Writing competitions

images (1)Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is for unpublished novels by women over the age of 21. Submit: first 30 pages, plus a synopsis. Judges: Literary agent, Madeleine Milburn, and Dr Lindsey Traub. Prizes: £1,000; shortlisted entrants will be given half hour consultations with Madeleine. Entry fee: £10 per entry. Closes 12 March

Brittle Star creative writing competition (stories and poems) – Prizes in each genre: First £250, Second £100, Third £50. Fee £4 for first entry then £3 subsequent entries.  2014 Brittle Star subscribers get second entry for free. Closes 12 March

Exeter Writers’ Short Story Competition is open to writers anywhere in the world. Stories up to 3,000 words in any genre except children’s. First prize £500, second £250, third £100, plus publication on their website, and an additional prize of £100 for the best story from a Devon writer. Entry fee: £5 per story. Visit website, or send SAE to Competition, 202 Manstone Avenue, Sidmouth, EX10 9TL. Closes 31 March

Short Fiction Journal competition – No restriction on theme, up to 5000 words. Entry is £10 for up to two stoties or £5 for one. First prize is £500, second prize is £100. Closes 31 March.

Bath Short Story Award – No story theme’; 2,200 word limit. Entry is £8 and prizes range from £50 to £1,000. Closes 31 March.

Dark Tales – First prize £100 for horror and speculative fiction up to 5000 words. Closes 31 March 

Writers’ Village Foundation – Debut novelists can win a £500 bursary to have their novel professionally critiqued at the Writers’ Village Foundation. The top eight submissions will also gain personal feedback from the award judge, novelist Michelle Spring. Entry is £12. Closes 31 March.

The Brighton Prize is a new competition for stories of 1,000 – 2,000 words on any subject. Judges: Bethan Roberts and Laura Lockington. Prizes: £400; 2@£50. The top three writers will be invited to read their work at the Brighton Fringe Festival, and the top ten will be included in an anthology and will receive tickets to the Brighton Fringe. Entry fee: £6 per story.Closes 1 April.

Berkhamsted Writing Competition– Story theme is ‘Beginnings’; 1,000 word limitEntry is £5 and main prize is a £500 bursary for MA in Creative Writing at Kingston University. Closes 4 April

Bristol Short Story Prize – short story, 4,000 words. an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers. We publish an annual anthology of the winning stories as well as presenting cash prizes.First prize £1,000. Entry fee £8 Closes 30 April.

Momaya Press’s Short Story Competition is open to writers of any nationality writing in English and offers the opportunity for winners to be published in the Momaya Annual Review 2014. Entries may be up to 3,000 words long and any subject or style is welcome. The competition is open to writers from all countries, but entries must be written in English. The Theme: The 2014 theme is “Captivity”.  First Prize: $200 (£110) plus copy of the Momaya Press Annual Review 2012. Closes 30 April.

Almond Press Broken Worlds Dystopian short story contest – Entry is free with a 5,000 word length. First prize is £100 and all shortlisted entries will be published. Closes 1 May

The Fiction Desk Ghost Story Competition – First prize £500; entry fee £7; 2000-5000 words Closes 30 May.

Frome Festival Short Story Competition is now open and  stories on any theme of between 1000 and 2200 words are invited. Entry fees are £5 per story and entry may be by post or online. Closes 31 May.

The Bridport Prize is open to all nationalities aged 16 years and over. Its mission is to encourage emerging writers and promote literary excellence through its competition structure. The poem and short story categories each have a first prize of £5,000, second prize £1,000 and third prize £500. An additional 10 supplementary prizes (for each category) of £50 each are awarded. A new category for flash fiction with a prize of £1,000 was launched in 2010. There is a second prize of £500, 3rd prize of £250 and 3 supplementary prizes of £25. Closes 31 May




Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death wins the Wingate prize

GetImageLandscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka has won the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate prize (shortlist) and  been hailed by the judges as ‘the greatest book on Auschwitz since Primo Levi’

The book is an exploration of the time he spent in Auschwitz as a child. The Observer called it “one of the essential books to emerge in recent years” – Kulka’s Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death tells how he was sent as a boy from Terezín ghetto to the Familienlager(family camp) of Auschwitz-Birkenau, escaping death because he was in hospital recovering from diphtheria at the time of the closure and death marches.

It beat works including Edith Pearlman’s short story collection Binocular Vision –collected stories about the predicaments, odd, wry, funny and painful of being human and Shani Boianjiu’s novel about life for three young women conscripted into the Israeli army, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, to win the £4,000 award, previously awarded to Imre Kertész, Amos Oz and WG Sebald.

The panel called Kulka’s work “the greatest book on Auschwitz since Primo Levi”, with the chair of judges, Rachel Lasserson, saying the Czechoslovakia-born author had “achieved the impossible; a mythological and strangely beautiful new language for living with Auschwitz”.

Translated by Ralph Mendel, the book is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor’s look at the “images that well up” in his memory, “those fragments of memory and imagination that have remained from the world of the wondering child of 10 to 11 that I once had been” – an exploration of “what in my private mythology is called ‘the Metropolis of Death'”.


For all the epic romantics ..

image-medium (83)#RomanticReads final lists from the shortlists for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year. Surely the best nomination must be Jessica Blair, revealed last year to be 90-year-old World War Two veteran, Bill Spence!! The only man included.

The Epic Romantic Novel

Jessica Blair, The Road Beneath Me

When Kate Swan’s overbearing father demands that she marry a man she despises, she refuses and is cast out of her comfortable home in Whitby. Fortunately, a kindly local widow is looking for a lady companion and, for the moment, Kate’s future is assured

Mary Fitzgerald, The Love Of A Lifetime

Can love survive the worst betrayal of all? From the moment Elizabeth Nugent arrives to live on his family’s farm in Shropshire, Richard Wilde is in love with her. And as they grow up, it seems like nothing can keep them apart. But as the Second World War rages, Richard is sent to fight in the jungles of Burma, leaving Elizabeth to deal with a terrible secret that could destroy his family

Emma Fraser, When Dawn Breaks

Two women. One secret. A heart-breaking choice. Skye, 1903. Jessie, the young daughter of a local midwife, is determined to become a nurse one day, but family loss and heartache jeopardise her dreams. Isabel, the doctor’s daughter, is planning to follow in her father’s footsteps – even though medicine is not considered a fitting career for a woman. And then there’s Archie, Jessie’s older brother, who Isabel just can’t stay away from. After one encounter in the woods, Archie disappears, and all their lives are irrevocably changed

Kate Lord Brown, The Perfume Garden

High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in 70 years. It is the perfect retreat. However, for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed there during the Spanish Civil War, Emma’s new home evokes terrible memories

Jennifer McVeigh, The Fever Tree

Frances Irvine, destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, is forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Cape. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men. One driven by ambition, the other by his ideals

Lucinda Riley, The Midnight Rose

Filled with unforgettable characters, ‘The Midnight Rose’ is a multi-layered, heart-breaking tale, and marks Lucinda Riley’s most ambitious novel to date. Spanning four generations and two very different cultures, it sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajas of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a girl, Anahita Chaval, from 1911 to the present day

The Historical Romantic Novel

Charlotte Betts, The Painter’s Apprentice

1688. Beth Ambrose has lead a sheltered life within the walls of her home in London; a place where her parents provide a sanctuary for melancholic souls. A passionate and gifted artist, Beth shares a close bond with Johannes who nurtures her talents and takes her on as his apprentice. But political tensions rise in the capital

Christina Courtenay, The Gilded Fan

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all that you love? It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England on a ship with a lecherous crew and an untrustworthy but attractive captain

Liz Harris, A Bargain Struck

Widower Connor Maguire advertises for a wife to raise his young daughter, Bridget, work the homestead and bear him a son. Ellen O’Sullivan longs for a home, a husband and a family. On paper, she is everything that Connor needs. However, it soon becomes clear that Ellen has not been entirely truthful

Joanna Hickson, The Agincourt Bride 5 stars

This is the epic story of the queen who founded the Tudor dynasty, told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. Her beauty fuelled a war. Her courage captured a king

Annie Murray, The Women Of Lilac Street

Birmingham, almost a decade after the end of the Great War, and the women of Lilac Street have had more than their fair share of troubles. Rose Southgate is trapped in a loveless marriage. Jen Green is desperately struggling to make ends meet, with a sick husband, and five children to support. And Phyllis Taylor is a widow who has managed to put a dark and traumatic past behind her

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day …

image-medium (81)#RomanticReads So let’s celebrate with these fine specimens of chick lit which have made one of the Romantic novels of the year shortlists, this one for: The Romantic Comedy Novel

Jenny Colgan, Christmas At The Cupcake Café

Issy Randall, proud owner of the Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance

Jenny Colgan  The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – 5 stars !!!

As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate – made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris. It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire , who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier

Margaret James, The Wedding Diary

Where’s a fairy godmother when you need one? If you won a fairy-tale wedding in a luxury hotel, you’d be delighted – right? But what if you didn’t have anyone to marry? Cat Aston did have a fiancé, but now it looks like her Prince Charming has done a runner

Milly Johnson, It’s Raining Men

Best friends from work May, Lara and Clare are desperate for some time away. They have each had a rough time of it lately and need some serious R & R. So they set off to a luxurious spa for ten glorious days, but when they arrive at their destination, it seems it is not the place they thought it was. In fact, they appear to have come to entirely the wrong village. Here in Ren Dullem nothing is quite what it seems; the lovely cobbled streets and picturesque cottages hide a secret that the villagers have been keeping hidden for years. Why is everyone so unfriendly and suspicious? Why does the landlord of their holiday rental seem so rude? And why are there so few women in the village?

Ali McNamara, Step Back In Time 5 stars

How many lifetimes would you travel to find a love that lasts for ever? When single career girl Jo-Jo steps onto a zebra crossing and gets hit by a car, she awakes to find herself in 1963. And then it happens three more times, and Jo-Jo finds herself living a completely new life in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The only people she can rely on are Harry and Ellie, two companions from 2013, and George, the owner of a second-hand record store. If she’s ever to return from her travels, Jo-Jo must work out why she’s jumping through time like this. And if she does make it back, will her old life ever be the same again?

Fiona Walker, The Summer Wedding

The hotly anticipated wedding of Iris Devonshire, ravishing teenage daughter of celebrity couple Mia and Leo, is to be held in the gardens of their grand Palladian pile alongside the Thames. But Mia and Leo worry that she’s rushing into the marriage

The Folio Prize shortlist

image-medium (79)The inaugural shortlist of the latest literary award on the block, the Folio Prize, has been unveiled, and it features five American authors.

The final eight books – from 80 read in total by the Folio judges – span poetry, novels and short stories.

– Last Friends by Jane Gardam
– Schroder by Amity Gaige – 4 stars by one of our readers
– Benediction by Kent Haruf
– The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner – rated 5 star by one of our readers
– A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava
– Tenth of December by George Saunders
– A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
– Red Doc by Anne Carson
The Folio Prize was first announced in 2011 and was then known as the Literature Prize, coming into being because the Man Booker judges were focusing on “readability”,  whereas the Folio focuses on-“Excellence: to identify works of fiction in which the story being told and the subjects being explored achieve their most perfect and thrilling expression”.

The prize is worth £40,000 and is open to English-language writers from all around the world. It actually pre-empts this year’s Booker Prize, which is also expanding to a global level as a new departure.

It is a valuable prize – other literary awards are worth: Man Booker £50,000, Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize)  £30,000 and the new £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize.

The award will be made on 10th March


Do you write? Are you aged between 16-21


Do you write? Could this be you or someone you know?

The Writing Squad is looking for writers aged between 16-21 who live, work or study in the North of England to join a free writer-development programme.

The next 2 year programme starts this May 2014.

Supported by professional writers, and welcoming writers of any format – from poetry and prose through stage and radio plays, to game scripts and graphic novels ..The Writing Squad looks for talent, not formal qualifications.

Former graduates have gone on to careers as poets, journalists, singers, sound artists, TV writers and as an award-winning playwright.

The Writing Squad is supported by Arts Council England – and is a not-for-profit – which exists to help develop young people’s talent.  To apply visit http://www.writingsquad.com/join-the-squad/ Final deadline for applications: 30 March 2014. http://vimeo.com/45568009

Win the Costa shortlist books

Natahn Filer won the overall Costa prize but here’s a chance to win all the shortlisted books. Foyles are offering a goody bag containing the Costa Prize Category winners. You need to know the 2012 prize winner (choice of The Luminaries – Elearnor Catton, The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes, Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel and submit your answer. Or borrow all the titles free from your library.

Closing Date: Wednesday, 5th February, 4pm.

Life after Life – Kate Atkinson

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

Drysalter – Michael Symmons Roberts

The Pike – Lucy Hallet-Hughes

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse – Chris Riddell