Last summer my writing progressed well. I had the support of my friend and writing coach, a new website, I’d launched a book and I enjoyed writing again. I sent out short stories to publications and I got good feedback from them. I made friends in the writing community.

I still had my seven fantasy books to write. All were plotted out, some had been written, and I had even started writing the first book several years ago in darker days. However, the writing wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, and I didn’t know how to fix it.

Step in Richard Thomas. Following a post on the Horror Writer’s Association Facebook page, I discovered the University of Richard – writing workshops run by novelist, editor and Bram Stoker Award winner, Richard Thomas. All his courses sounded interesting, but what drew my attention was his Novel in a Year course – an intensive 12 month course that would take you from novel idea to complete, edited manuscript. Now I knew how to get my fantasy series off to the right start.

I signed up to The Novel in a Year course, and Richard suggested I take his Short Story Mechanics course at LitReactor too, to get a feel for his teaching style and help change my short stories from good to great.

At the same time, Alban Lake offered a wonderful support package for NaNoWriMo. Even though November seemed far in the distance, I signed up for it too.

Richard’s short story mechanics class was marvelous. I pushed my writing in new directions, shared writing tips with my local writing group and felt a glimmer of hope grow from the seed of joy buried deep inside me.

Alas, it was not to continue.

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