May newsletter: Let’s hear it for our community

 In All About Writing, How to write a book, Newsletters

Let’s hear it for our community

We’d like to take a moment to applaud you, the talented writers who make up our community.

We’d like to celebrate your achievements and, in so doing, encourage those who are just starting out. Even if you haven’t shared your news with us, now is the time to pause and enjoy your successes, whether you’ve started on a story or written an excellent paragraph.

If you haven’t got going yet, bask a little in being part of the All About Writing family. You’ve joined a supportive writing group, which is an excellent first step. Allow a little of your fellow writers’ achievements to rub off on you.

Use this news as the boost you need – before the close of another year

If you’re not included below, use the news of your fellow travellers as proof that it can be done. And pay attention to your dreams before another year ends.

If you need a boost – as most of us do – here’s how we can help.

Two versions of our famous Creative Writing Course will launch in June. This is the very best thing you could do for your writing. It will provide you with the practical skills you need, encourage you, and get you writing confidently in scenes. The course is suitable for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction, absolute beginners and more experienced writers wanting to improve.

The exclusive live version starts on 7 June. You’ll learn in real time on Monday and Thursday evenings for five weeks. If you’re keen, book now. We only take eight participants and it’s filling up fast. You can enroll via our UK shop or our South African shop.

The online version means working at your own pace through modules released over ten weeks, with three live sessions to clarify points and allow you to ask questions. It will begin on 21 June. Enroll via our UK shop or our South African shop.

No matter what form your creativity takes, our Hero’s Journey Course will provide direction and inspiration. Here’s what Richard has to say about the Hero’s Journey:

“The HJ is, without question, one of the most valuable guides to story structure ever devised. It consists of a series of insights into both story and character that will help you shape your story for dramatic effect, and build characters that are both compelling and believable. It doesn’t matter what you’re working on – novel, memoir, short story or screenplay – the Hero’s Journey is an absolutely key resources.”

Want to know more? Sign up for our free introduction to the Hero’s Journey here.

If you’re keen to write for the screen, our ten-module Screenwriting Crash Course will teach you the essential skills required to write for film or television. Our two award-winning screenwriters will offer an exhilarating introduction to the craft over five weeks, starting on 5 July.

Whatever your aspirations, may your writing dreams come true. Make a start on them before another year flies past.

Take advantage of our May early bird specials of less 20% if you book and pay for any of these four courses by midnight on 31 May. Use the voucher code mayearlybird in either our UK shop or our South African shop.

And now, over to you and your news and achievements

Firstly, two of our tutors have been very busy. Joanne Hichens, saw her memoir Death and the Afterparties (Karavan Press) longlisted for the Sunday Times/CNA Literary Award for non-fiction. An exploration of loss and grief, her story appeared last year and has already been reprinted. She will be co-hosting a free memoir webinar with us on 9 June and a memoir workshop on 19 June.

Fred de Vries, our resident blog and travel writing trainer, has just released his seventh book, Blues for the White Man, an exploration of race and its meaning, through the music of the deep south of America and South Africa. First released in Dutch, this book has now been published in English by Penguin Random House. It is available online and in bookshops in South Africa and, from June, will be available internationally through Amazon.

We’re also proud to announce that the novels of two former Creative Writing participants were longlisted for the Sunday Times/CNA Literary Award for fiction: Ekow Duker for his novel Yellowbone, and Lynn Joffe, who had this to say:

“My debut novel, The Gospel According to Wanda B Lazarus has been longlisted for the above award. The book was written as part of an MA in Creative Writing at Wits. I graduated in 2017 cum laude. The novel has been endorsed by Stephen Fry … You started me on this journey.”

We have a great deal of exciting news from other members of our community, which I thought you’d enjoy hearing in their own words. Here we go:

Lisa-Anne Julien: I’m thrilled to announce that my first full-length novel, If You Save Me, will hit the shelves July/August 2021.

Published by Kwela Books, my novel spans three countries, weaving together the lives of five main characters in an attempt at personal redemption.

I’m forever grateful to All About Writing mentoring which, over the years, allowed my imagination to run wild while still keeping me grounded, motivated and dreaming.

Eva Mazza: This month sees the release of Christine which I started in a Masterclass and worked further with Richard in Venice a few years back.

So excited that it finally gets to be published after being on the back burner thanks to Sex, Lies & Stellenbosch. Incidentally, Penny (a fellow AAW writer) as well as Richard and Jo-Anne allowed me to bounce ideas off them for my pitch to Jacana.

If you buy my book, you do stand a chance to win a flight to Amsterdam in 2022 (Covid be gone) so keep your till slips if you purchase a copy and submit to win[at] It’s an easy read, and I think we could all do with ‘easy’ right now. Keep safe and masked kisses to the All About Writing family.

Sal Carter: I finally plucked up the courage to submit my memoir (some of you might remember reading parts of it over the years as J an R guided me through it) to two publishers

First came the impersonal reply thanking me for the submission but warning me that it would take at least three months for them to make a decision. I waited with bated breath. Then came the inevitable answer… thank you, but we will not be publishing your work. Here is a list of other publishers you might try.

Not a chance, I’m not going through that again. However, I don’t want two years’ worth of sweat and tears (and a lot of fun I must admit) to go to waste so I’m going to go through the self-publishing route.

Mandy Hackland: I completed the fourth and final novel in my series God’s People in mid-2019. The series imagines the lives of ordinary people in the time of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and their encounters with God and later Jesus. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my cover design for the fourth book was not complete before the Covid lock-down in March 2020.

I do not write for profit but rather to spread my stories. So, with no cover, no face-to-face marketing possibilities, I decided to serialise it on my blog Discovering the Rainbows. As a result, Forerunners has been read in approximately 50 different countries around the world.

Writing for fun about stories I hold in high esteem has been a joy for me. Imagining them being read worldwide has brought me great satisfaction. I intend to serialise the first of the series, Witnesses, within the next couple of months.

Here’s some blog news, firstly from Merle Grace: Following All About Writing’s travel blogging course, I started blogging late 2020. It’s all about travel when you can’t, food, being together, love and going beyond. It’s also about making do. My blog is called Eating is Believing.

I’ve also started writing for an Australian company that celebrates all things chilli, One Hot Chilli Mama.

Charisse Louw also blogs about motherhood and travel. 

Anne-Marie Moore, as usual, has a very busy writing schedule:

I continue with writing practice almost daily and have a space where and friend and I write in our ‘Cyber Coffee Cafe’ once a week. We each set prompts and write and listen in turn. Such a good way to ‘keep going’.

Sam Leyton Matthews and I have a blog together where we write almost alternately which again gives us creative space.

I continue with my poetry writing and love the space which few words allows me to move into.

This past year has been a wonderful time to clear my mind to make space for writing, creativity and drawers that need tidying.

Unveiling the winners of our February/March Flash Fiction Challenge

In this celebratory edition of our newsletter, I’m happy to announce more successful writing.  To our winners, below, we’d love to see your excellent first paragraphs grow into fully-fledged books. Allow us to follow your progress please. Keep in touch.

This challenge – to write an intriguing opening to a novel – wrung a wonderful response from you, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Vying for top position are two entries that would have me itching to turn the page. That’s what intrigue does: it creates suspense and raises our curiosity to unbearable levels.

After much debate, we decided to award the laurels to Kate Davy, for her chilling and deliciously ambiguous entry.

Second by a whisker is the shocker penned by Bonnie Espie. On another day, Bonnie, you might well have emerged top of the pile.

In a different genre entirely comes Azeeza Rawat’s opening. It works thanks to the accumulating power of detail.

Tariq Fensham’s opening hints at an entire dystopian world that any reader would want to find out more about.

Bindi Davies’s opening stanza is reminiscent of more than one of Ian Rankin’s murder mysteries: it, too, starts with the discovery of a body, and a scream, and is very nicely done.

Mitzi Bunce-van Rooyen launches her novel with an intriguing discussion of something a character’s done that’s likely to provoke a dozen water cooler conversations – without identifying what his offense was.

And we can’t help mentioning a squad of other entries, each of which intrigues and draws us in to the stories to follow. Congratulations to Joanna Pickering, Charlee, Angela Pelobello, Carol Walljee, Amy Wilkes and Caroline Harmer.

Kate Davy wins a literary assessment on 5000 words of writing worth R2750 / £150 or a voucher to the same value to use on one of our courses or programmes.

Read the winning entries here, and check out our April/May challenge – currently open for entries! – here.

Warm regards,

Jo-Anne and Team All About Writing

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