#Heatseeker competition

In booksandthecity.co.uk’s most exciting literary competition yet, we teamed up with heat magazine to find and publish an exciting new women’s fiction short story writer.

The plotline could have be anything; the only requirement was that it must fall within the women’s fiction genre!

The term ‘women’s fiction’ is generally used to mean fiction that appeals primarily to women, though is not necessarily written by a women, and tends to be full of modern relationships featuring friends, family and lovers.

It can be funny, it can be sad, but most of all it covers great storytelling with believable characters and plot.

So, whether you had been itching to write for years and just needed that final push; you’re a huge fan of women’s fiction and thought you could write the perfect short story; or you just fancied the ultimate literary challenge for the summer, you could have been in with a chance of becoming a published author!

The Competition

To enter #HeatSeeker you needed to complete a 2,500 word (max) short story

The Judges

The entries are being judged right now by an expert panel that will be looking for a short story which excites, intrigues and surprises them.  A winner will be picked on 7th December 2017.

The panel includes:

Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon


Lucie Cave, Brand Editor-in-chief at heat


Isabelle Broom, author and Book Reviews Editor at heat


Emma Capron, Editor at Simon & Schuster UK


Sara-Jade Virtue, Brand Director at booksandthecity.co.uk


Rebecca Ritchie, literary agent at A.M. Heath

Rebecca Ritchie is a literary agent at A.M. Heath. She represents a list of bestselling commercial fiction authors, including Romantic Novel of the Year Award-winning Iona Grey and author, journalist and Costa Book Award judge Sarra Manning. Rebecca is on the lookout for debut and established authors of contemporary women’s fiction, reading group, historical and suspense.

RR headshot

The Deadline

All entries must have be emailed to us by 11.00pm on 30th September 2017. The deadline can not be extended under any circumstances.

The Prize

The winning author will receive an author mentoring session with Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon and a critique of your work over lunch with Literary Agent Rebecca Ritchie.  They will also receive an eBook contract from Simon & Schuster UK to include 25% author royalties, and ultimately will have their debut published in eBook format.  No cash alternative will be available and the prize is non-transferable.

Woman at number24 HeatSeeker (3)


Queen Of Wishful Thinking HeatSeeker1

 Last Piece Of My Heart HeatSeeker






Practice Makes Perfect HeatSeeker

Coming To Cuckoo Heatseeker

Picturehouse by the sea Heatseeker

Thrill Heatseeker



Fabulous Writing Tips from judge Paige Toon!

Write what you love, not what you think you should. Yes, it can make commercial sense to follow a trend, but if your heart’s not in it, your readers will see through you, if not now, then later. If you love what you’re writing, there’s an audience out there who is guaranteed to love it, too. The trick is finding that audience, and that starts with a publisher who also needs to love how you write and who wants to do everything they can to widen your readership. There’s little lovelier than getting lost inside characters and stories that you believe in, so always follow your heart on this one.

Do your research. I don’t follow a set formula with this. Sometimes I’m writing and I come to a section that requires me to know more about my characters, so I take a break and spend some time researching. But this can halt the flow of your writing, so I’ve also been known to write BLAH and then come back to it later in the editing stage. The fastest I’ve ever written a book was when I spent a solid week researching everything from bars and clubs that my heroine might go to, to the dresses she might wear, to the names and characteristics of the people she might meet. It was so quick to open those documents and choose what fitted the situation.

Try to go to the places you’re writing about. My family holiday each year is often dictated by where my next book will be set, or if we’re choosing the location before the story, I’ll almost certainly try to set a book there in future. The Last Piece of My Heart is set in Cornwall, where I went with my family last summer. We camped in our old campervan (Hermie – yep, he’s real), but it wasn’t until we were driving out of the campsite at the end of the holiday that I realised the setting would be perfect for Bridget’s story. We also went to Thailand (another location in the book) for Christmas the year before last and it was so beautiful, I knew I had to find a plot that would take my characters there. Nothing brings your creations to life more than when you’re sitting in the places that they might sit and writing about what you’re seeing and feeling. Ideas spring to mind from out of nowhere.

Find quiet time to reflect. For me, it helps if I go for a long walk and listen to music. Away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, my mind has a chance to wander. To begin with, it often just processes things completely unrelated to my books, but soon enough it’ll move in the direction of my stories and before I know it, my characters are having conversations inside my head. The trick, then, is remembering those conversations later. Sometimes I jot down stuff down on my phone as I’m walking, but I know I should get more used to using a Dictaphone…

Be inspired by beauty. When I got a book deal for Lucy in the Sky I was too scared to read women’s fiction for several years afterwards. I was worried I’d read work by other authors and think I fell well short in comparison. Now I’m more comfortable in my own shoes, and reading other authors just inspires me to do better. It also helps unlock writers’ block. There’s no point in sitting in front of your computer and staring at a blank page or hating what you’re writing. Take a break, read a book, go for a walk, go see a movie – even if your breaks lasts several days or even weeks, sometimes it’s what you need to see the wood for the trees and get writing again. It also sometimes helps to skip to a scene you’re really excited about writing, or try to get past the tricky part as quickly as possible – you can always go back and fill out those sections in the editing stage if you need to.


Top Tips from @BookMinxSJV

  1. Write a story you would most like to read
  2. Make me laugh
  3. Make it fresh and original
  4. Make me cry
  5. Keep the story moving
  6. Grab me from the first line
  7. Tell me a story I haven’t read before
  8. Excite, engage and captivate me
  9. Create characters I will believe in and like
  10. Remember, we are only looking for a short story in the ‘women’s fiction’ genre!


Terms & Conditions
- Open to UK residents aged 18 and over
- The competition opens on 18th April 2017 and closes at 11.00pm on 30th September 2017
- Entries received after the closing date will not be considered
- To enter submit your short story, which should be a maximum of 2,500 words to the email address above
- The prize is: publication of the winning eBook short story in Spring 2018; an author mentoring session with Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon; a critique of your work by Literary Agent Rebecca Ritchie and a standard eBook contract from Simon & Schuster UK which includes a 25% author royalty from the proceeds of sales. The eBook short story will retail at RRP £1.99.
- A winner will be picked on 7th December 2017 by: Editor of heat magazine, Emma Capron and the Books and the City team at Simon and Schuster UK
- No cash alternative will be available and the prize is non-transferable
- For details of the winner, email heatseeker@simonandschuster.co.uk within one month of the closing date
- Bauer reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions for this competition at any time without notice.