Sunday, 21 April 2013


What's on the conveyer belt then?  My story Cuddly toy, fondue set was published on Flash Flood a couple of days ago and my single-sentence 100 worder 'Slather' was highly commended in the National Flash Fiction Day competition.

This flurry of short fiction prompted Benjamin Judge - a flash fictioneer from Manchester - to ask the question: Do we need a National Flash Fiction Day?  In particular, he worries about the term 'flash' implying something dashed off, instant and disposable... a poor cousin on longer fiction.

In fact good flash fiction takes more effort and editing than longer work - each word has to work harder. By focusing on the particular it, ideally, reveals something bigger. More like a flash of lightening or a camera exposing an essential truth.

I'd like to get all sciencey about it but I'm not trained. I want to say it's 'neutron' fiction - because I think neutron means tiny but superdense, but when I looked it up on Wikidpedia my eyes glazed over.  I think, yes, NFFD a good way to introduce readers to the form, promote excellence in it and create links between people who like writing it.

What does 'flash' fiction imply to you? Do you like your fiction superdense or would you rather linger? And what else would be a good name for it? Answers on a cyber postcard.

Incidentally, Benjamin writes excellent tiny stories about famous writers, called, appropriately enough Very Short Stories about Very Good Writers.  Benjamin lives in a curious world of his own creation where Saul Bellow gets all pie-charty, Wendy Cope does it Gangam Style and Agatha Christie is abducted by George Clooney.

p.s. My topsy-turvy little parable Sky/Sea is in Flash Frontier's April issue (you have to scroll down a bit to get to it)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hungry Dogs

When I was a kid (and yes, I was weird then, too) I used to collect proverbs the way other kids collected... I don't know... what were they collecting?

I wrote my favourites down in an exercise book - and although I've only recently rediscovered the book, it turns out I've been using some of these lesser-known proverbs over the years even though no-one else has heard of them - just another reason why people look at me funny.

But it has always saddened me that people stick to the same old sayings when there are rich pickings:
  • He who has a head of wax should not walk in the sun 
  • Far fowls have fine feathers 
  • You a lady, I a lady, who will milk the cow?
  • Praise is not pudding
  • He who speaks the truth must have one foot in the stirrup
  • He that thatches his house with turds will have more teachers than reachers
  • A cat in gloves catches no mice
  • Random stomping seldom catches bugs
  • He that lives in hope, dances without music
  • Toasted cheese hath no master

I mention all this now because one of my favourites (because it is so very true and I really can't think of another that says the same thing so appositely) is:
  • Hungry dogs will eat dirty puddings. 
It's a proper proverb... it says so here.

I mention this, because my very short story - Hungry dogs, dirty puddings - was featured last week on 3:AM Magazine. (Rated 'R' for adult content and obscenity - mum will be so proud!)

Btw, looking for an illustration for this post, I found the one above that would have done nicely for my Mousetrap post. Really, I'd have liked to use this from the Saatchi Galleries but am probably not allowed to.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Flash... aha!

'Tis the season to be flashy, with various contests around in the run-up to National Flash Fiction Day on June 21st.

I was chuffed to get one of my short, shorts if not exactly in Smokelong Quaterly, at least on the back of one of their giveaway candy cigarette boxes. I know: WTF?  The stories had to be under 40 words

Here's the story:
All day he’d been hunting for that screwdriver, his grubby fingers blunt amongst the sharp things. Nothing.
At nightfall, he scattered a trail of screws in likely corners, and waited.
Finally his patience paid off...

So anyway, those competitions:

The first is from the lovely people at Flashtag, Manchester, part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. You may remember, I won this one last year with 'Two Swans' - which is now in the excellent (and freely downloadable) Listerature II anthology. This year they want 400 words by 26th April on the fairly all-encompassing theme of: Past, Present, Future.

The second is Writing on the Wall's 'In the dark' competition - 500 words by 6th May. What I don't like about this competition is that all entries have to be posted to their site, which means they're technically published if you ant to send them somewhere else.

 I can't pretend either of these offers much reward to winners except a lovely warm feeling, some literary freebies and the chance to go on and on about it on their blogs.  But the third - The Bridport Prize - offers a whopping £1000 first prize for the best 250word flash - deadline  31st May.

There's an excellent guest post by Vanesse Grebbie on the Bridport Prize site, and she also has a fun flash fiction exercise on the Writers & Artists site.

You might also like to read about the most quoted six-word stroy ever written: Hemmingway story explained