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It's nearly May, and you know what that means?

It's nearly National Flash-Fiction Day!!

So, in honour of all of that, and following on the great success of last week's Shakespeare prompt, we'd like some more flash-fictions from you.

The deadline is 5pm on Monday, with the posts appearing over at our flashes blog (http://nffdflashes.blogspot.co.uk/) all day on Tuesday, 1st May.

The limit is 310 words (31 days in May, you see) and the theme is May Day! Or Mayday! Or M'Aidez! Or anything really, that includes any of those words and concepts.

Submissions accepted from anywhere in the world. (What's May Day like in New Zealand, I wonder...)

And that's it, that's your task! Send your stories to us at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com and please put the word 'May' in the subject line. We can't wait to see your writing!

I’ve been writing – and writing about – flash fiction for a while now and I love how diverse a discipline it can be. Ask me my definition and I bet it’ll be different to what you were told last time, and different again to what you’re told next. And that’s what’s so great about writing micro: it might be small in scale but it’s more than substantial in scope, from process to performance. 
And that's what the Manchester-based FlashTag writing collective (which consists of Manchester Blog Awards winners and flash fiction writers Benjamin Judge, David Hartley, Fat Roland and Tom Mason - oh, and me) were thinking about when we came up with our idea for a National Flash-Fiction Day event. We're fans of site-specific stories and of delivering our prose in unusual ways, so we've decided to treat the rainy city to some guerrilla story-telling; some flash fiction flashmobbing, if you will. We plan to travel across town, stopping off at various locations - from cultural venues to iconic spaces - where one of the group will read out a piece of short fiction to the public then move on. We're not releasing details of the itinerary until the day, when you can follow our progress - and perhaps catch us in action - via our Twitter account, @flashtagmcr.

The FlashTag collective is currently running a flash fiction writing competition as part of Chorlton Arts Festival: you have until midnight today (Friday 27 April) to enter! Full details here: http://flashmobmcr.wordpress.com/

Sarah-Clare Conlon is a writer and editor, and one half of flash fiction/music combo Les Malheureux with David Gaffney. You can read more from her on award-winning arts blog Words & Fixtures.

There's less than three weeks to go before the first National Flash-Fiction Day is upon us, and two days before THAT, I'm going to be running a flash-fiction workshop in Manchester City Library. The event's sold out now, but you can still sign up to get on the wait-list, if you're interested. And to get you interested - and perhaps to demystify things for those of you who'll definitely be joining me on the day - here's a taste of what's in store.

First off: no lectures, no tutorials, no severe editorials - this workshop's going to be all about the writing. (And a little bit about the reading - it is in a library, after all...) If you're anything like me, the blank page is a savage horror on the desktop: whilst those first words can be honed and tweaked and crossed out and reconsidered, getting them down in the first place is often the problem. So I want to use this workshop as an opportunity to break down these barriers - for one night, at the very least! So what we'll do will be a couple of very fast, very frantic writing exercises. It'll be fun, and there won't be time to over-think - or, perhaps, to think at all! - or to get intimidated; we'll be gathering prompts and blasting our way through some far-from-premeditated stories as fast as a ticking clock will allow us. (I promise not to bring a ticking clock.) And to get you in the mood, in between rounds, I'll be showing you some of my favourite examples of flash-fiction - for inspiration, not intimidation! At the end of the session, nobody will have to share their stories, but if they want to, there'll be the chance to get them uploaded onto the library's website. Fame! Our great Director, Calum Kerr, has also set up a new flash-blog if you want to send him your work - and I'll also be talking to you about other submission opportunities for flash-fiction.

And if all this hasn't scared you off, I'll see you on Monday May 14th!

Hello again everyone,

Aren't Wednesdays coming around fast now? Can you believe we are just THREE WEEKS away!? Amazing!
Anyway, here's a roundup of news, and some things for you to be looking out for and getting up to:
  • First of all, in case you didn't notice, we completed our part in the production of Jawbreakers. The text has been proofed and finalised, the cover has been designed and the whole thing has been sent off to our printers. They reckon about 10 working days so, by our calculations, that puts the book in our hands round about 9th or 10th May! We are, of course, massively excited about that! When it lands we hope to be able to ship it very soon after. News will follow very soon of how you can pre-order your copy. And, if you are organising an event, we would like to you take a few copies (say 10?) to sell on the night. If you are happy to do this, please get in touch. 
  • Next I should mention that we have quite a lot of competitions closing in the coming week from #Flashtag, Once Upon a Time, 1000 words, Writing on the Wall, The Journal and Flash Fiction World. So, if you haven't already sent your stories in, now is the time to do so! Full listings at http://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/competitions.html. We've also listed a bunch of new competitions, some coming up after the Day, so do keep checking the page for new goodies.
  • And another reason for signing up to those is your chance to see your work on our new blog: http://nffdflashes.blogspot.co.uk/ which we are using to pull together featured work produced by all the various NFFD events which don't already have their own embedded publication  (and the random exercises I've started to set for you all. Watch out for another one this weekend!). Do have a read of what is being produced, there's some great work there.
  • As usual, we've been updating the website with new writers as well as new events and competitions. We've added a 'Kindle' page to bring together all of the e-books available from our writers. If you have a book on Kindle and would like to be listed, do drop us a line.
  • What else? Well, the posters have arrived! (Whooop!) And I hope to be sending those out in the next couple of days. So, if you want any posters, or some of the story cards (or MORE story cards if you're run out) then, again, drop us a line.
And, apart from that, it's business as usual. Please do follow and promote our social media outlets at https://www.facebook.com/nationalflashfictiondayhttps://www.facebook.com/JawbreakersFlashhttps://twitter.com/#!/nationalflashfd and join in with the various activties. And, if you get a chance to talk to your local press about us, we'd be awfully grateful!
If you have any questions, queries, ideas or comments about National Flash-Fiction Day, or to sign up for the mailing list, please do get back to me at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com. A mail will be out in the next couple of days about pre-ordering the book. Thanks, as ever, for all your support and hard work. And here's to the next three weeks!!
All the best
Calum
(PS. On a very personal note, and I do apologise for this, my project to write a flash-fiction every day for a year will have come to an end by the time of the next bulletin, with the final story on April 30th. If you're not aware of it, it's online at http://flash365.blogspot.co.uk/ and, if you like it, a 'Like' at https://www.facebook.com/flash365 and a 'share' would be very much appreciated. Thank you and advert over!)

Here at National Flash-Fiction Day we have asked you to do many things - enter competitions, organise events, buy things, sell things, all sorts of stuff - but one thing we have not yet done is that which is at the heart of flash-fiction writing; namely, we have never given you a prompt, a short span of time, and told you to sit down and write something.

Well, today that all changes!

Monday is 23rd April. It is St George's Day. But also, and perhaps more importantly for us writery types, it's Shakespeare's birthday.

So, your task is this. Sit down and write us a Shakespeare-related flash. It could use old Bill himself in the story, or it could be based on a character, event, scene or plot from one of his plays. The specifics are up to you, but it should be a recognisably Shakespearian flash.

And, as the man wrote 37 (confirmed) plays, let's make the word limit 370 words.

This is open to anyone anywhere in the world, and you have until 5pm on Sunday (BST).

Send your completed stories to us at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com (with 'Shakespeare' in the subject line) and they will be posted on our story blog at nffdflashes.blogspot.co.uk on Monday.

And that's it. What are you waiting for? Lay on MacFlash-Fictioneers, and get writing!

1

Hello Flash-Fictioneers,

Well, it's another Wednesday, another bulletin, and only 4 weeks to go!!
Here's a quick round-up of all that's new, and all that you can do to help:
  • Our biggest news is probably the announcement of our anthology, Jawbreakers. I shan't reiterate all that's been said before, but you can read all about it at http://nationalflashfictionday.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/anthology-final-list.html. Just to say that we are hoping it will be available at the beginning of May, that it will be available via Amazon as both book and Kindle or directly from me as book or PDF. I shall send out more about price and how to buy it etc. once I know more. In the meantime, why not 'Like' the new Facebook page for up-to-the-minute info: https://www.facebook.com/JawbreakersFlash.
  • In other news, we have managed to inspire the world with our efforts! New Zealand have announced their own NFFD, details at http://nationalflash.wordpress.com/. So do please support them in their efforts if you can. And, I've heard this morning that there will be an anthology being produced in Australia to tie in with our Day. More when I have details.
  • Closer to home, we now have an event happening in Scotland, Edinburgh to be precise. I haven't had a chance to add it to our website yet, but details are at http://underword.co.uk/. And there is a whisper of something coming along in Northern Ireland too, so stay-tuned for word of that, or get in touch if you'd like to be involved. However we still have a lack of events in London, of all places. So if you are there and want to get something happening, let me know!
  • The Story Cards I mentioned in the last bulletin have arrived and the first lot have been distributed, but we still have more left. So if you want some to pass out to friends, family, neighbourhood arts venues, or to promote your event, please get in touch. The posters are on order and should be here soon. Again, let me know if you want some, if you haven't already.
  • Loads of you have been blogging about the Day, including featuring some interviews with me and some of my writing, So a very big thank you for that. If you would still like to, feel free to get in touch if you need anything.
  • Thanks to all of you on Twitter who promoted us last Friday. That was a great boost. It would be wonderful if you could repeat that, say, every week? (Please?) And, if you haven't already, please do 'Like' our page at https://www.facebook.com/nationalflashfictionday, share it with your friends, follows us on Twitter at @nationalflashfd and generally help get the word out. Oh, and one specific request. If you are Tweeting about NFFD it would be great if you could include the hashtag #nffd or #NFFD in all your messages to see if we can get it trending. (If you don't use Twitter, that will probably mean nothing to you. That's fine. Ignore it!)
And that's it. Except to say keep visiting our website at http://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/ for more updates, check out the events - some of them, such as workshops, are coming up before the day, so don't miss out - and thank you so very much for all your support. It just keeps getting bigger and better!
All the best
Calum
PS. If you have something you think should be included in this Bulletin, do please send it through to nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com, which is also the address to sign up for the mailing list.

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Hello again!


Well, the dust has settled, we have patched our wounds and salved our bruises, and we can finally announce the list of stories which have made it through into the first ever National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology.

The collection will be entitled Jawbreakers (taken from the story submitted by Jen Campbell) and is, well, just amazing!

The job of type-setting, proofing and publishing is already underway and we hope that the book will be available in the first week of May. Keep an eye on this blog, our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/nationalflashfictionday) and our Twitter feed (@nationalflashfd) for more news on that as we have it.

A big, big thank you to all of you who submitted, the standard was extremely high and we are just sorry we didn't have space to include you all. But, don't forget, there are many more opportunities (with others coming along all the time) listed on our site at http://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/.

Now, without any more ado at all, here is the full list of pieces that will be in the anthology, commissions and accepted submissions:

Accepted Submissions:

‘Porcelain’ by Alex Thornber
Repetition’ by Amy Mackelden
Love’ by Benjamin Judge
Fiver’ by Bob Jacobs
Chemoids’ by Brian George
Arabesque’ by Brindley Hallam Dennis
Mauve’ by Carrie Etter
Peekaboo’ by Dan Powell
Cheese’ by David Gilbert
Marmite’ by David Morgan
Ciphers’ by Eli Goldstone
Elephant’ by Erinna Mettler
Boy’ by Jay Barnett
Jawbreakers’ by Jen Campbell
Blackhole’ by Jessica Patient.
Buttons’ by Kevlin Henney
Beauty’ by Kylie Grant
Superman’ by LA Craig
Rivals’ by Laura Wilkinson
Pink’ by Mark Sheerin
Wrapped’ by Martha Williams
Ash’ by Natalie Bowers
Favourite’ by Nathan Good
Bar’ by Nicholas Murray
Troll’ by Nick Garrard.
Inked’ by Rin Simpson
Ed! ’ by Rupan Malakin
Harps’ by Sal Page
Instructions’ by Sara Crowley
Summertime’ by Susan Giles
Celia’ by Susan Walker-Stokes
Shed’ by SJI Holliday


Commissioned Stories:

‘Quick’ by Ali Smith
‘Elsewhere’ by Alison Wells
‘Home’ by Calum Kerr
‘Bonding’ by David Gaffney
‘Bee’ by Emma Lannie
‘Waterman’ by Eunice Yeates
‘Fieldwork’ by Ian Rankin
‘Hammer’ by Jenn Ashworth
‘Camenbert’ by Jonathan Pinnock
‘Rapture’ by Kirsty Logan
‘Minutes’ by Nigel McLoughlin
‘Quinquireme’ by Sally Zigmond
‘Dinghy’ by Sarah Hilary
‘Natural’ by Sarah-Clare Conlon
‘Boom’ by Simon Thirsk
‘Stopwatching’ by Tania Hershman
‘Missing’ by Trevor Byrne
‘Space’ by Valerie O'Riordan
‘Flight’ by Vanessa Gebbie


And we will be including the winners of the Micro-Fiction competition too:

‘Relieving Mafeking’ by Alun Williams
Meredith’ by Amy Mackelden
The Worst Head in the World’ by Angela Readman
New Build’ by Clare O'Brien
Black Hole’ by Dan Carpenter
Sad Lover’ by Jason Bagshaw
New Shoes’ by Jenny Adamthwaite
She'll Leave You For a Man’ by Kirsty Logan
First Person’ by Martha Williams
Alterations’ by Tim Stevenson


Very many congratulations to everyone who made it in! It promises to be quite an amazing collection of stories. And thank you all for your support.

I am guilty of taking myself too seriously. Not to a crazy degree but just to the point of over thinking things a little too often. Over the last couple of years I have been writing short stories almost daily. I have figured out my style, the way I like to write and the things I like to write about and it is working. As a result however a few months ago I found that almost all of the stories I have written recently are of a similar length and invariably centred on a group of fictional friends.

This was not a problem, in fact it was an aim. I had fallen in love with this group of characters and I wanted to write a collection for them to live in. The problem was that every story I wrote was about them and between two and five thousand words. If I had an idea for a story that none of my characters fit in with, or was really short, I would pop it in my notebook and forget about it. I had to be focussed if I was going to get this collection done. Writing took discipline. I’d been told that a thousand times.

But, if there is one thing I have learnt over the years of writing, and receiving advice about writing, is that you should never close your mind to new ideas. I had been ignoring this advice and it lead to what I guess was writers block.

After a few weeks of frustration editing, trying desperately to believe that I was still writing, I decided to go back to my roots.

One of the first stories I had published was a flash-fiction called Movies and Stories From Friends. It was a six sentences long musing about a girl loosing her virginity at a party. I remember writing it in about two minutes; I then spent two months editing it but the feeling that remains is those two minutes. That flash of going from inspiration to finished story in less time that it takes to brew a cup of tea. I wanted that back.

So I put all my current stories to one side and cleared my head of those character names and their voices. I thought I’d try to write a couple of flash-fiction stories. I emptied my brain and waited for it to fill up with new stuff.

It worked. Without constantly thinking about my story collection or the characters who lived in it and focussing solely on trying to write something flash length, I managed to write three flash fictions a day for a month and a half.

I wrote stories about self-service check outs with attitudes, voodoo cigarettes, pre-apocalyptic imaginary zombies, vengeful guitar strings and a tonic that can turn humans into chameleons. Nothing I had ever written before prepared me for these stories, or even hinted that I might some day write stories like this. It was the most incredible creative burst I have had in a long time.

This burst was prolonged by one of my current undertakings: the National Flash-Fiction Day project Flashpoints. I’m one of a small team consisting of myself, Emily Cleaver and Rachael Dunlop, under the captain and champion of all flash-fiction endeavours Calum Kerr. Together we’ve been working on this project that we have dubbed “a site-specific mass writing event.”

Flashpoints is for everyone, wherever you are in the world. This is not a lit mag or blog in the traditional sense; it is a completely open writing project to celebrate the joys of flash-fiction. Anyone can get involved.

At Flashpoints we encourage people to get out in the world, writing flash-fiction rooted in their surroundings. We ask them to write stories on a single page, photograph where they are and send it all in to us at nffdflashpoints@gmail.com. Some contributors have even left their stories in the wild for strangers to find, all in the name of flash-fiction celebration. We ask them to push themselves, write a story in one burst, squelching the desire to edit. We feature every story we receive and there is no limit to how many times a writer can contribute, the more the better.

Seeing what people do with the form has been wonderful for my writing, boosting my own creativity. People have written on scraps of paper and coffee shop napkins, in play parks and underground trains. The variety of submissions and experimentation has truly been wonderful to see. Flash-fiction is a delicate art. It takes a lot of discipline and effort but it does allow complete freedom for your imagination. There is nothing you can’t do in a flash fiction. That is why I love it.

Writing Flash-Fiction has warded off my writers block and my frustration. Above all though, it has made writing fun again. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to write next.

You can see all the stories to date for some inspiration and more information about the project on our blog over at http://nffdflashpoints.blogspot.co.uk

[And you can read all about Alex, and some of his stories, over on his own blog at http://alexthornber.wordpress.com/]

Submissions for the first NFFD Anthology closed last Tuesday and Valerie O'Riordan and myself have had a hard week reading through the 297 entries we received.


It's been a wonderful task, getting to read all your stories, but a hard one having to chose between them. Thank you to everyone who entered, we're so pleased you gave us such a difficult job!

Yesterday we finally managed to arrive at a Long List from which we will be choosing the final stories for the anthology. We managed to narrow it down to just under 90, and that has formed the list below.

Unfortunately, we now have to cut it still further to about half that number, which is going to be really tough, and probably cause us to argue and fall out!

This also means that some of you listed won't make it into the final selection, but we thought we would publish this list because we wanted you to know that even if you don't make it we really liked your story and it's only because of space that it's not going in!

We hope to finalising the list in the next couple of days, so watch out for more news, but now, without any more fanfare, here is the Long List:

Saved by Alex Josephy

Porcelain by Alex Thornber

Repetition by Amy Mackelden

Dare by Andrew Blackman

Endings by Angela Ramsell

Love by Benjamin Judge

Fiver by Bob Jacobs

Chemoids by Brian George

Arabesque by Brindley Hallam Dennis

Fun by Carly Holmes

Mauve by Carrie Etter

Waiting by Cathy White

Skyscraper by Charlotte Unsworth

Homeless by Colette Hill

Fat by Colin Watts

Peekaboo by Dan Powell

Cheese by David Gilbert

Threshold by David Hartley

Marmite by David Morgan

Burn by Denrele Ogunwa

Justice by Dorothy Evans

Retriever by Edward Price

Ciphers by Eli Goldstone

Recovery by Elizabeth Welsh

Courage by Emily Cleaver

Elephant by Erinna Mettler

Flight by Freya Morris

Manager by Gavin Inglis

Branch by Helen Ladderbird

Gum by Helen MacKinven

Thaw by Helen Pizzey

Bycatch by Holly Corfield-Carr

Rain by Isabel Rogers

Incoming by Jacky Taylor

Feathers by Jan Harris

Boy by Jay Barnett

Vertigo by Jayne Thickett

Jawbreakers by Jen Campbell

Potatoes by Jenny Adamthwaite

Blackhole by Jessica Patient

Cat-Cash by Joan Lennon

Calling by John Broken Willow

Watchdog by John Freebairn

Birdcage by Juliet Boyd

1800 by Katy Watson

Buttons by Kevlin Henney

Promotion by Kristian Jackson

Beauty by Kylie Grant

Superman by L.A. Craig

Rivals by Laura Wilkinson

Falling by Lorna Louise Hutchison

Procrastination by Maggie Storer

Skint by Mandy Taggart

Pink by Mark Sheerin

Wrapped by Martha Williams

Innocence by Michael Grafton

Cheesed by Michael Leonard

Whaler by Nasser Hussain

Ash by Natalie Bowers

Favourite by Nathan Good

Bar by Nicholas Murray

Troll by Nick Garrard

Tattoo by Nicola King

Misgivings by Norma Meechem

Crucifixion by Oscar Windsor-Smith

Freeman by Pauline Frisk

Rhubarb by Pauline Masurel

Kite by Peter Domican

Tarnished by Rachel Green

Space by Rhoda Thompson

Inked by Rin Simpson

Celia by Rosie Williams

Ed! by Rupan Malakin

Noose by Ryan Foster

Harps by Sal Page

Instructions by Sara Crowley

Unteachable by Sarah Schofield

Traditions by Shirley Golden

Zomband by Stephen Green

Crosswords by Stephen Partridge

Summertime by Susan Giles

Eyewitness by Susan Howe

Isolation by Susan Shipp

Shed by Susi Holliday

Valhalla by Tracy Fells

Misunderstanding by Vivien Jones