This week’s prompt to go surreal, historical or sinister…
Use the title. Include four fish and a woman called Margaret. Sea horses optional.
It’s raining today at the beginning of my birthday weekend — the day itself is on Monday, but the whole month has been particularly sunny with successes and fun events. I was delighted that my flash fiction ‘Winter Spider’ won the Flash 500 quarterly competition and now, encouraged by people’s comments, I plan to write a longer sequence around the characters. Less organising and more writing is the mantra for June. Could this happen, I wonder, with the Flash Fiction Festival coming up in July?
In other writing news, my story ‘The Ways of the Flesh’ was selected for the National Flash Fiction Anthology, 2018. I’m very, very happy to be included in this with a great line up of writing friends. Also, my tiny micro, ‘Wings of Desire’ — which does, yes, reference the film directed by Wim Wenders, received a highly commended in a new micro contest judged by write and editor Jayne Martin in Bending Genres magazine. And was fun to write.
The evening of readings of Ad Hoc Fiction winners for Ad Hoc’s third birthday earlier this month in Bath went brilliantly with great readings and a birthday cake with a sparkler made by Diane Simmons. This length of micro (150 words) works very well read out loud when there are a lot of readers. Eleven came from around the country and Louise Mangos came from Switzerland. The pace and the energy was perfect. And many people said how much they liked the variety of fictions and how much could be said in so few words.
Last week, I had the privilege of going to the Saboteur Festival Day last week and was stunned and so thrilled that Charmaine Wilkerson won the novella category for her novella-in-flash ‘How to Make a Window Snake’. And I am very pleased for Ad Hoc Fiction who published this beautiful collection of novellas-in-flash last June and has had this acknowledgement.
This month, I also went to the reception for Creative Bath finalists where Bath Flash Fiction is a short-listed in the publishing category. Results in June at a party in Queen’s Square, Bath. Fingers crossed.
May is looking great for flash fiction and related events. First up -Friday May 4th at St James’ Wine Vaults Bristol, 7.30 -9.30 pm. I’ve organised an evening of readings for Ad Hoc Fiction’s third birthday party with ten or eleven writers reading their Ad Hoc Fiction wins. One of these writers is Louise Mangos, who is coming all the way from Switzerland. She’s illustrated all three wins and her picture here goes with her story, ‘Heat’. Free entry, free wine and free birthday cake. Do come.
On May 16th there’s a reception in Bath for finalists of the 2018 Creative Bath Awards. Bath Flash Fiction Award is a finalist in the category of Publisher for the anthologies, pictured here, published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2017. You can buy them all at bookshop.adhocfiction.com Or if you’re in Bath, buy from Toppings bookshop and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. I applied for these awards at the eleventh hour and am thrilled to be a finalist.
May 18th- 19th is the Saboteur Awards weekend. These prestigious awards happen yearly and initially, they ask for nominations to create a long list and then afterwards, further voting for the best of writing and performing in several categories. Charmaine Wilkerson’s wonderful novella-in-flash ‘How To Make A Window Snake’, in one of the four anthologies published by Ad Hoc Fiction last year, is short-listed in the novella category. I’m off to London for the day to hear the outcome at the Awards announcements on the Saturday evening and hoping that she’ll win.Vote for her by the May 9th deadline.
I was also very pleased that my own chapbook, The Chemist’s House was longlisted for the Saboteur Awards short story collections category awards, and another Bath Flash Fiction anthology, ‘The Lobsters Run Free’ was long listed in the anthology category.
I’m also looking forward to the results of few flash fiction contests I’ve entered. I think they’ll be announced in May. My birthday is at the end of the month so getting writing recognition at my enormous age would be a bonus birthday treat. Further on this year and there’s the second Flash Fiction Festival I’m directing, to look forward to. Everything suggests it’s going to be another fab event. Book up at flashfictionfestival.com if you are a flash fiction friend and haven’t yet, because I’ll miss you otherwise…
Latest writing news here
January 2018 is starting off with a flourish. I am honoured to be interviewed as guest reader for Smoke Long Quarterly and am selecting a story from the submissions received from January 8th to January 14th. They suggested I could include a picture of my writing desk but didn’t use it eventually. Anyway, as it’s now a lot tidier than it was, here is the grand tour…
Being involved in so many flash fiction projects is really exciting. And in my 60s, it’s thrilling having success as a writer of short-short fiction. There’s nothing like being a late developer. So here’s the latest news…
In early September I read my first prize winning story,’At the Hospital’ at the Retreat West launch of their first winners’ anthology, What was Left,in Waterstone’s book shop, Reading.
At the end of September I launched The Chemist’s House, my V.Press pamphlet, which was published in June and fellow flash fiction writer, Diane Simmons, made me a cake pictured here.
That was a fantastic addition to a fun evening at St James’ Wine Vaults Bath. And a lovely surprise. We ate half of the cake at the evening. And it kept me going in cake for quite a while afterwards. Diane, Tino Prinzi, Conor Haughton, Meg Pokrass and Alison Powell were guest readers at the occasion and all read brilliantly.
On Saturday morning, 11th November, I am thrilled to be reading my August Word Factory flash of the month, ‘Other People’ at the flash fiction event at the Word Factory Citizen Festival . (More about the 0rigins of that story in my previous blog post).
Last month, I was short listed in the Bridport flash fiction prize with a story, originally drafted in the amazing Kathy Fish Fast Flash online course last May. I have now submitted that one elsewhere. This month, my flash fiction, ‘Swifts’, originally published in the ‘Nottingham Review’ was highly commended in the Inktears flash fiction competition. It will be published on their website soon.
In the last month, I’ve been busy compiling the Flash Fiction Festival June 2017 festival anthology with the help of Diane Simmons and Santino Prinzi and that anthology, together with the second volume of Bath Flash Fiction, will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction, by the end of the year. Some great reads inside those. And both books look really good.
My article on turning dreams into fiction will be published in Project Calm magazine this month. And I am so delighted that stories from Charmaine Wilkerson and Alison Powell, as well as one of mine from my pamphlet, will be included as examples of dreams turned into fiction. Charmaine and Alison came to my Dream Breakfast session at the flash fiction festival in Bath and drafted the stories there.
I love teaching writing and am co-running an intensive ‘Flashathon’. at Trinity College, Bristol on 25th November with Meg Pokrass from 10 am – 4.00 pm. Production of at least six micro drafts is guaranteed and there’s an opportunity to get feedback and editing tips too. We’re holding the second flash fiction festival at Trinity College in July 2018, so it’s an opportunity to take a peek at the venue. Some places left. And anyone already addicted to the form or interested in trying their hand at short short fiction is welcome. Booking and more details at bathflashfictionaward.com under ‘Event’.
I’m also running a series of eight sessions on writing and editing flash fiction, suitable for beginners and experienced writers of the short-short form, in Bath beginning in January. Wednesday lunchtimes upstairs at Cafe Retro. There are currently six places left. More details and booking at writingeventsbath.com
This August I won the Word Factory’s monthly flash fiction contest, which has the on-going theme of citizenship, identity and belonging, with my story ‘Other People’ A lot of people like the story. It’s been lovely to get that feedback on social media. I mentioned on Twitter, in response to a query, that it had been inspired by garden gnomes. Reviled so much for making peoples’ front gardens vulgar, they are now making a comeback. I saw a row of them in a posh Art Gallery near Bruton, Somerset last April. The exhibition, in a reference to Aldous Huxley, was called ‘Brave New World’ so it wasn’t actually a celebration of kitsch.
The characters in my story, who are all lonely, live in different places and gain comfort from different solitary activities. The narrator likes the presence of the garden gnomes, the ‘tiny cheerful men’ in her garden. Although they are alone, all these people are connected by their relationship with the moon. Which gives some hope.
The piece was also prompted by an invitation from a member of my ‘Flash Follies’ online flash fiction writers’ group, for everyone to write something in the second person, an article I read about a pod of stranded whales, and my hairdresser, who during the time of the meteor showers last year, told me she and her boyfriend parked up in a lay-by, climbed on the roof of their car and lay flat to watch the shooting stars. I thought that was a wonderful thing to do.
I would absolutely love to read ‘Other People’ at a Word Factory event, something which has been indicated as a possibility for winners. So I hope that comes off.
My pamphlet, ‘The Chemist’s House’ published by V Press in June and also available to buy on this site, has had a couple of outings — one at Novel Nights last month, where I read one of the longer flash fictions, ‘Mirela’ and one at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bath, where I read a slightly different version of the story, ‘At the Hospital’, that won the Retreat West flash fiction contest, judged by David Gaffney this year. Thank you to everyone who bought the book on those occasions. I’m holding an official launch of ‘The Chemist’s House’ at one of Bath Flash Fiction Award’s regular Flash Fridays at St James’ Wine Vaults, Bath on Friday 29th September, 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm. I’ll read for about ten minutes there, along with Meg Pokrass, Diane Simmons, Tino Prinzi, Alison Powell and Conor Haughton who’ll be reading some of their stories too. It’s free this time, as it’s a launch. Plus a free glass of wine. Plus nibbles. Wonder if I can manage cup cakes? Plus books for sale. Hope you can come!
The Flash Fiction Festival in Bath at the end of June was wonderful. I’m just getting back to writing now after sorting out post festival things and also thinking about next year’s festival. We are definitely going to organise another one, the feedback was great. I was just sorry not to be able to chat to other writers. It was so busy all the time. Must build in more chat time for 2018! Here’s a picture of me reading my story, ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Fish’, from NFFD anthology 2017, ‘Sleep is a Beautiful Colour’ to a big festival crowd.
There is so much going on in the world of flash fiction! The big news for me is that my flash fiction pamphlet, ‘The Chemist’s House’, published by the wonderful Sarah James at V Press is now out in the world and you can buy it here on this site. The picture is me being a proud author on publication day,which was yesterday, Friday 16th June. My pamphlet will also be for sale at the Flash Fiction Festival on 24/25 June in Bath.
In other flashy news, I was delighted to reach the final 22 in Flash Frontier’s Micro Madness contest. They post one story a day until June 22nd, National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand. Scroll down their blog to June 14th, to read my story about the Owl and the Pussycat’s future relationship. I am also thrilled that my flash fiction written during Flashnano last November, ‘Ten Ways to Prepare For Your Brothers’ Visit’, is going to be posted on the Flash Flood blog on National Flash Fiction Day UK at 1.00 pm. It will be nice to see it up there at lunch time on Saturday, during the Flash Fiction Festival. So many flash fiction friends from social media are coming. It’s going to be amazing. And I will get the chance to read a story from my pamphlet in the evening of readings on the Saturday night. Booking for the festival is closed and nearly everything is now sorted. It’s been great working as the Director with the flash festival team. Meg Pokrass, Diane Simmons, Santino Prinzi, Michael Loveday, Matt Coles and Louisa Bailey. And we also have Freya Morris in charge of the raffle on the day.
For those who are coming, see you soon. For those who aren’t able to make it, there’s always next year. The intention is definitely to hold another one in 2018.,
The other week, I introduced the idea of writing about changes in seasons to convey the passage of time in fiction. The story prompts were based on packets of seeds.
So, give this exercise a go if you want a quick-write this evening to celebrate the end of March and maybe the beginning of your story growing season. Set the timer and go, go, go. Get to the end in 20 mins.
Title first – Choose some words from a seed packet in the picture or a seed packet of your own. Could be the name of the plant, eg. Sungold. Or could be anything else on the packet eg Summer Cropping.
Choose a character completely unlike yourself who grows vegetables. Done it all his/her life. Or not.
The story begins with this character planting the seed. Each shift of season is a major shift in the story. Show the plant growing too and indicate the changes in inner and outer landscapes for your character. The story ends when the plant has come to the end of its life. But the character is not the plant So it’s change, not death.
And yes, of course it has been done before. Jack. The Beanstalk. The Giant. The Golden Goose. Fi fo fi. etc. But never mind. Your story is different. Make it foolish if you like, ready for the beginning of April.