Dr Samuel Johnson on Writing


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“A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.”

Dr Samuel Johnson, March 1750

Struggling to write those 1,000 words a day? Or even half a dozen sentences? Dr Samuel Johnson has a lesson for us all, on the days when we are tempted to make excuses for writing nothing at all.

Literary: First Chapters


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Not to be out-done by the literary Skipper, the lovely Snowy (in her dashing winter jacket) thinks you should also be entering a new competition promoted by Simon Trewin who has been a literary agent for the last thirty years and launched the careers of many internationally published novelists.

“I am looking for the author who makes me forget I am reading a book. The author who innovates, not imitates. The author who takes me to strange lands.”

What Simon requires are the first 5,000 pages of a Literary novel, plus a one-page 300-word plot synopsis. The first prize is £1,500; second prize is £300; third prize is £100. Entry is £20. Deadline: 31 March. Details: theplazaprizes.com/competition/literary-first-chapters/

Snowy insists you must be dogged about those writing ambitions of yours.

Another Opportunity to Get your Novel Noticed



With a deadline of 31st March, there is still time to enter your novel into the Fiction Factory First Chapter Competition. They require a maximum of 5,000 words of your First Chapter, plus a one-page synopsis. Prizes: the winning entry will be read by agent Joanna Swainson of Hardman & Swainson Agency and will receive £500 plus an appraisal. All shortlisted entries will receive a free appraisal. Entry is £18, or £38 including an optional assessment. Details: words@fiction-factory.biz

This is an opportunity to get your novel seen by a top agent, so well worth considering. Skipper, who is something of an expert on these matters, says two weeks is plenty of time to polish those 5,000 words.

Words of Wisdom from Sir David Attenborough


We are all aware of how talented Sir David Attenborough is, but an article in last week’s Telegraph Magazine described his attention to detail where the written word is concerned. Two weeks before filming begins, he is sent the finished scripts – which he then rewrites.

“I’m not unknown to have spent a whole afternoon at least on the first 30 seconds of a script, because you have to get it right” he told Alastair Fothergill, his long-time collaborator. “I enjoy polishing words.”

So there you have it. Advice from a master. A whole afternoon is not too long to spend polishing thirty seconds of script.

Writing Competitions with Closing Dates in March


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Creating something from nothing is an art, whether you use words, oils, water colours, embroidered quilts or molten metal – so use your imagination to conjure up a story for one of the following competitions. It may not be a long list this month, but you only need one to win…

Searchlight Writing for Children Award for illustrated picture book texts. Prizes: £500, agent/publisher pitch book publication. Entry fee: £9. Closing date: 1 March. Details: http://www.searchlightawards.co.uk/

Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,200 words. Prizes: £200, £100, £75. Entry fee: £5. Closing date: 10 March. Details: http://eveshamfestivalofwords.org

Fowey Festival Short Story Competition 2023 has the theme of: ‘I’ll Never be Young Again‘, which is the title of Daphne Du Maurier’s second novel, published in 1932. There are prizes of £250 and £100. Enter original, unpublished short stories of up to 1,500 words. The entry fee is £10. The closing date is 5 March. Details: http://www.foweyfestival.com

The DRF Writers Award 2023 for first-time prose writers has a £10,000 prize and is for writers within the British Commonwealth and Eire. Submissions should be of 15,000-20,000 words of a work in progress, which may be fiction or nonfiction, by debut authors. To be eligible, writers must not previously have published or self-published a full-length prose book, and must not be agented or under contract to a publisher. Entrants may have published a poetry collection. The winner will receive £10,000 and each runner up will receive £1,000. Include a synopsis and brief biuographical note with each entry. Closing date 31 March. Website: http://www.deborahrogersfoundation.org/writers-award.

BBC National Short Story Award 2023 is inviting entries for stories up to 8,000 words with a £15,000 first prize. A further four shortlisted entrants will each receive £600 and the five winning stories will be published in an anthology. To enter, submit original fiction no longer than 8,000 words. Writers must have a previous record of publication of creative writing in the UK. Entry is free. Each writer may enter only one story. Closing date is 13 March. Details: https://writ.rs/bbcnssa23

I Am Writing Competitions: I Am Writing Crime/Thriller Competition for the first 3,500 words of any type of adult, MG or YA crime/thriller novel, judged on commercial appeal plus a one page synopsis. Prizes: £100 plus 30 minute on-line consultation with Kate Nash Literary Agency; £50 plus 500 word written feedback; £25 plus 500 words of written feedback. I Am Writing Historical Competition for the first 3,500 words of any type of historical novel for adults. A one-page synopsis is also required. Prizes: £100 plus 30 minute on-line consultation with Clare Coombes from The Liverpool Literary Agency; £50 plus 500 words of written feedback; £25, plus 500 words of written feedback. I Am Writing Romance Competition for the first 3,500 words of any type of romance novel for adults. A one page synopsis is also required. Prizes: £100 plus a 30 minute on-line consultation with Clare Coombes from The Liverpool Literary Agency; £30 plus 500 words of written feedback; £25 plus 500 words of written feedback. I Am Writing Picture Books Competition for up to two texts of no more than 600 words each, in prose or verse, for sharing with children aged 3-6. Please do not include illustration notes in your entry. Prizes: £200, a one-to-one Zoom editorial consultation with the Little Tiger editorial team plus a £50 book token; £30 book token plus written editorial feedback; £20 book token plus written editorial feedback. Entry fee in each case: £11. Closing date for all competitions: 31 March. Details: http://www.iaminprint.co.uk “Reasons to Enter: last year representation was offered to multiple writers as a result of entering. There is no shortlist or longlist, so winners aren’t kept waiting and other entrants don’t feel the blow twice.”

The Henshaw Short Story Competition 2023 for stories up to 2,000 words. Prizes: £200, £100, £50, with winners published on the Henshawpress website and in their next anthology.Entry: £6 by Paypal or by cheque to G. Jennings. Optional Critiques a further £14. Profits since 2019 have gone to Medcins sans Frontiers, so entering is contributing to the best of causes. Details: https://www.henshawpress.co.uk. (Note – this is worth entering. One of ninevoices won their first prize several years back and was published in their anthology!)


Now for something a bit different from our usual list of competitions. Casablanca is an imprint of Source Books and wants submissions from writers with ‘something fresh to offer in the genre of romance’. All subgenres are welcome, including contemporary, romantic suspense, erotic, historical romance prior to 1900 and the paranormal. They are looking for a protaganist the reader can connect with emotionally and a love interest the reader can fall in love with. Submissions should be a completed manuscript of 85,000-100,000 words They need a 2-3 page synopsis and a 2-3 sentence hook. Full details can be found on their website: https://read.sourcebooks.com/submissions-casablanca.html

As always, we urge you to double check that the competition is still available and all entry details before committing yourself.

Good Luck.

In It for the Long Haul


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Long, long ago, I held in my trembling hand the very first payment I received for something I had written. It was not a work of fiction – being a light-hearted article about becoming a step-parent for the long-defunct women’s magazine SHE – but it made me think I could perhaps call myself a writer.

Instead of purchasing a yacht (the cheque was for a modest £80) I marked the occasion by buying a limited edition print by the French artist Alberto Mozziconacci which sits, to this day, on the wall of our dining room.

Years have passed. Decades. And I am still awaiting fame and fortune. Yet if I am ever feeling downhearted about my ambitions I only have to look at La Soupière to remind myself that as long as I am still writing I can call myself a writer.

Writing competitions with closing dates in February


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Isn’t it time you entered a competition? (says Snowy)

Nine of this month’s competitions are free to enter (I’ve typed this fact in bold wherever it applies!) so do take a look. I really hope you’ll find one or two (at least) that will inspire you to have a go. Also, I’ve added in a couple of extras whose deadlines fall early in March. As always, please check websites, in case details have changed.

  • Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award for a short story of up to 8,000 words showing the near future (no more than 50–60 years out) of manned space exploration (e.g. about moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, space elevators, asteroid mining, AI, nano-technology, realistic spacecraft, heroics, sacrifice, adventure). FREE ENTRY. Prizes: publication on Baen Books’ main website at pro rates for first prize, plus prize packages for first, second and third. Closing date: 1st February. Details: https://www.baen.com/contest-jbmssa
  • Papatango New Writing Prize for unperformed full-length playscript. FREE ENTRY. Prizes: £7,000 + winning script produced by Papatango in a full run at Bush Theatre (London). 4 x £500 + option to have play presented as reading. Closing date: 5th February. Details: https://papatango.co.uk/new-writing-prize/
  • Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for first 40–50 pages of an unpublished novel (plus 3–5-page synopsis of remainder) by a woman. Entry fee: £12. Prize: £1,500. Closing date: 10th February (or 8th February if sponsored as low-income writer). Details: https://www.fictionprize.co.uk/
  • Spotlight First Novel Competition for a one-page synopsis and first page of an unpublished novel. Entry fee: £16. Prize: mentoring package from Adventures in Fiction, a dedicated Spotlight page on their website, and first page + synopsis posted online. Closing date: 14th February. Details: https://adventuresinfiction.co.uk/spotlight-1st-novel
  • National Flash Fiction Day Microfiction Competition for up to 100 words on any theme. Entry fee: £2 for one entry, £3.75 for two, £5.25 for three. Prizes: £150, £100, £50, £20 x 7 + publication in anthology + free print copy of anthology. Closing date: 15th February. Details: https://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/index.php/competition
  • Northern Writers’ Awards for work including poetry, fiction, narrative non-fiction and YA by writers in the north of England; also by those originating from a working-class background, final-year/graduates of Northumbria University, young writers between 11–14 and 15–18, and those with ‘limited opportunities to pursue their talent’. FREE ENTRY. Prizes: different for each award, but including cash prizes and mentoring support. Closing date: 22nd February. Details: https://newwritingnorth.com/northern-writers-awards/awards
  • Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award for a crime novel. Submit the first 3,000 words plus synopsis (up to 1,500 words). Entry fee: £36. Prize: £500; also finalists on shortlist receive brief professional assessment + work will be sent to UK publishers and agents. Closing date: 28th February. Details: https://thecwa.co.uk/awards-and-competitions/the-daggers/debut-dagger-rules
  • Exeter Writers’ Short Story Competition for stories of any genre and theme (but not children’s) up to 3,000 words. Entry fee: £7. Prizes; £700, £350, £200, £100 for a Devon writer. Closing date: 28th February. Details: www.exeterwriters.org.uk
  • Flash 500 Short Story Competition for short stories of any genre (including by and for children) from 1,000 to 3,000 words. Entry fee: £7, £12 for two, £16 for three, £20 for four. Prizes: £500, £200, £100. Closing date: 28th February. Details:  https://flash500.com/short-stories
  • Kelpies Prize is for writers living in Scotland only. Entries must include (i) the first five chapters of a book for children (either fiction or non-fiction) OR a whole picture book story, (ii) synopsis, (iii) a short piece of writing for children (1,000–3,000 words) that begins, ‘It wasn’t my fault!’ [character name] said. ‘Let me tell you what really happened …’, (iv) information about you. FREE ENTRY. Prize: £500 plus nine months’ mentoring and consideration for publishing contract with Floris Books. Closing date: 28th February. Details: https://discoverkelpies.co.uk/kelpies-prize-writing
  • Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition (open to writers worldwide) for short stories on any topic up to 2,000 words. Entry fee: £10. Prizes: £3,000, £500, £250. Write Mango Award: £300. Isobel Lodge Award open to unpublished writers living in Scotland: £750. Also offer of publication of top 20 stories (or more) in next anthology. Closing date: 28th February. Details: https://www.scottishartstrust.org/short-story
  • UK Film Festival Script Writing Competitions for (i) 3-minute scripts (3–4 pp), (ii) 10-minute screenplay, and (iii) feature film scripts. Entry fee: (i) 3-minute script – £20, (ii) 10-minute screenplay – £35, (iii) feature film script – £60. Prizes: 3-minute script will be produced. 10-minute and feature scripts will be circulated to production companies and financiers. All winning scripts will be supported by UK Film Festival for chance of production and promotion. Winners and runners-up will receive the latest version of Final Draft 12 (value: $250) + free script listing and placement on Inktip. Closing date: 28th February. Details: https://filmfreeway.com/TheUKFilmFestivalScriptCompetitions
  • The Welkin Writing Prize for narrative prose up to 400 words. FREE ENTRY. Prizes: £250 + Writers’ HQ membership, £120 + book voucher, £60 + book. Closing date: 28th February. Details: https://www.mattkendrick.co.uk/welkin-prize
  • The Poetry Business International Book & Pamphlet Competition for a collection of 20 pages of poetry. Entry fee: £29. Prizes: 2 x £700 + publication by Smith|Doorstop Books + in The North magazine + reading at The Wordsworth Trust + a place on a residential course at Moniack Mhor. Six runners-up will receive publication in a feature in The North magazine + online reading + £100 each. Closing date: 1st March. Details: https://poetrybusiness.co.uk/competitions/the-international-book-pamphlet-competition
  • The Poetry Business New Poets Prize for a collection of 12 pages of poems from writers aged 17 to 24. Entry fee: £10. Prizes: Two winners will receive editorial support for publication by Smith|Doorstop + their work will appear in a feature in The North magazine. Two runners-up will receive mentoring + their work will appear in The North magazine. Winners and runners-up will also receive a subscription to The North magazine and be invited to give a reading organised by The Poetry Business. Closing date: 1st March. Details: https://poetrybusiness.co.uk/competitions/new-poets-prize
Just suppose that winning a competition meant getting your novel published. That’s what happened to Maggie when she won the Historical Writers’ 2020 Unpublished Novel Award with The Servant. Could it be your turn next?

Jennifer Moore


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It has been said that the difference between a professional writer and an amateur is that the professional never gives up. This inspirational guest piece by the talented – and persistent – Jennifer Moore is proof of how true this is.

I’ve been following Ninevoices since winning the British Czech & Slovak Writing Competition back in 2016, so it’s lovely to be invited to contribute a guest post. Thank you, Maggie!

I often describe myself as ‘a writer of two halves’, writing psychological thrillers as Jennifer Moore and funny children’s books as Jenny Moore. In truth, it’s not quite such a neat divide as that on a day-to-day basis, with ongoing projects in both camps, and it’s even harder to separate the two when it comes to explaining how my thrillers began life…

2017 started well for me, with not just one but two offers from agents for one of my children’s books. After much careful deliberation, I chose to sign with the agent who also represented adult books and promptly set about writing one – a creepy story about a grieving, pregnant woman who moves into a new house on Crenellation Lane with her husband, hoping that a fresh start will help her get over her twin sister’s death. She’s plunged, instead, into a nightmarish double mystery, with someone targeting the house from the outside and increasingly spooky goings-on within it. The novel was named after the street she lives on, Crenellation Lane, a name that popped into my head seemingly at random and refused to leave.

My agent was encouraging, offering helpful suggestions after reading the first few chapters and synopsis, and I threw myself into the project. It proved to be the perfect distraction from the waiting game while my children’s book was out on submission… a children’s book which didn’t, in the end, find a home, despite some great feedback from publishers.

By the autumn of that year, Crenellation Lane was approaching completion. Winning a Mslexia writing competition, with a first prize of a complete manuscript assessment from Daniel Goldsmith, proved to be the perfect impetus for getting it over the finish line. The prize was only valid for a month, so I pushed onto the end of the book and gave it a quick polish before sending it off. The feedback was really encouraging – the editor described it as a ‘well-structured and gripping mystery underpinned by strong themes of love, loss, life and death’. He wrote, ‘an emotional and action-packed roller-coaster, the novel is highly entertaining, humorous and fast paced,’ pointing out a few final points where the tension could be heightened even more. I thought I was onto a winner…

Fast-forward to early 2018, however, and my agent and I were no longer together. I was gutted. A tough six months or so followed, when nothing seemed to go right on the writing front, before I found my wonderful children’s publisher, Maverick Arts Publishing.
Crenellation Lane was left on the back burner while I concentrated on my middle grade books. But every now and then I’d spot a call for submissions from a publisher in Writing Magazine and dust it off again, not wanting to give up on it entirely. One editor said it was the best submission she’d read that year, but it was, for various reasons, still a no. Months later, however, she got back in touch to say she’d often thought about Crenellation Lane since, and could she read it again? This led to a phone call and some fresh work on the novel before it eventually made it to the acquisitions stage… where it was turned down.

Buy ‘The Woman Before’ on Amazon

In the summer of 2021, after more near-misses and a change of title to The Viewing, I came across HQ Digital, a branch of Harper Collins who accepted non-agented submissions. Off it went again. A few months later I received an email to say the book was currently with an editor who was enjoying it, and could I confirm that it was still available? I duly confirmed, trying not to get my hopes up too much. It was difficult not to though, especially when I received an email from the editor herself, saying that she was taking it to the next acquisitions meeting and could I send ideas for a second book…

Unfortunately, the second book idea didn’t go down as well, but the editor offered to chat through the market and other potential ideas with me on a Zoom call. During the intervening days I came up with the outline of another book entirely, The Retreat, about a writer on a writing retreat who finds herself the target of creepy incidents taken from her own book. The new idea proved much more popular and that was the one that went to acquisitions, along with Crenellation Lane/The Viewing.

After what felt like a very long couple of weeks, the editor (henceforth known as my editor, Becky!) was back in touch to say that everyone loved both books and they’d be thrilled for me to join the HQ Digital family. We had a Zoom meeting to talk through the next stages of the process and then, once the contract was signed, we were off! It’s been an absolute joy working with Becky (and Abi, my current editor while Becky’s on maternity leave) and the HQ team. I’m so pleased my books found their way to them. I even got to go to the big Harper Collins party last summer at the V&A and meet everyone in person.

Book One, now retitled as The Woman Before, came out in eBook and audio in July 2022, and I celebrated at home, with Covid! The paperback version came out in September with a Covid-free launch at my local bookshop. It was spotted in Bella magazine too, which was exciting! Book Two, now called The Wilderness Retreat, is out in eBook and audio on 22nd February and in paperback on 27th April. It’s changed a bit along the way – my main character is now a film composer on a wilderness retreat in Sweden – but the creepy events, the unwanted return of a figure from her past, and the big final twist are all included. There
have been some wonderful early reviews on NetGalley so I’m really excited for its release.

Buy / pre-order ‘The Wilderness Retreat’ on Amazon.

Jennifer has apologised for writing ‘such a long post’, explaining that the above is very much a pared down version of events. But readers of this blog appreciate how tortuous the route to publication can be and will find her experience both fascinating and encouraging.

We wish her well with the launch of The Wilderness Retreat, which is currently available to pre-order on Amazon. I shall certainly be buying a copy!

Niche writing competitions


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Maggie Davies and Sarah Dawson do such sterling work for us each month listing writing competitions for us to enter.  Some of them are quite niche – some nicher than others.   

You may wonder how these comps actually work out.  Well, here’s the inside story of one of them last year. It certainly categorises as niche – perhaps it’s the nichest – and it’s the one I’m most involved with, the annual comp of the British Czech & Slovak Association.  The subject matter for entries can be either (1) links between Britain and the Czech and/or Slovak Republics, at any time in their history or (2) society in those Republics since the Velvet Revolution of 1989.  Each year there’s a suggested (but not compulsory) theme.

Freedom was the suggested theme in this year’s BCSA writing competition – freedom in any of its forms.   The entrants showed their usual ingenuity in interpreting that. We took to the skies with a Czechoslovak pilot fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain.  In another entry we mused on the excitement and the hopes in Czechoslovakia when freedom was restored in 1989, and on the reality and disappointments since that great time (but ending, I’m glad to say, on an optimistic note).  In a third entry we saw how the son of a well-off family in pre-war Czechoslovakia found his freedom working in a squalid farmhouse in southern Bohemia and then in a quarry in Derbyshire.  In a fourth we joined an alcoholic gambler pondering the meaning of freedom in a Czech bar.

Non-freedom entries included our very first venture into the world of speedway, and a comic playlet showing a Czechoslovak Jewish refugee talking her way into a job at Roedean School in 1939.

Deciding on the winners is always difficult.   But the judges managed it.  Thank you, judges!

Second prize, winning £150, went to Liz Kohn, with a piece called Two Worlds.  Liz has been researching her family history and in particular that of her father and his first wife, Alice Glasnerová.  Her current research is into Alice’s trial and its relationship to the Slánský show trials of 1952 in Communist Czechoslovakia.  Liz’s entry tells some of this story.  

This year’s winner – taking home £400 – was Tereza Pultarová. Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, originally from Prague.   She has degrees from Charles University and a Master’s in Science from the International Space University in Strasbourg. Her winning entry was The Final Incarnation – Chapter 1.  It is the first chapter of a novel Tereza has written, whichdeals with growing up in 1990s post-communist Czechoslovakia, and explores how traumas from the Communist years live on through family dysfunction and alcoholism.

It was so good to be back in a proper setting for the presentation of the prize this year.  In 2020 we presented the prize via Zoom, during one of the BCSA’s other events.  Last year we had to do it by post.  This year I had the privilege of marking Tereza’s success at our resumed Annual Dinner at the May Fair Hotel in London on November 23, as in the first photo above.  (Thanks to Erik Weisenpacher for the photos.)

The winning entries (and a selection of the others) are published in the Assocation’s magazine, the British Czech & Slovak Review.

We’ll run the competition again in 2023.  Watch our website, social media and the Review for details. 

Writing competitions to enter in January


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Start the new year the way you mean to go on – by entering a competition (or two). There are so many exciting ones to choose from this month and I’ve added in a couple of extras whose deadlines fall early in February. I hope you’ll find lots to inspire you here. As always, please check websites, in case details have changed.

Exeter Novel Prize for first 10,000 words of a novel not under contract, including 500-word synopsis. Entry fee: £20. Prizes: £1,000 + trophy, 5 x £100 + paperweight. Closing date: 1st January. Details: www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk

The Charles Causley International Poetry Competition for a poem on any subject up to 40 lines. Entry fee: £7.50 for one poem, £5.50 for subsequent poems. Prizes: £2,000 + one-week writing residency at Cyprus Well, Causley’s former home in Launceston; £250; £100. Closing date: 1st January. Details: www.causleytrust.org/competition-2022

The European Writing Prize 2023 for unpublished short fiction between 1,500 to 3,500 words, incorporating the notion of anxiety (however you see fit). Entry fee: Free. Prizes: €50 + lifetime membership of the European Society of Literature + publication in its quarterly journal. Closing date: 1st January. Details: www.litsoceu.com/writing-prize

Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry for up to three poems. Entry fee: $20. Prize: $1,000 + subscription to Bayou Magazine. Closing date: 2nd January. Details: www.bayoumagazine.org

Gemini Magazine Poetry Open Prize for poems of any subject, length and style. Entry fee: $9 for up to three poems. Prizes: $1,000, $100, 4 x $25, + publication. Closing date: 3rd January. Details: www.gemini-magazine.com

Orna Ross Green Stories Novel Prize for three chapters (first, last and one that best showcases how your novel meets their green stories criteria) plus synopsis. They also require you to read one of the books from their Green Stories project and will ask you three questions about it when you submit. Free entry. Prizes: £1,000, £500, plus discounted appraisal from Daniel Goldsmith Associates. Closing date: 3rd January. Details: www.greenstories.org.uk

Discoveries Programme (a writers’ development programme run in partnership with the Women’s Prize Trust, Audible and Curtis Brown) invites women resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland to submit opening (including any prologue) of a fiction novel for adults (not children or YA) of up to 10,000 words and a synopsis of no more than 1,000 words. Free entry. Prizes: (i) winner – offer of representation by Curtis Brown, £5,000, gratis place on Discoveries course, studio session with Audible; (ii) scholar – gratis place on Curtis Brown 3-month novel course, mentoring session, gratis place on Discoveries course, studio session with Audible; (iii) Four shortlisted entrants – gratis place on Curtis Brown 6-week course, mentoring session, gratis place on Discoveries course, studio session with Audible; (iv) ten longlisted entrants – £50 discount on a Curtis Brown 6-week course, gratis place on Discoveries course. All sixteen of the above will also receive an annual Audible subscription and invitation to the Women’s Prize Trust’s summer 2023 party. Closing date: 15th January. Details: https://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/discoveries

Bath Flash Fiction Novella in Flash Award for flash fiction novellas between 6,000 and 18,000 words. Entry fee: £16. Prizes: £300, 2 x £100, publication. Closing date: 15th January. Details:  www.bathflashfictionaward.com/novella-entry

Retreat West First Chapter Competition for first chapter of a novel on any theme up to 3,000 words. Entry fee: £10. Prizes: feedback and review. Closing date: 29th January. Details: www.retreatwest.co.uk

Magma Poetry Competition for poems on any subject in two categories: (i) 11–50 lines, (ii) up to 10 lines. Entry fee: £5, £4 for second poem, £3.50 for third and each subsequent. Prizes: (i) £1,000, £300, £150, + publication. Ditto for (ii). Plus 5 special mentions for each. Closing date: 31st January. Details: www.magmapoetry.com/magma-2022-23-poetry-competition

British Haiku Society Awards for three categories: (i) Haiku, (ii) Tanka, (iii) Haibun. Entry fee for up to 3 Haiku OR 3 Tanka OR 3 Haibun: £5.50. Prizes: Haiku – £125 x 2, £50 x 2. Tanka – £125 x 2, £50 x 2. Haibun – £125, £50. All award-winners will be published in the May 2023 issue of BHS journal Blithe Spirit. Closing date: 31st January. Details: http://britishhaikusociety.org.uk/2022/09/call-for-entries-bhs-awards-2022/

WriteMentor Novel and Picture Book Awards for (i) children’s novel (chapter book, middle grade, young adult) – first 3,000 words and 1-page synopsis; and/or (ii) children’s picture book – whole, completed manuscript. Entry fee: £12. Prizes 6 months’ access to Spark, WM’s 121 mentoring service with published children’s authors + 1-year membership to the Hub, WM’s online community platform. Runner-up prize: 1-year membership to the Hub. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://write-mentor.com/awards/writementor-novel-picture-book-awards-2023/

The Cheshire Prize for Literature by writers born, living, studying or working in Cheshire (past or present) for a short story (up to 1,500 words) OR poem (maximum 100 lines) OR children’s story or poem (same lengths) OR script (max 15-minute). Also entries of poetry/short stories are invited from children aged either 4–11 or 11–17. Entry: free. Prizes: cash for each over-18 category. Book tokens for children aged 4–17. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://www1.chester.ac.uk/press-office/cheshire-prize-literature

Kent & Sussex Poetry Society Open Poetry Competition for poems up to 40 lines. Entry fee: £5 per poem or, for three or more, £4 each. Prizes: £1,000, £300, £100, 4 x £50. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://kentandsussexpoetry.com/kent-sussex-poetry-society-open-poetry-competition-2023/

Lancashire Authors’ Association Flash Fiction Competition for a story of exactly 100 words. Entry fee: £2, or £5 for a maximum of three. Prize: £100. Closing date: 31st January. Details: http://www.lancashireauthorsassociation.co.uk/Open_Comp.html

Martin Lucas Haiku Award for original unpublished haiku. Entry fee: £5 for up to 5 haiku, £1 each additional haiku. Prizes: £100, £50, 2 x £25, + publication in Presence Magazine. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://haikupresence.org/award

Teignmouth Poetry Festival Competition for poems up to 40 lines. Entry fee: Online – £4.50 (£3.50 each additional entry). By post – £4 (£3 each additional entry). Prizes: £600, £300, £200. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://www.poetryteignmouth.com/competition-2023.html

Virginia Prize for Fiction for unpublished novels, at least 45,000 words, by women. Entry fee: £25. Prize: Development and publication of winning novel. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://www.aurorametro.com/virginia-prize-for-fiction

Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize for a memoir of up to 4,000 words of your life. Entry fee: €18 (€11 subsequent entries). Prizes: €1,000; 2 x €300 + online writing course. The best 10 memoirs will also be published in the Fish Anthology 2023. Closing date: 31st January. Details: https://www.fishpublishing.com/competition/short-memoir-contest

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award for a short story of up to 8,000 words showing the near future (no more than 50–60 years out) of manned space exploration (e.g. about moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, space elevators, asteroid mining, AI, nano-technology, realistic spacecraft, heroics, sacrifice, adventure). Entry: free. Prizes: publication on Baen Books’ main website at pro rates for first prize, plus prize packages for first, second and third. Closing date: 1st February. Details: https://www.baen.com/contest-jbmssa

Papatango New Writing Prize for unperformed full-length playscript. Free Entry. Prizes: £7,000 + winning script produced by Papatango in a full run at Bush Theatre (London). 4 x £500 + option to have play presented as reading. Closing date: 5th February. Details: www.papatango.co.uk

A nudge from Snowy to get writing!