Flashers’ Club May, and news about August

The third meeting of Cheltenham’s Flashers’ Club took place on the 2nd of May, and showcased some seriously good writing. Ten readers signed up on the night and surprised us with ten new stories featuring everything from amiable jocks to black holes. Take a look at our blog to read more about the night!

Free lit was provided by Open Pen, who generously donated us enough copies to reward each of our bold readers.

Ticket sales, plus a kind donation from the University of Gloucestershire, meant we were able to donate £69 to First Story.

There was no guest reader for this session, but we have some very exciting names lined up for the future. The next Flashers’ Club, on Thursday 3rd August, will host Jane Bailey. Jane is the author of five novels and a book of comic verse, and is also writer-in-residence for Cheltenham Festivals First Story, which promotes creative writing in schools serving low-income communities. There’ll be the usual open mic session with ten slots up for grabs, some fab free lit, and a chance to hear Jane read some of her short fiction. Tickets are just £3! Find full details on our website, or follow us on Twitter @flashers_club.

Open Pen to publish Anthology book

To celebrate five years of publishing up-and-coming writers, Open Pen are to publish an anthology of their favourite stories so far in a paperback collection befitting the style and splendour of their print magazine. Alongside those stories, the book will feature a new piece of fiction from each of the corresponding authors. There’s a kickstarter campaign launching soon to support the project. Those who pledge will receive the anthology (in paperback – you may have noticed they have a thing for paperbacks). Those who pledge higher amounts will be rewarded with various collections of impressive art and fiction from their writers and illustrators, including a one-off zine featuring 15 flash fiction stories (if you’re a writer you can submit to that here). The rewards include: the George Orwell Reward (£3), the Bronte Sisters Reward (£5), the Jane Austen Reward (£8), the E.M Foster Reward (£10), the Virginia Woolf Reward (£25), and the highest pledge of £50 will get you the Charles Dickens Reward: a foil-blocked box-set containing some very limited bits and bobs indeed.

The Open Pen Anthology – Paperback

Sean Preston, Editor of the magazine, said, “We’ve really enjoyed the last five years. It’s been such a privilege to work alongside some incredibly talented writers of fiction. It’s these writers that have made Open Pen what it is. It’s exciting to think we’ll have so many of them in one collection. It’s going to be a joy to read through, old stories and new.”

The Open Pen Anthology is scheduled for release in March 2015, and will be released simultaneously through Limehouse Books.

To pledge, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/openpen/the-open-pen-anthology

Open Pen LIVE at the Jamboree, London

This Wednesday, August 19th, Open Pen Magazine is LIVE at the Jamboree, Limehouse.

Tickets are £5 (available here or on the door), and doors open at 7pm (the show will start at 8pm, and finish around 10pm).

Open Pen February Jamboree


Ben Byrne and his short fiction have appeared in Litro magazine and Writer’s Hub, and now on the cover of Open Pen Magazine. His first novel, ‘Fire Flowers’ was published by Europa Editions in the UK & US in February 2015.

Offbeat Tasmanian writer Tadhg Muller is finding his unique style of writing in high demand. He has been published in several literary journals, and in the short fiction collection Transportation: Islands and Cities.

Darren Lee is a storytelling stalwart. He has been published twice in Open Pen, and has had his short stories published in several books, including FUGUE (Siren Press).

There are few spoken word performers as jarring and amusing as Mat Woolfenden. His fiction is often performed live, and a taster can be viewed here.


Henry & the Hoorays play a mix of folk and humorous songs, some self-composed and quite a few covers, including ‘The Mary Ellen Carter’ by Stan Rogers, a fabulous tale of ships, storms and the strength of men with a common goal.

Plus the Open Pen Beat Jazz Duo (piano and spoken word) will be in attendance, as per usual.


Transportation Takes a Look at an Island in the City

Fully crowdfunded and landing in book form this Winter, the short story collection Islands and Cities is inviting writers to write about what they know when it comes to islands, and when it comes to cities. Over the last few months the Transportation website has seen London editor Sean Preston write about a coup in the Isle of Dogs (over two parts), Tasmanian editor Rachel Edwards on the first published Aussie book, a three-part love song to Tasmania by author John Bryson, Scott J Faulkner on arts consumership in Tasmania, a comment on the island that is Cuba, a short piece of fiction from American author Tom Badyna, as well as many others and more to come from authors selected for the short story collection itself.

N Quentin Woolf, Will Ashon, Ben Walter, Tadhg Muller, Susie Greenhill, and Adam Ouston are joined by new writers that were selected during a submission process. These writers include Ian Green, whose short story Audiophile was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The story can be read here.

Transportation: Islands and Cities is set for release this Christmas and will be available to pre-order soon.

Transportation islands and cities

Transportation: A young ‘Islander’ and the boats of Tasmania.

Open Pen Live – This Thursday

To celebrate ten issues of Open Pen, we’re holding another live event in Hackney at the Hackney United Services Club. Tickets for the event are now on sale. As ever, tickets will be available on the door for anyone wishing to pay cash. By that token, the bar does not accept card, so please bring cash if you plan on whistle-wetting.



Tickets are priced at £5. Doors open at 7pm. But you can grab a drink downstairs any time onward from 6:30pm.

The usual mix of live readings from new and exciting authors, live Beat Jazz from Canuck Basic CMYKenthusiast Piers Pereira and ivory-tinkling Mark Smith, literary comedy in the form of Filthy Fiction, and a microfiction tournament will be complimented by a one-scene play, making Open Pen Live a truly diverse literary event that you won’t want to miss out on (unless you’re tired on the night, miserable, or racist against Canucks).

The event takes place on Thursday, 13th February, and with modest ticket pricing, live performances, and generous breaks for purchasing cheap drinks, it’ll make for a good Valentines date that isn’t too Valentinesy.

Check out photos from our last event in late 2013.

As always, you can contact us at info at open pen dot co dot uk should you have any questions.

January Round-Up

Hello short story fans!
There has been so much activity at ShortStops since our last round-up that I’m still trying to catch my breath! First, congrats to Tracy Fells, the winner of a copy of the new Short Fiction journal – read Catherine McNamara’s interview with Short Fiction co -editor Tom Vowler. More interviews and giveaways of lit mags coming soon.

Here’s a round-up of the rest:

Want to work on your own short stories? Check out the Writers’ Centre Norwich’s upcoming short story workshops.

We welcome bi-monthly Falmouth live lit night, Telltales, to our list – their first 2014 event is on Jan 28th. White Rabbit is taking Bernadette Russell’s multimedia story show, 366 Days of Kindness, on tour around the UK from Jan 10th – find out if it’s coming to a theatre near you. Seven of Gill Blow’s short stories have been adapted for the theatre  –  Take 7 will be performed in Sheffield on Jan 24th and 25th. Word Factory #19, featuring David Almond, Stella Duffy and Rebecca Swirsky, is on Jan 25th in London. And Bad Language is back for their first event of the year, on Jan 29th in Manchester.

Lit Mags
New additions to our pages include “surreal/irreal/gritty/realist” print mag Fur-lined GhettoesOctavius, a literary magazine for students in Scotland which is calling for submissions for Issue 3, and fortnightly online journal The Siren,

Tube-flash is back – The Casket of Fictional Delights has new flash stories inspired by the London Underground – and wants yours, too. The January edition of Long Story, Short is ‘Nutella’, by Katie M. Anderson, read an excerpt. Open Pen Issue 10 is now in the shops, get a sneak peak and a hint of upcoming events. Smoke, the London Peculiar, is calling for submissions for their London water-themed short story anthology, Smoke on the Water. And Neon Magazine wants your tiny fictions for a new project, Battery Pack.

Last Minutes & Gentle Reminders
Today, Jan 20th, is the last day to submit to Holdfast for Issue #2, ‘Animals, Beasts and Creatures’, so get your stories in. If you are an Irish citizen or resident, send your stories to the Davy Byrnes short story competition by Feb 3rd. The National Flash Fiction Youth competition is open for entries til Feb 21st. Number Eleven mag welcomes submissions for Issue 4, and Riptide Journal is open for submissions for Volume 10, on the theme of ‘Imaging the Suburbs’ (deadline March 1 2014).

Phew. I told you there was a lot going on. Enjoy! To get this by email every two weeks, glance slightly to your right and click on the link that says Sign Up For Our Email Newsletter.
Tania x

Open Pen Issue 10 & Onwards

Firstly, Issue Ten is in shops this weekend, Saturday 18th January. As always, you can find out where to pick up your copy by checking out our list ofStockists.

This issue sees Peter Higgins adorn the cover with his uniquely witty story of a chance encounter in a library in Smoking In The Library. Rhuar Dean’s mentally unhinging, mentally unhinged piece Reverse Solicitation is no short of fascinating and classy. If you want a sneak peak at Rhuar’s work, check out some of his previous short stories on his website. Stylistically, GC Perry’s In The Age Of Nicotine is charming, sleek, and sexy, as one particularly blushful Open Penner put it.

All in all, it’s writing with something to say, well said. Exactly the sort of fiction we wanted to send out into the world in print. We’re proud of the uniqueness and range of writing we’ve been able to publish in our first ten issues, and Issue Ten is no different, how could it be?


Here she is in a familiar orange. Can you guess what publishing house our editor pines over?

Our favourite “gravelly-voiced writer” N Quentin Woolf  (not our words Mr. Woolf, the words of The Daily Telegraph) is back with a poignant piece in his regular column about writing and London. And editorSean Preston pops his head round the door to tell you about a bookshop you haven’t visited that you should have. You’ll also find a darkly tongue-in-cheek guest editorial from Will Ashon, author of Clear Water (2006) and The Heritage (2008), both from Faber & Faber. Christ, at least we hope it’s tongue-in-cheek.

Secondly (and lastly,actually, now we come to it), what else have we got in store? Well, a few things. And by ‘few’, I mean loads, without bragging. Loads and loads and loads. But we’re not telling you anything yet. What marketing wizards we are. That said, you can of course expect a live event very shortly, it would be a poor showing of us not to want to wet the head of Issue Ten and sink a few to the fortune of ten more. More details on that soon but you’ll find the usual compote of new and exciting authors, old and unexciting Open Penners trying to be funny without being too Filthy, and a microfiction tournament.

As always, any questions, send us an email. Submissions are open, they always are. And a reminder that our Little Printer publication provides a platform for writers that like their stories shorter.

A big thanks to all our readers, the wonderful bookshops and bookshop-minded non-bookshops, and of course to all of you that have submitted and continue to submit to Open Pen. We like to think we’re willing to take a risk where others dare not. The first ten issues have been a pleasure to work on, and we know the next ten will be just as enjoyable.