Friday, 25 April 2014

Book Review: Brotherhood of Shades

My review of Dawn Finch's Brotherhood of Shades is now live at The View From Here magazine.

You can read my review by click here > Brotherhood of Shades

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The WoMentoring Project

 Today is the launch of The WoMentoring Project. This has been set up by Kerry Hudson, author of Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, to offer free mentoring by literary professionals, ranging from writers to publishers, for women looking to break into the publishing industry either has a career or as a writer.

The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.
The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.
Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project - from the project management to the website design to the PR support - is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project.

Why do we need it?
Like many great (and not so great) ideas The WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers - largely writers, editors and agents - who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.
The WoMentoring Project is managed by novelist Kerry Hudson and all of our mentors are all professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.
In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.

In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn't possible so instead we've tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.
Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about why they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be in application to a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time.

Why our mentors are getting involved

The reason I’m doing this is simple: mentoring can mean the difference between getting published and getting lost in the crowd. It can help a good writer become a brilliant one. But till now, opportunities for low-income writers to be mentored were few and far between. This initiative redresses the balance; I’m utterly delighted to be part of the project.
Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee

I have only achieved the success I have with the help of others, and now I am keen to pass on that help. I particularly want to reach out to those who don't have the privileges of wealth, status or existing contacts, but who have so much to gain and to give.
Marie Phillips, author Gods Behaving Badly

I’m so pleased to be involved in the WoMentoring Project, and I can’t wait to meet my mentee. I know from my own authors how isolating an experience writing can often be, especially when you’re just starting out, and so I really wanted to be involved. I hope that knowing that there is someone on your side in those early days will give writers courage and confidence in their work.
Alison Hennessy, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker

The WoMentoring project is the kind of opportunity I would have relished when writing my first novel. It's founded in the spirit of paying it forward, and I'll take real pride in sharing whatever experience I've gained with a mentee. I've benefited from the advice and encouragement of some truly inspirational writers, the right voice cheering you on can make all the difference when you're in your solitary writing bubble. The formality of the mentoring arrangement also gives a sense of responsibility and focus - something that's invaluable when you're lost in the sprawl of a work-in-progress - and it's beneficial to mentors too.
Amylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers

My career as an editor has been immeasurably enriched by working with inspiring women writers, yet the world of publishing would have been inaccessible to me without the time and support I was given when first starting out. The WoMentoring Project is a wonderful, necessary thing and I’m very proud to be taking part in it.
Francesca Main, Editorial Director, Picador

I wanted to get involved with this project because I'd like to help authors feel that whoever they are, and wherever they come from, they have a right to be heard.
Jo Unwin of the Jo Unwin Literary Agency

Why female writers feel they need this opportunity

I'm interested in being mentored because although I think you have to make mistakes to learn, having someone who's been there help you work out the ones with no value can be really useful. Most of all I'd like to have someone to push and challenge me on what makes me and my writing tick.
The idea of women sharing their skills and experience in a dynamic, nurturing way is a really important one given the lower profile given to female writers. Even though the mentoring is one to one a collective voice and resilience is still being built up - I think it's a great idea that, for writers like me, will help get rid of some of the layers of doubt and creative loneliness that come with being a beginner.

Clare Archibald

I'm on my third novel; I've had good notices from Faber, HoZ etc. but still not quite there. What I need is that final push. I especially need guidance on pacing, keeping the action pulsing along. I feel a mentor could be hugely beneficial in this process.
Suzy Norman

Twitter: @WoMentoringP and the hashtag #WoMentoring

The fantastic illustrations are by Sally Jane Thompson

Friday, 4 April 2014

Guest Post: Nik Perring's Imaginary Bookshop

Nik Perring’s new delightful The View From Here. Nik has kindly agreed to take part in the imaginary bookshop Q&A.

book, Beautiful Words, published on Monday, was recently reviewed by me over  at


Hi Nik, congratulations on the publication of your new book, Beautiful Words and thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper. I thought I would give you some questions that you may not have already answered on your blog tour.

Thanks for having me over. It's a pleasure to be here again. I love this blog!

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
Good question! I'm going to (kind of) cheat and say Beautiful Books, because that's what books are.
Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
Somewhere pretty and easy to get to. If I'm running it (ha!) then probably Paris, and that's only because I've always fancied living there.

Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
Yes, I think it'd definitely be cool to have a stage - there are LOADS of different things people could do on it. I certainly wouldn't limit it to readings and author events. There'd be music, comedy, knitting demonstrations, show and tell. You name it. It would be a home for anything creative or interesting.

There'd be a cafe and there'd be coffee and tea and cake and snacks. And soft chairs and sofas. And an outside terrace or garden at the back for when it's sunny.
What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
I don't think it'd be all that different to the other indies out there. From what I've seen, they're all pretty great.
What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
I can't see me ditching any sections, to be honest. It's not for me to judge people on what they read. People should read what they enjoy. And I firmly believe there's enough space for everyone and every genre. That said, I don't think I'd sell the bible.
Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
Mine. To make me rich! Of course I'm only joking. I'd like to stock that table with books customers have recommended with a hand written note explaining why.
 If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
Yikes! That's almost impossible to answer. I guess, if it was down to me, it'd have to be Kurt Vonnegut because I love him as much for what he said as for what he wrote.
A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your book, Beautiful Words and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
Because they can have a free slice of cake if they do and my eternal gratitude. For me it's  because I think it's beautiful! A celebration of words and story and all the things I'd hope a book lover would love. And with gorgeous illustrations. I wrote it because it's the kind of thing I think I'd like to have been given as a gift. (And yes, I think I'd make a rubbish salesman too!)
What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
I think I'd have a selection. One sort is never enough!

Thanks for popping along Nik and good luck with your book :)

Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers, and recorded for radio. Nik is the author of the children’s book, I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? (EPS, 2006); the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); and he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I Am Growing A Writer's Beard...

I have been growing a writer's beard.
Oh, hold on.
I've missed April's Fools day, haven't I?

The following is a true story!

My redrafting of the novel (I have just finished chapter five) and also reading and stitching all came to a stop last week. I had to wear an eye patch and talk in pirate-speak. I had a slight accident - I scratched the surface of my eye. With my own finger. You're either squirming or laughing. Don't worry, I think it's quite funny too. I am accident prone and need to be wrapped in cotton wool and kept out of harm's way. My excuse: I did it while half sleeping, half waking up after a nightmare, about drowning in the ocean and still being strapped into my seat in a plane. So the moral of this story: don't binge on the news or you will have nightmares, don't scratch your eye and I need a cotton wool suit.

Anyway, I'm back in the game. I have read an fantastic book, Beautiful Words, by Nik Perring, which I will be reviewing for The View From Here. I am also reading another great book, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I love it when I read several great books in a row.

Plus, I'm limbering up to redraft chapter six.

Don't forget to pop back on Friday as Nik Perring will be the latest author to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.