Dear HB Creativity clients and friends,

In the following post we’ll talk about the Online Novel Writing Workshop Series, writing opportunities and competitions, information about a writers’ publication, exciting alumni news, including winners in the recent Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards, details of a great place for a writers’ retreat, and thoughts about how writers can negotiate, and take advantage of, landmark birthdays.

The Online Novel Writing Workshop Series: Current number of spaces free as of May 15: two.

Online Course Description: This online series has helped in the completion of a number of critically and commercially successful novels (see Creative Writing Courses and Endorsements). 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. The course is one on one all the way and the focus remains on your desired working goals and on your manuscript-in-progress. Once you are aboard, however, 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 15, send me an email at


Alumni News

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

Congratulations to Susan Sinnott winner of the Percy Janes First Novel Award, announced at the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters gala on May 3, 2014. Susan’s novel-in-progress is titled Just Like Away.

Congratulations to Jiin Kim whose entry, Team Photo, won in the non-fiction prose section of the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards.

Congratulations to Michael Boyle whose Lament for the Letter P in Drummuck won in the poetry section of the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards.



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

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:

Landmark Birthdays and the Writer: Even though I was amply warned by friends and family, reaching my half century was a strange and unsettling experience. The focus wasn’t so much on health (the kinds of medical tests which you are suddenly urged to take) or even longevity. For me the moment focused on the twin questions of how I was using my creative energy at present and whether this was in fact the best use of it. I have found since that this is in fact the most common existential question to arise when a person turns 50. I am guessing that, as with most events that create inner turbulence, this reaction has a purpose beyond making the individual feel uncomfortable.

Like many long term occupations, writing takes a long time. It’s more than a little disappointing to take three, or four or six years over writing a novel, for instance, only to find you don’t really care for it the way you should. And however much you appreciate good reviews and sales (and fear the opposite), it’s actually your own relationship with your work that ultimately matters most.

So one of the best resolutions to come from all this is a determination to listen to the silence for a while, to ask the question: what do I really want to write about? And this will mean disregarding the debris of unused characters and loose plot strands that often clutter a writer’s mind. It means forgetting any attempt to mold an emerging idea to fit with a marketplace, a setting or a specific readership. It means slipping into a place of uncertainty, which might actually be the essence of creativity. And the irony is a writer might end up with something that does communicate because people will react to the conviction and the authenticity of the work. As well as pleasing him or herself, the writer could also end up  pleasing others.


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