Dear HB Creativity clients and friends,

In the following post you will find a new Tutorial Service available to clients through Skype, the opening of the second annual Instant Hook Literary Award, updates regarding the Online Novel Writing Workshop Series and a Discussion Point on the pros and cons of getting friends to read and edit your work.


I am presently accepting bookings for one hour-long one-on-one writing tutorials through Skype.

The Process:

1. Make an appointment and exchange Skype details.
2. Send a work extract of one chapter and/or a brief synopsis three days or more ahead of the appointment.
3. List any questions including goals you would like to work on in the session. Either send them with your submission or ask them at the beginning of the session.


As of September 24, there are two places still remaining. Prearrange registration by emailing me at or calling 709 640-9440.

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, send me an email at


Pros and Cons of Using Friends as Readers

Well, it seems straight forward, doesn’t it?

In favour: You need opinions and editing advice before you send your work away to a publisher or agent. You might not have the ready cash to employ professional editing or evaluating services. What could make better sense than getting feedback from the people already in your circle of family, friends and acquaintances?

In many ways, this does make complete sense. You need to know whether the plot grips or falls flat, whether it sags in the middle or fizzles away without warning, whether you’re putting up unnecessary barriers to reader involvement, or whether it’s just plain perfect the way it is (wouldn’t that be good?)

Against: But hereby also lies the first warning. If you want honest opinions from your friends, make sure you’re ready to hear them. It’s quite possible that a treasured companion likes and esteems you, but also thinks your writing well…sucks.

Are you prepared to hear it? Or will it damage your relationship? Even if they don’t think your work exactly sucks they might have been expecting something else. They might know a different person from the one who emerges when you put your fingers to the word processor. This can lead to disappointment and puzzlement on both sides.

Further they might find it more of a slog to read through your work than you had hoped. You might speak to them several times over days and weeks and get frustrated because they still haven’t got to that novel of yours, and they haven’t mentioned it either. It may be lying in the bottom of a cupboard somewhere and, if you’re not careful, you might start to resent this.

It’s much easier to talk to someone than it is to read their novel. It’s harder still to read a novel from someone who’s waiting to hear your opinion. So you shouldn’t take it personally, but then we’re all human…

But what if they love it? That would be great! …Wouldn’t it?

Against: Not necessarily. In all probability you have chosen a certain friend because the two of you are emotionally or psychologically cohesive. You feel the same way, like the same things, have the same little codes, perhaps the same sense of humour.

An overworked editor in a publishing house, a reviewer, or a random reader in a book shop has little in common with you other than an interest in the written word. If he or she is to enter into your manuscript with any sense of enthusiasm there must be something universally gripping about it, and it must continue to grip not only your friends but many other people as well. Don’t underestimate this requirement. A great many books compete for a reader’s attention. In order to hook a few, your book must have serious potential to appeal to many.

In favour: On the other hand you can never have too many proofreaders. While reading, your friend might pick up on typos and fluency issues. This is good news because a clean manuscript always stands a better chance of getting through a publisher’s first round. So even if you lose a friend you might gain an extra set of eyes!

But in all seriousness, whether to share a manuscript with friends or relatives can be a tricky question. There are a number of points on both sides and writers have their own preferences. So think it over.


The Instant Hook Literary Award (2014)

Opened: June 1, 2014

Deadline: December 2, 2014;

Prize: $300.00 (Canadian)

Entrants are encouraged to submit the first 300 words or less of an unpublished novel. As the competition title suggests, the goal is to create an opening that commands attention, and makes the reader wish for more. For the sake of this competition, though, there will be no more; the word limit will be strictly adhered to, so the aim is to create an opening so intriguing, so compelling that it will promise a wealth of ingenious, absorbing, beautifully-written prose to come on its heels.

Sound like fun? Good. The exercise will make those creative juices run and give you something to work with for many weeks, months, and years afterwards.

Here are the rules; please read carefully!

  • The awards are open to anyone who is over 18 at time of entry.
  • The submission must be sole-authored, in English, from the very beginning of a novel, and no more than 300 words.
  • The novel opening may have been written for the competition or may be part of a manuscript already completed. But it cannot have been published, and cannot have been accepted by a publisher at time of entry.
  • These awards are open to new or established, already-published, authors (it does not have to be a first novel).
  • This is a blind-judged competition. HB Creativity must not have seen any part of this novel prior to entry; it must not be a work for which I personally have provided tutoring or editing services. I cannot absolutely guarantee I will not recognize a writing style, but I must not recognize the writing, the characters, or the plot.
  • Please use 12 Times New Roman font and double space your entry.
  • Send your entry by mail only (no emails please) to Paul Butler, HB Creativity, 49 East Valley Road, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada, A2H 2L4 (make sure you have “Paul Butler, HB Creativity” as well as the address) with a postmark date no later than December 2, 2014. Winners will be announced in February 2015.
  • Please do not put your name on your entry! Enclose in a separate envelope your name and contact (email and phone), plus the title of your entry. This envelope will be opened after the winners have been decided. Along with your name and contact please indicate whether you wish to receive our monthly INK STAINS news bulletin (whether or not you wish to receive INK STAINS will not affect the judging of the competition).
  • There will be a one time email to entrants to announce the competition winner. There will be no advertising of any kind on this email. If you wish not to receive this email, please indicate this on your entry.
  • Do not send your only copy. Copies without sae cannot be returned. If you do not want your entry returned, it will be shredded and recycled.
  • There is no cost to enter.
  • There is no residency or nationality requirement.
  • Copyright remains with the author. We may ask for permission to publish an extract of the winning works on this website but this will not be done without the author’s express permission. Withholding permission will in no way invalidate the entry or disqualify it from winning a prize. By entering you merely give permission for me to use your name and the (provisional) title of the work.
  • One winner will receive a cash prize of $300.00 (Canadian), plus a sodalite keychain donated by Open Earth Designs. Sodalite is the stone reputed to give inspiration to writers. Two runners-up will receive a free hour tutorial (depending on location) in-person or over Skype.


Congratulations to Marie-Beth Wright whose biography Grace Sparkes: Blazing a Trail to Independence has been published by Flanker Press.

Check out the chronicle of writer Juliette La Croix who is taking a road trip across Canada from St. John’s to BC with husband and children.

Congratulations to Heather Stemp. Amelia and Me has been named to the shortlist for the 2014/2015 Red Cedar Book Award!

Imminent 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 Always.

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.

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:



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