A Wellington newspaper, Cook Strait News, has done a wonderful article about Dragons Realm‘s new shiny 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel.
Dragons Realm is part of the You Say Which Way series of interactive fiction published by The Fairytale Factory. Interactive fiction is a great way for kids to learn about choices, leadership, relationships and the ripple effect of their decisions – while having adventures. I enjoy writing interactive fiction because there are so many storylines to explore, a range of outcomes and lots of fun plots to choose from.
Plotting 22 different stories was an interesting challenge which could have become a logistical nightmare. A trusty excel spreadsheet kept me sane. Me and that excel sheet became besties (best friends) as we worked together to keep all the stories in order!
Nikki Papatsoumas was the journalist who took this great picture and did a nice write up. Please pop over and read it. And yes, Wellington’s mid-winter weather is ALWAYS this beautiful – sun shining, gentle breeze creating interesting hairstyles and of course, it never rains here!
Anyone keen on writing interactive fiction or learning about how to write it, contact me. The Fairytale Factory are publishing a “how to” book soon, and I’ll let you know when it’s out.
Love Limericks? Love dragons?
Are you good at rhyming?
Or maybe you just want to try something new?
For kids, adults, teenagers, everyone!
Be quick, get your limerick to us before 30 July 2016 and be in to win publication in my new book Clawsome Dragon Limericks and Amazon vouchers for the book! The full post about Phantom Feather Press’ Dragon Limerick Contest & how to enter is here.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that my entry for Flash Frontier Micromadness accepted for publication. Well, it was published online today 13 June, New Zealand time.
22 Finalists will have their entries published between 1 June 2016 and 22 June 2016, National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand. The winner of the competition will be announced on 22 June.
I wrote my entry Midnight a week before the 13th anniversary of my son’s death. He is the theme of my short story. His death was so unexpected, so sudden and changed me deeply. A small warning: This story is not for the faint-hearted or those who have suffered recent bereavement. It’s only as years have passed that I can allow myself to express some of these emotions via my writing. If you’ve recently lost someone you love, sometimes it’s best to be kind to your self and not ‘go there.’
My entry is here. If you’re viewing this after 13 June, you’ll need to scroll down to 13 June entry, next to the gorgeous oil painting Owlmoon by Sandra Whyte.
Radio host Sherri Rabinowitz interviewed me on Blog Talk Radio about winning a Sir Julius Vogel Award, my books, dragons, and my real passion in life.
We also had fun discussing interactive fiction, strategies for dealing with bullying, kids’ literacy and literary festivals. It was blast. Please download the podcast here. I hope you enjoy listening to the show!
I’m thrilled to announce that a week ago I was selected as a finalist in the New Zealand Flash Frontier Micromadness literary contest. All entries had to be under 100 words! My flash fiction story of 76 words was selected by judges and will be featured on their Micromadness blog here at Flash Frontier, one of New Zealand leading venues for literary flash fiction.
From June 1 – June 22 the top 22 selected entries will be published. On 22 June, New Zealand Flash Fiction Day, we will read our flash fiction and Micromadness at venues across the country. I’ll be reading at the Thistle Inn Mulgrave St, near the Wellington Railway Station, on National Flash Fiction day, Wednesday, 22 June, along with other authors from 6pm to 8pm.
Enjoy reading Micromadness in Flash Frontier. I’ll send you a link when my story is up.
I was gobsmacked. Speechless. And in tears. Quietly (my friends can vouch that’s not usual for me), I thanked the many people who have shaped my writing – a long list – while tears tracked down my cheeks.
But, wait, roll back. What’s this show of emotion about?
On Sunday night, my book, Dragons’ Realm, received the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel.
Internationally acclaimed fantasy author, Juliet Marillier, and New Zealand fantasy author, Anna McKenzie, had both been teaching us over weekend. Juliet was presenting the writers’ awards. I was sitting at the back of the room, tucked out of sight, when the results were announced.
A tear leaked from my eye. Then another…
Faced with such tough competition, it was such a shock to win.
Kevin Berry nudged me. “You have to walk up the front,” he whispered. “Off you go.”
Usually fast on my feet, I was so stunned that I hadn’t moved! Once I got to the front of the room, you could’ve heard a mouse squeak.
Then my ‘thank yous‘ started. And here they are again.
Thank you to every reader who nominated my book Dragons Realm for Best Youth Novel. Thanks to you, my novel got on the shortlist. And thank you to fans who voted for my shortlisted book in the secret ballot.
My amazing publishers, Deb Potter and Blair Polly of the Fairytale Factory, have been imaginative and worked hard to make Dragons Realm the best book it could be. Thank you to Monkey Lab and Clarke’s critique group – my fantastic peers who review my work: Alicia Ponder, Peter Friend, Lee Murray, Simon Fogarty, Charlotte Kieft and Michelle Child. You guys are my tribe and I love your insight, brainstorming sessions and sense of humor!
Thank you to Grace Bridges of Splashdown Press and Chila of Port Yonder Press for awarding me first place in the SpecFicNZ Going Global Award which opened many doors for me. Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray were my first editors on the Baby Teeth project which saw Marie Hodgkinson of Paper Road Press publish my first short story.
Thanks to Alicia Ponder who found me and introduced me to Phoenix Writers, who got Lost in The Museum with me. Geoff Popham deserves a big thank you for his award-winning art. Then there are all the Phantom Feather Press authors who helped make the Best of Twisty Christmas Tales a success. Paul Mannering’s crazy ideas always spark more of my own. Vicki Cunningham is always positive and cheerful. My family is very cool and support my books – Kurt and the kids love riding dragons and cracking jokes. My friends at home, and loyal readers, friends and writers around the world have been amazingly supportive – especially Holly Lisle’s online forum – all my Write a Book with Me buddies. (I can hear you cheering!)
And thanks to Kyle Mewburn, who mentored me and strengthened my voice!!! (Yes, they can hear me in Switzerland now when I sing!) To the many writers whose workshops I’ve attended (Juliet Marillier, Anna McKenzie, David Hill, Fleur Beale, Ruth Paul to name a few). To Joy Cowley, Dave Freer and David Hill for their contributions to The Best Twisty Christmas Tales.
It’s also great to be part of the SSFANZ, SpeciFicNZ, NZSA, Storylines and the Wellington Children’s Book Association.
Is there anyone I haven’t mentioned? If so, thank you too. We all need a tribe, a village, a city… a circle of supporters, friends and mentors.
Yes, my babies have flown home to roost, but not for long. I’m taking my wee fosterlings to Au Contraire to find them new homes. If you fancy a wee dragon for your little one, or a majestic beast for your growing kids, I have just the pets for you! They’d love new owners! I’ll be at the New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention (Au Contraire 2016) in Wellington this weekend. Hopefully my wee babies won’t follow me home…
… after all I’d love to have more dragonets come to visit soon and there won’t be space if this lot don’t find happy readers to love them.
It’s going to be a busy weekend. I’m in a team, teaching a young writers all day on Friday, then we’ll be at the floating market fostering my babies (sniff sniff), workshop-ing with Anna MacKenzie on Saturday, listening to Juliet Marillier on Saturday, discussing forensics with police, community with fans and writers, and interviewing panelists about independent publishing until 10pm at night.
It’s going to be fun. Come along if you’re keen and you just may get to take a dragon home! If you can’t get there, but would love a dragon anyway, contact me and I can send you one. (I’ll answer when I get back!)
Au Contraire is a not-for-profit event which supports New Zealand Sci-fi and Fantasy. All proceeds go to charity. The timetable is here.
Talking dragons is one of my favourite past-times. Okay, and reading, writing and flying on dragons too… Whatever, dragons are cool. My middle-grade dragon fiction caught the attention of Lee Murray who has won five Sir Julius Vogel Awards and an Australasian Shadows Award for writing and editing.
The short list for the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Awards has been out for a while. Although I’ve been very busy writing and have neglected to post this earlier, I’m very excited to be a finalist in two categories!
To be eligible for Best New Talent, writers must have had their first story or book published less than four years ago. MIne was my short story Dad’s Wisdom, in the Baby Teeth anthology in 2013. A writer may only ever be shortlisted twice for this category.
Check out all the finalists here. The winners will be revealed on June 5th at Au Contraire, the New Zealand National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, in Wellington this coming weekend.
Thirteen years ago today, my son died. He was half of fraternal twins – the healthy half. His twin sister had been chronically ill for two years, and I had been housebound caring for her. Tough times for an extrovert.
After her recovery, we had a normal life for three months, out & about with the twins and their older brother. Having fun.
Then Tommy died, overnight of strep A.
Plunged into an abyss, I had to keep mothering, keep going for my kids. I’m so thankful I had them to wake up to. My husband and I clung to each other in an ocean of grief. Our family was our life raft. The community rallied around us, keeping us afloat. It was fourteen months before I laughed again. Two years before I felt anywhere near normal. Our family would never be the same again.
We now have four healthy kids and one somewhere ‘on the other side.’
My story, Call of the Sea, in the At the Edge anthology, explores how easily people lose their sense of identity when they lose a child. In order to survive, we need to be nurtured. Kendra, estranged from her cheating ex-husband, doesn’t get this support. As her life disintegrates, she journeys to the edge of insanity. Or is she sane? Maybe the rest of the world just can’t see what she does.
Tiny excerpts from Call of the Sea:
From the first scene…
“Wind moans through the tunnel on the deserted playground. The ropes on the massive climbing frame jerk. Grey waves thrash the shore, flinging spray over the naked sand. The Pōhutukawa dance, the silver underskirts of their dark green leaves flashing, like shy debutantes ‒ as if to tempt an unsuspecting fool into loving them.
My hands itch for a brush and canvas.
Breathing deeply, I shove the swing harder than I need to.
“Higher, Mum,” Aihe calls, swinging her legs for momentum. But she doesn’t get far. The gale is against us.”
… and from the second scene…
“Is that Mr Lenton?” a woman’s gravelly voice asks. “Mr Terry Lenton?” Mr? Definitely not work. “Speaking.” “This is Inspector Turner of Wellington Central Police.” Terry clears his throat. “Yes?” “Sir, we have your children in custody.” “What? My kids!” Terry’s pulse bounds, fork clanking onto his plate. “Could you come down to the station right away, please?” “What’s happened? Where’s Kendra?” “We were hoping you could tell us.”
…to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights,
at the edge of town, where the cell phone coverage is decidedly dodgy,
at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks,
at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows,
at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring-side seat,
at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on…
From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 22 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes, tales told by the children of warriors and whalers, convicts and miners: people unafraid to strike out for new territories and find meaning in the expanses at the edge of the world.
Compiled by award-winning editing team Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray, and including a story by Arthur C. Clarke finalist Phillip Mann and introduction by World Fantasy Award winner Angela Slatter, At the Edge is a dark and dystopic collection from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best speculative writers.
At the Edge will be launched next weekend at Au Contraire 2106, the National New Zealand Convention of Science Fiction and Fantasy.