BOOK REVIEW9: ‘The Devil’s Dance’ – Author is Kristen Lamb. Genre – Popular Entertainment/Suspense/General Fiction.

**** This is a 4.5* Read from me.

‘The Devil’s Dance’ was read in practically one sitting; I did snatch some ‘overnight zeds’, scoffed down a couple of meals (while still reading of course) and ‘yeah’, I confess, I had a couple of toilet breaks (no reading in there, thou). What can I say, it’s winter here in NZ. Raining. The perfect weather to sink yourself into a good book! I wasn’t disappointed. And there are some excellent reviews up, so I’ll try not to repeat what others have already said.

I enjoyed this author’s first foray into a work of fiction. And I hoped she’d tie up all the loose ends by the time I got to the final page. I kept up easily with the ever changing fast pace and convolutions of the characters and their storylines and all the while hoping and trying to guess if there would be a HEA outcome for Romi Lachlan with FBI agent, Ben Sawyer? Sawyer is well-trained to take care of business and does so for 12 months before he ‘allows her’ to see him; he’s been shadowing her because she’s guilty by association, and a suspect in a large scale money laundering and fraud case. Yes – there were some surprises, cos there’s plenty going on in this book. And it’s written with a showing style rather than a telling one; great visuals of characters and situations; Romi’s personality and dress code, the ‘birdlady’ at the un-employment agency, grandma, and the trailer park too; the essence and flavour of the scene settings are vivid.

And I enjoyed Romi’s humour and deflection of serious matters from time to time, too. But not everything’s fluffy and cute as ‘six week old kittens’. Far from it. ‘TheDD’ deals with some intense moral issues; murder, theft, tax fraud, under-age sex, drugs and gangbangers to name a few. And while Romi’s no shrinking Texas Miss she wants to right some wrongs, prove her worth and most of all clear her name of all wrong doing; she’s kick-ass and knows a lot about keeping herself and those around her safe and she’s good with numbers; smart as a whip and got a degree to prove it. And yes, she has a soft side too. When it seems her luck hasn’t just run out – it’s taken a hike so far away she can’t remember the last time something good happened for her – bar the time she spends with her ‘memory deprived’ elderly neighbour, Ida, and the random contact she has with Ida’s ‘son’, Ed. Romi knows her options are finally ‘done’ when she witnesses one final act of brutality in her current ‘no other choice’ neighbourhood. Her retaliation is either brave or stupid and it becomes her tipping point. The time to leave has arrived.

Romi calls home. And does the one thing she’d hoped never to do, return to Bisby, Texas, just as poor as she was when she left. Now, practically destitute apart from her clapped out old car and the cash Ida’s ‘son’ pushed on her as a thank you for her kindness to Ida, Romi arrives back at the trailer park where she grew up; unprepared for the mess her family is in – literally – there’s more garbage than she ‘can poke a stick at’ surrounding her Dad’s home on wheels and there’s no-one else left living there apart from her still very belligerent and bitter father, stunningly good looking sister and mad as a snake grandmother. But they’re her family and they’re all she’s got; she’s grateful to them and for the place she used to call home. The trailer park is going to be bulldozed to make way for a business development and they’ve all gotta be gone by the end of the month; as new council bylaws have been issued by Mayor Ferris.

Her father’s sick – or is he? Her grandmother is an elderly kleptomaniac – or is she? Or is it that nothing is at all what it seems in the now ‘growing more affluent by the day’ town of Bisby? Former friends have moved up in the world – gone from one side of the tracks to the other… the rich side. Or have they? There’s something sinister going on underneath what appears to be a property and business development boom in the town. And the answers are all much closer to home than Romi even wants to envisage. She’s always been smarter than some people gave her credit for, especially the one person she should’ve been able to trust to love her unconditionally – forever.

If I had one critique to offer it would be the emotional connection between Romi and Ben didn’t quite click for me; yes they had some chemistry, but there were times when I wanted Romi to let Ben be ‘the man’ (for those who don’t read romance or relationship stories this won’t be an issue). But for me, I’m all about building the love and the relationships. As this is ‘book one’ I assume the relationship will develop further and they will grow that connection as they get to know each other in the future? For that reason alone this is a 4.5 star read from me.

Make no mistake, this is a story about people, lessons, family and friends betrayals, jealousies, ‘justifiable outcomes’ for some, and moral redemption for others. But if you’re squeamish then perhaps this isn’t the read for you?

twitter.com/KristenLambTX

authorkristenlamb.com

 

 

NB: I noted a couple of typos, missed words/spaces, not enough to detract from the author’s writing style/voice or the story for me. ‘Perfection’ is over-rated in my view. We need the copy to be as good as it can be – near perfect, if possible. But if it’s close then that works fine for me. Every single reader/writer/author will have a differing view on punctuation these days and mixing styles seems to be acceptable in this 21st century of texting, tweeting, blogging, or whatever short form of writing it is that people engage in. The crux of the matter is always about writing an engaging story. And this book is definitely that in my view.

 

 

 

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Short Story: ‘Ali’s Family’ – Author is Gaylene AtkinsNZ ©2013.

As I haven’t popped up a blog post, or book review for a few weeks I thought you’d like a short story from my archives just for a change of pace. I wrote this one five years ago for an RWNZ short story competition. It didn’t place. But it’s still a story I like. Hope you enjoy it too.

 

THERE he was two rows from the front and halfway along the pew, I couldn’t have missed him; a familiar sensation whooshed through me ending with that intense gut-tightening feeling that’d made me leave in the first place. He stood tall and straight-backed, head-up at a proud tilt as he looked forward to the minister, singing; shoulders above everyone else. I’d come here with the hope of seeing him as much as paying my last respects to Violet Imogen Carter.

The hymn being sung, now a rising crescendo. While everyone was standing it was easier to lumber my way down the aisle and into the pew as if I had every right to be there, without causing too much of a stir by being late. Smiling to various people may have looked inappropriate to some, but never for Aunty Vi. ‘A genuine smile shared with loving warmth cannot be misread’ was one of her standard lines. To top that, I could clearly hear her saying, ‘and better late than not at all, eh dear?’ If she were here to speak, she wouldn’t have just been talking about my attending this funeral service for her either.

The last verse of ‘How Great Thou Art’ was almost at its conclusion. As some of the mourners lifted their voices in unison to another level for the final rousing chorus I inched and crabbed sideways along his pew, nudging and saying ‘excuse me’ until I was within one person of him.

He’d filled out. His mourning suit fit his ‘new to my eyes’ muscular frame, the once coal dark hair now greying at the temples and above his ears and cut much shorter than I remember him wearing it. It suited him perfectly.

I used to know the shape and form of every naked dip and hollow, the smoothness of his skin; eyes shut; hands roaming, fingers caressing. Then to have that touch returned; gently pulling me forward to hold and frame my face, as he looked at me, intensely, as if I were a precious cut crystal jewel or valuable piece of art and he wanted to commit the memory of the moment every single time, before he kissed me.

And to him, I guess I was worth it. Then.

I’d known the many facets of my personality had caught his interest a long time before we got to the kissing stage. The sun and rain, the blinking rainbows of colour that made me who I was, often reflected against the plain white walls of my bedroom as we discovered the basics of being human. Seeking comfort in one another as we learnt about sex on our journey of discovery. That first kiss had been twenty-one years ago. I’d been a skinny sometimes-introverted fifteen-year-old the first time we’d had sex; a hormonal driven teen with mood swings and manipulation tactics in place. To me, he’d been a butterfly—emerging from the ugliness that was sometimes an eighteen-year-old boy’s only way forward into manhood. I helped his transition. He showed me how to have some light in my dark.

Stepping around one more singing mourner, I managed to squeeze myself in beside him. He glanced at me as I opened the service sheet and tried to sing the final few words of one of Vi’s favourite ‘churchy songs’. There had been a momentary flicker of something in his dark green eyes. Interest? Maybe it was a smile of relieved recognition. I hoped so.

As the hymn finished, I sat carefully. He remained standing and then moved past me, touching my cheek on the way; a soft feather like stroke as he got around my now awkwardly spread knees. Glancing down at the order of service, I knew he was giving the eulogy without having to see it confirmed. I blinked back salty tears and studied the sheet anyway. Sure enough, there it was, Eulogy—Dominick Boyd-Carter. My eyes roved and traced every letter of his name, fluttering heart and breath uneven as goose bumps tattooed up and down my spine.

The smooth cadence of his voice filled my head and took me on an old journey. I closed my eyes and indulged the sweetness of those memories for a second before opening them again to focus on him.

“Violet Imogen Carter wasn’t ‘just’ my mother. She was so much more for all of my life and that of many others. I’m honoured that she requested that I give this, her final speech.” He waved the sheaf of papers at us, “Mum wrote this and told me I could add to it if I wanted—but only if it was funny.” There was a murmur of laughter and whispers of how like Vi that was, from those around me.

“Vi was born to be a mother. She loved children and fostered over one hundred of us with as many as eight children in their farm-house home at any one time. She was a tough disciplinarian and she dished that out with equal measures of love. We all had our jobs and responsibilities within the framework of the home and on the farm. Bill was her rock and dearly loved husband for over sixty years. Their love showed me that being good-parents, in a strong relationship, was possible. Bill’s sudden passing away two months ago set this day in motion. Her heart broke along with her will to go on without the love of her favourite man to share each day with.”

I baulked and choked back more tears. My heart really began beating rapidly now. How come I didn’t know Bill had died?

Uncle Bill and Aunty Vi had been the first adults I’d ever trusted. At almost thirteen, I knew it had been a struggle for them to take me on. I was the oldest foster child they had ever had. At first, I hadn’t wanted to help with the younger children, or the chores for that matter. Vi was patient with me. She let me revert into my shell from time to time but somehow the magic of her ‘ordinary-ness’ always won me over. Again and again.

She was the first person to see and understand that I needed specialist treatment; a ‘head-doctor’, as she called it. Having multiple personalities caused by my need to escape previous trauma, was not something every day ordinary people usually dealt with. But Vi coped with me and the ‘others’ with her usual good humour and extraordinary determination. Over time, and with a lot of help, I was able to phase out the nastier ‘others’ and concentrate on the ‘good’ one. Most people would have said ‘no’ without any thanks, and sent me back. Not Vi and Bill. They treated me and my ‘other good sister’ equally.

Looking up I caught Dominick’s eye as he came back down the aisle toward his seat. I’d zoned out and missed most of his eulogy? As he got closer, it was clear he was going to sit down on my right, not on the left where he’d been previously. I moved along the pew a fraction, glancing sideways at the young person to my left. How could I not have realised? My stomach pitched and rolled downward, all breath stalled in my throat as I held myself in place by sheer force of will.

The young person beside me smiled back as Dom’s hand reached for mine as he sat, his hard thigh pressed against my leg. The rest of the service rushed by in a blur of more silent tears.

There was soon movement as the final blessings for peace and safe passage into the next life were intoned for Violet. Pallbearers stood to take their places. I had inadvertently sat down amongst several of them.

Before I knew it, I found myself outside in the late morning sunshine. It was easy to stand back and watch the crowd as they surged forward to place flowers and other tributes on Vi’s simple pine casket, now reposing in the hearse. I couldn’t bring myself to do the same.

“She’s chosen a cremation too. Then her and Bill will be scattered on the farm together. Under the oldest Kauri tree on the farm, the one over-looking the sea. You will remember it too I guess?” He’d come back to stand beside me.

How could I forget the place where he’d first kissed me. The rest came weeks later. “I didn’t know about Bill—I’m sorry—I should’ve been here for her. You. And…” The words whispered out of me. The pain and sadness of not seeing her that one last time was intense. Gripping.

“You’re here now Ali. That’s all that matters. And I reckon they’ll both be pleased to know it was Vi’s passing that finally got us back together.”

“I’ve never been ‘together’ with anyone.” Even I could hear the wistful tone in my voice.

“You want to be though. And all these years we should’ve been. Vi and Bill knew that.” His voice trailed off as he turned to speak to someone.

He was right. I’d run away from Vi and Bill. And him. It’d been cowardly. And until this moment I hadn’t realised how much it’d hurt everyone. Me most of all because I’d chosen to be alone. I swiped at the edges of my eyes as I faced him.

“Sasha, Tim, meet your mother. Ali—meet our twins.”

Dom’s hand drew me forward, his free arm slipping around my lower back, encircling me. His grip was so familiar, yet not. Strong—supportive and a man now not the boy I’d left. My last twenty years flashed at high speed thru my brain; these beautiful young people were living proof of what I’d missed out on.

The twins had been almost a year old when I’d left; I could feel my heart somersaulting as Sasha smiled at me and then I heard my daughter speak for the first time. A soft caring voice. No judgement. No criticism. Calm acceptance.

“You’re even more stunning in person than in Dad’s crinkled up wallet photos.” Then the young man I’d sat next to, the image of his father, spoke. “Nana Vi was an extraordinary woman who told us you were too. She also said you’d come back to us when you were ready. And that we had to keep believing that. She understood your need to run. She taught us to have patience.”

The forgiveness, trust and love shining out of three of them had all words freezing in my brain. Finally, courage had me reaching for a hand of each twin and looking from one to the other. “I’m so sorry in many ways. In others, I’m not. You had the three best parents possible. Vi and Bill stood by your Dad and you two.”

Dom’s grip firmed around me as he rubbed his left hand back and forth across my lower spine and hip area. Instinctively he seemed to know where I needed some gentle pressure to be applied. It was blissful relief; for a few seconds.

“Please don’t run again Ali. Stay. Come home with us. Come back to the farm.”

“How can I? Look at me.”

“I am.” His smile was unwavering and my undoing. As the nagging lower back pain that had plagued me for the past twelve hours hiked up another notch, my waters broke. I tightened my grip on my two grown children and leaned sideways; into him.

Can a self-confessed ’empath/healer’ live happily-ever-after with an ‘unaware-narcissist’?

I sincerely hope so!

Is there a reason why many narcissistic people choose relationships, marry or spend their lives with empaths? Or vice versa. I’m beginning to realise and think there is. And by ’empath’ I mean someone that has been, or is still; a natural born healer, nurturer, peace-maker, people pleaser – and usually someone others see as self-reliant and dependable; someone that doesn’t seem to need any, or much attention, even. Having recently read or watched various professionals speak on this, or similar subjects, has lead me to a simple conclusion: narcissistic behaviour may stem from ‘Childhood Emotional Neglect’. Or ‘CEN’ now a trademarked term coined by Dr Jonice Webb. Dr Webb is a well-respected clinical psychologist with over 20 years experience of working with real people with real issues.

http://drjonicewebb.com/about-dr-webb/

https://drjonicewebb.com/cen-questionnaire/

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2018/04/is-childhood-emotional-neglect-cen-finally-becoming-a-household-term/

On my road to ‘self-awareness’ I’ve come to know that my darling OH is a ‘low-degree-narcissist with rare outbursts of extreme’ (I’ve just made that term up – not to minimise his actions or words but more because I realise that there are varying degrees of narcissism; not all narcissists are created equal). He came from a family where I believe all the members had been subjected to ‘CEN’ (including the parents; a cycle of behaviour repeated) so, five siblings who were abandoned by a mother who left an unsatisfying marriage with their father, for what she believed would be something better; the youngest siblings were a set of twins aged 5 years, my OH was 9 years, an older sister of almost 12 years and the oldest was a teenage boy of 13 years. And to my eyes and ears they all seem to exhibit narcissistic tendencies from very mild to extreme. I’ve been part of this family for over forty years so I feel I can offer some comment with a degree of knowledge. Looking back now, after reading and researching, I see the patterns of behaviour formed as adults relate back to when they were children – ‘CEN’. My own family has similar ‘CEN’ issues too; but with parents that stayed married for 27 years. For now we’ll work with what is right in front of me; the state of my own marriage on this day.

NB: This is only my opinion and it is not written to apportion blame to any parents anywhere; including my own. We all know there are various and good valid reasons why relationships/marriages break-down.

In our families cases, us children were well taken care of in a physical sense: feed, clothed, disciplined, educated. What else could we possibly need?

In my husband’s family situation they were not told why their mother had left them. In those days children didn’t get told anything. Never mind the fact that the marriage had broken down because love and trust was lost. You don’t stop to talk to the children to explain anything. And as the adult you just get on and do what you have to do to keep food on the table, the power on and the other expenses met. Which is exactly what my husband’s father did. All credit to him. But what those children saw and learnt at a subliminal level was their father no longer had someone to love him; and they had no mother to love them. So the children developed coping mechanisms to find their way forward in life. And outwardly it seems they all did pretty well. But at an emotional level maybe they didn’t do quite so well? I believe at some core deep level my OH believes he is unlovable. This stems from his own experience of ‘CEN’. And only he can change his current thinking and behaviour patterns.

When we first met and began our life together; at some instinctive level I knew he needed caring for and nurturing; loving. And maybe he saw that empathic side of me before I realised what it was too? Whatever we saw in each other back then we chose to make our way forward together. Fast forward forty-three years and my empathic nature has developed into full on healing work for others; and my OH still has the odd narcissistic break-out. These days I’ve learnt not to ‘feed the beast’, ‘rise to the bait’ or whatever reaction he is trying to get out of me to fulfil some ‘CEN’ issue he has and doesn’t even realise he has.

Dr Christiane Northrup speaks at some length on narcissism in her latest book; Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath’s Guide to Evading Relationships That Drain You And Restoring Your Health & Power.

https://www.drnorthrup.com/

Both Dr Webb and Dr Northrup have been key to helping me resolve the healer/narcissist relationship questions I had allowing me to move my part of the relationship forward. And I greatly appreciated the learning from both.

In conclusion, for now, what we know with regards to body self-healing work; if you’re in a relationship that is draining you, and you do nothing to change it or learn about the reasons ‘why’, physical illness is generally the only outcome for your body. So, unless you address some of your core misconceptions or beliefs, all the healthy food, exercise, sleep, holidays, pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, alcohol or money will not make you happy or healthy, either. We all have choices. And they can be fairly simple. Choosing ‘to be well’ means nurturing yourself first; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Looking after yourself ‘first’ is not selfish; it’s self-preservation and completely necessary for you to lead a balanced and happy life; to be at peace within your core-self. So, back to the original question, ‘can a self-confessed empath/healer live HEA with an unaware narcissist’? I do believe anything in this lifetime is possible!

Book Review8: ‘Her Dark Lord’ – Author is Jen YatesNZ. Genre – Regency Romantica.

*****Five Stars from me

A FITTING FINALE TO THE SERIES; FOR A MAN WHO SWORE NO WOMAN WOULD EVER BRING HIM TO HIS EMOTIONAL KNEES…
 
Ajax Beresford aka Lord Knightsborough unexpectedly finds the one woman that has the power to do just that. And she does so without artifice; never having been tutored in the art of wooing a man, Penny (recently widowed Lady Grantwood) has no idea that ‘being herself’…is exactly what Ajax didn’t know he needed. What’s more important, he wasn’t looking for it either. In fact, he’s jaded where women are concerned. He’s older. He’s reclusive. And even a bit grumpy so his friends and cousins think. But once Ajax sets eyes on the Lady who is dressed as a young man (for reasons of subterfuge) and that she packs some serious attitude, along with her derringers known affectionately as ‘little barkers’ (lady-guns that are tucked into specially sewn-in pockets of all her clothing items) he’s smitten. All his protective instincts are roused. And then keeping her safe becomes his excuse for keeping her close… without giving any more away we have one very independent Lady who has no need of a man in her life; her recent accidental widowhood from a man that never made love to her, gives her the opportunity to be in charge of her own life and damn if anyone is going to keep her from doing just that! There is intrigue. There is family deception to be discovered for Penny. There are family secrets to be shared for both Ajax and Penny and there is a HEA.  A great way to finish up the series for the Lords of the Matrix Club – Book 4 – and it’s founder.

I recently posted a review of ‘Her Dark Lord’ for Amazon on their site only to find that I’m no longer a suitable reviewer for this author’s work and the review was not ‘officially’ posted. Goodness me. That was a shock. Yes – I have read this author’s work before, yes we are ‘friends on Twitter’, yes I have written favourable reviews of her work in the past. But here’s the thing – if I didn’t enjoy it – I wouldn’t write any reviews. Yes – we both also happen to belong RWNZ; so I’m also very grateful to say we’re friends in real life too. I don’t generally read Regency Romance. However, because Jen YatesNZ writes complex characters who have flaws, who aren’t always PC, and often with deep psychological issues – I read her work. And lastly, but by no means least, there are often very sensual/erotic love scenes within her stories too. All of which make for a jolly fine read in my view. Friend of mine? Yes. She. Is. And I’m happy to own that!

Just so we’re clear; if you like your Regency Romances sweet and innocent then please don’t read Jen’s work. If you do, then all your senses will be in a riot. Your idea of what is right and proper will have gone to hell in a hand-basket and finally the level of sensuality will leave your system in an uproar!

 

 

 

Book Review7: ‘Lutapolii – White Dragon of the South’ – Author is Deryn Pittar.

*****Very Definitely Five Stars from me!

What on earth can any reader say? All the other reviewers are saying exactly the same thing as me; I LOVED THIS STORY TOO! And that hardly seems enough! It’s visual. It’s transporting. It’s so imaginative. It made me relive the fantasy fairy-tales told to me as a child or read when I got older. I’d love to see Lutapolii in his own movie and I truly hope that one day that happens. Lutapolii and his adventures as he grows from being a puny dragon who feels unloved by his mother, becomes a dragon with much integrity, compassion and a deep sense of what is right and what is not. Luta’s no push-over. He learns to fish and fight. He learns to love; and along with his lovely ladies (each a beautiful dragoness in her own right) Lutapolii’s story is full of challenges, love, jealous bullies, lessons, triumphs and emotional and spiritual growth. This story is full of magic. And there are morals that resonate deeply; sustainability of our rich sea bounty for one, being kind and considerate to others, but fighting to the death if needs be; for the love of family and safety must always comes first.

This was a wonderful adventure! Thank you Deryn Pittar.

 

Book Review6: ‘White Roses in Winter’ – Author is Barbara Meyers.

*****Five Star Review from me.

‘White Roses in Winter’ is definitely a romance in my view; but it comes with much more grit and reality than your average romance genre read. There is suspense. There is action.

There are real character flaws and traits that any reader will relate to or maybe even have had experience with? You will feel empathy for the all the characters and understand why they act as they do. I really enjoyed how the author ‘showed’ the behaviour of the three lead characters in this story; not just giving you the inside track on the two main characters, Jason Pendell and Kerrie Huddleston’s thoughts, but also the ultimate arch rival’s too. Tiffany Preston wants Jason to focus his attention and affections on her. And what she wants she gets. Jason knows precisely what sort of person she is; and she’s someone he doesn’t wish to be around. Jason’s a young guy who is good looking, knows what he wants in life and he’s working hard to achieve that; he lives in a low rent district making just enough money to cover his study and rent and not much else. And he has walled himself off to emotional entanglements. When he first sees Kerrie Huddleston he’s drawn to her innate goodness; but her natural beauty and innocence shines as a reinforcing warning to him. She isn’t for the likes of him. He isn’t good enough for her. He wants to be but knows that it’s unlikely to happen. But he wants her all the same. For Kerrie, she instinctively knows that Jason is someone she could love for her entire life; finding out she is pregnant, after protection fails, becomes a defining moment in her life. And the manipulative actions of her parents has her standing up to take on the responsibility. Much to her parents horror. The backstory of Kerrie’s overly protective and controlling parents, particularly her father, is quite believable. You will have empathy for her mother and her father, too, by the end of the story.

This is also a story about how jealousy and anger can turn into psychotic behaviour over a period of time; Tiffany has been Kerrie’s BFF since they were little girls. Both living and growing up in close proximity to each other and within family groups of affluence and prestige. This is also a story about a girl who has been neglected by her rich parents and given everything money can buy, including her way to escape the lack of love and real unity that her family doesn’t provide; she sees Kerrie as perfect, with perfect parents who dote on her and love her. And this continues to build into what, in the end, becomes the catalyst for the final heart-pounding scenes of the story.

An excellent read in my view.

 

 

 

Update of BIO: after a request from another writer…

I recently had a request from Barbara Meyers on my Twitter feed wondering where she could read my Bio. She’d been reading some of my book reviews, which I post up on Amazon usually and sometimes re-post to my Twitter feed. But her Bio request sent me on a major jaunt through my hardrive files (I seriously need to do some housekeeping in there!) and do you think I could find a Bio? Where the hell had I put it? Eventually, I came to my Nanowrimo information and found one there. Anyway, after giving it an edit and an update I’ve decided to post it here too. Thank you Barbara for prompting me to do this! It’s been a good exercise for sure. Coincidentally, I’d only just read a sample of ‘White Roses in Winter’ and really enjoyed it; downloading the full version to my Kindle just before the Bio request came in. I’ll be sure to post up a review when I’m done, Barb.

http://www.barbarameyers.com

http://www.nanowrimo.org

Bio for Gaylene May Atkins

In 1975, English and Home Ec. were my only School Cert passes. I’m proud to say those subjects are still high on my list of life’s passions today! And miraculously my parents let me leave school at the end of the year—just after my 15th birthday to take an interim job for a farmer as his land girl, cook/housekeeper; while I waited to start my chosen career. Hairdressing College began in early March of 1976. Then I was working full-time.

Fast forward to 1990. By this time, I’ve been married for almost eleven years and living on a farm in the central King Country of North Island, New Zealand. From hairdresser to farmer’s wife in ten short years. During those early years of marriage there wasn’t always happy times. We were unable to have children successfully and losing babies no matter that they are not at full term, is heartbreaking. But you learn to adjust and do other things, and I learnt to nurture others. Animals, people, other family that needed some TLC for a time or friends babies and children. And by cooking meals for all sorts of workers that came to the farm – I loved every minute of it. I also upskilled and worked part time, becoming useful at the local Post Office behind the counter as well as working at the local ‘watering hole’ — a community club and central meeting place. Upskilling again I gained the legal qualifications to run a place selling alcohol, but never took on the manager’s role. I could see that would have been a step too far, and by then I’d gotten ‘over’ dealing with people who drank too much and became obnoxious. Host responsibilities are very hard to explain to people who have maybe had one too many, they just want another drink. And besides that I had other plans…I’d decided I wanted to write a book, or several… but as I hadn’t paid much attention in typing 101 (at Ohura District High School), I knew I’d need to up-skill (again) and learn the basics. Then I’d get a computer and write my books! Which I did.

Who knew I’d end up being such a good typist? Not me, that’s for sure! From that up-skilling experience, I ended up with a full-time receptionist/secretarial position with a government department. This was unplanned but became necessary, as there was an economic downturn in the mid 90’s and NZ farming forecasts and prices were at ‘another’ all-time-low. While working, in my spare time & on the weekends, I started to write the first of several novels. Like many writers, I knew those first efforts ‘were shockers’. Over the years I’ve learnt writing, like anything else, is an acquired skill and it is definitely an art form/craft. But first, you have to learn how to do it. Then you’ve got to practice… get your butt into the chair every day and develop a writing habit.

There are a couple of people (Jaci & Jenny) and one major group that have helped shape me as a writer and a person. The most transforming and influential group is, RWNZ (Romance Writers of New Zealand Inc). Joining this organisation in 1996 changed my life. What a fabulous and professional group of writers to belong to. However, RWNZ is not just for romantic fiction writers; the skills writers of all genres need are taught within the framework of this group. Within RWNZ I became the convenor of the Central North Island C2C (Coast 2 Coast) branch. A voluntary position which I held three times, serving two year stints each time. This group of serious writers (and friends), who write across the genres, have been a constant source of inspiration and support for me; and sincere thanks to you. Over the years, I’ve entered and placed in RWNZ’s competitions and of course I’ve ‘submitted’ and ‘yes’ been rejected, by their traditional romance publishers, too. I’ve also entered national comps (Sunday Star Times – without success, I might add). And been lucky enough to help within RWNZ as a judge over the years and it’s always a privilege to read competition entries. The standard of talent shown in entries was always ‘mind-blowingly-outstanding.’ I wish I’d written every one. Varied topics. And not just romance either… gutsy stories, literary and with heart and imagination. Which is all ‘grist for the writer’s mill’ and made me want to try harder!

http://www.romancewriters.co.nz

Ah, but is she published? I can hear you asking yourself this…? In short, the answer is, YES!

2008 saw me complete a Freelance Journalism Certificate, something I’d always wanted to do and I managed a merit pass. From that I’ve had some glossy articles (with my own photographs) published, some poetry (prior to the journo course), and I’ve done voluntary writing for local organisations for many years – booklets, newsletters, flyers etc.

Flick forward to 2018 and another ten years have just flown by. My darling OH and I sold our 154 ha farming property and moved 10 months ago and we’re ‘reinventing our lives’. I’ve upskilled yet again and learnt about SM (Social Media) and building a ‘platform’ for when you are published. And I’m also in the process of completing my registration to become a Bowen Therapist — body self-healing or energy healing has always been of high interest to me. This particular modality, ‘Bowen Therapy’, is about the body healing itself and your client finding balance in; the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. I follow the Mind, Body & Bowen stream which is a recognized teaching and is part of the on-going education of Bowen therapists.

http://www.nzbowentherapy.org.nz

I love my life as a partner/wife of almost 40 years, a writer and healer. I’m very grateful for the life I’ve lived so far; and the lessons I’ve learnt thus far. It is still my ultimate goal to be multi-published in book-form-digital, audio and hardcopy!