Shelley Weiner

Shelley WeinerTestimonies for Shelley Weiner

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Shelley as a mentor. The sessions with her gave me a deadline to work towards which in turn brought discipline to my writing. Before each session, Shelley would send a discussion note in addition to her detailed feedback on the writing itself. This gave structure to the sessions making them highly focused and productive. I valued this immensely, given that our sessions were conducted via Skype as I live in a different time zone. Before I signed up for Gold Dust, I had doubts about the effectiveness of Skype sessions, but I’m happy to say that it worked perfectly well. To writers around the world looking for high quality mentoring, don’t let the fact that it’s long distance stand in the way. The Gold Dust format works.

I will miss our sessions and want to thank Shelley for her deep interest in my writing and for encouraging me to go beyond the goals I set in our first session.
– Anjali Patil (from Mumbai) 2018

Each session with Shelley was professional, intense in a pleasant way, and tremendously useful. I learned more about plot, characterisation, dialogue, editing, telling a story, etc., in this year with Shelley than in all my previous years of struggling to write. Part of Shelley’s talent is the ability to nudge you in new directions and getting you to think in ways that help you learn to ask the right questions about your writing so that you can fix the problems yourself.

What I had first envisioned as a high-priced editor turned into so much more. I had found someone who cared about me as a writer and had the skills, the patience and the ability to make me a better writer. I feel grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Shelley. If you take your writing seriously, you should consider this program.
– R.H. Leadholm 2018

‘Working with Shelley on the Gold Dust Mentoring scheme has been an absolute privilege. Shelley is so wise and insightful, not only about the craft of writing great fiction, but also about what a reader expects from a novel – a factor I hadn’t given enough thought to. She made me think deeply about exactly what sort of novel I wanted to write, with the result that I have ended up with a book that we both believe is far more sophisticated, compelling and marketable than what I started out with. And even if I don’t get a publishing deal, the experience has still been invaluable. I have grown so much as a writer as a result of our sessions in the British Library, which I will miss very much. Shelley is truly inspirational – and not only that, she is also the loveliest person you could possibly hope to meet.’
– Catherine Taylor Burden 2017

Now that I’ve just finished my last session with Shelley, a year later, I can honestly say that Gold Dust mentoring is worth every penny. In fact, every cent I’ve spent on writing mentoring, tutoring, classes, workshops, seminars, etc…has been worth it. But, I feel that the most important part of my writing journey has been through the one-on-one instruction Gold Dust provides for an entire year (or whatever timeline mentors and mentees determine).

Before being accepted into Gold Dust’s mentorship I did not have the following skills:

  • A regular writing habit that was built into my daily schedule as a full-time teacher
  • deadlines that I had to meet because I would not just disappoint myself, but the mentor who was expecting the next section of my novel
  • a drive to bring down my excessive first draft word counts
  • daily assessment and planning of the novel’s next steps and the world of the novel
  • building meaningful reflection time into my daily writing/editing so that the next drafts of the novel were built on what I’d learned from a previous editing session

Anyone who is serious about their craft needs mentoring because manuscript revision can only get you so far. Shelley’s careful eye and kind but firm guidance of my prose and writing process has helped me to grow in ways I never expected. I highly recommend her and the Gold Dust programme! Thank you Shelley and Gold Dust!’
– Britta Jensen
You can read more about Britta’s experience with mentoring here:

‘I feel truly privileged to have had my life-changing writing mentorship with Shelley Weiner.

‘I completed my debut novel during these eight sessions over the course of a year.

Shelley has taught me invaluable writing techniques: to be fully committed to my characters, to understand the different layers of a scene, to structure the plot and to use the advantage of multiple drafts. What makes her an exceptional mentor, though, is her sensitive yet thought-provoking style, and her generous and empowering ability to unleash her mentee’s potential, and to encourage full devotion to the task in order to gain better skills and confidence as a writer.

‘I’m truly grateful for the experience, and can recommend Shelley Weiner and the Gold Dust mentorship scheme to anyone who wishes to take their writing to the next level.’
– Julieta Timane

‘Shelley has mentored my writing for over a year and I found her calm, determined, authoritative style a perfect antidote to my panicky worries about structure, character, authenticity, description, voice, perspective, grammar and tension – and that was just page one. She talks from experience and understands what a new writer is going through.  She doesn’t magically solve your problems for you but gets you into a place where you can (hopefully) solve them by yourself.  Shelley offers a firm hand when you’re feeling wobbly and is quietly supportive and encouraging just when you need it.  I think I may have found a friend for life’
– Anne Gilchrist

’I have just finished my eight wonderful and transformative sessions of mentoring with Shelley Weiner.  I marvel at how much I have received from Shelley Weiner’s mentoring in only eight sessions of feedback, and how my confidence has grown steadily….Her sensitive guidance has transformed the book I am writing and my ability to write in general – both on a technical level and the mysterious way she has elicited my voice and given me confidence in it.  I feel as though I have been on an MA in creative writing.’
– Helena Partridge

‘Having Shelley Weiner as my mentor this last year 2008-09 has been a rewarding experience. She has read my novel and provided me with positive critical feedback on a monthly basis, which has been invaluable in helping me develop my confidence and abilities as a writer. 

‘I doubt I would have been able to progress as far without her professional editorial support.’ 
– Erica Matlow

‘The GD mentoring scheme is exactly what it says and Shelley Weiner who mentored me over eight sessions, lasting almost a year, is not only 24 carat gold but also the Koh-I-Noor. The sessions with her gave my work -in -progress a focus.  Her approach was always   balanced, thoughtful, thought provoking and rounded with lively and invaluable one-to one discussions covering style, structure, plot, characterisation, settings and more.  Under her perceptive, sharp eye I wrote, dismantled and rebuilt my story.

‘Each piece I submitted received a rigorous, strategic and insightful written appraisal. She quickly identified my strengths and weaknesses and suggested ways to address the latter.   

‘I signed up because I wanted to learn how to get there and Shelley navigated me in the right direction.  My writing was in a rut but as a mentor, Shelley instilled confidence in myself and in my abilities and showed me how to tackle hurdles that had hindered me. 

‘At times I felt I’d lost my mojo but Shelley was supportive and positive. She was a quiet, calm force and her constructive criticism allowed the creative process to develop.’  
– Anni Townend

‘I am hugely grateful to Shelley for believing in me and in my story. Her mentoring of me helped me shape my story and to understand the difference between writing memoir versus autobiography and thus to bring a disciplined focus to what I am writing about. When I faltered and lost my way, lost confidence in my writing and story Shelley helped me get back on track. She was hugely patient with me when life got in the way of my writing. As a result of Shelley’s mentoring I have a way forward, a theme, a structure and can now write dialogue which I had never done before! I highly recommend Shelley as a mentor to guide, challenge and support you in your writing.’
– Sarah Jhirad

‘It has been a pleasure working with Shelley Weiner for over a year progressing my novel. We have met regularly at the British Library and each of our sessions left me with much to consider as to how I might take my work forward. She has been patient and encouraging and her comments and suggestions have been revealing and instructive. I am grateful for all the time and energy she has spent constructively critiquing my work and assisting me.’
– Jocelyn Watson

‘I can’t thank you enough for taking me on. I’ve drawn so much from this wonderful programme and am most grateful for the opportunity…..

‘I remember reading somewhere that really good literary criticism should inspire, not deflate you. Every single piece of critique I was given by Shelley was considered and kindly delivered. She turned on so many light bulbs for me over the year we worked together that I’ve finally been able to make my way to those two magical words… The End.

‘My goal on embarking on this mentorship was not publication, but rather to write the very best book I could. With Shelley’s help I’ve produced a solid first draft that I don’t absolutely hate (a big achievement for me!) and feel like I might be getting closer to a work of fiction I can be proud of.

‘I assumed that by the end of the Gold Dust process I would simply put the work in a drawer, with the other two novels I’ve attempted to scratch out between housework and cooking over the years, and forget about them. But Shelley’s encouraged me to take my writing further, and that means a great deal in terms of boosting my confidence and resolve, regardless of whether I get anywhere with it. 

‘I think that, if you’re willing to be guided and to learn, Gold Dust offers an invaluable experience. I’ve come out of our conversations richer, more confident, and most importantly, a better writer. Thank you Shelley for your generosity of time and spirit, and thank you Gold Dust for spotting some glimmer of potential in the jumbled 5000 words I sent you upon application.’
– V.B.

‘I cannot imagine better tutoring/mentoring than I experienced in the last one year with Shelley. To put down good ideas and a strong plot on paper is one thing, but to go through the step by step process of crafting a readable novel is a totally different experience. I would not have known how to write in a consistent, structured and emotionally deeper way, if I had not gone through the sessions with Shelley. She has not only looked deep into the content and the storyline, but also enabled me to create more plausible, real characters. The concept of point of view against a camera vision allowed me the freedom to build and evolve the main characters in a more natural manner.

‘Shelley is an understanding and devoted mentor, who recognizes your ‘ups and downs’ during the mentoring process. She appreciates the pressures and setbacks that you may feel throughout the writing process. Her constant encouragement and guidance have made me confident of completing my project in a far more streamlined manner. I feel fully armed with the right techniques of story writing.’
– S. Raina

‘Shelley Weiner is a dedicated and committed teacher, whose enthusiasm about my project helped enormously to motivate me through writing an entire first draft. I am grateful for her continued support and frank.’
– Judy Battalion

‘It has been an extremely useful and, at times, vital experience.  I think I was a rather difficult student, in that I came ‘fully formed’ in some ways – i.e. I have completed five novels ( – all unpublished) and perhaps I was not sufficiently open to new or different approaches to what I produced for Shelley. At first I certainly felt resistance on my part.  I appreciated her attention to detail and her encouragement from the start, as well as her patience in teasing out nuances in my characters.  I have learnt some basic essentials to the craft, such as sticking to the past tense more consistently in describing action; and the thorny problem of point of view has become much clearer for me now.  However, more significantly, after about session five I found that she had a different ‘take’ on some very important aspects of the novel I was working on.  Fortunately I could see that she was absolutely right.  And I worked to accommodate her more subtle approach.

‘She enthusiastically supported my changing from one novel, to beginning another, about a third of the way through the mentoring year.

‘I think we have developed a trusting relationship, where I have been able to share with her some of the tribulations of this process.  She helpfully shared with me some of her experiences in this tough business of writing and being published.  During the mentoring year I found an agent based on a previous novel, and Shelley has been extremely supportive over that big step.

‘I would like to add that she has been very generous with her time.  She has on a few occasions offered and given much more than the specified time to read my work.

‘All in all, I feel very privileged to have had this degree of intimate and skilful input.
So, many thanks of course to Gold Dust for providing the ‘umbrella’ under which I have worked with Shelley.’
– Dorothy Judd

‘My year  working with Shelley as my mentor, has been an amazing journey.  I began with a muddle of ideas,  an unfocused plot, and characters not fully developed as believable people. Shelley has shown me how to produce an engaging novel, not only by correcting grammatical and other technical mistakes, but more importantly by considering the whole structure, both of plot and characters. The spirit and tone of the work, as well as the shape of the actual story, have all come together at last. Not only have I now the confidence to complete a strong draft of this story, but I would know how to work in the future on new ideas.

‘Shelley expects her students to work hard. She works very hard herself and this fact offers encouragement in itself. I would recommend others to take this marvellous chance to realise their potential with Shelley as their mentor.’
– Mary Major

‘Gold Dust – how apt a name.

‘The honest, considerate, encouraging and constructive guidance that was central to my sessions with Shelley was indeed like gold dust.

‘I live abroad but managed one face-to-face with my mentor. However, our Skype sessions worked extremely well because they allowed me to remain highly focused.

‘I had considered trying for an MA in Creative Writing. I’m so glad I didn’t. An MA is fine if you wish to gain a degree, but if you want to get published, go to Gold Dust. From the start I knew I had made the right choice.

‘Shelley helped me to find and fully explore my protagonist’s voice, and my own voice as a writer. With her encouragement I managed to unravel my “sticking points” and consign my “darlings” to the Recycle Bin where they belonged.

‘Shelley’s mentoring has enabled me to build my confidence as a writer. I now feel competent to tackle that magical final draft, though I’ll really miss our sessions.’
– Mya Roberts

‘In Shelley I have found a personal trainer for my brain. She challenges me to use mental muscles that have been dormant for too long and perhaps ones that I’d be too lazy to use on my own in my writing.’
– Aliya Ali-Afzal

‘It was with whole-hearted interest that Shelley considered my work and gave me advice. I have come a long way towards seeing how to bring the whole story together. She made the sessions very thought-provoking, interesting and enjoyable, and I have gained much from them.’
– Rita Nichols

‘I consider myself very fortunate to have been accepted for mentoring by the Gold Dust Organisation. Having met Jill Dawson, I asked her to choose a mentor to suit my personality and the genre in which I wished to write. Her choice of Shelley Weiner has been all that I wished for.

‘I met Shelley in London, before continuing my mentoring course in France and Australia, via email and long-distance phone calls. I have had a great deal of travel and disruption to my family life during this past year, which I hadn’t anticipated. This has severely challenged my focus at times, but Shelley has shown enormous understanding and flexibility in keeping me on course for the goals which I laid out at our first meeting. She has a wonderful way of keeping me focused, regardless of what else is going on in my chaotic life.

‘This experience has been both confronting and rewarding, as I have gradually understood and adopted the techniques, the methodologies and the writing style for fictional literature.

‘When I started the course, after working on my first novel for a couple of years, I thought that my style needed polishing, but I had no true understanding of the actual journey required to write at this level. It requires a special ability for the tutor and the student to develop and nurture the relationship of trust over distance and multiple time zones. Shelley has that ability.

‘In conclusion, I cannot conceive of having progressed so far toward my dream of writing, without the support of Gold Dust and Shelley’s international mentoring.’
– Lynn Russell

‘Through the recommendation of a close friend, I heard about Gold Dust and Shelley Weiner, and started to work with her soon afterwards. I got so much out of our time together: her focus on detail (without ever losing sight of the main thrust of the story and the development of the main characters) was critical in helping me to define what I was trying to say. She is remorseless in her pursuit of excellence in writing – though in a very human and understanding way – pushing you to mine the richest seam of potential from every character and development of the plot. She made me think about the whole process of writing in a different, deeper and more rewarding way. Shelley was hugely encouraging and supportive throughout – calm, authoritative and sympathetic. I really felt that I had her full support, belief and understanding in the sometimes lonely and frustrating task of writing on such a scale. I can’t recommend her highly enough.’
– Richard Marson