Flash Fiction Festival 2023 Picture Gallery

Thank you to everyone who came to the fifth in-person flash fiction festival 14th-16th July 2023, at Trinity College, Bristol a month ago now. It was a wonderful celebratory occasion. I have been collecting up all the great photographs people took during the weekend and posted on social media and have created a gallery of them below. We have pictures starting with the flash fiction fete on Friday afternoon, organised brilliantly inside by Electra Rhodes when the outside event was rained off. There are pictures of Luciano cooking the Friday evening paella, pictures of people reading, lots of the bookshop, a few of presenters teaching workshops,lots of karaoke and portrait shots of writers having fun. We raised £440 from the festival raffle and thank you to everyone for buying tickets and to Nicola Keller for selling them. The money is now donated to the Bristol Refugee Orchestra.

And STOP PRESS!! I have now secured the date of the next Flash Fiction Festival at Trinity College. Bristol. Mark in your diaries 12-14 July 2024!. Next year there’s possibility of coming on Thursday night for socialising with friends and perhaps other low key events. And also staying on Sunday evening too, for wind-down time. We have more rooms avaiable at Trinity college next year and also rooms available again at nearby Churchill Halls of Residence. Booking open and more details, soon.

In the meantime, I am organising a further trio of all-day online festival days on Saturday October 28th, Saturday Novemeber 25 and Saturday, January 13th. I am asking some of those who ran workshops at the festival to repeat them online, together with readings, chats and mini-contests with prizes. As with previous online days. More details on this website too, soon.

And if you came to the festival this year, don’t forget to submit stories (up to three) for consideration for the 2023 anthology.

Jude, August 13th 2024.

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Pokrass Prize Winners, July 2023

Thank you to everyone who entered the Pokrass Prize, prompt set and stories judged by Meg Pokrass It was exciting to announce the three 2023 winners at the festival. Big congratulations to first prize, James Montgomery, and two runners-up, Anika Carpenter and Patricia Q. Bidar. Their stories are published below, along with Meg’s comments, and they will be included in our sixth festival anthology.

Our big thanks to Meg for providing the prompt and for judging. She asked entrants to write a story that focused on a particular span of time in a character’s life. It could be 10 minutes or 10 years. 300 words max including four of the following words. plain, cosmetic, hear, pin, simple, convict, lunchtime, hair
There was a photo too, which some writers used to inspire them.

Thanks to all the festival particpants who entered. Meg wrote this after reading the selection:

The Flash Fiction Festival is a such a unique gathering that attracts many of the most gifted writers of the flash form, and the strength of these entries was no surprise. Suffice it to say that it was challenging to choose one winner and two Finalists when so many pieces were rich in imagination, originality and charm. Because of its tiny word count and experimental quality, flash fiction offers us the freedom to make each piece our very own— encourages us to be bold, inventors. Finding ones very own way of telling a story that nobody else can tell is crucial to not only grabbing a readers’ attention, but to holding it there. After lingering over these entries for some time, finally the top three emerged. Read in Full

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Festival Raffle

At the in-person flash fiction festival, Friday 14th to Sunday 16th July, 2023 in Bristol, UK, volunteer, Nicola Keller will sold raffle tickets for the prizes below plus more people donated at the weekend and £440 was raised (topped up to £500 by John Wheway) for target=”_blank”>Dovetail Refugee Orchestra , in Bristol.

Here is our list of prizes!

  • Hall and Woodhouse, who have generously supported us at previous festivals, are donating a £200 voucher towards an overnight stay at one of their hotels.

Books in the Raffle

Diane Simmons is offering her flash fiction collection Finding A Way, and her Novella-in-Flash, An Inheritance.

Nancy Stohlman is offering a copy of her incredibly useful flash fiction guide book, ‘Going Short’,published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2021.

  • Our sponsor, Bath Flash Fiction Award is offering three free entries to Bath Flash Fiction Award worth £18.00

    Workshops and Courses

  • Two free places at one of the next online Flash Fiction festivals to be scheduled in the Autumn. Dates arranged soon. Worth £30 each for a whole day of flash fiction.
  • Two places (one person for each) on of next series of Grist to the Mill with Vanessa Gebbie.

    • A free year-long membership with the amazing Writer’s HQ
    • A selection of Writers’ HQ merch: mugs, tote bags and notebooks
    • Writers’ HQ is an online creative writing school for ‘badass writers with no time or money’ that offers a huge catalogue of online writing courses, webinars, workshops and resources, along with our flashtastic free weekly Flash Face Off challenge. We also happen to have the very best writing community in town to help you find your literary home and develop your writing with a team of friendly cheerleaders!
      Find out more at or throw us a gif @writers_hq on Twitter.

    Anika Carpenter, who runs Flash Cabin is offering a year’s worth of Art & Flash sessions

    The Propelling Pencil is offering 1 x critique of stories up to 500 words and
    1 x voucher redeemable against any upcoming workshop

    A voucher for 50% off creative coaching from the Story Road (Audrey Niven)

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    Flash Fiction Festival Five!

    At last, the anthology of flash fictions from the presenters and participants from the online days and the face-to-face weekend, last July 2022,in Bristol, UK, is back from the printers and free copies are being posted off to contributors this week! The anthology is the fifth one in the rainbow series. Two more colours to go (indigo and violet) until we complete the spectrum and go into the white space of what happens next!

    Flash Fiction Festival Volume Five, published by Ad Hoc Fiction and compiled by 2022 Flash Fiction Festival Director, Jude Higgins and former flash fiction festival director, Diane Simmons, is split into several sections: stories from presenters; stories by competition winners from several of our online days, 2021 and 2022 which were not included in our previous anthologies; winners of the 2022 Pokrass prize and stories by writers who came to the weekend last year, many of them inspired by workshops at the festival. The anthology will be available to buy from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop very soon and also from Amazon worldwide in paperback. Read in Full

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    Winners from the Triptych Challenge, Online Festival day, January 2023

    For the New Year, the last of the trio of the online festival days in the series, our festival director, Jude, set two writing challenges. In each of the previous days, writers had been asked to write a story based on a painting. All the paintings are of women. As well as the first writing challenge for this month, based on the woman baking in the kitchen (read the winners here) for this challenge she asked writers to compose a ‘triptych’ story of three paragraphs connecting all three women, in the paintings in some way. For an added challenge and connection between each, she asked writers to keep to five sentence paragraphs and to include the same five words in each paragraph.

    Thanks again to all who entered this very exacting challenge and to Diane Simmons for judging. As in the previous challenge, prizes are entries to Bath Flash Fiction Award, books from Ad Hoc Fiction and publication in print in the Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, Vol 6. Linda Grierson-Irish won the challenge and Sharon Telfer and Debra A Daniel were runners up. Congratulations to all!
    Read in Full

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    Winners! Nov 2022 Great Festival Flash Off Writing Challenge

    At the online Great Festival Flash Off online day, Jude gave a prompt based on this picture,’Reading in a Cafe’, painted in 1920, by American artist Jane Petersen, 1876-1965, an American Impressionist and Expressionist artist. Thanks to everyone who entered stories and many congratulations to the three winners. First prize, Sudha Balagopal and two runners-up Sara Hills and Cheryl Markosky. Thanks also to Diane Simmons our judge for the trio of festival days. Her comments and the stories and authors’ bios are posted below. The winner receives two books published by Ad Hoc Fiction, three free entries to Bath Flash Fiction Award, to be used at any time, and publication in paperback in a Flash Fiction Festival anthology. The runners up receive one book and both other prizes. There are two contests on our Saturday January 7th Great Festival New Year Flash Off. You can book here. Hope to see you there for more festival fun. Read in Full

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    Winners, Oct 8th Great Festival Flash Off Writing Challenge

    We’re channelling The Great British Bake Off TV show again in our trio of online days. On the first day, Jude offered a ‘signature’ writing prompt based on this painting,’The Green Cloth’, from 1976, by Norwegian artist. Roald Kyllingstad. Writers were asked to pick details from the painting and think of ‘what if’ scenarios including some of these details and write a piece of up to 350 words. There were some very inventive takes on this.

    Thank you to everyone who entered and we’re now delighted to announce the winners. The first prize winner receives three free entries to plus two Ad Hoc Fiction books and publication here and in our forthcoming festival anthology. The runners up also receive three free entries and one book from Ad Hoc Fiction plus publication.
    Diane Simmons judged the competition and first prize goes to Anika Carpenter and the two runners up to S. A. Greene and Kathryn Aldridge=Morris. Congratulations to all! Read in Full

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    The Pokrass Prize Results

    Our Flash Fiction Festival Curator, Meg Pokrass wasn’t able to be involved in the Festival this year, but she set a prompt and judged the entries for the Pokrass Prize.Thanks to all the festival go-ers who participated. Writers were asked to respond to the picture here and to the random words – night, exposure, spots, star, golden, normal, heavy and write a micro, max 150 words. There were so many very inventive pieces. The winning pieces published here, will also be published in our fifth festival anthology, out by the end of this year.

    Meg said this about the stories and the winners:

    “It was fun diving in and mulling over these incredible entries. Judging a contest at this high level of writing is very hard and at the same time, exhilarating. It is a thrill to see how much good writing is going on with the Flash Fiction Festival writers. I am sad not to be with you this year, but through reading these wonderful stories, I once again feel deeply connected to the writers at FFF. There were many strong and original micros that it did feel impossible to choose only three. And yet, three had to be chosen… So here you go!

    The winning story, “Miracle Grow”, is a dark and surreal story about a damaged marriage fast-growing like damaging weeds under the floorboards. This writer’s use of compression and stunning sensory details won me over and I couldn’t look away. “The Horses, Beneath” is a poetic piece filled with brilliant, startling imagery and the resulting effect is mythical. Past and present merge, and the reader is thrust into a strange, illuminating yet invisible universe that lives beneath or feet. “Our Own Personal Universe” is a story that brought the prompt to life for me in a deeply emotional and cinematic way. A happy love story that shines like a star in the darkest of nights.”

    Winner Jane Salmons with ‘Miracle Grow’

    Jane Salmons is from Stourbridge in the West Midlands. She was a teacher in the sixth form college sector for nearly three decades and now works part time as a consultant teacher trainer and private tutor. Her poetry pamphlet Enter GHOST was published with dancing girl press in 2022. Her debut poetry collection The Quiet Spy was also published in 2022 with Pindrop Press. New to writing flash and micro-fiction, Jane has had stories published with MacQueen’s Quarterly and The Ekphrastic Review. She is thrilled and astounded to have won The Pokrass Prize.

    Miracle Grow

    Splinter, crack, crash! Without waking his snoring, lump of a wife, Bob grabbed his dressing gown and hurried out into the night. The sickly scent of summer phlox hung in the air; beneath the moon, the lawn glowed white; the rhododendrons stared accusingly, as Bob scuttled down the path, towards his beloved greenhouse. Smash! Another pane shattered. Through the jagged roof, a mass of unruly stalks wound upwards into the starry sky. ‘What in the name of God is going on?’ gasped Bob, sliding back the door and finding hundreds of thick, green shoots pushing through the slabs. Slack-jawed, he saw leaves the size of spades, a shower of giant golden flowers, furiously unfurl. Tomatoes like melons swelled and ripened: green, orange, vermilion, black – a mouldy mess of splitting skins and monstrous oozing seeds. Through a chink in the bedroom curtain, Bob’s wife watched, smiling.

    Runner Up, Sharon Telfer with ‘The Horses, Beneath’.

    Sharon Telfer lives in East Yorkshire, in the north of England. She won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in June 2016 with ‘Terra Incognita’ and again in February 2020 with ‘Eight Spare Bullets’. She has also won the Reflex Flash Fiction Prize. Her flash has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2021, the 2020 and 2019 ‘BIFFY50’ lists, and Best Microfiction 2019. She was awarded the Word Factory/New Writing North Short Story Apprenticeship in 2018, and placed second in the Bath Short Story Award 2020. She also has a short story in Test Signal, an anthology of contemporary northern writing (Bloomsbury/Dead Ink, 2021). Her debut flash fiction collection, The Map Waits, was published by Reflex Press in 2021 and is currently longlisted for The 2022 Edge Hill Prize for short fiction. She tweets @sharontelfer and posts terrible photos on Instagram, @sharontelferwriter.

    The Horses, Beneath

    She hears them clearest when the house is still – kids at school, husband at work, laptop open waiting for the host to let her in.

    She’d watched last year’s dig on TV, family jumbled on the plumped sofa, the paint tang lingering. The whole estate had. The white tent like a murder scene. The camera nosing in as gloves brushed earth from wheels and weapons and bones.
    “That’s not under our house, is it, Mummy?”
    “Course not, sweetie. Ours wasn’t built there.”
    A whinny ripples her wineglass, the pristine laminate prances under her feet. The next street is Shield Avenue, leading to Warrior Close. Their home, an Executive, stands on Chariot Way.

    When they come, as she knows they must – hooves trampling smooth tarmac – she’s in the off-plan kitchen – letterbox clashing – blinds raised to the moonlight and the hazy Pleiades – that ancient insistent pounding hammering at the shining front door.

    Runner Up, Tracy Fells with ‘Our Own Personal Universe’
    Tracy Fells was the 2017 Regional Winner (Europe and Canada) for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her short fiction has been widely published in print journals and online, including: Granta, Brittle Star, Reflex Fiction, Popshot, Firewords and the Bath Flash Fiction Award anthologies (2019 & 2020). She has been shortlisted for the Bridport and Fish Flash Fiction prizes, placed in the Reflex Fiction competition and Highly Commended in the NFFD Micro competition (2016 & 2020). Her novella-in-flash, Hairy on the Inside was short listed in the 2021 Bath Novella in Flash Award and short listed for the 2022 Rubery Prize, in the fiction category. She also writes novels and was a finalist in the 2018 Richard & Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition. Tracy tweets as @theliterarypig.

    Our Own Personal Universe

    We met at Woodstock, then married late fall. As we grew up, the world regressed. It was Suzy’s idea to escape off-grid to our cabin in the woods. Technology free. What else did we need but each other?

    Without electricity our life is simple, almost silent except for the persistent background song. We tear up rugs, listen to the creaking wooden walls, and finally dig under the porch. There we find a tin box, the source of the singing.

    Suzy whispers, ‘Open it.’

    Inside is the same tar-black night that surrounds us, where deep within we spy the beeswax candle of our cabin window, a beacon. On the count of three we plunge in our hands.

    Above us in the star-encrusted sky appear two giant wrinkled hands. Wiggling our fingers like magicians conjures a cooling breeze. ‘We are gods,’ says my wife of over fifty years, my forever singing girl.

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    Winner, Young Writers’ Flash Fiction Contest

    As an addition to our March online flash fiction day, Susmita Bhattacharya, who was a judge for the adult contest, and is a facilitator for the Mayflower Young Writers Group in Southampton, hosted a parallel flace-to-face flash fiction workshop for young writers. The young people also had their own writing competition. Flash Fiction team member, Alison Woodhouse, dropped in to their session to talk more about flash and to set a prompt. She asked writers to use an object as the focal point of a piece of flash to tell a story.

    Thank you to all who entered. Alison has now chosen the winner! Huge congratulations to Katie Britton, a member of MayFlower Young Writers, @MayflowerYW who used a mirror as her focal point. Katie’s story is based on an actual mirror in her house, and we love that she has sent us her picture posed in front of it. Katie wins a special mug with the flash fiction logo, which has ‘Winner’ and her name written on the back. Read in Full

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    Winning Stories, March Flash Fiction Festival

    Congratulations to the winner, Rosaleen Lynch and the runner-up Mandira Pattnaik.Read more about them and judge Susmita Bhattacharya’s comments here

    by Rosaleen Lynch

    Chaw /tʃɔ:/ (verb.) to chew roughly, (noun.) a wad, like chewing tobacco your Da might spit at you when he comes home drunk; (acronym.) e.g. CHAW;

    ‘C’ for Courage (n.) from the French ‘coeur‘ for heart, the heart to run away or the heart to stay;

    ‘H’ for Hope (v.) from the Germanic to trust, rely on, have confidence in or Hope (n.) as in ‘we haven’t got a hope’ or ‘hopeless’ (antonym.) or without feathers;

    ‘A’ for Admiration (n.) from the old French ‘to wonder at the miracle’, the miracle you’ve lived this long, and you truly wonder at the miracle that your Da’s standing after how much he’s had to drink;

    ‘W’ for Wisdom (n.) insight, making good judgements e.g. whether to remove the remaining chaw and food from your Da’s mouth as he now lies on the kitchen floor, after trying to convince you all, that beans on toast need decorating with edible flowers, like on some TV cooking show, holding irises from next-door, he swears are edible, and to prove it, stuffs one in his mouth with tobacco and chaws, and when he falls, you look for courage to let him be, to see what’s best for family, hope this time he’ll do the right thing, something you could admire, like change or die, but you’re wise enough to realize, he’ll survive, your Da’s toxicity will win against that of the iris;

    Iris /ˈʌɪrɪs/ (n.) Greek for eye pigmentation, the same colour as yours, watching him, waiting, ruminating on whether this is the only trait passed on, if the darkness too will be carried by the genes, like clouds carry rain, like Iris, the messenger of the gods, in The Illiad (the legend of the siege of Troy) the Greek goddess of the rainbow, carries truth.


    by Mandira Pattnaik

    29 March 2017

    1. Fly on Nonstop Non-risk Routings
    Most accidents occur during takeoff, climb, descent, and landing phases of flight. Like dating, lovemaking, marriage, and cohabitation. Soniya’s admiration for Rajiv stems from his saying yes on the first date. But both must agree to reduce their exposure to these most accident-prone phases of flight.

    2. Choose Larger Aircraft
    Obviously. Also, in the unlikely event of a serious accident, Rajiv’s larger hands will be more comforting.

    3. Pay Attention to the Preflight Briefing
    Although the information seems repetitious, the locations of the closest emergency exits may be different depending on the aircraft that you fly on and seat you are in: says Mum and married sisters. They also provide endless hope.

    4. Keep Your Seat Belt Fastened While You are Seated
    Wisdom demands a firm anchoring if and when the flight hits unexpected turbulence: says Soniya’s friends.

    5. Hazardous Material Banned
    By the end of the first year, both new fliers know the list of hazardous materials that are not allowed, but common sense should tell them how handy knives, mirrors, glasses and bottles can be while you’re involved in an argument. Particularly if the coupling is already under strain.

    6. Drink During Flight — Maintain Responsibility
    Atmosphere in an airliner cabin is pressurized and moderation is a good policy at any altitude. Rajiv (or both) often forgets this. Dirt is dug and flung at each other.

    7. Keep Your Wits About You
    In the rather likely event of a precautionary emergency evacuation, Soniya isn’t alarmed when Rajiv tells her: Go, get lost. She is prepared to land in the worst possible. All flights are essentially leaps of faith.

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