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Pre-festival workshops with Kathy Fish and Nuala O’Connor

As an added bonus we have two three-hour pre-festival workshops with Nuala O’Connor and Kathy Fish. They are taking place in parallel from 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm on Friday 19th June at Trinity College. Open to those not able to attend the whole festival as well as those who’ve booked for the week end. Kathy’s workshop is now sold out but there are currently spaces on Nuala’s workshop. Book soon!

Nuala O’Connor


Historical Flash Fiction with Nuala O’Connor
Taking our cue from historical people, places and/or events, this workshop will guide participants through practical theory on how to write effective flash and, using various prompts, we will write our own historic flashes in-class. We will also look at sample historical flashes from accomplished writers. Handouts will be provided.
Nuala says, ‘Historical fiction gets a bad rap; on the one hand authors like Hilary Mantel and Sarah Waters are much-garlanded, and rightly so, and on the other, the very term ‘historical fiction’ puts some people off. But in a world where it’s difficult to escape geographically anymore – everywhere seems to have been infiltrated – escapism into the past via historical narratives can feel like exploring untouched territory. And, anyway, what is contemporary historical fiction only a view of the past, with twenty-first century biases, limitations and necessarily particular knowledge? In historical flash we can make something new of the past by answering the needs and preoccupations of today in narratives set in former times.’

Nuala O’Connor is an Irish historical novelist, flash fiction and story writer. She lives in Co. Galway, Ireland. In 2019 she won the James Joyce Quarterly competition to write the missing story from Dubliners, ‘Ulysses’. Her fourth novel, Becoming Belle, was published to critical acclaim in 2018 in Ireland, the UK, the USA and Canada. Her next book is a bio-fictional novel about Nora Barnacle, wife and muse to James Joyce. Nuala is editor at flash e-zine Splonk. She has won many flash and short fiction awards including the Dublin Review of Books Flash Fiction Prize, The Gladstone Flash Prize, RTÉ radio’s Francis MacManus Award, the Cúirt New Writing Prize, the inaugural Jonathan Swift Award and the Cecil Day Lewis Award. She was shortlisted for the European Prize for Literature. www.nualaoconnor.com.

Kathy Fish

A Brain, a Heart, and a Home (with a Dash of Courage): Writing Flash Fiction that Soars with Kathy Fish
Do you have a cool idea for a flash, but it falls flat? Or a flash that’s rich in emotion but you can’t quite figure out what it’s about? Maybe your flash “works” on a superficial level, but you sense there’s a deeper story to be told.
Any or all of the above are what prevent good flash fiction from becoming GREAT flash fiction. 
In this three-hour class, we’ll look at how to write flash that transcends the ordinary. We’ll write to fun, inspiring prompts and we’ll also do a revision exercise aimed at deepening the work. Students can expect to come away from this session with at least one new story and lots of new tools for crafting and revision. Feel free to bring an existing draft to work on as well!
Read in Full

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Festival Support for the Cash-Strapped Writer

Watercolour of Trinity College by one of last year’s participants

Festival Hosts

The form to apply for reduced cost places by February 29th is at the end of this post.
We’re also looking for more Bristol writers who will host other writers for the festival weekend. And more people who will offer very low cost accommodation locally for the two nights. Contact Diane Simmons if you can offer anything and need more information. .

Caravan Accommodation

If you have a camper van or a caravan with toilet facilities, there are spaces for five caravans/campers on the site with electric hook up. £15 per night. Contact us on the help desk for booking.

Apply for full or half price places by the end of February.

We currently have four full price places worth £250. These can also be split into half cost places, available for those with limited funds. Thank you very much to Hall and Woodhouse, two anonymous donors, (who also donated full price places last year) and the US based literary online magazine Smokelong Quarterly for supporting the festival.(Read more about Smokelong and their presence at previous festivals). If any other writers/organisations/individual wish to donate a full or half price place to give further opportunities for those who can’t afford to come, please contact us as soon as possible. We would very much appreciate this support

Please complete this form before midnight on Sunday 29th February, UK time to be considered for a reduced cost ticket.

As there are only a limited number of these tickets, we do ask that you provide us with as much information as possible to help us make our decisions, but only provide as much information as you feel comfortable sharing with us. We respect the need for confidentiality and we will not share any information you provide to us with anyone outside of the Festival Team.

Please tick any that apply:





Please select one option:



Please tick this box to show you understand that travel, accommodation and meals are not included.

What would it mean to you as an individual and as a writer to be able to attend the Flash Fiction Festival?

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Flash Fiction Festival Three Anthologies have landed!

Flash Fiction Festival Three, the anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction and containing stories from 82 of the participants and presenters who came to the 2019 Festival in Bristol has been arriving all over the world. Thanks to all writers who have posted pictures of their copies in different locations on Twitter and Facebook. We think we have collected up most of them so far. But if we have missed you, or you want to add yours, please let us know. Booking for this year’s festival is open and about half the places are now sold. The programme includes workshops from well known flash fiction teachers and writers from the UK, Ireland, the USA, Italy, Germany and Cyprus. The programme and the workshop details will be finalised soon. We hope you can come. All participants coming in 2020 have the opportunity to be published in our fourth festival anthology.

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Flash Fiction Festival Three Published Now!

Thank you to Ad Hoc Fiction for donating the costs of compiling, designing and printing our third festival anthology, which is available to buy now from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop.

Did you know we are using the colours of the rainbow for our festival anthologies? Red, orange and now yellow. You’ll be able to build up a row of the whole rainbow spectrum on your bookshelves. And after the violet edition has been published, well we don’t know yet. A lot can happen in four years and who knows what the festival will have evolved into by then.

This year, as usual, we gave Flash Fiction Festival participants and presenters the opportunity to submit up to three micro fictions for the third festival anthology and our editing team, Jude Higgins, Santino Prinzi and Diane Simmons had the exciting task of selecting the stories. The 2019 Festival Anthology contains 82 brilliantly varied micros of 250 words or under on all subjects and themes by authors from all parts of the UK, Ireland, the USA, New Zealand, Austria Cyprus and Switzerland and many were sparked off by festival workshops. All contributors will get their free copy shortly. Read in Full

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Picture Gallery, Flash Fiction Festival 2019

Lots of pictures here to give the atmosphere of the 2019 Festival! And do look at the ‘Flash Cab’ videos made by the Smokelong Quarterly Crew at the Flash Fiction Festival. They are very funny and you get to hear some flash

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Our 2020 Festival Presenters

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Our UK contingent includes an array of wonderful writers and teachers: Susmita Bhattacharya; K.M Elkes; Carrie Etter; Vanessa Gebbie; Tania Hershman; Jude Higgins; Michael Loveday; Karen Jones; Ingrid Jendrzejewski; Meg Pokrass; Santino Prinzi; Helen Rye; Farhana Shaikh and Diane Simmons. Expect workshops, panels and talks on climate writing; flash and social commentary; summer solstice stories, visualisations, south Asian stories, sound immersion, applying for funding, publishing in online magazines, prose poetry, novellas-in-flash for the advanced writer, workshops with ingenious prompts plus a brilliantly titled workshop called Seduction not Instruction and more to come.

Our USA contingent includes the amazing writers and teachers: Kathy Fish; Nancy Stohlman; Laurie Stone; Peter Wortsman and Beth Gilstrap Expect workshops and panels on travel writing, politics and social commentary, the flash novel,festival warm-ups, lyrical writing and more. Full details soon.

Charmaine Wilkerson from Italy will chair a panel on Flash And Social Commentary.

Christopher Allen from Germany will offer an editing workshop, will take part in the panel and, of course, you will find him facilitating the karaoke.

From Cyprus, Nora Nadjarian is returning to run her early morning and extremely popular session using images for writing prompts.

Roberta Beary and Nuala 0’Connor from Ireland . Roberta is teaching a workshop on the art of the Haibun and Nuala will be teaching Historical Fiction again, this time a longer session in a pre-festival workshop on the Friday afternoon (booking for this open soon).
Kathy Fish will also be running an additional pre-festival three hour workshop on the Friday afternoon.

Full details about all these workshops and more not yet confirmed will be on the workshop page soon.

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2020 Flash Fiction Festival Open for Booking!

2019 Festival

We’re thrilled that the fourth flash fiction festival sponsored by Bath Flash Fiction Award and Ad Hoc Fiction and co-directed by Jude Higgins and Diane Simmonsis taking place from 6.00 pm Friday 19th June 2020 – Sunday 21st June, 5.00 pm at Trinity College,the same wonderful venue in Bristol UK. Don’t miss this unique weekend event, packed with workshops, talks, panels on all aspects of flash fiction with international flash fiction writers and tutors plus readings,open-mics, booklaunches, raffle, festival micro contest and fun (including festival karaoke!). A chance to meet old flash fiction friends and make new ones as well as learning more about flash fiction and trying out new ways of writing it. Everyone welcome. Read in Full

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Meg Pokrass on Writing Prompts

Writer, tutor, editor and Festival Curator, Meg Pokrass, is well known for her highly inventive prompts which she generously shares on Facebook and also offers in her popular online workshops. Some of the unusual prompt images she’s posted on her site are reproduced here. As well as co-running a workshop on the novella-in-flash at the Festival with Jude Higgins and participating in a panel chaired by Michael Loveday on the novella-in-flash with Bath Flash Fiction novella winners, Charmaine Wilkerson, Ellie Walsh and Johanna Robinson, Meg is running a prompt workshop on the Sunday. And if you haven’t read Meg’s work, Alligators at Night, her latest book of flash fictions, is available in a paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop and in ebook format on Kindle or Nook. And do read Meg’s ten writing tips at the end of the post, to think more about your flash. There’s some great prompts included within this list.

  • Jude: You are well known for your highly inventive prompts. Just the other day on your Twitter feed you suggested this as writing prompt of the day “write about a seemingly boring, predictable life-moment, but use the phrase “cold hands” at least once and use the word “backwards” three times in your first draft.” Clearly, you have a reason for the repetition idea. Can you tell us more?
    Meg: By repeating a phrase when writing a first draft, a writer will often find a rhythm, or heartbeat. And I find that using a repeated phrase helps the writer dig for interesting material right out of the gate. All of this allows for an exciting sense of creative freedom. I like to think of repetition like this as an engine for the way to find the story that wants to be told.However, with this particular prompt, the one you mention here, I threw in the idea of repetition with an off-kilter word, “backwards”, as a way to add some immediate sense of conflict. If you’re using the word “backwards” 3 times, something about the situation is probably not as simple as it seems.
  • Jude: Do you always use prompts to spark your own writing?
    Most of us, consciously or not, use prompts or “sparks” to get ourselves going. A prompt can be something as simple as an overheard snippet of conversation, a shopping list, a worry…
  • Jude: Which, in your opinion, is the most successful story you have written from a prompt?

Meg reading at last year’s festival

    Meg: ‘I Married This’, soon to be reprinted by Craft Magazine, is an example of a story written to a prompt. I wrote my entire first collection, Damn Sure Right, to various prompts I made up and assigned myself.
  • Jude: I love the lists of usually about ten random words you sometimes give on FaceBook to incorporate into a story. I have been writing to such lists for the last few weeks now with some success. Any thoughts on why this prompt can result in a good story?
    Meg: That’s great Jude! So glad you’re experimenting with that. Using random words truly does something mysterious to the creative brain. It stretches the writer’s openness to what might happen while writing the first draft. By forcing oneself to make sense of cut-ups or completely random words (it hardly matters which ones) we find ourselves in places we didn’t previously have access to. All of a sudden, wild new possibilities open up.

  • Jude: You run frequent and popular online courses which include all sorts of prompts. Can you tell us a bit more about them and what happens? We know that writers have been very successful in placing stories that have started in the groups.
    Meg: Recent success stories first! Thank you Jude. 3 student stories from my online workshop from 2018 were selected for Best Small Fictions! And 85 (or more) publications which resulted from stories which started in my classes in magazines like Smokelong Quarterly, Jellyfish Review, Wigleaf, Cincinatti Review, Atticus Review. These are the best flash magazines in the world. I’m so proud of my students, and of what has been happening. With my online courses there is no pressure with signing up. I have an open-door policy, which is what I do think sets mine apart. If a student wants to take one of my courses, I will make room for them even if I have to create a few different groups in order to accommodate everyone. I give myself enough time to do this. My classes are supportive, affordable and I always encourage risk taking. Most of my students are return participants. I couldn’t be happier about how things have been going.

    • Jude: Can you give us a preview of your hour long prompt workshop at the festival?

      Meg: It will be work generative and fun. I’m going to bring in my strangest and most popular prompts. I’ll be giving out a new prompt every 10 minutes.
      Jude: And we’d love a prompt to get people in the mood for when they come to the Flash Fiction Festival
      Meg: I’ll ask the participants to launch into a quickly written story beginning with an obscure character observation such as how a character greets their cat.
      To give potential workshop students a bit more to think about, here are some of my favourite flash writing tips:

    1.Unusual Details: Make characters out of obscure traits, for example, how do they greet their cat? What is their favourite film… and why?

    2.Create Conflict: Bother your characters, provide a good deal of trouble. Don’t let them get there too easily. Make sure something in their POV shifts by the end of the story.

    3.Childhood Nickname: Make up a nickname that your main character had as a child. Don’t tell the reader what it is, but keep it in mind while writing your story. This may sound strange, but our childhood embarrassments often shadow adulthood.

    4.Sexy Elf Logic: If there’s an elf in your story, go ahead and make them sexy, but give him some issues. I mean, if you are a sexy elf, you’re going to come with some psychological baggage. No matter how fantastical a character is, make them real.

    5.Woe Is Me: Readers don’t like characters who sit around feeling hurt by the world and wallowing in it. Instead, they care about characters who, despite all of the difficulty life has thrown them, are finding ways to thrive.

    6.Crisis/Advantage: When something very hard has happened in your life, use it. Let something similar happen to your character. Disguise it. Dismantle it. Here we can finally make use of the stuff that hurts. This will help your fiction.

    7.Sex in Flash: A character’s unique relationship to sex is far more interesting than writing about lusty characters having sex all over the place. If there is sex in a story, don’t hit us over the head with it.

    8.Trust the Reader: The quickest way to lose a reader’s trust is to tell them what you mean. After you’re done writing your story, go through and get rid of any places where you are trying to explain what is happening in the story. Instead, let the reader see what’s happening by your very specific use of unusual detail and a banquet full of sensory information. Anton Chekhov said it this way: “Don’t tell me that the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

    9.Follow the Love: Follow the trail of messy love wherever it takes your characters, even if the love is invisible to the eye, and especially if it makes no sense.

    10.Cultivate a Sense of the Ridiculous: Everything that really matters to your character is also somewhat ridiculous when looked at from a different perspective. Don’t take yourself (or your characters) too seriously when writing fiction. Make the stakes high, but let a ray of ironic humour shine through.

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All about FlashBack Fiction

Prague Astronomical Clock

FlashBack Fiction editors, Anita Goveas, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Emily Devane, Sharon Telfer and Damhnait Monaghan are attending this year’s Flash Fiction Festival, June 28-30th and some of them are running a session about the magazine and what they are looking for in submissions. Historical flash fiction is surging in popularity and as well as this session on Sunday afternoon, Nuala 0’Connor who writes short and longer historical fiction is repeating the very popular session she ran last year.

Anita Goveas

  • You’re giving a workshop at the Flash Fiction Festival. Can you tell us a bit about that?
  • Several of the FlashBack editors will discuss various aspects of writing and publishing historical flash, and provide a few writing exercises so that participants can leave with ideas or even perhaps a rough draft of a historical flash fiction. There will be time for discussion during the session, so by all means, bring any questions you might have!
    Read in Full

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    New Raffle Prizes for the Flash Fiction Festival

    We’ve already been given some great raffle prizes, which are listed on our sponsors’ page, which you link to from the banners on our home page, and we now have some more prizes described below. We’re donating to Air Ambulances South West this year, a charity supported by Hall and Woodhouse, who haves sponsored a full price place at this year’s festival and have donated a £40 voucher for an evening meal in one of their restaurants

    It’s Ad Hoc Fiction’s fourth birthday this week and as well as donating their services to compile the Festival Anthology Three after this year’s festival they are also donating a birthday bottle of ‘Ad Hoc Pinot Noir’ for the raffle. We think writers who have not had their 150 word micros accepted for the ebook some weeks, may find the label of this bottle fitting.

    Thank you also to Nancy Stohlman, Damhnait Monaghan, Santino Prinzi, Jude Higgins, Tara Laskowski, Nod Ghosh and Michelle Elvy who are donating books.

    And a further thank you to Nod Ghosh who is also donating some of the lovely glass pendants she makes. Some examples of them are pictured here.

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