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.

backbeach

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.

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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.

book-launch-final

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!

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?

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.

change, life, Uncategorized, writing

Back to basics

We’ve been here in our new house, new town, new region, for two weeks today. The boxes are mostly unpacked, and everybody – human and animal alike – is settled. Apart from me. I am not. I’m just not.

Which is not to say I am unhappy, because at times I really am. I love it here. The house is wonderful, I’m loving having a fireplace again, I love the way we all get up at the same time (even if it’s a tad on the early side!) because Hubby has to get up so early for work. I even love that there is so much less to do, because I feel like maybe I’ve been in need of a holiday for a while now, and am finally getting a bit of a mental break.

But it can’t last forever, and the more time that passes without me making progress on the writing front, the more miserable I become. And yet, I am without direction. I am so out of the habit at this point that I barely feel like a writer, and at times have wondered whether this is it. Maybe I’m done. Maybe I’m just never going to do it again. The only thing that stops me going down that road of thought is the pang of loss and instant sorrow that comes if I think about never writing.

Clearly, I am not done. But also, very clearly, I am without direction, purpose, drive, focus.

So today I went back to basics and booted up 750words. I’ve used this website off and on for YEARS now, and I find it most helpful when I am struggling. It doesn’t seem to matter what the struggle is, it just helps to vomit up my brain-goo and this is a good way to do it.

I feel better already.

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life, Maiden mother crone, March, writing

March! Autumn! Huzzah!

Autumn is probably my favourite season of the year, and I am SO happy it’s here!

IMG_20160227_162133We spent most of the last week at a camp down in Foxton with other homeschooling families, and while it was nice to get away and make some new friends, I am really pleased to be home. Back in my own space, with less noise. I did love being in the tent though, and was pleased to find that the whole family can cope with camping – even my super townie husband. I see many more camping trips in our future.

Back to the point of this post though… The time away gave me plenty of space to think. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes it’s not so good. As you might know, I’ve been slowly reducing my medication (that’s going well!), and have just this past week come to the realization that actually my depression might be a symptom of anxiety, rather than the other way around. I’m not feeling depressed, though as I drop my dosage, I can hear the voice of anxiety coming back. So that gives me something else to work on. It’s good to narrow it down.

In writing news, I’ve been flailing a bit with the third book in the Maiden, Mother, Crone trio. I know what needs to happen, but the middle is sagging and I feel like it’s not got as much depth as the previous books. I’ve made the executive decision to press pause on it for now while I go back and edit book two, as I think that will help me strengthen the final part of the series.

Flailing, in general, seems to be a good word to sum up where I am at. Lots of things have been happening and I am struggling to find balance and time, and motivation to get all the things done that I would like. This first chunk of the year seems to have been filled with death and illness, and I’m not loving it. I don’t like seeing the people I care about hurting or struggling, and there is not always a lot I can do about it. What I can do though, is take better care of myself. It’s a wake up call that I’m getting older, and that good health isn’t a given.

February, office, organization, writing

A place to sit

For a long time now I have relied solely on a standing desk. After a really bad run of sciatica I basically couldn’t sit down or I would induce pain. I was either standing or lying. It was hard adjusting, my legs ached for a few weeks, but I grew to love my standing desk. It’s beautiful, and wonderful, and helped me sort my back out.

20160208_154137Recently, I’ve had an urge to sit. And not at the dining table which is always covered in books and projects and other stray items. I started hunting for a desk, and my eldest generously suggested I take back my lovely old queen anne dresser and use that – when asked what she would do with her clothes she admitted that she keeps them on the floor, and the only things in her drawers are things she doesn’t like wearing (don’t worry, I DID get her drawers, but I can’t promise she will use them 😉 )

Today I picked up an office chair and had my first chance to sit down at my own desk in ages. And it was go20160208_151950-1od. I even finished a short story! It’s been in the works for a while – quite the challenging piece. It’s going to need some work, but I’m looking forward to focusing on something else for the next week or so.

And in the meantime, this is one happy writer 🙂 I love this addition to my space. While the mirrors are a tad distracting, I’m not sure I have the heart to remove them – this dresser belonged to my Great Aunt May, and has been a cherished belonging of mine for about 20 years now. I may just cover chunks of it with inspiration… What do you think?

 

life, office, writing

New office. AGAIN

So, you remember about six weeks ago when I moved back into my old office space and hoped that it would be the last move for six months or so?

Yeah.

Didn’t happen.

deskDuring this last weekend we had a party/BBQ/slumber party for my middle daughters birthday and having all those people in the house clarified a few things for me.

A) I do not want to have to perch around the dining table in order to talk with my friends in a relatively quiet space
B) the lounge was lost to us anyway – the children had claimed it as theirs a long time ago, and it was time to concede defeat
C) our eldest really does need her own space where she can shut the littles out.

Which lead to me waking in the middle of Sunday night with a BRILLIANT IDEA to rearrange basically the entire house…

A task I began, and finished, on Monday. My old office is once again my eldest’s bedroom, and the lounge is now bedroom to the two youngest. Bedroom/kids area, anyway. One bed is a trundler, which we can tuck away during the day so they have more space. Eldest has the door open between the rooms during the night so that she doesn’t feel alone, and everyone is happy.

loungeWhich leaves me with the kids old bedroom. AH, bliss. It is now the ‘quiet lounge/office’. I have all my writerly stuff in here as well as a couch and a couple of other chairs, and my bookshelf. And a coffee table. And no devices aside from my computer. I still need to retrain the kids, but so far, they are doing really well. They can read or draw in here, or talk, but not yell. There is no running or jumping, just quiet play. They have their wing now, and I have a place that is not filled with noise.

I have needed this for a really long time, but I wasn’t sure how to get it. Giving up the lounge room of the house might be a slightly odd move, but it’s what works for us for now.

And maybe this time, I can stay put for six months… /knocks on wood

Darian Smith, NZ Book Week, writer, writing

NZ Book Week: Darian Smith

Another lovely day in Aotearoa, and another day of NZ book week!

Today I’m bringing you some specials from kiwi author Darian Smith. He’s a smart fellow, and I’ve heard it said that our writing is quite similar – so if you like my stuff you should definitely head over and check out his work! All his books are on Kindle Countdown right now, so get in there quick!

Currents of Change frontCurrents of Change Sara’s sanctuary is a haunted house. Can she find love and safety with the ghosts and secrets of the past? Amazon US: Amazon UK:

Shifting Worlds 16 diverse stories of changing realities. Amazon US: Amazon UK:

The Psychology Workbook for Writers Easy to understand tools for creating realistic characters and conflict in fiction using psychology and counselling theory. Amazon US: Amazon UK: