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 …
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 http://www.jaynegordonphotography.co.uk