Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Open College of the Arts pilots mentored writing course

OCA course leader Jane Rogers
I'm a little late mentioning that the Ilkley Literature Festival began last Friday but there's still plenty going on there until 17 October so it's not too late to download a programme from their website - http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/ - or to ring the box office on 01943 816714 - it's easier to get through in the afternoons. A lot of events are sold out, as you can imagine, including the workshop on Character and Voice in the Short Story, on 9 October led by writer Jane Rogers but it isn't my tardiness that robbed you of a great experience, as it sold out immediately it went on the Festival website. Jane Rogers heads up the creative writing courses at the Open College of the Arts (OCA), based in Barnsley but you can drop into the Manor House for free at 1.30pm the same day to hear Jane talk and meet OCA director Gareth Dent and writer Livi Michael, who has recently written a children's course for the College. (Livi's workshop, Write An Historical Children's Story is also a sellout event.)

The Open College of the Arts is an educational charity set up in 1987 'to widen participation in arts education.' Courses include photography, fine art, writing and music and students can gain credits towards a degree, accredited by partner university, Bucks New University - http://www.bucks.ac.uk/ The creative writing courses include poetry, basic writing skills, lifewriting, fiction, and writing for children. The College was founded by Michael Young - Lord Young of Dartington - with the aim of offering distance learning high quality arts courses to the general public under the guidance of professional artists.

The courses are at three levels and students receive professional feedback on their assignments and access to student forums so they can discuss their work with other students and staff. Students enrol from all walks of life, the oldest to date being 92. Around 2,000 people enrol each year and OCA have enrolled over 50,000 worldwide since it began, mostly from the UK. Not all of them want a degree and many study to boost qualifications or just for leisure.

A recent OCA innovation is being piloted for people who don't want to follow a structured writing course but who do feel the need for a mentor to help them develop a work of their own. Forty three-year-old Akiel Chinelo is the first student to enroll on this scheme so that he can develop a book idea. Akiel is a performing storyteller and poet but when it comes to tackling a book, he feels the need for ongoing guidance and support. This is where I come into the picture for I'm the tutor piloting the project. I will be giving Akiel constructive criticism and feedback on various sections of his novel as he submits them and I'll be keeping a careful eye on its structure and development. This is a level three course and if it's successful, it will be open to anyone with a project they would like to develop under the watchful eye of a professional writer and tutor. You can see and hear Akiel talking about his work in the OCA video below.

Akiel Chinelo from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo.

To find out more about OCA courses, visit  http://www.oca-uk.com/ or email enquiries@oca-uk.com or phone: 0800 731 2116 (0044(0)1226 730 495 from outside the UK).

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