authors, Awards, june, Uncategorized

Au Contraire 2016

This weekend past I attended my second ever SFF convention. It was a long weekend, full of socializing, sitting in on fascinating panels and discussions, and which for me meant convening my first ever panel (Mythology, with amazing panelists), attending a launch for At the Edge (which has my short story Hope Lies North included), the SJV Awards (where I didn’t win anything), and a closing ceremony (during which I won a prize for having the best-coloured hair – truly impressive, because there were some awesome colours present!).

PhotoGrid_1465124777173I came home sick, but that was expected. It just would have been really nice if I hadn’t begun the weekend sick! lol I had a horrible case of vertigo all weekend, headaches, and a terribly sore tailbone after the first day or so of sitting. Despite the discomfort, I really enjoyed my time away! There were so many great talks, and I got to meet one of my favourite authors – Juliet Marillier. It was almost six years ago that I was geeking out over appearing alongside her in A Foreign Country, so it was really neat to meet her and to find she is just as lovely in person as online.

PhotoGrid_1465511685331I also came home feeling reconnected with the writing community in NZ. To see such a bounty of fantastic authors (who are also fantastic people!), to just hang, to talk story and craft and all the other stuff that goes along with being a writer was really awesome. Pretty much all of my local writing groups collided, and no-one died on impact πŸ˜‰ New connections were made, old ones strengthened. It’s a beautiful thing.

We also got to make an announcement about LexiCon, but it’s secret squirrel for now! Keep an eye out next week for that one. We’re almost finished lining up our guests of honour and after the weekend we have an abundance of panels to pick from. It finally feels like a real living thing. We all wanted to give Au Contraire it’s time to shine, and it did. It was a great weekend. Now it’s our turn πŸ™‚

Special thanks to all my writing crew for making it the weekend it was. You know who you are!! ❀ MISS YOU!!!

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life

And, I’m done

IMG_20141011_180820688_HDRAt 5.40pm last night I handed in the final assignment of my Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling) – emphasis on the counselling. I did zero guidance papers, and the only ‘education’ component was a couple of research papers. Not that it really matters. What does is that I am finished!!!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And I couldn’t have done it without you. So, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you. To all of you. The folks who read here, everyone on twitter who has been there when I needed a nudge, my friends and family, my classmates, my husband and kids especially. I’ve been insufferable at times, forgetful of things, neglectful of my blog, sinking to great lows when assignments were due. The volume of panic attacks and level of anxiety over this year has been more extreme than in any recent years I can remember, so that support was vital for me. When I wanted to quit, when I thought I couldn’t do this, someone (often more than one) popped up to remind me I could.

Here’s to you. And me. And awesomeness.

Cheers!

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.

WP_000496

authors, writing

SJV Shortlist announced!

The shortlist for this years Sir Julius Vogel Awards has been released (see here). There are so many awesome writers on that list that I know personally, and I think for the first time ever I’ve read over half of the fiction on there. If you’re looking for good kiwi speculative fiction, that list is a great starting point πŸ™‚

Attending the awards last year was a real highlight for me. Getting to cheer people as they went up to the stage, and enjoying some wine and laughter with new and old friends.

I know from experience that it’s a real thrill to be nominated, and an even bigger one to actually win an award. The SJV that Andi and I won for our work on Tales for Canterbury still takes pride of place in my room. Hopefully one day I’ll make the list for something of my own – I am thrilled that this year Andi has her wonderful novella This Other World (which can be found in the Winter Well anthology from Crossed Genres) on the list!! I remember reading the story for critique and telling her she’d get into the finals with it.

I’m in some ways pleased that I won’t be at Con this year and have the responsibility of voting as there is more than one category where I’d be hard pressed to pick just one. So congrats to everyone who made it onto the list, and good luck!! Looking forward to seeing how the people vote later in April.

 

writing

MyWriteClub

There are many writing tools out there that are handy, but probably the one that I’m using the most is the beta of MyWriteClub.

The wonderful husband, of a wonderful writer friend created it after seeing a need in the community, and it’s really quite nifty. There are a good range of goal types to select, and an option to write in your own as well if you have a different thing you want to track. I signed up for the beta in early January, and have roped several friends into signing up as well – why not check it out?

There are still things being implemented, but so far it’s proven to be an excellent tracking tool, and a great way to keep up to date with what others are working on. It emails you when friends have updated goals so that you can cheer them on, and vice versa (or not, if you don’t want to get a bunch of emails). You can track as many goals as you want with various end points, and you can archive your goals when complete.

I love it πŸ™‚

And if you want to add me, you can find me here.

life, writing

2013 in review

December is all but over, and as I rush to fit in the last few things I wanted to get done, and start planning ahead for the new year, it’s as good a time as any to stop and reflect on the year that was.

2013 was okay, looking back. It was a really hard year for me in a lot of ways – I admitted I was depressed, had a really hard year of study, struggled a lot with finding balance and worked on continuing to find my feet with home schooling.

There were also some good parts too – I actually got really good grades for those papers, despite not enjoying them at all, I managed to get two short stories published even though that wasn’t on my goal list for the year. I even had my baby teeth necklace make it’s way onto the cover of a book! (Yeah, I think that was my highlight lol). I attended Au Contraire and met a huge number of authors I’d previously only known online, which was amazing and inspiring and wonderful, and even managed a flying day trip to ‘retreat’ with some other writer friends. And on top of all that, I’ve made some super fantastic new writer friends, and strengthened other friendships as well.

Now that I look back on all of that, it’s actually been a kick ass year for being a writer. I owe so much to the wonderful people who are in this with me. You’re not just ‘writer friends’, your friends, and I couldn’t do this without you.

So how did I go on my original goals for 2013? It was going to be a year of ‘finishing”, and looking back, it feels more like they happened last year, but possibly because I got a couple things done really quickly. I read Perdido Street Station before the end of Jan, and finished The Artists WayΒ before February was through. I didn’t manage to get onto Writing the Other though, mostly due to the fact that once study started, there never seemed enough time to really throw myself into the book.

Aside from those, I wanted to finish Sun-Touched and submit it, which I will be doing before the year ends, as well as finish The Way the Sky Curves (previously known as Shell and Bone, which is now the title of book two), and submit that as well. I’m not going to swing that this year, but I’m going to get that done before I launch into my last year of study.

I’m feeling a lot better about the year now πŸ˜€ It might have been hard, but there was a lot of awesome in there and I’m going to be heading into 2014 with those in mind. Onwards!

Uncategorized

Thank heavens for the internet!

Recently, I’ve been casting aside my… hmm – inhibitions seems like the wrong word, but something along those lines – my self consciousness? and have been making the most of the internet and its glorious ability to connect you with others.

Skype and G+ Hangouts are becoming second nature to me, and I LOVE it. The webcam is getting more use than ever before, and yesterday I purchased a new headset to help me on my way.

See, my writers group has just jumped into this new way of communicating. We had our first official ‘hangout’ yesterday morning, and aside from a few technical difficulties, it was really cool to be able to see and hear them while we talked writing and critiques. I like watching peoples faces as they listen, seeing their expression as they speak. It’s awesome.

The world seems like a much smaller place now. Of course, last weekend I trialed it with M to make sure that everything was working, Anna joined us and that was a lot of fun too – gave us some insights into the others lives, with kids running rampant in the background and life carrying on around us. I felt really boosted, knowing that despite the physical distance between us, we could still be close. Despite the fact that I may never meet some of these people in person, I could still know them and get a feel for the whole of them and their lives.

And it lessens the craziness of being a writer, having this easy contact with other people who spend hours and hours living in other worlds, killing off characters, creating conflict, exploring love interests and everything else that happens when you are trying to bring fiction to life on the page.

We are not alone, or at least, we don’t have to be. The internet is a wonderful thing.

Uncategorized

Calling Time-Out on Facebook

Recently I stopped logging into Facebook. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for awhile now but didn’t feel like I could make that step into actually doing something about it until the end of last week.

I like to see what everyone is up to. I love seeing pics of family and friends. I don’t post many status updates, but when I do, it’s often fun and I like hearing what people have to say.

The problem is that things happen on Facebook that suck my energy. In some ways I guess there is TOO much information. Too many posts there to hook me into thinking about things that are probably don’t need to be worrying about. And I, for one, am totally over having my energy diverted into such activities.

So, I’m off it for awhile, until I figure out what I want to do with it. I know that other people use it without getting caught up like I do, so the problem lies with the way I am using it, not the website. I’m hoping that this, along with other small changes, will help give me back some more mental space for writing – because SURELY not clicking onto Facebook twenty times a day has got to free up some time. The world will keep going without me knowing what everyone else is up to from one minute to the next.

At least, I think so… πŸ˜‰

Uncategorized

Liebster Blog Award

The lovely Jennifer Neri named me as an award winner just the other day (Thanks, Jennifer!). She is a fellow writer-mum, and our youngest are only a few months apart, so I had the pleasure of following a similar path to her in 2010 when we had our babies – it was great to know someone else going through the same things at roughly the same times.

Anyway, here are the rules:

Upon receiving your Liebster award, you should:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
5. Let them know they have been chosen, by leaving a comment at their blog.

So, without further ado – I’m going to introduce the members of my official writers group! These folks are some of my staples in the writing world, in alphabetical order:

1) Anna Caro is someone who I have been staff with at a couple of writers orgs now, she’s a writer, a student, has a job and is passionate about many things – I really admire her drive, and her conviction to stand up for her beliefs. She is dedicated and hard working, in everything she does. This year she is focusing on finishing a novel.

2) Kerryn Angell is the founder of kiwiwriters.org and I’ve known her for five years now. She has been working steadily at her writing, and launched her new look blog last year. She is working on revising the novel she wrote last year, and vanquishing her editing demons.

3) Leigh K Hunt is possibly the newest edition to my writers crew, but trying to remember my writers life before she showed up is pretty difficult as we trade emails on a daily basis. This year she is joining in our big challenge, as well as having her first baby in the near future! Yay!

4) Merrilee Faber is an awesome writer, and at the core of my writing crew. She’s been one of the best writing buddies I could ever ask for, and is the instigator of Project 2012: From first draft to submission. You should totally check out her blog because there is a lot of fabulous info on there.

5) Tama Wise is the only male in my official writers group, but he does just fine. He has been the creator of many whacky writing games, which I am always drawn into, and I’ve really enjoyed writing alongside him for the last few years. He has his first novel coming out in March this year, and I may be more excited about it than he is πŸ˜‰ He is the first of our official group to get a novel published, but I don’t think he’ll be the last!

There are many other awesome writers out there who are part of my circle, all of them unique and wonderful in their own way. So even though I’m limited to five, I want to give a shout out to everyone else – love you all!

Uncategorized

Writing Alongside

A few days ago I made a deal with a friend. We both wanted to make some solid progress on our WiPs before Christmas, but were struggling to find momentum – what with the festive season well upon us, kids finishing up at school and everyone seemingly getting into rest and relaxation mode, it’s hard work finding time to write.

And yet, important.

So we made this deal. I wanted to double my current word count (which would give me 20,000 words by Christmas), and she wanted to write a massive 40,000 (or 30,000). They are attainable goals for each of us, it’s just a matter of sitting down and making the time.

I can barely read my own handwriting...

Since then I have actually been getting my writing done. I’m sitting at 13,000 words now, and at this pace I will easily make the 20,000 mark. I’m connected to my novel again (now that I’ve pushed past the slump of 10,000 words) and so very eager to keep writing. I mean, I even cracked out my pen and notebook during the coffee break of my course the other night so that I could scratch out a scene in the ten spare minutes I had – 384 words that I wouldn’t normally have written.

It struck me that I was feeling motivated, accountable. I was seeking out time to write when before I was just hoping that some would come along and present itself to me. It’s shown me that in fact I DO have the time, I just haven’t been choosing to manage it properly – which brings me to the title of this post and the concept of ‘writing alongside’.

This friend of mine isn’t online all day (neither am I). We’re not constantly word warring, or trading stats about where we’re at. But the deal I made with her, and knowing that she’s out there in the world trying to get her own words down on the page, motivates me to push myself to try harder.

And I guess this is why writing groups are so fabulous. Why NaNoWriMo can be an amazing experience – knowledge that other people are working towards their goals at the same time that you are is a huge boost. I guess it’s also why Tama and his crazy writing games have always helped me stay on track, why I like to be in contact with people who are working towards similar goals over similar time frames, and why ultimately, I think that next year is going to be a huge success for me, and my writing.

I don’t need to be in direct writing contact, but I do benefit from knowing that I’m writing alongside others. I benefit from communicating with those at similar stages – so we can commiserate about the things that aren’t working, and rejoice in the things that are, we can celebrate achievements and help keep each other on track.

Next year I am going to be surrounded by other people who are facing the same obstacles – my regular writing group, many of whom are jumping on board with Merrilee and her plan to write a new novel and edit another over 2012.Β I will have writer friends who are also studying while trying to maintain their writing, and others who are juggling the writing life with parenting. I kind of feel like I can’t go wrong with that level of support, and all of these other individuals writing alongside me.

The internet is such a wonderful resource – there are SO many ways to connect to writers from all over the world – so make the most of it. Reach out, find others who are on this journey, who share common challenges with you, or who you can really connect with. Yes, writing is a solitary business, but no-one can flourish if they remain shut away in a room by themselves. Do yourself, and your writing, a favour and find someone to write alongside with – I guess you could say that is my Christmas wish for you, because it’s the best gift my writer friends have given me.