An Open Pen Christmas

An Open Pen Christmas

Thrilled to have my downbeat micro flash, Holy Night, chosen by Open Pen London litmag to be the Christmas Eve story in their Twelve Days of Christmas series: Pretty happy too that they let me have The Smiths’ Please Please Please as my contribution to their accompanying Christmas playlist, on the wafer-thin ground that it was ‘once used in a John Lewis Christmas advert’. It’s one of my favourite songs, especially at the moment.

This flash was originally a free-write in response to a challenge last year to write a Christmas-themed story for our writing group. I remembered it this year and searched in the dozen or so scraggy notebooks I have stuff scribbled all over. Remarkably, I found it in the first one I tried. Even more remarkably, given my ‘disturbed spider fell in some ink’ style of handwriting, I could read all but one word of it, and rewrote it for this year.

Thanks, Open Pen, for letting me be part of your brilliantly warped and slightly disturbing Christmas stocking, this year – it was an honour.

Short Edition Short Story Dispenser

Short Edition Short Story Dispenser

Edmonton airport travellers can read free short stories while waiting for flight

A few months ago I was approached by Canada-based writer Jason Lee Norman about an exciting secret project he’d been working on for some time, bringing Canada’s first ever short story dispenser machine to Edmonton International Airport. The airport was keen to invest in something so creative and innovative and the project had reached the stage where they were looking for flash fiction writers from the local area and from destination countries, including the UK, to submit the stories that would fill the machine.

Was I interested? Er, YES PLEASE. Did I know any other UK flash writers who might also want to submit stories for consideration…? Yes – yes, I kinda thought I might :).

I wasn’t wrong – there was LOT of enthusiasm and excitement among UK flash writers about this project. The short story dispenser launched successfully early in December – I have two stories in the machine, and about a dozen UK-based writer friends have work in there too. We’ve been playing spot-the-story as passengers have shared pictures on the internet of the stories the machine has dispensed to them. We hope they have taken some of them home to keep and to love.

More dispenser machines are planned soon, with the potential for our stories to end up all over the world. The stories are free to the readers, with royalties being paid to authors each time their work is dispensed. Many thanks to Jason for such an unusual and brilliant opportunity.

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Two Days, Two Subs

I spent the last couple of months working on a thing I really wanted to apply for, trying very hard to write The Best Story I Have Ever Written. Turns out that sort of pressure isn’t the absolute best, creativity-wise, but it did result in a clutch of new story drafts, like a little nest of hatchling eggs. That metaphor is going to get weird if I try to continue it, but the upshot is that I’m now trying to rewrite and send out a few of them.

I really, really don’t sub enough. I spend so much time editing and rewriting, trying to drag the story up to be more like something the better writer I want to be might produce. This week I sent out two, the first with an accidentally awful cover letter attached. Happily (well, kind of) it resulted in a speedy, but very kindly-worded rejection, which afforded me the opportunity to write a proper email back to say thank you.

The second sub was via Submittable – easier not to blunder – and resulted in an even speedier ACCEPTANCE. Joy!

All in all, I reckon this subbing business might get to be kinda fun, given time. Wish me luck.

Reflex Fiction Comp – First Prize

Reflex Fiction Comp – First Prize

I won a thing! I’m pretty happy about it (for which read super-delighted; might have jumped up and down in the street a bit).

The inspiration for this flash came from reading about the Apollo missions and the experience of the astronauts who first saw the ‘Earthrise’ over the horizon of the moon. One of them described their view of space as being entirely monochrome, and the Earth as an incredible, bright spot of colour. It was moving to read his reaction. I searched for some of the mission transcripts and they were fascinating. I couldn’t find a way into the story, though, until I was thinking over a prompt on an online Kathy Fish course (and if you haven’t done a Fast Flash course with Kathy, stop reading now and go and sign up for the waiting list. Then you can come back.)

I’m so grateful to Vanessa Gebbie for choosing this story.

You can read it here: Fly Away Home – Reflex Fiction