Happy Book Birthday! – The first year of Going Short, by Nancy Stohlman

We’re very happy at Ad Hoc Fiction and Bath Flash Fiction to be celebrating the first birthday of the publication of Going Short – an Invitation to Flash Fiction, which was published by Ad Hoc Fiction on October 15th, 2020 and launched on Zoom with readings from different writers who have attended Nancy’s courses and retreats over the years. Going Short is available from Amazon worldwide in paperback and ebook formats and directly from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop (all links to Amazon in different countries are on the shop page).


  • For those who haven’t yet read the book, could you give us a summary of it and of how it can get intrigued newbie flash writers interested and further inspire the more seasoned writer of short short fiction?
    Yes! For those of you just joining the party, I call Going Short my “treatise” on flash fiction. I started writing it in 2009 and it took me 10 years to complete, all while the genre was changing and I was changing, too. And 10 years from now it will probably be a snapshot of a genre in progress, going from something still very new and underground to becoming a recognized and much loved form.

    In the book I draw on all my teaching and experience over those10 years: writing, editing,publishing, creating collections and other flash fiction books, and of course mindset, which is so important no matter the genre. In fact, while Going Short is flash fiction specific, it’s also a book about good writing in general. I think of it as a continuing conversation about craft and the nuances, difficulties, and delights of this little genre we all love, but I hope any writer in any genre from any phase of their writing could glean wisdom from the conversation.

  • You have had many positive reviews for Going Short this year, and have also talked about it in interviews and on podcasts. Can you tell us about some of the highlights for you on the reception of the book?
    It’s been a wild and wonderful ride, and I have felt very much like a Flash Ambassador over the last year. I have gotten the opportunity to be a guest in many new circles: podcasts, journals, magazines, workshops and conferences, and often those writers were not familiar with flash (or had limited familiarity). So the book has allowed me to make the introduction and reach far more people than I could have done just one-on-one.

    Of course winning the Readers Views prize, and placing in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards AND the International Book Awards, was a dream come true for me and a huge win for flash fiction. I ate a whole cake that day! (okay, small cake, but still!)

    It’s funny: deciding to release the book in 2020, during an extremely unusual year for everyone but especially publishing, was a giant act of trust, but the timing was perfect. We could have delayed the release, but as people were heading into another winter of our covid discontent, they were ready for a book like this. Other highlights: Filming the book trailer was one of my favorite opportunities to “perform” even during quarantine! But honestly seeing all your supportive zoom faces and reading all your beautiful reviews and making so many new writerly friends has really been the highlight of the whole process.

  • In an interview with April Bradley on Going Short for Smokelong Quarterly, you defined flash fiction in a fun way, as the cupcake of literature. And this inspired the recent flash festival day series sponsored by Ad Hoc Fiction and Bath Flash Fiction as well as a special ‘Cupcake’ festival contest, where entrants had to write a hermit crab micro iin the form of a cup cake recipe.The contest, with extra donations, raised £250 for the Huntington’s Disease Association charity. We think Going Short is a playful book and encourages people to experiment in lots of different ways. Would you say that is a hall mark of your style of teaching both on the page and face to face?

    I love how you took that metaphor and ran with it! See: This is why I surround myself with creative people–there is a synergy that happens in creative circles where all currents are firing. And congratulations on all the success you’ve had and all the good work you’ve been doing–it’s fantastic. And you have really given the flash community a place to congregate over the last year, so thank you for that.

    I love that you think of Going Short as a playful book! Thank you. And I agree! I guess I would say I’m a colorful person and that comes out in everything I do. I live and breathe art; I use music to talk about writing and painting to talk about singing and travel to talk about poetry. I’m drawn to the laughing in sadness, the crying in joy. The veil between these worlds is very thin for me.

    But ultimately making art IS playful, or should be. We all take ourselves too seriously (me too), but when the art is true, when it’s necessary, it is also joyful. Rapturous. Even if it’s painful. That’s my true north in writing and teaching (and life)–finding these sublime intersections and glorious contradictions.

  • Are you writing anything new at the moment?
    So much! I’m actually in the “hoarding” phase right now–I haven’t focused on publishing in the last year while promoting Going Short, but now it’s starting to pile up. So probably it’s time to put myself back out there. I recently finished a flash novel dystopia I wrote before 2020, and I’ve got about 150 pages of new stuff that has taken a surprising creative nonfiction/magical realism turn, so…stay tuned.
  • We’re very pleased that you are running another one and a half hour workshop on February 26th, 2022, as part of the next series of Flash Fiction Festival Days. Can you Can you tell about any other upcoming writing courses or events you are teaching?
    Yes. I’m in the middle of my Flash Novel Mastermind, which is a 12 week course I designed specifically for helping writers to the finish line of their big drafts. I love every minute of it. I’m also getting ready to lead a retreat in Iceland with Kathy Fish at the beginning of November, teaching magical flash fiction in the magical darkness (keep fingers crossed for northern lights)!

    And this November will be the 10th anniversary of FlashNano–30 stories in 30 days–so it’s going to be extra playful! Over 1000 people “officially” played last year and probably twice that many unofficially. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And free.

    I’m also planning to teach a few winter workshops in January and February–including another spring Mastermind. I’ll open up registration for those in December, right after FlashNano, but make sure you don’t miss the announcement here

    Looking ahead, I’m working on two summer retreats for 2022: Spain in June and Colorado in August! Stay tuned for those to open up at the end of the year:

    And I’m crossing my fingers to be able to go to the Flash Fiction Festival in person in 2022 and hug you for real! I know you have some dates pencilled in ready to confirm shortly.

  • Finally, Is there anything else to say about Going Short and can people still get signed copies directly from you?
    Absolutely. I’ve still got copies I can sign and put in the mail, just in time for winter reading: (but I must apologize in advance for the obnoxious shipping costs to Europe and Australia–why??)

    And finally what I want to say about Going Short is this: thank you so so much. To you, Jude, and to everyone who has read and passed this book on to others–to everyone who has taken the time to leave a review, to all the book clubs and podcasts and journals that have welcomed me/us. This was my dream 10 years ago–to be able to communicate with writers that I might never get to talk to in “real “ life. The book was my flash message in a bottle, and every time it reaches someone on the other shore I know it was worth it.

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