I’ve moved this blog to The Write Place and I’d love you to pop over and see what I’m up to there.
The South African Centre of International PEN (SA PEN) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award.
The award for original short stories in English by African authors attracted an unprecedented 827 entries, 625 of which met with the rules of entry. Just under 200 stories were longlisted, and 34 stories were chosen as finalists by the PEN Editorial Board comprising Shaun Johnson (Chair), Anthony Fleischer, Justin Fox, Harry Garuba, Alistair King and Mary Watson. Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee is currently judging the shortlisted stories and will choose the winners of the first (£5 000), second (£3 000) and third (£2 000) prizes. The winners will be announced in May 2009. (Details regarding the announcement will be posted on www.sapen.co.za in due course.) The finalists’ stories will be included in an anthology of new writing from Africa to be published later this year.
The writers and their stories to have been selected as finalists for the Pen/Studzinski Literary Award 2009 are:
Ken Barris – The life of Worm; Nadia Davids – The visit; Ceridwen Dovey – Survival mechanisms; Joan du Toit – An informed decision; Graham Ellis – No match for Fanie Smith; Rosemund J Handler – Strident night; Jeanne Hromnik – Love In troubled times; Karen Jayes – Where he will leave his shoes; Suzanne Jordaan – Beulah; Bobby Jordan – Metalhead and Situation Orange; Chisanga Kabinga – Display cabinet; Ken N Kamoche – A kiss in Nanjing; Yvette Kruger – What I wore; Lauri Kubuitsile – Pulani’s eyes; Beatrice Lamwaka – The star in my camp; Jennifer Lean – To each his own; Irene McCartney – Pauline’s ghost; Jenna Mervis – The lives of dogs; Kirsten Miller – Only in art; NoViolet Mkha Bulawayo – Snapshots; Wame Molefhe – Rainbow-coloured dreams; Natasha Moodley – Spirit of Madala; Isabella Morris – Bluette; Kyne Nislev Bernstorff – The last supper; Naomi Nkealah – In the name of peace; Maik Nwosu – In Leopardville; Tolu Ogunlesi – River Falling; Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi – Area boy rescue; Andrew Salomon – A visit to Dr Mamba; Alex Smith – Soulmates;Dineke Volschenk – Glorious wounds; Phillippa Yaa de Villiers – Keeping everything the same; Hayet Z – Flypapered days
The PEN/STUDZINSKI Literary Award has replaced the HSBC/SA PEN Literary Award and aims to encourage new creative writing in Africa. It is open to all citizens of African countries writing in English, and offers talented writers on the continent an exciting opportunity to develop or launch a literary career. www.sapen.co.za
Contests are a fabulous way to announce your presence on the local writing scene. If you are placed in a contest, it helps you to establish a writing cv or bio that many publications require and it also boosts your confidence. Not having a publishing record can be intimidating for beginner writers, but don’t allow yourself to be disheartened. A story well told will be enjoyed by an editor or contest reader.
WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
It is important to be selective about which contests you enter. Without diligent research you could end up sending entries that don’t comply with the rules. If a publication says they only want fiction entries, then that is all they want. They will summarily reject poetry and non-fiction entries, no matter how brilliant they might be. A recent local contest received hundreds of entries, but about a hundred of them were rejected because the entrants did not comply with the rules. If a rule states that you have to be a citizen of Burramunga to enter, then that’s the rule, don’t waste your time or the contest organisers’ time by submitting anything to them.
If you’re serious about entering contests then you need to establish which ones are suitable for the genre that you write in. Good resources can be found in comprehensive listings in publications like The Writer’s Yearbook and Writer’s Market UK available at good bookstores, and obviously, the internet. Many writing sites have a listing of writing contests.
The best way to ensure that you enter the competitions that you are able to comply with, is to have a Contest Plan. In November/December every year, I spend about a week researching contests online and in the Writer’s Yearbook and Writer’s Market. I make a list of those I want to enter by listing them according to the earliest closing date. I cut and paste the submission rules of each into a Word document entitled Contests 2009. At the beginning of every month I see what’s coming up, trying to read three months in advance. If I feel that there is a contest I want to enter then I print that contest’s details and put it into the plastic folder. Date order is essential because at a glance I am able to see what’s coming up. Being forewarned, so to speak, gives me time to consider what story I would like to write, it also gives me a chance to check through unpublished work for a suitable story. This list is invaluable and can be added to throughout the year if new contests appear. It also provides a template for the following year.
KEEP A SEPARATE FOLDER
I have a plastic see through box where I keep all research material, contest rules and drafts of competition entries, this cuts out the confusion of having to remember where I have filed an article or an idea.
JOT DOWN IDEAS
In the plastic folder I keep a notebook for ideas that I want to jot down. An idea don’t remember itself, if you don’t write it down, consider that idea a cigarette that you enjoyed, but once it’s gone up in smoke, you can’t reclaim it. If all your ideas and rules and research are centrally located you won’t waste time.
If you’re going to be a serious contest entrant then you need to keep track of which submissions you’ve made to which publications. Many contests do not accept simultaneous submissions, i.e. it’s not protocol to send the same entry to several competitions at the same time. Knowing where your stories are is essential. A good idea is to download manuscript management software. The best tracker that I’ve found is SAMM which is completely free and downloadable at this link. It’s fabulous because you can customise it according to your needs and it’s unobtrusive. You can enter all your manuscripts, you can enter markets and market types. It’s a no-fuss application that will alert you with follow-ups if you so require.
Before you send your entry, make a checklist from the rules sheet. Have you double-spaced your entry? Must you include your name on the manuscript or mustn’t you? Have you included your contact details? It is so easy to avoid silly mistakes by using a checklist, but remember to be flexible because different contests have different criteria, some want three copies of an entry and others require only a single copy. Some contests allow email entries, others do not. Make it your business to establish the rules for your checklist.