2020 Awards Highly Commended

Congratulations to our Highly Commended entrants! Please join us in congratulating them and wishing them well in their writing journey. You can leave comments at the bottom of their profile.

Suzanne Smart head and shoulders
A narcissistic/sexual/physical abuse survivor’s guide to recognising and relinquishing the fear triggers, positively impact their lives by reconnecting with their inner spark, finding their self esteem, creating a life of purpose for themselves and a legacy of peace for their loved ones and communities.

Hi! I’m Suzanne; a proud Mum & Mamgu (Welsh for Grandmother), English Teacher, Usui Reiki Master Teacher, NLP Practitioner, Mental Health First Aider, Counsellor and Coach from South Wales who currently lives and works in West Yorkshire. I like to consider myself as the honorary English settler who

Michael Jack Webb image
While investigating the ritualistic murder of a young woman in his congregation a Pulitzer Prize–winning-reporter-turned-pastor encounters supernatural forces and discovers he is the key to preventing an ancient evil from being loosed on the Earth.

Michael Jack Webb graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida and obtained his J. D. from the same university. Over the past forty years he’s travelled the world in search of adventure. He’s a history buff, both ancient and modern, and is fascinated by the intersection of the scientific

Emily MacNevin
Ruby's Big Red Heart is a warm and compassionate children's picture book story about a little girl who has a big heart full of love and wants to spend Valentine's Day morning sharing it around to everyone. Ruby doesn't discriminate against race, age or sex and loves everyone and everything equally which is the moral of the story. Ruby enjoys a morning stroll and gives everyone she meets a red heart balloon.

Emily MacNevin is a freelance music journalist, currently writing for Prog, Spin (USA) and Record Collector magazines. She has been freelancing since she was 21 after completing multiple work experience placements at local newspapers including West Sussex County Times and Dorking Advertiser where

a photo of Richard Attree
A couple of mismatched petty criminals find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew when they dognap the canine co-stars of a blockbuster movie, are tracked through cyberspace by a quirky, big-hearted female pet detective, and discover what we can all learn from Man’s Best Friend.

RICHARD ATTREE grew up in London in the 1960s—an exciting time, and place, to be a teenager. By the mid-1970s, he had a degree in philosophy and was playing keyboards in various unsuccessful jazz, rock, and soul bands. He always wanted to be a writer, but was diverted into writing music rather than

Author headshot for Billy Wittenberg
A pregnant orphan flees her violent boyfriend, who becomes obsessed with finding her and reclaiming his son.

A Murder on the Border formed in my mind over the course of nearly ten years. It filled my dreams, haunted my steps on the treadmill, and robbed my attention during meetings at work. Finally, in 2018, I decided I would write the story, if only to get it out of my head. Although I had always been

C.L. Wells Headshot
When a guest is murdered at a remote resort and all communication is cut off with the outside world, mystery writer Jill Pemberton must help solve the crime before the killer strikes again.

C.L. Wells is an indie author who writes in a variety of genres including murder mystery, YA, and paranormal fiction. He is the founder of Creative Writing with a Mission.

Oliver Richbell
A change must be made. Permanently removing The Prime Minister is the only way.

This was the aim of a band of conspirators intent on quashing the Brexit Referendum result. Everything was planned with military precision and with the words “we go tonight” they were ready to initiate Gloriana.

After spending over a decade as a lawyer Oliver now runs a dispute resolution consultancy that helps businesses avoid, manage and resolve their commercial disputes through dialogue and negotiation. He is also Chairman of Bedfordshire’s region of Wooden Spoon, a national charity that helps socially

Picture of Ben Marney
Everyone in the small beach town of Matagorda, Texas thought that Travis Lee and Savannah Walker were destined to be together. Travis had fallen in love with her beautiful turquoise eyes when he was eight years old, and for the next ten years they planned every detail of their lives; he would become a lawyer and she would raise their three children in a beautiful beach house overlooking the ocean.

Unfortunately, all those plans and dreams disappeared into the hot humid Texas air when Savannah shattered his 18 year old heart. The next day, Travis left town without saying a word and joined the Marines. Although he knew he could never forgive her for what she had done, through all the years to follow, he never stopped loving her.

Now, 16 years later, he is a successful lawyer, but Savannah...his one true love...is missing. She has vanished into the thin air.

Everyone in Matagorda believes that, Levi Cruz, Savannah’s abusive husband, has finally killed her, but Travis is not convinced. In his nightly recurring dreams, Savannah appears to him, telling him she is still alive, lost and alone, waiting for him to find her.

Against all odds and logic, ignoring everyone’s advice, he begins a frantic, dangerous and deadly search to find her and bring her home.

I've spent my life working as a traveling musician. Along the way, I've met some interesting people and seen some indescribable things. Although my books are works of fiction, they are based on real people I've met and the amazing places I've been. For over 4 decades, along with my wife Dana, we

Man with short beard and glasses, and short brown hair, is standing in front of a painting of Autumn trees with a closed mouth smile.
When their land of living magic begins to rupture peace and the very earth, a group of young adults attempt to find answers to the unyielding veil of the soul by restoring a vanished order of peace keepers, in order to master the unchecked storms that threaten to tear apart the essence of existence.

I am a writer who has recently found true joy in fatherhood and story writing from a Creative Writing degree from the University of Washington. Now in Colorado with wife and child, I have continued to explore my fascinations in the concepts of complex emotions and the elusive soul; finding my own

Robert Fear Author Photo
This true to life memoir follows 21-year-old Fred’s adventures as he acclimatises to living abroad. In a time before instant communication, he keeps in touch with family and friends by letter. They are his lifeline to home.

Robert Fear has lived in Eastbourne, on the south coast of the UK, for half his life. He moved there to be with Lynn, his future wife, and is still there with her over thirty years later. As cat-lovers they have taken on several rescue cats over the years and are owned by three at the moment. For

The image depicts a woman standing in the rain, a duffel bag at her feet. A car is stopped nearby with the door open, offering a ride.
A young detective is partnered with an older, seasoned detective to investigate the murder of homeless people in the community. As they investigate the murders, they discover just how difficult it is living on the street. Meanwhile, the killer inserts himself into the investigation while planning his next murder, requiring the detectives to risk everything to save the life of someone close to them.

I am a retired police officer, retiring at the rank of Captain, in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division at the Dubuque, Iowa, Police Department. At Arm's Length is my first book, and am currently working on two other books.

Peryn Roel Black and White
Three siblings discover a magic door and a key beneath an old willow, sending them traveling through the Realms of Llalethar. When Ella is cursed by the enemy, she must fight the power of the curse and the fear that she may cause the downfall of the Realms as foretold in a Prophecy of long ago.

"The Unfolding of Time," by Peryn Roel, is about three siblings who embark on an incredible adventure through the Realms of Llalethar. The story centers around a prophecy said to involve three human children and is filled with eccentric creatures that are met along the way. Peryn's ideas drew from

Richard F Novak in his sculpture studio
An American sculptor’s love for an Italian woman belonging to a subversive secret society, draws him into her dangerous world of Italian politics. After he joins Garibaldi’s unsuccessful defense of Rome, they flee to Florence, where they begin their perilous journey to America.

Novak divided his time as a physician between teaching medical students and working in his sculpture studio. To further his passion for sculpture he spent a year travelling throughout Italy studying the Italian sculptors. His academic position required the usual dictum, “publish or perish” and he

Min Day
Joanna’s isolated summer idyll proves more prison than sanctuary as she waits for a letter which will never arrive. She only has her embittered son for company and when his friend turns up unannounced he provides a welcome sexual distraction. But can she trust him? Can she trust her teenage son? A tale of hot, hedonistic days framed by vanity and deceit and truths no one wants to face.

Min Day is a freelance writer and has worked with public and health organisations as well as in the corporate world. Min developed Love Letters, a dark, psychological novel, after writing about domestic abuse for a local authority. In the book, Min delves into the deepest flaws of her characters to

Aboard HMS Bounty built for 1962 MGM feature MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY
These short stories about growing up gay are each told in first person voice from ages 12 through 18. A short essay from the author sets the scene for the first story, "Hey, Jeff" as told by a 12 year-old boy in grade school who is suddenly struck by his love for his best friend. He realizes that his heartbreaking attraction will inevitably destroy their relationship. The remainder of the stories reveal his up-and-coming understanding and eventual acceptance of his own sexuality.

As writer, director, and editor, my films include THE GREENSTONE NARRATED BY ORSON WELLES (34 minutes available on YouTube), THE FIFTH VICTIM WAS TRUTH (45 minute Cinemascope thesis film from Boston University, also available on YouTube), and comedy feature AS LONG AS IT TAKES currently on festival

A forbidden love…
A royal family in despair.
Rules are not made to be broken,
But he will break them all.

Brooke Sivendra lives in Adelaide, Australia with her husband and two furry children—Milly, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Izzy, an Australian black Kelpie who keeps Brooke running around in her down time! Brooke has a degree in Nuclear Medicine and worked in the field of medical research before

Rosemary Esehagu is a novelist and poet.
Although facing bullying about her different appearance, a mixed-race child embraces her family and spiritual values to overcome her insecurity and accept herself as beautiful.

Rosemary Esehagu is a mom, a novelist, and a poet who was born in Nigeria. She is a believer in pursuing different interests and embracing one’s self. Her works typically focus on identity, self-concept, and social issues. The mind and the role external and internal forces play to shape the mind

Headshot of Walt Larimore
Visualize "Unbroken" meeting "Seabiscuit," or "Band of Brothers" combined with "War Horse." This gripping World War II true story describes the unbelievable journey of a cantankerous boy eventually tamed by the Army (and some amazing horses) into the youngest front-line officer in WWII. The author incorporates eyewitness accounts of extraordinary soldiers and the horses—the human and equine “warhorses” of the Southern European Theater from Africa to Italy and through Frace into Germany--the so-called "Forgotten Front." Included is the previously untold account of a top-secret mission in which our protagonist finds the threatened world-famous Lipizzaners, as well as an exquisite champion Thoroughbred – the horse he would rescue and that would later save him after he received a series of devasting war wounds. It’s a mesmerizing and redemptive tale of evil overcome by faith.

Walt Larimore is a Colorado-based family physician and a prolific writer having authored or co-authored over 30 books and over 1000 in a wide variety of lay and professional journals and magazines. His best-selling books include the "Bryson City" memoirs, four novels, and books on health, marriage

David N Robinson
Oleg Usmanov, a cunning Russian intelligence officer with friends in high places, tries to outwit Western spies desperate to turn him into their double agent – with the very real danger that certain twists in the plot could end up tripping even the most seasoned of professional state actors.

A while ago, I was a partner and chief operating officer in a major accounting firm, and latterly held the same role in an international law firm. It took me 36 years and several million air miles to do, arguably, what I should have done several years earlier: give up the day job and focus on a

Forward facing headshot of Chas Harrington
A pessimistic rogue, living in London 2073, with the ability to predict human behaviour, uses his skill to carry out assassinations in a world under extreme surveillance. He is hired to kill the head of homeland security, quickly becoming the most difficult thing he’s ever done. As well as unearthing a moral compass he never knew he had.

Hi, I'm Chas, I come from a film background, so I'm going from one form of storytelling to another hoping I can better broaden my craft and keep creative in these uncertain times. I've made a few award-winning short films and I always have a script on the back-burner, but I am excited to venture

John Righten
1992. Lenka Brett, a young Irish teacher who survived numerous dangerous encounters when she delivered aid to orphanages and hospitals in Romania, embarks on a new aid mission into war-torn Bosnia. But as she is about to enter Snipers' Alley, she discovers her former lover's horrifying secret.

John has delivered medical aid to orphanages and hospitals across the globe, including Romania during the revolution, and South America and Bosnia during the war. His Rogues novels are based on the characters he encountered during his many dangerous missions, when he enlisted unlikely support from

A picture of Jeff Elkins standing in front of green trees.
A cheating husband. A missing nanny. A suspicious organization. Moneta Watkins and Stacie Howe are on the case. Private Detective Moneta Watkins has a special gift - she can relive people's memories. With her partner, Stacie Howe, she tackles the cases no one else can solve.

Jeff Elkins's work blends a deep love for people and life in an urban setting with supernatural, plot-twisting, fast-paced storytelling. He loves writing diverse heroes, making readers experience deep emotions, and telling stories that keep readers guessing. In 2014, after working in nonprofits for

Profile photo of Rhoda Baxter AKA Jeevani Charika
A gay man and a straight woman get married to appease their families. They are the ultimate power couple ... until they fall in love.

Rhoda Baxter writes romantic comedies about strong women and nice guy heroes. She also writes multicultural women’s fiction, under her real name, Jeevani Charika. Her books have been shortlisted for various awards. She was born in the South of England, but spent much of her childhood in Sri Lanka

Portrait of the author Dominic Hayes
As British sea power is challenged in WW1, Captain 'Blinker' Hall must break the German codes. But with no help from his superior, who can he trust?

Since childhood Dominic enjoyed stories. An avid reader in his youth, he had always wanted to write fiction, but rarely found the time. After University, he taught for three years at a secondary school in the West Midlands, followed by two years in West Africa. On his return to the UK, he married

Jessica Bird on the beach in purple scarf and black and white checkered sweater
Walk with me through my journey of healing, forgiveness, and finding peace after a violent assault.

Jessica Bird is best known for her loving, cheerful approach to life. Her work is written from a place of vulnerability, honesty, and a desire to truly empower readers to live their full potential. Jessica lives on the Oregon coast, a dream-come-true central to the publishing of her second book

Image of Beth Barany, Novelist
At Bijoux de L’Étoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, lead investigator Janey McCallister needs to solve a priceless gem theft. When the case escalates to murder, Janey must rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.

An award-winning novelist, Beth Barany writes science fiction and fantasy for young adults and adults. Her first novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer won Grand Prize in a California Indie Author contest. Based in Oakland, California, with her husband, Ezra Barany, also a novelist, Beth has lived abroad

smiling picture of kitiera morey
For six months, revenge has been Darlene's lifeblood. She can't regain what she's lost, but she'll make everyone who's wronged her regret ever crossing her. When she discovers a terrible Uprising secret, she must decide how far she's willing to go to extract her pound of flesh.

Kitiera Morey is a lively perfectionist with the mouth of a drunken sailor. When she’s not singing off-key for the entire world to hear or feeding her Sonic the Hedgehog addiction, Kitiera searches for the next action adventure or supernatural book to devour in a single night. She lives in New York

Halima khatun profile pic
In the world where it’s everyone’s business set me up, I know I’ll find a husband but will he be the one?

Halima Khatun is a former journalist (having worked for ITV and the BBC), writer and PR consultant. Since she was a child, she knew that words would be her thing. With a lifelong passion for writing, Halima wrote her first novel - a coming-of-age children’s story - at the age of 12. It was politely