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Long time, no blog

After I tweaked my website a few months back the blog kind of disappeared and I bought into that whole ‘blogging is dead’ thing. But I kept thinking about it, and the thoughts niggled in the back of my mind.

I have no idea if you missed me or not, but I missed this, so I’m back!

I’d like to tell you lots of wonderful news, but I don’t have any. I’d love to say I’ve been crazy-busy getting my next book ready for you, but I can’t even say that either. Life has been full and busy but it’s not leaving me with a lot of space for writing. This space seems to get increasingly small the closer we get to LexiCon.

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For those that might not know (because I haven’t been talking about it a whole lot on here) I’m the co-chair of this year’s National Science Fiction and Fantasy convention – and it’s happening in just a few weeks now! OMG I have convention packs to make, and a million things to organize, including many things to feel pre-emptively anxious about, such as pronouncing things correctly, speaking in front of a hundred and fifty or so people (insert pukey face here), and meeting best-selling, award-winning author Seanan McGuire (I keep trying to tell myself she’s just a person, but she’s an incredibly COOL person and I’m bound to say stupid things or be incoherent due to the aforementioned stress and panic).

I’m so grateful that we have some awesome people on our ConCom to make the task less daunting, most of us had very little experience going in but *knocks on wood* it all seems to be coming together quite nicely. Fifteen days til I head to Taupo…

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End of April, start of May – stars for writing, hearts for not being awful to myself

Just so you don’t think I’ve been completely flakey, I HAVE been doing some work. It’s just that the amount of said work is shrinking.

I had really high hopes of getting the nearly final draft of Kotahi Bay #2 done before Convention, but I want to produce quality and with my brain the way it is right now I just can’t guarantee it.

Here is photographic evidence (of the work, not my mushy brain).

 

Kotahi Bay, Uncategorized, writing

Tūrangaewawae

A few weeks ago I read through my draft for the second Kotahi Bay book, Beneath Broken Waves, and it felt like coming home. There are really no other words to describe it. I couldn’t stop grinning. I knew these characters intimately, I knew the town so well, it was like kicking around a familiar neighbourhood and seeing a bunch of familiar faces.

Not long after that we went to a homeschooling camp and got to hang out with a huge portion of our crew from back home and it was fabulous, but then I had to come back here, to my new home, without them. And that sucked.

I’m homesick in a pretty big way. And I’ve really struggled to make myself work on Beneath Broken Waves. In fact, it was only a couple days ago that I actually started to make progress, and that was only due to finally making the extremely obvious connection – Kotahi Bay is like home, and any thoughts of home induce massive waves of sadness for me right now. No wonder I don’t want to work on the bloody book!

At the launch of Serafina’s Flame last weekend a friend told me he was surprised about the move because he’s always thought of Taranaki as my tūrangaewawae. If you’re not familiar with this concept here’s a handy link, but basically it translates to ‘a place to stand’. And he’s right, Taranaki is my tūrangaewawae. It’s where my family is, where I have lived the longest, but those aren’t the things that make it my place to stand, it’s hard to put that into words.

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I didn’t appreciate it like that when I was a teen – desperate to get out and experience the world – but I did when I came home again in my mid twenties. My maunga was always there, a steady figure that dominates the landscape even when obscured by clouds. The beaches with their black sand and their wild coastal winds. The forest, the birdlife, the raw power you can feel in the area. My tribe of family, both blood and those I’ve chosen.

It wasn’t until this morning that I realized how important the concept of tūrangaewawae is to the Kotahi Bay books, but I do now. And even though it might hurt to do the work I’m going to pour my feelings into these books and hope that it pays off. And maybe I’ll find a way to ease the pain in my heart and a new way of standing.

publishing, publishing news, Uncategorized, writing

Book Launch!

On February 18th you can find me at Meow Cafe in Wellington, between 1-4pm (FB Event page here!), where I will officially be launching Serafina’s Flame, along with six other authors and their books at Kiwi Book Feast’s inaugural event.

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I’m terribly nervous as it’s my first book launch, but also excited! Serafina’s Flame has been a long time in the making, and with last year being a pretty awful one on the writing front this is the first book I’ve published in… well, let’s not count, huh?

I’ve never done a physical book launch, so it’s a totally new experience for me. If you are in Wellington, why not come along and say ‘Hi!’, there will be some giveaways and nibbles, and I will do my very best not to speak too fast…

Anyway, if you’d like to get your hands on this book early you can sign up to my newsletter (here). I’m giving all my lovely subscribers a digital copy to say thanks for being so patient with me. If you’ve read Burn and wanted to know what happened next, you’ll want in on this as Serafina’s Flame includes, and continues, what Burn started.

Hope you’re all having a fabulous week!

Uncategorized

Looking for romance?

stuff-your-e-reader-for-2017-banner

E-reader a little skinny after the holidays? Stuff it with 75+ Free and $0.99 romances from best-selling Australian and New Zealand authors. From sexy or sweet contemporaries to romantic comedy, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, erotica, women’s fiction and Urban fantasy/Sci-fi/fantasy – we’ve got you covered.

I totally forgot the link! Here it is: CLICK ME!

I’ve got two titles in the promo, and there are heaps of good looking books in there! I’ve grabbed some myself. The dates/prices are USD, so there are still a few days to go if you’re looking for some winter/summer reading – I think either season is perfect for relaxing with a good book.

Hope you’re all well!

life, Uncategorized, writing

Recap and look forward

This has been a Year.

I’ve seen it capitalized all over the place – people from across the world have been having a hard time of it, and it was no different for me. It’s been almost four months since we moved cities, which was a total upheaval but has given me a lot of time to reflect and grow. Growing can be painful, but I really believe it’s worthwhile. And I think in the last few months, in particular, I’ve come a long way.

I was watching a friends video the other day (FB Live, have you tried it? I think if I ever did a live thing my kids would totally video bomb me lol), and she was talking about what her word for the year might be in 2017. It got me reflecting on what my word of the year has been in recent history, and while I haven’t always ‘set’ them purposefully, they have been there.

They go something like this ‘Survival’ or ‘Balance’. ‘Not falling apart’ could probably make it to the list too. Because on reflection, I’ve had a few hard years. In 2014 I finished my studies and published my first book. At that point, I was struggling hard, I just didn’t know it yet. One of the topics of my study ripped me apart and I’d spent months spiraling that, and I determined that in 2015 I would put myself back together again, in some fashion. I decided to give antidepressants a shot, and while they helped somewhat, it was a lot of ups and downs, side effects, and eventually feeling incredibly numb.

I didn’t write a lot of new stuff in 2015, though I published several things that had been waiting. Towards the end of 2015 I was toying with the idea of coming off my meds, and I did that and felt a huge sense of relief. I could actually FEEL again, and that was amazing. I’ve not doubted that decision for a moment since, and despite all the turmoil this year has brought me, I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. I am strong. And I have bad days, but I get through those, much like most people do. Life is full of ups and downs.

2016 was a light year for writing too. Very light. I did a good chunk of editing, worked for others, but always put aside my own work.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying that my writing has not been a priority for a long time. I’ve been dealing with so many real life issues that there wasn’t room for that creativity and it was much easier to do things for other people. But I’m ready now.

And my word for 2017 is going to be FOCUS. Because it’s time. It’s time I actually gave this a real chance, time I made my writing a priority. Time to stop putting everyone else’s work ahead of my own. This both terrifies and excites me, because if I actually try, then there is always the chance I can fail, and failing sucks. But I’d rather try and know than just keep putting it on the backburner.

2017 will be a year of words. A year of saying no to the things I don’t really want to do but maybe feel like I should. Of saying YES to my own worlds.

What are you saying yes to in 2017?

books, Uncategorized

Books of 2016

This year I set myself a goal of reading fifty books over on Goodreads (you can check out my full list here). I am just one shy of completing the goal, and so with most of the month of December still ahead of me, I know I’m going to make it.

I’ve read some amazing books, and some not so great ones, and looking back at that list it feels like a lifetime ago that I read some of those titles. Wow, has this year been long and challenging or what?

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of my top picks because there are plenty of those and, personally, I find word-of-mouth to be the most reliable way to find books.

We’ll get the BIG ones out of the way first.

winter-finalWinter, by Marissa Meyer. This is the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series and WOW. It’s epic in both size and contents, and is the perfect ending for the series. I just adore the title character in this one, and am in awe of Meyer for the way she weaves so many plots (and fairytales) together into what is an incredible book. I can’t wait to see what she tackles next!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor – the entire series! Yup, I read through these three huge tomes in just a few months. The sheer size of the books made me nervous, but I’d heard so many fantastic things about them that I put my big girl pants on and got to it.  The third book is a hard, hard slog at some points, but totally worth it once you reach the end. I think it was a few days before I really engaged with a book again after finishing this one.

Right, into some regular sized books now huh?

Malus Domestica, by S.A. Hunt. Witches, youtubers, cats, possession, apple trees – what’s not to like? This was an engaging horror with an awesome protagonist, and some really cool secondary characters. I am very much looking forward to the next one in the series.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness. Don’t read this if you are not prepared to cry. Seriously. It’s a short book, but it’s heartbreakingly beautiful and I SOBBED. No shame in that.

viciousVicious, V.E. Schwab. I LOVED this book. The characters are awesome, the storytelling is fantastic, and it kept me gripped right through to the end. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

And lastly, non-fiction, just for fun: The Game Believes in You, Greg Toppo. If you have kids, and if you’re curious about how games can help kids to learn, curious about how so much of the world can be seen as a game, curious about education, and developments, you NEED to read this book. It totally blew my mind.

What did you read in 2016 that you’d recommend?? I’ve got a few on my list to read and/or finish, but I’d love to hear of new books!

life, office, Uncategorized

The Office

A few days ago, I moved into my office.

YAY!

This has been the culmination of weeks of thinking, and shuffling things around, as well as gathering the essential supplies and doing a little bit of a makeover. Being that I homeschool my three kids, and they are a lovely combination of ADHD/aspie/just-plain-weird-like-their-parents, you can imagine that sometimes the inside of my house is very loud. Like, really loud. Sometimes it’s mostly populated by small things that look like children but are actually animals (complete with conversations held in meows, woofs, and getting your face occasionally licked).

photogrid_1477889251055Sometimes, I just need a place where I can go and hide out. A quiet place, filled with quiet, peaceful things. Sometimes, this quiet place is actually loud so I can listen to music without using headphones and can sing at the top of my lungs without being yelled at. But it’s my space and I’ll damn well do with it what I please. Mostly it’s quiet. There is a lock on the door. This is important.

Some lovely friends came and helped me paint a couple of weeks ago, and it’s the purple of childhood dreams. I think this was a subconscious thing on my part, a nourishment, a recollection of simpler days. A reclamation of innocence stolen. Whatever, it’s calming. And I do really like purple. The ceiling is ugly, and instead of patching it up and painting I found some pretty wool lace online and ordered enough to drape. It’s like being in a purple cave decorated by a massive spider web. I like it. I have curtains to go in still, but they aren’t 100% necessary for my use of the space so I’ll get around to it eventually.

photogrid_1477951571993Between having houseguests for most of a week, and every else being down with a tummy bug for the weekend, it took me until Tuesday to move my desk in. This was a big step. Not only would I have to leave the house to use my desk (my office is the small, second room in the sleepout), but I’d have no regular, easy place to work inside.

And you know what? It’s awesome. It’s no longer easy to turn on my laptop and spend endless hours trawling the internet. If I really need to check stuff I can do that on my phone anyway. It’s been less than a week and I am already forming some good habits. I go to my office to work. I GO to work. That’s a huge mindset shift in itself! This morning, sick of juggling an armload of items, I packed my bag instead and called to the kids “I’m just going to work in the office for a half hour!” and off I went.

photogrid_1478209511779To be clear, the office is not far. I can still hear them if anything goes amiss. They are free to come out, but normally prefer to stand on the deck and call me instead. A lot of the time they’ll jump on the trampoline outside my office window, sometimes they will come and work on projects in the big room of the sleepout. If they want to jump on the trampoline and I am not working they ask, “can you go and do some work?” and off we go. How cool is that?

And WOW does that ever feel good after what has felt like months of spinning my wheels. I know that logically that was all important. Settling in takes a long time, and I am only just now at the point where I feel like we really truly live here and that’s good. I still miss a lot from back home, but this is home now too.

Home, and an office.

It’s not complete. There are still things I need, but I’m determined to only put stuff in it I love. I want to surround myself with reminders that my needs and wants are valuable, and that I am worthy of an abundance of awesome. Because I am. And, hey, so are you! In the months to come, I’ll have some really cool stuff to share with you. I kind of feel like I’m starting a new phase of my life, and I’m super excited about it all.

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Out stubborn life

I’ve been struggling a lot lately. Moving regions with three kids in tow proved to be far harder than I thought it would be. I’ve had high points and low points, and it continues to be a bit of a rollercoaster. I’ve been feeling vulnerable in general which has impacted on everything – I’ve been fairly quiet on social media, I’ve gotten sick a few times, my creativity has waned, and I’ve been left wide open to a PTSD flare-up worse than any I’ve had in over a decade.

But I’m still here. I’ll continue to still be here, because carrying on is what I do.

I was reminded of this earlier today when reading an email from one of my lovely clients. They said:

everything-you-have-ever-wanted-is-sitting-on-the-other-side-of-fear

It was a really timely reminder. I have out stubborned life before, and I can totally do it again. I’ve been starting to make moves towards that, chipping off the long list of things that need to happen, and while occasionally I slip and fall, and feel like I lose any forward momentum, I get back up again.

This week those steps were seen in a few different ways. I printed out a bunch of inspiring quotes and laminated them for my future office space. I plastered the holes in the walls of my future office. I finally remembered that I pulled my books out of Kindle Unlimited and put them back up on other distributors, and today I put them all up on PayHip as well. You can find new book links here. Oh and I also tweaked my website a bit. It took far too long to do a very basic job, and I’m still not happy, but I am less unhappy with it than I was this morning.

These things might not be ‘writing’ but they are all steps in the right direction. And I’m a stubborn woman. I’ve got this 😉

challenges, lessons, life, Uncategorized, writing

Not everyone is an asshole

My friend (and valued member of my crit group) Richard Parry has some thoughts on his blog about the state of things. About the way people interact, about the negative feedback loops we sometimes get caught up in (go read it now, then come back. I’ll wait).

Some days, it seems like everyone in the world is just trying to annoy me, but then I remember that everything is relative and if I’m struggling I’m more likely to interpret other people’s behaviour in negative ways.

Everyone is doing the best they can, but sometimes that looks like being an asshat because they are totally tapped out.

I am trying really hard to remind myself of this. Having moved about 6 weeks ago, I am still getting my head into the right space. Still struggling to get a routine in place. Some days the dishes pile up and we resort to takeout, some days I forget to brush my hair, and the kids hang out in their PJs all day (who doesn’t like PJ days?) and all I can really manage is basic meals (ie: toast!) and to bury myself in a book. It might not look like it from the outside, but on those days, that is the best I can do.

Not every day, of course, and on fewer days the longer we’re here (for which I am grateful). But this being kind to others, and assuming they are trying their best means I have to try and believe that I’m doing my best as well. Which is interesting.

 

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Can giraffes be assholes? 

 

As I get back into writing, I am struggling to really disappear into the story and I have a long held habit of writing myself in-text notes. Historically these have looked like [WTF Cassie?!] or [this is such shit, you can do better]. And now, I hold back on berating myself. Now they are more along the lines of [while this is an inelegant solution, I can see you’re feeling your way through introducing this element to the story, it’ll clean up later] or [bring it back on track, Cassie. You’ve got this]. It might not be as hilarious when reading it through again, but I’m certain it will be more helpful, and in the now? It means I don’t feel so crappy about my attempts to write.

I’m not really sure if I have a point here, other than maybe we all need to be a little kinder to ourselves, and to others. We can never tell what’s happening inside another person’s mind or body. We don’t know what they are going through. Sometimes we can’t even tell what’s going on with ourselves!

Of course, some people are just assholes. But not everyone. And not me. I’m just struggling.

september, Uncategorized, writing

On Fear

I started writing something new a few months ago now. It was based off an idea I’d had kicking around for six months or so and started out as play – I just needed to write something fresh, something in a new world (well, our world still, but not a take on it that I’d written before). I was excited by it, I felt like it was a good something, and I shared it with my crit group and a few friends, and they all liked it too! In fact, they picked up on everything I’d wanted them to, had all the right questions about what was going on, and it thrilled me to the core.

It was hitting all the right marks. It had potential. It was good.

And what I didn’t realize at the time was that all this positive feedback was not only helpful and wonderful, but it caused me to start building a wall of fear around this thing. Because it was new for me, and experimental in some ways – I very rarely write first person, and this was a new genre. And everyone was like ‘heck yeah, we want to read more!’

But what if this was a strong start and everything else sucked? What if I couldn’t maintain it? I had a really good chat with a writer friend yesterday, in which all of this became clear to me. I said to her, “What if I fuck it up?”

She gave me the greatest words of wisdom in response:

The only way you fuck this up is if you don’t try.

Damn. How true is that? I’ve been writing for years now, but even I sometimes forget that first drafts are allowed to suck, and that the real work – the making of something into an excellent thing – is in the rewrites and the edits. So I have put aside my fear and doing another thing that terrifies me – writing an outline/planning. Because while I might not get it all right on the first draft, having a roadmap will go a long way to making sure I hit most of the right spots along the way.