In a fresh phase of my long career as both publisher and published novelist, I turned to writing full-time. And I found that I missed reading and assessing brand-new fiction. So I’ve set up Free Literary Mentor as a completely free manuscript appraisal service to début novelists and their readers. During my professional life in books I’ve assessed, edited, published and reviewed prize-winning fiction and non-fiction, I’ve tutored in literature and novel writing, and was fiction publisher for an international company for twelve years—yet I’ve never lost the excitement of seeing new work. If you’re a novelist looking for constructive critiques, have a look below and see how Free Literary Mentor might work for you. If you’re a reader, check out the latest extract from a new novel—you may be peeking at a forthcoming bestseller. To share an opinion, click on the new extract below, or go to the Free Literary Mentor archive, select another and add your comment. 

That's what I think of Skinsongs, a futuristic thriller by Martin Livings, featured below. Martin has really nailed voice in this new novel, where an apparently innocent email has chilling consequences.


23 July: Martin has let me know that an editor is interested in seeing his revised MS. That's well-deserved notice.


Latest Extract
Skinsongs ~ Martin Livings ~ Perth, Australia

        To: Tracey Holland <>;
          From: Skinsong Corporation <>;
          Subject: Invitation

Dear Tracey,

Your name has been randomly selected to receive this invitation. As you may be aware, the Skinsong Corporation holds regular public auditions, in order to discover new talent for our skinsong recording line. This process gives everybody a chance to be a skinsongs star, whatever their walk of life. But here at Skinsong, we also believe in giving this opportunity to people who may not normally apply, and for this reason we periodically send out invitations such as this.

Normally, members of the public who apply will be assigned a time, day and location for their auditions, but this email, and the application voucher attached, allows the recipient to audition at any Skinsong centre, on any date, at any time. The voucher is valid for one month from today.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our audition centres, and who knows? Perhaps you, Tracey Holland, will be a star!

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The Mentor’s Critique
Skinsongs ~ Martin Livings

Martin, your writing in this futuristic crime thriller is assured and accomplished. Relatively short sentences (without being staccato) and very well-chosen dialogue move the action along smartly. At the same time you’re adept at description—essential when many technicalities require explanation! Your handling of detail is impressive and your choice of subject fits your style, which is compellingly visual. When Tracey observes facial expressions or scans a room, the impression the reader receives is crisp and vivid. Your language is equally evocative with sound; you convey the distinctive nature of each skinsong most convincingly. Indeed your prose explores sight, sound and touch to point up the vulnerability of human flesh, beginning with the horror that Trace feels over the mutilated patient at the clinic.

Tracey’s voice is well realised. With her alert, self-critical and ironical approach, she inspires admiration—she’s the active ‘eye’ at the centre of the story.

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Send me the first 20 pages of your unpublished, completed novel
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