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New look Flashers’ Club!

Hey! We’re making a few changes to Flashers’ Club, to help it thrive and to make it an even more positive force in the world of writing. Here’s what’s new:

Pricing

Straight to the crunch: ticket prices will be going up (though only a little bit). Where we previously offered a concession to open mic readers, the ticket price will now be a blanket £4. We want to be able to carry on doing what we’re doing, offering you lovely Flashers a stage, some inspiration and some free lit, and that means we need just a bit more cash for the following:

  1. Paying our guest readers. We believe that writers shouldn’t be asked to work for free, even for little charity gigs like ours. We all want writing to be a viable way to make a living, so let’s start with the small things. We are only able to offer a token payment, so our guests are still being very generous with their time, but we feel it’s important to at least make a gesture towards the fact that writing stories is valuable work. Also, we want to be able to feature more guest readers, including those who might not be able to join us unless they can at least cover their travel.
  2. Paying for our litmag giveaway (see below).
  3. Helping to support First Story and their work with the next generation of UK writers and poets. We were sadly unable to pass any money to FS after August’s gig.

No ticket money is ever taken as profit or wages.

Litmag giveaway

Each event will now feature one copy of a short story mag, given away to one lucky reader whose name we pull out of the hat at the end of the night. Why just one? Well, we’re going to be paying for it.

We’ve historically asked small presses and litmag publishers for freebies. This is great for spreading the word about their publications, but less great for helping to keep the UK short story scene viable. Publishing short fiction does not make anyone any money. Most mags and sites are run on unwaged love, in people’s spare time, just as Flashers’ Club is. We want to support publishers by paying for litmags. Also, this gives us more choice in the range of mags we can feature (not every publisher can afford to give freebies, or has back copies).

Litmag amnesty

Done with your mag? Back copies and author’s copies clogging up your bookshelves? Bring it to us! We want your unwanted fiction and poetry mags, journals and anthologies. Add them to the amnesty box and anyone who comes to an event will then be able to borrow and read them in return for a small donation to Flashers’. This is a great way to research journals you might like to subscribe or submit to.

Let us know what you think on Twitter, or via the comments section. You can also drop us an e-mail via the contacts page if you’d prefer to comment privately, especially if you’re a rich philanthropist with a sudden urge to fund the arts.

 

 

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Flashers’ Club VII

The seventh Flashers’ Club was the first after we broke for a short hiatus, and it was good to be back. We were privileged to feature flash fiction from international, award-winning author Nora Nadjarian, who read from her collections ‘Girl, Wolf, Bones’ and ‘Selfie’. (You can find out more about her on the Our Readers page, where there is also a link to purchase her books). There was open mic flash fiction from a host of talented regulars and newbies. One person read for the first time (nice one, James!) and one for the last (we’ll miss you, Libby). And there was lots of love for our free fiction, ‘New Ghost Stories III’ by The Fiction Desk – with a little Wendigo connection between its first story and our last.

The open mic featured, in order of appearance: Robin Barker reading ‘The Girl With The Foreign Accent’, Steven John reading ‘Under the Paint’, Michael Hurst reading ‘End of Term’, Howard Timms reading ‘Father, 1960s Style’, Rod Griffiths reading ‘Knocking’ and ‘Dead’, James Northern reading ‘Going In To Bat’, Libby McIvor reading ‘Baptism’ and ‘My Summer Holiday with Mephistopheles’, Marilyn Timms reading ‘Meeting Keira’, Derek Dohren reading ‘Macaroon’s Coconuts’, Robin Barker reading ‘The Dive’, and Charlie Chitty reading ‘The Wendigo’. Check out the Our Readers page to find out more about our open mic readers and where you can find their work.

 

 

There was no donation to First Story from this event, sadly. We’ll be reviewing ticket prices and the format of the event to see if there are ways of bringing in a bit more cash. In the meantime: tell your friends!

The next Flashers’ Club will be Thursday November 8th, Smokey Joe’s, 7:30pm. All the usual goodness, guest author TBA.

Flashers’ Club VI

Magic. Suicide. Mining towns. Plastic squid. Vampires. Levitation. School reports. Repulsive  heartthrobs. Murder. Aliens. Zebras. Dry-stone walling. Zombies. Giant women. It can only be Flashers’ Club.

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Despite a nasty virus depriving us of special guest Tania Hershman, Flashers’ VI was a busy night. We heard fourteen excellent flash pieces. Ken Frape kicked off the night with ‘Love on the Line’, followed by Cath Humphris (‘Undertow’), Jeff Taylor (‘Mesmerising’), Derek Dohren (‘The Hoverers’), Charlie Chitty (’52 Card Pickup’), and Libby McIvor (‘Devil Behind My Eyes’).

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Jeff Taylor
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Charlie Chitty

After the interval we were back with Rod Griffiths (‘Repulsive’), Marilyn Timms (‘What I Did On My Holidays’), Howard Timms (‘Boot Prints’), Emma Kernahan (‘Office Space’), Steve Wheeler (‘The Waller’), Mark Rutterford (‘Homes’), Megan Paul (‘Zebra Nivem’), and Robin Barker (‘The Zombigram’). You can find out more about the performers on our Our Readers page.

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Libby McIvor
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Mark Rutterford

All readers left with a copy of Open Pen, the London litmag featuring fiction with bite.

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Open Pen seeks stories from anyone and everyone, with a special interest in working class writers. They’re always open for submissions, from anywhere in the world. If you like what you read, check out their website here. You can also find them on Twitter @OpenPenLondon, and on Facebook /openpenmagazine.

We raised an amazing £82 for First Story, so thank you to everyone who bought a ticket.

There will be no Flashers’ Club event in May – we’re on hiatus. Flashers’ will be back as usual in early August 2018. Join us then!

 

 

Flashers’ Club V

Hot on the heels of October’s LitCrawl success came Flashers’ Club V, an intimate evening featuring zombies, cling-film, orang-utans and socialist Terminators. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, you missed out. Join us next time.

There are no photos of the evening, owing to a technical problem (I forgot the camera), but we had something even better in the form of live cartoon drawings of the event by fantastic guest writer Sion Owen. You’ll find his drawings throughout this post. If you’re depicted and you want the original then send me a message via the contact form, and I’ll post it to you.*

The night kicked off with Mark Webber reading Rapunzel update ‘Was it the hair that snared him?’, followed by Rod Griffiths’ Halloween-appropriate ‘The Ghost In The Floor’, Jeff Taylor’s story-with-a-twist ‘Harvest Festival’, Robin Barker’s claustrophobic ‘The Absence of Light’, and Lynda Fowke’s refugee tale ‘The Shawl’. The first half concluded with Sion Owen reading flash fiction political piece ‘The Wall’.

The second half featured Jason Jackson with factory gothic ‘The Nightshift Kid’, Rosalind Bayley’s meditation ‘Time and Tide’, Robin Barker’s zom-com (sorry) ‘Quorn of the Dead’, and Ken Frape’s fantastically nasty ‘Bobby and Margot’. We wrapped up the night with Sion reading four interlinked flash fictions which connected to make one political satire, ‘Vermin’.

The stories were a real mix of styles and genres, which made for a great night. One of the reasons Flashers’ has a ‘no genre restrictions’ rule is that we want to feature all fiction: general, literary, historical, horror, sci-fi, satire, fantasy are all welcome. Occasionally the cuts from one piece to the next may be abrupt, maybe even startling; but that’s the joy of open mic. It’s a lucky dip.

We raised £44 for First Story, so thank you to everyone who bought a ticket. Thank you especially to Sion, who came all the way from the Rhondda to share his flash fic, and presented us with his fantastic caricatures. Sion has a book out, ‘Cawl’, featuring his drawings and writing. Do take a look. You can also follow him on Twitter @sionmun.

Thank you also to the kind people at The Ham Free Press, who provided us with the magazines we gave away to all our readers. If you’d like to submit to them you can find their website here; or if you enjoyed their work and you’d like to let them know @HamFreePress then please do!

The next Flashers’ Club will be on Thursday 8th February at Smokey Joe’s Coffee Bar. Doors at 7:30pm, start at 8. The usual open mic session PLUS multi-anthology flash fic genius Tania Hershman PLUS free lit! Join us then. In the meantime, keep up with us on Twitter @flashers_club, or on Facebook /flashersclubcheltenham.

 

*Also check your e-mail cos there’s a message from me in your spam asking about bios for the website. Kthx.

 

 

Flashers’ Club IV

So this is it: Flashers’ is one. We’ve come a long way, and on Thursday it showed. There was a buzz about the evening that had its own power behind it, a sense that the year has been long enough for this little event to develop its own momentum and create its own surprises.

We were blessed with a number of new faces. Half of the readers’ list had never read for us before. We have yet to feature a list containing no-one new, and I love this. That’s not to say, of course, that it wasn’t hugely rewarding to see regulars back again. The combination of fresh readers and seasoned talent is a winner.

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Belinda Rimmer

We had a turnout of thirty, which in August is some good going. Thanks to everyone who was there, and to everyone who shared their work. There were 11 readers – strictly a bit over the 10-reader limit, but who’s going to quibble over one story?

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Emma Kernahan

The quality was phenomenal. I’ve had some very positive feedback in person and via social media about the standard of Thursday’s stories, so if you contributed I hope you feel rightly proud. Our readers, in order of performance, were: Jason Jackson with ‘Heads’, Chloe with ‘In The Museum Of All Time’, Rod Griffiths with ‘Thunderbolt’, Nastasya Parker with ‘Animals’, Emma Kernahan with ‘Still for Sale’, Belinda Rimmer with an untitled piece, Libby McIvor with ‘Awakening’, Guy Mortenson with ‘The Dead Spit’, Lania Knight with ‘My Name Is Lin Yi’, Michael Hurst with ‘Cheque Please’, and Shirley Halse with ‘My Grandma’. You’ll be able to read their bios on the ‘Our Readers’ page soon.

Our guest author this time was Jane Bailey, who read some extracts from her novels ‘What Was Rescued’ and ‘Larksong’. If you’d like to know more about Jane or get hold of some of her books, check out her website here .

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Jane Bailey

Thanks to a slight hitch with litmag supply we had to rely on an amnesty for our mag giveaway, meaning there was a smorgasbord of different mags on offer. Let Flashers’ know what you got and what you thought of it! And if you really like it, do subscribe to it.

A word about our next event: Flashers’ Club V will be on Thursday November 9th at 7:30pm, Smokey Joe’s Coffee Bar. Tickets will be £4, unless you’re reading, in which case they’re £3. The price increase is to cover event costs, which have been eating into our donation of late. Our guest writer will be the prodigiously talented Sion Owen. Read more about him on our home page. Be there or be un-flashy.

 

 

 

Flashers’ Club III

The reading list filled up quickly at Flashers’ Club III. At one point it looked like the names-out-of-a-hat form might actually be pressed into service. Had one more reader signed up then it would have been, but happily there were exactly ten writers itching to perform. The names-out-of-a-hat-form lives to fight another day. If it survives August then we should probably celebrate its one year anniversary at November Flashers’.

With ten readers out of fifteen attendees, Flashers’ III was all about the writers. The standard was fantastic. It was a privilege to host an event at which so many good writers chose to share their work.

Chloe Turner kicked us off with the evocative ‘Pwllgwaelod’, and Jim Moeller followed with ‘Joanne Bags a Boy’. Megan Paul read ‘The Fiver’, Hayden Downey ‘The Benefits of Sleeping with Grief’, and Laura Bolton wrapped up the first half with ‘Drunk Girls’.

After a break for some drinks and writing chat (novel-related despair, submissions successful and otherwise, who’s going to which live lit night), we were back with Steven John and ‘The River Severn at Arlingham’. Michael Hurst followed with ‘The Amiable Jocks’, then Courtney Hulbert with ‘Ghost Rider’. Iris Lewis took to the mic to read ‘Shadows In Her Mind’, and finally Mark Rutterford rounded up the night with ‘She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not’.

A remarkable 7/10 of our readers had never read with us before. A big welcome to you: we hope you’ll read with us again.

The free lit from Open Pen went home with all our readers. We hope you enjoy it! Open Pen is open to submissions all the time, so if you’re interested, why not check out their website, here.

Ticket sales and kind donations from the University of Gloucestershire meant we raised £69 for First Story, so as always, a huge thank you to everyone who bought a ticket.

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Finally, many thanks to everyone who tweeted about Flashers’ or sent e-mails saying how much you’d enjoyed the night. It means a lot, and is really appreciated at Flashers’ HQ. A special mention too for Hayden and Laura, who were on hand to help with the ticketing if the night got busy. Cheers!

Flashers’ Club will be returning in early August (date coming soon), with special guest Jane Bailey and another lot of lovely free lit! See you then.

 

 

100 word stories from First Story

After our last donation to First Story, they sent us a thank you letter. Enclosed within were two postcards printed with the winning and runner-up stories from their 2016 ‘100 Word Competition’. They’re written by First Story students and we think they’re great. Here they are for you to enjoy too.

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