Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 26 April 2013

Calling All Writers!

The Mslexia Novel Writing Competition 2013

I cannot urge you strongly enough, assuming you are a woman, and have written a novel, or can contemplate writing a decent chunk of a novel between now and September 23rd... I cannot urge you strongly enough to enter the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition 2013.

I will give you two very good reasons, if you like.

The first very good reason... Well, let’s call it the Desmond Elliot Prize shall we? The Desmond Elliot is an annual prize for a first novel. This year, the longlist for the prize includes ten novels, seven of which were written by women. If that isn’t a good enough reason to enter the Mslexia, then how about this? The winner of the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition 2012 is on that list. Yes... That’s what I said! Rosie Garland won the Mslexia last year with her novel, The Palace of Curiosities. It was sold in a six figure book deal to Harper Collins for release this spring, and is currently number one in Waterstones’ hardback fiction list. I KNOW! How cool is that?

The second very good reason for entering the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition 2013 is Rebecca Alexander. I bloody love Reb, whose blog, tracking her progress through her MA in creative writing, and her success in the Mslexia competition, securing an agent and a book deal is, not at all surprisingly, both readable and very entertaining. Rebecca Alexander’s first novel The Secrets of Life and Death will be available later in the year. Trust me, I will keep you updated on this book, because I’ve read it, and loved it.

If I hadn’t already taken my chances with the inaugural Mslexia prize, and if Naming Names hadn’t been a runner-up, I would probably be preparing something to send in for this competition, but I did, and it was, and it was an amazing, roller coaster experience for me.

Lots of wonderful things came out of it. Naming Names had its first truly independent appraisals and it was not found wanting. I secured my first agent, and I edited my novel. I had wonderful feedback from Sarah Waters, who was incredibly generous with her time and encouragement, and I made some fabulous new friends. I learned that it can be done, thanks to Rosie Garland and Rebecca Alexander. I also learned to trust my instincts, and to trust my work.

I will not ever take part in another writing competition of this kind. I hope that I won’t ever have to. I think it is absolutely worth taking part in this competition, though, and I hope that many of you will.

I always believed that any writing competition could only ever be as good as its winners, and, in its first year, the Mslexia novel writing competition attracted some real talent. I know that, because I met the shortlisted women, and I read some of their work. I also know what I’m capable of as a writer.

This prize is going to go from strength to strength and it is going to be prestigious. I was in on the ground floor, and I have a very, very good feeling about it. 

Have I said, yet, that I urge you to take part? Because, I really, truly urge you to tidy up and finish that manuscript you’ve been working on, follow the submissions guidelines, carefully, and send it off.

I’m very glad that I did, and I hope that you will be too.


  1. I couldn't agree more! Thanks, Nik. x

  2. Drat you Vincent-Abnett! Drat you!

    I saw your twit-plug and leapt to this article, only to discover I would need to shave more than once a day to enter the contest.

    I dramatically twirl my moustache at you! The very moustache that bars me from your proffered opportunity!

    However, I praise your advertising of a prize that might help counteract the publicity gap between male and female authors.

    1. I'm staggered that there is still a gender gap between writers, but there is... and it's huge, so I'm sure you'll forgive me.

      Better luck next time, David.

    2. I am English, so if I were annoyed with you I would be frightfully polite about it. So you might be better off if I did not agree with you.