The Great Novel Contest 2019: Margaret Kirby — Runner-Up

Margaret Kirby earned the title of Runner-Up in The Great Novel Contest 2019 with her novel Becoming Nora.

Congratulations to Margaret Kirby for a well-crafted character-driven novel!

Learn more about The Great Novel Contest 2020 here.

Becoming Nora explores what happens when a seemingly ordinary and happy life spirals off on a different trajectory. After eighteen years of marriage and two children, Nora’s husband tells her he is unhappy and wants a separation. Nora’s journey through loss, fear, and uncertainty leads to freedom and self-awareness as she comes to recognize the constrictions in her marriage that she once accepted as normal.

From one of the contest judges: “Becoming Nora explores the intricacies and complexities of relationships. Through tight prose and exceptional character development, Margaret Kirby reveals how closely our identities are entwined with those we care about the most.”

Margaret retired in 2012 after working for thirty years for an organization that provides services to the homeless. And although she regularly did technical writing and editing throughout her professional career, it wasn’t until after retirement that she began to invest serious time and energy into pursuing creative writing. 

Margaret joined the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild and found a great support person in Maribeth Fischer, Executive Director of the Rehoboth Beach Writer’s Guild. It was through that mentorship that Margaret learned about The Great Novel Contest. 

At first, she didn’t know if the contest would be a good fit for her novel, but she thought it sounded like an interesting opportunity. She took a chance and submitted. Margaret was awarded $1,000 in credit with Columbus Publishing Lab for author development services. She now plans to use the contest credentials and author services from Columbus Publishing Lab to pursue literary agents and publishers.  

Great novels come easier with great support. Margaret has been supported throughout her writing journey by her daughter, Katherine, who patiently read her novel and the subsequent revisions. She was also cheered and supported by her husband, fellow writers from novel classes, and good friends. 

When Margaret isn’t creating her own stories, she likes to read a variety of genres and authors. She reads fiction and nonfiction, memoirs, poetry, and anything that inspires her own creativity. She has Joan Didion, Wallace Stegner, Anne Tyler, Colm Toibin, Flannery O’Connor, and Thomas Merton on her shelves at home. She loves reading, writing, and watching her grandchildren grow up.

Margaret has advice for writers out there who are struggling to finish their novels: Learn more about your characters as you revise—go deeper each time. Try to write every day, if only for ten minutes, and be patient with yourself when you can’t get into the flow. Read poetry and writing that inspires you. Attend workshops. But above all, be patient with yourself.

Margaret would love to see Becoming Nora published someday. She is querying agents and exploring small presses. Best of luck to you, Margaret, and congratulations!

The Great Novel Contest is back for 2020! Think your work might be a good fit for our contest? Learn more about The Great Novel Contest 2020 here.

One thought on “The Great Novel Contest 2019: Margaret Kirby — Runner-Up”

  1. Wowzie, Margaret. So proud of you and your incredible duel career. We know what ever you do is beautifully and gracefully doñe. 40+ years of best friendship is a treasure.
    Big love, M

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