Spring-proper INK STAINS

Okay, so the “spring” edition of INK STAINS was a false alarm. This time, let’s talk more in metaphor and hope …ice is melting around us now … a bit, anyway …and the buds are (presumably) swelling under the blankets of snow.

In the following you will find details of the Online Novel Writing Workshop Series, information about Riddle Fence — a great publication showcasing the arts and accepting submissions — alumni news, details of a great place for a writers’ retreat, and tips on preparing for the next Instant Hook Literary Award.

The Online Novel Writing Workshop Series will be full to capacity until early May (unless by prearrangement) but spaces will open up from May 10th. See full description below.

On May 5, 2014, I will be in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and available for individual tutorials and consultations. Email me at paul.butler@nl.rogers.com if you wish to book an appointment.


The Instant Hook Literary Award: Details regarding how to enter will be posted by September 2014 and the deadline will be December 1, 2014 (postmark date).

In the meantime, let’s think about what makes a hook.

The easiest way to explore this is to go your nearest bookshop or library or to peruse your own bookshelves at home. Open novels at random and read the first page of each. How does the author make you forget where you are and plunge you into the world he/she has created? Notice the techniques through which the writer makes the senses teased from imagination more real than your actual senses. Is there something about the rhythm of the prose that corresponds exactly with the movement described? Is this what makes you feel part of the picture? Also think about the plot in embryo. What things are revealed to the reader and what is concealed? What the author doesn’t tell you yet is important. This is likely one of the things that compels you to keep on reading. All these questions will help you fashion your own opening.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards
Residents of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards deadline for the 2015 Awards will be in November 2014. Keep checking the awards website for updates, rules and regulations.

Publication of Interest for Authors — Riddle Fence

Based in St. John’s, Riddle Fence is a magazine of contemporary literature and art. The magazine publishes high-quality short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art from Newfoundland and Labrador, across Canada, and around the world. Do you have a brilliant short story to tell? Do your poems make people think or tie tongues in knots? Does your creative nonfiction have a strong narrative drive? Riddle Fence is currently accepting submissions. Our guidelines are here.

Support literature, art, and culture! Subscribe today!

Idyllic Cottage for a Writers’ Retreat!


This lovingly-restored saltbox house in the community of Calvert on the southern shore — Avalon Peninsula, (50 mins drive from St. John’s) —
is ideal as a writers’ retreat and available for short or long term lease. Modern kitchen and bath, two bedrooms, plus deck and patio area with a view of the bay. Fifteen per cent off weekly or monthly rentals for HB Creativity clients!
Inquires at: mjkrossiter@gmail.com

Alumni News

Look out for the May 30 release of Promised to the Highlander by Kate Robbins (Tirgearr Publishing). This livewire author’s first novel, Bound to the Highlander, took amazon bestsellers lists by storm. Keep up with Kate through her blog.

Course Description: Online Novel Writing Workshop Series (accepting from May 10)

This is the same tried and tested online series that has helped in the completion of a number of critically and commercially successful novels. There are eight units. Each participant presents eight short chapters of up to 2,000 words and receives in-depth feedback both in the text and in separate mini evaluations. These notes will cover plot direction, character development, prose style, theme, imagery, tense etc. Skype users can avail of live tutorials to discuss issues relating to plot, their working synopsis, or how their writing style and structure measures up to their ultimate vision of the work-in-progress. Luddites need not worry, however. Extra email discussions are encouraged and can easily explore the same questions. Further, once you are aboard and I have had a chance to sample your style, you may be put into contact, if you wish, with a small number of online participants whose writing in some way complements or contrasts with your own, thus helping you to further hone your own artistic goals.

Getting Started on the Online Course: The online novel writing workshop series is a carousel. Writers join with their work-in-progress, work away for the duration of the course, either complete a manuscript or take a break to join again later; in short, people come and go all the time. If you wish to sign on to start on or soon after May 10, send me an email at paul.butler@nl.rogers.com.