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.

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.



I did it! Successfully managed to write to my goal of 20,000 words for the month, which means I ‘won’ Camp NaNoWriMo. Feeling pretty happy about that, though I didn’t quite finish writing the novella which sucks a bit. I thought I would finish it yesterday but ended up spending the entire day in bed with a crippling headache. I have codeine now though, and am actually capable of functioning a little (yay codeine!).

August is lined up to be another busy month. It’s ‘The End is Nigh‘ over at Kiwiwriters and I need to finish the first draft of Shell & Bone, and then make the beginning of Burn as good as the rest of it before submitting. And then I think it’s back to revision on ‘The Way the Sky Curves’. Which I guess makes it a month of novellas. Will be super nice to have them all at the next stage of writing though, and puts me well on the way to completing my goals for the year.

How was July for you? And what are you planning for August?


Regaining Momentum

Once again, it’s been a long time since I posted anything – I appear to be making a habit of this! Now it’s time to crush that habit and start forming some new ones.

Study this year has been a whole lot harder than last, and I still have many months ahead of me. However, I have made the decision not to let it kick my ass anymore, and not to let it keep getting in the way of making the writing progress I want to. I’ve been feeling really frustrated these last few months with my inability to balance my academic writing and my creative writing, but I think what I was lacking, was focus.

And now I have it. I’m not laying out all my plans here, but I DO have some, and hopefully it will be a way to keep me on track – keep writing, revising, editing. I’m currently madly in love with the series I am working on – paranormal romance set in  a small fictional NZ town – so that’s my primary focus at the moment. I’m not setting aside Sun-Touched, by any means, but I don’t have the right amount of head-space right now to rework it. As long as I have these assignments piling up, I think sticking to the more ‘fun’ easy writing is probably the best idea.

Fingers crossed it pans out! Better get back to some work hey?

How is everyone else doing? Is the year flying for you? Are you hitting your goals, or making new ones?



I will be the first to admit that my routines have been terrible. TERRIBLE. I’ve tried to just ‘go with the flow’ and fit everything into a regular day without getting too stressed about progress, but quite frankly that has resulted in me wasting a lot of time and then rushing to finish things at the last moment.

I am sick of being one of those people. I work very well under pressure though, so it’s a hard habit to change.

Anyway… while we wait for Ivy’s exemption to come through, I figured it was a good time to start pinning down some kind of routine (for me). I have many things to juggle, and I’m not willing to downsize any more of my life. After mulling it over for awhile, a very simple plan seemed to evolve.

If I can do my reading and study stuff during the day, while the kids are reading, or doing their own thing, I can then schedule an hour of writing time in the evenings. One hour a day, without also being aware of the kids, or being called away every 5 seconds, is actually AMAZING. But it hasn’t been until recently that this was possible. Finally, our kids are all going to bed at a reasonable hour, and there is enough time in my evening not only for me to hang out with Hubby, but to take some time for myself as well.

That’s pretty wonderful. I’m really excited by this new plan. I mean, it’s still very flexible, but it’s way more structured than it’s been until now. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Do you have a dedicated writing time? How do you balance your commitments?


And then it was May

It was almost 9am this morning before I realized we’d entered a new month. A bright, shiny new month. I love those. Aren’t we lucky to have 12 of them every year?

I’m feeling a little silly this morning (in a good way). I have this huge smile on my face and I’m filled with zest for most things. For starters, April was actually pretty successful. I looked back on my first post of the month and checked in with what I wanted to get done. Despite my slackness, I finished Sun-Touched, which was my primary objective!

I also planted a garden, made my new office space my home (my book shelf is where the TV was! yay!!!), purchased a second hand sewing machine (an old Singer, in a table – love it), day dreamed about upholstering my office chair, started writing my first essay for my Counselling paper, polished and submitted a short story, and many other things.

One of which was to enjoy the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2. I LOVED playing the game. I tried out a bunch of the classes, and all the races. I love it. LOVE it. Can’t wait until the game is actually released, and am very excited for the next beta weekend as well – hopefully the other two races will be playable!

I was meant to have the whole weekend off after finished Sun-Touched. And it was my intention to. Strangely, I really missed having a work in progress though. Missed having a novel to use as my home base. So really, it was just Friday that I took off. Saturday rolled around, I played in the beta, attended my writers chat in Google Hangouts, and um, opened all my documents relating to TCM.

For some reason, something this simple has really confirmed for me that I AM a writer, through and through. I could have spent all weekend delighting in GW2, but I spent quite a lot of time playing in my own world, tracing character arcs and solidifying plot lines. I love Mel, the main character, and I am loving figuring out how to make her story the best it can possibly be.

A week ago, I would have said to you that May would be the month I’d finally finish Sun-Touched. Get my essay completed and sent in, and then spend the rest of the month planning. I need to fully outline the novella that I’ll write next month, as well as finish off the planning for TCM.

Now that goal has shifted slightly. I still want to do all those things, but I also want to revise the first 10,000 words or so of TCM. (Funnily, that’s in line with my post from the first of April! – I’m amazed how sometimes things work out to plan, even when you think they can’t possibly). I don’t know if I can get it polished to submission standard by the end of the year, but I am certainly going to try.

What has May got in store for you??


Writing update

I’ve had a bit of a lull again – it seems that the ‘I Sucks’ are doing the rounds at the moment and I had my dose. Thankfully, I’ve moved on from there and am stuck back into my work.

I have a few things going on at the moment, though most of my time has been spent rehashing the structure of MN – I’ll keep calling it this for now, but I need a title that better reflects the tone of the story, so at some point, it will change! – I was trying to do it in a spreadsheet, but then got frustrated and got some memo paper. It was the closest thing to index cards I could find at the supermarket.

I should confess right now that I have never used index cards before in my life. It has always sounded like a cumbersome and difficult way to do things. I just never *got* it. So you can imagine my surprise when yesterday I had a desperate desire to use them…

I’m using them to figure out which scenes go where. I have the beginning and end done, I just need to finish filling out the middle so that it’s not flabby. I’m working off the three act structure, the pink slips being my intro, 1st doorway, 2nd doorway, and big show down scenes. It’s actually really cool to see it there on the wall, and I think it will helps loads when I get around to the next draft.

At the moment, I’m looking at starting in March because there is an editing challenge on over at Kiwi Writers for 20hrs in the month. I’m going to be doing the editing anyways – might as well get a shiny badge out of it! lol I may get stuck in before then, but I have a couple of things to finish off this month still.

Top of the list is a short fantasy story that I’m reworking, The Comfort of Wood. I love this story, so I’m hoping that I can get it finished off in the near future.

I’m also tossing around ideas for my next big project. This requires some serious thinking about where I want to head as a writer. So many options, all of them tempting and delicious. At least I’m not limited in any way 😉 freedom to choose my own path is something I want to celebrate, which ties in a little to my guest post over at Amy Rose Davis’ blog. It’ll be up at some point – I’d give you a better idea of time but I suck at figuring out time conversions 🙂


Say what?

No, it can’t be a month til Christmas Eve, it just can’t. There has to be more than a week left in November, surely! What’s happening to time?

I feel like hiding under the covers until it’s 2011, because otherwise there is just too much to do.

I still have to get the Christmas shopping done. There are a million things around the house that need organizing (gardens, mess/clutter, fence, arg!). I am meant to have this novella done before Christmas, and then there is the new novel I had penciled in to begin in December.

Gosh, December is so close now…

It’s going to take a miracle to get through that list. But I’ll be giving it my best shot. I need to clear some of the junk out of my life so that 2011 starts off well. I don’t typically do New Years resolutions, but I do like to start the year with things in order.

What about you? What needs doing before 2011 hits? Got any resolutions or goals for it?


Day One, Project: Me first!

Yesterday I set out on my new plan – putting my writing ahead of the crit work and other writing stuff – and I feel really good about it!

Not only did I manage to write about 1,000 words on TCM, but I also got some crit work done. I think that by feeding my soul, doing the thing that I love first, I’m actually going to be more productive in general because I’ll be making progress on my own stories.

I should have realized this earlier, I know, but sometimes when you’re sleep deprived and run off your feet, obvious things don’t seem so obvious!

I’m going to continue on like this, along with things like limiting the time I spend absently browsing the internet. Instead I’ll be making the most of the limited time that I do have. I think I’ll be more motivated to do that now that I’m making headway on TCM.

Anyways, it’s 530am, and I think Lauren’s done crawling around and expending energy (we’ve been up for an hour…) so back to bed!


Another beautiful day

I am loving the weather lately. The fact that I can hang washing outside, not wear a jersey and go out without people giving me those ‘why on earth aren’t you wearing shoes?’ looks. It’s just so nice 🙂

I got more writing done last night! So I’m now sitting just over 91K. Feels good to have put another thousand words into the novel and I know that I’ll be able to keep adding to it day by day until it’s done.

What comes next? Well, when this draft is finished I’ll be putting it aside for a little while (well, apart from sending it to a couple of people who have been waiting a long time to read it). I’m going to pick Lifelines back up and give it another read through, make notes on it, see which bits I think need reworking and start the process for that. Once again it’ll be a learning curve but that’s half the fun of it all! I’m not really sure what to expect from it, but I’m looking forward to it all the same.

There is a long list of work ahead of me, and it’s nice to know that there will always be something writing related to do. There is no end, there will always be something to write, to rework, to edit.

So, onto this mornings funnies….

I was watching Clifford the big red dog with Ivy this morning and I commented to her that when I was a little girl I used to like Clifford too. She turned to me and said, you know, when I used to be big like you, I used to like the news.

She cracks me up lol. I love her concept of time, how it’s non linear. She is always talking about when she used to be big lol and no amount of explaining seems to work when it comes to straightening that out. Ah well, it’s all good!

Also, I just got an email back from my Dad. I am pretty sure that hes under the impression that LOL means ‘lots of love’ because he often signs off text messages/emails with ‘LOL Dad’. It’s so cute. I can’t bring myself to correct him.