A WRITER is hoping her dream of being published could become reality after clinching a top award.

Sheila Averbuch has been writing children’s stories for more than 15 years and is one of 10 writers to receive the New Writers Award.

The prize, which is supported by Creative Scotland, is awarded by the Scottish Book Trust, which has supported more than 100 creative individuals through the scheme.

Now, Mrs Averbuch is hoping she could be on the right track to seeing her novel Best Friend Code published.

She said: “I did not believe it when they called to tell me I had won. I said: ‘You must be joking.’

“They call to check you are still unpublished and living in Scotland and [the caller] was pleased to tell me I was one of the winners.

“I have applied five times and they like you to have a different manuscript each time. There are a lot of writers in Scotland and a lot of children’s writers – they had 450 people applying for the award.”

Budding writers send in their manuscript, with a judging panel scrutinising the stories and poems before a winner is chosen.

Among the judges on this year’s children and young adult panel was award-winning East Lothian author Debi Gliori.

Each of the 10 winners receives a £2,000 cash award and support tailored to their needs, including mentoring from writers and industry professionals, training opportunities and the platform to showcase their work to publishers and agents.

The awards also include the offer of a week-long writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, near Inverness.

The retreat provides time, space and the freedom to create new work in idyllic surroundings.

Mrs Averbuch, who lives in Pencaitland with her husband Ralph, chairman of the village community council, and their two children, said she enjoyed writing “realistic books that go a little bit weird and a little bit crazy”.

She said: “It is a book about a young teenager, an Irish girl, who has moved to the USA. I lived in Ireland for several years and Massachusetts and the girl becomes friends with someone online who is not what they appear to be.

“Her friend decides to take vengeance on bullies and turns into an unstoppable force.”

The 49-year-old graduated with a degree in journalism from Stanford University in 1995 and has since gone on to be a business journalist before setting up her own copywriting company.

However, each day she sets aside two hours to continue working on her own creative writing.

She said: “I have been writing a long time but creative writing is where my heart is.”

Alan Bett, literature officer at Creative Scotland, congratulated the winners.

He said: “Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Awards are always a reason for readers to celebrate, due to their role in delivering now-established authors such as Claire Askew and Malachy Tallack into print.

“Writer development opportunities can never be underestimated. The tailored approach here, alongside the public platform, helps build skills, confidence and visibility, ensuring Scotland’s most exciting talent in poetry and prose reach our nation’s bookshelves.”