Of Shortlists and First Drafts

IMG_20150419_215553So today is a fairly big day for us, which is why we’re breaking A-Z ranks and posting on a Sunday, out of alphabet mode. Today we finished the first proper draft of one of our novels that we’ve ever got to the end of.

The reason we’re even working on this really is the ‘Pen to Print’ competition, that Michelle found for us, and to say that we were happy to be long listed, let alone short listed and given a wonderful, professional writer as a mentor is a total understatement, but we were.

To say to try and produce a full novel on what equates as a five month deadline is stressful, is to understate the case. I (Loz) personally am experiencing anxiety, sleepless nights and guilt whenever I’m not working on the book and pretty much working eighteen hour days to fit it all in, as well as the blog challenge, but I feel that it’s really worth it to pursue our dream of the last ten years – to write and actually finish, have published a book together. And before you ask no, no details, hopefully at some point, you can buy it and have a read, then let us know what you think.

‘Pen to Print’

The Pen to Print project is an Arts Council funded writing project set in and run by Barking and Dagenham. It’s aim is to:

“identify local writing talent and provide opportunities to produce quality writing for publication. It does this through a series of workshops and masterclasses supported by established creative writing experts and authors.”

The programme is funded for one year (although they have just applied for a second year owing to the success of the ‘book challenge’) and has three main elements:

  • A book challenge
  • A poetry and short story competition
  • A competition for young writers

In addition to the main competition elements, there will be a series of on-going author events and workshops during the Pen to Print scheme.

‘The Book Challenge’

For this competition, aspiring writers were asked to submit a synopsis and first chapter of a book by 30th January.

We submitted one of our books and you can imagine our excitement when we received an email at the beginning of March informing us that we had been longlisted (12 books out of 60 entries) and asked to write a blurb for the shortlist announcement event.

On the 5th of March, I (Michelle, as Loz sadly couldn’t get down from Nottingham) attended the event, where the shortlist was announced by crime writer Martina Cole. Now, meeting Martina Cole was an experience in itself but to also be told that our book had made the shortlist of 8… There were no words.

Gifted with certificates and copies of ‘Writers & Artists Yearbook 2015’, we then had to wait for the next stage of the Book Challenge. The mentoring stage. All shortlisted authors receive regular one-on-one mentoring with a professional writer from April to August. The aim? To have a finished manuscript ready to submit on the 24th August for the final.


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