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This month we have expert opinion from tutor Janie Jackson on the art of slicing irrelevancies from your writing in Gentle Surgery. Ten Top Tips covers getting an agent and there’s the usual inspiration and useful websites.

Hello Dear Readers,

Me again – gosh it only seems like two minutes since I was putting the finishing touches to last month's edition!

On to business! This month we have a new 21st Birthday Celebration competition. We’d like you to find a glitch in the English language – an ambiguity to be precise – the funnier the better! You could win yourself a copy of our Proofreading and Copy Editing course for your trouble.

Expert Advice is provided by Janie Jackson who shows you how to be ruthless with your writing to make it more appealing to publishers, Ten Top Tips answers the age old question of whether an agent is worth it and our student story is – I’m sure you’ll agree – inspirational.

For those that don’t know, I am also now on Facebook as Shelley Bowers – come and be my friend. (Hmm... does that make me sound desperate?)

I thought I’d mention a couple of crackers I found in our various online places recently. First is the message below from an ex-student, Justin Tonna, which is in the Facebook group page:

"Hi everyone. I can remember what it was like to be starting out in my writing career and how hard it was to get that first break.

"Thanks to the Writers Bureau (and a lot of hard work) I am the editor-in-chief at a large publishing house. We are currently launching a new web portal and are looking for writers. You can check out the site at www.sundaycircle.com.

"As an old Writers Bureau student I thought I would give current students first bite at the cake – so if you have a piece you feel would be appropriate for the website you can email me. We can't pay for submissions (this is still new for us as we mostly publish magazines), but you will get your name out there (and the fun of seeing your name pop up on Google).

"So if you are struggling with your next assignment, or wondering what to write – then I hope this may spur you along and get you typing. Remember, those articles won't write themselves! Regards and happy typing. Justin"

Thanks Justin. It’s very nice of you to think about the newbie writers we have here at the Bureau. Come and join our group on Facebook – you can find it here.

Next is a great quote from the student forums where Lorraine J shares her thoughts on tutor feedback!

“When I'd got the hang of my non-fiction tutor I got a new one for fiction and only then did I realise the stages I go through when I read my returned assignments. Does anyone else agree?

“Step 1 – DENIAL – you’ve done your absolute best, worked really hard on your work and your tutor returns it with pen all over it. What do they know, they didn't really grasp what you were getting at and they're probably only interested in their own specialist field anyway...

“Step 2 – ACCEPTANCE – perhaps now you've read it through a second time they had a point. You did stray from the point/use five words when one would do/ignore the word count because you just had to get your point across etc. etc...

“Step 3 – REALISATION – you followed their advice, reworked your article and having sent it off you get it accepted. Suddenly you start to realise that perhaps your tutor really does know what they're talking about!”

This made me laugh and I felt it probably mirrored the way many students feel – so at least now you know you are not alone. Thanks Lorraine!

London is the place to be in April with the 9th Annual Sci-Fi Festival taking place 28th April – 3rd May at the Apollo, Piccadilly Circus. In their words, “Alongside our regular film programming (which includes shorts, features, documentaries and world premieres) we shall be featuring a series of talks and debates on genre literature, film and TV. We also expand our ‘Science Fact’ stream with demonstrations, lectures and debate – under the banner SCI-FI-LONDON: LAB”. If Sci-fi is your thing – it’s definitely mine – this will be a great experience.

Once you’ve finished at the Sci-Fi Festival you can nip over to the British Museum. Where there is a rare treat in store for you. The world’s largest atlas – the Klencke Atlas – will be on show between 30th April and 19th September. And, not only is it on show for the first time, you will be able to see the wondrous treasures inside too. Free admission makes it all the more spectacular.

Stratford, Connecticut plays host to the Unicorn Writers Conference on April 10th with networking, workshops and tutorials and one-to-one manuscript critiques on all types of publishing. Plus, special guest speaker is Gene Wilder no less. It’s $165 for the day.

Our annual Poetry and Short Story Competition is now open. There are top prizes of £1000 in each category with various other smaller prizes to be won. Just think of the kudos of winning – it’ll look great in your portfolio!

And a super little quote to finish off with for those times when it all seems like too much:

"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."

Samuel Johnson

Have a productive month!

Shelley x

P.S Don’t forget to enter our 21st Birthday Glitch Competition to be in with a chance of winning a Proofreading and Copy Editing Course!