Write Right workshop

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writerightJoin us on saturday, March 28th, for a day of writing workshops, panels and discussion with a number of like-minded individuals.

Learn about:

  • Plot Structure
  • Weaving in Back Story
  • Avoiding Blocks
  • What Makes a Good Cover (and a bad one)
  • Grammar Pitfalls
  • UK vs US language
  • Show vs Tell
  • Knowing Your Genre


The St Matthews LLO Scout Hall
9 Harrison St
St Albans

From 9:30 am to 5 pm

Full day $30 Half day $20

Presented by the Christchurch Writers Guild with Millwheel Press.

Guild Anthology Release: REFLECTIONS

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Toot do da toot toot doo!

The Christchurch Writers’ Guild would like to announce the publication of its first member anthology.

reflections cover snippet

The anthology is edited by Guild co-founder, Angela Oliver. It is an eclectic mixture of short stories and poems, illustrating the diversity of the writing talents and interests of Guild members. The unifying theme of ‘reflections’ was developed differently by each of the anthology’s contributors, within their own preferred genres:

Poems: the anthology opens with a poem by Sam Bueno, reflecting on his childhood; later, two poems from Damien McManus show us side-by-side childhood in Ireland and Christchurch in the present moment; Judy L. Mohr reflects on children growing up and David Thompson spins us a poem of a life well-worn, while Matty Angel writes of overcoming fear.

Historical fiction: Beaulah Pragg takes us back in time to an important Italian woman’s life.

Contemporary fiction: Helen Mongillo uses a carefully structured narrative to illustrate an important life skill and life lessons.

For children: Grounded, by Jim Cullinane, follows the fortunes of young Kiwi, Kate, who is hoodwinked by an Aussie Galah.

Contemporary fantasy: Jonathan Kingston-Smith explores the motif of the mirror in his dark fantasy/horror that imagines what life is like for those we see only as our reflections and J.L. O’Rourke offers a vampire murder-mystery. Shelley Chappell brings modern-day humans into contact with their hidden cousins, mermaids.

In the future: Ami Hart’s sci-fi romance, Ned’s Hallelujah, takes us into the stars on a journey with seasoned security officer, Ned, and the woman who might be the bane of his existence – or his redemption. Rachel Carlyon’s post-apocalyptic romance, Protector, shows how bands of youths struggle to share what remains of the earth.

Secondary world fantasy: Angela Oliver’s The Birth of Niamh is a dark fantasy illustrating the outcome of a child’s unusual birth. The Longest Night, by Scott Rankin, shows how an arrogant wizard is never too old to learn the error of his ways.

Click here to read this exciting Kiwi Pick and Mix of writing by Christchurch Guild Members.

Keen to join the Guild? Let us know! Already a Guild member? Get your writing fingers ready for the next anthology call!

Camp NaNoWriMo

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I found myself signing up to Camp NaNoWriMo yesterday.

“What is Camp NaNoWriMo?” I hear you ask. I asked the same thing! But really simply, it’s the same as NaNo, but not in November.

There’s a few differences. It uses a different website (though you can log in with your NaNo details). It’s run twice a year, rather than just once. And you get allocated to a “cabin” which has 4 other random campers in which you can chat to and support during the month. That makes it an awesome way to meet new writers and build new friendships (which is totally in line with April’s themed blog posts: Writing and Relationships).

It also seems very easy to change your words goal, so if you just want an awesome environment to get some amount of words down, set yourself a goal and come join in.

There will be weekly meet-ups at The Make Cafe on Sundays from 2-4pm. I’ll make sure the ladies will know which table to point you to if you decide to turn up.

I’ve made a Facebook Group for us. If you’re in Chch or the Guild and participating jump into the group for the month and join us. We (Tammie and I) will probably post random challenges and dares throughout the month just to keep things fun and interesting.

Join us. Write words. Have fun!

Calling young writers!

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Do you know any young writers between 13 and 19? Get them to check out Ripley Patton’s YA for YA contest specifically for young people. The first prize is $100 and publication!

It’s a short story contest (1000 – 5000 words) and the main character also has to be 13 – 19.

Contest opens on Monday (1st of Oct) and closes on the 15th of November.

Come along to our first ever workshop!

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Have you got writing you’d like feedback on? Do you want to join the critique group, but aren’t sure if you know what to do? Sign up for our first ever Critiquing Workshop (2 – 3pm Sunday 14th Oct) and find out what critiquing is all about in a safe, friendly environment.

We’ll be working together to critique one short story from lots of different angles and learning about how to give feedback that is both helpful and encouraging.

It’s only $5 (on the day) to attend (we are fundraising so all the money goes back into the Guild). Hurry and sign up here – there are only twenty places available for this first workshop and they’re already filling up fast.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Christchurch Writers’ Festival

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Sunday Morning panel
Authors Helen Lowe, Jane Higgins and John Boyne on the Why YA? panel (Sunday Morning)

Beginning on the 30th of August and finishing on Sunday the 2nd of September, the Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival has seen authors from as far away as the UK and Europe travel to share the stage with our brilliant Christchurch authors.

Many members of the Guild made it along, including the whole administrative team who were sitting in a row for the Why YA? panel on Sunday morning!

That panel was all about the concept of YA and whether it was useful to the readers, or if it was just a marketing ploy. All the authors on stage seemed to agree that the classification bothered them. Each wondered how you would define YA, whether their work strictly qualified, and whether the idea of confining young people to a certain part of the bookstore was a good idea at all.

Helen Lowe – author of the Wall of Night series – pointed out that a story having young protagonists (think Game of Thrones for example) didn’t immediately make it targeted at young readers.

John Boyne – known best for Boy in Striped Pajamas – talked about the gender divide in the youth audience, but wasn’t put off by the bias toward girl readers as he said, “If you give boys good stories to read they’ll keep reading.”

Joanne Harris
Joanne Harris and Nicky Pellegrino at “The Stuff of Life” on Sunday Afternoon

The panel on Sunday afternoon called “The Stuff of Life” was a chance to hear from Joanne Harris (Chocolat), Nicky Pellegrino (When In Rome) and Felicity Price (Head over Heels and A Sandwich Short of a Picnic).

It was an absolute delight to each from each of these authors. Joanne Harris enchanted us with tales from her childhood and helped us understand what it was like for her, in between a French and English family, and the importance food played in her life – its intrinsic link, for her, to story telling.

She told us about an American agent who suggested that no one would want to read stories set in French villages, about old people, with so much food (this isn’t a recipe book…) After hearing this, she followed her nature and did everything he said not to, ending up with a ‘fairly successful novel’, which just goes to show that in the publishing world, “Nobody actually knows anything at all.”

For Joanne Harris, the “Volatile chemistry” of small communities fascinated her, and she felt their nature transcended cultural borders. Her experiences from England were transplanted to the French countryside where they blossomed.

When she was asked where she got her story ideas from, she responded quite simply with, “People are living stories.”

An impromptu reading of Margret Mahy’s Bubble Trouble

I enjoyed the impromptu Margret Mahy readings that popped up here and there throughout the weekend. “Bubble Trouble” was particularly fantastic and the reader did an excellent job getting his mouth around the difficult phrases which sounded harder than Doctor Seuss!

All in all it was an excellent weekend and it would be well worth the Christchurch Writers’ Guild looking at ways to be more involved next year.

SpecFic Nz Cover Contest – 31st August

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Cover for Ghost Hand designed by Kura Carpenter is an example of some of her latest work.

Have you got a completed short story, novella or novel that would go great with a professionally designed cover?

SpecFic NZ have just opened their cover contest to non-members. All you have to do is send them the first 1000 words of your completed story by 31st of August and the winner gets a professionally designed image by Kura Carpenter Design.

For more details, check out SpecFic’s website.

Meeting Derek Landy

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On Friday 10th Christchurch was treated to a visit by Derek Landy, author of the award winning children’s series “Skulduggery Pleasant”. It was hosted by the wonderful Children’s Bookshop.

I was only introduced to Skulduggery Pleasant a week before, when raiding Beaulah’s bookshelf. I certainly wasn’t expecting a hilarious and wonderfully written romp in Ireland where I was shown an underworld of magic and plots that could destroy the world as we know it. Skulduggery the detective, and his unasked-for partner Stephanie, find themselves burdened with the task of saving the world.

It turns out the engaging dialogue found in the novel reflects the author’s wonderful dialogue. He kept his young fans, and their parents, well entertained with tales that perhaps aught to be believed as much as his novels, telling them, “I remember being eleven, with the wife and kids. We grow up young in Ireland.” And saying to Beaulah and me that writing was easy, though it was clear he did not mean it. He added that people think he’s a people person during signings, but accepted the alternative I offered, that he gets high off the stench of permanent ink as he draws Skulduggery in every book.

I loved the way he took time with every fan: talking and joking and answering questions. He was clearly happier to take time to pose for photos than us snapping impromptu ones, something to keep in mind for next time I attend one of his signings. I was shocked to see when I left the store, that the queue still extended well down the footpath, and I hoped those at the back would get a chance to see him too. Angela Oliver told us he kindly stayed well beyond the 6 o’clock finishing time to ensure everyone got their books signed, and chatted even to the last fans despite dark setting in.

If you get a chance to go to a Derek Landy book signing I highly recommend it. The long wait due to his mass of fans was well outweighed by getting my book signed and getting to talk to him. And getting this picture of him and Beaulah.

A Poetical Friday

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The Poets Respond to the Quake reading, held by University of Canterbury, celebrated National Poetry Day on Friday. Winners of the My Quake Nightmare competition were given the opportunity to read their poem.

The poems enticed listeners to consider the quake from various aspects, giving us insight into how people were emotionally affected by the quakes, and the ongoing struggles of surviving in Christchurch. There was also an underlying theme of the way people pull together to get through crisis times, especially in the poem Block Party (the author’s name I regretfully forget).

We were delighted to discover our CWG member, Helen Mongillo, was a winner of the competition. Despite the nervousness she showed before the event began, her reading was executed beautifully. The poem itself took us back to the day of the quake. It showed the way people became selfless, and did all they could to help others, despite danger to themselves. It also aptly captured the fear we all now live with: when will the next one be, and how much more can our buildings take?

The event was MCed by Jeffery Paparoa Holman, who also read some thought provoking poems of his own, such as one regarding the death of a language; it was particularly relevant due to Maori Language Week last week and the continued declining numbers of Te Reo Maori speakers.

We were also treated to readings from Helen Lowe and Ben Brown, both of whom read wonderfully. Ben Brown reminded me of Glenn Colquhoun, as they both perform, rather than simply read their work. Definitely a pleasure to listen to. Helen Lowe’s poetry struck me as ethereal. I hope she one day publishes an anthology of her poetry so I can buy a copy, though she did tell me some poems are available on her blog site.

Helen Mongillo has kindly given us permission to post her photo and winning poem here. I hope you enjoy her poem as much as we did.

Helen Mongillo reads her poem at the Poets Respond to the Quake event.

My Life, by Helen Mongillo
Normal day.  Email, photocopy, edit.
Floor rolls.  Filing cabinet drawers move towards me.
Must get out.  Can’t walk.  Falling files.  Crawling.
First aid course memories, “It’s alright!  It’s going to be fine!” I call from hands and knees.
Sobs from under nearby desk.

Evacuation.  Wait!  My cell phone.
Crawl under desk.  Tug, tug at my hand bag, pinned under heavy metal cabinet.
“Kirsty.  Can you help?”  She steps on books and files.  Yanks metal.  Bag free.
Down four flights.  Stairwell waterfalls.  Must be bad.
Kilmore Street crowded. Text kids. Where did these bruises on my arms come from?

Back to work.  Second floor, two story, pre-1970’s building, near city centre.
What if there’s another one now?  This tiny toilet.  Cinderblock wall.
Forgetting.  Caught off guard again.  Hold desk edge; do I go under?
Laughter.  Cursing.  Eventually no comment at all.  The strangest.
Why do I stay here?  It’s my life.

Events and Writing opportunities

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While looking for the Storylines post on the facebook page I noticed a few other up and coming events that I had forgotten, so since I just added categories that you can search by on the side bar I thought I would add the other events I found to this site too.


In the month leading up to National Poetry Day 2012 there will be a competition called My Quake Nightmare
Participants will be invited to submit a poem of between 10 and 20 lines on this theme.
The poem must be delivered or posted to Canterbury University Bookshop,
University Drive, Ilam, Christchurch 8041 before 20th July. No email entries.
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, author of Shaken Down 6.3 will judge
There will be 10 prizes. The first 5 winners receive a $50 UBS book voucher
Next 5 winners receive a copy of Shaken Down 6.3.
Please add you contact details to entry.
All 10 winners will be invited to read their poem at the Canterbury University Bookshop National Poetry Day Event 27th July 12.30pm – 1.30pm.

Poets Respond to the Quake.
Performers Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Helen Lowe, Writer in Residence UC 2012 and Ben Brown
The first 30 people to attend the event will be given a free voucher for coffee or tea at the newly opened adjacent AdLib Café.
In addition, in the week leading up to the event, we will feature poetry inside the shop with book displays and poetry walls inside and out…

Children’s Novel Writing competition (Women only)

2012 Children’s Novel Competition

[Entry fee of £25]

1ST PRIZE: £5,000

The competition is open to children’s novels in any genre by previously unpublished women novelists, but it must be for children who are able to read for themselves or for young adults. Crossover fiction (i.e. that aimed at children and adults) is eligible. Nonfiction, and fiction intended for adults is not eligible. To qualify as a novel, your book must total at least 30,000 words.

Closing date: 10 September 2012

Full Details:

Short Story competition

The NZ Writers’ College 2012 Annul Short Story Award

This competition is to acknowledge excellence in creative writing in the Short Story genre. The contest is open to any emerging writer residing in New Zealand or Australia, who has had fewer than four stories/articles published in any format (print or digital).


  • First Prize: $1 000.00 plus entry into one of our short courses
  • Second Prize: $ 500.00
  • People’s Choice Award $ 250.00 

THEME: Full Circle

DEADLINE: 30 September 2012

Full details: