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.

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


authors, life, NaNoWriMo, writing

Camp Update, and an unexpected rant.

Well, it’s now halfway through the month and for the first time in ages, I am on track. Actually, I’m ahead of schedule!

I know, I’m a little shocked myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

My editing muscles are well and truly flexed at this point, seeing as that is mostly what I’ve been spending my writing time on this year. I feel like I’ve fallen into a rhythm with it and this makes me happy, but also nervous. I’m making great progress (and, if I wasn’t studying, or editing for others as well, I would be done my own novella by now, and onto the next), but at the same time I’m wary of the ease… I am not sure I trust myself, and there is an underlying sense that I can’t be doing a good enough job.

I think this is tied into the myth that writers must bleed for their art, they must SUFFER in order to create great stories. I don’t really buy into that belief – after all, so much of the first draft at least feels like I’m riding a rollercoaster and I LOVE rollercoasters. It’s like getting a shot of adrenaline or being able to feel every ounce of the worlds wonder, it’s blissful, intoxicating. Better than almost any other high.

But just because I don’t buy into all those myths about what it takes to be a writer – you must drink a lot of coffee and/or alcohol, you must stay up into the wee hours of the morning bleeding words into your preferred writing tool, you must be crazy/have a muse/talk to yourself/get intense bouts of writers block/spend three days finding the right word to describe a situation, you must struggle with your words, and suffer for your art, you have to be a starving artist, and in general, it seems the belief is that the more you struggle (not just with those words, but with life in general) the more emotion, impact and weight will be present in your story – it doesn’t mean that somewhere under the surface I feel like they might be true.

Because maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

Well, I call bullshit.

Yeah, some writers drink coffee and load up on booze or drugs, but that’s not a prerequisite. Not all writers have muses, or mental health problems, and not all writers are night owls who forsake human contact. Not all writers bleed, or struggle, or live entirely inside their head – hell, I am far too rooted in the real world, in my legit every day problems and getting the kids fed, educated, and geared up for a life following their own passions to possibly indulge (yes, I said it) in the myth of being a writer. While there are some truths in those myths, they are not the foundation, core, or bottom line of being a writer. Yes, sometimes it’s a struggle, but there is always that joy in words, in making things better, in crafting a world and putting it on the page to share with others. I don’t have time to wail about the challenges, or indulge in writers block or adopt a struggling artist persona.

I have time to write.

I put words on a page. I make those words better, and in the near future I will publish those words. And that makes me a writer, not any of the other stuff.

And I’m not going to buy into those myths on any level. Not anymore. I’m doing just fine.

This wasn’t going to be a blog post about writer myths or struggling for your art, it was just going to be a quick update to say – hey, look! I’m actually doing stuff and it’s going really well! As is the case with blog posts though, these things seem to morph.

By all means, enjoy the things you enjoy, struggle with the things you struggle with, but I would kind of like it if people quit buying into this writer mythology, it’s not glamorous to be depressed or to abuse our bodies by consuming too much alcohol/coffee/drugs/depriving it of much needed sleep. It’s not aiding our creation.ย Wouldn’t it be better if we could be happy, thriving, and loving our work? I know that’s the ideal I’m going to be working towards from now on.

*For the record, I know lots of wonderful writers who don’t buy into the ‘writer’ myth. They are awesome people, and write awesome stories, and they don’t need to have dramatic lives or desperate struggles in order to do so. These people are far more productive than many ‘struggling writer’s because they use their energy to actually do the thing we’re all meant to love so much. Write.

NaNoWriMo, writing

I keep saying I’m not going to, but…

2014-Participant-Twitter-Header-2Yup. I did it again. Despite flopping big time at the April CampNano, and NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve gone and signed up for the July round of camping.

I know, I know…

But this time it’s different, I swear. This time they have personalized cabins!!! A large part of my dropping out in April was due to the fact that my cabin was pretty quiet and I wasn’t getting any kind of ‘fun’ vibe going on. They’ve finally implemented a system where you can hand pick your cabin mates, and let me tell you – it’s going to be a joy writing alongside these peeps. I’m really looking forward to it.

Of course, back in April I also didn’t have anything that I desperately wanted to work on, which wasย problematic. This July, however, I have a plan! I’ve got a Christmas themed novella that needs revising, and I am going to take this month to knock it into shape – I’m super excited because I’m planning on releasing this in time for Christmas this year! Fun! Yay!

Now, there is every chance that once again I will fail – but right now, anything that helps me move forward is an opportunity I’m going to take. At least with camp you can adjust your goals, and there is a lot less pressure than November. Anyway, it’s July, and I have writing to do! Might as well try and ‘win’ something else while I’m at it ๐Ÿ˜‰

NaNoWriMo, writing

Failing at NaNo and why that’s fine by me

I’m guest posting over at Kiwi Writers today about why I’m failing NaNo and fine with it. In that post I mentioned that at day 4 I realized I didn’t want to be writing a new draft.

So what am I doing instead?

Finally settling down to edit Sun-Touched, that’s what. This novel has been sitting around for long enough and I am well and truly ready to get it out into the world. Once the fog of my last assignment had cleared and I realized that I was finished with study for the year, it hit me that the main barrier to revision I’ve had in 2013 has been study, so, now that study is done it’s time to get back to it.

I’m going to be spending the next couple months kicking this into shape, and then hopefully I’ll have time to edit The Way the Sky Curves afterwards. ย It would be amazing to get to March next year and have two things I can shop around while I complete my final year of study.

Part of me really wanted to write this new novel, but if I keep focusing on drafts, I’m going to get to the end of next year and not feel like I am any further towards my goals. It’s kind of scary, but also incredibly amazing to be working on getting things ready to submit. Am certainly feeling no regret whatsoever for ditching NaNo ๐Ÿ˜‰

For those of you still cranking out the wordcount – you rock! Keep up the good work. And for those who, like me, have falling off the NaNo wagon – don’t beat yourself up over it, just keep writing ๐Ÿ™‚

authors, NaNoWriMo, writing

FREEDOM!!!!!!!! And other things

So, I’ve just handed in my last assignment for the year and I couldn’t be happier. Okay, MAYBE if you handed me a million dollars, or a six figure publishing contract, then I could be happier, but for now, for today, I’m pretty freaking happy. I’m free (until March).

This last month has been a creative black hole and I’m thrilled to be leaving it behind. With freedom, comes NaNoWriMo, which I’ll be participating in (though probably not winning). You can find me here if we’re not already buddies. I really enjoy the good spirits, word sprints and enthusiasm of writing alongside others, so am looking forward to spending the month writing my little heart out and watching a bunch of other writers achieve their goals and whatnot.

I’m going to be working on book three in the series I’m writing. It’s currently titled ‘By Souldust and Starlight’, and I’m really looking forward to leaping into it. This is the story that sparked the entire series, and it’s going to be MAJORLY fun to write. Let’s hope my characters are ready, because I have not had nearly as much time to plan as I’d have liked!

Other lovely things I’d like to note while we’re here are a couple of book releases that have happened in the last couple days.

First off the block is Heartwood by Freya Robertson, who is a wonderful NZ writer friend. An epic fantasy of truly epic proportions, this is her debut fantasy release, though she’s had a bunch of romance novels published in the last few years. It’s published through Angry Robot, who are awesome, and you should totally check it out! The second book is due out early next year, too, so you won’t have long to wait for a sequel!

And secondly (lastly) an anthology close to my own heart. Even if I didn’t have a story in it (but I do!! The Dead Way, it’s awesome, you should read it) I’d be pimping this one because it’s all in the name of a charity to get kids reading! That’s right, all profits from Baby Teeth go to Duffy Books in Homes, and who doesn’t want to get kids reading?

Also, those are my baby teeth on the cover, and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop being thrilled with my weirdest claim to fame yet. You can say that you know a woman whose teeth are stringed up on a necklace of the cover of a book. I guess that makes this a bit of a fitting post for Halloween after all ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m so happy right now ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you’re all ready to get stuck into November, because October is past it’s prime and I am SO ready to move on! Roll on November 1st!



You know how I said I was taking a holiday? Well, we did go away for a few days, but my brain hasn’t stopped working, other than to fail at combining sentences and finding the right word for things.

As we drove to Rotorua my mind was turning over ideas and options for the novella I’ll be writing in December. I saw a lake at the bottom of a waterfall that sparked my imagination, and then the mist as we climbed into the hills, and then once we were at my inlaws I collapsed on the bed for a bit and more things connected. Over the next few days a whole town emerged with snippets of my personal history intertwined and I began to get really excited about writing in a New Zealand setting.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I often don’t place my stories. They aren’t grounded anywhere in particular, and I’ve actively avoided writing about NZ for a long time. I’m totally ready to embrace my country and my heritage in my writing though and I’m excited to see how it all turns out.

Of course, I still need a character, and a story line, but I am sure those will come. The MC is beginning to talk to me, and I know that as we get to know each other I’ll be able to piece her story together – whether I can make it fit into a novella is another matter entirely, but I’ll do the best I can.

And so October is almost done. November will see much planning, for both the novella, as well as the rewrite of Sun-Touched. I think it’s going to be really interesting, seeing if I can work on the outlines for both at the same time. They are quite different – one being urban fantasy, and the other science fiction – but at the story level, there are bound to be things they have in common.

What have you got in store for the new month? How many of you are doing NaNo this year?


Ug, maybe I can’t do it

NaNoWriMo that is. I’ve totally fallen off the wagon, writing only one day in the last week! Everything is messy here, everyone has been sick and I’m so tired, most of the weekend was spent out of the house and there just seems to be no time at all.

Or rather, when the baby sleeps, there are other demands on my time.

I do want to write, and I intend to get back into it today, but I think I’m officially declaring that ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo is no longer my intention. I’m not going to kill myself to reach the 50,000 word mark. Instead I’m just going to enjoy writing as much as I can, when I do get the chance.

And sleep when I need to.

I’ve noticed over this last week that I’ve been feeling more introverted. I’m using the net less, blogging less, checking into the various forums I’m a member of less, I’ve barely twittered in days and force myself to check in but usually end up closing tweetdeck without looking through the backlog or tweeting myself. This seems to be a natural part of the pregnancy process for me, a retraction of the ethereal threads of myself so that I can focus the energy where it really needs to be. On the baby. On Ivy. On Lauren. That’s really my world right now. Getting through each day and enjoying the children I have in the world while I grow the child in my womb.

The writing is still going to happen. Just not as quickly.

And tomorrow afternoon we get to find out when baby is due ๐Ÿ™‚



I had a creative writing lecturer who was adamant that the second draft of a story be pretty much completely different. Revision, he said, was another way to say ‘re-envision’ which meant you pulled out the core elements of the story, twisted them up and plopped them down on the page again. In his mind, this version of the story would always be better.

While I don’t agree that this is always the case, I did learn that it’s a good to let some things not make it to the second draft, that you sometimes need to tackle things from a different angle and see where they take you. You don’t have to keep all the elements you began with in order to make a story better. Some things are simply not meant to be in that particular story, or your story might be better suited to some drastic changes.

I’m making changes.

I didn’t write yesterday, I ended up falling asleep with Lauren in the afternoon and when I woke up because the dog was whining to get inside, she woke up too and wouldn’t go to sleep unless I held her. So I did. Last night I was just too tired, tiredness pervades me right now. As it will for the next few weeks no doubt!

The upshot of falling asleep at 8.30pm is that there is more time for dreaming, and last night I had a really intriguing one. It highlighted for me all the things that were missing in my novel and when I woke up this morning I felt like I had a fresh new perspective on it. I may not even be halfway through the novel, but this newer, sleeker vision I have for it is more fun, and most importantly – more entertaining. I felt like the book was missing something but I couldn’t put my finger on it, well, now I know and I’m looking forward to getting into it again. Goodness knows I have a lot of catching up to do!

I’d love to go back and make changes, but for now I’ll have to settle for this re-envisioning of the way forward, and if I end up having time, I can go back and find the places where things need to be added.

In other news: I have a dating scan booked for Tuesday afternoon and am looking forward to finding out how far along I actually am. Lauren and I both have colds, Hubby is feeling a little under the weather too and Ivy has birthday parties to go to both days this weekend! That girls end of year social calendar is looking pretty full, she has way more of a social life than we do!


I can still do this

So, I’ve had three days off writing… I just have not been in the right place to get anything done and when I tried last night all I wanted to do was sleep! Yesterday afternoon when I normally would have written I slept, because I was up most of the night with a sick baby.

I’m way behind where I should be with NaNo, but the story has been the furthest thing from my thoughts which are naturally consumed with baby stuff and all the things that need doing between now and then.

Today though, I need to get back in the game. I need to put my head down and get back into the story, three days away is far too much, and I’m going to have to write 2k a day every day for the rest of the month in order to make it. I had hoped that nothing big would come up until later on, but I knew November would throw me a curve ball – it always does!



Maybe a day off was exactly what I needed, because I wrote just over 4,500 words yesterday!

Feeling so thrilled about it as well, loving the direction Chasing Ascension is taking and I managed to write a first draft for the search term challenge as well, though whether it’s actually good enough to put forward I’m not sure yet! I felt so on fire with the writing stuff yesterday that I was tempted to push on, to really make my word count rocket, but I knew that the payoff would be feeling exhausted this morning and probably not writing a thing.

It’s way better to pace yourself and go the distance than to go hard and burn yourself out. Well, in my opinion anyway, a lot of people seem to enjoy writing in fits and starts, but I’m really happy with the steady pace I’ve set. And hey, I’m tired enough on a normal day as it is, don’t want to make it any harder on myself!

Anyway, just a quick writing update, I’ve gotta have a coffee or something (apparently I can drink it again now, I just don’t crave it…) to kick start myself this morning. Am really looking forward to getting stuck into the writing later though!

P.S: absolute cuteness is Ivy reading books to Lauren. She’s been such a great big sister the last few days, really stepping up and helping me out by reading the occasional story. She finally gets that just because she can’t read the words, doesn’t mean she can’t tell a story about whats happening in the pictures! I can see her creativity blooming there as she weaves tales for Lauren, sometimes very similar to the original story, sometimes completely different. Beautiful.