February Round-Up II

Hello story lovers,
As February continues wetter and windier, here are some glimmers of light as we strain towards spring…!

Lit Mags, Competitions and Workshops
We welcome a new lit mag to the list, Valve, an annual journal dedicated to “the very best new experimental literature”.  We have ShortStops’ first lit mag review – Rosalind Minette gives us her impression of The Grind Issue #1! (If you fancy reviewing a lit mag, drop me a line).

Talking of reviews, Bare Fiction is looking for contributors to its Features and Reviews section. It’s last Call for submissions to Tube-Flash – you have until Feb 28th! The Siren journal is calling for submissions for its first short story anthology.

brand new issue of Flash magazine, issue 6.2, has arrived, with new short short stories, reviews and a flash essay. And the February edition of Long Story, Short is ‘Hand Me Downs’ by Kelly Creighton – read an excerpt.

Brittle Star magazine is holding an Open Writing Competition, judged by the excellent David Constantine, deadline March 12th, and The Edge Hill Prize for published short story collections is now accepting entries, until the first week of March. Short Fiction’s 2014 short story prize is still open for entries, deadline March 31st, and you have until June 30th to submit to the Moth International Short Story Prize.

Live Lit & Short Story Events
For small short story fans, White Rabbit is presenting its new storytelling show for children, The Secret Garden, at the South Bank in London Feb 21- 32rd. White Rabbit is back on Feb 28th with Are You Sitting Comfortably? Science Fiction (for grown-ups!) in London.

On March 1st Myths of the Near Future will be holding a launch event for Issue 5: The Revolution Issue in Worcester.  The next Hubbub is on March 10th in London and features Zoe Pilger and Liane Strauss. Telltales wants your submissions by March 17th on the theme of ‘Unhinged’ to be read at their next event in Falmouth on March 25th.

You missed Open Pen’s launch event on Feb 13th – keep an eye out for the next one! But don’t miss In Praise Of Short Stories at the Daunt Books Festival on March 27th in London, where KJ Orr will be talking to AL Kennedy, David Constantine and Helen Simpson.

Last Minutes & Gentle Reminders
The National Flash Fiction Youth competition is open for entries til Feb 21st.  Smoke, the London Peculiar, is calling for submissions until end February for their London water-themed short story anthology, Smoke on the Water. Riptide Journal is open for submissions for Volume 10, on the theme of ‘Imaging the Suburbs’, deadline March 1. Also open til March 1st are submissions to Neon Magazine of tiny fictions for a new project, Battery Pack.

Writing, Publishing & Workshops
The creators of On The Same Page have launched a crowdfunding campaign to finish development of the app which will allow you to publish your own creative work as an app. And check out the Writers’ Centre Norwich’s upcoming short story workshops.

Roll on spring!

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On The Same Page campaign launches

In a follow-up from my post in December about the On The Same Page app template (a simple, elegant design for publishing text/image collaborations digitally), I’m excited to announce that the two.5  crowdfunding campaign is now live.

We’re trying to raise £2,975 to cover the final production costs for the app template. As I type this we’re 10 days into the campaign and have already raised 68% of our goal. Any contribution – however large or small – will help us towards making that 100%.

In return for contributions we’ve put together some perks which might be of interest to ShortStops enthusiasts. They range from professionally recorded audio stories to editorial feedback on a short story/novel extract of up to 5,000 words. Also up for grabs are invitations to be a beta-tester for the app, postcard sets, portrait photoshoots in New York, and exclusive creative commissions. Perhaps the perk I’m most proud of is our Software Files.

    On The Same Page mock-up    On The Same Page mock-upOn The Same Page mock-up

On The Same Page mock-up

For a donation of £300 (or above…) you’ll receive a licensed copy of our software files for On The Same Page, allowing you to publish your creative work as an app. Your license allows you unlimited use of the files, so you can use it for as many of your personal projects as you wish, and contributors will receive free upgrades for life as we continue to develop the template in the future.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘actually, what I’d find really useful in exchange for a contribution would be [XYZ]’ then email us – viccyandsamantha@gmail.com – and Samantha and I will see if it’s feasible for us to tailor-make you a perk of your choice. We’re also available for interviews, and generally keen to get in touch with other digital collaboration enthusiasts to swap trade-secrets and find out what other people are up to.

Happy National Short Story Day 2013!

The christening of a particular date as being ‘National [insert name here] Day’ is always a bit of a cheesy, cringe-worthy affair. After all, you don’t need a licence to declare a day National anything, and just recently, what might have been fun in the beginning is now getting quite tiresome – I mean, come on, National Hug Your Boss Day? Or even more ridiculous, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day? Not that ice cream isn’t awesome but there’s really no need for the entire British population to give a platform to a frozen dessert. Or hug their boss.

Comma logo high res 2

That said, sometimes there is a precedence for these events, and in December 2010 Comma Press decided to start up a little project of our own which we called ‘National Short Story Day’. It was held on the 21st of the month to coincide with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Clever, eh?

So if the ‘National this’ and ‘National that’ business is all a bit redundant, why did we decide to do it? Well to start with, Comma is the most prolific hard copy publisher of short fiction in the UK, and aside from the odd poetry collection here and there we do nothing else but short stories. And secondly, there is actually a deep-rooted tradition in Britain of story-telling at winter time. Dickens himself edited a weekly magazine called Household Words during the 1850s, which as well as the serialisations of novels, also consisted of Christmas-themed stories which were published in the seasonal issues. This idea continued with MR James and his Christmas Eve ghost story ‘entertainments’ in the early twentieth century, where he would read his work aloud to friends in one of the rooms at King’s College, Cambridge, probably in front of a fireplace. This performative element – the delivery to a room full of listeners – carried forth Poe’s vision of the short story and what was so good about it – that it could be read in a ‘single sitting’. These performances eventually transcended to the BBC with TV adaptations and dramatised readings throughout the 70s, 80s, and a revival in the noughties which featured usual suspect Christopher Lee in a candle-lit room reading selected James stories.

But – the main reason behind the National Short Story Day project was simply to offer a non-commercial alternative to the pre-Christmas chaos; to persuade people to drop the stress of shopping and wrapping and decorating, (and the anxiety over what to buy that aunt you see once a year but who’s coming for dinner on the 25th so you best have a present ready) – just for a moment, and do something different. Something that doesn’t require your money; just your appreciation.

NSSD logo adapted

Initially, it started small. 2010 saw three events held in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. In 2011, we didn’t hold any events but we ran an all-day social media campaign on our SSD Facebook page and through the @ShortStoryDay Twitter account using the hashtag #nssd, promoting the new website at www.nationalshortstoryday.co.uk. The site, which has grown in terms of content since its launch, contained video footage of short story readings, recommendations (we now have over 200) from editors, publishers, authors, translators and others who work with literature, and a vast range of links to short story resources including organisations and groups, public domain audiobooks and podcasts, apps, publications etc… We also ran a ‘tweet a story in 10 words or less’ competition which proves to be increasingly popular every year (Timothy Spall and his wife Shane even tweeted at us from their barge!), and gave free Comma books as prizes to the top five entries.

In June 2012, we went global. Riding on the high of London 2012, and the BBC Short Story Award becoming the International Short Story Award that year for the first time ever to coincide with the Olympics, we decided to have two short story days – one in winter (shortest day) and the other in summer on the shortest night of the year, usually the 20th or 21st June. It was our most successful project to date. Reaching out to our already established contacts in the UK and in Europe (colleagues and friends of Jim Hinks, Translation Editor here at Comma and co-founder of the European Short Story Network) and sourcing out new ones, we managed to get so many people involved that 20 events took place all over the world on the 20th June, plus three more organised by us personally in Manchester, London and Glasgow.  There are too many collaborative partners to name here, but the response was truly touching, with friends and strangers alike running their own short story themed events in Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Minneapolis, New York, Zadar, Belgrade, Cape Town, Botswana, and Johannesburg. We also received an influx of short story reading recommendations for the website from international writers, so the list expanded into something far more culturally diverse, championing our long-held belief that the short form is an international one. Our hashtag #issd even climbed to the top of the twitter trends, beating #justinbieber (we did it again in December 2012 with #nssd surpassing #mayans).

gimbal

This year, on 21st December, we’re returning to the national focus (the international celebrations now take place in the summer). As well as our usual 978-1905583485Twitter competition and book giveaways, Comma is marking the release of our first ever non-fiction title, Morphologies, a book of essays by contemporary short story authors on past masters of the form, plus the release of the brand new version of Gimbal, our free iPhone app which lets you escape the boredom of your daily commute by exploring foreign cities through short fiction. There are also events from Nottingham Writers’ Studio and Parthian Books, details of which are available here.  

We welcome everyone and anyone to get involved with National Short Story Day in any way you wish. Discover a new author, re-read an old favourite, recommend a story to a friend, or even create your own!

Just keep the short story love alive.

Coming soon – On The Same Page App

Hi there short story fans. My name is Viccy Adams and I’m the UK half of an interdisciplinary collaboration called two.5 (with an USA-based photographic media artist, Samantha Silver). I write stories and Samantha takes pictures, and by working together we hope to share and extend our skills. Due to the different time-zone/geographic location, it also forces us to use digital studio techniques to co-create work, keeping us teetering outside of our comfort zones.

As part of that, we’ve designed an app to display our collaborative work with an equal visual weight being given to the images and the text. We’re launching a crowdfunding campaign for the final production costs in February 2014, so this blog post is a bit of pre-promotion for that but it’s mainly to start a conversation with other short story writers who use images as part of their creative practice or as part of a collaboration, and to find out how you’ve ended up sharing the final product.

So, here’s a little background on what we came up with:

On The Same Page mock-up of index page

An innovative way of displaying text/image digitally, On The Same Page is a custom-designed app template from the transatlantic, cross-platform creative collaboration, two.5, built by digital design studio ADQ.

On The Same Page mock-up for portrait view

The software acts as a template for creating an HTML-based web app for iPad/iPhone. The design keeps both the image and the text on the screen at all times. It’s a clean, stripped back way of creating a curated digital setting for displaying written & visual work together.

On The Same Page mock-up for landscape view

Samantha and I came up with the design when looking for a way to digitally exhibit our current project, Dirty Laundry. Dirty Laundry consists of twelve sets of photo triptychs and short stories. If you’d like to learn more about our process and our projects, check out the two.5 blog. And if you’re interested in using On The Same Page to publish your own work as an app, then you’re in luck: we’ll be gifting copies of the software files (& PDF guide on how to use them!) as part of the perks for our crowdfunding campaign, launching in early February 2014.

How do you display your text/image creative work- Print? Blog? E-zine? Are you picky about layout or happy to hand that over to a designer? Do you have any gorgeous examples of text being displayed as a readable visual image, like the posters from Spineless Classics?