Are we hot to trot?

I always love discovering language/word origins. You know the phrase 'hot to trot'? I've often used it to ask people 'okay, are we hot to trot?' as in 'ready to go'. In the far north of England not long ago, in a place where some of my ancestors once lived, I learnt about the 300 years of border raiding that went on there between warring clans in the Middle Ages. What a long and horrible time it … [Read more...]

Iceland Writers Retreat

When I told people I was going to the Iceland Writers Retreat they mostly looked a) blank or b) puzzled. Why not go somewhere closer? Why Iceland? Why go all that way? Sure, it was a journey, but it was my big treat after getting through cancer last year. My thinking was that I deserved it. Besides, I'm getting older, more ornery and of a mind to think that if you want to do it, do it … [Read more...]

The art of playing with weird words

I've just finished this book by Beatriz Williams, a New Yorker who is very good at writing New York tales. But The Wicked City tripped me up a little as it contains some pretty strange language, as in the word 'liketa'. It comes up sometimes in sentences like, 'That's liketa make my head hurt". Apparently it means 'likely' or 'almost'. Then there's 'swan' as in, "She's a fine woman, I swan". It … [Read more...]

Farewell, faithful garage

I've been house-hunting lately. Cruising in and out of places in the 'burbs of Auckland, I realised that a way of life is dying. Not in houses, but in garages. When I was a kid, most homes had a garage. It was usually single because families usually had one car. They all had a similar smell. It was a musty blend of oil, old rags, dust, paint brushes, turps, weedkiller, wood shavings and rusty … [Read more...]

Secrets of writing success

I met a friend for coffee yesterday and we were mulling over what makes some authors super-hot as opposed to merely mildly successful. 'Look at Ben Sanders,' she said. 'Who?' I said. I don't read crime fiction much and so wasn't up with Aucklander Ben's three crime novels set in New Zealand and his two latest books set in the US. American Blood has been optioned by Warner Brothers, with … [Read more...]