Cover of pulp boxing stories magazine

Are you ready to rumble?

I’ve updated the writing competitions calendar — which you can find via the dropdown menu under
CLUELESS, INK on the navigation bar above.

You’ll see that I’ve included deadlines for 13 competitions in February, including the biggie — the  £15,000 BBC Short Story Prize.

I’ve also included the Margery Allingham mystery fiction award , administered by the UK Crime Writers’ Association, which has its deadline coming up in March.

Best of luck and happy comping!


I’ve UPDATED the Competitions Calendar page today.

I’ve added 10 more competitions:

— 2 non-fiction prizes, up to 7,500 words, each worth $1000.

— 1 short story prize for women writers worth $500.

— 4 science fiction (up to 17,000 words) competitions each worth $1000 with deadlines in January, April, July and October.

and 3 novel competitions (minimum 60,000 words) each worth $10,000 advance for Best Private Eye Novel and two Mystery Novel prizes: Hillerman Mystery and the Minotaur Press (US Macmillan)/Mystery Writers of America competition.

That’s all. As you were.


Well, here we are again, looking at writing competitions.

If you go to Clueless, Ink on the navigation bar you’ll see I’ve added a new page: Competitions Calendar—a comprehensive year-round list of 212 competitions. This total will change as I add more competitions to the list.

I haven’t computed the precise total of prize money involved, but it cannot be far off a million dollars.

The list does not include poetry, playwriting and screenwriting competitions but does include some prose and creative non-fiction prizes.

Which prize would you prefer to win?

£30,000, and loads of UK kudos for a 5000 word short story, or $20,000 and international visibility for a 100 word piece of micro fiction? Or, maybe £2000 worth of Scottish single malt whisky?

As you will appreciate it’s taken many, many hours to research and compile this list.

When I started out I thought it would be a straightforward task—simply copy and paste a Numbers ’09 table into WordPress…but no…I had to go back and start again. (If you know how to paste a Numbers or csv. file into WordPress I’d appreciate a few tips.)

The exercise became a test of patience, diligence, organisation and capacity for work, driven by pride and a sense of obligation to you—the reader, seeker of reliable information or curious browser.

Every link on the list has been tested at least five times—and I’ve researched within the rules of every competition to check for scams. And, I’ve run wider checks on t’internet to see if there are  any histories of maladministration etc.

And, while you need to be vigilant and careful with a few of them (for example, by entering the Family Circle US only competition you give a range of sponsors unfettered access to your email inbox and are required to give a promise to not write anything, ever, that may upset said sponsors) I think you’ll find they are legit.

Having said that a few outfits seem to bend the meaning of the term ‘competition’ to mean something more akin to a regular slush pile except that you have to pay a premium to be considered, and the ‘prize’ is either an advance against future royalties or the equivalent of a fee for the right to publish your story.

To illustrate this I’ve put links to Glimmer Train’s various competitions and to their non-fee paying standard submissions. Admirably Glimmer Train make the distinction very clear—others, less openly, do not.

As ever, an interesting exercise. There are competitions here for genre fiction and literary fiction, for novels, novellas, long short stories, short stories, short short stories, flash fiction, micro fiction, prose, narrative and creative non-fiction and essays.

While most of the competitions listed here positively welcome entries from anyone anywhere writing in English (though one competition welcomes entries in Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish as well as English) there are quite a few with stickly residency requirements—do your research before commiting yourself. And, as ever, those pesky, sensitive Canucks throw in a few barriers to international entry. And why is there only one listing from Down Under?

There are a couple of prizes I should like to claim if only for the kudos of attaching my name to a well-known writer such as H.E. Bates or Bill Naughton—but the monetary value of the prizes in both cases is relatively small. When a teenager I read everything by H.E. Bates, except the Larkin stories, and I thought his short stories were fantastic. Similarly I was once reprimanded by my mother who caught me reading Bill Naughton’s The Goalkeeper’s Revenge under the bed covers—she wasn’t so much upset that I was reading but that I was reading what she considered rubbish—her instant assessment based solely on  scanning the illustration on the paperback cover. I cannot understand why the organisers of these two competitions cannot use the reputations of these two well-loved writers to attract more support and offer larger prizes.

I’ve reconsidered my earlier views on writing competitions—I now think that they could be helpful, within an overall personal writing development strategy, in getting more of your work seen and read by more people in more places.

You need to be clear about your objectives before embarking on a competition campaign—do you crave prestige? peer approval? increased visibility? introductions to traditional publishing nabobs? enhanced international presence? Or, more money?

It could be possible—with research, planning, craft, graft, organisation and a bit of stake money—to earn an annual income of, say, £15,000 by applying yourself to the competition treadmill. Must surely beat hanging out on the Authonomy message boards? Hard work and a lot of luck involved—but it must be possible.

It’s as well to be aware that most competitions have an agenda—and that agenda doesn’t always coincide with recognising or discovering, celebrating and promoting good writing.

It could be that a competition is concerned solely with sustaining the memory of a loved one; or a supposedly talented yet overlooked deceased writer; or rehabilitating a formerly celebrated popular writer now overlooked by contemporary writers and critics.

Or, the competition’s agenda may be concerned to promote a way of thinking or a way of being. Thus we have august institutions such as the Royal Society of Literature promoting an idea of English literary virtues (and, by ‘English’ read metropolitan/Home Counties and Quisling provincials and colonials), and The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation wanting to “unite peoples by using words in the languages in which the three monotheistic religions of the world express their religious feelings.”

Having said that I have been surprised by how few competitions there are which are pushing a multi-cultural agenda.

Often a competion’s agenda is formed by commercial imperatives, i.e. to gain more visibility and status for the hosting organisation’s sponsor(s). And a good few competitions are organised by writers’ groups, non-profits, NGOs and charities by way of raising cash and potentially increasing their membership or donor lists.

So, if you’re not happy with helping to promote causes outwith your moral or ethical world view, then ask of every competition “who ultimately benefits from my participation?”

You’ll notice when you visit the Competitions Calendar page that I’ve added a Donations button. If you find the information useful then please make a donation—it will incentivise me to spend more time keeping all the Clueless, ink pages up to date. I’m not out to make money—only looking to raise a contribution towards hosting fees and subscriptions to journals and organisations from where I extract the information which I then pass on to you. I’m sure you understand my need to do this.

If you intend to enter any of these competitions then best of luck—and if you have any success then please report back. And, as ever, if you know of any competitions not listed, then do please let me know. Thanks.



Weird Tales November, 1937: The Living Buddhess


Since starting the process of cleaning up and updating and moving links from the old Clueless, ink Blogger blog to the Clueless ink pages here I realised that there is no easy way for you to know when new links have been added or changed.

There are still many, many more links to be posted into pages here.

So, to save you the bother of repeatedly checking the pages for any changes I will make a note of the date of the most recent update at the top of the page below the title in bold and post a note in the blog. And I’ve created a new Updates category — which you’ll see in the top right of this post. And, if you wanted you could click on the category and all the posts mentioning updates will appear.

For example, today I’ve added a new link to the Indie Authors & Publishers page. If you look at the page you’ll see today’s date and you’ll see I’ve added a link to the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Hope that helps you in your search for reliable information.

That’s all.

As you were.


Old Books by Mannequin at


Do you recall my little rant about UK short story publishing and distribution in which I suggested Costa Coffee (sponsors of the Costa Book awards) could get more involved with short stories? No? Here it is.

Well, someone must have read it because the Costa Book Awards now (as of July 16th, 2012) includes a category for short stories AND — unlike the other awards categories which can only be submitted by publishers and agents — writers can submit their own work.

The prize is £3,500 for a short story of up to 4000 words. Online entry is FREE. The deadline for submissions is 4pm on Friday, September 7th.

You can read about it HERE and click through to the online entry form.

What are you waiting for?

Oh, yes, sorry, forgot to mention — for some obscure reason all entrants have to have been officially resident in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of every year since November 2009. Though ‘UK or Irish nationality is not essential’.


Best of luck.



You may have noticed that I’ve added SHORT FICTION MARKETS to the Clueless, ink menu.

This comprises a list of 53 markets for short stories and flash fiction — ALL of which PAY for contributions— and a separate list of reliable links to useful directories where you can run your own searches for paying and non-paying publications.

It’s a diverse list, including literary heavyweights, such as The Paris Review, heavy hitters, such as New Yorker, dependable titles such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction, and a good mix of contemporary genre writing, including crime, speculative fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, vampire tales, literary fiction, and the very conservative UK People’s Friend magazine, and Glimmer Train.

If you’re based in the UK you may be amused to see The Sun in the list. No, this isn’t Murdoch’s eponymous tabloid but a quality journal based in North Carolina with the tagline Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free. The Sun pays between $300 and $1500 for quality fiction - though feature only two or three pieces in every issue.

Some of these titles are journals or magazines, others are printed anthologies. Since I first published this list a couple of years ago a fair few markets have gone under, or shifted from print to online, while a few new paying ventures have emerged.

You’ll notice too that more markets are asking for submission fees — usually a nominal dollar/quid or two — but less expensive than the more traditional paper and S.A.S.E. or I.R.C. submission package.

Bear in mind that the turnaround time on submissions to these titles can often run to six months — some titles allow multiple submissions, others don’t. Some titles have strict submission windows. Always check.

If you like what you see, and feel encouraged to submit, please read the guidelines and do as instructed. Before you submit it may be an idea to get hold of a recent issue of your targetted publication and read it — and, if you like what you sample, take out a trial subscription. If you can’t, or won’t, stretch to buying a single issue or subscription, it might be worth trying to get hold of a copy via the inter-library loan service; some libraries are very good at this—and the fee will be less than the cost of a journal.

If you’re a native of the UK or Ireland looking to submit work to a U.S. based publication it may be wise to first check whether they will accept British/Irish English spellings and usage …. do you mean he dived or he dove? Was the body in the boot, or in the trunk? Did you use the elevator, or the lift? etc etc. Some editors will accept Britishisms, and others  won’t. Some editors will leave spellings as they stand, others insist the writer amend accordingly, and others prefer to make necessary corrections themselves – thus ensuring/insuring (see what I mean?) a measure of consistency beyond the capabilities of a non-native speaker.

And, if you are a native of the U.S.A. you may want to check with your targetted UK or Australia based publication whether they are happy to accept American English spellings and usage.

As ever, if you know of any markets not listed then do please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

Best of luck with your submissions.


Little Door at

When you hover your cursor over Clueless Ink in the navigation bar you’ll see the item Irish publishers — a list of 20 Irish publishers who will accept submissions from writers.

I’ve imported and cleaned up the list from the Clueless, Ink blog — two of the twenty-three publishers on the original list have ceased trading, while another has changed its submissions policy.

If you are thinking of submitting work to any of these publishers it may be worthwhile to read the original posts HERE. And, as ever, make sure you do your homework before winging your work off.

If you know of any Irish publishers of fiction who accept submissions from writers which are not included on the list then do please send me a note in the comments box.

Many thanks.

Ádh mór!


Clueless about Indie Authors & Publishers

You will have noticed since your last visit that I have added stuff to the navigation bar — when you hover over Clueless, Ink a drop down menu will appear and among the items you’ll see Indie Authors & Publishers.

A few words about terminology are necessary.

When using the terms ‘indie’ or ‘independent’ publisher in the U.K. the response will depend on with whom you are discussing the term. A general reader wouldn’t really know what to think, while a self-styled indie writer would likely assume it referred to self-published output, and someone working in the publishing trade would likely bring to mind what were more commonly referred to as ‘small presses’, many subsidised by the Arts Council, or those small to medium publishing enterprises as represented by the  Independent Publishers Guild  and promoted by schemes such as Inpress.

The term ‘indie’ when applied to cultural production and distribution in the U.K. has a slightly different history to that of the U.S. and has become debased. There was once an independent film sector in the U.K. when such did not really exist (except in the Underground and on college campuses) in the U.S.. The emergence of the notion of  ’indie’ film making in the U.S. overlapped with the beginning of the decline of the ‘indie’ film sector in the U.K.

Similarly the label ‘indie’ became attached to those music bands and labels in the U.K. (Stiff Records, for example) which established themselves outwith the purview of the corporate recording labels.


However, during the post-punk settlement the label ‘indie’ soon became corrupted to imply a certain aesthetic, or style of music, regardless of any record label’s provenance.

Consequently I think many U.K. based writer-entrepreneurs are a little wary of adopting the term ‘indie author’ and, consequently, (coupled to the fact that the U.K. does not currently have an aggregator such as Smashwords to help writers distribute their work to Waterstones and WH Smith etc) there has not been an ‘indie author’ clamouring as has been experienced in the States.

There is also in the U.K. some  residual regard for the notion of amateurism, unlike in the U.S., and many U.K. self-published writers would not be offended to be referred to as ‘pro-am’ authors, i.e. professional in outlook and output though amateur in expectation and status.

Though without any stats to back my assertion, I think U.K. independent writers value more the ability to put forward their work free of commercial editorial constraints than harbour any notions of enjoying supposed luxury lifestyles through becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Though, as ever, there are always exceptions. And I would not be surprised if a bus load of U.K. based self-publishers now come along and tell me I’m mistaken.

However, I contend that my explication does in part explain why there are so few U.K. based ‘indie’ gatherers, shamans and rabble rousers.

If you know of any U.K. based ‘indie’ authors and publishers promoting the cause then please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks.


Glimmer Train literary magazine logo/cover

If you write short stories, and you’ve been writing for a few years, then you’ll know about Glimmer Train — the U.S. based literary quarterly.

If you write what could be termed ‘literary’ short stories, and you haven’t been writing all so many years, then you may want to consider becoming acquainted with Glimmer Train.


Well, you could win up to $2,500 for a short story — as long as you enter the appropriate category, pay the correct reading fee (between $15 and $19) and format and submit your work correctly.

Alternatively you could earn up to $700 (and receive between 10 and 20 copies of the magazine), and save yourself the reading fee, by submitting your work as a ‘standard’ submission.


Every month the editors challenge unpublished writers and established writers to send them stuff — from very short fiction of less than 3,000 words to works that may run to 20,000 words.

The Glimmer Train editors positively welcome submissions (both standard — no reading fee; and competition entries from never before published (except in a publication with a print run of less than 5000) writers.

When you visit the site for the first time it may all seem a little daunting — but browse around a bit and you’ll find it all slots into place.

All you gotta do is write a damn good story.

Glimmer Train is a serious outfit for serious writers — or, writers who are serious about their craft — and enjoys a certain cachet in the U.S.A.

If mention of the Pushcart Prize  and the O.Henry Award  rings any bells then you’ll have an idea of the calibre of the material being sought.

This month, MAY 2012, the editors are looking for material from unpublished writers which runs between 1,500 and 12,000 words. Check out the details HERE. You have ’til the last day of the month to get your stuff together.

I’m gearing up for a submission — at some point over the next few months.

Have you submitted work to Glimmer Train? If so, how was it for you? 



Mystery Novels Magazine,Winter 1933


As promised I’ve cleaned up and updated the list of Canadian publishers who will accept submissions from writers which appears on the Clueless, INK blog.

No surprises to report. A few publishers have closed their former open submissions policy, and, from what I deduce, two publishers have ceased trading.

As said in my original post, and in the follow up, if you’re not a resident of Canada, or a recent registered settler, and do not have an agent with contacts in Canada, then trying to place your ‘script in Canada could prove a fool’s errand.

But, there’s none better than the brave and foolish to prove us all wrong.

Your ‘script  could have a powerful connection with the Canadian imaginary.

So, you’ll find the list filed under the Clueless, INK tab on the homepage.

I repeat again the preamble to the U.K. list:

The links posted here will take you to the appropriate page on the publisher’s website detailing their submissions policy and instructions. PLEASE read these carefully and do as asked.

  • While on any site I strongly recommend you browse around a bit and familiarise yourself with the publisher’s list, seek out their blog (if they have one) and gather clues on their current acquisitions policy.
  • If a publisher has a newsletter, and they seem as though they could be a possible home for your work at some point in the future, then sign up.
  • PLEASE, don’t just smash, grab and send; give careful thought to your query and show consideration.

You know the drill – but if you don’t, don’t send, otherwise a few more doors may close for the rest of us.

In the meantime I’ll be cleaning up the list of Irish publishers.