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Poetry Competition Winners Announced!

September 18th, 2020

First, thanks to Sharon for last week’s post. It’s reassuring to realise that there are still slots out there for shorter pieces. You’re never going to be able to give up the day job writing for this market, but it can provide a lucrative side-line. And if you find yourself stalled – for whatever reason – on a longer piece, you can always turn to letters or a quick filler and hope your block will have cleared by the time you get back to it.

Now…quick drumroll… here are the winners of our 2020 Poetry Competition. In first place we have Alison Reed with Tango For Two; in second place Judith T Drazin with Tea, Toast and Temperance and in third place Roger Elkin with You Bring Me Bouches-du-Rhone. I’m not going to go into detail here as I’ve given my general views on this year’s entries in a previous post. But I can assure you that the three winners are brilliant – please go and read them on our Competitions Page. Keep checking there too because our latest Flash Fiction Competition will soon be open for entries. Read the rest of this entry »




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Poetry Pointers

August 17th, 2020

First, thanks to Antonio for his humorous post. But behind the humour there’s lots of serious and useful advice; so please think about it and take it to heart if you hope to improve your short fiction.

Next, I’m sorry that I didn’t get a post up last week. Working from home is great but when you get an IT glitch it causes real problems. Hopefully, normal service is now resumed!

The end of July saw the close of our 2020 Poetry Competition – thank you to everyone who entered. We’re currently working through the entries in order to put together our ‘longlist’. As usual, it’s hard work because we had so many great poems. As we’ve been going through them some made us laugh, some made us shed a tear and one or two made us gasp or groan. Read the rest of this entry »




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In Times Like These…

June 26th, 2020

First, thanks to Phil for last week’s post. Personally, I found it fascinating and I think he’s absolutely right when he says: “With memoir you need to dig deep and build your story on a foundation of truth and openness”. That is exactly what you have to do if those about whom you are writing as part of your own history are still alive. You don’t want to hurt people but you have to be true to yourself.

If this post has whetted your appetite for writing your own memoir, then we have just the course for you. It’s very flexible and allows you to have feedback on your personal writing rather than having to do set assignments. But if you are already working on a memoir, then you might want to consider submitting it to the same competition that Phil entered – the Fish Publishing Short Memoir Competition. It’s currently closed but should be opening for the next round shortly; so keep checking their website. Read the rest of this entry »




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The Novels That Shaped Our World

January 31st, 2020

The BBC has asked a selection of people to choose 100 English language novels that have had an impact on them. They say:

“Stories have the power to change us. We asked a panel of leading writers, curators and critics to choose 100 genre-busting novels that have had an impact on their lives, and this is the result. These English language novels, written over the last 300 years, range from children’s classics to popular page turners. Organised into themes, they reflect the ways books help shape and influence our thinking.”

You can see the list here. I find some of the choices rather odd, but reading preferences are a very personal thing and I’m sure no two people would agree completely. Last year, the Sunday Times printed a list (many of which I had already read) and I am still working my way through the stragglers. It’s been great as it’s introduced me to some wonderful writers that I might otherwise have overlooked. But there are still the odd one or two that I have downloaded to my library app and then deleted after only a few chapters. Read the rest of this entry »




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Poetry, Articles and Novels – Something for Everyone!

July 2nd, 2019

First, thanks to Amanda for last week’s post. I’ve never been a fan of ‘up-lit’ (I enjoy a bit of doom and gloom in my reading matter), but I recently read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and I’m a convert!

As you know, we’re currently running our annual Poetry Competition. Unfortunately, it’s only for adults, but the 2019 Betjeman Poetry Prize is open to young people aged 10 to 13. So, if you’re a teacher, or feel that your child’s class might be interested then please spread the word. It’s free to enter, but the prizes are great. This year’s theme is ‘place’ and entries can be any length and in any style. The winner will receive £500 and the English department at their school will get £5000. Two runners up will each get £200 and the top three poets all get four Eurostar tickets to Paris, Brussels or Lille. I know it’s nearing the end of term, but with prizes like that it’s definitely worth thinking about . The closing date is the same as ours – 31st July. Read the rest of this entry »




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