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!

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!

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.

August 2021 Competitions

H04A7B972-83E8-42FA-92C8-5F8B122D1A2Bere are the writing competitions with deadlines in August that I might enter – though to be honest I have reservations about a couple.

  • Grindstone wants stories of up to 3,000 words; the entry fee is £12 and the top prize is £500 – deadline 1 August.
  • Then the mighty Costa competition is back. As always, there are two rounds. The judges pick three stories and then the public votes to decide the winner. The word limit is 4,000, and the top prize is £3,500 plus immense prestige. Best of all, it’s free to enter – but the deadline is 2 August, so we need to get moving.
  • Future Folklore also offer free entry for stories up to 2,000 words, and offer a top prize of $400. The story must be ‘cli fi’ – fiction about climate change. My impression is that they’re looking more for optimistic views of how we might deal with the problems, rather than anything bleakly dystopic. We’ve got until 8 August.
  • Gival want chunky sized stories – 5,000 to 15,000 words. Entry is $25 and the prize is $1,000, with a deadline of 8 August.
  • Arena fantasy magazine asks for up to 3,000 words inspired by a picture (of a medieval army in action). Entry is £10, but the top prize is only £100, which doesn’t seem a very generous ratio.
  • The VS Pritchett competition run by the Royal Society of Literature, no less, is for stories up to 4,000 words; entry is £8 and the prize is £1,000. The deadline is 20 August.
  • The Val Wood prize has the theme ‘Now and Then’, intended to mark the end of lockdown and reflect times of positive change. Stories can be up to 2,000 words long, and it’s free to enter, with a prize of £100. The deadline is 28 August.
  • The Masters Review asks for stories under 6,000 words. The entry fee is $20, the top prize $3,000, and the deadline is 30 August.

All the others have a deadline of 31 August.

  • Aesthetica, that bastion of intellectual art and design, wants stories of up to 2,000 words. The entry fee is £18 and you could win £2,500 and a consultation with Redhammer Management (which I believe is Peter Cox of Litopia).
  • Blue Mesa has a generous word limit of 6,000: entry is $12 and the prize is $500.
  • The Exeter Story Prize has the same limit, and the same fee and prize, except in pounds instead of dollars; you’re allowed up to 5,000 words.
  • NAWG wants stories up to 2,000 words, with an entry fee of £5 and a prize of £200.
  • SaveAs, of Canterbury, allows up to 3,500 words, on the theme ‘horizons’ in honour of TS Eliot (no, I don’t really get it, either). Entry is £4 and the prize £200.
  • Seven Hills asks for up to 3,000 words. The entry fee is $30 and first prize is $150 – an even meaner ratio than Arena’s! (Update – they increased the first prize to $300 and extended the deadline to the end of September.)
  • Finally, if you have a whole collection of stories, running to between 130 and 180 pages, St Lawrence would like to see it. $27 is the fee and the prize is $1,000.

July 2021 Competitions

163FD447-50E2-4524-A839-A0AD1D070605 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 majority have deadlines at the end of the month, so you mostly have a bit of time to work on a story.
  • Ambit seeks stories of up to 1,000 words (arguably flash fiction) on the classic Ovid/Kafka theme of ‘Metamorphosis’; the entry fee is £6 and the top prize is £500. You’ll need to get writing because the deadline is 1 July.
  • The Gutsy Great Novelist Page One competition requires only the first page of your novel-in-progress, by 7 June. The entry fee is $20 and the top prize $1,000.
  • The H.G.Wells prize is for stories between 1,500 and 5,000 words on the theme ‘mask’ with a fee of £21 and top prize of £500; the deadline is 12 July.
  • The Doris Gooderson prize from Wrekin Writers is for stories up to 1,200 words in length. The entry fee is £5, the prize £200, and the deadline is 13 July.
All the others have a deadline of 31 July.
  • The Novel London competition asks for your first 3,000 words plus a synopsis. It costs £11 to enter and the top prize is £500 (plus mentoring).
  • The Olga Sinclair Prize, from Norwich Writers’ Circle, is for stories on the theme ‘lost’. The word count limit is 2,000, the entry fee £9, and top prize £200.
  • The Seán O’Faoláin prize from Munster Literature is for stories up to 3,000 words, with an entry fee of €18 and prize of €2,000.
  • The Fiction Factory First Chapter competition requires, guess what, the first chapter of your completed novel. Although you can send a chapter of any length, it seems only the first 5,000 words will be taken into account. The entry fee is £18 and the top prize is £500.
  • Fabula Press is back and wants stories of up to 6,000 words; the fee is $10 and top prize $500.
  • The regular Cranked Anvil competition comes round again next month with a word limit of 1,500, entry fee of £5 and prize of £150.
  • Anthology offers a prize of €500 for stories up to 1,500 words on the theme ‘memories’.
  • HISSAC (Highlands and Islands, but you don’t have to be Scottish) wants stories up to 2,000 words; the entry fee is £5 and the prize £200.
  • Finally, you need a humorous piece of up to 2,500 words to enter the unique To Hull and Back competition. The entry fee is £15 and the cash prize is £1,200. In addition, a selection of stories will be published in an anthology, and the winning author’s face will be photoshopped into a dramatic picture showing them on a motorbike journey to Hull (think Meatloaf album cover). In addition, the organiser will strap the winner’s copy of the anthology to the front of his Harley Davidson and ride from Bristol to Hull and back, returning the book with whatever damage the elements may have inflicted along the way. I said it was unique!
Good luck if you enter any of these; if you are longlisted or win, please do let me know.

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.

May 2021 Competitions

2557C494-0E41-4DB3-A6AB-62635E77333BCraft Short Fiction Prize is for stories up to 5,000 words. The entry fee is $20 and the top prize $2,000 (plus a subscription). Time is running out already as the deadline is 2 May.
  • Only one day later we have the deadline for the Australian Book Review Elizabeth Jolley Prize. Again the maximum word count is 5,000: the entry fee is AU$25 (less for subscribers) and the first prize is AU$6,000.
  • The Bristol Prize has a deadline of 5 May for stories up to 4,000 words; it’s £9 to enter and you can win £1,000.
  • Word Periscope wants stories on the theme ‘Time’, up to a mere 1,500 words, and offers a prize of £1,500. You’ve got until 15 May. The entry fee is £7, or for £15 you can also have feedback.
  • The Raymond Carver prize also has a deadline of 15 May; the word limit is a spacious 10,000, the entry fee $17 and top prize $2,000.
  • Chiplitfest, with a deadline of 16 May, lets you choose your word limit. If you’re happy with 2,500 words, you pay £5 to enter, but you can go up to 5,000 if you pay £8. Either way the first prize is just £500.
  • City Academy is running an unusual contest which seems almost like a mini writing course. You register your interest and receive a series of prompts and exercises. This has been going on for a while already, so if you register now you’ll get all the earlier stuff in one go. The actual entry doesn’t have to be in until 25 May, and the entry fee is £15 (sounds like good value if you fancy a mini-course thrown in). Top prize is £1,000.
  • The Wit to Woo wants pieces up to 10,000 words (which need not be about dating, or indeed, owls – the competition is amiably headlined ‘Write What You Like’). The entry fee is £7, top prize £1,500, and the deadline is 28 May.
  • With a deadline of 31 May (I think) the complicated Page Turner Awards include one for the first ten pages of completed novel manuscripts. Pricing includes an early bird option (too late already, sorry), and there are bronze, silver, and gold options whereby you can pay more for a whole range of extras; the basic seems to be £30, but if you can find out what the prize is, please let me know. It might be unfair, but I couldn’t help feeling that selling the extras and a writing software package is what the labyrinthine website is really about. Shame, but I think I might pass.
  • The BPA First Novel Award asks for your first 5,000 words plus a synopsis; entry is £20 and the prize £1,000; deadline 31 May.
  • The prestigious Bridport competition also has a deadline of 31 May. You can enter stories up to 5,000 words for £12 and the top prize is £5,000.
  • Swoop Books wants stories on the theme ‘Love Locks’, with word limits of 2-3,000. The entry fee is £5 and prize just £100, deadline 31 May.
  • Finally the Queen Mary Wasafiri prize, also with a deadline of 31 May,   has a top prize of £1,000; entry is £10, and the word limit is 3,000. I think a prior look at Wasafiri magazine would be helpful if you want to try for this one.
Good Luck! If you win any of these, let me know! PostScript. Charlotte Wakefield from the Page Turner Awards has helpfully contacted me with some clarification. She says: The deadline is the 31st May, that’s correct, and submission fees start from £30 depending on which membership option or optional extras you might be interested in. You were interested to know more about the prizes, which you can browse here – 2021 Award Prizes | Page Turner Awards. Our mission is to offer meaningful prizes to new writers and established authors, ranging from mentorship to publishing packages to audiobook production.  You can find further details about our awards on our site here – About Us | Page Turner Awards If you have any further questions about the awards, I’d be happy to help.  Feel free to also browse testimonials from last year’s entrants here – Awards Testimonials | Page Turner Awards This should help give you an understanding of what we’re all about.  To enter, you must first register your details. Then, you can log in and enter your submission. You can register and enter here – Enter In Two Steps | Page Turner Awards Please do check that you’re entering for the appropriate award category. There are different criteria depending on whether your work is published or unpublished, and completed or uncompleted. You can browse the 5 award categories here – 2021 Award Categories | Page Turner Awards I’m grateful for the trouble she has taken, and pass that on for your information.

April 2021 Competitions

E4BDAEA9-C78B-4719-BF55-76D1CBC63DD8 Here are the writing competitions I might enter in April.  As always this is a purely personal selection (eg, no poetry, YA or flash, nothing where you have to send a paper ms by post or pay the entrance fee by bank transfer), with no claim to be comprehensive. Not quite so many this month.
  • A big one to start with, though.  The Alpine Fellowship prize is free to enter, but has an impressive top prize of £10,000, plus an invitation to their annual international conference. Only one 3ntry per writer. The theme is Untamed: On Wilderness and Civilization and the deadline is 1 April, so if you haven’t got a story ready to go, you’ll need to get moving. The maximum word count is 2,500.
  • The Tusculum Review wants stories between 2,000 and 6,500 words; the entry fee is $15 (though that also gets you a year’s subscription) and the top prize $1,000. The deadline is 2 April.
  • Top prize for the H.E.Bates competition is £500, with an entry fee of £6 (discounts for multiple entries) and a word limit of 2,000; the deadline is 5 April.
  • Desperate Literature seeks stories up to 2,000 words; the entry fee is €20 and first prize €1,500 plus a week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation The deadline is 15 April.
  • The same deadline applies for the New Ohio Review competition; the fee is $22, the prize $1,500 and maximum length is 20 pages.
  • The White Review looks for avant-garde stuff from writers resident in the UK or Ireland. Word count should be between 2,000 and 7,000; the entry fee is £15 and top prize £2,500. The deadline is 26 April.
  • F(r)iction magazine is again looking for stories up to 7,500 words. First prize is $1,600 and entry is $15, with a deadline of 29 April.
  • The Yeovil Literary Prize has several categories, including an ‘anything goes’ one. For the short story category the word limit is 2,000. The fee is £8 and top prize £600. The deadline is 30 April.
  • Finally, the Tom Howard/John H Reid competition accepts essays as well as fiction, with a prize of $3,000 dollars each; 6,000 words max, with a $20 entry fee and a 30 April deadline.
Good Luck! If you win any of these, let me know!