Is my writing good?

Dearest Diana,

Firstly, thanks for an ah-mazing bunch of books!! Cross Stitch (now better known as Outlander) was on my radar for ever and I can still clearly recall my mate Kellie raving about them yearsss ago and swooning over this kilt wearing Jamie. But alas, I seemed to never get around to it.

But then we got Lightbox (thanks Spark for that, and now Netflix too!) and I watched Outlander and Oh. My. God – I rushed to my Kindle and purchased that 1st book pronto. It was actually really wonderful to already have an idea of what the characters looked like, and let’s be honest – how feckin hot is that Sam Heughan in this role?? Jamie and Claire have been part of my life for a wee while now (big books for sure) and even though I’ve just finished the sixth book (A Breath of Snow and Ashes), they are still just as wonderful and entertaining.

But I digress…

What I actually wanted to say thank you for was a little nugget of wisdom that you shared in a Q&A in the back of A Breath of Snow and Ashes. The question was…

Jamie has tremendous sex appeal and his relationship with Claire is both passionate and tender. Were you at all surprised by your fans’ reaction to these characters and their relationship?

Part of what you replied was just such an eye-opening realisation to me….

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Right? Right? Like wow…. of course I read. Of course I know what I enjoy and find engaging… and from that I’ve rediscovered a renewed fervour around my writing. True, I’ve had plenty of rejections (yes, yes,yes – chiclit is a hard sell, we’ve heard it all before) but I still love to read it, and other people do too… so you know what, I’m going to write for them. And just publish these damned things myself.

So thanks, Diane – thanks for reminding me about my own power.

Love,

Me xx

Ps Because I’m tremendously proud of some of these, here are a few comments I’ve received from a beta group for my first book – ‘Almost mine’ (currently being edited for the next steps of self-publishing):

‘This story has me on the edge of my seat waiting for more!’ – Shauna, Canada

‘Bonita! I loved everything you sent! Really! The characters are all very authentic, and I felt like everything worked…’ – Christina, USA

‘You’re killing me. This is a cliffhanger. Seriously the best book I’ve read in awhile.’ – Traci, USA

And my favourite (and much-wheeled out) line from a rejection letter:

‘Your passion for writing shines through, both in your query letter and your writing sample. Your prose is smart, snappy, and fun to read.’ – Danielle Chiotti

 

 

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Love story(ies) & lessons

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Dear Emily,

I see you & your beautiful posts. It all looks wonderful & gorgeous and just so not my life – which is what makes it all the more alluring.

And then today, after heading down a bit of a emilyhenderson rabbit hole, I took an unexpected & delightful walk down your memory lane. It started here and landed up here… but i wasn’t reading it for the reasons you would’ve expected. See, i’m obsessed with our people’s (love) lives and admittedly, it’s often because i think that they might be so much better than my own!! (working on this as per my 40th manifesto).

Of course, when you offered me the chance to read about your (no doubt perfect) ‘ups and downs here‘, i was naturally ALL OVER THAT!!!! And then, within the 1st paragraph after reading He’s truly my soulmate, best friend, and generally my most favorite person in the world’, I really hunkered down for a good read of how my own marriage wouldn’t match up to the glamour, ease and all around awesomeness of yours (hmmm – really need to take that manifesto thing a little more seriously!).

But alas, it was everything but…. it absolutely had the ups AND the downs, some genuinely heart-breaking moments, some wonderful ‘eureka’ moments but mostly it was authentic, honest & real… and i loved how it reminded me (again) that we’re all just people at the end of the day having our own experiences & feeling the same things (both good & bad), just in different packages – and that no one actually knows anyone else’s story simply by their cover (that lesson is ringing bells from somewhere!!!!) – unless they open their story up to let you read their pages.

So thanks, lady, thanks for sharing YOUR love story – and reminding me ONCE AGAIN that life’s simply not perfect for anyone – regardless how it may seem from the outside… or how beautiful their Instagram page is. (I’ll let you have that win – you really are one styley lady!!)

Here’s to another 10 wonderful years to you both. xx

PS i’ve taken my pledge & do hope to do my bit towards more babies.

     

A big fat red middle finger

big fat middle finger

You know what’s fun about TTC? Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. Not the sex. Not the two weeks of waiting that’s inevitably filled with all sorts of hope filled nudges – even though you know – YOU KNOW – that it’s all bullshit and the only thing that’s real is whatever means positive on the end of a plastic stick that you’ve pissed on. Not the monthly crashing disappointment that follows said 2 weeks thanks to the big fat middle finger in your pants. And certainly not the redness that punches you in the face again and again and again for whatever reason requires the removal of your knickers. Whether it’s your 1st month of trying (and failing. miserably) or your 10th – it all sucks. Every. Single. Bit.

But you do it again. And again. And again. With no guarantee that you’ll ever see that smiley face, little cross or whatever. Because TTC sucks. Until it doesn’t. Or you move on. And that’s what I keep reminding myself every time I feel like shit & guilty that I’m not satisfied with the glorious gift I’ve already been blessed with once.

But maybe that’s just me. Yup, probably just me.

Life wants to work out the deets – so don’t mess with that.

wrong way

Dear Nicola,

I’ve never met you but I just wanted to say thank you for reminding me that life will ALWAYS have it’s own ideas of how things should roll.

You think you’ve got is sussed in your head, on your vision board, Pinterest or whatever, your star sign has indicated awesome changes, and you’re feeling pretty sure with what’s what.

Then life knocks on the door (or in this instance calls you) and gives you something ENTIRELY different to what you expected. So maybe we will land up staying in Waiuku (we’ve just bought the godamn house for God’s sake), but then maybe we won’t… either way, your call was a damned good reminder that we just need to focus on the essence of things – ’cause working out the details of the ‘how’ is defo one of life’s favourite things and she can get pissy when you mess with her plans.

So thanks – message received.

Love,

Me xx

PS I absolutely adore Collete Baron-Reid & she often blogs about this – here’s an example – so do pop over and see her… I’m sure you’ll love her as much as I do!!

A new era begins

Dear me,

Yowser! Good effort on the blog front last year – a whole ONE! Nice work. Ah, well, I s’posse it was better than none. Anyhoo… I digress.

Soooo… big day today – THE LAST DAY OF YOUR THIRTIES!!!! Wow. WOW! If it makes you feel any better – you are theoretically ALREADY into your 40th year, so you should have cried yourself a river last year – as that was in fact your LAST year of your thirties. No? Not helping. Ok, well, I tried.

Sooooo… here we are. Almost 40. Like officially. Interestingly enough, 2017 is a UNIVERSAL ‘1’ Year that represents the start of a fresh new cycle – that means new creativity, learning and growth. Nice. I do quite like those little synergies and synchronicities. But before one can move forward, one must reflect… and that’s why I’m writing to you, my dear sweet self, to have a look at what we’ve done, where we’ve been and what we’ve achieved so that we can look towards 2017 with hope, optimism and a whole bunch of chutzpah.

1997 – Bless, 20 years old and a world ahead of me. If memory serves me correctly, I was just finishing my travel & tourism diploma (what was I thinking with that – what a waste of time! If only I knew about being a psychiatrist or psychologist, journalist, producer, marketer, lawyer – ANYTHING but what I actually studied!!!!!). That was also my last year in Pretoria before heading to Oudtshoorn for love.

1998 – Ah, my 21st! Chubby as hell and not that happy in Oudtshoorn as it turns out. I really wasn’t a small town gal after all and love wasn’t enough. But hey, I was no longer working with ostriches (that MUST be a win) and stuck in the smallest travel agency EVER (seriously, we didn’t even ticket ourselves!). I did however have the cutest blue convertible volksie (thanks, Manne, for that and a whole bunch of other things too) and even though she broke down all the time, dayum, she was cute!

1999 – Another BIG YEAR. My OE beckoned, as did a one night stand that turned into my life partner. Now this year, THIS YEAR was one of my happiest ever. I LOVED Wales (shout out to Gaysie-babes and Dave xx) and I loved London. The Rose of York stole a small part of my hear and the people I met there still live in that tiny corner – Mark, Adam, Julie, Bridget, Wally (oh, how I adored you!!!!), Brenty, Tomek, Steve, Peter (who can forget that old curmudgeon!). The stories, the memories – they can go on and on and on forever. My waist line was tiny and the travelling constant… it wasn’t perfect but I LOVED IT ALL!!!!

2000 – Here it is. The year 2000… and I welcomed it in with the best New Year’s party at Hogmanay EVER!! Sonet was so much part of this year being what it was. I love you and always will my sweet dear pal. Riverboating and Wales with ma and pa. Ireland. Losing Peta. Turkey. Thin and oblivious. Develyn – constant, always there xx. Chellbell.

2001 – Time to go home. Or to New Zealand. But first Africa. What a trip, what a time. 9/11. Auckland.

2002 – Flightie (which I sucked at). First time skiing (also sucked at). First time to Aussie (hello there, beautiful Sunshine Coast…first trip I ever won!). First time to Fiji. A LOT of shopping with Michelle. As in All. The. Time. A strange encounter with a frenemy in the bank that turned into my soul mate (Michelle & Busy get this). My sheep gown – still with me, still loved more than other item of clothing (actually, what does that say about me??)

2003 – Cook Islands – I love you. First ever verbal warning – thanks Christina Boles 😉 (like I said, totally sucked at being a travel agent). Met mom and dad in Sydney. Back to New Zealand with me – 6 wonderful weeks in NZ. Bliss.

2004 – Hong Kong. Bledisloe in Wellington. Make-up course. Call centre job at DHL (the worst – being told when i can pee was defo not for me!!). New start with Mark. Lots of lessons. Lots of change. Yoga.

2005 – Can at last add ‘Event Manager’ to my job title. ‘The Notebook’ instantly added to my Top 10 movies list. Port Douglas. Bali. Cairns. Third nephew arrives into the world. I GOT ENGAGED in Africa. That was cool.

2006 –  Ah-maze Engagement Party! United Travel (and later Stella) blessed me with some of the most amazing women to work with – Wendy, Tracy, Cristy, D-dogg, Louise, PG, Nicci, Natalie, Kim, Caryn, Donna, Sally, Vicki, Gordon & James (they totally count in this category!)

2007 – Turned 30. Melbourne with Karla. Best Levi’s I’ve ever owned. Vanuata – three times! THE BACH!! 19 October – 1st panic attack and the start of a very long road back to emotional health! New Years in Fiji with tribe. Bula!

‘Always remember life is short; break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile’ – note in my 2007 diary.

2008 – So much around well being – naturopaths, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists, breathing specialists… as I clawed my way out of my anxiety. Heath Ledger – why, why, why. Wedding madness – Paola, Sonet and Amy will never know how much it meant to have them here. All of my family in NZ – mom, dad, Candi, Gary, Basi, Lexi and Thaddy, Gaynor & Dave, Paulie. 19 April – best day ever. SIX WEEK HONEYMOON!! Business class on Air New Zealand. Vegas. New York. Paris. Rome. Cinque Terra. Sorrento. Dinner in Athens with Karla, Chris, Chell & Adam. IN ATHENS! Still crazy when i think that we were all in Europe AT THE SAME TIME. Greek Islands. Thailand. Mel Hawkins. NZFW for the 1st time – I felt sooo damned cool!  Barack Obama. Book club (a total fail – realised I just like to read what I want to read). Sunday, 7 December – started my 1st book!!!!!!

2009 – Hawaii. South Africa with Mel. Kings of Leon…ah-maze! Writing, writing and more writing – “Almost mine” blossoms. Could this be my thing? Journalism course. Travel stories published in LUXURY.

2010 – Book rejected more times that I like to admit. But, although it was rejected a million times, there’s always my email from Danielle Chiotti. Gen-i, and a whole new chapter of wins and failures and never quite feeling good enough.

2011 – Work, work & more work. Work, work & more work. Pages and pages of an empty diary. 5,000 words on my 2nd book lost with a bad save – don’t write again for a YEAR! RWC 2011. Mostly a blur. SO happy to see the end of it.

2012 – More work. More empty pages in my diary. Another whole group of amazing ladies in my life. Kim and Hanna. Selena. Tania’s ‘Chicks at the Flicks.’ Citizenship. Mark graduates. A lot of sex. A lot of tears following a period. Eventually a positive pregnancy test!!! Leo on his way.

2013 – Pregnant. Bridesmaid. A baby. My proudest accomplishment in life pulls the carpet from under my feet and life as I know it changes forever. I miss my mom more than anything.

2014 – Diary completely empty bar one lone entry in January. Leo, Leo and more Leo. Photo after photo after photo of this wee little gift of ours. Mom and dad here for a much too short visit. Back to work – thanks Wendy, nice to have something for just me again.

2015 – No diary at all this year!! Still all about my small person and trying to be the best mother that I can be. Sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn’t. Lots of laughter. Lots of tears. Wrote 2 children’s books. #amomslife

2016 – No diary again. More of the same. Except we bought a house.

And here we are in 2017… turning 40, waaayyyy too chubby (think it’s officially called fat now as there’s 10kgs on top of the 10kgs i’ve been meaning to lose since early 2000’s!!), still NOT published and trying to get knocked up again to repeat the empty diary entries of 2013-15. At 40!!!! Holy shit. Madness. Well, lucky for me this is my ride and I get to decide how I’ll buckle up. So, let’s do this. Let’s kick the shit out of the next 20 years and make it EPIC. This bitch is ready for it.

Things I learnt along the way:

  • I compare myself to others way too much. I am good enough as I am (fake it till you make it, baby!)
  • Diaries are awesome – I’ll never let them drop off the radar again
  • I actually like having my birthday in January – starting off the new year with a clean slate feels good.
  • I can write like a mofo.
  • I’ve done stuff that I’m proud of and I’ll do some more – I just need to believe in myself and the magic will happen on its own
  • I love to travel. I miss it. I need to do more of it with my new wee family.
  • All is well. Always.

Happy birthday to me. You rock. I love you. xx

 

 

 

Escape to Hollywood (kinda)

I love movies. I love them whether i watch them in the cinema (this includes the whole process of crazy sized drink, much too large popcorn, and since I’ve arrived in NZ, the good old choc-top that then gets dunked into said ridiculously sized popcorn….H-E-A-V-E-N!!!), or even just on the couch. It’s glorious either way and i just adore being part of someone else’s crazy life. It’s for much the same reasons that i love reading. (I’ve covered this off on more than one occasion as my droves of regular readers would know ;))

A few years ago, i started going to the cinema alone. Yup, as in with no one else. I know – the horror of it for some!! But honestly, you’re in a darkened place – so no one will even notice, and you’re not s’possed to be talking. It kinda makes the movies the ideal place to go to on your own.

And i just love it. When i need to take five, i head to the movies. Last weekend was one such occasion and YAY, ‘How to be single’ was showing. I wanted to see this after catching the trailer at ‘Sisters’ (average at best, sorry Tina & Amy) and it sooo didn’t disappoint. I adore anything New York and hello, Rebel Wilson AND Dakota Johnson! #sowinning. Do go and see it if you want something light hearted and funny, especially with a girlfriend or 12. Will be perfect on DVD too if you miss it on the big screen. 

And on the note of movies, DID YOU SEE THE BELOW TRAILER????? There were tears. And snot. The book by Jojo Moyes, which I’ve only just re-read again without even knowing they’d made it into a movie, is one of my all time favourites. I’m sure i’ve crapped on about this before too, but as a writer i totally respect other writers that don’t go with the traditional ‘happy’ ending (‘One Day’, I see you). It’s a big call. I’m not sure I could do it. I usually  make an effort to NOT read books that are too ‘real life’ (since it kinda hands it’s own downers out quite freely) or have shitty endings, but this book. THIS BOOK. Lordy, I loved it. Please read it. ASAP. And let me know what you thought. And then see the movie. And let me know what you thought. (Of course  I’ll let you know what I think!!)

(As an aside, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ makes me sob without even being part of this movie).

After reading ‘Me before you’, I followed up with the sequel, ‘After you’. I was a bit reluctant to read it as it was kinda panned by a lot of readers but I really actually enjoyed it…even the bits that people were bitching about. (And it just reminded me again that only I can judge  if i enjoy something or not.. and the only way to know, is to see/read/try it myself.) (‘Luminaries’, this time I’m looking at you. Soz. Didn’t even get to the 2nd chapter. And I’ve read ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’. Twice.) But I digress… still on my Jojo buzz, I’ve just finished ‘The girl you left behind’. Again, really good, and I had real flashes of jealousy ’cause she’s pretty good at this writing stuff, old Jojo Moyes is 😉 I can’t wait to read some more of her books.

On the non-fiction front, i have to mention here that i read Sarah-Kate Lynch’s ‘Screw you Dolores!’ over the Xmas hols. What a hoot. Seriously, laugh out loud stuff. The meaning of the title is priceless and i’ve repeated the story to so many people already. But dear God, do not borrow the book from someone (library ok), or worse, tell her that you did, even if you’re gushing about the content at the time, ’cause she will cut you. But she knows how to make an amusing yarn.

And then i also got through Gala Darling’s  ‘Radical Self Love’. Although it took me 2 attempts to get into it, she’s got a lovely writing style and does offer some great advice. With self-esteem being such a major issue with a lot of us, i really love what Gala is trying to do – especially with a slightly younger audience. Loving ourselves (and the self-esteem that comes with it) seems to be a mega issue regardless of age, and to have someone out there saying to you, ‘Yes, go ahead, love yourself – you’re worth it’ (and they’re not selling make-up) can only be a good thing, right? Even this jaded 39 year old took pause on some of her suggestions.

Anyhoo… those are my rumblings for this week on what’s been amusing me. Oh, and Suits. But that needs a whole blog of it’s own!!!

BBxx

 

 

 

It’s a new day, it’s a new blog…

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Ooooohhhh, look at me being all fancy with my wordpress blog! I can now totes tick that off the ‘must-do’ list that has only been languishing there for, well, 5 years at least… possibly more!! Slow and steady wins the race, team!!

Feeling like it might well be third time lucky too after my other attempts over here and here. I loved being on blogger (damn the person that scored my url before i could!), but as i want to get serious about this blogging lark, word on the street is that you need to be over this way to be in with the cool kids. And since I’m still trying to get in with them, here i am! 😉

So, on this here inaugural blog… what’s touched me so much that i need to share it with my massive list of followers (so that’s basically my mom and Debs!!)?

Oh. My. God. This. Firstly, the actual music video totally cuts me up to start with so if you throw in a real life story of a beautiful boy whose life was cut way too short way too early…Oh. My. God. The tears. Do not watch is you don’t want to sob. My heart goes out to every single person that contributed to this video. What a beautiful memorial. I do hope that Ed sees it… our Ed is very good at delivering so let’s see what he does tonight at his concert at Mt Smart.

It also makes me tremendously sad though that Andrew will never get to see it. It’s such a shame that the very person at the centre of such an outpouring of grief and love and well, just everything… will never watch it. Of course, he may well – i’m no expert on what happens on the other side… but still, it’s a little sad i reckon.

Oh, i know that we all hope that our loved ones know how very, very dear they are to us. That they’re loved. That they’ll be missed if they weren’t here. But we only seem to really grand stand it, shout it, scream it, and go to these very beautiful lengths when someone has died for reals. If only we could all be at our funerals before we actually need them, hear what others really think of us, be able to bask in the amazingness of being us and celebrate who we are with all those that 100% wouldn’t change a thing.

So, let’s start a movement. Let’s treat every single birthday like a funeral. Stand up there and tell everyone in your life – so that includes anyone whose funeral you’d go to in the unfortunate even that you had to – exactly what you think of them and how they’ve touched your life. Every. Single. Detail. Make that video. Send that emotional card with way too many superfluous, descriptive and OTT words. Or just say what’s in your heart straight to their face. Yes, it may be uncomfortable for some, make you itch, wonder if it’s actually necessary. But it will be. It will because when that very sad day comes along when you have to do it for real, you’ll know 100% that your loved one already knew what you were going to say.

BBxx