There’s a scene in Chariots of Fire where a disheartened Harold Abrahams declares that if he can’t win he won’t run – to which his girlfriend replies that if he won’t run he can’t win. I don’t have Olympic gold in my sights but without my writing pals’ encouragement I’d never have entered my novel for this year’s Exeter Novel Award. Which means I’d never have received yesterday’s email telling me it had been shortlisted. This is a first for me – so I hope our blog-readers won’t just think ‘smug git’ when they read that! I feel so grateful (as well as amazed) that I want to encourage everyone to listen to the positive voices in their lives – and act on what they hear. Maggie’s monthly round-up of competitions (below) is a particularly helpful spur for me.