Constructive criticism gives authors a helping hand

Sally Dixon has recently published Three Girls, a romantic thriller set in The Hague, and her next book, based on her experiences of life in Cairo, is due out in the summer.

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She is part of a thriving writing group, available at the Vivre Ensemble en Minervois association ( based in Olonzac, Hérault, and says many of the members have published books and articles.

Sally said: “Linda Amstutz has just finished a mystery set in rural France; Richard Savin has had three books published; Stephanie Patterson writes under the name Cathie Dunn and is working on her third book, to be released in March.

“And James Gault writes novels, short stories and English-language textbooks, and produces an online magazine.

“There are around 10 members and we bring material we’re working on, read it aloud and critique each other.

“I joined recently, but find it very useful. There’s also plenty of practical help about how to get published.”

She says getting published is much easier than it used to be, thanks to a number of recent self-publishing innovations.

She said: “This has happened in the last year and has been a real revolution for writers. I am currently working on a third book that brings together Cathar elements and current extremist tensions. The writing group has been a real help.”

New members are always welcome. Membership costs €25 per person and €45 for a couple or a family.

There are several activities apart from the writing group, including language courses, cooking, wine, gardening and outings.