Sunday, February 3, 2013

The curse is broken!

Joy.  Ecstasy.  Literal quivers and cold fingered excitement. Patting-self-on-back silliness.  I have just now opened up the old file of The Nereid.  I then copied and pasted the Prologue over to a new 'Novel' file on my new totally FAV writing tool, Scrivener.  And I edited the shit out of it.

Blessed be this rainy Monday.

Here's a wee taste!

Metallic, rhythmic, the sound echoed off the ice walls. 

The creature opened its eyes, blinking against the darkness.  It stood, heavy scales grating as it stretched.  Hunger writhed like vipers deep within its dark matter soul. Memories tore like claws through its head.  Betrayal.  Blood.  Pain.

They had come at him with weapons of light and with armies of flesh. Flesh.  Oh the memory of flesh burned!  Shivers of yearning seared with vicious craving.  Flesh! Delicious, succulent flesh thrumming with untamed energy, a heady blend of light and dark, impossible to ignore.  To rip, suck, devour until the essence flooded its throat with warm, salty bliss. 

But then they came with the sound.  Death blazed with excruciating sound.  The sound of black holes screaming.  One piercing long note of discordant horror.  Twisting and writhing, caught in a cacophony of agony the creature succumbed.   Darkness reigned - until now.

Tap.  Tap.  Tap.  A cylinder of ice plummeted, exploding like a fallen chandelier.  The creature froze as the scent of flesh, unmistakable, unbearably enticing, invaded its dark, cold prison.  Baring its scimitar fangs it quivered in ravenous anticipation.  Its long starvation was over. 

Mwahahahahahaha. Maniacal laugh. 

It has begun.  The resurrection of Carla the Writer has begun. 

Sigh. (smiling sigh, not one of those whimsical, forlorny sighs that reek of misbegotten youth and wasted lovely moments).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saddle, Schmaddle!

Like the empty pages with the month typed in unassuming font across the middle, I have not written a damn thing but renovation and shopping lists in months. Months. When was the last time this happened? How long will it go on? Have a ceased being a writer? Was that it?

I am unfortunately empty of chutzpah; devoid of gumption; my balls have shriveled up and crawled away disgusted in myself. 

I can't seem to get back into it.

Admittedly, and without wanting to sound like I'm justifying my ass off, it has been a particularly full-on couple few months. We've moved - twice,  renovated a cluster of sheds into a livable four bedroom home, driven a horse truck to Christchurch and purged our old place of our stuff, moved G into his Auckland apartment, had the flu, school holidays, ski season, and a general lack of energy to create anything beyond a cosy home out of a diseased pigs ear.

So now we are moved in, mostly unpacked, and I have my computer and office all set up will the block finally be over?

I don't know. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow. I'm fearful. I'm still reeling over the loss of all that editing of The Nereid. I know I should just open the file and read it. Start. But I can't. Every time I think of doing it I freeze up. I get distracted. I offer myself another flimsy excuse not to open the file. I'm terrified of it. What if that was it? What if I can't face the rewrite? What if everything I try is shit?

I'm a coward. And a procrastinator. And I feel in the losing of that work I have somehow lost myself. How self-indulgent and paltry of me.

But as much as I know I need to get over myself, I can't. Ridiculous.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Techno-failure - or 'Why am I such an idiot'

Ok, the event I am about to purge my soul about can not really be labelled 'techno-failure'. Let's be honest with ourselves, Carla. It is, indeed, 'person-failure'. More specifically, 'Carla-failure'.

How many times have I read blogs, books, notes, been told, been reminded, been exasperatedly fist-shaken at to back up my work. EVERY TIME I WORK ON ANYTHING. BACK IT UP!

The Mighty G has told me, repeatedly. Magic K has told me umpteen times. I know it. It should be carved into my soul by now. But no. No, my soul seems to have one of those magic magnetic swipey doodle pads in it where you can wipe it with a flick.

Where is this going? You have probably guessed by now.

About two weeks ago I had to do a bit of a move around of files from my laptop to my Mac and then save into a new folder, blah, blah, blah. I was doing it, in typical Carla-style, quickly, hurriedly, non-thinkingly, and when my clever Mac asked me if the file I wanted to save had a buddy with the same name from another mem stick was the one I wanted to replace (or some such wording that had me completely thinking I was doing the right thing, yet in reality had me doing the most horrible WRONG thing ever) I said, yeah, go on, save over it. I don't need that old file. It's, like, four months old and I've done so much editing and paring down and awesome fix ups since then, so be off with you old version of The Nereid!

Gulp. Horror. The big, fat, stupid reveal. I SAVED OVER THE NEW WITH THE OLD! I saved over the new version of my 100,000 plus word completed, edited, happy-with novel with a four month older version that is missing EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF UTTER GENUIS I HAD in the editing process!


Yes!!!!! At this point let's take a moment for you to fully understand the inimitable tragedy of this particularly DUMB-ASS move on my part.


It's gone. Truly, totally gone. Yes, I tried everything to undo what I did. Yes, I had The Mighty G try everything superhumanly possible to get it back for me, and believe me, The Mighty G knows his stuff!

But to no avail. All that work, all that thinking hard about every damn word, is gone. I had fine-tuned the prologue down from 2 pages to 8 lines and it had more intensity, more action and more intrigue thatn before! Can I repeat that? Can I find the right words again? God knows!

I have not even looked at the novel since then. Two weeks. When I was just about ready to have it go live on Amazon, when it was so close to being ready for the next step on the road to the finished, tangible book in print, it was gone.

I'm not ashamed to admit I cried in the shower, like, really cried, howled, bawled my eyes out, sobbed pathetically on the cold shower floor, tears competing with the flow of the water, and bloody-near winning. I was a mess. A wreak. A total, gibbering, blubbering fool. I grieved. I raged. I angerfied myself into hating all technology. Then I admitted to myself that the only fault in the technology was my own, careless, foolhardy self.

I lost the file. I was too busy to stop and really read the prompt. I had not backed up my novel in over four months! What kind of moron doesn't do the back up!? Well, obviously, this kind of moron.

So where am I at with this now? Trying to will myself to delve back in. To open the old file and get to work on the editing again. The final edit. The last stand at the OK Corale before it goes to the professionals. And I have to tell you all, there's a part of me, a really negative, bitchy little part of me, that keeps sniffling in my head to just flag the whole thing. Why bother. It was crap anyway.

We all have that snivelly little bitch in us that tells us to give up. Tells us the myriad of reasons we are losers over and over again. What makes my snivelly bitch wrong? Why shouldn't I just listen to her for once and give up on the stupid notion of being a writer. Why don't I just focus on what I'm really good at. Home-making. Hahahaha. I can hear The Mighty G from over a hundred miles away kicking my ass for that last self-deprecating remark. Yeah, I'm a great cook, baker, cleaner, maker of nice things for my family, mother etc. But I'm also a damn good writer. A determined, crazy idea'd, fanatical believer in doing what you love and I love to create stunning stories. And I want to get them out there. I want to share my stories and other amazing stories I fall in love with. That's why Black Robin came about. That's why I bust my ass and finger tips on the keyboard every day - well, not for the last two weeks!

I want to finish The Nereid. I need to. I have to get in there. Go back, repeat the process, the hard work, the almighty thinking.

I have to stop complaining about what happened in a blog and just OPEN THE DAMN FILE......

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Perfect Day

I dropped my children to the bus this morning in my pyjamas. This is not a common occurrence - indeed it is quite the unusual state to find a Carla in. However, this morning, as the drizzle fell like surrender and the heavy clouds held any morning light captive, I too surrendered to the fact that somedays you should just stay in your pj's.

Usually I get up at 6.30am, make five parcels of nutritional sustenance, wake the five and harass them into their uniforms, breakfast and positive outlooks on the day ahead, then change into my running gear and walk/run them to the bus stop. I then wave a cheerful goodbye, bidding them 'have a super day,' and head off on my morning jog.

Suitably sweaty and feeling the calories burned justifies my inevitable early-evening snack of chocolate, I come home to clean. I used to go straight to the garage and workout for a further half an hour doing squats and lunges and all manner of painful ab workouts on the gym stuff, but that has fallen to the wayside since the last school holidays totally threw off my groove. I still feel the guilt of not heading to the garage, but honestly, why bother? I have the kind of metabolism and body shape that is only tamed and honed by daily punishment and pain - not to mention starvation. Why? Why, I ask you? Why? To look like some fashion junkies version of perfect? But guilty I feel and I'm sure I will manhandle myself back into the garage at some stage. But no today. Today, if you'll remember, is pyjama day.

Now, where was I? Ah yes. Cleaning. Is the phrase, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness"? If that is so I should be a saint, and anyone who knows me well knows this is simply not true. But I am clean. I inherited a bit of OCD from my beloved mother. I have yet to meet another person who grew up with Lladro at child-height in their homes without a single breakage. I'm not that obsessed, but I do insist upon a tidy home at all times! : ) Sorry kids and G. Today's morning clean involved the kids bathroom. If you are a mother with sons, any amount of sons - I currently have three plus one 16 yr old German - you will be with me on the shudder issue of cleaning their bathroom. Why can they not aim? Is it a kin to growing up not able to ask for directions and inherently getting lost? Is it simply bad design on God's part, or parts if you like. I do not like cleaning up boy pee. Ever. 

Oh, and today Daught lost her second hairbrush in a week - my hairbrush to be precise - and hunted the house - bathroom included - like a tornado hunting tree roots. Grr. 

So, cleaning. Run, workout, cleaning, then what? Work of course. But what I do is not really work. How can it be called work when it is one of my greatest joys? Writing, editing, publishing, creating beautiful stories - this is not work, it is my bliss. Freshly-baked, hot chocolate chip cookies for my soul. I love what I do. It is - for me - the Perfect Job. However...

At the moment I am not in that zen-like zone of an established publishing company creating magic everyday. I am in the hard-slog, butt-kicking, sigh-inducing stage of start-up. Start up. A fledgling business whose wings are the insubstantial stuff of angels. All heart, all soul, all good intentions but not yet solid. Building a business from nothing, with nothing (and I mean financially!) is hard work. Is depleting work. Is consistently frustrating work. But it is worth it and worthwhile and we keep doing it. Because we must. To be who we are, the hard stuff will not phase us. With humour and determination, audacity and tenacity, love, spirit and total belief in what I am doing, Black Robin Publishing will become a guiding light in children's literature and learning. 

Add to that the re-invention of old shearers quarters on the neighbouring high country station and you have a pretty busy day. Yes, I am at it again! For those of you who heard me last time - just don't even say it! I know, I know, I know what I said. What I SWORE. What I carved into my psyche in blood. "I will never, ever renovate again." Ok, so I've been proven a lier. I have been shown to be fickle, to bandy words about without conviction. I am renovating - again. 

Long story short folks, we have to leave the comfy, grandiose setting we landed jammy side up in after the earthquakes. So we started looking for an alternative. We wanted to stay in the valley. Have grown to love the valley and all its quirks and extremes and people. But, alas, rental properties in Cardrona are very hard to find. I want to say Hen's Teeth, but loathe cliche's, oh well. Tough, Rare as blimmin' hens teeth! 

Enter the Cardrona Valley Residents Party at ye olde Cardrona Hotel and the local family Patriarch came to the rescue. "I have some shearer's quarters you could have a look at." Look we did. Ran I did. Came back several times I did. Couldn't get the idea out of my head I couldn't. Said yes to the old, ramshackle (I can honestly use this word in description of SQ) shearers quarters with its numerous little iron sheds, its giant walnut, pear and apple trees, its pantheon of empty kennels, its 'floating' floor, its nests of spiders, its feral cat family numbering five that our Pheral will undoubtably despise with every ounce of fur on her body, its non-existant heating system, its non-existent dishwasher, its general wear, tear, rip, shit and tear-arsed condition. Said yes to the whole damn thing with a resounding clanging in my ears I can only attribute to my irrepressible ability to SEE POTENTIAL. 

It's funny that ability I seem to possess. Seeing potential in things, ideas, stories, people, places. I 'see' futures laid out, right down to the tulips regenerating each spring at the bases of the trees. I can stand at the dilapidated kitchen, look out the window at Cardrona Ski Field, Willie's woolshed and the small orchard separating us and hear future me calling out that hot scones are ready. I can see my kids running around the field with a rugby ball with the neighbours kids, see them swimming in the pond in summer and ice skating on it in winter together. I can feel the long hot summer rays beating down upon us as we play tennis on the neighbours court then retire to the BBQ area at our place and a night of laughter and Speights - oo, actually, no, I can't see me ever drinking Speights - sorry James, but urk. You get the idea though, right? I see all of this. I see the renovated completion of the house, the corners of perfection and happiness we carved out with our sweat. I can pick my own vegetables from the garden I have space galore for, send the younger lads to collect the fresh, happy hen eggs every day, take long walks up into the gully with my hunting companion/best mate/dog Molly. And it is the 'seeing' of this that makes me delve, once again, into hard work. Sloggingly, back-aching hard work. Is it worth it? If my visions are even a tenth close to what reality will be then yes. Absolutely yes. 

Read into this rave as you will. I entitled it The Perfect Day and I'm not sure now what I meant. Did I mean spending the morning in PJs doing bugger all? Did I mean chainsawing and ripping down walls and  painting a house alongside the love of my absolute life (who can't do most of the tough stuff at the moment so is 'helping' me do it - 'no, not like that, you'll cut you're bloody leg off!') Did I mean running and cleaning and then creating beautiful, timeless stories until my little angels come home from school for home-cooked cookies and cake? 

I meant all of it. Squeezing in everything I can. Getting as much out of life as I possibly can every damn day. Being creative and healthy and conscientious and happy and joyful and pissed off with the damnable chainsaw and craving a completed renovation and baking yummy things and writing and being with amazing people I love and adore. All of it, everything, everyday. The Perfect Day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What this writer gets up to in summer....

The last day of school arrived. The two biggies were ecstatic - the two littlies thought of nothing else but  Christmas being mere days away. I gazed down the barrel of seven weeks of four smallish people monopolising my every waking moment with their joys and tears and squabbles and hungry bellies.

A couple of weeks before the holidays began my dear writing galpal and I spent a magical three days writing in a borrowed house on the shores of a southern lake. Man, did I write! I achieved more in that weekend than I had on my own projects in the last year! Okay, earthquakes and moving cities and traumatised kids took absolute precedence in 2011 so I can't complain - and won't! But that weekend awakened the dragon!

I began my second novel over that weekend. A story concept that has been jumping in the corner of my mind like demented rabbit finally came roaring to the fore - demanding my attention - claiming 2012 for itself. The first few thousand words gushed from my fingertips and lit my digital page with these fierce, untamable characters, lighting my mind with their entire story, setting fire to my heart and making me want to die for them, to give up everything to get their story told. Sound extreme? Yeah, probably! But sometimes that's the way of a story. It takes hold, digs it's claws into your soul and won't let go. That is the way of my second novel - 'Hope'.

Prepare for the cliche here folks; All good things must come to an end. The writing retreat was over and I was on fire for Hope. I wanted to do nothing but write until the story was done.


Anyone with four kids (or any kids!) knows what the end of term is like! The end of the year is worse! I mean, wonderfully full of pantomimes, presentations and prizegivings. I love every minute of my children demonstrating their prowess at everything from singing 'She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini' to dancing the magic-mouse dance in a primary school pantomime. The talent, the genius of my brood constantly amazes and excites me and fills me with total and utter self-gratifying satisfaction that I had something to do with their existence, and yet the writer in me spent two weeks scowling, pouting and having the odd tantrum (all deeply buried underneath my smiling and supportive countenance of perfect mother) and waiting begrudgingly for the holiday to just start already!

You see, and you are all quite within your rights to tut-tut me and smile indulgently at my naïvety, I thought that once the holidays began I could get stuck into 'Hope'. HA! I truly believed my children would amuse themselves and just be content with being free to run and roam and read without needing my constant supervision. I thought that as we now live in PARADISE they would simply don Laura Ashley-style clothes and run amok Huckleberry Finn-like about our substantial property with a stream, pond, tree huts and SPACE.No. Oh no, no, no.

Day two: Fighting. Boredom. Whining. Hungry for things that required my input. Too hot. Oh, for the sake of all things Holy!

And then there was the family and friends.

I took a moment, had a long, rather heartbreaking, conversation with the writer within and together we surrendered to the fact that it was Christmas, summer and at the end of a year in which family and friends and ourselves had all been through our own personal hell due to the Earth's niggling and stretching.  Once the surrender took place I opened myself and my heart to the summer season and oh, what joys did come forth into my life!

Hot, dry days after days, family and friends camping in tents on the lawn, swimming in lake and pond, BBQ's galore! Summer, oh how I love thee! Relaxing - really relaxing - on the lakefront beach, nurturing an enviable tan, reading! I read so many books! I decided as I didn't have the concentrated time I desire to write I would do the next best thing - READ! YAY! Boy, did I read!

However, it is now the end of the first week of school - Waitangi Day to be precise - and my fingertips are itching to get back on the keyboard! I love my kids, I have totally and utterly adored spending this summer chilling out with them and my friends and family. Now I am ready for routine. I am ready for plans to come to fruition. I am ready to write.

Roll on Tuesday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Counting down...

In a handful of weeks my dearest writer-friend and I will indulge in a weekend of addict-writer-heaven. No children. No partners. No phones! A lake, a laptop and that special companion who will not hesitate to kick your procrastinating butt back to the page.

There is nothing quite as decadent as an entire three days in relative solitude with your work in progress and I am fizzing! I can't wait to delve into the world of my characters without having to haul myself back to the reality of one too-tall-teenager, a pre-teen-haughty-queen and two smallish 'bears' with their grizzly ways and wars. No dinners to cook (I'm planning on eating yoghurt raisins and whitakers dark chocolate), no partner to direct attention to, no mundane chores to attend to... Bliss!

Not that I don't LOVE my life, my partner, my kids! It's just, sometimes, when I have a story in my head, a plot thickening like gravey in the saucepan of my mind, I need peace, quiet, unrestricted access to yoghurt raisin's and chocolate without guilt. I need to 'be' my characters - and some of them are nasty! I need to feel the emotions and cry, get mad, be evil, plot to take over the world and laugh maniacally and gleefully without raised-brow judgements. I need to have a little tanty because I can't find the perfect metaphor. I need to sulk because my character did something I never intended and I can't change it because it's perfect. I need to listen to Breaking Benjamin - loud. I need to sit in the sun (ooo, I hope) and let the dense, Central Otago heat lull me into a semi-coma of imagination. I need to be me - uncorrected, uncensored, uninhibited - to banish the rectitude of every-day-Carla.

So, hear's to Writer Weekends! Here's to letting the creative juices simmer like soup, swell like
soufflé and spill like Sémillon in summer. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An exciting day...

Today I am getting together with some amazing people down here in gorgeous Central Otago and I wanted to share the incredible talents of these true artists with you all!
First I'm meeting Emma Louise Butler. Her art is just gorgeous. It transcends age and inspires imagination, happiness and whimsy. Check her out at
Then later on this afternoon/evening I'm off to Grahame Sydney's launch of his latest pictorial masterpiece, 'Grahame Sydney's Central Otago'. Grahame's eye, his passion for this dynamic, dramatic region emanates from the page in heart-stopping images of the Central we love! From snow-queen-like hoar frosts and poignant gold mining ruins and the quintessentialCentral Otago vivid blue on gold landscapes - this book is a MUST have!!!! And just in time for an outrageously cool and artsy Christmas Pressie too for those with everything!
After that I shall be wending my way to the Alexandra Library where I am so excited to meet Kyle Mewburn and Dee Copeland who have just released their children's book, 'Moon Cow'. Now, I have seen this book and it is so lovely! The colours, the story and the COW! Love the COW!!!! Got to see the COW!!!

So that's my day today! Please do check out Grahame, Kyle and Dee's books and Emma's website! They are all brilliant!