How can we help you achieve your dreams this year?

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

Our new blog series, The Hidden Secrets of Writing, will, we hope, inspire you. In this series, we showcase the books – there are over 50 of them – which have been published by past participants of our Creative Writing Course over the 15 years we’ve been in existence.

Just like you, they wanted to write, and came to us for help. And they achieved that elusive prize. So, yes, it can be done. Never give up.

We intended this blog series to give you more than inspiration – we mean it to provide value. Why have these books succeeded? What is it about them that works? In each blog, we provide writing tips on the strength of the extracts we showcase.

The range of books is wide, and includes fiction and non-fiction but, if I can sum up just some of the qualities we’ve noticed: a compelling writer’s voice and, in fiction, strong voices for different characters.

We’ve pointed out skilled use of details which immerse us in a time and place, while showing us more about what and who is observed, as well as the observer.

Scenes, which start directly in the action and leave us wanting more, surprising and humorous dialogue and a focus on “showing”, rather than explaining to the reader – these are just some of the aspects, which made these books stand out.

You can read all our blogs here. And we hope you’ll read the books too.

Last minute spaces and early bird specials

Our February real-time Creative Writing Course is full. Our next will run in June. Take advantage of a significant early bird discount if you sign up now.

There is still space on our online version of Creative Writing so if you don’t want to wait until mid-year, you can start today.

You can also join our Writers’ circle to experience the on-going support and companionship of a like-minded international writing communit. Join today and attend our next monthly meeting on 14 February.

For one week only we are also offering a massive 20% discount on our Crash Course in Screenwriting, starting 27 February. This ten-module  introduction to the skills required to write a screenplay or a television script will in fact serve all writers, whether for the screen or page, well. Sign up now to take advantage of the discount ending 16 February.

One month in and you’re already tired – time to plan a (writing) holiday

No need to feel guilty. Research has shown that you need time away from the pressures of your life to exercise your creativity. It’s good for you (and, I bet, for those around you). And if you have something to look forward to, you’ll feel invigorated.

Croatia in Spring. Need I say more?

The retreat runs from 13 to 20 and/or 20 to 27 May 2023.

The region of Istria will embed you in a history that stretches back thousands of years, but you’ll be staying in a luxury villa.

After the morning workshop, we’ll invite you to write, and book us for one-on-one sessions. Every second afternoon, you can write, or walk and swim around the hamlet of Rebici. Every other afternoon, though, we hope you’ll join us on a series of outings: to a tasting of local Istrian wines; to Pula, which boasts the most complete Roman amphitheatre in the world – and a literary memorial commemorating James Joyce’s visit, when dreams of Ulysses were swirling in his mind; to the medieval hilltop village of Labin; to the gorgeous seaside town of Rovinj, celebrated for its seafood restaurants and cobbled streets, just to mention a few.

Who needs it? Well … who doesn’t? Our retreats are for anyone who fancies time away in a creative and supportive environment, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer.

Then there’s our now-famous Venice in Autumn retreat experience, which has been running for six years now. Book early, though. Many of our Venice habitues return year after year.

You are welcome to sign up for one week or two – from 10 to 17 October and/or 18 to 25 October.

Each morning starts with a group discussion, after which your time is your own. Every day, you can book one-on-one time – to talk about your project or get constructive feedback.

Here’s a link to a video, which gives you an idea of Ca’ della Corte, a 16th century palazzo which has been comfortably renovated, but retains the essential flavour of Venice. Every air-conditioned bedroom either looks out on its own courtyard, or offers a peek into the neighbourhood.

Who needs it? Anyone who never has time for anything, whose life is

not their own, who craves time to create, think, dream and explore.

And for those of you who can’t stray too far, here’s something closer to home.

For our UK community, our annual Stow weekend, provides the gift of creative time, either to advance an on-going project, or simply to practise your craft and receive down-to-earth advice on writing well.

For three castaway days in Stow-on-the Wold, 21 to 23 April, you can call on your expert guide, Richard Beynon, for guidance and feedback. And you’ll be able to walk and think, and experience life in a historic English market town.

Who needs it? Anyone who needs a boost, hopes to break a writing block or advance their writing skills … or who simply wants to spend a tranquil weekend working on a project close to their hearts.

Our South African community can escape to the Karoo, to spend either a weekend – or a full week – in the comfort of the beautifully restored Karoo Art Hotel in Barrydale.

The weekend, from 14 to 16 April, offers a workshop on the basic building blocks of memoir writing with the two Joannes (Joanne Hichens and me, Jo-Anne Richards). The week, which runs from 16 to 21 April, will allow you to work on any writing project, with one-on-one advice and feedback.

No one could fail to be inspired by the wild landscape and historic Tradouw Pass. And this year, we’re offering a special treat: a guest appearance and talk by Sally Andrew, who has achieved such success with her Tannie Maria mysteries, now a popular TV series. Sally has recently turned her hand to memoir writing as well.

Who needs it? Let’s face it: life is stressful. Join a like-minded group, who want to release their tension, leave their daily lives behind and concentrate on their writing. Anyone who would like to start a memoir but isn’t sure how. Or anyone who would like the time and space to get on with a writing project, under the guidance of experienced writing mentors.

Community news – comedy time

Penny Castle, who has attended both our Venice and Croatian retreats, and our Hero’s Journey and Scriptwriting courses, has started using her story-telling skills to make people laugh. Now a bona fide comedian in London, she has had 22 successful performances – and is loving it.

Watch out for our blog on her exploits, which will appear soon. And follow her on Instagram to see where she’ll be performing next. If you can’t make it to one of her London performances, then check out her amusing book, Cultivating Happiness: How I Tried (and Failed) to Implement Self-Help Strategies and Accidentally got Happier.

Richard collaborates on an inspirational self-help guide

Richard has collaborated with business guru Patrick Mork in writing a self-help book called Step Back and Leap: 9 Keys to Unlock Your Life and Make Sh*t Happen. Out on Amazon, hard copies are due later in the year. Readers are responding positively to the book. Here’s one, from a leading European business and life coach:

“I am a rebel, an outlier, a rule-breaker, and I absolutely LOVED the book… It helped me to revisit some essential topics of how to live one’s best life, all the while embracing imperfections and framing “failure” as learning… The sustained narrative, of both your life and your career, moved me to tears on several occasions. If this book does not inspire others to live better, be better, lead better and just generally work harder on themselves, then nothing else will.”

Another wrote: “I read your book over the weekend and I found it a fascinating (and unexpected) marriage of memoir and business. Sometimes I was so absorbed in the narrative that I forgot the book had a business purpose, and then you would insert a pithy quote, an apropos reference, or an on-point exercise that grounded me in the lesson!”

“It was an exhilarating experience,” says Richard, “taking Patrick’s life story and shaping and dramatizing it to illustrate key lessons we believe could help to transform people’s lives.”

So … the year has just started and there’s so much still to do. Stick around for inspiration and companionship on your writing journey and … book a writing holiday. There’s no motivation like reward, and it’s always important to have something to look forward to.

Happy writing,


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