IELTS test in the UAE – January 2018 (Academic Module)

An IELTS test taker from the UAE (thanks, U!) remembered the following questions from a recent exam:

Listening testIELTS test in the UAE

Section 1. About a furniture shop in the UK
Section 2. About Museums, Art galleries and fashion show.
Section 3. Business analysis and principles such as SWOT, Pareto and so on.
Section 4. Survey of students after graduation.

Reading test

Passage 1. Fast food and slow food.
Passage 2. Fuel consumption and various technologies and inventions to reduce it.
Passage 3. History in various centuries (5th, 6th, 9th, 15th and 16th) and how different they are from the present.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

A table was given comparing the percentages of expenditure on various household items in everyday life in 1986 and 2009.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

Some exercises are good, but not all, and without knowing the difference people who do all kinds of exercises can harm themselves. Do you agree or disagree? Give your own opinion and include examples from your experience.

Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– What can I call you?
– Where are you from?
– Tell me about the part of your country where you live.
– What do you like about the place where you live?
– How was your first day at high school?
– Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

Cue Card

Talk about a car trip that you took. Please say

– Where did you go?
– What was the purpose of the trip?
– Who was there with you?
– Why do you still remember this trip?


– How often do you travel by car?
– How good is the transportation system in your country?
– How can it be improved?
– Do you think doing so will reduce pollution?
– If the transportation system were improved, would more people use it?

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New Literary Agent Alert: Patty Carothers of Metamorphosis Literay Agency

Online Workshop | Get a Literary Agent: How to Catch an Agent’s Interest With Your Query and First Pages

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Patty Carothers of Metamorphosis Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

About Patty: Patty Carothers has been in love with stories for as long as she can remember. She is a certified copy editor and an Oxford comma fangirl. Her adoration of all things comic book related and YA has morphed into her co-writing the Texting Prince Charming series. Engaging and realistic characters that bounce off the pages through witty and thought-provoking dialogue are a thrill for her to read. Although, most days the real question lies with a simple: Is she team Marvel or team D.C.?  During her internship at Metamorphosis, she has utilized her passion for being a wordsmith and grammar guru to help writers develop their writing skills and harness their distinctive inner voices.

She’s seeking: Anything YA, with an innate fondness for contemporary stories whose characters she’d want to claim as her BFFs.

How to Submit: 
Please send submissions to

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

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IELTS Speaking test in Bangalore, India – January 2018

Our friend H took the IELTS exam in Bangalore, India, and was asked the following questions in the Speaking test:

Speaking testIELTS test in India


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– What transport do you use?
– Would you like to travel by bus in the future?
– Do you prefer bus or metro to commute?

Cue Card

Talk about a place where lots of people come together. Please say

– What is this place?
– When did you last go to such a place?
– Did you enjoy it? Why?


– Who did you go there with?
– What kind of places do young people like to visit?
– Why do people go to such places?
– Do you like going to crowded places?
– Why or why not?
– Is negotiating with a crowd difficult?

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6 Lessons Learned from a Year of 101 Rejections

By Natalie D-Napoleon

Earlier this year I came across an article by Kim Liao in which she explained “Why You Should Aim For 100 Rejections A Year.” As soon as I finished reading the piece I went to the folder in my email marked “Writing Submissions 2017” and for the first time in my life, I began to count my rejections rather than counting my acceptances. I had effortlessly amassed 53 rejections. I punched my fist in the air and whooped out loud. It was June and I was already halfway to 100 rejections for the year.

I am the sensitive type (of course, I’m a writer): I weep openly when listening to sad love songs or during Claire and Jamie’s various reunifications on Outlander, and I have cried in the past on my friend’s and husband’s shoulder when my writing has been rejected. However, before Kim Liao’s article, another woman had sent me on the journey of beginning to accept that rejection was less about failure and more about getting closer to your goals. In 2015, I attended the first BinderCon conference in L.A. BinderCon began as a “secret” Facebook group of women writers sharing contacts and information and grew into a movement and conference which supports women and gender variant writers.

At BinderCon 2015, Katie Orenstein, founder of The OpEd Project, spoke about the lack of representation of women in the media and the reasons why. As a former journalist and foreign correspondent, she had a perspective on being rejected that I could not fathom at the time. Orenstein opened my eyes to one impressive fact—that women submit their work less than men. She had the statistics to prove it and the acceptances and consequent higher representation of men in the media. In one generalized conclusion: When women and people of color get rejected, we take it personally. When white men’s work is rejected, they don’t take it as a measure of the worth of their work—they decide it simply needs to find the right home elsewhere.

Orenstein says that the dearth of women’s voices in the media, “has affected the quality of our nation’s conversation, the way research is conducted, how stories are reported, and how history plays out—and indeed, what we think history is. As it turns out, the most crucial factor in determining history is more often not the distinction between what is fact and what is fiction, but who tells the story.”

Orenstein’s talk put a fire in my belly. I had an aim now that was both personal and political, to start by not taking writing rejections personally, and to submit more often because that’s what had worked, most likely for centuries of successful male writers. I didn’t aim for 100 rejections in that year; however, I had begun a master’s degree in writing, and the idea was placed in my back pocket for when I had produced the work that needed to be put out into the world. The formula seemed so simple: Submit, submit, submit, submit, and don’t take rejection personally.

Checking that “Writing Submissions 2017” folder again as I neared the end of December 2017, I counted 100 rejections—and one written rejection in a pile of papers on my desk from The Sun—took me to 101! While walking the path that Kim Liao and Katie Orenstein put me on, I have learnt a few lessons:

1. Have a body of work to submit.

In the past when I had submitted work. I didn’t have a body of work behind me to make submitting worth my while—just a handful of poems, a new short story every year. From 2014 to 2016 I completed my degree online. With a four-year-old and a part-time job as a writing tutor, I didn’t have much time to do anything other than produce creative writing. I was ferocious and voracious; I wrote and wrote and re-wrote and didn’t stop to think for a moment about what I would do with the work. I simply enjoyed the process of creating after taking a break for several years to be a mom and pursue the life of a singer-songwriter. What this time gave me was a significant body of work to begin dipping in to in order to begin submitting when the time was right. By the time I completed my degree, I had a complete poetry collection and several creative nonfiction essays ready to submit.

Online Course: Fearless Writing with Bill Kenower

2. Pitch your submissions like a freelance journalist pitches stories.

My husband is a freelance journalist, so when I began submitting and expressing my frustration when I was rejected, his first question to me was Why don’t you try submitting like journalists do? “Research the publication, the editors, the judges, and pitch the work you think will resonate specifically with that publication or judge,” he advised.

I had read the worn “read our publication before you submit,” but I figured that advice was for everyone else, not me. Despite my reservations, I started to heed his and journal editors’ advice, I began to read publications and pitch my work accordingly. This meant researching editors, then finding examples of their work online and reading them. I can say that a good portion of my acceptances—and positive rejections—were the result of taking the time to research and read before I submitted work. The added bonus: I discovered new writers, poetry and creative nonfiction writing that I both enjoyed and could learn from in order to improve my own work.

As a part of this process, I subscribed to each journal’s mailing list. I now regularly go to my email inbox and read these mailings, which often leads to submitting work when themes are called for, or reminds me of reading periods and submission deadlines.

3. Rewrite to meet the word count, and learn to edit your work.

Continuing to think like a freelancer, when I found competitions I wanted to enter, I rewrote work to meet the word count or cut stanzas out of poems to meet the line count. Through this process I became a better editor of my own work. I removed a whole stanza from one poem that placed me second in a competition, and I now prefer the edited version.

I came to discover what author Katherine Paterson says: “I love revisions. … We can’t go back and revise our lives, but being allowed to go back and revise what we have written comes closest.”

Part of this process also meant finding good, trustworthy readers of my work who would give me feedback on what was working and what was not in my writing. In the past I took little time to reflect on my own work, or to find readers. Often, knowing that I had a reader about to peruse my work with a critical eye made me edit more ruthlessly before forwarding my work to them. I learned to ask my readers for specific feedback—e.g., “What do you think of the dialogue on page two of the story?” This helped me identify the weak areas in my own work, especially when readers confirmed my own judgement.

The rejection process also allows you to get to know your stronger and weaker work through the self-reflective process of editing, getting reader feedback, and occasional editorial feedback. As Paul Martin writes in Writer’s Little Instruction Book – Getting Published, “Every rejection … adds to your knowledge about the right market for your work.”

4. IRL connections matter.

No art is created in a vacuum, and no art exists without community. Often writers find community online; however, very few of my online connections have been made without some seven-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon real life connection. When I began my master’s degree I joined two different local in-person writing groups, began attending local poetry readings and book launches, and through this process I met local writers and publishers.

Eventually these relationships—and I’d like to think the quality of my work—led to getting a poem published in an ekphrastic poetry collection by a local publisher. A friend suggested I submit a memoir piece to a local reading series, and although I had a cold and hacking cough at the time, I thought about my 100 rejections, soldiered on and made a recording. I was accepted to the series, got to read to a full room of attentive listeners, and was coached by a drama teacher on how to read my work aloud—another valuable lesson—all the while connecting with a local writing community I could lean on in the process.

5. Celebrate encouraging feedback.

As an editor told Liao in (according to her article), “The thrill of an acceptance eventually wears off, but the quiet solidarity of an encouraging rejection lasts forever.” The few personal notes I received in 2017 added fuel to the fire, which kept me submitting. When a prominent journal in Australia rejected two poems they wrote, “We enjoyed the intense, vertiginous imagery in these poems,” and then urged me to submit more work in the future. Encouraging rejections let you know your writing is on track (and apparently gives some people vertigo), and that someone out there is carefully considering and paying attention to your work.

The added bonus is that once you know the editors like your work, if you continue to submit to that journal they should: a) remember your name, and b) eventually accept a piece. Getting to know the body of work of an emerging writer is what often gives editors an “in” to understanding your unique point of view. After I had a poem accepted for publication in Australian Poetry Journal, I realized I recognized the editor’s name, and when I reviewed my submissions I found out that I’d sent samples of my work to other journals she edited. Maybe she recognized my name, or maybe once she read the work one more time it “clicked.”

6. Set aside regular time to submit, review and rewrite your work.

Because I was inspired by Liao’s article to continue submitting, I began to set aside time each week to submit. However, this didn’t mean I began submitting blindly. I would carefully study the newsletters of journals, do Google searches, read the Submittable weekly mailer and search the site, the Poets and Writers newsletter, and save competitions that arose on Facebook. Then I would take the time to read the journal I wanted to submit to and decide if my work was appropriate or needed to be rewritten, or if I needed to review my own body of work to find something that may fit a theme call-out. By doing this for an hour or two, two or three days a week, I built up to 101 rejections.

I also learnt during the process that I had underestimated some of my own work. My experimental erasure poetry was being published extensively, and I found that what Orenstein had suggested was true: more rejection builds resilience and an ability to brush it off. Most of all, I realized the truth of what Zora Sanders, the former editor of Australian journal Meanjin Quarterly, said: For women to bring our work to the attention of editors we need “to take more risks.”

This led me to the greatest lesson of all: How to use rejection to review my work and improve my writing.

And the result of my year of 101 rejections? I won second place for my poem “First Blood” and had another poem commended in a poetry competition judged by the international editor of the Kenyon ReviewI made two competition shortlists with a creative nonfiction memoir piece, “Crossing,” and then the same story was accepted by a major Australia literary journal for publication; I had four erasure poems published online and another accepted in Australian Poetry Journal; I read a memoir piece at a local reading series to a sold-out room, and finally, an ekphrastic poem was published in a collection by Gunpowder Press. That’s 11 acceptances for 101 rejections, if anyone is counting.

This year, I’m prepared to aim for 102 rejections with glee, while I quietly place a few more cracks in the literary glass ceiling.

Natalie D-Napoleon is a writer, singer-songwriter and educator from Fremantle, Australia who now lives in California. She has an MA in Writing from Swinburne University and currently works as a Coordinator at a Writing Center in a California city college. Her work has appeared in Entropy, The Found Poetry Review, LA Yoga Magazine and the Santa Barbara News-Press. Recently, her story “Crossing” made the finalists’ list for the Penelope Niven Prize in Creative Nonfiction, and her poem “First Blood” placed second in the 2017 KSP Poetry Awards judged by John Kinsella.

Twitter and Instagram: @nataliednapo

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Weekly Round-Up: Successes and Transformations

Every week our editors publish around 10 blog posts—but it can be hard to keep up amidst the busyness of everyday life. To make sure you never miss another post, we’ve created a new weekly round-up series. Each Saturday, find the previous week’s posts all in one place.

wr_iconDiverse Cultures

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, read Quotes on Writing: 19 Classic and Contemporary Lessons from Black American Writers.

If you’re writing about characters with backgrounds that differ from your own, you may be considering hiring a sensitivity reader. Check out The Problem with Sensitivity Readers Isn’t What You Think It Is to consider the issue.

Magical Transformations

Transform your idea into a story with magic. Watch Tim Knox’s video on how to come up with great story ideas and read his accompanying explanation at Tim Knox: The Magic Formula for Great Story Ideas.

Many an author has built a series around a fictionalized version of their hometown or favorite place. To find out how—and why—to make that transformation, check out Beloved Settings: Considerations for Fictionalizing a Favorite Place.

For a classic from Script Magazine, read about the transformation from novel to film in Writer and Director Douglas McGrath on Adaptation of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby.

Successes and Rejections

For an example of a successful query letter—and an analysis of why it worked—check out Successful Query Letter Examples: Anna Quinn & The Night Child.

And for an interesting take on resolutions, read One Year, One Hundred Rejections: Brett Elizabeth Jenkins for a reflection from a poet who decided to get 100 rejections in one year.

Poetic Asides

Congratulations to the winner of the WD Poetic Form Challenge for the roundelay! Find out if you made the top five.

For this week’s Wednesday Poetry Prompt, write a poem with the title “Little (blank),” replacing the blank with a word or phrase of your choice.

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Beloved Settings: Considerations for Fictionalizing a Favorite Place

Port Aransas, Tex. | Image from Getty by Leanna Morgan / EyeEm

by Laura Oles
For the last twenty years, Port Aransas, Tex., has served as my weekend retreat. When life gets hectic, my family leaves the hill country for the Gulf coast. I know where to find the best coffee, the freshest shrimp and chicken tortilla soup so flavorful that it has its own fan club.

Over the years, I began to imagine an alternate universe to Port Aransas. Stories surfaced in my mind like dolphins dancing between the ferry boats in the nearby ship channel. I took my beloved family-friendly beach retreat and created Port Alene, a fictional sister town with a darker side. As I watched my kids fishing in the ocean, my mind built a new world filled with characters making deals, sharing secrets and selling something extra at the local bait shop.

I realized that my coastal hideaway was the perfect setting for my new Jamie Rush mystery series. Jamie is a skip tracer—someone who tracks the missing and those who wish not to be found. DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN found its story anchored in Port Alene’s dual personality, one that combined a tourist destination with a grittier underworld. While I didn’t have a master plan, I did establish a few guidelines.


When creating Port Alene, I decided it would not be an exact replica of the locale I loved. It was important that Port Aransas not be merely plucked out of real life and dropped into my mystery with little more than a name change. Instead, I took key areas–the main road running through town, a neighborhood I know well, and the beach area by mile marker 77–and played with them until they fit into the story. I drew my own maps of Port Alene, fashioning roads and landmarks, bars and restaurants, bait shops and trinket traps. My protagonist needed these locations because they would prove important in her life. She just didn’t know it yet.

Online Course: Fearless Writing with Bill Kenower


The sensation of beach life is something that lingers long after your toes leave the sand. I wanted to capture the town’s essence. The humidity follows you like a jealous boyfriend, even moments after you’ve walked into an air-conditioned room. There’s no such thing as a good hair day, and you couldn’t care less. And most everyone wears flip-flops and shorts, even in the winter. Port Alene is as important a character as any other in my book.


The term “island time” is meant to remind guests to relax, to not be in a hurry unless there’s a fire or happy hour at Trout Street is about to end. The only people in a rush are the fishermen up long before sunrise to claim the best bait. It takes twice as long to drink a cup of coffee than it does on the mainland; locals get work done without racing the clock. The challenge was to honor the concept of island time while keeping the story moving at a quick pace. The action needed to escalate while the town took its own sweet time.


Several of Jamie’s preferred places are inspired by my own, including the best Tex-Mex restaurant south of San Antonio. Hemingway’s Pier, Jamie’s favorite haunt and also her home—her apartment is located in the bar’s loft—is my way of giving the characters their own version of Cheers, but with lousy lighting and a beloved bulldog named Deuce. He loves the jalapeno poppers.

While Port Alene remains as I left her, Port Aransas, her inspiration, has not been so fortunate. On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey tore through the heart of the town, the eye hitting with such force that little remains. Harvey scattered boats like leaves—in front a beloved coffee shop, in a nearby neighborhood, beached on a random patch of grass. Homes and businesses remain damaged or destroyed, and the community has been left to rebuild without the benefit of media attention. Those who claim Port Aransas as a second home know it will return stronger than ever, with the help and support of locals and volunteers from near and far. But it will take time.

For now, I’m keeping the coastal refuge I love alive through Jamie Rush and her dangerous calling. It’s my way of celebrating Port Aransas until it can once again welcome its residents and guests with open arms and open businesses.

Laura Oles is a photo industry journalist who spent twenty years covering tech and trends before turning to crime fiction. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including MURDER ON WHEELS, which won the Silver Falchion Award in 2016. Laura’s debut mystery, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN, was named a Killer Nashville Claymore Award Finalist. DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN introduces Jamie Rush, a skip tracer working in a Texas coastal town. Laura is also a Writers’ League of Texas Award Finalist. She is a member of Austin Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas.  She lives on the edge of the Texas Hill Country with her husband, daughter and twin sons. You can find her at

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IELTS test in Canada – January 2018 (General Training)

Our friend A took the IELTS test in Canada and remembered the following topics and questions:

Listening testIELTS test in Canada

Section 1. An employment application form.

Section 2. About arrangements for an event.

Section 3. A conversation between two people about an audio lecture.

Section 4. Don’t remember.

Reading test

Passage 1. About cleanliness of public transport including trains.

Passage 2. About several shops selling different items and each paragraph had a particular shop description.

Passage 3. Don’t remember.

Passage 4. About the Great Fire of London that happened in September 1666.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a letter)

Write a letter to your colleague from another department asking him/her to give a presentation at a conference. In your letter say

– What is the conference about?
– Why do you want him/her to give the presentation?
– What arrangements will you have to make?

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Some people want academic subjects such as history and physics to be taught at secondary school. Others want practical skills such as mechanical and gardening to be taught. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

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