Writing Sprint Live Streams

A few weeks ago, local author and excellent friend Gillian St Kevern contacted me about trying something new. She asked if I’d like to be a co-host on her Youtube writing livestreams. I said yes after considering for maybe two (2) seconds.

Why did I agree so quickly? Well, I’ve been struggling a little lately with motivating myself to write, and this felt like the kick in the pants I might need to get my day’s word count up from 1000 words or so.

It turns out the peer pressure of knowing people are watching/listening to my typing sounds, and perhaps just the structure of someone telling me to sprint again, right now really works for me. We’ve been doing two hour sessions, often getting four sprints in each time along with some gentle chats and interaction with viewers in the comments.

At the moment we’re doing Saturday and Sundays 10am NZ time but in the next month or so we’re going to try and change it up, maybe add some evenings, midweek or try for two different streams in one day.

If you do anything creative and would like some motivation, I highly recommend you join us. You don’t have to comment, although we do like to talk to people – and there’s no pressure to stay through the whole session.

Plus you get to see me fussing with my hair, showing off Mochi and pulling weird expressions to match what I’m writing. Sound like fun? Come follow the channel here.

I might also start doing some more with my own Youtube channel as well, but that’s very much a work in progress, so I’ll let you know when/if that happens.


Guest writers series: an interview with Rem Wigmore

Welcome to Rem Wigmore, a SpecFic NZ friend who has a brand new book on preorder…

Where in the world do you live, and what do you like most about it? 

I live in Wellington, Te Whanganui-a-Tara. My first novel, The Wind City, is a love-song to this city, and I still love it but in a more bitter kind of way; the shine’s worn off after living for several years in cold, damp houses. What I love is the wind, and that this harbour is a place where the ocean and the city and the forest all meet, nestled in hills.

Self-care is very important for writers, tell us how you look after yourself?

Less well than I should, but it’s a steady climb! My main effort is actually taking days off – yes, even from writing. Yes, even though I love it. This isn’t something everyone has the luxury of, but I do recommend it where possible. I’ve struggled with burnout and it’s no fun.

What genres do you like to read in? 

I’m a real gremlin for speculative fiction – fantasy’s my first love, but I also devour sci-fi and sometimes historical fiction. Romance in any of these genres is also wonderful. Sometimes I’ll read some contemporary Young Adult, especially about queer characters.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling! I was so happy the library had it. Lately I’ve been making something of a study of horror and especially Gothics – just before this I finally got around to reading Carmilla, which I could’ve sworn I did years ago. So I guess a lot of sapphic horror all in all!

Can you name some formative books for your own writing?

The Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss was a massive influence on my sixteen-year-old self: it was that first eye-opening experience of, ‘oh we’re allowed to do this?’ and started me writing seriously. I figured if I could write something even a quarter as beautiful I’d be happy. I had a similar experience first reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and realising, hey, if this prominent cisgender author can write about nonbinary people and get published, I can too, and I have never looked back since! a more recent influence is Neon Yang’s Tensorate novellas – the first one I read was The Ascent to Godhood, I need to reread it now I’ve read all the others. That series is a masterclass in how much beautiful worldbuilding and narrative you can fit into a novella’s small space. (Rider’s probably my favourite character, I love Rider.)

Who’s an author you think more people should be reading? 

Rivers Solomon – faer work is a gut-punch in the best of ways.

Creative writing as a teenager, did you do it? What did you write about? Can you remember any stories? 

I did very little else! I wrote for fun since I was I thiiink twelve or thirteen or so, and have been doing National Novel Writing Month since I was about – fourteen? Since 2008, anyway. It’s not at all the only way to learn how to write, but it certainly taught me a lot (any teenagers reading this: don’t do what I did, please focus on your exams).

I always wrote pretty similar stuff – those first few manuscripts were mostly fantasy, with a big emphasis on action/adventure plotlines and Friendship. My work now just has more craft knowledge and less compulsory heterosexuality.

Is there anything you’ve seen passed around as writing advice that you really disagree with? 

‘Write every day’. Do that if it works for you, but you really don’t have to if it doesn’t. For me, I can’t imagine a better way to make myself hate writing. You definitely have to be able to make yourself work and focus even when you don’t want to, but – listen, sometimes after ten hours on my feet at work I’d come home at eleven or midnight and would be able to write a bit, but I’m not going to hold it against myself the days I couldn’t. Sometimes you need the rest.

Do you prefer quiet, ambient sound or music while you write? 

Music! I have a lot of playlists for specific projects, and listening to them can really help me get back in the mood of the story and world when I come back for editing. It is about the vibes.

If you were stuck on a desert island with one book, one music album and one podcast, what would they be? 

Oh, man. I’m gonna cheat and say The House of Always by Jenn Lyons because I haven’t got my hands on it yet. (It is honestly so refreshing to read an enthralling epic fantasy series stacked full of bisexual disasters like myself.) For music, let’s say Janelle Monae’s incredible album Dirty Computer because I’m constantly coming back to it, and for podcast, The Adventure Zone because I have like, two seasons to catch up on. I don’t think it’s feasible for me to be stranded on a desert island long enough to catch up with Critical Role.

Pokemon: if you were a trainer, what pokemon would be in your team? (you get 6) 

This is the hardest question in the world. Why would you do this. I can never even decide if I’d be a Poison, Fairy or Flying type trainer. Anyway, scolipede, pidgeot, ribombee, flygon, feraligatr and I’m definitely missing at least ten faves I’m forgetting about but let’s say roserade. I like to pretend I’d be a Pokemon Ranger in the Pokemon world, despite the fact I’d probably just be, y’know, me, and maybe live in an idyllic cottage with my smeargle or something.

I was reading back over this and realised I forgot trubbish. And murkrow. This is why I always have about twenty active Pokemon in my teams and take forever to beat the game. And skorupi! Heck!

Okay, okay, all-poison team variant: scolipede (my favourite pokemon, solid arthropleura vibes) dragalge, toxapex, trubbish, roserade and salazzle. You may think I’ve now been talking about Pokemon for an inaccessibly long time, but praise my restraint, because this is still leaving out dustox and gengar and and and …

Favourite bird? 

You’d think crow, and you’d be right, but also I’m a real armchair biologist and birds are my Favourite and have been since I was a small, so here’s my TOP FIVE at this particular moment:

·         Crow friends – clever, pretty, morbid, absolutely the bird in my heart is a crow, 10/10

·         Kea for extremely similar reasons, beautiful mischief parrots

·         Kākā, because they get a bad rap and I like their Spirit

·         Moa. Extinct big sexy.

·         Tūī!! Two voice boxes, plus they come off all beautiful and graceful until you watch them closer, realise they’re fluffed-up little bullies and love them even more.

Rem Wigmore is a speculative fiction writer based in Aotearoa. Their novel Foxhunt is forthcoming from Queen of Swords Press on August 21st 2021 and is up for preorder now. Their other works include Riverwitch and The Wind City, both shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award. Rem’s short fiction appears in several places including the Capricious Gender Diverse Pronouns Issue, Baffling Magazine, and the second Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy anthology. They also have a story in Victoria University Press’s upcoming Middle Distance anthology. Rem’s probably a changeling, but you’re stuck with them now. The coffee here is just too good. Rem can be found on Twitter.

Preorder Foxhunt  


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!


Guest writers series: an interview with Sam Schenk

I have another author from the Witchy Fiction project stopping by today. First time author Sam!

Hi Sam, and welcome. Please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a professional woman in STEM, the other parent of an autistic gayby, and an observer of human behaviour.  I’m a bisexual Xennial.  I watch/read sci-fi and fantasy (and spend a lot of time on Twitch), play video games, scuba dive, and write as a means to relax.

If you were to have a personal familiar, what animal would it be?  

This has changed a lot over the course of my life, if you would have asked 10 years + ago, I would have said a dog or a horse, but these days, it’s probably something small and easy to take care of – like a hummingbird.  That’d be cute and useful!

Where in the world do you live, and what do you like most about it? 

I live in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand.  There are a lot of things that are amazing about this city, not the least that it’s liberal and transport accessible.  If I’m honest, my favourite thing is the lack of humidity – because it all gets blown out to sea.

Self-care is very important for writers, tell us how you look after yourself?

I spend a lot of time on twitch and playing video games as escapism, but I find writing relaxing too.  It’s more recognising when I need some time to myself and taking it.  That’s not always easy with Ms. 5 around, but I try to make it work.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

I’ve got an obsession with Bass YouTube at the moment – particularly Charles Berthoud.  Check him out, he’s amazing.  I prefer orchestral/instrumental game music or jazz without words most of the time.

What genres do you like to read in?

 My core genres are dystopian fiction and transhumanism, but I like anything with a speculative angle.  I do a lot of beta reading through facebook groups and I’m not selective with what I read there.  I like to think of it as a broadening experience.  I can read anything as long as it makes me think.

What are you reading right now?

Currently ARC reading The Key to All Things.  Early days, but I like the premise.  I’m also going through and rereading Overdues and Occultism, it’s the first soft copy of the Witchy Fiction collab that I’ve been able to acquire.  I love my signed copy ❤

What’s a book that you have on your shelf which you’re particularly fond of?

I have Gulliver’s Travels.  I know, it’s old, but it’s still one of my favourite books.  The copy that I have I got on my OE trip to Italy, it’s nothing special, but I have some really nice memories of that trip, when I was obsessed with classics and looking forward to visiting Villa Adriana.

What book do you love to recommend to people? 

Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Mariller.  It’s the only book that I’ve not been able to put down…three times.  She just writes the forest so well – she has a real connection to a type of setting in a way that I wish I had.  Before I moved to NZ, I picked up a hardback copy of her book.  When I realised she was a Kiwi, I was really hoping that I could meet her.  Sadly, I missed my chance at CoNZealand.  I hope there will be another one.

Can you name some formative books for your own writing?

In terms of writing style, I can’t point to any particular piece.  I’ve always loved older characters, and for that I blame tv shows more than books, like STNG and Highlander: the Series.  I always wondered what was going on with the older characters outside even the young adult series I read, and I wrote quite a bit of fanfiction to that effect.

How do you organise your personal library?

I’m mostly digital these days – search engines are my friends.  Most of my physical books I recognise by sight.

Creative writing as a teenager, did you do it?

Definitely.  I started my long term work in progress as a teenager.  Originally, my main character was based on Xena, Warrior Princess, but she’s very much her own person these days.  I still hope to publish it one day.  I did a lot of writing while I was a checkout chick, fanfiction mostly.  I remember a short piece that I wrote around the Go board game which I quite liked.  I have a big bag of receipt paper from those days that I rummage through every so often.

What do you do/where do you go for inspiration? 

Diving is a great inspiration for me.  You really can’t be absent or thinking about work when you’re under the water.  Without a clear aural sense, the world is really different, but for me it doesn’t cause panic.  You move with the current. It makes me feel at peace with the world.  I like to try and find beauty in unusual places, like a plant growing out of a crack in the sidewalk.

Do you have any writerly superstitions? 
I save most of my superstition for dice/cards.

If you had infinite time, opportunity and resources, what’s your absolute dream writing project? 

I would love to do a travel blog – spend months integrating with a different culture and write down my observations, then turn those learnings into a speculative piece.

Any advice for anyone who’s struggling with their own writing? 

Be gentle with yourself.  Struggling with writing rarely causes a good result.  If you need time, give yourself time.  My own journey was to incorporate writing into my occupation, even though it isn’t creative writing.  That has given me the space to rediscover the themes that I want to write about, and given me the freedom to fail.

Do you prefer quiet, ambient sound or music while you write? 

Ambient music for sure.  Something that doesn’t have words, or isn’t recognisable to me (eg music from a game I’ve played, or music in a language I don’t know).  I love running bass with interesting alto or tenor riffs.  Lyrics/Treble are the last part of music that I hear, which is unusual for a writer I suppose.  I was a cellist in high school, and still have my instrument.  I’d love to get back to it at some point.

And now, onto your favourites: 

Hogwarts, Narnia, Neverland or Westeros? 

To live in, or read? Read, Westeros. I’ve never read the original Peter Pan. With Ms. 5 getting into reading, I may soon get an opportunity!

If you were stuck on a desert island with one book, one music album and one podcast, what would they be? 

One book – it would probably be some sort of an encyclopedia of useful things for surviving the wilderness. One music album – orchestral final fantasy 7 most likely.
One podcast – hm. It would probably be a go podcast, maybe by BattsGo because he has so much varied content. Guaranteed I will have made myself a go board within a few months to kill time.

What’s your favourite song to sing at Karaoke? 

Kiss from a Rose, Seal.

Favourite song to sing in the shower when no one else is home?
 I don’t really do that – but it would probably be something from a musical – like Oliver or Les Mis.

Pokemon: if you were a trainer, what pokemon would be in your team?

 I’m not much of a pokemon player – and what I do know is very old school.  Probably Gyrados, Onyx, Machamp, and Charmander as a core with filler of whatever else was good.  I know that’s probably not the strongest team, but they’re the guys that I liked playing with the most.

The weirdest hobby you have, other than writing? 

I do a little bit of streaming on Twitch.  I’m not popular or anything, but I like to talk to people while I’m playing.  I got into it trying to speedrun a puzzle game.

What is your favourite bird?

I’ve always been fond of hawks and eagles. I don’t have a specific one I love, though.

Sam Schenk

 Sam Schenk is a business analyst by day, a mum, writer, and gamer by night.  She was born in Canada, raised in Texas, and matured in New Zealand, where she’s lived for the past 20 years.  She has just released her first publication, A Gap in the Veil, in a collaboration with Contemporary Witchy Fiction.  She loves beta reading, watching great sci fi, and scuba diving when she can get out.

Follow Sam on social media Twitter and Goodreads

Get a copy of A Gap in the Veil on sale now, part of the Witchy Fiction project.


Guest writers series: an interview with Nova Blake

Welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a Māori author, mother of three, wife, sister, stalwart badass. I write a bunch of different things under a couple of different names. I love to read, listen to a wide range of music, enjoy close friendships, and am bad at small talk. I have a fascination with dark things and love to be creeped out (by fictional things!). 

If you were to have a personal familiar, what animal would it be?  

I feel like saying cat is cliched, but I do love my cat Luna. I also love dogs, and when it comes down to it, it’s more about the bond between animal and I than the specific type of animal.


Where in the world do you live, and what do you like most about it?

I live in Aotearoa, but more specifically New Plymouth. It’s a gorgeous place to live – Mount Taranaki is always keeping an eye on us, even though he’s often wearing a cloak of cloud, and we live between him and the sea. Perfection! 

Self-care is very important for writers, tell us how you look after yourself?

By reading a lot. I generally don’t work in the evenings these days unless I have a hard deadline, and I try to take plenty of rest time. As a writer with kids at home, who also has mental and regular health things that contribute to making life hard, that down time/rest time, is vital.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Every book has a different playlist, and the playlists can be quite different to each other – so it really depends on the book, or the day or the month. Here’s a link to the playlist I listened to while writing my latest release, Hexes & Vexes. Listen here.

What are you reading right now?

This year has been hard for the old reading with eyeballs thing, so I’ve mostly stuck to audiobooks. At this moment I’m listening to a book called The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser.

What’s a book that you have on your shelf which you’re particularly fond of?

I’ve got a hardcover, signed edition of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s one of my all time fav books so it’s a prized possession. 

What do you do/where do you go for inspiration? 

I love to go to Back Beach, I find walking in the sand, the wind, the sea refreshing. It clears my mind and helps to untangle plots or make ideas bloom. There is something special about West Coast beaches; they are so wild, untamed, really helps shake things up.

Is there anything you’ve seen passed around as writing advice that you really disagree with? 

I think the one that annoys me most is actually the old ‘write what you know’, people often seem to take and teach that quite literally, and instead of opening writers up it often shuts them down as they don’t think they know a lot. They haven’t done enough etc. But we all know so much. We know heartbreak and horror, we know adversity and grief, we know hunger and the way it feels when we bite into something that’s too hot to eat yet. I think we should 100% tap into the things we know, but we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to only those. 

Imagine you won one of those ‘grab a cart and spend five mins in a store’ competitions. Which store would you want to win it for, and what goods would you be shoving in the cart first?

PBTech… I am a sucker for good tech, and I’d replace all my gear I think! New cell-phone with excellent camera, mouse pad – one of those big ones that goes under your keyboard, new mouse, headphones, even BIGGER monitor/third monitor… lol I am greedy for speedy tech.  

The weirdest hobby you have, other than writing? 

Collecting skulls? If there are dead things around the place I will often move them somewhere safe so that when decomposition is complete I can put the skull in one of my skull gardens (don’t worry, these are small), which would be called succulent gardens if there were no skulls in them, but, let’s be honest – skull garden sounds much cooler. 

What is your favourite bird?

Magpie, hands down. I know they are loathed by so many but I adore them, which is probably why they keep showing up in the books I’ve been writing in recent years. 

Cassie is a writer of mostly science fiction and fantasy, from Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand.

As J.C. Hart she writes fiction most influenced by the mythology and culture of the land she lives on. As Nova Blake she looks more to the wider world, drawing inspiration from everything from fairy tales to mythology. In all her books she loves nothing more than exploring the complexities of relationships, whether they be between friends, lovers, family, or enemies.

Read more about Nova/JC Hart on her website here or follow here on Twitter

Get a copy of Hexes and Vexes, on sale now, part of the Witchy Fiction project