butcherbird, January, new zealand author, Uncategorized, writing

On first readers

Today I sent Butcherbird to my first reader, which is both exciting and terrifying.


What’s a first reader? Well, some people call them an alpha reader, but either way, they are the first person to read your work. Often, the only person or people to read the first draft in all it’s rough and raw glory. We writers are sensitive souls, so it’s not always good for our writer health to be sharing such formative versions of our work*.

Which means that it’s very important to choose your first reader carefully. Some people opt for a supportive partner (mine does not read fiction, so that’s out), but I’ve found a good one in my lovely friend and fellow author Leigh K Hunt. She laughs at all my jokes, can see past the mess to the gold underneath, to my intention and goals, and gives me excellent pointers for honing it into something beautiful. Butcherbird is a little different from the Kotahi Bay books (no romance for starters!), so I’m going to be hanging out to find out what she says about it – being the first book in a new series the nerves are higher than normal. But…

It’s time.

Time to get some feedback. Time to make a plan for the rest of the series. Time to start thinking about covers and sharing things with you as it gets edited. I’m so excited about this book, folks. I hope you’re going to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve already got the outline for book two, though I think I’m going to wait till after we’ve moved before I dive in. Don’t need to have another big life change happening while I write each of the subsequent books 😉 I’m hoping to knock out a smaller, fun project in that time, so watch this space.

This is going to be a good year. I just know it.

* Some writers are different, of course, and never feel any doubt, but I can’t see me ever being one of those. Others write amazing first copy and while they swear it makes them sweat when they let you read their stuff you can’t help but be sure they are kicking back with a beer waiting for the inevitable praise because their first drafts are just that damn good. Yes, I’m looking at you, Richard Parry.

January, Uncategorized

Shiny Maths

I’ve been doing quite a bit of tracking lately, mostly of words written and time taken. It’s been a revelation!! I’ve discovered some really interesting things.

I can write an average of 10,000 words a week.

I can write an average of 2,500 words an hour (that’s rounding down, it’s often a bit higher but I’m being kind to myself).

I’m working on averages because my life is chaotic. I homeschool three kids. I have bipolar 2 and my mood fluctuates. I homeschool three kids. Three kids who are all kind of high needs in different ways, on different days. Life is not going to get less chaotic anytime soon, so averages are a really good thing for me. Looking beyond what I did today, and instead, looking at what I did over a week, or a month, makes me feel much better about my progress. I’m so glad to have finally realized this.

Anyway, why the shiny maths?

Because math is awesome! And because when I’m trying to figure out what I can do over a year, it gives me a really good way to work out what’s achievable and what’s me being manic.

So, 10,000 x 52 – 520,000 words – WHOA. Now that seems high. I know writers who do more though, a lot more. Some people write a million words a year (one day I might be one of them).

This year is going to be a little higgedly piggeldy though. January is already full of stress (my grandmothers official funeral/life celebration coming up, the house has just gone on the market, open homes upcoming, packing, preparing for the move). February is going to be full of much of the same, with actually moving in the mix, as well as settling back into life in our old house.

So, let’s scale that word count down a bit, shall we? Let’s say, 430,000.

Dang, that’s still a good chunk of words.

I’ve got some really fun ideas about how to spend them too, such as:

SunTouched_ECover_10-8-15v2Finishing the series that I started with Sun Touched. This has to be the book I am most asked about, probably because it’s now my only incomplete series. I promise I’m working on it! I’m going to be reading Sun Touched again in the near future and marking it up with lots of notes about what comes next. I had plans for a few more books, but I want to reconnect with the story before I determine just how long the series will be.

Publishing the series that begins with Butcherbird. I’m in LOVE with this series. I’ve written book one as well as a shorter piece that I’ll be giving away for free to subscribers in the near future. I’m already planning book two, and will probably do a trilogy to begin with. Think horror elements, family – by blood/by choice, demonic possession, birds. Lots of birds. Alcohol.

Starting a new series in a shared world! I’m really excited about this, and my main character, Juniper, is ITCHING to be written. I’m going to dip my toes into this one soon and I can’t wait. Juni is so many things that I’m not, and I can see she’s going to kick my ass on the page, and off. In a good way though. I think she’s here to teach me a few tough lessons. Think old gods, dark hungers, kick-ass women, violence, and humour.

I’m also hashing out the details for some potential co-writing with a good friend of mine, and ideas for another series (or three?). The ideas are coming thick and fast lately!

Despite all the change that’s about to crash into my life, despite a bunch of stuff being up in the air, I’m feeling really alive – invigorated – when it comes to my writing.

2018 is going to be a hella good year, people. Let’s make it so.

friends, January, life, Uncategorized


Well, we’re almost through the first month of the year, and I have very little to report. The three weeks I had booked out as ‘holiday’ quickly become a month, and more – and seeing as February arrives in just a few days, I’ve decided (with a little help from my friends) to officially declare January a holiday month.

This is completely abnormal for me. I don’t do holidays or relaxing very well, but right now, I can’t seem to summon the energy for much of anything else. Which really bugs me. I had big plans for the year, and right now, I can’t be bothered with any of them.

So, it’s time to go back to the Doctor. For me, there is little worse than feeling so blah. I can barely summon the emotion to feel upset, or happy, about anything. It’s like I am in zombieland. I would rather feel something – anything – than nothing. My creativity has entirely dried up, and even when I know doing something should make me feel better, I can’t make myself. I feel like I should hate feeling like this, but you know what? I cant even tap into that emotion right now. I’m living in a world of meh, where everything is grey and the air is dust. There is no joy here. And I need that to change. I don’t feel like me, I don’t feel authentic.

I think I want off my meds. Which scares me a little too, because I don’t want what I was feeling before either, and I’m not really sure what to expect. What comes next? I’ve been on this path since April last year, increasing dosages every 3-4 months as I flatline again, and again. Ug.

Mental illness sucks. But I know I don’t want this place where I’m at right now, and I know that I will try a whole lot of other things to find a way out of it, to find a place where I can feel joy again, because I want to be present in my own life, living it, not just walking through it in a daze. My family deserves that, and I deserve that too.

I AM okay. There is no need to worry about me, and I tell you that honestly. Life is a journey, and I will keep on travelling.

becoming, books, Burn, editing, etherhart press, Fantasy, January, Kotahi Bay, Maiden mother crone, Uncategorized, year ahead

2016 Begins

The new year is here! While I was feeling incredibly excited about it toward the end of last year, now that it’s here, I am tired. I worked my butt off in the last days of 2015 and the first days of 2016, and now have a cold.

This is NOT going to be a ‘start the year how you mean to continue it’ year. But it does give me opportunities to practice one of this year’s goals, which is to be kinder to myself. I spent most of yesterday lying in bed, resting, and hopefully, soon I will be back to 100%.

20160104_090019Following on from last years goals, I thought I’d do something similar – nothing too specific, but goals that will get me moving in the right direction. I DO have some definites I want to tick off, but for now, I just want to paint them in broad strokes, which is another act of kindness for myself – much harder to be self-critical that way.

So, kindness. I am giving myself a heart sticker for the days when I am kind to me, whether those are small or large kindnesses. I’m also going to keep track of the days I write with stars. I fell badly out of the habit of actually writing last year, and I’m going to work on reinstating that habit in 2016 using this monthly planner thingamie. Yay!

20160104_090104I’m also going to work through my current bookshelves – both print and digital. Now that I have a bookshelf I’ve realized there are a bunch of books on there I haven’t read. Things I’ve picked up from the withdrawn section of the library, things passed along from others, things I purchased super cheap years ago and never got around to reading. I imagine there are a bunch of books I don’t even like on my shelves, so it’s time for a clear out.

PhotoGrid_1451853786930Speaking of books I’ve been given, my mother-in-law gave me Wonderbook for my birthday last year and I intend to work my way through it over the year.

In terms of publishing goals, my main focus right now is finishing the Maiden, Mother, Crone series. I’ve decided not to publish the second and third books individually, and am going to release a very pretty print omnibus once it’s all edited and ready to go. Aside from that, I’m looking to publish another two Kotahi Bay books – and anything else is icing on the cake 😉

Burn, in the spirit, January, Kotahi Bay, publishing, round-up, The Way the Sky Curves, writing

January round-up

It’s February!!!!! A whole month of 2015 has already passed us by, and wow, it was a busy one. I’m thinking if I can keep January as ‘busiest month of the year’ that would be nice, and if I can manage even half the productivity, this year is going to be awesome.

A quick break down of how I spent my time:

Edited: 3 novels and one novella.
Critiqued: 2 novels and one MA book.
My stuff: finished the 1st draft of a novel, plotted out the rest of the Kotahi Bay series, edited Burn, began final edits on The Way the Sky Curves.
Read: 9 books on GR and a couple more besides. NINE!!!!!!!! And I only set my goal at 40 for the year.

On top of that we still had home school trips, catching up with old school friends, lots of swimming and exploration, lots of fun times with the kids. January was a really busy month, but it was completely awesome as well. I’m not interested in being *quite* that busy again for a couple of months, but it feels amazing to have started out the year so well.

I also made a few tweaks to my site the other day, changing the Books tab around so that there are pages for each current series, as well as adding an In Progress page at someones request – apparently, he couldn’t keep track of what went where and how they connected! Sorry if I confused anyone else. I want to do a complete overhaul of the website, but that might have to wait until I move to a self hosted one – if you have any suggestions, or things you’d like to see on my site, please feel free to let me know 🙂

Oh, and I found out yesterday that In The Spirit was nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novella! Thank you, kind reader! That was really lovely. I may not make the final ballot, but it was pretty awesome to get that email. While I’ve co-won an SJV before for editing an anthology, this is my very first nomination for something I wrote, which makes it pretty special.

So, what does February hold??

Oh so many things!

BURN_Final E-cover_JC HARTFirstly, releasing Burn. Gosh I can’t wait!! I don’t have a release date yet, as I’m waiting to get it back from proofers, and need to go over it again myself before I can set that. But it will definitely be February.

I’m looking into doing a limited print edition of Burn because I’ve had a few requests. I’ll also look at doing a small run for In The Spirit for the same reason. It would be kind of nice to have a copy of my own too, just for giggles – I’ll blog about it before I go ahead just in case anyone wants to order a copy.

I’m hoping to get through this final big edit of The Way The Sky Curves and have that ready for a final reader by the end of the month. It should only need a few tweaks, copy-editing and then proofing before it’s ready. I was worried before I dove in a few days ago, sure that it was going to need a lot more work, but it’s a great story! I’m going to become a broken record ‘I love my WiP so much!’ lol, I seem to say the same thing for every WiP.

I’ve got a few editing jobs lined up as well, and plan on doing a lot more reading. It’s the first February in a long time that I’ve not been gearing up for study, which is a bit weird, but also wonderful.

I hope January and 2015 in general is treating you kindly – here’s to an awesome February!

authors, books, Guest post, January, New Zealand, writing

Introducing: KD Forsman

facebook twitter pic1 colour

As some of you will know, I love it when I have the opportunity to give a shout out to a fellow NZ author, so today, here is a little bit about KD Forsman.

KD Forsman released her debut novel Fraud & Fabrication in early 2015. It is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook format. Fraud & Fabrication is the first of the Leighton Park series, about the wealthy and eccentric Leighton family, their successful horse racing empire and their closely guarded family secrets.

Blogging and freelance copywriting has provided a creative outlet for KD since 2008. When asked why she decided to write a book, she replied…:

“I knew I had to get serious about my writing when I realised the characters in my head were not going to leave me in peace. They’re a bunch of crazies, but they’re my crazies.

A couple of story ideas had been percolating in my imagination for a number of years. In the end I thought it would be interesting to mush them all together and see what I could cook up. The result is Fraud & Fabrication. Seeing this book through to fruition was amazing and even I was surprised at how the ending turned out.

There’s definitely room for a sequel – the problem I have now is deciding which character to focus on, as they are all jostling for the lead! I’d be very interested in hearing from my readers about which character should star in the next instalment.”

KD Forsman was born in the UK and immigrated to middle earth (New Zealand) when she was four, where she still lives today. She has lived in rural locations for most of her life and describes herself as a recovering horse addict, having ridden horses competitively and for recreation for many years. These days, she has swapped her four legged antics for the two legged variety, after completing her first ever half marathon in 2014 with plans to repeat the experience again this year.

KD Forsman had the privilege of being mentored by other published authors and hopes to entertain her readers through the stories she shares.

Fraud & Fabrication:

kdforsman-72dpi-1500x2000Genre; Contemporary drama with a bit of passion & crime thrown in for good measure!

Cassandra has finally landed on her feet when she escapes to a new job after a relationship gone wrong. Leighton Park Stud, located in remote rural Canterbury New Zealand, seems a lifetime away from the hustle and bustle of city living, and that’s exactly what Cass needs to make a new start.

Despite the sometimes confronting experiences of life at the top thoroughbred horse stud and training facility, it’s a job Cass loves and she quickly settles into her new role as Secretary of the Stud.

When the mysterious Geoffrey Leighton, absentee eldest son of her boss John, comes to the rescue of a badly injured filly, Cass realises she’s found her soul mate. It’s not long before she’s engaged to be married into racing’s elite; and she’s happy to overlook some of the wackier sides of life with the wealthy family.

Her loyalty to the Leighton family are put to the test when nasty rumours circulate around the sale of a horse and the investigation that ensues. Add into the mix a closely guarded family scandal, an alcoholic step mum, a terribly accident prone husband and soon Cass is left wondering what normal even looks like anymore.

Cass tries to ignore the warning signs that all is not well in paradise. But heavily pregnant with their first child, her house of cards is starting to crumble. Suddenly she is confronted with a very real and dangerous situation.

Cass has the most difficult decision of her life to make. Will she stay and deal with it? Or walk away and blow the whole ugly truth wide open?

editing, Goodreads, January, publishing, reading, writing

Mid-January update

How is it already the middle of January??? And how has it taken me three days to get around to writing this post? lol

2015 has started out well. So far I have already finished writing the first draft of Alyssa’s novel, finished a round of edits on my next release (more on that later), edited one novel for someone else, and am partway through editing another. Critiqued yet another novel, read several books, spent a lot of time lying on the deck in the sun (reading), swimming in rivers, and hanging out with the kids.

Pretty epic, really.

Despite how busy all of that sounds, I actually feel fairly relaxed. The ‘reading on the deck in the sun’ is a big part of this. I can’t remember the last year when I had time to do this. To just relax and unwind. To disappear into a book – not critique it, not edit it, just enjoy the story. Goodreads would suggest it was 2011, because I read over 100 books that year, and since then it’s been pretty dismal. I’m very much looking forward to reading a lot more books in the months to come. I feel like I’m on holiday, and this is all basically because I’m not studying any more. I knew it was stressing me out, but I had no idea just how much!

Thank goodness I am done with that 😉

I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up in the near future, but will save that for another post! For now, I am off for a bush walk in the rain with a friend.