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Reading log journal

I updated my reading log journal, and ordered myself some copies. They arrived recently and I’m really stoked with how cute they look and how nice the quality is. These are print-on-demand from Amazon which means you can order them from Amazon yourself!

But let’s take a look inside…

There’s a 60 book reading challenge that you can use or not as you choose – it includes different formats of books as well as options that may put you out of your comfort reading zone. There are checkboxes so you can keep track of the ones you’ve done.

Then lots of review pages, with space for various details including dates started and read and why you chose this particular book.

The review pages are broken up with colouring pages every here and there so you can reward yourself for reading and updating the journal and have a little fun. Here’s one example:

Then the back half of the book is dot gridded pages so you can continue to review books, make lists of books to read, draw or do whatever you like, really.

If you’re in New Zealand you can also order direct from my Payhip store.

Get it on US Amazon or on Australian Amazon

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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

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!

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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