Well, what can we say? We have been inundated with superb entries – making our judges’ job very difficult once again! We love this time of year as we get to hear what our students think of the courses we run and the all important feedback from the tutors and, better still, what they have been up to since enrolling with us. So, first of all, we’d like to offer a great big thank you to all those students who took the time to sit down and compose an entry. We really do appreciate it!
Next, we’d like to say how difficult it was to choose just one winner – we would have hundreds of you if we could, but there can be only one. And this year the worthy winner is Hannah Evans – CONGRATULATIONS Hannah! We were truly impressed with her achievements and we’re sure you will be too. She’s turned a childhood dream into a successful writing career, publishing articles on a regular basis and promoting her book, due out at the beginning of this year.
To celebrate the success and achievements of our students we are pleased to run our annual Writer of the Year Award. First prize is £250 and there are four equal runners-up prizes of £50 each.
We hope you enjoy reading about all of this year's winners. They each have a unique experience of developing their writing through the course, proving that The Writers Bureau home-study methods really are tailor-made to meet each individual's own ambitions.
If you are a student of The Writers Bureau and would like to enter this competition for 2014 please click here.
You could walk away with the first prize of
Angela Kecojevic, Oxfordshire.
Angela’s story is truly exciting. Not only has she had a children’s book published, but that book was then chosen as the theme for a new adventure park – how wonderful is that? So now you can not only read about Angela’s wonderful world, you can visit it too at Hobbledown – A Mysterical Adventure!
Pamela Sinha, Pune.
Writing has been a hobby of Pamela’s since childhood, but a fear of being judged prevented her from showing her work to others. So, joining a course was the perfect solution. It meant Pamela could get the crucial feedback needed to give her the confidence to let others read her work. And now? Pamela recently published her first novel ‘Of Love and Lovers’.
Sally Gutteridge, Scotland.
A false start, and then few years later Sally finally got stuck into her Writers Bureau course. And good job she did, as it seems her articles on dog training are in great demand! She’s done really well freelancing for Elance and her recent project, a book called ‘A Dog Rescuer’s Guide’, is about to be published.
Jane Isaac, Northamptonshire.
A year-long trip around the world, with a trusty leather-bound notebook, set Jane off on the path of writing. She realised how powerful her words could be when years later she could relive the atmosphere of the places she’d been to simply by reading the journal entries. That settled it. Jane decided to enrol on our course and now she’s not only had numerous articles published, her first novel, ‘An Unfamiliar Murder’, is now available.
“When I was eight, I read ‘The Young Visitors’ by Daisy Ashford. I decided, then and there, that I, like Daisy, would be a writer. So write I did. Tales of hedgehogs and horses, poems about roses and love, stories of travel and emotional turmoil. I was a great writer; my mum said so. ‘You always write such beautiful thank you letters’ she said. And as I graduated from school, to university, to ‘real life’, I continued to read... and write.
“In 2008, with three children under six and a Forces husband heading off for a tour in Afghanistan, I made a decision. A big one! Rather than sitting at home sobbing, waiting for his return, I took the plunge, and followed my writing dream by embarking on a course with The Writers Bureau.
“My ambitions at the outset were relatively straightforward: I wanted to have a justifiable reason to write. I wanted to kick-start my brain again after having my boys and I knew that I could do more with my day than bake chocolate chip cookies.
“I wanted to feel like I was contributing to the family budget in ways other than ‘just’ childcare. I wanted to earn money of my own and be able to buy my husband’s birthday presents with my money; out of my bank account and not his pay packet.
“My first publishing success was a letter in ‘The Lady’ magazine, for which I received £25. My next success was with ‘Home Farmer’, then I had two pieces published in the ‘Good Life’, for which I was paid an incredible £100. ‘The Guardian’ then published a piece and paid me £300, I nearly fell over. I’ve also been paid £1000 by ‘The Daily Mail’ and have received the first part of a significant advance from Bloomsbury for my book ‘MOB Rule: Lessons Learned by a Mother of Boys’.
“The course provided structure and put a stop to my procrastination. Wanting to achieve my aim made me sit down and type. It provided ‘real-life’ feedback – my tutor became my best friend. And like all good best friends, he told the truth: focussing on the positive aspects of my assignments, whilst gently pointing out areas for improvement. The course also gave me a much needed shot of enthusiasm and excitement. It’s one thing to show something you’ve written to your Mum and her saying it’s good. It’s another thing entirely to send your ‘baby’ off to a ‘proper’ writer and wait, with bated breath, for him to deliver his verdict.
“But, most importantly for me, the Writers Bureau course provided the impetus to try something different. I had only thought of writing fiction until the course pushed me to think about areas of my life that I may be able to write non-fiction articles about. Essentially, the course enabled me to find my voice and it was a very different voice to the one I thought I’d have.
“In anticipation of the publication of my first book in January 2013, I have been putting all my efforts into blogging, tweeting and writing articles for the press. I have far too many ideas for follow up books; sometime soon I will just have to sit down and bite the next book bullet.”
“Joining the Writers Bureau Writing for Children course gave me the confidence and support so vital to any new and aspiring writer during the early stages of their career. I loved receiving the assignments and the positive and encouraging feedback from my tutor helped me progress, nurturing the key skills vital for understanding how this complex genre works.
“I didn’t go to University and I often think that many people believe that you need to have this behind you in order to succeed as a writer. I believe that if you have the will and creative imagination, writing courses will help nurture and guide you. I knew I had the imagination and desire to write for children, yet there were areas that I needed help and guidance with and the course helped me with that. The certification I received on completion of the course is now framed and something I am incredibly proud of.
“My first book, ‘Hobbledown’, is a classic adventure story about the world of the Hobblers and follows a more traditional route of storytelling. I was lucky enough to be chosen to have my book recreated into a children’s adventure park, called Hobbledown – A Mystical Adventure, in Epsom Surrey. Having my characters ‘come to life’ has been the highlight of my writing career and the start of what I hope will be an exciting writing journey. There are only two other authors I know of with theme parks, one is Tom Blofield with BeWilderWood and, of course, JK Rowling. I have now moved into teen romance but will write a further two in the ‘Hobbledown’ series. Dan Good, the creator of BBC’s ‘Waybuloo’ had this to say about ‘Hobbledown’:
“I read ‘Hobbledown’ with my children and we all thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful and wacky world of ‘Hobbledown’ that A J Kecojevic has created. The quirky rhyming text, the crazy creatures and the bonkers geography all help to create a modern, yet classic tale. We look forward to more adventures in ‘Hobbledown’ from this exciting new writer.”
Dan Good – Creator of BBC’s ‘Waybuloo’
The Writers Bureau was my first step to doing something about my dream and if it wasn’t for that step, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It has really been a very exciting few months.”
“I had been writing poems since childhood, but a fear of being ridiculed stopped me from trying to publish my work. Thankfully, my love for writing persisted and in 2010 I joined the Comprehensive Creative Writing course with the hope of improving my skills and working towards my goal of becoming a published writer.
“When I joined The Writers Bureau, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. However, the words of praise and encouragement I received from my tutors on the very first assignment convinced me I had made the right choice. The tips and feedback have boosted my confidence like never before and have helped me to reach where I am today.
“I am currently working on a collection of short stories and I’m also dabbling with ideas for my next novel. Now that I have embarked upon the path of an author, I would like to carry this forward and become a well established name in the literary world.
“My first novel ‘Of Love and Lovers’ was published in September 2012 by Jaico Publishing House, a renowned publishing house based in India. Around 5000 copies have already been sold and my estimated earnings up to now are about INR 750,000.”
Read an extract of ‘Of Love and Lovers’.
Find out more about Pamela Sinha here.
“The Writers Bureau has changed my life! I began the Comprehensive Creative Writing course a long time ago, choosing to tackle the fiction section first. I wanted to write fiction books but I got stuck, completely stuck, on Assignment F5 and left the course, and my dream, behind to get on with my everyday life as a full time dog trainer.
“Towards the end of 2011, I contacted The Writers Bureau to ask about the possibility of completing my course. The student services team were fantastic and I was able to continue the course where I left off. I was assigned a new tutor, Esther Newton, who is wonderful. She advised me to restart the course with non-fiction, and it was the best thing that I could’ve done.
“I’ve had two reader’s letters published in “That’s Life” magazine and a photo and letter in ‘Woman’s Weekly’. I joined Suite 101 and began writing about dogs. It made sense as a former dog trainer to merge my skills and experience with my desire to write. Here’s my profile link.
“I have also been published twice in ‘Dogs Today’ magazine. There was no payment for this, but I did receive some treats for my dogs.
“Then I joined Elance, marketing myself as a specialist dog writer. This really took off in March 2012 and I have written every day since.
Here are some examples of client reviews of my work:
7th December 2012 “Sally is a fantastic writer and professional worker. She delivered exactly what was requested, ahead of time, and responded quickly to any questions or requests. We will definitely be using her again for future projects. Highly recommended.”
14th August 2012 “Very pleased with this contractor. I will use her again without a question and I recommend her to anyone looking for a good writer.”
31st July 2012 “Just what I asked for.. Lightning fast turnaround. Great communications skills... Reasonable price... Who could ask for more! I'll be back FOR SURE.. ”
I also have a regular client who has paid me in excess of $1000 USD.
Here are some links to my work online.
“My next project, a book called ‘A Dog Rescuer’s Guide’, is illustrated by my husband and currently for sale on the Amazon Kindle site. I would never, ever have considered non-fiction writing or combining my knowledge with writing had it not been for The Writers Bureau and my tutor, Esther Newton.
“In November 2012, I wrote the first draft of my 50,000 word novel in a month with NaNoWriMo. I am now classed as a NNWM winner, which is a fantastic achievement for me.
The Writers Bureau course has not only helped me with my writing, it has actually made a professional writer out of me. I have already received my certificate of competence and it feels brilliant. It still amazes me every day – I’ve gone from a dreamer to a writer.
Thank You Writers Bureau!
“Some years ago, my husband and I made a decision that was to change my life irrevocably. We decided to take a year out and travel the world. The trip was amazing, but what effected the change was a leather bound journal I was given to record my daily events.
“Whilst the photos we took visually recreated the memories, the diary brought them back to life. Back home, years later, I could read excerpts and smell spices in Kuala Lumpur, hear the street music of Bangkok, feel the thick heat that pervades the wonderfully clean Singapore and see the red earth of Australia. An avid reader my whole life, I finally realised the power of my own words and my love affair with writing began. But I wasn’t sure where to start...
“I researched a plethora of courses and that’s when I found the Comprehensive Writing Course with the Writers Bureau. The course started with studying non-fiction and enabled me to start at the beginning, to develop my own writing style and to try different areas for my work. It gave me a focus and taught me how to pitch and submit my work.
“Very quickly, I was commissioned to work with my local newspaper on investigative features. It was a thrilling time, especially when they paid me £50 a piece! During my first year I earned £400 while still progressing my course, learning about different areas and different markets and discovering how to break into them. I also had my poetry featured in several anthologies and a number of readers’ letters published.
“In January 2009, I started the fiction element of my course and fell in love. I suppose, like many, I’d always fancied writing a novel, although I never thought I’d be able to achieve it! With the support of my tutor, I studied different areas including genres, styles, plotting, and characterisation. An avid reader of fiction for most of my life, I wrote several short stories and then embarked on my novel, a crime thriller entitled ‘An Unfamiliar Murder’. It was useful to write my novel as I continued the course. I was still learning, picking up tips and improving my style, and the course laid out clear instructions regarding submitting to agents and publishers.
“I finished my book in January 2011 and was bowled over when two agents immediately expressed an interest! The novel was eventually published by Rainstorm Press in February 2012. Royalty statements for my novel are quarterly and at the end of August, 350 books had been sold.
“I have had a short story called ‘Duplicity’ published in ‘Whacked – An Anthology of Murder’ by Rainstorm Press April 2012, and a short story called ‘Perilous Truths’ published in ‘Crime After Crime’ (which was endorsed by bestselling crime writer Stephen Leather) by Bridge House Publishing November 2012. A further story has been accepted for another Rainstorm Press anthology, due early 2013.
“I am currently putting the finishing touches to the sequel to ‘An Unfamiliar Murder’, due to be released this year. I also run a regular blog on my website at www.janeisaac.co.uk.
“When I started the Writers Bureau course, I wanted to explore avenues for my writing and develop and strengthen my personal style. I had no idea that it would lead to me being a published writer of novels and short stories. I still pinch myself when I receive emails and messages from readers who’ve enjoyed my work or when I give talks to book clubs and visit bookstores to do signings. These are magical moments that have changed my life – my dream has come true.”