Tag Archives: the night butterflies

NaNoWriMo Prep Rally!

be-bold

It’s that time again folks. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately known, is around the corner, peeping back at us from beyond the weekend. 50,000 words of first draft in 30 fun-filled days.

It can be a time of wild desperation for some, unbridled imagination for others. For me, it’s a bit of both.

People have been planning, strategising, outlining – some plot every single step of the way. Others don’t. But everyone preps in some fashion, even if it’s only in stolen thoughts of the month to come, thinking, Wow, I should have done more prep by now…

Either way, when the flag falls, I’ll be there. I’ve finished (and therefore won!) three years in a row. This will be my fourth endeavour.

It’s such a good time for me creatively. Watching a graph of your word count take on the ideal diagonal line is a statistical carrot on a stick (/whip) that drives me to succeed. It makes me prioritise my writing and rally with other authors doing the same. Everyone’s on the same side with a common goal, cheering one another on. No one wants anyone else to fail and you don’t win over the fallen carcasses of your foes, so it’s a special kind of competition with a special place in my heart. Like craps.

Publishing The Night Butterflies came out of my first NaNo skirmish, and this year I’m going to complete the first draft of the final book in my fantasy trilogy in progress, The Luminosa. There is so much work to do when the month is done, but that month is so important. It’s a battle cry that echoes through infinite fictional worlds as well as this one, and sets the intent for success.

So wish me luck! And good luck to you if you have a book of your own to bring home this November – be bold! I’ll see you on the battlefield…

A Roam With A View

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Giant’s Gate Falls, Milford Sound

I’m all over the place at the moment – up hill, round coast, down dale – hitting highlights of the south island of NZ before heading to the north, and thence home to the UK for Christmas (if anyone missed the memo back there – Hey! I’m coming home for Christmas!).

Working on the road comes with its unique set of challenges – locating pockets of signal and persuading my phone to tether to pick up email the most perfidious. Often the most beautiful spots are the most out of touch, and while it’s wonderful to be lost, I can’t be too free-range or I won’t be able to afford the road user charges. Which don’t half rack up.

But despite any drawbacks, it’s a delight to embark on a life that reminds me how much joy there is to be found in the simplest of pleasures. A year ago, I couldn’t have contemplated too much time solo, but after a winter season of unsurpassable social activity, through ice hockey, snowboarding, and playing with the best pals Queenstown has to offer, I’m due a hiatus – a pause to get back to the more creative side of life and get more writing out in the world.

I love waking up smelling of campfire and dreams, and I love seeing friends after a spell in only my own company. I love exploring new horizons and witnessing the wildlife there. And I love being free. But I also love to create something out of nothing, and that’s what I’ll be doing this November.

‘Tis the week before NaNo, and all through the house….not a writer ain’t prepping and using their nouse.

For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) involves writing a 50,000 novel in 30 days. My debut NaNo led to the publication of my debut novel, The Night Butterflies. Usually, my prep involves wishing I’d done more prep. But this year I’m writing the sequel to last year’s manuscript, Luminosa, half of which blew out the window of the van in a gale, but which I’ve still managed to look over this month (life on the road eh, you can’t make it up).

I’m a pantser not a plotter, in all walks of life. But I’m planning to succeed. And I’m looking forward to taking the next step in this story, the next step in my writer’s wanderings, and seeing what lies over the waterfall.

Are you gearing up for NaNo or just readying for the next step in your journey? What lies over the waterfall for you?

Ideas Worth Spreading: TEDx Queenstown – Illumination

TEDx Queenstown

“Live for Awesome” – Cam Calkoen

Anyone who’s read this blog regularly since I started winding words together in early 2013 will know that Queenstown New Zealand, of Middle Earth & bungy-jumping fame, is not only one of the most beautiful and vibrant places in the world – it’s where I make my home. It’s where I wrote my first book and where I founded my business. And I love it here.

I can go on and on about the mountains and lakes, the activities and aesthetics, the bars and buzz, and, yes, the real estate and rentals… But have I said enough about the people that put the extreme-ideas-capital of the world on the map?

It was my great privilege to volunteer at TEDx Queenstown this weekend. Queenstown’s movers and shakers have fingers in a great many pies, but the creative cooks of this fast-paced, entrepreneurial hub came together to put on something particularly special when they took up the TED mantle.

For the uninitiated, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s a non-profit devoted to communicating ‘ideas worth spreading’, mostly in the form of 18 minute talks. It all began with a California conference the year I was born, 1984, and since then has whipped its way across the world with the help of TEDx events, where the x indicates the event has been independently organised by local volunteers to bring the spirit of TED to the community. All talks are recorded and made freely available on the interwebs.

This year, over 4000 hours of volunteer work went into illuminating Queenstown with the words of some of the finest inspirational speakers the world has to offer. Volunteering, I didn’t get to see everyone live, but those I did get to witness absolutely blew me away.

I’d been looking forward to Trey Ratcliff, local travel photographer extraordinaire, but all I caught was the thunderous applause from the other side of the door I was guarding – needless to say I’m looking forward to the recording! I nearly had a heart attack when I saw he’d followed me on Twitter.

My highlight from setting up on the Saturday was getting to see Graeme James rehearse. On the Sunday I was lucky enough to catch his show-stopping speech, with its powerful instrumental punctuation proving how you can reach people through music.

Mark Balla‘s toilet humour was a juxtaposition to a serious message that really made you stop and think about the things we take for granted – his organisation aims to make sustainable sanitation a reality for the whole world. Jamie Fitzgerald‘s rousing talk was as motivating as they come – inspiration to succeed from an adventurer who’s walked unaided to the South Pole and who holds the world record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.

Closing off the day’s brilliance was a name I didn’t previously know but will now never forget – Cam Calkoen. He is beyond a doubt one of the finest and most incredible people I’ve ever heard speak – a standing ovation tells me that more than one person will have walked away believing, like him, that absolutely anyone can live their dream.

And that’s the truth. Anyone can make their mark on the wall of the world. Not only the speakers proved that to me, but the people behind the scenes, seeing it run smoothly, but, above all, making it possible for inspirational ideas to spread – for people to catch fire and light up others upon leaving, in keeping with the theme of illumination.

How wonderful, how powerful, how world-changing words can be.

Who is the most inspirational person you’ve heard speak? Are you a TED fan? Have you ever been involved behind the scenes of something special?

What Happens Over Coffee With Helena Hann-Basquiat

Chai Latte

Something a bit different again this week! As I invite you to be a fly on the wall. The inimitable Helena Hann-Basquiat invited me for a coffee, and this is what happened… One thing I will say before I hand over to Helena – make sure to click the PUBSLUSH link at the very, very end. Anyone who isn’t yet a Dilettante fan is in for a treat!

In October 2014, Sara Litchfield released her first novel, The Night Butterflies. Helena Hann-Basquiat currently has a Pubslush campaign taking pre-orders for Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two, and is also publishing a Shakespearean-style play, a tragi-comedy called Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. They sat down across International Time Zones to chat.

Overheard over coffee at Helena’s…

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Well, Sara, this time zone thing is quite strange. So I’m going to ask what everyone in the Western Hemisphere wants to know — what are tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers?

me2

I’m afraid I’m keeping that under my hat! I don’t want to mess with the space-time continuum.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Timey-wimey and all that. I get it. Now, I’d offer you a beverage, but as it’s kind of tea time for you and nearly bed-time for me, I’m not sure what to offer. I did have the very strangest drink this evening, by a soda company called Jones Soda — it was Peanut Butter and Jelly flavoured soda.

me2

Well, with my nut-allergy, I’ll definitely pass on that! Wrong on so many levels! A cup of English breakfast is always my preference, though I do fancy a chai latte now and again as a treat.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Would you believe that it was NUT FREE???? Worrying, I’d say. I’m glad I tried it, but I never want another again. And Chai lattes are a special treat now and again, aren’t they?

me2

Haha no way – and I’m still not tempted.. But a chai is deeeelicious.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

So, I confess, I’ve been looking forward to sitting down and talking to you ever since I finished Night Butterflies — but life and time zones, and Pubslushes and such. But here we are.

me2

It’s a pleasure! Sorry I’ve been hard to pin down myself, moving country every two weeks… Congratulations on the campaign being live!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Thank you – yes, your vagabond lifestyle has definitely kept you in the wind. Did you get any inspiration from travelling? Any new insights?

me2

Definitely – the funniest ideas come to me when I’m sleep-deprived and in transit for one! But I also try and capture the feeling of excitement I get on entering a new country, with the boundless possibilities lying in the landscape, and try to pin that feeling into words – I want people to feel that kind of excitement when they turn a page of my books-to-be.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Sleep deprivation tends to be an inspiration for me. The last three days I’ve woken in the middle of the night, and after tossing and turning for a couple hours, I start dreaming up story ideas. Sometimes I ask myself the strangest questions – like, “What if Jessica B. Bell had written The Velveteen Rabbit?”

me2

Haha! Gosh, maybe she did! That is one creepy piece of work…

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Wait ’til I’m done with it…

me2

Was your Star-Crossed (People of the Manatii) idea a middle-of-the-night episode?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

NO… would you believe the genesis of that came from my daughter? She had come to me with a story idea about an island of women, and mermaids and such — and I dumped in a spoonful of Lord of the Flies, an ounce of Heart of Darkness, and just a pinch of Call of Cthulu and Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft, and it became something a bit more mature. She still helps be brainstorm stuff for it every now and again.

me2

That’s amazing!! I wish I’d kept a log of some of the out-of-the-box ideas that came to me as a child – I’m sure I could work with them now! I can see those elements – and having been privileged to sneak a peek at the first part, I am so over-excited to read the next!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

All good things… now, you and I happen to share a favourite book — do you want to talk a bit about how Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 influenced Night Butterflies?

me2

Well, from the starting line in both – we’re playing with fire. Burning, on so many levels, permeates TNB as well as F451 – burning up, burning out, incineration of ideas and hope.. And there’s a return from an internal inferno – a revolution against turning free-thinking to ash.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I saw a lot of parallels in terms of blind acceptance — in Fahrenheit, people voluntarily drug themselves to accept the state of society — it’s a bit harsher in Butterflies. I also saw a lot of Faber — the retired university professor from Fahrenheit — in Butterflies. That sort of shell-shocked, cowardly response. Hiding from the truth of things.

me2

Yes – there’s definitely a retreat and regression, partly-medicated but partly from the loss of a will to fight on. And you have people playing the opposite of their roles – Mothers who are not nurturing, leaders and scientists who are not improving or progressing welfare, just as firemen are starting fires, not quenching them – hurting people rather than helping.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Oh, what a great way to put it – that role reversal. Forgive me if I’ve asked before, but have you read Wyndham’s Midwich Cuckoos? (Readers might be familiar with the film version Village of the Damned). The kids in Butterflies are every bit as creepy as the kids from Cuckoos.

me2

No but I know the film! And when you mentioned it, it went straight on my to-read list!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Brilliant. And Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood. Big influence on me – in fact, I once described the whole People of the Manatii trilogy as a mix of Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies and Lovecraft. A strange mix, but I’m a strange person.

me2

Ah I’d agree with that – the description of the book rather than you! Atwood is a massive influence. The Handmaid’s Tale is a story that stays with you. Have you read Oryx and Crake?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Yes, and Year of the Flood — but haven’t read the newest one in that line. She’s a force of nature. But then, so are you, I think. You, like our mutual friend Lizzi, seem bent on making the world a better place. Can you tell me what brought about this philosophy of yours — the whole Right Ink on the Wall idea?

me2

Ah! To be mentioned like that along with Atwood & Lizzi is beyond compliment thank you! The philosophy of Right Ink On The Wall began as the story behind my editing business. I believe in the power of naming, and I just really wanted to convey in a play-on-words the idea that what we do matters. That the world is like a wall on which we leave our mark. And that whatever we write, whatever we do – we should remember that it is recorded, and aim to leave the right sort of ink behind us for others to witness, encouraging them to live a life of ideas as well – one worth reading. The root is the doom-laden phrase ‘the writing on the wall’, which I reclaimed in a fashion – we may have these short lives, but that gives us a reason to really live. Lots more on the background here if you want to go a bit deeper – http://rightinkonthewall.com/2013/08/whats-in-a-name/

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I think it’s an excellent reminder. I’ve left such a mess behind, I’m trying to embrace it ironically and hope no one notices. But speaking of the past, I really go into it with Volume Two of Memoirs. I remember you and I just happened to stumble into each other on line when I was writing one of the more painful stories.

me2

Ah yes, but you can really learn something from making a mess. And sharing your past makes one hell of a read! Very excited to receive Volume Two. When I first spied you on that Valentine’s, it was literally love at first read. If I remember a’right, both instalments of the story were freshly-pressed – it blew so may people away. So if that’s the stuff Volume Two is made of, I’ll start stock-piling tissues now!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I do feel like I picked up a better stride with Volume Two, as far as storytelling goes. But don’t worry, there are plenty of laughs as well. I can’t stand just one flavour. Always have to keep moving on to the next thing. So what do you have on the go at the moment? Any new writing projects?

me2

I look forward to the laughs as well then! Well, I have a fantasy trilogy in the telling, tentatively-titled The Luminosa… Another dark world where the question is whether hope can win out in the end…

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Well, like Penny says, ‘It’s all about the trilogy, bitches…”

Have you done much writing on it? Or is it still in the brainstorming stage? Part two – how much planning do you usually do before you just dive in?

me2

Well I wrote the first draft of the first book during NaNoWriMo, as I did for TNB – so there’s a hot mess there to tidy up! Parts 2 and 3 require some heavy-duty brainstorming, which will be a departure from my norm – which is minimal planning, maximum pantsing, seeing where the words take me.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

It can be surprising. I started writing this morning, not knowing exactly where it would go — I just had a scene in my head and about 3/4 of the way through I suddenly realized what I had, and the excitement just took over. But I can’t say any more about that just yet…

me2

Ooh, the suspense! I never know what you’re going to come out with next – you seem able to master so many styles / genres – so it’s always very exciting!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

You know, I actually don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not working on a project! And I’m thrilled that we’re going to get to work on one together very soon! Sounds like we’re both going to have exciting years.

me2

Absolutely! I can’t wait to see what comes out of it! Thank you for inviting me on board the Dilettante express.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Okay, a couple of random questions:

a) Blue and Black or White and Gold and b) You go to a record store. You have London Calling by The Clash, Small Change by Tom Waits, Automatic for the People by R.E.M. and Let it Be by The Beatles in your hands, but you can ONLY buy one. Which one do you buy?

me2

Oh lord, that bloody dress – white and gold. And in perfect harmony with my thoughts on a), my other answer is Let It Be!

——

 

me2Born in the English midlands, Sara earned a Masters in Theology at the University of Cambridge before becoming a reluctant big-four accountant in London. She is now recovering in the southern hemisphere, where she devotes herself to all things words and wonderful from her base in Middle Earth (sometimes known as New Zealand). She blogs on happiness and hope at www.rightinkonthewall.com, which is also home to her editing business and publishing division, RIW Press – all aim to make the right mark on the wall of the world.

http://authorsaralitchfield.com/books/

https://www.facebook.com/rightinkonthewallbysaralitchfield

https://twitter.com/saralitchfield

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8729036.Sara_Litchfield

http://www.pinterest.com/rightink/right-ink-on-the-wall-by-sara-litchfield/

CoverIt is always dark. Warmer than it should be. The sun is a dull glower of reproach, only sometimes visible through the fallout. A once-majestic university town is crumbled, ashen and divided. The Men have made their home the Facility, where they develop the medication to combat the radiation that would otherwise kill those left alive.
 –
Another day at school for Teacher. Another morning of bullying and torment from a batch of doll-like triplets more violent and unbalanced by the day. They are the nightmare product of Project Eden, the operation devised by Leader for the survival of the community, seeded in the Mothers without their consent.
 –
Teacher has hope. She has a secret. When it is uncovered by Jimmy-1, a triplet who might be different, what will it mean for his future and hers?
 –
Not just another dystopian novel. New author Sara Litchfield explores what it means to be a child, a mother and a monster in a chilling world devoid of comfort.

NOTE TO READERS:

I LOVED this book. I’d go door to door selling this book. Here’s the review I wrote on Amazon:

In a world saturated by Hunger Games clones, The Night Butterflies is a refreshing, intelligent, well written alternative to the pseudo-dystopian novels that currently fill the shelves. This is no teenage angsty love triangle story. The characters in this novel aren’t complaining that their freedom or rights have been taken from them — they are, instead, stripped of their very humanity. In a post-war world where the very air is poison, Men and Women are separated, as a mysterious Leader and his circle of Men seek to develop medicine to keep everyone alive, but also, that thing that is crucial for a species to continue — healthy procreation.
This is where they have gone wrong — as wrong as possible — and the Mothers live in fear of their cruel, compassionless, inhumane children.
But suddenly, something begins to change for a couple of the characters, and a ray of hope begins to shine. Some of the children appear to be different, and some of the Mothers appear to be waking up from the drug induced stupors they usually stay in.

Lichfield uses multiple narrators, each with unique voices, even incorporating a sort of raw patois for one of the narrators, a young man who has not learned how to speak correctly. This was an inspired choice of storytelling method, giving the reader multiple points of view, and glimpses into the thoughts, fears, and motivations of each character.

One of my favourite novels of all time is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, along with Wyndham’s Midwich Cuckoos, Moore’s V for Vendetta and Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. Sara Lichfield’s The Night Butterflies handles the topic of degradation and fear, and a society that has forgotten how to be human with equal skill and maturity. The rediscovery of the joys of connection with other human beings that happens with her characters is just as powerful as, for instance, Guy Montag’s awakening in Fahrenheit 451.

She is a truly gifted writer, and I will be adding this book to my list of books I read every year or so just to remind me why I read and why I write. To try — to keep trying — to create something as beautiful and inspiring as this.

—-

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

There And Back Again – Finding Direction In 2015

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Midnight 31/12/14

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Midnight 31/12/14

Happy new year! Here we are in 2015 and I hope it’s a wonderful one for you all! The festive road trip has finished and I’m back in Adelaide with much more movement to look forward to. And who knows where I’ll end up? I certainly don’t.

But that’s not a bad thing. A steady state has its comforts and attractions, but life has been a wonderful whirlwind since I left London three and half years ago, and the volatile roller coaster doesn’t seem about to stop. Coming to the beginning of a new year and looking back as well as forward – life has more highs than lows. Sometimes you just have to seek them out. Sometimes you need to take a shovel.

All I know is that it was a brilliant idea to end up in Sydney to see out the old year and in with the new – with the biggest of bangs. I adore fireworks and want to live my life like one – going off in all directions, popping, fizzing, delighting, colourful, crazy and illuminating. It doesn’t matter which way you’re going as long as you’re causing a ruckus on the way, filling as many lives as possible with light, laughter and love.

Many people will have so much they want to achieve this year, having achieved so much already – best of luck with it. Just don’t forget to stop, look around you, smell the roses, watch the sunsets, notice others, and leave the people you pass the happier for having known you. Strive as much as you like, but enrich those around you as well as yourself. Sing and dance, but invite others to add their voices and join the foxtrot. Put being plentiful in the soul before the pocket, and share.

Technically, ’tis the eleventh day of Christmas (who knew the twelve days start rather than end on Christmas day?!). So here’s a parting gift from my lovely friend and wonderful illustrator’s collection. As the familiar festive sights and scents fade away for another year, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas around and enjoy the whole twelve months ahead giving, loving and hoping. Everyone will have a better time for it.

What do you hope for this year? I hope it finds you.

Eleven Pipes Piping

(c) 2013 NKW-Illustration. All Rights Reserved.

* * *

Looking for something new to read this year? Enter the world of The Night Butterflies and join the search for hope amidst horror…002.5_Night Butterflies

In A Parallel World…

Doctor Who: Bad Wolf Bay

David Tennant with Billie Piper, Dr Who, Season 2, Episode 13

Doctor Who, Season 2, Episode 13. I woke up this morning, put on the TV while I pottered around the flat tidying up, and that’s what came on.

For non-hardcore fans, or people who aren’t fans at all (baffled face), this is the episode where Dr Who (David Tennant) is separated from his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). They are torn apart into parallel worlds through a series of events where – look, just watch the episode. But first watch all the preceding episodes so the pain of this parting isn’t lost on you.

Why has this sparked a post? Well, along with making me cry, seeing this episode again made me think.

There’s a theory that for every decision every person makes, the universe is splintered into an infinite number of parallel worlds living the realities where a different decision was made and/or a different outcome experienced.

It can be as small as thinking that, in a parallel world, this particular episode wasn’t on when I turned on the TV, which probably meant I didn’t write this particular post. It can be as large as thinking, in a parallel world, the Nazis won the war. For an infinite number of moments, an infinite number of possibilities.

In a parallel world, the alien horde didn’t pass us by last week and instead decided we were worth invading. You get the idea.

I might easily not have turned the TV on at all this morning. I don’t normally. I haven’t lived somewhere with a TV since I left London (when, funnily enough, David Tennant was still the Doctor). I wouldn’t be here in Adelaide if I hadn’t been broken up with in Queenstown. What if that hadn’t happened? I spend a lot of time wanting to go back to how it was or how it might have been, wanting it to be different. But it’s not – not in this particular world.

But, overall, I like this particular world. I’ve had the chance to travel all over it; I make a living doing a job I enjoy; I have wonderful friends; I can go wherever I want. I’m free. If I hadn’t quit my job working as an accounting professional for Ernst & Young three and a half years ago, where would I be now? Who would I be? I might never have met previous partner-in-crime at all, and we had three amazing years together with a forever of friendship to come. I might never have started my business, Right Ink On The Wall, which I love and which grows as I grow. I might never have published my book, The Night Butterflies, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

So, instead of mourning what could have been and decisions that might have been different, I’m going to focus on what could happen now, what could happen next, now this new world of infinite possibilities has opened up in this of all possible worlds. Who knows what could happen tomorrow? Or the next day? It could be beyond amazing. Given the choice in five or ten years’ time, I might decide I would never have wanted to miss it. So it’s a good job I’m here.

What parallel life could you be living?  Would you go back and change something big, if you could?

On a completely related note, I adore David Tennant. If I could have changed anything about the moment I met him, when he was filming for Einstein & Eddington at my college in Cambridge, it would be not turning into the epic failure of a fan girl who couldn’t utter an intelligent word in his presence (can you tell from my smile?!). Oh, and I would have done my hair that day.

David Tennant and Sara Litchfield

David Tennant with Sara Litchfield, St John’s College, Cambridge, May 2007

A Little Bit O’ Fan & A Wee Smidgen O’ Fare

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 7.36.07 PM

(c) 2013 NKW-Illustration. All Rights Reserved.

I feel torn into two people at the moment: Personal Me and Professional Me. They could as easily be called Whiney Me and Writer Me.

Whiney Me still has what’s left of her heart weighed down with an anchor. She wakes and huddles in the covers, limbs heavy, takes a peek into the cavity in her chest and continues to feel sad that she doesn’t miraculously feel better post break-up. She holds out hope, though, that one day she’ll wake up grinning again.

Writer Me has much to do, gearing up to win National Novel Writing Month at the end of the week and trying furiously make sense of her story, all while watching last year’s effort spread its wings and working to see opportunities blossom and scratches ratchet up in the ‘win’ column.

Of course, despite a little duality, Writer Me and Whiney Me being in essence the same person – they each have a little say in each other’s lives. Writer Me can’t help but at times find her pen a little woebegone, her protagonist a little weak, her work-in-progress a little wistful. But, meanwhile, Whiney Me can’t help but smile at some of the surprises and delights cropping up for Writer Me, and it’s those I’d rather focus on today.

So, in the spirit of cheer, here are some raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens in the form of five pieces of Night Butterflies news:

1. I had my first author interview with the lovely Sara Letourneau over at her brilliant blog. 

This was a lot of fun. Sara is one of the people I’m most happy to have met during Project Get Published. Take a peek for a look into my messy mind and some insights into the story. Sara’s also interviewed Mary Weber, author of Storm Siren – so I’m already keeping good company!

2. A short-story prequel to my novel has been published in the ‘Secrets’ issue of New Zealand magazine The Source.

This gives me thrills because it’s awesome to appear in something I always read myself, and it’s my first published magazine piece!

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3. My book is breaking into libraries.

As with all books published in the country, two copies of The Night Butterflies sit in the collections of the National Library of New Zealand. But approaching a library I frequent as a reader was a completely different experience and getting onto the shelf was such a brilliant piece of news to receive. I’d been so nervous for my first meeting as a published author when I went in to speak with the buyer for The Queenstown Lakes District Library. She kindly arranged for The Night Butterflies to be reviewed, with the result it was purchased for their collection. As far as milestones go, it’s a *big* one for me, made all the better for so many lovely people being delighted about it as well.

4. My book is having a party!

Upon reading one of Anne R Allen’s (always) valuable posts, on talent perhaps being overrated, I arranged for The Night Butterflies to be listed on Bookbzz.com. Little did I realise that posting about it would lead to the wonderful opportunity to have a virtual book party next week! And you’re all invited 🙂 It will be hosted by the lovely Nicole Grabner at The Whole Plot Thing (Facebook invite here). If you can’t make it (a little on the late side for my UK friends, sorry!), do pop over & visit Nicole’s lovely site anyway! Her book parties are just spreading their wings and I’m so happy to be a part of it all – The Whole Plot Thing is going to be a brilliant place to visit for news on fresh, engaging reads and their authors.

5. The Night Butterflies is starting to get some reviews.

So far I’ve had the book picked up by two wonderful book reviewers at Through The Wardrobe Door and A Bibliophile’s Reverie. I can’t wait for their feedback! And so far reviews are off to a promising beginning on Amazon. Garnering reviews is such a boost and so, so valuable for an independent author. If you can add to the collection, please oh please do!

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And there we have it – five things to backflip about 🙂 It’s so easy to focus on the negatives in your own life and the positives in everyone else’s. It’s wonderful being happy for your friends, but, with a little effort, I think you can find value in celebrating your own successes too.

Have two sides of your life ever taken drastically different trajectories? I think it’s important to focus on the one that’s looking up and find cause for a party where possible 🙂 On which note, do RSVP

Queenstown, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

Plane

Fly away from Queenstown and you leave this view behind you…

Friends and neighbours, sorry for my silence. I’ve been up and down, round and round… And now I’m in South Australia. Adelaide to be precise. It’s transpired that I’m going to be here for the rest of the year. I came via two other states. In Victoria I stopped in Melbourne, where I gained two hours, then I headed to Western Australia and spent a few halcyon days in Perth, where I gained three more (though my good friend’s 30th birthday celebrations may have stolen a few years of my life). I then hopped down to Adelaide via Melbourne, where I lost three hours but then managed to claw back a measly half. In summary, I’m quite confused. I’m not entirely sure what the real time or date is. But I do know where and who I am.

I also know what I am. I am no longer even a part-time reluctant accountant. I am fully freelance. I am a published author and managing director of my own book editing business. I am a wandering writer and renegade rover of this oyster of a world we live in. I didn’t choose to be cut adrift. But we can only make choices when it comes to what we can control. When it comes to ourselves. Our location, our occupation, our outlook on life and love, lost and otherwise. We can choose not to be beaten, not to be broken, whatever happens. We can choose to bounce back.

Of course, when we’re coming back from being knocked down, it helps to have friends, all around the globe, offering their support and inviting you into their homes. When you’ve lost your own, someone else’s home can be a sanctuary. And that’s how I come to be here, in the beautiful eleventh floor pad of an apartment block in the centre of Adelaide, with a balcony looking east out onto the hills and showcasing the sunrise, fitness facilities shared with the Crowne Plaza next door, and incomparable company.

I know what I’m doing here. I’m writing my second novel (here we go again, National Novel Writing Month!). I’m convalescing. I’m seeing old friends and new places. I’m firing up to gain more business. And I’m becoming even more who I want to be – just in time to turn thirty come Sunday (twitch, twitch).

So I said so long to Queenstown, but it won’t go anywhere, and I’ll be back. It is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the world, where I’ve had the time of my life with some of the best people I’ve ever met. I went on a wee pilgrimage before I left to take shots of some of its highlights away with me. I’ve included just a few of these below.

Have you ever left somewhere with a heavy heart? Did you ever go back? Carrying a heavy heart is like flying with excess baggage – expensive and frustrating. I’m terrible at packing, but I’m aiming to reorganise things and travel lightly into the future.

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Rum Curries

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Lake Wakatipu

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Basket of Dreams, Queenstown Hill

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Lake Hayes

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Queenstown Hill Summit

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Bob’s Cove

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Glenorchy Road

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Macetown

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Arrowtown to Macetown Track

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12 Mile Delta

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Have you read The Night Butterflies? Grab your copy here! Would you recommend it? Support your friendly indie authors – leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads 🙂

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RIW Press Presents The Night Butterflies

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The Night Butterflies – Out Now!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that my first novel, The Night Butterflies, has been published by Right Ink On The Wall’s publishing division, RIW Press, and is now available to buy in paperback and e-book.

What’s It All About?

It is always dark. Warmer than it should be. The sun is a dull glower of reproach, only sometimes visible through the fallout. A once-majestic university town is crumbled, ashen and divided. The Men have made their home the Facility, where they develop the medication to combat the radiation that would otherwise kill those left alive.

Another day at school for Teacher. Another morning of bullying and torment from a batch of doll-like triplets more violent and unbalanced by the day. They are the nightmare product of Project Eden, the operation devised by Leader for the survival of the community, seeded in the Mothers without their consent.

Teacher has hope. She has a secret. When it is uncovered by Jimmy-1, a triplet who might be different, what will it mean for his future and hers?

Not just another dystopian novel. New author Sara Litchfield explores what it means to be a child, a mother and a monster in a chilling world devoid of comfort.

So… Release The Kraken Links!

The Book is available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com.au (and elsewhere in the world if you’re so situated, message me for a link or search your local Amazon for the title, woop!)

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It’s also available as an e-book from Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo 🙂

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Special Edition On Preorder

Last but not least, I’m offering a limited number of paperbacks on preorder from RIW Press. These special edition books, with a choice of two cover designs, come signed with a message from the author and a complementary bookmark. This print-run is in the pipeline and shipping charges apply. Contact me with your address for a quote and pay via Paypal once the books come into stock (eta 28 days).

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Save A Bunny Rabbit, Write A Review!

If you do end up reading, please, please go one step further and take a couple of minutes to leave a review – on Amazon, Goodreads or wherever it is you buy! Or get in touch directly! I’d love to chat 🙂 Honest reviews are so valuable to independent authors – it’s hard to be a teeny tiny fish in such a talent-filled pool.

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Thank you for reading!

I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to my constant, faithful readers and to first-time visitors, all the new friends I’m constantly making on this crazy publishing journey. Your support, advice, encouragement and engagement mean the world to me.

Sara xxx

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

BUNNY

(c) 2014 NKW-Illustration. All rights reserved.

Life happens and, unfortunately, it’s not all springtime and rainbows. There are storms. The wind can be taken out of your sails, the bunny slippers stolen from your feet. Just when you think you couldn’t be happier, just when you think you’re safe.

But not being in a perpetual state of comfort is not a bad thing. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that life has rough edges and sharp corners, and it can’t always be controlled. This should engender a healthy respect for life; it should foster a feeling that nothing and no one should be taken for granted.

While I obviously never wish anyone to come to harm, I’m glad I don’t live a charmed life. I wouldn’t have anything to write about. On which note, I need to let you know that the countdown is almost over! Scarf-gate has been resolved. The battle is won and my first book, The Night Butterflies, is forthcoming!

 ….

I stopped writing there last night. Usually, I write a post all in one go and hit publish. But there was something I wanted to say, and I couldn’t quite say it. Then I read this post this morning by Gunmetal Geisha, You Probably Think This Post Is About You. Needless to say, I did. The messages in it are exactly what I wanted to share.

Don’t get too comfortable – because all your comfort can come to an end in a heartbeat. But enjoy the discomfort of uncertainty. Embrace every minute, every hour. Enjoy. Laugh. Love. I’d rather live an uncomfortable life – one of highs and lows, triumphs and defeats – than one lived in a single, steady trough, no dips, no peaks.

The Geisha says, ‘I’d like to think people are subject to the same amount of rejecting and rejection. But there are those who proclaim they’ve never been rejected. Good for them, I say, until it turns out they are the same people who say they don’t know what it feels like to be in love. Here’s what it feels like:  Opening your chest like a coat and letting in sunlight.  Naturally, you’re then open for the cold elements and letdown too. So it makes sense for a person all bundled in a safe, zipped-up chest not to feel either rejection or being in love. For myself, I choose to walk coatless.’

And so do I. As I ended up commenting: When someone is the sunshine, when it’s they who makes your day, every day, and suddenly the thing they want to change about their life is seeing You every day – that hurts. It makes a hole. It feels horrible and bitter and, while you’re still utterly in love, utterly immersed in someone else, their rejection of you makes you feel less and less in love with yourself, makes you feel less, full-stop. If the person you placed at the centre of your universe can’t love you, how will you find love?

But I’d rather walk through this world with coat cast off and feel like this right now than never know love in the first place. I’d rather be uncomfortable and cold sometimes – then know what it feels like to be warm again.

Do you walk through this world coatless? If you don’t, try unbuttoning it. There is nothing like the feeling of warmth on your skin, of love in your heart.