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Triple Novella-in-Flash Launch!

We’re delighted to host a joint launch on Zoom of the three novellas-in-flash by North American writers, recently published or about to be published by by Ad Hoc Fiction Hope you can come on Saturday,14th August, 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm BST to hear about three very different examples of the form and listen to readings from the authors, all successful in the 2021 Bath Flash Fiction, Novella in Flash Award judged by Michelle Elvy.
As well as readings, there will be break-out groups for you to chat with flash fiction friends from around the world and a book giveaway of each of the titles. To get a link for the event, email our host Jude Higgins, representing Ad Hoc Fiction at jude{at}adhocfiction{dot}com. Read in Full

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Interview with Sharon Telfer, 19th Award Judge

We’re delighted that writer and editor, Sharon Telfer is going to judge our 19th Bath Flash Fiction Award, which is open July 1st and closes October 9th. Sharon, has some brilliant and encouraging flash fiction writing advice here, as well as news about her forthcoming collection from Reflex Fiction, The Map Waits. Do read the interview and be inspired.

Sharon Telfer lives in East Yorkshire, in the north of England. She won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in June 2016 with ‘Terra Incognita’ and again in February 2020 with ‘Eight Spare Bullets’. She has also won the Reflex Flash Fiction Prize. Her flash has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2021, the 2020 and 2019 ‘BIFFY50’ lists, and Best Microfiction 2019. She was awarded the Word Factory/New Writing North Short Story Apprenticeship in 2018, and placed second in the Bath Short Story Award 2020. She also has a short story in Test Signal, an anthology of contemporary northern writing (Bloomsbury/Dead Ink, 2021). Her debut flash fiction collection, The Map Waits, is published by Reflex Press in 2021. She’s a founding editor of FlashBack Fiction, the online litmag showcasing historical flash. She tweets @sharontelfer and posts terrible photos on Instagram, @sharontelferwriter. Read in Full

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Round-Up, 18th Award.

Thank you to everyone who entered our 18th International Flash Fiction Award, the earlybirds, those in the middle period and the last minute writers. We received 1268 entries from 44 different countries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia

Read in Full

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Judge’s report, 18th Award, by K.M. Elkes

General Comments
Judging a story competition with a high standard of writing is a whole, twist-filled narrative in itself. There are beautiful moments of discovery, difficult decisions, inner wranglings, a love story or two, sadness over loss, and the inevitable questions, mysteries, and ambiguities.

Working your way from longlist to shortlist, you encounter risky, raw stories that promise to leave you changed; love-at-first-sight stories full of confident verve; ones that have an allure through their use of language; quietly persuasive stories, confident in their low-key power; there are stories to admire for their elegance and beauty, and ones that raise a smile with their quirky charm.

After a lot of deliberation, the narrative gathers pace and the climax nears when there are just 10 stories left. You sit with them. Take them on a walk. Gaze at them in silence. Read their words out loud, over and over. You study their deployment of craft – tone and voice, use of narrative tools, the way thematic ideas are conveyed, the pace and flow of the narrative, how well the ending has been earned. You find yourself, in cheesy parlance, asking: ‘is this story the best story it can be?’

Choosing the final group of winning and commended stories is when the tension of the judging narrative reaches its final, feverish pitch. The plot now becomes more complex, stories slide in and out of contention, some disappear then reappear stronger than before, some fade, some remain strong. The pervading tone of this denoument is tough love, and no little admiration, as final decisions are made.

And so, many congratulations to everyone who made it to right to the end of this particular story. Your work deserves it, after the difficult journey it has been on. Congratulations too, to those who missed out on final places – it’s often a case of fine margins. And if you were shortlisted or longlisted, take much strength from that and go again.

Finally, thank you to the whole Bath Flash Fiction Award team for their hard work and dedication and to Jude Higgins for trusting me to be the judge for this incarnation of the Award. Read in Full

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Leonie Rowland June 2021 Third Prize

Reasons You Married a Woman Called Rose

by Leonie Rowland

Please match the following numbers with the correct letter*

a. The love story

b. The proverb

c. The theories

d. The joke

e. The myth

f. The whole

1. Because when you were born, there were tides in the kitchen: boiling water gushing over abandoned pots, falling onto your mother where she lay on the floor, still trying to reach up and stir the pasta, worried it would come to pieces if she didn’t, that your life would start by falling apart. You moved from warm fluid to starchy water and then to hands careful with soap, scenting your skin, a velvet perfume. Your mother says the bubbles were pink, that you were laughing. You still adore the smell of roses.

2. Because you were burned as a baby / because you are lying / because the stars are eating themselves / because you are high on transgression / because you have a hysterical brain / because you hate your father / because you hate your mother / because no man wants you / because your body is craving / because you are split where it matters.

3. Because your breasts were always inadequate, and you deserved a second chance.

4. Because on your first date she made you pasta, and when the water splashed your skin, she kissed it away, took off your dress and folded it, made you realise you were whole before her, with her—all of this for hours, and nothing fell apart.

5. Because you found her at the mouth of a volcano, and the volcano sparked, and the mouth said: there are promises we must keep.

6. Because in this barren wilderness, there are still flowers.

*Answers are subject to change.

About the Author


Leonie Rowland lives in Manchester, where she completed an MA in Gothic Literature. Her debut chapbook, In Bed with Melon Bread, is available from Dreich, and she is Editor-in-Chief of The Hungry Ghost Project. She has recent work in Wrongdoing Magazine, Pareidolia Literary, The Walled City Journal, Sledgehammer Lit and Punk Noir Magazine, among others. You can visit her website or find her on Twitter @leonie_rowland.

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Inside Fictional Minds: Q & A with Dr Stephanie Carty

Dr Stephanie Carty is a writer, NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist and trainer with a qualification in teaching higher and professional education. Her fiction is widely published and has been shortlisted in competitions including the Bridport Prize, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Bristol Short Story Prize and Caterpillar Story for Children Prize. Her novella-in-flash Three Sisters of Stone won Best Novella in the Saboteur Awards. She is represented by Curtis Brown

We’re very excited that our small press Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing Stephanie Carty’s’s guide book Inside Fictional Minds, which is now available for pre-order from Ad Hoc Fiction at a 25% discount during the pre-order period and released on June 24th.

Below, Stephanie explains how the guide book came into being, what it contains and how to use it. Stephanie will also say more and answer questions in a mini ten minute spot at 2.30 pm BST on the next Great Festival Flash Off day, June 26th and Jude Higgins, representing Ad Hoc Fiction, is hosting a launch of the book on Zoom on Saturday, July 3rd from 8.15 pm – 9.15 pm BST.

At the launch, we will hear from Stephanie, Louise Ryder, psychotherapist and the artist who painted the beautiful cover. Also five writers of short and longer fiction: Rachael Dunlop; Neema Shah; Wiz Wharton; Sarah Moorhead and Melissa Fu who have all attended Stephanie’s Psychology of Character in Writing course and will read extracts from their works saying how they used her suggestions, also covered in her new guide, to deepen their characters.

Everyone is welcome to come to the launch – flash fiction writers, short story writers and novelists. And anyone else who is interested in learning more about this fascinating new book.
Email Jude {at} adhocfiction {dot} com asap for a link.

Q & A with Dr Stephanie Carty

  • You have been running your courses on the Psychology of Character in Writing for several years now and they have been very popular for writers of long and short fiction.
    Can you tell us more about what gave you the idea for devising these courses?
    It’s the perfect combination for me of applying what I’ve learnt as a clinical psychologist to my other love which is writing. What I’d noticed in some stories and novels was that lots of thought appeared to have gone into creating an interesting character with quirks, desires and emotional reactions but that sometimes their behaviours didn’t add up or a sudden change in them jarred as unrealistic. Once I started to run the Psychology of Character course, it was clear that many writers had not thought in depth about why their characters acted the way they did or what it would take to change their patterns. From the very first practice session, the feedback of how much of a difference it made to attendees to learn a little bit about some key components of how humans develop, act and grow encouraged me to continue.
  • The book is a complement to your face to face and online courses, but it is also something that writers can use separately from them. Can writers can dip in to, or is it something to work through from the beginning?
    What I love about the book is that it covers a wide range of ideas followed up by tasks to put ideas into practice so there should be something relevant for every writer and every story. I’m certain that people will use it according to their own style – some will want to read from cover to cover for an overview whereas others may already have in mind where their gap or uncertainty lies for a particular character. I’d actually recommend reading the whole book from start to finish without doing any of the tasks first. That will allow a writer to have a ready-made framework of how elements interact with one another. Then choices can be made about which sections to work on thoroughly using the questions posed to deepen understanding and bring the learning to life.
  • I think you have 48 exercises in all to try out in the book. What would expect writers to discover having completed them?
    There are actually 123 questions divided into 48 sets of tasks – far more than I’d expected there to be when I started to plan the book! To me, the active element of Inside Fictional Minds is crucial to its usefulness and sets it apart from some other resources that are more academic in format. The focus is on everyday behaviours,, emotions and unconscious mechanisms rather than extremes such as serial killers. So the tasks should lend themselves to any setting,, genre or length of story as people are people! I think one of the most interesting things for writers will be seeing how topics that may seem separate actually all impact on one another to create complex, interdependent factors that make their characters who they are..
    Several of the beta readers also stated that they learnt about themselves!

  • Can you say how thinking about character development is useful even for micro fiction?
    I think in very short fiction it can be a challenge to find room for character development. One method is to show your character’s defence mechanisms in action. In my upcoming short fiction collection The Peculiarities of Yearning, many pieces rely on a shift in an emotion or longing moving from unconscious to conscious awareness.. The character deals with this by a displaying a behaviour (defence mechanism) that aims to push this emotion or longing back down. If the defence works, you can have a tragic ending where the reader sees what’s missing even as the character denies it. If the defence doesn’t work and the hidden aspect breaks through, then the character has displayed some momentary insight or change. That’s ‘big enough’ for very short fiction and hints at greater development being possible outside of the story.
    My flash Cosmina Counts was awarded third prize in Bath Flash Fiction Award. As a standalone flash, I think it uses aspects covered in the book and gives glimpses into the internal world of a trafficked woman by demonstrating her defences, her longing that slips out, clues to her trauma and a return to her pushing the pain away with more defence mechanisms.
    Finally, very short fiction requires the writer to condense so much rather than spell things out. Each sentence is a chance to show the reader the world through the character’s ‘glasses’. Word choice and what is focused on versus what is omitted works really well in flash to demonstrate the character’s internal world, which I give some examples of in the book.
  • Can you tell us more about the the advantages for character relationships in novels and novellas?
    There is huge scope for character development in longer form writing. For example you can show the bumpy ride to change that is realistic rather than sudden revelations or change.. Realisations and beliefs are not equal to behaviour and personality change. There’s an ebb and flow to how we change. The book covers areas such as perfectionism, narcissim, social roles, being a people pleaser as well as a focus on the way that characters experience (and forbid) certain emotions and beliefs. Long form writing allows the character to dip their toe into alternatives, or ‘peel off the armour’ briefly as I explain in the book..
    My flash Cosmina Counts is actually a chapter from my second novel. I have the luxury over the course of an entire book to flip forward and back in time to account for Cosmina’s behaviours and then move her realistically from a mindset of revenge and isolation towards facing reality and accepting the help of others. Such a significant change could only work across multiple chapters because it’s human nature to resist our painful, hidden aspects coming to the surface. My longest chapter in Inside Fictional Minds focuses on change. Longer form provides the space to really delve and deliver without relying on so much interpretation of the reader. Working through the tasks in Inside Fictional Minds should provide a series of insights that although small on their own, can build into an overall picture of a deeply believable and developed character that resonates with readers.
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Pre-orders open for Echoes in a Hollow Space, by Ruth Skrine

    We’re delighted that Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing Echoes in a Hollow Space, a novella-in-flash from Ruth Skrine, Ruth turned to writing fiction in 1999 when she retired from her long career in the medical profession. She completed an MA in Bath Spa University and since then has published several novels and a memoir. In 2017, at the age of 87, she began writing flash fiction inspired by Ad Hoc Fiction’s weekly micro contest and a writing class on flash fiction run by Jude Higgins. Many of her micros were published in the weekly Ad Hoc Fiction ebook, and her flash fictions have been published in And We Pass Through, the 2019 NFFD anthology; Flashfrontier and Free Flash Fiction. In this Q & A with Jude, Ruth tells us more about the inspiration for her book and in advice for the older writer at the end says:

    All creative work is life-saving in old age. One is never too old

    Back and front cover. Picture of woodland with a hollow space, where title is placed Echoes in a Hollow Space is available at a discount of 25% for the preorder period and will be published on 31st May. It is also available for pre-order as an ebook on kindle and will also be available to buy as a large print format paperback from Amazon at the end of May. Read in Full

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Round- Up, 2021 Novella in Flash Award

Thank you to all those who entered our fifth yearly Novella-in-Flash Award. We received just over one hundred entries from around the world, about the same number as last year. It’s a difficult genre to write in, and we very much appreciated the range and variety within the entries both in style, setting and subject matter. There were many themes about relationships and family and also wider political issues and contemporary concerns. It was so enjoyable reading them and making the decisions, although hard, on which ones to include in the long list of twenty-five novellas. Michelle has written a wonderful report with comments on her process of selecting for the short list and choosing the winning novellas. We thank her very much for the extreme care she took over this process; many, many hours mulling over the choices for the shortlist and then choosing the three winners and two commended authors.

We love the novella-in-flash ‘genre’ at Bath Flash Fiction Award, and are so pleased that Ad Hoc Fiction is able to publish the entire short list of ten novellas this year. Many congratulations to all authors: our first prize winner, David Swann; our two runners up, Tom 0’Brien and Al Kratz; the two highly commended Hannah Sutherland and Sudha Balagopal and the five shortlisted authors; Michelle Christophorou, Debra Daniel, Tracy Fells, Jupiter Jones and Ali McGrane. You can read the biographies on our winners and shortlisted writers pages on this website and we will be publishing short interviews with them soon.

We are also much looking forward to seeing all these novellas in print to join 14 novellas-in-flash series already published by Ad Hoc Fiction since we ran the inaugural Award in 2017. Hopefully, the books all be available from Ad Hoc Fiction in paperback and from Amazon worldwide in paperback and digital versions by the end of this year or early next year. We will keep you posted.

The 2022 Novella in Flash Award will be open soon.

Jude Higgins
April 2021

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