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The John O’Connor Writing School Short Story Competition 2018

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Article by Alison Wells © 9 July 2018.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

Competition deadline: 28th August 2018

The John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival, sponsored and supported by internationally renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Paul Muldoon, has a two-fold purpose. It aims to to celebrate and commemorate the life and works of John O’Connor as well as offering practical guidance and assistance to aspiring writers through its workshops and master classes in the various literary genres and writing for commercial purposes.

Entries are currently invited from aspiring writers for the third John O’Connor Short Story Competition. It is being held to commemorate the Armagh born writer whose impressive literary legacy includes a collection of short stories which still retain a timeless appeal.

The prize winner will be awarded a full bursary to attend the John O’ Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival which will be held in Armagh from 1st to 4th November, 2018, plus a cash prize of £250. The bursary prize allows the recipient to enjoy all events in the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Festival 2018, and to attend one class in the writing genre of his/her choice. The winner will be notified by 2 October.

The winning entrant will be formally announced at the opening of the Writing school on Friday 2nd November, and will have the opportunity to read at an event on Sunday 4th November 2018. Single room accommodation will be available free of charge to the winning entrant.

Terms and Conditions

  1. The competition is open to people of 16 years and older
  2.  Only one entry per person is permitted and MUST be submitted via the online form.
  3. Entries must be in English
  4. Entries must be between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length. Entries outside this word count will not be permitted and will be automatically rejected.
  5. Entries must be the original work of the author and must not have been previously published either in writing or electronically. Entries which have received awards in other competitions are also ineligible.
  6. Only short stories will be accepted. Prose and poetry entries are inadmissible.
  7. An entrance fee of £10 per story must be paid and submitted as indicated on the online form.
  8. No indication of the author’s name should be given in the actual story.
  9. Entries will not be returned.
  10. The decision of the adjudicators is final and they will not enter into any correspondence concerning the competition.
  11. Closing date for receipt of entries 12noon on the 28th of August.
  12. The winner will be notificed by 2 October 2018

Find full terms and conditions, and online entry form available here.

A word from previous winners:

“I won the inaugural John O’Connor Short Story Competition in 2016, the news delivered to me via a lovely phone call from Cathy McCullough, a personal touch which is one of the things that makes the weekend so special. I had started writing in 2014, and the win gave me a sense of validation that is so nourishing and necessary for a new writer. That year I attended Bernie McGill’s brilliant prose workshops, which generated an idea for a novel, and Stewart Neville’s masterclass. Last year Martina Devlin facilitated the prose workshops, and again I went away full of ideas for new work. The win also gave me opportunities to read my own work in public, a prospect I once found appalling which I now actually enjoy. My stories have won other prizes, but the John O’Connor win is the one that keeps on giving. “

Louise Kennedy, 2016 winner

“Thanks to the JOCWS I have made contact with an agent who is willing to read it [her novel] when it is ready… I hope all goes as well this year as last and I will certainly be coming along to the writing workshops again. I found them really useful. “

Roisin Maguire, 2017 winner


Follow Alison online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Alison Wells runs the Random Acts of Optimism blog and lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow with her husband and four children. Her short fiction been published in many magazines and online and print anthologies and she has been featured on Sunday Miscellany. Shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, Bridport and Fish Prize's she has just completed a themed short story collection Random Acts of Optimism and a literary novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities. To read Alison's full blog, visit Head Above Water. Find out in her Random Acts of Optimism how she manages to juggle writing, children and life.

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