This week I was delighted to attend the presentation of the prize for the Jo Powell Memorial Writing Competition at Edge Hill University.  Jo, a highly-respected creative writing tutor at the university died of a brain haemorrhage in May 2011 and the £1,000 prize was set up by family and friends to reward the best short crime story written by a student.  I was one of the judges and the award went to 24-year-old James Harker with Gary A Love Story.  James, originally from Weymouth, studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and is now working on the Young Writer Programme at the Everyman and Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool.  He’s definitely a writer to watch.  I’m a fan of competitions.  My first novel was published as a result of entering one, in my case a prize organised by Commonword community publishers for the best North West debut.  That was Sal Kilkenny’s debut and helped launch my writing career.  It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that writing is a really tough field to break into.  Finding an agent, getting a publishing deal, getting another one after that are all very difficult to achieve.  Entering competitions can be a  great way to discipline yourself so you finish work, meet deadlines and send stuff out.  They provide an opportunity to make a mark and get recognition for your work and if you’re successful they’re a real boost to your confidence and your profile.  There are lots of places to find out about writing competitions and a quick search online led me to these: 

Good luck.