington, and I thought, “Get those earrings changed!” I also thought, “Do something with those old rings.”

            

Brian Barrett and his wife Helen have a studio in the nearby suburb of Karori. Their website is https://bhbdesigns.co.nz/ - currently undergoing redesign as I write this. I can’t recommend them highly enough – lovely people and beautiful work. All their contact numbers are there.

Birds of a feather...

The new old government, and the new old book covers

Thank heavens it’s over! New Zealand has just had a General Election – delayed an extra month because of Covid-19. Things seemed to drag on forever.

Predictably Prime Minister Jacinda Adern was re-elected, but no-one expected the extent of the voting swing in the direction of her Labour party. Old National faces have vanished. New faces will be appearing. Politicians who had ‘a job for life’ haven’t got one any longer. Some who possibly took part in the experience to ‘get ready for next time’ have been voted in and find themselves with much larger jobs than they expected. Real fun!

I sat here ignoring most of it, happily stealing time to search the stock photo sites so I could put new covers on my South & Sexy books.

What stops you in your tracks when it comes to book covers? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately. Scrolling through the sites like Bookbub and Freebooksy I’m finding my eyes drawn to all sorts of unlikely things. Old bicycles parked in English country lanes (is it a cozy mystery or women’s fiction?)  Jetties and sunsets with no-one in sight (nostalgia with older characters, or a teen beach holiday story?) Bunches of daisies (wildflowers from a vacation, or a wedding bouquet?) Pieces of jewellery (billionaires or family history?) Good designers pair appropriate fonts with the pictures as an extra clue to what’s inside. And a good title can tell you a lot.

An adventure in Italy

I love Italy. Lived there for a while when I was nineteen – attending the University for Foreigners in Perugia. Boarded with a local family and learned the lovely language. Three of us sailed there on the oldest Sitmar boat – the Castel Felice. It doesn’t look very big!!!

The stops along the way were wonderful – including Port Said during a revolution, where soldiers stood around brandishing huge guns while I bargained for a portable typewriter. Here I am looking very tanned in Egypt, and rather smart on our balcony in Perugia with my new Italian jersey, my scandalous mini-skirt and huge (for then) plastic bubble earrings.

 Castel Felice and Kris

All these years later I’d been hoping for a good Italian translator to take an interest in some of my books, and the first has now been published. This is through a deal where the author, the translator, and an admin company all share the eventual royalties. But this translator lady is a little ball of fire. She’s been prowling my website and has decided we should put out a publication between us of my free prequel novella ‘Maybe by Christmas’ with the notes on why I wrote each of the books. She’s sure Italian readers would find this taster interesting.

A Change of Covers

I’ve been reading about book covers; about how absolutely top authors have their covers changed annually to spark more sales. Really? And the differing fashions in covers, too. Have you noticed this? A lot of my romances have had couples in passionate clinches. Well, many others do, too! That or headless near-naked male torsos. But it seems there’s quite a change going on. Lots more scenery. Lots more flowers. Lots more of 'what might be happening here?’ 

And a single person, even though it’s a romance. Or is it? Might it be women’s fiction? Are authors snagging extra readers this way?

We had a shocker of a storm this weekend. Gales and lashing rain… thunder and lightning all around the hills where we live. I couldn’t get out in the garden, but why not search the photo sites and have a play with some of the covers? That’s the ultimate fun as far as I’m concerned.

The Sheikhs and the Scarlet Bay books will remain the same, but I’ve found two more great photos for sheikhs so I’d better write the novels to go with them.

The South & Sexy series is definitely getting a facelift. These are my older books, and to my alarm they tend to do better than my new ones. Oh dear. So let’s see if we can make them even more successful. Shall we have some muscles? Yes, why not. Resisting Nick will soon have muscles. 

Ravishing Rose is going fine with the party pair and bare chest, but the title is going rosier. 

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