Mslexia, dyslexia, hommes-de-plume and the Eludia award


The Accidental Wife goes live on Amazon

Well, the great news is that my first book, The Accidental Wife has finally gone live on as well as on the site which has already been delivering the book to a trickle of American friends and family over the last two weeks! The book has even got its first reviews, which I’m thrilled about. As interest in the book grows, people keep asking me about the Eludia Award  (The Accidental Wife won the 2014 Eludia Award). When I explain the award, sometimes people think I’m joking…”A prize just for women? And for women of a certain age? Isn’t that kind of cheating?” So, I struggle to explain…Today I’m going to let Debra Leigh Scott, the founder of Sowilo Press and the Eludia Award explain in her own words:

Founding Director, Debra Leigh Scott, says, “The Eludia Award is dedicated to the memory of my maternal grandmother, Eludia Marie Orgoglioso, born at the turn of the last century in Abruzzi, Italy.  She lived her life at a time when women had little opportunity to follow their dreams; and although she loved the arts all her life, she was never able to pursue them beyond her wide-ranging reading of literature and volunteer singing in her church choir.  This award has been created to support the many women who, while living in a different and more “modern” time, still meet with delays and obstacles in discovering their creative selves. It is a tribute to my grandmother, and a tribute to all women artists.”

“For goodness sake,” my listeners sometimes reply, “it’s not the turn of the last century, and we’re not living in rural Italy. The shelves are full of women writers. Stop whining!” And the shelves are indeed full of women writers, and would you like to know a little secret… they get smaller advances (if any) than male writers, sometimes they get poorer contracts than male writers and their books definitely get a fraction of the column inches and a fraction of the prizes they deserve. So much so that a gorgeous new word has been coined to describe this crappy state of affairs:


According to the official Mslexia Magazine website[1]: Mslexia means women’s writing (ms = woman lexia = words). Its association with dyslexia is intentional. Dyslexia is a difficulty, more prevalent in men, with reading and spelling. Mslexia is a difficulty, more prevalent in women, with getting into print. Mslexia is the complex set of conditions and expectations that prevents women, who as girls so outshine boys in verbal skills, from becoming successful authors. The magazine Mslexia aims to define, explore and help overcome the condition of mslexia and provide a platform and playground for women writers. Its intention is to provide information, guidance and inspiration for published and unpublished authors, and improve the quality and standing of women’s literature.

Yip, mslexia is real and it’s out there. Would you like to hazard a guess as to why Joanne Rowling published her books under her initials?  Would you like to guess why A. O’Connor, one of the few hugely successfully men writing in the genre of “Women’s Fiction” uses his initials and has no author photo on his Amazon author page? It’s because of subconscious bias…a deep-seated, rarely vocalised belief that a person’s worth and a person’s innate talents and interests depend on the distribution of their x and Y chromosomes. For a discussion of sub-conscious bias, you will not read a more articulate or more enraging description than the following experiment carried out by Catherine Nichols, who submitted her novel 50 times under a man’s name, as a last ditch attempt to find out why it kept getting rejected. Please take five minutes to read it, from the “Writing while Female” section of Jezebel magazine. My blood is still boiling, and it prompted this whole blog.

So,thanks for The Accidental Wife, from this accidental writer…

So yes, I am hugely proud to have won a prize just for women. And so grateful to Hidden River Arts and Sowilo Press in Philadelphia for running the Eludia Award. If you are kind enough to read The Accidental Wife, I hope you’ll spare a thought for the great team of women who helped me bring the book to life.

accidental wife final cover


  1. `Congrats on the book, Orla and great post. Will order the book right away! The results of Catherine Nicholls experiment are absolutely shocking.

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