Margaret, Sophie et moi.
Do we look rather pleased with ourselves? I think so. We were at Thursday evening's launch of The Exeter Novel Prize and very successful it was too. Lots of people came, turning out in nasty weather more like October's than June. Thank you!
It's quite a while since I posted my first competition entry. I sent my story to the Woman and Home competition in 2005. My mother had given me the magazine. 'You do a bit of writing,' she said. The theme of the competition was Presents. I read the magazine and thought about all the presents I'd ever been given. The lamp in this photo is probably the oddest. It also inspired the story and I shall never part with it.
'I saw it and thought of you,' she said.
The story reached the finals and my name and a little postage stamp picture was published in the magazine. I was so happy I cried. Since then, I've had a lot of success. Competitions abound for the short story writer.
But for the novelist, opportunities are few. Most novel competitions have restrictions of one sort or another. A particular genre perhaps, unpublished writers only, age and/or sex of the entrant are some.
Margaret, Sophie and I want The Exeter Novel Prize to be an opportunity for as many novelists as possible, whether it be a first step on the ladder or a step back on the ladder having fallen off in the past. The thrill of being placed, that recognition of worth after those hours spent tapping away is better than any shot in the arm.
The very best of luck to all who enter.