The Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize 2015 is now OPEN! Full details of how to enter can be found here. Submission window closes 30 November 2014. And there is no entry fee.
For the 2014 prize over 4,000 stories were received so you may think what is the point of submitting? But I did enter and my story was shortlisted for UK/Canada region. To be honest I still haven't got over the shock. If I can do it then so can any one of you out there ... go on submit your best story, what is there to lose?
And as a shortlisted writer I was invited to the launch event for the 2015 prize. It was a fabulous evening at Malborough House where writers, agents, publishers and diplomats rubbed shoulders while the wine flowed freely and the nibbles were unusually tasty (and mostly suitable for veggies). Thankfully, I didn't have to attend on my own and first met up with Debz Hobbs-Wyatt (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013) and her writing chum, Paula Readman. You can read a great account of evening on Debz's blog here.
There was mingling before and after the main event, a panel discussion on the topic 'No Laughing Matter? Conflict and humour - is there a line?'. Romesh Gunesekera was in conservation with writers Leila Aboulela, Kei Miller and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. It was an entertaining discussion and rather pertinent as Jennifer's 2014 winning story 'Let's tell this story properly' has many comic moments (read it here). Debz and I both discussed how our own shortlisted stories had comic elements, mainly in voice rather than deliberate jokes. Personally, I find it difficult to write any short story without some humour, simply because even in the most tragic moments there is always humour - it's how we survive.
A highlight of the evening was meeting and chatting with Jennifer. Ugandan born but now teaching at University of Lancaster, Jennifer is a novelist and short story addict. She shared how she entered lots of short story competitions and became so concerned about the cost that she now searches out as many free competitions as possible. I have similar worries as the entry fees mount up, so I avidly watch out for the free to enter competitions and these writers always manage to root them out: Patsy Collins, Helen Yendall.
To record the event Debz took this writer selfie of the three of us ... hmm now I'm thinking back to that Scottish play again ...
Tracy, Paula and Debz - from hereon known as The Bridge House Anthologists ... we all have short stories coming out in the 2014 Bridge House Anthology to be published December (more on that in a later blog...)