The Novelry Writers' Annual Report 2020

Dec 13, 2020

Christmas comes to The Novelry in the form of completed novels, so many first drafts, awaiting their next draft in the new year. Congratulations to all of you for making sure you didn't rely on Santa for your best gift this Christmas! The year in fiction was a blessed relief versus the year in reality. We drew close at The Novelry as writers and enjoyed time together online, in our own good company and with well-known authors too.

We have learnt so much this year by pulling together. This was ever the vision enshrined in our logo - the octopus. One shared mind bulging and many tentacles writing!

With some three hundred novelists writing with us presently, we have our tentacles on many works of fiction. At The Novelry HQ, we keep our tabs on our writers novels as a team thank to a wonderful 'doctors system' updated in real-time by our writers' activities withing their online course, and at every one-to-one tutor session. We have instituted a Monday team meeting as tutors to discuss our writers and share our thoughts on their stories so that each and every writer - while working one-to-one with a tutor - gets insights and thoughts from the team. Those meetings are sprawling and gleeful. We're so proud to champion each of you!

The drear reality outside spurred us to make it warm and wonderful inside The Novelry for our writers with live online sessions every week whether team chats, the new Story Clinic, the Louise Doughty Bootcamp, or live guest sessions.

We added wonderful tutors; Katie Khan, Emylia Hall and Kate Riordan. (I'm so thankful and appreciative of how they go the extra mile for our writers.) The redoubtable Louise Doughty joined us as a guest tutor for most of the year. We hosted authors: Mark Billingham, Kate Hamer, Joanna Cannon, Clare Pooley, Harriet Tyce, Susie Nott-Bower (our homegrown talent), Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins. We raised funds to send one of our young talents - Aprajita Agnihotri - to study for a BA in Creative Writing in the UK at UEA. We sent another writer on a full bursary plus living expenses for a year to study for an MA in creative writing. None of this could have happened without you, so thank you for your part in making dreams come true.

Here's a small list of wise saws from The Novelry to see you into the next year. Whatever it may bring, you will always have your own precious, private world to turn to on your writing, and the warm support of your community of writers writing worldwide. On a dull day or a dark day, it's bright at our new home, hub and haven - The Novelry Live.

  1. Problems! Love them. List them. If you can see it, you can fix it. It's the fix that gives your work an extra bounce. Your ingenuity makes the novel unique.
  2. Write into the void. Have questions, don't have answers. Creation semi-blind is somehow richer than patching old material and old ideas that belong to other years. Write a small amount daily as a daily practice
  3. Write to your own standards and timetable, nobody else's. This is the part of your life you own, nobody else. Set your standards high by reading. Don't ask others what they think, until it is done to your standards first, and the standards set by published peers. (Published authors! Get off the treadmill and reclaim your time, your authority, your authenticity, your art form.)
  4. Pick up your plot by the midpoint and let the events fall either side. Darker to lighter. From confusion to clarity.
  5. Let structure serve story; settle the matter by choosing the only way to do this story full justice.
  6. Your main character starts broken, ends whole. If temporarily. This change is the drama of story. Your main character might well be the person least suited to the situation you're putting them in, and the one who will experience most change.
  7. Keep the stakes high, and raise them with every draft. What's at risk here? It better be an emergency either physically or morally. The reader simp,y has to find out (and take part.)
  8. Festina Lente. Get a first draft down fast to find the story. Love it into being in successive drafts. 
  9. 'You are the music, while the music lasts,' T.S. Eliot. You. Your very being here is the music and the magic. Your novel is just one vessel for some of it, but it's not a gift given by some elusive donor that can be taken away. You are the gift. This time, next time, every time. The novel is a byproduct.
  10. It will always be new. Every novel is new, you will never stop learning your craft. No artist does. Befriend mischief, make mistakes, and hunger for a split-second of clarity more than a few months of acclaim. If you can do this, you have a purpose and a calling for life that will bring you unimaginable joy. 

We have spent this year working together and drawn close. I salute you all, my writers, for your courage and wit, your kindness and generosity. We grow novels at The Novelry by loving what's good about them and tinkering merrily as elves in a workshop with what's not quite working. We've been whistling while we work, regardless of the outside world. No one can ever take from us what we have made.

This year has seen our writers placed on many of the awards lists - the Bridport Novel Prize, the Bath Short Story Award, the Mslexia Novel Prize, the Mslexia Short Story Award, the Financial Times Essay Prize, the Retreat West Short Story Prize, the Flash 500 prizes. Here's the annual report from some of our writers writing in lockdown in 2020. A round of applause for all of you and here's to more happy writing in 2021.


Anand Arungundram Mohan is working on his book Eden to Spaceship Earth, fantasy fiction for the middle graders coming soon.

I will be finishing my first draft by Dec 24

Alex Webber Smith is currently working on her first novel, a children's fantasy story about mothers and daughters and magic

I finished my first draft.

Angela Billows is working on the 3rd draft of her novel, Blue Fox, her debut novel.

Longlisted Mslexia Novel Award 2019

Anne Clermont is the author of Learning to Fall, a novel, and is finishing her first draft of That Summer at Lake Geneva, a fiction novel.

Awarded the EQUUS Film & Arts Festival Equine Fiction award

Anne Dorst is the author of If You Say So, a romance for those who don't believe in love.

Working on the last draft

Cara Bryant is the author of a crime novel The Lake.

Published short stories

Carla Jenkins wrote her first draft of Fifty Minutes during lockdown and is in the process of refining it through The Big Edit course.

Longlisted for the Bridport First Novel Award

Carol Sanders is the author of the historical fiction novel set in the 1930s, Where Daisy Belongs.

D1 on the shelf.  D2 in process!

Carol Williams has completed the first draft of her historical novel The Barber's Daughter set in wartime Normandy.

Finished a first draft.

Caroline Davies is the author of her first novel in progress The Haven for Lost Souls. She hopes to have the final draft complete in the new year.

An honourable mention in The Firestarter competition. Three full manuscript requests.Two very productive sessions with my tutor Katie Khan.

Dalia Astalos is the author of YA novel Abigail’s Canyon and is at work on her 5th novel coming soon

Finished my first draft of YA novel

David Hogarth is the author of the first of three Biography/Humour Novels Rise and Shine Little Man and is currently working on the second instalment.

Completed last draft

From gothic to garden: Debbie Lily Jones is looking forward to completing her garden memoir About the Garden in 2021.

Completed my gothic novel, Windwhistle.

Eimear Lawlor is currently working on her second novel set in Ireland in  1940.

My book Dublin's Girl is going to be published in January by Aria Publishing (Head of Zeus). I have a three-book deal and am working on my second novel.

Elissa Elliott is the author of her Up Lit novel The Improbable Beauty of You.

Just finishing the millionth revision of a second novel and preparing it to send out

Elizabeth Gowland is the author of her literary romance novel No Ordinary Love.

I've finished my first draft.

Gilli Fryzer is at work on her first story collection.

Winner of Mslexia Short Story Award 2020.

Graham Roos is a writer and creative artist whose work has spanned the media of poetry, film, opera and theatre. He is the author of two books - Rave and Apocalypse Calypso. He is writing his first novel The Complicity of Eve and is working on a new play for 2021.

I have just started the second draft of my novel, completed this season's cinepoem - Lullaby to the Fall - and my new show - Cocktails with Vivien - was sold out just before lockdown.

Hannah Parry is the author of her book club novel Breathing for Both of Us. She is working on her second novel about surrogacy due in Spring 2021.

Finished the last draft in January of book club fiction about a paediatrician and big pharma. Got my first agent. Now thirty thousand words into women's commercial fiction manuscript about a woman who unintentionally becomes a surrogate.

Helen Eccles is working on her Up-Lit Novel, I and Me and We and Us coming soon March 2021

I completed my first draft in 90 days and draft 2 is underway. I had a  story published in the Retreat West  anthology shortlisted in the 2020 short story competition.

Hemmie Martin is the author of an Up Lit Novel, The Not So Quiet Life of Samantha Crawford and is busy plotting her next novel.

I've completed the final draft of my novel, synopsis and agent letter.

Jacquie Morrison is the servant to her magical realism story narrated by a bottle of wine; Uncorked. Her novel seems to have confused the notions of service and slavery, and has led Jacquie Morrison on a merry dance.

Finishing the 719th draft of my novel Uncorked.

Jane Mansour is editing Pockets of Air, her first novel, contemporary women's reading group fiction.

Finished my first draft. Longlisted for the Louise Walters page 100 prize. Longlisted for the Flash500 Novel Opening 2020 prize.

Joseph Greenberg is working on his 6th draft of Dreamkeeper, a medieval adult fantasy.

I have finished 5 drafts of my novel.

Juliana Adelman is the author of two books of nonfiction and is working on her first historical crime novel.

Finished first draft

Justine Gilbert is the author of two novels, The Beginner's Guide to Love & Forgery a romance e-published in 2008, and a gritty crime drama A Dividing Line Indie published in 2019. She is currently at work on her third novel, a fictional memoir of a real-life mistress of FDR.

I am editing my completed novel.

Kay Brass is the author of Borderline her first novel.

Reached the halfway point of my big edit and found a new passion in 2020 - creative writing!

Louise Tucker is the author of The Last Gift of Emmeline Davis (currently on submission) and has nearly finished the first draft of her second novel.

My novel is, after three edits, on submission to 14 publishers.

Lucy Barker is working every day on her novel, the opening 10k of which won her second prize in last year’s Curtis Brown First Novel award.

My achievement: getting words on the paper every single day since I started. From dangerous binge-writer with a history of giving up at 20k, I’m now a steady, healthy writer happily working my way through the final third of my first draft.

Madelyn Moon is the author of the best-selling women's fiction novel, The Life Coach, as well as two nonfiction books written in her early 20s.

Finished more than half of my first draft. 

Maeve Henry is a freelance copywriter, currently finishing the second draft of her novel, The Absolution of Auden Carey, a work of literary fiction.

Nearing the end of my second draft

Melinda Sabo is the author of personal essays on creativity and is hard at work on a fantasy novel coming soon.

I completed my first draft in late January and I'm halfway through the second draft. Best of all? I'm loving it!

Michelle Pilkington completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2020.  She then completed a final edit of her novel, A Life Half Lived, a domestic noir/family saga with the support of her new friends at The Novelry.

Completed last draft, synopsis and covering letter and an agent has requested to see the full manuscript

Mish Cromer is a person-centred therapist and author of Alabama Chrome. She is working on a collection of short stories and a novel.

I published my first novel.

Olesya Lyuzna is the author of her 1920s feminist noir novel Brickbats and Bouquets.

Finished my third draft and got accepted into the Pitch Wars mentorship program.

Philip Meeks has written for stage, radio and television. Published award-winning playwright writing his first novel.

Completed last draft of my first novel Mere Mortals - a tale of folk horror akin to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, had Victoria Wood been my editor.

Sophie Taylor is currently editing her debut literary fiction novel, What Will Survive of Us.

Finished my first draft!

Susie Nott-Bower writes for children. She is the author of School for Nobodies published by Pushkin in 2020. 

Finished my next middle-grade novel, The Three Impossibles, which will be published by Pushkin June 2021.

Sylvia Bluck is the author of time travel novel, Hellingly and has almost finished.

Longlisting for Cinnamon and Exeter First Novel Prizes

Tracey Emerson is the author of She Chose Me and is working on her second novel, A Careless Man, with The Novelry.

Almost at the end of another draft of A Careless Man and hope to be sending off early in the New Year. A piece of non-fiction published in the Telegraph's Stella magazine and in the Sunday Life magazine in Australia.

Veronica Birch has just finished her novel Bird Island and is lying down in a darkened room...

Finished my 4th draft.

Victoria Price is an inspirational speaker, author, and most importantly, the one in all The Novelry Zoom meetings with the cute white dog named Allie on her lap.

I had a non-fiction book published in April, but that's not nearly as exciting as this non-fiction writer finishing a reader's draft of my novel!

Viv Frances is the author of her suspense novel Ma and is at work formulating her next suspense novel.

Finishing my 4th draft.

Walter Smith is the author of the political novel, The Candidate, about a man who learns the price of ambition when he seeks office to replace his political mentor.

Winning The Firestarter competition at The Novelry last year was a shock. This was the first writing award for me since I was a teenager. My one publication was a story in a regional magazine here in the American South.




Start a new chapter today

We take beginners and experienced authors all the way from an inkling of an idea to a book in a year with our online writing courses

Learn more

👍 Like this blog? Give it a thumbs up and find other writing blogs at