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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!


It's #StorySunday over on Twitter. In case you don't know what that means, people but the 'hashtag' #StorySunday into their tweets and post a link to a story they like. I've been watching it this morning and a number of people are posting their links to stories which won the first National Flash-Fiction Day micro-fiction competition. I wanted to add a National Flash-Fiction Day voice to the throng, but what an invidious choice, asking me to pick between my children. So, I thought I would post all of the stories here, giving you the chance to read them if you haven't yet, and then I can post a single link and no-one gets left out!

So, in alphabetcial order, here are the ten wonderful stories which won this year's competition. I hope you enjoy them and please feel free to tweet this post, share this post on Facebook, tell your friends on the phone or just sit back on a lazy Sunday and enjoy.

'New Shoes'
by Jenny Adamthwaite

Dad wanted trainers.
"I'd like to know I could run away," he said.
When the hospital bed lay empty, it gave us a moment's hope.

'Sad Lover'
by Jason Bagshaw

Beth and Alana had reservations at the restaurant in town. On the phone Beth said, 'I'll meet you at seven,' and Alana faked excitement and said, 'Can't wait.' Half past seven and the two of them were seated, ordering their drinks, listening to the piano of a popular composer coming through the speakers. 'It's Bach,' said Beth. 'I know,' Alana replied, but she knew it was Mozart and she wanted to break things off with her. 'I'm going to tell George everything,' said Beth and Alana cried inside. 'Good,' Alana said and hummed along to Mozart. To Bach.

'Black Hole'
by Daniel Carpenter

There is a black hole above her house.

This swirling cosmic nothingness, ever expanding, tendrils reaching out across the sky. She does not know how it got there. She knows it's taking her things. She does not remember last Saturday. When she tries to explain it she can't. She wants to say, "There's a black hole above my house and it's stealing every memory I have ever treasured," but it is not the kind of sentence people understand.

The black hole expands, time collapses in on itself.

She discovers her twelve year old self in her attic.

'She'll Leave You For A Man'
by Kirsty Logan

You've always known it: that gleam, that glint, that licking of lips that means she is thinking about them. Men.

She thinks about them while smelling night jasmine, while rolling out pastry, while signing the bill for the waiter.

And so she will go. She will forget the shape of your hands.

But she will tire of her stubble-rashed chin, of long silences and calloused thumbs, of nothing to pillow her head.

So wait. Just wait.

by Amy Mackelden

On Grey's Anatomy, everyone's slept with everybody, and although real life is complicated, I'm sure it's not that complicated, or if it is then everyone's fucking without me, doing it secretly, when I'm at Pilates, or sleeping between ten and eight.

'New Build'
by Clare O'Brien

There is no door to close. Just space, scaffolded, bathed in mud and builder's grit. The air rolls in, clouds of steam boiling from impervious stone, steel rods singing down into the sea.

I can already smell the tang of a fire burning at our bare hearth as the rain sweeps through the rafters. Our boys climb ladders lashed to girders, laugh at the water which sticks their shirts to their backs.

Around our house's heart the rooms are growing shells. Inside these plotted squares we'll live our story. The windows wait outside, roped against the wind.

'The Worst Head in the World'
by Angela Readman

Liam gave me his mother's head. I guess he was sick of carrying it around.

'It's just for a while,' he said, placing the jar on the drawers. In the dark, lips made budgie-like kissing sounds. We had a reason to screw loud.

Come morning, the head tutted, 'I WANT a doily.'

It frowned if I wasted chicken bones, or didn't ask Liam if he'd washed his hands.

When he went, Liam left the head behind. It wavers in the water, tells me I'm not good enough, nods when I iron seams in jeans.

by Tim Stevenson

After the accident she came home rebuilt.

At breakfast, the platinum beneath her skin glows, pulsing with electricity, curiously alive.

I take some toast, spread butter. I see that there are no eggs in the pan.

She smiles, a mechanical lighthouse across the blue ocean of tablecloth. Her head turns smoothly towards the window, her warmth coming only from the sun.

I open my newspaper setting the pages full sail, seeking guidance in the new star of her unreadable face, in the night of her eyes.

Tonight I know I will not dream of her, only of the sea.

'Relieving Mafeking'
by Alun Williams

The 06:17 from Nuneaton stops for three minutes outside Wembley on its approach to Euston. For one hundred and eighty seconds, Mafeking Jones sits open mouthed in his usual seat, staring at a naked woman, framed like a fallen Madonna at her open bedroom window.

No one else notices, no one else sees, perhaps because they are insularly wrapped up in newsprint tales of economic gloom and sporting deeds that have now passed to memory.

Mafeking is an accountant, a man of spreadsheets and numbers but for those three Wembley solitary minutes he's Michaelangelo in a Florentine dream.

'First Person'
by Martha Williams

You lie within me, cupped and curled. You're in me, I'm in you; we're each other's inside out.

They count your fingers, toes, chromosomes... twice. My head spins.

Are you upside down?

They turn off the monitor. They speak in needles, numbers, and odds. I strum my fingers to your kicks.

They say, "If you... we have pills... the products of conception would..." They don't smile. My belly tightens.

Can you feel me? I'm your first person.

I say, "The products of conception, call them 'Emma'".

You lie still...

When you wake, you can call me 'Mum'.


Dear Flash-Fiction Fan,

I am a flash-fiction writer, an editor and a lecturer in Creative Writing, and I have a dream of a day celebrating flash-fiction.
Flash-fiction exists in the grey area between poetry and the short story, so, why not have a day in between the two National Days for those forms dedicated to it? It would be a day in which we tell the world about these short, short stories that we craft and encourage them to read and write them.
As a result, Wednesday May 16th 2012 will be National Flash-Fiction Day in the UK and I need your help.
What I would like is for the day to co-ordinate all the activities you would already do - readings, open-mics, workshops, publications, competitions, and anything else you think of - all under the banner of National Flash-Fiction Day.
There will soon be a website to co-ordinate the events and let people know what's going on in their area. It will also have pages for all flash-fiction writers taking part on which they can feature themselves and their work, add links to buy their books, etc. I want it to be a resource for flash-fiction as much as a site for the Day itself.
So, what I need from you is to start thinking and planning your events; spread the word about the day, about this blog and our Facebook page (, ask people to sign up for the mailing list at and generally become part of the whole thing.
There is no funding behind this event, no mass team of adminstrators, so apart from co-ordinating it, I'm relying on you to do what you do best and bring this thing together.
If you want to volunteer any ideas for promotion, your time to help out, or anything else, please get in touch.
This will be the first National Flash-Fiction Day, but with your help it won't be the last.
Thanks for your support and roll on next May.
All the best
Calum Kerr
National Flash-Fiction Day Co-ordinator.