The Writers' College
Newsletter Issue 32 February 2011
In This Issue
Read these articles about writing on our blog.

How To Achieve Your Writing Goals In 2011 - By Nichola Meyer

Writing Great Twitter Headlines - By Karen Lotter

Editors: You Have To Love Them (But Only When They Accept) - By Ginny Swart

Making Money as a Freelance Writer: Entirely Possible or No Easy Feat? - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Compile your Story - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Conduct Interviews - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Cultivate Contacts - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Gather Information - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to...Generate Story Ideas - by Samantha Moolman

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Dear Reader  


It's a brand new year brimful of possibilities to shine and stretch yourself. Our focus this year is to see as many of you achieve your writing dreams as possible.

"Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary," the American author Jessamyn West once said. And she's absolutely right.

This year we are asking you to be courageous, to set up and stick to your writing routine and to keep the assignments coming.

The great secret to becoming a writer is that there is no great secret. You just have to write, preferably every day, and for a long time. (That's where the guts come in!)

As fantasy author David Eddings puts it: "A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin."

We're here to haul you over the finish line, but you DO have to hand in the work.

Let's make 2011 your year!


Happy writing!



Nichola MeyerNICHOLA MEYER (Principal)

E-mail Nichola 



Student queries: KOOS TURENHOUT

E-mail Koos 




Erratum: In our December issue we published the incorrect name for  Shaazia Solly Joosub. Our apologies to her. Shaazia completed the Short Story Course and was one of the top students on the course in 2010.


MIKE NICOL has joined our team of tutors. Mike is not only one of South Africa's leading crime writers, with eight published novels to his name. He also has 40 years of experience as a journalist, magazine editor and author of non-fiction books. Mike has supervised MA creative writing students at the University of Cape Town for several years.


Mike will be tutoring crime fiction on the Write a Novel Course, as well as Magazine Journalism. We are thrilled to welcome him to the college and offer his mentoring expertise on a national level.


We proudly introduce REBECCA HAYTER who will be tutoring Magazine Journalism at NZ Writers' College.


Rebecca has enjoyed a successful career in journalism, firstly as a freelancer for several magazines including Boating New Zealand and ArtNews Auckland. She joined BoatingWorld magazine as associate editor in 1995 and became editor of SeaSpray magazine a year later.


In 1998, Rebecca began what would become a decade as editor of Boating New Zealand. During this time she wrote two books: Endless Summer and Oceans Alone. In 2006 The Magazine Publisher's Association named her Editor of the Year - Supreme Winner, and Boating New Zealand won Magazine of the Year - Special Interest.


After leaving Boating New Zealand, Rebecca co-wrote What You Wish For. She continues to write for Boating New Zealand and is Australasian correspondent for YachtingWorld, UK. Her work has also appeared in House and Garden, NZ Life and Leisure, SkySport, Alive and NBR


A warm welcome to both Mike and Rebecca.



It hasn't officially opened, nor is the course even on our websites yet, but students are already sneaking onto Helen Brain's ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING COURSE. If you too are desperate to get started on it, please mail Koos






Belinda Blomfield completed the Magazine Journalism Course in 2010. She wrote to us: "I thought you'd like to know that a short piece of mine will be published in the March edition of Joburg and

Cape Town's Child

magazines. It will be under the Blog section and I think they are titling it: 'A New Mom Assesses her Post-Baby Body'." Congratulations Belinda.



As a finalist in the H. E. Bates Short Story Competition, 2010 Short Story graduate Trish Nicholson will be published in an anthology of the winning short stories later this year.



We received some news from Renette van der Merwe, a 2010 graduate of the Magazine Journalism Course. Renette has been writing up a storm. "Just finished the first draft of my novel yesterday and I got some very exciting news from Women's Health. I'm commissioned to do a sidebar... and I've gotten something published in Saltwater Girl." Fantastic news, Renette. Keep up the writing.



Rene Janse van Rensburg completed the Magazine Journalism Course last year. She wrote to us: "I have great news! I have been commıssıoned to wrıte a pıece for Women's Health magazıne, whıch I submıtted today." Congratulations Rene!


Magazine Journalism tutor, freelance writer and columnist and poet Karin Schimke's poem "Truffle Tummy" will appear in the May issue of O Magazine. Her debut collection - Bare and Breaking - will be published by Modjaji in the second half of this year.


Congratulations to all of you.





Well done to these students who recently completed their course:


  • Louwella Moeti completed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with merit
  • Rene Janse van Rensburg completed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Ida Dodgen passed the Basiese Kreatiewe Skyrfkursus with merit
  • Matt McFarlane passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with merit
  • Renata Dry completed the Write a Children's Book Course with distinction
  • Natalie Commerford passed the Write a Novel Course
  • Ronnie Rothkegel completed the Basics of Creative Writing Course
  • Fleur Thompson passed the Write a Great Press Release Course with distinction
  • Tracey Domalik passed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Milan Milosevic passed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Lizanne Els passed the Hard New Journalism Course with distinction
  • Nqobile Nyathi completed the Introduction to Poetry Course with distinction
  • Tracey Joubert passed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Melissa Jones passed the Novel Writing Course with merit
  • Kerri Lee Robertson passed the Writing Coach Course with distinction
  • Gareth Coetzee passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with distinction
  • Fanus Strydom passed the Basiese Kreatiewe Skryfkursus with distinction
  • Mandy Braganca passed the Magazine Journalism Course with merit
  • Claire Maloney passed the Travel Writing Course
  • Liezl Durie passed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Juan Botha passed the Basiese Kreatiewe Skryfkursus with distinction
  • Hayley Cleverdon passed the Basics of Creative Writing for High School Students with merit
  • Eldert Bongers passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course
  • Nthabeleng Sekhokone passed the Magazine Journalism Course
  • Ilse du Plessis passed the Writing Coach Course with distinction
  • Lebogang Kholoane passed the Business Writing Toolkit with merit
  • Christopher King passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with merit
  • Barbara Ann van Strijp passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with merit
  • Karen du Toit passed the Basiese Kreatiewe Skryfkursus with distinction
  • Charl Bezuidenhout passed the Basiese Kreatiewe Skryfkursus with distinction
  • Jolene du Plessis passed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Riette du Plessis passed the Scriptwriting Course with distinction
  • Phinius Sebatsane passed the Broadcast Journalism Course with merit
  • Zarina Simons passed the Magazine Journalism Course
  • Mareli Csabai passed the Web Writing Course with distinction
  • Ansie van der Walt passed the Magazine Journalism Course with distinction
  • Wesley Harrison passed the Travel Writing Course with distinction
  • Pieter Steyn passed the Skryf 'n Roman Kursus with merit
  • Mark Hohls passed the Magazine Journalism Course
  • Yvonne Erasmus passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with distinction
  • Jacinda De Freitas passed the Introduction to Poetry Course with merit
  • Beth Stols passed the Magazine Journalism Course with merit
  • Nomasonto Monica Makhubela passed the Magazine Journalism Course
  • Anna Guthrie passed the Introduction to Poetry Course with distinction
  • Kim Ebner passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with distinction
  • Natasja Atherton passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with merit
  • Alec Zeelie passed the Scriptwriting Course
  • Mia Boonzaaier passed the Introduction to Poetry Course
  • Stefnie Swiegers passed the Skryf 'n Roman Kursus with merit
  • Merethe Gooding  passed the Write a Great Press Release Course with merit
  • Brenda Jubber passed the Short Story Writing Course with distinction
  • Candice Adams passed the Copywriting Course
  • Sean Viljoen passed the Magazine Journalism Course
  • Zunia Boucher-Meyers passed the Magazine Journalism Course
  • Bianca Wright passed the Basics of Creative Writing Course with distinction
  • Petro van Rooyen passed the Novel Writing Course with distinction


"Wilna Adriaanse was a great tutor. She was the most valuable part of the course for me. What made her special was her ability to help me improve without ever feeling like she wanted to change my voice. My


manuscript is definitely stronger because of her feedback and suggestions. I would highly recommend the Skryf 'n Roman course to hopeful Afrikaans novelists. The one-on-one tutor is a fantastic idea and for me it was extremely valuable." Pieter Steyn, Skryf 'n Roman Kursus, February 2011

"I am Afrikaans and found the course material very easy to read and understand, and the prompt responses from Wilna on my assignments were great. Her help was valuable and constructive. Wilna is an excellent lecturer and I'm proud and excited to have her helping me with the rest of this journey. She's always available and answers all questions and concerns with dedication and knowledge. One of the best!" Stefnie Swiegers, Skryf 'n Roman Kursus, February 2011

"I believe that the knowledge this course gave me is more than I need to venture into the tricky scriptwriting industry. Karen Jeynes made me feel comfortable enough to ask script questions which many professionals would regard as 'dumb'." Alec Zeelie, Scriptwriting Course, February 2011

"I found Tracey an inspiration and her critical analysis of my work was always prompt, professional and relevant. Her guidance and support was unfaltering. I am most impressed with the course contents and the professionalism displayed by [my tutor] and the college. I feel I have made a worthwhile journey and look forward to the next stage."Beth Stols, Magazine Journalism, February 2011

"The course has been wonderful, I enjoyed it immensely! Liesl has been a wonderful tutor. Her comments, suggestions and feedback have been very intuitive and helpful. She has really helped me develop my writing practice and courage in writing from my personal experience." Jacinda De Freitas, Introduction to Poetry, January 2011

"Leonie Joubert was a superb tutor. Even though everything is done via correspondence, it still felt as if I built a personal relationship, which is nice. She was supportive and took a genuine interest in what I was doing." Mark Hohls, Magazine Journalism, January 2011

"Helen was very professional and knowledgeable. Her feedback was spot-on and constructive. I think the quality of the course is excellent and I have recommended it to others." Yvonne Erasmus, Basics of Creative Writing Course, January 2011

"Thank you so much for the course. It has truly been an inspiring and superb experience from start to finish. Karen Jeynes has been brilliant throughout the course. She always answered all of my questions with clarity and really went above and beyond the call of duty. She has been a wonderful mentor and a great inspiration for me. She is definitely one in a million." Riette du Plessis, Scriptwriting Course, January 2011

"This is by far the most fun I've ever had at completing any course, whether online or actual classes. At first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to complete the course with my hectic personal schedule, but in the end I think that the [time given] was perfect. I really enjoyed having Carina as my lecturer. Her comments were always fair and applicable and I've learnt a lot from it." Juan Botha, Die Basiese Kreatiewe Skyrfkursus, January 2011

"[My tutor] was absolutely wonderful to work with. I wouldn't have made it without her! Thank you for your professionalism. It's been a pleasure working with the college and I will definitely recommend it when I have the chance." Liezl Durie, Magazine Journalism, January 2011

"Liesl Jobson is an inspirational teacher who has made me think about writing in a completely different way. I hope I have the chance to work with her again." Nqobile Nyathi, Introduction to Poetry, January 2011

"Helen was an amazing mentor. Her teaching is straight forward and simple, which is brilliant. She is friendly and easy to approach. Very thorough too." Gareth Coetzee, Basics of Creative Writing Course, December 2010

"Carina het die vermo� om die beste in 'n mens uit te bring, en die kursus werklik te geniet. Ek was nie seker of ek die kursus moes doen nie, maar sy het my iets van myself geleer." Ida Dodgen, Basiese Kreatiewe Skyrfkursus, Desember 2010 


Congratulations to Trish Nicholson from the Far North in New Zealand who won our first round of our newsletter writing competition. Read Trish's heartwarming story below.


Closing date for the next competition - open to all newsletter readers - is 30 April 2011, noon. See competition details at the end of this newsletter.



Scribbler's Progress - by Trish Nicholson


My most productive period as a storyteller was between the ages of three and five years.

I hid for hours in the bathroom, squabbling with my characters. Sebastian was there too: we were inseparable. He sat on the floor, ears pricked, tail wagging as if he understood every word. Being an only child, he was my sole critic for a long time.

Then one day, the relatives came for tea. There were frantic preparations. Clothes, used tea bags, half-eaten gingerbread men - all the things normally within easy reach in the living room - were stuffed into cupboards and drawers; the table was wiped and draped with a lace-edged cloth I'd never seen before.

My face was washed, ears inspected, hair tugged painfully into bunches, but I didn't mind: I would have an audience at last.

Uncle Alec gave me sixpence and I decided, at that moment, I would share with him my best story. When a stab of indigestion briefly silenced Aunt Maude I seized my chance. Engrossed in my first character it was a moment before I realised Mummy was hissing in my ear, "Empty your mouth before you speak." Driven to tell my story, I spat the mush of peas and fish fingers back onto my half-empty plate and kept going.

But they weren't listening anymore. It was then that I learnt how important presentation is in storytelling. Read the rest.




Ginny Swart

 was one of the first writers to join our College when we started out in 2005. Ginny designed and runs the Short Story Writing Course. One of our best-loved tutors, Ginny has been an unfailing support for novice writers on a national level. She is the chief judge in our popular annual

SA Writers' College Short Story Competition


NZ Writers' College Short Story Competition.



Q. How did you become a writer?


By accident! I'm actually trained as a graphic designer but have had various jobs and one was selling advertising for a weekly trade paper. One day I sold a full-page advert but the editor said they didn't have enough editorial to fill the paper that week, so I sat down and wrote a whole lot of articles just to get the advertising commission! After that I became a journalist for the paper for eight years. Then, after a five-year break teaching English in Hong Kong, I came home and started writing stories.



Q: What has been your greatest writing achievement?


I think life's been a series of high points. The first time I had a short story accepted I thought life couldn't get any better. I had to stop myself standing at the check-out and telling people I'd written the story in the mag they were buying!


Then I thought my first book for teenagers (Nosipho and the King of Bones) was the high point of my life. When I read that letter of acceptance from MacMillans I just about fainted with excitement.


Then a few years later I opened an email from the UK which asked if I was sitting down, and then told me I'd won the international Real Writers prize from 3 000 entries. I was all alone at home and just sort of shrieked quietly to myself, and I couldn't even phone my husband as he was in Angola. I spent a huge chunk of the prize flying over to collect it in front of the local TV. That was definitely a very high point! 

Read the rest...





Here are some recent snippets from our journalism students' articles. They tackle some meaty topics with flair. We're holding thumbs these articles get published in the next few months.





Excerpt from final article by Liezl Durie (Magazine Journalism Course)


It lurks in the air, makes the world go round and changes everything. You can feel it in your fingers, maybe even in your toes, and before you know it, you're caught in a dance that is as old as love itself: the dance of courtship.

And, like love, courtship has survived from the time of armour-clad heroes and distressed damsels right up to the modern day with its chino-wearing knights and liberated ladies. How? By doing as all things must: evolving.

We live in an era where the food is fast, the traffic slow and people participate in speed dating to meet as many partners as possible in the least amount of time. According to a recent study, we have become so busy that one in every six people turns to the Internet to meet their future spouse. A far cry from Jane Austen's crowded ballrooms and sophisticated dinner parties.

Now, with the "one enchanted evening" clich� on the wane, how are the other clich�s keeping up?

Excerpt from final article by Jolene Du Plessis (Magazine Journalism Course)


The winding road from Matjiesfontein to Sutherland draws me into a scenic Karoo backdrop. As I drive slowly around the bends, the blue and grey colours of the 'koppies' play with my eyes, emerging left and right as I pass. Gradually ascending Verlatenkloof pass, the flat-faced rocks frame the view and on the dusty horizon Sutherland appears. The last ten kilometres feel like a dash to the finish line - the white church tower a beacon for the town's centre. A yellow sign welcomes you to Sutherland.

At first glance, Sutherland seems less than ordinary: no Checkers, Kwikspar or Pick'n Pay in sight. Only a few unfamiliar business buildings line the main road - an art deco 'Sutherland Ko-op', a white-washed, flat-roofed building called 'Zellies se Winkel' and a stone building with red and green letters that reads 'Roggeveld Handelaars'. The dust and the wind provide a constant reminder of the Karoo. In the distance the sign to the big telescope, Sutherland's main attraction, is overshadowed by the majestic stone church, where Sutherland began.

Excerpt from final article by Sean Viljoen (Magazine Journalism Course)


It's a warm weekend afternoon at Ngwenya village in Muldersdrift. Mellow jazz blows off the small stage, where Steve Gilroy moves his fingers easily over the frets and strings of his guitar. Steve could be a professional musician, but he is not. Instead the red and golden craft ales in condensing glasses on wooden tables all around are due to his art.

Gilroy is the owner and master brewer at Gilroy's, one of many micro breweries popping up all over South Africa. And despite the immense competition that breweries like SABMiller, Namibia breweries and Heineken pose, the micro brewing industry is growing strong.

Gilroy finishes his set, raises his glass to the warm applause of the crowd, and moves inside to the bar, where four of his wonderful beers are available on tap.

Micro brewing is about more than just this laid-back atmosphere and sensitive drinking, though. Beer is a complex and diverse beverage that we seem to have forgotten about.

"The brew master is an artist, intimately familiar with the flavours and aromas, blending these on the palate to the perfect ale," says Gilroy.

Excerpt from final article by Zunia Boucher-Myers (Magazine Journalism Course)


"The moment I step out of my home," says Andyee, a street-smart, black lesbian from Cape Town, "I become hyper vigilant of my surroundings and the men around me. I don't live in fear. I refuse to. But I know the stats; I know what African men think of lesbians and how they think they can change us."

'Corrective rape' is suddenly a buzz word, bandied about over dinner-table conversation. Middle-class house wives tsk-tsk over the occasional story that reaches the headlines. But what does this actually mean to the average lesbian on the street?

South Africa has the highest rape statistics in the world. The chances of a girl being raped in South Africa are greater than the chances of her learning to read. We are also the first country to refer to this type of rape as "corrective rape".

Although statistics are scarce, Wendy Isaacs of the South African gender group POWA (People Opposing Woman Abuse) says that at least 10 black lesbians have been raped and murdered since 2006.

Excerpt from final article by Monica Makhubela (Magazine Journalism Course)


Khethiwe Hani is 32 years old and to a casual observer; she has been blessed with a charmed life. She's a manager in one of the big mining companies, drives a top-of-the-range German car, and has a townhouse in a leafy suburb and a devoted fianc�e who worships the ground she walks on... . Looks can be very deceiving.

This is because Khethiwe is one troubled lady. She has to make a tough decision, one no woman should ever have to make. Today her doctor gave her some disturbing news and now she suddenly finds herself holding an innocent life in her own hands, a life she must allow to grow and live or terminate, before it even begins.

No one can ever accuse Khethiwe of being careless or irresponsible: she is your typical 'Miss-Goody-two-shoes'; grew up attending church every Sunday, and after school she went on to study for a degree in Human Resources. At university she met her fianc�e Themba; after graduation they got engaged and have been happily engaged for five years.

A month ago Khethiwe found out she is pregnant and as part of her antenatal care she went for blood tests which came back today. Unfortunately the results revealed she is HIV positive.

Excerpt from final article by Ansie van der Walt (Magazine Journalism Course)


With an early-morning cup of Ceylon tea in hand, a black cat purring on her lap and another snoozing on the couch next to her, internationally renowned textile designer Heather Moore starts her day by reading and commenting on a couple of her favourite design blogs. "I used to read a lot of blogs, but find myself too busy to do so now," she says a little sadly.

With a 10- to 12-hour workday ahead, one would think she works for a terrible boss, but Heather is quick to set the record straight: "It sounds like a gruelling schedule, but I'm lucky to be doing what I like, and to be able to work in a beautiful space."

This space is a first-storey, light-flooded studio in Cape Town's Long Street, which she shares with two fine artists, both painters.

Once Heather leaves home to cycle the short distance to her studio, there will be few quiet moments. In contrast to the peaceful and serene ambiance on the painters' side, Heather's corner is a riot of colour, textiles and activity. Rolls of fabric, pillows, aprons, tea towels, ceramic mugs and paper-cuts happily share space with a sewing table, work desk and packaging area.

Excerpt from final article by Tania Esmeyer (Magazine Journalism Course)


"Where's your stomach? Rub your stomach!" A line of Grade R students on the field, which is more mowed weeds than grass, pause for a second. Then all at once, they rub their little bellies.

"Okay, now jump up and down".

Tutu Wright smiles encouragingly while raising her voice only so as to be heard clearly. The eager children follow suit, heads bob and arms flail. The line of volunteers squints into the sun shining determinedly through threatening clouds coming in from the Atlantic.

Tutu, giving the basic instructions, needs to have as much energy as the mismatched line of kids. None wears exactly the same combination of uniform, but they wear what they have. It's the last volunteer session for the year, so the 'educating' happens outside by playing word games. The field at Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School in Hout Bay might be small, but there are trees, flowers, birds and a little space - all valuable teaching resources. The instructions focus on vocabulary, verbs and movement. The children get told to run, jump up and sit down. Later the kids embark on a treasure hunt learning different colours, which they struggle with. Mostly everything is blue or green.

Excerpt from final article by Tracey Joubert (Magazine Journalism Course)


Brenda*, 42, is an entrepreneur who markets the work of enterprising crafters living in KZN. Years ago, when in her twenties, she came home with her fianc�, with whom she'd been to university, to announce the happy news of their engagement. This was overshadowed by the shocking revelation that her father had been having an affair. They learnt this while all gathered together at her parent's home.

Brenda was in her mid-twenties and excited about having made the commitment to marry. This distressing news threw her decision to commit to marriage into doubt. It also placed her own relationship under financial strain as she and her fianc� had to pay for their wedding as her parent's divorce was ongoing at the time. The years following their wedding were challenging as she and her sibling supported their mother financially and emotionally.

Brenda is an adult child of divorce (ACOD) as she was older than 18 when her parents divorced. According to a study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, there are fewer adult children of divorce than younger children. However, the emotional and psychological effects of divorce for adults are no less acute. In fact, there are many uniquely painful aspects to being an adult child of divorce, most of which have yet to be formally researched.





Our Travel Writing students have produced some excellent articles in the past six weeks. Here are sneak previews of their openers.





Excerpt from final article by Wesley Harrison (Travel Writing Course)


From rural wattle-and-daub to hotels of long heritage, Wes Harrison explores this alluring mountain hideaway beyond first impressions.

Hogsback is at the top of a pass that winds into the southern-most folds of the Amatola Mountains in the Eastern Cape. As soon as you can change out of second gear, you're in the village. But if you pass the petrol pumps on your right, you've missed it.

When you start seeing signs to places with names like Rivendell, Hobbiton, The Shire, or Middle Earth, though, there shouldn't be much doubt where you are. Though Tolkien didn't actually get his inspiration for "The Lord of the Rings" from Hogsback, many residents seem to think he should have. Whatever the case, if you thought the Eastern Cape was just aloes and prickly pears, Hogsback proves you wrong.

The village gets its name from the three bristly peaks in whose shadows it lies. Hundreds of parallel spires line the top of three green mountains that from far look remarkably like, well, hogs' backs. At their feet is a dense mix of indigenous tangle and evergreen plantations.


Excerpt from final article by Claire Maloney (Travel Writing Course)


Sunscreen- check. Water shoes-check. Camera - check. Quick glance up - 600 feet of cascading water rushing down. Racing heart, sweaty palms and many deep breaths - definitely check. White sand, flowing waterfalls and the sounds of nature. All ingredients for a relaxing, rejuvenating getaway? Right. Now how about climbing up said waterfall? Did I mention that it's 600 feet tall? Accompanied by gushing water and shrieks. Lots of shrieks. Erm, we are talking about the same relaxing getaway here right? Is it possible to soothe your soul while adrenalin is pumping? Claire Maloney puts on her water shoes and takes to the "Niagara of Jamaica" to find out.

I'll be honest - at first the idea of hauling up a massive waterfall while holding on to the hand of a complete stranger did sound a little crazy. Surely the best way to enjoy a waterfall would be to stand watching serenely, thinking Zen thoughts, thumb and middle finger connected, all the while mouthing "ommmm"?

However, having been dazzled by the gorgeous photos in the tour brochure and by the promise of renewal, I decided to set off towards Dunn's River Falls- Jamaica's most famous waterfalls. (Also, with 007 himself getting a mention for visiting in the 1962's movie Dr No, it would be almost rude not to.)



Excerpt from final article by Sally Paterson (Travel Writing Course)


In an industrial part of Mt Roskill a group of nearly 40 people wait expectantly for a young Burmese woman to begin speaking. She says she's nervous and she giggles, easing the tension in the room. The room's classroom-like interior is defined by a world map and a poster for human rights. A quote by the American anthropologist Margaret Mead stands alone in the middle of the whiteboard: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".

In spite of her nerves she smiles broadly and begins her story. The group are respectfully quiet. The young woman tells us she grew up in Burma in the middle of a civil war. On the wrong side of the war. For weeks at a time her family hid in a dirt hole in the ground. Sheltering from the fighting, they ate, slept and cooked with only a piece of tin over their heads to protect them. The room is now completely silent. She tells of their eventual escape, hiking over mountains as an eight-year-old to get to Thailand. 


Final Article Excerpt by Bernard Mackenzie (Travel Writing Course)


Once a year the Riebeeck East NG Kerk Bazaar brings Boere and Ingilsmanne together for a tjop, dop and a council-of-war; and culminates in a clash of tactics in a scrap for homemade wares and tasty goodies in the kerksaal.

The Boere gave the Brits a rough time in the Anglo-Boer War and a visit to the NG Kerk Bazaar in Riebeeck East showed us why. The orderly, patiently queuing English buitelanders were no match for the locals' guerrilla tactics; tactics similar to those of their shrewd and adaptable ancestors.

Extended family units had split into smaller commandos and scouted out the bazaar venue earlier, peeping through windows and identifying key areas of assault. Information was gathered, analysed over a beer and a curry-bunny and battle plans were formulated.


Our Creative Writing students have produced some excellent stories in the past six weeks. Here are some excerpts from their writing.  






Tina Kitching reveals the dark side of the MacDonalds meat supply. (Short Story Writing Course)



Later that evening, Dave waited in front of McDonalds. He checked his watch ten times when he didn't see her.

"Pssst... Dave, come in through the back door by the kitchen."

He walked around the building and shoved down the handlebar of the back door. It was a bit tight.

"Maureen?" It was too dark to see anything.

"I'm here. Follow my voice."

He fell over something heavy on the floor and bumped his head on pans that were hanging from the ceiling. She led him into the back of the kitchen. There was a passage.

"Come down the stairs."

"I can't see anything. What stairs?"

"Wait a while until your eyes adjust then." The place had a rotten smell. It definitely wasn't old food. Maybe something raw.

"I .. eh .. I don't like this. It's weird."

"Fine, I'll come get you, you big mole. Wait there."

"Fine." His head was throbbing from the pans.

"Hey Dave, sorry about that." She threw herself into his arms and hugged him. She also smelled rotten.

"Let's just lock up and leave. It's creepy and I want to go home."

Her hands stroked up and down his back.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Dave." He could feel her nails steadily scratching his back.


Patti Smith deals with a stolen wallet. (Short Story Writing Course)



It's when I'm third back from the counter that I spot it and now I know why today is so special: it's a wallet on the floor hard up against the kickplate. I'm mesmerised by it and can't understand why nobody else has noticed it. It's bright red, for goodness sake, how hard can it be? I casually look around, taking in the surroundings. I might look dopey but guess what? When it comes to money, I'm no slouch.

The people at the front have moved away with their burgers and I edge further forwards. Still no-one has spotted it, so when I move up to the front I drop my shoulder suddenly so Ichabod is thrown off balance. He's used to this trick so he screams and leaps onto the table behind me. While the people in the queue behind me try to catch him, I lean down and scoop up the wallet in one easy movement. I'm so good at this that even if you had been watching you still wouldn't have seen it.

By the time I place my order Icky is back on my shoulder and we find a seat outside in the sun to share our burger. A quick check to make sure no-one is looking and I open up the wallet to see what I've scored. Hmm, not much. Credit cards, absolutely no use at all, unless I'm ordering on line, and as I don't have a computer or even a cell phone, they're no use to me.


Kirti Ranchod... a young boy deals with the death his brother. (Short Story Writing Course)



"I know that Sean's death has been hard for you. We've just been so caught up in our misery that we forget to comfort you. I'm sorry for that."

"It's okay, Dad, I understand. I can see what it's done to you and Mum."

"If you need help, you need to let us know. I guess, though, today has shown us that you do." His Dad ruffled his hair, like he used to when he was five.

"Your Mum told me a little about your conversation earlier. None of us will ever understand why this happened. I know that telling you not to feel guilty won't help. I think all of us feel it - all the things we should have and could have done, all the 'What ifs'. We can't change any of it, though."

"But Dad, I was his big brother. I should have been nicer! I remember telling him that he was too ugly to date Nicole, and that he was just so stupid, he should give up trying to play chess!" He replayed these scenes every nightas he tried to go to sleep, hoping that he could somehow change what had been said.

"Did you do nothing nice for Sean, at all, Robert?"

"No, Dad. I can't think of a single thing. I've been trying for months to figure out if I did anything to make him happy. I've got nothing! Nothing!"

"I know that you always let him have the front seat if he wanted it. You always knew which flavour of ice cream to get for him, and you let him wear your favourite T-Shirts."



Final assignment by Bianca Wright (Basics of Creative Writing Course)


Dimitria giggled as Koos kissed her nose. His lips moved up to her eyes and then back down to her mouth. He tasted like Doritos and Coke. Lately, all of their arguments had evolved into passionate make-out sessions - and tonight had been no different. She had shooed her mother and father out of the door as soon as closing time had announced itself on her father's old clock, and promised to do all the cashing-up herself. Koos had arrived as soon as Maria and Stavros crunched out of the parking lot out back - parking down the street so that nobody saw him arrive.

"Mmm ... all this arguing has its benefits." Dimitria smiled between kisses.

"You need to tell them, Demi - we need to start making plans." Koos relaxed his grip around her waist and opened his eyes to look at her. Her pale yellow sundress glimmered in the moonlight that shone through the slats on the windows like a detective's torch. He loosened one hand to untie her curly pony-tail and gently twisted a few strands around his index finger. Her hair was soft and smelt like conditioner.

"I will, Koos." Dimitria pulled him closer. "Soon." 



Final assignment by Yvonne Erasmus (Basics of Creative Writing Course)


Where is Pat, Dale wondered. Could it take so long to get a drink? Dale felt alone and anxious without her at his side. He threw a quick glance at the door to see if he could spot her, but could only see strangers standing around in the corridor. He smelled the stale cigarette smoke sticking to their jackets as they came back into the courtroom. Dale was afraid to look around, but he could hear the whispering behind him.



What did these people care, he thought, feeling anger pushing up from the pit of his stomach. These vultures would go back home, and he might lose everything.


As the sun shone down on his face he had forgotten for a moment where they were heading and why. But now, the warmth and welcome of the summer sun did not reach the inside of the courtroom. A fluorescent light in the middle of the room was twitching, throwing intermittent shadows in the corners.


Dale looked at his watch. It was one o'clock exactly. He knew he was supposed to be hungry, but how could he be when all he felt was numb.


Deadline: 31 March 2011, 12 pm


The good news is that entries are pouring in for the 2011 SA Writers' College Short Story Competition. More good news is that if your entry is still an idea in your head, you have one month left to write and submit your story.


This competition is to showcase the writing of beginner writers and is open to any South African resident. Entry is free.


Our judges for 2011 are among SA's top creative writers. Among them they have several hundred published short stories in magazines, anthologies and readers all over the world.


 Judges for the SA Writers' College Short Story Competition

Thank you to Ginny Swart, Karen Jeynes, Karin Schimke, Helen Brain and Henrietta Rose-Innes. They will be assessing the entries in April.


Read the competition rules and past entries. 



Read the latest articles on our blog.







Now is the time to set new writing goals for the year. Here are seven tips to help you achieve them.

Dream Big; Act Small

Setting unrealistic writing goals is a sure-fire way to make your writing dream unattainable. For example, starting the year with a resolution to write 1000 words per day, every day, on top of a day job, isn't going to cut it. That's what Steven King manages after decades of full-time writing and over two dozen blockbusters to his name.


As a beginner writer, rather start small. Two hundred words per working day add up to 1000 by Friday, which is a good deal better than zero because you felt entirely demoralized after a disastrous Monday writing session.


Your goals must be achievable. You can always up or lower the count if you find your initial goal isn't working. Rather work out what works for you than give up on your big dream.

Read more... 




There is an art to writing great Twitter headlines. Ok, I call them headlines, because that is really what they are. In twitterspeak they are tweets.


For the uninitiated, Twitter is a microblogging platform that has become increasingly significant as a source of news and information. It is very different from other social media platforms like Facebook, which are, well ... social.


Twitter has become the premier platform for sharing content - in 140 characters, which means that you need to be really skilled to get the most out of your Twitter headline.


What you share on Twitter is not only about the actual value of the content. It's also about whether the content gets viewed and appreciated in the first place. And this comes down to the writing.

Back in the dark ages, like ten years ago, most stories submitted to magazines travelled on paper, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope included.

These days most magazine editors are accepting e-mail submissions from local and overseas writers, which makes it a lot more efficient for everyone. Plus it gives us a glow of virtue knowing we have shrunk the size of our own global footprint (all that jet fuel saved, all those forests spared).

But editors of women's magazines are taking longer and longer to make up their minds. Are they drowning in submissions, or are they just reading more slowly? Many of them with large circulations used to have an army of readers who patiently sifted through the chaff, but perhaps some of them have been laid off in the tight economy.
Journalists - find out how to use Social Networking sites as an integral part of your work as a journalist in our five-part series.

Using Social Media to... Compile your Story - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Conduct Interviews - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Cultivate Contacts - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to... Gather Information - by Samantha Moolman

Using Social Media to...Generate Story Ideas - by Samanatha Moolman 



Visit our individual websites for country-specific competitions. They are always on the bottom right of our home page at,, and

Closing date: 31 March 2011

Closing date: 30 June 2011

 Closing date: 30 June 2011

Closing date: 20 March 2011 


 Closing date: 30 March 2011


My Writing Journey - write us a 1000-word story about your journey as a writer. Make it funny, quirky, inspirational. We will publish the best story in our quarterly newsletter and on our blog. Plus the winner gets $200 (R1000 or

�100). Send your story to Open to newsletter subscribers only.

Deadline: 30 April 2011, noon