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National Flash Fiction Day 2019 is about to kick off on Saturday 15th June, and we can think of no better way to get excited than to reveal this year's anthology title, cover, and full line up!

Introducing...
And We Pass Through: National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2019

Knock, knock. Who's there? It must be the eight annual instalment of the National Flash Fiction Day (UK) anthology. This year, we're teeming with all kinds of stories about all kinds of doors, both physical and metaphorical. From advent calendars to Roman Gods, to crazy car chases and curse-sewn wedding dresses, pass through the open door with us to this wild and stirring anthology.

Edited by Santino Prinzi and Joanna Campbell

The title of this year's anthology is borrowed from an evocative story by Joy Manné, and this year's beautiful cover artwork has been created by our artist-in-residence, Jeanette Sheppard.

We're expecting the copies of the anthology to arrive from the printers very soon, so it won't be long before you'll be able to buy the anthology from our bookshop and dive in! The eBook will be soon to follow. If you have Goodreads, you can now add And We Pass Through to your Want to Read list!

We're now thrilled to share the complete contents of this year's anthology, which include special guest flashes from guest authors and the NFFD team, as well as our winning micros from our annual micro fiction competition:

Santino Prinzi MDF
Diane Simmons Odette
Ingrid Jendrzjewski Doors I Have Known, Abridged
Joanna Campbell And then
Judy Darley Skip Diving
Jeanette Sheppard The Algebra of Bones
Kevlin Henney Board in the Library
Angela Readman Sleeping with Our Eyes Open
Susmita Bhattacharya The Behavioural Pattern of a Thunderstorm
Vanessa Gebbie The Door
David Swann Crustaceans Are People Too
Meg Pokrass Barista
Eilise Norris A Person-Shaped Exit
Anne Summerfield Advent
John Wheway All Her Weight
Paul Thompson All our dresses are white
Joy Manné And we pass through, and we pass through, and we pass through
Karen Jones Arabesque
Jenny Adamthwaite Beacons of the Bay
Rebecca Field Behind Closed Doors
Nancy Ludmerer Complicity
Rachael Dunlop Dancing with The Doors
Agnieszka Studzinska Superstitious of Kissing in a Doorway
Jude Higgins Every Good Story Deserves a Car Chase
Gita Smith Falling Man
Rupert Dastur Fire Escape
Cathy Lennon For Display Purposes Only
Richard Holt Grand Complication
Fiona Lincoln How to see The Starry Night
Ruth Skrine I Found God in the barn
Anika Carpenter Less than a Mile from Home
Gabby Turner Letting the Cold Out
Gary Duncan Being Sharks
Emma Neale Listen
Lucy Goldring Listening from the Outside
Stephanie Hutton Listening to the Library
Lynn Mundell Little Temblors
Sarah Davy Maybe Next Time
Emily Devane Mum Tastes of Disappointment
Patricia Q Bidar Neighbors
Alison Powell Not her child, not mine
Elizabeth Lovatt Observations from the Tube Looking Out onto Baker Street Platform
Anna Giangiordano Peach Blossom Season
Alison Woodhouse Press to Play
A B Kyazze Rush Hour
Sarah Salway Safekeeping
Sal Page She Opened the Door in Her Dressing Gown
Jane Roberts Sottotitoli
Mike Scott Thomson The Advent of Us
Marie Day The Catch
Caroline Greene The Cupboard Door c. 1985
Vivien Jones The Doorbell Rings
Michael Loveday The History of the Child and the Door
Jenny Woodhouse The Intercity 125 from Weymouth
Robert Scotellaro The Pencil
James Northern The Sentinel
Debbie Taggio Tomorrow Will Always Find You
Patricia Knight Turn Right
Jo Derrick Unlocking the Heart
Nuala O'Connor Venus Moon
Nod Ghosh We Fly at Night
Helen Rye You Don’t Have To Be An All-Knowing God Of The Roman Pantheon To Work Here (And It Doesn’t Really Help)
Alison Woodhouse For you, I am
Sara Hills Havasu Falls
Nan Wigington Charlie Walker's Thirst
Gaynor Jones Great Sorrows Are Mute
Su Yin Yap Nil by Mouth
Michelle Christophorou His Name was Ash
Elaine Mead Last Night I Saved a Moth from Drowning
Claire Boot Three Strangers
James Burt Behind Every Sign is a Story
Hollie Monhemius Lists

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...But be quick!  Submissions are only open for a week, closing on 9 May 2019 at 23:59 BST (22:59 UTC).

The aim is simple: wherever you are in the world, we want your best flash fictions. The word limit is 500 words, but that's the only rule. Send us any subject, any genre, any style, any perspective...anything as long as it's flash!

All accepted stories will be published online at Flash Flood on National Flash Fiction Day, 15 June 2019 from 00:01 to 23:59 BST.  This year, we've got some slots reserved for unpublished writers, and we're also nominating for awards such as Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize.

Our guidelines have changed this year, so please have a read over our shiny new submission guidelines before you send your work.  If you'd like, you can also read about this year's editors.

We look forward to reading your words!

We are absolutely thrilled to be able to share the 50 stories we have selected for this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology.

This year's theme was Doors, and we'd like to thank everyone who submitted their stories for myself and Joanna to read. We had 371 to choose from, and you did not make it easy for us.

We'd like to thank you all for taking the time to create such stunning and varied work.  I would also like to personally thank Joanna Campbell, who has been so wonderful and insightful while helping me select these stories, and to everyone who donated free entries to the anthology and micro competition to help support those facing financial difficulties or those from marginalised backgrounds.

We encountered all kinds of doors, physical and metaphorical, and you took us places with this theme that we never thought we'd go. The stories we selected resonated with each of us for different reasons, and we can't wait to be able to share these stories with you all when the anthology is published.

Accompanying these 50 stories will be a handful of stories from special guest authors, as well our winning and highly commended micros from our Micro Fiction contest. We'll soon reveal these guest authors, as well as the title of the anthology and our cover art designed by our artist in residence, Jeanette Sheppard!

Now, without further delay...

Congratulations to our anthology authors and their fabulous flashes!

Eilise Norris A Person-Shaped Exit
Anne Summerfield Advent
John Wheway All Her Weight
Paul Thompson All our dresses are white
Joy Manné And we pass through, and we pass through, and we pass through
Karen Jones Arabesque
Jenny Adamthwaite Beacons of the Bay
Rebecca Field Behind Closed Doors (first line: Behind Your Front Door)
Nancy Ludmerer Complicity
Rachael Dunlop Dancing with The Doors
Agnieszka Studzinska Doors (first line: Superstitious of Kissing in a Doorway)
Jude Higgins Every Good Story Deserves a Car Chase
Gita Smith Falling Man
Rupert Dastur Fire Escape
Cathy Lennon For Display Purposes Only
Richard Holt Grand Complication
Fiona Lincoln How to see The Starry Night
Ruth Skrine I Found God in the barn
Anika Carpenter Less than a Mile from Home
Gabby Turner Letting the Cold Out
Gary Duncan Like Father, Like Son
Emma Neale Listen
Lucy Goldring Listening from the Outside
Stephanie Hutton Listening to the Library
Lynn Mundell Little Temblors
Sarah Davy Maybe Next Time
Emily Devane Mum Tastes of Disappointment
Patricia Bidar Neighbors
Alison Powell Not her child, not mine
Elizabeth Lovatt Observations from the Tube Looking Out onto Baker Street Platform
Anna Giangiordano Peach Blossom Season
Alison Woodhouse Press to Play
Amelia Kyazze Rush Hour
Sarah Salway Safekeeping
Sal Page She Opened the Door in Her Dressing Gown
Jane Roberts Sottotitoli
Mike Scott Thomson The Advent of Us
Marie Day The Catch
Caroline Greene The Cupboard Door c. 1985
Vivien Jones The Doorbell Rings
Michael Loveday The History of the Child and the Door
Jenny Woodhouse The Intercity 125 from Weymouth
Robert Scotellaro The Pencil
James Northern The Sentinel
Debbie Taggio Tomorrow Will Always Find You
Patricia Knight Turn Right
Joanne Derrick Unlocking the Heart
Nuala O'Connor Venus Moon
Nod Ghosh We Fly at Night
Helen Rye You Don’t Have To Be An All-Knowing God Of The Roman Pantheon To Work Here (And It Doesn’t Really Help)

Our anthology is scheduled to be published in June in time for National Flash Fiction Day and this year's Flash Fiction FestivalWe'll be in contact with the selected authors about the next stages some time this week.

Why not come along to our launch event? This year, the launch is in Coventry! More details about the launch can be found on our Events page.

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It is with great pleasure that we announce the winning and highly commended stories of this year's National Flash Fiction Day micro fiction competition!

These ten stories have now been published on our website and will be published in the forthcoming 2019 National Flash Fiction Day anthology, due to be published in June.
Congratulations to our winning stories and their authors:
 
First Place Winner:
For you, I am by Alison Woodhouse
Second Place Winner:
Havasu Falls by Sara Hills
Third Place Winner:
Charlie Walker's Thirst by Nan Wigington
 
Congratulations to our highly commended stories and their authors:
Great Sorrows are Mute by Gaynor Jones
Nil by Mouth by S Yap
His Name was Ash by Michelle Christophorou
Last Night I Saved a Moth from Drowning by Elaine Mead
Three Strangers by Claire Boot
Behind Every Sign is a Story by James Burt

Lists by Hollie Monhemius

All of the winning stories are available to read here on our website: 2019 Microfiction Results.

Again, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for sending us your micros and to our judges, Angela Readman, Diane Simmons, Judy Darley, and Kevlin Henney, for the difficult but enjoyable task of reading through all of your entries.

We'll be in touch with our highly commended and winning authors in the near future. If you have also submitted to the 2019 anthology, we will be announcing the line up by the middle of next week!

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507 incredible little micro fictions were submitted to this year's National Flash Fiction Day Micro Fiction Competition.

507 stunning little micro fictions found their way into the hands of our micro competition judges Angela Readman, Diane Simmons, Kevlin Henney, and Judy Darley.

507 powerful little micro fictions have been whittled down to a shortlist of only 26. It's no easy task, so we'd like to take this opportunity to thank our judges for all their hard work with this tremendous task.

Nor is it easy to tell a story in 100 words or fewer. We'd like to thank everyone who submitted for trusting us with their gems!

Now, without further delay, our 26 shortlisted stories are:

Archipelago David Hartley
Bare Annabel Hopkins
Behind Every Sign is a Story James Burt
Charlie Walker's Thirst Nan Wigington
Christmas Time in the City Simon Harris
Eyes Liz Quinn
Firestarter Anna Giangiordano
For you, I am Alison Woodhouse
Great Sorrows Are Mute Gaynor Jones
Havasu Falls Sara Hills
His Name was Ash Michelle Christophorou
History of Sound Barbara McVeigh
Last Night I Saved a Moth from Drowning Elaine Mead
Lists Hollie Monhemius
Mail Jac Jenkins
Nil by Mouth S Yap
Plow in the Sky Jesse Sensibar
Sisters in a Hotel Twin Room, 1988 Lucy Goldring
Snapping the Mermaid Maxine Davies
The Elementary Music Teacher Jeanette Topar
The Muscovy Duck Jeanette Topar
The Siege Maxine Davies
Three Strangers Claire Boot
Two Miles to Springsteen Melanie Dixon
We fed them to the lion Paul Thompson
Younger than records will show Paul Thompson

Congratulations to all of our shortlisted authors!

The judges have made their final selections, and we'll be announcing our winning and highly commended stories this weekend!

If you have submitted for the National Flash Fiction Day anthology, editors Joanna Campbell and Santino Prinzi are making their final selections as you read, and we'll be announcing the stories that'll be included next week.

We're currently open for submissions for our anthology and micro fiction competition! To celebrate, we've conducted a series of interviews with our anthology editors and competition judges. This week, we conclude with an interview from our artist-in-residence, Jeanette SheppardDiane Simmons speaks to Jeanette about flash fiction, sketching, and where she draws inspiration from...

Diane: As well as being a talented artist, you also write flash fiction, with numerous publications including two NFFD anthologies. Which came first, writing or sketching? Or have you always done both?

Jeanette: Thank you for saying that about my writing and my sketches, Diane. I’d also like to say how thrilled I am to be Artist in Residence for NFFD. The straightforward answer to your question is that the writing came before the on-location sketching, but in a sense they happened at the same time. I enjoyed both drawing and writing as a child, although I only ever copied from drawings in books which is quite a different experience altogether to on-location sketching and I only wrote one story that I can remember. I drew on and off from photographs until my early twenties. I began writing in my early forties. I used to work in TV Drama production so writing scripts felt like the natural place to start, but I was increasingly drawn to prose and then wrote a novel while studying for an MA in Creative Writing. When I discovered flash fiction via the first National Flash Fiction Day in 2012, it felt like a light had been switched on and I began to submit to competitions. Although, I didn’t submit a great deal because there weren’t many places to send flash fiction back then and I didn’t have the confidence to rework pieces and keep sending them out. A few years ago, when I was fifty, I reached a point where I didn’t feel I could write anymore. I was suffering anxiety related to my parents’ increasing ill health and, at the time, my mother’s dementia diagnosis (my father was diagnosed too a year later). I told my step-daughter how I had started to draw again to help with my anxiety and her partner introduced me to Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters: A Memoir. Danny Gregory taught himself to draw by sketching life around him after his wife became paralysed from the waist down following an accident. Through his book I discovered urban sketching, also known as on-location sketching. Not long after this I began writing and submitting again. Stepping back from writing and looking at the world through a different lens had made a difference. I submitted a flash I’d sent out a while back that had been rejected. It was short-listed for the Fish Prize and later published in National Flash Fiction Day’s 2014 anthology, Eating My Words. Since then writing and on-location sketching have run alongside each other and support each other. Until recently I saw my sketches purely as a way of relaxing while paying close attention to the world, but people are now asking to publish them. I was honoured to be asked to provide the cover artwork for your debut collection of flash fiction and create the artwork for NFFD.

Diane: I see that you have a flash fiction in a short story vending machine at Edmonton Airport, Canada. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Jeanette: There is a wonderful community of flash fiction writers out there who post information about opportunities. I saw a post by the amazing writer Helen Rye, whose wonderful story is the title of the NFFD Anthology Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, saying that Jason Lee Norman was looking for flash fictions to go into a Short Edition vending machine in a Canadian Airport. There are machines in a number of locations in France and Francis Ford Coppola has one in his San Francisco restaurant, Cafe Zoetrope. I believe the one in Edmonton is the first in Canada. The machine stands in one of the terminals, passengers press a button and out comes a flash fiction. Freya Morris, who, by the way, has just published her stunning debut collection This is (Not About) David Bowie, is in the process of approaching airports in the UK. I hope it happens!

Diane: I understand that you run something called ‘Sketch Coventry’. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Jeanette: I set up Sketch Coventry five years ago. It’s an open meet-up that runs once a month. Anyone can turn up on the day and sketch no matter what their experience. It’s an opportunity primarily for people to capture life. I came to on-location sketching through anxiety but people don’t need to have experienced anxiety to come along. We are not a mindfulness group, but paying attention is inherent in on-location sketching because you have to look and focus on what is in front of you. People come along for their own reasons. Some come just for the process, some come to practice their drawing skills, others will come because they like the social side, many attend because they feel less self-conscious sketching on the street when they are in a group. Whatever the reasons people come along, the end result is a sketch of Coventry. It might be a sketch of a building or buildings, it might be people in a cafe. It can be whatever the sketcher wants to capture. There are big changes happening in Coventry, especially because it is City of Culture 2021, so our sketches are also a personal record of a changing city.

Diane: Coventry suffered very heavily from bomb damage in the war, but there are still some beautiful buildings left, with the half-ruined cathedral being particularly interesting. Looking at the sketches one your website, I notice that there aren't any of the grander buildings in the city. Is this deliberate?

Jeanette: Absolutely, there are many wonderful buildings. The Cathedral ruins are certainly a poignant and powerful reminder of a devastating time in the history of Coventry. There are also other magnificent medieval and Tudor buildings that survived the bombing such as The Old Grammar School and Bond’s Hospital, plus smaller gems tucked away, such as the Weaver’s House and Lychgate Cottages. In answer to your question about why I haven’t included any of the grander building on my website, it’s really a question of what my eye is naturally drawn to. I’m interested in shining a torch on people and on the smaller things in life. Is it any surprise I write flash! Actually, there is only one sketch of Coventry on my website at the moment because many of the images I’ve created to date were drawn across two pages in a landscape sketchbook and they are difficult to reproduce successfully on the website. I never imagined I would have a website, sketching was just for pleasure and something to be shared with other sketchers.

Diane: Most writers draw on their own life experiences in some way in order to write fiction. Are there any periods in your life that you use more than others as material?

Jeanette: I suppose it might help to say here that I’m not a planner. One of the reasons I enjoy writing flash is the sense of discovery it allows. I can sit down and see what comes out then sculpt what’s on the page into some kind of shape. Over the last few years my parents’ physical health and dementia has been an enormous part of my life and without doubt the feelings around that have influenced my writing, but I wouldn’t say I have written about that experience in a direct, CNF way. It is more about tapping into emotions surrounding the experience. One of my flash fictions, for example, features a narrator filling her lounge with water so that she can swim in order to escape the pressures of caring. That obviously didn’t happen in real life, but the emotional truth is there. I’ve recently realised that I’ve probably written some flash as a form of protection: I’ve created situations that I may one day have to face, especially in terms of dementia. My latest flash to be published, in The Nottingham Review, features a mother who doesn’t recognise her daughter. That hasn’t happened to me yet, but after I’d written it I realised I was preparing myself for the day that it might happen. Not recognising family doesn’t happen to everyone who has dementia, of course, I want to be clear about that. I have just completed a novella-in-flash which has absolutely nothing to do with dementia but the emotions that can surround caring for someone are definitely present in some way, be it in a real, magically real, or surreal way.

Jeanette SheppardJeanette Sheppard is a short fiction writer and sketch artist. Her most recent flash fictions can be seen in The Nottingham Review, Ellipsis Zine and Flash Fiction Festival Anthology: Two. Other stories have been published in a number of literary magazines, including Bare Fiction, Litro and The Lonely Crowd. Jeanette’s art revolves around sketching on streets, in buildings, cafes, fields, train stations, anywhere that she happens to be, in ink and watercolour. Every month she runs Sketch Coventry, a self-led open meet up. You can find out more at: jeanettesheppard.com or on Twitter: @InkLinked @JinnySketches

 

SUBMISSIONS CLOSE VERY SOON for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th March 2019. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

Welcome to the sixth in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and micro fiction competition judges! This week, Santino Prinzi is in conversation with micro fiction competition judge, Kevlin Henney, who discusses clichés, live performances, and editing tips...

Santino: Kevlin, you’ve read, written, and judged many micros in your time. What, in your opinion, makes a micro pop?

Kevlin: Like anything that pops, there has to be some kind of energy to release. There’s not a lot of space in a micro, so use of language is essential not just structural. Whether the language is shaken or stirred, it can’t be flat — language is where that released energy comes from.

Depending on the story, the language can be spare, novel, humorous, grave, playful, meditated, slow, fast, but it should definitely be. Every word, every construction, is working in a gig economy, passing through but holding down multiple jobs. They have their grammatical roles to fulfil, but they also need to pass interviews on flavour — or feel or colour or whichever sense metaphor captures for you the quality of the story you sense and want the reader to experience — pace, mood, appropriateness — don’t stumble from pathos to bathos. Write but don’t be writerly.

Santino: Where do you draw inspiration for your own work?

Kevlin: Many of my stories grow from moments, either imagined or observed. A toddler unlocking the door of a public toilet onto a concourse, mother not yet ready. A teenager discovering a seam on her neck. Being served an empty plate in a restaurant.

And then this moment sparks another thought or shacks up with another moment... and before you know it a story is growing, whether gently below the surface of your awareness or in a mad rush through your fingers onto the page. There’s rarely a big idea or a strict intention — if those are present in the final story, they are usually late arrivals, realised sometime after the small idea or the accidental insight.

Santino: I have seen you read your flash fiction at various live events and you always read with energy and character. How important do you think going to live readings of flash fiction, or any literature, is?

Kevlin: Where the written word counts as a single medium of expression, reading counts as many. The written word can come alive through sight, through sound and, via Braille, through touch. Reading is sensual.

Giving life to fiction through live readings adds a public performance side to the otherwise private life of personal reading. Stories can support public and private experiences, extrovert and introvert contexts, the prosocial and the hermetic. A live reading can show both listener and reader different sides of a story, it can bring stories to new audiences, it can contribute to the experience of an event, it can be downright fun!

Compared with longer forms, flash fiction is the fiction of minutes not quarter hours, falling comfortably within the limits of attention span, jostling with poetry as a natural fit for this platform.

Santino: People argue that the key to writing great flash fiction isn’t only in the act of writing itself but in the editing, too. Could you please share your favourite writing and/or editing tips that help you transform the idea in your head into the piece of writing you wish it to be?

Kevlin: Editing is where the story can go from toddling around, bumping into inconsistencies and not yet sure of itself, to coming of age, with a sureness of purpose and more solid wordfall.

For me, editing is where I wrangle the words and sentences to defamiliarise and refamiliarise myself with the story. Work out what story is being told while working out how to tell it. Noise words, jobless clauses and filler sentences served a supporting role in the initial draft, but their contract’s over, so let them go.

But what about repetition and cliché? Repetition is double edged (or triple, quadruple...). Conventionally repetition is something to strike out, but repetition can lend a story foreshadowing, theme, pace and rhythm. The answer is not as simple as three strikes and it’s out.

And rather than say that clichés should be avoided, any cliché should either tell us of era or of person — if a cliché has a strong association, work that angle, you’re worldbuilding with an economy of words — or it should be played with and subverted — surprise the reader! But clichés that just fill the space don’t spark joy, so bin them.

Santino: If you could liken flash fiction to a piece of technology, fictional or real, what would it be and why?

Kevlin: Flash fiction is a smartphone. It fits in your pocket but contains the world. You can get lost in it. You can show others. You can take it anywhere and anywhen.

Kevlin Henney writes shorts and flashes and drabbles of fiction and books and articles on software development. His fiction has appeared online and on tree (Daily Science FictionLitroNew ScientistPhysics WorldSpelkReflex FictionLabLitFlight Journal and many more) and has been included in a number of anthologies (The Dark Half of the Year,North by SouthwestWe Can Improve YouHauntedSalt Anthology of New WritingRipeningSleep Is a Beautiful Colour and many more). As well as having his work rejected and make no impression whatsoever on writing competitions, Kevlin’s stories have been longlisted, shortlisted and placed, and he won the CrimeFest 2014 Flashbang contest. He reads at spoken word events, winning the National Flash-Fiction Day Oxford flash slam in 2012, and has performed his work on local radio (BBC Radio Bristol and Ujima). Kevlin has been involved in the organisation of the Bristol Festival of Literature and events for National Flash-Fiction Day. He lives in Bristol and online, where he can stalked as @KevlinHenney on Twitter, @kevlinhenney on Medium and @kevlin.henney on Instagram.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th March 2019. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

We would like to start by thanking everyone who has donated to National Flash Fiction Day. This has enabled us to be able to offer free entry to authors who may not otherwise be able to submit. It makes a real difference, so thank you.

We have a number of free entries for our Micro Fiction competition and our “Doors” themed anthology available to authors from marginalised backgrounds or anyone suffering economic hardship.

To be considered eligible for a free entry, you must meet at least one from the following criteria:

  • Recipient of Universal Credit or Carer’s Allowance.
  • Recipient of a state retirement pension and little other income.
  • BAME writer.
  • LGBTQIA+ or Non-Binary writer.
  • Disabled.
  • Full-time university students.

You do not need to state which applies to you if you’d prefer not to, and we will not be asking for proof of eligibility.

We expect demand to outstrip the number of entries we can provide, and we would like to offer entries to as many people as possible. Free entries will be offered in good faith, but we would like to advise authors who do have means to pay for entry to do so instead.

To apply, please send an email to FreeEntryNFFD@gmail.com and state which is your first choice: micro fiction competition entry, or “Doors” themed anthology entry. If we are able to offer you a free entry, we will advise you on how to redeem this.

Again, we would like to thank everyone who has helped make this possible through donations. We shall remain open to donations, for those who wish to still donate, which can be done through the donation button on our submission guidelines pages.

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Welcome to the fifth in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and micro fiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with one of this year's micro fiction competition judges, Judy Darley, about her forthcoming collection and what she's looking for when judging our micro competition...

Diane: Your collection, Remember Me to the Bees, was published by Tangent books in 2014 and your second collection, Sky Light Rain, is out soon. Can you tell us a little about them both? 

Judy: Remember Me to the Bees was actually published by micropress Scopophilia, though Tangent Books kindly host it on their site. It brings together 20 of my short stories exploring the way people attempt to survive and thrive, and the mistakes we can make in the process. A reviewer described it as a book of lost and broken people and things, which seems to fit. 

Sky Light Rain will be published by Valley Press, and will contain my short stories, flash fictions and poetry. Flash fiction is increasingly the medium I turn to in exploring my fascination with the fallibilities and strengths of the human mind.

Diane: For the last couple of years, you have run a flash walk in Bristol to celebrate NFFD. Could you tell me a bit about the walk and how it came into being?

Judy: I love experiencing fiction in different ways. A few years ago I took part in a St Ann’s Day pilgrimage across part of Bristol in which actors performed site-specific stories. One of mine was included and there was something magical about being part of a horde of people all brought together with the same intent, listening to words unfurl in unlikely places. At last year’s Flash Walk, we got a trio of fantastic actors on board to share 12 amazing stories. My favourite bit is meeting people who have never ventured out on anything like a flash walk before, and seeing the intrigue on the faces of people passing by. The enjoyment of fiction can be contagious!

Diane: I have heard you perform your flashes several times and always read so well. Do you enjoy reading to an audience? 

Judy: Thanks so much! I love reading to an audience, but I have to make sure I practice a lot beforehand. There’s always a chance nerves will wriggle in and make my mind go blank. If I know the story well enough, that’s not a problem: the words just bubble up and I keep going with, hopefully, the audience none the wiser.

Diane: You are one of the judges for this year’s NFFD micro competition. Is there anything you are particularly looking for in a micro flash? Is there anything that you think makes a micro stand out?

Judy: A micro flash can be such a powerful thing. I’m hoping to discover pieces that move me with emotions that bubble just beneath the surface. A skilful flash writer can condense the resonance of a novel into 100-words. I want to read pieces that leave ripples.

Diane: Do you have a favourite flash? Either one you’ve written, or one by another writer? 

Judy: There are so many breathtaking flash fiction writers emerging that I seem to discover new favourites most days. Frances Gapper has some wonderful flashes in her collection In The Wild Wood, and 'Gingerbread' by Joanna Campbell, which appeared in Ripening: National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2018, is a rare, unsettling treat. The true test for me is whether I remember them long after reading. Grace Palmer’s ‘In 1960’, published by FlashBack Fiction  has haunted me for months.

 

Judy Darley is a British fiction writer, poet and journalist who can't stop writing about the fallibilities and strengths of the human mind. Her flash fiction and stories have been published by magazines and anthologies in the UK, New Zealand, US and Canada, including Seren Books, MslexiaUnthology 8 and SmokeLong Quarterly, as well as in her debut collection Remember Me To The Bees. Sky Light Rain, her second collection, will be published by Valley Press in autumn 2019. She has shared her stories on BBC radio, as well as in cafés, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church. Find Judy at http://www.SkyLightRain.com, and https://twitter.com/JudyDarley.

 

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th March 2019. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

We are also trying to secure funding to offer free entries to disadvantaged and marginalised writers. If you would like to help us do this by donating entries, please contact us at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com.

Welcome to the fourth in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and micro fiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons squeezes out secrets from one of this year's anthology editors, Santino Prinzi...

Diane: The theme for this year’s NFFD anthology is ‘Doors’. Is there anything in particular you are looking for in a submission?

Santino: This is always a difficult question to answer because I’m always surprised and awe-struck by the variety of ways writers interpret our anthology themes. No matter the ways in which I imagine, everyone always takes it to another level. In last year’s anthology, Ripening, authors created such incredibly varied stories about food, taking their stories in directions I couldn't have dreamed.

That’s what I want again this year! I want stories that offer such a unique take on the theme that it’s screaming to be shared with the world. Doors absolutely must be integral to the story – in what way is up to you to decide.

If you’re flummoxed, make yourself come up with 6 different ideas. Not full stories, merely gut responses. This forces you to think harder, to dig deeper. I can almost guarantee idea number 5 or 6 will excite you. Knock on that door, see who answers!

Diane: You are editing the anthology this year with Joanna Campbell. You have worked on previous editions with Meg Pokrass and Alison Powell. Can you explain a little about the editing process and, in particular, whether there is usually much consensus between the two editors over which stories to choose?

Santino: First and foremost: our anthology editors read every single story submitted. Each editor makes a list of their favourite 50 stories from all those submissions and any stories that are on both of the editors’ lists are automatically in. Most years, there’s usually around 20 stories or so that appear on both lists. The editors then discuss which stories fill these remaining spaces. We also only feature one story per person because we like to include as many different perspectives as possible in our anthologies. The only exception to this is when an author has a story selected for the anthology and has placed in the top ten for the micro fiction competition because the micro competition is judged separately. 

Editing the anthology is always such a joy. Every guest editor has their own take, their own preferences. Most of all, every editor I have worked with has shown such care and consideration for the stories they read. They take their time, they read and re-read, and they discuss these stories with such insight. I always learn so much working with these wonderful editors. I think that’s what makes these anthologies quite special -- and the stories of course!

After the stories have been chosen, there’s a lot more work to do. I won’t bore you with those details…

Diane: Last year V. Press published your flash pamphlet, There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This. Can you tell me a little about the pamphlet, particularly what you learned from putting it together?

Santino: There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This was born from playful disbelief. I almost didn’t send V-Press the manuscript. When they were open for submissions, I thought that it was something I’d love to do but I didn’t have any material. I didn’t want to waste their time. 

I write stories about LGBTQ+ people. Not consciously, it just happens more often than not. One evening I collected some of these stories together to what would it look like. I saw connections and common themes that I didn’t see in these stories as individuals. I just went for it. If you don't, it's a no. If you do, maybe it might not be...

There's Something Macrocosmic About All of This by Santino Prinzi

There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This, then, is a series of flashes that attempt to normalise the LGBTQ+ experience. This isn’t, in any way, to devalue LGBTQ+ people and these experiences, but rather to not let these flashes be defined by stereotypes. These characters are LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ is who they are, it’s not what they do. What happens to the characters in these stories happens to them because they are people. People love, people fight, people learn lessons the hard way. Love is love, an argument is an argument, a lesson learned is a lesson learned. 

Regardless of our differences, we share a commonality. I think the title of the pamphlet suggests this too. We’re all a part of something much bigger than ourselves. We exist in our own little world and our perspective of it, but we’re all a part of the bigger story and the shared human experience.

I'm currently working on a full-length collection of flash fiction. I've developed a new writing process which has meant I have a lot of unpublished drafts, and refining this material will be my focus (I hope) after editing the anthology this year. Some of it may even creep out into the world...

Diane: You studied creative writing at Bath Spa University. Was it there that you first encountered flash fiction? And if so, what was your preferred form before that?

Santino: I think most people who study creative writing do so with certain expectations, certain ideas in their head. I didn’t have a preferred form, though I fancied writing YA. I joke that I was going to write a novel that would out-sell John Green. However, as you dive in to study with pre-conceived notions swirling around, you’re encouraged to loosen your grip so you can be open to new possibilities. I attended a reading by a writer who soon became one of my favourites: Tania Hershman. 

Tania’s words off the page as well as on them opened my eyes to the possibilities within very short forms, as well as giving yourself permission to experiment and explore the freedom you actually have when writing. If you are not familiar with Tania’s work, buy her books. You’ll thank me later.

Diane: How important do you think titles are in flash fictions? 

Santino: Titles are powerful and they’re often underestimated. They can define the meaning of your entire story, or the meaning of the title can slowly shift and fade into various meanings as you progress through the story itself. I like titles that demand my attention, that are risky. All writing, in a way, is about taking risks, so why not take risks with our titles?

Titles are also hard to decide upon, but they don’t need to be complicated. As much as I’m a sucker for a title that’s as mysterious as it is poetic, a simple one-word title can be just as effective. I think the title of our 2017 anthology, Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, is a great example. Helen Rye’s title is unusual, conjures a strong image, creates intrigue and, while reading the story, you understand how it is integral to the flash itself.

Santino Prinzi
Santino Prinzi

 

Santino Prinzi is a Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day in the UK, a Consulting Editor for New Flash Fiction Review, and is one of the founding organisers of the annual Flash Fiction Festival. His flash fiction pamphlet, There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This (2018), is available from V-Press, and his short flash collection, Dots and other flashes of perception (2016), is available from The Nottingham Review Press. As well as a nominee for the Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions, and the Pushcart Prize, his writing has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Jellyfish Review, And Other Poems, The AirgonautStories for Homes Anthology Vol.2 and many more. To find out more follow him on Twitter (@tinoprinzi) or visit his website: santinoprinzi.com

 

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th March 2019. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

We are also trying to secure funding to offer free entries to disadvantaged and marginalised writers. If you would like to help us do this by donating entries, please contact us at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com.