BSSA 2017 Shortlist

Many congratulations to all the writers who made the shortlist for BSSA 2017. Read all about them on our shortlist bios post

2017 Bath Short Story Award Shortlist`
Story Title Author
Big Bones Harriet Springbett
Breaking the glass-blower’s heart Chloe Turner
Everything must go Sandra Marslund
Forget Me Not Sarah MacKey
Hollow Bridgitte Cummings
Hunger In The Air Judith Wilson
Into the Looking Glass Shannon Savvas
Laughing and Turning Away Patrick Holloway
Nico and Moliere Alexander Knights
North ridge Fiona Rintoul
Paid In Full Catherine Finch
Performance in the hills Mary Griese
Seen/Unseen Colin Walsh
Speak No Evil David Butler
This Is All Mostly True Kathy Stevens

BSSA 2017 Longlist

Thank you to all the writers in 45 countries who submitted this year’s stories : UK, USA, Australia, Ireland, Canada, India, New Zealand, France, Germany, South Africa, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Spain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Aruba, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Singapore, Sweden, Angola, Armenia, Austria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. We can truly call ourselves international as over a third of the entries came from outside the UK, once again ticking off all continents apart from Antarctica – next year, perhaps a research scientist based there will pick up a pen and enter?

What a year it’s been!  The political turmoil and unrest fanning out across the globe has provided a rich lode for writing and, although there were few stories explicitly on  Brexit  or Trump, for example, the underlying themes  have emerged in a number of the 1100 stories we received. Racism, discrimination, loss of identity and the displacement of people through war and poverty continue to resonate with writers, the best stories engaging the reader through powerful prose and possibly an unusual perspective. The same is true of stories about death, illness, dementia and growing old where finding a fresh angle can lift the subject.

Ultimately, the truth of the story is in the telling of it and writers explored a range of genres to do just that. Dystopia, magical realism, historical/science fiction and even the Western emerged from under a general umbrella of literary fiction. Although the majority of stories were either in the 1st or 3rd person, a number of writers moved to the 2nd person, which is notoriously difficult to handle but when done well can create a real connection with the reader. It was exciting to see experimentation with style, layout and contemporary forms of communication incorporated into the narrative. One story was entirely in text speak.

With such a range of styles, genres and subjects, it was not easy to whittle the entries down to a longlist of 52 (four stories have now been withdrawn so it’s now 48)  but these are the stories that we and our reading team loved the best.  These were the stories that moved us, made us smile, perhaps shocked or helped inform us about the way of the world. Congratulations to all who entered and especially to those who wrote the stories listed below.

 

2017 Bath Short Story Award Longlist
Story Title Author
A Bonnie Jumper Lesley Holmes
A Typical Day in Ketchikan Myranda Dapolito
Big Bones Harriet Springbett
Bionic Girl Mara Blazic
Biting Back Richard Newton
Blue Bethany Swale
Bo-Peep Kate Jefford
Breaking the glass-blower’s heart Chloe Turner
Coiled Paula K Read
d FEC Luke Melia
Dirty Confetti Rebecca F John
Dover, Japan Michael Milton
Elephants don’t live in the jungle Victoria Richards
Everything Must Go Sandra Marslund
Faith Ruth Frendo
For Your Sake Edwina Bowen
Forget Me Not Sarah Mackey
Hollow Bridgitte Cummings
Hummingbirds Sally Syson
Hunger In The Air Judith Wilson
Into the Looking Glass Shannon Savvas
Laughing and Turning Away Patrick Holloway
Little Comrade Joe Eurell
Nico and Moliere Alexander Knights
North Ridge Fiona Rintoul
November Oscar Janet Petrie
Paid In Full Catherine Finch
Pink Girls Kevin Chant
Performance in the Hills Mary Griese
Reservoir Road Neil Campbell
Seen/Unseen Colin Walsh
Speak No Evil David Butler
Spectator Ciaron Kelly
Still Jenny Firth Cozens
Sunday Morning at the Trampoline Park William Davidson
The Cake Millie Brierley
The Ending Julie A Stewart
The Fury And The Words Anneliese Schultz
The Girly Knicker Club Andrew Haysey
The Only Language She Didn’t Understand Robert Kibble
The Shadow Architect Mandy Huggins
The train and the tide Alun Evans
Then I Am Gone Emily Devane
This card has been left blank for your own message Claire MacRae
This Is All Mostly True Kathy Stevens
Ticket Office Clerk Application – Written Skills Test Martin Nathan
Waiting for the Queen to Return Edwina Bowen
Winter Break Megan Taylor

Mega author news

We’re thrilled to share great news from four authors who’ve been published in our anthologies in recent years:

Today, 30th May, A Ton of Malice‘ — The Half-Life of an Irish Punk in London, by Barry McKinley, is published by Old Street Publishing. Barry won second prize in BSSA 2016 with his wonderful story, ‘Almost Home’ . A review in The Times says of A Ton of Malice “This dazzling book is categorised as autofiction, which means autobiography with added fibs…”.

Tomorrow, 31st May,  Anne Corlett’s debut novel  The Space Between the Stars is launched in Toppings Bath.  Anne Corlett won the local BSSA prize in 2014 with The Language of Birds’ and  is also published in the  BSSA 2015 anthology  with The Witching Hour. “The Space Between the Stars deals with a woman travelling back to Earth to search for her lost love after a virus wipes out most of mankind.”

On July 11th, Rowena Macdonald’s novel ‘The Threat Level Remains Severe ‘ will be published by Aardvark Bureau. Rowena’s short story ‘Stars’ was published in  BSSA  2013 online anthology. Of The Threat Remains Severe’ writer Maureen Freely  says “Deliciously erotic and hugely readable, with some wonderful moments of illumination” Robert Edric writes,”Surely one of the most insightful, honest and resassuringly humane tales of the true workings of the Mother of Parliaments in all its shabby, slapdash and vainglorious reality”.

Eileen Merriman’s debut YA novel, Pieces of You,was published yesterday, 29th May in New Zealand by Penguin. Eileen’s publisher says “This is a brilliant, funny, heart-breaking love story about falling in love for the first time and dealing with the fall-out when things start to fall apart”…”Eileen is a really exciting new voice on the  YA landscape, we’ve already snapped up her second novel.” Eileen was commended in BSSA 2015 with her story ‘Hummingbird Heart’ and shortlisted in BSSA 2016 with her story ‘I Dare You.’ Read both stories in our anthologies for those years.

Congratulations to everyone. Four new wonderful books to add to our BSSA author shelves. We hope you will buy them too.

Jude, Jane Anna.

May 2017

 

 

Thank you for entering BSSA 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the International Bath Short Story Award this year. We closed 1st May, at the beginning of this week. You kept our administrator very busy on the last day!  Our stats showed that we had 2069 views on the website last Monday.  This year we had entries from 45 different countries.

We’ll reveal  the exact number of entries after the results are out in mid-late July. At the moment, the ten members of our initial reading team are busy enjoying your stories and selecting choices for the long list. It’s a very interesting process and everyone learns a lot from the stories submitted. The BSSA team selects the final long list and Senior Literary Agent from A M Heath, Euan Thorneycroft   will judge the short list and choose the winning and commended stories.

If you want to be first to get notifications of the long list, short list and winners, please subscribe to the  mailing list to receive emails on the side bar.

Good luck to all.

Jude, Jane,  Anna

The Last Minute Club

We’re ready for the big party at the BSSA 2017  Last Minute Club with entries pinging into the entry email inbox every few minutes.  We’re expecting this to continue until the stroke of midnight, Monday May 1st. Then the party will really be in full swing.

If you’re a procrastinator, read this interesting article  Being a  procrastinator myself,  I am rather taken with the idea that delaying until the last minute increases creativity.

So what happens after we receive your last minute entries?  Our band of experienced readers, who are all writers of different genders and ages,  read batches of stories as they come in. All  stories are read blind. Two readers read each one and decide  together whether to submit stories to the long list.

The final long list and the short list is agreed by the  BSSA team.  Literary Agent Euan Thorneycroft is our short list judge. He’ll select the winners. We expect the final results to be out by the end of July. Subscribe on this site  to receive email alerts and be the first to know who’s won.

Good luck!

Jude. April 29th.

Time is running out

We close at midnight Monday 1st  May. Give yourself the chance of hitting the bull’s eye and winning £1000 first prize, second prize of £200, third prize of £100, £50 prize for an unpublished writer or  £50 local prize by checking —

  • The rules — there are  always a number of writers who  submit stories way over the word limit of 2200 words. Or put their names on stories.  Don’t risk getting disqualified for those reasons.
  •  Give our readers a pleasant reading experience by writing in a clear font. Bold fonts are not easy.  Or any fancy italics or Comic Sans. Times New Roman is a safe bet.
  • If you are entering online, please be sure to  send your stories and paypal receipts to the correct email address which is on the entry page.
  • Put the correct postage on your hard copy stories.

Finally give your story a final once over for typos etc. We’re not too strict here, but a beautifully presented story, is a bonus. Zap a few adjectives and adverbs maybe,. Check the beginning paragraph. Does it hook the reader in? Check the final paragraph. Does it feel satisfying, not too cosy, not too obscure? What about the title? Does it add something to the story

Good luck!  Our readers are already on the case and results will be out in mid or late July.

Jude,

BSSA team April 28th.

 

 

 

 

Finding the right title

How do you create a good title? So much has been written about this. Good ones stay with you for ever. I love Raymond Carver’s famous short story title, which is also the title of one of his collections,  “What we talk about when we talk about love.” Gordon Lish, his editor, retitled it  “I Am Going to Sit Down.” but thankfully,  it  was never published in that version.

There’s a fun thing I saw recently somewhere online, which suggested writing  bad versions of famous titles of novels and short stories. For example, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ could be ‘The Fruits of Anger’. Worse, another Steinbeck novel. ‘Of Mice and Men’ could be translated into  ‘Of Rodents and Males.”What about ‘Offspring and Their Romantic Partners’? Or ‘Fondness in the Season of the Plague’. Silly, but useful to study the originals and see how they work. Is it the weight of the words, or what they encompass about the book. Is it the rhythm or the length of the title?

Some of the most used titles for short stories are ‘The Gift’, ‘Dust’, ‘Flight’.”Lost and Found’, ‘Memories’, ‘Skin.’ We have had several entries with these titles at Bath Short Story Award. One year we had two stories on the short list titled ‘Flight’. They were good stories, but different titles could have reflected something else in the piece and may have made them even stronger.

Maybe the words in the picture on this post  could inspire a short story. Or a title?

So before you send in your entry, check your title. Does it enhance your story? Could you extend or contract it? Is it a cliche or overused? Have fun making title revisions. And remember, we close in two weeks on 1st May.

BSSA team member, Jude, April 2017.

 

Dream up a short story

 

Bath Short Story Award 2017 ends on May 1st, but you’ve still time to write and enter your up to 2200 word story.

Unless you are able to practice lucid dreaming, you can’t control your dreams and they’re good story material as a result, often taking unusual angles on well-worn themes or offering you something wonderfully surreal. Steven King apparently dreamed the whole plot of ‘Misery’ – remember the plot about the author captured by a female psychopath?

In dreams, events unfold in ways you might not have imagined.  Interestingly, they often fall into three acts, like a fairy tale.

Have you remembered a dream  recently? If so, write it down and see if it has three scenes, a beginning middle and end. What is the crisis point in this dream? What is the resolution?  If  you can only remember a fragment of a dream, treat it like a prompt. Take a word, a dream character or an atmosphere from your dream memory and get writing.

Want to try out more ways of turning dreams into fiction after this year’s Bath Short Story Award is over on May 1st? Come to the first ever Festival entirely devoted to Flash Fiction in Bath on 24/25th June in Bath. Jude, one of our BSSA team members is the director of the festival.  She’s running an early morning Dream Breakfast on the Sunday morning of the festival. Coffee and croissants provided.  Here, you’ll be able to try out other ways of creating a short-short story from your dream or dream fragment.

All the major players in the Flash Fiction world ,UK will be at the festival running workshops to get you to try out different ways of approaching short short fiction. And we’ve just learned that  a distinguished International Guest – renowned short story, flash fiction writer and teacher, Pamela Painter from the USA is coming to teach and read. There are also, talks, a  book launch an evening of readings, a festival-long contest  and more. Do come! flashfictionfestival.com

 

 

 

Road trips

In most short story contests,  filter judges say they see a lot of stories on similar subjects – relationship break downs feature strongly in their many different forms. Affairs, death of a hated partner by nefarious means, abuse.  I don’t think we’ve seen many road -trip stories at Bath Short Story Award.  These feature strongly in films of course. Thelma and Louise is a famous example. You can’t fit too many road-trip events into a short story of 2200 words or less, but you could include a vehicle as a setting and see where that takes you. Colin Barrett, a short story writer our judge Euan Thorneycroft likes very much, writes a great description of the inside of a car at the beginning of  Calm With Horses, a wonderful story from his prize winning debut collection Young Skins (Vintage Books, 2014). This car doesn’t feature as a major player in the story, but it does show much about some of the characters.

“The car was orginally Dympna’s Uncle Hector’s, a battered cranberry Corolla Dympna labelled the shit box, its interior upholstered in tan vinyl that stank of motor oil, cigarette ash and dog. Recessed into the dash was a dead radio, its cassette tape slot jammed with calcified gobs of blue-tack, butt-ends and pre-euro-era Irish coins. The dash smelled of fused electricals. Above Arm’s head, a row of memorial cards, their laminate covers wilted by age and light, were tucked into a sun visor and a red-beaded rosary chain was tangled around the inverted T of the rear-view mirror.”

So why not write about a car of your acquaintance past or present. Create a fiction around it.  Remember its smells and its quirks. That car could take your story on a road trip you never expected.

Jude. March, 2017.

FEBRUARY 14th

 

List of those not buying cards and/or red roses on February 14th:

  • Richard the Second (not the one of car park fame) – too busy being murdered in Pontrefact Castle (1399)
  • Captain James Cook – also too busy being murdered, but by natives in Hawaii (1799)
  • Alexander Fleming – too busy publishing a mouldy old report (1929)
  • Al Capone – too busy arranging the massacre of members of a rival gang (also 1929)
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn – too busy being charged with treason, being expelled from Russia and revoking his citizenship (1974)
  • Husband Klaus – not too busy, but of the mindset that Valentine’s Day is part of a great Hallmark conspiracy to make him look bad

Those sending cards may well have included the eponymous saint. During his captivity in the 3rd Century A.D., Valentine is alleged to have fallen in love with a young girl to whom, on the night before his execution on February 14th, he sent a card signed, ‘ From your Valentine’. Or Latin words to that effect. Or not?

Legend, the mating habits of birds and Medieval notions of courtly love became so entwined by the 14th Century, that Chaucer in his ‘Parlement of Foules’ wrote

‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make’

( Translation: ‘ For this was on St Valentine’s Day when every bird comes there choose his mate.’)

and, in doing so, sowed the seeds for cellophane bouquets six hundred years later. The first ‘cards’, a love letter and a poem, were written in the 15th Century – one in English, one in French – and are kept in the British Library archives (though not on view). But they are there. Facts. History.

So whatever your associations with February 14th – whether the folklore, historical or contemporary elements most appeal – could you use them as the starting point for a story? And not necessarily about love. Up to 2,200 words by May 1st – get writing! .