I’m a bestselling novelist, published with Simon & Schuster, and have been teaching Creative Writing since 2004. I have a BA in English, a Certificate in Education (Cert. Ed) which qualifies me to teach in further and higher education, a Postgraduate Certificate in Periodical Journalism and an MA in Creative Writing. My third novel, What She Lost, came out in March 2017 and the fourth will be out in 2018. I have also published a number of non-fiction books on health-related topics.
I am an Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University and also run regular writing workshops in the community. I also offer one-off workshops to writers groups and other community groups
Check this page regularly for news of forthcoming classes. Workshops are run by myself and fellow writer Russ Thomas
Here’s what they say about us:
“Outstanding – really engaging, professional tutors. Many thanks. Wonderful day – loved it. Came away with so many ideas and renewed energy. Angela Robson
“The workshop really crystallised what my next project is – thank you!” Trina Garnett
“I love these workshops and they bring me back to my writing and inspire me all over again.”
“It was excellent – I loved doing the exercises and listening to others’ writing.” Dr Martyn Smith
I loved it. Having the opportunity to be listened to as well as listening to other people was great.” Darren Westwood.
“I thought the input was very practical and useful.’ Joyce Lillie-Robinson
‘Fantastic. Both tutors had time to give everyone positive feedback and constructive criticism. Variety of activities. Thank you, feel very positive and inspired after today’s session.’ Emily Quinn
‘It was good. I’m a slow writer but found I always had enough time to get ideas down.’ Kate Hewett
Review of workshops by Bernadette Keeling
Scroll to the bottom of the page for more testimonials
(Next Space to Write day is 25 November 2017 – scroll down for details)
Saturday 21st October – Sunday 22nd October – writing weekend: A two-day course, focusing on re-drafting and editing your work but with built in retreat time for writing, readings, and socialising/networking **THERE IS NOW ONE PLACE AVAILABLE ON THIS COURSE
A non-residential weekend course in the beautiful Peak District village of Edale (B&B accommodation recommended). Suitable for novel writers who have completed a good-ish chunk of work – you’ll probably need to have written a minimum of 10,000 words to get the most from this course, although we are factoring in some ‘retreat’ time for you to work on your own projects.
Saturday 21 October: 10am – 7.30pm
Morning sessions 10am – 1pm
Afternoon session 2pm – 5pm
Evening session 6pm – 7.30pm – informal readings and a glass of wine
Sunday 22 October: 10am – 5pm
Morning session 10am – 1pm
Afternoon session 2pm – 5pm
The Saturday daytime sessions will focus on the ‘bigger’ problems of redrafting, looking at possible issues you may have with regard to character, plot and structure. We’ll help you to identify problems and possible solutions with exercises that should be appropriate to your work-in-progress.
After the Saturday afternoon session, there will be an hour’s break to wander in the beautiful countryside, freshen up, or just chat with each other, followed by an informal ‘reading’ session with wine and nibbles. This is not a feedback session, but an opportunity to showcase your work with a short reading (probably about 5 minutes each). After that, we’re hoping you’ll join us for an evening meal in one of the local pubs.
On Sunday, there will be workshop sessions on the finer points of editing – looking at language, imagery and grammar, again with exercises you can use on your work-in-progress. There will also be some ‘retreat’ time on Sunday, probably in the afternoon, so that you can work on your own novels, hopefully putting into practice some of the improvements we’ve been discussing. We’ll finish at about 4.30/5 depending how exhausted everyone is.
Cost: £135 – this includes a glass or two of wine and nibbles during the readings session on Saturday evening. This price does not include accommodation (further info below for those who wish to stay overnight). Alternatively, it is a short car or train ride back to Sheffield.
Venue: Edale Village Hall, Edale, Hope Valley S33 7ZA. If you’re travelling by train the venue is just a minute or two’s walk from the station. There is free parking at the venue for those who wish to drive.
Accommodation: You may want to find B&B accommodation for the Saturday night. Some places give prices for 2-night stays but it is worth enquiring if you can book for a single night as many will allow this (unless you want to make a weekend of it, of course). There appear to be a lot of twin rooms available too, so if anyone is coming with a friend and can bear to share, that may be a way of keeping costs down. There are plenty of B&Bs in the area, so have a look and see what’s available.
Booking Details: Bookings are now open. A £35 deposit secures your place and this is returnable in full if you have to cancel up to 21 days in advance. Sorry, but we are unable to refund your deposit if you cancel in the 21 days prior to the start of the course. The balance of £100 is payable no later than 30th September.
Saturday, 25 November 2017 – Space to Write day
Would you benefit from some time away from domestic distractions to work on your current project in the company of like-minded people? We’re running a relaxed and informal ‘retreat’ day in Sheffield where you can do just that. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided throughout the day, and we’ll be on hand to support, encourage, and advise where possible. For those who aren’t working on a specific project but would still like to benefit from the day, we’ll offer a writing prompt in the morning and another in the afternoon, to get you started. There will be some time at the end of the day to read a small section of your work to the rest of the group, though this is purely optional.
Cost: £30 or a special ‘loyalty’ price of £25 for anyone who has attended or is booked onto one of our other writing workshops. Please book in advance.
Venue: Wesley Hall, Crookes, Sheffield S10 1UD
Times: 10.30 – 4.30
HOW TO PAY: You can pay by bank transfer or by PayPal. If you’d like to pay by bank transfer (I prefer this if possible because I don’t have to pay commission to PayPal, but I appreciate it’s often quicker and easier to use PayPal) please get in touch via the contact page & and I’ll email the details. If using PayPal, click on the PayPal button below and then enter the relevant amount. Please enter the name/s of the workshop/s you’re booking for in the ‘instructions to seller ‘ box on the PayPal form. Cost for the day includes tea/coffee and biscuits. Please book in advance.
If you cancel at least 14 days prior to the workshop, your course fee will be refunded in full. Sorry, but we cannot offer refunds for cancellations in the 14 days leading up to the workshop.
Susan has a great gift of encouragement; you learn very early on in her class that your contributions will be respected and valued, whether comments on the practice of writing or pieces of writing produced in class or at home. You find that your best writing will be unstintingly praised and nuggets will be found even in the worst. The teaching is wide ranging and well delivered. The criticism is real, incisive, professional and supportive. Your writing improves as a result both of Susan’s expertise and also of the environment of mutual supportive criticism she creates within the class. Philip West
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each session and can’t recommend the course highly enough!
Susan is an enthusiastic and skilled teacher whose comments, guidance and feedback really brought out the best in our group. It is clear that Susan really enjoys what she does, and this positive approach to writing filtered through to all of us, with some great results. The group itself was friendly, relaxed and supportive and as the course progressed we developed into more confident and proficient writers. Everyone enjoyed learning and working together and we were all proud of the end results. If you’re an aspiring novelist or you just enjoy writing and would like to see where it takes you, then this is the class for you. Caroline Wheeldon-Wright
‘I have been attending Susan’s classes for six months now and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. Each week you learn some-thing new, which enables you to improve your writing and ideas, to feel more confident as a writer. It has been great to meet new people, hear their stories and the many different styles of writing that come out of the group. Susan has been a great teacher and I feel that I improved just in the six months I’ve been going. I am looking forward to continuing in September and fine tuning my writing with Susan’s help.’ Charlie Narozanska
For anyone who has been pondering, considering, wishing, they could write then Susan’s classes are an ideal way to just get on and do it! Susan’s advice and personal comments on your work are always beneficial and a great way to aid your motivation. The weekly commitment clearly brought improvements to everyone who attended the group which is both warm and relaxed. Claire Gillis Beginners
“The feedback Susan provided helped my short story to win a national competition. I have gained a huge amount of confidence in my writing since completing the course. I would recommend Susan’s courses to anyone wanting to become a better writer. Nice biscuits too.”
My writing improved out of all recognition because of Susan’s really helpful and stimulating class. It is so much fun and really liberating and encouraging of creativity.
Sue Summer Term
“I have got so much out of the classes and would be happy to recommend them. It is rare to find a teacher who is able to give such measured, fair feedback and to encourage this from others. I suspect others have been put off by overcritical or biased group discussions which can often result when they are not well managed.” Sian Walker
“I was slightly apprehensive about joining Susan’s classes, because I really wanted to find a writing group that tackled the nitty-gritty construction of writing in a friendly, informal atmosphere, and until then I hadn’t found it. I’d been to other writing groups, which I enjoyed, where it was the norm for everyone to present a variety of work every week and to workshop it in class. I wanted to learn more, and soon discovered how Susan’s classes are different. They are well-structured, with clear objectives that take writing skills up several levels. The other writers are friendly and supportive. There are fun, interesting and challenging activities, sparking ideas. Susan is extremely astute, and well-informed about writing and literature. Thanks to her, both my writing and my confidence have improved. I highly recommend any of her courses, or any of her one day workshops.” Paula Greenless
“I went along to Susan’s class keen to write, but never having managed anything more than sitting in front of an empty page, pen in hand but mind blank.Susan was brilliant at getting ideas to flow, and in the three years I attended her classes, she taught me a lot about “the rules.” Her feedback is kind yet honest, and always constructive. I am now at the final polishing stage of my first novel, and about 10,000 words into my second. This is all Susan’s fault. I am eternally grateful.” Rebecca Davenport.
“She wanted to write. Of course, she could hold a pen, she had done a touch typing course, she could spell. She could tell you what a gerund was or a split infinitive. But how to hook the reader? At that point she hadn’t yet noticed the body under the desk. Good, good, always bring in a dead body early on. But what is it doing there? Plot, plot – we had a class on that. And who is it? Back story – should I put i back story? Oh God – I’ve forgotten the speech marks. I’m not sure if I am in first person or third. Whose voice is this anyway! Better get down to Susan’s class – she’ll know what to do.” Sue Beardon
“i loved doing writing in this group…i was in a very vulnerable place when i first ventured into the group but i knew that i loved writing and that was my only qualification for coming. On my first occasion i came to a writing day at the Quaker meeting house which of itself has a lovely tranquil atmosphere. We had a fun start playing with definitions of about 10 words and then shared a couple of these within the group. This was an excellent ice breaker and led into some more in-depth writing. i have explored many subjects in the writing group since then and went on to do the weekly writing group. i can’t get to the group very easily any more as my timetable has changed and i have moved further away but i am now busy writing an autobiographical account of my life and it is unfolding in a very different way because of skills i have learned and explored in the group. Thank you Susan.” Rachel Rice
“Susan gives honest, constructive criticism with a manner that puts everyone at ease. I have enjoyed every one of her classes that I have attended. Before attending I did pieces of writing and posted them to a tutor waiting for what seemed an age for comments. I prefer going to her classes because everything is instantaneous. I like the atmosphere and listening to other peoples work. It always amazes me how different everyones writing is from one theme or word that Susan will give for a writing exercise.” Jean Smith