Tag: City (page 1 of 10)

City Writes Spring 2024 Competition Open for Submissions

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

 

City Writes, the showcase event for all the wonderful writing coming from our Creative Writing Short Courses at City, is only weeks away. This term’s City Writes is Wednesday 27th March at 7pm and we’re delighted to have two Novel Studio alumni, Laurence Kershook and Katharine Light, as our headline double act.

For your chance to join Laurence and Katharine and read your work on the online stage, the City Writes Competition is open for submissions and you need only send your best 1,000 words of creative writing (fiction or non-fiction but no poetry, drama or children’s fiction) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by midnight on the 1st March 2024 along with details of your current or previous Creative Writing short course. Full submission details can be found here.

The Broygus by Laurence Kershook came out in March 2022 and is an evocative exploration of the history of a Jewish East End family not to be missed. Katharine Light’s Like Me came out in November 2023. Her novel turns an adult school reunion into a possible rekindling of teenage romance. You can find out more by reading fantastic blog articles for Katharine and Laurence – simply click on their names. This will be a fantastic night full of tantalising tales and excellent writing advice.

Book your ticket here and send us your work. We look forward to your submissions!

How I developed three personalities, and why…

Like many multi-linguals, I have varied personality shifts. I am professional in English, friendly in Portuguese, but reserved in Russian.

I was born in St. Petersburg and spoke Russian for the first fourteen years of my life. Then my family moved to Porto in Portugal where I went to an international school. All my classes were in English, but at breaktime everyone spoke Portuguese. It forced me to improve my English and become fluent in Portuguese, in just nine months. 

An epiphany

I’m twenty-five now and was recently confronted with the fact that I behave differently depending on which language I’m speaking. After a work call with a Russian tech client, a colleague remarked that I hadn’t been myself. I was more serious, less confident and made fewer jokes. 

Chatting about it later with bilingual friends, I understood I’m not alone. My Brazilian friend Sarah – who I met at international school – for example, is ambitious in English, a bit anxious in Portuguese, flirty in French, and funny in German!

When in Rome

While learning a new language we tend to get acquainted with a new culture – and change the way we portray ourselves to fit in. Dr Francois Grosjean , author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, says that this is most common among those who are integrated into the culture of the language they’re adopting. 

Portuguese culture, for example, is friendly, open and kind. Now, whenever I’m speaking it, I become all three. It works like a switch and comes very naturally to me.  When I was first learning Portuguese, my school friends regularly said ‘Com prazer’ (With pleasure) and ‘Está tudo bem?’ (Is everything good?), which made me feel welcome as the new girl in school. These kind phrases are now part of my vocabulary too.

Light switch

Last summer I got talking to an entrepreneur at a tech networking event. I was being professional until I realised she was Portuguese. As soon as we switched to Marta’s mother tongue it felt as if we knew each other, and we laughed.


Not many people speak to their boss like they do to their best friends. Therefore, when bilinguals develop their language for a specific purpose – for work, for example – they tend to sound formal and professional, even in informal situations. 


Serious struggle

This theory by Dr Nathan Young explains why I always feel younger when speaking Russian, which I mostly do when around my family. I also struggle to explain to them what I do for a living, because I lack the vocabulary. ‘When are you going to start doing something ‘serious?’ they always ask.

The cause of my personality shifts is probably a combination of both Grosjean’s and Young’s theories. Either way, my daily personality shifts are a blessing and a bit of a ‘curse’. They make me more flexible at work and in my social life. But they also make it difficult to know which traits are truest to me. I’m looking forward to finding out for sure.

Viktoriia Tkachenko is a freelance startup consultant. She is also an alumna of City’s Writing for Business course, taught by Maggie Richards and Tamsin Mackay. As part of the course, students are invited to pitch a blog post idea which, if successful, will be edited and published on our site. 

Viktoriia today in London

Viktoriia, 18, with family at her graduation from international school, Porto.

Viktoriia, aged six, St Petersburg.

For more on our writing courses, visit our full range HERE. For all our short courses visit HERE.

How I Navigate Imposter Syndrome as a Non-Native English Writer

Author Dominik Jemec Photo by Marcel Kukovec

By Dominik Jemec

“You’ll never be good enough because you’re not a native writer.” That’s what a professor of translation studies at my university in Austria told me when I said my dream was to be an English writer. That was five years ago.

I’ve had many awful jobs since graduating, from delivering mail in sweltering heat to fielding daily insults while working in a call centre. Then in 2021, I got my first writing job: creating customer care-related content about cryptocurrencies. After a mass layoff in the summer of 2022, I joined a travel company called TourRadar as a content specialist, where I work on creative campaigns.

But I’m not complacent. My impostor syndrome leaks out of me a lot. If you’re a non-native writer like me, you may be fighting the same demons. Here’s how I keep them at bay.

I split up my writing process

You can’t be a writer without writing. But if you’re constantly questioning your skills, how do you actually get down to writing?

First, research. I use AI tools like ChatGPT 4. They’re just much better than looking things up online. I write detailed prompts because the better my input, the better the output.

Then I write, without overthinking. To stay focused, I put on a timer and just hammer out the text. If I have writer’s block, I ask ChatGPT to write a draft based on the research.

Lastly, I edit. It’s a tough process. Sometimes I have to remove parts I really like that just don’t fit. But I never discard them – I put them in a document with other unused content. Editing is ‘magical’. I might go a certain direction when I write, then turn it on its head when I edit.

I seek feedback

I’ve often been scared to send a piece of writing to my manager for proofreading. I would try to make every sentence perfect, thinking I’d be sacked if I didn’t. The pressure I put on myself took more energy than the writing itself, so I eventually learned to let go.

Every time my manager gives me feedback, I go through it carefully, analysing where I need to improve. All my favourite writers – Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams and Hunter S. Thompson – got edited, so why shouldn’t I?

Outside of work, I get writing feedback from the Sunday WritersClub, and do specialised courses, including City, University of London’s Introduction to Copywriting, led by Maggie Richards. Not only did I learn the fundamentals of copywriting, I wrote a lot of copy and received helpful feedback from Maggie.

I connect with other writers

I listen to writing podcasts like the Copywriter Club, and follow creative writers like Drayton Bird, Dan Nelken and Eddie Shleyner on LinkedIn. If, for example, you love advertising like I do, whenever you see an ad you like, find out who produced it and start following them on social media. The knowledge writers share (for free) is staggering.

I embrace my voice

I used to embellish my writing because I really wanted to prove myself. But I’ve found that such texts are mostly unreadable. I’ve learned that simplicity wins.

There is merit in emulating good flow and sentence structure, but at the end of the day, your voice is your USP. Incorporate idioms, metaphors and storytelling elements from your own culture. Your writing will stand out.

I apply for all writing jobs

Many writing jobs ask for a native writer. After I started my current job, I asked our recruiters how many people had applied for the position. Through one job search platform alone there were over 60 applicants. Many were probably native writers with impressive CVs. So why did I get the job? Maybe because of my unwavering passion for writing.

I truly hope my tips help you overcome any self-doubts you may have as a non-native writer – and inspire you to keep on writing well, no matter what lies ahead.

About the author: Dominik Jemec is a Slovenian working in Vienna as a content writer in his third language, English. You can connect with Dominik on LinkedIn.

Dominik took City’s Introduction to Copywriting course taught by Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students can pitch a blog idea. If successful, the post will then be edited and appear on our site. For our full range of courses, visit HERE.

 

 

Novel Studio Literary Agent Competition Winners 2023/24

Jill Craig

We are delighted to announce the winners of 2023/4’s Novel Studio Literary Agent Competition are Jill Craig, Shere Ross and Linda Wystemp.

The competition is a key feature of City’s flagship short course the Novel Studio, which offers a select group of 15 aspiring novelists the dedicated time and support to hone their craft. The competition is a rare opportunity to bypass the slush pile of manuscript submissions to literary agents, and is run in  conjunction with Lucy Luck, literary agent at C&W Agency.

Jill Craig works as a secondary English teacher in the North West where literature is a constant presence. She loves fiction which investigates and reflects dynamics which are often the foundation of our lives: romantic, friendship, familial. Although she’s studied and now teaches literature, actually writing it is a relatively new – daunting, but exciting- experience. 

Shere Ross is a writer of short stories and other works of fiction. Her work has been shortlisted for several prizes including the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. She is a winner of the BlackInk New Writing Prize.

Linda Wystemp was born and raised in the heart of Germany’s Black Forest before crossing the Channel to study in Oxford and London. She enjoys writing screenplays and short stories and has dabbled in fencing and the violin. Linda is currently working on her contemporary literary fiction novel which explores the moral complexities of parent-child relationships.

Emily Pedder, Course Director of the Novel Studio said: “We were very excited by these three writers; their submissions were strong and distinctive, and we can’t wait to see their novels progress over this coming year. ”

The Novel Studio was established over a decade ago and has a very strong track record of published alumni. Recent bestselling and award-winning novels include Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Anna Mazzola’s  The Unseeing, The Story Keeper, The Clockwork Girl,  and The House of Whispers, and Harriet Tyce’s Blood Orange, The Lies You Told and It Ends At Midnight.

 

Congratulations to Jill, Shere and Linda! We can’t wait to see their novels develop over the coming year!

City Writes Autumn 2023 Open for Submissions

City Writes Autumn Deadline 10 November 2023

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

With a new academic year comes more fantastic writing from the short courses at City with our showcase event, City Writes, this term on Wednesday 13th December at 7pm on Zoom. We are delighted to announce that our published author this time is the brilliant writer and tutor, Caroline Green. Not only does Caroline write fiction for young people and adults, she is also the much valued and acclaimed teacher of the Crime and Thriller Writing short course and Crime and Thriller Writing Summer School here at City. From YA, through psychological thriller, to supernatural detective fiction, Caroline Green is an inspirational powerhouse. Register here to save your spot for the night.

Crime writer and City Writes Autumn 2023 guest, Caroline Green

If you would like to read your work in front of a supportive audience and share the virtual stage with Caroline on the 13th December, all you need to do is submit your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction (we accept YA but sadly NOT poetry, drama or children’s fiction) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by midnight on Friday 17th November. Please check the full submission details here.

 

Don’t forget to sign up for the event on the 13th December here.

 

We can’t wait to read your submissions! Good luck.

Top Ten Tips for Writing Crime Fiction

By Caroline Green

Crime fiction is booming right now. If you have ever wondered if you could write for this thriving, thrilling genre, here are ten things you should know:

  1. Understand who you are writing for. Read widely within the genre and decide what type of crime fiction you love to read. (Frankly, if you don’t get excited about reading it, why do you want to write it?)
  2. But after you’ve read all those lovely books, don’t try and second guess the market. No one saw the likes of Girl On The Train. The most important thing is to know the genre but write what you want to write.
  3. Watch quality drama as well as reading books. Programmes such as Happy Valley or Line of Duty can teach budding crime writers a lot, despite being delivered via a different medium.
  4. Aim for living, breathing, characters, not cardboard cut-outs. If you are writing another alcoholic PI or police investigator make sure they are so well-rounded they could step right off the page. What is their back story? What made them who they are?
  5. Don’t be afraid to delve into your dark side. Your own imagination is more powerful – and has more twists – than all the CGI in the world. Tap into it and never shy away from those big, bold ideas that make you think, ‘Dare I…?’.
  6. The best twists don’t come hurtling out of nowhere. The really satisfying ones make such perfect sense, you can’t believe you didn’t see them coming.
  7. Remember that conflict is the engine of story-telling. Try to weave some form of conflict into every single scene, every conversation, every plot line.
  8. Think about the ‘why-dunnit’ and not just the ‘who’. The reason psychological thrillers have taken off so much – and helped cause that boom in sales – is that the psychology behind dark deeds makes for a gripping read.
  9. Vary your pace. Sometimes readers need space to breathe, and others they need to be sent hurtling towards the thrilling climax of your story.
  10. Let your setting do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating atmosphere. A creepy atmospheric setting can really help rachet up tension.

 

Caroline Green writes best-selling thrillers as Cass Green and teaches City’s Crime and Thriller Writing Short Course.

Book now for the autumn term, starting 3rd October 2023.

How to be a Rock Star – an interview with City’s Music Business Management tutor David Ambrose

From original bassist with Fleetwood Mac to signing Duran Duran, City’s Music Business Management tutor, David Ambrose, has had a stellar career.  We caught up with him to find out more!

You have had a fascinating life as both a musician and record company executive. When did you first become interested in music?

 

David Ambrose (DA) I was studying Greek at school when I first heard Elvis Presley. It was a wonderful noise. Later my parents asked which instrument I wanted to play and I picked the bass guitar. I started playing the blues. When I left school I went to Byam Shaw Art School (now part of St. Martin’s) where I met Ray Davies (of The Kinks) and a guy called Pete Barden. Pete asked if I wanted to form a band. Rod Stewart was the singer and Mick Fleetwood was also in the band. We were called The Shotgun Express and we signed to EMI. Peter Green joined too and we recorded in Abbey Road Studio 2. We even had a minor hit with a song called Flamingo. I then left the band and joined the Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood. After that I toured extensively with Cat Stevens. And then, in 1965, Mick Fleetwood asked if I wanted to join a new band, with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. It was called Fleetwood Mac. I played with them for a bit but I left soon after for difficult financial reasons. It’s a big regret of mine. After that I had some time with Arthur Brown writing some of the Galactic Zoo Dossier and a short time with King Crimson.

 

Why did you decide to move away from playing music to the business side of music?

DA I did lots of touring with various musicians but, ultimately, I felt I wasn’t a good enough musician to be playing with some of the people I was playing with. I’d also had enough of Prog Rock! I began by starting a picture company, which did very well and enabled me to go and work for EMI. Being a musician also helped.

 

How did you get into the industry?

 

DA My dad organised an interview for me at EMI. My father was a formidable figure—Emeritus Professor of Bio Physics, and also a religious lay preacher. I landed the job at EMI in music publishing and was put in a room without windows on Denmark Street. I even had to bring my own tape recorder. But it went well. I had a good relationship with Ian McClintock, who was the A&R man there, and I was soon promoted to catalogue UK publishing.

I worked with Terry Slater and together we signed The Vapours, Tom Robinson, Kate Bush, ACDC, and Paul Young. Later on I made friends with Malcolm McClaren and signed the Sex Pistols. But I got into trouble for that as the Sex Pistols weren’t seen as a band EMI wanted to be associated with. They demoted me and I lost my department and had to climb the greasy pole for the next two years. Luckily, I hit gold when I signed Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I then went over to EMI records with Terry Slater, where we were tasked with sorting things out. We dumped a few acts and signed some big ones, the biggest being Duran Duran. I went to see them play in Birmingham and I just knew. They were the real deal. I later became the Managing Director for MCA records, now Universal, where I signed Transvision Vamp, amongst other acts.

Bass Line

What has been the most memorable part of your career?

DA Being in a sixties band. And being in Madison Square Gardens with Duran Duran, with thousands of screaming fans, when a record executive turned to me and said ‘These guys are the next Beatles.’ That was something.

 

What would you differently if you could do it all over again?

DA My only regret is not staying with Fleetwood Mac

 

How has the industry changed since you first started?

DA The internet. It’s much harder for new acts to break through. They have to tour like nuts to make a fan base. Artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran make money from downloads because they have such a strong fan base. I think the whole royalty rates needs a restructure for new bands.

 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to break into the industry now?

 

David’s memoir, How to be a Rock Star

DA If you’re interested in music publishing or A&R, get yourself down to venues like the Dublin Castle or the latest trendy clubs. Get to know the fraternity, network. You just might find there’s a job going and you get a break. There are also graduate training schemes it’s worth keeping an eye out for. If you want to get into marketing, spend time as a runner in an ad agency.

 

And finally, you have written a memoir about your life in music. What was the experience of writing it like?

 

DA I’d never written before but a friend thought I had a story. I wrote the book with Lesley Ann Jones. I told her stories and she wrote them down and shaped them. I really enjoyed the experience. We’d meet up in places like the Chelsea Arts Club or the BFI and I’d talk over my time in the industry.

 

Thank you so much, David.

 

For anyone interested in reading more about David’s fascinating life, his memoir is available HERE.

 

David’s next Music Business short course will run at City from January 2023. Click HERE to register your interest.

 

City Writes Summer 2023 Event Competition Winners Announced

We’re delighted to share the winners of this term’s City Writes Competition who will be reading their work alongside the fantastic, Emma Grae at 7pm on the 5th July, on Zoom. You can register to come along and listen to them here.

 

This term’s winners are:

 Helen Ferguson for ‘My Grandmother’s Piano’, an extract from her translation memoir.

Helen Ferguson

Helen is a translator of Russian and German. Her first piece of writing was published in the Lighthouse Literary Journal. She completed The Novel Studio in 2020 and is now working on a translator memoir under the mentorship of Megan Bradbury.

Richard Hastings

Richard Hastings for ‘Jumble’, an extract from his novel-in-progress.

Richard had a successful career in TV (BBC, ITV, C4) before the City Novel Writing and Longer Works short course in summer 2021 inspired him to embark on a major life change. He left the television industry and returned to university (after a 31-year gap!) to take the First Novel MA at St. Mary’s University, London, graduating in Spring 2023 with distinction. Richard is currently working on the third draft of his first novel, which he is hoping to submit to literary agents (sometime!) in the Autumn.

Kate Henderson

Kate Henderson for her story ‘What Happened at Judith’s’.

Kate is an alumna of the Certificate in Novel Writing (now The Novel Studio) and Writers’ Workshop. Growing up in quiet streets in towns where nothing much happened, her writing likes to ask what might be going on unseen next door, or across the way, and casts an eye on the unexpected in the seemingly everyday. Her novel-in-progress, All We Have to Go On is set in a luxury retreat for the cryogenically frozen and follows an artist as she tries to remember who she is and comply with her rehabilitation in a world where she can’t be sure she’s safe.

Kate works in professional services and lives in Surrey with her partner and daughters.

Camille Poole

Camille Poole for her story, ‘Brown Male’.

Camille found her way to City Writes through the Introduction to Copywriting course. She works for a Milton Keynes’ based community charity whilst drafting her WIP, a new adult novel which explores themes of othering and generational curses.

Emily Shamma for ‘Kate’, an extract from her novel-in-progress,

Emily Shamma

Emily is a City periodical journalism and Novel Studio graduate. A former Vogue Talent Contest winner, she started her career as a fashion journalist, before moving into business journalism. Following this, Emily worked in the City, then as a Director at Tesco for seventeen years. But her passion has always been writing, and she now writes creatively for pleasure—alongside running her own business, navigating a hectic London family life, and stoking a serious restaurant, theatre and gallery addiction.

Lana Younis for an extract from her novel-in-progress, Play The Long Game.

Lana, a proud native of Yorkshire and coincidentally born on National Yorkshire Day, embarked on her writing journey during her rebellious teenage years. In 2022, she embraced her passion by enrolling on the Novel Writing and Longer Works course at City University. She swiftly joined The Novel Studio to explore the realms of literary dark humour. Her debut novel, Play The Long Game, serves as a testament to her love for writing unreliable narrators and morally ambiguous characters driven by their relentless pursuit of personal gain.

Lana Younis

These talented authors will all be reading their winning pieces on the 5th July over Z  oom at 7pm. Register here to join them and hear from prize-winning alumna, Emma Grae. From revenge through carefully preserved mementos all the way to the casually observed affairs of the neighbours, City Writes Summer Event 2023 promises to have you on the edge of your seat. We can’t wait to see you there.

City Writes Competition Deadline is midnight this Friday 9th June

Don’t forget to submit your best 1,000 words for the City Writes Competition this term. The City Writes Summer 2023 event will host the fantastic prize-winning author and journalist, Emma Grae. For your chance to join her on the virtual stage on the 5th July 2023 on Zoom at 7pm all you need to do is send in your most gripping 1,000 words of creative fiction or non-fiction (no poetry, drama or children’s fiction – though we do accept YA) along with details of your City Creative Writing Short Course to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk You can find full submission and event details hereThe deadline for submissions is midnight on Friday 9th June. That’s this Friday!

Emma Grae is a Scottish author and journalist from Glasgow. She is a passionate advocate of the Scots language and breaking the stigma around mental illness. She has published fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland since 2014 in journals including The Honest Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and The Open Mouse. Her debut novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, was published by Unbound in August 2021 and was awarded the Scots Book of the Year at the Scots Language Awards 2022. Her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks was published by Luath Press in October 2022. As a journalist, she writes under her birth surname, Guinness, and has bylines in a number of publications including Cosmopolitanthe Huffington Post and the Metro.

City Writes guest, author Emma Grae

Enter the competition and you could be reading alongside Emma on the 5th July! If you’d rather just listen, do register for the event now.

We look forward to reading your work!

City Writes Summer 2023 Competition Open: Share the online stage with award-winning author, Emma Grae – Deadline Friday 9th June

City Writes guest, author Emma Grae, image courtesy of Lissa Evans

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes is the Showcase event for the Creative Writing Short Courses here at City and we are delighted to announce that author and journalist, Emma Grae will be joining us on the 5th July 2023 on Zoom at 7pm. Register to hear from this fantastic, award-winning Writers’ Workshop alumna here

Emma Grae is a Scottish author and journalist from Glasgow. She is a passionate advocate of the Scots language and breaking the stigma around mental illness. She has published fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland since 2014 in journals including The Honest Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and The Open Mouse. Her debut novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, was published by Unbound in August 2021 and was awarded the Scots Book of the Year at the Scots Language Awards 2022. Her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks was published by Luath Press in October 2022. As a journalist, she writes under her birth surname, Guinness, and has bylines in a number of publications including Cosmopolitanthe Huffington Post and the Metro

For your chance to read your work alongside Emma on the online stage, all you need to do is send in your best 1,000 words of creative fiction or non-fiction (no poetry, drama or children’s fiction – though we do accept YA) along with details of your City Creative Writing Short Course to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk You can find full submission details here and the deadline for submissions is midnight on Friday 9th June. 

We can’t wait to read your work. In the meantime, do register now for your chance to hear Emma Grae.

 

Good luck and see you on the 5th July!

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