it's live!, Release day, Sun-Touched

Sun-Touched is now live

SunTouched_ECover_10-8-15v2It’s here it’s here it’s here! Sun-Touched has been published! It’s live on Amazon, and slowly coming up on other stores, and for the first time ever, I’ve got the print version available right from the beginning. I’m probably as nervous as I am excited about this. All the things!!!

Anyway, I’ll just leave the cover here again, because it’s so pretty, and note down a couple of other exciting bits of information…

Burn, and The Way the Sky Curves are also available in print now!

At the end of last week I found out that a short story I wrote for an anthology call was accepted. YES! More information to come on that when I’m allowed to say.

I have ordered a bunch of stuff for the Independent Book Festival coming up in October and am now anxiously awaiting arrival of many packages. It’s going to be like Christmas for the next month. Fingers crossed I didn’t stuff anything up too badly… lol. I’m really excited about it, and will post some of the reflections I’ve been having in a few days time when my promo stuff has arrived. Can’t wait to share!

There is so much to be excited about right now – both in my book life, and also in the real world. Spring seems to be making an appearance, and I am loving the recent sunshine. Hope it continues 😉

Burn, Maiden mother crone, publishing, Release day, self publishing, writing

Release day!

Burn Release promo

Burn is now officially available for purchase!

It’s always exciting when a new book hits the shelves. I slept so badly last night though, thinking about potential errors and wondering whether I had made those last minute changes I meant to, or whether they’d been forgotten in the flurry of activity. There is always something forgotten. I’ve never seen an entirely error free MS, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to make it as perfect as I can.

Anyway, I saw the email when I (stupidly!) checked my phone at 330 am this morning. Managed to squeeze in a few more restless hours of sleep before I just HAD to get up and check how it all looked. Gosh. I still love that cover so much. I can’t wait to get my hands on a print version.

I’m trying really hard not to check sales numbers and ranks this time around. I’m this awkward blend of excitement and nerves, and not for the first time, my eldest provided me with words of wisdom in the form of song.

Some people are going to like it, and some aren’t, and that’s fine. I just need to shake it off – dance to the beat of my own drum. I’ll leave you with the song of the day and the knowledge that I’m just going to keep on writing my own stories in my own style. If you do pick up the book, I hope you enjoy it. And if not, don’t worry, I won’t take it personally 😉

Burn, cover reveal, Fantasy, publishing, release

Burn – Cover Reveal

So, next month I’m releasing my second novella!

Burn was originally written a few years ago for a specific market, but due to assignment stress I somehow managed to submit my assignment instead of the novella (thankfully, I ALSO submitted my assignment to my lecturer lol)… It is my grandest stuff up as a writer to date. It gutted me at the time, though I can definitely see the humour in it now 😉

Anyway, it’s a story I love, and I’m super excited to get it out into the world. I know some will say it’s a strange move to publish something so different to my first release, but I love writing in a range of genres, and I want my books to reflect that.

BURN_Final E-cover_JC HART

No parent should outlive their children.  But what if you do?  What if your son’s dying wish is to be burnt in the manner of his people — a people he was taken from as a child?  

Carmel must gather her orphaned grandson and her son’s corpse, and ease her aching bones into the long walk that takes her where she needs to be.  The footsteps of the past nag at her heels as she journeys to once again look upon the face of the Goddess.

in the spirit, life, publishing, study, writing, year in review

2014 Round-Up

It’s that time when people start to gather their thoughts on the year that was and plan ahead for what the new one will bring. I love this kind of thing, so I went digging for my goals post from the start of this year to find out what ridiculous and out there plans I made.

I was pleasantly surprised that I’d been kind to myself. That I had been wise enough to know that study alone would be testing me to my limits.

And it did. In just about every way possible. It’s the first year of study that has ever broken me. I cried far more than I have possibly ever, sometimes for days at a time. There were weeks when every conversation brought me to tears. I very nearly quit. I used the university counselling services for the first time ever.

The content of the courses undid me in a number of ways – personally, culturally, mentally, emotionally – and it was an epic struggle to try and put myself back together again let alone complete the courses. Towards the end I was an anxious, paranoid, depressed wreck who wondered if she would ever get to the end. But I did it. I finished. I passed everything and maintained a B average despite my struggles. I’m once again a functioning human being, though there are still journeys to be made in order to finish working through the crap that study brought up for me. It’s probably a case of it just being a part of life now – questioning and growing and changing. Accepting the bits of me that have felt for a long time like they were deal breakers or unacceptable in other ways. All work I’ve been doing to a lesser extent for some years now, but brought into sharp focus for me this year.

But I made it! I met my major goal which was to complete my Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling), and I’ll be graduating in May next year 🙂 Fuck yeah! I totally earned the right to celebrate and possibly for the first time (academically) I feel like I EARNED this. I BLED for this qualification. And I am rightfully proud.

Despite not setting myself any firm writing goals, I kicked myself repeatedly about the fact I wasn’t making any progress with it. I did some editing on my own work, but couldn’t seem to summon the creativity required to lay down any new first drafts while doing academic stuff. The two just don’t mix well for me. I accepted this about halfway through the year and cut myself some slack. Instead of worrying about writing I focused on editing and kicked In The Spirit into shape, leading to my next big achievement for 2014.

I published my first book.

It might only be a novella, and it may only be available in digital formats but that doesn’t detract from the fact that I have stepped out into the Indie publishing world, and am taking control of my career.

While I started off the year focused on trying to find a traditional publisher, it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. I’d always intended to self pub something, In The Spirit seemed like the perfect first foray. But the more I read about it, thought about it, talked about it with other authors, the more I realized that right now what I want is control of my work, my career. I don’t want to keep waiting for someone else to say yes to me, I want to say ‘YES’ to myself. I want to be doing, not just waiting on the sidelines. This decision was pivotal in getting any work done at all, because it wasn’t until I firmly decided that I wanted to do it that I was able to get organized – amazing how motivating it is knowing that you’re the only one responsible for your success.

A lot of other things happened in 2014. I edited for a number of other people. Read far more works in progress than published novels. Was infinitely busy with the kids and home schooling. Managed to maintain some semblance of sanity and normalcy despite the massive ruptures study created for me. Despite the fact it was a hard, hard year I can finish it off knowing I achieved what I set out to, and then some. I am still here, still strong, still moving forward, despite everything. I survived.

And you know what? That feels pretty bloody amazing.

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.

in the spirit, self publishing, writing

A timely reminder

In the lead up to self-publishing my first novella I’m having all the feels. You know, joy, elation, doubt, fear. There is a bit of conflict going on internally around my desire to actually make a career out of my writing, and the desire to hide it away from the world because it’s never going to be good enough *throws forearm over eyes, drama queen styles*. J.C. Hart wants a career, Cassie want to tell everyone not to buy her book, but to wait until she has free days and just get it then. J.C. Hart loves her books and wants to share them with the world, while Cassie loves them but is sure she’s going to be the only one.

Bleck.

I do want this. I just have to get over my lifelong wallflower tendencies.

As someone said to me recently. Hurry up. Your first release is never going to be amazing, nor is it going to change the world, not even your world, get it done, figure out what you can do better and then do it again.

Well, actually, he just said ‘Fail faster’, but that was what I took away from it.

Until I actually get out there and start doing it, I’ve got no real idea of what is going to happen. I have a feeling it might be a little like having a baby – no matter how many books you read about it, or which classes you attend, you can never really be prepared. Things will be different to what you expect. I have really reasonable, low expectations, but there is no way to predict outcomes in this business.

So, I’ll focus on what I can control. Writing great books, editing them until they are the best I can make them, and then getting them out there into the world.

From: http://agbeat.com/lists/fear-failure-getting-back-horse/
life, NaNoWriMo, writing

Winning!

2014-Winner-Facebook-CoverI am officially a winner of CampNanoWriMo! Woo!

I actually finished off back on June 19th, but it’s been a busy week and I couldn’t ‘confirm’ the win until just yesterday.

It feels surprisingly good, like perhaps I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing. I’ve already sent it out to some readers and feedback so far has been good – this novella will be published towards the end of the year, and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

It’s a rather more ‘fun’ read than a lot of my work, so I’m looking forward to showing you all a lighter side of me 😉 I can do funny! No-one dies! Well, not really… Okay, not going to say any more because it’s just a novella and I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

Can’t wait 🙂 This story had me laughing out loud as I rewrote it, and I really hope that those who read it will do the same. More on that at a later date.

Hope you’re all having a good month! Not long until August is upon us now 🙂

writing

Publishing plans

PSince I spoke about options in my last post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about publishing, and my plans for it. It’s all still very much in the formative stage because I’m knee deep in my last year of study at the moment and find it hard to balance the two of them, but at least planning helps keep me focused on the future and provides ample opportunity to daydream about the months and years to come!

And I cannot wait to be done with study so that I can launch into my writing career.

At present, I’m working on editing mostly, and am submitting my novel Sun-Touched to publishers, sans agent. I wanted to try this first because these days there are quite a few publishers that have open submissions periods throughout the year, and it felt like a good book to take advantage of those opportunities with. I’ve considered trying to find an agent with it, but at this point I’ve got assignments looming and I think I’ll put that stress on the back-burner. I don’t want to add more stress to my life, and from past experience, querying agents can be all consuming. We’ll leave that til I’ve got less going on 😉

So why am I looking at a publisher for Sun-Touched? Well, first up, it’s science fiction, and I’m not yet convinced that science fiction sells all that well when self published (please, if you have some information that differs from this, I’d love to hear it!). Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about it – all my readers have loved it, and this has given me confidence that it could sell well. Thirdly, honestly, I would have to say because it’s what I’ve wanted all along and I guess I see it as kind of a challenge – not so much as that they are ‘gate keepers’ or anything, but a personal challenge, a ‘can I do this?’ kind of thing. I want to know if I can, and in order to find that out, I have to try. If I can’t find a publisher keen to take it, I will definitely self-publish it, because I believe in the novel.

Aside from this I have a series of works, novellas and novels, based on the west coast of New Zealand, that I’m planning on self publishing beginning at the end of the year. I’ve written 3 novellas already, and the first novel is a work in progress. There are about 7 stories lined up for the main story-line, as well as ideas for other stories set in the same world (one of the novellas already written is outside of that main storyline and will hopefully be released at Christmas!). I’m hoping to get most of the editing and work done on the novellas throughout this year alongside my study, as well as the full first draft of the novel. Covers are already in progress with my wonderful designer friend, Leigh, and I’m feeling really positive about where everything is at.

I know a lot of people would be chomping at the bit to get published, rather than having these things sitting around, but not me. Self publishing  has been on my mind for quite some time now, and I always knew that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. For me (and just me, we’re all different) this means having multiple works lined up. I didn’t want to release one thing because it was ready and then have to scramble for something to follow up with. It makes the most sense for me to write a series, and roll them out on a reasonably regular schedule, which is why I’ve been stockpiling the series to date.

And why am I planning to self publish these? Well, first up, they are paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and this seems to be a genre that does pretty well when self published. Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about the series and I think it could do well. Thirdly, much like my reason for trying a publisher with Sun-Touched, I want to see if I can do it. Self publishing provides a whole new set of challenges, and I’m really keen to try my hand at them. I love the idea of having control over these books, and that any success I have will be down to the effort I’ve put into it.

So, when it comes down to it, I guess you can say that my decisions regarding how I want to publish come down to challenging myself, having an awesome product, and looking for the best way to publish each type of work. I don’t think there is a one size fits all for publishing, nor do I believe that you have to stick with one path – do whatever works for you, find your happiness, make your own definition of success and go for that.

Sorry that you’re getting a few posts today – I ended up succumbing to the vomiting bug as well, which knocked me off track again, but this time I had actually had a plan for what I wanted to write about, so I decided to go ahead and write the posts! 

Uncategorized, writing

Options, options, options

Back when I first started thinking about publishing there weren’t all that many options. You wrote a novel, polished the crap out of it and then queried agents. If you were really lucky, you found one, and then they’d submit it to editors/publishers and maybe you’d get lucky and get a contract. It was a long shot, especially for someone living all the way over here in New Zealand, far from the offices of literary agents.

At least even back then you could query SOME by email. If that hadn’t been the case I wouldn’t have sent my first MS off far too early, but that’s a mistake I think many writers have to make.

It was a pretty disheartening time in some ways. I try to be as realistic as possible, and even then there was a lot of information about your chances at getting through the entire process and landing a book deal, but I never let the odds stop me from writing and hoping that one day it would be me.

Of course, now the publishing landscape has changed to the point where there are many more options than I ever knew there could be. Not all the things I learned back then stand true now, and being published doesn’t seem such a far distant goal when at any point you can make the decision to do so yourself and bypass the agents and publishers.

Which isn’t to say that you should do it at the first opportunity, or at all necessarily, I think it’s still important to do the learning, put in the time and effort to become a good writer before you publish. And to look at all the options and weigh them up before making decisions. There is a lot of research involved in this, and it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but ask your friends, find some reputable blogs, look critically at information, and then follow your gut – most importantly though, be honest with yourself.

I’ve seen writers make all kinds of choices – traditional publishing, self publishing, big publisher, small, with an agent, without, a combination of these things, and other things entirely (print, digital, audio… so many options!) – and the ones who are happiest are the ones who’ve looked at the publishing industry, and then looked inside themselves and really been honest about what they want before pursuing their dreams of being published. About what they want and what they are prepared to do to get it.

If it’s your dream to publish with one of the big publishers, then keep working towards it. If it’s your dream to have full control over your works and stay true to your vision of the story, then self publish. If you really want to have a publisher, but want a smaller, more personal experience, go for a small press. If you want everything, all of it, then hey, do the hybrid thing – but don’t change YOUR dreams because someone else tells you they are silly. There are options for everyone these days, so follow your dreams and pick the options that will help you get there.