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Winning Stories from the January Online Flash Fiction Festival contest!

Many congratulations to James Montgomery from the UK who won first prize and runners-up, Jen Rowe from the UK and Dawn Miller from Canada. Jude set the prompt and the challenge was to write a multi-layered story in 400 words or under including some dialogue and reported speech. There was an excellent range of stories and thank you to all who entered and to writer and NFFD director, Diane Simmons, for judging and commenting. The painting,Eislaufkunst, 1929 is by Dörte Clara Wolff (1907-1996), known as Dodo, who was a German-born artist, illustrator, and costume designer. She studied at the prestigious Berlin Academy of Art. For another writing opportunity, The Pokrass Prize is open for anyone booked on this year’s in person flash fiction festival. Booking here

Diane’s comments and the winners’ stories are posted below, together with the writers’ bios Read in Full

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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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Friday Paella!

You are welcome to arrive from 1.00 pm onwards on Friday 12th July for the in-person flash fiction festival, 12th -14th July at Trinity College, Bristol.

What’s happening on Friday afternoon this year?

From 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm another fantastic three hour pre-fest workshop by acclaimed teacher and writer from the US, Kathy Fish. Open to festival participants and those who can’t make the whole weekend (£50) This workshop is now sold out. But you can contact jude (at) flashfictionfestival (dot) com if you want to join a waiting list.

There is no other catering on Friday afternoon, but you can also bring a picnic to eat in the extensive grounds. The bar will be open and free coffee and tea is available (please bring your own re-usuable mug) Thanks.

Paella

We have arranged for Luciano from https://www.paellacaluciano.com/ in Bristol/Portishead to come and cook fresh paella for us again. Served from 5.00 pm. You can book this advance via Paypal. Booking:

Two Paella Options

Chicken Paella:£14.00
Vegan Paella:£12.00
Both Gluten Free.
Available Friday afternoon. 5.00 pm.

All paellas come with small tapas extras this year.

Luciano cooking


Chicken Paella (GF)


Other Friday Events:

Bar (run by Trinity College)

Karaoke ready to go in 2019

Badger’s Pouch, the bar, will be open from 2.00 pm
After the Friday evening reading and mini-book launch, Karaoke entertainment will be available from8.00 pm in the bar, organised by Helen Rye and Christopher Allen. Chill out room for quiet chats also available.
Bookshop
The festival bookshop will be open from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm in the Tyndall’s room, by Reception in the main building.
Official Welcome, Flash fiction readings and mini book launches 6.45 pm – 8.30 pm in Dining Room.

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Accommodation options

Outside Trinity College

Team member Sara Hills is helping with accommodation queries.

The 2024 flash fiction festival will be held at Trinity College, a Theological College, in the Stoke Bishop area of Bristol. There will be some single budget bnb (basic breakfast) rooms at Trinity College to book as part of the festival package plus 20 camping spots with facilities in the grassy area in front of the college.

For the festival weekend Friday and Saturday nights (and Thursday and Sunday nights if people want them) we have also again blocked book rooms for the festival place/accommodation package at Churchill Hall, a Bristol University Residence only a few minutes walk away from the college, in a lovely setting opposite the Bristol Botanical Gardens. You can see Churchill Hall and its proximity to Trinity on our location map on the menu.

The rooms are bnb (continental breakfast). An example of one is pictured below, along with a picture of the hall and an area of the shared bathroom. They are quite spacious and for single occupancy only. You can book a festival place with accommodation now It may also be possible to book Thursday night at Churchill Hall. Contact us if you are interested in an extra night on Thursday. Read in Full

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FFF Anthology Vol 6


Thrills! The sixth volume from the Flash fiction Festivals UK has now been posted to contributors. Hopefully the books will arrive soon! When they do, we’d love to see a picture of one in your location on social media. The anthology is available to buy directly from Ad Hoc Fiction and Amazon.

Within this book, there are over seventy stories from festival presenters. participants, winners from the January 2023 online Flash Fiction Festival and winners from the Pokrass Prize. There is also a section of Haibun. Five writers were inspired by the Haibun workshop led to Roberta Beary and Lew Watts. Many other stories were inspired by othere workshops at the festival.

Thank you very much to writer and co-director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK< Diane Simmons, for helping me to compile the anthology, something she has done for the past six years and to John at Ad Hoc Fiction for donating his time to produce another lovely looking anthology. Thanks also to Karen Jones, James Montgomery and Fiona J Mackintosh for their quotes about the festival on the back cover. We love the Indigo colour. Next year we complete the rainbow series of books with violet. But after that I daresay we will go with a pure white anthology, then maybe platinum and gold... We're looking forward to the Flash Fiction Festival weekend on 12-14th July in Bristol. Booking will be open this month and we have lots of really interesting workshops and panels = lined up plus readings, book launches, Karaoke and general fun and chats. Hope you can come! Jude, January 2023

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Winners of the November Festival Writing Challenge

Thank you again to Diane Simnons, writer and co-director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK for blind-judging our mini-contest from the November Great Flash Fiction Festival Day. Thank you also to everyone who entered.

The three brillant winning flash fictions, first prize by Marie Gethins from Ireland and the two runners-up, by Linda Grierson-Irish and Jane Salmons are posted on this page. All entrants had to create a piece inspired by the 1950s picture by British cartoonist and humourist, Thelwell, shown above. The stories will also be included in the next Flash Fiction Festival anthology out at the end of 2024 and other prizes include Bath Flash Fiction Award entries and books from the Ad Hoc Fiction shelves. You can read the authors’ bios at the end of their stories

Diane said this about the stories:
“I think that this was quite a tricky challenge, not just because of the constraints (mention of a garden implement, utilising the senses and a subject matter of unrequited love or simmering resentment), but because the picture Jude gave everyone as a prompt had several obvious attention demanding characters in it and it’s not an easy thing to avoid writing about the obvious. I was pleased though with the originality of many of the stories and it was a treat that many contained humour. I very much enjoyed reading all the stories – thank you to everyone who submitted.”
 
Diane’s comments on the stories:

First Place (Marie Gethins)
Homo sapien allotmentitus Observed

I loved the originality and the voice in this flash. I also very much enjoyed the humour and found myself chuckling out loud to the line that follows the men peeling away their heaviest layer of clothing, revealing white, long-sleeved shirts: ‘It’s unclear if this is a tribal mandate or perhaps driven by a recent M&S sale’.

Runner-Up
Out of Kilter (Linda Grierson-Irish)
Engaging from the first line, this is a beautifully written flash with a depth that warranted several readings. I loved the descriptions, particularly: ‘His voice the sharp-sweet bite of an apple, running with juice’. And the ending to the flash was just perfect.

Runner-up
Sunday Morning at the Hyperreal Gardeners’ World (Jane Salmons)

This flash was a delightfully original take on the prompt. I enjoyed many of the descriptions in it, particularly, A.I. Alan’s green fingers: ‘As emerald and plump as baby courgettes’ and loved the image of the robots snapping beanpoles, hurling dung and smashing green houses.
 

First Prize
Homo sapien allotmentitus Observed

by Marie Gethins

[SOUND OF HOEING AND SHOVELING, MAN GRUNTING FROM EFFORT]

Our story begins with a tantalizing glimpse of something very special: a local tribe of five working allotment males in their natural habitat.

A group of this size is unusual and without Albert’s local knowledge derived from extensive observation via his upstairs bedroom window, it would not have been possible to get this close. The Homo sapiens allotementitus is known for being fiercely territorial. Positioning ourselves behind two untamed specimens of buxus sempervirens, European boxwood, we have a good vantage point and can remain undetected.

[TURNS TOWARDS CAMERA WHISPERING]

The air is fragrant with manure and rotting compost. Sun begins to break through what has been an overcast morning casting the allotment in a penetrating glow. They are beginning to peel away their heaviest layer of clothing, revealing white, long-sleeved shirts. It’s unclear if this is a tribal mandate or perhaps driven by a recent M&S sale.

Some have invested in high quality tools. You can see by the frustration of this male on the left that he has an inferior hoe and will be expending significant energy over the next few months fighting invasive weeds in his vegetable rows.

[CAMERA PANS ACROSS THE ALLOTMENTS, STOPS AT MAN IN LOUNGE CHAIR WITH PIPE AND LARGE BOOK, ZOOMS IN]
Here we have the alpha allotmenter. Rather than using his patch for vegetables and fruit trees, he has created what is known as ‘the showcase lawn’. While the rest of the tribe toil over stony ground and leaf mould, he gives a display of dominance by relaxing on a sward created from grass rolls and heavy use of artificial fertilizer. We are able to discern through a window that the blue cottage behind him appears to be fully fitted with a kettle and pod coffee machine.
The alpha stands. What will be his next move? Observing such behaviour this close is unprecedented.
[TENSE MUSIC]
The alpha calling to the others. They approach. This is absolutely thrilling. A hold your breath moment.

[ALLOTMENT MALES MOVE TOWARDS THE LAWN, CARRYING SHOVELS, HOES AND ONE PITCHFORK]
Surrounding the alpha, the tribe moves to the cottage open door. Is this a challenge? They abandon their tools, leaning them against the side cottage wall and…they…enter…it appears to be an assembly of some type. We could be witnessing a rare event, a shift in the power structure.

[CAMERA ZOOMS IN ON BACK WINDOW VIEW INTO COTTAGE. SHADOWY FIGURES, INDISTINCT. SCRAPING SOUNDS, HISSING, RUMBLING, CLINKING OF CHINA, OPENING OF BISCUIT TIN LID]

Unfortunately, the tribe did not reemerge during our period of observation. While we gained great insight into the behaviours of this secretive troop, much magic and mystery remains and shows just how complicated these relationships between allotment males can be. Until our next venture into the urban kingdom.

[THEME MUSIC CRESCENDO]

Bio: Marie Geth­ins featured in Winter Papers, Bristol Short Story Award, Australian Book Review, NFFD Anthologies, Banshee, Fictive Dream, Pure Slush, Bath Flash Fiction Anthologies, and others. Selected for Best Microfictions, BIFFY50, Best Small Fictions, she edits for flash ezine Splonk, critiques for Oxford Flash Fiction Prize and lives in Cork, Ireland.

Runner-Up
Out of Kilter

by Linda Grierson-Irish

On the way to the allotment, I see a crow tearing into something dead in the undergrowth. I don’t interfere. I make a mental note to tell Branagán later. He’ll have a theory. Or two. “Don’t forget to clear the beans,” he’d said, by way of a goodnight yesterday evening. Wet leaves slithered my slippered feet on our wooden stairs.

Overnight, Bob’s Dahlias have browned and slumped. A dazzling frost can do that. I squeeze a wizened handful of florets; feel them yield, exhale. Boys at morning football practice high-five. It sounds like finality. I think, dead head. I think, weed, hoe, dig out the bolted spinach. I’m hiding in a heated shed, my lungs brimming. A man with clean fingernails, who plucked me from the hedgerow. Who shrugged at rain and didn’t walk away. And then, did. Weed. Hoe. Dig.

Lev’s strawberries bear cautious blooms, coaxed by a late, simmering sun. Out of kilter with the season. “Didn’t expect such coyness,” he’d said, that first time, “strapping lad like you.” His voice the sharp-sweet bite of an apple, running with juice. I hang onto the hoe. Its bone-hard handle steadies me.

The regulars arrive. We exchange nods and grimace against the chill. They clink and stomp and glower at the vacant lawned plot; an idle, manicured taunt in the midst of messy abundance. I’m the only one who didn’t want him to leave. Twelve months ago, to the day. Twelve months of forcing decay to twine its roots through twenty years of playful nurture. Above my head, sucked-out skeletons of unpicked runner beans swing as I tug. The morning crow sounds a cleaving echo. Dig. Weed. Hoe.

Later, Branagán will tell me that crows hold grudges. And sometimes desecrate their dead, but to be sure, he’ll grin, that’s not your typical behaviour. Soil clogs the treads of my boot soles. Bran will rub my smarting fingers. Berate me too brightly for not wearing gloves. As if he suspects my intent. For a moment, we’re back in a field in Letterfrack, our lips raw. The sky rained diamonds. My confession will drown in my mouth.

On the way home, I crouch beside the dead crow. Its eye has clouded. One wing points up, like a prayer, from its derelict hull. I smother it with leaves, sprigs of sweet lavender, pinecones. Until it smells like something that could fly again

Bio: Linda Grierson-Irish’s writing has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2023, shortlisted twice for both the Bridport Prize and Bath Flash Award, selected for the BIFFY50 list, and received two honourable mentions for Best Microfictions. She lives in Shropshire, UK.

Runner-Up
Sunday Morning at the Hyperreal Gardeners’ World

by Jane Salmons

Sprawled out in a candy-striped deckchair, Rick watches the A.I. gardeners at work. It’s like time travelling. To the past and future, simultaneously.

A.I. Alan has green fingers. As emerald and plump as baby courgettes, he plunges them into the rich, black soil; knuckles nestling on the top layer, like a stalk of Brussels sprouts. It’s 11.42 am. Time to plant his shallots.

“May I borrow your dibber, old chap?” he says.

“Certainly, squire,” A.I. Percy replies.

Doffing his flat cap, Percy hands over the wood turned tool. On his hands and knees, Alan begins boring a neat row of holes: three inches deep; three inches apart.

Calm and hopeful. Good gait and balance. Improved mental health.

Percy also has green fingers. He trudges up and down, up and down, tilling his ten-rod plot with a replica iron rake.

An hour in the garden is better than an hour in the queue.

For the past four hours, A.I. Diarmuid has been wheeling barrows full of manure. Through squinted eyes, Rick admires his rippling biceps and buff torso. It’s a backbreaking job, but this workhorse gets on with it. The robots are programmed not to complain. As Dairmuid heaps great forks of steaming dung onto each allotment, the gardeners chant, the right to dig the right to dig the right to dig.

In the large cold frame on plot four, A.I. Monty has nurtured a trove of prize-winning produce: peppery pink radishes, midget gem lettuces, rosettes of glistening spinach. No glimmer of pride marks his smooth, plastic face. Just the certainty of implanted memory.

Dig for Victory! Food is a weapon of war!

Rick yawns. It’s such a good feeling to be outdoors. Nothing to worry about. No stresses or struggles in this better-than-real world.

Trust between humans and machines

Trust between humans and machines

Calm and helpful

Food is a weapon of

A weapon of
The robots are malfunctioning.

Trust between
The right to the right to the right to

Black clouds scud across the cyan blue sky. The hologram oak trees flicker and fade. Rick shivers. It’s time to leave.

Food is a weapon of

A weapon of

Humans and machines

The robots are snapping beanpoles, hurling dung, smashing greenhouses with their hoes and spades.

Calm and helpful

Improved mental health

This is the past. This is the future.

The right to the right the right to

Bio: Jane Salmons is from Stourbridge in the UK. She has published two poetry collections, Enter GHOST (dancing girl press) and The Quiet Spy (Pindrop Press). Relatively new to flash fiction, her stories have been nominated for Best Microfictions 2023 and Best of the Net 2024. She has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and she won the Pokrass Prize for her story ‘Miracle Grow’ in 2022.

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Winners of the October’Signature’ Writing Challenge

Thank you to participants at the Great Festival Flash Off Day, 28th October, who entered the ‘Signature’ writing challenge set by Jude to write a story prompted by the picture below, entitled ‘The Bachelor’, (1955) by artist William Kurelek. Diane Simmons, writer and co-director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK, who judged the competition, selected ‘What If’ by Kate Axeford as first prize and ‘Cinders’ by Ali McGrane and ‘The Shrinking’ by Sudha Balagopal as runners up. Scroll down to read each story, the authors’ bios and Diane’s comments. The winners receive books, BFFA competition entries and publication in the FFF anthology due in 2024. Next mini contest at our Festival online day on 25th November.

Diane wrote this in her general comments:
“This is a picture rich in detail – the kitchen is crammed with a large number of objects, but many entrants to the competition picked on the same objects to use as prompts or details in their flash, with the ‘Catholic Herald’, the boot, the man reading the newspaper and the darned sock being by far the most popular and the ‘Catholic Herald’ popping up in the majority of entries. This led to many stories having a similar theme. I think a good tip when writing from a visual prompt that other people will also be using, is to not go with the obvious and to discard your first idea, perhaps even your first half dozen.Thank you to everyone who entered the competition – I very much enjoyed reading all the stories and I am sure with a little tweaking, many could go on to do well elsewhere.”

First prize winner, Kate Axford

What If

…the grime on Brian Willoughby’s window can’t stop the sun streaming into his kitchen, lighting up an advert in the Lonely Hearts’ columns, where naughty brunettes seek solvent gentlemen for no-strings fun, and respectable ladies with a GSOH seek romantic meals out and cosy nights in. But what if one line blows Brian’s mind?

Looking for my Starman Before the Next Star Dies.

And what if that message brings a hush to the babble, the torment that inhabits Brian Willoughby’s brain? A decades’ old haunting since that after school snog on the 14th of April, the day 4C’s teacher expounded how the galaxy brims with 100 billion stars, but just one star will die every year. The day Brian passed a note to cool Julie Barnes – Julie, with her eyeshadow and Bowie cassettes. The day Brian promised a Starman would wait after class.

And what if the next day an elated Starman hadn’t taken a pocket-knife out of his lunchbox and disobeyed his mother, by not peeling his apple? Instead, he carved his heart into the ink-stained pine of a classroom desk.

BW
4
JB
4
EVA

whilst Julie Barnes told the playground how kissing Brian Willoughby was like being licked by a toad, and despite every girl needing to kiss a few frogs before they find their handsome prince, she’d only kissed him for a bet.

And what if that shame hadn’t stalked Brian through the hell of his school years to the hell of middle-age? What if the voices that berate Brian daily, fraying at his mind like an un-darned sock – the voices of his parents, who died of indifference then left their money to the Cats Home – just stayed silent and let Brian believe in a Starman’s salvation?

And what if Brian’s niece, the one who never visits, doesn’t turn up with eyebrows stencilled into expressions of worry, knowing developers will sell a newly refurbished Flat 5, 3 Acacia Avenue for a six-figure sum because even in that part of town a neglected bachelor pad with a seven foot by five-foot kitchen is now termed a ‘bijoux’ apartment?

And what if a Starman, terrified at the prospect of being put in a ‘Home’, doesn’t pick up a bottle and swallow those pills? What if, instead, he picks up a pen and writes to that Lonely Heart, telling Julie Barnes everything – yes everything, Julie never knew about love.

Kate Axeford (she/ hers) is a social worker based in Brighton. She’s made appearances in Brilliant Flash Fiction, Bending Genres, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Lit, NFFD Anthology and Splonk and has been S/L for Bridport and L/L for Bath FFA and Reflex. Find her @KateAxeford / @kateaxeford.bsky.social

Diane’s comments”

This flash has a strong beginning and a strong ending and is full of interesting detail and language. I loved the phrase: ‘Julie Barnes told the playground how kissing Brian Willoughby was like being licked by a toad’ – this took me right back to being a teenager and it’s so easy to imagine the effect this would have had on poor Brian – it’s a memory that still haunts him decades later. I also love the use of the word ‘snog’ and found it easy to picture Julie Barnes.

Runner up, Ali Mcgrane

Cinders

Her face on the front page of his evening paper causes him to stop dead, to momentarily forget he’s already unscrewed the stopper from last night’s hot water bottle, and to dribble the cold contents into his waiting slipper. Like a fool.

He shakes the slipper into the sink and parks it on the floor in front of the stove to dry. Her face is still in his hand. With one foot cosied into the remaining slipper, and the other left bare, he lays the newspaper, gently, reverentially, next to his plate on the table. The plate boasts a single undercooked egg, singed toast, and a fried tomato edged in black. With his thumb, he absently strokes her monochrome image, over and over, until the touch is a scorch.

He allows himself to skim the headline, then the first sentence, and the next, until the letters tangle and untangle, reminding him of the way she’d squeeze onto a swing in the park, and twist, dancing round and round on her toes, the seat lifted higher and higher until she could go no further. The way she’d curl into herself as the chains uncoiled. The way laughter would explode from her mouth as the rebound jerked her back and forth.
In the beginning, it seemed both ordained and miraculous. The two of them finding each other like that. When she left he was so profoundly unravelled, he paid no attention to the outside world. Phone calls went unanswered, letters lay unopened. Even when confronted with the fact of his emptied bank account, he blamed himself. He’s surprised how angry he feels now. To not be the only fool.

His naked toes writhe and cramp. In agony, he stands and presses his foot to the cold floor, then rises on tiptoe, forcing the muscles to give. Soft groans escape him as pain flares and dulls.
Reseated, he pushes his food aside, and brings the small two-dimensional version of her face close to his own, until all he can smell is the print, all he can see is a blur, all he can hear is the firelighter crackle of the page in his trembling hand.

Ali McGrane is the author of novella-in-flash, The Listening Project (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2021). She has stories in Splonk, Fictive Dream, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Literary, Gone Lawn and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net and Best Microfictions, and shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award. Find her @Ali_McGrane_UK and alimcgrane.com
Diane’s comments:
There are some wonderful descriptions in the flash and I particularly liked the one of the woman on the swing, especially the sentence: ‘the way she’d curl into herself as the chains uncoiled.’ I felt such empathy with our protagonist – he was obviously very much in love with the woman who not only duped him, but others too.

Runner up, Sudha Balagopal

The Shrinking

Remember, thirty years ago, you carried me over the threshold of a spacious house outside of Ocala, Florida?

Remember, we arranged our wedding gifts—the seldom-used pressure cooker on the top shelf, the sandwich-maker within easy access, the ridiculous measuring scale on the back wall, the cross from your nun-aunt across from the dining table? Remember, we painted the entire kitchen blue, the cabinets, the shelves, even the floor? Remember, our clothes became a memento, saved in a box, because the paint transferred when we rolled on the floor? Remember, we anointed our love in every room in the house?

Remember, two years later, I told you our home was narrowing, that it had lost some square footage? Remember, by then you’d taken to grunting your responses? Remember, I asked if that sound meant acknowledgment or dismissal? Remember, that was after Bill Clinton became president, and you were reading the newspaper—it’s what you still do ad infinitum, read the paper, read the paper, read the paper?

Remember, ten years later I told you a bedroom had disappeared, not because of the sinkholes we have in Florida—a depression in the ground caused by a collapse of the top layer—but that the room simply vanished? Remember, you said you hadn’t noticed? Remember, you kept your head buried in the newspaper and I shouted that you once told me you could sleep in a shoe-box? Remember, by then everyone had computers but you still read the papers and left sections strewn on the floor, stepping on them like they were area rugs?

Remember, I told you it was the last straw when we lost the living room and dining room? Remember, we jostle-crashed into each other, pointy elbows digging, knobby knees knocking at every turn—an intimacy we might have found titillating three decades ago? Remember, I screamed that I could stretch out my arms in the center of the room and touch the walls? Remember, we thump-bumped into each other and one of your shoes came off? Remember, I demanded to know if you needed any more proof there was absolutely no room in the house? Remember, you snorted and said the foot could remain naked because you weren’t going anywhere?

Of course, you’ll claim you don’t remember.

I won’t be around to remind you.

Sudha Balagopal’s writing appears in literary journals worldwide. Her novella-in-flash, Things I Can’t Tell Amma, was published by Ad Hoc fiction in 2021. A full-length flash collection, Tiny Untruths, is forthcoming from Alternating Current Press in 2024. She has had stories included in Best Microfiction, Best Small Fictions and the Wigleaf Top 50. More at www.sudhabalagopal.com
Diane’s comments:
The use of repetition works well in this engaging flash. I could feel the writer’s despair about her husband’s constant newspaper reading: ‘it’s what you still do ad infinitum, read the paper, read the paper, read the paper’. I very much enjoyed the description of the wedding presents and the surprise of the line: ‘Remember, our clothes became a memento, saved in a box, because the paint transferred when we rolled on the floor’ – this is a couple who were once in love.

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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 www.writershq.co.uk 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

    https://www.flashcabin.com/art-flash

    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!
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    Winners Writing Challenge One: January online festival contest

    We had two flash fiction writing contests in the January online flash fiction festival day, both challenges judged by writer and co-director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK, Diane Simmons from visual prompts set by our Festival Director Jude Higgins Thanks very much to everyone who entered. And a further thank you to Diane for judging.

    The first prompt and winning stories are published on this page. And we have another page for the three winning stories from the second challenge to write a triptych.. Congratulations to all!

    For the first challenge, writers were asked to write a story based on this painting ‘Mrs N C Wyeth’ in the kitchen: Winter Light’ Alternate title: ‘The Recipe Book’, painted by N C Wyeth in 1933. Jude suggested writers could add historical details from the time. Adele Evershed won first price and the two runners-up are Jane Salmons and Laurie Swinarton. All writers win three competition entries from Bath Flash Fiction Award, books from Ad Hoc Fiction and the offer of publication in the Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, Vol 6.
    Read in Full

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