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.