Thursday, 7 December 2017

HYSTERIA 6 ANTHOLOGY

 

I’m really pleased to announce I was one of the shortlisted winners of the Hysteria Writing Competition 2017.

Linda Parkinson-Hardman: 'Each of these fantastic entries will be published in Hysteria 6, the anthology of this year’s competition - out now.  FROM AMAZON HERE
The overall category winners will be announced at the end of November, alongside the launch of this year’s anthology.
Our judges had a hard time picking out the best of the best in their category, but eventually they got there; and listed in alphabetical order are:

Flash fiction top 10 shortlisted winners:-

  • Kay Rae Chomic with Train ride
  • Frances Gapper with Survival tactics
  • Rachel Hughes with 4lbs 11oz
  • Stephanie Hutton with You don’t have to talk about your daddy in counselling if you don’t want to
  • Gaynor Jones with The truth behind the labels
  • Fiona J Mackintosh with A still, small point of reference
  • Louise Mangos with Matchmaker
  • Jayne Martin with 4Ever
  • Sal Page with Heads off
  • Amanda Speed with The beach

Short story top 10 shortlisted winners:-

  • Susmita Bhattacharya with The right thing to do
  • Lindsay Bamfield with Still life
  • Lucy Corkhill with Predator
  • Maggie Davies with Twenty six little bones
  • Jenny Gaitskell with X on a corner square
  • Mandy Huggins with The Rychenkov ruby
  • Sherry Morris with Perfectly prime
  • Helen de Burca with Silken threads
  • Olivia Tuck with He gave me the milky way (deep fried)
  • Marcia Woolf with The jar of ideas

Poetry category top shortlisted winners 10:-

  • Nadia Arbach with My Mother’s spoon
  • Zara Bosman with The two Frida’s
  • Marie Chambers with True story
  • Robyn Curtis with A Woman of the road
  • Moira Garland with Son
  • Victoria Richards with Caught
  • Christine Griffin with Tape measure
  • Laura Potts with Jane Doe #503
  • Gwen Sayers with Fruit salad
  • Marie Dolores with While I sleep

Thursday, 9 November 2017

I Must Be off - Readers' Choice Award 2017

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LbjNnmw2dWw/WgScIa5Vn2I/AAAAAAAAGYU/O3sLqkIzOXQ9VXiF-ooDE2Q14kdpmeneQCLcBGAs/s1600/Readers%2BChoice.png 

Utterly delighted to have won the Readers' Choice Award for my travel piece, Straight in the Eye. How lovely! 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

LAUNCH PARTY - InkTears SHOWCASE ANTHOLOGIES


InkTears Double Anthology Launch

Date: 16 December 2017, time: 4:30pm, venue: The Sun Pub, 21 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5RH


Wine and nibbles to be served.

Contact name: Sara-Mae Tuson, Editorial Director, saramae@inktears.com, 07862722140,
 Facebook: http://alturl.com/mhbas Twitter: www.twitter.com/inktears.

DEATH OF A SUPERHERO 



Unique, moving, funny, and cunningly crafted. Several stories in this collection won prizes at InkTears - and they have stayed with me, like all the best tales.
AM Howcroft

A woman feels adrift in a foreign city and crosses the rainy street, drawn to a rundown bar. A schoolboy is fascinated by a girl in his class who has no ears. A writer turns up to meet his publisher and begins to tell him the plot for his new book, which gets darker at each turn. Just three of the intriguing encounters you’ll find inside – a cornucopia of vivid ideas, twists, and emotions conjured up by four authors at the top of their game. From the modern noir stories of Brindley Hallam Dennis, through Mandy Huggins skilfully crafted tales with a beating heart, or the new, empathetic writing of rising Australian star Kaya Ra Edwards, there is something here to entice and delight any reader. Perhaps you will join the growing band of followers for Christopher Fielden, whose story provides the title for this collection, weaving a funny yet moving fable around Death sitting in judgement of a superhero, or fall under the spell of his tale where an amputee soldier is visited by a terrifying demon named Colin. Four writers cataloguing love, fear, loss, and joy, each with their own unique style. Do yourself a favour, and buy this now.

InkTears is a small, independent publisher focused exclusively on short fiction. We deliver free stories every month to thousands of our subscribers and run a highly successful international competition. Now, we’re a one-stop shop for quality short fiction.

With our publishing arm, we’ve made our website the major hub for the short story and attracting readers from all over the world.


By building on our reputation for developing raw talent from all over the world, we seek to continue to produce short story collections and showcase anthologies made up of high quality hardback (limited) editions and paperbacks available at book shops and on epublishing formats like eBook (Kindle + iPad). To find more information on our latest titles visit: www.inktears.com

PURCHASING OR ORDERING REVIEW COPIES:

HOW TO BEGIN A WONDERFUL LIFE or DEATH OF A SUPERHERO:  
To order a copy or request a review copy contact Anthony Howcroft: amhowcroft@inktears.com

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION:

Mandy Huggins's work has appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. She has achieved success in competitions including Cinnamon, Fish, Ink Tears, English Pen, The Telegraph, Bradt, and Words with Jam. In 2014 she won the British Guild of Travel Writers New Travel Writer Award. Her flash fiction collection, Brightly Coloured Horses, will be published soon by Chapeltown Books.

Brindley Hallam Dennis has had stories published & performed and has won several prizes and awards. His novella 'A Penny Spitfire' was published in 2011 by Pewter Rose Press, and a collection of short stories, 'Talking To Owls' followed in 2012. In 2010 Unbound Press published 'That's What Ya Get! Kowalski's Assertions'. He blogs at www.Bhdandme.wordpress.com

Kaya Ra Edwards is an Australian editor and writer who has been published by Australian journals like Voiceworks, Scum, and Seizure, across fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and flash. You can find her published work at kayaedwards.wordpress.com

Chris Fielden is an award-winning and Amazon-bestselling author. His short stories have been published in print and online by many fine publications, including Boundless, Darker Times, Dark Lane Anthology, InkTears, Scribble, Writers’ Forum and many more. www.christopherfielden.com

GET IN TOUCH
For more information on any of our authors or books, please contact: Sara-Mae Tuson
 Editorial Director
 saramae@inktears.com
07862722140
http://www.inktears.com/
 Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/inktearswall


 

Friday, 6 October 2017

My Not-Quite-On-The-Longlist Flash Story on Reflex Fiction



Car by Car

Betty was a curvaceous coupe, customised with gleaming chrome. She arrived on the heels of your rough-edged street girls: a shining temptress.
But I had fond memories of cruising along the seafront in your rust-stained Datsun, lured by the lights that danced on the water.
Then came the Triumph with her retro elegance. After our wedding your friends tied beer cans to the exhaust, and we lost them one by one until all that remained was a tangle of ribbons.
The Granada came next; the reluctant beast that needed a bump start every morning when you left for work. The car that saw me stood halfway down the street in my slippers, smiling as you waved through the sunroof.
Then Betty. The only car to be given a name. Betty was a bargain, you said, we’d be fools not to snap her up. And we soon found out why she was so cheap—whilst parked at the roadside she’d been written off by a drunk driver.
Perhaps she was jinxed, or maybe it was coincidence, but from the day you brought Betty home she was a witness to our meltdown, and her imperfect chassis became the emblem of our undoing.
You lost your job and started drinking, stayed out late and came home angry. You begged forgiveness and then did it all again. We were running on empty.
And then you told me you were in love with the barmaid from the Blacksmiths Arms. I broke down, and we broke up.
The weekend you left, I drove recklessly around the village, barefoot and drunk, until I crashed into the farm wall.
You let them tow Betty to the scrap yard, and just like all the other cars before her, she left with a tiny part of us still inside. The final part. Now we were a write-off too.

Flash Fiction by Mandy Huggins
Picture: bumper by Tracy under CC BY 2.0

My Highly Commended Entry in the I Must Be Off Travel Writing Competition 2017

STRAIGHT IN THE EYE 


Motoki saw him before we did.Without uttering a sound he thrust out his arm to form a barrier, forcing us both to freeze mid-step as though competing in a game of musical statues. Just below the ridge a black bear sauntered towards us from the edge of the tree line, hoary-muzzled and sleek-furred.

Like most mountainous regions of Japan, Kamikochi has a healthy population of bears, but no one we spoke to had seen one here. We’d noticed signs that chalked up details of recent sightings: ‘None’, and offered safety advice: ‘Please walk with the bear bell for giving bear notice!’ However, despite the plethora of jangling kumayoke suzu for sale in the camping shop, we had set off unarmed, having decided that the constant clanking would disturb the birds we hoped to see, and scare off the elusive little mountain goats known as komoshika.

Our day’s climb started at Taisho Pond, where withered trees reach up out of the clear water; a reminder that this lake was formed a hundred years ago by the last eruption of Yakedake volcano. Kamikochi mountain valley is one of the most beguiling places in the Japanese Alps, and according to ancient legend it is where the sea god, Hotaka-no-Kami, descended to earth. The first recorded mountaineer here was the Buddhist priest, Banryu, and our climb traced his steps across the Azusa river and up to the lower ridges of the Hotaka mountains.



We began our ascent through dense forests of larch and beech, following a trail marked by fluttering red ribbons tied haphazardly to branches and rocks. Shafts of sunlight pierced the canopy at intervals, intensifying the blaze of the autumn foliage and stirring the wings of late butterflies. Our footsteps were muffled by fresh leaf fall, and we breathed in the smell of damp, mossy earth. There was a sharp screech from above, a rustle of leaves and cracking twigs, and a family of macaques swung overhead.



As we climbed higher we heard distant birdsong and the tap-tap-tap of a pygmy woodpecker. There was a missed heartbeat as we crossed a narrow log bridge, gasping at the unexpected drop and the rush and tumble of white water cascading down the rock face. Eventually we cleared the tree line and scrambled up loose glacial scree, where the last alpine flowers clung tenaciously to the solid rock beneath. A bear bell tinkled faintly in the distance as a lone climber descended from the high ridge; a red splash against the grey of the rock.

We reached the mountain hut, where a plateau of flat-topped stones formed a natural viewing platform; an excellent place to stop for our well-deserved drinks and rice snacks. Still high above us were the snow-capped peaks of Hotaka, and below us the river flowed like mercury through the valley. Barely perceptible wisps of white smoke hung in the still air above the sleeping fire-dragon of Yakedake volcano.

As we gathered our belongings in readiness to leave, the climber finally arrived at the hut, waving a greeting and introducing himself as Motoki. He spoke little English, and our Japanese is basic, but when we ran out of vocabulary we communicated with nods and gestures. These quickly turned into wide smiles when he offered us warming shots of sake, which we gratefully exchanged for chunks of chocolate. We began our slow descent close on his heels, and in the companionable silence I contemplated the rejuvenating onsen baths that awaited us below and the promise of our evening camp fire.

Deep in thought, I was caught off guard when Motoki’s outstretched arm brought us to an abrupt standstill. As I looked up, my eye was caught by a dense black rock just above the tree line. It stood out against the pale scree, and when I re-focussed, the boulder became bear. I could make out the glint of his eyes, and the tilt and sway of his salt and pepper muzzle as he tried to catch our scent. When we stumbled to a halt there was a mesmeric moment as he continued to walk towards us. As he reared up onto his hind legs I swear he looked me straight in the eye; poised and sure; calmly weighing up his options. Then Motoki jangled the bells on his walking pole, and just as swiftly as he’d turned towards us, the bear dropped to the ground and loped away without looking back.
Dizzy with adrenaline, we remained motionless until Motoki gestured back towards the path. I scrambled down after him, happy to forsake sightings of bashful goats and timid wagtails, and to listen instead to the clamorous clanking of bells until we reached our log cabin.

________________________________________________

Mandy Huggins has been published in a number of anthologies, travel guides, newspapers and magazines, and her first collection of flash fiction will be published later this year by Chapeltown.

Her travel writing has won several awards, including the British Guild of Travel Writers New Travel Writer Award in 2014.


"Straight in the Eye" was highly commended by Graham Mercer, the 2017 judge of the I Must Be Off!Travel Writing Competition. He had the following to say about "Straight in the Eye": 


'This is a well-written evocation of a nature-lover’s hike in a spectacularly wild (if occasionally threatening) setting. Another judge might have awarded it first place and if pressed I might find it hard to explain why I didn’t do so. All I can say is that judges are human. And expected to make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. Whatever the case the writer, like the five others in this list, need have no concerns about his or her potential.

'In this piece he or she employs a device often used to great effect by writers of short articles and stories, beginning, as it were, with the ending. In this case the appearance of the black bear, which we don’t see again until the penultimate paragraph, thus maintaining suspense throughout the article.

'Meanwhile we are introduced to the quaint Japanese concept of the “bear bell”, a safety precaution that the writer and his or her companion(s) have (I am glad to say) ignored, so as not to disturb the other wildlife that they hope to see. As with all good travel articles we feel that we are there, amid the “snow-capped peaks of Hotaka” and “the sleeping fire-dragon of Yakedake”.'

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Death of a Superhero

My first glimpse of the wonderful cover for Death of a Superhero, which launches in December.

You can register HERE to receive an email notification when the book is available - at a special discount price to those who register!





A woman feels adrift in a foreign city and crosses the rainy street, drawn to a rundown bar. A schoolboy is fascinated by a girl in his class who has no ears. A writer turns up to meet his publisher and begins to tell him the plot for his new book, which gets darker at each turn. Just three of the intriguing encounters you’ll find inside – a cornucopia of vivid ideas, twists, and emotions conjured up by four authors at the top of their game. From the modern noir stories of Brindley Hallam Dennis, through Mandy Huggins skillfully crafted tales with a beating heart, or the new, empathetic writing of rising Australian star Kaya Ra Edwards, there is something here to entice and delight any reader. Perhaps you will join the growing band of followers for Chris Fielden, whose story provides the title for this collection, weaving a funny yet moving fable around Death sitting in judgement of a superhero, or fall under the spell of his tale where an amputee soldier is visited by a terrifying demon named Colin. Four writers cataloguing love, fear, loss, and joy, each with their own unique style. Do yourself a favour, and buy this now. 


“Unique, moving, funny, and cunningly crafted. Several stories in this collection won prizes at InkTears - and they have stayed with me, like all the best tales. ”

— A M Howcroft, founder of InkTears
 
 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I Must Be Off

Rather pleased to be Highly Commended in this year's competition!

The Fifth Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition -- The Winners!

Thank you to every writer who shared your adventure with us. I am amazed every year by the breadth of experience entrants bring to this competition. The worst part about a competition is that almost everyone who enters will be disppointed in the end. The best part is the opportunity of making at least a few people happy by recognizing their talent and hard work. This year, thanks to the addition of entry-fee proceeds, I'm increasing the second place prize to €75 and adding a third place prize of €25!

This year's judge, Graham Mercer, has made the following choices:


First Place
"Forbidden Fruit" by Fiona Dixon (UK)

Second Place
"Old Foreigner" by Fiona Rintoul (UK)

Third Place
"A Hit in the Himalayas" by Scott Morley (USA, South Korea)

Highly Commended
"Straight in the Eye" by Mandy Huggins (UK)
"We are Fire: the Dance of the Devils" by Michael Sealey (Spain)
"Tea with Keiko" by Maria Howard (UK)
Congratulations to all the winners, whose work will be featured at I Must Be Off! in autumn 2017.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Words with Jam First Page Competition

 



Very pleased indeed that I've won third place in the Words with Jam First Page Competition! You can read the winning first pages and the judges comments here.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Stories for Homes 2 - Online Anthology





My story, Perfect Word, is now up on the Stories For Homes website. Please look out for the anthology - Stories For Homes 2 - when it launches - profits to Shelter. https://storiesforhomes.wordpress.com/stories-for-homes-anthology/


Perfect Word

I looked out of the hall window at the snow-silent street, and remembered my father’s word for the glitter frosting that sparkled beneath the streetlights: crackledust. I’d never been sure about that word. ‘Snow doesn’t crackle, snow crunches,’ I used to tell him. He’d just smile.
I stood in the hallway, surrounded by the boxes and bin liners containing his clothes. I had performed the task of sorting through them accompanied by a bottle of wine, packing systematically and methodically, without pause for the thoughts and memories that would have made it impossible. Jumpers, trousers, belts, shirts, ties, all neatly folded and coiled.
His green cardigan still hung on the end of the banister, the cardigan with a hole in the sleeve and the scuffed leather buttons. I was so used to seeing it there I must have overlooked it earlier. I wrapped it around my shoulders and opened the front door to greet the early-hours world.
The snow was falling faster. I threw my head back to catch the soft, fat flakes, and they melted like communion wafers on my tongue. I refused to take communion after the funeral, it would have been a sham, even though it was what my father had believed in. The body of Christ couldn’t save me, only the blood of Christ: the wine I drink to lessen the unexpected weight of grief.
As I stood in the garden I realised that my childhood home would soon belong to someone else, and I would never visit again. I would never eat a whole plate of my mother’s Yorkshire puddings filled with my father’s onion gravy. I would never be late for my train because of the dining room clock that was permanently twelve minutes slow.
Did I now need my own word for lamp-lit snow? As it glinted beneath the lights, a dusting of kali glitter, it was suddenly obvious I didn’t. I already had the perfect word. I wrapped my father’s cardigan tightly around myself and brushed away tears with the rough wool sleeve. My childhood home wasn’t bricks and mortar, it was crackledust.

About the author:
Mandy Huggins lives in Yorkshire and works in engineering. Her short fiction and travel writing have appeared in newspapers, anthologies and magazines. Competition successes include Bare Fiction, Retreat West, Ink Tears, Cinnamon Press, Bradt Travel Guides and BGTW New Travel Writer. She abandoned her first novel when she realised it was a short story. A selection of her stories will appear in a forthcoming Ink Tears Showcase Anthology.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Retreat West Quarterly Themed Flash Competition

 
 Thrilled that I have won the Retreat West Quarterly Flash Competition. You can read my story
here