Short Short Story Slam – One Week to Go

We’re back. And we are as bloodthirsty as ever


After our uproariously successful first Short Short Story Slam at the Didsbury Arts Festival last year, we have bashed our heads together again and we’re putting on another one. Twelve brave competitors have stepped forward to take the challenge and this time we are offering a tasty cash prize to the victor.

It’s all going down in the upstairs of Gullivers on Oldham Street, starting promptly at 7:30 on Thursday April 22. Just £1 in and you get to see the finest local talent duking it out with their lashes of lexicon, their whips of words, while you, the bloodthirsty audience, decides who lives and who dies.

It is basically the Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook of literature slams. Does it get any better than that?

Our contestants for this fight are:

Ros Ballinger, Ailish Breen, Joe Daly, Joy France, Abi Hynes, Thomas Jennings, Mark Powell, Mark Mace Smith, Trisha Starbrook, Sarah Stuart, Simon Sylvester, Geriant Thomas

Check out the Short Short Story Slam website for more details.

See you at the brawl.



Short Short Story Slam: The Post-War Blog Post

We’ve counted the dead and erected the monument in the memory of the slaughtered brain cells. Yes, we are all quite, quite hungover, but we are also very happy indeed with last night’s battling. Eleven hardy souls took to the stage at The Albert Club in Didsbury and bravely bashed and boshed through our cruel, cruel tournament of words. Eleven became seven became three in a mathematically confusing tussle, and one won the crowd and emerged the victor.

So congratulations again to Trish Starbrook – a true star. Trish had never performed on an open mic stage before last night and she left seasoned pros and published writers in her wake. A stunning victory.


Massive thanks are due to Didsbury Arts Festival for having us again, and to all our contestants: Joy France, Nija Dalal, Joe Daly, Stephen McGeagh, Abi Hynes, Sian Rathore, Zach Roddis, Hugo Lewkowicz, Lee Moore, & Michael Conley. You were all superb, you really were.

We also announced the winners of the Didsbury Arts Festival #DAF140 One Forty Competition, held on Twitter during the week running up to the festival. We had a great laugh judging these story tweets. We were stunned by the range of storytelling skills on show – its no mean feat telling a complete story in such a short space so well done one and all. Our winners get lovely book tokens courtesy of Didsbury Arts Festival:

3rd: @ClareKirwan (Clare Kirwan): We buried the dog in the garden, disturbing dahlias, soiling the patio, muddying the hall carpet. It’s what he would’ve wanted.

2nd: @SwiftTwit (Ralph Swift): He couldn’t shake the feeling he’d forgotten something, as he stepped out of the Batmobile, the wind ruffling his hair.

1st: @Clenpen (Cathy Lennon): She saw the ring in her dessert and squealed. Her dad shook his hand. He blanched and the waitress he’d groped looked on, smirking.

Congratulations Clare, Ralph and Cathy!

We will be back soon with more literature shenanigans. But for now; at ease, soldiers.

And the winners are…


On Wednesday last we gathered our shortlist, our judges, and our favourite flash fiction writer David Gaffney, and tucked ourselves into the tightest little nook Chorlton had to offer. And despite uncomfortable levels of intimacy (or because of it perhaps), we had a simply gorgeous night of little length literature.

Have a look at our Facebook page for pictures.

And the winners? They were and still are as follows:

1st Place: Looking for an Astrolabe by Michael Conley

2nd Place: This Kitten I Knew by Simon Sylvester

3rd Place: Joint winners: The Clockman by Cathy Lennon & Pins and Needles by Guy Garrud

Congratulations to Michael, Simon, Cathy and Guy – stunning stories all round. Many thanks to everyone who came to the event and did a reading; all the shortlistees demonstrated just how strong our entries were this year.

Coming up next, we have a super special event planned for Didsbury Arts Festival. Watch this space….

The Shortlist 2013

Well hello. We’ve bished, we’ve boshed, we’ve bashed. We’ve taken the stories you sent us and picked apart every single individual letter to find our favourites and, inevitably, all five of us rocked up with different favourites. Seriously. Happens every year. So we bish, bash, boshed it all out and agreed on our tip-top eight. And here, ladyfowls and gentlecocks, are those 8 arranged alphabetically by story title:

Let the Librarian Hold the Book by Allie Rogers

Looking for an Astrolabe by Michael Conley

Nothing Left Behind by Dale Lately

Occasional by Clare Kirwan

Pins and Needles by Guy Garrud

The Clockman by Cathy Lennon

The Girl Who Lived on a Bus Stop by Sarah Butler

This Kitten I Knew by Simon Sylvester

Congratulations Allie, Michael, Dale, Clare, Guy, Cathy, Sarah & Simon! BUT – who has won? You don’t find out, not yet. We will announce the magnificent winner at our glittering Chorlton Arts Festival event on Wednesday May 22nd at The Nook and Cranny in Chorlton. Come along to hear readings of all 8 shortlisted stories, as well as fresh floundering fictions from the Flashtag fivesome.

And if you didn’t make our shortlist this year, don’t be disheartened. We had a stupendously high calibre of stories and a horrible time whittling down to this final octagon of fiction. We say this every year, but if any one of us was a solitary judge for this competition the shortlist would be very different indeed.

So congratulations once again to our shortlisted authors, see you all in Chorlton on the 22nd.

Au revoir


Chorlton Arts Festival 2013 – Flashtag competition 3

We are back for a third Chorlton Arts Festival, and a third short fiction competition. This year we have a theme – Past, Present, Future.

Can you join previous winners Socrates Adams and Clare Kirwan and become the third person to win the #Flashtag Writing Competition? Of course you can.

This year we have lowered the word limit to 400 words. We are like literary limbo instructors, making you work harder and harder. Maybe you will concentrate on the past, or set your story in the future, or maybe you will have a really clever idea for a story that incorporates past, present and future. As long as it is 400 words or less, and it blows our minds, we will be happy.

Take a stroll through our website. Don’t forget to have a close look at those rules. Pick up your pen and submit. Let’s go!

The 2012 Shortlist

A little insight into the judging process of our competition. Five writers, also bloggers, each with their own bag of opinions, emotions, and fragrances read 66 stories, twice, three times perhaps, and then argue fiercely with each other to whittle those 66 to a measly 8. This is equally the most exciting and the most straining time for the five of us; each of us right, all of us wrong, none of us willing to relent, all of us backing down to the others. And somewhere out of that maelstrom of maniacs comes a shortlist upon which we finally agree and 3 empty pizza boxes. And then we look upon the eight and we see that they are good. And we look upon the other 58 and realise that they are also good, so we turn away and look at the pizza boxes, realise they are also good and before you know it we are handing out prizes to pepperoni and eating reams and reams of flash fiction. After hours of this something snaps. A light turns on and we stop.

And then we regurgitate.

And so, ladies and gentleman, out of five conflicting opinions, in alphabetical order, comes the 2012 Chorlton Arts Festival #Flashtag Flash Fiction Competition shortlist;

Battery by Dan Carpenter

Betty by Kerry Slater

Bit Flood by Norman Hadley

Daguerreotype by James Smart

Know Your Onions by Sarah Schofield

Tarnished by Rachel Green

Two Swans by Clare Kirwan

Walls by Laura Maley

Our winners will be announced at our Chorlton Arts Festival live event which takes place on the 23rd May at The Beech Inn, Beech Road, Chorlton. There will be readings from the shortlistees, fun, games and readings from the five of us lot too. If we can make up with each other by then. You see what you’ve done you brilliant, brilliant writers?