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Winning at Writing

When I won my first writing competition I was almost 40, living in a run-down farmhouse in rural Australia and working odd jobs. I was a waitress, a mill worker and, on weekends, I guided tourists through a crocodile farm. Now, twenty years on, my writing awards have given me the freedom to give up odd jobs and focus on writing full-time.

How to Win at Writing

My stories have been published by major publishing houses (HarperCollins & Harlequin), yet in 2012 I decided to take complete control of my work and self-publish. I’ve never looked back. I chose LULU because of the amount of control I have over the entire publishing process as well as the affordability and quality of the final product.


The psychic detective. The serial killer. The deadly garden that holds the secrets.

Writing for awards and competitions has been an effective way to increase my profile in the literary world. It’s provided me with some fantastic and very legitimate marketing tools and forced me to edit and polish my work until it shines in the face of judges. If you want to win, you’ve got to get it right, and it’s the same with self-publishing – your readers are the judges and your goal is to impress them with a finely tuned product.

If you are going to enter writing awards or contests, make sure they are legitimate. Look into the publishing house or company’s previous awards and publications. Find out who is judging the award (this is an important step) and the cost to enter (some are free. but you usually have to pay a reading fee which is normally around the $5 – $25 mark). I avoid competitions where I’m required to buy books, pay a load of money, or am unsure about the reputation of the company or publishing house.

Why winning at writing matters

My latest short story was chosen in the top three in the international Ruth Rendell awards. The judge of this award was Lynda La Plante who I was invited to meet at the awards ceremony in London. I couldn’t make the ceremony but I can’t tell you how excited I was that Lynda loves my story and knows who I am. I’ve now been commissioned by InterAct Stroke Support (through the Ruth Rendell Trust) to write another story to be read in hospitals throughout the UK by British actors. 

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Dianne Gray

Dianne’s writing not only includes five cross-genre novels and a multitude of award-winning short stories; she has also written articles for government websites and hosts a popular blog. She is currently updating her book of short stories and writing two novels. Why two novels at once? Dianne believes that working on two stories at the same time is the reason she never suffers from writer’s block.

11 thoughts on “Winning at Writing”

  1. Just found this post – EXCELLENT. Love reading about your way to becoming a full-time successful author/writer/entrepreneur, Dianne. Inspires us all.

  2. Fantastic blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that
    I’m totally confused .. Any tips? Kudos!

  3. Dianne That is an amazing achievement you amaze me. I have only read Wolf Pear and hope to read more of your books soon. You are a unique talent and I wish you every success in your writing career. Loved learning a little more about you.

  4. I loved hearing more of your story, Dianne. Congratulations, again. You are SO deserving!

  5. I loved reading this, Dianne. You really are an inspiration. Congratulations on your many successes as a writer. xx

  6. Jill Weatherholt

    All of your followers are so proud of your success, Dianne. You’re an inspiration to many.

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