Tag Archives: Novel Writing

UoG Novel Contest Deadline Looming!

29 May

bookThe academic year here at UoG for 2016-17 is almost over, and students on Team UoG have been working hard.  You’ve met all your assessment deadlines, produced over 10,000 words of work (or twice that if you’re a third year, and had a dissertation to submit), and were no doubt looking forward to your summer break and a well-earned respite.  Except there’s one more thing.  The UoG Novel Writing Contest is still open for submissions – but only for another 48 hours!  That’s right, folks.  We’ve already got some stellar entries in our judge’s inbox, but we’d love to see more.  So it’s time to polish off that opus (or at least a 3,000-word extract) and send that to us along with a short synopsis.  Full details are available on the contest guidelines page.  The deadline is midnight on May 31st: good luck, and we look forward to reading your work!


2017 UoG Novel Writing Contest Officially Open to Submissions

3 Feb

Row of Old Books

That’s right, folks: Team UoG is back after the long winter’s break, and there are going to be a myriad of writing opportunities coming your way as we move into Semester 2.  These include reading and showcasing events, submissions calls and chances to get published (including in the next UoG New Writing Anthology) and, firstly, the 2017 UoG Novel Writing Contest, which is back, and again run in conjunction with agent Becky Thomas from the London-based literary agency, Johnson & Alcock.  The contest is now officially open to submissions, but don’t rush: you have four months to polish that opus into shape, as the deadline isn’t until May 31st, well after your final assessments are due.  So those taking HM5105, our novel writing class, will perhaps want to take the time to develop your extract in workshops before sending it to our judges.  Others might want to revisit that project in the bottom drawer.  Either way, we look forward to seeing what you come up with, and just so you’re clear on the guidelines up front, take a look at our official contest page, or check out the past winners for inspiration.

Anthology Launch & 2016 UoG Novel Writing Contest Winners Announced!

16 Dec

On Tuesday the course celebrated the launch of this year’s paperback anthology of student work, Reflections: New Writing 5.  Attendees were treated to readings from contributors on campus, which was followed by an after-party at Tailor’s bar in town.  Excitingly, at the event the winners for this year’s UoG Novel Writing Contest were also announced.  3rd prize went to Mark Webber for his Mafioso crime novel, Mamma; 2nd prize went to Pamela Keevil for her drama-mystery, Mayflies; and the overall winner was Senja Andrejevic for her thriller, All The Things We Knew.  Each winner received a cash prize and professional critique from literary agent Becky Thomas, of Johnson and Alcock.  Thanks to all who came out to support such a great night, as well as all those who submitted work to the anthology and the novel writing contest.  Have a good break, and we’ll see you in the New Year!

2016 UoG Novel Writing Contest Shortlist Announced!

21 Nov


That’s right, folks.  The long wait is over: our in-house judges have read through this year’s manuscript submissions to the UoG Novel Writing Contest and have whittled it down to a shortlist of six.  Submissions were anonymous, and these six will be sent on to our external judge, literary agent Becky Thomas, of the Johnson & Alcock Literary Agency in London.  This year’s shortlist includes a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students.  We’ll have our fingers crossed for everybody, and hope to announce the finalists and overall winner at this year’s anthology launch (more on this shortly!).

For now, in alphabetical order by author (followed by year of study at time of submission)  here is the The 2016 UoG Novel Writing Contest Shortlist:

  • All The Things We Knew by Senja Andrejevic (MA)
  • The Enlightenment Effect by Loz Apperly (2nd year)
  • Half-Life by Heather Cripps (3rd year)
  • Winter and Spain by Sam James (2nd year)
  • Mayflies by Pamela Keevil (MA)
  • Mama by Mark Webber (MA)


How to land a book deal worth millions

21 Sep

chloe-j-espositoYou know how we’re always saying that nobody gets rich through writing fiction? Well, once in a while someone does. This year, that someone is publishing sensation Chloé J. Esposito. If this is the first time you’ve heard of her, rest assured it won’t be the last. Chloé has just sold the rights to her erotic thriller trilogy, Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know, in a deal that’s already worth over £2million. In addition to that, Universal have bought the film rights and there’s already speculation that Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone might play the protagonist. All this and the first book won’t even be released until next summer.

So how do you land a multi-million-pound book deal? Damned if I know. But Chloé does, and she’s coming to the University to share her whirlwind experience with University of Gloucestershire students. This is an extraordinary opportunity to hear first-hand one of the most sensational stories the publishing world has known in recent years, and it’s a rare chance to meet a global superstar writer before she’s insanely famous. Chloé will be talking at Francis Close Hall Campus, in TC001, at 6:30pm on Tuesday 4th October. The event is free and everyone is welcome.

You can read more about our guest here, and find the Facebook event here. Don’t forget to book the date!

UoG 2016 Novel Writing Contest Deadline Extended!

1 Jul

Have you been soaking up the summer sun, and are having a hard time getting motivated to submit your opus?  Have you been watching the European Cup (dare we mention the Iceland game) and generally slacking off a bit?  Don’t worry: the UoG Novel Contest Judges have taken that into account, and we’ve decided to extend the deadline to the end of July: at midnight on the 31st.  So you have a few more weeks to get scribbling, and submit an extract (3,000 words) and punchy synopsis.  Our in-house judges will select the shortlisted entries, which are then sent on to literary agent Becky Thomas (of Johnson & Alcock), who decides the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.  For full submission details check out our contest page.  Good luck and see you in the slush pile!


2016 UoG Novel Writing Contest Officially Opens to Submissions!

1 May

static1.squarespace.com       University-of-Gloucestershire

With all this poetry fun going on, what with the forthcoming Cheltenham Poetry Festival and various other events, we figured our prose writers might be feeling a bit left out.  Well, fear not: it’s that time of year again.  Our annual UoG Novel Writing Contest is now open to submissions.  Run in association with Becky Thomas of the Johnson & Alcock Literary Agency, the contest has become a highlight of the UoG calendar and represents an ideal opportunity to make an industry contact and kickstart your writing career.  Any student studying with us (BA, MA, or PhD) is welcome to submit, and the shortlist of six will be selected by our in-house judges.  These are then forwarded to Becky, who picks her three finalists, each of which receives a cash prize and Becky’s professional critique.  So what are you waiting for?  Check out our guidelines page and main contest page.  And don’t worry: you have two full months to get your chapter (3,000 words) and synopsis (1,000 words) into shape, as the contest is open to submissions until July 1st.

Catching Up on Recent Student and Staff Achievements at UoG

17 Feb

As ever here at UoG, it’s been hard to keep track of our recent student and staff successes, so hopefully a quick blog post will remedy that.  First up, 2015 BA graduate Phil Bowne continues to establish himself as a young writer worth watching.  Phil appeared numerous times in our New Writing anthologies, received the prize for best undergraduate dissertation, and also won our Novel Writing Contest (judged by agent Becky Thomas) with his novel, Eva.  Last week, Phil was down in London to read at Waterstones Covent Garden as part of the Novel London event.  Phil put in a great showing, and even bothered to shave (which he never did for our lectures).  Here he is, delivering the goods:

Phil Reading

Spectral Realms 4Current students are having success as well; our multi-talented MA student, Olly Smith, writes mind-bending speculative fiction (including a piece in Compass: New Writing IV) and has had both short stories and poetry published in a wide range of journals and anthologies.  Most recently, he has placed two new poems in the latest edition of Spectral Realms, a journal published by Hippocampus Press.  You can check out the issue, and buy one on their website (if you feel like being spooked!).


In addition to these student successes, Senior Lecturer Tyler Keevil had some good news recently: his short story ‘The Herd’, which was first published in Dead North, has now been optioned for feature film adaptation by director Jeremy Ball.  Jeremy comes from a visual effects background, and has worked on some major studio pictures, including Jackie Chan’s Forbidden Kingdom, Zhang Yimou’s Flowers of War, and the Twilight Saga: Eclipse.  Recently his short film Frost debuted at TIFF and turned heads on the festival circuit, picking up kudos and awards.  Tyler and Jeremy are currently working on The Herd treatment; the film will be set in a frozen Arctic wasteland, and draws on the Wendigo legend and the zombie archetype.  It’s a long-term project, but in the meantime you can check out a clip from Jeremy’s short below, courtesy of Youtube…

Lecturer D.D. Johnston talking at Suffolk Anthology Bookstore this Tuesday 17th November

12 Nov

Cheltenham is lucky to have a lovely new independent bookstore – Suffolk Anthology. Situated in the leafy Suffolks/Montpellier area, Suffolk Anthology is a relaxing spot selling great books and great coffee. Charming and elegant, with a Victorian fireplace and a sunny conservatory, it’s also one of the few places in town that sells genuine Moleskine notebooks – an essential item for any bohemian author! But if you’re still looking for a reason to visit, why not head up this Tuesday for UoG lecturer D.D. Johnston’s talk on his new novel, The Secret Baby Room, and everything he’s learned about writing in the last ten years. The talk is at 7:30 on Tuesday 17th November at 17 Suffolk Parade. Tickets cost £3 (which covers a glass of wine or two) and can be reserved from the shop by phoning 01242 361 362 or emailing info@theanthology.co.uk. More information follows below.

dd johnston talk logo

In 2004, when he’d never have done anything as pretentious as call himself by his initials, D.D. Johnston realised it was his destiny to write. The fact he knew nothing about literature and had never demonstrated any facility with written language was unimportant; only in writing could he adequately express how alone he felt in this cruel world. He produced an eighteen-volume magnum opus of bad love poetry, a grand Künstlerroman, which he imagined was the 21st century’s answer to The Sorrows of Young Werther. But it wasn’t. It was crap.

Then, one day, he saw something that changed the direction of his literary oeuvre.  He was living in Manchester, where, because he was unemployed and had no money, he used to wander the city. One day he saw a woman cradling a baby in a boarded up council housing block. Why would anyone take a baby into a boarded up council housing block that was primed for demolition?

So he began to work on the plot of a crime thriller, The Secret Baby Room, which was finally published in 2015. The struggle to complete and publish his novel was painful but life-changing – it lasted slightly longer than the Trojan War. Along the way he published two other novels: Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs was a Sunday Herald book of the year in 2011 and has been translated into Spanish as Paz, amor y cócteles Molotov; The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub was a Morning Star book of the year in 2013 and was longlisted for the Goldsmith’s Prize. Today he is a Dr of literature, a senior lecturer in Creative Writing, and the founder of onlinewritingtips.com. Along the way he’s learned a thousand things about writing, and he’s now ready to share everything he wishes he’d known in 2004, so that nobody need ever again take a decade to finish a book.

Compass Anthology Launch & 2015 UoG Novel Contest Results

12 Nov

2015-10-28 07.58.31It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks here at UoG, with a plethora (big word alert) of exciting events and happenings.  One of the biggest was the launch of the Compass anthology, the latest addition to the New Writing series showcasing the best work by students on our BA, MA, and PhD programmes.  The event on campus included launch promotions and readings by nine brave contributors, and the turnout was tremendous.  Afterwards a large portion of the audience trekked across Cheltenham for further fun, food, and drinks at The Swan pub.  The editorial team – MA students from last year’s HM7106 module – wanted to thank all those who supported the event, and helped make the night such a success.

Phil BowneCoinciding with the launch was the announcement of the results of the 2015 UoG Novel Writing Contest.  The selections were sent to us by literary agent Becky Thomas, now of Johnson & Alcock, who picked the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners.  In what was a very close competition, graduating student Meg Paul received 3rd prize; MA graduate Keely O’Shaughnessy earned 2nd prize, and the 1st prize went to graduating 3rd year Phil Bowne.  Each received a cash prize (£25, £50, and £100 respectively) and feedback from Becky regarding their novel entries.  A big congrats to our three winners, those who made the shortlist, and all the other entrants.

Next year’s anthology will be opening its editorial office soon, and the novel contest is an annual event so keep your eyes firmly fixed to this blog for news about the 2016 submission call in the spring.

One Week To Compass Launch!

20 Oct

A week today, on Tuesday October 27th, the UoG Writing Programme will be launching Compass: New Writing IV, the latest anthology in the New Writing series, featuring the best prose, poetry, and drama by students on our course.  So navigate your way to TC002A at 6.45 p.m. and join us for snacks and beverages.  We will then adjust course and move into the main lecture theatre (TC001) for readings, before announcing the results of the second annual UoG Novel Writing Contest.  For the after-party, our hardy adventurers will make an epic trek to The Swan – a venue on the far side of the little world called Cheltenham, where we’ve booked a private function room.  The night is going to be one for the record books, or log books, so get your gear together and join the expedition!

Compass Launch Poster 3

Novel Writing Contest Shortlist!

13 Oct

This week, the much anticipated shortlist for the 2015 UoG Novel Writing Contest has been revealed.  It was a competitive field and the judges did not approach it lightly: it required much deliberating and soul-searching and debating before they eventually came to a decision.  But that moment has come.  Before pulling back the curtain, we would like to thank all those who entered – the standards were very high.  As with our inaugural competition, we have narrowed the field down to a shortlist of six to be sent on to literary agent Becky Thomas, who is our finals judge and will pick the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner (each of whom will receive a cash prize, and critique).  In alphabetical order by author, the shortlist of six is:

  • Eva by Phil Bowne
  • Year One by Heather Cripps
  • The Masterpiece by Rod Griffiths
  • Paper Boats by Keely O’Shaughnessy
  • Claro by Meg Paul
  • All the Things We Knew by Senja Andrejevic

Congratulations to all who entered, and in particular our shortlisted entrants.  The three winners will be announced at this year’s anthology launch, for Compass: New Writing IV, on Tuesday October 27th at 6.45 p.m. in TC001/TC002A.  So come along to what’s shaping up to be a brilliant event.


Creative Writing Lecturer DD Johnston publishes new novel

2 Jul

Secret Baby Room coverToday saw the launch of The Secret Baby Rooma new novel by UoG lecturer D.D. Johnston. Johnston has recently been described by The Morning Star as one of the country’s most versatile novelists, and certainly this book is far removed from his previous two. The Secret Baby Room is a mystery suspense thriller:

In the taut, suspenseful opening pages, Claire, just moving into her new house, looks up to see “the strangest thing. High up in the abandoned tower block that overshadowed their estate, a woman was bottle-feeding a baby.” The woman disappears, but the mystery haunts and deeply disturbs Claire. The tower is condemned, fenced off and surrounded with yellow-black warning signs, its entrances boarded “and clearly marked: DANGER”. Obsessed with breaking through into this forbidden zone, Claire fears that she is actually going mad, as she sits “staring at the concrete, as though the Secret Baby Room might somehow reappear…She suddenly saw how crazy it all was.

As her own life falls apart, Claire risks everything in her quest. It’s an investigation that leads her not only towards the dark knowledge of past crimes but towards an understanding of the damaged lives of those around her.  Johnston offers us a wonderfully gripping read, but also a compassionate and moving story of people struggling to survive at the margins of a rapidly changing city. (CrimeCulture)

This morning he discussed the novel – which he started ten years ago – with Mike Sweeney on BBC Manchester, and you can listen to the interview here. And you can read the story of his life before lecturing, and how he came to write the book, in this article in Northern Soul.

24 Hours to Tulsa…and the Closure of This Year’s UoG Novel Writing Contest!

30 May

Clock Face 2That’s right, folks.  The end is nigh.  Back on February 1st, when we announced that the 2015 UoG Novel Writing Contest was open for submissions, it seemed as if you had all the time in the world to get your magnum opus into shape.  But the days have flown by, like paper in the wind – as Tom Petty would say – and now not only has Semester 2 come to an end, but THERE IS ONLY ONE DAY LEFT BEFORE THE 2015 UOG NOVEL WRITING CONTEST CLOSES TO SUBMISSIONS!  As ever, there are a few dilligent souls who are right with us, way ahead of the game, leading the pack (please insert any other stock phrase here) and have in fact already handed in their entries.  Doesn’t it make you furious that they haven’t left it till the last minute like you?  Well, get them in your sights and take them down.  One day might seem too short a time to do anything, but just think: you still have over 26 hours to revise, polish, format, and submit.  So get to it.  The guidelines are here.  Sleep is optional.  Caffeine is plentiful.  Are you a writer or are you a marsupial?

UoG Novel Contest Deadline!

20 May

Now that you’ve submitted those assignments, and summer is in sight, unless you’re part of the team organizing the eagerly anticipated UoG fringe you might be tempted to kick back, enjoy a beverage or two, and relax.  But wait!  Did you forget about one of the most exciting opportunities we have here on our Creative Writing programme?  That’s right: the UoG Novel Writing Contest, run in association with Becky Thomas at Fox Mason, will be closing to submissions at the end of this month, at midnight on May 31st.  So you have just under two weeks to get those manuscripts in order.  Those who’ve been taking our Novel Writing class, HM6105, already have an extract (3000 words) they can submit.  Competition is going to be fierce, and we judges are looking forward to the selection process, and sending a shortlist on to Becky to pick the winners.  For those just catching up, you can check out our guidelines page for details of how to submit.  Good luck, and get to it!

Row of Old Books

Announcing the Second Annual UoG Novel Writing Contest!

1 Feb

bookFor those who haven’t submitted, you have less than 24 hours to send your novel excerpt and synopsis to the Myriad First Drafts Novel Competition, which closes tomorrow at noon.  If you don’t have anything ready, fear not: as one window of opportunity closes, another opens here at UoG.  That’s right, folks: the 2015 UoG Novel Writing Contest is now officially open.  You have four months to draft, rewrite, polish, and hone your opus (or a 3,000 word extract thereof, and a synopsis) and get it in to us.  We will be accepting submissions from today, February 1st, until May 31st, 2015.  As with last year, the contest will be judged by literary agent Becky Thomas, of the Fox Mason agency, who will select from our shortlist her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners – each of whom will receive a professional industry critique as well as a cash prize.  Please check out our full submission guidelines and our main contest page for further details.  As Becky’s critique of last year’s winning entry demonstrates, the contest represents a real opportunity for students to make an industry connection and further their writing careers.  So what are you waiting for?  Get writing!

Myriad First Drafts Contest

17 Jan

Whew.  The new (and slightly extended) Semester 1 has finally drawn to a close, with the majority of BA and MA assessment having been handed in this past week.  Congratulations to all for making your deadlines (we hope) and take satisfaction in knowing the workload now passes to your tutors, who will be furiously (as in busily, not angrily) marking during the inter-semester week.  Now that you have a bit of respite, we thought we’d draw your attention to a great opportunity for new and upcoming writers.  We have had several guest speakers from Myriad Editions visit the course this year (more on this later) and the Brighton-based publisher is known for supporting and nurturing new talent; most notably, they run an annual writing competition entitled ‘First Drafts,’ which is open to all authors who’ve yet to publish a book.  The focus is on novels and short story collections, but in the initial instance you don’t need to have a full manuscript: just your sample chapters and synopsis.  It’s perfect for those on our Novel Writing Module (HM6105) and Creative Commissions & Proposals (HM7105) as many of you will already have a project in hand.  The prize includes a writing retreat at the beautiful West Dean College.  If you’re interested, the deadline is February 2; check out their guidelines by downloading the First Drafts Competition 2015 flyer, or through the Myriad website – and good luck!


Inaugural UoG Novel Writing Contest Winner Announced!

8 Dec

Last week, the launch of Carnival: New Writing III was made even more exciting (if that was possible) by the announcement on the night of the winner of our inaugural UoG Novel Writing Contest.  For those playing catch-up, the contest is open to all students enrolled on our Creative Writing BA or MA courses, or studying with us for a PhD – as well as exchange students, joints, and even students taking a single Creative Writing module.  The shortlist of six entries was sent to our judge, literary agent Becky Thomas of the Fox Mason Agency, who selected her three finalists.  Of those, we’re very proud to announce that the 1st place winner, and recipient of the £100 prize, was PhD student Duncan Dicks.  Becky provided a professional industry critique for all three finalists, and here is an extract from her critique of Duncan’s novel, Matlock:

I loved the central character, the setting, the coming of age element, the mystery of the Mappe and the conflated emotions of those formative years…It felt very Kes or Son of Rambow to me. It was the most rounded of the entries in that I liked the premise and the writing.  I’d be very keen to see how this develops.

Congratulations to Duncan, as well as to fellow finalists Jane Durston and Hayley Barnes.  Many thanks to Becky for acting as our judge, and we are happy to announce that the contest will become an annual feature on our course.  Watch this space for details of the 2015 contest, as the submission window will be opening soon!


Finalists Duncan Dicks, Jane Durston, and Hayley Barnes with Course Leader Tyler Keevil

Inaugural UoG Novel Writing Contest Finalists Announced!

28 Nov

fox_mason_headerIt’s been an exciting semester on the course, with further staff and student publications, prizes won, and the launch of the hugely popular, student-led magazine Show Don’t Tell.  This week has been particularly buzzing as we gear up for the launch of Carnival, the latest anthology from our in-house New Writing series.  To add to the excitement, we recently heard back from Becky Thomas at the Fox Mason agency, who has selected the three finalists in our inaugural UoG Novel Writing Contest, from the field of six shortlisted entrees.  Becky spoke highly of all the entrees, and narrowing down the field was a very difficult task.  However, it had to be done, and we’re now in a position to announce the finalists.  Drum roll, please…the novels still in contention are:

  • ‘Things We Should Have Done’ by Hayley Barnes (BA student)
  • ‘Matlock’ by Duncan Dicks (PhD student)
  • ‘The Good Housewife’s Frontal Lobotomy’ by Jane Durston (MA student)

A big congratulations to our finalists, as well as the other shortlisted entrants.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will be announced at the Carnival launch next week, and the prizes given – including cash and a professional critique, courtesy of Becky and her team.  So if the suspense (and the way we’re dragging this out) is driving you nuts, you’ll have to come along on the night to find out who’s taken top spot!

Tyler’s top choice again: UoG lecturer wins people’s choice award for Wales Book of the Year

16 Jul

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACreative Writing course leader Tyler Keevil has won the People’s Choice category of the 2014 Wales Book of the Year Awards for his acclaimed second novel, The Drive (Myriad). A fast-paced and hilarious contemporary odyssey, The Drive is an epic road novel, but it’s also a reflection on narrative and the act of story telling.

At the prize ceremony on July 10th, Jasper Rees said, ‘I was the first to tell the other judges they had to read The Drive. I haven’t been as excited about reading a new writer since I read DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little.’The Drive Cover

Myriad’s Senior Fiction Editor Vicky Blunden told Booktrade.info: ‘We are incredibly proud of Tyler and his extraordinary wild ride of a novel, The Drive. It is that rare and special blend of powerful storytelling, adventure, pure comedy and all the romance of lost love and life on the road – a true page-turner. Tyler is a literary star in the making, and he richly deserves the honour of this award.’