Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo virgin

You may have noticed a sneaky little logo that appeared on here yesterday >>>
Yep, I'm doing National Novel Writing Month this year for the first time! Although it's been going for years, I only just heard about it this year - I don't even remember how I heard about it - so I signed up about a month ago and then forgot about it, thinking I would just casually start writing in November, on my own, and not really tell anyone about it... but then my coworker asked me if I was doing it, and now that it's crept up closer, there's this huge buzz about it on Twitter, on Facebook and all over the blogosphere. Not as casual as I had thought. But that's made it all the more exciting. And it's put the pressure on me to actually do it because, not only do I have myself to answer to, but I have 116 of you lovely You May Say I'm a Dreamer followers and 400 Twitter followers to answer to.

I'm one of those annoying people who starts a heap of projects and never finishes anything - I drive myself crazy with it - so I thought NaNoWriMo would be the perfect opportunity to finish something.
Even if I don't get it published or even show anyone my 50,000 words, I'm looking forward to the satisfaction of getting something finished and showing myself that I can actually do it - I can write a novel - and get rid of the fear of finishing.
So expect to see many posts dedicated to the excitement, frustration and confusion of my first NaNoWriMo experience over the next month (and probably more after that - I plan to edit!) along with a weekly Friday update on my word count - but don't worry, I'll still find time for other posts! Feel free to offer advice or encouragement! Or to ask for it!

So I'm sure you're dying to know... what am I writing about?! Well remember that quirky little story I wrote a ways back about a jar of Strawberry Jam just for fun? Well I'm going to take that and run with it! I've got a few characters, a setting a general plot direction, but I've decided not to plan too much because all too often I "overplan" or "overthink" things and they usually don't turn out as planned, so I'm going to let the characters and the strawberries take me wherever they like. I'm so excited I actually have butterflies!

A jar of jam sitting high on a dusty shelf in a small town New Zealand cafe watches the comings and goings of the town, where everybody who lives there is running away from something. It's a fairly quiet and peaceful place until the cafe's elderly owner and the town's matriarch dies and her granddaughter arrives from the city, bringing her demons with her.

Who else is doing NaNoWriMo? If you are, leave me your username in the comments box and I'll add you! Or you can add me! My username is just Sarah Hardie :)

Good luck fellow NaNoWriMoers! xo

Wednesday Writers: Marguerite Ashton

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.


This week we hear from crime writer Marguerite Ashton, author of Burned Bridges, who tells us about her passion for law enforcement and how she turned it into a writing career.  

Name: Marguerite Ashton
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in Wisconsin and I love the country scenery.
Author of: Burned Bridges
Book available: Smashwords and Amazon, as well as my website and blog Website: www.margueriteashton.com (website) www.msashtonwriter.com (Blog)

Tell us a bit about yourself: Thank you for having me, Sarah. I write crime fiction and float between three blogs. I’m a co-host for the Financial Breeze Radio Show and I love to cook.

Tell us about your book: Burned Bridges is about a woman, named Traci, who after learning of her new friend’s past conceals evidence from the police in order to protect her.
Believing she’s done the right thing, Traci turns a blind eye until she receives a text from someone determined to ruin her newfound life.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? When I was in high school, I was the one that no one wanted to hang around because I was always at the library reading or doing research.
I always felt like I was in a different world when reading a history or mystery book and enjoyed the temporary escape.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? The Life of Elizabeth 1 by Alison Weir. She was an independent woman who defied conventional wisdom that said a woman could not lead a nation without a man. She proved them wrong.

What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? For a while, I worked at the State Public Defender’s office and did intake at the police department. When it came time to make a decision about joining the police academy, I learned I was pregnant. It was during that time, my husband encouraged me to continue my writing and for me to write what drives me the most. So I transferred my passion for law onto paper and used it as a basis for my novels.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? The message that I want readers to grasp is that learning to forgive is the best you can do to be at peace. Otherwise it will consume you and it may be hard to move on with your life if that particular dilemma is not put to rest.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? I’ve been scammed twice. Once by a POD company eight years ago and another time by a person who I trusted. I was young and didn’t have the knowledge that I do now. There was a valuable lesson learned with both.

What has been your best moment as a writer? My best moment is when I hear from my readers. I appreciate the connection.

Who is your author idol? David Baldacci. When I read his first book, Absolute Power, I fell in love with his writing.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Yes. I would have to say Traci. She’s the type that doesn’t like conflict and will do everything to avoid it. I’m the same way. I cringe at any sign of drama.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? A little bit of both.  I’m working with a writing coach who has taught me a lot and I’m grateful for her patience and support. As a writer, I’m always learning and it’s something that I want to do.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? For me, procrastination was more like a security blanket. Then I realized the longer I delay, the longer it will take to get done. I finally got to the point where I was tired of being behind on my writing and not getting anything done. So, I made a decision to start treating my writing more like a business. Now I work seven days a week with a set writing schedule.

What does your workspace look like? My work space is cluttered-neat. I have stacks of research and how-to books on my floor, desk and table in neat piles. I also stock-up on spiral notebooks. I carry two with me everywhere I go. You never know when you’ll hear or see something that will inspire an idea for your book or a character.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? I would have to say carpal tunnel. It can be very excruciating, but I love what I do.
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? You betcha! I cry and laugh hysterically when my career choice becomes overwhelming. I keep telling my husband I should’ve stayed in law enforcement.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I love to spend time with my family, watch movies, cook and read.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? I’d have to say attending at least one writer’s retreat a year. It helps me to spend alone time with my thoughts without interruptions.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?  In eighth grade, my history teacher conducted a mock trial regarding a person wrongly accused of embezzlement. I was the lawyer and my client was someone that I didn’t get along with. The exercise lasted for four days and we won. A couple of days later, the other student came up to me and said, “I’m sorry for all the times I was mean to you.” I accepted her apology and we eventually became friends.
I learned later that she was hiding a lot of pain and was really a nice person. A couple of weeks after we started high school she was killed in an automobile accident. I was crushed. That tragedy helped me to understand that life is short and it’s important to be appreciative of your blessings.
Not long after that, I ran into my history teacher and she confessed to knowing that she was aware that we didn’t get along, but forced us to work together. I thanked her for teaching me that lesson.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? Back in 2002 I hand wrote one of my stories on wide ruled paper. 310 pages later I realized that I was not satisfied with it just being a hobby. I wanted more. I wanted to be able to share my creativity with others.
So, I copied it onto Microsoft Word and I’ve been learning the ups and downs of a writer ever since.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Stay focused, hone your craft and remain positive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh hey Sun!

















It's a whole 22 degrees celcius outside! Woop woop! Helloooooo summer!

Missing that place I never expected to like

"I'd like to rest, my heavy head tonight, on a bed, of Wairarapa stars, I'd like to lay my, weary bones tonight, on a bed, of Wairarapa stars..."


If I close my eyes and listen to this song, I can feel the fresh country air whipping through my hair, I can smell the dirt and the sheep and the cows and the grass, and I can see the long, seemingly endless roads stretched out before me. Although this song really has nothing to do with living in the country, I dscovered it when I was living there, and played it loud in my car whenever I felt like I was truly achieving things and was generally on top of the world.
It has popped up on my playlist on shuffle over the past couple of weeks and every time I hear it I miss the Wairarapa with a passion. You might remember this post where I bragged a little about living in such a beautiful place and this post, where I said goodbye to that beautiful place.
I nearly spent two summers there, so now that summer is almost within arm's reach, I'm longing for some country air. Sure, I'm lucky to live where I do - in the Hutt Valley ("The little city that tries hard" - according to Joshua - haha), just minutes away from the Coolest Little Capital in the World, and we have grand plans of visits to the local beaches, a trip to the south coast, a day long walk to the Pencarrow Lighthouse, this summer, but a slightly traitorous part of me longs to drive aimlessly down a long country road to nowhere, to risk life and limb climbing through a house that could fall down around us at any moment, to walk barefoot along the golden sand of Castlepoint, a place that feels like the end of the earth... maybe we will... it's not that far away... who knows what this summer will bring... but I have a good feeling that it will be a hot one, a great one, a happy one... with lots of ice cream, relaxing tunes, sand between our toes, kisses in the ocean, and fresh air...




Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Monday :)


Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. I spent mine yet again exploring my inner social butterfly which hasn't flown much over the last couple of years due to the chasing of career dreams, but has lately been rearing its beautiful head. A lot. Which has meant a fair few late nights, a belly warmed by  red wine, and I'm sure a few laugh lines on my beautifully aging face that no longer requires ID to get into a bar. Have a lovely week lovelies! xo

Friday, October 26, 2012

For Joshua...

This one's for you Joshua, because it's your birthday and because you are the peanut to my butter... the flip to my flop... the sweet in my dreams... the cheese to my macaroni... and I know how much you love it when I make you watch musicals with me :p love you long time xo



Feel good Friday


Because of Labour weekend last weekend, it's been a short and sweet week, with a very busy weekend coming up, which is kind of good because I suffer from what Joshua likes to call "Weekenditis" - if I'm not doing anything I get a little bit weird. It's definitely been an inspiring week, and also a week of reflection... so here's what's making me happy this week...

The prospect of spoiling Joshua on his birthday with hugs and kisses and meatloaf wrapped in bacon for dinner tonight...
Getting an email inviting me to the NaNoWriMo kick off party on Sunday - eep! I'm really doing this, what a nutbar
Getting serious about my research for my novel, Missing Since Tuesday, by meeting with a Wellington Railways expert at the archives - think I might have to take a day off work sometime soon to trawl through all those amazing old photos, so fascinating!
Having a rare "I have nothing to do" moment, which I spent cruising through my old Facebook photos, smiling over the little things that have changed and the little things that haven't over the last five years or so, and also smiling over the beautiful memories of summers past, wondering what memories are in store for us this summer


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life through a pinhole

So awhile ago, my brother and his girlfriend came back from overseas. Well, they bought me a present - all the way from Shetland, Scotland. A pinhole camera! I had heard of them, but never really thought about actually using one, and it's a truly amazing concept - it takes photography way back to the basics. It's all about light.
A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens and with a single small aperture — effectively a light-proof box with a small hole on one side. Light from a scene passes through this single point and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box.
How thoughtful is my brother?!
So, naturally, I've been researching pinhole photography - in an effort to do a good job first time round and not waste film - and I've come across some amazing images! They've all got this slightly spooky, yet romantic, feel to them, making them somehow otherworldly. I can't wait to start making some of my own this summer, so watch this space!
(Click on photos for sources)









Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Joe Gaines

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.


This week we hear from Joe Gaines, author of Zachania and father of six, who shares his story of rising above a poor education, leaving school illiterate at age 15, and a difficult life to give his children a better life than what he had and write a novel on the side.  

Name: Joe Gaines
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in London England, Love the history and Chelsea football club but hate the weather, our summers are terrible!
Author of: Zachania
Website: www.krays.org
www.jhgaines.blogspot.co.uk

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am brand new to self publishing but I have always loved to write. I am what some people call 'a jack of all trades' or a bit of a cheeky cockney if you come from London. I was once a professional boxer and I am now a boxing promoter but would love to work full time as an author. writing novels allows me go and do whatever comes into my mind, it is a shame we only have one life to live as we all want to do so much but unfortunately not many of us can make all our dreams come true but with writing I suppose it gives you a small experience of what some dreams might be; you can be a hero, a bad guy, a spiritual guy or just about anything else that your mind may take you. its a form of escapism for me.


Tell us about your book, Zachania: An epic tale of a family’s battle against an all-powerful and foreign empire, the story will take you from the main characters childhood to becoming a man as an imperial soldier where he discovers his secret ancestry and embarks on a sacred quest to discover his hidden past and kin. As the story unravels you are taken into the forbidden land of Zachania where a vast lost civilisation is waiting for a saviour to lead them to their freedom.

As the book progresses you will discover many new realms, races and secrets as well as feats of heroism, cruelty and love, the style of writing includes many of the frailties and traits that we all possess upon the characters, revealing many of their hidden thoughts and fears as the story unfolds.
Zachania is very much a book that tells a story about a boy who grows into a man as it is about action and storyline. I have tried to put the characters feelings into script where you can feel their trials and tribulations and rejoice at their successes.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? It is difficult to name one thing that got me hooked. I can remember writing as a child where one of my Christmas presents was a small desk. I would spend hours drawing underwater worlds and writing short stories.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? To be honest I am not a big reader, I love to write rather than read. I should read more but I am scared it might influence my writing in a negative way. I know it’s a strange outlook but I like my stories to flow or to gather momentum and then crash all the action starts.

What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? I began writing Zachania for my wife who was then my fiancé. She was working nights as a croupier at a casino so I would write a few pages for her when she came home, at first it was five or six pages but then the story kind of formed a life on its own and I started to write every moment I could.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? It’s a fantasy book but if there is any message then I would say it is about humanity. The feelings that we have and how consequence can turn you upside down and inside out. It’s a style of writing that features in all my literature, I think I place myself into the characters and I can sometimes see what kind of frame of mind I was in when I wrote a certain page or chapter.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? My main challenge is my grammar and punctuation. I had no education so I find it very difficult at times, I can write a page in ten minutes and then spend thirty minutes editing it. Sometimes I think my style of writing is also open to criticism but it is my style rather than bad punctuation! Especially when writing dialogue. I also believe that as writers we are all different, I am not trying to get a degree in Shakespeare so why should all books be written the same, why should we be restrained or shackled?

What has been your best moment as a writer? I would say seeing my wife’s face when she had enjoyed what I had wrote and when I got my first copy of Zachania through the post.

Who is your author idol? Very difficult to say as I have only read a handful of books, I am more a lover of quotes or dialogue. Kipling’s ‘IF’ left a big impression on me and I love some of the speeches in Shakespeare 'once more to the breach’

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Yes definitely, in nearly all my characters I see some part of my nature, (even the baddies)

What challenges did you face self-publishing? The formatting for Kindle was at first very difficult for me. When I first had a go at it I gave up for a couple of months until I found some time and then just knuckled down and somehow I got a version which looked OK. I must have two dozen files on my computer from trial and error. I am still finding the odd mistake but at least with kindle you can go back and correct it. Self-publishing can also be so time consuming. If there is one down side it would be that the marketing takes me away from my writing.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? My dream has always been to escape the life I was born into and to give my children a better life, if writing helps this then my dream would come true.

What does your workspace look like? Bedlam! I have a shared computer in my living room with a TV, Xbox and five children!

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? No…compared to what else I have done in my life writing is very safe.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Not quit but I frequently get distracted and get certain days when I couldn’t write a shopping list! Some days I can just write and write on others I struggle to find the words I need.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I have a very colourful life; I am a boxing promoter and an actor, my children also take up most of my time.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? If you love to write then you're doing what makes you happy. Sometimes you can get into character and start walking around the house talking to yourself though as your acting out a scene.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? How to play cricket and rugby! My education was terrible and I left school illiterate aged fifteen.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? I would have to say it is because of my passion and some of the things I have been through in my lifetime which made me put pen to paper. My real name is not Joseph Henry Gaines and someday hopefully I may be able to reveal who I am but at this moment to reveal who I am would be a hindrance, if you Google my real name it reveals a page of results where never would anyone associate me with writing fantasy novels.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? If you love writing then write and don’t worry about what others say, criticism comes in two guises, constructive and harsh. Use the constructive advice to better yourself and pay no attention to the harsh, most of the time harsh criticism comes from people who themselves have been criticised and it has turned them bitter.
I was criticized lately by another author who wrote a book about ‘chess strategy’, now I am not generalising here but it is not hard to imagine what someone who writes a four hundred page manuscript on what chess looks like. I would imagine this kind of person could find fault in Dickens or Twain.
Personally I could not criticize anyone who is trying, it’s a pet hate of mine where I see some people being horrible to other people who are trying, it is a side to the human nature which I dislike, as I say in one of my poems ‘it takes a big man with heart to sympathise and a small man to criticize’





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Tuesday!


Morning all! We've just had a long weekend here in NZ, so apologies for the lack of Friday and Monday posts, but Happy Tuesday anyway! Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine included a lot of sleeping, eating, baking cookies, watching Californication, barbecue and a swim at a friend's house, watching rugby, listening to my new favourite song, Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, going to pet stores to look at the cute little kitties and doggies that we can't have yet. All in all, a fabulous weekend - felt like a warm up for Christmas - Joshua and I even talked about whether we should get a real or fake tree for our first Christmas living together. Even though a small fake one is a sensible idea for our apartment, we thought, screw it, we're getting a real one!
Have a fabulous week xo

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The next big thing

I've been tagged by avid You May Say I'm a Dreamer follower Rebekah Campbell to answer some questions about my novel-in-progress, aka The Next Big Thing! So here goes...

What is the working title of your book?

Missing Since Tuesday

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Years ago, I saw a story on the news about a man who was found passed out on a beach somewhere in England. He was wearing a suit with no labels on it and when he woke up in hospital he didn’t know who he was and he didn’t talk, but when the doctors gave him a piece of paper and a pencil he drew a grand piano, so they took him to a piano and he played it with amazing skill. Even though they put him on the news, nobody knew who he was. I don’t know if he was ever claimed, but it got me thinking. I thought, how could someone, in this day and age, just appear on a beach out of nowhere and be completely unknown to anyone? I’ve always been fascinated with time travel so I got it into my head that this guy could be a time traveller, and because he was wearing a suit and could play the piano, I placed him somewhere in the forties. That man became my main character, who time travels through Wellington, New Zealand’s, own rocky beach from the forties to the present at the end of my story, so the story is built around what got him to that point.

What genre does your book fall under?
I’m not really sure… it has a lot of themes running through it, like adventure/thriller/ romance/science fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one… I know who I would like to direct it. Peter Jackson, because I remember seeing the old New York set he built for King Kong not far from my home and I could imagine him doing the same for old Wellington. Now that I think about it, I reckon Jim Sturgess would make a good Arthur, my main character – not sure about the others though.



















What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The sudden disappearance of a young man’s first love on Wellington’s (New Zealand) rocky south coast sets in motion a chain of events that sees five lives of the past and the present collide with devastating consequences in the midst of World War Two.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m thinking self publishing is the way to go, then I might approach a few agencies if sales go well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still working on it! I don’t write in order… I just get seized by inspiration every now and then and write a random scene, so I have zillions of files with random scenes from all over the book. But over the last few months I’ve been putting it into an order that makes sense, so technically that’s my first draft but I’ve edited quite a lot already.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series – that’s what got me so interested in time travel – well, that and Back to the Future! I love how she’s made the time travel thing seem so possible and like it’s a normal thing that happens and then she’s woven so much history into the story. That’s what I’m aiming to do – write a good, meaningful story and weave it through Wellington then and now.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I inspired myself to write it because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I have so many friends and family members who love what I’ve written so far and give me awesome feedback so that inspires me to keep going.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The realities of war and the affect it had on every aspect of people’s lives, even in little ol’ New Zealand, is a major theme running through the book. I also want to portray the amazing sense of family and community we have in this country, something that hasn’t changed over the years since the wars, and it’s all a big test of the human spirit – I wanted to test just how much loss, grief and hardship a person can handle before it either breaks them or makes them.

So now I'm going to tag the fabulous Diony George, Kristy1504 from A Little Shelf of Heaven and Chelsey from Charming Chelsey's ..... have fun!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Jennifer Schmidt

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.
This week we hear from Jennifer Schmidt, who tell us about her love of books and her novel, Risking it All.

Name: Jennifer Schmidt
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in a very small town in Manitoba, Canada. Growing up I couldn’t wait to escape to some place more exciting, which I did soon after I turned 19. But life and its unexpected twists landed me back home and now that I’m older (although not necessarily any wiser than I was nine years ago at 19) and have kids, I appreciate small town living a lot more. There’s not really one thing I love about the town specifically, but I do love living in the country. I love the space, I love how quiet it is compared to traffic jammed city streets, and I love that my kids can grow up around my family.
Author of: Risking it all
Website: www.jleeschmidt.blogspot.ca

Tell us a bit about yourself: Ever since learning to read, I have always had a love for books. There has hardly been a time since second grade that I didn’t have a book in my hand or close by. Myr love for the written word soon inspired me to write my own stories. However, it wasn’t until I found an online writing community that I took the first step and, hiding behind a penname, posted my work. After some persuasion from family and friends, I shed the penname, entered the 2010 TWCS Original Fiction Contest, and won for best romance. In 2011, I published my first novel, Last Call. When I'm not glued to my laptop making my characters’ lives as chaotic as possible, I'm chasing after my two young sons, Hayden and Nicholas, and doing the “mom thing.”


Tell us about your book, Risking it All: Kennedy Monroe barely got her foot in her college dorm her freshman year before she was being warned about a certain dark-haired, blue-eyed self-proclaimed Casanova. There were only so many tales of heartache – and incredibly steamy nights – she could listen to before she started to believe them. But after a run in with the most sought after college womanizer, her ill feelings toward him change and soon a friendship forms that surprises everyone. Twelve years later Kennedy and Memphis Adams are closer than ever - and only friends despite what those around them think, including Kennedy’s boyfriend Ian Brooks. When Kennedy accepts an invitation to vacation in Alaska from Memphis, her relationship with Brooks is tested as is her restraint when it comes to the desire she has always had for her best friend.

Alone with Memphis in Alaska, Kennedy finds it increasingly harder to ignore temptation and wants nothing more than to give into her secret desires with the one man that has always been off limits. But is one night of passion worth the possible risk of losing their friendship over?
Feeling torn between doing the right thing and doing what she wants, Kennedy fears losing her best friend. She knows she needs to sort out her feelings for the two men in her life and deal with the consequences of her actions, but how can she when everything seems to be falling apart so fast? And how much can Memphis take before he’s pushed too far and can no longer take Kennedy’s inability to make a decision about what and who she wants?
Kennedy discovers the harsh reality of how one night can change everything and leave her risking it all.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? I’ll let you in on a little secret: I had difficulty learning to read when I was younger. Because of that struggle I had no interest in books and I remember being fairly stubborn when it came to learning. It was my second grade teacher who took the extra time to really sit down and help me, and once I started there was no stopping me and that created a monster *laughs*

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? No. Not one that changed or affected my life. However, when I was 16 I read His Bright Light by Danielle Steel for the first time. It was the first non-fiction book I remember reading because I wanted to and not because I had to. Honestly, I only picked it up because I thought the picture of Nick Traina on the cover was hot. What I wasn’t expecting was how affected I would feel by the depth and emotion that Steel put into the book. It’s just such a touching story about her son and his struggles that my heart aches and I still cry every time I read it.

What was the seed of inspiration for risking it all? There’s always that one friend that most people have that they’ve always wondered “what if” about. What would it be like if they got together? Would it live up to the expectations they’ve built up in their imagination? Who better to fall in love with than your best friend? But if given the chance would you really go for it?

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? Not really. I guess you could take something away from Kennedy, and go after what you want and don’t be afraid to take that chance but I really didn’t put any thought into what message it might put out there.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? I’ve been really lucky. I never went through the process most writers go through by submitting their work to publishers and waiting to hear what they have to say. I entered a contest for a publishing contract that TWCS Publishing House hosted and ended up winning for best romance. That’s how my debut novel, Last Call, was published. The only challenges I’ve really faced is not having the confidence in my writing. I still don’t think it’s all that great until my editors get a hold of it.

What has been your best moment as a writer? There are two that stand out. The night I found out I won the publishing contract, and the day I received Last Call in the mail. It’s still surreal to see my name amongst the books on my shelves.

Who is your author idol? I can’t pick just one that I adore out of all the amazing authors I read. They each bring something different to the table with their writing.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Sure, every once in a while something will sneak in there. Sometimes it takes someone else to say, “Hey, that’s totally you!” before I notice it. In those cases, I try to rewrite it. It’s not so bad if it’s subtle and no one picks up on it, but if someone I know can point it out, I don’t like that.

Do you prefer your book to be labelled erotica or adult romance? I know so many people when they hear erotica they immediately think whips, chains, threesomes etc. When I did the book blog tour with my first book it was labelled romance and there were a few bloggers who said they hadn’t expected the explicit love scenes and some of them were turned off because of that. This time around, Risking It All is labelled erotica. You won’t find whips and chains in it but you will definitely find explicit sex. Because of the content, and for those who aren’t into reading that type of romance, I prefer the label erotica.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Both. I feel so lucky to be a published author at only 27, but I think I’ll always feel like there’s more that I can do.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? I’m still working on that one! I am the worst for putting things off until the last minute. I work better under pressure–or least that’s what I tell myself.

How do you work your writing around being a mother? Most of my writing is done late at night, but oddly enough I work better when I have the background noise of my kids. The quiet gets to me and distracts me more than the fighting between two boys over whose turn it is to be Spider-Man and who gets to be Batman.

What does your workspace look like? I don’t really have a work place. One day I would love an office where I can lock myself away and have everything I need at arm’s reach, but right now I work pretty much wherever I can find a place my kids or dogs haven’t taken over. If I’m working during the day I do a lot of writing at the kitchen table, or the corner of the couch if I can persuade my children to share their “super hero cave”. At night I work in my bedroom.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Besides writer’s block driving you completely insane? None that I can think of.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Yes! My first novel felt like it took forever to write and there were times when writer’s block was so bad that I couldn’t think of anything for weeks. This time around it wasn’t as bad, but there was still doubt on my part that I’d finish the manuscript in time for my deadline. But because of one bossy, demanding man who threatened to kick my butt if I did give up, I never did and I even finished before my deadline!

What do you do when you’re not writing? As a single parent any moment that I’m not working is spent with my kids. But when the manuscripts are finished and the kids aren’t demanding attention I love to curl up with one of the many TBR books on my dresser. I also really love to cook and bake, which many people find humorous considering I couldn’t boil water without burning it dry before I had kids.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? I can’t speak for every writer, but for me it is patience. Which is also pretty funny considering I am the least patient person on the planet. But when it comes to writer’s block I need to be patient, I can’t let it get to me. The harder I try to overcome it the worse it gets and then I could be blocked for months. When I find that I’m stuck I need to take a step back, whether it’s for an hour, a day or longer, and just forget about it. When I put it out of my mind and focus on something else, that usually does the trick and inspiration strikes.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? That no matter how old you are playing hide-and-seek in the dark in the gym change rooms will always be fun.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? I don’t think it was a moment when I realized I was meant to do it, but when I finally got the courage to post my work for others to read and it received awesome feedback, there was a moment when I thought maybe I really could do this.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Don’t be afraid to try! And I’m speaking from experience because I was terrified! Create a blog, join a writing group on line, write under a penname if that makes you feel better (it did me) and just go for it. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t give yourself that chance.





Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: The Catcher in the Rye

"I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

Well I finally got around to reading one of the classics, The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, and I absolutely loved it.
I have never laughed so much while reading a book. On the train on the way to work, at work on my break, out on the steps outside my house, I spent the last couple of weeks just cracking up at this teenage boy telling me about how he got kicked out of school and spent two days hanging around New York City, using phrases like "and all that crap", "all morons hate it when you call them a moron", "in my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw", and calling everyone "old", like his awesome little sister, "old Phoebe".
It had no real storyline to it, no resolution, no questions that really needed to be answered. It was just the story of a teenage boy's two days in New York City. And I liked that. It was a refreshing change from most books that try their very best to explain the meaning of life. It really was.
So if you haven't read it, read it. If you're lucky enough to have a whole day free, or even half a day if you're a fast reader, read The Catcher in the Rye, you'll be so glad you did. You really will.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Yesterday I went to the rugby with my family and a bunch of family friends were there supporting our very own Jason Woodward. One of the mums said hello to us and, because I sat down in front of her, she said, "How's life, Sarah?", and I replied "Fantastic!" with a big smile. She smiled back and said "That's good", but in her face for a split second, I saw a hint of surprise that someone would actually say their life is fantastic without sarcasm.
I thought, how sad is that, that a good, positive answer to the question "How's life?" Is such a rare one?
Ask yourself: When was the last time you told someone you were "Fantastic" when someone asked you how life was?
If you can't remember saying it or if you don't recall saying it ever, for one minute please, stand here in silence and look at the sky, and contemplate how awesome life is. Then, the next time someone asks you, "How's life?" reply with your choice of "Awesome", "Fantastic", or even "Amazing". And if you don't think your life is worthy of those words, change it and make it worthy.

Happy Monday, have a Fantastic week. xo

Friday, October 12, 2012

Feel good friday





                 








Not a lot has happened this week, so today it's all about the little things making me happy:

♥  Making an amazing batch of raspberry and orange muffins
Starting a new book (Nancy Wake by Peter Fitzsimons)
♥ Writing a couple of chapters for Missing Since Tuesday and Strawberry Jam (which I'm now calling Demons in her Garden - just for a change, might not stay that way, who knows where the story is going? Not me...)
♥ Sitting in the hot sun yesterday - the first truly hot, summer-feeling day so far this season
♥ Joining National Novel Writing Month (anyone ever done this before?) - so excited, might actually finish something for once!

What's making you happy this week friends? ♥ 

Oh, and don't forget to follow my Facebook Page :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apparently I'm a "Pescaterian"

I've always been a big meat eater. I was always the one standing with dad by the barbecue taste testing the steak, the one who devoured the Christmas ham, the one whose favourite pizza was meatlovers.
But about three weeks ago, when I made myself a nice hunk of crumbed chicken with a couple of fried eggs on the side, my body said to me "I don't want to eat meat anymore. And you know those eggs you've always loved? Yeah, don't want those either. Deal with it."
I had no choice in the matter. I can still eat fish, so that makes me not a vegetarian, but a pescatarian. So I haven't eaten meat in nearly two weeks, and, strangely enough, I feel fine. The tiredness and dizzyness stopped after the first week, which makes me think I'm getting everything I need from what I'm eating.
When I eat, I don't feel bloated or sick, just full and content. So I'm kind of liking it, although I do kind of hope I do go back to eating it at least occasionally, because I love to cook and there are so many meals I was planning on making but they all involve meat... and Christmas is coming...

The bad things about being a pescatarian:

Explaining to people that you're not doing it to make a point about animal cruelty and then feeling slightly guilty when they look at you all askew and ask you why on earth not.
Using more dishes to make dinner because I live with a serious meat eater, so there's a meat meal for him and a veggie meal for me.

The good things about being a pescatarian:

I'm getting more creative with my cooking
Cooking has become more challenging
I'm discovering new recipes and find myself able to cook a meat version and a veggie version of the same meal at the same time.
I feel really healthy
I'm eating heaps more vegetables than I ever have
My troublesome skin is looking better and better every day (finally!)
Although I'm one of those girls that girls hate... I can eat whatever I want and not put on weight... :/ I always felt guilty about my eating habits, but now, food plays a slightly less important role in my life - I don't eat when I'm bored, I don't eat food just because it's there, and I don't eat too much

The best thing about being a pescatarian:

My brother is a personal trainer and he's had some diet issues himself, so in our family he's the go-to guy for all things fitness and nutrition. So I told him about it on Sunday night and one thing he said has really stuck with me: "It's great that you're so aware of your body". That made me feel really proud, because, even though it freaked me out at first and I thought something must be wrong with me, I've now come to accept it. I've listened to what my body wants and, even though I don't understand why it wants what it wants, it's making me feel like a healthier, better-rounded person, and I think there's something to be said about trusting your instincts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Steve Theunissen

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week I have another Kiwi author for you - Steve Theunissen, all the way from sunny Tauranga, who tells us about his shift from the fitness industry to teaching and writing his novel Through Angel's Eyes.  

Name: Steve Theunissen
Location and one thing you love about living there: Tauranga - the fantastic weather
Author of: Through Angel's Eyes
Book available: Through my author website - http://sbpra.com/stevetheunissen/
Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Through-Angels-Eyes-Steve-Theunissen/dp/1618973746/ref=cm_cmu_up_thanks_hdr
or directly from me at throughangelseyes@hotmail.com

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a 47 year old Intermediate school teacher. My first passion was the fitness industry and at age 19 I owned and operated my own gymnasium in Rotorua. I went on to become the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand. In the mid-1990’s I combined my passion for fitness with my love of writing as I set about forging a career as a freelance fitness writer. From there I branched out to produce books about his next great passion – U.S. history. I’ve written extensively about the American Indian Wars in general and the Battle of the Little Big Horn in particular. I’ve been teaching at Tauranga Intermediate since 2007.

Tell us about Through Angel's Eyes: Through Angel’s Eyes is the first person account of a 13 year old Black girl as she experiences the pivotal events of the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama civil rights movement.
50 years ago the scourge of racism was stifling the development of millions of children in America. In 1963, a core group of these courageous young people stood up and said, “Enough!” The story of these child marchers imparts vital lessons that the 21st century child desperately needs to learn from - courage, resistance to peer pressure, empathy, non-violence and conviction.Through Angel’s Eyes brings the story of the 1963 Alabama child marches to life through the eyes of Angel Dunbar.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? It was the realisation that an author has the power to affect the reader’s emotions - to make them feel sadness, anger, hope and exhiliration - by what they put on the page.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? Yes, when I was 15 my class was assigned To Kill A Mockingbird to read. I put if off, not keen to wade through a book about birds. When I finally got started I couldn’t stop. It hooked me in and kept me until the very last sentence. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.

What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? It goes way back to 1977 when, as a 12 year old, I watched the mini-series Roots on TV. I became intrigued with the African American story and wanted to know about their more recent struggles. I began studying the 1960’s civil rights movement and it was then that I came across the story of the 1963 child marchers in Birmingham. I was so inspired by their example that I wanted to get this story out to a wider audience.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? Definitely. In my main character Angel Dunbar we see an example of a young person who faces up to many of the challenges confronting young people today - peer pressure, discrimination and the challenge to retaliate. The main message of the book is summed up by something that Martin Luther King once said: "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people." So, if readers can come away with a renewed conviction not to turn a blind eye, stay silent or look the other way when they see an injustice, they will have grasped what I intended.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Banging my head against a brick wall while trying to break into the traditional publishing market, spending a fortune on sending out manuscripts, receiving a plethora of rejection slips - and keeping going anyway.

What has been your best moment as a writer? Receiving my proof copy of Through Angel’s Eyes.

Who is your author idol? Harper Lee.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Yes, I’d like to think that I’m somewhat like Mr Newton, Angel’s school teacher. His greatest quality is empathy and that’s something that all teachers need plenty of.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Well for 17 years I’ve lived with Angel and the ambition of getting her story into print. Now that it has happened, my dream is to share her with as many people as possible because I think that she’s got a worthwhile story to tell.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? Self imposed deadlines.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Fear of rejection.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? No, the passion has never dimmed.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I try to share my passion for literacy with kids.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Self belief, a thick skin and perseverance.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? That I had a voice that was worthy of hearing

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? When I was in the Fifth form and read a short story I’d written about the Vietnam War and the kids said I should get it published.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Don’t let fear of rejection stop you from sharing your voice with the world.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Weekend chillax playlist

I have just discovered musical amazingness... Angus and Julia Stone. Wow. Best. Weekend. Chillax. Music. Ever. And check out their Facebook page, it's just full of visual loveliness...


I've been a fan of old music for a long time - Beatles, Rolling Stones and such, and, although I'm still ever faithful to them, I've started discovering some amazing new(ish) music that I suppose is in the "indie" category. Most if it is the perfect weekend music. You know, the kind of music you listen to after you've finished grooving to the Hairspray soundtrack while doing the housework, and you're sitting in the sun with a cup of tea and a good book. Summertime bliss!

Also on my weekend playlist...

Mumford and Sons - Thistle and Weeds

Edward Sharpe and the Magnestic Zeros - Home

Elbow - Grounds for Divorce

Boy and Bear - Fall at Your Feet

City and Colour - Comin' Home

She & Him - In the Sun

The Kooks - She Moves in Her Own Way


Any suggestions, indie fans?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Monday :)


"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely" - Roald Dahl

Happy Monday people! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I feel like all I did was housework and baking, but it was pretty wonderful all the same. Have a great week xo

P.S. Make sure you like my new Facebok page where I'll post blog updates and other extra tidbits once it gets rolling with lost of likes :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Flying high Friday


It's amazing the value that animals bring to our lives, and what's more amazing is when they get sick and you realise how important they are to you and how your life just wouldn't be the same without them. I've never been without a dog in my life. My parents got their first dog just before I was born and he grew up with me, he was like my big brother. Since him, we've had three more dogs and, although I've only lived with my parents for six months in the past two and a half years, I still consider this fabulous guy in the photo above mine. He's a huge part of our family. Instead of being my wise older brother who looked after me and checked on me in my room before he went to bed at night like Ash (my first dog) was, Dash is like my cheeky little five year old brother who drives you round the twist sometimes with all his energy and occasional misbehaving, but then he sits right in front of you, almost on your toes, puts his ears back and stares up at you with his adorable dark brown puppy-dog eyes and you just have to give him a cuddle - I challenge anyone to ignore that look. You can't. You just can't.
This week had the potential to be a horrible week, because our beautiful seven-year-old German Shepherd got really, really sick and had a major emergency operation. But, amazingly, last night, the day after his operation, he was standing up, wagging his tail, giving mum kisses and being his usual softie self. We are all so grateful he came through it and we're so lucky to have such an amazing animal in our lives.
Do you have a special animal in your life?



Have a great weekend people xo


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Places I would like to get lost in a book

On Facebook I follow this page called Books, So Many Books. It generates some great conversations about books, but it also bombards you with beautiful images of reading nooks and lots of other dreamy places that would be fabulous to read in. My reading place at the moment is on the train on the way to and from work, which isn't too bad, but it's nice to dream about the perfect place...













Where is your perfect reading spot? Have you found it or created it or is it still in your head?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Chris Gray

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from Chris Gray, world traveller and author of The Flight of the Griffin, who tells us about the mixed bag of travelling, fatherhood, writing and rain forest preservation work that is his life.

Name: Chris Gray
Location and one thing you love about living there: I currently call the region of Barcelona home, my house is about half an hour outside the city in the middle of the forest with just the wild boar for neighbours. A lot of people that visit think living in the woods is creepy and scary, especially with the boar crashing through the trees at night, but my family and I love it, lots of people have grown up with the need for the constant hum of the city but its no longer the choice for me, nature is the place where I can relax and I love it here. Before coming here, I lived in Asia for many years in big cities like Hong Kong and Manila, I also traveled around a lot and I think a lot of the places and experiences I've had out there come through in my writing.
Author of: The Flight of the Griffin
Book available: It's available as an ebook and also as a paperback. Both are available on Amazon but you can also find the ebooks on Smashwords.com and the paperback version on Lulu.com I've kept the prices quite low so go check it out!
Website: I currently have a blog which is http://flightofthegriffin.blogspot.com and I can also be found on Goodreads.com and twitter(@cgray129)

Tell us a bit about yourself: Hi Sarah, thanks so much for inviting me I'm thrilled to be here. I'm an Englishman but I've been lucky enough to call many places and countries home over the last...few years! Barcelona Spain is now home. I've had a whole bunch of jobs over the years, from church organ builder and carpenter to stockbroker. I currently raise both money and awareness for a company that is attempting to replant the rainforest's, which I find very fulfilling, but I'll happily go to full time writing just as soon as I can!

Tell us about your book, The Flight of the Griffin: My latest book is my second. It's a YA fantasy questing adventure that follows the exploits of four youngsters as they try to complete a last great spell to stop the world from tipping into chaos. They have to do this by finding and uniting three crystal skulls while some pretty nasty characters are after them trying to stop them. Hopefully you will find it a real page turner and hard to put down, that's what the feedback I'm getting so far is and I'm thrilled!

Why did you leave England? I was 19 and a carpenter, working outside changing people's windows and doors. It was February and really cold with snow and sleet; a real British winter. At the end of my contract I decided I needed to go somewhere hot to thaw out, so went into a travel agents and asked for a ticket to a hot and interesting country...they sent me to India. I had never had a curry or anything spicy before I arrived there and had no idea what I was heading into. I spent the first few weeks staying pretty close to the toilets, trying to acclimatise to the food and the heat! I ended up adoring the food and loving the open friendly people. It really was the hot interesting place I had asked the travel agent to send me to!
I stayed seven months and traveled all over, India opened my eyes to many things. I finally ended up in Nepal on the Tibetan Boarder in a Buddhist monastery. No I didn't stay and gain enlightenment, maybe I should have, but after being turned back at the Tibetan border I returned to the UK, looking a lot more like Gandhi than the person in my passport photograph!

What’s the most important thing travelling the world has taught you? That despite us all being different, we're all basically the same. That there are an awful lot of really nice, good people out there, but there are also a few truly nasty people who are best avoided if you can. Most importantly, traveling has taught me to push my horizons and always look beyond that next hill, be it a physical challenge or an emotional one.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? Since an early age I have loved to read. I grew up surrounded by books of all sorts and it was perfectly natural for me to read one after another after another. We all hear that we have a book or two inside us and I had been meaning to try writing for several years. The thing that finally pushed me over the edge into writing out that first sentence was television. I realised one day that I wasn't actually enjoying an awful lot of the programmes and often couldn't remember what I had just been watching! (Try that yourself sometime. When the commercials come on, think to yourself, 'what is it that I'm watching?' it might scare you.) the final nail was when my wife really got into the reality TV shows, I had to leave the room and start writing!

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? When I got my hands on a scruffy old copy of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck I discovered a true literary artist. Every word was in the right place, you wouldn't want it written any other way, it was fantastic. We all have our own tastes but the works of John Steinbeck are the very best for me and they gave me an even greater appreciation of the 'art' of writing.

What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? No real seed. I always start off with a first sentence, something that interests me, and then see where it takes me. I write for my own entertainment and it's a little like playing a video game for me. One that I'm guiding, and if it takes a turn I find uninteresting then I can retrace my steps and take another way, but most of the time I'm swept along merely reporting on m the movements of my characters. That for me is fun, I couldn't write from a structured synopsis. Even the sequel which I'm writing now has been written till now with no real idea where it's going, but it's going really well!

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? I haven't written it with the idea of putting over some great wonderful message, however, I think it is about loyalty to ones friends and to the ideals you have in life. One of the things I try to live by is to make every choice in life a conscious decision and not to get swept along in the flow around you.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Like many authors I tried the 'traditional' route of trying to get an agent and then a publisher. I finally got an agent and she was trying to get me publisher. I was delighted when told that two very well known publishers were interested in my work and were asking for US rights as well as UK rights, then film rights, it was very exciting...but then it all fell flat on it's face as both apparently pulled out. It left me dazed and confused. I could get no reason for the change of heart from both at the same time, it was a real kick in the teeth. I'm really happy to going the 'indie' route now. Sales are picking up and I have a great following of people leaving me great reviews and asking for the next book as soon as I can write it.

What has been your best moment as a writer? I think finally writing 'The End' at the final page of my first draft. I had actually finished a book! I didn't know anyone else personally who had written a book and I was very chuffed. I had no idea that the next stage was to edit, I hate editing!

What are the advantages of self publishing and e-publishing? I think the advantages are that I can go at my own pace. There is no deadline for the sequel to The Flight of the Griffin, I don't have anyone breathing down my neck so I can still enjoy the writing process. The advantage of e-publishing is huge. For one I can get my work out to readers at a very low price on Amazon and Smashwords. At this stage of my writing career I'm not looking to make money, I want readers, reviews and the chance to shout 'HERE I AM!' on wonderful blogs like this!

Who is your author idol? I've already mentioned John Steinbeck, but am also a great admirer of Manda Scott or M.C.Scott as she seems to call herself now. I loved her big thick novels about Boudicca the warrior queen of the Britons who threw the Romans out of Briton. I've just finished the first in her Rome series and was delighted to find they carry on from the first series. If you haven't tried them, do.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? I see myself as setting off to sail away with friends in a boat for a lifetime of adventure and thrills. I'm a bit old for that now so I adventure with my kids and through the adventures of my protagonists in my books.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Part of my dream has come true in that I now sell books, have people reading my stories that give me great feedback that let's me know I'm doing someone right! I don't think that readers realise how much an author needs to hear if they enjoy a book, it's hugely rewarding to get a great review and inspires greater efforts. If you read a book, be it one of mine or someone else's and you have enjoyed it, leave a short review and a few stars.
The only other thing I need to do is sell enough books consistently to write full time, I would then be deliriously happy (please go buy one of my books:-)

What is your personal cure for procrastination? I never procrastinate...

What does your workspace look like? I write on a laptop so I get to write wherever I can find some peace and quiet. With two kids and two dogs it isn't always easy. I tend to write late at night when everyone has gone to bed. Ideally I would love a study, with a lock on the door, overlooking the woods. But then to be honest I would miss the noise of my family so I would still write there late at night when they slept. I'm very happy being a dad and don't want to miss anything of them. My son, Dylan, is my greatest fan and on reflection probably the greatest moment in my writing career so far is when he told me The Flight of the Griffin is the best book ever written, 'honestly dad!'

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? I'm told people get writers block, but I'm probably more prone to writers diarrhea. My ideas tend to tumble out all over the screen. My first draft of any chapter tends to be something only I can read because it comes out so fast! Possibly the only other hazard would be that the need to write drives a writer into seclusion, but I love my family far too much for that to happen, I'll just keep losing sleep and write at night!

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Only the day I was told that the two publishers that had been bidding on my book for a month had both backed off and dropped it. But I was writing again a week later.

What do you do when you’re not writing?Well, my day job is raising money for a company that replants the rain forests. It's really interesting and very rewarding, but I'd rather be writing.
I have practiced the martial art of Aikido for the last twenty odd years and now my son has joined me which is fantastic. I'm no Bruce Lee, Aikido is all circles and movement with energy flowing back an forth between like dancers if your doing it right. I also love to walk the woods and mountains of Catalunya with my family and dogs, and of course I love to travel. I'm writing this on a flight between Johannesburg and London!

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? I really think being a little insane helps. Sane is boring isn't it? Show me an eccentric and I'll show you someone who has a grip on life, even if it doesn't look like it. Break the mould and be an individual! Wear purple and dance!

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? I was rubbish at school, I couldn't understand why I had to learn all this dumb stuff. Then someone explained to me that although certain things might not make sense while we were learning them, think of everything as press-ups for the brain. Simple, but it struck a cord and I didn't flunk out as bad as I might of!

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? When I started to get good reviews from people that I didn't know. It's nice when your friends write nice stuff about your book...or my dear old mum, bless her...but when a total stranger writes that this was a simply awesome book it suddenly becomes a whole lot more real and the dream of what if? becomes let's do it!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Have fun. Give it a go. It doesn't matter if it's any good because whatever happens you will learn something about yourself. I would also suggest just writing. Start with one line. All cool books start with a cool line, start there and see where it goes. Throw the 'how to' books out of the window and just be you. Oh, and it's very important that you buy my books and read them...there are...errrr...secrets in them ;-)