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 😉 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 🙂

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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Best Novella, books, Burn, change, Fantasy, friends, Kotahi Bay, Maiden mother crone, short story, Sir Julius Vogel Award, Sun-Touched, The Way the Sky Curves

Long time no blog

Hey there! I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. Not because I’ve been doing nothing, but because life has been so busy lately. I mean, really busy. We’ve been away several weekends, a wedding, a homeschool camp, we’ve been down with colds for almost two weeks now, and there has been SO much going on. I can’t talk about some of it right now, so you will just have to take my word for it.

Basically, the past month or so has seen a massive shift in where my wee family is headed, and that’s been scary, sad, and exciting all at once. We’ve got what feels like a gazillion balls in the air right now, and I’m as okay with that as I can be 🙂 Doing a lot better than I had expected anyway.

Sadly, this has meant not as much writing as I’d have liked. Stress does that to me. I can anxious and can’t think creatively. It’s coming back to me now, though. I’m a bundle of ideas and am looking forward to putting some of them on paper in the next few weeks.

But first, I have to make it through the weekend! Au Contraire is coming up fast, and I am both nervous and excited about it. I am really looking forward to seeing people I don’t see nearly enough, hanging out amongst other like-minded people, talking geeky writerly stuff, and enjoying a great selection of panels and discussions. And I am nervous as fuck about convening a panel myself! On mythology, with some AMAZING authors, one of whom I’ve been a fan of for a very long time now – Juliet Marillier. I’m going to get to meet her! And then ask her questions! And omg!! How am I going to be able to speak? I just have to try not to stutter through the whole thing somehow…

I’ll also be at the At the Edge book launch directly before the mythology panel – my short story ‘Hope Lies North’ appears in it, and I am super excited to get my hands on a copy – and at the SJV’s on Sunday night as well, where all my books are finalists. I have zero expectations of winning an award myself, but I’m thrilled to be able to be there and cheer on some friends who I am sure will be picking up trophies! Fun times ahead. I am very much looking forward to heading to Wellington for a weekend that should include most of my favourite things (that aren’t my husband and kids, but I guess you can’t have everything right?).

I shall endeavour to update on a more regular basis, and hopefully soon I will have something fun to announce.

Take care!

April, authors, Burn, Characters, Fantasy, Friday, I'm in love, productivity, progress, Uncategorized

Friday I’m in love…

It’s been ages since I’ve done a Friday, I’m in love. But today it’s perfect for it to be Friday, and perfect for me to be in love.

You see, I’m very close to finishing the first draft of the last book in a series. Which in itself is a first for me.

Confused?

I hope not. I wrote Burn years ago, and published it a little over a year ago. That novella began from a themed call for submissions which included an older female protagonist. Carmel took that role, in place of a younger version of her who originally held it in an even earlier story prompt… This thing has a long history.

20150803_203741Burn didn’t make it into that particular anthology, seeing as I accidentally submitted a psychology assignment instead of the book… But, that just meant I had the freedom to publish it on my own, and I’ve enjoyed doing so. It’s got a few fans, and everyone who reads it wants more.

The only thing is that I’d never planned to write more, not on that story anyway, so I had to stop what I was doing and make a decision – write the story I’d originally intended, or write the one my readers most wanted. I opted for the latter. I’m not entirely sure that was the best decision because I have struggled with the sequels for longer than I’d have expected to. But it’s been really fantastic learning experience.

Anyway, I finished Flare a few weeks back, gave it a round of revision and sent it off to betas – they loved it. They told me this just as I was reaching the final scenes of Ignite, and that added to the overwhelming feeling that I was going about this all wrong. In fact, my characters showed up on the page and revealed something which almost made me quit. I’ve since convinced them that my original plan was better, and they’ve realigned themselves with a little convincing.

And I’m really happy with how it’s all coming out. I mean, I was REALLY worried about finishing this series, getting it right, doing a good enough job. But instead of the intense angst I felt around it last week, now I am blissful. It’s all come together. I’m tying up the storylines, I’m totally at peace with the way this is concluding, and for possibly the first time in my writer life I’m not rushing towards the ending, desperate to close it off and never look at it again.

I’m doing it right. And it feels SO GOOD.

April, challenges, lessons, life, monday check in, Uncategorized

Kill the Hare! I am the Tortoise.

For years I have been running on deadlines, on sleepless nights (child and study induced), on jam-packing my whole life with ALL. THE. THINGS. I studied, I wrote, I raised kids and played the perfect housewife. I raced everywhere, mostly against the clock, and against my emotions.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my life. My husband is my best friend, my kids are fucking epic. We’re incredibly lucky, and I am so blessed to be able to stay home with them. None of that changes that my brain is a bit wonky. I’ve always overcommitted and then burned myself out delivering. I have always taken on more than I can chew in an endless battle to fit more into the day/my life. I’d get so stressed out trying to do all the things that I resorted to binging everything. Work, study, housework even (yes it’s totally possible). I was the Hare, rushing rushing rushing to the finish line. I can go so fast! I can do it all!

Until now.

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Just because. Flowers are cool.

I’ve tried many times over the years to stop these self-destructive habits – hell, I do so well juggling all those balls that people just kind of assume I’ve got it all under control most of the time – but I have tried. I learned how to say ‘NO’ more often, I put my own stuff first. I started saying ‘I’d really like to do that, but I need time to think about it before I can give you an answer’. Even then, I would still rush and push myself harder than I could. Well, until I fell apart and just couldn’t any more. And let’s be honest, I did that a bunch of times on a smaller scale over the years. Collapsing into a heap, exhausted, drained, unable to function well.

 

So in some ways this last round of major depression was a really good thing. I had to stop. I took my meds, and they wiped out my motivation so even though I kind of felt like I should be doing more, I just couldn’t. I could not. Nope. None of it was happening.

I think I really needed the break. All pressure was off, and if I felt tired and unable to do stuff, then I knew it was the meds, and that was a lovely thing to fall back on. Nope. I’ve just gone up a dose and am adjusting. Nope. I’m not quite where I need to be. Nope. Nope. Nope. No, I just can’t right now. I can’t.

And that was good for a bit. It was. And then I recovered, and now I am off them and OH DO I BURN. I want to do all the things. My brain is firing again. It gets excited and goes down rabbit holes and it feels all the wonderful pleasure of the world again. It’s a beautiful thing. The creative drought is over. I’m back, baby!

But the Hare is dead. I know I can take a breath. I know I can say no, and I can consider things, and I can put my needs ahead of others. My brain may be diving off, exploring options, but that incessant need to do ALL. THE. THINGS has dulled somewhat. I’ve got a voice in the back of my head, the ghost of the hare that tells me to run and binge and doitallnownownowNOW.

But I am the tortoise. I’ve looked at my daily habits, I’ve assessed my goals, and I know that burning out isn’t going to get me where I want to be. Since the beginning of the month I have written and revised more of my own work than in the last four months combined. And I’m not even working that hard. I’m writing a little bit. I’m revising a little bit. I’m doing my paid editing gigs a little bit. Each of those three things, every day, and the progress is delicious.

I’ve found a new, far more rewarding addiction. One I’d never thought would ever work for me. It’s called… pacing myself.

WTF. Yes. I’m still getting my head around it myself. But here’s hoping it serves me well for a long time – long live the Tortoise!

April, change, Uncategorized

Long time no post…

Hey! So, it’s April! The season is changing – nights getting cooler, mornings as well. I love it 🙂 Things have been ticking along here, and I have been focusing on finding some kind of balance, and adjusting back to ‘normal’.

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Home School camp

As some of you might know, I’ve been dropping doses of my anti-depressants for a bit now, and am finally off them! YAY! It’s been a little over a week, and I think the side effects (the really bad ones) are starting to abate. Well, I hope so. Being that it can take quite some time to fully readjust, and the last time I did this I was in my late teens and no doubt just went cold turkey, I have nothing to compare it to. If I have learned nothing else from all this, it’s that everyone is different.

And I am different to how I was a year ago. In that time I have done a lot of learning. While the medication I was on might not have been the best one for me, and while it ultimately began to make things worse rather than better, I still think it was worthwhile. It gave me the space I needed to think things through, it meant that when I was feeling better I could work on some of the stuff I needed to, and when I was coming off them, allowed me to see that actually, anxiety is the real problem, and depression a side effect of long-term anxiety.

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Early morning walk, sans kids

Am I still anxious? I think I’m anxious about anxiety – worried that now that I am off them I might slide back into the black hole, that things might start to build up on me again. And I’m okay with that. I don’t feel anxious about everything all the time, and that’s good. I’ve been able to develop some strategies for keeping myself balanced, and while that is hard, it is so worthwhile (I’ll post more on that another time!)

More importantly, I feel creative again. It’s a huge relief to find my way into some writing, to have the drive once more to revise stuff, and want to put it out there. It seems counter-intuitive in some regards to think that while I was medicated – not wallowing in misery, not constantly anxious, or always on a rollercoaster of intense highs and lows – I found creating so hard and lacked any motivation.

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More bush walking!

I’m pleased to be free of that. I feel like I can soar again. Like I can handle what life throws at me, while also tapping into a full range of emotions. I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time, and I don’t feel depressed! I’m making positive changes, and I know that every day is a blessing.

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.

authors, February, Friday, I'm in love, vlog, writer

Friday, I’m in love- on Thursday!

Because I am one of those people who gets all nervous about stuff and goes back and forth and pikes out on occasion, I decided to post tomorrow’s offering today.

I was killing time between getting some groceries and picking up my youngest kids from a friends house, so I parked up at the lookout above their house and enjoyed the wind and rain. And then I thought. Hey! It’s QUIET. Let’s make a video! No prep, no makeup, no filters, no script, no bloody idea what I was doing…

So here it is. One take, spur of the moment.

 

If you have any suggestions or advice (or requests!), then please do let me know 🙂 I am super noob at this. My eldest has the following to say: turn your phone the other way around! Make lots of videos about cats. POST MORE. Make her (my daughter) famous.

monday check in, Uncategorized

Home again home again…

I missed Friday’s post because I was travelling – sorry! But I can report that I was very much in love with my husband, and with Nick Offerman, and driving long distances with no children bickering or asking ‘are we there yet?’, and with child free meals, with Deadpool, and with Wellington. Oh, Wellington.

We had a marvelous wedding anniversary/very late honeymoon (8 years in the making!). First weekend away from the kids in… well, almost a decade. Sheesh, that’s a long time.

Anyway. I have returned. Tired from all the travelling, but refreshed on some other levels, and feeling very much ready to get back to work. My brain is ticking along nicely at the moment (the med drop was a GOOD idea. Happy where I am for now, but will make further adjustments as required), and now all there is to do, is work, and convince my over achieving habits to chill the fuck out and take a backseat while I continue on this path of balance. (Yes, I’m laughing too. Oh, sweet, naive Cassie. When have you ever been able to stay balanced for long?).

I started working on the last book in the Maiden, Mother, Crone series again, and the numbers are ticking up nicely. My progress might be slow, but it is also consistent – which is way better than sporadic. I’m enjoying reconnecting with this character, and seeing how things pan out. And am very much looking forward to getting a first draft all wrapped up because I have oh so many ideas for more things to work on! (one at a time though… steadily, steadily…)

On Friday I shall attempt to bring you something special. See you then!

change, February, lessons, life, monday check in, planning, reading

February, forward

After my last post, I made some changes – the biggest of these was having an action plan. Plans are so very important. They give you steps to follow even when you don’t feel like doing much. They help you feel pro-active and in control. I’m a big fan of plans, and eternally grateful to my good friend Meryl Stenhouse for helping me to come up with this one.

As a result of this plan, I am already seeing an improvement in my mood – see, just having a plan helps! I didn’t even wait til today to get writing! I started on Friday, with just 300 words. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I can tell you this: I’d rather write even 300 words than nothing. It’s an achievable goal, even on the worst of days, and a jumping off point on the good ones. When I told myself I needed to get back into the habit of writing, I gave myself no goal, and so I flailed. I expected a lot, but never gave myself a chance to work up to it. Not only is 300 words totally doable, but if I can get them done before lunch it means I have heaps of time to get other things done.

post swimModeration. Balance. I’ve struggled with those things so for long, but I think this time I might actually be coming at it the right way. I’m writing. I’m exercising. I’m taking care of myself. I’m reading books. And I’m spending lots of quality time with my family – and not feeling frustrated, because I am actually fitting everything in!

I went to the Dr this morning, and she supports me in reducing my medication. We’re taking it slowly, and I’ll check back in with her in a month to see how I’m doing. I’m not so nervous about it now, because I think this is the right call (and I’m totally okay if it’s not. This is a journey, and I know it takes time and nothing is certain). I feel really good though, and I hope that at some point in the future I won’t need the meds. If I do, that’s fine, but if I don’t, then that’s cool too. I’m glad I tried them out, because they helped me through a rough patch, and helped me to find myself again.

Anyway, this is kind of all over the place, sorry! To sum up, I have a good feeling about February. I’ll be adding a second post to the week, so you can expect a ‘Friday, I’m in love…’ post in a few days time, on, you know, Friday. Looking forward to sharing with you some of the awesome things, which will help keep me feeling grateful 🙂

friends, January, life, Uncategorized

January?

Well, we’re almost through the first month of the year, and I have very little to report. The three weeks I had booked out as ‘holiday’ quickly become a month, and more – and seeing as February arrives in just a few days, I’ve decided (with a little help from my friends) to officially declare January a holiday month.

This is completely abnormal for me. I don’t do holidays or relaxing very well, but right now, I can’t seem to summon the energy for much of anything else. Which really bugs me. I had big plans for the year, and right now, I can’t be bothered with any of them.

So, it’s time to go back to the Doctor. For me, there is little worse than feeling so blah. I can barely summon the emotion to feel upset, or happy, about anything. It’s like I am in zombieland. I would rather feel something – anything – than nothing. My creativity has entirely dried up, and even when I know doing something should make me feel better, I can’t make myself. I feel like I should hate feeling like this, but you know what? I cant even tap into that emotion right now. I’m living in a world of meh, where everything is grey and the air is dust. There is no joy here. And I need that to change. I don’t feel like me, I don’t feel authentic.

I think I want off my meds. Which scares me a little too, because I don’t want what I was feeling before either, and I’m not really sure what to expect. What comes next? I’ve been on this path since April last year, increasing dosages every 3-4 months as I flatline again, and again. Ug.

Mental illness sucks. But I know I don’t want this place where I’m at right now, and I know that I will try a whole lot of other things to find a way out of it, to find a place where I can feel joy again, because I want to be present in my own life, living it, not just walking through it in a daze. My family deserves that, and I deserve that too.

I AM okay. There is no need to worry about me, and I tell you that honestly. Life is a journey, and I will keep on travelling.