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.


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’).

Jeff Taylor
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.

Libby McIvor
Mark Rutterford

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


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.

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?

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 .

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.

Donation screenshot

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.


Flashers’ Club II

Flashers’ Club I was, naturally, an event of firsts, but the theme continued with Flashers’ Club II. We had our first ever reading with a prop, which we hope has Flashers rummaging around for musical instruments and costume ideas of their own. We had four readers we’d never heard before, one of whom was sharing his work with the public for the very first time (buy that man a drink). We had our first litmag giveaway by Prole magazine. And, of course, we had our very first guest writer in the form of award-winning author and lecturer in creative writing Tyler Keevil.

Flashers’ is an organic kind of enterprise. It’s an open mic night, and 90% of our tickets are sold on the door. We have no clue how many people or how many readers to expect on the night. The stories aren’t selected, so when a reader gets up behind the mic we have no idea – none – what we are about to hear. Not even from our guest writer. And that’s what makes it thrilling. It was thrilling to see so many new faces coming through the door and joining our audience, thrilling to see writers filling up the readers’ list with their stories, thrilling to feel the attention of a whole room focused on a single voice. It was wonderful to see faces from our first event coming back for the second (regulars!) We had feedback from our readers saying how good the audience was, and from our audience saying how much they enjoyed the stories. We couldn’t ask for more.

The new guest writer feature was a hit, with Tyler Keevil delivering two sparely beautiful and assured pieces: ‘Red Dirt’ and ‘Running’. As if it wasn’t enough that he was reading for us for free, Tyler also sold copies of his novels The Drive and Fireball, his short story collection Burrard Inlet, and the student short story anthology Reflections, donating all income to our charity coffers.

Pooling the ticket money and proceeds from Tyler’s book sale, we made £126.50 for First Story. That’s an astonishing amount, and everyone who bought a ticket or a book should be rightly proud of themselves. If you’re reading this and you haven’t already taken a look at work by First Story‘s students, please do.

Our readers at the event were, in order of appearance: Mark Rutterford with ‘Ting’, Lucas Abbott with ‘Mr Greencard’ and ‘The Delicate in the Deep’, Jim Moeller with ‘A Little History of Mr Duncan’, Alex Clark with ‘The Legacy’, Tyler Keevil with ‘Red Dirt’, Hayden Downey with an untitled piece, Gill Garrett with ‘The Drop’, Nastasya Parker with ‘A Night in the Tropics’, Sophie Livingston with ‘Breathing Out’, and Tyler Keevil with ‘Running’. If you’d like to know more about any of our readers, you can find bios on the ‘Our Readers’ page. Pictures of the night are below. Come and join us next time!

img_2159Mark Rutterford


Lucas Abbott


Jim Moeller


Alex Clark


Tyler Keevil


Hayden Downey


Gill Garrett


Nastasya Parker


Sophie Livingston





Flashing the cash

Yes, it’s got to that stage already. The stage when the arts venture suddenly realises it needs to – agh – make some money.

Flashers’ Club is not a profit-making event, and those of us who help to run it will continue to do it on a voluntary basis. However, we do need a small amount of funding to run each event. That money will do things like cover our miniature but regular promotional costs, and pay our guest writers’ travel expenses (our guest writers for this and the next couple of Flashers’ will be doing it completely for free, so do give them a big handshake if you meet them). The money will keep Flashers’ viable and vital, allowing us to build a quality event and continue fundraising for First Story.

We’ve investigated local and national sources of funding, and because we need money to run Flashers’ (rather than to stage a special event or outreach programme), we’re not eligible for arts funding. To keep Flashers’ Club flashing, then, we propose to split our ticket takings 50/50: half of the money will go into the Flashers’ coffers, half to First Story. Any money out of that 50% which we retain for running costs which is not spent will then also be donated to First Story. We’ll also be making tickets £3 across the board (they’re currently £2.50 online, £3 on the night).

We’d love to know what you think about the proposed changes – either come and speak to us on the night, write us an e-mail through the Contact form on this site, tweet to us @flashers_club or message us through Facebook. For those who’d rather be anonymous there’ll be a chance to write us a comment note on the night.

Thursday’s event will of course remain exactly as publicised: all money to First Story.

See you then, Flashers!

Flash for February

We’ve got some good stuff in store for February 9th. Firstly, there’s the rather exciting guest writer slot. We’ve been thinking about this for a while, but needed to get the feel of the first Flashers’ Club meet before deciding how it would work.

The idea is that an established writer will read one or two of their pieces at each event: these may be flash fiction, or slightly longer pieces. We’re not sure yet. Nor are we quite sure at what stage of the night the reading will take place. It’s in the true spirit of Flashers’. Let’s call it ‘organic growth’.

One thing we are certain of is that our very first guest writer will be Tyler Keevil. Tyler is the author of several books and his short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including New Welsh Review, PRISM: International, and Brace (Comma Press).  He has received numerous awards for his writing, most notably the Wales Book of the Year People’s Prize and the Writers’ Trust of Canada Journey Prize.  He is the Undergraduate Course Leader in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, and his latest novel, No Good Brother, will be published by The Borough Press / HarperCollins next year.

We’re really excited to have Tyler reading for us, and we hope you are too. We should mention that he’s doing this for us completely for free (we’re a homespun affair), so huge props to Tyler for his generosity. All proceeds, as always, will be going to First Story.

As if that wasn’t enough to tempt you down, we also have FREE FRESH LIT! Yet more kindness, this time from the lovely folks at Prole magazine, means we have six copies of Prole to give out to our readers, along with four new Fiction Desk anthologies.


Prole is a UK literary magazine which publishes quality, intelligent prose and poetry with an emphasis on accessibility. Their aim is ‘to challenge, engage and entertain – but never to exclude’. Prole is available in hard copy, or in PDF format for the very accessible price of £4. They have nice flexible submissions rules: prose of any theme (bar fan fic) is welcome, up to 7500 words. Check it out.

We’re keeping the open mic readers list to ten this time, though each reader may read up to two pieces. As usual our top word limit is 1,000. If we’ve more readers than we can fit, we’ll be pulling names out of the Flashers’ Club Hat (aka the old gardening hat from the back of the coat cupboard).

See you there, Flashers old and new . . .

Flashers’ Club I: November 2016

Open mic nights are always a gamble. By half past seven on Thursday, though, it was clear that the first Flashers’ Club was going to be a goer. The door ticket tally started to rise and the readers’ list filled up with promising titles.  By the second half, bolstered by a few fashionably late arrivals, we had thirteen readers reading fifteen short stories.

The pieces ranged from 150-word flash fic to 1000-word short stories. Sitting by the toasty warmth of Smokey Joe’s wood-burning stove, we heard about newlywed love and the practical difficulties of life as a vampire; we saw snapshots of a commuter’s end and a mother’s grief; we travelled to Malaysia, to America’s Old West, to Afghanistan. Writers read from notebooks, from print-outs, from phones and tablets. Some read with brio, some with a smile, some with resonant calm. All were wonderful.

Thankfully we had just enough free books for everyone to have one each: this quarter’s readers’ treat was a copy of Various Authors, an anthology by The Fiction Desk, independent publishers of new short stories.

In all we sold thirty-one tickets, raising £78 for First Story. If you haven’t checked out First Story’s website then head over there now and have a read of the childrens’ stories and poems. Humbling and powerful, they’ll astound you with their skill and maturity. Everyone who bought a ticket on Thursday has helped to support those voices, so a massive thank you to all of you.

We’ve had great feedback from readers and listeners, and we’re really happy that everyone enjoyed the night. We’re even happier to say that Flashers’ Club is now a regular night, to take place quarterly. Our next event will be on Thursday 9th February, same time, same place. We may make some slight tweaks to the format, but there will always be an open mic session. Keep an eye on this site, on Facebook and on Twitter (@flashers_club) for details.