Guest post, New Zealand, self publishing, writing

Writing a Book set in New Zealand

As a proud kiwi author, I love having the opportunity to share the space on my blog with other local writers. Today, Catherine Mede is stopping by to talk a bit about writing a book set in New Zealand. Her debut novel, Cursed Love, is releasing on the 30th of November, so we’re almost release day buddies! I’ve known Catherine for years now, and it’s really exciting that we’re getting to this point in our writing lives at the same time. Not only that, but we’re both releasing work set in our beautiful Aotearoa.

So without further ado… I’ll hand pass you over into Catherine’s capable hands.

Writing a Book set in New Zealand.

Writing a book based in New Zealand is considered by most to be a suicide mission.  Comments like ‘nobody will read a book set in NZ,’ have often been said to me, however I have watched from the side lines, with interest, a New Zealand author who has had some success with a series of romances set in Wellington.

It has often been reported that if you want a book to be popular, you must set it in the United States, because that is where the majority of the readers are and they only read books set in the US.

I beg to differ.

Readers come from all over the world, not just the United States.  What about England, Europe, Asia?  Surely they have readers too.

Recent articles have reported that the majority of readers, especially of romance, are looking for books that are set in exotic locations, and to some, New Zealand is exotic.  How can it not be, with all the natural native bush, the clear blue lakes, the active volcano’s and the tropical weather (well, maybe in the winterless North.)  More and more readers are picking up books set in New Zealand, Australia and even the islands as a means to escape reality, and enjoy a moment in a bright clean atmosphere.

When I first started writing Cursed Love, I wanted to set it in Nelson, because that is where I worked as an insurance assessor.  The setting of the office is pretty much where I worked, although the name has been changed, along with the brokerage – authors are allowed some poetic licence.  Nelson is a place that is close to my heart, having lived there for many years.  I know the places that my characters visit, or attend.  The view overlooking Nelson harbour, although the office set on the port is ficitious, because you are no longer allowed on the wharf unless you work for the Port Authorities, but my father used to work in a watchtower that had a great view over the chip tower and Roll-on Roll-off ferry berth.  The office block and the ferry berth no longer exist, both being removed some years ago.

Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park are also favourite places I go and I have ideas for books that are yet to be written, to be set in these beautiful places.

Nelson as the setting for a romance seems a little out there, but romance happens everywhere, not just in Wellington or Auckland.  Small towns have opportunities to have love too, and with having the Maori aspect to my story, adds to the reading experience, while educating the reader a little bit about the vast and rich history of New Zealand.  We might be a small country, but our history is still relatively new.  We only have two hundred plus years, while cities in the US have three to four hundred years of history, compared to thousands of years in the UK, Europe and Asia.

I think New Zealand has a lot to offer as a setting for stories.  There are the All Blacks, the setting for a book written by an American author (Just this Once by Rosalind James), Wellington and its vistas over the harbour (Wicked in Wellington series by Kris Pearson), the rich history of the early settlers (The Runaway Settlers and A Canoe in the Mist by Elsie Locke), marble mountain caves (Maurice Gee’s The Halfmen of O series).

Maori culture has a lot to offer the story world too.  It has a beautiful language, and a unique perspective on the world, where they don’t actually own the land, but protect it for the future generations.  The more I read and understand the Maori culture, the more I understand their opposition to a lot of the local bylaws and laws that the Government have made and still continue to make.

But this isn’t a political rant.

I love New Zealand, I love what it has to offer, and I can think of no better way of showcasing its beauty and naturalness than by using it as a background for my stories.

Who is Catherine Mede?

Catherine Mede lives in a rural village in the South Island of New Zealand with her husband, son and two cats.  She works when she can, doing whatever is available – within reason!  When not writing, Catherine likes to read, draw and work in her garden.

Having developed a love for writing when she was at High School, it wasn’t until she was in her thirties she decided to really get down and dirty with the words in her head.

Romance and Speculative Fiction are what Catherine likes to write about because she understands the need to get lost in a love that sometimes seems mythical.  And adding Fantasy elements just fulfills her needs to be creative fanciful worlds.

When she was younger, she wrote to escape reality, now she writes it to allow others to enter a world where love has a happily ever after.

Catherine has a short story published in a Masters of Horror Anthology and attends writing seminars and groups in her area.

When she is rich and famous, Catherine intends to have a large library which will double as her writing space and own an Aston Martin Vanquish.  (Dreams are Free)

You can contact Catherine Mede through her website www.catherinemede.com and facebooktwitter and pinterest  or email her catherine@catherinemede.com – she loves to have contact with her fans.

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life, writing

Re-forming the habit is hard!

jasdIt’s been a good month or so since I last wrote anything of value. At least, it feels like that long – feels like longer though logically I know it’s not. I’ve had many periods in my life where writing was an unshakable habit. Where I wrote no matter what else was going on. Newborns, sleepless nights, pain, misery, sickness. Academics gets in the way of my creativity like nothing else can though, so it’s an uphill battle right now.

I find it impossible to write creatively while I write academically, but now that the latest batch of assignments are out of the way I’m trying to get back to work on my novel. It’s a struggle, really. But I know I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it again after the next lot of assignments, and the last lot after that. I just wish that re-forming the writing habit got easier with time.

It does not.

So, here I am, reminding myself that I can do this. I can sit down tomorrow morning, find a space of time where the kids are busy with something else and write until I hit 500 words. Because while it’s not tonnes, I know it’s entirely achievable. And I know it will get me a long way towards finishing the scene I am working on right now. And that if I do the same the next day, I’ll probably finish the scene – and that those two little bits of progress will get me MUCH closer to my goal. I will only have two scenes to revise and then I’ll be done. And that is pretty epic.

I can do it. And if I can do it, then you can do it too. Break those goals down and take the first little step.

life, writing

Work in Progress – of the DIY kind

This is one of the kids photos, because I always forget to take 'before' pics. it was the best I could find (excuse the mess...)
This is one of the kids photos, because I always forget to take ‘before’ pics. it was the best I could find (excuse the mess…)

It’s no secret that I am constantly trying to reclaim my household from chaos. It’s also no secret that I’m a busy gal and things never happen as fast as I might like.

We have an older house. 1950’s. It hasn’t been renovated in probably 20 years, and boy oh boy, it needs it. I quite often have several projects on the go, but I’ve finally got to the point where I think the house is more done, than undone (well, as long as you don’t count the bathroom/laundry!).

This past week I’ve been terribly pleased because I have finally eradicated three of the four terracotta walls in the living room. The colour has been annoying me for the five years we’ve lived here, and after painting some walls in our room a nice dove grey, the terracotta was literally making me angry every time I looked at it.

ahhhhhh
ahhhhhh

So now it’s grey too, and there is just one final wall waiting to be papered.

I’m in love, and staring at my beautiful, clean, calming walls, does wonders for my brain. The room seems bigger, and taller and I love it. Don’t worry though, the room is not going to be a ‘white box’. We have some amazing lime green and silver wallpaper for the last wall 😉 I can finally relax a little bit – not too much though, or that wallpaper will never make it on the wall.

Actually, I have the same trouble with novels as I do with renovations – those last little bits are the hardest. I’m just a few chapters off being finished my edits but I can’t seem to get them done. The finishing touches always seem to take me the longest to get to, and then when I do, they are over so fast that I have to wonder what took me so long in the first place!

Hopefully the wallpapering, and the editing, will come together around the same time and I can tick a couple more things off my list in the very near future.

Have you got any ongoing projects at the moment?

NaNoWriMo, writing

It has begun!

Oh hell, I did it again. I must have written another blog post with that title before* because I now have the Mortal Kombat song in my head. I’m going to have to see if I can find the soundtrack on Spotify. Good memories.

Okay, I couldn’t seem to find it on Spotify, but I found it on youtube, so win. I know I still have the CD around somewhere.

Right! Enough getting off topic already!

November has started! And with it NaNoWriMo.

I spent most of the morning setting Ivy up, as I read about the Young Writers Program, and suggested she give it a shot. To my utter surprise, she jumped right in! We’ve set a word goal of 10,000 words. I’ve never seen her so willing to sit down and write as she was yesterday (well, I lie, this morning she rushed through the list of things she needs to do in the morning so that she could get to the computer and start. She just proudly informed me that she wrote Chapter Two in big letters). She wrote just over a thousand words yesterday, which is definitely the most she’s ever written, and seeing the joy and excitement in her eyes has made me so thrilled for her.

I remember what that was like, discovering joy in writing, and I feel really blessed to witness it now.

Anyway, eventually, after a million interruptions, I finally found my flow and managed to clock 1735 words for the first day. While I don’t think I’ll make it all the way to 50,000 words, it’s nice to make the suggested daily goal 🙂

I was looking forward to sharing NaNo with a bunch of my writing friends, but it feels a little more special knowing I get to share it with my big girl 🙂

Right, I better get back into it!

 

*haha yes, I did! Gosh that was a while back. 

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 😉

I’m so happy right now 🙂

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!

writing

An abundance of M’s

Today I’ve been trawling through every file on my computer, Dropbox and Google drive in an attempt to find  something I started writing 3+ years ago. I remembered that it had been an attempt to write something with more of an ‘action’ feel to it, and that it began as an exercise in a creativity workshop thing I was doing just prior to Natalie’s birth – I’d been too tired, too scared, too anxious about trying to write something novel length since Lauren was born, and this particular piece, stemming from a dream I’d had, was a perfect way to cautiously approach a novel.

Of course, I never finished it, because life with a newborn, a 20 month, and a 5yr old is actually kind of insane.

But I thought about it today as I’m in a weird place in life right now – I have some spare time, but I have to start work on another assignment really soon, I have no pressing deadlines hanging over me (for uni, or anything else), and I want to write, but have nothing in progress as such. I’ve finished the drafts of three novellas this year, but I don’t have the time right now to revise any of those, and there isn’t much point in stressing myself out about that right now because I don’t plan on releasing those until late next year…

So naturally my brain went back to that other time when I was in limbo, waiting, and wanting something to play with. And this novel was the thing.

It has zombie babies, and regular zombies too. I’m on a bit of a kick right now and a friend recently said to me ‘you should write your own zombie novel’, so it was inevitable that my brain latched on that old idea.

I never titled this piece, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the main characters names, so I went digging through every forgotten file, every ‘untitled’ document I could find.

And I didn’t find the story initially*. What I did find was that I have a ridiculous tendency to give my female leads names that begin with M. Overwhelmingly so. I had no idea!

Madea is the MC in Sun-Touched, and then we have Melanie from Surplus to Requirements, there is Melody in The Way the Sky Curves, and Moana in Shell and Bone. And then we have Meredith, Marama, Meagin, Megan, Marie, and Melissa from various short stories. And finally, Matilda in the Zombie Baby novel. Yes, I’m just going to call it the zombie baby novel for now. I literally have no idea where the story is going, though I’m sure I’ll have a blast finding out.

Not ALL my novels have M’s in the lead – Delaney is in charge in Saving Tomorrow**, and Lyssa is the female lead in Chasing Ascension… Gah! That might be it? Lord help me. I have an obsession with M names. Someone stage an intervention, right now. I’ll have to go out of my way to pick ANY other letter of the alphabet the next time I start a novel. Well, Samantha is the lead in my next novel, so at least she’ll kind of balance things out…

Save me?

Next time I start something new, I think I’ll put it to you to choose the letter the name begins with, because I need help. Obviously.

*I did find the first couple of chapters, thank goodness, but only because I’d emailed them to Anthony and I hadn’t deleted that email. I’m so pleased that my inbox seems to hold EVERYTHING from FOREVER ago. Apparently sending your stories to other people is the best back up method after all!

** It appears I might also have a thing for titles that begin with S… 

Uncategorized

Skin Deep

SD Tour BannerEarlier this year I got the opportunity to branch out from short story/anthology editing to work on a full length novel, and I’m so pleased it was for the lovely T.G. Ayer. 

I’ve known Tee for a while now, have copy-edited/proof-read some of her work in the past and watched her grow as a writer. So when the opportunity to work with her on the first novel she wrote came up, I had to say yes.

Kailin has always been my favourite of Tee’s leading ladies. Kailin has an awesome attitude and she isn’t about to take life sitting down – whatever challenge is thrown at her she faces head on. She kicks ass, literally. I love her independent nature and her fiery side, and I love the vulnerability that she (tries) to hide from most of the world, preferring that everyone thinks she’s invincible. There is virtually nothing you can do to this girl that will break her, because she will always get back on her feet and fight for what she believes in. You gotta respect that.

But thank heavens she’s a skin walker, and a feline at that – she needs all those nine lives!

If you enjoy your fantasy paranormal/urban with a slice of romance, if you like Skin-Walkers and kick butt heroines who are definitely not damsels in distress, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book. Personally, I think it’s her best yet, though of course I am bound to be biased 😉

Blurb:

SKINDEEPFINALFRONT

Panther Shape-shifter Kailin Odel just wants to be normal. Leaving her clan, and her Alpha responsibilities, to live with her grandmother in Chicago had been the best thing for her.
Only then did she discover her ability to track and kill the soul sucking undead creatures called Wraiths. Now she protected the humans, and had something to be proud of.
But, when she discovers the body of a murdered shape-shifter, Kailin has to come to terms with the reality that her own kind are just as vulnerable as the humans.
The closer Kailin gets to the killer the more she has to face the intricacies of her people.
When the time comes can she accept who and what her real purpose is?

You can grab your copy at Amazon in both digital and print format, and you can check out Tee on Facebook, Goodreads, and her website.

Uncategorized

April begins

The last time I blogged was an entire month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever let the blog go silent for that long, but to be honest, I just didn’t have the energy to say anything at all.

It’s been…an interesting month, I guess you would say. I started back at University and the reading workload was huge. I mean, I was swamped. I’ve finally managed to catch up, but I still don’t feel like I know enough yet. My first assignment is due in 16 days, and I am still gathering information, and wondering if I will ever get to the point where I feel caught up.

March’s main goal was to read Sun-Touched and make a revision plan for it. I read the novel! And I didn’t even cringe too much. It’s a good story but it needs plenty of work. World building is where I fall down, again, so I am doing a lot of thinking about how I can do that – not only for Sun-Touched, but also for my novella. I am planning a second in the same setting, so I really need to bring the town to life.

Between my study brain, and being faced with yet more revision, I felt a bit swamped. I didn’t write the short story that I had hoped to. I got about 1k in and canned it. Aside from that attempt I wrote nothing in March. I did play a lot of Guild Wars 2 though. I’m deep in love with it again, though am well aware that it’s escapism for me. It really helps to switch my brain off from the study stuff which seems to overtake every waking thought if I let it.

Which I guess means I am back to a place of needing to find balance. I’ve been reminded yet again that I need breaks between revision and revision (even revisions of different stories). I am sure there is a sweet spot, but I haven’t found it just yet, and the reality is that there is always going to be more revision to do than first drafting, because every story needs more than one revision. I”ll continue to mull on it anyway – maybe I need a grand story that is written just for me, and I give myself a week of free writing on it between rounds of revision? That could work. I might give it a try.

Anyway, the beginning of April sees me in a better head space. The supplements I am taking seem to be giving me the boost I needed to get out of a depressive state, and I am actually getting stuff done again which feels really good (even if none of it is writing related! lol).

I sat down this morning and said to myself – “time to quit stalling, write something”. So I am now partway through a children’s story. Totally weird that is what’s coming up, but whatever, right. Words are words! I will take them and run with the idea.

Let’s hope April is a tad more productive for me than March was! Hope you all had a lovely easter 🙂

Uncategorized

Another Month Done

I am still getting my head around the fact that it’s March already. I always seem to forget that Feb is a short month – in any event, I managed to get through the revision of my novella, which was my primary goal. Yippee!

University has officially started for the year and I’m struggling to get my head back in the study game. The readings for the first two weeks are ridiculous (6 chapters of the text PLUS articles!) but thankfully it evens out a bit after that (1 chapter a week).

So, with that in mind, I’m taking the next week or so off from revision and am going to spend the time catching up on the other things that need my attention – I have books to read, stories to give feedback on, and study to do. My next major project is also revision (Sun-Touched, my darling, I’m finally getting back to you!) and I feel like it’s important to take a breather between projects. I’m hoping to write a new short story as well, which should be really fun.

Some of my writing buddies are reading my novella this month, so I’m feeling a little nervous and excited about hearing back from them. Feels like a while since I’ve had a critique done, but I guess you get that when you’re working on longer stories.

Right, that’s it for me for now! What have you got planned for March?

Uncategorized

First draft, complete

Well. I’ve been in hiding from the world for a week or so (more or less), so it’s old news to some, but I finished the first draft of Shell and Bone on Friday last week. Am really happy with the way it panned out – loved the surprise my antagonist threw at me in the second to last scene – and feel like everything kind of slipped into place.

Lessons learned? Outlining really does help, even if I have to write a few thousand words before I can really get a feel for the characters. I had a false start in two parts for this novella, hit the wall at around 13K and had to take out about 3.5K words and change a couple other things before I could get stuck back into it. I’m really pleased I took the time to do that, as it has made a stronger story which will need less revision.

I haven’t had the time to read it through since then and probably won’t for a little bit as I have other things to do.

As for my other goals, I’ve been reading Perdido Street Station and am at 75% now (from 30%). It’s a very big book, but I am pleased with my progress. Really enjoying it too,  though I am looking forward to a couple quick reads once I am finished this. I had another false start with the Artists Way, but am doing my morning pages still.

I haven’t yet begun my read through of Sun-Touched, and am still figuring out the best way to do this. It’s my next big task (reading, then making a plan for revision), and I am both excited to get stuck into it, and nervous about it as well.

In the meantime I am rewriting a short story and hoping to have that off my plate in the near future. Until it’s out the door though, it’s my primary writing focus.

How is January treating you so far?