Claire Powell February 2020 Commended

Valentine

by Claire Powell

The man steps out of his car. Tomasz remains where he is, both hands on the wheel, as though still moving.

It’s black outside, but they’ve stopped on the high street, beneath a yellow lamp. There’s a McDonald’s on the corner, brightly lit, open.

Moments earlier, while pulling out, something had caught Tomasz’s eye: a gift shop filled with teddy bears and glossy heart-shaped balloons. It seemed surreal at first, but now he realises, of course: Valentine’s Day.

The man bends down, picks up his wing mirror.

Tomasz remembers the card Lena once made him. A photo of them in bed, their faces close, pretending to sleep. Stupid really – he’d taken it himself. Had held his arm up high, touched his thumb to the button, closed his eyes before it flashed. To the man of my dreams, she’d written inside. Had he given one to her?

The man opens his boot, removes some kind of tool. Get out, he’s shouting. At least, that’s what Tomasz assumes he’s shouting. He can’t actually hear since – somehow – the radio volume has increased. ‘Lady in Red’ plays out loud.

Tomasz’s hands remain on the steering wheel. How strange. To be thinking of Lena in a moment like this. How surreal. He pictures her inthe crimson bridesmaid dress she wore for her sister’s wedding. She hated that dress, said it made her look like a heavy period.

The man pulls at the handle of Tomasz’s door.

A heavy period! Tomasz was disgusted at the time. He didn’t disagree or tell her she looked good.

The man bangs Tomasz’s window. First with his fist, then with the tool.

He didn’t tell her she looked good, though now he sees she was beautiful.

Glass shatters into Tomasz’s lap. How strange it looks. Surreal. Almost like confetti.

About the Author

Claire Powell is a freelance writer from London. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Bursary and the Malcolm Bradbury Continuation prize. Her short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and published in The Manchester Review and The Standard Hotel Short Story Compendium. In 2017 she won the Harper’s Bazaar short story contest. She’s currently working on a collection.
www.clairemeganpowell.com

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Novella-in-Flash 2020 Award
Long List

Congratulations to all the authors who have made our Award long list and huge thanks to all who entered.

To preserve judging anonymity, author names are yet to be announced. While we are happy for authors to share that they are on the long list, we ask that writers do not identify themselves with their particular work at this stage.

Important
We receive many entries, and occasionally find more than one entry with the same title. We are in the process of emailing all long listed authors individually. To avoid disappointment, please do not assume you are on the long list unless you have received that email. If in doubt, please contact us.

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Anthologies Launched in Bath

On Saturday 8th February, at the full moon and on a blustery night, we launched Flash Fiction Three and With One Eye On The Cows, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Vol 4 both published by Ad Hoc Fiction, our small indie press, at the lovely St James Wine Vaults in Bath. We were delighted that eighteen writers were able to come and read their micros from the two anthologies. It was a fast-paced and fun evening. We had a double-book cover cake, wine, nibbles, a raffle and plenty of time for chatting. The room was packed with our readers, their friends and family members and our guests.

In the first half of the evening we heard micros published in Flash Fiction Festival Three written by festival director Jude Higgins, festival team members and volunteers, Judy Darley, Michael Loveday, Grace Palmer and John Wheway, festival participants, Dave Alcock, Andrea Harman, Felicity Cowie and Ruth Foster and festival presenter, Carrie Etter. A whole range of great little stories — many of them prompted by workshops at last year's festival.

In the second half, eight writers published in With One Eye on The Cows came to read their stories. And many travelled a long way.Several of these writers contributed photographs to our photo gallery when their books arrived. We were lucky to catch Fiona Mackintosh from the USA, on a visit to her family in England and Don Taylor came from Glasgow, Dide Siemmond and Clementine F. Burnley from London, Jeanette Sheppard from the Midlands, Leonie Rowland from Manchester and Santino Prinzi and Diane Simmons who live locally. More wonderful micros — winners, shortlisted and longlisted stories, selected out of our yearly total of over 3000 entries for the three 2019 Bath Flash Fiction Awards, last year judged by Vanessa Gebbie, Christopher Allen and Nancy Stohlman.

Michael Loveday sold raffle tickets with prizes of several books published by Ad Hoc Fiction, to raise funds for reduced cost places at the Flash Fiction Festival and we raised £45, enough to pay for one local writer, who is short of cash, to attend the pre-festival workshop on historical fiction by Nuala 0'Connor taking place from 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm on Friday 19th June, at our festival venue, Trinity College, Bristol. Contact us directly about this if you are a local writer on a low income and would like to take up the place. Nuala is a great teacher, historical novelist, short story and flash fiction writer.

The 14th Bath Flash Fiction Award closes in one week. And as usual we are looking forward to offering publication in our year-end anthology to the fifty longlisted writers in this round. The Festival is open for bookings and two-thirds of the places have now gone. We'd love to see you there!

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The Best Small Fictions, 2019. A review by Mark Budman


We're delighted to publish Mark Budman's review of The Best Small Fictions 2019. We nominate Bath Flash Fiction Award winners for this prestigious anthology each year. And in the 2019 Anthology we were thrilled that our October 2018 first prize winner, Fiona Mackintosh's historical flash fiction, 'Siren', was selected by the editors as was 'When The Rubber Hits The Road' our second prize winner from the February 2018 Award by Lee Nash There are also stories by Flash Fiction Festival Team members and workshop presenters Karen Jones, whose story Mark mentions, Meg Pokrass, whose magazine New Flash Fiction Review is also featured in the anthology, and Santino Prinzi, who is also the judge of of our 14th Award, which closes on Sunday 16th February.

Mark Budman has been prominent in the world of flash fiction for many years as a writer and as the Editor of Vestal Review and it is interesting to read how he thinks the quality of flash fiction is improving year by year and how this anthology contains such memorable examples of the form. Exciting times for flash!

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sonder Press (November 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 099975016X
ISBN-13: 978-0999750162

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Round the World ‘With One Eye On The Cows’

Our fourth Bath Flash Fiction anthology, With One Eye On The Cows, title story by New Zealand writer Annette Edwards-Hill, who we've interviewed here, containing 137 micros from the 2019 Awards, was dispatched all over the world in December. Thank you to all contributors who posted pictures on social media of their anthologies, either with cows or other animals, real or not and in portraits. We hope we haven't missed out any pictures we saw and if you want to add any to the gallery. please let us know. The anthology is available to buy in several different currencies from the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop. And we thank Annette very much for inspiring the cover. We are very fond of the cow image and of the title.The anthology will be launched alongside Flash Fiction Festival Three, the anthology of stories from the 2019 Flash Fiction Festival, in Bath on Saturday, February 8th. It will be a fun and pacy evening, with about 12 authors from each anthology reading. Plus cake, wine and nibbles. If you want to come and listen, let us know asap. The next Bath Award, judged by Santino Prinzi, closes on February 16th and all fifty longlisted authors will be offered publication in our 2020 anthology, which will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction at the end of the year.

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Q & A with Annette Edwards-Hill, author of ‘With One Eye On The Cows’

The image of the cow on the Bath Flash Fiction anthology, Volume 4 is very popular and we love the title of the micro by Annette Edwards-Hill that inspired it.You will see on the gallery of pictures included on another post, that the book has been travelling all around the world to the contributors. Annette lives in New Zealand and it took a while to get there over Christmas but we are glad she's received it now and that her 'cattle' dog approves. You can find her story on the last page of the book, which is available from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop, facing a black and white version of the cover image. Here in this Q & A with Jude, she tells us more about the story, the title and her writing.
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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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