Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Rosie/Rachel thing

Very late tonight, I sat at the table and talked to my husband about my difficulty with the careful balance of the Rosie/Rachel thing. He is a sensitive and an astute man who, okay admittedly, has not read the books thus far, but has LIVED THEM!!!

Get the picture?

So, when he said, after I'd trucked up from a few hours of happy writing, 'What's up pup?' I knew my cover was blown.

He, who has lived with me for 21 years and been a writer's widower for much of those years, has my number.

'It's girly stuff,' I say.

He has just watched Kick Ass and Piranna (the youngest is away so he is being naughty) and I can tell by his body language that he is actually open to listening.

'Well,' I say. 'It's just that I need to ensure that the reader is okay with both Rosie and Rachel and - '

Eldest has come in from her date.'Hey! Well, what a night. It was great in the end but phew...' Cue, end of discussion. 'What are you guys doing?'

I start to explain what we were talking about and she rolls her eyes. Not that she is disinterested in the story but that it's so uncool to find her parents awake at 11pm talking about a fiction which hasn't been published yet.

There is the rub. The final part of this story has not been published but it is consuming my mind and those who have invested time into it: the babes, my agent, my family, those who have read and loved it, fellow writers......

So, the short answer to the pithy quip from the teenager. 'I'm writing. Na!"

And, just as both my daughters are as different as (excuse the cliche) chalk and cheese but I love them both, so it is with my writing of Rosie and Rachel.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

this is a first

I've stopped reading the crap historical novel I was given by my loved and adored friend. It is really really boring. Well written - no question about the technique but I am bored! bored! bored!

Hubby said: read the ending to find out what happens. I did. Okay. Boring.

Sorry but beautiful cover and first time author but I have better things to do during my holiday than read boring fiction.

So, I'm off to pick up some Anita Shreve.

And, spend some time writing.

What I don't get is how something as BORING as this book gets published.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Organising the family. Organising a historical novel. It's pretty much the same thing for me

Though I am a words person, I'm also visual. I need to see words written down, map directions or the cartoon. I need to see. See. See.

So after a wonderful time writing yesterday, I came to the realisation that I needed a map for this final book.

The same was as important as I organised the roast lamb, vegetables and dessert for the family Christmas lunch. I wrote down a map: of the menu; of the things I wanted my husband to do; a list of what I wanted each of the girls to do.

After the opening of prezzies and going to church and having Christmas lunch, I set about 'mapping' the story of Birthright.

It has been an exciting past couple of hours because it has exposed gaps in the narrative. No, that's not bad. It shows me what I need to do to take what is imbedded in my mind out into the type face so that others can truly appreciate this story.

I do not have a story as laiden and complicated as Dianna Gabaldin's but I also do not have a tedious story weighten with atmos and detail which I have found in a number of 'historical fiction' books of late.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

writing takes seventeen times as long as reading

Ok. I made up that statistic but it feels like about right.

I'm reading a fabulous book at the moment during the day (along with running around after family and looking after pets) and writing in the evenings and early mornings. I have written heaps and it's taken me HOURS! I've progressed 11 pages. I sat in the doctor's waiting rooms and read 38 pages of the fabulous book I'm reading and it took me 15 mins!

Needless to say, the comings and goings of Birthright are in good hands (I say this with arrogant confidence) but this is becoming a huge book. There are characters who are pushing their way into my story who demand they have a significant part.

William Graham
the Thane of Cawdor's son
and others who I haven't met yet but I feel are just lurking for their chance to burst into the story.

Sheesh. Can't a writer have some control?

Anyway, it is a few days before Christmas where the whole world turns gaa gaa. Me, I'm a bit of a ba humbug. The only special days for me are birthdays. And, I have friends and students struggling with the European disasterous weather so I don't really feel inclined to be particularly festive as I worry about them.

Here in Dunedin, it is unseasonally hot (and windy).

I wish all who read my blog a happy holiday because, damn it, we all deserve it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Like shooting a movie is the writing for me

I am not writing in chronological order but rather the scenes as they come to me because these are the strongest ones.

I wish I could draw the technique I use as my way of writing. I've said it before that I see the novel as being like a large canvas - maybe sort of like even the Bayeux Tapestry. I've sketched the overall outline (where the horizon is, what's in the foreground, background, the shape of the terrain aka the synopsis) and drawn in the rough of the details for the entire piece (people, trees, large objects and notes on action aka chapter synopsis). Some parts are already in coloured detail - perhaps needing a touch or two when the whole is finished. Some parts have more detail or some colour but need more layers.

I come to the canvas, look at it, and begin to work on the section which is upper most in my mind - like painting the details of the leaves of a particular tree.

And, always, I'm mindful of why I am writing this (apart from the fact that I have a contract with a deadline *grin*:

I am writing Fleance into life-changing events which will grow him into the man his father and even Magness saw he could be.

And, a happy ending of course.

Once the entire story is told, I will go through the manuscript in the same way at the continuity editor of a film does.

And, who knows, sometimes the ending surprises and if it does then I will have to go back and look very carefully at the start.

I gave myself four days off writing. Worked in the garden (blerk!) with eldest daughter and her boyfriend, took the dogs to the dog park every morning, baked cakes, cooked (yeah, really!) because my husband was away in Sydney for the week, helped youngest with her sewing (I hate sewing but I am reasonably competent having learnt at school and then worked Uni holidays in a sewing factory).

But, have been in email discussions with the talented Helen Lowe who is being very disciplined to finish a chapter and agreed that writing 100,000 in three months is do-able but tough going.

If she’s going to be beavering away, then I have no excuse. And, I did it once with Banquo’s Son.

A lot of people are hanging out for Birthright and I better not disappoint.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The curse of being a writer and an English teacher with a story to tell

Sometimes, I get in the way of Myself. I am best, as a writer, to just pour it all out and come back later to fix up the clunks. Trouble is, lately, Myself has been second guessing me and arguing with me and, frankly, Myself needs to go and do something else for a while so that I can go forward without interruption.

Currently, Myself has placed highlights and questions in square brackets all through the latest section. She's pushing my hands off the keyboard to add her comments and it's very distracting.

Why? It's because Myself recognises gaps and problems and places where she wants more for the reader and is not content to let me, the author, just run with the narrative.

At least, I suppose, Myself's comments add to the total word count. *grin*

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The 4am wake up call

It was so exciting. The middle of the final battle. Blood, sweat, screams. Men grunting and breathing deeply and, with all their might, using their failing strength, to save themselves or others as others lay dead or dying at their feet.

I saw it. I heard it. I could smell it as well. Then, the seriously clever interchange and I was going: what? cool! And then, more.

On it went and I was so excited I switched on the lamp (it was too cold to get up so I leaned over, grabbed pen and my note book and wrote this:
Battle Feild.
F fighting - injured.
C saves F
Rebel Leader: You are a traitor, C!
C: depends on whose side you stand.
RL You have betrayed your brothers
C Better that than my king or country.

F - lots of blood loss. Massive fight. Everyone watching
[censored - heh heh]

Then comes the questions. Questions about motivation and reasons and reminders.
I am so excited.
Squee (although my agent has asked nicely that I not be too mean to Flea.

The night before, I had a wonderful insight into an important moment between Fleance and his girl. Good stuff.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to write an historical novel, work full and still run a family with teenagers.

Heh heh. I thought that would get your attention.

Quite frankly, I don't know how I have done it two times in a row. I'd rather be reading than writing most days. Currently reading the fabulous You Against Me by Jenny Downham, the author of the amazing book Before I die. It's so much easier to read a great story well written than to tell a great story and ensure the writing is perfect!

Here are my needed tools:
Publishing contract. Check.
Deadline. Check.
Fantastic story outline in detail. Check.
Chapter breakdown. Check.
Research sound. Check.
Motivation. Um. Well, I need time stretching out forever to get up the momentum. It takes me about three hours to get into the narrative and, apart from eating and sleeping, I really can't afford any other distractions.

And, the distractions have been wonderful weather, the needs of my children and husband (and the garden and the dogs; oh, and the cats). And the expectations of Christmas. To be honest, this a time of year I loathe. Never bought into the Santa Claus thing with the kids; hate the commercial nature of things; cringe at the family dynamics, the expectations and awkwardness of things. I think people (family) should behave in the so-called Christmas spirit every day of the year.

I would rather run away and write but that is not how things are and so I have to do what my title says: write a novel, (soon not be working but be on school holidays) and look after my family.

How to write an historical novel in a year? Do nothing else but the essential: eat, sleep, work, mother, write. The garden and the dusting just become ways to help me during my procrastination phrases.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm avoiding doing what I need to be doing

I have more time now. The kids have finished their school exams. My students have finished their school exams and I've written the final reports but. Um. But. The weather here in Dunedin is SO good.

It feels like a sin to be inside when it's so sunny and warm outside.

Also, I have nailed the first 21,000 words ie I've set up the first act really well and now I have to delve into Act Two. Which is hard, cos hard stuff happens.

I am such a procrastinator!

Sorry. Birthright WILL be out on time. Promise.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

research night

I walked home from my fav restaurant (yes, I know, two days in a row is a bit much but I was meeting with a visiting friend *TK waves to Belynda*) and my mind was working through a technicality I was having.

When I got home, I rang my friend Jo (Bloodlines is dedicated to her and her husband) *TK waves at Jo* who yet again, gave useful suggestions.
I've spent two hours researching this particular issue. Here are my notes:

aka St Anthony's Fire.

Symptoms: severe burning in limbs. Gangrene/loss of limbs. Hallucinations. Strong uterine contractions, nausea, seizures, unconsciousness

Monks applied balms containing tranquilizing ingredients and circulation stimulating plant extracts.

Controlled doses used to induce abortions and to stop maternal bleeding.

Hospital Brothers of ST Anthony founded 1095

was passed through lactation

red powder. Easy to miss in dark rye-flour.

Incubation period 2-3 hours after ingestion

Needs a cool wet climate.

1035 - Outbreak in France. 40,000 died. (Henri)

The wealthy not affected because they ate white bread

Farmers brought produce to market in the larger towns but poor people bought the dark bread. (Perth and Dundee)

Witchcraft blamed. See thesis on cause of Salem Witch Hunt

Yes, dear reader, we are in for one more wild and final ride. WAHOO

What is it about a national disaster and grief..?

In terms of the writing, I've been a stunned mullet since news of the Pike River Mine disaster. Yet, in the past few days, something within my mourning and my reading of others' grief as well as dealing with the day to day getting on with life of raising a family (of teenagers - Yes! please feel sorry for me) some gold has come through.

Some nuggets of universal truth of life has presented itself. So much so that I've actually gone - whoah. Who said that? Birthright, I predict, will be the book that will be quoted (*author squints and prays*)

It is a story which confronts, smack on, our worst scenarios: unexplained and unjustified death of children, spouses, parents. Disquiet justified or not about the responsibility of those who hold the power. The complexities of relationships and the allegiance to them.

I have shed many tears these past thirteen days - some of them in guilt that I am not qualified to grieve but such is the way the world works, there is never a license on grief.

Every man downed deserves his story to be told. It is my wish that the story-tellers among us grab a hold of them and put their place in the sun.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A crap-tard day turned into some wonderful writing

I have been working hard at being healthy. (I wonder if it is a response to the people dropping dead in my Scotland). I've walked every morning, drunk bottles of water each day, eaten loads of salad and lean meat. And, though I've lost two inches from my waist, I've gained 500grams. I burst into tears after I got on the scales.

Next was wrestling with the complicated technology which is our reporting system. I finished them, finally, thank goodness.

Then, to have YET ANOTHER email from a teaching colleague to alert me to the fact that some [and I'm going to say this publically] pathetic, ungrateful student has been posting negatively about me on a website (and remaining, of course, anonymous) finally did me in.

She has been attacking the very essence of what makes me, I believe, a damn fine teacher. Me, who has twice been nominated for teacher of the year (thanks Andrew and Jeff and then the girls from Kelston). You see, the way I see it, if you've got something to say, say it but damn well stand behind your comments.

People have told me to ignore it but, such is the power, now, of the internet, if you google my name, this site comes up on the first page. This girl is welcome to her opinions (seems she doesn't like that I tell stories about my life to illustrate teaching moments) but, to say so, so nastily, on a public forum hiding behind anonymity, really does my rag.

I've been teaching since 1988 and I still have students contact me telling me how much they appreciate what I did for them in that (whatever the date) classroom. Thousands upon thousands of teenagers who rank me as one of the best teachers they ever had but I am so disgusted by this ONE student who is, for whatever reason, bagging me: did I give her a low mark in an essay? Tell her she needs to stop gossiping in class? Growl at her for sitting on the desk (way tapu!)? - again throwing nasty comments my way hidden behind a blank canvas.

I write reviews and I put my name at the bottom. I sometimes write letters to the editor and I put my name at the bottom. If my children want to express an opinion, I make them put their name at the bottom.

To have to walk amongst a (largely) wonderful group of students, knowing there is one who is spreading poison, is distasteful.

Instead of settling at home, I went to my favourite restaurant and wrote five pages of better than sfd. Squee.

If 'that' student reads this post, I invite her to be brave enough to come into my classroom (perhaps with a friend) and discuss her concerns.

I'm ALWAYS open to improvement. But, not taken from glib and hurtful jibs on a website.

Which is a lot like how Fleance is feeling at the moment. He's hearing stories that some are not faithful and are actually working to create his downfall. He does not know who these people are but, thankfully, he has faithful and loving friends and family who remind him of his excellent attributes.

I welcome constructive criticism and have received it many times over the years. This year alone, students have felt comfortable enough to approach regarding concerns about the possible consequences of comments I have made. Brave girls indeed and I thank them. I may not always agree with their assessment of the situations but I am pleased they feel they can come to me.

Fleance has just said as much to Rachel. Bring me your complaints. I would rather hear it from your mouth than from another.

Rachel says: such is human nature that it is more satisfying to lob a stone or mud from the protection of a wall that to hand it to a man.

Hmm, and that is how it is with anonymous comments via text or websites.
The final word: Fleance: remember Preston. Tania: the girl is a wimp and has issues. Pray for her.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bloodlines is about to have its place in the sun, again.

It will feature in the top 50 books for 2010 in this week's Listener. Great stuff and am very pleased.

But, me? I'm doing anything but writing. I've mowed the lawns (twice). I've baked muffins and made dinner many nights. I have wiped down the surrounds of the door to the bathroom ( sheesh, no one else notices).
But, most of all, I have been shepherding my two daughters and myself and hubby through the terrible grief which has washed over us re the Pike River Mine disaster.
Big questions: why does God…?
And there in lies the issue. My thoughts are that God does not do but God has established rules – natural and corporal and has given mankind freedom of will. He is not to be blamed for this terrible result but I am certain the heart of God is grieved by the loss of life.
It sucks – majorly. It has been so awful that I have had to turn off radio and telly and I will not read the paper because my heart cannot bare the grief. I am so thankful for our poets and our commentators who are putting the stake in the ground. And, yay for U2 for their acknowledgement.
I will pick up my ‘digitised’ pen soon but I have given myself permission to sit and weep for the stupid loss of life and ache for the mothers and wives who will never see their men again. I hugged my man tonight when I got home from school. We stood there, both of us, silent and that hug and silence meant so much especially as he had just had a victim support callout to a suicide of a mother just up the road from where we live.
It might seem trite to say this but because our family have had its fair share of pain and suffering this past year or so, I get the question: why? And, sorry to say, the answer is, mostly 'cos shit happens' and we're not talking about dropping our buttered bread.

Rachel's question as to the why at the start of Bloodlines, I think, echos what most of us are feeling at this time. Maybe we try to categorise the 'value' of the men who died. The young Joesph Dundar who is the subject of Gary McCormick's poem; Mary Mccullum's stark poem reminded me that, despite the media, we are talking about 29 individuals, 29 men whose faces are now public when we never knew them before.

My personal view is this:I would like God to interfer and stop people dying like this. Me and God have an appointment to discuss such matters but at the moment I'm not ready for such a meeting.
We weep with the people of Greymouth.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

moving on slowly

Hey everyone
I've knocked past the 20,000 word mark and have actually not followed my own advice: I've not written the entire book as SFD (shitty first draft) but, because I know the story, have been shaping and reworking the first few chapters. I'm pleased with my output and pleased with what has come out of the woodwork (ha ha lol - paper comes from word... ok, I'll shuttup).

Anyway, Birthright is moving forward but this is going to be a massive task - the final book in the trilogy; the ending with all of the threads which I knitted into the first two books, tied up. I personally think this is going to be a BIG book.

Meanwhile, continue to tell all your friends and relatives about the series and, by the time it is as big as HP or Twilight, you can be smug and say: I was there from the start.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A cartoon of a scene from Bloodlines

I have recently discovered xtranormal which is a wonderful site and one in which I intend subscribing to so that I can do more.

Go here to see the animation of a skit I wrote a couple of years ago for students to highlight the need to specifically answer the question. It was written with Monty Python in mind but I had to modify it a bit for the American accent.

Go here to see the scene where William of Normandy (who later becomes William the Conquoer) and his wife Matilda talk about their getting together. Sorry it's set in an office enviornment rather than a 11thC French castle but I'm just starting out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

After I have submitted Birthright....

I am not going to lock myself into a timeframe. It is too stressful (especially as I have a full time [necessary] paying occupation).

In the past, I have written my novels in the gaps in between raising my daughters and doing my job. The pressure of a deadline actually makes the writing process less than enjoyable.

Once Birthright is done and dusted, I intend retreating to ticker with some works in progress without the pressure of 'you must...' kind of thing.

I created a cartoon segment for a section Blood Lines. When it's uploaded, I will post the link.

Now, off to bed. After all we goddesses do actually need our sleep

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Thane of Cawdor is back!

Such is the nature of writing that one never knows who one is going to meet on the journey. This morning, while mowing the lawn, a young man presented himself to me. (In my head; not actually standing on our property.) A complex, somewhat difficult to understand man/boy who had just recently inherited his father's title: the thane of Cawdor.

Fleance had never met him until 'tonight' (ie the night in the opening chapter) but knew his father to be a strong and fearless warrior (evidenced in the two major battles our king has been involved in).

Personally, I'm not liking the kid but my author instincts tell me to just wait and see. This young man could turn out equally to be friend or foe.

Excitment much!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

T.K. Roxborogh on da radio....

My ums and ahhs aside, I am pretty happy with the comments I've made about Bloodlines.
Go here to listen to a radio interview that the wonderful Vanda Symon conducted on her monthly radio show Write On

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nothing new under the sun

One of the frustrating things of being a writer (and, trust me, there are many) is thinking you've come up with this brilliant idea. Or way of describing something. Or turn of phrase. Only to learn that someone far more intelligent/famous/clever/popular has already said it.

If weren't for Facebook and Youtube, I probably would never know but this is what happened tonight:

Fleance is rarking up his disingenuous guests. He's telling them that they can't hold on to the what has gone before - the way of operating; holding on to past hurts and grievances. I.E. - get over it and move on. Yes, he concedes. Things are not going to be easy but it's time to change the way we think because the old ways of thinking have brought us pain.'

I think that's good advice, personally.

Cue being reminded, via Facebook, of a speech by an inspirational educator who recounts this quote:

'The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty. And we must rise with the occasion. Our case is new so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.'(Abraham Lincoln, 1862)

Maybe I should just get Fleance to say 'Wot he said, innit?'

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bloodlines still on the best sellers list - whoop

Below are some of the wonderful responses I've received this week:

Hi Tania
I just had a Year 13 student return Banquo’s Son and she was positively gushing about how fabulous it was. She even told me how she had to take it to work and she was so engrossed in it during her break-times, that workmates were hassling and teasing her and she didn’t even hear or see them! Honestly, she was panting with enthusiasm. Isn’t it fabulous?
Julia, Librarian, Kerikeri High School)

I read Bloodlines, by the way, and it was REALLY good! I especially liked the very ending when it turned out that the wedding was for [censored]and [censored], not [censored]and [censored]. Even after I finished the book I was still just thinking about it, because I just didn't expect it at all!! I also loved the part where [censored] came in and saved [censored], because I was just boiling from anger at [censored], because even before he pretended to be a traitor, I sort was having bad feelings about him because he seemed sort of untrustworthy in a way. So when he was pretended he was bad I thought I was so clever because I had known all along! But then it twisted again! And he was good (well better than good really, because he sacrificed his own life for [censored]!) and I found that I liked it much better that he was good because I was caught so surprised by that too!!!
From Harriet Y9 Student from St Hilder’s Collegiate)
(** sorry censored bits so that I don't spoil things if you haven't read it yet. - TK)

I just walked into Whitcoulls as they were unboxing the lastest new releases and SQUUEEEED rather loudly at the sight of bloodlines. The sales lady was like whaaat. So I told them wat a fantastic nz author u r and now they reckon they should make it more prominent lol
(via txt. Aimee, Y12 (one of the babes who now lives in central Auckland)

BTW have just finished reading Bloodlines. You are one hell of a story teller! A great saga. Xx
(via txt. Fleur Beale, award winning NZ children’s writer with international acclaim for her books I am Not Esther and The Remarkable Girl )

Monday, November 1, 2010

Finding Fleance

For the past few weeks, I have been working and re-working the first two chapters of Birthright. Why, because I need to get into the boy's mind again. I've been out doing other things and now I want to ensure that these opening chapters set the scene and tone properly.

I'm almost there. I'm liking his honesty. That, as he says,
Public displays always make him anxious but he had learned to apply the skills taught by Magness. To participate successfully in the cross-bow competitions all those years ago. Though all might have eyes fixed on him, a truth he came to understand very quickly was that they were not seeing his real self but rather what they expected to see in the role he was performing. So, whether it was on the range, addressing his soldiers or Scotland’s people, he was able to fulfil the expectations of his audience and keep his heart protected from evil.

But like all things solid and good, laying the foundation properly is critical to the rest being solid.

I wrote part of a chapter placed about half way in (though I haven't written the inbetween stuff) and cried for two hours. I think this is a good sign.

I have on my shoulders two voices: Vicki and Josh (and they are not evil but good) urging certain things of me and reminding me of what needs to be done and how.

This helps.

I will now stop avoiding the actual task of writing the third book and actually, um, go back to writing it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I have no idea the type of person who reads this blog but...

I assume it is some of the following: booksellers, reviewers, readers, potential international editors and, my friends.

*Tania waves*

What follows is a short rant:

The internet is evil! Evil! It is so deliciously wonderful that I, an author, who has far better things to do (just look at my overgrown garden) actually puts time on FACEBOOK ahead (see!)ahead of solving the problems of my 11th Century characters.
I read blogs – there are many interesting ones and I learn a lot.
I respond to emails (and send some in the hope of a reply). Actually, not counting my day job (teaching) I get between, 17-25 emails a day with regard to me as an author. Not counting the teacher and personal emails. They figure in the 50 or 60s.

When I first started writing, I was impressed that I could type my manuscript straight onto the computer, print it out and send it via post (that’s like, put in an envelope, address, seal, place stamp and then put in post box). Edits came to me as hard copy (a word unheard of to me back then). How else would I receive them?
To contact overseas required getting up in the middle of the night to phone. That is: push buttons on the telephone!
I adore the ease of this new age but it does bring with it some distraction. We never had a tv for the first five years of our marriage and only bought one because of the first gulf war. The tiny 14inch had its place and, when the children came along, they could not have Nintendo or play station. We were model parents.
This weekend has confirmed why we did the right thing all those years ago: we hired an, um, I think it’s called an x-box. The girls have tried to be glued to it all weekend but I’m being mean and shutting it down every 30 mins.
‘Mum!’ one cried. ‘Just go write your damn book!’
‘Don’t speak to me like that,’ I responded, the guilt already creeping in.
‘Sorry. But now we’ve returned the horse, we can play without all the angst.’
She has a point. Real horse was returned on Monday and now our afternoons are free again.
As to the online stuff? Boundaries and goals. Goals and Boundaries.
Critical to the survival of writers, readers and their families.
I love the internet. Wahhh. But, I’m sure it takes away time I could be writing.
This post took two hours to construct cos I was up and down what with cooking dinner and feeding dogs and looking around the blogsphere….
I’m a bit tired now. Might call it a night at go to bed.
Fleance can wait while I catch my breath.
Naku noa
PS I'm sure there will be typos in the above post but I have to move on and write the next damn book. (tea was cooked btw and all who imbibed were happy).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bloodlines Number Five on the bestseller list

this is very pleasing. Still getting lovely emails and messages left on the facebook page from people from all over saying how much the LOVED Bloodlines - more than they loved Banquo's Son.

I have just polished the first 5,000 of Birthright after the detailed notes and comments made by the girls and am very happy with it. They have giving it the thumbs up as well with some suggestions for further tweaking which I agree with. A month or so down the track, I might put up the first few pages as a teaser.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reader's response

Gave one of the babes and my eldest child the epilogue and first ten pages of Birthright. Neither were particularly impressed. Both said I can do better. Eldest said: Mum, we need to be REPULSED by the witches. And then terrified when Hecate turns up. What is it you are always saying to your students? It's all about reader response!'

Babe said lovely positive things but also specific comments about voice and characterisation.

Thanks to Mackenna and Penelope. I do think the bones are there but I really, really appreciate your honest reader response. Now gonna go back and have more fun with the witches, and girls, make the first chapter un-put-downable!

Even though there is a wee person inside of me going 'wahhhh', I have faith in these two to care enough to take very seriously their comments.

Currently having fun trusting in my own author's voice (this was the problem, I think, that I was changing the way I really write to please what I think others expect!)

It is like re-painting a house (I know about such an experience having spent a couple of summers working for painters). You've got to ensure the energy goes into the preparation and then make sure the ingredients are top notch.

Anyway, I'm appreciative of the advice and now will spend the next few days re-working what I have been polishing.

Am buoyed that Bloodlines is doing so well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I know it's not about 11th C Scotland but (well, actually...)

I am in Naseby. I would shout out that this place is the best place in New Zealand. I am qualified to make such an unscientific judgement because I have been to EVERY place in my country save Gisborne (sorry East Cape - plan to come soon and I've watched 'Whale Rider' and 'Boy'...). Ironic really as I am Ngati Porou.

Why is Naseby so great? Because, it don't matter the season, there's stuff to do. It don't matter the season, it's completely acceptable for a writer to be holed up in her room writing. There is a great cafe and two wonderful pubs. There is the internationally recognised curing rink (and in winter a real frozen lake one to skate on. Oh, and the luge). There are biking trails and damns and birds and stuff and it's quite like the highlands of Scotland I am told by those who know.

It's a place where you don't lock your car or your house. Here in the south, they call them cribs but I'm from the north so they are baches for me.

Unfortunately, Naseby is so far up the highlands that there is no cellphone coverage and the only reason I am able to be on the internet is because I'm staying at a motel. There is no doctor and no pharmacy which is a pity as, yet again, one of our number came off his bike (why is it always the males?) and we had to rush him to the local hospital but, of course, being NZ and it's administration of essential resources, didn't have x-ray facilities so the injured and support team had to go to Clyde.

As I write this, the birds have decided that they will come awake (lazy things) and I’m pleased to report that there was not a broken bone.

I have been having fun polishing the first act of Birthright and Jo, who is with us on this holiday, has yet to read. She may or not during this wonderful long weekend but I am VERY pleased with my writing.

The witches are SOOOO much fun to write.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How wonderful when you recieve a 'tweet like this:'

OOh just spotted the latest Tania Roxborogh on the binding shelf. Blood Lines. I am so taking that home tonight. (from the Central HawkesBay Library).

It's always a good sign when one gets a librarian excited.

You know you've made progress, in the world of writing, when the phrase 'the latest [insert your name]. It's almost celebrity status. Like 'Have you seen the latest Bruce Willis movie? or 'Have you read the latest Diana Gabaldon?'

Kinda like branding.

In other shameless self-promoting news, a steady line of students are arriving at my desk with copies of either Banquo's Son or Bloodlines (sometimes both) to sign. Loving also, hearing them discuss the characters with each other, tell me how much they loved the book and nice to hear their mums, nanas, cousins..... are reading the book now.

Book sellers are making a good job of displaying both titles (from the txts I'm getting from friends and family around the country). One store manager told tell me the books are selling steadily and another reported Bloodlines was the third best seller for their store.

My youngest spotted someone at her high school walking around with Banquo’s Son. She told me it was too weird. ‘You’re everywhere, Mum!’

The writing/editing is happening about a page a night at the moment. I just have too much other stuff crammed into my days.

We are off to Central Otago tomorrow for three days and I hope to do lots of work then. I might even let my friend Jo take first peek - but only if I'm brave.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Latest review of Bloodlines

"Love and duty collide in this thrilling continuation of the story started with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, then picked up by Roxborogh with Banquo’s Son. Blood Lines is a story of honour and betrayal set in historical Scotland and beyond. Readers who enjoyed the first book of this saga will love Blood Lines"

From Tomorrow's Schools Today NZ. Full piece here

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roxborogh can't keep quiet

Okay. I AM writing. I'm also now heavily loaded with Level 2 English marking (hi girls!) and, I am being VERY VERY good when it comes to posture and micro pauses and yadda yadda yadda to help my OOS.

Just looked at JK Rowling's page (thanks Maureen) and laughed out loud. The scribbles look just like mine. Though I prefer to type the text straight onto the computer, I need to write out the plan - go figure.

Anyway, Bloodlines is doing well in the market/review stakes and I'm concentrating on Birthright and, acutally, writing some really good stuff.

Have finished the first act but now have gone back to the start and am going through fixing up the clunkers (there weren't many - promise) and polishing the art work.

I needed to do this because I was getting twitchy with what I was writing - too much mess; too my clutter.

It's all good though. The English teacher/reader in me is VERY please.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reasons I'm not writing but I will after this post - promise

A couple of weeks ago I posted here about what stops me from carrying on with the task of writing.

In that time, I've come up with some others: occupation overuse syndrome (known as OOS). I am currently getting intensive physio every two days to help alleviate the pain in my right elbow and neck and shoulder. My bad. I did not use the correct posture over the school holidays - am now, I can tell you - and the wonderful 13,000 words I wrote came at a cost.

Add to this that I am a teacher. An English teacher. I mark - a lot! Currently, my arm is so sore I cannot pull clothes from the dryer, chop carrots, pick up a bottle of wine, lift up anything heavier than a copy of Bloodlines. Even driving is a problem (thank goodness for the eldest teen). Family are having to step up to the plate and they are bless them.

The other thing keeping me from my writing is the wonderful Dunedin weather at present: it is sunny! It is warm! It is, I'm-just-gonna-sit-in-the-sun-and-read type of weather not lock-myself-away-in-my-study-and-write. Hey, I need the Vit. D.

Online stuff distracts me but I find it so fascinating: the blogs, FaceBook, the emails, the webpage. I'm a nosey, looking over the fence type of gal. I want to know what other writers are doing and saying. Half the time, I'm lifted up and encouraged; the other half sends me wailing into my breakfast.

I'm also distracted by the emotion of it all: waiting to here news from overseas; waiting for reviews for Bloodlines; the comings and goings of key people who are, I feel, my touch stones and, the waiting and worrying and waiting.

But, like those of you who have already read Bloodlines (and told me so and told me to hurry up with the next book) I want to know what happens. I love being in their world. I really came to admire Rachel and so pleased Rosie got the final say and Henri is so interesting and and and....

So, I’ve taken twenty minutes to write this post (cos I am a bad speller and needed to check it was all perfect before I posted), I am now ready to go back to the fray cos, damn, fray it is!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthright: there you go then

This post will probably be lost in the curfuffel but the author is forging on ahead.

OMG, even if I'm modest, it's really, really good.

My recommendation:
Buy the published works and wait for the next.

Bloodlines: the first print review

T.K. Roxborogh
Penguin, $40, pbk

I can't help thinking that T. K. Roxborogh might be New Zealand's answer to J. K. Rowling.

It's not just the ambiguous initials rather than first name, but the fact that Blood Lines follows hot on the heels of Banquo's Son and one wonders if there are indeed another two or three in the pipeline.

And like Rowling, Roxborogh writes a cracking adventure.

The Blood Lines story proper starts with Fleance, King of Scotland, all set to marry the lovely Rachel, a marriage designed to secure the bloodline rather than for love, for the young king's thoughts and emotions are very much with Rosie, whom we met in Banquo's Son.

Things take a twist when Rachel is abducted, and from thereon in Roxborogh pushes the narrative on apace - so much so that at the end of each chapter I was bursting for the next.

She switches point of view seamlessly. There is an assortment of characters that we care about, and three witches are dropped into the brew for good measure.

Roxborogh has a fine descriptive eye for the less savoury aspects of medieval life and she pulls no punches when portraying the stenches, discomforts and brutalities.

If I have one quibble it is with some of the dialogue.

Roxborogh says she aims to replicate "the vocabulary that was in use during Shakespeare's era", but to my ear there were some much more modern turns of phrase that jarred. But it is only a quibble.

If you liked Banquo's Son you'll love Blood Lines.

- Julia Brannigan is an Auckland writer and marketing consultant
This review appeared in the Otago Daily Times, 9th of October.

Waahh about the jarring. Not going to let that happen in the final (but, hang on, heh heh, will it be a final...) book
PS just so you know: I read every single one of the Harry Potter books and have seen ALL the films and I think Rowling is one of the most cleverest people on earth - Tolken without the verbage.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The reviews begin to come in....

This first one from the online site Fangtastic Fiction which is interesting for me because I didn't see any connection between the vampire rage and my trilogy but I DO have witches and ghosts and prophecies so I should not be surprised.
Thanks to Ali for taking the time to review the book:

has wonderful imagery, all written in a modern style, and you don’t notice yourself being completely transported to medieval Scotland. TK Roxborogh weaves historical elements into this magnificent work of fiction, which not only bring historical figures to life, but in using this setting as the backdrop of the story, the fictional characters are given an added dimension, making them seem more ‘real’.

The second story picks up and carries on from Banquo’s Son, but could quite happily be read as a standalone novel as it is a ‘new’ phase in Fleance’s life. Although Tania proclaims that this was an incredibly difficult work to write, there is no pain in the reading: the story is well constructed and flows from start to end.
Fleance seems to have more emotional depth, and, although still prone to almost childish tantrums (as befits a youth in his position), he also shows remarkable empathy, as well as remarkable strength and understanding of the importance of his role to Scotland.

If you’ve read Banquo’s Son, you will no doubt remember the incredible skill in which you are lead down the garden path of plot deception. Bloodlines carries on this tradition. There is nothing formulaic about the way the story unfolds. In fact the author seems to take great delight in flying against traditional ‘norms’ in storytelling, yet still manages to make it all come together perfectly. Unexpected characters die, trustworthy characters betray, enemies give their lives... but do they? Is what we believe to be a betrayal, really a betrayal? Oh, so many wonderful, subtle twists that you just cannot try and guess the plot.

From angelic Rachel, to stoic Preston, no character is left undeveloped. In fact, great care is taken to build a connection between the characters and the reader. Yet, again, this is often done with such subtly that I was completely surprised at how attached I was to a character until I faced the threat of them being taken away.
I really adored this book but it is one that you must relax into to really enjoy. As soon as you stop trying to second guess the plot, the story just starts to flow, the images form in your mind and you hear the characters talking in your head.
Bloodlines has such wonderful characters and settings, and is such a vividly alive story that holds a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First Chapter of Bloodlines

Here is the first chapter of Bloodlines (not including the Prologue). The book should be available now in all good bookshops.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Procrastination has come for a visit, dammit!

Okay, so I was allowed a couple of days rest what with the end of a very busy term and the launch of the book. And, yesterday and today, presenting the writing workshop to the lovely group of students. And, my study is ready, the whiteboard filled with lists and goals and inspiration and the hubby and kids have (esp the eldest who has read both Banquo's Son and Bloodlines over the past five days - and gave them the big thumbs up!) given me permission to set myself apart and just WRITE.

Yes. Hmm. Well, the first time I did this, I was not on FaceBook. And, I didn't get the volume of emails and queries I do now. My email traffic has double quadrupled in the past 12 months. I have a website as well. I have won an award. I am more known than I have ever been.

So, like now, writing this for you, I am avoiding doing that which I must do. The first chapter of Birthright (if I take again the analogy of art) has been sketched out with charcoal and many of the details of the scene are in. There is some colour and a couple of places which are vibrant.

The problem? The muse is there alright but there are, what I call, the anti-muses. These wee buggers have different personalities but they do the same thing - they tell me I can't possibly pull this off: you're not a good enough writer; you are neglecting your family; you should do the housework (this one needs to be hunted down and eradicated); your fans need you - you must update the blog and the facebook page; this story is not going to work; you should be exercising (I hate this one but I kinda think it's got a point); your friends miss you; you're a better teacher than a writer; why don't you take a break, Tania? You work so hard all of the time. Wouldn't you like to just spend the next two weeks lying on the sofa reading, watching DVDs and eating pasta? (okay, I really, really like this one but my muse hates it the most and, really, I should trust her cos she's got me this far...)

I look back on what I achieved with Banquo’s Son in such a short time and I know I am much more ahead than that. But, I do want this to be so good, so very very good, in the writing. The story is going to be fantastic – promise – but I want it breath-taking for the reader.

It is wonderful that I am already getting responses from readers. Wonderful Louise, whom I wrote about last year, told me at the launch that Bloodlines was even better than Banquo’s Son (and I loved Banquo’s Son she said). My astute eldest says the same. Bloodlines is very good. I want Birthright to be even better. No pressure.

So, dear reader (and, you too, Tania), time to get off line and back to that banquet hall and deal to a whole lot of stuff which is going to go down. Poor Flea. This time, however, I think you might just go, hooyeah!

PS should I mention the teacher's curse? Healthy all term and then what happens? Yes, I have developed a rather nasty chest infection. Just grateful my head is all good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

When not writing, I teach writing

Today and tomorrow, I am tucked away at Balacava School teaching a keen group of 11-13 year olds the art of being a good writer.

I think today I dismayed then and inspired them. They are much better than I was at their age or when I was 10 years older or even 20 years older. Damn them.

They already know it sucks when you have no ideas; when you can't make your story do anything; when you are completely stuck! Wahh. These guys are so young to know such painful truths!

But, they also do not seem to yet understand the importance of the reader and his/her power. To appreciate the need to carefully manipulate the trajectory of the story arc nor the potency of the reading experience.

Today we looked at where to find ideas and what to do with them - more specifically structure, conflict, character creation and the use of dialogue.

Tomorrow, we will take what they have started to write and do what we kids used to do with the sheep skins back on the farm: wash and comb and tug out burrs and knots and anything overlooked by the fleesos. Comb and comb and comb until the fleese was a soft fluffy thing without a hint of its former life.

It's a great credit to these young people that they have given up two days of their school holidays (and some of them and their parents have travelled long distances) to sit in a classroom to learn some things which might improve their writing.

I suspect that in years to come, based on what they had read to me to far, we will hear of these authors (for this is what they are) in the future.

Warm weather in Dunedin is a rare thing and I might be resentful of losing it to a classroom for ten hours except I don't notice because of the joy of hearing the voices of these most articulate and intelligent children.

Also one knows about the Banquo's Son trilogy and another read Grit, one of my books. Now that's a good thing in my book: know what you're facing.

Teaching writing is a very, very strange thing my fellow tutors agree. We just hope the kids go away inspired.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Launch for Bloodlines

last night, at the Dunedin Public Library, we launched Bloodlines out into the world!

What a wonderful evening it was for me personally. It started with a panic when I realised that members of my writing group could not help with food preparations but was rescued by some of my lovely Y11s who were so willing to give up their lunch hour to help out.

We had so much fun making the food.

The evening went well (despite the fact that, for the second year in a row, our border collie dog ate a whole tray of sandwiches!).

I have uploaded a video record of my speech on YouTube. Go here to have a look.

Thanks to all those who helped make it a great night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My dilemma - forget about part two or three...

Today I was in a place in my teaching whereby I happened to mention a book whose fires are stoked to keep it alive. It was because a student read an article for her wide reading NCEA assessment called Killing Time. Back in 1999, when I was teaching at Orewa College, the entire story for a novel pushed itself into my life. I wrote the synopsis and the first few chapters. Little changed for the written words but much has changed for my life - the Banquo's Son trilogy being a big part of it.

Anyway, I began to tell the class the story of Killing Time. One by one the girls stopped what they were doing (which was [cough] important assessment stuff) and urged me to go on with the story telling.

At about two minutes to the bell, I realised something about myself: I tell great stories. Better stories than some others.

Much more happened in that lesson and it had to do with the mermaid story and I am so using that interaction in the novel.

My point is: can someone please pay me to write these stories cos they are really really good - like and though I adore/love teaching, I need time to write.
wah - just saying

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A writer's dilemma: where to next?

Fleur Beale told me recently that, though she was supposed to be working on the third book in her Juno series, she had be kidnapped by another grunty, contemporary story. Grabbed as in: she has been up and down the Wellington surrounds doing research.

Having just finish Fierce September, Book Two of the Juno series, it makes me nervous that her attention is somewhat waylaid. Still, I know I don't need to panic cos Fleur, being the consummate professional that she is, will deliver.

But, it got me thinking: there is a particular story which is acting like Donkey in the first Shrek movie: Pick me Pick me Pick me.

This story is what I affectingly call my Mermaid story. In 2007, I gave the a section of the first chapter to the English dept to use for their end of year examination. Those kids (Y9/13-4 year olds) were so taken by the extract, a number of them came up to me to ask when the book would be published.

I have been asked the same question for the past three years. Just this Friday, a wee lass, now in Y11 (15 years old) said: when you write your mermaid book, you better put our names in the acknowledgments

I asked her why. Because it's going to be such a great story and we want the world to know that we saw it first.

This sounds so familiar. ie When I mooted the idea of Banquo's Son, I had a keen group of readers who became so enthralled with the idea of the story.

So. I have a contract and an emotional obligation to spend time writing Birthright. But, I have this wee story (it's scope makes me see it is as a baby) which is crying crying, crying...

Maybe I need to write the 'mermaid story' and get it out of my system before I turn my attentions fully on Birthright. Book Three of the trilogy (120,000 words) vs wee middle grade book (15-20 thousand words).

pfff. I should be able to knock that off in a couple of weeks, don't you think?

Here's the opening few paragraphs:
What would you do if you found a real mermaid? Would you call the police? The T.V. station? Would you suggest poking it in the eye with a stick? (That was Robbie’s idea – not mine).

Well, this is what we did. We took her home. And, we knew pretty quickly it was a ‘she’ not a ‘he’ or an ‘it’ because, unlike those Disney cartoons, mermaids don’t have scales and they don’t wear cute little shell bras. Mermaids let it all hang out.

There's plenty more and it's very exciting. Malcolm, the narrator, is an interesting kid - he only has one leg and he's Ngati Porou (like me though, to date, I've never been to Gisborne but I still have all my limbs).

And, I don't know why Malcolm has a prosthetic.

Yeah this post is prob outside the Trilogy boundaries but I'm thinking, after sorting and cleaning out my writer's study, maybe I need to finish this wee gem before I throw myself into the writing to Birthright.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bloodlines book launch

This will be in a couple of weeks here in Dunedin. 22nd of September. 5:30 at the public library. I will be making the sandwiches (along with members of my student writing group), getting the sushi and the chips and dips and buying the drink. Some of my kids will be helping out with the serving. Bless them. I will also be teaching in every other space of the day.

Why do we do it, we authors? Why do we outlay expense on a party for a book?

Because, it is like celebrating the birth of a child in some sense.

The effort required to actually write a novel is probably only really understood by other writers. The effort required to promote a novel is probably only understood by the sales and marketing and publicity team at the publishers. The cost of the sacrifices family had to suffers can only really be appreciated by said family members.

And, why shouldn't I have a chance to dress up nicely, eat and drink good food and wine with friends, family and fans?

So, to hold that book in your hand, to have others hold it, to have others respond to the story you have slaved over for 12 months are glorious, glorious moments.

Publishes don't tend to spend much money on launches, preferring to spend the small budgets of advertising or other marketing ideas but authors cannot let the release of a novel go un-noticed.

This is why I am putting on a party for Bloodlines. It certainly deserves it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

left side strong side aka sometimes it hurts to write

ACC doesn’t charge us much but they do charge us.

I wonder if anyone thinks about the physical cost of being a writer. I guess each writer does their own thing. I know of vegan, live off the land types who write away on recycled paper and others who trot off to their offices each day which result in them turning out published works.

Me, I type. And I move firewood and lift groceries and write on the whiteboard and mark scores of essays.

So, always, my right arm aches. And my right elbow.

In fact, I’m getting to that stage that I’m a little bit worried.
I lie in bed at night and am woken by the pain in my fingers and joints. Oh, yes, I’ve bought the Omego 3 10000000 pills.

The thing is, ACC is not stupid. They understand that a writer spends hours and hours hunched in front of whatever writing implement and it might just end up costing the government if the writer can no longer function. So they ping us with a tax. (Tania waves at her government).

I pick up the bucket with the horse feed and my right arm screams.
I lift my arm to write instructions for my Y11 kids and my elbow hisses with pain.
I go to pull a pile of washing from the dryer and I am stunned by the pain which shoots down the right side of body.

Right side. My side.

I am currently analysing Remember the Titans with my wonderful Y11s and there is a quote: Left Side, Strong Side. Yup. Geddit.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earthquakes during 11th C Scotland?

Just wondering. Will have to go researching this. Why? Well, to those not in NZ, the place where I was born and spent some important years of my teenage hood has been devastated by an earthquake measuring 7.4 (only 10kms deep, centred in the sleepy town of Darfield where good friends reside).

Like many New Zealanders, we in our house have spent the day with the telly and radio on, listening to the stories and viewing the pics. Earlier in the morning, I was on the phone to many family and friends checking everyone was okay.
Praise God no one has been killed because of the quake although, sadly, a gentleman has died after suffering a heart attack and a number of people are in hospital with serious injuries.

Did we, as a family, feel it? HELL YES! My eldest and hubby awoke to the house rocking like it was being jiggled on the knee of some giant. And, the noise! And, like many in Chch remarked, it went on and on and on.
We have some damage to our 100 year old house which pales into insignificance to those who have had a monstrous day cleaning up broken plates and glass and bottles and jars of food and precious things....

But, what struck me was, how dependent we are on the simplest of things: water, warmth, power (which usually keeps the phones up and running) and sanitation. Presently, all these things are not working properly in one of New Zealand's cities – water-mains are burst and flooding streets and houses; sewage pipes, ditto.
While I was writing, the tv was on and there was bulletin after bulletin of officials warning the citizens about hygiene and potential problems. And, I was thinking: well, in Glamis right now there is no electricity, phones, cell phone, internet. Yet, the sewerage system is working. Even back then (and, I guess it’s always been) the people understood the importance of ensuring waste was managed. Thanks to the Romans, such systems (which included waterways) were all good to go in Britain.

I know this post is not so much about the writing of the trilogy but the earthquake has made me aware again of how dependent I am on the mod-cons. I went to the supermarket last night to get some food for dinner and was struck by the number of shoppers who had bottles of water and tins of staple foods in their trolley. A couple of years ago, Dunedin was shut down after a snow storm so that planes and trucks could not get in which meant bread and milk and petrol supplies were quickly depleted.

How is it that our society is so expectant of its needs being met. My eldest said to me: what if this was during the exams? (meaning the national examinations which occur each year in early Nov). What if this was us? She asked. Because, many of the schools in chch will probably not open this week because of the damage to their buildings. She has friends in this possible situation and of course they have been facebooking and texting everyone…
Yet, not so who live in the world of my story. Like the main roads in and out of Chch, there are obstacles; like the basic needs of my fellow Cantabrians – warmth, water, toilet – these are precious parts of a comfortable life. But, unlike our 21st C selves, they are less dependent on the others providing the basics.

We don’t have a king but our Prime Minister has been walking the streets. The people need their leader to come see their suffering and offer practical support and rousing words of encouragement (note to self).

In the end, I’m just glad that I have not had to contend with walls falling down on me or my kids.

Friday, September 3, 2010

looking forward and further forward

Right now (apart from finishing off the marking of the large pile of NCEA internals and Y9 Film reviews and attending to family matters) I’m gearing up for the launch of Bloodlines.

Tis a strange thing to be buffeted by three winds: those who have just read (or recently read) Banquo’s Son and want to talk about it; those who read it last year and are dying to get their hands on a copy of Bloodlines and, the nudging I’m getting from my publisher to keep going with Birthright.

The story of Bloodlines is, for me personally, in the past. I’ve lived it this past year and suffered with my characters and laughed with them too. But, my heart and imagination is now firmly captured by book three.

Though I might appear to be operating quite normally in the 21st Century, every now and then I see, in my mind’s eye, the banquet hall of Glamis castle: filled with distinguished guests, smoke from the torches, the smell of delicious food and something else (?) sweat, soil, damp…? And the sounds of the rush of a castle tending to the needs of its royal guests.

And, admist all that I sense some shadowy players. Those who are mingling in this room who wish ill on our boy. Like Fleance, I know and feel safe with Blair and Rosie and Rachel and Henri (whom the world is yet to meet) and Charissa – even Bree. But, something is lurking and I haven’t yet nailed it.

This first chapter is crucial and I want to ensure that I set the scene perfectly.
I look forward to the world’s reaction to Bloodlines. I have enjoyed reading it again as a reader but its onward for me to ensure that the finale is AMAZINGLY fantastic.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Why is it that publishers and booksellers insist on putting books in boxes? Right now, I am reading Mandy Hager's 2nd book in her Blood of the Lamb trilogy (and I'm 45) and my daughter is reading The Blind Assassin (she's 18).

If the publishers and booksellers are to believed, it should be the other way around.

The book I'm most looking forward to reading? Mockingjay by Susan Collins!

So, Banquo's Son has been read and enjoyed by tens of 1000's of people ranging in age from 12 to 80. When I wrote it, I had my senior students in mind (and, I'm a teen at heart) so that's why it 'reads like YA' as some editors have commented.

My response? So what? I read adult books when I was YA (though that term hadn't been invented when I was a teen) and I read YA now (as an adult).

Readers read good books with great stories. Banquo's Son is a great story. Bloodlines is even better.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Banquo's son - judges' report

Below is the full text of the LIANZA judges' report:

At a times when Shakespeare is in danger of disappearing from our school curriculum, Banquo's Son can be credited with doing more to keep his books alive than many other efforts to do so.

Tania Roxborogh takes us through historic Scotland and her story picks up where Macbeth left off. The judges were pleasantly surprised at how readable this historic work proved to be. While it introduced new characters, there were some recognisable ones - it was like coming across an old friend when characters from Macbeth appeared. Tania can be commended on her attention to historic detail and adventurous writing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Story, story, story

This week, someone whom I admire greatly suggested that perhaps writers who blog would be better advised to refrain and pen the next block buster.

This person is probably right but.... wahhh. Blogging is so much fun!

You see, being a writer (as opposed to being a teacher - which I am as well) means long hours of solitude. Days. Weeks. Months. For me, usually spent staring at my computer screen interspersed with tidying my office, feeding the cat, rearranging the pot plants... (Ok. The last one was an exaggeration. I only have two pot plants and they are both by the kitchen sink so that they are never starved of water!)

But, blogging. Well, blogging is a great place to go after you've just discovered something amazing (in your story, about life, news, non-news, belly-button-type reflection).

*Cough* so, that's my justification because in the past eight days, while I have been 'author' and not 'teacher', I have been overwhelmed with story.

The joys and sorrows of situations which involve close family and friends; stranger kids who have delivered me their lives on a scrap of paper; the (possible) reason why a young woman stands in the light of the entrance to an Auckland city car park, dressed all in black, her legs, arms and torso visible as she waves at passing traffic. The possible pain or joy of the repercussions of a NZ Post truck tipped over on Wellington's southern motorway....

And, the stories from others who have been brave enough to share or hint at their struggles: partners, off-spring, health, employment.

Sigh. Man, things suck sometimes!

Yet, it is not all doom and gloom. Knocking about with storytellers means I've also been awash with tales which have uplifted my soul.

So I will continue to blog about that which impacts on me as writer and not feel guilty that I'm not writing.

Oh, cos I am. Writing. The third book. Don't give me that look. I am! *Tania scuttles back to her study* See. It's all here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Touring and a special arrival

Every time I've been on the Storylines Tour, it's rained. Rain and Auckland and Auckland traffic do not for a good combination mix.

Still, I couldn't have been more pleased to be squashed in an eight-setter van with the dry-witted and tall John Parker, the ageless and generous Gavin Bishop, the erudite and talented James Norcliffe. I also had the privilege of meeting for the first time Melanie Drewery and Sarona Aiono-Iosefa ...... Two picture book writers/illustrators whose work I have admired because of the way they use our stories in such a manner that reflect the lives of so many Samoan/Maori/Pakeha children in New Zealand.
We were paired differently each time (but I didn’t get to hear Melanie *sad face* and I have presented with John before so I didn’t feel so bad.) I loved listening to the others, however, talk to the students about their lives and their work. I loved hearing the others read out their stories. And, I was fully impressed by the manner in which they treated the children: total respect and attention.

However, in the car, the tone sometimes became a bit less respectable. Rosemary Tisdall, the hard working member of Storylines commitee, was our driver and Belynda Smith, children's librarian at Takapuna Library, the navigator.

Despite the six of us being labelled authors, both Rosemary and Belynda contributed their fair share of tales which had us all erupting with raucous laughter.

The schools we visited were amazing and we were treated like royalty. Shout out to Cosgrove Primary, whose teachers and librarian were so enthusiastic and engaged and dedicated to their students; Rosehill Intermediate: attentive and focussed and who asked excellent questions and dear Pukekohe Hill School who had prepped their wee ones so well. What a delightful time we had with you in the last part of the day on a wet Friday.

I wish I had the details of the other schools visited by the other authors (and the Pretty Cool School which gave us a delicious morning tea). Everyone had such a wonderful time.

Getting back to central Auckland from Pukekohe in the rain was a bit of a trial made easier by the storytelling. I even reverted to a haiku or two.

Oh, and by the way, the advance copy of Bloodlines made its way into my hands tonight: OMG SQUEEEEEEEEE

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No rest for the wicked

Back to school today - what a relief - but am about to climb onto a plane tomorrow night (Thursday night) to go to Auckland for three days of whirling around the district for Storylines.

Friday sees me and a couple of other writers/illustrators in south Auckland schools for the day and Saturday doing a workshop out west Auckland.

Sunday is the BIG DAY. Just thinking about it makes me want to go and have a nice lie down but those who have been organising this have no such luxury.

I expect some of the committee will be up into the wee small hours ensuring that there are enough paper plates for the pigs noses (Piggerty Wiggerty) and face paint (decorate in your favourite character) to last the distance.

My job on the day? At 10.00am I will be talking about how I came to be what I am - a writer who also teachers English and also tries to be a parent and how the whole Banquo's Son trilogy came into being.

Later in the day, I will be involved in the pronouncement of the Puffin short story awards.

In between, I'll be signing at the wonderful Jabberwocky children's book store stand and reading at Borders Bookstore. I hope I don't have happen what happened to an author last Sunday, in Wellington, during the Storylines festival:

Sales assistant: Yes, can I help you?
Author: I'm here to sign books.
Assistant: And you are...?
Author: [insert name]
Assistant (who frowns): Um, I don't think we have any of yours books
*OK, you need to know that THIS bookseller was given a list of the authors who would be 'signing' WEEKS before the event!*
Assistant: We don't have any of your books.[pause] Actually, we never have any of your books.'
Cue: author walking off with her minder.

I just want to give a little plug to the bookshops I've personally enjoyed shopping in over the years: the wonderful Children's Book shop in Wellington and Christchurch; to the Unity and University Bookshops; to the educational bookshops like Abacus on the North Shore in Auckland and Storytime Books in Whangarei. The Womens' Book shop as well. Shops where the sellers get to choose the books they want to have in their store and have sales assistants who actually understand (and read) books and can help their customers. There are also a few chain stores I've appreciated too who are so supportive of local writers: stores in Takapuna and here in Dunedin

New Zealand has a stable of the most amazingly talented writers and illustrators in the world. We have Joy Cowley and Margaret Mahy and Lynley Dodd. Fleur Beale and David Hill and Jack Lasenby. Relatively new-commers in comparison like Vince Ford, Brian Falkner, Mandy Hager and Anna Mackenzie. New Zealanders authors and illustators don’t waste time with mediocre stuff. I could add heaps more names (even my own) but I suggest you go to The New Zealand Book Council website to see the rest.
New Zealand authors and illustrators would love to see more of their books being sold in the bigger stores but I guess that's the dream of every writer/artist because books on shelves increases the chance of books selling which increases the royalty amount.
Just saying.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Post awards....

[apologies for the original post being full of typos – exhausted and distracted writer wrote it. Hopefully, the following is error free.]

Wow, what a day and night. My email in box has been flooded with congratulations from friends, students, past students and colleagues from around New Zealand and around the world. And, the posts on the blog, facebook and the txt messages have poured in. Not to mention the welcome home committee: my dear friend Jo (her presence a surprise) with a beautiful posy of flowers and coming home to a excellent 'basket' of goodies from my publisher (Penguin New Zealand). Heh Heh. Someone knows me: cheese, chocolate, crackers, cheese, chocolate, crackers - all varying kinds - and a sweet bucket of flowers.

Anyway, let me just rewind a bit and paint the picture of my four days in Wellington and the prelude to the LIANZA awards evening:

I arrived Saturday morning and was picked up by the ever talented and ageless beauty who is Fifi Colston. She scooped me into her wee car and off we went to run errands and do things critical for the following day’s Storylines Festival.

I met her god of a husband (hi Adrian!) and then we went to a baby shower for the hard working and wonderful Sarah from The New Zealand Book Council before heading off to Dr Sketchies - a place artists go to, well, draw life models. I drew and drew and despaired. Even though there was one I did which I loved, this is not the place to show you my illustration. Fifi won an award that night.

Sunday: Storylines, Wellington. What can be the only result when you've got kids, a rainy day, crayons and paints and glue and scissors and cardboard and authors and illustrators? A bloody brilliant experience.

Later, many of us met up at a cafe and chattered. I am delighted that I got to spend time getting to know an author I admired hugely: Des Hunt. And, I loved catching up Ruth Paul and David Elliot.

Well done Wellington team!

Monday: I meet up with the intelligent and wonderful Linda Burgess. A couple of decades ago, when I had to 'go be a teacher for a day' before I applied for teachers' college, I had the privilege of spending time with Linda. She told me then and told me later that she saw the amazing potential in me as an educator. We’ve kept in sporadic touch over the years and came together again in the mid 2000s because of a shared experience and I have enjoyed our intermittent correspondence (often via txt).

Then, I met my friend and much admired author, Fleur Beale and we had lunch at the gardens. We discussed the awards evening happening in a few hours and I told her that I wasn't even considering the possibility of a win. If I was a judge, I wouldn't select me, I said. (but then I can never see my work like others can!)

Kyle Mewburn and his wife arrived (what a writery filled house it was going to be!)

So it was that Fifi and hubby (hey Adrian), Kyle and wifey (hey Marion) made our way to the venue. The only blimp was trucking up to the entrance to discover they could not find my name on the list. 'I'm one of the finalist,' I said, embarrassed that my tone was a bit hard. Nup. Wasn't there. In the end, I took a pen and wrote my name on a sticky on label.

In my heart I thought: this is the story of my life - I am billy no mates even when I'm supposed to be someone special. Still, others had the same problem and it seemed that the combination of the pour light over the table which housed the list and the tiny font meant there were a few 'moments'.

Today I received an email from one of those at the door explaining what happened and I am ashamed at my own haughty attitude at that time. I guess I didn't follow my own advice to my children which is: at all times, whenever and wherever it is possible, behave with 'grace and good discipline' (Columba College motto). ‘A harsh word stirs up anger but a kind word evaporates wrath’ (The Bible).
The event held at the cool Caffe L'Affare in Wellington. Just an aside: OMG the finger food was divine. We (as in authors and illustrators) have all commented on how scrumptious was the finger food.

It was a fantastic night. I was so impressed how the judges told the gathered audience how wonderful they thought each entry was and were specific. Warm fuzzies for everyone.

Then it was the YA award and, yeah, I won. Actually I was so not expecting it and I was busy filming for the other others that dear Maureen Crisp had to hit me and take over the filming.

How did I feel?

Hot and cold washed over my entire body. Fleur tells me that I looked shocked (cos I was) and then I burst into tears. I was NOT prepared for what I needed to do which was to trot up, accept my gift with a quaint (but short) speech and move off. Me, I got up there still feckin blubbering and made some note about being lost for words and I think I thanked someone and then declared that at least one of my daughters should now read my book.

Thank you, LIANZA. These awards validate us. These awards make it worthwhile (even to be shortlisted). Thank you and thankyou for your time and effort because it makes us want to try harder next year.

Loved last night.

I’m still smiling (especially as the Air New Zealand pilot told all on the plane of my success!) whoop

*here. Come close. Hrummp. Never, ever doubt a librarian - they know stuff. We think they have magic powers - but don't tell!

K. Tomorrow I'm back to tending my lambs.

See you soon

Banquo's Son wins award!

Press release: LIANZA presented its inaugural Young Adult Award to Tania Roxborogh, a Dunedin based writer, for Banquo’s Son (Penguin Group NZ). All the entries in this category were of a very high caliber and endorsed the introduction for this new award.

The judges were delighted with this historic and adventurous novel set in Scotland in the years after MacBeth’s rule, making Shakespeare accessible to readers who might not always be so intrigued. “While the novel introduced new characters, there were some recognisable ones – it was like coming across an old friend when characters from MacBeth appeared.”

So what did I do? I cried. I was speechless (soooo not like me). I was overwhelmed and delighted and honoured and stunned.

When I've come down to earth, I'll write up a brief account of the evening.

Being shorlisted for both this and the NZ Post awards has been a huge honour especially considering the amazing quality of work from the finalists AND the potential finalists. To win an award was beyond my expectations but has been a lovely acknowledgment of all the hard work I have put in over the years as a writer - not to mention my crew at Penguin who have supported me so much with this project.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Banquo's Son: a reader responds

So, how many authors out there actually face, day to day, their audience? How many authors walk into their place of work (mine, my classroom) to be accosted by comments like I've received from young 15 year old Charlotte?

‘Mrs Roxborogh, am I going to hate you?’

Me: why?

‘Someone's told me that someone really important dies. It better not be [name].’

I say: I'm not saying a thing.

Charlotte shakes her finger at me. 'Don't make me angry with you!'

The next day, I show them the promo to Bloodlines. Charlotte, who is reading Banquo's Son, huffs and puffs during the screening and then turns to me. 'I can't believe you! How could you? I hate you!'

I suppose, normally, a teacher would be alarmed by such sentiments but it seems the strength of my story has moved her to declare passionately her position.

And then, the next day, she's read more and trucks on in, chirpy as, telling me she's delighted to learn the William is Macduff. Something must have registered on my face because she turns on me: 'don't tell me you've.../ Oh My God. Stop getting rid of the best characters!

All I say is: I love Macduff.

She says, eyeing me suspiciously. 'He's cool.' And then sits at her desk to continue with her NCEA internal.

Looks are passed around the class and to me. About a quarter have read Banquo's Son and know what happens.

Me? I'm onto the third book.
Charlotte? She's annoyed at Rosie. She's in love with Duncan. She's now suspicious of me as a story teller.

Thank goodness she still trusts me as her English teacher, what with me killing off some characters she's come to love!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sudden death

I have to think very carefully about the choice to kill off a character. It has to be essential to plot or character development.

But, just yesterday, we recieved a phone call from a dear friend whose husband died suddenly.

No plot device there. No rhyme nor reason.

I cannot imagine the pain my friend is going through right now and if my tears are an inkling then hers are manifold.

Not a sword nr a bomb. But a quiet silent killer. The common cold.

From today, I take the shock and pain of this event and put it in my tool box as I navigate through the novel where people die. I will not be so glib as I may have been on Friday. I will tred carefully and I will think about Denis and his irreveant and quirky Virginian self.

R.I.P Dennis Skeens.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The weather is crap

It's feekin cold. It's raining and sleeting and probably snowing somewhere in central. The fire's been on (Yes, Jo! ON!!) since 10am. The dogs are bored. The husband is trying to write an essay.

Me. I'm smokin! Heh. First chapter of Birthright. I can see it, feel it, smell it. I can sense the tension and the agendas and the anxiety.

I'm in love with my book at this time. Maybe in a week I'll hate it but this time, like the first time, I know EXACTLY where I'm going and what is going to happen.

I just love my characters: Flea, Rachel, Rosie, Blair, Henri, dear sweet Charissa, frail Firth, Ross and Lennox and silent Caithness. The bishop and his issues.

For today (to quote the neverending dancing toys) I am content.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

T.K. Roxborogh website

If you are interested in the process of how my website was created, go here to read about Jessica Napper's account of her experiences creating my fabulous website.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The second in the trilogy will be launched in Dunedin 22nd of September and the book available from the 1st of October.

Apparently, it's a very good read. Apparently, it's acutally better than Banquo's Son. I say: it better be cos it's caused blood, sweat and tears, for the author, the agent and the publisher!

Tis a funny thing the whole writing and publishing expectations. Bloodlines is to be published in a few weeks and I'm focussed on the final in the trilogy, Birthright.

This third book is kick ass, light my fire, OMG, kind of story. We are so excited: we being publisher, agent, author and babes.

Seriously, last night I drafted out the chapter summaries and oh oh oh squee, it is going to be knock yer socks off kinda stuff. Yeee HAAAA.

though,sadly no one will care because there is such a time lag.

Good friends: enjoy Bloodlines in a few weeks and look forward to the final installment of the trilogy, knowing that, one day, it will be a film with international appeal and you saw it here first!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

There must be a kind of, Houston, we have a problem... and then you make it worse for everyone

As per my comments about the changes in some of the key details I'd intended to use as a backdrop for Birthright actually no longer working, I've stumbled across a massive conflict for our boy. OMG. Even my eldest and her boyfriend were excited (and neither of them have read the first book even though they say they've lived the whole story - believe me, they are probably right and so I can forgive them - but they are both very passionate about the characters.

The idea came to me minutes before we had to leave for the movies but it's doing this manic mutation in my brain and I think it might...actually if would be feckn amazing if it WORKED. SQUEEEEEE

Have called for a meeting of my trusty students (aka The Babes). They will tell me if I'm on to a good thing or not.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reviews of Banquo's Son

I have been requested to provide some reviews of Banquo’s Son. Below are exacts from the many reviews I’ve received since the book was published. I have NOT included the bits where the reviewer has summarized the story, comment on their own knowledge of Shakespeare or how the book came to be. I’ve just selected the comments which relate directly to the quality of the story. I have NOT removed anything negative. I haven’t included any online reviews cos, if you are keen, you can google them. *grin*

the LIANZA judges' report for the 2010 Children's Book Awards:

At a times when Shakespeare is in danger of disappearing from our school curriculum, Banquo's Son can be credited with doing more to keep his books alive than many other efforts to do so.

Tania Roxborogh takes us through historic Scotland and her story picks up where Macbeth left off. The judges were pleasantly surprised at how readable this historic work proved to be. While it introduced new characters, there were some recognisable ones - it was like coming across an old friend when characters from Macbeth appeared. Tania can be commended on her attention to historic detail and adventurous writing.
“…I do not really enjoy Shakespeare for many reasons but this is not like Shakespeare…This book is really good. Sure at times I was confused as to what they were saying but I got the drift after a while, Once I started reading it was hard to stop. The characters are loveable and believable. This story seems so well thought out that I even forgot it was based on Shakespeare. When it ended, I wished it was longer so that I could read more. It was amazing. I have never before been so close to tears while reading a book. Banquo’s Son should definitely be introduced into the Shakespearian section of the school curriculum. What can I say? It’s one of the best books I’ve read.” Annie Hawker, Tearaway magazine, October 2009.

“…This novel draws readers in from the first page and will have readers eagerly awaiting the second instalment.” Stephen Clark, editor, Tomorrow’s Schools Today

“While Roxborogh, a high school English teacher, has made an effort to give the book a ‘Shakespearean’ feel names like Flea, Keavy, Rosie and Rachel, sound more appropriate in New Zealand high schools than in seventeenth –century England. The novel doesn’t uncover much regarding either Scotland or Shakespeare’s stories. Instead, the main focus is the teenage love story, and Flea’s struggles with grief over his father’s death. But perhaps this is irrelevant. Roxborogh is an author who understands her readers well, and her readers will feel completely comfortable throughout the whole sotry. While it may not help teenagers understand the finer details of Shakespeare’s work, at least Roxborogh is giving her students and other teenagers throughout the country literature that will captivate them and encourage them to read.” Sarah Gumbly, NZ Lawyer, October 2009.

“…It’s a great read – fast paced with real characters and plenty of action. It’s good to know the second book isn’t too far away…” Ingrid Tiriana, feature for Associated Press, National, April 2010

“Tania Roxborogh has excelled herself with this ambitious and absorbing tale…and has woven a fascinating story of love and honour set in 11th century Scotland…This crossover novel should be enjoyed by older teenagers and adults who like a gripping historical novel.” Maria Gill, Feb 2010

‘Thereafter followed regular meetings with eight of the 15 year-old- girls as the manuscript unfolded; the students provided feedback on the story and influenced Ms Roxborogh’s storytelling. It is this influence, perhaps, that makes it a books most suitable for this age group. The media release notes that ‘top literary agency’ has picked up this book and its agent Josh Getzler is quoted raving about, it… which perhaps raised my expectations too high – consequently, I was disappointed. But persistence paid off and the second half of the story began to gel and make more sense. The story tightened up, the writing seemed to mature and the behaviour of the characters become more believable than the first chapters, making it much more enjoyable to read in the end.” Vicki Price, Daily News, Jan 2010

"...I enjoyed the twists and turns in the tale, mildly distracted by occasional typos. There’s been some debate about whether the book is aimed at the adult or YA market but really it’s a good read for anyone with an appetite for a historical tale." Chrissi Blair, The School Library, Summer 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

What teenagers like reading...

I review YA books for the Otago Daily Times. Lots of books come into their office. Today, I brought a box of books into school for my Y12s (16/17 year olds) to choose one book to review for the paper (a fantastic initiative). There were lots of books with vampires, demons, ghosts, angels and the supernatural. There were a few contempory novels (I nabbed two) and a number of historical and/or fastasy books.

After an excited scuffle, the dust settled. What was left: every single one of the novels with vampires, demons, angels, yaddie yaddie yaddie. They didn't want a bar of it.

Damn, now, if I have time, I'll have to feckn read them - so don't want to.

The lesson: silly publishers thinking to ride on the coat tails of Harry Potter and the Twightlight series. Kids and teens bore quickly and if the story ain't well written then they don't care.

Also, I put up a poster for Bloodlines and my classroom was swamped with kids wanting to know when they could get their hands of the next installment.

Yeah. I never did care for trends. I just write what I like and what I know my audience loves to read.

*Tania thrusts her hand high in the air*

Are you paying attention?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's so HARD!

So, I pretty much am excited about Birthright. (Yeah, sorry, I know - you haven't got to Bloodlines yet but I have to move on!). And, I KNOW the story and what happens and I'm feeling the anticipation butbutbut. Starting. Hm. Watched State of Play with off-spring's buddies last night and kept saying to one (who is in my writing group) "See, Anna. That's how you start a story. Straight into it."

Wish I could follow my own advice.

I'm also coming to the realisation that someone who we trust and love actually turns out to be bad. Nooooooooo (in the book, I mean, not real life!)

Why can't my characters behave?

And I hate it when people die. In real life as well as in my book. Sniff.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The ever changing nature of an epic historical trilogy

When I first realised Banquo's Son was going to turn into a trilogy, I thought I had figured out what was going to happen in Book Two (Bloodlines) and Book Three (Birthright). Well, now that Bloodlines is done and dusted and winging its way to the printers as I write, I have to re-think some things because the external plot line of Birthright has shifted.

I had anticipated that book three would have the Battle of Hastings (1066) as its backdrop and so ensured that we came to know some of the key players in that event in Bloodlines. I read a lot of stuff and did a lot of research.

However, something else crept into Bloodlines that I hadn't seen coming so now I am painting a different backdrop to the story which is all good.

I'm working on the synopsis now, fine tuning, thinking, listening to Fleance and Rachel and Rosie and a couple of new characters you'll get to meet soon.

At least I know how it ends - happily. Well, that's my intention but you never know what life (and fiction) throws up.