Friday, 23 October 2020

Write Time Short Story Competition

 Full details 

WriteTime Short Story Competitions
1. Entries must be in English.
2. Entries must be a maximum of 1500 words on any theme.
3. Entries must not have been published or accepted for publication elsewhere.
4. Entries submitted by post cannot be returned.
5. The closing date for entries during the rest of 2020 is 31 December. Winners will be notified within six weeks of the closing date.‬
6. By entering the competition you are agreeing to publication on the website. The results of the competition and the winning stories will be published at
7. Entering the competition gives Shoreham Press CIC the once-only permission to publish the story in the WriteTime anthology.
8. Extracts from stories may be used as examples of good practice in the WriteTime newsletter.
9. Entries will be judged anonymously and the judges will not know the name or gender of any author.
10. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
11. No corrections will be accepted or refunds given.
12. Copyright remains with the author.
13. Entries not complying with competition rules will be disqualified.
14. Submission of an entry or entries implies acceptance of these rules.
Submitting your entry
15. All entries must be prepaid.
16. Entries should be submitted through this website or by post. See How to Enter for full details.

L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future

 Full details 

Welcome to the Writers of the Future

The most enduring and influential contest in the history of SF and Fantasy

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the masters in the field and discovered by a wide audience.

No entry fee is required and entrants retain all publication rights.

Entries in the Writers of the Future Contest are adjudicated only by professional writers. Prizes of $1000, $750 and $500 are awarded every three months. From the four quarterly 1st Place winners each year, a panel of judges select one story as the grand prize winner. The writer of the grand-prize-winning story receives the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Pen Award and an additional $5000 cash prize.

Enter the Writer Contest

1st Quarter 2021
Deadline: December 31, 2020

This Contest will run from October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

Deadline is 11:59 p.m. December 31, 2020 Pacific Standard Time.


Blue Mountian Arts Poetry Contest

 Full details 

Blue Mountain Arts Announces Its Thirty-Seventh Biannual Poetry Contest
Deadline: December 31, 2020
1st prize: $350 * 2nd prize: $200 * 3rd prize: $100

In addition, the winning poems will be displayed on our website.
Please read the following, then scroll down to submit your poem.

Poetry Contest Guidelines

  1. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.

  2. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.

  3. Poems are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness.

  4. English-language entries only, please.

  5. Enter as often as you like!

Poetry Contest Rules

All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. The contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.

How to Submit

Simply complete the contest form below, or if you prefer, you may send a hard-copy* of your submission to us:

Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest
Editorial Department
P.O. Box 1007
Boulder, CO 80306

*Please do not send us the only copy of your work. If you'd like your entry material returned, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Please label each submission with your name, mail address, phone number, and email address (if you have one).

Poetry Contest Submission Form

Name *
Address *
(Not required, but recommended)
(e.g. Mother, Love, Support, etc.)
I agree to the contest rules *

**All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. The contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.


Other Ways of Being


Other Ways of Being is my latest collection of short stories.  An earlier collection contained what I would call my “every day, real life stories”.  This one has stories in different settings: the supernatural, near future, fantasy and back in history. Hence the title.

Some of them have been published before.

We’re often asked “Where do you get your ideas from?” So here’s a list of what sparked the stories.

I forced myself to write a story that included the were-wolf / vampire conflict – but they went and fell in love.

I explored the backstory of a fantasy I’ve written for children.

A colleague made a chance remark that she could do with cloning herself so that she could get all of her work done. I wondered how that might work.

What if the infrastructure breaks down? 

How might an alien see our planet? This came from an exercise at Winchester cathedral when I was doing my MA.

A newspaper article about the disappearance of a couple on a boating holiday sparked an idea.

There was another newspaper article about a young man who had been living wild in the forests. I coupled that with similar stories I’d heard about people fleeing the Nazis that way in the 1930s and 1940s.

What would it be like to be the mind of a blue whale?

What happens when the money runs out?

And if we no longer use money how could we repurpose the old ATMs?

I noticed that religious people respect one another’s places of worship, even if they don’t believe the same things. Might churches then become a place of refuge?

What might we discover if we really could freeze people and bring them back to life?

What was it like in biblical times as those events we now know so well were actually happening? For instance, the journey of the Magi and the feeding of the five thousand?

What was that strange experience of telepathy all about?

They’re talking about driverless cars.  Let’s explore that and add a bit of spooky magic.

There you have them and I’ve written a heap more since then.  It’s always a matter of exploring the “what if”?

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Girl in a Smart Uniform


"Girl in a Smart Uniform" is the third book in the Schellberg Cycle, a collection of novels inspired by a bundle of photocopied letters that arrived at a small cottage in Wales in 1979. The letters give us first-hand insights into what life was like growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is the most fictional of the stories to date, though some characters, familiar to those who have read the first two books, appear again here. Clara Lehrs, Karl Schubert and Dr Kühn really existed. We have a few, a very few, verifiable facts about them. The rest we have had to find out by repeating some of their experiences and by using the careful writer's imagination.

Gisela adores her brother Bear, her gorgeous BDM uniform, and her little half-brother Jens. She does her best to be a good German citizen, and is keen to help restore Germany to its former glory. She becomes a competent and respected BDM leader. But life begins to turn sour. Her oldest brother Kurt can be violent, she soon realises that she is different from other girls, she feels uncomfortable around her mother’s new lover, and there is something not quite right about Jens. It becomes more and more difficult to be the perfect German young woman.

We know that BDM girls set fire to the house in Schellberg Street but got the children out first. This story seeks to explain what motivated the girls to do that, and what happened to them afterwards.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Stories all day long

When I was still working at the University of Salford I remarked to a group of my colleagues that I actually enjoyed marking. They gave me a curious look.

Then one of them beamed. “Ah, that’s because you get to read lots of stories.”

He was right. I was marking mainly short stories, extract of novels for young adults and other bits of fiction for other young readers. Yes, there were also reflective commentaries, some essays, some bits of memoir and a few poems.  There were also stage, film and TV scripts; these also contain stories. So yes, about three quarters of what I was marking was story and anyway the commentary on it was interesting and added to my understanding and appreciation of story.  

And it goes on even now that I’ve retired.

A typical day looks like this.

 As soon as the alarm goes off I get up and make a cup of tea and then read while I drink it. About three-quarters of what I read is fiction.

Mornings I spend up to three hours writing and editing my own work. Again, three quarters of what I’m reading is fiction.

Afternoons are for admin but also some editing.  Stories again part of the time. If the admin is very boring I’ll put on the TV in my office while I work. I enjoy reruns of dramas.  Stories yet again.

Evenings are spent largely working on other people’s prose. Again, I’m reading fiction.

I relax later by watching a little TV. There is some excellent drama around.  Fantastic stories.

And I read in bed just before I go to sleep.

 When I’m out and about I find myself making ups stories about people.

 So, I often watch The One Show for a bit of a contrast. Okay, so all the stories here are true but they’re still stories. 

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 


I believe the world needs story-tellers – probably more than ever now. Stories help us make sense of the world. I hope I remain part of that community but anyway I’ll never stop reading stories and consuming them in other ways. I’m sure I’m not alone.  This bodes well for those of us who write.  

Thursday, 1 October 2020

News 1 October 2020


I was very pleased with the two events we held this month: 1940s’ Readers and Writers (17th September) and Meet Some of Our Writers (26 September). I’ll certainly consider doing more of these in the future.  

My work with the Culture Champions continues. You can hear all about this at the Sonder Radio: Bury Culture Champions. All of the programmes are interesting.  I take part in the recording about the Jinnah centre.    

This work has led to me working with Talking About My Generation. I am now a “staff reporter” and here is my first article:  Part of the rationale behind this web site is that idea that older people have something of value to offer.   


News about my writing and other creative projects

I’m still carrying on much as before: The Round Robin, the fifth book in the Schellberg Cycle, Not Just Fluffy Bunnies, and I’m still working on The Business of Writing.  And of course I’m interspersing this with short stories and flash fiction.

I’m also continuing to write stories relating to what might happen after the virus leaves us – if it does. This is Aftermath, an invitation to write speculative and near future fiction about what may happen after the virus. Reflective writing about what is actually happening now is also welcome, along with stories set now or a little into the future.  


The Young Person’s Library

The full catalogue is gradually moving from to

I’ve added new this month:  

Letters of a Lovestruck Teenager by Claire Robertson  

This is an early new-type young adult novel, written in 1990.


Snakehead by Anthony  Horrowitz

Alex is certainly maturing. The adventures are getting edgier. And the books are getting longer.  


Mates, Dates and Pulling Power by Cathy Hopkins

A great teenage romp with a slightly more serious side. Chicklet-lit.


Wolves by Emily Gravett

A delightful but quite sophisticated picture book.


The Beautiful Game by Jon Blake

The beautiful game here is snooker. This is a teen high-low and also a  coming of age story.

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers   

A sophisticated picture book that helps the child to understand their place in the world.  


Ark Angel by Anthony Horrowitz  

Another adventure for the young secret agent.


The Boy at the back of the Class by Anjali Q Raúf

A fluent reader text about bullying and refugees.  


Current reading recommendation

Alas, I have now finished all of the Anne Shirley books and what wonderful escapism they’ve been. Yet they’re not without their shadows: Matthew Cuthbert dies suddenly at the end of the first book, Anne’s first baby dies as a very young infant, and this final book is impacted by the Great War.  

Rilla of Ingleside is for Rilla, Anne’s youngest daughter, a coming of age story. At the beginning she is a girl of fifteen and by the end a young woman of nineteen. Her brothers and fiancé have gone to fight in the Great War.  The ending is upbeat and makes us feel good. Yet there are ups and downs throughout the story and we get much detail about what is happening on the war front.

L. M Montgomery was way ahead of her time.  Yes, she has a shifting point of view and very occasionally she takes on an authorial role and lectures the reader but only a little compared with other writers of her time. She achieves as well if not better than many 21st century writers a strong sense of time and place.  Her characters are rounded and believable. We are close to them and have empathy for them. There is plenty of story as well.



Note: these are usually mobi-files to be downloaded to a Kindle.  Occasionally there are PDFs.

Unusually this month I’m giving away a paperback.  This is a non-fiction book about language learning. The Complete Guide to Learning a Language, the first trade book I ever had published. It is a guide for the hobby language learner and informed by my twenty-six years of teaching languages. It covers the four language skills- listening, speaking, reading and writing, gives tips on how to get free help and discusses different ways of learning.   

It’s a matter of “while stocks last”.          

If you’re interested, let me know your contact details and I’ll post one out to you.

Please, please, please review it if you read it.

You can download lots of other free materials here.

Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £0.99 to £10.99, with most on Kindle being about £2.99 and the average price for paperback being £7.00. Writers have to make a living. But I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.


The Schellberg Project

The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust and also for other writers of historical fiction.

Sometimes I also write about what might be of interest to other writers and that is certainly the case this month.

In A Necessary Cut   I write about how I’ve edited my latest novel.  In Creating a Sense of Time and Place in the Historical Novel   I write about some useful tools available to the writer of historical fiction.  


School visits

I’ve suspended these until further notice. I’m now starting work on a series of on-line materials.  

Some notes about my newsletters and blogs

They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.


Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprints. News for writers. Links to book performance. Sign up here.


Chapeltown Books News about our books. Sign up here.


The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer.  Sign up here.   


Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits and Events. Book recommendations and giveaways. Find it here.   


Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.  


Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.


A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access this here.   


The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.   


CaféLit Stories Find these here


Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.


Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head and a reminder of the ones I’ve highlighted in this newsletter.    


Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.


The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.


Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing.  Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.     


Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here. 


The Young Person’s Library I am gradually moving the children’s book catalogue over to this site.  Access it here.


Fair Submissions I am gradually moving the Opportunities List to this site.  Find it here.   

New ones are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I go through it and take out all of the out of date ones. At that point I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.  

Happy reading and writing. 

Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay