ShortbreadStories: The Blog

Read. Discuss. Blog.

From reading and writing to publishing

/by  Krystyna Fedosejevs/

December 2013, not a mouse stirred in the house. The timer struck a tinny chime. Shortbread cookies raced out of my oven, row after row. The holiday season was approaching quickly.

A friend steered my eyes to a website, introducing me to a new kind of shortbread. Where words are used instead of cookie dough to entice a sweet tooth. Fairy-like creatures strutted in red-hooded jackets, hot-air balloons taking flight … inviting me to take an expedition of discovery. It couldn’t be a bad thing having ‘shortbread’ in its title.

Within minutes, I latched onto the strings and joined ShortbreadStories. Overall, it’s format looked appealing, offering written and audio stories. Poetry, flash fiction and short stories made up the repertoire.

I started contributing my own writing. One of the first ventures was a Christmas contest I entered. To date I have 37 stories posted at ShortbreadStories. The last one appeared approximately three months ago. I vowed I’d return one day. I will.

For now, I’m delighted to be basking in the limelight of publishing elsewhere. There’s so much variety, so many opportunities to be published online and in print.

I’ve been asked, ‘What impact ShortbreadStories has on my publishing?’ If, in fact, it was ShortbreadStories that started my publishing adventure? I’ll answer by first saying ‘no’ to the second question. I have had several short flash fiction, as well as poetry, published before my initial rendezvous. Also, several poetry contest winnings have placed me on a favourable board.

As to ShortbreadStories’ impact, the interaction with other writers, their comments and the opportunity to ‘publish’ have only reinforced my passion for writing. Since the start of my membership at Shortbread, several of my ultra short fiction have appeared at:

Fifty Word Stories (one story chosen as a runner-up in November 2013 contest)

100 Word Story

Nail Polish Stories (one story published in October2013; it was featured in the ‘Best of 2013’ issue; three more stories appeared in April 2014)

Espresso Stories

Haunted Waters Press

In nonfiction, I wrote and had published a review of an art history book at Alberta Wilderness.

In the fall issue of the Boston Literary Magazine, three of my haiku will be available for viewing.

I know I’ve been absent from the ShortbreadStories site too long. Most likely, those who got to know me there are disappointed in my disappearance. I say to them ‘Forgive me, please’. I’m only human; an adventurous being in pursuit of words.

I will be back.

Krystyna Fedosejevs

Aug. 2014.


Re-blogges from: From reading and writing to publishing | Shortbread

Sam and Charlie: Questions for the talented Mr Fish

/by Sam Kandej and Rachel Marsh/

The Talented Mr Fish

Our very own Sam got in touch with Mr Fish at Fiction on the Web to ask about his take on writing and the short story. Charlie Fish is a popular short story writer and screenwriter. His short stories have been published in several countries and inspired dozens of short film adaptations. Since 1996, he has edited Fiction on the Web, the longest-running short story site on the web. Every single story on Fiction on the Web is hand-picked and carefully edited by Charlie Fish. He was born in Mount Kisco, New York in 1980; and now lives in south London with his wife and daughters.

Sam Kandej: Nothing in this world is more enjoyable than having a few words with the writer whom you love and admire. Today, I have got the honor of spending a few minutes with Mr. Charlie Fish. How do you do Mr. Fish?

Charlie Fish: Very well, thank you.

Sam: Let us start with the short story itself. Are you in love with writing short stories?

Charlie: Actually, I often find the process of writing laborious and frustrating, especially when starting something new. What ends up on the page seems to fall short of the images in my head. I have to persist and write myself into the story until I reach that golden territory where the ideas and characters take on a life of their own. Not all stories get there, but when they do – that’s when I fall in love.

The great thing about short stories is that if I write one that’s no good, I can discard it and write a new one. Each time I have to discard a story I learn something new. Writing a novel is considerably more challenging – persisting past the doubt and frustration is a much longer slog.

Sam:  Do you remember the very first time you told yourself “I must become a writer”? What made you say that?

Charlie: I’ve written stories all my life, but for many years it never occurred to me to think of myself as a writer. I assumed I had to get a desk job with a decent salary. But then it occurred to me the only difference between being a rat-racer who dabbled with writing – and a writer – was declaring myself as such. I didn’t have to make money, or win awards, I just had to write, and put myself out there and tell people I was a writer until they started believing me.

As soon as I started calling myself a writer, I paid more attention to my craft and my writing has been getting better ever since.

Sam: And do you remember the first short story you read?

Charlie: The first? No. But there are several short stories I read in my youth that left a lasting impression – some of which I am revisiting now as I read them again to my three-year-old daughter. Like The Sneetches by Dr Seuss or The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Sam: How many short stories have you written?

Charlie: More than 50, of which there are maybe 15 that I consider worthy of general consumption.

Sam: Which one is the most popular?

Charlie: “Death by Scrabble”. It was first published in 2005, and since then I get at least an email a week from someone asking to reprint it, or adapt it into a film, or use it for a speech competition. It’s been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Flemish, Hebrew, Turkish, Chinese, Telugu, Gurani – and that’s just the ones I can remember. If you search “Death by Scrabble” on YouTube you’ll find nearly 100 short films inspired by the story. It features in standard textbooks for English comprehension in three countries.

There is no way I could have predicted how much of a chord that story would strike with people – and probably no way I’ll match its success again. But that won’t stop me from trying!

Sam: Is it your own favorite story too?

Charlie: I’m immensely proud of “Death by Scrabble”, but my latest favourite story is probably “Remission”, which I wrote last year for a horror anthology called BLEED, published to raise money for The Children’s Cancer Society. I poured a lot of raw emotional honesty into the story – it’s a science fiction space tale, but also a metaphor for the loneliness of dealing with a serious illness. My baby daughter was very ill when I wrote it, and I think the story was infused with some of the trauma and desperate hopefulness I was feeling.

(She’s happy and well now!)

Sam: Typically, How much time do you spend on reading short stories, and how much time do you spend on writing?

Charlie: Not enough time writing! Never enough time. But I read a lot of short stories – I usually get about a dozen submissions a week for my website, Fiction on the Web. I read them all during my lunch breaks at work, and choose the ones I want to publish. At home, at the moment, I’m reading Gardner Dozois’ Best of the Best anthology of science fiction short stories, which is thoroughly enlightening.

Sam: I’m really interested to know more about your writing habits. Do you have any unusual habits for writing short stories?

Charlie: My favourite writing environment is sitting in the bar of the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton with my laptop and a beer. No kids, no “To Do” list, and a very poor Internet connection. Perfect.

Sam: What do you do in your free time when you don’t feel like writing and reading?

Charlie: For the last couple of years I’ve been pretty obsessed with board games. Not the old school ones I grew up with, but the new wave that’s sparked a growing subculture. I recently attended the world’s largest board gaming convention in Essen, Germany, along with 150,000 other people. I had a blast. If “board games” to you means Monopoly, Risk and Scrabble, you’re missing out. Try Carcassonne, or Ticket to Ride, or King of Tokyo, or any of the other thousands of amazing games published in the last twenty years.

Sam: Have you ever been jealous of a writer?

Charlie: Envious, yes. One of my heroes is Terry Rossio, the screenwriter responsible for Aladdin, Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean. I wrote to him once to thank him for an inspiring series of columns he’s published online (at, and he invited me to a house party. I dropped everything and flew to LA to go. It wasn’t his palatial house that I was envious of, or his two hot tubs, but the fact that this man had the ear of Hollywood. He could write a screenplay and it would get taken seriously, get made for millions of dollars, and get shown to a packed audience at my local cinema 5000 miles away. I want that!

Sam: I have noticed that you are a humorous writer. You even mix horror and humor together. Is it a way to attract more readers? Or do you do that because you love humorous stories?

Charlie: I don’t really think of myself as a humorous writer. I’m no Douglas Adams. But humour is an excellent tool to charm readers and get their defences down. The louder they’re laughing, the more open and vulnerable they are when you hit them with the real emotion of the piece.

Sam: In your opinion, what would life be like if all politicians, presidents, kings, and prime ministers were short story writers?

Charlie: A lot of politicians are writers, which makes sense because they spend most of their lives making stuff up and manipulating people anyway. Perhaps if they all wrote fiction they’d have a keener sense of the ironies inherent in their day jobs, which could only be a good thing.

Sam: If I were a Short Story Genie, what three wishes would you make?

Charlie: Discipline, flair and courage.

Sam: You have a great website called Fiction on the Web. Why did you create it? And how many writers cooperate with you in order to keep this website up?

Charlie: Fiction on the Web gives me an opportunity to showcase amazing short stories, encourage fledgling authors, and contribute to the wider community of writers. No-one helps me with the site, it’s a labour of love.

Sam: What are your plans for the future? Are you going to write more short stories? Are you going to publish any new books?

Charlie: I’m intending to self-publish a collection of my best short stories from the last 15 years. Keep an eye out at for the announcement.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing – working on the collection for the next 15 years.

Sam: Thank you so much dear Mr. Fish for taking the time and answering my questions. I look forward to reading more of your short stories.

Charlie: Thank you Sam for such interesting questions!

If you follow an author online or in print and would like to interview him/her for ShortbreadStories, get in touch with Rachel at, and we’ll try to get you that interview.


Re-blogged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Sam and Charlie: Questions for the talented Mr Fish | Shortbread

A Writer Responds: The Whole Reason

Everyone uses ShortbreadStories differently: as a portfolio of polished work, as a learning exercise, as a library, or as a writing community. Others use it as a stop gap, sometimes already knowing that their piece needs work. Karen, who’s been a long-time member of ShortbreadStories, has been reading on the site for years, but only recently began uploading work. In this blog she talks about why she uses ShortbreadStories and about how Shortbreader comments help her move forward with her writing. Karen also hoped by addressing all of ShortbreadStories in a blog, it would get us all thinking about how we use the site’s comments.

If you want to write a post for ‘A Writer Responds’ send it to

Rebloged from : Karen Graham’s Blog › A Writer Responds: The Whole Reason | Shortbread

/by Karen Graham/

I’ve had my head stuck in thesis-land for the past month, and — while I’ve read everyone’s comments on my little poem — I haven’t gotten round to thanking everyone and responding. I will do shortly, but I have to get past this next deadline first.

Nevertheless, a couple of the comments got me thinking about the difference between my perception of the poem and the way my readers responded to it. I was under no illusions that this was a finished piece, and I’m still not. I’ve spent a good deal of time lurking about on ShortbreadStories reading stories and blog posts and comments, and I came to the conclusion some time ago that Shortbread is a bit like Kings Cross Station – you can spend an enjoyable time there, you can meet people and shop and eat and drink, but it’s only ever a stop on a journey to your final destination. It’s not home. Shortbread is not the home for my writing, or for yours either. It is a place that it needs to go through to get where it’s going.

Some of the comments I got reflected this, like those expressing the hope that this first step into submitting with ShortbreadStories helps me get the confidence to submit more, or those informing me of poetry competitions that I could submit to in a search to find a home for my writing.

Another brought up a different point entirely on my poem Mother:

“Hi Karen, just something for you to consider. To me (Only a thought!) the second lines after the ‘Mother’ line seem a little too long. I think the last stanza with the line ‘I am trying not to cry’ sounds as if it has the right rhythm and length to it. It follows the ‘Mother’ line very well. The content is strong and sad and makes you consider that the poor soul will now have two voids in their life. All the best. Hugh

It was not a surprise to me, as the author of the poem (wow that’s a weird thing to write), that a reader noticed a difference between the rhythm of the first long stanza and the final short one. This was sort of the idea I was going for, but without being too precious about it. I was at the stage of getting something semi-finished. The right amount of lines, the right tone, telling a story from beginning to end. I wasn’t at the stage of sitting down and thrashing out my rhythm and metre with dashes and slashes. Yet.

The rhythm is there, and there’s a difference in the way that last stanza feels — from my perspective. This difference is, to me, the opposite of Hugh’s interpretation. I’m not for a moment saying that he’s wrong. Indeed, I greatly believe that if the reader doesn’t get what I’m trying to say then I haven’t made my point well enough. This is normally something that I talk about with students when discussing their academic writing; however it is equally true for creative writing. Hugh’s comment shows me that the discord between the beginning and the end of the poem is there. The reader feels the change and they notice the twist. This is all a very good start.

For me, the rhythm and meter in the final stanza are too short. I’m left feeling the desolate, finite, rushed end of that stanza. But, I can see my character. I can hear their words and the lilt of their accent. I can see where they leave the note to their mother, and what they do after the close of that last line.

My job as an author is not to bend my reader to that exact image of the character. Instead of taking their head in my hands and forcing them to see my character through my perspective, I take a step back and see what they look like to the reader(s).

And so, like the mother in my poem, I have no choice but to watch. My character and their story no longer belong to just me. They belong to you, reader. No longer mine, but ours. And that is the whole reason that I write in the first place.


ShortbreadStories Personified: Grandma

/by Rachel Marsh/

Re-blogged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › ShortbreadStories Personified: Grandma | Shortbread

Suzanne Mays’ character sketch, ‘Grandma‘, is the winner of ShortbreadStories Personified competition. For this contest we asked members to create a 100-500 word character sketch, and the winner was not chosen by public vote, but – instead – by our new(ish) Trustees.

We also asked you lovely Shortbreaders to send illustrations of your personifications, and the one attached is by the lovely Kate Smart.

‘Grandma’ by Suzanne Mays

There’s a little old lady. She lives way back in the woods but she’s got the light on. It’s cold and rainy but she welcomes you in. She smiles. There’s a warm fire and all around the fire people are reading. They’re lounging everywhere. And there’re bins and boxes of stories – scary stories, funny stories, all kinds and sizes. Somebody comes in from Australia and reads a story. Somebody comes from South Africa and leaves a story. You can, too. You’ve got a story tucked under your coat and you give it to her. She claps her hands in delight. Now it has a home and somebody can read it in the middle of the night. She’s always open. There’s a warm fire and homemade cookies.

Head on over to ShortbreadStories where you can leave a comment for the author, share it with friends and read more fantastic stories just like this one.


(C) Kate Smart


Writing Challenge: Random Subjects

Brother and sister Shortbreaders, Tobias Haglund and Maria Burén, created a semi-competition amongst themeselves. They asked each other to write a story about a random subject chosen from the dictionary, then they uploaded the work to the site. The subject was ‘Cancellation’.

We thought this was such a great idea, and one we hope you might want to do for your first Writing Circle challenge. (Oh, and by the way, ShortbreadStories is starting Writing Circles, and you can read about it here.)

 Thanks to   for bringing such a great idea to ShortbreadStories.

Cancellation by Tobias

Cancellation by Mari

Re-blogged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Writing Challenge: Random Subjects | Shortbread 


Introducing Writing Circles

/by Erica Brooks/

I don’t want to embarrass anybody, but I’m going to anyway. Recently a new member named Icarus Fell, a.k.a. Stewart Hobby, put out an enterprising request in the forums. He wanted more readers, more feedback on his stories, and he offered to give feedback on others’ stories in return.

It was a simple and effective notion that sparked a good deal of encouragement, mostly veterans encouraging comments in general. Because, as Stewart’s request demonstrates well, comments are at the heart of the ShortbreadStories experience. The encouragement and constructive criticism are what make people want to post here. And it gave me an idea that we’re going to try out.

There is a new Forum Thread dedicated to Writing Circles, un-ironically, titled ‘Untitled’ (the backstory to this is that we can’t, at the moment, change the Forum thread titles, so we’re having to use ‘Untitled’ to denote ‘Writing Circles’).

The idea of Writing Circles is very, very simple – find some other writers and make an agreement to read, and to comment on, each other’s stories. Think of it like a virtual writers’ group.

Here’s how it’ll work. We’ve set up the new ‘Untitled’ Thread along with a few new Forum posts to get you started:

– The Circle Market is a place to post if you are looking for a circle to join. You can specify how many people you’d like to partner with, what kind of feedback you’re looking for, and anything else you consider relevant. This is a self-organising space, so use it as you see fit.

– The Circle Lottery is for people who would like to be randomly assigned writing partners. I’ll periodically pull names out of a hat, aiming for groups of four to eight people.

– The Suggestions Box is for general feedback.

– Group Discussion is for general talk, although you can also feel free to post your own threads and start your own discussions.

– Circle Challenges is for writing prompts and challenges in which each writing circle can participate.

You may want to organise circles around particular needs or interests – genre, writing goals, or experience, for instance. It’s also a chance for people to ask for a specific kind of feedback. Do you just want a bit of accountability and encouragement? Or are you looking for intensive, critical editing with an eye toward publication?

This is, of course, an experiment. It’s very much member-driven, although I’ll be keeping an eye on the place, watching for suggestions and stepping in if needed. Expect tweaks.

Most of all, take care of each other, especially new people. But then, you do that already, which is why you’re here.

Happy writing!


PS-If you’re getting a bit tired of ShortbreadStories ‘work arounds’ like ‘Untitled’ Forum Threads, you can donate to the redevelopment of the website by going to

Re-blogged from: Introducing Writing Circles | Shortbread 


Critical Collective: The Case of the Murder at the Falls

The Critical Collective is an ongoing feature gives writers the chance to get brutally honest feedback on their writing. This the next Critical Collective author is James McEwan who has asked our Shortbreaders to look in detail at his story ‘The Case of the Murder at the Falls’.

To get involved in The Critical Collective read this month’s story on our Critical Collective Forum thread.

If you would like your story to be featured in the next Critical Collective please email the story to


Re-blogged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Critical Collective: The Case of the Murder at the Falls | Shortbread


New Competition: ShortbreadStories Personified

What would ShortbreadStories look like, act like, smell like if he/she were a person? 

Using the writing prompt ‘ShortbreadStories Personified’, create a 100-500 word character sketch and upload it to the competition by 25 April.

However, this time, the winner will not be chosen by public vote, but – instead – our new(ish) Trustees will pick their favourites to feature in a Friday Story.

But wait. There’s more. If you are both a writer and an illustrator (or just like to have fun with a pen and pencil set) send drawings of your imagined ‘ShortbreadStories Personified’ to, and the Elf will post them on our Pinterest board. Oh, and the images are separate from the competition, so feel free to send an image but not upload a story, or upload a story to the competition but not send an image. Or send us an image and upload a story.

If you do send us a drawing, please save it as a jpg and mark the image with your name and the © symbol.

To enter visit: ShortbreadStories Personified | Shortbread


On Being an AFWA – an Ageing, Female, Would-be Author

/by Kate Smart/

Do men and women grow old differently?  Of course they do, at least in a superficial sense: biologically, socially, politically and culturally. But do these superficial aspects count?  We all must face ageing and death.

 Western culture has been under various forms of patriarchal control for centuries.  Women, supposedly, lacked the capacity to reason, to manage their own property, or to vote. That has changed, of course, and yet when I look on the internet and television, and at Western media in general, I marvel at how little change there has been since the 1970s in terms of how women are perceived and portrayed. In some respects, we even seem to have travelled backwards.  But, perhaps, the media doesn’t really count.  Perhaps real lives are different.  They generally are.

 The great thing about getting older and becoming an AFWA (or an AMWA) is that, as time passes, you – I – become aware of a multiplicity of selves, and you – I– might even find, at some point, that you – I –  can become friends with some of these selves.  Or, more intriguingly, from the point of view of my own writing, you – I – can become frenemies with these selves.

 As a writer you – I – can draw on these patterns of light and shade, and on an evolving  appreciation of process, growth, decay, loss, and the ultimate poignancy of love in the knowledge of mortality.

So much for the positive side.

But what does it mean?  And what are the wider implications?

It means that you become aware that you are subject to yet another of these well-known,  invidious, pseudo-ironical, and rather offensively-flavoured ‘laws’, such as ‘Murphy’s’, and ‘Sod’s’.

I’ll now provide an example:  I dropped my toast this morning, and it landed butter side down.  Har de har.  How amusing (not).  Butter is too expensive and nourishing to fling willy-nilly straight in the bin, but who, aside from my neighbour’s dog, would choose to eat toast with cat hairs, carrot scrapings and dust on it? Someone with very strange tastes, that’s who, and I wouldn’t want them living next door.  Perhaps your floor is cleaner than mine; perhaps I’m being presumptuous.  If I’m not, you are, like me, thusly (yes, unlikely though it sounds, ‘thusly’ is a real word) thrust into a ghastly dilemma-style vortex of, quite frankly, horrific and unimaginable proportions.

You think I exaggerate?  I do not.  Please Read On.

You have choices. To remove the butter and save the bread, perhaps re-toasting it under the grill (the toaster would be ruined by the inevitably residual butter), thereby turning it into shoe-leather, which might come in handy at some point, but which is likely to be quite inedible. Or start from scratch and make fresh toast. Only (imagine!) the post-person is hammering relentlessly at the door with an Amazon parcel for the dreadful shouty woman three doors up, and you are in a hurry to get your washing out before the rain comes on and you don’t want to miss the Jeremy Kyle Show because your disabled cousin’s dentally-challenged adult children are on it with their…oh who cares.  This is a prime example of how Time gets Wasted as Life Goes By.  And AFWAs have no time to spare.

 The ‘law’ to which I refer, by the way, is a strange law for which no name has yet been invented (I might give it some thought). The essence is that the more years that go by, the more quickly they pass, and the more aware you become of every wasted second.

 There is urgency to life as one ages.  You have only just adjusted to the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing one’s mother, when friends, family and acquaintances start succumbing to the various ghastly diseases that inevitably occur in later life, and one wonders how long one’s own luck will hold out. It was Alexander Pope who said, rather stating the obvious, that terminal illness in the young was like a premature old age.  And Bette Davis said that ageing isn’t for (excuse the politically incorrect term) ‘sissies’.  We AFWAs cannot afford to be ‘sissies’.  We must press on, making the most of every minute, before the Grim Reaper steps on our coat tails and yanks us down to the Nether World.

However, it’s all an awful lot of Hard Work and sometimes one just wants to sit by the fire in one’s velour slippers and winceyette jammies and ‘veg out’, and, if you’re lucky, have someone congenial bring you a mug of cocoa with a hefty slug of sherry in. It must be understood that time spent ‘relaxing’ like this is never wasted, because it is times like this that worthwhile ideas tend to swim up  from the unconscious and puzzles are solved.

It must be acknowledged, equally, that sometimes it is simply too late.  Once you get past a certain age (and I am unsure of what that age is, because it varies from one individual to the next) you have to recognise that there are many things that you will never do again, and that many early ambitions will be left unfulfilled.  The sense of promise and possibility at a new-day dawning diminishes.  That is for sure.

You – I – must come to terms with all of this, because it is the essence of How Things Are. We must travel to a point within ourselves where it is somehow all, all right. And if it is not all right, we must somehow learn to tolerate and accept it. This is my journey, now.

We as writers bear witness to our lives and to the times in which we live.  Even if we write about the past, we are writing it through a prism, which is our own present perception.  We cannot recapture a moment, ever.  We can only describe it as we think it was, or would like it to have been.

What keeps me writing as I age?  I have never stopped wondering ‘why’?  ‘Why are we here?’ and ‘why is life so poignant and short and filled with apparent loss?’  I don’t expect ever to find an answer, but my ambition is to keep on wondering, and seeking, and learning, and I thank God, or Fortune, or whichever, for my faculties and my remaining health and the ability to do so.

Re-blogged from: On Being an AFWA – an Ageing, Female, Would-be Author | Shortbread 


The Biggest Announcement Yet

/by Rachel Marsh/

For those of you who have been with ShortbreadStories for some time, you’ll be used to our ‘grand announcements’. In July 2012 we became a charity, and a month later we introduced Gavin Dobson as Trustee. Then, in September of last year, we said goodbye to our beloved and adored editor, Fiona Smith. All of these announcements have been for the benefit of the organisation and have helped us move forward, even if slowly, with our overall development plan.

So, as you will guess from the title, we are making another announcement; however, this statement is bitter sweet. I am saying good-bye to more team members and welcoming others into new roles.

It is with a heavy heart that I bit farewell to Robin Pilcher, bestselling author and ShortbreadStories founder. Robin started ShortbreadStories as a private business nearly ten years ago, but — despite the organisation legally acting as a company — he was insistent that the site was not littered with advertisements and it was open to all, thus it had no revenue streams. This led us to rethink the model, so we decided to become a charity. At that time Robin stepped down as an owner and became a Trustee. As a Trustee he remained active and continued to fund the organisation as a patron.

 After years of making ShortbreadStories a central part of his life, Robin has decided to retire. I am positive that Robin will remain an Advocate of the organisation, but sunny Spain, France and Longforgan are calling his name.

When Robin internally announced his plans to retire, Gavin made a decision to leave the organisation as well. This left me with a monumental task. Find their replacements. And, despite the weight of the decision, two obvious names came to mind:

Fiona Smith: We all know and love Fiona, and I am very happy to announce that she is returning as a Trustee. She was with ShortbreadStories from almost the beginning: reading, editing and running the organisaiton as Editor, Project Manager, and all around Jack-of-Shortbread-Trades.

Fiona’s new role with ShortbreadStories will be slightly different to her previous job with the organisation. As a Trustee she will be instrumental in planning and developing the future of ShortbreadStories, and she will be a lead in all external communications. However, for the moment, she will not be attending to the daily running of the site, but she will be behind the scenes helping us plan for the future.

Erica Brooks: Erica is an early member of the site and a part of the ShortbreadStories in Spain crew. I have the utmost respect for Erica. She has an egalitarian ethos to writing education and has been a part of writing programmes on two Continents. She is an advocate of the arts, of literature, and of being a damn fine person. Plus, she is already getting our new little team more organised than it has ever been.

So, we say farewell to Robin and Gavin, and hello (once again) to Fiona and Erica. But, rather than ending this little announcement myself, I would like leave you with the words of those who are coming and going. Below are links to Robin’s ‘goodbye statement’, and Fiona and Erica’s ‘hello’s.

Robin’s Retirement Message

Fiona’s Introduction as a Trustee

Erica says ‘Hello’ as Trustee

Re-bloged from: Rachel Marsh’s Blog › The Biggest Announcement Yet | Shortbread 

Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23rd March

/by Nik Eveleigh/

OK, it’s Spotlight time again. Rumour has it that on this day in history (March 23rd) in 1839 the letters ‘O.K.’ appeared in print for the first time. It’s hard to believe that it only took a mere hundred and seventy five years for me to start a blog post with the same letters.

If something is OK it’s generally considered to be fine, average, business as usual. To paraphrase a great line delivered by the character Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, this week’s picks are ‘pretty…umm…gosh darn far from ok.’

Diane Dickson features regularly in the Spotlight. This week her appearance is as nominator rather than nominee, and she asked that I highlight Educated Fishwives by another Spotlight stalwart Adam West.

Diane – your wish is my command. And, in fact, I will see your Educated Fishwife and raise you the rest of the Alphane Moon series. Adam will write-off these stories in his usual humble manner, as a Philip K Dick tribute act, but I’ve read all four and would urge you to do the same. Intelligent writing that focusses on an unusual love story.

The cycle begins with Do Eros Sevens Dream of Jupiter or Mars, continues with Love on an Alphane Moon and Sex, Life and Death on an Alphane Moon and concludes with the aforementioned Educated Fishwives.

Speak of the devil. The man himself has just appeared, so I’ll hand over to him for his picks of the week. If anyone needs me I’ll be in the green room sipping bubbly with the Shortbread illuminati.

Diversity reigns at ShortbreadStories, with many regulars continuing to publish some first-rate material. It is newcomers writing highly original and inventive fiction that I have, however, chosen to highlight. All three should dispel any peculiar notions that this site lacks talent.

For starters I give you I Love You, But… by Chris Crawshaw. Quality writing. Darkly funny metaphorical fare. No monkey business.

Then there’s Aimee Macaskill. Take your pick. The Wasp is good. So is Deep Breaths. Another writer with potential I have had the pleasure to read, and my last choice for Nik’s Spotlight feature (may I say thanks Nik for continuing to write and edit this worthy piece)…

(You may Adam – the agreed fee will be with you shortly.)

Beel Neale is less a newcomer than the aforementioned writers with eighteen stories on the site in just two months, but I am nevertheless still getting to know and appreciate thisemerging style.

In Butterflies At Dawn, Beel writes:

‘They’re waiting for the butterflies.

In the half-light they come, so numerous they fill the air — no, they seem almost to be the air. The sky is choked with a million fluttering autumn leaves.

Little Cathy spins around in a circle.

“Look,” she cries, in a soft whisper. “Look, they’re everywhere.”‘

Thanks Adam. I think I’d better send you into the green room – a few people are getting out of hand with those free Shortbread shooters…

Some great picks already. Chris Crawshaw’s story in particular is a cracker in my opinion, but I have a few more to add and strangely enough it also begins with a Chris – Christopher Donaldson and his story Crank

Crank is hilarious. It should be required reading for anyone who has ever ridden a bike, strapped on a pair of running shoes, or done something equally foolish in the early hours of a weekend morning. You are always guaranteed a top notch story with Chris but this is his first foray into comedy and hopefully won’t be the last.

The final burst of the Spotlight this week falls on someone who has just joined ShortbreadStories and has kicked off with a brave and unusual piece. In the comments placed on this story, James McEwan reckons it should be the story of the week – high praise indeed from someone who reads, comments and critiques as often and as well as James does – but well deserved. So, for those of you havent read it yet go and check out Meagan Wollaston and her story Sheltered and let her know what you think.

OK. I’ll see you all in a fortnight. Happy reading and please keep your picks coming to



Re-blogged from: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23rd March | Shortbread


ShortbreadSpecials: Week of 23rd March

/by Rachel Marsh/

*Don’t forget to vote for your favourite piece in the International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change competition.

*We had more stories submitted for publication this week than usual, so instead of publishing everything on Sunday, I’ve decided to split this week’s pieces into two batches. This way everyone will have a chance to feature on the ‘Latest Short Stories’ list (scroll down on the front page and you’ll see it to the right). So, if you’ve submitted recently but don’t see your work on the site, please do not despair. I will be publishing the rest of the editing queue on Wednesday.

*There’s some really good chat happening over in our current ‘Critical Collective‘ forum. Just now everyone’s commenting on Chris Donaldson’s Albion’s Shore.

*ShortbreadStories is now on Pinterest, where the Social Media Elf is pinning each week’s Writing Prompt Wednesday photos.
*If you’re a bl
ogger, drop by our blog page at

*And, of course, check out this week’s ShortbreadSpotlight and then send over your Spotlight recommendations to Nik at

As always, if you’ve got anything you want to highlight on ShortbreadStories you can get in touch with me at

Re-blogged from: ShortbreadSpecials: Week of 23rd March | Shortbread


Shortbread Spotlight: 1st week of March

/by Nick Eveleigh/

I do believe the Spotlight has hit a new record this week – fifteen separate stories for your viewing pleasure! It may even be sixteen if I can decide on my own pick between now and the end of the blog.

So, without further ado about much let’s launch into this week’s picks.

There’s been a lot of Oscar talk over the last week or two (I’m referring to the awards ceremony rather than the blade-running alleged murderer), and we begin this week with the recent recipient of the ‘Man most likely to write a piece of romantic comedy and then set about it with a buzzsaw, several zombies and enough buckets of blood to make the final scene in Carrie look like a paper-cut’ award. It is of course Mr Robert Kasch and his choices based on overall consistency and excellence’: Diane Dickson for A Darker MoonSuzanne Mays for her Prairie Girlfriend stories (Prairie Girlfriend and Prairie Girlfriend Meets Cowboy) and Patsy R Liles for Terror by Night or Day.

In Spotlight terms Diane Dickson and Suzanne Mays are clearly in the Gravity bracket when it comes to racking up the mentions. This time Diane is the nominator and Suzanne the recipient for her story Mandover Cottage, an older story from one of our regular contributors and the opportunity to bring it back to the fore for new readers was too good to miss.

Diane continues her look down memory lane with the Little Mr. Peterson series (part onepart two and part three) from Mark Patrick, who, in Diane’s words ‘seems to have left the site, at least he hasn’t been around but amongst his other stuff which was all good there are three of these weird little stories and they certainly left me wanting more.  I sort of hope he’s off somewhere expanding the strange world and that if he is he will come back and share it with us’.

Up next ladies and gentleman to present the award for ‘Best international story from people who may be foreign depending on where you live’ it’s the recent recipient of the ‘Outstanding achievement in the art of comma termination’ prize, Mr Adam West.

Once (last week to be precise) there was an Englishman, an Irishman, an Afro-Welshman, an American and a hmm – an Australian (woman), and all of them wrote brilliant stories that just happen to form my eclectic (stopping yawning Eveleigh, I know I used the ‘E’ word again) pick for this week’s Spotlight.

And the nominees are…

Dead Man Walking by Des Kelly – If effete males being dominated by strong sexy females (sisters) is your stick, then get a hold of this beauty by an English bloke. If on the other hand you prefer sublime Celtic poetry that defies description (that’s why I plumped for sublime) then Gus Glynn has to win with The Tower. If on another hand – you don’t actually have – you go in for some crazy Afro-Welsh combo send-up of all things irritatingly Orc-like then MISTER Nik Eveleigh writes very cleverly in A Shaggy Crow Story. Alternately read The Lady Red, where in an alternate (parallel) universe an American called Robert Kasch writes super cool steam-punk set in post WW1 ‘London’. They are all top-drawer stories and so isDenise Melville‘s Running On Empty. What more could you ask? It’s got Tim-Tams and a dunny, an old man, a young woman, and a landlord who is all heart. Not.

…and the Oscar goes to…

What? I’m not telling you. Go and read them and make your own mind up.

Last and by no means least we come to the “Most economical use of words in a short story title” award. And here to present it is the First Lady of Bunfettle herself, Kate Smart.

Walk by Bill Hutchinson

The Room by Gus Glynn

I respond to work on an emotional level and while I know that many writers look for this on Shortbread, I don’t like to analyse, criticise and take things apart myself, because thinking in that way disturbs my enjoyment as I read, and I also worry about disrespecting the efforts of the writer (if it is clear that efforts have been made, of course). Can I read it through smoothly without feeling blocked or interrupted, is what goes through my head, on some level? Bill’s story was excellent in that respect, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would have been more than happy to read on – which is high praise from me! I will definitely read more of his work. Gus’s story is a descriptive piece that really drew me in, and because I liked it so much it led me to read all four of his pieces on Shortbread. I think he is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading longer work by him.

That wraps it up for another week folks – enough quality on offer already without me adding a pick I’d say.

Thanks to everyone who contributed – both for nominating and for writing stories worthy of sharing. As always I’d love to hear from you next time around at and I hope you enjoy reading (and commenting) on this week’s picks.



Read more: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: 1st week of March | Shortbread

International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change

/by Rachel Marsh/

In honour of International Women’s Day, this competition is for our female Shortbreaders only and the theme is ‘Inspiring Change’.

International Women’s Day ‘celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action’, and, while some of the bigger literary publications (such as the Paris Review and the Boston Review) are taking action to balance the gender ration in their organisations, women remain under represented in publishing. Therefore, ShortbreadStories would like to use International Women’s Day to highlight this imbalance.

According to an NPR article reporting on VIDA’s yearly count of women in publishing, ‘The AtlanticThe London Review of BooksThe New Republic and The Nation have all had an overall ratio of 75 men to 25 women, including both reviewers and those reviewed. At The New York Review of Books, it’s 80-20.’ (For more on the 2013 VIDA count, click here.) This is despite the fact that ‘Women purchase the bulk of literary fiction products in the USA’ according to a report on Women and Literature.

So, let’s try to help bridge that gap, and get as many of our female Shortbreaders entering this competition.

Theme: Inspiring Change (This can be loosely iinterpreted and does not mean that the story has to necessarily be inspirational.)
Word Limit: 3500
Prize: Appear in the 4 April Friday Story
Closing Date for Submissions: 22 March 2014
Opening Date for Public Voting: 24 March 2014
Closing Date for Public Voting: 3 April 2014

More on how you can help bridge the gap in gender publishing simply by reading more women authors, click here to find out about #readwomen2014.

Reblogged from more: International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change | Shortbread

Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23 February

/by Nick Eveleigh/

Shortbread has been a busy place over the last fortnight. Stories have been coming in at over fifty a week, and it’s been good to see newer members of the site getting involved in reading and commenting. Old debates have been rekindled (and now hopefully put to bed), Facebook and Twitter updates are coming thick and fast (thanks to our Social Media Elf) and articles and interviews appear (and disappear) so swiftly I can barely keep up. There’s even a Valentine’s Day competition to vote on. (You have until 28 February to cast your vote.) So, despite the technical glitches we hit on occasion, the community is very much alive and kicking.

Speaking of the technical glitches, the only way to fix them long term is through funding. Three members of the site – Kate SmartDiane Dickson and Robert Kasch – have all pledged proceeds from their work to the site so please support them here. Personally I work on an inverted funding model which involves me paying my friends to read my stories but as soon as I flip that around I will be sure to follow the example set.

And so, on to the picks for the week. We start with a man who is not only an excellent writer and an active reader and commentator, but also has extraordinary taste and wisdom when it comes to choosing stories. That man is Robert Kaschand he chose a great recent submission from Adam West…before losing the plot and choosing one from yours truly:

Being a junkie of Horror, science fiction and hard boiled murder mysteries and have over the years collected thousands of the now, mostly defunct, digests of said genres I was happy to see a fantastic future world story The Feast of Margaret by Adam West along with a dark and well painted tale The Water’s Edge by Nik EveleighGood job on both stories.

My slightly tedious self-deprecation aside, I’m thrilled to have this story chosen by Robert, and I’m equally thrilled to see Adam’s tale included. It’s well worth reading.

Next up this week is Kate Smart. Her choices this week reflect that there’s something for everyone on ShortbreadStories: three very different writers playing with different styles and genres, all well written and all worth a look:

Fools Rush In by Sheila Ireland – a frothy chic-lit-style story, perfect with a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate.

No Big Deal by Robert Kasch – I really liked the almost beat-style tone of this and could not find anything wrong with it at all, despite Robert having submitted it to the Critical Collective for a possible ‘mauling’.

Beside the Sea by Desmond Kelly – thoughtful and very well-written.

Over to Adam West to tell you about his choices for the week while I take a well-earned tea break. This stuff doesn’t just write itself y’know…

My three choices this week come from two writers – one well established on the site, the other a newcomer.

Toffee-Head-Tom by Hugh Cron – it’s a bit odd – it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty original, too. Read it and smile.

My other two picks come from Shortbread newcomer, Veronica Tan. Firstly, Regretful Sinner which reads a bit like a synopsis for a remake of the Brad Pitt shocker Se7en. It’s a very neat piece of writing.

In Unseen and Unknown, Veronica writes:

‘Tick, tock, tick, tock,

Tell me what you see not

Do you know what’s the most dangerous thing in life? It’s a corner. Not poison nor a knife or even a murderer, but a corner instead.’

Highly imaginative and innovative writing – superbly edited – a joy to read. More please.

I’ve read all of Adam’s picks this week and they really are excellent.

Right, I’ve lobbed a bag of commas in West’s general direction so while he’s distracted there’s just enough time for me to put forward a pick of my own.

My choice this week is Privatization In Mind by Kevin Thomson. At first glance the Doric dialect will seem impenetrable to many of you but take your time to get into it and you’ll uncover a clever, tragic and occasionally hilarious piece of satire. I can highly recommend reading it out loud as not only does it help to make sense of some of the phrases but it’s a liberating experience to sound like a bad extra from an Irvine Welsh novel in the comfort of your own home.

That’s it until next time…please keep all your picks coming to, but more importantly go and read the stories and tell the writers what you think of their work.


Re-bloged from: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23 February | Shortbread


Meet the ShortbreadSocial Media Elf…Sort Of

/by ShortbreadStories Elf/

Hello Shortbreaders,

Welcome to the new look ShortbreadStories blog here at WordPress. As many of you will know already the ShortbreadStories website is in need of some TLC. At the moment the site design doesn’t allow us to have more than one and one article on the homepage. Although this worked with the older Shorbread model, it’s not particularly convenient for the increased content that we want to share with you without clogging up your inboxes. While Rachel works to get together the funding and technical support that Shortbread not only needs but deserves, this blog has been set up as a breakout area for all of the Shortbread stuff that doesn’t involve your Writing Desk or the Forums.

So, time for me to say hello. I’m the Shortbread Social Media Elf and I’ll be curating the blog here as well as keeping you updated on all things Shortbread on Facebook and Twitter. I’m a writer and editor who has been a member of Shortbread for 4 years. I run other blogs and am the Social Media Elf for a few other places too. Like everyone on the Shortbread team at the moment I’m a unpaid volunteer and, in order to keep my participation in the writing side of Shortbread neutral, I’m remaining anonymous. I share the Social Media duties with Rachel, so beware as you’ll usually be unable to tell which of us it is.

As for going forward with the blog, the plan is to share the regular blogs and articles from as well as new content from discussions that arise on Facebook and Twitter written by me. We’ll be editing the information on the blog over the next few weeks and cutting back on the massively unwieldy list of post categories over there on the right hand side, and replacing it with a simpler system.

As with anything Shortbread it’s our members that make the community what it is and so we’d love to hear what you think of the new look and the plans for the blog in the comments.

Looking forward to chatting with you.

Best wishes,

Elf x


Check out the ShortbreadSpecials

/by Rachel Marsh/

Special features on ShortbreadStories:

After a few glitches, we finally have the Valentine’s Day competition up for voting. You have until the 27th to read all the stories and cast your vote. Go to the competition by clicking here.

A few of our Shortbreaders have offered to financially help the site by donating profits from their ebooks to ShortbreadStories. Check it out here.

Read a great Shortbreader Interview between Chris Donaldson and Adam West.

We have a new Critical Collective; this time it’s Robert Kasch and he wants you to have a go at his story ‘No Big Deal‘.

Re-bloged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Check out the ShortbreadSpecials | Shortbread


iPad Mini vs Kindle

/by Rachel Marsh/

I was on my way to the airport for two weeks of lounging about with the partner and his extended family. The plan was to do nothing too arduous, and spend the time chatting, being silly, and reading. Then something horrible happened on the Piccadilly line between Acton Town and Heathrow. I realised I was supposed to be going to Terminal 3, but my train was going to Terminal 5. So I jumped off at the platform, and that’s when it happened. The door closed, catching my shoulder bag, and the train started to pull away dragging me and my shoulder bag with it. A wonderful man came to my rescue by prying the doors open before the train picked up any speed.

As soon as we were free, (and I had thanked the man who rescued me) I checked my Kindle, which was slipped into the front pocket of my handbag. It looked okay, until I switched it on. The liquide-type-magic-eInk inside had gone gwarbled – my screen was cracked. I needed a new Kindle, and fast. I had a holiday approaching, and I wouldn’t be able to cope without anything to read.

This is where my partner comes in – the Apple loving IT guy. Despite buying me the Kindle for my birthday, he’s never been a fan of them. ‘Why buy something so limited, when an iPad will do so much more?’ he’d say. I never could make him understand that I only wanted the Kindle for reading, and didn’t want all the bells and whistles of an iPad. Plus, the iPad was just too big.

Well, it must have been fate, because I have since learned that the Piccadilly line crushed my Kindle at the very same moment the iPad Mini was being released. The Universe was telling me something; it was saying ‘Buy an iPad’.

After much searching, we finally found a store that wasn’t sold out of the miniature tables, so I forked over my credit card and thought, ‘Will this gadget become as indispensable as everyone claims, or will I still long for my Kindle?’

I’ve only had iPad Mini for a short period of time, but I feel I can come to a verdict. Below are the pros and cons of the iPad Mini and the Kindle:*

*The vivid colours of an iPad means that you can enjoy picture books, magazines, and other ebooks not normally suited for Kindle.

*While you can download the Kindle app onto your iPad to access the books in your Kindle library, buying books on the Kindle app isn’t as simple. The actual Kindle has a simple ‘One Click’ option, but on an iPad, you have to exit the Kindle app, open a browser, and purchase the book as if you were on a computer. However, iBooks and Newstand make it easy to find and purchase books, magazines and newspapers.

*At the moment, the iPad Mini does not come with 3G (or 4G for that matter), so if you like to buy books on the go, you may be a bit stuck. However, you can store your book collection on your device, or through the Kindle cloud, so at least you can read when you’re not connected to wireless.

*You can’t make notes or highlight on the Kindle app, like you can on the Kindle. This is unfortunate for anyone who wants to use the iPad for scholarly purposes, when scribbling in the margins is a must. In fact, I thought the lack of note-taking capabilities would be particularly problematic as I had gotten into the habit of reading student’s work on the Kindle and making notes as I went along. However, as the iPad Mini can read Word Docs, I can simply make notes as I would on a computer.

*Distractions are one of the big problems with the iPad Mini. In fact, I was reading a book just a moment ago and the author used a phrase which I thought might be an allusion, so I clicked over and Googled it. I suppose these sorts of distractions also exist with traditional books and other eRaders, but I’m less likely to put down a book if it means I have to walk over to a computer. With an iPad, the distractions are right there at your finger tips.

*Then there are the physical differences. The iPad Mini, while a similar size to Kindle, is slightly heavier, which is noticeable when holding it up for long periods of time. Also there is the glare issue that is inevitable on a device without eInk. Although, I must say, there is something satisfying in turning the page with your finger (as the iPad simulates) as opposed to Kindle’s button pushing.

With all this said, I find myself reaching for the iPad more than I ever did for the Kindle. Unfortunately, this may not be because of the reading capabilities of the tablet, but because of all the bells and whistles I thought I’d never use. In fact, the iPad Mini is really no different than the regular iPad (excluding the size and lack of 3G), so while I do believe that the Kindle is a superior device for simulating reading a book, the iPad is so much more handy especially now that they’ve made it Kindle size.

*Note: I am focusing on the iPad Mini, because its size is very similar to a Kindle. In fact, when I bought my iPad Mini, the only cases on the market were the magnetic ones that don’t protect the back. However, my iPad Mini does fit snugly in a Kindle pouch. Also, I am not talking about the Kindle Fire (with its touch screen), simply because I have never used one of those. The Kindle I am familiar with is the eink version with the keyboard at the bottom.

NaNoWriMo 2012: Derek’s Second Blog Entry

/by Derek Elsby/

Well, my own little National Short Story Writing Month is coming along fairly nicely. What I mean by that is that I haven’t given up and broken down in tears. Or it least if I have broken down in tears (which I’m not saying I have!) then I certainly haven’t quit. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? Getting a story out of your head and down on paper can be a battle sometimes. Events don’t go the way you planned them, characters aren’t who you thought they were, sometimes the world itself – your world! – seems to be conspiring against you.  It’s easy to find yourself written into a corner with no satisfying way of getting things moving again. And even all of that assumes that you can actually beat the lazy and  start putting the words down the first place. Other than not starting, giving up can often be the easiest thing to do with an unfinished story.

One of my writing buddies recently asked if it was normal to hit the proverbial wall. She was finding it hard to get going, keep going and even figure out where to go. As one, we responded that this was normal and, what’s more, that it does indeed get better.

I’ve mentioned, superfluously I’m sure, that the unadulterated thrill of writing – good writing – is unique and almost unmatchable. Thinking back to my first NaNoWriMo, before I knew exactly what that was like, I can understand how a ‘new writer’ might dismiss such talk in the same way that the average person dismisses an adrenaline junkie talking about sky diving. Back then, I had distant memories of that writing thrill from the odd short story from way back in school and such, but those memories were long and distant. When I first hit the literary wall I gave up. I still have that story lying in my “unfinished works” folder. It is not alone. I’ve given up plenty of times. Sometimes it’s good to give up. After all, if something has stopped being exciting for you to write then, by all means, ditch it. Some things can’t be fixed and knowing when to give up and move on is an important skill. Giving up can sometimes be the answer.

I started on my second short story of the month last week and gave up after only 265 words. I didn’t know exactly how to get to where I wanted to and, frankly, I couldn’t be arsed digging through the situation I had created to find out.

Instead I started again, with the same characters from my first short story, and battered out just under 2000 words in two sittings. I’m loving it again. And that, for me at least, is what NaNo is all about: finding the joy in writing.

Without question, National Novel Writing Month is invaluable in introducing people to the hardships and problems of writing. Learning to overcome these problems is a valuable lesson to learn for anyone. It can also teach people the value and rewards of hard work. I referenced NaNoWriMo, and the lessons it taught me, in my university application and I’m certain it had an impact on my acceptance (I got my qualifications before some of the people in my course were born, so I’m fairly sure my written statement was more important for the selection process). Valuable lessons are, well, valuable, but why endure the hardships and struggle to overcome the obstacles of writing if the reward isn’t worth it?

Writing rocks! NaNoWriMo is an excellent excuse to ignore all the bad stuff that can come with it and get to the fun bits. The hard stuff will always be there. My advice? If you’re doing NaNo this year, and you find yourself stuck, try a few things before giving up. There are plenty of things to try – check for plenty of tricks and tips. But if the tricks don’t work, give up! And start again! The starting again is the important part. Insert a page break, add a new title and keep on battering the keyboard. Eventually, I promise, something good will fall out.


Tom at Peirene shares with us their latest competition for short story writers. 

 “The only way a writer can satisfy his own curiosity is to write it. And how different this already makes from telling it! Suspense, pleasure, curiosity, are all bound up in the making of the written story.” – Eudora Welty

Short fiction, when done well, can be more powerful than any other form of writing; consider Hemingway’s famous six-word short: ‘For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.’ — any more detail, and  the story would collapse. The short story owes as much to what it doesn’t say as to what it does. To celebrate the annual Nanowrimo competition, Peirene is offering a writing opportunity for those who don’t want to commit to the creation of a novel; the 2012 Peirene Short Fiction Contest, PeiShoStoMo.

The winner will have their story published on the Peirene website, and
feature in our annual newspaper, alongside Peirene’s illustrious list of
world-famous authors. They will also receive a subscription to the 2013 Peirene Press ‘Turning Point’ series. Two runners up will also have their stories published on the website and in the newspaper.
Entries can be submitted via Circalit  or Readwave from November 1st; the deadline for entries is midnight on November 30th. Winners will be announced in the January newsletter.

More details at
Or follow the competition on Twitter #PeiShoStoMo

Peirene Press specializes in publishing contemporary European novellas that are both succinct and beautifully written. See our full list of
titles here:

 “When I was a young boy, they called me a liar. Now that I’m all grown
up, they call me a writer.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer

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