And the winner is…

It is finally time to reveal the winner of our 2017 short story competition!

The challenge was simply to write a short story with a maximum of 1000 words on any theme and in any genre.

We had some wonderful, inspiring entries; a short list was created and sent to the judges, authors Sue Welfare and Jon Lawrence.

They had to admit they found it very difficult to choose as the standard was so high but, after deliberation, the winner was announced as…

‘Real French Lavender’ by Jon Clynch.

The judges thought Jon’s story was ‘atmospheric and poignant…this story manages to convey a great deal in relatively few words…The dialogue is a skilfully handled and gives a real sense of the character’

We won’t say any more as we wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment of it – you’ll be able to read the story in full when it is published in The Fens magazine in November.

Many congratulations to Jon!!

Meet our esteemed judges

We can’t wait to find out who’s won our short story competition and we imagine you’re the same! We’ll be announcing the winner on Monday 9th – just four days to go – but, while we wait, we thought we’d introduce you to our judges as they’re both published authors and we’re sure you’ll be interested in their books. They are also, quite frankly, both very lovely people!

        Sue Welfare (© Jerry Bauer)

Sue Welfare was a writer of romantic comedy for 20 years, before turning more recently to thrillers, publishing Next of Kin in 2015 and continuing in 2017 with Losing Leah. Writing in either genre earns her stacks of 5* reviews!

We were delighted to have Sue as one of the panelists at our 2016 publishing workshop ‘Prose to Print’, in which she generously shared her tips and advice to the writers in the audience. She was a judge for our first short story competition last year.

Sue lives in Norfolk where she is also an artist. You may well see her at exhibitions, pop up shops and events! She is clearly an extremely busy lady and we are very grateful to her for being a judge again this year.

Browse Sue’s books on her Amazon page.


                               Jon Lawrence

Jon Lawrence was also on our ‘Prose to Print’ panel last year, giving the benefit of his experience as a self-published author. Born in Pontypridd, he now resides in Norfolk where he is also a musician, singer-songwriter and teacher.

Jon’s emotionally charged writing frequently deals with themes such as love, loss and grieving, and depression and receives rave reviews from his readers. His most recent book, The Jack Newton Radio (which, by the way, has a fantastic cover too!) was out in March.

Earlier this year we were delighted to publish Jon’s book of original songs for children, The Music Man’s Songbook, which was illustrated by Gemma Wells, winner of last year’s short story competition!

We’re grateful to Jon for judging the short story competition again this year.

Find Jon on his website and browse his books on Amazon.


Writers’ workshops, competition results and new books out

We’ve been discovering that there’s a lot of writing talent in our local area of Fenland in Cambridgeshire. On 19th June we ran our ‘Prose to Print’ workshop, which was supported by Market Place; 24 people came along to find out more about traditional publishing, self-publishing and indie presses. In the afternoon we were joined by authors Sue Welfare, Jon Lawrence and Darren O’Sullivan who shared their experiences, answered questions and gave tips. It was a fantastic, if tiring, day. Thank you so much to the wonderful participants for their enthusiasm and to the authors for their inspiring and uplifting talks.

The Writers’ Panel at Prose to Print


If you missed it or you live too far away to attend, fear not! We were delighted that local film maker David Johnson of DMJ-Imagery came along to record the afternoon panel session. The videos are still in post-production, but as soon as they’re ready we’ll let you know and you’ll have the opportunity to watch all three speakers give their talks and see the Q&A session that followed. They’re incredibly interesting to all, and invaluable if you’re a writer; they really are not to be missed.

At the end of the day we announced the results of our inaugural Short Story Competition. Open to writers in our local area, we asked for stories of no more than 1500 words on the theme of birds. It was judged by Sue Welfare and Jon Lawrence and the results were:

In third place, Song of the Blackbird by Rosemary Westwell. The judges said Rosemary’s story was ‘vividly written with a great sense of place and a nice rhythm and pace to it.’

In second place, Seasons Past by D S Benjamin, which the judges thought was a ‘mature, poignant and beautifully written exploration … Beautifully paced and observed.’

And in first place, The Last Moa by Gemma Wells. The judges both picked Gemma’s story as a clear winner, commenting that it was ‘beautifully composed and written…We get a fabulous sense of place and the two voices are rich and distinctive. I love the casual and appropriate use of the Latin and indigenous names – not talking down to us as readers, nor explaining, but giving us context which allows us to understand, while also giving as a vivid glimpse into the world the writer has created. Fabulous!’

Congratulations to all! You can read Gemma’s story in full here

Are you a writer? Would you like the opportunity to work on your creative writing skills with other writers? Building on the success of Prose to Print, we are currently developing a series of workshops on creative writing for novelists. If you are within striking distance of March in Cambridgeshire, and you think this sounds like it could be for you, please email us to express your interest. There’s no commitment.

We’re still busy on the publishing side too. A Home Education Notebook came out on 27th June to a great reception and 5* reviews. Huge congratulations to author Ross Mountney! We’re just putting the finishing touches to Ross’s new book, The Wrong Adventure, which sees Harry from Who’s Not In School? up to more mischief! Once again illustrated by the talented James Robinson, it will be out soon. You can buy all these books from our shop.