Love from Basil

We grow great basil. It always sits on my husband’s workshop window sill because it really likes it there. Year after year we can hardly keep up with it. Salads, pasta, pizza – yum.

This year it’s outdoing itself - practically escaping through the glass - so I said to him I’d put a photo on my Facebook page for fun.

“Did you get it?” he asked a little later.


“The basil photo I sent you.”

“No. When did you send it?”

“About an hour ago.”

“No sign of it.”

(Puzzled) “Oh, it must be there by now. Ummm….! ”


(Cautious) “Are you Kriswrites?”

“No. Where did you get that from?”

Kriswrites is Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s excellent blog. (You should check it out.) Plainly I‘d sent him a link to it at some stage and it had put itself into his address book. Right about now she may be rather puzzled as to why she’s received a photo of a basil plant from an unknown admirer in New Zealand. I’m hoping he didn’t put an affectionate comment with it.

The one-star reviews

I’d love to know more about the psychology of these. Why do people bother to write them? Especially if they want to hide behind a fake name? Hey, no-one knows it’s you unless you tell your friends, and why would you want to tell your friends you’re being a bit mean? (And sometimes a bit stupid, too.)

Bookbub ad, Kris Pearson, Jan 11, 2018

My novel COWBOY WANTS HER HEART has just finished its free run after being featured on Bookbub on January 11th. A total of more than 80,000 copies were downloaded free from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords and Google Play in case you're wondering. Incredible result. The hope was that it would sell more of my others if you enjoyed it. Yes – I’ve had some brilliant sales days since then.

The downside is just enough one and two-star reviews to knock the ranking from 4.5 stars down to 4 on Amazon because of course not everyone’s going to like it. Each time a book goes free many people who wouldn’t normally buy it do give it a go. Excellent! Some very nice new reviews have appeared.

And a few of the others, too. “Historical novel meets present day doesn’t work well.” Um – did this person have the right book? There’s nothing historical about it. But one sad star as a result, along with the comment “Good thing it was free.”

Six years an indie

Writing can be a very lonely job if you let it be. I love to be on my own to write, and really don’t like my husband popping by with news items to distract me. There’s time enough to hear about approaching storms, truck crashes and celebrity scandals once I’m back in the real world. Unfortunately, my writing room (grandly called The Office) leads through to his workshop, and he’s not inclined to take the long way around. He did take this photo of me though, so here I am at my tiny desk. Definitely the best size for me because the bigger the desk the more clutter I’d end up with.

I’m thinking about friends today because I had a lovely visit with Diana Fraser yesterday. We talked all morning about old times and new times. It’s six years since we started indie publishing together – giving each other courage and swapping notes and tips. Here we are, all dressed up at one of the Romance Writers of New Zealand conferences. Probably close enough to that magic day six years ago! We haven’t changed a bit. Maybe.

Judge a book by its cover

I guess it’s easy to judge things by appearances – an elegant greyhound versus a scruffy mutt. A beautifully groomed woman versus one who obviously makes no effort with her hair or clothes. A shiny new car versus a battered old rust-bucket.

Does the same apply for book covers? I always enjoy a look through the charts of the iBook store because there are so many covers so close together that comparisons are easy. Amazon’s charts display twenty at a time and then you have to click to the next page, but the iBook store has two hundred at a time to scroll easily through.

Here are Amazon’s top sellers for this week (six of which are Harry Potter!)

Here’s a page from Amazon’s best sellers today (updated hourly).

The Frog Blog

We’ve had a couple of ponds and a waterfall in the garden for more than twenty years now. Just as well we built them when we were young enough to heave all those big rocks around…

We started with tropical waterlilies – I’m hopelessly optimistic. And we did indeed get amazing purple-blue lilies up on high stalks for the first season. Then the frost got them and I bought some sensible hardy ones. Also bought half a dozen goldfish, because by then we had mosquitos. It was highly amusing watching the fish chase the larvae around in the water. Bye-bye mosquitoes.

But whoops – hello fish! They liked each other! They made dozens more fish in no time. It’s a good thing fish are cannibals. The big ones ate most of the tiny ones, and the population stayed more or less in balance. Over the years the odd one has floated to the top and been added to the compost, but surprisingly few. It seems they live a very long time. They're friendly little things, and always scoot over to side of the pond where they spot a person - no doubt after food.

Doing not much for Christmas

23 of us have combined resources for this Christmas blog hop. You can win by visiting the post of a different author each day and comment on the individual posts to go in the draw to win a book at each hop.

Then by clicking on the Rafflecopter link at the end, you'll be entered in the grand Christmas Eve prize draw for a $150 Amazon gift card. Second prize: 30 ebooks. Third prize… e-books from the individual authors.

I’m writing this a little earlier than my ‘official’ blog hop day because you know what? It’s Sunday, and I’ve spent the morning working at my ‘day job’. And that’s the way it will go up to Christmas until I can finally stop and sit down. Then I can write with a clear conscience and hopefully a calm mind.

By day I’m a curtain installer – an ideal ‘other’ job for a nosy romance writer. My husband and I have worked together for the last twenty-plus years. He has a background in electronics and TV. I have a background in advertising. Good qualifications to run a curtain business???  Well yes, actually! He’s a skilled carpenter and metal-worker and there’s nothing in this world he can’t fix if it breaks down. Maybe a nuclear reactor, but happily we don’t have one of those. He’d probably give it a go.

First off the block

Right now I’m taking part in something that’s a lot of fun. And I’m going first, which is always a bit of a challenge.


This is the Twelve Days of Christmas promotion – twelve ‘down under’ authors who are each giving personal prizes away, plus we have a $50 Amazon Gift Card to finish with a flourish. Here’s the schedule so you can see who’s taking part. Don’t miss your favourite authors!

Day 1 – Kris Pearson

Day 2 – Joanne Dannon

Day 3 – Cassandra O’Leary  

Day 4 – Annie Seaton

Day 5 – Monique McDonell

Day 6 – Kate O’Keeffe

Day 7 – Cathryn Hein

Day 8 – Tracey Alvarez

Day 9 – Leeanna Morgan

What matters most



This was brought home to me very forcibly when a friend of my sister’s tracked me down through an author card I‘d given her months ago. She phoned, saying sister was terribly ill, and she really thought I should get some medical attention for her.

Apparently sister had been mysteriously unwell for about six weeks and hadn’t told me. We mostly email each other to keep in touch. Would she have told me if we were phoning instead? Probably not - she wouldn’t have wanted to worry me!

SO… Determined to get the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I dropped everything at home and drove four hours north, arriving unannounced, and giving poor sis a terrible shock. On the way there I managed to convince myself she was halfway dead. Would I have to track her to the hospital if she didn't open the door? Would I be responsible for clearing out the house? Selling the house? Writing a eulogy for the funeral? Goodness, unfounded worry is a terrible thing, and an author’s inventive brain makes it worse.

She did indeed answer the door – looking pale and thinner than usual and rather annoyed. In fact it was the loudly voiced annoyance that convinced me she wasn’t actually halfway dead! She was annoyed I’d bothered travelling all that way. Annoyed I hadn’t told her I was coming. And extremely annoyed with her friend for alarming me.

Am I allowed to have a moan about Amazon?

I don’t like doing it – Amazon is quite a chunk of my bread and butter after all. But if an author wants to get a book price-matched to FREE for a special promotion they change it on their dashboards for the required time, and on Smashwords, Google Play, iBooks, and Kobo all is well.

With Amazon, we have to go begging. We get rather grudging messages back saying they’ll consider it. And a couple of days later, another to say that they’ve done it but reserve the right not to. They 'retain discretion over determining their retail prices'. OK, it's their company, but here’s the last reply I got on November 16 -



So I have to believe they’ve made it free, because even though an author can’t necessarily see it from another country (in my case New Zealand), The Zon has spoken, and all should be good.

Once again, it’s not. A friend in Australia has just sent me this:

The thrill of writing the start

Yes, it felt good to launch a new novel - in my case HARD TO RESIST on October 31st. But writing the beginning of number three in the Scarlet Bay series to give you a taste in the backmatter gave me an even bigger kick.

HARD TO HANDLE is on its way. Already I’m getting to know Oliver and Meifeng. Remember her? The Chinese girl who played the bongos and erhu at Jason’s music nights, and at Anna’s wedding? Now she needs a one-man covert protection squad, and Anna’s cousin is just the man for the job – even though he thought he’d come to Scarlet Bay to unpack furniture for the new family beach house.


There’s nothing like a damsel in distress to bring out the caveman ‘protecting my woman’ instincts. Mei really doesn’t want to be protected, but Oliver Wynn is determined she’ll come to no harm on his watch.

Because this is part of a series, it won’t only be Mei and Ollie’s story. Anna and Jason’s first child will be born.

Jossy and Cam’s beautiful new wedding venue will be completed. But will they be the first wedding there, or will someone else sneak in ahead of them? And if so, who? I do know the answer to that but I’m not telling.