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.


And, I’m done

IMG_20141011_180820688_HDRAt 5.40pm last night I handed in the final assignment of my Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling) – emphasis on the counselling. I did zero guidance papers, and the only ‘education’ component was a couple of research papers. Not that it really matters. What does is that I am finished!!!


And I couldn’t have done it without you. So, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you. To all of you. The folks who read here, everyone on twitter who has been there when I needed a nudge, my friends and family, my classmates, my husband and kids especially. I’ve been insufferable at times, forgetful of things, neglectful of my blog, sinking to great lows when assignments were due. The volume of panic attacks and level of anxiety over this year has been more extreme than in any recent years I can remember, so that support was vital for me. When I wanted to quit, when I thought I couldn’t do this, someone (often more than one) popped up to remind me I could.

Here’s to you. And me. And awesomeness.


life, writing

Glimpsing life after study

As my study days wind down, I’m catching glimpses of what life might be like once I hand my final assignment in. It’s kind of beautiful, and I’m so looking forward to it. For a long time now I’ve had very little energy for things outside of my immediate focus. It’s been all about the kids, our family, and study, with the occasional round of editing for friends thrown into the mix.

I see a lot more of this in my future
I see a lot more of this in my future

Lately, I can see beyond that though. I see the sun shining, and can imagine having the time and energy to get stuck back into the garden. I can imagine long days at the beach with the kids, being able to let go of the tension and stress I’ve been carrying with me about assignments and grades.

I saw a submission call on twitter yesterday and thought to myself ‘I could write something for that!’, only then realizing how much I’ve missed doing that kind of thing. The last time I wrote a short story, it was The Dead Way, for Baby Teeth. It has been far, far too long.

There are so many projects on hold, just waiting for me to be ready again. I’m almost there. Almost ready. With one last assignment to write, and just two weeks until it’s due, the end is very much in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel is no longer an oncoming train.

authors, interview, life, reading, writing

A Few Assorted Things

Hey! Long time no blog right? I’ve been having a bit of a rough patch and everything is a tad hard right now. I’m in the final slog of my Post Grad Diploma (6 weeks to go!!! maybe less, I’m trying not to think about that too hard!). There isn’t an awful lot of the good writing stuff going on while I try to hold myself together and knock out final assignments, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t wait to get there!!!

So in the meantime, here are a couple things you might be interested in!

The lovely Leigh K. Hunt has Tijuana Nights, the first book in her Nights series, for free at Amazon right now! GO grab it quick because I think it closes really soon. 

Also, the Audio version of Baby Teeth is out now thanks to the awesome people at Dynamic Ram Audio Productions! If you have something creepy a kid has said to share, go comment on this post to have a chance to win your own copy!

And finally, I’m sharing a link for a post I’ve not read the entirety of, but it’s an interview with Beth Morey who is a very talented artist and writer. Her fierce determination to grow and become, and her passion for life are things I find really inspirational. Plus, she’s just a great person. 

I hope everyone else is doing great! I’m hoping to have some fun writing related stuff to share with you in the near future, but for now it’s back to the grindstone – hey, maybe I can finish these last assignments early? lol How can it almost be the end of August?? 

life, writing

The Assignment Zone

I’ve been deep into assignments for the last week – have just yesterday handed in the first, and am attempting to clear my head of culture and counselling, and switch to family therapy. It’s a big shift, actually, and despite having read everything I needed to for the new assignment, do you think I can remember any of it? I think this has confirmed once and for all that as much as I love to call myself a multitasker, when it comes to the big things – assignments, stories, novels – I work far better in a focused approach, tackling one thing at a time.

Academic writing is a lot different to creative writing. I can bang out 500 words of fiction in 10 minutes, but it might take me an hour to do the same on an essay. While there can be a lot of research involved in writing fiction, you never have to stop to make sure you’ve referenced the right source. And the editing! Ack. I find it much easier to let my work flow in fiction, I always fear my academic writing comes across as stilted, though I guess in some ways it’s meant to be that way 😉

I have one week to write this next assignment, and then I get to take a little break from the academic stuff and get back to my novel. I’m seriously looking forward to that, and now, more than ever, pleased that the year is moving quickly and I can count down the months until I’m no longer a student, and writing can take up more time and space in my life.

Bring on October!!


R for Recovery

RI feel like I have been getting over this sickness forever. The road to recovery is sometimes longer than the actual sickness it seems! April, in general, has been a rough month health-wise, and I am very much looking forward to feeling 100% better and getting back to work on my many projects.

First up is assignment writing. I began the first one today and am hoping to blitz it over the weekend so that I can get back to revision (that would have been a good blog post, maybe another time). Now is really when the year starts to get intense for me and I’m filled with some nervous energy about these assignments. The first one is always the hardest in that you’re unfamiliar with your marker, and with the subject matter, opening results is as intense as opening an email from a publisher/agent/market (though those are more likely to contain rejections than passes lol).

Anyway, I am going to do my very best to catch up with the A-Z! I’ve enjoyed it so far, even though it’s been harder than I’d have liked with the health stuff going on. I’d like to finish off the month anyway, even if the posts end up being shorter than normal.

How are you all doing this month? Anything come at you out of the blue? I hope you’ve all managed to stay healthy anyway.

life, writing

Time Out

time-outThe last few weeks have been pretty tough in some ways – I’ve had time to do writing things, but not the energy or the creative drive. It’s a strange place to find myself in after all the (writing) hustle and bustle of the last few months, and while I truly wish I was writing/editing/etc. I’m just not, not really.

At first I thought it was down to lacking a plan. So I made a plan. A really good one.

And then I thought maybe it was impending study that was stressing me out. So I got new highlighters, did some forward reading and got my desk all in place so that I could have a place to keep all my stuff handy.

Neither of these thing was the real issue, though they have been in the past. This time it was more personal, something dearer to me than even writing.

One of my daughters.

I don’t really blog about the family that much here, but some of you will know that she has ADHD along with some other as yet unnamed/undetermined things. Well, actually, her psychologist has called her baffling, and pretty much said she could fit under any number of labels, multiple labels.

We’ve recently decided to give medication another go and I am really struggling with this. I hated going to the Doctors to get the referral, I cried when I got the call from her psychologist. I cried during our meeting (it was just him and I, don’t worry! lol I have no desire to stress my daughter out – which is probably part of the struggle. I have all these feelings, and I have to keep them locked down while she’s around, and because we home school she is always around). I had managed to pull myself together before we saw the psychiatrist, and then steeled myself to give her the first dose.

It’s been an interesting time, watching the changes in her – and I am watching all the time. Wondering if her changes in mood are due to medication, or just her nature. Trying to decipher what is her personality, and what is part of her ADHD. And to be honest, I’ve been really surprised by what is being altered by the meds. Totally not what I expected (but good, if short lived). We’re still working on trying to find the right dosage, but we can already see that something longer acting is in order, and that will be my first call on Monday morning.

I’m kind of tapped out. It’s a little exhausting being hyper aware of what’s happening with my daughter, especially when it changes so often. I only want the best for her, which is why we’re giving this another shot, and she’s a willing participant which goes some way to ease my worries. I keep reminding myself that eventually we’ll have everything sorted (well as much as it can be), but there is no set date at which that will happen, it’s just a hazy point in the future and I wish there was a little more certainty around it all.

And so, I am not writing. In fact, I pretty much took the day off life and played computer games, because sometimes, that’s just what you’ve gotta do.


And so it begins

The University year has officially begun! Feels a bit odd, in a way. Reality is hitting, and I have barely had a chance to think about writing between trying to start the University year right, and other stuff going on at home – no time to think of it, let alone feel guilty that I’m not doing anything writing related. Which, I guess, might be a small blessing 😉

Hopefully it won’t take me too long to find my rhythm, and figure out what days are my best bet to fit writing into the mix. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that I , have to find time for it otherwise I will quickly become a cranky person, and we don’t want that. Trust me, it’s not pleasant for anyone if I go too long without playing with words.


Blogging Challenge begins

So, my dear friend Meryl proposed that we do a month long blogging challenge, and seeing as I’ve been struggling a bit with blogging here, I agreed. As Barney Stinson would say ‘Challenge accepted!’ Over the course of the month there will be a post a day, covering a span of topics (she kindly put together some prompts, yay!).

I’m going to start with something simple that sounds easy but never is. Never. I don’t know why I struggle so much with these, but hey, challenge is worthy right?

10 Random Facts About Me:

1) Currently, my favourite wine is the Crimson Cabernet from Banrock Station. I love it for several reasons. Firstly, I can usually find it on special for about $8/$9 a bottle, which rocks. Secondly, it’s like a red, but one you chill and I really like to drink my wine cold – this is a very happy compromise. Thirdly, and of course, probably the most important – I like the way it tastes. I’m totally open to exploring other reddish wines you drink cold (but I’m not really a fan of the rosés), so if you have a suggestion for a reasonably priced one, do let me know.

2) I fear that I will never pay off my sleep debt. I’m sure this sounds dramatic, but I can count the full nights of sleep I have had in the last 6 years on one hand. One. Hand. I think after the kids are all finally sleeping through the night I will still wake because my body/brain thinks its the norm now.

3) I am so sick of talking about the issues in my life, but I can’t seem to stop myself. There was once a time when I could keep everything locked in, and then I went to counselling, and now it’s much harder to keep it shut down. The lock on my internal safe was busted and I can’t seem to find a new one that fits. Of course, mentally I am much healthier than I was then, but some days I would trade that to just be able to shut up about what stresses me. (big ups to all those wonderful but unfortunate souls who I’ve blurted my woes too! lol wouldn’t be here without you).

4) This is my last planned year of study. I say planned because I am going to try and actively avoid enrolling in any more study for the next 5 years or so, at least, study that costs. I can’t swear I won’t sign up for free stuff… I’m hanging out for Oct 10th when my last assignment of my Post Grad Dip will be handed in, and I’m looking forward to actually attending my graduation. I’m really proud of my academic work and for the first time in my life, I actually want to celebrate that.

5) I won’t get to write an awful lot this year because my study load is so big. This depresses me in a multitude of ways and I know I am going to have to find small tasks I can tick off to keep getting my word fix. That said, I am super excited about having a lot more time for writing once my assignments are all out of the way! Once again, roll on Oct 10th!

6) Facebook makes me uncomfortable. I am a very open person, but I guess most of the time I’m not exactly ‘public’. I’d rather experience it, live it, be there in the moment, than be distanced from the moment by a camera and the desperate urge to upload my life. I post things sometimes because I feel I should, and because I feel like others might judge me for letting an anniversary or birthday slip by without mention. (Oh, is there something going on in the marriage? Why didn’t she blog about their anniversary? etc etc etc…). I’m actually way too busy having a nice time 🙂

7) I’ve been very happily married for six years now! lol seeing as we’re talking about anniversaries. I think we definitely fall into the old married couple category in a lot of ways and I’m totally happy about that.

8) It’s a lot harder to do this than I thought it would be – and I knew it would be hard. I think over the years I’ve listed a bunch of things about me, and coming up with some different stuff is challenging. This has literally taken me all day.

9) I could probably eat pizza for dinner (lunch, or breakfast) every day of the week, but I restrict myself to 1-2 times a fortnight. We home make it, so it’s pretty healthy, but still… Mmmm pizza.

10) Despite claiming at other times that I don’t have time for an MMORPG, I’ve realized that I really WANT one, and finding a game that my husband and I can play together is going to become a priority. I’m playing a new game in closed beta and it kicks ass, but will have a sub when it comes out. The cost of two subs per month would be totally worth it to me if it was something we could do together though – I just have to find something he can fall in love with too. It’s nice to clarify that because I was lying to myself in a way by passing it off as lack of time (we watch TV every night, we could totally be playing a game) that meant I wasn’t playing. I’m a gamer, that’s not going to change. The hunt is on.

Right, and that’s me! First post, done! Certainly flexed a few muscles.


Study goodness

one study guide, and my two textbooks for the year

The sheer giddiness when I opened my door to find not just the textbook I’d been waiting for, but also my first university package at around lunchtime yesterday was enough to make me devolve into a ridiculous fit of giggles.

I don’t know that everyone gets like this when their study stuff arrives, but it’s ALWAYS been this way for me. I can’t help but run my fingers over covers, and flick through the contents, smelling that new book goodness.

Last year I was deprived the joy of a paper version of the study guide, so this year I get the added benefit of being able to justify buying even more highlighters.


MMMMMM textbooks and stationary, and highlighting things.

If there is one thing I’ll miss about no longer studying, it is these things.  I know that fairly quickly that initial buzz of confidence I had upon first scan of the assignments will fade, and the sheer size of the course materials will begin to feel daunting, rather than delightful. But until then, I’m totally going to enjoy the buzz.

University doesn’t officially start until the 25th of the month, but as always, my brain wants to GO and get started RIGHT NOW. I’m going to try and finish off my editing before the temptation to dive into study gets too much, and hopefully the next set of course materials will arrive soon so that I can figure out what weeks are going to be dedicated to assignment writing.

Learning ftw!