This is a huge week for me. Not only am I celebrating an amazing dream come true; the first anniversary of the publication of my debut novel ‘The Vineyard’ which was published on the 19th of May last year but it is also a contender for an award!
Yes, it’s called ‘The Joan Hessayon Award’. You may or may not have heard of it but I will explain because, if any new writers are reading this, it will certainly be of value. It is an award given annually to graduates from a scheme run by The Romantic Novelists’ Association called ‘New Writers Scheme’. It’s prize is the generosity of Dr David Hessayon who continues to support his late-wife, Joan’s legacy to reward new writers. Joan Hessayon was a successful Historical Fiction Writer and member of the RNA.. This prestigious scheme is highly respected by publishers and agents and, I feel, was instrumental in helping me get my novel out to readers.
I did this by joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association as an associate member which allowed me on to the scheme because I had never had a novel published. This is open every January. Once accepted, you are entitled to send in your manuscript for a professional critique. That’s right, a professional author will read your manuscript and send you a report suggesting ways in which you can improve your work. For example, my reader picked out that my point of views POV needed to stay consistent within a scene, particularly when starting out. I was also, she pointed out, using my punctuation wrong after sentences in speech. They seem minor things now but, these are all so important in making your work professional and at a standard where the publisher is likely to read on when you send that make or break submission.
Having gone through this process, I sent my first three chapters and a synopsis to CarinaUK, a digital-first imprint of Harlequin/HarperCollins and eight weeks later received a two-book contract. Yes I was shocked, my first novel published by the first publisher who received it! Lovely shock of course, but this preparation was so important for me and one I would thoroughly recommend. And, graduating has given me the chance to enter this award. Each published novel that goes through the scheme is then entered for the Joan Hessayon Award. The final product is then judged on a point system by the RNA who will then reveal, at the annual Summer Party, the winner.
Of course, I would love to win but I know that I am among very talented writers who also deserve to win and Good luck to all my fellow contenders! The point is, we have all achieved publication and are following our dreams. What more could we ask!
For full details about the scheme, read here The RNA NWS
My second novel is also published ‘The Chateau’ and my third, ‘The Riviera’ is being released 10th July. This will be available for pre-order soon. I am currently writing my fourth novel with CarinaUK.