“Entering the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award has taken my writing life to a higher level. Self-doubt had stopped me before but just submitting something I thought had potential gave me satisfaction. The excitement of reaching the long list was only tempered by the discipline of the next deadline but then surpassed by the thrill of seeing my name on the short list and finally achieving Highly Commended. I was astounded to hear that agent Nelle Andrew wanted to meet me and elated to then sign with Nelle and begin editing my debut novel. Without the fantastic opportunity the Award offered I would not be on course to achieve my dream so everyone at Blue Pencil has my gratitude.”

Neil was Highly Commended and shortlisted for the 2019 Award. He is represented by Nelle Andrew of Peters, Fraser + Dunlop

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Highly commended Neil Daws and Nelle Andrew
Neil DawsHighly Commended 2019
“It was such a spectacularly happy time that you created for us all and the good effects continue…
It was an immense privilege to be part of such a special gathering.”

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Blue Pencil Agency London
Kate BAsthall Manor retreat 2019

“Louise’s workshop was really informative and encouraging. I immediately went and split my novel into four piles and was relieved to discover it worked!”
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Blue Pencil Agency London
Katherine SAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

“Louise was engaging and knowledgable. She gave us useful and practical tips which we could all implement immediately. I really recommend her as a speaker.”
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Blue Pencil Agency London
Sue RAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

“A well structured programme, the editorial sessions and workshop with Louise Doughty were excellent.”
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Blue Pencil Agency London
Sharon LAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

“It was a really, really special few days, a very well structured programme, brilliant location and fantastic food. it was lovely to meet Emma and Sara as well as to spend time with a fantastic and supportive group of writers. Thank you so much.”
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Blue Pencil Agency London
Jane MAsthall Manor Retreat 2019

I entered the Blue Pencil First Novel Award in 2017. The deadline provided me with much needed motivation, and the thrill of being placed was a great morale- booster. It gave me the confidence to submit my work to an agent and now that my novel The Oceans Between Us published by Headline, I realise how much gratitude I owe the agency for recognising its potential.

Gill Thompson author Oceans Between Us
Gill Thompson2017 Shortlist
“Hayley and I have been working on rewrites, especially around plot development. Her feedback has been so helpful in shaping the plot and developing the undercurrents that weren’t quite right – I’m really hoping I can do it all justice. It’s a massive step forward beyond where I’d ever got to before with my writing so I’m really grateful for the opportunity that came from the shortlisting!”
Sue Barsby was shortlisted in 2018. She is working on her novel Living in Twilight with Hayley Steed from Madeleine Milburn Agency.
Sue Barsby2018 Shortlist

“Winning the Award marked a real breakthrough in my writing life. The slightly overwhelming news that I had won first prize (I found myself shaking uncontrollably!) was followed by an exciting week involving a London photo-shoot with the judges, and the sight of my face in The Bookseller. The lovely Blue Pencil Agency team gave me the chance to meet the judges and to talk about my novel in some depth with agent Eve White. This was a fantastic opportunity and one that is rare in the writing prize world. Winning the Blue Pencil Agency competition gave me confidence that my novel is a good one and this, I would say, is the most valuable reward an aspiring writer can get.” February 2018.

Carolyn’s debut novel The Conviction of Cora Burns is out now. Her second novel When We Fall is coming in May 2020. She is represented by agent Andrew Lownie.

Carolyn Kirby2017 winner

“Unless I ever buy a winning lottery ticket the entry fee to the Blue Pencil First Novel Award will be the best investment of £20 I’ll ever make. Each stage has given me so much: the energy of a deadline to complete the first draft; the confidence boost of reaching the long list; the heady excitement of the short list announcement (coinciding with my birthday!) And now the thrilling opportunity to discuss my work with Madeleine Milburn and take the first steps towards launching my writing career. My heartfelt thanks to Sara, Emma, Fiona and Maddy.” December 2018

Jules is represented by Madeline Milburn. She is working on her debut novel My Poor Deluded Girl.

Jules Lampshire Writing Advice
Jules Lampshire2018 winner