The Exeter Novel Prize – A Year On …

Exeter Novel Awards 2015 collecting prize from the mayor!Well, I’m going to have to get the hang of this blogging lark again – I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last posted something on this page!

But I have been spending my time with my fingertips at the keyboard while multiple casts of characters have continued to run riot inside my head, each wanting their own story to be told.

At the end of the summer I finished writing Kind Hearts & Coriander, the first in a series of romantic comedies inspired by the writing of Trisha Ashley, and did two things with it – I sent it off to an agent who’d already expressed an interest in it, and I entered it into the second Exeter Novel Prize. In both cases I kept my fingers crossed for some nice feedback, but I must admit that I was so shocked when the agent got in touch, offering to represent me, that I forgot all about the ENP! Until the short-list came out at the beginning of February!

So 28th March saw me on a train to Exeter to meet up with my five fellow short-listees -Helena Fairfax, Derryl Flynn, Claire Harvey, Beverly Stark and Bert Tyler-Moore. Helena was the only name I knew, as we are both members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, as are the organisers – Cathie Hartigan, Margaret James, and Sophie Duffy (who unfortunately was poorly and couldn’t be there).

It was a fresh but sunny day, as we gathered at St Stephen’s church hall, a lovely old building, steeped in wartime history. Of course, we all knew the name of literary agent Broo Doherty – the head judge. It was very exciting to hear her comments on our novels – between us we’d written 2 wartime historicals, a contemporary military, a YA time-slip, a contemporary romance, and a rom-com. One by one, and in alphabetical order, the Lord Mayor of Exeter handed out our engraved, finalists’ paperweights, until there was only one finalist left on the little stage …

ENP Finalists

The overall winner was Claire Harvey, congratulations Claire! Her world war 2 novel is due to be published later this year, under the title The Gunner Girl. And I’m looking forward to reading it, as I am all of them!

The ceremony was followed by a  delicious buffet of tempting treats – I certainly didn’t leave hungry!

A big thank you to Cathie, Margaret and Sophie, and all at Creative Writing Matters.

Photograph courtesy of


57: Signed and dedicated advance proof copy of Jill Mansell’s new book (wrapped in an original handwritten manuscript page!) x 2

I thought this too important not to blog about this week – “Authors for the Philippines” is auctioning hundreds of lots, donated by writers and people from the writing world, to raise funds for those stricken by the typhoon. From signed copies of books, like this very special item from Jill Mansell, to getting yourself named as a character in somebody’s next novel. There are children’s books, young adult and adult fiction on offer. For writers there are lots offering critique services, editing etc. Bidding ends on Wednesday 8pm GMT, but don’t take my word for any of this. Please visit their blog and take a look – there are over 300 lots to bid on …

Authors for the Philippines

imageITEM: Advance proof copy of Jill Mansell’s new book (wrapped in an original handwritten manuscript page!). Two available.

DETAILS: Paperback uncorrected proof copy of Jill’s next book, The Unpredictable Consequences of Love, which is due for publication on 30th Jan 2014. These will each be signed and dedicated to whoever the winning bidders choose, and will be sent out to them as soon as the auction is over, so they might make a nice Christmas present for someone. Jill will also wrap the books up in pages of the original handwritten manuscript!

SYNOPSIS: The delicious new romantic novel from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller.

When Josh Strachan, newly returned to his home in north Cornwall from sunny California, first meets Sophie Wells, he’s immediately smitten. Sophie’s pretty, she’s funny, she has lots of friends and she clearly loves her job as a photographer, despite the sometimes tricky clients. There’s just one…

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