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wellness

My experience with Covid – a timeline

Monday May 2nd – Anna tested positive for Covid, I felt pretty good and okay for a few days. Anna slept in the spare room to minimise my chances of catching it, so she wouldn’t be coughing and breathing all over me all night. During the day we kept the doors open for ventilation and sat separately, I did all the cooking.

Thursday 5th (the last day I did a workout) – started to get a sore throat, and post-nasal drip which I attributed to hayfever. Being in isolation all week clicked my brain into shutdown mode, which wasn’t great for my mood all round. 

Friday 6th RAT negative

Finished the audiobook of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams 

Saturday 7th – definitely had a cold. Stuffed up nose, gunky throat and night sweats. RAT negative 

Sunday 8th, had a very miserable night, temperature up and down, sniffles and night sweat. RAT in the morning said I had Covid. The red test line turned up before the control line, and was so dark it looked black. Felt dopey and sniffly all day, two naps. Resolved to be the best covid patient ever and ditched my goals for the week/month and made my new goals: rest, hydrate and take the meds 

Monday 9th. The Covid moved into my chest officially. I was stuffed up in my nose, and my chest was tight and crackly. I coughed and I could feel the wheezing, so I started to use the respirin (ventolin equivalent) every couple of hours, napped, felt sorry for myself. 

Finished the ebook Natural Twenty by Charlie Novak 

Tuesday the 10th one of the GPs from the medical center I go to called up to check on me. He asked lots of good questions, and when he heard how often I was using the respirin he said that was more than he liked, and that he’d prescribe me a better inhaler. “Also, take more puffs of respirin if you need it. Let’s give your lungs a break”. Anna picked up the turbuhaler, cough medicine and some other meds. I was already in bed when Anna came home with them, the combination of two inhalers absolutely cleared my head. Otrivin cleared the nasal passages which also helped.

Wednesday 11th, I realised just how bad my breathing and coughing had been for the last two days because suddenly I could breathe and my head cleared up a bit. Bit scary in retrospect. I couldn’t really nap because as soon as I lay down I started coughing. 

Read Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto and Michael Arias

“So it turns out I have Covid worse than Anna. After a pretty okay first couple of days of feeling like I had a bad cold, it moved to my chest and made it pretty damn hard to breathe. I had a call from my GP to check in on me yesterday and when he heard how much I was using the respirin inhaler he said “Oh. You’re *quite* poorly, let’s get you something better.”

Anna picked me up the something better – a turbuhaler, and the difference I’ve noticed in the two times I’ve used it since then made me realise just how bad my breathing had been.

So that’s good! I didn’t sleep as much as I’d have liked last night because side sleeping is a NO or I cough, and it’s harder to fall asleep on my back. Plus, Mochi woke me up a couple of times to ask me to check her food bowl with her and she’s very face slappy if I don’t comply. BUT after a rough couple of days my head is clearer and I am feeling like I’m improving.

I’m at the downloading apps stage of illness, which is where the new profile photo came from. I also downloaded Klept2cats and two cute aesthetic games (Tsuki and Adorable Home). I’ve had naps every day since Saturday and I am very conscious of my fluids and the warmth of my chest. I’ve also finished reading a couple of books, which is great, even if the books weren’t that great.”

12th: I felt better enough that I didn’t need a nap in the afternoon. I did the washing (through the dryer not hanging things out) and even had the energy to clean the kitchen a bit after dinner.

Rested almost all day and went to bed early but there have been definite improvements. Still sniffly and a gross throat, but using the reliever inhaler a lot less and barely needed other meds today. Technically my last day of isolation but didn’t feel well enough to go out. 

Finished Recipe for a Kinder Life by Annie Smithers 

13th, 14th: Bad sleep. A lot of the time I was sick I had trouble sleeping, maybe due to the use of the steroid inhalers messing with heart rates, or just because my temperature was all up and down. Did a couple more chores. Focused on eating regularly, using meds when needed and staying hydrated. 

Read the Manga Classic version of Sense and Sensibility by Stacy King, Po Tse and Jane Austen and the first volume of Alice in Borderland by Haro Aso

15th: my first time out of the house in two weeks. Symptoms minimal except for sleepiness/brain fog. I did my normal Sunday morning streaming on youtube, filmed some tiktoks, tidied up a little, and then Anna drove us out to the mall and the Warehouse and I did some shopping at Kmart and Daiso. It was very empowering, to feel like part of the world again, but also surreal. I didn’t feel like I should be “allowed” out. I guess I thought a lot about how if I’d got sick in 2020 or 2021 I’d have been shut up in a hotel for at least two weeks, with Anna, and both of us worrying about Mochi because she’d not have been able to come with us. 

I did a bit more tidying and my head started to throb, and my heart pounded, so I stopped, and went to bed early, and focused on slow even breathing. 

Monday 16th: my cough came back, with a chest rattle/wheeze, brain fog and some dizziness, so I took all the meds and sat still under my warm blanket and watched movies for the whole day, in between naps.

17th: Felt a bit better again, head cleared of fog, but was still very sleepy. Started to feel really antsy, like I should be able to do more, be more productive, be well again by now. It was really scary to have a relapse like that. Rested most of the day. 

18th: had a really good 8+ hours of sleep and initially felt good when I got up but realised my breathing was laboured after making breakfast and my head felt stuffed. So rested all morning. I was determined to go to TimeOut books and pick up something they’d ordered in for me, so out I went. Had an appointment and came home for a chill evening. 

19 – 24th – rested, did just one or two things a day and generally felt okay 

Finished Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant and My Secret Admirer by Carol Ellis

24th: another resurgence of laboured breathing, and took a puff of reliever inhaler for the first time in a while. 

25th: evening out at the movies with Ellen! Saw the Princess Bride! Ensured we could use the lift out of the Academy cinema for my covid lungs and Ellen’s pregnant body. Survived! 

26th – 27th – doing one thing a day, resting most of the time, being very gentle with self. Battle with self : wanting to do all the things, write all the books, clean entire house, etc but knowing I can’t. Trying to tell myself to do just a little less than I’m capable of each day. But then I feel like I’m not doing enough, helping enough, house getting messier, etc etc. Frustrating. 

Finished the Waitress by Sinclair Smith

28th: woke up with a scratchy throat, but did my youtube streams, tidied house some, swept up leaves in front yard, and then had 11 people over for Eurovision. I didn’t drink alcohol, but it was an energetic evening of shouting and laughing and exclaiming over yellow wolves. It wasn’t a late night but it did drain me more than I’d ever had before from a Eurovision viewing party. 

29th: restful day except streams, and laundry, and a trip out to the mall and supermarket. Getting a lot colder as Winter comes on. When it came time to sleep, I started coughing and really had trouble stopping. I could hear my chest rattling, took all the meds, and had a little breakdown over “what if this is just my life now and I never have my energy levels back again?” Huge props to Anna for comforting me and talking me through this, and assuring me that whatever happens, we’ll get through it together. Decision made to go see my Dr and ask for the second covid booster. 

30th: bad night’s sleep. Official ‘sick day’ with coughing, laboured breathing and head fuzz, stayed in PJs, lots of naps and feeling sorry for myself. 

31st May: a better sleep, breathing much improved, not coughing as much but felt absolutely exhausted. Big achievement of the day was to make a Hello Fresh dinner, and I was absolutely shattered after that. Had a bath and went to bed early. Anna and I decided that I should basically go into isolation and stay at home doing nothing until Armageddon weekend. 

Read Good Talk by Mira Jacob 

1 June: restful day, although I started coughing when I went for a nap, which just feels so freaking unfair, so I just read in bed instead of sleeping. Concentration was really lacking, so tired.

2nd: made Anna drive me to chemist warehouse for Codral nighttime so I could start getting better night’s sleep. Also picked up books from the library (woops, was meant to be on house arrest welp). Nap.

3rd: did a couple of errands for Anna while they were at school working. Started watching Gilmore Girls. We went to the mall in the evening for a couple of things, had a fantastic sleep thanks to codral night time. 

4th – 6th: pretty okay, managed to rest a lot, get some stuff done and made progress on a few products. Although on the 6th I had a meltdown over making dinner because the brain fog took over and I couldn’t understand the instructions. I could tell I wasn’t processing things the way I used to, I can feel the lack. Terrifying. I get frightened and then I stress myself out over being frightened, which I feel guilty about because I should be resting and staying as calm as possible. Vicious circle, that one. 

Finished In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

7th June – helped out with Anna packing up Grandma’s apartment (she’s moved to a rest home). Picked up some supplies for armageddon at Warehouse Stationery and Daiso, got bubble tea. Felt okay but very sleepy. 

8th – epic 9 hour sleep! Spent day sorting things for Armageddon, had message from author we were sharing the table with that their house was in iso, so some stressful hours finding cover, organising times for picking up books, when people could come and cover, getting them passes, etc etc. Had people over for writing club in the evening. 

9th: chill TV day and nap, absolutely nothing else

10th: slept badly, felt wiped, but had Things To Do. Picked up books from other author, printed stuff at Warehouse Stationery, hit the chemist warehouse, packed up my car with all our stuff, nap, then out to ASB showgrounds where the drop off point was unclear and we were confused about things (stressful), but managed to get the booth set up in time. Met helpful friends, brought them to our booth and gave them the run down of all the things, had a lovely 3 hours of Armageddon with friendly people and some sales. 

11th and 12th = Armageddon weekend. BIG. Talked to lots and lots of people, sold books, soaps, Snail Mail Paper Tales. Came home for a nap Sat afternoon then went back in for Sat night. Absolutely shattered by Sunday evening, crashed out with KFC with helpful friends at our place, went to bed early. 

13th slept pretty deeply but Mochi was disruptive. Rest day. Napped, journaled, read my book 

14th: woke up feeling great, which I DIDN’T expect at all. Was energetic so I packed up some things to sell, and went out to Mt Eden to post them and pick up some more books at Timeout. Celebrating my success of the weekend is my excuse. Stomach issues – possibly a covid symptom flaring up, possibly just from various foods, or the stress of the weekend making itself known. Nap, did some cleaning up. 

15th: went into an office for the first time in forever, took a RAT and was relieved it was negative, and spent the day coordinating my old team in a Big Room Planning meeting. Noticed that I was having trouble processing stuff, it was taking me longer than usual to do things or to understand, and it was stuff I knew I used to know, which was quite distressing. I got very aggressively tired mid afternoon, so was happy when the team got to a place where we could leave it off and I could drive home and sleep. Bath and early to bed. 

16th: second day of BRP but remote working this time which was a lot more manageable for me, still very tired at the end of it though.

Finished reading I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston 

17th – 18th:  some little jobs, lots of rest, then decided that my whole office needs a clear out so started moving all the random boxes, etc out into the lounge to sort through and reorganise. 

Finished reading Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

19th: woke full of energy and feeling GREAT, did a bunch of sorting out, tidying, cleaning, had a good breakfast, did my writing stream and made some good progress on WIP. Friends dropped by, had chats, catch ups, Mario Kart and watched Speed Racer 

20th: another day waking up full of energy! I did a little sewing, first time in a long time, and made mask holder strings for Anna and myself. Then we drove down to Manaukau to get things to organise my office: new shelves, a three tier trolley, collapsible plastic crates for storing my books, then we took lunch to Anna’s mum at Grandma’s old flat and helped out there for a bit. Brief bit of rest before going out and catching up with a visiting Wellington friend at Tanuki’s Cave. 

21st: pretty chill, sorting office, etc 

22nd: did washing, felt okay, it hadn’t rained for a while so I mowed the lawn. It was overdue, the grass was very long indeed. Mindful of my energy, I did the front part of the lawn, and then came in for a break and launch, before doing the rest of the mowing.  After this I got very sleepy and fell asleep on the couch. I went to bed early and slept almost 9 hours, although it was hard to fall asleep. Had a meltdown over being overtired.  

23rd: took it very easy indeed. Sleeping 9 hours and needing to take it easy was my first hint that mowing the lawn might have been Too Much. Chill day of rest and TV. 

24th and our first public holiday for Matariki. Slept in, took it easy with TV and friend dropping by for a cup of tea. Had a nap, felt tired out. 

Finished reading You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. 

25th: did my sprints, felt good about that. Headed out to the Sylvia Park mall on some errands, it was very busy, and draining. Had a nap. Friends came around and we watched the new Dr Strange movie which was lovely. 

26th: overslept, which wouldn’t have been a problem for a Sunday except we were meeting Anna’s family for brunch. I had the deep, intense sleep of being sick again. We did get to brunch just about on time, which was fine, but it was weirdly taxing. The covid exhaustion, from doing too much was well and truly back. We managed to hit SaveMart after. When we got home I managed to weed a little of the vege patch to make some space for my beetroot seedlings. Mochi came and meowed at me, led me inside and to bed. I took her advice, finished off my wedding and had a rest in bed. I had started to feel ill, as in nauseous and not wanting food. Decision to refocus on the basics: rest, hydration and eating regularly, taking meds when needed. 

27th: restarted my old job, on a temporary basis and for 16 hours a week remotely.  Felt alright enough after to go do some shopping and errands with Anna. Was quite wiped out after all that so rested for the rest of the day. 

Finished reading the second volume of the Fangirl manga by Rainbow Rowell

28th: Full rest day, aside from one thing: put my beetroot seedlings into the vegetable patch. It was pretty straight forward and the rest of the day was napping, reading and watching Gilmore Girls. 

29th: some work time, rested, then went out for a counselling appointment and got the advice to slow down and be careful with myself. Which I knew I should be doing but sometimes it’s nice to hear from someone else as well. Had writing club in the evening, which was very nice, but I was firm about kicking people out at 9 so I could get to bed. 

30th: Mochi was very noisy and disruptive to my sleep so I didn’t rest well and got another stomach upset. Had a good day remotely working. After that I was exhausted again, so I had a sleep before dinner. 

1st July: I had to get up early to go to the root canal specialist and get the first stage of my root canal completed. It went alright although I had to go and get a full jaw scan after in case there’s more complicated things going on. Came home and had a big nap to sleep off the local anaesthetic and felt better afterwards. Chill out afternoon but got some writing done in front of the TV. 

2nd July: changed some things around to make Mochi happy at night and as a result had the best sleep ever. Had a very good writing day, writing a short story first long hand and then typing it up during my morning writing streams. Feeling a bit better, mind fogginess of the last few days definitely had cleared up.

fiction, writing

Campfire Tales worth writing about

I have a story in a new charity anthology!

Campfire Tales Worth Writing About is the newest edition in the Worth Writing About series which features short fiction and other bits and pieces around a theme.
Each sale’s profits go to a charity and this month’s charity is The Abortion Access Fund

My story, Which Tree, is a little weird modern bardic tale inspired by the tabletop roleplaying game Sleepaway.

I wrote it quickly, inspired by an incident in the game of Sleepaway I played the year before last. It has some gender diverse characters and something living in a tree. I wrote it longhand first up and typed it up within a few hours, which was a pretty fun and breezy way to write. I’ve been enjoying writing short fiction to prompts and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to share more little publications like this with you soon!

If you want to capture the feeling of sitting around a campfire and telling stories, this is the collection for you. Buy now

fiction, Writers

Pride Month Reading List of local authors part 2

Double Exposure (Pōneke Shadows Book 1) by Anne Barwell
MM urban fantasy

Vampires and werewolves live long lives. The Sleepless City saga might have ended but the story continues… Someone is hunting supernaturals. Vampire Simon Hawthorne and his human partner Ben Leyton’s plans for a peaceful holiday with family are hijacked by the New Zealand Supernatural Council. Tensions are on the rise in Wellington. Supernatural councillors are disappearing. Werewolves are suspicious of anyone human or vampire. If they don’t work together, their enemy has already won. And no one with a connection to the supernatural world is safe.


Foxhunt by Rem Wigmore
Sci-fi with a bi protagonist and all-queer cast

Orfeus the musician is searching for hope in the heart of danger…

In a lush solarpunk future, plants have stripped most of the poison from the air and bounty hunters keep resource hoarders in check. Orfeus only wants to be a travelling singer, famed and adored. She has her share of secrets, but she’s no energy criminal, so why does a bounty hunter want her dead? Not just any bounty hunter but the Wolf, most fearsome of all the Order of the Vengeful Wild. Orfeus will call in every favor she has to find out, seeking answers while clinging to her pride and fending off the hunters of the Wild. But she isn’t the only one at risk: every misstep endangers the enemies she turns into allies, and the allies she brings into danger. There are worse monsters than the Wolf hiding in this new green world.


Overdues and Occultism by Jamie Sands
MM urban fantasy, novella

A witch in the broom closet probably shouldn’t be so interested in a ghost hunter, right?

That Basil is a librarian comes as no surprise to his Mt Eden community.
That he’s a witch?
Yeah.

That might raise more than a few eyebrows.

When Sebastian, a paranormal investigator filming a web series starts snooping around Basil’s library, he stirs up more than just Basil’s heart. Between Basil’s own self-doubt, a ghost who steals books and Sebastian, an enthusiastic extrovert bent on uncovering secrets, Basil’s life is about to get a lot more complicated.


Caught (Smoke and Shadows 1) by Naomi Aoki
MM Yakuza dark romance

Available: Amazon, Kobo, Apple, B&N, coming to Google Play soon!
Love can be dark. It can be dangerous, deadly, and tainted.

Chocolate and roses? They weren’t the romantic sentiments expected of those who walked in this world of smoke and shadows. Takeshi Matsumoto didn’t need them… didn’t want them from the man he loved. But he didn’t expect the explosions or the attempts on his life, either. It wasn’t as though Yoshitake had gifted him with those life-threatening events, not when there were plenty of men already within the Shirokawa-gumi eager to get rid of him.

Men who wanted the power that came with being the Head of the Shirokawa-gumi.

Except he was the rightful heir… because he was Takeshi Matsumoto, Fifth Generation Head of the Shirokawa-gumi.

Securing his birthright wasn’t going to be easy, but Takeshi had been trained for this… planned for this… and he wouldn’t hesitate to kill for it.

But the problem was… Takeshi couldn’t trust anyone. Not even the man who shared his bed.

Caught (Smoke and Shadows 1) is a 56k approx. Dark MM Yakuza Romance that involves the twisted love of a yakuza heir and his older bodyguard.


Moonrite by Deonne Dane
MM high fantasy

The son of a Voce healer and a Dracan warrior, Falric Mislan has always questioned where he belongs.


While obligation, the easy companionship of his peers and the unswerving loyalty of his best friend has kept him grounded in his father’s culture, the alluring magic of his mother’s people inexorably calls to him.
Two rites stand between Falric and his fate. One, a simple, but unfamiliar ceremony that will awaken his Voce powers. The other, the Moon of Solitude. But when Falric uncovers a dangerous object, death and vengeance threaten his place and his future. Secrets abound and more than loyalties will be tested.

*Moon Rite is the first book in the Legend of the Ancients series. The books of Locurnia are LGBTQ inclusive and contain explicit material. This series is intended for adults 18 and over.

#Epicfantasy #Otherworld #Riteofpassage #Actionadventure #Magictalisman #Highheat #Romanticelements


Family Ties & Rainbow Bonds by Heather Sylvawood

Over last century the social mores against gays and lesbians forced many of them into secret relationships and exposed them to threats and phyiscal violence. Even as the century came to a close these risks still existed. Family Ties and Rainbow Bonds is set against the conflict of love on both sides of the fence.


Growing up with a strictly heterosexual father, Poppie, young Georgie struggles to find her true identity among her six brothers, including the extroverted pianist Claudios. Always a step behind in the family intrigues, Georgie doesn’t realise how the sons and daughters-in-law sort life so that they can benefit from their mother’s and father’s successful business venture in Christchurch. When Georgie falls for a teenage girl she meets at the family camping ground in Hanmer Springs, New Zealand, Georgie’s life begins to change. Then there’s the realisation that brother Claudios and his ‘flatmate’ walk to the same drum as Georgie does. Each has their own coming out story that they share as Georgie joins the Rainbow Family.
Georgie moves into the political activity that emerged in New Zealand in the early 1980s, at a time when enlightened New Zealanders are working towards the repeal of anti-homosexual law in New Zealand, a time when the good and bad of people on both sides of the debate are exposed. Family Ties and Rainbow Bonds explores the tensions of the time and how love can tie and release the truth of being who you really are.


The Other Side of the Mirror by Jamie Sands
Lesbian and non-binary urban fantasy mystery

The case: a grandmother who vanished from a locked room.
The best lead: a psychic who’s as mysterious as she is cute.

Detective Jack Duarte is the one called upon when weird cases hit Auckland. A fierce loner with a reputation for solving the unsolvable, she is the perfect choice for the latest odd mystery: the locked-room disappearance of a beloved grandmother, who has vanished without trace and, seemingly, without suspects or a motive.

This time around, though, Jack has also been assigned a partner. The fresh young detective Piper, who has transferred in with a difficult history, is determined to prove themself. Smart, perky, and inexperienced. They are exactly the kind of partner Jack manages to scare away. As they dig deeper into the mystery, though, Jack has to put her own reluctance in the back seat and help Piper navigate a whole different world — because the beloved grandmother has her own mysterious past, one that has already cost lives… and souls.

With the help of the enigmatic and beautiful psychic Emmaline, Jack and Piper must confront the strange world on the other side of the mirror. Some mysteries can only be solved with magic!

fiction, Writers, writing

Pride Month reading list – local authors

In honour of Pride here’s a selection of books from Kiwi authors featuring an array of rainbow characters – purchase links in the titles and covers. A couple are preorders at the time of publishing, and some are on sale for the month of June 2022.

The Last God (preorder) by Gillian St Kevern
MM high fantasy
Kel, a former prince turned gravedigger, serves the Unknown God. Bitter about the gods’ neglect of their people, Kel’s limited patience with the divine is tested when his former lover, now a famous general, shows up in the tiny town of Farport. Done with being the gods’ plaything, Kel quits the priesthood—only to discover that the unknown god has plans for him and his ex.

Iscar’s shocked to discover that the prince who was too good for a lowly soldier now follows the god of outcasts. He’s even more shocked when the unknown god declares himself to be War and claims Kel as his high-priest. Having experienced all war’s horrors, Iscar is determined to free Kel from the god, escorting him to Celestial City in an attempt to win Kel away.

Kel fights his attraction to Iscar and struggles with his duty to his god. Iscar’s belief that the gods are just, and reward those who are deserving, is challenged by their journey. His allegiance is no longer to the gods, but to his love. But Kel, consumed by doubt, cannot see what a man—or a god—would want in him.


Rival Princes by Jaxon Knight
MM contemporary romantic comedy

There are three golden rules for new recruits at Fairyland Theme Park:

1. No breaking character, even if you’re dying of heat exhaustion
2. Always give guests the most magical time
3. No falling in love.

Nate’s only been at work one day, and he’s already broken all three.

Fast-tracked into a Prince role, Nate’s at odds with Dash, the handsome not-so-charming prince who is supposed to be training him. Nate doesn’t know how he ended up on Dash’s bad side, but the broody prince sure is hot when he gets mad.

Dash has worked long and hard to play Prince Justice at Fairyland. Now, instead of focusing on his own performance, he is forced to train newbie Nate to be the perfect prince. Nate’s annoying ease with the guests coupled with his charm and good looks could dethrone Dash from his number one spot … so why does he secretly want to kiss him?

Fairyland heats up as sparks fly between the two rival princes. Will they get their fairytale romance before they’re kicked out of Fairyland for good? Find out in this standalone MM contemporary romance by Jaxon Knight, set in an amusement park where fairytales can come true.

How to Get a Girlfriend (When You’re a Terrifying Monster) (preorder), by Marie Cardno – FF/ sapphic monster romance

Trillin isn’t technically a person. She’s a tiny breakaway piece of consciousness from the all-devouring Endless, doomed to eventually rejoin it. But when a human witch stumbles into her world, Trillin suddenly has a new reason to figure out individuality–one shape-shifting tentacle at a time.

Sian is sure important magical discoveries are just around the corner, if she can just get her portals to work reliably. Reaching the dimension of the Endless without being eaten on sight is a dream come true, and Sian is determined to explore every bit of it. For science, of course, not for the strangely adorable life-form who keeps popping up and trying to… flirt?

But Trillin’s world can be a dangerous place, and keeping Sian safe might risk drawing the attention of the Endless itself–which will swallow Trillin up along with all her dreams of humanity. Together, can this unlikely duo escape the Endless, figure out the optimum number of appendages, and maybe even find love?


Ten Acceptable Acts of Arson and other very short stories by Jack Remiel Cottrell
Everyone is queer litfic

here are many messages in this book: Never go drinking using your passport for ID. Make sure to apply lidocaine before ripping out your toenails. Magic might be real, but it never fixes the worst of your problems. Try to fall in love with bastards. You or someone you know may be gayer than previously thought. We’re not going to make it to Mars. A locked psychiatric ward needs more books than a single copy of Jane Eyre. Asking time travellers for advice on your exams is considered cheating. It’s not just human houses that become haunted. The key message is this: Life in the early 21st century is often very strange. So are these stories. With a crisp insouciance and gliding charm, Jack Cottrell’s fiery, fey, finely-tuned fictions leap from sci-fi to fantasy, comedy to horror, literary realism to romance, and to hybrids of all of these. Featuring sport, friendship, love, health, family, climate change, artificial intelligence, desire, magic, Greek gods, ghosts, peanut butter, cyber pranks, racial prejudice, and creepy medical advances, his stories play with the allure of the past, the disturbances of our own times, and the dangerous idealism of our future technologies – each one in fewer than 300 words.


Sanctuary by Andi C Buchanan
F/NB

The once-grand, now dilapidated old house they live in has become a refuge for their found family—Morgan’s partner Araminta, an artist with excellent dress sense; Theo, a ten-year-old with an excess of energy; quiet telekinesthetic pensioner Denny—as well as the ghosts who live alongside them. All people who once needed sanctuary for their queer, neurodivergent selves.

Now they offer that safety to the dead as well as the living.

When a collection of ghosts trapped in old bottles are delivered to their door, something from the past is unleashed. A man who once collected ghosts – a man who should have died centuries before – suddenly has the house under his control. Morgan must trust their own abilities, and their hard-won sense of self, to save their home, their family, and the woman they love.


A Gap in the Veil by Samantha Schenk
MM urban fantasy

As a mechanic, Greg can fix just about anything—except his broken heart. He finds solace in witchcraft, solving problems for ghosts instead of looking closer to home.

When a visiting musician dials up the charm after a gig in town, Greg’s life looks to be taking a turn for the better. His plans to keep things simple between them are complicated by the awakening of a spirit bent on corruption. Greg must make choices between moving on or taking the fight to a whole new level and save Wellington from a past it had almost forgotten.


Pride Month sale titles by Noami Aoki
MMF, MMM and Bi


Dark Attraction by Drake LaMarque
MM vampire romance

Brand: A pansexual college surfer dude looking for love in all the wrong places
Gage: A mysterious goth with something to hide who will do anything to keep what’s his

When they meet at a party, there’s an instant attraction but between Gage’s dominant hunger and Brand’s need to submit to him… the fire may be all-consuming.

an MM vampire/human romance featuring lots of spice – start of a series!


Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell
MM contemporary romance

Joel is a music teacher who knows it’s time to forget his ex and move on, while Marcus runs a lawn-mowing business and has come to Wellington to escape the reminders of a recent breakup. Although they’re opposites, when Joel and Marcus connect, their romance has the potential to hit all the right notes.

Too bad neither of them feels ready for new love.

With family and friends in common, dating is risky and things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. When the sweet song of possibility draws them towards romance, a Chopin prelude ends in a seductive kiss. But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony…

Author’s note: This is the second edition of Prelude to Love. The first edition was released by another publishing house. This edition has some added content, and has been revised and re-edited with the end result being a better, stronger story. It uses New Zealand spelling to reflect its setting.

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5 ways to rest

I’ve been in my house on Covid lockdown for two weeks. First Anna tested positive and then after a few days of looking after them, and sleeping in separate rooms, I started to feel like I had cold symptoms. I tested negative with a RAT two days before the third one came in positive.

It’s the first time I’ve been sick with a cold/flu since early 2020, but most of my tips and tricks for caring for a cold had been revisited already for looking after Anna. Anna’s covid case was thankfully relatively mild, mine wasn’t so much. It moved into my chest after two days and breathing started to be pretty difficult. Thankfully I had proactive advice from my doctor’s office and had a turbuhaler prescribed, which Anna was well enough to go and collect for me. This is all context for the meat of this post, which is that I have had an entire week of careful rest, so as to get better and to avoid Long Covid if I can.

A lot of my friends have expressed a difficulty with giving themselves time to rest, and then when they do have time, not knowing how to approach it. I get it, there’s always other things we could be doing. Chores, side-hustles, catching up on the ever-present to do list and so on. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t rest. So, here’s some of the things I do which allow my body and my mind to let go of all the ‘should’s and just rest.

  1. Sit and read. Best on a comfy chair with a soft, warm blanket and a cup of something hot – tea, coffee, hot chocolate, whatever you prefer, and a nice snack. If it feels too hard to give yourself the time to read, you can timebox it – just 30 minutes. You can spare that much, and if at the end of the 30 mins you want to keep reading, do it.
  2. Video games. I bought Mario Kart as soon as Anna tested positive, basically. We both have Nintendo Switches and this has been a great game for us to learn and play together, trying out the different characters and vehicles and just having a little fun. It engages the mind but it’s not taxing, and your body is resting. Plus, laughter is healing!
  3. Comfort watching. Now this could be old movies that you’ve loved in the past (I hit up Moulin Rouge and Titanic lately), it could be a beloved show that you’ve seen a thousand times before or it could be aesthetically pleasing Youtubers. Anna and I have watched an awful lot of Study for Success this week – it’s so beautiful to look at, and who doesn’t love to gaze at stationery?

5. Go take a nap. Here’s my trick with napping. I don’t stress about actually sleeping. I get comfortable, I make sure I’m warm in bed, and I put on something soothing to listen to. Maybe it’s my favourite acoustic album (Alt-J an Awesome Wave), or maybe it’s a podcast that I’ve heard before (Welcome to Night Vale, or Overdue are good options for me, personally). Then I close my eyes and just listen, and if I drift off well, that’s great, but if not, I’ve given my body some downtime.

That’s just 5 of the things I do to ensure I’m getting rest, and this last week I’ve been doing them all a lot. I hope it helped!

What do you do to rest?