How do you view a life?

My Dad never wanted to climb mountains or hop on an airplane and travel far from home. He never needed a lot of people around him or to do something risky just for the hell of it. While he enjoyed a glass of wine or a gin and tonic, he didn’t need to go out with his mates to drink.

For Dad, home truly was the place of his heart. He was happiest in his own chair with a pile of newspapers and periodicals, the container he’d made to hold his remotes on the coffee table beside him, the TV tuned into a news or documentary channel. He loved watching anything to do with world history, evolution and new developments in the fields of science, technology and medicine.

Dad could fix anything. We rarely needed to buy new because we could always call on him to fix our vehicles, our washing machines and stoves and you could rely on him to have a spare toaster or jug on standby. He came when we called. He was there when we needed him.

I think my mother would have loved to have climbed a mountain or two! She would like to have galloped a white horse bareback along a windy beach or through a dappled forest. I think she would have been in her element riding with a convoy of travelers or a troupe of circus performers.

But she slotted herself into a different kind of life, a conventional life where she cooked and cleaned and gardened and worked at various jobs that didn’t take her attention too much away from her home and family. But how she cooked! How she cleaned! How she gardened! And whatever work she undertook she did it to perfection.

If you were ill there was nowhere more comforting to be than around Mum. There’d be a breakfast tray with matching china. A perfectly cooked boiled egg, toast cut into fingers, pats of butter and marmalade in a crystal dish.

My Mum and Dad were never awarded any honors, they didn’t win notoriety for adventures good or bad. Sure I’m biased, but I view their lives as exceptionally worthwhile. What do you think?

Is Winter the Season of Romance?

Does winter speak romance to you? Does it lighten your heart when the day begins with a sparkling frost under sharp blue skies and ends with a zillion stars studding an inky night? I love those brisk, invigorating days.

And I’m usually ready for winter, looking forward to evenings by the fire, cuddling up under a blanket on the sofa with a pile of to-be-reads waiting on the bedside or coffee table. I love it the first time I shrug into a warm coat and tug on a pair of boots, the first time I make a big pot of soup laden with vegetables and some good chicken or beef bones.

There were a few things different about this winter though, and maybe that’s why I’ve found the months between May and September (just a few days away!) have dragged. We moved house just before Christmas last year and our new home doesn’t have a fireplace. It’s a small home and very easy to keep warm with electric heating but I do miss the coziness of a wood fire. Although gathering firewood and dragging it upstairs in all weathers is a chore I don’t miss at all.

And yikes-despite tugging hard, I couldn’t zip my long boots over my calves! As everyone knows, it’s much easier to put weight on in winter than take it off so my chances of getting into a pair of long boots were way slimmer than my pre-winter calves. And so it’s proved. I had to buy a new pair of ankle boots and if I’m not careful a winter of meaty soup and chunky bread will fatten up my ankles as well.

But I think winter can be very romantic. Closing the curtains against the rest of the world, snuggling under the covers, sipping a mellow red (pinot noir for me!), lazing on a sheepskin rug. What do you think?

NZ Romance Writers Conference 2017

I’m still reeling after attending the awesome RWNZ 2017 conference where I had the great privilege of sharing time with aspiring, emerging and best-selling authors.  Listening to industry professionals like Sue Grimshaw from Harper Collins, authors Kylie Scott and Christie Craig, and social media guru Kristen Lamb was truly inspirational.

Warm and down-to-earth, Christie had us all in fits of laughter one moment and in tears the next.  Kristen Lamb is a dynamo! She’s such an expert in her field and I came away quietly confident about strengthening my social media techniques. Kristen broke it all down. While I wouldn’t say it’s easy, it’s nowhere near as complicated or confusing as I had frightened myself into thinking.

Sharing time with like-minded people is inspirational in itself. We believe in love and romance, we love to learn, and we work hard to hone our craft. While we’re individuals with interests in all sub-genre of romance and sometimes different genre altogether, one of the writers I got to know said she’d found her ‘tribe’. I thought that was a wonderful way to express our unity as a group.

The venue at the Novotel near the shore of Lake Rotorua was perfect. After all, Rotorua is the  home of the legendary lovers Hinemoa and Tutanekai. Set in the centre of Lake Rotorua is Mokoia Island, Hinemoa’s destination when she made her epic swim to join her  lover despite her family’s unyielding opposition. In Rotorua’s CBD, the two main interconnecting streets are named after these two young lovers who would not be denied a future together. Would you swim through the night to reach your lover?

The gorgeous photo of Lake Rotorua is by my good friend, artist and teacher, Janet Keen.