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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life, writing

Sucker for punishment

WP_20140424_002All my life I’ve had the tendency to pile more on. Someone needs a hand with something? I’ll offer to help out. Friend is going through a rough patch? I’m there to prop them up. A job needs doing and no-one else will step up? Then I’m your gal.

A lot of people call me a sucker for punishment. I work hard. Once I commit to something I am all in. I keep going, keep trying, keep working until the job is done and my goal is achieved. Even when the odds are against me. Even when it stresses me out. Even if I chose the path under less than ideal circumstances.

I’m getting a little better at saying no, but I’ve come to realize that some of the things I have taken on that sounded like they were ‘too much’ are some of the best things I have done.

Like becoming a Brownies leader for my daughters unit. The thought petrified me. OMG 20 or so 7-9yr olds, all waiting for me to… do… stuff… Yeah. Sometimes I still feel really anxious about that. There is a lot of planning involved. Hours a week to get organized for the programme and then run it. Sometimes there is very little in the way of parent help. There are reports to write, and meetings to attend and stuff on the weekends at times – but you know what? It’s really rewarding. The week I realized that the girls actually LIKED me, and weren’t just going along with my plan because that’s what you do was seriously awesome. I’m so pleased that I put my hand up when no-one else would.

Other things have been becoming the Education officer at Playcentre – I got an immense sense of achievement by helping people get through their courses and at the time we finished up at the centre we had the highest level of education we’d had in over a decade. All down to me. I got to remember that actually, I’m a really organized person and can totally get stuff done – even when it scares me.

Tales for Canterbury is another one. I had young kids and very little experience, but did that stop me? Nope. I grabbed the bull by the horns and rode that thing all the way to the Sir Julius Vogel awards. I got the nerve up to email Neil Gaiman and ask for a story, and he actually said yes.

So there is something to be said for being stubborn. For tackling things you don’t think you have time or the skills for. For being a sucker for punishment. Sometimes the things that seem the hardest, or the scariest, are the most worth doing.

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Questions?

QCan you believe we’re over halfway through the month? No, me either.

Q is one of those letters I struggled to think of something to write about for. Quirky? Quiet? Both things that are important to me, but everything seemed kind of obvious, so I’m going to throw this one back to you  – any questions for me? Ask, and… well, I’ll try to do my best to answer 😉

writing

Publishing plans

PSince I spoke about options in my last post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about publishing, and my plans for it. It’s all still very much in the formative stage because I’m knee deep in my last year of study at the moment and find it hard to balance the two of them, but at least planning helps keep me focused on the future and provides ample opportunity to daydream about the months and years to come!

And I cannot wait to be done with study so that I can launch into my writing career.

At present, I’m working on editing mostly, and am submitting my novel Sun-Touched to publishers, sans agent. I wanted to try this first because these days there are quite a few publishers that have open submissions periods throughout the year, and it felt like a good book to take advantage of those opportunities with. I’ve considered trying to find an agent with it, but at this point I’ve got assignments looming and I think I’ll put that stress on the back-burner. I don’t want to add more stress to my life, and from past experience, querying agents can be all consuming. We’ll leave that til I’ve got less going on 😉

So why am I looking at a publisher for Sun-Touched? Well, first up, it’s science fiction, and I’m not yet convinced that science fiction sells all that well when self published (please, if you have some information that differs from this, I’d love to hear it!). Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about it – all my readers have loved it, and this has given me confidence that it could sell well. Thirdly, honestly, I would have to say because it’s what I’ve wanted all along and I guess I see it as kind of a challenge – not so much as that they are ‘gate keepers’ or anything, but a personal challenge, a ‘can I do this?’ kind of thing. I want to know if I can, and in order to find that out, I have to try. If I can’t find a publisher keen to take it, I will definitely self-publish it, because I believe in the novel.

Aside from this I have a series of works, novellas and novels, based on the west coast of New Zealand, that I’m planning on self publishing beginning at the end of the year. I’ve written 3 novellas already, and the first novel is a work in progress. There are about 7 stories lined up for the main story-line, as well as ideas for other stories set in the same world (one of the novellas already written is outside of that main storyline and will hopefully be released at Christmas!). I’m hoping to get most of the editing and work done on the novellas throughout this year alongside my study, as well as the full first draft of the novel. Covers are already in progress with my wonderful designer friend, Leigh, and I’m feeling really positive about where everything is at.

I know a lot of people would be chomping at the bit to get published, rather than having these things sitting around, but not me. Self publishing  has been on my mind for quite some time now, and I always knew that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. For me (and just me, we’re all different) this means having multiple works lined up. I didn’t want to release one thing because it was ready and then have to scramble for something to follow up with. It makes the most sense for me to write a series, and roll them out on a reasonably regular schedule, which is why I’ve been stockpiling the series to date.

And why am I planning to self publish these? Well, first up, they are paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and this seems to be a genre that does pretty well when self published. Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about the series and I think it could do well. Thirdly, much like my reason for trying a publisher with Sun-Touched, I want to see if I can do it. Self publishing provides a whole new set of challenges, and I’m really keen to try my hand at them. I love the idea of having control over these books, and that any success I have will be down to the effort I’ve put into it.

So, when it comes down to it, I guess you can say that my decisions regarding how I want to publish come down to challenging myself, having an awesome product, and looking for the best way to publish each type of work. I don’t think there is a one size fits all for publishing, nor do I believe that you have to stick with one path – do whatever works for you, find your happiness, make your own definition of success and go for that.

Sorry that you’re getting a few posts today – I ended up succumbing to the vomiting bug as well, which knocked me off track again, but this time I had actually had a plan for what I wanted to write about, so I decided to go ahead and write the posts! 

life, writing

Kill me now!

As a writer there are so very many mistakes you can make, sometimes you don’t even realize them until after the fact, but without fail every time you discover you’ve done it there is that moment where you want to hide under a rock and beg your writer friends to just kill you then and there because you might never recover from the shame.

(Trust me, you will. We all make mistakes and that’s part of learning.)

I’ve made many in my time.

I’ve forgotten to attach stories.

I’ve sent stories to the wrong markets.

I’ve queried a novel LONG before either it, or I, was ready. (I feel a lot of sympathy for those poor agents who had to read my submission).

Most memorably, I managed to somehow rename my assignment as my novella and submitted that instead of the novella I’d spent months working on for that particular market… The only silver lining was that I ALSO managed to submit my assignment to my lecturer, and I got an excellent grade on it*.

The thing is that all of these things are surmountable. You can make mistakes, as long as you work to fix those errors – find a better way of tracking your submissions, of organizing all your pieces, triple check what you are sending against what is required. Despite this, you can still make mistakes because we all have bad days, but you want to do the best you can as much as possible.

Many markets are actually pretty forgiving (the time I forgot to attach a story, they let me know and I was able to send it in), and I think most places can tell the difference between when you’ve simply missed something in the guidelines and when you’re blatantly disregarding them.

We’re all only human right?

Get out from under that rock, tell your friends to console you, not kill you, and then get back to work.

*I’ve made a deal with myself never to go in for deadlines that occur at similar dates as assignments to prevent that from happening again!

life

Juggling

Most days I wear many hats – mother, wife, teacher, writer, editor, student, crit partner, house cleaner. The list could go on, but I think you get the point.

On the majority of days I get quite a kick out of juggling so many things. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than making a plan and having it all unfold beautifully, although I’m also quite fond of the days where things don’t go to plan and I have to make back up plans on the fly to fit everything in. That can be incredibly satisfying.

But there are so many variables in my life that some days even trying to formulate a plan to begin with feels like a joke, and I have to laugh hysterically at my attempts to control the chaos. Depending on my mood, which is pretty variable in itself, I crave or cower from that chaos. Some days, I drop a ball. Some days they are all over the place, flying wildly, my limbs tangling as I try to keep everything in the air. And other days I drop them all.

And that’s okay. That’s really just life. As long as the next day I can get back up, pick up even one of those balls I’m trying to juggle and toss it back up, well then I’m doing just fine 🙂

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Iron Sands

WP_000514We went to the beach today and it provided me with the perfect inspiration for this blog post.

The iron sand of the west coast of New Zealand is something I love and often admire. I know lots of people find it ‘dark’ and ‘dull’, and it’s true, you can totally burn your feet on it in the middle of summer.

Some people from countries where there is no black sand think it’s ugly – and sure, on a cloudy day it can seem all a bit bleak, but to me that is part of it’s beauty. It’s wild and windy down there sometimes, but there is nothing like a brisk walk by the sea to whip away the negative emotions, strip back the unimportant things and make you feel alive.

WP_000518WP_000521To the right is a photo of the sky, taken on wet sand – you can see the clouds, the sun peeking through a gap in those clouds. I love the way that this sand relfects things, you can get really true colours, mirror-like representations. I just wish I had a decent camera so I could display it better for you. That said, I’m not sure a photo could ever capture the essence of a west coast beach.

I snapped this one on the left too, because these rocks make me think of Jupiter, and that’s pretty awesome 🙂

What kind of sand do you have? I’ve been to yellow sand beaches, but I just haven’t fallen for them in the same way as other people. I’ll always have a fondness for black sand.

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Holy smokes I’m tired

Gosh, this month has been a busy one already! Though I think the fact that this past weekend daylight savings ended is a huge contributing factor to my tiredness. Today I have been up since 330am, and it was a busy one! Last night of Brownies for the term (thank goodness!). I am very much looking forward to having the next three Wednesdays to myself, and hitting the library for some solid writing time.

I hope you’re Wednesday has been a good one, and I wish I had something more interesting to say but I need a nap.

I’ll leave this cute kitty pic here for you.

life

I’d like to thank…

The letter F has got to be for friends and family, because without them I couldn’t do all the things I do. My husband supports me endlessly, always encouraging, always confident that I’ll find success. My three precious girls give me all the love and adoration I could need, they challenge me to be a better person, comfort me when the world is an unfriendly place. The family I grew up in is still as supportive and wonderful as ever, and I’ve been lucky enough to add an excellent step-father, step mother (and brothers) and a great bunch of inlaws to the mix.

And my friends? Well, they are pretty much made of awesome. They range from writers to non-writers, to new and old (I’ve known my longest friend since we were about 2 – each knew the other only as ‘the girl at the beach’), but they are all wonderful, quirky, intelligent folk who make my world a better place.

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writing

E for Exploration

One of the things I love most about being a writer is the endless possibilities it presents – not only to explore our inner selves but also the opportunity it gives us to explore the unknown, the fantastical, the magical, the untouchable.

All writers have heard the old saying ‘write what you know’, and while I think this is good advice to newer writers, I also think it can be taken too literally. I mean, we all know what it is to yearn for something – a person, a job, a toy. Most of  us have experienced love, shame, anger, we’re all human (at least I assume you are if you’re reading this – hello to any super intelligent animals and alien beings!). We can extend that range of human emotions to imagine ourselves in almost any position; and this is what it means to me to write what I know.

Because, quite frankly, I’m far more interested in writing about places and happenings that I don’t know, than ones that I do. Putting all those human emotions to the test in situations I’ll never encounter really appeals.

Part of the beauty of writing speculative fiction is that you can ask any question, broach any topic and explore any world you could possibly imagine – and the flipside is that there are writers who can imagine worlds you can’t, and you then get to explore those in your reading. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Exploration and escapism go hand in hand for me, both as a writer and a reader. Always has, always will.