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June Newsletter

The Story Mint Newsletter | June 2016

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Newsletter: June 2016

Hi everyone
An unbelievably exciting moment!
The education world is seeking ways to encourage students to become Self Directed Learners.
Recently, I saw how The Story Mint could be part of that revolution at two schools.
The first occasion was when we showed 25 Year 6 (10-11 years) students how to use the stylecheck™ at Matipo Primary School, Auckland, New Zealand. We were totally unprepared for their reactions. The students grasped the concept within minutes and away they went writing stories about why they liked going to Matipo School. As they wrote they played with words to get their pieces onto different parts of the grid. Those whose work did not land in the grid did not lose heart....they just began restructuring their sentences, finding new ways to say things or to add more description. The stylecheck™ became a game.
BUT THE MOST EXCITING THING OF ALL was watching two young boys who "hated" anything to do with words produce the best placed story and their incredible excitement at their achievement. Their teacher was astounded and delighted. She said she had never seen such big grins on their faces all term and they told her it was their best day at school....that year!
A few days later we were at Beachlands School with ten Year 7 and 8 (11-12 years)students. These students will lead five serial writing teams, each with ten students in it. Again we set the students the same task of writing about their school. Like the Matipo class, the students got to work and wrote their pieces. Again some compositions landed off the grid but as soon as they followed the instructions they were away playing with words, trying to move their writing on to or around the grid. They also began playing the new writing game. And the best piece of writing was again not submitted by the top students.
It took a day or so for the significance of this to sink in but when it did I could hardly breathe I was so excited. The best writers in each school will compete to stay ahead but those who feel they are not very good will work hard to beat them and they now have a tool to guide them. They can experiment with their writing and no-one but themselves will know. And as they do all that, they are learning about the way words work.
That is surely Self Directed Learning at its best.
The Melbourne Writers Festival
Suraya and Bruce are attending the Melbourne Writers Festival which is running from Aug 26th to 4th September. We would love to catch up and have coffee with any members of The Story Mint while we are there so contact suraya@thestorymint.com and let's get together.
We are also joining Mat Clarke and Geoff Stuart's meet up  at 6pm on Tuesday 30th August in the front room of the Royal Melbourne Hotel. Everyone is welcome to come to that.
We really look forward to seeing everybody and meeting new writers!

Happy and successful writing everyone!
A special welcome to all our new writers. We love having you in our community!
See you next month!
Thank you for following The Story Mint.

 


Latest News

... and what we've all been up to on your behalf!

 

Matipo Primary School
The stylecheck™ is a star at Matipo Primary School. Students who normally avoid extra school work are demanding their teacher let them 'do some writing'. They were so keen we had to set emergency logins for them. When students from other classes heard about the stylecheck™ they were asking if they could 'have a go'.
 
During our visit two boys, who were described as 'reluctant learners' became absorbed. They worked together, suggesting sentences and words to each other as they typed on their ipads. Then their moment arrived and they hit the submit button. Their writing landed near the middle of the grid. There was much whooping and high fiving as they celebrated.
This got the other students working hard, determined to do better. Some did and others needed help but they all loved playing with words in a way they never have before. Their teacher read out the first two boy's story and we asked the class why their writing had been so successful. Everyone knew. They had described the 'kind things their teacher did, their favourite sports days and their barbecues' and they had explained, using examples, why it was fun to go to Matipo School. Their teacher later told us, it was a struggle to get students to add detail to their stories and she was always having to tell them to write more than one draft. The stylecheck™ encourages both. So while the boys were smiling for the rest of the day so was their teacher!

Beachlands School
We met with the student team leaders just after Queen's Birthday Weekend and we set them to work using the stylecheck™. Once again we were excited by the response. The students understood immediately how it worked and students who were not avid writers shone through. Here are some of their comments:
"I need to work on my writing and this tells me how",
"It's helpful because it tells us what we know and what we need to learn'',
"It told me I use a lot of nouns and that I should be using other kinds of words",
"It made our sentences more interesting and made us try to be more descriptive",
"It told us how to improve",
"Writing doesn't have to be perfect first time round", and
"It told us to think about what we want to say, edit and use feedback to improve".

An important meeting
Recently Bruce and Suraya met with a nation-wide corporate. They saw that The Story Mint could be a service it offered to its members. They are now working together to see how this could be developed.

When you write a chapter or put some work on the Writers' Pad grow your readership by promoting it on your Facebook page!

What people are saying

Long time member Leif Rennes is onto the third draft of his novel while working at a resort in Wyoming. He uses the stylecheck™ whenever he writes. This is what he says:
"I've found the stylecheck™ to be a fantastic aid in helping to create the right tone in my writing. Its ability to analyze writing and give me relevant feedback is exceptionally useful. It is important to apply the right voice in particular situations to make the piece of writing authentic and the fact that the stylecheck™ guides me to where I need to be on the grid is especially valuable. It helps me to find the right voice for any particular piece of work, whatever the style that's required."

Tell us what you think about our community of writers and concept, we’d love to hear from you.

Tell us what you think

Moving forward with...

Catalyst IT
As we move into a new phase of our business we need robust systems around us. We saw Catalyst IT as being those people. With offices in Europe, Australia and New Zealand we felt they could support us as we established ourselves globally. Catalyst IT  specialise in developing, designing and supporting enterprise grade systems using open source technologies. They are familiar with the various technologies that run The Story Mint, the serials and the stylecheck™. They are involved in elearning, library management, document management as examples of the broad areas they work in.

Melbourne Writers Social Group
Melbourne Writers Social Group meet every week. Suraya and Bruce will be at their meeting on Tuesday 30th August from 6pm.
Mat assures us they would love a visit from anyone associated with The Story Mint so why not make that a diary date. There will also be a prize draw or two.
Check out their Meetup details at  http://www.meetup.com/The-Melbourne-Writers-Meetup-Group/events/231212391/ at the Royal Melbourne Hotel, 629 Bourke Street, Melbourne in the front room of the Hotel. And everyone is welcome.

Rangitawa Publishing Short Story Competition
WRITE A SHORT STORY AND HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE  PUBLISHED!

For New Zealand authors
FIRST PRIZE $100 plus a free copy of the Rangitawa Collection 2016.

For international authors
First prize two copies of the Rangitawa Collection 2016.

ALL ENTRIES OF A GOOD STANDARD WILL BE PUBLISHED IN “THE  RANGITAWA COLLECTION OF 2016."

This collection of short stories will be available as a paperback book at a discounted price to published authors and will also be on sale at Amazon.com. to worldwide readers. The Rangitawa Collections 2013/14/15 may be viewed on www.rangitawapublishing.com or Amazon.com
These are very popular collections!

We encourage members to let us know about their successes. Your success gives them heart and motivates them towards achieving their writing goals. If you can do it they know they can too.

 

What's hot with the Serials?
We are hearing enthusiastic comments about how much people are enjoying our serials. They have favourite writers and are following preferred serials. Our Google stats show that hits are increasing and every time a new chapter is posted there is a spike in visitors.

Starters
Several serials are now underway. We always have room for more starters!

Serials to Book
Writers have responded to our call for starters in the most amazing way! There are plenty to choose from across a range of genres. This is exciting and  we look forward to reading the stories once they are underway!
The Beauty Contest by Rosemary Wakelin is a lot of fun. This is how it starts. 'There’s a camel in my backyard. Eating Mrs Whitman’s neighbouring prized white and violet hydrangeas....'
The Assault by Leif Rennes is a dark mystery. Summer leaves work late and is assaulted by a mysterious stranger. New comers would enjoy getting into this serial!  Six chapters to book.
The 640 Express by Sameer Nagarajan gives a seemingly harmless encounter a sinister edge. Now fully booked.
Rest in Peace by Hemali Ajmera. How would you feel if you missed out on a place in the national figure skating team and missed out to your best friend because her parent's could afford an expensive coach. Six chapters left.
Captive by Jasmine Groves is full of menace so why not go there! Three chapters left.
Sailing by Suraya Dewing. Sometimes it is not a good thing to take someone's yacht and not tell them where you are going.
The Way Home by Ray Stone. Take a journey into an enchanted world. This starter reminded us of writers like CS Lewis.  Four chapters left.
Moonlight by Tulika Saha. This is such an amazing opportunity to write evocatively.

If you write a serial chapter you join an elite group of writers who are working together to encourage each other. You are also giving future readers of your writing an opportunity to read your work and to follow you.

Serials underway
Fairy Blessings Raymond Stone says Sumanda's first chapter is 'written with a soft stroke of the pen'. This is a wonderful description.
Born Bad Leif's first chapter has the child protagonist our heroine fled fled, turn up unexpectedly. To her horror she has to face Charmaine every day.
Payback by Hemali Ajmera.  The serial is now underway with new writer, Michael Ryan doing some exacting research. The first chapter is almost ready to go and the second will follow. This is shaping up to being a gripping serial.
Changing Times Will Nelson falter again? He's let Fran down once... after all. Send your chapters to Anna Zhigareva annazhigareva@yahoo.co.uk
Cent-ed In his comments, Ray describes Mat Clarke's chapter in this way, 'This is a very nice compact piece that says a lot about feelings...' ? Guarav is led astray by a promise of wealth...Send your chapters to Tulika Saha tulikasaha@gmail.com
Gacgon the Sorceror  This is a wonderful fantasy story but Hemali Ajmera's chapter 2 is breathtaking with its realism, imagery and magic.
The Diary of Pearl Farrall This story about a young woman settling into a new way of life in New Zealand is realistic and we feel for Pearl as she struggles to adjust.
Ghost Ship We have illegal drug running, political intrigue and also diabolical plotting in the world of aid to trouble spots in the world. The action is full on.
Yours Truly Rosemary's chapter demonstrates how dialogue can be used to further a story and reveal character. The secret lies in short sentences.

Who to send your chapters to.
Donna is managing: Ghost Ship,  Yours Truly, Fairy Blessings, Glacgon the Sorcerer,  The 640 Express, Immortal, Sailing, Born Bad and The Assault. If you are writing chapters for these serials send them to Donna McTavish. donnamct@gmail.com

Suraya is managing: Payback, Eleven, The Way Home, Moonlight, Rest in Peace, Captive, The Diary of Pearl Farrell. If you are writing chapters for these serials contact suraya@thestorymint.com
As already pointed out, Anna is managing Changing Times and Tulika is managing Cent-ed
As people who are new to managing serials, please support them.
A Request: Please make sure you read all the chapters preceding your chapter so that your chapter follows on logically and remember to put your chapter through the stylecheck
before submitting it.

If you have a starter you would like us to consider, send it to  suraya@thestorymint.com.

They can be up to 500 words long and in any genre except erotica.

Fabulous reading from the Writer's pad

This month there is exceptional writing on the Writers' Pad and some really valuable feedback for the writers:

Cemetry Tales by Sumanda Maritz
I laughed out loud at these stories. I have to admit I could never live next to a grave and Sumanda's  grandparents were, in my view, very brave! The imagery conjures up lights that mysteriously shine and one man scaring the life out of another at the bottom of a freshly dug grave. Well told, graphic and it had terrific pace.
Homecoming by Dana Cariola
This is descriptive and evocative especially the chapter headed Homecoming
Here we are taken into the world of a returned serviceman from the second World War. The engineer is waiting for the Yard Master's instructions before they start the rail trip through the Appalachian Mountains.
A Dented Disc by Anna Zhigareva
We wonder what a dented disc is at first but that is revealed as we read on. We also discover who the narrator is and his circumstances. Both are most unexpected and give the story a provocative edge.
A Dented Disc, chapter 2
The young boy discovers that values in his new home are reversed and he is struggling to work out why this is. Winter is coming and he has never seen an icy winter. He already hates the cold.
A Dented Disc, chapter 3
The opening paragraph of this chapter draws the reader in. It is beautifully crafted.
Sometimes we have to learn the hard way and this is a VERY hard way for Toni.

Comments and feedback are essential for a writer's progress. This is how writer's help each other to grow their skill. So keep it coming!

If you want to give the writer more detailed feedback than the comment box allows send it to me, suraya@thestorymint.com and I'll pass it on.
 

Chapter Writer winner

Our winner for last month's best chapter was Greg Rochlin for chapter 3 of Yours Truly.
Greg's chapter interrupts a conversation between a stranger driving an Audi to give directions. The exchange is realistic and also raises questions about why the man in the Audi was so willing to give Jaques a lift.

Altogether very dodgy.

A chat about books

Review by Suraya Dewing

Forgotten by Neven Carr
Life is only just long enough to read as many good books as you can and Forgotten by Neven Carr is one you must include in your number one bucket list. It is a gripping read from the first page to the last. The first hint this is going to be a novel that will take the reader to new places is when Carr starts with "Death has a flavour of its own."
Oh yes, and the mystery gets deeper. Whose death can she smell and why does she remember the smell?
We are taken on a journey with school teacher Claudia as she emotionally unravels, then gathers her wits and is then thrown another blow that sets her reeling. The story begins with one terrifying event then leads to another. As a child she always felt someone was watching her but was told her fear was a figment of her imagination. We soon discover her fear was real. Who is watching her? Why?
All gradually becomes clear as she reluctantly recalls important details of her life that she has forgotten.
But there are people going to enormous lengths, even murder, to stop her finding the truth.
Add the mysterious, rugged Reardon to whom Claudia is powerfully attracted. Where does he fit into her troubled life? Apart from being ruggedly handsome, and allegedly helping her to find the truth and to gain closure, what are his motives? Add those elements and the reader has all the elements of a gripping story. And it is.
This novel, with its many well drawn characters who have their own motives for what they do, is a book that was impossible to put down. I am confident you will also want to read it from beginning to end in one sitting.
I look forward to the next novel in the Araneya series!
5 stars

 

Blog across the Spectrum

We really recommend the blogs on our website.

Shelley Wilson

Why you need a proof reader  is a blog on Rosie Amber's  website. She leads a team of reviewers and also posts some excellent articles about writing. This article on the importance of proofreading defines the different jobs editors, copy editors and proof readers do. It is certainly worth a read as she so rightly points out, there are lots of books out there so your book has to be better than the rest to gain attention. One of the ways to do this, apart from making the content impossible for a reader to put down, is to make sure there are no annoying spelling or grammar mistakes.

Our writing tips

In this excellent article, David Brin points out that writing is a 'kind of magic'.
A Long Lonely Road
by David Brin

Writing is a worthy calling -- one that can, at times, achieve great heights that ennoble the human race.

Actually, I believe writing was the first truly verifiable and effective form of magic. Think of how it must have impressed people in ancient times! To look at marks, pressed into fired clay, and know that they convey the words of scribes and kings long dead -- it must have seemed fantastic. Knowledge, wisdom and art could finally accumulate, and death was cheated one part of its sting.....

He goes on to say, " he fundamental rule: if more than one reader is bored or confused by a given passage, you did not do your job right. Find ways to tighten and improve that scene."

In this excellent article, David Brin points out that writing is a "kind of magic".  He starts in article in the following way.  Well worth a read.

Writing Meetup this month

Branch Information

 

 For information about a writers group nearest you go to
http://authors.org.nz/writers-resources/writing-groups/

Check this website out!

The Pulse a Te Auaha
This website has excellent information about writing competitions and other writing advice. Its well worth a look.
 

If you have any websites you’d like to recommend send us the link.

   
   
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