Tomayto, Tomahto

Back when I was much younger, I remember enthusiastically talking to an established author. I LOVED reading as a kid, so getting the chance to talk to a Real Life Author was exciting. I babbled to him that one day I’d love to be a writer, too.

His response was… less enthusiastic.

“DON’T,” he answered. “You live in New Zealand. Your cultural references are all wrong for a global audience. Even your experience of the seasons is backwards. You’ll confuse a global audience, and never make any money. Don’t waste your time.”


Which put me off writing for a long time. Until the indie publishing revolution came about, and I thought, “screw it. What do I have to lose? Let’s just see what this global audience thinks.”

Fair to say, the response has been far better than that author led me to believe! But I’ve also been quite careful to avoid New Zealand-isms, and make sure all readers can understand what I mean.

But every now and then, the occasional one still slips through. When I was editing the latest book, Open Home Closed Heart, I made a reference to Tess only drinking long blacks.

And then I thought: have I ever heard someone call it a long black when I’ve been overseas? A quick google told me, nope, that’s a name only used in New Zealand and Australia. (My editor is Australian, which further explains how it slipped through.)

Right, got it, Tess drinks black coffee now.

And then I was on Twitter the today, and I was unexpectedly caught out again!

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(Don’t judge me, chocolate porridge is delicious. Or should I say chocolate oatmeal?)

The cross-cultural differences just sneak in there, damn it. You’ve gotta be eagle eyed.

Any differences that have caught you out before? If you’re a writer, do you watch out for them? And if you’re a reader, do they bother you?


P.S. Open Home, Closed Heart is available on pre-order now, for a special reduced price of $0.99. So far all the advanced reviews have been five stars, so grab your copy quick!





Reality Strikes Again


This picture is causing me a problem. Let’s start from the beginning so I can say why.

Those of you who are reading my current series will know, when I set the book in Hawaii I decided to make full use of the beautiful scenery. It would be a crime not to. For a romance novel this means many things, including… apply your morning sunscreen everywhere.

I admit, thinking over all the beautiful spots in Hawaii wasn’t hard. Talk about spoiled for choice. Having a ridiculous amount of options meant that it also wasn’t hard to think up realistic places where a newly in love couple might sneak away for “privacy” and “alone time”.

But in Hawaiian Homecoming (first draft has passed the halfway mark by the way, woohoo!) we’re back in New Zealand. What is it, when it comes to writing about your own country, that you have to fight yourself to see it through rosy glasses? To see all the gorgeous tourist traps, rather than “ugh, Auckland, your traffic is just the worst“.

But I’ve had a think and remembered my many beautiful holidays around New Zealand, and of course I’ve already talked about Waiheke being one of those. Vineyards! Beaches! Fewer people, giving us options for “privacy”!

And really, why wouldn’t you get a bit carried away in a vineyard. They’re so pretty.

But now we go back a square. I spent a weekend in Martinborough, where there is also many vineyards,  and you can have a lot of fun cycling from one to the other for wine tastings. And this picture shows the moment where I realised there was a small problem with my plan. Can you spot it?


Those vines do not give much cover! There’s a difference between a little exhibitionism, and risking arrest for public indecency.

I do like the idea of love among the vines, though, so I’m sure I can come up with a fix. And if you have a solution, do tell me!

Cozy Spots


Last night was a bit of a celebration – I’ve finally finished writing Hawaiian Healing! It’s always such a good feeling to send off the completed file, close the computer, and know you’re done. The baby will soon go out into the world on it’s own. (You can pre-order a copy here, if you want.)

The real excitement? I can finally read some books myself! I like to take a week off after finishing a project, chill out, and remember why I love books in the first place.

I have a favourite spot I like to read, now that New Zealand is heading for summer, anyway. Our house is teeny tiny, but there’s a little balcony off the bedroom, and it’s a perfect little sun trap. A couple of cushions, my Kindle, and some snacks, and you’re not going to hear a peep from me for hours.

What’s your favourite spot for reading? And now I have some free time, any book recommendations? Clearly I love romance, but I’ll consider most genres except horror.

Why Hello, Waiheke

In a small country like New Zealand, people get disproportionately excited when the outside world notices us. Actually, we’re technically not all that small – by land mass, we’re twice the size of England. The more you know, hey?

But, we still look tiny because we’re next to that overgrown monstrosity Australia (shakes fist) and we have an eeny weeny population. When people notice anything other than our rugby team or hobbit movies, it’s a Big Day.

So you should’ve seen my Facebook feed explode when Lonely Planet picked a New Zealand spot for one of it’s top 10 for next year! Waiheke Island (say it with me, why-hih-kee) got into the Top 10 Regions for next year’s best in travel. In fact, it’s number five! It even beats Hawaii, which I personally disagree with, but you never really appreciate what’s on your own doorstep, do you?

Waiheke’s definitely pretty, I’ll give it that.

Anyway, I had a more personal reason to be excited. The last book in the Hawaiian Heartbreak trilogy (currently under construction) is set in New Zealand, and includes some important things happening on Waiheke Island. What can I say, there’s vineyards, beaches, and plenty of little isolated spots to sneak away together. Romance novel kryptonite!

Apparently I need a job predicting hot travel trends, because Hawaiian Healing also includes a nod to Iceland. It’s a tough life, but someone has to sit around daydreaming about the best places to travel, then write it all down.

If you’re interested, this is the full list. Maybe the next book should be set in Romania?

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions 2016

  • Transylvania, Romania
  • West Iceland
  • Valle de Viñales, Cuba
  • Friuli’s wine regions, Italy
  • Waiheke Island, New Zealand
  • The Auvergne, France
  • Hawaii, USA
  • Bavaria, Germany
  • Costa Verde, Brazil
  • St Helena, British Territories

What’s your favourite on the list?