It's a new year, but not quite the end of January, so there is a fair chance that most New Year resolutions will have disappeared more easily than any extra pounds that somehow arrived in December.
For anyone who sets out with a New Year resolution of finally writing a break-out book - one that will be good enough to attract an agent or a publisher - that resolution will definitely have to have staying power and I always think it is fitting that the first award of the year is the Branford Boase Award, which acknowledges the best of the first-time authors who broke into print the previous year.
And that's not all. It is the only award not only for first-time writers, but also their editors, acknowledging the important role of an editor in identifying and nurturing new talent.
Awards can play a crucial role in marking out talent - something we are all devoted to on Space on the Bookshelf where we also like to interview editors of books we review as we all know that simply being talented is never enough.
With previous winners of the Branford Boase Award including such great names as Meg Rosoff and Marcus Sedgwick, it's often the first sign of a new author with something very special to offer.
I haven't read them all yet, but great to see Non Pratt there with 'Trouble' as she is also in the running for double glory with the inaugural YA Book Prize - the new prize for UK and Irish YA books http://www.welovethisbook.com/features/ya-book-prize-shortlist-announced (alongside Marcus Sedgwick's 'The Ghosts of Heaven' (another favourite of mine) - and 'Half Bad' by Sally Green, who is also in the running for both. An impressive achievement in itself.
More fave debut boosk of mine from last year also feature, which is exciting: 'A Room full of Chocolate' - a rollercoaster of emotion by Jane Elson; the tremendous fun of 'Cowgirl' by Giancarlo Gemin, I loved the wonderful Tudor setting of the 'The Executioner’s Daughter' by Jane Hardstaff and my own favourite - a wholehearted dive into the world of magical books in 'Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret' by DD Everest.
We loved Archie Greene at Mostly Books we asked Des to come and do some school events locally and you can read about it here: http://www.mostly-books.co.uk/2014/11/finding-binding-or-minding-five.html
One of my favourite things in talking to Des was him telling us how he finally felt like a real author when he was at the offices of his publisher talking about the characters in his book. Becoming part of a team who want your book to be a great success can be such an important step for any writer.
It's truly innovative that the Branford Boase Award recognises - that publishing is a great eco-system and being part of that is what makes being a writer so brilliant and such a privelege.
If you want to have a look at which authors have been selected as showing real promise you can read the full longlist of authors with their editors and publishers here:
A real mix of genres and age-groups and a great reading list to get anyone's year off to a terrific start. Happy reading.