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Cycling Central Otago – Day 9: A wee ride

This morning frost, and yet, beyond the silver sheen of grass and tussocks, a line of eight cyclists. The first group of riders on the rail trail for this coming season. Later in the day, the cyclists safely at their destination, the wind comes up strongly from the north west. The long grasses on the […]

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wedderburn road

Cycling Central Otago – Day 8: Spring

There’s something in the air that has us looking around, thinking maybe the cold is almost over. “It must be spring,” I call across the road to Ken. He’s with his ute and dog outside the general store. “Yes, I was watching the birds flutter around the digger in my front paddock this morning. They […]

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The Delaware River in Pennsylvania

Make Your Writing Stronger: Details

The right, imaginative and clear use of details in a book, to me, is the single most important way a writer can improve their writing. What makes a book become real to a reader, what transports them from the reality of their own life to the world of the book, are details. And the way […]

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The Power of Seven – or of Just Keeping Going

I wrote and sent away seven short stories before my first story was published (Scaredy Cat, in New Zealand School Journals). My first novel took me seven years to write. (I had four small children, no family nearby and no childcare in those days. It was a long process!) I went on to write seven […]

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sorting stones

Choosing Stones & Sorting Words

“Sorting words,” poet and neighbour Brian Turner said, “is like choosing stones; setting some aside, discarding some, placing others with care in the right place, to make something of craft and beauty that will last.” We talked about this business of word selection while cementing in the last selection of stones, collected in haste at sunset […]

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jillian sullivan straw bale house

Jillian Sullivan’s Straw Bale House Building Adventure in Central Otago

New Zealand author Jillian Sullivan has built her own straw bale home in Central Otago. She had long dreamed about building her own home. When her situation changed dramatically a couple of years ago – her marriage ended, the last of her five children left home – Jillian decided the time was right to find […]

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Jillian Sullivan

The Magic of Writing

Writing is magical. I can think of four ways to explain this. The first is mythological. As Joseph Campbell said, we cannot manufacture the symbols of mythology, or suppress them, for they arise within us. They’ll appear unbidden on our pages. And as the ancient myths show, when we set out on a journey, such […]

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What Drives You?

What Drives Me

A student writer asked me the question “What drives me?” for an assignment he was doing. It was an interesting question to reflect on, to consciously look at what I often subconsciously create. In my writing for young people and for adults I’m passionate about how people treat others – first, that children have the […]

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