Saturday 24 October 2020

An interview with another of our Waterloo winners.


 Today I'm talking to Jeanne Davies.

  What do you write? Why this in particular

Since first picking up an anthology by John Wyndham in the school library, I became eager to read and later to write short stories. There is something about the form which encourages the reader to want to reach the end without putting it down, like the challenge of taking a breath and swimming under water for the whole length of a pool.


 What writers have inspired you?

As a child my mother enjoyed reading dark tales like those of Edgar Allan Poe, which frankly terrified me! I enjoyed a lighter read like the stories of Oscar Wilde, the Selfish Giant still reduced me to tears when I read it to the children later in life, as did the Velveteen rabbit. I admire the writings and imagination of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, who in their way have all inspired me to write.


When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?

Although I have had countless short stories published in anthologies over the years, I have still found it difficult to call myself a writer. Since having my own anthology of short stories Drawn by the Sea published by Bridgehouse in July 2020, I have on a few occasions plucked up the courage to tell people I’m an author, but it still feels like I’m blowing my own trumpet!! I really cannot thank Gill James enough for suggesting the anthology and her tireless energy and hard work in publishing it; with Martin and Debz they are an amazing team, a fantastic independent publisher.


Do you have a dedicated place to write?

Inspiration for most of my stories comes from walking my dog in places of natural beauty that are open to the sky, whether it’s sapphire blue or the most miserable grey. I find that exploring magnificent green spaces or wandering along the seashore with the serenity and chaos of the ocean allows the imagination to be free. Of course it helps to have a voice recorder in my pocket to remember thoughts and, as you can see from the photo below, I usually rush home and write notes with my canine companion taking an interest … well actually, she usually gets bored and snores beneath the table!


Now, about your story. 


Tell me about your story in the collection

I first entered the Waterloo Short story competition in 2019 with Everything has Changed, which was in response to the anthology’s theme of Changing Being. It is a story about grief and coming to terms with the inevitable change associated with it. The theme for the anthology Changing Communities for 2020 inspired Utopian Trend. My daughter, Katie, became vegetarian at thirteen and then two years ago became a strict Vegan; she has extraordinarily strong views, which I respect.This story explores how one person’s views and beliefs might be able to change communities, or even to change the world.

It is strange how sometimes stories evolve all on their own when mixing fact with fiction, the characters seem to take on their own personas as the story unfolds almost by itself. I often look back and wonder if I have actually written the stories at all, but the journeys were always such fun … like living lots of other lives.


Do you have any tips for new writers or writers seeking publication

Finding a place where you can be alone with your thoughts is essential in my case and a voice recorder can be a useful piece of equipment. I have a battery lighted pen in my bedside drawer, so I won’t disturb my husband if I wake in the middle of the night (which I often do) and need to make some notes. I have always been an avid reader and am never without a book on the go; I find when you read more it encourages you to write more. I would also recommend putting your stories out there by entering competitions from time to time.

Utopian Trend

Jeanne Davies



Melanie zigzagged down winding lanes, sunshine darting through beech trees onto her dusty window screen. A year had passed since she’d visited Sussex. She reminisced as she approached Burpham, a tiny village saddled to the back of the south downs, before veering off down the quiet lane where she was born. Claypit Lane had been developed, but Perrymead Cottage hadn’t changed. Dismissing cascades of tears, she marvelled at Dahlias, and lanky Foxgloves, all testimony to her mother’s gardening skills. Nearby Grove Farmhouse had been demolished and replaced by a huge grey building without windows, the adjoining horse-field a vast car park for supermarket lorries.

The heart-wrenching sound of cows as calves were taken still haunted her dreams. Melanie would gaze at fluffy white lambs bouncing in fields, innocently asking her mother why farmers couldn’t buy their meat at Sainsbury’s like they did. She became vegetarian at twelve, but soon realised this still condoned cows being forcefully impregnated for milk products, so she became vegan at sixteen. Over the years she discovered that being free-range wouldn’t save a hen’s life; as she aged, and her productivity decreased, her poor worn out body would be used in cheap chicken products like pies and pasties. One-day-old male chicks were destroyed because they couldn’t lay eggs. After investigating the dairy and meat producing industries, Melanie created Animal Utopia, with their slogan being “Freedom for anything with a face”.

Realising the time, she sped off in the direction of the crematorium hoping to see her mother before the service commenced. Visiting her parents over the past ten years had been sporadic since becoming head of Animal Utopia. She toured many countries giving lectures on how communities and their environments could be changed by veganism. After thirty years of campaigning, forsaking marriage and the chance of a family, she finally saw the fruits of her labours when the government started to pay farmers to produce more arable crops. The landscape in the countryside became transformed with the absence of chicken-coops, pigsties and cattle grazing in the fields.



Friday 23 October 2020

Write Time Short Story Competition

 Full details 

WriteTime Short Story Competitions
1. Entries must be in English.
2. Entries must be a maximum of 1500 words on any theme.
3. Entries must not have been published or accepted for publication elsewhere.
4. Entries submitted by post cannot be returned.
5. The closing date for entries during the rest of 2020 is 31 December. Winners will be notified within six weeks of the closing date.‬
6. By entering the competition you are agreeing to publication on the website. The results of the competition and the winning stories will be published at
7. Entering the competition gives Shoreham Press CIC the once-only permission to publish the story in the WriteTime anthology.
8. Extracts from stories may be used as examples of good practice in the WriteTime newsletter.
9. Entries will be judged anonymously and the judges will not know the name or gender of any author.
10. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
11. No corrections will be accepted or refunds given.
12. Copyright remains with the author.
13. Entries not complying with competition rules will be disqualified.
14. Submission of an entry or entries implies acceptance of these rules.
Submitting your entry
15. All entries must be prepaid.
16. Entries should be submitted through this website or by post. See How to Enter for full details.

L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future

 Full details 

Welcome to the Writers of the Future

The most enduring and influential contest in the history of SF and Fantasy

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the masters in the field and discovered by a wide audience.

No entry fee is required and entrants retain all publication rights.

Entries in the Writers of the Future Contest are adjudicated only by professional writers. Prizes of $1000, $750 and $500 are awarded every three months. From the four quarterly 1st Place winners each year, a panel of judges select one story as the grand prize winner. The writer of the grand-prize-winning story receives the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Pen Award and an additional $5000 cash prize.

Enter the Writer Contest

1st Quarter 2021
Deadline: December 31, 2020

This Contest will run from October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

Deadline is 11:59 p.m. December 31, 2020 Pacific Standard Time.


Blue Mountian Arts Poetry Contest

 Full details 

Blue Mountain Arts Announces Its Thirty-Seventh Biannual Poetry Contest
Deadline: December 31, 2020
1st prize: $350 * 2nd prize: $200 * 3rd prize: $100

In addition, the winning poems will be displayed on our website.
Please read the following, then scroll down to submit your poem.

Poetry Contest Guidelines

  1. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.

  2. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.

  3. Poems are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness.

  4. English-language entries only, please.

  5. Enter as often as you like!

Poetry Contest Rules

All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. The contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.

How to Submit

Simply complete the contest form below, or if you prefer, you may send a hard-copy* of your submission to us:

Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest
Editorial Department
P.O. Box 1007
Boulder, CO 80306

*Please do not send us the only copy of your work. If you'd like your entry material returned, enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Please label each submission with your name, mail address, phone number, and email address (if you have one).

Poetry Contest Submission Form

Name *
Address *
(Not required, but recommended)
(e.g. Mother, Love, Support, etc.)
I agree to the contest rules *

**All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. The contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.


Other Ways of Being


Other Ways of Being is my latest collection of short stories.  An earlier collection contained what I would call my “every day, real life stories”.  This one has stories in different settings: the supernatural, near future, fantasy and back in history. Hence the title.

Some of them have been published before.

We’re often asked “Where do you get your ideas from?” So here’s a list of what sparked the stories.

I forced myself to write a story that included the were-wolf / vampire conflict – but they went and fell in love.

I explored the backstory of a fantasy I’ve written for children.

A colleague made a chance remark that she could do with cloning herself so that she could get all of her work done. I wondered how that might work.

What if the infrastructure breaks down? 

How might an alien see our planet? This came from an exercise at Winchester cathedral when I was doing my MA.

A newspaper article about the disappearance of a couple on a boating holiday sparked an idea.

There was another newspaper article about a young man who had been living wild in the forests. I coupled that with similar stories I’d heard about people fleeing the Nazis that way in the 1930s and 1940s.

What would it be like to be the mind of a blue whale?

What happens when the money runs out?

And if we no longer use money how could we repurpose the old ATMs?

I noticed that religious people respect one another’s places of worship, even if they don’t believe the same things. Might churches then become a place of refuge?

What might we discover if we really could freeze people and bring them back to life?

What was it like in biblical times as those events we now know so well were actually happening? For instance, the journey of the Magi and the feeding of the five thousand?

What was that strange experience of telepathy all about?

They’re talking about driverless cars.  Let’s explore that and add a bit of spooky magic.

There you have them and I’ve written a heap more since then.  It’s always a matter of exploring the “what if”?

Saturday 17 October 2020

Girl in a Smart Uniform


"Girl in a Smart Uniform" is the third book in the Schellberg Cycle, a collection of novels inspired by a bundle of photocopied letters that arrived at a small cottage in Wales in 1979. The letters give us first-hand insights into what life was like growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is the most fictional of the stories to date, though some characters, familiar to those who have read the first two books, appear again here. Clara Lehrs, Karl Schubert and Dr Kühn really existed. We have a few, a very few, verifiable facts about them. The rest we have had to find out by repeating some of their experiences and by using the careful writer's imagination.

Gisela adores her brother Bear, her gorgeous BDM uniform, and her little half-brother Jens. She does her best to be a good German citizen, and is keen to help restore Germany to its former glory. She becomes a competent and respected BDM leader. But life begins to turn sour. Her oldest brother Kurt can be violent, she soon realises that she is different from other girls, she feels uncomfortable around her mother’s new lover, and there is something not quite right about Jens. It becomes more and more difficult to be the perfect German young woman.

We know that BDM girls set fire to the house in Schellberg Street but got the children out first. This story seeks to explain what motivated the girls to do that, and what happened to them afterwards.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Stories all day long

When I was still working at the University of Salford I remarked to a group of my colleagues that I actually enjoyed marking. They gave me a curious look.

Then one of them beamed. “Ah, that’s because you get to read lots of stories.”

He was right. I was marking mainly short stories, extract of novels for young adults and other bits of fiction for other young readers. Yes, there were also reflective commentaries, some essays, some bits of memoir and a few poems.  There were also stage, film and TV scripts; these also contain stories. So yes, about three quarters of what I was marking was story and anyway the commentary on it was interesting and added to my understanding and appreciation of story.  

And it goes on even now that I’ve retired.

A typical day looks like this.

 As soon as the alarm goes off I get up and make a cup of tea and then read while I drink it. About three-quarters of what I read is fiction.

Mornings I spend up to three hours writing and editing my own work. Again, three quarters of what I’m reading is fiction.

Afternoons are for admin but also some editing.  Stories again part of the time. If the admin is very boring I’ll put on the TV in my office while I work. I enjoy reruns of dramas.  Stories yet again.

Evenings are spent largely working on other people’s prose. Again, I’m reading fiction.

I relax later by watching a little TV. There is some excellent drama around.  Fantastic stories.

And I read in bed just before I go to sleep.

 When I’m out and about I find myself making ups stories about people.

 So, I often watch The One Show for a bit of a contrast. Okay, so all the stories here are true but they’re still stories. 

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 


I believe the world needs story-tellers – probably more than ever now. Stories help us make sense of the world. I hope I remain part of that community but anyway I’ll never stop reading stories and consuming them in other ways. I’m sure I’m not alone.  This bodes well for those of us who write.