Using Tarot to Inspire Flash: Anna M Wang

    Anna M Wang is a Bristol based author and librarian. Her novella in flash, Prodigal (runner up Bath Flash Fiction Novella in Flash Award 2023), is currently available through Ad Hoc fiction and Amazon. Her writing examines the introspective, the interpersonal, mental health, surrealism and femininity.

    She’s recently begun organising a community project on the subject of Tarot Cards, and is eager to showcase a variety of voices and styles. Read in Full

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Eight BFFA Anthologies Published since 2016!

Two weeks to go until the deadline our 26th Award on Sunday February 4th. (Judge Susmita Bhattacharya) and the first chance to be offered pubication in our 2024, anthology, the ninth one in the series. Fifty longlisted authors are offered publication in each round of the award. Feb, June and October and then the book is compiled.

We’ve published nearly 900 stories since the first volume was published. Cover images and links to picture galleries of all eight anthologies are below with links to pictures of the books when they arrived with the authors, or to book launches and interviews.

Our eighth anthology from the 2023 Awards The Weather Where You Are is still on its way to some people and we’ll post a gallery up soon!

  • Vol One: To Carry Her Home, title story by Christopher Allen
  • Vol Two, The Lobsters Run Free, Title story by Anna Geary Meyer
  • Vol Three: Things Lost and Found by The Side of The Road, title story by Jo Gatford
  • Vol Four With One Eye on the Cows, title story by Annette Edwards-Hill
  • Vol five Restore to Factory Settings, title story by J A Keogh
  • Vol Six, Snow Crow, title story by Doug Ramspeck
  • Vol Seven Dandelion Years, title story by Joanki Ray
  • Vol Eight The Weather Where You Are, title story by William Davidson
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    25 BFFA 1st prize stories 2016-2023

    There’s just under three weeks left before Sunday February 4th, the deadline of our 25th Award judged by UK based writer, Susmita Bhattacharya, and I’m reposting a list I made a couple of years ago of all our first prize wins, linked to judge’s comments and author interviews and put into categories of subject matter and theme. There are four more first prize wins now. One other thing to consider if you read the stories — our Award word limit is 300 words but we welcome very short micros too. This might be of interest to those who recently subbed 100 word pieces for the Welkin prize. One of our first prize winners, Tying the Boats by Amanda 0’Callaghan from 2017 is just 180 words long. Read in Full

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    Novella in Flash 2024 Results

    Huge congratulations to the winners and highly commended writers in our 2024 Novella in Flash Award, selected by John Brantingham. Read their bios below.

    Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing, Hereafter the first prize novella by US based writer, Sarah Freligh and the runner-up novellas, Nose Ornaments by Sudha Balagopal from the US and Marilyn’s Ghost by Jo Withers,from Australia.

    Best wishes to our two highly commended authors, Jupiter Jones and Thomas McColl, and the shortlisted and longlisted writers for future publication of their novellas. And good luck to everyone who entered. It was a privilege to read your work. What a wonderful array of novellas!

    You can read John Brantingham’s comments on the three winners and the two highly commended in his judge’s report and his general comments in his report and also his reading notes from when the short list was announced. We really appreciate his careful work over the past few months.

    First prize winner:
    Hereafter by Sarah Freligh

    Sarah Freligh is the author of six books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis, and A Brief Natural History of Women, published in 2023 by Harbor Editions, and Dear You, Alien Buddha, August 2023. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sun Magazine, the Wigleaf 50, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018), Best Microfiction (2019-22) and Best Small Fiction 2022. Among her awards are poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Saltonstall Foundation.

    Nose Ornaments by Sudha Balagopal

    Sudha Balagopal’s fiction straddles continents and cultures, blending thoughts and ideas from the east and the west. She is honored to have her writing in many fine journals including The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, CRAFT, The Maine Review and Bureau Dispatch. Her highly- commended novella-in-flash, Things I Can’t Tell Amma, was published by Ad Hoc fiction in 2021. She has stories included in Best Small Fictions, 2022 and 2023. When she’s not writing, she teaches yoga. Find her on Twitter @authorsudha or at

    Marilyn’s Ghost by Jo Withers

    Jo Withers spent the first thirty-five years of her life in Northern England before moving to South Australia in 2008 where she now resides with her husband, children and a motley crew of elderly pets.She works in her local kindergarten and finds the children’s quirky comments are a constant source of inspiration for her ‘world off-kilter’ brand of fiction.Jo has previously won prizes at The Caterpillar, Reflex Press, FlashBack Fiction, Furious Fiction, Retreat West, Molotov Cocktail and SmokeLong. Her work has featured in Best Microfictions 2020 and Wigleaf Top 50 2021. She has also been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize.

    Highly Commended
    Nine Inches of Rain by Jupiter Jones

    Jupiter Jones lives in Wales and writes short and flash fictions. She is the author of three novellas-in-flash, The Death and Life of Mrs Parker, Lovelace Flats, and Gull Shit Alley and Other Roads to Hell. Being a proper nerd with very little social life, she is currently working on a PhD on the role of (dis)connectivity in the novella-in-flash.

    Highly Commended
    The Man With the Glass Blown Head and Brick Wall Face by Thomas McColl
    Thomas McColl lives in London and works as a Procedural Publisher at the House of Commons. He’s had two collections of poetry published – Being With Me Will Help You Learn (Listen Softly London Press, 2016) and Grenade Genie (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020) – and his short stories and poems have been published in magazines such as Fictive Dream, Bare Fiction, Here Comes Everyone and Smoke: A London Peculiar, and featured on BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio WM and TV’s London Live.

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    John Brantingham’s report on Novella in Flash 2024

    Thanks very much to John Brantingham for judging our 2024 Award, and for his encouraging general comments as well as the specific remarks about the winners listed below. John is a big fan of the novella in flash, having also written several himself and we absolutely agree that all these novellas should be out in the world.

    You can also read John’s previous comments on the longlist and short list and read more about the winners and commended below. As stated in our Award details, Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing the top three this year Hereafter,the first prize winner and the runners up, Nose Ornaments and Marilyn’s Ghost.

    John writes:

    I am thrilled with all of the novellas-in-flash in this year’s contest. Each of these had diverse subject matter, styles, and approaches to fiction writing, but I loved that each of them used the novella-in-flash form to help distill what they were saying about the world. In addition to this one unifying element, they also all dealt with those most powerful moments of the human experience. They dealt with issues like breaking with the past as one moves on into the future, how to negotiate life in a small town, grief and loss, thoughts of suicide, and the way society constructs and deconstructs fame.
    As with last year, I would encourage any of the writers whose work I read to find a publisher for their work. These were all interesting and innovative, and the decision for the final choice is to some degree subjective. I can say that I loved reading all of them. I would have bought them had they been on a shelf in a bookstore.

    Highly Commended
    The Man with the Glass Blown Head and Brick Wall Face
    The Man with the Glass Blown Head and Brick Wall Face is a fascinating novella about a man who discusses the endless abuse and self-harm of toxic masculinity and staying closeted that leads to self-harm. This work contains an interesting intrusive narrator who not only presents the story but also provides commentary on what was happening and the greater meaning of it all in terms of how the main character views the world and is handled by the world. He still keeps us at a bit of a psychic distance, which is the perfect place to keep up because otherwise it would turn pedantic. It is not just a strong novella-in-flash, but the stand-alone stories have self-contained emotional catharses that are moving in their own right.

    Highly Commended
    Nine Inches of Rain
    Nine Inches of Rain is a historical novella-in-flash set in August of 1952 when a storm ravages a small town. Aside from any other considerations, the story of how a group of people deal with and live through natural chaos is compelling. The characters and their reactions are human and telling. However, Nine Inches of Rain uses the novella-in-flash form to explore what life in 1952 in the United Kingdom outside of London was like. It looks at the values and interpersonal relationships of the people in this world.

    Runner Up
    Nose Ornaments
    Nose Ornaments follows the lives of three generations of Indian women as they migrate from India to Arizona. It looks at the Indian diaspora during a time of quickly shifting norms for women, and each generation finds that it needs to break free from the traditions of the previous generation. By using multiple generations, the author is able to bring humanity not only to the women as they free themselves from social norms, but also to show how disconcerting it is for a person of the previous generation to watch as her daughter acts in a way that doesn’t make sense to the mother.

    Runner Up
    Marilyn’s Ghost
    Marilyn’s Ghost is a fictionalized account of the death and days following Marilyn Monroe’s death. It is a discussion not only of the characters in the story but also the social mores that surrounded the icon and our understanding of her. The shifting point-of-view helps us to understand who she was and how people projected their fantasies upon her. Just as important is a shifting style and approach to narrative. The author uses as many different ways of storytelling as possible in this short novella-in-flash. Each of them helps us to understand a different aspect of what the writer is suggesting about Monroe and our understanding of her.

    Hereafter is a powerful novella-in-flash about the nature of grief. A woman loses her child when he’s young. There is no one there for her and those people who should be part of her support system, mother and partner and others, are either missing from her life or so critical of it and her that she might as well be alone. So she has to find a way to live and survive without the help of others. Hereafter is also a discussion of what it is for a woman to grow and feel invisible in a culture obsessed with sexualizing youth. What stands out as one of its achievements of Hereafter is the way that the main character doesn’t experience grief in a linear fashion or predictably. Years later, she’ll be reminded of what she lost and will be drawn into the pain in unexpected ways depicting the way that grief functions in a realistic way.

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    BFFA Anthology, Volume 8 -The Weather Where You Are

    We’re very excited that the eighth BFFA anthology of stories by winners, shortlisted and longlisted writers from the three 2023 Awards is back from the printers. The title, ‘The Weather Where You Are’ is the title of a story by William Davidson, a piece shortlisted in the February 2023 Award and it is the final story in the anthology. Big thanks to William for letting us use it. William also won first prize in the June Award for ‘Remembered Yellow’, the second story in the book. We love this title for its many resonances. The cover, which we also love, is designed by John at Ad Hoc Fiction and uses an image from an 1870s weather map showing a storm. Very fitting currently, when storms have been sweeping across many countries in recent weeks. We hope the authors will share pictures of the weather where they are, on social media, when they receive their books. It will be so interesting to see what is happening around the world.

    Contributor copies have been posted to most authors and should be arriving soon in the UK. We hope they won’t take long to reach authors in other countries, which include USA, Ireland, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Taiwan, Spain, India, Italy.

    There are 134 stories of 300 words or less in the book. It will be published on our bookshop at Ad Hoc Fiction shortly and on Amazon in paperback soon afterwards. Time to buy and read and get inspiration for our first Award of 2024, judged by Susmita Bhattacharya which closes in just over one month (February 4th). All 50 longlisted authors from this Award and the two others in 2024 will be offered publication in our ninth volume of stories, out at the end of the year or early 2025.

    Thank you to everyone who entered in 2023 and supprted our ventures We received 3345 entries from 45 different countries. Looking forward to many more wonderful stories this year.

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    Ad Hoc Fiction 2023 Book News

    Lots of great news for our short-short fiction press, Ad Hoc Fiction in 2023. Thanks to everyone worldwide who has bought any of our books. We love championing the short short form! First, for the third year running, Ad Hoc Fiction was a regional finalist (South West) in the small publisher category of the British Book Awards.

    This news in February, was followed in the summer with the news that both David Swann and Tim Craig were shortlisted in The Rubery Award, Dave for Season of Bright Sorrow his 2021 Novella in Flash (which was the first prize winner in our Novella in Flash Award of that year and Tim for his 2022 collection, Now You See Him. In July we heard the wonderful news that Season of Bright Sorrow won the short story category and then the overall Rubery Book of the Year, for which Dave won £2000 (shared with the fantastic illustrator Sam Hubbard and a plaque)

    Also, in the summer we learned that Now You See Him was longlisted (one of only ten short story collections) for the prestigious Edge Hill Prize for short fiction. Many congratulations to both David and Tim.
    Now You See Him was also shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards along with several other of our Ad Hoc Fictio pubocations. We’ve listed them all in a post and thank you to everyone who nominated our books and activities and voted for them We’ve FIVE categories short-listed in Saboteur Awards, 2023!

    Our other Award winning author this year is Michael Loveday. His guidebook Unlocking the Novella in Flash, published in 2022, has won mutiple awards this year.We are so pleased this excellent guidebook has received so many accolades! Many congratulations to Michael. So well deserved! Read all about his different writing services here.

    Ad Hoc Fiction has published two other brilliant guide books this year. Haibun: A Writer’s Guide edited by Roberta Beary, Lew Watts and Rich Youmanns, which has already been hailed as the definitive guide on the subject and 51 and a half Games and Prompts for Writers by Vanessa Gebbie, which is now included in Chester University library as a reource for writers and has been recommended in the U3A national newsletter in the UK as a resource for writers. Rather late, but worth waiting for, we published three novellas in flash from the 2022 Novella in Flash Awards. In June, The Twisted Wheel, a runner up in the awards by David Swann, a highly commended novella, Essence by Christopher M Drew and Summer 1969, a shortlisted novella, by Sheree Shatsky. We’ve also published three more exciting novellas in flash The Learning Curve by Jan Kaneen, winner of the 2023 NIF Award, Prodigal by award runnner up Anna M Wang and The Top Road, award runner up by Fiona McKay which were the winners of the 2023 NIF competition. All these books were launched at the 2023 Flash fiction Festival in July.

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    The Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology for 2022 Dandelion Years was published right at the beginning of thre year together with Flash fiction Festival Volume 5 (pictured in our gallery here). They were launched in Bath in March with cake and wine.
    Our 2023 BFFA anthology will be back from the printers next week (cover reveal then) together with the next Flash Fiction Festival Anthology in the rainbow series (indigo this time). They will be posted to all contributors immediately and there’s a launch date in Bath (17th February) and a launch online to be confirmed soon.

    Buy all these books from and from Amazon in paperback

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    Novella-in-Flash Award: reading notes by judge, John Brantingham

    We’re very pleased to be able to announce, before the end of 2023, the short list of ten novellas in flash, selected by our judge, John Brantingham for our 2024 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award. It’s the eighth yearly Award we have run and during that time our small press publisher Ad Hoc Fiction have published over 40 novellas-in-flash. Thanks very much to John for his close reading of this year’s longlisted novellas in flash and for his brief essay below about his experience. We agree that all twenty five were excellent examples of the form and we hope that they will all find good homes in the expanding market for this form of writing. John will be choosing a winner and two runners up by early January 2024 and those three will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in the New Year.

    John writes: “It has been a pleasure to read the novellas-in-flash in the long list. I love the form. It can be powerful and heartbreaking, and all of these writers are using it to its full effect. Last year, when I judged the contest, I found that most of the work on the long list was deserving of publication. I had the same reaction this year.

    What I find so inspiring about this work is the sincerity of it. These writers are writing with emotional complexity and compassion. Their work is often heartbreaking, often funny, and always human. It is the kind of work that ennobles the reader. For me, this is the greatest thing that fiction can do, and the novella-in-flash does so by stripping away the excess and artifice that be found in other long forms. These writers have gotten to the essence of their stories and characters, and I found myself lingering and rereading more than I should have. 

    The novellas-in-flash on the short list have stayed with me. I work about an hour away from where I live. I would read these books before I left home, and all ten of these works stayed with me as I drove through the rolling hills of Upstate New York. I found myself remembering the characters and feeling for them when they were hurting, laughing about their absurdities, or daydreaming about their settings in parts of the world I have never seen, but they described so clearly that I knew them.

    There is a need for more publishers of novellas-in-flash. Of course, not all ten of these collections will be published as a result of this contest. That’s the nature of contests. I do wish, however, that other people like me who love the form could have the chance to read them. They are rich and beautiful. They all have the potential to change the way we understand the world we live in.”

    We look forward to hearing about the first prize and two runners up in early January. Best wishes to all writers.

    December 19th 2023.

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    Short list Novella-in- Flash Award, 2024

    Congratulations to the ten authors who have made the short list for the 2024 Novella-in-Flash Award selected by our judge, John Brantingham. (Final results in early January, 2024).

    Winners are yet to be announced, so while it is fine to share that you are on the short list, please do not identify yourself with your particular work until results are out. Thanks.

    Novella-in-Flash 2024 Award Short List
    Title Author
    Cups of Tea at the End of the World tba
    Hereafter tba
    Marilyn’s Ghost tba
    Nine Inches of Rain tba
    Nose Ornaments tba
    Outside Nazareth tba
    Reverse Echo tba
    Skin tba
    The Man with the Glass Blown Head and Brick Wall Face tba
    The Screaming Meemies tba

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    Susmita Bhattacharya, judge for 26th Award, Feb 2024

    Susmita Bhattacharya is an Indian-born British writer. Her novel, The Normal State of Mind, was published in 2015 by Parthian (UK) and Bee Books (India) in 2016 and was long listed for the Words to Screen Prize, Mumbai Association of Moving Images (MAMI) Film Festival in 2018. Her collection of short stories, Table Manners, was published by Dahlia Publishing in 2018 and won The Saboteur Prize for the Best Short Story Collection in 2019. She teaches contemporary fiction at Winchester University. She was Writer-in-Residence at Word Factory in 2021. She is a regular workshop presenter at the Flash Fiction Festivals UK. She lives in Winchester.

    • Thank you for agreeing to judge our 26th award that closes in February 2024.
      You write novels, short stories, poetry and flash fiction. Do you find in your writing that you switch easily from one form of writing to another?
      I’m so excited to be the judge for the Bath Flash Fiction competition. I enjoy writing across forms and I love working in a new medium as I always love a challenge. I don’t necessarily write everything all at once, but I may have a phase of writing lots of poetry. Or a phase of writing flash fiction. Attending festivals, writing group events, workshops is helpful as a lot of work or ideas of new work get produced there. The novel is ever present in the background, and I dedicate chunks of time to focus on that when I can (which is why that is the slowest) and with short stories, I work on one idea at a time until I feel I have perfected it. Getting commissions is great, because then I have a deadline, something to work towards and most of my nonfiction writing is done through commissions. So is writing for radio. My flash fiction writing spree is particularly active closer to National Flash Fiction Day and before and after the Flash Fiction Festival! I don’t juggle all the balls at the same time, but I try and focus on one form for a while, or for a project or competition and then move on to the next. Poetry, I think, is a constant. I don’t share it as much, but I definitely write a lot more poetry than anything else.
    • What do you like about writing flash?
      I love flash for the immediacy, the sense of urgency in a story. It’s punchy and experimental, and although it could be even 100 words long, it’s no easy feat to create a narrative in those many words which has a plot, character development, emotions, conflict and a punchy that often leaves the reader breathless. It’s a great challenge and to achieve a successful flash fiction requires great skill. I love the flash community as well. Most flash fiction writers are very supportive and enjoy being part of the community without being to competitive. There’s a lot of encouragement to keep writing flash, and lots of events that help this community to grow.
    • Recently, some of your short stories were broad cast on BBC radio. Was that under a special theme and is there still a link to listen to them?
      I’ve had a few stories on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra.Table Manners was serialized for Radio 4 Extra and I was commissioned to write 2 short stories and a non-fiction piece for Radio 4. The latest is on the theme of Golden Eggs, where five British Asian writers take folktales or traditional stories and rework them in contemporary settings. My story is called ‘The Gift’, and you can listen to it here.

    • You are an associate lecturer in Creative Writing in Winchester and have taught workshops and courses in numerous places, both for adults and young people. What upcoming events are you involved in?
      I teach on the BA and MA programmes at Winchester University and I really enjoy it. I worked with ArtfulScribe’s Mayflower Young Writers for several years, and found that the young writers find the flash form really exciting as well. At the moment, I run the ArtfulScribe SO:Write Women’s Writing group, which is online on the 1st Thursday of the month and in person in Southampton on the 3rd Saturday of the month. It’s a fantastic way to meet women writers, talk about writing, write together and share work. We’re loving writing flash fiction at the moment!
      I also developed and run a short story course for Professional Writing Academy.
      What I’m currently excited about are the projects I’ve co-founded with Aiysha Jahan, Bridges not Borders and Write Beyond Borders, which are a combination of mentoring writers from South Asia and UK, doing folkart in schools around the Solent region, producing an anthology of short stories and having an exhibition in Portsmouth Guildhall in July next year.
    • You have been a professional writer since 2005. Can you tell us some of the highlights of your career so far?
      I think it depends on what one might call ‘a highlight’. Of course, having a book published is always a highlight. So having my debut novel, A Normal State of Mind, published by Parthian was definitely a highlight. Publishing by short story collection, Table Manners, with Dahlia Books was a highlight, and then winning the Saboteur Prize for Best Short Story collection was a highlight. Being a regular BBC Radio 4 listener and then having my stories aired on Radio 4 is a highlight.

      But the true highlights that I will hold dear to me are the little things: readers appreciating my work, readers reaching out to me to let me know my words have moved them. For example, finding someone reading my novel in a hospital waiting room was a highlight! A terminally ill friend of my husband’s parking his car to ring him, to let him know he’d just listened to my radio essay about cancer and how much that had resonated with him that meant so much to me. A Year 2 child in my children’s school where I used to work as a dinner lady would stop me on the way to lunch hall to give me ideas for my next book. (They’d been shocked when I had visited their class to talk about writing and shown them my book! They had said, you’re our Dinner Lady. And I had said, Dinner Ladies can do loads of other things outside of the lunch hour!) My daughter forgetting her reading book in secondary school, and her teacher fishing out a book from her bag to give her to read. ‘It’s your mother’s book,’ the teacher said. ‘Have you read it?’ ‘No,’ said my daughter, probably embarrassed at all the attention she would now get. Then all her classmates googled me, and she came home, saying, ‘mum, you’re a celebrity! Google recognizes you as a writer!’ That made me chuckle! Being invited to Cardiff University to talk to MA students about my writing journey has always been special. It’s always a ‘this is where it started, this is how it’s going’ experience! These are some highlights I will remember fondly and forever!

    • Finally, as our judge, can you say what sort of story would stand out as a winner for you?
      For me, a flash fiction should immerse me in the story. It should feel immediate and also layered with meaning. It should leave something for the reader to work out, or have a moment of epiphany at the end. It could be a story about a theme without mentioning the theme. Think about Hermit Crab style or other ways of approaching a story. The story should make me wake up in the middle of night, still worrying about the characters, or trying to work out how they could work out the stuff they’ve been put through. A standout story would involve me as a reader, and make me care intensely for the character/s. In cricketing lingo, a story should not target the reader head on, give me a good googly ball – a sudden spin that will get you if, as a reader, you’re not ready for it!
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