Aesthetica Competition

There is just one month left to enter the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2016, presenting an opportunity for emerging and established writers and poets to showcase their work and further their involvement in the literary world. Now in its 10th year, the award is an internationally renowned prize praesesented by Aesthetica Magazine and judged by literary experts.

Prizes include:

  • £500 each (Poetry Winner and Short Fiction Winner)
  • Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual
  • One year subscription to Granta
  • Selection of books courtesy of Bloodaxe and Vintage
  • Consultation with Redhammer Management (Short Fiction Winner)
  • Full Membership to The Poetry Society (Poetry Winner)

Short Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words. Poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines. Works previously published are accepted.

Deadline for submissions is 31 August 2016.

To enter, visit

York St John Con – Lit Fest Review

Zine Workshop – 4/5


The short creative workshop was a great start to the day full of creativity. Not a lot of literature is about getting you hands dirty, but this workshop really helped set the tone for the creative nature of the day and got everyone involved waking up! The crafty nature of this exercise was a great way to meet other people too, everyone sat around tables having to share scissors and glue definitely got the ball rolling, This was a great experience that I would recommend to anyone, artistic or not, it’s just great fun!

Poetry & Comics Workshop – 4/5

poetry comic

The creative skills only carried on for the next section of the con. Exploring the works of visual poetry and what exactly a poem or a comic really is was a great discussion that almost certainly sparked debates between everyone attending. With even more cutting and sticking of some famous poems and even a Wikipedia article (and some daunting drawing) everyone got to share their work which made it that little bit more fun! Though there was two hours though there wasn’t much chance to go rogue and create your own thing, it was quite structured, but hopefully everyone is sitting at home creating their own poetry comics.

Video Games and Story Roundtable – 4/5

video game

This enthralling discussion about the relationship between game play and story managed to get everyone thinking in new ways about the nature of gaming and game media. The talk discussed issues such as how much the player is allowed to impress on the character, comparing very in depth characters to the more generic ones and which pulls you into the story more. Whilst some of the blogging team were debating the use of “video” in the term video games, the experts were teaching a whole new viewpoint on how to read the gaming universe!

This section was written by Jonathan Ford who kindly covered our blogging team lunch break!!

Keynote Event: Bryan and Mary Talbot – 5/5

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Bryan and Mary, both amazing artists, discussed their works in graphic novels as well as several riveting themes and events throughout history. Bryan discussed his work Grandville and the anthropomorphic traditions in history and art which was an excellent experience and made everyone question some beloved childhood characters! Whilst Mary discussed the historical basis for her upcoming The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia (due out May 2016) and some lucky audience members and bloggers managed to get copies (!!!) no spoilers will be shared here though! It’s definitely worth a read! The two speakers were available at the end of the session for a chat and to sign their graphic novels as well as Bryan gracing the pages with a quick sketch for the reader.

Fan-Fic: Open Mic 4/5


The first annual YSJ Con concluded with the sharing of peoples own fan-fiction, Hosted by local poet Henry Raby. Many brave writers stepped forward to share work inspired by their favorite books, films, video games and even Dragons! The work shared was well written and showed the writers passion for the characters and stories they wrote about including, Red Vs Blue, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Les Miserables and Chinese Gods. Controversial yet lighthearted conversations arose about fictional worlds including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the setting of Pokemon. The session ended the day on a high. The only way it could have been better is if more people were willing to share their work. Hopefully next year more people will come forward.

Centre for Writing Kicks off the Year with YSJ Staff Reading

On Monday, 12 October, the Centre for Writing at YSJU started the new academic year with a roar and a swoon.

A full house for the launch

The evening saw the launch of two books: Lecturer Naomi Booth’s novella The Lost Art of Sinking, which imagines an uncanny world of intentional swooning from the perspective of the main character, Esther, and Lecturer and Acting Head of Programme JT Welsch’s poetry collection Hell Creek Anthology, which is based on Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology, but this time, with dinosaurs found in Hell Creek, Montana.

Naomi Booth signs books

Naomi Booth introduced the audience to the literary history of swooning, from the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, to contemporary advertising, before reading from her novella’s first chapter. JT Welsch  showed the illustrations from his collection created by fashion illustrator Dom & Ink.

Naomi Booth
JT Welsch

Students and staff gnoshed on dinosaur desserts and the lecturers talked about their writing processes and their downright obsessions with their subjects.

JT Welsch signs copies of Hell Creek Anthology

Stay tuned for the next reading at YSJU Centre for Writing!


Fiction Contest Electric Reads – Great Opportunity

We are looking for the best young writers in Britain to feature in our 2015 fiction anthology. If you’re 25 or under, then find out how you can submit a piece below.

About the Anthology

Electric Reads is committed to supporting exciting new talent. This year will see the launch of our first ever fiction anthology for young British writers and we’d love you to be a part of it. The anthology will gather together some of the most exciting new writing from across the country and share it with a wider audience. Each piece will be accompanied by a short bio of the writer and this is a great opportunity to get your name out there in print.

The final anthology will be published late-2015 worldwide (see the important dates section for more details) and submission is free (but limited to one piece per entrant).

What we are Looking For

We are looking for dynamic pieces of prose that engage the reader through topic or language.

Submissions should be between 500-3,000 words of prose fiction – anything outside of this will not be considered. This can be an extract from an extended piece of writing, or it can be a short story. Writing from all genres will be considered – the main criteria for selection is that the writing is fresh and engaging.

Submissions should not have been published in any national or international publications previously (pieces that have been published in low-circulation publications will still be considered, but please indicate where this is the case).

All submissions should be written in good English.

How to Submit

Please read this section carefully.

Submissions should be e-mailed to

Submissions should be sent in a Word document and typed in Times New Roman 12pt with double-line spacing. Please include at the top of the document your full name, contact e-mail address, and contact telephone number.

All entrants must be 25 years old or under at the time of submission and a British national. Only one submission per entrant is allowed.

The deadline for submission is 31st October 2015. Anything submitted after this date will not be considered.

Please note, submissions may be shortlisted prior to 31st October 2015 so early submission is advised. Any entrant who is shortlisted will be notified and further information sought (including proof of eligibility). Please note, being shortlisted does not guarantee inclusion in the final anthology.

Entrants not shortlisted will not be notified.

The entrants whose pieces are selected for inclusion in the final anthology will be notified by 20th November 2015.

Important Dates

1st June 2015 – Submissions open

31st October 2015 – Submissions close

20th November 2015 – Pieces selected for the final anthology will be notified

27th November 2015 – Anthology is published worldwide


Creative and Critical Writing

Creative and Critical Writing

Professor Nicholas Royle reads from his remarkable novel Quilt.

Followed by a discussion with Senior Fiction Editor Vicky Blunden from the publisher Myriad Editions.

York St John University, Temple Hall, 27th March 2015:  3-5pm

FREE booking here; quilt

Nicholas Royle lives in Seaford and is Professor of English at the University of Sussex.

His academic writing is distinguished, in unusual ways, by playful language and linguistic invention. Since at least his early teens, when he wrote an abandoned work called The Foresight Saga, he has been fascinated by the strangeness of literature. This fascination has led to the publication of numerous books about literature, including the highly acclaimed Telepathy and Literature: Essays on the Reading Mind and The Uncanny. Despite their ‘academic’ appearances, such books contain unexpected interiors: Telepathy and Literature ends with a bizarre footnote comprising a short story called ‘Telephoning Home’; The Uncanny incorporates several pieces of short fiction. His latest academic work, Veering: A Theory of Literature, also contains numerous embedded fictions and indeed argues for a new conception of the relations between creative and critical writing.

‘An intense study of grief and mental disintegration, a lexical celebration and a psychological conundrum… Royle explores loss and alienation perceptively and inventively.’ – Guardian

‘A book of mythological power. Quilt is unforgettable, like all those great pieces of fiction that are fed by our immemorial root system, the human dream of metamorphosis.’ – Hélène Cixous

‘Royle’s baroque, athletic prose… confers a strong sense of the “strangeness” of English, “which, after all, belongs to no one” and should be continually reinvented.’ – Observer

Vicky Blunden is Senior Fiction Editor at Myriad Editions and winner of the IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award in 2013. Myriad is an independent publisher based in Brighton, committed to nurturing new talent and publishing prize-winning fiction.

“Our graphic books explore tough subjects through narrative illustration. Our novels are original works of literary fiction, eclectic, bold and full of character.”

Quick Fictions Competition and Reading

Are you a fiction writer? Love speed and economy?

27th March, 6.30pm

Temple Hall, York St John University

Book here:

Quick Fictions is concerned with the question of how to write – inventively, thoughtfully, memorably – in the age of the short attention span. Quick fictions are the writing of our time. Quick means: lively, vigorous, sharp, agile, perceptive, swift, even impatient, but also sensitive and vulnerable, like quick flesh. Quick fictions might be funny, poignant, dark, sad, romantic, strange, but never trivial: they take us to the very quick of things.   

We invite you to submit a quick fiction (up to three submissions per author) for the Quick Fictions event at the York Literature Festival on Friday 27 March 2015. We will select approximately 20 of the pieces submitted and ask the authors to read their fictions on the day. In due course selected work will appear on the Quick Fictions app.

Write a (very) short piece of fiction (300 words at the most, but 50 words or fewer would be fine too!) and send to by 5 p.m. on Friday 13 March 2015 at the latest. There is no submission fee.

Please ensure your submission is accompanied by a name and contact details (tel. no. and/or email address) and remember to provide a title for the fiction/s you submit.

If you are one of the writers selected, you will be asked to read your fiction at the event on the evening of the 27th of March 2015, in Temple Hall at York St John University (or you may ask a substitute to read it for you) – Nicholas Royle, on behalf of Quick Fictions 

Emergent Novelists

Jenn Ashworth, Evie Wyld, Emma Jane Unsworth

25th March 2015

FREE – Booking here:

Temple Hall 7-9pmGospels

Three fiction writers read from and talk about their work. Don’t miss this.

Jenn Ashworth’s first novel, A Kind of Intimacy, was published in 2009 and won a Betty Trask Award. On the publication of her second, Cold Light (Sceptre, 2011) she was featured on the BBC’s The Culture Show as one of the UK’s twelve best new writers. Her third novel The Friday Gospels (2013) is published by Sceptre. She lives in Lancashire and teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

Evie Wyld was born in London and grew up in Australia and South London. She studied creative writing at Bath Spa and Goldsmiths University. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealthbirds singing Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin literary award. In 2013 she was included on Granta Magazine’s once a decade Best of Young British Novelists list. Her second novel All the Birds, Singing, recently received The European Prize for Literature. It also won the Miles Franklin Award, the Encore Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize, the James Tait Black Prize and the Sky Arts Times Breakthrough Award and longlisted for the Stella Prize and the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. She runs Review, a small independent bookshop in Peckham, south London.

Emma Jane Unsworth’s first novel Hungry, the Stars and Everything (Hidden Gem) won a Betty Trask Award from the Society of Authors and was shortlisted for the Portico Prize 2012. Her short story ‘I Arrive First’ was included in The Best British Short Stories 2012 (Salt). She has worked as a journalist, a columnist for The Big Issue, and a barmaid. Her second novel Animals was published by Canongate in May 2014. She’s writing a third novel, as well as the screenplay of Animals, which has been optioned by BAFTA-nominated producer Sarah Brocklehurst and awarded funding by the BFI.

Novelists at YSJ: 6th November 2014

Two Contemporary Novelists – Lucy Atkins and Nuala Casey
6th November 7-9.30pm
York St John University Quad South Hall
Reading and Q & A


Perfect for anyone interested in writing or reading contemporary fiction Lucy Atkins, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson © 2013.

Lucy Atkins is an award-winning feature journalist and author,missing one as well as a Sunday Times book critic. She has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She lives in Oxford.

Lucy will be reading from her latest novel The Missing One

‘A moving and suspenseful tale of the secrets a family keeps,’ Rachel Hore, bestselling author of The Silent Tide

‘A page-turning… I read it in three sittings..a compelling emotional mystery’ Lucy Clarke, author of Richard and Judy bestseller The Sea Sisters 

nuala_casey_03_13Nuala Casey was born in Stockton on Tees in 1979, the youngest of five children. After graduating from Durham University in 2001, Nuala moved to London to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. However, her experiences living in Soho where she chronicled the comings and goings of the people around her, took novel nuala coverher life in a different direction.

She went on to work as a copywriter and was awarded an MA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel Soho, 4am was published by Quercus in 2013 and was described by the Huffington Post as “the London Novel revived.” Urban living and the voices of the city continue to provide inspiration for her writing. She is currently working on her third novel, a psychological thriller set in York and Brighton as well as a collection of short stories entitled ‘Apocalypse Soho’. Nuala’s latest novel, Summer Lies Bleeding, is out now (Quercus, 2014.)

Casey is the latest and no less valid a chronicler than Colin MacInnes, Jake Arnott or Zadie Smith.

Jason Holmes, The Huffington Post


Manchester Writing Prizes

Win £10,000 for your poems or stories!

Visit the site for details:

Manchester Writing Competition

The Manchester Writing Competitmanchesterion was established by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in 2008, funded in the first instance by the Manchester Metropolitan University’s innovative Enterprise Fellowship scheme. The project was designed to attract the best new writing from around the world, and to establish Manchester as the focal point for a major literary award. Since it began, the Competition has awarded more than £75,000 to its winners.

Friday Feature: Writer’s block or Blank Page Syndrome

The most frustrating object for a writer is, unfortunately, also the essential object required to write, the blank page. Every writer has
experienced that moment when, after finally managing to take some time out of your
busy schedule, you sit down with a nice cup of tea, a few cheeky biscuits and
…nothing. Nothing. NOTHING!

nothing. Nothing. NOTHING!NothingnoTHING NOThing NOT A THING nothing No-THINg NothinG nothing nothING.

After a while writing about how you simply CANNOT write begins to get rather boring….

So, here is a collection of tips and tricks from myself and other YSJ writers to get the ideas streaming and your inspiration flowing:

1.Keep a journal to write down all your ideas for projects. It doesn’t have to be special, use a diary, a pad of paper, or just your laptop. Personally I use all the different forms or I get bored. It will stop you forgetting ideas and you might come back to them later finding that they trigger some inspiration. Aim to write something in it every day.

2.Use Creative writing prompts. This blog has a new prompt up every Monday, use them to access your imagination, allow yourself to experiment and have fun!

3. Don’t feel your work has to be amazing all the time. Sometimes you will end up with a load of rubbish…it happens. To me, it happens, A LOT! Don’t worry, persevere, keep writing and eventually the dry spell will end.

4.Listen to Music. Do this while you are writing and reflect on how it changes the final outcome.

5. Freewrite. Freewriting is an exercise in which you write whatever pops into your head. Do not edit or erase anything, just write continuously for a certain amount of time. It is difficult, but some of my best ideas have come out through a freewrite.

6. STOP MAKING EXCUSES. I am the biggest procrastinator in the world when it comes to writing. I will do my washing and ironing and clean the kitchen before even sitting down to write (I end up with a very tidy house), but it is the most unhelpful thing you can possibly do. By avoiding writing the task becomes bigger. You feel guilty. You avoid it again. You feel guilty and before you know it you can’t even look at a page without wanting to stick you head under the covers and hibernate through university life. I have tried this method… unfortunately the time comes when you have to poke your head out and leave behind your shell, even if that means coming up with a REALLY bad metaphorical imagery…

7. Observe: listen to conversations around you, watch and read the news, make notes on your surroundings, and most importantly LIVE. Go to places you haven’t been before and get yourself out there. Writing is an active not a passive process, your life should be too.

8. Get into a group. The Creative Writing Society is advertised below, or just get involved with your friends. Write for each other, or set goals. Meet up in the SU over a beer or, if you are not ready to share your work with the world just yet, set up a blog where strangers can read your work.

9. Research: Google is AMAZING! If you are interested in something, follow the theme and see if you follow it to an idea. If not at least you’ve learnt something new!

10. Read. If you’re stuck for ideas read a novel, a magazine article, poetry or even the news can be your opening into inspirational muse. Why not to replicate the tone in what you’re reading?

TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE: Writing is all about practice. Why not try going through the list above and doing one point every day, even if it’s ten minutes in the library or on your work break. For added incentive, promise yourself a drink at the end of the ten days…or maybe even more than one…