Category Archives: Writing info

Shortlisted, and a trip to Ohakune

I figured I could combine two posts into one – some would call this efficient, others rambly. Whatever. My first item of news is that my story Pocket Wife (published by Paper Road Press) has been shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novella 2015. That’s pretty exciting. The full list and voting info can be found here.


Last Thursday my friend Allan and I took a train down to the little town of Ohakune, to attend the first Ruapehu Writers Festival. I didn’t want to admit to any of the locals that I hadn’t actually heard of Ohakune before I booked my ticket to the event… but I hadn’t. It’s a quiet town that apparently explodes during the ski season (most of the shops and restaurants were closed, displaying signs that claimed they’d be “back in winter”). I’ve never skied, so I suppose that’s why Ohakune had never entered my radar.



The festival was held at the Powderhorn Chateau, although I stayed in a somewhat cheaper (okay, a lot cheaper) backpackers down the road. My box-like room was crammed between the communal kitchen and bathroom. Sleep wasn’t really on the cards.

But my having to rough it was worthwhile, as from 9am till 9pm each day I was able to sit and absorb some of New Zealand’s best poetry and prose. I participated in a workshop with Sue Orr, listened to writers’ and publishers’ opinions on their works and the industry, and even read my poem Middlemarch at the Poetry Slam night.



One of the highlights was the walk to Waitonga Falls, Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall. It’s a beautiful (and reasonably easy) walk, so if you are heading to that area you can find out about it here.





The speakers kept referring to the festival as the “first annual Ruapehu Writers Festival”, so I can only presume there will be another one. Ohakune is conveniently in the middle of the North Island, easy enough for those in Wellington and Auckland to catch a train or drive (sorry South Islanders). Here’s a shot of Mt Ruapehu, taken from the train on the return journey.




Filed under Prose, Writing info

Short Story Competition

SpecFicNZ, for those who don’t know, is an association for New Zealand writers, creators, and fans of speculative fiction. I found them a few years back, after having been told (by a respectable member of the New Zealand literary community) that there wasn’t really a market for speculative fiction in NZ, that no one published it, and that I’d have a near-to-impossible time going down that road at all. (Doh!) Really, all it took was a quick search on-line, and I found a whole community of not only NZ speculative fiction writers, but publishers too. It does exist, thank you very much.

I’ve been a member of the organisation pretty much since I learned about it, and as of last month am now also a member of the core committee, and the current treasurer. (You gotta love a good spreadsheet.) Writing can be a rather lonely journey – just you and your characters (who sometimes aren’t that nice) – and so being part of an organisation with other like-minded people can make you feel a little less like the straggly, dried leaf-in-your-tangled-hair outsider that you really are. Plus, you get to hang out an conventions, learn about writing opportunities, and receive info about competitions such as:


SpecFicNZ’s Spooky Bookshop Challenge.

Halloween this year falls on NZ Bookshop Day, so the aim of this competition is to write a 1000-2000 word story that both incorporates Halloween (or general spookiness) and bookshops. There’s a small cash prize, and the three winners’ stories will be published together as an e-book.

Deadline: September 30th.

To enter, you’ll need to be / become a member.

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Filed under Writing info