A-Z challenge, books, Kotahi Bay, writing

F is for Family

Family is really important to me, so it’s no surprise really that family plays a big role in the Kotahi Bay series – and not just your typical run of the mill mum-dad-kids families either. I feel like these days diversity is increasingly important, and diversity in families should be included. Our society is one of many broken homes, adoptions, foster children, families that are not related by blood but have chosen to be families, parents of the same gender, grandparents being primary caregivers etc. There are so many combinations!

We see a range of these in my books, some functional, others not so much. I think the take away lesson though is that while some families are ones we’re born into (and may be awesome, or not so much, hell everyone is flawed right?) we’re totally capable of choosing the other people who populate our lives, who we are close too and share connections with – and sometimes, these bonds can be stronger than the ones formed by blood. Either way, whatever family you choose to include in your life, make sure they are the ones that support you, not the ones that put you down.

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A-Z challenge, books, Kotahi Bay

G is for Gods

godsAcross the world there are many cultures, many religions. Some embraced, others hidden, some obscured by time and history. While New Zealand is a relatively young country in terms of how long people have been here, there has still been enough time elapsed since colonization to erode and discourage Maori beliefs and customs. Due to a primarily oral language, there is much about Maori life pre-colonization which has been lost, and knowledge of spiritual customs is one of those things that seemed to be swept away by the early missionaries to New Zealand.

I can remember even back in primary school, only hearing about Maori as being involved with the missionaries and noted the lack of stories and information about their belief system and practices before then. While we were told the Maori creation stories, and heard other legends about primarily Maui, I was curious about the (what felt like) completely missing information on the ways in which Maori interacted with these gods and their beliefs prior to colonization.

As someone with Maori heritage, this has always made me feel uncomfortable, like there were gaps in my knowledge, like those gaps were difficult to close because it seemed like the information I wanted was just not available. So I guess you could say that part of my explorations in Kotahi Bay are a way of internally resolving that lack, of finding ways to reconnect with the Maori gods through creating my own truths and interpretations of those gods. While they don’t play a direct role in the stories for the most part, their presence is felt in the world through their children, and the essence of them is certainly there. What I feel to be their essence, grounded in their connectivity to the world in which we live in, from the sea to the sky, to the harvest fields and the depths of the forest, animals and plants alike.

I’ve actually used the creation story as a basis for the overarching plotline in the series, so if you go and read it, you might get some ideas – I am certainly not going to spell it out for you ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ll be introducing some of the gods who are connected with my series in future posts in a little more depth. Not all of them make an appearance, but a good portion of them do.

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!

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

D is for Demigods

One of the things I’ve kept fairly close to my chest about Kotahi Bay is that it is home to several children of gods. Maori gods, that is. In fact, one of each pair of main characters in each book is a demigod – though some of them don’t know they are, others have known for either most of their lifetime, or at least a good chunk of it.

This creates some interesting tension as various characters get used to this new knowledge, or find out what the point of their abilities is, and how they can interact to resolve the larger problems of their community. It’s been really neat for me to delve into my Maori heritage a little, and re-imagine how our world might operate.

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

B is for Beach

backbeachHere in New Zealand, we are surrounded by the ocean, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the beach plays a role in my series. Kotahi Bay is a seaside town, and while the beach isn’t a huge partย ofย The Way the Sky Curves, it certainly has a bigger role in Shell and Bone.

I live on the west coast of the North Island, and the beaches here are gorgeous with their black sand, high cliffs and excellent surf. The wind comes in strong at times, and it is never more raw, more vital than when the wind is throwing the tide against the sand and whisking grains against the back of your calves.

Kotahi Bay is also set on the west coast of NZ. It’s an amalgamation of several small towns I’ve known, and my beloved beach, with it’s cliffs and sand dunes, black sand and striking beauty.

I ADORE the beaches around here. They make me feel alive and whole, tiny in the grand scheme, but also connected to the world we live in and my ancestors.

Actually, I just realized that I posted aboutย iron sandย for last years A-Z challenge! Check out that post for a few more pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

in the spirit, Kotahi Bay, publishing, writing

So, I’m releasing a book soon…

Calendar_Dec1-252x300I feel like I’ve been remiss lately. Talking around the thing, but not really approaching it directly. I’m nervous, I guess. Because on Dec 1st (or thereabouts, depending on how badly I cock the process up), I’m publishing In The Spirit. My first release.

Until now, it’s been mostly excitement and preparation and anticipation, but the nerves have definitely hit. I feel like there are a million things to do, and that I’m forgetting 99% of those things. I’ve changed my mind several times over the last month about how I want to approach this, and while currently I think I’ve come to my final ‘plan’, who knows? Maybe that will change!

So, there you have it. The date has been set. Over the next week I’ll be able to show you my cover and will set up a sample and stuff. I’ll be selling it everywhere for 99c, and you can nab it for free by signing up to my mailing list (which will also be coming shortly).

NaNoWriMo, Uncategorized, writing

NaNo? yeah, nah…kinda?

November is almost upon us, and with it, the madness of NaNoWriMo. The internet is being flooded with posts for and against, and writers everywhere are taking sides in the yearly debate of whether you can write a decent novel in a month, or whether you can call yourself a writer if you only write in November/during these challenges etc etc.

I don’t really care to get involved in that. There are pros and cons, and every writer is different. Personally, I can’t, at this point, fathom writing that many words in a month though I have done it before, and I may well do it again in the future.

IMG_20141022_134554147
This is Xanthe. She’s about 15 now and sleeps ~20 hrs a day. Mainly she wakes up to yawn (like this), have some smooches and eat/drink. She is one of the most beautiful cats I’ve seen ๐Ÿ™‚

What I DO care about, is how much fun it is to write alongside others. So, this November I will be working on the second novella in the Witches of Kotahi Bay series (aka: the book that comes after In the Spirit, but doesn’t have a title yet). I’m thinking it’ll top out around the 20K mark, and it will be an absolute blast to write – made more fun by participating in a bunch of word sprints over twitter and facebook, and experiencing the joy that is writing alongside some of my favourite writer friends.

Bring it!!! COME ON. I want it to be Nov 1st!!!

I’m spending the last few days of October trying to pin down a few more plot points, but I already have half the book written in my head and I am so very much looking forward to having a new adventure with Alyssa, her best friend Kelly, Mrs Nolan and the new guy who has moved in down the road. I’m also crushing on kittens right now, so I think I’ll give Alyssa one to keep her company.

So, if you’re writing in November, you won’t find me signed up on the NaNo site, but you will find me online. I’ve got some writing sprints locked down for every Tuesday and Wednesday (probably in the am), but I’m up for writing sprints just about whenever – hit me up at @JCHart

 

in the spirit, writing

And it’s off to the proofreaders!

Last night I finished the final edit of In the Spirit. GOSH that felt good! I’ve gone through this book countless times now, and it still makes me laugh and smile. I adore Alyssa, and hopefully you’re not so sick of hearing about her by the time the book releases that you’ll still want to read her story!

IMG_20141026_082332658This morning I did something I haven’t in years. I printed off the whole thing. Normally I wouldn’t, but a friend wants to proof it for me (aka: she desperately wants to read it right now and not wait until it’s released), so I thought, hey, why not?? I’ll be dropping that in to her later this morning, and sending out digital copies to my other proofreaders.

It’s all feeling a bit more real now ๐Ÿ™‚ How am I going to wait until December 1st to get this out there? I’m so excited about this, folks!!!

Anyway. I still have lots to do. Finalize the cover with my graphic designer, write all the extras a book needs, including a blurb! AND, finish planning book two. I’m going to be writing Alyssa’s next book during November and I’m buzzing about that.

Yes, life is good. And the writing life is even better.

life, NaNoWriMo, writing

Winning!

2014-Winner-Facebook-CoverI am officially a winner of CampNanoWriMo! Woo!

I actually finished off back on June 19th, but it’s been a busy week and I couldn’t ‘confirm’ the win until just yesterday.

It feels surprisingly good, like perhaps I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing. I’ve already sent it out to some readers and feedback so far has been good – this novella will be published towards the end of the year, and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

It’s a rather more ‘fun’ read than a lot of my work, so I’m looking forward to showing you all a lighter side of me ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can do funny! No-one dies! Well, not really… Okay, not going to say any more because it’s just a novella and I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

Can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚ This story had me laughing out loud as I rewrote it, and I really hope that those who read it will do the same. More on that at a later date.

Hope you’re all having a good month! Not long until August is upon us now ๐Ÿ™‚