Members' News

Jun 24, 2018

We have now passed the halfway mark for the year 2018 so it's time to round up our members' news. 

The majority of members entered The Firestarter (first chapter) competition in February which encouraged them to work on those all-important first chapters, to make them lean and keen. We put a lot of effort into preparing the 'hook' of the story in March with members using the Kritikme process and submitting their one-liner concepts until the idea for their story was singular, stark, tight and ironic.

Once the idea is sound, the writing is the easy part and using our process unfolds daily with lesser or greater pain depending on what's going on with the family. Work seems to be the least of it, as in real life, work, but moving home and family illnesses blow us wide of the white page, and Kritikme members offer their help and support to each other, knowing that, well, life happens....

In April many members embarked upon the new Classic Course and emerged slightly breathless to prepare to write new novels or revise first drafts armed with new thoughts on the structure and mythical elements of the big stories. Presently our members are either at work on first drafts with the Ninety Day Novel Course, revising first drafts or creating new novels using the Classic Course. 

Kritikme members are rallying in Oxford in July including tall-tale telling at the Bird & Baby - The Eagle & Child - used by The Inklings.

The autumn will be dedicated to the submissions process and come October, I will be calling the register to push members' second drafts through our Members Lodge. Chapters 1,2,3 will be submitted one at a time for the constructive feedback of fellow writers. We have a good idea of what kind of letter to submit. Letters will be run past myself and other members before writers hit 'send'. There will be a push 'all the way home' to representation this autumn, and most writers at Kritikme will now have in mind completing their first draft by September, revising to second draft that month, showing work at the Members Lodge in October, with letters out in November, and hopefully a few happy Christmases. Our next news roundup will be end of year.

Writers can join at any time and find themselves in very good company for whatever stage they're at with their work. We work to more or less an annual cycle, starting by developing what we are confident is a bold idea and going to first draft in ninety days. Then we go to a second draft with many checks and balances en route to a safe submission to agents or publishers. The journey is supported and quite jolly with social events and  24/7 online support. It's a good-humoured community. (It has to be!)

The writing standard at Kritikme is very high. Our writers are either published or poised for publication. This is no idle group, and talent is hard won, toiled over. Insights abound! Every week, a fresh insight occurs often 'communally'. This week, for instance, there has been a conversation about why we write and who for, and the writers who seem to be developing most rapidly have confessed they no longer care about appearances or social standing, that what others think of what they're doing has ceased to figure. You have to care and not care, as a writer. Don't give two hoots who may or may not comment about your productivity and success, but do give a great deal of importance to the unknown reader, and how we share this life and what it means and how precious the reader's time is, and how best to console and entertain, enchant and chastise...the me in you, the you in me.

It is worth making a mention of the following remarks made on the end of term report by Miss after seeing the ideas for novels currently being written and some early work:

'It is extraordinary to me how one gets to a place where the voice rings true, where the work rings true. Often one gets there as one might get to hell in a handcart, over the cobbles of failure, through streets of doubt, with some bastard swearing at you from behind (your inner voice) but still the handcart makes gets there and it was not hell, it was a hill, and at the bottom of the hill is cold clear water. Lucidity.

If this happens to you as a writer in your lifetime, you are not lucky, you have earnt it. It is who you are but much more so. It is who you are, who your closest friends and family know when they close their eyes and smile and can't see you but can feel you. A true and vivid impression of your unique personality. The essence of you. So I will only say from what I have seen so far of the work, you are more than you this time. There is a distinct difference now.'

Members' News.

Our members' published novels can be found side by side at

Here's what some of our members would like to report. (If you would like to contact any of our members about their work, please drop a line to [email protected])


Tracey Emerson's debut novel, She Chose Me, will be published on October 15th by Legend Press. Tracey is writing her second novel, The Victim's Code, with Kritikme and completed a first draft in April after doing the Novel in Ninety course. 'I'm now elbow-deep in my second draft and am very grateful to Louise Dean and the KritikMe community for putting the magic back into my writing process again.'

Katie Khan's The Light Between Us written on The Ninety Day Novel Course last year, will be published by Transworld (Penguin Random House) on August 9th. The story follows two old university friends, Thea and Isaac, whose relationship has become strained because Thea is single-mindedly convinced she can prove time travel is possible. When one of their friends goes missing in an experiment, Isaac and Thea must work together to find her - forcing them to re-examine their own friendship. Is it really as platonic as they used to think? Katie's first novel, Hold Back the Stars, was published in 2017 to great acclaim, translated into 22 languages, and is being adapted into a film by the producers of Stranger Things and Arrival. (The ebook is currently 99p.)


Rashmi Sirdeshpande has signed with literary agent Lydia Silver of the Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency and her children’s non-fiction picture book HOW TO CATCH AN IDEA was Highly Commended by the 2018 Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize judges. 

Cate Guthleben wrote a novel in ninety days with Kritikme in summer 2017. While redrafting/ editing it she enrolled on the Classic Course, and came away with an idea for a novel for adults set in Australia in 1913 about Matty, the motherless daughter of an Alsatian immigrant, who through her extraordinary friendship with Queenie, an aboriginal woman, defies the taboos of her own society to find a way to belong in an ancient country. She took a synopsis and the first three chapters to the Winchester Writers Festival in June and shared it with four agents in 1-2-1 meetings. All four want to see it when it’s finished. Two were particularly excited by the story and her writing, and asked for to see the first 20k straight away. Cate is travelling to Australia for research in July, and expects to finish writing in early September.

David Hogarth is busy in his garden clipping and pruning his novel 'Rise and Shine Little Man'. It is the strange and curious tale of a young boy growing up in a seaside town in the1960's. He struggles to understand everything, including himself. For now, the mysteries of the Universe and the possible existence of Santa Claus are his top priorities. He stands in the garden gazing at the stars wondering; wondering why he's locked out in the garden. As a debutant he is preparing his draft for submission this summer. He can be contacted via

Dr Glenda Cooper has just completed a novel about a grieving father who is confronted by a secret grandchild, and is currently revising her second draft. Set in the beautiful Lleyn Peninsula, the book looks at who is the real cuckoo in the nest as family secrets are gradually revealed. A journalist and playwright, Glenda is the former winner of the Poetic Republic and Writers' Bureau short story prizes; her plays have been performed at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Theatre503 and the Rose Theatre Studio, Kingston. Find her at @glendacooper.  

Janice Cumberlidge is currently working on the first of a trilogy of novels about hapless thirty-something, Bella, whose love life is like buses and whose family are falling apart. With both her first and most recent loves vying for her heart, Bella still manages to royally screw everything up and potentially end up alone again. The books are fast-paced with the heart of the Me Before You series, with the first in the series planned to be ready to send to agents by the end of the year. Janice released a novella and a short story earlier in the year, and her non-fiction book, Cracking The Website Code, continues to position itself in the Top 100 books on Web Design on Amazon. In July 2018, Janice will launch her own range of vegan skincare items under the name Fearless By Nature, based around her long-standing interest in health and longevity, and with a particular focus on encouraging women to realise their true potential. A portion of every sale will go to help the hedgehogs of Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, local to Janice.

Louise Tucker was the first to finish the Ninety Day Novel course in June 2017 and has, finished her second draft. 'Having talked about writing a novel for decades, this is the first time I have completed a whole draft'. Her novel is called The Last Field, and it is about life after death for the grieving. On the first day of his retirement, 60-year-old George's wife, Emmeline, has a fatal stroke. Since he has devoted thirty years to making her happy, he has no idea how to live without her. But an unexpected decision by his late wife takes him in a direction he could never have imagined and the life that seemed over begins anew. She plans to finish a third draft as soon as possible and submit it to agents. (A memoir written by Louise was runner-up in the Woman & Home memoir competition and commended in the Spread the Word Lifewriting competition.)

Melanie Garrett is putting the finishing touches to a novel which draws on her experience of running an inner city sexual health clinic. From the moment Aida Genjać discovers that her mother was repeatedly raped in a detention centre outside Sarajevo she carries a terrible doubt in her heart. What if she takes more after her father than she does her mother?  Aida realises her DNA could be the vital evidence needed to secure a war crimes’ conviction against her father. But when she tracks him down, things spiral drastically out of control. Set in Paris and Dublin, against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and the recent referendum on abortion rights, This He Did Without Remorse is a highly topical story of identity, belonging, and how confronting the past can set you free.  Melanie has had featured length radio dramas commissioned and produced for BBC Radio Four and the CBC.  She will soon be submitting her novel to agents.  She can be reached on @melanielgarrett.

Kelly Scarborough recently returned from a research visit to Stockholm, where she explored the treasures of Riksarkivet, the Swedish national archives. She plans a November submission date for her work in progress, a historical novel set in the Bernadotte court in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

Niki O’Callaghan has wrapped her first draft with the Ninety Day Novel course and is  working on her second draft. The novel is set in 1974 Cyprus during one of the hottest summer months for generations and tells the story of a young woman who finds emancipation in war.

Martin Corin ( pen name) has just completed a novel about a writer who is forced to leave her home on an island and travel East. She is revising her first draft to submit to agents by the end of this year. Set in the northern islands of Europe and the Indian subcontinent,  the novel tells the story of a woman who, after travelling through India to look for the lover who left her,  begins to understand the nature of the curse that makes all her loved ones disappear. Martin Corin has lived in both West and East and has written short stories and poetry. 

Romla Ryan wrote the first draft of her debut work The Angels’ Share on The Ninety Day Novel course in the Spring of 2017. After editing and rewriting through the winter, the novel is now complete and ready to send to agents. The Angel's Share is a romantic comedy with a 56-year-old female protagonist, set in the Shetland Islands. After taking The Classic Course she was able to structure the idea for a novel set in four different countries in four different centuries which she hopes to start researching next year. 
In the meantime she is revisiting the Ninety Day Novel with a group of other Kritikme members and has begun a first draft of a darkly humorous novel set in a Victorian sex cult in Dorset. The first draft will be completed in September this year.
Samantha Horley gave up a job in the film industry to head to Wales in 2015 and write, while consulting and tutoring for the NFTS. She's now a screenwriter represented by United Agents and her first script is under option with Eleven Films being developed into a TV pitch. The first draft of her novel was completed between May and November 2017, with the second draft done by May 2018; the first three chapters are now out to literary agents. The novel is (currently) called Memento Mori, a historical mystery, set in London in 1881, at the beginning of the end of the spiritualism craze. An infamous atheist and spiritualism debunker learns of his wife's death at a seance where everyone has died apart from the spiritualist herself. While grieving her loss, he pursues the truth of what happened that night and what she was doing there, which draws him inexorably closer to the spiritualist.
Helen Callaghan’s second novel, Everything Is Lies, the follow-up to the Sunday Times bestselling Dear Amy, was published by Michael Joseph Books in February this year. It tells the story of Sophia, a young architect who discovers her mother dead and her father critically injured - and that this may be tied to a cult her mother was involved with as a teenager. She is about to deliver her third novel, Find Me, also to be published by Michael Joseph, which is about Fiona, who is summoned up to Orkney to support her best friend Madison, currently working on a difficult archaeological dig. When she arrives, she discovers Madison is missing. Where has she gone? Why has she been keeping so many secrets? And who was it that was texting Fiona on the journey up, pretending to be her? She is represented by Judith Murray at Greene and Heaton, and you can find her website at

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