Category Archives: language

Will ya turn off that TV!? by Susan Day

Since the invention of the moving picture box, parents have been yelling at their kids to turn it off, and go outside and play.

Today more than ever, kids are so heavily connect to screens we may have to ask ourselves is technology hindering or helping our children and grandchildren to read books. And by books, I mean real ones made with ink and paper!

Parents are allowing their young infants and toddlers to use tablets and smartphones. Why? Because there are thousands of games and apps which entertain and educate them. But is this the right way to learn because it’s cheap and easy to use?

Without doubt many parents and grandparents are concerned that their children are spending too much time in front of screens, and not enough time playing outside or reading story books.

Too Much Screen Time?

What is ‘screen time?’ While many of us grandparents certainly spent time in front of the big screen of our televisions, there certainly wasn’t a term for it. Now, children are spending so much time in front of the television experts and researchers have coined a new phrase – screen time.

We all know kids need to learn how to use computers, and that safely engaging online is an important part of building skills they will need in their careers. However, spending too much time playing games, texting, and watching videos will have an effect on a child’s ability to learn the fundamentals of their language. This, in turn, can have an impact on their ability to learn to read and write, and their careers later in life.

How many words should a child know?

An average vocabulary for a four year old, for example, is 3,000 to 4,000 words. Children learn the majority of words they are ever going to learn before they get to school. Sadly, there are children beginning school with a vocabulary of only 500 words. This means they may never develop the language skills needed to do well in life. While you may not want your child to grow up to be an author or a journalist; you would want them to be able to put a complaint letter together or create a thorough resume for a job.

What can we do to help children develop a love of reading and books?

There are many things which you can do to help. Share reading times with a child or visit your local library together. Talk about books, and the types of stories which are available. Go to bookshops or reading events, and make books a big part of your shared lives.

It’s up to all of us to engage children with quality “off-screen” activities so they can learn to grow and develop as best they can.

Who is Susan Day?

Susan Day, children’s author and writer, has developed a 7 Step Guide to Help Children Fall in Love with Books and Reading. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips to help parents and grandparents engage children with books. You can download the guide here:

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. Apart from writing and reading, she loves painting, and gardening.

Write is Right by Dellani Oakes


 I’m the first to admit that I can’t spell. If it weren’t for spell check, the greatest invention in the modern age, I’d never get anything written. Next best, on-line dictionaries, because now I don’t have guess every time I can’t spell a word. If I misspell a word when looking it up, the program will ask me if I mean…. And it gives me suggestions.

I misspell stupid things—anything with IE or EI, will always be reversed. Fortunately, the computer notices and changes it for me. Yay! Necessary. Camouflage. Bureaucrat. These are examples of words I frequently misspell. There are others, but I am most consistently wrong with these. I can usually get through necessary, but I have to spell it to myself as I go. I can’t just type or write it.

When I was a teenager, I had an extensive vocabulary. With a college English professor for a father and an elementary school teacher for a mother, how could I not? Unfortunately, I couldn’t spell the extensive vocabulary and had to rely on much more basic things. When I asked my English teacher about it, he told me to “Look it up.” “But how,” I asked. “Can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it?” No one ever had a good explanation. It took me years to learn that if it wasn’t under the spelling I thought, that was wrong, I had to try something else. Tedious process. Again, thank god for spell check and on-line dictionaries!

I finally cracked down and put my mind toward spelling better when my English teacher, Mr. Frakes, gave me back a paper that said: “For story and content A. For mechanics F.” Much embarrassed, I decided that perhaps spelling did matter. It was a long process, and it only partially took, but I have finally gotten more conversant with spelling. I had thought of writing this piece, leaving the typos in, but decided that made me look way stupider than I was willing to look and I corrected them. I’m all for window dressing, but that would have been a little much.

I was grateful to Mr. Frakes for teaching me something else with that one message. That was to be as fair to my students as possible. I adopted that method of grading when I became a teacher, because I had some brilliant students who couldn’t spell their way out of a wet paper sack. One even bought a “Bad Speller’s Dictionary” only to find that his misspellings were so messed up, they weren’t in there. My heart went out to him. I felt his pain! More than once, he’d hand in a paper with the same word spelled three or four different ways, all wrong. I asked him about it once.

“I figured if I tried it different ways, one of them would be right.”

Sadly, he was completely wrong in that assumption. Somehow, he defied the laws of averages and statistics, defied the gods of grammar and still managed to mess it up completely. I lost track of him once he graduated. I hope he, like I, learned to spell and that he can find compassion in his heart for others the way I had compassion for him.


In addition to writing, Dellani Oakes is a prominent host on Blog Talk Radio.

About Music …

Music moves us. Whether it be to make us happy, sad, or (in some rare cases) violent, music affects our emotions. The authors of the Write Room have shared their thoughts and feelings about music and how it shapes our lives. (Dellani Oakes)


Daddy’s Music by Linda Palmer

I didn’t realize how cool my daddy was until after my mother died and we had him to ourselves for five years. He was very quiet; Mother was the go-between. Yet without me realizing it, he made me who I am today. A huge influence was his love for music. Daddy, who played alto sax in high school, loved the sounds of Lawrence Welk, Paul Mauriat, James Last, Leroy Anderson, and Mantovani. He was also into Broadway musicals, so my sisters and I still know every word of Camelot, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, South Pacific and a slew of others. Daddy went from vinyls, to eight-tracks, to tapes, to CDs, with quadraphonic in there somewhere. He had great sound systems in his cars, and I loved long Sunday afternoon rides listening to whatever musical score was his favorite at the time. (Can anyone else out there recognize every song from Midnight Cowboy?)

I’m eternally grateful for his eclectic tastes, which ultimately impacted mine. There aren’t many music genres I don’t like, and I’m always up for listening to something new. So thanks, Daddy. You get full credit for the chills I get when music truly moves me. I just wish you hadn’t pawned your saxophone to pay down on a house all those years ago. I’d love to hear you play it.


Let the music play on by by Jon Magee

“If music be the food of love, play on”, wrote William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3)

Music has the ability to move us—our memories and our imaginations. So many times, I’ve heard a song on the radio, on a commercial, or during a movie, and found myself transported to another place and time. The lyrics and the melody remind me of a moment I’ve experienced, a memory I haven’t recalled for ages, and I’ll feel everything that I felt back then.

I am not musical in terms of having the ability to play any musical instrument, but I do have an appreciation of music and have enjoyed the listening to it from an early age. I have no doubt that music has been a great means of communicating to the world in many ways. When I am writing, I have often used the memory of music and singing as a means of setting the scene for an era, or to bring out the expressions of emotions set in the heart of the characters whether it is the expression of love or the feelings of sadness.

Even the Philosopher of the 1960’s, Mr Michael Jagger, used the medium of song as he shared his philosophy of life with those who supported him. Along with a group called “The Rolling Stones” he sang “You can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want , You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need”. Clearly that would be true in many other walks of life. Looking back through the ages it was the singing of particular songs that became the heart of the peace movements and many political campaigns too, as well as the religious revivals through the ages. When people recall the Wesleyan revivals they would often equate it with the music of the Wesley brother and Toplady. Likewise the same vein may be applied to the Welsh Revival, and not forgetting how Moody is a name that is still linked to Sankey.

Music is also the great leveller of life too. Our singing abilities may not be as good as others, but the needs expressed will be something that can touch us all in one form or another as we sing or listen. We all identify with the words “all you need is love” as the Beatles put it. Perhaps we can identify with Buddy Holly as he sang of his personal unrequited love experience with Peggy Sue. (Peggy Sue was not a made up name, it was a real person who he knew in his life.) Can we not also sense the heartbreak of the New York mining tragedy as the Bee Gees sang “Have you seen my wife Mr Jones? Do you know what it’s like on the outside?” Music will bring out the cheer and also the tears. In our music will come our humanity and the road many of us take in human life. But above everything, may music be the food of love in our lives!


Mood Music by Patricia Dusenbury

I listen to music while writing. Jeff Buckley’s audible exhale at the beginning of Hallelujah stops me cold. I hold my breath, waiting for him to begin singing. The line “…all I’ve ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you,” evokes thoughts of love as a power struggle, the things vulnerable humans do to each other. I’m reminded that some things, once broken, cannot be fixed. I’m ready to write about grief and the pain of love lost or, worse, thrown away.

Cole Porter said that Night and Day was about obsession, not love. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald et al. sang it as a love song, but not U2. Their version captures passion that defies reason. In the video, Bono slides a razor blade across his thumb. I listen and write about physical attraction that overwhelms common sense, love as a form of insanity.

It’s not all noir. I also use music to evoke time and place. My mysteries are set in New Orleans and the bayou country. Jazz, blues, Dixieland or zydeco – it depends upon what I’m trying to write. I put on the music, listen, and I’m back there. Ditto the songs popular when I was in high school and college.

There’s one vivid musical memory I’ve not used – not yet. Years ago, I walked into an ice cream parlor in Palm Springs. Three middle-aged women (younger than I am now) sat at the counter, eating overpriced ice cream. They licked it off their spoons with evident pleasure, while Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat played on the jukebox. Whenever I hear that song, I see those women, and I smile. One day, they’ll be in a book.


As a child, Patricia Dusenbury read under the covers into the wee hours. Despite sleep deprivation, she managed to get through college and a career as an economist. Now retired, she hopes to atone for all those dry reports by writing novels that people read for pleasure. 

Her first book, A Perfect Victim, won the 2015 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) award for best mystery. The sequel, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, was a top ten finisher in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. A House of Her Own, which will be released October 16, completes the trilogy.


Timpani by Kenneth Weene

My Junior High School Music teacher pulled me aside and offered a simple solution to our dilemma. “Kenneth, don’t sing, just mouth the words and I’ll give you a passing grade.”

Thankful to end the embarrassment of all heads turning towards me whenever I hit a “note” that had never been heard before, I agreed to acoustic exile.

In boarding school I tried out for the chorus, which shared concerts and dances with girls’ schools. The chorus director assured me if ever he found a piece of music that included my one note repertoire he’d add me to the roster.

Not being able to sing didn’t dampen my love of music. I think I know when somebody else is on tune. I love the sense of tempo, especially when timpani lead the way, which immediately suggests classical music. Not surprisingly, my favorite composers are from Eastern Europe. Dvořák, Bartok, Scriabin, Shostakovich, and Mahler are my big five. Say Slavic music and I’m ready not just to listen but viscerally take part—feet tapping, hands waving, and head bobbing. Drawing on my Junior High lesson, I sit at the rear of a section where my gyrations won’t disturb others.

Driving is one of the better times to listen to music although I do have to be careful not to take my hands of the wheel and conduct or tap the rhythm on the gas pedal.

Driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park my musical selection was Mahler. Perhaps Dvořák would have been a better choice, The New World Symphony, but I love the sweeping grandeur of Mahler and it went perfectly with the majesty of the mountains. We rounded a bend. Grazing in a small meadow was a herd of elk. The music, the mountains, and the elk came together in the moment.

Without thought or care, I began to sing along. The inhibitions learned in adolescence dropped away and for the moment I was one with the music.

Which brings us to the most important part of that sacred moment. My wife did not cover her ears. She did not stare at me and shake her head. No, she smiled sweetly and said nothing.

Finally, when we had passed the elk and the last notes of that symphony had faded from the CD player, she commented. “That’s a relief. The way you were singing I thought one of those bulls was going to get in the car and try to mate with you.”


Writer, poet, and social commentator Kenneth Weene is generally an easygoing fellow, but arm him with an imaginary baton and chaos can ensue. You can find Ken’s books at


Transported by Music by Trish Jackson

Music truly is the language of the soul. I can’t imagine anyone in the world not being moved to tears at least few times in their lives by a musical score or a song. Music brings back memories; music calms us; music ignites a flame in us. To quote Wordsworth. ‘Music is the universal language of mankind.’

Music also has a way of transporting us to another place and time. Every now and then you may hear a song you haven’t heard for years, and immediately be taken back to the time when the song meant something to you. You can clearly picture the scene and even smell the scent of it.

I grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Africa, where every young person in the entire country—or so it seemed—listened to the LM Hit Parade on Sunday nights, broadcast from Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique.

I was a boarder at high school because our farm was too far away from any town for commuting. Like any boarding school, we had to obey some strict rules. Radios were not allowed to be on after lights out, and in those days they didn’t come with earphones. Armed with a flashlight and a sharp tongue, the duty matron patrolled the dorms in the dark, and if a radio was on, it was confiscated for the rest of the semester.

Only the seniors were allowed to have the radio on after lights out expressly to hear the LM Hit Parade on a Sunday night. It took a while, but I finally made it to my senior year. At the time in 1969, songs like Soldier Boy by the Shirelles, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells, and Touch Me by the Doors were somewhere near the top, and whenever I hear any of those songs, I am back to our dorm in the darkness. I can still feel the excitement as the countdown progressed.

In 1974, the radio station was closed down during the Portuguese revolution, and the facilities were nationalized. I thought that was the end of it, but surprisingly, with the advent of the Internet and Internet radio stations, it has since been revived, and they play all the old songs from their former era.


Trish Jackson writes rural romantic suspense and romantic comedy, which always includes pets.


Inappropriate Musical Tastes by Dellani Oakes

I have inappropriate musical tastes for a woman my age. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open…. Apparently, I should be a fan of Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr. While I like some of their music, it certainly isn’t my favorite, or even in my top five. Okay, let’s be honest, not even in my top twenty. However, women of a certain age, are expected to like certain things, but I don’t fall into that category.

That sort of misconception started in my late thirties. I had to go for an extended MRI, nearly three hours of thudding and clanking, because I’d developed tinnitus in my left ear. When I got there, the young men running the test asked me what I wanted to listen to.

“What do you have?”

They listed off a few albums and I wrinkled my nose.

“Got anything good?”

“We’ve got some Steely Dan,” one remarked, somewhat hesitantly.

“Which album?”

“Um… Aja and Greatest Hits.”

“That sounds good. Anything else?”

They had some Jethro Tull, but that was as exotic as the choices were. Good enough, far better than the other things they offered. They were pleased, because they mostly had to listen to Big Band and Buddy Holly all day.

“It’s good to have someone in here who appreciates good music,” the other told me as he set up the CD player.

However, when I had to go back a few years later, for an MRI on my neck, the girl didn’t even ask. She put the radio on easy listening. Radio in the first place, not my choice. Too many commercials. And easy listening? Do I look like I want easy listening? Where is the Hendrix, the Zeppelin? Bring on the Floyd! A pox on easy listening! It puts me into a pop induced coma in which I shall surely languish until someone plays metal.

I’ve decidedly surprised people with my eclectic musical tastes. On one such occasion, I had to go get my tires rotated. I’d been listening to a Rammstein CD in the car, and had left it cued up to the song I wanted to hear on my way home. I didn’t think about the fact that someone would turn on the car and have it blast from the speakers when they moved it to the service area. I was in the waiting room, reading my book, when the young mechanic walked in, looking expectant.

“Black Kia Optima?”

I stood up and he took a step back, clutching his chest.

“Wow, not what I expected,” he said with a grin.

“Why?” I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not.

“Well, based on the CD in the car, I thought it would be some guy my age.” He laughed loudly. “You don’t really look the type.”

“Oh, what type do I look?” The challenging tone was unmistakable.

He chuckled, taking another step back. “Not the type to like heavy metal. What band is that?”

“A German group called Rammstein.”

“It’s really good. I hope you don’t mind that I listened to it while I worked on the car.”

“Not at all! I’m glad you liked it.”

“I’m gonna look for more of their music. That’s some good stuff.” He smiled, shaking his head. “Really wouldn’t peg you for listening to that kind of music.”

I took a step toward him, talking quietly. “I also like Jimi Hendrix, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Iron Maiden.”

“No shit?” I didn’t think I could have shocked him more if I’d put 50,000 volts through him.


I wrote this while listening (inappropriately) to Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tool, The Diamond Light, Pink Floyd, Noah Gundersen, X Ambassadors with Jamie N. Commons, and Marilyn Manson. Would you like a play list?

Dellani Oakes is a (mostly) appropriate author who thinks inappropriate thoughts as she listens to music she shouldn’t like. How do you know when Dellani is awake and working? There’s music playing, (inappropriately loudly).

Fush and Chups! How to speak like a Kiwi!

fush and chups

Aloha and Kia ora everyone,

In light of my new book just released on St Paddy’s Day ~Hawaiian Lei ~ the first book in The Hawaiians series, I thought it might be fun to talk about a subject fellow Muse It Up author, Ken Hicks suggested. He asked whether “flat tack” was a Kiwi or Hawaiian phrase. Then Monya Clayton, another Muse author contributed the “flat out like a lizard drinking” Australian saying. Thanks Ken (a Yank) and Monya (an Aussie.) J

We Kiwis and the Aussies avoid using proper words AT ALL TIMES. LOL.

No, we New Zealanders are not named after the small, round, brown, fuzzy fruit. J We’re named after our national bird, THE Kiwi. A small(ish,) round, brown, fuzzy bird. It’s about the size of a chook(chicken,) flightless, and riddled with fleas! As national symbols go, it’s not up there with the mighty American eagle, but we’re terribly proud of it anyway.

It represents New Zealand’s uniqueness well. Stuck at the bottom of the world, largely cut off for years, we’ve developed our own language and culture. We’re similar to the Aussies, but not quite the same… Like New Zealand, their culture is largely influenced by immigrants from the UK but also Europeans that came out in large numbers in the fifties and sixties.

New Zealand though has a native New Zealand Maori background, giving us a Polynesian mix in our culture. It’s only recently that Australia has started to give more acknowledgement to the native people of Australia—the Aborigine and it hasn’t influenced the culture as strongly.

So, our national symbol—THE Kiwi bird is as unique as we are.

It has external nostrils on its long bill to sniff out food. Belonging to the ratite family, it’s the smallest member which includes ostriches and emus. Its eggs are HUGE and the male does most of the incubating and egg sitting. Despite a stroppy (volatile, pissed off) relationship between them, Mum and Dad Kiwi bird are monogamous and live in pairs, mating mostly for life. But the woman bird wears the pants—she’s bigger and dominates the male. No wonder New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote!

Our culture and character is unique and I bring these differences to my books when I write my Kiwi and American characters. I recently started a part-time job where I’m on the phones helping customers. Because I’m learning, I often have to put them on hold to ask my supervisor what the hell I’m doing. LOL. And unbeknown to the poor customer, I can hear their comments in the background, while I’m fossicking around (trying to work out where the bloody info is I need.) (Fossick – find.)

They like my accent, but can’t always work out where it’s from. I’ve heard I’m sexy, cute, Irish, Australian… “She says wee.” “She said, ‘Just a tick.” When a customer manages to hit New Zealand, I think I should give them a special prize. LOL. It’s also made me acutely aware of how strong my accent still is and how many Kiwisms, idioms, phrases and words I use without being aware of it.

Monya reminded me we all use “flat out” but they also use “flat out like a lizard drinking,” and “flat strap.” 🙂

Flat out like a lizard drinking:

Extremely busy, at top speed. Working hard. This is a word play on two different meanings of the standard English “flat out.” The literal sense is to lie fully stretched out (like a lizard,) and the figurative sense means as fast as possible. The phrase also alludes to the rapid tongue-movement of a drinking lizard. It is sometimes shortened, as in “we’re flat out like a lizard trying to meet the deadline.”

This was from

Yes, how that is shortened, I’m not sure. It’s one of those weird idiosyncrasies of Australasian English. We like shortening words and if we can’t do that—we lengthen them instead. J We have convos, bizzos, arvos and cuppas.

“So, I said, look mate, if you want to have a decent convo about this bizzo, too right. We can have a cuppa this arvo, then have some tea down the pub. Ring bugalugs and see if he’ll be around. Last time I saw him, he looked like he’d been pulled through a gorse bush backwards. He might’ve have been a wee bit crook. We can put the jug on and rustle up some biccies too if you’re lucky…”

Right. So I hope you were all keeping up with that conversation. The number of times I use expressions and everyone looks blankly at me is quite funny.

What was just said:

“I said, look mate (friend or just a general male person,) if you want to have a decent (good) convo (conversation) about this bizzo (business, matter to be discussed,) too right. (I agree.) We can have a cuppa (cup of tea) this arvo, (afternoon,) then have some tea (dinner, not the stuff you drink and we only drink black tea generally with milk and sugar) down the pub, (at the hotel or bar). Ring bugalugs (general name for someone, could be a friend or just a general person) and see if he’ll be around. Last time I saw him, he looked like he’d been pulled through a gorse bush backwards. (He looked unkempt, or scruffy.) He might have been a wee bit crook. (unwell, ill.) We can put the jug on (electric kettle to boil water. The moment you walk in the door in anyone’s house in NZ, they say, “I’ll just put the jug on.” You’ll be expected to have a cup of tea or coffee.) and rustle up some biccies (short for biscuits, which are cookies) too if you’re lucky…”

Here’s a Kiwi slang page. Change the letter at the end for the rest of the alphabet.

As well as talking nineteen to the dozen—we talk very fast! We then have short vowel sounds or arbitrarily miss some out altogether. Our accent marks are in different locations sometimes. LOL.

Batteries for the Americans are Batt-ter-ries. We say Batt-ries.

Pro-duce in the States is prod-uce in New Zealand.

To-may-to, To-ma-to… let’s work the whole thing out. J

On top of this incomprehensible list of sayings, we have a distinct accent. Yes, we do sound like the Aussies (and that’s Oz-zees… not Oss-sees) but our accents are subtlety different. J The Australians have a more nasally sound while ours is flat and monotone.

They say feesh and cheeps. We say fush and chups.

Yes, we do get a bit “thingee” being mistaken for Aussies even though we are similar. But no we don’t hate them—only when they beat us in rugby. And especially if the All Blacks—our international rugby team—are playing. It’s our national religion in New Zealand and is taken very, Very, VERY seriously. However, if the Wallabies (the Aussie international rugby team) are playing against the English or Springbok, (the South Africans) we support them. It’s terribly complicated. J

The New All Blacks do a Maori haka before every game, as do most Kiwi sports teams now. 🙂 It’s a challenge to the other team. Ka mate, ka mate, roughly means “to the death” and variations of dying. It means they will fight to the death.

We don’t really don’t mean it in general. In rugby? Well… J There’s a lot of good-natured ribbing back and forth between the two nations. Not all our words are the same though. One that’s different is “dag.”

If you say someone’s “a bit of a dag,” in NZ, it means they’re funny, a bit of a character.

In Australia, it means they’re not that nice or a bit of a drongo. (Idiot)Dags are the fecal matter that sticks to sheep’s wooly bums. (backsides, butts) Not that complimentary if you think about it. Lol. You’ll also hear “rattle your dags,” in Australia, meaning to get a move on.

Whereas our dag comes from a comedian in NZ called Fred Dagg who took the mickey out of farmers and farming things. He was a scream.

Right… so I hope you’re all keeping up! There’ll be a quiz at the end of this blog. J We “take the mickey” (tease or rib) out of all sorts of things. We’re quite irreverent and anything is fair game.

On my first trip to Australia, I insulted lots of the Aussies. When someone asked me, so what do you think of so and so. I’d say, “Yeah, they’re a bit of a dag.”

The Aussies would look a bit startled. “Really? You really think so.”

And I’d enthusiastically say, “Yes, yes, a real dag.”

Thus making things even worse… I couldn’t work out their puzzled looks. It wasn’t until I got to the end of my trip (of course) that I realized I’d insulted half of Australia when my uncle explained the two meanings.

Oops. Sorry!! 🙂

So, back to our original thing Ken asked about. Flat out…

It’s suggested it came from the dawn of the motor car where you had your foot “flat out” to the floorboards and you’d be going “like the clappers.” (very fast.) Or a horse race where the rider lies flat against the horse, cutting down the aerodynamic effects. Possibly that’s where flat tack comes from. Flat to the tack?? (Horse tack or tackle possibly.) Not sure.

You can be flat out racing. “Going like the clappers.” (Fast).

Flat out broke. Not a cent to your name.

Flat out indignant—absolutely indignant.

It tends to heighten what is going on. Flat out brilliant—really brilliant.

We used to tell people “ladies a plate—men a crate.” The men would bring beer that used to come in big bottles in a crate. Many a poor woman turned up with an empty plate—not realizing it meant bring something yummy to eat on a plate to share, often baking.  

And we’re a wee bit fierce about our baking and sweeties.

Our national dessert – the Pavlova! Now the Aussies reckon it’s their dessert. They DID name it. It was named after Anna Pavlova the ballet dance. BUT fierce and intensive NON-BIASED research suggests the Kiwis made it first as a ‘Meringue cake.’ The Aussies will kill me for this. 🙂

We also do the Hokey Pokey!! No, not the dance, but the confectionary. LOL.

Hokey Pokey is a New Zealand institution. As we say in the old country ~ World Famous in New Zealand! Honeycomb candy that it put in everything we can think of. Fabulous in ice cream!! I love it!

I have never figured out EXACTLY where this comes from but somewhere in the UK, brought out with the people that immigrated to New Zealand in the 1840’s. A long way from anywhere, they had to largely fend for themselves and “Kiwi Ingenuity” was born.

KIwi Ingenuity” is a unique part of our culture. It means we can fix just about anything “with a piece of number eight fencing wire.” We are young European wise and still have a large pioneering spirit on board. Being on the other side of the world, far from anywhere (even Australia – 3 and 1/2 hours away by modern aircraft) we had to “make do,” often making things ourselves out of what was available. This fierce independence lives on today in Kiwi Culture. We pride ourselves on it.

Our Kiwi culture includes lots of funny wee sayings.

If you’re doing anything for Africa, it means you’re doing a lot of it. “She was shopping for Africa.” “They were partying for Africa.” It’s applied to all sorts of things. 🙂

They’re “a wee bit feral.” (Often refers to someone’s ‘darling’ offspring) meaning they’re out of control and a wee bit on the wild side.

If someone is “as mad as a meataxe.” They’re bonkers (slightly nuts, not dangerous, but just slightly unhinged or odd.)

And if something is “as silly as a two bob watch.” That refers to something that’s a wee bit ridiculous. A two bob watch was something pretty cheap and nasty and cost two bob, (in old currency before we went to metric, dollars and cents.) Given it was so cheap, it was unreliable and did silly things like not keep time correctly, slowing down or speeding up.

Some of our sayings have deep English, Scottish and Irish roots and you’ll hear them in the American South as well. “As slow as a wet week”(it’s taking ages and is dragging) or “like a month of Sundays.” (A very long time.)

My speech has the Scottish “wee” in it as all Southern New Zealanders do from the South Island. When the Scottish immigrated to New Zealand, they brought their delightful accent with them. They started out in Dunedin in the far south of the South Island and the wee has spread up the whole island for some reason. Even my dad who’s an Aucklander and Northerner originally, uses the wee now in his speech.

We get stroppy when we’re angry. And throw wobblies and berkies.(temper tantrums.)

We swear a lot more than Americans and are a largely secular country—using words like god, Christ, good lord has no real religious meaning. It’s just a set of words that gives emphasis.

We use bloody and bugger a lot—in all sorts of circumstances. They’re mild inoffensive swear words, that have multi-purpose meanings. It’s like saying damn or darn in the States.

“That bugger of a mongrel ate the bloody leg of lamb for tea.”

(“That darn dog ate the damn leg of lamb for dinner.”)

Things can be buggered (they don’t work.)

“Well bugger me!” (An expression of surprise.)

“Bugger, Bob.” (I’m annoyed with Bob.)

“I buggered up the paperwork.” (I made a mess of the paperwork.)

“Bugger!” (Darn, that’s a shame.)

“I’ll bugger off home then.” (I’ll go home.)

In my new book Hawaiian Lei which is out tomorrow, I have a glossary of words used at the end of the book. I also have words lists on my website at

I’m as pleased as punch to have my new book coming out. It’s a sensuous, heartfelt male/male gay romance set in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.

I’m born and bred in New Zealand but my American home state is Hawai’i. Combining these two special cultures into one story has really called to my heart and soul. I’ve lived in the States for 20 odd years now and have become a hybrid of both New Zealand and America. I received my citizenship in the courthouse over in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i. It ‘s the perfect blend of the Polynesian Pacific Island culture which sings to my soul, combined with the convenience of the American lifestyle I’ve become used to. I am happiest at home in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai’i. J

All my stories are ultimately about soul deep relationships, the intense love and connection we all crave with another human being. The core need to be accepted just as we are.

I hope you enjoy our Kiwiana and enjoy the new book Hawaiian Lei. I loved writing using my Kiwi and Hawaiian voices. It’s lovely to showcase my own countrymen and the gorgeous aloha state of Hawai’i. 🙂

Mahalo and aloha Meg. :-).


Meg Amor

Meg Amor, a multi-published contemporary author, has always believed in love and romance. She writes deep, sensual, romance stories about heartfelt connections and deep soul relationships. Meg feels that passionate sex, as well as her characters inner workings—their vulnerabilities, emotions, and thoughts—are what make a love story exciting and real. She loves to write sensual, erotic romance, with committed poly, and gay male/male relationships.

Meg hand-wrote and “published” her first book when she was eleven about her parent’s separation. Constantly told as a child she had a vivid and (over) active imagination, the dawn of the computer era meant she could now take dictation at speed from the interesting characters galloping around her head.

She grew up in New Zealand, and temporarily lives in California with her American fur children: Leo Ray Jr., and Mr. Beaumont, the Ginger Ninjas. Her heart and soul are split between her American home state of Hawai’i in Kona on the Big Island, and the sultry, steamy Southern city of New Orleans. Nearly all her books are set in Hawai’i or New Orleans, along with snatches of New Zealand for good luck.

Meg’s a gypsy at heart and loves to travel all over the world. She has a love of open cockpit biplanes and the gentle waft into the air from a grass strip. Given a choice, she’d eat out most nights. Fine dining, French, Fusion, Afghani, and Burmese food are some of her all-time favorites. But her favorite junk food is New Zealand fish and chips cooked in pure fat. Never one to do things by halves, she believes in the motto “Amor Vincet Omnia”—Love Conquers All.


Do Words Change Our Responses to Violence and Injustice?   By Joyce F. Elferdink

Doublespeak_From a book cover on Doublespeak by Matthew Feldman                                      cover

Scene 1; Take I

 Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, the station that usually bore me gently back to the living, instead shocked me into a fully awake state today with this news flash:

A bomb exploded last night in Our Savior Catholic Church, killing at least 220 persons. Most of the dead are high school students who were practicing for a fundraising concert to continue Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta. No group has yet taken credit for this heinous act, although evidence points to an anti-gay group. Our Savior’s priest who allowed the church to sponsor meetings of Until Love is Equal is among the dead. Most of the families of the dead teens were already reeling from the announcement last week by Heinz Distillers NA that positions for 700 of the 1476 currently employed locally will be abolished by month end and the lines moved overseas. With unemployment in the area already at a twenty hear high, the surviving family members will become poor overnight. The company’s CEO, Nicholas Nastii, defended the firings as necessary to remain competitive. He was quoted as saying, “Our wage expenses were too high, especially when the jobs required a level of expertise unavailable. We’ve contracted with Employment Services to help those being downsized find more suitable jobs.”


Scene 1; Take II

Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, I brushed my teeth as I half listened to the announcer discuss last night’s news. Something about an incident that occurred somewhere in the area…

Student workers—as many as 220–have been reclassified as collateral damage. The youth were practicing for a concert in a faith-based facility when the mishap occurred. This comes at a very bad time for most of the families. Many of the teens and their parents were employed by Heinz Distillers NA. The company, the region’s major employer, just last week announced plans to outsource fifty percent of its bottling unit to the U.S., a very large end user and said to have cheaper immigrant labor. Surveys of families affected by the mishap and downsizing indicate the majority will be forced  into the ranks of the economically disadvantaged.  Heinz CEO says that is not so. “These people only need to revise their employment expectations. Those who are willing to work will be able to afford all necessities.”

How differently did your mind and heart respond when the news reporter used the following terms instead of plain English: Collateral damage  instead of  death and property destruction; downsizing instead firing; economically disadvantaged instead of poor; mishap instead of catastrophe. There’s also outsourced and faith-based, which some would label doublespeak.

This is my attempt at doublespeak, a term that combines George Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ that he originated for his political novel 1984.” As he saw it: “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” (George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946)

In 1974, the National Council of Teachers of English established a Doublespeak Award, given annually to “public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered.” Recipients have included the CIA, Exxon Corporation, the U.S. Department of Defense (three times), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Glenn Beck.
[Retrieved from]

What person or organization would you nominate for the Doublespeak Award, whether public speakers, writers, or  other “taxpayers”—oops, are all citizens taxpayers? And please explain the criteria for your selection.


Joyce Elferdink’s Bio:

This author thinks of herself as a teacher, apprentice, traveler and activist. Her inspiration comes from life experiences and an overactive imagination (nothing new to authors) and by the diverse novels she reads (but primarily science fiction). This summer she was stunned to receive an Excellence in Teaching award from her employer, Davenport University. Now if she could only get one of those equally prestigious awards for her novel, Pieces of You or the one just begun, The Battle of Jericho, 2035. Actually, her primary purpose for writing is to make readers think about questions we all may be asking.