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11 Apr / Pizza

Today I had an appointment at my doctor’s office, during which I was weighed and blood pressured. It’s three months until I have to go through the same thing again, so guess what that means..?

PIZZA!

We used to eat pizza whenever we felt like it. Maybe once a month. We’d put through an order on the website and then watch the clock – seriously just listen to the radio and watch the clock – and then make comments every few minutes about how well we thought the driver was doing.

When I was a little girl I obviously dreamed that this would be what my life was made of.

If the driver was running late, we’d talk about the time that after forty minutes we’d received a phone-call from the company saying their driver was in a car accident and they were giving us free chips due to the delay. Not as good as it sounds as they were already free due to the ordering the pizza online when they were still trying to entice people to do that by giving them free stuff. Ah, the good old days.

BTW we also checked to see that the driver was okay before accepting their apologies. We’re not monsters.

If the driver ran early we’d pull faces and wonder if this was going to be like the time that the chips were so undercooked that they had crunchy wee centres, and the oil congealed on the surface. Not in the good way.

And then one day the dream ended. Why is it only when the good times stop that you realise how happy you’ve been?

We tried to order pizza online and thought there must have been a malfunction or a kitchen fire (three times that’s happened over the years, three) as the delivery time was two hours away.

We grumbled and resorted to the telephone; our least favourite method of communication. Or my darling did. Sometimes he just has to suck it in and man up.

Same answer.

We assumed it was a one-off and ordered inferior pizza from another company. They didn’t deliver all of the desserts I paid for. After a long standoff on the phone we received a late night home invasion from a driver insisting on paying us back.

With change.

At nine-thirty.

Thanks.

The next time we needed to order we struck the same problem. Darling manned up again and questioned the friendly new owners. They were never going to have deliveries before 7.30pm at night but luckily we could come by and pick it up.

No we couldn’t. Someone doesn’t drive and someone else has Friday night drinks whether anybody else is invited or not.

We ordered from a different pizza company instead. They didn’t deliver all of my desserts. It gets hard not to take it personally.

I was dragged to a phone call where I was told that if I came into the physical pizza company at some point in the future they would give me a free dessert! I pointed out it wouldn’t be free because I’d already paid for it. Two free desserts! That would still just be the one free and the one I paid for. We reached an agreement; he would put a free credit (that I’d paid for) against my account, and I would never set foot in their physical shop to redeem it.

Sorted.

We were miserable for a few months. We ate pizza from yet another pizza company in grim silence, trying not to complain to each other about how it wasn’t like the real thing, but thinking it nevertheless.

And then we discovered that we pass fairly close by the pizza company we like on a couple of different occasions. One of these is when my darling is returning home from his dentist, and the other is when we’re returning home from my doctor.

And the rest has become habit. I get out of my doctors office, whip out my phone and place an order, and we pick it up twelve minutes later. The pizza we like. The break from it has drawn out attention to just how bloody good it is.

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Posted by Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

There’s a certain amount of courtesy required in public transportation because without it the whole structure will be in danger of collapsing and falling apart.

Even on the bus this is observed with attention to detail, and if it’s not? Well, you don’t want to be seated next to that bus passenger.

So I always find it quite surprising that for $2.90 I receive the same courtesy I afford others, yet for $199.00 it’s entirely absent.

People next to you on the bus stare out the window if they’re on the window side, and stare at their phone on the aisle side. No one sits next to another passenger unless all the double seats have an occupant and there’s no choice. You don’t talk to anyone if you can help it, unless they’re mentally irregular in which case you nod and agree.

On aeroplanes however, these observed rules appear to be unknown to the general populace. Middle seat strangers will pin you against the window with their non-stop chatter knowing that you can’t get off round the corner and walk a little bit extra to avoid the conservation. Sometimes they do this while I have earphones – the world renowned symbol for I don’t want to talk to you – plugged deep into my ear canal.

People in the window stare longingly at the aisle, and people in the aisle crane for a glance out the window.

Nothing however, is as galling as the aisle side passenger believing that they are entitled to two -count them two- armrests.

Please bear with me as I point out the most well known and least applied rule of aeroplane etiquette.

The aisle seat had the aisle armrest. The window seat had the window armrest. The middle seat, and I hope you’re following me this far, has both armrests.

Yes folks. The poor passengers crammed into the seat beside their travelling companion because they lost the toss, or find themselves crammed between two strangers because they checked in late, have two armrests at their disposal. God only knows, I wish we could give them more, and aeroplane seat configuration designers less.

So what happens when me and my darling have played turnabout and I’m sitting in the middle? Armrest theft.

Those exalted aisle passengers with their head in the clouds and their minds in the Fifty Shades of Gray gutter, for some reason forget this most elementary and sensible piece of common courtesy.

Well, no more aisle dwellers. I’m calling you at your own game and fighting you for MY armrest. I don’t care what sorry of day you’ve had, our why your eyes are red and swollen. That’s my armrest and you will respect my authoritah.

And if you don’t think I’m right, then why don’t you press your call button and have a chat to the air steward. Yeah, I’d like to see you try.

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

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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