5a.m. Flash 120812 – August deadline writing competitions

Every now and then at 5a.m. (probably posted by my clone) I will be bringing you a newsflash, update on what I’m doing, invited guest piece, or whatever takes my fancy, and today I’m talking about writing competitions…

It’s been a while since I mentioned the competitions listed on my blog and I’ve been adding loads in the past few weeks. The page is laid out in a calendar format with the current month at the top, and I know we’re already half-way through the month but you may have something already written with nowhere to go and one of these might just be the perfect place…

NB. I may well not have tried these competitions myself so please take a good look at the websites before parting with money and submitting your hard work!  ALSO please note that not all the competitions run each year so please check their validity before entering (and their guidelines do change from year to year).

Colour Key: blue = external websites, purple = emails, green = pages on this blog

Details of the H.E. Bates Short Story Competition (deadline end October) that one of my writing groups runs is here. This year we have a theme (and new judge: Stephen Booth): ‘A walk at midnight’.

AUGUST

and then not forgetting those that aren’t date-specific…

WEEKLY
  • Flash FictionIndies Unlimited hosts a weekly 250-word max. prompt competition – see Indies Unlimited. Co-run by interviewee Kat ‘K.S.’ Brooks. Also see ‘Short stories’ below.
  • Poetry: Buxton’s Word Wizards slam poetry competition runs in the coffee lounge at the Grove Hotel, Buxton, Derbyshire, UK at 7:30pm on the last Tuesday of every month. Entry is £2.50. More info can be obtained by e-mailing Rob at: poetryslamUK@aol.com.
  • PoetryWell Versed is the weekly poetry column of daily UK newspaper the Morning Star, published every Thursday, in print and online. Poetry editor Jody Porter. Under the stewardship of the late and esteemed John Rety, Well Versed developed into a widely-read forum for new and established writers. Send submissions, with biographical information, to: wveditor@gmail.com. Poems need not be overtly political, but space is limited so they must be short to medium in length.
  • Short storiesFlash Fiction Online are currently closed to submissions (I guess because they’re overwhelmed), but it’ll be worth checking their website every now and then.
MONTHLY
  • MixedMixedPockets and Creative Print Publishing (both have different themes each month), Opening Editions (free).
  • Screenwriting: Canada-based Wildsound run monthly screenwriting competitions.
  • Short storiesBrighton COW (currently on hiatus), Coast to CoastWriting / Writers’ News magazines and Opening Editions.
  • Short storiesBound Off now take submissions via Submishmash.
  • 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.
  • Short storieshttp://www.fivestopstory.com/write: 2012 competitions cost £4 per entry (2 for £7, 3 for £8, optional feedback £5) and have monthly prizes of £50. There is also a £150 prize for the overall winner of their 2012 league table and you can become a member for £25 which entitles you to 3 free entries per month (2012).
QUARTERLY
ONGOING
COMPETITION WEBSITES

If you discover any broken links, closed competitions or know of ones that I haven’t listed here, please do email me with details.

***

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, 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.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

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 fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, 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.

Stephen Booth is H.E. Bates Short Story Competition 2012 Judge

The long-running H.E. Bates competition is back and has a theme and a new judge! I’m delighted to announce that prolific crime novelist Stephen Booth is our judge this year.

‘A walk at midnight’ was chosen as our theme for 2012 because many of his stories depict life in the rural Midlands of England, particularly his native Northamptonshire and, as Wikipedia says, H.E. Bates was partial to taking long midnight walks around the Northamptonshire countryside and this often provided the inspiration for his stories. Bates was a great lover of the countryside and the people, as exemplified in two volumes of essays entitled Through the Woods and Down the River. Both have been reprinted numerous times.

Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE (1905–74), better known as H. E. Bates, was an English writer and author. His best-known works include Love for LydiaThe Darling Buds of May, (starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Pam Ferris amongst others) and My Uncle Silas. Bates was born on May 16, 1905 in Rushden, Northamptonshire, and educated at Kettering Grammar School. After leaving school, he worked as a reporter and a warehouse clerk.

Run by the Northampton Writers Group (of which I am Chair and therefore a competition panelist :)), the details of the H.E. Bates competition can be seen here (and rules / entry details here) but the following is a summary:

  • Write us a short story to a theme of ‘A walk at midnight’.
  • Entries must be no longer than 2,000 words in length.
  • Email / postal entries accepted.
  • The competition is open to all writers, from anywhere in the world.
  • 1st Prize £150; 2nd Prize £100; 3rd Prize £50
  • Special prize for the best story written by a Northamptonshire writer £50 (not awarded if the story has won 1st, 2nd or 3rd Prize).
  • In addition, a prize of £50 will be awarded for the best story by a writer who is under 18 years old on the closing date for entries.
  • The entry fee is £4 for each story submitted or 3 stories for £10 (£1 for each story submitted by an Under 18 writer). Entrants are invited to submit as many stories as they wish.
  • The initial judging panel will comprise members of the Northampton Writers’ Group
  • Head Judge is a well-known crime writer – name t.b.a.
  • Closing date for entries is midnight (UK time) on Wednesday 31st October 2012.
  • Prizes will be awarded at a prize-giving ceremony a few weeks later. Date and venue to be announced.

A former newspaper journalist, Stephen Booth is the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have so far appeared in 11 crime novels, all set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

The Cooper & Fry series has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic, and Detective Constable Cooper has been a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British author.

In 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers most pleasure.”

The novels are sold all around the world, with translations in 15 languages, and are currently in development as a TV series. The most recent title is Dead and Buried. His other books include The Devil’s EdgeLost RiverThe Kill CallOne Last Breath, and Blind to the Bones.

You can also watch Stephen’s video about his novel ‘Kill Call’, the Peak District location and why he writes crime fiction… and read my review of his novella ‘Claws’ here. 🙂

* * *

I have to say (well, I don’t have to but I’m being kind) that one of the stories I read last year didn’t have a beginning or end (only a middle) so lost points for that (I start at 10 and work downwards). Nick, our competition organiser, let it go through to the panel which I wouldn’t have done as to me it wasn’t a short story so he’s clearly even kinder than me. 🙂

So there you have it. Nick (who gets your stories first, removes the names then distributes them), myself and the other group members look forward to reading your stories. I always say I’m firm but fair (you can hear how I critique in one of my red pen podcasts) and whilst I can’t be bribed (unless it’s with banoffee pie), if you have any questions feel free to email me.

The Northampton Writers’ Group (critique group) meets every other Thursday night in central Northampton, England – do email me if you’re local and are interested in joining.

Short Story Saturday 007: ‘Claws’ by Stephen Booth

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday and the seventh review in this new series. This week’s review is of ‘Claws’ by crime novelist Stephen Booth. It is the longest of the stories I have reviewed so far at, I estimate, c. 15,000 words.

Amazon.co.uk’s description of Stephen’s book reads: “Derbyshire Police Detective DC Ben Cooper is on assignment to the Rural Crime Squad to investigate wildlife crime. On the wild Peak District moorlands, Cooper steps into the middle of a conflict that has been raging for years over one of the most prized landscapes in the National Park. Many lives are at stake. And, in this battle, not all the victims are human.”

The shortest hooks are often the most catching and this story’s, ‘The bones were tiny’, certainly grabbed me.

I’d not read the back cover blurb or Amazon’s description before starting the book and you would have thought that the title and seeing a bird on the front cover should have given it away, but my first thought that they were children’s bones and although I soon learned of the true origin, the story was so compassionately narrated that I felt equal affinity to them, and compelled to read on.

Having read Stephen’s writing before, and met / interviewed him, I know his work to be dark (which I love, and write) yet he gives a light touch to his characters. There is a warmth to even the strangest of creatures, in this case bird collector Kevin Hewitt, and although he is the antagonist in ‘Claws’ there are instances where I felt sorry for him. Only just. 🙂

A good story entertains and educates and it ticked both boxes for me. Although I have been to the Peak District a few times I know little of the area and the policing that is involved. I was carried along with the description of the procedures rather than bogged down by them and found it really interesting.

My favourite line of the book was at the end of chapter 1: “She did speak to us,” said Cooper. “Around here, that means we’re practically best friends.” It shows the skill of such a writer to create subtle humour within their characters, and the rapport between DC Cooper and his colleague PC Tracy Udall would make me want to read other books featuring them, which I’d say is the success of any piece, especially such a short one.

And the downside? There wasn’t one, it’s an easy read, although I did spot a typo on page 38. 🙂

‘Claws’ is one of a series of Crime Express, priced at an RRP of £4.99, of a similar stature to ‘Quick Reads’. Others in the Five Leaves Publishing’s Crime Express range include Ray Banks’ ‘California’, Danuta Reah’s ‘Not Safe’, Rod Duncan’s ‘Mentalist’, John Harvey’s ‘Trouble in Mind’, and Charlie Williams’ ‘Graven Image’. ‘Claws’ is available from Westlea Books in various formats, as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk (£3.69), and as an ebook from Reader Store and Smashwords ($0.99), Amazon.co.uk (£0.72) and wherever good books are sold (as the saying goes). 🙂

Stephen’s website is http://www.stephen-booth.com and he’s prolific on Twitter and Facebook.

A former newspaper journalist, Stephen Booth is the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have so far appeared in 11 crime novels, all set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District. The Cooper & Fry series has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic, and Detective Constable Cooper has been a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British author. In 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers most pleasure”. The novels are sold all around the world, with translations in 15 languages, and are currently in development as a TV series. The most recent title is The Devil’s Edge. His other books include Lost River, The Kill Call, One Last Breath, and Blind to the Bones.

Biography taken from my interview with Stephen last October – which you can read here.

UPDATE FROM STEPHEN VIA TWITTER: “15,000 words is spot on, Morgen. That was the specification for a Crime Express title, though it’s been extended since.” Woo hoo! 🙂

If you’d like to submit your story (50 to 2,500 words) for review take a look here. I am also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays (which are usually later podcasted).

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with writer, editor and publisher Kim Maya Sutton – the three hundred and nineteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers 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 also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.