Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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Yesterday, the book fairy paid a visit to my house.

Admittedly, I was at work at the time and due to a series of instructions – none of them issued by me – the book fairy declined to leave the carton of books at my address, choosing instead to drag them far, far away to a depot out the back of the airport.

I tried to woo the fairy back to my house, with promises of being available on Saturday morning, and a general willingness to sign strange little hand-held computing devices, but – alas – it was not to be.

Luckily, someone else in the household was just as eager to get hold of these little beauties as I was (nag, nag, nag, nag, nag) so drove me all the way out to the wop-wops and back home.

The only thing worse than having to drive out to the back of the airport to collect the books you paid over a hundred dollars to have delivered to your door, is when you drive past the shop you ordered said goods from, on the way to and from the airport.

In this case, at least, I was spared that indignity by way of the actual printing house being located in an entirely different country. Phew. Otherwise, I would’ve railed on at fate for another good hour before letting it all go.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say that I’m now the proud owner of a box of my own books. Yippee. I live in hope that in a couple of weeks I will no longer be the proud owner but may have a slightly higher bank balance.

This is also the first time that I’ve arranged for a hardcover version of one of my novels. God bless Ingram Spark.

This is what the hardcovers look like in the box:
Hardcover Photo

You’ll have to imagine what they’d look like when they’re in your hands, being read.

And here is what the paperbacks look like:
Paperback Photo

I went with a brighter cover for these ones; obvious where the hardcover is subtle. The good point being that the cross on the cover has become more apparent because – in the words of my darling – “I didn’t even realise there was a cross on the cover.” Sigh.

Subtlety. Being lost on Kiwi men since 1964.

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07 Apr / Ruby Syrup

I’ve spent the day chopping up quinces, in order to add them into a pot of syrup and poach them for a couple of hours until they’re done.

I’m completely in love with the way they start off as hard as wood and with white flesh, and end up falling apart when touched and a deep ruby red.

I’m also completely in love with the aroma they produce while they’re blushing themselves done.

It’s like a fragrant, old-fashioned rose bush fell into a pool of sweet brown sugar. Mmmmmmmm.

And then I spooned them gently into sterilised jars and waited until they were cool before packing them into the cupboards and hoping that if I’m careful they’ll last me out the full year.

And the very best part?

I’m about a quarter of the way through the tree. That means I have three-quarters left.

And since I’ll soon run out of preserving seals, and preserving jars, and preserving lids, I’ll be forced to poach up quinces and watch their beautiful flesh run red and instead of spooning them gently into jars, I’ll be spooning them gently into my mouth.

Maybe with a little bit of icecream on the side. Maybe mixed into a nice quince loaf. Maybe just straight from the pot with lashings of syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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I can’t drive. Not even a little bit. I’m not one of those people who can operate a vehicle but don’t have a license – I’m hard core. I don’t even know how to turn the things on or put petrol in them.

I do sometimes wonder what life would be like if I learned to drive. Usually when I’m sitting at a bus-stop in the rain. But these small miseries are temporary – my dislike of the open road is long-lasting.

But I didn’t expect that my aversion would make itself known when playing a game. Granted, GTAV was not in my top list for purchase otherwise I would’ve bought it back when I was using my forgotten-in-the-front-room PS3. Still, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind as I thought it must be pretty good otherwise it wouldn’t have beaten out The Last of Us in so many awards last year.

When the opportunity to redeem some points for the PS4 version presented itself I took the plunge and ordered it. Having today off on leave (because I got used to long weekends and don’t want to let them go) I managed to peel the clingfilm off in little pieces that I then had to vacuum up off the floor, opened the case, stuck it in the PS4 and got ready to rumble.

An hour later it had installed, and I’d been distracted by Farm Heroes instead. Farm Heroes never takes an hour to install – it’s ready when you want it. Large gaming companies could learn something from this.

Eventually I ran out of lives and went back to the PS4. I wasn’t too bad in the first couple of scenes, but then the trouble began. I got in a car.

Maybe it’s easier with a steering wheel, or if you don’t have your finger glued to accelerate, but these things are hard to steer. And I’ve never noticed before that cars have a propensity to turn in the opposite direction to where you want to go when you drive them through snowbanks, hay bales, tractors and trains. What’s that about? Does that happen to anyone else?

It did not help one bit that I didn’t know that there was a reverse on the other side of the controller (in the logical place) and was attempting to do three point turns without the backing up bit in the middle.

And I must admit to being slightly disappointed that when I hit some pedestrians (which I’d kinda thought was maybe some of the point of the game) that police started chasing me. I managed to turn the car off the main highway and straight over a bank (which I’d naively hoped would be another road shaped perfectly in the same direction that my car was aiming) and landed on the roof. I managed to right the vehicle, and then promptly steered it over another bank and landed on my roof again.

When I righted the vehicle for the second time I found myself in the Los Angeles river which was the most fun that I’ve had so far in this game. Why? There was nothing else down there to avoid. As long as I steered between the pillars of the bridges I was sweet. But all good things have to come to an end, and I managed to end mine by manoeuvring into a tunnel. A thin tunnel.

My car didn’t look great when I finally pulled into the dealership lot. No one really noticed except for me. There wasn’t a panel of that beautiful sports car that I hadn’t dented and scraped. I hoped they were pulling that puppy into its disparate parts because it was no longer a real car.

I have a feeling that if you put me in a real sports car right now and said GO it would end up in a similar state. Except I think I would come out of it slightly worse off than my character in GTAV. I was still walking and talking. Scratch that in real life.

.

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06 Apr / Riding a Bike

When I was heading back to full time work after a sabbatical, a few people said to me, “it’ll be exactly like riding a bike.”

This has turned out to be the case.

When I first started riding a bike I came out of it with my fair share of bumps and bruises. Then I protested mightily against the assumption that I even needed to be able to ride a bike and stopped even trying to learn for a good seven years.

Then, at the tender age of twelve, I was gifted a bike by a fat man in a red suit who came down a nonexistent chimney – or so they would have me believe. The option of forgetting about it had to take a back seat to necessity and getting money’s worth.

Gravity hadn’t eased its hold of me in the intervening years. In fact, with the added height that seven years brings to a young girl, it held an even firmer grip over me. There was much falling and crying and gnashing of teeth. There was much storming off to sulk and then having to get back on and try again because my bike wasn’t going to learn how to ride itself.

More’s the pity.

Finally I started to gain some semblance of balance. My directional sense was still a figment of someone else’s imagination and my steering was still haphazard but I could stay mobile and upright for the entire length of the garden.

There was another learning curve when I took the show on the road. Bruises from a fall into soil and grass was bad; the injuries sustained from falling into concrete or the path of a moving car were far worse.

Obviously, I survived. More than once it seemed in doubt but I pulled through.

So, here I am, back at work. Just like riding a bike.

Ouch.

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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Back in October I was walking a forest trail with my partner when I started thinking about people dying of cancer. As you do.
 
We’d been watching a series from Britain where cancer patients had made the decision to donate their bodies to science. The documentary charted the time after diagnosis until death with them and their families, then followed on with the medical students and researchers who used their generous donations.
 
It was a hard but rewarding watch. Having observed my own mother’s struggle with cancer, there were many situations shown that mirrored both her and my experiences.
 
So, I was thinking about this show and about how if I received a diagnosis of cancer I’d need to start “putting my house in order.” I thought about where my life insurance and medical insurance certificates were, whether my will was up to date, and then I wondered what would happen if someone had something really big to get off their chest before they died?
 
What if they needed to confess to a murder?
 
A short time later we arrived back at the car and while I was buckling myself in I thought,
 
And what if someone else didn’t want them to confess?
 
Two ideas, 92358 words, three drafts, a thirty-day Kindle scout campaign, two edits, and one creeped-out cover later…
 
The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton
On Sale Now $3.49
 
The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton Small
 
Thanks to Amazon Kindle Press 🙂
 
 

Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

21 Mar / Exciting Times

Well, the past week has been very exciting indeed. Starting with a nice-gosh I’m excited-type of excitement, progressing to a-good Lord what’s going on-excitement, and culminating in a-I’ve never felt so stressed in my life-excitement.

 

It got my pulse going.

 

On Tuesday (that’s my time, not your time [unless that’s the same thing]) my latest novel went up for pre-order on Amazon. Gosh, I was excited. I received the email letting me know this was happening shortly after receiving my free copy courtesy of Kindle Press due to my nomination of my own book through the Kindle Scout program. (Yeah, that’s where one of my votes came from.)

 

This publisher lark is certainly a new experience. Usually I know before my readers what’s happening with my titles.

 

Reading through my book page on Amazon I noticed that my blurb had been completely rewritten. Oh well, whatever. Thanks for the heads up people.

 

On second read through I noticed that the newly written blurb had a number of instances where the text departed from what happened in the book. One quite significantly departed from a major theme in the book. On third read through I noticed that the newly written blurb had two instances where something at the start of the blurb contradicted something that appeared later in the blurb. And all this in three compact paragraphs. Good Lord, I thought, what’s going on?

 

After dispatching an email noting the five errors present in the new blurb I reached out for help from Facebook (where else) and was pointed in the direction of the Author Central page where I could happily override the details that Kindle Press had loaded up for the book.

 

Feeling rather like I was going behind Mummy and Daddy’s back, I updated the blurb to the one I’d already released on my website and sent out a Twitter and Email blast to let my followers know my book was now available.

 

My job done for the moment I sat back to let the reviews roll in. The first one noted there were a number of typos that could be picked up by spell check in word.

 

Two editors and a proofreader and there had better not be!

 

Luckily, the reader provided a number of examples through to me. Excellent. And they were quite right. There were a lot of errors that could have been picked up spell check in word. In fact, if they’d been present in the manuscript I submitted I would’ve been ashamed.

 

However, they weren’t. So I was horrified instead.

 

Two editors and a proofreader (not to mention me going over the manuscript at least a dozen times just looking for errors) and the final version went out to every reader who nominated me through the Kindle Scout program with errors introduced during the conversion process to turn a word document into an Amazon .azw ebook file.

 

I’ve never felt so stressed in my life**

 

All those lovely free copies are sent out to readers in the hopes of generating reviews for the book while it’s on preorder so when it’s released for sale potential readers can peruse the multitude of reviews in order to inform their reading choice.

 

A multitude of reviews that will say things like: it was fine apart from all the typos.

 

Now, three days after alerting Kindle Press to the problem, I’m sitting and waiting for a message to let me know that the file has been fixed and all those readers have been sent a bump letting them know they can download the alternative, error-free version. Also, to let me know that the version sent out to paying customers once the preorder period is up won’t still contain them.

 

I’m also waiting for an error free copy to send to bloggers who may be interested in reviewing and hosting on their blogs.

 

Yep. This publisher lark is certainly a new experience.

 

(and if you’d like to preorder a probably-error-free copy CLICK HERE)

 

**obviously a lie

Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Today Facebook contacted me to announce that there’d been suspicious activity noticed in my account so it had been closed and locked down until I verified my account details.
 
Coming so soon on the heels of my credit card details being stolen, I could be fooled into thinking that I’m being targeted by some shadowy online mafia.
 
If anyone starts receiving odd blog posts that don’t seem to be related to anything in particular, you could be witnessing yet another cyber attack. Or, you know, it could just be my normal blog. It’s hard to tell.
 
At first, I thought it was just a matter of resetting my password and deleting the post about clothing written in another language.
 
Simple and straightforward.
 
There was also a notice on my ad account saying that it wouldn’t authorise any further transactions on the account until I re-verified my details there too.
 
I figured that would just stop me leaping into another bout of advertising frenzy when a strange idea took my fancy, so I didn’t bother.
 
Later, when I was accessing my author page, my account asked me if I wanted to use my Facebook business to manage my Facebook page or continue using my personal profile.
 
What’s my Facebook business?
 
I clicked on yes, as you do, and discovered that one of my Facebook friends was now the name of my Facebook business account, while another Facebook friend was the name of my advertising account.
 
The little rat-b*****ds. What were my friends doing setting up an account under my Facebook page?
 
Well, of course they weren’t. And kudos on Facebook for realising that I wouldn’t suddenly open up a business account and try to spend actual money on advertising.
 
That was the cyber thieves downfall, right there.
 
I’ve taken out ads on Facebook before, but with such a teeny, tiny threshold that when someone tried to use actual money to run an ad they knew something was going on.
 
Setting up an ad with a budget of $5.00 and then stopping it after it clocked up $2.47? That’s me.
 
Setting up an ad with a budget of $1000.00? Thieves.
 
Please note that if you follow me on Facebook and see any posts in your account that look out of the ordinary I could just be in a strange mood. Then again, I could be hacked.
 
 

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21 Feb / Last week…

The coming week is going to be a hard one for me. It’s the last week of my career break and if I thought I had sad feelings when my holidays were coming to an end, it’s nothing compared to my sad feelings now.

So many things I didn’t get time to do. So many regrets. So many lie-ins which I’m going to sorely miss.

Come Monday 29th February I’m going to have to get out of the bed when the alarm goes and get into the shower, rather than just turning over and falling back to sleep.

Damn.

Didn’t see this one coming.

On the other hand it’ll be nice to go and work somewhere where I can call someone if things go wrong. If the printer breaks, for example, or the computer starts working at a speed reminiscent of snails. If I type in the address for a website and it tries to download code instead of just showing me my book page.

Self-employment means the buck stops with me and sometimes that is no fun at all.

And, of course, the main thing that I’m looking forward to is a paycheque. Give it to me baby! Actual money. That I can spend at shops.

For six months I haven’t bought a single thing which I didn’t absolutely need. Included in that were two overseas holidays but I think they met the criteria. New holiday clothes though, not a stitch.

I haven’t bought a new leather jacket in a slightly different shade of red for six months. I haven’t bought a single piece of jewellery. When I haven’t felt like eating the lunch I purchased at the supermarket on the weekend I have gone without lunch.

(just kidding – I eat the one I’m not feeling like, just with a grumpy expression)

For a brief moment of time I was thinking that since I have a contract with a publisher that isn’t me I might be able to postpone the inevitable. Then I divided $1500 less withholding tax by six months and came up with not a lot of money. And no guarantee that in another six months I’d have the same windfall coming.

So, back to work. Back to working with people. Made of humans. Back to looking forward to lunch and then to 3.30pm so I can leave for the day. Back to fitting the job that somehow expanded out to fill entire days into the three hours between eating tea and going to bed.

Back to fiddling with problems that cease to interest me the moment I’m out the door and wrestling with decisions that only tangentially affect me.

When I left I was an expert in many things which left my brain about the same time I woke up and didn’t have to go to work for the first time. I imagine I’m spending a lot of the first couple of weeks learning a lot of things I wasn’t there for, and re-learning the things I was but only have vague memories of.

Sounds like fun.

Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

During the last six months, I’ve enjoyed the luxury of spending time at home without the needless bother of a day job. It’s been a wonderful break (over all-too-soon) and my chief position in the house has been resident sofa warmer.

Such a nice change to sit cross-legged on my overstuffed, worn leather couch instead of straight-backed in an office chair. Sure, I miss the wheels when I want to cover short distances, but if I didn’t stand up to walk those short distances, my legs might drop off altogether.

When I first started sitting on the couch every day I thought that I might need to abandon it at some point to relieve a multitude of back or hip problems. During the six months before I took a break from work I’d suffered through bursitis, starting in my right hip and soon joined by my left, and worried that my casual posture may cause further damage.

Not at all.

The blessed couch had made me pain-free. Even my stiff knee starts to warm up after an hour of practice at bending. My spine is in alignment, my shoulder and neck haven’t had their usual painful days off every few months. My hips have forgotten what it’s like to be swollen and sore.

Then I sat on a plane.

Due to scheduling conflicts between the airline and our accommodation, our trip over to Australia had an added domestic leg. It was either that or fly into Brisbane with a two-hour drive to look forward to on landing. I was keen, but my darling didn’t seem quite so taken with the idea for some strange reason.

So, there was a short hop up to Auckland. My first time on a hard-backed chair (albeit with ample cushioning) for half a year.

By the time we arrived in the City of Sails, my tailbone was pleading with me to stand. Walk around a bit, it called out. Stop crushing me, it whimpered.

The pain was as intense as the time I’d fallen backwards while foolishly attempting to ice-skate without any ability to balance at all.

“Ice is harder than concrete,” the DJ from the upstairs booth cheerfully informed me. As if I hadn’t worked that out for myself by then.

During the wait at the airport, I acted like a teenage boy and perched in an overly relaxed sprawl designed to keep my tailbone from actually making contact with the chair. I balanced my body somewhere around my shoulders and my thighs.

By the time we landed in Coolangatta, I was in agony. My right hip remembered that swelling and warm pain were something it was good at generating and took to it with abandon. My tailbone wouldn’t even display the courtesy of going numb and continued to complain loudly that I appeared to be SITTING on it, with MY FULL WEIGHT.

There’ve been some things that I haven’t been keen on getting back into. Paying attention to alarms, talking respectfully to real human people instead of yelling at their likeness on a TV screen, concentrating.

Now a new fear has been added to the growing list.

Chairs.

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