Story Sunday

Just had a story accepted by Litro Online! I submitted it for their forthcoming ‘Britishness’ issue, and though it didn’t make it into the print edition, it’s still a fantastic result. Litro is a magazine that I’ve had my eye on for a long time in terms of trying to place stories, and it’s great to get an acceptance from them.

The story, Make Me British, was inspired by TV talent shows and the refugee crisis. It will be published – I think – sometime in March as part of the magazine’s ‘Story Sunday’ series.


Now I Am Become Ken Burns, the Destroyer of Worlds was knocked out of the Indie Writers’ Deathmatch in the semi-finals. The match was close, but in the end the eight-hour time difference with my opponent really told on my support – voting ended at 5am GMT but 9pm PST (Pacific Standard Time).

There’s now something of a deathmatch-shaped hole in my life, I have to admit. Much of the past two weeks has been spent voting or corralling other people to vote, with multiple pestering Facebook updates. I don’t know what to do with myself now.

My opponent is now in the final, fighting a losing battle against the favourite, who has seemed unstoppable right from the start. Despite being knocked out, finishing as a semi-finalist guarantees publication in the next issue of Broken Pencil plus a prize pack, so that’s something to look forward to. The whole thing was a strange experience, enjoyable but also very stressful. Thanks to the team at Broken Pencil for selecting my story and to all those people who voted for me – the support was incredible.

There was also some further consolation on Monday as I was invited to attend The London Magazine’s short story awards. This took place at the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons – a very impressive venue with beautiful views over the Thames. I wasn’t a winner but my story, The Black Hole of Westminster, was ‘highly commended’. All very encouraging and just the thing to cheer me up after the Deathmatch loss.

Deathmatch semi-finals

So I made it into the Deathmatch semi-finals. Voting is now underway here.

The story I’m up against, Ryan Power’s Jean-Claude Van Damsel in Distress, has a lot of support but has also appeared quite divisive on the message boards. I should therefore stand a chance, even if a small one, of making it into the final. In any case, being one of the four finalists guarantees publication for my story in a future issue and a cash prize – both of which will be highly appreciated.

If you can spare five minutes, please go vote for me!



Highly commendable

My short story, The Black Hole of Westminster, was one of five ‘highly commended’ stories in the 2015 London Magazine short story contest.

Had I sneaked into the top three,  I would have been attending a prize-giving at the House of Commons next week. Still, to be picked out by the judges for highly commended status is deeply gratifying. It should also make it easier to get this story into print somewhere.

You can read the announcement here

Fight to the Deathmatch!

My story, Now I am become Ken Burns, the Destroyer of Worlds, is currently locked in an intense battle in the quarter-finals of Broken Pencil’s Indie Writers’ Deathmatch, having slipped through the Lightning Round about a week ago.

For the uninitiated, the Deathmatch is an annual writing competition held by Canadian magazine Broken Pencil, in which sixteen (though in previous years, eight) stories are pitted against each other in a ‘no-holds barred contest’ in which the story with the most votes win. Voting is open to anyone, though in practice the competing authors must mobilise the support of their friends and family, and critical comments are encouraged on the associated message boards.

There’s already been one fatality. Or pretty much.

The eight stories with the most votes from the Lightning Round made it into the quarter-finals, where my story now sits in a match against Kris Bone’s mighty Incisor. If I can squeeze through into the semis, the story is guaranteed publication, so I’m hoping my vote holds up. I’m fully overdrawn on my goodwill account, but I keep writing the cheques anyway. So far so good. Some great stories have already exited, and I’d encourage you to read all the sixteen original entries – especially this one, which was my favourite.

If I win this round my next opponent will be a story about a female ninja Jean-Claude Van Damme. Picture that, if you will.

To get there, I need people to vote for me. So please, if you have a spare five minutes, create an account at Broken Pencil and vote for Ken Burns here.