News and Opportunities for Writers: January 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.



Our friends at Nine Arches Press and West Midlands Readers Network have organised a Poetry Spa at the newly-opened Poetry Pharmacy on 18th January 2020! Enjoy a wonderfully inspiring day devoted to poetry with the ‘Emergency Poet’ Deborah AlmaSuzannah Evans author of Near Future and former Poet Laureate of Birmingham Roz Goddard in these fabulous surroundings. For more information or to book your tickets (with afternoon tea and cake included) 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 2020 is open for entries until Monday 3 February at 11am.

Birmingham publisher The Emma Press is looking for poetry pamphlets and children’s poetry collections. Send in 6 pages of poems to judges Emma Dai’an Wright and Edward van de Vendel before 24th January 2020. There’s a £10 entry fee.

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 Open to published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers.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.


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.


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.

Room 204’s Naomi Paul is on the line up for PILOT nights at Warwick Arts Centre on 13 November 2019! Ticket information can be found here.

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. 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.)

Categories: News