Become a food critic

Osteria-del-Savio-casoncelli-pic by-Judy-Darley

Love food and love writing about it? You might be ripe for a writing competition with a difference. The Sunday Times has launched the AA Gill Award, a new award for unpublished writers on food in honour of AA Gill, the legendary restaurant reviewer (I’ll not forget him likening the flavour of mushrooms to the odour of sheets after sex), who died in 2016.

The aim of the award, launched in association with the Society of Editors, is to offer a launch pad to previously unknown writers aged over 21 and based in the UK.

All entries must take the form of a review. Amateur critics who have published their own unpaid work on websites are welcome, but not employed food writers.

The deadline for submissions is 17 April 2019.

Entries must be between 1,000 and 1,200 words, the length of Gill’s restaurant reviews. The winner will receive a prize of £5,000 and the winning review will be published in The Dish, the food section of The Sunday Times Magazine. Two runners-up will receive a prize of £500 and £250 respectively and will be invited to the awards ceremony in June 2019.

Entrants are welcome to submit a short supporting statement about themselves of no more than 150 words, but judges will focus solely on the submitted article. The judges’ decisions will be final. Only the winners and runners-up will be contacted. By submitting an article, you’re expressing your permission for The Sunday Times and the Society of Editors to publish your entry in print and on their websites at no fee.

Entries must be sent to aagill.award@sunday-times.co.uk. Include your name, date of birth and postal address. as well as a contact telephone number and email address.

Good luck!

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.

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 31st March 2019.

There are two categories:

Silver Wyvern (max 42 lines), which will be judged by singer, songwriter and broadcaster Paul Henry, and can be on any theme and in any form.
Formal (max 40 lines) is for traditional poetic forms only, such as sonnet, sestina, or villanelle, but can be on any topic.

Prizes range from €100 to €500.

I love how much more inclusive the world of writing competitions is becoming, with optional fees to allow lower-income talents to enter! In this case, all fees are classed as donations to the competition costs, organisation and events of Poetry on the Lake, so while there’s a suggested amount, they add: “If you genuinely can’t afford the fee, send one poem for nothing. Those who can, please donate generously.”

Find full details at www.poetryonthelake.org.

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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Mslexia’s 2018 Women’s Fiction Awards

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyThis year marks the launch of the Mslexia Women’s Fiction Awards, a quartet of writing competitions covering a short stories, children’s novels, their second-ever flash fiction competition and the all-new Mslexia Novella competition in association with Galley Beggar Press. The deadline is 1st October 2018.

Entry fees are £10 per short story, £25 per novel extract, £5 per flash fiction and £15 per novella extract.

Top prizes are £500 for the winning flash fiction, £1,000 for the winning novella and £5,000 apiece for the winning novel and short story.

‘Optional extras’ include optional extras a week’s writing retreat at Gladstone Library, introductions to agents and editors, and publication in Mslexia.

Find full details at www.mslexia.co.uk. It’s worth dropping by Mslexia’s winners gallery for some inspiration too. Good luck!

A paradoxical writing competition

Barbed sky cr Judy DarleyParagram have launched their 2016 writing competition – the Paragram ‘Paradox’ Prize.

They say: “The theme is Paradox, inherently ludicrous, wry or hard to believe, we felt this was the perfect chance to search for poems and petite-prose designed to make the reader laugh. Of course paradox can equally be sad, joyous or droll – the choice is yours.”

With categories in humour, poetry and petite-prose, there’s plenty to fire up your imagination, not to mention the motivation of cash prizes and publication opportunities.

There will be a cash prize of £50 in each of the three genres with the winning and short-listed work from each category to be included in the Paragram anthology ‘Paradox’ which will be published in time for Christmas 2016.

The fee for first entry is £6, with subsequent entries costing £4.

Find the full competition details, plus a link to the rules, here para-gram.com/2016/03/20/the-paragram-paradox-prize-2016/

The closing date for entries is 31st July 2016.

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.

Win your story as a festive podcast

Story horse cr Judy DarleyWhat could be more magical than hearing your own short story aired as a podcast this Christmas Eve?

The Simple Things and Story Horse are collaborating to make this happen for one lucky reader. To enter their competition, all you need to do is email your most heart-warming, original and beautifully written tale, of 700 words or fewer, to thesimplethings@icebergpress.co.uk.

The closing date is 14 December 2014, so get your skates on!

The winning entry, as judged by Story Horse and The Simple Things’ editor and books editor, will be narrated as a podcast, to be released on Christmas Eve. The winner will also receive £150 to spend at Story Horse, where you’ll find covetable woolens, wellies, jewellery and more.

And in case you were wondering, the phrase Story Horse is a friendly Irish greeting, used particularly in the north of Dublin, where a cry of “What’s the story, horse?” basically means: “how are you doing?”

Find more details about the competition and the brand here.

Ariadne’s Thread poetry competition

Maze cr Judy DarleyAriadne’s Thread literary magazine are inviting entries for their poetry competition, with a closing date of midnight on Friday 31 October 2014 (GMT).

Your entry may be on any subject and in any style or form. You can submit up to five poems per entry but are allowed to submit any number of separate entries.

Each poem must be no more than 120 lines long, but can be as short as you like, and the title is not included in the word count. Lines between text and stanzas are not counted either.

The top prize is a hefty £600 – up from £300 in 2013!

The fee is £4 per entry (just £3 for subscribers).

Find full details of this writing competition here.

In case you were wondering, in Greek mythology Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos, and her thread helped Theseus to find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Just saying…

Enter Richard and Judy’s novel-writing competition

Tal y Bont cairn cr Judy DarleyYou must, I’m sure, be aware of the Richard & Judy Book Group, which has transformed the fortunes of any published writer who’s novel is chosen as a favourite.

Now the influential pair have their sights set on unpublished novelists, with their Search for a Bestseller Competition.

The closing date for entries is 1st January 2015, but if you already have the first 10,000 words written, I recommend you enter. All you need to do is submit the first 10,000 to 12,000 words of your novel, along with an outline of the rest of the novel (not more than 1,000 words), and up to 500 words about yourself.

The prize is pretty spectacular. In collaboration with Quercus (Stieg Larsson’s publishers), WHSmith, and leading literary agency Furniss Lawton, Richard and Judy will present the winning writer with a £50,000 publishing deal.

Not a bad start to any writers’ career!

There are masses of terms and conditions, so make sure you read them before you submit your work, but the key ones are that you must not have had a novel published previously, or have an agent already.

Find full details and submit your work here. Good luck!

Tal y Bont cr Judy Darley

Enter a DNA-themed Flash Fiction Competition

DNA cr Judy DarleyDNA – what does it mean to you? It’s the reason why some of us have curly hair and other have none, and helps some of us run faster than others. It contributes to our personalities, our strengths and weaknesses and how our lives will pan out. That’s a lot of power for a squirling double helix, and it’s now 60 years since Francis Crick and James Watson made the discovery that changed our understanding of ourselves forever.

To mark this anniversary, Creative Industries Trafford and Manchester Literature Festival are collaborating to host a Flash Fiction Competition to coincide with the festival that runs from 7-20 October 2013.

You’re invited to create a piece of flash fiction inspired by the theme of DNA. They say: “We are interested in all genres of fiction and themes of creation, mutation, evolution and transformation.”

Stories should be no longer than 500 words and you may enter more than once. Entry is free.

Email submissions to literature@creativeindustriestrafford.org by 5pm on Monday 16th September 2013.

Looking for inspiration? Read The DNA of Bats, a specially commissioned short story by author Jane Rogers.

Find out more about writing flash fiction.

Full competition details can be found here.

The winning entries will be featured online during Manchester Literature Festival 2013 and short-listed authors will be invited to read their stories at a special event on Saturday 12th October at Waterside Arts Centre. The overall winner will receive £50-worth of book vouchers.

Submit writing to the Spread the Word Writing Prize

Trafalgar Sq protest cr Judy DarleySpread the Word is an agency seeking out and developing writing talent in London. They’re currently inviting entries of short fiction of up to 8,000 words on the theme ‘Ritual’.

Aim to ensure your words “move, excite, enthrall and inspire” judges Bidisha, Tania Hershman and Courttia Newland and Spread the Word director Sue Lawther.

It’s free to enter, and offers a grand £1,000 prize.

Find full details at www.spreadtheword.org.uk/resources/view/the-spread-the-word-writing-prize-2013

The closing date is 15th July 2013.

Why use existing words when you can create your own?

Tulip cr Judy DarleyMaking up words has always been an irresistible temptation for prolific writers – Lewis Carroll was a master of the craft, and Shakespeare wasn’t too shabby either.

Encouraging you to give into to your word-spawning urges, English PEN and Arvon have teamed up to give you a chance to win a place on an Arvon creative writing week (including travel) with the Making Up Words competition.

All you need to do is write a poem of up to 14 lines or a piece of flash fiction of up to 100 words, with a title that is a made-up word.

Femi Martin, writer and performer

Made-Up Words is part of europolyglot, an English PEN festival of events, workshops, night classes and roundtables that celebrates multilingualism and active ageing in the UK, in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom.

Submit your entry in the body of an email to competition@englishpen.org by midnight on Friday 29 March 2013. The competition will be judged by writer and performer Femi Martin (pictured left), who has some inspiration to offer here.

For more information and full terms and conditions please visit the competition page on English Pen’s website here.