Archive for category Competitions

The Poetry Pharmacy, Bishop’s Castle

Poetry Pharmacy Bishop's CastleOn holiday in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, I discovered the Poetry Pharmacy run by Deborah Alma. It’s part cafe, part poetry bookshop, part events space and part therapy; the latter via an appointment with the Poetry Pharmacist.

We’d been walking as part of the Bishop’s Castle Walking Festival and needed coffee and cake when we found the Pharmacy. It doesn’t do the usual lattes, cappuccinos etc. Instead the waitress recommended one of the different coffee blends and then delivered a glass flask of black coffee plus a jug of warm, frothy milk on the side. Similarly, she recommended a tea blend for my husband. We sat for a long time in the quiet, peaceful space, leafing through poetry books and magazines which centred around the calmer side of life. Afterwards, I treated myself to a copy of The Emergency Poet edited by Deborah – and, unusually, the book was cheaper in the Pharmacy than on Amazon. It’s a volume full of poems designed to destress and improve the reader’s state of mind. I will be sharing some of the poems with my Shared Reading Group soon.

Still on the subject of poetry, I’ve come across three competitions open for entries:

The Winchester Poetry Prize for poems on any subject and in any form or style. First prize is £1,000. Entry fee is £5. Closing date is 31 July 2022. The judge is Jo Bell, whom I recently had the pleasure of interviewing about her role in compiling the book On this Day She: Putting Women Back into History One Day at a Time for an article in The People’s Friend magazine.

The Writers Bureau Platinum Jubilee Poetry Competition. This is FREE to enter but you need to be quick: closing date is 31st May 2022. The prize is publication on The Writers Bureau’s website and a course or place on a Zoom workshop of the winner’s choice.

Ironbridge Poetry Competition 2022. This competition welcomes poems on any and every subject. First prize is £300 and the closing date is 31 July 2022. The judge is Simon Fletcher, who is widely-published as a poet and lives in Shropshire. He’s also the manager of Offa’s Press.

Poetry Pharmacy Menu

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Librarian Stories Wanted

This is a bit of an unusual call for stories but it caught my eye because I’ve been working as a library assistant since last October.

Stack of chocolate chip cookies on isolated background

16211412 © Grahamtaylor | Dreamstime.com

Air and Nothingness Press want short stories about a librarian for their upcoming anthology which will have the title ‘The Librarian’. However, the stories must be about a very specific librarian who, “… travels the multiverse (along the timeline – past through the future – and across planetary systems and universes) helping out people, societies, and those in need, with their questions, problems, and research (as librarians do).” The stories should be positive and hopeful and have narratives that celebrate librarians.

There’s lots more information about the requirements on the Air and Nothingness Press website.

The closing date for submissions is June 30 2022. Selected stories will be paid for at the rate of 8 cents per word and authors will also receive one print copy of the anthology.

The cookie picture was just to get your attention. Sorry.

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Free: Concrete Short Story Competition

Outsideleft is running a free to enter short story competition in conjunction with The Bear Bookshop.cement-mixer

The theme is ‘concrete’. ‘Concrete’ might not immediately grab you but the story doesn’t have to be about physical concrete. It could be about solid ideas or anything unmovable and difficult to get around.

First prize is £100. Maximum of 1,000 words and the closing date is 31st May 2022.

Any genre is acceptable and entry is by email only. As always, make sure you read all the rules before submitting.

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The Magic Faraway Tree and Two Free Writing Opportunities

I heard on the news today that Jacqueline Wilson is to write new stories in The Magic Faraway Tree series, originally created by Enid Blyton. On the Today program she said, “I’m being very very faithful to the whole situation that Enid Blyton set up with this wonderfully original idea about a tree that reaches up to different lands. I have three modern children going into the Enchanted wood, up the tree, meeting Silky, Moon-Face etc. and then going up and finding the different lands. So the magic world stays the same and if anybody reads this new book when it comes out I very much hope that they will go back to the others.”
I’ve mentioned before that I loved The Magic Faraway Tree books as a child so I’m in two minds about the new, modern stories being written. I don’t see how they can contain the same magic if the children are eating pizza rather than pink blancmange. But if the new books are a hit with today’s youngsters and get them reading (as they did me, way back when) then they have to be a good thing.
What do you think?

If you’re scratching your head and wondering what writing project to tackle next, a couple of free competitions have come to my notice:

The Fusilli Writing Flash Fiction Competition is looking for Fusillistories up to 200 words with a twist.
There is no closing date but the winner and short-listed entrants will be announced once 100 entries have been received (website shows details of how many entries have been received so far). No prize except publication on the Fusilli website and promotion on social media. Plus there is the opportunity to purchase feedback for £3.

The Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing 2022 is looking for one-act plays of 25 to 35 minutes from amateur playwrights. The plays should use a maximum of six actors and be suitable for a studio theatre. Three winning scripts will be performed during the Windsor Fringe Festival in October and the overall winner will receive a £500 prize. Entry is £10 BUT if “BBC Writers Room” is written on the top right hand corner of the contact sheet accompanying the play, no submission fee is required. More details about the waiving of the fee can be found on the BBC Writers Room website.

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National Flash Fiction Competition 2022 from Nottingham Writers’ Club

I’ve had an email from Mars Hill about a new competition being run by Nottingham Writers’ Cub. To reflect the growing popularity of flash fiction, the Club are offering prizes of £100, £75 and £50 for the best 100-word stories on the theme ‘Wish You Were Here’.

The competition details suggest, ‘You could tell a story in the traditional form of a postcard from a beautiful place, or maybe you’d like someone special to be with you at a certain time. It can be happy, sad, dramatic, frightening, scary or horrifying, the choice of genre is yours, and please make it clear who you wish to be where.’

The entry fee for each story is £5 (free for Club members) and everyone gets a few lines of feedback. Entries will be accepted from 1st to 28th February 2022 either by post or via the Club website.

However, this is not a competition for ‘professional’ writers and those who have earned more than £150 from short stories during 2020/21 should not enter. And, as always, don’t forget to read all the terms and conditions.

Over the last couple of years we’ve had less opportunity to send postcards but increased reason to ‘wish you were here’. It’s a theme that will resonate with most of us – so why not make the most of it and get writing?

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Stories Competition

Here is a free to enter competition which is completely relaxed about the format and genre of entries.

The Evening Standard in association with Netflix is running a ‘What’s Your Story’ Competition as part of their Stories Festival which takes place in September 2021.

Entries can be written (up to 1,000 words) or recorded as a video (up to 2-minutes in length).
The story can be about childhood, life or from your imagination but must be original and from a previously unpublished writer. The entry can be written as a short story, poem, screen/theatre play or can even be sung.
The competition closes on 30 June 2021 at 11.59 AM

The prizes sound pretty good. According to the competition website:
The winners will receive a suite of prizes to support them in their journey into the industry. Including workshop sessions with either leading screenwriters or editors, publication of winning stories on standard.co.uk, and VIP access to the festival. The winning pieces will be performed as part of the Stories Festival by well-known writers.

As usual don’t forget to read all the terms and conditions before entering and Good Luck! This sounds like a great opportunity for someone just starting their writing journey.

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Write a New Chapter for Alice in Wonderland

The Lewis Carroll Society is launching a writing competition to commemorate 150 years of ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ and to celebrate the creativity of Lewis Carroll. The award is part of the bequest from Ellis S Hillman who was the first President of the Lewis Carroll Society in 1969.

The challenge is to write a ‘missing’ chapter for either Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or for Through the Looking-Glass. The chapter can introduce new characters or re-use existing characters. It can create new scenarios or follow from an existing scenario.

The competition is free to enter and offers a prize of £100 in each of three different age groups (including adults).

The closing date is 3rd July 2021 which coincides with Alice’s Day in Oxford.

Full competition details can be found on the Lewis Carroll Society website.

So, scoot down the nearest rabbit hole, take tea with the Mad Hatter and let your imagination take flight!

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An Update on Me

I’ve been rather quiet about my own literary endeavours of late, so here’s a quick update.

Cup Cakes

Pre-Covid Memories from March 2020

At the beginning of February the first three chapters and synopsis of last year’s NaNoWriMo manuscript generated a call for the full manuscript from my agent. Since then I’ve been working on bringing the rest of the manuscript up to scratch. Today I pressed ‘send’ and now have around six weeks to wait for the verdict. 

I’ve also completed a training course (via Zoom) to become a Shared Reading Group Leader. I’m looking forward to the end of restrictions and the opportunity to get a real-life group started.

So what do I do while I wait for the above two things to come to fruition? I’ve made a little list of possibilities. They won’t all get done but, hopefully, the list will mean I don’t waste too much time procrastinating:

  • Complete article commissioned by The People’s Friend
  • Chase up pitches outstanding with other publications.
  • Attempt to win my way to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School by entering their short story competition.
  • Publish my short story collections on Kobo when the relevant KDP Select enrolments end. This will involve sourcing new covers. Kobo cited the existing covers as a factor in stopping the books being accepted into their promotions. 
  • Investigate whether I have enough short stories to publish another collection.
  • Revisit the categories/keywords on my existing KDP publications.
  • Update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners.

Watch this space to find out how I get on!

What’s everyone else working on? Are you a list-person or do you just go where the whim takes you?

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The Dead Cat Poetry Prize

This is such an unusual theme for a poetry competition that I just had to give it a mention here! Cat Poetry competition

According to the competition website: “The Dead Cat Poetry Prize is an annual poetry competition de(a)dicat(t)ed to the world’s best poetry about felines that have shuffled off their nine mortal coils. The first prize will be awarded in 2021”.

However, this competition is not all doom, gloom and dead cats. Visit the website’s FAQ (Fiercely Anticipated Questions) page and you will learn that poems about cats who are still alive can also be submitted. Poems concerned with ‘feline mortality’ will be accepted, even if the subject is still alive.

So what are you waiting for?! Pens and felines at the ready, please!

Closing date is March 17th 2021. The entrance fee is £2.75. There are prizes of £25, £10 and £5 and winning poems will be published on the website.

(By the way, the cat in the picture isn’t mine. It was spotted on holiday in Passau.)

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Highland Book Prize Longlist Announced

We couldn’t go on holiday this year but I spent the latter part of the summer travelling the length and breadth of the Scottish Highlands. In books.

I was a reader for the longlist of the Highland Book Prize.

The Highland Book Prize is an annual book prize that celebrates the talent, landscape and cultural diversity of the Highlands. It is open to fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
In 2020 there were 52 entries, which were initially reviewed by a panel of 145 volunteer readers, comprising both industry professionals and avid readers. Our opinions and comments were then aggregated to build a longlist of thirteen books.

The longlist will be read by a panel of experts who will draw up the shortlist. The final winner will be announced in May 2021 and will receive £1000 and a place on a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor.

Reading for the longlist was a great experience. I was sent a mix of fiction, memoir, non-fiction and poetry. Some of it challenged me and other stuff was more along the lines of my usual reading matter. I learned a lot about the people, landscape and nature of the Highlands. I’m hoping to be on the panel again next year. If you’d like to take part as well, applications to be a reader in 2021 are now open.

On another subject entirely, if you are struggling to find the time or space to write, you might be interested in this post, which I wrote for Lightbox Originals

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