Nearly New Year… And a Giveaway!

Bonnie had a toy pheasant for Christmas

 Hello again, it’s me – and it’s not even the New Year yet, so please  consider yourselves ‘honoured’.

I hope you’ve all had a good Christmas, whatever that means in  your  world. I have eaten half my body weight in chocolates/turkey/pudding and I’m hoping I can still get into my outfit for the wedding this week.

I had a new phone for Christmas which, if it’s anything like the last one, will sit in its box for about a year before we work out how to download all the stuff from my old phone and all that palaver. This is the only time when I wish I had a tame teenager in the house!

And we actually forgot to get Bonnie any Christmas presents (!) so we wrapped up some of her old toys and she seemed quite happy (especially with the wrapping paper).

A few things to tell you about and then, a GIVEAWAY!

The Cheshire Novel Prize

A new novel competition (open to un-agented/unpublished – or self-published – writers) has just been launched and will be open for entries from 1st January 2022.

First prize is £1500 and all longlisted entrants ‘may be contacted by the judging agent’ – ie: it’s a good way of getting your work in front of an agent and if they like what they see, they may offer you representation. (And this applies to many novel competitions).

The entry fee is a hefty £25 but every entrant will receive at least a paragraph of feedback on why they weren’t long- or shortlisted (if indeed, they haven’t been) and the organisers are also offering some sponsored places for writers who can’t afford £25.

The judges are pretty impressive (it’s always worth checking who the judges are before you enter anything) and include literary agent Juliet Mushens. Have a look at the website which, even if you’re not considering entering, has some useful writing and submission tips and ‘what we’re looking for’ stuff from the judges.

For the poets:

1. Curtis Brown are running a FREE poetry competition on the theme of ‘New Beginnings’, to launch their new on-line poetry course.

All the details are here and the closing date is 21st January.

The prize is a rather tasty £500, a free place on their six-week online Writing Poetry course and publication of your poem on the Curtis Brown blog.

2. A message from Worcestershire Poet Laureate Ade Couper (from his Twitter feed. I can’t find out any more information than this but it may be of interest to some of you):

Happy #HumanRightsDay2021 everyone! (December 10th). To mark this, I’m delighted to announce that I’m now running an open competition for poets.

We want your poems on human rights for a new anthology, to be published in 2022, called “Human Writes”. I’m running this in association with @AmnestyWorceste and @LitWorcs.

You can submit poems (max 30 lines) on the theme of human rights to between today and 31st January 2022 (late submissions will not be accepted).

Please send your poem as a word document or PDF; don’t put your name on the actual poem, but make sure your name & contact details are in the email. The poems will be read by a panel (me, a member of @AmnestyWorceste & former Worcs Poet Laureate @pixie_dragonfly).

Looking forward to reading your poems!

Rachel’s Holiday– 25th Anniversary Giveaway
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ms Marian Keyes and I particularly like her novel Rachel’s Holiday (I’ve read it twice and listened to the audiobook recently and I’m thrilled that she’s finally – twenty-five years after the original – written a sequel, Again, Rachel – which is coming out in February 2022).

So, I couldn’t resist entering a recent competition to win one of several copies of the 25th Anniversary edition of Rachel’s Holiday (it’s bright PINK!) from the publisher but now I’ve got the book (which has EXTRAs in it), complete with snazzy badges and a bookmark, I feel a bit bad about sticking it on my shelf, so I’ve decided to give it away!

And it’s completely unread. I haven’t even sneaked a peek at the ‘extras’ and that’s the truth.

So, whether you want to win it for yourself or to give away to a funny-romance-with-dark/serious bits-loving friend (I know, it’s a bit late for Christmas, but you’ll think of something), everyone’s welcome to take part and all you have to do is leave a comment below this post, saying anything at all. (I am honestly so grateful to get comments, I’d be happy with ‘Count me in, please, thank you!’ or something like that. Or you might want to tell me if you like Marian Keyes too and which is your favourite of her novels).

This is going to be a quickie giveaway and it’s closing at 10am on Friday 31st December, when I will put everyone’s name into a virtual hat and draw one at random. UK only, (sorry!) due to postage costs.


The winner of the book is SUE! (It was nearly Helen but if you look closely at the picture you’ll see that the arrow stopped at Sue!). Well done. I will message you now for your address.

If you’re not the lucky winner/you prefer e-books anyway or you literally cannot wait to see if you win, the Kindle version of Rachel’s Holiday is currently just 99p on you-know-where (the site that cannot be named).

Also, Marian is running a ‘readalong’ of Rachel’s Holiday on Facebook, for the next 4 weeks and it starts on Tuesday 28th December (yes, I know, that’s tomorrow).

I have mentioned Rachel’s Holiday before (it was one of my ‘best books of the year’ in 2019) and I agree with the publishers who describe it as “Deliciously dark and fantastically funny”.

Last giveaway: ‘The Smallest Man’ by Frances Quinn (October 2021) – Margaret has asked, quite rightly too, about the last giveaway I ran and I have updated that post now but to save you scrolling back, here’s the info and I will post the winner of ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ on this post in due course. Sorry, should always announce who the winners are, shouldn’t I?

So, my last giveaway (‘The Smallest Man’  – a signed copy) was won by Sarah from Stratford. But… horror upon horrors, when I sent the book to her it WENT MISSING! So, we waited and it still didn’t turn up, so in the end I ordered a new one to send to her (which of course, wouldn’t have been signed, but still…) and then, before I could send it, the original turned up! (Her neighbour, who had broken his leg, had taken in the parcel from the postman but hadn’t been able to give it to her – I suppose on account of his incapacity!). So, then I had a spare book, so I did another spin of the random name-picker wheel and the second winner was Fran Hill, so she’s had that book and enjoyed it. So there were actually 2 winners last time!

Happy New Year everyone (when it arrives). See you on the ‘other side’!

This entry was posted in Books, Competitions, Poetry, West Midlands and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Nearly New Year… And a Giveaway!

  1. Patricia Stowell says:

    I love Marian Keyes and would love to be in with a chance to win ‘Rachel’s Holiday’. Happy New Year and may 2022 be a better year for everyone.

  2. Thanks for offering Marian’s book in your giveaway! Enjoy your blog!

  3. Penny says:

    Thanks for this, Helen! Have never read Marian Keyes (what an admission!) but always intended to… so have whizzed over to upload the Kindle version. For that reason, please don’t include me in the draw, but just wanted to say thank you for the reminder of something I wanted to do anyway!
    Hope Christmas has gone well for you. And yes, I also have a half-functioning mobile somewhere, still waiting for Someone Younger to be able to visit and set it right. At least it looks pretty.
    Oh – and may I mention the PF serial begins on Jan 22nd, if of interest to anyone. here… ?: -))

    • Of course you may mention it, Penny! What’s its title and what’s it about? (had to think about my apostrophes there!) Glad I reminded you to get the 99p version of ‘Rachel’s Holiday’. I think it’s definitely worth 99p of anyone’s money. Hope you enjoy it!

  4. Hi Helen. Thanks for the links to the competitions – I may chance my arm with the poetry. And yes, please count me in for the draw of the Marian Keyes’ novel. All best wishes for the new year. B x

  5. Helen Lowry says:

    Hi Helen. Thanks for the giveaway! Would love to be in with a chance to win the book! Happy New Year. I hope 2022 improves for everyone x

  6. H says:

    Hello. Hope you have been having a nice Christmas.
    I would love to win please to be able to gift it to my elderly mum please. I think she’d love it just as much as her other books.
    Thank you 🤞

    • As long as your elderly mum is quite broadminded, H.. there’s a bit of bad language and, ahem, some sex in it! (Sorry, perhaps I should have said that in my post). But of course, that might be fine by your mum!

  7. nellwriter16 says:

    I love Marian Keyes advice on writing and I love your blog too. Happy New Year!

  8. Beverley Carpenter says:

    Thank you for your blog. Hope you have a happy New Year

  9. I love Rachel’s Holiday too! I don’t want to be entered in the competition as I have my old copy and no room on the shelves! But you like comments, so thought I would oblige (and the 99p tip is RED HOT so thanks for that!) happy new year!

  10. Fiona says:

    Like Penny I’ve never read any Marian Keyes books, so maybe 2022 is the year to start!

  11. Sue Cook says:

    To my shame, I have never read any Marian Keyes either. Glad the dog enjoyed her presents. She looks so pleased in that photo.


    I’ve never read Marian Keyes either! Perhaps winning a copy might be the nudge I need. 😉 Sorry if I missed it, but did you find a home for your last giveaway? I seem to remember it was an historical novel.

    • Thanks Margaret and consider yourself in the draw. My bad for not announcing the winner(s) – there were 2 in the end – of the last giveaway. I’ve updated both this post and the post in October that had the competition on it.


    Thanks Helen for the clarification and obviously a second comment doesn’t increase my chance of winning. 😉

  14. Karel Wright says:

    Thanks for the blogs this year, always interesting and fun. Looking forward to a merrier and brighter New Year for everyone with lots of reading and writing to be done.
    Love Marian Keyes books and writing advice videos too.
    Best wishes x

  15. Claire says:

    I’d love to win – I’ve also never read Marian Keyes. The beauty of book competitions is that they fet you reading something different! Love forage New Year 🥳🥳🥳

  16. Sherri Turner says:

    I love Marian Keyes and have read Rachel’s Holiday – but such a long time ago and my copy has been lent and unreturned (the worst kind of book behaviour!) So I would love to go in the draw so I can read it again before the new one. And also thank you for the poetry comp tips. Happy New Year!

  17. Eirin Thompson says:

    I read Rachel’s Holiday many years ago and loved it. Marian Keyes seemed to get labelled as ‘chick lit’ in a way which could sound dismissive, when really she deserves to be lauded for her exceptional warmth and humour whilst also engaging with often difficult and serious matters. There’s a reason she’s sold a zillion books. Good luck in the draw, everybody!

    • Absolutely right, Eirin. I love that ‘dark and shade’ in Marian Keyes books. She always manages to make me smile – or laugh – but there are really poignant and thought-provoking parts in her novels too.

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