Scrivener Workshop: October 23rd

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Scrivener is the only word-processing programme designed solely for writers. NaNoWriMo and CampNaNo participants are offered discounts for the programme. If you are struggling to get your head around this powerful program, the next workshop in the 2016 series of Christchurch Writers’ Guild workshops is just what you need.


Sunday October 23, 2016, 2pm – 3:30pm
South Library, 66 Colombo St, Cashmere
(The Learning Centre)
(Parking is across street by river outlet)

Free (Sufficient numbers have preregistered, but spaces are still available. You can preregister here.)

This practical session will get you off the ground on how to use Scrivener, with some of the basics and more advanced features explored. All participants are expected to have their own laptops with Scrivener installed (trial version is okay). It is also recommended to have the Kindle Mobi extension also installed, but not necessary.

Our Guest Speaker is Judy L Mohr: writer and freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services. Judy has always hated using MSWord, so when she started writing her high fantasy novel, there was no way she was going to use MSWord. She first started writing in Latex, but quickly discovered the limitation in output formats. When she discovered Scrivener in 2014, she quickly made the switch and never looked back. Now all of her fictional writing is in Scrivener, along with the writing she does for the various blogs she contributes to. In this session, Judy will share with us some of the tricks that she’s learnt over the years on using the software programme specifically designed for writers. You can learn more about Judy and her personal writing endeavours at

Pre-registered members will receive additional cool stuff (ie: resources) in their email prior to the event, so don’t delay, pre-register today!

Not a member of the Christchurch Writer’s Guild? Not a problem. There’s no time like the present. Join here.

This workshop is proudly sponsored by:

Black Wolf Editorial Services

Upcoming Workshop: The Writer’s Toolbox

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Writer's ToolboxThere are many different tools that a writer uses within their trade. Now would be the perfect time to brush up on those skills.

Then the next workshop in the 2016 series of Christchurch Writers’ Guild workshops is just what you need.

The Writer’s Toolbox

Sunday September 25, 2016, 10:30am – 12:30pm
South Library, 66 Colombo St, Cashmere
(The Boardroom)
(Parking is across street by river outlet)

$10 (CWG members), $15 (non-members)
Places limited to 25 people.


  • Nuts and Bolts
    Brush up on your basic punctuation and grammar. Get a refresher on colons and semi-colons. Learn the differences between the dashes. Remember the differences between different sentence structures.
    Presented by Joan Gladwyn (Editor with Proper Words)
  • Work Gloves a Must: Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Active
    Remind yourself about the differences between active and passive voice. Get it straight in your head the differences between show and tell, and when it would appropriate to use each.
    Presented by Shelley Chappell (Author of BEYOND THE BRIAR)

Whether you are a new writer, just starting out, or an established author, it can always help to have a reminder of those common tools of our trade.

Preregistration is now open. Please note that preregistration does not guarantee a place within workshop. The places will be strictly limited to 25 people. Door sales only.

Members must have membership code with them to receive discount.

Not a member of the Christchurch Writer’s Guild? Not a problem. There’s no time like the present. Join here.

This workshop is proudly sponsored by:


May Workshop Report: Marketing

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Our second full-day workshop for 2016 was on Marketing, something we independently published authors really need to focus on. In this modern day, it is very easy to publish a book, but with millions of titles readily available, it is very hard to make your book stand out, very hard to make it shine.

The workshop drew an attendance of around 20 people, all in various levels of creative authorial development. The workshop was divided into four sections, shared between two speakers, the first being Deb Donnell of Writing Diamonds:

Deb Donnell

Deb Donnell has been in the writing business for most of her life – she first indie-published as a teenager – and she developed the Writing Diamonds program in 2008, helping writers to release the books they have trapped inside. She is also very savvy in the digital world. Her small publishing house, Keswin Publishing, has a particular significance to us in Christchurch, as it produced the fine books you can see above: Responders and the two Christchurch Comparison books.

Deb Donnell began her presentation by first talking us through the branding process. To become successful as an author, you do not so much have to sell your book, as sell yourself. Having a connection with your potential audience is more likely to draw people to click that “buy” button. She talked us through the various social media sites, sharing insights on ways in which we could connect with the audience and find the sort of people that are likely to buy our books. We also learned a little about how the traditional publishing industry, too, has changed with the times. And why, and how, to treat self publishing as a legitimate business.

Nicola Mauchline’s beautifully set-up display.

We then paused for our first interval, giving the opportunity for our market vendors to promote their wares. Our mini-market had five vendors: Angela Oliver, with her array of postcards, books and other assorted memorabilia; Nicola Mauchline, with her romance novels; Justin, and his 11-year old son, Jasper, and their delightful adventure story; Shelley Chappell with her collection of retold fairy-tales, and Jenner Lichtwark with her vampire and mystery novels.

After the break, it was time for us to start some practical exercises, as we looked into author bios, learning the importance of consistency and keeping it relevant, as well as having a specific call to action. After bios, we turned our attentions to blurbs, learning how to make them grab the attention of the reader, given how little time potential readers will spend reading the back of a book. She also touched briefly on getting your books into bookstores (chances = slim), but we will focus more on that in a future blog post.

Our heads over-flowing with information and our hearts filled with inspiration, we then broke for lunch, after hearing from our final two market vendors (and drawing the second prize in our merchandise raffle).

Judy prepares us for some Twitter fun.

For our afternoon session, our presenter was Judy Mohr. Judy is an editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services, and has been fully immersing herself in the Twitter-verse, as she works on her guide to “Twitter for Writers”. She is also well-versed in other forms of social media and how these can be used to increase your internet presence.

After discussing, in greater depth than Deb, the various available social media platforms and which ones work and don’t work as promotional platforms, we then were encouraged to indulge in some Twitter fun.

You can find Judy’s handouts on this page.

Those of us not already signed up for Twitter were logged in to the ChchWriters account. We were then given a range of hashtags to use, and the tweets were fired thick and fast. With the assistance of a mysterious “secret squirrel”, using Judy’s account, we were given questions: “Which author (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?” “If you could go on a mystery date with any character, who would it be, and where?”, along with an array of images to caption with twitter-length stories. Spot prizes came thick and fast:

I think one of the important lessons I learned from this exercise was that tweets are ephemeral– I’ve always been a little nervous about what I tweet, especially through the official Guild account – but Twitter is not something to be afraid of, no more than Facebook or any other social media. And it’s very easy to have some fun.

So, to conclude, here are some of the pictures with captions:

Meet Our Marketing Vendors

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As part of the May Marketing workshop, we are hosting a mini-market, in which a selection of local authors, and other related talents, will be selling their wares. These stalls will be Cash Only, so please consider bringing along a bit of extra money ($20-100), and support the local talent.

If you wish to join the market ($10 a table), visit this page for further details.

Deb Donnell
Keswin Publishing

Deb Donnell
Deb Donnell’s stall from our Developmental Editing workshop.

Deb Donnell is one of our presenters. She has several books on Christchurch available, including the very powerful Responders photo book and two slim slim collections of Christchurch before/after photographs (great for overseas posting), as well as her Creating Writing Diamonds guides. You can view more of her books (and get an idea of prices) from her website:


Angela “LemurKat” Oliver
Author and illustrator

Angela’s stall, from Sancon 2013

Angela is known for her quirky and unique style of animal art. She will have a selection of wares, including her two books: Aroha’s Grand Adventure and Fellowship of the Ringtails (for today, $20 each), plus art cards originals (from $10), postcard prints ($2 each) and more!


Shelley Chappell

once upon a time close
Shelley doing a reading from her book at the Tin Palace, Lyttelton

Shelley Chappell writes fairy tales and other fantasy fiction for all ages. She is the author of a range of short stories and novellas, including Beyond the Briar: A Collection of Romantic Fairy Tales for young adults and adults (for sale at the market today, at the special price of $15).


Nicola Mauchline

Nicola Mauchline in London

One reader describes Nicola’s writing as “deeply personal and provoking” and that you can feel the author’s heart in her books. The beginnings of Nicola’s first novel, Her Long Goodbye, were born out of her own dance with love, but three years on it has turned into much more. Nicola had thought she would only write one book, however in July she will be releasing Her Long Wait. This book is the final book in the romance trilogy, Her Long Goodbye, and will be the fourth book in four years that Nicola has released. Nicola mainly writes romance, however she has also written a Christian non-fiction book about thriving and is currently working on a fictional/non-fictional book based around the Christchurch earthquakes.

Limited copies of Nicola’s books will be available for purchase at the Marketing Workshop, with further copies being available at the Her Long Wait book launch, scheduled for July. The books normally retail for $18 each, however during the Marketing Workshop, she will be selling Her Long Goodbye and Her Waiting List $15 each and Called to Thrive for only $10.


Justin and Jasper Harrison


Justin and Jasper, father and son writing team

The Adventures of Jasper and Sharkcrock in Magictopia.

“…a delightful, humorous, original, action packed story that any primary school student would love to read.” Deborah Harding Browne, Halswell Community News

About the Authors

Jasper Harrison: Born in 2006 in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has had a love of books from a very early age. His love of adventure, and an active imagination have combined to produce this, the first book in the Magictopia series. Magictopia is his world. By the way, he was only 6 years old when we wrote this!

Justin Harrison: Born in 1975 in Tuatapere, New Zealand. Had a lot of fun working with Jasper on this, helping to bring Jasper’s many fantastic ideas together.

Copies will be available for sale on the day. RRP$15, but a special price of $10 per copy for the workshop.


J.L. O’Rourke
Millwheel Press

Jenner with her display at our Developmental Editing workshop

Jenner Lichtwark (writing as J.L. O’Rourke) writes mystery for all ages. Her YA urban fantasy Severn series sees murder, kidnapping and vampires backstage at a local theatre company, while her adult mystery Power Ride is the first of a series of cosy murders set around a Christchurch rock band. Blood in the Wings, Chains of Blood and Power Ride, and her children’s book Agatha by Airmail, will be available at a special price of $10 each.

Marketing Workshop (22nd May 2016)

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InternetAre you a self-published writer but struggling to get your work noticed? Are you a new writer just trying to make a name for yourself? Are you confused about the term author’s platform? Are you a daunted by the beast known as social media?

Then the next workshop in the 2016 series of Christchurch Writers’ Guild workshops is just what you need.

Marketing for Writers

Sunday May 22, 2016, 10am – 4pm
South Library, 66 Colombo St, Cashmere
(Parking is across street by river outlet)

Half day: $20
Full day: $30 (CWG members), $40 (non-members)

Topics include:

  • Author bios
  • Book blurbs
  • Social media
  • Twitter fun (not just the Twitter pitch)
  • Author websites
  • Blogs
  • And so much more fun…

This workshop is a day of hands-on excitement, with the odd informative session thrown in for good measure. Whether you are a new writer, just starting out, or an established author, but struggling to make heads or tails of the new marketing technologies, then this workshop is for you.

The full programme for this workshop can be found here.
Registrations are now open through Dash Tickets. (Be advised that an administration fee applies, imposed by Dash Tickets.) Door sales will be available, depending on the number of advanced registrants. Spaces are limited. Members, check your emails for the membership discount code. (Discount available only through the on-line registration system. Promo Codes are entered at the time of checkout to get your discount.)

As part of the workshop, we will be hosting a Workshop Market, where published authors and other industry professionals will have their books and other products on display for purchase. It’s all about marketing, so what better place to do it. You can find more details about joining the Workshop Market here.

Or meet the vendors here.

Not a member of the Christchurch Writer’s Guild? Not a problem. There’s no time like the present. Join here.

This workshop is proudly sponsored by:

Black Wolf Editorial Services

Keswin Publishing Ltd

Writing Diamonds Ltd

A Night of LEGO and Worlds… So Much Fun…

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On Wednesday, March 16th, 2016, CWG hosted our World Building workshop at Imagination Station. Boy, oh boy… So much fun and full of laughs.

Into the pit, and build your setting -- literally
Into the pit, and build your setting — literally

From word go, the workshop was not what people expected. So many came in and sat at the tables scattered around the place, not realising that when we said that we would be playing with LEGO, we meant it. It was a hands on experience, literally building our worlds.

Seeing a setting from your stories is fun...
Seeing a setting from your stories is fun…

“Into the pit every get, and start building that setting that is playing around in your heads.” So into the pit everyone went and the creations began. Some were contemporary and modern, while others were futuristic and dsytopian. Others were classic fantasy, and a few took us back to the beginnings of time itself. There was the abstract and the real. Every flavour of design was represented, but it wasn’t about the setting alone.

So is that what the Spark satellite meant to look like?
So is that what the Spark satellite meant to look like?

World building, as many writers know, is about every aspect of the world that your characters live in: politics, religion, societal norms, customs and belief, not just the physical setting. Every aspect needed to be examined. So as the ideas started to flow, the thoughts were applied to paper.

I'll have a pint of your finest...
I’ll have a pint of your finest…

The religious figure heads that tell us lies to maintain our obedience were ousted for who they were. The societies that rely on those who live on the lower levels were revealed. The office space that was so full of furniture that the characters were tripping over themselves came into light. And the trees that seeded the mist were discovered.

Some ideas started at the beginning of time...
Some ideas started at the beginning of time…
Ideas streamed forward and we had to get them on paper.
Ideas streamed forward and we had to get them on paper.

Like all things within a writer’s repertoire, LEGO helped this small group of writers to free their minds to the possibilities of their complex worlds. I know a few of them will visit Imagination station again, just to keep the ideas flowing. Just don’t eat the LEGO!

Don't eat the LEGO
Don’t eat the LEGO


Come and join us on Facebook or Twitter.

If you liked this post, you can find others like it here.

January Workshop: editing (part 2)

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Continuing on from last week’s: Part 1

After an enjoyable lunch and a quick stretch of the legs, it was back into the boardroom for our afternoon lectures on Developmental Editing: the Editing Skills Every Writer Needs.

Jenner Millwheel Press

Jenner Lichtwark, from Millwheel Press, was one of our sponsors, and also our third lecturer. She has worked as a journalist, and is a freelance editor, publisher and author. Her presentation was on Voice, Backstory and Staying on Track.

She spoke of the importance of choosing the right time in the narrative to begin—reinforcing the mantra of “start late, leave early”—and selecting the right narrator, and voice, to write in. If one character is the focus of your story, and appears in every scene, then first person is the best option for you: it allows the writing style to be more colloquial, and more personal, creating a greater intimacy. She also recommended that the writer stay open to changing characters if the plot demands it.

After Voice we delved into Plot and the importance of keeping the story on track. The plot must be structured so that the ending is the end of the story you started to tell, and that you haven’t meandered off on a wild tangent. Even for pantser writers like myself, it is best to have the skeleton of the story in mind although, like a skeleton, it will require bones to make it work. How to cope when you do feel your work has wandered away off into the wild woods (a common cause of Writer’s Block)? Go back to where you strayed from the path, and choose the trail that gets you closer to the end you had intended!

Backstory is a case of the “Iceberg Theory”: the writer needs to know everything, or almost everything, but the reader only needs to know what is relevant to the plot. Dripfeed it in early to foreshadow future events. Hint at it in conversations and action. Beware of info-dumping paragraphs of exposition, you’ll lose the reader’s interest.

And, most importantly, you don’t need to resolve every bit of backstory. It’s always fun to leave a few threads hanging and the reader hungry for more —thus opening the path to a sequel, leaving it up to the reader’s imagination or, heck, who knows, you may even inspire fanfiction!

Shelley Chappell 2

Our final speaker was Dr. Shelley Chappell. She has a PhD in literature and works as an advisor at the University of Canterbury. She spoke to us on Literary Criticism.

Literary Criticism, for those of us who have not studied it at university, is the analysis, interpretation, classification and evaluation of literature. And it proved to be quite an insightful lecture.  First, she suggested that we look beyond the plot and into genre, setting, structure, characterisation, audience, theme and more. She then talked us through the process of close-reading, looking for insights into the story such as recurring motifs, metaphoric representations/imagery and into structure such as sentence length, use of words, repetition (intentional, or not?). We were then encouraged to practice close-reading on a sample she handed to us (or on our own work), which turned out to be more of a challenge than I would have expected.

Finally, we looked deeper into the subconscious messages we might be conveying in our stories, such as playing to clichés and tropes, as well as unintentially incorporating prejudices, or things that could be perceived as prejudices. This was a little disconcerting for me, as it illuminated some issues in my own novels, which I may have to be careful with.

After that, many of the attendees departed, with much to think on, educated and, hopefully, inspired. Those receiving critiques remained, to await their ten minute slot with the chosen editor. Overall, I felt enlightened, not just by new knowledge gained, but also by the feeling of connection and kinship with my fellow writers.

Our next workshop, Marketing for Writers, will be held on Sunday, May 22nd, 2016.


avatar-angAngela Oliver is a writer and illustrator, a reader and a dreamer. She has two titles available on Amazon, both in physical and ebook format.

January Workshop: Editing (part 1)

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On January the 30th, we held the first in our series of 2016 workshops, Developmental Editing: the Editing Skills Every Writer Needs. This full day program offered four guest speakers, plus offered one-on-one critiques of manuscripts. We were supported by a strong attendance – the venue was full! – with writers coming from the Guild, the Hagley Writers School and the wider Christchurch community.

We started the program at 10am, with an introduction by Janine Lattimore, the Guild secretary. Then our first guest speaker, Barbara Arnold took the stage to discuss “Dialogue and the Traps”.


Barbara is an author and has previously tutored at the University of Canterbury. She is also published in various collections and has penned a series of historic novels available through Amazon and your local library.

She first talked us through the basics of dialogue and its role in narrative: how it can reveal information in an accessible manner (including backstory), show a character’s personality and relationships, and advance the plot, amongst other functions. Any dialogue that does not fulfil any of the above is nothing more than filler, and should be reconsidered or removed from the narrative.

Dialogue should also be realistic, but not real, and every character needs a “voice” of their own. And, I’m sure many of you will be pleased to note: bad grammar is perfectly acceptable in dialogue, as are cliches (although please do not overdo the latter).

We also discussed dialogue tags – the overuse of “said”, when to replace it with other adjectives, and when not to, as well as alternatives to using tags at all. For a bit of fun, we got to list adjective alternatives, which could change the shape of the story somewhat dramatically. Best bit of advice: alternatives are powerful tools, to be used sparingly and to the best impact. And an adjective is better than an adverb. (ie: ‘”stop!” he shouted’ VS ‘”stop!” he said loudly.’)

Second presenter was freelance editor, Judy Mohr, speaking on “What is Editing? Why and Who?”

Judy L Mohr 2

Beginning first with the “who needs an editor?” (answer: anyone who intends to share their book with the world), she educated us on the various types of editors available and various stages of editing: from developmental editor to the final copy-editor and proofreader. Also, sharing with us a few tips and tricks to make the way easier – and cheaper – for self-publishers.

Her lecture was particularly useful because it highlighted how many different stages there are to the editing process; finishing the first draft is a huge achievement, but it is really only the first step upon your publishing journey. Finding beta readers, compatible critiquing partners and a good editor are all necessary in transforming your story from a manuscript into a strong and polished novel. And yes, I’m afraid that does involve a lot of work – and several exhausting rewrites!

You can read a little of her lecture here.

We then parted for a short lunch, before continuing on with the afternoon lectures.

Deb Donnell

Deb Donnell, of Keswin Publishing and Writing Diamonds was one of our sponsors for this event. She set up a lovely display with Keswin Publishing’s Christchurch-themed books: Responders, and Christchurch, NZ 2015, as well as her introductory books to the Writing Diamond Publishing System.

She also provided her services as one of our Editors in the Critiquing Program.

The workshop was sponsored by:

Millwheel Press
Black Wolf Editorial Services
Writing Diamonds Ltd

Keswin Publishing Ltd

The Workshop Report will continue next week.

Editing: The Who, What and When

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At the end of January, the Christchurch Writers’ Guild held a workshop on Developmental Editing. Judy L Mohr (writer and freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services) was one of the presenters. This post was basically what she spoke about.

March Workshop: Creating Worlds

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The Christchurch Writers’ Guild are pleased to announce the second in our 2016 Workshop Series:

Creating Worlds:
World Building Tips and Techniques

Wednesday 16th March, 2016 from 7-9pm
Imagination Station, Shop 3,
Cathedral Junction, 113 Worcester Street, 8011, Christchurch


World building is not just about creating fantastical otherworlds — it is also about creating a tangible, real, environment for your characters and stories. The politics, the religion, and the legends. The topography, the medicines, and the social structures. All of it must be explored. From the ancient cultures through to the modern information era and beyond, regardless the world, they must feel real.

Come join us for this interactive workshop on designing and developing your character’s world. With LEGO!

Registrations are now open through Dash Tickets. (Be advised that fees apply for credit card charges.)

Door sales will be available, depending on the number of advanced registrants. Spaces are limited.

Our Guest Speaker is Judy L Mohr: editor, writer and world-builder. While her initial training was in scientific writing, her real passion is for fiction, where the imagination can run wild. Her editorial credits span multiple genres, including fantasy, thrillers, woman’s fiction, and scientific research publications. Judy’s personal writing is of a fantasy and science-fiction flair, filled with adventure, dark monsters, humour and romance. Her settings range from the modern military culture through to imaginary medieval societies. Her biggest philosophy when it comes to world-building is that even if it’s fake, it needs to be real. You can learn more about Judy and her personal writing endeavours at