The Best Small Fictions 2020 Nominations

Each year, we nominate the full quota of five flash fictions for the prestigious The Best Small Fictions anthology from our winners selected by judges in our thrice-yearly Awards. For 2020 we are delighted to nominate 'Candy Girls' by Christina Dalcher, the first prize winner chosen by our February 2019 judge, Vanessa Gebbie, 'Cleft' by Gaynor Jones, the first-prize winner chosen by our June 2019 judge, Christopher Allen, 'Angie' By Marissa Hoffmann, the first prize winner chosen by our October 2019 judge, Nancy Stohlman, 'The Wild West' by Francis McCrickard second prize winner chosen by Nancy Stohlman from the October 2019 Award and 'Snow Falling Upwards' by Fiona J Mackintosh, chosen by Vanessa Gebbie from the February Award. All stories as well as being published online on this site are also published in With One Eye On The Cows our own yearly anthology, now published by Ad Hoc Fiction, which will be launched in Bath,Saturday, 8th February and is available to buy from our Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop

It's also a privilege to be able to nominate five winners from our sister Award, the Ad Hoc Fiction micro contest from the winners voted for by the public in 2019 and published on the winners' pages of Ad Hoc Fiction. We have chosen, 'A Mad Max World' by Syliva Petter, 'Time Will Say Nothing But I told You So' by Alison Woodhouse, 'Lunch at Luigi's' by Linda Grierson-Irish, 'Push' by Henry Barnes and 'White Noise Playlists at St Bernadine Medical Center' by Charles Duffie.

Best wishes to all our nominees. We love all your stories! The Best Small Fictions 2019 is published now. It's a beautiful book and we are thrilled one of our last year nominees, Fiona J Mackintosh has her first prize winning story, 'Siren', published within it.

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2019 Flash Fiction Highlights

Thank you so much to everyone in the world-wide flash fiction community who supported all our enterprises in 2019 and helped them thrive. It's really been a great year for Bath Flash Fiction. We ran three more successful single flash fiction awards, our third novella-in- flash award, our third Flash Fiction Festival, hosted several reading events and Ad Hoc Fiction, our fantastic short-short press, published twelve new flash fiction books pictured above, which are all available to buy from the online bookshop in several different currencies. And, in a first for Ad Hoc Fiction, the everrumble by New Zealand based author, Michelle Elvy first published in the UK in June, 2019 and launched at the Flash Fiction Festival, is now published and available to buy in New Zealand. More details on our year-in-flash below:
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Interview with Dan Crawley, author of the novella-in-flash, ‘Straight Down The Road’

Straight Down The Road , Dan Crawley's novella-in-flash, highly commended in the 2019 Novella in Flash Award by judge Michael Loveday, was published by Ad Hoc Fiction a few week's back and is available to buy in several different currencies on the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop.

This is what Michael wrote about Dan's wonderful evocative novella: "As if it were some rediscovered Raymond Carver manuscript, this is a classic novella-in-flash in the mainstream American tradition. A working class family try to keep themselves afloat, travelling the country by car after the father quits his job. The writing is warmly affectionate towards the characters although they’re flawed. There’s an appealing, breezy, summery quality even though real tension bubbles up – it feels like an authentic family dynamic. Some bond of grudging love keeps this family together, when they’re stretched to breaking point. Each flash has the clarity of a distinct memory – like each one might be a family legend. A vivid and highly effective novella-in-flash."

In our interview below, Dan tells us more about writing his novella, gives some tips to those who are finalising novellas for the 2020 Award which closes in mid January 2020 and describes his day to day writing process, his current projects and who he might cast in a movie of 'Straight Down The Road'. We'd love to see a movie of this story!

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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 Marissa Hoffman, First Prize Winner October, 2019

  • Can you tell us what inspired your powerful and moving winning story, 'Angie'?
    Early in my career I worked on a project for the United Nations Refugee Council (UNHCR) where I spent time with people who were variously labelled but who shared the same predicament, they could no longer stay where they had always called home, they had no choice but to leave. They made huge sacrifices, travelled in danger and arrived unwelcome. The images of Angie Valeria and her father made real people of the word ‘migrant’ and I wanted to do the same using flash fiction.
  • You mentioned on Twitter, that his piece began in a 'Fast Flash' online course with Kathy Fish and you worked on it for a long time afterwards. Can you tell us how it progressed from your first draft?

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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)
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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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October 2019, Judge’s Report, Nancy Stohlman

Thank you to Nancy Stohlman for judging our 13th Award and for all her comments on the longlist, shortlist and winners.
Long List:
From lush description to plot surprises to current events and complicated relationships of all kinds, every story on the long list had some memorable and intriguing quality. Some looked backwards, some looked forwards. There were themes that were visited and re-visited from various angles and through various doors. There was also a wide variety in everything from subject to style to form — a wonderful cross section of flash fiction. The one commonality was seriousness, a predilection to drama over comedy. But choosing from such high quality work was not an easy endeavor — really great work, flash community!
 
Short List:
I wasn’t looking for a particular kind of story, but I noticed in the shortlist of twenty that I chose many stories that were straightforward and active—happening now as opposed to constructed through memory. I was also enjoying language that didn’t call attention to itself, language that felt like more than ornamentation and seemed to perfectly serve the story without breaking tension. Endings were often the deal breaker — if it came down to two stories, it was the one with a powerful ending that would often make the difference. And finally I paid attention to that intangible quality of resonance and memorability: is this a story I’ve heard many times or something new and fresh, an exciting and original window into the old? Every story on this list stayed with me long after I was finished reading it. And each one continues to stay with me.

Comments on the winners:

First Place:

'Angie'

Wow. This one took my breath away on the first read and haunted me throughout the entire judging process. As with many of my final choices, this one had an extremely powerful ending. The story was deceptively simple at first, distracting us from the impending tension just as the father is distracting his young daughter. The reader, too, is lulled into a calm curiosity, only momentary chinks in the facade giving us insight into not only what is going on but the devastating impact of what is to come. Politics in stories can become too heavy handed, but this author perfectly balanced the political with the personal, giving us a story that is urgent, empathetic, and timely. A necessary story for a haunted world.

Second Place:

'The Wild West'

The narrative voice explodes in this story—full of energy and confidence and the vibrancy of childhood with the nostalgia of an old television show. The reader eagerly joins the playtime fantasy, sinks into the nostalgia, delights at the imagination of children and the boundless freedom of play, which is why the ending is as devastating for the reader as it is for the characters. An abrupt loss of freedom, a crack that will never be mended, the story juxtaposes the amazement of the imaginary world against the hollow ending of the real one. Like the characters we are so lost in the pretend we don’t see the real world intruding until it’s too late.

Third Place:

'The Games People Play'

“War-games…those two words don’t belong near each other.” I loved the freshness and originality of this story, culminating in an ending both hopeless and hopeful. I was drawn right into the clean straightforward prose, the subtle ending dangling, evoking a question on so many people’s minds: what can we do? This story is strong in its simplicity and resonates well beyond the page, reminding us of the urgency of those moments when you cross paths with an opportunity—and you take it.

Highly Commended:

'Old Glory'

Another story that stopped me cold at the end. The final images recall both a shameful history and a continuing, if perhaps more discreet, present. The last line seems to reach out from the past and ask to be recognized today, now, in this familiar moment. A warning.

Highly Commended:

'Mo Bhuachaillin Beag'

The strength of this story came from the narrative voice—both the flippant and the fearful, the youth dragged into the reluctant adult. The prose, like the story, landed in the crossroads of put together and punk rock, a musicality and sense of lyricism that couldn’t be contrived. A reminder that grief stretches across oceans and so, too, does the human spirit of survival.

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Marissa Hoffmann October 2019 First Prize

Angie

by Marissa Hoffmann

Her papa folds a crease into a flattened-out paper grocery bag, turns it over, folds it again, turns it, folds it, again, again. Her papa tells her, Paper dolls hold hands to keep them safe on a journey.

The girl watches her papa. He folds two more bags, same and same. He draws a small doll, tells her, Paper dolls make paper beds, when the night-time comes when they’re walking.

The girl checks with him, she says, Do they snuggle between their paper mamas and paper papas?

Under the stars, her papa tells her. He’s nodding. He draws a smile, draws a flower on the paper doll’s hair, he points at the drawing, he says, Like you.

On the second bundle of folded paper, the girl’s papa draws a tall, thin doll. He shades a black t-shirt, draws arms stretched up above its head, tells her, This one’s waving, this one’s strong. He presses the pencil into the paper doll’s arm, turns the point slowly, presses harder.

The girl touches her papa’s bullet-sized scar, points at the doll, she says, Like you.

The third doll has long, black hair. The girl leans in closer. Her papa draws more, he tells her, Paper dolls think of everything. The girl tilts her head. Her papa says, Paper dolls can even cross the Rio Grande, and around the doll’s waist, her papa draws a giant floaty doughnut. The girl colours sugar sprinkles, dot-dot yellow, green, pink.

They cut, they unfold, they tape together—the mamas, the papas, the children.

Her Papa crouches and she crawls up onto his back. The girl holds tight around his neck. Her papa hangs the paper doll chain. The girl asks, Can the little ones swim Papa?

Her Papa says, The little ones don’t let go. Like you.

About the Author

Marissa's flash was shortlisted at Bath Flash Fiction in 2018 and has been highly commended or shortlisted at Flash500, Flashback Fiction and Flash Frontier. In the past year her stories have been nominated for inclusion in Best Micro Fiction and BIFFY50. Recent work appears in New Flash Fiction Review, Milk Candy Review, Reflex Fiction, The Citron Review, StorgyKids and Bending Genres. She is a fiction reader for Atticus Review and tweets @Hoffmannwriter
website:www.marissahoffmann.com

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Francis McCrickard October 2019 Second Prize

The Wild West

by Francis McCrickard

We knew how to do lots of things back then.

A friend takes a bullet? Easy. Start a fire; clean your penknife blade in the flames; get your friend to take a couple of slugs of pretend whiskey; find a piece of wood for him to bite on; pour liquor on the wound; extract bullet using penknife; put the blade in the flames again; cauterize the wound.

We knew to keep our canteens full but if you’re without water in the desert, find a cactus. Cactuses have lots of water. Mrs. Brady has one in her window.

No chow? Find a snake; pin the back of its head with a forked stick; cut its head off; skin it and roast it over your fire.

A snakebite? Suck blood and with it the poison from where the fangs punctured the skin.

We knew to treat our pretend horses well. A four-legged friend, a four-legged friend, he’ll never let you down. He’s honest and faithful right up to the end, that wonderful one-, two-, three-, four-legged friend.

We knew to keep our guns close, especially in Apache country, Duke Street.

We knew how to send smoke signals using grass, green sticks and Mam’s wet tea towel.

We knew to destroy all evidence of our campfires, to shoot first, never to ride into narrow ravines and never to turn our backs on an Indian unless he’s a friend like Tonto.

We knew how to read tracks that people had left: imprints on the paths, bent grass stalks and broken branches.

We knew how to do lots of things back then.

But we didn’t know what to do when we crossed the frozen pond at the old Hope Mine workings and Mikey Cullen fell through the ice and drowned.

About the Author

Francis is from Cleator Moor in wild West Cumbria. He has worked with young people in Britain, Zambia and Malawi and along the way has compiled educational programmes; written scripts for radio and television; novels for young adults — The Dead are Listening "was a stunner... one of the most intelligent teenage stories to be published for some time." — (Financial Times) and contributed short stories to several anthologies. In 2013 he was given the Observer Unsung Local Hero award for his environmental work. Most importantly, he has, with help, raised a beautiful family. He has recently discovered flash fiction.

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