My Failed Romance

Dear reader,

If you’re in The Scribbles Academy you might be familiar with my confession.

If not…

Have I ever told you about the time I wrote a romance story?

OMG. I still groan with embarrassment.

It was the mid 1980s and the Australian Women’s Weekly in conjunction with Mills and Boon, was running a creative writing competition.

You had to write a 2000-word Mills and Boon-esque romance.

First prize? Probably a trip to the Maldives. Everyone was going to the Maldives back then.

Second prize? Can’t remember.

Third prize? One of TWO HUNDRED bottles of Chloé perfume.


Now, at this stage I had barely written anything let alone a romance story. (I was in the public service by then, spending most days dreaming of a better life.)

I read through the comp details and thought, how hard can it be? It’s just a dumb old romance. (Yes, that’s how arrogant I was. Sincere apologies if you’re a romance writer. But, hey, I’m a children’s author, we know all about derision.  We’re happy to be paid in lollies, too…)

Back to the writing comp.

I decided the worst that could happen was I’d win a bottle of perfume.

And it was Chloé


Every night for the following week, I went to my friend’s house and bashed out a story on her word processor.

A rural romance. About a bloke. A doctor. A flying doctor. And a beautiful nurse who didn’t like him at all.

But then she saw his pecs.

And changed her mind…

Roxanne Company Nurse
Probably what I had in mind. With some red dust and a bi-plane thrown in.

Can you imagine?

I stapled it together, posted it off and sat back to wait for my prize.

Dum dee dum.

You know how this ends, don’t you?


Dead air.


I was stunned. How could they overlook my genius??? Perhaps they were talking to the film producers?

Then I thought, maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s (horror of horrors) me.

I put my head in my hands. I hadn’t even come 200th!

Why am I telling you this?

Dunno. It’s funny.

Plus, creative writing competitions are a rite of passage.

They’re also a godsend. They force us to get off arses, fire up the word processin’ machine and bash somethin’ out.

When we do that, we learn. We grow neural pathways. Even if we don’t win a Maldives junket, we end up with a new, improved brain. And that brain helps take our writing to the next level.

Line by line. Story by story.

It’s all about doing the verk.

Do the verk duck_NONAME

Over in The Scribbles Academy, entries have been pouring in for the annual Scribbles Creative Writing Awards.

I’m so excited!

I LOVE seeing so many Scribblers (both writers and illustrators) rise to the challenge. Not only are they doing the verk, they’re growing and changing.


By accepting this challenge, they’re honing their skills, facing their fears and mutating into kid lit creators of the most beloved kind.

The shortlist will be announced Friday October 18. Trust me, it will be ALL OVER social media!


I cannot wait to share all the Scribbly goodness.

To find out more about the awards and to see who won last year, click here.

Meantime, stay scribbly, dear reader.

Stay creative.

Stay… romantic.

Jen xo

The next intake for The Scribbles Academy is February 2020. Join my mailing list to keep updated!

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