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.


The Only Way Is Indie 2017

After the success of the inaugural ‘The Only Way is Indie’ event, held at Nottingham Writers’ Studio in February 2016 and organized by publishers Dr Teika Bellamy of Mother’s Milk Books and Sara-Jayne Slack of Inspired Quill, another TOWII event is happening. And this time it’ll be even better and bigger! ‘The Only Way is Indie 2017’ will be an excellent opportunity for writers and readers to meet with book and literary magazine publishers, to chat with editors and to better understand the indie publishing scene.

What did people think of last year’s event?
‘Very informative – reassuring. Useful insight into the industry
from a passionate panel.’ Lauren Terry
‘[It was useful] to hear how the indie publishers work with writers and form relationships. Also to hear how they see their niche…’ Lytisha
‘…nice to know publishers who are INTERESTED.’ David R. Thompson

Bird’s Nest Books was delighted to be involved last year and we are very much looking forward to this year’s event. If you are at all interested in the ins and outs of indie publishing, you’re sure to find it a fascinating day.

Small presses attending include Mother’s Milk Books (the organisers), The Emma Press,Mud Press, Paper Swans Press, Stonewood Press, Unthank Books, and us, Bird’s Nest Books.

Sessions planned are:

  • How Publishing Works & A Day in the Life of an Indie Press Founder
  • Illustrators, Artists, Photographers & Their Role in Indie Presses
  • Submitting Poetry & Prose to Literary Magazines and Writing Competitions
  • Getting About in Poetry World
  • For Short Story Writers, Novelists & Non-fiction Writers: Submitting, Editing & the Indie Press
  • How to Get Published by an Indie Press & The Role of an Author

Full details of the day’s schedule can be found here.

All of the publishers are giving their time for free, so the fees will help to cover the travel costs of the publishers, room hire etc. Price: £22 concessions, £26 Nottingham Writers’ Studio members, £30 non-members.


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.

Bird’s Nest Books at the St George’s Fayre in March, Cambs. – Sunday 24th April

Pick up a free book as part of World Book Night, enter our Short Story Competition or find out about our writing and publishing workshops at the St George’s Fayre in March, Cambs. on Sunday 24th April. Our stall will be outside the library and Jane Levicki and Claire Upton will be there to tell you all about the titles we’re publishing this year and the exciting events we have planned.

WBN logo in headline

World Book Night Giveaway



As part of World Book Night, we’ll have FREE copies of Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig to give away.


Short Story Competition

Short Story Comp logo

Find out how to enter the inaugural Bird’s Nest Books Short Story Competition. Open to adults (aged 16 and over) living in or near Fenland, this is a competition to write a short story with a maximum of 1500 words on the theme of ‘Birds’.

There are three prizes and the deadline for entries is 20th May 2016.

Come and have a chat to us at the Fayre or read further details here, then go and put fingers to keyboard – we can’t wait to read your stories!

Writing and Publishing Workshops

We’ll also have details of our forthcoming workshops, including:

  • Publishing Your Book (traditionally or self-publishing)
  • Comic and Graphic Novel creation
  • Creative Writing

Or if there’s something else you’d like to do, please do come and tell us!

Books For Sale

We’ll have our own books for sale, plus books by local authors  (cash only please) 

Authors and Illustrators

Lastly, if you’re a writer or an artist and would like to find out about the opportunities for working with us, come along and have a chat, we’d love to meet you!