17/10/2018 That’s a Wrap

Its eleven days since the final deadline for my MA course in creative writing at the OU and its finally started to hit home that that is very much that. Its so strange how you go from full on super-active, full-throttle writing and feeding back to absolutely nothing. My headspace feels like stark white noise fading to the echo that ricochets around an empty cave after the scream’s stopped sounding. I have so many short stories ripe for final polishing and sending out but don’t feel like engaging with them yet as I have some original flashes to write first. I’m going to enter the Story for Daniel Competition (see following link if you fancy entering too). Its such a heart-warming and poignant competition – the theme is hope – and that is such an important quality/emotion that we could all do with channelling at the moment in this crazy screwed-up modern world. https://gaynor69.wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel

As the MA and life and stuff-and-shit got in the way of me blogging about the wonderful Flash Festival that I attended this summer, thought I’d say a few words now. I had the best time ever meeting flash friends and heroes; attended exceptional workshops and met flash-zine ghoulmates in the form of Molotov Cocktail editors and comp winners. Below are some photos of me reading my winning Molotov flash up close and far away and the whole group of us Molotov’s outside the venue of the festival. It’s on again next year with a whole new host of people giving talks and leading workshops and I  wouldn’t miss it for the world. You can’t bflashfestivaltinymereadingook tickets yet but here’s the link for when they go on mJan-Kaneen-498x1024sale. If you’re interested in flash even one iota it is so worth every penny and this year they had some subsidised tickets too. https://www.flashfictionfestival.com/


Not blogged for a bit because life has been full on. Currently in the last two weeks of my EMA and am working like a dervish on the first 15k of my novella which will be my final piece of assessed work, or examiner marked assessment (EMA)

There is so much to write about since I last blogged, flashes published here and there, work done, finished and assessed at the OU, the Flash Fiction Festival which was so brilliant. I learned loads and met many flash friends and heroes (I’ll blog about that next time), but the main thing I want to write about today, before I dip back into writing solitude (writing for a whole week next week to get everything finished) is the passing of my lovely doggie companion Hogarth, or Hogie as we called him.

Losing him has been awful and traumatic. He went to the vets early August with the squits, stayed overnight to be assessed and tested then was referred to the vet hospital in Cambridge when they couldn’t work out what was up with him. He was in the hospital for nine sleeps before he died. They too couldn’t work out what was causing his problems and did a biopsy which indicated irritable bowel syndrome. Unfortunately during his stay at hospital he got pneumonia and other infections and passed away.

We buried him in the garden with flowers and a little ceremony and I’m going to plant a hosta to mark the spot when I’ve found one that seems appropriate. Hogie was a lovely, gentle, Eeyore of a companion who loved his creature comforts and did not like getting his paws wet. This blog is in memorium to him – a gentle soul who went before his time He was only eight. Here are some photos so there’ll  always be a ghost of him somewhere in cyberspace that I can come and visit when I miss him most. Bye Hogie you were a lovely, lovely lad.



20/7/2018 Flash Festival Here I come

Just read my last post. Football didn’t come home then. It went on holibobs to France which is just as well because the French did seem like they were a miles better team than us. I will always remember this world cup though, not just because of the mad hot weather and the fact that we finally won a penalty shoot out ( I was at the match at old Wembley in 96 which Southgate missed the penalty against Germany in the semi finals and the moment is etched on my memory) but because this world cup was the one at which Gareth Southgate did his absolute best to replace the toxic masculinity that has infected the FA ever since I can remember with something much, much better. I’d call that a result.flash

On a totally different subject that I can’t think of a clever literary link for, I’m currently very excited indeed as I’m packing my teeny suitcase to get ready for the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol. I’m writing this just before I put the laptop in. I’m so looking forward to three days meeting flash heroes and friends and of gorging myself on a feast of flash. There will be workshops, readings from some of my all time favourite flashers, time to write and create without feeling guilty or being disturbed mid flow. I haven’t written much flash this year due to stuff and shit and doing the MA. The only time I got anything flashy finished was doing the Kathy Fish Fast Flash course so I’m really looking forward to having time and space to create.  I’m also especially looking forward to: meeting Mary and Josh from Molotov Cocktail which is my all time fav flash mag; listening to writers reading their own work, and catching up with my MA buddy from last year the wonderful writer of poetry of flash, Ali McGrane. Right better unplug and be off. Flash heaven, here I come.


I’m doing a super short blog this time not because loads hasn’t happened but because it has and time is short. There have been family thises and that’s this month that have mahoosively interfered with writing and I’m sooo behind. I’ve got to do my three pieces of workshop feedback today as its the deadline tomorrow at 12am and, as England are playing in the World Cup Semis tonight and a bbq is planned, I must get everything done by tea-time.

Headlines writing wise are: my highly commended story at InkTears is up this month with a readers biog and details about how the story came about. Here’s the link http://www.inktears.com/stories-b/2018/4/4/107-a-walk-in-the-park

meandripeningAlso, my copy of Ripening arrived. Here’s me hiding behind a photo of it. This anthology is packed full of excellent Flashes from a plethora of wonderful writers. I’m looking forward to reading my own teeny tale at the open mic event at The Flash Festival which is now only one weekend away. I’ve also had flashes accepted at Ellipses, Rhythm and Bones and Reflex.

Right off to read these extracts and feedback on them.


Lying in bed in my hotel room in Edinburgh beavering away writing, submitting and editing. I’m here because yesterday I attended an OU event about publishing which was absolutely brilliant. All the speakers were informative, entertaining and relevant and best of all, I got to meet several of my peers who are doing the MA, which was wonderful.

Because I’ve been here, there and everywhere over the last couple of weeks with half-term traumas, house renovations and the like, I’m a bit behind with writing deadlines. That’s why I’m now in the Bath Flash Last Minute Club having submitted just now. Here’s the brilliant badge you get for submitting on the final day.


For my last ever Tutor Mark Assessed short story on my MA course, I got a distinction though my over-all mark was pulled down by getting a rubbish mark for my synopsis. I just couldn’t get into this exercise. Not one publisher I researched asks for synopses for short story collections, and when it came to writing one I couldn’t give my endings away. It felt sooo wrong to casually give away crafted endings that had taken weeks to create, so I didn’t and was marked down accordingly. However at the OU event yesterday, all the attendant authors and agents said they’re not that fussed with synopses even for novels. They’d rather have a great covering letter and three wonderful chapters, so I feel totally exonerated. Just glad to put it all behind me and crack on with my novella now. Got until October to get it done and polished.

Getting published wise, I had this in The Drabble


I’ve also been short-listed for the Tacchi-Morris Spoken Word competition. I’m going to Taunton next Friday to read my entry which will be judged on the night from a short list of  12. No pressure then! Also the proof copies of The National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2018, in which I have a wee flash, were sent a couple of weeks ago and the cover is now finished and the title decided on. Here’s a picture. Cannot wait to get it in my hands.Ripening




This shall be a quick post because as you can see I’ve had a delivery of @tiredpsych’s new novella-in-flash Three Sister’s of Stone and have a mostly free afternoon to start reading it.

College wise I’ve handed in Tutor Marked Assessment 4 which I struggled with. Not the short story, but the other bits – a synopsis of a shorts tory collection that will probs never get published, and a letter to a publisher introducing it. That will come in handy one day I’m sure, but the writing of it felt like pulling teeth.

But its gone now so that’s that. I haven’t submitted anything else other story-wise as I’ve been mostly trying to keep focussed on the pesky TMA. I did start a couple of sneaky short stories though and have had three goodish ideas for flash fictions. So in this week before I sink myself into my novella-in-progress, for TMA5, I will probably start writing those too.

Also, I’m also going to do more blogging. Following the excellent example of one of my fellow students, I’m going to, in the month of June, blog an A-z of literary mags and e-zines, posting almost every day. I’m doing this because it will be good research. Since I started tweeting a bit more, since the taught part of the MA finished, I’ve found out how little I know about this world and so intend to research it, blog about it and submit to the ones that look up my street. Right off to make myself a brew and settle into my comfy chair to read this absolute beauty.three sisters of stone


Just reread my last blog, which seems like yonkers ago writing wise. I’ve now finished the taught bit of my MA and am moving towards only writing. I’m just finishing the last short story tutor marked assessment (deadline next Thursday). Though the short story is written, there are two other parts to this exercise: a letter to an agent or publishers, and a synopsis of a work in progress. I’m still working on the synopsis which feels a bit like a superfluity as my WIP is a collection of short stories and all the publishers/agents I’ve found who take such submissions, want a letter and three of the said stories. Hey ho – the synopsis skill will come in useful one day I know it, its just a very hard skill indeed.

Short story wise I changed again. The blog-page story became much too long so I wrote a disturbing metafictional sci-fi about a future-world that’s maybe a version of our own, where sisters are set against sisters.

Getting published wise, I had a couple of rejections (very lovely rejections from places I’ll try again) and a flash accepted in this year’s National Flash Fiction Anthology (as yet unnamed). I’m very pleased with this, as it was my first attempt to get into it, and the story I wrote was one I did on the Kathy Fish flash course in January. It is the result of an exercise where we were tasked with writing something down all in one go – just letting it all pour out.

I was also astonished (and very gratified indeed) to have both my entries into the National Flash Day drabble comp, shortlisted. So delighted was I,shortlist I photographed the page with my name on it twice. Here it is which I’m posting for posterity. I didn’t win anything but being listed with this collection of wonderful writers is more than enough for me. I’m particularly pleased to be listed with my feedback buddy Gaynor Jones who is a wonderful writer of flash. I read the winning entries and the skill exhibited is both daunting and inspirational. This was my first attempt at drabble writing and I feel flushed full of enthusiasm to do more. So-much-so that I wrote, submitted and had one accepted at Drabbledark which will be an anthology in October. The link is at the bottom of the page. I’ve also been longlisted for the Retreat West rolling flash comp which will be short-listed next week. Which brings me to my other bit of news. I joined Retreat West as an author member.

Finishing the taught part of my MA felt a bit like the beginning of the end of something, so I though I’d try something new. If you sign up to be an author member of Retreat West, you get entry to comps for free, books and anthologies gratis (in print and electrically) access to a Facebook page full of other aspiring writers, and discounts off courses and retreats. This seemed a very good deal to me at £10 a month, so I’m giving it a go. I think that having (sort of) prepaid to enter comps, gives you an added incentive to make the deadline, and the book I’ve been sent so far, Nothing is as it Was, is brilliant. A wonderful anthology of climate-fiction stories the profits of which go to The Earth Day Network. Because I like weird and dark stuff, I particularly enjoyed Wiebo Grobler’s  disturbing and touching  portrayal of the last day on a burning earth, entitled Sun and FE Clark’s Warrior which you’ll just have to read for yourself. I can’t wait to get the next one which is Mandy Huggins’s Separated from the Sea. I’ve seen the cover and it is truly gorgeous. Better get back to writing that synopsis then. Here’s the link I was on about.






IBreaking Windows - Jan Kaneents been a bit weird finishing the last taught exercises on my MA in Creative Writing. Its been all about the future of fiction,  and doing synopses of works in progress including our Examiner Marker Components (EMAs) which are due in in October. Most of us are writing the first 15 000 words of novels or novella though we can do short story collections. I’ve spent all morning trying to condense the essence of my novella into three sentences. This and struggling with writing a 2000 word short story,  has made me think about this blog which I began for my own entertainment really, when I first started writing. I didn’t even make it visible to anyone else for the first year and a half, using it as a sort of digital diary to chart my experiences.

Now four years later, I feel like I’ve come a long way and maybe its time to develop it a bit more. My next college deadline is 17/5/2018 when I have to submit a 2000 word short story, and for the first time ever, my heart isn’t in it. I’ve been polishing the first 2500 words of my novella (which I must submit in June for tutorly feedback) and I’ve fallen right inside that. Dragging myself into something else has been really difficult. I’ve started three stories trying to fulfil the brief (including  a metafictional aspect or experimental writing) but the stories won’t behave themselves. The first, which I’ve finished and do like, is 1500 words. Any longer (and I’ve tried really hard to make it longer) and its pants; the second is going to be 5000 words. I will finish it next year because its one of my favourites that I’ve ever hatched, but there’s no way it’s ever going to be less that 5000 words – the first person voice wont let it. The third is written as a blog, and I can’t get into character for it, which is one of the things that’s brought me here. I reckon if I blog as my own blog voice, it might help me get inside the head of my fictional blog-voice. The problem is that my fictional blogging persona (though he’s just written 2,000 words) doesn’t know who he is yet, where he lives, what he’s trying to achieve, what he’s trying to hide, so his writing doesn’t feel authentic.

I’ve decided, therefore to blog here as myself, by way of putting my own voice away for a day or two, so  I can get into the headspace of my nasty protagonist and craft his voice and backstory a bit better.

I won the illustration at the start of this post in a flash comp. It illustrates a story I wrote for Zero Flash last summer. I’m posting it here because it captures a bit of the mood I want to evoke in the afore-mentioned story/blog that I’m struggling with, puts me in mind of the character I’m trying to create. Right feel a bit more in his headspace now. Better get cracking before the darkness deserts me. The pun was entirely deliberate.