TLC January Newsletter
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Dear Friends of TLC,

A very Happy New Year to you all! We hope you had a restful festive break, and are ready to kick off 2020 with some inspiration to help you write, read and edit.

This month we've got a date for your diary - make sure to save the 20th June 2020 for the annual TLC Writers' Day. Booking will go live later this month, and an earlybird discount will be made available just for newsletter subscribers. For those of you looking to invest in your creative wellbeing in the new year, we also have two great offers to galvanise you. First, the latest in our 3-part Fiction Masterclass series, Finding Your Story will take place on 25th January. Then in February, we're excited to host Creative Writing & Wellbeing - a Masterclass with Elise Valmorbida & Vanessa King. For the month of January only, we are running a Writing Friends promotion for this Masterclass: buy one ticket, get your second at 50% discount. Details below.

If one of your New Year's resolutions was to finish that book, then why not reserve a place on our annual writing retreat, the TLC Literary Adventure, which this year will feature award-winning writer Paul McVeigh as our guest tutor. For time and space, in a beautiful mountain setting, there is no better place.

Also featured this month is the latest TLC Blog, from writer and winner of the Bridport Prize Sheila Chapman. Sheila shares her story of writing her first play, which tackles the subject of menopause. It's a fantatsic piece, well worth a read. We also bring you our first Showcase of 2020, which this month is from a supremely talented writer, TLC Chapter and Verse Mentee Pauline Walker. You can read an extract from Pauline's timely dystopian novel The Truthteller's Tale and hear a little about her writing journey. Finally, we round up with a collection of links and advice from around the web to take you into the new year brimming with inspiration and energy...

As always, happy writing, and reading. 


TLC Fiction Masterclasses with Shelley Weiner

Finding Your Story: Plot, Setting and Structure
Saturday 25th January 2020 10am-4pm

Are you a writer looking to take your work in progress to the next level? Come for constructive help demystifying the construction of your story, to give it the best possible framework

We have just
two tickets remaining for this TLC Masterclasses with trusted manuscript assessor, novelist and writers’ mentor Shelley Weiner. This intensive one-day workshop will help you examine the motivation of your characters, understand what makes them strive; and gain insight into the conflicts caused by obstacles in their path. Together, we will investigate some of the key plot compositions that inspire and echo the shaping of our stories. Lively exercises turn theory into practice as we put narrative structure into action and explore the enormous impact of setting and time. The Masterclass includes tea, coffee, and feedback on a 2,000 (maximum) word extract of your writing.*

*The deadline for submission of your extract is 15th January.

Finding Your Voice: Putting Your Story On The Page, Sustaining Momentum
Saturday 26th April 2020 10am-4pm

Do you have a finished or almost finished manuscript, but no idea what should happen next? Find out how to sustain momentum in the tricky editing stage, and build the stamina to get it done

You have invented and constructed your story. Your living, breathing characters, meticulously created, are striving for their destiny in the setting you have devised. Your narrative structure feels solid and workable. And now there’s the writing: the quest to find the words, the techniques, to tell your story to best effect – to get started, to keep going, and find the stamina to finish. This workshop looks at openings and endings; it offers tips to sustain momentum, to keep you interested and committed when the fiction seems to flag. Through discussion and exercises we’ll locate the heart of this complex activity that is the creation of fiction – and look ahead at opportunities to keep going, now that you have embarked on the adventure that is the writing life. The Masterclass includes tea, coffee, and feedback on a 2,000 (maximum) word extract of your writing.


WRITING FRIENDS SPECIAL OFFER TLC Masterclass: Creative Writing and Wellbeing

Creative Writing and Wellbeing with Elise Valmorbida and Vanessa King
Saturday 29th February 2020 10am-4pm

If you focus on finding balance within yourself, you will write with more purpose and power.

Join acclaimed writer Elise Valmorbida and leading positive psychologist and author Vanessa King on 29th February 2020 for a unique and intensive workshop connecting the science of wellbeing with the practice of creative writing. Already a hit with literary festivals, and featured in a one-week format for Arvon in 2019, this is the first time Elise and Vanessa bring their learning into a one-day workshop format, especially for The Literary Consultancy.

This workshop is perfect for writers interested in developing techniques for enhancing creativity and wellbeing, putting aside ideas of 'productivity' and re-configuring how we think of success, failure, and creative energy as a precious resource. Together, we will explore how to engage the senses, free the mind, connect experience with words, access deeper levels of creativity and write with powerful authenticity.

Writers working at all levels, from complete beginner to advanced, are very welcome at this workshop.

For the month of January only, we are offering you the opportunity to come with a friend to this TLC Masterclass at a discounted rate. Buy one ticket, get a second at 50% off. To claim this offer, please email the TLC office on before January 31st. Strictly limited offer, subject to availability.


TLC Literary Adventure 2020 with Paul McVeigh

Casa Ana is a place where magic happens – the alchemy of a group of strangers becoming a supportive community and unlocking all of our imaginations and creativity. Every year I say I won’t need to come back again, and every year I get something wonderful out of the experience – so you can probably expect to see me again next year!

Rooms are still available for our popular Literary Adventure, running at the beautiful Casa Ana (Spain) September 5th-12th 2020. Our 2020 tutor is the award-winning novelist Paul McVeigh.

Literary Adventures take place within the mesmerising Alpujarras mountain range in Andalucia, Spain, at a private house used exclusively for the week by TLC. You will have access to world-class teaching, get a chance to work, read, listen, learn and relax in a stunning setting which will open the mind and senses. The retreat is open to writers of fiction (novels or short stories)memoir and creative non-fiction, and will include morning workshops on elements of writing as well as a session on the publishing industry, plenty of free writing time, readings with your fellow writers, and optional trips to a nearby village with local hand-made artisanal products. All breakfasts, lunches, three chef-cooked three course evening meals using the finest seasonal and local ingredients, and your accommodation are included in the ticket price, with rooms starting at just £795 for the full week.

We highly recommend early booking for this retreat as places tend to get snapped up quickly.

For detailed information, including a full itinerary, pricing and booking details, please click here.

To reserve a spot now, email Aki Schilz with your room preference.

TLC Blog: How Do You Write a Play About The Menopause?

"Why write a play about menopause? Surely no one will want to come and see it. Even the proposition – write a play about menopause – seemed confrontational. In saying yes, I was outing my own psychological resistance to something inescapable, something I realised I had always framed as something to be overcome; borne."

Our first TLC Blog of the year is from 2016 winner of the Bridport Prize Sheila Chapman, who explores the challenges and journey she faced as she embarked on writing her first play, 'Mid Life' which will will premiere in February at the Bristol Old Vic. In this fantastic blog, she highlights the importance of listening to an abundance of different stories in order to fully do justice to an important topic, as well as stressing the need for women in their forties and fifties to 'make space for themselves in the arts'. 

Read the full blog 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:

TLC Showcase: Pauline Walker

“I won a competition which had a prize attached to it, TLC’s Chapter and Verse mentoring. My mentor Tom Bromley was fantastic. The deadlines helped keep me on track with producing work and Tom’s reports have been incisive, objective and encouraging. I completed the first draft soon after the mentoring finished; a relief and a victory over doubt. Now, I’m doing my favourite part, re-writing and editing, bearing in mind the advice that Tom has given me. The next step for the novel is a full manuscript assessment and I’m looking forward to receiving the feedback."

This month we're excited to feature Pauline Walker as our first showcase writer of the year. Pauline is a graduate of the TLC Chapter & Verse Mentoring Scheme, after being awarded the Platinum Prize at the Creative Future Writers Awards in 2017. Since then, she has been working hard on her novel, The Truthteller's Tale with the help of the mentoring scheme, and we're delighted to be able to share an extract of her timely dystopian novel with you this month. 

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

More on the TLC Chapter & Verse Mentoring Scheme here.

Save the Date: TLC Writers' Day 2020

TLC Writers’ Day returns on Saturday June 20th 2020, 10am-4pm, at Free Word. Please save the date for this popular event which has become a staple in the literary diary. The day offers writers the opportunity to hear from top industry experts offering up the best in thinking for writing across all environments. All ticket-holders are invited to enter the TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition for the opportunity to pitch your work to agents and publishers. TLC Pen Factor alumni include the Costa-winning Guinevere Glasfurd (The Words In My Hand, Two Roads), and two rising stars of UK publishing, Neema Shah (Kololo Hill. Picador) and Abi Dare (The Girl with the Louding Voice, Sceptre).

A full programme and booking details will be available soon, please keep an eye on our Events page for more information.

Writing Inspiration

Are you on Twitter? If so, make sure you're following our page @TLCUK for all the latest news, tips and inspiration, including our #TLCTips series of writing tips.

Remember to also follow us on Instagram.

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

* TLC 'Meet the Editor Events' being held in the New Year in Blackpool (Jan 18th) & Birmingham (Feb 8th).
* Some helpful 'Tips for Coping with Feedback' from Siobhan McMillan, via The Empowered Author

* Influx Press are currently accepting non-fiction proposal submissions from women writers.
* Creative Writing tips from Max Sebald.
* 2020 in Books: A Literary Calendar from the Guardian. 
* 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 Masterclasses

Finding Your Story: Plot, Setting and Structure with Shelley Weiner
Perfect for:
Writers with fiction works in progress

Saturday 25th January 2020 10am-4pm


Creative Writing and Wellbeing with Elise Valmorbida and Vanessa King
Perfect for:
Writers interested in developing techniques for enhancing creativity and wellbeing
Saturday 29th February 2020 10am-4pm


Finding Your Voice: Putting Your Story On The Page, Sustaining Momentum with Shelley Weiner
Perfect for:
 Writers who are nearing completion of or have completed a first draft of a creative writing project.
Saturday 25th April 2020 10am-4pm


"The manuscript assessment through TLC was the best investment I could have made, and was worth every penny. My reader gave such an insightful report. Her comments made me look at my own work in a different, more objective way, and I've been able to use a lot of that advice to improve other work since. I genuinely believe the help from her and TLC played a crucial part in being picked up by an agent, and subsequently landing a two-book deal. I couldn't recommend them highly enough."

Robert Scragg, What Falls Between the Cracks (Allison & Busby)
Do I need a manuscript assessment?

Do I need a literary agent?

What should I send to agents?

Will I be considered for the TLC Talent Showcase?

How do I write a synopsis?

Where can I find a proofreader or copy-editor?

Ask TLC: See our FAQs

Writers' Corner: Click here
"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.
"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)
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
"My TLC editor made me see my book in a new light. It took a bit of hard work, but I am so pleased I followed TLC's excellent advice. Thank you so much for helping me discover the book I didn't know was there!" 

Andy Rumbold, The Last Fiesta (Red Door Publishing)
"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
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