, , , , , ,

                                       (All pictures courtesy of Elizabeth and Maggie)

I spent time recently in Southwark, Shakespeare’s old stamping grounds, and took time to visit Southwark Cathedral, with its memorial to the man himself and also its beautiful Harvard Chapel, the favoured napping spot of the wonderfully-named resident feline, Doorkins Magnificat.

August, of course, is the middle of the SUMMER. A perfect time to pen a short story for our own ninevoices competition, which closes on 28 September. We know you’re busy, but please take time to compose something. You might win £250. Not quite enough for a new laptop, but well worth having…

20180619_113145-1-1 (2)

In the meantime, however:-

The Curtis Brown First Novel Prize has a deadline of August 1st, so is imminent. Entry is FREE, but you are only allowed the one entry, which is for up to 10,000 words of an unpublished novel (which doesn’t need to be finished), plus a synopsis of up to 400 words. First prize is agency representation and £3,000. The runner-up will be offered a place on their three-month online novel writing course and a mentoring session with a Curtis Brown agent. Four shortlisted authors will be offered a six-week online course, and an agent mentoring session. Details: http://www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/first-novel-prize/

Ilkley Literature Festival Short Story Competition, maximum 3,000 words. Entry fee: £5. Prize: £200. Deadline August 1st. Full details: http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/join-in/competitions

The Costa Short Story Award is for stories up to 4,000-words, with generous prizes of £3,500; £1,000 and £500. The deadline is August 1st and entry is free. Details: http://www.costabookawards.com  Please study the entry requirements, which are rather complex. You need, for example, to have been resident in the UK for a stipulated period of time.

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, deadline 31 August, has prizes of £1,000 for each category winner for poetry and short fiction, with publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, a one year print subscription to Granta, a selection of books courtesy of Bloodaxe & Vintage, full membership of The Poetry Society (for poetry) and consultation with Redhammer (for short fiction). Entry appears to be free, but check details from: http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/cwa

Retreat West Novel Prize is for the first 7,500 words of an unpublished novel, plus synopsis of 500 words. Entry fee: £15. Prizes: publication plus £500 advance; critique and editorial support; one year’s gold author membership to Retreat West. Must be unagented. Details: http://www.retreat-west.co.uk/the-retreat-west-novel-prize. Deadline 18 August.

Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award for a story of 10,000 words maximum. Entry fee £12, with optional critique at £20. Prizes: £500, plus trophy; £150; £100. Trisha Ashley Award of £200, plus trophy. Details from: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/competitions.html

Exeter Flash Fiction Competition. Maximum 750 words. Entry fee: £6. Prizes: £200 plus trophy: £100; £50. Details: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/competitions.html

For something a little different, Prima monthly magazine has a regular short story competition, with a £100 prize, for a maximum 800-word story. Email to: yourwinningstory@hearst.co.uk  Worth perhaps buying a copy of the magazine to get a feel for what they might like.

Please, as always, check all details before entering any competition.

Finally – with no apologies for being a bore – do consider starting that summer-themed story for us. Summer doesn’t necessarily mean extreme heat, or a beach. It may remind you of a wet tent in the middle of a bog. Of romantic or disastrous wedding ceremonies. Of music festivals, or a juvenile fumble in the long grass…








Of local days out…


Scan_20180429 (3)

…or expeditions to Peru…







Of lazy days…

…fantastical ones,

Scan_20180515 (2)

…or spooky ones that make the flesh creep.





We really don’t mind.