Posts Tagged Competition

West Country Writers’ Association Competitions 2011

The Georgian terrace of Royal Crescent (Bath, ...
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If you fancy a visit to Bath next April, have a go at one (or both) of these annual competitions run by the West Country Writers’ Association:

  • Short story competition – the winner will receive £50 in cash and will also be invited to spend one day at the 2012 West Country Writers’ Annual Congress in Bath (20th to 22nd April). Entries must not exceed 1200 words and can be on any theme but must include the words JANE AUSTEN. Entry fee is £5 and the competition is only open to writers who have had no more than 2 short stories professionally published or read on the radio. Closing date 12th December 2011.
  • West Country Writers’ Bursary – all aspiring authors are invited to apply for this annual award. The bursary pays for an individual to attend the annual congress, including accommodation for two nights, all meals, which include the annual luncheon, and entry to the AGM and all talks by well-known writers, or others associated with publishing.  To apply write a letter outlining your literary achievements so far, your hopes for future success, and a brief explanation of why you would like to attend the congress. No closing date on the website for this so I’d get your entries in early. It is a fantastic prize and all you have to do is write a letter!

Those of you that read this blog regularly will know that I was awarded the West Country Writers’ Association bursary last year and enjoyed a wonderful weekend in a lovely hotel near Plymouth in April. It was a great chance to chat with other writers and learn from their experiences. There is more about my experience here.

Full details of this year’s competitions, including where to send your entries, is here




Competition Success & Womag Blues

Two small competition successes to report:Lichfield & District Writers Article Writing Competition Trophy

  • I won the Lichfield & District Writers’ Article Writing Competition (members only) and received the lovely silver tray in the picture. Unfortunately it’s not to keep forever – I will have to hand it on to the next winner. Congratulations to John Walters and Elizabeth Dickerson who came second and third respectively, with articles on listening to the radio as a child and collecting collectibles. My article tried to dispel the many myths around church bell ringing (bats in the belfry, super human strength needed etc etc). 
  • I was placed third in the Emerald Writing Workshops Novel Opening Competition and received a £10 cheque. These 500 word competitions are run quarterly with a very reasonable entry fee of £1.80 for a £50 first prize. Well worth having a go! The next closing date is 31st August 2011 – check the website for further details.

 That’s the good news over with and now the more serious stuff. As many of you will know the women’s magazine fiction market is shrinking and the latest casualty is the one page story in Take a Break (although the Fiction Feast story special will continue to be published). So some womag writers have started a campaign to let the magazines know that we want more fiction. Patsy Collins has put details on her blog about how to use Facebook to voice your opinions to the magazine editors.  Alternatively (if like me you don’t ‘do’ Facebook) you could email or write to the magazines’ letters pages. If enough of us make a fuss then maybe it will have an impact and bring back some of those short story markets. Fingers crossed!



Poetry Competitions

William Blake's "The Tyger," publish...

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The library was full of leaflets for poetry competitions. I only do poetry very badly so I won’t be entering but here are the details for the rest of you:

  • Sonnet or Not organised by Cannon Poets.  Choose one of the traditional sonnet forms or experiment with alternative 14 line forms. First prize £250 and entry fee is £4 for the first poem and £2.50 for each additional poem. Closing date is 31st October 2011. For full details email
  • Nottingham Open Poetry Competition. First prize £300 and entry fee is £3 per poem or £10 for 4 poems. Closing date is 6th September 2011. Full details plus last year’s winners are here.
  • Torbay Open Poetry Competition. This is organised as part of Torbay Poetry Festival and has a huge £800 first prize plus a Prizegiving Party in Torquay. Entry is £4 per poem or £10 for 3 poems. Closing date is 31st August 2011. An entry form is required and I suggest you use the contact form on the Festival website to request one.  

In case you’re wondering – the illustration is William Blake’s poem ‘The Tyger’.

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Short Story Critiques

A couple of weeks ago a follower of this blog contacted me for advice on obtaining a critique for a short story she was working on. Understandably, she didn’t want to pay a fortune and nor she did she want to risk the story being hijacked by someone else.

For a short piece of work like this the critiques offered by competitions are reasonably priced. These include:

  • Writer’ Forum – a monthly competition with an open theme and maximum word length of 3,000. The critique is an extra £5 on top of the entry fee. I’ve used this service once and received a one page report covering: Presentation, Title, Opening, Dialogue, Characterisation, Overall. It pointed out my overuse of clichés, incorrect use of the word ‘indiscrete’, problems with characterisation and the fact that the ending was too ‘sudden’. So for £5 I had a lot to work on to improve the story before it went off to another competition.
  • Meridian Writing run quarterly competitions and offer a basic critique for an extra £3. This is usually an A4 page in length. They are also offering critiques for noncompetition entries with the fee varying on whether a basic or detailed report is required and the length of the story.
  • Flash 500 Competition is another quarterly open themed competition but the word limit is 500. The optional critique is £10. These competitions are run by Lorraine Mace and she also offers critiques on non-competition pieces (any length and including articles and non-fiction books), see here for more details.

A subscription to Freelance Market News includes a free critique on 3,000 words of prose or 120 lines of poetry. It costs £29 for 11 issues and includes free monthly writing competitions plus 20% off entry to The Writers’ Bureau Short Story and Poetry Competition.

Does anyone else know of a critiquing service that is good value?

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Emerald Writing Workshops – Flash Fiction Competitions

It was my birthday on Sunday and the day was made even more special by receiving an email from Eddie Walsh of Emerald Writing Workshops to let me know that I was a runner-up in his Airport themed 500 word short story competition. A book of crime short stories is on its way to me – an unexpected ‘extra’ birthday present!

The winner was Tracy Fells from West Sussex. Her story was set around the baggage reclaim carousel and you can read it here. Congratulations Tracy!

Eddie Walsh is an Irishman living in Nottingham. He mainly writes fillers and letters but has recently become interested in fiction writing. In his competitions he is aiming to encourage the hobby writer and believes even getting on a shortlist stops a writer from giving up.  He provides critiques of entries whenever he can, as writers rarely receive independent feedback.

Eddie runs a 500 word story competition every three months with a £75 prize fund for each one (£50 first prize, £15 second prize, £10 third prize plus books for 3 runners-up). There are 3 competitions currently open to submissions:

  • First 500 words of a novel – closes May 31 2011
  • 500 words on an open theme – closes August 31 2011
  • 500 word ‘Riches to Rags’ story – closes November 30 2011

The entry fee is 5 second class stamps (or a cheque to that value). There are discounts for multiple entries into the same competition. Entries are acknowledged on receipt and periodically the site is updated with the number of stories received for each of the competitions.   

Eddie is also currently running a 4-sentence competition which is free to enter and has a £75 prize fund to be divided equally between the 3 best entries. However, entries will only be accepted from people who have previously entered one of the 500 word competitions.

So if you’re looking for a competition with a friendly feel try Emerald Writing Workshops . And remember that the cost of second class stamps will be going up in April, so buy them now to use for your entry fee or if you intend paying by cheque, get your entries in before the price increase takes effect.

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Alzheimer’s Blogging Competition Entry

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease strikes fear into the heart of anyone. As a writer, it scares me to think that when IAlzheimer's Blogging Competition 2011 eventually retire from the day job to finally spend more time at my keyboard, this debilitating condition might rob me of the ability to string words together coherently.  

I wouldn’t be the first writer to suffer in this way. It is well-known that Terry Pratchett suffers from Alzheimer’s and he has spoken publicly about the disease many times, in some ways becoming the contemporary face of Alzheimer’s. He now dictates his work, either using voice recognition software or to his PA, Rob Wilkins.

In 2009 the Guardian published an article claiming that Agatha Christie may also have been suffering from the disease towards the end of her life.  Experts in Canada studied a selection of Christie’s novels written between the ages of 28 and 82 and counted the numbers of different words, indefinite nouns and phrases used in each. They discovered that Christie’s vocabulary size decreased noticeably (by between 15 to 30%) as she neared the end of her life and that her repetition of phrases and indefinite word usage (something, thing, anything) in her novels increased significantly. Agatha Christie, was never diagnosed with dementia but the authors of this study believe that the changes in her writing are consistent not with normal ageing, but with Alzheimer’s disease.

The results of the Christie study mirror those of a similar analysis of the early and late works of the novelist, Iris Murdoch. Her vocabulary had diminished in her final work and, on average, it contained fewer words and clauses per sentence. Murdoch was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the year after her final novel was completed. 

If diagnosed early there are drugs that can help the sufferers of this terrible disease but up until now the problem has been in making that early diagnosis. However, a brain scan is now being trialled by the NHS that spots the early signs of Alzheimer’s and can diagnose the disease in less than 24 hours. This would replace the often inconclusive memory tests that are currently used by doctors to spot the disease. 

For those currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and those that care for them, there are aids available to make life a little bit easier, such as alarms to indicate when a sufferer has got out of bed or opened a door or window. These are available through The Disabled Shop.

 One in ten people over the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer’s and more than half of those over the age of 85 will succumb to the condition. But only £12 per patient is spent annually on research into Alzheimer’s, compared with £289 per patient spent on cancer – this is an imbalance that can’t be right.

This blog post has been written in response to the Alzheimer’s Disease Blogging Competition, which is aiming to increase awareness of the disease and raise money to fight it. There’s a great list of blogging related prizes plus the chance of paid blogging assignments – if you’ve got a blog then click on the link for details of how to enter. More entrants mean a higher profile for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alternatively, if you don’t blog, click here to make a donation.

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Creative Writing Courses to be Won

Can creative writing be taught? It’s a topic that’s often debated but I don’t think anyone has come up with a definitive answer.Competitions to win Writing Courses

Obviously, we can learn the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. We can also be told how to present a manuscript (double spacing, wide margins etc) and make sure we include a self-addressed envelope. But can anyone tell us how to grab an idea and turn into in a story?

I think it is possible to teach someone to write a competent short story. Most people can grasp the basic rules, such as:

  • Keep the number of characters to a minimum
  • Keep the time frame short
  • Use just one ‘scene’
  • The main character must resolve some sort conflict (internal or external)  

But to rise above the ‘competent’ and produce a tale that really sparkles (and will attract the attention of editors and competition judges) requires some sort of talent or creative leaning. It may be a hidden talent that we don’t know we possess until it is honed by the production of several stories, each a little better than the last – so practice is just as important as anything that can be taught.

So, is it worth going on a creative writing course? The answer is most definitely yes!

The benefits of courses often far outweighs the number of ‘writing rules’ that might be taught. Being with like-minded people, even if only for half a day, will fill you with enthusiasm, give you the opportunity to meet new friends and make you more determined to continue down the rocky writing road.  

But unfortunately writing courses tend to be expensive – unless you can find a subsidised one taking place in a library or similar place. However, all is not lost because it is possible to win your way on to a course with the following competitions:

  • The Arvon Postcard Competition is offering a first prize of a one week Arvon course. Send in a piece of flash fiction or poetry that describes your favourite writing place (seems like a big prize for few words!) Closing date 21 May 2011.
  • The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School is running three competitions, two of which offer a free week at the 2011 Summer School as their first prize. The first is a short story on the theme ‘New Beginnings’ and the second is 1,000 words of a children’s story. Closing date is 30 April 2011.
  • Leaf books is running a travel writing competition with a first prize of a beginners’ travel writing course (in London). Send a 300 word piece of travel writing before the closing date 30 April 2011.
  • Nature of Wales is offering a place on the nature writing course at Tŷ Newydd as the second prize  in their competition (first prize is £500 cash). They require a thousand word article on a subject of topical environmental or wildlife interest in Wales. Closing date 31 March 2011. 


Bits & Pieces

I’ve got a few bits and pieces that might be of interest:

  • Lois Maddox has dropped me a line about two weekend creative writing courses that she is organising. They are both aimed at all levels of writing ability and take place at Swanwick in Derbyshire. The first is ‘From Memories to Memoirs’ . It is led by Alison Chisholm, who will deal with creating a scheme for a life file and selecting a theme or time period to write about. The second is ‘Write Crime’. It is led by retired policeman Nick Oldham and as well as dealing with plot and characters, it will look at setting the scene with up-to-date procedures. Further details are available at


  • My Weekly Pocket Novels have upped their required wordage from 30,000 to 50,000. Payment has also gone up from £200 to £300. As some of you may know, I’m having a go at writing one of these as a stepping stone to a ‘proper’ novel. I did have my ten 3,000 word chapters mapped out. So now it’s back to the drawing board to find a subplot or something else to extend (without padding!) the story. Further details here. 


  • is a new website, billing itself as ‘the home of Irish writing, online’. The events and courses listed on the site will mainly be of interest to those living in Ireland but there is also loads of free writing advice to be found on under the Writers’ Toolbox tab.   


  • The Telegraph has launched a short story competition for young writers aged between 16 and 18. It will be judged by John le Carre and the closing date is April 14th 2011. Full details here.  


  • I have to mention two small personal successes that I found out about last week. Firstly I have short piece about the Festival of Britain in the Cornucopia section of the current (Spring) edition of This England magazine. Secondly I have won the Writers’ Forum subscription that is up for grabs each month to the person sending in the best bit of news for the magazine’s NewsFront page. 


  • Finally, look out for an extra post on Wednesday – I am taking part in my first ever blogfest.

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Women Only Writing Competitions

Where are all the male writers hiding?Women only writing competitions

The writers’ events I’ve been to recently seem to be dominated by the fairer sex. At the Martin Davies Novel Writing Day there were around a dozen participants but only one of them was male. At the writers group I attend, women outnumber men by nearly 3 to 1 and in the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists Association we have just one man (but maybe that is to be expected!).

And judging by the email addresses of the subscribers to this blog, 95 % of them are women and most of the comments left are from ladies too.

I pointed out this imbalance in the sexes to my husband and he suggested that maybe all the male writers are actually writing and producing best-sellers, rather than sitting around talking about writing or surfing the blogosphere.

He could have a point. We women get caught up in the social aspects of writing whereas our male counterparts actually knuckle down and get on with it.

So as we seem to be all girls together, here are some suggestions for women only competitions to get you inspired and writing:

  • The Glass Woman is a fiction competition for stories of between 50 and 5,000 words. The theme is open but the subject must be of significance to women. No entry fee and the closing date is March 21st. First prize is $500 plus there are runners-up prizes. Previous winning entries plus full details are here.
  • The Baptist Times are running a women’s writing competition for non-fiction. There are 3 categories each with a prize of £100; Spirituality, Cultural Comment and Faith & Life. The judges are looking for writing that’s stylish, insightful and powerful. No entry fee, word limit is 1,000 and closing date is 4th April. Full details here.  
  • The Grey Hen Poetry competition is open only to women over 60. Closing date is 30th April 2011, £3 entry fee and £100 first prize. Full details here.

If you’re already a published novelist then there’s always the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Oh, and if you’re a man reading this – please leave a comment and make yourself known (or use the box on the right to sign-up to receive my blog posts by email – that way you’ll never miss one!)



Books to be Won!

One of my goals for 2011 is to grow the readership of this blog – it can feel quite lonely sitting here, prattling away and Millennium Trilogy Booksnot knowing if anyone will read it!

I plan to do this in 2 ways:

  • Include information that can be ‘used’ (e.g. markets, competitions and writing tips etc.) in as many posts as possible
  • Hold a prize draw 

 The draw prize is the 3 best-selling books in the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. If you’ve already enjoyed these novels about Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, then they’d make a great gift for a book-loving friend.

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is use the box to the right of this page to sign-up for email updates. This means that each post on my blog will be sent directly to your inbox. You can un-subscribe at any time (although I hope you won’t!).

Simply enter your email address at the Email Subscription heading to the right of this post. You will receive a confirmation email asking you to confirm your subscription and then, hey presto!, you’re done.

Everybody on the subscription list on Friday 4th February will be entered into the draw – including those of you that already subscribe. I will contact the winner via email and when he/she has confirmed their name and address, I will announce the result here. I will also give a plug to the winner’s blog, book or anything else (writing related) they wish to publicise.

Please note the books can only be posted to UK addresses (excluding the Channel Islands).

N.B. If you prefer to manage your blogs via RSS Feed you can still enter the draw. Just add this blog to your feed, contact me via the form on my ‘About’ page and I will enter you into the draw.

Another couple of things I’ve thought of since originally posting this:

  • If I can’t get hold of the winner within 14 days of the draw taking place then I reserve the right to re-draw (so let me know in advance via the contact form on my ‘About’ page if you’re going away).
  • If your confirmation email isn’t coming through – check your spam folder in case it’s hiding there 

Best of Luck!

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