TLC January Newsletter
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Dear Friends of TLC,

Welcome to the first TLC Newsletter of 2021. A very Happy New Year to you all. This is a very special year for TLC, as it's our 25th Anniversary! Look out for more news and updates on our activities throughout the year, including some very special celebrations and opportunities...

We've got a lot of fantastic events and opportunities lined up to give you a real creative boost, the jewel in the crown being our first ever Online Writers Day

Online Writers Day attendees will have the opportunity to enter the prestigious TLC Pen Factor, which is now in its ninth year. The competition has a history for sniffing out talent and bringing new authors to the industry. The deadline for entries is 16th February, so don't delay and make sure you have a ticket in order to enter your work (we just need a sample, so if it's still a work in progress don't worry!). The prize pot is worth over £2,000 - read on for details.

We're delighted to announce two brand new events for writers, with exclusive earlybird discounts. Writing Through Movement is an interactive online workshop using movement to inspire creativity, and our mini-Masterclass series has a focus on marketing for writers. 

We also bring you a couple of nice updates on programmes we ran before the festive break. We're thrilled to announce Anne Elicaño-Shields as the winner of our recent BESEA (British East and South East Asian) Free Read. Elicano-Shields will receive support from us on her debut YA novel A Guide to Archery, Time, and Love.

We also had a fantastic response to our recent collaboration with Free Word as part of their 'How to Be Kind' series, and received lots of questions about writing, editing and publishing. You can read the our literary advice column, and watch a special video from TLC Reader and writer Angela Clarke right now! 

As always, we round up with a Showcase feature from a fantastically talented TLC writer. This month the spotlight is on Eliza Vitri Handayani, and we also share a powerful and inspiring blog from TLC mentee, writer, and NHS worker Rose McGinty on how mentoring transformed her writing. 

A very Happy New Year, and as always, happy writing, reading, and editing. 


Online Writers' Day: £2,000 TLC Pen Factor Prize Pot Announced

We are delighted to announce that, as part of our first ever Online Writers’ Day, which will be held in March 2021, we will be running our popular TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition to find future literary stars. Could it be you?... 

The prize bundle this year is worth £2,000 and we’re very grateful to our wonderful prize partners for their generous support. To be in with a chance of winning, you need a ticket to our Online Writers’ Day, which you can pick up here.

The deadline for the 2021 TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition is 9am (GMT), February 16th 2021, so the time is now to work on that extract, and get it in to us!

Tickets are available to book via the Free Word Box Office for just £50+VAT. They include access to the full day of workshops and sessions, and also include access to a bonus video library suite. You can access a full programme here.

Bursary tickets for low-income writers are available - please email to apply in confidence. 


TLC Mini Masterclasses EARLYBIRD

In our mini-Masterclass series, writer and communications consultant Anna Caig has designed three two-hour workshops to help writers think about effective strategies for marketing their work, including how to articulate your key motivations and aims, how to create and deliver an effective marketing strategy, and how to pitch yourself and your work. This series of three mini Masterclasses is ideal for writers who are wanting to find out more about how to connect with potential readers, how to create engaged online communities, and how to boost sales of published work.

This mini-series is competitively priced at just £100+VAT for all three sessions. Being A Writer members receive 10% discount. Capacity is limited to 25 places for this series.

BOOK NOW and use code 
EARLYMKTNG21 for a newsletter discount (limited earlybird tickets available)

Writing Through Movement Workshop EARLYBIRD

Bring mind and body together in this interactive workshop, suitable for writers of any fitness level. Through gentle movement and writing activities you will explore how breath, posture, and a wide range of movement, from gesture to dance, can shape your writing in new and exciting directions. Simple physical exercises accessible to all will help you access the subconscious, explore new pathways to characterisation, and bring awareness to the physicality of writing itself. You will discover how to use your body to unlock your creativity and develop engaging characters. So go on, turn off your webcam and get moving with us as we test out new dimensions for your writing.

This workshop is offered to celebrate publication of Sally-Anne Lomas’s debut novel, Live Like Your Head’s on Fire, published by Gatehouse Press in February 2021.

BOOK NOW and use code EARLYMOVEMENT21 for a newsletter discount (limited earlybird tickets available)

BESEA Free Reads Winner Announced

We are delighted to announce the winner of the BESEA Free Read, a mini scholarship generously sponsored by Indonesian writer Jessica Ginting in support of British East and South East Asian writers.

Following submissions from writers across the East and South East Asian diaspora, and across an exciting range of genres, styles, voices and formats, Filipino writer Anne Elicaño-Shields has been selected as the winner of the 2020 BESEA Free Read. Elicano-Shields will receive support from The Literary Consultancy on her debut YA novel A Guide to Archery, Time, and Love, about a young British-Filipino girl who body-swaps with Eros and embarks on time-travelling, match-making adventures. She will receive a full manuscript assessment and one-to-one session with TLC reader Yumei Balasingamchow, and will also be invited to a virtual session with an agent and editor and fellow writers, to learn more about the publishing industry.

The quality of submissions for this programme was high, and in recognition of this, TLC has decided to fund a 15,000 word manuscript assessment report for one additional writer, whom we are proud to announce as our worthy runner-up. Congratulations to Malaysian writer Kwan Ann Tan, who wins the runner-up place with her novel Artificial Orchids.

Read more about the winners and the bursary here.

Tough Loving Care: Literary Advice Column and Video

As part of Free Word’s ‘How to Be Kind’ season, TLC devised a series of literary advice columns, answering questions submitted to an email hotline we set up especially for this series, and questions submitted on social media using the hashtag #ToughLovingCare.

TLC Director Aki Schilz answered questions about honing a writing discipline, how to put together a short story collection, working class writers, and why we write in the first place. You can read all four of the Tough Loving Care literary advice column blogs on the Free Word site here.

To round up the series, we commissioned Sunday Times bestselling author and TLC Reader Angela Clarke to answer some of the remaining questions, and the result is this brilliant video. Interested in learning more about how publishing works? Click the image above to play the video! 

TLC Showcase: Eliza Vitri Handayani

"From Now On Everything Will Be Different tells the story of my generation. We grew up under the repressive New Order regime and learned to keep our mouth shut and fall in line if we want to survive. As we were coming of age, however, massive demonstrations brought down the regime, and for the first time we saw that we had the power to take charge of our country’s governance and our lives.I wrote the novel to examine how free we truly became after democratic reforms began. As the nation continues to confront the ghosts of the regime, my protagonists Rizky and Julita keep on battling family expectations, social pressures, and their own self-destructive habits to realise their artistic aspirations and build an honest relationship. Can they break free from a pattern of repeated disappointments? What is sacrificed and what is achieved when we submit to other people’s wishes and when we forge our own path?"

We are delighted to showcase the work of Eliza Vitri Handayani this month, with an extract from her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different. Spanning fifteen years and flitting back and forth between his and her perspectives, past and present, the novel explores what it means to be free, as citizens and individuals. Eliza got in touch with us recently on Twitter, and we were thrilled to hear of her success, after having an assessment with Anna South. The book was publihsed by Vagabond Press in 2015, and is available to buy via their website here.

You can read the full extract of Eliza's novel, and more about her writing, in the January Showcase

TLC Blog: My Mentoring Journey 

"I sat down to my first submission in January knowing it would be a challenge, not only because I was going to have to spend the year with the novel I never wanted to see again, but also because I have a demanding job in the NHS, developing mental health services in London. I was nervous, as my mentor, Anna South, had promised to not hold back and to push me as a writer. What if I didn’t have the ability or energy to rise to the challenge and instead fell on my face? But the very fact that Anna had agreed to spend her year with my story was such a privilege and gave me the hope that mentoring would restore the pleasure of writing and some colour to life."

A wonderful Blog here from TLC Mentee, writer, and NHS worker Rose McGinty. Rose wrote this blog at the end of last year, after her experience working with TLC Mentor and Associate Editor, Anna South. We hope you'll find it inspiring and thought-provoking!

Read Rose's full blog here.

Find out more about our Chapter & Verse Mentoring Scheme here.

Do you have something on your mind, about books, literature and the value of literature, or publishing, that you'd like to blog about for us? We are actively seeking pitches to:

Writing Inspiration

A reminder this month about our Being a Writer programme. We're currently in the process of recording more podcasts with writers, editors, and publishing industry professionals - and we're excited to announce the release of our latest podcast, with storyteller, writer, and Founder of Write & Shine, Gemma Seltzer. The podcast speaks to the theme of 'How to Find Inspiration in the Everyday' - something we can all do with in the New Year, I'm sure! We're also hosting the next Online Write Club on Sunday 31st January. Register for your place to focus on your writing in a supportive environment, here on the Events page. If you're not already a member of Being a Writer, you can sign up here for just £10 a month.

Other things from around the web to inspire you this month...

* A Books for 2021 round-up from The Guardian.
* Spread the Word's Life Writing Prize is now open for submissions until 1st February.
* Cipher Press are looking for adult fiction and non-fiction from trans and gender non-conforming writers, queer writers of colour, and queer working-class writers based in the UK.
* New Writing North's Northern Writers’ Awards are now open for entry until Thursday 18 February 2021.

* As always, our handy TLC Press Craft and Creativity Mini Guides are on sale and cover such craft elements as 'Dialogue', 'Plot' and 'Voice'. Pick them up for just £1 each (or the full bundle for £8) here.
Thank you for reading this newsletter. For further information on TLC's core services including manuscript assessment, mentoring, and other editing services including copy-editing and proofreading, do visit our website. All general enquiries and manuscript submissions should be sent to Editorial Services Assistant Nelima Begum at

We also have Facebook and Twitter pages where we share information and insights, articles on writing, editing and the publishing industry, as well as tips and recommendations. 
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 TLC Literary Adventures 2021 - Casa Ana, Spain
Spring Retreat
March 20th-26th 2021 Tutor: Paul McVeigh Only 1 Room Left!

Autumn Retreat

September 4th-10th 2021 Tutor: TBC

"My TLC reader read my novel and her feedback was excellent. She helped me see what didn't quite work with the pacing and storyline, and she helped me see that I was writing a thriller; I'd been unsure of the genre up to that point. She was also very encouraging, which is exactly what I needed. After working on my manuscript, TLC put me in touch with Sapere Books, who are publishing Running in Circles. I'm so grateful to everyone at TLC; I feel like they offer something very special, and they have kickstarted my career."

Claire Gray, Running in Circles.
Literary Crossword
by Richard Smyth

Keep your brain busy with this books-themed crossword from the author of 'An Indifference of Birds'

I feel the scheme has set me up for a writing life. In this sense, it really has been priceless.

Rachel Connor, Sisterwives (Crocus Books)

[Chapter and Verse's] combination of personal attention and truthful critical advice is ideal for anyone who is serious about their writing.

Joanna Briscoe, Sleep With Me (Bloomsbury)

In a nutshell, I now have a novel on its way to completion with the possibility of being read by someone. 

Jennifer Makumbi, Kintu (Oneworld)

It's been the best investment I have ever spent.

Liz Harris, author  

Find out more here
"Having my manuscript assessed by TLC was the best investment I've made in years." 

Kerry Young, Pao.

Published by Bloomsbury

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize
Why not sign up for Being A Writer, our programme of online courses, podcasts and other resources designed with creativity and resilience in mind? You can sign up now by clicking the Being A Writer button.
10 Minute Yoga
by Rakhee Jasani

Yoga instructor Rakhee has designed this short yoga sequence just for us, to help you feeling energised, and to re-balance the body when working from home. Please use the password 'Yoga with TLC'

"The team at TLC were very helpful. I got a detailed report back on the manuscript which encouraged me to look at it through the editor's eyes. I used it to edit and hone the story. The novel read so much better afterwards. My experience with TLC was wonderful and I'm so glad I chose them."

Faiqa Mansab, This House of Clay and Water
"Since the day I mailed my manuscript to TLC, they would not stop until I was accepted by a top literary agent. The result: my novel, The Black Coat, being published by Penguin Books in India in 2013 and Periscope in the UK in 2015. Thank you to my TLC reader Kavita Bhanot, for her insightful report, and to Rebecca Swift for her personal encouragement. TLC has been with me at every step since 2011.

Neamat Imam, The Black Coat (Penguin India/ Periscope UK)
Ten Things I've Learnt About Love
by Sarah Butler

Former TLC client and now acclaimed novelist Sarah Butler takes us through the writing exercise that inspired her first book.

Inside Stories: The Method Approach to Writing Fiction

January 16th 2021

Write a brand new story in a day in this online fiction writing Masterclass with Shelley Weiner. Challenge your creativity, find new inspiration, and let your ideas fly. 

Finding Meaning Through Memoir
by Anna South

Writers' mentor Anna South demonstrates how to approach starting to write about your own life story in this creative non-fiction exercise.

"My TLC Reader responded with professional warmth, enthusiasm and detailed, critical feedback. Her suggestions and responses (including writing exercises to get under the skin of less developed characters) were invaluable. It was a no-brainer to send TLC my second manuscript and once again I received detailed, critical and constructive feedback. The bottom line is that this service empowered the writer in me."

Mish Cromer, Alabama Chrome
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