Flash Fiction competitions and why they sometimes suck and why ours doesn’t.

I hate how it often feels as if the writing world is only opened up by having money. If you can afford to pay for an MA, a writing retreat, a workshop, then you not only pay for the knowledge you gain but also the connections you make. The internet is a leveller. I joined a brilliant online writing group and have learned heaps from other writers, for free. However, if I want to submit my work to competitions there is usually a fee. I moan about this to anyone who will listen. Who will win a flash fiction competition that charges £9 to enter? A writer who can afford it. Someone kindly suggested on twitter I could email competitions and ask if they have reduced entry fees for those with a restricted income. It’s a terrific idea to offer such places. The truth is I can pay a £9 entry fee if I really want to, but I choose not to. I want the playing field I am on to be as open as possible.

I’m the Managing Editor of The Forge and we pay writers thanks to the generosity of John and Yosh Haggerty and the writers who submit using our $3 tip jar option. I know it’s unusual to have this private backing and it’s a privilege. I understand the need to charge money to make the prize fund. But… £9 for 300 words?

We are holding our annual flash competition this September and the prize is $500, publication, and, a 2-year subscription to Duotrope (thanks Duotrope). It is free to enter until we hit our Submittable limit of 300. There is also a tip jar option. Our tagline is “Literary excellence is our only criteria.” And it’s true. We are looking for stunning writing and that’s it. We are open to all voices with any background, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual and personal identity. I’m very proud of what we offer and would be grateful if you spread the word. Because it is rare to offer something for nothing I expect we will be inundated so to be sure of free entry get ready to sub asap. I know the writer tendency is to wait for the deadline (September 14th) and then fling something in just before midnight in a last-second scramble but we open on September 1st.

I’m looking forward to reading your work.
(I’m posting this on my personal blog because these are my personal views and I don’t speak for any other member of The Forge.)

*klaxon* I have a new story up at Pithead Chapel

I have a new story, Looking Back, up at Pithead Chapel. Please do read if you are so inclined. And massive thanks to those of you who have already read and tweeted and shared. Writing often feels like screaming into a void to me, so it was pretty intoxicating to get such a good response to this one. It’s a stonking issue featuring brilliant words from Megan Pillow Davis, Bradford Philen and Tara Isabel Zambrano, so even if you don’t like my piece I guarantee there’s something you will enjoy.

Smash Lits with Rose Andersen

I published Rose Andersen’s wonderful nonfiction flash – “Dating Profile” over at FLM. Do give it a read. And I interviewed her too. She has excellent taste in TV detectives and swear words.

1) What is your favourite biscuit?

A just warmed chocolate chip cookie. (I am assuming that biscuit in this case is what us silly Americans call a cookie)

2) What was the last text you sent?

“Beautiful! Love love love”

3) Who is your favourite Sesame Street character?

Oscar the Grouch. I think I liked that he was so openly, well, grouchy.

4) Bacon VS Tofu—who wins? Why?

This feels like a turtle and the hare kind of scenario and that I should say tofu but I just can’t see bacon losing out. Mainly, because I think tofu is horrid.

5) Your writing is music, what style is it?

Instrumental and terribly sad.

6) What is the oldest piece of clothing in your wardrobe?

A ratty NOFX shirt I was given when I was eleven.

7) What’s your worst habit?

Self-doubt or biting my nails.

8) You’re stuck in a lift with a writer of your choice—who?

Jonathan Carroll, so I could ask him about talking dogs and other magical things.

9) What is your favourite swear?

Fuck bucket.

10) Mermaid, dinosaur or unicorn?

Dinosaur. 100%. (I could literally eat mermaids and unicorns for breakfast.)

11) Who is your favourite TV detective?

This one is hard because I watch an unhealthy amount of crime TV. Veronica Mars is up there. But I’ve recently become obsessed with Eve Polastri on Killing Eve.

12) What word (or words) makes you cringe?

Flaccid. Bulbous. Mrs.

13) Do you actually like cottage cheese and fruit at breakfast? (It sounds like punishment food to me.)

I do, actually. I add a bit of brown sugar and I mainly put fresh berries in it, if that makes it sound more appetizing!

14) Who is/was your unlikely crush?

Casper the friendly ghost. Totally had the hots for him when I was about ten.

15) How do you know when you’ve reached the end?

When I can’t feel anything anymore.

16) What is your favourite smell?

My husband’s neck. Aren’t I disgusting?

17) What is the last thing you googled?

“How to sleep with sciatic pain.” Sexy, I know.

18) Have you ever had your fortune told? Has it come true?

I have several encounters with psychics that have been eerily on point. For a few years now, I have been looking into the suspicious circumstances around my sister’s death and a psychic told me a couple things that were eventually revealed to be true.

19) What’s the best flash you’ve read recently?

A MOVIE THE NEIGHBORS COULD WATCH BY ERICA PEPLIN, published on Jellyfish Review. I love how visual this piece is.

20) Give me a question for the next Smash Lits interview I do.

“What does love look like to you?”

A short fiction of mine up at Cease, Cows

Cease, Cows looks to be a pretty nifty new journal. My ace writing pal, Tania Hershman, encouraged me to send a piece their way, and they published Cara last week. They’ve done a wonderful job finding an accompanying image. It’s a bit different to my usual fiction, maybe even a little sci-fi-esque.


New flash up at The Ilanot Review

I like the Editor‘s note for The Ilanot Review’s summer edition. They asked for submissions for a “hybrid” issue and wanted something different – work that “rejected labels.” The journal is packed with good words from super smart writers like Elaine Chiew, Sarah Hilary, Jonathan Pinnock, Angela Readman and Nuala Ni Chonchuir. It’s pretty damn cool to be appearing in a journal alongside them. I’m pleased with my piece, Immalore. At the risk of sounding like a twat, it’s kinda personal, but ambiguous too, and probably the closest I get to poetry.


Rattle Tales Anthology

Rattle Tales host lively story telling evenings in Brighton, and invited me to read at one of their evenings last October. I’m chuffed they’ve included my flash fiction in their second anthology, alongside stories by Rattle Tales dynamo Erinna Mettler, Paul McVeigh, and 23 other Sussex writers. For a couple of quid you can download the book here or you can order a printed copy here.

My voice(s)

Beat The Dust invited submissions for their latest literary experiment. They asked for pieces of 500 words or less, taking as the start point an end line you thought good.

I took my line from Jenni Fagan’s excellent novel The Panopticon and wrote “Again”.

It struck me how the voice I used was at once my own voice, and not my voice. It’s how I speak, sometimes. It’s not how I speak usually. It is my voice. It’s in my head. It feels comfortable, natural. It’s not how my mum sounds, but my dad and brothers do. When I go home, back to where I was raised, that voice, a blending of Essex and East London, a sweary shorthand, feels very usual. Now it’s published, and I read it back, I feel awkward in case someone thinks it’s a patronising kind of mimicry. If you meet me now I probably won’t sound like that. If we have a few drinks in the pub I may well do. (I won’t ever say “nothink” though, I hate that erroneous “k”). My dad is originally from Ireland. He speaks with a British Essex accent but if he meets up with his family his Irish accent reappears. When I was young it sounded like another language. It’s interesting, is it a fake accent or is it his voice?

Seeing as how it’s a piece of fiction anyway it shouldn’t make any odds. But it does, to me. Hence this post.

I really appreciate the work Melissa Mann does with BTD. I like how she invites us to play and stretch and keep on pushing our words. It’s an interesting journal. Oh, and I LOVED choosing my five fave intros. There would be a different five today probably.

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