Friday, September 28, 2012

Flying high Friday

There's been a lot of talk about dreams this week, which has been so uplifting and inspiring all round. First there's my own - my dream of becoming a published author. As I said last Friday, I've been in a major writing zone lately, and the results have been fantastic. I'm churning out chapters like nobody's business and it feels great. I was interviewed about my life and my work over at Clancy Tucker's blog this week, who referred to me as an "emerging author" which was a bit of a thrill. I've also decided to start writing a few short stories and articles and submit them to magazines so I can get my work "out there" and I've been looking at a few things I can do to get my work seen by the right people (but I won't tell you what those are yet, don't want to jinx it). I feel like I'm getting closer to my dream every day. The more Twitter followers, blog followers, blog views and comments I get and the more chapters I churn out, the more confident I become that, as hard as it is to get published in New Zealand, where there's a very low demand for local fiction, I will get there with hard work and continued support from the people around me.
Then there's my handsome, intelligent, talented partner Joshua, who is at the end of a four-year slog at uni and currently has opportunities for when he graduates coming out of his ears. I won't say too much, don't want to embarrass the poor boy, but I will say this. I'm so freakin' proud!
And finally, there's my friend Michelle Phillips, who I don't see much, but who is a friend from school and a fabulous, beautiful person. She's the kind of person I admire because when she wants to do something, she does it, and she's now doing what she always dreamed of doing all the way back in school. She married a fabulous guy in March and together they've made their dream of starting a photography business a reality and launched their website for Patina Photography yesterday. Go and check it out, their photography is stunning!

So no need to list the things making me happy this week. Following my dreams and seeing others follow theirs is enough for me. ♥ 

Have a lovely weekend people!  I'm so excited, daylight savings starts on Sunday here in NZ! Summer here we come!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A little bit of Missing Since Tuesday

It's been awhile since I revealed any Missing Since Tuesday excerpts, so, I thought, in light of being called an "emerging author" over at Clancy Tucker's blog, I would post a little something. I've been writing like a crazy person lately, it's been fabulous! So let me know what you think :) Constructive criticism welcomed :)

The twilight hours in the Brandon home were usually Thomas’ favourite time of day. His six children and his wife were tucked away safe in bed and he enjoyed the company of a slow burning pipe, watching the smoke swirl peacefully towards the ceiling while the radio murmured quietly beside him.

But this night was one he would remember for the rest of his days. As he sat frozen, as if glued to his chair, the smoke burned his eyes and the rumble of the radio pounded in his ears.

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Fraser’s words rang in his head, and he replayed them over and over, hoping there was something he had missed, or that the words had not been said at all.

“This is not an occasion for many words; it is a dark day in the history of the world... It is with deep regret and sadness that I make this announcement on behalf of the government, and the people will receive it with similar feelings. That will not, however, affect the determination of both government and people to play their part.”

The words were vague, and Thomas knew there would be more in the coming days, but they had been said, and he knew that New Zealand would inevitably be at war again soon. He thought of Arthur in the next room, sleeping soundly, unaware of what would be required of him in the coming months, possibly years, and he felt the unrelenting hand of war squeeze his heart tight.

War had been a natural part of most people’s lives since the Great War began in 1914, and as Thomas stared blankly ahead, he did not see the breadth of the battered dining table, the well-used chairs, the modest bookcase. Instead, the homely objects were replaced by a stretch of land, barren save endless lines of barbed wire, and the smoke turned to the dust, kicked up by his comrades who ran in front of him and fell like flies. Cannon shells ripped the ground to shreds and bullets popped sporadically, ripping through bodies, peppering the dust with blood. Thomas’ hand went automatically to the scar on his shoulder, where a bullet had passed through him just under the collarbone, ripping through muscle and searing flesh.

He rubbed his thumb over the lumpy scar tissue and thought of his eldest son; his fit, healthy, young son who would soon be sent to his own battle field.

I'm famous!

Haha not really... not yet... but, I've paid a visit to Clancy Tucker's blog and answered a few questions about myself. I'm quite excited, escpecially at the fact that he's called me an "emerging author"... eek!

So if you want to know a little bit more about me, like my writing journey so far, the adventures I had before even considering writing as a career, and my skinny dipping on a deserted island fantasy, head over and check it out! I've also mentioned you lovely people :) Thanks Clancy for giving me this opportunity, much appreciated.

To all you other bloggers out there reading this, let it be known that I am available for interviews and guest blogging, so just leave me a comment or send me an email at sarahrhardie[at] if you want me!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Tina Makereti

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week I have a special treat for you: A New Zealand author! And from Wellington too! She talks to us about her latest book, Once Upon a Time in Aoteoroa (for international readers, Aoteoroa means New Zealand in Maori), and all things Kiwi.    
Name: Tina Makereti
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live on the Kāpiti Coast, and just living so close to the sea and the island is amazing.
Author of: Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa
Book Available: Huia Publishers and bookstores. Also a Kobo ebook, readable on most eReaders and digital devices.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I write fiction and creative non-fiction, and sometimes teach writing as well. I’ve had one collection of short stories published, and have nearly completed a novel. I come from a mixed cultural heritage, have an incredible family, and live by the sea.

Tell us about Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa: It’s a short story collection that combines an interest in contemporary lives and Māori mythology. I didn’t really know what it was before it was published, but it seems to tap into both literary and magic-realist/speculative genres. Probably easiest to offer the back cover blurb:
Vulnerable gods and goddesses
Children born with unusual gifts
The protection offered by Mountains
Birds with bad timing
Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa explores a world where mythological characters and stories become part of everyday life. Old and new worlds co-exist, cultures mingle and, if we are lucky, magic happens. Familiar characters appear, but in these versions the gods live in a contemporary world and are motivated by human concerns. In this perplexing world, characters connect with each other and find ancient wisdom that carries them through.

What makes you most proud to be a New Zealander? I love Aotearoa. It is the most incredible place in the world to live, and we punch so far above our weight as artists, writers, scientists, sportspeople. Culturally, we have such a rich and complex heritage. We have a strong history of egalitarianism. All of these things make me immensely proud, to the extent that I get mad when people are negative about our country or our people. Don’t like something? Help to make it better rather than complaining or leaving. Having said that, I feel equally mad when I feel like the wellbeing and wonder of our country is under attack by the people who run it, as it is now.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Not as many as I could have! It’s been really good – better than I could’ve hoped for. I do get rejections but I find that they tend to be good for the writing – I always rework stuff that hasn’t been accepted by a publisher and it always gets better. So I guess the biggest challenge is making sure I do write every day. Even though I love it, there is always a little invisible barrier to beginning the day.

What has been your best moment as a writer? There’s been many really good ones, but the purest thrill I remember having was being offered a place to do the MA Creative Writing at Victoria University. I just couldn’t believe it. I think I knew it was going to change everything.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? All and none? You have to inhabit them and they have to inhabit you, but I don’t see any real correlation. There are moments in many of their lives that have been taken from mine though. I have had an interesting conundrum with a recent character – I kept pushing her away so she wouldn’t be like me, but that didn’t work. Now I’m going to allow her to be closer to me so a more intuitive authentic voice will come out. Authentic isn’t a good word, but it’s the close to what I mean.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? There is always more to do. So much more!

What is your personal cure for procrastination? and fear of deadlines.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Saying no to lunch and cups of tea with others. Self-hatred when you don’t get anything done. Not being able to think or talk about anything else!

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? No.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? It was like a long slow hum in the background of my life for so long, and it was there from when I was little, even though I mostly blocked it out. I was in my early thirties when I finally admitted: I think this is what I’m meant to be doing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Take courses. Enter competitions. Practice. Read. Learn to love criticism! (I’m not even kidding there, love it, make it your friend, it will help you get where you’re going faster) Listen to the deep small voices inside you. Take risks.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fashion idols

I don't usually write about fashion, but after reading this post about the Kennedys' photographer on the Huffington Post website, it got me thinking about the women whose fashion I admire. I personally love those women who don't overdo it. They dress with class, grace, and glamour - something the fashion industry could take note of now and again these days in my opinion.

Audrey Hepburn has always been my number one fashion idol. She was the very essence of simple beauty. How little it would take to achive her level of fashion, yet how much of an impact would it make? The short simple haircut that frames her face, the contrast of black and white, the shirts, the high necklines, the tailored dresses. Stunning.

Jackie Kennedy was such a fabulously feminine power dresser. She managed to exude confidence and intelligence while also being approachable and lovely. All class.

Kate Middleton is a new favourite. I suppose as a royal she has to keep it classy (although, if you remember Beatrice's hat at the wedding, it appears not all of the royals agree), and I just love, love, love her style. She has never worn anything I didn't like. And she's just so lovely, always smiling.

Who are your fashion idols?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Good morning and a Happy Monday to you all! Hope you all had a great weekend. We had sunshine ALL WEEKEND! It was fabulous! Nothing quite like sitting in a patch of sunlight on your balcony with a cup of green tea reading The Catcher in the Rye - fantastic book by the way, cracks me up.
What did you get up to?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flying high Friday

As far as events go, this week has been pretty un... eventful. But! I've been in a major writing zone, just churning out chapters like a crazy person and inspiration has been flying at me from all directions!

Things making me happy this week:

♥ Watching Midnight in Paris and falling in love with Ernest Hemingway
Reading this quote by Anton Chekhov: "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
Baking the most amazing double chocolate cookies I've ever baked, by adding the juice and rind from an orange... delish!
Reading about this girl, Abigail Gibbs, an 18-year-old who just landed a six-figure publishing deal for her book The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire
Spontaneously hanging with sister last night, chatting, having dinner at my place, watching Family Guy

What made you happy this week?

Have a lovely weekend people xo

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Every day for the past few weeks I've been checking my blog constantly, painfully waiting for my number of followers to reach 100. Then today, when I was reading a comment on a post, it crept up on me. Suddenly, I had reached 100! Thanks Cora Lockhart for being my 100th follower! Sure, some people have thousands of blog followers, but it's still an amazing feeling knowing that there are 100 people in this world who are interested in what I do and what I write. So thank you, dear followers, you and your lovely comments are what makes blogging worth it. xo

Fabulous as always, Diana

I've just finished reading The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon, and, although I don't feel the need to write a review on it, I thought I would mention it anyway.
I've read the whole Outlander series about three times and three of the Lord John novels, and, all I really have to say about The Scottish Prisoner is, if you love Diana's work, you won't be disappointed. It's probably the best Lord John novel I've read so far.

Follow the yellow brick road

Wouldn't it be fabulous to have a yellow brick road in your garden? I don't have a garden at the moment, but one day, I can see a yellow brick road much like this one winding its way through the trees, flowers, grass, fruit trees, and vegetables, leading down to my writing hut at the bottom of the garden...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Brittany Weddle

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from young writer Brittany Weddle, author of Payback Time, who talks about the joy of getting published and her drive to become a full-time author.

Name: Brittany Weddle
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in a small town in Michigan in the states. It’s one of those towns that’s so small it’s not even visible on a map [laughs], but I love it. I’ve lived there all my life and I can’t imagine living anywhere else, but at the same time, it could do with a movie theatre and maybe a book store or two.
Author of: Payback Time
Book available: Createspace estore, Amazon, Amazon Kindle and at Smashwords

Tell us a bit about yourself: I was born on January 1990 to a single mother. I started writing when I was 15 when my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, but didn't seriously consider writing as a profession until I was 20.

Tell us about your book, Payback Time: When Mary Lorrence was 17, her whole world changed. She became pregnant and lost her only sister all in a matter of weeks. Eleven years later, she's one of the best homicide detective's Chicago has to offer and the case that she is handed will prove to be one of the hardest cases she has ever been dealt.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? My mom used to read to me when I was a baby, as most parents do when their children are young. The story goes that before I learned to read, I would tell the story back to her just by looking at the pictures on the pages and I’ve been an avid reader ever since. I think my passion for a good story came from the fact that I have a very vivid imagination and for the longest time I had no way of releasing that pent up energy. Thank God for writing!

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? I read a lot of different books by a lot of different authors, but if I have to pick one it would be the Harry Potter books. Those books changed the way that everyone viewed books and the detail in those books is just incredible.

What was the seed of inspiration for your Payback Time? Oh, gosh, I started writing this book in 2006 when I was sixteen and it changed so much since then. At the time my grandmother was battling lung cancer and I tried writing in a journal, but then I decided my life was boring so I decided to make up stories instead.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? There isn’t a particular message I want the readers to grasp. I know what I got out of it and that may not be the same thing as what the readers get out of it and that’s okay! That’s one of the reasons I became a writer in the first place.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Getting published! For the longest time I battled back and forth on either being traditionally published or self-publishing, but in the end I decided to go with the self-publishing. I’m horrible with deadlines.

What has been your best moment as a writer? Being published. Nothing has ever come close to the fact that I was finally going to be in print.

Who is your author idol? I have so many idols. Authors like Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling…the list goes on and on.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? In this book, I see more of my mom in Mary, my main female character, just because they’re both single mothers and both independent people. I think the only difference is: my mom’s not a cop and she doesn’t smoke.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Getting published was the easy part, but marketing…that’s where the hard part comes in. Just because your book is now in bookstores or on the virtual shelves, doesn’t mean your job as the author is finished.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? Aww the dreaded procrastination! What I like to do is turn off the television and just remove all of the things that can take me away from writing, except for music. Whenever I’m writing, I have my iPod on and I’m jamming away.

What does your workspace look like? A mess! All kidding aside, I live in a two bedroom apartment and my mom has the other bedroom, so I don’t have an office. My office and my bedroom are one and the same. I have a computer desk for my laptop and a writing desk because I like to write long hand.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? The only thing I can come up with is that this is such a lonely profession in the fact that there’s no one you can turn to and say: what am I supposed to do here? What am I supposed to say?

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Not yet and hopefully I never will.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I like to go to the movies and shopping…the normal things for a woman in her early twenties, but my mom is my best friend and I love spending time with her.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Never set too high of a goal for yourself. If your goal is to be a bestselling author, then you would have better luck at winning the lottery

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? I graduated from high school four years ago and already it feels like a lifetime ago, but I think just to never bring yourself down and always believe in yourself.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? Yes, for the longest time I just thought of my writing as a hobby and I showed my notebook to a friend of mine and she asked if I was going to get it published. From that moment on, I knew that I was meant to be an author. Thank God, too, because I’m not good at anything else so it’s all or nothing with me.

Do you get any judgement for being such a young author? Not yet, a lot of the people that I meet, are over the moon when they hear that I’m an author, but I’m sure I’ll meet people who will judge me and criticize me for what I do and I’m prepared to handle that.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Never give up. If writing is your dream, then go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or that you can’t write because you can.

If you are an author and would like to be featured on You May Say I'm a Dreamer, email me at: sarahrhardie[at] and I'll get back to you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing bliss

George Bernard Shaw

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a writing hut? I would love one of these hidden deep in the garden of the massive yard I'm going to have one day, or, better yet, perched on a cliff with waves below and horizon ahead...

Happy Monday :)

Good morning people! Happy Monday! I hope the weather is nice where you are... here in lovely Wellington it's pouring down with rain and I'm soaked to the skin. I love the rain, but think it's best enjoyed lying in bed all warm and snug listening to it falling on the roof, not first thing in the morning with freshly done makeup and hair with a whole day of work ahead of you. But never mind, it is what it is!
It was a fairly hectic weekend, with lots of domestic things to get done and dinner out at a fabulous Chinese restaurant called Big Thumb on Saturday night to celebrate my brother's birthday (again) - his girlfriend organised it as a surprise and mum made him the infamous Train Cake from the Australian Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book - the book all our birthday cakes came from as kids. It was a great night and the sugary goodness of the cake sure bought back memories.

Also made the most of the brief bit of sunshine we had yesterday by sitting on the steps outside our apartment reading my book (Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon) and drinking tea - bliss! Then it started raining...

How was your weekend?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Flying high Friday

You know how I give you a Monday dose of inspiration to start off your week? Well, I saw this Things I Love Thursday post that Gala Darling does, and thought, "I can do that", so every Friday I'm going to send some positive vibes your way and recount the positive things that came out of my week, and I invite you to do the same in the comments below or on your own blog! If you already do it on your blog or if you plan to, let me know, leave me the link, and I'll pop over and have a read!

So here goes...

The big event this week was my younger brother's birthday, and in my family, we make a pretty big deal about birthdays, which I love. We have our silly little traditions like singing Happy Birthday really, really badly; raising a toast to the birthday boy/girl; and pretending we all have to go "find our wallets" when we go and get the presents. Birthdays always make me so happy and thankful to have a family like I do - one that will go out of their way to make your birthday a special day.

Other things making me happy this week:
Eating the most amazing gluten and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes, which my brother's girlfriend made for his birthday
Walking out of the house to the first warm morning all week this morning
Seeing delicate daffodils and blossoms survive gale force winds that so many windows, trampolines and trees did not
Having an amazing work out at the gym on Monday, which got rid of all my aches and pains for the week
Going on a date with my sister last night, where, as usual, we acted like we hadn't seen each other in a year and talked non-stop

What's made you happy this week, friends?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dreaming of... going back

I'm sure a lot of you have had those holidays where, a few years later, you find out more about the place you visited and start kicking yourself for not researching the place enough and missing out on those things... or you simply didn't have enough time to see everything you wanted to see.

Well, four years ago I went to the states for three months - I saw a lot - I counted about 25 states. But, I only spent one day in New York City and three days in San Francisco, two places I desperately want to go back to.

I was starting a tour in New York, so I had the choice of spending one day there and going straight to the tour, or spending about two weeks there before the next tour. If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken the two weeks. But, I was travelling by myself, and big city New York is a scary place for a young kiwi girl on her own. I was also not that interested in the city - I was never obsessed with Sex and the City or anything like that, I was more keen to go trekking through the desert and meeting Native Americans.

However, the one day that I had there now haunts me, simply because I saw the city at a glance, but I didn't really do anything. I took a double-decker tour bus around the city and got to see the empire state building, the edge of Central Park, Tiffany's and a bunch of high-rise apartment buildings owned or lived in by celebrities. I got off the bus where the Twin Towers used to be and had a look around the church across the road that serves as a memorial, and I took a walk around Battery Park and looked at the Statue of Liberty from afar... and then looked at the line for the ferry and decided not to waste half my day waiting.
I also went to Times Square during the day and at night... it freaked me out so much during the day I left as soon as I got there - there were too many people! Then I met up with some friends and went back that night and visited the M&M's store.

So although I did fit a lot into one day, it doesn't even come close to the things I want to see/do now... So on my next visit, in 2014, we're going to...

♥ See the John Lennon memorial in Central Park
♥ Take a long walk or cycle through Central Park
♥ Go inside the Empire State Building
♥ Take the ferry across to the Statue of Liberty
♥ See a broadway show - preferrably Grease or Hairspray
♥ Go to the Museum of Modern Art
♥ Take a stroll through West Village
♥ Watch a film at Film Forum
♥ Eat at Grimaldi's Pizzeria
♥ Have a look around Tiffany's - Or better yet, have "Breakfast at Tiffany's" haha
♥ Watch live music at Bowery Ballroom

Yeah, we might be there for awhile...

San Francisco was a different experience altogther. The tour I went on finished at LA, and most of the people on it either went to Disneyland or went home. I was tempted to go to Disneyland, but I decided that I would rather share that with Joshua or take our future children there one day - plus, San Fran was a city the hippie inside me had always wanted to visit, and it was a chance to wind down and just be by myself for a few days after meeting so many people over the three months and barely having a moment alone.

I managed to squeeze quite a lot out of three days in San Fran, so the reason I want to go back is not so much because I feel like I missed a lot, but more because I want Joshua to feel its amazingness and also just because I loved the place so much.

While I was there, I took a tram to Fisherman's Wharf, had a walk around, went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, took the ferry over to Alcatraz - which I did because dad told me to and I actually ended up loving it - went to Haight Street, the hippie centre of the Summer of '67, did some shopping in market street, ate a beautiful breakfast at Lefty O'Doul's diner every day, then finished it all off with a trip on a boat under the golden gate bridge at sunset (which was amazing).

So the places I want to go back to are:

♥ Haight Street
♥ Alcatraz

And the places I haven't been to/things I haven't done are:

♥ Cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge
♥ Eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp
♥ Go to Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf before dawn to see the sea lions
♥ Go to North Beach and have breakfast at Mama's (apparently the best breakfast in town)
♥ Go up Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill (it overlooks the city and has some awesome 1930s murals inside) then take the 400 stairs down
♥ Golden Gate Park
♥ The Exploratotium - Science Museum (This one's for Joshua)

Do you have travel regrets? Hankering to go back? Tell me yours in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Jamie Winn

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from author of Out of the Shadow, Jamie Winn, who tells us how she crafted a story using her experience as a psychotherapist, drawing her readers into the deep workings of the mind and the therapeutic process.
Name: Jamie Winn
Location and one thing you love about living there: I am so fortunate to have found a home by the ocean in Oceanside, Calfornia. Not only does it have year-round great weather, but I can walk steps to the beach (literally). I don't care what kind of day I'm having, all I have to do is traispe down to the ocean and all my cares and worries are lifted. It truly is a spiritual experience to be by the sea. Author of: Out of the Shadow
Book available: Amazon at

Tell us a bit about yourself: I earned a graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a psychotherapist for over 25 years. I have one prior novel published in genre and a play produced by the Actor’s Alliance Festival in San Diego. My poetry has been published in a compilation, For the Love of Writing, by the San Diego Writer's Workshop in 2011, and my play, Gotcha!, is being read at the Village Arts Theater in Carlsbad, California, in May 2012.

Tell us about your novel, Out of the Shadow: In telling someone else's story, you might unwittingly become apart of the plot. Out of the Shadow tells the story of two women caught in the same deadly web. Rebecca Rosen survives a rape and her husband's murder only to begin having flashbacks of childhood abuse...possibly at the hand of the rapist. She hires Psychologist, Dr. Sarah Abrams, to help her uncover the truth. Will they discover the perpetrator's identity time to save her life, or will she wind up at the mercy of this demented killer?

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? I have always been a voracious reader. It's a joy to discover a good story and to allow my imagination transport me to another time and place. I remember my mother catching me late at night with a flashlight and a book under the covers. Reading is a lifelong passion.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? There are so many books that have had a huge impact on me, it's hard to describe them all. My forth grade teacher, Mrs. Moore, would read to the class everyday after lunch. It's in her classroom that I discovered Charlotte's Web and The Princess and the Goblin. As an adolescent I fell in love with Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Buttler in Gone with the Wind and later found Hemingway and D. H. Lawrence. In college I was assigned Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and discovered on my own the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred years of Solitude and Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. And the list goes on...

What was the seed of inspiration for Out of the Shadow? As a psychotherapist, I wanted to create a novel that was both entertaining, but also gave the reader insight into the therapeutic process as well as the characters' psychological makeup. One night in the dark my imagination took over. What if a stranger were to waltzed into my bedroom? Would I be able to see them? What could happen? Where would it lead? My answers were the ignition that started the engine of my story.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? Yes, I'm hoping readers will track along with the main characters' struggles and evolution throughout the story and will gain deeper insight into the impact our early lives have over us. The main message is that we need to understand our past in order to be present for ourselves in the now. Not to dwell on the past, but rather to use it in a way that creates a meaningful and productive life.

Out of the Shadow is your second novel – is it different this time round? Definitely. I had my first novel, Kiva Fire (about to be re-released as The Spirit Keepers, 2013), published by an Internet publishing company in 2001. This was before Internet publishing had taken off and, while they did minimum promotion, there really wasn't much activity. Now I'm having the opportunity to publish a novel myself and take all the responsibility for maintenance of my website and other vehicles for self promotion. It's been a whirlwind of activity lately and has taken almost every moment of my time, but I love it. It gives me the chance to develop my own outreach and to really connect with people who are interested in my work. It's been a joy so far.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? I think the most difficult challenge I've faced is the challenge of not fitting in with what is fashionable at the moment. I don't write to mimic the fad of the moment, I write because I'm moved to tell a story and I want to share it with others. I have had a number of agents and editors say they enjoyed my story or liked my writing, but they weren't sure they could sell it at the time. But now I can publish it myself and I don't have to try to copy the current trend.

What has been your best moment as a writer? I've had a number of great moments. The greatest are when someone reads my work and lets me know how much they enjoyed it. That's happened a lot lately since I posted the first chapter of my new mystery/suspense online. I write because I want to share my story with others and it's pure joy when they appreciate what I have to say.

Who is your author idol? I've listed many of my idols under the question about books that changed my life, but I can add a few recent names: Jodi Pincoult, Khalid Hosseini, Gillian Flynn, Abraham Berghese, to name a few.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Being a former psychotherapist, I can't help but see a little of myself in the Pscyhologist, Sarah Abrams. She's a smart and self-reliant woman who's had to deal with her own ghosts in order to become the best therapist she can be. Isn't that true for writers too. To paraphrase what Sarah says in the book, you can only take your characters as far as you have gone yourself.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Both. I am making my dream come true by publishing my novels, but I still have work to do, more stories to tell, once these books have found a home online.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? Frankly, I haven't found a real “cure,” but I fluxuate between periods of procrastination and attention to other demands in my life, to periods of intense writing. I know every writer has their own schedule and system, but mine seems to work for me. I think many writers are too consumed with worry they'll procrastinate or encounter writer's block. Rather than waste your energy worrying, it would be better used sitting in front of that computer and letting your imagination do the work.

What does your workspace look like? I have a small corner of a large second bedroom with a desk, file cabinet and a lumbar support chair. Nothing special at all. My belief is that the space isn't what's important, it's being in that space that counts.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? The main occupational hazard, aside from a sore back and stiff fingers from typing all day, is the emotional let-down of dealing with rejection and criticism, sometimes fair, sometimes unfair. We as writer's need to develop a thick skin to cope with placing our work out into the public arena. Not everyone will like our work or rave about our latest effort. We have to expect negative reactions. I think using the criticism to shape and improve our writing is the most constructive way to deal with it.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? A day? Only one? Sure there have been plenty of days when I've considered quitting, but it never lasts long. I'm not writing for the fame and fortune. I'm writing because I want and need to express myself and share my stories. This is my calling, not necessarily my conscious choice.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Too much. I run a business and do all the accounting, acquiring, hiring and, on ocassion, firing. And whenever I can, I sneak off to the gym for a quick workout or a walk by the beach. Life is full, but never too full to find time write when I'm so inclined.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Finding time to write is numero uno. If I don't write, I begin to get an itch. It's a mental itch that nags at me until I scratch it by sitting down and working on a project. That takes persistence and focus and being able to set aside other distractions. It's not always easy to do, but if I want to remain somewhat sane, I have to do it.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? The most important thing I learned at school is how to craft a story. I don't care whether you're writing fiction, non-fiction, articles or poems, story is at the basis of all good writing. All well-written stories follow a certain structure and must have conflict and tension. We intuitively absorb a mental concept of story from our exposure to it, but the true craft must be studied and analyzed. I also learned about human nature, about what makes us tick, which is essential to character development. In my opinion, a characters' motivation is what drives a story worth reading.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? Being an academic for so many years, I enjoyed writing papers, but lost the connection between the written word, imagination and creativity. It's only been in the last few years that I have once again discovered the joy of crafting a story, and known for certain it was what I had to do.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Of course the first piece of advice I'm sure they all hear is: Write. Just write. But I also advise any new writer to find fellow writers with whom to share their work. It's difficult, if not impossible, to write in a vacume and know if your work is any good. Look for critique groups, organizations, such as Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and classes. Feedback from others has moulded me into the writer I am today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Domestic bliss

Well, Josh and I have been living at our new flat/apartment for five weeks now, and you know what, it's been pretty good. Sure, we've had our disagreements and our teething problems like any couple learning to share an environment, but we've worked out most of the kinks now - sorted out annoying things like rubbish collection and washing days and all that boring stuff, and we've each got our own things that we do to keep things running smoothly.
My mantra over the last five weeks has been this: "Start as you mean to go on". And remembering that every day has been the best way to not get lazy about both life and our relationship.
I'll tell you one thing, though, I don't want to move again in a hurry.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Monday :)

"Don't stop. Keep right on going. Head for Europe if you can afford it. Or go to the Mardi Gras. Hitch up your trailer and go to Canada. Or down to old Mexico. Find out what is at the end of some old country road. Go someplace you've heard about, where you can collect rocks or just look up at the sky. Go see what's over the next hill, and the one after that, and the one after that." - Author unknown

Happy Monday people! Hope you all had a fab weekend. The sun is finally out here today, after a pretty epic storm over the weekend which brought us gale-force winds on Saturday and rain, rain, rain yesterday. The wind was so bad it closed roads, blew in windows, lifted roofs and trampolines, and cut the power to the entire Wellington region just as the All Blacks and the Pumas (Argentina) were about to start the second half of the Super 15 rugby match at the Wellington stadium, which wasn't spared the power cut - the lights went out just as they came on the field and took about 15mins to reboot, so it was an interesting game. And of course, we won (Argentina has never beaten the All Blacks). World champions baby!
Also got caught in the rain delivering fliers yesterday, which was fun.
Isn't spring fun? You never know what's around the corner.
Have a fabulous week people!

Friday, September 7, 2012

You just can't beat it

"I have heard of it blowing a gale, and half a gale, but if ever it blew a gale and a half it is doing so at the present moment." - Lieutenent Best.

Let me tell you a little something about my city: Wellington, New Zealand.

Because of the funnel effect created by the close proximity of the north and south island's mountain ranges, or what the Maori once called the "river of wind", Wellington is notorious for its wind. Every now and then, that wind is a southerly that makes its way up the country with remnants of Antarctica on its tail. Sometimes it rains, and we all know the city is often not the nicest place to be when it rains, let alone when that rain is travelling sideways, lashing your entire body, no matter how hard you try and cover up with jackets and boots and scarves - and don't even bother with an umbrella.

The wind actually nearly prevented Wellington from becoming a city at all. Before the early nineteenth century, people found it extremely hard to put down roots here, and it wasn't until British sailing ships found sanctury in its harbour that it became an attractive option for colonial settlement.

"Yet even as the raw township grew into a thriving metropolis, there was always that sense of living on a fault-line, of frail wooden houses clinging to hillsides that might throw them off any minute." - Wellington: Biography of a City by Redmer Yska

However, us Wellingtonians have a little saying that gets us through the harsh winter winds and sideways rain: "You can't beat Wellington on a good day."

And you really can't. I would challenge anyone not to smile when the sun is out in this amazing city.

And although today we've had some pretty intense wind, grey skies and a bit of rain, this is what it looked like this time last week, on the last day of winter:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Your views

Loyal bloggy friends! I've noticed the number of you has been increasing over the last couple of months, and we're slowly inching towards 100, so for that I would like to say thanks! You May Say I'm a Dreamer is very flattered.
Over those last couple of months, I've been trying to post every weekday, a lot more than I used to, and I've been trying a lot of different things to see what interests people. So I just wondered... What would you like to see more or less of on here? And what do you like about You May Say I'm a Dreamer? Please let me know so I know what I can do more of to make you happy!

So is it the dreamy travel posts, the "what I've been up to", the creative writing/novel excerpts, the book reviews, the author interviews, the photography, the random rants about things happening in the world, or the quirky bits and pieces about New Zealand and Wellington life that push your buttons?

Leave a comment below. I'm listening...............

Visually inspired

A few months ago, a picture store called Moana Road Art was having a closing down sale. As it was down the road from where I work, I walked past it every day and always admired these two photos on canvas, so when they went on sale for $29 each, I jumped at the chance and bought them, not caring that I didn't really have room to hang them (as I was living with the parents at the time) and that I would have to carry them in the wind for 20 minutes down to the train station, take up an extra seat on the train at rush hour, then carefully put them in the back on my car and drive them home. But I'm so glad I did!
They were taken sometime in the 1930s, and for those of you who don't know Wellington, the streets pictured are Cuba St (left) and Willis St, two of the city's most iconic streets. Today, buses repalce the trams, which I always thought was a shame, and after showing my aunty and uncle the pictures a few weeks ago, I think it's even more of a shame because of the dreamy looks and ear-to-ear smiles they had on their faces when they talked about how the trams sounded like they were in a canyon because of how narrow the streets were - the sound reverberrated off the buildings and you always knew if a tram was coming because of the roar - and then you would hear the chime of the bells. My dad and my aunty, his big sister, remember standing on James Smith's Corner waving little flags as they watched the Christmas parade go past, and would dash out onto the road to grab the lollies that were thrown to them. Whenever dad tells me that story it always makes me smile.
Today, Willis Street is lined with a mixture of banks, shops and cafes, and is constantly busy with commuters. Cuba Street is a bit of an "indie/hippie/bohemian" part of town - one of my favourite parts of town, with its vintage shops, record shops and cozy cute, often shabby-in-a-cool-kind-of-way cafes, and you're always guaranteed to walk past a busker, a homeless person, or someone with dreadlocks.
After hearing my aunty, uncle, and dad's stories, I lay on my bed and thought about how little Wellington has changed if you look closely. If you look up, most of the buildings that were there in the 30s are still there, only overshadowed by new buuildings. But what I've always loved about Wellington is the fact that we don't like to tear down a building to make way for a new one - we would rather preserve that building and work with it and around it. So although there are a lot of high-rises; a lot of glass and straight lines; if we take the time to look, the curves and the carvings and the masonry - the art, in fact, is still there, keeping secrets and telling stories.
As I looked up at my pictures, I could hear the roar of the trams and the chime of the bells clear as day and Arthur, Molly, Sophia, Duncan and Maria, characters in my novel-in-progress Missing Since Tuesday, became even more real to me as I pictured them on those streets running from trouble, falling in love, downing a pint in the pub before the six'o'clock swill...
Now those pictures have pride of place on the lounge wall in our new apartment - I see them every day, which keeps me inspired, giving me no excuse not to write.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Paulette Mahurin

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we meet author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, Paulette Mahurin, who explores tragedy, loss, history, and the lessons we learn from it all.

Name: Paulette Mahurin
Location and one thing you love about living there: Ojai, CA is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I look out the windows or my home and see a park-like setting, replete with trees, growth, squirrels, birds, flowers…nature at its best. I live a vacation life.
Author of: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a nurse practitioner, specializing in women’s health in a clinic in Ojai, CA. Prior to that I worked in the busiest ER in LA County with the highest census of child abuse. You name it, I’ve seen it. I live with my husband, Terry (a retired NASA attorney) and our three dogs, rescued from a kill shelter: Eli (a choc lab), Max (a deformed rottie puppy) and Bella (a numbnutz rottie/sharpie puppy). I like to write, a lot, and therefore I write whenever I can. After moving to Ojai, 15 years ago, I was bitten by a tick, six months later I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. God answered my prayer for time to write in a not-so-great-way, but the Lyme afforded me the time to sit, and sit, and sit, and six years later my novel was born.

Tell us about your novel: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap takes place in 1895, in a small Nevada farming town. That was a year ripe with memorable history: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, Unites States Secretary of State, expanded the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britian’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense.

When the news of Wilde’s conviction when out over the telegraphs worldwide, it three a small Nevada town into chaos. This is a story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Wilde’s imprisonment, a lesbian couple in particular. It’s a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? My own emotions and interest. A story either grabs me, holds me, and carries me along or it doesn’t. Nothing erudite about it.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? Vicktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. If you’ve read it, this needs no explanation. It was his journey in a concentration camp, and after losing his entire family he watched and noted the strength of the  human spirit to survive in the worst of situations. Profound, deep, life changing words on each page, based on his experience which was spine chilling.

What was the seed of inspiration for your book? I took a writing class in Ojai. The Teacher, Deb Norton (a screenplay/stage play wright of The Whole Banana) came in one day with a stack of photos. We had ten minutes to write a mystery. My photo was two spinsterly looking women standing very close together.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? Tolerance for the human condition and to see, beyond stupidity that, after-all, we’re all human.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Physical exhaustion and bodily incapacities when getting into some compelling parts. Other than that, I enjoy the process, even the painful feedback because it helped me learn about my insides.

What has been your best moment as a writer? Getting feedback that someone really loved the story. Then having that multiplied and a word of mouth wave was created, which resulted in a reading at The Ojai Art Center, a prestigious Art Center in California.

Who is your author idol? Too many to name. I like Steinbeck a lot.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? There are parts of me in all of them.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? It’s a process. There’s no dream involved, rather a life flow, and much gratitude for being able to do something I like/even love at times. I’ve known writing rapture and despair and I’d say that the dream is not to dream but to be awake in the process and float with the unknown, the "what’s next" while sitting in the experience of this live unfolding moment.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? That’s a hard one. Sometimes I wonder if the writing is doing itself. It happens - even sitting down to put in the time happens. I think, am I doing anything I can take credit for? Not really sure. I just do it. I sit. I write. I go off and do other things until I return to sit and write. A writer writes. That’s all. Doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes or five hours. It’s like asking someone about a successful diet; if we’re going to be real about it you tell me what works then see if it really works, outside of sitting my ass down before a computer/typewriter and doing.

What does your workspace look like? It’s a room with a desk, an office. Neat, pleasant, windows that look out at to trees.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? My back hurts when I sit too much and I don’t get up and stretch enough.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Sure and on that day, I did. Then I restarted.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Spend time with my hubby and dogs. Help rescue dogs. Work as an NP, do a considerable amount of pro-bono health consultations for women with cancer and with other medical conditions that need a friend with experience.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Don’t loose sight that you are human, and one step away from suffering or loss like the rest of the world – staying grounded in the experience is something to be grateful for, but nothing lasts and nothing is forever.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? How to study. How to spend time researching. How to use time wisely.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? No. I don’t know that I’m meant to be a writer. I do know/feel that writing sits comfortably in my skin. I’ve tried acting, painting, and other right brain activities but none felt comfortable; they made me feel self-conscious, but that's not the case with writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? A writer writes. Sit down and do it. And tell the critic in your head to go to silent retreat!

If you are an author and would like to be featured on You May Say I'm a Dreamer, email me at: sarah.hardie[at] and I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meeting an idol

Last night I got to meet one of my author idols, Joanne Harris, who is touring to promote her new book, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure, which continues the story of Vianne Rocher, who we first met in Chocolat and then again in The Lollipop Shoes.
It was a wonderful experience hearing the author herself talk about the books we know and love. Someone asked her how much research she does for each book, and she basically said she rarely does research - she writes what she knows - and it shows in her writing. She writes with so much heart and that, to me, is what makes her books so fantastic.
It was also wonderful hearing her read from Peaches and talk about the characters; about how she never intended to write another book about Vianne, but she felt, in the end, that she and Vianne both had unfinished business with Lasquenet, so they were inevitably led back there.
I can't wait to sink my teeth into Peaches - but it's been a long time since I read Chocolat and The Lollipop shoes, so I may have to track down some copies and refresh my memory. And having a signed copy always makes reading it all the more exciting.

Have you ever met your author idol?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Morning all! And a happy Monday to you! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was busy as always... Spent Saturday cleaning the house top to bottom, fun fun... then went to the city for some drinks for one of my best mate's birthday and realised I haven't been out on the town for about two years! Also realised I'm way past 18 (not that I feel old at all, it was just an interesting observation). You know you're way past 18 when you get to walk into a bar on a Saturday night with barely a glance from the bouncers  - no ID required thanks! - and then you look around you thinking "jeez can her dress get any shorter?!" It was a bit of a different experience, but I've gotta say, it was way better than it used to be. Back in the "18 days" there was so much pressure to look hotter than everybody else, to flirt and be flirted with, to look amazing when you danced. But now, we find a corner booth with our good friends, most of whom are couples, get the drinks in and have a good chat and a laugh, getting up on the dance floor if we feel like it, not caring how good (or bad) we look. Mid-twenties are the best!

Yesterday was father's day, so it included two of dad's favourite things: Rugby and steak. We went and watched the Wellington Lions thrash Southland 40-8 - with many of those points scored by my brother's best mate, who was coached as a kid by my dad, Jason Woodward - very proud! Then finished off the day with steak on the barbie - yum! And I baked dad some ginger crunch, his favourite.

So all in all, a very good weekend, bring on more rugby next weekend! All Blacks vs Argentina! Have a fabulous week people. :)