Tag Archives: flash fiction festival

Pre-order Clearly Defined Clouds, new collection by Jude Higgins

I am so excited that Clearly Defined Clouds my collection of flash fictions is open for pre-orders, at a 25% discount, from Ad Hoc Fiction, today, May 28th ( my birthday)! Thank you very much to the production editor at Ad Hoc Fiction for arranging this. It’s a collection of 75 short-short fictions which have been published in magazines and anthologies over the last eight years or so, plus some new ones. I was going to get a collection out in time for a big, big birthday four years ago, but that was in the middle of the pandemic, and it didn’t work out. The book is released on Monday July 8th in time to be launched at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol later the same week.

I love the gorgeous cover, in my favourite colours, created by artist and writer Jeanette Sheppard. The image reflects the title story. I am blown away by the wonderful comments John Brantingham Kathy Fish, Sara Hills, Diane Simmons and Alison Woodhouse made about Clearly Defined Clouds. All these comments are included on the pre-order page at Ad Hoc Fiction. Those from Kathy, Sara, John and Diane are also reproduced on the back cover and Alison’s are inside the book. She ends hers with quoting the last line of ‘Before The Diggers Come’, my last story ‘If you join all chinks of hope together you make a necklace that can’t be broken. I hope the collection which features much concerning the ups and downs of relationships and the state of the world in general leaves the reader with a sense of hope that some things, at least, can be resolved.

If you are coming to the Flash Fiction Festival 12-14th July in Bristol UK, Clearly Defined Clouds will also be sold at a discount there and I can sign copies. If you want to buy it now, I can also send signed copies, and it will make my birthday very special. Thank you.

Jude Higgins has been writing flash fiction since 2013. Her flash fiction pamphlet, The Chemist’s House was published by V.Press in 2017 and her stories have been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies and have won, been placed or shortlisted in many contests. She has fictions included in the 2019 and 2020 lists of Best Flash Fictions of UK and Ireland, has been long listed for the Wigleaf, nominated for Best Small Fictions, a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Two of her stories have been selected for different volumes of Best Microfictions. She founded the Bath Flash Fiction Award in 2015, co-runs the Bath Short Story Award, directs Flash Fiction Festivals, UK, the short fiction press, Ad Hoc Fiction and runs reading events and offers flash fiction workshops online.

share by email

BFFA 3rd prize & Commended from South West, UK

Our 27th Award, judged by Michelle Elvy, closes two weeks today,Sunday June 2nd. £1460 in prizes. Double and triple entries reduced. Results out by the end of June.

For inspiration I’m gathering up the BFFA 3rd and commended writers from our Awards. So far, I’ve posted winning and commended stories from Tim Craig and Debra A Daniel. This time, I’m posting stories from the third prize and commended writers who live in the South West of England. (which is where I live in between Bristol and Bath). Sometimes, these writers have been able to come and read in the reading evenings I organise in Bath. Others come to the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol.. All these stories are published in our yearly anthologies, which you can buy either from Ad Hoc Fiction or from Amazon.(Links to Amazon for buying in your country on the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop page).

They are all amazing stories of 300 words or under, on different subjects and in different styles.

Michael Fitzgerald from Bath was commended in June 2016 for his story, Faulkland Island Walk
Anita MacCallum from Bristol was commended in June 2016 with her story ‘Boobless’

These two are published in the first BFFA anthology. To Carry Her Home

Alison Powell from Somerset was commended in October 2020 for her story Our fathers, who we have strewn like seaweed behind us
Sam Payne from Devon won third prize in June 2020 with The Man You Didn’t Marry

These two are published in the 2020 anthology Restore to Factory Settings

Chloe Banks from Devon was commended in October, 2021 with her story If Everyone was a Superhero

This story is published in the 2021 anthology, Snow Crow

Kathryn Aldridge Morris from Bristol was commended in February 2022 with her story Rip Tide

Abigail Williams from Devon won third prize in June 2022 with her story Don’t mistake me for your crabapple

As well as winning third prize in 2020, Sam Payne from Devon,was also commended in February 2022 with her story
When a Youtube clip of Diego Goes Viral

These stories are published in the 2022 anthology, Dandelion Years

More third prize winners and commended writers coming in the next two weeks

Thanks to everyone who has entered the 27th Award so far. We look forward to reading all your stories and seeing who reaches the top five this time round!

Jude, May 19th, 2024

share by email

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. https://www.writing.ie/resources/submitting-to-writing-competitions-a-thread-by-electra-rhodes/

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.”

share by email

Bath Flash 2021 Round Up and Thank you!

Thank you to everyone from around the world who supported all our flash fiction ventures in 2021. We so appreciate all your support. This year we ran the three Bath Flash Fiction Awards, receiving 3947 entries in total from 64 different countries; the novella-in-flash award which over 100 writers entered and since March this year, have sponsored eight monthly on-line flash fiction festival days with fabulous workshops, talks, readings and mini-contests.

The first online festival day of 2022 is coming up on Saturday January 8th with more great workshops, two mini=contests with cash and other prizes, readings and chats to boost your New Year writing resolves. Just £30 for a whole day of flashy fun 11.00 am – 6.30 pm GMT and plenty of free places for those for whom cost is a barrier. Book at flashfictionfestival.com

And we have also taken the plunge to sponsor a further in-person Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol, UK on the weekend of 8-10th July. We’ve a fantastic line up of presenters and online as well as in-person options for workshops and talks. We’ve booked the venue and a brilliant caterer. And there’s only a few more things to arrange before booking opens at the end of January. Read in Full

share by email

Interview with Doug Ramspeck, first prize winner, Oct, 2021

Doug Ramspeck won first prize in our 19th Award, with Snow Crow, a stunning and deeply moving story.You can read judge Sharon Telfer’s comments on it in her judges report. In this interview, Doug, a recently retired Professor of English from Ohio State University in Lima, USA who writes in several different genres, tells us, among other fascinating things, more about his winning piece and his new poetry collections. He talks about looking for the magic in flash and mentions third prize winner Tim Craig’s story That’s All There Is There Ain’t No More as a brilliant example of ‘rule breaking’ in writing. In an amazing co-incidence, we’ve also learned that Doug Ramspeck was the judge who selected Dara Yen Elerath’s debut collection of poetry, Dark Braid as the winner of the 20th John Ciardi Prize for Poetry through BkMk Press. Dara won first prize in our June, 2021 Award with another amazing story, The Button Wife. We’re delighted that Doug is reading his winning piece on November 27th at the next Flash Fiction Festival Day in the 2.30-2.45 pm GMT reading slot. We’re really looking forward to hearing it in his own voice. Hope you can come!


  • We agree with our 19th Award judge, Sharon Telfer, that your first prize winning story ‘Snow Crow’ is a stunning piece of writing,”brimming with tension and mystery”. Can you tell us what inspired this story and the process of writing it?

Read in Full

share by email

‘This Alone Could Save Us’, by Santino Prinzi, Launch event, 1st August

Santino Prinzi’s new full collection, This Alone Could Save Us is the latest single author collection published by our small press, Ad Hoc Fictio. It’s published on 31st July and is being launched on Zoom on Saturday, 1st August, 2020 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm BST. We’d planned to launch the book at our fourth Flash Fiction Festival which was due to take place in June this year, but of course this was cancelled. The picture of Tino here is when he was reading at last year’s festival. One of the advantages of Zoom is that we can still hear Tino live and also include guests from all over the world.

Jude, director of Ad Hoc Fiction, is hosting the event and Santino has asked writers who provided quotes for his brilliant book, to read along side him. So, as well as Tino, we’ll hear Kathy Fish, Meg Pokrass, Vanessa Gebbie and Diane Simmons. It will be a great night with break-out groups interspersed with the reading sessions so you can talk with your flash fiction friends from around the world. Plus virtual cake and fizz. If you would like to come and support Tino, please email Jude asap at jude at adhocfiction dot com to get your Zoom invite.

Available here now.

share by email

Pre-order ‘This Alone Could Save Us’ by Santino Prinzi

We’re thrilled that Ad Hoc Fiction, our small press is publishing Santino Prinzi’s wonderful new collection. This Alone Could Save Us. The collection was due to be launched at our cancelled 2020 Flash Fiction Festival UK.

Available here now.

Read what writers say about it here:

With This Alone Could Save Us, Santino Prinzi has fashioned a collection of small, smart fictions that read large. Here is work undergirded by innovation, incisive wit, and a keen ability to navigate terrain that is personal, and at once universal to us all.’

–– Robert Scotellaro, author of Nothing Is Ever One Thing

‘Santino Prinzi is a word-wizard of the heart—a writer who fearlessly excavates uncomfortable secrets. In This Alone Could Save Us, Prinzi’s first full collection of flash fiction, human nature is the subject, gentle surrealism the medium. Bizarre yet real, funny and crazily sad—it’s mesmerizing to watch Prinzi’s vulnerable characters work to free themselves from life’s stickiest webs. Subversive, haunting, beautiful—a must-have collection!’

–– Meg Pokrass, author of Alligators At Night and Series Co-Editor, Best Microfiction 2020

‘This Alone Could Save Us is a richly varied collection of flash fiction. In these compact gems, Santino Prinzi makes exquisite use of magic and the surreal, but also the quiet, evocative gestures of ordinary life. You will find the deliciously unexpected within these pages, along with moments of breath-taking stillness. Highly recommended.’

–– Kathy Fish, Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018

‘Tender, poetic, and wonderfully surreal, Prinzi understands that stories can save us. Powerful flash fiction that lights up the page, this is the book we all need right now. It is one for the ages. This stunning collection will stay with you for years.’ 

–– Angela Readman, author of Something Like Breathing and Don’t Try This At Home

‘In This Alone Could Save Us, Santino Prinzi demonstrates his enormous talent for drawing readers into his stories, often surprising them with surrealistic touches that appear totally believable and natural. The flash fictions in this impressive collection are widely varied, but each story is unmistakably Prinzi.’

–– Diane Simmons, author of Finding a Way

‘Exceptionally engaging, closely observed and thought-provoking, this collection shows us a flash master at work as he explores the fault lines that crack open under our feet at moments of unplanned change. Seen through his eyes, the familiar becomes strange, solid becomes unsteady, and even the moon loses its faith in humanity, so moves on. Sometimes sad, sometimes playful, always memorable.’ 

–– Vanessa Gebbie, author of The Cowards Tale and five short fiction collections.

share by email

Interview with Simon Cowdroy, Second Prize winner, February 2020 Award

With two weeks to go before the end of our 15th Award on June 7th, here’s another fascinating interview in our winners’ series, this time from Simon Cowdroy, second prize winning author in our February award judged by Santino Prinzi, to inspire all Last Minute Club writers. You can read Simon’s wonderful story ‘The Dissolution of Peter McCaffrey’ here and it will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in our end of year anthology along with the other winners, shortlisted and longlisted writers from our 2020 Awards. Simon tells us more about his writing process and his influences which include other writers like Australian Clive James and also the landscape in which he lives, pictured here. We asked him about his striking use of language and think his comment that he strives to use ‘imagery derived from finding a powerful and unexpected way to frame the words’ is very good advice for others who want to write memorable flash. We also like his other tips at the end of this piece and his suggestion to ‘write as if it is your last chance to do so’. It was great to meet Simon at the Flash Fiction Festival last year and hope that when we hold the festival again (fingers crossed for such events), he can come again all the way from Australia, and we can hear him read it. Read in Full

share by email

Interview with Mary-Jane Holmes, Judge, March-June 2020.

Mary-Jane Holmes is a writer, teacher and editor based in the Durham Dales, UK. She has been published in such places as the Best Small Fictions Anthology 2016 and 2018, and the Best Microfictions Anthology 2020 Her work can also be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Spelk, Cabinet of Heed, Flashback Fiction, Mslexia, Fictive Dream, The Lonely Crowd, and Prole amongst others. She is winner of the Mslexia Prize (2018), the Reflex Fiction prize (Autumn 2019) and the Dromineer Fiction Prize (2014).In 2017, she won the Bridport Poetry Prize and her poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass was published by Pindrop Press in 2018. She is currently studying for a creative writing PhD at Newcastle University and she has an unpublished flash collection knocking about that was recently short-listed for the International Beverly Prize for Literature.

  • You have been very successful in major competitions with your flash fiction over the last couple of years, winning both the Mslexia flash fiction competition and the Reflex Flash Fiction competition as well being listed and commended in other Awards most recently in the International Beverly Prize for Literature for a flash fiction collection. What do you enjoy about writing flash? And have you a favourite piece among your winners?
    I think flash fiction is one of the most flexible genres around given that it can occupy that liminal space between prose and poetry. It is also a place that can absorb risk and experimentation because of its brevity and of course it is a great discipline. I would urge anyone who wants to write in longer forms, to first cut their teeth on a genre that will teach them how concision and compression drive prose to be the best it can be. ‘No decorative humbugs’ as George Orwell said. Out of the pieces, that I have been lucky enough to have done well with, I think ‘Down the Long Long Line’ that will be in this year’s Best Microfiction Anthology is a favourite as it is very much tied with my PhD that deals with looking at history and the female voice.
  • You are a poet as well as a flash fiction writer. Do you find you can move easily between the two forms? Some people make a strong distinction between prose poetry and flash. Others don’t see much difference. Do you have a view on this? 
    I always set out knowing whether I am going to write either a poem or a flash fiction. There has never been anything I have written where I have thought – oh this isn’t a poem, it’s a piece of flash, so I must, on some level see a difference between the two forms although it is hard to pin that down. I suppose that something that has more narrative drive, suits flash fiction and perhaps that is where the distinction lies for me.
    • Which flash fiction writers do you currently enjoy reading? 
      Oh gosh – well pretty much all of the writers that Ad Hoc fiction published last year. Michael Loveday, Charmaine Wilkerson, Ken Elkes, Meg Pokrass. Amy Hempel is probably the writer that got me into considering the short form and Lydia Davies of course. There are many many others….
    • Teaching flash fiction is something you have done for many years, both single workshops, like at The Flash Fiction Festival in 2019 and longer courses. What do you like about teaching this form? In your longer courses, do you find that  there is a point where writers suddenly grasp what flash fiction is?
      I think that teaching flash fiction is ultimately so satisfying because it provides a writer with everything they need to know about narrative structure, style and the character’s dynamics of desire that are key to animating any story. Whether that writer wants to move to the longer form or not, the thing about flash is that the image rather than the idea (Nabakov said ‘all ideas are hogwash’)  drives the tension. Readers really only connect with the emotions a writer is trying to convey when the image is at the forefront, and students of flash fiction quickly understand this and use it to great advantage. If just starting out, this saves a lot of time realizing that summary and explanation aren’t as resonant as drama and action and that as writers our responsibility is to give just enough detail for the reader to build the picture and the story on their own. We want readers who actively participate in a story, not passive listeners being told everything, Flash Fiction is by far the best genre to learn this and to learn it quickly!
    • Have you got any up and coming workshops or courses, people can book on?
      I am really sorry to be missing this year’s Bristol Flash Fiction Festival but unfortunately it clashes with running the Casa Ana writing retreat in Granada, Spain which I facilitate two to three times a year. I have a new online Memoir Flash course that I will be running with Retreat West later in the year and I also run an online course with Fish Publishing Ireland which you can sign up to any time.
    • What makes a winning micro fiction for you?
      A great opening that will draw me in, after all in micro, we are finishing the story almost as we start it. After reading the story, I want to feel that the story’s ending was inevitable and yet surprising at the same time. That doesn’t mean that the ending needs to be nice and neat but I do want to say ‘Wow, of course!’ and not ‘where did that come from?’
    • Tips to help writers  create their best story of 300 words or under?  
      Zoom in on a single event;
      Begin in the middle of the action as close to the arc or climax of the story;
      Decide where your focus is – event, point-of-view, character?;
      Write using active voice and eliminate extraneous description;
      Remember that every word counts;
      Use a directive last sentence that gives narrative insight or opinion;
      Make rereads necessary or at least inviting;
      Close with a phrase that sends the reader back into the story;
      Know when you’ve made your point.
    share by email
  • 14th Award Round Up

    Thank you very much to all the world-wide Flash Fiction writers who entered stories in our 14th Award. I’s wonderful that so many people from around the world are writing flash fiction. Our entries increased again, this time to 1367. There were so many inventive stories, so many good ones to choose from to find our long list of fifty. Entries came in from the following thirty-one countries:

    Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

    The last weeks of the Award were very busy and the Last Minute Club writers who, on the last day, 16th February, received their badge pictured here, this time a sunny yellow, were jostling at the door up until the very last seconds before midnight. We’ve produced badges for the last six awards and I am sure several writers have collected all of them.

    Several different countries were represented in the long and short lists and this year, our five winners come from four different countries/continents. Many congratulations to our first prize winner Sharon Telfer, from the UK who has now won first prize twice, the last time in Summer 2016. She also had a story commended in February 2019. What a fantastic achievement! And many congratulations also to our second prize winner, Simon Cowdroy from Australia, who has had a story commended by us before, and third prize to Christina Dalcher from the USA, who was also a first prize winner in February 2019. Many congratulations also to Remi Skytterstad from Norway, who was highly commended and Claire Powell from the UK, also highly commended. All five stories are brilliant examples of flash fiction and you can read them on the winners’ pages on this site and later in our print anthology.

    It’s always exciting to compile the first part of the year-end anthology and many long and short listed authors have already accepted our publication offer for the fifth BFFA anthology, which will be published in December this year, after all three yearly awards have been completed. We hope those who have booked for the flash fiction festival, 19-21st June and who are winners or listed writers, might like to read their pieces in our Open Mic Sessions. It is always great to hear them read out loud.

    This time the Award turn around was even quicker than usual. We wanted to complete it by the end of February and we are very grateful to the reading team for dedicating many hours of reading during the life of the Award and in particular in the last few weeks and the final weekend and afterwards and for our judge, writer, editor and tutor and one of the Directors of National Flash Fiction Day UK, Santino Prinzi, for immersing himself in the longlist over several days to select the short list, find the winners and achieve a very fast result. He told us the whole process was a blast which he greatly enjoyed. Read his report and comments here.

    The next Award judged by writer and writing tutor, Mary-Jane Holmes opens on March 1st and ends on Sunday June 7th. Results will be out by the end of June. We look forward to reading more flash fictions and be astonished, moved, humbled and amazed all over again.

    Jude Higgins
    February, 2020

    share by email