Monthly Archives: December 2021

Eight short story prompts for the winter solstice

21st December. It’s the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and today there are  just under eight hours of daylight in London
Because most writers love a prompt to get them going here’s a list of prompts, one for each daylight hour. Maybe if you have some time today, see if you can write a rough draft inspired by one of them. Our 2022 Award ends on 11th April, so plenty of time to finish it.

photo by mikka luotio on Unsplash

  • Write a short story which begins at sunrise on the winter solstice and ends at sunset.
  • Write a happy and hopeful short story involving an incident on the shortest day.
  • Write a short story based around Stonehenge with nods to Thomas Hardy.
  • Write a short story involving an illicit solstice party.
  • Write a short story involving a solstice tradition in another country.
  • Write a story about the beginning and the end of a relationship in eight paragraphs with eight snatches of dialogue.
  • Write a wintry short story from the point of view of an eight year old child.
  • Write an historical short story with a title that includes a character’s name and the word ‘light’.
  • Write fast, don’t worry about whether it makes sense, this is just your first draft a chance for you to play.

    Happy Winter Solstice!

    BSSA 2021 Anthology Launch

    What’s not to like about Bath Short Story Award cup cakes?

    A few weeks ago, on December 3rd , we held a party with cakes, wine and guests from all over the world, crammed together in a writerly buzz ─ separate, yet connected, on two full Zoom screens. For the second year running our anthology launch was online but, although nothing beats the quirky conviviality of an evening at Mr B’s (officially one of the world’s best bookshops, according to The Guardian), with Covid still around it wasn’t an option.

    Jude welcomed our authors, guests and Norah Perkins, the 2021 judge. Norah, an agent at Curtis Brown, spoke about the quality of the stories on the shortlist and was full of praise for the authors. 2nd Prize winner Stephanie Carty kicked off the readings with a lively extract from Davey, Plastic Jesus and the Holy Spirit, followed by Seattle-based Kristen Loesch (3rd Prize) who read from Important Letters. Further readings were from Lynda Mason’s Highly Commended The Great Pretender, which also won The Acorn Award for an Unpublished Writer of Fiction, The Pheasant by Ruth Bateson which won the Local Prize (sponsored by Mr B’s) and Rosaleen Lynch’s Hail.

    The 2021 BSSA anthology is the 8th in the series (the first one was an e-book)

    After a fifteen minute ‘break out’ session, Jane introduced the next group of writers with their stories: Catherine Smith Jellyfish; Montreal writer Joshua Levy Pigeons; Samanthi Munasing Two Samosas and a packet of crisps; James Young  At Anderson’s Field;  Elizabeth Cooke L’Chaim  and finally Paul Bassett Davies Your car has broken down.

    The last groups of readings, introduced by Alison, continued with Karen Jones Breathing Patterns; Peter Burns Ghost of your words; Maria Clark Georgie 3; R J Lingard Dead End;   Rupert Tebb The Mountain range behind the clothes rack; Emily Devane On the beauty of sad endings and, on a final note, Kate. L. Jefford who won 1st Prize with In Bed with My Sister. 

    Following a raffle and the launch of the 2022 award, it was all over ─- but what an entertaining evening it was: engrossing readings, catching up with old writing friends and making new ones, as well as the chance to chat with the judge. We took quite a few photos which are posted here. We also took screenshots of the authors reading their stories but the quality was mixed so we probably won’t post those. That said, if you did read and would like to see your screenshot, please email us at bathshortstory(at)gmail (dot)com

    If you joined as a guest and now feel inspired to write a story for the 2022 award, all details are on our website 

    A big thank you to everyone who joined us at the launch.

    Jane, Jude and Alison


    BSSA 2022 Open Now

    The ninth Bath Short Story Award is open for entries now and will close on Monday, April 11th at midnight BST. We welcome stories of up to 2200 words on any subject or theme from anywhere in the world. Before entering, please check the rules for more details.
    This year, the competition is judged by novelist, short story writer, playwright and writing teacher, Paul McVeigh who has judged many short story awards. Read our interview with him to find out more about him and what he looks for in a short story.
    The longlist and shortlist for the 2022 Award is likely to be announced in July 2022 and the winners by August 2022.

    Prizes as follows:
    £1200, first prize
    £300, second prize
    £100, third prize
    £100, the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction.
    £50 in book vouchers for the local prize, donated by Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath.

    Entries: £9.00 each, online only.
    Word limit: 2200.

    We look forward to reading your stories.
    NB. We are not accepting simultaneous submissions this year.Thanks.

    If you would like to read the marvellous winning, commended and shortlisted stories from 2021, the 2021 BSSA Anthology is now available from our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction and from Amazon in paperback. Digital copies coming later.

    Interview with Paul McVeigh, BSSA 2022 Judge

    photo of Paul McVeigh by John Minihan

    What a pleasure and absolute thrill it is to welcome Paul McVeigh as our 2022 judge. Jude and I first met Paul at the London Short Story Festival which he co-founded and ran. For many years he has been a significant presence on the international literary scene, having made his mark as a playwright, blogger, teacher, interviewer, festival director and acclaimed author. His debut novel The Good Son captured the heartbreak of ‘The Troubles’ with dark humour and poignance, as seen through the eyes of young Mickey Donnelly. It was an instant hit. Widely reviewed and translated, it was nominated for many awards and won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. It was also chosen as Brighton’s City Reads 2016 and given out as part of World Book Night 2017. Paul’s short stories have been published in anthologies and literary magazines and broadcast on BBC Radio 3,4 and 5 and televised on Sky Arts.
    He has taught creative writing across the world from Malaysia to Mexico, throughout Europe and in numerous destinations in the UK, including Bath where he ran a highly successful workshop for us a few years ago. Not to be missed is his blog for writers which posts submission opportunities for journals and competition, gets 40,000 hits a month and has had over 2 million visitors. Paul judges international literary prizes and reviews for The Irish Times, where he has also interviewed authors such as George Saunders and Garth Greenwell. The best place to get to know Paul (unless you bump into him in Belfast where he lives now) is via his website You can also find him on Twitter @paul_mc_veigh Continue reading