Pallets to planters

I made a couple of rough-hewn (rustic, let’s say) wooden planters for our bay trees, using planks from old pallets. As I explained to Katharine: what I’ve done here is take something that was basically a pile of scrap wood – and transformed it into two piles of scrap wood. Painted blue (Cuprinol forget-me-not).

Bench renewed

A little refurbishment project. This garden bench was a nice present from our in-laws many years ago, but was showing its age. We took it apart, sanded down the cast iron, repainted with more colours to bring out the design, and fitted new slats. Like brand new (or better)!

June 2021 Competitions

E13DC307-9469-405E-AA4F-42DEA099D1FB Here is my regular look at the short story/novel competitions I might enter next month (so no poetry, for example, because I’m rubbish at it). As always this is a purely personal selection, with no claim to be comprehensive – but it might be of interest. I hope some of these appeal to you.
  • Leicester Writes offers a prize of £150 for stories up to 3,500 words; the entrance fee is £5 and the deadline is 1 June.
  • With the same deadline, Salamander magazine has a top prize of $1,000 for stories of up to 30 pages; the entry fee is $15.
  • The Aurora prize from Writing East Midlands costs £9 to enter. First prize is £500 and the word count must be 2,000 or less – the deadline is 7 June.
Then we have several competitions with a deadline of 15 June.
  • First, Globe Soup is offering a top prize of £1,500 for stories up to 5,000 words with the theme ‘a sense of place’. The entry fee is £12, (or £3 for members). Globe Soup runs not one but two writing communities on Facebook, both lively and supportive – worth a look.
  • Segora offers £300 for a winning story of 1,500 to 3,000 words – the entry fee is £8.
  • If you’ve got something larger, Autumn House is looking for manuscripts of 50,000 to 75,000 words – a slim novel, I suppose. The entry fee is $30 and the prize is $1,000.
  • For older writers, Living Springs’ Baby Boomers Plus contest has a prize of $500 with an entry fee of $25; the maximum word count is 4,000 and you must have been born no later than 1966.
  • New American Fiction (you don’t have to be American – they helpfully say you could even be Estonian, so long as your entry is in English) looks for works of at least 100 pages; the prize is $1,500 and the entry fee is $25.
All the rest have a deadline of 30 June.
  • The Friends of Manning’s Pit have launched a Saki short story competition. It does not have to be in the style of Saki, but ‘it needs to have a spark of originality or wit’ (not my usual stuff then?) and ‘have something relevant to the countryside and its wildlife’. Maximum 3,000 words, entry fee £5 and first prize £500
  • The Moth is back with its competition for stories up to 5,000 words, with an entry fee of €15 and top prize of €3,000.
  • I don’t think I’m going to enter this one, but I was intrigued to see that Chiasmus wants stories of exactly 1,001 words. There’s an entry fee of £3.50 but no cash prize for the winner.
  • Lady in the Loft offers £100 for the best story on the theme ‘Grim Reaper’, with a word count between 4,000 and 6,000 words; entry fee £2.
  • Last but certainly not least is the regular Henshaw competition, for stories up to 2,000 words. The top prize is £200 and the entry fee is £6. You can pay extra fir a critique, and I have found these good value in the past.
Good luck, and if you get recognised in any of these, please do let me know!

Up the Tusculum

I’ve just had a cheery email from the Tusculum Review to say they’re extending the deadline for their competition, judged by Amy Sturgis, to 1 June – from 1 April! Competitions try to present an extended deadline as them being nice and giving more time, but in fact it’s very unfair to the people who made the effort to meet their original deadline, especially if they are offered no chance to make further revisions (and that never happens). What’s particularly odd here is that their website still gives the original deadline – so who else do they think is going to enter a competition which appears to have closed over a month ago? Surely they could not be extending the deadline for the benefit of particular people they already know?

I have asked them to withdraw my entry, and I would advise anyone else who played fair to do the same. It’s not to be expected that they will be honest enough to refund entry fees, but I think the point needs to be made.

Update

I received the following response from Kelsey Trom, for which I am grateful. There are a couple of misunderstandings here which I will not try to unpick.

I’m truly sorry to hear that our decision to extend the deadline of the contest is unethical in your view, and I especially regret that you feel ill-used and swindled by our organization. I have withdrawn your entry as requested and am happy to send you a refund of the entry fee. Our organization is small, so our means of refunding entries is by check–if you’ll send me your W-9, I’ll have the business office send you a check for $15.00.

We, the genre editors,  discussed the decision at length, and felt that it was in line with the contest guidelines as published–we have always reserved the right to extend the deadline if we don’t receive the anticipated number of submissions. On occasion, we have exercised that right. This year, in particular, seemed like a time in which an extended deadline would give more authors the time to enter, so we would be able to give the final judge, Amy Sturgis, more than a dozen stories to weigh

It was in the name of equal access that we made this decision: when we announced the contest in November, we did not anticipate the ways that writers with children, sick relatives, or compressed school schedules would be unable to meet an April 1 deadline. When we saw the low number of entries–much lower than usual–we understood.

We have not changed our rules–all submissions are still in the running. For my communication missteps that apparently made this unclear, I apologize.

I pointed out to Kelsey that I wouldn’t be able to cash an American cheque, but that Submittable has a refund facility. I haven’t heard back on that so far, but they have updated the information on their website.

Broadway Success

I got a ‘Highly Commended’ for my story ‘Cheltenham Punk’ in the Julia & Martin Wilson Short Story Prize, part of the Broadway Arts Festival! The story was originally set in Bedford, where I went to school, but it belongs to Cheltenham now…