Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TV star in the making

Tomorrow I am going to make my television debut at approximately 4.30pm on Canterbury Live on CTV.

Oh yeah, I'm awesome.

I'm also a nervous wreck who is not planning on getting very much sleep tonight. Instead I'm going to try to decide which is worse, making a complete dick of myself and never being invited back, or not making a complete dick of myself and leaving open the chance I might have to go through all of this again.

My stomach is in knots at the moment. I downloaded today's episode to reassure myself that although it's television, local TV won't be nearly as bad as national TV. After all, it's got that relaxed Canterbury vibe going.

That didn't work. My adrenalin decided that it may as well start making itself useful as soon as the first guest appeared. I understand the logic. It's like going out and doing some jogging before heading off to a marathon.

It doesn't matter that none of the guests died, or that no one looked particularly worried - apart from the moment when a picture frame crashed down behind the presenter. My nervous system (or extremely nervous system) has decided that the worst possible thing I could ever do is get in front of a camera.

Oh, and did I mention it's live television?

Yep. That's right. No dress rehearsal, no second chances, no time delay even. Oh God. What if I accidentally swear? What if I'm the reason that CTV gets its license revoked? There I'll be, chatting away thinking I'm doing fine, and instead everyone's wild hand movements won't be because I'm wonderful and they're impressed - it'll be BECAUSE I'M SWEARING ON LIVE TV BEFORE THE WATERSHED!

How long now? Nineteen hours and six minutes to go. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Breathe Katherine, breathe. Just think - this time tomorrow it will all be behind you no matter what happens.

That, or you'll be dead.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

HAPIness with HAPIfork

In order to make my first day back at work less grim, I had the forethought to order a nice gift to welcome me back to the office. As an added benefit this morning I was so caught up with unhappiness that my holiday was over, that I forgot completely and therefore it was like a surprise gift.

A surprise gift that had been thoughtfully pre-opened by customs to make sure there weren't any nasties hiding in it.

I unwrapped and slit open, and pulled out, and slit, pulled, opened, untwisted, pulled, and I had a HAPIfork in my hot little hand.

For those of you who don't know, a HAPIfork is a wonderful invention that electrocutes you when you eat too fast. Think of me as one of Pavlov's dogs, and electrocution as a bell, and I'm salivating already!

Here is a picture...

I picked green because... nature?

I'm so looking forward to lunch tomorrow. I couldn't use it today until I took it home and loaded up stuff on my computer and charged up my fork, but tomorrow...

Bite. Ouch. Bite. OUCH. Bite. OUCH!!!

Oh the fun will be endless.

I want my hour back. #DaylightSavings

My holiday comes to a screeching halt today. I've been living a blissful life for the past two weeks. Doing nothing except the stuff that I felt like doing, and only then when I wanted to.

But tonight I'm going to go to bed in holiday-land, and wake up tomorrow in the real world. I'm not looking forward to the transition.

This is all terrible news to me. I've been trying to adjust myself, but honestly I'm on holiday so I'm not trying anything very hard. But yesterday I got some bad news. Daylight savings.

You mean I lose a full hour - on the last day of my holiday?

It may make a difference to some people. Maybe someone out there gets some sort of joy out of having an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning. But not me. I appreciate an hour of sunlight before I get to work as much as I like an hour after. Maybe more. My body may get up inconveniently in the middle of the night, but my brain is pretty much non-functional until I put a few rays of sun on it. A back-to-front vampire student.

Now I'm trying to pretend that I'm starting to feel sleepy at a time that last week would've been five-thirty. If we were normal people that would be a time we'd start to consider eating tea. As it is we do that closer to three o'clock because we're old before our time, but still. You want me to go to sleep in half an hour? Good luck with that!

If I were to take the place of Pollyanna right now I could say that since I wouldn't enjoy today much anyway it's lucky that this is the day that only lasts 23 hours.

But I'm not and I won't.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

New Cover and Nothing Else

Nothing has happened, and I'm going to bed.

Since you don't get a blog today, you can admire my rejigged Kindle cover for Found, Near Water which I've reworked with thanks to the good people at Canva.com

Ohhhh, isn't it pretty?

Sometime in the next 24-72+ hours it should also go live on Amazon, although it is already available in the download and look inside versions. If you don't believe me you can buy a copy, download it, and see!


Friday, 26 September 2014

#ammarketing aka Playing with #Facebook

Since signing up with Facebook in 2010 I have not utilised this website much. I "friended" someone once to look at her wedding photos, and I "friended" someone else last year to follow their travels around the world because they're terrible at emails (at remembering to send them not the content.)

That was the full extent of my escapades. I heard people talking about it, but whatever. I don't have friends so I don't need to keep in touch. Facebook was for other people.

And then I became a self-published author and discovered that apparently Facebook was meant for me.

I dipped my toe in. I created a "Page" (which is somehow separate from yet part of my overall account?) and I added a few bits and bobs to it. Then it all looked too hard so I deleted it again a half-hour later. It was so confusing that when Facebook asked me if I was sure I wanted to delete the page I didn't know. I had to try it twice before I clicked Confirm.

So I went about my daily life thinking, everyone else has a Facebook page, I don't want a Facebook page, I should have a Facebook page, I don't understand a Facebook page.

It's nice to have a personal chant going on back there. Soothing.

But when I went on holiday I thought, now's the time. I should try again. I'm not the kind of girl to let technology beat me. I bought and sold my (first) Google Glass before most of New Zealand even figured out how to buy them.

Of course the real issue isn't that Facebook is technology - that's just part of its disguise. The real problem is the social in social media. That's like people. And as mentioned above I don't have any friends. Something genetic to do with lacking any empathy or interest in other humans. I have my darling at home and my work-wife in the office, and a bunch of people that I trade sarcasm with (at least I think I'm trading - I've never stuck round long enough after my comments to find out for sure) and that's enough for me.

First I filled out a bunch of information. Tick, tick, tick. No I'm not putting my address details in! Are you crazy? I don't know who all is on the Internet but judging from forums at least half of them are Hitler.

Then I had to design my page. I had to POST something. It was like a postcard but you had to design the picture and not get too specific 'cause it's not going to someone you know.

And then... relax. Just sit back because now people are going to visit your page and Like you. Just to get them started Facebook prompted me to Like my own page.

I felt a bit like Carrie voting for herself at the Prom, but I followed orders because if I didn't maybe something social would break.

It only took a week for a random to like me - thus doubling the popularity of my Author Page.

Looking at the results from this I determined that social media wasn't going to do me any good at all at this rate. Surely the point was to inform people about myself and my work. Informing two people - one of them myself - about these things seemed like a slight waste of time. Delete page?

Nope - I went for Door Number Two. Advertise. On Facebook. Yeah baby, I'm in the big leagues now.

This has opened up a whole new world to me. Now, instead of writing or reading or thinking of random places to take photographs of my book or drawing (book covers okay, not just for enjoyment because I'm not into that any longer) I can instead sit in front of my computer clicking refresh. Occasionally I redesign the ad by changing a word or two, or uploading a new picture, or selecting a different age range and country of people to display my ad to.

Yip. It's a sweet life. If you'd like to contribute to the cause please feel free to click the Like button below. After all, I like you.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Liquid Diets and #weightloss

While I was on holiday this year (oh, were you on holiday kathay? Why yes, thanks for asking, I was) I attempted a new take on dieting. Previously my motto has been to restrict myself for a few days until my willpower goes, and then binge. Instead, I thought this time I'd stick mainly to a liquid diet in order to keep myself nice and trim.

The liquid I chose (not the demon drink - I'm in recovery you know) was ice-cream.

I'm aware that this seems to be solid in appearance but since it melts as soon as it hits the warmth of your mouth-cave I thought it definitely qualified. Besides, it may be made of fat and sugar, but how heavy is the average ice-cream? You'll actually have to insert the weight here because I've never held one in my hand without being eaten for long enough to weigh. But you get my point, right? They're not heavy.

Unlike me.

I thought that my consumption during the long hot holiday was looking something like this...

Turns out it looks more like this...

And with the amount of insect bites I have on my lower legs I'm left wondering this...

And you know what I'm going to be like on Monday?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Goodbye b**ches

The time is nearly upon me. Sorrow fills my heart and unnecessarily wakes me up at five to one in the morning. My last full day at Mission Beach is nearly at an end, and tomorrow I must drive for two hours and fly for seven and a half hours with a two hour stopover in order to return to Christchurch.

Oh well. All good things must come to an end. Perhaps there'll be a beautiful frost on Thursday morning to bring a smile to my face, and chillblains to my feet.


Goodbye beautiful beaches xoxoxo

Goodbye beautiful rain forest xoxoxo

Goodbye beach seen through rain forest xoxoxo

Goodbye pool - you've served me well xoxoxo

Goodbye... whatever you are xoxoxo

Goodbye, my love, goodbye.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Oh, the pain. The pain.

I stubbed my toe this morning on the side of the lounger. For long moments my entire body tensed; I gripped the side of the chair tight and concentrated very hard on not yelling loud swear-words in consideration of the family next door with three little children.

The pain was all-consuming. When I looked down to check that my toe was still in some form of relationship with the remainder of my foot, the visual appearance of injury was under-whelming. It was a touch red.

When I was finally able to speak (other than suppressed swears) I looked up to see my darling waiting to find out what was wrong with his eyebrows raised.

This isn't from callousness, more's the pity. No - it's from routine. I have managed to injure myself at least once, and often several times per day since arriving in Australia. It's not the venomous snakes or indecently large spiders - no. It's some sort of inbuilt clumsiness that has decided to kick into high gear to help celebrate my time off.

I have stubbed my toe, twisted my ankle, managed to get a stick embedded in my heel, and this morning I gouged a new slit in the tip of my nose with my thumbnail while putting on a top.

Don't ask.

My darling has given up yelling in panic, 'What's wrong? What's wrong?' Now he just waits calmly for me to inform him, or makes a casual guess. 'Toe?' I nod. He nods back in sympathy. 'Looks like it hurts.'

Son of a b**** that's an understatement. I hope when I return to New Zealand my co-ordination returns. My guess is that the excessively high temperatures and long hours of sunshine have somehow thrown off my brain chemistry and resulted in this spate of injury.

If it's not, then farewell my friends. I'll be lucky to last out the year.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Starting to get that sad feeling...

Today I looked out over the view out of our balcony...

... and I started to get that sad feeling. That feeling that says 'You remember how when you went out to the airport you thought your holiday would last forever, well I've got news for you!'

I've pushed it away before today; laughed in its face and counted down exactly how many days I had left here. Many, many, many, many, many days stretched out in front of me. Now I have Monday and Tuesday... and sort-of Wednesday if you count the drive out to Cairns which I do (no I don't) and then it's all over.

'You're going to have to go back to your day job,' my mind teases me. 'You're going to have to fit into your uniform.'

It's a statement to my fit and relaxed mental health that the second phrase has me closer to tears than the first. Oh well, maybe I can get away with wearing my own clothes for a week or two while I downsize (or order new uniform.)

Still, tomorrow's Monday and I'll still be here. I'll deal with Wednesday later. And next Monday - I might be dead by then!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Today I worked out my major plot sticking point. #amwriting #amawesome

Today instead of actual writing I thought about writing. Thought hard. There was a big gap between the middle of my story and the end of my story. I knew there were things she should be doing, and things that had to happen, and things that had to be revealed, but no real idea of how those things were going to transfer from vague ideas in my head onto the page.

But now I've cracked it.

Coincidentally I've also decided that it's just as important to take long walks on the beach as it is to do actual writing. They obviously help. And since I'm soon coming back to Christchurch where walking on the beach is inconvenient and cold, I should make the most of the beach that I currently have.

I may have sorted out my storyline, but I'm obviously not going to get much time to actually write for the rest of my holiday. Not now I have a task-list.

Until I fly back on Wednesday feel free to interpret #amwriting as #ambeachwalking - in my mind they're now the same thing.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The gasman rules

Halfway through my darling cooking his breakfast he came out to join me on the balcony with a forlorn look on his face. 'The gas is gone,' he announced, and stared down into his half-way to boiling water. 'I can't cook my egg.'

I walked him back into the kitchen and performed an inspection myself. In my defence this wasn't automatic disbelief, it was based on the memory of our first day here where my darling decided his failure to light the stove was proof positive that it didn't work. It was proof positive of something, but as I managed to have it lit and running a minute later it wasn't of the stove being broken.

But this time it turned out he was correct. I recovered from my shock, and tried to work out what to do.

'I know where the gas tanks are,' he announced, and led me downstairs to the cupboard with the hot water cylinder in it. I let him go back to his half-breakfast (at least the toaster doesn't require gas to cook) while I decided to mount a full inspection of the property.

I've just realised that the title of this blog could be taken the wrong way. Especially if I'm referring to eggs in the first sentence. I'm too lazy to go back and change it now though, this piece is half-written and if I change the title then this whole paragraph will have to go. That means the already-typed-but-then-deleted word count would be added onto the word count for my novel, but I've already spent the time writing it out. Just a moment…


There, that should do the trick. Now readers will refer to the blog title, find the possibility of a double entendre, then their eyes will be drawn to the capital letters above, and they'll be reassured that it doesn't exist. Problem solved, now where were we…

Right. I walked around the entire property. I thought they might be located in the shed next to the garage, but aside from the ventilation fans for the air-conditioning there was only a few lawn chairs. I thought they might be beside the pool, or under the cushion on top of the built in cabinet that was three meters by two metres – solely for the reason that I didn't know what was in it. That lid was heavy. But I proved that they were not located there and that was the main thing.

Next I tried around the side where there was a hose and a short clothing line. There turned out to be a hose, and a short clothing line.

So I wandered back to my starting point and tried again. Shed – no. Pool – no. Clothing line – no. Shed – no. Wait a minute.

There is a large group of trees and bushes next to the fence-line on the right-hand side of the property. For some landscaping-type reason (maybe a drunk landscaper for example) they're grown in stones. Sharp red stones.

I did not have shoes on. I was so confident that they would be located in the obvious place for them to be – the shed – that I hadn't worried about putting on shoes. Or even shoe-like things such as jandals. Bare feet. That's what I had on.

Those stones were sharp. They were sharp when I stepped on them. They were sharp when I stood in confused silence on them. They were sharp when I finally figured out the complicated structure of the gas tanks and that in order to get gas flowing again I needed to turn a switch so it was pointing at the second tank and walked back to the driveway.

But at least I was victorious!

I returned to the kitchen and tested the stove. There was the lovely sweet smell of gas, the lovely buzz of it emerging from the burners, and the lovely woomph as the flame caught hold.

The gasman rules.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Why do I need to eat so much when I do nothing?

Today I woke up at midnight. That's 2.00am by Christchurch standards, so not quite as bad as it may sound, but still midnight by Mission Beach standards so bad enough.

I tried very hard to sleep. Very hard indeed. Unfortunately sleep appears to be one of those things which requires effortlessness to work. Like dance moves. Concentrating, screwing my eyelids shut, and trying really hard did not do a jot of good. When my darling started to exercise his nostrils in his nightly snore, I decided that for me it was now morning.

Welcome World.

It is pitch black in Far North Queensland when it is night-time. I shouldn't complain because there is beautiful sun all day long (at least the last couple of days) but when the light goes out – it goes out. Ten minutes of sunset if you're lucky, and then pitch until 5.45am when the sun rises in equal time. That's a lot better than the other end.

So I sat in the dark (with the light on – if you want to cut down on the melodrama) and typed away at my computer attempting to make sense of information that just requires a few more hours sleep to make sense of. In other words, I stared blankly at the screen for three and a half hours, and then went back to bed.

My darling did briefly wake up when I did so, but then he fell back asleep to taunt me with how easy it was. He also began to snore again to ram my feeble attempts home.

I have been very restrained since being on holiday, I haven't kicked him once, and I was good once again. I calmly waited with my eyes closed tight until he woke naturally a couple of hours later and then I finally managed to fall back to sleep.

When I woke the second time the sun was full in the sky, and the wind was non-existent; the glorious beginning of our finest day yet (if you believe in judging days by hotness and availability of swimming pools which I do.) But with my broken sleep I couldn't be bothered to do anything.

Luckily it's holiday time, so that doesn't actually put much of a cramp on my style. I did coax myself into a nice walk along the beach, I did get my 10,000 steps by mid-morning, and I did have a couple of lengths of the very short pool, but aside from that the only time I left the house was to walk to lunch, and then walk back replete.

And this is the thing I want to know. Using Mission Beach time I woke up at 2.00am and ate breakfast within the hour. I then had a mid-morning snack at 5.00am shortly after which I decided that I could definitely sleep now, and returned to bed. When I woke up at 8.30am I was starving again, so I ate a second breakfast. I then needed a snack for morning tea, and when we went to lunch at midday and it took more than half an hour to receive our order (of pizza and sliders – health conscious to the last) I felt like chewing my arm off to stop my stomach grumbling.

I had a milkshake with ice-cream at mid-afternoon, and then ate another couple of magnums to round off the meal. That would usually be the last time I ate for the day, as we're going to bed on the dot of 7.00pm because we can't keep our eyes open, but tonight I was once again starving after an hour and so ate some cereal and some salami. And no that's not as bad as it sounds.

So what I'd like to know is how on earth is my central digestive system getting these messages to pig on out on food. Yes, I am walking about a little bit more, but seriously? Three extra meals more? There is just no way. I'd also like to go off on a small tangential rant about why Australia seems to have missed out on the Sugar-Free revolution but I'll put that aside for the moment because it's currently 13 minutes past my bedtime and I can't think straight.

I can always go to bed tonight thinking that perhaps tomorrow I'll wake up not wanting to eat the house of its food, and the world of its ice-creams, but I've thought that before.

I no longer believe it's going to happen.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Oh the burn, the burn

I have been experiencing beautiful sunshine the last two days at Mission Beach. (oh yes, I'm on holiday – did I not mention that?) The first couple of days there were numerous overcast periods (really putting the rain back into rain-forest) although the bright yellow disc has been making an experience for a few hours here and there nevertheless. But yesterday and today there was sun from the moment we got up (after waiting for four hours for it to rise due to some inability of Australia to keep to NZ time) until the moment we go to bed (making the assumption that the next hour or two will continue to be glorious.)

However, I've discovered the drawback that I discover each year due to my reckless disregard for learning lessons from history. The warm glow I had after my swim and consequential lie in the sun to dry my swimsuit (because I'm all into solar power at the moment) has subsequently turned into a burny red glow. Ah yes. Hello sunburn my old friend, it's not good to meet with you again.

So with the temperature edging up around 29 degrees outside I have now stupidly added a few more degrees virtue of my skin.

It will teach me to be more careful with the sunscreen over the next couple of days, but I do wonder if there's something in the back of my mind screaming out "But it looks so awesome when you get a tan. Just a little one. Just this once!"

And it's true that a tan – a real one not an orange one thanks – does still look pretty damn awesome. Especially when you spend most of the year pale blue where the only tinge of colour comes from occasional bursts of high blood pressure. I just need to keep in mind that my tan won't look so awesome when grotesque moles and melanomas start popping up all over it.

Example of Grotesque Mole

Actually - that doesn't look too bad. Hmmmmmm.

(ps if you're a burglar and you know where I live I can assure you I'm most definitely NOT on holiday. Nope. I'm sitting in my lounge right now. With a knife. In the dark. Waiting for you. Well, do you feel lucky punk?)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

#amwriting about a Cassowary at Mission Beach (a real one not the statue)

Today I saw a real cassowary. In the flesh. And feathers. And the funny knobby thing on top of its head so it won't knock itself out if it runs straight into a tree at speed.

We came to an intersection after going on a trip to the Supermarket (I know, I know - our holidays are packed full of super-exciting stuff) and we wondered what the hell the dicks in the blue car were up to as they were sitting in the middle of their lane about twenty metres away from the intersection. It's not like we're in Italy where that sort of parking is acceptable.

What they turned out to be doing was watching a cassowary. They drove off and we subsequently pulled to a stop so we could have our own moment to act like Italians while tracing the journey of an almost mythical creature (by FNQ standards.)

Here it is...

And yes I do realise I have terrible photo skills thank you very much for asking. I was just lucky to have my phone on me at all because in holiday mode I forget that I have it, and even if I have it I've also often forgotten that it also needs to be charged occasionally. I'm on a break from Farm Heroes too.

We came over to Cairns and Mission Beach for seven years before we saw our first cassowary, and now we've seen two in two years. Or one twice. I'm not familiar enough with the birds, and have no photographic record of the first (see I told you I was lucky to have my phone) so I can't compare.

Splendid days! Now I just need to see a few kangaroos and we'll be set for our annual zoological target.

(and that stuff about Italian parking is not like racist or stereotyping you know. That's based on keen observation from the viewpoint of a tourist bus over an extended seven day period. Over twelve years ago. I'm pretty sure it's still accurate. Quite sure. A bit sure?)

Monday, 15 September 2014

New website (partially) can be found on kathay1973.com

Taking a break from long walks on the beach, investigating randomly shaped pieces of driftwood that look rude if you pretend you're a three-year old and eating, I actually produced something of value today.

First up, a logo, because something something brand something blah blah need one.

Just wait till I get that plastered on a t-shirt! Or a business-card. Or something else printable and stuff. I quite like the idea of wandering around the office with my own brand emblazoned across my fabulous chest. I hope I have the choice of princess-cut to hide my equally fabulous ice-cream filled belly.

My website is not quite finished. There's a page missing, now what was it? That's right - the homepage. But there's a blog with one post on it (because I haven't got around to sending the others yet) and a reviews page with one review (because I haven't got around to sending the others yet.)

But you can still see all the ideas and thought that's gone into it, in one morning. Yeah, alright, there may be a few changes coming in the next couple of weeks. But still - website, domain name, social media stuff - I might even confuse myself for a business if I'm not careful. Yeah, write that one off against the profit column Doris. What do you mean what profit column? Are you having a laugh? Oh, I see. We are far from breaking even let alone...

I have a new website!!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Airports are stupid

There are many things that are annoying and uncomfortable about airports. Signs that point you in the direction you want to go until you think you're close and then dry up and leave you having to retrace your steps to try again. A plethora of clothing stores which I don't need, and a complete lack of comfy seating, which I do.

Even if you're lucky enough to be on one of the sacred flights that leave on time you still have to set aside a good chunk of your day just to spend time in these infernal hells.

I have Koru club membership, so I keep thinking this gets me out of the majority of the inconveniences that befall most travellers. I keep thinking that. I've yet to see any real proof. There's a lot of nice food and drink freely available, but if you're travelling at a popular time of the day, say between 6.00am and 9.00pm for example, then you have to trawl around the entire lounge to try to locate two seats together. They won't be in the area you want to sit - for some reason children accumulate around the areas we usually sit - but you put up with it because you've already put in a couple thousand steps, and you didn't have breakfast because you were going to the Koru lounge so you knew you'd be able to pick it up for free.

Free. Freely available. I've obviously used these words as synonyms. Synonyms for very expensive food and drink that you would have to work far harder at consuming to get anywhere near to the amount you spent on obtaining them. Payment made in advance against goods and services that you didn't even know if you'd ever be able to collect. So, nice food and drink that's costly available.

And having Koru lounge membership doesn't stop you from coming into close contact with all the other horrors that the airport has in store. Eight minutes' walk. That's how far away our gate was from the main terminal. Eight minutes. We set out thinking that the airport would have catered for all people in that calculation. It would have to take into account the little old folk and the tiny wee toddlers and the obese middle-aged. Yeah, we'd be able to knock this one off in four minutes, maybe three. Maybe five minutes if we ambled.

Well, we didn't amble and guess how long it took us? Give up yet. In that case I'll tell you then.

Eight minutes.

The eight-minute walk took eight minutes to walk. I was horrified. I don't know how the little old folk were doing. Certainly far too many toddlers made the long walk in time. Something about me not factoring in that they wouldn't be travelling by themselves and therefore might be carried part of the way. I wish I'd been carried half of they way.

We then got to experience the lovely plastic seating in a variety of one style that was available at the gate. I say at the gate, not at our gate, because it wasn't. Our gate ran out of seating before a tenth of a plane-full of people showed up. But at least we didn't have to sit on the ground. You may say the people who sat on the ground didn't need to sit on the ground either, they could have stood on the legs they were born with unless they're Oscar Pistorius. You may say that - I couldn't possibly comment.

Finally we were in the third wave of people to be called to board - or last as we called it - and we made the long walk down the airbridge to the plane. It was a dual airbridge, because the Gate had a (L)eft side and a (R)ight side. There was a glass and plastic barrier up to waist height to stop us accidentally going to Niue.

That would have been fine. A high glass and plastic barrier is enough of a sign to me that I shouldn't cross the centre line. I try to follow the straight and narrow line.

So why in their infinite wisdom did the airport decide to put tempting signs all the way along the barrier extolling the horrors of breaking the implicit rule and jumping over the barrier? Did you really think that Katherine was going to jump over the barrier. At waist height. At her (non) fitness level?

Well Katherine didn't think of jumping over the barrier. Not till the airport decided to pop into her mind that this option was possible BECAUSE OTHERWISE THEY WOULDN'T NEED SIGNS TO TELL YOU NOT TO DO IT!

Auckland airport if you DON'T want Katherine to jump the barrier, you don't tell Katherine NOT to jump the barrier. Katherine is tired and susceptible and the last thing that Katherine needs put in her head when she's been waiting in a plastic crowded hell for three hours after already having flown for an hour and twenty minutes after waiting for ninety minutes at a different airport is ideas about how barriers are made for jumping.

And then you further tempted Katherine. By placing not ONE sign - putting the idea into her head - but a second sign. Now Katherine thinks there must really be something good in this barrier jumping otherwise they wouldn't go to so much trouble to try to ensure that I don't do it.

And then just before Katherine has to commit to the plane, what do you do? Just before Katherine has to board the plane that's going to make her legs swell up and her eyeballs lose the ability to focus and her ears to bubble and squeal and pop and her head to bang like a (insert simile for headache here please - I'm too tired to think of my own [and make it clever guys - put the effort in - don't just bang in drum 'cause I could've done that for goodness sake.]) Just before Katherine has to spend an exceptionally painful and ache-inducing five hours and forty minutes trapped in a metal tube in the sky, what do you do?


Katherine was forced to seriously consider going to Niue. Katherine got so far as to put her hands on the top of the barrier and try to lift herself in the air to see if it would hold Katherine's weight if she decided to vault over it like she'd never thought of doing until someone decided to repeat over and over that she could.

Luckily Katherine loves the thought of Mission Beach more than she loves the thought of Niue or the Auckland Airport Police Station. She loves Mission Beach even more than she loves talking about herself in the third person.

So Katherine I kept on my side of the barrier and made it onto my plane. There was horrible things after that which have undermined my ability to think about going to New York at this time next year, but such is the nature of pain that I'll hopefully have forgotten that in two months' time let alone twelve months.

And we landed and got off in heaven so it just sounds like whining now. And I've even got it off my chest now. Onwards and upwards.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

#amwriting on Holiday

I have made it to the beautiful mission beach. Finally. Here's the view from the lounge out over the balcony.

To those of you from Christchurch the yellow glow reflecting off the sand is called the sun, and it's causing a rather lovely 28 degree temperature at the moment.

Well, as my mother always used to say, you shouldn't waste a gorgeous day by sitting inside. Even when you're meant to be working.

See you tomorrow for a real post. For now, just send me your envy to bask in.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Titles and Time-off

A very exciting day yesterday. After using a couple of working titles that didn't feel at all right for two months, I've finally hit upon a new title that I think fits my new book (okay draft) perfectly.

The most exciting news of all is that now I have a title I also have the perfect idea for a book cover, and therefore have permission to take a break from writing for the next day or so (or week) while I design the perfect book cover. Because it's no use writing all those words unless someone wants to pick it up (physically or digitally.)

I love full-on proper excuses to stop writing. Guilt-free opt-outs. Reasons that are vitally important for the future security of the writing itself. And I love book covers. They may not be appealing to the general readership at large - but I love my designs, and right now I'm the only person that counts as far as this one is concerned.

So I'm off to pick up my figurative tools and slap on a bit of pixelated paint. Wish me luck.

Tonight I #amwriting not #amblogging

Catch up with you tomorrow with wonderful stories of my genuinely dull day enlivened only by the adventures of my make-believe characters on my real-life laptop.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Crime Writer Banned From Social Media

My darling strolled across my author's page the other day - it's only been in existence for two months so it's a relatively quick find for him - and was appalled to see that I interact with other humans beings on what he insists on calling the inter-web or the face-net.

There were exclamations of horror at the list of tweets on my page. Why are there hardly any words? What does it do? But what's it for? And just when it seemed like his disbelief had peaked he discovered my blog feed.

But this isn't about anything. Why are you writing it? Who's reading it? Is this a My-Space thing?

Bless his little heart, he got all worked up about it. I tried to reassure him that the general world population was almost completely uninterested in anything I was putting on the Internet (forever!) so it didn't matter if I put a few opinions and observances online, but the upshot is that I'm banned.

No more twitter. No more blogger. No more.

Once my hilarity subsided I pointed out that I pay for our internet and phone connection so if he liked I could continue to do that and he could continue to not have an opinion that anyone in the household was going to listen to. We've agreed to forge ahead on that basis.

Oh, and I assured him I would never write a blog post about this.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Milestones (and missed deadlines)

40,000 words reached this morning so I'm somewhere between half-way and two-thirds of the way through my first draft. A wonderful milestone to reach - or at least it'll do until I reach the actual milestone I should be at now which is a fully completed first draft. A deadline already well postponed from the original one at the end of July, and possibly pushing back publications date to next year unless I get my skates on.

Never mind. As Douglas Adam's used to say 'I love deadlines - I love the wooshing noise they make as they go by.'

At least my teenage character is starting to behave herself, and is even showing up places and participating in scene's in a way I'm envisaging beforehand. Is it her, or is it me? Maybe it's both of us? (it's her)

At this rate I may be able to spend more time reading than writing on holiday. That would be a fine treat! My to-read pile continues to grow, though since moving to Kindle it's far easier for it to get out of hand because you don't have to move the furniture to encompass it. Still, it's also easier to give one up and just hit the delete button - not nearly as guilt and failure inducing as lugging a pile of half-read books to the local school for a fundraiser. And not nearly as hard as forcing yourself through something you don't want to read just because you bought the damn thing and it's sitting on the floor recriminating you every time you step over it.

But, onto better and brighter thoughts. Monday over - only four days to go before FREEDOM FOREVER!!! For a fortnight. Then BACK TO WORK!!!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Countdown to holiday

Well, I've spent most of the day charging up every single electronic device that I possess in anticipation of our holiday which begins next Saturday. I've a cute USB station shaped like a robot, and his little arms and legs were all filled up with plugs all morning. As soon as one charged up I swapped it out for another.

I've also dug out the pretty pale blue instant camera that I bought last year on a whim, and last used on our holiday a year ago. Still, I hold out hope that it'll come in handy. After all, it's possible that my phone may run out of battery at just the wrong time to take a much better photo with more detail, more realistic colours, and the ability to transmit anywhere around the world at a moment's notice. Or, I may decide that it's far easier to carry around a large, heavy, poor-at-taking-photos-but-amusing-at-spitting-them-out camera. Especially as we're expecting the weather to be around 28 degrees each day (for those of you on Fahrenheit rest assured that's a lovely hot temperature.)

My bags are packed up with all my summer clothing. It's a very easy thing to be packed up as I wouldn't dream of wearing any summer clothing at the moment for fear that my fingers and toes would go blue. Or unless I piled a decent layer of winter woolies over top and cranked up the heat-pump.

Now there's just the last-day items to remember.
1) Clean underwear, freshly laundered on the night before we go.
2) Personal items that will be used up until the last minute and then tossed in the bag such as hair-brush, fudge (for hair - not eating), toothbrush, and razor.
3) Phone, Kindle, Laptop - into my bag as the taxi pulls up at the door at the ungodly hour of 4.15am (my oversize handbag that is - I need something to do on the flight)

I feel a tiny bit aggrieved that tomorrow I still have to go to work, and will continue to have to for the entire working week, but I imagine that feeling will pass.

By Friday afternoon I reckon. Bon Voyage.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Amazon... why do you hate me so?

My last review disappeared off Amazon earlier this week. Poof! Gone forever. I'm trying very, very hard not to take it personally, but it's quite hard to when it seems so... so... so... personal?

My darling, my one true love, my partner and soul-mate read my book when the proofs first arrived. I might hasten to add that neither of us really believed he would finish it, and I had long ago given up the idea that he would even start. My darling's taste runs to more of a military bent, and even that can't be tainted with things such as emotions from people involved in the operation of military equipment, or - god forbid - tales of their families. He and Jane's Information Group get on very well indeed.

The last novel he tried to read was Insomnia by Stephen King. He'd enjoyed a few Stephen King books up to that point - the ones with more realistic settings and fewer monsters. He didn't finish this one though. And he never tried again. So from 1994 onwards he has been fiction-free.

He finished it in three days and was quite pleased with himself and with me. When he said how much he liked it, I said "well why don't you review it then" which he did.

Amazon approved his review, and then took it down overnight.

So, no family members allowed then. Odd, since I am self-published so it might well be expected that for a while the only people I will realistically be able to sell to are family, friends and co-workers.

Onto the friends then!

A friend's review went up. Perfect. It stayed up for about three weeks, and then it disappeared off the face of the earth.

"But you can always get them to re-post it," I can hear you say, because I often carry on full-length conversations with a variety of different people that I've never met in my head (it's how I win arguments you know) so I'll tell you what I've already told the inside-my-head you. NO YOU CAN'T.

It's hard slog to get someone who'll say something nice about your book to your face to actually type that same something up and put it on a website. That's five, maybe ten minutes out of their lives that they're not getting back, and they are quite happy to let you know it.

So my darling popped his up again and this time it stuck. One day, two days. I got used to seeing it there whenever I clicked on my book to see what it looked like (something that I either pridefully or paranoically do every day at least once.)

And then another friend was cajoled into buying my book on Kindle.

(as a short aside I'd like to reassure you that these aren't the full extent of my sales BTW. I may be a debut self-published novelist which I realise makes me less in the publishing world than the dirt sticking to the chewing gum on the underside of your shoe but I do have some manipulation sales skills)

He read it in less than a day and came over to tell me how wonderful it was. I agreed wholeheartedly with him, and then mentioned how reviewers get into heaven before nuns even. When he agreed he would indeed like to do that I nearly wept with joy. Two reviews. Two. On Amazon. It was going to be a thing of beauty. Knowing how promises fade with the walk out of our front door I even set him up on my computer, logged myself out of Amazon and let him log in, while I tried to stab clickers in the neck with hand-made shivs in the other room.

The review never made it.

Amazon sent him a lovely email saying they wouldn't post the review, so he popped it onto Goodreads instead. Not only did Amazon not accept his review, they seemed to notice once again that my darling had reviewed my book and took that review down as well.


So now I have a lovely link saying 'Be the first customer...' and a lot of sadness in my little author heart.

Why, Amazon. Why? Surely you could just let them put up their three puny reviews? Is it really so horribly misleading that people I know buy my book and like it? Shouldn't they have the same opportunity to hold an opinion as the one offered to people who don't know me? (I realise that I'm making the presumption here that Amazon is not just callously taking down US and UK reviews as well for my book - but I don't have proof of that, and now I'm starting to wonder...)

If you would like to see some reviews, from people who both do and don't know me, then feel free to avail yourself of the following links:
Barnes and Noble
Google Books

Those sites love me Amazon - why don't you?

Friday, 5 September 2014

Advance voting

This week I got the chance to experience advance voting for the first time. We're going away on holiday next week so we'll miss all the fun of voting day. Hopefully we can still stream a bit of the election night fun over in Aussie.

We tried to find out what we'd need to take to the voting booth. Our plane tickets? Our passports? Maybe we'd have to sign some sort of statutory declaration to affirm that we were indeed going to be unable to make it to a voting booth on the actual election day?

Turns out no.

We did need to repeat our names a couple of times to the sole electoral employee manning the booth, and he did have to mark next to our names to make sure that we didn't vote again, but that was it. Two ticks behind the counter and we're done.

No queues. No waiting. No verification. I'm keeping this in mind for the next election.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Earthquakes and Anniversaries

Today is the 4th anniversary of the Christchurch Earthquake. Not the one that closed down the Boxing Day sales. Not the one that caused mass chaos, closed the central city, rerouted 2/3 of the traffic flow, spilled 400,000 tonnes of liquifaction silt onto the cities lawns, footpaths and roads, and brought a terrible and undeserved end to 185 vibrant lives. Not the one that brought a miserable mid-winter to a populace already shaken to the edge of their tether. Not the one that came as an early Christmas present just when everyone hoped it all may be settling down again, but the one that started it all.

The one that triggered not only the events above, but also the other 13,000+ aftershocks that have rattled our small city to its bones. Aftershocks like the magnitude 2.1 earthquake at a depth of 6km that we had this morning at 4.15am. 13,000+ plus one.

On Saturday, 4th September 2010, I woke up around three-thirty in the morning. I routinely swing between bouts of insomnia that keep me awake until the wee hours of the morning, and insomnia that plunges me into a deep sleep as soon as I fall into bed but wake me in the wee hours of the morning. I was in the latter stage at the time. I am again today, which probably means its a seasonal thing or something. Whatever.

I was knitting, my hobby at the time, and watching the penultimate episode of The Tudors season one. When the earthquake hit, the whole house started juddering. I waited for it to pass. We live on the pacific ring of fire, a huge fault-line run diagonally through our entire island. We're used to having an earthquake large enough to feel every year or two. Still, at least our South Island volcanoes are extinct - not like the North Island. At least, we've been led to believe that. Experts can be wrong too, you know.

I waited for about twenty seconds by my internal count - or two seconds in official clock-time - and then realised that this one wasn't going away. In fact, it seemed to be gathering momentum in an unsettling way.

I leapt off the couch and ran for the nearest doorway - advice drilled into me as a child which "they've" changed their minds about now as I found out later. I had to pull the door open as I'd closed it so I wouldn't disturb my partner. In case he was missing the fun I yelled "Earthquake!" at the top of my lungs. A cry which he didn't hear over the roar of the earthquake.

I lodged myself with my back jammed against the doorframe where the door joined, and my arms braced against the doorframe where the door wasn't. And I mean lodged. My back held the impression for a good half-hour afterwards.

Above I've referred to the roar of the earthquake. I should probably mention here that I didn't have any experience of sound during this period of time. I know that the earthquake was loud because I didn't hear the brick chimney fall onto the concrete driveway just over the road. I know it was loud because I didn't hear books popping off the shelves in the spare bedroom - 2kg books not paperbacks. I know it was loud because I didn't hear an entire bookshelf collapse in the front room, falling onto my spare wardrobe and disintegrating both structures.

My memory of the earthquake is characterised by these dichotomies. On one hand there are entire senses that are missing. On the other this is the strongest memory I have. There's an instant transportation when I think of it, something my other strong memories don't have.

Even the memory of watching the hearse carrying my mother's coffin away from the church and with it the final realisation that I was never going to see one of the people I loved most in the world ever again - a memory that's making me cry right now as I type - doesn't have the instant attachment of emotion that this one does.

Maybe deep sorrow doesn't flood through the human body as fluidly as instinctive fear.

As the earthquake started to ease the "STOP stop STOP stop STOP stop" that was beating time to my pulse also let up. I looked to my left. Nothing in the kitchen had fallen. It was over.

And then the whole house lifted up and was shaken - hard - back and forth, back and forth. The cupboard doors all swung open, slammed shut, swung open, slammed shut. I tried to wedge myself in harder and instead almost lost my footing altogether. There weren't any words left in my head, just wide-eyed terror.

The lights went out. It was pitch dark. My eyes wouldn't adjust.

Back and forth, back and forth. My fingernails dug into the wood of the frame. At some point I knocked my head so hard that an egg rose up on the back in the hour that followed.

One more jolt probably would've tossed the crockery out onto the floor. The plates had rocked out two inches over the edge. The glasses would've fallen, but the front ones were out on the bench from where they'd been used the night before.

And then it started to ease again. And finally rocked to a stop. A second before the final shake the lights flickered and came back on, whatever connection had been knocked out was knocked back in. They went out again with the first aftershock and stayed out, but for a few minutes we had light.

For months we told our stories of what happened. Where we were, what damage our houses suffered, what fell down, what bubbled up. There was the one in Kaiapoi whose house was a wreck, the one in New Brighton who had to shovel a driveway back into their property, the one who hadn't even woken up and had to have a knock at the door and a talking to when a worried friend got sick of no response to their phonecalls and paid a home visit.

We told our stories compulsively while the aftershocks worsened our house damage day by day, and our office tried not to take it personally when it felt like the whole of Christchurch hated us because of our profession. We banded together into the had-been-there hadn't-been-there groups. We tried to find out who was worse off than us, who was better off than us. We tried to turn it into the event that happened in 2010, to let it go and let it be gone.

The realisation that the Earthquake had no intention of going was slow-dawning at first. It wasn't until February stirred everything up again - except 185 times worse - that I understood that we'd all been incredibly lucky (for unlucky people), and I also began to comprehend that this was a long way from over.

So it's four years down the track. Our central city is still in the process of being turned into flatlands. Things open up every day - new homes, new shops, weird and odd little attractions that turn despair into opportunity. It's still projected to be another two to three years away from completion, but the progress is now visible everywhere. Roads are under true reconstruction instead of the slap of tar and crossed fingers that happened initially (so we could all at least have roads to travel on.)

And every time a large truck goes by and the house shakes; every time a train passes by our building and the meeting room vibrates; every time there's a noise I can't immediately identify - even for a split second - my brain screams "Earthquake!" My fingernails dig in. And I brace.

Lets hope four years from now I just think, "Oh - a train."

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Doing stuff twice

Technology is wonderful, but not in the hands of people who don't know how to use it, or when it pits itself against you.

This morning I spent a nice time sorting through a report, counting columns, ticking boxes, trying to get scope on a project. Lovely, dovely. The numbers weren't adding up to me - the percentage of one package to another was all out of whack - so I tried to find an example of where the report could be wrong by trying to find an un-uploadable risk on a farmpack. Needles and haystacks spring to mind. Or, more accurately, one oddly shaped needle in a giant needle-stack.

After a half-hour I gave it up in lieu of complaining loudly and insincerely to colleagues. Whatever. I'd look at it later.

Ten minutes later as it turned out when an email from the originator of the report came through to say that it was wrong, but a new one was attached, and hopefully I hadn't spent too much time on it.

So I started again. Joy. This is why I come in early after all.

Later on, I was creating a new page on our website. Lovely stuff. Pictures, titles, icons, lists, questionnaires, more pictures. Half an hour of work I spent molding it gently to my liking. Adding and moving and typing and trying to find tiny little errors in large screeds of html to shape it into a work of art. A work of art that experienced a fatal error and reset to the title only.

Never mind. I'll start again. That's why I stay late after all.

Where'd my life go?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Shooting in Ashburton

I think the worst thing in the world is to leave for work one morning, and never return home again. Because someone else made the decision that you would die.

Yesterday, there were six Work and Income New Zealand employees who turned up to work for Monday - already the worst day of the working week - and only three returned home. One is in hospital, the other two deceased.

A gunman opened fire in the morning, systematically shooting targets in the small office. Except they weren't targets, they were people. And their co-workers and clients had to run for their lives; running away with legs that probably felt like they were moving through concrete. Running while waiting to see if they would feel a bullet in their backs, hoping they wouldn't. Terrified.

The man got tired of shooting people and left the office to make his get-away. His bike was chained up to a post at the corner of the street. Because that's what you do, isn't it? This man is armed with a sawn-off shotgun, he's about to go into an office with the intention of shooting people to death, but he chained up his bike. Because it might get stolen.

In the getaway he left his bike helmet lying on the street.

It's awful. It's unexpected, but at the same time it's always expected.

I work in insurance and we're security aware, but I've still lived with the thought in the back of my head for the past four years that there are a lot of frustrated people, and a lot of desperate people, and a lot of angry people, and that one day this might be happening in my office to my co-workers, to me.

It's happened previously to government workers, to bank tellers, to office workers. And one day it may happen again.

The worst thing in the world. To leave for work one morning, and never return home again.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Happy first day of Spring

Der spring is sprung
Der grass is riz
I wonder where dem boidies is?
Der little boids is on der wing, Ain't dat absoid?
Der little wings is on de boid!

Ahhhh Spring. Unless you're living in the wrong half of the world you'll currently be joining me in the relieved celebration of the end of winter, and the promise of a hot (maybe) summer.

The nights are getting shorter; the days longer; the morning frosts are easing; the afternoon sun has a bit of warmth.

What a beautiful time of year. Most of our daffys are out, and the fruit trees are starting to bloom. My berries are starting to show the first sprouting of life, and it's nearly time to turn the front garden and pop in a few seed potatoes to be ready for Christmas dinner.