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, 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.

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.