June 2018

I hope you don’t mind if I share some really good news with you, fellow writers.
I’ve been shortlisted for an international novel-writing competition.

image001I had recently decided that I would dedicate the rest of this year in researching and then self-publishing my historical novel, having done the rounds of agents over the past few years. Then, when I had forgotten ever entering, I’m informed I’m in the last five of the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize – in the section for the best unpublished manuscript by a debut author.
I was asked not to divulge the news until the official announcement was made on May 30th so I had a few days when I was walking around with a big grin, longing to tell all my writing friends.

Part of the prize for getting this far is feedback and support over the next three months from a literary agent. And towards the end of September, I’m invited to a prize-giving evening in London where the winner will be announced and will receive a travel grant for researching their next novel. The organization running the competition – the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation – hope that the finalists will all find agent representation.wow-2370205_960_720

            Oh, I’ve resisted exclamation marks long enough!

So that’s my summer sorted: developing my novel and finishing the sequel.

If you’d like to read more about the competition and the five finalists, here’s the link.

 I started this first novel a while ago but when I had written around 6000 words, I stopped. I decided I needed help as this was THE novel I wanted to write. So I applied for and gained a place on Brunel University’s Creative Writing MA: The Novel and for two years, I lived, breathed and slept writing. I made some good writing friends and, since finishing our MAs, we have shared the highs and lows of completing our novels, critiquing each other’s work, searching for agents and entering competitions.

            I believe we’ve all found it hard keeping motivated at times. One rejection can put you back weeks if not months. Silence from literary agents is even harder. Then there’s the question of whether to pay for more help: critiquing services abound, so too competitions which offer feedback for an additional fee. Workshops, conferences, writing groups and writing buddies: all can offer opinions and advice.

            The trouble is, everyone makes different suggestions: one agent loved all my characters, another thought they sounded too similar; some readers liked the changes in Point of View, others didn’t. One agent liked my writing and asked me to write a YA novel – I had to explain I’m a bit beyond that age group. All too often, the responses were merely negative and of no practical use:  not for us; I don’t feel passionately enough; not our thing; not right for us.

        At times like these, writing friends really help, especially if you know they are giving you their genuine opinions and not just Aunt Pattie’s “It’s wonderful, dear.” Of course, in the end, it’s always up to YOU to judge each person’s opinion, advice, feedback, and critique.celebrate-311709_960_720

            I only have one rule in writing – whenever you get good news, CELEBRATE. A good critique, applause at a writing group, a magazine acceptance, long and short-listed in competitions, even a nice rejection letter. They are all markers on your writing path. Don’t gloss over them – CELEBRATE them.

Also this month: writing prompts, competitions and a tip you’ve heard before, but it always bears repeating.

Happy Writing.


6 Comments on “Celebrating

  1. Thank you, Mary. It is all about hard work – no-one ever said writing was the easy option! The other four finalists’ books all sound fascinating, the writers all coming from different backgrounds and experiences. Just had a lovely email from the literary consultant who is going to give us all advice in the next few months. Busy times!


  2. So very pleased for you Linda. I know how hard you work and how much you put into your writing so I definately think you deserve the win.

    Having read your first book I am looking forward to reading the next one.


  3. Thank you, Carey. You are so right in saying there’s still a long way to go. I’m really looking forward to working with a literary agent. And whether I come out top of the five or not, it’s a great feeling. And I’m still smiling!


  4. So glad we are still in touch, Norris! I visited India once and was so pleased to meet World Service sports fans in Mumbai. I look back with many fond memories of my career in sports journalism. Thank you.


  5. Linda
    You’ve mentioned persistence enough to all of us but you epitomise this with the vicissitudes of getting your novel in to print. Admire this but also your belief in this fascinating story. It’s not over yet and there’s some way to go before we can all see it in front of us – but a heck of a start and a real motivator to keep writing. The only woman on the list!
    Congratulations. Could feel that smile of yours in Pinner!


  6. 👍 from an ardent fan in india! I still long for those lovely bbc sport radio reports at 11:15 pm
    India time. Nothing could be better for a young runner then – tucked in a quilt with that small now old fashioned transistor radio besides! You were my only source of international sport! God bless


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