Best-selling author Minette Walters is preparing to judge a short story competition for Wiltshire and Dorset children's hospice charity Julia's House.
She has also shared her top tips for the young writers taking part.
The competition has categories for children aged five to nine and 10 to 16, and will be judged by a panel chaired by Minette, who has been a patron of Julia’s House for more than 20 years.
Children are asked to submit a story entitled ‘A Different Summer’ and allow their imaginations to run wild as they compete for the £100 prize, and the deadline for submissions is Friday, 31 July.
Minette, whose novels The Ice House and The Sculptress were both adapted as popular TV dramas, is joined on the judging panel by Mark Tattersall, Artistic Director of Dorchester Arts and Ebony Robinson, a Julia’s House Young Ambassador.
In a message to young writers, she said: "Don't feel you have to write about your own summer. It might as easily be a magical, mystery summer or a bleak, sad summer that belongs to someone else.
“Imagine the story you want to write and then choose the words that best describe it. Finally, never forget that readers like stories with exciting beginnings and satisfying endings.
“I and the other judges are so looking forward to reading your stories. We expect to be dazzled by your amazing imaginations!”
The winners and runners-up in both categories will have their stories published on the Julia’s House website, with the winners receiving £100 each and the runners-up £25 each. The prizes have been donated by the Addo Food Group.
Stories must be a maximum of 300 words for five to nine-year-olds and 500 words for 10 to 16-year-olds. Entries must be submitted on an official entry form available from juliashouse.org/summershorties or by post from Julia’s House Summer Shorties, Barclays House, 1 Wimborne Road, Poole, BH15 2BB.
There is no entry fee but anyone taking part in the competition can make a donation to help Julia’s House continue its vital work caring for local children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
Full entry details and terms and conditions are available on the Julia’s House website or by written request.