How we can help you, community successes, writing challenge results – and the new challenge

 In Newsletters

It’s what we hear most often from people who seek our help: they need to develop a daily habit of writing, and they want our support and mentoring in doing so.

That’s our aim over the next few months – to get you writing, and writing confidently. Twenty-nine published books have emerged from our programmes over the past five years. Each required a dogged effort, even when it was hard.

With this in mind, here are our offerings, which are designed to help you achieve your goals and make your dreams come true.

Our Weekend Writing Retreat in McGregor in the Western Cape offers you a release from the demands of life – along with the space and support to attend to your creative self. If you’ve ever been to Temenos, you’ll know that, from the moment you arrive on Friday, you’ll enter another world, a more serene space punctuated by the call of peacocks and infused with the scent of herbs.

From March 24 to 26, we’ll provide twice-daily talks on aspects of writing, as well as intensive mentoring in daily one-on-one sessions. If you don’t have a specific project to work on, we’ll give you creative exercises to inspire and get you writing.

The ultimate in creative adventures has to be our Venice Writing Retreat. Spend a week with us, from September 6, in one of the most romantic cities in the world, where writers as diverse as Casanova, Voltaire and Byron, Hemingway, Daphne du Maurier, Donna Leon and Ian McEwan have come for inspiration.

Experience living and writing in the frescoed halls of Palazzo Albrizzi. Glance through your window at a quiet canal or a residential square where the nuns bring the children out to play.

After a leisurely Venetian breakfast, we offer a session on aspects of writing, led by the two of us, or travel and non-fiction specialist, Fred de Vries. Daily one-on-one sessions will provide intensive mentoring or the chance to brain-storm a new idea. To those who don’t have an existing project, we offer daily creative exercises with feedback.

For further adventure, Fred will lead a group of intrepid would-be travel writers on a day-long expedition to a mystery destination, and provide mentoring and feedback on the creative results.

Book soon. It’s filling up fast.

My Cape Town Creative Saturday on April 1 adds a creative top-up to a busy schedule. Held in the Italianate Casa Labia in Muizenberg, it provides an inspiring morning, with waves as the soundtrack to creative endeavour. As well as breakfast and chat with like-minded souls, you’ll get the chance to write and receive personal feedback.   

And of course our 30-Day Writing Workout (2 to 31May) is the ultimate spur to developing a daily habit of writing.

So, on to our Community News:

Richard and Trish attended the launch of our very own mentoring graduate Tracy Todd’s book, Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon in Mbombela in February.

Her story, unflinchingly told, has captured hearts all over the world.

We’re happy to report that the Buffalo Court outside Exclusive Books in Mbombela overflowed and an unprecedented 240 books were sold. Both Richard and Trish reported that the launch affected them deeply.

“It was the biggest launch we’ve ever attended,” said Richard. “It was an enthusiastic crowd, and all the books sold were imprinted with Tracy’s cupid’s bow kiss. Tracy spoke movingly about the hundreds of people who have joined her on her journey – and Bruce Fordyce, Comrades champion gave an animated and humorous address.”

The launch was the culmination of an odyssey lasting years. Tracy had her neck broken in a motor car accident twenty years ago – and has spent the last few years writing the story of her ordeal and her ultimately triumphant fight for independence. She funded the publication of her book through a highly successful crowd-funding campaign.

Here are some links to an article and a podcast, plus a moving video from Tracy’s recent wedding to the man of her dreams.

Former Creative Writing participant, Angela Meadon has produced a brand new story about love, Her Harlequin Baby.

When Genna welcomes her son into the world she is stricken by his appearance. All the nurses in her small-town hospital are convinced he is cursed. How far will she go to spare him suffering?

Lucky in love and in writing, our competition winners:

We received a deluge of entries from those with love and writing on their minds this February. We asked for a love story in 140 characters – perfect for tweeting about love in a time of global division.

Our winner, who will receive a book token from the independent bookshop of her choice, is Penny Castle, for her poignant love story. Our two runners-up are Florence Onyango and Jane Meenehan. Congratulations. All three intrigued, moved and delighted us, which is what the best stories should do.

We’ll be tweeting the winning entries from @allabtwriting.

For our March writing challenge, Tracy Todd has kindly donated a copy of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon as a prize. In honour of her brave personal story, we’ve decided to focus this month’s competition on memoir.

We’d like you to think back to childhood (which includes anything up to about 18). Write a scene which has proved to be important or even pivotal in your life. Don’t explain it to us. Drop us into the moment so that we can hear what was said, see, feel and smell what you could, and understand how you felt.

Write no more than 250 words. As usual, paste your entry into the body of an email and send it to by midnight on 30 April.

Here are some writing tips, which should help you with our challenge.

  • Just because a story is true, doesn’t mean you can get away with writing a dull scene with no drama.
  • In every scene, you will want something badly and face an obstacle that must be overcome.
  • Start at a dramatic point and don’t allow the scene to trickle away at the end.
  • In a full scene, you have at your disposal dialogue (if at least two people are present), as well as details of the environment, body language, scraps of thought as well as action.
  • If the main thrust of the scene is contained in a conversation, you should nonetheless try to recreate what the characters were doing while speaking, as well as aspects of body language and how you felt from the inside.

That’s all from us this month.

Warm regards,


Upcoming courses

Weekend Retreat, Temenos, McGregor – 24 to 26 March

Creative Saturday, Muizenberg, Cape Town – 1 April

30-Day Writing Workout, online – 2 to 31 May

Click here for a complete list of our 2017 courses

Click here for all our latest blogs: Monday Motivations, Author Q&As, Writing Competitions and Newsletters


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