Thank you

As you might know, I donate 100% of the royalties from my Ennek series (Stasis, Flux, and Equipoise) to Doctors Without Borders. This organization does amazing work around the globe. Because of your support, this year–for the third year in a row–I was able to donate several thousand dollars. I hope you enjoyed the books, and I think we’ve really helped make a difference.

Newsy update

I sometimes get envious of my writing self, who gets to spend her days (and nights) traveling and writing. My other self has to deal with things like chauffeuring offspring, calling AAA when her battery unexpectedly dies, going to meetings, and grading these:

But now the battery is replaced, the meetings are suspended until January, the offspring are about to be on vacation, and the towering pile of papers and exams has been conquered. Hooray!

So I thought it was time for a blog update. Here’s what’s new.

My holiday short story, Alaska, is now available from Dreamspinner, Amazon, ARe, and other online booksellers. It’s a bittersweet tale, a bit of a balance perhaps to all the holiday sugar.

And it looks like today it’s on sale at Dreamspinner. While you’re picking up sale books, Brute, Housekeeping, The Tin Box, and Speechless are also discounted.

And speaking of Brute, I am overwhelmed and delighted to announce that it won the Rainbow Book Award in the fantasy category–quite an accomplishment when you see the other contenders! It also tied for fourth in the Gay Novel category. This book has a special place in my heart, and I’m so pleased for Brute to get some love.

Also, Shobana Appavu’s gorgeous work for Venetian Masks tied for fourth in the Illustrated Cover category. Well-deserved, I think.

I have several new things in the works. In February or so, my next novel will release. It’s a fantasy called Pilgrimage. Here’s the blurb:

Fiscal analyst Mike Carlson is good with spreadsheets and baseball stats. He doesn’t believe in fate, true love, or fantasy. But then a fertility goddess whisks him away to another world. A promise has been broken, and if Mike is ever to return to California—and his comfortable if lonely life—he must complete a pilgrimage to the shrines of a death goddess.
A humiliating event convinces Mike to hire a guard to accompany him, and hunky Goran is handy enough with a sword, if a little too liberal with his ale. A man with no home and no family, Goran is deeper than he first appears. As Mike learns more about Goran, his disbelief wavers and his goals become less clear. Contending with feuding gods, the challenges of the journey, and his growing attraction to Goran, Mikes faces a puzzle far harder to solve than simple rows of numbers.

Then in April, I’ll have a novella in a fantastic anthology called Stitches. The other authors are Sue Brown, Eli Easton, and Jamie Fessenden, and I so enjoyed their stories! The stories all have themes of artificially created men, and it’s the first in a whole series–Gothika–with gothic themes. My story is called The Golem of Mala Lubovnya. Set in seventeenth century Eastern Europe, it’s a take on the traditional golem tales.

Finally, I recently submitted another novel. This one is an urban fantasy or paranormal story set mostly along the old Route 66 and in Las Vegas. It has a bit of a noir feel to it and features a ghost and a man for whom good luck just isn’t enough. I’ll keep you updated on it.

Between my busy schedule when I was in Europe and finals when I returned, I haven’t had time to write anything new for a while. My muse is furious with me, and she and I are both very excited to get back to work!

Back in the USA

I’m back home in California. It’s good to see my family again, but already I’m missing Croatia. Today I’ll be discussing a couple Croatian quirks. But first, my new holiday release is out.

Best friends Scott and Marco meet on a rooftop on Christmas Eve, each temporarily escaping from his difficult home life. With no gift to share, Marco instead promises to someday rescue Scott and take him to Alaska. As the years pass, they meet—first by design, then by chance—on occasional Christmas Eves, only to find life growing increasingly difficult. They treasure the few moments they have together, but will they ever reach Alaska?
Alaska is grittier than the average holiday tale, I think. But sometimes we need something to balance out the holiday sweetness a little. You can buy it here.

Now, Croatians.

You know already that I love Croatia and consider Zagreb my second home. But like every culture, this one has a few more challenging aspects. Croatians hate to wait. Sometimes this is alarming–I’ve seen them put life in jeopardy again and again to dart across traffic to catch a tram. Even though there will be another tram within minutes. Sometimes it’s annoying; getting off those trams can be difficult when people are clustered around every door, already trying to press their way inside. Sometimes it can be funny. A few weeks ago I was standing in line at a drugstore on a busy Saturday morning. I saw a woman in her 60s shamelessly cut in line in front of the lady in front of me–who was a nun. I’m not Catholic, but isn’t there some special penance you have to pay for that?

Croatian impatience perhaps achieves art form when cultural performances end and everyone rushes at once to retrieve coats from the coat check. There’s not the remotest semblance of a line. Everyone sort of pushes and worms their way forward, claim tags held in front of them, trying to reach the harried young women who work behind the counter. And when you finally get your coat, good luck leaving because nobody will move out of your way. It’s this strange, silent melee. I found it pretty amusing, actually, but it would probably cause apoplexy in a Brit.

Now, there is one notable exception to Croatian impatience, and that involves drinking coffee. I’ve been to cities with famous café cultures, such as Vienna and Paris. But believe me, none of them hold a candle to Croatia. Croatia surely has more cafes per capita than anywhere on earth. Some serve food or desserts, but many just serve drinks. This is where you meet friends or business associates, and you sit there nursing your drink for as long as you want, chatting and people-watching. There’s a charming Croatian phrase: you can invite someone for “Čaša razgovora”–for a cup of conversation.

I’m thankful that Americans are fairly obedient at queueing, but I’d sure love to adopt Croatian café culture!

Anne Barwell on Kiwi slang!

Kiwi Slang

Thanks, Kim, for hosting me today J


The first thing that struck me when I started thinking about what to write for this post, was that, as a Kiwi (which is how we New Zealander’s refer to ourselves), most of the slang I use is what I speak every day. So how do I figure out what is unique to this country?  A lot of the sayings/phrases we use are British, although I’ve noticed there are a few more Americanisms sneaking it now we’re exposed a lot more to US movies and TV shows. 


So I figured the way to go was to a) go for the obvious stuff and b)take a look online and google ‘Kiwi slang’ and see what turns up. Hmm, some of these I knew and some I didn’t realise were ‘Kiwi slang.’…  And there are phrases in use now that weren’t when I was growing up. But that’s language for you, it changes over time. That’s what makes the study of older forms of English, and its varying dialects so interesting. Yes, I do have an English Lit degree, why do you ask?


One of the most common phrases here is ‘sweet as’.  Or ‘cold as’ or ‘insert appropriate word here as’. It basically mean there’s no comparison so why waste time giving one.  When I use it online the response I usually get is ‘as what?’ as though I’ve missed a word. I haven’t.


Another word which is a fairly recent addition to the Kiwi slang dictionary is ‘munted’.  It means broken, and badly at that, and came into regular use after the Christchurch earthquakes. ‘Nuff said.


Other words and phrases in fairly common use are: ‘togs’ (swimsuit), ‘arvo’ (afternoon), ‘fortnight’ (two weeks), ‘take the piss’ (make fun of – although I suspect that’s Brit), ‘tiki tour’ (take the long way around, scenic tour), ‘rellies’ (relatives or family/whānau), ‘flag it’ (forget about it, which I found when I used it the other day is the opposite to what it means in the US). That’s just to name but a few.


But of course differences in slang is just the tip of the iceberg where culture shock is concerned as Ben (in my upcoming release Shades of Sepia, the first book in The Sleepless City series, which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble) discovers upon arriving in the US for his OE. So I’ll finish this post with an excerpt from the beginning of the story which illustrates just that….



A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.

Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.

One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.

After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.


“Ben? You there?”


“Yeah, just give me a minute, will you?” Ben Leyton called over his shoulder in the general direction of his laptop. He finished pouring the milk into his tea and took the time to peer out the window for a moment. The street below was quiet and dark apart from the soft glow of the streetlight in front of the bookshop.


“So, how’s it going?” Ange Duncan grinned at him from the computer screen. She’d always been one of his constants, a close friend with whom he could talk stuff through. They’d met at university, and something had clicked between them. “Not keeping you from your beauty sleep, I hope?”


“Nah, it’s fine. You know I’m a night owl.” Ben took a sip of his tea. Despite the time difference between the States and New Zealand, he and Ange had managed to keep up their regular Skype chats. During the six weeks he’d been in Flint, they’d tried different times before settling on late evening for him, which worked out to be late afternoon for her. They both had flexible schedules which tended to shift a bit, so some weeks they caught up more than others.


“How’s work going?”


“Fine.” Ben rolled his eyes. “Well, fine apart from Melanie. I swear I don’t know how that woman got a job working in a café. Her social skills are zilch. Apparently one of the customers complained last week and the boss had a word with her. She was over the top friendly for a couple of days before she started to revert.”


Ange laughed, her gray eyes twinkling. “I think most work places have a Melanie, Ben, although so far we’ve been lucky.” Ange worked at a community library part time and was studying for her PhD in Anthropology at Victoria University in Wellington. “But mostly it’s okay, yeah?”


“Yeah. It’s sweet as.”


“Apart from everyone asking you sweet as what?” Ange had been amused when she’d heard about that one. The first time he’d used the phrase he’d had to explain it. Who would have thought there was such a difference between their two cultures? It was the little things that still tripped him up on occasion, although he was getting there slowly.


“I’ve got some of the locals using it now.” Ben grinned. “Once I told them the point of it was that there was no comparison, they thought it was pretty awesome, especially when I pointed out there were variations on it too.” He sighed ruefully. “I suppose it makes up for all the stuff I’ve had to learn. I had no idea serving coffee could be so complicated.” He’d referred to coffee with creamer his first day on the job as a flat white. The woman had looked at him blankly and asked why he was talking about house paint. In hindsight he should probably be thankful he hadn’t handed her the coffee and called it a straight black.


Ange pulled a face. “I don’t blame you for taking your coffee black. The very idea of creamer, or cream for that matter….” She shuddered.


“I’m told it tastes good, but I can’t get my head around it,” Ben agreed. Although he could ask for milk if he wanted, he didn’t see the point in making a fuss.


“Hey, I got those photos you sent. I’ll print them out later in the week and go see your granddad, see if it’s the right place.”


“Thanks.” Although many people traveled around a lot during their overseas experience—usually referred to as an OE—Ben had decided to settle in one place for a while and then go from there. Flint, a smallish city by Lake Erie in Ohio, seemed a good place, especially as his granddad had visited there years ago, and spoke highly of it. “It looks the same to me, but it’s hard to tell, as the trees would have grown quite a bit since the fifties. Granddad never mentioned the plaque on the park bench, so I included a close-up of it. I reckon that will help.”


When Ben had first become interested in photography, his grandfather had encouraged it, and loaned him his old camera with which to practice his skills. Before he’d left for Flint, the old man had given him a copy of a black and white photograph taken in a park there. The use of light and shadows in it had fascinated Ben, and since his arrival he’d spent a lot of time taking his own photos of that same park, playing around with different settings and effects. Spending time there also reminded him of his grandfather, to whom he’d always been close. Ben hadn’t expected the homesickness to hit him this hard. Knowing he was somewhere his grandfather had once been helped in a weird sort of way. Sometimes he closed his eyes and just listened to the wind, pretending he was still home in New Zealand.


About a week ago, he’d reopened his eyes to catch a glimpse of someone watching him. He’d blinked, not sure whether he’d imagined it or not, but when he’d looked again the guy was gone.





Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.