Course Concept Test


Hello everyone, I am looking for 15 people to take part in a test course with me so that I can work out the concept of a new course with your feedback. The course is going to be 10 weeks long and focused on writing longer short stories (3,000 words plus) inspired by different chapters of the Tao Te Ching, which is a huge interest of mine!

Will be great for those of you who want to write longer stories and if you have any interest in finding out more about Daoism and how its philosophy can help us write stories with real depth and resonance that talk to some of the most important issues of our current times.

You’ll get detailed developmental feedback on 5 of the 10 stories you’ll create and short feedback on the course forum on the other 5. I’ll also ask you to take part in feedback surveys to help me develop the course further for the final version. You don’t need to write 3,000 words every week but there will be a writing prompt each week, which you can share your response to in the course forum, even if you’ve only written a couple of hundred words. The same goes for the stories you can send after the course, they can be any word count but the course is focused on ending up with longer short stories and the examples I’ll be using in the course will be longer.

As it is a test, the price is just £100. We will start on the first Monday in December (there will be a break for the festive season) and the course will run on our community platform within a private forum space (if you’re not already a member you’ll have full access to the wider community for the duration of the course too.

Content will be posted weekly, with a break for festive season, and it will be accessible 24/7 so you can work through it at any time that suits you best.

Really looking forward to it and I hope you’ll join me!

You can book on this link: and I will send more info.

Amanda x

Courses Comp Winners

We have our winners for the one-off comp we ran in July to win places on our fab courses. We read lots of great stories and are delighted to bring you these three winning stories on the theme of COURSE.

First Place: Pain Relief by Linda Grierson-Irish

Why we chose it: Loved this take on the theme and the course where women are sharing their pain. The women all came to life so vividly and the final line tells us so much about Lil and makes the story hers even though she’s not the narrator.

Second Place: Just Desserts by Alison Wassell

Why we chose it: A whole lifetime of a relationship with food and family contained in 460 words. The daughter-in-law’s defiance about her eating being policed really got me on her side and then the ending upturned everything I’d felt about the mother-in-law.

Third Place: How to Survive on Mars by Cheryl Markosky

Why we chose it: Brilliant take on the theme with the course of a life cleverly being intertwined with a course of an imaginary spaceship. Loved the imagery and the restrained emotion that made it all the more resonant.

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Courses Comp Shortlist

Well done again to all the writers who made the longlist of our flash comp to win lots of our writing courses. There are tough decisions to be made to get from long to shortlists in all the contests we run so congrats to the writers of the following stories. No telling which is yours though!

  • How to survive on Mars
  • Just Desserts
  • Lessons on How to Plot a Course
  • Nothing is Normal Today
  • Pain Relief
  • The River Will Carry Her Home

We’ll announce the winners as soon as we can! Good luck to all for the final round!

Courses Comp Longlist

Many thanks to everyone who sent a story for our one-off comp to win Crazy About Courses Memberships or a place on the Fantastic Flashing online course starting in October.

We loved reading all the different takes on the Courses theme and delighted to announce our longlist. No telling which story is yours if it’s on the list!

Longlisted Stories

  • “…course”
  • Head South
  • How she ended up here she has no idea
  • How to survive on Mars
  • Just Desserts
  • Lessons on How to Plot a Course
  • Nothing is Normal Today
  • One Way, Then The Other
  • Pain Relief
  • Sailing Lessons for Beginners
  • The Course of Action Needed is Obvious, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy
  • The Horrors
  • The River Will Carry Her Home

Congrats to all and good luck for the next round!

Novel Creator Course success story: Red Dirt Girl by C.A. Lupton

We’re delighted to welcome C.A. Lupton to the blog today to chat about her debut novel, Red Dirt Girl, which she wrote on our Novel Creator Course with mentoring from Amanda Saint. Congratulations Carol!

Can you tell us more about the novel?
Red Dirt Girl is something of a hybrid: part noir-detective; part speculative fiction. Set in a nondescript post-European state in the late 2000s, it explores the likely course – and possible consequences – of human genetic modification, or ‘species-editing’.

The loss of habitable land mass has led to limits on human reproduction and only the chosen can breed. It’s the hottest summer on human record and tension between the reproductive ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is rising to the boil. In this steamy mix, Detective Cooper-Clark (Coop to his friends) finds the body of a young woman, recently miscarried of an illegal baby. Convinced that the lost child is the key to her murder, Coop is drawn into the murky waters of state-sponsored eugenics and to the heart of an existential struggle over the control of human reproduction.

You revised the first draft of Red Dirt Girl on our Novel Creator Course so can you let us know what aspects of the course were most helpful for you?
At the time I enrolled on the course led by Amanda and Craig, my confidence as a writer was running on empty. After a working life in academia, I had assumed that writing pure fiction would be a comparatively easy process and I produced a first full draft quite quickly. Initial feedback from ‘beta’ readers (i.e. not friends or family) however identified a range of issues, such as character, pace, plot, which starkly revealed the arrogance of my assumption: writing fiction is a difficult business and I needed to learn the tricks of the trade.

Amanda and Craig’s course provided the ideal means to this end. A detailed initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of my writing, supported by well-planned course materials and insightful feedback, helped me to improve every aspect of the manuscript. More than anything however, the fact that an experienced literary professional was prepared to take my novel seriously, helped me to believe in the book again and in my ability as a writer. Had I not joined the course, I doubt that Red Dirt Girl would have seen the light of day.

What are you working on now?
Red Dirt Girl was conceived as a trilogy – each book exploring a different dimension of the
issue of species modification. The second book, Pigus – focusing on ‘genetic chimerism’, or
the creation of hybrid human/animal life forms – is currently underway, greatly assisted by
the learning, and the self-confidence, that I gained from attending Craig and Amanda’s
excellent course.

Thanks so much for coming along and telling us more about your book and your experience writing it with us on our course. We can’t wait to read the next in the series!

Red Dirt Girl is an excellent read and you can get a copy in bookshops online and off.

Pitch to Win 2022 Winners

Thanks so much to everyone who sent us their pitches for the novels they’d like to write with help from our courses and mentoring. There really are a lot of brilliant novels being written.

We’ve had a difficult choice to make picking the three winners from our shortlist. All of the pitches had so much that was great about them. So well done to all and congratulations to our winners!

First Prize: The Time It Takes To Paint A Picture by Claire Schön

Claire’s winning pitch:

Becky and Lisa rekindle their friendship online after twenty-five years. Encouraged by Lisa, Becky changes her life, only to discover Lisa died some time ago.

Why we chose it: Instantly connects us to the characters, sets up huge scope for conflict and poses so many questions! Who is pretending to be Lisa and why have they targeted Becky? What has Becky done to change her life and what does she do when she finds out the truth? We want to know! Really looking forward to working with Claire to develop this novel.

Claire wins a place on our year-long, online Novel Creator Course.

Second Prize: The Death Of Doris Dainty by Anne Hamilton

Anne’s winning pitch:

For sixty years, twins and ex-Magdalene Laundry girls, Annie and Zeta, planned the perfect murder. Except now it’s all spoiled – because they haven’t been caught…

Why we chose it: Stories with twins always have so much scope for intrigue and mystery and one with a perfect murder at the heart of it instantly sets our minds off on loads of different paths. And the fact that these women want to get caught is so intriguing. Can’t wait to find out more!

Anne wins the Start Your Novel online course with a mentoring session.

Third Prize: Duty of Care by Sally Curtis

Sally’s winning pitch:

When multiple scandals rock a school, the Principal’s own lawless secrets face exposure. Murder is the only option, but someone is watching her every move.

Why we chose it: Multiple scandals, a murdering school principle and someone who suspects what she’s up to give us so much conflict. Plus there’s the added layer of the murderer being someone who should be looking after the kids in her school.

Sally wins two mentoring sessions: a Structure & Plot Surgery with C.M. Taylor and a Character Clinic with Amanda Saint.

Well done to everyone who was shortlisted, longlisted and sent a pitch!

The 2022-23 Novel Creator Course starts in September if you’d like to write, or revise, a draft with 1-1 mentoring, support and motivation all the way through!