Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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There are many things that are annoying and uncomfortable about airports. Signs that point you in the direction you want to go until you think you’re close and then dry up and leave you having to retrace your steps to try again. A plethora of clothing stores which I don’t need, and a complete lack of comfy seating, which I do.

Even if you’re lucky enough to be on one of the sacred flights that leave on time you still have to set aside a good chunk of your day just to spend time in these infernal hells.

I have Koru club membership, so I keep thinking this gets me out of the majority of the inconveniences that befall most travellers. I keep thinking that. I’ve yet to see any real proof. There’s a lot of nice food and drink freely available, but if you’re travelling at a popular time of the day, say between 6.00am and 9.00pm for example, then you have to trawl around the entire lounge to try to locate two seats together. They won’t be in the area you want to sit – for some reason children accumulate around the areas we usually sit – but you put up with it because you’ve already put in a couple thousand steps, and you didn’t have breakfast because you were going to the Koru lounge so you knew you’d be able to pick it up for free.

Free. Freely available. I’ve obviously used these words as synonyms. Synonyms for very expensive food and drink that you would have to work far harder at consuming to get anywhere near to the amount you spent on obtaining them. Payment made in advance against goods and services that you didn’t even know if you’d ever be able to collect. So, nice food and drink that’s costly available.

And having Koru lounge membership doesn’t stop you from coming into close contact with all the other horrors that the airport has in store. Eight minutes’ walk. That’s how far away our gate was from the main terminal. Eight minutes. We set out thinking that the airport would have catered for all people in that calculation. It would have to take into account the little old folk and the tiny wee toddlers and the obese middle-aged. Yeah, we’d be able to knock this one off in four minutes, maybe three. Maybe five minutes if we ambled.

Well, we didn’t amble and guess how long it took us? Give up yet. In that case I’ll tell you then.

Eight minutes.

The eight-minute walk took eight minutes to walk. I was horrified. I don’t know how the little old folk were doing. Certainly far too many toddlers made the long walk in time. Something about me not factoring in that they wouldn’t be travelling by themselves and therefore might be carried part of the way. I wish I’d been carried half of they way.

We then got to experience the lovely plastic seating in a variety of one style that was available at the gate. I say at the gate, not at our gate, because it wasn’t. Our gate ran out of seating before a tenth of a plane-full of people showed up. But at least we didn’t have to sit on the ground. You may say the people who sat on the ground didn’t need to sit on the ground either, they could have stood on the legs they were born with unless they’re Oscar Pistorius. You may say that – I couldn’t possibly comment.

Finally we were in the third wave of people to be called to board – or last as we called it – and we made the long walk down the airbridge to the plane. It was a dual airbridge, because the Gate had a (L)eft side and a (R)ight side. There was a glass and plastic barrier up to waist height to stop us accidentally going to Niue.

That would have been fine. A high glass and plastic barrier is enough of a sign to me that I shouldn’t cross the centre line. I try to follow the straight and narrow line.

So why in their infinite wisdom did the airport decide to put tempting signs all the way along the barrier extolling the horrors of breaking the implicit rule and jumping over the barrier? Did you really think that Katherine was going to jump over the barrier. At waist height. At her (non) fitness level?

Well Katherine didn’t think of jumping over the barrier. Not till the airport decided to pop into her mind that this option was possible BECAUSE OTHERWISE THEY WOULDN’T NEED SIGNS TO TELL YOU NOT TO DO IT!

Auckland airport if you DON’T want Katherine to jump the barrier, you don’t tell Katherine NOT to jump the barrier. Katherine is tired and susceptible and the last thing that Katherine needs put in her head when she’s been waiting in a plastic crowded hell for three hours after already having flown for an hour and twenty minutes after waiting for ninety minutes at a different airport is ideas about how barriers are made for jumping.

And then you further tempted Katherine. By placing not ONE sign – putting the idea into her head – but a second sign. Now Katherine thinks there must really be something good in this barrier jumping otherwise they wouldn’t go to so much trouble to try to ensure that I don’t do it.

And then just before Katherine has to commit to the plane, what do you do? Just before Katherine has to board the plane that’s going to make her legs swell up and her eyeballs lose the ability to focus and her ears to bubble and squeal and pop and her head to bang like a (insert simile for headache here please – I’m too tired to think of my own [and make it clever guys – put the effort in – don’t just bang in drum ’cause I could’ve done that for goodness sake.]) Just before Katherine has to spend an exceptionally painful and ache-inducing five hours and forty minutes trapped in a metal tube in the sky, what do you do?

YOU PUT A THIRD SIGN EVEN LARGER THAN THE OTHER TWO!

Katherine was forced to seriously consider going to Niue. Katherine got so far as to put her hands on the top of the barrier and try to lift herself in the air to see if it would hold Katherine’s weight if she decided to vault over it like she’d never thought of doing until someone decided to repeat over and over that she could.

Luckily Katherine loves the thought of Mission Beach more than she loves the thought of Niue or the Auckland Airport Police Station. She loves Mission Beach even more than she loves talking about herself in the third person.

So Katherine I kept on my side of the barrier and made it onto my plane. There was horrible things after that which have undermined my ability to think about going to New York at this time next year, but such is the nature of pain that I’ll hopefully have forgotten that in two months’ time let alone twelve months.

And we landed and got off in heaven so it just sounds like whining now. And I’ve even got it off my chest now. Onwards and upwards.

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I have made it to the beautiful mission beach. Finally. Here’s the view from the lounge out over the balcony.

To those of you from Christchurch the yellow glow reflecting off the sand is called the sun, and it’s causing a rather lovely 28 degree temperature at the moment.

Well, as my mother always used to say, you shouldn’t waste a gorgeous day by sitting inside. Even when you’re meant to be working.

See you tomorrow for a real post. For now, just send me your envy to bask in.

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A very exciting day yesterday. After using a couple of working titles that didn’t feel at all right for two months, I’ve finally hit upon a new title that I think fits my new book (okay draft) perfectly.

The most exciting news of all is that now I have a title I also have the perfect idea for a book cover, and therefore have permission to take a break from writing for the next day or so (or week) while I design the perfect book cover. Because it’s no use writing all those words unless someone wants to pick it up (physically or digitally.)

I love full-on proper excuses to stop writing. Guilt-free opt-outs. Reasons that are vitally important for the future security of the writing itself. And I love book covers. They may not be appealing to the general readership at large – but I love my designs, and right now I’m the only person that counts as far as this one is concerned.

So I’m off to pick up my figurative tools and slap on a bit of pixelated paint. Wish me luck.

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My darling strolled across my author’s page the other day – it’s only been in existence for two months so it’s a relatively quick find for him – and was appalled to see that I interact with other humans beings on what he insists on calling the inter-web or the face-net.

There were exclamations of horror at the list of tweets on my page. Why are there hardly any words? What does it do? But what’s it for? And just when it seemed like his disbelief had peaked he discovered my blog feed.

But this isn’t about anything. Why are you writing it? Who’s reading it? Is this a My-Space thing?

Bless his little heart, he got all worked up about it. I tried to reassure him that the general world population was almost completely uninterested in anything I was putting on the Internet (forever!) so it didn’t matter if I put a few opinions and observances online, but the upshot is that I’m banned.

No more twitter. No more blogger. No more.

Once my hilarity subsided I pointed out that I pay for our internet and phone connection so if he liked I could continue to do that and he could continue to not have an opinion that anyone in the household was going to listen to. We’ve agreed to forge ahead on that basis.

Oh, and I assured him I would never write a blog post about this.

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40,000 words reached this morning so I’m somewhere between half-way and two-thirds of the way through my first draft. A wonderful milestone to reach – or at least it’ll do until I reach the actual milestone I should be at now which is a fully completed first draft. A deadline already well postponed from the original one at the end of July, and possibly pushing back publications date to next year unless I get my skates on.

Never mind. As Douglas Adam’s used to say ‘I love deadlines – I love the wooshing noise they make as they go by.’

At least my teenage character is starting to behave herself, and is even showing up places and participating in scene’s in a way I’m envisaging beforehand. Is it her, or is it me? Maybe it’s both of us? (it’s her)

At this rate I may be able to spend more time reading than writing on holiday. That would be a fine treat! My to-read pile continues to grow, though since moving to Kindle it’s far easier for it to get out of hand because you don’t have to move the furniture to encompass it. Still, it’s also easier to give one up and just hit the delete button – not nearly as guilt and failure inducing as lugging a pile of half-read books to the local school for a fundraiser. And not nearly as hard as forcing yourself through something you don’t want to read just because you bought the damn thing and it’s sitting on the floor recriminating you every time you step over it.

But, onto better and brighter thoughts. Monday over – only four days to go before FREEDOM FOREVER!!! For a fortnight. Then BACK TO WORK!!!

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Well, I’ve spent most of the day charging up every single electronic device that I possess in anticipation of our holiday which begins next Saturday. I’ve a cute USB station shaped like a robot, and his little arms and legs were all filled up with plugs all morning. As soon as one charged up I swapped it out for another.

I’ve also dug out the pretty pale blue instant camera that I bought last year on a whim, and last used on our holiday a year ago. Still, I hold out hope that it’ll come in handy. After all, it’s possible that my phone may run out of battery at just the wrong time to take a much better photo with more detail, more realistic colours, and the ability to transmit anywhere around the world at a moment’s notice. Or, I may decide that it’s far easier to carry around a large, heavy, poor-at-taking-photos-but-amusing-at-spitting-them-out camera. Especially as we’re expecting the weather to be around 28 degrees each day (for those of you on Fahrenheit rest assured that’s a lovely hot temperature.)

My bags are packed up with all my summer clothing. It’s a very easy thing to be packed up as I wouldn’t dream of wearing any summer clothing at the moment for fear that my fingers and toes would go blue. Or unless I piled a decent layer of winter woolies over top and cranked up the heat-pump.

Now there’s just the last-day items to remember.
1) Clean underwear, freshly laundered on the night before we go.
2) Personal items that will be used up until the last minute and then tossed in the bag such as hair-brush, fudge (for hair – not eating), toothbrush, and razor.
3) Phone, Kindle, Laptop – into my bag as the taxi pulls up at the door at the ungodly hour of 4.15am (my oversize handbag that is – I need something to do on the flight)

I feel a tiny bit aggrieved that tomorrow I still have to go to work, and will continue to have to for the entire working week, but I imagine that feeling will pass.

By Friday afternoon I reckon. Bon Voyage.

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My last review disappeared off Amazon earlier this week. Poof! Gone forever. I’m trying very, very hard not to take it personally, but it’s quite hard to when it seems so… so… so… personal?

My darling, my one true love, my partner and soul-mate read my book when the proofs first arrived. I might hasten to add that neither of us really believed he would finish it, and I had long ago given up the idea that he would even start. My darling’s taste runs to more of a military bent, and even that can’t be tainted with things such as emotions from people involved in the operation of military equipment, or – god forbid – tales of their families. He and Jane’s Information Group get on very well indeed.

The last novel he tried to read was Insomnia by Stephen King. He’d enjoyed a few Stephen King books up to that point – the ones with more realistic settings and fewer monsters. He didn’t finish this one though. And he never tried again. So from 1994 onwards he has been fiction-free.

He finished it in three days and was quite pleased with himself and with me. When he said how much he liked it, I said “well why don’t you review it then” which he did.

Amazon approved his review, and then took it down overnight.

So, no family members allowed then. Odd, since I am self-published so it might well be expected that for a while the only people I will realistically be able to sell to are family, friends and co-workers.

Onto the friends then!

A friend’s review went up. Perfect. It stayed up for about three weeks, and then it disappeared off the face of the earth.

“But you can always get them to re-post it,” I can hear you say, because I often carry on full-length conversations with a variety of different people that I’ve never met in my head (it’s how I win arguments you know) so I’ll tell you what I’ve already told the inside-my-head you. NO YOU CAN’T.

It’s hard slog to get someone who’ll say something nice about your book to your face to actually type that same something up and put it on a website. That’s five, maybe ten minutes out of their lives that they’re not getting back, and they are quite happy to let you know it.

So my darling popped his up again and this time it stuck. One day, two days. I got used to seeing it there whenever I clicked on my book to see what it looked like (something that I either pridefully or paranoically do every day at least once.)

And then another friend was cajoled into buying my book on Kindle.

(as a short aside I’d like to reassure you that these aren’t the full extent of my sales BTW. I may be a debut self-published novelist which I realise makes me less in the publishing world than the dirt sticking to the chewing gum on the underside of your shoe but I do have some manipulation sales skills)

He read it in less than a day and came over to tell me how wonderful it was. I agreed wholeheartedly with him, and then mentioned how reviewers get into heaven before nuns even. When he agreed he would indeed like to do that I nearly wept with joy. Two reviews. Two. On Amazon. It was going to be a thing of beauty. Knowing how promises fade with the walk out of our front door I even set him up on my computer, logged myself out of Amazon and let him log in, while I tried to stab clickers in the neck with hand-made shivs in the other room.

The review never made it.

Amazon sent him a lovely email saying they wouldn’t post the review, so he popped it onto Goodreads instead. Not only did Amazon not accept his review, they seemed to notice once again that my darling had reviewed my book and took that review down as well.

Brilliant.

So now I have a lovely link saying ‘Be the first customer…’ and a lot of sadness in my little author heart.

Why, Amazon. Why? Surely you could just let them put up their three puny reviews? Is it really so horribly misleading that people I know buy my book and like it? Shouldn’t they have the same opportunity to hold an opinion as the one offered to people who don’t know me? (I realise that I’m making the presumption here that Amazon is not just callously taking down US and UK reviews as well for my book – but I don’t have proof of that, and now I’m starting to wonder…)

If you would like to see some reviews, from people who both do and don’t know me, then feel free to avail yourself of the following links:
Barnes and Noble
Google Books
Goodreads

Those sites love me Amazon – why don’t you?

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05 Sep / Advance voting

This week I got the chance to experience advance voting for the first time. We’re going away on holiday next week so we’ll miss all the fun of voting day. Hopefully we can still stream a bit of the election night fun over in Aussie.

We tried to find out what we’d need to take to the voting booth. Our plane tickets? Our passports? Maybe we’d have to sign some sort of statutory declaration to affirm that we were indeed going to be unable to make it to a voting booth on the actual election day?

Turns out no.

We did need to repeat our names a couple of times to the sole electoral employee manning the booth, and he did have to mark next to our names to make sure that we didn’t vote again, but that was it. Two ticks behind the counter and we’re done.

No queues. No waiting. No verification. I’m keeping this in mind for the next election.

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