Wells Festival of Literature competitions

City of Wells cr Judy Darley

Wells Festival of Literature takes place from 15th-23rd October 2021, but before that they hold their annual writing competitions, with entries accepted until 30th June 2021.

The categories are short stories, poetry, children’s books and poetry by anyone aged 16-22 inclusive.

The first prize in their Open Poetry Competition will this year be £1,000. Second and third prizes will be £500 and £250 respectively.

The Short Story and Book for Children categories have the following prizes:

  • First prize = £750
  • Second prize = £300
  • Third prize = £200

There are Local Prizes of £100 each for the Short Story, Open Poetry and Book for Children competitions.

The Young Poet category the following prizes:

  • First prize = £150
  • Second prize = £75
  • Third prize = £50

All three prize winners will also receive a year’s subscription to the Poetry Society.

Short Story Competition
Entries may be on any subject and should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length.
The Short Story judge is writer of fiction and non-fiction Sally Bayley.

The fee for each entry is £6.

Open Poetry Competition
Poet, author and playwright Owen Sheers is the 2021 Open Poetry Judge. Entries may be on any subject but must not exceed 35 lines in length.

The fee for each entry is £6.

A Book for Children Competition
The judge for this category is author Dr Joanna Nadin, who has published more than 80 books for children, teenagers and adults, including the award-winning Penny Dreadful series.Entries to the Book for Children Competition should be aimed at readers between the ages of 7-16 years. You must submit the first two chapters or first twenty pages, (whichever is the shortest), together with the synopsis of up to two pages and the age range of the book specified.
The fee for each entry is £6.
Young Poets Competition
Competitors may submit only one entry and must be aged 16 to 22 inclusive, at the closing submission date on 30th June 2021. Entries may be on any subject but must not exceed 35 lines in length. The judge is poet Phoebe Stuckes.
The fee to enter is £3.

The closing date for all entries is 30th June 2021. Prizes for all four competitions will be presented on Monday 18th October 2021 during the Festival.

Find the full rules and details of how to enter.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com

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Writing prompt – parade

The Festival of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres on the Azores, 2017. By Judy DarleyI took this photo in Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, the largest of the Azores islands. Jetlagged after a full day of airports and planes, I was mesmerised by the shininess of this man’s shoes against the black and white pavement.

The Festival of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres is a major holy event on Sao Miguel. It’s up to you whether you want to research the intricacies of the religious beliefs and rites, or invent something original. Who might this man be? Why the red coat? What’s with the floral carpeting in the centre of the road? Whose feet appear almost out of shot?

Are drums playing, women ululating, children tooting on horns, animals braying? Can you smell beer or coffee, toasting sugar or crushed petals? Is the air warm and drowsy or crackling with excitement? How might the festival’s zenith impact one person or group?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

WFH? Work from The Canaries!

WFH From The Canary Islands. Shows woman working on a laptop with tropical beach and blue sea and sky beyond.With so many of us working from home these days, the views really are growing a little bit dull. Happily, the Canary Islands Tourist Board have launched a competition which will lead to one lucky homeworker winning six months of remote working in the Canary Islands, all expenses paid.

The prize includes return flights, accommodation, co-working space and activities in the destination for six months.

The competition closes to entries on 9th June. To enter, you’re invited to record yourself answering the question: ‘What do you do and what would you get out of working from the Canary Islands?

You must upload your video to social media using the hashtag #RemoteWorkerWanted and tagging the Canary Islands’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube channel.

The winner will be chosen by a jury of five members, including experts in remote working and in tourism marketing, and will be announced on 30th June 2021 via the Canary Islands’ social media channels.

For self-employed workers the case may be business as usual, but remote working has been a growing trend in recent years among 9-to-5-ers, with and has rapidly accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerating the trend. Many companies are now changing the way they work, as well as their openness towards remote workers.

The Canary Islands is a haven for the WFH-ers the tourist board has labelled “digital nomads.” The Archipelago has always offered high internet speed, better than the European average, which is set to become even faster with the introduction of 5G. With a climate of endless summer, thirty natural parks and protected spaces, biosphere reserves stretching to 60% of the Archipelago’s terrain, five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, world-class beaches and an array of original cultural activities, the Canary Islands has plentyto offer outside of working hours.

Choose between Tazacorte, La Palma, for its tranquillity, Corralejo in Fuerteventura, for its beaches, or Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria when you want to pair natural beauty with a cultural city.

All competition participants will have exclusive access to the Remote Talent Directory, a tool to connect freelancers and remote workers with professionals and companies residing in the Canary Islands. This tool will be shared with co-working and co-living spaces located in the Archipelago, as well as companies and professionals open to work with remote workers from all over Europe.

Full competition details can be found at www.remoteworkerswanted.com.

It might be time to swap that digital Zoom ocean backdrop for a real one!

Got an event, opportunity, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Hay Festival 26th May to 6th June 2021

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

While the wonderful Hay Festival isn’t taking place physically this year thanks to Covid-19, the Hay Festival Digital runs from Wednesday 26th May to Sunday 6th June!

More than 200 acclaimed writers, global policy makers, historians, poets, pioneers and innovators will strive to inspire, enthral and entertain with FREE events for all ages.

The Opening Gala is titled A Night of Hope, and will stream in notable voices from around the world  including HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, actors Richard Eyre, Jessica Raine, Stephen Fry, Theresa Lola, Romola Garai, Charly Arrowsmith and Louise Brearley, comedians Sindhu Vee and Rob Brydon, writers Elif Shafak, Juno Dawson, Clemency Burton-Hill, Simon Schama, Rufus Mufasa, Hafsa Zayyan, Margaret Busby, poets Hollie McNish and Karl Nova, rapper Guvna B, scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and more.

Other highlights include conversations with authors spanning the literary spectrum from JoJo Moyes to Michael Rosen to Raven Leilani to Cassandra Coburn to David Hockey to Floella Benjamin, amid countless other luminaries.

Find the full programme and register for the events that pique your curiosity here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

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Writing prompt – b-hotel

Bee Hotel, Bristol Botanic Garden. Photo by Judy DarleyI’ve already mentioned No Mow May, and tomorrow is World Bee Day 2021. Visiting Bristol Botanic Garden, I was impressed by the size of their Bee Hotel. It really is the Hilton of Bug  Hotels. It also reminds me slightly oddly of the properties in the opening credits to ‘The Jetsons‘, when the future was full of hope and razzmatazz.

This is a chance to play with concepts of scale to create an adventure tale.

Who might choose to stay here? Might they be a refugee family displaced by the climate crisis? Notice the webs on some parts of the structure. What kinds of neighbours could lurk in shadowy corners? How can the family attempt to keep themselves safe?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Enter The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

Terra Nostra Tropical plants cr Judy DarleyWasafari magazine invites submissions of Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing for The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize.

The prize closes on 31st May 2021 at 5pm BST.

The winners of each category receive a £1,000 cash prize and will be published by Wasafiri in print. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on the Wasafiri website. All 15 shortlistees and winners will be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility), and a conversation with Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency to discuss their career progression.  

The prizes include the chance to take part in the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility).

The fee is £10 for a single entry and £16 for a double entry. No entry may be more than 3,000 words long.  

Shortlisted entrants will be notified by email after 4th September 2021All shortlisted writers will be invited to the prizegiving event on 14th October 2021. 

Acceptance of a place on the shortlist indicates your agreement to your work being published in Wasafiriin print or online, and included in a possible anthology. 

Find full details of how to enter at www.wasafiri.org.

This year, poetry entries will be judged by renowned poet Tishani Doshi, fiction entries will be judged by prizewinning author Hirsh Sawhney, and life writing entries will be judged by bestselling novelist and memoirist Christie Watson. The Chair of the judging panel is writer and Professor of Creative Writing Andrew Cowan. 

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

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Book review – Am I in the Right Place? by Ben Pester

Am I In The Right Place book coverIf your preferred reading place and time is in bed before sleep, you may need to develop new habits for Ben Pester’s debut collection Am I in the Right Place? Seemingly ordinary settings (a café; an office) twitch with unreliable edges that threaten to upend into the unknown. Cupboards open into other worlds, and roads lead to versions of memories that encroach on the present in unexpected ways.

We open with a character waiting to meet his ageing father, and then spooling into a journey where anxiety lingers with such a palpable presence it almost takes on human form.

Later in the collection, in ‘Low Energy Meeting’ a line manager introduces us to the embodiment of his love, a sorrowful figure in a dingy dressing gown.

Emotions here have powers to shift our surroundings, making every step uncertain. What was floor moments ago could now be a hole with an insatiable appetite.

Some pages, dyed black from corner to corner, abandon us to our rattled thoughts only quieted by the rustle of us scrabbling to get to the next printed words.

Continue reading

Writing prompt – horses

Eastwood Farm horses by Judy DarleyOn the same day that we came across farmland where we’d expected no farm, we encountered two horses behaving uncannily un-horselike. They were motionless in their field, standing there as though someone had forgotten to switch them on.

I’ve since been informed this is perfectly normal – this is them resting while their bodies get on with the exhausting business of digesting hay. But their stillness made them seem like a museum scene, and made me feel for an instant that none of it was real.

Can you use this eerie feeling to build up a scene where someone gains the awareness that their home is no longer quite what it seems? What might the clues be? How might your protagonist test their inkling? What could ensue?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Enter SmokeLong’s Grand Micro Contest

MerryGoRound cr Judy DarleyUntil 16th May 2021 the SmokeLong editors invite you to submit your most powerful compressed work for them to consider inclusion in their June double issue. Authors of chosen micros are guaranteed $100, but you could win much more. In this competition you  have the opportunity to enter one, two, or up to four micros.

The Judging

All entries are read blind by the SmokeLong editors. You will probably receive a reply within two weeks if we have decided to pass on the story. If they take longer than two weeks, be encouraged. This means it’s likely that your story has made it through to the second round of judging.

Your story must be no more than 400 words long, not including the title. If you are entering two or more micros, submit all your entries in one document.

Entries must be written in English or accompanied by an English translation. The story will be judged on the English text as well as the word count of the English text. Translator and author will split the prize money equally.

Fiction, non-fiction, and hybrid narratives are considered. Though line between prose and poetry is often a blurry one especially in micro narratives, bear in mind that SmokeLong does not consider poetry.

All identifying information must be removed from your story, with your name and contact details included only in your cover letter.

Their final guideline is quite simple: write something you love.

The Prizes

Grand Prize: $1500
Second Place: $500
Third Place: $300
Finalists: $100
All placed stories will be published in the June 2021 issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.

A long list and a shortlist will be announced.

Entry Fees

$6 for one micro
$10 for two micros
$16 for up to four micros

Before you enter

I highly recommend that before submitting your words, you devote some time to reading the kind of stories SmokeLong publishes. The editors have a very specific tastes in micro tales – sharp edges polished thin enough to see sunlight through are definitely preferred.

Find the full guidelines and enter here: http://www.smokelong.com/the-smokelong-grand-micro-contest/

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

2020 Costa Book Award Winner Hosts UK Writer’s Retreat 

The Grange by the Sea_Skyros_2021Fancy taking a trip to the masterclass of a lifetime? Costa Book Award winner 2020 for her novel for The Mermaid of Black ConchMonique Roffey is hosting a life writing coastal masterclass on behalf of Skyros. The ‘Your Story’ Writer’s Retreat will take place at Skyros’ UK Retreat, The Grange by the Sea on the Isle of Wight, within earshot of the ocean.

Eight hours of tuition on top of afternoon drop-ins will offer a solid start to any life writing project.

Mermaid of Black Conch coverMonique Roffey is an award-winning Trinidadian-born British writer. As well as winning the Costa Book of the Year 2020, The Mermaid of Black Conch was also shortlisted for the Goldsmith Prize 2020 and longlisted for the Rathbones/Folio Award. She is author of seven books, six novels and a memoir. She is Senior Lecturer on the MFA/MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and has taught for Skyros for many years.

“In the world of writing memoirs, understand how shame can limit your potential and tap into your vulnerabilities, transforming them into strengths.”

The Grange has Good To Go accreditation with Covid measures in-place, and is well suited to solo travellers as well as couples and friends.

Monique’s masterclass runs from Monday 17th until Friday 21st May, 2021.

The price, £575 includes:

* Eight hours of coaching per week
* Breakfast, lunch and dinner
* Afternoon drop-in classes for three afternoons
* Additional ad-hoc morning and evening activities
* Community structures unique to Skyros that bring everyone together in a fun and authentic way
* Twin shared 4-star guest accommodation at The Grange by The Sea (single upgrades available).
* Coastline walks and opportunities for excursions

For more information, call +44 (0)1983 865 566, email holidays@skyros.com and see the full season of UK retreats here www.skyros.com.

Got an event, opportunity, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.