New creative writing workshops launched in Essex and Thurrock

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Submitted by Nina Douglas

A mentorship for underrepresented writers will work with Essex & Thurrock Libraries and Essex Book Festival will be offering creative writing workshops for aspiring authors interested in writing for children and young adults, in May 2022.

All Stories – the mentorship and outreach program for aspiring children’s book authors from underrepresented groups – returns for its second year, building on the success of the first with an expanded program and focus, funding increased and new industry partners

The program has had a hugely impactful first year, helping 14 writers develop their work – details of which can be found here. Now, the program returns for a second year, expanding mentorships by providing more opportunities for new writers, including workshops and writing groups.

Events will take place as below in May, and a subsequent event in July 2022.

  • Clacton Library on Saturday May 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. with Patrice Lawrence
  • Basildon Library on Tuesday May 10 from 7-9pm with Jane Elson
  • Corringham Library on Saturday May 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with Jane Elson
  • Grays Library on Tuesday, May 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. with Patrice Lawrence
  • Belhus Library on Thursday May 19 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. with Jane Elson
  • Harlow Library on Saturday July 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. with Patrice Lawrence

Each two-hour workshop will give attendees a great grounding in the basics of children’s writing. The session will cover everything from choosing your readership and concept, to developing plot and characterization, with time for questions.

To register, you must be over 18, live in the UK and belong to an underrepresented group (identified as person of colour, LGBTQ+, disabled, neurodiverse, working or socio-economically disadvantaged).

Participants will also have the chance to join a writing group after the workshop in each location, providing additional support and a very important writing community.

Fully funded by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and Arts Council England (which is doubling its investment), All Stories aims to tackle issues of privilege and lack of diversity in children’s books.

Many of the first authors published today were able to afford courses, mentorship or MAs to develop their work, leaving those who cannot afford such help at a distinct disadvantage.

All Stories’ goal is to address this imbalance by encouraging and supporting aspiring writers from underrepresented groups. This work is essential to improving the overall diversity of authors, which will help ensure that young readers see themselves reflected in the books they read.

Year Two will offer ten mentorships to mid-level and young adult fiction writers over nine months, evolving from Year One’s format where writers of all age groups were mentored together for six months. Picture books and young fiction writers will be supported the following year, on a rolling basis.

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The 2022-2023 mentorship program will offer:

  • Ten free mentorships for talented mid-level and young adult fiction writers who are unable to pay for help developing their work. Each mentorship is offered by an independent editor, while in-house editors will provide support by presenting seven crafting webinars and demystifying the industry
  • A private online All Stories community for mentees
  • Free one-year membership to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

Applications opened on April 8 and are open until June 30, with mentorships running from October 2022 to June 2023.

ONLY unagented and unpublished writers from underrepresented groups residing in the UK are eligible.

Founder of All Stories, children’s book publisher, Catherine Coe, said: “I couldn’t be happier with how the first year of the All Stories program has gone – and how brilliantly it has been supported by industry people.

“The fourteen mentees have learned and grown so much, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for these incredibly talented writers.

“But we can’t stop there – we must continue to support and encourage writers from underrepresented groups if we are truly to bring about lasting change and ensure that children’s books are truly inclusive and representative.”

All Stories patron, award-winning author Patrice Lawrence, said: “I wish All Stories had been around when I started.

“As a black writer from a working class family, I had absolutely no idea how to become a published author. I’m so proud to be the patron of such a supportive and successful program.”


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