From LGBTQ+ With Love: The Fight Back Flash Competition

Dearest compatriots, collaborators, friends, foes, gentlepeople, unicorns (both sparkly and plain), folkingtons, allies and everyone in between and either side and up and down and diagonal and round and round the whole glorious spectrum of humanity.

You may have heard about a rather unpleasant exclusionary flash fiction competition that’s been doing the rounds on Twitter lately. Not just exclusionary, but implying members of the LGBTQ+ community are somehow comparable to scenes of graphic violence or torture. Yeah. Not exactly what we want to see from a writing competition in 2018.

But you cannot fight hate with hate. The answer is love. Only love and always love. Whatever damn kind of love you’re into. Because love knows no bounds, people.

And so. Writers’ HQ are running a flash fiction competition on the theme: From LGBTQ+ With Love, with all proceeds going to MindOut, a mental health service for LGBTQ+ people.

Specifically, we want your LGBTQ+ stories, your stories of love, grace and compassion (and most importantly your creative swearing). Here’s the lowdown in a handy bullet list – click here for the full rules, FAQs and entry form:

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES HERE!

LGBTQ+ flash competition

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Reflex Fiction Summer 2018 Winners!

Winter 2018 - Reflex Fiction - Flash Fiction Competition - ShortStops

Reflex Fiction is a quarterly international flash fiction competition for stories between 180 and 360 words. We publish one story every day as we count down to the winner of each competition.

Summer 2018 Winners

At the end of September we published the three winning stories from our Summer 2018 flash fiction competition as chosen by Sherrie Flick. Here are the winners and links to the stories:

First Place: Crowbar by Lyndsay Wheble
Second Place: Consanguinity by Fiona J Mackintosh
Third Place: Skin by Donna L Greenwood

You can read Sherrie’s thoughts on the winning stories here.

Autumn 2018 Long-List

We’ve also just published the long-list for our Autumn 2018 competition and have started publishing stories as we count down to the announcement of the winners at the end of December.

Winter 2018 Open for Entries

We’re also accepting entries for our Winter 2018 competition. Here are the important details:

Prizes: £1,000 first, £500 second, £250 third (or the equivalent in your local currency)
Entry Fee: £7 / $9 / €9
Entries close: 30 November 2018
Judge: David Swann

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY

 

ALL-FEMALE SHORTLIST FOR THIRTEENTH BBC NATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD AS FORMER WINNER SARAH HALL IS NOMINATED FOR THIRD TIME

Sarah Hall, prize-winning novelist and short story writer, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University for the third time for ‘Sudden Traveller’. She won the award in 2013 for ‘Mrs Fox’ and was shortlisted for the first time in 2010 for ‘Butcher’s Perfume’. Both stories appeared in her debut collection, The Beautiful Indifference.

Hall is joined on the shortlist by composer and debut novelist Kerry Andrew for ‘To Belong To’, Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner and debut novelist Ingrid Persaud for ‘The Sweet Sop’, rising talent Kiare Ladner for ‘Van Rensburg’s Card’ and creative writing lecturer and novelist Nell Stevens for ‘The Minutes’. The shortlist of five stories was announced this evening, Friday 14 September 2018, during BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Selected from nearly 800 entries (an increase of 28% on 2017), this year’s shortlist is the fifth all-female shortlist in the BBC National Short Story Award’s history. The shortlist is:

• ‘To Belong To’ by Kerry Andrew
• ‘Sudden Traveller’ by Sarah Hall
• ‘Van Rensburg’s Card’ by Kiare Ladner
• ‘The Sweet Sop’ by Ingrid Persaud
• ‘The Minutes’ by Nell Stevens


Now celebrating its thirteenth year, the Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and the four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are also broadcast on air and the writers interviewed on Front Row, as part of BBC Radio 4’s short story season in September.

Simple acts of kindness and the meaning of home and community are key themes this year. Resilience and the impact of the political on the personal underpin a list unified by the power of each character’s voice to convey experience both private and universal. Loss, whether of life or community, and renewal are central themes with many of the stories inspired by world events: Brexit, immigration and urban gentrification. Diverse in tone and setting, whether it be Kerry Andrew’s remote Scottish Isle, Ingrid Persaud’s Trinidad, Kiare Ladner’s South African shopping mall or Nell Steven’s South London housing estate – this year’s shortlist is a powerful meditation on a world where displacement and loss are paramount but where renewal and hope are infinite.

From the gently unfurling landscape of a man’s renewal as he moves from suicidal despair to new hope saved by the beauty of the land and sea and the community that embraces him in Kerry Andrew’s ‘To Belong To’; to the experimental form of the pretentious world of hapless art student activists as they protest the demolition of a South London tower block with art in ‘The Minutes’ by Nell Stevens; to the unique voice of Ingrid Persaud’s ‘The Sweet Sop’ where the parent/child relationship is inverted as a young Trinidadian man is united with his absent father via the power of chocolate; to the haunting and tender evocation of loss as Sarah Hall creates a complete world in a moment as a woman nurses her child while her father and brother clear the cemetery ready to bury her mother in ‘Sudden Traveller’; to Kiare Ladner’s ‘Van Rensburg’s Card’, the poignant story of a grumpy widow, fuelled by sadness and loneliness who discovers a way back to life and an acceptance of the inevitability of change via a condolence card sent 18 months before – these are beautifully told stories that show what it is to be human amidst the politics of our age and artfully reveal the power of the short story to convey a world in just a few pages.

Stig Abell, Editor of the TLS and Chair of Judges for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018, says:

“We spent a long, hot summer immersed in stories, and then many happy hours debating their
merits. My fellow judges were fierce and forensic in their reading, and we ended up with a shortlist
of tales that – I think – are arresting, moving and sometimes surprising. It was a pleasure to bear
witness to this talent.”

Stig Abell is joined on this year’s judging panel by short story writer and 2016 BBC NSSA winner, K J Orr; Granta’s ’20 under 40’ novelist and one of last year’s shortlisted writers, Benjamin Markovits; returning judge; Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio; and multi award-winning poet, Sarah Howe.

The announcement of the winner will be broadcast live from the Award ceremony in Cambridge on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on Tuesday 2nd October 2018.

 

12 Writing Tips To Get You Started

As Anne Frank poignantly wrote: “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Writing can be an incredible outlet, but sometimes there are stumbling blocks along the way.

Which is why the team at READ Foundation has put together a list of 12 Writing Tips to Get You Started.

Children writing in a classroom

READ is an education charity which builds schools and enables children from poverty-stricken backgrounds to access schooling. We’re currently running a writing competition for short stories, poems and personal essays which will inspire children in their educational path. Scroll down for more details on how to enter.

The charity has gathered the best tips from well-known writers, blogs and the wider web to help writers in their pursuit of the perfect prose.

  1. Write from the heart. A book without a pulse is like a person without a spirit. – Linda F Rad
  2. We love the tips in this Guardian article on the Top 10 Writers’ Tips on Writing. Particularly this one from Katherine Mansfield: “Looking back I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.”
  3. Enter competitions, send off examples to agents, read up on literacy festivals to attend, join writing clubs either locally or online – research as many places as you can which can help you on your writing journey, whether the aim is to get published, receive feedback, or simply learn more about the writing process from the people who do it professionally.
  4. Write on a computer which is disconnected from the internet (after you’ve finished reading this blog, obviously). It’s a distraction you can do without.
  5. The “show don’t tell” mentality is well-known for a good reason: it’s true. As fiction author Anton Chekhov puts it: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
  6. Oxford Dictionaries has some excellent general advice on better writing, whether it’s a letter, speech, email or something more creative. We like the tip “guide readers through what you write”. The advice is to “help readers understand your message quickly and precisely. To do this, it is necessary to show them clearly how the different parts relate to each other.”
  7. How about a writing tip from a Nobel winning author? Alice Munro, who was given the Nobel for Literature in 2013, has spent most of her writing life focussing on short stories. She said: “Usually I have a lot of acquaintance with the story before I start writing it….stories would just be working in my head for so long that when I started to write I was deep into them.”
  8. Proofread proofread proofread. It’s relly obviously when a sentennce has speling errors in it. If you’re entering a writing competition, judges may penalise you for the errors and it could mean the difference between winning or losing a contest.
  9. Write, even when you don’t feel like it. Get into the habit of writing on a regular basis. If you can commit to writing for a certain amount of time each day, for 30 days, it’ll soon become second nature. About 30-40 days is all you need to make a new habit stick.
  10. Recognise it’s not just your characters that are human – you are too! So if you have periods of struggle, you’re not alone. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  11. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Julie Duffy, founder of Story a Day, says “Don’t wait to write until you’re older/wiser/invited to the party. Don’t wait until you have something ‘important’ to say.” Other experts have revealed their best writing tips for beginners.
  12. Enjoy the process! It’s a journey you’ll be proud you’ve taken. Good luck!

While you’re here, we have some exciting news for you. Education charity READ Foundation is running its very first writing competition and needs people like YOU to take part. Read all about it here. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, 10thOctober 2018.

Introducing the Flash Fiction Forum

Flash Fiction Forum - Reflex Fiction - ShortStops
Reflex Fiction is a quarterly international flash fiction competition for stories between 180 and 360 words. We publish one story every day as we count down to the winner of each competition.

Flash Fiction Forum

We’re very excited to announce a new feature on our website: the flash fiction forum – a place to share advice, ask questions, discuss stories and share your success. To celebrate the launch, we’re giving away ten free entries to our competition. Head over to the forum page for more details on how you could win a free shot our £1,000 prize.

Autumn 2018 Open for Entries

The entry period for our Autumn 2018 competition closes in one month. Here are the important details:

Prizes: £1,000 first, £500 second, £250 third (or the equivalent in your local currency)
Entry Fee: £7 / $9 / €9
Entries close: August 31, 2018
Judge: Annemarie Neary

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY

The John O’Connor Writing School Short Story Competition 2018

 

“The world of John O’Connor is a world of the freshly snedded turnip, the new-sawn plank, the sod shining under the plough. His gift is to render the life of the Mill Row in Armagh as deftly and definitively as Steinbeck renders Cannery Row or Bob Dylan Desolate Row”

Paul Muldoon

The John O’Connor Writiing School and Literary Arts Festival, sponsored and supported by internationally renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Paul Muldoon, has a two-fold purpose. It aims to to celebrate and commemorate the life and works of John O’Connor as well as offering practical guidance and assistance to aspiring writers through its workshops and master classes in the various literary genres and writing for commercial purposes.

Entries are currently invited from aspiring writers for the third John O’Connor Short Story Competition. It is being held to commemorate the Armagh born writer whose impressive literary legacy includes a collection of short stories which still retain a timeless appeal.

Prize

The prize winner will be awarded a full bursary to attend the John O’ Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival which will be held in Armagh from 1st to 4th November, 2018, plus a cash prize of £250. The bursary prize allows the recipient to enjoy all events in the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Festival 2018, and to attend one class in the writing genre of his/her choice. The winner will be notified by 2 October.

The winning entrant will be formally announced at the opening of the Writing school on Friday 2nd November, and will have the opportunity to read at an event on Sunday 4th November 2018. Single room accommodation will be available free of charge to the winning entrant.

Ts & Cs

The competition is open to those 16 years and over. Short stories must be the original work of the author and not previously published or have received awards in other competitions. Entries must be in English and between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length. There is an entry fee of £10. One entry per person. Submit your entry online by 12.00 noon on 28 August 2018.

Find full terms and conditions, and online entry form on http://thejohnoconnorwritingschool.com

A word from previous winners:

“I won the inaugural John O’Connor Short Story Competition in 2016, the news delivered to me via a lovely phone call from Cathy McCullough, a personal touch which is one of the things that makes the weekend so special. I had started writing in 2014, and the win gave me a sense of validation that is so nourishing and necessary for a new writer. That year I attended Bernie McGill’s brilliant prose workshops, which generated an idea for a novel, and Stewart Neville’s masterclass. Last year Martina Devlin facilitated the prose workshops, and again I went away full of ideas for new work. The win also gave me opportunities to read my own work in public, a prospect I once found appalling which I now actually enjoy. My stories have won other prizes, but the John O’Connor win is the one that keeps on giving. “

Louise Kennedy, 2016 winner

“Thanks to the JOCWS I have made contact with an agent who is willing to read it [her novel] when it is ready… I hope all goes as well this year as last and I will certainly be coming along to the writing workshops again. I found them really useful. “

Roisin Maguire, 2017 winner

Thieves and New Contest Themes

new themes 2 copyOur next contest deadline is July the 28th, and we also have new monthly themes for other A3 Review contests till November. We’re looking for short fiction, mini essays, poetry and artwork on the theme of Ears, Hats and Triangles, for example.

Visit our Submittable page for all the details.

The next theme is Thieves. Hearts, heists, identities, or apricots from a neighbour’s tree. We like work that feels immediate and edgy, so check out the prompts and start creating now! We welcome submissions from around the world.

Three winners per issue receive cash prizes, and all monthly winners receive contributor copies, back issues and Writing Maps. All the details are here.

You can read some of the work that we feature in The A3 Review on our Instagram page.

Any questions, please do write to us at a3 [at] writingmaps.com