Issue #106

Free Writers' Newsletter

Jan 29, 2012  



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Poetry competition winners and new magazine

This month, has announced the winner, runners-up, and special commendations of its Tenth International Poetry Competition, as well as releasing Issue 20 of firstwriter.magazine, Hieroglyphs

Shelley Griffiths, from Sidmouth, Devon, was announced as the winner of the competition for her poem "Estuary Mud", and wins £500 (around $750). 

Shelley Griffiths was born in Portsmouth, UK in 1969, but was soon moved to the Cotswolds where she spent the formative years of her childhood with her two siblings and a dog called Buffy. At the age of eight, she moved to London where she stayed until she graduated with an English and Drama degree from Kingston University in her early twenties. After teaching for a few years, Shelley turned her hand to painting, and achieved global success with her abstract impressionism, painting under the name LAURIE MAITLAND. Royalties from print sales enabled Shelley to return to her first love – that of writing, and to study for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Exeter University, Devon. 

Shelley still lives in Devon, where she continues to paint, alongside writing poetry, screenplays and novels – the first of which, Hailstones in May by Laurie Maitland, is now available on Amazon. The second novel, The Ganesha Keystone, will publish on Amazon in March 2012. 

Shelley hopes to earn just enough from her writing and painting to move to a house with a bigger garden so that she can have chickens which she plans to name Betty, Marjorie, Ethel and Mabel. 

Jessica Prather, of Hilliard, Ohio, wins $150 for submitting the best entry from the United States with her poem "Mortar", and Alice Stride of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, wins £100 for entering the best runner-up poem from the United Kingdom, "Walnuts and Apples". The winning poems can be read online at

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  All the winners will also be published in a future issue of firstwriter.magazine, and receive vouchers worth £24 / $36 – as will the ten Special Commendations:

  • Pauline Asper, United Kingdom, "Maturity";
  • Christine Bond, United Kingdom, "Shamus Heaney. Queens University 1968s Heaney: Queens University 1968";
  • Richard Tyley, United Kingdom, "Home Sweet Home";
  • Joris Heise, United States, "Ashlie, the Student in Special Education";
  • Harvey Rothenstein, United States, "Our Example";
  • Kathleen Strafford, United Kingdom, "Under the Card Table";
  • Sarah Hosking, United Kingdom, "Armistice, November 11th";
  • Kate Brown, Australia, "102 degrees";
  • Ginna Wilkerson, United States, "Laws of Travel";
  • Tom Brown, United Kingdom, "Birds".

firstwriter.magazine Issue 20: Hieroglyphs
The latest issue of firstwriter.magazine has also just been released, featuring quality fiction and poetry submitted from around the world, plus your first chance to see not just the winning story from our Seventh International Short Story Contest, but also all ten Special Commendations. To view the magazine click here. To enter your work in our Eighth International Short Story Contest click here.

If you submitted work for issue 20 you can check to see if your work has been included by viewing the magazine online (click here). If your work has not been included then, unfortunately, on this occasion your submission has not been successful. We'd love to see more of your work, though, and are now accepting submissions for issue 22 of the magazine. We accept poems up to 30 lines and short stories up to 3,000 words. You can submit your work for consideration online at 


Click here for great value writing classes!


The Bridport Prize 2012 website is now open for entries 

The Bridport Prize is the richest open writing competition in the English language, with £5,000 first prize for a short story (of up to 5,000 words); and £5,000 first prize for a poem (of up to 42 lines). The category of Flash Fiction attracts £1,000 to be won for the best short, short story of under 250 words. 

The Bridport is also known as a tremendous literary stepping-stone – the first step in the careers of writers such as: Kate Atkinson, Tobias Hill, Carol Ann Duffy and Helen Dunmore. 

Anyone can enter – so long as the work is previously unpublished. It costs £8 per story, £7 per poem or £6 per flash fiction and the NEW closing date is May 31, 2012.

Each year the prize is judged by well known writers – this year we are delighted to announce that Gwyneth Lewis will be judging the poetry, and Patrick Gale, the short stories and flash fiction.

The 2011 anthology of winning entries is available for just £12 or £15 overseas (including postage and packing). The 2010 and 2009 anthologies are available in limited numbers for £7 and £5 (£10 and £8 overseas).

To enter you can:

For details of over 150 writing contests, click here



Short stories required for new greeting card concept

The Circle of Joy is a new concept in greeting cards, with each card pairing a commissioned illustration on the front with a related short story on the back. The range of "storycards" will be launched in mid-2012, with the initial forty cards focusing on everything from the "Joy of Weddings" to the "Joy of Golf", from the "Joy of Birthdays" to the "Joy of Wine". At the end of each story, readers are invited to visit the Circle of Joy website, where they can enjoy thousands more anecdotes, stories and photos posted by other users, share their own stories of joy if they wish, as well as order more storycards from the webshop.

Each story should be between 500-600 words in length (which roughly equates to one page of A4) so as to fit into the format of the storycard range. 

The focus of the range is on stories from real life – stories or themes that are personal to you. It could be something that actually happened or is currently happening in your life, someone you met only once or have known all your life, some eureka moment or more gradual insight you once gained, or your passionate opinions about the topic you choose. Your story could be about some private moment, or detail or aspect of your life that has gone unexplored or unnoticed, or some quirky observation on the topic in question. As you may have noticed by now, there are no hard and fast rules. The key is for you to share your passion about your chosen topic – be it the joy of fishing or fashion or football or family or anniversaries or singing or...the list goes on (to be sent the full list, please see below).

Should your story be printed in a greeting card, you will receive royalties per card sold (or, if you prefer, your royalties can be paid to a nominated charity). If your story is not included in one of the greeting cards, with your permission, it will be featured in the Circle of Joy website, an interactive platform containing real life anecdotes, stories and photos about everyday joy, which will be launched alongside the greeting card range. 

Chomping at the bit to write a short story? Or, better still, several (go on, you know you want to...)? Just send a quick email to  to receive the guidelines for submission, which include the full list of topics and deadlines for submission.


Click here to enter our poetry competition online!


New website for travel writers

World of Travel Writers is a unique website where travel writers across the world can meet up, share their travel writing experiences and travel stories, and find markets and contests for travel writers all on one website. World of Travel Writers will be updated every two months: Feb/Mar, Apr/May, June/July/ Aug/Sept, Oct/Nov, December/End of Year issue.

The website needs articles by travel writers; press releases about new markets for travel writers; press releases about upcoming writing competitions and photography competitions. It also needs news that pertains to travel writing.

Types of material accepted:

  • How-to's and travel tips for travel writers: no more than 2500 words; how to get writing assignments, or how to get paid for article submissions; how to improve writing skills, etc.; how to write travel essays and how to write for paying markets, etc...
  • Travel magazine and book reviews; new videos, etc.;
  • Inspirational and motivational pieces on how you got your first acceptance in the travel writing genre, etc; 
  • Advice on getting published; advice on making money writing travel articles, etc.; 
  • Travel writing markets that work with new or beginning writers as well as old pros; we need a regular columnist or contributor for our market section; trends in the market place – what editors look for most; 
  • How to write for online travel publications; 
  • Photography how-tos and pertinent information. 

No destination articles (San Diego For Kids) and materials or travel tips for travellers who do not write (How to Pack for a Camping Trip). 

"Our focus will be on travel writing – our website will be geared toward motivational and inspirational pieces that help writers hone their craft and learn to write like a pro. We not only want to hear your success stories and how you did it – how you landed an assignment in one of the top notch paying magazines – but we want to know what you did, how you did it and how we can do it too... This is what our readers want to know."

No fiction or poetry.

Submit (email only) complete manuscript with cover letter and short bio at the end of your story or article.

There is no subscription fee for the services, but a small monthly donation is encouraged. Link exchanges with editors and publishers are also encouraged.

At this time there is no payment for writers, but they are offered a free website and a byline for their stories. Travel tales and articles are appreciated from both beginning writers and those who have been in the profession for a while. 

"The best advice given to me many years ago from a travel magazine editor was: 'Get out from behind that desk (your comfort zone!) and travel – it doesn't have to be very far. Go somewhere – write about your experience – anyplace worth travelling to is worth writing about – find the story – find your niche and begin writing!' And that's what you must do: start with your own community – your own town...there is a story there – but you must find it. If you don't, someone else will."

For more information go to 


Jewish Women's anthology seeks submissions

Submissions are being sought for a new anthology, Just Between Us – Jewish Women Get Personal. The stories should be personal true slices of life showing how you have grown, overcome challenges, gained wisdom, etc. All subjects are welcome: Dating, marriage, pregnancy, birth, nursing, raising children, mikveh, holidays, living in Israel, divorce, widowhood, illness, grandmotherhood, etc. Humor is welcome, as is poetry.

See some of the stories in the new Jerusalem Free Weekly: The Jerusalem Observer:  

There is no payment for submissions, but you will gain exposure, an important writing credit and the chance to work with a motivational writing coach and editor. 

Please do not send work that was previously published in print form. Web-published work (or work published only in local papers) is acceptable.

Any length. 

Deadline: Pesach 2012.

Please email your submissions to:  


One month left to apply for £30,000 Futures Fund

Last year IdeasTap opened a fund in partnership with Sky Arts to give five young creatives the chance to win £30,000 each. They have already awarded funding to opera director Daisy Evans and visual artist Phoebe Boswell, and they will be taking applications for the remaining three bursaries until February 24, 2012.

Anyone can apply who is creative, aged 18-30 and who iss working in visual art, theatre, performance art, film, music, dance or literature. The deadline for the Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund is 5pm on February 24. You can find plenty of application advice in their online magazine, IdeasMag.

If you’d like to find out more about IdeasTap and what they do, please visit them at You can also contact us on Twitter using #FuturesFund and on Facebook too.


New site for writers

Voices in Space is a new site that includes a free online writers’ forum, where writers can post original fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; receive critique from a global community of readers; and read new works by aspiring and established authors. The site also lets writers’ workshops create groups, through which their members can connect and share writing.

Since Voices in Space is a new site, still in its beta stage, they are searching for writers and readers to populate the site with works and feedback. To visit the site, click here


Resources for writers at

Visit for the following invaluable resources for writers:

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Enter our Poetry Competition and Short Story Contest for kudos and cash prizes! 

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