Free Mentoring Opportunity – c/d 31st October 2019

Hello! It’s the first day of autumn (and, typically, it’s been raining here for most of the day, so it really does feel like the end of summer). It’s also Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday! And if that doesn’t make you feel old, nothing will.

Novel Mentoring:

Here’s a great opportunity for some free mentoring from novelist, tutor and RNA Chairwoman, Alison May – if you fit the criteria! Read carefully and, if you do, apply here by 31st October! Good luck.


My article writing course has arrived from the Writers Bureau! Exciting! (And yet another excuse to neglect The Novel, while I tinker about with non-fiction and attempt my first assignment).

I also have a story in the current issue of People’s Friend. I called it ‘Girls’ Holiday’, they’ve called it ‘A Hasty Departure’ and it has a very nice illustration:

I was also the winner of this month’s Writers Forum’s ‘Flash Comp’.

Every month, the WF editor sets a competition with a tight deadline (usually just a couple of weeks). It’s different every time but last month you had to write a 500 (max) word story about the last day of a holiday fling, written in close third person.

I am a firm believer that, when it comes to competitions, if you stick to the rules, you’re always in with a shout because so many people flout them! (Or at least, just fail to read the rules properly). For this competition, the editor admitted he had to ‘reject many entries for breaking the rules’. Over a third of the entries were written in the first person (‘I/me’) rather than third person. So, it was probably the case that my story wasn’t the best submitted BUT I followed the rules.

It’s always worth checking the rules another two or three times before you press send on your entry for a competition. It could be the difference between winning or disqualification.


Today, I’ve been teaching. I was asked to take 2 x 2 hour creative writing classes in Chipping Norton, as their usual tutor was unable to be there. It was fun – they were two great groups and I’m seeing them again in a fortnight’s time – but phew, I’m whacked!

One of the topics we talked about today was titles (eek… a humungous spider has just run across the kitchen floor!). It’s not easy to choose a title, is it? (I’m often stuck for a blog post title!) Too obvious and it gives the game away; too dull and you might as well not bother.

Starting with a title can help. Sometimes titles of songs can act as a trigger for a story or a poem (there’s no copyright on titles, either!). Here‘s a list of Bruce Springsteen’s songs. Maybe one of these will give you an idea for a piece of writing? (‘Queen of the Supermarket’, anyone?!)


I haven’t got around to reading The Handmaid’s Tale or The Testaments yet because I’ve been reading Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers. It’s had mixed reviews (so many people seem to hate it!) but I loved it. I’d been looking forward to reading it all summer and it didn’t disappoint. Anyone else read it? What did you think?

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4 Responses to Free Mentoring Opportunity – c/d 31st October 2019

  1. Christine Cherry says:

    I ‘ve also recently read ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ – well into the wee small hours some nights because I seem to have become addicted to Liane Moriarty recently . I’ve now worked my way through Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret and Truly Madly Guilty too. I had expected to enjoy them as a quick summer read, but I’ve found them very compelling, dark and bitingly funny at times, as well as excruciatingly painful in other ways. Definitely a memorable reading experience for me….( and I’m very glad I stopped to pick her up from a hospital book trolley in the first place…)

  2. Kate Hogan says:

    Well done on your writing competition and PF story, Helen – well deserved, I’m sure. Thanks for all your sharing, too. Good wishes. Kate Hogan.

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