Tara Avery is judging the 2022 Page Turner Awards Writing Mentorship Award and offering a writing mentorship prize.
Tara is a writer, editor, and creative coach who works primarily with novelists (especially of speculative, romance, and mystery fiction), memoirists, and writers of screen - and stage-plays. She’s interested in working with an author whose enthusiasm for storytelling shines through their sample, whether the manuscript is in its beginning stages or close to completion.
As a professional editor, she knows how many seemingly insurmountable problems can be solved with a patient ear, clear eye, and fresh viewpoint. As a writer, she understands how nerve-wracking it is to hand the results of all one’s hard work and personal creativity to a near-stranger whose job it is to be critical. And as a creative coach, she favours positive reinforcement, compassionate honesty, and conversation over commandments.
Who, after all, hasn’t heard nightmarish tales of the editorial red pen? Of teachers, professors, or even other writers whose harsh criticism leads to years of writer’s block, self-doubt, and shame?
Tara believes in empowering authors to tell the best story that’s in them to tell, and she does this by honouring their individuality, process, and imagination. Neurodiverse herself, Tara understands the frustration many feel when the usual writing advice or tips and tricks fail, and she’s committed to helping authors find the approaches that work for them.
How the Mentorship Works
As with most mentorships, the exact form of this one will grow out of the relationship between Tara and the author with whom she ends up working.
While any author who works with her is assured of an excellent editorial eye—be it at the developmental, stylistic, or copy-editing stage—a mentorship allows for deeper work on a craft that, hopefully, can be applied to future projects as well. Tara excels at helping authors bring believable, psychologically consistent characters to life.
And, as everyone knows, where there’s a vivid character or two, there’s bound to be a story …
Ideally, this mentorship will span the creative arc of a single project over a year, during which time, Tara will provide coaching and editorial advice, a sounding board for any issues that arise, and help prepare the manuscript for either querying agents or publishing independently.
For many, the writing life can be lonely. Tara walks part of the way beside her authors, offering a hand if they stumble; an ear if they need someone to listen; cheerleading, pep talks, or a gentle kick to the posterior when appropriate; and her insight and observations when helpful. Usually with a side of bad puns, armchair psychology, laughter, and enthusiasm.
About Tara Avery
Tara Avery has always been a storyteller. She founded a student magazine when she was nine years old. The next year, she wrote her first novel. (A whopping 136 handwritten pages!) She was the child who constantly wrote plays and stories and songs to entertain (and sometimes terrorize) the neighbourhood children with the universes she created and the tales she spun.
At university, she indulged the writer’s desire for eclectic life experience. As a theatre and film student, she worked with other artists—directors, designers, playwrights—to create collaborative universes and tell collaborative tales. As a literature student, she delighted in Austen and the Romanic poets and Paradise Lost. Her passion was for understanding and interpreting texts—especially the characters within them.
Upon graduation, she embarked on a life of writing and editing, and she was fortunate to spend a great deal of that time living abroad. Echoing her childhood exploits, she founded and ran an online literary magazine for several years. She wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a short, one-woman theatre piece. She has ghostwritten both novels and memoirs, as well as articles, blogs, and marketing copy. She continues to entertain (and sometimes terrorize) people with the universes she’s created and the tales she’s invented. One day, she’ll even get something out there that she’s allowed to put her name on and claim as her own!
For nearly twenty years (yikes, when did that happen?), she has worked primarily as a successfully self-employed editor, helping authors from all ages and backgrounds hone their craft and prepare their work for publication. She has learned that storytelling is a lifetime commitment and that one’s education is never complete.
She hopes the authors submitting to the Page Turner Awards find that prospect as exciting as she does.
She is a member of Editors Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, and the Alliance of Independent Publishing Professionals, as well as a vetted Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.
Tara loves books she stays up too late reading, pockets in dresses, and the Oxford comma. She abhors speaking of herself in the third person, and she promises her sense of humour is much more apparent in person.