The Blue Pencil Agency Novel Award

The deadline for this competition has now closed.

Brand New Novel Competition run by The Blue Pencil Agency

Deadline: 30 June 2017

Entry fee: £15

Prizes for 2017 are 1st prize – £1000 and an introduction to literary agent Eve White

Runner-up: Four nights at Retreats for You and an editorial report

Unrepresented and unpublished writers, enter your first chapter or up to 5000 words along with a 300 word synopsis and a covering letter.

  • Entries must be double spaced in a clear font (Times New Roman or similar) and pages numbered.
  • The novel’s title must be on every page, but your name should not appear anywhere on the story.
  • The covering letter should include the following details: your name, the title of your novel, your email address and telephone number, a brief CV or publication history and the genre of your novel if applicable.
  • The work must be completed or close to completion by the competition deadline of 30 June.

For more details visit The Blue Pencil Agency.



What It’s Like to Attend a Writing Masterclass

Paul McVeigh’s fantastic blog for writers has wrenched me out of the downest of days, so when Word Factory announced he was giving a Masterclass at Waterstones Piccadilly, I signed up.

About 30 people listened as The Good Son author talked about the challenges of getting your book on the shelves and helping it into the hands of readers. His honesty was refreshing, and at times hilarious too.

‘“What’s your book about?” It’s the cringiest question in the world.’ Paul proceeded to do a pretty good impression of most writers when they’re asked that question. Bumbling, boring on about themes, eyes scraping the ceiling in search of the right words, five minutes of waffle then the ensuing painful silence. Clearly, we all related to this because the room was loud with laughter.

Best to have your tagline ready for when people ask then. In fact, keep it in mind while you’re writing the book.

Write down what your character’s goal is and what’s preventing her from achieving her goal then put this in the header and footer of your manuscript to encourage you not to stray.

‘Every sentence should further the plot or enhance character. If it doesn’t do this, it shouldn’t be in there,’ said Paul. And when the character reaches her goal, ‘it should be a complex victory. There should always be a price to pay.’

Paul spent the second half of the three-hour session talking about how to publicise your book before it hits the shelves. Get involved, he said. Help out at writing events. Cultivate relationships with writers and other organisations too. Think about what angles your book has and write blog posts accordingly, so that you have a stock of good quality stuff ready to go for when the time comes.

I am easily distracted, but not once did I stop listening to Polari-Prize-winning Paul who is dynamic and witty. And during the breaks I enjoyed talking to some of the other writers. It was particularly special to meet my Twitter friend, Word Factory apprentice writer Emily Devane for the first time.

The class was well worth the money. I came away with lots to think about, including this: ‘All writers have an arrogance. You must have because you think you’ve got something important to say.’ Blimey – that’s an idea to hold on to, especially if another rejection email happens to plop into your inbox today…..

The Bristol Short Story Prize


The 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize. Deadline: 3rd May.

Fee: £8

Prizes for 2017 are: 1st prize-£1000, 2nd prize -£700, 3rd prize -£400. Each of the 17 remaining shortlisted writers will receive £100. Winning and shortlisted stories will be included in the 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology.

Enter your stories of up to 4,000 words on any subject and in any theme. There is no minimum length and both published and non published writers are eligible to enter. Entries must not have been previously published.

  • Entries are accepted in a Word document, pdf or equivalent. There are no specific formatting requirements – font type, font size, line spacing. Writers may format their work in the way they feel is most appropriate. Postal entries will only be accepted as printed typescripts. Please send postal entry/entries to : Bristol Short Story Prize, Unit 5.16, Paintworks, Bath Road Bristol BS4 3EH. Click here

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