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It’s all coming together.

For pretty much all of my writing career I’ve felt like I was on the back foot, always 50 steps behind where I should be, constantly getting things wrong and without a shit show in hell of getting it right.

Ha! Oh gosh, I have been so cruel to myself in the past. But not anymore.

I don’t think it’s that anything has particularly changed in the exterior world – the only real difference is inside myself. I’m looking at things differently these days, and while I will no doubt still make mistakes, I can see that actually, I’m not doing too badly. In fact, right now, I’m doing pretty good! I feel hopeful, and happy with where I’m at.

Content. Damn, that’s a nice place to be. Not content in the ‘will never push self again’ way, but in the ‘yeah, you’re doing good, keep at it’ way. In this past month I’ve managed to get my new banner made, hired Web Wyvern to do my website redesign, step back from editing for others, and kick my FB group back into gear.

And I’m in the process of finalizing my next release, Sekhmet’s Desire. I can’t wait to share it with you all! It’s a good book and I reckon that if you’ve enjoyed any of my previous work, you’ll enjoy this as well.

Everything just feels GOOD. And it’s such a nice place to be in. I want to hold onto this for as long as possible. I want this to never go away. But I know that if I slump again, I’ll just pick myself up again, and again, as many times as I need to.

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My Career, My Way

With so much changing in my day to day life – adjusting to life with chronic illness, new house, new routines (my teen has decided to give high school a go! We haven’t had this level of structure in our lives for seven years) – it’s been the perfect time to stop and assess where I’m going with my career.

Caveat: I don’t think it’s a decision you make once. I think it’s a thing you should revisit from time to time, and I think that you make the best choices for yourself at the time, and that those choices are flexible and can change depending on what’s happening both in the publishing industry, and in your own life. But I believe those choices should always be made with this question in mind: What works best for me?

It turns out that I’ve been doing a lot of things that are not the best for me. One of those has been falling into the trap of Comparisonitis, which only shows me how ‘not enough’ that I am. A dear friend sent me this link yesterday, and it was timely, because I have been slowly pulling away from comparing myself to others, and focusing on what is that I can do. And what I can’t. I’ve got my own ladder to climb, so I need to stop paying any attention to other peoples ladders.

For instance, when I get realistic, I can’t spend hours every day writing (I’m ill, I homeschool, I have a house to run, and lots of pick ups and drop offs and the like). I can’t put a book out a month (I would burn out SO fast). I can’t write to market (I tried with my Ebony series, but that didn’t go so well). I can’t be on social media tonnes (epic levels of procrastination happen when I do!).

But I can write books that I love and am passionate about, they might not fit the genres bang on, but are full of interesting and wonderful things, characters you will love or hate, worlds that you can get lost in. Books that will be released when I’m confident they are ready, never before. Books that are so me that no matter the genre, I’m sure that if you’ve enjoyed one of my books, you’d enjoy any of them (even if you have a genre preference, and don’t we all?).

And, when I am on social media? I can be my authentic self, and strive to make connections. I can be real, and raw, and open, and honest, and you will know that whatever I’m saying or doing is an extension of who I am, even if that might seem to change over time, it’s all still me.

And the whole point of this post? It’s to declare – to you, and more importantly, to me – that finally I’m embracing who I am, and letting go of all the noise in the publishing world that says that you have to do A, B, and C in order to succeed. I will be doing my best to no longer buy into the crush and rush and madness, but instead make decisions based on who I am, and what I can do.

This is my career, and I’m going to do it my way.

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2019 – the year ahead

2019 only feels like it really began at the start of February, and even then, it was a slow start to the year. I spent all of January working my butt off to get Butcherbird done and delivered on time, and during the final pass I was so happy with what I was seeing. I was proud. I AM proud. I’m confident it’s my best book yet, and that’s a really nice feeling compared to the usual nerves, anxiety and sick in my stomach feeling I normally get when I finish a book.

So, it’s off with Huia now, and the wait has begun. But I don’t have time to think about that, because there are so many other things to do! This year is going to be a busy one with more travel than ever before – there are writers festivals to attends, conventions too, a joyous assortment that has me slightly worried about how on earth I’m going to manage my chronic illnesses, but I know I’ll find a way.

Because I’m more in control now. Sure, flare ups happen, but I’ve done heaps of reading and learning, and for the first time ever I’m actually okay about a slower pace. In the past I’ve often referred to myself as the tortoise, rather than the hare, but that’s truer than ever. I rest, a lot. I look after myself more – because I know that’s the only way I can keep doing the things I love. I still have days where I’m all ‘fuck I hate my illness’, because ugh, it’s annoying as hell, but on the flip side I feel like I’m in a better place than I’ve been in years and if it hadn’t been for finally seeing a Dr who was willing to look deeper and not brush off my issues, I wouldn’t have arrived here. I’d still be struggling with my mental illness, still be crashing and burning on a regular basis. Still be dealing with the frustrating belief that I SHOULD be able to do so much more because I WANTED to, desperately.

But, I can’t. Actually. And I shouldn’t. And while the want, the drive, the desire is still there, I’m okay to potter along at my own pace. I’m good with that.

Ahhhh, peace.

Anyway, this post was meant to be about what’s in store for the year! Goals, and hopes and dreams and whatnot. I think I can summarise those pretty easily though.

  1. Enjoy all there is to enjoy about my amazing writer life.
  2. Read over 100 books (I’m already well on the way! Check out my challenge here).
  3. Rewrite and knock Juniper into shape for publishing.
  4. Do some rebranding for J.C. Hart.
  5. Try not to think too hard about Butcherbird (I SO want to share it with everyone).

There will be other writing projects as well, I know that. But I’m still formulating what I want everything to look like. And, a kind of, grand reveal… I’ve been keeping a secret, but it’ll all be out in the open soon 😉 and I’m looking forward to when that happens as well.

Right, I think that’s it for now! If you missed my journals from Te Papa Tupu, then you can find those here. It was such a great programme to be part of, and I hope that one day in the future I’ll be able to be part of it as a mentor.

I hope 2019 is treating you well so far – it feels a lot different to last year, in a lot of good ways.

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2018 Wrap-up

This has been a big year. Maybe not in the ways I’d have liked it to be, but sometimes we don’t get a choice about that. Sometimes we just need to make the most of the hand we’re dealt.

And this year I was dealt a bunch of things, both good and bad. We started out the year by selling our house in Paraparaumu, packing and moving back home to Taranaki. It was a huge relief for all of us to be here, and within a few months it felt like we’d never left.

Except we did, and things changed. Mostly things in our family, because our friendships were still tight and intact when we came home. However, my health wasn’t good, in fact, none of our health was amazing, we’d all deteriorated in ways which were hard to explain. It wasn’t until just a few months ago that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which explains why I have struggled so much for so long now.

I’m getting to grips with that now. Making changes, making new plans that are realistic within the confines of my illness.

Looking back I can see that I didn’t really set any goals for this year, and it was probably just as well. Nana had not long died, we were all caught up with the moving process; I had no headspace to think about what came next. Despite that, it’s been a pretty good year for me. I had a short story published in Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud, and then went to launch it at Armageddon, along with a panel – which was really cool!

I also got selected as a mentee for the Te Papa Tupu incubator programme, which has been such an amazing experience. I feel like this has been an accelerated learning path for me, with my mentor highlighting my weak spots and helping me shore them up. While it’s meant I haven’t published anything new this year for J.C. Hart aside from that one short story, I’m confident that I’m a better writer than I was and that everything I do going forward with be a step up. If you want to read my journal posts from my time in the mentorship, you can find those here.

Other notable things? I’m still here! lol some days that seems like enough. I challenged myself to read 70 books this year and hit that yesterday (check them out here, and feel free to add me as a friend). I think I’ll still fit a couple more in though – it is the holiday season after all, even if I’m not done working for the year.

I’m still mulling on what 2019 is going to look like for me, but I’m hoping in general it’s a slightly easier year, one with less disasters, less stress, less pain. I hope 2018 was good to you though – that there were some high points, and not too many low ones – and that you all have a merry festive season.

mdeI’m still mulling on what 2019 is going to look like for me, but I’m hoping in general it’s a slightly easier year, one with less disasters, less stress, less pain. I hope 2018 was good to you though – that there were some high points, and not too many low ones – and that you all have a merry festive season.

Aroha nui. 

xxx

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The Struggle is Real

fshbtyThis is a hard one for me to post about. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but feel like it’s important to be real about things, so this is me being real. I’m not looking for any sympathy, just sharing my journey.

I’ve been doing it pretty hard for a few years now, lots of ups and downs and me coming up with reasons why it’s all totally normally and acceptable.

You see, my life is busy! I home school three energetic kids, each with their own special needs, I write, I edit, I keep everyone fed and clothed. I also have bipolar 2, and anxiety. Of course I’m tired. It’s totally normal, to be expected even. Right?

Right.

But it hit the point where I had to admit that I wasn’t okay. I ran out of excuses and I had to do something about it. And that something was to go and see a Dr, take a bazillion tests, and get a diagnosis.

Turns out I have Fibromyalgia (possibly with a side of Chronic Fatigue, I’m waiting on a specialist appointment). The symptoms I’m living with are not new (have in fact been around for years), however it’s been a bit of an adjustment getting my head around this diagnosis and realizing that it’s not just a thing that I’m going to get over if I go to bed earlier or do more yoga.

People often say things along the line of ‘I don’t know how you do it all’, and I am often thinking, ‘I don’t either’. Hell, I don’t think I DO ‘do it all’, at least, not in the way I would like. Not in the way I believe I should be capable of. It’s kind of just enough in all areas to keep things ticking over, but if one thing is getting more attention, then another thing is sliding until I’ve got the energy to drag it back up to where it needs to be. It’s a constant juggling act where I have to make decisions about what I can manage on any given day.

Now I know why. I have a legitimate reason for all the aches and pains, for my constant fatigue. For always juggling. I’m not a ‘flake’, I’m just not super well.

And it sucks. It really sucks. No one wants a chronic health issue. Sure, it could be worse. I could be dying. But it’s still pretty crappy. I was hoping for a magic pill that would ease everything, but it’s just not that simple.

What it does mean is that I need to change my expectations of myself. I’m not going to get back to the level of energy and output I had just like that. There is no quick fix. I need to try different things to see what works for me, and most importantly, go a little easier on myself. Or a lot, depending on who you ask 😉

I feel like these past few years have seen me constantly pulling back on my expectations. And while I fully understand why that’s important – now more than ever – I feel so much resistance to it. I want so badly to be doing all the things. It’s why those things are in my life! And I’m sure as hell not going to let illness get in the way of me achieving my dreams. Though I might need to modify some of my desired timelines for said dreams.

Three weeks ago I started taking antidepressants which are meant to help with Fibro. It’s also meant to be pretty good for bipolar 2 and anxiety, so maybe this will be a magic pill after all, just not the one pill and done kind. My pain levels have decreased a bit, but I’m still in that ‘wait and see’ zone – these things take time. I’ve never been a very patient person when it comes to myself, but I think maybe I’m finally learning that lesson.

And while I wait and try out new things to help my health, I’ll keep writing and making the most of the energy I do have. If I’ve learned anything these past weeks it’s that regardless of whether you’re unwell or not, you need to make good choices about what you spend your time on. Life is short, energy is limited, and we live in a crazy busy world. Surround yourself with awesome people who lift you up and make time for the things you love – read those books, watch that movie, play that game, hug the people you love, laugh lots.

That’s what I’ll be doing.

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Changing pace

IMG_20180225_175714_333Well, we’ve moved! Despite the fact that we’re still unpacking, we’ve settled into life really quickly – I guess that’s the joy of coming home to a place that we love. It’s been this beautiful re-entry into a life that has also been slightly surreal. Even Hubby said it’s almost as if we never left. A lot of things have changed internally – in who we are, in the way our family is, the things that we discovered while we were gone – but the foundations, the relationships we have here, the group that we helped established, it’s still there and as strong as ever. How awesome is that?

I’m back at writing, though it’s going a little slower at the moment as we work through unpacking. Plus, life is just busier here, and I hadn’t really accounted for that. We’d been in the house twenty minutes before my lovely nephew was over for a play, and the first full day here we were off on a museum explore. The kids are so keen to hit their favourite spots and see all their friends. It’s been almost non-stop!

And meanwhile, I’ve been exhausted. I think that the last few months have really been hard and while I’ve handled it so much better than I ever imagined I would, it’s taken a toll and been building up. I had a feeling that once we were home I’d crash – the grief from Nana dying, the stress of getting a house ready to sell, the sale process, then all the cleaning, packing and finally moving and unpacking… well, it’s enough to make anyone exhausted right?

So I’m changing pace a bit, and that’s okay. My writing was slower while working through all the above, and it’s still slower while I defrag from everything and get myself into a good place. It bothered me something wicked last week but I’ve come to accept it now.

Sometimes, you just have to go slower. Sometimes, getting your head straight, finding your feet, establishing good new patterns is more important than being fast. I’m just going to take it easy, at least for now.

What does that mean for this year’s releases? I’m not sure yet. I’m not in a place to be able to see that clearly. I’m still working on Juniper’s book (and loving it! I have some new processes that I’ll talk about in a bit), I’m still waiting to hear back from my first reader about Butcherbird, and I still have the Sun Touched sequel percolating in the background. I just don’t have any release dates for these things yet.

It’ll happen. And it’ll be worth the wait.

January, Uncategorized

Shiny Maths

I’ve been doing quite a bit of tracking lately, mostly of words written and time taken. It’s been a revelation!! I’ve discovered some really interesting things.

I can write an average of 10,000 words a week.

I can write an average of 2,500 words an hour (that’s rounding down, it’s often a bit higher but I’m being kind to myself).

I’m working on averages because my life is chaotic. I homeschool three kids. I have bipolar 2 and my mood fluctuates. I homeschool three kids. Three kids who are all kind of high needs in different ways, on different days. Life is not going to get less chaotic anytime soon, so averages are a really good thing for me. Looking beyond what I did today, and instead, looking at what I did over a week, or a month, makes me feel much better about my progress. I’m so glad to have finally realized this.

Anyway, why the shiny maths?

Because math is awesome! And because when I’m trying to figure out what I can do over a year, it gives me a really good way to work out what’s achievable and what’s me being manic.

So, 10,000 x 52 – 520,000 words – WHOA. Now that seems high. I know writers who do more though, a lot more. Some people write a million words a year (one day I might be one of them).

This year is going to be a little higgedly piggeldy though. January is already full of stress (my grandmothers official funeral/life celebration coming up, the house has just gone on the market, open homes upcoming, packing, preparing for the move). February is going to be full of much of the same, with actually moving in the mix, as well as settling back into life in our old house.

So, let’s scale that word count down a bit, shall we? Let’s say, 430,000.

Dang, that’s still a good chunk of words.

I’ve got some really fun ideas about how to spend them too, such as:

SunTouched_ECover_10-8-15v2Finishing the series that I started with Sun Touched. This has to be the book I am most asked about, probably because it’s now my only incomplete series. I promise I’m working on it! I’m going to be reading Sun Touched again in the near future and marking it up with lots of notes about what comes next. I had plans for a few more books, but I want to reconnect with the story before I determine just how long the series will be.

Publishing the series that begins with Butcherbird. I’m in LOVE with this series. I’ve written book one as well as a shorter piece that I’ll be giving away for free to subscribers in the near future. I’m already planning book two, and will probably do a trilogy to begin with. Think horror elements, family – by blood/by choice, demonic possession, birds. Lots of birds. Alcohol.

Starting a new series in a shared world! I’m really excited about this, and my main character, Juniper, is ITCHING to be written. I’m going to dip my toes into this one soon and I can’t wait. Juni is so many things that I’m not, and I can see she’s going to kick my ass on the page, and off. In a good way though. I think she’s here to teach me a few tough lessons. Think old gods, dark hungers, kick-ass women, violence, and humour.

I’m also hashing out the details for some potential co-writing with a good friend of mine, and ideas for another series (or three?). The ideas are coming thick and fast lately!

Despite all the change that’s about to crash into my life, despite a bunch of stuff being up in the air, I’m feeling really alive – invigorated – when it comes to my writing.

2018 is going to be a hella good year, people. Let’s make it so.

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2017 in review

When I looked back through my blog to see if I’d actually set myself goals for the year I could see just how little I’d blogged in 2017. I think it might be the quietest year since I started this, and that makes me feel a little sad. But I think it’s a really good reflection on just how much this year ended up being about keeping things together.

Last year I posted a little about how the preceding years had been a lot about keeping afloat, surviving, getting through and I chose FOCUS as my word for 2017. 

Yeah. Well. I guess I was focused for some of it. If it was a goal to work towards then I’d like to say that over the course of the year I nailed that sucker. I’m coming out of 2017 feeling focused and with big goals for the coming year.

Last year I wrote:

2017 will be a year of words. A year of saying no to the things I don’t really want to do but maybe feel like I should. Of saying YES to my own worlds.

And I can say that I achieved all of these things. Sure, not all at once, but I got there. Despite reflecting on the fact that I’ve had a few hard years, I’m going to say that 2017 has been the worst in a really long time. I’ve had massive patches of depression, the death of my much loved Nana, struggles with health across the family, PTSD flare-ups, massive amounts of stress in the lead up to the convention in June.

And yet, I still got more achieved this year than I have in a long time. 

Once the convention was all done I had a heap of space in my brain for other things and I got really stuck into working on my writing. This year I published four new titles: Serafina’s Flame (which is Burn + the two follow-on novellas in a single title), Beneath Broken Waves, In the Earth’s Embrace, and Of Souldust and Starlight – the final three books in the Kotahi Bay series. This wraps up 2/3 of the series I started back in 2015 and I couldn’t be happier about that. It feels really good to finish some things. Which isn’t to say there will never be another Kotahi Bay book, there might be, just not right now. 

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Did I say no to more things? Yeah, I did. I turned down some work, I let a few clients know that I wasn’t going to be able to edit for them anymore. I didn’t leap at every opportunity so much as suggested in my presence, and I stopped feeling like I had to do things just because it was the nice thing to do. I started using the ‘I’d love to say yes, but I need some time to think about it before I can commit’ line with people. I was more honest about when I just couldn’t, and that felt really good too. To actually just say ‘I really can’t, I’m tapped out’ when that was the truth. I feel like while I still have some work to do in that area, I’ve gotten a lot better at putting my needs near the front of the list, which has gone a long way to helping out my mental health situation.

So, while 2017 was a hard fucking year. It really was – I’ve not been so close to a complete break down in a really long time, I barely held it together at several points, hell, maybe I DID have some small breakdowns – it was also a really successful one. I wrote and published books. I made huge leaps in my author world and implemented some really good strategies for both work and personal life. Boundaries, yo. I think I’m getting some 😉 Self-care? Definitely improving on that front too. 

I’m still mulling on my goal specifics for 2018, so I’ll post about them next week – I feel like it’s going to be a good year though, and can only hope it has a few less big challenges in it.

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And the series is complete

I’ve been so busy writing my next book that I’ve slacked off on sharing the good news – Kotahi Bay is finally done! The final book in the series is now available for pre-order at the price of 99c. It’ll go up once it’s live so if you want a bargain get in now.

OSAS_ecover

The final book follows Samantha, who has been a part of the series since the very beginning. In fact, it was her story that I started out wanting to tell, only to then realize it was the last piece of the series, not the first. Things have morphed and changed a bit along the way, but I’m so pleased to have finally finished this series and given Sam her story.

It feels a little surreal to have finally finished this series, though there is always the possibility that I’ll return to the world of the Bay with fresh stories to tell.

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Long time, no blog

After I tweaked my website a few months back the blog kind of disappeared and I bought into that whole ‘blogging is dead’ thing. But I kept thinking about it, and the thoughts niggled in the back of my mind.

I have no idea if you missed me or not, but I missed this, so I’m back!

I’d like to tell you lots of wonderful news, but I don’t have any. I’d love to say I’ve been crazy-busy getting my next book ready for you, but I can’t even say that either. Life has been full and busy but it’s not leaving me with a lot of space for writing. This space seems to get increasingly small the closer we get to LexiCon.

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For those that might not know (because I haven’t been talking about it a whole lot on here) I’m the co-chair of this year’s National Science Fiction and Fantasy convention – and it’s happening in just a few weeks now! OMG I have convention packs to make, and a million things to organize, including many things to feel pre-emptively anxious about, such as pronouncing things correctly, speaking in front of a hundred and fifty or so people (insert pukey face here), and meeting best-selling, award-winning author Seanan McGuire (I keep trying to tell myself she’s just a person, but she’s an incredibly COOL person and I’m bound to say stupid things or be incoherent due to the aforementioned stress and panic).

I’m so grateful that we have some awesome people on our ConCom to make the task less daunting, most of us had very little experience going in but *knocks on wood* it all seems to be coming together quite nicely. Fifteen days til I head to Taupo…

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End of April, start of May – stars for writing, hearts for not being awful to myself

Just so you don’t think I’ve been completely flakey, I HAVE been doing some work. It’s just that the amount of said work is shrinking.

I had really high hopes of getting the nearly final draft of Kotahi Bay #2 done before Convention, but I want to produce quality and with my brain the way it is right now I just can’t guarantee it.

Here is photographic evidence (of the work, not my mushy brain).