26. Looking for an excuse to stay off the beach…?

The Hong Kong Writers Circle summer writing competition is themed “Junk” and offers a chance of publication in the prestigious Asia Literary Review. Whether you want to recycle an existing idea or produce your own fresh garbage, all we ask is that you keep it below 5,000 words.


Visit the Circle’s website to find out more. You have to be a member to enter, but I’d wager the annual membership is less pricey than entering some of the higher-end story competitions out there. They should be ashamed…

Closing date is 31 August 2014 so get a shift on if you want to see your work in print.


2. Contemplating the future of humanity from Lancashire

I can’t think of anywhere better to do it from, can you? Not when the stars are out and you’re sleeping in the lip of a prehistoric cave, within which a million-year-old waterfall discretely ignores the fact that you’re wearing your best undies under several layers of fleece, just in case he tries to seduce you across endless, unknowable knots of time and man-made fabrics.*

Whereas my words border on cliché, those of Lancastrian author David Constantine (Comma Press) dare to border both Yorkshire and the sublime, which – less generous Mancunians than me might argue – is no mean feat.

In all seriousness, I urge you to listen to one or two of his tales. He reads beautifully from his award-winning collections The Shieling and Tea at the Midland on the Comma Press website here. My personal favourite is below.

If I ever get this good, you can bury me alive with small stones high on a hilltop, overlooking a suitably desolate valley, and I’ll be perfectly happy. As the son of a poet, and someone who began writing poetry before prose, Constantine is an inspiring reminder of how serendipitous that route into fiction can be.

Please, please enjoy!

(*A very loose précis of the Constantine’s The Cave)