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?

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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!

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 😉