Flash me that fiction – Friday 22 June

National Flash Fiction Day is on Friday 22 June.

Here are the details for the Christchurch event Flash in the Pan:

Come along and celebrate the smallest fictions on the shortest day. National Flash Fiction Day! Flash in the Pan is a FREE event to celebrate all things flash and brings together Canterbury’s best flash fiction writers for an unexpected literary evening and award presentations.

  • When: 6pm to 8pm Friday 22 June 2018
  • Where: Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street
  • What: Flash fiction readings, competition announcements, beer on tap and spot prizes from Scorpio Books and the University Bookshop
  • Subscribe to the Flash in the Pan Facebook event.

What is flash fiction? Well, as defined by the Collins English online dictionary, flash fiction is “a genre of fiction in which stories are characterized by extreme brevity.”

So in short; a short, short story.

I refused to read short stories growing up. I felt cheated. They didn’t count. Could only be explained through sheer laziness on the author’s part. I now understand the unique challenge they pose: how each word must be weighed with the gravest importance, each sentence propelling the narrative forward. No easy feat does it present. When words are scarce, each one must prove its value, must hint at something beyond what appears on the surface.

For the past seven years, New Zealand has celebrated flash fiction through an annual competition, culminating in New Zealand Flash Fiction Day (NZFFD). There are three categories you can enter: adult, youth and Te Reo Māori. If you were hoping to throw your writing skills in the ring this year you’re out of luck as competition entries ran February through April…but despair not, for that leaves nine months to motivate yourself for next year’s competition. In 2017 there were 404 adult competition entries – sounds migraine inducing for those on the judging panel – though entries for the NZFFD competition are limited to a rather manageable 300 words. Tempted? You can read winning entries from previous years online, or even attend the Christchurch Flash Fiction event next week.

My research into flash fiction has, if anything, further muddied the waters as nobody can seem to agree upon the preferred word count (or indeed the very name) of flash fiction. Varying wildly dependent on who is asked, word counts range from the modest six word variety made famous by Ernest Hemingway to the decidedly more generous 1500 limit. Last year, 25-word flash fiction was publicised by The New Yorker, appearing in the “Summer of Flash Fiction” series. The term of Flash Fiction has adopted many different guises also: there is, for instance, the intriguing sounding “twitterature,” and of course the commonly referred to “short story.”

But at the end of the day, short and sweet is what Flash Fiction day (incidentally, held on the shortest day of the year) is all about.

Here I have gathered together some of Christchurch City Libraries’ short story/flash fiction collection – or whatever you want to call it – for your perusal.

View Full List

Check out more stories of the short variety on our catalogue.

If you are looking to develop your own skills as a writer- or if, like me, you have zero visual art skills and simply find writing to be a nice alternative, therapeutic and creative endeavour – Linwood Library host a Creative Writing group weekly on a Wednesday. You’ll also find guides and inspiration on our catalogue, and check out our page on writing for tips, competitions and courses.

There are many more classes and programmes in your community, some of them free, some with a cost. For further information, see CINCH: Community Information Christchurch for programming in your wider community.

Upcoming opportunities for Māori writers and students

Pikihuia Awards

The biennial Pikihuia awards have returned for 2017 bringing with them the chance for fame and cash prizes. Selected winners and finalists will be published in Huia Short Stories 12.

Pikihuia Awards poster 2017Six categories including:

  • Best short story written in English
  • Best short story written in te reo Māori
  • Best short Film Script
  • Best Novel Extract
  • Best short story by a school student in English
  • Best short story by a school student in te reo Māori

With $2000 up for grabs for the winners of the first four categories and winners of the school student categories are up to win a cash prize of $500 and $250 worth of HUIA books for their school be sure to get your entries in.

Enter online at Huia or The Māori Literature Trust, entries close 5pm Tuesday 18th April and winners are announced at the awards ceremony in Wellington this September.

Check out some of the books in our collections from past winners:

Or try the Huia short stories collections.

Sir Āpirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship

Cover of He Tipua The Life and Times of Sir Apirana NgataUp to 10 scholarships are on offer at a value of between $1000 and $3000 and are open to all Māori students, in any field, from any iwi. Preference is given to applicants who are descendants of Māori WW1 veterans. Applications close 1st of May 2017.

The Sir Āpirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship, created by the Māori Soldiers Trust to support higher education amongst Māori, is administered by Te Tumu Paeroa. Funding for the scholarship comes from Hereheretau Station, an investment of the Māori Soldiers Trust Fund set up at the urging of Sir Āpirana Ngata, who was once a recipient of a scholarship himself.

Download an application for the Sir Apirana Ngata Scholarship

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei.
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain.

NaNowWriMo – Setting the pace

NaNoWriMo Participant 2012National Novel Writing Month kicked off on Thursday and so far things are progressing well. I’ve set my characters in motion. They’re about to embark on a perilous journey across the high seas once the wind turns favourable.

Creative writing is an interesting process. You set the scene and the characters turn up to inhabit it. They’re kind of like self-generated Sims. You get to know them as the story unfolds. My main character is losing my interest at present as her excitement potential seems low – she’s just too nice. Her rambunctious sister has taken over and is demanding most of my attention. However, the mysterious servant of an eccentric doctor wants me to take notice of her, and then there’s the boy who hides in dark corners and talks to rats, and the woman with the child who has no past … Hmmm.

(I do realise I’m beginning to sound a bit like a crazy person. I think that’s a good sign. Apparently, it’s when you don’t realise you sound crazy that you’re really in trouble!)

I’m hearing comments from my fellow Christchurch Wrimos who are in turns excited, frustrated, on a roll, in the doldrums, drinking coffee, typing furiously, staring hopelessly into space and/or munching chocolate but they all have one thing in common – they’re all committed to writing and they’re in it for the long haul.

So, hang in there, Wrimos! The only way to climb a mountain is one step at a time and the view from the top is going to be brilliant. If you need some moral support or just want to get together with some people who truly understand what you’re going through, there’s a write-in tonight at Upper Riccarton Library.

I can’t wait to get home and discover what my character are up to. Looks like takeaways for dinner tonight.


NaNoWriMoJust when things were settling down in my life, I’ve gone ahead and done something crazy. I’ve signed up to NaNoWriMo!

On Thursday this week I am about to embark on a creative writing marathon and I’m panicking. 50,000 words in a month. That averages out at 1666.66 words a day. Eeek. Am I ready for such a commitment? Do I have the concentration? Will the muse even bother to talk to me? Have I stockpiled enough pencils and Arabica espresso beans to keep me going?

I’ve joined the National Novel Writing Month Christchurch Group and they’re a friendly, supportive bunch. There was a kick-off party over the weekend and we were encouraged to wear a crazy hat so you see can see that although writing is an introvert’s sport there is still a chance to get together and have some fun. The group will meet at Central Library Tuam and Upper Riccarton Libraries during the event so people can touch base and support each other. I think we’re going to need it!

Vanessa, who’s in charge of organising the group tells me that even NaNoWriMo veterans like  herself (this is her fourth year) have pre-event insecurities so I’m not alone. It’s going to be tough but if I manage 50,000 words I’m going to feel pretty darn pleased with myself. There is no editing or revision involved. There is no marking, assessment or prize giving. This is an exercise is ‘an experiment in pure output’. Bring it on!

I’ll be blogging about my experiences over the next four weeks. If you’re keen to join in, there is still time to sign up. For more information on National Novel Writing Month visit www.nanowrimo.org or to contact a Christchurch Municipal Liaison email Vanessa vanessachchnano@gmail.com

National Poetry Day Friday 30 July

National Poetry Day is on its way:

New Zealand’s national day of poetry … is a celebration of this country’s unique and vibrant poetic voice – whether it is odes, myths and legends, serious social commentary or just plain good fun …


  • coverChristchurch City Libraries blog poetry competition
    Send us your poems (under 300 words) to us at libwebteam@ccc.govt.nz and we will bedeck and bedazzle the blog with your masterpieces on National Poetry Day. You also get a chance to win The Adventures of Vela by Albert Wendt or some cool t-shirts .
  • Time out competition
    To celebrate National Poetry Day 2010, Time Out Bookstore, in conjunction with the Sunday Star-Times, is holding a nationwide poetry competition. Submissions will be accepted by email only to competition@timeout.co.nz, subject line ‘poetry’, and close 5pm, Thursday 15 July.
  • Page and Blackmore Booksellers (Nelson) competition
    Deadline 23 July.

Events in Christchurch

Author and poet Helen Lowe and the Women on Air radio show have made July a month of poetry, and there will be poems and poets aplenty to enjoy.

Find out about Events on the Booksellers website including:

  • Poems for Lunch – A Menu of Astonishing Variety
    12.30 – 1.30 pm, Friday 30th July 2010.
    University Bookshop on Campus, Canterbury University. On the day, come and join us for a feast of poetry, including the launch of a new poetry book, Guarding the Cellar Door by Linda Connell (Steele Roberts) and performances by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Roger Hickin, Tusiata Avia, Micah Timona-Ferris and writers from the School for Young Writers. Tea and coffee provided – bring your sandwiches and join us in celebrating a very special National Poetry Day
  • Poetry for Pudding
    7pm – 8.30 pm, Friday 30th July 2010
    Borders Bookshop Rotherham Street Riccarton. You are invited to a celebratory evening of victuals and poetry to warm your “vitals”. Come to eat, read and/or listen, but mostly come to enjoy. Entry is free. Poets and listeners of all stages and ages welcome! Sponsored by Airing Cupboard Women Poets. For acceptance and further information, email mck-h@hotmail.com

Poetry at Christchurch City Libraries

CoverWe love poetry all year round:

Write the book and win!

Writing handHave you always aspired to be a published novelist but haven’t quite achieved it yet? Do you have an unpublished (or possibly unfinished) manuscript lying at the bottom of your drawer?

Well, there is hope for all aspiring writers. The news is out. Terry Pratchett & Transworld Publishers have teamed up to create a new award for aspiring novelists, to have their debut novel published. The title of the award is The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now Prize and the deadline is 31 December 2010. And there is money involved.

Read about the full details, and read up on the terms & conditions terms & conditions.

If you need ideas, inspiration and/or writing exercises, then try these on for size:

So get your creative ideas flowing, put fingers to keyboard, put pen to paper, use a dictaphone, whatever it takes to get that first novel finished and good luck to all your seek fame & fortune.

Good writing vs. bad writing

When you start poking around the place you find that there are an awful lot of writing prizes out there in the world of literature. Is it any surprise that one or two might slip past us? And so it did with this year’s  PEN/Faulkner award for fiction.  Announced on 26 February the PEN/Faulkner focuses on novels by American writers published within a calendar year, and according to their website is “the largest peer-juried award for fiction in the United States”.

This year’s winning title is Netherland by Joseph O’Neill, a book about a Dutch immigrant living (and struggling) in post-9/11 New York. It also features cricket, which probably doesn’t pop up in American novels that often.

Around the same time these awards were announced finalists for a rather less prestigious award were made public. The Delete Key Awards shine a light on the year’s worst writing in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The grand winner in each of these categories was announced on Monday. The awards have been running for three years and as you can probably tell they point out authors who should have used their “delete” keys more often.

The finalists this year included Denis Leary’s Why we suck, which I reviewed last week. Though I’ve really enjoyed the book I can see why it is included. Mr Leary does have a bit of a tendency to run off at the keyboard in a ranty stream-of-consciousness way that makes a whole paragraph out of a sentence (well, he probably figures that James Joyce got away with it so…?)

Luckily for Mr Leary it’s Stephenie Meyer who gets the gong this year.  Specifically for her novel The Host. There are a couple of reasons given for it being designated as a stellar example of bad writing.  One is that according to readability statistics it is suitable reading for a nine year old.  The other is that it contains howlers like this –

It’s a voluntary choice.

Yes, I see what they mean.  For further examples of “what not to read” see the list of this year’s finalists.  Maybe you’ll be horrified to find one of your favourites on the list.  Despite the presence of Why we suck, I still think it’s funny but is anyone willing to go in to bat for The Host?

Writing competitions

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Want to try your hand at a writing competition? Here are some to enter: The Press Summer Fiction competition, Re-draft (for 13 to 19 year olds), The South Island Writers’ Association Short Story Competition and Takahe’s poetry competition.

The Press Summer Fiction Competition
The Press will repeat its popular Summer Fiction series in December 2008 and January 2009, serialising two pieces of unpublished fiction. 

They will choose the works by way of public competition.
Subject matter and setting are yours to choose – the rules of the competition relate to form, not content. The form is six separate chapters, or interlinked stories, each of 1500 words, that will run on consecutive days. The commission is worth $2000 and is for single publication rights, meaning you will retain copyright.

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Top young poets named

Chloë Nannestad of Epsom Girls Grammar and Shannyn Boyd of Hutt Valley High School are the winners of this year’s New Zealand Post Schools National Poetry Competition.

Chloë Nannestad won overall best poem with Mosaic. Shannyn Boyd’s poem The Pact is being recorded by Black Seeds performer Barnaby Weir.

Two Christchurch students, Alisha Vara and Michaela Ball were finalists in the competition, which is run by Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters.

Writing Competitions – The Press Summer Fiction, Blog Idol, Takahe Short Story …

Here are some competitions to tantalise the writers amongst you:

The Press will repeat its popular Summer Fiction series this December and January, serialising two pieces of unpublished fiction. The works will be selected by way of public competition. Subject matter, setting etc are yours to choose – the rules of the competition relate to form, not content. The form is six separate chapters, or interlinked stories, each of 1500 words, that will run on consecutive days. The commission is worth $2000 and is for single publication rights, meaning you will retain copyright.

To enter the competition, send The Press a hard copy of your first instalment of 1500 words. Entries close on September 3. Winners will be announced on September 22, and the deadline for the completed manuscript is November 12. Mail entries to Summer Fiction Competition, Private Bag 4722, Christchurch, complete with full contact details. Any queries, email mark.wilson@press.co.nz

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