Writing opportunities

Upcoming Opportunities for Authors

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We have compiled a selection of local and national opportunities for authors. Please note that these are not Guild-affiliated, for further information, please refer to the links provided.


SpecFicNZ is seeking submissions to a new anthology titled, Te Kōrero Ahi Kā, an unthemed anthology that will showcase the best work from members of the SpecFicNZ organisation of writers, poets, artists, and creatives.

You need to be a member of SpecFic NZ to enter, you can join or renew here.

Submissions close: 31 October 2017.

For further details


New Zealand Society of Authors are running the Heritage Book & Writing Awards, with two categories open for unpublished authors: poetry and short prose. The theme is “Finding Our Way.” Authors are encouraged to approach the theme broadly.

Each short-form category awards a prize of $200 for first place.

There is a $15 entry fee.
Submissions Close: 15 August 2017

For more information, please visit their website.


William Taylor Memorial Heartland Short Story Competition is being held for 2017. Monetary prizes of $300, $75 and $50 respectively will be awarded.

Entries should be fiction in any genre and be up to 1,000 words in length.

There is a $10 entry fee.
Submissions close: 30 September 2017


The Storylines Awards are hosted annually, with three categories for  unpublished authors of children’s fiction. These awards come with an offer of publication from well-renowned Australasian publishers for the winning entrant.

Tessa Duder Award: for teenage/young adult fiction.
Tom Fitzgibbon Award: for middle grade readers (7-11 years)
Joy Cowley Award: for a picture book manuscript

Please note: an entry fee applies.
Submissions close: 31 October 2017

Writing Fairy Tales

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(A Guest Post by Shelley Chappell)

southernstarRecently I put out a call for submissions for an anthology of radical retellings of fairy tales for young adult readers. I’ve always loved fairy tales and I released my own collection of novelette-length retellings, Beyond the Briar, back in 2014, followed by some shorter fairy tale retellings. I’m keen to see what other writers might do with fairy tale retellings and, in particular, to gather together fairy tale retellings by Southern writers – citizens or residents of New Zealand, Australia or a South Pacific island – and explore what synergy we can create in our retellings.

Wish Upon a Southern Star will be a collection of quirky and profound reinterpretations of our favourite tales. The contributors will all be citizens or residents of New Zealand, Australia or a South Pacific island. The stories will each retell a single fairy tale, which may be from the European fairy tale canon or a lesser known original (including non-European fairy tales). I’m really looking forward to reading the submissions and selecting some thought-provoking stories for fairy tale fans to read.

As many writers have never experimented with fairy tale retelling, my fellow writers at the Christchurch Writers’ Guild have asked me to share what I know about fairy tales and my suggestions of how to rewrite them. My recent blog series covers this subject in depth, tracing why I love fairy tales, what fairy tales are, the history of fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, fairy tale critics, approaches to fairy tale retellings and a writing exercise on how to radically retell fairy tales. But that’s a lot of reading! For those of you who just want a quick overview as you’re chomping to get started, here are the essentials:

What is a fairy tale?
A fairy tale is a kind of folk tale which takes place in a magical, other realm, contains archetypal characters, repeated motifs, and a plot structure involving journeys or quests, tests, magical help, transformations, punishments and rewards.

What’s important about the history of fairy tales?
Fairy tales have been around for thousands of years but they took on a new lease of life with the writings of the French around the turn of the seventeenth century followed by a range of collectors and writers in the nineteenth century, including the Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Andrew Lang. To retell fairy tales, you have to know the originals. You can read a huge range of fairy tales from around the world online.

How do you retell one?
Fairy tale retellings can be standard and close to the original or they can be radically different or ‘fractured’. How radical or fractured a fairy tale retelling is depends on how many of the key elements are changed – characters and their roles and motivations; settings; plot events; motifs and objects; genre; narrative perspective; themes and messages. If you want to write a radically retold fairy tale, you’ll need to work out how and why you want to change each of these elements – what you want to keep (so that the fairy tale is still recognisable) and what you want to transform.

If you’d like to contribute to Wish Upon a Southern Star, please read the details in the Call for submissions and contact me if you have any queries. I can be reached on my Facebook page, my website, or by emailing wishuponasouthernstar@yahoo.com. Happy writing!

once upon a time closeShelley Chappell wrote her PhD on the motif of fantastic metamorphosis in children’s and young adult fantasy literature and has taught literary analysis at a variety of institutions. In her spare time, Shelley writes fairy tales and other fantasy fiction for all ages. She is the author of BEYOND THE BRIAR: A COLLECTION OF ROMANTIC FAIRY TALES.

Spectra: Our New Anthology

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The Christchurch Writers’ Guild are seeking submissions for our next anthology. Spectra will be a collection of stories, poems and images all showing The Many Shades of Life.

“The world is not black and white; it’s filled with colour.”

What we are looking for:
We are looking for flash fiction, poems, short stories, creative non-fiction and illustrations from a wide range of genres.

  • Short Stories up to 7000 words. Polished and engaging stories. All stories should be self-contained.
  • Flash Fiction, up to 2000 words. Remember flash fiction is a slice of life, presenting an interesting and compelling story.
  • Poetry. All forms will be considered: metered and unmetered; traditional and experimental.
  • Creative Non-Fiction. Tell us that anecdote and tell it well. Word count limits are the same as short stories and flash fiction.
  • Illustrations. Many writers are also talented artists, so we welcome these submissions too. Please ensure that all illustrations render well in black-and-white; however, we will accept colour images for digital publications. High resolution images are required for printing.

What we are NOT looking for:

  • Please no explicit sexual content or violence.
  • Any swearing must be story appropriate. NOT gratuitous.

Formatting and Submissions:
All submissions should:

  • use UK English spelling,
  • be proof-read and grammar checked,
  • use single spacing after full stops (periods),
  • and double quote marks around speech.

Stories should be in TXT, RTF or DOC format. Illustrations should be in JPG or PNG format. DO NOT SEND PDF FILES.

Please email all submissions to:

Submissions close: 1st June, 2016

We reserve the right to reject your submission, or request an edit.


No remuneration can be given for works included in this anthology (i.e. we cannot pay you). All participants will be given a free digital copy and offered reduced rates for printed copies. Each works included will remain the intellectual property of the writer/illustrator.

All proceeds go to the Christchurch Writers’ Guild.

Last updated: Jan 17, 2016

Anthology for 2015: “Chiaroscuro”

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Chiaroscuro (English pronunciation: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊəroʊ/; Italian: [kjarosˈkuːro]; Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.

Our next shared anthology is to be a collection of urban fantasy/magical realism, shade of light and dark blending together. For it I shall be collecting contributions that fall into one of two categories:


Even within the gritty, urban streets, beauty can be found. A daisy, poking its head from a crack in the concrete, a bird, nesting in the eaves of a business’s balcony. Children, playing games of make-believe in the gardens or along the river, tales that sometimes come true. The fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is magic to be found everywhere, in the everyday, and it is too often forgotten in the grim and grit of modern life. Tales for this section should be of a light-hearted, gentler nature. This does not mean that they cannot have elements of darkness, merely that the overall feeling should be one of hope. Bittersweet is also encouraged. Should have a happy ending, or if not entirely happy, at least the sort of ending that leaves the reader feel satisfied and fulfilled.

Inspirations: Diana Wynne Jones, Cornelia Funke, Kate DiCamillo, Cecilia Ahern, Joanne Harris.

Possible theme ideas: finding romance in an unlikely source; discovering something new and exciting; modern-day fairy-tale retellings with an upbeat twist; the underdog rising to power/success/triumph …


Dark and gritty, where monsters lurk in the shadows, oppression and rebellion. Where friendships are fragile and challenges feel insurmountable. Tales for this section should be heavy, gritty, lure the reader in, keep them glued to the page. They can still be funny, possibly even the sort of funny that leaves the reader feeling faintly uncomfortable with themselves for finding it amusing. Can be disconcerting, uncomfortable. Should also contain some elements of light and hope. Can have either a moderately happy ending, a tragic ending or anywhere in between. Should not be too dark and twisted, please keep it to a level that you would be comfortable for your (real or hypothetical) teenage children to read.

Inspirations: Suzanne Collins, Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Chris Wooding…

Possible theme ideas: modern-day retold Grimm fairy tales; ghosts/vampires/demons and other creatures of the night; rebellion against an oppressor …

Setting: A city or other urban environment in Earth, modern day + or – 100 years (so from 1915-2115). Can be alternate-reality (ie: steampunk, Germany won the war etc); hidden world (there are vampires and demons amongst us); discovery (there is more to this world than what we believe); utopia; dystopia… if you are unsure, feel free to ask.

Word Count: up to 7,000 words


* use UK English spelling.

* must be proof-read and grammar checked.

* single spacing after full stops (periods).

* double quotes around speech (the ones that curl inwards, towards the speech please)

.* save as a .doc file.

* please no excessive violence, overly-descriptive sex scenes or ridiculous amounts of swearing (the latter should be used to enhance/show the character’s levels of tension, not act as a form of punctuation).

Story should stand alone and contain all the relevant story-telling attributes: conflict, rising action, climax, falling action. Remember those oft-repeated cliches: “Arrive late, leave early” and “show, not tell“. If you need advice, or struggle with these, come to the facebook page and ask for assistance.

Even the lighter stories must have some sort of conflict/problem for the character/s to deal with.

Here’s a link I just found that may be useful: https://wikis.engrade.com/plottingashortstory

Ideally I would like first (polished) drafts by the 1st April. It will then be read through by our editing committee. Not all stories will necessarily be accepted. We reserve the right to reject your story or request an edit. To this end, we will offer a short critique for every submission if requested.

We cannot pay you. Proceeds from this anthology will go to help support the Christchurch Writers’ Guild and help us to plan some events that you are welcome to participate in (should you happen to live in New Zealand). We can, and will, give you a free copy of the ebook and offer you reduced rates for printed copies, should you wish to purchase any for friends or family. You will also be given a full page biography, including a chance to link your website or promote your other titles, within the book.

The book will be independently printed via Amazon’s CreateSpace program and through Kindle Direct Publishing.

Illustrators are also welcome to contribute.

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!

CWG Anthology

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Exciting news – we are planning our first collaborative collection!

The theme is “Reflections”, to be interpreted in whatever manner you desire – it could be reflections in a mirror, reflecting on a life once lived…Whatever the word sparks in your imagination.

Word count must be no more than 7,000 words (but can be substantially less).

Extracts from a larger story are fine, as long as they stand alone and build to some sort of conclusion – they need to be read entirely independent of the original text. Also, if you wish to use your own world or characters, that is also perfectly fine, just assume the reader has no prior knowledge of it/them.

If you wish you may provide images to go with your text. HOWEVER, these must be images that you have either made yourself or have written permission to use in a  commercial manner. If you have any artist friends who wish to join this collaboration (illustrating your story, for example), they are welcome to join and will be credited accordingly. Any photographs must be yours (ie: taken by you) and any digital manipulations must be digitally manipulated from your own images or stock that you have acquired through legal and appropriate means. All interior illustrations will be black and white.

Although we have not set an official release date for this, please aim to have your first draft completed by the end of August. We will discuss our progress in our August meeting – on the 12th. It would be nice, although not necessarily feasible, if we could have the printed book available by Christmas.

For those of you hoping to enter the Storylines competitions, being published in this manner will not automatically disqualify you (I read the small print).

If you are interested in this project and are not already a member of the Christchurch Writers’ Guild, please visit our Facebook page or drop us an email for further information.

Definitions of “Reflection”

Final volume will be printed via CreateSpace and thus available for sale on Amazon. Ebook formats can also be organised. Once it is done, we will order in multiple copies for members of the Guild (to purchase) and also some copies for general sale. Details for this will be discussed closer to the time.

And as a final note – you will receive no payment for participating in this book and proceeds/royalties (if any) will be donated to the Guild. This is intended as a fun collaboration and also as an introduction into the self publishing industry for those of us who have yet to delve into it.

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!

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.

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.