News and Opportunities for Writers: January – February 2020


The Ruppin Agency has launched the Writers’ Studio, a nationwide mentoring scheme for developing writers of fiction, YA and narrative non-fiction. Over 30 mentors, including prize-winning and bestselling authors, offer a range of options designed to help writers get to the next level, from a first full draft to being submission-ready. Monthly mentoring sessions are available in person or by video call, with mentors available nationwide. Options include advice sessions with a literary agent and a developmental edit with The Book Edit. There is also a FREE place available for a writer of limited means.

Eve Connor, one of our Spark Young Writers, is a Foyle Young Poet and has been commended for her poem Man in the Street at the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Awards.



Join writers from the Common People anthology at Wolverhampton Literature Festival on Sunday 2nd February at 5:30pm! Wolverhampton Poet Laureate Emma Purshouse will be joined by Paul Allen, Lisa Blower and Lynne Voice to discuss and give a voice to the perspectives which are so often lacking in mainstream literature. To book, click here.

Landmark Productions and The Everyman’s sensational adaptation of Louise O’Neill‘s devastating novel about sexual consent, Asking For It, makes its UK première at The REP on Wednesday 29 January and will be running until Saturday 15 February. For more information or to book, click here.

Wolverhampton Literature Festival is hosting Martin Figura, author of Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine, on Saturday 1 February at 3pm. Join Martin to discover what can be retrieved from life’s catastrophes and wounds. Book here.

After the sell-out book launch of Spake: Dialect and Voices from the West Midlands at Birmingham Literature Festival 2019, Writing West Midlands are hosting an event at Waterstones Birmingham on Wednesday 5 February at 6pm to delve deeper into the enigma that is the West Midlands accent. Join us for an evening with Roy McFarlane, Lisa Blower and Urszula Clark as we discuss the West Midlands dialect, as well as the prejudices, challenges and interesting stories which often accompany it. Book tickets here.

Dash Arts are hosting Europeans: George Eliot at Warwick Arts Centre on Wednesday 5 February at 7.15pm. Through performance, music and discussion, the night focuses on Coventry resident and acclaimed author George Eliot. Together with Martina Hall, producer of 2019 BBC Four Arena documentary Everything Is Connected – George Eliot’s Life, Prof. Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway), artist Redell Olsen, and writer Anna Lawrence, delve into Eliot’s world and live music from Amy Kakoura explore what happened when Europe and Middle England’s philosophies and ideas met, resulting in Coventry forming a radical culture of its own. Find out more here.

Join On The Out Page for their one-day LBGTQ+ writers’ retreat on Saturday 8 February from 10am to 4pm. Join other LGBTQ+ writers for a day of writing, information sharing and networking. Price includes drinks, lunch, and group Q&A session with guest writer Suzane Martin. Bursaries are available. Attendees also receive a copy of our exclusive LGBTQ+ Writers’ Resource List. Book here.

Poetry London’s Spring Launch features readings from poets Rishi Dastidar, Emily Hasler, Martha Kapos, and poet and novelist Joe Dunthorne. It will take place at Kings Place on 13 February at 7 pm, tickets are just £6.50. For more info or to book, click here.

To celebrate the UK première of Asking For It, the REP has invited Louise O’Neill to attend for a pre-show discussion on her exciting career and how she came to write the acclaimed novel behind the Irish theatrical phenomenon on Saturday 15 February at 6pm. Spotlight – Asking For It with Louise O’Neill will be chaired by Writing West Midlands‘ Learning and Participation Manager, Emma Boniwell! To book, visit the REP’s website.

Join Naomi Paul, Room 204 writer, for Despite Everything, Price Still Includes Biscuits at the Cosy Club as part of Leicester Comedy Festival on Sunday 16 February at 3:15pm. Book here.

Birmingham City University’s Institute of Creative and Critical Writing is hosting 3 charity events in April and May with an array of authors, including Kit de Waal, Sharon Duggal, Jim Grace, Annie Murray, Carolyn Kirby, Fiona Joseph and more – the proceeds of which will go to Crisis. To book, click here. 


Competitions and opportunities:

Spread The Word is looking for new first readers for their Life Writing Prize. Applicants would ideally enjoy reading creative non-fiction, have experience of doing similar sifting reading tasks, or are willing to give it a go with Spread The Word’s guidance. First readers will be asked to read 40-50 pieces, recommend up to 5 titles and will be paid £150 for doing so. Contact to find out more. The 2020 Life Writing Prize is open for entries until Monday 3 February at 11am.

The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize is open for submissions! This award is open to aspiring, emerging, and also self-published writers anywhere in the world. First prize is a publishing deal with Bonnier Books UK, and six shortlisted writers will be offered manuscript development from a top literary consultant. Deadline: 2nd March 2020.

Rubery Book Award has announced its 2020 judges and is open for submissions! All categories are accepted. Enter for the chance to win the Book of the Year award plus £1500! Deadline: 31 March 2020.

Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition 2020 is now open for submissions. Closing date: 20th March 2020. Open to published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers. Maximum of 2,500 words, open theme. Entry fee: £5 Online entries only will be accepted.  Shortlisted entrants will be notified no later than 17th April 2020. Winning stories will be announced at the Festival Weekend opening night, 26th June 2020 in Evesham. All shortlisted entrants will be invited to the event. Prizes: £150, £50 and £30.

The Creative Writing Award is now open for entries: further your involvement in the literary world with our friends at Aesthetica Mag.  Submit your poetry and short fiction work and win £1,000 as well as publication within an inspiring anthology. Find out more.


Workshops and Courses:

Arvon Course: writing with communities – with Sara Clifford and Francesca Beard. Monday 17th – Saturday 22nd February 2020, Lumb Bank. This course aims to leave each participant with a tool kit of exercises and strategies for writing and making work with, by and for communities.

Writing coach and author Ellie Stevenson is running two workshops Stepping Into Publishing 1 – Getting Your Book To Market on Saturday 29 February from 10am to 3pm and Stepping Into Publishing 2 – Marketing Your Book on Saturday 7 March from 10am to 3pm. To book, click here.


News from our Room 204 writers:

A huge congratulations to Louise Stokes on her play The Order of Disorder which was showcased at Coventry University with interest in programming it into their Mental Health Nurse curriculum and performed as part of Worcester Arts Workshop’s Mental Health Week program. Her new play, Hear Me, was also selected to be included in BEDLAM’s scratch night at MAC. Louise has also received some funding to carry out creative sessions for those experiencing the issues she explores in her work.

Fran Hill‘s new book Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean? is due to be published by SPCK on 21 May 2020!  The Room 204 writer describes it ‘as a funny but poignant memoir in diary form of a year in a teacher’s life.’

Room 204 writer and BBC Local Poet for Shropshire, Jean Atkin, was commissioned a poem for National Poetry Day this year based on stories passed on by Shropshire residents. Jean’s performance of Here Be Elephants can be viewed here. Jean’s second collection, How Time is in Fields, was launched by Indigo Dreams Publishing at the end of August.

Jacqui Rowe is the joint winner of the Indigo Dreams poetry competition and they will be publishing her next collection, Other Things I Didn’t Use To Know, in 2020. Another poem of Jacqui’s, translated from Catalanalso appears in Home on the Move, published by Parthian Press.

Congratulations to Leila Rasheed from Room 204 who had two books published in September! The first being Katherine Johnson: A Life Story, a non-fiction book, published by Scholastic and the second being The Smiling Stones, a fiction book, published by Rising Stars as part of their Reading Planet reading scheme.

Liz Kershaw has been shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association Short Story Competition and will be among six shortlisted writers to attend the award ceremony in November. Good luck Liz!

Liz Hyder‘s debut Bearmouth has been chosen as one of The Times Best Children’s Books of 2019, chosen by Arts Editor Alex O’Connell and has been longlisted for the 2020 Branford Boase award! We’re so delighted to see this wonderful book go from strength to strength!

Greg Leadbetter is a contributor to the Arena experimental documentary ‘Everything is Connected: George Eliot’s Life’, directed by the Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing, broadcast on BBC Four and available on catch-up; and in conversation with Alys Fowler, on poetry, the city and the natural world, in One to One, broadcast on Radio 4 (and thereafter available on BBC Sounds.)

Maisie Chan has released a new book: Stories From Around The World, which is a book of familiar and lesser-known fairy tales, myths and legends from around the world. Congratulations Maisie!

Categories: News