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

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:

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.