Meet some of our awesome authors

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Check out Beaulah’s blog for interviews with some of our Guild members including twelve-year-old Georgie and Critique Coordinator Fran.

3 a.m. Epiphany – New Challenge

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Check out our affiliate 3 a.m. Epiphany for a new writing challenge!

October Writing Prompt

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So I got a book of proverbs… so we have three options for a writing prompt this month

1. A proverb:

What is written with a pen cannot be cut out with an axe.

2. A line:

You’re just in time for a little mayhem.”

3. World building exercise:

Come up with a new holiday. Explain why and how it should be celebrated.


If you want an extra hard challenge try to incorporate all three!

As always try to write approximately 500 words on whichever you choose, and Have Fun!


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.

Time for the Membership Form

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We have an amazing 332 people in our Facebook Christchurch Writers’ Guild group. It’s fantastic.

With size comes a need to be organised, so we decided we needed to create a form for all members to fill in to become “official members” so we could have a member database with basic information like an email addresses. Then we really started thinking about the kind of information that would be helpful to make the most of the Guild, and ensure that it’s working for all our lovely members.

On top of this, we really want to accommodate those people that don’t have a Facebook page. We understand that some members may be too young for, or simply not interested in, Facebook. So this gives those people a chance to still be part of the Guild, and feel as though they are valued members too.
So we would like to invite all our existing members (and new members that join us) to fill in the Membership Form you will find here or click on the Join Us page link at the top of the page.

Please be assured that all your information will be kept private, and will only be accessed by CWG admin.

September Writing Prompt

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Another word list this month, vaguely inspired by the weather…

  1. Rain
  2. Action
  3. Shape
  4. Dark
  5. Carry
  6. Coin
  7. Laugh
  8. Puddle
  9. Cloud
  10. Apprehension


Aim: about 500 words total

As usual use as many or as few words you like and have fun!

Happy writing!


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.

Critique System for Members

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Write. Right, even. Time to organise this feedback system for real.
If you’re in, email with your name, email, and what critiquing experience/ability you have.
If you don’t really know what you’re doing, that’s fine, the best way to learn is to do.
I’ll write up some rules and guidelines in the next 24hrs too.
First thing you do need to know though, is that if you want to have your work critiqued you’re going to have to critique for others. 🙂


😀 Fran