October 2022 contests

Here are the writing competitions I might enter with deadlines in October. 

  • The American Literary Review wants stories up to a generous 8,000 words. Entry is $15 and the top prize is $1,000. Deadline 1 October.
  • The Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival has a word limit which is only slightly lower at 7,000, and their deadline is the same.. Besides $1,500, the top prize includes a pass to the festival with accommodation and air fare within the USA. Entry is $25.
  • Dillydoun will also accept up to 8,000 words, and entry is again $25, but their top prize is a full $5,000. The contest closes on 2 October.
  • With Zoetrope we’re down to the still-generous limit of 5,000 words. Entry is $30, top prize $1,000 and the deadline is 3 October.
  • You have a bit more time to polish your entry for the Calvino prize, for stories in the magic realist spirit of Italo Calvino (and if you haven’t read him, you really should). Entries can be up to 25 pages long, it’s $25 to enter and you could win $3,000. Oh, and the deadline is 15 October.
  • At last a British competition, from Galley Beggar Press, with a maximum word count of 6,000, an entry fee of £10, and first prize of £2,500. Deadline 16 October.
  • Omnidawn want longer pieces: between 7,500 and 17,500 words: they must be fabulist in character. Entry is $18 and the top prize is $1,000: the deadline is 17 October.
  • The Eyelands prize has several categories, including collections of prose or poetry up to 250 pages long. Winners get a week in Athens and a specially-made ceramic. Entry is €22 and the deadline is 20 October.
  • Creative Mind is an organisation that has apparently been around since the seventies, but this is its first writing competition (its website still has some rough edges too, with posts labelled ‘example blog post’ and bits of lorem ipsum style boilerplate text). Stories of up to 1,500 words must be on the theme ‘travel’: entry is £3 and the prize £50. Deadline 26 October.
  • Writefluence offers only publication, but then the entry fee is only INR 150 (currently about £1.66). There’s a 3,000 word maximum and the deadline is 30 October.

The rest of the list have a deadline of 31 October (but see below).

  • The Bedford competition has a limit of 3,000 words, an entry fee of £7.50 and a prize of £1,000.
  • SaveAs (which always sounds like a discount store to me) wants stories on the theme ‘Myth’. Up to 3,500 words, entry £3, prize £200.
  • Letter Review wants up to 2,000 words: entry $20, prize $650.
  • Fiction Factory is back, asking for maximum 3,000 words, with a fee of £7 and a prize of £500.
  • Sheila-Na-Gig wants literary pieces (A Sheila Na Gig is an obscene carving of a woman, often found on early medieval churches. Probably not a clue to what you should write about, though.), up to 5,000 words, entry $3, prize $100
  • Southport Writer’s Circle want up to 2,000 words, entry £3, prize £200

Finally a special mention for Globe Soup’s Historical Fiction Challenge.. To enter you buy a ticket of your chosen colour – this determines the period in which your story must be set (it doesn’t need to be historical in any stronger sense). You can try more than one colour and some hardy souls have bought them all. 4,000 words, entry fee £12 (£2.50 or £15 if early or late): prize £1,000, deadline 28 October. I single it out because Globe Soup is constantly running writing challenges and contests, many free, on its two Facebook sites (one completely free, the other for those who have entered a paid competition). They have a lively and supportive community going where you can always get feedback and advice, and it’s well worth checking out.

If you get somewhere with any of the contests above, do let me know!

September ‘22 Competitions

Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month. This time the majority have deadlines right at the end of the month. 

  • Among the early ones is On the Premises magazine, which wants stories of 1-5,000 words by 2 September. It’s free to enter and first prize is $250. The theme is ‘Objects in Motion’: the main characters must be in constant motion (being on Earth, which is orbiting the Sun, is not enough).
  • City Academy is again running its unique competition. The deadline is 5 September, but they issue a series of prompts and exercises, making the whole thing almost like a mini writing course. This probably makes the £15 entry fee rather good value, and you can win £1,500 and a voucher worth £300. The maximum word count is 4,000.
  • Terrain wants stories up to 5,000 words: entry is $20, the top prize $1,000, and the deadline is again 5 September.
  • The Jean Golding Institute wants stories up to 4,000 words on ‘The Secret Life of Data: entry is free, but you could win £1,000. The deadline is 12 September.
  • The annual contest in memory of Dinesh Allirajah is on the theme ‘Music’ this year. It’s free, the top prize is £500 and length must be 2-7,500 words. The competition closes on 22 September.
  • Juxtaprose wants stories up to 7,000 words: entry is $15, first prize $1,000, and the deadline is 26 September.

All the rest have a deadline of 30 September.

  • Creative Writing Ink want stories up to 3,000 words: entry is £9 and top prize £1,000
  • Ovacome is a charity providing support to sufferers from ovarian cancer: your story, of up to 1,500 words, does not have to be about cancer or health, but should be on the theme ‘Perspective’. Your £5 entry fee will help fund the charity’s good work, though with a first prize of £250 I suppose they’ll need at least fifty entries before they get into profit.
  • Those nice people up in Norwich are once again running the Olga Sinclair competition. 2,000 words, £9 entry, with a £500 top prize. This year there is no theme.
  • A little further north, those other nice people at Hammond House, in Grimsby, offer £1,000 for stories up to 5,000 words on the theme ‘changes’. The entry fee is £10.
  • Louise Walters is again running her unique ‘Page 100’ contest, which requires, well, just page 100 from your novel or novella (which must be at least 20,000 words long). It’ll cost you £6.50 and you could win a mentoring deal (I think to be honest I should prefer money and/or publication, but no doubt Louise, who made herself into both a writer and a publisher, would be a great mentor).
  • Ghost Story is again calling for, guess what, ghost stories, though anything supernatural or magic realist is acceptable: they like stuff that expands the boundaries of the form. Up to 10,000 words, $20 to enter and $1,500 for the winner.
  • If you thought Grimsby was in the North, what about the good folk of Crowvus, right up at the top end of Scotland? Once again they would like a Christmas ghost story in the good old tradition. Up to 4,000 words, just £3 to enter, and a prize of £100.
  • Blue Mesa will allow up to 6,000 words: entry is $15 and the prize $500.
  • Seven Hills only wants 3,000 words but will charge you $35 to enter for a prize of $300. (Is an entry fee which is more than 10% of the prize a bit much?)
  • Last but very much not least are those old stalwarts at Henshaw Press with their regular competition. 2,000 words, £6 to enter, and £200 prize.Good luck if you enter any of these, and do let us know if you get anywhere!

June ’22 Competitions

Here again is a look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month (a personal selection, so no poetry or competitions not open to UK writers, for example – but competitions for old people are definitely in…)

  • Fitzcarraldo Editions (for Europe and Africa – elsewhere, other publishers) have a novel prize contest which is free to enter (so far as I can see), but offers a top prize of $10,000 plus publication. For these purposes a novel can be as little as 30,000 words – but the deadline is 1 June
  • Also closing on 1 June, the Salamander Fiction Prize requires up to 30 pages. Entry is  $15, and the top prize is $1,000.
  • Write by the Sea, based in Kilgore Quay, gives you a couple more days, with a deadline of 3 June. Maximum word count is 3,000, entry is €10. There are three categories: winners in two get €500, while the one judged overall winner gets €1,000. All three get a coveted trophy.
  • You have until 13 June to enter the Aurora prize: entry is £9, the prize£500, and 2,000 words is the maximum.
  • The splendid Stories Through the Ages competition is for ‘Baby Boomers plus’ – people born no later than1966. It’s $25 to enter and the prize is $500 – the best stories go into an anthology. The deadline is 15 June.
  • The Howard Frank Mosher competition allows up to a full 8,000 words. Entry is $20, first prize $1,000, and the deadline is again 15 June.
  • Not actually a competition as such, but Bureau Dispatch will pay $50 for stories up to 1,500 words. There is no fee (and there shouldn’t be). The deadline is 17 June.
  • Leicester Writes is back with a maximum word count of 3,500, entry fee of £5, and prize of £175 – deadline 20 June.

All the rest have a deadline of 30 June.

  • Write Time has another competition for us old folk – in this case, over 60s. The maximum word count is 1,500, entry is a modest £3 with a modest top prize of £50.
  • The Moth wants up to 4,000 words for a prize of €3,000 (that’s more like it!). Entry is €15.
  • The Wells Festival of Literature‘s prize is £750: entry is £6 and they’re looking for stories between 1 and 2 thousand words.
  • The regular Henshaw competition is back with its prize of £200 for 2,000 words, with entry at £6.00. I don’t usually go for the paid feedback options offered by some contests, and some are expensive and unhelpful: but I’ve found Henshaw good value for money in that respect.
  • The Boston Review accepts up to 4,000 words and offers a prize of $1,000 for a $20 entry fee: stories must be on the theme ‘Speculation’.
  • Also with a theme, ‘Ink’, Blackwater Press has an entry fee of $5 and a prize of $150. Although this is a short story competition, there is apparently no limit on length. Perhaps don’t send your 180,000 word fantasy novel, though.

If you get anywhere with any of these, please do let me know!

May ’22 Competitions

Here are the writing competitions I might enter with deadlines in May.
• The Belfast Book Festival is again running its Mairtín Crawford award, for stories up to 2,500 word. The entry fee is £6 and you can win £500 plus a writers retreat. The deadline is 1 May.
• With the same deadline, the Kipling Society has the John McGivering prize, for stories on the theme animals and connected in some way with Kipling and his work. The maximum word count is 2,000, the entry fee is £8, and the top prize is £350.
• The Australian Book Review has another contest named in honour of someone: the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Stories can be between 2,000 and 5,000 words: the entry fee is AU$25 and the top prize AU$6,000. The deadline is 2 May.
• Then the Bristol Short Story Prize closes on 4 May. Entry is £9, first prize £1,000, and stories can be up to 4,000 words.
Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, run by Fix, is looking for upbeat stories from a future perspective about how climate change was beaten and a better world created. It’s free to enter, but you could win £3,000. The deadline is 5 May.
Writer’s Digest has a competition with nine separate categories. Different length rules apply to different categories: for mainstream/literary fiction it’s 4,000 words. Winners in each category get $1,000, while one overall winner gets $5,000. Entry is $30 and the deadline is 6 May.
• Another idealistic contest is Demos Rising, which invites stories that address issues of equity, democracy and the like. Though the subjects are likely to raise strong feelings, they look for nuance, perspective, authenticity, and even humour. Entry is free, but your only prize is publication in their anthology. For short stories the limit is 5,000 words (you can also enter poetry, flash, art or photography). The deadline is 14 May.
Ploughshares invites stories up to 6,000 words. Entry is $24, you can win $2,000 and the deadline is 15 May.
• With a deadline of 16 May, the Raymond Carver Prize has an entry fee of $17 and a first prize of $2,000: stories may be up to 6,000 words.
• The thriving community at Globe Soup has branched out into memoirs, of up to 3,000 words, on ‘Places that have made me, changed me, or inspired me’. The basic entry fee is £12, with lower ones for members and early entry. The prize is £1,000 and the deadline is 17 May.
All the rest have a deadline of 31 May.
• Not to be missed is the Bridport competition, with a maximum word count of 5,000, a prize of £5,000 and an entry fee of £12.
Frome Festival limits you to 2,200 words: the entry fee is £8 and top prize £400.
• The regular MTP competition is running again, with an entry fee of £7, prize of £1,000 and a limit of 3,000. Highly rated stories will be published in an anthology.
• The Yeovil Literary Prize competition is on again: for short stories the maximum word count is 2,000, entry £8 and top prize £600. There are several other categories including the intriguing ‘Writing Without Restrictions’.
• Last but not to be overlooked is the Bath Novel Award. You need to submit your first 5,000 words plus a one-page synopsis (you’ll need a full novel of at least 50,000 words for the later stages of judging).. Entry is £29, with the top prize £3,000: the shortlist gets feedback and agent introductions, with the long list is offered a writing course.

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

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!

Update: my operation was cancelled – I don’t yet know when it will be rescheduled, but in the meantime I’m not up to much.

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!