Autumn 2016 writing course cancellation

Unfortunately a writing course needs a minimum number of people to be viable, both financially and to generate the most productive and creative group dynamic. We did not reach that minimum (by a frustratingly narrow margin) for the course I had planned for this autumn so I have been forced to cancel.

I was prepared to run these sessions for a minimal return; I cannot afford to make a loss.

I remain entirely willing to run sessions explaining and exploring the key skills essential to turn an exciting idea into a compelling piece of finished fiction.

If you’d like to discuss options and costs for one-to-one editorial advice and services, by all means get in touch.

If a week’s residential course is a viable option for you, don’t forget that I’m teaching at Moniack Mhor this December. Full details here.

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Bookings update – deadline extended!

As you’ll see from the course details, there are still places available so I’m pleased to be able to extend the booking deadline. You can now sign up right up to the start of the first class.

If you’ve been thinking about joining us, take a look at the great guest speakers we’ve got lined up and check your diary.

Any questions? Drop me a line!

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Secret Histories of the Shadow Kingdom – my next publication

Over on my own website, you can find out more about my next book – click here!

Incidentally if you’re thinking that I’ll only be teaching how to write SF and Fantasy, because that’s my main genre, don’t worry! The core skills an author needs are common to every genre – and I’ve made sure to offer a broad scope of advice and experience by inviting guest speakers.

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Writers of Witney Guest Speaker – an introduction to Mary Hoffman


Today I’m delighted to introduce Mary Hoffman, our second guest speaker happy to share her wealth of experience.

Mary Hoffman is the author of over 100 books, mainly for teenagers and children but she has also been published as an author of short stories for adults and recently wrote two novels for adults under the pseudonyms Kate Snow (The Italian for Love) and Amy Lovell (When she was Bad – forthcoming).

As a children’s writer, Mary has had successes with a series of books that began with Amazing Grace in 1991 (anniversary edition 2015) and a sequence of six fantasy novels for Bloomsbury, called Stravaganza (2002-2012), which has been published in 30 languages. Her latest teenage novel is Shakespeare’s Ghost.

Shakespeare's Ghost-small


Mary is also a campaigner for libraries and in 1999 started the children’s books review journal Armadillo. She edited it for ten years then handed over to Louise Ellis-Barrett.

She moved out of London to West Oxfordshire in 2001 and writes all her books on a laptop, on her lap, in her green and white study overlooking the garden.

It beats living in a terrace in Crouch End, though she enjoyed that for 23 years too.

Mary started the joint blog, The History Girls , which has just celebrated its fifth birthday.

And this April, with her husband, Stephen Barber, she launched the first five titles published by The Greystones Press.* They are publishing quality fiction for adults and young adults and non-fiction for adults in the field of the Humanities and Arts.

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles-small


Mary and Stephen have three grown-up daughters and three grandchildren, with another due in September. Sadly two of these lovely beings are currently living on the other side of the world, which means the ones who live in London are bound to get double grandmothering.

You can find her website at

* Article in The Bookseller – “Hoffman launches indie list”

MH and SJB at GP party

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Writers of Witney Guest Speaker – an introduction to Ben Jeapes

Ben Jeapes

One of the most important aspects of my own development as a writer is all the things I’ve learned – and continue to learn – from hearing other authors talk about the way they work, where they find inspiration and their experiences with both the craft and the business of writing. As I was putting this course together, I knew that including other perspectives to my own was crucial.

Our first guest speaker will be Ben Jeapes, who can offer a wealth of experience and advice, as his bio explains –


“An overdose of TV science fiction as a child doomed Ben Jeapes to life as a science fiction author, and he took up writing in the mistaken belief that it would be quite easy (it isn’t) and save him from having to get a real job (it didn’t). Hence, as well as being the author of several novels and short stories, he is also an experienced journal editor, book publisher and technical writer.

He has ghost-written several series of children’s novels, which to his annoyance make more than his own writing. In his own right he recently self-published a pair of contemporary fantasy novels: THE TEEN, THE WITCH & THE THIEF, and THE COMEBACK OF THE KING. Prior to this his professionally published novels were HIS MAJESTY’S STARSHIP, THE XENOCIDE MISSION, TIME’S CHARIOT, THE NEW WORLD ORDER and PHOENICIA’S WORLDS. His short story collection JEAPES JAPES is also available, containing 17 short stories originally published in INTERZONE, FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION and other venues.


His ambition is to live to be 101 and 7 months, so as to reach the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the arrival – as family lore has it – of the man responsible for his surname in the British Isles. He is English, and is as quietly proud of the fact as you would expect of the descendant of a Danish mercenary who fought for a bunch of Norsemen living in northern France.
He lives in Abingdon and his homepage is at

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The Milford SF Writers workshop – Alastair Reynolds reflects

Here’s an excellent piece by multiple-award winning SF author Alastair Reynolds about his experiences at the Milford residential writing workshop.

It really does underscore the value of getting constructive feedback on your work in progress.

Alastair Reynolds on Milford

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News and Views

I’ll be posting news on guest speakers here, along with guest articles on creative writing.

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