writers

‘Just Like Mummy’ to be Published by CHEAP POP!

My flash fiction, ‘Just Like Mummy’, has been accepted by the incredible CHEAP POP, an online journal featuring micro-fiction that sticks with the reader, regardless of genre or subject matter.

I’m really excited that ‘Just Like Mummy’ has found a home because I believe it’s a story that fits what this great publication is about. I won’t give it away, even though you will have to wait until February to read it, but it’s told from the point of view of a little girl who wants nothing more than to grow up to be like her Mummy.

Just you wait…

I’ll post again when CHEAP POP have published ‘Just Like Mummy’, and I’m looking forward to being a part of this brilliant online journal. Meanwhile, you should definitely check our the micro-fiction they publish, read some, and consider even submitting your own writing. Check them out by following this link here.

‘Four in the Morning’ Published by PARAGRAPHITI in their Flash Fiction Issue!

The flash fiction issue of PARAGRAPHITI is online and available to read by following this link here. My flash fiction, ‘Four in the Morning’, is published alongside a handful of other brilliant flash fictions. I finished reading the issue this morning. I hope you read and enjoy my story, as well as the Flash Fiction issue in it’s entirety.

You can follow the link about to be taken to the Issue’s contents page, or you can follow this link here to be taken directly to ‘Four in the Morning’PARAGRAPHITI publish more than flash, so why not visit their webpage and have a look around by following this link here.

‘The Fortune Seeker’ to be Published by Litro Online for #FridayFlash!

I had a wonderful email last night from Litro Online to tell me that my flash ‘The Fortune Seeker’ has been accepted for their #FridayFlash segment and will be published soon. I’ll let you all know when it’s available to read online. I’m super stoked to have ‘The Fortune Seeker’ accepted by Litro Online!

Litro Online, and their print edition, publish all types of writing ranging from essays, poems, to short stories and flash. There’s a lot to choose from, and plenty of submission opportunities, so check them out by following this link here.

I’ll tease you all with a little bit about ‘The Fortune Seeker’: the flash fiction is about a young woman named Lorna who is trying to find out the meaning behind her dreams. But which interpretation is right, and will it come true?

Does that intrigue you? Well, you’ll have to wait until it’s published to find out what happens…

‘Midnight Sky in Winter’ Published in the Winter Issue of Unbroken Journal!

Nothing better to wake up to after a night of partying on a Saturday night, a Halloween night too, to find the winter issue of Unbroken Journal published and ready to read online. I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoy reading this journal.

Unbroken Journal celebrate the poetic prose and the prose poem, and accompany writers’ work alongside photography, which is always well-chosen and thought-provoking. They’re particularly fond of prose poetry and this is fantastic because there aren’t very many journals, from what I know, that publish a lot of prose poetry (and they’re missing out). I thoroughly recommend checking out their latest issue and consider submitting your own writing to this journal. Follow this link to check them out!

Of course, I also recommend you read their latest issue and my prose poem, ‘Midnight Sky in Winter’, kicks this issue off! My little poem being the first one to appear in the issue — now that’s not something that’s happened to me before! You can read the issue, and ‘Midnight Sky in Winter’, by following this link here.

If you’re interested you can check out their last issue too, which features two more of my prose poems, ‘Stuck’ and ‘Caught’. You can read those by following this link, and keep an eye out for their first issue of 2016, as this will include another of my prose poems, ‘Tessellation’.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy Sunday!

‘Introductions’ and ‘Chain’ to be published in SpaLife Magazine!

Two flash fictions of mine, ‘Introductions’ and ‘Chain’ are to be published in SpaLife Magazine, a magazine created and published by Bath Spa University students. Here’s this from their website, which I’ve included a link to because they do more than just a print magazine!

SpaLife Magazine is published in a print edition once a term, and online. All content is produced by student volunteers who want you to keep up to date with the latest university news and events, entertainment, travel and more.  Pick up your copy around campus or via the SU website.

I’m really excited to pick up a print copy of this magazine later this year, and will link to the two stories when they’re published in the online edition too. It feels great to have work published in this magazine, to have my fellow students appreciate and accept my writing, and to have new students read my work, to reach a new audience. I also feel as if I’m giving back a little to my university, as if I’m saying ‘here’s a little bit of what I can do thanks to the skills you’ve helped me develop’.

‘Introductions’ is a flash fiction about a guy who walks in on his sister kissing someone. She introduces him to her brother, but they’ve met before… and ‘Chain’ is about a being stood up due to miscommunication, and is more humorous in tone than my usual writing.

‘October’ to be Featured in The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2015!

I had some wicked news this morning: my vignette ‘October’ has been selected for The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2015. I’m so thrilled! ‘October’ was originally published in Issue #15 in July of this year, and I’m surprised and delighted that it has been selected to be considered as one of the best pieces of writing to have been published by Vine Leaves Literary Journal this year! It’ll also be their last Best of anthology that they’ll be publishing, which is sad, but it feels good to have made the cut!

I’ll post more information once it has been published, though in the meantime you should check out their submission guidelines and submit to their next issue when submissions are open, and you can check out previous issues online too. You can do all this by visiting their website here.

‘I’m Growing My New Boyfriend in a Petri Dish’ to be Published by Flash Frontier in their September / Science Issue!

I’m very happy to share with you all that my flash fiction ‘I’m Growing My New Boyfriend in a Petri Dish’ has been accepted for publication in Flash Frontier‘s September issue, which will be on the theme of Science.

All submissions were read blind and selected by two very good well known flash fiction writers: Kathy Fish and Tania Hershman. This particularly excites me because Tania Hershman is a writer who I admire a lot and inspired me to write flash fiction in the first place. During my first year at Bath Spa University Tania was invited to do a reading from her newest collection My Mother Was an Upright Piano and if you have no idea what I’m talking about get your hands on a copy and read it now.

This is the first time I’ll be published by Flash Frontier, which is edited by two great flash fiction writers Michelle Elvy and James Norcliffe.

I can’t wait for this issue to be published and to read the other stories that’ll be featured.

As you can probably guess from the title ‘I’m Growing My New Boyfriend in a Petri Dish’ is a flash fiction about an individual who decides to grow themselves a new boyfriend. To find out why you’ll have to wait until it’s published!

Short-Short Stories with Huge Impact: the Flash Fiction of Margaret Atwood.

Update 07/10/16: For an extended, revised, and more explorative version of this essay, please follow this link to the Thresholds Short Story Forum: Short-Short Stories with Big-Big Impact: the Flash of Margaret Atwood – THRESHOLDS Short Story Forum – (November 2016) – read it here.

Update: 27/10/16: An extended, revised version of this essay will be featured on the Thresholds Short Story Forum website soon. A link will be posted here when it has been published. Meanwhile, the original version has been retained below.

When you hear the name of prizewinning author Margaret Atwood many images are sure to spring to mind; The Handmaid’s Tale and the Maddaddam series for instance, or perhaps her most recent short story collection Stone Mattress, which was published little under a year ago. Novels and short stories are great, Atwood’s especially so, but Atwood’s flash fiction likewise resonates with her readers long after reading.

The idea of a story “staying” with a reader, regardless of its length, is the notion that the reader has been changed in some way by what they have read; the story leaves them feeling or thinking something. The latter is more prominent in Atwood’s flash fiction. They don’t always contain a traditional narrative but this doesn’t prevent Atwood from telling us a story, from making us think and feel. An excellent example of this is the story ‘Bread’ from her collection Murder in the Dark.

‘Bread’ is told from a second person perspective, which is considered a massive “no-no” by writers and readers alike because it can make a reader feel uncomfortable and uneasy; this is what Atwood aims to achieve in this flash fiction. Atwood takes a loaf of bread, an everyday object that we take for granted, and shows us the power this simple item has by making the reader imagine scenarios differing from the opening scene, where bread is plentiful and slathered in butter, peanut butter, and honey. The story opens with the following two sentences, demonstrating how the very beginning of a flash can set up the premise of the entire flash:

‘Imagine a piece of bread. You don’t have to imagine it, it’s right here in the kitchen, on the bread board, in its plastic bag lying beside the bread knife.’

What these opening sentences achieve is an introduction to the imagination as a device used by Atwood to make her readers think about the world we live in and all that is wrong with it. If we are lucky, which Atwood assumes her readers are, we don’t need to imagine a loaf of bread in our kitchen because we have one, or indeed many, but the scenarios Atwood then asks us to put ourselves in expose our natural tendency to overlook the things we are fortunate enough to have. I believe the strongest scene is where we are asked to imagine a famine and Atwood immediately transports us to a ‘thin mattress’ in a third world country and you and your dying sister are both hungry for the morsel of bread remaining. Atwood asks:

‘Should you share the bread or give the whole piece to your sister? Should you eat the last piece of bread for yourself? After all, you have a better chance of living, you’re stronger. How long does it take to decide?’

How could you make a choice in a situation where your own life and that of another so important to you depends on one decision? It is in this way that Atwood’s flash fiction remains in the mind of her readers; you may not cry or laugh, but you will think and for a long time afterwards too.

Not all of Atwood’s flash fiction forces you to deliberate over important issues; some stories highlight major themes and ideas in a playful way, and Atwood is a fan of reinventing myths or stories we’re well aware of as a method of achieving this. ‘Gertrude Talks Back’ from her collection Good Bones stands out as a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the point of view of his mother, who addresses Hamlet directly throughout this story. The reader is enlightened by Gertrude’s point of view, for example she reveals her thoughts on the name ‘Hamlet’ and how she wished to call him ‘George’, how her marriage with her late husband was an unhappy one, amongst other revelations that I’ll refrain from giving away.

Atwood doesn’t only transform narrative perspectives but reinvents forms too. ‘Making a Man’, featured in the same collection, is written as a women’s magazine article offering various methods of constructing a man. This isn’t quite a reversal of the view that women could be moulded by a man as they see fit, though the idea is present, but the tone of the article grows more menacing towards its trailed off ending. Using an ellipsis to end any prose fiction in this way, no matter its length, doesn’t always work, but Atwood leaves a harrowing impression on her readers by using one; acknowledging the sinister route the article is taking is unavoidable, leaving the reader to use their own imaginations to take the story to the darkest recesses of their mind.

There’s a tendency for some flash fiction collections to promise abstract wonderment and do so at the sacrifice of any real meaning or purpose to the writing beyond trying to appear original, quirky, or, heavens forbid, “random”. Such collections fall flat. Though ambiguity lingers throughout both of these collections of short writings from Margaret Atwood, she uses surreal situations to ground her readers encouraging them to think about what they have read, what it means to them, and, perhaps most importantly, what it means in terms of the ‘big picture’. Of the two collections Good Bones packs the mightier blow on initial reading, though to claim that both of these collections are rewarding reads is an understatement. The Tent, pictured but not discussed, is just as noteworthy, complete in this edition with illustrations by the author herself.

Three things can we learn as writers from Margaret Atwood’s short-short writing:

  1. Write weird and wonderful abstract pieces if you want but don’t do it for its own sake.
  2. Experiment with form – there are many ways to tell the same story.
  3. Trust the imagination of your readers. Let them work things out for themselves by leaving things left unsaid.

Dive in to these collections and prepare to resurface enlightened, full of thought, entertained, and changed.

Have you read these collections by Margaret Atwood? What did you think of them? Have they helped you develop as a writer as they’ve helped me? Or do you prefer her novels? Let me know in the comments section below!