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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > COMPETITION SPECIAL - October 2016 > Subscriber spotlight

Subscriber spotlight

Share your writing success stories. If you subscribe to Writing Magazine and would like to feature here, email Tina Jackson,

On a roll of the dice

‘Whilst walking our dog in the Peak District, I occasionally found myself wondering what it would be like to discover a corpse,’ writes subscriber Roz Watkins.

‘This (together with a long suppressed desire to kill off some of my ex-colleagues) led to me starting my first book, The Devil’s Dice, in which a patent attorney is found poisoned in a cave.

‘Realising I had no idea what I was doing, I read everything I could get my hands on about how to write a publishable novel, and I did a course with Alex Davis. It’s highly motivating to be fixed with a steely eye and asked, And how many words have you written this week?

‘I finished the first draft and, poor deluded soul, thought I was nearly done. I actually spent a further year editing, reading more and more books, swapping critiques (including on the excellent Scribophile website), and scouring the internet for advice from Sharks and Snarks and Evil Editors and other such terrifying creatures.

‘My first break came from a Writing Magazine competition where I won a critique of my first 10,000 words from James McCreet. If I’d read some of his previous critiques before I entered, I might have been too scared, but I was new and naïve.

‘At the Festival of Writing in York, my book doctor, Claire McGowan, passed my opening on to her agent, Diana Beaumont. Diana liked it and took me on a few months later when I thought my book was finished (it wasn’t). Diana helped me edit – and I still can’t quite forget the instruction to “ratchet up the drama, tension, emotions, suspense, fear and spooky elements even more – say another 20%”, a month before we were due to submit. But it worked, and we now have a three-book deal in the UK with HQ (HarperCollins), a two-book deal in Germany, and a TV option. This period of bizarre good fortune continued when the book was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger.

‘You can follow me on Twitter to find out if this is true or if I am in the throes of a psychotic episode @RozWatkins.’

Page-turning comedy

‘A few months ago, my first comedy novel, Missing Gretyl, hit the #1 spot on Amazon for British literature and satire,’ writes subscriber Si Page.

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Writing Competition Special 2017 – win over £570,000 in more than 200 competitions! Break into young adult fiction Money matters: • How to expand your writing income online • Should you ever write for free? • How much do authors really earn? 20 packed pages of writing opportunities in Writers' News Star interview with Eowyn Ivey, author of international bestseller The Snow Child

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