Spring Short Story Competition: Winners

We’re delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 Spring Short Story Competition.

After you’ve read about our wonderful winners, why not leave a comment at the bottom of the page, like this page on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter? It helps more people find Autumn Voices so we can increase the prize money next time!

There were two themes and a additional prize for the best entry from a person over 80!

Here are our winners for the “Spring” theme:


Ruby Spring Time by Ann Seed from Edinburgh (67)

Ann thinks that the best thing in the world is being a Grannie. She has four grandchildren – all fascinating little characters – but it was three year old Roddy who was the inspiration for her story.

The world to him is completely magic and she loves seeing the wonder on his beautiful face when he listens to stories or discovers new things.

Ann has been writing since she was a teenager and has found it to be a constant, often cathartic, source of enjoyment and distraction. It was only after she retired that Ann started to try her hand at competitions. She discovered that it was a great way to become more disciplined in how, and what, she was writing. She especially loves flash fiction and thoroughly enjoys the challenge of its strict word count.

Ann will be 68 in August, and she has lived in a lovely part of Edinburgh for the past two years. There was recently the most beautiful sunset, one of her favourite sights… as are rainbows!

Here’s what our judge, Leela Soma had to say:

“The story drew me in from the start, as it is written from a child’s point of view. The colour red, ruby was followed meticulously throughout. The combination of his ‘grannie’s poetry,’ the magic weaved into the story perhaps of the Breton folklore, shepherd’s delight at the red sky at night, made the child narrator’s words stand out. It was a different take on the theme of ‘Spring’ but described the season in an enthralling way.”

Runner Up

Releasing the Rock by Sarah Farman from Ayrshire (64)

Sarah Farman, aged 65, graduated in Fine Art in 1978. She practiced and exhibited, as well as teaching adult education arts workshops and classes alongside marrying and raising two children. 

From 1997 to 1999 she took an MA in the Anthropology of Art at UCL. A life-changing event in 2000 took her to an Indian reservation in Montana, USA, with her children, then a move to Alberta, Canada from 2005 to 2010. After that she moved to France, then back to England, then in 2017 she moved to Scotland with her dogs, which, being half-Scottish, felt like a return to one of her homelands. She has always been a writer and it is now her primary creative practice. She self-published writing about Montana and Alberta, wrote a catalogue for her final exhibition in 2020, and a paper she presented at an Imperial War Museum conference has been published in an academic anthology. She is currently studying for an M.Res in Creative Writing at Strathclyde University and has written a novella for the course. She also finished a novel last year.

You can find Sarah at www.farman-arts.com

Listen to an extract of Releasing the Rock by Sarah Farman

Here’s what our judge, Leela Soma had to say:

Set near Ayr, a simple rock in a burn has given rise to this story which is a great metaphor for the protagonists’ life. The story of her ‘spring of liberation, renewal and hope,’ is a tale of its time. It is a telling tale of a feisty woman’s struggle to find her voice and herself in an unhappy relationship. I liked the fact that ‘Spring’ in this story was more than just the blossoming of nature after the hibernation of winter. It spoke to me.

Highly Commended

Café Spring 2021 by Jill Korn from Ayrshire (65)

Jill Korn lives in a village surrounded by fields of (mostly) cows, not far from Glasgow, a few miles from Ayrshire’s beautiful coastline. From the top of the hill, she can see the Isle of Arran in all its moods – except when the clouds are low, and it disappears like Brigadoon.

Jill’s writing focuses mainly on audio drama; she writes and organises the production of short plays, aiming for the standard of performance set by BBC radio drama. As a child, Jill was thrilled by Christmas pantomimes at the Birmingham Rep; she loved to make up conversations in her head between imagined, magical characters. Nothing really changes. In 2017, Jill studied creative writing in Glasgow (another panto city!) and began to realise her imaginary conversations as audio dramas.  

‘Café Spring 2021’ reflects conversations overheard against the clatter and hiss of the cafés that are now coming back to life after a spell of virtual meetings and communication by emoji only.

Listen to an extract of Café Spring 2021 by Jill Korn

Here’s what our judge, Leela Soma had to say:

The Short Story genre is evolving. Like all other writing I like it when authors think ‘outside the box’ and try some new experimental way of writing their stories. I applaud it more when I see someone over the age of sixty attempting new ways of telling a story. ‘Café Spring 2021’ did just that. To use emoji’s short interconnected paragraphs is a new way of telling a story. I liked it. 

Here are our winners for the “Give Back” theme:


Legacy by Ken Cohen from Bournemouth (65)

Ken Cohen had a successful career as an executive coach, often using storytelling to help top corporate executives in the UK, US and Europe enhance their leadership capabilities. Since retiring in 2016 he has turned his attention to writing fiction and in particular short stories. 

Ken completed courses in ‘Writing Fiction – Next Steps’ at the National Centre for Writing in association with the University of East Anglia, and more recently ‘Short Story Writing’ at City University.

In Legacy, Ken wanted to explore how words from the past have the capacity to speak powerfully and move us some eighty years after they were written. He also wanted to explore the notion of ‘receiving’, as well as ‘giving.”

Ken is 65 and lives on the Dorset coast.

Listen to an extract of Legacy by Ken Cohen

Here’s what our judge, Leela Soma had to say:

The story is well crafted with a twist at the end.  The discovery of old letters prompts a search for the writer of the letters and things go awry. Personal touches of the narrator’s reflections of his son who is of a similar age and his deep feelings that the letters should be given to the rightful owner is well written. I liked the flow of the story and the author’s handling of a sensitive topic. Not necessarily a good ‘give back’ story in the placatory, successful sense but that made it more unique and special. 

Runner Up

Giving Back by Janet Jones from Somerset (66)

Janet Jones is 66. She lives and writes in Somerset. She has been writing short stories for many years, and has had a number of competition successes, including the Sunday Times WW1 Story Competition and the Short Story Competition at the Wells Festival of Literature. She has also written her first novel, We Are Unknown, which is available here on Amazon.

Here’s what our judge, Leela Soma had to say:

The runner up is ‘Giving Back’ not a very original title but the story of the torn cheque was intriguing. The author managed to keep the interest of the reader going with the feeling of what’s going to happen next. A ‘happy’ ending to this tale was befitting as the reader followed the trail of this man’s quest and hopes for his future. 

Highly Commended

Cover-Up by Irene Cunningham from Glasgow (66)

Irene Cunningham has had many poems published in many magazines and anthologies over the decades. Hedgehog Press published a poetry conversation between her and Diana Devlin – SANDMEN: A Space Odyssey. One of her poems was nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2019, and she won the Autumn Voices memoir competition. She has recently moved to live in Brighton and is editing several novels from the back shelves.

Here’s what our judge, Leela Soma had to say:

I would also commend ‘Cover-up’ as a story of mystery that sounds a bit implausible but well written. The tale of the two women friends in a tiny village and their lives entwined with love and living together for years was interesting. Stories that are different and taking a broad view of the theme of ‘Give Back’ is what I liked in all these choices of mine.

Over 80’s Winner

I Am But A Springtime Observer by Patti Landmann from Wisconsin (80)

Patti Landmann is retired from the life of a business manager. She enjoys woodcarving, photography, writing and travel. She has been married to Henry for 58 years. Two lovely sons, one angel, and three grandchildren. She enjoys life and nature, butterflies and birds. Friends and memories are both her cache of treasure.

The winner for the best entry in the over 80’s category was Patti Landman, aged 80, from Wisconsin. Her story story is called “I am But a Springtime Observer”.

Listen to an extract of I Am But A Springtime Observer by Patti Landmann

One final word from our lovely judge Leela:

The winners are chosen. I also want to thank all the writers who took the time to enter the competition. It is not easy at any age to enter competitions. The effort needed is not to be scoffed at. I congratulate the winners and all the writers for making this an interesting competition to adjudicate. Keep the pens moving, let the words flow. Good luck with your writing. 

2 thoughts on “Spring Short Story Competition: Winners”

  1. Reading these stories with a cup of coffee was a great way to spend my Saturday morning, thank you all. A special thank you to Sarah Farman, I LOVED your story, and Irene and Jill, as well, great!

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