Cheesy Positivity

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There are two equal and opposite sides to my personality – a cheesy hippie who wants only love and light, and a sarcastic cynic, who thinks the hippie is super lame.

But even though the cynic wants the hippie to be quiet, and stop being so uncool, the hippie does have a little something to say.

There’s a lot of negativity right now. Politics the world over. People are upset, many have good reason to be.

It’s one of the reasons I walked away from being a journalist. The overwhelming pressure of writing about negative things, being present for what would be someone’s worst day of their life. Letting the worst days for other people, become every day for me.

It’s easy to let this negativity infect every part of your life. I know people who have.

I’m not saying don’t push for change on the things that matter. And I’m certainly not going to suggest a solution to the political problems around at the moment – those are for other people to suggest these days, and I prefer it like that.

But I hope, amongst all of this, you can take a moment today. Each day. To remember what you’re thankful for. What was a success today. To remind someone close to you that you love them.

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Right, my cynic is sufficiently embarrassed. The hippie is back in her cage.

 

(Book status: 3,200 words into first draft)

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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.”

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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!

Amazon: http://ow.ly/9vOU3012bpJ

iBooks: http://ow.ly/iEIx3012bs2

Nook: http://ow.ly/QjfV3012bF3

Kobo: http://ow.ly/Igho3014cN0

A Shiny New Era

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I’ve been loyal and faithful for a long time. But it’s time to have a chat with my significant other. I just don’t think I’m a one-store kind of woman.

My books have been going straight to Amazon so far. And I’ve loved working with the ‘Zon – still do, in fact. Their Select programme lets readers who pay a monthly fee treat my books like they’re in a library, checking them out for no further cost to them, while I get paid by pages read.

But. The price of the system is being exclusive to Amazon. So, while I love making books available for readers to try, I can’t ignore the readers who don’t use Kindle. It’s just not fair to them.

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This was the first picture that came up for “open relationship”, and it’s being included purely for that glorious bucket hat.

So I’ve had a chat to Amazon about trying an open relationship. Now I’m flirting with iBooks, Kobo, and Nook. They’ve been very attentive so far, which I do like in a partner.

As of now, I can’t see me going back to exclusivity. So hello, Nook and iPad readers! It’s a delight to meet you, let’s hang out some time.

 

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who caught the Lion King reference in the title, and now has the song stuck in their head.

 

(Current book progress: 26,378 words into first draft)

Review: Scarlet

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Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

 

I stayed up until 4am to finish this one. I could have read it in the daylight the next day, but I just couldn’t put it down to sleep. My husband snored on beside me, wearing an eye mask, because I wouldn’t turn out the light. That’s how good this was.

I’m going to stay away from plot, just in case anyone hasn’t read this yet. Trust me, the plot is excellent, but that’s all I’m going to say.

What I found most enjoyable is that Marissa Meyer has seriously nailed writing strong women. They’re believable, flawed people, but both Cinder and Scarlet have shot to the top of my role model list. They kick ass.

It didn’t hurt that Scarlet’s relationship with Wolf was everything I could have wanted. His abilities are scary and intimidating, but Scarlet gives nil fucks. When they’re working together it’s a true pairing of brains and brawn. I know everyone loves Kai (why, what am I missing here?) but I loved Wolf because he wasn’t so damn… bland.

Add in a little light relief with Captain Carswell Thorne, and this book just had me. Am I wrong for having a little crush on him? I mean, he’s Such. A. Douche. And yet so endearing. Maybe it’s the sarcastic exchanges he has with Cinder. It may be the lowest form of wit, but sarcasm is still my favourite.

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This one – five stars!

 

(Current book progress; 14,367 words into first draft)

Review: Down the Rabbit Hole

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The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and, finally, the secret truth about the man who holds the key—from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef’s former #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door.
A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.
But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.

 

I admit it. I’m one of those people who watched The Girls Next Door, and was totally won over. They seemed to have such fun! Holly and Hef were so cute! Bridget and Kendra were hilarious!

Then they suddenly all went their separate ways. We were left with replacement blondes, and vague answers on what actually happened. Which I always found a bit odd.

Cut to Holly releasing a tell-all, and frankly, I’m amazed it took me this long to get to it. She doesn’t hold back, with some brutal honesty about herself, and how she felt while she was living there. Not to mention the brutal honesty about Hef and Kendra. Wow. Remind me not to get on Holly’s bad side.

I think it takes a lot of courage to lay everything bare like this. I’ve seen reviews calling her a prostitute and all sorts, and I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. Some questionable decisions, sure. But talking so frankly about how those decisions came back to haunt her can only help other women in similar situations. I’m a big fan of peeling back some of the PR gloss!

That said… there is a little bit of playing the victim. Not lots, it didn’t bother me a whole bunch, but enough. She did also “collaborate” with another writer, which is fine for a memoir, but does make you wonder how much of it was polished up for her at the end.

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All in all – four stars! Check it out if you love entertaining memoirs that give you a peek behind the curtain to see all the dirt.

 

Romance Isn’t Dead

I’m a sappy romantic. I’ll admit it. So unexpected from a romance author, I know! Flowers, chocolates, big gestures, sign me up. But after the flowers have wilted and the chocolates mysteriously disappeared, there’s some really weird things I find romantic.

If I get home after a long day, and the house is all clean and tidy without me ever saying a word about it, then you can bet I’m suddenly in the mood. If dinner’s made as well, then all bets are off.

And I’m not talking in the mood as in, “OK, here’s your reward”. As in I’m suddenly physically very attracted to my husband and not in the mood to waitA clean house has somehow become a major turn on. What?

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Tell me that’s not doing something for you

Which makes me feel very old fashioned! It’s not as if I’m usually responsible for all the chores or anything, we both pull our weight. The best explanation I can think of is that I’m naturally fairly lazy, and unexpectedly not having to do my share is a relief. Then, what can I say, he gets the benefit of that rush of happy hormones.

I’m still working out how I feel about this one. While I do, help a girl out! I’m not the only weird one am I? Anyone else have something odd that gets them in the mood?

 

How To Be A Skinny Mini With No Friends

Happy New Year! This is typically when people think about goals for the year ahead, and I’ll admit I fall into that trap. But I like to set the bar low for any resolutions. Really low, so I’m almost guaranteed to feel smug by December.

So, none of this losing weight, or becoming neat and tidy. I would fail. This year I’m aiming to have matching underwear more often. Cross your fingers for me, I have a terrible track record at this!

The goal to lose weight must still be a favourite though, as all of the lifestyle sites I read are currently full of tips and tricks to lose weight without trying. Which is fine, but this one nearly made me choke on my coffee. Can you imagine trying to hold a conversation with someone doing these “hard to notice” movements?!

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“So anyway, Claire, then I told my boss-”

*fingers tapping on the table*

“Sorry, am I annoying you? We don’t have to talk about work.”

“No, it’s fine, please continue.”

“OK… So I told my boss-”

*eye roll*

“Seriously, what have I done?”

 

I’ll stick with the gym, I think.

Oil Pulling: Would You?

Thank you everyone for your flu remedies! I’m feeling so much better now, although I’ve probably had enough lemon and honey drinks to last me a lifetime. I even lost my voice for a couple of days – the husband was quite amused at my attempts to keep chatting by using hand gestures and hand-written signs.

While making full use of my returned voice, I was talking to a friend about oil pulling. I mentioned I do it most mornings. You just swill some oil, in my case coconut, around your mouth for about 20 minutes. I combine mine with a shower, killing two birds with one stone.

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The benefits I’ve noticed are whiter teeth, cleaner mouth in general, and fresher breath. Some people think it helps with things like eczema and acne as well, just by reducing the amount of bacteria generally in your body. I have no idea if that’s true, but hey, it probably won’t hurt.

My friend thought this sounded disgusting. Words may have been mentioned, including but not limited to, “silly hippie”. To be fair, it did take getting used to. Coconut oil is solid when you first get a teaspoonful, then melts thanks to your body temperature. Holding oily liquid in your mouth for 20 minutes certainly feels a little odd at first. Olive oil would probably be too far for me, purely because of taste.

But hey, I like whiter teeth, and am not willing to go to the dentist for it! So the oil stays.

How about you, would you give oil pulling a whirl? Or are you joining my friend in shaking your head at the silly things some hippies will do?

Forcing The Muse To Visit

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Writing is a funny old thing. Often the hardest part is sitting down, and forcing yourself to actually do it. Not waiting until you feel inspired, not trying to put out something perfect, and certainly not trying to edit as you go. Just sitting down, and writing.

The first book of my current trilogy is already with my editor, but that doesn’t mean it’s rest time. That means it’s time to start writing book two! In a funny way it feels like hitting reset. I’ve just finished celebrating getting the entire book down on paper, and now I’m at the beginning of the next.

I always have bullet points of where a story is going before I start. Some days it flows. I giggle to myself as I put in witty banter (at least, I think it’s witty), or get a little hot under the collar as I write a love scene. Other days it’s a slog. But I’m not allowed to leave that chair until at least 3,000 words are written down, even if I’m sure I’ll delete them all tomorrow.

The funny thing is, even though I might slash and burn with the brutal editing red pen, rarely do I delete the entire lot. Usually it’s 90% as good as the stuff I wrote when I was feeling inspired. I just didn’t feel like working. Funny that!

If you wait for the perfect moment, you’re likely to never do it. With a regular job you still have to turn up and get it done on the days when you’re feeling tired and over it. Writing needs to be treated the same way. There are good days and bad days, and you’ll need to write on all of them. Because, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

What’s your technique for beating procrastination?

P.S. For all my talk of procrastination, I’ll soon have the cover for my new book! I should be able to post it and show you guys by the end of the week. Exciting!

It’s All In The Little Things

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I’m a big believer in regularly going out of your way for the person you’re with. Telling them you love them, giving them a kiss goodbye, picking up food for their favourite dinner on your way home.

Admittedly, this does mean I can sometimes be a wee bit high maintenance. But hey, if you don’t have high standards, they won’t get met! I like to snuggle up while watching TV, go out on dates regularly, spend an entire Sunday lazing about in bed together. Physical affection is particularly important to me. I love hugs and kisses, even if you’re in the middle of cooking dinner!

I know a couple who I think have got it totally sussed. Little acts of kindness are routine for them. He regularly brings her breakfast in bed, because he’s up first. Whereas she calls him into the bathroom and moisturises his face each morning, like a little mini facial, because otherwise he won’t get around to it.

True, that’s a bit sticky sweet for me to do every day, but boy are those two happy. I think it’s all those little things that add up to a happy relationship.

What are the little things that mean the most to you? And how far is too far, before you become that gross couple everyone avoids?