Author Archives: Jude

Q & A with October 1st prize winner, Dawn Tasaka Steffler

We are delighted to post a Q & A with the October first prize winner, Dawn Taska Steffler from the USA. Dawn sent us some great pictures to go with her answers. A view from her sister’s backyard in Hawaii, her pets Rascal the dog, Momo the cat and Coco the chicken. and an extraodinary photo of her at The Broad in Los Angeles, which looks like she is a giant’s house! Be sure to read all the interview for inspiration and to get to the end and Dawn’s great prompt for writers who might want to enter our next Award. Dawn uses, as inspiration, a very powerful excerpt from a Martin Luther King text.

The Early bird discounts for the February Award, end on Sunday December 17th and the competition deadline is Sunday February 4th, 2024. Our Judge is novelist, short story and flash fiction writer Susmita Bhattacharya from the UK. Interview with Susmita coming very soon.

Q and A with Dawn Tasaka Steffler

    • Congratulations again for your first prize BFFA win in our October Award, judged by Sara Hills.It was wonderful to hear you read your brilliant story Détente at the November online Flash Fiction Festival Day. This story has many layers and says a lot about relationships in the aftermath of a loss by suicide. Did it go through a lot of versions before you decided it was finished?
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    Our Best Small Fictions and Pushcart Prize Nominations 2024

    we always nominate from our yearly winners in the three Awards for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcard Prize each year We are not able to nominate for Best Microfictions as they do not accept stories that will be in print as well as on our website.

    For Best Small Fictions, we are allowed to nominate five stories. It is our pleasure to nominate the three 2023 first prize winners: ‘Market Forces’ by Louie Fooks, ‘Remembered Yellow’ by William Davidson and Detente by Dawn Taska Steffler. The other nominations are second prize winning stories ‘Butterfly Effect’ by Mairead Robinson and ‘Failure to Thrive’ by Sara Hills.

    For the Pushcart Prize, we can select six stories and are delighted to nominate:
    Second Prize winner ‘Walking to Wollongong‘ by Nikki Crutchley, ‘To All the Copies of Us’ third prize winner by Noemi Sheiring Olah, third prize winner,‘Lakota Widow‘ by Kevin Burns, third prize winner, ‘Murmuration’ third prize winner by Sally Jubb, highly commended ‘Train to the Last Iceberg‘ by Autumn Bettinger and highly commended ‘Diamonds in the Earth’ by James Montgomery.

    They are all wonderful stories and best wishes to everyone going forward!

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    Novella-in-Flash Longlist, 2024

    Congratulations to all the authors who have made our Award long list for the 2024 Award (Final results in January, 2024) and huge thanks to all who entered.

    Author names are yet to be announced, so while it is fine to share that you are on the long list, we do ask that you do not identify yourself with your particular work at this stage.

    Novella-in-Flash 2024 Award Long List
    Title Author
    After the Fireworks tba
    A Man with No Plan tba
    Bachelor Girls and Free Women tba
    Cups of Tea at the End of the World tba
    Ephemera tba
    Everyone’s afraid of something tba
    Foxy and Family tba
    Handoffs tba
    Hereafter tba
    Maybe Tuesday tba
    Marilyn’s Ghost tba
    Nine Inches of Rain tba
    Nose Ornaments tba
    Outside Nazereth tba
    Reverse Echo tba
    Skin tba
    Spin of the Triangle tba
    Spring of Ash and Sunflowers tba
    The Butterfly House tba
    The Gathering tba
    The Graffiti Artist tba
    The Holy Track tba
    the Man with the Glass Blown Head and Brick Wall Face tba
    The Screaming Meemies tba
    The Sinking of Mrs Flanders tba

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    Dawn Tasaka Steffler October 2023 First Prize


    by Dawn Steffler

    Because the internet said, children who lose a parent to suicide are more likely to die from suicide. Because for Tyler’s fourteenth birthday, I took him to Disneyland and thought we were having a good day, until his eyes brimmed with tears while we were in line and he mumbled, “I’m sorry, Mom — I don’t think I want to be here anymore.” And I knew he wasn’t talking about Space Mountain. Because my therapist said, “I know you’re angry. But you need to hold space for Tyler to grieve.” And I remember thinking, does no one give a fuck about me?

    My husband hovers. I hear songs on the radio that croon “I’m sorry”, or I’ll see a heart-shaped cloud, or the Mexican place has a new banner, “Life is hard, tacos help.” I always ignore him. But two hours ago, Tyler barged into my bedroom, he’s receiving an award at tonight’s Senior Ceremony and his dress slacks are too short. I wanted to say, You’re just like your Dad, always leaving stuff to the last minute! But I didn’t. I said, “Would you like to look in your Dad’s closet?” And Tyler examined each hanger, the scrape of wire on wood, the rustle of fabric. He selected a navy suit and a pinstriped shirt still in the dry cleaner’s plastic sleeve. And when he emerged, I felt like I was looking at a ghost, except this ghost’s hair was shaggy and falling into its eyes.

    And now I’m standing at the back of the gym. When Tyler accepts his commemorative plaque, the flyers on the table next to me flutter and ripple. And I whisper, “Fuck off.” I whisper, “Yes, he turned out amazing. No thanks to you.” I whisper, “Well, thank you. That means a lot.”

    About the Author

    Dawn Tasaka Steffler is a fiction writer from Hawaii who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a Smokelong Quarterly Emerging Writer Fellow, StoryStudio Chicago StoryBoard Fellow, and Best of the Net nominee. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Many Nice Donkeys, Milk Candy Review, Flash Frog, Pithead Chapel, Stanchion, Ghost Parachute, and others. She truly does believe tacos make life better. Find her on Instagram, Twitter and Bluesky @DawnSteffler

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    Mairead Robinson October 2023 Second Prize

    Butterfly Effect

    by Mairead Robinson

    That night you flipped out, drunk on vodka you found in your brother’s room as you rummaged for weed, you didn’t know that your best friend, too numb, wouldn’t speak for three days, and as you flipped, alone and raging, you didn’t know your teachers, on hearing the news, would rolodex their heads for anything they might have ever said, and you didn’t know as you emptied the bathroom cabinet for something to be enough, that your neighbour would stare at the fence, recalling a six-year-old on the trampoline, pigtails lifting into twin smiles as you bounced up down, up down, and you didn’t know as you smashed your own face in the mirrored doors, the bath filling dreadfully behind you, that your mother would say you were everything, just everything to her, and as you stepped half-dressed into tepid water, you didn’t know that the boy you slept with after a party, the one who bragged to his friends, would never again hold anyone close, and your mother’s boyfriend, who said you were all grown up, before he slunk from your candy-striped sheets, your pop-star posters, would hold your mother up at the funeral, eyes hard-glazed, like a daughter to me, he’ll say, lies the only truth on his face, and you didn’t know, as you gripped a glass shard without thinking, felt such calm sluicing through, that your brother would find you and be too afraid to know what to do; he’ll turn off the tap, towel-mop the tiles; soft white soaking up pink, and you didn’t know, when you flipped into that grey blur, that you’d be buried in the pale lilac chiffon you wore to your prom, cocooned in a casket painted by your cousin with poppies and vines and big yellow swallowtails fluttering through leaves.

    About the Author

    Mairead Robinson writes and teaches in the South West, UK. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Crow and Cross Keys, The Molotov Cocktail (Flash Monster 2023), Free Flash Fiction, Full House Literary, Voidspace, and in various anthologies too. She is supposed to be working on a novel, but has become hopelessly addicted to Flash Fiction. She tweets @Judasspoon and skeets

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    Sally Jubb October 2023 Third Prize


    by Sally Jubb

    It was the way she gave him chocolate. Fed him, I should say, as if he was still a baby. Not that you’d give a baby chocolate. Then she sort of played with it in front of his face, him with his lips parted, as she waved it about. The way a cat’s head follows left to right, right to left, if you taunt it with a bit of chicken, that’s what she did to him. I watched her in the mirror, as I put on my necklace before leaving the house.

    Later, from the window, I watched them in the garden, deep in lupines. She put a straw between his lips. The liquid was pink, the glass bottle flashing in the sun between her fingers. I imagined her saying the word suck, and remembered a stranger’s fingers dragging my nipple over his face, him rooting blindly as the milk came in spurts, the stab as he latched on, the crying, him sucking on and on, the hopelessness of it.

    She’s carrying him now between the trees, lifting him high in the air, him reaching down with his fingers touching her face. Now she takes his fingers into her mouth and shakes her head about like some daft dog. He’s laughing. I only know her name. I don’t know who she really is. These agencies make stuff up. Joy is very loving and caring. Joy is endlessly patient and loves nothing more than to play.

    They’re holding hands now and pointing at something on the lawn. A blackbird, or maybe a starling. Sturnus vulgaris. Whatever it is she’ll have to go.

    About the Author

    Sally Jubb lives in North Yorkshire. She received the Andrea Badenoch Award (Northern Writers Awards) in 2015. Since then, her work has appeared in various anthologies, including The Bristol Short Story Prize, The London Magazine, Best British Short Stories (Salt). She won the Colm Toibin Short Story Prize in 2017. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College, London. She recently completed a horror novel.

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    Autumn Bettinger October 2023 Highly Commended

    Train to the Last Iceberg

    by Autumn Bettinger

    His tangled blond curls flutter in the breeze kicked up by train wheels. The zoo slides by, passing a giraffe licking metal poles and an elephant staring into the sun. She points towards the polar bear, a great white blotch on a barren scene. She taps her son’s shoulder, calls his name, but he keeps looking at the plants and people that chug by.

    She watches the water fall from the bear’s fur in soft sheets, pattering old plastic jugs that litter the enclosure. Even in a zoo, where great murals depict the ice melting in the arctic, they give Polar Bears trash to play with.

    The train heads towards a tunnel. Kids squeal, a few toddlers burst into tears. They can sense the dark. She watches the back of her son’s neck for goosebumps. At six he’s almost fearless. She imagines the last fight they had, the one where she grabbed him, told him to listen. JUST LISTEN.

    She scared him. She scared herself. She tried to apologize. She took him to the zoo.

    The tunnel pushes in slowly, the light fading in a blast of shrill giggles and gasps. She and her son stay quiet in the black. Nothing but sounds. No polar bears. No slamming doors. No throwing ice cubes against the side of the house to try and break her anger apart.

    The light creeps back in as a familiar pressure nestles into her palm. A small hand buried in the wrinkles and veins that puddle above her knuckles. The train sucks its last cars from the dark as the polar bears fight over an old buoy and the giraffe’s black tongue licks, and licks, and licks. She squeezes his hand and thinks about rising oceans. She squeezes his hand and promises not to melt.

    About the Author

    Autumn Bettinger is a full-time mother of two living in Portland, Oregon. When not folding laundry or slinging snacks, she can be found writing in the wee hours of the morning before her kids wake up. Her work has been audio adapted for The No Sleep Podcast and has won the Silver Scribes Prize. Her stories can be found in The Journal of Compressed Literary Arts, On the Run, Numnum, and others.
    All of Autumn’s published works can be found at

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    Barbara Diggs October 2023 Highly Commended

    The Burial of Mrs. Charles D. Jackson

    by Barbara Diggs

    You sit alone on the sofa in the smart black suit and flared skirt you picked out months ago, when you saw the writing on the wall. Children and grandchildren surge and recede, leaving objects before you like sacred offerings: A sweating glass of iced tea. Crayon drawings of you and Granddaddy Charles. A plate of ham hock-seasoned collard greens, your presumed favorite. You like collards fine, but they were Charles’s favorite, never yours. Still, you’d made them every Sunday with three dashes of habanero sauce and a spoonful of brown sugar, right up until the day he clamped his lips and turned away.

    Black-clad women gather like a plague of grackles near the kitchen doorway. A daughter, a daughter-in-law, two nieces. One glances over her shoulder at you as they whisper. They are waiting for you to fall apart. A biblical show of grief; a little hair-tearing, some breast-beating would befit sixty-one years of marriage. Yesterday, you overheard your son saying he wouldn’t be surprised if you went soon after, and you wondered if there was no end to the world’s expectations of a woman.

    At the graveyard, you’d dabbed your eyes. A commitment fulfilled is as worthy as devotion. But now, you’re thinking of the ripe cantaloupe someone had placed on the kitchen counter. Charles couldn’t bear the smell; you hadn’t bought one in decades. You rise from the sofa with crepitating knees. A storm of concern erupts, but you decline offers of assistance. You prefer the gossamer swing of your skirt, the honeyed scent of melon to usher you forward.

    About the Author

    Barbara Diggs’s flash fiction has been published or is forthcoming in numerous publications including, FlashBack Fiction, (mac)ro(mic),100-Word Story, Ellipsis Zine, Five on Fifth, and multiple anthologies including the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology and The Bridport Prize Anthology, where she received a Highly Commended award. She is Pushcart Prize nominee and Best of the Net finalist. She lives in Paris, France with her husband, sons, and the cutest turtle ever. Twitter @bdiggswrites. Bluesky:

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    25th Award Round Up

    Thank you to everyone who entered our 25th Award. We have been running three-times-a-year flash fiction contests for the past eight years. And there’s one extra one, from the first year we began,in 2015, when we just had the one Award.mOur love for flash fiction remains un-diminished and it is wonderful to receive entries from flash fiction fans from around the world. This time we received 1127 entries from 32 different countries:

    Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

    We also enjoy writers getting excited over receiving ‘The Last Minute Club Badge’, this October’s pictured here. It’s given out to those who enter on the last day. But thank you also to everyone who entered at the beginning, the middle and the final weeks of this round, keeping our readers busy throughout. Read in Full

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