Writing competitions – April 2015 deadlines

competitions 677265On my blog’s Competitions page is a list of some writing competitions by closing date (month by month) then by regularity, followed by competition websites.

If you would like your competition listed please email me the details as per the format below (i.e. one line per competition) ensuring that it starts with the type of competition it is and highlighting the month it closes. Thank you.

As we’re halfway through March already, below are the April deadlines. If you find any information out of date, please do let me know. Thank you.

  • Children’spuffindigitalprize.co.uk.
  • Flash FictionIndies Unlimited hosts a weekly 250-word max. prompt competition – see Indies Unlimited. Also see ‘Short stories’ below.
  • Flash Fiction: Weekly challenge on theironwriter.com.
  • Flash Fiction: Each month the Scottish Book Trust provides a prompt to get you started, but where the <50-word story goes from there is entirely up to you. Their favourite story will be published on their page and the writer will receive a lovely Novel Poster from The Literary Gift Company. You can submit your story in the body of an email or as an attachment and remember to include your full name with your entry. They also welcome entries in Gaelic or Scots.
  • Flash Fiction: The NLG Flash Fiction Competition (that I am Head Judge of) is now open – see ‘June’ for full details.
  • Flash Fiction: The New Writer Annual Prose & Poetry Prizes launches every April. £2,000 in prizes. Closing date 30th November. Short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
  • Flash Fiction / Short StoriesThe Writer’s Notebook is a monthly, free to enter short story competition. Each month has a set theme, and each writer can submit up to 2 stories per month. A new theme opens on the 1st of each month, and the deadline for entries is the 28th of each month. Future themes are available to view on our webpage. The prize is publication of the short story in our Anthology at the end of the year, and an equal share of sale profits of said Anthology. It is an experimental idea for a free to enter writing competition, relying on social media to drive sales of the Anthology and increase the prize. Stories should be 400-1500 words. A short list of three stories will be published on our blog for our readers to vote for a winner. For more information please see http://thewritersnotebookgroup.blogspot.com.
  • Mixed: Winchester Writers’ Conference has opened their mixed writing competitions (deadline late May). Details in their competitions brochure. £7 per entry if attending, £9 if not.
  • Mixed: Christian magazine Pockets has a different theme per month.
  • Mixed (novels & short story collections): iWriteReadRate and Cornerstones Literary Consultancy (voteformyebook.com) are offering a monthly social competition to members of the community – see ‘Monthly’ towards the end of this page.
  • NovelsNovel Rocket runs an annual Launch Pad Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile. Entries will be accepted in all genres beginning mid-January. The deadline for submission is different for genre categories according to the following schedule. In each case, entries must be received by 11:59 PM EST on the 10th day of the month (April to September) listed on novelrocket.com/p/launch-pad-contest.html. They also post a new writing-related article seven days a week, from author interviews to marketing discussions to articles about the craft of writing. NB. The entry fee is $45 so give this very careful consideration.
  • Novels / Non-FictionRubery Book Award First Prize is £1,000 (approx US$1,590 / €1,277) and the winning book is guaranteed to be read by a top London literary agent, plus a minimum of the three category winners each winning £100 (approx $159 / €127). Entry fee details and entry form all on the website: www.ruberybookaward.com. Deadline 30th April.
  • Playwriting: The King’s Cross Award For New Writing. Up to two full-length plays may be entered per writer, unpublished and unperformed scripts only. £5,000 prize. Closing date 30 Aprilthecourtyard.org.uk/content/25/writers-group.
  • Poetry: Poetry-Next-The-Sea Open Competition. Judge Heidi Williamson, max 40 lines, £100 first prize, closing date 6 Aprilpoetry-next-the-sea.com/index.html.
  • Poetry: UK’S First Bug Poetry Competition marking Buglife’s tenth year as the only conservation charity in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, closing date 8 April.
  • Poetry: Buxton Poetry Competition History and Heritage theme, all ages, judge Philip Wells, 40 lines max, closing date 8 Aprilderby.ac.uk/buxtonpoetrycompetition.
  • Poetry: The Writers’ Forum Poetry Competition is a monthly contest for poems of up to 40 lines. Closing: Monthly. Entries arriving too late (after the 15th) for one month go forward to the next. Prizes: 1st – £100. Runners-up – A Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Entry Fee: £5 each, £3 each thereafter. Includes a critique (sae required if entering by post). Comp Page: writers-forum.com/poetrycomp.html.
  • Poetry: other poetry competitions include Nonsense Poetry & Flash FictionVerWriting Magazine (WM: open to all theme: horror), poetrypf.co.ukswconline.co.uk.
  • Poetry & Short stories: Deddington Writers’ Group Open Writing Competition Short Story or Poem. Competition information and entry forms available from website end January or send SAE to: 7, The Daedings, Deddington, OX15 ORT. 1st prize: £100, 2nd: £50,  3rd: £25, awarded in both categories. Closing date 13 April. See deddington.org.uk/community/arts/writing or deddingtonfestival.org.uk.
  • Poetry: The Royal Berkshire Poetry Competition open to all, 40 lines max, 1st prize £200, closing date 14 Aprilglowmagazine.me/poetry-competition.
  • Poetry: Poetry on the Lake International Poetry Competition has a theme of ‘metal’. Top prizes of €200, judges include Anne-Marie Fyfe, closing date 22 April. See poetryonthelake.org.
  • Poetry: Ver Poets Open Competition. 1st prize £600. 30 lines max, closing date 30 April. See verpoets.org.uk/news/competitions.
  • Poetry: Ware Poets Open Poetry Competition. Prizes: £600, £250, £100. £100: The Ware Sonnet Prize. Anthology publication for winners and shortlisted poets (£3.50 pre-ordered). Closing date 30 April. Informal prize-giving ceremony at Ware Arts Centre in July. Fee: £4;  4 poems for £12, then £3 per poem (in the same submission). Length:  up to 50 lines. Sole judge: Susan Utting. Include contact sheet with usual details. Download flyer from website, or send SAE: The Competition Secretary, Ware Poets Competition, 21 Trinity Road, Ware, Herts. SG12 7DB or email: warepoets_competition@hotmail.co.uk and see poetrypf.co.uk/images/compware13.pdf.
  • Poetry: Southport Writers’ Circle International Poetry Competition. First Prize £150, Second Prize £75, Third Prize £25 A maximum of 40 lines per poem is allowed. Closing date 30 April. See swconline.co.uk/n1/?cat=5.
  • Poetry: The New Writer Annual Prose & Poetry Prizes launches every April. £2,000 in prizes. Closing date 30th November. Short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
  • Screenwriting: Canada-based Wildsound run monthly screenwriting competitions.
  • Screenwritingoscars.org/awards/nicholl/apply.html is a screenwriting competition with a late Aprildeadline.
  • Script: The Ticket to Write Beatles-themed Festival playwriting contest is now open for entries for the fourth year. We are currently exploring several venues and slots in Liverpool to perform the selected plays.
    As usual the plays can be about the people, stories inspired by songs and song-titles or any genuine connection with The Beatles. The script should be 40 – 45 minutes long and able to be performed by a maximum of four actors. More characters are allowed if it is practical to multi-role. The winner gets a tasty £150 and it costs only £10 to enter. Entries must be in by April 7, 2015. All plays will be assessed anonymously by a theatre professional and three will go forward to be performed. Professional judges and the audience vote will count towards the final result. All entries will receive a considered written critique from the assessor who will receive all of the £10 entry fee. A windfall has enabled us to fund the prize money.
    Full details are under ‘How To Enter’ on our website acedrama.co.uk.
  • Scriptwriting: The Nick Darke Award is open to all writers – stage play screenplay or radio play – prize fund £6,000. Closing date 29 Aprilfalmouth.ac.uk/nickdarkeaward.
  • Short stories: William Trevor / Elizabeth Bowen International Short Story Competition 1st prize €3,000, closing date 5 Aprilmitchelstownlit.com/index.html.
  • Short stories & Poetry: Deddington Writers’ Group Open Writing Competition, Short Story or Poem. Competition information and entry forms available from website end January or send SAE to: 7, The Daedings, Deddington, OX15 ORT. 1st prize: £100, 2nd: £50,  3rd: £25, awarded in both categories. Closing date 13 April. See deddington.org.uk/community/arts/writing or deddingtonfestival.org.uk.
  • Short stories: The Writers’ Forum Short Story Competition is a monthly no-theme contest for stories between 1,000 and 3,000 words. Closing: Monthly. Entries arriving too late (after the 15th) for one month go forward to the next. Prizes: £350, £150, £100 and publication in Writers’ Forum magazine (and possible anthology). Entry Fee: £3 per story for subscribers, £6 each non-subscribers. £5 extra for a critique (sae required if entering by post). Comp Page: http://writers-forum.com/storycomp.html.
  • Short stories: The Fowey Festival of Words and Music (formerly the Daphne du Maurier Festival) has announced the launch of the Short Story Competition. First Prize is £100 and Runner-up £75. Entry is £6.00 and entry form and full details at foweyfestival.com/the-du-maurier-festival-society-short-story-competition. The closing date is 19th April.
  • Short storiesGlimmer Train (different category each month), The Moth-Altun Short Story PrizeNonsense Poetry & Flash FictionNottingham Writing Magazine (WM: open to all theme: horror / subscriber-only theme: food), francobritishcouncil.org.ukwest-linton.org.uk/content/pentlands-writers-group. Also see Deddington in ‘Poetry…’ above.
  • Short storiesHayley Sherman runs a monthly short story competition for submissions on any subject up to 2,000 words. The winners are published on the website, promoted online and receive a £10 First Writer voucher. All entrants are also considered for publication in The New Short Story Annual at the end of the year. Deadline 25th of the month. Heather Marie Schuldt runs a similar contest, although 500-750 words max., but with the same deadline.
  • Short stories: Young Writers’ Competition. The annual Young Writers’ Competition at Jane Austen’s House Museum is entering its fourth year and is now open for entries. Annalie Talent, Education Officer said ‘Next year is the 200th anniversary of publication of Pride and Prejudice and so we have made the theme of the competition First Impressions which was the original title of Jane’s best-loved novel.’ Entries should be short stories of 300-400 words and entrants can interpret the theme in any way they want. Entry is open to all UK school pupils in school years 7-11. There are two categories: years 7 and 8 and years 9, 10 & 11. The competition will be judged by Professor Kathryn Sutherland of St Anne’s College Oxford and the Museum’s previous Writer-in-Residence, Rebecca Smith. Closing date 26 April. See jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk for details.
  • Short stories: first Annual Sara Park Memorial Short Story Competition. Theme Journeying, max 2000 words, closing date 30 Aprilredsquirrelpress.com/SquirrelCOMP.html.
  • Short stories: The James Plunkett Short Story Award for new and emerging writing talent, open to all writing in English who have not had a short story collection published. 1st prize €2,000, max 3000 words. Next closing date 30 April. See ireland-writers.com/index.htm.
  • Short stories: The Bristol Short Story Prize is open to all writers internationally over 16 years of age. Stories can be on any theme or subject and entry can be made online via the website or by post. Entries must be previously unpublished with a maximum length of 4,000 words (There is no minimum). Entry fee £8 per story. Closing date 30 April. 1st prize £1,000 plus £150 Waterstone’s gift card. 20 shortlisted writers will have their stories published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology. See bristolprize.co.uk.
  • Short storiesMassacre Magazine runs a quarterly horror 250-word max short story competition. Deadlines end April, July, October, January. “We will pick one winner who will receive a £15/$20 Amazon voucher and have their story published in the summer issue of Massacre Magazine. Our decision is final, any moaners will be mangled.” 🙂
  • Short stories: The New Writer Annual Prose & Poetry Prizes launches every April. £2,000 in prizes. Closing date 30th November. Short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
  • NB. Don’t forget to check out the ongoing competition websites listed at the end of the Competitions page.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2

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Guest post: Open with a BANG! by Melodie Campbell

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of beginnings is brought to you by Melodie Campbell.

Open with a BANG!

Last term at Sheridan College, I asked my fiction writing students this question:

“How long do you wait when watching a movie or TV show before switching channels?’

Five minutes?  Two minutes?  30 seconds?  The responses varied, but averaged out at one minute.

I told them: “One minute.  That is one page of movie script.  The first page of a novel.  So you are telling me that if the FIRST PAGE of writing doesn’t grab you, you don’t give the book/movie/sitcom a chance?”

Struck dumb, is how they looked.  Yes, audiences are a fickle lot now.  I’ve found editors to be even more demanding.  You have to grab them on your first page these days, and better – with your first line!

How to do it?

Start in the middle of something.  Start with action or dialogue.  Do NOT open with the weather, or description of location, or simple back-story.  Start with the meat.

Here’s an example from my novel, Rowena Through the Wall:

“I saw the first one right after class.”

This is a perfect opening line to teach from.  This sentence does many things:

1. It opens with the protagonist.  “I saw” – from this, we know that the book will be in first person – we are introduced to our protagonist.

In fiction, readers expect the first person they encounter, to be the protagonist.  This is the character they expect to become attached to.  Don’t disappoint them.

2. It opens with mystery:  “I saw the first one…”

First one of what?  And – it’s the first, so we know there will be more!  Lots of questions to intrigue the reader.

3. It gives some clue to setting.  “…right after class.”

In those well-chosen eight words, we have introduced the protagonist, the setting and a mystery.

Other good openers:

“He was a well-dressed burglar, Marge had to admit.” (from “School for Burglars”)

Marge is the protagonist – we are in her head and she is watching a burglary in progress.  Talk about opening in the middle of something!  And we have a picture of the burglar in our minds.

“The thing that shocked Emily was how incredibly easy it was to hide a murder.” (from “Life Without George”)

Emily is the protagonist, and probably a murderer.  Will she get away with it?  Will we want her to get away with it?

And from the masters:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” (from Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier)

We know this is a first person story – we have met the protagonist.  We know Manderley is a setting, and is important to the story because of that last word – ‘again’.

“I’d been waiting for the vampire for years, when he walked into the bar.” (from Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris)

First person again, protagonist in the first line, vampire is key to the story, and we know the setting.

All this, from one line.  Open your books with a bang!  Your readers will keep reading.

And maybe an editor will even get past the first line.

Thank you, Melodie! My favourite is Iain Banks’ from Crow Road: ‘It was the day my grandmother exploded’. I wrote one recently for one of my Tuesday Tales stories called Root of all evil which a reader has told me is one of his favourites: ‘Thelma was your root of all evil, not money’.

Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications and was a finalist for the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards. She is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada. Library Journal says this about Melodie`s third novel,

The Goddaughter (Orca Books, Sept. 2012): “Campbell`s crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh.”



Follow Melodie’s comic blog at http://funnygirlmelodie.blogspot.com and her website is www.melodiecampbell.com.

The following is an excerpt from THE GODDAUGHTER:

We got through the border with no problem at all this time.  Of course, it’s much easier to get through borders without a semi-frozen dead body pretending to be asleep in the back seat.


Morgen: I love that. 🙂

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with crime novelist Alan Tootill – the four hundred and ninety-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.