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The Second Exeter Novel Prize …

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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 ofhttp://www.jaynegordonphotography.co.uk

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Writing in the Sand about Favourite Christmas Novels 4 …

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This week I’ve been re-reading Milly Johnson’s 2012 Christmas themed novel, A Winter Flame.

photoAWinterFlameBlog

Published by Simon & Schuster, it’s the story of Eve Douglas, who’s never been fond of Christmas, but who has hated it, since her fiancé was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day.

Imagine Eve’s surprise and dismay, when her beloved aunt leaves her half of Winterworld, a Christmas theme park she was in the process of creating, in her will. Her dismay deepens, when she  meets the man who’s inherited the other half, the mysterious, annoying, too charming, Jacques Glace.

Although she hates Christmas, Eve has never been one to back away from a challenge. The last thing she wants, however, is to have to work alongside this stranger she believes has wormed his way into her aunt’s will. Her suspicions grow about who he really is and she determines to show him up for the con-man he must be. Then she can take over and finish the plans for the park on her own and run it the way she thinks it should be run – more winter than Christmas.

But Eve didn’t bank on falling ill with a debilitating attack of shingles. While she is incapacitated, Jacques gets on with organising a much more Christmassy park than Eve wants and some hilarious arguments take place. Even more determined to get rid of him, she finds herself with the unexpected opportunity to have a snoop around his home, where she believes she might have finally found evidence of his criminal ways …

There’s a supporting cast of wonderfully vibrant characters – Loved-up Violet and Pav  featured in the earlier novel, White Wedding. Phoebe May Tinker is Eve’s delightfully entertaining little niece. Effin Williams is the rough and ready foreman with a heart of gold, who swears his head off in Welsh at the band of Welsh and Polish workmen.

And then there’s the flame itself – a candle which her fiancé had bought her before leaving for Afghanistan, telling her that as long as it burned, she was his and he was hers. Eve has kept the flame of that candle and its replacements burning continuously for five years.

But five years is a long time. Is it now time for Eve’s frozen heart to melt? And could Jacques be the man to melt it ?

I’m posting this a few days early, this week, as I might not be anywhere near a computer on Sunday. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed re-reading some of my favourite Christmas novels, in the run up to the big day. Now let’s see what books Santa brings …

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and Happy New Year!

70: Three signed and dedicated Christmas Novels by Scarlett Bailey

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With Christmas coming up, what could be nicer than curling up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and one of these three delightful Scarlett Bailey Christmas novels?
To raise money for those stricken by the typhoon, “Authors for the Philippines” are auctioning these and over 330 other lots of books and other writing related items and events until Wednesday 20th November at 8pm GMT.
Please visit their website and have a browse – you could do some Christmas shopping and support a very worthy cause …

Authors for the Philippines

ITEM: Three signed and dedicated Christmas Novels by Scarlett Bailey

Just For ChristmasMarried by ChristmasNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS v3_4

BIO: Scarlett Bailey is the Christmas and fun loving alter ego of author Rowan Coleman and brings you warm romantic comedies with a festive flair. ‘Curl up by the fire and read this romantic tale of lost loves and new beginnings (complete with the world’s scruffiest dog)…you’ll read the last page with a smile on your face.’ Is what handbag.com say about ‘Just For Christmas’

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