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5 post-quake behaviours

Living on an active fault line

I’ve experienced a few earthquakes now, two of which were scary. I’m talking huddled-under-the-desk scared, with ten floors of offices above my head, while the building shook like a rattle in a toddler’s fist. Not fun.

Most of them are gentle, varying from a slight jolt to a swaying sensation, much like being on a boat. I’m fine with those, after all, it’s part of the trade-off for living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: it’s also one of the most seismically active.

Anyway. Most people who live here, certainly those in the vast area from Christchurch through to Wellington, have adopted new behaviours over the past few years.

using smart phone

1. Keep the phone charged

As soon as it drops to half-battery, I whip out my charging cable. It might shave a few months from the expected lifespan of the battery, but it’s better than being caught with no electricity and just a few minutes of power left.

 2. Carry the phone everywhere!

While I’m at work, it goes with me (on silent) to every meeting, every time I venture outside, or go to the bathroom or the kitchen. If I get stuck somewhere, I can use it to call for help (if the phone network is still working), use the flashlight (another reason to always keep the battery full!), or—hopefully—text my family to tell them I’m safe and to ask if they’re okay.

3. Keep the petrol tank in the car at least half full

I might have to evacuate in a hurry, with no time to top up the tank. Also, in the event of a big quake, the power lines will be down and the petrol stations not working.

4. Look out for ‘safe zones’ when out and about

The main shopping street in Wellington is filled with tower blocks and glass. I dread the idea of being caught there if the Big One happened, but I keep an eye on safe zones: doorways and recesses, or areas of open ground well away from the buildings. I’d dive under a café table if it offered me some shelter.

5. Always have trainers / flat shoes / walking boots at hand

Wellingtonians usually wear flat shoes around the city (it’s hilly, with uneven sidewalks), but I now always keep a sturdy pair of comfortable trainers (and socks) under my desk. Not so much for walking the ninety km home, but for walking to a friend’s house if I get stranded in the city.

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There are other things I do now, that I never did before (hoard bottled water and muesli bars at home, and always keep a flashlight by the side of my bed), but I might save those for another list.

Did I miss anything? What do you do differently now?

 

Did the earth move for you? Hell, yes!

 

Living in the shadow of The Big One

Copyright Maarten Holl / Fairfax NZ

Copyright Maarten Holl / Fairfax NZ

 

It’s weird to think that earthquakes have become part of our lives. It’s normal to keep food supplies and a pair of sturdy running shoes under my desk in the office, along with a list of friends in the town who I could go to, in the event I couldn’t get home.

 

Normal too, to have quake supplies at home. Strong plastic boxes with basic foodstuffs. A camping stove. Lots and LOTS of bottled water. Torches in every room, and emergency lights that come on in the event of a power cut. We get some bad storms here in winter, and those babies have been worth their weight in gold.

 

For as long as we’ve lived in the Wellington region of New Zealand, we’ve been aware of the quake risk, in particular, the Big One that everyone fears will happen. The one in the middle of the day when the offices and shops are all full. The one that cuts off the capital from the rest of the country, with dwindling food and water supplies and no way for aid to come in. The one that generates a deadly tsunami.

 

Sunday night was our first serious tsunami threat, and believe me, I don’t want a re-run of that. Waking at midnight to a gently rocking bed, I could dismiss it as just-another-quake, but then it rocked a bit harder. I scrambled out as I shouted to Teen Son (already awake) and husband (watching TV), and that’s when the jolt hit. Normally, you get a gentle roll, and then either a jolt or a long rolling motion, but this was different. It jolted. And it JOLTED. And then again. Scared? You bet. The house creaked and rattled, boxes fell over, and the grandfather clock stopped. The furbabies mostly ran for cover, apart from Mitten, settled on a pillow, who just watched me with a baffled expression on her face.

 

Where the quake was felt (across NZ)

Where the quake was felt (across NZ)

Losing the electricity was no surprise, but our emergency lights kicked in. Then came the guessing game of how-big, and how-far-away? Finding our cellphones still worked was a huge plus. The initial reports looked bad, but not that bad. 6.2, maybe. Or 6.6. It finally settled on M.7.5, in a remote part of South Island some two hundred miles away from us. Holy fuck, we said. We were lucky. Lucky it happened at home, while we were all together. Lucky it wasn’t the middle of the day when we could all become stranded, miles from home.

 

The power came back on almost two hours after the quake, at which point we scrambled to make tea. Hey, we’re English.  🙂

 

However, despite our proximity to the beach, we didn’t immediately think tsunami. We were too busy firing off messages and emails to friends and family to check they were okay, and to reassure them of our safety.

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It quickly became apparent, this was a real threat, but we saw conflicting updates depending on where we looked. Some sites advised east coast locations at risk, others included Wellington and Kapiti (where we live). If we did have to evacuate, we needed to be ready.

 

Our earthquake / tsunami plan needs a bit of fine-tuning, but we had the basics nailed down. Loading the cars with prearranged items. Grabbing warm coats and strong shoes. Extra batteries. Getting the cat carriers ready for use. Figuring out where to go.

 

Somewhere around four in the morning, I whined that while the quake had been scary, the wait-and-see for the tsunami was worse. It shredded every last nerve.

 

The alerts were called off around five, and we let out a sigh of relief. Finally, we could get some sleep, apart from the aftershocks still vibrating the house of course.

 

Some ten years ago, while planning our move from the UK to New Zealand, top of our list of decisions was where to live. The bustling city of Auckland, way in the north? The capital, Wellington, at the bottom of the North Island, or Christchurch, halfway down the South Island.

 

Wellington Cityscape - Oriental Bay

 

Auckland was out. We were moving to get away from busy cities. Wellington straddles a number of major fault lines and is at risk from earthquakes, so that was also a no. Christchurch, we said. The population is lighter, it’s more rural, but still with a city’s commerce and industry.   As it turned out, I received a job offer in Wellington and that’s where we went.

 

And in hindsight? Wow. I’m glad we made that decision. The imagery of the Christchurch quake in 2011 still haunts me. The loss of 185 lives. A city centre that has only just re-opened for business in some parts. We are happy with our choice of Wellington for work, and a home in a quiet beachside village an hour north of the capital.

 

We were lucky again this time. We’ll re-jig our survival kits and evacuation plans, and get back to normal in a few days. We’ll pull faces, and shrug over the aftershocks, and pretend we weren’t scared by them. The offices will re-open for work, and we’ll swap stories over coffee, trading tips for emergency plans, and laughing at our dumb choices. Canned chicken? Great, except none of us actually eat it!

 

But I know, every time the floor moves beneath my feet, I instantly think: is this the Big One?

 

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Fantastic boxed set on offer – from Tracey Alvarez

Due South boxed set – only $0.99 (usual retail price $7.99)

 

If you like heartwarming, sexy and sweet small-town romances with a touch of comedy, you’ll love sharing the journey with these authentic men and women struggling to find their special someone.

The Due South bundle contains the first five books of Tracey Alvarez’s best-selling series set against the stunning backdrop of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

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The first 5 Due South Books (over 1500 pages) included in this bundle are:


In Too Deep (Book #1)
Two hearts. A second chance. Everything on the line…
To save her brother from financial ruin, police diver Piper Harland does the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island hometown on Stewart Island where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. West lost Piper once, but now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit. Maybe he wants her a little bit, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk? Saying goodbye the second time might just destroy them both.

Melting Into You (Book #2)
They’ll either melt or raze their lives to the ground…
Ben Harland is, by his own admission, a bit of a grouch. He doesn’t do soppy chick-flicks and he’s hen-picked enough as it is with his mother and two younger sisters on his case. He sure doesn’t need any more drama in his world. But life has a way of rearing up and biting him in the butt when he least expects it. Cue insta-daddyhood to an eight-year-old girl and an out-of-control attraction to Stewart Island’s hot school teacher, Kezia Murphy. 

Ready To Burn (Book #3) 
Watch the sparks fly as they burn it up in the kitchen…
Shaye Harland desperately wants the role of Due South’s head chef, but the far too sexy Del Westlake muscles in and steals it. A reality TV show plans to feature Del at his estranged father’s restaurant—jump-starting his ruined reputation and career in the States—but will the sparks flying in the kitchen burn his chances of ever becoming Shaye’s Mr. Perfect? 

Christmas With You (Book #4)
The Kiwi barbecue isn’t the only thing sizzling this summer…
Carly Gatlin’s doesn’t want to spend another Christmas alone since her father died the year before. She’s come to Stewart Island in New Zealand to spend the holiday with her stepfamily, though she feels more of a Christmas Grinch than filled with good cheer. Kip Sullivan’s big, boisterous family have also arrived en-masse—someone just shoot him before his match-making relatives get out of control. Kip agrees to make Carly’s first Kiwi Christmas special, but will he gain more than mistletoe kisses from the woman who threatens to claim his heart? 

My Forever Valentine (Book #5) 
Love small town romance and Happily Ever Afters?
Dive into the Due South world to find out what your favourite characters are doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day with these four short and sweet romance stories.
Intended for mature 18+ aged readers.



Praise for the Due South series!


“It’s official…I’m hooked on this series! I want to jump on a plane and fly to this island, because apparently they grow them big and HOT in New Zealand…men that is!!!” ~ Swept Away By Romance

“Perfection comes in many shapes and forms, and Ms Alvarez delivers in her contemporary voice and quirky character traits that make a distinctive difference between average and stellar storytelling.” ~ InD’Tale Magazine

 

On offer at $0.99 until 2 October. Buy it now from:

 

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Google Play |  Amazon UK

 

Excerpt  – From Ready To Burn

One second Del stood beside her all moody and mysterious, and the next, his hands gripped the railing on either side of her hips. He moved fast–fast enough that she made an embarrassing little eep-ish squawk. Nowhere to go unless she became flexible enough to do a flip over the wooden railing. 

Shaye yanked her hands from her pockets and gave his chest a shove. “Back off.”

Even after she added her sous chef do it now or die glare, he stayed, big and bad and way too close. He continued watching her with dark and unreadable eyes, his nostrils flaring slightly as he breathed. 

Her hands didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t put them back on those two hard pecs, since every single nerve-ending had soaked up the heat burning through Del’s shirt and transmitted swoony, oh yeah sighs into her brain. 

Stupid nerve-endings. Stupid brain.

She wriggled her bottom, so she half sat on the railing, arching away from him. “What are you doing?”

“Showing you the reason.”

The rough timbre of his voice stroked over her. Wickedly dark, decadently rich, scarily addictive. Like chocolate, the quality stuff made of eighty percent pure cacao. 

He leaned forward, his face level with hers. “It’s a compelling reason.”

Shaye’s hand shot out to grip his biceps–that or topple backward–but God, he felt amazing. All hard, sinewy muscle and why the hell couldn’t she unhook her fingers?

Her breathing hitched, high and ragged. “My sister’s a cop, and I know how to defend myself.”

“So, show me your ninja moves.” 

“Daring a cornered woman to hurt you isn’t very bright.”

One of his hands rasped off the wooden railing and touched the end of her ponytail. He selected a strand and stroked it down her jaw. Shaye licked her lips, unable to suck her gaze from his mouth, which angled closer. Close enough that she could tell the flavor of the last handful of potato chips he’d eaten. 

Salt and vinegar. Her favorite.

She strained upward to see if he tasted as good as he smelled…Freaking hell– 

Shaye reared back a little, hair slipping from his fingers, her chin narrowly missing his. “Are you going to kiss me?”

Her heart gave a little bunny-hop at the thought and leaped around her ribs.

“Not unless you ask real nice.” 

“Ask you?” There was that damn smirk of his again. She should’ve guessed he was playing with her. “When pigs fly.”

A muscle ticked in his jaw, but the smile didn’t falter. “Now you’ll have to say, ‘Please, Del. With a cherry on top.’”

“I’d jam that cherry up your nose before I’d kiss you, Hollywood. Get outta my face.”

His gaze dipped once to her mouth then flicked up. “I can’t go anywhere while you’re grabbing onto me.”

 

Copyright © Tracey Alvarez 2014

 

Author links:

Website: http://www.traceyalvarez.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TraceyAlvarezAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TraceyAlvarezNZ

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Amazon Author page: http://amazon.com/author/traceyalvarez

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Newsletter: http://bit.ly/JR3Asu

 

Author Bio:

new-author-photoTracey Alvarez lives in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand). Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy, she has two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.

Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, she’s the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories she writes. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes—Kiwi men, in other words.

When she’s not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, Tracey can be found with her nose in her e-reader, nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars, or bribing her kids to take over the housework.

Follow Tracey on Twitter as @TraceyAlvrezNZ or Facebook as http://www.facebook.com/TraceyAlvarezAuthor 

Her website is http://www.traceyalvarez.com and don’t forget to sign up to her newsletter here: http://bit.ly/JR3Asu

 

 

Coming soon – my newest M/M Romance novella – Breathing Again

Breathing Again

This will be out soon, and I’m looking forward to it being available to everyone. It’s a dark tale, an Ugly Cry, that pulls no punches about PTSD and depression. It left me an emotional wreck when I wrote it, and judging by the early reader reviews, they’re experiencing that too 🙂

 

I had a hard time helping to edit this story because I kept crying. EVERY single time I read it even after I knew what was coming. Emotional and heartbreaking and totally wonderful. Love it.” – A.L.

“It’s not light or fluffy but I completely loved this story.” – Lucy

Amazing even if I did cry like a baby.” – Bookbee

“Boy, was this one heart-wrenching story, but so damn good.” – Fritz42

 

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Sgt. Travis Cooper is a hot mess. He’s a seething cocktail of PTSD, depression, and anger, with a side-helping of borderline alcoholism. The giant holes in his memory don’t help either. When his partner, Kyle, walks out after ten years together, and takes his beloved dog, Travis hits rock bottom.

 

There’s no kind of future if he can’t face up to his past. Somehow Travis has to learn to breathe again.

 

 

 

Excerpt

 

“So, Travis, why don’t we talk about Kyle today?”

As usual, I levelled my stare at the stand-up name badge on her desk. Dr. Leah Forrester. So, Leah, why don’t we not? I kept the words inside my head. How was she in any way qualified to understand me? She was a chick. She had both legs. She hadn’t been to war. And judging by the sparkling gold band on her finger, she had a loving husband at home.

I didn’t want to be here. Period. The only reason I came each week was to get my brother off my case, or Brady would continue to bust my ass. It was an extra hassle I could do without.

A stray thought snuck through the fog. “How do you know about Kyle?” I spoke without thinking, and then wanted to kick myself. I’d agreed to attend the sessions, but that didn’t mean I had to participate. A petty distinction, but on the swooping roller coaster my life had become, I clung to even the tiniest amounts of control.

Her eyebrows tugged together, and she flicked back through her notebook. “You mentioned him. Two weeks ago.” She glanced up at me. “You indicated some intense feelings toward him.”

“He stole my damned dog.” I clamped my lips together before anything else fell out of my mouth. Most of the times I came to this office, I floated on a tide of alcohol. Now I thought hard, I did remember mentioning his name. What the fuck else had I said?

“How did that happen?” she asked.

God damn it. She picked my weak spot with the focus of a hungry mosquito. “I had Killer since he was a pup. It was me who rescued him from being drowned. Me who took him home. My name on his paperwork. He was mine.”

“Killer?”

I grunted. “Achilles. Killer for short.” It had been a joke between us, saying, ‘Achilles, heel.’ “He isn’t a killer. He’s the softest mutt you can imagine.” A gentle giant.

“You said he was stolen?”

I ran a hand across the back of my neck. “Kyle took him. When he left.”

“Uh huh.” She made a note in her book, and then gazed at me, her face calm. “That came as a surprise? Your partner leaving?”

“Damn right, it did.” We’d argued, sure, from what I remembered. But was it bad enough for him to pack his bags and vanish from my life, when I needed him the most? “And I never thought he’d take my dog.”

“Perhaps he was attached to him too?”

I didn’t bother answering. It didn’t matter if Kyle had been attached to Killer. He still had no right.

“How long did you have your dog?”

“He’s six years old,” I said.

“So who looked after him while you were deployed?”

“Kyle.” I fixed the therapist with a sullen glare. “And how is that relevant?”

“It was just a question. Do you think it’s relevant?”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

 

 

Coming soon – new contemp romance – Seeing the Love

My next release comes out on the 15th July, and is available on Amazon for pre-order. The GORGEOUS cover was created by Sotia Lazu (SassyAces.com), and it’s published by Acelette Press.

 

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Lucas Wade is losing his sight. As the darkness threatens to swamp him, the one bright spot in his day comes in the form of Natalie Fontaine. She works in the sales office, hundreds of miles away, and she alone treats him like a regular guy. She has no idea about his disability, and he doesn’t plan on telling her about it.

But if Lucas can’t be honest with her, Natalie may never see the love he has to offer.

 

Pre-order from AMAZON

 

 

 

Excerpt

 

Sian solved the mystery for him when she strolled past his desk to ask him about a meeting. “What’s this?” She picked up the Frisbee and examined it. “How sweet. You know I’m going to ask, but who’s Natalie?”

“Huh?” What did Natalie have to do with the Frisbee?

“Have fun with Molly. Thanks for saving my customer. Natalie.” He heard the smile in Sian’s voice, as she deciphered the writing. “Would that be Natalie in the Auckland office? The account manager? What’s her surname… Fountain?”

“Fontaine.” His voice was gruff. “Natalie Fontaine.” Warmth bloomed in his chest. It was just a gesture; it sure as hell didn’t mean anything. But yeah, it was nice of her.

Sian was speaking, and he hastened to listen. “What did you do for her, Lucas?”

“Oh, just a bit of juggling. Nothing much.” He didn’t mind Sian as much as the others—she wasn’t quite so irritating—but he still didn’t feel like chatting to her about Natalie Fontaine or why she’d sent him a thank you present. Would Sian take the hint and leave?

It seemed not. “She’s the one with the French accent, isn’t she?”

She has the most beautiful voice in the world. “Does she? I hadn’t noticed.”

Helpful Dave decided to join in. His head popped up like a meerkat’s.

“Natalie Fontaine? She likes talking to Lucas. Does she know about—”

“About what?” Lucas cut him off mid-sentence. “About what, Dave?” The challenge had been issued, the gauntlet thrown down. “About the fact that I work damn hard and do a good job?” He curled his fingers around the edges of his keyboard.

Silence hung between them. Sian was the first to crack. “I’ve got…uh…a meeting. Catch you later.”

He could feel Dave staring at him over the partition. Go on. Say it. Does she know I’m as good as blind? A fuckin’ cripple? Say it.

Dave cleared his throat. “Nothing, mate. I can’t remember what I was talking about.”

 

~

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