Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 4)

Hook, line and sinker: alumnus Conor Sneyd’s path to publishing his debut novel Future Fish

Back in 2018, Conor Sneyd took City’s Novel  Writing and Longer Works course taught by Martin Ouvry. 2023 sees the publication of his debut comedy novel, Future Fish. Read on to find out more about Conor’s writing journey.

 

Author photo of Conor Sneyd

Conor Sneyd, author of Future Fish

Conor Sneyd was born and raised in Dublin, where he studied English Literature at Trinity College. After a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he spent several years working as an environmental and animal rights activist. The larger-than-life characters he encountered in this field served as inspiration for his debut novel, Future Fish. We caught up with Conor to find out more about his experience on the course and his subsequent publishing deal.

How did you find the Novel Writing course at City?

“I really enjoyed it. The instructor was enthusiastic and encouraging, but also very laid back about homework and assignments, so it never felt like I was back at school! Every week we’d do a mixture of reading, writing and giving each other feedback, which meant each lesson was nice and varied, and the two hours always flew by.”

How did the course impact on your writing journey?

I started writing my novel Future Fish as one of the assignments for the course, so it definitely had a big impact on my journey. Besides all the technical advice and feedback, I think the most valuable part of the course was just being in an environment where I could start to take my writing seriously. Up until that point, it had just been a hobby, but suddenly it felt like finishing a novel and getting it published was actually an achievable goal.

Did you stay in touch with your classmates and continue to give each other feedback on your work?

Yes, a group of us continued to meet up regularly for several months after to share feedback and moral support on the lonely writing journey. The instructor Martin joined us on several occasions too.”

How important do you think these kinds of courses are in a writer’s evolution?

I think there are several different elements a writer needs to be successful, including technical skills, motivation, and feedback from readers. There are lots of different ways you can go about getting these, but the great thing about a writing course is that it brings them all together in a neat little ten-week package. The feedback I received from my classmates was particularly valuable. It can be scary sharing your writing with somebody you’re just getting to know, but the fact that we were all in the same boat made it a lot less daunting.”

 What was the process of finishing the novel like? How did you motivate yourself and how long did it take?

It was a long old process – about three years from starting the novel to sending it out to publishers. Then there was several months of waiting, followed by more editing work once it had been accepted. Writing the first draft was definitely the hardest part. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and that everything I wrote was crap. But I knew I just had to keep going, and so I pushed myself to plough through it without worrying too much about the quality. Once that first draft was done, I was able to go back and polish it up on later drafts. There was still a lot of work to do, but at that point, I’d come too far to give up!”

Can you tell us a bit about your publishing experience, both pre and post publication?

It was a difficult experience, I can’t lie. I’d worked so hard to finish the book, and now the final step – actually getting it published – felt like it was out of my hands. All I could do was send out my synopsis and sample chapters and keep my fingers crossed.

I initially approached a few agents, but the feedback I received from them was that although they liked my writing, they thought the book was just a little too weird and wild for a mainstream publisher, and so they weren’t able to represent it. Eventually I changed my strategy and started approaching smaller publishers directly, figuring they’d be more willingly to take a chance on something outside the box. Lightning Books caught my eye as they’d published some similarly absurd comedies before, and I was delighted when they said they were interested.”

What’s it like to be a published novelist?

It’s exciting, but surreal! The process of getting the book out into the world is so long, there’s not really one single moment where it all hits you. I’m currently in this strange in-between stage where the preview copies have been sent out, and people have started reading them, but the book hasn’t officially been released yet. Maybe once launch day arrives on March 9th, and I see it in a bookshop for the first time, it will finally feel real!”

 And what are you working on now?

“I’ve just started working on novel number two – a modern retelling of King Lear, with an absurd comedy twist.”

 

Thanks so much, Conor, and very best of luck with publication day!

Cover picture of Conor Sneyd's debut novel Future Fish with picture of a red fish hanging from a chain

Future Fish by Conor Sneyd

Future Fish  is available to pre-order here.

City’s Novel Writing and Longer Works short course runs every evening for ten weeks and takes students through the building blocks of writing a novel from creating characters through to developing plots.

For more on all our creative writing courses, visit our home page here.

And if you’re already a current or past writing short course student, why not enter our City Writes competition. See here for more details.

Five soft skills employers are looking for: what they are and how to develop them

In an increasingly virtual world, soft skills have become essential to succeed in today’s workplace. So what are the most important soft skills and how can you go about developing them?

While hard skills are usually obtained through training programmes and formal education, soft skills are to do with who people are – their character traits and interpersonal skills – and how they relate to other people in the workplace. Soft skills are now prerequisites for employers looking to recruit their best teams. Indeed, the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2021-22 report on the State of the Workplace found that 77% of HR professionals cited the importance of developing managers’ soft skills to better meet current workforce expectation.

Read on for the top five soft skills and how you can start to cultivate them.

Communication

Photograph of yellow telephone set on yellow background

Let’s Talk

Successful communicators don’t just know what to say, they know how to say it; they understand the importance of non-verbal communication; and, crucially, they know how to listen. These are all critical skills to develop if you want to take an active role in the workplace, make an impact, and have a chance to progress within your chosen field.

Let’s talk

Being an effective communicator is not something we are born with. Fortunately you can get better at communicating by practising the skills required. First, take an inventory of the ways in which you interact with colleagues on any given day. What did you say? How did you say it? Did you give any nonverbal cues? How well were you really listening? Make notes and see where you were most effective and authentic and where you feel there is room for improvement. Once you know what your weaker areas are you can then start to work on building those skills.

City’s Presentation Skills short course is taught by Karen Glossop. Karen read Classics at Cambridge University and trained as an actor at Mountview. Since 1997, she has tutored groups and individuals in areas such as leadership, personal impact, presentation and speech-making, communication and influencing, writing for business and creativity. As Karen puts it:

“People often say they want to be more confident. I can’t snap my fingers and make that happen, but I can equip them with practical skills that will lead to confidence if they put in the work. This confidence is their success, not mine. My job is to make sure people have the techniques to relax in front of an audience; to encourage them to think analytically – and creatively – about how to structure a speech or presentation; and to nudge them to take positive risks in how they present themselves and their message. Everything I do is driven by the belief that the need to communicate is fundamental to our humanity.”

You might also find our Effective Communication and Interpersonal Skills course useful to help develop your communication skills.

Creativity

Photograph of lightbulb on beach against a sunset.

Lightbulb Moment

Creativity is vital for innovation and as important for mathematicians and scientists as it is for writers and artists. Linkedin’s 2022 Global Talent Report now puts creativity as one of the current top five in-demand skills for employers. And no wonder. Creative-minded colleagues make excellent problem-solvers; contribute energy and dynamism to their teams; and are able to see the bigger picture at work.

Light the Fuse

Not feeling particularly creative yourself? Don’t worry. There are many ways we can all start to be more creative. Start by asking more questions; observe a situation before stepping in; experiment with new ways of thinking and approaching a subject; make more connections; and network within and across teams. It’s also important to get your mind in the right state to receive new, more creative ideas. Often this is when we are most relaxed and not overthinking. Taking regular breaks at work, staying active, having a daily meditation practice and allowing your mind to rest can all give space for ideas on the brain’s back burner to come into conscious awareness.

Our creative writing short courses at City provide an excellent space to explore your creativity. Start with An Approach to Creative Writing and move on to try Novel Writing and Longer Works or Short Story Writing. Taught by writers and editors, our writing courses will help you build your creative skills through storytelling and fiction writing.

Language learning also provides an opportunity to become more creative. Learning a language has been proven to (LINK TO OTHER POST) boost brain power and fire up those neurons essential for discovering new ways of thinking and approaching a subject. You’ll get the added bonus of practicing your networking skills with our interactive classes with plenty of opportunity for pair and group work.

Emotional Intelligence

Photo of nine Lego Mini figure heads with range of emotional expressions from neutral to fuming.

Multi-faceted

Emotional intelligence as a concept was first popularised by Dan Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence. Today the World Economic Forum defines emotional intelligence as one of its top ten in-demand professional skills. It’s not hard to see why. Leaders with emotional intelligence are routinely better able to resolve conflicts; collaborate with others; build psychological safety within teams and coach and motivate others.

I hear you

The good news? Emotional intelligence is something you can develop. First try to manage your negative emotions. When someone annoys you at work, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Excuse yourself to go for a toilet break if you need. Then come back when you’re calmer. You’ll make better decisions and you’ll be better able to listen. Think about the language you’re using to communicate at work. Could it be clearer? Is there room for improvement? Put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes and practice active empathy. How can you let your colleagues know, verbally or non-verbally, that you appreciate and understand their position, even if you don’t agree? Try to become more cognisant of what triggers you towards stress. If you’re someone who gets stressed when they read work emails, make sure not to have your phone on in your bedroom or set a time limit after which you no longer check your emails. Try to practice being optimistic rather than complaining. We are what we do and the more you complain, the more you will find something to complain about. Reminding yourself of what you have to be grateful for, however small, can increase our optimism and allow us to contribute at work, and home, in a more positive way.

City’s two Positive Psychology courses are both taught by Tim Le Bon and are a great way to improve your emotional intelligence. Tim has a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Trinity College, Oxford and an MPhil in Philosophy from the University of London. He is a qualified life coach and psychotherapist and the author of Wise Therapy: Philosophy for Counsellors; Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology; and 365 Ways to be More Stoic.

“I originally studied PPE and really took to the philosophy part of the course,” says Tim. “The idea that we could reflect on how to live better was exciting and new to me. In my twenties I undertook further study in psychology.

“I then worked in IT for a company called Logica, where I really enjoyed my work and the camaraderie with fellow workers. But in my late twenties, I found something was missing. I wanted to make a positive difference to people’s lives and I wanted to do something that I was really passionate about. When I asked myself “is this how I want to spend the majority of my time?” the answer was a resounding “no”. So I trained as a counsellor, psychotherapist, life coach and teacher. I find my work now much more meaningful.

“Over the ten weeks students learn about the practical topics of Positive Psychology, such as happiness, positive emotions, achievement, positive relationships, mindfulness and compassion. They also learn evidence-based techniques to help them become happier, achieve more and be more mindful. Homework is set each week around activities aimed at helping students achieve these techniques.”

 

Adaptability

Photo of scrabble letters on white background.

Resistance is Futile

Despite being one of life’s only real certainties, human beings are notoriously resistant to change. How we respond to change – and the challenges that are change’s inevitable companion – depends on our ability to adapt. Flying off the handle when things don’t go according to plan will not buy you friends at work, or home.  Putting your head in the sand and hoping you can ignore the consequences of change will most likely damage you, your team and your organisation. A colleague who can show true adaptability to any situation, good or bad, is a huge asset to an organisation and more likely to be adept at other soft skills such as creativity.

Turn on a dime

Start by reframing your thinking. See challenges as opportunities rather than threats. See if you can get ahead of any potential challenges coming down the track and try to be an early adopter of change. Take advantage of any training courses your employers offer, particularly on resilience. Share your learning with your team; often seeing a colleague successfully take on new challenges can inspire others within a team to adapt and grow further.

City’s Leadership and Management short course is an excellent way to enhance your ability to adapt by learning practical tips on how to succeed in today’s job’s market.

Critical Thinking

Photo of man dressed in black clothes and black beanie hat with glasses on and hands resting on chin in thoughtful pose.

Let’s See

Being able to step back from a situation and apply logic is invaluable in the workplace. Critical thinkers use their skills to analyse information – essential in our data-heavy modern world – look for patterns in that information; see where there are gaps; and use their findings to come up with innovative solutions and strategies to ongoing problems. Not only do colleagues with good critical thinking skills make great leaders, they also know how to prioritise and manage their time effectively which has knock-on effects for their teams and organisations.

Give it some thought

You can work towards improving your critical skills by taking time to consider the information in front of you. Don’t take anything at face value. Be as objective as possible and try to evaluate the data as rationally as possible. Ask questions. Is there anything missing from this information? Who funded the research/website/platform? How big was the data set? Whose voice is missing from the research? Evolve your ability to listen with empathy. Try not to insert your own opinion before you’ve heard what others have to say. Listen carefully and keep an open mind.

City has a range of courses which will help students develop their critical thinking skills. Through reading and discussion of set texts and examples on our non fiction writing courses such as Journalism Skills, Writing for Social Impact and Narrative Non Fiction, students learn to analyse theirs and others’ writing and provide constructive criticism on ways to make it stronger and clearer.  Our fiction writing courses – particularly our year-long Novel Studio programme – also help to strengthen students’ capacity for independent judgement and thought and to practice skills in critical reasoning and appreciation.

Our law short courses help students develop their critical thinking skills through the examination of key legal case determinations and analysis of evidence and decision-making processes.  While our computing short courses – particularly our Data Analysis courses – are designed to sharpen students’ ability to apply logic to their understanding and use of programming and data management.

For more on all our short courses – from Human Rights Law through to Python, take a look at our home page.

Or contact shortcourses@city.ac.uk to talk directly to one of our subject coordinators.

Controlling the Narrative Non-Fiction

Peter Forbes on the success of City’s Narrative Non-Fiction short course

Author photograph of writer and editor Peter Forbes

Tutor, science writer and editor, Peter Forbes

For over fifteen years, City has run its Narrative Non-Fiction short course. For almost a decade, one tutor has been at the helm.  Peter Forbes is a science writer with a special interest in the relationship between art and science. He initially trained as a chemist and worked in pharmaceutical and popular natural history publishing, whilst writing poems and articles for magazines such as New Scientist and World Medicine.

He has written numerous articles and reviews – many specialising in the relationship between the arts and science – for the GuardianIndependentThe TimesDaily MailFinancial TimesScientific AmericanNew ScientistWorld MedicineModern PaintersNew Statesman and many others.

Peter is also an editor. As editor of the Poetry Society’s Poetry Review from 1986-2002, he played a major role in the rise of the New Generation Poets. He has edited three anthologies: Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry (Viking, 1999), We Have Come Through (Bloodaxe, 2003) and The Picador Book of Wedding Poems (Picador, 2012). His book, The Gecko’s Foot, about the new science of bio-inspired materials, was published by Fourth Estate in 2005 and was long-listed for the Royal Society Prize. Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage (Yale University Press, 2009) won the 2011 Warwick Prize for Writing. He was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary University of London (2004-7) and at St George’s, University of London (2010-12).

“I loved science as a child,” Peter explains. “But fell out of love with it at university, so poetry took over for a long time. What thrills me about science now is that all of the naive questions I used to ask as a student – about the origin of life; about the development of form in living creatures – are well on the way to being answered, if they haven’t been already. I can’t resist trying to tell the world about all these discoveries.

“I owe my entree into teaching to the Royal Literary Fund (RLF). The RLF scheme involves one-to-one tutoring of university students and I discovered that I enjoyed this very much. It was through the RLF that I came to City. I then discovered that I enjoy teaching a class even more than one-to-one.

“Teaching is an animated, sociable activity, unlike the solitariness of a writer’s work. I enjoy seeing people grow in confidence. As everyone gets to know each other, our classes develop into a lively discussion group from which everyone learns from each other.

“The standard at City is high and many of the students have the potential to publish successfully. Success, though, requires more than talent and I try to inculcate the attitude necessary to cope with the frustrations and setbacks that dog any published writer’s life.”

Cover picture of Dee Peyok's book Away from Beloved Lover

Away from Beloved Lover by Dee Peyok

It would seem Peter’s advice has paid off. Alumni from the course have been phenomenally successful. This year alone sees the publication of three alumni books: Dee Peyok’s Away From Beloved Lover (Granta); Claire Martin’s Heirs of Ambition (The History Press); and Aniefiok Ekpoudom’s Where We Come From (Faber). (As Dee herself tweeted recently in response to Peter’s message of congratulation on her book: “Your class really set me on my path. I can’t recommend Peter and the course enough to anyone considering it.”) Other notable alumni successes include Ciaran Thapar’s acclaimed Cut Short (Penguin) (Ciaran now teaches his own course for City: Writing for Social Impact); Deidre Finnerty’s book Bessborough (Hachette); and Jack Price’s book on Stem Cell Therapy, The Future of Brain Repair (MIT).

Cover picture of Deidre Finnerty's book

Bessborough by Deidre Finnerty

So what’s the key to the course’s success? Peter explains: “In the first half of the course we work mainly with set topics and in the second half with the students’ own work. Besides the class sessions, every student gets individual written feedback on several assignments during the course. This is professional, hands-on editing that is hard to come by elsewhere.

“The 10-week course is an ideal format in which to develop your writing skills. The friendly, enabling environment of the class takes the sting out of the anxiety of offering up your thoughts for scrutiny. It is, in fact, a milieu that many writers, at a computer or alone in a library, pine for.”

Since the pandemic the course has been delivered online and can be joined remotely from anywhere in the world. Students have been known to log in from the UK, USA, India, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Ethiopia, Haiti, Uganda, and Malaysia. And from this term City are offering the course on two nights – Tuesdays with Peter and Thursdays with acclaimed writer and teacher Holly Rigby.

For more on the course visit the home page.

For more on our other writing short courses visit our page here.

The next course starts on 17 or 19 January.

What ‘The Rest is Politics’ taught us about learning a foreign language

The Rest is Politics is having a bit of a moment.

The odd-but-good pairing of Alastair Campbell — Tony Blair’s former Head of Communications — and Rory Stewart — former Conservative MP and London Mayoral candidate — exchanging views on their weekly current affairs podcast has proved an unexpected hit, with worldwide audience numbers now into six figures and a million downloads per episode.

photo of hand holding words hashtag study in blue sign against backdrop of tree-lined road

Always Be Learning

Photograph of Eiffel Tower in Paris

Parlez-vous francais?

As avid fans of the benefits of learning a language here at City, we were delighted to hear last week’s podcast in which Campbell pointed to the importance of mastering influential languages such as Mandarin and Arabic, and also to the value of learning any language for the process alone.

Both podcast hosts speak from experience. While Campbell is fluent in French and German, Stewart speaks eleven languages, including French, Latin, Greek, Dari (a form of Farsi), Nepali, Urdu, Indonesian and Serbo-Croat.

If after listening to their podcast you’re still in any doubt about why you should learn a language, here are five more reasons:

  1. Learning a language can increase your confidence and mental alertness

A 2019 Italian study, looking at the effects of language learning on adults between 59-79, found that it improves “global cognitive and re-organizes functional connectivity.”

  1. Learning a language can protect against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia

Several studies have found that language learning engages parts of the brain’s network that overlap with regions which can be negatively impacted by ageing.

  1. Learning a language can broaden your horizons

A 2021 UK government report recognised the value of learning a language to protect against ‘insularity and provide an opening to other cultures’.  And by being able to talk to more people, you’ll also be able to express yourself in a more diverse range of ways. A win-win!

Photo of Chinese lantern hanging inside a room

Chinese Whispers

4. Learning a language can make you more compassionate

A recent study found that bilingual children were ‘better at grasping other perspectives,’ something we could all do with more of in our increasingly polarised world.

  1. And if nothing else, learning a language is a useful exercise in humility

There’s nothing like learning a language to remind you of your fallibility! But being in a position of uncertainty can actually help you recognise the steps you need to close those knowledge gaps. No bad thing for any learner, or any human being for that matter!

For all City’s short online language courses, visit our languages home page.  We cover everything from Arabic to French, German, Korean and Japanese all taught by qualified, native speakers using the recognised framework of languages such as CEFR (for European languages), JLPT (for Japanese), or HSK (for Mandarin).

To learn from our students how they found learning with us, read our blog post here.

And if you’d like to talk through your options, just email our friendly team on shortcourses@city.ac.uk and they’ll be happy to help.

For all our other courses, visit our home page here.

Writing Short Courses News Summer 2022

We’re incredibly proud of our writing short course alumni and tutors. Here’s the latest on their writing journeys.

Novel Studio Alumni

Following a six-figure pre-emptive bid, Bloomsbury will publish a new fantasy series by Emma Norry, The Fable House, in April 2023. Emma is the author of Amber Undercover for OUP and Son of the Circus, part of Scholastic’s Voices series. Fablehouse draws on her personal experiences as a mixed-race child and teenager growing up in the care system in Cardiff.

Elizabeth Chakrabarty’s debut novel Lessons in Love and other Crimes has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.  She was also shortlisted for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022, and her story ‘That Last Summer’ was published in The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022: Crime Stories by Comma Press. More recently she was a runner up for the inaugural 2022 CrimeFest bursary for crime fiction authors of colour.

Marissa Henderson has been awarded the prestigious Stuart Hall Foundation CHASE AHRC studentship for BAME Arts and Humanities Researchers for her PHD which will see the completion of her novel, Sugar Water, an exploration of a Caribbean-British family’s individual and collective.

Vasundhara Singh has published her debut novel, Mistress, Mother with Ukiyoto Publishers.

Author photo of Pauline Walker

Novel Studio alumna Pauline Walker

During the Pandemic, Pauline Walker set up The Amplify Project with fellow writer Patricia Crumper, a podcast which invites black writers for the stage, page and screen to talk about ‘themselves, their work, what inspires them and why they write.’ You can listen here. Pauline was also recently asked by The Guardian Saturday magazine to write a feature on the new era of Black British theatre.

Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction alumna Emma Bielecki’s piece ‘Eh-ALL-ing: Finding Poland in London’ (a former City Writes winner) has been published in Elsewhere. This is the third piece from Narrative Non-Fiction alumni to appear in the journal.

Cover picture of Cut Short by Ciaran Thapar

Writing for Social Impact tutor Ciaran Thapar’s book, Cut Short

Following rave reviews for his debut non-fiction book, Cut Short – including this from Nikesh Shukla: “An incredibly important look at the plight of Britain’s youth, delivered with clarity, honesty and an open heart” –  Ciaran Thapar (now a City tutor, see below) released his book in paperback in June.

Cover picture of The Tongue she Speaks by Emma Grae

Writers’ Workshop alumna Emma Grae’s novel The Tongue She Speaks

Cover picture of Natasha Brown's Assembly

Writers’ Workshop alumna Natasha Brown’s debut novel, Assembly

Katy Darby’s Short Story Writing and Writers’ Workshop students have been incredibly successful. Natasha Brown was shortlisted for the Orwell Political Book Fiction Prize 2022 for her debut novel Assembly, early drafts of which were workshopped in Katy’s class. Michael Mann, who published his debut Ghostcloud in 2021, has a story in The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories, due out in October. Ghostcloud will be published in the US this September with Peachtree Publishing. Helga Viegas’ novel The Arctic was “Highly Commended” by the Bridport Prize, one of five books selected from over 2,000 submissions. Emma Grae’s second novel, The Tongue She Speaks, will be published by Luath Press in October. Fiona Keating has been signed by prestigious literary agents Greene and Heaton to represent her debut novel Peking Pear.

 

 

Karl King published his debut novel A Spell of Murders in June this year. Roly Grant’s story ‘Dust’ was the Richmond borough winner in Spread the Word’s City of Stories anthology, published in June. Robin Vicary’s novel An Adoration of Beauty (2021) has been selling well. His new novel, How the Light Shines, also a historical thriller/romance, is being published later this month by The Conrad Press. Jonathan Evans published his novel The Revisionist in July this year. He has also written a free novella – Origins – which reached No. 1 in its Amazon categories in the US and UK and is currently No. 2 in Teen & Young Adult Historical Romance eBooks in the UK. Jonathan also published Queen of Mirrors, a book for teenagers about a girl who finds a magical Goblin in her schoolbag, and has relaunched his Epic Fantasy novel The Master of Carn.

Theadora Broyd was longlisted for her story ‘Her Perfect’ in the Liars’ League July competition. Theodora is now enrolled to do a PhD with King’s College London on immigrant identity in Franco-Algerians. Anna Dempsey’s story was commended by the judge in the Bath Short Story Award. Andrew Simmons got an honourable mention in the second round of the nycmidnight 100-word microfiction challenge. And last but not least, Erica Buist has been hired as one of six writers in Stockroom Theatre’s Writers Room. The first play she co-wrote, ‘How a City Can Save the World’, was recently performed in Sheffield and noted as “shockingly brilliant” in this review. Erica is starting the Cambridge Creative Writing MSt in September.

New Courses

Our new interactive Introduction to Branding, held over three consecutive Monday evenings, will explore a full introduction to making your brand a success – from identifying your audience to how to write ‘on-brand’ for press releases, social media and digital marketing. You’ll also learn the basics of how to brief designers to create ‘on-brand’ visual assets and logos. Run by Anna Tsekouras and Pete Austin from Anon Agency this promises to be a turbo-charged Brand Copywriting 101!

We’re delighted to continue to offer our new Writing for Social Impact course, taught by Narrative Non-Fiction alumnus Ciaran Thapar. Aimed at anyone who wants to learn strategic and creative ways of achieving real-world social impact through their writing, the course will explore how to conduct interviews, execute ethical and impactful storytelling, and provide a call-to-action for readers. See below for more details on the scholarship available for this course.

There are plenty of other options for anyone keen on one-day writing courses: our ever-popular Introduction to Copywriting with Maggie Richards is available monthly; while our Writing the Memoir course will be taught by the brilliant Anna Wilson next term, and our Writing for the Web and Digital Media continues to be run by the expert broadcast journalist Holly Powell-Jones.

Tutor News

Novel Writing and Longer Works tutor Martin Ouvry’s article ‘How creative writing courses benefit a writer’ is in the 2023 edition of The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.

Writing for Children tutor Bryony Pearce was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger Award for a short story she wrote for an anthology called Criminal Pursuits. This anthology was written to raise money for the charity POhWER. She also has a book out on submission

Opportunities

Ciaran Thapar has initiated a scholarship for one young student (18-25) from a disadvantaged background to participate on his Writing for Social Impact course. Please contact the short courses team for more information on this opportunity.

All current students of Introduction to Copywriting, Writing for Business and Narrative Non-Fiction courses are eligible to submit an idea for a blog post for short courses. If the idea is accepted, and the written piece meets our standards, it will be professionally edited and published on the blog.

That’s all for now. Keep on writing and keep your stories coming into us. We love to hear what you’ve been up to. And huge congratulations to all our alumni and tutors. We’re so proud of you all!

For more on our writing courses, visit our home page here.

For more on all our short courses, visit our main page here.

Meet Our AutoCAD tutor, Thomas Haycocks

Cavity 777 Sculpture by Nick Ferguson

Continuing our series of interviews with some of the team behind City’s short courses, today we meet our AutoCAD tutor Thomas Haycocks.

Please tell us about yourself and your background

Macena Octopus Sculpture in conjunction with artist Suzie Wright

I come from a creative background in design and have used AutoCAD (computer Aided Design) in a wide range of projects over many years. I very much enjoy the accuracy and visual quality that AutoCAD brings. The drawings I produce are used by companies and often transferred directly to Computer Aided Machinery to be manufactured. I have worked on large scale building projects, exhibition designs and public sculptures. I have taught for over 20 years to all levels and very much enjoy the interaction that teaching brings.

 

What do you teach at City?

I run the AutoCAD courses. We offer a range of courses starting from beginners through to courses that provide students with a greater depth of knowledge and a higher professional level of skill.

Drawing by City AutoCAD Short Course Student

At City, the courses are taught through demonstrations using AutoCAD, the knowledge learnt is then reinforced and embedded through AutoCAD based tasks. The AutoCAD classes are structured so that each week a new topic is covered. Together, these classes combine to make the whole course.

Why do you think it’s important to learn skills like AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is used across many industries and professions. The programme is at the forefront of Computer Aided Design. Whether you want to use it for your own personal use or to build your employment skill set, it offers the ability to accurately draw up your tasks and manipulate the drawings to exactly how you want them.

What are your top three tips for learning AutoCAD?

  1. Understand the AutoCAD interface – This will enable you to gain confidence in using the programme so that you can draw and present exactly what you want.
  2. Use AutoCAD to draw up your own projects – This will enable you to become fluent in using the tools, commands and features of AutoCAD that are relevant to you.
  3. Explore AutoCAD – There are many features in AutoCAD that can be found by exploring the commands. Not all of them are easy to find, but once you know them, they can help in the construction and presentation of drawings

Why would you recommend learning AutoCAD at City?

The tutors are experienced and highly knowledgeable in their fields. The team at City running the short courses are very professional, organised and provide a strong support service.

Thank you, Thomas!

To find out more about the courses Thomas teaches at City, check out AutoCAD beginners and more advanced short courses.

For more information on all our Computing Short Courses visit our web page here.

City Writes Summer 2022 Competition Winners Announced

We’re delighted to announce the competition winners for 2022 summer term’s City Writes event showcasing the fabulous talent coming from City’s Short Courses. These wonderful winners will be joining debut writers and alumni of the Novel StudioAttiya Khan and Simon Culleton. You can register for the Zoom event on Thursday 7th July at 7pm here.

Our winners this term are:

Richard Bowyer

Richard Bowyer for his extract, ‘The Manton Ultimatum’.

Richard Bowyer is just completing City University’s Novel Studio course. The characters and setting in ‘The Manton Ultimatum’ are drawn from The White House, his novel in development. He likes to write about the nature of community and belonging, friendship and obligation, everyday heroes, inclusion and exclusion, and how decisions get made. Richard was born and brought up in Essex and now lives in West London with his demanding cat and understanding wife.

Jonathan Gallard

Jonathan Gallard for his story, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’.

Alumnus of the Short Story Writing course, Jonathan Gallard is a writer whose style and approach defies categorisation.  Mostly because he hasn’t written much, yet.

 

Orsolya Kiss-Toth for her extract from Nadi Leaves

Originally from Hungary, Orsolya moved to Leeds about 15 years ago where she lives with her partner. She is an HR professional and whilst she loves the challenges of her role, writing is something she’s passionate about.

Orsolya Kiss-Toth

She first joined a writing group in November 2020, is an alumna of the Writers’ Workshop, and her first novel, 24 Windows, was long listed in the Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction 2021. She’s currently working on her second novel, Nadi Leaves.

Jordan McGarry for her creative piece, ‘The First Spring’.

Jordan McGarry

Jordan McGarry has worked in the screen industries for 20 years, initially as a journalist covering the industry, and then as a programmer, a producer and now as an executive. Jordan is endlessly interested in story, but more used to helping other people write theirs than telling her own. She is trying to be braver in 2022 (though will never be comfortable with writing about herself in the third person). She is just completing the Narrative Non-Fiction course.

Lia Martin for her story, ‘Church Bells’.

Lia Martin

Lia Martin is a Londoner completing her Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck University and was enrolled on City’s Short Story Writing course back in 2014. She started her career in the media but became a secondary teacher in 2015, working in both London and Norfolk-based schools. She now leads on English for a national network of schools and is currently working on a short story collection.

 

Su Yin Yap for her creative piece, ‘Notes on a Pregnancy’.

Su Yin Yap

​​Su Yin Yap is a psychologist and writer. Her work has been published in literary magazines and websites such as Popshot Quarterly and Litro Online, as well as various anthologies of flash fiction and creative non-fiction. She has written for the psychology section of the award winning Arts and Culture website Headstuff.org. She is currently working on a collection of essays. She is an alumna of the Short Story Writing course.

These fantastic authors will be reading online at City Writes alongside Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton on Thursday 7th July at 7pm. From village referendums through lost loves and historical feuds to the anticipation of life to come, City Writes Summer 2022 will be a night of readings to remember. You can register here. We look forward to seeing you there.

Five Reasons Why You Should Learn Korean

Research has shown that learning a foreign language boosts brain power. But which language should you choose to learn? Read on for five reasons why you should learn Korean.

 

 

1. Korean has one of the most logical alphabets in the world

 

The Korean alphabet has 24 letters each of which is spelled phonetically. Languages with phonetically spelt words are far easier to learn as there are no tricky spellings (unlike there are in English!) The mastermind behind this simplicity was King Sejong ‘the Great’ of the Joseon dynasty, who tasked Korean scholars with creating an easily learned writing system which could be understood by all.

 

2. Conjugating verbs in Korean is much easier than in other languages

 

Many languages conjugate their verbs into first, second and third person. But with Korean you don’t have to worry which form of the verb to use depending on whether you’re referring to ‘I’, ‘you’ or ‘she/he’. All you need to learn are the conjugations for the different levels of formality and tenses. Similarly, the Korean language does not have gendered nouns which means you won’t need to learn if a noun takes the masculine or the feminine form, another common obstacle when learning a foreign language.

 

3. Learning Korean just might help with your career

 

Employers increasingly value language skills amongst their employees, so learning any foreign language is a solid investment in your career. With Samsung rivalling Apple for innovation and market share, South Korea has the twelfth largest global economy and is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Learn Korean and you might find yourself working for one of the ever-expanding South Korean companies based in the UK, or even in Korea itself. At the very least you’ll have improved your employability prospects.

 

4. Korean arts and culture are taking over the world

 

First there was Gangnam style, then K-pop, now Squid Game (Netflix’s biggest debut success) and the Oscar winning Parasite. Known in Korea as The Korean Wave, or Hallyu, the South Korean pop culture has taken the world by storm and become a major influence on global culture. Learn Korean and you’ll be able to tap into a rich, dynamic culture. With over 70 million Korean speakers worldwide, and Europe’s largest Korean community resident in London, start learning Korean and you’ll be able to fully absorb this fascinating and ever-changing culture.

 

5. Learning a foreign language can help your mental health

 

The pandemic has had a negative effect on many people’s mental health with the World Health Organisation reporting a 25% increase worldwide in anxiety and depression. Conversely, learning a new language can improve your confidence, flexibility and sense of purpose. Plus, it’s fun. You get to meet other learners and practice your language skills in small, interactive groups. So, what are you waiting for?

 

Want to find out more about learning Korean at City, University of London? Visit our Korean language short course page.

 

Interested in our other online language courses? We offer short courses in ten modern languages, from Arabic to Portuguese. Find out more here.

 

City Writes Summer 2022 Competition Opens

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes is the showcase event for the fabulous writing coming from City’s Creative Writing Short Courses and this term’s event will feature two published alumni from the same Novel Studio cohort: Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton. Both writers had their debuts published in 2021 with exciting independent publishers and have fascinating publishing journeys and heart-felt writing to share. The City Writes termly competition is now open for you to join these published authors at the Zoom event on the 7th July.

Attiya’s debut novel Ten Steps To Us

Attiya Khan’s debut, Ten Steps to Us, is a Young Adult Romance that readers have described as ‘captivating’, ‘the perfect teen romance that covers religion, romance and diversity’. The book outlines the ten steps devout, hijab wearing, Aisha, tries to take towards a romance with non-Muslim, Darren. Will she be able to keep her faith, her identity and get the boy of her dreams? Published by Hashtag Blak, you’ll have to read it to see.

 

 

Author Attiya Khan

Attiya and her three sisters grew up in a loving Indian Muslim family. Channelling her inner Jo March, she started writing diaries and short stories as a teenager and continued as a medical student at Barts, junior doctor, and now as a busy East London GP. An alumnus of the prestigious City University Novel Studio, Attiya started writing her first novel in reaction to what she saw around her: ‘I’m fascinated by how cultures and lives intermix and intertwine, and I get inspiration from the people I meet and the stories they tell’. Attiya lives with her husband, and their three children.

 

 

Simon Culleton’s debut, Shadows of Fathers, published by Stairwell Books, follows one father’s fight to stay close to his children in a journey that crosses geographical, cultural and emotional borders. The author, Heidi James, described it as ‘a delight – told with warmth and humour, and just a hint of steel’.

Simon was born and bred in Essex England, where he lives with his two children. His love for writing began when he wrote a short story at age 17, while sat in a derelict car, which went on to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Author Simon Culleton

Author Simon Culleton

He loves to travel and has worked his way around the world, undertaking jobs from snow clearing in Sweden, to construction work in California, to working as a farm-hand on an Australian sheep station. Simon has a passion for chronicling everyday people, including interviewing war veterans in his earlier travels, which extends even to himself: he has maintained a personal daily diary for over 40 years.

 

For your chance to join Attiya and Simon on the virtual stage, you need only submit your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction to Rebekah.Lattin-Rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk along with details of your City Short Course. Though we’re happy to read Middle Grade and YA, we don’t accept children’s picture books, poetry or drama, but… anything else goes! Click here for full submission guidelines.

The deadline for submissions is midnight 10th June 2022.

You can register for the Zoom event on Thursday 7th July at 7pm now.

We can’t wait to check out your entries and see you at the event when these two fantastic writers will be joined by the brilliant competition winners whose work is already making its journey through the web as you read this post.

Get writing, get submitting, and good luck!

Five reasons to apply to The Novel Studio

Applications to our flagship writing course, The Novel Studio close this week!

You could be one of 15 students who will be specially selected to embark on our year-long novel writing programme. Read on for five reasons to apply!

1. The course has a proven track record. Alumni include Award-winning authors Deepa Anappara, Hannah Begbie, and Harriet Tyce, amongst many others.

2. It’s practical. Each module has been designed to support you in writing your novel, from developing your plot to character motivation.

3. The tutors are brilliant: Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone and Kiare Ladner are both professional writers, editors and creative writing teachers who really know the craft and want to help you become better writers.

4. It has great links with the publishing industry. Each year students are trained in rehearsed readings towards an end-of-year show to an invited audience of top literary agents.

5. There’s one fully funded space available for a talented writer from a low-income household via our scholarship scheme.

Apply before Friday 29th April 2022

For any queries, email the Course Director, Emily Pedder.

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