Home to Roost by David Lea

Page Turner has provided a significant boost to my confidence as a writer and my productivity. I had taken years to finish the novel, re-writing, reading books on writing, going on courses about writing, joining webinars about writing, finding an urgent need to tidy the cupboard under the stairs and similar displacement activities.

The primary impetus, having entered, was to finish the final chapters, and, having done that, I paid for the first chapter to be critiqued by an agent. When I received the result, I was initially discouraged, defensive, and cross. Had we had a dog, I would probably have kicked it. And I do like dogs.

Having licked my wounds for a few days, I re-read the critique and decided that the agent had made some pertinent points, however unpalatable, and I re-wrote the first chapter accordingly. It was much better, and I found that I had made the finalist stage with about two hundred other writers.

I then went through the whole MS, re-structuring, re-writing and cutting to the same criteria. Again, much better, but time-consuming, and I abandoned almost every other activity except washing and eating.

I then found that I had made the longlist, needed time to finish the edit and emailed Paula to explain my predicament. I expected to be told to send the completed MS or withdraw. Instead, Paula replied, saying that my writing had achieved high marks and that I should take my time to make the work as good as possible.

The combination of harsh criticism and sympathetic encouragement worked very well for me, and, as I write, I am now on the shortlist of twelve. Whatever the final result at the Awards Ceremony, I will consider the Page Turner experience invaluable for my progress as a writer and an outstanding return on my financial investment.

Many thanks to Paula and the team.

David Lea