Food, Sleep, and a Good Scratch

I know it’s been a good day of writing when I suddenly realise it’s four o’clock, and I haven’t written a blog post for the day or prepared for tomorrow’s school programme or fed the animals, collected the eggs, filled the firewood box, gotten the mail…

Thankfully, I have an effective alarm to let me know when I’ve gotten too wrapped up in writing and need to stop.




The goats are polite, but insistent. They like their afternoon feed, and let me know when it’s late. Animals are good for that. They don’t get caught up in things going on inside their heads. Life is clear and uncomplicated—food, sleep, a good scratch now and again.

Sometimes it’s important to be reminded of that.

Upcoming release: Backyard Bugwatcher

The final proof…

I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of Backyard Bugwatcher. This kid-friendly book includes all the cool information and identification keys from Insects in the Classroom. A great addition to any bug-lover’s library, this guide complements insect guides like Which New Zealand Insect? and Life-Size Guide to New Zealand Insects, giving you additional background information on a broad range of New Zealand arthropods, and providing keys that can help you learn to quickly categorise creepy crawlies for identification.

Contact me to order your copy, or order on 

Inspiration from the Past

Yesterday I had the opportunity to decipher a letter written by one of my husband’s ancestors who was in California–a gold rush immigrant–to another family member. My husband remembered listening to his grandfather read the letter to him when he was a kid. The letter was blunt and to the point: “I regrett to write to you at this late date of the death of your father…”

The letter was written five years after the death of said father, and goes on to say that the father had been in debt and the letter writer needed money to clear the debts. It is a glimpse into writing style, family dynamics, and general life in the American west in 1887.

As I transcribed the letter, which has been nearly destroyed with age, all I could think of was what a gift it was. What an incredible source of writing material, and a beautiful starting point for a story.

After I read the transcribed letter aloud, my husband began to laugh. He asked to see my latest book. That story begins with a letter telling of the death of the main character’s father…

The letter had been the prompt for the story, and was written by my husband. Until he heard the historical letter read out, he hadn’t realised what had inspired his story prompt, but the tone and pacing were almost identical.

I’ve squirreled away the transcription, and expect I will bring it out again for inspiration some day. It makes me wonder what scraps of my own life might survive the years and inspire others long after I’m gone.