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Los Angeles

6 May

I’ve just come home after a 10 day spell in Los Angeles. I’ve been quietly working at a novel for the past eight months, and nearly half of the story is set in LA. I’d been to LA before (briefly, 2010) and had some idea of where I wanted the scenes to be set. Google Maps came into play a fair bit. Still, I figured it was probably worth going over and actually checking firsthand the places where I planned to set the scenes.

Wow, and aren’t I glad that I did?

Looking out over LA from the Observatory Trail’s peak.

Santa Monica Pier, sundown.

In fact, I had to rethink several of my scenes after actually standing on the spot where I imagined the action taking place. Santa Monica Beach, for instance, is still crowded on a cold and windy weeknight after the sun has gone down (at least crowded by New Zealand standards), not quite the romantic spot that I’d envisaged. Hollywood Boulevard is a touristy hellhole and not the kind of place you’d find anyone actually affiliated with the movie industry. And, contrary to my imagination, the Hollywood sign isn’t a quick stroll away (my character, peering up at the sign, had been inspired to leave the cafe she’d been sitting at and walk straight up to it), but is in fact a car ride followed by a two hour hike through the hills away. (It was a beautiful walk though!)

About half way – walking to the sign.

The sign, from behind, at night.

I also learned that the ocean’s water is very cold indeed, that it takes a good hour to get anywhere on the bus, and that I’ll no doubt have to take another trip to LA because in ten days I barely scratched the surface.

All in all, though, a very successful journey. Locations chosen. Photos snapped. Notes jotted.

Zuma Beach, Malibu.



In a world full of birds

6 Nov

Ben’s body keeps replicating each month, and it’s a hell of a mess disposing of his old body each time. Now he’s waiting for the the police to arrive, and he knows he has to prove himself innocent against charges of murder

I thought it would be a good idea to put one of my favourite stories up on-line. In a world full of birds was the first thing I wrote after finishing my Masters in Creative Writing at the end of 2012. Around that time Random Static (a small Wellington speculative fiction press) were doing a call-out for stories for their newest anthology, Regeneration. I submitted the story, and was thrilled to have it accepted (here’s a link to the publication). After that, it went on to be short-listed for the Sir Julius Vogel’s Best Novella of 2013 award, and it came first place in the Au Contraire short story competition, which ran alongside that year’s national sci fi/fantasy convention.

All in all, I was very happy with how it got on, and I feel it’s time to share it in its entirety.

So here it is: In-a-world-full-of-birds-pdf

Yellow Pill – Ink Stains Volume 2

11 Oct

Howdy folks. This rather gruesome (**non-vegan!**) image is the cover of the newest anthology that my writing is a part of. Published by Dark Alley Press, the anthology contains seven gritty, dark fictions.

My story Yellow Pill is a suspenseful tale about Lata, who begins to become increasingly suspicious about the pills her boyfriend Joseph takes for his asthma. He seems to take them an awful lot. He’s cagey about where he gets them from. The local pharmacy is even hounding her, after they ran some tests and didn’t even recognise what the hell they were. Things get much worse when Lara decides to take one of the pills herself.


Ink Stains Volume 2 can be purchased here at Amazon – either as an ebook, or print. Happy reading….

Shortlisted, and a trip to Ohakune

20 Mar

I figured I could combine two posts into one – some would call this efficient, others rambly. Whatever. My first item of news is that my story Pocket Wife (published by Paper Road Press) has been shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novella 2015. That’s pretty exciting. The full list and voting info can be found here.


Last Thursday my friend Allan and I took a train down to the little town of Ohakune, to attend the first Ruapehu Writers Festival. I didn’t want to admit to any of the locals that I hadn’t actually heard of Ohakune before I booked my ticket to the event… but I hadn’t. It’s a quiet town that apparently explodes during the ski season (most of the shops and restaurants were closed, displaying signs that claimed they’d be “back in winter”). I’ve never skied, so I suppose that’s why Ohakune had never entered my radar.



The festival was held at the Powderhorn Chateau, although I stayed in a somewhat cheaper (okay, a lot cheaper) backpackers down the road. My box-like room was crammed between the communal kitchen and bathroom. Sleep wasn’t really on the cards.

But my having to rough it was worthwhile, as from 9am till 9pm each day I was able to sit and absorb some of New Zealand’s best poetry and prose. I participated in a workshop with Sue Orr, listened to writers’ and publishers’ opinions on their works and the industry, and even read my poem Middlemarch at the Poetry Slam night.



One of the highlights was the walk to Waitonga Falls, Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall. It’s a beautiful (and reasonably easy) walk, so if you are heading to that area you can find out about it here.





The speakers kept referring to the festival as the “first annual Ruapehu Writers Festival”, so I can only presume there will be another one. Ohakune is conveniently in the middle of the North Island, easy enough for those in Wellington and Auckland to catch a train or drive (sorry South Islanders). Here’s a shot of Mt Ruapehu, taken from the train on the return journey.


Odd Feet

13 Nov


Again, I’m very excited to receive my contributor’s copy of The Kiwi Diary. I love my Kiwi Diary and I use it all the time… (Think “I love my leather jacket” by The Chills when you read that sentence). This is the third year in a row that some words of mine have been lovingly placed among the days of the year – and next year, to be precise, between November 6th and November 7th, with a page all to its own.


Odd Feet is actually one of the first pieces of flash fiction that I wrote, and I’m glad it has finally found a home somewhere. I get rather attached to my characters (even if they’re only characterised by their feet), and feel a little sad for them if they sit too long in my ‘Writing’ folder, without getting out there and experiencing the big wide world.  If you click on the picture above, it will enlarge so you can read the story.

Coincidentally, my poem ‘Home’ is placed beside today’s date in the current (2015) Kiwi Diary. It’s about Dunedin, my home-town, which I visit about once per year. According to The Kiwi Diary, today is also the day that ex-Prime Minister David Lange made his international debut as a racing car driver, in 1987. Well, now. Fancy that.


The Box – SpecFicNZ Shorts

31 Oct

A month or so ago I wrote a post about the spooky bookshop short story competition, run by SpecFicNZ to coincide with NZ Bookshop Day and Halloween – both falling on the same day this year, that day being this very one (Happy Halloween!). I decided to enter the competition myself, and was chuffed to find out that my story The Box came third place. Piper Mejia came first with her story The Shelver, followed by Jane Percival with her story The Bookshop – and you can read all about it here.


The three stories have been packaged up into a free e-book. Apparently Amazon haven’t actually quite set it to $0.00 just yet, but Kobo has.  If, like me, you don’t have an actual real-life e-book reader, they are easy to download. The free e-book reader I downloaded makes everything look a bit naff, but it does the job.

Each story is less than 2000 words. Click on either of the links above to download your free (or not quite free) copy.

Free Iron

14 Oct

I don’t know how, but I somehow missed the publication of my story Free Iron by over a month. Whoops! And in fact (and this is slightly embarrassing, but hey, who doesn’t do it?!) it was only because I googled my own name today to see what would come up, that I found it. Which goes to show that googling yourself is a worthwhile thing to do.

So here it is – my flash fiction piece Free Iron, published by Everyday Fiction. Short and sweet, and slightly creepy.

This is the first time I’ve published through Everyday Fiction. For those who enjoy writing flash fiction, I would absolutely recommend sending stories through to them. Their readers put a lot of thought into their comments, and give helpful feedback, so that even if your story isn’t accepted you have some ideas about how to improve it. I’ve also had a lot of fun perusing their past publications – each story different, but same in one crucial way: they are short!



Shortcuts: Track 1

8 Sep

Throughout this year Paper Road Press has been publishing a series of novella sized e-books, one of which was my very own Pocket Wife. In November the full collection will be coming out in print, titled Shortcuts Track 1.

Meanwhile, it’s now available to pre-order. Pre-ordering is an excellent thing to do because (a) it’s a bit cheaper, and (b) there’s only going to be limited print run made – so get in quick and order your book! HERE!

Paper Road Press are also running two pre-order competitions. Either pre-order the book through Paper Road Press directly (that was the “HERE!” link above) or pre-order from Amazon and be in the draw to win a $50 book / Amazon voucher.


I can’t wait to get my own copy of this collection as I’m very eager to read the other stories, written by some of New Zealand’s best speculative fiction authors. I also think the cover art is fantastic, and am stoked to see the pile of legs beneath the “Madam Bellarina’s” sign – which are taken from my story.

And here’s the full collection that will be published in this book:

brees-dinosaur_cover-drafts ghost-of-matter_cover_med landfall_cover_2 mika_cover the-last_coverpocket-wife_cover_medium_web


Pocket Wife

30 Jun

I am extremely pleased to now be able to announce that my novella Pocket Wife is now available to purchase on-line as an e-book.

Published through Wellington’s indie Paper Road Press, it is the fourth edition of SHORTCUTS, a series of six locally-written novellas, coming out each month. You can buy mine at both Amazon and Kobo, or subscribe to get the whole the series for only $3.33 NZD per month.



Carl’s work requires him to travel extensively, but he and his wife Jenny stay connected through their Tinys – four-inch-tall replicas of themselves which, when turned on, transmit whatever sensory information they are receiving directly into their living counterparts’ minds. Through his Tiny, which Jenny keeps close beside her in Auckland, Carl can see his wife, speak to her, even feel her touch. But when Jenny’s Tiny malfunctions and she can’t turn herself off, Carl has a major problem. He’s having an affair, and he’d rather his wife wasn’t around.

And if that’s not enough to convince to go running (er, through the internet) to your nearest e-book emporium, why not read this  free excerpt?

I also want to make a shout out to the artist Irene González Frizzera for the awesome cover art. It’s kinda freaky, no?


I had a fisty cuff with my micro fiction

7 Jun

I have a love-hate relationship with micro fiction.

I am a sucker for the competitions. No matter what project I’m currently working on, or how important the project is to me, I will throw it aside in an instant (I couldn’t bring myself to say “in a flash”) to spend the day writing – and then filing down – a micro-fiction. I think this is mostly because I’m a shameful procrastinator. I’ll do the dishes, clean the toilet, water the plants, rearrange the cupboards, write lists, budgeterise, plan trips, (write blog entries…) – anything instead of actually sitting down to work on whatever project I’ve set for myself. So if a micro-fiction competition sidles into my peripheral vision I GRAB hold of it and yank it directly to the foreground. I can then happily procrastinate while convincing myself I’m honing my art.


The problem is, I’m not very good at writing them. I send them off, waving enthusiastically as they wander down the street all by themselves, and only a few weeks later I get the inevitable rejection letter.

So I decided (tonight – when I should, ahem, have been doing something more productive with my time) to figure out where I’m going wrong. To good ol’ Google I went, with my sincere question: “how to write good micro fiction?” I found contradicting advice, some dos and don’ts, some practical tips on keeping the word count low. I’ve chosen to use David Gaffney’s (author of Sawn-Off Tales) six simple instruction on how to write micro fiction, because they make intuitive sense to me.

You can read the full article by clicking on the link above, but in a nutshell he says: (1) Start in the middle; (2) Don’t use too many characters; (3) Make sure the ending isn’t at the end (ie avoid the twist/punch-line/“drum roll and cymbal crash” ending); (4) Pick a good title; (5) Choose an excellent last line that leaves the author thinking and even struggling to understand what the hell it’s all about; and (6) Write a longer story then cut it down.

Here is one of the three unsuccessful micro-fictions I recently submitted to Micro Madness, a national micro fiction competition running throughout June. It is exactly 100 words long.


It looked too small to be a boat, but it moved at a phenomenal speed. Brian watched it from the shoreline until he realised it was a huge fin. He took out his phone to get footage. Could even be a Great White.

It circled round and started heading towards the shore. Like it had noticed him. Brian smiled at himself, shook his head.

It kept coming. What was it doing? Trying to beach itself? Phone still in hand, Brian took a cautious step backwards.

As it hit in the sand, Brian turned to run. He only got three paces.

I’ll now go through David Gaffney’s steps one by one and see if I can improve this story.

(1) I believe that this story starts in the middle. I haven’t bothered explaining who Brian is, or why he’s walking on the beach. So I think it’s passed step #1.

(2) I only have one character.

(3) Oh dear… egg on my face. This story clearly ends at the end. Brian dies / is eaten by some weird oceanic creature. But this has got me wondering: do I stop the story before he is attacked? That would be boring, and would miss the point. The alternative is to carry on with the story after he’s been attacked. But as the story is told in a “close” third person point of view (that is, we see Brian’s thoughts) it seems impossible to carry on after he’s being eaten or at least horrifically dismembered. I’ll try writing it from an omniscient perspective and see if I can stretch it out further…

(4) I hate choosing titles (especially for flash fiction, when the title is arguably more important). I’m a very lazy title-creator. I’ll concede that the title isn’t that great. It probably leads people to believe the creature is in fact a shark.


(5) Since I have to change the ending (so it’s not the end) I’ll have to change the last line anyway.

(6) You know, with this story I didn’t actually twiddle it down much. Which probably means there’s more story I could have told.

Here is my second attempt. Since the guidelines specified the story had to be 100 words or less, I’ve maintained that restriction.

Over 1 million hits on YouTube

It looked too small to be a speedboat. Brian watched it from the shoreline until he realised it was an enormous fin. He took out his phone to get footage.

It circled round and started heading swiftly towards the shore. Phone still in hand, Brian took a step backwards.

Later, the police found what appeared to be hurried footsteps heading away from the shoreline and abruptly ceasing. The boy’s phone was found three days later, damaged beyond repair. A video went viral on YouTube, showing a great, angular beast erupting from the water. Critics dismissed it as an amateur prank.

Comments are most welcome! Here’s a link to the Micro Madness page – it’s worth checking out!