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Meet the new beta reader for ninevoices! Nine-month old Kiko’s recommendations for this freezing cold morning are a bracing walk (yay!) before curling up before a roaring fire with the laptop and entering a competition or two… Dropped biscuit crumbs would be a bonus.

Papatango and Southwark Playhouse welcome submissions of new stage plays for their Papatango New Writing Prize. The winner will develop their play with Papatango in preparation for a four-week production in the autumn. Their script will be published by Nick Hern books and the writer will receive ten percent royalties. In addition, following the stage production, the winner will be awarded a £6,000 commission to create a new play, with Papatango providing developmental support. The competition is for an original, unperformed and unproduced full-length stage play – minimum sixty minutes/forty pages/9,000 words. ENTRY IS FREE, and the deadline 17 February. Full details on their website: https://papatango.co.uk/#new-writing-prize

The Chiplitfest Short Story Competition is open for entries up to 5,000 words. There is a first prize of £500, a second prize of £100 and a third prize of £50. The authors of the top ten stories will have the opportunity to be featured on http://www.pennyshorts.com, which publishes short stories. The entry fee for stories up to 2,500 words is £5, and £8 for stories up to 5,000 words. Closing date is 7 February. Details: http://www.chiplitfest.com

The CWA are inviting entries for two writing competitions. The CWA Debut Dagger is given for the opening of a crime writer who had never published a full-length novel and who has not got a contract with a publisher or agent. The winner receives £500 and shortlisted writers receive feedback, plus having their entries sent to interested UK agents. To enter, send up to 3,000 words, plus a synopsis of no longer than 1,500 words. The entry fee is £36 and the closing date 28 February. The CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition 2019 is for the best unpublished short story that most closely fits vintage crime writer Margery Allingham’s definition: ‘The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuse. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, and Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.’ The prize is £500, plus two passes to Crimefest 2020.To enter, send unpublished stories up to 3,500 words. The entry fee is £12 and the closing date 28 February. Full details: https://thecwa.co.uk/

The CWA Debut Dagger people are generous with hints and tips on how to impress their judges – in particular. posting a five-point analysis of why a reader might fail to be impressed by a synopsis. This is valuable for ANY novel, not just one involving a crime. So do take a look at their website.

Fish Flash Fiction Prize, maximum 300 words. Open subject. Prizes 1,000 Euros; 300 Euros; online writing course; publication in anthology. Entry fees: online 14 Euros for one, then 8 Euros; postal 16 Euros for one, then 10 Euros. Deadline 28 February. Details: http://www.fishpublishing.com/flash-fiction-contest

Flash 500 Short Story Competition for between 1,000 and 3,000 words. Prizes: £500, plus a two-year Duotrope gift certificate; £200; £100. Entry fees: £7 for one story, £12 for two; £16 for three; £20 for four. Deadline 28 February. Details: http://www.flash500.com/index_files/ss.htm

Kelpies Prize for a novel. Send the first five chapters, plus a 1,000-3,000 word synopsis starting ‘There were three things everyone knew about [character name]… Rules: Scottish writers only, aged over 18. ENTRY IS FREE. Prizes: £500, plus £500 advance on signing contract, mentoring, writing retreat and £100 expenses. Full details: discoverkelpies.co.uk/kelpies-prize 

The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Contest for a novel for children. Full manuscript 30,000 to 80,000 words, synopsis and covering letter. Rules: novel suitable for children aged 7-18. Entry fee: £18. Prize: publishing contract/royalty advance of £10,000; critique for all longlisted. Details: http://www.chickenhouse-books.com/submissions

If you fancy attracting the attention of an American agent, WOW! Women On Writing Winter 2019 Flash Fiction Contest is open until February 28. The guest judge is literary agent Kari Sutherland with Bradford Literary Agency. Submit short fiction of any genre between 250-750 words. Prizes: $400; $300, $200. The prize also includes publication and an interview. Can’t find if there is an entry fee, but details should be on: https://creativewritingink.co.uk/competitions/wow-women-on-writing-winter-2019-flash-fiction-contest/

That should be enough to be going on with, but do, please, double-check all and any details before entering.

Having noted the requirements for the Kelpies Prize, above, with its suggested opening phrase, I’m going to suggest this as one of the homework tasks that whoever hosts the fortnightly ninevoices’ sessions sets for those not immersed in novel editing. It should trigger useful flash and short stories – so why not make use of it? Kiko would give you an approving tail-wag..