PenNorth November 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.
  • Use the Follow button on the right of this page to ensure you always receive up-to-date information.

Members’ Announcements

  • Trish Nicholson has had a short story accepted for the anthology Kaleidoscope, a fund-raiser for the child literacy charity, Room to Read, published this month by Writers Abroad.
  • Zana Bell is the winner of the Romance Writers of NZ Inc. Koru Award of Excellence 2015 (long romance section) with her novel, Fool’s Gold. Congratulations Zana!

Please remember to let us know of your achievements so we can celebrate your success with you.

Reviews from NZ Book Week

If you have any NZ Book reviews for next month’s PenNorth please email them to Kathy or to northlandauthors[at]gmail[dot]com.

The Party Line by Sue Orr. Vintage (2015) $38
Reviewed by Julie O’Brien

Sue OrrSet in rural 1970s New Zealand, Sue Orr’s new novel uses the central motif of the shared telephone line to evoke the close-knit nature of the small farming community, while the party line’s double meaning cleverly notes the shadow of such communities and introduces the book’s theme. When outsiders arrive in the form of sharemilker Ian Baxter and daughter Gabrielle, both raw with grief from the recent death of their wife and mother Bridie, Gabrielle’s unwillingness to toe that line creates the book’s central drama. Told through the eyes of those closest to Gabrielle, her father, best friend Nickie, and Nickie’s mother Joy, Orr expertly captures both the internal dynamics of her characters while creating a compelling plot. Her familiarity with the setting means she evokes the time and place impeccably, yet not at all sentimentally, in this smart yet accessible and enjoyable read.

Hard Country: a Golden Bay Life by Robin Robilliard. Random House (2014) Reviewed by Trish Nicholson

hard countryAfter growing up in Hawkes Bay, Robin Robilliard could hardly have launched on a more challenging prospect as a twenty-three year old, than crossing over the Takaka Hill with her husband and new baby to farm a property called ‘Rocklands’. Over the next fifty years they appreciated the full meaning of that name as they struggle to grow and raise anything that would survive. Almost everything they needed, they had to make themselves with classic Kiwi ingenuity. They discovered people who had crossed over the hill generations before, and whose descendants had never been ‘over the other side’. What kept the author’s sanity was a good sense of humour which permeates her memoir. Hard Country portrays the daily details of a pioneering life set within the history of the area, and it reveals a determined, resourceful character. While rearing their family of three children, Robin began to write articles for local papers; an enterprise that led to a period of travelling, not only ‘over the hill’, but outside New Zealand on journalist assignments. The book contains many pages of photographs and old family snapshots and is printed in a larger than usual font, which makes for easy reading. I was lucky enough to meet Robin recently on one of her extensive book tours, and as she said: “You will know everything there is to know about me when you have read the book.” An enjoyable read for those with nostalgia for the early 1960s and an eye-opener for those too young to remember.

Members’ Books

We would like to encourage members to discuss their books on this site. You can have one book (or one series of books) featured in PenNorth (until all members have had an opportunity and then you are welcome to feature another one) which will also be displayed on our Books page here. Descriptions should be kept to around 200 words. If you are interested, please send an image of the cover and your description to Kathy or to northlandauthors[at]gmail[dot]com.

No one has submitted their book for inclusion this month – perhaps Zana could be convinced to give us a run down on Fool’s Gold next month!

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is on Saturday 21 November 2015 at the Kaitaia Library. Trish Nicholson will be presenting a writing workshop so don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to work on your craft with your fellow members and a talented writer and teacher. Dates for all the 2015 meetings can be found here.


Poetry Events

Poets at Piano Bar Rust Avenue, Whangarei, Thursday 26 November, 5pm
Dirty Word Open Mic, Old Stone Butterfactory, Whangarei, 7pm.

Mangawhai Spring Writers’ Retreat
November 14th & 15th  2015

A two day writing retreat organized by The Writers’ Club to be held at The White House, on the Mangawhai Estuary. Limited accommodation available at a small extra cost. Bring along some of your stories and writing for discussion. We will also cover:

  • The aspects of story & Language
  • Character development
  • The character of place
  • Writing Dialogue
  • Grammar & Punctuation
  • Editing & Revision tips
  • One on one mentoring
  • Tips for self-publishing & e-publishing
  • Story collections- How to present and publish your writing collections

A light lunch will be provided both days plus tea & coffee.  Potluck dinner on the Saturday evening.  Bring a dish, salad or sweet to share and drinks of your choice.
$150.00 for the weekend
From 10.00am – 4.00pm each day
Registration & payment by Monday Nov.9th
For further enquiries call 09 4461269 or email

 Other Northland Events

A full list of Northland writing events and opportunities (including writers’ groups and information on the Whangarei Community Publications Trust) can be found here.


Words on a Small Island

The Waiheke Literary Festival will be held from 13–15 November. The programme is available here.

Competitions and Awards for Writers

For information on other competitions and awards please use NZSA’s Death by Deadline on the members-only page of the NZSA website.

Talk to us!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: