Tag Archives: Ad Hoc Fiction

Tips from Tommy Dean on writing micros

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

share by email

Saboteur Awards Win! Congratulations to Sara Hills

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.

share by email

All About Unlocking a Novella-in-Flash, the new craft guide book by Michael Loveday

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

share by email

Extract from Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash, by Michael Loveday

Michael Loveday’s new guidebook, Unlocking the Novella in Flash – from blank page to finished manuscript is published on May 17th by Ad Hoc Fiction, the third in their guide book series. It is currently available (until publication day) with a 25% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction. The guide book is packed with examples on many different approaches to writing a novella in flash and plenty of exercises to get you started and keep you going. The Bath Novella in Flash Award will open again soon, and close in mid January next year. And if you’re considering writing a novella-in-flash for the Award or elsewhere, if you have one on the go, or are in the middle of one that’s proving problematic, we really recommend you buy this guide book. This really useful extract from the book, about common problems, will whet your appetite. Read in Full

share by email

Q & A with Louise Mangos, first prize winner, Feb Award. 2022

In this interview, first prize winning writer, Louise Mangos from our twentieth Award, judged by Karen Jones, tells us how her winning piece came into being. We learn more about how she began writing flash, there’s a link to one of her first prize wins (illustrated by her) from the weekly 150 word story contest run by Ad HocFiction. Before the contest had to stop in 2019 when Ad HocFiction began publishing books in a big way, Louise won it six or seven times. She also tells us about her crime/suspense novels and other projects on the go. Her latest suspense novel,, The Beaten Track is launched in London in a couple of weeks (hope Londoners can get there!) We’ve also wonderful pictures of the Swiss Alps where Louise lives and great tips at the end for flash fiction writers. If you are coming to the flash fiction festival in July, you will meet Louise there and hear her read this story. Read in Full

share by email

Q & A with Robin Thomas, author of Margot And The Strange Objects

Robin Thomas’s novella-in- flash fragments, Margot and The Strange Objects is available from our short fiction press, Ad Hoc Fction on pre-order at a 25% discount on the cover price until this coming Friday, 25th March, when our small press is publishing it, along with David Rhymes’ novella in flash, The Last Days of the Union also available for pre-order on discount and Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, Vol. Four, (more details on this anthology coming soon). A great trio of books for the Spring. Here, Robin tells us more about his novella, the process of writing it and more about one of the other absurdist novellas he has been writing in the last months It’s really heartening to know how creative writers have been in the lockdown period and how many different styles of very shortfiction are illustrated in these three books. We love the cover of Robin’s book, shown here. It was designed by Ad Hoc Fiction and we think perfectly conveys the odd and intriguing characters and relationships in this unusual novella.

  • At Ad Hoc Fiction, we’ve described your novella, Margot and The Strange Objects as in the absurdist tradition and Michael Loveday, in his cover endorsement, suggests its style is in the same arena as the writings of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Can you give a synopsis of the story lines and characters? And did that style of writing influence you?
    Margot has been left a peculiar collection of ‘strange objects’ by her aunt and is on a quest to find out something about them. Helping or hindering her or engaged on some other project entirely are: two men with a burden called Nimrod, a group of children in search of sardines and ice-cream, a taciturn man with a mysterious hat, a schoolboy who’s good at asking questions, a small dinosaur, a brace of giraffes, an August Personage, George the Oak Tree (a Portuguese-speaking arboreal author), a talking building, a camel, an interfering author and Nobody. Each of these has his, her or their own story line which make minimal contact with each other until the last few pages when they all come together.

    I have always enjoyed all kinds of the absurd and surreal – Lear and Carroll certainly but also surrealist painters like Magritte, the writings of Beckett and Borges, the films of Bunuel etc. I think all these and many others influenced me but mostly unconsciously. I think I probably have absurdity in my soul.

  • What motivated you to write your novella?
    This is very interesting – a few years ago my wife and I were watching a tv programme about Phillip Pulman. On hearing that he aimed at writing a certain number of words a day Mary, my wife turned to me and suggested I do the same. I ended up writing 400 words a day for several months. After a while it looked like it was turning into a story. And that, with many changes, deletions, additions and many helpful comments by others, became Margot.
  • Margot and the Strange Objects is a novella in flash-fiction fragments, rather than in stand-alone chapters of flash fictions. Some of the individual pieces are just a couple of sentences long. How did you go about building it and arriving at the final structure?

    My unconscious must take much of the responsibility for the content. Consciously, I had to make sure that each of the story lines made ’sense’ in its own right, made contact with the other story lines at appropriate moments and played its own part, being neither dominant nor subservient. An important stage was adding titles to each ‘fragment’ which really helped me ensure that the structure was properly balanced. I had to do quite a bit of work to bring it all together at the end. This involved a lot of trial and error and a lot of checking that no loose ends had been left.
  • What were the most challenging and the most satisfying parts of this process?
    he most satisfying part was undoubtedly the writing of the 400 word fragments every day. In this phase of things I tried not to look back too far so that each fragment had a chance to develop by itself. Most challenging was the need to delete some parts that I thought worked in their own right but didn’t fit the emerging whole. Checking for inconsistencies, red herrings, things that just didn’t sound right and as I mentioned, pulling it all together at the end of the novella was also very challenging and time and energy consuming.
  • You have had several collections of poetry published. Can you tell us more about them?
    I’ve had four collections of poetry published now. I like to write about history, family, paintings, music, especially jazz and like to mix up the serious and the less serious with quite a few excursions into the absurd. My last book Cafferty’s Truck, published last year, is a kind of shaggy dog story with one leg in the absurd, the other in the diurnal. Cafferty himself never speaks, the action centring on his truck which goes ‘from here to there and there to here’. It shares some genes with Margot.
    >
  • What are you working on at the moment?

Apart from poetry, which I work on every day I have a number of novellas in flash or fragments on the go: there is Lord Merrichip’s Foray which is most advanced and which has something of a similar structure to Margot. It involves a literature and philosophy loving elderly military man and lord of the manor, his gardener cum butler with exemplary knowledge of philosophy, a pair of commoners, Pontius Pilates who habitually speaks in verse and Maid Mary-Anne who speaks in down to earth prose, her mother, who thinks she is rather posh and whose means of advertising it is to speak in Franglais, Mary-Anne’s dad, who has been working in China and who has become an expert on Confucius, Jenny Renne, an inventor responsible for No.17 which is a bad-tempered electric logic chopping machine, Ralph, a vegetarian lion and victim of a category mistake who speaks mainly Cow and whose best friend is indeed a cow – Bets-y-Coed, ducks, sheep, a tram which rides the old Spice route and others. Then there is an absurd novella about the doings of society and club members on the memorable ’Societies Day’ in suburban Loughton in Essex and a novella about Peter, whose soul is in for its yearly service. There are and one or two other novellas in very much an early stage.

Robin Thomas completed the MA in Writing Poetry at Kingston University in 2012. His poems have appeared in many poetry anthologies. He has published four poetry books with Eyewear, Cinnamon and Dempsey and Windle. Margot and the Strange Objects is his first novella-in-flash. He currently has two more simmering away.

share by email

Interview with David Rhymes about his new NIF, The Last Days of the Union

    David Rhymes wrote his brilliant novella-in-flash The Last Days of the Union over several years, as he describes below and it is a very interesting read about a real life incident just before the break up of the Soviet Union. The timing of the book going on pre-order, which co-incided with the Russian invasion into the Ukraine was, as David says in the interview, totally unplanned. David talks about his process in writing the novella and the angle he chose to take. Those who came to the February 26th Flash Fiction Festival Day will have heard him read a moving story from the novella and he is attending the next online day on March 26th to read a further story from it.The Last Days of the Union is published the day before, 25th March, 2022. And you can pre-order it now at a 25% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction. On publication, it will also be available in paperback from Amazon worldwide. We also heartily congratulate David for his first prize win in the Retreat West Novelette-in-Flash Award, judged by Mary-Jane Holmes, with Monsieur, another beautifully written book,which I (jude) have been fortunate enough to read already. This is based on another real-life historical character. We’re looking forward to seeing that in print too. Both highly recommended reads.

Interview

  • Can you talk a little bit about the background to the Last Days of the Union? 
    When I started the project in 2019, people asked me, “Why is a Brit living in Spain writing about the Soviet Union at end of the Cold War? What got you interested in that?” I told them I was fascinated by the story of Mathias Rust, the young West German aviator who, in 1987, rented a Cessna sports plane, and flew it all the way to Moscow, landing, by a series of small miracles, alive in Red Square. He was hoping to speak to Gorbachev about peace.
    As a youth I saw this on TV and thought he must be crazy. This was the time of “Protect and Survive”, when everyone was terrified of nuclear meltdown, just one year after the Chernobyl disaster. We were only just beginning to get an idea of what was really going on in the Soviet Union.

    Later, I learned from an article in the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine that a bizarre string of mix-ups and miscommunications were what lay behind Rust’s unlikely success, his having flown unharmed through the much-vaunted “Russian ring of steel.”
    I thought, “What about a historical novella-in-flash in which the main protagonist hardly features at all? A story told obliquely via related narratives, like beads on a thread, in a kind of post-modern mosaic? Stories about sleepy air traffic controllers, distracted missile silo watchers, helicopter pilots, even Gorbachev and Reagan – all connected in some way to (or by) the main thread of the journey? 

    I knew Gorbachev had turned Rust’s flight to his advantage, used it as a pretext to fire key defence leaders, to purge many of the hardline Soviet military opponents to reform. How this had enabled him to move forward on the issue of nuclear de-escalation, and eventually make faster progress towards ending the Cold War.  In later drafts, I centred in on this period of uncertainty, Gorbachev pondering how to use Rust’s flight to his advantage, to precipitate change.

  • With unplanned synchronicity, pre-orders for your novella opened on the very same day Russia invaded Ukraine. How did you feel about that?
    Dismayed. Like everyone, I’m praying the situation resolves quickly and that the current wave of solidarity with Ukraine continues and does not pale and that her people and European democracy come through this tragedy with the least possible suffering.
  • Does your book deal in any way with the contemporary political situation?
    No, not really. “The Last Days” isn’t really a political book at all, or even a book about Russia now. I was exploring a very specific moment in history, a period of tension in the eighties, in which a number of Cold War myths and assumptions were starting to crumble. The world was pole-axed by Rust’s story; leaders immediately began distancing themselves. A torrent of speculation followed in contemporary press sources – Was he a terrorist? An agent of the CIA? An anarchist? A Dada artist? I became interested in this process, how speculative narratives were “spun” warped, exaggerated by people on all sides. A good part of the novella dramatises the many in-the-moment speculations on the meaning of events.

    But of course, I was very aware throughout the writing of the fragility of the post Cold War settlement, of Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea, and now, in Ukraine, of Putin’s pychosis. Also, the contemporary problem of Russian “dezinformatsiya” and fake news saturating the airwaves.

  • What attracts you especially to the novella in flash form?
    I love the freedom to switch angles, to use jump cuts, white space, the power of juxtaposition. I think a lot about the Kuleshov effect, the way two disparate pieces or settings or shots or whatever can be laid alongside one another to create a third effect, to generate meaning from the interaction between the parts. So the quick changes between short pieces suit the way my mind works, as if the material were hyperlinked in some way. The form suits my restlessness.
  • How did you go about developing the manuscript?

    The first draft shortlisted in the Bath novella in flash competition, and in the wake of that I worked with Michael Loveday to develop the story further. There was an understanding that when Michael signed it off, Ad Hoc Fiction would publish it. My writing buddy Jupiter Jones helped me with the structure. Finally, I went back to Michael again for copy-editing. Michael kept me going when I was ready to give up, even mailing me a reminder to get on with it in lockdown, after I’d been months without writing a word. So to any other writers at work on longer pieces I’d say this – just keep going, no matter what.
  • You recently won first prize in the Retreat West novelette competition. Your story Monsieur will appear in the anthology some time in the summer. Are there any elements in common between the two stories?
    Both stories are about outsiders. Interlopers. One is an aviator, the other a mariner. Both are about journeys, one by sea and one by air. In “Monsieur” Jeanne Baret travels to the South Seas disguised as a man. Both pieces are also based on real life historical figures. Both move in fragments, making a lot of use of white space. 
  • What are you working on now?
    I’m hoping to write another thriller-type story about a real world spy, a master of disguise, another interloper, whose amazing life at the beginning of the twentieth century took him all around the world. Currently, I’m at the research stage, though I’ve written the first page and think I have the voice.
    Biographical details.
    David Rhymes lives in Navarra, Spain. He grew up in Nottingham and has a degree in English Literature from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He earns his living as a freelance translator, trainer, and instructional designer.

    His fiction has appeared in the Bath Flash Fiction, Reflex Fiction and Fish Publishing anthologies, and has won prizes in the Bath Flash Fiction and Barren Magazine competitions. Other short listings include the Bridport, LISP, Desperate Literature and Smokelong Quarterly flash fiction competitions.

For more details, you might like to follow David on Twitter

share by email

Prompt 4 of a series by David Swann

The fourth in our series of prompts from David Swann, winner of the 2021 Novella in Flash Award. Our 20th single flash award, judged this round by Karen Jones, closes tomorrow, Sunday 6th February at midnight GMT. There’s a prize pot of £1460 and an opportunity to be published in our year-end festival anthology if you reach the longlist of 50. If you want inspiration for a last minute flash, look at David’s idea below. He gives an example about how he used Ekphrasis in his novella in flash, Season of Bright Sorrow.

David says::
Ekphrasis is one of the oldest tricks in the book, used by Homer in The Iliad. It’s when one art form responds to another, e.g. you write a poem about a painting. In Season of Bright Sorrow, on p. 79, I connected the wandering boy Archie to an ancient artwork in a church, and incorporated a description of the prop, as ekphrasis usually does.

Viking giant
Archie spotted the stone as he trotted home at last, past the open door of the church. It was a hogsback, the sign said –a curved grey oblong that the Vikings had cut to resemble a wild boar. It had lain exposed for centuries in the graveyard on the headland before being dragged indoors. There was another plaque explaining something about the stone’s purpose, probably to guard an important grave, but Archie was entranced by the object, and never had time to absorb the words. He used one finger to trace a stag and a wolf. There were trees too, and what felt to his finger like birds, but it was the snake that held him, a braiding of stone that formed the frame for the carvings. Its scales made the hogsback scary and reptilian, as if a fossilised crocodile had washed up. What Archie liked most of all was the giant human figure
which had braced itself beneath the serpent and raised both arms as if in celebration of a goal. The figure’s outstretched arms looked like they were supporting the full weight of the snake. Archie smiled. The figure was going to hoy that massive creature into the sea.
‘Can I help you, young lad?’
No, Archie never had the time. He loved an old church until someone in a collar or a uniform turned up, the vicar or the sexton. Then that was that for Archie – he was offski.He was fast, true. He ran like a hare. What he missed was some muscle. Maybe if he trained, he’d end up like that Viking giant, lift his enemies in the air and throw them in the sea.


David’s prompt_

Attempt the same — take a wandering character and connect them in some way to an artwork that fascinates you.

You’ll find interesting examples of ekphrasis here:

Guest Blog: 10 Examples of Ekphrasis in Contemporary Literature by Patrick Smith.

share by email

Launch of Snow Crow, Friday 4th February

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’re delighted to launch Snow Crow, the sixth Bath Flash Fiction Anthology on Zoom on Friday 4th February,7.30 pm – 9.30 pm GMT, two days before the deadline of our 20th Award where all fifty longlisted writers will have the opportunity to be published in the 2022 anthology, There are 136 stories in Snow Crow , 300 words and under so we can only listen to a selection of them but it’s wonderful that many of the winners and commended writers from the three rounds of the 2021 Awards can come and read. ·

Those confirmed so far are first prize winners, Geeta Sankar, Dara Yen Elerath, Doug Ramspeck; Second prize winners, Emma Phillips and Jo Gatford; Third Prize winners Leonie Rowland and Tim Craig and commended writers, Sara Hills, Audrey Niven, Debra A Daniel, Chloe Banks and Regan Puckett. We’ll also hear stories from shortlisted and longlisted writers, Sage Tyrtle, Kathryn Aldridge Morris, Diane Simmons and Amy Barnes (plus a few more to come). Because the stories are all so short there’s room for around twenty-one readers altogether.

Snow Crow , the title taken from the October winning story by Doug Ramspeck was published by Ad Hoc Fiction, just before Christmas and has arrived in many different countries so far. We know it hasn’t quite reached some parts of Canada yet. Thank you to everyone on social media who’s showed us the book in different locations around the world.

In the slide show above, we have authors posed with their copy of the book; books posed with decorative Christmas and other birds (including crows, ravens, robins and parrots; books in snowy and other locations; books in offices and on tables; in line=ups with other anthologies; a book partially eaten by a dog (plus a picture of the dog!) a book showing a map of its impending travels from an author couple who both had a piece in the book. We also have samples of a few stories among the slides. If we’ve missed off your picture, please let us know and we can add it in.
Here’s a new one just arrived from Antionette Bauer in Australia

At the launch there’ll be three reading slots to hear the stories from each round of the Award, break out groups for chats and a book giveaway. A fantastic selection from an anthology of really wonderful pieces. The launch is hosted by BFFA founder, Jude Higgins, and everyone is welcome. To get a zoom link email Jude {at} Judehiggins {dot} com asap, We look forward to seeing you there!

share by email

An Etymology prompt by David Swann


Here’s the second prompt in our series from award winning writer and senior university lecturer, David Swann, based on the definition in the frontispiece of his prize-winning novella-in-flash, Season of Bright Sorrow
We’ve quoted the definition here:

‘derelict (adj.) 1640s, “left, abandoned by the owner or guardian,”
from Latin derelictus “solitary, deserted,”… “leave behind,
forsake, abandon, give up,”… Originally especially of vessels
abandoned at sea or stranded on shore. Of persona, “unfaithful,
neglectful of responsibility,” by 1864.’ — Online Etymology
Dictionary, derelict | Origin and meaning of derelict by Online
Etymology Dictionary (etymonline.com)
Season of Bright Sorrow – a phrase sometimes used to describe
the cold, sunny days of Lent, a time of both hunger and hope.

Our second print run of Season of Bright Sorrow will be back at the Ad Hoc Fiction book shop shortly, but in the meantime, you can buy from Amazon (linked to your country on the bookshop page) or purchase a signed copy direct from David. Just email jude at jude{at}adhocfiction{dot}com and she will pass on details to him.

David’s prompt

Browse the etymology website below until you find a concrete image hidden inside a word that intrigues you. For instance, our word ‘scene’ contains an ancient vestige of Arabian tents! Or ‘dereliction’ contains a stranded boat. This may take a while. But, once you have found an image that excites you, see if you can give this image to a lonely character. Then wait to see what happens when you connect their loneliness to the prop and the word. This is one of the ways in which ‘Season of Bright Sorrow’ first fired into life, all its elements brought together by the theme of ‘dereliction’. See: Etymonline – Online Etymology Dictionary

Etymonline – Online Etymology Dictionary
The online etymology dictionary (etymonline) is the internet’s go-to source for quick and reliable accounts of the origin and history of English words, phrases, and idioms. It is professional enough to satisfy academic standards, but accessible enough to be used by anyone.
www.etymonline.com

Our 2022 Novella in Flash Award just finished and we’re looking forward to reading more wonderful novellas in flash. Thank you to everyone for entering. We expect final results to be out in April, 2022.

share by email