Writing Competitions to Enter in June


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I offer no apologies for including this handsome young beau, delighting the ladies exploring The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells over the Bank Holiday weekend. Living in such a delightful historic town may also explain my own weakness for stories set in the 18th century.

The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2023 for full-length novels, 30,000-80,000 words, for ages 7-18. Prizes: publication deal worth £10,000; editorial reports. Entry fee: £20. Deadline: 1 June. Details: http://www.chickenhousebooks.com/submissions

Farnham Flash Fiction Competition 2023 for original, unpublished flash fiction of up to 500 words. Prizes: £75 and £25, with a special prize of £25 for the best flash fiction featuring Farnham. All longlisted entries will be offered publication in the competition booklet. Entry fee £5 per flash fiction. Closing date: 17 June. Details. https://www.farnhamfringefestival.org/farnham_flash-2023.html

Wells Festival of Literature 2023 has four categories. Open poetry: the first prize is £1,000, with second and third prizes of £500 and £250, and £100 for the best poem by a local poet. Entry fee £6. Short Story: the prizes are £750, £300 and £200, with a local prize of £100. Enter original, unpublished short stories between 1,000 and 2,00 words. Entry fee £6. Book for Children: the prizes are £750, £300 and £200. Enter the first two chapters, or 20 pages, and a two-page synopsis, for a book for children from age 7 to YA. Entry fee £6. Details: https://www.wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk/2023-international-competitions/

Moth Short Story Prize 2023 for unpublished fiction up to 3,000 words. Prizes: the first prize winner will receive 3,000 euros; the second prize is a writing retreat at Circelof Misse and 250 euros; the third prize is 1,000 euros. The three winning entries will appear in the autumn issue of The Moth. Entry fee: 15 euros per story. Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.themothmagazine.com/

South Warwickshire Literature Festival Creative Writing Competition are looking for up to 800 words of prose (fiction or non-fiction) or up to 40 lines of poetry. £50 winning prize in each category plus the opportunity to read the work at the Festival. Entry £3. Deadline: 30 June. Details: https://southwarwickshireliteraryfestival.com

To Hull and Back humorous short story competition. 2,500 words maximum. Top prize £1,200. All shortlisted entrants receive a cash prizew and re published in an anthology. 40 prizes on offer, with a total prize pot of £3,860. Deadline 30 June. Details: http://www.christopherfielden.com

2023 BCSA Writing Competition. Marriage and Divorce – prompted by the 30th anniversary of the split between Czechia and Slovakia, that is the suggested (but not compulsory) theme this this year’s competition. If you choose to write on that theme it can be related to the Velvet Divorce but it needn’t be – it could be something on a much more individual or local level. As stated, the theme is not compulsory. What is compulsory is that entries must deal with either (1) the links between Britain and the Czech and.or Slovak Republics, at any time in their history, or (2) society in those Republics since 1989. Entries should be in English and not more than 2,000 words long. Fiction or fact – either is welcome. The first prize of £400 and the second prize of £150 will be awarded to the best pieces of original fiction written in English. Topics can include, for example, history, politics, sport, the sciences, economics, the arts or literature. The winner will (if he or she wishes) be presented with the prize at the BCSA’s Annual Dinner In London in November 2023. The two prizewinning entries will be published in the British Czech and Slovac Review. Entrants do not need to be members of the BCSA. Closing date: 30 June. ENTRY IS FREE. The competition will be judged by a panel of experts. Submission guidelines (which you are advised to study and adhere to) are available from the Competition Administrator at prize@bcsa.co.uk

The 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri Writing Prize for fiction, life-writing and poetry. Three winners will each receive £1,000 and their work will be published in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will be published online. Writers entering must not have published a full-length book of fiction, life-writing or poetry. All shortlisted writers will be offered either the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in association with The Literary Consultancy and a conversation with Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency. Send original unpublished work no longer than 3,000 words. Entries must be self-contained, ie not an extract from a longer novel or memoir. A single poetry entry may consist of up to three poems, total count up to 3,00 words. Entry fee £10 for a single entry and £16 for a double entry. Closing date 30 June. Details: http://www.wasafiri.org/new-writing-prize/

Do remember to check everything before entering a competition, in case of last-minute changes or cancellations.

Good luck!

Thoughts on Jane Austen’s Husbands – and why Clever Men marry Silly Women


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I make no apologies for repeating this article written by fellow-author Tanya van Hasselt back in 2017. Even today it is periodically referred to by fans of Jane Austen and of Tanya’s own contemporary books about marriage and family life.

‘Men of sense do not want silly wives’ says the wonderfully sensible Mr Knightley, that infinitely dependable hero whom everybody in Highbury – and Jane Austen’s readers – know to be an infallible guide. But who is really speaking here? Is Jane Austen having a secret laugh with us behind Mr Knightley’s back? After all, his own brother, astute and perceptive as he is shown to be, has married Emma’s sister Isabella who ‘was not a woman of strong understanding or any quickness.’

Clever men have a habit of marrying silly somen in Jane Austen novels. Not that they mean to; it’s as if Jane Austen observed from life that sensible, rational men can be remarkably stupid in matters of the heart. Mr Bennet married without taking the trouble to discover that underneath the sexual attractions of youth and beauty his wife was ‘a woman of mean understanding, little information and uncertain temper.’ Not really a man of sense then, one can’t help thinking.

Mr Palmer has fallen into the same trap: ‘through some unaccountable bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly woman’. Is the ironic inclusion of the word ‘unaccountable’ Jane Austen having another sly laugh at men?

A woman’s appearance is almost always what initially attracts and matters most to Jane Austen’s men. Even Mr Darcy, who we suspect has thought much on the subject, says of Elizabeth ‘she is not handsome enough to tempt me’, before eyeing her up and down and deciding that her ‘figure is light and pleasing’.

Sometimes even the possession of beauty or sex appeal doesn’t explain why silly women secure men of sense as husbands. ‘Mrs Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose sociekty can raise no other emotion than surprise at their being any men in the world who could like them enough to marry them. She had neither beauty, genius, accomplishment nor manner.’ But this excessively boring woman who talks of nothing bu her gowns has still managed to get a husband. Jane Austen’s explanation is simple and sarcastic enough. ‘The air of a gentlewoman, a great deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and a trifling turn of mind were all that could account for her being the choice of a sensible,intelligent man like Mr Allen.’

So how do these men of sense conduct themselves when they realise that while they may not have wanted a silly wife, they have got one by mistake? Honourably it appears, though Jane Austen is not in the business of writing explicitly about extra marital forays. Mr Bennet, we are told, ‘was not of a disposition to seek comfort, for the disappointment which his own imprudence had brought on in any of the pleasures which too often console the unfortunate for their folly or their vice. He was fond of the country and of books; and from these tastes had arisen his principal enjoyments’.

Reading offers itself as an escape. Mr Bennet shuts himself up in his library; Mr Palmer buries himself in the newspaper. Lady Middleton, snobbish and less amiable than her sister Charlotte but equally vacuous ‘exerted herself to ask Mr Palmer if there was any news in the paper. “No, none at all,” he replied and read on.’

Silly women in Jane Austen novels do not care for reading. It is quite impossible to picture Mrs Bennet holding a book. Lady Middleton dislikes the Dashwood girls because they are well-read. Miss Bingley pretends to read, but only picks up a book because it is the second volume of the one Darcy is reading. Characters who don’t read are shown to be ill-educated and superficial.; Mr Darcy may sound intolerably condescending when he pronounces that a lady should improve her mind by exgensive reading, but it is clear that Jane Austen is generally in agreement with this principle, even if she can’t resist poking fun at its unfortunate effects in Mary Bennet.

These men of sense who marry silly women may resort to grumpy rudeness (Mr Palmer) or ridicule and mockery (Mr Bennet) or playing at cards (Mr Allen) but Jane Austen largely ignores any serious umhappiness in their marriages. As for the wives, silliness and good temper sometimes offers its own protection. Charlotte Palmer, pretty and giggling, prattles away, her sheen of stupidity sealing her off from the consciousness of what is going through her husband’s head.

In Jane Austen’s day marriage was the necessary goal for women, and understandably enough they had to use every weapon they possessed to achieve it. ‘My aunt Philips wants you so to get husbands, you can’t think’ – Mrs Bennet, Charlotte Palmer and Mrs Allen succeeded in this at any rate, so you could say they have the last laugh.

Jane Austen is careful to show us these disappointed husbands being thoughtful to other characters if not to their wives. But there is a touch of cruelty in her suggestion that stupid women deserve all they get or are too thick to have real feelings, and should be regarded as mere figures of fun. Although Elizabeth Bennet knows that her father’s treatment of her mother is ‘reprehensible’, as readers we are encouraged to forget about this in our enjoyment of his wit.

These unequal marriages give us some of the funniest scenes in Jane Austen’s novels. If we want a more sombre, serious look at the regret suffered by a man of sense marrying in haste we have to wait for Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters with its brilliant creation of Mrs Gibson – but that penetrating combination of comedy and tragedy deserves a post of its own.

Tanya’s own contemporary fiction about family life is currently on special offer at Amazon. The winner of a Barbara Pym Centenary Prize, she writes with “sly humour and acute insight into human frailty. Why not treat yourself?

All Desires Known

£3.95 for the paperback. £0.99 for the kindle.

Of Human Telling

£3.83 for the paperback. £0.99 for the kindle.

Writing Competitions with a Closing Date in May


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May is a big month for those with novels they hope to get noticed – as you will see from below. No excuses for not at least entering one of them.

Colm Toibin International Short Story Award for stories up to 2,000 words. Prizes: 700, 500 and 300 Euros. Entry fee: 10 Euros. Closing date: 1 May. Details: http://www.wexfordliteraryfestival.com

Eoin Colfer International Children’s Short Story Award. Stories for children maximum 2,000 words. Prizes: 500 Euros. Entry fee: 10 Euros. Deadline: 1 May. Details: http://www.wexfordliteraryfestival.com

The Yeovil Literary Prize 2023 is inviting entries. Novel: the prizes are £1,250, £300 and £125. Enter up to 10,000 words, including a 500-word synopsis. Entry fee: £14.50. Short story: the prizes are £600, £250, £125. Enter stories up to 2,000 words. Entry fee: £8. Poetry up to 40 lines: the prizes are £600, £250, £125. Children/Young Adult Novel: the prizes are £600, £250, £125. Enter 3,000 words plus a 500-word synopsis. Writing Without Restriction: prizes are £250, £125 and £75 for original unpublished work in the category for inventive/fun/different writing. Entry fee: £6. Closing date for all categories: 31 May. Details: https://www.yeovilprize.co.uk/

The MTP Short Story Competition invites entries of original stories up to 3,000 words. The winner will receive £1,000 and there are second and third prizes of £500 and £250. Fiver runners up will each receive £50. All winners will be published in the MTP 2023 Anthology, the title of which will be based on the winning entry. Entry fee: £8. Closing date: 31 May. Details: http://www.mtp.agency/cinoetutuib

First Novel Prize for unpublished novels is asking for up to 5,000 words, including a synopsis. Prizes are: £1,000 for the winner, and £500 for the runner-up. Deadline 31 May. Details: https://www.firstnovel.co.uk/

Blue Pencil First Novel Award wants the first 5,000 words of your novel, plus a synopsis and a cover letter. First prize is £1,000 plus an agent introduction; second prize is £500 plus an agent introduction; and one Highly Commended entry will receive £150 plus an agent introduction. Deadline is 31 May. Details: https://bluepencilagency.com/bpa-first-novel-award-2023

The Bridport Prize. Short stories (up to 5,000 words), novels (first 8,000 words), poetry (up to 42 lines) and flash fiction (up to 250 words); new category this year for memoir. Prizes: £5,000, £1,000, £500 and ten £100 highly commended for short stories and poetry; £1,000, £500, £250, five £100 highly commendeds for flash fiction; £1.500, £750, plus editorial guidance. Novel: £1,500 + mentoring; runner-up £750 + package. Entry fee: £11 for flash, £12 poem, £14 short story, £24 novel. Closing date: 31 May. details: http://www.bridportprize.org.uk

Bath Children’s Novel Award. For unpublished and independently published writers of children’s novels. Send first 5,000 words and synopsis. Prizes: £3,000, manuscript feedback, Cornerstones online course worth £1,800. Entry fee: £29. Deadline: 31 May. Details: http://www.bathnovelaward.co.uk

Bath Novel Award. For the first 5,000 words of a novel, plus one-page synopsis. Prizes: 1st £3,000; 2nd – agent introductions and ms feedback. 3rd: Cornerstones online course. Entry: £9. Closing date: 31 May. Details: http://bathnovelaward.co.uk

Frome Festival Short Story for stories 1,200-2,200 words. Prizes: £400, £200, £100, with extra prizes for local entrants and young writers. Entry fee: £8 Deadline: 31 May. Details: http://www.fromeshortstorycompetition.co.uk

Page Turner Awards 2023. Book Award for authors with a published book (mainstream or independent press), win audiobook production and other publishing prizes worth £40,000. Screenplay Award for writers with a completed script. Win the script being optioned for film or an LA literary manager.Young Writers Award for writers aged 18-15. Entry fee: £30. Deadline 31 May. Details: https://pageturnerawards.com/

Details always need to be checked in case of errors or last-minute changes to details.

There are some wonderful opportunities for writers here, so make sure you don’t miss out! And here to inspire you is our lucky black cat, Gizzie, providing she hasn’t just accidentally deleted a draft masterpiece.

The Tail of a Writer’s Chair



After a mug of coffee, a writer’s most valued accessories are often a cat (or dog) and a comfortable chair on which to sit and tinker with some editing.

So when I spotted an affordable inlaid mahogany Edwardian chair in an antiques shop in Edenbridge High Street I didn’t hesitate. The shop was at one end of the street and my car parked at the other, by the recreation ground, but it was not much more than a five minute walk and the chair, though awkward to carry, was light. Mission accomplished, I loaded the chair into my car and drove smugly home. (Apology for the adverb)

The chair was considered a success by my other half and would also, I thought, be useful for meetings of ninevoices at my house when nine seats were required.

HOWEVER, my resident beta-reader, Gizzie, immediately decided the chair was hers. It was adjacent to a radiator and it showed off her tail to perfection. End of story…

Writing Competitions With a Closing Date in April


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Gizzie’s writing competition suggestions for April….and remember, black cats are lucky!

The Cheshire Novel Prize has a deadline of 1st April and is open to unpublished or self-published, unrepresented novelists of every genre including YA. Submit the first 5,000 words of your novel followed by a 500 word synopsis. The winner will receive £1,500 and one highly commended writer £500. They and all shortlisted authors will be invited to a lunch in Cheshire on 1st August. Entry is £27. Details: entry@cheshirenovelprize.com

The 2023 Bristol Short Story Prize is looking for unpublished stories up to 4,000 words. The first prize is £1,000 and there are second and third prizes of £500 and £250. Seventeen further shortlisted writers will each win £100. All twenty shortlisted entries will be published in Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology volume 16. Entry is £9 per story and the closing date is 26 April. Details: http://www.bristolprize.co.uk

The Desperate Literature Prize wants submissions of unpublished short fiction up to 2,000 words. The winner will receive 1,500 Euros, a week’s writing residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, a consultation with literary agent Charlotte Seymour from Johnson & Alcock, and a manuscript assessment with an editor from The Literary Consultancy. Two runners up will each receive 750 Euros and all shortlisted writers will be published in a Desperate Literature anthology and in one of Desperate Literature’s partner journals. They will also be invited to take part in a Desperate Literature Salon in Madrid, London or Edinburgh. One shortlisted writer will be invited to read at the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature, including a seven-day residency at The Writers’ House of Georgia and a travel stipend. The entry fee is 20 euros for the first story and 10 Euros for each additional story. Closing date: 16 April. Details: https://desperateliterature.com/prize/

The Bath Short Story Award has a maximum 2,200 word count and prizes of £1,200 for the winner, £300 for the second prize and £100 for the third prize. There is also a £100 Acorn Award for an unpublished writer. Entry is £9 and the deadline 24 April. Details: http://www.bathshortstoryaward.org/

Sitcom Mission is inviting original 15-minute sitcom comedy scripts with the potential to be made into a series of a minimum of six episodes and preferably a number of series. Scripts need exciting, relatable charcters who, along with their dialogue, should be the focus of the sitcom. Episodes should also have ‘an inciting incident’ central to the episode that sets the story rolling. A long list of scripts will be announced in June and the writers will receive feedback and be given two weeks to rewrite their script. Four scripts will then receive a live rehearsed reading at a showcase in June/July 2023 where industry professionals will decide the winner. Entry: £15 per script. Closing date: 30 April. Details: https://www.comedy.co.uk/sitcom_mission/info.

Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize has a deadline of 3rd April and is seeking short fiction between 1,000 and 5,000 words. The winner will receive £1,000, with further cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd places, and 12 shortlisted entries will be published in the latest anthology released later in the yea. Entry is £10 per submission and there are 50 free entries for writers on a low income on a first-come, first-served basis. Details: https://bricklanebookshop.org

Remember to check all details before entry. Gizzie wishes you the very best of luck!

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.