life, Uncategorized, writing

Things to calm the brain

The past few months have been kind of chaotic. Despite that chaos, I’ve been making good progress on my goals and I think this is in part due to finding things to help my brain along.

You see, I have bipolar 2. My brain can be a bit of a dick sometimes. That’s enough to contend with most days, but add in grief from my Nana dying, prepping a house to sell, selling said house, and packing to move cities among regular life and other things – well, it’s been an interesting few months. I fully expected to fall over at some point and not get back up. I’m still standing. And actually doing better than I have in a very long time despite the aforementioned challenges.

I’ve taken some time to reflect on some tools that helped me – and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear those!

Friend and fellow author, Richard Parry, introduced me to the video below. It’s been a staple in my rotation ever since. I haven’t played the game myself but it’s an excellent meditation.

I played Tales from the Borderlands last year (absolutely stellar game – right up there in my top 5 at present) and discovered this song. It’s gorgeous and when I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and close my eyes everything disappears. Bliss.

And those noise-cancelling headphones? AMAZING. I picked up a set of Backbeats Pro 2 through a reward programme and could not be happier. Sometimes I walk around with just the active noise cancelling on – it dulls the background noises and makes my brain a happier place to live. And when I do want sound? Well, the quality is much better than my old cheap headphones or my tinny phone. SO HAPPY.

20180208_200024Another thing that helps is getting out in nature – I’ve been taking the kids to the park or beach most nights after dinner. They run and play, I make notes for the next days writing or read. Sometimes the view is a little distracting and I don’t get much done – that’s cool too. Brains need time to declutter themselves.

I try and make time to do the other things I love too: play games on my PS4, read books that I actually enjoy, watch a range of excellent TV shows and movies, take time out of the house to be ALONE.

That last one is pretty important. I need time alone. Like, NEED. My headphones give me the illusion of it when I can’t actually be alone, but there is nothing that quite compares to a little solitude. Not for me, anyway.

What do YOU do to keep yourself going?

 

 

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butcherbird, January, new zealand author, Uncategorized, writing

On first readers

Today I sent Butcherbird to my first reader, which is both exciting and terrifying.

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What’s a first reader? Well, some people call them an alpha reader, but either way, they are the first person to read your work. Often, the only person or people to read the first draft in all it’s rough and raw glory. We writers are sensitive souls, so it’s not always good for our writer health to be sharing such formative versions of our work*.

Which means that it’s very important to choose your first reader carefully. Some people opt for a supportive partner (mine does not read fiction, so that’s out), but I’ve found a good one in my lovely friend and fellow author Leigh K Hunt. She laughs at all my jokes, can see past the mess to the gold underneath, to my intention and goals, and gives me excellent pointers for honing it into something beautiful. Butcherbird is a little different from the Kotahi Bay books (no romance for starters!), so I’m going to be hanging out to find out what she says about it – being the first book in a new series the nerves are higher than normal. But…

It’s time.

Time to get some feedback. Time to make a plan for the rest of the series. Time to start thinking about covers and sharing things with you as it gets edited. I’m so excited about this book, folks. I hope you’re going to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve already got the outline for book two, though I think I’m going to wait till after we’ve moved before I dive in. Don’t need to have another big life change happening while I write each of the subsequent books 😉 I’m hoping to knock out a smaller, fun project in that time, so watch this space.

This is going to be a good year. I just know it.

* Some writers are different, of course, and never feel any doubt, but I can’t see me ever being one of those. Others write amazing first copy and while they swear it makes them sweat when they let you read their stuff you can’t help but be sure they are kicking back with a beer waiting for the inevitable praise because their first drafts are just that damn good. Yes, I’m looking at you, Richard Parry.

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.

Uncategorized

It’s Sir Julius Vogel nomination time!

It’s that time of the year again – not long until the Sir Julius Vogel award nomination period ends (Feb 2nd!!). Normally I’m a little more on to it than this, but with everything that’s been going on for the last couple of months, it’s slipped my mind entirely!

So, to cut to the chase, I actually have some stuff eligible this year! I had four releases in 2017, though I don’t think Serafina’s Flame qualifies as the first third was previously published as Burn and was nominated some years ago.

This leaves Beneath Broken Waves or Of Souldust and Starlight in the novella category and In the Earth’s Embrace in the novel category (huzzah! a longer work!). If you read these books and think they are worthy of a nomination, then you can click on this shiny form and fill in the details. It’s pretty straightforward. Please only nominate something if you really did enjoy it though!

I’d also like to note that if you think any of these covers are particularly good (I think they are ALL beautiful), then you can also nominate my cover designer Kate Strawbridge from Dwell Design & Press for best artwork.

Normally I’d make note of some of the amazing work by other authors I think should be nominated but I’ve had a headache for weeks now and I can’t think straight. I need to do some looking around myself to find out what was published in that period so I can get nominating too!

Uncategorized

And the series is complete

I’ve been so busy writing my next book that I’ve slacked off on sharing the good news – Kotahi Bay is finally done! The final book in the series is now available for pre-order at the price of 99c. It’ll go up once it’s live so if you want a bargain get in now.

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The final book follows Samantha, who has been a part of the series since the very beginning. In fact, it was her story that I started out wanting to tell, only to then realize it was the last piece of the series, not the first. Things have morphed and changed a bit along the way, but I’m so pleased to have finally finished this series and given Sam her story.

It feels a little surreal to have finally finished this series, though there is always the possibility that I’ll return to the world of the Bay with fresh stories to tell.

Uncategorized

Beneath Broken Waves pre-order special!

Hey, so Beneath Broken Waves is available for pre-order now, and at a special price of 99c – click HERE to pick your vendor of choice!

The price will go up to $2.99 after the 6th of October, so get in now.

Beneath Broken Waves_ECoverCan they trust each other enough to save a dying god?

Jake’s ability to amplify magic makes him useful to others, but means he’s always playing second fiddle. When he uncovers a toxin seeping into the ocean, he hopes that finding the source might gain him the respect he so desperately craves. That is if he can keep the daughter of the sea from killing him.

Moana has lived beneath the waves for so long she can’t remember what it was like to be human. She knows they’re to blame for the poison leeching into her waters and she’ll do anything to save her father, even if it means taking lives. But when Moana lures Jake into the ocean, something about him stays her hand. This young mortal makes her feel alive again, and what’s more, she has a feeling she can use him for more than just his blood.

BBWblogWill Jake and Moana be able to stop the threat to the sea god, and the Bay?

Beneath Broken Waves is the second book in the gripping Kotahi Bay series by J.C. Hart. If you like evocative paranormal romance with dark undertones then grab your copy and discover the Bay for yourself.

This volume also includes previously published novella In the Spirit, your first introduction to Alyssa, the main character from In the Earth’s Embrace (Kotahi Bay #3).

Kotahi Bay, Uncategorized

Beneath Broken Waves cover reveal

Hey 🙂

So, with the launch of this book in just a few weeks, I thought it was time to show you the cover! It’s so PRETTY!

What do you think? I love Moana, and I hope you’ll love her too.

I’ll post the blurb as soon as I’m done agonising over it (and agonise, I will). This book follows on directly from The Way the Sky Curves – but this time following Jake (Melody’s younger brother), and Moana (daughter of the sea), it also includes In the Spirit, which is an important read to introduce you to Alyssa, the main character of book 3.

If you haven’t read The Way the Sky Curves, go here! It’s available at a range of stores right now for only 99c.

Beneath Broken Waves_ECover

Uncategorized

Long time, no blog

After I tweaked my website a few months back the blog kind of disappeared and I bought into that whole ‘blogging is dead’ thing. But I kept thinking about it, and the thoughts niggled in the back of my mind.

I have no idea if you missed me or not, but I missed this, so I’m back!

I’d like to tell you lots of wonderful news, but I don’t have any. I’d love to say I’ve been crazy-busy getting my next book ready for you, but I can’t even say that either. Life has been full and busy but it’s not leaving me with a lot of space for writing. This space seems to get increasingly small the closer we get to LexiCon.

lexicon

For those that might not know (because I haven’t been talking about it a whole lot on here) I’m the co-chair of this year’s National Science Fiction and Fantasy convention – and it’s happening in just a few weeks now! OMG I have convention packs to make, and a million things to organize, including many things to feel pre-emptively anxious about, such as pronouncing things correctly, speaking in front of a hundred and fifty or so people (insert pukey face here), and meeting best-selling, award-winning author Seanan McGuire (I keep trying to tell myself she’s just a person, but she’s an incredibly COOL person and I’m bound to say stupid things or be incoherent due to the aforementioned stress and panic).

I’m so grateful that we have some awesome people on our ConCom to make the task less daunting, most of us had very little experience going in but *knocks on wood* it all seems to be coming together quite nicely. Fifteen days til I head to Taupo…

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End of April, start of May – stars for writing, hearts for not being awful to myself

Just so you don’t think I’ve been completely flakey, I HAVE been doing some work. It’s just that the amount of said work is shrinking.

I had really high hopes of getting the nearly final draft of Kotahi Bay #2 done before Convention, but I want to produce quality and with my brain the way it is right now I just can’t guarantee it.

Here is photographic evidence (of the work, not my mushy brain).

 

Kotahi Bay, Uncategorized, writing

Tūrangaewawae

A few weeks ago I read through my draft for the second Kotahi Bay book, Beneath Broken Waves, and it felt like coming home. There are really no other words to describe it. I couldn’t stop grinning. I knew these characters intimately, I knew the town so well, it was like kicking around a familiar neighbourhood and seeing a bunch of familiar faces.

Not long after that we went to a homeschooling camp and got to hang out with a huge portion of our crew from back home and it was fabulous, but then I had to come back here, to my new home, without them. And that sucked.

I’m homesick in a pretty big way. And I’ve really struggled to make myself work on Beneath Broken Waves. In fact, it was only a couple days ago that I actually started to make progress, and that was only due to finally making the extremely obvious connection – Kotahi Bay is like home, and any thoughts of home induce massive waves of sadness for me right now. No wonder I don’t want to work on the bloody book!

At the launch of Serafina’s Flame last weekend a friend told me he was surprised about the move because he’s always thought of Taranaki as my tūrangaewawae. If you’re not familiar with this concept here’s a handy link, but basically it translates to ‘a place to stand’. And he’s right, Taranaki is my tūrangaewawae. It’s where my family is, where I have lived the longest, but those aren’t the things that make it my place to stand, it’s hard to put that into words.

backbeach

I didn’t appreciate it like that when I was a teen – desperate to get out and experience the world – but I did when I came home again in my mid twenties. My maunga was always there, a steady figure that dominates the landscape even when obscured by clouds. The beaches with their black sand and their wild coastal winds. The forest, the birdlife, the raw power you can feel in the area. My tribe of family, both blood and those I’ve chosen.

It wasn’t until this morning that I realized how important the concept of tūrangaewawae is to the Kotahi Bay books, but I do now. And even though it might hurt to do the work I’m going to pour my feelings into these books and hope that it pays off. And maybe I’ll find a way to ease the pain in my heart and a new way of standing.

publishing, publishing news, Uncategorized, writing

Book Launch!

On February 18th you can find me at Meow Cafe in Wellington, between 1-4pm (FB Event page here!), where I will officially be launching Serafina’s Flame, along with six other authors and their books at Kiwi Book Feast’s inaugural event.

book-launch-final

I’m terribly nervous as it’s my first book launch, but also excited! Serafina’s Flame has been a long time in the making, and with last year being a pretty awful one on the writing front this is the first book I’ve published in… well, let’s not count, huh?

I’ve never done a physical book launch, so it’s a totally new experience for me. If you are in Wellington, why not come along and say ‘Hi!’, there will be some giveaways and nibbles, and I will do my very best not to speak too fast…

Anyway, if you’d like to get your hands on this book early you can sign up to my newsletter (here). I’m giving all my lovely subscribers a digital copy to say thanks for being so patient with me. If you’ve read Burn and wanted to know what happened next, you’ll want in on this as Serafina’s Flame includes, and continues, what Burn started.

Hope you’re all having a fabulous week!