ShortbreadStories: The Blog

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Archive for the category “Contests and Competitions”

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



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


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

Shortbreader of the Year 2011: Diane Dickson

/by Diane Dickson/

Round about this time last year the ShortbreadStories Team asked members to cast votes for their chosen “Shortbreader of the Year 2011”.  I thought it was a lovely idea and so put together my vote with a couple of supporting paragraphs and sent it in.  I then consigned the thing to the back of my mind, duty done, with a good luck wish for my chosen “candidate”. 

When the winner was announced in January of this year I simply could not believe what I was reading.  I had no prior notice and found out on the same day as everyone else that the wonderful people of ShortbreadStories had decided that I would be awarded the title.

Well, for the next couple of days I walked around with what must have been a really silly grin pasted on my face while trying to work out ways to tell my friends and family without seeming to brag, though in truth I did want to brag.  It felt so special to me and I was thrilled.

Well to be totally honest the honour itself would have been enough but then the fun really took off.  I think the experience was enhanced for me because we were out of the country at the time and so my son and daughter agreed to receive my prizes for me.  There were books, there was a beautiful shiny trophy and there was the biggest box of Walker’s Shortbread in the entire world.  Each time something arrived my son would send me a picture of the parcel with a note saying what shall I do and each time my impatience got the better of me and I said “Open it” and so he would send little emails of the proceedings. 

It was lovely because my grandsons got to be a real part of granny’s prize and in fact the whole family had fun.  Fiona and Rachel were wonderfully patient sending things to different addresses and responding to all my requests with great good humour.  I was able to choose a book from the Dundee University bookshop and my Son in Law was involved with that, helping me to pick something that he would be able to help me understand!! And that has been great, although to be honest I’m still struggling with a lot of it. 

The hamper of shortbread was put away untouched and kept in safety for me until we came back and then oh boy did we pig out.  The boys were allowed to choose one thing each (darn it Charlie picked the chocolate chip ones – but a bargain’s a bargain especially with your grandson). 

I have lovely mementos in the form of books, a treasured copy of Short Breaks, New Writing Dundee and a Celebration of Burns – For A’ That

One of my stories featured in the Friday spot, and anyone who has experienced that will know what a glow it gives you.

Since then every time Fiona has mentioned my name she has given me my full title and I thank you Fiona for that, I did notice.

All this was wonderful of course but I did feel that it carried with it a degree of responsibility on my part.  The members of the site had been so very kind and generous and I felt honour bound to respect that.  I have tried very hard to read as much as I possibly could over the last year, to comment as helpfully and in as friendly a way as possible, I have tried to take part in all the competitions, to read and respond to blog posts and forum discussions and just generally to be worthy of the title of Shortbreader of the Year.  I have continued to submit my scribblings and actually it has been my pleasure, all of it, I love the site and the people who visit and so I have enjoyed it immensely.

I have a link on my blog and have mentioned ShortbreadStories whenever it has been appropriate and I know that there are people who are now members due to that.  I have self-published a couple of novellas and have mentioned this wonderful site in those and have visited the site every day that it has been possible for me to so.  I hope that I have repaid the kindness of the people who were instrumental in my winning the award for 2011 and I really wish whoever is chosen as Shortbreader of the Year 2012 as much joy from it as I have had. 

Winners of the Frightening Fairy Tales and Nursery Ryhme Nightmares

The Winner of  Frightening Fairy Tales and Nursery Ryhme Nightmares is Mags Campbell with her very dark tale The Beauty Sleeps. Well done Mags!  

The Runner Up’s were:

Diane Dickson with the very frightening Time To Pay. Best not read this before bed – you’ve been warned! 

Bill Robertson with his amusing twist on Red Riding Hood in Once Upon a Crime. (Our Little Red was quite offended by the notions that she is infact a hooligan…)

James McEwan with a rather creepy version of Snow White

Thanks to everyone who entered and keep your eyes peeled for our new competition next week.  

Note: This article was originally posted on in early November.

And the ‘Self-Publish or Perish’ winner is…

I could drag this out. I could say, ‘Drum roll please’. I could wax philosophical about the decision making process and the extremely touch decisions that were debated by the judges. I could talk about self-publishing and new opportunities for writers. I could… Read more…

Self-Publish or Perish: The Finalists

The votes are in and we can now tell you the five shortlisted entries for our Self-Publish or Perish Competition. Read more…

First Lines: Formula 500

Click here for our First Lines: Formula 500 flash fiction competition.

Formula 500: Father’s Day

With Father’s Day just around the corner, this Formula 500 Competition, is dedicated to Fathers from all around the world.

4500 miles from Delhi

/by Adam West/

4500 miles from Delhi, India lies Bristol, England. Wikipedia informs the inquisitive must-know-it-all types, like me, that there are thirty-four other places on planet Earth named Bristol, twenty-eight of which are in the USA. It was Bristol, England where we set our sights on Friday 25th May 2012. Not Bristol Tennessee or even Bristol, Nevada — now according to official records, a ghost town. Population nil.

My wife and I are the insanely fortuitous recipients of an amazing first-out-of-the-virtual-hat prize which consisted of an access-all-events CrimeFest 2012 Pass, return rail fare, and two nights B & B, courtesy of the incredibly worthy Dundee based charity, Million For A Morgue (MFAM). We caught a dinnertime train from Sheffield, and disembarked at Bristol, Temple Meads late in the afternoon in good order, eager to get stuck into CrimeFest 2012 – the 5th international crime fiction convention for writers and buffs alike.

Headlining this year’s crime-fiction extravaganza were the authors Lee ‘Jack Reacher’ Child, PD James, Sue Grafton, Frederick ‘The Day of the Jackal’ Forsyth, Jeffery ‘The Mortician’ Deaver and the Swedish writing duo of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström. That is not to say that these were the only authors in attendance at the salubrious convention venue, ahem, ‘our hotel‘, the Four-Star, Bristol Royal Marriott. Be assured, there were scores, nay legions, of crime fiction writers at the event, many of whom we met in lifts; amongst them, author of the Charlie Fox novels, Zoë Sharp – my first true name-drop. I must now confess, I will not hesitate to continue to name-drop, every chance I get.

Starting with the first foray out of our room finds us swinging by Friday night’s Crime Writer’s Association (CWA) Dagger Shortlist Announcement Reception (those of us in the ‘know’, by the way, just call it ‘The Daggers’.) On our way down in the lift we metaphorically rub shoulders with our first author, the epitome of geniality, Peter Guttridge, former crime fiction critic for the Observer and author of the ‘Brighton Trilogy’.

Peter is toting a glass of red wine and smiling a lot. I like him. We share a joke. Something to do with his less than seamless passage from bar to reception. Or was it the other way around? Not sure. Moving on. At the reception we find another Peter, and another ‘Brighton Man’, Peter James, author of twenty-two novels and current Chair of the CWA, is our host for the night.

Once seated with a glass of complimentary booze, compliments of some benefactor or other whose name I have already forgotten, I notice that stood off to our left is novelist and former TV director, Claire Seeber. I try not to eavesdrop on Ms. Seeber when she congratulates one of the nominees, but I do note she looks a lot like that actress in that film with what’s-his-face who was the baddie in that movie. Juliet Stephenson! That’s it. She looks like Juliet Stephenson. You must remember the film? The one where the widow cries a lot and it’s all pretty sad and grim and oh WOW, look who just came and took a chair in front of us?

Okay, it’s not exactly a David Beckham moment, but to us Crime Festers who know our Michael Connelly(s) from our Dennis Lehane(s) it’s pretty flaming momentous. To be honest I do have to nudge my wife and whisper, ‘It’s Lee Child love.’

‘Oh right,’ she replies, rather nonplussed.

Do I sound a little star-struck?

I don’t do I? Not a bit of it. No. In fact, I’m overjoyed we’re right here in the thick of it, loving every minute, and drooling over Saturday morning’s star attraction, Peter Guttridge interviewing the above mentioned Lee Child (arguably CrimeFest’s hottest attraction of 2012).

I fall asleep that night thinking that despite its myriad corridors and many fold convention rooms, the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel feels like a small world.

Saturday morning, much like Friday, arrives hot and sunny (not that you would notice either weather feature with blackout curtains and air-con). We check Saturday’s schedule and decide to skip the first ‘panels’ of the day — Merchant One hosts ‘Idiosyncratic Protagonists: Creating Believable and Unique Characters’ and Merchant Five there’s ‘Début Authors – An Infusion of Fresh Blood’ – mostly because already missed most of them anyway.

Instead, we get freshened up and head directly for the Kings Room and the day’s ‘Main Event’, Child versus Guttridge. Guaranteed to be a sellout I reckon. And it is. So much so we find ourselves at the back of the packed arena. I would, in fact, not wanted to take a seat nearer the front. Nearer to Lee Child that is. A seat that a die-hard Lee Child fan would better utilise.

I am blissfully happy where we landed – at the back. And anyway, the mikes are excellent and my new best mate, Peter Guttridge, appears to be his ‘usual’ affable self, so all is well with the world especially as Lee Child lives up to his billing.

Two words he says at the outset: TOM CRUISE.

Cue big laughter. Enough said I reckon, but no, there is, it seems, an awful lot more to be said on the matter, and Lee does a great job of it in his thoroughly engaging manner. The whole Tom Cruise furor is sown up rather nicely in the end, when Mister Child promises his army of fans two things:

1) He, Lee Child that is, won’t hold a gun to their heads and say they must go and watch Mister Cruise, currently billed as the ‘biggest’ movie star on the planet, play Jack Reacher, presently the biggest ‘good guy’ in both fame and stature in crime fiction, in the upcoming film adaptation of Lee’s novel, One Shot (ETA – the film has been renamed Jack Reacher.)

You can’t say fairer than that now can you?

2) ‘And I guarantee…’ Lee’s drawl sounds as though it’s at more at home Stateside of the Atlantic, than in his native Birmingham, England; ‘Tom Cruise won’t break into their houses and steal their Jack Reacher collection.’

I like Lee even more than I did earlier, and, a little later in the day, soon after three o’clock to be precise, just as my football team, Sheffield United, kick off another ill-fated play-off final at Wembley I discover I like Mister Child more still.

I will explain shortly. First though, a quick peak at the rest of the morning’s schedule tells me that around twenty minutes after Lee Child is applauded off stage, Merchant Room Five will play host to the thorny issue of ‘Crime Fiction as Social Commentary or Entertainment?’, whilst Merchant Room One explores ‘The Nature of Evil: Where Does it Come From and Why Do We Write About It?’

What to do? Well, as enticing as the above seminars (and all the other CrimeFest events might seem), hot and breezy Bristol, England beckons.

‘Let’s change and go out,’ I say to my wife, gesturing in the direction the taxi which delivered us from the train station. ‘Down to Bristol Harbourside (the famous floating harbour),’ I add hopefully, ‘Maybe get back in time for PD James?’ I tag on, like the lame apology it is.

We make our way to the back to our room that overlooks Bristol Cathedral and the very leafy College Green in order the change clothes, but then stop when I see a wallet-like envelope laying on the richly carpeted floor just inside the door.

‘Oh dear’, I think, ‘looks like official Marriott Hotels stationery to me. Gulp. Am I about to discover that the evening staff miscalculated last night’s room service bill of thirty three pounds and forty-five pence and just to be safe added a naught to it and my Visa card has already slipped into final-phase, irretrievable meltdown?’

Take deep breath, remove A4 letter-headed and read: ‘Emily (MFAM) called…your meeting with Lee Child…15:00 in the lobby.’


It’s decided then. Harbourside for liquid lunch, double-gulp, then back in time for afternoon tea, with none other than awesome and ever-so slightly famous Forensic Anthropologist Professor Sue Black.

Sublime. OMGM. More deep breaths.

We went. It went well.

Lee Child is a very nice sort indeed. Intelligent. Rakishly good-looking. Eloquent of course. A man who genuinely seems to worry if his next book will be a complete turkey whilst secretly hoping it will be his best to date.

Someone who cares about his readers.

Professor Black is funny, charming, witty and warm; me and the Mrs. both got a hug off-of her when we parted company after spending around fifty congenial minutes together with her and Lee Child.

A literary hero and a true life heroine. A man who creates dangerous worlds for us to disappear into only to re-emerge from at will, clean and unscathed, and a woman who immerses herself in filthy worlds most of us, thankfully, will never be forced to suffer.

Professor Black (a truly proud and handsome Celt) helps keep the wolves from our door and I, for one, feel pretty thankful there are people like her, who, on our behalf, do all the horrible stuff we don’t want to face, ranging from victim identification in mass graves in Kosovo, to anatomical identification of criminals in the UK, often pedophiles. Basically, the stuff 99.9% of us could never do.

I wish her and the charity well and hope lots more people give to Million For A Morgue, so the morgue gets built and Sue Black can continue to do her job, and more, importantly perhaps, train others to do it.

To finish on a lighter note I wish Lee Child all the best, too. I really hope his fans give him a break over the Tom Cruise/Jack Reacher question. Maybe try and forget how big a man Jack Reacher is, and go see the film after all?

Sunday afternoon would see us return home. Saturday night, however — post MFAM reception where Professor Black’s skillfully delivered a Power Point presentation which wooed the audience — we’re still reeling from our private audience with Sue and Lee, and are in three minds as to what to do. In the end, we decide to say ‘no’ to a quiet night in watching the Eurovision Song Contest, and ‘no’ to more shoulder-rubbing with the star-studded turns at the CrimeFest Gala dinner. As it seems we are at last all glitz and glamoured out.

Option 3, well, 4500 Miles From Delhi in Bristol, England you will find an ingeniously named Indian restaurant. If you ever visit Bristol and are looking for a first-rate curry, I recommend 4500 Miles From Delhi.

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