Monday, 5 March 2018

Fascination of Old dictionaries

Do you enjoy old books? I have a copy of 'HAYDN'S DICTIONARY OF DATES' by B. VINCENT c.1863 and find it endlessly fascinating. Dictionaries and those kind of old books are my favourite.
I just want to share a few entries with you.

The history behind some mundane items is kind of mind-bending!

BREECHES. Among the Greeks, this garment indicated slavery. It was worn by the Dacians, Parthians and other northern nations; and in Italy it is said, was worn in the time of Augustus Caesar. in the reign of Honorius, about A.D. 394, the "braccarii or breeches-makers were expelled from Rome; but soon afterwards the use of breeches was adopted in other countries, and at length became general."
Hmm, could it be too many women were beginning to 'wear the breeches'? The Regency era leather breeches at right I have saved to a board on Pinterest.

"BUTTONS, an early manufacture in England; those covered with cloth were prohibited by a statute, thereby to encourage the manufacture of metal buttons, 8Geo, I. 1721. They are now made of glass, porcelain etc.."

Imagine - a law against cloth-covered buttons!

And cabbages have always been around - right? No!
"CABBAGES. Three varieties were brought to these realms (presumably England) from Holland, A.D. 1510. To sir Arthur Ashley of Dorset the first planting them in England is ascribed. This vegetable was previously imported from the continent. It was introduced into Scotland by the soldiers of Cromwell's army. "

Even the way we speak and write has changed so much that the phrasing often appears quaint or amusing, as in the following.

"CALLAO (Peru). Here, after an earthquake, the sea retired from the shore, and returned in mountainous waves , which destroyed the city, A.D. 1687. The same phenomenon took place, Oct. 28, 1746, when all the inhabitants perished, with the exception of one man, who was standing on an eminence, and to whose succour a wave providentially threw a boat."

Quite explicit! You can see it happening...

Enough trivia for the night!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

It All Started with Putting Away the Groceries...!

Pine Nuts! I couldn't find any to put in the stir-fry I made a couple of nights ago. I have a drawer in which I keep various dried foods - nuts, seeds, fruits - and things like amaranth seeds and raw cacao nibs, which I saw in a recipe once and never found again.

Quite a bit of stuff like that in that drawer! Wishing now I'd taken a 'before' photo! But I was just putting the groceries away! Why didn't I have a marked container for the pine nuts as I do for other things? Why are there little bags containing a few raisins/dates/chopped walnuts - about a tablespoonful! Why is this container empty and that one unmarked?

Out it all comes. Got to be sorted NOW so I can finish putting the groceries away. Oh look! A little baggy thing of pine nuts! Bother, could've had them in the stir fry after all.
Definitely time this lot was sorted, properly contained and properly marked - and the few bits of dried soup mix and the odd raisin lining the back of the drawer vacuumed out!

Once the drawer is cleaned I need some more decent containers, so into the TUPPERWARE cupboard I go, searching. (NB. I used to be a Tupperware dealer and am what my daughter likes to term a 'Tupperware Slut'! I think it should actually be  'Plastic Slut' cos I've never managed to confine my needs to just Tupperware! Sorry - but - plasticcontainersaresousefulokay!!! )

To find what I want in the cupboard in the corner under the bench where I keep the smaller containers I have to pull everything out! (NB. Walking sticks are useful for this!) It was all neatly organized once - probably when we first moved in a few years ago! (I digress!) As with all good organization, there are goblins and gremlins who delight in discombobulating it! Well, I sorted that and beware all goblins and gremlins who dare to enter said cupboard hereafter!

And OMG, there is still a mess of stuff on the bench waiting to be put away in the dried foods drawer! But having found some suitable containers and their lids (along with some other pieces of Tupperware I'd thought lost and now gleefully retrieved) I can label them and store stuff in them and arrange them neatly in the drawer.

You know, really, you need to get among some of this stuff and use it instead of just buying more and poking it into the drawer on top of everything else! Actually, the drawer is a bit of a commentary on various healthy food fads we've thought we should try. Went through a stage of cooking a lot with various seeds until we both found them to be rather indigestible - or maybe we were just eating too much of them! So we stopped!
What am I to do with all these sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds? I can't quite bring myself to dump them in the pig bucket or feed the birds. Better go and Google some likely recipes. Armed with about three, I return to the kitchen...

Oh, that's right. I was tidying the cupboard. Yes, and the drawer! If you make that slice recipe and add a bit of this and that like you usually do (so it rarely even resembles the original)  you could use up quite a bit of stuff which would mean less to sort and store. Good idea. Double the recipe while you're at it! The final result is edible, though a bit dry. Might be quite nice broken up and dowsed with milk for breakfast... or if all else fails there are the pigs and the birds...

Now, to finally tidy the cupboard and then the drawer - where it all began!

The sense of satisfaction now it's all so tidy is gratifying and so far the g&g's haven't had time to mess anything up! But I'm a writer and such domestic activity is not usual for me - and I haven't written a word today! In fact, the whole thing has been a bit of an odd departure - blogworthy even.

Ah, yes, now I'm happy. Writing...
(Evil cackles. Goblins and Gremlins are watching her settle into her chair at the computer, and skipping and sidling gleefully into the kitchen. She's oblivious. Where to start? Where to start? Cackle, chortle...)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Of Bolts and Things...

Not sure where this will go but these damn bolts have niggled at me ever since I saw them on my morning walk a week or so ago.
It was so ordinary, just four random bolts in the gutter. And yet it wasn't ordinary at all.
I take the same route around our village every morning and I hadn't seen any bolts in the gutters until that day - when I saw four. They were at random points along my walk and by the third one, I doubled back to take a photo. I would pass the others again on my way back home.
The postie passed as I was taking one photo. Wonder what she was thinking, as I was stooped down taking a shot of the gutter?
The 1st had no thread. The 2nd was shiny and new. The 3rd was a bit rusted but still had yellow paint on it. The last was just the shiny, silver flat head with the shank shorn completely off. The photo of that one is a bit odd because I was conscious of the postie approaching!
What was their story? Why was I suddenly seeing them? Could they have a meaning?  'A screw loose' comes to mind, and the postie would likely agree! But they're not strictly screws. Not 'nuts' because there weren't any! Maybe they were just telling me to walk faster, 'bolt' for it!
And then I fell to wondering what drama befell someone that day - or maybe even several days later - because that bolt chose to stop doing its job and fall into the gutter? Humans are wired for story and I can't help wondering what the story of each bolt is. How? Why? When? What happened next?
Since I can't seem to make a romance out of it, let alone a historical one, I can only hope I have now written them out of my mind! In fact, I hope they've 'bolted'!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Bk.4. 'Her Dark Lord' Available for Pre-Order

I have finally written the end of  'Her Dark Lord' the last of the 4 books in the 'Lords of the Matrix Club' series. I have to admit to a little difficulty letting the characters go, always a problem at the end of a series. One becomes attached!
I'm loving the cover, another masterpiece with Jimmy Thomas as the male model. 
It's available for Pre-order now with a release date of 28 March which gives me time to get feedback from my beta readers and to implement any edits necessary.

Here is the Amazon link:
Only Fate would play a jaded, emotional cripple like Knight against a feisty, independent woman like Penny, a new widow someone wants dead.

Here's a couple of snippets:-
'Knight found himself imagining the stunning beauty that would emerge if she were bathed, pampered and dressed in silk and satin—more specifically undressed—and bound in silk and satin.
He was bellows to mend and yet parts of him were very alive indeed.'

'The mahogany brows formed a straight line across his forehead and the dark eyes scorched down her body, missing no detail in their heated scrutiny.
 Penny played him in kind, allowing her critical gaze to assess the manly proportions of shoulders encased in perfectly tailored dark blue superfine, unbuttoned to expose a shirt of linen so fine it barely disguised the outline of taut muscle beneath. Dropping her gaze still further, she lingered a moment on the snug fit of buckskin pantaloons over bulging thigh muscles and the hard evidence of his arousal.
Telling herself the flash of heat through her body was a measure of her ire, she returned her gaze to his, determined to appear disinterested, cynical even. No way would she allow him to know seeing him thus, seeing any man in a state of arousal focused on her, was one of her deepest fears.'

Watch for my next series 'Ladies in Buckskins'.  
It's also 4 books. I'm certain there would've been as many women 'bucking' the system 200 years ago as there are now. Human nature doesn't change. These ladies would relate well to Knight's feisty Nemesis, Lady Penelope Grantwood.

If you wish to join my email list to receive notification of when my next book is due out please email me at You will receive a free short sequel to the 'Lords' series and a short prequel as soon as I have finished it!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Santa Was Running Late in Piopio, NZ!

Pohutukawa - NZ Christmas Tree.
It's Christmas morning in Piopio. But some things have to go on just like any other day. So a little before seven - to beat the heat of the sun already well above the horizon - I set out for my daily walk round the village. Piopio is a small blip roughly halfway on State Highway 3 between Hamilton and New Plymouth. Usually the road is busy with trucks and passing traffic.
This morning it was eerily quiet. Wondrously peaceful after the non-stop lines of cars, motorhomes, caravans, boats etc heading off for their summer holidays.
A lone motorbike came over the rise in the centre of town, one of those small ones that sound a bit like a lawnmower. He was zipping along as if in a hurry and with a purpose. Then I noticed he was dressed all in red, including the red hat and flowing white cottonwool beard! I thought perhaps he was on a mission to some local house but he carried on through, revving it up and that beard taking a beating from the wind!
Day Lily from bed at north end of Piopio.
He must have been running awfully late for his last delivery and had to abandon the reindeer - unless they'd gone on strike come sun up!
Hope he made it in time before the kids woke in a panic because Santa hadn't been!
I also hope he made it safely, though I have less hope for that cottonwool beard!
He was past before I thought to take a photo. Quite made my morning.
One of those images that stay in your mind.
Like the day I was driving back from Te Pahu on Boxing Day and passed a chap all decked out in a Tyrolean outfit and riding a penny-farthing bicycle!
 I didn't get a photo of that either!
Hope you all have a great Christmas.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Magical Coromandel Revisited

Coromandel is ever on my mind this time of the year. The Pohutukawa will be in bloom - which is about the only thing about Christmas that excites me.
(Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who are always muttering, 'What! We've only just done Xmas!' )
As you will know from other posts, I dream of being 'up the Peninsula' when the trees are in full bloom, which is pretty much right at Christmas. Usually we go around New Year which is already too late.
This year I had an opportunity to go earlier, though as it turns out, probably too early! But the magic was happening just the same.
I spent a couple of nights in Thames and on Sunday morning about 9am Jaci and I set off for Coromandel with our cameras, a journey of 54km which should take about an hour.

It took us four hours! And though my dream of seeing whole hillsides aflame with colour didn't actually eventuate it was spiritually refreshing just the same. There were drifts of colour like paint splashes across the masses of dark green foliage and for the first time, I noticed several of the yellow flowering variety growing naturally up the hills. They are not so spectacular, but beautiful nevertheless.

 A ramble on the stony treasure beach at Waiomu was rewarding as always. You can often find crystal points and even the odd Maori artefact among the rocks which rumble down from the hills. But our most significant find this time was this face on a rock. At a glance it looks as if someone has painted or carved the features on it, but in fact they are intrinsic to the rock.
No trip to Coromandel is complete without a nosh and coffee at Driving Creek cafe. I think it's had a change of ownership this year but it's still vegetarian and still has a natural wilderness feel about it. This bowl of Kaffir Lime rice with pickled beetroot, carrot and apple salad, lettuce and falafel dressed with a nasturtium flower was almost too pretty to eat. It was as delicious as it looked.

 Am home again now, feeling renewed and ready to write the last chapters of 'Her Dark Lord', Book 4 in the 'Lords of the Matrix Club' series. I need to get into it if I'm to reach my goal to have the first draft completed by Christmas!

I hope 2017 has been kind to you and that 2018 is filled with blessings.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

I Won!

November has been a month of concerted writing effort. Along with thousands of writers worldwide, I have participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge to write 50,000 words for the 30 days of November. I reached that target last night!
If you're wondering, that's the size of a Mills & Boon romance. My books tend to be 100,000 words so this gets the first draft half written in a month. And since I already had 30,000 words written at the start I now have 80,000 and need to wrap the story up in another 20,000. Doable before Xmas, I reckon, if I just keep up the momentum and routine of NaNo!
One of the great things about NaNo is the support and encouragement of other writers also doing the challenge. This will carry on after November to keep us all inspired and focused on our goals.
Thank you, Romance Writers of NZ C2C Chapter! You are the best!
Congratulations to all who accepted the challenge and have already achieved the goal and to those who will achieve it before the deadline, midnight tomorrow!
If you started and life got in the way, all new words are a bonus! Life is pretty much all about 'timing', and when the timing is right, the words will flow! And there's always the April challenge!