Dozens of FREE Fantasy books. Win $100 Amazon Gift Card.

Looking for Great Fantasy Reads?

If you’re looking for great fantasy adventures, go no further. Get your next adrenaline rush here! Meet characters you’ll love, cool mythical creatures, terrible villains and have the time of your life. Discover new authors, find great series and go into win a $100 Amazon Gift Card. There are DOZENS of (in fact, over 100) FREE fantasy books available in this Fantasy BookFest. Pick a cover, a genre or an author, and get reading. Click here to start.

While you’re on the Fantasy BookFest page, search for the elusive $100 Amazon Gift card, which keeps moving around! Once you hit the page, scroll down and look at everything. Happy hunting!

 

 

 

#IFASummerChallenge19 – Join me in the Indie Fantasy Addicts Reading Spree

#IFASummerChallenge19

#IFASummerChallenge19 is on!

Love Reading Fantasy? Join me in IFA BookWyrms, our Facebook Reading group,  with co-captains author Katie Cherry and reader Lesley Donaldson-Reid. The more the merrier! IFA Bookworms is part of the #IFASummerChallenge19. Please also join the Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook Group and read the instructions below to get started!

When you join BookWyrms, introduce yourself, tag me and say hi! Here’s our cover image so you know you’re in the right place. See you over there!

What is the Indie Fantasy Addicts Reading Challenge?

June 21, the first day of summer, marked the opening of the Summer Reading Challenge in the Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook group. Read ANY indie fantasy, and sub-genre of fantasy (ARCs, audiobooks, and shorts included) and have a chance at winning some amazing prizes such as signed books, ebooks, audiobooks, and swag from some Amazon Bestselling and USA Today Bestselling authors! All readers have to do is post about their reads in the IndieFacebook group and tag them with #IFASummerChallenge19.

Details about our current Summer Reading Challenge are listed below. The goal? For members to discover more nail-biting, edge of your seat, take-you-for-a-wild-ride-and-leave-you-breathless books!

Many USA Today, award-winning and Amazon bestselling authors have graciously donated signed copies and ebooks to this challenge.

#IFASummerChallenge19 Details:

The purpose of this is just to have fun and discover more amazing indie fantasy authors! We are going to make this simple. There is no set reading list. ARCS and audiobooks also apply. Read whatever you want as long as it’s indie fantasy.

All you have to do is post what you’re reading, tag it with #IFASummerChallenge19, and your thoughts on the book (without spoilers!) so the rest of us can discover more amazing adventures!

You can read my FREE book Bronze Dragon to start: DOWNLOAD BRONZE DRAGON.

Click the picture below to get FREE books from participating authors, or  use this link.

Win #IFASummerChallenge19 Prizes!

The Challenge will go from June 21 to September 22, 2019—the last day of summer! For the solo challenge (everyone is included in this regardless if you’re on a team or not), we will be doing a tiered winning system since not all readers read at the same rate. Eg. A tier for the winner for whoever reads the most indie fantasy books, and a few other tiers. eg. 20+, 16-20, 11-15, 5-9. 0-4.

Draws will be done to choose winners from the two lower tiers.

Grand Prize: Multiple signed books and swag!

The other tiers will have chances to win a signed book, ebook, audiobook, swag, etc.

TEAMS:

There will also be prizes awarded to the winning #IFASummerChallenge19 team, the team with the best team spirit, the team who listened to the most audiobooks, etc.

Let the adventures begin!!

Get started!

See you over at BookWyrms and Indie Fantasy Addicts!

#IFASummerChallenge19

GeyserCon Photo Tour!

GeyserCon 2019 in photos

GeyserCon, NZ’s 40th national SFF convention, came, and it went —  in a blur of sci-fi & fantasy discussion, events, education,  networking, crafting, hilarity and fun. I had a busy weekend. For me, there were many highlights, best shown in photos! Okay, the photos aren’t brilliant, but they’re all I have!

Kids’ Workshop – Super Heroes & Interactive Fiction

A.J. Ponder and I taught a large class of kids in the Young NZ Writers Big Day Out — jam-packed sessions on how to write superheroes and interactive fiction like Mystic Portal, Dragons’ Realm and Attack of the Giant Bugs!

It was lots of fun, with very cool kids who all shared enthusiasm for writing and reading.     

Artist Janet Keen judges the kids’ art contest.
A.J. Ponder with budding artists

NZ Youth Laureate Award Book Launch

Editor Lee Murray and judge Piper Mejia, both of Young New Zealand Writers, did a fabulous job coordinating the NZ Youth Laureate Award, reading the manuscripts and coaching the winning authors.

Representing Phantom Feather Press, A.J. Ponder and I  launched the NZ Youth Laureate books at GeyserCon with Young New Zealand Writers.

Winner:  Emma Uren, It’s A Small World.

Editor’s Choice: Xiaole Zhan, The Extinct.

Emma Uren and Xiaole Zhan
Emma & Family
Xialoe & Mum
Eileen, editor, Lee Murray, Emma, Xiaole & A.J. Ponder
Lee Murray with Guest of Honour Kaaron Warren (both award-winning dark fiction authors), who is awarding finalist Denika Mead her certificate.
Gorgeous covers! It’s a Small World by Australian artist David Schembri, and The Extinct, designed by A.J. Ponder.
Something Strange Happened in Rotorua – an anthology from Young New Zealand Writers included finalists from the NZ Youth Laureate Award
Readings from the youth anthology.

Click on a cover to order your copy!

6:30am in the Redwoods

Groan, not that early in the morning! Yes, it was worth it. Yes, we’re all bleary-eyed after little sleep the night before! The redwood forests in Rotorua were beautiful.

It was still dark outside… and cold. Brrr…
Yes, that’s geothermal steam in the background, not cloud! A sleeping dragon (taniwha) maybe?
Rotorua Redwoods are riddled with mountain-biking tracks

GeyserCon: Future of High Fantasy Panel

I had an interesting time moderating a panel discussion on the future of High Fantasy with fellow writers Laura VanArendonk-Baugh (Guest of Honour), David Hair, Mark Johnson and Dan Rabarts. This photo does not do the panel justice. Although the photographer only caught Mark Johnson laughing in this shot, we did have fun, and the audience did too. It was a stimulating discussion, first thing in the morning — a great start to the day.

Laura VanArendonk-Baugh (Guest of Honour), David Hair (thinking hard), Mark Johnson (laughing at David’s witty comment) and Dan Rabarts (listening)

GeyserCon: Marketing for Indie Authors

Yes, I did give a presentation and there is a photo somewhere on the internet on someone’s feed, but I don’t have it! Rumors said it was great though!

GeyserCon: Creating Fantasy Maps

Ava Fairhall teaches at Yoobee design school. I was lucky enough to meet her online in an international writers’ forum and find out she lived near me! Ava gave a fascinating presentation on creating fantasy maps. The huge coloured map on the left is Dragons’ Realm, the world of my Riders of Fire series.

GeyserCon: Masquerade

The fun kept going all weekend!

Make-up specialist AJ Josephs prepares a little dragon. He did an amazing session on cosplay make-up, where he made over half his face like Deadpool. Unfortunately, this is the only shot I got of him in action!

Ready to rock!  Watch out for the guy in the back! He’s trouble (Darian Smith is a great writer of epic fantasy).

Told you Darian Smith was trouble. Those dragon eyes kept sliding around! Creeeepy.
Fighting fit!
Dragon mid-flight
Who killed the dragon? Horror writer Paul Mannering, who came back to life as a zombie, when the dragon got him back 1 minute later!

Cosplay Guests of Honour

Lauara VanArendonk-Baugh & Alena VanArendonk, our international cosplay experts, entice Lee Murray into a costume. Well, a hat anyway.

Laura, Lee & Alena

You’d never believe that in real life Alena (right) has really long hair!

Craft Corner

Victoria Dreyer had a fun time with kids (young and old) in the craft corner (writers have multiple talents). No prizes for guessing which piece of dragon-themed jewellery I made!

World Con 2020 – ConZealand

There was lots of cool news about ConZealand, WorldCon 2020! You can get more info here and confirm the rumours that George R R Martin is toastmaster and that great authors like Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon will be here in NZ next year!

Sir Julius Vogel Awards

It wasn’t my turn for an award this year, however here is the talented line up.

The 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards list is here.

More fun

 

Mr Col Slaw, aka Col, became the vege of choice and the official mascot for GeyserCon, although he was shredded after the awards ceremony, leading to many tears.
Guest of honour Alan Baxter presents Denika Meade with a prize during the young adult workshop. I’m lucky to have Denika, an accomplished author in her own right, as one of my Riders of Fire teen beta readers. Please note, that as well as being an excellent dark fantasy author, Alan is a Kung Fu black belt and is known known as “the cabbage shredder”.

GeyserCon is over

I met new readers, networked with writers, fantasy fans and friends. We also swam in the geothermally-heated pool, chatted in the bar, and to top it all off, had a pizza party in my room!

But, one last question: when a dragon’s not eating tacos or pizzas, what does it eat?

Answer: Dragon fruit!

I look forward to ConZealand in 2020 and hope you join us for New Zealand’s first WorldCon!

Why give book reviews? A misnomer.

Why review books?

Why review books?

Recently I had a reader write to me, saying that while they understood that reviews make a writer feel good, why is it that we want reviews? Why do we need a pat on the back? Don’t we understand that our books are good?
That letter made me smile. I love my books. I have readers who love my books. I have strangers who write to me and celebrate my books, and then become online friends as I find out a more about who they are and their lives.
Occasionally, I have someone who doesn’t like my books. That’s okay. Not every book is for every reader.
So why do authors need reviews on their books? Perhaps this graphic explains it:
amazon review - matters
So, once a book has over 15 reviews, it’s likely to sell more copies. And guess what?
Reviews sell books: the more reviews, the better sales will be.
People want social proof that something is good before they purchase. We want to know what we’re buying represents good value. We want to know that the $ and hours we’ll invest in reading will be worth it.
Well, that proves that reviews are important! They help sell books. Which means I can pay the mortgage, eat, and afford to keep writing.
Which means YOU get more of the adventures you love.

Most authors have more stories inside them than they’re able to physically get out of their fingertips (or dictation machines).
I’ve written three entire series in my head. It’s probably going to take me a year or eighteen months to get the first series into my readers’ hands — Riders of Fire is 8 planned books and growing…
 
And my next series? 4 books. I’ve plotted and replotted the first three books many times in my head as I swim, with the sun’s refracted rays playing along the blue tiles and dancing in the water (I swim outdoors in summer). But every time I get out of the pool, there’s still only one book written. A book that teens squealed about when I read them the first chapter a couple of years ago!! And a lot of work waiting to get the next 3 done!
Many sleeps to go.
That’s a lot of meals to eat between now and then…
And bills to pay…
So yes, please! Reviews!
You see, writing is a long haul game. Building worlds, one word at a time. Shaping imaginations and emotions with a few delicate keystrokes. Taking readers on journeys far outside their everyday lives. Helping people feel, grow consider, understand and dream. Exploring the gambit of human (and otherworldly) experience. Delving into emotions. Helping people make sense of their lives.
It’s a privilege. I thank you for it, and would love to be able to continue helping you take adventures.
And even more than the nitty-gritty of paying the bills, I LOVE hearing what you think, how my stories affect you. Whether they give you hope, make you despair, inspire or frustrate you. Which characters you loved or related to, which characters made your blood boil, and how their inner and outer lives helped shape yours.
So in answer to my reader who posed the question, “Why reviews?”, I’d say, “because they’re essential to me continuing my work and bringing you exciting adventures to enjoy.”
If you’d like to review Riders of Fire, you can find the series here on Amazon (or here on Goodreads).

EFFY Awards – Please Help

Ezaara, Dragon Hero, Riders of Fire, Young Adult dragon adventures, a wild ride of thrills and danger, Ezaara Book 1, Dragon Hero book 2 by Eileen Mueller

Ezaara and Dragon Hero have been nominated in the EFFY awards (Epic Fantasy).

Ezaara is still a few votes away from qualifying for the next round of the EFFYs. I’d love to get Ezaara in front of the judges, so they can read it. If you haven’t already, it would be awesome if you popped over and gave Ezaara your nomination. Thank you!

And if you’ve already voted once, you can vote a second time. Dragon Hero would also love a chance at being judged. Go here to vote for Dragon Hero.

Please realize that these nominations are not final votes. It’s the judges’ job to decide the winner. This just gives my books a chance to be in the running. Thanks for your awesome support!

Jacinda Adern Answers Dragon Plea & Cameos in Riders of Fire

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes a cameo appearance in Riders of Fire, Eileen Mueller's award-winning series.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes a cameo appearance in Riders of Fire, Eileen Mueller's award-winning series.

Jacinda Ardern

Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received a plea from a young New Zealander to research psychics and dragons. She responded, returning the $5  the child had enclosed, and asked whether those fire-breathing mind-reading dragons actually wore suits!

Jacinda’ s cameo in Ezaara

Jacinda Ardern has a cameo in Ezaara, Riders of Fire, book 1. First, I have to explain that New Zealand is a tiny country. We all joke that we know each other, live in each other’s pockets and that there are only 3 degrees of separation here in our country.

When I lived in Switzerland, we played a game whenever I ran into a kiwi over there. We’d ask those around us to set their stopwatches and I’d ask rapid-fire questions about the new person until we found someone that we both knew. We usually managed to do that within a minute. Under 60 seconds most times. The longest it ever took was 90 seconds. The Swiss were astounded. Yeah, I can talk fast — and used to be able to think faster than I spoke! Anyway, the point is that I know Jacinda Ardern and met her and her sister Louise years ago. The last time I saw her was a few years ago for afternoon tea at parliament.

When she was appointed leader of the Labour Party, shortly before she was elected Prime Minister, I was working on Ezaara, so I named a character after her. Jacinda has a small role in Ezaara, but who knows…? Maybe in Dragon Strike it’ll be time for her to become a hero in her corner of the world, the way Jacinda Ardren is for many New Zealanders today… I’ll have to see where the plot takes me.

I’ve been meaning to send Jacinda the books, and Louise has given me a nudge, so it’s probably time to pack them up and ship them across the city to her office. I doubt she’ll have time to read them yet (so many parliamentary reports to get through), but why not?

Articles about Jacinda’s dragon fan are here.

Why Dragons?

The telepathic bond between dragons and humans is a fantasy trope that readers enjoy. Imagine having someone who understands your every thought and dream. Who can feel your emotions and desires instantly. Who can carry through the skies on their back, traversing lake-studded meadows, and soaring over snowy peaks and arid deserts.

Someone powerful enough to destroy enemies with fire. Or to toast your marshmallows on a wintry night, their scales glinting in the firelight. Someone fierce and loyal and brave and true.

Someone who loves you with devotion, but understands your weaknesses and your good intentions, even when you mess up. Someone stronger than monsters, wiser than humans, and older than the hills, yet with a strength and majesty that defies age.

Someone whose wingspan dwarfs houses.  Someone who can shelter and protect you better than any house.

That’s the fascination of dragons. Perhaps, if Victoria finds a benefactor for her dragon research, Jacinda Ardern’s next international trip could be on dragonback.

What do you think? And why do you like dragons?

GeyserCon – Come to Rotorua

GeyserCon

At the end of this week, I’m traveling to Rotorua  to GeyserCon, the 40th annual National science fiction & fantasy convention.

Sounds like fun, right?

Yeah, it WILL be fun, but it will also be a working holiday.

On Friday, A.J. Ponder and I are teaching a writing workshop for  9-10-year olds. We’ll have fun with impromptu stories and superheroes. Then we’re launching the Young New Zealand Writers Youth Laureate Award-winning books. It’s a Small World by Emma Uren won the award. Xiaole Zhan received an editor’s choice award for The Extinct.

I’ll be flat out over the weekend, doing a presentation, moderating a panel on high fantasy and editing people’s work,  as well as leaping in wherever help is needed, and having fun with my youngest, who is coming along.

You can find out more about GeyserCon:

GeyserCon
Rotorua’s Jebraun Clifford is looking forward to GeyserCon. Photo / Ben Fraser

If you see me there, say hi!

Ravenheart Cosplay – Lotte van Ginkel Strikes Again

Ravenheart Cosply - Giant white wings homemade flapping wings

Meet Ravenheart Cosplay!

Checkout These Homemade Wings!

I recently attended Armageddon in Wellington, a sci-fi fantasy extravaganza where cosplay folks come out in droves to strut their stuff.  I was lucky enough to meet Lucifer Morgenstar, a,k.a. Ravenheart Cosplay or Lotte van Ginkel, who told me about her journey into cosplay and why giant wings are such a hit.

In Ravenheart’s own words, here is her story:

 Ravenheart Cosplay – Behind the Scenes

 

My name is Lotte van Ginkel, although in the New Zealand cosplay community I’m known as Ravenheart cosplay: the girl who loves wings. I have been cosplaying since 2016 with all of my cosplays featuring wings or a related theme.

Before I started cosplaying I never thought it was something I would do. I grew up in a very science-oriented family, and that, combined with a passion for birds, soon led me to attending University in Palmerston North. From 2015 till 2017 I studied a Bachelor of Science with a major in Zoology and minors in Statistics and Environmental Sciences.

During my first year of University I found out about Armageddon Expo, and although I didn’t go that year, it inspired me to hear that there was a costume culture within New Zealand. I’d watched videos of cosplayers, but they were always overseas and seemed like something very foreign, but now I realized that it was here too.

I made it my goal to make a costume and wear it to Armageddon Expo the next year (2016), and for inspiration I watched the tutorial videos from someone called Axceleration Cosplay who made a Hawkgirl cosplay that had moving wings. That was the tipping point for me: I wanted to make wings.

Ravenheart Cosplay - Armageddon Wellington Wings

The movie Strange Magic is still one of my favourites today, and it features a strong female fairy as the lead who had giant purple butterfly wing. This was to be my first project, and by the next expo it was a reality. My mother helped me with the outfit while my father was happy to be my co-engineer for the wing mechanism (since I decided to make it 100x harder by making them move), and it was thanks to them I managed to finish it on time.

That year I got my first taste of the amazing world of conventions and cosplays, and let me tell you it was addictive. I’ve been making cosplays every year since.

For Armageddon Expo in 2017 I created Mercy from Overwatch which of course had moving wings again. This cosplay ended up changing my life forever. The first thing it did is launch me into the cosplay community after I entered and won the cosplay contest at Wellington Armageddon Expo that year. What it also did though is get me into a high end creative tertiary education institution.

Ravenheart Cosplay - Armageddon Wellington Wings Mercy - Overwatch

While walking around the convention as Mercy a man approached me and introduced himself as a tutor at the school Toi Whakaari (school of drama and dance) where a new course in set and prop making was set to start the next year, and gave me his card saying I should check it out. Initially I just threw it on the pile of cards and didn’t think about it, but I wasn’t happy with where my University degree was taking me career wise and eventually decided to check it out.

I finished my degree that year, and started attending Toi Whakaari the next.

In the summer between education providers I ended up building a new set of wings: white angel ones. They took around 140 hours to build and have over 1000 feathers sewn onto each wing. I wore these to Armageddon Expo in 2018 in a red dress as an original character design I called Lady Cardinal.

Ravenheart Cosplay - Armageddon Wellington Wings

For the most recent Armageddon Expo I ended up reusing the wings for a new cosplay as well as making a new costume. The new cosplay was the peacock themed super villain Mayura from a series called Miraculous Ladybug, while the one with the wings was Lucifer Morningstar from the Netflix series.

I am now finishing my last year of study at Toi Whakaari before further perusing my love for wings. I’d love to one day be able to build wings as commissions for others once I’ve refined a few more designs, and am already working on a new special set for my next convention.

Ravenheart Cosplay - Armageddon Wellington with Lucifer Morgenstar's Wings
Ravenheart as Lucifer Morgenstar, sporting those fabulous wings

Thanks Ravenheart for sharing your creativity and drive! That’s dedication and talent rolled into one dynamic go-get-it package! We hope you do well at drama school and enjoy making your next costume!

I can’t wait for Ravenheart to make dragon wings one day, and wish mine flapped as well as those magnificent white ones. And for those who are wondering? Yes, I made my wings myself… but that’s a different story.

And Ironman, in the photo at the top? He’s a high school student who made his suit as a metalwork project.  There are many talented individuals at Armageddon!!!

Dragon Time at Armageddon – Dragon Rift Launch

Armageddon was a blast!

Armageddon was a blast! Three days of wing flapping, crazy cosplay, weird storm troopers stalking me with menacing glares (Chewbacca was away in Christchurch, sadly) and keen readers popping by to say hi. Three days of talking non-stop (which wouldn’t surprise my friends — I love meeting new people). Three days of telling people about Riders of Fire and Quest, book 1 in the Sylvalla Chronicles. Three days of A.J. Ponder and I hanging out together!

Armageddon Wellington, Eileen Mueller and Riders of FireWe were so busy, I almost missed the email telling me Ezaara, Riders of Fire book 1, was a finalist in the 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Almost, but not quite. My friends and readers are way too savvy for that. As I was heading home late, with sore feet (after days of standing on concrete floors), my phone pinged! Yes, I’d been tagged. Thanks for nominating Ezaara, and then letting me know!

Armageddon – Dragon Rift Launch

Dragon Rift is the cover for book 3 in Eileen Mueller's Riders of Fire series, available on Amazon

Dragon Rift, book 3 in my Riders of Fire series,  launched at Armageddon. This time, there was no archery or sword fighting. Copies of the book slipped off the counter into happy readers’ bags as we chatted and enjoyed the variety of crazy characters parading past. Did I mention that I was wearing dragon wings? Oh, and that I had an extra set for people to try on?

Games of Thrones  at Armageddon

I didn’t actually sit on the throne. It doesn’t look that comfy!

Dragons Galore – Armageddon time!

Let the dragons roar! So glad he didn’t breathe fire, although his fangs look deadly.

Charles the mad hatter, Aria the grinning Cheshire Cat, and Odin the King of Hearts stopped by! Luckily, Odin wasn’t yelling, “Off with her head,” or I would’ve been a goner!

Keala is bananas about dragons! 

Watch out!!! You never know who’s behind the mask!

The impressive array of weapons hidden in this guy’s gauntlets, gives a whole new meaning to being heavily armed.

A.J. Ponder has a soft spot for Dr Who, so she loved this pint-sized Tardis.

I caught up with Akita, once I recognized her under that glorious red hair!

Pick a superhero!!! Really, I mean we have to keep them busy. So, grab one and save the world.

Ash, one of my cool teen beta readers, popped by. She loves Riders of Fire and helped me brainstorm some tricky parts of my free prequel novelette, Bronze Dragon! A valuable team member.

Deb, a kiwi reader, popped by to say hi! “You won’t know me,” she said, “But I subscribe to your Riders of Fire newsletter.”

Being a nerd, I replied, “Try me, what’s your email address?” Sure enough, I recognized it! “You subscribed in November, didn’t you?” I asked. Imagine how surprized she was.

That scoundrel, Darian Smith, just had to get in on the fun.

Ironman made his own costume as a school metalwork project! Wow, what dedication and talent! He then modified the costume he purchased for his friend. Um, yep, I am short!

Eat your heart out Captain Jack Sparrow. We can do suave and debonair too!

A knight of Gondor leaps into action to slay that dragon!

Rainbow-hair-and-wing twins!

A cute dragonet stopped by.

More mad hatters! And the cutest mousie!

Fiona (Shrek’s princess by day, ogre by night) came to teach us self-defense against all those mean knights!

More dragonets… I swear, they were everywhere!

A warrior was warding off enemies, but I don’t think he’d get far with Commander Zens’ evil tharuks. He’d need way more torso protection against their razor-sharp claws.

Mixed genres here, but they swear they’re friends!

Homemade dragon wings that flap!!! And an amazing mask! VERY COOL!

Look who swooped by to visit Zaarusha & Ezaara, Tomaaz & Maazini, and Roberto & Erob!

Candy floss anyone?

Yes, I’d give this guy the award for the best shirt slogan!

Codi and Calista having fun.

Freddy Mercury knows Spidergirl? Man, wait ’til that hits the headlines!

What’s an Armageddon without a darlek?

Or an anime unicorn, peace-loving cosplayer!

Winner – Armageddon Fantasy Prize Pack!

The winner of our fantasy prize pack was Andrew Hodgkin. Andrew, we hope you enjoy your books!

Phew, this blog post has taken awhile. And to make things worse, I accidentally deleted the version I put up a few days ago, so I had to do it all again! Yes, it’s 5 weeks since Armageddon, but better late than never!

Grief Hits Hard

Grief

March 2019 was a traumatic month here in New Zealand. We are a small nation of 4.7 million people, usually with only 2-3 degrees of separation between us, so the recent act of terrorism, killing fifty people, is still ricocheting though many people’s lives. In the face of such loss, our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expresses our shock far more eloquently than I could.

Grief is tough. And when a violent incident takes a loved one, it’s so much harder.

My heart goes out to anyone affected by loss, no matter the circumstances.

How I Dealt with Grief

Sixteen years ago, today, I lost my 2-year old son, overnight from an unexpected  illness. It takes a long time to heal.

To anyone experiencing grief, here’s what I learned:

  • Keep going – don’t give up.
  • Seek support and a safe way to express how you feel
  • It will take time, but it will get better. For now, that will be hard to believe.
  • When you’re ready, give yourself permission to find new things in life that you enjoy.

It took me 14 months to laugh again.

Two years to function properly. (Although, I still had to get up each morning to look after my family.)

Years after my son died, I started writing, which is now woven into the daily fabric of my life. I have readers around the world who love my stories. Who experience the value in emotion expressed through fiction, and know the power of story to help heal us, and give us courage to keep going when things are tough.

Grief and flowers

Reach out to someone who is hurting and provide them a place of solace. And if you’re hurting, reach out to someone who can help. Some of the strangers I met on my journey through grief have become some of my best friends today.

Don’t give up hope. Share your compassion.

And to everyone around the world who has been affected by losing loved ones in Christchurch, New Zealand, kia kaha, aroha nui and our hearts go out to you in this continuing time of need.

Feel free to share your tips for dealing with grief by leaving a comment.