Why I Did It: Whangarei author completes 100 stories project

 “If you wait around for the approval of self-appointed authorities, you will leave hardly any artistic legacy.”

By Michael Botur

On April 30 I submitted one short story to an online NZ news publication which was paying – PAYING! –authors to publish stories. This was an almost unheard-of opportunity, but when I offered my fine fiction, the person in charge of selecting the stories rejected my submission within ten minutes.

I sent him an even-better story immediately.

He rejected that, too, minutes later. It was obvious this guy hadn’t read what I’d sent him. He simply didn’t like me. I almost concluded that the stories I’d sent in must be rubbish… almost.

Instead, the challenge to overcome this rejection lit a fire under me. I wouldn’t be scared away from entertaining readers because of one cynical gatekeeper. While I couldn’t control the website that didn’t want my marvellous stories, I had the power to publish on the platforms I personally controlled: Facebook, Twitter, Medium and NZShortstories.com.

I announced the #100nzstories100days campaign immediately. I wanted to start on the nice square date of May 1 but that seemed like procrastination.

I just went for it. I published my best story the first day, my second-best the day after.

I used up my top ten fan-favourite stories within a week.


I then posted other favourites, mostly prize-winners…. Which didn’t get me that far (because it turned out I hadn’t won as many prizes as I imagined). 20 stories deep into a 100 stories campaign, I found myself at the bottom of a very steep hill, dedicated to a mission of meagre importance. I wasn’t exactly curing cancer or anything. Just writing the spreadsheet plan and juxtaposing the flavour of the stories so they weren’t too same-y started cutting into my bedtime and my day work.

Looking ahead, I could see that even by posting 15 stories from the five collections of short fiction I’ve published, that gave only 75 stories out of the promised hundy. Add some flash fiction – say, four good flashes spanning four years – that was only 16 flash fictions to add to the mix. I could just hit 91 stories. But a hundred? Uh-oh!

Agonising over the daily upload was cutting into my professional work, my family dinners, my kids’ bedtime. It would have been easy to get the campaign done in a day by chucking up sloppy drafts, but sharing sub-par work was not acceptable. I permitted myself to only publish strong, polished, audience-tested stories that wouldn’t embarrass me.

During all this, I was also polishing a new collection of sixteen short stories. I could toss at least a couple of newbies into the mix, but those new ones wouldn’t have marinated to perfection yet.

Gah! Panic!

The solution: I went back and looked at the initial purpose of the whole thing. Here’s what I learned.

  • Look to the writers who have inspired you. They didn’t suppress their writing because it was time-consuming to publish. Nor should you.
  • If you wait around for the approval of self-appointed authorities, you will leave hardly any artistic legacy. Waiting half a year for the approval of some stranger at Landfall or Overland won’t make you a better writer.
  • Don’t let people who haven’t written as much as you dictate what you can achieve.

Anyway: I limped to the finish line, publishing story #100 on August 15.

I didn’t skimp on what I promised: it was 100 literary fiction short stories over at least 100 days. No poetry, no non-fiction. No cutting corners. I had some stories left over I could have published –30 drafts in my drawers– but I wasn’t proud of those. I didn’t care if just one person in Siberia was paying attention: I had to keep the standard high.


I urge anyone inspired by this to publish #10stories10days or #20poems20days or #30reviews30days. There are readers in cyberspace who will be delighted to stumble across your work.

Final thought: Wouldn’t you hate it if your favourite musician couldn’t share an amazing song because one producer didn’t endorse it? Wouldn’t you be frustrated if your favourite director didn’t release an astonishing film because some executive didn’t put their stamp on it?

Quit waiting for permission. If you’re good at your art, give it to your fans today.


100 stories 100 days

‘Hongi to God’ – flash fiction by Michael Botur

Hongi to God


Leap from your bedroom window. DOOFT. Crush mum’s irises. Creep through the indigo. Avoid street lights, chained dogs. Spot the white exhaust pipe fumes, the red brake light eyes. Sister and her friends with lip rings give you an inch of cramped backseat. The hatchback lurches forward. Scraping springs. Stink of burning vegetables. Crank Tool so loud the speakers crack and rattle.

You will NOT go to that concert.

Park a mile from the gig. Suck stinging bourbon from a hot heavy bottle. Stumble to the entrance. Breathe. Get your shit together. Bouncers part, wave you in. Haul open the heavy fire door. Punched ears. An underground city pressed against the stage. Zion. Maynard screams lyrics you scrawled across your maths book til the white paper went black like a locust swarm. Alex Jones strokes his bass guitar. Earthquake. Avalanche. Spitfire.

You will NOT take part in that so-called crowdsurfing thing. Promise me.

Duck through a minefield of elbows and pocket chains. Everyone is rancid armpits and black wet backs. Tap the shoulder of a mountain-man. Scream, ‘Help me dude, please.’ Step into his cupped hand. Put your fingers on sweaty slippery shoulders. Steam rising from necks and chests and breath. Rainforest. Air raid. Exploding speakers.

Whatever, mum. Okay. Jawohl.

You can’t see your sister up here. She dissolved in 10,000 black t-shirts. You’ll have to walk an hour home. You’ll wake mum as you come in.

You think of her as you swim, nose up, held up like Mum held you on your back in the school pool, ears in the throng, hongi to God.

Northland’s major literary conference, NorthWrite – August 31-September 1, Whangarei

NorthWrite 2019: Expanding Horizons


Conference Overview

NorthWrite 2019 will be held at Barge Showgrounds Events Centre, Whangarei. It will open with a mihi and meet-and-greet event on Friday 30 August. The conference will take place on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September.

Initial registrations are for the full conference only. Day tickets will become available from 1 August. If places are still available for individual sessions towards the end of August, we will announce this shortly before registrations close.

Tickets for the conference dinner on the Saturday evening are discounted if purchased with a full conference ticket. They can be also purchased separately at the full price.

NorthWrite 2019 has been organised into parallel streams, designed to reflect the interests of our writing community. Participants may choose to attend sessions within or across streams when they book for the conference. Presentations, other than masterclasses, are scheduled in 1.5 hour sessions. Masterclasses are 3 hours long, covered over 2 sessions.

NorthWrite 2019 streams

  • Publishing – this stream focuses on information about publishing, with ebook publishing covered on Saturday and print publishing on Sunday.
  • Writing techniques – this stream caters for a range of writers. There are sessions on writing for children, non-fiction, fiction writing and self-editing.
  • Masterclasses – this stream is designed for experienced fiction writers, poets and editors. They have been planned to give experienced writers, poets and editors opportunities to engage in in-depth discussions about their craft. The masterclasses are restricted to a limited number of participants to ensure a high level of engagement.
  • Conversations – this stream provides opportunities for participants to engage in informal discussions on a range of topics pertinent to writers.


Masterclass 1: Editing. This masterclass is limited to 15 participants. It is open to qualified and experienced freelance or in-house editors. This masterclass will be presented by Simon Minto.

Masterclass 2: Novel. This masterclass is limited to 10–12 participants. It is open to writers who are currently working on a novel AND have at least three years of writing study (for example, a Bachelor in Creative Writing or a three-year diploma programme) OR a Masters in Creative Writing OR at least one completed book length work of fiction. Participants’ writing will be workshopped. Full instructions for submitting your sample of your novel will be sent when you book. This masterclass is presented by Catherine Chidgey.

Masterclass 3: Poetry. This masterclass is limited to 15 participants. It is open to writers currently working on poetry who have been published in at least one forum for poetry or short lyrical fiction (such as flash fiction). This masterclass is presented by Harry Ricketts.

Presenter bios are published on here.

Please read the full programme details prior to booking.


All ticket prices include GST. Additional booking fees may apply at the time of registration. If you are registering as a student or NZSA member you must have your id number available when booking.

Early Bird from 1 July

Student Conference only $150
Student Conference plus dinner         $200
NZSA member Conference only         $175
NZSA member Conference plus dinner      $225
Non-member Conference only          $200
Non-member Conference plus dinner        $250
Dinner only               $ 75

Full Price from 1 August

Student Conference only                     $175
Student Conference plus dinner        $225
NZSA member Conference only         $200
NZSA member Conference plus dinner         $250
Non-member Conference only          $220
Non-member Conference plus dinner             $270
Saturday day ticket $150
Sunday day ticket $130
Dinner only            $75

Please check this page for FAQ.

Two new books from Northland writer Susan Edmunds

Two new books from Whangarei writer Susan Edmunds, both released in 2019. 

Starting Out, Starting Over – A single woman’s guide to money in New Zealand 
ISBN 9781869665074
190 pages



Mummy needs a break

Mummy Needs A Break

Coming September 2019

A hilarious story of the ups and downs of unexpected single motherhood, the perfect laugh-out-loud romance for fans of Why Mummy Drinks, The Unmumsy Mum and The Not So Perfect Mum.

ISBN 9780008316099





Susan Edmunds is a senior business journalist who specialises in personal finance issues, writing both long-form and daily news coverage. She started her career as the editor of a university magazine before moving into radio, and finally online news. She enthusiastically ignored all maths classes through secondary school but has since realised that those dreaded numbers make a huge impact on many people’s lives and has developed a close relationship with her calculator.

She is driven by a desire to boost financial literacy and to make as many people as possible – particularly women – realise that it’s not as hard or intimidating as some people might wish it to appear.

She lives with her two small children and accountant husband.



Join Mangawhai Creative Writing Classes This August

Join Mangawhai Creative Writing Classes This August

  • Fiction writing workshops on five Saturdays. 10am-2pm Saturday August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 in the Mangawhai Pioneer Village Theatre (old church in museum park) on Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai

  • Tutor Michael Botur; guest tutor on second Saturday is Fiona Sussman

  • August creative writing classes in Mangawhai – professional tuition with awesome classmates

  • Learn techniques to get your stories together

  • Weekly feedback on what you’ve written

  • Learn many publication options

  • Please register by mid-July – contact Judy Tindill of Silvereye Press, judy@silvereyepress.co.nz / 021 794 394Mangawhai creative writing poster A4 pdf-page-001

Flash fiction writing workshop and reading, Kawakawa June 23



Sunday June 23 is one of the highlights in the literary calendar for Northland each year.

It’s the shortest day of the year so we are celebrating National Flash Fiction Day.

As usual the venue is King’s Theatre Creative, main street in Kawakawa.

  • Learn how to get the best from any piece of flash fiction
  • Meet new writers, gain new connections
  • Perform your work to the public and feel like a rockstar
  • Enjoy presenter Mike Botur’s loud voice and intense stare

DATE: Sunday June 23, 1pm-2pm(workshop) then 2.30-4.00pm (readings)

VENUE: King’s Theatre Creative, 62 Gillies Street, Kawakawa

BRING: Laptop – you’ll be making edits on your story in front of you, so laptop is essential (with lots of battery power!). If not laptop, please print a few copies of the piece you’d like to work on. And ensure you have pen and paper.

COST: $10 – pay cash at the door.


FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/302508347302891/

Focus your flash cut the crap

New books from Northland authors – May/June 2019

The First – the Walsh brothers and the aeroplane days of Edwardian New Zealand.’

by Terry Moyle of Kaiwaka. 

Coming 2019 after four years of work. 

Check out Terry’s fascinating artwork at Contour Creative Studio 

Terry Moyle the First

Terry is also author of:

art deco nz



Also check out this book by Jade Kake, which has been published by Bridget Williams Books:

Rebuilding the Kāinga – Lessons from Te Ao Hurihuri (coming September 2019)

Home can and should be a source of wellbeing, a place that connects us to our whānau, community, land, culture and history.

Pre-nineteenth-century Māori society was complex: rich tribal economies were built and flourished, and there was a focus on valuing the whenua and resources that supported all. The dominant form of settlement and the focal point of social and economic activities were Kāinga (unfortified villages). However, colonial settlement and the discriminatory policies of successive governments disrupted social structures and severed the connections to Kāinga. Today, the home ownership rate for Māori is well below the national average and Māori are over-represented in the statistics of substandard housing.

Rebuilding the Kāinga charts the resurgence of contemporary papakāinga on whenua Māori over the last three decades. Kake draws on innovative international models to sketch out a vision where Māori are supported to build businesses and affordable homes on whānau, hapū or Treaty settlement lands – and describes the policy direction needed to make this a reality.

While you’re waiting on the book, check out Jade’s TEDx talk

Jade Kake


Mouths From The South by Michael Botur

This journalism was published in early 2014 by The Big Idea. Some of the interviewees got mad that they weren’t allowed to control the story. They also decided the story was somehow offensive. Mohamed Hassan, Grace Taylor, Michael Rudd and others began sending abusive messages to me and The Big Idea and succeeded in getting the story taken down. The abuse contained racist undertones. I recall being distraught and feeling like no one in the world supported me -especially when The Big Idea caved in and took down the story.

Lessons to be learned:

  • Ensure you have recordings of everything an interviewee says to you to prevent the interviewee becoming anxious and paranoid and aggressive
  • Have a contract with your publisher to prevent the publisher from taking down a piece in response to pressure, which is a breach of contract
  • If you are being bullied, share the problem widely (I didn’t share the problem and felt like I was on my own)
  • Know that if you treat your interviewees well and write fairly, you have done your job correctly. Anybody who engages in cyberbullying needs to be de-platformed.


Online bullying is not acceptable and I will never bow to it or be intimidated into not publishing a piece of writing. – Michael Botur

Mouths From The South 

by Michael Botur


Three of New Zealand’s best-known poets – all Polynesian, and all women – were sent to London as poetic ambassadors for the Cultural Olympiad of 2012.  Out of the fraction of poets who manage to get published on paper, some have only been accepted by publishers in distant Pacific countries. Some Aussie slam poets are bypassing the university scene and heading straight for Manukau, where the poetry is distinguished by international connections, media innovation, and a moral puritanism.

Poets from Penrose to Papakura are stamping the South Auckland style from Adelaide to New York. Here’s how it happened. 

Mohamed Hassan rocks the mic at Youthline, Papatoetoe

Mohamed Hassan rocks the mic at Youthline, Papatoetoe

The South shall rise again

The South Auckland Poets Collective (SAPC) was founded in 2008 by Daren Kamali (Wallis and Futuna / Fiji) and Grace Taylor (England / Samoa.) The couple now run Niu Navigations, a company promoting Aotearoa and Pacific poetry. NN builds upon Kamali’s success (at least according to what’s written online) as a Fulbright scholar, Creative NZ Pacific Writer in Residence, and NZ rep at Solomon Islands and Palau festivals. Kamali has published books which sell at the University of the South Pacific. Taylor, too, has found her first publication far away, in Hawaii, where the New Oceania Reading Series called ‘Native Voices’ demonstrates a world view that puts Polynesia first.  

Conscientiousness is what it’s all about. NN helped organised our nation’s first poetry slam for deaf people; Maryanne Pale (Tonga) used poets to fundraise over $8000 for wounded Tonga following January’s Category 5 Cyclone Ian.

At the February 13 Tonga fundraiser, Pale told me how South Auckland poetry stands out from central Auckland’s stalwart Poetry Live. “Our stories come from different upbringings. With my poetry I include Tongan language and singing. Most of my poems are stories.” South Auckland poets typically memorise all of their work, incorporate song and dance, and they embrace multimedia: YouTube is littered with SAPC workshops, performances, and lectures; Taylor and SAPC poets did a TEDx talk in 2013; Pale runs CreativeTalanoa.com; Doug Poole (Samoa / Europe) runs a website which frequently publishes poetry about Pacific cultures, and he organised the POLYNATION performance poetry show in Queensland. That’s just the tip of the ice berg, with dozens of South Auckland poets running blogs and websites, posting videos online, touring shows across the country and fighting to represent the south at nationwide poetry slams. 

Maryanne Pale Pacific-focused poetry

Maryanne Pale: Pacific-focused poetry

South styles

South Auckland poetry is distinguished by a concern for sister nations in the Pacific, an obsession with ethnicity and otherness, and a moral puritanism which may be attributable to Grace Taylor’s influence (she is a Youthline social worker; Youthline hosts some Stand Up Poetry readings.) The south style could be because of the significant role of the church in the lives of most Pacific Islanders. 

“Out south, it’s much more influenced by communal living and personal identity,” says Rewa Worley, who is an associate of SAPC on top of founding Wax Poetic Revival as well as Nova Riche. “Out south there is a lot more poetry that involves God and prayer, purely because it’s pacific. At  Poetry Live, there is a different demographic who have different social norms. I feel some PL poetry isn’t accessible. In the SA context there are some things that can’t be talked about. Out west I saw one poet whose whole poem was about her pussy. It was awkward. I don’t understand why someone would share that.” 

Southmouth slam champs L-R Marina Alefosio, Rewa Worley and Mohamed Hassan

Southmouth slam champs L-R Marina Alefosio, Rewa Worley and Mohamed Hassan

He’d be more shocked if he knew that many Palagi poets look up to fascists (Ezra Pound), junkies (Jim Carroll) and hoboes (James K Baxter.) Alcohol is available at almost any poetry event in Auckland – except out south, where prohibition pervades. 

Poet Maryanne Pale says “I’ve never associated poetry with drink and drugs, not with the poets I’ve been around. A typical hangout period is exercise, coffee and going for walks.” Their alcohol and drug-free, council-endorsed and family-friendly events might not have enough street cred for Poetry Live acolytes, whose midnight readings on K Road are often accompanied by prostitutes and drunks making noise on the street outside. 

Worley’s part of a generation who believe that YouTube represents what poetry is. “Getting published is a goal, but the urge to take the stage and propagate spoken poetry is what I’m more driven towards. I don’t look up written poetry on websites, it’s definitely more YouTube.” None of the influential poets he lists are long-dead British men; instead, most are people aged in their 20s on the South Auckland circuit. “Basically everyone in Wax Poetic came to poetry through Grace Taylor.”

“I would love to build up a new poetry scene on the North Shore, but it’s difficult, partly due to demographics. The community is stronger out south. Stand Up Poetry isn’t perfect, but it’s continually encouraging, and the people there feel you, encourage you, and look like you: they’re young brown kids.”  

American Nesian

Pale had ideas about why the preoccupation with ethnic identity occurs more in the South Auckland scene than the very active poetry gatherings in west and central Auckland. “The commonality here is being proud of where we come from. Some of us are first NZ born in our families. Our European friends could be different.”

Getting published takes a backseat to proclaiming personal identity out here, where few poems performed use stanza, metre or stress. Unstructured personal commentaries full of I, me and myself are aired, punctuated by dramatic pauses and breaks for laughter after in-jokes. If the Manukau Institute of Technology’s creative writing classes have influenced these poets, it may mean MIT’s teachers are inventing their own rules for poetry.  

SUP is hosted by Youthline. Performers typically emulate Def Poetry Jam, whether they realise it or not. The February SUP reading I attended was a sea of backwards caps with gold stickers on them in a shiny café serving non-alcoholic drinks. Many poets read off iPads and cellphones, the musical interlude was hip hop beats spun by a real DJ, they rapped in American accents, their words dwelled on their skin colour while people in the audience clicked their fingers like jazzy beatniks.   

Mandatory caps Start Up Poetry (SUP) at Youthline, Papatoetoe

Mandatory caps: Start Up Poetry (SUP) at Youthline, Papatoetoe

The SAPC was clearly right at home when it made a pilgrimage to the Nuyorican Poets Café in 2012. The café had influenced Def Poetry, which had itself ripped off Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets, all of who helped hip hop emerge as a distinct genre.

Pale sends me YouTube links showing her influences, instead of lending me a book. The YouTube vids show poets talking only about themselves, rejecting traditional poetic structure, and all the poets have American accents. Her biggest influences all work in English, but none of them are European. There’s Luka Lesson (Greek Australian rapping poet), Lemon Andersen (American ex- con playwright) and Pacific Tongue (Hawaiian youths concerned about the marginalisation of Polynesian culture in Hawaii.) The Pacific Tongue influence is hardly surprising – Hawaii is where Americana means Pasifika.  

Matua mentoring

Karlo Mila (Tonga) represented Tonga at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in the United Kingdom, alongside Tusiata Avia (Samoa) and Selina Tusitala Marsh (Tuvalu.) While Mila wasn’t the first P.I. writer in New Zealand, her antecedents spent decades in solitude before a wave of Pacific writing emerged after the year 2000. “Albert Wendt was on his own for a very long time. Pasifika poetry is still quite strongly characterised by women, although there are still Doug Poole and Daren Kamali around. You also had Oscar Kightley and bro’Town at the same time. The guys were writing plays, the women were writing poetry.”

Pacific pathfinder Poet Dr Karlo Mila

Pacific pathfinder: Poet Dr Karlo Mila

“There were Pacific women poets” who were around before me, like Konai Helu, Momoe Von Reiche, Sia Figiel the novelist, my first book contributed to this genealogy of poets. They were influenced by Maori poets such as J. C. Sturm. Tusiata and Selina were published around the same time. There was a clear next wave of us mentored by Albert. He was our matua.”  

She says the Maori publisher Huia “deliberately hunted” Pacific work around 2000. Before Huia’s efforts, Pacific material was considered exotic by editors.

“The current crop of university press editors publish what they deem to be familiar to themselves. Selina Tusitala Marsh talked to the Auckland University Press publisher who didn’t understand Konai Helu Thaman’s poetry. There were different metaphors and ideas in it.” Today Polynesians are nothing unusual in the written world. “It’s easier for a publisher to relate to our poetry now as it is grounded in an NZ experience.”  

She handed down her expertise to the next wave of Pasifika poets who emerged a decade after Avia, Marsh and herself, copy-editing their work or including them in anthologies. Mila says the SAPC isn’t just some inevitable cultural phenomenon. “It’s largely because of the work Grace has done.” 

Poet Zach Soakai performs at the Help Ha’apai Relief Fundraiser, February 13, Otahuhu

Poet Zach Soakai performs at the Help Ha’apai Relief Fundraiser, February 13, Otahuhu

National Flash Fiction Day – Northland – Workshop and Flash Readings – All welcome

National Flash Fiction Day – Northland 

Date: Sunday 23 June 2019 
Time: 1–4pm
Location: King’s Theatre, 62 Gillies Street, Kawakawa

The event will start with a workshop, followed by afternoon tea and a public reading of flash fiction, including NFFD winning entries and Northland’s winning entry.

This year our annual flash-fiction workshop will be presented by Northland writer, Michael Botur. Michael is the author of five short-story collections. He was placed second in the 2019 North & South Short Short Story Competition and is a past winner of the Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Competition.

Focus Your Flash – Cut The Crap

Participants are asked to bring a prepared draft of their story, on a laptop if possible. During the workshop, writers will identify the anchor, heart, or core of the message in one flash story. They’ll also condense their story into an ‘elevator pitch’ that will help keep the story focused on what matters and sharpen the significance of each of the chosen 300 words.

Questions and whatnot – kderrick@xtra.co.nz or  mike@michaelboturwriter.com