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The Pounamu Prophecy - birth of a book Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That's the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy - my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving...

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Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol?Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol? The short answer is yes - you can eat mussels if you have high cholesterol. Mussels are low in kilojoules, cholesterol and fat. The little fat they do have is mostly healthy unsaturated fat with plenty...

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Bran MuffinsBran Muffins These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling - a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don't expect to absorb...

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Beat the flu with Chicken Noodle Soup It’s Queen’s Birthday holiday today in New Zealand and thank goodness, the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a sunny room writing this post, sheltered from the icy wind blasting up from Antarctica....

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My nanna's recipe for homemade Rewena (Maori) bread Rewena Bread Step 1 1 c flour 1 tsp sugar 1 potato Peel and cut potato into small pieces. Place in pot with 1 cup water, lid on, and simmer to mashing consistency. Mash, cool and when luke...

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Creative Writing in Chengdu, China

Posted on : 13-05-2017 | By : Cindy | In : Event buzz, Spices, The Pounamu Prophecy, Travelling, Writing

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‘It’s not the child I need to interview, it’s the parents.’ The principal of Beanstalk International Bilingual School in Chengdu had just finished talking to the parents of a prospective student and was now showing me around the campus of the newly opened school, complete with state of the art four hundred metre running track, brand new fifty metre pool, spacious grounds and beautiful classrooms opening into a central garden.

The school follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum which is vastly different to the teaching style of the local Chinese schools. The parents he had just spoken to, wealthy business people, wanted their child to move from the rote learning style of the local school to the more creative teaching style that BIBS offers. Unique to this international school is that it does not require the student to have an international passport and so the majority of students here are local, wealthy Chinese.

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The students were a delight to work with and eager to try out the creative writing exercises I set them. Some of the younger ones struggled to compose a story in English but I could only admire their eagerness to try writing creatively in a foreign language. It was better than I could do!!

With the older group of 14-15 year old boys we discussed historical fiction and the stories they wrote were amazing. I caught the beauty of the Chinese language spilling over into their English stories – poetic, evocative, and with some of the boys, very witty.

So often during this trip to China I heard people lament that the rote learning style produced incredible results for fact learning subjects but it stifled creativity. In this school I saw creativity unleashed, enabling these Chinese students to re-discover the beauty and imagination of this ancient language and culture.

Thank-you to Hugo for inviting me to his school, to Michael the librarian who coordinated everything and all the teachers who introduced me to the delights of the spicy, mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns and hotpot.

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The Pounamu Prophecy – birth of a book

Posted on : 06-09-2015 | By : Cindy | In : Book reviews, Event buzz, New Zealand, The Pounamu Prophecy

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Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That’s the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy – my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving countries several times, childbirth, motherhood, nutrition work and the plain fact that I am a very slow writer!

Writing a first novel is like setting yourself an assignment with no deadline, that likely no-one else is interested in. There is no weekly pay cheque, no emotional massage of ego, and no-one who is interested in listening to your struggles over character, perspective or plot. It wasn’t until I joined a writer’s group that the gestation of The Pounamu Prophecy started to pick up pace. A good writer’s group is a ‘god-send’ and I would never have finished this book without the encouragement and brutal honesty of my writer’s group. They do not let me get away with anything!

Everything about this book has been slow. The title, as I mentioned in a previous post, changed four times. The cover also took months of back and forth design options and a couple of mad dashes up to the point above Mission Bay in Auckland to get the perfect photo. Early one morning, after dropping my husband at the airport for a 6am flight, I had driven up to the point and taken some shots with my iPhone in the hope that they might work as a cover design. The publisher liked them and asked for a high res photo but I had already left Auckland. I desperately called my brother, asking him to take the picture at the same time and in the same place that I had stood. In between ward rounds, an exam and a four hour drive, he managed to do it and I am eternally grateful. In the end, the publisher miracuously found the same shot on Getty Images and that is what is on the cover.

The Pounamu Prophecy owes its existence to many people: the writing group, my brother, Rhiza Press for editing out all the cringe-worthy stuff, the other publishers who sent the most encouraging comments along with their answer of ‘No’, the elders at Ngati Whatua who graciously answered all my questions, my father-in-law who guided me in all things Maori, my husband and sister-in-law for the beautiful face on the cover, and my other sister-in-law for the title-inspiring gin and tonics on a balcony in Bangkok!

The Pounamu Prophecy comes out in October with an author talk/launch at Balmain Library, Sydney on 12 November. I hope and pray that those who read it will be encouraged, inspired and entertained.

Kia hora te marino, kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, kia tere te karohirohi. May the calm be widespread, may the surface of the ocean glisten like greenstone and may the shimmer of summer dance across your path forever.

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