A Song of the Barber

Sunrise over Greymouth, the township is aglow,

Chasing out the specters that wintry nights bestow:

Shadows of prospectors wisp along the river’s brink,

Dreaming of their fortunes, then falling in the drink.


The Barber’s down the river, a wicked blanket for the town,

Bitter tears to drown you, an icicle-tipped crown.

Shards of frozen temper poised to pierce your heart,

A blade to cut right through you, a frigid steel-tipped dart.


It’s a heartless beast, that Barber, with its devilish caress,

And if you froze within it, it would not care less:

Travel through it at your peril, for it will take its toll,

Wrapping bony fingers of barbed wire around your soul.


Wild and woolly Greymouth is waking from its sleep,

Whilst those wicked winds of Westland to the ocean stealthily creep.

The streets, they will be safer when the Barber takes its leave,

And the sunshine over Greymouth brings a dazzling reprieve.

-Katrina A. Brown

May, 2017

On Coming Home – Paula Morris Explores What it Means to Be a New Zealand Writer

Taipei Writers Group

The declamatory return; a homeland as a “wearying enigma”. This all makes sense to me. The New Zealand that’s home to me may be a place of sheep and rugby and number-eight wire, whatever that is, but it’s also none of those things. Am I still a New Zealander?

Award-winning author Paula Morris‘ 80 page essay On Coming Home explores her own return to New Zealand, articulating questions that have been swirling in my own head since I came back home in December 2014. What does returning to New Zealand mean? Do I belong here? Can I write here? Is there a set of rules to being a New Zealander? To being a New Zealand writer?

When [Janet] Frame decided to return to New Zealand, she recalled the advice of Frank Sargeson. “Remember you’ll never know another country like that when you spent your earliest years. You’ll never be…

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Night Market – Our Second Anthology is Released!

Even though I am now in New Zealand, I remain connected in writing to Taipei Writers’ Group. My story, “Bound” was one that begged to be told.

Taipei Writers Group

Back in February, we celebrated the creation of our first anthology, Taiwan Tales. To revisit  our amazement and celebration at the completion of our vision, refer back to this blog post.

Members have been jokingly referring to our books as “having babies”. Having had two babies, I think there is definitely similarity in the way we forget the pain and joyfully suggest, “Let’s make another!” And make another, we did.

From the creation and first edits of the stories to the artwork, the blurb, and the layout of the e-book and print versions, many members of Taipei Writers’ Group have given their very best skills and expertise to make Night Market a production that the group is proud of. Having moved back to New Zealand in December 2014, I was probably the writer least involved in the production process, and I am indebted to the dedicated souls that worked…

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Why Isn’t My Tablet Promoting My Creativity?

Taipei Writers Group

I love technology. I was an “early adopter” growing up, getting an Amiga 2000 and a CD player way before anyone else on my street. I excelled in Computer Studies and Secretarial Studies, mastering both the BBC Archimedes and the Brother Electric Typewriter. I ran an online business for seven years and have been offering IT support to teachers for the past few months. So, it is only natural I would gravitate toward a tablet for my creative needs, and seeing fellow writers in the group tapping out words even as we went through our real live meetings cemented the idea in my head. I needed a tablet. It would inspire me, speed up my creative process, take scraps of paper out of my life, and make me kinder to the planet.

Here it is. My tablet. It’s beautiful. It feels good in my hands.

The prettiest thing I own - why doesn't it work for me? The prettiest thing I own…

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The Ultimate Writer’s Guide to Great Productivity by Tim Grahl

Taipei Writers Group

A while ago, I subscribed to updates from Tim Grahl (founder of Out:think, “a firm that works with authors to build their platform and sell more books”). A few of his ideas have really resonated with me, and I especially appreciate this latest post where he shares a clearly-written plan for increasing productivity, whilst cherishing family, work, and fitness.

A friendly reminder - Photo by K A Brown A friendly reminder – Photo by K A Brown

Grahl has included some free templates with the post. You need to provide an email address to get the download.

My personal takeaway from this online guide is:

-Don’t sit down in front of the computer without a clear plan of what I want to achieve.
-Plan writing goals longer-term.
-Stop reading material on questionably-relevant topics.
-Buy an alarm clock and start using it!

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Book Recommendation – From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction

Taipei Writers Group

From Amazon:

Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, teaches graduate fiction at Florida State University — his version of literary boot camp. In From Where You Dream, Butler reimagines the process of writing as emotional rather than intellectual, and tells writers how to achieve the dreamspace necessary for composing honest, inspired fiction. Proposing that fiction is the exploration of the human condition with yearning as its compass, Butler reinterprets the traditional tools of the craft using the dynamics of desire. Offering a direct view into the mind and craft of a literary master, From Where You Dream is an invaluable tool for the novice and experienced writer alike.

From Me:

I am reading this book for the third time in two months. As this book is an arrangement of transcripts of Butler’s lectures and classes, reading this book makes me feel like I am in…

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Writing in Fits – And Places

Taipei Writers Group

Having taken a rather long hiatus from creative writing, I let it back into my life late last year. My two children were both in school and fairly stable, and it seemed life was going to go fairly smoothly from then on. Of course, things are not usually what they seem to be, so I was not totally surprised when chaos set in to our daily routine once again. This time, however, I was not going to be defeated. I was going to write through the storm. Having spent the last few months finding opportunities to write in five- or ten-minute slots, and very-much “on-the-go”, I am ready to share four photographs illustrating where and how I write.

A quiet moment. A quiet moment.

1. Our deck. I’m blessed to have a household of people who enjoy sleeping in. On the weekends, I sometimes manage to creep downstairs, make coffee, and sit at the…

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Being a Mother is a Great Excuse

Taipei Writers Group

I really do love summer vacation. I love taking my kids out and about. We explore the island together, and find lots of great little places to share with friends on my Taiwan-based family travel blog www.kidzone-tw.com. It also means I have daily excuses for not writing. Actually, I should change that verb to “had”. I spent the first two weeks of this summer vacation making up a ton of excuses for not writing. I stared into the sink every morning, cursed my children for existing, and blamed them for my lack of productivity. That’s not exactly fair now, is it? I spent more time cursing their being home for “interrupting my writing” than doing any productive activity (writing or otherwise). The start of the third week, I looked into that sink and saw a revelation. Motherhood was not stopping me. My own procrastination techniques were stopping me. I…

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Gravatar – Grappling With Author Identity

Taipei Writers Group

I have had my own blogs online, with photographs of myself, for several years now.  Therefore, I was surprised at the rise in my stress levels when it was suggested I get a Gravatar profile.   Gravatar is a “Globally Recognized Avatar”.  Gravatar as a fantastic tool to help people streamline their online information for a number of different services.  For me, this tool comes loaded with a weighty question:

Who is this writer version of me and how does it connect to the rest of my life?

Getting a Gravatar profile has meant a couple of big things:

1. I’ve had to stand on my own two feet, with a photo devoid of the family I usually lean on or hide behind. As THE WRITER, I am alone in my decisions – and my photos.

2. I’ve had to make a name choice and be done with it.  No more…

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