The Life We’ve Lived (a paean to friendship)

Caro and I sat down tonight and couldn’t think of anything to write about. So instead, we talked. I’ve come home, and all I can think about is how blessed we’ve been. We talked a little about ourselves at twenty, and how we weren’t where we thought we’d be – but then neither of us could really remember where we thought we’d be by now!

We talked about the amazing things we’ve done in our lives – no Nobel prize-winning or cancer curing for us – but the small, simple, beautiful, anguished things. The men we’ve loved; the friends we’ve had and lost – or had and held onto. How since that first meeting (which Caro doesn’t remember but I clearly do!) we’ve known, no matter what, that we could rely on each other and trust each other. Our lives have circled around and there have been many times when we haven’t seen each other for months, but we’ve always known the other was there.

As I was driving home, I was thinking back over the years and the milestones – those big

 

and little things that have happened in my adult life. There are very few in which Caro did not play a part. High class dinner parties when we were still quite young; the suicide of a friend; a foray into Theatresports; fitness classes (we were just an inch shy of being fanatics*); relationship breakups; overseas travel; marriages; babies; second marriages; funerals; more babies; career successes and failures; three novels; countless birthdays and Christmases. We know each other’s families and each other’s histories. We don’t have to explain. Our emotional shorthand is clear to both of us.

We don’t always agree. We wouldn’t always make the same choices. Our tastes are significantly different. But we are linked. Joined at an elemental level. A bond forged through shared experiences mutual respect and above all, constancy.

I’m not a renowned author; a visionary; a world leader. But I am a lover, mother, writer who has seen so much societal and technological change in my life. And always, always, I have been blessed with amazing friends. Caro is one of them. I wouldn’t trade these friendships for all the tea in China. Cheers Caro, here’s to many more years!

* Caro sez: LOL think we might have tipped just slightly over the edge into all out fanaticism on the odd occasion ;-P Love you heaps xxx

 

Beauty and the Beast follow up…

So Lisa finally got to see the new version of Beauty and the Beast and pronounces Emma Watson’s voice as perfectly adequate so HAH to the naysayers! Although there is always a critic somewhere eh, sometimes you have to see it as constructive and sometimes you just have to ignore it…

Having said that, we are definitely not ignoring the feedback from our lovely beta readers – we have the first two responses which we are going through tonight and will make any corrections identified so far and start planning for any gaps/extras that we might need.

Also we have a friend who, fortuitously, specialises in producing fabulous book covers so undoubtedly she will be able to improve our originals and we will be able to include them when we re-publish the first two instalments to go with Out of the Shadows as the complete trilogy.

Other things in our lives lately include attending the ANZAC Day services yesterday which brought home the futility of war and echoes our wartime storyline in this latest book. In fact, in the NZ Herald today, there was an article about the son of a Canadian soldier who was posted to NZ in World War II, who had an affair and probably a child to a local girl. The son never followed up on this potential half-sibling out of respect to his parents while they were still alive but now is keen to find as much as he can about his Kiwi connection.

Lisa has also been heavily involved in home renovations, helping a daughter paint her bedroom. Add in a long weekend waterpolo tournament over Easter for the small boys and two trips to the Bay of Plenty, plus catching up with old friends down there, and it’s been a busy old time.

Having some feedback has given us some great ideas to move forward with and has made us feel as though we’re not writing in a complete vacuum. We look forward to our other readers being as constructive and helpful!

For the Fallen an Ode

How did you observe ANZAC Day if you’re a New Zealander or Australian? Have you enjoyed this run of short weeks? Tell us what you’ve been up to!

 

Tale as old as time…

I haven’t made it to the new Beauty and the Beast movie, but I am looking forward to it. It has made us think though about retellings of fairy stories.

Probably my favourite movie retelling of a fairy tale is the excellent “Ever After”. Caro was able to nominate a 1946 Jean Cocteau black and white film version of Beauty and the Beast (“La Belle et la Bete”). She also recalls a TV series called Faery Tale Theatre from the 1980s with Shelley Duvall introducing the series and Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher and numerous others starring in the remakes. Needless to say this demonstrates that Caro’s film experiences are eclectic and far ranging!

My favourite fairy tale ever is Leda and the Seven Swans, and my favourite retelling of it is Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier.

Daughter of the Forest

For all that I love Leda, there’s something about the Beauty and the Beast story that seems to catch everyone’s attention. Is it the hostage drama? Or the brave self-sacrifice of Beauty? Is it the idea of the lonely, brooding beast, doomed to roam the halls of his castle for all eternity in punishment for arrogance? Does the recurring theme of the rose add to the delicacy, pain and strength of the story? Is it just the hope it inspires in us that love is not defined by outward appearance, but rather by character? Or is it just that the Beast is far sexier than the Prince? Perhaps we always prefer the bad boys…

Another of my favourite authors, Robin McKinley, wrote  a wonderful retelling of Beauty and the Beast in her 1978 novel “Beauty”. Clearly she was still fascinated by the story, as nearly twenty years later, she wrote another, significantly different version, “Rose Daughter”. “Beauty” remains one of my most re-read books and I’ve had to replace the paperback I originally bought. I also like “Rose Daughter”, in part for the different slant it paces on the story. Incidentally, McKinley also wrote an excellent Sleeping Beauty retelling called “Spindle’s End”. Very worth reading.

I don’t know if all romance writers and readers like fairy tales as well, but I’ve always loved them. The themes are very straightforward, the magic, the happy ending and I guess the romance is always appealing as well, for me personally. Just a note here that Caroline prefers the far more gruesome and punishment heavy original Grimm stories. Beauty and the Beast is her favourite fairy tale – but not the Disney cartoon version with the singing crockery (although she does admit to shedding a tear during the ballroom scene).

Reading fairy tales led me on to Hans Christian Anderson, then Norse Mythology, and from there to Celtic myths and legends, and then to King Arthur. King Arthur led me to fantasy and from there it was a hop skip and a jump to romance and science fiction. For Caro, it was the Andrew Lang fairy tale books and original Grimm stories. Looking back on the progression, it seems to me that the imagination of it all is what attracted me the most. It inspired me write my own fairy tales, starting a lifelong love of writing as well as reading

What is your favourite fairy tale? What about a movie version? And a book version? We’d love to hear your take on it!

 

 

 

YAY! and… BUGGER

So we went hard out and finished the damn book but when we went to submit our competition entry, the fine print nobbled us 😦

Apparently, not only could the MSS have never been published but nor could its author/s and YES that included self-publishing on Amazon….

Well damn, we said – and a few other choice epithets including today’s title, which is summed up very well by the following slice of Kiwiana:

The good news is that HURRAH! We’ve finished the book and with it, the Shadows Trilogy. Now we need to get our covers updated (a friend offered a year ago and has very generously renewed that offer).

So now we have to choose new pix, fonts and all manner of other technical jibber jabber – plus fix a few errors in the layout of Yesterday’s Shadows and Dark Embrace. Also on the plus side, it means that now our lovely beta readers can have a go-through so we will have a finely polished story by the time you see it 🙂

Now our thoughts are turning to the next one – we already have a story outline and two scenes written; going on past experience, we will be publishing this around 2022…LOL.

Actually, to be fair, Dark Embrace practically wrote itself over a 6 week period and Out of the Shadows took 15 months while we also battled redundancies, moving house, job changes and a whole bunch of other real life – sometimes I’m amazed we actually found time to write at all (it’s because we’re amazing, yo!)! Here’s to a timeframe of closer to DE though which means we will have Book no. 4 (as yet untitled) out by the end of 2017.

We have three beta readers, but would love to have another one or two. We’re seeking feedback on how the story flows, whether the characters work for you and any continuity or grammar errors you may notice. If you think this sounds like you, leave a comment below! First in, best dressed!!

Why we’re not going to post a blog today!

Right, so we have finished the writing and are now busy chapterising and re-spell checking – for the millionth time; we never seem to get all the typos 😦

We mentioned a while back that our deadline was February so we could get our beta readers to review before we submitted out manuscript to the RWNZ Pacific Hearts competition which closes at the end of this month.

Sadly, we are a bit behind schedule so will just have to submit and hope for the best. Having said that, both Lisa and I have reread any number of times but being so close makes it easy to miss glaring gaps in continuity, spelling and general readability.

Hey ho, that’s the breaks though. Lisa’s job is going awesomely from the sounds of it but is very full on and I have deadlines which also coincide with our end of the month hard close for the competition.

Don’t you just hate it when work-life gets in the way of the fun stuff eh?

After that we have to look at revising the covers and republishing the lot as the complete trilogy; very exciting  but also hard work. Ideally, we would love to have a publishing fairy swoop down and take care of all that for us – a movie deal would be nice too  (just sayin’…)  – as neither of us has any marked passion for the whole marketing/sales stuff that goes with getting our books out to you lovely readers.

Anyway, that is why today’s post is not really a blog post but we will be back on board by April with fun and exciting thoughts to share!

Champers
This is what we’ll be doing once we’ve finished the damn book!!

Plus ca change…

As longtime readers will know, I left my job last year in search of greener pastures. After three months at home, I was lucky enough to be offered not one, but TWO great jobs, either of which I would have been happy to take. Which is a good position to be in. In keeping with my promise to myself to be brave in my decisions, I chose the role which scared me the most! We made a family management plan around childcare, and I happily accepted the role.

It’s week 2 at the new job, and frankly I’m not sure how I’ve managed to work full-time all these years!!! Having a few months off where I was available to do most pick ups, after school activities and during school activities, as well as all the various kids’ appointments, has made life very easy. I cooked regularly, grocery shopped often and the house was mostly tidy and the dishes done. How the mighty have fallen with the advent of full-time work!

I am blessed with a most excellent husband who has really picked up the slack in terms of cooking, kid wrangling and housework. Daughter #1 has stepped in and done a few school drop offs for me which makes life easier. I still feel as though we’re sprinting from pillar to post and I imagine it will take a few weeks to settle down. I seem to recall the start of the school year is always like this, and in fact the start of each term as activities change. This does bear out my feeling that as parents, we can have it all, but it’s bloody hard work!!!

Other changes with which I’m struggling include teaching Daughter #2 AND Son #2 to drive! They both got their learner licences on the same day. Awwwww. There has been no screaming and no near misses, and they’re both doing pretty well, but I’m unsure if I am ready to accept that they are old enough to be driving!

How am I finding the new job? I get in my car…just kidding! It’s great. It’s going to be a challenge, as it’s a good, meaty, senior role with lots of people related time and what seems like a big revenue target. They’ve made me very welcome, I like my car, and best of all, I have a 6-week induction! This means a week with each of my teams getting to know what they do, who they are, their daily achievements and their struggles. I can tell you that staples are the invention of the devil. Well, in terms of removing them to scan documents at least. Next week, I may be telling you about tape storage and the week after about boxes.

My only complaint? I need a pair of safety footwear to use when I am in the warehouses. I duly went out and found a pair I really liked, which were comfortable, and just a little stylish.

turquoise-boots
What I wanted…

Then I found out they had to be black.

what-i-got
What I got!

If all I have to complain about after a couple of weeks is that I couldn’t have turquoise work boots, then I think the job is going well. The home stuff will settle down as we accept our new ‘now’ and get reacquainted with the life we previously successfully managed. I am already getting much better at saying a firm “NO”, and although I miss doing good by helping out with deliveries at Eat My Lunch, I am excited about what the future holds.

Tell us about your juggle. Whether it’s doggie daycare pickups, trying to avoid 2-minute noodles for dinner three nights in a row or sending your kids to school with leftover birthday cake as an acceptable substitute for sandwiches (because you forgot to buy bread) we’d love to hear it!

Time for another teaser!

So it’s Thursday again….looking forward to the weekend even though the Auckland weather has reverted to true form after the (mostly) awesome weather over the last fortnight. Think that was summer, guys! I was out in the rain taking photographs for work and at midday it was FIFTEEN degrees…and did I mention it was wet???

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Anyway, rant about the weather over, we thought it must be time for another teaser from Jaime and Daniel’s story so without further ado, here you go:


“Last night. I thought we, you…I…” she trailed off, unsure of how to phrase her question before gathering her courage and starting once more. “You didn’t come to my room – you said it wasn’t the right time. What did you mean exactly? I know I’m not supposed to get involved with anyone right now but I got the feeling it wasn’t just that. Is there someone else?”

Daniel wouldn’t look at her, his eyes focusing only on the road ahead as he replied. “No, there’s no one else. Last night we both got a bit carried away, that’s all. And after last time I swore to myself I wouldn’t go there again.”

A bit carried away? The most mind-blowing kisses of her life? And hang on… “What do you mean, after last time? You swore you wouldn’t go where again?”

“Do you really want to have this conversation now?” Daniel’s hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly they were nearly cramping and he forced them to relax. Probably not the best time or place for this discussion but it would be good to get it off his chest. The memory of their encounter at the wedding those long months ago still made him burn with shame and to be honest with himself, was all that had stopped him last night.


And now a question for you, dear reader. Which characters from Yesterday’s Shadows or Dark Embrace would you like to see get their own story, and why?

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