Saboteur Award Shortlistings!

It's amazing that we are shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards in five categories this year! Ad Hoc Fiction in The Most Innovative Publisher category, the Flash Fiction Festival in the Best Literary Festival category and the four books described below in the Best Anthology, Best Novella and Best Short Story Collection categories. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us. We are very excited by all this emphasis on flash fiction in the Saboteur Awards. And if you love flash, the festival and these books, we'd be delighted if you could vote again for them to win.

It is a first for us to have a Bath Flash Fiction Anthology in the shortlist for the Best Anthologuy. In previous years we have made the longlist. We love the title With One Eye On The Cows and the cover of this our fourth Bath Flash anthology. And the stories within are stunning. 135 micros from world wide authors. You can see the gallery of where the author copies were posted to here. And here's a review of it by writer Judy Darley. Read in Full

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Ad Hoc Fiction Innovation

We're thrilled that Ad Hoc Fiction, our small independent press, is shortlisted for the Best Innovative Publisher category in the Saboteur Awards, 2020. As a fun innovation to divert herself during lockdown, Ad Hoc Fiction Director, Jude Higgins has been 'dressing-up-to-go-nowhere' in outfits that colour co-ordinate with all our books.
The gallery of 16 days of photos below showcase the books. And Jude added a 'bonus' picture with colours showing the Ad Hoc Logo when we learned we'd been shortlisted.

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Ad Hoc Fiction plans to publish eight more novellas in flash this year, a Bath Flash Fiction Vol 4, a further single author collection by UK author Santino Prinzi and another one in the pipe line. And a first, a craft book, by Nancy Stholman. The Corona Virus has slowed down the publishing date for these. But everything else is operating normally. It is still possible to buy books directly from our bookshop
This Saboteur Award shortlisting is a wonderful recognition of our work. We concentrate on publishing high quality short fiction available to buy directly in paper back copies from our online bookshop. And many books are also for sale as ebooks via Kindle or Kobo. All twenty books we have published are pictured here. In 2019 Ad Hoc Fiction published six Flash Fiction Novellas,'one small novel in small forms' by writers from the UK, USA and New Zealand, two single author flash fiction collections from UK writers and two anthologies, one containing micros from over 130 authors successful in the 2019 Bath Flash Fiction Awards and one containing over 80 micros from participants at the Flash Fiction Festival, UK. Last year, Ad Hoc Fiction won Best Publisher in the Creative Bath Awards, but this shortlisting is a wider recognition. And we are very excited. So thank you to all who voted for us to get to this stage and I hope you will vote for us again.

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2020 Novella-in-Flash winners

Many congratulations and more details below about our 2020 winner, Mary-Jane Holmes from the UK (who is also the judge for our June 2020 single-flash Award!) and the two runners-up, Tracey Slaughter from New Zealand and Erica Plouffe-Lazure from the USA.
Read judge Michael Loveday's report on their brilliantly written novellas-in-flash to find out a brief synopsis of each of them, and his comments.They are all very different and it is wonderful to have such variety among the winners and the special commended novellas. We hope that all three of these winning novellas will be published later this year and we are so looking forward to seeing them in print.

First Prize Don't Tell The Bees by Mary-Jane Holmes
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. Her flash fiction 'Flock' was recently selected for Best Small Fictions, 2020.

Runner Up: If There is No Shelter by Tracey Slaughter
Tracey Slaughter is a poet and fiction writer from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her latest works are the volume of short stories deleted scenes for lovers (Victoria University Press, 2016) and the poetry collection Conventional Weapons (Victoria University Press, 2019). Her work has received numerous awards including the 2020 Fish Short Story Prize, second place in The Moth Short Story Prize 2018, the Bridport Prize 2014, and two Katherine Mansfield Awards. She lives in Hamilton, and teaches Creative Writing at Waikato University, where she edits the literary journals Mayhem and Poetry New Zealand.

Runner-Up: Sugar Mountain by Erica Plouffe Lazure
Erica Plouffe Lazure is the author of a flash fiction chapbook, Heard Around Town, and a fiction chapbook, Dry Dock. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Carve, Greensboro Review, Meridian, American Short Fiction, The Journal of Micro Literature, The Common's "Dispatches" series, The Southeast Review, Fiction Southeast, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), Vestal Review, Wigleaf, Monkeybicycle, National Flash Fiction Day Anthology (UK), Litro (UK), and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Exeter, New Hampshire, USA.

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2020 Special Commendation Novellas-in-flash

The standard was very high in the 2020 Novella in Flash Award judged by Michael Loveday and he chose five novellas as special commendations, which as well as the three winners, will also be published by Ad Hoc Fiction later this year.You can read comments on all the five novellas in Michaels' report. They, like the winners provide an amazing range and interpretation of the form. We are very happy that we are going to see them in print to add to our growing collections of novellas-in-flash available from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop. Many congratulations to all.

Elvis In The Backyard by Nicholas Cook (from the USA)

Nicholas Cook’s fiction has appeared in Lost Balloon, Jellyfish Review, Midway Journal, Bath Flash Fiction Award, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for Best Small Fictions 2018. He lives in Texas.

When It's Not Called Making Love by Karen Jones (from the UK)
Karen Jones is a prose writer from Glasgow with a preference for flash and short fiction. She is addicted to writing competitions and is a perennial long/short-lister – Commonwealth Short Story Competition, Bath Flash Fiction, Bath Short Story, To Hull and Back, TSS 400, HISSAC– though she has reached the prize-winning stage with Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam, Ink Tears and Ad Hoc Fiction. Her work is published in numerous ezines, magazines and anthologies. Her story 'Small Mercies' was nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize and is included in Best Small Fictions 2019 and the BIFFY50 2019. She is an editor for the BIFFY50 2020.

Tears in the Paku Paku by Eleanor Walsh (from the UK)
Eleanor Walsh has BA from the University of Chichester / Thompson Rivers University (CA), an MA from Bath Spa University, and a PhD from the University of Plymouth, where she researched feminist literature in Nepal. Ellie has had short fiction, poetry, and travel writing published in journals in Canada, the UK and South Asia. She also wrote a play called A Patient Drug which was produced at Royal Holloway University. Her novella-in-flash Birds with Horse Hearts won the 2019 Bath Flash Fiction award. Ellie was also an Associate Editor for the journal Coldnoon Travel Poetics, where she wrote a column on South Asian literature.

Something Lost by Louise Watts (from the UK)
Louise Watts lives in Oxfordshire and works in education. She has published fiction in Ambit Magazine, Flash: An International Journal of Short Short Fiction, Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology and has been shortlisted in the Fish Memoir competition. Her poetry has been published in Raceme, highly commended in the Mslexia Pamphlet competition, shortlisted for The Plough short poem prize, and long-listed in the Poetry Society National Competition. Louise studied English at Cambridge University and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford University.

The House On The Corner by Alison Woodhouse (from the UK)
Alison Woodhouse is a writer, teacher and a member of the Bath Short Story Award team. She completed an MA with distinction from Bath Spa University in 2019. During the same year she won both the HISSAC short story and flash fiction competition, Hastings Flash, Farnham Flash and NFFD micro. She has also won Biffy50, Limnisa Short Story, Mattermagazine Flash and Ad Hoc Fiction twice and was highly commended in Vernal Equinox Flash, Furious Fiction and Ilkley short story competitions. She has been short and long listed in Scottish Arts Club, Bare Fiction, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Reflex Fiction, TSS, The London Magazine, Retreat West, Mslexia and Words in Jam. Her stories are published in Leicester Writes, Cambridge Short Story Anthology, Reflex Fiction, Ellipsis Vols 3 and 5, NFFD Anthology, Earlyworks and Bath Flash Fiction Anthology, Vol 4.. Many other stories are available online.

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Vote for us in the Saboteur Awards, 2020

Will you join us voting for some of our Ad Hoc Fiction published authors in the Saboteur Awards 2020? And we'd love votes for our other projects too. We are so happy that Saboteur secured Arts Council Funding for another year. It is such a brilliant thing they do. And there's nothing like a nomination for cheering up authors and organisers. And cheering up these days is definitely required.
Voting for the first round to find the short list is open now and finishes on April 6th.
If you have read and loved some of our books listed below or attended and enjoyed the Flash Fiction Festival last year in Bristol,here are some options for you:
Best Short Story Collection: K.M. Elkes', sparkling and acclaimed collection of flash fiction, All That Is Between Us. Published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June, 2020

Best Literary Festival: Vote for our Flash Fiction Festival UK, 2019, which took place in Bristol in June 2019. It was such wonderful occasion with around 120 enthusiasts, (some pictured below) of flash fiction coming from all over the world to write and learn more about flash fiction as well as meeting friends, making new ones and having fun. It is the only festival of its kind totally dedicated to flash fiction. And possibly the only literary festival that has karaoke in the evenings!

Best Novella: We published six amazing novellas-in-flash this year, winners and highly commended from the 2019 Bath Flash Fiction novella-in-flash Award. For this UK based Award, we are asking you to support one of our UK based authors. Either Birds With Horse Hearts by Eleanor Walsh who is based in Cornwall or Homing by Johanna Robinson, from the North of England. Both published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June, 2019.

Most Innovative Publisher We would love it if you voted for Ad Hoc Fiction,our small press that focuses on publishing short short fiction. In 2019 our tiny,tiny team (basically one person doing all the layup and design) published 12 new books: 6 novellas-in-flash; two single author collections; two anthologies of flash fiction and one of short fiction; and one 'small novel in small forms. Ad Hoc Fiction also found time in 2019 to continue publishing a weekly ebook from their micro competition. Truly flying the flag for flash fiction!

Best anthology: We think Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 4,With One Eye On The Cows is a cracker. 135 excellent and varied micro fictions from world-wide authors, published by Ad Hoc Fiction in November, 2019.

Switzerland based Louise Mangos own artwork plus her anthology

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Sharon Telfer February 2020 First Prize

Eight spare bullets

by Sharon Telfer

The front windows refuse to shut. The house droops, as after a stroke.
They drink in the kitchen. Under the slanting floor, they catch the trickle of thaw.

Everything here is the northernmost. Town, church, store, pub. The last.
She replays her field recording, bowhead whales, all booming fuzz and feedback.
“Harmonics!” Erik applauds. “That’s freeform jazz.”
The last blues festival.

He softens in her mouth. It’s okay, she whispers, though it’s not. She’ll be gone six weeks.
From the boat, she had watched an iceberg tumble, head over heels, like a clumsy toddler. Not playing, but dying.
Erik kisses her, has to go. Husky safari, tomorrow’s fresh batch of tourists.
He kisses his dogs too. Erik loves his dogs.

Everything slides. The wooden stilts sink beneath the houses. A landslip buries the play park. The ground heaves the dead from their graves, sends coffins tobogganing down the road.
She wakes. Remembers. Not a dream. Last summer.

Her breath freezes in her nostrils.
Reindeer antlers heap by the roadside. They gleam in her torchlight, like bleached coral.

Time loses its way in the permanent dark. The once-white mountain looms black. Deep below, one million seeds – a world’s worth – lie buried. They called it the doomsday vault, fast as a dragon’s hoard. Nine years after opening, meltwater has already flooded in.

Beware of polar bears.
A mother and cubs wandered down this street, past the last post office, the last chocolaterie.
If you leave town, you must take a gun and eight spare bullets.

The plane spins her back into sunrise.
She thumbs up a clip. Erik dancing with his dogs, a circling, shuffling waltz.
At the northernmost, there are more polar bears than people. If you meet a bear, pull back quietly.

About the Author

Sharon Telfer won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in June 2016 with her story, ‘Terra Incognita’, and was commended in the February 2019 round. She has also won the Reflex Flash Fiction Prize (June 2018). Her stories were selected for the 2019 ‘BIFFY50’ and Best Microfiction 2019. She lives near York and was the New Writing North/Word Factory Northern Short Story Apprentice in 2018. She is an editor at FlashBack Fiction. She tweets @sharontelfer.

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Simon Cowdroy February 2020 Second Prize

The Dissolution Of Peter McCaffrey

by Simon Cowdroy

Heat-ravaged rivets explode off the corrugated iron roof of our milking shed like corks from shaken champagne bottles.

A long drought wind scalds in from the north and the thermometer leaves 50 behind as pitiless gusts scour every nook of the farm. No easy pickings to be found; all that could be taken is long gone.

Dad wasn’t a man you made a promise to lightly, his plea for me to stay burdened with the heft of eight generations. I crane my neck, spot his cross, remember the soil being so unyielding we used up all our dynamite. Not enough time or faith left over for funerals, so his pension cheque still ghosts in.

I lost Annie to the highway a week back. No goodbyes, only the midnight creak of our front door, the bloom of liberated fuel as her car engine fired.

Well rid of her two-faced grace, the lies that fell from those blue eyes as acid rain, but I can’t seem to shake that afternoon before she left. The brutal whisper of, ‘Pete, we’re in this together’, as my tired, fractured head folded into her shoulder.

Joe at the Co-Op rings. The water tankers aren’t coming. He chews my ear about it being the start of Australia’s climate change but sure feels to me like we’re already at the end of everything.

Three hundred cattle are all that remain and I’ve enough feed to get half through next week. The cull is almost a familiar dance now. I never remember grabbing my gun; never forget to keep a bullet in the chamber after it’s done.

I’m not a brave man, and if soft bovine eyes ever boiled over in accusation it would unbind me. Turns out, their gratitude is what keeps me awake.

About the Author

Simon lives as part of a dog dominated family in the Yarra Valley near Melbourne, Australia. He returned to fiction in 2017 after a long absence and in 2018 two of his initial pieces of Flash Fiction were published in Bath Anthology Three (one of which was commended).In 2019 he joined @VirtualZine as editor/reader and can also be found tweeting away at @virtwriting (#VWG).
His first crime novel,Cut of a Knife, was a Pitch Perfect finalist at Bloody Scotland in 2018. Described by a reviewer as ‘Dark, disturbing but startlingly humane’ this novel is currently out in the world looking for a home. His hobbies include writing, reading, the art of Caravaggio, lifting heavy objects and awful puns.

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Christina Dalcher February 2020 Third Prize


by Christina Dalcher

And she rides.

She prances the beast sideways, backwards, up, down, feet in the air, falling, balancing, tumbling, perfect circles carved on the red dirt of Spain. Ten years, twelve years, fourteen. Fly a thousand miles from home. Fly south, jump left, skip right. One, two, three. Uno, dos, tres. Één, twee, drie.

And they watch.

Pay your thirty euros; see the Andalusian horses dance. Piaffe, pirouette, travers. Impossible, unnatural gymnastics. Watch the braids in their manes and the flowers in their tails. Watch the girl, ten years, twelve years, fourteen. Watch her fly one last time.

And he bucks.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him dance. Because a beast is a beast, mare or stallion, Arabian or Andalusian. To its ears, Ravel and Offenbach and Sousa make noise, not music. Once a day, twice on Thursday, thunderclap roars of olé-bravo-jolly good show. So tired. Weary of spurs and bits and reins and weight.

And she breaks.

She breaks in the middle and at the ends, bones flattening, nerves singing. She breaks sideways and backwards, young flesh sinking into old earth. She dreams a dream of gold, silver, bronze. She wakes.

And they gasp.

Pobrecita-poor dear-die arme-shame-tragedia-so young. Dangerous beast-willful-cattivo-too green. Mobiles ping as news travels. This is Thursday. Next show at three o’clock.

And she mends.

At the sea, she sits, legs bound in plaster, braids in her hair. She sees the wild ponies lope and trot and gallop. Sees their manes free of flowers, sees their legs naked of wraps. Riderless, they fly to the rhythm of wind and waves, When they come to nuzzle her wounds, she wonders, Who is the trainer, and who is the trainee?

About the Author

Christina Dalcher is a linguist, novelist, and flash fiction addict from Somewhere in the American South. She is also the sole matriculant in the Read Every Word by Stephen King MFA program (which she invented). Find her sometimes-prize-winning work in The Molotov Cocktail, Whiskey Paper, and New South Journal, among others. If you’re looking for Christina, she might be here: @CVDalcher,, or hiding in a closet re-reading a tattered copy of The Shining. Also, she made a book called VOX and another one called Q (Master Class in the US).

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Remi Skytterstad February 2020 Commended

[No Audible Dialogue]

by Remi Skytterstad

The commotion and clamour of the airport is deafening. We are turned to lip-readers by the pack of people and their cacophonic humming composed and orchestrated by a medley of goodbyes / stay safes / I love yous.

Like a ray of sunshine through a patchy carpet of clouds, is our attention drawn to a child / boy / son. The crowd of the airport manoeuvring around him—a crop circle of bodies—in unobtrusive / comfortable / safe distances.

The child is fighting tears. His bottom-lip quivers, and it’s apparent he’s trying to be brave / strong / a big boy.

He is embraced by a man / soldier / father. Together they ripple like a wave when he breathes in his son’s hair, to treasure / remember / survive. And for a moment time slows inside their circle. The crowds bend past them like light around a black hole—a time lapse of bodies, around their sculpturesque scene. The quivering lips—now still—are stretched from cheek to cheek, in a frozen, soundless cry, revealing gritted milky teeth.

Like this we watch them, as the crowds pour and murmur around them, like a river around an islet.

A woman breaks their event horizon, and the boy and the man come alive again.

The son is nodding to the movement of the father’s lips. He straightens his back and wipes away the tears that forced themselves through—his skin darkened in their wake. He moves his mouth in whys / do you have tos / please don’ts.

When the man / soldier stands, he leaves—like the shed skin of a snake—the father around the neck of the son. A translucent outline of a man, only hinting at who used to hold the boy.

The boy is embraced by a woman / mother / widow.

About the Author

Remi Skytterstad is from Norway where he studies educational science. He writes in English as a second language. He is currently in recent issues of Barren Magazine, Flashback Fiction, and Lunate. Find him on Twitter @Skytterstad.

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