Book Update

Christmas in Wattle Lane, the third novel in my Wattle Lane series, is now finished and has been passed on to my lovely editor and proof reader.

In this third instalment, Neave and Lily prepare to celebrate their first Christmas in the Wattle Lane Guest House. As they make vintage-themed decorations and bake Christmas goodies, a guest arrives with a strange aversion to Christmas, while next door, at Wattle Lane Keepsakes, Angeline relives some emotional memories from her past as she makes a very special scrapbook album for her daughter.

Now it’s on to the all-important book cover. Christmas evokes so many wonderful images that it will be hard to choose one to best represent the Christmas spirit of Wattle Lane – handmade paper snowflakes, vintage ornaments, or maybe some yummy Christmas fare…

My Craft and Writing Studio

I have always dreamed of having my own little creative space, a place where I can keep all my art and craft supplies, where I can spread out and work on a project and leave it out at the end of the day, instead of having to tidy it away. A place where I can be messy, a place that is inspiring to write in, a place where I can shut myself away and write and create and forget about everything else for a while.

Now, my dream has come true! Nick and I bought a kitset garden room and together we built it in the garden. Well, Nick was the one who made sense of all the instructions, and did all the heavy lifting and construction, and knew just what to do. I just helped where I could. It was hard work, but well worth the effort. My little studio is just 10 square meters in size, it is made from Scandinavian redwood, and I love it!

The inside is a work in progress as I organize all my art and craft paraphernalia into boxes and drawers. I’ve got fabric to make curtains, and Nick is going to build me a wall of shelves.

Craft and Writing Studio

The planter is covered in netting to stop Finn from jumping in and digging out all the pansy seedlings we planted.

It even has a little verandah and decking out the front where Finn can lie in the sun.

Finn

Garden Journal

Our garden has been fairly dormant over the winter months. A few annuals add colour – pansies, snapdragons, primulas – and lavender and feverfew flower continuously. We have a Wintersweet shrub in the garden beside our front porch, which in the winter has tiny, pale yellow flowers with the most divine scent. I love to breathe in their aroma whenever I walk past them.

Wintersweet

Wintersweet

These are the last few pages from my garden journal. I used some pressed leaves for the autumn page, and I pressed some pansies, lavender and feverfew from our garden to use on the July page.

The Gypsy-rose Tea Museum

In the weekend we visited the Gypsy-rose Tea Museum in Taradale. As a tea lover, I was enthralled by the huge range of tea memorabilia, from antique Victorian hot water urns, to models of tea clippers, vintage tea mugs, and knitted tea cosies. There was such a lot to look at and the curator provided interesting snippets of information about many of the items as we looked around. If you live in the area, or are planning a trip to Hawke’s Bay, I definitely recommend a visit to the tea museum.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Victorian teapots 1880-1900

Miniature teapot

English pewter samovar 1875

English hot water urn 1810

Victorian tea caddy 1890

Vintage tea caddies

Later, at home, I got out my vintage copy of Foulsham’s Tea-cup Fortune Telling, made a pot of tea, enjoyed a cuppa, then read my fortune. My tea leaves formed a whimsical little cat in the bottom of the cup. The book states that the cat usually shows treachery or deception, but if the cat is distinguished in a resting position, near the handle and at the top of the cup, it shows domestic comfort. I think I will go for the last one, as my cat looked very joyful and content, and I definitely feel in a state of domestic comfort.

Favourite Books of June

My favourite books this month include two non-fiction books and another young adult apocalypse novel.

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography
Edited by Pamela Smith Hill

As a child I loved watching the TV series, Little House on the Prairie, and I enjoyed reading the Little House series of books. This new book, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, includes Laura Ingalls Wilder’s never-before-published autobiography, Pioneer Girl, which she completed in 1930 at the age of 63. Her story, with much help from her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, was later rewritten as the Little House series of books for children.

This is a beautiful, large format, hardcover book that contains not only the manuscript for Pioneer Girl, but lots of information and insights into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life. It also includes many maps, photographs and records from the period, and is a book that I’m sure all Laura Ingalls Wilder fans will love.

The Pioneer Girl Project blog, which I began following in the months leading up to the publication of the book, has lots of extra photographs, interviews and interesting information about Laura Ingalls Wilder, her family and friends, and the communities in which they lived.

The Secret Language of Flowers by Samantha Gray

I know there are many books on the language of flowers, but this one is a particularly lovely one with beautiful illustrations. It discusses the hidden meanings of over 50 flowers and includes a lot of interesting flower folklore and myth. A small, hardcover book, it is perfect for browsing through on a rainy day, or reading while sitting in the garden, drinking tea, surrounded by flowers.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

What would you do if you knew the world was going to end in two months? An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and there is a sixty-six percent chance that it will collide with the planet and destroy life as we know it. This is the story of four teenagers and the choices they make with the knowledge that they may have only two months left to live. The chapters alternate between the characters – the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, and the overachiever – who each have very different personalities, backgrounds, dreams and ambitions. Through the impending disaster, their lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. This is one of those books that I couldn’t put down, anxious to see how it would end and whether or not our planet would survive.

Tommy Wallach is a singer-songwriter as well as an author, and he has written and recorded an album to go along with the book. It is available on iTunes, and you can listen to one of the songs on his website tommywallach.com.

The Inspiration of Finn

Originally posted on Wattle Lane:

The little dog, Mayzie, in The Wattle Lane novels was inspired by my own dog, Finn. Like Mayzie, Finn is a funny little bitzer with a big personality. He has a tuft of hair that stands up on top of his head and looks so adorable.

Finn was a very mischievous puppy, chewing the corners and legs of furniture, and the edges of every rug in the house. He also managed to destroy every toy we bought him. He took great delight in digging up the back lawn, pulling plants out of the garden, upending plant pots and dragging out the contents. But we forgave him all his naughtiness, because he was only being a puppy, after all. He has a friendly, playful personality, is very sociable and loves to play with other dogs.

Finn is sixteen months old now. He has boundless energy and is still very demanding, but…

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Kindle Book Deal

Where the Moths Dance

Amazon are running a Kindle Countdown Deal for my YA novel, Where the Moths Dance, from June 10th to June 17th. For one week only, Amazon.com customers in the US can buy the ebook for $1.99 (usually $4.99), so if you haven’t already read it, hop on over to Amazon.com and pick up a copy.

Sixteen-year-old Jessie Hale lives in the caretaker’s cottage at the bottom of Gum Tree Hill Cemetery. She feels more comfortable surrounded by the dead than the living, and the graveyard is her sanctuary, a place to escape from her troubled home life and from her mother’s despicable boyfriend, Conrad.

Elliott Rossi has found a way to come back from the dead. He needs to warn Jessie about a demon who can also access the living world and has his new prey firmly in his grasp.

When Jessie learns who has become the demon’s latest victim, she must enlist the help of her friends to battle the evil that has invaded her sanctuary, turning her life upside down and threatening to destroy everything she cares about.

Then there is the small matter of falling in love with a dead boy.