Saturday, December 29, 2012

What a year

Hi all! Hope you are all having a fabulous festive season however and wherever you're celebrating! We had the most amazing Christmas over here, with all the people we love around us, lots of scrumptious food (too much actually), and heat, oh my god the heat! Here in Wellington, we had the hottest day we've had since 1934! 1934! It got up to 31 degrees Celsius, which, for a country like Australia, is totally normal, but for us it was almost unbearable - our average summer is about 25 degrees. And yet, we still played touch rugby outside in the sun...
So despite being tucked up in bed by 8pm on boxing day with a full stomach, a little bit of sunburn and feeling tired and extremely grouchy, it was all totally worth it.
And now it's all over for another year so I think it's time to reflect on the best bits of 2012 in the life of You May Say I'm a Dreamer, since I won't be posting until January 7th as I'm off on holiday tomorrow!

Made friends with the bees and ate manuka honey straight from the hive.

Said goodbye to the Wairarapa, which had been my home for nearly a year and a half.

Was reminded of how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful country when we went on a hike up a hill that nearly killed us.

I settled back into Wellington nicely and tried out my new/old Agfa camera around the city.

Joshua and I became models for a day for my sister's school photography project.

I celebrated my 24th birthday with a homemade Italian feast.

I started my Wednesday Writers series, which introduced me to a whole lot of fabulous authors over the next few months.

My sister, mum and I went on the hunt for the perfect vintage ball dress for my sister.

Joshua and I got well and truly settled into our new home, our first place together.

My body decided it didn't want to eat meat anymore, so I became a pescaterian - a vegetarian who still eats fish.


I participated in National Novel Writing Month and won! I now have a 50,000 word novel waiting to be edited.

Summer arrived!

Have a fabulous new year everyone, stay safe, be merry, and I'll see you in 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas is all around...

The Christmas tree is up, the presents are being wrapped tonight, the mall is a nightmare, Christmas tunes are being played everywhere... one week to go people, are you excited?! Tempted to watch this movie, got to be one of my favourite movies, and this guy is the best, loved him in Love Actually, fell for him even more in The Boat that Rocked. Hilarious.

Our Christmas tree!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Happy Monday all! Hope you all had a fab weekend. We spent ours in a haze of heat, barbecue smoke and rays of sunshine with sand between our toes and salt in the air. Ahh summer...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for

My job is a very solitary one. I sit at my desk with my headphones on because I work better with a bit of music on to get in the zone and inane office chit chat doesn't do much for me. I communicate with my colleagues over email because they're scattered all over the country.
In terms of the work I do, I have nothing to do with the other people in my office - I work here because it's convenient and my job is portable.
One of those other people in my office, as I was sitting in the staffroom at lunchtime reading the other day, came past and said to me, "You're very quiet, aren't you?" And she stood there, actually waiting for an answer. No, "Hello, how are you?" or anything like that. Just "You're very quiet, aren't you?" I haven't had anyone say that sort of thing to me for a couple of years now - I thought people stopped caring about that kind of thing when you become an adult - so I was caught off guard a little bit, and just said, "Yep, guess I am..." But that wasn't enough for her. She went on to analyse the situation, saying things like, "I suppose we're a bit of a chatty bunch, aren't we?" "I suppose with the work you do you don't need to talk to anyone, you just stare at your screen all day, while we interact with people."
Um... yep, that's me, just staring at my screen all day, not doing awesome work like you, not putting on a fake smile and laughing at things you don't even think are funny just to get a sale.
If I was a loud, obnoxious person who says everything they think, I would have replied to, "You're very quiet, aren't you?" with something like, "You're very loud, aren't you?" Or how about, "You talk about dogs a lot, don't you?" or, even better, "You love receiving pity from your workmates about your marriage breakup and your useless ex husband by talking about it all the time, showing people the text messages, and talking to friends on the phone about it during work time, don't you?" How does it feel, being judged for being the person you are? Huh?
But I'm not that person. I wouldn't say those things. But I was certainly thinking them.
I've always been a quiet person, but I most definitely am not shy, and I don't lack confidence at all. I used to be shy as a kid and lack a huge amount of confidence as a teenager, but I'm over all of that now, and I'm just a quiet grownup. Yes, I'm a bit of a hermit, I don't like crowds too much, one of my favourite pastimes is curling up with a book, I don't do small talk, and I don't mind travelling alone. I don't say everything I think, only the things I think are worth saying.
I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but for some reason, even in adulthood, people still judge the quiet ones. They think we're shy, they think we lack confidence, they think we're bored.
No, no, no. We just want the words that come out of our mouths to mean something, we're confident when we need to be, and we're not bored, we're people watching. And during all of that, we're thinking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo: What next?

On finishing NaNoWriMo, I spent a blissful weekend doing not very much and not thinking about very much. As the next week began, I decided my novel and I needed some distance. We had spent far too much time together and needed a break from each other - personal space, you know? So we agreed to go our separate ways until January. Now, even though life is moving at quite the frantic pace, the few moments I have spare are spent wondering what on earth to do with myself now that I don't have a goal of 50,000 words to work towards. In those moments, all I can think about is getting my hands on those printed pages and a red pen and getting to work.
So, sure, I'm less than two weeks out from a two week break, and sure, editing is part of my day job, but screw it, I'm starting now! I suppose I can justify it by saying, I want to keep up the momentum, right?

I've decided to take up Createspace's offer of five free paperback copies of your novel for NaNoWriMo winners, but I have to have it ready before June...

So, 144 doubled-spaced pages printed, annnnnnd go!

"I’m a little nervous about all this you know. What is she playing at, seducing the nicest guy on the planet? Not that he would take much seducing - he’s absolutely smitten with her, it’s written all over his face when he looks at her, his body language when he talks to her.
I wish I could do something, stop the poor guy from getting hurt, but I can’t, I’m just a jar of jam. All I can do is watch as the foundations of this little town begin to crumble.
Oh Lily, I’m glad you came back, but you don’t realise what you’ve started."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two weeks to go!!

♥Barbecue♥Sunshine♥Family♥PicnicsBackyard cricket♥Cooked breakfast♥Fruit♥Cheesy Christmas music♥Pohutakawa trees♥Barefeet

♥The Kiwi Christmas

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Last night my family and I had dinner outside and we raised our glasses to Summer before sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows! It was just what the doctor ordered after a crazy busy week and a similarly crazy weekend. Hope yours was lovely too xo

Friday, December 7, 2012

Things NaNoWriMo taught me

National Novel Writing Month has been over for a week now, and I have to say, I kind of miss it. I miss having a big goal to work towards, I miss making up random storylines and having the freedom to put anything I want down on paper, I miss that rush to the finish when I get to be a bit of a bitch and leave the house in a mess and the cupboards empty. But I do love knowing that I finished something.
I'm a major project person, I'm an ideas person, I'm a list person. My favourite feature of my new smartphone is the memo pad. However, I have a bad habit of making lists and starting projects, and moving onto the next one before the previous one is finished, or even halfway. There are empty canvases leaning against the wall at home, on which I know exactly what I'm going to paint but haven't got around to it yet, there's a half finished painting sitting on newspaper with paint and brushes beside it ready to be used, my computer is full of files with notes, research, and unfinished manuscripts sitting there waiting for me.
So although my novel is nowhere near fit to be read by anyone yet, the point is that I finished it. I have never written 50,000 words of anything in my life, ever. So for that, I'm proud of myself.

So here are some of the things NaNoWriMo taught me:

Write a story about what you know, something that requires no research, so you can spend more time writing, less time researching
Don't be afraid to make things up, no matter how ridiculous
Write with the knowledge that no one is going to read your first draft
Being descriptive about everything not only makes up words, it also makes you braver with your writing. In writing my other novel before NaNo, I avoided being too descriptive for fear of boring my readers, but when I did NaNo, I found myself being over descriptive in order to make up the words, which was a good thing because I can edit it down later, and I know now that it's better to have too much than not enough because it means you have something substantial to work with
NaNo is all about the word count, which, for non-finishers like me, was a fantastic learning curve, because it forced me to just get the damn words on the page and worry about sculpting them later

The most important thing NaNoWriMo taught me? That I am capable of fulfilling the dream I've had my whole life, of writing and publishing a novel.

Naughty blogger

Guys! Sorry for the lack of posts this week! It's been a crazy one with things at work getting busier as we rush towards the end of the year, fitness classes and gym visits happening every day, and generally being knackered at the end of it all - the amount of takeaways we've been having lately is shocking, there's barely time to eat dinner at the moment, let alone cook it! I'm sure most of you are feeling the same though. Isn't it crazy how busy it gets around this time of year, a time of year that, here in the southern hemisphere at least, is supposed to be a relaxing time spent soaking up the sun (although, you wouldn't have guessed it was summer after what happened in Auckland yesterday) Oh well, you don't get something for nothing, and I guess working so hard towards a relaxing summer and festive season makes it all the more worth it in the end.
So, as an aplology for being such a naughty, slack blogger this week, here's some vintage loveliness I've collected on Pinterest for you, to put a smile on your dial in preparation for the weekend. (And, as promised, there will be a NaNoWriMo post coming later today!)

Happy weekend peeps xo

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Hello and Happy Monday! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! Well, we had the first two days of summer... which felt more like the first two days of winter. But on the bright side, we got a pretty sunset to look at last night, and sometimes it's nice to have a wintery weekend when things have been so busy lately so you have an excuse to stay inside, bake some muffins, watch some TV and just relax and enjoy the last free weekend you're going to have until a New Years trip away... weehoo can't wait for that one! Lake Taupo, hot springs, massage, sunshine here we come!
Have a fabulous week peeps!

Friday, November 30, 2012


I'm done! I'm done! I'm done!!! I just wrote a 50,000 word novel. Well, 50,137 words to be exact! I can't believe I just wrote a novel. In one month, I did the thing I've been wanting to do since I learned to read. I wrote a novel. And I finished it! I won't go into too much detail right now because my head is spinning - but next week I promise I'll share my experience with you guys and tell you what I've learnt, give future NaNoers some words of wisdom and maybe even share some of the better parts of the novel. But right now, I'm at home by myself, so I'm going to turn this song up loud and do a little dance in my living room - who am I kidding, it's gonna be a big dance y'all!
Have a fab weekend! And feel free to join me in my boogie, wherever you are in the world xo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Patricia Dorsey

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from poet Patricia Dorsey, a southern woman with an intense love for where she lives, Mississippi.

Name: Patricia Dorsey
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in Tupelo, Mississippi, which is located in the beautiful Mississippi "Hills". Tupelo is also the birthplace of Elvis Presley. I must say that this region has the most beautiful landscape, wildlife and scenery .The warm hospitality of the people and the unbelievable southern food, along with great weather (mild winters) , makes it one of the most amazing places to live.
Author of: Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories and Musing
Books available: Online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and can also be requested from any of your local bookstores.
Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a proud Mississippi Girl...a True G.R.I. T (Girl Raised In the South) I am a 1982 graduate of Tupeo High School. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University. I lived for over 18 yrs in Memphis ,TN working in the mental health field and returned home in 2007. My first book of poetry wes published in 2008. I am 48 yrs old and loving every minute of the Fabulous Forties!!! I love thriftshop shopping and call myself a Diva on a Dime. I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sprority, Inc. I am married to my wonderful best friend, James Dorsey. We just celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary this past September. We have one son, Henry, who is thirteen. I certainly cannot forget the other beloved member of our family, our Miniature Schnauzer, Happy. I am an avid reader and passionate writer.

Tell us about Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories and Musing: I call both of my books, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A life in Poems and my latest, My Magnolia Memories and Musing - In Poems, a "celebration of the south and things southern". Through my poems, I try to give a positive, up close and personal glimpse into the southern way of life.

What sparked your passion for poetry? I have always loved poetry. My father used to recite poetry to me from a very young age. I vividly remember him reciting poetry to me as he would be shaving, getting ready for work and on the weekends when we spent a lot of time together.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? The two books that made a huge impact on me growing up were I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody. They were two books that I deeply related to. I was amazed to see "my world" described so vividly within the pages.

What was the seed of inspiration for your books? With both of my books , the inspiration for me has come from the beauty of the place that I call home. The people, country living, beautiful childhood memories and the wonders of everyday life spark somthing deep inside of me.

Is there a message in your poems that you want readers to grasp? I really want readers to understand that there is more to Mississippi than all of the negatives so usually talked about and portrayed. There is MUCH to love about Mississippi and the southern way of life.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Poetry has often been referred to as the "step-chid" in the book industry. People always told me that it is a very "hard-sell". It can be very difficult to get people to review poetry and to promote it.

What has been your best moment as a writer? I would have to say that one of the highlights has been being contacted by a representative of the President asking if my book could be considered for use as an official gift from the President if it were to be chosen for a specific occasion. Ultimately, it was not chosen at that time. But it was such an honor for it have even been considered. Hopefully, it/they will be reconsidered in the future. You never know!

Who is your poet idol? Maya Angelou. She is absolutely amazing! I was so excited to finally get a chance to see and hear her in person at a benefit event in Memphis this past summer. The experience of "sitting at her feet" was much more than I could ever have imagined.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? I try to follow the advice that I always give to others: Just Do It  Get on It!

What does your workspace look like? I actually don't have a certain place or time to write. I mostly write when the inspiration or "muse" strikes me. Though it goes against most practical advice to/from writers, I rarely just sit down with intentions to write a poem. My very first poem came to me in my sleep. I woke up and scribbled it down. The rest, as they say, is history. It might be hard to believe, but I would say about 80-90% of all of the poems that are in both of my books came to me as I was riding in my car. I usually tried to scribble them down the best way that I could.

Do you write anything else besides poetry? I do write some everyday thoughts on my blog and I do some freelance writing for a couple of magazines. But, other than that, it's all poetry.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I am a homemaker, wife and mother. That is a 24/7 full -time job.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? I think that the best thing that I learned or anyone could learn is how to think...not WHAT to think ...but HOW to think. Especially in college, I learned how to really process information and how to use it properly...

What advice would you give to other poets? Find your own unique voice. Listen to it. Don't be discouraged by what others might think you should write or how they you should write. Write from your heart. You can't go wrong if you do that.

Well friends, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and this is the very last author interview I have in my collection to share with you. So to all of my lovely Wednesday Writers, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks for sharing your wonderful stories with me and You May Say I'm a Dreamer readers. To my readers, thanks for stopping by each week and for all of your friendly and positive comments.
So what's next, you may ask? Well, I have a bunch of exciting things coming up in the new year, and, as 2013 is set to be one of the most exciting, crazy and adventurous years of my life so far, You May Say I'm a Dreamer is going to see a lot of change and excitement, so stay tuned!
Sarah xo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Four weeks to go!!

I think it's officially time to get excited about Christmas people! Four weeks to go and counting! So I hope you guys aren't Christmas haters because I plan to do a weekly Christmas post, because, yes, I am a Christmasaholic.

Right about now the highly organised will have their lists sorted, and their Chritamas shopping action plan in place. The highly unorganised will be set to tear their hair out on Christmas Eve, wondering, as they do every year, why they didn't get organised this time.
Every year I tell my family "I don't want anything for Christmas, just as long as we have some good food, the family is all together and the sun is shining I'm happy". But we still get each other presents for fear of that moment when someone asks "what did you get for Christmas?" and you reply "nothing" and they look at you like you're poor and/or unloved.
But still, the best part about Christmas has always been the food, the family and the sunshine (when we're having a lucky year - fingers crossed for a scorching hot Christmas Day like last year!). If we have those three things, that's all we need in my opinion.
So although I would love to live in a society where presents are at the bottom of the list of important things at Christmas time, I don't. So I'm one of the highly organised ones who starts listening to the little things people mention they might like from about October and start my shopping in November because it's always nice to get a well thought out present from someone you love. Something you never knew you wanted but suits you completely.
So how about you? Have you thought about Christmas presents at all yet? Do you do extravagant or go by the theory 'good things come in small packages'?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Morning all, hooray for Monday! And a beautiful sunny Monday at that if you're lucky enough to be in NZ! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I feel like I haven't stopped... Saturday: Went to a part of Wellington I've never been before - Mapuia - to go to an open day at Wellington Prison, which is closing so it's all empty and weird; had a pizza night with friends, then went to my first ever James Bond movie with them all. Sunday: Ignored the sunshine and stayed inside all day writing for NaNoWriMo, made it to 35,000 words; made apple crumble for the first time ever and it turned out amazing, possibly the best apple crumble I've ever tasted, and took it to the parents' house. And now all of a sudden it's Monday and, like most Mondays these days, I feel like I need another weekend to get over this one... but guess what, it's only FOUR WEEKS until Christmas Eve! Which means a whole two weeks off work for me!
Hope you all have a fabulous week! 50,000 words here I come!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Feel good Friday

Painful is the first thing that comes to mind when describing this week. But it's a good kind painful. Shins, calf muscles, arms, elbows, neck, abdominals , and elbows are hurting like a bitch after getting my butt into gear and kick starting my fitness with an outdoor fitness class run by my brother's girldfriend called Fury. Man it's hard. Yesterday, within about half an hour, we had to do 100 push ups, run forwards 700m, backwards 300m, 200 saddle jumps, and 200 squats. I didn't do it all, but I did most of it, and am feeling super sore today, but I know it will be worth it in the end.
Joshua and I are doing it together, so it's great being able to support and encourage each other, and now that we've got through the first two sessions - which I'm told are the hardest, apparently it gets easier from here - we're feeling good, despite the old person grunts that happen when we get out of a chair... and out of bed... and when I have to lift my arms higher than my shoulders...
My brain has also been working hard this week, because I've been tanking NaNoWriMo - 28,006 words so far! Not quite on target yet but I'm confident I'll make it to the 50,000 by the end of next week. The story is really starting to take shape and build up to its climax - what's going to happen? I dunno... But it's going to be something big, something near-death, something that reveals the truth about everyone and opens old wounds and pours salt in them...
If there's anything I've learnt from this whole NaNoWriMo thing, it's to not spend to much time planning - if any - not to restrict yourself to a specific storyline, to just let the characters form and take you where they like. That's the exciting part about it, the not knowing where you're going but knowing it's somewhere exciting. It's like some otherworldly force talking to you, telling you what to write and saying, "trust me, I have a point, this will all make sense in the end, just go with it."
Have a fabulous weekend peeps xo

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NaNoWriMo update

After a very unproductive second week on account of being preoccupied for reasons I can't (yet) discuss, it's been a very productive third week with the creation of an inspiration wall - the wall above my dining table being covered in postit notes, with ideas contributed by Joshua and myself. I'm now up to 26,709 words, so I'm over halfway, but not yet where I need to be.

The best part about week three: Cracking the halfway point and really getting to know my characters.
The hardest part about week three: Keeping the story interesting so I still want to keep writing it.
The funniest part about week three: Joshua getting a wee bit jealous of one of my main characters, a charmingly handsome irishman named Patrick Murphy, to be sure...

The cafe is always a happy place on a Friday, and I always delight in seeing the customers’ happy faces as they come in for their morning treats and pick-me-ups.
I especially delight in Patrick’s arrival, because he’s just so nice to look at. Even wearing scruffy clothes and work boots, he always looks a picture as he leans casually on the counter and flashes Joan or Janet a big Irish smile full of charm. Sometimes if one of them says something funny his big brown eyes will crease at the edges and a wavy lock of thick chocolate hair will fall over his eye, which he pushes back with a work roughened hand.

You guys... you know how I love New Zealand to the point of obsession? Check out what happened yesterday! For the second time this year! Wow. The power of mother nature just blows me away. Love this place.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Mary Merrell

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from Mary Merrell, an animal lover who has spun an interesting tale about people who can communicate with animals, called Affinity-Bird in a Gilded Cage.

Name: Mary Merrell
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in the Central Valley of California, Modesto, which kind of has a bad reputation. I love it here because it gets really warm, and the growing season is so, so long.
Author of: Affinity-Bird in a Gilded Cage
Book available: Amazon

Tell us a bit about yourself: I turned fifty this year. Shocking. Sometimes, I can’t believe that time has gone so fast. I live in the Central Valle, been married 23 years and have two grown sons. Right now we have two dogs and four cats. Just picked up a stray kitten, and she’s a little wild.

Tell us about Affinity-Bird in a Gilded Cage: It’s a Young Adult Urban Fantasy about a young man, Talon who has a strange relationship with crows. They follow him around. He uses this talent to find out who is burglarizing his uncle’s neighbourhood, but discovers something more sinister. With new friends, Iris who communicates with snakes, and Chloe who communicates with raccoons, Talon goes on a mission to stop the robberies. Along the way, he learns not all things are as they seem, and meets a group of people like him.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? Always had stories in my head, since I can remember. I have certain expectation on how stories should go, how my heroes and villians should act and what better way than to write them myself.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? I can’t pinpoint one book that has changed my life, but my favourite author is Lois McMasters-Bujold. Her books did affect how I write and develop my characters.

What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? I decided to write a book that didn’t include ghosts or vampires and came up with this short story about Talon. This may sound corny but, when the NaNoWriMo came up that year, I asked God for a sign if I should write this young adult urban fantasy or continue on with Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. A few nights later I was awaken by my dogs barking like crazy. I thought one of our cats escaped the cat fence, so I went outside. The biggest raccoon I ever was on our roof. Now, we’ve lived in this house for twenty-three years and never have I seen a raccoon in the neighbourhood. Chloe’s affinity animal is a raccoon. Bam, there’s my sign.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? There really isn’t one main message, maybe using your God given talents to do good. But there is something that I hoping to make people aware of. I can’t say what it is, because it would be a spoiler.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Finding the time. I work full-time, and my husband and I started a little business too. And marketing, that is a full-time job too.

What has been your best moment as a writer? Getting that out of the blue email from a happy reader asking when the next book is coming out. Makes my day.

Who is your author idol? Lois McMasters-Bujold is awesome. I can read her series over and over. If you like strong female characters, great characters and science fiction, she’s a must read. She writes fantasy as well.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Oh yes. My writer’s group used to call me Rosemary because of the main character in House Haunting, the first book in my Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. Funny, but I worked a few years in real estate myself. Hmmm…

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? There is so much more to do. Books waiting for revision and to be written. Marketing, marketing, marketing. I need to get a handle on that.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? You know writers, always distracted by shiny objects, kind of like the crows from Affinity. Just have to keep focused. I think the lack of time keeps me on the straight and narrow, because I am so happy to be writing.

What does your workspace look like? I have one side of a corner desk I share with my husband. We just moved the office, so I have a whole board in front of me I get to put up any kinds of pictures I want. There are books everywhere, post-it notes with little tidbits of important information and reminders. My spiral notebooks with the plots of each book spread around. I try and clean up every so often.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Insomnia? Sometimes it’s hard to sleep when the characters are so noisy in your head, and you can’t turn them off.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Nope.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I work with my husband in our little planter business, planting succulents in frames we build. Fun. Love gardening and playing soccer.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Baby steps. I just want it all to happen at once. Take a deep breath and remain calm.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? School was long time ago. And I couldn’t wait to graduate. Now, I wished I had paid more attention.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? Before I really started writing, my husband and I were watching Romancing the Stone. You know, with the writer, and my husband in his infinite wisdom turns to me and say, “Why don’t you write a book.” Like it will suddenly be a best seller. So, I did. And I haven’t stopped.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Take some writing classes and join a writing group. Have an open mind to what experienced writers have to say, but be true to yourself. After all it’s your story. Decide your audience and genre and learn the rules for writing in that genre. Read a lot those kinds of books. Once you know the rules, you can break them, knowing you’re doing exactly what you intended.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A quiet Saturday night out

Through a nondescript door and up a nondescript stairway that is more suited to a hospital than the way to a bar, and through another, more colourful door that looks like a door full of books, is a place that feels like home to both the book lover and those in search of a quiet drink: The Library.
It's dim and it's a little cramped with separate rooms, all featuring shelves upon shelves of books. We enter and my brother heads straight for an old lazy boy chair, and us girls sit on a well worn, soft, velvety couch. I don't get comfortable because I'm getting the drinks in, so I take their orders and get up, but I'm stopped by one of the staff, who tell us, no no, don't get up, we do table service here. Since the bar is way over the other side and requires weaving through a crowd, I gratefully take a seat and we order our drinks. We look around us at the seventies formica coffee tables, the paintings like those that used to hang on the walls of our nana's house, the dim lamps, the wooden blinds on the windows, and, oddly, the claw foot bath in the middle of the back room. It's a far cry from the "Let's see how much we can drink before we pass out" hens parties bar hopping below us.
When our drinks arrive, we sit back, take in the atmosphere, have a browse at some books, talk about our plans for the future, our dreams, our ideas, and feel like we're a world away from the busy city...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Morning all and a happy Monday to you all! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Ironically, considering my last post was about "summer" finally being here, the weather was kind of bad for us this weekend, with rain and wind and cold, but it was a good excuse to stay inside and work on NaNoWriMo, for which I have cracked 20,000 words! Although I should be at over 30,000 by now, I still think it's a pretty good effort and I still think I can make it to 50,000 by the end of the month. And now I'm going to be helped along by my awesome inspiration wall which is slowly filling up with ideas from the ever creative man in my life. Also went out to dinner with the best siblings a girl could ask for on Saturday night, and on Sunday took a trip to the Wairarapa to talk to a guy about my Tinui Project, spending most of the drive over begging the weather gods to give me some sunshine, but they didn't listen so instead of driving out to Tinui itself and exploring, I went home on account of the rain and the cold... and was treated to a beautiful homecooked pasta meal - which made up for the weather :)

Have a fabulous week lovelies! xo

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Summer is here!

You know summer has officially arrived when your local veggie market is selling strawberries...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Karen Wyle

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from Karen Wyle, attorney by day, writer by night and author of an intriguing science fiction story about twins, called Twin-Bred.

Name: Karen Wyle
Location and one thing you love about living there: Just east of Bloomington, IN. I love the autumn foliage. (I love some other things about it as well, but you said one thing….)
Author of: Twin-Bred
Book available: It's available in paperback and ebook formats, at the following online locations:
Amazon (Kindle):
Amazon (paperback):
Nook Store:
B&N online (paperback):
Smashwords (various ebook formats):
Website: and and
Tell us a bit about yourself: I'm an appellate attorney, mother of two remarkable daughters, on-and-off photographer, compulsive reader, and (in recent years) a novelist. I grew up on both coasts, but settled in Indiana in 1989 and now consider myself a Hoosier.

Tell us about your book, Twin-Bred: Twin-Bred asks: can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb?
After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other. Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.
Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely? . . .

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? I wish I could remember that far back! I know I had plenty of books before I could even read. I used to sit on my bed and flip through one book after another. Once I could read, it became my favorite pastime - and still is.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? It's hard to pinpoint a single book - but George Eliot's Middlemarch illustrated quite forcefully how one's actions and decisions can have unalterable consequences.

What was the seed of inspiration for Twin-Bred? Here's where Twin-Bred came from: I read an article about amazing interactions between twins in utero, captured on video. The researchers had found synchronized movement, touching, even kissing. Either the article or a comment on the article mentioned the traumatic, often devastating, impact on those whose twin - identical or fraternal -- had died in utero or shortly after birth.
Straining this information through the science fiction filter in my mind, I imagined a scientist seeking to overcome the comprehension gap between two intelligent species by way of the bond between twins. It would be natural for the scientist who conceived this idea to be a twin. It would add emotional depth to the story if she were a twin survivor. And for added strangeness and interest, what if she had somehow kept her lost twin alive as a companion, who could be a character in the story? . . .

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? I suppose there is the mixed message that our endeavours may be based on inadequate information and may have unintended consequences - but that it's still worth trying to make a difference.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? My most formidable challenge was the threshold matter of what, if any, stories I had to tell. I also needed to overcome a chronic and paralyzing case of writer's block. It took many years of living to show me what themes mattered to me and what stories those themes suggested. Practicing appellate law, which requires me to turn out persuasive prose in quantity, seems to have dissolved the writer's block. (Doing most of my writing during NaNoWriMo and related one-month sprints also helps.)

What has been your best moment as a writer? My memory isn't good enough for me to pick a single "best moment" -- but some contenders would be seeing my first novel (Twin-Bred) appear on Amazon, and reading the first favourable reviews.

Who is your author idol? I don't do idolatry, generally, but there are many authors I admire. The one who comes most readily to mind is Mary Doria Russell, who combines brilliant dialogue with deeply moving characterization and themes that speak to me, while writing in several different genres.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? I have a certain amount in common with Mara Cadell. Like Mara, I'm impatient, though less likely to explode as a result. I am no scientist, but I have an inquiring mind. I'm persistent and stubborn, as Mara is. Finally, neither Mara nor I have a great track record at forming and maintaining social connections, although both of us are getting better at it.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Both!
I have, in ways I could not have foreseen, achieved my childhood dream of becoming a novelist. (Self-publishing was possible back then, but in a very different and limited way.) However, I would like to reach a substantially larger audience, with quite a few more books. (Two more are in the pipeline, and others in the vague planning stage.)

What is your personal cure for procrastination? For me, the most effective cure (or preventive) for procrastination is to take part in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), or its summertime equivalent, Camp Nano. Publicly undertaking to write the rough (and I mean rough) draft of a novel entirely within one month has a way of keeping me on track.

What does your workspace look like? Ridiculously cluttered and visually unappealing. The prettiest bit is the closed wooden window shade that I know to conceal a fairly nice landscape.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Not since I un-quit, after decades of ignoring my desire to write.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I read. I practice appellate law. I take photographs. I hang out with my husband and/or daughters. I administer our household. I walk the dog. I spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Keep your inner editor locked out of sight when you're writing a first draft (or when adding a substantial chunk during the editing process). Take the long view: success takes time, and, for most of us, the release of multiple books. Enjoy the good parts -- a message from an admiring reader, a good review, holding your book in your hands -- without diminishing them with comparisons to the successes of other authors.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? That I could enjoy using my brain. (I rediscovered this truth during my freshman year in college, after months of brooding after a romantic disappointment. I went for a study session with a professor's assistant and found myself, instead, in a tete-a-tete with the professor himself, the marvellous Ronald Rebholz, then teaching literature at Stanford University. We spent perhaps an hour delving into W. B. Yeats' "Among Schoolchildren." Thank you, Professor!)

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? If so, it happened before I turned ten. By that age, I intended to be the youngest published novelist ever. (Later that year, I had to revise my ambitions -- a nine-year-old British girl beat me to it.)

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Warning: long answer ahead. . . . The following are mostly suggestions that I have found in various books/essays/blog posts about the process of writing fiction, and then verified by experience.
  • Read, read, read. Read fiction, biography, history - whatever interests you. Read authors whose voice appeals to you.
  • Don't let anyone tell you whether you're meant to be, or whether you are, a writer. Even well-meaning folks may be poor critics, and not everyone who makes pronouncements on your potential will be well-meaning.
  • Keep pen and paper, or some other means of taking notes, with you at all times. Don't assume you'll remember your great idea five minutes from now - write it down immediately! Get or jury-rig a lighted note pad for your bedside table. (A clip-on book light attached to a cheap note pad will work.) If you get ideas in the shower, mutter them over and over to yourself until you reach dry land.
  • Become compulsive about multiple backups of your idea notes, works in progress, rough drafts, subsequent drafts, etc. Use "the cloud" (Web-based storage), e.g., Dropbox or Evernote. (I use Dropbox. Once it's running on your computer, it will back up a document stored in your Dropbox folder every time you save. But check periodically to make sure it's still running!) Email attachments to yourself (and then check whether your email host is periodically deleting them). Put files on a separate hard drive and on flash drives.
  • This one is YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). That said, as I mentioned above, I and many other authors find it essential to keep the inner editor gagged and stuffed in a closet when we're working on a rough draft. Don't be afraid to leave blanks or bracketed notes as you go. (My second-to-latest rough draft had one that read "[insert appropriate South American country here].")
  • A related point: find the process that works for you. Some authors outline in detail. Others find too specific an outline stifling, and work from less organized notes of possible scenes, or with no notes at all. Some have a fixed time of day for writing, and allow nothing to disrupt it; others flit back and forth all day between writing and other tasks. Some use computers; some still write longhand, and a few swear by typewriters.
  • Think seriously about self-publishing. There's a wealth of info and support out there for indie authors. Conversely, this is a risky time to sign a contract with an agent or publisher. Because of the uncertain and fast-changing conditions in the publishing industry, many agents and publishers are inserting "rights grabs" and other clauses in their contracts that could cripple an author's career. Some of the worst language may be hidden in unexpected places like "warranty" clauses. If you do sign with an agent or publisher, try to find a way to pay a good literary attorney to go through the contract with a microscope. Don't let the allure of "having an agent" or "being published" lead you to grab at an offer of representation or publication without vetting it thoroughly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Monday :)

Morning all! And a Happy Monday to you! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead. I for one am looking forward to an extremely busy week of preparing myself for bootcamp on Saturday with as much running as possible as well as catching up with NaNoWriMo, as I've fallen way behind. Wish me luck! xo

Friday, November 9, 2012

Feel good Friday

Deep and meaningful discussions about life have been the name of the game this week, with some decisions made and some goals set. One of the goals I've set is to run Round The Bays 2013 (a 7km charity run/walk around Wellington's bays, which I usually walk with my sister and mum while the boys run) - this is pretty big considering I've only "been for a run" twice in my life that I can remember. The first time was so painful and horrible that I gave up - that was a couple of years ago - and decided that walking was just as good as running. But I went for a 30min run on Wednesday and surprised myself - I only had to walk a couple of times for about a minute each time, but I now have a tougher mentality to keep going even if it hurts or if my lungs are burning. Man was I sore yesterday... but I'm doing it again today - I'm planning on running to the gym, doing a workout, then running back. Oh, and I've told my brother and his girlfriend I'm going to do the bootcamp that they run, which starts on the 17th... Feeling gooooood!

Have a great weekend peeps xo

Thursday, November 8, 2012

And so the procrastination sets in

I'm now over the one week mark with NaNoWriMo, and that procrastination bastard has started to kick in. I'm up to about 11,000 words, so I'm still on track, but I don't really know where to take my story next so I'm "waiting for inspiration" but really, I'm just refusing to think about it.
Last week two of my colleagues who are also doing NaNoWriMo and I challenged each other to get to a word count of 10,000 words by the end of the weekend and, although I made it, this week's goal of another 10,000 words is not looking promising. But they tell you not to be too hard on yourself, so I'm trying not to be. But I do need to write something today. The idea was to write 2,000 words a day from Monday... so technically I have to write 8,000 words today... and I have no idea what to write. But I'm going to figure it out. Today. Because I don't have a choice. I have to get to the 50,000 words. I have to finish this.

Maybe you can help me with some ideas... basically I have a bunch of people who live in a small town, but none of them are from the small town, they're all running away from something. Question is, what are they running away from people?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday Writers: David Cassidy

As an aspiring author, it’s always good to hear stories of other people’s success. They inspire us to not procrastinate, and reassure us that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

This week we hear from David Cassidy, author of Velvet Rain, a man with so much to do but so little time.

Name: David Cassidy
Location and one thing you love about living there: I live in Canada, the most beautiful and varied country in the world, one that begs to be captured by the lens.
Author of: Velvet Rain
Book available: Velvet Rain is available in paperback and for Kindle at, and at my e-Store at I’m also offering personalized, signed paperback editions on my website.

Tell us a bit about yourself: The goods? I’m seriously messed up. My brain is always on overdrive, juggling a dozen things at once. I have to rein it in at times, but I get by. All that noise is a blessing, though.
At heart I’m a writer, but an equal passion is photography. I appreciate art in any form, whether it’s writing, photography, drawing, painting, music—it’s all music, really.

Tell us about your book, Velvet Rain: I would liken it to James Cameron’s Titanic, in the sense that there is always this grand, menacing threat lurking there in the shadows, while we are drawn in by the star-crossed fate of Jack and Rose. They bind us; they are the story. Velvet Rain is no different—the real magic is the arc between a tortured soul, Kain Richards, and the delicate fabric of the lives of those he touches. While certainly a thriller, my novel is, at its heart, a deeply moving story with a life lesson.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? I was always a thinker. A reader. I loved history and science, astronomy, art, music ... just about anything. I was constantly reading as a boy, and that natural curiosity has never diminished. I consumed Nancy Drew mysteries and loved every one of them. Still, it wasn’t until I turned twelve that I began to read novels clearly aimed at adults. One of my older brothers (I have six brothers and three sisters, me being “the baby”) knew of my curious nature, and handed me the first adult fiction I ever read—which leads us to your next question.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Imagine this nerdy twelve-year-old with an overactive imagination, living out in the boonies in this big house overlooking a lonely lake, eating up this incredible work of horror fiction by candlelight during a notorious Northern Ontario thunderstorm. That was me, and I was hooked.

What was the seed of inspiration for Velvet Rain It’s funny. It just popped into my head one day. Start to finish. Things just kind of come to me that way, and they often come like a flood. This was one of those times. I didn’t have all the details certainly, but somehow, I knew how the story was going to go from beginning to end. As a photographer, envisioning an image before I take the shot, we call it seeing. It was kind of like that.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? There may be several. Life is precious; life is short. Curse can beget blessing. And no matter the odds or the circumstance, we can all be heroes to someone.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career? How much time do you have? But seriously: Doubt. Fear. Time. They all conspire against you. Every writer has challenges, but I think those are the Big Ones. If something isn’t working, you have three choices: Walk away and come back to it. Drive through it, kicking and screaming. Kill it. For me, all three work, depending on the situation. Like Yoda says, “There is no try.”

What has been your best moment as a writer? When I held that first copy of Velvet Rain in my hands for the first time. Nothing else comes close. I’m not afraid to say I was close to tears.

Who is your author idol? Clive Barker. A wordsmith. A writing god. He taught me how to imagine—and then to imagine more.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Only the nasty ones. All kidding aside, yes. Of course. This may sound strange to some, but these people are as real to me as real people. I have lived their lives with them. I’ve seen their highest highs and lowest lows, and whether their personality or experience, sense of right and wrong, comes from within or from observation of others, the lasting impressions locked up in me come through in my characters.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? The dream has only begun. And it’s a great dream.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? The old adage, “Enough is enough.” I can always tell when I’m putting things off. I get antsy. It’s my wiring telling me something’s not firing right. That’s when I kick it into gear.

What does your workspace look like? It’s pretty clean. Spartan, almost. Small desk with dual widescreen monitors (photographers can’t get enough screen real estate). Good jazz or classical playing. A tall window right beside me with a great western view.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Social media and promotion can be a huuuuge time-suck. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s all too easy to get distracted. Don’t get me started on the danger of donuts.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? What day is this? I water the lawn on the even-numbered days. Now, on the odd days ...

What do you do when you’re not writing? I suffer from a condition known as MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder. I love photography, reading, rollerblading, biking, astronomy ... sometimes I eat. Time is my enemy.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Passion. Discipline. Like peanut butter and jam, they are.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? To think. Reason.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? Never. My mind was (is) too busy. Still, the signs were always there, even as a child. My oldest brother tells me I’d write these great stories, and he’d bring them to his friends at university. They’d read them, love them, and when he told them a ten-year-old wrote them, thought he was joking. But it wasn’t until much later in life when I started to realize there was something missing. It was a protracted thing. No light came on, no angels singing. Over a period of years, my soul told me I had to do this, or die trying.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Never cheat your audience—show nothing but respect for them. As an author and photographer, I owe it to people to give them no less than my best work. Just as I would never show someone a boring image, I would never tell them a boring story. When I pay for a book or a movie, I expect to be entertained, and my audience has the right to expect that from me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Monday :)

"Lend me your eyes I can change what you see, but your soul you must keep totally free."

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! Don't mean to show off or anything, but my weekend was FANTABULISCIOUS! Because that's a word...
I saw Mumford in Sons in concert last night and it was truly the most amazing concert I've been to so far! I could write all day about the amazingness of it, but you all would probably want to punch me out of jealousy if you're a fan...
But I will say this - Mumford and Sons play the most beautiful music I have ever heard, and the best part about this concert was the fact that it was played in such a tiny venue. So tiny in fact, that they took the opportunity to play acoustically for two songs. When they said they were going to do it, little sis and I thought, oh yeah, they'll still have the mics and everything, they'll just strum the guitar and maybe the banjo. But no, they ditched all technology, grouped together at the front of the stage, asked for everyone to be quiet (and actually waited for us to be quiet before they started - everyone was ssshhhing, it felt like we were back in primary school assembly) and played... beautifully... hypnotised us...
I got a video of some of it on my new phone (note the sexy Instagram pic above) - although it's only about 30secs because I would much rather enjoy a concert than record it all or take heaps photos of it. So once I figure out how to get the video from my phone onto my blog, I shall post it.
Have a fab week everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feel good Friday

Well, it's been a fantastically inspiring and sunny week! Yes, sunny! Although I had a wee bit of a moan on Wednesday about our apartment that went something like this: "Okay, awesome one bedroom apartment, you were real warm and cozy in winter, but you're not doing this summer thing very well... think you could grow some more windows? Yours sincerly, boiled Sarah." It's still pretty awesome to have summer finally here bathing us in its warmth. Got a busy weekend ahead of buying a new phone (I'm joining the Instagram revolution! So long cheap crappy phone!), getting up to a 10,000 word count for NaNoWriMo, and I'm also going to Mumford and Sons on Sunday with little sis! Super excited!!

Things making me happy this week:

Starting NaNoWriMo

Have a great weekend people xo

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ready, Set, NaNoWriMo!

One by one the teardrops fall as I write you 
One by one my words come falling on the page 
One by one my dreams are fading in the twilight 
One by one my schemes are fading fast away 

This song came on as I was thinking about the start of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) and I thought, how perfect... For the month of November, I am sure many teardrops will fall caused by frustration and panic, but I hope most of the times the words will simply fall onto the page... but everything else will fade into the background, or into my favourite time of day, twilight, for safe keeping until December.

So today it begins! A 50,000 word novel in one month. Can I do it? Well, if this girl can write a novel a month for 12 months, I reckon I can do one!