Enter the Bath Children’s Novel Award

Roman Baths by Judy DarleyThe Bath Children’s Novel Award invites submissions of books for children or teenagers from unpublished, self-published and independently published authors worldwide.

Previous winners include include Ruth Moore (2020) for The Enemy Inside, Matthew Fox (2019) for The Sky Over Rebecca, and Cassie Powney (2018) for Loops.

The 2022 Judge is Amber Caravéo. Co-founder of the Skylark Literary Agency and previously Editorial Director at Orion Children’s Books, Amber is looking for potential rather than perfection and new voices that offer something unique and brilliant either in terms of story or style.

Amber says: “Believe in yourself and take the plunge! You never know when someone will spot something special in your writing, and a competition is a good way to test the waters.
I can’t wait to see your stories, so please don’t be nervous. Agents and publishers
need authors and their books, so we are always excited to see new work and new
ideas – and we do love a good story!”

Deadline: 30th November 2022
Prize: £3,000
Submission: First 5,000 words plus a one-page synopsis

Entry fee: £29 per manuscript with sponsored places available for low income writers.

Entries should not include any photographs, maps or artwork.

Full manuscripts may be of any length, but they recommend 500 – 600 words per picture book, 6-10,000 for a chapter book, 40-60,000 for middle grade and 50-70,000 words for YA (or longer for fantasy novels).

Unrepresented shortlisted writers will be offered the opportunity to be introduced to an individually tailored list of literary agents by email or other means.

The writer of the most promising longlisted novel, as chosen by the Bath Novel Awards and Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, will receive a free place on Cornerstones’ 18 week online course Edit Your Novel the Professional Way (worth £1,800).

Bath Children’s Novel Award 2022 entrants can claim a 10% discount on all editorial reports from prize sponsors Cornerstones Literary Consultancy until the winner’s announcement in Feburary 2023

Find full details and enter here: https://bathnovelaward.co.uk/childrens-novel-award/ 

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

Win a publishing agency consultation via Writers & Artists

Notebook and pen cr Judy Darley

Are you a writer hungry for guidance and encouragement? The folks at Writers & Artists are collaborating with creative publishing agency whitefox for a competition that’s all about getting you the face-to-face time you need with an editor.

If you would benefit from a creative conversation with an expert editor to help make sense of your manuscript, this is the competition for you.

The winner will receive an editorial report and consultation with a member of the editorial team at whitefox, to help you take the next steps with your book, as well as a free place at one of Writers & Artists‘ writing events and a bundle of creative writing guides.

This prize is open to any UK or ROI-based writer aged 18 or over and writing fiction and/or non-fiction.

Deadline

The deadline for entries is Monday 14th November at 9am.

How to enter 

Please submit no more than 1000 words from your unpublished work-in-progress. This should be from the opening of your manuscript, attached to the online submissions form in a doc or pdf format. You also need to include a synopsis providing an overview of your work as well as a short note (200 words) about yourself and your writing influences.

You’re also required to subscribe to whitefox‘s newsletter The Frontlist.

The winner and shortlisted runners-up will be announced on Writersandartists.co.uk in early December 2022.

Eligibility

To enter this competition, you must:

  • Not have a publishing contract or agent
  • Submit an original piece of unpublished writing

Prizes

The winner will receive:

  • An editorial report from an editor at whitefox Publishing
  • A one-off follow-up consultation with a member of the editorial team at whitefox Publishing
  • A place at a W&A writing masterclass
  • A writing guide bundle including the latest edition of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ YearbookWriters’ & Artists’ Guide To Getting Published or Writers’ & Artists’ Guide To How To Hook an Agent

Three other shortlisted entries will also receive a book bundle and a free place at one of our writing and publishing events.

Submit your entry via the online form here.

Good luck!

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

Enter Mslexia Fiction Competitions 2022

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyThe Mslexia Fiction Competitions are open for entries.

There are three categories this year: Novel for Children/YA, Short Story, and Flash Fiction. The deadline for each is 19th September 2022.

Prizes include manuscript feedback and agent introductions, plus publication.

Mslexia Novel for Children or YA competition – everything you need to know

  • Judged by Cressida Cowell, Chloe Seager and Imogen Russell Williams, this competition is open to unpublished novels of at least 20,000 words in any genre for children and/or young adults.
  • Submit first 5,000 words only in the first instance. Longlisted entrants will be asked to submit finished manuscripts later in the judging process
  • Entry fee: £26
  • 1st prize £5,000.
  • The winner and three finalists will also receive manuscript feedback from leading editorial and mentoring agency The Literary Consultancy,

Plus

  • Pitch training at a day-long professional workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne, where participants will learn to summarise and present their book in an effective way.Plus
  • Personal introductions to agents and editors at a Talent Party in central London. Both the workshop and Talent Party are arranged in partnership with New Writing North. 
  • Mslexia will contribute a total of £100 towards each finalists’ travel expenses.

Mslexia Short Story competition 2022 – everything you need to know

  • Judged by Diana Evans, this competition is for unpublished complete short fiction of up to 3,000 words in any genre and on any theme.
  • The entry fee is £12.
  • 1st prize £3,000.
  • Three additional finalists will each receive £100
  • The winning entry and three finalists will be published in the December 2022 edition of Mslexia.
  • The winning entry, three finalists and eight further shortlisted stories will be published   in Mslexia’s ebook anthology, Best Women’s Short Fiction 2022, due out in December 2022.

Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition 2022 – everything you need to know

  • Judged by Audrey Niven, this competition is for unpublished complete short fiction of up to 300 words in any genre and on any theme
  • Entry fee: £6
  • 1st prize £500
  • Three additional finalists each receive £50
  • All four winning entries are published in the December 2022 issue of Mslexia
  • Winning entries plus eight more shortlisted entries will be published in Mslexia’s inaugural ebook anthology Best Women’s Short Fiction 2022.

Visit Mslexia’s entry instructions for a more comprehensive guide on how to enter, and be sure to read the full rules before submitting.

Find full details at www.mslexia.co.uk. Good luck!

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

Curtis Brown Creative courses for aspiring writers

Notebook and pen cr Judy DarleyAs the new year gets underway, why not rev up your writing skills? Curtis Brown Creative, the creative-writing school run by Curtis Brown Literary Agency, is inviting applications for an array of writing courses, including plenty of online options.

Whether you want to dig into specific genres such as historical, psychological or YA and children’s fiction, or want to untangle the knots of editing and pitching your novel, there are opportunities to gain insights and hands-on help from successful authors and experienced editors. The creative writing school was launched in 2011 and remains the only one run by a literary agency.

Upcoming courses include a one-day ‘Edit Your Novel’ course with the Rewrite Doctor aka Anna Davis from 15th February, and an intensive online five-day short story writing course with award-winning short story-writer Cynan Jones, starting on 21st February.

“I’m proud to say that over the past few years, many of our alumni have gained deals with major publishers,” says Curtis Brown Director Anna Davis. “Some of our former students have written international bestsellers, others have won prizes and several more have gained representation with literary agents and are working to edit their novels for publication. Yet more are still working away, often with the support of their former Curtis Brown Creative cohort. It’s great to see how many of our alumni stay closely in touch with their student groups long after their courses end.”

Find full details of upcoming courses here.

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

Enter the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize 2021

Bud. Photo by Judy DarleyThe Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize 2022 invites entries from women over the age of 18 who have written a novel “that marries literary merit with unputdownability.”

Deadline for low-income writers’ submissions: 12 noon on Wednesday 9th February 2022.
Deadline for paid submissions: 12 noon on Friday 11th February 2022. 

The judges say they’re equally open to literary fiction and genre fiction, as well as to young adult fiction and children, providing they are primarily word-based.

Your submission must be previously unpublished, and you must not have had other full-length novels published. However, having short stories, poetry, non-fiction or picture books published previously does not exclude you.

To be considered, you need to submit the first 40 to 50 pages of the novel via the online form and a three to five-page synopsis of the remainder. Authors must not have agent representation at the time of submission.

The entry fee is £12. Sponsored entries for low income writers are available – simply tick the appropriate box on the entry form. You will need to be able to provide proof of financial eligibility such as: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Disability Benefit; Income Support; Working Tax Credit; proof of being a full-time student; Housing Benefit; proof of being a full-time carer.

All shortlisted entrants will be offered a one-to-one consultation, editorial feedback and advice on the marketability of their work from PFD literary agency.

In addition, the 2022 winner will receive a cash prize of £1,500.

Shortlisted applicants will also be invited to the prize-giving ceremony where they will have the chance to meet and mingle with industry specialists.

Jackie Ashley is chair of the judging panel.

For full details, visit www.fictionprize.co.uk, and make sure you follow the competition Terms and Conditions.

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

Mslexia’s 2019 Fiction Awards

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyThis year, Mslexia Fiction Awards include their Short StoryAdult Novel and Flash Fiction competitions. The deadline for each is 30th September 2019.

Entry fees are £10 per short story, £25 per novel extract and £5 per flash fiction entry.

The winner of the Short Story competition will receive £3,000, plus the optional extras of a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, and mentoring by an editor at Virago Press.

Three other finalists will each receive £100. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia.

Shortlisted entries will be judged by award-winning short story author, novelist and performer Irenosen Okojie.

The winner of the Adult Novel competition will receive £5,000 and the option of representatlon by agent Charlotte Robertson. Judges are novelist Louise Doughty, Nicola Holloway from BBC Radio 4, and Literary agent Charlotte Robertson.

The winner and four finalists will receive manuscript feedback and introductions to agents and editors at a special event held in London.

The first prize in the Flash Fiction competition is £500. The winner will be picked by Katy Fish.

Three other flash fiction finalists will each receive £50. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia.

Find full details at www.mslexia.co.uk. Good luck!

Young adult fiction

Fallen apples cr Virginia BerginAuthor Virginia Bergin writes exquisite young adult fiction loaded with social context and thought-provoking conundrums. In an exclusive interview she explains how she created her latest novel Who Rules The World?, its protagonist River, and her life set 60 years from today.

How did you go about creating River’s world?

In Who Runs the World? almost everyone with at least one Y chromosome has been wiped out by a virus, 60 years before the story – told to you by River, a teenager –  begins.

But what would a world run by women look like?!

I felt under enormous pressure to ‘get it right’. It surely couldn’t be worse than the world we live in now – even if only because people had had the chance to start again! – but if it was significantly better, perhaps even a utopia . . . what would I be saying? That women are BETTER than men? I’ve lived all my life under ‘the patriarchy’, a world in which we’re given the message that men are ‘better’ than women. That’s not true or right – in any way, shape or form – and I had no wish to turn that lie on its head and repeat it.

And there were deeper problems: whatever kind of world I created, I realised I would be in danger of implying that women and men are somehow fundamentally cognitively different when, as far as I know, all current brain research pretty much indicates otherwise – or points at sex differences so minimal as to be irrelevant. And in any case, what would women and girls be like in a future in which our current ideas about gender – as expressed through, for example, family, society and media – have ceased to exist?

Ultimately, all these tricky issues set me free. I couldn’t ‘get it right’, so I didn’t have to! Rejecting any homogenous, universal idea of female, River’s world – which is only one tiny part of this future world – is a mish-mash. It’s a mish-mash of ideas I am interested in, and of conventions and practices that could conceivably have emerged from the global tragedy. That felt very important; whatever you think about this world run by women, there should be nothing in it that doesn’t make sense. It is a world that has arisen out of our world, in which people are still experimenting with new ways of living.

Forest path cr Virginia Bergin

Why was it important to you, and to the story, to create as genderless an environment as possible?

In many ways, there wasn’t much choice about it! As I saw it, with only women left in the wider world, current gender concepts would rapidly dissolve; binary notions of gender died along with most of the men. There is huge diversity in how women live, love (and look), but, most importantly, words like ‘woman’ and ‘girl’ have no real meaning for River beyond ‘person’ or ‘young person’ – until Mason, the boy in the story shows up. He has some shockingly sexist ideas about women (and men).

At times, it was almost impossible to write. It was so difficult to see through River’s eyes, to think through her mind. I had to imagine what a girl who had been raised without our ideas about what it means to be a girl would be like – and, crucially, what decisions she would make when confronted by Mason. Her upbringing enables her to think and act in the way that she does (though it’s still a struggle); the apparent absence of gender in her world is crucial to the plot, which centres, ultimately, on a question of justice.

I noticed that River had a really strong idea about what words relating to Man and Men meant – why do you think it was impossible to make her world entirely genderless?

I don’t think she has a really strong idea – at least not consciously – until Mason’s arrival. Up until that point, how the world was has been ancient history to her, and of very limited interest, but his behaviour is so strange, alarming and threatening to her, all the negative comments and ideas she has ever half-heard about Man and Men come flooding back. This was a deliberate choice in the story; I wanted River to live in a world where memories and experience of Man and Men linger on – and so are passed on to the generations that follow. This was what I wanted to explore: an apparently genderless world in which a gendered world still exists – in education, in culture, and most of all in human memory.

How did you go about testing this when she encountered her first boy?

River knows men and boys still exist, but she would never in her life expect to come across one! The males who escaped the virus were placed in remote Sanctuaries – the nearest one is hundreds of miles from River’s village – and to leave a Sanctuary means certain, rapid death. When she finds Mason in the woods, her astonishment is total. I imagined the thoughts that would go through her mind – ‘This cannot be. It simply cannot be’ – and how she would come to think the unthinkable. In the end, it’s not Mason’s physical appearance that leads her to conclude he is a boy, but his behaviour, and the things he says. There is a terrible match between what she has heard about Man and Men and how Mason behaves and speaks.

Forest cr Virginia Bergin

Why sixty years, specifically, in the future?

I suppose I could have set the story hundreds of years in the future, but I was more interested in what a girl who is almost – but not completely – free from our ‘now’ would do. River has never seen a man or boy before in her life, and nor has her mother (a politician; a respected and trusted Representative of the people) – but River’s Granmumma, Kate, has; she was just a teenager herself when the men and boys died. Kate’s memories, and those of the other Granmummas, play a huge role in the story . . . but her life experiences were (obviously) very different to River’s. I set it up this way to bring the generations into conflict, and to allow some of our current thinking about gender to be questioned from a very different perspective: River’s. She is the future.

What kind of fun did you have with the granmummas in the book, who are today’s teens?

The best fun!

If you’re a teen and you read this story and you identify with Kate: hurray! She’s you – she’s your feistiest, most apocalypse-surviving you – 60 years from now. In fact, most readers of all ages seem to love the Granmummas – and I do too. They’re great survivors, very resourceful people who have lived through an immense tragedy… and yet they really know how to grab joy(And also how to use a mobile phone).

I enjoyed the ecological issues you raised in the story. What made you decide to include this thread?

Hmmm . . . I suppose there was a link in my mind between the patriarchy and capitalism – the source of so much of our environmentally damaging behaviour. In River’s world, ‘The Earth comes first’ (Global Agreement No.1), but the damage has already been done: the climate is unpredictable, creating difficulties for humans and the rest of nature. I was drawn to the idea that the environment would take even longer to ‘forget’ the past than humans. It takes a long time to change and to heal.

Daisies cr Virginia Bergin

What do you hope your YA readers will take away from this book?

A sense of freedom!

Who Runs the World? is an invitation to imagine what a world beyond gender might look like. I’d love it so much if readers did that.

Why is YA fiction such a good arena for this kind of political ‘big questions’ novel?

I think YA fiction can be more honest and direct than non-YA lit. More open. And I think that’s because of the readers. We come up against all sorts of ‘big questions’ – and probably for the first time – when we’re teens, so it feels as though there’s a real hunger for those issues to be explored in literature.

And, for those of us who are no longer teens . . . we were all 15 once. I think, sometimes, it can be helpful to remember what it was like when so much of the world was new to us – and, in the case of Who Runs the World?, it’s precisely River’s being part of the younger generation that enables her to see the world in a new way . . . and I think that might be what we all need right now, isn’t it?

To see the world in a new way…

Virginia BerginAbout the author

Virginia Bergin’s debut YA novel The Rain (titled H2O in the US) was published by Macmillan Children’s Books in July 2014, and was followed by a sequel, The Storm, just seven months later in February 2015. Who Runs The World? came out in June 2017. Her agent is Louise Lamont at LBA Books. Virginia has a background in psychology and enjoys like science, archaeology, nature, art and walking. Find out more at www.virginiabergin.com

All images in this guest post have been supplied by Virginia Bergin.

Virginia will be on the panel of Stories of Strong Women, taking place at the Spielman Centre, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Road, BS4 3EW on Friday 20th Oct, 1pm-3pm, as part of Bristol Festival of Literature.

Read my review of Who Rules The World?

Got some writing insights to share? I’m always happy to receive feature pitches on writing genres and writing tools. Send an email to JudyDarley(at)iCloud.com.

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 aurorametro.com/the-virginia-prize-for-fiction.

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

Kristell Ink invites novel submissions

Sky light cr Judy DarleyWritten something peculiar, beautiful, and exciting? Kristell Ink are seeking completed novel-length works that offer a fresh alternative to the tried-and-tested.

Your manuscript should be in the genre of Science Fiction, Fantasy or a blend of the two, and can comprise any sub genres that fire your rocket, from high to paranormal, epic to quest, romance to steampunk, comedic… well, you get the picture.

Kristell Ink is open for novel submissions until 30th April 2016.

The editors are particularly keen to see:

  • Urban Fantasy – make it original, please. No Dresden Files clones. Strong characters, rich stories, and twists and turns galore!
  • Science Fiction – all forms, but a good space opera makes the editors feel warm and fuzzy…
  • Epic Fantasy – hero(ine) focused quest novels, providing they avoid tedious cliches.

If you have work that you feel may fit these very open and wide criteria, submit a covering letter with a 2-3 paragraph synopsis of your work and a little about yourself.

Additionally, ensure the work has been checked for typos and grammar mistakes. “The odd misplaced comma won’t put us off! But do try and ensure the work is the very best you can make it before submitting.”

Find full details and a link to the Kristell Ink submissions manager at kristell-ink.com/submissions/

How to harness your demons

Hamlet of Sachs Harbour, NWT, April 1992This week’s guest post comes from Joan Mettauer, author of Diamonds in an Arctic Sky, and explores how you can tackle life’s most brutal challenges by using them in your fiction.

The course of your life can change in an instant. I know it can, because mine did.

When I was young, I took too many things for granted – like life itself. Happily married, with two wonderful young sons, my world was suddenly turned upside down one sunny August afternoon when my eldest son died in an accident. He was just three weeks away from his third birthday. I became a bereaved mother at age 32, and a divorced, single parent at age 33. Unfair? You bet.

Having lived in various northern communities in Canada, I soon leapt at the opportunity to move to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, which lies high above Canada’s Arctic Circle in the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun.’ We all know, or have heard, that people deal with their grief in different ways; some eventually become addicted to prescription drugs, alcohol, illegal drugs, or even sex. I was on the downward, slippery slope to becoming an alcoholic when I finally woke up one day and said, ‘That’s enough.’

The Hamlet of Grise Fiord, the place that never thaws, on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, 1976

The Hamlet of Grise Fiord, the place that never thaws. This is one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, 1160km north of the Arctic Circle. Visited on a supply trip, 1976.

The Compassionate Friends, a grief-support organisation for bereaved parents, encouraged me to keep a diary, and to write about my grief. I couldn’t do it though, as my feelings were just too raw at the time. Their suggestion was never far from my mind, though, and 25 years later I finally found the courage to put into words my most private thoughts and feelings. My first novel, Diamonds in an Arctic Sky, is the result of my determination to face grief head-on.

Write what you know

Diamonds in an Arctic Sky-JoanMettauer-CoverWhen I retired and decided to start writing full-time, it was quite natural for me to write about the things I knew best – living in the north, and surviving the death of a child. My books’ heroine is Andi Nowak, and her life mirrors my own. Through Andi’s eyes and emotions I was able to pour out my own story, without having to think twice about how Andi was feeling. I knew exactly how she was feeling at all times. The serenity and beauty of the north play a large role in healing Andi’s ravaged emotions, and helping her come to terms with her grief. I feel that having something, or someone, important in one’s life is an essential element in restoring peace and equilibrium.

Add some dazzle

While plotting out the storyline for Diamonds in an Arctic Sky, it quickly became apparent that I would have to add something ‘extra’ to make the story more intriguing and readable. Alas, my life, interesting as it was to me, needed some perking up! I thought it would be great to add mystery and suspense to the story, and at the same time tell my readers another little-known fact about Canada’s north – we have a flourishing diamond mining industry. So I created a fictitious diamond mine near Inuvik (the real mines are all closer to Yellowknife, near Great Slave Lake).

I have read quite a few ‘how to’ books for writers, and also realise that to make my characters more believable, they must have struggles, internal battles and low points in their lives. Andi’s battle with alcoholism seemed like a natural and believable fit into the story, and gave her another personal challenge to overcome.

In my case, turning the events of my life into a work of fiction proved to be remarkably easy. The basic theme of the story echoes my life in Inuvik. The wonderful people I met in Inuvik made a huge impact on my life, so it seemed natural that most of the characters in my book, with the exception of North, Andi’s friend and eventual lover, are based on people I knew or worked with. Fictitiously, of course!

Joan MettauerAbout the author

Joan Mettauer was born and raised in Alberta’s heartland in Canada. Her love affair with aviation was sparked at an early age, and she dedicated most of her working years to the flying business. Living in various Northern communities, including Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, she travelled throughout Canada’s Arctic. Her final years in the aviation industry were spent in Inuvik, N.W.T., from where she bid farewell to the North. Now retired, she resides on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with her husband. Diamonds in an Arctic Sky is Joan’s first novel.