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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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.

publishing

Mon- Ah, Wednesday round up!

Apparently I am now that person who posts sporadically and can’t even remember when Monday is. Maybe it’s just that things have been so busy and I have SO many balls in the air right now that I just can’t keep track of where I am. The list is large.

It feels a little ridiculous actually, that I am feeling this stress. The NZ Independent Book Festival isn’t until the first weekend of October – AGES away – and yet in order to make sure I have print books for it, I need to be organized way in advance of that (or spend a fortune getting books here with faster shipping). I’m opting for being organized. I am on track (which never ceases to amaze me), and yet there is this fear that the books won’t be here on time. I hope that after I have done this once, I will feel a little less anxious about the whole thing.

Which brings me to the status updates. I’m just going to list things, because there are a few!!

20150803_203741Burn is just about ready to order. The print proof arrived with a friend and it looks beautiful ❤ Can’t wait to get my hands on copies.

Sun-Touched is FINISHED. I literally just need to write the blurb, format the thing and get the cover sorted and then I’ll pick a release date. YAY!

I now have a spiffy new imprint name, and a gorgeous logo to go with it (designed by an amazing friend), which I will unveil in the very near future.

I have banners and stuff being designed by the eternally wonderful Kate over at Dwell Design and Press, and they are beautiful!

I finished all the editing and proofing jobs in my queue! This has never happened before. I am enjoying a few days off, as there was a lull in my personal workload as well. I’ll have my next job incoming on Friday and I am (strangely) looking forward to getting to work on a new project. I will also really like getting paid as it means I can order the next lot of books 🙂

Which reminds me, the print formatting for The Way the Sky Curves is also nearing completion! I’m just waiting on that cover as well (working Kate VERY hard right now, poor thing. I owe her a nice bottle of wine or something after this).

It’s ALL on right now. I can barely keep track of what needs doing, but I *think* I’m managing to get everything done. I just hope something doesn’t smack me upside the head that I’ve failed to think of… And, well, with different projects coming to the end of various stages, it is pretty exciting in general 🙂

monday check in, writing

Monday – and I’m done

Well. Today is fairly monumental.

I am officially finished edits on Sun-Touched, and it is off with my proofreader. I’m not even sure how to feel. It’s been such a long time coming and now I am here. At the place where it’s just the final touches – blurb, acknowledgements, dedication and formatting. Oh, and the cover. Which is proving to be more complicated than we thought it would, naturally 😉

Anyway, I’ve been fairly quiet this past few weeks. Littlest was vomiting the other week, and then school went back and things kicked into gear again. We spent the weekend at a marae, and visiting some of my old haunts which was really nice, if a little sad at times. My primary school, which I adored so much, has been completely demolished. The land is there. The trees remain. But all the buildings have been removed, the tennis courts pulled up, and the pool taken out as well. It was so strange to see it that way. Ah well, I will always have my fond memories, and I got to share my favourite climbing tree with my children, which was very special.

PhotoGrid_1437979590844The time off was lovely, and much needed. I enjoyed hanging out with my homeschooling tribe, enjoyed the communal living, the laughs, the tears, the ease of friends and the comfort of knowing we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Knowing there is a safety net for any one of us when needed is pretty awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

There was a lot of colouring, and eating – we even had an epic hangi, nom nom – gathering around a fire, and a really great planning meeting. I’ve returned feeling more whole, if more aware of how lonely and isolating modern life can be at times. It is strange to only have our family here in the house.

So what now? Well, my plans have changed ever so slightly, and I still have work to do. But I am hopeful to be ordering the proof copy of Burn tomorrow (knock on wood), and then Sun-Touched won’t be too far behind. Exciting times! Print! Omg!

Uncategorized

Monday + Monday = double catch up!

IMG_20150627_152232946_HDRSo I totally missed last weeks post – I had every intention of doing one, even made comments to several people over the week that it would be coming. Yeah, nah. It didn’t eventuate. You see, I went away for the weekend sans children with some other mums and it was lovely. We talked and played games, walked on the beach, ate excellent food (in peace!), did what we wanted when we wanted to, spent many hours sea-gazing. It was lovely, and I wasn’t really ready to snap back into work mode afterwards. So I didn’t.

IMG_20150627_152346901_HDRIt’s becoming increasingly obvious to me how important down time is. I know that might sound a bit silly – I have spent a lot of time recently downsizing responsibilities and streamlining my work flow – but I am almost never ‘off duty’. I always have several things on the go. I always know what is next in my queue, and I hardly ever give myself time off everything. On Sunday morning I stayed in bed and read a book from start to finish. I don’t remember the last time I did that. In fact, I barely have time to read lately.

So, while I have already made changes, I know now that I have to make more. I need to sort out my priorities and cull the things that are no longer working for me. And I’m good with that.

IMG_20150627_150717465_HDRWhat else has been going on? I’ve started working on my next proofing job (which is going to take me a gazillion years! Who writes books this long, Anthony?!), and I have been wrangling with a short story that I want to submit to an anthology call. This story has been playing havoc with me for weeks. I first got the inklings of it on the 3rd of May. I know this because we were driving to Auckland and I was tired and dozing in and out while we traveled through the Gorge. The landscape is amazing and really influenced my thoughts. I made a lot of notes. A. Lot.

IMG_20150627_145739007I’ve continued to make a lot of notes. I’ve started the piece four times now. I’ve tried it in different tenses and points of view. I’ve tweaked and twisted it, but it’s never felt quite right. It’s incredibly frustrating and because it IS so challenging, I have to finish it. It’s a puzzle. The weekend I was away I realized it was actually two puzzles, and I was trying to form one cohesive puzzle with all the pieces, so I removed some until I thought I just had one puzzle. Yesterday I realized it’s one puzzle but I have some extra pieces in there and so now I think I have excised all the extras, the bits that aren’t this story, and fingers crossed I can get the draft knocked out and to my crit group for the weekend.

Aside from this, my youngesIMG_20150629_164653861_HDRt turned five last Monday. FIVE?!?! How did that happen? I can’t quite believe it. She’s such a bright wee soul, and amazes me all the time. All she wanted was to go up the mountain to the snow, but the weather wasn’t good for it, so she went swimming in the morning with friends, and then on to Chipmunks, and then shopping for a present with her Nana! Busy day, happy girl 🙂

So, that’s me. I’ve still got a lot to do, but am going to work on simplifying things some more and working towards even better life/work balance. It’s hard, as a writer, there are stories everywhere and I can’t stop them from playing in my head – what I can do, is find ways to give myself more dream time, more reading time, more down time between launching into something new. I’m even thinking of giving myself a day off every week. WHAT????? Crazy talk.

.

Sun-Touched

And I would have met my deadline if it wasn’t for that pesky flu!

I have just emailed Sun-Touched to my editor…

I can’t believe I’m finished this round of edits. And only two days late – though I have a VERY good reason for that. I was knocked down by the flu on Monday and am still recovering. Tuesday and Wednesday found me bedridden, struggling with the most ridiculous head pain (no amount of painkillers worked to dull it). Thankfully by Thursday I was well enough to get back to work, and today, I finished.

I take solace in the fact that had I not gotten sick, I would have finished on deadline. It gives me hope that I’m getting better at this whole setting achievable, realistic goals.

And now I get to do something else!!!! WOOOHOOO!!!!!

life, monday check in, writing

Monday, Monday

Well, after two weeks of being on track and being awesome, I kind of hit my first big stumbling block. I hit the first new scene write in Sun-Touched, blanked majorly despite having a plan, procrastinated like the pro I am, and ended up doing a whole lot more socializing than anything else.

And that’s okay. Not every week can be a good week. And I’m allowed to have the occasional week where I am slightly less awesome than normal.

I spent a long time trying to get past my block, which, when broken down was really just nerves. I wrote Sun-Touched years ago now, I’m not quite the same writer as I was then (this is a good thing! I try to always be improving). Because we were in and out all week, and the kids were sick etc, I decided to leave it until Sunday when I knew I’d have a couple of hours at the library. I forced myself to knuckle down, and belted out the new scene as well as all the adjustments necessary because of it.

Technically, I am 16 chapters in. Which, technically, is keeping to the ‘five chapters a week’ thing. But I split a few, added this new one, moved some things around a little. I am not sure how many chapters there are going to be by the time I finish, and while 16/28 sounds like I am well over halfway, the page count tells a different story. I’m sitting at 80/185 as at last editing stint (not including however many pages the new scene would have added because I wrote that directly into Scriv instead of Word). So, the new measure is page count, and that might grow too – I’m trying not to stress about those numbers because while they are a good measure of whether I am going to make my deadline or not, they can’t factor in the last minute freak out buzz that will hit me in the next 7-10 days.

You see, I have always been a last minuter. I LOVE/Loathe crunch time. I’m a really great procrastinator and while last year I managed to change my way to some extent, it’s something I am still working on. This whole ‘chip away at things’ business is kind of weird for me. I can see that it’s going to work better, but… yeah. I am still adjusting.

Anyway, I have full intentions of being back on track by the end of the week. This book rocks, and I’m so excited about bringing it to you (even though I am terrified of sending it to my copy-editor because she I am sure she’s going to tell me things I don’t want to hear! lol). We’re working on some mock ups of the cover, which is also pretty exciting. And *squee* in just a few months I’ll have some print copies in hand!!

Burn, February, in the spirit, Kotahi Bay, Sun-Touched, The Way the Sky Curves

All the things

There are so many stories running through my head. So many. Not just mine, but all the stories by authors I have been editing recently as well – a huge range: contemporary, thriller, mystery, MG, science fiction. In fact, I’ve taken about a week off from editing in general just to try and dull the clatter in my brain.

BURN_Final E-cover_JC HART
Sick of seeing it yet?? I don’t think I ever will be!

Well, editing other than my own, anyway.

Final edits on Burn are now complete and the MS is off with the proofreader. I’m both nervous and excited to bring it to the world – as pure fantasy, it’s quite different to In The Spirit. There is none of the lightness and laughter that my first release had. The characters are completely different, and where Alyssa is young, a bit of a slob and maybe a tad too fond of wine, Carmel is old and weary, and never had any kind of freedom or joy in her youth. I worry that readers of one won’t like the other, but then I have to remind myself that books are allowed to have different readers, and I can trust people to read blurbs and samples if they aren’t sure. It’s not my job to stress out about it, only my job to make sure I’m telling the best stories I can – regardless of the genre.

I’ve headed straight into what will hopefully be my last major revisions on The Way The Sky Curves. I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve just loaded Shell and Bone onto my Kindle so I can start reading through and making notes. I can’t believe I am THREE books deep in this series already, with just two left to write. It’s actually kind of bizarre. I’m going to be starting planning on the last two very soon – I know how it’s all going to end though!!! I’ve never seen that end picture until recently and I can’t wait to write it!

Alongside all of this are thoughts of the other book I want to publish this year. Sun-Touched is one of my favourites, and will be the first full length novel I bring out. It’s different again from the world of Kotahi Bay, and Burn. Science fiction set on a relatively newly colonized planet. I am itching to get back to Madea and do my final edits on that book. Oh, it’s going to be so good!

So, there are all the things going on right now. I’m going to need to find some new tactics for keeping the noise in my head under control. Maybe not editing four books back to back is a good idea, just for starters 😉

How is Feb treating you?

Burn, cover reveal, Fantasy, publishing, release

Burn – Cover Reveal

So, next month I’m releasing my second novella!

Burn was originally written a few years ago for a specific market, but due to assignment stress I somehow managed to submit my assignment instead of the novella (thankfully, I ALSO submitted my assignment to my lecturer lol)… It is my grandest stuff up as a writer to date. It gutted me at the time, though I can definitely see the humour in it now 😉

Anyway, it’s a story I love, and I’m super excited to get it out into the world. I know some will say it’s a strange move to publish something so different to my first release, but I love writing in a range of genres, and I want my books to reflect that.

BURN_Final E-cover_JC HART

No parent should outlive their children.  But what if you do?  What if your son’s dying wish is to be burnt in the manner of his people — a people he was taken from as a child?  

Carmel must gather her orphaned grandson and her son’s corpse, and ease her aching bones into the long walk that takes her where she needs to be.  The footsteps of the past nag at her heels as she journeys to once again look upon the face of the Goddess.

editing, Goodreads, January, publishing, reading, writing

Mid-January update

How is it already the middle of January??? And how has it taken me three days to get around to writing this post? lol

2015 has started out well. So far I have already finished writing the first draft of Alyssa’s novel, finished a round of edits on my next release (more on that later), edited one novel for someone else, and am partway through editing another. Critiqued yet another novel, read several books, spent a lot of time lying on the deck in the sun (reading), swimming in rivers, and hanging out with the kids.

Pretty epic, really.

Despite how busy all of that sounds, I actually feel fairly relaxed. The ‘reading on the deck in the sun’ is a big part of this. I can’t remember the last year when I had time to do this. To just relax and unwind. To disappear into a book – not critique it, not edit it, just enjoy the story. Goodreads would suggest it was 2011, because I read over 100 books that year, and since then it’s been pretty dismal. I’m very much looking forward to reading a lot more books in the months to come. I feel like I’m on holiday, and this is all basically because I’m not studying any more. I knew it was stressing me out, but I had no idea just how much!

Thank goodness I am done with that 😉

I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up in the near future, but will save that for another post! For now, I am off for a bush walk in the rain with a friend.