At Bath Flash Fiction, we love the buzz around the end of the Award on social media. We've never quite worked out the psychology around writers and deadlines, so if someone wants to try an explanation, let us know. For our Awards, the pattern is always the same, 80% of entries come in the last few weeks even though discounted entries are available in the Early Bird deals which end half way through the contest. Some people buy their Early Bird entries and submit much later but not that many. A very large number of writers enter on the final day. Those writers are members of the Last Minute Club. Last time we introduced a badge for them, pictured here. And there will be another one for avid collectors on Sunday 14th October, which is the last day for this award. K M Elkes, the winner of the June round told us he is an up-to the-wire kind of guy. He said he entered not long before midnight on the final day. Just the one story. Read in Full
We like to nominate winners' stories from the Bath Flash Fiction Awards and the Ad Hoc Fiction winners for yearly anthologies and awards. Authors nominated by us have done very well. This year,'Tying the Boats' by Amanda O'Callaghan, the first prize winner,from the June 2017 Award selected by judge Meg Pokrass was included in Best Small Fictions 2018 and The Hand That Weilds The Priest by first prize winner, Emily Devane, from the February 2017 Award, judged by Kathy Fish, was included in the long list out of thousands of submissions. 'Roll and Curl', by Ingrid Jendrzejewski first prize winner in the February 2016 round judged by Tania Hershman was longlisted for Best Small Fictions 2017 out of a similar number of submissions, as was 'White Matter' by Julianna Holland, which won third prize in the October 2016 round judged by Robert Vaughan. Henry Peplow's micro 'Zeus Falls to Earth', winner of Ad Hoc Fiction in June 2016 was also included in the Best Small Fictions 2017 longlist. Finally, we nominated Charmaine Wilkerson's novella-in-flash How to Make A Window Snake for the novella category in the Saboteur Awards 2018, and it won the Award.
This year, two new opportunities to nominate stories have arisen. 'The Best Microfiction 2019 anthology co-edited by Meg Pokrass and Gary Fincke for stories 400 words or fewer published in 2018 and the Best 50 Flash Fictions from Britain and Ireland 2018-2019 organised by TSS. We're also looking forward to nominating our winning authors again for Best Small Fictions 2019. See which stories we've currently nominated below. Read in Full
At Bath Flash Fiction, a few winners have mentioned their dogs in interviews with me after their wins. So as we near the end of the October 2018 round of Bath Flash Fiction Award, judged by Nuala 0'Connor, we're giving the winners' dogs a spotlight. Dogs are inspirational and we know several other dog-loving flash fiction writers, whose dogs are essential to their writing lives.
Molia Dumbleton's lovely dog, Huckle is pictured here with Molia. Molia won third prize in the February 2018 round of Bath Flash Fiction Award judge by Tara L. Masih, with her flash 'Why Shit is Still Like This Around Here and Probably Always Will Be' In my interview with her, I asked her if her dog was her muse. She said. "I think my only muse might be a deadline. Ha! But sadly, kind of true. I go for very, very long walks with my dog and those are pretty essential, just for energizing and de-cluttering the head." Read in Full
Jude Higgins and Meg Pokrass will both be at the Poetry Society's Free Verse the Poetry Book and Magazine Fair, organised by The Poetry Society, on Saturday 22nd September in Senate House, London 11.00 am - 4.00 pm Jude will be taking along all the books published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Meg will be there to sign her new collection Alligators at Night published in July this year. Come along and say hello. We've special book deals on all the anthologies listed below: Read in Full
- Victoria Melekian's novella-in-flash A Slow Boat to Finland was a runner-up in the 2018 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award judged by Meg Pokrass. Meg said of the novella, "We are not sure how a bereaved mother will recover after losing her toddler daughter in a car accident. Especially when the little girl's heart saves another child. The strong and convincing writing will pull you right into this story and make you want to know what happens next." Here Victoria tells us more about how she went about writing the novella, and gives tips to anyone who wants to embark on such a project. You can buy In the Debris Field the collection of three winning novellas-in-flash, which contains Victoria's novella, in several different currencies at the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop
- What sparked off your marvellous novella in flash? Was it built around one or two flashes? Or had you imagined the whole story to begin with?
- Can you tell us how you compiled the novella? Writers seem to have different methods of choosing the order of flash fictions?
- Following on from the last question, what was the most tricky part in writing it for you?
- Meg Pokrass said that A Slow Boat to Finland was one of the best titles that she read and it certainly suggests so much about lonely endurance after a tragedy. What are your own thoughts about the title you chose?
- Were you influenced by any other writers who had written novellas or novels in this form?
- What other writing projects have you got on the go at the moment? Would you write another novella-in-flash?
- What advice would you give to anyone embarking on a novella-in-flash for the next competition?
- When and where do you do your writing?
Thank you for the "marvellous". Pretty much everything I write comes from ideas that have percolated a few years. Sometime ago I’d wondered about the notion of a grieving widow, an older woman, developing an inappropriate romantic attraction to the young man who received her deceased husband’s heart. I played around with it in my notebook and there the idea sat until I began thinking more about organ transplants and relationships between donor and recipient. I came up with the possibility of a mother becoming attached to a recipient child and the story expanded. So yes, I had the story imagined before beginning. At first I thought it could be a novel, but I’m a poet and just can’t go long.
When I began writing the story, I had one narrator, and I was trying to decide between first or third person. Neither sounded right. I went back to the snippets in my notebooks and saw that I’d originally written from all different points of view and used different tenses, and that’s when I realized that could be the way for me to create a novella-in-flash—just let the characters tell their parts of the story. I was afraid it would be a jangled mess, but I also had nothing but time to lose so I went for it. Once I let everyone speak, the arc presented itself organically. I rearranged the sequence several times and amended parts here and there to strengthen the story.
Oh, my goodness, the hardest part was making sure each piece stood on its own. There’s a repetition factor, I think, that can’t be avoided, but that’s also what creates the beautiful musicality I hear in my head when I read novellas-in-flash. I tried to just let it flow where it wanted to go, kind of like throwing water on the floor and watching it spread.
I smiled when I read that comment about the title because honestly, endings and titles are the bane of my existence. Of course, my creation needed a title and, as usual, I had no idea what, so I read through the novella looking for something, anything that remotely could serve and that’s where I found “A Slow Boat to Finland.” It seemed to ring true. I smacked it on top of the manuscript, mentally shrugged, and hoped for the best. Maybe our subconscious knows best.
Influenced, I don’t think so. More so, I was encouraged that this was even possible. I read the wonderful My Very End of the Universe and, of course, the three beautiful novellas in How to Make a Window Snake. Seeing that there was no one way to write a novella-in-flash reassured me that I could approach mine however it wanted to be written.
I don’t have a project right now and I do miss knowing exactly what I’m going to work on each day. When I’m in between, I write poetry and flash fiction. I have a file on my computer desktop called “52 Somethings.” My goal is to make sure I write something I kind of like once a week.
If I had the right idea, yes, I would write another novella-in-flash. It’s an exciting challenge and I wouldn’t mind doing it again.
Know that it’s a daunting endeavour, but quite possible. Trust your instincts and you’ll write something amazing.
There’s no certain when and where I write. Once I have an idea, things start popping into my head. If I have no paper, I make notes on my phone. Eventually it goes into my notebook and from there, into the computer. I write on my bed. On my couch. In my car. At work. Waiting for appointments. Oh, yes, and sometimes at my desk. When I made the decision to write the novella, I put all the notes, vignettes and snippets into my computer and began corralling them into separate flashes. Any day I had a substantial chunk of time to spend, I sat outside and worked at my patio table. If the neighbors and dogs were too loud, I plugged in my earbuds and listened to rain, rivers, ocean waves—whatever water I found on my free app. For some reason, it was easier to concentrate outside. It felt like a dedicated space.
We're thrilled that Ad Hoc Fiction has published Meg Pokrass's new collection, Alligators at Night, the first book of hers published in the UK. Acclaimed US author Stuart Dybek says of her new collection:
The nuanced tonal complexity, which can go from the whimisical to a darker irony in the turn of a phrase, has been a signature feature of the work of Meg Pokrass. That complexity is in her new collection, Alligators at Night, heightened further by the fertile invention and unpredictable interplay of these beautifully crafted pieces
The title story was recently chosen for Wigleaf's best fifty stories of 2018 and another story in the collection, Barista was selected by Amy Hempel for Best Small Fictions, 2018.
Alligators at Night will be launched at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol, 20-22nd July where you will be able to hear Meg reading some of these brilliant stories and it is available to buy now worldwide in many different currencies from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop
Meg Pokrass is the author of four other collections of flash fiction, and one award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas which received the Bluelight Book Award in 2016. Her stories and poems have been widely published and anthologized in two Norton Anthologies: Flash Fiction International and the forthcoming New Microfiction and her novella-in-flash, Here Where We Live, is published in My Very End of the Universe the Rose Metal Press Guide to the form. Meg was the judge for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, Novella-in-Flash competition in 2017 and 2018. She is curator of Flash Fiction Festivals and editor of The New Flash Fiction Review She currently teaches on-line flash fiction workshops.
We’re thrilled to announce that How to Make a Window Snake, the novella-in-flash by Charmaine Wilkerson and published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2017, won the best novella category in the prestigious Saboteur Awards 2018. Charmaine also won first prize with this novella in the inaugural novella-in-flash Award 2017, judged by Meg Pokrass. When Meg heard about the Saboteur results she remarked – “There was no question in my mind about this novella. Finding a gem like this was a gift.”
Read in Full
We’re having a birthday evening of readings 4th May, 7.30-9.30 pm at St James Wine Vaults, Bath... free entry, free wine and free cake. About nine of our winners, including three of our mulit-winners, are reading their fictions. Do come and support them. More details about this on our events page.
Sue is one of a number of authors who submit to our free micro contest Ad Hoc Fiction every week. We really appreciate her support and it's marvellous to see what good use she has made of entering. It was our intention in launching Ad Hoc Fiction to encourage people to write more short-short fiction and to read other people's work. Sue is so inventive and dedicated with writing and sharing her pieces – an event where people called out numbers to select a story for her to read from her ever-growing collection, a scarf she has had made with the Ad Hoc stories printed on it, writing while in hospital and forming the 'Adhoccers' group.
- You have entered Ad Hoc Fiction since the beginning – I am not sure if you were one of the seventeen writers who entered the very first contest, in April, 2015, but you have submitted most weeks since. Can you tell us what you like about the competition?
We're delighted to link up with new quality magazine Project Calm for an Ad Hoc Fiction Autumn Special, scheduled to open Wednesday 21st September. One winning Ad Hoc story and two runners up will be published in the second issue of the magazine which will have a focus on books and the love of reading.
The ethos of Project Calm is one of creativity and mindfulness. This fits with our view of writing. To create very short fiction you need to be present and aware – paying careful attention to every word. It's often a meditative experience. Alison Wassell, who wrote the winning piece, Just a Crisp was recently interviewed by Once We Were Fiction about her method of writing. Ad Hoc Fiction involves writing a very short fiction to a given prompt word. Alison describes how she lets the prompt word float around in her mind, then “writes” very short stories in her head when she is walking to work at 7.00 am in the morning. She says “the walk takes about 40 minutes, which is plenty of time for 150 words.”
Though our special contest doesn't launch until Wednesday 21st September, we're happy to tell you that the prompt word will be 'CALM', so you've an extra week to let your ideas form. The three stories with the highest number of votes will be the ones chosen for the magazine. As usual, the winner will get a free entry to Bath Flash Fiction Award.
Issue Two of Project Calm will be published in the UK on the 24th November and sold in outlets including WH Smith, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. In the US it will be published on the 24th December, available in Barnes & Noble among other places.
It's a wonderful and unmissable opportunity to be widely published around the world. Have a look at a digital sample of the now sold-out first issue. The Issue One focus is not on writing, but it is packed full of creative ideas.
And a video of Issue One can be viewed here on Facebook.