Short Story Judge

Hi, I’m Jackie Collins (that makes me sound like Johnny Cash, and sorry, not that Jackie Collins, who sadly died in 2015).  I was born in London England in 1959, raised in Cambridgeshire and have lived in Grimsby, North East, Lincolnshire for the last 40 years.  


As a child if I was given money or asked what I would like for a gift, I inevitably chose a story book or paper and pens. My dad joined me to the children’s section of the local library when I was about 8. He patiently waited while I spent hours on a Saturday morning choosing books to take home. The first one I remember reading was Kipling’s Just So Stories. Followed by children’s classics such as The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, Chronicles of Narnia on through Dickens, Austen, Dahl, teenage magazines and annuals. Through my name sake and beyond. 


I will read chic-lit, detective, anything really, if it is well written. The last book I read was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, who also wrote the brilliant Kite Runner. Both set in Afghanistan over the last 30 years or so. I am currently reading Tombland by C.J. Samson. It is the seventh book in the Shardlake series and I have read them all. Sampson marvellously and accurately describes Tudor England using characters like Henry VIII, his wives, children, Cromwell and the religious leaders of the time. Faction spinning fact and fiction together.  I have read a wide variety of books mostly fiction or autobiographical.  Books can be an escape from everyday life. 

I write short stories, plays and poems. I lead Grimsby Writers, a writing for pleasure group. Our workshops aim to be fun and teach. I am currently working on the Lincolnshire Writers project. Funded by the national lottery community fund and supported by Hammond House. My role is to support the leaders of new writing groups. The project aims to support new writing groups, improve their writing and work with them towards publication. I have had the great honour in this role of working with the blind and partially sighted and the elderly.

What advice would you give to people entering the 2020 competition? 

My advice is read what the Judges say, after all they are going to decide who wins. Look at previous winners of this competition. Use all the wonderful skills you have learned and experience you have gained. Work hard, edit, edit, edit. Read your story out loud to yourself – it is one of the best ways to pick up mistakes.  Ask a trusted person to read it and give you honest constructive advice. Check spelling, grammar, typo’s, proof read and there again if possible, ask someone to proof read it.  Most of all enjoy writing your story and be proud of it, it will be a great achievement to have written a piece you consider worthy of entering. I wish you every success.


As a judge, what are you looking for in a short story?

As a judge in this competition I am looking for that very escapism.  Teach me something as Samson does.  Make me question my understanding of something, a belief an opinion. Give me a different insight into something. Give me something I will remember long after I read it and want to discuss with others. I love strong characters. Good settings. Clear prose. 

Performed & Published Works by Jacqueline Collins

Radio and Theatre: -

Winner of Recycling Radio Promotion Competition                                                             Compass FM 2006

The Snip By Jacqueline Collins                                                                                                Breakwater Theatre Company Present 6 new plays 2013


Short Stories: -

Jackpot                                                            Publication      Insight Magazine                   CPO Media Oct/Nov 2009

Flesh & Blood                                                  Publication      25 Years On                            The Grimsby Writers 2019

Curiosity                                                           Publication      Leaving                                    Anthology - Hammond House Publishing 2019                                                     

Flash Fiction: -

Doubting Thomas                                           Publication      Fathom 10                               Fathom Press 2010

The Masterpiece                                             Publication      25 Years on                             By the Grimsby Writers 2019                           

Fully Automated                                              Publication      25 Years On                            By The Grimsby Writers 2019


Poems and Readings; -                                  Publication      Grimsby Founders Festival 2010 Poems and Readings

Raise the Skull Bowl High

Some Poor Mother’s Son

Cross My Palm with Gold

Limerick’s (Grim’s Statue, Havelok’s Timepiece, A Modern Havelok, The Denmark Men.)  


Judged: -

St James Private School. Grimsby. Speech Day.

Beavers – St Hughs Group – Dementia Awareness for Children Stories - for A Scout Badge.

Valentine Story Competition. for Lincolnshire Writers.  Award ceremony at Hammond House Literary Festival March 2020