New SF submissions open June 2016

Iain M Banks SF Use of Weapons
Iain M Banks SF Use of Weapons
Brain Mill Press present Ab Terra International SF.

Brain Mill Press are open for new SF manuscript submissions. These are be any novel length (40,000 words or more) story. This is organised by the Malaysian Chinese writer Yen Ooi. Closing date is 1st December 2016 (please check on application).

For full details see:

Brain Mill Press SF open submissions >

Top 10 Flash Fiction competitions 2016

10 Flash Fiction Competitions

Flash fiction can be about anything even bollards
Flash fiction can be about anything even bollards

Did you know National Flash-Fiction Day is 25th June 2016? Get writing!
I wrote my first Flash Fiction in my head while in the dentist’s chair, and wrote it up on my phone the next day. With the costs of dentists and phones, I suppose that is the expensive way to do it.

These are the competitions coming up in the Spring. I will do more later in the year. Some are for ‘chap-books’ which are not for chaps only, and the lengths vary from 100 to 500 words. So check out what suits for you.

There are lots, which is great news for writers. They even have cash prizes!

Chronological order

The Fiction Desk Ghost Story Competition 2016

Go to Fiction Desk Ghost Competition >

This is not quite flash fiction but 1000 words is pretty short.
1,000 to 7,000 words

Entry by 31st March, 2016.

Ghost concept is flexible, not gore etc.

Flash 500 (UK)

Go to Flash 500 >

500 words.
4 entries per year – 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December.
Winners notified by email within six weeks of closing dates.

This is ‘open-themed’ but winners last year were crime, crash disaster, child abuse – so Crime related.
This is not the usual ‘conflict’ (seen as too long-winded) but ‘after effects’ I suppose. I think 500 words is huge, why focus only on ‘magic moments’?

Newfoundland Prize (US)

Deadline: 15 April 2016 – EXTENDED, 15 March 2016

The Newfoundland Prose Prize for a chapbook-length (chapter-sized only) work of fiction or creative non-fiction.
Long story or essay, collection of short pieces to 60 pages maximum. 15 pages is lowest allowed.

Some aspect of the work must “inform or explore how place shapes identity, imagination, and understanding”.

Go to Newfoundland prize >

National Flash-Fiction Day Competition- 2016 Micro-Fiction Competition
Closing Date: 22nd April, 2016

Go to Flash Fiction Day competition >

This year’s theme: ‘Anything’.
To enter, get writing and submit your 100 word flash-fictions on any subject and send them to us using the links below.

Entrants may enter up to 3 flash fictions in each competition.

Writers Bureau Flash Fiction Competition
This is now accepting entries.
500 words.
Closing Date: 30th April 2016

Go to Writers Bureau >

Bridport (USA)

Enter by Tue 31st May 2016.

Go to Bridport flash fiction >

Bath Flash Fiction

Entry by June 12th 2016

The winner is announced shortly after the competition closes.

Go to Bath Flash Fiction >

It is not essential to write about sanitary ware.

For women, including trans, two-spirited, and genderqueer people.

Go to Room writing competition >

For fiction and creative non-fiction, one submission includes one short story or essay of up to 3,500 words.

The judges are Marilyn Dumont (poetry) and Doretta Lau (fiction).

2016 Fiction and Poetry Contests will open April 15, 2016.

Writers & Artists

Had a competition 2015, maybe they’ll do another in 2016. Interesting site.

Go to Writers & Artists competition results >


Fish Publishing

Ended March 2016. Results 1st April  2016

Just passed – check for next one. I entered a story for this, I mentioned it in my last blog. Pass, Fail, who knows… I’ll post in April 8)

Go to Fish Publishing >

Flash fiction – the root of all

Thrills of fast flash fiction
Thrills of fast flash fiction

A writer friend suggested I try flash fiction – very short stories, usually under one page. So around 300 words.
Next day I had to have a root canal on a molar, and to think about something else, I thought about a story. I had a rough idea – actually just a concept – and expanded this into a story. I had in mind 300 characters since I had been doing software descriptions for my new writing app Notes Story Board.

Anyway, once I had got it down to 300 characters – about 50 words – I remembered I was aiming for 300 words (at this point the tooth and one root was out).

Perhaps that is a good discipline – create a summary, a short elevator pitch, as recommended by books like Save The Cat (about script-writing, not cats).

So I expanded this story idea a day later in a café, writing using note software on my phone. Got the story down in around 200 words. Well, any more was just padding. I ended up with an interesting little piece, so I entered it into a competition.

It was great to start and finish a whole story so quickly, as I find long-form writing hard… too easy to lose the motivation and then forget the atmosphere, the germ of the idea in the first place, the feeling of a story that is not written or even known yet. (It seemed to be easier in the past when I would write a novel almost as an end in itself).

But that still leaves the basic question.

Is flash fiction just an internet fad? A short form for a low attention span.
So why bother with it?

The root of all

I have also got kind of stuck with a novel. This has been in the plotting and note-taking stage for years.

A few months ago I changed it (not much, only a few thousand words at the start) to an ‘epic poem’ to speed things up a bit – converting it to short broken up texts, with a ragged right margin, like a ‘proper poem’. This was quite an interesting process, but again was a delaying tactic, substituting craft for creativity.

Now my plan is to rewrite all the plot scenes as flash fiction – each small scene has a beginning, middle and twist, to quote R. L. Stine, as spoken by Jack Black in the film Goosebumps. This might not be suitable for most of the scenes but you get the general idea.

So try that – take a long boring text, and condense it down to a page. If nothing else, it can improve your style.

Moto Spotlight Player on Android

I’ve been following this interactive Player for a while – it allows a sort of 3D viewing experience of animated stories, using the phone as a camera into the scene.
News is a bit scarce now though so I’ll update current releases.

The idea is you follow the story characters and scenes by exploring a 3D world, around the phone or tablet – so you have to move it about, tilt, etc to get more clues or info. At least this was used in the first version.

Moto Spotlight Windy Day story - red hat to the fore
Moto Spotlight Windy Day story – red hat to the fore

October 2013, the Windy Day game debuted with a red hat icon on Moto X phones – prompting mild fury from some users who didn’t want unrequested ‘bloatware’ on their phones.

There is some news of a film release (ie, cinematic rather than animated) but that was 2 years ago.

Now, the main site for it now seems to be YouTube.

It says: Published on 21 Dec 2015
On mobile, must view in YouTube App. On desktop, in Chrome or FireFox.

Spotlight Special Delivery cartoon
Spotlight Special Delivery cartoon

So basically, now just content… yet more so-called funny cartoons. In a 3D – or panoramic – view. This looks like all those old VRML things, or the Adobe panoramic system beloved of websites circa 90s.

See this link for the only item now to be seen – ‘Special Delivery’.
Google website for Spotlight >

Non Linear Narrative

As an ex-art college lecturer, this reminded me of the sort of ideas that students think up in order to use the technology – rather than researching users interests. It is also the same old search or quest concept of looking for things. This only works (and boringly) in games. The stories tend to be committee driven, quirky, childish, harmless nonsense. The current cartoon even has that brassy retro cartoon music. People are supposed to spin the scene around, to see the characters and scenes.
No one asks why.

Spotlight content as originally conceived is the same old multiple path hypertext as seen since before the web. It has never worked or been remotely popular. Lecturers used to set non linear projects as punishment. When I started Story Software, I hoped that some people might use the extendable canvas as a non linear layout for fiction or comics – like a giant poster that can be navigated, zoomed into , etc, using the inf map feature for orientation.

Even I never got around to writing stories for it, and it was my idea 8)

This is why it has ended up as another YouTube cartoon release…

Spotlight Player on Play Store >

New Spotlight release called Help! (not the Beatles) >

Creative writing app and ebooks bundle

Online in January 2016

Notes Story Board v2.2 – this has a canvas for text and images, so you can work on ideas and longer documents. Previous versions are Story Lite and Story Turbo since 2010. See Features

These are password protected PDFs. They are also available as Kindle ebooks at £4.99, see Kindle Amazon section below.
• How To Write Fiction and Narrative (30 pages with Exercises)
• How to Write Scripts for Film and Movies (127 pages with Exercises)
• The Modern Muse – Poetry and Copywriting (extract, 30 pages with exercises)
• Guide to Genres (57 pages)
• Graphic Novels, Pictorial Narrative and Comics (16 pages)

CLIP ART to use in Notes Story Board
To go with the Graphic Novels ebook, we made a collection of comic and graphic related clip art, which is also included.
This has 200 files in many useful categories, see Features for more details. These are for use in Notes Story Board or any other program.

All this for whatever you want to pay, starting at £1.99