Maggie Davies and Sarah Dawson do such sterling work for us each month listing writing competitions for us to enter. Some of them are quite niche – some nicher than others.
You may wonder how these comps actually work out. Well, here’s the inside story of one of them last year. It certainly categorises as niche – perhaps it’s the nichest – and it’s the one I’m most involved with, the annual comp of the British Czech & Slovak Association. The subject matter for entries can be either (1) links between Britain and the Czech and/or Slovak Republics, at any time in their history or (2) society in those Republics since the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Each year there’s a suggested (but not compulsory) theme.
Freedom was the suggested theme in this year’s BCSA writing competition – freedom in any of its forms. The entrants showed their usual ingenuity in interpreting that. We took to the skies with a Czechoslovak pilot fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain. In another entry we mused on the excitement and the hopes in Czechoslovakia when freedom was restored in 1989, and on the reality and disappointments since that great time (but ending, I’m glad to say, on an optimistic note). In a third entry we saw how the son of a well-off family in pre-war Czechoslovakia found his freedom working in a squalid farmhouse in southern Bohemia and then in a quarry in Derbyshire. In a fourth we joined an alcoholic gambler pondering the meaning of freedom in a Czech bar.
Non-freedom entries included our very first venture into the world of speedway, and a comic playlet showing a Czechoslovak Jewish refugee talking her way into a job at Roedean School in 1939.
Deciding on the winners is always difficult. But the judges managed it. Thank you, judges!
Second prize, winning £150, went to Liz Kohn, with a piece called Two Worlds. Liz has been researching her family history and in particular that of her father and his first wife, Alice Glasnerová. Her current research is into Alice’s trial and its relationship to the Slánský show trials of 1952 in Communist Czechoslovakia. Liz’s entry tells some of this story.
This year’s winner – taking home £400 – was Tereza Pultarová. Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, originally from Prague. She has degrees from Charles University and a Master’s in Science from the International Space University in Strasbourg. Her winning entry was The Final Incarnation – Chapter 1. It is the first chapter of a novel Tereza has written, whichdeals with growing up in 1990s post-communist Czechoslovakia, and explores how traumas from the Communist years live on through family dysfunction and alcoholism.
It was so good to be back in a proper setting for the presentation of the prize this year. In 2020 we presented the prize via Zoom, during one of the BCSA’s other events. Last year we had to do it by post. This year I had the privilege of marking Tereza’s success at our resumed Annual Dinner at the May Fair Hotel in London on November 23, as in the first photo above. (Thanks to Erik Weisenpacher for the photos.)
The winning entries (and a selection of the others) are published in the Assocation’s magazine, the British Czech & Slovak Review.
We’ll run the competition again in 2023. Watch our website, social media and the Review for details.
The closing date for the British Czech & Slovak Association’s 2022 writing competition has been extended. It is now midnight on Sunday July 31. So that gives you and your writerly friends and relatives another month to come up with 2,000 words that will interest, amuse, irritate, educate or otherwise entertain the eminent judges. £400 lies the other side of those eminent judges – plus publication in the British Czech & Slovak Review. The runner-up gets £150 (plus publication).
This year’s suggested (but not compulsory) theme is Freedom – in any aspect. The interpretation is yours. Personal freedom, freedom in relationships, the freedom of nations, democratic freedoms, or just the ending of lockdown? You choose.
The 2021 competition brought in some impressive creative writing, including such gems as:
An entertaining account of a Scot’s postgraduate year in Czechoslovakia in 1972, which included a wedding missed because he was drinking slivovice to celebrate the release from prison of the father of a hitchhiker he had picked up en route.
A topical entry on the Me-Too theme that took us to a trial of a celebrity accused of sexual assault, with the simultaneous thoughts of the judge and the two victims.
A moving account of a young Englishwoman’s visit to Slovakia for her Slovak father’s funeral. (This won a runner-up prize.)
You can feature here! Fiction or fact – either is welcome. What is essential is that all entries must deal with either (1) the links between Britain and the lands now comprising the Slovak and Czech Republics, at any time in history, or (2) describing society in the Republics since 1989. Topics can include, for example, history, politics, sport, the sciences, economics, the arts or literature.
Entry is free. Submissions are invited from individuals of any age, nationality or educational background. Entrants do not need to be members of the BCSA.
Entries should be submitted by post to the BCSA Prize Administrator, 24 Ferndale, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 3NS, England, or by e-mail to email@example.com. The closing date is now midnight on July 31 2022.
Here are some competitions for you to enter in June. It is easy to think such things not worth entering, but winning or being shortlisted is always a possibility and often an opportunity as well. And a competition deadline can frequently shift Writer’s Block.
We hope it might encourage you to know about past successes of members of ninevoices. If we can do it, why not you?
·Won the Historical Writers Association Unpublished Novel Award
·Won the Barbara Pym Short Story Award – twice! – together with publication
·Won the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award
·Won the Henshaw Short Story Award, plus publication in their anthology
·Won the Hysteria Writing Competition
·Shortlisted for the Debut Dagger Award
·Shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize (twice)
·Shortlisted for the Norwich Writers Olga Sinclair Award
·Shortlisted (1 of 14 out of over 2,000 entries) in a Cornerstones ‘Are You Ready to Submit’ competition
·Shortlisted for Bridport Flash
·Shortlisted for Bedford Short Story Competition
·Shortlisted for Exeter [Short] Story Award
·Shortlisted for RNA Joan Hessayon Award
·Longlisted for Mslexia Novel Competition
·Longlisted for Exeter Novel Prize
·Poem published in The Times; short stories in Writing Magazine, Writers’ Forum, Pony Magazine
Hopefully, those efforts will inspire you to enter one of the following:-
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 or society in those lands since 1989. Optional theme for 2022 is: “Freedom”. Prizes: £400, £150, publication in the British Czech and Slovak Review. Entry is FREE and the deadline is 30 June. This competition might sound daunting, but need not be. The judges would love to receive something impressively erudite – but they also have a well-developed sense of humour and would equally enjoy being entertained by a true or imaginary tale of someone’s stag party on the streets of Prague. The choice is yours. Why not surprise them? Details: https://wwww.bcsa.co.uk/2022-bcsa-writing-competition/
The Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize 2022 is inviting entries of “innovative, imaginative unpublished literary fiction that explores the possibilities of the novel form”. The winner will receive $10,000 and simultaneous publication in the UK and Ireland by Fitzcarraldo Editions, in Australia and New Zealand by Giramondo and in North America by New Directions. All submissions must include a cover letter and a brief outline with the manuscript. Closing date: 1 June. Details: https://fitzcarraldoeditions.com/
The newly launched Seasiders’ Write Debut Novel Award invites entries from writers who have not yet published a full-length novel (at least 25,000 words) and do not have a literary agent. The winner will receive £1,500 and their novel will be published by Seasiders’ Write in print and ebook. The first runner up will receive £500 and ebook publication and the second runner-up will receive £250 and ebook publication. Send the first 5,000 words of the novel plus a one-page synopsis. Shortlisted writers will be asked to send their completed novel manuscript (the maximum length is 65,000 words). Entry fee: £20. Closing date: 1 June. Details: http://www.seasiderswrite.com
Win £1,000 for the best unpublished short story of the year in the VS Pritchett Story Prize 2022, plus publication in Prospect magazine and the RSL Review. Stories should be unpublished and between 2,000–4,000 words. Entry fee:£7.50 per story. Closing date 1 July, but there are 50 free entries for low-income writers, who should apply before 17 June. Details: https://rsliterature.org/award/v-s-pritchett-short-story-prize/
Farnham Flash Fiction Competition for fiction up to 500 words on any subject. Prizes: £75, £25, £25 for the best entry featuring Farnham. Entry fee: £5. Deadline 17 June. Details: http://www.farnhamfringefestival.org
Leicester Writes Short Story Prize for stories up to 3,500 words. Prizes: £175, £75, £50. Entry fee: £5. Deadline 20 June. Details: http://leicesterwrites.co.uk
Wells Festival of Literature is inviting entries for its creative writing competitions: Open Poetry for original unpublished poems up to 35 lines – prizes £1,000, £500 and £250, entry fee £6 per poem; Short Story 1,000-2,000 words – prizes £750, £300, £200, entry fee £6 per story; Book for Children, enter the first two chapters or twenty pages, for a book for children from age nine to YA – prizes £750, £300 and £200, entry fee £6. Closing date 30 June. Details: http://www.wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk/2022-competitions/
The 2022 Queen Mary Wasafiri Writing Prize invites entries in fiction, life-writing and poetry. Three winners will each receive £1,000 and publication in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will be published online. Writers entering the competition must not have had a full-length book of fiction, life-writing or poetry published. 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 and must be self-contained, i.e. not an extract from a longer piece. A single poetry entry may consist of up to 3,000 words. Entry is £10 for a single entry and £16 for a double entry. Each writer may enter two manuscripts in a single submission, either in the same or different categories. Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.wasafiri.org/new-writing-prize/
The Moth Short Story Prize 2022 for short fiction up to 4,000 words. First prize €3,000, second prize a writing retreat at Circle of Misse and €250, third prize €1,000. The three winning stories will appear in the autumn issue of The Moth, Ireland’s literary magazine. Entry fee: €15 per story. Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.themothmagazine.com
Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for full-length comedy plays. Prizes: £10,000, possible staging at Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool; 2×5£1,500 highly commendeds. Entry fee: £20. Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.playwritingprize.com
Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting is looking for full-length new stage plays written in English which have not been published or professionally performed. Prizes: £16,000; 2x£8,000. FREE ENTRY. Closing date: 6 June. Details: http://www.writeaplay.co.uk
James White Award for science fiction (broadly defined) of between 2,000-6,000 words by non-professional writers. Prizes: £200 plus publication in Interzone. Free entry. Deadline: 30 June. Details: http://www.jameswhiteaward.com
British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition for any kind of fantasy story – science fiction, magic realism, horror, etc – up to 5,000 words. Prizes: £100, £50, £20; year’s membership of BFS, publication. Entry fee: £5 (free for BFS members). Closing date: 30 June. Details: http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk
Efforts have been made to check the above details, but do please make sure you have consulted the websites yourselves, in case of errors or last-minute changes. Good luck!
Congratulations to Radovana Jágriková on her success in the To Hull and Back writing competition, as announced on the excellent Christopher Fielden website! Radovana won with her story Too. Entries in the competition had to be humorous, but Too I also found unsettling and with what was for me a wholly unexpected twist. It will appear in the To Hull and Back anthology. (See http://www.christopherfielden.com/short-story-competition/results-2015.php for more on the results.)
Radovana I have met before, as in 2013 I had the pleasure of presenting her with the second prize in the British Czech & Slovak Association’s annual writing competition. She won that with Journeys. That story especially appealed as its setting was the prizegiving at a writing competition! It described the repercussions three years later of a British stag weekend in Bratislava.
One of ninevoices’ own, Maggie Davies, was given a Special Mention in the comp, for her story The Castle (see The Rejection Diaries below). A tale well worthy of its commendation, I can confirm.
The 2016 To Hull and Back competition is already open. Prizes are £1,000, £150 and £75, and the prizewinning and shortlisted entries will be published in an anthology. The glory doesn’t end there, for the cover of the anthology will include a photo of the winner’s face, depicted riding a flaming motorcycle and holding “a quill of wrath”, and their copy will be fixed to the handlebars of a Harley Davidson and ridden from Bristol To Hull and Back. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.
The British Czech & Slovak Association’s 2015 competition has closed; the judges’ votes have been counted and verified, and the results will be announced at the BCSA’s Annual Dinner in central London on 27 November 2015. (Some tickets are still available, for both members and non-members – see http://www.bcsa.co.uk/whatsnew.html#dinner for info). The results will also appear here.
The 2016 BCSA competition will be launched in February next year. The themes are likely to be the same as this year’s: either (a) a link or links between Britain and the Czech or Slovak Republics (or their predecessor states), at any point in history or (b) society in transition in those Republics since the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Entry will be free, the closing date will be 30 June 2016, and the word limit 2,000. With migration so topical just now, in 2015 writers were encouraged to consider this as a subject for their entries. Watch this space for any similar suggestion in 2016. To express interest in 2016 you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, repeated congrats to Radovana and Maggie. And here’s to 2016 for the rest of us!