Monthly Archives: January 2023

Use Your Fifth Idea

It’s well known that in short story competitions and in writing submissions generally, there are many common themes. The three ‘D’s for example. Death, Divorce and Dementia. Or variations on these. Many great stories are, of course, written on these subjects and frequently find their way into our short lists. But the ones that do have a fresh and interesting angle. Continue reading

Setting Intentions

January is often full of good intentions. I like to write lists, some people use spreadsheets, others dream. There’s no wrong way to nurture your ambitions.

This month I’m deep in marathon training for Brighton on 2nd April. Madness, I know (I blame my daughter ). My brain is not impressed – I’m 59, got a sore knee, it hasn’t stopped raining for weeks, now it’s sub-zero and who in their right mind wants to get up before dawn or spend all Sunday running for hours? But one thing I’ve discovered (and plenty of writers can also testify to this, including Haruiki Murakami, author of What I Talk about when I Talk about Running) is that long distance running and writing are linked. This applies to all writing, not just the mammoth undertaking of a novel, because short stories require rewriting, editing, rereading, refining. We spend literally hours and hours on them. I have a training plan (supplied by my daughter, along with gold stars) and I’m doing it without question, partly because I love awarding myself that sticker at the end of a session. I am a sucker for the carrot! Why don’t I do the same, even figuratively speaking, when I write? Do you? I’m not sure writers in general are very good at recognising quite how much effort they put in. Continue reading

Buy our 2022 Anthology!

Our 2022 anthology has been a little delayed in reaching publication, but you can buy it now in paperback from Amazon worldwide and from our publisher’s book shop. On the Ad Hoc Fiction book shop page, linked here, there are further links to Amazon in different countries. If you are an international reader, it is best to buy from Amazon as the international mail service is currently disrupted in the UK. Continue reading

January: a two-headed beast of a month

January is a strange beast, loved and loathed. Loathed for its short days, often dark and drizzly with a chill that penetrates the bones, it seems to drag on for ever ─ when will payday ever come? But it also represents hope and fresh challenges. Named after Janus, the Roman god of doorways, of entrances and exits, whose two faces looked to the future and the past, it came to symbolise beginnings, as well as endings. A month to plan for the year ahead, time to take stock and move on? Or reflect on the past, embrace the unsettling atmosphere of the first month of the year and snuggle up with literature to complement the mood. Continue reading

Interview with 2023 Judge Farhana Shaikh

Farhana Shaikh is a writer and publisher born in Leicester. She is the founding editor of The Asian Writer, an online magazine championing Asian literature. In 2010 she established Dahlia Publishing to publish regional and diverse writing talent. She has facilitated creative writing workshops and judged competitions in the UK and India. In 2010, Farhana received an Arts bursary from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Farhana now regularly reviews productions for The Reviews Hub. She writes feature articles, poetry, short stories and scripts. Farhana lives in Leicester with her husband and their two children. She can be found on Twitter @farhanashaikh talking about books and publishing.


Hello Farhana. We’re delighted you’ve agreed to judge this year’s competition and thank you for answering the following questions. We’re sure everyone will be fascinated to read your responses. Continue reading