Notable Books Awards 2015

Storylines Notable Books are selected by an expert panel from the Storylines community as books that are worthy of being recognised as ‘Notable’ in each year. The panel includes librarians, authors, teachers, teacher educators and academics; several members have served as judges for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award (and under its previous sponsor AIM) and the LIANZA Book Awards.”

Writing with a disability – an open letter.

Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), it’s a disease with almost as many names as it has symptoms (recently reclassified as SEID). About a year ago they added Fibromyalgia to my list and six months ago I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis and a labral tear in my right hip that can’t be surgically repaired due to the arthritis. As I write this, I’m waiting to hear back from my doctor about the results of more tests and the possibility of at least one more new chronic condition to add to the growing collection. That is the reality of my life.

Why am I writing about this?

This isn’t a pity part or sympathy gathering post, it’s also not a “tell me your secret cure” one (please don’t). I’m writing this post to share information, to share my experience, my life, my challenges and my unique perspective.

I’ve recently become part of a few support groups for people with chronic illness and disabilities and I’m learning a lot from them. Learning to be more gentle with myself. Learning that what I do is enough. What I have to say is of value, even if it’s just a few words. I’m also learning that sharing my story helps others who have similar difficulties in their own lives.

What’s my issue?

I haven’t been able to do much writing for some time now because of various symptoms of my various conditions along with, well, life. I’d like to change that in a way that relieves me of pressure but fulfils my unique and introverted need to sometimes be heard and seen. I have more symptoms then I care to write in a blog post I actually expect other people to read. The worst, as far as I’m concerned, are the symptoms that affect my cognitive functions. This is a a list of the daily cognitive symptoms I deal with:

•Fibro/brain fog


•Difficultculty concentrating

•Categorising and word retrieval

•Memory lapses


•Difficulty processing information

•Inability to focus (brain and eyes)

I get these symptoms in various combinations and intensity levels depending on what else is going on in my life, how much I’m pushing myself, how much stress is floating around and countless other reasons. It’s unpredictable and frustrating beyond belief. Did you know that you can become so exhausted that you not only want to cry, but actually want to vomit? Now you do.

There are days like yesterday and today where I feel like I could write for hours on end, the ideas flow, I can put multiple words together to form sentences, and as an added bonus, they make sense. Basically I feel like a normal person. These days are few. Strings of these days in a row, are even more infrequent, and so, when I get them I revel in them. I get excited and I get as much done as I possibly can. Unfortunately this in itself can cause days, weeks or months of backlash *sigh*.

There are days when I can feel just fine but as soon as I try to read something, have a conversation with someone or start planning a story, my brain begins to feel like thick stew with added syrup. I can’t brain. I can’t word.

So why don’t I just stop, do something else?

Because I can’t. I could no sooner stop coming up with story ideas or character outlines then I could stop breathing and still survive. I’ve been scribbling on bits of paper, stray pieces of wood, various body parts, anything that would come to hand, from the time I could hold a pencil. I don’t say they are good ideas or characters, my poems were tragic teenage drivel, but I was always compelled to write them down and play with them in a way I’ve never felt compelled to do anything else.

The reality is that I do have multiple hobbies, and many of them I can’t do any more due to their own list of symptom complications. While I’ve been sad to give many of these up, I’ve always been able to shrug it off and accept it, writing is not one of those hobbies it turns out.

Where to from here?

I intend to keep writing, in dribs and drabs if I have to. I also intend on continuing to post some of this writing, here and maybe, just maybe, I can get one of my stories published again, that would be nice. As I continue to discover new resources, create new tools that help me and uncover other tricks and treasures that make this process easier I’ll share them as best I can.

That’s honestly all I have to say today. I want to reconnect with this blog, with myself and my writing process. These illnesses get in the way of me forming a writing habit due to their unpredictability but I will endeavour to keep going, to find a way forward. For now, I’m tired and hungry, and my house is filling with the delectable scent of slow cooked lamb shanks and my mouth is watering more with every passing second.

Pitch mad

Think you can pitch your compleated manuscript in 140 characters or less? That’s the premise of #pitmad a quarterly event that starts again on Thursday 4th June. For those of us in the Southern hemisphere, that’s tomorrow. I’m not sure if that means we get a jump on other authors or we’ll be lost in the mix when the North comes online, I’d hedge my bets and this is how:


  1. Prepare several versions of your pitch (twitter won’t let you pitch the exact same tweet within the hour)
  2. Schedule your pitches using something like Buffer or HootSuite or another app you like. Twice per hour, per manuscript is ample. If you’re in the SH, make sure you time your tweets to line up with NH timezones too.
  3. INCLUDE THE HASHTAG #pitmad (if you don’t do this, you might as well pack up and go home because nobody will see it)
  4. Add a category hashtag –#YA, #MG, #A, #NA, #PB and #NF (do this and you are more likely to be seen by relevant publishers).
  5. If an agent or publisher favorites your tweet, go and find out their submission preferences and get to work ASAP to send them what they ask for.

Do not:

  1. Don’t tweet agents and publishers directly unless they tweet you first.
  2. Don’tfavorite friends tweets, leave it for the agents. You can retweet them though. 

Hashtags and their meanings:

#YA = Young Adult

#MG = Middle Grade

#A = Adult

#NA = New Adult

#PB = Picture Book

#CB = Chapter Book

#SFF = Science Fiction and Fantasy

#CF = Christian Fiction

#CR = Contemporary Romance

#PR = Paranormal Romance

#R = Romance

#LF = Literary Fiction

#HF = Historical Fiction

#WF = Woman’s Fiction

#Mem = Memoir

#NF = Non-fiction


For more information, visit Diana Urban, Carly Watters article

GoodReads Best Books of 2014

With 3,317,504 votes cast by readers, this list is sure to have a few undiscovered delights. Many of my own favorites of 2014 are well represented including the Science Fiction winner, The Martian, written by Andy Weir, tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, one of the first people to walk on Mars and certain he he’ll be the first to die there as well. I listened to the audio version of this book and couldn’t get enough of it.

One of my other favs, Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie came in 12th place.

A bit surprised that Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Assassin only came in at 14th place in the Fantasy list. I love Robin Hobb, well, except her Soldier Son books, just couldn’t get into those. Looks like I should get my hands on The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness though, over 51,000 votes it should be amazing.

You can view the full list of books here on GoodReads.

The Martian   Ancillary sword  Fools Assassin  The Book of Life

Ever wanted to write for children? Joy Cowley shares her top tips

Over the years, I’ve seen literally thousands of stories for children written by aspiring writers. While many showed promise, most had the same weakness: the authors didn’t know their audience. The stories had been written for a range of subjective reasons: the authors had values messages they wanted children to read; the authors liked a certain kind of story when they were young; stories with a popular theme were considered to have good market potential; it was easier to publish stories for children than writing for adults.I’ve tried as gently as possible to deal with these misconceptions in personal correspondence, and now, through the New Zealand Book Council, would like to offer experience that might be helpful to people who genuinely want to write for young people… Source: Booknotes Unbound

An Image is Worth . . . A LOT – The Fictorians

Ever wondered if it was ok to use an image you found on Google for your blog? I like to use images for writing prompts and I’ve posted a few here in the past as image prompts, I’m now wondering how ethical that was. Give this article a read and judge for yourself.

Source: An Image is Worth . . . A LOT – The Fictorians

Auckland Writers Festival 2015

Auckland Writers Festival 2015 begins tomorrow, 13th May, till 17 May at the Aotea Centre. Headlining this year will be the reclusive contemporary writer, Haruki Murakami. Murakami’ is a Japanese author who’s works have been translated into 50 languages and garnered several awards including the 2006 World Fantasy Award (best novel) for Kafka on the Shore. In 2007 he received an honorary doctorate of Letters from the University of Liège,[48], another from Princeton University in June 2008,[49] and in 2014, one from Tufts University[50].

Joining Murakami will be David Walliams of Little Britain and QI fame and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants) will also appear the Festival, but the celebrity lineup doesn’t stop there, fare from it.

“They join a heady line-up of novelists, poets, thinkers, scientists, historians, playwrights and children’s literary stars including: one of the world’s most influential medical writers Atul Gawande who will talk about his most recent work Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End; the Festival’s 2015 Honoured New Zealand writer C.K. Stead; Helen Macdonald, winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award 2014 with her stunning Memoir  H is for Hawk; actor, writer, broadcaster, director, producer and musician Alan Cumming; UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy; internationally-acclaimed NZ singer/songwriter Hollie Fullbrook (aka TINY RUINS); journalist and media critic for The New Yorker Ken Auletta whose books include Googled: The End of the World as We Know It; multi-award-winning New Zealand poet and art historian Gregory O’Brien; much-loved Australian food writer Stephanie Alexander;  globally renowned Kiwi visual artist and writer Grahame Sydney; Australian National Living Treasure Tim Winton; British investigative journalist Nick Davies, responsible for uncovering the News of the World phone hacking affair; New Zealand’s favourite satirical writer Steve Braunias;  multi-award winning novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks);  Booker Prize winning novelist and poet Ben Okri; England’s insatiable scientist Philip Ball who has written on just about everything – from how music works to his most recent book: Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler; Australia’s biggest-selling non-fiction writer Peter FitzSimons; critically acclaimed novelist Helen Garner whose most recent novel is The House of Grief; The Good Women of China writer Xinran who will talk about her latest work Buy Me The Sky;  multi-award winning New Zealand novelist Witi Ihimaeraglobally-celebrated British author of Alex Rider fame, Anthony Horowitz; New Zealand playwright Fiona Samuel and New York’s most irresistible literary critic Daniel Mendelsohn.”

– lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Full program available here.

Tickets can still be purchased at Ticketmaster

Learn to write with William S Burroughs

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about finding interviews from famous authors on writing and storing them in one, easily accessible place. Well, this week the wonderful Cory Doctorow posted an article on Boing Boing that included the youtube recordings of a series of lectures on creative writing (or reading) delivered by William S Burroughs.

In 1979, William S Burroughs delivered a series of lectures on creative writing (though he insisted that he was teaching creativereading — that is, analyzing the writing process by reading, because everyone can be taught to read, but only some will be able to write) at Naropa University. Three of these lectures, running to over four hours, are up on Youtube, covering writing exercises, Brion Gysin, Aleister Crowley, science fiction, General Semantics, and cut-ups. These are excellent listening, and are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivs-NonCommerical (as is the rest of the Naropa collection.)

You can read the rest of the article and listen to the recordings, here.

Featured List

Amazon 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

1984 by George Orwell
Print | Kindle
A Brief History of Time
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Print | Kindle
A Long Way Gone
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Print | Kindle
A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition by Lemony Snicket
Print | Kindle
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Print | Kindle
Alice Munro: Short Stories
Alice Munro: Selected Stories by Alice Munro
Print | Kindle
Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Print | Kindle
All the President's Men
All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
Print | Kindle
Angela's Ashes
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoirby Frank McCourt
Print | Kindle
Are You There, God? It's me, Margaret
Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Print | Kindle
Bel Canto
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Print | Kindle
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Print | Kindle
Born to Run
Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
Print | Kindle
Breath, Eyes, Memory
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Print | Kindle
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Print | Kindle
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Print | Kindle
Charlotte's Web
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Cutting For Stone
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
Print | Kindle
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Print | Kindle
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney
Print | Kindle
Dune by Frank Herbert
Print | Kindle
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Print | Kindle
Fear and Loathing
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson
Print | Kindle
Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Print | Kindle
Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Great Expectations
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Print | Kindle
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond
Print | Kindle
Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Print | Kindle
In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Print | Kindle
Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Print | Kindle
Invisible Man
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Print | Kindle
Jimmy Corrigan

Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Print | Kindle
Life After Life
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Print | Kindle
Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairieby Laura Ingalls Wilder
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Print | Kindle
Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love Medicine
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Print | Kindle
Man's Search for Meaning
Man’s Search for Meaningby Viktor Frankl
Print | Kindle
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Print | Kindle
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Print | Kindle
Midnight's Children
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Print | Kindle
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Print | Kindle
Of Human Bondage
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
Print | Kindle
On the Road
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Print | Kindle
Out of Africa
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
Print | Kindle
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Portnoy's Complaint
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
Print | Kindle
Pride and Prejudice
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Print | Kindle
Silent Spring
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Print | Kindle
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Print | Kindle
Team of Rivals
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Print | Kindle
The Age of Innocence
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Print | Kindle
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Print | Kindle
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Print | Kindle
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Print | Kindle
The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Color of Water
The Color of Water by James McBride
Print | Kindle
The Corrections
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Print | Kindle
The Devil in the White City
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
Print | Kindle
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Diary of Anne Frankby Anne Frank
Print | Kindle
The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Print | Kindle
The Giver
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Print | Kindle
The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials
The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Print | Kindle
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Print | Kindle
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Print | Kindle
The House At Pooh Corner
The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
Print | Kindle
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Print | Kindle
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Print | Kindle
The Liars' Club: A Memoir
The Liars’ Club: A Memoirby Mary Karr
Print | Kindle
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
Print | Kindle
The Little Prince
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Print | Kindle
The Looming Tower
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
Print | Kindle
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Print | Kindle
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
Print | Kindle
The Omnivore's Dilemma
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Print | Kindle
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Print | Kindle
The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel
The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
Print | Kindle
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
Print | Kindle
The Road
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Print | Kindle
The Secret History
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Print | Kindle
The Shining
The Shining by Stephen King
Print | Kindle
The Stranger
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Print | Kindle
The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Print | Kindle
The Things They Carried
The Things They Carriedby Tim O’Brien
Print | Kindle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillarby Eric Carle
The Wind in the Willows
The Wind in the Willowsby Kenneth Grahame
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami
Print | Kindle
The World According to Garp
The World According to Garp by John Irving
The Year of Magical Thinking
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Print | Kindle
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Print | Kindle
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Print | Kindle
Valley of the Dolls
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Print | Kindle
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Where the Sidewalk Endsby Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

NZ Post Book Awards Submissions 2014

Entries are open for the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Please review the submissions document below for information about the awards, eligibility criteria, and terms and conditions.

The entry deadlines are:

  • 1 Nov 2013 for books published 1 Jun 2013 – 30 Nov 2013
  • 1 Apr 2014 for books published 1 Dec 2013 – 31 May 2014

Entry forms are available below for download.  Please email any queries

Submit your forms:

By courier – include forms with print books
New Zealand Post Book Awards
Booksellers NZ
L13, Grand Arcade
16 – 20 Willis St

Email (e-books)
Attention: Amie Lightbourne, Awards Manager

Entry forms can be downloaded from the links below:

About the New Zealand Post Book Awards

The New Zealand Post Book Awards celebrate excellence, identifying the very best books written by New Zealanders.

Books are judged in four main categories:

  • Poetry
  • Fiction
  • Illustrated Non-fiction, and
  • General Non-fiction.

A finalist list of 16 will be comprised of: four finalists for each category. One Book of the Year will be chosen from these 16 finalists.

Books submitted in the four main categories, written by first‐time authors, are also eligible to win the New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book awards for Poetry, Fiction and Non‐fiction.

Books written entirely in Te Reo, are elibible for the Māori Language award.
The popular People’s Choice award is the public’s opportunity to vote for their favourite book of the year. Eligible books are New Zealand published, New Zealand authored titles published within the date span of 1 June 2013– 31 May 2014. Readers can vote online and in-store.

Booksellers will vote for their favourite book to sell in the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice award. Up to four titles will be selected as finalists and the winning author will receive $2,500.

A significant prize pool will see the overall winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year award receiving $15,000. Winners of the four category awards will each receive $10,000, the Māori Language award $10,000, People’s Choice award $5,000, Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice award, $2,500 and each of the winners of the three NZSA Best First Book awards, $2,500.

Expressions of interest are invited from members of the public and literary community to be a judge for the New Zealand Post Book Awards.  A panel of five judges is appointed by the Book Awards Governance Group, comprised of stakeholders. One judge is selected as the Convenor of the panel.

The principal sponsors of the New Zealand Post Book Awards are the New Zealand Post Group and Creative New Zealand. The awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by the New Zealand Society of Authors, and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.

Before 1996, there were two major New Zealand literary prizes, the New Zealand Book Awards (1973‐1995) and the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards (1968‐1993).

Montana took over the sponsorship of the Wattie Awards in 1994, and the Awards became the Montana Book Awards (1994‐1995). In 1996, the two Awards merged to form the Montana New Zealand Book Awards (1996‐2009). In 2010, sponsorship of the Awards was assumed by New Zealand Post.

Find out more here.

About NZ Book Month

New Zealand Book Month is a non-profit initiative promoting books and reading – and as a result, literacy – in New Zealand.

One month each year we celebrate books and encourage all Kiwis to get involved. The next New Zealand Book Month is planned for August 2014.

The clear goal of New Zealand Book Month is to form a North to South community of readers. Kiwis passionate about books, determined to share them with each other and spread the word. Telling and retelling stories, and recommending new books to read.  From friend to neighbour, school bus to sporting field, workplace to playground.

New Zealand Book Month works alongside a wide range of organisations fundamental to books and reading in New Zealand. Publishers, booksellers, libraries, schools and activists provide the necessary support to make New Zealand Book Month a success.

Find out more at their website.

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