Friday, November 26, 2010

Ngaio Marsh Best Crime Fiction Award

Here's a not so subtle reminder, if you're in Christchurch on Tuesday evening you must come along to the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel presentation evening.

Not only will you get to see moi in action, but also enjoy the charm and wit of fellow crime writers Neil Cross and Paul Cleave. I had the pleasure on being on a panel with both of these blokes in Wellington, and they are great - never shy to express an opinion and great fun. You also get the added bonus of seeing the presentation of the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Come along and support this new endeavour, that can only be a great thing for crime writing in New Zealand. A lot of hard work has gone into it from the brains and driving force behind it, Craig Sisterson (thanks Craig!) and his host of merry men, and women.

A reminder too of the finalists:

Containment by Vanda Symon
Burial by Neil Cross
Cut & Run by Alix Bosco

No doubt I'll be a nervous wreck, but when I'm nervous, I talk more!


Whodunnit and Whowunnit?
with the presentation of the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel
7:30pm, Tuesday 30 November 2010
Visions on Campus Restaurant, CPIT, 

cnr Madras St & Ferry Road, Christchurch
Drinks and nibbles from 7pm, author panel from 7:30pm
$10, includes a glass of wine and nibbles

Tickets from 03 3844721 or email

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And look what arrived in the mail...

It's a real book!

Proper, like, with pages, and stuff...gosh.

I only cried a little bit...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cover up

Here it is, the cover of my latest baby - Bound, due for release in February 2011.

I''m really pleased with it, as with a title like Bound there was the obvious cliched shot to avoid, but I think they've captured the mood nicely.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The interplay of hands and mind

Writing day in, day out is hard work. Some writers can do it, are disciplined to a fault, and front up at their computer every day, or at least Monday to Friday, sit down, and type out their target number of words before feeling, quite rightly so, virtuous, and like they've achieved something for the day.

I'm not quite that regimented. I aspire to be. I always have my daily target of 1000 words to write, and some days I'll do that easily, and some, and other days I'll struggle to write one sentence, or even one word!

I find that during these struggle times, where my mind won't cooperate, my hands take over - not typing words, but making things. For me there seems to be some connection to the creative process of physically crafting something, and the writing processes in my head. The last two weeks have not been a success as far as getting words on the page, which is a shame considering I was doing NaNoWriMo in principle, but I've made a lot of stuff!

The sewing machine has been running hot - I now have my Salle Angelo fencing club cloak made - in black wool and green lining, as well as quite a few more practical items, and it has been very satisfying.

It has also been very useful, because while my hands work on something tangible, my mind works on the intangibles that have been eluding me. So as well as having made a cloak, I have now worked out the psyche behind one of my main characters in my next novel, and with that now know what he needs to personally overcome to make things happen, and thus the time line of events.

So with lots of physical projects under my belt, I'm looking forward to fronting up to my desk tomorrow morning, with my requisite tea pot, milk jug and fine bone china cup, and setting my mind to producing words.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been reading the adventures of young Jim Hawkins aboard the Hispaniola, and on Treasure Island, to the boys at bedtime. It's the classic tale of pirates and buried treasure, with the terrifying Captain Flint, and the treacherous Long John Silver.

It was Long John Silver who gave me problems. I've mentioned a few times in the past how reading books aloud to the kids can be a pleasure, with words rolling off the tongue, as was the case with The Hobbit, by J.R.R.Tolkien, or a horror, as in Famous Five by Enid Blyton, where the words clomped and thudded and tripped me up. I hate to say it, but Treasure Island was another horror, in particular, any dialogue by Long John Silver. I just couldn't get his lingo, and in the end kind of prattled any old thing that got the general meaning across. I have read a number of blog posts about dialect in dialogue, or accents or colloquial language, and how it can be a double edged sword, well, in this case, it was the death of me. Can't say I enjoyed it. I don't think they did either.

So far we're loving the first few chapters of the next book on the bedtime story list - Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief, by Rick Riordan. This one rolls off the tongue beautifully, and is providing lots of laugh out loud moments for the little fellas, which is music to a mum's ears.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crime Noir

I love libraries, and the things you can discover while roaming the shelves. While helping the kids find Peanuts cartoon books, I stumbled across this little number in the cartoons/ comics section:

Drawing Crime Noir for Comics and Graphic Novels by Christoper Hart.

What a fun book! Let's face it, I'm never going to have the time to draw a graphic novel, although I do the odd sketch, but I had a great time reading through this, admiring the art and enjoying the entertaining text.

The introduction describes the Crime Noir comic book style as... 'This genre focuses on the slick, rainswept streets of the city, shadowy figures, heartless women, men without conscience, reluctant heroes, and boulevards of fear. It's the desperation of ordinary men, and the loneliness of the action hero.'

It's all about the mood, atmosphere and style. So I loved that the captions comparing traditional and noir drawings describing noir men with a 'predatory' tilt to the head, or women with 'kiss me before you die' lips.

You don't mess with a noir woman, as the chapter headed 'Goodbye, Johnny Boy' states. 'Breaking up is hard to do. A bullet is one way to end things. It's messy, but at least it prevents all that 'it's not you, it's me' crap. Plus, now she can get into his computer files and steal the password to his Swiss bank account. And that's a nice salve for a broken heart.'


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old age and treachery...

Gawd life has been busy - I haven't blogged because I've barely got near my computer. I've managed a few emails and that's it. It wasn't helped by our home network going phut. Anyway, I am here, just to say I won't be here for a few days, well won't be here in cyberspace. I'll be in Dunedin competing in the National Fencing Championships. Yep, I'm going to get out there among the shiny young things and do my thing - epee on Saturday, foil on Sunday and teams competition on Monday. I'm hoping what they say is true, that old age and treachery will overcome youth and exuberance!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finally, a date...

...for the announcement of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel:

Whodunnit and Whowunnit?
with the presentation of the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel
7:30pm, Tuesday 30 November 2010
Visions on Campus Restaurant, CPIT, cnr Madras St & Ferry Road, Christchurch
Drinks and nibbles from 7pm, author panel from 7:30pm
$10, includes a glass of wine and nibbles

Now all I have to figure out is what to wear!

But definitely not a beret and pearls - it would take a special kind of a gal to carry that off!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm back...

...and you didn't even know I'd gone. And what have I been up to? Three days away as School Camp Mummy to 27 eight to ten-year-olds. (I know some of you are cringing at the thought of it) I had a brilliant time, but man, it's taken me all day today to recover. That age group aren't the best at settling to sleep when they're away from home and enjoying the company of a dorm room of mates - enough said!

Mr Eight-Year-Old's favourite activity was abseiling, my favourite activity was taking the kids bush to do survival skills and bivouac building.

I came back home to a zillion emails, including some important things I'll update tomorrow. But for now, I desperately need some sleep!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Useful things...

I had the pleasure of going to talk to the Aoraki Polytechnic Creative Writing class last week. Tutor Diane Brown invites me along each year to have a chat to each class, and one of the things I do is take along a pile of books I find helpful for my writing. So I thought I'd share them with you too. So in no particular order:

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King.

Let's face it, editing can be tiresome, but it is the one thing we do as writers that can make a huge difference to the readability of our manuscript, and the chances of getting published. This was the first book I brought on editing, and I found it immensely useful. In my first manuscript draft it helped my to reduce the -ly adverbs, and to get rid of the dreaded ingly!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

A friend recommended this book, and thank heavens. It came at a time when my head was full of self-destructive chatter and self doubt, and Anne Lamott made me realise, well actually, most of us suffer from this, and how to calm the hyperactive head, get the self doubt into some kind of order, and just crack on with it.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kitely.

This was a book I picked up at the University Book Shop, and I was drawn to the title because I am often up at 3 A.M. and the thought of some kind of epiphany was most welcome. The book is subtitled 'Uncommon writing exercises that transform your fiction' and it is chocka with all sorts of interesting things. I have never actually sat down with a pen and done one of the writing exercises, but I look at them, and they stimulate my thoughts and have lead me to think of scenes and situations in a different way.

Writing Mysteries. Edited by Sue Grafton with Jan Burke and Barry Zeman.

The reason I use this book as a particular example is that I own a number of books on writing mysteries and crime writing, but the ones I love the most are books like this that have a chapter or subject done by a different writer. In this one there are contributions by the likes of Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, The Kellermans and Sara Paretsky. So I find it fascinating and useful to have a well established and highly esteemed crime writers view on a particular subject. Also, to be brutally honest, sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat, and these books, with a different voice each chapter keep me interested.

The other thing I do like, particularly in this day and age of digital this and on-line that is a good, huge old fashioned thesaurus. I can waste hours happily looking at synonyms, and I'm the kind of person who likes to flick pages and see things in proper print. My Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus is my friend.

So there you go - hope it's useful