Category Archives: Short stories

Submissions closed

Thanks to all those who submitted. Participants will be announced by October 15th.

You are invited to submit stories from 500 – 1500 words on the theme of Crime for our Story Sunday on October 22nd.

Deadline October 1st.

Check out how to do it on our submissions page. 

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Summer news: publishing deals for Heather and Ali

Hello fellow writers and readers and apologies for being off the scene for a while. However we have some excellent news to report and can also give you the heads-up for our next  event in October, part of the annual Bristol Litfest extravaganza.

First, the good news.
In between all that short story action last year, our members were labouring over their long-term projects, two of which have come to highly satisfying fruition.

heather_cFirst up for a round of applause is Heather Child‘s debut novel Smartface recently acquired by  Little, Brown Book Group imprint Orbit via the Julie Crisp Literary Agency.

Heather’s book is a high-concept thriller that tells the story of a woman whose virtual assistant takes on the personality of her missing sister.

When her sister vanished, Freya’s life seemed to stop. Eight years later, she is hearing Ruby’s voice again as a ‘Smartface’, so alive and real it seems she could be out there somewhere, feeding updates into the cloud. But should Freya trust this intelligent assistant, which is programmed to give her everything she wants?

The novel examines what happens when smart becomes too smart, when people accumulate so much data online that they can be recreated as data ghosts and lives can be changed by the information they’ve left behind. The book will be out in spring 2018.

Heather, who joined us a couple of years ago, has already been published in MslexiaUnder the Radar, the Storgy 2014 Short Story AnthologyHerCircle, the Bristol Post and Notes from the Underground online. We’ve loved hearing excerpts from the book at our feedback meetings – I can’t wait to read the whole of this fabulously written  novel which takes a compelling and disturbing look at what might be just around the corner.

Ali_ason 4896x3672Hard on the heels of Heather’s success comes Ali Bacon who has signed with Linen Press Books. In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of the life of Victorian artist and photographer David Octavius Hill. This collection of sixteen stories in ten distinctive voices bring together history, fiction and biography. Ali says:

I was doubtful a mainstream publisher would commit to something that crosses so many of the usual boundaries. I was thrilled when Linen Press snapped it up straight away.

You may well have heard Ali reading excerpts from her work-in-progress at Novel Nights in Bristol or at Stroud Short Stories.  In June of this year Ali also won first prize in the Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition with one of the chapters from her book.
In the Blink of an Eye will be published in mid-2018 when we’ll get to read all of the stories one judge said  ‘knocked his socks off’.

 

And finally! (cue blood-curdling scream)

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Get out those diaries and sharpen your pencils in preparation of our next Story Sunday which will be A  Night of Crime on October 22nd.

Submission details coming shortly here or on Twitter @bww_unchained

Review – and recommendation! Story Sunday through the eyes of a first-time reader

Thanks to Suzanne McConnaghy for summing up her first experience of reading with us at Southbank on March 19th.

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Mark Lewis, Suzanne, Ali Bacon, Debbie Young, Heather Jo Reed

Writers Unchained impressed me so much at the Festival of Literature, back in October 2016, that I decided I would enter their next event. They’d finally got me to see that writing a short story was not just writing a story: there was an art to it. Large learning curve and here I am at Story Sunday  on March 19th, 2017, about to step onto the stage.

The Southbank Club provides us with a relaxed and welcoming venue to listen to ten writers’ interpretations of the theme: ‘Another Country.’

I soon find Story Sunday’s excellent organisation is very supportive to the readers – when you have a programme and know exactly when you are on, it does a lot to calm the nerves. I’m placed mid-way through Act 1 and this gives me time to see how the first two excellent writers handle the situation but comes early enough to allow relaxed enjoyment of the remaining performances.

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Mark Rutterford, Jean Burnett, John Holland, Lania Knight, Dawn Maria Kelly

Heather Jo Reed’s ‘Mr Muyila’s Bull’ transports us straight out to the African Bush, transfixing the listener as we come to understand the fate intended for the little girl and enjoy the mother’s clever thwarting of her husband’s will. Thoroughly rattled by Mark Lewis’s surreal ‘The Ancestors,’ during which we travel across place and time,’ I realise it’s my turn. I’ve prepared a smooth response to the introduction but fail to hear a word of what is said – it must be nerves – so I have to go straight into the story. With ‘Boy in a Blue Shirt,’ you’re out in Bristol, mixing with the people who live on the streets – and under them.

Ali Bacon’s sensitive story of a young girl’s death, ‘The Coldest Country of All,’ introduces a note of sadness which contrasts well with the following piece, ‘The Emperor’s New Wall.’ After the tension of the previous reading, this satirical story by Debbie Young gives the audience an opportunity for uncomplicated laughter.

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Dawn Maria Kelly, Another Country-style

An interval filled with the strong musical performance of Dawn Marie Kelly, mixing well-known titles with some of her own work, and we’re into the second act with Jean Burnett’s ‘Swansong.’ Set in Malta, it reveals the uncertain world of the hit-man and confirms that his is not the ideal profession – if we didn’t already know it. A smooth performance by Lania Knight with ‘The Red Doll’ touches on the theme of homesickness and the power of certain objects, while John Holland’s ‘The Doorstep’ deals with a familiar character, the Polish workman, whom we see in an entirely new way. Then, Dawn Marie Kelly is back with ‘No Place,’ the story of a simple world somehow made infinitely menacing in the telling. Her acting ability and very convincing American accent made this story very powerful.

To finish, Mark Rutterford’s funny, self-deprecating ‘Skydiving’ takes us on a whirlwind journey through his love life, which feels exactly how I believe skydiving would be. This intricate, cleverly-constructed story is a worthy end to a very satisfying programme.

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Picture by Rebecca Lang

Can I recommend attendance at the next Writers Unchained event?
Most definitely. You’ll sit enthralled through a couple of hours of thought-provoking entertainment. And if you’re a writer with aspirations like me, you’ll also learn much from the way in which the performers handle their material and deliver it to the audience. Look out for the next Story Sunday.

Thank you, Suzanne! If anyone would like to be notified of our next event,  please contact us to be added to our mailing list. 

Another Country – nearly there!

anothercountryorangeThe programme is nearly done for our next event on Sunday March 19th when ten local writers will read their interpretations of our chosen theme ‘Another Country’

The venue is Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol  BS3 1DB
7-9 pm

Entry £5 on the door.

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Guest writers at the last Story Sunday

We’re delighted our line-up is confirmed. Come along and hear new work from old friends and familiar faces and with live music from Dawn Kelly. 

Guests: John Holland, Lania Knight, Mark Lewis, Mark Rutterford and Debbie Young

Writers Unchained members:
Ali Bacon, Jean Burnett, Dawn Kelly, Suzanne Mcconaghy and Heather-Jo Reed

 

Hope you can join us!

Then there were 10: our line-up for next Sunday

Thanks to all the wonderful people who have talked, tweeted or written about us (not to mention all those who sent something in) we are delighted to announce our line-up for Sunday 21st which looks like being as spinetingling (in a slightly different way) as our November event. 

Our readers will be (not necessarily in this order):

Emily Koch (Bristol)
Writer & journalist, newly in possession of a masters degree – and, hurrah! –  an agent

John Holland (Stroud)
Short fiction writer, events organiser and, we hear, obsessive …

Patrick Widdess (Newport)
Writer, poet, photographer & journalist (who likes where he lives)

Mark Rutterford (Bristol)
Stokes Croft Writer and performer (expect more than words)

Debbie Young (Hawkesbury Upton)
writer, broadcaster, festival organiser, champion of the independents

Dan Gooding (South Glos)
Library guy, student, TV and film extra. You wanted to hear him in Stroud? You can now.

Louise Gethin (Writers Unchained)
writes Anecdotes of Love and Death (especially death)

Shirley Wright (Writers Unchained)
prize-winning poet, novelist, choco-and cato-holic

Sally Hare (Writers Unchained)
plotter of allotments, teller of stories, banger of drums,

Ali Bacon (Writers Unchained)
updates websites (yes this one), brings people together, occasionally writes

 

Come along and see what they’ve come up with for our #lovehangover theme.

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