Hello to all our members, readers and writers. We hope you’re all managing to survive lockdown and that your love of the written word is helping you through these difficult times. We thought it was time for a quick catch-up so take a break, grab a cuppa and let's get started!
As we’re in between issues, now seems like an opportune time to tell you about two major projects we’ve accomplished at The Phare since our last newsletter back in December. We’re hoping you didn’t notice the first.
After the successful launch of the first three issues, we realised our website didn’t have the capacity to host all the brilliant works we’ve already published as well as those we want to publish in the future. We felt it was important to keep an accessible archive of our writers’ past works, but were fast running out of space. To cut a long story short, we had to employ a website architect to construct an extension. You can’t see it from the front – but we’ve converted our terraced cottage to a skyscraper! If you’ve ever wondered where a large part of your tip-jar donations and competition entry fees go – look no further.
Our other success, which we hope you did notice, was to launch and publish our first writing competition. Let’s start by congratulating our winners (in order: short stories, flash fiction, poetry) Electra Rhodes, Dorothy Cornish and Maura High and our runners-up, Jason Jackson, Georgia Cook and Kieran Beville. Thank you to our brilliant judges: K. M. Elkes, Mary-Jane Holmes and Philip Rush, our longlisters and all the hundreds of writers and poets who entered.
Do have a listen to our winners and runners-up reading their works on our podcast page www.thephare.com/podcast You can often hear the nuances of humour, understatement and mood in a way that’s not always apparent on the page.
When we first opened for submissions of WriteWords back in early December 2020, we took two ‘gambles’. Would opening up in three categories (short story, flash and poetry) be too much? Would the writing specialists in each form be happy to submit to a multi-discipline event? We love all three at The Phare and wanted to showcase the best in each sector. Our other concern was whether writers would be motivated to submit after months of lockdown and over the Christmas and New Year period?
Let’s be honest – it was a snail-like start. We thought we’d taken a gamble too far. However, into the New Year the submission rate picked up and in the last 48 hours before we closed, we received 50% of the total number of entries – a tsunami of words. (Note to self – offer an ‘early-birds’ discount in the next competition!).
After some marathon reading and long-listing sessions, we managed to submit three anonymised lists to our category judges on time. We agreed with their excellent summing-up comments – the overall quality was outstanding.
What do we look for in a competition entry?
Firstly – beginnings. Judges need to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck in the first few lines – certainly in the first paragraph, or with poetry, in the first verse.
Secondly – is your work right for the target market? Does the magazine publish stories about flesh-eating zombies, Valentine’s card love poems or blood and guts murder stories? If the answer is no – you’re probably wasting your money.
Submission Window and other news
The submission window for our Summer 21 issue opens on 1st March and closes on 25th April. It’ll be an open theme again in short stories, flash fiction and poetry with a tip-jar entry scheme.
Later in the year we plan to offer our first online writing retreat and, depending on social distancing regulations, a live writing workshop day (or two) in the Gloucestershire area. In the meantime, don’t forget that the editors of The Phare offer in-depth editing services for short stories or flash fiction www.thephare.com/submit
Finally, please join me in wishing my Joint Founding Editor Claire Harrison all the best as she begins her PhD study in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.
Good luck Claire!