Once all the present wrapping and turkey cooking are over, someone may just possibly suggest a game of Scrabble. But if you want to think up more than one word at a time, and use any letters of the alphabet you like, you could, instead, dive off into a corner and get writing.
For UK-based women writers over 21, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, is once again running its annual fiction prize. The 2014 judges (agent, Madeleine Milburn and academic, Lindsey Traub) are looking for work at marries literary merit with “unputdownability”. Literary and genre fiction are welcomed equally. You’re asked to submit the first 30 pages of your novel, plus a synopsis, and entry costs £10.
The closing date is 12th March 2014, and all those shortlisted are invited to a prize-giving dinner on May 22nd. The overall winner receives £1,000, and all those shortlisted will be offered a half-hour consultation with Madeleine Milburn. 2013’s winner, Catherine Chanter, and shortlisted entrant, Karen Ross, both now have book deals. For full details, please visit Lucy Cavendish’s website.
If there’s too much washing up to do, and no time to rustle up 30 paragraphs, let alone 30 pages, you might also consider Flashbang – Crimefest’s flash fiction prize, where the challenge is to squeeze a crime story into 150 words. I can imagine this making an excellent parlour game around a blazing fire, over a glass or two of… Ah, yes, mustn’t forget to actually come up with the story. Entry is only £2, and first prize is two weekend passes to Crimefest 2015 (so plenty of time to get ready). Closing date for entries is 3 March 2014 and winners will be announced at next year’s Crimefest, at Bristol in May. For full details, please click here.