Motivational Monday. Ships are Safe in Harbour.

I’m addicted to this poem.
Ships Are Safe in the Harbour
All I live for is now
All I stand for is where and how
All I wish for are magic moments

As I sail through change
My resolve remains the same
What I chose are magic moments

Because ships are safe in the harbour
But that is not what ships are made for
The mind could stretch much further
But it seems that is not what our minds are trained for

We call for random order
You can’t control Mother nature’s daughter

Ships are safe in the harbour
But that is not what ships are built for

The witch hunter roams
The scary thing is that he’s not alone
He’s trying to down my magic moments

As we sail through change
Ride the wind of a silent rage
And sing laments of magic moments

– Anon

Mamacitas Restaurant. Holler Hola!

Talk about going off topic. But aside from being a good writing exercise, its my moral obligation to shout the love for those who keep me supping salt rimmed margaritas while eating Mexican inspired food with a hint of a Spanish heart.
Judging by the effortless way the staff worked the floor, its hard to believe Mamacitas Restaurant has only be open for a month or so. Located in the heart of Havelock North its given locals plenty to chit chat about.
I’m glad I tuned in. It helped, as the corporate peeps love to spruik, “to manage my expectations.”
If you’re looking to tuck into a plate of belt loosening Tex Mex nacho’s, refried beans infused with artery clogging lard, or a burrito swimming in a pool of cheesy tomato goo, you’re going leave feeling less bloated, but disappointed.
Same goes for the wines. There is no “wine menu”, only a house red and white. This will plummet the spirits of many wine savvy locals who take pride in living in the heart of wine country. At the very least they’ll want, no demand to know, whether the house offering is at least good.
But wine wasn’t on my agenda. The margarita and cerveza (beer) menu was. I started at the top with a classic margarita. The recipe calls for the right balance of tequila, lime and in this case, triple sec. Topped with a rim of salt, I sighed. Damn, it was as good as the bar shelves adorned with an impressive fancy looking line up of tequilas. Next time I’ll order a Patron.
But back to the margaritas. Oh my. By the time I finished my second margarita, I teetered on the brink of ordering a lagerita….no, that’s not a spelling mistake, but a marriage made in tequila cerveza heaven. Imagine a margarita topped with beer. Next time I promised, next time.
At most Mexican restaurants, it takes a good five minutes to get through the first read of the menu. At Mamacita’s, you’ll be done in thirty seconds. It’s tiny. But, in this case size doesn’t matter, quality over quantity of dishes offered does. Tapas style, smaller plates matched with reasonable prices are packed with flavor, and surprisingly generous portions.
Excluding the couple of salad options, there wasn’t much choice for vegetarians or vegans. I hope this will change. And rumor has it, guacamole will soon make its menu debut.
Our chilli prawns were fat, juicy and sensational, spoiled only by the clashing, mayo heavy coleslaw. My boyfriend’s appetite was rendered useless after devouring lip smacking ribs and fried chicken. Even though the chicken deserved more seasoning in the coating, he declared both “really good.” High praise indeed.
It’s hard, but I’m going to forgive my sneaking suspicion that the salsa was out of a can. More like a passata – it was nothing like the fresh zing of tomato and coriander homemade salsa. Tomato season is upon us – so I live in hope.
Thank god I’d just run the Auckland Marathon. I so deserved to eat ten plates of churros. These doughy, sweet, bite sized, crunchy, sugar cinnamon coated treats are highly addictive and impossible to refuse. And, it would have been rude of me not to dunk them into the bowl of rich decadent chocolate. Bliss.
I overheard one diner remark that the chocolate chili lime cake was delish and packed just the right amount of kick.
It’s obvious the team behind Mamacitas have given a lot of thought to creative direction. The end result is lush branding wrapped in a vibrant, fun and welcoming atmosphere. The watchful eyes of Frida Kahlo, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)  lend a tranquil calm to the frenetic energy and the never-ending comings and goings of people.
Mamacita’s, its busy, buzzing and bloody good. I’m going to return. After all I’ve got my eye on the chicken in mole sauce, but more importantly I have to do my bit to ensure the longevity of margaritas and Mexican food.
Mamacita Restaurant, 12 Havelock Road, Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Tel: 06 877 6200 – No bookings, turn up and hope for a table. If not, wait at the bar. It’s well worth the wait.
PS – This is an unsolicited review. I paid for dinner….no sorry, my boyfriend paid for dinner.

Post Running a Bad Marathon. 8 Reasons to Bring Back Puff.

Last Sunday, November 3, I laced up for the 2013 Adidas Auckland Marathon. My first as a fifty year old, my second marathon within six months.
As a gift to my 50 year old self I decided to run a marathon. Somehow through my fuddled post first marathon brain the gift super-sized. Two marathons later, and with three toenails missing, I’m richer for the experience.
My Wellington marathon has been blogged and blagged about. Auckland, well that’s a whole other story.
I’d certainly slogged out the training miles, often while the birds warbled renditions of the   dawn chorus. My shoes, neon pink and bright, matched my positive attitude, and I was confident I had enough in the tank to fuel me from the start in Devonport to the Victoria Park finish line. Total distance: 26 miles and 385 yards or 42.195 km’s.
Things started to unravel before my toe crossed the start line.
Without sounding like I’ve packed a gym-kit of excuses, here’s a brief summary of the indicators which ultimately led to a bad day at the office.
1.  Tight butt
My hip flexors and lower back muscles were tighter than Miley Cyrus’s VMA’s outfit.
2.  Dodgy pasta
My pre-race pasta meal was dodgy and sat undigested for hours to come.
3.  Headache
Despite not being in the construction business, there was a lot of hammering going on inside my head.
4.  Zero sleep 
Our hotel was not only well positioned to catch the early morning ferry to the start line, but also for Saturday night yobbo’s who partied hardy way beyond my 3:45am wake up call.
5.  Parched
I woke up with the dry horrors. Despite not having had a drop of alcohol for days prior to the race (perhaps that was the problem), my mouth felt like it had spent the night soaking in a bucket of salt water.
Yet with every step, apparently marathoner’s clock up around 46,000 steps, I felt good.
Until the Auckland Harbor Bridge descent wound its way around more undulation and corners to the 17km marker. Here, my right butt cheek, and hip seized, my brain fired off a rapid, oh no not now signal.
Reaching the half way point, 21km, my friend yelled, “you look great.” I replied, “my legs are hammered.”
A few meters down my boyfriend encouraged me to keep going, I faked a smile.
On any other day I would’ve cut my training run short. But….with no chance of quitting the next 21km’s loomed.
By 27km’s my darling legs felt knotted, twisted and confused by the fact I was still running. Come 30km’s the pasta finally decided to gurgle its way down in a fast acting southerly direction.
After that loo stop, my body was physically spent. Running a marathon had become a marathon to overcome. At least I still had my marbles, mentally I was toughing it out.
I simply figured I wasn’t dead yet. And, I’d have to change my plans.
My goal of running a sub 4 hour time quickly lengthened to 4:15, 4:30, then of letting time expectations go and reverting focus to the original plan. Crossing over the finish line.
I did. In 4 hours 52 minutes.
It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll and soul searching that follows a disappointing result.
But, thanks to the huge amount of love, support and encouragement from my family, and friends, perspective has turned disappointment to “holy crap I’ve just finished my second marathon. Yah!”
Post Bad Marathon. 8 Lessons Learned.
1. This one event does not define who you are.  
2. Plan to adapt.
– during the latter stages of the marathon, I instinctively knew that if I didn’t listen to my body and pull back I would come to serious injury blow. I hated it, but my physio loved me for it.
3. Think about what went right.
4. Then analyze what went wrong. Here’s two things I now know:
– don’t venture into new culinary territory the night before the race
– downhill running hammers hip flexors
5. Wallow.
Allow time to bathe in the tepid shallow pool of pity. Feel, think, and talk about the race. Don’t obsess. Let it go. It doesn’t define you.
 6. It’s tempting to want to exact revenge.
– as much as I want to register for another marathon, my body and mind need a vacation. After two weeks of active recovery, I’ll run again. Regain confidence, and then plan my next event. Quite possibly another marathon.
7. Never Again. Reads as NOT RIGHT NOW.
8. Judgement Exists Inside Your Own Head.
Unless you’re an elite runner paid mega-bucks to run nobody is judging you.
I know. I’m my own harshest critic, I beat myself up about stuff…which I guess, after having just churned out 42km’s is entirely unkind.
A couple of days ago while chatting to a friend she remarked about an Olympian. With a long career as an elite sportsman at the top of his game, he only ever peaked three times.
Now, that’s perspective. And I’m a runner who couch surfs the Olympics.

Motivational Monday. LL Cool J Style.



I’m off to NaNoWriMo.

2013-Participant-Square-ButtonTalk about a week worth remembering.
On Tuesday, October 29th I turned 50, ah well, it’s the new 30 – I’ll take that!
Tomorrow, Friday, November 1st – my NaNoWriMo 2013 writing vacation begins. Or should I say, writing boot camp starts; 50,000 words to write by the end of November. No excuses. Last year was my first NaNoWriMo, and I absolutely loved, despised, loathed, and truly relished the focus of the experience. This year, I’m sharpening my fingers to hammer the keyboard to finish the rewrite of Love in the Vines. My plan is to merge the sequel Love Entwined – turning the original into a more substantial yummy modern day romance. Well, that’s the plan.
I’m finishing off the week by running the Auckland Marathon. Come 6.10am on Sunday, November 3rd my Mizuno clad feet will cross over the start line and begin the (26.2 miles) to the finish line. Oh, I can’t wait to taste the joy of a celebratory Margarita!
So, if, during the month of November I’ve gone as quiet as a door mouse, you now know why.
Here’s a big SHOUT OUT – loads of love, writing and inspiration to every doing NaNoWriMo 2013.


Motivational Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Someday. Nope.



Writing More, Faster: 5 Tips for Writing Like a Pantser… A Guest Post By Julie Israel

I really like this….are you a pantser or the editor? I think, no, I know I’m a pantser.

Motivational Monday. Quitting Wrinkles.


Smiling elderly man.

#Showyoumine Grammatically Speaking

Phew – I did ok…how about you? Reblogged courtesy of Hunting Down Writing.

Word Hunter

Grammatically Speaking

Britt is a geek girl just like me. She has created a Grammar Quiz for you to test your skills with. The quiz starts off with questions helpful for my eleven year old daughter, but don’t be fooled. Some are tough. Or was that just me?

You can share the quiz via all the normal social places, and go back to look at incorrect answers.

Grammatically Speaking.

Click image to open interactive version (via

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New E Book Release. Found Innocent by Carolyn Arnold. From The Madison Knight Series.

If you haven’t already, meet Madison Knight, the chocolate-loving detective, who is determined to solve murder and find justice for the victims—even if that means coming into contact with the sight of blood.

However, in Found Innocent, the latest release in the series (releasing October 16th!), she doesn’t have to face too messy of a crime scene, at least in one sense. What she does have to deal with is whether or not she’s willing to jeopardize departmental relationships and cross the wall of blue.
Here, this is what it’s about:
There’s one code when it comes to the wall of blue…and Madison Knight may have to cross it.
Any good cop knows you never report a brother for mishandling a case or accuse him of misconduct, but in order to find justice, Madison may not have a choice.
Lacy Rose had one goal for her twentieth birthday—to be found innocent of past sins—but her life is cut short.
When Lacy’s remains are found in a garden and the investigation becomes connected to a closed case, Madison must face her past. The lead detective on that case was Madison’s ex-fiancé. At the risk of jeopardizing departmental relationships, and churning up the attention of an old flame at the same time, Madison must push hard before the guilty are found innocent.

Excerpt from Chapter 40:
Stiles Steakhouse was located on the main street. It had a sidewalk patio, which was open and full of patrons on any given summer evening. Tonight, however, the spring air was chilly and damp, possessing the ability to seep its way, through clothing and skin, to the bones. The patio would have another couple months to go before it saw the checkered tablecloths and pitchers of beer.
Cynthia met up with Madison at her apartment and they took a cab to the restaurant. Cynthia lived on the outskirts of Stiles, while Madison lived a little closer to the action—not that there was usually much action in Stiles.
“Guess we’re going all out tonight.” Cynthia smiled at her as she got out of the cab.
“Dang right. It’s been a long week.”
“It’s been a long few, if you ask me.”
Both women shared a laugh and made their way inside. Normally, they’d meet up for drinks at one of their places, preferring the solitude and privacy that came with it. There were times they’d go out on Friday night for two-dollar martinis at a bar called TJ’s, but it had been months since they had done that.
“Yeah, we deserve this.” Madison placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder.
The restaurant hostess was slender with petite wrists and long fingers. They wrapped around the wax pencil she held for marking patrons on the seating chart, which sat beneath a pane of glass.
“Welcome to Stiles Steakhouse.” She offered a sincere smile, passing a glance at both of them. “A table for two?”
“Yes, please,” Cynthia said. She turned to Madison. “And tonight’s going to be about fun, okay, not work. Can you promise me that?”
Madison hesitated. Why make a promise she knew she couldn’t keep?
“Huh. I should have known.” Cynthia smiled. “I guess if you left the job completely behind I wouldn’t know I was with Maddy.”
“I suppose I can drop talk about work, but can you go without a cigarette?” Madison laughed.
A waitress came and spoke to the hostess for a few minutes before directing them to follow her. She sat them in a booth large enough to comfortably sit four and handed them each a menu. “Your server will be with you shortly.”
The tablecloth was red-and-white checkered and covered by a piece of brown craft paper. A small plastic cup held colored crayons. Madison reached for the red one.
“Seriously?” Cynthia laughed.
“You said it was about fun tonight.” Madison took the crayon and scrawled an X.
“X marks the spot?”
Madison laughed. “It’s the first thing that came to mind.”
“You really have to learn to let go sometimes.” Cynthia reached for the green one and drew short lines. She then reached for the brown one and drew a simplistic house made of a square and a triangle top.
“My name is Paul and I’ll be your server this evening.”
Both women looked up at the same time. Both of them laughed.
Paul was in his mid-twenties and had green eyes that seemed to see through to the mind. His blond hair was layered with his bangs slightly longer and curled over his brow. His cologne held woody overtures and made Madison think of Old Spice.
“We’re just fooling around.” Cynthia offered an explanation but didn’t make a movement to put the crayon back.
Madison withdrew her hand that held the red one, and put her arm under the table.
“That’s what they’re here for. May I bring you a drink while you look at the menu?”
Neither woman took their eyes off the server.
“Glass of red, Cyn?” Madison asked.
Madison glanced at her friend, confirming the smile she had heard in her voice. She looked back to the server. “A bottle.”
He smiled at her and she felt her heart tap.
Curse men. Curse good-looking men who smelled like that!
“Which one?” He opened a menu that sat on the edge of the table. “We have several reds. There.” He pointed to the wine list, and Madison made the executive decision. But instead of verbalizing the choice, she pointed. Her finger brushed his.
“All right. It’s coming right up, ladies.”
With him out of earshot, Cynthia said, “What was that?”
“What was what?” Madison drew another X.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Like hell you don’t.”
“It’s nothing.”
“Maddy, it’s me.”
“Fine, so he’s fine. Big deal. Let’s move on.”
“When was the last time you got—”
“You say that word, I will slap you here.” Madison laughed and looked up from her drawing.
“He is good looking, and he smells good too.” Cynthia adjusted her black-framed glasses.
“Yeah, he does.”
“Huh.” Cynthia pointed a finger at Madison.
“Hey, I’m not blind or dull of senses.” She dropped the crayon in the plastic cup and pulled the menu over hoping to instigate a subject switch. “I already know what I have in mind anyhow.”
“Oh, yeah, beef.” Cynthia winked and then bobbed her eyebrows.
Madison didn’t say anything.
“What? What did I do now?” Cynthia splayed a hand on her chest. “Would I imply anything improper?”
“Yes, you would.”
“So, that’s why I luv ya, but if you tell anyone—”
“I know. You’ll kill me.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Madison smiled.
“He is really good looking though, don’t you think?”
Madison shoved her foot against Cynthia’s leg.
Cynthia put her hands up. “Fine.”

Interested in reading more?
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

The Madison Knight Series is a clean, murder mystery series meaning mild graphic violence and language. Each book is self-contained so you can read any of the books, and out of order, if you wanted to.  Books in the series in released order: Ties that Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Life Sentence (Prequel in which Madison has a cameo role), and Found Innocent.

Carolyn Arnold started to take writing seriously six plus years ago when a co-worker said “tell me a story”. Since then she’s written nine novels and has plans to write many more. She has a love for the canine world and has two beagles that are affectionately named Max and Chelsea. Like her female protagonist Madison Knight, she loves her chocolate and has been known, on occasion, to speak her mind.

Carolyn Author Photo 2013 Color Small[1]Website:




Madison Knight is back! Giveaway with @Carolyn_Arnold
In celebration of the release of Found Innocent you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You can enter as many times as you like and various ways. The contest lasts until October 31 2013.
Enter here