Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes

The Royal Exchange, Manchester cr Judy Darley

Manchester Writing Competition 2017 is open to online and postal entries, with categories for Poetry and Fiction. Both prizes offer a £10,000 first prize, so why not enter?

The competitions were instigated in 2008 by by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in 2008. The aim was designed to attract the best new writing from around the world, and to establish Manchester as a literary focal point. These are the UK’s biggest literary awards for unpublished writing.

The deadline for entries is Friday 29th September 2017.

The chair of poetry judges is Adam O’Riordan, with Mona Arshi and Pascale Petit. The entry fee is £17.50. The £10,000 prize will be awarded for the best portfolio of three to five poems (maximum combined length is 120 lines).

Find full details and enter on the Poetry Prize page.

The chair of fiction judges is Nicholas Royle, with author Bonnie Greer and short story, poet and author ‌Angela Readman also judging. You may enter short stories on any theme amounting to up to 2,500 words. The entry fee is £17.50.

Find full details and enter on the Fiction Prize page.

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

Writers & Artists short story competition

Playa de San Antolin cr Judy Darley.Writers & Artists have teamed up with Retreat West for a free writing competition that offers you the chance to win a place on one of Retreat West’s writing retreats. As well as five days to focus on your writing in a beautiful coastal setting, the prize includes workshops taking place at the retreat.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is write a short story no longer than 1,000 words.

The only stipulation here is that your story – which can be about anything you like – must use a beach as its setting, and must be written for adults.

Entries are free, though you must have an account with The deadline for submissions is midnight on Sunday 17th September.

Please send all entries to, with a subject line of “Retreat West Short Story Competition“.


The author of the winning story will receive a place on Retreat West’s Plotting Retreat, taking place from 17-21 November 2017 in West Bay, Dorset. Workshops over the weekend will be led by Richard Skinner, novelist and head of the Faber Academy, and Retreat West founder and novelist Amanda Saint. The retreat provides the opportunity to hone your writing skills in a beautiful location. Full details of the retreat can be found on the Retreat West website.

Both the winner and two runners up will also receive the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook , a copy of one of our Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Companion Guide series, and a copy of the 2016 Retreat West Anthology of stories from the annual RW Short Story Prize and RW Flash Fiction Prize. The winning stories will also be published on

Find full details, including terms and conditions, at

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

Mslexia’s 2017 Novel Competition

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyGot a compelling novel in progress? You’ve just got time to polish it up and enter Mslexia’s Women’s Novel Competition. The deadline is Monday 18th September 2017.

The competition is for novels of at least 50,000 words written for adults and young adults in any genre by previously unpublished women novelists.

Your novel must be complete, as shortlisted entrants will be asked to submit a full manuscript and synopsis for the final stages of the judging process – you will be disqualified if you can’t do this.

Entry fee: £25 per novel

To enter, submit up to 5,000 words of your novel. Any preface is included in your 5,000 words. There is no need to submit a synopsis.

This year’s winner of the £5,000 prize will be chosen by ‘queen of British historical fiction’ Philippa Gregory, agent Sarah Such and literary journalist Alex Clark.

The 2015 winning novel, Larchfield by Polly Clark, was published by Quercus this March 2017. And finalists and longlisted writers have found increased interest from agents as a result. Finalist Imogen Hermes Gower says, “the Mslexia competition was my first big ‘yes’ as a writer… It showed me my book could really be worth something, and this summer my agent sold it in a 10-house auction.”

Find full details at It’s worth dropping by Mslexia’s novel writing workshops too. Good luck!

Submit your novel for the Virginia Prize For Fiction

Virginaia-woolfs-house-richmond-hogarth-press-begun-hereBlue PlaqueAurora Metro, the Twickenham-based arts organisation, is searching for the best new fiction by a woman writing in English. The winner will receive £1,000 and a conditional offer of publication by Aurora Metro Books.

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

The 5th Virginia Prize for Fiction is now open  for submissions

The prize is open to any woman (over 18) around the world, writing in English.

The novel can be of any genre but cannot have been published or self-published before.

This biennial prize was launched in 2009 as a tribute to Virginia Woolf who wrote her first novel, The Voyage Out, while living an Hogarth House on Paradise Road in Richmond, where she and her husband Leonard also founded the Hogarth Press in 1917.

The prize’s founder, publisher Cheryl Robson, hopes that “by naming this prize in Virginia Woolf’s memory we will inspire women to find their voice and contribute to the pantheon of great women writers.”

The prize is open to any woman (over 18) around the world, writing in English. The novel can be of any genre but cannot have been published or self-published before. You must submit your entire completed novel to be eligible. The entry fee is £10 per manuscript.

The closing date for entries is 1st October 2017.

Previous winners include Shambala Junction by Dipika Mukherjee, which won the 4th Virginia Prize for Fiction, and The Leipzig Affair by Fiona Rintoul, which won the 3rd Virginia Prize for Fiction in 2013 and was dramatised for BBC R4′s Book At Bedtime. Read by Douglas Henshall and Indira Varma, it was broadcast in March 2015.

Kipling and Trix by Mary HamerMary Hamer, who won in the 2nd Virginia Prize for Fiction in 2011 with her novel Kipling & Trix, is the current Chair of the Kipling Society, and is giving a host of talks across the country about her novel and his life.

Louise Soraya Black who won the inaugural prize in 2009 for her novel Pomegranate Sky, which Fay Weldon described as “vividly written, fresh and eloquent”, has given up her law career to pursue writing full-time.

Could you be next?  For more information about the prize and to enter, go to

Find out more about Virginia Woolf’s time in Richmond.

The science of colour

Explore Watercolour Still_lapislazuliI’ve grown quietly addicted to Winsor & Newton’s art masterclasses, emailed in tasty chunks with each short film exploring a new painting technique or titbit. As the world’s leading supplier of fine art materials, they have a dizzying array of colour knowledge, which makes it no surpsie that they’ve teamed up with the Royal Academy of Arts to produce two films exploring the history of colour.

Rose Madder

Hosted by the Royal Academy of Art’s president and renowned painter, Christopher Le Brun PRA, the films illuminate the medium and materiality of paint, revealing the techniques of painting masters past and present and the contemporary practice of artists today.

The first is Exploring Watercolour, providing professional insights into the history and myths of the medium and insights into the inspiration behind Le Brun’s practise, and the relationship between paint, colour and light. Later in 2017, Winsor & Newton and the RA create a film exploring the story and development of colour, its chemical and cultural origins, the philosophy of pigmentation and its impact on artists’ work.

Explore Watercolour Still_Christopher Le Brun

“What you want to remember about colour is that it’s inexplicable, and that is the pleasure of it.” Christopher Le Brun PRA.

Watch the film here.

This August, Winsor & Newton are offering the chance to hear Le Brun discuss colour in person. You can win two tickets to attend the exclusive event ‘The Art and Science of Colour’ at the Royal Academy on Monday 11 September 2017.

The prize also includes a personalised Winsor & Newton Series 7 brush, and a signed copy of Composer by Christopher Le Brun, President of Royal Academy.

Hosted by Christopher Le Brun PRA, the evening will feature distinguished speakers across a range of disciplines, including artist and authority on colour David Batchelor and Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences at UCL Dr Ruth Siddall. The event will be moderated by art Historian and Lecturer, Ben Street.

The competition closes on 25th August 2017. Find full details here

All images courtesy of Christopher Le Brun and the Royal Academy of Arts. Photography by Nick Watson.

New Flash Fiction Review invites submissions

Arnos Vale tangle tree cr Judy DarleyThis attractive online magazine caught my attention thanks to the alumni of excellent contributors, including Jude Higgins, and the editor’s apparent passion for brief, splendid, often whimsical works.

Founded in 2014 by author and editor Meg Pokrass, they describe themselves as “an online magazine devoted to flash fiction and prose poetry.”

They are open for submissions under 1,000 words in length until September 12th 2017. How could you resist?

Happily, simultaneous submissions are encouraged. If your piece has been accepted elsewhere, simply withdraw it from the Submissions manager.

Find full details here:

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

MShed cr Judy DarleyAesthetica Magazine invites writers and poets to submit work into the Creative Writing Award.

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award celebrates outstanding short fiction and poetry from around the world. The deadline for entering the award is 31 August 2017.

Prizes include publication within Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology and £1,000 for each category winner. Winner of the short fiction competition will receive a consultation with literary agency Redhammer Management, while the Poetry winner will have a Full Membership to The Poetry Society.  To whet your appetite for creating more literary works, the winners will also receive, a subscription to Granta and books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books.

It costs £12 to enter the Poetry category and £18 to enter the Short Fiction category.

Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words each and poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines each. Both short fiction and poetry entries should be written in English. Unusually, submissions previously published elsewhere are accepted. You may enter as many times as you wish.

For full details, visit

RWA Annual Open Exhibition

RWA Open Exhibition 163

RWA © Alice Hendy

The Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing one of my favourite cultural events (Ta very much!) – the RWA Annual Open Exhibition.

Submissions are open until Monday 21st August at 5pm, so if you get a wriggle on you still have a chance of being part of it!

The exhibition will be open to the public from Sunday 1 October to Sunday 3 December 2017. Artists of all ages and experience are invited to submit.

Now in its 165th year, the exhibition is open to anyone with something to show, regardless of experience level and discipline choice. Last year 593 works by 387 artists made it into the final exhibition, which was a truly outstanding showcase of talent.


All applicants must apply online, submitting images using the new Online Exhibition Submission System (OESS).

Points to remember:

  • Submissions must be no more than three years old and must be for sale
  • A maximum of 3 works may be submitted per applicant (4 for Academicians)
  • Work cannot have been exhibited before at the RWA
  • All entries are subject to selection and a submission fee per work for entry applies

Find full details here: Good luck!

Dragonfly Tea want your short stories

Tea plantation cr Judy DarleySeeking a boost for your short story writing? Dragonfly Tea have launched their 2017 short story competition in partnership with Henley Literary Festival.

invite you a short story on the theme of Journey, and submit it to their short story competition before 11:59pm (GMT) on Monday 31st July 2017. Your tale can’t be more than 3,000 words long; there is no minimum length.

There is also a children’s competition too, with categories for ages 4-7, 8-11 and 12-15. Tales in this section must be on the theme of adventure and must not be more than 500 words long, not including the title.

The the competitions are open to all non-professional fiction writers who are UK residents. In other words, you can only enter is you have never received a fee for your written work, be that fiction or non-fiction. Prize money received as a result of entering work into a competition is not considered a fee.

The competitions are free to enter.

Entries can be submitted via post or online via the online entry page of the Dragonfly Tea website.


Main competition

  • 1st – £1500
  • 2nd – £750
  • 3rd – £250

Children’s Competition, in each category

  • £50 voucher for each winner plus £100 voucher for their school.

Finalists from all categories will be invited to the Henley Literary Festival on Sunday 8th October 2017 for a special awards ceremony and prize giving.

Find full details of these creative writing competitions.

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

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh book festival gardensThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 12th-28th August 2017, bringing writers and thinkers from across the globe together with a lit-loving audience.

Speakers include Carnegie Medal-winner Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics), Diana Hendry, The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins, Tariq Ali, Mao Dun Prize-winning author Liu Zheyun, and countless others. There’s a chance to have afternoon tea with Yemisi Aribisala, to find out children’s books can introduce philosophy with Alison Murray, Vivian French and Dr Claire Cassidy, plus the possibility of creating a pop up museum with V&A Dundee.
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