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What Happened Next?

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For the writers listed below, being published in Mslexia or longlisted in one of our competitions, turned out to be the next step on a journey with a happy ending. 

For some the reward was instantaneous: a Mslexia shortlisting, followed by agent representation, followed by a book deal. But for others – even for some of our competition winners – there has been a longer road to travel, which makes the recognition, when it comes, all the sweeter.

The moral of these stories? First, winning isn’t everything – being longlisted can still get you noticed. Second, if at first you don’t succeed, keep writing, keep rewriting, keep submitting. Third, you have to be in it to win it – so spruce up that manuscript and press ‘send’. 

This is just a roll call of writers who’ve been in touch in the last year or so. If you’re not on this list and you think you should be, do get in touch. 

Julie Irigaray

Julie Irigaray

Julie Irigaray was runner-up in the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. Her pamphlet, Whalers, Witches and Gauchos, was published was published by Nine Pens in April 2021. Whalers, Witches and Gauchos explores narratives of displacement, the way we navigate between countries and cultures, and how where we come from makes us who we are. Using her Basque ancestors as a point of reference – these same whalers, witches and gauchos who travelled to the other side of the world or were persecuted – Irigaray conjures up her memories of living in the Basque Country, France, Ireland, Italy and the UK.

Hannah Storm

Hannah Storm

The Thin Line Between Everything and Nothing is a flash fiction collection that explores the fragility of human relationships and those unexpected meetings and moments that upend our familiar worlds. In her debut collection, Hannah Storm (who was shortlisted in our 2020 Memoir & Life-Writing Competition) takes us to far-off countries and cultures, offering the reader a glimpse of the stories behind easily forgotten headlines, blending them with myth and magic. Grab your copy from Reflex Press.

Nicola Garrard

Nicola Garrard

Twenty-Nine Locks by Nicola Garrard, about London boys groomed into gangs, which was shortlisted for our 2019 Children’s & YA Novel Competition, will be published in June 2021 (Hope Road). Nicola write, ‘I just wanted to thank Mslexia again; being shortlisted and becoming a finalist last year really helped me on my journey to publication’. If you are interested in Nicola’s publication experiences, she’s been blogging for the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook here

Emma Musty

Emma Musty

The Exile and the Mapmaker by Emma Musty, about a cartographer searching for his lost love in Paris whilst struggling with Alzheimer’s, will be published in June 2021 (Legend Press). The novel was one of two by Emma that were longlisted in our 2013 Novel Competition. Emma writes, ‘It has been a very long road, but being longlisted was an amazing boost that kept me going all these years. Thank you so much for providing women writers like myself with opportunities such as this.'

Tricia Cresswell

Tricia Cresswell

The Midwife by Tricia Cresswell, the winning manuscript in our 2020 Adult Novel Competition, will be published by Pan Macmillan in March 2022. Representation by literary agent Charlotte Robertson, who was on the judging panel, was offered as part of the prize. Tricia writes: 'Just wanted to express my thanks again to the Mslexia team for all the work which must go into the competitions. Mslexia is a genuine and welcome support to all of us aspiring writers. Your vision inspires us.’

Regi Claire

Regi Claire

Regi Claire, who won our 2020 Poetry Competition with her long poem ‘(Un)certainties’ was shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. The piece has been published in The Forward Book of Poetry 2021, which showcases the best work from the previous year’s new poetry collections and single poem publications in literary journals.

Helen Cooper

Helen Cooper

Helen Cooper was longlisted for our Adult Novel Competition. She writes: ‘I still remember that feeling of being longlisted and the excitement of sending off the full manuscript. It spurred me on to improve the novel and start submitting it and I’m thrilled to say my debut The Downstairs Neighbour has just been published by Hodder & Stoughton. It’s been featured as a book club pick in Woman & Home and the Sunday Times Crime Club and was Heat magazine’s Read of the Week. A big thank you for the continued support that you provide to women writers’.

Sarah Wimbush

Sarah Wimbush

Sarah Wimbush’s Bloodlines, which won our 2020 Poetry Pamphlet Competition, was published by Seren Books as part of the competition prize, was shortlisted for the coveted Michael Marks Award, the premier award for short collections. The pamphlet was reviewed by Judy Darley in Poetry Review as a ‘slim yet seductively insidious collection. Wimbush’s verses creep in under collar and cuff, sending shivers across your scalp’.

Katie Tallo

Katie Tallo

Katie Tallo, who won our Adult Novel Competition in 2014, writes to tell us that ‘I did not find a publisher for my winning novel, but I did acquire an amazing agent. Two years later, I continue to feel buoyed and I have written a murder mystery called Dark August, which has been published by Harper Perennial/HarperCollins and I couldn’t be more excited. Mslexia is has been a wonderful part of that story and I’m forever grateful.’

Elizabeth Primamore

Elizabeth Primamore

Elizabeth Primamore has written to tell us about her very first publication success. ‘I am sharing with you the very good news that my first work of fiction, a short story, titled “Maybe she loved him”, has been published. Thank you for the encouragement and advice and wonderful work you publish in your very necessary magazine! Without it, I don’t think I would have had the perseverance to pursue this path’.

Elaine Simmonds

Elaine Simmonds

Elaine Simmonds’ novel The Club For Mature Indulgence made the longlist of the Comedy Women In Print unpublished novel prize in 2020. Elaine writes: ‘I came to Mslexicon last summer to try and decide whether to persevere with the novel. Inspired by stimulating workshops and expert advice from agents Jo Unwin and Jenny Saville, I set about redrafting. Thanks to Mslexicon I have a much better manuscript that I feel confident to send out to agents, and a much better chance of publication’.

Philippa East

Philippa East

Philippa East was longlisted in our 2017 Adult Novel Competition. Philippa writes: ‘This gave me great confidence in my book and my writing in general. A few months later I signed with my dream agent, who secured (at auction) a two-book publishing deal with HQ/HarperCollins. Little White Lies was released in the UK & Commonwealth, US and Canada in February 2020. It has been so lovely to have your support throughout this weird and wonderful journey’.

Beda Higgins

Beda Higgins

Beda Higgins is a poet and short story writer, who won one of our early Short Story Competitions. Beda writes: ‘Winning the Mslexia Short Story Competition was a huge boost to my career as a writer and helped me in the publication of two award-winning short story collections. I'm delighted to be able to tell you that my first collection of poetry, which jointly won the Geoff Steven Award 2020, will be published by Indigo Dreams in August. I feel Mslexia has travelled the journey with me towards this publication’.

Vandana Sehrawat

Vandana Sehrawat

Vandana Sehrawat was shortlisted for our 2020 Adult Novel Competition for her novel Becoming a Brave Girl in Gajpur of Delhi. She writes: ‘Having my novel selected as a finalist for Mslexia has given me the confidence to submit my work for other opportunities, and I have had a very strong response from agents. One of the chapters has been published in Chicago Quarterly Review and other excerpts have allowed me tp receive full scholarships to attend the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Community of Writers Workshop this summer’.

Audrey Molloy

Audrey Molloy

Audrey Molloy’s poem ‘Salt rain’ was published in the ‘Journey’-themed Showcase in Issue 83 of Mslexia. Audrey writes: ‘Not sure if you saw on social media, but my poem "Salt rain" subsequently won Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards with Listowel Writers' Week. The feedback has been phenomenal. Thank you so much for selecting my work’.

Katherine Orr

Katherine Orr

‘Backbone’ by Katherine Orr, an original story that we commissioned in 2019 as part of our Women’s Monologue series, has been selected for inclusion in Best British Short Stories 2020, the leading annual anthology of the genre showcasing the cream of published work during the previous year.

Aliya Ali-Afzal

Aliya Ali-Afzal

Aliya Ali-Afzal was longlisted for our 2019 Adult Novel Competition. Aliya writes: ‘Getting longlisted was a real boost for me – thank you! I am thrilled that my novel Would I Lie to You? will be published in 2021. I was lucky enough to sign with my dream agent, Juliet Mushens, who secured book deals with Head of Zeus in the UK, and Grand Central in the US.

Tracey Iceton

Tracey Iceton

Tracey Iceton’s third novel White Leaves of Peace came out in 2019, concluding her Celtic Colours trilogy. She writes: ‘This is due in part to the confidence gained through reading Mslexia and growing my craft based on the wisdom of its feature articles. Without Mslexia I doubt I would have had the stamina to see the trilogy through so many thanks’.

Molly Gartland

Molly Gartland

Molly Gartland, whose novel was longlisted for our 2019 Adult Novel Competition, eventually found her publisher Lightning Books via our Indie Press Guide – The Girl from the Hermitage was published in the autumn of 2020. She says she feels Mslexia has always been tied for the novel’s fortunes. ‘Your competition gave me much needed encouragement and was a very important step in the journey to publication. Thank you!’

Imogen Hermes Gowar

Imogen Hermes Gowar

Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, which was shortlisted for our Adult Novel Competition, went on to be shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Betty Trask Award in 2019. The film and TV rights have been optioned by Playground Entertainment, the outfit behind the Wolf Hall and White Queen adaptations. She writes: ‘During my Creative Writing MA a few agents had asked to see more of my work, but I hadn’t found the confidence to show them anything. I sent out my manuscript as I’d revised it for Mslexia, and it found my perfect agent.’

Jacqui Bloese

Jacqui Bloese

Jacqui Bloese, who was one of the finalists in our 2020 Adult Novel competition, sent us this piece of good news following her shortlisting for her novel The Watcher of Hauteville House. ‘Just two weeks ago, I had interest from Giles Milburn at Madeleine Milburn Agency. He really liked the book and I have now signed with him, and have just started to work on rewrites’. Now retitled The French House, it will be published by Hodder & Staughton in March 2022.

Abby Davis

Abby Davis

Abby Davis, shortlisted for our Adult Novel Competition, writes: ‘I'm writing to let you know that Euan Thorneycroft of AM Heath has offered to represent me with Mother Loves Me. Thank you again for your support and advice at the pitching workshop. It's taken me 17 years to get an agent so it's an absolute dream-come-true and I know making the shortlist in your competition has played an enormous part in making it happen. The book was published in 2020 by HarperCollins.

Julia Webb

Julia Webb

Julia Webb’s poem ‘Girls’ school’, which was published in our Issue 79 Showcase section, curated by Rosie Garland, on the theme of ‘Cooking’, is being reprinted in her collection Threat, published by Nine Arches Press in 2019.

Trudi Tweedi

Trudi Tweedi

Trudi Tweedi, whose novel Escape to the Country was longlisted for our Children’s & YA Novel Competition, has won the Times/Chicken House Children’s fiction prize 2018 with The Pure Heart. She writes: ‘I was long-listed with a different book for the Mslexia competition, which was a great motivator’.

Sophie Van Llewyn

Sophie Van Llewyn

Sophie van Llewyn’s novel-in-flash Bottled Goods was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018. Sophie met her publisher at an online event in the Mslexia Salon. She writes: ‘I would never have thought of submitting to them if it weren’t for the Salon event. The team at Fairlight Books is highly professional, and they treated my manuscript with so much love and enthusiasm. I am immensely grateful to Mslexia for bringing us together’.

Stephanie Hutton

Stephanie Hutton

Stephanie Hutton was included in our writing group project supported by Arts Council England in 2017. Stephanie writes: ‘The short story I worked on in my group has been selected as a finalist in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, so will be published in the print anthology in December’.

Olga Ponjee

Olga Ponjee

Olga Ponjee’s story ‘Mama's skin’ was a finalist in our 2017 Short Story Competition judged by Deborah Levy. Olga writes: ‘A new Dutch feminist publisher has stumbled upon the story and has asked if it could be included in a short story anthology (in it's original Dutch version)’.

Liz Monument

Liz Monument

Liz Monument was shortlisted in our Adult Novel Competition. Liz writes: ‘I was over the moon to make the shortlist of six and subsequently found an agent. I’m sure that having "shortlisted by Mslexia" on my covering letter helped me to be taken seriously when The Eternity Fund showed up in the slush pile’.

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