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Roland's Creative Writing Blog

Inspiration, tools and techniques to develop your creative writing.

The Writers' Studio Success Stories

Posted by roland
After working as a journalist and columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, Good
User is currently online
on Thursday, 16 August 2012 in Roland's Blog

We love hearing from writers who have taken our courses to see where their creative journeys have taken them. We've recently received updates from several former participants and wanted to share their good news.

What makes writers succeed is not just talent. It's their ability to do the work and persist until they get a result.

As Gordon Lish said, "I don't think that talent or gift, if such things exist, has anything to do with what the final receipts will be. My notion is that anyone who speaks, by reason of that speech, has prospects of achieving important imaginative writing. I see the notion of talent as quite irrelevant. I see instead old-fashioned notions of perseverance, application and industry...It comes down in every instance to this dualism between what one wants and what one may be afraid to have."


Elizabeth Farrelly

She emailed the following, "Dear Roland. So excited. I have a publishing offer for my first book of fiction. A children's adventure story called Caro and the Spanish Lords. Publisher is Walker Books."

Walker books is the largest publisher of children's books in Australasia.


John Corrigan

Just received the following great news from one of our writers, John Corrigan. He sent this email to Kathleen.

"I'm published!"

"The memoir, You Only Want Me for My Mind and Other Bedtime Stories, I co-wrote with author John Rynn won free publication with Interactive Publications of Brisbane, was published in June and will launch on election day 7 September at 4MBS studios in Brisbane.

"We're still smouldering with excitement at their reaction. Their senior editor Lauren Daniels told me, "John, I wait for years for a memoir like this one to come along. I can see this book placed quite easily in many international markets." IPoz's publisher David Rieter is going to take the book overseas in a couple of months with some other titles to place in major book fairs in like Frankfurt and London. Our fingers are crossed.

"If it wasn't for the Writers' Studios' brilliantly conceived courses I'm sure I wouldn't be in this position. The sheer ingenuity of your courses gave me permission to release my imagination and let my creativity fly. I am basking in the certainty that being published gives you and I know I have many more books to write."

Two book deal with New York publisher

This is very exciting. One of our Sydney writers has been offered a two-book deal on the novel they developed in our live courses by a major publishing house in New York. We will provide more details later as this has only just happened. But this writer has been through the entire Writers' Studio Three Draft process and also used to work for us as one of our tutors.

Vanessa Stubbs - Star Attraction

We received this email from Vanessa last week:

"I completed your Unlocking Creativity course in January 2010 and found it wonderful. On August 21 this year my debut novel Star Attraction is out through Penguin. I’d love for you to include me as one of your course success stories in your newsletter."

Click here for details

Jess Black - Tutor

Jess is one of our 10 Month First Draft Novel and Script Online Tutors. She has had a heap of books published. Here is a lovely article written about her in the Newcastle Herald.

Click on the link to Jess Article



Vanessa Skye - The Enemy Inside

Vanessa came in for a consultation with Roland and on the back of that scored an agent in the US.

She said, "I had finished several drafts of my first book, The Enemy Inside, but like many authors, I was having a terrible time with my synopsis and pitch, both pretty crucial documents if you want to attract a publisher! I felt like the book was good, but I wasn't getting it across very well to potential publishers or agents.

I sat down with Roland and in a two hour session we managed to completely redraft both my synopsis and my pitch. Once I sent these out, the reaction was far more positive. I had three agents interested in representing me almost immediately, and it all flowed well from there. Thanks Roland!"

Her debut novel has had some terrific reviews already.

Click here to read reviews on Goodreads

Vanessa Anne Walsh - Nights in the Moon Lily Garden

Vanessa completed Unlocking Creativity and the first and second drafts with us online. This is her debut book - a biography/memoir/spiritual handbook in three volumes. This is the first.

David Moon recently contacted us to say, "I completed one of your novel and script classes about five years ago. It was paramount in helping me complete what has been a life-long ambition to write a novel that I'm proud of.

I got close to having the story "properly" published, but in the end I self-published it as an ebook. The story is called The Hunting and it's by Max Bolt."

Here is a link to the story on Amazon:

Jess Black completed Unlocking Creativity and the Novel & Script First and Second Draft courses with The Writers' Studio. She worked at Random House as a writer on The Bindi Wildlife Adventure Series, a fictional series about helping endangered animals around the world. She wrote twelve books, then worked on the RSPCA Animal Tales series where she wrote three books. Recently she completed two books for an older Bindi series called Bindi Behind the Scenes and she's currently working on a children's book.



Karen Davis completed Unlocking Creativity in 2009 and has signed a two-book dealwith Simon & Schuster. Her first crime novel, Sinister Intent, will be published next August. The book is based 20 year career as a front line police officer, detective and under-cover operative.

Gerry O'Sullivan published his book after doing Unlocking Creativity and our 10- Month Novel & Script First Draft Course. Flag of All Nations focuses on the French Revolution and Limerick, Ireland.

Click here for more info.



Alex Gilly, who completed all of our Novel and Script courses and worked as a tutor at The Writers' Studio, recently signed with the Ed Victor Agency in the United Kingdom.

They loved the story he developed and wrote with us and will pitch it to publishers.

Another Writers' Studio alumni, L.A. Larkin, just published her second novel, Thirst, on August 1. Here's a sample of some of the great reviews she's received:

"Action that hits like an icepick in the back of the head." John Birmingham, author

"A savvy, entertaining environmental thriller." The Age

"A frantic rollercoaster of plot twists until the final resolution." The Herald-Sun

"Deserves comparisons to Michael Crichton and John Grisham." ABC North Queensland

Internationally acclaimed choreographer Meryl Tankard has been working with us for several years and recently wrote and directed a short film that has been making the rounds on the festival circuit.

The film screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May and will also be shown at the St Tropez and Cockatoo Island Film Festivals.

Moth follows the story of three young women and their search for freedom and stars The Slap's, Sophie Lowe.

She is currently working on a feature film script involving dance with The Writers' Studio.



Jamie Hilton is currently in our 10 Month Novel & Script First Draft Course and was recently named the Australian producer most worth watching at 37° South Market, a financing event held during the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Jamie is currently working on the supernatural thriller Backtrack, which was written and will be directed by Michael Petroni, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and directed Till Human Voices Wake Us. They are partners in See Pictures and are also working on an adaptation of Tim Winton's book Breath.



Vanessa Casswill is a film and music video director who is writing the first draft of her screenplay with us. She recently emailed us with good news. "I have got my first TV directing job for a 30 minute rom com for Sky in the UK. I'm heading out on Tuesday and won't be back until Dec - I'm hoping to make it back in time for the farewell dinner with you guys." She said what she learnt in the first draft course really helped her with her pitch.

Martin Quadroy has published his espionage thriller Red Sky Night. The book's website says,

"If you like your spy fiction unmistakably authentic, full of mystery and intrigue and with characters and storylines drawn straight from the headlines, then you've come to the right place."

Read more




Maree Santarossa, who recently completed our Four Week Unlocking Creativity Course, sent us the following email.

"Just letting you know after your course I have done the following:

Wrote and submitted an hour play for the World BBC radio competition (I used a story that came out of your course)

Wrote and being performed - 10 minute play for Crash Test Drama (I used a story that came out of your course)

Wrote and being performed - comedy skits for http://www.notquitecabaret.com

Every chance I get, even waiting for coffee, I whip out my notebook, take a few deep breaths and write."

Financial consultant Jim Stackpool has just launched his second book, Delivering Certainty: The Secrets to Engaging Financial Advice Clients.

Jim regularly tours Australia holding Great Advice Workshops.


Cathy Bray will make her third appearance at the Sydney Fringe Festival next month with her show, Inappropriate. Here are some reviews from her last Fringe Festival appearance:

"Bray doesn't miss a beat, effortlessly moving between the personal and the objective to produce a truly memorable show. I wouldn't have missed it for quids!" David Musgrave, poet

"...a fantastic show - so witty, hilariously accurate, fine samples of other people's bon mots, good slabs of poetry, moving snippets about family, great clarity of vision about America and our Aussie relationship to it." Anna Kerdijk Nicholson, poet/author


Alumni Sue Mackinnon has produced a new film called Paul Kelly: Stories of Me, which debuted at the Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this month.

The film follows the 40-year-career of one of Australia's most talented singer-songwriters.






Gilbert Mane has been the Headmaster of John Colet School, a primary school in Belrose since 1989 and recently gave a talk for Ted TV. Gilbert's speaks of how to immerse children in the best and finest ideas from a range of different traditions and cultures to show them pathways to making their ideas live, and make their own contribution to this rich human archive. He contributed a chapter on values education to Education and the Ideal. And his first book 7 Steps to Freedom is based on several decades of practical experience in self-awareness techniques.

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As Matt Sherring, co-writer of The Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Ben Mendelsohn and Robert De Niro, said after his film was released:

"The lesson that has stayed with me is; not to be afraid. Someone who wants to write but hasn't, can be fearful. Afraid that they have nothing to say. Afraid they don't have the instinctive skills to write something worth reading.

"That was certainly true in my case. But your classes taught me that everyone has a story inside them. You just need to learn the craft of writing in a nurturing environment - like The Writers' Studio - and your stories can be told. For me, that was an enlightening and liberating lesson."



If you dream to write a novel or screenplay, make the commitment to yourself to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.

After working as a journalist and columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend and The Financial Review, Roland Fishman committed himself to the process of writing fiction, which he believes nourishes and expands the spirit of both the writer and the reader.

He started The Writers' Studio in 1992 and since then, he has personally guided thousands of people through his unique step-by-step process. He has also published three books.


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Guest Thursday, 24 April 2014