Cruel Spring, Cruel Summer!


By Cynthia C. Huijgens

After enduring months of lockdown and with on-going travel restrictions, you might be feeling nostalgic like me. Pining for familiar things, procrasti-baking, and singing old pop tunes like that summer hit of 1983 by English girl band Bananarama. You remember: “It’s a cruel, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own…It’s a cruel, it’s a cruel, summer…”

And why not have a gloomy outlook? Many experts are forecasting a second wave of Covid-19 infection that could signal a return of those dreaded lockdown restrictions. “I sit around, trying to smile but the air is so heavy and dry…” Yah, those lyrics are looping through my head.

But maybe you’re nostalgia doesn’t stretch so far back. Maybe you’ve got Taylor Swift’s 2019 chart topping hit of the same name piercing your post-Covid thoughts? “Fever dream high, in the quiet of the night, you know that I caught it.” It’s almost scary isn’t it? Things that once made you want to pull your hair out have come to represent something else, a mental escape. Who could have predicted such a cruel spring, and now a cruel summer? “Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes, what doesn’t kill me…” Okay, enough of pop lyrics.

The threat of Covid-19 remains real and we need to play safe this summer if we are to ride our way through it. The infection continues to disrupt our daily lives in myriad ways and many of us won’t be back to BWC and Maison des Crepes until things are more settled.  Instead of singing schlocky 80s pop songs, I suggest a return to writing may be our greatest escape? 

I polled a number of BWC members and asked them to share where they spent lockdown, how they coped with the restrictions, and how the lockdown enabled or disabled their creative writing process.  Here’s what they had to say:

“I have been in my home in Brussels. The lockdown has been an enabling force for my writing and I have been very focused and productive. Ceasing my social activities, and not having to prepare and commute to work has created additional time for me to write, read and contemplate. I will finish the first draft of a manuscript in the coming weeks and get started on a novel, the idea of which has been lingering in my mind for a long time.  I have also written short stories and am preparing an Amazon publication of my novel ‘She, the island’, which went out in Bulgaria in 2017.  I guess all of this will keep me busy to the end of the year!””

“I sheltered in my apartment in Brussels with my boyfriend and cat.  Being cooped-up was a challenge for me as it sapped my ability to concentrate.  Also, allowing work and study to invade the physical space where I usually write was counterproductive. My goal is to write five new chapters before the end of the year.”

“I sheltered in a two bedroom apartment with my wife and two-year old daughter. My wife and I split childcare during the day, allowing each of us to get about a half-a-day’s work in. I wrote perhaps twenty fragmentary lines of poetry – not finished pieces – and nothing in my personal diary. That journal writing seems the most urgent to catch-up with.  My plan for the year is to collect the last ten years of work into a collection that I can share with my writing contacts. I want to submit more pieces than I usually do. And then, I have absolutely no idea what is ahead for my writing.”

“I was locked at home in the Matongue Quartier of Brussels in a house without a garden. I passed from writing in the evenings to writing in the early morning. The first few days I wrote a few short stories and later on I turned my focus to writing in my diary. Work became very intense with too many videoconferences.  I decided to change for a while to handwriting with, I think, successful results. I will put my diary in order for possible publication. Also, I would like to write a couple text on a different subject to ‘clean the brain’ of the many reflections about the pandemic.”

“I’m keeping inside unless I have a good reason to go out. We’re privileged in our big flat with only two cats to take care of. I’ve had some time to rethink how I want to handle my writing in terms of representation/publishing, and decided to have my manuscript copy-edited, but first perhaps a manuscript assessment. I’m currently taking part in Jericho’s online Summer Festival of Writing and absolutely loving it.”

“The crisis reached me in Detroit, Michigan on 11th of March while attending an international conference on Human Resources. Flights were stopped and it took me at least 10 days before I could return to Brussels. Being the responsible European Commission person for corporate teleworking (telecommuting) rules, I was landed with an incredibly arduous task: trying to accommodate some 30,000 expats working in Brussels, Luxembourg and 7 other sites across different European countries- each one with his/her own family problem, all looking for some sort of quick solution, amidst quarantine laws, sick elderly parents, living afar from spouse and children, transport between countries blocked, staff having family sometimes affected by the virus. Anyhow, we managed thanks to my dedicated team but it was an experience I would really not wish on anybody. As you can imagine, this affected my whole life profoundly including my writing practice, which since then has been practically non-existent.

Something worth celebrating: the English translation of my second novel was published in the UK at the end of April but sadly I haven’t had the time nor energy to promote it. I do hope in the next couple of months to catch up with this as a priority. Lastly, I sent a short story written long before the crisis to a UNESCO competition in Greece (deadline for submissions: 20th of July). I do hope to go back to some writing in the next couple of months, but it will all depend on how the crisis evolves.”

Thanks to Mimi Kunz, Xavier Queipo, Irina Papancheva, Ross Noble, Karmen Spiljak, Dimitris Politis and M.E. Grey for their contributions. BWC continues to meet via Zoom on Thursdays and on Tuesdays throughout the summer in Brussels parks and outdoor spaces.  I’ll leave you with this: “It’s a cruel, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own…It’s a cruel, it’s a cruel, summer…” Stay safe out there!

Weekly BWC Tuesday Workshop On Hold


Dear BWC-ers,

With everyone’s health, safety, and wellbeing in mind, we will be putting the weekly Tuesday workshop on hold given the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ll let you know when we’ll be resuming the workshop. After the Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced the closing of schools bars, and restaurants last night, we’re hoping to resume the workshop in April when bars and restaurant will be open again.

If you signed up as a reader or contacted us about signing up, we will be in touch with you about it.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Take care and stay safe,
Claire & Anastasia

Brussels Writers’ Circle launches new anthology at three Brussels events


The Circle 19: a Brussels Anthology is the third collection to mine the talent of the Brussels Writers’ Circle. It showcases twenty-seven writers representing fourteen countries. Some of the award winning authors included in The Circle 19: a Brussels Anthology are: Patrick ten Brink (Germany), TD Arkenberg (USA), Irina Papancheva (Bulgaria), Niamh Moroney (Ireland), Xavier Quiepo (Spain), and Teodora Lalova (Bulgaria).

If you like science fiction, you’ll love Zoheb Mashiur’s Brand New Me or Karmen Spiljak’s The Collectors. Romance? Check out Katja Knezveic’s The Dinner. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or contemporary poetry, you should definitely read Larisa Doctorow’s The Immortal Regiment, or ME Grey’s Impact Pathway Metric.

Please join members and friends of the Brussels Writers’ Circle to celebrate this latest literary project at one of these upcoming events:

26 November, 17:30 – 19:00, Waterstone’s Bookshop, Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan 71-7 (Facebook event);

30 November, 19:00 – 21:00, Muntpunt Grand Café, Leopoldsraat 2 (Facebook event);

14 December, 19:00 – 21:00, Are We Europe, Boulevard Barthélémy 20.

To request wholesale copies of The Circle 19: a Brussels Anthology for your store, please contact Cynthia Huijgens at +32 (0) 470 326335. For more information about any of the above events, please email your query to

Thank you for supporting Brussels-based writers!

Meet the Circle: Mimi Kunz

The members of the Brussels Writers’ Circle are a varied bunch. Prose writers, poets, playwrights, memoirists, screenwriters and bringers of silly bits and pieces, we sweep in from all different occupations and locations twice a week to share our writing with one another.

This week we will hear from Mimi Kunz, an artist-writer who works with ink and paper. Her drawings, installations, and her writing link things in simple forms to open up poetic ambiguity. After a post MA at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, she joined her love in Brussels, where she founded Something Beautiful, a festival that brings together visual art and poetry.  Visit her website for more information or sign up for invitations for her exhibitions and readings.

When did you join the group?


Mimi Kunz – portrait by Maite Morren

Shortly after moving to Brussels in 2015… I think I googled “Brussels“ and “English Literature“ and the BWC came up

What were your first impressions of the group?
I liked the variety of people, the ease and sincerity of the session, the open atmosphere What have you published so far? poems, short stories, flash, some pieces for the Brussels Express.

What are you currently working on?
Poems and a novel about a time jumper and an angel.

IMG_20190325_171614Who are your biggest literary influences?
How have they influenced you?  Seymour, an Introduction by J.D. Salinger made a huge impression on me. I love the form, it’s immediacy and intimacy, and the way it talks about what writing is and can be. I love Ali Smith’s writing, the liveliness and the art in it.

I learn a lot from reading her, though I cannot say what exactly. The interactions between characters are life-like and funny and pull you into the moment, there are notions so true and familiar it makes you stop reading and then the story just skips along, not lingering long. It feels very fluid, full of life.

Do you have a memorable moment from the BWC that you could share?
I recently found a note in my coat pocket that said: ‘if in doubt add an orgy’. It was written by another BWC member during Lida and my workshop on love scenes in fiction during a BWC retreat. It made me laugh and made it into a short story.

What do you get out of the group?
Pleasure, inspiring exchanges, a sense of community.

International writing competitions 2019 – part 2

Here is our selection of writing competitions for the second half of 2019. Do check individual website for details. Best of luck!

Buzzword Poetry Competition
Theme: Open
Word limit: 70 lines
Entry fee: per post £4 per poem or 3 poems for £10, per email £4.35, two poems £8.70, three poems £11
Prize: 1st prize £600, 2nd prize £300, 5 x commended £50
Deadline: August 24, 2019

Aesthetica Creative Writing 
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 2000 words for stories and 40 lines for poems
Entry fee: Short Fiction: £18 | Poetry: £12
Prize: 1st prize £1000 for poetry and short fiction, consultation with literary agents Redhammer Management, Membership to The Poetry Society, a subscription to Granta and books courtesy of Bloodaxe and Vintage.
Deadline: August 31, 2019

Shore Script Screenwriting
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 2000 words for stories and 40 lines for poems
Entry fee: TBC
Prize totalling: $20,000
Deadline: August 31, 2019

Manchester Fiction Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: 2,500 words
Entry fee: £17.50
Prize: 1st prize £10,000
Deadline: September 20, 2019

Imison Award
Original radio plays by writers new to radio
Word limit: 2,500 words
Entry fee: £30
Prizes: £2,000
Deadline: September 30, 2019

Mslexia Women’s Fiction Awards (short story, flash, novel, monologue)
Theme: Short story
Word limit: 2,500 words
Entry fee: TBC
Prizes: £10,000 + prize pot
Deadline: September 30, 2019

Mighty River Short Story
Theme: Open
Word limit: Max 30 pages
Entry fee: $20
Prizes: $10,000 + prize pot & publication in an issue of Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley
Deadline: October 1, 2019

Zoetrope All-Story Short Fiction Competition
Theme: Open
Word limit: 1,000 – 5,000 words
Entry fee: $15
Prizes: 1st prize $1,000, 2nd prize $500, 3rd prize $250 and publication
Deadline: October 1, 2019

Troubadour International Poetry Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: poems must be max 45 lines long
Entry fee: £6/€7/$7.50 for 1st poem (£4/€5/$5 for subsequent entries)
Prize: 1st prize £2,000, 2nd prize £1,000, 3rd prize £500
Deadline: October 21, 2019

Tulip Tree Review Genre Contest
Theme: Open
Word limit: 10,000 words
Entry fee: $20
Prize: $1,000 and publication
Deadline: October 23, 2019

John Steinbeck Award for Fiction 
Theme: Open
Word limit: 5,000 words
Entry fee: $20
Prize: $1,000
Deadline: November 1, 2019

Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: unpublished poetry collections, over 48 pages
Entry fee: $25
Prize: $3,000
Deadline: November 15, 2019

VanderMey Nonfiction Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: 5,500 words
Entry fee: $20
Prize: $1,500
Deadline: November 15, 2019

Bath Children’s Novel Award
Theme: Open
Word limit: first 5000 words & synopsis
Entry fee: £25
Prize: £2,500, manuscript feedback
Deadline: November 17, 2019

Fish Short Story Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: 5,000 words
Entry fee: €20, (€12 subsequent entries)
Prize: 1st €3000, 2nd €300 & a week at Anam Cara Writers’ Retreat, 3rd €300, honourable mentions €200.
Deadline: November 30, 2019
Publication: Fish Anthology

Aeon Award
Theme: fantasy, science fiction, horror or anything in-between or unclassifiable
Word limit: Max. 10,000 words
Entry fee: €8.5
Prize: 1st €1000, 2nd €200, 3rd €100
Deadline: November 30, 2019
Publication: Albedo One

Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction
Theme: Open
Word limit: max 30 pages
Entry fee: $2
Prize: $1,000 & publication
Deadline: December 1, 2019

Cafe Writers’ Open Poetry
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 40 lines
Entry fee: £4, £10 for three, £2 each extra
Prize: £1,000, £300, £200, 5 x £50
Deadline: December 1, 2019

Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition
Theme: Open
Word limit: 1,000 words
Entry fee: £15
Prize: £1,000 & commission to write further 4 short stories
Deadline: December 1, 2019

Futurescapes Writing Contest
Theme: TBA
Word limit: 8,000 words
Entry fee:  n/a
Prize: $2,000 and publication, 5 x $500
Deadline: December 31, 2019

Magic Oxygen Literary Prize
Theme: TBA
Word limit: 4,000 words, poetry up to 50 lines
Entry fee: £5
Prize: £1,000, £300, £100, £50 two highly commended
Deadline: December 31, 2019

Moth Poetry Prize 2019
Theme: TBA
Word limit: n/a
Entry fee: €15
Prize: €10,000, 3 x €1,000 & publication in The Moth
Deadline: December 31, 2019

BWC offshoot in Brazil

Brussels is one of those cities with a high flux of people. Because of this, the Brussels Writers’ Circle gets plenty of new members and occasionally loses some.

When I learned I was going to move to Brazil, some of the hardest things to leave behind were the people and meetings, that helped me grow so much as a writer. I started looking for a writers’ group in São Paulo, my new home. To my surprise, this was easier said than done. In a city of 15 million, I struggled to find a single English speaking writer’s group.

Would I manage four years without a writers’ circle? I decided that this would be very difficult. If there wasn’t an English speaking writer’s circle in São Paulo, then I would open one. I signed up for one of those expat platforms and opened a writers’ group there. The beginnings were slow, but promising. Some amends had to be made to fit in the Latin time and spirit, but for the rest, the group slowly started to grow. Along with two other female writers, a French person and a Brazilian, I started to organise different activities, using the BWC format.

Eight months later, we’re around fifteen regular members. We meet twice a month in a Latin American-style restaurant that offers great snacks and some pretty mean cocktails. Tuesdays, when we meet, are also known as two-for-one mojito nights. The group is a mix of Brazilians and expats from different walks of life, from their mid-twenties to their eighties. This makes for a lively palette of experiences and opinions, as we support each other in our efforts to write better.

Results so far?

Many new chapters, stories and poems. One member, who insisted he couldn’t write, especially not fiction, wrote several chapters of his memoirs and one short story. Poets shared their poems for the first time and got encouraging feedback. We exchanged helpful resources, did a workshop on descriptions, entered competitions, created a very active WhatsApp group and got to know each other through writing. Most of all, we’re having a lot of fun. Isn’t that an essential part of writing?

This isn’t the only offshoot of the Brussels Writers’ Circle, as Berlin got its own one about half a year ago. In this way, BWC can continue to inspire and support writers, wherever they move.

Karmen Spiljak is a Slovenian-Belgian writer living in São Paulo.

Time to get an editor?

If you’re a writer, you might come to a point when you want someone to take a look at your work. Someone who isn’t your friend, a spouse or a family member. Ideally, someone who knows about storytelling and can deliver constructive feedback.

Luckily, there was an editor at the Brussels Writers’ Circle meetings. Chris Dupuis is a Canadian writer, editor, and curator, based in Brussels. He has worked with several BWC members and helped them improve their manuscripts. He has also contributed text to uptight art magazines, gay travel guides, obscure poetry collections, and expansive theatrical encyclopaedias.

If you’re in doubt whether to bring in an editor or not, or when to do it, this double interview with Chris and a writer Karmen Spiljak, might help.

Why did you want to work with an external editor on the project?

Karmen: After being deep inside my story for a few months, I wanted to get an outside perspective on different aspects of the novel, from the storyline to sentence structure, characters and style. Getting unbiased critical feedback was crucial to be able to move on to the next stage. This is why I decided to look for an editor.

At what stage should a writer consider getting an editor?

Chris: An editor can come in at different points in the process. It may be when you’re preparing to send your project to publishers or agents. It may be early on, when you have a great idea but you’re struggling to articulate it. Or it may be somewhere in the middle, when you’ve been working on something for a while but find yourself confused or losing motivation.

An effective editor can assist you at any of these points. What’s important, I think, is the variety of techniques an editor has available to them to do this. When I’m working with a writer, my central task it to figure out what this particular person needs at this particular point in this particular process, and do my best to give it to them. That might be expanding the range of inspiration (“Look at this book/film/TV show…”). It might be some tough love (“This part really doesn’t work and we need to cut it”.) It might just be saying, “You’re doing fine. Keep going!”

An editor can also give a writer something incredibly useful—a deadline. I’ve had a number of writers bring me in at different points in a process in order to give them the push they need to finish a specific section. The goal at that point isn’t to make it perfect. It’s just to get some words on the page so you have a starting point to work from.

What did an editor bring to the process?

Karmen: Quite a few things. A fresh point of view and a micro perspective that helped me rethink certain aspects of the story. Questions, like why I chose this particular point of view, why I chose to write in the past tense instead of the present, and so on, made me re-evaluate certain decisions that I’d already made and reverse them.

As it turned out, just changing the point of view and tense made a massive change to the whole story and helped make it better. I also started to read my work from a different perspective, zooming in on specific sentences and revising descriptions and dialogue, so they would give more backstory.

What are the things that editing/editor cannot do?

Chris: One of the best analogies I’ve come across for an editor is a midwife; a person who helps you through a birthing process. They can give you advice, hold your hand, listen to your screams, and encourage you to push forward. But they can’t have the baby for you. That’s something only you can do. As an editor, I can give all sorts of support around a process. But I’m not writing the piece for you. It’s your baby, and you have to birth it.

Different editors follow different processes. But I always try to work in a way where I’m supporting you in the thing you want to make, rather than trying to convince you to make the thing I want you to make. Some of my work can be about clarification, pointing out inconsistencies in a story or points where things are over/under-explained. Why is a character doing this thing and not another? In Chapter 6 the reality of the world is one way, but in Chapter 8 it’s totally different. What is the reason for that change?

Sometimes writers can get confused about the geography of the spaces or environments they are creating. In one paragraph the window is next to the door, in the next it’s on the opposite side of the room; two characters are standing beside each other and then suddenly they’re five meters apart. Usually, there are reasons for inconsistencies like this—things need to be a certain way to make the action move forward. An effective editor can help you maintain the narrative structure you want, while making sure the reader isn’t confused by the basic story elements.

An editor can also be useful in helping you create consistent characters. Sometimes a writer will create a character that’s supposed to be 18, but speaks like they’re 30. This sort of thing usually isn’t an accident; there’s a reason for the dichotomy. Perhaps they have the intellect of a 30 year old but the vulnerability of an 18 year old? If so, how can help you show both while rendering a believable character? A good editor can help you pinpoint these things and figure out how to use them to your advantage, while keeping the story intact.

What is usually your biggest challenge when editing?

Chris:  Feedback on any creative work is largely subjective, so one of the big challenges is striking a balance between your personal tastes and what the writer is trying to achieve. For me, the starting point of any writing relationship is critical. When a writer approaches me about a project, I’ll ask for a short excerpt, maybe 8-10 pages, and look at it to see if I find it interesting. If I can quickly see I’m not the audience for it, I’ll let them know I’m the wrong person to work with. If the text does resonate with me, the next step will be to give the writer some feedback and see how they respond. If the writer likes what I have to say, it’s a sign we’re well matched and we should start working together.

What do you think a writer should look for in an editor?

Karmen: Someone they can trust. Ideally, they should look for a person with expertise in storytelling or literature who understands their genre. Though an editor won’t be your best friend, it should be someone you feel comfortable talking to, someone who isn’t afraid to challenge your writing to help you get to the next level.

International writing competitions 2019 – part 1

Ready for new writing challenges? So are we! Here’s our selection of short stories and competition for the first half of 2019. Most of the competitions listed below accept only submissions that haven’t been published anywhere else. Do check individual website for details.

Best of luck!

Mogford Food and drinks short story prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: 2,500
Entry fee: £10 per submission
Prize: £10000
Deadline: January 7, 2019

2019 Let down your hair – Speculative Contest
Theme: Open
Word limit: 1,800
Entry fee: $32.95 per submission
Prize: 1st prize $1000, 2nd prize $150
Deadline: January 20, 2019

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: Max. 3,000 12 double-spaced pages
Entry fee: $25 per submission ($15 NCWN members)
Prize: $1000
Deadline: January 30, 2019
Publication: The Thomas Wolfe Review

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition
Theme: Open
Word limit: 2,000
First Prize: Writing course of their choice (valued at £1000)
Deadline: February 13, 2019
Publication: Winner published on

Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: 2,000
First Prize: €1000 & A week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation & A consultation with a US Literary Agent from Foundry Literary + Media.
Deadline: February 14, 2019, 2nd and 3rd prize: €250
Publication: Winner published in limited edition Risograph booklet

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2019
Theme: Open
Word limit: 3,000
Entry fee: £7
Prize: 1st prize £700,  2nd prize £250, 3rd prize £100
Deadline: February 28, 2019
Multiple entries permitted: Yes
Publication: Exeter Writers website

The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction 2019
Theme: Open
Word limit: 2,500 – 12,500
Entry fee: $15 per story
First Prize: $2000
Deadline: March 14, 2019
Publication: Fall/Winter 2019 edition of Colorado Review

The Bath Short Story Award
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 2,200
Entry fee: £8 per story
Prizes: 1st prize £1200, 2nd prize £300, 3rd prize £100
Deadline: April 15, 2019
Publication: The Bath Short Story Award 2019 Anthology

Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 3,000
Entry fee: $16
Prize: 1st prize $2,000, 2nd prize $500, 3rd prize $300
Deadline: April 30, 2019
Multiple entries permitted: 3 submissions max.
Publication: Winner published in Glimmer Train Stories
Extra information: This competition is open twice a year  – the other deadline is August 31

Momaya Press Short Story Award
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 3,000
Entry fee: £15 per story
Prize: 1st prize $150, 2nd prize $75, 3rd prize $55 (plus one copy of the Momaya Short Story Review 2019)
Deadline: April 30, 2019
Publication: Momaya Short Story Review 2019.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction Contest
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 6,000
Entry fee: $20  per entry
Prize: 1st prize $2,000, 10 Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each
Deadline: April 30, 2019

Bristol Short Story Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 4,000
Entry fee: £9 per entry
Prizes: 1st prize £1000, 2nd prize £500, 3rd prize £250
Deadline: May 1, 2019
Publication: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology (Volume 12)

Raymond Carver Short Story Contest
Prizes: 1st prize $1,500, 2nd prize $500, 3rd prize $250
Deadline: May 15, 2019
Publication: Annual fall issue in October.

The Bridport Short Story Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: up to 5,000
Entry fee: £10 per entry
Prizes: 1st prize £5000, 2nd prize £1000, 3rd prize £500
Deadline: May 31, 2019
Publication: Bridport Prize 2019 Anthology
Extra information: Also includes poetry and flash fiction categories

Moth Short Story Prize
Theme: Open
Word limit: 5,000
Entry fee: £12 per story
Prizes: 1st prize £3,000, 2nd prize €250, 3rd prize €1,000
Deadline: June 30, 2019
Publication: The Moth

Highlands and Islands Short Story Competition
Theme: Open
Word limit: 2000
Entry fee: £5 (or 3 stories for £12 or 5 for £18)
Prizes: 1st prize £250, 2nd prize £50, 3rd prize £25
Deadline: July 31, 2019
Publication: Online only (HISSAC website)

Writers’ Forum Short Story Competition
Theme: Open
Word limit: 1000-3000 words
Entry fee: £6 (or £3 for subscribers)
Prizes: 1st prize £300, 2nd prize £150, 3rd prize £100
Deadline: Rolling
Multiple entries permitted: Yes
Publication: Published in Writers’ Forum Magazine
Extra information: Also includes poetry and flash-fiction competitions

Have more competitions you would like to add? Great! Leave a comment and share the link to more information.

Disclaimer: we cannot speak for the legitimacy of any of these competitions. They all seem bona fide, but we advise that you check the individual websites to make up your own mind!

A Brussels winter’s tale

This short story is meant to be read in the future, perhaps in bed on a rainy night. When the mind wonders down memory lane, when recollections come to warm us up, to fill us with nostalgia, joy and hope. So, here it goes.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. It was the autumn of hope in Brussels, on a cool and crisp 22nd of November evening, year A.D. 2018.

The clock hands showed 7 in the evening. Waterstones bookshop in Brussels was extraordinarily busy that night. The second floor was packed with eagerness and anticipation as invitees, visitors and passers-by awaited the launch of the second Anthology of the Brussels Writers Circle. The enthusiastic audience soaked up spoken extracts from the accomplished works of:

  • Colin Walsh: The Flare Carving Itself through the Dark
  • Jeanie Keogh: If at First You Don’t Succeed
  • Cynthia Huijgens: The Things We Do For Love
  • Klavs Skovsholm: Belle of the Ball
  • T.D. Arkenberg: Aftershock
  • S.R. Harris: Sightings
  • Jay Harold: Corn Bread and Iced Tea
  • Patrick ten Brink: The Half-Apple

There was camaraderie, there was wit and laughter, there were friendly exchanges and chat and signing each other’s copies. There was delight for those who managed to make it from afar.

There was sadness and nostalgia for those who didn’t. There was speculation, there was aspiration: what about a new Anthology? The BWC Anthology number 3?… But that is another tale. As I said in the beginning, this is just a short story meant to be read in a comfy bed in an old house on a rainy night.