SIXTH Element Publishing, based in Billingham, work with writers of all ages to help them publish their books and, at the start of this new football season, the company has launched a short story competition. They are looking for the best Boro stories to publish in a new anthology.

Stories can be up to 3,000 words and can be non-fiction, true life stories, creative non-fiction where real life is fictionalised, or total fiction of any genre such as sci-fi, fantasy or chick-lit.

The “We Are Boro Short Story Competition” is free to enter and will be judged by three ardent Boro supporters: Dave Brown, the Manager of WH Smith Teesside Park, Rob Nichols, who is the editor of Boro Fanzine “Fly Me To The Moon”, and Yvonne Ferguson, Head of Supporter Services at Middlesbrough Football Club.

Yvonne said: “I’m so excited to be a judge and looking forward to reading everyone’s stories. We love working closely with our supporters, and this is a great chance for them to tell their stories.”

“It’s great for the town and the football club to have a place where we can showcase longer stories and show the immense creativity we have here in Middlesbrough and Teesside,” said Rob.

The judges’ 20 favourite short stories will be published in an anthology by Sixth Element Publishing and will be on sale in time for Christmas this year at WH Smith Teesside Park.

Dave, the manager of WH Smith, is also the author of “Oh What Fun It Is”, a collection of away day stories. He added: “We always love hearing the fans’ stories. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with a publisher to get your stories edited professionally and published in a book that will be a great addition to every Boro fan’s bookcase.”

Sixth Element are well known in the area for encouraging and publishing local talent. This year’s releases are from writers for Stokesley, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton. They run workshops in schools and are actively involved in writing festivals and competitions.

Gillie Hatton of Sixth Element said: “This year’s competition is for over-16s only, but we want to include everyone, so next year we’ll be launching a kids’ competition with an anthology to be released before the end of the season. If anyone under 16 wants to send in their story now, please do, mark it Kids’ competition, and we’ll save it for next year. “

More details are online at Gillie will be in the family zone at the Millwall match tomorrow (Saturday, August 24), if anyone would like a chat about writing,

short stories or the competition. The deadline for entries to the competition is midnight on September 30.

Jan Hunter