January 2018 Newsletter

The newsletter available at the January 2018 meeting can be downloaded here: JAN 2018 Newsletter


2018 Ware Poets Open Poetry Competition

Prizes: £600, £300, £150, and the Ware Sonnet Prize (£150).


Anthology for winners and commended poets
(£3.50, post free: pre-ordered).


Informal prizegiving at Ware Arts Centre, Friday 6 July 2018.


Fee: £4;  4 poems for £12, then £3 per poem (in the same submission).

Length:  up to 50 lines.

Deadline: 30 April 2018


Sole judge: John Greening

Entry form available at



or send SAE to : The Competition Secretary, Ware Poets Competition,

21 Trinity Road, Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 7DB

or email: warepoets_competition@hotmail.co.uk

2017 Christmas Lunch Poll

You’ve browsed the brochures (emailed to you earlier) and now is your chance to vote!

My Friend The Enemy – by Antony Putman

Congratulations to Antony Putman, whose story, My Friend The Enemy, made it to the final four in the recent NAWG competition. You can read his story in full here:

My Friend The Enemy

by Antony Putman © 


The river divided our countries.

It was fast flowing for the most part, except for one small area. That was where the island was. The water should be faster, but for some reason, it slowed. That was how, at nine years old, I was able to swim to the island. That was where I first met my ‘friend’.

I reached the shore, a hopefully waterproof bag on my back. It was foolhardy, but how else would I carry food and something to dry myself with?

‘Who are you?’ A voice said above me. Looking up, there stood a boy, not much older than me, and he did not seem to be wet. ‘You swam here?’ He asked. I nodded. He pointed behind him, ‘I used a boat.’

I reached into my bag. Thankfully, the rag I brought along seemed dry. It took about a minute to get my hair mostly dry. Draping the rag over a branch, I walked over to the boy, holding out a hand, ‘My name is Franz.’


What Makes a Writer?

What makes a Writer ?

by Chris Owen

Process: Drawing Breath

(to stop and look back as if from a high hill to evaluate your work

and decide the way forward)

I would like first to apologise for my non-attendance at last meeting due to circumstances beyond

my control (the spirit was willing but the flesh is weak)

I read something the other day that I would like to share with you all.

Apart from a generally held concept, writers, especially yours truly, can be prone to the following:

‘We cling to the past like a frayed security blanket, haunted by crushing failures rather than approaching each new day as a fresh opportunity to learn, grow and behave differently.’

A simple epithet that is one of those universal truths we choose to reject or ignore until the logic of it becomes overwhelmingly self-evident.

Writing, by definition is about moving forward, into the unknown, where anything can happen.


Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre Poetry Competition

This is an international competition to raise money for Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre http://covrefugee.org/ and Clever Fox Press http://www.cleverfoxpress.com/clever-fox-press which is a charitable publishing venture which seeks to support and raise awareness of child refugees across the world. The competition also seeks to celebrate creativity and building bridges between communities.

First prize is £300, publication on the Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre website and on Wasafiri’s website http://www.wasafiri.org/ and second prize is £50 and again publication on these two websites. There are also three runners-up prizes. The competition will be judged by Bidisha and Joe Horgan and the deadline is 14th November 2017. Entry is £5 per poem or £10 for 3 poems and poems can be submitted on any theme or topic. The link to the website is www.writeabridge.com and is part of the Coventry Peace Festival.

2017 Doris Gooderson Competition Third Place – Papa Bombo

Papa Bombo

by Mike Watson

Bamboo is not just a plant. It is a banner in the breeze. A whip in the wind. As supple as rope and wire strong. Bamboo is loose limbed with more fingers than hands can hold. It is a “hoo” and a “haa” with rhythm tapping roots and jazz filled leaves.

Bamboo is not just a plant. It is spears in the sunrise, sharp in the bright and tasselled in the breeze. And, when the big moon rises and silvers the ocean in the bay, bamboo is the hush and ghostly sway.

Bamboo is not just a plant. It is where Papa Bombo lives. Everyone knows that Papa Bombo has lived there forever. He was there before you were born, before the village was born and before the first footprint in the sand. Papa Bombo has always been there.


2017 Doris Gooderson Competition Second Place – Snakeskin


by Michael White

Beth closed the black-painted cottage door and hurried up the lane.  Perhaps a blow in the sunshine would help.  She had often walked up on the moor with Mike.  On a clear day you could see Newcastle, thirty miles to the South, and the peaks of the Lake District, fifty miles West.  Today the wind had combed high clouds into plumes and tendrils against a blue sky.  She climbed the ladder stile and went on up the path through sheep pastures.  When the path steepened through heather and bilberry bushes, she unfastened her jacket.

A steep scramble between huge red-brown boulders led to the top.  She sat on an overhanging rock to get her breath back, dangling her legs in space.  To South and West it was dark: rain before nightfall.  Beth zipped up her jacket and thrust her hands into the pockets.  A hand closed on a wad of paper: Mike’s letter.  The world contracted as she tugged it out, cold fingers hooked round the crumpled envelope.  She made to throw it away, but it remained in her palm.  She straightened it and pulled out the single sheet.  Mike typed everything: he could never bring himself to write neatly.  But even the typescript was illegible to Beth’s stinging eyes.  She crammed it back in the pocket and patted it flat.  It wasn’t as if she didn’t remember what it said; she’d read it enough times.  Tangled hair blew across her face.  The broken rocks thirty feet below were uninviting.  She’d better go back to the empty cottage.


2017 Doris Gooderson Competition First Place – My Grandmother, The Deep Sea Diver

My Grandmother, the Deep-Sea Diver

by Tracey Glasspool

Mrs Ki surfaces and breathes out sharply, a high whistling shriek. She holds an octopus aloft then swims for the boat.

“Your grandmother hated octopus,” she says as she hands it to me, “I’ll try for abalone.” A deep breath and she’s gone again.

I push the octopus into a sack; change my mind and drop it back into the sea. I also dislike the taste and the sack is already full of clams and sea-urchins. Besides, I’ve watched octopus in aquariums back home. I like them; their intelligence is obvious. Back home. My stomach contracts with guilt.


Secrets or Lies Themed Short Story competition

Successful short story writers Vanda Inman and Linda Lewis have teamed up to create Write Space, a place to hone your writing skills by entering their short story competitions. The latest competition information is as follows:

Theme, Secrets or Lies.
Prizes, £250, £100 plus runner up prizes.
Word count, up to 1,000.
Entry fee, £6 entry, £4 optional critique.
Closing date 30th November, 2017.
Please see their website, www. vnlwritespace.com for full details.
They also have a facebook page, Vanda ‘n’ Linda’s Write Space.

2017 The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction

Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire are proud to announce the first annual Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction. For any queries regarding this competition, please contact the organisers via their website at: http://commapress.co.uk/resources/prizes 

Dinesh Allirajah (1967-2014) once said of himself (referencing a Sonny Criss sleeve note): ‘I am a jazz writer, which is a full-time creative job’. Dinesh had many other occupations, too – lecturing in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Central Lancashire and Edge Hill, running workshops and literacy classes in community centres, schools and prisons, acting as Chair of the National Black Arts Alliance and the National Association for Literature Development, as well as being a long-term director of Comma Press. He was also a DJ, playwright, radio presenter, cricket enthusiast and blogger. Dinesh regularly performed to audiences across the UK, as well as in France, Poland, Germany, Bangladesh and Nigeria. His short stories were featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and first collected in A Manner of Speaking (Spike Books, 2004). Scent is the first comprehensive collection of his work, published by Comma Press following his sudden passing in December 2014.


Inevitable Explorations

Inevitable Explorations

(The great adventure continues)


Chris Owen

Arthur C Clarke once famously stated these two propositions clarify the ultimate destiny of the human race:

‘Only two possibilities exist:

Either we are alone in the universe or we are not.

Either way the prospects are terrifying.’

‘We stand now at the turning point between two eras. Behind us is a past to which we can never return. The coming of the rocket brought to an end a million years of isolation. The childhood of our race was over and history as we know it began.’

(Exploration of Space (1952)

Taking these two great epithets to heart, the task of the human race now (the now part meaning with gathering urgency) is to take on the mantle of explorers and to search for our destiny in the only place that would produce another planet should we need it – the universe. The cosmic wheel of destiny is turning as inevitably as the firmament and we must not be left behind in the dust. Even our cradle earth is still a dangerous place that could easily tip into chaos and become instead our tomb as a species.


2017 Robert Graves Prize

The Robert Graves Prize is launched this year as an exciting new collaboration between the Roehampton Poetry Centre and Wimbledon BookFest.It is named for one of the major figures of twentieth century poetry and encourages entries from all around the world. The Prize will be given for the best single poem submitted: multiple entries are encouraged but will be judged separately.

Judges: Fiona Sampson and literary agent, Peter Straus

Prizes: £200 for the winning entry and £100 for two runners up. All three winning entries will be published in POEM magazine.

Deadline: Wednesday 23rd August 2017

To qualify, entries must be original, written in English and unpublished at the time of submission. Each poem must be no longer than 40 lines and should be single-spaced.

Entry Fee: £5.

For more information, click here: https://www.roehampton.ac.uk/robert-graves-prize

Wrekin Writers – Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition 2017

Hello, can you help us? Wrekin Writers are desperate to receive short stories of up to 1200 words for the 2017 competition. It closes on 10th July so time is running out. At least half the proceeds are donated to the Severn Hospice so every entry will help. If you know anyone who may be tempted to enter please forward on this email to them and also please enter yourself. I have attached the competition rules and entry form. Submissions can be made digitally or by post. There is an open theme. Each entry costs £5 and the prize money for the top three stories will be: £200, £100 and £50 respectively. Winner are announced on the 2nd October.

I hope I’ve tempted you to help us.

Many thanks
Darren Bailey
Wrekin Writers


2017 VS Pritchett Short Story Prize

The Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for previously unpublished short stories is currently accepting entries. There is a prize of £1,000, and the winning entry will be published in Prospect Magazine online and in the RSL Review.

In addition to this, there will be an opportunity for the winner to appear at an RSL event with established short story writer in autumn 2017.

Entrants must be resident in the UK and stories should be 2,000 and 4,000 words in length. Submission fee is £5 per story. More information and entry details can be found here.

The closing date for entries is 14 June 2017.


  • Writers! Enter the £1000 @RSLiterature V.S. Pritchett Prize for unpublished short stories. Deadline 14 June. http://bit.ly/RSL_VSP17


  • Enter the £1000 @RSLiterature V.S. Pritchett Prize for unpublished short stories. 2000-4000 words. D/L 14 June. http://bit.ly/RSL_VSP17


  • Enter the @RSLiterature V.S. Pritchett Prize for short stories. D/L 14 June. Win £1k & pub in @prospect_uk online http://bit.ly/RSL_VSP17

2017 Norwich Writers’ Circle Short Story Competition

The Norwich Writers’ Circle 2017 Open Competition is now open for entries. This is the third year of their competition. This time the theme is ‘Strangers’ and they are offering cash prizes and publication in their next anthology. Full details on attached images and at their website


You will also find hints and tips from their adjudicator currently on the home page at norwichwriters.wordpress.com.
Closing date for entries is 31st July 2017.

Hatchette’s The Future Bookshelf

Hachette UK is officially launching its new creative writing resource, The Future Bookshelf – http://thefuturebookshelf.co.uk/ . It is a creative writing hub for aspiring writers which aims to demystify publishing and guide users of the website through the process of writing, editing, submitting and publishing.

The Future Bookshelf will also be hosting an Open Submissions period in December 2017. This will be for unpublished, unagented writers of novels and non-fiction, who feel that the industry doesn’t adequately represent people from their background or with their experiences. It is to run from Friday 1st to Friday 8th December 2017.

You can find them on Twitter @FutureBookshelf and use the hashtag #ChangingtheStory

Full press release attached here: The Future Bookshelf press release

2017 Birmingham Literature Festival

For its 20th year, Birmingham Literature Festival welcomes Jess Phillips MP, bestselling novelist Lionel Shriver, poet Inua Ellams, as well as pop-up events and workshops across the city from Friday 21 April – Sunday 23 April 2017.

The full programme can be downloaded here BLF Spring Festival Programme e vesrion for the first ever Spring Edition, to complement the annual October festival- great speakers and workshops plus more events for children, and fun activities including canoeing and cycling!

You can find out more via our website: https://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/


2016 Anthology Cover Vote

Yes, it’s back! It’s time to vote for your preferred front cover for the 2016 anthology front cover.

A range of images were identified and these three were selected as the better options for placing text against.

Please view the images below and then make your vote! (Voting closes at 23.59pm on Saturday 18th March 2017, or when I wake up on Sunday morning.)

Option 1. Entrance to Cynghordy retreat (by Diane Perry)


Option 2 – The Cynghordy Viaduct encased in scaffolding (by Simon Whaley)


Option 3 – Cynghordy Viaduct (by Mike White)


Vote closed Sunday morning (19th March). Result:

2017 – 5th Virginia Prize for Fiction

The 5th Virginia Prize for Fiction

Now open for submissions

Aurora Metro, the Twickenham-based arts organisation, is once again 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.

This biennial prize was launched in 2009 as a tribute to Virginia Woolf who published her first novel, The Voyage Out, whilst living in Richmond.  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.”


It’s a Business AND a Craft

Wthe-business-of-writing-vol-1-front-cover-lo-resriting. It takes skill, dedication, determination and lots of ideas to become a writer. It also takes a little business sense too. For getting published is all about meeting a market’s needs, whether that need is from a magazine editor looking to please readers and editors, or a publisher, looking to boost profits and keep the accountants happy. Writing, these days, is a business, even if something you do at the end of a long day at work, once the kids are in bed.

Some of these business aspects are dealt with in my new book, The Business of Writing, which is a collection of my articles, first published in Writing Magazine.


The Dragon and the Sword (Book 4 of The First Sword Chronicles)

The Dragon and the Sword

Christopher Smith has just published his fourth book in his The First Sword Chronicles, which is now available from Amazon here, priced £2.39 in Kindle format.

The synopsis is as follows:

Lonely and friendless, Irithelie has lived her whole life in the hall from which her exalted mother rules the armies and the peoples of the alvenkind. She yearns to show that she is more than a helpless child, and when she and her sisters are despatched across the dark between the worlds on a mission to return the alven people to their homeland it seems her chance may have finally arrived.


But Iri has a secret power, dangerous and unique, and when it is revealed the love and concern of those closest to her may swiftly turn to fear or even hatred.

Meanwhile, the ambitious Summer Phoenix makes her way to Eternal Pantheia just in time to foil an attempt on the life of Princess Romana. Eager for glory and recognition, Summer swiftly joins the new First Sword of the Empire, Michael Callistus, to investigate a series of disappearances on the Imperial frontier, disappearances that may be connected to the assassination attempt…and involve creatures not scene in Pelarius for thousands of years.

The World Serpent comes to claim all crowns, and the army of dragons will devour all worlds that stand before him.


18th Feb 2017 – near Bridgnorth – Ceridwen and the Cauldron of Transformation – A workshop to inspire writers

 *Ceridwen and the Cauldron of Transformation – A workshop to inspire

 *When: Saturday 18th February 2017*

 *Time: 10 am – 4 pm*

 *Where: Morville Village Hall*

In this workshop, run by writer Ruth Cameron, writers will explore the Welsh myth of* Ceridwen and the Cauldron of Transformation*.

Ceridwen, a great sorceress, intends to give her son the gift of wisdom. However, Gwion Bach, the young boy who is set to stir the cauldron accidently spills three drops onto his thumb and licks it off thus acquiring the gift. In fear he runs from Ceridwen and they both go through a series of transformations a she hunts him down, which ultimately results in Gwion transforming into the legendry bard and prophet Taliesin.


Oh Zoe! Picture Book Competition

Oh Zoe! – is a new children’s book publisher looking for titles ahead of our launch in autumn this year.

They’re running the Oh Zoe! Rising Talent Award to find new authors with unpublished work – there is a prize fund of £500 and a range of professional development courses.

The competition runs until the end of March and more details can be found on their website www.ohzoe.com