A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay

Z is for Zilch

I forgot to hit post on this last night! lol

Z is for zilch, as in, I have nothing left in me!!! This month of blogging has been awesome, but I couldn’t think of anything relevant to post for Z. I contemplated naming a character in a later book Z…., but being that I’ve mostly stayed away from spoilers or potential spoilers beyond the first book, I didn’t want to lock anything down that far ahead, and it felt like cheating in a way.

So there we have it. All the letters of the alphabet. I feel like I’ve really learned a lot about myself, and my series from this. About the ways we’re connected. It’s been helpful for getting myself more in touch with my heritage, and I hope that it’s been enjoyable in some way for you too!! Did you learn anything?

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A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, writing

W is for Wahine

There are many wonderful words that start with W, and I’ve had so much trouble deciding which one to go with that this post is now several days late – but, better late than never right?

Initially, I was going to go with Whānau, which is a really important concept of family and the ways in which we interact, the interweaving of generations – and these days, for me at least, the flexibility of the family unit. This lead me to think about Whanaungatanga, which is also about family, but those connections you make through experience and commonalities, the bonds which strengthen us as individuals and as a community. Which led on to thinking about Whakapapa, our histories, and another way to express connections and claim identity.

All of this, in some respect, ties in with what I hope I’m building with the Kotahi Bay series. It’s what I am also working at building in my every day life – a tribe, a sense of belonging, surrounding myself with people who help me to be more ‘me’, who give me strength and challenge me and whose support I feel even when they aren’t right next to me.

I was lying in bed last night thinking about my series. Thinking about how the majority of the demi-gods in the books are female. Which is interesting, because the large majority of Maori gods are actually male – all of the children of Rangi and Papa were sons. I was thinking about how so much knowledge of the gods and Maori religion is lost and that all the research I do leaves me wanting more.

IMG_20150426_144851087 (2)Which made me think of when I took my two youngest to the park by the sea the other day and it was SO very windy, and my littlest said to me ‘I can control the wind, mama!’ and the smile on their faces were just beautiful, and the way that they yearned for the wildness of the weather, the way our faces were plastered with smiles as we stood on the rocks and felt the kiss of the ocean against our skin reminded me of myself. I very clearly remember thinking that I could control the wind as a child. I remember the way I felt connected to the living world all around me, and it really hit me that THIS is what inspired my series. I’m reaching for my roots. I’m finding connections with the gods of my people. I am a female, and so it’s natural for me to want to explore what it would mean to be part of the gods, as a wahine – as a woman.

It’s funny that when I started off writing this series I didn’t think it was very personal. Gosh, I had no idea just how personal it was! Then again, maybe that was what I needed to believe in order to begin. Now I know better.

A-Z challenge, competition, Kotahi Bay

Y is for YOU!!!

We’re so close to the end of the month now, and also SO close to releasing The Way the Sky Curves. And I want to give you the opportunity to have a guest role in one of the Kotahi Bay books. Yes, you!!!

We can use your real name or a pseudonym, or some combination. The character can have some of your characteristics, or be purely of your own invention (within reason, of course!). I will discuss the details of it with you, and you’ll get credit in the acknowledgements as well.

And what do you need to do to be in for the chance to win this guest role? I could say that you need to buy a copy of one of my books, but I’m not going to. What I would love is to hear which post this month has been your favourite. It’s that simple.

Leave a comment below and let me know what your favourite post from the A-Z challenge was, and you’re in the draw! I’ll announce the winner the day after The Way the Sky Curves releases. Good luck! I can’t wait to see who I get to write into a book 😉

A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, publishing, writing

X is for eXpectations

X is a funny letter, isn’t it? I was thinking about doing X-rated, but we’ve covered edgy and intimacy already this month, so I thought I would go for something a little different.

Expectations…

I feel a little bit of weight on my shoulders with The Way the Sky Curves. It’s the first proper book in the Kotahi Bay series, but it’s not the first book published that is set in this world. I worry that readers who liked In The Spirit won’t enjoy Sky, because one had zero romance, and the other does. I fear that I’ve made the tone too different, and then try to reassure myself that every book is meant to be a little different because the main characters are not the same. They shift and change with the natures of the leading characters.

I’m so pleased that this book was written before I published In The Spirit, as I think it would have been harder doing it the other way around. But I’m still nervous about publishing it because what if I’ve forgotten to include something? lol What if it doesn’t live up to peoples expectations?

Well. What if, indeed. I can’t please everyone, right? And while I am responsible for crafting as good of a book as I can, I have no control over what other people think or feel about it. So I need to shake off the weight of expectations – which, let’s be honest, are mostly in my head and have certainly NOT been placed on me by anyone else – and focus on finishing up the final bits and pieces and getting this thing out to you ASAP.

A-Z challenge, ANZAC, New Zealand

V is for View

Yesterday was the 100th ANZAC day commemorating all Australian and New Zealand troops who have served overseas. I do my best to get to a service, whether it’s dawn or a little later as I’ve known many men and women who’ve served overseas, but primarily because it’s the day of the year I most associate with my Grandfather, who died 14 years ago. He served in the second world war before coming home and starting his family. They played taps at his funeral, and I can remember all the servicemen standing, and crying so hard it hurt. I can’t hear taps without welling up, so I am always a bit of a mess at ANZAC services.

Anyway, this year we were away camping with our homeschool group, out in the middle of nowhere. My brothers family and I tossed around the idea of driving back into civilization for the service, but then we decided to have our own. Commemorate in a way I know Grandad would have respected.

There is a massive hill at this camp ground, and in the pre-dawn chill, my brother, sister-in-law, nephews and two of my daughters** tramped up to the top with a lantern to shed a little light on the way. We stood at the peak of the hill and watched light bathe the hills and valleys, we watched the mist rising, we listened as that moment came when there was enough sun to spark life into the land and the birds began to chirp and the sheep to baa. It was majestic.

Often the service ends with planes passing over the memorial. Well, we had a flock of birds pass by, creating a natural end to our commemoration.

And so today I give you my view on ANZAC morning. The photos don’t do it justice, but I have the memory firmly in mind.

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*the third would have come but she’d spent the night in another families tent and I didn’t want to wake anyone up.

A-Z challenge, Characters, gods, Kotahi Bay

U for Under the waves

Continuing on the theme of gods, another is Tangaroa – god of the sea.

I’ve already covered how much I love the beach, and so it was a given that one of my characters would be the child of Tangaroa. She is changeable, like the ocean, dangerous when you don’t know her, but calm and beautiful under the right conditions. She loves the sea more than anything and will do whatever it takes to protect it. I guess you could say that she’s a bit of an eco-warrior in her own way, though you might not agree with her methods 😉

A chunk of Shell and Bone is set under water, which was really cool to write. I can’t wait to begin editing this book! It’s out with an editor at the moment, and I’m hoping to have it available for purchase in August.

A-Z challenge, gods, Kotahi Bay, writing

T is for Tāwhirimātea

One of the gods that I’ve touched on in my Kotahi Bay series is Tāwhirimātea, who is the Māori god of weather. I’ve always loved the extremes of weather, in particular how it can change so quickly. We often say that here there really can be four seasons in one day, and at times it certainly feels like it! ‘Unpredictable’ is as accurate as the weather forecasts can be sometimes, especially in Autumn and Spring. 

In Māori tradition, Tāwhirimātea was the god of the weather. His parents were Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatūānuku (the earth mother), who lay close together. To let light into the world, Tāwhirimātea’s brothers separated their parents. But Tāwhirimātea did not agree to this. To show his anger he sent out his children, the four winds, and clouds that brought rain and thunderstorms.

To find out a little more you can follow this link.

A-Z challenge, Characters, Kotahi Bay

S is for Samantha

SamanthaWe’re back in Kotahi today after a little deviation from the plan yesterday! And you’re about to meet one of the other long standing residents of the Bay. Samantha is the only character who is made mention of in every single book planned to date. I don’t think she is mentioned by name in In The Spirit, but the shop where Alyssa takes her grandmothers belongings to sell off is Sam’s.

She is probably the most calm and together local that you’ll meet. Always there for wise words and advice. Supportive, encouraging, helpful, kind. I adore Samantha, and I think she embodies many of the qualities I like to think I have myself. That said, she’s a lot more together than I am 😉 At least, at the beginning of the series!

While Sam plays a secondary role in the majority of the books, the final book of the series is all about her. I have her story firmly entrenched in my mind and am looking forward to writing it in the near future.

A-Z challenge, life, writing

R is for Realization

I went away for a weekend without the family and had a lovely time catching up with several wonderful writer friends, and hanging out with one of my besties before, during and after her hens night. I left my computer at home and tried not to check in on any ‘work’ type stuff.

I think I really needed the break. I’ve come home feeling exhausted (it was a BUSY weekend with very little sleep!) but over-all, pretty upbeat, which is a nice thing for me. As some of you know I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety recently, but right now I can say that actually, I feel pretty darned good 🙂

However, that little bit of distance helped me realize a couple of things.

A) I have majorly over-committed myself. In my time of mental fog I’ve said yes to a lot of things, and the vast majority of those things then had their dates moved around (aka, pushed further back) which has meant my plans for the year are 100% out the window. It’s incredibly difficult to plan ones writing around other peoples deadlines when those times keep changing. I tend to work to a pretty good calender, but that’s not working right now because every time I make a plan that accommodates my stuff, it then gets bumped because I have work land on my desk. Yes, of course, I can fit things in around editing work, but it can be pretty hard to get motivated when things keep changing on you. I have decided to cut back big time on the work I do for free. I LOVE helping other people, but right now it’s costing me the ability to work on my own stuff, and that’s really important.

B) I’m not going to get Sun-Touched published in August. This was a really hard realization. It will be my first full novel release and I have to set back the dates. Again. I’ve been waiting until I had a nice clear spot to really give it some good attention. ‘Clear’ meant that I had the mental space (which I really haven’t had until recently, but hopefully am now reclaiming) as well as the time free from working on other peoples projects in order to give it some good attention. It hit me that even if I JUST knuckle down and edit for the next six weeks, I may not have that clear space. And I think I need a couple of months to do the book justice. Which means August just isn’t going to happen. I was really upset about this for a few minutes, but it was important, as it helped lead me to…

C) This is all my fault. Wait, don’t get shitty at me yet! I can’t control that other people have moving deadlines – we ALL have stuff that crops up in our lives. I CAN control how I respond to that. I CAN say no. And if I say YES, well then that’s on me. I like to be a woman of integrity, so when I say I am going to do something, then I will do it. But I have a choice in whether I say ‘yes’ and I need to learn to stop and really think about how I will respond before saying the first thing that crops into my head (which is generally ‘yes of course I will help you!’ lol). I can also choose to make some conditions on my agreement, like, ‘Yes, I can help, but I need to have it in my inbox no later than the 12th or I won’t be able to fit it in’ or ‘yes, I can, but not until next month’ or ‘yes, I can do that, but I need a months turnaround’. I don’t have to – NOR SHOULD I (caps for my benefit, not yours) – put my work on hold indefinitely in order to do things for everyone else. I am a priority too.

I know I made mention of that towards the start of the year. It got lost. I got lost. I let everything get on top of me again and stopped keeping that in mind. I won’t do that again. Or at least, I will try really hard not to. I even wrote on a postcard to remind myself. I’ll find something more pretty soon, but for now it will do. I am making a new plan now, and am shuffling around my projects so that I can still have a release in August.

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