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Nomination Time!

It's that time of year again and we're getting in our BestMicro Fiction and Pushcart Prize nominations at the last minute.

This year Best MicroFiction is just accepting micros from online publications/magazines not print anthologies so we are very happy to nominate four of the 2019 winners from the Ad Hoc Fiction weekly micro competitions. Congratulations and Best wishes to the authors of the four stories! You can read all of them on the Ad Hoc Fiction winners' pages (under Adhoc Fun).

Best Microfiction Nominations
'Booted' by Linda Grierson-Irish
'This is Why Grown-ups Buy Torches' by Richard Kemp
'The Night the Fishmonger's Van Reverses into the Youth Club Pop-Up Disco and Shifts Debbi''s World' by Louise Mangos
'Time Will Say Nothing But I told You So' by Alison Woodhouse

We've selected our limit of six Pushcart Prize Nominations from the three single-author collections our small press Ad Hoc Fiction, published this year: Finding A Way by Diane Simmons; All That is Between Us by K.M.Elkes and the everrumble by Michelle Elvy and the three first prize winners from our 2019 Bath Flash Fiction Awards. Congratulations and Best of luck to all six authors. You can buy the single author collections on the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop and on Kindle. And read the Bath Flash winners on this site on the winners' pages.

Pushcart Prize Nominations:
'Six Months Yesterday' by Diane Simmons
'The King of Throwaway Island' by K.M. Elkes
'Pressure Drop or: Sea World, August 1971, Part 2' by Michelle Elvy
'Candy Girls' by Christina Dalcher
'Cleft' by Gaynor Jones
'Angie' by Marissa Hoffmann

Nominations for Best Small Fictions coming later on

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Interview with Santino Prinzi, Judge for February 2020 Award

Santino Prinzi is a Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day in the UK, is one of the founding organisers of the annual Flash Fiction Festival, and is a Consulting Editor for New Flash Fiction Review. He writes flash fiction, prose poetry, and is currently working on a novel. His full-length flash fiction collection This Alone Could Save Us is forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction. His flash fiction pamphlet, There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This (2018), is available from V-Press, and his short flash collection, Dots and other flashes of perception (2016), is available from The Nottingham Review Press. His work has been selected for the Best Small Fictions 2019 anthology, and he has received nominations for the Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, the Best British and Irish Flash Fiction, and the Best Microfiction anthology. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Jellyfish Review, 100-Word Story, Bath Flash Fiction Award anthologies, National Flash Fiction Day anthologies, Reflex Fiction, and others. Twitter (@tinoprinzi)
Read in Full

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13th Award Round Up

Thank you to everyone who entered our 13th Award, regular entrants and new comers. We very much appreciate your support. It helps to create the buzz around flash fiction and we are sure, year by year, more people are writing and reading very short fiction. This time our entry numbers increased to 1180; stories received from forty one countries:

Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands,Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, France, Germany, Greece, HongKong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Senegal,Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden,Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.

We released our fifth badge for the 'fun' last minute club. Numbers of entrants going up to the wire did not disappoint. It was busier than ever. If some one can explain the psychology behind entering on the last day, please tell us. This time, the winner lives in Switzerland, the second prize winner lives in France, the third is from the UK, one of the commended pieces is by a northern Irish writer living in the USA and another is from a writer who lives in Australia. The flash fictions are all very powerful pieces and we are happy to publish them on this site for you to read and shortly in our year-end anthology, which will contain writers from the three longlists of the 2019 Awards who have accepted our publication offer.

Thank you very much to our intrepid band of initial readers who dedicate many hours of time reading through the entries and particularly on the last weekend when so many stories come in. And also thank you again to Nancy Stohlman, who read the longlist with such enthusiasm, and despite it being a very hard job to choose, selected the winners and commended pieces within in our fast turn around time and wrote interesting and insightful comments on the long and short lists and on the winning pieces.

The 2019 anthology will be launched in Bath in January/early February. Everyone listed in the three Awards who accepted their publication offer, will receive their free copy published by Ad Hoc Fiction by the end of the year.
Our next Award, judged by writer, editor and co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK, Santino Prinzi will open on November 1st 2019 and close on February 8th 2020.

We look forward to receiving your entries and reading many more great flash fictions.

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Interview with Debra A. Daniel, author of ‘The Roster’, highly commended in the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award, 2019

The Roster by Debra A. Daniel was published in June this year and launched in the UK at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol. Our 2019 judge, Michael Loveday, had this to say about the novella:

This "ensemble cast” novella has a fresh and original concept — a sequence of stories about a teacher’s pupils at a school, more or less one story for each pupil. The students’ eccentricities, rebelliousness and vulnerabilities are depicted with warmth, fondness, and very often, an absolutely heart-breaking poignancy, as in the case of the child with brittle bones, or the young boy grieving his sister. There is black humour too, in places, and endings that are intensely lyrical. The characterisations are superbly individualised, vivid, inventive and memorable, and are written with beautiful variety of expression. A novella-in-flash of immense charm that has real emotional substance.

Debra has also launched the novella in the US now. The pictures in this post are taken at one of her launches and we're thrilled that her husband, song writer Jack McGregor, recorded three songs based on characters within the book, which you can listen to here, on sound cloud.https://soundcloud.com/jmcgregor/sets/the-roster You can buy the novella directly in paperback in several different currencies from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop.Our 2020 Novella Award is open for entries now until mid January 2020. Read Debra's excellent tips on writing one at the end of this interview with her. Read in Full

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‘All That Is Between Us’, Interview with author, K. M. Elkes

We're holding the Bath launch of All That Is Between Us by K. M. Elkes on 28th September, 7.30 pm - 10.00 pm, at St James' Wine Vaults in Bath at our celebration evening of flash fiction readings. It is a wonderful collection which was first launched into the world at The Flash Fiction Festival at the end of June this year. It's interesting to hear how Ken put the book together and what he says about his own writing style. And the picture below shows Ken's selfie in front of a happy festival crowd. We looking forward to hearing more stories from the book at the readings in Bath so do come. And you can read more about the collection here in a previous post and buy from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop.

    Interview – K.M. Elkes
  • Writers are always interested in how authors decide on the sequence of the fictions in a collection. Will you tell us how you arrived at yours?
    I could say I spent sleepless nights poring over a moveable patchwork of story titles, scrawled onto old envelopes and bits of crumpled paper, furniture pushed back to the walls, neglected mugs of tea on every surface, working out a sequence that would carry the reader aloft through the whole book. But that would be pure fiction.
    In truth, as with my writing, the sequencing was mostly instinctive – finding stories that spooned together like lovers or created syncopation through a sudden change of style or length. Juxtaposing stories that had bounce and urgency in the language, with those that were more dense and required more input from the reader.
    A few pieces were more deliberately placed because there are subtle, hazy story arcs in the collection, with the same characters recurring in different sections of the book.
    I wish I could offer some practical advice to anyone putting a collection together, but the simple truth is that unless the structure of the book relies on certain stories being in certain places then sequencing is more art than science. The best I can say is start with some good ones, then go with your gut.

Read in Full

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Flash Fiction Book Launch and Celebration Readings

Come along to the Bath book launch of All That is Between Us, the highly acclaimed debut flash fiction collection by K.M. Elkes published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June, 2019. There will be additional readings from writers who are members of the 2019 Flash Fiction Festival Team, the weekend volunteer group and the festival presenters.

Venue: St James Wine Vaults, 10 St James Street, Bath, BA1 2TW
Date and Time: Saturday 28th September, 7.30 - 10.00 pm.

Free Entry. Plus free wine and nibbles. Late Bar. Books for sale with cash or by card.

As well celebrating Ken's new book, the evening is also a celebration of several recent successes from Bath Flash Fiction and Ad Hoc Fiction:
In May, Finding A Way the flash fiction collection by Diane Simmons, which Ad Hoc Fiction published in February this year was short listed in the short story category of the 2019 Saboteur Awards; Flash Fiction Festival 2018 was short listed in the Literary Festival category of the 2019 Saboteur Awards; in mid June, Ad Hoc Fiction won the publisher category of the 2019 Creative Bath Awards and in late June, the third annual Flash Fiction Festival which is sponsored primarily by Bath Flash Fiction and Ad Hoc Fiction was held in Bristol and was a great success.

K. M. Elkes who is also a Flash Fiction Festival Team Member will begin the evening with readings from his book and we will also hear flash fictions from Jude Higgins, Diane Simmons, Santino Prinzi, Alison Woodhouse, John Wheway, Grace Palmer and Carrie Etter. We're hoping that Michael Loveday will also be able to join us.

Hope to see you there.

All That Is Between Us by K.M. Elkes and Finding A Way are available to buy in paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop or in digital formats on Kindle.

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Review by Marissa Hoffmann of ‘the everrumble’ by Michelle Elvy

Michelle Elvy's small-novel-in-small-forms, the everrumble was published by our Award Winning Press Ad Hoc Fiction on 22nd June this year and launched at NFFD New Zealand on that day and a week later at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol, UK. It is an extraordinary book and has received great advanced acclaim from Christopher Allen, who introduced it at the festival, Robert Scotellaro, Tracy Slaughter and Catherine McNamara. the everrumble is currently longlisted for the Not-The-Booker-Prize at the Guardian Newspaper in the UK. If you would like to support a great small novel reaching a larger audience, please vote here for her book by August 5th. You have to make a comment on the book and nominate another one by a different publisher. You can buy the everrumble in paperback in several different currencies for posting worldwide from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop or in digital format as a Kindle book, via Amazon. Michelle is doing a reading tour of her book in the USA in August and September and following that in New Zealand and Europe. We recommend it as a ground-breaking book and thank Marissa Hoffmann, a writer based in Switzerland, who came to the flash fiction festival this year, for reviewing the novel below.

Review by Marissa Hoffmann

the everrumble is a journey into the senses with protagonist Zettie who, aged seven, stops talking and finds the world becomes louder with the smaller sounds. So acute is her hearing that Zettie—in love with life—painfully aware of the cruelty of man—finds solace in her connection to the world through living sounds; heartbeats, whale cries, a language in the roots of the trees, or a mosquito several houses down the street. Zettie spends a lifetime learning how to control the cacophony.

In the opening story entitled 'Dark and Shadow', we first meet Zettie as a small girl finding a small space in a sensory world, "Zettie has curled herself so tight she can’t feel the fissures anymore; she’s smooth like a marble, no sharp edges. Under the woolly cover, she hears her own breath and nothing else. The blanket is blue and green, with streaks of orange (papaya, really) and yellow (mango really) and a deep red: primeval soil"

Because each story is so rich with colour and texture, with temperature and taste, the exquisite language carries the reader musically, poetically, nourishingly closer to Zettie, leaving us unable to respond with anything other than love for her.

All of Elvy’s stories use Zettie’s experience of sound and space, her primal connection to nature as a way for the reader to understand how Zettie makes sense of the world. A particular favourite story of mine deals with the question of why she is silent, simply with the answer—and the story’s title—'Because'.

The collection reads like a snakes-and-ladders journey, jumping forwards and backwards through Zettie’s whole life and sliding into her dreams along the way. We come to know Zettie’s small world and her sense of the whole world all at once. Playful Zettie names individual bees, curious Zettie travels and finds love—always searching for the 'everrumble'—and the contented elderly Zettie joyfully embraces her metaphysical investigation into time and truth through sound and stories, phrases and languages.

The structure of the everrumble is supported with markers of time and space. Book notes, made by Zettie, begin each story offering poignant extracts that hold truths for her, quotes she takes guidance from. Elvy has expertly placed a heartbeat of historical moments pulsing throughout the stories that serve to contextualise Zettie’s conflicts and responses. Carefully chosen moments provide the geography of Zettie’s travels by sea and land for example when she shares the first time she sees an elephant or when she tenderly holds a dying child for the crying parents.

We find ourselves slowing our own hearts to listen and appreciate. Although Zettie’s relationships as a daughter, friend, a lover, a mother maybe without voice, they are filled with laughter, with warmth and with shared understanding. Everrumble asks ‘have you ever heard the sleep of a child? It is the colour of soft melon, the smell of freshly moan grass’. That sound, a sleeping child, we know the beauty in that, it’s a physical experience, just as the book is. the everrumble is a whisper and a roar.
Marissa Hoffmann, July, 2019.

Marissa Hoffmann's flash has been awarded highly commended at FlashBack Fiction and short listed at the Bath Flash Fiction Award and Flash Frontier’s 'Micro Madness' contest. She is an Ad Hoc Fiction winner and has stories at Milk Candy Review, Bending Genres, Paragraph Planet, The Drabble and Reflex Fiction. Marissa has flash forthcoming at Citron Review and StorgyKids and is a fiction reader at Atticus Review. She tweets @hoffmannwriter.

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Top Tips For Writing A Novella-in-Flash by Michael Loveday, 2020 Novella judge

Michael Loveday judged our 2019 Novella in Flash Award and he is pictured here at a panel about this exciting form at the recent Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol, with from left to right, Charmaine Wilkerson, winner of the inaugural Award in 2017, with How To Make A Window Snake, which later won the 2018 Saboteur Awards for a novella, Johanna Robinson, who wrote the historical novella Homing, a runner up in the 2019 Award and Ellie Walsh who is reading from her first-prize winning novella in the 2019 Award, Birds With Horse Hearts and Meg Pokrass, the judge of our 2017 and 2018 Awards.

Michael judged our 2019 Award and he thought the winning novellas were very impressive. You can read his judge's report here. And we're happy that Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing the three winning and the three commended novellas this year.
In our interview with him last year, we asked what he thought the main pitfalls in writing a novella-in-flash were and here he's updated his answer and given his top three tips after assessing manuscripts from the 2019 Award, which were often very good, but didn't quite work as a whole.

He says, overall the most common manuscript problems were as follows - 

(1) Lack of a Thread - Some manuscripts (including some with really outstanding individual flashes) just didn’t link up enough. As you write your novella, it’s worth continually thinking: what’s the thread, what’s the centre?

Ask yourself: 
(a)  Will it be clear whose story it is or who the central characters are? 
(b) If not, will it be clear what the central plot event is / events are? 
(c) If not, will it be clear to the reader what the setting / location is that links the material? 
(d) If not, will it be really, really clear to the reader which tightly focused, controlling theme or motif is filtering all the stories in your novella? 

If the answer is ‘no’ to all four questions, then it’s likely to mean you have a collection of flashes on your hands – more of a miscellany or story collection than a novella.    

(2) Ensemble Casts - It's important to maintain good control of your cast of characters. Having lots of different protagonists is risky, unless they’re linked by location, or a set of central, shared events, or a tightly focused theme. Ask yourself, what’s keeping this novella in balance and focus? Am I letting some characters dominate fleetingly then disappear? Will it be apparent who’s speaking or who an unnamed third person protagonist is in any given story? (At the very least, enough clues should accumulate in the various characterisations for the reader to realise in hindsight when they look back over a novella. A process of delayed revelation is perfectly fine.)  Also, if you have dozens of named secondary characters, have you obscured the sense of any centre to the novella? 

(3) Timelines – If your novella has a very varied or complex chronology, it can be difficult to get it right. You might need to look hard at your timeline to make sure it’s, in the end, not confusing or too convoluted to follow. This includes thinking carefully about any large or unexplained leaps in time, or any back and forth between multiple “eras” in your story that might be obscured from the reader’s understanding. One option is to include years / months / dates in the headings of your flashes, if it’s a really complex timeline, though this may not suit all novellas. Other devices include using different tenses, different points of view, or adopting other creative devices (such as italics vs. ordinary font) to help readers orient themselves between different “eras” within your novella. For example, Michelle Elvy’s coming-of-age story the everrumble mixes up its chronology into haphazard order but states the protagonist’s age with the title of most chapters, thereby offering the reader a foothold into the underlying sequence of things.

As a final piece of advice, do maintain your patience in the process of compiling your novella! It almost inevitably will feel a bit fragmented, and maybe even a little confusing, as you try to work out how to connect the individual flashes. You may have to write a lot of material that doesn’t actually fit the final manuscript.
Don’t lose your nerve in the face of all this. It’s part of the process, and what makes the novella-in-flash such a magical and rewarding thing to write, and for readers then to read.
Previously published examples from past years of the competition can give you ideas of what’s possible. But these published examples hide the messy processes of their own creation – there may be a long, ungainly “caterpillar” phase while a novella is developed. And you should also feel encouraged to create something entirely new, not previously attempted.
For writers, I’m convinced there really is nothing like writing a novella-in-flash, in terms of how fulfilling a challenge it is to take on and resolve. It’s a very very special form.

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