Last Chance To Enter The Brighton Prize

The Brighton Prize for short fiction closes to entries at midnight on July 1st. Until then we are accepting short stories and flash fiction from international authors. There’s £2,000 in prize money up for grabs including a £1,000 first prize for short story and a special local prize for a Sussex writer.

All our winners are published in our anthology and sometimes in other journals. Last year’s flash winner Haleh Agar was published in local magazine Viva Brighton and we’re always looking for ways to get our winners noticed, we also had two launches one in Brighton and one at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh!

Our judges this year include Booker nominated and Edge Hill Prize short-listee, Alison MacLeod, ace literary agent, Sarah Manning and Brighton Prize Director, Erinna Mettler.

Send us your best – please read the T & Cs first!

Brighton Prize Poster 18

I’m Trying To Prove Short Stories Are Popular

I am crowd-funding a collection of short stories.  As I’m sure many of you have found out, short story collections are not looked upon favourably by agents or publishers in the UK. This is not the case in the US, Asia or even as close as Ireland. A handful of UK companies do consider collections but to be honest you have to either be a best-selling author already or have won a major short story prize to get past the slush pile, even then you’ll probably have to have a novel ready to go. My first book, Starlings, was a daisy chain collection of inter-linked stories.  It was published by a tiny but gutsy indie called Revenge Ink. I didn’t have an agent then because no-one I applied to represented short stories, “if you wanted to get back in touch when you have written a novel, we would be delighted to represent you.” Does this sound familiar to anyone? I still haven’t got an agent and with this second book, In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes, I didn’t even try to get one. This collection is themed around fame and celebrity culture but there’s no way I can pretend it is a novel; each story is individual. I half-heartedly sent it off to a few US companies until somebody suggested I try the innovative crowd-funding publisher Unbound.

Since the company was established in 2010, Unbound has gone from strength to strength. Their catalogue includes books by Jonathan Meades, Terry Jones, Kate Mosse and a Booker Prize listee (Paul Kingsnorth with The Wake).  The company promo declares that, “authors get to write the books they want to write and readers get to read real books, that in a crowded, celebrity obsessed market place might never see the light of day.”  This sounded very appealing to me. I sent my submission off and heard that it was successful after about 3 weeks. Crowd-funding is a fast-paced business. Unbound wanted me to upload a promo, a cover, biography, extract and synopsis within 24 hours in order to go live with the project immediately. You typically get 90 days to raise around £3,000 in pledges. It’s a hard slog of marketing, press releases, events, blog posts, radio interviews and local TV. If you do reach your target Unbound allocate you an editor and then your book gets the same treatment as it would from any major publisher. There are lots of levels of pledge from digital copies to launch tickets to manuscript assessments.

I am partially doing this to prove that, contrary to what most UK publishers and agents think, short stories are popular and deserve more consideration. If you would like to see more short story collections published you could start by pledging to this one.

Brighton’s Latest TV made a short film about the project  which you can view by clicking here Fifteen Minutes of Fame? No Thanks!

Fifteen minutes flyer

June Round-Up 2

Hello short story fans!
Here’s all the short story news from the ShortStops’ blog over the past fortnight.

Lit Mags

We’re thrilled to welcome two new lit mags to our list: Control Literary Magazine, “a free online magazine dedicated to giving you the best literature and artwork from new writers and artists”, and The Silver Lynx Sporadical, “a new literary journal based in Aberdeen… Our interest lies in only what can hold it”.

For your reading pleasure, Issue 7.1 of Flash! is out now, as is Spontaneity’s Issue 4, Only Human. Have a read of Jotters United’s Retro Issuethe June issue of Long Story, Short: The Art of Losing and Don’t Do it magazine’s Issue 4: Translations.

Popshot is open for literary submissions on the theme of Time. Here Comes Everyone would love to consider your short stories for the Boy/Girl issue and, starting early, The Casket of Fictional Delights is calling for your Christmas stories! HeadStuffwants your writing, as does The Cro Magnon, for their website and perhaps for their travelling show.


The Berko Summer School is holding a series of one-off masterclasses, including a short story masterclass with Adam Marek on July 29th.


The RAC is running a national short story competition on the theme of Driving in Europe, deadline 11 September.  The Sean O’Faolain short story competition is now open, deadline 31 July, which is also the closing date for Writeidea’s national short story contest, The Writeidea Prize.

Creative Industries Trafford are holding a flash fiction competition, deadline Sept 15th. You’ve missed Writing Maps June contest but it’s monthly, so check them out.  More contests: the 3rd annual A Spot of Hysteria Writing Competition run by the UK Hysterectomy Association is now open for entries (deadline Aug 31), and the Historic House Short Story Comp (26 Sep) wants stories inspired by or set in a historic house.

Find out which collections were shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Read Stinging Fly editor Thomas Morris’s short essay Beautiful Animals: Theorising and Defining the Short Story (In Under 1000 Words).

Live Lit & Short Story Events
Don’t miss the Short Short Story Slam in Manchester on July 8th.

Live Lit Review: Louise Tondeur went to Rattle Tales’ Brighton Prize awards night for us: “”There was a sense that it is writing that’s important, not publication or prizes”…Read more >> 

Last Minutes & Gentle Reminders

Closing todayThe Moth International Short Story Prize  and Kingston University’s two new short story competitions – one judged by Hilary Mantel and one, for stories to be read aloud, judged by Bonnie Greer.

If you are eager for even more short-story-related news, do follow ShortStops on Twitter where, when we should be writing, we spend (far too) much time passing on news from lit mags, live lit events, short story workshops and festivals! If you’d like to review an event or a publication, drop me a line.

Happy reading, writing, listening and performing!
Tania x

Review of Rattle Tales at the Brighton Fringe Festival

Louise Tondeur went along to Rattle Tales’ Brighton Prize awards night and wrote about it for us:

On 14th May I went along to Rattle Tales, at the Brunswick. It was a special performance as part of the Brighton Fringe, to celebrate the Brighton Prize. Rattle Tales describes itself as ‘interactive live literature’ so I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was my first time at Rattle Tales, my first time at the Brighton Fringe, and my first time at the Brunswick – almost exactly a year after we first moved to Hove. I am newly converted to twitter, and I’ve found it’s an absolutely brilliant way to find out about small presses, short story events and festivals, calls for submissions and competitions, and that’s how I found out about Rattle Tales. (Try it, it’s fun. Especially if you’re an introvert like me!)

Welcome to the Brunswick

Brighton’s premier Fringe venue

The Brunswick (as most people familiar with Brighton and Hove will know) is a friendly pub, on the road down from Audrey’s chocolates, and next to the sea: what more could you want! Rattle Tales turned out to be a performance of short stories, with added zing from the audience and via multimedia. There were rattles on the tables for audience members to make noise with – mainly to show appreciation and to ask a question. 

The space was cosy and intimate and the storytelling authentic and direct. I got a real sense of community from the participants and from the audience. I enjoyed hearing flash fiction read aloud particularly because some pieces felt like they had been written for the page and were being brought alive in a new way, whereas others felt as if they had been written with direct contact with the audience in mind. The addition of photographs and music made the readings not only participatory but also multi-sensory, and a real experience – like mini pieces of theatre – rather than a reading. The rattles added to the celebratory atmosphere – which actually wasn’t as subversive as I thought it was going to be.

Rattle Tales sign saying 'sold out'.

Sold out

The event made writing feel much more democratic than it can at some readings; there was the sense that we’re all in it together and that audience members could just as well get up and read – in fact the readers did emerge from the audience. We were all writers together. At times, because of questions from the floor it even took on the quality of a writing workshop, to the extent that the whole thing felt like an expression of what it can mean – at least sometimes – to be a writer. I get a similar feeling from a book I’ve just got around to reading: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird – I am really enjoying her sense of humour and useful advice on the writing life. Both Rattle Tales and Bird by Bird give me a similar warm glow: a reminder that there are other people out there trying to write, for whom life also gets in the way, who also stare blankly at the screen sometimes.

I’ve already admitted rather sheepishly on my own blog that I wrote a piece of flash fiction in the audience of Rattle Tales instead of making notes for this review. That sense of democratisation inspired me. The subtext of the story I wrote on 14th May – though you probably wouldn’t know from reading it – is to do with the writer’s (sometimes uncertain) journey.

The event was hosted brilliantly, and thoughtfully, by Jo Warburton and kicked off with Mike Liardet, who gave us a multilayered story called ‘Two Timing’, which seemed to me to be about storytelling and narratorial voices, and whether the storyteller is ultimately reliable. This was followed by ‘The Bus’ by Amanda Welby-Everard – a haunting story about a woman who loses – and then rediscovers – her identity after joining a traveling community. Then we heard ‘Duet’ by Erinna Mettler, which beautifully evoked both everyday life and Ella Fitzgerald. They are all regular Rattle Tales writers so you can find out more about them on the website.

The judges of the Brighton Prize were Bethan Roberts and Laura H. Lockington. I was disappointed not to be able to stay to hear all of the stories – I was called away – including a story called ‘Ms Featherstone and the Beast’ read by Bethan Roberts.

The winners of the Brighton Prize read at the very end of the evening. The overall winner was Linda McVeigh’s Ordinary Man in Suit. The runners up were Allie Rogers‘ Not Coming in Again, and Melanie Whipman‘s The Real Thing. These writers all read their stories on the night. You can see a list of all the winners on the Brighton Prize website, and read the winning stories in the upcoming anthology.

There was a sense at Rattle Tales that it is writing that’s important, not publication or prizes, and that sense – along with the celebratory atmosphere – is quite hard to find, let alone engender.

February Fortnightly Round-Up (1)

Hello story lovers,
Welcome to February, which is wet and windy round here. A good excuse to stay in, read and write, right? Here’s a round-up of what’s been happening at ShortStops over the past fortnight.

Lit Mags, Competitions and Workshops
New to the site is The Grind, a “literary and visual arts magazine serving Scotland and its diaspora”. Short Fiction’s 2014 short story prize wants your stories, deadline March 31st. The editor of the Writers’ Hub has blogged some useful advice about How To Get Published On The Writers Hub (And Elsewhere)The Moth International Short Story Prize is now open for entries, deadline June 30. Coming soon – a call for submissions for Transportation, a new Tasmanian/English short story anthology.

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.

If you want some help working on your short stories before sending ’em off, check out the Writers’ Centre Norwich’s upcoming short story workshops.

Live Lit
Stand-Up Tragedy’s February event is Tragic Love, Feb 13th in London – on that same night in Brighton, head down to Rattle Tales – the line-up for the event has just been announced. On Feb 28th White Rabbit presents Are You Sitting Comfortably? Science Fiction in London.

Last Minutes & Gentle Reminders
Today, Feb 3rd, is the deadline to send your stories to the Davy Byrnes short story competition  you are an Irish citizen or resident. The National Flash Fiction Youth competition is open for entries til Feb 21st. Number Eleven mag welcomes submissions, and Riptide Journal is open for submissions for Volume 10, on the theme of ‘Imaging the Suburbs’ (deadline March 1 2014).

Tania x