Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Value of Friends....especially writing friends

I once read this definition of a friend:   A friend is a person who you can ring at 3am and ask them to come and they will arrive without stopping to ask why.

I've often thought of that and it's sobering to realise that among our myriad of aquaintances most of us have only a very select few who meet that criteria.

On the same theme someone wrote in my autograph book many moons ago....and doesn't admitting I own an autograph book age me??
True friends are like diamonds precious and rare
False friends are like autumn leaves found everywhere.

I found this despressingly true until I joined the fraternity of writers...and found a whole slew of like minded people... The romance writing fraternity is made up of warm uplifting and the most helpful people I've ever met.

They are swift to praise... swift to commiserate when you have a rejection... eager to offer helpful advice  on writing matters... they enjoy sharing hard gleaned information...and they rejoice over anyone's recognition or achievements in the "dog eat dog" world of publishing.

Where else in this world is there such a total lack of professional jealousy?

I venture to suggest that it would be nigh on impossible to find another such organisation anywhere. This is reinforced at every conference where Internationally famous authors share their expertise with other writers.

Where else but at a Romance writer's conference would you find the Nalini Singhs and Stephanie Laurens, the Robyn Donalds and Daphne Clairs mingling and willingly sharing their helpful knowledge with raw new writers who have just picked up a pen?    

Sure as writers we each have a personal journey to take, we each have to put in the hard yards... we have to sit at our keyboards day after day and actually put words onto blank pages...create characters who live and breathe who cry and laugh... but behind it all is the wonderful warmth of fellow writers... the support network we can tap into at the end of an email.

I find it incredibly precious... and like nothing else I've ever experienced.       

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Romance Novels in the modern world

The more I see of world news the faster I reach for a good uplifting romance novel.

After the recent devastation in Christchurch we are again seeing the appalling destruction wreaked by mother nature in Japan. That this time the devastation is on the other side of the world makes it no less terrifying.  And reinforces how very fragile is the link between life and death.

It reinforces how closely humans lives are interconnected in this global world. There is no time lapse to blunt these catastrophic events. We witness the  earthquake and resulting tsunami as it is happens.
In ages past happenings on the other side of the world didn't reach our shores until the arrival of the next ship from the Northern hemisphere. With the advent of Radio such news as the outbreak of war, the death of a sovereign was reported in good time with the printing of the next newspaper.

Now, modern communication mean such tragedies as the Japan Earthquake, Colonel Gaddaffi murdering his countrymen to retain a grip on power, wars in other countries are viewed in all their gripping immediacy as they happen.

And, as individuals, such happenings only serve to emphasise our powerlessness. Who can reason with Mother Nature or a tyrannical despot or brainwashed terrorists?
With the instant viewing of such horror is it any wonder romance novels and other escapist genres are in such high demand.  They are the antidote to the horror of our everyday lives.

The human mind can only cope with so much trauma.

I know without a good book I could never cope with our modern day realities and I suspect there are many other people like me.

Long live Romance.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Heros to die for....I love cowboys

There's an old saying.....you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl.

If ever there was a truism....that has to be it.

I was born and bred in rural New Zealand. I've always considered we had an idyllic childhood...we may not have had much money but we were clothed, fed and loved. I greatly admire both of my parents...sadly now long deceased. They gave us something that looking back I now realise was beyond price....they gave us freedom....freedom to roam over thousands of acres...to explore.

And explore we did. We'd pack a lunch....me being the youngest girl and eager to go with the big ones this was usually my task....and away we'd go. We swam in the creek, we built dams and huts out of ponga ferns.

We climbed the hills that hemmed in our valley and looked out over the vast reaches of the Hauraki gulf.
We looked out for each other and the little ones...we knew it was more than our lives were worth to let anything bad happen to youngsters in our care.

Only once did we allow sister no 3 to pack our lunch. She decided that she was on a diet and packed us half a sandwich each! Ye Gods it was a starving bunch of urchins who trooped into the kitchen late that day.    

We learned so much in those wonderful carefree barefoot summers. Caring. Consideration. Companionship. And the bonds formed between us siblings then is still strong and steadfast to this day. 

What you ask has this to do with cowboys. Everything.

Whenever I want a hero it's always the strong hardworking man of the land who springs to mind. The cowboy is the quintessential rural man.  Maybe the NZ model is different to the traditional cowboy of the American West.

But at heart they are men a very similar breed. Hardworking, honest and above all protective.  And every hero I create possesses something of my original hero.

My Dad.

His ideals, his example is as dear to me now as it has always been.
His motto: "If it isn't right, don't do it. If it isn't true, don't say it. If it isn't yours, don't take it."

I love and miss you,  Dad. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Week On..... The Christchurch Earthquake

Writing has been impossible this past week.

The scenes of devastation and the loss of life are appalling. Like all New Zealanders where ever we are at home or abroad share the same sense of helplessness.

What can we do...just donating money seems such a puerile gesture and yet donating is the most practical way we can help. Christchurch certainly can't cope with the influx of every NZer arriving to help.

Yesterday the nation paused for two minutes to honour the dead and the rescue workers. In our small town of Katikati that time was surreal. SH2 was closed because a petrol tanker had overturned. There was little traffic and cars pulled over. The town crier tolled the bell. The hush that descended was broken only by the mournful tolling of the bell.

It was a town united. Shop and bank doors closed and shoppers and shop workers alike took the time to remember...and in my case be very very grateful it wasn't our town devastated by an earthquake.

The Bay of Plenty has had many grim experiences with earthquakes in the past. The most recent the devastating Edgecumbe quake of 1986.

And I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that there but for the Grace of God go I.

All New Zealanders live with the risk of earthquake or volcanic eruption. It is a risk that balances the enjoyment of living in our green and pleasant land.

But when an earthquake strikes knowing the risk does little to lessen the impact.

Kia kaha Christchurch