Posts Tagged ‘michelle holman


Cherry Spit Pitting Contests Or, Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas From?

cherriesNo, I haven’t lost the plot, these two subjects are related – kinda. Next month, I’m off to Cromwell in the South Island of New Zealand to research two new books and attend the Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Competition. The winner of the Cromwell CPSC gets free entry to an even bigger CPSC held near Perth, Australia.  Cromwell and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. It gets very hot in summer and very cold in winter which attracts lots of skiers to the area. Cromwell  produces alot of  fruit, in particular cherries and grapes which explains why there’s vineyards and cherry orchards there.

Long drives on my own are times when I often think up ideas for stories, although to be fair, one of them had been percolating in my head for awhile. On the car ride north it suddenly became STUNNINGLY CLEAR – at least to me, it did – that this was not one, but two books. Sigh. I do love those moments. One book was set in a cherry orchard and the other in a vineyard. When I told my husband about them he said, “You do realise I know somebody who’s mother owns a cherry orchard in Cromwell, don’t you?” He did? Bless him!

So I got in touch with the friend and I’m off. In December. To Cromwell! I read up on the rules for the Cherry Spit Competition. There’s four categories, best man spitter, woman spitter, boy spitter and girl spitter. They each get three pits the same size. They must spit down the course that is marked out with orange cones and each spit is measured. Can’t wait. I would give it a try. But I’m more likely to inhale and choke myself than spit and win. Anyway, I promise to report back and let you know.

If you’d like to see more about the Cromwell CPSC – and to prove that I’m not making this up follow this link



Do Your Characters “Write” Themselves?

I can see the nods and hear the screams of Noooo! You Stupid woman! all the way down here in New Zealand. I’ve read interviews with writers who have been asked this question and the answers have been really interesting. Some have said no, how can a character write his or herself? – the writer does the writing. But a whole lot more have said Absolutely, and that when it happens – it’s GREAT!!

It’s happened for me and when it does, I know these characters are going to take off with me running along behind them (well, my fingers running along behind them) trying to get the dialogue onto the page. I hang out for it, I want it, and if it doesn’t happen I DON’T LIKE IT. If I don’t hear/get these people, how the hell can I expect a reader to hear or get them? There are drawbacks. Sometimes they won’t shut up. Sometimes they won’t let me go to sleep. Sometimes I hear them bickering inside my head when I should be paying attention at work meetings. Fortunately, I haven’t answered them back yet.

The characters in my last book, Knotted, were so real and threw so many smart one liners at each other, I had to cut out reams of dialogue or I’d have ended up turning in something the size of War And Peace and given my publisher a heart attack. Not a good idea because I want them to publish more of my books. Two of my favourite characters are Sugar Beth Carey and Colin Byrne in Susan Elizabeth Phillips  Ain’t She Sweet? Again, it’s the dialogue between the characters which makes them so real and so wonderful to listen in to.

So here’s my question for all you writers:- Do Your Characters Write Themselves? Or is it all down to you? Fess Up!

And readers – think of those characters that were so real you couldn’t get them out of your head after you’d finished the book – Who were your favourite characters and what was the book? And what was it about them that made them so real and memorable?



Knotted is #4 on the Bestseller List!

Paper Plus Gala Dinner 2009
Paper Plus Gala Dinner 2009








I just got back from a holiday in Oz/Aussie/Australia with family and was trying to come to terms with returning to the real world i.e. work, laundry, school lunches – do I really need to explain? – and get the news that my latest book is #4 on the New Zealand bestseller list 11 days after it was released. Please forgive me while I wallow and skite – I’m only human. And in case you’re wondering just who on earth I am… I’m Michelle Holman, one of the original group of six intrepid writers who decided to get together to start The Romantic Journey. So far a very cool idea of Jennifer’s has turned into a very cool journey plus it’s free, doesn’t involve packing suitcases, vaccinations, finding somebody to look after the dog/cat/budgie and the weather doesn’t matter.  Some info on me:-

What do you write? Romantic Comedy.

Agent’s Name Don’t have one.

Books: Bonkers (HarperCollins NZ 2007), Divine (HPCNZ 2008), Knotted (HPCNZ 2009), Einfach Himmlisch (Simply Heavenly), German translation of Bonkers (Droemer November 2009).

The One Book You Never Tire Of Re-reading? Anything by Brenda Jagger, especially the Barforth Trilogy. Just Imagine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

When Did You Realise You Needed To Write? When I was about eleven and went to my first rock concert. I fell in love with the band and wrote a story about the lead singer and the drummer falling in love with two kiwi girls. Years later I found out the singer was gay. It was a difficult moment.

The first story you completed that you were really proud of…well not the one about the singer and the drummer. It would have to be my first book, Bonkers. I still love it and yes, I’m proud of it.

Do you write things other than romantic fiction? Shopping lists.

When you aren’t writing what sort of activities do you engage in? The shopping lists are quite labour intensive but I also like hanging out with my husband and kids, reading, listening to music, riding my horse and road bike, gardening (my husband says it’s cruelty to plants) and swimming. I also spend alot of time wondering how Daniel Craig and Viggo Mortensen manage to get through life without me. I’m a registered nurse and have a “real” job too managing community youth health projects.

What is the worst job you ever had? Chalet maid at Butlins Holiday camp in Somerset, England on my big OE (Downunder talk for “Overseas Experience). Had alot of fun off duty though.

Has it shown up in your writing? Not yet but if you spot a bitter, twisted, negligent young kiwi girl forced to clean up after people in any of my books you’ll know where she came from.

And finally…to any aspiring writers who might be reading this, don’t listen to the numbers about how many books get published/rejected and don’t give up. You’re the only one who can write your story.

Best Wishes,



Our First Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest to win a copy of Knotted by Michelle Holman.

Our friends at helped us pick a winner: RK Charron, who said

… Do you find it easy to incorporate humour into your writing?
I noticed that although informative and often witty, your answers had humour.
Does it come naturally? …

Congratulations, RK. Send us your mailing address at so we can send the book to you.


Book Release and Giveaway: Knotted by Michelle Holman

Kiwi author Michelle Holman—a founding contributor to The Romantic Journey—stormed onto the bestsellers list with her debut novel Bonkers, she got the locals in Cambridge wearing stilettos with her second bestseller Divine, and now she’s back and funnier than ever with:

Knotted Knotted


When Daneka Lawton was awakened at 6 a.m. by her radio alarm clock and Lilly Allen singing ‘Smile’, she was unaware that her personal nemesis had just stepped off a 747 at Auckland airport.

Danny Lawton is sharp-tongued, fiery and occasionally blue-haired. With no extended family to support her, she is struggling to look after her twin sister’s orphaned children while working full-time in a busy North Shore Emergency Department. Times are tough, but she is holding her own. And she is determined to hold onto her own.

So when the children’s paternal uncle, Ross Fabello, turns up unexpectedly from America with instructions to take the children back with him to meet their huge, extended family, Danny marshals all her wits and wiles for the fight of her life. Unexpectedly, she finds that her first enemy is herself and a seemingly irresistible and totally unsuitable sexual attraction…

Because our launch week coincided with her book release, Michelle took the time to do a short interview. She’ll also be posting her introductory post, but we wanted to make sure you had a chance to win her book when it is fresh and new. (Note: If you don’t want to wait or take your chances on the drawing, you can order Knotted from this New Zealand-based store. They don’t do automatic currency conversions. Knotted is coming soon to Amazon. Want to skip to the contest rules? Click here.)

The Romantic Journey: Tell us a bit about Knotted.

Michelle Holman: Danny (Daneka) and Ross are two equally immovable and stubborn forces set to collide when they discover they share an orphaned niece and nephew. Danny’s twin sister was the children’s mother and Ross’ wastrel brother was their father. The children are the only family Danny has, and she’ll do anything to keep them including briefly considering knocking their uncle off and feeding him to her neighbours’ pigs – after all, it’d be like recycling.

Ross is a best selling international author who’s been in a bad mood – for two years – due to a bad case of writer’s block. He can’t understand how a mouthy, New Zealand nurse with blue hair and the fashion sense of a bag lady keeps thwarting his plan to make contact with his newly discovered niece and nephew.

I had huge fun writing this book. Danny and Ross share a sarcastic sense of humour and I loved creating Ross’ mixed bag of Irish/Italian/American relatives and Danny’s Maori family.

RJ: What inspired you to write this story?

MH: Believe it or not – breasts and socks. Okaay, I hear you say, so I’ll explain. I’m a lapsed nurse (you never stop being one, you just lapse) and when I was still practising I cared for quite a few women with breast cancer so I’m a passionate supporter of breast screening and early detection.

Danny’s sister and mother both died young from breast cancer and the possibility of following them sits on Danny’s shoulder like a gremlin. Before you start worrying, my books always have happy endings. As for the socks, I often get ideas for stories while I’m hanging out underwear and socks on the washing line because they take so long.

One day I heard Ross and Danny arguing about what she’d done with his socks. There’s a sock on the cover of Knotted. You’ll have to read it to find out why but suffice to say, Danny is creative when it comes to fighting back (snigger).

RJ: If you could be any character from your books for a day, who would you choose and why?

MH: That’s easy! I’d be Lisa from my first book, Bonkers. She gets body swapped in Heaven’s Waiting Room and in the best “second hand car deal” ever wakes up in the body of a drop dead gorgeous Californian babe and gets a tall, hunky American surgeon husband to sweeten the deal – except he can’t stand her.

I’ve had so many readers tell me they have the hots for “Dr. Dan” and would love to get their hands on him. So would I, purely for professional reasons, of course.

RJ: Tell us how you first got published.

MH: Err…I hate answering this and try and avoid it in case purses and shoes come flying my way. I “dabbled” for years but could never finish anything until I made a New Year’s Resolution at the end of 2005 to complete a book.

I wrote Bonkers during 2006, sent it off to HarperCollins in October and they bought it in February 2007. It was a case of right book, right time, and I know, I was really, really lucky.

RJ: Tell us about your influences while writing Knotted. Did you listen to music? Or read?

MH: I don’t read while I’m writing, which puts a serious cramp in my pleasure index because like all writers I love to read, but I do listen to music and each of my books have certain songs that I associate with them.

I See Red by Split Enz, a NZ group, was Danny’s song. She plays it whenever Ross (frequently and deliberately) drives her nuts. Ross’ song is Message To My Girl which is also by Split Enz. No big surprise that I’m a dedicated fan.

RJ: What kind of research did you do while writing this book?

MH: Some research on breast cancer screening and detection. I also watched a lot of SpongeBob Squarepants – purely for the purposes of accuracy because the children in the book watch it, and not of course because I love it.

RJ: What else are you working on that you’d like to tell us about?

MH: I’m about a third of the way through a book about a widow with three children who gets made an offer she can’t refuse by an uppercrust, blonde, English, James Bond type. Go Daniel Craig! He’s on my list of favourite things alongside SpongeBob and Split Enz.

I’ve also made a start on the next book in the Bonkers trilogy (Glenn and Sherry’s story) plus I’ve come up with an idea for two more linked books, one set in a vineyard and the other in a cherry orchard in the South Island of New Zealand, which means I’ll be heading off to Cromwell in December to do some research and attend the Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Contest – I did not make that up! It exists!

Now on to the fun part: Michelle is giving away one copy of Knotted to one of our readers. Enter the random drawing by:

  • Commenting on this post.
  • Tweeting a link to this post in Twitter. You’ll need to comment letting us know that you tweeted. Include your Twitter username for verification.
  • Posting a link on Facebook. Again, comment letting us know that you posted the link.
  • Adding The Romantic Journey to your blogroll. Comment that you did that and include a link for verification.
  • Posting something about The Romantic Journey on your blog. Comment that you did it and include a link for verification.
  • Subscribing to the RSS feed or email feed. Comment that you did it to be entered.
  • Following The Romantic Journey on Twitter. Again, comment with your Twitter username for verification.

You receive one entry for each action, so you can potentially receive seven entries.

The winner will be announced 9 October. Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. UTC on 8 October, 2009.

No transfers or substitutions.


April 2020

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