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Round- Up, 2021 Novella in Flash Award

Thank you to all those who entered our fifth yearly Novella-in-Flash Award. We received just over one hundred entries from around the world, about the same number as last year. It’s a difficult genre to write in, and we very much appreciated the range and variety within the entries both in style, setting and subject matter. There were many themes about relationships and family and also wider political issues and contemporary concerns. It was so enjoyable reading them and making the decisions, although hard, on which ones to include in the long list of twenty-five novellas. Michelle has written a wonderful report with comments on her process of selecting for the short list and choosing the winning novellas. We thank her very much for the extreme care she took over this process; many, many hours mulling over the choices for the shortlist and then choosing the three winners and two commended authors.

We love the novella-in-flash ‘genre’ at Bath Flash Fiction Award, and are so pleased that Ad Hoc Fiction is able to publish the entire short list of ten novellas this year. Many congratulations to all authors: our first prize winner, David Swann; our two runners up, Tom 0’Brien and Al Kratz; the two highly commended Hannah Sutherland and Sudha Balagopal and the five shortlisted authors; Michelle Christophorou, Debra Daniel, Tracy Fells, Jupiter Jones and Ali McGrane. You can read the biographies on our winners and shortlisted writers pages on this website and we will be publishing short interviews with them soon.

We are also much looking forward to seeing all these novellas in print to join 14 novellas-in-flash series already published by Ad Hoc Fiction since we ran the inaugural Award in 2017. Hopefully, the books all be available from Ad Hoc Fiction in paperback and from Amazon worldwide in paperback and digital versions by the end of this year or early next year. We will keep you posted.

The 2022 Novella in Flash Award will be open soon.

Jude Higgins
April 2021

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Novella-in-flash 2021, shortlist

Congratulations to all our shortlisted writers. As well as the 2021 winners and highly commended, Ad Hoc Fiction will be publishing these five wonderful novellas-in-flash by the authors below.

Kipris by Michelle Christophorou
Michelle Christophorou was born in Lancashire, UK to a Liverpudlian mother and Greek-Cypriot father. Her stories have won and been placed in various contests, including Strands International Flash, Retreat West Fire-themed flash and micro competitions, Funny Pearls UK (twice runner-up) and Blinkpot. Her story, ‘Wearing You’, published in National Flash Fiction Day’s FlashFlood journal was included in the BIFFY 50 list of best UK and Irish flash 2019/20. In another life, Michelle practised law in the City of London. Tweets @ MAChristophorou

A Family of Great Falls by Debra Daniel
Debra Daniel, from South Carolina, sings in a band with her husband. Publications include: The Roster, (AdHoc Fiction, highly commended for the Bath Flash Fiction Novella-in-Flash, 2019), Woman Commits Suicide in Dishwasher (novel, Muddy Ford Press), The Downward Turn of August (poetry, Finishing Line) As Is (poetry, Main Street Rag), With One Eye on the Cows, Things Left and Found by the Side of the Road, Los Angeles Review, Smokelong, Kakalak, Emrys, Pequin, Inkwell, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River, and Gargoyle. Awards include The Los Angeles Review, Bacopa, the Guy Owen Poetry Prize, and SC Poetry Fellowships.

Hairy on the Inside by Tracy Fells
Tracy Fells was the 2017 Regional Winner (Europe and Canada) for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her short fiction has been widely published in print journals and online, including: Granta, Brittle Star, Reflex Fiction, Popshot, Firewords and the Bath Flash Fiction Award anthologies (2019 & 2020). She has been shortlisted for the Bridport and Fish Flash Fiction prizes, placed in the Reflex Fiction competition and Highly Commended in the NFFD Micro competition (2016 & 2020). She alsowrites novels and was a finalist in the 2018 Richard & Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition. Tracy tweets as @theliterarypig.


The Death and Life of Mrs Parker by Jupiter Jones
Jupiter Jones grew up on the north-west coasts of Cumberland and Lancashire. The first was wild and secretive, the second trashy and jaded; she loved them both. Following a brief spell in London to complete a PhD in Spectatorial Embarrassment at Goldsmiths, she now lives in Wales and writes short and flash fictions. She is a winner of the Colm Toíbín International Prize, and her work has been published by Aesthetica, Brittle Star, Fish, Reflex, Scottish Arts Trust, and rejected by many, many others.

The Listening Project by Ali McGrane
Ali McGrane lives and writes between the sea and the moor, in the south west UK. She completed an MA with distinction from the Open University in 2020, and has stories published in literary magazines including Fictive Dream, The Lost Balloon, Ellipsis Zine, Cabinet of Heed, FlashBack Fiction, and Janus Literary. Her work has been longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, and shortlisted for the Retreat West Short Story Prize and Bath Flash Fiction Award. Her story, ‘Tar i Leith’, received nominations for Best of the Net and Best Microfictions 2019. This is her first attempt at a novella-in-flash.

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Novella-in-Flash 2021 Judge’s report, Michelle Elvy

What a very fine set of flash novellas! And what a daunting task – perhaps the most difficult reading I’ve done. A huge congratulations to every writer who completed a novella-in-flash and submitted, and then a further round of applause to the writers whose work is in the Long List. Wow.
Many thanks also to Ad Hoc Fiction/ BFFA for entrusting me with this challenging and rewarding task. I learn so much every time I read new sets of flash fictions – and this collection of novellas certainly raises the bar.
It’s no easy task writing a collection of stories with a narrative arc, with overtones and undercurrents, with full yet flawed characters, with suspense and mystery in such a small space. Every one of the novellas in the long list has something special about it – many of them intense family portrayals, many of them drawn from history of a place and the nuances from a time long gone, several of them capturing innocence and loss. The form is evolving; writers are taking more chances in the way they write novellas-in-flash, as this long list demonstrates. Some experiment with time; some explore voice and point-of-view in inventive ways; a few play with dialogue and the vernacular; one begins with a recipe.
This long list takes us from Augusta to Reykjavik. And the names: imaginative and evocative, from ‘Fishing Lines’ to ‘Throw A Seven’, from ‘Wild Boys’ to ‘His Raucous Girls’ – I wanted to meet the people in these pages.
The stories captivated me from the opening lines, too. Here are few memorable ones:
I’m starting to believe my own stories. – Remembering What the Doormouse Said

“Two girls in thrift-store broomstick skirts leap from the dinner table, two girls in the
desert smell rain.” – His Raucous Girls

“Sixty-one paces between the Pool of the Monster and the Elm Field. Cara says fifty-five. I don’t argue. Never argue. She’s a year older. Knows things I don’t know.” – Long Bend Shallows

“Greedy and selfish. That’s babies for you,’ said the old woman.” – The End of History

Arriving at the Short List took ages. I moved back and for the between stories, I examined beginnings, middles and endings. I examined dialogue and pacing. I walked away and let them settle into my brain and heart. I read them again. Finally, the ten on the short list emerged as they each took all of the things we love about the short form one step further. They took risks, and I admired them for that. Here’s a hint of what the short list holds:

A Family of Great Falls. Two sisters growing up with a sense of the potential promise that life may hold, as well as the dark realities that are unavoidable with a father who, as an undertaker, is the ‘keeper of the dead’ and a brother buried in the town cemetery. Oh, and a name that must be buried and farewelled, too. Tender but not sentimental, this is a balanced set of stories that reveal the bonds of sisterhood and the way two young girls face the hardest challenges.

Hairy on the Inside. A group of flatmates try to hold onto their compassion and civilising tendencies in the face of pestilence and plague – mostly. Their new lockdown lives include all the typical things, from counselling sessions to book clubs. But this is no ordinary tale: you will howl when the moon is full and grimace when there’s a hunger for blood. A funny and irreverent monster mash-up, with love in the mix, too, and a serious message about how to be the real you. Carefully written with excellent pacing but also: it’s clear how much fun the writer had writing this!

Kipris. New life, and repeated death on the island of Cyprus. A story that intertwines people and politics, historical drama and myth, in an intricate and lyrical way, moving from the oceanside to the mountains to lemon and orange groves, and then to Liverpool and back again. Spanning across generations from the 1940s to the 1980s, this is a study in self-determination and love, on many levels. And goats – filling us with warm frothy milk, filling the stories with sustenance.

The Death and Life of Mrs Parker. Set in the structure the title suggests, this novella brings the reader into the moment of Mrs Parker’s demise and then, with swift moves and snappy dialogue, takes us through her life (moments both special and mundane), all while the ambulance lights flare and the compressions are counted. A life lived, a life revived, a life lost: there are many wonderful moments in this clever set of stories.

The Listening Project. A boy lost to his family; a young girl growing up without her brother. This is a beautiful story of grief and the way it changes us. It’s also about tuning in, and learning to hear, as the title suggests: to both outside and inside worlds. Moving across generations and sometimes navigating delicate moments and thin ice, this novella takes us through a family’s sad story, but also rebirth – in more ways than one. Musical and rich in tone.

And now, here are the top placements…
HIGHLY COMMENDED
Small Things. A beautiful story of loss, told in a way that surprises you, because love is expansive between the people in this story – between Jude and his Da, between Jude and the memory of his Ma, between Jude and Una, between Jude and Kit. And even as the love is grand, the moments are captured with subtle storytelling, and the heart shines with all the small things between them. These stories hold sharp dialogue and sometimes uncomfortable encounters; these feel like real people building real relationships. Friendship and love resonate in these pages, and the ending is both surprising and perfect. The story is layered over the years, from Jude’s first encounter with the new boy Kit (age 7) to his early adulthood when the world is baffling and unbalanced, where weaknesses and strengths come to light. And Kit, Kit Kit, at the centre of it all. Exceptional storytelling!

HIGHLY COMMENDED
Things I can’t tell Amma. A coming-of-age story of a young woman studying abroad, reaching across oceans and time to her family back in Calcutta. Deepa misses the spices and comfort of home, but she embraces the newness and choice that this new world has to offer. Deepa’s encounters captivate the reader. The details take us there; this in 1981 America: giggly girls tune into General Hospital and Good Morning, America, President Reagan is shot, Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer. Deepa is far from the traditions and expectations of her known world, and she opens her mind and her heart. It’s a world of jalapeño and new spices and even danger. And humour, too: there’s a clickety typewriter with a missing letter and ‘Whats-his-name’, the pet bird she can’t name. And there is love, first hinted at when Deepa does not pull back as Theo reaches for her hand, and then told delicately in second person and closing the set with a wonderful, gentle ending.

RUNNER UP
One for the River. An economy of words that tells a richly layered story. This is one of the shortest collections in the batch, and yet here we have so much as the writer shows the death of a boy from many views and paints a picture of the people who inhabit this small town. A great deal of control is exercised here; both the writing and the story are restrained but full. The themes intrigue: impermanence versus permanence; a fleeting moment versus decisive finality; an encounter observed as chance but with clear results. A photograph not taken encompasses the idea of ‘would have/ could have…’, while a stone carved with hammer and chisel reminds us of what can be said without words. This story leaves me with images of these people, and the moments between them – some wicked, some funny, some full of sorrow and also grace. And there’s a play with language, too: the chip van, the chipping of the stone; the rock of one’s life, the rock that Aiden drags, Sisyphean, to the bridge where the drowning boy was first observed. The idea of change, too: what happens to Fat Barry; what happens to Aiden. And then there’s the drowning itself – the five stages that are essential and eloquent, placed between the scenes. Spare in style, this small set of pages resonates with the complexities of an entire novel.

RUNNER UP
The Tony Bone Stories. A strong and sure narrative, this lively set of stories explores truth and fiction, the line between reality and make-believe, and the way one story will influence the outcome of another. It is worth noting that this is one of the few novellas in the Short List that does not deal with death and grief; this is a completely different take on The Meaning Of Life. I applaud the writer for taking a route that is fresh and fun. Rich in layers and confident in voice, the writing is witty, humorous and charged – and leaves the reader with a delicious set of questions to ponder, without being overly ponderous. It’s a romp through Tony Bone’s world – the good moments (he has a girlfriend!), the sleepless nights, the trip to Vegas – all the while working alongside his, and the narrator’s, existential crisis. Tony Bone has to exist, yes, but there must be a reason; as we learn here: you can’t just take someone from a news story and create a character to bring to your writing group, right? The narrator must build Tony – and plausibility – before our eyes. What a fun and rewarding exploration of the relationship between character, narrator and reader, and a reflection on possibilities, down to the very last marvellous line.

FIRST
Season of Bright Sorrows. A girl lives by the sea, and the rhythm of life both lived and observed emerges in these pages. Here we have a gathering of things unexpected: an external exploration of young Lana’s world, and the internal workings of her imagination, both built artfully by the writer. This collection stands out for the rhythmic storytelling and the variety the reader encounters in these small fictions – told in fragments, in lists, in long breathless sentences, in repetitions, in sharp and believable dialogue. There is great care here, and yet the stories spill from the page seamlessly. We peek into a bag and see what’s being collected; we have glimpses of a map, shards of shining things. There is both breadth and depth in these stories, and each page reveals something more: faraway objects and items close up need examining, need understanding. The strong characters are woven together beautifully: Lana with her missing father, her not-too-sober mother, an old man collecting objects along the beach and an unlikeable boy. The encounters are poignant and surprising. And we get the sense that, despite a yearning for order and control, there is a wildness, too: from lions to spiders to whelks to whales to the sea itself. By the end, Lana – and the reader – come to terms with realities and limitations that this life delivers, but there is an innocence and a hope that lingers, too. A superbly designed set of stories, from beginning to end. And although the style and confidence of the prose itself is enough to garner the top prize in this competition, it is worth mentioning here that the sketches that accompany the writing add another intriguing layer.

An extraordinary set of novellas-in-flash! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

-Michelle Elvy
April 2021

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Saboteur Awards 2021. Cast Your Votes!

The Saboteur Awards 2021 are open now for voting until April 7th.

During the late summer and Autumn of 2020, our tiny short-short fiction press (just two people running it), Ad Hoc Fiction. published eleven more books and if you have read and enjoyed any that fit into the Saboteur categories, the authors, I am sure, would appreciate your votes. And Ad Hoc Fiction would also love your voting support in the Most Innovative Publisher category. And finally you can vote for the Flash Fiction Festival in the Best Literary Festival Category. The Festival is up and running this year with our series of monthly days, The Great Festival Flash-Off on Zoom, the first one, just gone on March 27th. Thanks. To remind you, there’s a picture gallery of all the relevant books published by Ad Hoc Fiction below.

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We have a lot to choose from in the Novella Category:
Mary Jane Holmes who won the 2020 Novella-in-Flash Award with Don’t Tell The Bees
Tracey Slaughter, a runner up in the 2020 NIF award, with if there is no shelter
Erica Plouffe-Lazure, a runner up in the 2020 NIF award with Sugar Mountain
Alison Woodhouse, specially commended with The House on the Corner
Karen Jones, specially commended with When It’s Not Called Making Love
Louise Watts, specially commended with Something Lost
Eleanor Walsh, specially commended with Stormbred
All published in Autumn, 2020.

For the Short Story Collection category, Ad Hoc Fiction published, one collection in 2020, and two more this year.
This Alone Could Save Us by Santino Prinzi, July, 2020
The Yet Unknowing World by Fiona J Mackintosh, March 2021
Gaps in the Light by Iona Winter, March 2021

For the anthology category Ad Hoc Fiction published:
Restore to Factory Settings, Vol 5 Bath Flash Fiction, November 2020.

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Interview with K M Elkes, Judge, 18th Award

    K.M. Elkes is based in the West Country, UK. His flash fiction collection All That Is Between Us (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019) was shortlisted for a 2020 Saboteur Award. He is a previous winner of the Bath Flash Fiction Award, and the Fish Publishing Flash Prize, as well as being published in more than 40 anthologies and online literary magazines. His short stories have won, or been placed, in international writing competitions, such as the Manchester Fiction Prize, Royal Society of Literature Prize and the Bridport Prize. He was longlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2019. His writing has featured on schools and college curricula in the USA, India and Hong Kong and used by bibliotherapy charity The Reader. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University.From 2016-18 he was Guest Editor of the A3 Review literary magazine. As a writer from a rural, working class background, his work often reflects marginalised voices and places.
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Pre-order Gaps in the Light, the new hybrid collection by Iona Winter

Our Small Press, Ad Hoc Fiction is privileged to be publishing Gaps in the light, the new book by poet and hybrid writer, Iona Winter from Aotearoa, NZ. Several of Iona’s flash fictions have been both longlisted and shortlisted in our Awards and published in the yearly anthologies and it is exciting to see a whole collection of her writing. In advance praise for the book, well-known NZ author Pip Adam, writes:

Gaps in the Light is an amazing work. It uses form in innovative ways to express deeply the experience of loss and joy in ways I can’t remember reading anywhere else.

We love the rhythm of the prose,the different forms used in the collection and the inclusion of the Maori language (with glossary) which adds a beautiful music and extra depth to the work. We’re looking forward to hearing Iona read the stories when she posts videos on her social media sites. In the very moving interview below, she tells us about the process of writing the collection and her son Reuben’s death soon after she had completed the manuscript. We are very glad that it is being published as one of the first books from Ad Hoc Fiction this year, on March 19th. Gaps in the Light is now available for pre-order at a 25% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction in paperback during the pre-order period, on pre-order at Amazon kindle. And it will also be available in paperback from Amazon worldwide on publication day. It is one of two new flash fiction collections published on 19th March and available for preorder now. The other is by US based writer Fiona J Mackintosh and it is wonderful to have new flash fictionbooks from writers in two different hemispheres.
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Pre-order The Yet Unknowing World, new flash collection by Fiona J Mackintosh

We’re so delighted that Ad Hoc Fiction, our short-short fiction press, is publishing Fiona J Mackintosh’s debut flash fiction collection, The Yet Unknowing World. It’s one of two books open for pre-order today, 22nd February, with a 25% discount during the pre-order period, by authors from two different hemispheres, Fiona in the US and Iona Winter in New Zealand. Both brilliant examples of the range of variety of the flash fiction form.

In advance praise, well-known writer and teacher of flash fiction, Kathy Fish, one of the acclaimed authors quoted on the back cover says of The Yet Unknowing World:

“These stories by Fiona J. Mackintosh are miniature masterpieces, resonating far beyond the pages they inhabit. Mackintosh’s pen is assured, her vision clear-eyed yet compassionate. Like the paintings of Edward Hopper, The Yet Unknowing World invites us all to peer into the dark, quiet corners of human yearning and to connect with the flawed, aching beauty of our own hearts.”

We agree. We love the variety of Fiona’s writing and her beautiful use of imagery and detail. There are such treasures within this book. In the interview below, Fiona talks about how the book came about, its construction, the cover design, where the title comes from and more.

We hope you will be able to come along to the Zoom launch Jude is hosting on the first day of Spring, Saturday 20th March from 7.30- 9.30 pm GMT. Please contact her at Jude {at} adhocfiction [dot} com for a link.At the launch, Fiona will read several of the stories,there will be extra short readings from guests, time to talk to flash fiction friends from around the world and we’ll give away two copies of the book for those who win our quiz.

The collection is published the day before the launch on 19th March and the book will be also be available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback from Amazon Worldwide, as well as from our bookshop.

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Round up for 2020. Thank you to all our supporters!

At the end of another decade this is the fifth year of the Bath Flash Fiction Award.Thank you very much to everyone who has submitted to our Awards over the years. It has been a wonderful experience reading so much exceptional flash fiction. In 2020, despite everything, even more writers from around the world entered the 2020 Awards. In total, there were 4235 entries from 49 different countries and people tell us we have been part of putting flash fiction on the map. Which is a lovely thing to hear.

In recent weeks, our fifth anthology, Return to Factory Settings. has been arriving in many different countries. And we hope all 136 contributors, writers who were longlisted, shortlisted or placed in the three Awards will have received their copies. We love the fact that writers new to flash fiction are published in the anthology as well as those who have been published before. The brilliant cover, designed by Ad HocFiction, was inspired by a story within the anthology by UK writer J A Keogh, who explained that it was last year’s Bath Flash Anthology that got him started on writing flash fiction. We think that’s a great circle to complete.
This year, the judges were Santino Prinzi from the UK, Mary-Jane Holmes who is based in the UK and the USA and Nod Ghosh from New Zealand. We’re very thankful to them for the hard work and comments on the listed and winning stories.
You can buy all five anthologies, pictured in the gallery here, from adhocfiction.com

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Q & A with author J A Keogh author of Restore to Factory Settings

We think Restore to Factory Settings the title from a micro by UK writer, J A Keogh, is a great headline for the fifth Bath Flash Fiction Award Anthology. Here, he writes more about the story and about writing flash, which he’s had much success at, after only writing in this form for a year. He was hooked when he read last year’s anthology, With One Eye On The Cows. and it’s particularly gratifying that one of our anthologies inspired him. A goal of BFFA has always been to encourage writers to read and write flash fiction. His story is the last one of the 136 fictions in the anthology, which you can buy from adhocfiction.com and from Amazon in different countries in both paperback and ebook formats.
As the anthology cover picture has the rusty background, I suggested authors might take a picture of the book with something rusty. Justin’s found a great image of a rusty couple in a boat. We thought they might be the couple in his story, who, he says below, have ‘a mutual addiction to impermanence’. Read in Full

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Interview with Johanna Robinson, 1st prize winner, BFFA October, 2020

We’re delighted to share an interview with Johanna Robinson, who won first prize in the October 2020 round, which was judged by Nod Ghosh. The story plus two other listed stories of Johanna’s is included with all the other winners and longlisted writers who agreed to publication in Restore to Factory Settings Bath Flash Fiction Vol 5. released this week from Ad Hoc Fiction. Johanna was a runner-up in our Novella-in-Flash award in 2019 with her wonderful NIF, Homing. It is now available as an ebook from kindle as well as in paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop. Links to worldwide kindle are on the bookshop page. So if you want to read more of Johanna’s work, it is instantly available. We’re so interested to learn that her win, ‘Blessings 1849’, another historical piece, is a story which had been submitted into various competitions previously in different forms and had actually also been sent to BFFA before and not been listed. Johanna describes here how she edited it and we’d love to take up her offer to show the various versions of the story, in a new post on the site. It also gives encouragement to others, as she said, not to lose heart over a piece you are dedicated to. It might need working on, but it can still be successful in finding a home as a competition winner or in a magazine.

Interview Read in Full

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