My story ’Pachydamned’ got an Honourable Mention in the Literary Taxidermy competition – the one where you take the first and last lines of a novel and write a new story to fit between them. I’ve added it to the ’Read Now’ page.

Dec (and Jan) Comps

Here’s my look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month.

  • The Exisle Academy is running an interesting competition for ‘Undiscovered Gems’ – a short story based on your unpublished book. It’s free to enter, and you could win $500. The deadline is 1 December.
  • Breakwater Review look for stories up to 4,000 words that ‘breathe freshness to the form’: £10 to enter and the top prize is £1,000. The deadline is 1 December.
  • MONO. want stories on the theme ‘scars’, of up to 3,000 words. Entry is £6, first prize £300, and the deadline is 3 December.
  • Bardsy also want 3,000 words, by 13 December, on the theme of an exchange of gifts. Entry is free and the top prize is $399 plus a year’s membership.
  • Nowhere has a competition for travel writing with a strong sense of people, time, or place: it can be up to 5,000 words and must be submitted by 16 December. The entry fee is $20, with a prize of $1,000.
  • Interact Stroke Support is running the Ruth Rendell competition for a story that can be used to entertain people in hospital: the winner will be commissioned to write four more stories over the course of the year and be paid £1,000. The story, no more than 1,000 words, should presumably be positive in tone. The deadline is 21 December and the entry fee is £15.
  • The Orna Ross prize is for a green novel, ie one that shows possible futures in which our environmental problems have been solved. They want three chapters, it’s free to enter and they offer a prize of £1,000. There’s no chance I could meet the deadline of 30 December, but I mention it because apparently 90% of entries were rejected last time: they simply didn’t meet the criteria (eg they portrayed unsolved problems). So I reckon if you have a ms that really ticks the boxes, you’ve got a great chance.

All the rest have a deadline of 31 December. 

  • You may feel uneasy about a competition that bears the name of L Ron Hubbard, but the quarterly Writers of the Future contest does not seem to have anything to do with Scientology. It’s for SF stories up to 17,000 words, is free to enter, and has a prize of $1,000 which could even turn into $5,000 if you go on to win best of the year.
  • The Lascaux Review looks for stories of up to 10,000 words, with an entry fee of $15. Top prize is $1,000 plus a very nice bronze medal!
  • Boulevard Magazine offers a prize of $1,500 for stories up to 8,000 words: the entry fee is $16
  • Those nice (planet-eating?) people at Globe Soup are once again running their classic flash competition (up to 800 words) for stories relating to a location which is only revealed once you’re signed up. It’s £3/£5/£12 to enter and you could win £1,000. Don’t forget their ongoing seven-day writing challenges, either!

I am going into hospital for major surgery in early December and will be out of action for some time, so I’m afraid there will be no update on January competitions. Ones you may want to keep in mind include Secret Attic’s regular contest, the Mogford competition for food-related stories, the prestigious Manchester award, the Fish memoir competition and the Parracombe prize. Otherwise, why not keep an eye on the helpful big list Globe Soup have put together here?

See you next year!

November 2021 competitions

Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month (so no poetry or competitions not open to UK writers, for example). 

  • The Caledonia Novel Award asks for your first twenty pages and a synopsis (not necessarily about Scotland): the entry fee is £25 and you could win £1,500, plus a special trophy and a place on a week’s residential course at Moniack Mhor in the Scottish Highlands. The deadline is 1 November.
  • With the same deadline, the Briar Cliff Review looks for stories up to 5,000 words: entry $20, top prize $1,000.
  • The John Steinbeck Award has exactly the same specs and deadline.
  • You could write for the Rain Fiction Podcast on the subject of ‘ghosts of the past’ – re-emerging objects that change current lives. It’s free, the prize is $50 (besides being podcast). A word count around 2,000 is suggested. The deadline is 7 November.
  • The BPA Pitch prize offers the chance to present your novel to literary agents, but entry will cost you £10. You’ll need 500 words and a synopsis (and I expect you’d do well to have your elevator pitch and all the rest ready too). The deadline is 14 November.
  • So to Speak has the same deadline for stories up to 4,000 words: entry is $9 and top prize $500.
  • Carve Magazine is looking for up to 5,000 words by 15 November for a top prize of $1,000, entry $17.
  • The Wenlock Olympian Society wants stories up to 2,500 words. It’s £5 for one, £8 for two, or an economical £12 for three entries. Top prize £150. The deadline is 15 November.
  • The Writer’s Digest offers lots of prizes. The top one is a generous $3,000 plus publication and an invitation to their conference, but writers in each of the first twenty-five places will get at least a $50 gift certificate, which is really nice. They want up to 1,500 words, and entry, by 15 November, costs $25.
  • With the same deadline, the Short Story Workshop looks for up to 5,000 words for its first ever competition, with an entry fee of $2.50: the prize is $75 but your work will also be podcast (everybody’s doing it).
  • Etched Onyx will take up to 6,000 words, with a fee of $11 and prize of $350. The winner will be published and, guess what, podcast. The deadline is 26 November.
  • Narrative are looking for various different kinds of writing. Short stories may be up to a weighty 15,000 words, with an entry fee of $27 and a prize of $2,500. No mention of a podcast opportunity. The deadline is 30 November.
  • Again by 30 November, the George Garrett competition wants completed manuscripts of novels or short story collections, between 40,000 and 120,000 words. Entry is $28, and you could win $1,000 and a publishing contract.
  • Last but definitely not least, the prestigious Fish competition is with us again, looking for up to 5,000 words. Entry is €20 and the top prize is €1,000, plus publication in the anthology and invitation to a five-day workshop in Ireland.  The deadline is 30 November

If you get anywhere in one of these competitions, do let me know!

Unexpected Peaches

We bought a mini peach tree this year (‘Crimson Bonfire’) to grow in a big pot, but were not led to expect any fruit in the first year. However, quite a few tiny peaches appeared. They were bullet hard and didn’t seem likely to amount to much, so we didn’t bother thinning them out. Today they all fell off spontaneously and turn out to be perfectly ripe – and rather nice, albeit smallish.

Olga Sinclair

My story ’Song of the Charnel Square and the Vale of Voles’ (I was going through a phase of long titles when I wrote it) has been shortlisted for the Olga Sinclair prize! The winner will be announced at a gala event in Norwich on 2 November.


I did not place, but had a pleasant evening with the Norwich writers and was presented with a certificate and pen as well as a copy of the anthology.

October ’21 Competitions

Here are the writing competitions with deadlines in October that I might enter – so mainly short stories and novels, with no poetry or flash.

  • The Jeffrey E. Smith contest wants stories up to 8,500 words: the entry fee is $25 and top prize is $5,000, with a deadline of 1 October.
  • With the same deadline, the Grindstone International Novel Prize needs 25 pages of a complete novel plus a synopsis. Entry is £18, first prize is £1,000.
  • Zoetrope wants literary stories up to 5,000 words. Entry is $30, the prize is $1,000, and again the deadline is 1 October.
  • Galley Beggar Press offer £2,000 for stories up,to 6,000 words, with an entry fee of £10 – the deadline/ is 10 October.
  • The Calvino Prize is for pieces in the magic realist spirit of Italo Calvino. Submit up to 25 pages  by15 October with a fee of $25 for a top prize of $2,000. (I was a finalist last year, but I’ve got no inspiration this time round.)
  • Black Spring want those strange, imperfect but promising pieces from your bottom drawer, of 40 to 1,000 pages. Entry is free, and the winner gets a publication contract.
  • The Create the Future prize seeks writing about climate change of up to 2,000 words that addresses one of three questions they pose. Entry is free: the winner will be published online and (if in the UK) receive a ‘bundle’ of Delphis Eco cleaning products. Deadline 17 October.
  • Omnidawn want fabulist stories – quite hefty ones, between 7,500 and 17,500 words. Entry is $18, and the winner gets $1,000 plus 100 copies of the printed version (a chapbook). What would I do with 100 copies? The deadline is 18 October.
  • Beartooth Anthony  is looking for your best Halloween campfire stories, of any length, the scarier the better. Entry is free, and the winner gets a really nice hammock. Enter by 22 October.
  • This year the Dinesh Alirajah contest is looking for crime stories between 2,000 and 6,000 words. It’s free, and you could win £500. The deadline is 29 October.

All the rest have a deadline of 31 October.

  • The Bedford competition is for stories up to 3,000 words and the top prize is £1,000. Entry is £7.50 or a bargain three goes for £15.
  • Southport Writer’s Circle want 2,000 words. Entry is £3 and first prize is £150.
  • Cranked Anvil look for a slim 1,500 words: entry is £5 and first prize £150.
  • Finally, the Dillydoun International Fiction Prize offers $2,000 for a story up to a chunky 8,000 words: entry is $25.
  • A late addition – the Fiction Factory competition has a maximum word count of 3,000 and a deadline of 31 October. Entry is £6 (discounts for multiple entries)

Good luck – if you get anywhere with these, do let me know!

Greengage Jam

Made with my own hands. It doesn’t look that great (or very green), but it tastes all right!

I remember when I were a lad there was always a competition over who got the single greengage one out of the box of Lyons’ jam tarts. Those were bright green – probably carcinogenic if not actually radioactive…

Wit to Won’t

I think I may owe an apology to anyone who may have entered the Wit to Woo contest after seeing it on my list. I believe they were originally supposed to announce a short list in mid July. On 29 July, their Facebook page claimed winners had been notified and an announcement was coming soon. Comments were barred.
Nothing has happened since except that the website has gone down. In effect they have disappeared, and it seems we must assume the worst.

September 2021 Competitions

Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month. The ones I know of seem to be grouped in the later part of the month (which I suppose means more time, though things could be hectic on 30th!). This month we’ve got several unusual formats, and quite a few freebies.

  • The Lee Smith Novel Prize is free to enter (yay!) though you can make a voluntary donation. You only need a minimum of 25,000 words, which is pretty slim for a novel. Top prize is $1,000 and publication. 
  • Those lively people at Globe Soup are running another 7-day contest. You register in advance (by 6 Sept), and then get assigned a theme and genre for your story, which must be written in 7 days! Word counts can be up to 2,000, the prize is £500, and again, it’s free (yay again). Looks like fun, but I don’t know how I would manage with some genres.
  • Impress invite submissions of a proposal, synopsis and sample chapter (up to 6,000 words) of your book. The entry fee is £25, the prize is £500, and you might be published. The deadline is 13 September.
  • Dream of Shadows wants stories about Halloween Monsters. The entry fee is £6 with a prize of £300, max 1,500 words and the deadline is 15 September.
  • You think seven days isn’t much time? The Mollie Savage Memorial Writing Contest (formerly Three Cheers and a Tiger) from Toasted Cheese  is a 48-hour short story writing contest which runs twice a year. Topic and word count will be revealed on 17th September (we know it’s fantasy/SF) and entries must be in by 19th. First prize is $35, or $50 if they get more than fifty entries. It’s free (three yays!).
  • Streetcake Magazine want up to 2,500 words and they want them experimental in style. Entry is free (what’s going on this month?); no cash prize but some mentoring, networking, and a book bundle. The deadline is 20th September.
  • Dream Quest One offer a prize of $500 for a story of up to five pages, with an entry fee of $10 and a deadline of 22nd September.
  • Beechmore are looking for pieces of writing on the theme ‘Perspective’, and their top prize is £200 plus a year’s supply of their journals. And yes – it’s free to enter! The deadline is 25th September.
  • Literary Taxidermy is back! This is the contest where you are given the first and last lines of an existing work and you have to write a new story to fit between them. This year the first and last lines are from a short story by Katherine Mansfield. The maximum word count is 2,500, the entry fee is $10, and the top prize is $500. The deadline is 26th September.

All the others have a deadline of 30th September.

  • The First Page Challenge calls for, guess what, the first page of your novel. The entry fee is CA$5 and the top prize is CA$70 plus online publication and access to a course.
  • LWB, by contrast, want the hundredth page. You can enter a novella, but it must be at least 20,000 words. The entry fee is £7, and first prize is £50: you also get four books and  a report on your work.
  • The annual Hammond House competition is back. As before the maximum word count is 5,000. The entry fee is £10, the top prize is £1,000 and the theme is ‘Stardust’.
  • The Juniper Prize is for short story collections of 15 to 30 pages. The entry fee is $30: top prize is $1000.
  • Red Hen want a minimum of 150 pages: the entry fee is $25 and again the top prize is $1000.

I’ve been doing these posts for a year now – how time flies! Good luck if you enter any of these competitions; if you are long-listed, win, or get some recognition, please do let me know.