The word is out. Amateur writers across the country should have pens and laptops at the ready because today The Sunday Post launches its inaugural Short Story Writing Competition, and we want to hear from you.
Can you weave a captivating tale? Do you marvel at where your imagination takes you? Do the characters you conjure take on a life of their own? If the answer is yes, then this is your moment. Whether you’re unemployed or a student, a retired granny, grandpa or working mum, with disabilities or without, or just downright frustrated at not fulfilling your literary dream, now is your chance.
And we’ve lined up a great team of experts to cast their eyes over your creations. Our judges are the king of feel-good fiction, No.1 Ladies Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith, queen of romantic comedy Jenny Colgan, and thriller royalty, Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival founders Lin Anderson and Alex Gray. Also on the judging panel is Sunday Post and P.S magazine Books Editor Sally McDonald.
The overall winner will receive a 12-month Gold Star membership with the Writers’ HQ that gives access to all its online courses and workshops, along with three one-day writing retreats in either Edinburgh, Birmingham, Brighton or Milton Keynes. Runners-up will receive book tokens and all winners will have an opportunity to be published in the award-winning P.S magazine that comes free with The Sunday Post – Scotland’s Sunday Newspaper of the Year.
Editor David Lord said: “We know there is a huge wealth of creativity among our readers, and we can’t wait to read their stories. We have assembled a truly amazing panel of judges and I know they are very much looking forward to seeing your submissions.
“Storytelling is ingrained in the fabric of all of our lives and we hope this contest will act as a springboard for people who may never have found the confidence to put pen to paper before. Great prizes help, and we certainly have them too, so I would encourage everyone to take part in this great competition – there is nothing to lose and so much to gain.”
Alexander McCall-Smith said: “I applaud, loudly, The Sunday Post team for launching this contest. I was first published as the result of a writing competition and know first-hand how important such an opportunity can be in launching a successful career. Later, it was the short story form that first introduced readers to Mma Ramotswe (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency). She entered the page in a story I wrote to share with friends and has become a regular companion throughout my writing life. I am in the best of company with my fellow judges and look forward to reading the entries.”
His cohorts agreed. Jenny Colgan told the Post: “I am thrilled to be a judge and am looking forward to reading stories about all types of Scotland; our rich heritage, our fast-moving present, and our unpredictable future.”
Lin Anderson said: “I welcome this opportunity to meet new writers at the beginning of their career.”
While Alex Gray added: “Reading new work from debut authors is always an exciting prospect and I am delighted to be part of the judging process.”
Entries are invited from people aged 18 and over living in the UK who must be amateur writers. They should submit never-before-published stories that can be printed across DC Thomson titles without restriction. DC Thomson retains the right to edit.
Submissions must have a word count of between 1,500 and 2,000. Accepted categories are: Romance/RomCom, Thriller/Crime/Mystery, Comedy, Historical, Family/Drama/Tragedy, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Children’s and YA stories are not accepted.
Entries should include your name and address, age, email address and telephone number. Stories should be typed and either emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by post to The Sunday Post (Short Story Competition), Spiers View, 50 High Craighall Road, Glasgow, G4 9UD. They must arrive no later than 4pm on Friday, September 15 2023. Winners will be announced on Sunday, November 12 2023. The judges’ decision will be final.
Jo Gatford, along with Sarah Lewis, is co-founder and director of the Writers’ HQ, whose mission is “to change the world for the better by telling the stories that matter”. She revealed their team have been helping would-be writers since 2012, many of whom have made it into print. Gatford said: “We are thrilled to sponsor the inaugural Sunday Post Short Story Competition. The prize provides a fantastic opportunity for an unpublished writer to develop their craft and gain invaluable experience. We are passionate about supporting writers at every stage of their career and look forward to welcoming the winner into the WHQ Community.”
Welcoming the initiative Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “We welcome the arrival of the Sunday Post’s inaugural short story competition, which will further enrich Scotland’s rich literary culture and encourage people to try their hand at writing short stories. Good luck to all the writers who enter this year – we eagerly await the opportunity to read the winning stories.”
Sally McDonald, competition co-ordinator, said: “It’s time to stop talking about that story you’ve always wanted to write. This is your chance to make it happen. We are here and we are waiting. Good luck!”
Meet the judges
Alexander McCall Smith
A former Professor of Medical Law, Edinburgh-based McCall Smith is one of the country’s most prolific and best-loved authors, with more than 20 million books sold in over 40 languages. His No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series was a springboard for others like the Scotland Street and Isabel Dalhousie novels.
The author, whose accolades include last year’s coveted Saltire Life Achievement Award, the 2021 Edinburgh Award, and the 2017 National Arts Club of America Medal of Honor for Achievement in Literature said: “In launching this competition, the Sunday Post is inviting us not only to meet new writers but to celebrate the brevity and importance of the short story form, their compactness allowing us to hold an entire story and its characters in our memory, their ability to evoke response with an immediacy not possible in longer forms.
“The short story can be thoroughly entertaining, disturbing, satisfying. But they are a form unto themselves, and that form is as challenging to write as it is rewarding.”
McCall Smith’s latest book The Discreet Charm Of The Big Bad Wolf is out now.
Colgan’s uplifting romantic comedies are loved all over the world from Scotland to South Korea. The winner of numerous awards, her books have been translated into 26 languages from Icelandic to Arabic.
Last year, the best-selling novelist with 30 books under her belt, marked a milestone with her nine millionth book sale.
Colgan who was born in Scotland but has lived in London, the Netherlands, the US and France, these days lives just north of Edinburgh. Colgan – author of a host of heart-warming titles including Meet Me at the Cupcake Café and Little Beach Street Bakery – said: “I can’t wait to start reading the entries. It will be a real treat.”
Her brand new breath-taking and escapist romance The Summer Skies is out now.
Bloody Scotland co-founder Anderson a former chair of The Society of Authors in Scotland, divides her time between Edinburgh and Cannes in the South of France. The daughter of a Detective Inspector in the Scottish police service, it’s little surprise she turned from teaching to crime-writing.
Lin, who will next month mark the 20th anniversary of her best-selling Dr Rhona MacLeod forensic scientist crime series, has seen four of her novels longlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and in 2022 she was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Dagger in the Library Award.
Her second mystery thriller series featuring Patrick de Courvoisier is set in Cannes and pitched as “The Rockford Files meets James Bond”.
She said: “I am very much looking forward to the Sunday Post Short Story Competition and to reading the words and stories of its entrants.”
Anderson’s latest Rhona MacLeod novel, The Wild Coast, will launch on August 3.
Born and raised in Glasgow, where she still lives, Gray worked as a visiting officer of the DHSS and as an English teacher before beginning to write professionally in 1993.
Earlier this year she published the 20th in her hit Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer series, all of which are set around her native Glasgow. A regular on bestseller lists, Gray won the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies.
Together with her long-time friend Lin Anderson, she is co-founder of Bloody Scotland, the Stirling-based crime-writing festival.
Gray said: “It’s a pleasure to be a member of the judging panel for the Sunday Post’s first Short Story competition.”
The author’s latest book Questions For A Dead Man carries the dedication: “To all the officers of Police Scotland, past and present.” It is available now.
How to enter
Amateur writers aged 18 and over from the UK can send your submissions with a word count of between 1,500 and 2,000 to email@example.com or by post to:
The Sunday Post (Short Story Competition), Spiers View, 50 High Craighall Road, Glasgow, G4 9UD
They must arrive no later than 4pm on Friday, September 15, 2023.
Entries should include your name and address, age, email address and telephone number.
Accepted categories are: Romance/RomCom, Thriller/Crime/Mystery, Comedy, Historical, Family/Drama/Tragedy, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
Children’s and YA stories are not accepted
Terms and conditions
Entries are invited from across the UK for those aged 18 and over. Entrants must be amateur writers. They should submit never-before published stories that can be printed across DC Thomson titles without restriction.
DC Thomson retain the right to edit.
Submissions must have a word count of between 1,500 and 2,000. Stories below or above the stated word count will not be accepted.
Accepted categories are: Romance/RomCom, Thriller/Crime/ Mystery, Comedy, Historical, Family/ Drama/Tragedy, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Children’s and YA stories are not accepted.
Entries should be typed and either emailed to comp@ sundaypost.com or sent by post to The Sunday Post (Short Story Competition), Spiers View, 50 High Craighall Road, Glasgow, G4 9UD.
Entries should arrive no later than 4pm on Friday, September 15, 2023. Winners will be announced on Sunday, November 12, 2023. The judges’ decision is final.
The prizes are as stated: First prize winner will receive a Writers’ HQ 12-month Gold Star membership with access to all its online courses and workshops, along with three one-day writing retreats in either Edinburgh, Birmingham, Brighton, or Milton Keynes. Runners-up will receive book tokens.
All winners will have an opportunity to be published in The Sunday Post’s P.S. Magazine. Employees of DC Thomson Ltd and immediate families may not enter.
Full competition terms and conditions including Privacy Information here.
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