Anita Arlov June 2019 Second Prize

A God And His Famous Digging Stick Dug This

by Anita Arlov

Is this the pool? Prie ȁ dieu I cup water. Minnows explode: a mute firework. My fingers glow pond-green, trailing elodia densa. Boy fingers explored my body that day; two squid-shaped clouds bombing a Frisbee sky.

Maori fish for eels here. The stream’s a natural race, narrowing to half-body width and dead shallow. We were eels, pewter-brown from summer, lean Little River nippers. Sneaking away unnoticed (your folks filleting the day’s catch, mine unclicking the Tupperware), we stripped behind the macrocarpas and slid into the laminar flow of the stream.

Eels body-wave to move: an exquisite dance of balance and off-balance. We were eels. Our throats engorged. Our jaws arrowed. Our toes were undulating tails; our fingers fluttering fins. My gob, his nostrils, his eyeballs - I swear they swelled twice their size. We were eels, glibly stroked by an ancient current.

We came to, panting hard, half in water, half in air, armed with fresh knowledge. Our pool was pfft! A puddle. Our folks, murderable. School, torture. But the sky! It was hyper-radiant and huger, like it was a god looking down noticing we weren’t kids anymore. Beaming approval.

He heard my skin with his tongue. He tasted my breath with his fingertips. He smelled my body with his skin. That’s how he described it to me. I told him I saw constellations of palm-tree fireworks behind my eyes. He tasted like

outer space and

burst-lip blood and

the Best Ice Cream in the history of ice cream and

tear-salt when it trickles down your cheek into the cup of your mouth like a hundred and twenty-five in Marbles Bagatelle and

the crunchiest liftable knee scab and

the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey when the apes get brave enough to lick it.

About the Author

Anita was born in Christchurch, the youngest of four children of Croatian parents displaced by the war. She now lives in Auckland. She began writing overnight in response to the Canterbury earthquakes 2011. Since 2012 she’s staged Inside Out Open Mic for Writers, a monthly spoken word gig for fresh writing, with musician guests. She won the Divine Muses New Voices Poetry Competition 2017. Anita convened a team that ran the NZ Poetry Conference & Festival 2017, a three day celebration of all things poetry including vispo (visual poetry), spoken word and cine-poetics. In 2018 she won the NZ Flash Fiction Day Competition with He, She, It, They, which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize this year. She‘s Auckland Chair for NZ National Flash Fiction Day 2019. Anita’s writing is published widely including Flash Frontier: an Adventure in Short Fiction; Bonsai: Best Small Stories from Aotearoa/New Zealand; Best Small Fictions 2019 and Best Microfiction 2019. She enjoys music, theatre, cryptic crosswords and spending time with family and friends; is fascinated by the natural world and craves beach-combing.

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Stephanie Hutton June 2019 Third Prize

Cosmina Counts

by Stephanie Hutton

Cosmina must measure the room. In this moment, it is all that matters. From her narrow bed, she can just about stretch out her legs before reaching a wall. There’s no ruler to measure the room precisely. Cosmina recalls laughing at her grandmother back in Romania who measured things the old way – how she laughed at all those old ways. Now she would give anything to be scolded by her grandparents: Cine nu are bătrâni să-şi cumpere – ‘whoever doesn't have elders, should buy some’.

But now is not the time for remembering. She must measure. Pas mic – a small step. How many make up this room? She walks the length toe-to-heel, barefoot. The skin of her heels has hardened enough to stick pins in and not feel a thing, from all those months of squeezing her feet into high heels. Cenuşăreasa – Cinderella. No prince after midnight.

Cosmina’s mouth moulds around a map of her route as travelled in numbers.

Jedan, dva, tri, četiri, pet.

Një, dy, tre, katër, pesë.

Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque.

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinque.

One, two, three, four, five.

How many pas mic to the low ceiling, the buzzing striplight?

Strip light.

Strip.

How many times has she heard that instruction? In how many languages?

No, she must count only the steps in the room.

Cosmina tries to move the numbers behind her eyelids, to decipher the volume of space she exists in. Instead of school-girl calculations, her thoughts show her the places in-between. Vans, boats, apartments. The stench of roll-ups and bleach. The smiles that flicker before violence. The lies that took a girl and crushed her into the kind of woman who stands in a strange place and counts steps along the floor instead of kicks coming from her baby.

About the Author

Stephanie Hutton is a writer and consultant clinical psychologist in Staffordshire, UK. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Award, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and the Bridport Prize. She writes psychological thrillers is and is represented by Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown.

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Hilary Dean June 2019 Commended

Arts & Crafts

by Hilary Dean

Before I was allowed back into Group, I had to apologize to Carl and sign a form that listed all of my personality defects. The form said the whole thing had been my fault. That I had acted out with no provocation and that I was a danger to myself and/or others.

Now I’m here again in Arts & Crafts with everyone and it’s only slightly less boring than where I was yesterday, On Watch in the white room staring at the wall for what turned out to be three days. I couldn’t guess time inside it. One very long second or the shortest forever.

Carl is walking around supervising us. Why don’t you try origami, Jocelyn? Anyone can do that.

Keizo is rolling clay snakes. Flora is needle-pointing. We’re all talking about what we’re going to eat when it’s time to eat food. Michael just asked me what he had for breakfast. The ECT makes him forgetful but I said, Guess, and he guessed right. It made him smile to remember but maybe he just still had the taste in his mouth.

I don’t get why Flora is allowed to have needles but I can’t use a pen. The rules here don’t make sense. It’s so stupid, I could still stab myself with this pencil, plus get lead poisoning too.

Carl just came over and scolded me. I thought we agreed that too much writing isn’t healthy for you, Jocelyn. It’s Arts and Crafts time, not writing time. I just ignored him. I’m talking to you, Jocelyn.

I looked up at him for a second over my notebook. I pointed to the table between us, covered in a sea of white origami swans. Scattered across the surface like they’d been shot down from the sky.

About the Author

Hilary Dean was the winner of CBC’s Canada Writes award in 2012, and has won EVENT Magazine’s Non-Fiction contest twice. Her work has been named as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2015, received the 2016 Lascaux Prize in Fiction, appeared in This Magazine, Matrix, The HG Wells Anthology, and shortlisted for the Journey and Commonwealth Prizes. Dean’s recent film, So You’re Going Crazy… currently airs on CBC’s Documentary Channel and is utilized in healthcare curricula across North America.
www.hilarydean.ca

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Tim Craig June 2019 Commended

The Falling Silent

by Tim Craig

My mother gave me the small pots and pans, while she took the large ones, and together we went outside to kill the birds.

When we got down to the street, most of our neighbours were already there, gathered under the trees and the lampposts. I saw Mei Zhen — the girl from down the hall — carrying a colander and a ladle. I waved to her, but she turned away.

At the given signal from the loudspeakers, everyone began banging their pans together. Across the city, the sky filled with the noise.

My arms began to tire, but each time I slowed, my mother nudged me to redouble my efforts. I looked up at her and saw the determined expression on her face and the patches of damp on her blue headscarf.

Soon the exhausted starlings began to fall from the sky. Some were dead before they reached the ground, some died at our feet, in the gutters, in the grass in front of the apartment block.

Finally, when I thought my arms could take no more, the loudspeakers gave the signal for the noisemaking to stop.

It came like a great sigh, or the tide sucking back across the pebbles. The silence that followed was even greater than the simple absence of sound, for all the music had been removed from it.

We all went back inside to fetch brooms, with which we set about sweeping the birds into piles by the roadway. The municipal hygiene teams would collect them later in their familiar yellow trucks.

Afterwards, I asked my mother if I could go and play with Mei Zhen, but she told me I needed to help her prepare the dinner. Life isn’t all about having fun, she said, banging the pots down on the stove.

About the Author

Originally from Manchester, Tim Craig now lives in Hackney in London. In 2018 he placed third in the Bath Flash Fiction Award and also won the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction. His story ‘Northern Lights’ was included in Best Microfiction 2019.

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Out today! ‘All That Is Between Us’, by K. M. Elkes and ‘the everrumble’ by Michelle Elvy

It's 22nd June and National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand! On this auspicious day, Ad Hoc Fiction, our short-short press, which recently won best publisher category in the Creative Bath Awards, is thrilled to publish the everrumble 'a small novel in small forms' by Director of NFFD, New Zealand, Michelle Elvy and All That Is Between Us the debut flash fiction collection by K. M. Elkes from Bristol, UK, who was one of the judges for NFFD New Zealand's micro competition, MicroMadness which culminates today. We love these global connections from authors in different hemispheres. And is doubly exciting that Ken and Michelle are teaching workshops at the Flash Fiction Festival, Bristol UK next week 28-30th June and are launching their books there.


Both collections have received many glowing endorsements from well known flash fiction writers and teachers.

Here's one from Tania Hershman about All That Is Between Us

"I could dazzle you with well-chosen superlatives or make clumsy attempts to sum up K. M. Elkes' work, but really what I want to say is: This collection is so good. So very, very good. Whoever you are, whatever you like to read, you need these stories in your life."
Tania Hershman, author of Some Of Us Glow More Than Others

And one about the everrumble from Christopher Allen.

"A tour de force, Michelle Elvy's the everrumble is a profound, poetic constellation of notes on the Earth's ‘alive noises’, the hope that lives in the natural world. Zettie's story – all her moments of evolving, her capacity to listen, and her gift of becoming all the sounds of the earth – affected me to the core."
Christopher Allen, author of Other Household Toxins

You can buy both of these brilliant collections now in paperback in several different currencies for worldwide posting directly from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop. Go straight to the bookshop page for All That Is Between Us by K M Elkes here and straight to the bookshop page for the everrumble by Michelle Elvy here. And you can also buy in digital format on Kindle via Amazon. Links to Kindle for each collection are on the bookshop page.

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Flying the Flag for Flash

We're so thrilled and honoured that Ad Hoc Fiction,the short-short fiction press which publishes all our anthologies and flash fiction collections won the publisher's category in the Creative Bath Awards, 2018 announced last night, June 13th, in Bath, a recognition for all the publishing work we did last year. Jude, Ad Hoc Fiction's representative here, is pictured proudly holding the trophy which was designed by a student at Bath Spa University and she is with Ad Hoc fiction published authors, Diane Simmons, holding her book Finding A Way and the prosecco and Alison Woodhouse, an Ad Hoc Fiction micro winner. The Awards are sponsored by Bath Spa University among others, so it's altogether thrilling. And we hope this continues to extend the reach of flash fiction in the South West and beyond.

Huge thanks to John at Ad Hoc Fiction who has worked very hard to produce so many beautiful books since 2017 when our paperback publishing venture began. Hundreds of writers have been published in the five anthologies compiled from Bath Flash Fiction Award submissions over the years since 2016 and from submissions by participants who attended the flash fiction festivals and these publications have travelled around the world. Hundreds more have been published online in the weekly free Ad Hoc Fiction micro contest, which John administers and which has a worldwide writing, reading and voting community. Without his work in typesetting and designing the books we would never have reached the stage of receiving this prestigious Award..

It's timely to receive it, because Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing several new books this June. First up on 22nd June, National Flash Fiction Day, New Zealand New Zealand based author, Michelle Elvy's 'small novel in small forms', the everrumble, and local writer, K M Elkes' debut collection, All That Is Between Us will be published in paperback and available in paperback for purchase in many different currencies for posting worldwide from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop as well as for sale in various locations in New Zealand on 22nd June. Ken's collection is available for pre-order here and Michelle's here. Both marvellous books. And NFFD New Zealand is a good day to support them. We're also very happy that both Ken and Michelle will be at the Flash Fiction Festival running workshops and talks and their books will be for sale for cash or by card there.

We're also launching Birds With Horse Hearts the winner of the 2019 Novella in Flash, Homing, the runner-up novella by Johanna Robinson and Roster by Debra A Daniel, highly commended in the same Award. These three books will also be published on 29th June, the Saturday of the festival and the three amazing book covers will be revealed on that day.

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Flash Around the World in June!

June is busting out all over with flash fiction, so if you are not aware of the coming delights, here's a summary for you of what we know about the rest of the month. I am sure there is a lot more to add.

Sunday 9th June: In Bath, we have the closing date of the twelfth round of the Bath Flash Fiction Award for micros of 300 words. £1460 in prizes and judged by writer, writing tutor and editor, the amazing Christopher Allen. For those entering tomorrow, we will be sending out our famous Last Minute Club badges for anyone submitting during the day up until the midnight deadline. I think some people are collecting them! The picture of the February 2019 badge shows you what to expect as a late, and valued entrant. We also thank everyone very much for entering before the last day. The limit is 300 words max so you still have a little time to hone your flash and enter now.

13th June: Our small publishing press, Ad Hoc Fiction is a finalist in the publishing category of Creative Bath and the Award ceremony is in the evening of 13th June. Jude is going along with Diane Simmons, whose collection, Finding A Way, short-listed recently in the 2019 Saboteur Awards, was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in February this year, and Alison Woodhouse who won the Ad Hoc Fiction weekly micro competition last year. Her story 'Metamorphosis' which was shortlisted by Vanessa Gebbie in the February round of the Bath Flash Award will be published in the 2019 Bath Flash Fiction anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Wish us luck!

15th June: It's National Flash Fiction Day in the UK!. And events are talking place in Coventry. Our founder Jude will be on a panel talking about competitions and publishing with Steve Campbell from Ellipsis Zine, Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Diane Simmons. Stephanie Hutton and Ingrid Jendrzejewski are also offering workshops. The extremely popular Flash Flood will also happen during the day and about 150 flash fictions will be published about every ten minutes or so. Loads of brilliant reads.

22nd June Lots going on today! It's National Flash Fiction Day New Zealand and it's also publication day for two of the new flash fiction books published by Ad Hoc Fiction, the everrumble, 'a small novel in small forms' by Michelle Elvy, Director of NFFD New Zealand and All That Is Between Us by K. M. Elkes who judged the NFFD New Zealand MicroMadness contest. One shortlisted story a day is posted from 1st June until 22nd June, when the winner is announced.

You can pre-order the everrumble by Michelle on the paypal button on the post about her book, linked here and Ken's collection of flash fictions on the post about his book. Both collections are marvellous.

28th June -30th June The third ever Flash Fiction Festival UK is taking place at Trinity College, Bristol, UK! Workshops, talks, panels, readings, a raffle with great prizes including a week's retreat in Italy, and a weekend in Wiltshire near Avebury stone circles, festival long mini comp with prizes, bar, bookshop and opportunity to submit to a post-festival anthology. Some day tickets available at half the full price now. Booking finally closes next week, Friday 14th June.

Book launches at the festival! Michelle Elvy and K. M. Elkes books will be launched at the festival and Birds With Horse Hearts by our 2019 Novella in flash winner, Ellie Walsh and the 2019 runner up, Homing by Johanna Robinson, and The Roster by Debra Daniel, which was highly commended in the 2019 Award, will be published on 29th June and launched at the festival. We're thrilled that both Ellie and Johanna are able to attend and are participating in the panel hosted by Michael Loveday on the novella in flash, where their books will be launched. All these books will also be available to buy at the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop and in ebook formats on 29th June and we'll have the first peek at the lovely covers of the novellas then.

30th June We have a very quick turnaround for our Awards. Christopher Allen is judging the 12th Award, and Jude and Christopher will be announcing the winners live at the Festival where he is running workshops. Notifications will be posted online as usual.

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All That Is Between Us
Debut flash fiction collection by K. M. Elkes

Ad Hoc Fiction, our short-short fiction press, is thrilled to publish All That Is Between Us, the dazzling debut flash fiction collection by Bristol-based author, K.M.Elkes. The collection "explores the complex fragility of human relationships, both the challenges of belonging and how much we risk to avoid being alone. It is a book of moments, evoking the beauty and comfort that connection brings, and the pain when it is severed."

All That Is Between Us, includes Ken's first-prize winning flash fiction, Extremities from Bath Flash Fiction Award, June 2018 and many more wonderful fictions and is highly rated by the eight well-known flash fiction writers quoted below. The art work for the stunning cover is by Bridport based artist, Suzanne Clements.
Read in Full

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