Coffee, Comps and (Hair) Cuts

Right, I’ve had my hair all cut off ..oh, and I’ve been in the pub all day. Hic.

Only joking!! I haven’t been near any hostelries or salons and don’t intend to for a little while.

How about you? Have you ventured out into the big wide world?

When I do get a hair appointment, which hopefully won’t be too far off, I’m going to get dressed up! Yes, I am. As though I’m GOING OUT – which of course, I will be. Going Out for the first time in 3.. or 4 months! What a treat.

Amazingly – because I have a habit of missing deadlines – I managed to get my submission off to the Kate Nash Literary Agency #BookCamp mentoring scheme in time (i.e.: with 3 minutes to spare). Results won’t be out until September. If you submitted too, good luck!

I have also signed up for ‘Audible’ – the audiobook ‘branch’ of Amazon. Now that I’m in two book clubs I’m running out of time to read all the books coming my way, so I’m hoping that listening to audiobooks will help me keep up!

I’ve downloaded ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney as my first book and I’m looking forward to that, as I enjoyed the TV series.

I have lots of writing ‘snippets’ (good word) to impart and hopefully there’s something that you’ll find interesting, so here goes:

Costa Short Story Award c/d 3rd August 2020

The Costa Short Story Award is now open for entries. The Award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words written in English.

The competition is open to any writer, published or unpublished, aged 18 years or over and resident in the UK or Ireland. This is a pretty prestigious award BUT it’s free to enter and if you’re not in it, you can’t win it, so if you think you’d like to have a go (prizes for the top 3 stories are £3,500, £1000 and £500), read all the terms and conditions here.

You can also read last years’ top 3 stories, if you want to get a flavour of what they might be looking for. (I read last year’s winner ‘The Dedicated Dancers of The Greater Oaks Retirement Community’ – which I enjoyed, although, be warned, there are a few ‘strong’ words – but one thing I did notice: THREE mentions of coffee! Not specifically Costa coffee, but coffee nonetheless. May I suggest you might want to slip some mentions of coffee-drinking into any story you send in…? Just an idea!).

Evesham Festival of Words ‘Lockdown Limerick Competition’
Tomorrow (Sunday 5th July) the Festival is launching a free Limerick competition. You read it here first! Have a look on the website tomorrow if you’d like to know more.


OK, confession time: I am watching ‘Love Island: Australia’.

It’s quite difficult to understand what they’re saying at times (but there are helpful subtitles) but otherwise, I LOVE it. And I know you are probably rolling your eyes at me but I don’t care. It makes me laugh and it’s a complete (welcome) distraction from everything going on in the world. AND it was filmed in 2018, so there’s none of this social distancing stuff going on.

But still on the subject of Australia, I have just discovered a great writing website, from Down Under, namely, Australian Writers Centre.

And, on the first weekend of every month (i.e.: THIS one!) they run a free 500 word short story competition (‘Furious Fiction’) which is open to anyone, anywhere.

For July’s challenge, the criteria are:

• Your story must take place at either WEDDING or a FUNERAL.
• Your story must include something being cut.
• Your story must include the words “UNDER”, “OVER” and “BETWEEN”

The winner will receive $500 Australian dollars, which is about £278. All the details are here but remember, if you want to enter July’s competition, you’ve only got until the end of the weekend Aussie time… the countdown is on the website.

Even if you don’t enter the competition, you could use it as a writing prompt.

The Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing 2020: The Next Chapter is open now and it’s free to enter.

There are actually 2 short story competitions with a word count of 2000 words. The first ‘Open International’ competition (with a first prize of £100) is for ‘feel good’ and ‘optimistic’ stories.

There’s also a separate competition for Yorkshire residents only (£100 first prize for that one too) and the theme is ‘The Yorkshire Coast’.

Closing date 31st August 2020. All the details on the website.

Pandemic Diaries

I’m trying to keep off the subject of You-Know-What as much as possible on here but just a little something to tell you about… if you’re keeping a diary in these strange times – or are interested in reading other people’s (from all over the world), you might be interested in this website.

Yes, most of the published diary entries are from the USA (although not all – I scrolled through quickly and found one from Australia and one from Wrexham) but perhaps you could redress the balance, by sending in something from your part of the world?

Bonnie finds the sunshine

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10 Responses to Coffee, Comps and (Hair) Cuts

  1. Lindsay Bamfield says:

    Australia Writers Centre is great. I’m doing an online course of theirs at the moment. And I usually enter the Furious Fiction (you’ve just helped lessen my chances of a placement!) They get about 1500 entries each month! Love Island, on the other hand….

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Hi Lindsay! Sorry if I’ve let the cat out of the bag…! (with the Furious Fiction competition!) but it sounds like they get a huge entry each month, don’t they? A few more from Blighty won’t make much difference…! Love Island is brilliant (it’s not set in Australia, by the way – they flew all the contestants out to the Love Island villa in Spain). I’m learning some new words, like ‘stoked’ and ‘tradie’ …yes, it’s all very educational!

  2. No, I haven’t been out. I’m going to have to find a new hairdresser – my old one is now a train and two bus rides away (she moved, and then we moved), which is a shame, because she knows exactly how I like my hair.

  3. Sharon boothroyd says:

    Thanks for the comps info, Helen. I got excited, as I had a story that fit the Val Wood feel- good category nicely, however the rule state they are unable to accept entries from ‘commercially published writers’ – so that’s me out! A bit of a shame.

  4. Linda Casper says:

    Definitely going to get my hair done but the pub can wait. I’m amazed how few people wear masks in indoor venues. Thanks for the useful links.

  5. Haha, I’m happy to let my hair grow a little longer. Not ready for the fracas just yet. Thanks for the short story competition links!

  6. juliathorley says:

    Lots to keep me going here, thank you. Now, about ‘Normal People’. First, these people are not normal! I realise I’m not the target audience, and I wasn’t going to watch it at all, but then FOMO took over and having seen the first couple of episodes I wanted to see what happened. Spoiler alert: not a lot. Good grief, what a Moaing Minnie that girl is. I just wanted to shout at her, ‘Get over yourself!’

    • Interesting that you thought Marianne was a moaning Minnie because I didn’t find her like that at all! But perhaps I will feel differently when I read/listen to the book! I will report back!

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