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!!
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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.

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What I wanted…

Then I found out they had to be black.

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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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Progress and Deadlines

Well, despite life continually getting in the way of writing, we have made good progress in the last couple of weeks.

On reviewing our story arc, we have identified five more scenes remaining to be filled in the last gaps of Jaime and Daniel’s story. Of course, we could keep writing forever but we need to get onto the next book.

So when we’ve completed those gaps we need to do the chapter breaks, yet another spell check and then get the drafts out to our beta readers by the 20th February. Why 20th Feb you ask? Well, because…LISA STARTS HER NEW JOB!

It’s an amazing opportunity and I know she will be awesome but it does mean her days will be back to being even more chokka than they are atm (and as you know, that’s pretty busy!).

 

The other cool news is that once we have the feedback from our kind (but always brutally honest) beta readers, our next move is to enter Out of the Shadows into the Romance Writers of NZ Pacific Hearts competition (31 March).  Once that is done we can sit on our laurels with fingers crossed for a bit before we crack on with the next story which is already buzzing in our heads and becoming more insistent as we dally over Jaime and Daniel.

Here’s a wee teaser: who knew a little place like Fisherman’s Creek could harbour such a dark secret in its past?

What deadlines are you working to, and what progress have you made? Do you work better with a fixed timeframe?

 

Book review: Just for Now by Rosalind James

book-reviewCaro came across these books in one of the Amazon Kindle sales and picked it up to try out because it was set in New Zealand. Of course we’re quite keen on reading other romance novels by both New Zealand authors and authors from around the world setting their books in New Zealand.

Caro enjoyed the book. It was a tidy little romance with engaging characters and a nice happy ending. The author had done her research well and evoked a sense of New Zealand. She’d worked really hard on getting the patois right, even including a glossary of terms at the conclusion of the book to help out non-Kiwis. More about that later.

The main character, like the author, is an American, which helps to smooth any linguistic and cultural bumps and Caro really appreciated the effort that had been gone to. This was no Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game or Anthony Hopkins in the World’s Fastest Indian. Only a Kiwi would pick up that Ms James wasn’t a Kiwi!

Ms James also had a few notes about Maori pronunciation which were pretty good. Caro and I have just had a discussion about some words as she has learnt Ngai Tahu (aka Kai Tahu) dialect and being brought up on the East Coast, I am firmly Ngati Porou. Also as we both live in Auckland, we’re exposed to Ngati Whatua. So we could come up with three different versions of the same word or phrase. Given that, we think Ms James was on the money.

We liked the recipes section at the back of the book, although they were missing such Kiwi classics as the pavlova, although again the cook was an American.

Reading through the glossary provided us with lots of room for discussion. Some of the terms were spot on and phrases that we use every day (even though a lot of people look at us like we’re bonkers and ask for explanations!). Here are a few of our favourites:

  • berko – berserk (only I use this one, normally prefaced by “crazy ape”
  • boofhead – a foolish person. We used to use this an awful lot, complete with accompanying hand gestures!!
  • chokka – full
  • flattie – a flatmate. I use this all the time, in fact have a friend who I only call Flattie (and he calls me Flattie) but Caro says she’s never used it!
  • gutted – we do like this, although I am very amused by the teenagers who frequently misspell it as “guttered”
  • kiwifruit  – “The fruit. Never simply called a kiwi.” Big props to Ms James for this one, as it’s only overseas that it’s called a kiwi. To us, if you say you’re eating a kiwi, we think of the brown flightless bird and are frankly horrified!
  • littlies – the kids. We do use this.
  • mad as a meat axe – we both use this often, but we may be in the minority.
  • oldies (wrinklies) – we use wrinklies
  • rattle your dags – Caro uses this, but agrees it’s old fashioned
  • shonky – a shady person – we would use in terms of an object which is a bit broken or a bit off
  • sparrow’s fart – crack of dawn
  • stroppy – prickly, taking offence easily
  • this arvo – this afternoon. We both use this all the time

But there were a few which gave us a good giggle, or caused us to raise an eyebrow and ask “have you ever heard that?”

  • ambo – Australian for ambulance
  • bull’s roar – close e.g. they never came within a bull’s roar of winning. We like this one, but have never heard it before.
  • come a greaser – have a bad fall. Neither of us had heard this – we’d tend to say “came a cropper”.
  • cossie – swimming costume, but it’s Australian. We say togs!
  • flat to the boards – in our minds, usually accompanied by “like a lizard drinking” and more Australian
  • on the front foot – we’re inclined to say on the back foot rather than this
  • out on the razzle – we never use this
  • SAFA – South Africa abbrev. We’ve never heard this.
  • speedo – direct quote “Not the swimsuit! Speedometer. (the swimsuit is called a budgie-smuggler)”. Ms James is correct re speedo, but we don’t often refer to small fitted men’s togs as budgie smugglers. However, this did bring to mind a rather amusing guide to the difference between togs and undies.
  • stonkered – drunk, but we’ve never used this

One glaring omission from the glossary of this book – there was no JAFA (Just Another F***ing Aucklander). To be fair, it tends to be those living south of the Bombay Hills who refer to Aucklanders as JAFAs, but Caro is proud to be a JAFA!

Just a note here that although NZ is small, there are regional differences for example, “wee” or “crib” in Southland and Otago. It may be that wherever Ms James was based, she heard the phrases used whereas we don’t consider them common. We should also note that there were rugby terms in the glossary which Caro denied all knowledge of!!!  We should also note that all the reo was correct, so big props again!

All in all, we’d recommend this book, and the series. In fact, I am off to download them right now. Any romance novels about rugby will get my vote! You can find out more about Rosalind James at her website, on Twitter @rosalindjames5 or Facebook (we especially like the video of Tutira mai nga iwi on this page)  rosalindjamesbooks.

What are you reading right now, and why do you like it? Share in the comments below!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all. The holidays seem a very long time ago to Caro who is hard at work already and for whom the family fun has faded into the long-distant mists of memory…I’m (Lisa) still searching for a new job, but in the immortal words of the wise Pie Man, it would be a shame not to enjoy this time, so I am!

Holidays for Caro involved a huge family get-together down country, with rivers, toasted marshmallows, cricket in the sheep paddock, bonfires, dogs and of course, food – they even ate Jerome (a very tasty piece of beef). As an added bonus for the city folk, the cow had a calf (Vinnie, named after Vinegar Hill which they’d visited that day). For me, there was a week of bliss on Waiheke Island, with lots of walking and swimming – even if there was a nasty south-westerly and the water wasn’t exactly warm!

We also achieved significant progress on the book! We have a March 1st deadline, which is when the Romance Writers of NZ Pacific Hearts Award competition opens. Caroline did an on-screen edit with lots of great changes and then we printed it out for me to go through again. I made a few more tweaks, found some consistency errors and together we highlighted our gaps, which means we are working much better to a plan, which is probably quite important when there are two of you writing.

So, in the next six weeks, we need to finish the damn book, have a couple of beta readers check it out and then call in a couple of editors we know to get it ship-shape before the competition closes. We both work very well under pressure and to tight deadlines, so that will really help. Hopefully, I will have a job soon too, just to make life interesting!!!

How did you spend your holidays? What were the highlights for you? We’d love to hear from you!

 

How to fill the hours

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Lisa writes: as some of you know, I am between jobs at the moment.* You might think that would be quite nice coming in to summer, giving me plenty of time to do things around the house, volunteer work, exercise, write the book, cook gourmet dinners every night and binge watch Offspring and Gilmore Girls while eating delicious bon bons.

Sadly, no. Looking for a job is taking up a good chunk of each day, and is my first priority as it should be. I am enjoying the quiet and all the time to myself, as you would expect from an introvert. But actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not cut out to work from home. I quite like seeing the people each day, even though I need my recharge time. Despite the busy-ness of my days, time seems to hang oddly heavily.

Here’s how I spend my days:

2-3 hours looking for jobs. This means checking all my searches, seeing if there is anything remotely suitable, then spending some time on the company website to see if I like the look of the place. If I do, then I try and find someone to speak to, in hopes that my CV will attract their attention when they remember my name. Once I’ve done that, I redo my cover letter and fill in the online application form. This last can take up to an hour if it is a complex one. So in my 2-3 hours, I may actually have applied for one job.

1-2 hours dropping children off and picking them up. Having a stay-at-home parent has been a real boon for my non-driving teenagers!

Two or three mornings a week I am a volunteer driver for Eat My Lunch, delivering lunches to schools in the Mt Roskill or Mangere areas. That eats up a couple of hours and it is nice to see people and talk to them. The best thing about it is that I am giving something back and that makes me feel good!

Then there’s all the normal chores – cooking, washing, tidying (if there’s any day left over). I’m managing to swim 2-3 times a week and last week cycled into school to pick the boys up and we all cycled home (a round trip of about 10km for me) so I guess I’m managing the exercise portion.

Is the house tidy? No more than normal, although I now have a list and am tackling one small chore a day.

There is dinner on the table every night, but having had nearly a year where I was only responsible for dinner 3 nights a week, it’s a bit of a mental exercise. I hear some of you saying “menu plan” but I just cannot be doing with that!

Despite not doing very much and getting lots of sleep, I feel tired all the time. Everything is an effort. I find it hard to sell myself to prospective employers and it requires a significant amount of emotional energy. I’m very thankful that I’m resilient enough to take the constant rejection (with the exception of a couple of bad days) based on my own perception that I’m awesome!!!

writers-blockAll of this is a long way of leading into the next question – have I done any writing? Well, no. I have managed to review the first couple of chapters (note that Caro is working full time and managed to complete the whole thing!!!). We’ve reached that point in the process where we are bogged down, hence the review as that should get us moving again. So given that we’ve done nothing new, we’ll leave you with a little snippet to whet your appetite for the new book! This is very early on in Jaime and Daniel’s story.

…She had stared at all the men present; looked them up and down very subtly but in a very experienced way, then dismissed them. She had lingered longest on him – probably because he was nearly drooling! But those glances, combined with what he knew about her and what she looked like spelled only one word for him – trouble with a capital T. He made a mental note to stay well away from her.

Several hours later, Daniel was reminding himself again of this as he pressed Jaime up against the outside wall of the reception hall and dipped his head for another mind drugging kiss. His hands were full of her extremely shapely rear, and her killer body was plastered to his like a wet shirt. She pulled back for a short moment, laughed breathlessly up at him and said “My room or yours?”…

*If you know of anyone who would like a customer services team lead, coach, training specialist or social media content  writer, do let me know! Available for an immediate start!