2018 Winning Entries

Read the judges’ report and extracts from the winning entries.

Do you dream of landing a deal for your first novel? PENfro Book Festival’s First Chapter Competition could be the starting point to making your dream come true!

Have your first chapter judged by one of the best talent spotters in the business – and you could win a comprehensive review of your work and help to reach publishable standard for your whole novel.

Send in the first chapter of your novel for a chance to win a session with full feedback of your work.

Please submit fiction for adults (including teens) only.

First Chapter Competition 2018 – the Shortlist

Congratulations to the following writers who have been shortlisted for the Penfro 2018 First Chapter competition. All of these writers will receive an editorial report from Rebecca John. The four winners, who are being contacted individually, will also have the opportunity of a meeting with Richard Davies of Parthian on the Sunday of the Penfro Book Festival. The overall winner will receive a longer report from Rebecca John.

The following are not listed in any particular order:

  • The Unlovely Sea Rhiannon Hooson
  • The Last days of Emmet Jones Gavin Eynon
  • The Scent of Roses Sandy Norris
  • Gabriel June Whitaker
  • The Pinstripe Prisoner Kelly Van Nelson
  • Taking Flight  James Dron
  • The Long Drive Home Michael Formosa
  • She swallowed the sun Sophie Haydock
  • I, said the sparrow Simon Cousins
  • The Aftermath Amanda Griffiths

Richard Lewis Davies is one of the founding partners of Parthian. It was established in 1993 to publish his first novel Work, Sex and Rugby, and has since developed into a leading independent publisher based in Wales with a focus on Welsh writers working in English while also assembling a carnival of voices from many languages and cultures. Richard has been involved in the literary scene in Wales since 1990 and is the current commercial director of Parthian and the Library of Wales series. In addition to publishing, he has a parallel career as a creative writer.

Rebecca F. John was born in 1986, and grew up on the South Wales coast.  She holds a BA in English with Creative Writing (1st class hons) and an MA in Creative Writing (distinction) from Swansea University, as well as a PGCE PCET from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Her short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4Extra.  In 2015, her short story ‘The Glove Maker’s Numbers’ was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.  She is the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award 2015, and the British participant of the 2016 Scritture Giovani project.  In 2017, she was named on Hay Festival’s ‘The Hay 30’ list.

Her first short story collection, Clown’s Shoes, was published through Parthian.  Her first novel, The Haunting of Henry Twist, was published through Serpent’s Tail in July 2017, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

In 2017, Rebecca founded the Cadogan & Quill Literary Consultancy, which offers reading and critiquing services to both aspiring and established writers.

She lives in Swansea with her three dogs, Betsy, Teddy, and Effie.


  1. Your work must be original and written in English.
  2. We cannot accept fantasy or science fiction, or work for children.
  3. The competition is open only to writers who have not previously had a novel accepted for publication.
  4. Maximum length for entries is 3000 words. Entries should be typed in 12pt Times and double-spaced. Postal entries should be on A4 paper and printed on one side only (please send two copies of each entry if entering by post). There should be no personal details about the writer on the manuscript. Online entries must be submitted using the online submission form.
  5. Closing date for receipt of entries is Sunday July 29th, 2018.
  6. Entries can be made online or by post and are open to everyone (locally/nationally or internationally). There is no limit to the number of entries but there is a fee of £10 for each First Chapter submitted.  Entries submitted online must be paid for via PayPal or by debit/credit card (there is a PayPal button on the online entry page). Postal entries are payable by cheque or postal order.  Postal entries should be addressed to PENfro First Chapter Competition, Rhosygilwen Mansion, Rhosygilwen, Rhoshill, Pembrokeshire SA43 2TW
  7. Entries must not have been previously published in print or online, been broadcast or won a prize. The novel should be unpublished and not have been accepted by a publisher – if it is accepted by a publisher after submission but before the judging takes place then it will no longer be eligible and entry fees will not be refunded. Nor should it be with an agent.
  8. The shortlist will be announced by the end of August 2018 and the winners will be announced at PENfro Book Festival  2018. All shortlist and winner details will be posted on the PENfro website. A winner and 2nd and 3rd prizewinners will be chosen from the shortlist.
  9. Entries will be read and judged anonymously so do not put your name on your manuscript.
  10. For postal entries use the downloadable entry form first-chapter-entry-form-2018 or write your full contact details on a separate sheet of paper.
  11. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy. No corrections or alterations can be made after entries have been received.
  12. Entries that fail to comply with rules and requirements will be disqualified.