PenNorth February 2015



  • We have an email loop for gossip, advice, research queries and anything writing-related. You are not automatically subscribed to this loop when you join NZSA. If you are interested in joining or want more information please email northlandauthors[at]gmail[dot]com.
  • Remember to let us know of your achievements by emailing them to Kathy or to northlandauthors[at]gmail[dot]com.
  • Dargaville has a writing group for beginner writers, contact Maureen on 09 439 4368 or 0272298801 for more information, and the Kerikeri group will start up soon.

Member Announcements

  • Donna Blaber’s new book Off to the Beach was released on December 6th, and her Kiwi Critters books made it into the Australian Women’s Weekly’s top picks of picture books for kids for Christmas. Graham Beattie’s book blog has mentioned the release of Hide and Seek.
  • Trish Nicholson has been invited to give a half-day workshop on Writing your Family History to non-writers at the REAP centre in Kaitaia in March.
  • Michelle Elvy has written an update on her 2014 adventures which can be read at the end of this newsletter.
  • Connie Atkinson’s first book, written with her brother, has been featured in a full-page interview in The Northern Advocate and is now on sale in PaperPlus and Tuatara.

NorthWrite 2015

This year we are organising a NorthWrite one-day event focusing on self-publishing and exploring the steps involved in producing a successful publication. We are planning two workshop streams, one for those interested in writing for their families and/or local communities (whānau publishing), and another for writers planning to publish for the commercial market.

The seminar will be held at Maungatapere School just outside Whangarei on 18 April 2015. The two workshop streams will ensure that those writing for the trade and those writing for their families or community will receive tuition targeted to their needs.

The event will open with a panel discussion where Northland branch members will discuss their self-publishing experiences, before separating into the commercial and whānau streams. More information can be found at


The Northland Branch of the NZ Society of Authors is selling earrings made by Lesley Marshall. If you are interested in purchasing a pair at $NZ10 each then please email northlandauthors[at]gmail[dot]com. We will contact you to discuss delivery and payment. Colours available: orange, cerise, pink, bright blue, yellow, green, teal blue, mauve/purple, greyish-green, black with red binding, black with yellow binding, rose pink, scarlet, and three sets made from cut-offs from children’s art that are multi-coloured in green/blue/brown. Example images below.

earrings mauve

earrings balck with red  earrings scarlet
Next Meeting

Our next meeting is in Kerikeri on Saturday 21 February 2015. Dates for all the 2015 meetings can be found here.


A list of Northland writing events and opportunities can be found here.

Writing workshops with Penelope Todd

Running once a week for five weeks in Waipu, from 7 until 9 p.m., starting in the 2nd week of February. When Penelope hears from enough interested people she’ll decide whether to run one class or two, on Wednesday and/or Thursday, for novice and/or more experienced writers. Venue in Waipu will depend on final numbers. $15 per class with an option to have a piece of work assessed by Penelope during the week for another $15. Email with preference of evening (Wednesday or Thursday) and your level of writing experience to


National Short Story Competition 2015

The Top of the South branch has announced their 2015 national Page & Blackmore Short Story Competition. Judge: Ted Dawe. Closing date: 15th April. Entry forms are available from bruceastridge[at]aol[dot]com or at

National Flash Fiction Day

The annual National Flash Fiction Day writing competition is open. The submission period runs from February 1 to April 30. Winners will be announced in early June. Judges of the 2015 competition are Owen Marshall and Fiona Kidman. Competition guidelines can be found at the NFFD website.

Last year’s competition saw nearly 300 entries and a high quality of prose – both traditional and experimental. Readers can read last year’s winning stories by Sarah Dunn of Nelson, Patricia Hanifin of Auckland and Sue Kingham of Christchurch, along with the other highly commended and shortlisted stories, here.

June events will be posted on the website in the coming months. If you or your organisation would like to host a NFFD event, get in touch and let us know.

Second NZ Independent Book Festival October 2015

The second NZ Independent Book Festival will be held at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland. This book festival is held once a year, with exhibitors being independent & self-published New Zealand authors, private publishers, literary businesses and independent book stores. Last year we had 90 exhibitors from all over New Zealand take exhibitor space at the Devonport event. The festival offers free entry to the public, allowing exhibitors to promote and sell their books and literary services directly to them. There will also be workshops, seminars and panel discussions on offer too, at a small charge or donation. More information here. Please contact Louise de Varga if you’d like to have a Trade Exhibitor Application Form emailed out to you. Email: c4s[at]clear[dot]net[dot]nz

Competitions and Awards for Writers

For information on other competitions and awards please use NZSA’s Literary Calendar. Also make use of the NZSA website to find out what’s on.


Dear all –

Michelle Ko Phayam ThailandI wanted to write a note here at the close of the year to say hello and send greetings from the very wet monsoon season in Malaysia. We’ve been underway a good part of this year, all through SE Asia, from the tiny islands of eastern Indonesia to a ridiculously raucous Full Moon Party at Ko Phangan in Thailand – which, I assure you, we merely happened upon one day when we sought shelter from nasty weather and spotted, on our chart, a perfect bay on the SE side of the closest island, with protection from the black skies coming in quickly from the west. When we arrived we had no idea that the location and the timing of our visit – being stuck there a full 5 days of a big blow that we needed to avoid – would place us smack in the middle of such revelry. It was LOUD. We grimaced and complained till dawn three nights in a row (it’s not just on one night that they celebrate; it’s a multi-day event), and then we finally gave in and went to shore to see what it was all about. And… we had a blast, following the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ motto. We had our kids in tow, of course, so we did not play on shore till dawn, but our ramble along the beach and 2 buckets of alcohol  (yes, you can only get buckets) kept us amused till 10pm. Firedancers, fire limbo, fire-anything: it was a spectacle. And – this was the surprising part – so friendly. It reminded me in some ways of Mardi Gras… everyone in such fine moods, sharing this event that only comes once – well in this case, ok, every single month…

Anyway, our travels have been wonderful this year, though it’s rare that we’re in such a strange place with the party set. Usually, we are quite on our own, exploring mosques, temples and other historic sites. We’ve come to appreciate the varied tones of the Muslim call to prayer and the textured subtleties of curries (Thai green curry still wins, for me). We’ve also come to appreciate how lacking this part of the world is in terms of education about rubbish collection and recycling: a first-hand view of harbours filled with trash caught in the tide, plus immense dump sites where rubbish goes to live forever. Unsightly – and smelly, if you happen to be anchored downwind of one of these sites.

And we’ve met some wonderful people too. People who’ve invited us into their homes, people who’ve helped us, people who’ve extended smiles. All in all, this has been a wonderful education for us all, peering from the edge, as we do, into lives of others and seeing first-hand how first-world comforts are not always the things that bring the deepest sense of contentment.

And so on that note, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. And also to express gratitude for the community of writers that I found in New Zealand, and that I still remain connected to, even as I’m away. Not only through projects like NFFD and Flash Frontier (where several Northland authors shared stories this year), but also through the things we’ve brought with us, that bring us back to NZ – namely, books. I carry with me a few things that sink me back into NZ life: short story collections and poetry collections and also Catton’s tome, quite outsized for my small shelf. Also, even closer to my heart: books that connect me personally to people I know. This year, for example, we’ve read Thor’s Tale by Janice Marriot, Di’s The Shadow of the Boyd and, just last month, Zana’s Close to the Wind. I started reading Zana’s book aloud to my girls, and I found I really loved the excellent writing (and sailing bits), while Lola admired the characters and plot twists, Jana giggled and got caught up in the suspense and love story – and even Bernie found himself immersed in the story and soon it became clear that I could not continue unless we were all assembled in the cockpit, ready for a good yarn.

So, I’m glad to carry pieces of Northland and the rest of NZ with me on this journey – and I look forward to 2015, which will keep me no doubt still connected to the place I’ve come to feel at home, even if the nautical miles stretch between us.

Continued creativity and happiness to you all,


2 thoughts on “PenNorth February 2015

  1. Thankyou for keeping me in the loop. I was recently announced as a finalist in the 2015 international Bookbzz Prize Writer competition for my novel “For a Fee of 2 Shillings.” Winners are by public vote so of course I am canvassing support from Pennorth members at Please click on ‘Historical Fiction’ and my title to share your vote…I really appreciate all support.

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