The Yeovil Literary Prize

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Recent Successes

Read about our most recent successes.

2024 YCAA Book Group

The YCAA book group meets in Yeovil in the Westlands Entertainment Venue's Lounge every second Tuesday of the month from 12 noon until 2pm. We read a wide selection of books as suggested by people who come along. You would be welcome! Details can be found on

welcome to the

2016 Results

For full details of the results, choose a category:

Results Table Report Novel Short Story Poetry Writing Without Restrictions

Novel Category

FIRST PRIZE - Christopher Holt


THIRD PRIZE - Sylvia Petter

Short Story Category

FIRST PRIZE - Kate Kelly

SECOND PRIZE - Deborah Riccio

THIRD PRIZE - Beryl P. Brown

Poetry Category

FIRST PRIZE - Sheila Aldous

SECOND PRIZE - Christopher North

THIRD PRIZE - Frances Corkey Thompson

Writing Without Restrictions

FIRST PRIZE - Bronwen Rees

SECOND PRIZE - Mike Silvester

THIRD PRIZE - Morag Lewis


The Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award will be presented to Beverly Gallagher of Sherborne, Dorset. Congratulations also to local writer Anne Boaden.

Report for 2016 Yeovil Literary Prize.

It was the calibre, the strength of plots, the ingenuity of perspective, the emotions covered in the entries this year that was so impressive. We always emphasise that judging is anonymous. We always have to comment on the overwhelming variety of writing that is submitted, making decisions on long lists in each genre very demanding. If any entry reached the long list in any of the four categories, then that is a fine writing achievement. You are among a cavalcade of brilliance.

Our aim is to encourage all forms of writing and to give opportunity to aspiring writers everywhere. From a local heartfelt aim we open our arms to the world of writing.


Jason Goodwin had an extremely hard job in judging this category as the novels were of such high quality with a wide variety of themes and plots. Our winning novel has haunting images created by historic events and personal knowledge. We are often told to “write what you know”, which will always give depth to any novel, but weaving a story into the fabric history has created is a challenge. Christopher Holt has been a regular entrant in the Yeovil Literary Prize and is often among the long listed in several of the categories, so when we realised he was the author of this exceptional work, Orphaned Leaves, it felt like justified success.

We feel proud of our past winners’ successes and must congratulate David Young on the outstanding success of Stasi Child, which was placed third in 2014, as it became a bestselling novel in 2016.

Short Stories

This genre of storytelling is a craft that may appear easy compared to writing a novel. On the contrary, it needs a skill that has to be perfected, and once mastered, the short story is surely a thing of joy. It always gives instant pleasure to the reader because of where it fits into our lives. It can be read anywhere; it could be accompanied by a favourite cuppa or a long cool drink. Travelling will be made happier with a short story. There is an art to taking your reader into a different place inhabited by convincing characters in a mere 2000 words.

Literary scout, and judge of this category, Natasha Farrant, chose her winners from an array of outstanding stories. Our long list was littered with short stories that would captivate any reader, and the writers must be congratulated on their mastery of this genre.

A true master of this craft, Chip Tolson, will publish his collection of winning short stories in October. Chip has consistently presented memorable tales in this category for several years, and the Yeovil Literary Prize is proud of his success and recommends his collection of short stories.


Every poet who entered had the privilege of having their work read by Hilary Davies, our renowned poetry judge, who will be attending the Yeovil Literary Festival this year. Hilary will be making presentations to our winners of this competition; she will also have her own event so you’ll be able to meet her on 20th and 21st October at The Octagon Theatre, Yeovil.

Her chosen long list revealed a raft of emotions delivered in crisp, refined usage of the written word. Verse came from all over the world showing its universal appeal, and Hilary’s choice of winners presented poetry of outstanding excellence.

Writing Without Restrictions

We had the perfect judge for this category in Tony Hawks. He is a master of many skills, and the writing submitted this year was skilfully diverse, humorous, entertaining, factual, and above all of quality that deserved its own place in our writing competition. Congratulations must go to everyone who entered from all corners of the globe, and to quote an entrant “I really like the freedom of the 'Writing Without Restrictions' category. Thank you for creating and organising the competition.”

We, the YCAA, are the lucky ones who enjoy and celebrate the success of every submission. This category is growing in popularity, so thank you for the delight of reading your original and inspired writing.


It is always a pleasure to read the entries and we are looking forward to word spreading amongst writers everywhere of this important, international writing competition. We know that agents and publishers read our website and follow our competition which gives those who are recognised further chances of success. We also know that writers are good at spreading the word among their writing groups and friends, so feel free to carry on the good work.

2017 Yeovil Literary Prize

Our 2017 Yeovil Literary Prize opens on 1st January, so start those ideas and plots off, and always look for that piece of excellent writing you were not sure what to do with, and you’ll be ready to enter.

Our judges for next year are Brianna Beerhler, a superb writer and teacher of creative writing on both sides of the Atlantic; based in California, she has also worked in Cambridge, England, and she has a love of the novel. Her knowledge makes her an outstanding literary judge.

For the short stories our judge is the exceptional author Anna Wilson. She has an eye for excellence with an understanding of situations peopled with convincing characters. She is author of many children’s books and loves short stories and novel writing. An all-round excellent judge. Anna judged our YCAA Children’s Writing Competition in Yeovil and expertly chose imaginative short stories from budding writers.

Poetry for 2017 will be judged by the experienced Irish poet David Wheatley. His hugely admired poetic view of life will encourage magical verse from beginners to practised writers from every country.

Writing Without Restriction is an inspirational category and is growing year-on-year, so our judge is a writer who is growing in accomplishment and reputation. She is Kiran Millwood Hargrave, a winning poet in this competition, among many, and a novelist. She will bring something special to this fascinating category.

We look forward to reading all your work and watching new talent emerge into the literary arena.

Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award

We are thrilled to have Beverly Gallagher as our Western Gazette Best Local Writer. Beverly has not only been Highly Commended in the novel category in this competition, but last year she was also Highly Commended in the short story category.

Beverly said “last year's highly commended for short story and this year's for novel that is very encouraging. The Western Gazette award even more so. Glad to know that my old-fashioned style still has some currency.”

This award is given to a writer who lives within the distribution area of The Western Gazette newspaper.

This year we are giving a token prize in recognition of achievement to Anne Boaden as she was Highly Commended in the Writing Without Restriction category. Anne is a member of the Yeovil Creative Writers and this is her first time of entering our competition. Congratulations!

the Judging Team

Novel category Report

We had 382 novels submitted to our competition this year, and all of them were of such a high calibre that we continue to be impressed beyond measure.

Our judge, Jason Goodwin, commented that “All the winning novels explored themes of exile, loss, memory and redemption.”

FIRST – Christopher Holt with Orphaned Leaves
Jason commented:
This novel demonstrates the importance of Getting It Right. The historical detail was convincing, which demonstrates good research and the author’s ability to command the historical setting. Readers need to feel confidence, and this book delivers it. It’s a harrowing start, but it has a good forward pace and narrative drive, and promises something unusual.
Christopher Holt

Christopher Holt

Christopher Holt was born in Exeter in 1941 and has worked as a teacher, farmer, ecologist and administrator in Africa, Australia and the Solomon Islands. He lived for a time in Communist East Germany at the height of the Cold War. His experiences have inspired his fiction, not through nostalgia but from a belated understanding of their significance to the present day.

Christopher has won several short story awards and his self-published novels have been shortlisted in major UK competitions. He is presently researching material for his next book.

SECOND – Sara Green with A Life In Boxes
Jason commented:
Distressing and compelling, this is a novel that uses a simple but intriguing device – a set of little boxes – to keep the reader guessing, drawn into the mystery of an unopened box. It’s a book about betrayal and its consequences, and one reads on to discover if the protagonist succeeds in escaping her demons. Vivid and convincing.

Sara Green

Sara Green

Sara Green has been in love with words since she first learned to read them. After growing up speaking English in the English countryside, she added French, Spanish, Portuguese and a little Italian. Today, Sara lives in France with her husband and three daughters. She spends most days writing copy for clients in France and across Europe and the other days, as well as early mornings, writing women’s fiction. If she gets a chance, Sara enjoys riding, swimming lengths at the pool, or getting lost in Venice. She has a (rather too aptly entitled) blog: No Time to Blog, which can be found at

THIRD –Sylvia Petter with All The Beautiful Liars
Jason commented:
This book employs a bold and unusual device to explore truth and memory in the lives of a family fractured by war and exile. And it has a subtlety to it which I found compelling.

Sylvia Petter

Sylvia Petter

Sylvia Petter is an Australian writer based in Vienna, Austria. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and is the author of four story collections, one in German translation. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories, and likes to share the things she has learned in impromptu writing workshops. In 2014, she was Vienna Director of the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English. See also



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Short Story Report

The number of entries grew this year to 404 short stories.

Our judge, Natasha Farrant, who is a very successful novelist and literary scout, said of her judging experience, “I firmly believe that reading and writing make for happier lives, and competitions such as the Yeovil Literary Prize are a really exciting way of engaging people with both. The YCAA team did an amazing job in selecting an excellent short-list. I was really impressed with both the quality and variety of the submissions, and would encourage any aspiring writers to apply next year.

FIRST - Kate Kelly with Legend of Flight
Natasha commented:

I felt a real dread in the first line of this story, and from the beginning had only one question – why doesn’t he answer? The author kept coming back to this question, stoking the sense of dread also built up through descriptions of bored teenagers in a small town trying out progressively more dangerous pastimes. These were good, strong foundations for the story, which then took off (forgive the pun) with the introduction of the statue, and the story of the lace factory and the steam powered plane. This worked on so many levels: both as a metaphor for the characters’ longings, and as a plot device. There was also something intensely poetic about these parts which made my own heart soar as a I read.

Suggestion: perhaps try limiting the number of characters and locations. Think of Aristotle’s rule for unity of time, action and place. The story lost some tautness for me during the descriptions of the narrator’s home life.

Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly is a Dorset based writer with a passion for the sea. She has had some publishing success, both with her short stories and her Young Adult Cli-Fi novel, Red Rock which was published in 2013. Kate has been a supporter of the Yeovil Literary Prize since its inception and has made the longlist on several occasions but to actually win is an unexpected delight. You can find out more about Kate and her writing at She has just completed her first adult thriller and is about to start looking for an agent.

SECOND - Deborah Riccio with Comings and Goings
Natasha commented:

This story is a wonderful, poignant portrait of loneliness and grief. How clever to begin the story so formally with Robert J. Cottley’s full name, gradually progressing to Robert and finally, through Effie, to Bobby. I loved the transition from grumpy old man to tender husband. I could just see him with his trolley, being ignored by busy passengers. I’m ashamed to say that at first I didn’t like him very much. And then, as soon as he found the baby, my heart began to melt. Clever to leave the story open-ended, too. I think you should always finish a short story feeling a little unsettled, and the dilemma between what I knew Robert J. Cottley ought to do and what I wanted him to do still occupies my mind…

Suggestion: try cutting back on adverbs and adjectives, especially when writing short stories. It will make the writing stronger.

Deborah Riccio

Deborah Riccio

In a primary school account of ‘What I did at the weekend’ I transformed my local butcher father into an armed Policeman, my housewife mother into a goddess of stage and screen, and our dense but adorable mongrel into a fierce German Shepherd who regularly savaged villagers. I can’t remember what I did with my baby brother – he’d probably been abducted by aliens. And at the time I was accused of attention-seeking by both teacher and parents but I now recognise this as the beginning of my creative writing career.

I had my first short story published in our local free paper aged 20 but only started taking it seriously when I joined the WriteWords online community site in 2004. During my time here I wrote four books: one contemporary adult and threeYoung Adult/Teen, which went on to receive hundreds of rave rejections. I did get some encouraging feedback from Literary Agents but as an already under-confident single working mother, I watched fellow-writers realising their agent and publication dreams and decided to remove myself from further torment.

Years later, after my daughter had been at Uni for a year, she persuaded me to restart my dream and so in 2014 I signed up for a Creative Writing BA(Hons) degree with the Open College of the Arts. Since then, and something which began as a New Year Writing Resolution, I’ve been regularly submitting to various writing competitions and am thrilled that prior to coming second in this, the Yeovil Literary Prize 2016 short story category, I’ve also been shortlisted three times: The Fresher Publishing Prize 2016 (short story); The Greenhouse Literary Agency/Faber & Faber Funny Prize 2015 (children’s novel); and The Hysteria Writing Prize 2015 (poem).

I’m also a contributing author in the anthology ‘Stories For Homes’ for which all proceeds go to the charity ‘Shelter’ (I designed the cover as well) and ‘TwitterTitters’ - an anthology produced in support of Comic Relief 2009.

(site address for info -

THIRD - Beryl P. Brown with How to Pack a Lady’s Suitcase
Natasha commented:

I very much enjoyed the playful structure of this story. As I read the title and the first piece of packing advice, I prepared to be entertained. There is something very sexy about the first paragraph, almost erotic. And then the writer hits the reader with the jogging trousers, and the illusion, like the narrator’s life, starts to unravel. I liked the growing sense of just how unhealthy this relationship was, the increasing self-assertion of the narrator. In this context, the final sentence is quietly triumphant. The whole piece beautifully captures how momentous apparently innocuous activities, such as packing, can be. The story is also a great example of how less, in writing, is so often more. I knew almost nothing about either the narrator or her lover, and yet I felt furious with and sickened by him, and hugely sympathetic to her. Very clever.

Suggestion: try to avoid making promises to your reader that you don’t deliver on – in Section 1, your narrator checks her phone "for the millionth time”, but we never find out why.

Beryl P. Brown

Beryl P. Brown

Although I moved from Dorset two years ago, I have a love of the South West that living back on the beautiful East Anglian coast will never eclipse. The Yeovil Prize is special for me, not just because the competition is prestigious and I know Somerset, but because it is one of the best run competitions in the writing calendar.

Despite currently studying for a Masters in novel writing with Manchester Metropolitan University, the short story is where my writing heart lies. A novel is an entirely different animal demanding long commitment around a chosen theme that might, eventually, lead to publication. The competition short story is limited in scope entirely by the breadth of the writer’s imagination and the verdict, good or not so good, arrives within a few weeks. I am enjoying the challenge of writing in both fields.

A bronze place on the 2016 podium is something to be celebrated. I am truly delighted.

(site address for info -



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Poetry Results

This year we had 420 entries in the poetry category, all of which were read and judged by Hilary Davies. Judging is with reference number only – truly anonymous!

Hilary commented: 'I very much enjoyed judging this year's Yeovil Literary Prize. It is always illuminating to see what is out there and what people's preoccupations are. There was a good variety of subject matter and some moving treatments of difficult themes. Quite rightly, and as always, the great themes of what it is to be human came up: love in all its dimensions, the joys and pains of family, the agony of losing loved ones, the poignancy of memory. One key piece of advice to writers: remember that it is ultimately the use of language which a judge is looking for, because it is in this that the poetry is to be found. This means thinking about the inherent qualities of language: structure, rhyme and rhythm, the associative depth of the words chosen, the going beyond what is immediately to be seen. These are the poems which are likely to arrest a judge's attention and hopefully win a prize'.

Hilary has been a brilliant judge and you can meet her at the Yeovil Literary Festival on 20th and 21st October.

FIRST – Sheila Aldous with ‘The Shining Rake’
Hilary commented:

“This poem is based on a famous painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela of an incident in the great Finnish epic, The Kalevala. Lemminkäinen’s mother goes looking for the dismembered body of her son, painstakingly gathers all part of him from the river with a magic rake, and stitches him together, finally invoking a bee to help breathe life back into him.

I awarded this poem first prize because it stood out through its vigorous yet careful use of language. Poems are about how the poet uses words to convey feeling and meaning; feelings and meanings in themselves are not enough. The feelings expressed here are of the most profound kind: the grief of a mother for a son, the rage that he should have been killed, the desire to have him back. But what struck me was how the writer actually talks about these emotions through the metaphors of magic and quest. This is of course in the original source yet the poet has skilfully linked the outward manifestations of the mother’s inner turmoil to objective correlatives that can carry the burden of what is being said: the burnished rake, the lake like melted copper, the domestic overtones of making a cover pane, the hint of egotism in her grief as she becomes witch-like. The poet uses internal rhyme, emphatic repetition, alliteration and assonance to weave the different stanzas together; in other words, is aware of the intrinsic possibilities of English rhyme and rhythm, what we call prosody. This is proper free verse.”

Sheila Aldous

Sheila Aldous

Sheila Aldous worked in advertising for most of her career, including six years in Bermuda on the national newspaper (The Royal Gazette) and in London at the BBC (Radio Times) before she retired. She once lived in Australia, travelling in that continent extensively. In recent years she jointly ran a B&B with her husband and she is planning a novel recounting her experiences based on the funny, downright ridiculous and sometimes sad tales of this upstairs/downstairs life. Her BA Hons in Media & English opened her eyes to creative writing. She joined a writers’ circle in Dorset where as Chairman she led the production of booklets to raise funds for charities including Help for Heroes. Whilst there she had a short story accepted for publication in Hampshire View.

Sheila’s home by the River Teign is surrounded by hills and valleys, water and moors. The people, wildlife, countryside, the boating community, all bring delight and passion to her writing. When she is not rescuing sailors or day trippers trapped in the mud in the low tide of the river, she writes poetry and short stories. The forever changing scene provides her with continual inspiration, so much so she just has to keep writing. She is a member of Poetry Teignmouth, and of Manor House Writers in Dawlish.

Winning first prize in the poetry category of the 2016 Yeovil Literary Prize, she has said, is an incredible honour for her personally, very motivating and a fantastic surprise; she walked around for days with a smile pasted on her face. Her winning poem ‘The Shining Rake’ encapsulates the theme of resurrection. The passion in the painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, which depicted the Mother of Lemminkäinen, her rage, anguish and determination to get her son back, were the driving force for Sheila in the creation of her poem.

SECOND – Christopher North with ‘Reverie after Reading Tristram Shandy’

When submitted, the poem was 40 lines long with a title. However our system for some reason on the day of submission, could only accept a 39 line poem - so the first line appeared as the title of the poem, Enter at a gallop. Its true title is 'Reverie after Reading Tristram Shandy' .

Hilary commented:
“ENTER AT A GALLOP (first line of poem) I gave this poem second prize because of the exuberant, surreal handling of vocabulary and sheer love of the sound of words. The poet is confident negotiating this risky territory; without a good mastery of language, such a poetic approach can descend into silliness, but this writer avoids this and succeeds in conjuring up a sense-world which is part-18th century stately home, part Upstairs Downstairs, part- Blackadder, part-Swiftian satire as it appeals to all the senses in a profusion of crazy images and juxtapositions. At the end a monstrous nose heaves into sight over the flowerbeds (or does it?) The reader is constantly unsettled by the next phrase or word and never allowed to stand still. It is the very opposite of predictable.”

Christopher North

Christopher North

Christopher North’s first collection ‘A Mesh of Wires’ published by Smith Doorstop was short-listed for the Forward Prize in 1999. He has published two collections since: ‘Explaining the Circumstances’ (2010) and ‘The Night Surveyor’ (2014) and a joint , bilingual collection ‘Al Otro Lado del Aguilar’ (2011) with Terry Gifford - all with Oversteps Books. His most recent pamphlet collection is ‘Wolves Recently Sighted’ Templar Poetry 2014. He has been published in Poetry Review, the Independent, Acumen, Smith Knoll, Brittle Star, Wolf and many others. With his wife Marisa, he facilitates poetry writing retreats and courses at, Almassera Vella in Relleu, Alicante Spain (

THIRD - Frances Corkey Thompson with Ruby-Dancing in the Hutongs of Hou Hai
Hilary commented:
“I chose this poem for 3rd prize because I liked the way it drew the reader in, intriguing us with suggested but then discarded possibilities, which nevertheless set up an expectation of something exotic. The atmosphere of the traditional architecture and street layout of the Chinese hutongs, as well as the poverty of those who live in them, is conveyed with great economy. Then suddenly the top brings its own world of delight and the reader is transported into an unexpected world of reggae/disco dance lyrics, which are nostalgic, not only for the Western pop song, but also for the disappearance of these hutongs, now largely bulldozed in China’s prosperity boom.”

Frances Corkey Thompson

Frances Corkey Thompson

Frances Corkey Thompson was born in Ireland and lives in Devon. She has a Poetry MA with Distinction from Exeter University. Her work appears in many magazines and anthologies, including Oxford Poets 2007 (Carcanet).

Frances has read her work at festivals and events at home and abroad. She has run workshops, won prizes, judged competitions and writes occasional reviews.

Her chapbook, The Long Acre, was published in 2008 by Happenstance Press, and her first full collection,‘Wild Gooseberries of Hailung’ (Indigo Dreams, 2015), was named Book of the Month by The Poetry Kit.



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Writing Without Restriction Results

In our second year of including this category we had 191 entries for our judge, Tony Hawks. With a unique outlook on life Tony was the ideal person to judge this category as it attracts a cornucopia of subjects and writing styles.

Tony commented: “I've really enjoyed working with the Yeovil Literary Prize. Nice people who think positively and see things through. All power to their elbows (and knees)"

FIRST – Bronwen Rees with Jam Sponge and Custard
Tony commented:
An excellent piece. Both funny and moving. I wanted to hear more from this voice.....

Bronwen Rees

Bronwen Rees

I have had a rather peripatetic existence, having started life in Teddington, Middlesex. Thence to Cornwall, Essex, Shropshire and finally Spondon, just outside Derby. I worked as a PA, then having been made redundant at 49, trained as a yoga teacher. I also worked for a voluntary organisation for 14 years, variously as volunteer, secretary and Chair. I finally got my BA at the ripe old age of 54! I am now thoroughly enjoying not being employed (I hate the word 'retired'), and am busier than ever. I am secretary to our local Writers' Group, (where I have enjoyed some success in our in-house externally judged competitions), Also secretary to our local community choir, and having given up on the guitar am attempting to play the ukelele. I enjoy my walking trips on the Balearic Islands, going to small folk festivals (although I keep thinking my camping days are numbered!) and to weekend singing and poetry workshops in Cumbria. This is the first success I have had in a big competition since I won a cup for poetry at school (a very long time ago!), although I have had work shortlisted, had stories published in a short story magazine and in our local paper, and was awarded first prize in an exhibition-themed short story competition at Derby Museum.

SECOND – Mike Silvester with You Will Never Know
Tony commented:
Unusual. Innovative. Thought-provoking. Clever.

Mike Silvester

Mike Silvester

Mike commented… “I was thrilled to receive your e-mail and letter - I really like the freedom of the 'Writing Without Restrictions' category. Thank you for creating and organising the competition.

I write for pleasure, to explore and to question. Sometimes I know where I want the story to go and it follows the expected journey. On other occasions it takes on a life of its own. That’s part of the fun of writing – you never know where your travels may take you.

Wow was definitely the feeling when told my writing had won 2nd prize. Thank you to everyone at the Yeovil Literary Prize.

THIRD - Morag Lewis with The Boy Who Wanted to Catch the Truth
Tony commented:
This is a charming, intelligent, and unique way of looking at the abstract nature of truth.

Morag Lewis

Morag Lewis

I've been writing stories for fourteen years, but until recently they have all been in the form of comics. I am a member of Sweatdrop Studios, a small independent graphic novel publisher, and have written and drawn more than ten graphic novels, including "Sun Fish Moon Fish", which placed first in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards (teenage category) in 2012. I am a Christian and a molecular biologist; I study the genetics of hearing loss by day and draw comics at night. And the weekends. I've been working on writing without any pictures for a few years now, but haven't quite managed to give them up yet. I am very excited to have won a place in the Yeovil Literary Prize awards.

Most of what I have written and drawn is available on my website




Tony commented: “ I chose a shortlist of 4 and found it very difficult to pick three. Perhaps the fourth could be VERY highly commended? It was… Very silly. Genuinely funny moments. Whilst lacking in structure, there's a lot of potential here.....“

Nicholas Morrish A Fall of Dunnocks
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