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Interview with a double prize-winner

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Hannah Persaud

Interviewed by InkTears founder

Anthony Howcroft

 

Hannah, you’ve obviously had a great year with your writing - you were the Winner of our InkTears short story contest, and our Runner Up last year. I know those weren’t your only two published stories either, so we’d love to know more about your writing life. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been writing, and what made you start?

Thanks Anthony, I am still buzzing about winning your competition.  I have loved reading since I was four, and as a child I dreamt of being a writer (and a metal detectorist). As a teenager I wrote a lot of tormented poetry. I studied English & Publishing at University and considered journalism as a career but was put off by the competitiveness of it (ha, the irony). Then life swallowed me up a bit. Three years ago I decided to give writing a proper try and signed up to an online introductory creative writing course with Faber Academy. It was the first writing I’d done in many years, and I loved it. I then applied for their Writing a Novel course, which I completed in 2015 (the resulting attempted novel is in a drawer). Around this time, I wrote my first short stories and entered them into competitions. They went nowhere. I despaired. I read my way through Nicholas Royle’s Best British Short Stories anthologies, carefully. I wrote more, I entered more. I made it onto a long list. I got rejections. Then a short list. I got rejections. Then I won something, which kept me going through the next round of rejections. I was hooked, and haven’t looked back. Sometimes I feel sad that I didn’t start earlier, but then I figure maybe I just wasn’t ready to commit to writing the way it needs to be committed to. I know that I won’t ever stop writing now I’ve found it.

 

You’ve lived in many places, from Yorkshire to Nepal. How do those locations seep into your writing?

They haven’t, so far. Though setting is always the first thing in my stories that emerges, I dislike hearing myself in my fiction. This was something I battled with at first, how to keep the narrator(s) in my stories distinct from my own voice. This is the reason that so far I’ve not used my own past in my writing. Since I’ve started writing though I do deliberately seek out places that I think could be creatively inspiring, Cyfannedd Fach [Anthony: this year’s InkTears Short Story Contest winner] being a prime example.

 

Who are the people in your stories - where do they come from?

They come from nowhere and everywhere. News articles I have read, a man I sat behind at a carol concert, a woman who I pass in the street – more often than not they just emerge from the setting I have chosen, as outlines that I need to sketch in.

 

You story The Fox is set in an alternate future and could be termed sci-fi. I don’t know if you ever read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which has recently been turned into a TV series, but it is also a sci-fi tale. However, I suspect both The Fox and The Handmaid’s Tale would be found in a different section of the book store - perhaps feminist literature? (or just literature). Do you think female writer’s tackle the future in a different way?

Women have had to work harder to be recognised, not just as writers, but in the workplace, in the family unit, in politics and the arts. Therefore, to me it feels logical that in imagining the future, the strongest and most interesting voice is the one that has been repressed, that has to fight to be heard.

 

I see you have an agent (congratulations!). How did you find one? Any tips for the rest of us?

Thank you. Yes, I’ve been really lucky, Laura Macdougall of United Agents is brilliant. She actually found me through twitter – she read some of my stories that I had on my website and contacted me, and we’ve been in touch ever since. We met up in London and got along really well, and when I was a third of the way through the book I am working on, she took a leap of faith and offered to represent me. I jumped at the chance.

Twitter has been invaluable to me because of its ability to connect writers with other writers, agents and publishers, so I’d recommend it to any writer as a way to get your voice out into the world. It’s not only virtual either, I’ve got several friends in real life whom I met through twitter, including my writing buddy James (we’ve been critiquing each other’s work for around eighteen months now).

 

Can you tell us about the novel you’re working on?

It’s loosely based on Cyfannedd Fach, certainly in terms of setting. It also covers similar themes. I am in the final stages of editing it at the moment and we’re hoping to submit to publishers in the next few months. I am hoping that the patience and resilience I’ve built through short story competitions will see me through the nervous wait (and inevitable rejections!).

 

Do you see short stories as a stepping stone to a novel? Will you carry on writing short stories, or will novels now take up most of your time?

When I first started writing short stories it was to try and build some credibility around my writing, and that worked really well in terms of giving me a profile in a competitive industry. It also increased my resilience to rejection. Unexpectedly, I fell completely in love with the form, and now I absolutely intend to continue writing short stories, alongside my novel (hopefully novels)! There is a short-term satisfaction to be gained from writing short stories that is absent with a novel, and I find them a positive way to break up the novel writing/editing at times when it feels too impossible. They’re also an excellent way to hone the craft of writing, as well as being a good testing ground for small ideas that may stand the pressure of expansion into novel form. I’d love to have a short story collection published one day too.

 

What’s your writing routine like - do you have a special place or time where you work?

I write around my paid job, my children and my dogs, so establishing a fixed routine is difficult. My ideal way to write is early in the morning, every day, and in my writing hut (a few days before I found out I’d won InkTears I bought a writing shed which I couldn’t afford, my InkTears win paid for most of it, as if it was meant to be!). For the past three years I have written anywhere I can - kitchen table, in bed, in cafes.

 

What about the tools? Tea, coke or red wine? Typewriter, pen and paper, or laptop?

Laptop, tea, and if I’ve had a particularly good day, at the end of it, wine. Throughout the day when I’m not at my desk I make notes in my phone which I transfer later. When I am editing a short story I print it out and carry it around with me, obsessively tinkering with it.

 

Critical writing question: Melanie Whipman (author of Llama Sutra) has Red Setters, I have Weimararners, what type of dogs do you have?!

Working Cocker Spaniels, Buddy and Lyra.

 

Finally, since you have kindly agreed to be one of short story judges this year, do you have any tips for aspiring short story writers? What are the key things that you use as checklist to measure your own stories?

I am so excited and honoured to be a judge this year, thank you. I am fairly haphazard by nature and tend to avoid fixed methods when it comes to writing. I’ll start writing a story knowing nothing about it other than the setting, and will wait for the story to become clear as it fills itself in. I can usually tell if the story has potential at the end of the first draft; if it feels like it has a pulse, a heartbeat of its own, then it’s a good sign. If it doesn’t have that, I ditch it. My one tip would be, if your short story feels too self-conscious, it probably is. Consider showing it someone else whose opinion you respect. Other people can really help to identify things that you haven’t noticed in your own writing.

 

Thanks for spending some time with us Hannah - best of luck with the novel. We shall look forward to reading that, and some more of your short stories!


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  All Photos by Eva Persaud, aged 10. Unicorn trainer and future vet (and photographer, obviously)

All Photos by Eva Persaud, aged 10. Unicorn trainer and future vet (and photographer, obviously)

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Radio 4 book of the week by Sally Bayley

We were delighted to see Sally Bayley's memoir, Girl with Dove has been chosen by Radio 4 as its book of the week (for May 28th). Sally is a talented writer, teacher, and a long-time supporter of InkTears. I think many of our readers would love this book (published by Harper Collins by the way, so nothing to do with us...). Here's the blurb which I think gives a great summary (especially that last paragraph):

 

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Growing up in a dilapidated house by the sea where men were forbidden, Sally’s childhood world was filled with mystery and intrigue. Hippies trailed through the kitchen looking for God, their leader was Aunt Di, who ruled the house with charismatic force. When Sally’s baby brother vanishes from his pram, she becomes suspicious of the activities going on around her. What happened to Baby David and the woman called Poor Sue? And where did all the people singing and wailing prayers in the front room suddenly go?

Disappearing into a world of books and reading, Sally adopts the tried and tested methods of Miss Marple. Taking books for hints and clues, she turns herself into a reading detective. Her discovery of Jane Eyre marks the beginning of a vivid journey through Victorian literature where she also finds the kind, eccentric figure of Charles Dickens’ Betsey Trotwood. These characters soon become her heroines, acting as a part of an alternative family, offering humour and guidance during many difficult moments in Sally’s life.

Combining the voices of literary characters with those of her real-life counterparts, Girl With Dove reads as a magical series of strange encounters, climaxing with a comic performance of Shakespeare in the children’s home where Sally is eventually sent.

Weaving literary classics with a young girl’s coming of age story, this is a book that testifies to the transformative power of reading and the literary imagination. Mixing fairy tale, literary classics, nursery rhymes and folklore, it is the story of a child’s adventure in wonderland and search for truth in an adult world often cast in deep shadow.

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InkTears Short Story Winners 2017

Congratulations to the winners of our 2017 annual short story contest. Here are the full results. More details in the newsletter, but each of these stories will be published in our monthly newsletter.

Winner

Cyfannedd Fach by Hannah Persaud

 

Runner Up

Thirty Five Dolls by Marc Joan

 

Highly Commended

A Walk in the Park by Jan Kaneen

Walnuts, Almonds, Nuts by Tamara Lazaroff

Hang Ten by Louise Rimmer

Graduation Day by Jennifer Tucker

The Less Fortunate by Alison Wassell

 

The eagle-eyed may notice that Hannah was our Runner Up last year. We blind judge our stories, which means that it is quite an achievement to get into the shortlist two years in a row, never mind winning a prize. I think we're going to hear more about Hannah, and we're hoping she will do a little interview for us in the near future. I may have to ban her next year though, or better still, recruit her into our team of judges!

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Bonnie West: first paperback edition from InkTears

As you probably know, we publish both eBook and Hardback books at InkTears, and have steadfastly avoided the paperback... until now! Bonnie West was the very first InkTears Short Story winner, and we published her hardback a couple of years ago. We have a handful of the hardback copies secreted away - as a future investment (!) - but the rest have sold out. Bonnie has been putting us under immense (but friendly) pressure to publish a paperback edition, and we have finally surrendered. If you didn't catch it the first time around, you can now buy the paperback edition via Amazon (same cover - so don't be fooled) for pretty much the same price as the Kindle edition. What are you waiting for? Here it is: Boyfriends

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Mandy Huggins publishes Flash Collection

Does the name Mandy Huggins sound familiar? It should do - because she has won prizes in both our short story and flash contests, and we're delighted to hear that she now has a published collection of flash fiction called Brightly Coloured Horses. Here's the blurb:

Twenty-seven tales of betrayal and loss, of dreams and hopes, of lovers, liars and cheats. Stories with a strong sense of place, transporting us from the seashore to the city, from India's monsoon to the heat of Cuba, and from the supermarket aisle to a Catalonian fiesta. We meet a baby that never existed, a car called Marilyn, a one-eyed cat, and a boy whose kisses taste of dunked biscuits. These stories all have something in common; each is a glimpse of what it's like to be human. We make mistakes, we do our best, and most of the time we find hope.

We shall be picking up our own copy from Amazon. Here's the link

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Shortlist for InkTears Short Story Contest

Here is the shortlist for the annual short story contest. Congratulations if you made it this far. We will email the winners by the end of February (probably midnight, Pacific Standard Time, because we like to cut things really tight to the deadline...)

Susan Bennett

Lynn Bushell

Julie Hayman

Brian Holland

Marc Joan

Anthony Johnson

Jan Kaneen

Tamara Lazaroff

Lisa Magee

Sherry Morris

Hannah Persaud

Louise Rimmer

Sarah Thomson

Jennifer Tucker

Alison Wassell

 

Congratulations!

 

 

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The short story vending machine

I should really be more positive about the short story vending machine (in case you've missed this story  in the news, you can read about it here). I'm all for encouraging short stories, and anything that makes them more accessible must surely be a good thing, but I can't help thinking this is a gimmick. In an era where most of us can choose to download a story at the click of a button (or have a free one sent to us via email every month!), it seems archaic to introduce a large physical machine to dispense stories on demand. I wonder where the vending machines could possibly be located where they would make a difference; schools? offices? not at the train station, which already has shops selling books, magazines and sweets. I just can't imagine going to grab a can of soda from the vending machine, and thinking, may be I will grab an Alice Munro to go with that. Let's face it, I'm far more likely to get a kitkat. I do like the fact that the company is using it as a forum to encourage newbie writers, though. Kudos for that. It did make me wonder though, what other strange machines we might need.

How about a machine for writers? It could randomly dispense story prompts, miniatures of alcohol, little black notebooks, or for the lucky few, the unscreened telephone number of an agent. I'd quite like a robot in my house that could both reorganise the books on the shelves into a decent order, so that short stories are in one section, reference books on a different shelf, and so on. Of course, it would need to be able to make sure the books were of a uniform height, so they didn't look odd, and I would also expect it to solve conundrums like whether to group novels and short story collections by the same author in the story or general fiction areas, and what to do about the one irritating book that is too large to fit on a specific shelf. Perhaps it could also decide whether the Handmaid's Tale should be in my Sci-Fi, Feminist, or Literary Fiction category. A basic feature would be for it to locate any book, and bring it to me. This would include books I have loaned to friends, and have no recollection who or where. I just know that I DO have a copy of that book, and I want it back now.

What else? What machines for readers and writers would you like to see...?

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How to write inside a coffin

Officially speaking, it is not a coffin, but a sensory deprivation tank - a salt floatation unit. You clamber in, normally naked, lower the lid, float in a few inches of super saturated salt water that is the same temperature as your body, and switch off the lights. You can have some new age music, playing underwater, but I prefer silence. For the first few moments it can feel like you are spinning in space, similar to the sensation of falling that you get when you are drifting into sleep. Then, you feel nothing. Because the water is your body temperature, and the salt means that you float with ease (not touching the sides or bottom), once the small waves have subsided it feels like you are simply suspended in a weightless environment. This is when the magic occurs, and you can start writing.

Let me say that floatation centres aren't new. I tried a couple in Oxford eight or nine years ago and liked them. I did a large scale version in a pool for eight or nine people in Reading. A few months ago, a new center opened up near my office, with a special intro offer, and I decided to take the plunge (surely I can have one bad pun in this little blog?!). So since late October, I've been doing a salt float once a month. If you do a quick search on google or bing you will no doubt be able to see if there is a facility near where you live, and give it a go. Their websites will fill you in on all fo the pseudo-science (if I'm honest, I'm never quite convinced by all the stuff about the type of brainwaves it induces and how it sits between REM sleep and relaxation, but go ahead and educate yourself). I can tell you that I like it, and I'll explain why I think it's good for writing. One warning first: some people are uncomfortable with the size of the space, and the concept of being trapped in a coffin-like device, feeling claustrophobic, others are paranoid they are going to drown. Unless you have a serious issue with small spaces, I wouldn't worry - the modern floatation units are quite big, and egg-shaped. I'm over six foot tall and I never feel cramped or confined. The real issue is wounds. As a runner, I have hopped in several times with minor friction burns. I won't tell you where, but with a modicum of imagination, you might think where runners most frequently suffer friction - it is not on our feet - and I can tell you that super-saturated salt water can be ****ing painful. The good news is that it only lasts for a few minutes, and then the pain fades away. The salons provide petroleum jellies to put on cuts and wounds, but I never seem to notice until I get in, and by then it's too late.

How do you write, you want to know? Well, you can't physically put pen to paper in the tank, but it is a perfect place to work through knotty problems with your narrative, or to imagine an entire new short story. The trick is to have a particular idea in mind that you want to explore, before you settle down. Then, when the water and your mind have calmed, you can start to imagine and visualise the story. Pseudo-science or not, I have to say that the experience is definitely highly creative, and more akin to a structured dream than simply sitting down and writing - although I know that can induce a trance like state too. A couple of times, I have imagined entire short stories, and then got out and jotted the key points down into a moleskine that I have in my sports bag. Other times, I have worked on some complex problems at work (which is related to the application of Artificial Intelligence in swarms of machines). On two occasions, I have pretty much fallen asleep, and not been able to have any coherent thoughts - largely because I was very tired. Don't worry though, you won't drown. The extreme buoyancy and the fact that you are lying on your back make it almost impossible. I did a quick google check, and the only incidents I could find involved someone who had taken ketamine first (the horse tranquilliser), and another person on a cocktail of opiates. There are a couple of people who claim to sleep in them every night.

One other interesting aspect is that you lose track of time. I normally ask the receptionist to give me music for the last 5 minutes, just so that I know when the session is ending. Otherwise, after you have been in there for some time, you can begin to wonder if you have been abandoned, and will emerge to find the zombie apocalypse has occurred, or the planet has been pulverised by asteroids. One time in particular, I began to feel that I had been in the tank for longer than my hour, and as I was starting to cool off, I decided to clamber out and check. Yes, my watch confirmed that I had been in the tank for 90 minutes instead of sixty. It was no big deal. I showered, dressed, and wandered into the quiet room, and then through to the exit. Which was locked. And all of the lights were turned off. I have to admit to feeling slightly panicked at this point, until I saw the receptionist outside, smoking a cigarette. A brief conversation yelled through the glass and I discovered that the receptionist had managed to lock themselves out, and I was advised to go to the fire exit, where I could escape and they could re-enter. Slightly surreal, but I think I have an idea for a new story...

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Longlist for InkTears Short Story contest 2017

Here's the (long)list you've been waiting for... and since we only send individual emails out at later stages, you will have to scroll down to see if you have made it this far. Good luck! We are working on the shortlist now, keep checking the site for more information later in February. Congratulations to those that made the list, and commiserations to those that missed out. Keep trying!

James Arnold

Matty Bannond

Claudia Barnett

Chris Belbin

Susan Bennett

C. R. Berry

Lucy Bignall

Dianne Bown-Wilson

Colin Brezicki

Lynn Bushell

Linda Butler

Carol Cram

Jeanne Davies

Joshua Davis

Conor Derbyshire

Susan Dillon

Bernadette Eden

Joan Bullion El Faghloumi

Carole Ellis

Julie Evans

Amy Ferguson

Trevor Fevin

Jennie Foy

Ken Frape

John Freeman

Christine Genovese

Glynis Gertsch

Adena Graham

Andrew Grenfell

Bruce Harris

Jan Harvey

Julie Hayman

Keren Heenan

William Hillier

Catherine Hokin

Brian Holland

Richard Hooton

Don Horne

Mandy Huggins

Michael Hurst

Stephanie Hutton

Marc Joan

Anthony Johnson

Bonnie Jones

Peter Jordan

Jan Kaneen

Lucy Kellett

John Langan

Emily Larkin

Gordon Lawrie

Tamara Lazaroff

L P  Lee

Rhiannon Lewis

Sue Lovett

Deidre Macfarlane

Lisa Magee

Hester Marshall

Fiona McNeill

Antonina Mikocka-Walus

Isabel Miles

Sherry Morris

Guy Newton

Cheryl Nicol

Alberto Nissim

Amanda O'Callaghan

Fiona O'Connor

Sarah O'Mahony

Hannah Persaud

Charlotte Platt

Yvonne Popplewell

Alex Reece Abbott

Louise Rimmer

Jon Sellars

Tom Shillito

Valerie Shipp

Ruby Soames

Jenny Steel

Clark Thomas

Sarah Thomson

Becky Tipper

Jennifer Tucker

Lotte van der Krol

Deb Wain

Alison Wassell

Colin Watts

Ginna Wilkerson

Mary Williams

 

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Launch party for Showcase editions

Never one to miss an excuse for a party, (even though we are quiet, introverted, writer-types), we are holding a little informal bash to launch How to Begin a Wonderful Life, and Death of a Superhero. Everyone is invited (it would be great if you could drop me a line and let us know you're attending), here are the details:

Date: 16 December 2017

Time: 4:30 - 7:30 pm

Location: The Sun Pub, 21 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5RH

Wine and nibbles will be served, and several authors will be there to read selections from their books, and to sign copies too!

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Winners of the InkTears 2017 Flash Fiction Prize

Winner

Coming back to Primorsk by Anna Nazarova-Evans

 

Runner Up

A Jolly Good Fellow by Sharon Telfer

 

Highly Commended

Drown by Melissa Goode

Jenny and I go to Bristol Zoo by Anthony Dandy

Pedometry by Shannon Savvas

Subsidence by Samantha White

Swifts by Jude Higgins

The Days to Come by Michael Batchelor

The Miracle Man - 1978  by Thecla Condon

Where the plan first occurred to her Amy J Kirkwood

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InkTears is 100!

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Happy Birthday to Us!

OK, we're not actually 100 years old, despite the photographic evidence to the contrary.

However, we have published 100 issues of our Newsletter, delivering 85 stories by new writers, 6 classic stories from legendary authors, and 54 pieces of flash fiction. Several writers have featured multiple times, and a few have even crossed boundaries and appeared in our flash and fiction lists. A big thank you to every one of our contributors, and also to all of you that have entered our competitions. I haven't tallied up the number of contest entries, but it would be in the thousands. Every story I've read has improved my own writing, but given that I'm still a struggling author myself, it looks like the ten-thousand hour thing might need to be ten-million for me :(  

Our first issue was in 2009, and as we approach 2018 we will soon be at our ninth 'real' birthday as measured in years. We are contemplating what the future holds... we want to celebrate our tenth birthday in 2019 (party?!) but after that, well, we shall see! The writing & publishing world has changed tremendously since InkTears launched. We are older than the iPad, and even the Kindle had barely celebrated it's first birthday when we sent out the issue #1. 

 

I'm immensely proud of the writers we have helped, in our small way, to highlight - from those that have published collections with us: Bonnie West, Lynne Voyce, Mark Wagstaff, Melanie Whipman, Joanna Campbell, and also those whose work has simply featured in our newsletter - people like Alison Moore, Tania Hershman, Nicholas Royle, Danielle McLaughlin to name just a few (and apologies to all others not listed!). We have two new showcase volumes coming out which will highlight several writers that have had multiple pieces published with us, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on those volumes soon (check out the launch event).

Most of all though, I'm delighted to think how many readers have delighted in the work that we have been able to share. Since the beginning, we have stuck to our credos of one email per month, never selling your data, and we don't allow third-party adverts in our newsletter either (although we will give you a nudge to buy the books we print ourself - purely to keep funding the whole thing!). As I've discovered via managing the judging process for our contests, nobody likes every story, but I hope that there have been many tales that have generated a smile, or brought a tear to your eye. Hopefully not because of our editing. Thanks for being part of the InkTears tribe!

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Typewriter Heaven

I was passing through San Francisco airport last week, and I saw a great collection of vintage typewriters. I even spoke to one guy who showed me a specific model in a glass case, and explained that he had the same one at home that he still used to make notes for his kids. I showed him the 'Hanx' typewriter that I use on my iPad and he was amazed. Great fun looking at these. I love the power of modern computers, with grammar and spell check software (although it has some flaws as we will see when I do another post on proof-reading soon...), but there is something unremittingly romantic about these machines.

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How about this one here? It's the style used by Ray Bradbury (although I'm still puzzled by how the 'coin-operated-pay-by-the-dollar' system works, for anyone who has read the story about him writing Fahrenheit 451).

There was also an English Imperial machine with a quote by Paul McCartney about how John Lennon was always on the typewriter when he would go to meet him at Aunt Mimi's house, even though nobody else he knew seemed to have a typewriter.

Do any of you Hemmingway-folks still use a physical typewriter, where you have to whack the keys? Or even an electronic one where you change the golf-ball to get a new font?

If I had to handwrite everything, I'm not sure I could have been a writer. When you're a left-handed person that uses your right-hand to write (don't ask why), all you get is smudges and a dirty hand.

What about you?

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Longlist for Flash Fiction contest 2017

Here we go... the longlist for our annual flash fiction contest. Feel free to share and jump up and down on social media, if you feel so inclined, or knock back a stiff drink if that's your choice. If you are on this list, then you may have won - nobody has been notified yet, that will happen in about a week, give or take a few days. If you are not on the list, then take heart in the fact that there were about 50+ additional stories that were only a smidgen away from being here - stories that came very, very close. I did consider publishing a longlist of 100+, but for a contest with about 400 entries that felt like overkill. I've noticed other sites are doing a longlist of 10 stories these days, which is a shame... anyway. Congrats to the long listed. Commiserations to everyone else.

A Collection, Diane Simmons

A Jolly Good Fellow, Sharon Telfer

Ash, Charmaine Wilkerson

At Sea, Rachel Sargeant

Balloons, Sherry Morris

Blitz, Alison Wassell

Car by Car, Mandy Huggins

Clocks, Adena Graham

Coffee, Sophie Livingston

Coming Back to Primorsk, Anna Nazarova-Evans

Countdown, Susan Howe

Drown, Melissa Goode

Filled, Redfern Barrett

Freedom, William Hillier

Globophobia, Sherry Morris

Grace, Margaret Duffus

Grace, Elizabeth Ottosson

Gut, Stephanie Hutton

Holiday, Melissa Goode

How to Keep Warm in the Winter, Jan Kaneen

Humbuggery, Jan Kaneen

In Pieces, Christina Taylor

Jenny and I go to Bristol Zoo, Anthony Dandy

Love story, Jessica Lennard

Murmuration, Fiona Mills

My Broken Leg, Leonie Hearn

Mystery, Tony Oswick

Opposite of a Girl, Stephanie Hutton

Pedometry, Shannon Savvas

Perpetual Motion, Samantha See

Pregnant Pause, William Diamond

Providence, Christopher Allen

Purple With a Purpose, Amanda Saint

Sad Songs, Yvonne Popplewell

Seeing, Richard Vick

Sex All Weekend, Michael Forester

Someone to Hold, Peter Barker

Space, Imogen van der Meer

Sponges, Russell Reader

Subsidence, Samantha White

Sunday Morning, John Holland

Sundown Town, Joe Eurell

Swifts, Jude Higgins

Thanatos, Steven Holding

The Bone Queen, Donna Greenwood

The Days to Come, Michael Batchelor

The Man behind the Face, Jill Brown

The Miracle Man - 1978, Thecla Condon

The Sunday CERN Laboratory Created an Accidental Supermassive Black Hole, Steven Amen

Two Loonies, Brindley Dennis

Tying the knot, Mary Bevan

What Cats Can Do, Charmaine Wilkerson

What We Can't Help Wishing, Helen Kampfner

Whatever Speed She Dared, Mandy Huggins

When No One Is Looking, Karen Jones

Where the plan first occurred to her, Amy J. Kirkwood

Willing to meet, Drew Taylor

Winter Spider, Jude Higgins

 

That's all!

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The magic of new writing software

I got very excited the other day, because I saw that Scrivener are preparing to launch a third version of their writing application. If you haven't used it, the tool is great for organising notes, characters, plot lines, etc. In fact, it is one of the best tools for creating a novel or a non-fiction book, or a screenplay (although it has some competition in that category from Final Draft). I don't use it for short stories, but I do have a couple of other books that I've been working on with Scrivener for at least a few years (hey, I didn't say it stopped you procrastinating).

The funny thing is that I know from experience, that while a new version of the software (any software) will look better, and have a few useful features, it won't actually help me finish either of those two books. Yet, it has stopped me working on them in the short term, because why would I want to use a tool that is old and (about to be) outdated, when I can wait a few months and have the latest shiny toy to use?

If you want to see more about the new version, check out the link: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/?p=1032

P.S. I should say I have no affiliation with them, and I buy the software like everyone else. I just like it!

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I'm not a new age hippy but...

...I am going to recommend using a salt-flotation device, especially if you are a writer! A new place opened up near my office recently with 'pods' where you can do a salt-float. I actually tried these years ago, in a place on Oxford High Street. My wife used to call the units coffins, because they were long narrow devices where they shut the lid on you, so perhaps not great for people with claustrophobia. I really like the experience though (the float, not the coffin), and we once went to big salt-float pool at a place called Nirvana, near Reading. That was a communal float, with a ceiling that looks like stars with twinkling lights. That would have been a much more enjoyable experience if I hadn't done a big run earlier in the day and rubbed my nipples raw. As a tip, heavily salted water and raw wounds = bad combination. 

Anyway, I'm mentioning this here in the blog because I always found the flotations great for writing inspiration. The experience is hard to describe - although you can read lots of reviews and comments on the relevant websites. What I find, is that after may be ten or fifteen minutes, your body is left behind (the water is skin temperature, and you are floating perfectly still, and not touching anything, so your body sort of ceases to register), and your mind can wander. It is great for thinking about story ideas, clearing your head, daydreaming, etc. I nearly always find myself surprised that the hour has passed, and hopping out to grab a notebook and jot down a couple of ideas I've just had. So if you have a particular writing problem you're wrestling with, or you just fancy a different experience, I'd recommend giving it a try. 

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Fantastic material, but I'm not worthy

Just got back from a fantastic summer holiday, exploring the 'wild west' of America. The quantity of amazing short story material was incredible: we did horse rides up and down very steep hills, rode through streams, saw bison, deer, bears and wolves. We sat in a cafe where Wild Bill Hickok was shot, stayed in Buffalo Bill's hotel (where he auditioned Annie Oakley), toured a gold mine and learned why many miners lost fingertips (and most were poor, but the blacksmiths became very wealthy). My little black moleskine is crammed full of story notes and ideas. The problem is, I don't know that period of history, and I don't have an authentic American voice (still think in English - you'd be amazed at the number of differences - did you know a UK cow pat is a US cow chip?). So do I write a story that will be riddled with historical and linguistic errors, or do I stick to what I know...? Over to you, dear readers...

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Meet a prize winning author on Thursday!

If you want to meet Melanie Whipman, reading from her Rubery Prize winning collection Llama Sutra, she's appearing as one of several authors at a short story event this Thursday (10th Aug). It's at the Cherry Reds, 88 John Bright street, Birmingham, kick-off at 7pm. I believe entry is free too.

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Llama Sutra wins International Rubery Book Prize for Short Story collections

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We are proud and delighted to share the news that Melanie Whipman has won the International Rubery Book Prize Short Story Category for her collection Llama Sutra. Here's what the judges said:

This is a varied collection in terms of genres (fantasy, crime, romance) and themes, tending towards YA characters in an attractive and very well produced hardcover volume. There are entertaining characters and compelling plots here, dealt with in a skilful and subtle manner. The writing is assured and striking with some wonderful turns of phrase. Some of the stories are quietly moving. The reader particularly enjoyed the title story and "The Deer".  

Congratulations Melanie! You can see all of the category winners on the Rubery site here.

 

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Deadline extended for Flash contest

Good news - you have two more weeks to polish up that piece of flash (or write something new!). Why have we done this? Well, I'm always suspicious of contests that extend deadlines, because it suggests they don't have enough entries... in this case the answer is much simpler. We always get a flood of entries (and questions) on the final couple of days, and given that the bulk of our team is on vacation, with limited online connectivity, we decided it would be wise to prevent stress all around by extending the deadline until everyone is back :)  Don't worry though, the short story contest will start immediately afterwards, so if flash isn't your thing, you will soon get a chance to enter your longer fiction.

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