In October we partnered with The Literary Consultancy  to offer an exciting opportunity to writers in the East of England who felt that their writing needed some tender love and care. TLC Free Reads gives talented writers honest, constructive feedback on their work from industry professionals for free; providing them with a framework for improvement and helping them to progress their writing.

The Literary Consultancy is the UK’s leading manuscript appraisal service. They can advise writers whether their piece of work is suitable for a commercial literary marketplace, and if so, will help them to discover a suitable agent and publisher. TLC can also provide information about self-publishing and the alternatives that online publishing can provide.  

TLC Free Reads is open to writers of prose (fiction, children’s, narrative non-fiction and short stories), poetry, and scripts for TV, Film, Radio or Theatre. 

Our winners are announced below – congratulations to all and we look forward to hearing more from you in future!

TLC is funded by Arts Council England.

TLC Free Reads 2015 winners

Rick Roydes, Patriot (short story) 

I am a young writer from Norwich. My writing vocation was 'guaranteed' just  moments into a science fiction radio programme early into my Primary School career. In Middle School teachers would joke that I was not so good at maths but I could tell a story' Migrating from city to small town, I began reading fiction and studying geography including New Literatures in English such as Sam Selvon.

I have been described as modern with raw talent. I believe that stories are everything from politics to moral fables, to fairy tales. To quote Sheryl Crow I am searching for 'an intimate moment with the [reader].' 

There have always been story tellers and thank God there always will be. 

Patriot

Patriot is an intriguing story exploring paranoia in an unnamed, future country approaching two minutes to midnight on the nuclear  doomsday clock. The main character, Kyle, is employed as a computer technician in a military silo housing 100 nuclear missiles. The story explores Kyle rising above the nationalism of the post war state through the world size love that he feels for his daughter. 

Highlights of the story include a rebellious  psychiatrist, plus Kyle and his daughter confronting the dangerously political Patriots and his careful explanation that the men were 'good really' but often 'got it wrong' arresting innocent people.

Anthony Nash, A Handful of Destiny (prose fiction) 

Tony Nash is a born and bred Norfolk ‘Swedebasher’ and has shown his love of his home county by using it as the setting for twelve of his novels. He began his career as a navigator in the Royal Air Force, later re-training at Bletchley Park to become an electronic spy, working for GCHQ intercepting Russian and East German agent transmissions, during which time he studied many languages and achieved a BA Honours Degree from London University. Many diverse occupations followed: Head of Modern Languages in a large comprehensive school, ocean-going yacht skipper, deep sea fisher, fly tyer, antique dealer, furniture maker, restorer and French polisher, professional deer stalker and author of 24 murder mysteries and historical novels to date.

A Handful of Destiny

On Michaelmas Day 1786, Thomas Nash, a contented Norfolk farmer, is to restore the family’s fortunes by paying the final instalment of a long-term loan. Instead, on that day he is falsely accused and sentenced to transportation to New Holland.

Far worse, killers have been sent to ensure that neither he nor his wife, Martha, can ever return to reclaim his land.

Lashings, deprivation, flying bullets and severe disfigurement attempt to crush his spirit, but never dampen his desire for vengeance. 

James Anderson, Marsh Low Road (prose fiction) 

I wrote novels, short stories and poems for years, and parked everything in a drawer. Eventually I sent off a short story (I think the drawer was full), and won the Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award. I had an Escalator Award, and that helped get me an agent for my (‘unrelentingly depressing’, Cannongate) The Dangerous Edge of Things, but no acceptance. I was encouraged by an earlier Free Read to finish, and later enter, the Rethink New Novel Award, which I won with The River and The Sea, published soon after. My follow-up novel, Terminal City, has vanished into agent/publisher limbo (no Free Read, see?). But I scrape along, I scrape along...

Marsh Low Road

It’s 1959, Norwich. A taxi driver takes a young woman home late at night. Her house open and searched, he stays with her until morning. Two days later she is murdered. Letting his everyday life slip away more and more, he investigates, until he is in over his head. Marsh Low Road is as much about the lure of the unusual in a dull life, and the ignoring of what is real for the fantasy of what might have been, as it is about who killed Greta Polhemus.

Anne Olivant, Warzone (prose fiction)

I live on the edge of the beautiful Blickling Estate in North Norfolk. I have always written- usually in the form of short stories and drama. I have written two children’s novels. The second, Warzone was born from a UEA ‘Constructing a Novel Workshop’ course. 

Wherever I have lived I have been part of a writers’ group – every writer should have one. My present group, The North Norfolk Writers’ encouragement has been  priceless – hence being pointed in the direction of this opportunity. 

The prospect of a professional critique is very exciting. Once you have re-read your own work it becomes an object of loathing. All your supportive friends think it is ‘wonderful’. I'm hoping the result will be somewhere between!

Warzone

Warzone is a story set in a not too distant dystopian future where the UK is under the harsh rule of a dictatorial regime. It is about Tamsin and her dissident parents who live in hiding in the outlands of Cornwall but who form part of the leadership of the resistance movement. When her parents are captured she sets out with her dog and horse on a quest to find and rescue them. On the way she finds friend and foe in a travelling band of horse stunt riders and finally the truth about her own identity.

Anita Belli, From the Diary of Kit Brown (prose fiction) 

I caught the writing habit as a child and have become a compulsive writer and creative tutor. I currently write fiction about women, love, war and art, exploring how the past ripples through the generations with unintended consequences. My first novel The Art Forger’s Daughter was self-published 2014 on Amazon and Kindle. I have also published short stories in women’s magazines and Writing Magazine.

A former filmmaker, dancer, and arts manager my career trademark has been to develop and nurture creative talent amongst artists, local communities and children by providing access to media, literature and performing arts. I am currently delivering workshops in London and Harwich which encourage and enable more people to write and publish. 

I live in Harwich, Essex.

From the Diary of Kit Brown

It is the summer of 1936 and in the tranquil Andalucían village of Santa Carmen, deep divisions are exposed by the arrival of an English stranger.

Loyalty keeps him in Spain for too long and he is swept up in a war which tears families and friendships apart; he must risk his own life to rescue those he loves.

World War Two picks up where the Spanish Civil War ends and he has not returned. Friends and loved ones scattered across Europe will never give up seeking the truth. In Franco’s Spain, however, shocking events prove difficult to uncover.

Matt Richards, Reuben and the case of the Magnificent Bogey (short story)

Like most eccentric writers Matt Richards has an interesting past; working as a Mental Health Nurse for in excess of ten years and then a further ten years with those with alcohol and drug addictions. the last couple of years Matt has accepted the challenge to pioneer a church reaching out to the marginalised in society; working predominantly with the homeless locally.

This has absolutely nothing to do with this book, however, which he wrote six years ago for his son Reuben. All his previous experience included in the above did not prepare him for that of having children.  His purpose for writing this was just to make his son happy and because it was an itch he felt he needed to scratch.

Matt’s only fans are that of his four children and wife Beth.  And that’s only because Beth is loyal and the book content is gross enough to hold the children’s interest. Matt would like someone impartial, yet professional to decide if this could be published and how.

It’s important to state, however, that no children were harmed in the writing or reading of this children’s story: Reuben and the Case of the Magnificent Bogey. If you’ve ever picked your nose then this book is for you.

Reuben and the case of the Magnificent Bogey 

Have you ever picked your nose?

I hope not.  But if you have, or if you do, beware!  

You too, like Reuben, could try to pick an unending, unpickable, unstoppable, 

MAGNIFICENT BOGEY.

This is a lesson to all little boys (and girls) that what you do in secret could end up surprising you and the world.

 

For Reuben tried to pick what he thought was a normal bogey, but as he pulled and pulled, the bogey just grew and grew until his family, village, fire brigade and even the TV news people were involved and got a very unpleasant surprise...

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