Recommended Reads: Table Manners and other stories

Every year at Dahlia Publishing we provide a placement for two students from University of Leicester to undertake a 70 hour project. The placement forms part of a publishing module and offers students the opportunity to gain some valuable hands-on experience at a small press. 

This year, Ella March spent ten weeks with us. She was particularly keen to work with short stories and has written a short blog about her favourite short story from  Susmita Bhattacharya’s debut collection, Table Manners and the connections she found to her other favourite books.

It’s not exactly an uncommon experience to wake up to the sound of someone you love calling your name. It’s a little bit more so if that someone is dead. That is what happens to Mouli, the main character of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’.

It takes her a little while to work out what’s happening- and if you don’t know, then you should read the story! But if you have read it, then you’ll know that hearing her husband’s voice helps Mouli come to terms with his sudden death, and her isolation from her family in its wake. Here are a few more books which deal with similar themes.

The obvious connection between ‘Good Golly’ and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is the isolation experienced by both of the main characters. They are perfect examples of how grief can make you feel trapped, but they also eventually find a way to let other people help them. Neither of them can be said to have truly happy endings, either- you come away feeling that you understand the characters, and wishing them well beyond their stories.

‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ is in many ways similar to PS I Love You, by Cecilia Ahern. If you enjoyed reading about how Holly came to find a way forward in her life without Gerry, you’ll also enjoy reading about Mouli’s journey. There are a lot of parallels between their stories, not least the peace it brings them both to feel like their husbands are still a part of their lives and the way they renegotiate their relationships with their friends and family. However, there’s a more humorous edge to ‘Good Golly’ that’s bound to make you smile.

The suddenness and brutality of death, which Mouli cannot really cope with, is also a struggle for the family of Maddy in I Liked My Life, by Abby Fabiaschi. Just as Maddy’s daughter Eve and husband Brady wonder how their beloved mother could disappear so abruptly, so there is an air of shock in the way Mouli reflects on her husband’s death. There is also an element in both stories of loved ones never fully leaving, and the knowledge that the only way of honouring a life loved is to move forward.

Finally, another story about accepting death is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. This is a book which can be equally enjoyed by children and adults, and features a main character who feels just as isolated in his grief as Mouli does. Both characters also choose to find refuge in memories of their loved ones in happier times. They are both heartbreaking tales, but ultimately rewarding to watch the characters accept the magnitude of their loss.

Like many of the other short stories in Susmita Bhattacharya’s anthology Table Manners, ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ is not a happy story, but it is a hopeful one. It reflects on human life and love and pokes into the corners of how we deal with loss.

‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ is a short story in Table Mannersavailable from Dahlia Publishing.

Ella March is a final year student at the University of Leicester. She studies English and Creative Writing and is hoping to go on to a career in publishing.

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Call for Submissions: Pixel Heart Literary Magazine – Issue Two

Pixel Heart Literary Magazine is currently open for submissions for its second issue. The theme is ‘Pride’, and the magazine is accepting positive LGBT+ fiction and poetry for this issue, to coincide with the theme.

Pixel Heart publishes flash fiction (under 750 words), poetry (of any length), and short stories (1,000 – 2,500 words).

There is no submission fee, and we’d love to read anything you’d like to send to us, whether you’re a new or experienced writer. In this issue we’re aiming to publish as many LGBT+ writers as possible, and, as always while all submissions are considered with care, if writers state in their submission email that they are people of colour, disabled, working class, and/or LGBT+ then their submission will be given a little extra attention.

So if you’re a writer with a positive LGBT+ story or poem, we’d love to read and consider it, so please consider submitting to us!

For our more specific submission guidelines and info on how to submit, please click here. Submissions for Issue Two are currently open until midnight BST on December 15th, 2018. ❤

Three New Things from The A3

A3 press copyThe A3 Review & Press announces its new monthly contest themes: Romance, parties, and whatever the word “top” inspires you to create. Anything from spinning tops to top-shelf magazines. Click here to see all the new themes, each with a deadline on the 4th Saturday of the month.

The current issue of The A3 Review has recently been published and is available to order here. Stories, poems and artwork about fairs, fireworks, and fathers, along with flies and zebras, too. Nancy Stohlman answers questions in the issue’s A6 Q&A.

The A3 Press is soon to launch alongside The A3 Review. The press is looking for manuscript submissions for this new chapbook press. Deadline for submissions is the 20th of November. Do you have a series of short stories, or maybe a long story that can be spread out over several pages? Do you have a combination of drawings and short stories? Or even photographs without text that would fit into our The A3 Press’s map-fold format.

The A3 Press will be a place for work that might struggle to find a traditional home, work that’s lyrical and intense, a bit weird, perhaps, hybrid, experimental. For all the details, please click here.

If you’d like to support the new press, you can also pre-order the first 6 titles via the website here.

Submission opportunities at Fictive Dream

Right now Fictive Dream has two submission opportunities. We’re open for submission of stories of between 500 – 2,500 words. As always, we’re interested in material with a contemporary feel on any subject. Your stories may be challenging, dramatic, playful, exhilarating or cryptic. Above all, they must be well-crafted and compelling.

Check out our standard submission guidelines here.

In addition, our submissions window for Flash Fiction February 2019 is open until December 31st. For this though we’ve put a squeeze on word count so, for this category, only stories of between 200 -750 please.

All the information you need for Flash Fiction February 2019 is here.

Check out the Fictive Dream website here.

We’re looking forward to receiving your best work!

Laura Black
Editor

Spooky stories for grown ups

Prepare to be scared this Halloween in the ghostly town of Folkestone!

Hand of Doom Productions once again invites you to gather round and hear some terrifying tales, monstrous monologues and scary sketches by Anthony White, Ribs Norman, Neil Dillon, Michele Sheldon, Adam Skipper, Louise Burgess and Charles Bain Smith.

It takes place on Saturday, October 27 at the Eleto Chocolate Cafe, Rendevous Street, Folkestone, from 8.30pm to 10.30pm. Doors open at 8pm.

Drinks are available from the bar (cash, no cards). Competition during the interval to win some ghoulishly cheap treats.

Tickets cost £6 and are available on the door or from Ticket Source.

Halloween 2018 (2)

 

 

 

 

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

Call for submissions…The Best of British Fantasy

I’m currently seeking stories for The Best of British Fantasy series from the award-winning NewCon Press.

NewCon already publish fantastic science fiction and horror ‘Best of’ anthologies, and I’m glad to be adding this new horse to their stable.

The Best of British Fantasy will reprint stories first published – in any format (anthology, online, zine, website) – in 2018. All authors born in and/or long-term residents of the UK are welcome to submit.

Ideally, I’m looking for stories between 2,500 and 6,000 words, but I will be flexible. Multiple submissions are welcome. All the submission details can be found here.

Any questions? My email address is at the link above, or prod me on Twitter at @straycarnivore[Art by the versatile and talented JRR Tolkien!]