I am longlisted for Penguin Uk’s #writenow2020

Earlier on this year, I entered Penguin’s #writenow programme. It is designed for fiction and non-fiction writers from underrepresented backgrounds and ultimately results in a select few candidates working closely with Penguin editors over a year to get their work-in-progress ready for publication.

I decided to take a chance and enter with a finished manuscript that I’d shelved for the time being. The original application only required 1000 words and a synopsis so I copied and pasted what I’d already done into the online form and pretty much forgot about it for the next few months. When I saw Penguin post that they had a record number of applications this year, I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be getting through to the next stage which would require being among the top 8% of 3700 applications. But lo and behold, I did receive the news that the judges liked my application and I’d been selected for the longlist.

As a longlisted applicant I attended the Penguin workshop on 11th July and had a one-to-one meeting with an editor about my manuscript. Both were a wonderful experience with advice about writing and navigating the publishing industry.

I’ve decided to polish my manuscript until it’s perfect and apply the editor’s advice where I can. I’m shortly going to be querying literary agents for representation. Though I love writing and self-publishing my thriller series, I feel that this particular manuscript which has more of a literary edge, will be best served by traditional publishing.

Title: Sugar

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

What’s the cost of beauty?

Constance grew up on a sugarcane farm on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, she is beautiful but finds her beauty to be more trouble than it’s worth. Her daughter Agnes was born in England and feels adrift, the odd one out in a predominantly white town. She just wants to fit in, she just wants to feel desired.

Both are harbouring dark secrets.

In a quest to rebel against her religious upbringing, Agnes finds herself delving deeper into the dangerous and seductive world of ‘sugaring’ in which young women trade off their looks in transactional relationships with wealthy older men.

While Constance buries past traumas deep inside, putting on a brave face for her family. She just wants to keep Agnes safe.

Can mother and daughter start to mend themselves by first repairing the relationship between them?

The story is told from both Agnes and Constance’s point of view, see writing samples below.

#writenow is truly a wonderful programme that provides a confidence boost to hundreds of writers like me who spend most of our time squirrelling away, secretly panicking that we’re not any good. #writenow brings a lot of people together and offers a warm and nurturing environment and the chance to ask questions without judgement. I’m part of an amazing WhatsApp group of longlisted applicants where we share our experience of writing and support each other’s work. An especially good thing about the #writenow experience is that candidates are given the chance to speak to publishing editors, something that rarely happens for aspiring writers.

I think it’s a great initiative by Penguin and I would urge any writers (fiction or non-fiction, aspiring or otherwise) to apply!

No matter what happens next in the process I’m so glad I applied!

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