Friday, 11 April 2014

NFFD 2014 - Micro-Fiction Competition Winners!

Well, the waiting is over, and we can finally announce the winners for this year's National Flash-Fiction Day 100 word Micro-Fiction competition!

It was a hard task for the judges, who had to whittle down nearly 400 entries to a list of their favourite twenty five. These lists were then amalgamated to form the shortlist that we posted earlier in the week, and from this they had to chose their top tens. Again we put the lists together, and from that has emerged this final list of winners. 

I'm sure you will agree that these are ten really wonderful micro-stories, but we'd like to send out our congratulations to all of you who entered, for making the judges work so hard. So many wonderful stories - thank you!

Next week we will be opening entries for this year's anthology, which will also feature all of these stories, so stay tuned for that, but let me not hold you in suspense any longer. Here are the results:



FIRST PLACE WINNER:
‘Never Let Me Go’ by Cathy Lennon

SECOND PLACE WINNER:
‘Night-time Knitting’ by Roz Mascall

THIRD PLACE WINNER:
‘If Kissed by a Dragon Fish by Tania Hershman

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
‘Dare by Simon Sylvester
‘The Star Falling’ by Morgan Downie
‘Sintra’ by Parineeta Singh
‘The Sponge Diver by Danielle McLaughlin
‘Peppermint’ by Jennifer Harvey
‘The Invisible Girl’ by Karl A Russell
‘4am by Angi Holden


STORIES:

FIRST PLACE WINNER:
'Never Let Me Go' by Cathy Lennon

First it was cartons and tins on the worktops, then newspapers on the stairs. Each window-sill sparkled with tin foil. He made me a necklace of ring-pulls and bottle tops. Like swans we perched on our bundles of rags and flattened boxes, smoothing the creases from wrappers. The hallway was Manhattan, a canyon of towering piles. Across the no man’s land in our bedroom our fingertips would touch, until one day they couldn’t anymore. From the other side, perplexed, he watched the tears slide down my face. He threw me two empty film canisters to catch them in.



SECOND PLACE WINNER:
'Night-time Knitting' by Roz Mascall

A gorilla is living in my cupboard. Every night, he swaggers onto my bed and waits for me to wake-up. I pretend to be asleep but hear his knitting needles clicking together. He is making a very long scarf for me. Squinting at him from under my blanket, I see his huge hairy hands scratch his scalp in disappointment. He looks sad. A pang of guilt hits me. I sit up and he hands me a ball of pink wool. His watery eyes meet my gaze. He is lonely. We lean against each other and knit until sunrise.



THIRD PLACE WINNER:
'If Kissed by a Dragon Fish' by Tania Hershman

If kissed by a dragonfish, do not bite. If kissed by a dragonfish, make sure you are sitting. Do not worry during the kiss, before the kiss, or after. Do not worry about a scale or two between your teeth. The dragonfish's skin is armoured but its heart beats loud and soft. You will not forget the kiss. You will not forget the coolness of the dragonfish's breath inside your lungs. You will look down through the floor of glass and see nothing, swimming. You will part, like an ocean, and on your sea bed you will pearl.



'Dare' by Simon Sylvester

Every day that summer, we played Dare. On hot afternoons we escaped the sun by hiding in the fort. We ate apples and counted pips and swapped secrets. We sat close, damp with sweat, bare skin sticking. She traced her fingers up my leg. Her fingertips whispered inside my thigh, and my breath caught in my throat.

She always chickened out. I taunted her, urging her higher, but she always chickened out before me.

When that summer was finished, we went back to school. We don’t really talk any more.

I heard she started playing Dare with boys.



'The Star, Falling' by Morgan Downie

When his eyes grew so bad that he could no longer see the horizon he built an artificial one in his garden. Afterwards he persisted in a stubborn refusal to cross it in case he should fall off the edge of the world. Asked, on reflection, if he had realised his intention as a younger man, to live the brief and fiery life of a meteor, he looked out across the universe of his garden, to the wife he still loved indescribably and said,

‘I am a meteor, just moving very, very slowly.’



'Sintra' by Parineeta Singh

I have followed you to this small town. I have walked the same cobblestones that you once trod on. I have stood on those hilltops in the mist you spoke of. I have felt it as smoke in my throat. The air I now exhale was the air you once breathed in. But this is not love; it is nowhere close to it. Love was the time when I put my ear to the flagstones listening for your footfall.



'The Sponge Diver' by Danielle McLaughlin

They knew each other a month when he told her about his Greek grandfather who, as a young man, had been a sponge diver. She closed her eyes, saw a figure – lithe, tanned  –  dive naked from a boat in the blue Aegean. He surfaced, water glittering silver on his skin, as if a shoal of tiny fish had followed him.

Opening her eyes, she noticed how her lover was most unlike a sponge diver.

After it ended, she bought a sea sponge, yellow and pocked. She sat it on her desk at work, and thought about his grandfather.



'Peppermint' by Jennifer Harvey

Afterwards, he thought about the gum stuck underneath the desk. It would still be there.

Every morning he watched as she slipped a finger in her mouth and prised it out, acting coy, though he knew she was aware of him.

Once, she’d looked him in the eye, stretched the gum between her teeth and let it snap, like a flirtatious wink.

He slid his fingers under the rim. It was still there.

Picking it loose, he popped it in his mouth.

It was fragrant, peppermint fresh.  A taste of her he could keep and roll across his tongue.



'The Invisible Girl' by Karl A Russell

It should have been an accident, Mel always thought. Something sciencey and catastrophic. Experimental bombs, or maybe the bite of an irradiated marmoset. That's how it used to happen in the comics anyway; A good dose of cosmic waves transformed you.

And everyone loved you.

Even the villains.

But there were no sciencey accidents in the real world. All it took to make Mel invisible was a split lip, or a black eye, or a few raised voices on a Saturday night, just after chucking out time.

And then, for just a little while, no-one could see her.



'4am' by Angi Holden

I open the bedroom curtains.

Dawn seeps across the horizon. The long grass beneath the hive glistens with dew. Hand-trimming takes patience; this summer I’ve neglected the garden.

I straighten the sheet across your chest. The air cradles the sour milk and vinegar scent of the sickroom.

Downstairs, I fumble with the lock, step into the morning. My slippers absorb the damp. No matter, I have a task to perform. Before I call the doctor, your sister, our son.

I walk down the path, your black crepe bowtie dangling from my hand. There is news I must tell the bees.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

NFFD 2014 - Micro-Fiction Competition Shortlist

Hello all,

Just a very quick post today. We are pleased to announce that our hard-pressed judges have been beavering away and we now have a shortlist of 26 stories for our competition from which the winning 10 will be chosen.

The final decisions are being made as we speak, and as long as all goes to plan, we hope to announce the list of winners on Friday of this week - 11th April 2014, so spread the word and come back on Friday.

In the meantime, congratulations to all who made it down to this shortlist of 26. We received nearly four hundred entries this year, so to get even this far is a huge achievement. The judges have had a hard time choosing these stories, and I'm seriously worried that narrowing it down to only 10 might just finally break them. Assuming it doesn't, come back on Friday to find out who has won!

See you then,
Calum.

SHORTLIST:

'4am' by Angi Holden
'A Story To Be Read Slowly And With Ample Pauses, In A Voice Like Leonard Cohen' by Bob Jacobs
'Dare' by Simon Sylvester
'Elk Back' by Peggy Riley
'Gathering' by Sam Russell
'Harry on A.V.' by Brindley Hallam Dennis
'If Kissed by a Dragon Fish' by Tania Hershman
'Illuminated Relationship' by Jane Roberts
'Literary Costume' by Isabel Rogers
'Little Red' by Neil Murton
'Moments' by Natalie Bowers
'Never Let Me Go' by Cathy Lennon
'Night-time Knitting' by Roz Mascall
'On the rocks' by Francis Hayes
'Peppermint' by Jennifer Harvey
'Secret Admirer' by Clare Kirwan
'Sintra' by Parineeta Singh
'Sleepwalkers' by Pauline Masurel
'String of Smiles' by Allie Rogers
'The Dolls' by L. D. Lapinski
'The Human Body is More than 50% Water' by Żelazko Połysk
'The Invisible Girl' by Karl A Russell
'The Sponge Diver' by Danielle McLaughlin
'The Star Falling' by Morgan Downie
'The Strongest Man' by Elaine Borthwick
'Towards the Light' by Rebecca Swirsky

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Bulletin 05/02/2014

Hello everyone!

Welcome to the first Bulletin of 2014. I hope you are all keeping well and your flash-fiction activities have been running smoothly since we last spoke.

This will be a quick message, as we are just starting to gear up for getting ready for this year's day. However we do have a few messages, and a call for entries to our annual Micro-Fiction competition.

First, I need to direct you to our new website (http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/). It's similar to the old - the same information - but with a shiny new look courtesy of a new logo from Charlotte Henson Design (https://www.facebook.com/charlottehensondesign) and a whole new site courtesy of Tim Stevenson. Many, many thanks to them both. 

Second is, of course, to tell you that the date for this year's NFFD will be Saturday 21st June, so it's time to start planning your event and thinking about what you will do to celebrate this year's day. Send us your information as soon as you have it, and we'll list it on the site.

And, of course, that is true for anything else that you think we need to list on the site - flash-fiction magazines and websites, new authors, or whatever. Please send it through and we will add it and spread the word.

Finally for this bulletin, and the item you have all been waiting for, it's time to announce that we are now open to submissions for this year's Micro-Fiction competition. The word limit is, once again, 100 words, and the closing date is Sunday 9th March, so you have a little over a month to get us your stories. Full details are on the website at http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/comp.html

Prizes will once again be supplied by our sponsors, Salt Publishing, Comma Press and Gumbo Press, and we have an illustrious panel of judges comprising: Carys Bray, Cathy Bryant, Kevlin Henney, Jonathan Pinnock, Angela Readman and Tim Stevenson. 

You will notice that this year we have had to introduce a charge for entering the competition. This decision was not taken lightly, but it has been necessary in order to fund the activities of NFFD, not least the production of our now traditional anthology. We have, however, done our best to keep the cost to a minimum (and lower than many other similar competitions) and we promise not to squander the money on sweets and fizzy pop. Payments are via PayPal, but if you don't have an account with them, you can still use an ordinary credit or debit card. Of course, if you have any problems, please do get in touch.

And that's it for now. Go and have a look at the new site, get thinking about what you are going to do for the day, and start sending us your micro-fictions, we can't wait to read them!

More soon, as and when we have it. Until then, be well.

All best
Calum Kerr


(If you wish to subscribe to this bulletin, please send an email to nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com and we'll add you straight away.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Shipshape and Bristol Flashing by Kevlin Henney

[We asked Kevlin Henney to talk about the Bristol NFFD workshop and readings which served as the main events for this year's day. He said 'yes' and here it is...]


Isn't it odd, I thought, that there are no flash-related events in Bristol on National Flash-Fiction Day? This was 2012, the first National Flash-Fiction Day was happening and Bristol — a happening place in terms of flash fiction, judging by theKissing Frankenstein & Other Stories collection and the number of local authors flashing their short shorts — seemed to be marking the day with a curious lack of happening on the day. How come?

And what was I doing on NFFD 2012 instead? Driving from Bristol to Oxford to slam flash at the first flash slam, presided over by renowned flash author Tania Hershman, who also lives in Bristol. We were there because Oxford was one of the places where things were happening... but by being there, we weren't in Bristol.

The penny dropped. If I wanted something to happen in Bristol for NFFD 2013, then I might have to (1) suggest it and (2) help organise it. A group of us — me, Tania,Sarah HilaryPauline Masurel and Deborah Rickard — got together to make it so.

This year's NFFD was the day after the summer solstice, following the shortest night with a day of the shortest fiction, which conveniently placed it on a Saturday. Convenient until you realise that if you're planning an event on a Saturday in summer, you're also competing with weddings and the like for event space. We reckoned on a couple of events, an afternoon writing workshop and an evening reading event, and through trial and error and luck and generosity found venues for both. Bristol Central Library generously gave us the use of a meeting room for the afternoon and The Lansdown pub in Clifton has an upstairs space with great ambience and decent acoustics.

To really make sure we got NFFD to happen in Bristol, we managed to persuade Mr NFFD, Calum Kerr, to join us for the day. Tania and Calum took the afternoon workshop, leading twenty people — the room's stated capacity! — through discussion and critique, reading and writing, and tea and coffee. The evening brought rainshine, thirteen readers and a room of people ready for a goodnight story or two.

One of the best things about flash spoken-word events is the range and number of stories and readers you can pack in. After five minutes of most short stories you're often still in the foothills of the story; with flash, you've been taken to the peaks of one, two or three whole stories, and you're on to the next reader. Not sure if a story is to your liking? Like buses, wait a couple of minutes and another will be along. But there were no duff stories or readers. In addition to the motley organisers and Calum, we had readings from Anna BrittenKen ElkesPaul McVeighNick Parker,Jonathan PinnockClare Reddaway and Tim Stevenson. Calum also read a couple of stories by other authors from Scraps, the hot-off-the-press NFFD anthology.

Was it good? Was it fun? Do you wish you'd been there? See for yourself. Hope to see you in Bristol next year!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Post-Match Roundup

Well, hello everyone,

It's been just over a week since The Day, so I thought I would catch you up with what happened then and what has happened since. 

Of course, we launched our new anthology, Scraps, and that has done incredibly well. We have exactly 5 copies left from our original printings. 

However, we also have it on Kindle and now, as a print-on-demand book from Amazon, so it will be available in print for ever! (It says 'out of stock' but if you order one, they print it and send it, so don't be put off.) This last option might be more attractive for those outside the UK as it will result in reduced postage costs, especially in the US, and even more so if you get free shipping from Amazon Prime.

If you are interested in any of those versions of the book, then the links are:


(With the Amazon links, change the .co.uk to .com or whatever, for your local site.)


We also, of course, had FlashFlood running throughout the day. It was about 140 stories long, making a rate of one every 10 minutes or so. You can still read all the stories, and those from previous issues, at FlashFlood


And then, there were the events. I was at Bristol, where a wonderful time was had by all, but much else was happening. Below is a range of blog links to fill you in on other happenings - reviews, stories posted, all kinds of things!


'The Monster Under My Bed' - Ro Smith

NFFD Shrewsbury - Pauline Fisk

Stories from Shrewsbury

'Final Words' - Damon Lord

NFFD - Katy Wheatley

NFFD Bristol - Grace Palmer

Flash-Mob

NEW Flash Fiction Competition from December House

Flash Fiction on Youtube - Marc Nash

Edinburgh Evening News 

NFFD - D Thomas Minton

'Dry Throat' - Lucy Montague Moffatt

NFFD - Dave Hartley



On a more personal note, NFFD saw the launch of my first full length collection, Lost Property. To celebrate its publication I have set off on a blog tour where I will be posting stories, being interviewed and writing articles about NFFD, my writing, and my thoughts on Flash-Fiction in general. If you think that might be interesting, you can follow the tour on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostPropertyCalumKerr.



And so, all that is left is to to wrap the ribbon around this year's day and call it finished. Thank you to all who helped with the various activities, to all the writers and organisers of events and competitions, and to all the readers who make what we do so worthwhile.

Specific thanks from me must go to:

The Micro-Fiction Competition judges:
Cathy Bryant, Tom Gillespie, Kevlin Henney, Emma Lannie, Kirsty Logan and Angela Readman.

My co-editor on Scraps, Holly Howitt. And Amy Mackelden who did all the real work. Without her, the book just wouldn't have happened!

To Tim Stevenson for website and book cover design help.

To Kevlin Henney (again!) for organising such a great event in Bristol. 

And, of course, to the good Lady Flash, Kath Kerr, for help and support beyond all reason, with NFFD and everything else.


And, that's it, I'll go now before I start weeping and thanking God.

Have a good year, keep your eyes peeled for all things flash, some of which are likely to come from us, spread the word about the books and everything we do, and put the date of 21st June 2014 into your diaries now!

All best

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Announcing December House's Flash Fiction Fest 2013 competition

As a publisher we're delighted to be associated with National Flash Fiction Day. For so many of our authors, the short form is where they honed their craft and polished their storytelling skills and for that reason, amongst many others, we are big supporters of Flash Fiction.

Last September, when December House was just a fledgling start-up, we were approached by three fantastic writers who had an idea they were calling "Four Weeks of Flash Fiction". We loved their work and agreed to bring the project under the December House banner and to promote and publish it. As a result Flash Fiction Fest was born.

From day one we'd always planned to make it an annual event, and so this November we'll be doing it all again. This year the theme is "The 7 Deadly Sins" and every day we'll be  publishing a number of pieces of Flash Fiction, both at FlashFictionFest.com and on Wattpad. The entire collection will also be available as an e-book.

We've already got 8 of our authors lined up to take part, but we also want to open it up to the wider writing community. So today we're launching a competition to find the best three pieces of Flash Fiction on the theme "The 7 Deadly Sins".

The Prize
The December House team will read every entry, and the writer judged to have the best three stories will see them included in Flash Fiction Fest 2013, and the e-book of the event (for which they'll also be paid royalties). 

The winner will also have the chance to work with our editor on a novel, with the intention being to prepare it for publication by December House.

How to Enter
To enter you'll need to upload your three pieces (which must be under 1,000 words each) to WattPad and tag them "FlashFictionFest". 

There are full instructions on www.FlashFictionFest.com, and you can see some examples from last year's event on the December House Wattpad page.

Want to know more?
Visit www.FlashFictionFest.com or follow us on Twitter and ask us a question.

Happy National Flash-Fiction Day!

Good Morning, and Happy National Flash-Fiction Day,

Yes, the day is finally here and there is plenty going on.

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, then you have almost certainly seen the torrent of words which is FlashFlood http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.co.uk/. They are pouring out at a rate of almost one every 10 minutes right through till midnight. Lots of great stories. Enjoy, comment, and share!

In other virtual realms, we have a selection of ebooks, including last year's anthology, Jawbreakers, which will be free this weekend. http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/kindle.html (Although, at the time of writing, the price promotion hasn't kicked in. That's Amazon, not us, so keep your eyes on the books, they WILL be free soon!)

And, of course, this year's anthology, Scraps, is now available on Kindle too (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scraps-ebook/dp/B00DEFT5ZY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1371886611&sr=8-4&keywords=calum+kerr). 

If you download any of these books, it would be wonderful if you could leave a review. They do make a difference.

Scraps, the paperback book, after a slight delay at the printers. has now officially arrived. It will be available at the Bristol events (more below) and any pre-orders will be shipped on Monday. You can order your copy, and more, at http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/shop.html.

And, what else? Well, as mentioned above, there are a couple of events happening in Bristol today - a workshop I shall be co-leading with Tania Hershman, and a reading this evening with loads of great writers. I shall be at both, so do come along it would be great to see you. 

And a host of other events are getting underway, including events in Abergavenny and Manchester which have been added in the last couple of days. 


Apart from that, it just remains for me to thank you all for your continued support, to wish you a very happy National Flash-Fiction Day and to hope you will enjoy it and spend at least some time writing those tiny gems which have brought us together again. And please, send us anything you write, whether a blog post, a story, a review of an event, or whatever. We will post them over the coming days and weeks, or share the link (if it is a link). We want to know how you have celebrated the day and then share it with others.

Happy NFFD!
All best
Calum Kerr, Director