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29.9.18 Short Story September: It’s nearly time…


Hello there,

Hasn’t the month been fun? I’ve written at least one story and got two decent first lines for ideas that are simmering away in the background. How about you?

Now that the end is near, Day 1 seems like a long time ago. We began with fresh enthusiasm, filled with hope and a story of returning home to lose something – virginity of all things. There was some regret in the middle, a desire to perhaps go and write some poetry (oh my rebellious heart) but during this past week, I’ve come good and returned to the form. I hope the month has introduced you to a wealth of new ideas, new writers, new stories and fantastic resources that you can bookmark and use going forward. I’ve had some anxious messages that the site will disappear into thin air now that the month is ending, but I’m pleased to say that’s not the case. If like me you haven’t quite gotten round to reading every story, and still need time to tame your words, then the good news is that the site will remain online for at least another year.

I’ve been thinking about what else we can do to keep up the momentum. Last week I suggested a short story showcase and I’ve been thinking about how this might work. While there are no rules, as a rough guide I would be keen to publish stories between 300 – 3000 words. There’ll be a rolling deadline of the first Friday of each month, (5th October for the first one), with the selected story published the following Friday. I’ll try and write back to the person selected by the Wednesday of that week. I’m keen to showcase new writing, so send me your best work and tell me a little bit about yourself and what inspired your story. I’ll choose one story each month, and publish it. I’ll also try and maintain our events calendar with regular submission deadlines so you know where else to be sending your work out and send out a newsletter on the second Saturday with the story of the month and the upcoming submission deadlines.

Since it’s our very last and final campaign newsletter, I’m going to do my very best to encourage you to enter our weekly prize draw. This week’s prize is so amazing I wish I could enter myself. It’s every copy of the Bristol Short Story Prize anthology EVER. That’s 10 years worth of award winning short stories. 10 books. Your bookshelf will love you forever more. Enter!

With my very best wishes,

Farhana

For story submissions email f.shaikh@dahliapublishing.co.uk by Friday 5th October, and use Short Story September in the subject heading.

Draw results:

Week 1: Amy Slack
Week 2: Ruth Frendo
Week 3: Emma Peregrine


22.09.18 Short Story September: We’re heading into our final week *weep*


Hello there,

As we head into our final week, I’m writing with all the angst that you’re likely feeling – of wishing I’d done more, and better. But the reality is, if you’ve read even a single story and had a go at writing one, you’ve triumphed.

And we’ve got one week left, let’s start putting our best feet forward, and really taking this challenge by the helm. We’ve got 8 days to revel in the short story form (and plenty more after that) for our website will be archived for at least a year.

I’m not going to keep you for long this week, because I’m keen to get back to the page and cobble together some words for this story (that I’m worried might not be going anywhere, but I’m going to write my way out of it) but I’m going to leave you with some advice. If you’ve taken away and anything from this campaign, let it be this: When it comes to the short story, there are no rules. We’ve introduced you to mundane worlds made extraordinary through the sheer brilliance of imagination, and then done the opposite. We’ve taken you to faraway places, and made you come home. Observation, details, quiet things that other people might miss, are often what makes these stories really work on another level. It’s what pulls us in. And I think that’s what it is that makes us want to explore this form further, with gusto and real commitment. What do you think?

A quick reminder to enter our weekly prize draw. This week’s prize is a selection of books of your choice from Dahlia Publishing. Don’t miss out!

And I still want to hear from you… Perhaps my attempt at profiling you didn’t quite work. I get it, but if you’d like to tell me how you’ve got on, what you enjoyed and what you didn’t, and perhaps even send me a story for our short story showcase email me at f.shaikh@dahliapublishing.co.uk. I’ll aim to post one short story a month. How does that sound?

With my very best wishes,

Farhana


15.09.18 Short Story September Week 3 + Competition news!


Hello there,

It’s day 15 and I hate to admit it, but I’m falling behind. Are you playing catch up, too?

Well let’s start with something new to wake us all up a bit.

Firstly, I think it’s no coincidence that as of yesterday I began listening to short stories, kicking off with the BBC Short Story podcast. With the BBC National Short Story Award shortlist announced last night, it was time to revisit some of these gems written by writers who really understand how to reel you in to their world and sustain your interest. Have a listen, and let me know how you get on. Here’s the link. The best thing is you can download them and house your very own library of short story treasures.

As we get in to Week 3, I think it’s time we heard more from you. Especially you in the back there, pretending like you don’t know what you’re doing but you’ve got some stories to tell. I know you have. And I trust that you’ve been using each day, following the prompts and working on something. Tell me more. Send me your profile, or use the #ShortStorySept this weekend to tell us all what you’re up to, what you write about and link to your own website. I promise to RT as many as I can, okay?

We’re also shaking up things in the prompts department. From now on, I’ll be posting visual prompts. Well, they do say that a picture tells a thousand words. So how about aiming for 1000 words for each visual prompt? That’s the challenge I’m setting myself and you’re more than welcome to join me.

Lastly, and somewhat fundamentally, I just want to say a few words about unsung heroes who helped to put this project together in various ways – offering their time and expertise and more importantly, introducing me to some kick-ass writers I wouldn’t have otherwise heard about. Firstly, Joe Melia, from the Bristol Short Story Prize, Cathy Galvin from The Word Factory and Rupert Dastur from The Short Story. If you don’t follow their work, correct that as of today.

And on that note, here’s to this week’s competition. To enter, all you need to do is fill out this form. If you did so last week, you don’t need to do it again. This week, we’re giving away a year’s membership of The Word Factory, a series of events and talks all on the short story. What more could you ask for? Just a note, you’ll only need to fill out once, and you’ll be entered in the weekly prize draw.

Next week, it’ll be our final week and I’ll be asking you to send me your stories. Let’s not lose momentum now. Let’s do something bigger, together. Send me your ideas and suggestions of what we should do next. I mean there’s nearly 300 of us. Should we take this offline? Email me at f.shaikh@dahliapublishing.co.uk and don’t forget to send me your profiles in the meantime.

With my very best wishes,

Farhana


08.09.18 Short Story September Week 2 + Giveaway news!


 

Well, hello there!

It’s day 8. Firstly, how are you coping? Are you still with me? We got off to a good start, didn’t we?

Thank you to everyone who has been contributing their efforts on Twitter, reading along and commenting on the stories and prompts. This is a team effort.

As we get in to Week 2, we’ve more than doubled in size, so now there’s just under 250 of us which is AMAZING. If you’ve been following each day, you should have been introduced to some very original, diverse, and imaginative works. We started with Leone Ross, and her story ‘Carousel’, and moved right through the week, from Tom Lee through to Clare Fisher’s prize-winning story, ‘Living it Edgeways’. Did you notice just how different they all were, in their approach and subject matter and style? That’s just the thing about the short story. There are no rules. Today, we feature Courttia Newland. Have a read of his story, ‘The Difference Between Me and You’ and see what you make of it.

And now on to your own writing: If you’ve been following the prompts you should have at least generated a handful of new ideas by now. Feel free to go off in your own path and see if just one of those takes you to a fully-formed piece. There are no rules here, so embrace the freedom.

As it’s Saturday, I thought we’d start with a shopping list for today’s writing prompt. But not any kind of shopping list. I’d like you all to make a shopping list as if money and time were not barriers. If you could buy anything what would it be. Aim for around ten items and weave the contents into a short story. Much like our treasure hunt prompt earlier in the week, this might push you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to the unexpected.

As most of you are new, I’ll just take a moment to remind you all, how this works. I’ll email everyone signed up to this newsletter at the start of the week on Saturday. You can expect my email to land in your inbox around 11. Every day, for the next thirty days, I’ll post a profile of a British short story writer. Each profile will feature a link to a short story, as well as a review of the writer’s work. There’s no obligation to read this stuff, but I thought it might be a way of introducing us to new and emerging writers and I always find that you learn more by reading. Along with this, I’ll post a prompt (some are themed, and others aren’t) and I’ll link to a useful resource for you to bookmark.

Alas, there’s also a weekly giveaway. I didn’t forget about it yesterday (honest!), but I thought I’d use this space here each week to announce it. To enter, all you need to do is fill out this form. Just a note, you’ll only need to fill out once, and you’ll be entered in the weekly prize draw which will be announced at the end of the campaign. I’ll put a new page up listing the prizes before lunch.

Lastly, thank you for helping me to get this campaign off to a great start. If you had fun with those six word stories, feel free to use the weekend to share yours on Twitter, by either tagging us @dahliabooks or using the hashtag #ShortStorySept. Oh, and just a heads up, we will be inviting you to share your profiles next week, and your completed short stories at the end of the project, so for those not on Twitter, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to contribute.

With my very best wishes,
Farhana


01.09.18 Short Story September launches today

 


And we’re off! Here’s to thirty days of focusing on the short story. Have you sharpened your pencils yet?

As it’s day one, I thought I’d run through how this is going to work. I’ll email everyone signed up at the start of the week on Saturday, just to get us all fired up. You can expect my email to land in your inbox around 11, just like it did today. I’ll review the week and maybe give us something to think about. There are just over 100 of us but I suspect that might grow as the days go by.

 

Every day, for the next thirty days, I’ll post a profile of a British short story writer. Each profile will feature a link to a short story, as well as a review of the writer’s work. There’s no obligation to read this stuff, but I thought it might be a way of introducing us to new and emerging writers and I always find that you learn more by reading. Along with this, I’ll post a prompt (some are themed, and others aren’t) and I’ll link to a useful resource for you to bookmark.

 

Initially I thought we might like to challenge ourselves to write a story a day, then I double-downed on those ambitions to a week, and now I’m thinking that it would be blooming marvellous if we all had something ready and polished by the end of the month. The prompts are there to kick-start the engine, but if you’re all ready working on an idea, feel free to ignore them.

 

So where should we start? Firstly it might be worth revisiting an old flame, the question that the bones of this very project hinges on: what makes a short story?

 

For me, the short story captures a moment, a snapshot. It’s something Joe Melia from the Bristol Short Story Prize and I pondered over in the latest episode of the Dear Writer podcast, which happens to be today’s resource. Have a listen. In the podcast I argue that the form is evasive because you can’t unpick elements, but you can recognise it only by reading. I’m not sure we ever reach a consensus on what a short story is. Since then, at the Leicester Writes Short Story Festival back in June, Alison Moore said something that was an ‘Aha’ moment for me. She was asked what it is that drives a short story. Her answer was that it’s an image, and I think that’s certainly something we should think about as we begin this month in the hope of writing our own short stories, and discover the work of writers who are often plugging away without much recognition.

 

On that note, I’d like to introduce you to Leone Ross, who writes exciting, imaginative stories. The piece she chose to share with us is called Carousel and is an example of a story which pulls us into its world. On the face of it it’s a about a young man who returns to his hometown to lose his virginity. I’ll let you read it and come to your own conclusions about why it’s particularly successful. And then I thought we’d use that idea, of someone having to return home for our first writing prompt.

 

And then an extra challenge for those of you who are ahead of the game. Let’s get a short story under our belt today. Let’s start with a six word story. The following is sometimes attributed to Hemingway, ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’ Just six words. Some may argue it’s micro-fiction, or flash-fiction, but let’s not dwell on all that for it’s only day one and I don’t intend to fall out with anyone (just yet).

 

So let’s start there. See if you can write your own six word story. Feel free to share yours on Twitter, by either tagging us @dahliabooks or using the hashtag #ShortStorySept and I’ll see you all tomorrow.

 

With my very best wishes,
Farhana