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Crisps, AdHoc Fiction
Alison Wassell's excellent 'Just a Crisp' : winner of a recent round of AdHoc Fiction.

What is AdHoc Fiction?

For those who don't know, AdHoc fiction is a weekly competition in which writers enter a 150 word story that contains a specified key word. The stories are voted on by the public and the winner each week gets free entry into the Bath flash fiction award proper which has a top prize of £1,000.

I am always surprised at how effectively the public vote system is in choosing the best work, and the winners are always tiny gems of real literary quality. I entered five consecutive competitions myself last year without winning or deserving to either!

The skills that the winners of this competition never fail to impress me. And I cannot help but check the winners from time to time. This month I came across 'Just a Crisp' by Alison Wassell which you can read here.

Alison kindly agreed to tell me a bit about how her winning entry came about.

Alison Wassell -  The Interview:

How often do you enter stories on AdHoc fiction? 

I've only ever entered three times.

How did you approach the key word?

I just let it float around in my head, with all the other rubbish that's in there, for a day or so. The key word was 'crisp', and could have been a noun or an adjective. I had a few different ideas. Then when I was bored in work I read an article on The Guardian website written by someone whose sister suffered from anorexia, and that became my inspiration.

Did you outline your piece before you wrote it?

No. I'm not much of a planner, either in life on in writing.

How did you approach the writing / redrafting of 'Just a Crisp'?

I 'write' very short stories in my head when I'm walking to work at 7am in the mornings. The walk takes about 40 minutes, which is plenty of time for 150 words. I fiddle around with the words on my way home, or going round the supermarket. Which I suppose counts as redrafting.

Roughly how long did you spend writing 'Just a Crisp' ?

Probably less than two hours, in total.

Do you tell others when you have posted a story?

In the past I have posted on Twitter etc. that I've entered. To be honest I've always been a bit cynical about these competitions with a public vote. I thought they were probably won by people with lots of friends who were told which story to vote for. But I can honestly say that this time I told absolutely nobody.

Do you think about your story much during the week it's up on the AdHoc site for the public vote?

No. Mainly because I assume I have next to no chance of winning. I just send it out there and get on with the next thing.

Do you enjoy writing within to the 150 word limit?

Yes. My winning story was actually less than 130 words long. I was always criticised, at school, for not being 'more prolific' in my writing, and it always really annoyed me, because I say what I've got to say, and then I stop. Flash fictions suits me perfectly. The shorter the better.

What advice would you give to other writers having a go at the AdHoc fiction competition?

Just have a go and don't take it too seriously. Nothing is ever wasted. If you end up with something you're even slightly happy with, that's something to work with and build on, and it costs you nothing. That tiny germ of a story could become something much bigger. Or it could stay small and, with a bit of editing, end up published elsewhere.

Read More of Alison's work.

Alison's work is currently available in two anthologies (and I'm pretty sure that there are more anthologies in the pipeline). So, if you like the AdHoc piece you might like some of these other pieces too.

The most recent anthology I've appeared in is A Box Of Stars Beneath The Bed, the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2016. I have 2 pieces in that.

 

 

Also the anthology of women's writing My Baby Shot Me Down (Blinding Books 2014) has a selection of my work.

I've just bought them myself. And I can't wait to read them.







 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Lawyers
Monster mash-ups and movie deals - nice work.

Seth Grahame-Smith caused quite a stir in 2009 with his hit novels, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the follow-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, both of which sold well, and brought Zombie Mash-Up into the literary mainstream.

In 2010, with striking success and a breakthrough genre, Graheme-Smith signed a $4m deal with a $1m advance. In return the author agreed to produce two new works, with delivery of the second novel expected by 2013.

According to The Guardian, Hachette is not satisfied that the second novel, which was finally submitted in June 2016, meets the terms of its contract with Graheme-Smith. The publisher is unhappy, believing that the text is “in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work”.

The publisher is suing the author and his company Baby Gorilla for at least $500,000.

Documentation at The Passive Voice

 

 

PRINT STILL RULES... for now
 print, digital, reading, ebook
Print books still dominate but e-books close the gap.

The number of Americans who read books in print remains strongly ahead of those who read e-books, but the gap is narrowing year on year. The survey, conducted by The Pew Research Center, found that while only 6% of Americans are 'digital only' compared to the 38% who describe their reading habits as 'print only', the percentage of readers who have read a book digitally has increased to 28% from 17% in 2011.

Further good news for those who publish digitally is the increasing use of mobile phones and tablets to read, especially among the young. 22% of 18-29 have read a book using a mobile phone in the past year. The percentage of readers using mobiles to read books has more than doubled since 2011 while the percentage using tablet computers has more than tripled to 15%.

College graduates are nearly four times as likely to read ebooks compared with those who have not graduated high school. Perhaps this is indicative of the cost of the technology as a barrier to entry into the e-book market, and we might expect this gap to close as the the tech becomes more broadly used. Men and women are equally likely to read ebooks and audiobooks.

The findings are taken from a telephone survey of 1,520 American adults conducted between March 7 and April 4, 2016.

 

NEW FRONTIERS FOR ARTHUR C CLARKE.
Jeff Noon missed out; Becky Chambers on the shortlist

The Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction has changed its rules to allow self -published titles to be considered.

The competition's director, Tom Hunter, cites the changing publishing environment. He makes the point that under previous rules, works like Jeff Noon's Channel Skin have not been considered, and that the judges would not have been able to include Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet on this year's shortlist.

Hunter told The Book-Seller the search for the UK's best science fiction will be widened across new frontiers.

 

RICHARD AND JUDY LIST CHAMPIONS NEW WRITERS
New writers and old publishers: Richard and Judy

This autumn's Richard and Judy Book Club list features three debut novels. The debut texts are Fiona Barton’s 'The Widow' published by Corgi (Penguin Random House), Katarina Bivald’s 'The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend' Vintage, (Penguin Random House), and Sharon Guskin’s 'The Forgetting Time' published by Pan Macmillan.

It's great to see R & J championing new talent, and that publishers are actively promoting new talent. That said, with half of the books coming through Penguin Random House and no independent titles on the list, we perhaps have a right to be cautious in our optimism.

 

A FEW COMPETITIONS
 ghost story competition
Ghost story competition this month.

FLASH

Short Shorts Flash Fiction Contest

Prize: $250 plus publication

Deadline: 15th September

Entry fee: $10

Word count: 500

SHORT STORY

The Short Story competition 2016

Prize: 1st £300, 2nd £150, 3rd £50

Deadline: 15th September

Entry fee: £5

Word count: 5000

GENRE

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award

Prize: 1st $1000, 2nd $250, 3rd $100

Deadline: 30th September

Entry fee: $20

Word count: 10,000