We’ve been having a rest since the flash fiction festival Bath Flash Fiction sponsors, in Bristol in July , and thanks again to all who came. it was so wonderful to meet people face to face after a three year break. And there were so many inspirational flash fiction workshops and readings. You can see photographs gathered from Twitter and elsewhere here on the festival blog
Despite a lull in activities Jude’s been organising a trio of online flash fiction festival days to carry on festive fun in the autumn and the winter.
Dates: Saturday October 8th, Saturday November 19th and Saturday January 7th from 11.00 to 6.30 pm each day. . The usual mixture of workshops/talks/book launches/readings/ mini contests. The first day on October 8th features a 90 min workshop with Kathy Fish on writing ghost stories, a 60 min workshop with Electra Rhodes on Writing Words of Wild Wonder and a 60 min workshop with our 22nd Award Judge, Emily Devane (subject announced soon) £30 for everything. This online day comes the day before our deadline for the £1460 prize fund Bath Flash Fiction October Award. So it’s your chance to get last minute ideas. More details and booking for all three days open soon.
We also have a date for the next face to face Flash Fiction Festival. 14th-16th July, 2023 again in Trinity College, Bristol. Bath Flash Fiction and Ad Hoc Fiction are happy to sponsor this again! Hope you can come.
And to remind you the Earlybird discounts for the October Award end this Sunday, 14th August. Buy one entry for £7.50 or two for £12.00. Save your paypal receipts if you haven’t got a story ready yet and send by October 9th. Results out at the end of October. And our year-end anthology containing winning, shortlisted and longlisted stories from all three of the 2022 Awards will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in late November/December.
In other news, you can look forward to a whole bunch of sparkling new novellas in flash from the 2022 Novella in Flash Award to be published by our small press Ad Hoc Fiction. The winner, Lessons At The Water’s Edge, (recently chosen as one of six indybooks of the month selected by Martin Chilton for the Independent Newspaper!) by Caroline Green was launched at the Festival as was one of the commended novellas, All Their Favourite Stories‘ by Slawka G Scarso. Both marvellous reads. And both available worldwide in paperback from Amazon and directly from Ad Hoc Fiction.
Our 2023 NIF award is open now too, and do read the really interesting interview with our 2023 judge John Brantingham which will also inspire you to write something along with the new guide on the subject, Unlocking the Novella in Flash by Michael Loveday.
More updates soon!
Thanks to everyone from around the world who entered our 21st Award. We received 1081 entries from 34 countries listed below.
Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.
As usual, the last few weeks and the last weekend in particular saw a great flood of submissions. And we appreciate everyone who entered at any time during the contest and the final day writers who received a (virtual) Last Minute Club badge (this time in pink and silver pastel party colours). we hold a guess-the-colour-of-the-badge contest on Twitter the day before the badge is revealed. One person guessed the right shade of pink, and the other, chose a silvery grey. So they both received a book anthology prize.
There were very many excellent stories of 300 words or less among the submissions and it’s always hard to find the fifty stories for the final longlist. Thanks to the reading team for their work on making these choices. We like to include a mix of different styles and subject matters and if there are a lot on the same sorts of themes, it is even harder to choose. Everyone who reached the longlist has been offered publication in our seventh anthology which will be published at the end of this year after the October Award is completed. Many writers from this round have already said yes to publication and again it will be a fantastic read. Snow Crow, our 6th anthology, was shortlisted in the 2022 Saboteur Awards Best Anthology category and we thank everyone from the flash fiction community and elsewhere who voted for it.
Our big thanks to Tommy Dean, writer, editor and teacher from the US for selecting the short list and winners for the 21st Award in our very fast turnaround time.
We mentioned different styles and themes above, and it is so interesting that Tommy commented on the different ways the winners had approached their stories. Do read his report about what he loved about the winning stories here.
This time, four different countries were represented among the winners. Many congratulations to all authors. Their stories are linked to their names here. The first prize winner Rachel Blake from the US wrote ‘Sequelae’, second prize winner Madeline Bryne from Australia wrote ‘Between’, third prize winner Abigail Williams from the UK wrote ‘Don’t mistake me for your crabapple’, Sudha Balagopal from the US wrote ‘On our daughter’s wedding day’ and Olwen Wilson from Canada wrote ‘The Shape of the Situation in Apartment 23C on a Sunday in September.‘
Our next award opens on July 1st and is judged by Emily Devane from the UK who, among other awards, won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in February, 2017..Our interview with her will be on the website tomorrow. The 22nd Award closes on Sunday 9th October. We’re looking forward to reading more wonderful stories. We love flash fiction!
A big thank you to US based writer, editor and teacher, Tommy Dean for being our 21st Award judge and for selecting a wonderful short list and winners from our fifty fantastic longlisted stories for the June Award, 2022. Read all his interesting comments below and read the winning stories by clicking the titles.
I was thrilled to be chosen by Jude Higgins to judge this round of the micro contest. What I love about micro fiction is that there’s no set way to write such short stories! There are a million ways to open a story and gain a reader’s attention, and the writers on the longlist provided excellent examples of how stories can start and how they can grip a reader through conflict, through character, through precise and beautiful language. The writers here trusted me as a reader leaving much of the story out, compressing the details into specific gems, and asking me to trust them as they took me into worlds that were familiar, unknown, and at their best a bit of both!
Micro fiction is a livewire act of balancing so many craft elements all with the design of telling a great story, of allowing the reader to invade the stage of the story and put themselves deeply into the narrative at hand. These writer’s compressed until the brevity sparkled with gritty realism, with fantastic fantasy, and showed me the joys and horrors of being human.
Specific, concrete and surprising details dominated these stories, and helped me inhabit the “hot spots” of their character’s lives. So many unforgettable stories that I have no doubt will find great homes in literary magazines big and small. Every story touched me in a way. Stories have always been a balm, an escape, but also a way of reckoning with the world around me, and I thank these writers for bringing their souls to the page, for filling it with truth and beauty, and sorrow, and humor, for giving me a chance to enter their worlds, to live so many lives, to commune with their wit and perspective.
No matter where you finished in this round, please be proud of the work that you’ve accomplished that your stories matter, that it’s only a matter of time before they find readers hungry for your words, your moments of distilled truth and beauty
I’m a sucker for a long winding sentence that does its best to cram in as much pertinent information as possible. I love how the first sentence winds around like the neighbors’ cars taking them to work. I love a story that has such a fierce desire, the truth of waiting for others to leave, to have this private moment. I love that we as the reader are privy to this private moment, one that resonates in its pain, its search for relief. I love how we are on this search for the best place to exert our emotion alongside the character, how specific the details are here, how specific the places of retreat are, how they help me see the character’s desperation, to feel it, to won it. How really screaming isn’t enough, how art isn’t helpful, how frustration is somehow sentient, an antagonist. A masterful portrayal of unmet desire.
I love a story that feels somehow commonplace, but because of its character takes us to a new place of understanding, of truth, of beauty in our human desire to be more than we are. I connected with this idea that we leave something of ourselves behind, that our jobs take something from us, that we don’t always know we’re losing something. How Juliet is more than this job, but she can’t quite see that, feel that, that she often disappears, but this story creates this delicious tension of the opposite of that, this story makes her live on the page! I love the fantastic details here, how the writer is so confident in their use of minimalism, how they refrain of telling us how to feel, how that image of Juliet at the end is murky with sadness, but for us, she has become visible!
Don’t mistake me for your crabapple
I love a writer who takes the risk of using the 2nd person point of view. It can be so intimate, like a cover of a great song that makes you pay closer attention to the lyrics. Another story that made me trust the writer from opening sentence. Another story that made me sit up a little straighter, to pay a bit more attention. And who wouldn’t with these great details and images, the way the narrator demands my attention. And that masterful use of dialogue! Just a few sentences but they create unique and specific characters who are talking past each other, occupying the same space, but not quite on the same page! A glimpse of a specific and unique relationship, one that I wish I could know more about! And that ending image!
On Our Daughter’s Wedding Day
I love a story that starts i the negative, that tells us something they didn’t do or in this case didn’t miss. The negative creates a ghost of two stories that creates so much tension just by using this device! The character is in conflict, but they’re not quite acting, and yet I’m pulled in! On the other side of the negative is the things the character did do or in this case did miss, and that shift from the negative does so much work to reveal this character in a specific and unique way! This is at the heart of any great story! There’s something quite lovely about a character choosing to do something they don’t want to do!
The Shape of the Situation in Apartment 23C on a Sunday in September
Oh, the specificity and intrigue of this long title! I love a story that uses the title to ground me in the setting before I read the first word of the story. There’s so much tension in moving from the title to the opening sentence! Titles like this jumpstart a story, and intrigue a reader, and this story had a high bar to cross to live up to this title, and it did it in spades! I loved the sense of play, the creation of this allegory, how it takes something commonplace, and twists it enough to delight and intrigue the reader! It’s fun, sure, but it also hits hard with resonance!
Caroline Greene won our 2022 Novella-in-Flash Award in April this year with her wonderful Novella in Flash, Lessons at the Water’s Edge and the novella is now available on preorder from Ad Hoc Fiction at a 25% discount until publication on July 1st. We’re delighted Caroline’s novella will be launched at the Flash Fiction Festival 8th-10th July. The 2023 Novella-in-Flash Award will be open soon and Caroline has some great advice here for writing one. Scroll down the post of our judge Michelle Elvy’s report to find her interesting comments on this novella. It is a marvellous, absorbing read with many layers and we thoroughly recommend it. You can also hear Caroline talking about it next week on a panel about novellas-in-flash for National Flash Fiction Day New Zealand, 19th June.
Q & A with Caroline Greene
- Can you give us a brief synopsis of Lessons At the Water’s Edge?
It’s the story of a young woman leaving difficulties at home and going to live in a different country. But it’s also the story of the family she goes to live with, and the changes she brings, from their point of view. There are new discoveries about identity, but there are also love stories that intertwine – the love for a place, for family, and an unrequited love too. And it’s about how language connects and moulds us, with ‘language lessons’ that thread through the whole.
- What inspired you to write it?
This has been a very long time in gestation! Many, many years ago I wrote a short story called ‘The Father’, about a dedicated single father, bringing up two girls. It was inspired by a story by Natalia Ginzburg called ‘The Mother’, about an erratic single mother bringing up two boys. But I never really did anything with it. Then, a few years ago, when I discovered flash fiction, I wrote a couple of scenes based on my experience of living in Italy. I had an idea of combining elements of the short story with the flashes, but was very dithery and unconfident about it. Then when lockdown began and I started to get messages from Italian friends I just thought, now is the time to celebrate the experiences I had there and the people I met.
- In her comments Michelle Elvy points out how the novella, which is set in a watery city (unnamed) flows like water and, she remarks that ‘the story lines glide, skim, sometimes sink below the surface and then emerge again.’ Were you aware of the elemental component of your writing, when you were structuring it?
I love that Michelle picked this out. In a way it was the most subconscious outcome. On a conscious level, I tried to weave the three strands together in a loose way to convey how the various experiences and the different points of view informed each other. But the water imagery was doing this too.
What is the most challenging aspect about writing a novella in flash, in your experience?
I would definitely avoid trying to think of the thing as a ‘whole’ from the start. That’s too daunting. Although I had a story, I only had a rough idea of how it would be put together, so I just wrote scenes in a random order and gradually a patchwork pattern emerged. The beauty of writing a novella in flash is that you can construct scenes individually and follow thoughts where they want to go, without trying to follow any strict linear structure or plot line. But it’s sometimes hard to be ruthless when you have a suspicion that a certain flash doesn’t work within the whole and so it needs to go.
- What did you most enjoy about the process?
Once I’d thought that I could create a novella out of the early pieces I had, I absolutely loved the impetus it gave me for writing more. I loved living with the characters and I had fun with the language lessons. While life was strange, difficult and uncertain during lockdown, I also had this other world of the novella going on inside my head.
- Have you any other flash fiction projects on the go?
Once I’d submitted the novella, I felt as though I’d never write anything ever again! But gradually ideas have crept back and I trust myself more now to follow them through.
- Top tip for someone thinking of writing one?
Trust the process. Follow inklings and instincts. Eventually, it feels as though the separate flashes almost tell you where they are all going, and how they fit together.
Our 21st £1460 prize fund Award closes this Sunday, 5th June, midnight GMT. And whether you are polishing an entry for the competition, about to write one last minute, or thinking about other submission opportunities, here are some excellent tips on writing micros from our judge Tommy Dean. Read our Judge’s Q and A with him here.
Tommy gave us permission to publish the thread he wrote on Twitter today, which has a focus on 100 word stories. But the advice is equally important for anyone writing longer flashes. To remind you, you have 300 words maximum for our Award.
We’re thrilled our small press, Ad Hoc Fiction, is publishing a guide book next year (2023) by Tommy on writing 100 word stories. So he will be adding examples and exercises to the sort of advice he has listed below. And if you want to read Tommy’s own brilliant work, his latest flash fiction collection, Hollows, is out with Alternating Current Press and also available on Amazon Read in Full
Huge congratulations to Sara Hills, whose brilliant flash fiction collection, The Evolution of Birds won the Best Short Story Collection category in the 2022 Saboteur Awards. The Award ceremony took place on Saturday 14th May in the rotunda of Birmingham city library and Sara was actually there to collect her sparkling trophy, along with her family, including her daughter,Kaleia Hills, who created the amazing cover artwork for the book and took the striking picture of a bird flying over the library which, Sara said, seemed like a good omen!
It is such a well-deserved win and The Evolution of Birds demonstrates all that is best about flash fiction. We interviewed Sara about the collection just before it was published in July, 2021. Here she talks about the themes in the collection and her journey into flash fiction. You can buy the Evolution of Birds from Ad Hoc Fiction or in paperback from Amazon worldwide. And if you are coming to the Flash Fiction Festival Weekend 8th-10th July, in Bristol, Sara is going to be there and can sign a copy for you!
Thank you so much to everyone who voted in the Saboteur Awards, 2022 for The Evolution of Birds our short-short press Ad HocFiction and all the books published by them. Snow Crow, our sixth anthology from the Bath Flash Awards, the novellas in flash Kipris by Michelle Christophorou and Hairy on the Inside by Tracy Fells all reached the short list. A wonderful boost to everyone concerned! We appreciate all of you flash fiction enthusiasts who helped this to happen.
Michael Loveday judged our Bath Novella in Flash Award in 2019 and 2020 and has run many courses on writing in this form, and given feedback to and mentored those writing novellas in flash. We were delighted when he agreed to write a guide book on the subject. He’s been working on it for around two years, some of the time with the support of an Arts Council Grant, and it’s published next week, Tuesday May 17th, with our small press Ad Hoc Fiction and available then in paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop as well as in paperback on Amazon, worldwide. Like the well-known writers and writing teachers who have given Advance Praise within the book, we believe it will become a classic in this genre. You can preorder Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash at a 25% discount until Monday May 16th. from Adhocfiction.com. Last week we published an extract on this site, to whet your appetite. Here Michael describes how writers might use Unlocking the Novella in Flash and more about his work as a mentor. Michael is also teaching two workshops on the novella-in-flash at the Flash Fiction Festival weekend, 8th -10th July in Bristol, U.K. and signed copies will be available to buy there. Read in Full