Great Flash Fiction Festival Throwdown February 26th

Friends!

For a number of (good) reasons, I will not be teaching any online workshops until the late summer/early fall (more on that soon). So I wanted to make doubly sure you knew about this wonderful opportunity to work with not only me but an entire program of flash fiction greatness THIS SATURDAY via Zoom.

I will be ending out the program and teaching one of my favorite types of writing: The Strange, the Surreal, and the Absurd

Details and links to register are below. Note that all the times are London/UK time!~

more soon! xo Nancy


Online programme February 26

On the programme below, all the information to let you know what’s happening each month – 11.00 am – 6.30 pm GMT

You can book here.£30 for the whole day

  • A ‘Throw Down’ writing challenge set and judged by different judges.
  • one or one and a half hour workshops on different aspects of flash fiction;
  • at least two half hour mini workshops or talks on different aspects of flash fiction;
  • three fifteen minute readers’ slots;
  • yoga stretches for writers;
  • small break out groups to chat to writer friends from around the world.

Read more about the workshops on these two days here.

Note: If you can’t attend the whole day, events are recorded and videos are sent to participants after the day is completed.

Session and Workshop Descriptions

Nancy Stohlman

The Strange and Surreal: Opening the Back Door into Our Big Truths with Nancy Stohlman, February 26th 5.00 pm – 6.30 pm

While realism in fiction has its place, some truths can be clumsy when faced head on. When you cannot take the front door into your material because it’s too raw, painful, blunt or overdone—then you must find the back door, a less obvious way into the story where The Big Truth can be revealed. The strange and surreal can create faster pathways to emotional resonance by keeping the audience off guard, unprepared, and more receptive. Come prepared to get weird!

Nancy Stohlman has been writing, publishing, and teaching flash fiction for more than a decade, and her latest book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2020) is her treatise on the form. Her other books include The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories, The Monster Opera, and Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities, a finalist for a 2019 Colorado Book Award. Her work has been anthologized widely, appearing in the W.W. Norton New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, Macmillan’s The Practice of Fiction, and The Best Small Fictions 2019, as well as adapted for the stage. She teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder and around the world.

Hermit Crab Hangouts, February and March half hours

‘Hermit crab’stories take different forms of writing, anything from recipes to flat pack instructions, to parking tickets to wild-life guide books, Q & A’s. It’s endless.She will introduce a different hermit-crab form each month with examples and get you to try out hermit-crab flash during the session.

Jude Higgins

Jude Higgins devised and programmed this and the previous online Flash Festival six month seroes as Director of Flash Fiction Festivals UK. She founded Bath Flash Fiction Award in 2015 and is Director of Ad Hoc Fiction, the short short fiction press. She runs a popular weekly online class to write and get feedback on flash fiction and this summer ran her first series of Hermitcrab Hangouts online. She has stories published or forthcoming in the New Flash Fiction Review, Flash Frontier, FlashBack Fiction, The Blue Fifth Review, The Nottingham Review, Pidgeon Holes, Storgy, Inktears,The MoonPark Review, Fictive Dream, the Fish Prize Anthology, National Flash Fiction Day anthologies and Flash: The International Short Short Story Magazine among other places. She has won or been placed in many flash fiction contests and was shortlisted in the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize in 2017 and 2018. Her debut flash fiction pamphlet The Chemist’s House was published by V.Press in 2017. She has been nominated for Best Small Fictions 2020 and for Pushcart Prizes and will be included in Best Microfictions 2022 has had stories included in BIFFY50 in 2019 and 2020.

Susmita Bhattacharya

Hour long Workshop For Young People wih Susmita Bhattacharya

A workshops happening in parallel with the events for adults with a special prize.

Susmita Bhattacharya is an Indian-born British writer. Her novel, The Normal State of Mind, was published in 2015 by Parthian (UK) and Bee Books (India) in 2016 and was long listed for the Words to Screen Prize, Mumbai Association of Moving Images (MAMI) Film Festival in 2018. Her collection of short stories, Table Manners, was published by Dahlia Publishing in 2018 and won The Dorset Award in 2019.She teaches contemporary fiction at Winchester University and also facilitates the Mayflower Young Writers workshops, a SO:Write project based in Southampton. She lives in Winchester.


Farhana Shaikh

Small Good Things. The joy of small press publishing: half an hour talk with Farhana Shaikh on February 26th.

In this 30 half-hour talk, founder of Dahlia Books, Farhana Shaikh will discuss independent publishing, building writing communities and what she’s learnt about her own writing from her publishing adventures.

Farhana Shaikh is a writer and publisher born in Leicester. She is the founding editor of The Asian Writer. In 2010 she established Dahlia Publishing to publish regional and diverse writing and the Leicester Writes Festival to celebrate local writing talent.
She was part of Curve Theatre’s Cultural Leadership Programme 17/18. In 2017 she won the Penguin/Travelex Next Great Travel Writer competition and has since been longlisted for the Thresholds International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition and Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. Her short play Risk was developed through the Kali Discovery programme. She is the author of From Imposter to Impact: Arts Leadership in the 21st Century.

Meg Pokrass

Writing Collaborative Fiction a half hour talk with Meg Pokrass and Jeff Friedmann, February 26th

Have you ever thought about writing stories with another writer? Meg and Jeff have a collection coming out with Pelekensis Press in March 2022 and will tell you about the process of writing together.
Meg Pokrass, is the author of seven flash fiction collections, two novellas-in-flash, and an award-winning book of prose poetry. A recipient of San Francisco’s Blue Light Book Award, her work has been internationally anthologized in two recent Norton Anthologies, Best Small Fictions 2018, 2019, Wigleaf Top 50 (multiple times) and has been published in over 500 literary magazines including Electric Literature, Craft, Tin House, Passages North, Wigleaf and McSweeney’s. Meg serves as Flash Challenge Judge for Mslexia, Co-Editor of Best Microfiction, 2020, Co-Founder Flash Fiction Collective Reading Series (SF), & Founding/Managing Editor of New Flash Fiction Review and a festival curator for Flash Fiction Festivals, UK.


Jeff Friedmann’s eighth book, The Marksman, was published in November 2020 by Carnegie Mellon University Press. He has received numerous awards and prizes for his poetry, mini tales, and translations, including a National Endowment Literature Translation Fellowship in 2016 and two individual Artist Grants from New Hampshire Arts Council. Two of his micro stories were recently selected for the The Best Microfiction 2021. Meg Pokrass and he have co-written a collection of fabulist microfiction that will be published by Pelekinesis Press in March 2022.

Fifteen minutes of Yoga stretches for writers with writer and yoga teacher Sudha Balagopal. Both February and March.

Sudha Balagopal

Each of the five months, Sudha will introduce stretches to rejuvenate and refresh writers sitting in front of a computer screen on our long festival days. Something really useful to take and practice at home as well as writing prompts and ideas.

Sudha Balagopal’s fiction straddles continents and cultures, blending thoughts and ideas from the east and the west. She is the author of a novel, A Dawn, and two short story collections, There are Seven Notes and Missing and Other Stories.Her short fiction has been published in journals around the world, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions. Her novella in flash, Things I Can’t Tell Amma was highly commended in the 2021 Bath Flash Fiction Award and published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2021. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching yoga.

College, runs the yearly Culturama Workshops in the Arts month and lives in the Inland Empire.

One Sentence Stories with Matt Kendrick

Matt Kendrick

There are many flash fiction pieces written in the form of a single, looping sentence, rippling through their narrative without a solitary full stop. These one-sentence stories are often described as breathless. They can feel effortless, as if they have arrived on the page by magic; but there is often a clever architecture holding everything in place. In this mini workshop, we’ll look at some brilliant examples, considering the why, the where, the what and the how of this wonderful – but also wonderfully tricksy – narrative form.

Matt Kendrick is a writer, editor and creative writing teacher based in the East Midlands, UK. His short fiction has appeared in Bending Genres, Cheap Pop, Craft Literary, FlashBack Fiction, Fictive Dream, Lunate, Spelk, Splonk, Storgy, and elsewhere. He has been listed in various writing competitions including Bath, Flash 500, Reflex and Leicester Writes, and he won the Retreat West “Abandoned” flash fiction competition in June 2020. His stories have been featured in the Biffy 50 list for 2019-20 and Best Microfiction 2021. He has also been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize.

There are many flash fiction pieces written in the form of a single, looping sentence, rippling through their narrative without a solitary full stop. These one-sentence stories are often described as breathless. They can feel effortless, as if they have arrived on the page by magic; but there is often a clever architecture holding everything in place. In this mini workshop, we’ll look at some brilliant examples, considering the why, the where, the what and the how of this wonderful – but also wonderfully tricksy – narrative form.

Matt Kendrick is a writer, editor and creative writing teacher based in the East Midlands, UK. His short fiction has appeared in Bending Genres, Cheap Pop, Craft Literary, FlashBack Fiction, Fictive Dream, Lunate, Spelk, Splonk, Storgy, and elsewhere. He has been listed in various writing competitions including Bath, Flash 500, Reflex and Leicester Writes, and he won the Retreat West “Abandoned” flash fiction competition in June 2020. His stories have been featured in the Biffy 50 list for 2019-20 and Best Microfiction 2021. He has also been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize.

It’s official! Going Short audiobook coming March 15! (listen now)

We’ve got a release date! And don’t worry–the Ides of March don’t worry me at all! Hahahaha.

Thanks to everyone who planted this audiobook seed in my head: You were right! My reflections on the process coming soon….so much to say! xo

For now: Listen to some of the samples and get ready to hear me read to you for hours! You are the best.

xoxo Nancy

“Embracing Constraints” from Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction by Nancy Stohlman

Read by the author

“Grown Adult Living in the Basement” from Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction by Nancy Stohlman

Read by the author

Write What You Know? The Art is Always in the Heart

As you know, to be an artist is to transform life–all life–into art.

This concept has been on my mind a lot lately, especially while designing this year’s writing retreats: How are people feeling? What do we all need, collectively, to facilitate our best art? And during that inquiry I discovered something I’d never noticed before: Nesting inside the word Heart is the word Art.

he(art)


Yes! The art is always inside the heart…if it’s any good. When we lean into our strong emotions of love, joy, anger, hope, despair, passion and rage, we tap into that which is universal. It’s counterintuitive, but the more intimate we become with our own emotional experience of the world, the more it resonates “out there”. We cannot write for them–it doesn’t work.

Recently I was able to see the Interactive Van Gogh exhibit that’s been touring the U.S. I’ve been a big fan for a long time, but seeing Van Gogh’s work again in a new format, I was reminded of an artistic paradox: how often beauty blooms in the midst of pain. These works of art that continue to move us 150 years later were painted by a man in anguish—lonely, full of doubts, and suffering from mental illness (and possibly wormwood poisoning).

After the last two years, most of us are also dealing with a lot of emotion: pain, yes, but also grief, shock, wonder, panic, joy, despair. As artists, we know we get to feel all that juicy stuff. But sometimes we find the words are caught in our throats, hands stuck halfway to the page. 

Our best art always emerges when we lean into, not away from, that fire.

I’m not talking about purely therapeutic writing—which is also important. I’m talking about the art that happens beyond trauma—beyond shock, grief, pain, wonder, panic and joy. I’m talking about using the fire from our emotions—all our emotions—to create artifacts that vibrate for centuries.

Write what you know” is a platitude largely overused and misunderstood. But this is what it means to me: Begin in truth. Start with your own heart. Let the art bloom from within our own emotional experience of the world, our nuanced experiences of love and sadness, rage and passion, hope and despair. You can invent plot, character, setting, entire worlds. But you must write from your heart to create art that matters. 

Using our strong emotions to fuel our art can be extremely inspiring. Van Gogh created his last 70 paintings during the last 70 days of his too-short life. Frida Kahlo transformed physical pain into artifacts of incredible beauty. Beethoven wrote his masterpiece, Ode to Joy, when he was deaf.

We are lucky to be artists who know what to do with strong feelings: We feel them. All of them. We allow them to permeate our stories, paintings, songs, and performances. Real, necessary art begins in that soft and squishy place. When we open our heart we allow the world to move through us like a prism, landing on the page and painting rainbows on all the walls.  

Wishing you beauty, always.
xoxoxoxoxo
Nancy

Art With Heart


 

Summer Flash Fiction Retreats: NEW DATES ADDED!

(Thanks to the wonderful response, we have secured a SECOND week in Grand Lake, Colorado!)

Are you longing for a creative spark?
An adventure to energize your spirit?
Camaraderie with your creative community?

You’ve emerged from the last year with a new sense of perspective, a desire to push yourself creatively, take risks, and realign yourself with your purpose on the planet: to tell the kind of stories that change the world.
BUT HOW?

Open Your Heart/Open Your Art
Summer Retreats 2022

with Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish

Spain, June 6-13 (1 left)

Colorado, August 9-14 (1 left)

NEW! Colorado, August 16-21

Whether you are craving adventure, rest, or artistic community, connection, and guidance, our creative souls need the gifts of a writing retreat more than ever. 

P.S. Even if it says “SOLD OUT” there will be some flux in these next days–so go ahead and apply with your rooming preferences and we will put you on the waiting list in the order received!

Happy writing and happy retreating! xoxo