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 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

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Lucas Abbott

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Jim Moeller

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Alex Clark

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Tyler Keevil

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Hayden Downey

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Gill Garrett

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Nastasya Parker

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Sophie Livingston

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 . . .

A message from First Story

First Story, the charity which receives the proceeds of our ticket sales, has been in touch following our first donation. We’d like to share their message with you, firstly to say a big thank you once again to everyone who bought a ticket, and secondly because we think you need to see the kind of work that First Story’s students are producing.

Here’s the message:

‘I’m writing to thank you for donating to First Story the proceeds of the Flashers’ Club event in memory of your friend. We are incredibly grateful for the donation of £78; please accept this email as formal receipt of the payment received on 13th November 2016. The Flashers’ Club event is such a fantastic and fun idea, and it has been wonderful to see its support and success via Twitter.

This year, First Story is running writing residencies in 70 disadvantaged schools across the country, which is the largest number of writing residencies we have run to date. Through participating in writing workshops and other activities, our students are flourishing in confidence and creativity, developing key skills that can underpin their future success. We believe that every school-age child should have access to excellent creative provision, and your generosity could not be more timely as we grow and develop our programme.

The impact First Story has on students is truly extraordinary and it can enhance the quality of their lives. Our work simply would not be possible without those, like you, who share our vision and ambition for young people. As an example of the creativity your support will unleash this year, please find attached to this e-mail a poem written by a First Story student who is twelve years old, and who was recently commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award with this beautiful piece.’  

And here is ‘Mid-Air’, a poem by Jolina Bradley, 12.

 

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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.