Bristol Short Story Prize 2017 invites entries

Bristol hot air balloons cr Judy DarleyOne of my favourite writing competitions (and not just because it’s local), Bristol Short Story Prize 2017 is now open for entries. Flick through any of their anthologies and you’ll discover a wonderful breadth of theme, topic and style.

The closing date for entries is May 3rd 2017. Submissions can be up to a maximum length of 4,000 words.

The judging panel will be chaired by Tania Hershman. Tania is joined on the panel by acclaimed author Roshi Fernando and award winning bookseller, Simon Key.

BristolShortStoryPrize-vol-9-coverThe 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Stefanie Seddon for her story, Kãka.

The 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Canadian writer Brent van Staalduinen for his story A Week on the Water.

The 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Mahsuda Snaith for her story The Art of Flood Survival.

The 2013 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by London-based writer, Paul McMichael, for his story, The House on St. John’s Avenue.

Stories can be entered online or by post. The closing date for entries is midnight (BST) on May 3rd 2017. Find the full competition rules here.

The writing competition prizes

First prize is £1,000. Second prize is £700, and third prize is £400.

Each of the 17 remaining shortlisted finalists will receive £100.

Entry fees are £8 each.

For full details or to enter, go to

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.

Enter the Poetry on the Lake Competition

Carzano harbour cr Judy DarleyThere’s still time to enter the Poetry on the Lake Competition with a closing date of 30th April 2017.

There are three categories:

Silver Wyvern (all forms, max 40 lines). The theme is precious, base, and anything metallic, and can be interpreted in anyway you wish, but must bear a reference to the theme.
Short poems (max 10 lines). No theme.
Formal (max 40 lines). No theme.

Carol Ann Duffy is the Silver Wyvern adjudicator. Short poems will be judged by Oz Hardwick, while Kevin Bailey adjudicates the formal poems.

Prizes range from €500 to €100. Interestingly, all fees are donations to the organisation and events of Poetry on the Lake, so while there is a suggested amount, they add: “If you genuinely can’t afford the fee, just send what you can. Of course, if your bank manager kisses the ground when you walk in, please donate generously.”

Find full details at

Let the Book Fair commence!

English Pen Literary Cafe

London Book Fair 2017 begins at Olympia, London, on Tuesday 14th March, so don’t expect any response from agents of publishers for a while! I attended a few years ago with a publisher I was working with, and it was one of the most exhausting, intriguing, chaotic, exhausting, extraordinary events I’ve ever attended. Sorry, did I say exhausting twice?

It’s a vast, sprawling space filled with people who haven’t slept in days and aren’t quite sure where they’re going – a bit like an international airport but with the added requirement of being ready to schmooze at a moment’s notice.

Previously I’ve always urged aspiring authors not to attend with the aim of pitching unpublished novels, but this year for the first time there is a special Author Club section of the fair which is worth investigating, while the usual offering of seminars will help you find out about self-publishing, marketing and more.

On the whole though, this is very much a trade show, where the emphasis is on publishers pushing titles, discussing international rights and new markets, seeking out new business collaborators, stifling yawns and drinking rather a lot of coffee.

If you’re going along, good luck!

Enter a comic poetry contest

Possible wergleflomp spied at Art in Action

While I’m a fan of sensitive, thought-provoking poetry, there’s definitely something to be said for an intelligent comical poem. Just writing one can lift your spirits – especially necessary through these wet winter storms.

The Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, sponsored by Winning Writers, seeks to celebrate the art of writing poems that make others smile. The creature at the top of is, I believe, a possible Wergle Flomp, spied in the wilds of Art in Action last year.

There’s no fee to enter the writing competition, so what have you got to lose?

Your poem may be of any length. Have a read of last year’s winners, to get some inspiration, then let your imagination run riot, and unleash your talent for comic verse.

Make sure you upload your masterpiece to before the submission deadline of April 1st 2017 (April Fools’ Day – how apt is that?)

Jendi Reiter and Lauren Singer are the judges. Top prize is $1,000 and there will be ten Honorable Mentions of $100 each.

All winners will be published on the Winning Writers website.

Submit your art to the RWA’s Drawn exhibition

Sea Mark silver, Tania Kovats, 2015, image courtesy of Sidney Cooper Gallery and RWAThe Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing for their Biannual drawing exhibition Drawn. The show aims to “explore the boundaries of drawing and celebrate it as both an autonomous discipline and an interdisciplinary tool.”

The image above is from the 2015 exhibition, and shows Sea Mark (silver), by Tania Kovats, and is provided courtesy of Sidney Cooper Gallery and the RWA.

Entries are invited from artists who draw or explore the concept of drawing in their work. Submissions are open until 5pm on 15th March 2017, so if you still have a chance of being part of it.

As well as the opportunity to have your work showcased in the exhibition, prizes for Drawn include the following:

  • The Theresa Knowles Travel Bursary which offers a bursary of £1,500 to go to Italy to make new work.
  • The Student Prize – a month long exhibition at Hidden
  • Work on Paper Prize – £400 of printing and framing courtesy of Niche Frames.


All applicants must apply online, submitting images using the Online Exhibition Submission System.

Find full details here: Good luck!

Book and Brunch Sundays

Book and Brunch SundaysWith World Book Day approaching on 2nd March 2017, I’m happy to see one hotel fully embracing the theme. Lowndes Bar & Kitchen unveils its new Book and Brunch Sundays on 26th Feb.  Their new brunch menu encompasses a bottomless tea or coffee, fresh juice, delights such as smashed avocados and poached eggs, plus a brand new paperback for a touch of literary bliss, especially selected by nearby Belgravia Books.

Belgravia by Julian FellowesWhat a genius idea for hotels to collaborate with bookshops and authors!

The Book and Brunch series begins with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’ latest novel Belgravia, with literary offerings set to change each month. Upcoming treats including 2016 Costa Novel Award shortlisted The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain, 2016 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien and author Rowena Macdonald’s debut novel The Threat Level Remains Severe.

Sounds divine to me!

For more information or to reserve a table, visit or call 020 7858 7223.

Enter Mslexia’s short story competition

Button on Kilve Beach cr Judy DarleyMslexia’s annual short story competition for women writers is open for entries, so now’s the time to search out and polish up your plots!

The first prize is £2,000 – one of the biggest prizes available in the genre – and includes two optional extras: a week’s writing retreat at Gladstone Library, and a day with a Virago editor. Not too shabby!

Three other finalists will each receive £100. The winning stories will be published in the June 2017 issue of Mslexia.

Stories must be between 300 and 3,000 words in length, not including the title. The shortlisted entries will be judged by novelist, playwright and poet Deborah Levy. Entires cost £10 each.

The closing date for the competition is 20th March 2017, so there’s just time to get your entry together.

You can find full details of how to enter at

Ginosko Flash Fiction contest

Icelandic skies cr Judy DarleyThe Ginosko Flash Fiction Contest 2017 invites submission of exceptional, unpublished works of flash fiction.

Submit up to two of your finest flash fiction, of no more than 800 words per piece. The work selected as the winner by judges Amanda Yskamp, Michael Hettich, Gary Lundy, E M Schorb, Andrena Zawinski, Andrei Guruianu, Robert Paul Cesaretti will receive the $500 Award, and will be published on Ginosko Literary Journal website and in a future issue.

The deadline for entries is 1st March 2017.

Each entry must be accompanied by a $5 entry fee.

Submit your entries, along with a brief bio and cover letter if desired, via Submittable: The name of the author must not to be on the actual submission.

Find full details and read the winner of the Ginosko Flash Fiction Award 2016 at

Spring literary leaps at Southbank Centre

Neil Gaiman. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Author and fabulist Neil Gaiman. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Norse myths have been a source of inspiration for author and fabulist (how’s that for a job title) Neil Gaiman throughout his literary career. Discussing this influence and his latest book Norse Mythology (due out today – 7th February 2017), Neil Gaiman is part of Southbank Centre’s Spring Literature programme and year-long exploration of Nordic culture Nordic Matters.

On 15th February you can learn how Gaiman brings Norse gods to life through his inimitable fiction, where fantasy meets fairytale, fable, nightmare and happy endings in equal measure.

Other events to look out for include the Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival returns to Royal Festival Hall from 9th-19th February (speakers and storytellers include Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Michael Morpurgo, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, and Icelandic author Þórarinn Eldjárn), and Southbank Centre’s new year-long Belief and Beyond Belief festival, which examines belief, faith and spirituality as well as what it means to be human in the 21st century. So, plenty to inspire, intrigue and get your mind ticking!

To find out more and book, visit Southbank Centre’s website or call the box office on 020 7960 4200

Submit crime fiction to a Flash Bang contest

Pink water pistol cr Judy DarleyDid you know the phrase ‘flash in the pan’ originated with the priming of guns? I didn’t either before discovering the Flash Bang contest.

They’re seeking 150-word submissions of short crime fiction that packs a helluva punch, and emphasises the skill of flash fiction in utilising the skill of surprise and illumination in an artfully condensed package – one you may not wish to open without guidance from a bomb disposal squad.

Deadline for entries is midnight BST on 3rd March 2017.

Prizes of this writing contest

  • 1st prize is two weekend passes to CrimeFest 2018 (access to all interviews, panels and receptions, exc. accommodation, dinner, travel)
  • 2nd prize is one weekend pass to CrimeFest 2018
  • 3rd prize is a special CrimeFest delegate bag with books and other goodies

In addition to the above, all those on the shortlist will be invited to attend the Crime Writing Day on Friday 19 May 2017, when the winners will be announced.

Rules of this writing contest

Max 150 words. No minimum. Title not included in word count. One entry per person. £2 entry fee to cover admin, to be paid via PayPal. No entries from established crime authors, please. No other restrictions apply, but you’ll want to be able to attend CrimeFest in Bristol, UK, in May 2018 if you win.

Find full details of how to enter at

The longlist will be published 7 April 2015. Shortlist will be published here 21 April. Winners will be announced at CrimeFest15, 14-17 May 2015. Good luck!