NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month

Not content with a full-time job each, getting fit (fitter in Caro’s case) and wrangling the beasties, this year we decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. This is a non-profit dedicated to helping people finish the damn book by setting an arbitrary word count of…50,000 words to be written in November. This, in essence, is a short novel.

We’ve been tossing around an idea for a fourth book in our Shadows universe. We have characters, a moveable story arc and some great ideas, but have been struggling to settle on the way the story would go. We thought NaNoWriMo would be a great way to get a huge chunk of the book done.

And then we started trying to firm up our plot. Nothing. Nada. Niet. Couldn’t agree. Couldn’t decide. No inspiration.

So, instead of continuing down that weary track, we’ve started a whole new book. In a whole new genre. Yep, that long-awaited young adult urban fantasy novel is coming to life. We’re not quite keeping up with the word count (we’re at 4,500 words on day 7 and should be about 9,500) but that’s because we’ve had to work out a story, characters and so on!!

On the plus side, we’re both quite inspired so the ideas are flowing and whilst getting fitter by walking, we’re discussing plot and characters. Our inspiration is a Norwegian fairy tale mixed in with the technological advances of virtual and augmented reality. Stick with us for regular updates!

If you’d like to know more about the madness of NaNoWriMo, click here.

East of the sun
Picture credit: Kay Nielsen



and… TADA! We have published and yes, probably damned…

OOS CaptureWe are very excited to announce that the wait is over…. you can find and read ‘Out of the Shadows’ – the third and final instalment of The Shadows trilogy.

You know you want to, go on click on the link below – I dare ya 🙂

Buy “Out of the Shadows” now!

And don’t forget to get in your competition entry to win a boxed set of the print versions of The Shadows Trilogy. We will be picking a winner any day now!

Wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…

We can see you trembling with anticipa…………………..tion!

We’re excited to announce that we’re about to publish the third book in our Shadows Trilogy. It’s been a long haul, but we’ve had a couple of beta readers cast their eyes over it, and we’re just about at the point where we’re going to launch the e-book online. Watch this space for details but it’ll be in the next week or so!!

Even more excitingly, we’re going to print a limited run of PAPER copies of all three books to celebrate the conclusion of the trilogy. We are trying to come up with competition ideas for one lucky winner to receive a box set (although there is no box…) of the completed trilogy but so far have fallen a wee bit short of suitable inspiration 😦 So the best we can do is…comment on this post or on our Facebook post or on our LinkedIn post with the reason you should be the “lucky” winner!!

All entries to be in by October 20th. We will choose the one we like the best. All bribes accepted and consumed but they may not give you a better chance of winning!

In other writing news, now that we have three books under our collective belt, we’ve decided to go wild and crazy and participate in National Novel Writing Month in November. The idea with this is to write 50,000 words or most of a novel in November along with a community of other writers worldwide.

We’d like to crack on with our fourth book and this will give us a great start on getting the story together. We’ve had lots of discussion about our characters, plot and so on, and this one may be just a little different to the others. We’re starting to feel the shape of our characters, and an idea of the plot, which is exciting!

So, get your entries in – why do you deserve a boxed set of the Shadows Trilogy? We look forward to hearing!

We are not in a slump!

Well, sadly life has got in the way of our creative juices recently…21sts, school balls, the fabulous Hudson and Halls show (playing at Q Theatre) AND after coming second to last for weeks if not months…not to mention last once… we finally won pub trivia at The Malt in Greenhithe last night – $75 bar tab so we were pretty stoked 🙂 they do the best chips in Auckland too so worth the drive…

I think also there has been a wee bit of laurel sitting although I think we have been quite justified in sitting back for a bit and relishing the completion of our third book in the Shadows Trilogy.

But now it’s time to get back to work so we are discussing our next steps. We mentioned in a previous post that our lovely beta readers have been hard at work. We now have an updated draft for revision and are waiting with bated breath to see what our new covers might look like. Lisa tells me I’m not allowed to talk about book four so all I’ll say is that we have an outline – which may or not change – we are flexible and our characters tend to do their own thing anyway, despite what we might plan for them ;-P

So no more about that until we’ve got the trilogy knocked off…

Our publisher (aka the long-suffering Stephen) has also been resting on his laurels, so watch this space for how and where we’re going to re-publish our books. Of course the dream still lingers that a la Fifty Shades some publisher will swoop us up and offer us squillions for our efforts…

But in the meantime, in the unforgettable words of Hudson and Halls, “up yer bum, CHEERS!”


PS Happy World Chocolate Day! We’re currently eating Milky Bar, yum!

World Choc Day

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!