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May Newsletter
The Story Mint Newsletter | March 2016
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Newsletter: May 2016

Hi everyone
New members
A very warm welcome to all our new members! It's wonderful to have you with us. The best way to meet your writing friends is to have a go at writing serial chapters. We only work with writers who seriously want to master the craft of writing. We recommend Sailing, an adventure with a storm brewing or The Assault. You meet terrific writing buddies when you join our serials programme and your work will be promoted to set you on your way to building a readership. We also make sure you are not alone and there is editing support all the way through the process. Nothing gets posted until it is ready for people to look at it.
Some exciting statistics
Who ever said statistics were boring? Certainly not us. Ours just keep improving. Last week our Facebook page reached in excess of 111,000 people globally and we attracted over 2000 visitors to our website.
We have around 20,000 people reading each chapter we post and this is translating into greater awareness of The Story Mint and each one of our serial chapter writers. We now have readers telling us who their favourite authors are!
A learning to Write Revolution
Did you know that it is estimated that the mobile learning industry alone will grow to over $37 billion by 2020. This week we met with Beachlands School and Suraya is running a' train the trainer' session with five teachers in June. These sessions will cover how to use the stylecheck and to set up serials. These teachers will then manage five teams of ten students. This is a trial so we will be measuring the student's progress as they go.
Matipo School is also about to start a trial.
The stylecheck is a tool for self directed learning and is winning support. As Kylie Biggs, from Beachlands, says, "it encourages students to add detail to their writing."
Teaching Maori Native Speakers how to write English
I love this fact! In NZ we now have young native Maori speakers who are learning to master English as a second language in order to determine their working futures. We are researching how The Story Mint platform can make learning to write exciting, fun and self directed for these learners.
The stylecheck allows for students to explore the language on their own or in groups. It makes learning how words work fun. And that is amazingly exciting!

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!

 

Train the Trainer
In the coming month Suraya will run several 'train the trainer' sessions. These are sessions that enable teachers to set students up  to use the stylecheck. We will be monitoring the student's progress to check the pedagogy of the system and make adjustments as required. The thing that everyone loves is the fact that once students (adult and young people) know how to work the system they can work alone - self directed learning! They can also work in groups.
Suraya says, "I have seen many groups of students clustered around a computer telling friends to 'try this word', or 'that phrase and let's see what happens". It's really exciting when students play with words and watch how different words shift a sentence's emphasis and meaning while still making sense. They learn, without actually being aware of it, how verbs, nouns etc alter a sentence."

Membership
We welcome the new members who are now adding their voices to those of the members who have been part of The Story Mint for a number of years. We encourage our new members to book serial chapters and we are beginning to designate starters which they might enjoy writing for. Eventually we would like to see two levels of serials. The Rookie serials for newer writers will be less complex and the serials for Skilled writers will be more demanding. It is truly exciting to follow the development of new writers into masterful and confident writers.

Our Brand
Jillian de Beer has international experience in developing cultural brand and is working with us to define the essence of The Story Mint. When we develop this, The Story Mint will capture people's imaginations as they  uniquely experience the brand.

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

New member, Michael Ryan says:
A writer needs exposure for their work and feedback from that unveiling. A writer needs someone who dares them to touch the bottom of the deepest part of their pool of creativity. A writer needs positive encouragement when the sky is full of ideas, but the words won't flow effortlessly like winter rain. A writer needs someone who gets them back on the track that leads to the denouement when their story map has taken them into a dead end.
The Story Mint does all these things for me and more. Without the Story Mint, I would not be at the point where my artform is bringing me much satisfaction and light into my life.
I thank Suraya and the rest of the Story Mint Team for making my journey as a writer so much easier. ​

Our sincerest apologies to Joe Labrum for spelling his name wrong in our last newsletter. Joe is a long time and valued member and there is no excuse for spelling his name wrong. This is what he said:
"My first serial chapter was around the early part of 2012 and I was anxious about opening myself up to the group of accomplished writers. I always thought I might have something to say but having never written anything of note for anyone but myself I was a little afraid to take the first step. My friend Ray Stone introduced me to The Story Mint and gave me great encouragement for which I am forever grateful. I believe I have grown immeasurably in confidence and skill from practicing the craft but even more from the many gifted writers who read my chapters and leave insightful comments. And an added bonus is that it is great fun and quite challenging writing chapters in the serials. Thank you for the opportunity."

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...

Beachlands School
The Story Mint  gives global writers the tools to grow their writing skills through self directed learning. The unique tool, the styleguide was developed by The Story Mint founder, Suraya Dewing, to give writer feedback and guidance. Writers submit their writing to an automated tool which compares their writing styles with over 400 extracts by proven best selling and award winning writers. This feedback encourages the writer to work on adding detail and description to meet audience expectations. Writing chapters for serials encourages concise writing as well as improves comprehension and collaboration. "This system makes learning to write well, FUN," says Suraya. "We are delighted that Beachlands joined us in our first trial and we look forward to taking what we learned from that experience to improve our service. We thank Beachlands for their support."
One of the most important lessons we learnt from the first trial was to provide the platform then step back and let the teachers take it from there. Of course we are available if teachers request help. But our role is to make sure the platform works and the technology runs without hiccups. We have also been asked to give the students feedback. This is to give them a point of view from someone outside of the classroom but will not take the place of assessments.

Matipo School
Matipo School is joining the trial in a few week's time. We will learn a lot by having the two schools involved. Both will help The Story Mint to research how the trial meets pedagogy requirements. The Story Mint looks forward to the guidance of the teachers on this.

Research
Bruce Howat, who has a Masters of Business with a Human Resources endorsement,  will research the programme's outcomes. He has over two decades of experience in tertiary level education which includes measuring its outputs.  We have our first training session at the end of May with teachers and a student leader training session in early June.

ESL learners
Many of you will know that Suraya has a passion for finding ways to help learners who have English as a Second Language to write well using the stylecheck. Early experiments have encouraged us to start working with a group of young people who have te reo Maori as their first language. We look forward to seeing where this leads.

Retirement Villages and Rest Homes.
Discussions are continuing and there should be more news on this after a meeting with senior managers of a retirement village provider in early June.

Sparks Interactive
When we started out on The Story Mint journey, Sparks Interactive guided us by arranging web designers and technology engineering. Since then they have supported us with advice and with practical help. We wish to acknowledge Sparks Interactive for the way they have willingly offered their advice and practical help. We also thank Tony Murrow for his expertise in developing the stylecheck using our research. Without this expertise we could not be offering writers the quality service we are.

We really encourage members to let us know about their successes. Please tell us what you have achieved.

 

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 favourite 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 we look forward to reading the stories once they are underway!
The Assault by Leif Rennes is a dark mystery with a woman called Summer who leaves work late and is assaulted by a mysterious stranger. Is she dead or drugged? New comers would enjoy getting into this serial!  Ten chapters to book.
The 640 Express by Sameer Nagarajan is spooky and a reminder to beware of what you wish for when a seemingly harmless encounter on a train takes on a sinister edge. Six chapters left.
Rest in Peace by Hemali Ajmera plays with the supernatural. Two teenage friends fall out when one wins a place a the national figure skating team and the other does not because her parents cannot afford an expensive coach. Six chapters left.
Captive by Jasmine Groves is full of menace and challenges the writer to enter worlds of the imagination where few would dare go. Be quick and don't miss your chance to be part of what will be a gripping serial. Three chapters left.
Born Bad by Suraya Dewing. Are some babies just born bad? Let's see what the chapter writers think once this serial gets going. Three chapters left.
Sailing by Suraya Dewing. Kurt and his friends are out sailing in his parent's yacht. They don't know and he doesn't know that weather conditions might change.
The Way Home by Ray Stone. The journey into the enchanted fruit orchard begins. Four chapters left.
Fairy Blessings by Sumanda Maritz introduces the reader to the Fairy world. We wonder what the Fawn's blessing means. One chapter left.
Moonlight by Tulika Saha. Evocative writing tells the story of Chetna who has chosen career over marriage. Will she regret this decision? Four chapters left

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

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 Send your chapters to Anna Zhigareva annazhigareva@yahoo.co.uk
Cent-ed Het's chapter was full of beautiful imagery and poignancy. Just who has Saurav called and why has the call created such terrible grief for Guarav? Send your chapters to Tulika Saha tulikasaha@gmail.com
Gacgon the Sorceror  by Sumanda Maritz is on its way. We look forward to following this serial which is a new genre for The Story Mint.
The Diary of Pearl Farrall Hemali's chapter inspired wonderful applause from readers. This is what Linda said, "You've done such a good job with tone and style that I feel like I'm reading the work of a writer who lived through the Victorian era." Rosemary admits it is the hardest chapter she has ever had to write and Aiden-Penn said, "I found your piece very cinematic!" That is true 'show don't tell' at work!
Ghost Ship Read Rosemary's description  of Shark tooth Sal and enjoy the fun. Then read Ken's account of how the pirates are 'making space in someone else's life'. This is a wonderful tale of pirates and seafarer's out to sea!
Yours Truly Linda Alley dashes Jacques' hopes with Emily then adds a surprise. Who is the man in the car park? Griffin introduces Bernard and look out for the Labrador in Ken's chapter.

Finished serials
Silver Spheres  (starter by Anna Zhigareva) is now completed. I've heard many say it is one of our best serials.
Retribution (starter by Jasmine Groves) Dilara swallows her pride and breaks a spell. is confronted by Yemon, the leader of a rival village. He proposes a way forward that entails a complete reversal of all she believes in. Will she do it?
Sirias 3  (starter by Ray Stone) Sumanda ends this really fantastic story by destroying the resonance loving aliens with dissonance. Very clever!
Do You Mind? (starter by Iliena Bosu) This ends hilariously with our advertising genius self destructing. It is hilarious!
Running Scared (starter by Ray Stone) This serial is saved by Sumanda Maritz's clever writing craft.
The Bushrangers and Mary  (Starter by Mat Clarke) Ray Stone wrapped this serial up in the 'Greatest little watering hole in the West'. Find out how Mary's fortunes work out for the best.

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. 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

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:

The Girl in the Red Dress by Abbas.Ankit encounters a girl in a red dress when he moves to the city. Who is she? 
Angela gives Abbas this excellent feedback: We can help the reader to empathise and identify with the character through showing instead of telling them what is happening. Later she says, "...I also loved the line 'his voice was buried in his parched throat'."

Forgotten by Sumanda Maritz tells of the terrifying experience of being forgotten when her family group depart from a restaurant leaving her behind when she was just five year's old.What follows in the comments section is a discussion about how this experience was 'life shaping'.

Fa Khaero by Anna Zhigareva is another chapter in her Northern Winds series. Mako meets his long lost father who is now the chief of a prosperous village.
Vadares is the next chapter in this series. Mako and Ari are in his father's village but Mako has a question burning inside.
A Reunion of Hearts closes the story and resolves Mako and Ari's loss. It also ends with hope.

And Anna's writing continues to astound with its maturity and insight into people.
If you Can't help yourself is a continuation of Linda's story. She is disappointed in her search for a child and her friend, Sylivia convinces her to see. 

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 Hemali Ajmera Chapter 2 of The Diary of Pearl Farrell.
This serial is based in Colonial New Zealand and follows the arrival of a young woman who marries a doctor. The research Hemali did for her chapter was superb and very detailed.

 

A chat about books

Review by Suraya Dewing
October Rain
Author: Dylan J Morgan
This dystopian novella is the finest I have read in a long time. Generally, I am not a sci fi fan but have always maintained that good storytelling in any genre can over-ride people’s genre preferences. This is certainly true of October Rain.
What a pleasure it was to read. I could see the world Dylan invented and the people who occupied it. I could hear the hiss as the transport pods pulled away from the concourse.
There were sentences that captured the character and the world around her like this one: No one but me noticed the girl, a young woman who looked as austere as the world around her (5).
What a perfect comparison. We see the environment and the girl in it.
The story centres around Steele who is a government agent. The location is Mars, the world to which people fled when earth became a graveyard for most of its citizens. Now Mars is exploding. The story is about his hunting down the final two people government has ordered him to eliminate and transporting his wife and daughter to a new planet, Titan. The inference is that like earth the inhabitants have sucked all the resources out of Mars.
The author creates a very bleak scene indeed.
The twist at the end is stunning and I am saying nothing about it. I do not want to spoil the incredible and unexpected twist.
5 stars
Available through Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/October-Rain-Dylan-J-Morgan-ebook/dp/B01BAMP4E8

 

Blog across the Spectrum

We really recommend the blogs on our website.

Linda Alley  has written some excellent blogs about developing writing. Linda is an ESL teacher and has a number of excellent writing resources on her website. These include writing exercises for the classroom as well as book reviews. I loved her grammar Easter egg hunt.

Storytelling is a Country's backbone This blog by Suraya explains why stories will always be an important part of our lives as a nation. Storytelling is used to resolve conflict in organisations and stores provide a cultural thread in communities. Storytelling will always be a human activity.

 

Our writing tips

Check out this website for writing tips for novel writers at the start of their careers.

http://www.inspirationforwriters.com/techniques/beginners.html

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!

http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-writers-2016/

Writing Competitions
Don't forget:
The Rangitawa Publishing competitions, and the
Magic Oxygen Literary Prize mini short story competitions.

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

   
   
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