100 Days of Writing: Character Development

It is day 29 of my 100 days of writing. I know it has been quite some time since I last wrote an update. All I can say is that I’ve had some ups and downs with this project during this time – but I have managed to squeeze in SOME form of writing each day.

I’ve managed to have a few days where I wrote 2,000 odd words – that was a huge pick me up. I’ve written in my journal, crosswords, written letters and postcards and I’ve been working more on the plot and character development.

Actually I’ve been working a whole lot on character development! As I have been writing my thousands or words, new characters I had no idea were emerging. So, I have got myself a blank sketch book and I’m going to put together a “character bible”. I read about it on a writers page I am on and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

I have more letters to write today, but hopefully tomorrow or next weeks Kindy days I’ll be able to work more on my Character Bible and have more days of writing thousands of words. I’m still looking to the positive – I have made more progress in this book during this 100 days project then I have previously. Perhaps this time I may finish it? 🙂

Until next time, (when hopefully I will have more to show you!)

Toni

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100 Days of Writing: Conquering My Fears

Can I let you in on a little secret?

I’m scared. There, I said it. I am scared of writing. I am scared of writing bad, I’m scared of writing well. I’m scared that I will never complete any book, and I’m scared that IF I complete a book – that no one will like it.

Every day for me is a struggle. I struggle to wake up in the morning, I struggle to put on a brave face – I struggle to smile and say that everything is going to be ok, and not show my fears. I struggle to be the parent that I really want to be, I struggle to show my best self, I struggle with my fears on a daily basis. And I struggle with my writing.

Here I am pouring my heart out to the internet, the world and my few followers. And I feel a fraud. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. Many people told me I can’t, and there have been a memorable few that have told me that they believe in me and that I can. Yet still I doubt myself.

I was told I can’t live off my writing – as I was not good enough. I was told that it “never made enough money” I was told that if I wanted to write, I had to look into being a journalist and study it at Uni. Then I was told I had to pass bursary English to get that journalism degree. I was held back. So I was told I had to find a career working as an office girl. However, I only went through the motions. Eventually I feel discouraged, downtrodden and lost.

So I shaved my hair for Charity – did a full Britney Spears. I found my joy in organising the campaign. I enjoyed the people I met, and felt good about giving money to a good cause. So, I looked into Event Management as a career – because I couldn’t be a writer.

I studied and worked; worked and studied. I worked 80 hours a week, all the while studying full time. I did my assignments between shifts and slept on the bus on the way between campus’. I took on another degree – dance. I had surgery and I finally burnt myself out.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue in 2010. I had to pull out of uni, reduce and eventually resign from work – and move back home with my parents. I lost my health, I lost my work, a few friends, and I lost my way.

When I moved home, I had to reevaluate my whole life, what I wanted and realise where I went wrong. I had to learn to walk again, before I could run, before I could dance again. And I had to learn to write again. I had to learn that it was ok for me to write – even if it was just for me.

A lot has happened in the past 7 years. I have slowed down. I have burned bridges. I have met my Husband, and created our wonderful family – and I have picked up the pen again.

Today I vow to continue writing, no matter what, no matter which form I choose – be it journal, blog, postcard or letter – It is a part of me and I need to face this fear. I’ve been avoiding writing some more of my Dragon Princess book since last Wednesday – partly due to burning myself out, and then partly because I’m scared to read and then match the 5,000 words I wrote that day. But I have a few hours before Kindy pick up, and a house all to myself. I will have my lunch, then write. I may not write 5,000 words, but at least I am trying, and that is all you can do when you are taking the first stumbling steps to conquer your fears.

Wish me luck!

Toni

100 Day of Writing: Finding the perfect wring spot

At home I currently sit at the kitchen table to write away. It’s not bad when I have the house to myself, as I am able to pace my writing and to take little breaks now and then (and I can leave my things on the table and not worry about them not being there when I come back!)

During the Summer months, I take off to the Auckland Botanical gardens, and pick a spot on the day that feels right for the mood I am in. In Winter and wet days, I go to a little cafe near here with an upstairs area that hardly anyone else goes to – so I am able to have the place to myself. There is something magical about this place – it is done up like a 1950’s living room. Well, it used to be. Unfortunately this place has changed hands in the last few months and the old owners took some of that furniture away. There is enough there to still enjoy the lounge, but it is not the same. Somehow, the vibe has gone along with the previous owners.

The coffee and food are still top-notch, It is just not the same. Perhaps it is just teething problems from the new owners, and all I need to do is wait a little until some of that magic comes back. I am willing to give this place another try, and continue going on the days that I need to get out of the house to write.

In the mean time, I will also look for a new place, and see if there is any that catch my eye. I have already formed a list in my head of the perfect places to write and check out – but some are more suited for people watching or finer weather. I think I might have to cast my net further afield… Pukekohe might just be the place to start. Watch this space – for here and below, I will enter my list of places in the South Auckland Area (and wider Auckland if I find a spot) and the types of writing I am able to get done in such places.

Takanini Area:

Friend of the Farmer at Kings Plant Barn:

I have written here a few times, and it is a nice little place to visit for meals. They make lovely coffees and cater to Gluten Free and have Organic food on the menu. In the past I have previously looked into having it as a venue for my Wedding (didn’t choose it because the weather was still cold in early spring and being in the garden centre, it still had the risk of mozzies  – which is not good for my Husband who reacts badly to their bites) These guys have also had a 1950’s style living room just off the side, and it was also the designated children area. Over the past year, that have changed it up a bit and made it more “child friendly” (which is awesome from a parents perspective, not so much a writers!) They also have a nice little seating area outside that looks over a pond with a row boat in the middle. Perfect setting to write a romantic scene/book. The prices are a bit up there, but if you are only going for a coffee or the odd occasion, it’s a good place to start looking for your “writing spot”

Ardmore Airport Cafe:

This cafe is a usual haunt for me and my family. We love the old warbirds and this is a perfect place to go to when you want to people watch and enjoy vintage airplanes. Great place to take the kids. They have standard menu, and will sub Gluten free bread for normal bread, but there are not many sole gluten free foods on the menu, so you will have to pick and choose. Nice coffee, and a great place to socialise with the extended family when they are in town.

 

Papakura Area:

Mottletop Cafe:

This is my favourite cafe that I was talking about from above. It took me ages to find this place, and it is a shame I don’t feel the vide there anymore. Again, I must say it could just be teething problems, as the food is still wonderful and the coffee is brilliant. I look forward to trying to extend my writing journey here. Downstairs it is perfect for socialising with friends. Not so child friendly as I’ve had my Son almost run out the door a few times and I’ve had to sprint to catch him before he got to the road. This is nothing to hold against this cafe, as if you have children who aren’t runners or you have them secure in a pushchair etc it should be fine. Keep in mind, not all cafes have to cater to your run away child. I just don’t like taking Max there because there are two too many easy ways that he can get loose and out onto the road before I have managed to untangle myself from my chair and work my way around other customers who are trying to enjoy their coffee.

Canopius:

This cafe hotspot is an awesome little nook at the bottom of Papakura’s main street. It has a certain hipster vibe, they make awesome coffee, have great organic food and cater to people with most food allergies and their dietary needs. By day it is a cafe, by night it is burger bar. I have yet to try the burgers out there, but if their other food is to go buy, it is to die for! Because it is small, it is not a very good place to sit for quiet writing (unless you manage to find a quiet time of day) However it is the best people spotting place I have found so far.

 

Waiuku Area:

The Shires:

The Shires in Waiuku is where we had our wedding, so naturally I am a little bit bias. If you are looking for a nice place with an excellent meal – look no further. It’s quiet during the day and they cater to people with food allergies. A nice place to write and people watch. I haven’t tried writing there yet, but plan to in the coming weeks – I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

 

 

100 Days of Writing: Unexpectedly Begun!

It is Day Five of my 100 Day Project, and although it started with a bang – it has truly slowed down. I almost feel as if I am destined to spend another 20 years just writing down notes, plot and character overviews for this book. On Wednesday I surprised myself; I wrote the first few chapters of Dragon Princess! At 5,000 words, I am feeling quite pleased with my accomplishment. I would like to say that since then, I have written over 20,000 words – but I can’t. Today is the first day that I have put pen to paper again and written down three pages of “shower ideas” in my compendium.

However I have to be realistic. There is no way that I will be able to squeeze 5,000 words in every day. Wednesday, the setting was just right – I had the house to myself and I was able to focus on the task at hand. Other days, I will have to take it in my stride and get the writing done at any spare moment I’m able to put pen to paper. As much as writing has always been a part of my world for as long as I can remember, gone are the days that I can lock myself away in my room and dedicate hours upon hours, to my craft. I am a parent, a wife and I have a whole household to manage. Don’t get me wrong – there is a whole lot more to me then just being a parent and a housewife – but those are part of the top most important things in my life and they take president over everything else. Even writing.

I have learnt my lessons from the past – if I stretch myself too thin, I am unable to cope and be the best version of me that there is. Although I would really love to have this book (and lets face it, series) finished by the end of the 100 days –  I have never been a sprinter. I am a relay runner. I take my time, and cut it into pieces to make it more manageable – and I succeed better when I rely and work with my team.

Wednesday, although it was AMAZING to learn that I did indeed have it in me to write that many words in one sitting – it exhausted me! Yes, I want to write my book, but I also want to live my life and be there for my Son. I know that if I force myself to write and become more absorbed in the process, it will not flow the way that I wish it to, and because I am focused only on my writing, Max will miss out. I will not shut him out just because I have the writing bug!

I have been trying to write this blog post (which doesn’t involve as much time and effort to put aside for it) over the past hour. During which, I have had to take MNax outside while I hang the washing (he has now learnt to lock the security chain, so I no longer trust that I can leave the door open for him to come out once he has his shoes on!), feed him some afternoon tea, change his nappy (as the three-day method belly-flopped and we’ve decided that it’s not for us) and pull out some paw patrol puzzles to help keep him occupied. This is my life now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 🙂

When I first came up with this project idea – I had initially decided to start on my 32nd Birthday, write a minimum of 1,000 words a day, and to have a wonderful little project journal and wall planner all set out for me for how I would cope with each day. But life happened. The thing is, life is not perfect. You can’t plan every little detail out. Well, you could – but it wouldn’t work out the way you wanted every single minute of every single day – and in my book, that is time wasted. I still have my 100 days planner on my notice board, and I have the journal that I probably will fill out so I can see how I manage my day, it won’t be the be all and end all of how things are meant to be.

I have thought long and hard about this project and how I am going to make it work for me. Max is at Kindy three days a week, so those days I will dedicate to my writing. I still can’t spend those days writing all day, but I will give myself a 1,000 word minimum. I have yet to learn what the best time of day is my most creative, but I am sure to learn from trial and error and hopefully by the end of the 100 days, I will have more of a solid idea of what works for me, and I will finally be able to truly live my dream of being a writer!

On the days that Max isn’t at Kindy – I will try to only write in my blog when he is around and focus on my book when he is in bed for the night. When he goes out with his Dad and Grandpa, I’ll take that opportunity to write some more of my story, if I don’t need to do anything around the house that is. I have decided that each day, I will also include different forms of writing my day. Be it, taking notes, writing in my personal journal or writing a letter – This project, although it is to allow me to finish my first book, it is to get me into the habit of writing every day.

It is now 4.45pm time for me to think about getting dinner on. It is a Kindy day tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to write some more, and perhaps find the “Perfect Writing Place” as my current wet weather/winter one has changed it’s vibe along with the new owners.

Until next time,

Toni 🙂

 

 

How To: Get your Threenager to hold your hand

When you have a headstrong independent child, it is very hard to get them to hold your hand when they want to do it all on their own because “I’m a big boy now”. Yes sweetheart, you are a big boy, but you are and will always be my baby and I don’t want you to get hit by a car!

So, over the last year, it has been a struggle to get him to hold my hand. He used to always be in his pushchair, so it wasn’t much of an issue. However, when he turned two, he wanted to walk more, and I wanted to reserve the pushchair for days I was ill or had low energy.

After a fair amount of trial and error, we came to an understanding… not that you should allow a three year old to dictate their safety to you, but I was able to figure out what worked best for this little guy, with the least hassle.

Below is a list of all the things I have tried or had suggested to me and the outcome…

  1. Put a harness on him. – Yeah…. no. Good for those that want to do it and it works for them, but I know that the minute we forget the harness at home, our guard will be down.
  2. Use a wrist strap: I had been considering this, until the day I saw another mum with her very active-resistant threenager run off in the opposite direction where she was going… as terrible as it was, a bungie slingshot effect was the end result.
  3. Belt loops: I haven’t tried this one yet, but it is in the cards. I was suggested to try getting him to hold my belt loop or hang something he would want to hold onto off it.
  4. Use a consequence: If he doesn’t hold your hand, he will be carried. I do this on occasion, but I also will use the pram if he refuses to hold my hand. Usually at this point he is tired, and he really only wants to use the pram, but is too tired to relay that information – or he still wants to be a “big boy” but I have to make that decision for him
  5. Talk it out with them: This is what has seemed to work best for me. When we are in the car, leaving kindy – basically before we go anywhere – I have a chat with him. I tell him what is expected of him and what will happen if he doesn’t listen. We have a rule that when we are going to and from kindy he has to walk along the footpath. He has one chance. If he doesn’t walk on the footpath next to me, he has to hold my hand or I will carry him. We also have a rule that when we cross the road or are in a carpark he has to hold my hand. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  6. Hug it out: I use this when he’s not listening and I am low on evergy – unable to carry him so we will sit down where we are and just hug it out until he is ready to listen and hold my hand or walk nicely beside me. I understand that this usually happens when he is tired, and all he needs is a hug from me, but it has worked very well. Even just the suggestion “Do we need to hug this out?” works!
  7. Praise: Whenever they do what you wish, be it hold your hand or walk nicely beside you – Praise, Praise and Praise again!
  8. Put a wrist support on: I don’t know if this would work for everyone, but I have a wrist support that I put on when my wrist is sore. Yesterday, I had to put it on, and was still wearing it at Kindy pick up. Max asked me if my wrist was sore and I told him yes it was. So from the moment the gate closed, he held my hand to the car. I praised him for being such a good boy. My sweet little boy replied with “I hold your hand Mum to make it feel better” – I’m going to use this and see if it works again!!!!

100 Days of Writing: Mushrooms and Dragonflies

A few months ago, I got a brilliant idea for an introduction to the first book in this quartet. It involved mushrooms. The idea tied in well with another part of the book that I had written years ago. When I came up with the idea to tie to two together and begin the story at this particular point – I wasn’t sure at first in what direction I was going to go.

To be honest with myself, I have no idea about mushrooms – except that I hated them as a kid, loved them in my early 20’s and since my pregnancy with Max – we have a constant love/hate relationship. (I love to eat them fried in garlic butter/oil – but my body hates them)

So what is a girl to do when she has no idea about the culture and history or mushrooms? Research my dear fellow! My first step was to ask a friend who is a chef by trade and has… um… extensive knowledge about mushrooms in one way or another… I’ve yet to hear back from that friend, but the extent of my questioning may have just been a little bit too questionable…

After that, my next stop was the library. I put the word “Mushroom” into the search engine and up popped popular cook books on mushrooms. I had to sift through the pages to find ones on actual mushrooming and I still managed to get sidetracked. Lets just say when 50 odd books on the subject of mushrooms take up a whole shelf in the requested items section (including some very interesting titles) you do tend to get quite a few raised eyebrows!

I’m glad I took a tote bag, as when I was notified by email there were only 10 books on the list. Sometime in-between when I read the email and got to the library (an hour tops) more books came in. At least while I was there, I was able to physically see what books would be beneficial to me and what ones needed to go back to whence they came.

I’ve got a basic amount of notes now on what I need to know for this section of the story and also a list of the books I originally got them from incase I need to revise something. I wouldn’t say that I am now an expert on mushrooming… the art of mushrooms… or whatever you want to call it. But I have enough knowledge now to have a good little conversation about it – or win a random card about mushrooms at a quiz game.

I won’t write the information here – but you can read it in my book when it is finally finished! I will also update this post at a later date with the list of books I used for my research incase anyone else is interested.

I titled this post “Mushrooms and Dragonflies” for a reason. Now, I will tell you why – they tie in a little! The other day, I was walking around my backyard, chasing my son in a “tag” game. While I stopped to catch my breath, a dragonfly buzzed in front of my eyes. It was there for a breath of a moment, but long enough to me to register I had a dragonfly come to me for a visit. It got me thinking. I did a little bit more research – and I have ordered a few more books from the library… yes on the subject of the dragonfly!

However, although I haven’t got the information to add the extra fodder to my book yet – I have managed to write a section of it tonight. It came to me while I was putting Max down to bed for the night. “Why Dragonflies?” I kept asking myself while I was laying down next to my little boy who kept telling me to turn “Hear Him” (glowworm) on. The answer? It came to me while I was turning the lullaby night-light on for the 4th time. (it’s got a 10 minute turn around, so that was getting on to 40 minutes to put him to sleep – usually it only takes 10-15)  Thinking little man was asleep; I sat up, picked my shoes off the floor and, feeling like a I was doing the parent version of the walk of shame – walked towards the door, section of story already forming in my head. It was just as I was opening the door, one toe step away from freedom I heard a little voice say “Mum, lay down me? Come back here.” *sigh* Down went my shoes, down went my head – and back on when “Hear Him”. At least, during this time I don’t chat with the munchkin, so I used this extra time to form the story in my head; and when I finally escaped, I was able to pull out a refill flip pad, put pen to paper and write three pages BACK TO BACK. I haven’t done a word count yet, but I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.

I must end this post here, it is almost midnight and I am seriously afraid I will turn into a pumpkin. I will say this though – even though the starting of my 100 days of writing has not really gone to plan as of yet – I am pleased that I am still finding a way to get some form of writing in. Until next time…

… I’m off to read about dragonflies!

Toni

100 Days of Writing: Postponement :-(

Sadly, because I have been really sick with a chest infection over the last few weeks – I was unable to start my 100 Days of writing on the 24th of August. I feel this writing a book thing is one series of procrastination and illnesses lumped into one huge cluster!

So, even though I will not be starting the writing process of the draft for Dragon Princess… I will be typing up the notes and finishing my prep work for this project. The rest of the time will be catching up on life and all the little things I was unable to do while I was sick.

Please bare with me over the coming weeks – it is extremely frustrating when life throws you curve balls, but you just got to still go for the hit even if you miss a few. I’m hoping that I will still be able to catch up and write updates of my progress over the next few weeks and fully start the project on either the 18th or the 25th of September.

Happy writing and happy reading everyone, until next time!

Toni.

How To: Ensure that your Threenager keeps their seatbelt on

Had the shock of my life this morning during the Kindy run. Little Mr. decided to not only remove the shoulder straps off himself (little Hudini!) he also tried opening his car door while we were driving! (thank god for kiddy locks!) below is the list of what followed…

  1. While driving to Kindy, hear a weird noise come from Threenagers side of the car
  2. Glance over shoulder to find Threenager has removed his shoulder straps of his seatbelt, he also has decided to try opening the car door WHILE WE WERE MOVING!
  3. Shout out a quick “No! Stop!”
  4. Find a safe place to move over and flick hazard lights on
  5. Turn car off and storm out of the car, and yank open Threenagers car door
  6. Point to the shoulder straps and tell them loudly (hoping that a raised voice will get the message across) “You NEVER take off your seatbelt when we are driving! And you NEVER try to open the car door!”
  7. Take a deep breath to calm self before helping him put his seatbelt on
  8. Get a shock by a voice beside me saying “Is everything alright here?”
  9. Let breath out and say “Yeah, My Son just took his seatbelt off and I’m trying to teach him it’s not ok…”
  10. Look at the person and trail off in speech when I realise that it is a police officer!
  11. Smile sheepishly and take calming breaths and think back over the last few minutes (I didn’t do anything bad did I? Did I cut someone off? Did I really look that mad???? Oh God! I hope he didn’t think I was abusing my child! Oh God am I going to get a ticket???? Shit Shit Shit!!!!!)
  12. Mr. Policeman smiles and pats me on the shoulder “It’s ok, kids do this sometimes”
  13. Relax and let breath out again, help Threenager back into their straps and try to tighten the seatbelt more
  14. Mr. Policeman notices I’m having a hard time so offers to help
  15. As Mr. Policeman tightens the seatbelt, he talks to Threenager “Hey Mate, you scared your Mum. You always wear your seatbelt ok? Do you understand?”
  16. Threenager looks wide eyed at me then back at Mr. Policeman “Yes, I understand”
  17. Mr. Policeman smiles and hold up his hand “Good. Now, High Five!”
  18. Mr. Policeman hops back into his car and drives off
  19. Hop back into own car, and drive to Kindy with Threenager in the back saying to himself “Wear seatbelt, Mr. Polcieman told me to”
  20. Have a giggle to oneself and feel pleased that he had a very interesting lesson for the first time taking his shoulder straps off in Mum’s car.

How To: Get more ice cream…

It was Max’s first day back at Kindy today after his operation. He was very excited to go today and didn’t even notice me leave! When it was time to pick him up, I noticed a little bit of rain, so brought his raincoat and an umbrella with me. I was told by the teachers at pick up that he enjoyed his day, but he might need a few more days before he gets back into the swing of things… below is the list of what followed from when we walked out the door.

  1. Remind Threenager that they need to walk nicely on the path or hold hands
  2.  Threenager drops bag and runs to the tree at the end of the path
  3. Drop umbrella, and run after Threenager, catch them and remind them that because they didn’t walk nicely they have to hold hands
  4. Hold Threenager’s hand while walking back to pick up bag and umbrella
  5. Carry bag and umbrella in one hand while wrangling Threenager
  6. Get to car and fumble with keys to unlock doors
  7. Threenager sees their chance and runs ALL THE WAY back to Kindy
  8. Drop bag and umbrella again to chase after Threenager (stay hot on his heels while going into a coughing fit – still have this blasted cold/chest infection!)
  9. Threenager stops at the gate next to Kindy’s playground and calls out to his friends on the other side
  10. Halt with hands on knees trying to catch breath
  11. Call out to Threenager to come over and hold hands or they will go to bed early tonight
  12. Threenager ignores me and continues to yell to friends on other side of the gate (much to the amusement of the other parents I am sure)
  13. Call out to Threenager and tell them no toys in the bath tonight
  14. Threenager continues to ignore me
  15. Call out to Threenager and tell them no ice cream for dessert tonight
  16. Threenager comes right over
  17. Walk nicely back to car with Threenager
  18. Put Threenager in the car and ask them if they know why Mummy is not happy
  19. Threenager says “Yes, Max ran away.”
  20. Ask Threenager if they are going to be good now
  21. Threenager says “Yes, Max be good, Max sit in pram and eat ice cream at home”
  22. Smile back at Threenager “Exactly!”
  23. Go to supermarket, put Threenager in pram – no fuss
  24. Threenager is good the whole time in the supermarket, when we get home until 5pm when I’m just about to start cooking dinner…
  25. Threenager gets ice cream out
  26. Count to 3 as a warning
  27. Get to 3. Tell Threenager that there is no ice cream tonight
  28. Threenager says “Awww Man!” and takes himself off to bed
  29. Make bottle up to fill Threenagers tummy
  30. Threenager is lights out as soon as the last drop of the bottle is out
  31. Feel like a slightly mean Mummy while thinking about more ice cream for me for dessert tonight…

100 Days of Writing: Prepping notebooks

Prepbook #1:

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I sit in the lazy boy chair staring at my first notebook. An easy little spiral bound green journal. I am equipped with a pen and three different colours of post it notes. Greys is on in th background, but I am able to focus on the task at hand as I have pre-watched this season on demand. I take a deep breath and open to the first page…

I flick through the pages, focusing on Ellie’s story. It is in four parts. Dragon Princess, Daughter of the Sword, Princess Lost and Queen by Right. I have since changed the titles to something that suits, but my early notes are titled as such for easy finding; I carried it on to the present day so I can marry them all together when I eventually sit down to write them.

Tonight is that night. It is the first of many notebooks to take and organise. I have seen a few things that need altering and one that needs to be ditched. However, I am working my way through! I have started – and I am on my way to this scary exciting challenge I have set myself. I don’t know the full specifics yet, but I will work it out and aim to work to it every day.

I got lucky with my first pick – only a quarter of the book is filled with notes. It is close to my bedtime, so it works out. I will do my best to not over do things and still have a family life balance. I end my first night of prep feeling great, knowing that my plan and my story are both on track. I close the sage green cover, lower the footrest and head in the kitchen to make work and kindy lunches.

 

30th July, 2017: Prep work book #2

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Although my 100 days of writing project hasn’t begun yet, l have been aiming to do a little bit of writing every day. Over the last few days, I have written in my current notebook, written letters and postcards and a few things for my blog. Today I was able to get around to prepping another notebook; the boys had gone model shop crawling (yes, it’s a thing) and so after a bit of a tidy up, an episode of vampire diaries and a nice long HOT shower ALONE, I was all geared up to start again! Today I picked up my purple checked notebook. I know this one well, I wrote in it when I was 21 – ten years ago! I knew that there’d be several different stories within, including my Dragon Princess series. I flick through the pages and to my joy I have already been through this one at an earlier date. Out come my trusty coloured post it notes (pink for D.P., green for D.O.T.S., blue for P.L. and yellow for Q.B.R.). I’m glad that this was an easy notebook to get through today as it was fun to read over my editing notes and add a few more while I was in the zone.

 

1st August, 2017

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Today I received the 100 days planner book. Being a Tuesday it is a house keeping day. So there is not much time to have a look at it… also being two days before Max’s next surgery, I don’t have the mind space to focus on it as much as I would like to. So I have made a plan – my 100 days project will start on my 32nd birthday – a kindy day (if all goes well with Max’s recovery and he’s not sick that day!) I’ve had a quick flick through the planner, and see that it is sectioned into 10 day slots. That is what I will do, do a plan for every ten days, and on that 10th day make the next plan and do a recap. Keeping in mind, I will need to allow time for housework, craft and general day-to-day things with Max – I’ll have to arrange a cooking schedule too, so I don’t go nanas when I get lost in my writing and realise they it’s now time to cook dinner or pick Max up from kindy. I’ll have to have a look at making a date night schedule too – as I can’t let my husband think I am having an affair again… in joke! (after saying one night I had a date with a book, I had him come in telling the book “Get your filthy hands off my wife!”) that was a fun night of giggles. Anyways, as I said before, today is a day for housework so better go pack Max’s toys away for the 4th time and get the vacuum out.

Wednesday 2nd August, 2017

Today is a mental health day… Well I’m going to pace myself anyway. I’m actually feeling a bit drained, and if I don’t watch it, my Chronic Fatigue might just rear its ugly head again. So, after dropping Max off at Kindy, I cleaned up his toys, sat down and watched 2 episodes of One Tree Hill and now I am focusing on writing today’s update before doing the dishes and perhaps a nap before Kindy pick up. I need to take my time today, as tomorrow is going to be a big day with Max’s second surgery on his toes, and he’ll be off Kindy for the next few weeks until he can wear shoes again! So, if last time is anything to go by, I will need to arrange heaps of indoor activities for him to do, which means tonight I will be cutting random shapes up to fit a puzzle template set I got for him (plan to donate this to Kindy when he has finished using it) The notebooks below are the ones I did last night while Greys was on after I had put Max down to bed for the night. It was a little emotional journey as there were a few memories that came with each notebook. In saying that, it’s going to be a little hard going through my personal journals – as I know there are snippets in them that I need to collect. Anyway… enjoy the notes below on the books I prepped last night.

Notebook prep: Yearly Diaries

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Yesterday afternoon I tackled the yearly diaries that have been sitting on the dining room table for well over a week. One of my main tasks at the moment is to clear the table completely as it is constantly covered with my current craft projects and our paperwork that I need to sort through. But as most things of mine, before I can put my craft stuff away, I need to sort out my drawers and wardrobe, and before I can do that I need to sort out all of the stuff that is in front of the wardrobe (this consists of things to sell, things to donate and of course that big pile of notebooks I need to get through!) So I dedicated the afternoon to sorting out the story notes in my yearly diaries, only to find that I’ve already done it! Oh well, it gave me time to put them away in storage and focus on the rest of the table…

Prep work: little black book

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Found a little bit of time while I had a coffee. Although I’m not usually a fan of notebooks this size, I remember that for once I really enjoyed this particular notebook. I started writing my in it in 2007, so I was about 21, going on 22 when it began. This is another book that I carried with me everywhere. On the train was where I did most of my writings. It has anything from quotes and story ideas to journal entries and poems I have written. There are also notes in it “call Sue” who’s Sue? I have an Aunty Sue, but I don’t haven much contact with her…. one of my friends mum was called Sue, but again I had no reason to call her. I then come across the lyrics to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten ” and I am taken back to that moment on the train. In here there are many stories and I get my fill of my other worlds before I have to cook dinner. I found this little gem for dragon princess; “and her adventure began like all big adventures.. with a little touch of disobedience

The brown notebook

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This book was from a time when I thought to organise my story ideas. This book is dedicated solely to Ellie’s story. So it was an easy skim though and post it note session. The gem I found in this book was a few reminders of the training regimen I had designed for Ellie in D.O.T.S. I am really looking forward to writing those parts in full and might steal a few for D.P.

The Aotearoa Notebook

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This notebook was given to me when I was 23 by a guy I had just started dating. My mind was not in a good place, and at the time it was just the nicest thing a guy had ever done for me. He doesn’t know it, but this notebook saved my life. It reminded me why I write, and helped me sort my life out. The relationship with him didn’t turn into anything, as shortly after he gifted this to me he left to work overseas. As we had only started dating, we decided not to wait for each other, but if we were still keen on his return, we’d reassess. He went on to meet his now wife, and even though it took a while after for me to meet my husband, this guy showed me that there are good ones out there and that it is ok to wait. Life found a way. I’m not really in contact with him anymore, but Andy, if you ever do read this, thank you so much. We all meet people at different time in our lives, and even through it wasn’t right for us to be together, I met you at the right time in my life. I can only hope that at some point, I’ve done something similar to change someone else’s life.

The chaotic black lined notebook

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This notebook used to be my Mum’s housekeeping one. I found it when I was 21 and mum said that I could keep it. In it showed the price of bread milk and cheese in the early 80s. I removed the papers and put those into safe keeping or another time – just can’t remember where I put them! I have filled this book with key ideas and Ellie’s story. It will be interesting to see what secrets it holds!

A woman of spirit notebook

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I find it quite ironic that I chose this notebook to write Ellie’s story in. It is a spiral bound book ( which I usually detest) and it looks to be the first notebook I dedicated to her story alone. When I first started writing Ellie’s story, she came to me in a dream. The next morning I woke up and began writing. At first she started out as a pretty little princess who had magical Powers, loved horses and had heaps of friends from different walks of life, you know, the usual story fodder my twelve-year-old self would like to have if she was a princess. By the time I came to this note, I was 19 and had been writing Ellie’s story for 7 years. During this times she had grown from a pretty little princess with no cares in the world, struggled through her antsy awkward teenage years and come out as a girl, who happened to be a princess and grow to become “a woman of spirit”. I haven’t read Pam Houston’s story yet, but it is now on my list of books to read – if only to credit her for inspiration. The book is filled completely with notes about Ellie and her friends, again , another book I am looking forward to reliving.

So now I must leave you; the dishes and more One Tree Hill Episodes await… and perhaps that nap I’ve been craving. If I find time later, I will try to prep more books, as I want to stay on track for my 100 days to start on the 24th of August. (a mere three weeks away!)

Wednesday, 2nd August 2017:

Purple velvet flowers

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I loved this notebook! Every time I picked it up I felt special. There was always something whimsical about writing in it. I have half an hour until kindy pick up, the dishes are done and I have a hot coffee as my companion. Within this book are little ditties, poems and my random opinions on things – it’s my first people watching notebook too! This notebook is from when I was 19 and 20 years old. I went on road trips with my friends, dated my first serious boyfriend and had my first soul draining job. This book allowed me to escape to the worlds I created, all while eating a french-toast banana and bacon breakfast with a vanilla latte on the side.

Pink and grey notebook

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Apparently this is the most comfortable notebook I’ve ever run into… but alas I either lost it early on in the piece, or I didn’t enjoy writing in it as much as the slogan on the front said I would. I only filled in a few pages in this, so an easy sort through.

The Teddy notebook

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I am ashamed to admit this and every time I look at this journal I cringe at the memory. Because this journal was bought with money I stole… well kinda. It was my first and my very last indiscretion. Where we lived when I was a teen, there was a dairy and a post office down the road. At the age of 13 I was in need of a new notebook, so I asked my parents for the money. They both said no, but Dad said I could use my own money if i really needed it.

At the time, I had my own paper run and was earning $20 a month. By my own calculations, I had well over $100 in the account from my paper route. As mum was the joint name on the account, I had to ask her for the card. She said no, and never gave me the answer as to why not. (I later found out that she had been siphoning money from my account to top up bills, so I can only assume that she didn’t want me to find out and have to explain the situation to me – as my parents are not very open about money, it’s no surprise) as a parent now, I somewhat understand the struggle and the temptation of my Sons bank account when our bills fall short.

But I digress… this particular day, I really wanted and needed a new notebook and I had seen a whole stack of them at the post shop down the road, walking distance and easy to pop in and get it. All I needed was the money. So, talking myself into it, I dove into mum’s wallet and pulled the card out that had my name on it. I had never used a card before, but I had watched mum pay with one and put the pin code in countless of times. A little tip to parents: if you have a separate account for your child’s joint account – don’t have the same pin on it as your every day card. Card in hand, I left the house and headed down the road to the post office. I’d just walked out the driveway and I heard my younger sister running after me. I should have abandoned my mission then and there, but I had a lesson or two to learn. Silly me, thought that I was fully justified in using the card without my mums knowledge – it was MY money after all. not only did I know it was wrong, I was naive enough not to realise how easily I could get caught out. And it didn’t help matters that I had my sister in tow. We got to the post office and I picked up the teddy bear notebook. When it came time to pay, I whipped out the card with mixed feelings of importance and trepidation. I should have known I wouldn’t get anything past my eagle-eyed little sister! I froze halfway through swiping as she gasped and exclaimed “does MUM know you have that?!” I brushed her off with a “uh huh” and as a second thought asked if I could get $10 out (a months worth of her pocket-money) as we were leaving, the book feeling heavy in my hand in its brown paper bag, I turned to my sister and gave her the $10 on the proviso that she kept her trap shut. When we got home, we both went to our rooms. Me to begin writing in the notebook and my sister to hide her money in her piggy bank. But when I got to my room, I had nothing to write. I felt so guilty with what I had done and conning my sister into joining me in the crime. I didn’t want to fess up to it, so I thought that if I just put the card away and hid the book, I could forget about it. WRONG. Unbeknown to me, the lady at the post office had over heard me bribing my sister and had called mum at home – while we were walking home! Mum popped down herself, got a copy of the receipt and came into my room to have a chat about it. She showed me the evidence, told me that she had spoken to my sister (who has fessed up the whole thing). Needless to say, I was in heaps of trouble. I learned my lessons loud and clear.

  • thou shall not steal
  • even if it is your money, if you’re told “no” by your mum you had better listen
  • don’t bribe your sister
  • don’t trust your sister will keep quiet even if you bribe her
  • don’t bribe your sister in front of an adult
  • And you will be he one who loses out.

I had to keep the notebook, give mum back the card and my sister still got to keep the bribery money. So yes, every time I look at that book I remember those lessons and cringe. But I didn’t touch the book for another 5 years I felt they that guilty! It’s filled, so I will have to go through and look at it some more, but perhaps I can use the memory and lessons as writing fodder for Ellie’s story!

The plastic leather notebook

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I don’t remember much of this notebook. Only that I got it in 2005 and that I hated writing in it. Yet somehow I managed to fill it up with story ideas. It will be interesting to see if my hatred for writing in this book affected my style of writing.

A world full of stories notebook

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Again a book I started in 2005. I can see that was a big writing year for me. As you can see it has been battered around a bit. I must have taken this everywhere with me. I open the first page and begin to read…

Chinese silk notebook

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It’s been well over a week since Max had his toe up operation and since then, I’ve been sick as a dog with a very nasty cold. I’ll tell you what: looking after a hyperactive three-year-old who should be taking it easy when you have a nasty cold that then turns into a chest infection is no easy feat. Now on my third day of antibiotics (The fourth course in two months) I am finally starting to feel a little bit more like myself. Today the boys have gone out and left me at home to my own devices so I decided to pick up where I left off. Finally, with my emotions slightly in check, I can tackle the pile of personal journals – some of which I haven’t seen or read in over 10 years.

This first journal the Chinese silk notebook goes from the year 2000 until 2005. When I first start to flick through it I noticed that I must’ve started and stopped countless times; I was 15 when I begin this journal and 20 when it ends. The last five years of my teenage-hood are sitting there, staring at me, waiting for me to re-live it. To say I am feeling a little apprehensive is an understatement, but to get and collect all of Ellie’s notes for her story, I need to delve into my past and relieve some of my toughest moments I don’t know how many snippets are in this particular book but I do know many tears and wishes were shared throughout these pages.  I’m a big girl now, so I don’t need someone to hold my hand, but I’m sure that after reading this book, I will want to give 15-year-old Toni a huge hug and tell her that everything will turn out to be well in the end.

So here we are sitting at my kitchen table, my post it notes neatly arranged around me ready to stop stalling and just get on with it I take A deep breath and delve into my past…

… I have only got to December 2001 and I’m already i’m crying. I have read about my first break up, The September 11 attacks and my grandfather’s death. The next year doesn’t look any better as the first couple of months recount a close friend’s younger brother’s illness and his death. A few moments later and I am halfway through 2002 I am 17 years old and I am questioning everything. I am asking myself who I am who the person is that I want to be and the choices I need to make to move forward.

At 17 years of age, I believed my life was a lie I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. I felt like no one gave a damn about me. I thought like I was a girl child alone in a bubble; no one listening, no one caring. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to turn to. I think it was about this time that I really came into myself I realised that I had to choose the type of person that I wanted to be. I first learnt the, that no one else could define me – I had to live up to my own expectations. (even though for the next 10 years after this first realisation I would constantly be struggling with this thought, I would eventually make it out the other side and become the person that was wanted to be).

At 17 I took charge of my Demons. I told them to get lost, kicked them in the balls and showed them that I am no ones victim. I am me. I am strong, and life is worth living.

Velvet leaves journal

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This journal covers from the years 2005 to 2008. I was aged 20 and 23. This covers my first few years out of home and in my first full time office positions. It covers the time I was made redundant, my search for higher study and my first serious relationships. I began dancing ceroc in these years and whenever I hear Taylor swifts song “22” these are the times I relive in my memory. As I open the cover, the first thing I see is my competitors ticket for the South Island champs competition. This was held in 2008 and I came second in biginners dwas. The next piece of paper is a note of Ellie’s story – score! It is a scene from the masked ball in the last book, but I am making progress. Besides the piece of paper, there were more notes for the Ellie’s story written in the journal.

Brown linen journal

This journal goes from 2008 until 2011, from the ages of 23 to 26. It covers from when I moved out of the city after my bad period, to when I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and the first year of my event management degree and coping with my illness. My first long distance relationship I open the cover and inside I find some pressed leaves and a spotted feather. Under that is another hand written snippet of Ellie’s story. I remove the piece of paper and put it with the other notebooks. I begin to read my account of my mid 20s…

Black and white silver lined journal

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I bought this one from Auckland airport when I was waiting for a flight to Blenheim to see my boyfriend at the time. I know I haven’t filled it up, so only about a quarter is written in, but it’s still worth going through, just incase I find some good gems – as during this time a took a lot of long trecks through the local rangers with it and wrote down a few random thoughts and poems about how my life felt at that moment in time. This covers from 2009 to 2013 (the year I met my husband and he brought me a special journal, a pen and a ring on our first road trip to Wellington! So I ditched this journal and wrote In the next one he bought me – seemed quite fitting.

In this silver lined journal, I have come across my valentines tradition – I came up with the idea on my first Valentine’s Day after my break up with my last boyfriend before I met my Husband.

Basically every year I make something nice with an uplifting quote every Valentine’s Day and on my daily walk that day post the 14 pieces of inspiration into a letterbox on my way to my destination. So, confession time – if on Valentines Day, between 2010-2012 you found a nice heart with an inspirational quote on it in your letter box around the western springs area – that was me! I hope it uplifted your day. I have also found and account on “how chronic fatigue has impacted on my life”  It is very confronting on how my life used to be and how I saw the illness then as apposed to how I view/cope with it now… I will write that as another blog post for another time…

The blue wallpaper notebook

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This book I bought in Palmerston North while I was on holiday in 2011. I found it in a tiny little shop that turned out to be like the Tardis! In short, it looked small on the outside and just kept getting bigger and better on the inside. Initially I started writing in this as a journal as while I was on holiday, as I had left my usual one at home. Then it turned into a notebook. I had a quick flick through it, and I still have heaps of space left to fill, but no Ellie’s story in this one – instead I found my notes on another story “the oak tree” – I’ve decided will be my next project after my Dragon Princess series.

The pink moleskin journal

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This is the journal that my husband bought for me on the weekend he proposed. Within these pages, it tells of our wirlwind romance, our engagement, buying our first home, the conception and birth of our son, his first two years and our wedding. I grew a lot in these years 2013-2016. And this is the time I feel I will always look back on and see when I truely became myself and started living the life I always wanted. This journal tells of my Cinderella fairytale, my prince and my villains – and the journey I took with my breath of fresh air. It recounts the obstacles I have overcome with him by my side and the creation of our awesome family and our life together.

Even though it was a good moment re-living these memories, there were no snippets of Ellie’s story. I’m not surprised as the first two years of a child’s life are full on and consume you!

The blue vinyl notebook

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Another one that is only partially filled. This was originally used as my uni notebook for my dance and event management classes. In the few dull boring classes and while I was on the shuttle bus between campus’s I filled it with litttle notes here and there. This is the first book (2009) that I came up with the idea of Martha and Gregory. Definitely a keeper – as they are key characters in the first book.

Burgundy stone notebook

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No Ellie’s story notes as such, but I dedicated this particular notebook for research on trees and herbs. Crucial information needed for this project. My pile of keep books is climbing! (So much for decluttering…)

The spiral butterfly notebook

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Not really a note book as such, it was a visual diary to help with pieces of Ellie’s story. I’m putting it in the keep pile as there is still room for sketches and the ones I have in there are good!

Blue linen notebook

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This is my current notebook- well… one of them! This one I keep on my bedside table for those late night scribbling and ideas from dreams. I constantly have Ellie’s story on my mind now – so the notes are coming fast and freely now.

Gold sun visual diary

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Another one where I’ve thought out Ellie’s story. I’ve marked the pages I think will be useful.

Pink leather journal

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Another one used for research and write prompts. It has one page on Ellie’s story from daughter of the sword, but will keep this out for times I might need help with writers block.