WRITING BOOK BLURBS

Writing Book Blurbs… Something I’m not overly good at…

Story Empire

Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about writing a book blurb. I’m in the final stages of editing my current book, and my thoughts are turning to create the dreaded blurb. It can almost be harder to write than the book.

Instead of writing my blurb, I wondered where the term originated. Here’s what I found: “The wordblurbwas coined in 1907 by American humoristGelett Burgess(1866–1951).[2]His short 1906 bookAre You a Bromide?was presented in a limited edition to an annual trade association dinner.”— Wikipedia

With that out of the way, I refreshed my skills by researching what makes a good blurb.

Length

I stay between 100 and 200 words. I’ve seen plenty of shorter and longer ones. Shorter blurbs might not pull the reader in, while longer ones might give too much information.

Content

When approaching writing a blurb, I do it from…

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The best time to release your new book

A good read. Thanks Paul.

Ramblings from a Writer's Mind

Yesterday I completed another book, making it ready for publication.

Over the previous three days, I have titivated with the internal layout, put the final finickity touches to my tome, trying to ensure I have no orphaned sentences, that the images, I have several throughout the book, are set as I wish and then, once again a run-through for any grammatical, punctuation or other errors such messing about can create.

For the two days before, I worked on finalising the cover.

The book Is now filed away awaiting the right window for publication. (I’m thinking sometime around May.)

The reason, I believe this will be the BEST time for me to release this book.

But is there a best time for you to release a book?


Let’s look at how this publishing game pans out over the year, and what else might influence when you make your book…

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The Adventures of a Wayward Author

255275263_265398562199854_8761098585425164998_nNot sure if the fairies have landed yet, never mind the muses. Will they ever come back and let me write a decent story again or is my life situation still a bit much for them. They sure as hell don’t like Covid. No idea where they’ve locked themselves up. Maybe it’s not me who’s wayward, more likely it’s the darn muses having a laugh at my expense.


“Hey look at her trying to write,” one nudges the other.

   “I know, right. Can’t do it without us,” they giggle.

I’ll show them. I already published a story, ‘Soul Man,’ though it’s an old one so doesn’t really count. This story was released in parts in Ghostly Rites Anthologies by Plaisted Publishing. I decided it was time the full story stood on it’s own.

Description

The moon shone down eerily on the green-grey waves, glancing on the body guiding it to the shore. Gently, the waves propelled him towards the sandy beach. His body rolling over as it hit the sands; his empty eyes staring blankly up towards the wan moon as his body finally settled on the sand. His long black hair swirled in the seawater, each time the waves rushed over his body leaving seaweed and sand on his semi naked body.

Shadow of a man looking at the calm ocean on right side of image. On left is the book description.

I need new material and do I have heaps of that after my life since 2017. Oh. My. God. No wonder the muses won’t come home. Not sure I would either if I had a choice, except New Zealand is amazing compared to where I was. This is where my heart is and my adorable man.

Anyway…

I have an idea for a new type of romance. At the moment I’m calling it ‘The Book of Love.’ It’s a sexy hot tale of a frustrated woman who want’s what those erotic author write about… in her life. Sadly she is invisible to most people around her, including her family who ignore her.
   What can she do to set her life in the direction she wants? Reading erotic books and a vibrator is all she has right now. Breda want’s something real. A gentleman, a romantic and some glorious orgasms to make her scream. Instead of her dull shabby life she had.

Will her dreams come true? How will she find her man. She adores Snyden from her latest book. He’s gorgeous, muscular and knows how to make a woman scream, after all he makes Lisa, his girlfriend in the book, scream all the time.
   Unbeknown to Breda, the characters noticed Breda’s sad, lonely life and decided to do something for her. Hang on, they’re characters in a book Breda’s reading! How could they help, they weren’t real people! The decision belonged to Snyden and Lisa. Would they pull Breda into the book and give her a good time, or would they escape the pages and turn up in her real life.

Oh the possibilities… This is why I love fiction. Be warned, this story is for adults only!! 

Historical Research for Writers

A wonderful informative post on research. I love history and have over 20 years of family history research to work with. I can find most things I look for, though this information is great reminder on what is out there. Enjoy the read.

A Writer's Path

Researching is, believe it or not, a skill that not everyone has. If you do have it you should definitely put it on your C.V.; good research is often the thing you do not see, but the want of it is blindingly obvious, especially when you write historic fiction, or you’re writing about cultures and people you don’t know anything about.

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Beware Misguided Writing Advice

Brilliant Advice … Enjoy the read.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Author Anne R. Allen published yesterday a great post titled, 10 Dangerous Critiques: Beware Misguided Writing Advice. In it, she explains how trying to please everybody who beta-reads or critiques your WIP can turn a novel into a kind of jackalope of unrelated parts.

Jackalope illustration | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Sources of the Most Dangerous Critiques

1. The Realism Brigade

These are the folks who want to know when your characters go to the bathroom and point out that it really isn’t all that romantic to have your first kiss in front of everybody at work, the window of a department store, or the middle of a snowstorm.They’ll tell you that gun has too much of a kick for a young woman to handle or that nobody could run that fast in high heels.

The truth is that most fiction is not realistic and is not meant to be.

2. The Detailers

These are…

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Meltdowns – When our emotions overload

When I look back over the amount of times I’ve moved house since I was nineteen years old… Well it’s a lot. To be precise it’s at least twenty times. We’ve had few issues with rental properties, though in the last two years there is a boom again because fewer people can afford to buy their own property. The average in New Zealand is around $975K (other than Southland). Instead of buying people are lining up to rent. One house we viewed had over thirty people sign up for the open home. It’s no wonder more people are homeless. Fingers crossed we will be able to move house this year. I’ve already had one emotional overload with things going wrong, mainly in the last forty-eight hours of our stay in Christchurch. Anxiety is horrible, though when everything turns bad within hours, it is a nightmare. I’ll admit right now, I cried for the first time since I arrived back in New Zealand in March 2019.

Luckily one of my daughters was with me, and held me, while I cried on her shoulder, stroking my back to calm me down. We managed to get everything sorted in the end, though spent $120 more than we’d ever intended. This is when I wished I sold more books and knew more about marketing, it’s a good job I’m going to do some more training this year.

What a start to a new year. Though none of this is totally crappy, it wasn’t what I needed either. There again when do we ever get what we want, life is about learning and getting your needs filled. Obviously there is something I still need to learn about life which I keep missing.

What happened?

House hunting is getting frustrating and we finally find out why. One property manager texts me and asks if we can ask our landlord to reply to her messages because they aren’t answering her calls. So I emailed them asking them to call this property manager and give them a reference. I got a concise reply, which wasn’t what I’d being expecting. In fact, I’m still peeved due to the amount of money we’ve spent only to find out our present landlord isn’t replying to any reference requests because they don’t hand them out until after the active tenancy is no longer active… aka, we’ve ended the tenancy and no longer live there. They also only do verbal references and stated we need to give 28 days notice, which we already knew. I mean we’re old hats with renting already and due to having my publishing business, I’m kept up to date with all government changes for business which includes tenancies.

Let me state now, that a landlord is not legally required to hand out a reference in New Zealand. It is something I’d think about 95% of them do. They also generally give them prior to a tenant leaving their tenancy, thereby helping them get rehomed. We also have a Bond system here to cover any damage, other than wear and tear.

The problem is… when you go to apply for another home, most property managers want to have a reference from your last landlord to verify you’re a good tenant. If they can’t get one, then you lose the chance of getting the house you applied for. The last thing we want in these days of Covid is to be homeless due to lack of a reference, causing a lack of a new home. Argh. When we told the property manager who’d text me, they weren’t amused as our landlords attitude. By lunchtime on Wednesday, I’d had enough and we went out for a walk and lunch. A long walk at that and considering my bad back, I’m rather proud of myself. On the way back to the hostel, my daughter stopped at the bus terminal to buy a Metro card so we could get to the Airport the following day. This is where the extra costs started. $20 later, she caught up with me in Cathedral Square and we took some photos of the tumbled down cathedral from the earthquake ten years back. (they are finally rebuilding it).

Christchurch is now a gorgeous blend of old and new, the sad part is the tumble down building and the vacant lots still fenced off. There is a lot of new central city homes looking over parklands where building have been cleared away. I wonder if some might be Red Zone areas, which can no longer be built on. I have no real idea at the moment.

Slide Show of Christchurch

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The following morning, we signed out of the hostel checking where to find the bus stop (thanks the reception) and set off to wait for the bus. The bus which never arrived. It was late. In face, it never arrived and nor did the next one. Getting worried my daughter looked on their website for information. Apparently there were disruptions for Thursday, though it didn’t say what. Digging deeper, she finally glanced at me. “The 29 bus is not running from 10 am – 1 pm due to a UNION meeting!”
What the hell? Why couldn’t some other drivers take over the run? We had a bus card, it would’ve cost us just over $5 to get to the airport and instead we ended up paying for an UBER at a cost of $30. This made us $50 over budget. I just wanted to get on the plane and fly home. Nope more instore for us. Stupidly we asked about our baggage… which ended up costing us another $40 and this is when I had my emotional meltdown on my poor daughter.

The flight was as bumpy as hell, though the flight was only an hour long due to the wind pushing us. Arriving at our airport in Palmerston North we had to get a taxi to our home at another $30 because my husband was in Wellington with our other daughter visiting our son for his birthday. Now I’m out of pocket for $120 and out of pocket due to our landlords lack of response for a reference for houses we’d applied for.

I think I have a right to be peeved with life in general, especially after all the money I wasted viewing houses we never had a chance of getting. We wish we’d known this prior to signing for the tenancy we’re in now… if we’d known, we probably wouldn’t have signed the paperwork.

I wonder what life is going to throw at us next. Hopefully nothing nasty for a damn change.

Negative Actions and Depression – Part Two

Actions Speak Louder than Words? NOPE

I’ve always known Actions and Words can hurt. Bullying is sadly still as strong today (though different) as when I was growing up. It’s not something you notice forty years ago, not to the extent it is now. You were expected to be strong and get over it. Some people still say this or make a bad joke out of a situation. Nobody ever helped me through being bullied. I was generally smiling in those days. Even if I was a bit broken underneath. It wasn’t something I understood at the time. The common comment if someone physically attacked you was ‘hit them harder than they hit you and they won’t touch you again.’ 

Personally I don’t think Actions speak louder than Words. I think they are about the same, just used in different ways and not always in a positive directions. I tend to be a calm person, kind to others, helpful and put my cheerful face on. This is the one which can be fake for many with mental health issues. I smile because it is better than crying. It is a rare event to find me teary these days, unless I’m in the UK where tears seem to hit frequently last time I was there. Mind I mentioned that in my last post.
14.55 (2)The last time I remember crying is about three days prior to my baby daughter passing away due to to many congenital defects. I went out for a walk, little money on my bankcard, the Auckland Domain was busy and nobody seemed to notice how upset I was. I had a coffee then left the café and sat on the grass where I cried quietly, tears running down my face, knowing our daughter would be leaving us to become an angel to watch over us. I didn’t want her to go. I wanted someone to talk to, nobody came. everyone was to busy. I was on my own. My husband was looking after our other children, though we managed to fly him up on the morning Anastasia passed over. She died in his arms. Even now, nineteen year later, I can’t believe she has gone. She was a beautiful baby and taught us so much during the time she was here.
The next time I cried was after her burial. I had literally switched off my emotions, I did it so well, it is probably why I don’t cry so often anymore. Anyway, I remember taking the children to the swimming pool (ACTION) that afternoon and I sat in the spa pool in a corner and cried while my husband and a few other adults watched the children play. It was better to see them happy than sad. This is also when my anxiety and depression kicked in fully, though I didn’t recognise it for what it was until a few years later.

I tend to get off track. I do remember a lot of action and words during these years. I have a mind which if triggered, it over things everything for days. Lack of sleep is something I’ve suffered from for years. I can’t even blame my kids, though I’m sure as a parent, this is when it starts.

I grew up learning to help others, doing voluntary work, helping my mum put of posters for the history society, doing a paper round to earn some pocket money. Most of my childhood was fun and filled with cycle rides down country roads, playing cricket on the school grounds, going carol singing at Christmas. I went to church, sang on stage, in my late teens i joined a theatre group and we did a few musicals.
Behind the scenes of life were the actionable bullying, be it kids from school or my sister. I don’t recall having many issues with my brother, though like all siblings I’m sure we fought at times.

Needless to say, do actions really speak louder than words? I don’t think they do. Words can be hurtful and push you to the edge the same as seeing a comment on social media from someone you know. Nobody is positive 100% of the time. Reminding a friend in person or private chat is far better than announcing it to the world in a social media group, none of us know how close to the edge a person is with their mental health. I have had to breakdowns due to others and life situations. They aren’t nice at all, and the worst of it. Both incidents were brought on by friends, both in actions (how they spoke to me in person) and what they actually did. This is now why I trigger so much easier and have anxiety. Then came covid, within months of me returning to New Zealand, which also didn’t help, nor did changing where we lived. I’ve lost contact with a lot of old friends in the area and due to one thing or another, I don’t really see any of them and some don’t seem to be interested in re-connecting either. I do leave messages at times, so it isn’t all on me. As for family here. Not heard a peep out of most of them in the last two and a half years.

In the publishing world, I’ve assisted many authors and writers with various information. Many have never said thank you, several others have technically scammed me. Now that did hurt. You help make sure three books an author has published won’t get you sued due to copyright infringement and help them with a fourth which they have to pay for. Then you’re waiting on book five which your contractor is working on and it suddenly appears to be published. WHAT THE HELL… Apparently, I didn’t do much and I was to expensive. I beg to differ, especially with the amount of time I wasted on them. This was from an author who I did FREE work for. They never contacted me, which is what upset me more than anything. Lesson learnt. I don’t do FREE work for anyone anymore. I’m worth more than that. As I say to people…You pay your plumber, then pay me for work done. This particular author is now blocked on social media. Talk about action speaking as loud as words…

Due to all this one of my main phrases I use is ‘Are you sure.’ This links back to my insecurity and when people help me. Their usual reply ‘If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t ask.’ I need to remind myself to stop and realise this. It’s been difficult to move through this.
I may be quiet, though it doesn’t mean I’m not helping someone somewhere or having a few moments to myself. We all need to be more respectful of each other. We all fail at this at some time or other. Stop with the negative actions and words, be nice. We are humans first. Everything else is learnt behaviours from those around us. Value each others opinions, even if you don’t agree with them. It is their choice, not yours.

Then I found this, my friend/sister posted this on Facebook. It’s a preview of a story written by an up and coming author who has given permission to share. We will learn more about this new author at a later date. Anyway, this post resonates with me and what I’ve written.

“It’s not easy being the good guy, you know? You have to remember things like trust, loyalty, morals and respect. You have to stand your ground and maintain your focus, even when all around you, others begin to fall. You must control your emotions and confront your fears. You must learn to read between the lines, to see past the masks of illusion and find the truth. You must learn from the past, no matter how ugly it is, so you can make the right decisions, not for yourself, but for the sake of a better future.
But above all, you must understand that life in general, runs on free will. There cannot be light without the darkness, there cannot be life without death, and there cannot be free will, without something to challenge it. Life is about choosing wisely, and having the freedom to do so without being judged, for it is not up to the people to judge one another. No, Death is the ultimate judge, and those who choose wisely the path they walk, should have no reason to fear him.”

Be safe. Be good. Stay positive.

Negative Words and Depression – Part One

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

255275263_265398562199854_8761098585425164998_nDo we ever realise how negative we are about ourselves? I know I tend to say things about myself without meaning to be negative, though I use negative words. Is it without thinking or is it ‘being set in your ways.’ I’m not entirely sure! I also get told off for pulling myself down, even though some of those who tell me, are ones who are negative to me… Weird.

One of the few words I don’t allow in the house, funnily enough, isn’t a swear word, it is STUPID! I disagree with people using this word about or too others. None of us are stupid. We’re all different and do things is ways we need to, to achieve what we want in life. Or do we. What many of us forget is our upbringing and how we at taught or told to react to certain situations. Looking at todays world I find most of those ways are now defunct. 

I was bought up as a young lady who wasn’t allowed to swear. Even if I said Bugger or Bloody Hell, my mother would tell me off and you know something, I was similar with my own children, however I tried not to use negative words. I’d ask them not to swear in the house, in my hearing etc. Worked well with the occasional slip up. It took years to get parenthood right, helping my girls through being bullied at school, protecting my son by sending him to Taekwondo so he could protect himself if need be.

My childhood, I thought it was amazing, it’s only in the last few years I’ve realised it wasn’t as good as I thought. I was bullied. I never really worked out why. My sister was one of those who bullied me. I know she doesn’t like me, though she loves me because blood is thicker than water… whatever!! My school friends often called for me and we’d walk to school together. My mother was a ‘Lollipop Lady’ also known as a crossing lady for the school. My sister used to brush my long hair one hundred times, often bringing me to tears, two of my friends recalled these times and say near exactly the same thing. My sister would do mean things and at one stage overstepped herself by trying to become friends with my friend due to having none of her own. I ended up with two black eyes and she ended up been kicked out of the house. My father wasn’t best please. These days my mother thinks I’m making it up, though my sister still remembers. Is it any wonder I moved as far away as I could.

Many of you may know I went back to help with my parents in 2017. The whole family went though my husband only lasted 11 months due to failure to get approved for the correct visa. He came back to NZ with our son. That is another story though… 

In 2012 I turned up at my sisters house the night before my dads birthday meal. None of my family knew I was in England. My niece hugged me, my brother in law did too. They called my sister who arrived home about an hour later. First words out of her mouth! “What are you doing here?” Right… rolls-eyes. I asked for a hug. “I don’t do hugs!” What the hell? What happened to my sister, I’m sure she wasn’t this bad before I left for New Zealand. Anyway, she organised another place setting for our dads birthday meal. I hid out until they were all sitting down at the restaurant then stepped out, walking across to them. My mother saw me first, looked at my dad and stood up crying. 
“How did you get here?” she hugged me hard as did my dad who looked a bit bewildered.
“On a plane,” I grinned.

You may ask why I’m telling you about 2012. Well it is to show the difference in reception when you can surprise someone and when they know you’re turning up. In 2017, I organised for myself and my daughters to fly to the UK. I set the dates so my parents would be home, booked the tickets only to find out my sister had given me the wrong days. She would be on holiday with them when we arrived and wouldn’t return for three days. I wasn’t pleased. I have no idea if it was deliberate, I have a feeling it was.

My parents finally arrived home from their holiday, meanwhile my anxiety wasn’t going to well. Usually my sister and her husband would drive up the driveway to drop our parents home. I was puzzled when they didn’t. All three of us stood at the open front door excitement shining on our faces. My parents hadn’t seen my daughters since 2003 (14 yrs) My parents walked up the drive and just metres before us mum looked at us and said. “So you’re here are you?”
I was shocked and hurt as we stepped to the side, letting them into their home. I don’t remember to much other than them heading back out for dinner to their favourite pub and not even inviting us. I still feel we were set up by my sister for my mother to say something like this after not seeing me in five years and her granddaughter since they were little. Yes, I cried. In fact over the next six weeks before my husband and son arrived, I cried more than I’ve cried for years. My depression and anxiety hit hard. One friend said I had PTSD. I do know I’d triggered my anxiety thanks to another abusive person in 2012. It was horrible. My mother wasn’t nice, my dad was confused with dementia. I felt unloved, unwanted and god knows what my girls thought. It was a sad time. Within two weeks, she wanted us out of their three bedroom home where they lived alone because it was confusing my dad. Messy me has to find somewhere else to live. We managed to stay until my husband and son arrived though she kept mentioning it to me every few days. During that six weeks, we went to stay with another friend for three weeks. It was good until I got back to my parents once again and within an hour my mother had me in tears yet again. This time over the death of my youngest daughter, their youngest grandchild. You see as a family, we celebrate her birthday by going out for a meal and I had wanted my parents to come with us. It wasn’t to be. 
“I lost three friend last week, the older you get the more you lose, you shouldn’t …etc.” She went on and on unaware of what she was doing to me… I crumbled, burst into tears. Of course, this is when my sister walked in and asked what was going on. “I don’t know, she just started crying,” said my mum…well along those lines.
My girls took me to my bedroom where I continued to cry for at least half an hour even though my husband called. Hiccups and sobs. He was furious. I think at that stage we should’ve gone home to New Zealand, though never mind. I learnt a lot about my family and how it had changed over the years in my absence. I knew I needed to change a lot of thing in my life to get back into a good space. A place I’ve not really been in since about 2015. They may believe in anxiety, though none really believed in depression. You’re one of us… You’re strong. Maybe I am in my own way, though I’m not strong until someone pushes me to far.

All the above brings me to having my daughters home and living with us. It has helped lift my depression though not my anxiety. During Covid we both got cats as Emotion Support Animals. I didn’t realise you could register them in New Zealand, this is something I will be doing. It takes away their pet status, which they never were anyway. 
Learning to live in the same unit, which is too small for us, has been a challenge to say the least. I love having my girls home, love the hugs and conversation, most of the time. It is the negative comments I dislike. I feel like I’m getting told off all the time with how they speak to me. As the youngest in my own family, I was quite loud, so I’d get heard. These days I’m loud because I am hearing impaired/deaf and I need new hearing aids (which I can’t afford and need funding for…still working on this). 
I’ve gotten used to using more positive words with everyone, though it seems those negative ones are returning. ‘Don’t do this or that or forget or you forgot.’ It’s annoying as anything and I’m not coping well. Mind I have other issues affecting the situation, from the outside which don’t help.
They are their fathers daughters and though we all love each other, we are also looking forward to having my son home for Christmas. It’ll be our first Christmas together since 2017 and we are going to have a blast with a house full of laughter.

Words not to use – Don’t, Can’t, Didn’t, Stupid…etc

Try to change how you say something to someone. Keep out the negative words, there are kinder ways to say things. If someone forgets to do something for you, remind them nicely or if you can do it yourself, then do so. We are all forgetful at times. Also check in on those facial expressions. Yeah they might make you laugh, though hurt the person you are looking at. If you know they have depression, anxiety, deafness or any other disability for that matter, then be KIND.  It’s daft to make a face or sigh, if someone asks you to repeat yourself. My hearing is null and void without my hearing aids. Another thing to avoid saying “I have bad hearing to!” when a person with aids is talking to you. After all, if you had bad hearing and needed hearing aids, you’d be wearing them. It is belittling when people say this and annoyingly unnecessary. Of course, their is due process too, though most of the people who’ve said things like this to me, still don’t wear hearing aids.

They’re HOME….

Our beautiful daughters are back home! They arrived on the 3rd of November and ended up in Quarantine in Christchurch, midway down the south Island (East Coast) which is about ten hours from where we’re living at present. The next thing was how to get them home? Fly again (not cheap though probably more efficient) or have a mini holiday, explore Christchurch (the girls have never been there before this) and then board the Coastal Train to Picton, the Ferry to Wellington and a Train back to Palmerston North. I started to book things and as per-usual, nothing goes to plan.

The story starts when I decide to go to Picton to visit a good friend and go house hunting. Yes, we’ve decided to move to the South Island, probably next year. The house we’re in at present isn’t big enough for all of us especially since I need an office and craft room (for my new business). The house I wanted to look at was no longer available, so with many thanks to Jamie, I went looking further afield and found another in Woodburne close to Blenheim. We didn’t get this one either. Stepping back, I ended up having a mini makeover (bought some clothes too) and some photos done by Jamie. She’s great. Such a wonderful lady and sure knows how to make a woman look and feel good about themselves.

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Picton is as beautiful as ever. Below is a photo of Waikawa Bay, about five minutes down the road from my friends house. Yes we went for a paddle. It rained for the next few days.

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A few more photos from Picton Harbour at Sunset, when the Ferry was coming in. Gorgeous.

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A few more photos from Raranga Beach, which is out towards Blenheim. It was gorgeous, though not advisable to walk over the pebble beach in bare feet…

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On the Friday before travelling down to Christchurch, I attended a ‘Wine o’clock’ neighbour evening. It was lovely to meet others and have a chat. It was late to bed that particular night. On Sunday Jamie and I left for Christchurch at five o’clock in the morning. My daughters were  being released from Quarantine earlier than we’d all expected. We finally picked them up just down from the hotel they were staying in, packed up the car and drove on to Top 10 Holiday Park. A nice place, though it seemed we were put on the second floor. I’d thought the place were all single story. Oops, I will remember to ask next time. Taking all the luggage up two flights of steps was a mission and a half.
Jamie decided to drive back to Picton. I’m sure she was exhausted by the time she got home. I worried about all the travelling she’d be doing over the following few days.

Back to the girls and what to do for the rest of Sunday and the next few days I’d booked for us to show the girls around Christchurch, not that I knew it overly well. Lucky me, had a few friends who lived in the area.

Mandy is a beautiful lady I’ve known since my children were little. We met in Rotorua, and our children went to school together for a while. It was Mandy who put me on the right track for my depression, something which I’ll always be grateful for. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if Mandy hadn’t noticed the mess I’d got myself into. It was also Mandy who sort of told me about the terror attack in 2019, though she didn’t know it at the time of the text. I was in the UK and turned the TV news on. My world was turned upside down in an instant. I am sure many never thought this would happen in New Zealand…well not twice and not for affecting so many people and taking so many lives. It is horrendous and I have no idea how some countries live with this kind of thing.
Oops… slid away again. Anyway. We caught up with Mandy, her eldest daughter and granddaughter on Monday. We bussed into the city having no idea where the main station was. The tickets were costly and no return tickets. They apparently had a transfer to another bus if used within two hours…sigh. Not good enough! This is a total negative in my opinion for Christchurch.
Mandy collected us from Cathedral Square. Picture of the girls below with the broken cathedral behind them. I’ve no idea what the sculpture is called. It looks like an ice cream cone with fancy lattice work.

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We went to Christchurch Museum. It was brilliant. So much to see and do. I just wish there were a few more sitting areas because my back is giving me grief right now. The one part I really loved was the Street showing old shops and what they sold. It reminded me of the Cobbles Streets in the York Museum in England. Memories are what we make them and seeing the early years of Christchurch was  a wonderful lesson in history. We also went to the children’s area to sit and chat while Mandy’s granddaughter crawled around, having cuddles, standing and sitting. Such an adorable child.  Moving on to the museum café we had morning tea. Ice chocolate is a favourite of mine right now along with cheese scones. Delicious. Next we went to the Riverside Market, which is mainly food shops. It is lovely, though I got sore again and I’d forgotten my walking stick leaving it in Mandy’s car. The girls wandered around while we waited for Mandy and family to arrive. By the time they did, we’d ordered lunch, so I could sit down and Mandy gave me my walking stick. I hate not been able to walk far without it. Chatting for a while in the sun was lovely. Mandy and family went home and we went to sit by the river for a while before returning to the bus station for another expensive ride home…ouch.

We had fish and chips for dinner, the first for the girls since their return to New Zealand. It was nice to see home cut chips (fries) for a change. That evening I went to book our train ride back to Picton only to find it fully books… weeks ahead. Now we were stuck. It was OMG time. How would we get home. I looked at flights and cringed, especially since there would be extra baggage. Managed to contact my husband and he was off work too so he could spend time with our girls. I asked him to find out if it was cheaper for him to drive and pick us up. It probably cost heaps more in the end. All this sorted and we had another day out to Northlands Mall to shop and meet another friend for lunch. We all had an amazing chat with Paula, such a fun lady to be around. It was at this stage we wondered if we should seriously start looking for a house in Christchurch instead of Blenheim. Then you remember the earthquakes and the terror attack that happened and wonder if you’re brave enough. Yeah, I know the whole of New Zealand is on several fault lines and we rock a lot… but seriously? Then I remember we used to live in Rotorua which is situated inside an old volcano caldera. LOL. Where we are at present is on a main fault line. Therefore do what you want and live where you’re going to be happy. South Island it is.

On Wednesday we stayed at the holiday park to relax. We’d spoken to my husband a few times, finding out how the cats were getting along. Hissy at times, chasing each other. Bonnie chased Nero so far, she got lost for a few hours, though found her way back… thank goodness. By the time we got home they are a bit more friendly and putting up with each other. Though from the expression on his face, he’s asking why we’ve got another cat in his house…LOL

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Wednesday is also the day my husband started to make his way down through New Zealand, across on the Ferry. Though the trip to down for him was good, with the Ferry and a few sleeps along the way, so he didn’t crash. We were worried at time due to lack of messages to work out where he was. Found him in reception at the holiday camp at 8 am. Took him to our lodge room, calling the girls who hurried down for cuddles and hugs… tears and all. The below photo is a few minutes after.

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My husband hadn’t seen the girls in three years. Our son is yet to catch up with them. I hadn’t seen them for two years and about eight months.

We packed up the car my husband had rented and set out for breakfast at Northlands Mall, breakfast was yummy, sorry no photos. Back in the car park we looked at booking the ferry. This is where stress, anxiety and pure frustration comes in. Palmerston North Hertz… I doubt we will ever hire from them again, they made a solvable issue harder, demanding more money because we couldn’t get a spot for it on the ferry. You’d think in these covid times, the ferry wouldn’t be fully booked. Sadly it was, though there was a good reason. Interislander had two ferry down. We were travelling with Blue Bridge and booked as foot passengers. The issue was still the car… and how to get back to Palmerston North. God, what a bloody mess. We ended up driving to Picton with a few stops, showing the girls the changes since the double earthquake in Kaikoura and the gorgeous ocean. Below are a few images of the coast line as we travelled up towards Picton.

Finally arriving in Picton I went to ask about getting our car on the ferry. The lady at the desk was amazing… No can do.  Why was she amazing? She put us on Standby and worked with us, her boss and a few other customers and they managed to get three more cars on the ferry including ours. I’ve never prayed so hard for such a length of time in ages. Fingers crossed, touched wood (my walking stick). Even now I sometimes wonder how this lady did her job so professionally and with such good humour. I need to send her some flowers… We also had dinner in Picton a lovely woodfire pizza. Caught up with Jamie (I’d left something at her house) and I can’t wait to get back south again in the New Year. House hunting will begin in earnest.

The photos below show the beginning of our Ferry crossing. The first three are of Picton Port, the fourth is Oxford Bear which is milk chocolate drink sitting on the windowsill and the rest of of Marlborough Sounds through a dirty ferry window on a cloudy day…

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The Ferry ride was good. The thing about Blue Bridge Ferries is they have stabilizers and if you don’t know, The Cook Straits are (can be) one of the roughest to cross in the world. We had a good sailing. It was Isabelle’s first time on a ferry and she coped really well. My hubby slept some, the girls went exploring and I stayed. We sailed rather late and didn’t get into Wellington until twenty-three hundred hours. (11pm) Getting off takes about forty-five minutes at most and then it was set off home to Palmerston North. Another two hours or more. I think we got home at two-fifteen in the morning. Dumped the suitcases in the house, checked the cats and we all went to bed. Exhausted.  Hubby had to take the car back by nine in the morning…and sort out the mess they’d made of our car rental.

We’ve been home for just over a week now. Luckily my husband was on holiday and has ben able to spend some time with the girls each day. It’s so good to have them home and things are starting to settle, including the cats. We are still going to be moving South… Another Story.