Tuesday, 26 August 2014

What a difference a win makes

I was browsing through some old copies of Writing Magazine recently (part of my ongoing clutter-clear burst!) and came across an article entitled, What a difference a win makes, dated 2004.

The magazine had followed up previous winners of some of their writing competitions to find out what had happened since their win. There were eight winners mentioned, and I was one of them, having won the Summer Ghost Short Story Competition in 2002.

The general consensus amongst the eight, was how much of a boost to a writer's self confidence it was to win a competition and how it inspired them to keep writing. So, with it being 10 years since the article, I began to wonder what the rest of the winners had been up to since the piece was published and set about googling the names...

Faye Robertson was one of the eight I contacted. She'd won an Adult Fairy Story competition which, she said in the article, had given her a marvellous boost to her career. Since her win she'd gone on to have three further competition successes and had short stories accepted in Woman's Weekly and People's Friend. Well, Faye certainly hasn't rested on her laurels! When I got in touch, she told me she'd had over 25 books published, some with digital first publishers, some indie published.

"I mainly write romance under the name Serenity Woods," she said. "I also write epic fantasy as Freya Robertson (via Angry Robot Books) and I won the NZ Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel earlier this year."

You can read more about Faye, who lives in New Zealand, on her Serenity Woods website, along with information about her books and her alter-ego, Freya Robertson, who she mentions above.

Another winner who's been writing furiously since, is Jo Franklin who'd had two winning stories published in Writing Magazine - Science Fiction and Crime. Jo has also been busy; writing short stories and articles, as well as novels, one of which, Cytherea's Island, is due out shortly. You can find the details of that and more, on her website.

As I was drafting this post, I learned of the death of David St John Thomas, the founder of Writers' News, from which Writing Magazine evolved. It was his vision to create a source of guidance, inspiration and support for those of us who wanted to travel the writing journey but didn't know where to start. Thousands of writers have benefited from both publications, learning about the craft of writing and connecting with others with similar aspirations.

Jo said that DSJT, as he was often referred, had been a source of inspiration to her ever since she won those two competitions.  She told me, "Over the years I have kept in touch with him, sending him some of my stories published in various women’s magazines and getting nice replies."

Faye summarised things nicely by saying, "I love Writing Magazine and definitely believe my successes there (I also won the Open Poetry Competition) gave me the courage & confidence to continue to submit."

I'll second that! Thank you, David. And thank you to all those who continue his legacy by producing a great magazine for the aspiring writer.


  1. I agree! Any kind of positive feedback certainly boosts my confidence and instantly cancels out all those rejections. I won this year's Worcestershire Lit Fest Flash Fiction competition and I was dancing about for a week! OK, my story was only 54 words, and I doubt if many people will ever read it, but knowing that someone else - a competition judge, no less - thought it worthy of a prize reinforces my determination to keep writing.
    Sorry to hear about David St John Thomas. I too, owe a lot to The Writers' News.

    1. Congratulations on your win, Linda! I know exactly what you mean about dancing around with delight! It's a great feeling isn't it? Good luck with the writing.