In The Spirit E-Cover_SMALL FINAL_18-11-2014

Cover reveal – In The Spirit

Yesterday I mentioned that I’d be able to reveal the cover for In The Spirit this week – well, my cover designer (aka Kate, from Dwell Design) was busy last night and this landed in my inbox just before I went to sleep.In The Spirit E-Cover_SMALL FINAL_18-11-2014

Naturally, it was fairly hard to fall asleep after opening the email.

The model on the cover has a real Alyssa vibe, and I’m really chuffed with how its turned out :-) I’ll have the blurb finalized sometime this week too!

OMG A COVER! It feels a lot more real now. Like, this thing is actually a book! It’s a real thing! A thing that people are hopefully going to want to read!

I showed it to a few people earlier today and was hit by the reality of it all. People are keen to get their hands on this book, which is both exciting and terrifying. I just hope they enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So, I’m releasing a book soon…

Calendar_Dec1-252x300I feel like I’ve been remiss lately. Talking around the thing, but not really approaching it directly. I’m nervous, I guess. Because on Dec 1st (or thereabouts, depending on how badly I cock the process up), I’m publishing In The Spirit. My first release.

Until now, it’s been mostly excitement and preparation and anticipation, but the nerves have definitely hit. I feel like there are a million things to do, and that I’m forgetting 99% of those things. I’ve changed my mind several times over the last month about how I want to approach this, and while currently I think I’ve come to my final ‘plan’, who knows? Maybe that will change!

So, there you have it. The date has been set. Over the next week I’ll be able to show you my cover and will set up a sample and stuff. I’ll be selling it everywhere for 99c, and you can nab it for free by signing up to my mailing list (which will also be coming shortly).

Writing a Book set in New Zealand

As a proud kiwi author, I love having the opportunity to share the space on my blog with other local writers. Today, Catherine Mede is stopping by to talk a bit about writing a book set in New Zealand. Her debut novel, Cursed Love, is releasing on the 30th of November, so we’re almost release day buddies! I’ve known Catherine for years now, and it’s really exciting that we’re getting to this point in our writing lives at the same time. Not only that, but we’re both releasing work set in our beautiful Aotearoa.

So without further ado… I’ll hand pass you over into Catherine’s capable hands.

Writing a Book set in New Zealand.

Writing a book based in New Zealand is considered by most to be a suicide mission.  Comments like ‘nobody will read a book set in NZ,’ have often been said to me, however I have watched from the side lines, with interest, a New Zealand author who has had some success with a series of romances set in Wellington.

It has often been reported that if you want a book to be popular, you must set it in the United States, because that is where the majority of the readers are and they only read books set in the US.

I beg to differ.

Readers come from all over the world, not just the United States.  What about England, Europe, Asia?  Surely they have readers too.

Recent articles have reported that the majority of readers, especially of romance, are looking for books that are set in exotic locations, and to some, New Zealand is exotic.  How can it not be, with all the natural native bush, the clear blue lakes, the active volcano’s and the tropical weather (well, maybe in the winterless North.)  More and more readers are picking up books set in New Zealand, Australia and even the islands as a means to escape reality, and enjoy a moment in a bright clean atmosphere.

When I first started writing Cursed Love, I wanted to set it in Nelson, because that is where I worked as an insurance assessor.  The setting of the office is pretty much where I worked, although the name has been changed, along with the brokerage – authors are allowed some poetic licence.  Nelson is a place that is close to my heart, having lived there for many years.  I know the places that my characters visit, or attend.  The view overlooking Nelson harbour, although the office set on the port is ficitious, because you are no longer allowed on the wharf unless you work for the Port Authorities, but my father used to work in a watchtower that had a great view over the chip tower and Roll-on Roll-off ferry berth.  The office block and the ferry berth no longer exist, both being removed some years ago.

Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park are also favourite places I go and I have ideas for books that are yet to be written, to be set in these beautiful places.

Nelson as the setting for a romance seems a little out there, but romance happens everywhere, not just in Wellington or Auckland.  Small towns have opportunities to have love too, and with having the Maori aspect to my story, adds to the reading experience, while educating the reader a little bit about the vast and rich history of New Zealand.  We might be a small country, but our history is still relatively new.  We only have two hundred plus years, while cities in the US have three to four hundred years of history, compared to thousands of years in the UK, Europe and Asia.

I think New Zealand has a lot to offer as a setting for stories.  There are the All Blacks, the setting for a book written by an American author (Just this Once by Rosalind James), Wellington and its vistas over the harbour (Wicked in Wellington series by Kris Pearson), the rich history of the early settlers (The Runaway Settlers and A Canoe in the Mist by Elsie Locke), marble mountain caves (Maurice Gee’s The Halfmen of O series).

Maori culture has a lot to offer the story world too.  It has a beautiful language, and a unique perspective on the world, where they don’t actually own the land, but protect it for the future generations.  The more I read and understand the Maori culture, the more I understand their opposition to a lot of the local bylaws and laws that the Government have made and still continue to make.

But this isn’t a political rant.

I love New Zealand, I love what it has to offer, and I can think of no better way of showcasing its beauty and naturalness than by using it as a background for my stories.

Who is Catherine Mede?

Catherine Mede lives in a rural village in the South Island of New Zealand with her husband, son and two cats.  She works when she can, doing whatever is available – within reason!  When not writing, Catherine likes to read, draw and work in her garden.

Having developed a love for writing when she was at High School, it wasn’t until she was in her thirties she decided to really get down and dirty with the words in her head.

Romance and Speculative Fiction are what Catherine likes to write about because she understands the need to get lost in a love that sometimes seems mythical.  And adding Fantasy elements just fulfills her needs to be creative fanciful worlds.

When she was younger, she wrote to escape reality, now she writes it to allow others to enter a world where love has a happily ever after.

Catherine has a short story published in a Masters of Horror Anthology and attends writing seminars and groups in her area.

When she is rich and famous, Catherine intends to have a large library which will double as her writing space and own an Aston Martin Vanquish.  (Dreams are Free)

You can contact Catherine Mede through her website www.catherinemede.com and facebooktwitter and pinterest  or email her catherine@catherinemede.com – she loves to have contact with her fans.

Week One wrap up

The first week of November was a strange thing. It was full of highs and lows, and everything in between. I spent the first few days drunk on words. Gleeful, excited and desperate for just a few more minutes to write, just a few, I promise, I can quit any time.

Naturally, it wasn’t long until reality hit home. I have three kids, a husband, a household to run. /sigh

Then Tuesday rolled around and there were 7 kids in my house for the bulk of the day, I got maybe 63 words written, and it knocked my confidence big time. Apparently, I’m still recovering from the years stress as it doesn’t take much to make me stumble. I began to think that I just couldn’t do this. It was ridiculous for me to try to write while home schooling. Totally nuts. Why was I bothering?

I held onto the fact that Wed night I could head to the library for a bit, until I realized it was Guy Fawkes night and town would be swarming with crowds. I decided to brave it anyway, no matter how far I had to park from the library. It started to rain, and I felt no guilt at all when I gleefully thought perhaps the fireworks display would be postponed. Unfortunately, the rain wasn’t just rain, it turned into hail, thunder and lightening. Fireworks were cancelled, but there were several buildings with collapsed ceilings, hail so thick it looked like snow, and I decided it was probably wisest to stay home…

Thursday is normally home schooling stuff, but I managed to get a few words out, and then Friday morning I felt myself getting back into the swing of it – unfortunately, I think it took me until yesterday to really realize what was going on.

I am out of practice. This is the first new draft I’ve written this year, and I’ve lost the art of sneaking in words. I’ve not been writing while cooking dinner, or giving myself 10 minute sprints every day. I can’t write 500 words in ten minutes right now, and I can’t switch my focus as fast as I used to be able to. There was a time that I could be writing, yet have a million distractions and never lose my momentum.

I also realized that for most of my academic writing this year I’ve made a concerted effort to do said writing out of the house, away from the kids, because it’s super hard to write essays with a million distractions. They are out of the practice too.

IMG_20141107_113424371So I’m going to go a little easier on all of us. Try to remember that I used to do this, and that it wasn’t frustrating, and that I will get back to that place – it just takes practice, for me, and for the kids. We’re all still finding our new normal, and it will take time.

And in the meantime, any words I do get are an absolute joy. Writing makes everything better, so even when I am feeling crappy, grumpy, tired, over it, like there is no point, I should still write.

Highlights of the week include – the many awesome, varied, amazing friends, who’ve helped bolster me and remind me that I’m awesome too.

Our epic bush walk with the home schooling group. Being 100% out of range of all technology (other than my camera) was good for my soul. Pushing myself, using all my muscles, feeling the strength in my body was amazing. We’ll be looking for more long tramps to do in the very near future. I need to get back to the things that feed me.

A friend giving me an awesomely funny one star review for In The Spirit along the lines of “I loved this book, but it was too short and I want more!”, to which I decided that I could totally expand my current work in progress to be a novel – I don’t want to annoy too many readers ;-)

Also, Scrivener is behaving itself and we’re getting along nicely so far. Still early days though.

Dear Scrivener

We’ve been back and forth a few times now, and I have to be clear – this is your last chance.

I’ve taken you out on a few occasions and it’s been a little awkward. I was nervous about getting something wrong, or simply not being able to figure out the way you operate. Because let’s be honest, you’re different. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I’m not sure it’s in a good way either. It might be, but I need time to figure it out one way or another.

And yet, everyone else raves about you. You’re the best! they say. You’re amazing! Some even claim you’ve changed their whole lives. I want to feel that too! I do. Which is the only reason you’re even getting another chance after that last time when you insisted you couldn’t open the files you yourself generated. But I can’t ignore my friends. They might be right.

You have November to prove to me that we can work together. I’ve done a lot of research, talked to a range of people about the best way to approach this, and we’re doing it. You and me. I’m trusting you not just with a brand new project, but with my first draft of a new project this year. That’s a pretty big deal. I figure if we can’t make it work now, we’re never going to. I want it to work. I do. I’m going to try my hardest, and I hope you do too.

Yours sincerely,

J.C.

NaNo? yeah, nah…kinda?

November is almost upon us, and with it, the madness of NaNoWriMo. The internet is being flooded with posts for and against, and writers everywhere are taking sides in the yearly debate of whether you can write a decent novel in a month, or whether you can call yourself a writer if you only write in November/during these challenges etc etc.

I don’t really care to get involved in that. There are pros and cons, and every writer is different. Personally, I can’t, at this point, fathom writing that many words in a month though I have done it before, and I may well do it again in the future.

IMG_20141022_134554147

This is Xanthe. She’s about 15 now and sleeps ~20 hrs a day. Mainly she wakes up to yawn (like this), have some smooches and eat/drink. She is one of the most beautiful cats I’ve seen :-)

What I DO care about, is how much fun it is to write alongside others. So, this November I will be working on the second novella in the Witches of Kotahi Bay series (aka: the book that comes after In the Spirit, but doesn’t have a title yet). I’m thinking it’ll top out around the 20K mark, and it will be an absolute blast to write – made more fun by participating in a bunch of word sprints over twitter and facebook, and experiencing the joy that is writing alongside some of my favourite writer friends.

Bring it!!! COME ON. I want it to be Nov 1st!!!

I’m spending the last few days of October trying to pin down a few more plot points, but I already have half the book written in my head and I am so very much looking forward to having a new adventure with Alyssa, her best friend Kelly, Mrs Nolan and the new guy who has moved in down the road. I’m also crushing on kittens right now, so I think I’ll give Alyssa one to keep her company.

So, if you’re writing in November, you won’t find me signed up on the NaNo site, but you will find me online. I’ve got some writing sprints locked down for every Tuesday and Wednesday (probably in the am), but I’m up for writing sprints just about whenever – hit me up at @JCHart

 

And it’s off to the proofreaders!

Last night I finished the final edit of In the Spirit. GOSH that felt good! I’ve gone through this book countless times now, and it still makes me laugh and smile. I adore Alyssa, and hopefully you’re not so sick of hearing about her by the time the book releases that you’ll still want to read her story!

IMG_20141026_082332658This morning I did something I haven’t in years. I printed off the whole thing. Normally I wouldn’t, but a friend wants to proof it for me (aka: she desperately wants to read it right now and not wait until it’s released), so I thought, hey, why not?? I’ll be dropping that in to her later this morning, and sending out digital copies to my other proofreaders.

It’s all feeling a bit more real now :-) How am I going to wait until December 1st to get this out there? I’m so excited about this, folks!!!

Anyway. I still have lots to do. Finalize the cover with my graphic designer, write all the extras a book needs, including a blurb! AND, finish planning book two. I’m going to be writing Alyssa’s next book during November and I’m buzzing about that.

Yes, life is good. And the writing life is even better.