On Reading the Book That Beat Me for the 2016 Text Prize


In 2016, I entered the then unpublished manuscript of my young adult novel Black Spot in the Text Prize competition for young adult and children’s writing. I wasn’t holding my breath about winning because I’m not the holding-my-breath kind of person. And when I received a blanket email from the Text Prize people thanking everybody for their entries and saying that the shortlisted authors would be contacted individually, I assumed I wasn’t one of them because I hadn’t heard anything.

A couple of days later, my phone rang. I didn’t recognise the number. I thought it might be about a job I’d applied for. Instead it was a woman named Ally, who told me she worked at Text Publishing. She was calling to let me know that Black Spot had been shortlisted for the Text Prize. And to invite me to the announcement of the winner in just under two weeks’ time.

If it sounds like I was very calm during that phone call, I wasn’t. I was stunned. I was overwhelmed. But I was happy. This was an achievement. This was amazing. This was bliss. Continue reading


More Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take It To Heart When You Don’t Win Writing Competitions


I previously wrote about not winning writing competitions after submitting my unpublished novel, Black Spot, to the Hardie Grant Egmont Ampersand Project in 2015, being contacted by one of the judges who seemed interested but ultimately failing to go any further than that. The three reasons I gave not to be too dejected were:

*There are a lot of people submitting to writing competitions, so it’s not small fish in a big pond, it’s a lot of fish in a small pond.
*A lot of competitions have very specific requirements, your writing might not quite fit the criteria and trying to force a square peg into a round hole is a futile exercise.
*There are so many differences of opinion on pieces of writing that getting all the judges of one writing competition to agree is a bit like getting cats to walk in formation. Or it might simply be that it isn’t your year (just ask Kimberley Starr who entered the Text Prize in 2013 with no joy and won it in 2015 with a reworked version of the same piece).

Here are a few more things that might make you feel a little better. Continue reading

Project October Writing Journal – Part 13


Day 28

Today something unusual happened. I had no family commitments or job interviews, a day to myself, and I was planning to do housework and writing. I’d just started the dishwasher when my phone began ringing. I thought – hoped – that it might be about one of the jobs I’d interviewed for. But I didn’t recognise the number. Then I thought it might be about another job I’d applied for; I’ve applied for a lot. So I answered.

It wasn’t about any of those things. Even though this Project October has felt more about my efforts at jobseeking than about my efforts at writing, it wasn’t anything to do with potential jobs. It was a woman named Ally, who told me she worked at Text Publishing. She was calling to let me know that Black Spot, which I’d entered in the 2016 Text Prize – a competition for unpublished young adult manuscripts – had been shortlisted. And to invite me to the announcement of the winner in just under two weeks’ time. Continue reading

Project December


This is the titular chapter from Project December: A Book about Writing, the one that hopefully makes it clear why I called my book Project December.


So if Project October is all about the first draft and Project November is all about editing, rewriting and polishing your manuscript, then Project December is about what to do when you finally have a completed book.

I’m certainly not an expert on the publishing process – I’d probably be a lot more successful, wealthy and famous if I were – but I’ve learned a few things along the way through publishing my own books. This is what I know. Continue reading

2016 Text Prize Shortlist Announcement


Um, okay, so this happened to me today:

Text Prize 2016 Shortlist

Yeah, that’s my picture in the top left corner…

Because, um, yeah, my unpublished book, Black Spot, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Text Prize, run by Text Publishing in Melbourne, Australia. It’s a competition for unpublished manuscripts written for children and young adults.

This is kind of embarrassing to admit for a writer… but I have no words!

Except… yay! And *happy dancing* that no words can describe!

Mills & Boon Short Story Competition Entry: A Novel Seduction


As a follow-up to my Wednesday blog post about writing competitions, here is a short story (or more accurately, a short scene) I wrote back in 2000 for a Mills & Boon competition.

It’s not exactly embarrassing but I think there is an obvious subtext that I wasn’t ready to be published yet (i.e. a young author asks a mentor for help, albeit in a Mills & Boon context).

Try not to laugh too much. Continue reading

Why It’s Unlikely You Will (and Why You Shouldn’t Take It to Heart When You Don’t) Win Writing Competitions


In my entire life, I’ve entered four writing competitions. They were:
*The 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript
*The 2015 Griffith Review’s Novella Project III Competition
*The 2015 Hardie Grant Egmont Ampersand Project
*A 2000 Mills & Boon short story competition

It should be obvious to anyone reading this that I didn’t win any of them or you would have heard about it by now. You would have heard a lot about it!

After I submitted to the Hardie Grant Egmont Ampersand Project, I wrote a blog idea on my ideas board about competitions. Specifically that writers entering competitions shouldn’t get dejected when they don’t win. And here’s a few reasons why that hopefully make all of us “losers” feel a little bit better. Continue reading