2019 – An Honest Review

As 2019 draws to a close, is been a year rejections for Just Say It, my pantser-style first attempt at a novel.  But I am, older, tougher and wiser now; I have learned to criticism on the chin 😭.  So, I will say goodbye to 2019 feeding off the constructive criticism and positive feedback I’ve received during the year. I have not given up on Just Say It, far from it, but I have taken great heart from the reaction to An Honest Review (now re-titled The Doyenne of Didsbrook).

At the end of 2018, I finished writing a short story called An Honest Review, a pleasurable diversion from the endless hours of rewrites for Just Say It.  An Honest Review, the short story, focusses around the eight members of a Writers Group in Didsbrook, a sleepy market town somewhere in the Home Counties.  I sent it off, with no great expectations.


My cousin and I were in Oxford enjoying the 2019 Literary Festival and, somewhere between the audacious Mary Beard and the intrepid Ranulph Fiennes, I opened an email which told me the good news. An Honest Review had made the Fiction Factory’s 2018/2019 Longlist.  One real positive, because I’d never made a Longlist before.

A few weeks later, two people who have been so supportive of my writing independently suggested that I should take An Honest Review and turn it into a novel.  So I have done just that.  With the short story to work from, I took all the characters, created a few new ones and actually spent time plotting it.  I surprised myself how quickly it began to take shape, as some surprisingly sinister events began to unfold in the pastoral town of Didsbrook.


I entered the Flash 500 Opening Sequence and Synopsis competition with An Honest Review and it made the Longlist.  Also, cause for celebration as I have really struggled with writing the synopsis for Just Say It.

Small steps for a wannabe author, but they have given me hope that in 2020, I might make somebody’s shortlist!

In the meantime, here are some of the characters from the murder mystery spoof, formerly An Honest Review, now They Doyenne of Didsbrook (the secret lives of Jocelyn Robertshaw.)

When the flamboyant sixty-five-year-old Jocelyn Robertshaw, retired thespian and a much-loved author, is found dead in the four-poster bed she was born in, the residents of Didsbrook are stunned.

Among the many good deeds she had done for the town she loved, she founded the Didsbrook Amateur Dramatic Society, affectionately known as DADS, as well as the auspicious body of homegrown writing talent, the Didsbrook Authors and Writers Group, DAWG.

The upwardly mobile Humphrey Middleton is the bumbling DCI assigned to the case and his investigations lead him up several blind allies and one particular garden path.  

Cue Lucy Fothergill, who Jocelyn Robershaw has mentored since she was sixteen.  After three years studying Creative Writing, Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, it doesn’t take her long to find out that something surprisingly sinister has been going on in this pastoral market town, involving the people she has known all her life.










4 replies »

  1. “At the end of 2018, I finished writing a short story called An Honest Review, a pleasurable diversion from the endless hours of rewrites for Just Say It.”

    I hear you, Tessa. As I say on my website’s About page: “The (relative) ease of writing short fiction leaves me giddy. Without those annoying 300 middle pages, by the time you start, you’re almost done.”

    Keep writing, and have a lovely holiday.

  2. This is very cool. Sometimes a short story is so gripping that you just have to turn it into a novel. I think that’s the great thing about short stories. They give us a glimpse and from there, we can choose more or no. Some stories are not worth pursuing for a novel while some are. I think writing a lot of short stories helps us to distinguish between the ones that are and aren’t. Like anything else we do, the more experience we gain, the better we are at our work. Such a great post. Good luck!!

Thank you very much for visiting my niche-less blog! If you have time before you leave, would love you to tell us what you think. All the best, Tessa Barrie

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.