Writing Competitions to Enter in April


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With Easter fast approaching…

With Easter fast approaching, we suggest you let your imagination roam and write an entry for one of the competitions below. How about a story about whoever might live through the portal in this old tree, near Kent’s Scotney Castle? A rabbit family? A fairy band? Some lilliputian people?

On another miniature theme, Retreat West Micro Fiction require exactly 100 words, to a prompt posted on the website each month. Prizes: 50% of the total entry fees received. Entry fee: £4. Closing date 10 April. Details: http://www.retreatwest.co.uk

The Yeovil Literary Prize is for novels (opening chapters and synopsis up to 15,000 words), short stories (maximum 2,000 words), poems (up to 40 lines) and ‘writing without restriction’. Prizes: Novel: £1,000, £250, £100; Short story and poetry, £500, £200, £100; Writing without restrictions: £200 £100, £50. Entry fee: Novel: £12; Short story: £7; Poetry: £7 for one, £10 for two, £12 for three; Writing without restrictions: £5. Closing date: 30 April. Full details: http://www.yeovil

The Bath Short Story Award is for stories up to 2,200 words, in any style, and on any subject. Prizes: £1,200, £300, £100, £50 for the best local writer, £100 Acorn Award for the best story by an unpublished writer. Entry fee: £8. Deadline 19 April. Details: http://bathshortstoryaward.org

Killing It : The Killer Reads Competition from HarperFiction is open for entries from undiscovered crime writers. They want the first 10,000 words of an unpublished commercial crime, thriller or suspense manuscript. Three winners will be chosen, and will receive editorial reports from HarperFiction editors on their full manuscript plus editorial mentoring from a HarperFiction editor. Send the first 10,000 words of a complete or near-complete work, plus a synopsis of up to 500 words and a brief paragraph about yourself. ENTRY IS FREE, but each writer may enter once only. The closing date is 7 April. Details: http://www.killerreads.com/killing-it/

RA & Pin Drop Short Story Award for stories up to 4,000 words. Prize: A reading by a special guest at an evening at the Royal Academy of Arts. FREE ENTRY. Deadline: 15 April. Details: http://pindropstudio.com/

London Independent Story Prize for short stories, max. 1,500 words; flash 300 words; short screenplays, max 30 pages; feature screenplays. Prizes: £100 for stories and flash, Final Draft software for screenplays. Entry fee: £7 for flash, £10 for screenplays. Earlybird deadline: 15 April. Details: http://www.londonindependentstoryprize.co.uk

As ever – PLEASE double-check all entry details, including the deadline dates. We live in changing times and this has altered things like deadlines, or even resulted in cancellations of some competitions.

Someone has to win, remember. Best of luck that it might be you this time round.

Empathy, e-books and Easter

Have the last fifteen months – horrible in all sorts of ways for everyone – changed what we read – and how we read?

Lots of us may have turned to comfort reading – books which make no demands and distract us from the turmoil and sadness around us. Books which help us sleep. Books with happy endings which cocoon us in a safer, more sunlit world. Or historical fiction so we can be transported into another time. The past may have been brutal and squalid for many, but at least it’s escaping from the horrors of the present. Or crime fiction with its pleasures of puzzle-solving and the satisfaction of order restored. Books we loved as children and teenagers, and now search for with nostalgia and a longing to recapture something lost.

Others may have grasped the opportunity to tackle books they’ve always meant to read and somehow never quite got round to – classics, ‘difficult’ authors, unfamiliar genres.

I haven’t managed many of those. The most serious book I have been reading this week is non-fiction: Zero Degrees of Empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor in developmental psychopathology at Cambridge University and director of the Autism Research Centre. It’s not his most recent book, being published in 2011, and I’ve read it before, but events in the UK drew me back to it. The front flap of my hardback says that it ‘presents a new way of understanding what it is that leads individuals to treat others inhumanely, and challenges all of us to reconsider entirely the idea of evil.’ On the back cover Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at University College London, writes that the book is ‘a compelling and provocative account of empathy as our most precious social resource.’

Baron-Cohen argues that ‘Empathy is like a universal solvent. Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble. It is effective as a way of anticipating and resolving interpersonal problems, whether this is a marital conflict, an international conflict, a problem at work, difficulties in a friendship, political deadlocks, a family dispute, or a problem with the neighbour.’

With so much suffering and mental illness everywhere resulting from the pandemic, empathy is something we need more than ever. Reading, as we identify with fictional characters and care what happens to them, must surely be a vital way of building up our capacity for empathy.

 Back to how we read. The pandemic and lockdown has meant that even those of us who love the tactile feel of physical books may have taken to e-books for the first time. No shelf space for more physical books and it’s hard to make room for any with the charity shops being shut.

It’s why I’ve relaunched e-book editions of All Desires Known and Of Human Telling. Hard-hitting stories of family and marital conflict behind closed doors – ‘sharp-eyed, funny and redemptive’. They might be a good e-book read at Easter.

Buy “All Desires Known” on Kindle

Buy “Of Human Telling” on Kindle

Help when writing


I’ve started to get helpful messages from Mr Microsoft on improving my writing.  Little unsolicited bubbles appear when I’m hard at it composing on Word.  Sometimes, he thinks he can punctuate “better’ than me.   Most frequently he offers to help me be more concise, be more succinct, have a more condensed style, say what I want in fewer words, ramble less.  Such impertinence. 

Every Writer Needs a Cat


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Are writers attracted to cats? Or cats to writers?

In a Zoom interview last year, Maggie O’Farrell spoke of retreating to the solitude of her children’s Wendy House to tackle a poignant passage needed for her book Hamnet. Accompanied by her cat. The previous summer, I attended a talk by Tracy Chevalier during which she admitted that much of her writing was done, not at her computer, but curled up with a pen and notebook on her sofa. Accompanied by her cat. A handful of years before that, Margaret Atwood regaled a masterclass in central London with the story of a stranger knocking on her door with a gift of prawns for her cat, which he had befriended on his walks to the station. He did not know she was a famous author, only someone who would be happy to deliver his gift to her feline friend.

Authors who have complex relations with their cats are not new. Dr Johnson, author of one of the most influential English dictionaries in history, is known for considering his cats as more than useful rodent operators. His most famous feline companion was called Hodge, of whom James Boswell, Johnson’s biographer wrote:

“I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge… I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr Johnson’s breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, ‘Why yes, sir, but I had cats whom I liked better than this, and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, “but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'”

Hodge lived with Johnson at 17 Gough Square, off Fleet Street in London, his home from 1748 to 1759. Both Boswell and the writer Hester Thrale mention how Johnson would go out himself to buy oysters for Hodge because he did not want his servants to feel demeaned by doing errands for a cat. Which shows not only Johnson’s consideration for his servants, but how much he wanted Hodge to enjoy a favourite treat.

Johnson further demonstrated the Hodge’s importance in his life by inviting his acquaintance, the writer Percival Stockdale, to write the cat’s epitaph:

“Who by his manner when caressed

Warmly his gratitude expressed;

And never failed his thanks to purr

Whene’er he stroaked his sable fur?”

It is surely fitting that outside 17 Gough Square, now a museum to Dr Johnson, stands a statue of Hodge with oyster shells at his feet which was sculpted in 1997 by John Bickly. The animal, modelled on Bickly’s own pet, stands at “about shoulder height for the average adult, which is just right for putting an arm around.”

A writer, like a cat, often needs their own space. And what better companion can there be than a feline presence, perhaps curled on the corner of their desk? In my own establishment, Gizzie will happily allow me to read passages of my work-in-progress out loud to her when I struggle with a piece of difficult prose. Doing that to my husband would put him in an difficult position: might criticism land him in the spare room? Reading aloud to oneself feels awkward: one expects the men in white coats to turn up at any moment. But a pair of considering and intelligent golden eyes will concentrate the mind wonderfully.

Creative Writing Competitions to Enter in March


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Two members of ninevoices entered – but failed to win – the same writing competition during the course of February (names/details redacted to save their blushes). HOWEVER, one of them succeeded in being shortlisted, while the other was longlisted. Surely the equivalent of being awarded a silver and a bronze medal at the Olympics?

The point we are trying to make is that engaging with a writing competition offers advantages in addition to a possible prize cheque. It concentrates the mind, pushes you to either compose something new or to polish a piece of work that has been languishing on your hard drive. If your entry is either longlisted or shortlisted, it proves you stand above the crowd. Perhaps most importantly, it exercises your writing muscle.

Bridgend Writers’ Circle Open Short Story Competition for stories between 1,500 and 1,8700 words. Prizes: £100, £50, £30, plus publication on website. Entry fee: £5 for one, £7.50 for two. Closing date 1 March. TODAY. Details http://www.bridgendwriters.org

BBC National Short Story Award, up to 8,000 words. Prizes: £15,000, 4x£600. FREE ENTRY. Closing Date: 9am on 15 March. Details http://www.bbc.co.uk/nssa

Hastings Literary Festival Writing Competition for short stories up to 2,500 words; short stories by BAME writers up to 5,000 words; poems, up to 40 lines; and flash fiction, up to 500 words. Prizes: £200, £100, £50 in each category; mentoring for best Sussex entry. Closing date: THIS COMPETITION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN CANCELLED, BUT THEIR TWITTER WEBSITE DOES HAVE A VIDEO SAYING THEY HOPE TO GO AHEAD WITH 2021 FESTIVAL. BEST THEREFORE TO KEEP CHECKING FOR NEWS. Details: http://www.HastingsLitFest.org

White Review Short Story Competition for stories between 2,000-7,000 words, “by emerging writers”. Prizes: £2,500. Entry Fee: £15. Closing date: changed from 4 March to 26 April. Details: http://www.thewhitereview.org

Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize for published and unpublished (at least 50,000 word) adventure novels. Prizes: £15,000. FREE ENTRY. Deadline 7 March. Details: http://www.wilbur-niso-smithfundation.org

Harpers Bazaar Short Story Competition. Stories on the theme of “Threads”, up to 2,200 words. Prize: publication, plus a weekend break at The Mitre, Hampton Court. Entry appears to be FREE. Deadline: 15 March. Details: shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk

Fowey Festival Short Story Competition, for stories not exceeding 1,500 words. With Daphne du Maurier’s popular collection of short stories in mind, the title of the competition is “Breaking Point”. Apparently when Daphne du Maurier was writing the collection – entitled “Breaking Point” – she “found solace and peace after a turbulent period”. A timely thought. Prizes: £200 and £100. Entry fee: £10, which goes towards supporting the future of the Festival. Deadline: 7 March. Details: ww.foweyfestival.com

Evesham Festival of Words are seeking short stories of up to 2,500 words on any theme. Prizes: £100, £50, %30, plus an engraved trophy for the winner. Entry fee: £5. Closing date: 12 March. Details: http://eveshamfestivalofwords.org

Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Competition, for stories up to 5,000 words. Prizes: £500, plus publication; £250; £100. Entry fee: £9. Deadline: 31 March. Details http://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk

Writers Bureau Annual Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,000 words. Prizes: £300; £200; £100 £50, plus a choice of Writers Bureau courses. Entry fee: £5. Closing date: 31 March. Details: http://www.wbcompetition.com

We live in confusing times, so do PLEASE check all details before entering any of the above. Good luck with those entries!

Till Death Us Do Part


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by Maggie Davies

A cautionary tale – which won a Henshaw Press Short Story Competition a few years back – to mark Valentine’s Weekend. Perhaps it might inspire readers to write a competition entry of their own, and maybe get it printed in an anthology.

I wrapped my arms around Neil and kissed the top of his head. His hair might be the colour of fresh snow these days, but he was far from an old man.

‘We could die together,’ I said. ‘Fly to Switzerland. Make a holiday out of it. Then finish up at that special clinic they’ve got over there.’

‘Don’t be bloody ridiculous.’ He was cross. He’d always been short-tempered and the last few months had been a strain.

‘I’m serious, sweetheart.’ I moved to sit opposite him. ‘You know I couldn’t bear to go on without you.’

‘You’re insane, Beth. You’re still a young woman. In perfect health.’

‘Hardly young.’

‘You’re only sixty.’

‘I mean it, Neil.’ I put my hand over his. ‘I”ll throw myself under a train, if you kill yourself.’

‘Then I can’t do it, can I?’ He rubbed tired eyes. ‘I’ll have to turn into a vegetable and make both our lives a misery. Is that what you want, you silly woman?’

‘No,’ I said. That wasn’t what I wanted at all.


It started after Geoff’s wife died. Madeline had been failing for years and, living next door, we’d seen the hell they went through in her final months. Her deterioration had been particularly depressing for Neil, who’d been reading articles about dementia often being hereditary.

‘It’s like my Dad, all over again,’ he’d said, with a shudder. ‘If I ever get like that, I want you to finish me off. Take the carving knife to me. Promise?’

His father’s house smelled. The bathroom, in particular, stank. It took a while for Neil to find out why. The poor old chap knew where he was supposed to go to urinate. He’d just forgotten what to do when he got there and simply peed all over the carpet. It was humiliating for everybody. When he finally died it was a relief.

‘A meat cleaver might be more final,’ I said, trying to lighten his mood. ‘Though messier.’

It became a sick joke between us. Nothing serious. Then, over a few months, things changed dramatically. Neil had always mislaid keys and spectacles. I did myself, but he became incapable of finding anything. I put a wooden fruit bowl on the kitchen dresser and suggested he use that as a collection point, but whenever he went there for something, it was empty.

‘I’m losing the plot, aren’t I?’ he grumbled, after finally locating his house keys in the drawer where we kept the electrical leads. ‘Why would I put them in there? My brain’s turning to Swiss cheese.’

‘All sixty-nine-year-olds mislay things.’ I gave him a hug. ‘Tomorrow we’ll buy some vitamins. That might help.’

Several days later he accosted me in the greenhouse. He looked as if he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. ‘Why were my spectacles in the fridge?’

‘Whatever are you talking about?’

‘My bloody spectacles were in our refrigerator. On top of the Flora.’ He slapped the side of his head with his hand, as if to knock sense into it. ‘I am going bloody barmy. Aren’t I?’

‘Sweetheart, we all do crazy things. Remember when I started to reverse the car out of the garage? With the up-and-over door still closed?’

‘That’s true.’ He looked relieved, but not much.

However, days later, I glanced out of the kitchen window and said: ‘The bin, sweetheart. It’s Thursday. Didn’t you put it out?’

Neil glanced up from The Independent. ‘It’s okay, I did it when I got back from the newsagents. Before I raked up those dead leaves at the bottom of the garden.’

‘So where is it, then?’

He abandoned the paper and peered outside. ‘Damned if I know. Perhaps the bin men emptied it and stuck the thing next door by mistake.’

They hadn’t, of course. It was where it always was, behind the shed. Still full.

‘You meant to do it,’ I said, when he eventually came back inside. ‘Sometimes I mean to clean the oven, but then conveniently forget. Probably because it’s a chore.’

Neil paced up and down, like an animal in a trap. ‘But it’s not just the bin, is it? I lost my electric razor yesterday, and my credit cards the day before. Then I left the bathroom tap running last night when I went to bed. I’ve no idea what I’m going to do next. It’s like being in a nightmare.’

‘You’re preoccupied, that’s all. Though maybe you should see the doctor.’

‘I’m damned if I want to be asked if I know what day of the week it is.’

‘And what day is it?’

‘It’s Thursday. September the 25th.’

‘There you are, my love. You’re fine.’


The days dragged on until Geoff wandered in through the kitchen door one morning, as he often did, with some runner beans for us from his allotment.

‘I could do with my mower back, if that’s okay,’ he said to Neil.

‘Your mower?’

‘You know, mechanical thingy that cuts grass and makes a godawful racket? That you borrowed from me last weekend?’

Neil’s fists clenched at his sides. ‘I was planning to come over and borrow it. Tomorrow.’

‘But you’ve already got it, old man. That’s why I need it back.’ There was an awkward pause. ‘Okay,’ continued Geoff, looking embarrassed. ‘Tell you what, you hang on to it and let me have it back whenever it’s convenient.’

‘But I don’t have it,’ Neil protested, looking at me. ‘Do I?’

‘It’s in the garage,’ I said, avoiding his eye.

There was a silence, before Geoff slapped Neil on the shoulder in a not-very-convincing show of bonhomie. ‘Not to worry. I missed the dentist last week. He still charged me for the appointment, though. Grasping bugger.’

The incident hit Neil hard. ‘I told you I was getting like Dad,’ he said. ‘This proves it.’

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I kept silent. Instead I put my arms round his waist, buried my face in his scratchy sweater and gave him a big hug.

‘I’d rather be six foot under than lose my dignity,’ he murmured into my hair, sounding close to tears.

‘At least get a proper diagnosis,’ I urged. ‘What if you’re wrong?’

‘What’s the point of a diagnosis? There’s no cure, is there?’ He extracted himself from my grasp and looked me in the eye. ‘I’m taking matters into my own hands while I still can. I could deteriorate rapidly. That’s what terrifies me. Leaving it too late.’

‘Don’t do it, Neil. Please!’

‘You’ll manage. People do. Look at old Geoff.’

‘I refuse to even discuss it.’

‘But we must talk about it. Plans have to be made.He took my hand in his and kissed it. ‘I need you to understand,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t bear it if you didn’t.’

‘I understand perfectly,’ I said. ‘I just don’t agree.’

‘Of course you don’t. But you will support me?’

‘You mean, hand you a full bottle of pills?’

‘And get you in trouble with the law? Assisted suicide is a crime. It wouldn’t be right to involve you in anything like that. And that Swiss clinic business raises too many legal questions, never mind the cost. But I’ve done some research on the internet. If I steer my car into that nice, solid brick wall by the railway bridge, my worries should be over before I know what’s happened. Especially if I neglect to wear my seat belt and put my foot down, on a wet night. That way, the life insurance people can’t ask awkward questions.’

‘Oh, sweetheart, you mustn’t think about money. I’ve got my pension, haven’t I?’

‘A fat lot of good that will do you. Just think of all the money those insurance companies have had from us over the years. They owe us.’ He patted my arm. ‘You deserve some happiness after I’ve gone. I refuse to leave you hard up.’

‘Please, sweetheart,’ I begged. ‘Don’t do this. I’ll look after you, whatever happens. We promised, for better or worse. Remember?’

‘Not another word. My mind is made up. We’ll go away somewhere special for a second honeymoon. Then come back and I’ll make a quick exit.’

When the time finally came, Neil and I kissed goodbye at the door before he went out to the car. We were both crying. Then I watched him drive off at speed into the night. Losing him like this would be dreadful, but he was right: life would go on.

I went back inside and picked up the phone to dial Geoff’s number. It had taken us three careful months of planning to get to this.

‘Fingers crossed, darling, but I think we’ve finally done it,’ I said, when he answered. ‘All we have to do is wait for the traffic police to come knocking on my door.’


Please note that my husband, both then and now, is very much alive.

Creative Writing Competitions to Enter in February


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Why not distract yourself by entering one of the following competitions:-

The Spread the Word 2021 Life Writing Prize is inviting entries for original, unpublished life writing up to 5,000 words from unagented UK writers. Entries may be a standalone piece or an extract from a longer piece – but must be based on the author’s personal experience and must not be fiction. The first prize is £1,500, plus an Arvon course, a writing mentor, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and an optional development meeting with an agent or editor. Two runners-up will each receive £500, a writing mentor and an optional agent or editor meeting. The top twelve will be published online and in a booklet. Entry is FREE, and the deadline is 1 February. Details: http://www.spreadtheword.org.uk

Writers’ & Artists’ Short Story Competition 2021 2,000 words on any theme. The prize is a place on an Arvon residential writing course, plus publication on the site. Entry is FREE, but you must register at their website to do so.Deadline 12 February. Details: http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions

The Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story Competition. This competition is to give new writers from the UK and the Republic of Ireland the opportunity to have their novel published in the run-up to Christmas 2022, with the winner receiving a contract with Penguin Michael Joseph and the opportunity to ‘connect with an agent’. Send a Christmas Love Story pitch of no more than 200 words, plus 1,000 words of your manuscript. Check out full entry details at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/michael-joseph/penguin-michael-joseph-christmas-love-story. Deadline 14 February.

The Globe Soup Winter 2020 Flash Fiction Competition is looking for an 800-word short story featuring a secret location. Writers entering the competition will be sent details when they have paid their entry fee and all entries must be set in that location. Globe Soup is a travel website, but stories do not need to feature travel. The winning entry will receive £1,000 and the entry fee is £5. Closing date: 11 February Details: http://www.globesoup.net

Spotlight First Novel Competition. A one-page synopsis plus the first page of an unpublished novel. Prizes: mentoring package. Entry fee: £16. Closing date: 14 February. Details: http://www.adventuresinfiction.co.uk

Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award for crime novels: first 3,000 words plus a synopsis of up to 1,000 words. Prizes: £500. Entry fee: £36. Closing date: 26 February. Details: http://www.thecwa.co.uk

Crime Writers Association Margery Allingham Short Story Competition for stories up to 3,500 words fitting Allingham’s definition of a mystery. Prizes: £500, two passes to CrimeFest 2022. Entry fee: £12. Closing date 26 February. Details: http://www.thecwa.co.uk/ShortStory/rules.html

Fish Publishing Flash Fiction competition. Send up to 300 words on any theme. Prizes: 1,000 Euros; 300 Euros; an on-line writing course. 10 entrants to be published in the annual Fish Anthology. Entry fee: 14 Euros. Deadline 28 February. Details: http://www.fishpublishing.com

The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition wants entries of original, unpublished short fiction up to 2,000-words. Entries may be on any topic and do not have to be set in Scotland or have Scottish themes. The first prize in this international competition from the Scottish Arts Trust is £1,000, and there are second and third prizes of £500 and £250. The Isobel Lodge Award will be given to the best story by an unpublished writer born, living or studying in Scotland. Winning stories will be published in the next Scottish Arts Trust Story Awards anthology. The entry fee is £10 per story, and the closing date 28 February. Details: http://www.storyawards.org/shortstoryaward

Please note that because of our current situation, some competitions have been obliged to make changes to their arrangements/entry dates/prizes – so double-checking everything before entry is especially important.

We know reading is good for you, and believe that putting words down on paper can also be therapeutic, so why not either dust off an old manuscript or compose something completely new?

Good Luck!

Spread a Little Love



Some things that you can do to spread a little love in the present gloom:-

  • Set the children to creating a hand-made WE ARE THINKING OF YOU card for their grandparents. They could make use of cut-outs from the Christmas cards and its presence on their mantelpiece will cheer them up.
  • Write someone a letter – a welcome addition to those tiresome bills and Chinese takeaway flyers that come through their letter box.
  • Sit down in a comfortable chair, with a mug of tea in your hand, and take time for a thoughtful chat on the landline.
  • Send granny a DVD to help pass the time. There are plenty of excellent old classics at modest cost.
  • Persuade/bribe a teenager to guide a techno-phobic relative through how to make Skype/Zoom calls.
  • With garden centres open, and many supermarkets (and M&S Food Halls) offering inexpensive hyacinths and miniature daffodils in pots, why not gift one to an elderly neighbour? It will remind them they are not as isolated as they might fear.
  • Send granny a jigsaw. Wentworth make wooden puzzles incorporating fascinating ‘whimsy’ shapes; Waterstones also sell jigsaws online – including their magnificent Shakespeare one.
  • Last, and not least, send them a book. Reading is good for the mental health and provides welcome comfort and escape. Imagine the pleasure a friend or relative will have from receiving a surprise package from you through the auspices of Amazon? A paperback often costs under £8 and – if you you have granny’s kindle email address – not much over £1. How much nicer to see a gifted book on her door mat, than those tiresome bills and pizza takeaway flyers?

Creative Writing Competitions to Enter in January


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Most of us long to escape our present circumstances, so why not do so by immersing yourself in a new story (perhaps Tanya’s prize-winning compliment to the style of Barbara Pym?), by ordering a new book (plenty of those on offer via Amazon or Waterstones on-line) or – better still – by penning something for one of the writing competitions on offer in the New Year?

The Fish Short Memoir Prize has a word limit of 4,000, an entry fee of £16, and closes on January 31. Prizes are: 1,000 Euros; a Writing Course plus 200 Euros; 200 Euros; with the 10 best memoirs being published in the Fish Anthology 2021. Details: http://www.fishpublishing.com

The Henshaw Short Story Competition requires a maximum of 2,000 words and entries must not have been published before the submission date. Entry fee is £6 (add £12 for an optional critique). Prizes: £200; £100; £50; plus publication in the next Henshaw Anthology. Deadline 6 January. Details: http://www.henshawpress.co.uk

The Mogford Food & Drink Short Story Prize has a magnificent £10,000 first prize, together with the story read by an actor and uploaded onto the Storyplayer website; three other entrants will receive £500. The entry fee is £16 and the requirement is a maximum of 2,500 words, with the theme of food and drink at the heart of the story. The deadline is 13 January and details can be found: http://www.mogfordprize.co.uk/how-to-enter

The Bath Flash Fiction Novella in Flash Award is for ‘linked flashes’ of 6,000-18,000 words. Entry fee is £16 and the deadline 17 January. Prizes: £300, 2 x £100, publication. Details: http://bathflashfictionaward.com/

The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for the first 40-50 pages of a finished but unpublished novel by a woman. Prizes: £1,500. Entry fee: £12. Closing date: 17 January. Details: http://www.lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk/fiction/prize/

The Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Open Competition is for a poem of under lines. Entry Fee: £5; £4 each for three or more. Prizes: £1,000; £300; £100; 4 x £50. Deadline: 31 January. Details: kentandsussex-poetry.com/the-kent-sussex-poetry-socity-open-competition

The London Magazine Short Story Award. Short stories up to 4,000 words. Prizes: £500; £300; £200. Entry fee: £10; £5 each subsequent. Closing date January 15. Details: http://www.thelondonmagazine.org

Retreat West First Chapter, for the first chapter of a novel on any theme, up to 3,500 words. Please read the entry requirements carefully, since including a prologue will disqualify you. Prizes: critique and review. Entry fee: £10. Closing date: 31 January. Details: http://www.retreatwest.co.uk

Finally – though this is really close to the wire – The Exeter Novel Prize is open until midnight tonight, the 1st January. They require your first 10,000 words, plus a synopsis, and the competition is open to currently unagented authors. The entry must be the opening of the novel; no children’s books. Prizes: £500 plus a trophy; 5 runners-up will receive $100. Entry fee is £18 and the deadline, as mentioned above, midnight on January 1st. Details: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk

Please remember to double check all details before entering as some competitions are being cancelled because of covid crisis difficulties.

We are entering a new year full of hope for better things to come. So stay safe, and follow your writing star.

A Barbara Pym-ish story for Christmas

Tanya’s story, ‘Not scorned in Heaven, though little noticed here‘ won the 2020 Ellen J Miller Memorial competition, run by the Barbara Pym Society. The brief was to write a short story featuring characters from a Barbara Pym novel. Here, with a few added tweaks, is the story.

If the link doesn’t work, click on ‘Writings’.

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/