14TH BBC NATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD SHORTLIST INSPIRED BY #METOO, TRUMP AND DISCRIMINATION

NSSA_Stacked_2019Award-winning writer Lucy Caldwell joined by former bookseller Lynda Clark, charity worker Jacqueline Crooks, and new voices Tamsin Grey and Jo Lloyd to complete shortlist of writers exploring sexual politics, intolerance, community and immigration.

Lucy Caldwell, multi-award-winning novelist, playwright and short story writer, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University for the second time for ‘The Children’. Previously shortlisted in 2012 for ‘Escape Route’, one of her first ever short stories, Caldwell is joined on the 2019 shortlist by a wealth of emerging talent including University of Dundee Fellow and former bookseller Lynda Clark for ‘Ghillie’s Mum’; charity worker Jacqueline Crooks for ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’; civil servant Tamsin Grey for ‘My Beautiful Millennial’; and Welsh writer Jo Lloyd for ‘The Invisible’. The shortlist of five stories was announced on Friday 6 September 2019, during BBC Radio 4 Front Row.

The shortlist is:

  • The Children’ by Lucy Caldwell
  • Ghillie’s Mum’ by Lynda Clark
  • Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ by Jacqueline Crooks
  • My Beautiful Millennial’ by Tamsin Grey
  • ‘The Invisible’ by Jo Lloyd

Now celebrating its fourteenth year, the Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning writer receiving £15,000, and the four further shortlisted authors £600 each. Selected from over 900 entries (an increase of 15% on 2018), this year’s shortlist is the sixth all-female shortlist in the BBC National Short Story Award’s history.

Nikki Bedi, TV and radio broadcaster and Chair of Judges for the BBC National Short Story Award 2019, says: “One of the things I’ve discovered over a lifetime of meeting, interviewing and spending time with the most extraordinary creative minds in the world, is that they all have something in common: they seek to move us, to make us think and to transform us. I strongly believe all five of the shortlisted writers and stories we’ve chosen do all that and more. Judging them, however, has not been an easy process. To say it was a hard-fought contest is putting it mildly. We agonised over our decisions and disagreed vociferously at times, but on the whole, the discussion and debating was carried out in a civilised manner.” 

Nikki Bedi is joined on this year’s judging panel by novelist and writer of narrative non-fiction Richard Beard; short story writer, novelist and youngest author to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize Daisy Johnson; screenwriter, novelist and 2017 BBC National Short Story Award winner Cynan Jones; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

All five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 on BBC Sounds in September and published in an anthology produced by Comma Press. The readers of this year’s stories include Line of Duty and Call the Midwife star Jessica Raine, who reads ‘The Children’, and Welsh actor Aimee-Ffion Edwards of Peaky Blinders and Skins fame, reading ‘The Invisible’. Tamara Lawrance, who read Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie for BBC Sounds, reads ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’, and Katherine Press, whose television credits include Foyle’s War and the Golden Globe-nominated BBC series Dancing on the Edge, reads ‘My Beautiful Millennial’. Stephen Campbell Moore, best known for his role in the stage production of The History Boys completes the line-up with ‘Ghillie’s Mum’.

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was established to raise the profile of the short form and this year’s shortlist join distinguished alumni such as Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, William Trevor, Sarah Hall and Mark Haddon. As well as rewarding the most renowned short story writers, the Award has raised the profile of new writers including Ingrid Persaud, K J Orr, Julian Gough, Cynan Jones and Clare Wigfall.

The winner of the BBC National Short Story Award 2019 will be announced live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Tuesday 1 October. The anthology published by Comma Press is out now.NSSA shortlist announcement

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Stroud Short Stories is open for submissions until 29 September 2019

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Stroud Short Stories is open until the end of Sunday 29 September for submissions from Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire writers.

It’s free to submit and we will select ten stories to be read by their authors at our 19th event on Sunday 10 November at the 150-seater Cotswold Playhouse. Our last 13 events have all sold out.

The event is part of the 2019 Stroud Book Festival.

It’s an open theme this time so any subject matter, any style so long as it’s a short story of no more than 1,500 words.

Information about our rules and how to submit is on the SSS website.

Tickets, priced at £8, go on sale on the Playhouse website on 11 October.

I Heart Short Stories

This year the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award celebrates its tenth year as one of the world’s most significant prizes for short fiction.

Over the last decade, we’ve not only helped champion the form, but also, particularly because we read stories anonymously, discovered many fresh new writers who had not previously been given a platform – everyone from Roshi Fernando and Rebecca F John to Sally Rooney, who got her first shortlisting from the award.

Now we want to expand our commitment, with regular digital posts about everything to do with the short story under the banner of I Heart Short Stories. On our website over the next months you will find monthly news and views about short story writing and writers, interviews with authors, features on the short story landscape, and guest slots written by those with things to say about short story writing.

Already we have had news round ups, a long feature on short stories in the south west of England plus interviews with our prestigious winners such as Yiyun Li and C.K. Stead.

We have just announced our judges for the award – Sarah Churchwell, Kit de Waal, Carys Davies and Blake Morrison – and we’re hoping to have a piece from one of them to fill you in on the judging process. Also we would be delighted to hear about blogs from anyone with something to say about the short story. If you have any ideas please email shortstoryaward@sunday-times.co.uk or get in touch with us via Twitter.

This is all part of our determination, with the help of our sponsor Audible, to help make the short story a more central part of the literary landscape.

You’ll see everything we do under the “I Heart Short Stories” banner and #IHeartShortStories. And there’ll be more to see on Twitter at @shortstoryaward.

Stroud Short Stories is open for submissions until 31 March

Stroud Short Stories is open for submissions from Gloucs and South Gloucs writers until 31 March – for our 19 May 2019 event in a new venue, the Cotswold Playhouse in Stroud. It’s free to submit and we are happy to consider published and unpublished work.

There’s a theme this time – Incendiary! Think of the theme as widely and flexibly as possible – stories about fire, heat, passion, anger, rebellion, incineration, climate change, inflamed senses, etc, etc.

As well as reading before an audience of 150 short story lovers at the Cotswold Playhouse in Stroud, the authors of the ten stories chosen will be offered a place in our next published anthology – due 2021.

Tickets for the 19 May event will be available from 21 April on the Cotswold Playhouse website.

All the info you need is on our website – http://stroudshortstories.blogspot.com/

Calling all Flashers – November Flashers’ Club

Cheltenham’s quarterly live flash fiction night, Flashers’ Club, will be opening the mic once again on Thursday 29th November, 7:30pm, at Smokey Joe’s Coffee Bar. Got a story between 100 and 1000 words? Bring it down and share it! We welcome everyone and every story – no submissions, no genre restrictions. Flashers’ is a great night out for fans of flash, whether you’re coming to read or just soak up the stories.

This month we’re very excited to feature flash author Santino Prinzi, who’ll be sharing some of his stories alongside our open mic readers. We’ll also be giving away a copy of literary journal Popshot Quarterly to one of our lucky open mic performers. Tickets are just £4, and all profits got to the charity First Story. Head over to our website to find out full details, or find us and chat to us on Twitter or Facebook.

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.

Liars’ League presents Women & Girls – Tuesday August 14th

nev dress Arial big 2On Tuesday August 14th, Liars’ League proudly presents our annual short story soiree which sorts the women from the girls, and tells how the other half lives … (Click for Facebook event)

From truant wives to sarky schoolgirls, pyromaniac editors to teenage hookers via tantruming mums, our professional actresses and rising authors will give you a night of fantastic female-focused fiction.

WINNING STORIES for WOMEN & GIRLS
Trouble at the Uptown Espresso by Kristin King *NEW AUTHOR* – read by Sarah Gain
Tree House Date by S. Soliar *NEW AUTHOR* – read by Keleigh Wolf
How to be Unemployed by Alice Franklin *NEW AUTHOR* – read by Lois Tucker
Apotheosis of Maya and Bibi by Rebecca Skipwith – read by Susan Moisan
Homework by Anna Savory – read by Gloria Sanders

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start and tickets are £5 on the door (cash only, sorry, but there is a cashpoint across the street). Drinks and food will be available at the bar, though there are also free sweets and the infamous interval quiz features fabulous books to be won! There’s no pre-booking, but tables for four or more can be reserved by calling 07808 939535.

The venue is the downstairs bar at:
The Phoenix Pub
37 Cavendish Square
London
W1G 0PP

Accessibility note: Access to the basement is via stairs: there is no lift, sadly.

The Phoenix is 5 minutes’ walk from Oxford Circus tube station, which is on the Victoria, Bakerloo and Central lines. Map here.