Submit to Flare, the anthology on chronic illness, told in flash narratives

mage by Lucas Silva Pinheiro Santos and depicts a figure reflected in water texturized by rock. The figure is sharply in shadow with an arm raised overhead. There appear a swath of orange and red color over the figure.

image by Lucas Silva Pinheiro Santos

    Ad Hoc Fiction, our short short fiction press is excited to be publishing, in 2023, Flare, a ground-breaking anthology composed of flash narratives about chronic illiness. The anthology was conceived of, and is edited by, writer and editor, April Bradley who tells us more about the project and her ideas about it below. She welcomes submissions up until Novemeber 30th 2022 and the anthology will be published in 2023 and available from Ad Hoc Fiction and from Amazon worldwide. All contributors receive $10, a pdf and can purchase copies of the anthology at a 35% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction. Submissions are free. If you wish to donate, your generosity will benefit the contributors and help with the cost of production. Read in Full
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Last Minute Club! Open Sunday October 9th

Thanks so much flash fiction writers, for your fantastic support for our Bath Flash Fiction Awards. Our readers are very busy reading your entries for the 22nd Award, this time judged by Emily Devane who is also running a editing workshop for our online flash fiction day tomorrow, Saturday 8th October. It’s going to get even busier for our initial readers tomorrow and Sunday.

To remind everyone, The Last Minute Club, for intrepid flash fictioneers is open only on the final day of this Award, Sunday 9th October. Anyone entering on Sunday will receive a (virtual) Last Minute Club badge. Collectible and in a new colour! We’ve a mini competition beginning now over on Twitter where the first person to guess the colour of the new badge will receive a Bath Flash Fiction anthology.You won’t know the colour until first thing on Sunday morning.

And if you enter on Sunday and receive your badge, do share on Twitter. We love that. It makes it such a fun day!

The first badge was introduced in June 2018. And the one you can collect on Sunday will be the fourteenth badge.Here they all are in the gallery”

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Best wishes for all your entries. It’s always wonderful to receive stories from around the world.

Results out on 31st October.

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Read BFFA second prize winners: 2015-2022

We recently published a list of and links to all our first prize winners from our thrice-yearly Awards, categorising them into themes. With one week to go until the deadline of October 9th for our 22nd Award, judged by Emily Devane, I’ve now listed second prize winners from the Awards, 2015-2022. Judges often say it is hard to order the top stories, there is only a hair’s breadth of difference between them. These flashfictions, 300 words or under, are all brilliant. I was struck by how many authors used unusual structures for their stories, which added to their impact, in an unforced way. Again, the same sort of themes as those in the first prize winning stories are present. I have categorised them loosely, as before into Women’s Lives, Relationships, World and Life Issues and Childhood and there could be several cross references. Thanks to all the judges for their great comments. I have linked to those as well as to the stories. Read in Full

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Best of the Net Nominations

Nomination season begins again! We always nominate our prize winning pieces for Awards and with the Best of The Net opportunity we’re eligible to submit two stories
This year we’re delighted to nominate the two first prize winning stories from the 2022 Awards announced so far. ‘A Roadmap of Womanhood by Louise Mangos, selected by judge Karen Jones in our February Award and ‘Sequelae’ by Rachel Blake, selected in June by Tommy Dean. Best wishes for both of them!

And here’s a quote from the submissions page for ‘Best of the Net’, describing the enterprise, which has been offering opportunities to writers and artists since 2006.

The Best of the Net is an awards-based anthology designed to grant a platform to a diverse and growing collection of writers and publishers who are building an online literary landscape that seeks to break free of traditional publishing. This space has been created to bring greater respect to the continually expanding world of exceptional digital publishing.

The Best of the Net Anthology began in 2006, a project created by Sundress Publications (with special thanks to founding editor Erin Elizabeth Smith), to gather communities of online literary magazines, journals, and individuals that do the work of creating our digital literary landscape. We believe this effort is integral in decentering the literary canon as well as promoting and amplifying voices that are imperative to good literature, responsible culture, and the understanding of today’s social climate. We cherish these writers and publishers and hold digital publishing in high regards as a medium that creates access to a greater array of voices than the traditional publishing climate has allowed.

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Q & A with Rachel Blake, 1st prize winner in our June 2022 Award

It’s just over two weeks until our 22nd Award closes on Sunday October 9th. And here’s a Q & A with Rachel Blake our first prize winner, from the 21st Award. Rachel won with her story ‘Sequelae’. She talks about how she wrote this powerfully impactful piece, which was selected by judge, Tommy Dean, and we have reproduced his comments below, just before her answers to the questions. It’s worth a read of both if you want to look over your own pieces again and submit to the next Award which is judged by Emily Devane. There’s lots of interesting things to think about in Tommy’s comments and the interview with Rachel. At the end she’s offered a visual prompt to inspire you to write a story in the time that is left before the deadline. Read in Full

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21 first prize winning stories from BFFA

Our 22nd Award ends on Sunday, 9th October. And at the end of October, we will announce the winners. I thought it would be interesting to gather all the 21 previous winners together to look at themes. The winners were selected each round, from a longlist of 50, by 21 different judges. Although the stories could be categorised in many ways, I have settled on four themes: Grief and loss; Women’s Lives; Issues from Contemporary Life and Historical. Many could cross-reference between these themes. There are links to each story. And you can gain further insights into these brilliant and varied flash fictions by reading the judges’ reports and my interviews with the authors. The stories are (or will be) included in our year-end antholgies available from
In further posts, this week and next, I’ll also be looking at themes from our second and third and commended writers in all 21 of the Awards since 2016. Read in Full

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Ad Hoc Fiction Book News

Our award-winning short short fiction press,Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing eleven more books in 2022. This year, as in 2021, we were able to offer publication to the authors of all the shortlisted novellas-in-flash selected by our judge Michelle Elvy, from the 2022 Bath Novella in Flash Award. Two have already been published, Lessons at the Water’s Edge, the first prize winning NIF by Caroline Greene and All Their Favourite Stories,, the commended NIF by Slawka G Scarso. You can buy both these books directly from Ad Hoc Fiction or in paperback from Amazon.

The other eight novellas by Award runners up, K. S. Dyal from the US and David Swann from the UK; highly commended authors Christopher Drew and Jupiter Jones; commended authors Kristen Loesch from the US and the other shortlisted writers: Finnian Burnett from Canada; Jeanette Lowe from the UK and Sheree Shatsky from the US will be out in the next couple of months. We’re really looking forward to seeing all of them in print. Such wonderful and varied reads. All fabulous

Other books forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction this autumn are three anthologies: the Bath Short Story Anthology, 2022 (from their yearly international Award); the fifth Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, and the seventh Bath Flash Fiction Anthology (containing stories from the three Bath Flash Fiction awards in 2022).

Next year, Ad Hoc Fiction has one or two books awaiting confirmation and several books in the pipeline: four guide/workbooks on writing flashfiction and other short forms and an anthology containing short form pieces about chronic illness. More details on all of these will be available soon. As usual, Ad Hoc Fiction will publish the compeition and festival anthologies and the three winners of the 2023 Novella in flash Award (judged in 2023 by John Brantingham).

NB. Although in previous years, Ad Hoc Fiction has been able to offer publication to the shortlisted novellas-in-flash as well as the top three, as an added bonus to the Award, this year, due to rising costs, Ad Hoc will only be publishing the top three novellas in flash, as advertised.

If you want to enter the 2023 Novella in Flash Award, do read the excellent interview with judge, John Brantingham as well as the marvellous guide book on the form by Michael Loveday. Closing date mid-January, 2023.

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Short stories versus flash fiction – a thread from Electra Rhodes

The other day we spotted an excellent thread on short stories versus flash fiction on Twitter from wonderful writer, writing tutor and amazing all-rounder, Electra Rhodes who is teaching an hour-long workshop on Writing Wild Words, at the first of the new series of online flash fiction festival days on Saturday October 8th, the day before our 22nd Award closes at midnight GMT Sunday October 9th. Electra was going to teach this workshop at our face to face festival in July before she had to cancel due to Covid. So we’re delighted to be able to offer it again, online.

Electra’s thoughts below (thank you very much to her for agreeing to share them here) are a follow up to a recent thread she wrote on her Twitter feed on what to consider when submitting to a prose competition or magazine. That thread was picked up by Writing ie, who have added it to their resources.

Electra noted the Twitter thread on submitting raised some questions on what might be possible differences between a short story & a flash fiction. There’s plenty to unravel and think about in this second thread. And it’s another great resource for writers.

In introducing the new thread, she says: here’s a highly opinionated thread, written hot & posted cool.

Quick caveat – I’m claiming no literary authority/nor stating rules – I’m suggesting these are trends (for good or ill) that vary across the English speaking world! E.G. I *think* more U.K. comps/mags include short short under flash than in the US. Can’t speak to other languages.

1. Word length- for some comps/mags/folk a flash is any story under 1000 words. That ‘general consensus’ seems to have been ‘agreed’ early on. A flash is a short short story. Hard to write a good one. 1000 words (or lower max count). Done deal.

Yes! But! Things have changed (for some people/comps/mags). It seems length is only 1 of the distinguishing aspects. Now, there are 9 other elements that factor – form, plot, the role of the title, compression, language, *feel*, ‘landing’, imagery/metaphor, & experimentation.

2. Form – for some comps/mags/folk an invite to submit flash positively encourages an unusual shape or form – hermit crab, fractured narrative, meander, single sentence, dialogue only, & so on. There is still a narrative or ‘story’, but it doesn’t read like a short short.

3. Plot – something happens, there’s a shift of some kind but it;s not a (Western) arc with a beginning, middle and end, in this context, a flash is still a story, but a short short story isn’t (necessarily, in this context) a flash. Distinguishes a flash from prose poetry too.

4. The role of the title – long story short? It does lots of the heavy lifting for the piece – it’ll be an invitation, or the setting, the stakes, the shotgun that gets fired in the piece, or the crucial character – if your word count is tight the title needs to work real hard.

5. Compression – under 1000 words or 400 or less everything is compressed – the emotion, the tension (& its release), the # of characters, the # of plot ‘events’, the word choice, the use of dialogue esp. to show not tell, coming in late & leaving early. Basically, it’s intense.

6. Language – feels tight, bright & right. Verbs work harder so that adverbs can be cut. Anything not advancing the story/developing character is out. Rhythm, repetition, balance, & musicality at a word/sentence level matter. All the word choices feel purposeful & full of intent.

7. The Feel – it’s the afterimage from a nightdark photograph using just a flashbulb. Or the smell of petrichor after a storm. Or the memory arising from a particular song or taste. It’s distinct, has an instantaneous effect, & we’ll have different words for how it makes us feel.

Quick caveat – lots of flash bears reading multiple times for the full impact. But, I think the workings of a strong piece get you from the go. This isn’t to say short shorts won’t do the same, but they deliberately use different story ‘mechanics’ to score the same goals.

8. The Landing – the piece might not come to an ending, or a resolution, or a happy ever after, but it will ‘land’. The landing might mirror the opener /echo it. It might twist. It might pull one thread so tight the whole piece thrums. The landing feels both unforced and earned.

9.The use of imagery & metaphor – lots of good writing, long and short makes use of both, but both imagery & metaphor work extra hard in flash – to convey layers of meaning, to explore & reveal depth, and to stitch a piece together so that it is more than the sum of its parts.

10. Experimentation – because it’s so short, flash lends itself to experimentation that might be harder to sustain in a longer piece or which perhaps don’t suit a short short story – language, repetition, ‘borrowed’ form, layout, intensity, POV/tense (e.g. 2nd person future) etc.

Electra also asked for additional thouhts from others. Do read her orginal thread on her twitter account to find another thread in response, from Matt Kendrick and here are a couple of interesting extras from writers Fiona McCay and Tommy Dean.

Fiona McCay says: “For me, flash has to make so much use of white space – the wider arc of story that’s off the page, but there, between the lines. It’s something I’m always looking for when reading for a competition (and always trying to get into my own flash).”

Tommy Dean says: “I would also argue that flash demands that the reader make inferences and judgments b/c flash eschews exposition and explanation as much as possible.”

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Early bird discounts end today.

With the intense heat here in the UK and elsewhere, it might be too hot to write or think about writing. But you can still buy discounted entries, save paypal receipts and submit by the deadline of October 9th. One reduced cost entry is £7.50 and two entries are £12.00.

For this, the 22nd round, we are very happy to have award winning writer, teacher and editor, Emily Devane judging our Award. Emily who writes longer short fiction, as well as flash fiction, recently won second prize in the Bath Short Story Award and you will be able to read her story in the 2022 Bath Short Story Anthology, out at the end of the year. Read her interview with us here for writing advice and tips.

And we also very pleased that Emily is offering an hour long workshop on Saturday October 8th, the day before our October deadline and the first of our new trio of online festival days. The Great Festival Flash-Off, Series Two. Bookings open for those days shortly. A chance to get last minute ideas and do final tweaks and polishes to any story you might want to submit. More details will be posted at shortly. You could use any of the photographs here for initial story inspiration too. For example, who is taking the path through the harvested field and why has the hotair balloon landed near the tiny thatched house? Is the ancient oak of any significance to the story?

Results will be announced for the October Award by the end of October. All the fifty longlisted stories are offered publication. And our seventh Bath Flash Fiction Award Anthology, containing stories from all three of the 2022 will be published by the end of the year. There are already some great stories from the first two awards. And after the October announcement it is an exciting time adding the final stories and deciding the title and the cover for the book. We always nominate our prize winners for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes and the title story, Snow Crow, from the 2021 anthology, by Doug Ramspeck was selected for Best Small Fictions 2022 this year.

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