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Calendar of upcoming events

25th March: Vashti Hardy workshop on Inciting Incidents (Hub members)
30th March: Beyond-The-Agent Chat with Patrice Lawrence (Hub members)
31st March: PitchHero deadline (for Hub members)
31st March: Clare Helen Welsh PB 4 spread workshop (Hub members)

12-14th April: Mentor chats on Twitter
15-16th April: Mentee application window open

19th April: Flash/Short Story deadlines
19th April: 12 week courses with Maz Evans and Lauren James begin
19th April: Preparing for Submission with Aisha Bushby begins
27th April: WriteWords with Lindsay Galvin begins
30th April: Mentor-Mentee announcement
1st May: #WMPitch

May 16th: Novel-in-Development Award closes for entries

Podcast Release

We reached more than 100 downloads for our first episode last week! 

Episode 1 is an introductory episode, with Stuart and Florianne discusses the aims of the podcast, who it differentiates from others, and discuss their own writing processes and experiences.

Future episodes will feature authors, primarily, but also other industry professionals from the children's writing community, who will provide a deeper and more insightful look at our craft.

The podcast is available to download/subscribe from all the major placesSpotify/Amazon/ iTunes and the rest.

Our podcast page on the website is here.

You can also view our podcast - yes, Stuart's big melon head in full HD glory! - on YouTube if you prefer to see the discussions. We also have closed captions/transcript available for those in our community with hearing difficulties via the YouTube videos.

We will be announcing new guests and episodes very soon.
Episode 1 - A New Hope

Community Learning Hub

We are now officially open! We are already getting stuck into wonderful craft videos from our Writers in Residence, Clare Helen Welsh and Vashti Hardy and set up our online critique groups (which you can join any time).

PitchHero - pitching contest judged by agent Christabel McKinley (open to all Hub members)

Beyond-the-Agent - regulars chats with published authors and industry professionals on life beyond securing an agent (open to all Hub members) - 29th March with Patrice Lawrence

There's so much to be gained from the Learning Hub (and we haven't even mentioned our extensive library of Hub Modules!)

Come join us; writing can be lonely, but it doesn't need to be.

More information on the hub here

Online Courses

We have a new page for all our online courses! 

We hope it's much easier to navigate now. Read below to see how you can be the very first to sign up for newly published courses.


Next course starts 19th April 2021

Price: £600 (with £60 deposit)


Next course starts 19th April 2021

Price: £600 (with £60 deposit)

Dates: Tuesday 27th April – Tuesday 25th May 2021 (8-9pm)
Price: £79

Starts: Monday 19th April 2021 (8-9pm)
With agent Lucy Irvine
Price: £120

Children's Novel-In-Development Award

Entries are open until 16th May, 2021.

Read more about the award and it's eligibility criteria and rules here.

WriteMentor Magazine Issue 5 is on sale!

Elle McNicoll
Genevieve Herr

Nizrana Farook
C.G. Moore
Hannah Gold

…Why critique groups are important for writers
…The witticisms of our Honest Writer
…The winning entries for our flash fiction and short story competitions under the theme of New Beginnings
…Your recent writing achievements.

Buy here.

Flash/Short Story Competitions

Other Opportunities

Spark Mentoring

WriteMentor Spark is a monthly, online one-to-one mentoring service. Working with a children’s author, you will receive ongoing developmental editing, writing advice, publishing insights, and direct feedback on your manuscript to help you elevate your writing craft to the next level.

Spark Mentoring is always available if you need extra help or support each month.

Spark mentor Emma Read has offered to give ongoing free critiques to BAME writers - one free package per month of synopsis and 1st page.
Sign up here and she will work through the list, at a rate of 1 a month, so the quicker you sign up, the quicker you'll get some feedback.
Quick Spark editing is available for all ms from PB to YA.

Check out this superb post from Emma Finlayson-Palmer and Carolyn Ward on what to expect from Quick Spark here.
A fantastic opportunity with this long running novel competition run by Chicken House Books. They are looking for completed manuscripts and it's £18 to enter.

The competition will close for entries on 14 May 2021 at 11.59pm GMT.

For more details and to enter, look here:
The Jericho Prize for children’s writing, open to Black-British writers with great stories to inspire children aged 4 years plus and 7–9.

Open for submissions 2 August 2021.


We're looking for manuscripts aimed at young readers and your work must fit into one of these two categories:

1. A picture book for 4 years plus. No more than 800 words OR

2. A short chapter book for the 7–9 age range between 10,000–15,000 words

All manuscripts must feature a Black or mixed-Black main character. (Read our FAQs for more guidance.)

The prize

The winner of each category will receive:

After that, if you manage to publish your book you'll also receive:

  • A listing with inclusive-led bookshop Round Table Books in their physical and online stores

  • A book review published on Candid Cocoa plus six month's promotion on Candid Cocoa's social media

We also have a whole page on our website with links to competitions and mentorship programmes. Click here.

Final word from...

Your Writing DNA

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. Of that, we can hopefully all agree.

From those 26 letters, the number of words we can use are almost infinite (okay not infinite - my google search tells me there are 171,146 words!).

With so many words to choose from, why are we sometimes stuck? Why do we use the word 'that' or 'just' so many times? Why do our characters always smile when they could grin, beam or cheese? :-)

I joke a little, but every word choice we make reflects us as writers. Our style, our habits, our past experiences and our memories.

It's a reflection of the books we've read, the crutch words of our own writing and the vocabulary we use in our everyday, normal lives, too.

But words themselves aren't the most important thing. As with most things in life, it's the 'how' and 'why' which is much more interesting that simply 'what' word is used.

It's all part of what I call our 'Writing DNA'. 

As a biologist, I obviously have spent much of my life studying and teaching about how all living things function. Without boring a few thousand of you, like I do most weekdays to unsuspecting 16 year olds on the West coast of Scotland, and giving you a lesson on this, I think it's safe to say, on a genetic level, that everyone is different. Aside from identical twins, no two people share the same DNA.

In fact, even two closely related individuals, often have millions of nucleotide base differences.
A sibling is 99.95% identical to you - wow, that's similar, you might think - but with 6 billion nucleotide bases in every persons genome, that tiny % amounts to about 3 million bases difference.

Crazy, huh?

And this leads me onto our Writing DNA.

I often hear writers saying they are afraid to share their work or ideas, for fear they may be stolen by another writer. Not an unnatural feeling, but if you gave, say, Cressida Cowell and Malorie Blackman the same premise or even the same synopsis, or EVEN the same extended scene-by-scene outline and told them to write a novel, then guess what?

You'd still get two completely different and distinct novels. A large % of the plot may be the same. But from the moment either of them begins to type, their own past experiences, memories and personal preferences get to work. Their own styles kick in.

Their Writing DNA, which you simply can't suppress, will present itself. And the two finished books will be worlds apart. 

*Late addition to this*
Louie Stowell, the brilliant Louie Stowell, posted this on Twitter last night and it summarises perfectly the point that no story idea or premise is completely unique - I guarantee you will all find your book among the options on the picture here, or very similar, but so will thousands of other writers.

So fear not - an idea is simply that - even a synopsis is simply that. Every letter, word, and writing decision you make beyond that is uniquely you, and nobody can take that away from you, or copy you.

So I challenged you, this week and beyond, to write, not like your favourite authors or how you feel you should write, but to focus your energy into producing your most unique and stick writing voice - you to put your Writing DNA, in all it's flawed, distinctive and wonderful glory, all over your work. 

Write the book that only your voice can write. Because that's the one that will stand out from the crowd for the very basic and simple reason:

Your Writing DNA is truly unique. 

To quote Simon James Green: "BE A VOICE, NOT AN ECHO!"

Or as Dr Seuss put it:

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Writing can be lonely, but it doesn't need to be.

May the Force be with you,

Do YOU want to be the star of this newsletter?

Do YOU want to have the final word?
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