WINNING an Independent travel writing competition can be a route to fame and fortune. Rory Maclean, a winner three years ago, this year had his first travel book, Stalin's Nose (HarperCollins, pounds 14.99), published to critical acclaim.

Now Sheila Paine, a winner 18 months ago, says that as a direct result of winning our award she is to have her first travel book published by Michael Joseph.

'It is the story of my travels in search of a particular embroidery pattern from Kohistan in northern Pakistan through Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Iran and Turkey to eastern Bulgaria. I should like to thank you very much indeed for launching me into this new career.'