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.

Writers, writing

YA novel Onesies and Ouijaboards out now!

Onesies and Ouijaboards

I’ve returned to the world of Young Adult novels!

Onesies and Ouijaboards is a spin off from my Mt Eden Witches series – involving Basil the library witch from Overdues and Occultism and Monsters and Manuscripts. It’s a standalone novel, and you don’t have to have read the other two before this one, but you’ll get a better idea of the world if you do.

So, why did I write another Young Adult novel after all this time?

Honestly, it was because teenagers asked for it. Not like, by spamming my socials or anything, but over the last 16 months or so I’ve been to a few book fairs (not as many as were planned, due to Covid and restrictions), but I’ve learned a bit. I’ve had a lot of varied teens look at the covers to my Witchy Fiction books and been really interested, but then a few of them have asked if there’s romance in them, and been disappointed when the answer was yes. This happened a handful of times, which isn’t a huge survey at all, but it showed that there was a gap in the market.

So I went ahead and wrote Onesies with the plan of including no romance at all. It’s also my first book with a non-binary solo main character. Arrow came to me at the end of Overdues and Occultism – a grumpy, emo teen who came into the library with their family.

The book was delightful to write. Arrow was firm in my mind as a person who loved fantasy and wanted something more, and the events of Monsters and Manuscripts opened up the perfect opportunity for their story.

This book is going to be available over a lot of ebook platforms, although just for the moment it’s only on Amazon, but watch out for it in the next few days.

Gorgeous cover by Jacqueline Sweet

Be careful what you wish for…

Arrow is fifteen, non-binary, and bored.

It’s one thing to read about magic, or watch ghost hunting shows. But Arrow yearns for something more. When they try out a prosperity spell from a magical library book, things start to go very very right.

Until they don’t.

Arrow’s good luck seems to be affecting a lot of the people around them. From A students suddenly failing quizzes to freak accidents, their good luck seems to be double-sided to say the least. Arrow’s best friend Ren knows not to mess with the unknown, but Arrow’s spell might just affect him all the same.

Arrow’s got to learn about how to wield their magic fast when the power they’ve drawn down proves to be beautiful, but dangerous as well.
***

Onesies and Ouijaboards is a young adult novella spinoff of the popular Mt Eden Witches series. There is no romance, but there are tarot cards, best friends, ghosts and bubble tea

Buy it now!

Uncategorized

This Unusual Life!

Here’s my latest publication. It started as a patreon project, and now it’s a book!

It’s a little bit spooky
It’s a little bit odd
It’s a little bit silly
Even when it’s not

I’ve found it very hard to articulate exactly what this book is – it’s a short story collection, but it’s in the format of a collection of clippings from a gossip magazine from another universe.

It includes gossip about the Royals, who are a family of homicidal fey. Personality quizzes, Horoscopes and letters to the psychic Agony Aunt Cressida Flittersocks. Plus special interest pieces about tweens manifesting superpowers and an expose about family portrait attacks as well as lots more.

In short, it’s what happens when I let my imagine run wild. There’s some horror, some comedy, some pure nonsense and something to make you think. I love it, personally, and I’m sure people who share my love for silliness will enjoy it as well.

Some of the questions to the agony aunts were submitted my users and friends and my dear friend Ellen was an invaluable sounding board throughout the project.

Grab an ebook of This Unusual Life now!

Uncategorized

The All About YA Podcast

I’m lucky enough to have been invited to sponsor the All About YA Podcast episode two. In this podcast the brilliant authors Mariëlle and Ashley, talk about writing for the Young Adult market and reading YA books too.

They’re just starting out, but they really know their stuff. This episode is largely about the definition of Young Adult fic – is it a genre? is it a category? what are the common threads?

I really enjoyed the listen and I recommend you give them a listen 🙂

Watch on youtube

Check them out on facebook

Uncategorized

Summer Writers Series: an interview with Lee Murray Pt 1

This is the latest in a series of Guest Posts where I’ve posed some deeply serious questions to some awesome writers who probably deserve better. My questions are in bold. 

[This is in two parts because Lee answered everything in the long damn quiz, and she did it beautifully. ]

Who are you and what have you done with the Real Lee Murray?

The real Lee Murray is currently serving a 25-year prison term for masterminding a £53-million armed raid. I’m the other Lee Murray, the writer. I’m also a short, half-Chinese, 3rd generation New Zealander, a mother, wife, dog owner, scientist, tea drinker, anxiety-sufferer and former marathon runner. I believe in reading, vaccination, family holidays, cheesecake, tolerance, and kindness. Especially kindness. And right now, looking at this 30-question interview, I should probably add terrified to that list.

If you had to describe yourself in terms of a soft drink, which would you be and why?

A Diet Coke. Because my writing is dark and sugarless.

Harry Potter world: what house are you? And what animal would be your patronus?

Ravenclaw all the way! Apparently, like Cho Chang, my patronus is a swan—I took a test. The Results: You may be quiet, but that doesn’t mean you’re antisocial. Constantly surrounded by a group of friends, you can always count on them to act as a support system in times of emotional distress. Keep your head up and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Do your best not to dwell on the past: the future is bright. [Fingers crossed]

Are you a Think Everything Through Before Acting person or a Great Idea Let’s Try It! Person?

The latter mostly, although not when it comes to moving house. On moving day, I have all the boxes packed and ready to go before the movers arrive.

What got you into writing?

I don’t really know. I’ve always been a scribbler, a prehistoric blogger before they were a thing. Encouraged firstly by my dad, and later by various teachers and mentors, it was always on my mind to write, but it wasn’t until my children were small, and I was at home during their naptimes, that I made a conscious effort to ‘become’ a writer. Completing some masters papers in creative writing at Northtec along with a couple of unfinished novels which had been sitting in boxes. Then, a decade ago, on the advice of a colleague, I started to call myself a writer, and even wrote ‘writer’ against my occupation on my passport, which made it more real somehow.

Why do you write now?

Right now because I have two book contracts to fulfil!

The real reason is because I’m a full-time writer and editor. It’s my job, albeit a poorly paid one. I don’t write simply because I love it. Yes, I do love it, but it annoys me when people say, ‘writers write because they love it’, or ‘we write because we have to’. While those statements are true, they also imply that loving our work should be sufficient recompense, that it makes up for earning pin money. If your lawyer enjoys his work, is it okay not to pay him? What if your plumber whistles while he fixes your sink? Does anyone ask lawyers and plumbers why they do the work they do? [Whoops! She tumbles from the soapbox.]

Reading: What’s the earliest story you can remember reading and loving?

The earliest story? Seven Little Postmen. Sam the Fireman. Angelo the Naughty One. Ferdinand the Bull. Grimm’s Fairy tales. The story from my childhood which resonates for me the most is Horton Hatches the Egg. So many fond memories of bedtimes when Dad would read this to my brother and me. He was so great at doing the voices—I can still hear them in my head, and it’s important because he suffers from Alzheimer’s and is non-verbal now. We used to chime in when he read the mantra: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, and an elephant’s faithful, 100%”. It’s a saying that sticks with you. And quite apart from the fact that it can be handy to know something about percentages when your royalty cheque comes in, it’s a mantra I’ve tried to live by.

What’s a book you remember reading as a teenager and absolutely loving?

Hmm. My middle grade and early teen years were a bit of a bonanza for classic texts. Here is a selected, and highly-abbreviated, bibliography: The complete CS Lewis series, Peter Pan, Call of the Wild, The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, The Hobbit, The Owl Service, Children of the Poor by John A Lee, A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Lord of the Rings (12) The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Mother by Pearl Buck (13), The Diary of Anne Frank….The Illiad. Our family used to go to the library every Friday evening and each of us kids (there were four of us) were allowed to bring home twenty books. Twenty! I read everything I could get my hands on, loved everything.

What are you reading right now?

[opens kindle and checks the titles still in progress]. A non-fiction title on poetry, The Witchhunt by Lori R Lopez (an author preview copy), The Strangers by Michaelbrent Collings, Dracula’s Revenge by Charles R, Rutledge, Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun. On audiobook: Alter by Jeremy Robinson. I also have some awards reading still to do.

What’s a book that you have on your shelf that you think might surprise people?

Extremely Embarrassing Dad Jokes: Because Dads don’t know when to stop, by Ian Allen. Surprise! It was my husband’s Christmas present and somehow it has ended up in the office bookshelf.

What book would you like everyone to read?

Preferably one of mine. 😊 Or, failing that, a book by one of our fabulously talented New Zealand speculative fiction writers. Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands is an excellent read, for example. Read New Zealand works, books written by women, by LGBTQ writers… read widely, read often, read any book that you like, just please, please, if you can, leave a review because it makes a huge difference to the author.

Are you a stop reading at the end of the chapter, mid chapter, or just whenever reader?

Stop reading? What is this thing?

Can you name some formative books for your own writing?

I’m always striving to learn new things. Right now, I’m dipping into non-fiction ebooks on screenwriting, on poetry, and on creating suspense. I’m particularly enjoying It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life (Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson eds), a collection of essays and articles on writing from working writers, many of them my colleagues from the horror community.

How do you organise your personal library? (alphabetical, dewey decimal, what’s your system?)

I squeeze them into the bookcase wherever I can find a space big enough. To be honest, I was forced to cull a few books when we moved a couple of years ago. It was such a painful experience that I am trying to be more discerning about purchasing print books. Now, my rule is to only purchase books with an author’s signature. Oh look over there…. a bookshop!

Tune in soon for the second half of the interview…

___

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows). Her works include the Taine McKenna adventure series, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (co-written with Dan Rabarts). She is also the editor of ten dark fiction anthologies, the latest being Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenalin Press). Lee lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

Goodreads

Lee’s Website
Twitter