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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Witchy Fiction 99c sale

click for the sale website

The Witchy Fiction project is celebrating the month of May with a 99c sale! A selection of books from four different authors (including me!) is up for cheap on multiple ebook platforms.

Click here to get some cheap urban fantasy from Aotearoa! More about the included books if you read on…

Riverwitch

2021 Sir Julius Vogel Award Finalist for Best Novella

Self-taught witch Ashley Robinson considers it her duty to protect her hometown Hamilton. She spends her time doing community work and picking up litter by the Waikato River.

But something is badly wrong with the river, a sickness deeper than mere pollution can explain. Magic must be the cause, but is it a curse or something else entirely? Ash has to get to the bottom of it, armed with nothing more than the support of her best friend Mikaere and a pocketful of crystals.

Then there’s Bryony Manu, the town’s only other witch. A charismatic practitioner of dark magic, Bryony is infuriating … and captivating. Ash needs their help to track down the source of the spell draining life from the river. Can she balance her work with her attraction to Bryony, and master her magic along the way?

Brand of Magic

An empath witch should be able to keep everyone happy, right?

Hazel has put magic and men out of her mind. A break-up meant her own thoughts were bad enough, without sensing everyone else’s emotions too. The ghost in the attic and her sarcastic dog familiar would be way too much to explain to any partner.

Instead, Hazel put all her energy into her job promoting the city she loves – Dunedin, New Zealand. And she is pretty good at it, too. When her neighbour, Joel, needs her expertise to save his woodworking business and stop the sale of his family land, she can’t resist getting involved. But the more time they spend together, the more stubbornly locked away his thoughts are.

Then her powerful aunt is attacked, and Hazel has to find a way to get through to her and discover who or what is behind it. It seems as if her psychic powers are the key to everything.

Can she bear to let magic – and love – back in?

Succulents and Spells

Laurel Windflower is a witch from a family of magic workers – but her own life is going nowhere. Living in the damp, sunless side of Aro Valley, she works in a café, unable to produce anything more powerful than the most basic herbal potions. Until, one winter morning, Marigold Nightfield knocks on her door. Marigold is a scientist, but she knows plenty about magic. There are strange things happening in her house, and her future discoveries require careful negotiation with monsters. Laurel can’t walk away from a mystery – and she can’t walk away from Marigold either. But what lies ahead could reveal all of her shortcomings to the woman she’s trying to impress… or uncover the true nature of her power.

Microscopes and Magic

Some magical problems take spells and potions to solve… but others can only be understood through the lenses of a microscope.

Marigold Nightfield’s life changed when she absorbed the magic stored in a family heirloom. Now, she’s part of a growing network of magic-working scientists who are trying to change the world for the better, and has a girlfriend from a sprawling, powerful, witchy family.

Things should be coming together perfectly for her… but her magic has a time limit. It’s not hers for keeps and one day, she’ll lose it for good.

When her girlfriend’s work is destroyed by possible sabotage, and strange things start appearing in Wellington’s green belt, Marigold’s amazing new life starts to unravel. With unknown motives and dubious players at work, she faces a destructive force spreading through the city and beyond. She’ll have to not only draw on her scientific background and magical abilities, but make new connections and grow in confidence to face this new threat.

Overdues and Occultism

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

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. 

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.

Monsters and Manuscripts

One Witch
One Paranormal Investigator
Something that went bump in the night…

Library witch Basil and YouTuber Sebastian have settled into life together in the sleepy suburb of Mt Eden.

Basil is overjoyed to have a handsome boyfriend to come home to and he is connecting deeper with his magic. But when strange books start to turn up at his library and an uninvited guest makes noises in their attic, it’s up to them to investigate.

As a paranormal YouTuber, Sebastian can’t resist a new mystery. Especially since he’s been in one place for far too long… Is his enthusiasm for the next story going to ruin everything?

Onesies and Ouijaboards

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.

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Guest writer series: an interview with Elise Smith

Welcome to Elise Smith

Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Elise Smith, I have over 25 years of experience as a writer, 5 years as a blogger and 3 years as a writing coach. I have written and published two autobiographies in my book series “The New Zealand Dream,” by Sheila my pen name. I wrote these books to inspire and give hope to others. I published my third book in July 2021, called “Johnathan,” I co-authored this book about my father who grew up in Manchester England during the war. My passion is creative writing, I write in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and content. I have published many articles, short stories, and guest posted on various sites. My short story “Stargazing” won a short story award in our local “Writing Sparks” competition.

Writing is a very powerful healing tool, sharing your story can give help others and help yourself on your healing journey. I am a writing coach who can help people write their own stories and with any writing project they are creating. I have mentored students working for Wellington polytechnic. I conduct interviews on my website to help promote my fellow writers and bloggers and host guest writers.

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

I live in a little coastal city called Gisborne, in New Zealand.

What I like most about living in NZ is it has the ocean and all its bounty on my doorstep, a hop skip, and a jump and you are in nature surrounded by native bush with breathtaking hikes to experience and camp spots to discover.

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

I too believe self-care is extremely important for writers and everyone.

I write about this topic often, below is what I do to take care of myself;
Spending time in nature🦋🌳🌸
Listen to positive music🎼
Watch positive movies/videos
Time for you/to treat yourself 💅🛀
Spend time with positive people👩‍❤️‍👨,
Set boundaries, say no
Spirituality and prayer/meditation🧎‍♀️🧘‍♀️📖
Feed your body and mind healthy🍇🥦🚶‍♂️🧠📖
Rid your life of toxic people, it is better to be alone than around negativity.
Remember you are responsible for your own happiness, nobody else should be expected to make you happy.
Sit just sit quietly
Pick/buy a bunch of flowers
Take a nap
Do something crafty, colouring
Go to the library and read

Reading:

What genres do you like to read in?

I like to read true stories and memoirs.

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

“White thorn” By Bryce Courtnay

Writing:

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

Yes, I did do this, I remember writing about myself and a friend Samanther going on an adventure. She fell into a cave, I tried to save her but a vampire killed her. I got a certificate for this story.

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

I do things to trigger memories or feelings such as getting in nature, a smell, listening to music, looking at photos, or art.

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

I prefer quiet when I write.

Favourites:

Hogwarts, Narnia, Neverland, or Westeros?

Narnia

What’s your favourite song to sing at Karaoke?

Guns and Roses, Sweet child of mine

Favourite song to sing in the shower when no one else is home?

Bon Jovi, You give love a bad name

Favourite bird?

Bald Eagle

You can find Elise online:

My NZ Dream
Instagram
Facebook
Join us in the group “A journey of transformation.”
Goodreads
LinkedIn

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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.

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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