I've been judging entries for the Young Crime Writers' Competition and what a tough job

I’ve been judging the entries for the Young Crime Writers’ Competition organised by the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) of Great Britain, (of which I am a member), and what a tough job. I am one of the judges for the Southern Area Awards to find the South’s best young crime writer who will go forward for a national prize to be announced during National Crime Fiction Week, June 14-20. It's been incredibly difficult whittling down the entries to ten.

The competition was aimed at writers aged up to 18 and stories were submitted via participating libraries across the UK in January and February with a word limit of 1,000.

Participating libraries for my area in the south of England were libraries in Portsmouth, Southampton, the Isle of Wight, and the larger branches in West Sussex, which included: Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham, Storrington and Worthing.

There were some great entries and fascinating stories but I finally managed to pick ten and the winner. These will be announced at an Awards Ceremony which is taking place on Saturday 24 April at 10.45 am at Portsmouth Central Library.

Each shortlisted entrant will receive a certificate while the area winner will be awarded a certificate and a £10 book token and will go forward for the national prize. The national winner will receive an engraved pen, a selection of signed books, and a weekend pass for the winner and one accompanying adult, including one night’s accommodation, and tickets to the Gala Dinner at Crimefest 2011 (19-22 May 2011) an annual convention which draws top crime novelists from around the world. I am at CrimeFest in 2010 (21 May Royal Marriott Hotel, Brsitol) and hope also to be one of the speakers in 2011.

I look forward to meeting the shortlisted entrants and congratulating them but would also like to congratulate all the young entrants for taking the time to participate and for their energy, enthusiasm and initiative. I’d also like to thank the libraries for their help in organising this, the Crime Writers’ Association and in particular CWA member and author Diane Janes for pulling this together.

I’ll announce the shortlisted entrants and the winner here after 24 April.

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