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, Characters, Kotahi Bay

N is for Noah

NOahYesterday we met Melody, and today it’s time for Noah’s turn – he’s the male lead and love interest in The Way the Sky Curves. Noah moved to the Bay a couple of years back and settled in as the local tattoo artist where he took a wayward Jake under his wing, and found his place in the town. He’s not always been the best of men, but he’s worked hard to get to where he is, and he’s happy. As far as he can tell, he’s got everything he needs.

And then he meets Melody.

He scanned the bus, his eyes latching onto a pretty young thing with dark blonde hair about halfway back. The seat beside her was empty, her crossed arms and restless green eyes no doubt deterring anyone from sitting there. Anyone but him. He made his way down the aisle and carefully slotted his duffle bag into the overhead storage; his load was fragile, but perhaps not as volatile as the girl now sitting beneath it.

Noah is one of the good guys, and I love him to bits. He could be likened to Jason Momoa, though his skin is a bit darker from his Maori heritage.

A-Z challenge, Characters, Kotahi Bay, The Way the Sky Curves

M is for Melody

Meet Melody. Sister of Jake. Female lead of The Way the Sky Curves. This picture was howMelody I imagined her when I first started writing, though she has morphed a bit and changed along the way. When I first found her, she was reminiscing about her home and the way it made her feel, she was a little lost, a little broken. A little sharp at times – which is all exacerbated when she returns home to the Bay.

The wind used to love me. It used to twist its fingers through my hair and kiss my cheek. It used to wrap around my body and respond to my whims. But here in this city, within the confines of this barren concrete cage, I cannot hear it sing.

Melody is… Well, I think you’re either going to love her, or you’re not. I feel quite protective of her, which is funny considering she’s a character in my head and not even out in the world yet, but she had a rough start and I feel for her. I hope you love her, because we all deserve a little love, a second chance, the opportunity to do better and learn from our mistakes. And Melody has made plenty of them. But she’s trying. Really, she is.

A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, writing

H is for Home

dorothyHome is where the heart is. Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where one starts from. There are a lot of quotes and sayings about home – there are a lot of thoughts and feelings about the matter as well.

Kotahi Bay is home to a lot of different people, some who were born into the Bay – Melody for instance runs away to the city, but finds herself running back to the Bay, when things go to hell. Noah on the other hand is not a native to Kotahi Bay, but he finds himself there and eager to do what he can to help protect it.

Which is one of the overarching themes of the series. What makes a place feel like home, and what barriers are in place that prevent other people from making that same connection? What changes a place from being just a town to having that ineffable quality of feeling like ‘home’?

How important is your home to you? What would you do to protect it?

You’ll have to read the books in order to find out 😉

A-Z challenge, books, Kotahi Bay, New Zealand

E is for Edgy

The characters that populate Kotahi Bay are a mixed bunch, from all walks of life. They have their unique quirks and traits, and as much as I hate buzz-words, I think that the stories contained within the series probably fall into the realm of ‘edgy’.

What do I mean by edgy? Well, the characters are all definitely adults. There is swearing, and drinking, and sex. There is violence, and unsavory characters. There are a range of topics touched on, such as historic family abuse, murder, addiction, obsession, confusion over your place in the world etc etc. Some of my characters do some pretty vicious things, though for very good reasons. Moana in particular is one scary lady, but I love her. I love all of them, really.

Each book has a slightly different feel to it, which I hope embodies some of the essence of the gods and magics they involve. Some of them are darker than others, some are lighter. But, I hope you enjoy them all!

life, reading, writing

Winter is coming

GoT-LogoWe’ve had the heater on a bit over the last few days. Winter is on it’s way and the temperatures are lower than pleasant. It feels like Autumn was fleeting; many trees are yet to drop their leaves and yet there is fresh snow on the mountain.

Of course, ‘winter is coming’ has another connotation as well, and it’s with a great sense of achievement that I can finally say I am all caught up on Game of Thrones!! Hubby and I have spent the last 6 weeks catching up – right from mid season one, where he left off watching it the first time around. That’s something like 30 hours of GoT, in less than two months.

It’s been many years since I read the books (and I can’t quite remember where in the series I am up to), but I remember lots of key moments and it has been awesome watching the characters come to life on the screen. I think season three was my favourite so far, and I adored Jamie and Brienne’s banter most of all, coming in just ahead of the Hound and Arya.

I really admire G.R.R. Martin his ability to portray a character as unlikable or ‘bad’, and then find ways to redeem them or show other sides of them which make you actually like them. There are very few evil characters (Joffrey being the primary one!), and I love the complexity and range of characters presented. Very much looking forward to watching them as they come out now, and not having to worry about spoilers!

Do you have a favourite character or pairing? Anything in particular that sticks with you?


An abundance of M’s

Today I’ve been trawling through every file on my computer, Dropbox and Google drive in an attempt to find  something I started writing 3+ years ago. I remembered that it had been an attempt to write something with more of an ‘action’ feel to it, and that it began as an exercise in a creativity workshop thing I was doing just prior to Natalie’s birth – I’d been too tired, too scared, too anxious about trying to write something novel length since Lauren was born, and this particular piece, stemming from a dream I’d had, was a perfect way to cautiously approach a novel.

Of course, I never finished it, because life with a newborn, a 20 month, and a 5yr old is actually kind of insane.

But I thought about it today as I’m in a weird place in life right now – I have some spare time, but I have to start work on another assignment really soon, I have no pressing deadlines hanging over me (for uni, or anything else), and I want to write, but have nothing in progress as such. I’ve finished the drafts of three novellas this year, but I don’t have the time right now to revise any of those, and there isn’t much point in stressing myself out about that right now because I don’t plan on releasing those until late next year…

So naturally my brain went back to that other time when I was in limbo, waiting, and wanting something to play with. And this novel was the thing.

It has zombie babies, and regular zombies too. I’m on a bit of a kick right now and a friend recently said to me ‘you should write your own zombie novel’, so it was inevitable that my brain latched on that old idea.

I never titled this piece, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main characters names, so I went digging through every forgotten file, every ‘untitled’ document I could find.

And I didn’t find the story initially*. What I did find was that I have a ridiculous tendency to give my female leads names that begin with M. Overwhelmingly so. I had no idea!

Madea is the MC in Sun-Touched, and then we have Melanie from Surplus to Requirements, there is Melody in The Way the Sky Curves, and Moana in Shell and Bone. And then we have Meredith, Marama, Meagin, Megan, Marie, and Melissa from various short stories. And finally, Matilda in the Zombie Baby novel. Yes, I’m just going to call it the zombie baby novel for now. I literally have no idea where the story is going, though I’m sure I’ll have a blast finding out.

Not ALL my novels have M’s in the lead – Delaney is in charge in Saving Tomorrow**, and Lyssa is the female lead in Chasing Ascension… Gah! That might be it? Lord help me. I have an obsession with M names. Someone stage an intervention, right now. I’ll have to go out of my way to pick ANY other letter of the alphabet the next time I start a novel. Well, Samantha is the lead in my next novel, so at least she’ll kind of balance things out…

Save me?

Next time I start something new, I think I’ll put it to you to choose the letter the name begins with, because I need help. Obviously.

*I did find the first couple of chapters, thank goodness, but only because I’d emailed them to Anthony and I hadn’t deleted that email. I’m so pleased that my inbox seems to hold EVERYTHING from FOREVER ago. Apparently sending your stories to other people is the best back up method after all!

** It appears I might also have a thing for titles that begin with S… 




How not to info dump when you have a really cool idea and just want to make sure that everyone knows all about it

So I started working more seriously on this new story idea yesterday, I’d spent time thinking about it the night before, mulling over my main character and the world in which the story is set. It hit me that I didn’t have a story at all. I had an awesome character who is completely physically/mentally/emotionally different from anyone I’ve ever written before, born into a very strange situation and raised to be something which certainly doesn’t exist.

I have a COOL idea, but it’s not a story. I have a character, a setting, and a nicely developed back story. But I have no plot, and no conflict to explore.

Drat, don’t you hate it when that happens?

Thankfully, the really wonderful thing about creating awesome stuff to write about is that eventually you can get to the heart of where the story is. The tricky part is how to do that without doing massive amounts of info dumping about your very cool ideas into your story. It’s hard not to want to, right? When you actually have all those details hashed out and everything developed, it’s very tempting to make sure your reader knows all about it.

This however, is rarely a good idea. Dropping bits of info into your story is fine, but you have to get past that initial excitement in order to do so effectively and there are a few ways I’ve discovered of doing that.

Firstly, I like to get to know my characters a little. I give the pen over and let them come through and tell me everything and anything they want to. I often find out how little I actually knew when I do this, and sometimes it can be a little scary to see what comes out. I’ll show you what I mean with the start of what my intriguing new character had to say:

My name is Delaney Jones.

We’re all Jones’ here, because that is the name of our Father. While we all had other fathers, and other mothers, he is the one who created us, though those other mothers and fathers will never know this.

Curious! I found out a bunch of other things, and managed to get out heaps of back story in the writing that followed. I know a lot about Delaney and what makes her tick, I also know that she has many holes in her and THAT my friend, is where the story lies.

For me, the most interesting kind of conflict arises from within your main character. Sure things might be happening out in the world that are interesting and exciting, but ultimately you will really sell me on a story if I’m curious about the characters internal conflict. After letting Delaney out for a bit, seeing the world through her eyes and learning about her life, questions begin to form in my mind and boy oh boy, there is a treasure trove of potential there for me to plunder.

After you’ve spilled your guts on your character, written all they would allow you to, it’s time to move onto your world. Paint it down in as many words as you need, get it all out there so that only the necessary bits need make it into your story. I know some people are really fond of vast amounts of details, but it’s not good when it bogs down the flow of the story, or when a reader starts switching off. You want them to know enough about the setting to feel like they have a sense of place, but not so much that when you mention the important parts they don’t stand out.

Get all of it out of your system! I think it’s the only sure fire way not to info dump in your story. It can be more tempting in shorts because you have so little space in which to deliver a story, whereas with a novel you’ve got a lot more time to show off your creations. If you have that world built though, you can always tap back into it. It doesn’t have a finite life. You can build on it and work within it forever. You don’t have to show everyone how cool it is with just one story. Besides, if you do your job right, you’ll manage to get the interest across without ever having to dump even one bit of info – it will all be integrated into your story seamlessly.


Veering off course

I’m not making any progress with Chasing Ascension at the moment, to be honest, I can’t even bring myself to read it through so I’m putting it in the ‘too hard for right now’ basket and moving on to something else for the time being (like, the next week or so).

Instead, I’m going to give some attention to a story which has languished for far too long! It needs a new title, a rewrite and polish, but I know exactly how to go about that so it doesn’t feel too daunting. The plan is to have it ready and posted here on the blog for Christmas – free fiction for Christmas, yay!

I’m also going to go through Birth Rights again, as I am considering entering it into a short story competition for Au Contraire. While I’m pretty sure that it won’t make the grade, I also think it’s a wonderful thing to support NZ stuff.

As for other stuff – everything is ticking along nicely.

I’ve succumbed and downloaded/activated the 10 day free trial of Wrath of the Lich King. Hubby and I have both decided that we’re going back to WoW on a casual basis at the end of the trial (hey, if you have ten days free play, why would you pay for it before then?? lol). I’m wasting a lot of time on it at the moment but then it’s just nice to be playing again and I know that my brain wouldn’t be working on the writing stuff at the moment anyways so there is no harm done. Now that I have a plan with the short story stuff I can move ahead with that and find a nice balance between work and play. I need my play, and I haven’t been getting a whole lot of it lately.

Anyways, that’s it from me for now! I’m going to let Chasing Ascension’s world tick over in my mind while I work on these shorts, and hopefully when I get back into it I can move ahead full steam. I’m still really keen on the idea, and the characters, but I really need to resolve the issues before I move ahead and I just don’t have the brain power for that right now. Only three weeks until I get upgraded to ‘second trimester’ and I am hoping that this funk I am in disappears along with the first trimester.



I’m having one of those mornings. Brain. Not. Functioning. Sleep eludes me, though to our credit, I didn’t spend any time on the couch last night and managed to get back to sleep fairly quickly after each of Lauren’s seemingly hourly feeds. Man, the girl can put it away – is there a 5 month growth spurt I forgot about?

Progress continues to be slow, but it’s still progress. I’m just about done with Earth, and I can’t wait to get to the new planet – that’s when the fun really begins! Though I get to introduce a new character soon and he is set to rock Mel’s world, and not in the way she was hoping.

I’mstarting to be unsure about my beginning, though I think it starts where it needs to, and introduces the characters it needs to, drops hints about a few things that will happen later in the novel. Mel needs firming up a little more and I find that this is often my problem when beginning a new novel – I don’t tend to spend hours and hours fleshing out my character, so in the first part of a novel, when I’m getting to know them better than I thought I did, they tend to waver a little between who I thought they would be, and who they really are. It’s easily cleaned up later on, and normally it doesn’t take that long to get them set. Mel is now, but I need to go back and make a few little changes. Line everything I’ve already written up with who I know she is now.

Does that even make sense? I know a lot of people spend loads of time getting to know their characters first. Some people have characters come into their heads fully formed – mine tend to show up, demand some attention and kick my butt into writing before I get the chance to really get to know them. Besides, I love being surprised every now and then, love it when a character does something that’s completely in character for them and yet I didn’t expect.

How do your characters introduce themselves? Or do you go hunting for them?