I bought this book for my husband as one of his Christmas presents. He devoured it and suggested I do the same, even though it isn’t my usual choice of reading.
Reader, not only did I do so, but now urge you to do the same because this is an important book, for us, for our children and for our grandchildren.
English Pastoral is a beautifully written story about a family farm, the epic struggle of three generations to nurture their animals and land, and the urgent need for us all to find ways for farmed and wild countryside to coexist.
But James Rebanks is not only a farmer, he is a gifted writer and a visionary. His final two lines made me cry. I suggest you buy his book, and then pass it around your friends and family.
January is the time for New Year Resolutions which, for writers, will surely involve finishing that novel or winning a writing competition or two…or three. To help concentrate your mind, below are some tempting opportunities – but please note that some of the deadlines are right at the beginning of the month, which is why this post is a few days early.
The Exeter Novel Prize requires the first 10,000 words of a novel not under contract, including a 500-word synopsis. Any genre can be entered, with the exception of children’s. Prizes: £500, 5x£100. Entry fee: £18. Closing date: 1 January. Details: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk
Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing for short stories with food and drink themes, up to 2,500 words. Prizes: £10,000m 3x£250. Entry fee: £10. Closing date: 12 January. Details: http://www.mogfordprize.co.uk/
Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for the first 40-50 pages of a finished but unpublished novel by a woman writer. Prizes: £1,500. Entry fee: 12. Closing Date 17 January. (Now extended to 12 February) Details: http://www.lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk/fictionprize/
Bath Flash Fiction Novella in Flash Award for flash fiction novellas between 56,00 and 18,000 words. Prizes: £300, 2x£100; publicatin. Entry fee: £16. Closing date: 16 January. Details: https://bathflashfictionaward.com/
Discoveries 2022 Award for novels by female unpublished writers. Prizes: First prize is representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5,000, plus the opportunity to workshop their manuscript with an Audible commissioning editor specifically matched to their writing style and genre; one promising writer from the shortlist of six will be named Discoveries Scholar and win a free scholarship place to attend a three-month Writing Your Novel course with Curtis Brown, worth £1,800; all shortlisted writers will be offered a mentoring session plus free enrollment on a Curtis Brown Creative six-week online course worth £210; all 16 longlisted authors will be invited to join the two-week online Discoveries Writing Development course, plus receive an annual Audible subscription. Send the first 10,000 words, plus a synopsis of between 500-1,000 words. Entry is free. Deadline 17 January. Details: discoveries.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/
Retreat West First Chapter Competition for the first chapter of a novel, up to 3,500 words. Prizes: critique and review. Entry fee: £10. Closing date: 31 January. Details: http://www.retreatwest.co.uk
UK Film Festival Script Writing Competitions for 3-minute scripts, 10-minute scrips, feature film scripts. Prizes: winning scripts passed to leading directors. Entry fee: varies with category and date: enter early. Closing dte: 28 January. Details: http://www.ukfilmfestival.com
Fish Short Memoir Contest for personal non-fiction, up to 4,000 words. Prizes: 1,000 Euros, publication in annual Fish Anthology, a week at Casa Ana Writers retreat in Andalucia and 300 Euros expenses; 200 Euros. Entry fee: 18 Euros Closing date: 31 January. Details: http://www.fishpublishing.com
Please check all entry details with special care. Best of luck!
Why not aim high, and end the year with a flurry of entries to competitions looking for short stories or recently completed novels in December? Over the years members of ninevoices have not only entered, but won or been short-listed for some of the competitions given on this site. It can be done…
The list for December entries is being posted earlier than usual, to give anyone interested in the Barbara Pym Competition the chance to enter. The deadline for that is Midnight on December lst. The Virginia Prize for Fiction also has a December lst closing date.
The 2022 Ellen J Miller Memorial Short Story Competition. If you are a fast writer, or a long-established fan of the work of Barbara Pym, you may just have time to enter this competition for a short story which prominently features one or more characters from her published novels. Entries must be between 2000-2200 words and must not be under consideration elsewhere, or have been submitted before. Prizes are: $250, $100 and $50, plus complimentary registration and meals at the Barbara Pym Society North American Conference in Boston. The winning entries will be read at the conference and will also be published on the Society’s website. and in their newsletter. Entry is free. Details: http://barbara-pym.org
The Globe Soup Flash Fiction 2021 Competition wants stories about a secret location that will be revealed when writers enter the contest. One winner will receive £1,000. Enter unpublished flash fiction up to 899 words in any genre or style for adult or young adult readers, with at least part set in the location. Closing date: 31 December. Entry appears to be free. Website: http://www.globesoup.net/writing-competitions
Green Stories Writing Competitions: Novels. For the first three chapters of a full length novel touching on ideas of sustainable societies. Prizes: A discounted appraisal from Daniel Goldsmith Associates. Free entry. Deadline 1 December. Details: http://www.greenstories.org.uk
HE Bates Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,000 words. Prizes: £500, £200, £100. Entry: £6, £10 for two. Closing date: 9 December. Details: ww.hebatescompetition.org.uk (Please make your own checks on this closing date, taken from Writing Magazine’s Competition Guide, since I haven’t been able to verify it it on-line)
Virginia Prize for Fiction for unpublished novels of at least 45,000 words by women. Prizes: development and publication of the winning novel. Entry fee: £25. Closing date: 1 December. Details: https://aurorametro.com/
Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award for stories up to 6,000 words, by authors with a record of publication. Prizes: £30,000, 5x£1,000. Free entry. Deadline: December 4. Details: http://www.shortstoryaward.co.uk
Chorley & District Writers Circle Annual Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,500 words on a theme to be confirmed. Prizes: £100, £50, 3x£20. Entry fee: £6, or £10 for two. Closing date: 15 December. Details: http://www.chorleywriters.org.uk
London Independent Story Prize for short stories up to 3,000 words, or flash up to 300 words. Prizes: £100 for both categories. Entry fee: £4. Closing date: 15 December. Details: http://www.londonindependentstoryprize.co.uk
Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition for stories up to 1,000 words. Prizes: £1,000 and commission to write four further storiesfor InterAct Reading Service over the course of one year. Entry fee: £15. Closing date: 21 December. Details: http://www.interactstrokesupport.org
Henshaw Short Story Competition for stories up to 2,000 words on any theme. Prizes: £200, £100, £50. Entry fee: £6. Quarterly closing date: 31 December. Details: http://www.henshawpress.co.uk
Write Time Competitions for stories up to 1,500 words by writers over 60. Prizes£50; £25×2; publication. Entry fee: £3, £5 for two. Quarterly closing date: 31 December. Details: https://writetime.org/
Retreat West Themed Flash Fiction Prize for up to 500 words on the theme of “after”. Prizes: £200; 2x£100, Entry fee: £8. Details: http://www.retreatwest.co.uk
Moth Poetry Prize for a single unpublished poem. Prizes: 6,000 Euros; 3×1,000 Euros, plus publication; 8×250 Euros. Entry fee: 15 Euros. Closing date: 31 December. Details: http://www.themothmagazine.com
So, please don’t leave your writing resolutions until the New Year and please, as ever, double-check all details before entry.
Ninevoices wish you all the happiest of Christmases and lots of good things for the New Year. Including some well-deserved writing successes. Just remember, somebody has to win these things… why shouldn’t it be you?
We will close with a favourite quote from the excellent Sylvia Plath:
“I love my rejections. They prove that I’m trying.”
Still banned in China because of criticism of Mao Zedong, the true story of Jung Chan’s mother and maternal grandmother plunges the reader into the pain and horror of China’s troubled history during the twentieth century. A sobering read, its importance cannot be exaggerated in helping us understand a land which increasingly reaches into every aspect of our own lives.
At over 500 pages, it is a serious history that manages to read like a historical thriller. If I share with you its opening lines, you will see what I mean:
“At the age of fifteen my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general, the police chief of a tenuous national government of China. The year was 1924 and China was in chaos.”
You might like to add it to that Christmas wish-list for Santa. Or simply treat yourself.
Thought for the day: you are NEVER going to thrill anybody with that novel unless you first put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, and either begin the book itself or exercise your writing muscles with a short story.
New Voices Competition for the first page of a novel plus a one-page synopsis by a new writer. Prize: mentoring package worth £750. Entry fee: £10. Closing date: 14 September. Details: http://www.adventuresinfiction.co.uk
Moth Nature Writing Prize for poetry, fiction or non-fiction exploring the writer’s relationship with the natural world. Prizes: 1,000 Euros and a week at the Moth Retreat. Entry fee: £15. Closing date: 15 September. Details: http://www.themothmagazine.com
The Manchester Prize for a portfolio of poetry (3-5, maximum 120 lines); short stories up to 2,500 words. Prizes: £10,000. Deadline 18 September. Details: http://www.2.mmu.ac.uk/writingcompetition/ (PLEASE NOTE THAT WHILE THESE DETAILS CAME FROM THE WRITING MAGAZINE COMPETITIONS GUIDE 2021, WE COULD NOT FIND CURRENT CONFIRMATION ON-LINE – SO PLEASE MAKE YOUR OWN CHECKS BEFORE ENTERING)
Val Wood Prize for short stories (up to 1,500 words) on the theme of ‘Now and Then’, featuring changes that have made the world a better place for individuals and communities. Prizes: £100, £50, 2 x £25, web publication. FREE ENTRY. Closing date 21 September. Details http://www.valeriewood.co.uk
Hammond House International Literary Prize for songwriting (lyrics and performed song), short stories (1,000-5,000 words), poems up to 40 lines and scripts, up to 10 pages for the theatre, radio or television, all on the theme of Stardust. Songwriting entry fee £10. Prize £100. Poetry entry fee £10, prizes £500, £50, £20, Short story entry fee £10. Prizes £1,000, £100, £50. Scriptwriting entry fee £10. Prize £250.
Mslexia Women’s Fiction Awards for Short Story, Flash Fiction, Novel, Monologue. Prizes: £10,000 prize pot. Novel winners and finalists go on to be published at the highest level. Winners and three finalists of both the Short Story and Flash Fiction categories will be published in Mslexia magazine. Novel entry is for unpublished novel by writer who has not previously published a novel. Entry fee: £12 for the Short Story, £6 for the Flash Fiction, £25 for the Novel. Closing date 20 September. Check full details: http://www.mslexia.co.uk
Ovacome Short Story Award, for stories up to 2,000 words on the theme ‘Connected’. Prizes: £500, £250, £50 Waterstones voucher. Entry fee: £5. Details: http://www.ovacome.org.uk
Galley Beggar Press Short Story Award for stories up to 6,000 words. Prizes: £2,00, £200 for shortlist. Entry fee: £10. Closing date: 30 September. Details: http://galleybeggar.co.uk
The Short Story Competition for stories between 1,000-5,000 words. Prizes: £500, £100. Entry fee: £8. Closing date: 30 September. Details: http://www.theshortstory.net
Crowvus Christmas Ghost Story for ‘spooky’ stories up to 4,000 words. Prizes: £100, £75, £50. Entry fee: £3, £5 for two. Closing date: 30 September. Details: http://www.crowvus.com/competition
Please, please double-check any entries before pressing that final button, just in case I’ve got something wrong or there have been last-minute changes to things like entry dates.
Postscript: winning a writing competition CAN get you published or be given an award and/or a cheque for your efforts. More than one member of ninevoices have succeeded in doing these things, so why not you?
Ninevoices Beta-reader, Skipper, insists that you have a go…
Before reading this book I was already aware that Cecily Neville – granddaughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, the mistress who subsequently became his wife – was feisty enough to face down her enemies at the gates of Ludlow Castle, with her small children at her side. But I knew little else, except that she was wife to Richard, Duke of York, and mother to three famous (or infamous) sons: Edward IV, George Duke of Clarence, and Richard III.
Annie Garthwaite’s stunning new historical novel,CECILY, admirably fills the gaps, providing a vividly female perspective on the Wars of the Roses and showing how a determined woman could operate in a man’s world. Medieval women, we learn from Annie, especially those of the aristocracy, could be responsible for huge households and vast estates – “enterprises similar in complexity and size to mid-sized FTSE companies”. As if that weren’t enough, at the same time as supporting their husband’s political career, they were expected to breed. Failure at which negated all else. Like some twenty-first century women, Annie Garthwaite argues, they “were expected to do it all”.
I devoured this book, influenced by the fact that I have been a ricardian in sympathy since reading Josephine Tey’s book The Daughter of Time in my teens. Not only do my bookshelves heave with tomes about the Plantaganets, but my current historical novel has an 18th century historian who tries (unsuccessfuly) to write about them.
Annie Garthwaite admits that the Wars of the Roses have also been a fixation of hers since being inspired by her secondary school history master. Her debut novel has been long in gestation, and shows it, causing Cecily Neville to leap from the page as a real woman: flawed yet ambitious. Duplicitous, yet vulnerable. Strong, yet capable of tenderness. If you care about the past and appreciate a brilliant eye for historical detail, this book will not disappoint. In fact, I am convinced that Annie Garthwaite is going to give Hilary Mantel a run for her money.
I think Annie herself deserves the last word:
“What can I say? I love 15th century history. No apologies, no excuses. The 100 Years War, the Wars of the Roses. All of that.
“It’s not that I’m a big fan of blood and battles. Personally I can do without that sort of thing. No – it’s the women who interest me. How they negotiated their way in the world. How they managed – some of them at least, probably more than you’d think – to wield power and influence at a time when men seemed to hold most of the cards. And how others, simply, did not.
“For me, the stand out character of the 15th century has always been Cecily Neville. She experienced power in both directions: wielding it and having it wielded against her. She survived eighty years of tumultuous history, mothered kings, created a dynasty and brought her family through civil war. She met victory and defeat in equal measure and, in face of all, lived on. Last women standing, you might say.”
If you persevere with your writing, maybe one day you might feature in a book like this one – discovered in a local Hospice charity shop. To that end, here are a few of the competitions available during July.
Moths to a Flame Poetry Competition invites original unpublished poems of any length on the theme of moths and/or energy. Poems must be able to be read or performed for a maximum of two minutes. The winner will be decided at a Zoom poetry slam and will receive £250. Ten shortlisted poets will receive a Moth Kit, which is part of the Moths to a Flame project, plus three copies of the resulting published book. Entry is FREE. Each writer may submit one poem. Closing date 2 July. Details: http://www.mothstoaflame.art
The HG Wells Short Story Competition 2021 is open for short fiction on the theme of ‘Mask’. There are two entry categories. The Junior (writers 21 and under) has a £1,000 prize and the Senior (writers over 22) category has a £500 prize. Enter original unpublished fiction between 1,500 and 5,000 words. Winning and shortlisted entries will be published in an anthology. Entry in the Junior category is FREE. The Senior entry fee is £10, or £5 for writers with studen ID. Deadline 12 July. Details: https://hgwellscompetition.com/
The Novel London 2021 Literary Competition is an international contest that invites the first chapter and a synopsis. The entry must be part of a complete work of fiction, which may be unpublihsed, self-published or newly published. The winner will receive £500 plus six months of mentoring from Nadine Matheson. The second prize is £300 and an assessment of the first three chapters and synopsis. The third prize is £100 and two coaching sessions. Submit the opening chapter (up to 3,000 words), a short synopsis and a one-page biography. Entry fee: £11. Closing date 31 July. Details: http://www.novellondon.co.uk
The Highlands and Islands Short Story Competition is open for stories up to 2,000 words, and flash, maximum 500. Prizes in both categories are £200, £75 and £50, with the possibility of several Highly Commended places. The competition is open only to amateur writers, defined as not earning a living from writing or having been ‘professionally published in any major capacity’. “We actively like the odd and the strange”. Entry is £5, £12 for three, £18 for five. Deadline 31 July. Details: http://www.hissac.co.uk/CompetitionDetails
The Fiction Factory First Chapter Competition is inviting entries of a maximum of 5,000 words of the first chapter. If the chapter is longer, send it in full but clearly mark the 5,000 word point. As well as a first prize of £500, the winning entry will be read by Joanna Swainson of Hardman & Swainson Agency. All shortlisted entrants will receive a free appraisal. Entry fee: £18. Deadline 31 July. Details: https://fiction-factory.biz/
Finally, not a competition, but visual and literary journal Short Fiction has a submission window for writers for whom this would be their first published piece. Submit original, unpublished fiction between 500 and 5,000 words. Payment is 2p per word, with a minimum of £30 and a maximum of £100. Closing date: 31 July. Details: http://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk/subs
As ever, let me remind you to double-check all details before entering. Good luck!
Do you dream of having your novel in Waterstones’ window? Maybe if you enter and win a competition that dream could come true. It has been known to happen.
The annual Wells Festival of Literature Creative Writing Competition is inviting entries in four categories. Open Poetry: no more than 35 lines on any subject. Prizes: 1st £1,000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250. Entry fee: £6. Short story: 1,000 to 2,000 words. Prizes: 1st £750, 2nd £300, 3rd £200. Entry fee, £6. A Book for Children: Stories on any subject aimed at readers aged 7+. Send the first three chapters or first thirty pages, whichever is the shortest, plus a synopsis. Prizes: 1st £750, 2nd £300, 3rd £200. Entry fee: £6. Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk
The Moth Short Story Prize 2021 offers a first prize of 3,000 Euros for stories up to 5,000 words. The second placed writer wins a week-long writing retreat at Circle of Misse in France, including 250 Euros for travel expenses. The third-placed writer wins 1,000 Euros. Winning stories will be published in the autumn 2021 issue of The Moth magazine. Entry fee is 15 Euros per story. Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.themothmagazine.com
The Love Books Competition, run by Marlborough Litfest in association with Bath Spa University invites you to write why you love your favourite book, poem or play. Entries should be up to 750 words, or videos no longer than five minutes. Entries may be reviews, but do not need to be, as long as the writing shows why you love the book, poem, collection, play or graphic novel that you have chosen. There are three age categories: 13-16, 17-19, and 20+ In each category, the winner will get £300 and the runner-up £100. Entry is free, but there can be only one entry per person. Closing date: 30 June. Details: https://lovebookscompetition.org/
V S Pritchett Memorial Prize for Unpublished Short Stories between 2,000 to 4,000 words. Prizes: £1,000, publication. Entry fee: £5. Deadline: 30 June. Details http://www.rslit.org
Henshaw Short Story Competition for up to 2,000 words. Prizes: £200, £100, £50. Entry fee: £6. Deadline: 30 June. Details|: http://www.henshawpress.co.uk
British Czech & Slovak Association Prize for short stories and non-fiction, up to 2,000 words, exploring the links between Britain and the Czech/Slovak Republics. Optional theme for 2021 is “£Corona and its effects”. Prizes: £400, £150, publication in the British Czech and Slovak Review. FREE ENTRY. Deadline 30 June. Details: http://www.bcsa.co.uk
Not many competitions on offer this month, but please, as ever, check all details before entry. Things can change at short notice.
On the subject of entering competitions, here is exhibit A, the latest book by Highland Noir writer Margaret Kirk, who won a Good Housekeeping New Novel Award back in 2016. This is her third book, which I fully expect to be as page-turning as the other two.
So, don’t dismiss writing competitions. They are well worth entering – and could be the the start of a career as a professional writer.
This is a big month for those hoping to have their novels noticed. Maybe, like the lambs I saw recently kicking up their heels near Penshurst Place in Kent, it is time to spring into action, either with that book you are writing, or with a short story from the possibilities below.
To begin with, the Yeovil Literary Prize have extended their deadline until 31 May. This is for novels (opening chapters plus synopsis) up to 15,000 words; short stories (max. 2,000 words); poems (up to 40 Lines); and ‘Writing Without Restrictions’. Prizes: Novel: £1,000, £250, £100; Short story and poetry, £500, £200, £100; Writing Without Restrictions: £200, £100, £50. Entry fees: £12 Novel; Short story: £7 Poetry: £7 for one, £10 for two, £12 for three; Writing Without Restrictions: £5. Details: http://www.yeovilprize.co.uk
The deadline for the £10,000 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition has been extended until 14 May. The winner of this competition for completed manuscripts by unpublished and unagented children’s writers will receive a publishing contract with an advance of £10,000 and the offer of representation by a literary agent. What’s not to like? Entry is for completed, full-length fiction manuscripts (30,000 to 80,00 words) for readers between seven and YA. Entry fee is £18. Details: http://www.chickenhousebooks.com/submissions/
BPA First Novel Award 2021 is for unpublished novelists and offers the winner £1,000 plus an agent introduction. First prize is £1,000, with a manuscript review for the runner-up. The top three entrants also receive agent introductions. The entry fee is £20 and the deadline 31 May. Details: bluepencilagency.com/bpa-first-fnovel-award-2021/
The 2021 Page Turner Awards are inviting entries for unpublished and emerging writers. The categories are: Ebook award for published books. Open to any published or self-published book. Screenplay award, for completed scripts and screenplays. Writing award for completed unpublished manuscripts. Writing mentoring award. All awards are for fiction and non-fiction. Prizes include mentoring, publishing packages, audiobook production, marketing and book promotion packages, writing and publishing courses and manuscript critiques. Each entry costs £30. Closing date 30 May. Details: https://pageturnerawards.com/
Bath Novel Award is asking for the first 5,000 words of a novel, plus a one-page synopsis. Prizes: 1st – £3,000; 2nd – agent introductions and feedback; 3rd – Cornerstones online course. Entry: £28. Deadline 31 May. Details: http://bathnovelaward.co.uk
Bridport Prize for short stories (up to 5,000 words), novels (first 8,000words) poetry (up to 42 lines) and flash fiction (up to 250 words). Prizes: £5,000, £1,000, £500 and 10x£100 for short stories and poetry; £1,000, £500, £250, 3x£100 for flash fiction; £1,000, £500, 3x£100 for novels, plus editorial guidance. Entry fee: £9 for flash fiction, £10 per poem, £12 per short story, £20 novel. Deadline 31 May. Details: http://www.bridportprize.org.uk
The Bedford Competition is for short stories up to 3,000 words, poems up to 40 lines. Prizes in each category £1,000, £200, £100. Entry fee: £7.50. Note: Closing date 1 May. Details: http://www.bedfordwritingcompetition.co.uk
Bristol Short Story Prize for stories up to 4,000 words. Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250, 17x£100. Entry fee: £9. Note: Closing date:5 May. Details:http://www.bristolprize.co.uk