Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Thoughts & Thanks

I'm not feeling very well. I haven't been feeling myself, feeling "normal", whatever that means, for quite a while, and have today given in to the fact that I need to do something about this. When I am feeling like this, everything grinds to a halt. I can't write, I can't focus, the joy is drained. I am not a fan of medicine and doctors, but I can't do this much longer so I will have to give in and see what they've got for me. So, as we turn the corner into 2009, my first thought is to take better care of myself, mentally, physically, emotionally.

What else do I resolve? Well, I can't quite see how 2009 could beat 2008: a 30-year dream was realised, my book was published. How does it get better than that? My next resolution is to stop worrying about how to proceed, stop trying to define life-post-book, and just go with the flow. I will write what I write, and if it is "just" flash fiction, that's fine. And if it turns out to be longer stories, that's good too. And maybe it will turn out to be something I haven't imagined yet.

I already have quite a few plans for next year, which isn't like me: book promotion in London in Feb during Jewish Book Week, some exciting and inspiring trips in June and possibly in August. It's hard for me to see that far ahead. Take it one day at a time.

I also want to say thank you: thank you to all of you who celebrated, and continue to celebrate my book with me. Your delight has really made this the most magical experience, sharing it is far greater than keeping it to myself. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy, thank you to those of you who reviewed it, who blogged about it, who hosted me on your blogs. Thank you to all my new friends made through my writing, our writing. Next year, I look forward to giving as much as I have received, which will be a hard task indeed!

I wish all my blog readers a wonderful New Year, a year full of great books and creativity and inspiration, peace and connections, openness and serendipity. See you on the other side!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm visiting Botswana today

LinkI've decided to leave here, albeit virtually, and visit Botswana, hosted by Lauri and her wonderful blog, Thoughts from Botswana. Yes, it's leg 10 on my Virtual Book Tour, the penultimate stop. And what am I talking about? Well, yes, me. Here is a small excerpt:

Describe your writing process. Do you wait for your muse to pitch up or do you do the 9-5?

Ah, well! Neither, actually. I tried the 9-5 for a few days and then discovered that it doesn't work for a short story writer. Novelists need to put in the time, they have a lot of words to get down, and many redrafts to go through. But it doesn't help me to structure my writing like that. But - I also don't wait for any muse. I try to make the headspace for writing and writing-related matters. To just show up, as someone said...............

I’ve had discussions with other writers about using new technologies to up the popularity of short stories and, especially, flash fiction (i.e. podcasts, SMS, etc.) . Do you use any of this technology? If so can you explain how you used it and if it was effective?

I have had two short stories broadcast on podcasts, I didn't read them myself, and I did love how they sounded, but I don't think this works for any short story. I am a great lover of the radio, but not all stories are intended to be read out. The way they look on the page, the layout, and the ability to read them at your own pace and hear the voice in your head as you imagine it not as the actor performs it, that for me is an essential part of the reading experience.........
Head on over there for the rest of the interview, including my 25-word "flash" ad designed to persuade anyone who hasn't already to buy my book! Did it work? You tell me!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hard to concentrate

It's hard to get anything done when you can hear warplanes flying over. When you keep being pulled to the news pages to see about the hell that's breaking loose a few hundred miles away, if that. So, what do you do? You write about it. You let all the sadness and the despair out in your fiction, in an odd way, backwards and sideways, with other people, not you, and other war and violence. Does it help? Not really, because this thing is still going on. But it's all I can do. That is what there is. And this is how I process it. Or escape from it. What a terrible world we live in. And what an awful thing to have to say. May the New Year bring something else, something better, calmer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Next stop on the Virtual Book Tour: Kanlaon

Once again I have been asked some wonderful and probing questions, this time by Kanlaon, aka author Marianne Villaneuva (whose wonderful short story collection, Mayor of the Roses, we reviewed on The Short Review - you have to visit her blog to find out where the blog name comes from) on the ninth stop on my Virtual Book Tour, which is slowly drawing to a close.

Here is a short excerpt from the interview:

What’s the worst thing about being a short story writer?

Having people ask me whether they are for children - and then they ask when I am going to write something proper (a novel). I hate that!

Your stories are filled with emblems. They lend your stories a surreal quality. When did you first start realizing the power of the image, and what kind of freedom does it give you, to write stories clustered around images?

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about this until you mentioned it. I don’t plot my stories, I hear a voice in my head, a first line, and I just follow it and see where it goes. I don’t sit and think, well, this is my central image and I will weave a story around this. If this has happened in several of the stories, it is entirely unconscious! That said, while I am writing I will sometimes see a powerful image emerging and that will end up driving the story, such as the cake in the shape of the Sun in Self Raising or the man braiding the woman’s hair in Plaits. But it is not a conscious process.

For the rest of the interview, click here. Also, take the time to read some of Marianne's other blog posts, she is a wonderful writer with a very interesting take on life, which is why her blog is!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Here's what makes me happy

Thinking about happiness, what it means for me, it's not the hourly check on Amazon UK to see where I am ranked. It's not reading the few reviews of my book that have said lovely things. It's not submitting stories to magazines and competitions.


It's reading my own writing. That makes me so happy. Maybe because it shows me I can. Maybe because I write mostly for myself, I write the sorts of things I want to read, and so my writing is tailor-made for me and I love it, love all my "children", even if they are a little bent and squished.

I haven't written anything for a while (see earlier Distraction post), and have been very reluctant to even visit my works-in-progress. A real physical reluctance, stemming from a "What if they are really actually awful?" But I just managed to fight all procrastination and take a look at the one work-in-progress that I am the most excited about, a piece of writing that is undefined, a novelty for me. I have been trying to write a film script, I have a great idea for a beginning, but no more. So instead of plotting it out etc.., I thought I would get to know my protagonist a bit better, follow her around. This is what this "piece of writing" is, me "riffing". And because I hadn't defined it with any weighty titles like "short story" or "plot synopsis", I let myself go, I wrote loosely, I had fun.

I just read what I've written, 2880 words, which (as those of you who know me will appreciate) is very very long! And I have just got to, in screenplay terms, the "inciting incident". And I love it. The voice is different from anything I've done before, it's not my protagonist's voice, it's a fairly sarky omniscient narrator who is hopping around into various people's heads. It's fun. But it's also got what I was trying to get at, a kind of darkly comic aspect. To me, anyway. This makes me very happy. And I didn't put any pressure on myself to write. Just read it.

Lovely. I feel all warm and fuzzy now. Why don't I do this more often? (ahhh, the nagging voice....)

How to be happy

I am listening to a World Service Heart and Soul program, an interview with Mathieu Ricard, Buddhist monk and former neuroscientist, called by some "the happiest man in the world". How can we cultivate happiness? Practice, he says. It's training.
"You wouldn't expect to learn to ski by practicing a few minutes every month,"
he says.
Good advice. Not easy. Listen to him talk about it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Not taking it all too seriously

In latest news, my book is currently out of stock in the UK (copies are frantically being printed) and therefore I have slipped to number 15 and been overtaken by that sneaky clock radio in the Amazon Bestselling Short Stories list!

I am actually very grateful to whoever mis-categorized the Sony ICFC318S Clock Radio as a Japanese short story collection because it has meant that I just laugh at the whole thing and can not take seriously whatever this bestselling stuff means. Because otherwise, I might start thinking things about me and about my writing. And I'd rather not. So that's good.

On the subject of laughing and of distraction, I giggled out loud at the comment made by Annie Clarkson, (whose beautiful collection, Winter Hands, I reviewed here) on my previous post that "distraction is the new black". And then I remembered: I had pretty much said this myself, in my post a few months ago entitled "Focus, Insight and Creativity, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Scrabulous". My thesis, backed up by the New Yorker, was something to do with not focussing on what you're trying to do. My blog post ended with a quote:
"If you want to encourage insight, they you've also got to encourage people to relax."
Thanks, Annie, for reminding me about what I, apparently, already knew!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Giving up and going with the distraction

OK, so today has been crazy, what with the LA Times blog mention and the Amazon Bestseller list (currently holding at No 10, above the alarm clock, finally), and a query to my publisher from a radio producer who might want to interview me. I've decided I am not going to fight it anymore. I'm not going to try and pretend that life is normal, and feeling appalling guilty for not writing anything new - or working on my stories at all.

I am going to fully and utterly: BE DISTRACTED

From now on I am officially: distracted.

Not one foot in distraction and one foot swinging wildly around trying to find a place to land. Both feet in. I have committed.

It takes a year, they tell me, after your book comes out, before you can get down to work again - what with the constant thoughts of "How do I sell? How do I persuade people to buy it?", the reviews - whether they be positive, balanced or negative - the updating of the websites, the checking of Sitemeter to see who has visited the website, the answering of the questions on Virtual Book Tours, the complaining on my blog.... Time-consuming!

It feels good to have given in to it instead of fighting it. Maybe I will write something. But that will be a bonus. I have plenty to do - The Short Review is always there, and now I have 12 students who will shortly be sending work for critique, which is a wonderful new challenge, both of those being short-story related without involving me writing stories. I am in the field I want to be in, with the most exciting things happening on a daily basis. I just received a card from a friend with wishes for a great and successful 2009, and I thought, well, 2009 is going to have to try very hard to beat 2008!

Officially Distracted Writer Signs Off.

Amazon UK Bestselling Short Story Collections

I just saw this: I am Number 17 on Amazon UK's list of Bestselling Short Story Collections, between Annie Proulx and Roald Dahl. Ok. Hmm. Gosh.

It changes every hour. So this might be my one hour of Amazon Bestsellerness!

Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times

How nice! I was mentioned just after Annie Leibovitz yesterday in the LA Times book news blog, Jacket copy:
Author Tania Hershman stopped by Eco-Libris on the blog tour for her collection, "The White Road and Other Stories." A British-born former science journalist, Hershman now uses science as a jumping off point for her fiction and makes her home in Israel. She writes, "after London, Jerusalem feels like a village to me, it's a manageable size, I can go places on foot, friends live in walking distance, I have my favourite cafes, the food here is fantastic." She cites Etgar Keret as a "huge inspiration."
Musn't get hung up on the fact that I was waffling on about the food instead of literature!
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Next stop on the Virtual Book Tour: Playing Word Association with Kelly Spitzer

After answering so many questions about myself for the Virtual Book Tour so far, which has been fun and illuminating but exhausting, Kelly Spitzer and I decided to do things a little differently for my appearance on her blog. Word association. She tossed words and phrases at me, most of which were from stories in The White Road and Other Stories, and I responded. Here's a taste:

Side effects. By-products.

Are often more interesting. Get rid of the main attraction, take a peek to the side, what’s happening in the margins, out of the spotlight. Distract your mind, put your attention somewhere and let your brain whirr away in the background. By-products can be toxic, altering; side-effects can include twitches, upsets, asymmetry, imbalance. Much more interesting than whole, healthy, walking the straight line. Veer off the main drag, take a detour, walk the darker paths, the roads less taken.
For the full "interview", visit

The Short Review has gift ideas

(Cross-posted with The Short Review blog)

Need gift ideas for the holidays? Look no further, everything you need is in The Short Review's December issue: we have ten short story collections and anthologies to recommend, which wend their way from Cyprus to New York to North Dakota, from the past to the future, from music to magic, fantasy to erotica, monkeys, with much flash fiction and a helping of humour.

Ledra Street by Nora Nadjarian

The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert Heinlein

New York Echoes by Warren Adler

Dirty Girls edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

Dial M for Monkey by Adam Maxwell

Space Magic by David D. Levine

Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks

As in Music by Kathy Page

Night Train by Lise Erdrich

And seven author interviews, with
Nora Nadjarian
Warren Adler
Adam Maxwell
David D. Levine
Christopher Meeks
Kathy Page
Lise Erdrich

It's all here.

Happy New Year, may 2009 be filled with great reading (and many short stories!)


Coat and Shoes in Smokelong

I have been trying for a long time to get a story accepted by Smokelong Quarterly, a flash fiction magazine I admire greatly. Finally, it has come to pass! Read my story, Coat and Shoes, beautifully illustrated by Robinson Accola, and the accompanying interview. I am alongside some fabulous writers: Stefanie Freele, Barry Graham, Kuzhali Manickavel, and names that aren't familiar to me but whose work I look forward to reading. Every issue of SQ is a treat.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Teaching for the first time!

Well tonight was another milestone: the first session of the short story workshop that I am co-teaching with Evan Fallenberg, a wonderful writer and new friend, in the Studio he has created in his capacious garden. And let me tell you, I was really nervous. People were coming, 12 of them, who had paid money and I was supposed to sit there and behave like a kind of authority, someone who knew what she was doing. And I was being paid for it. A whole new experience. I was shaking, I had real stage fright, although all the chairs were in a sort of informal circle. As everyone came in, I noticed them doing that class "thing" where everyone tries to sit as far from Teacher as possible... and that was me! Weird.

But... it was great. Really great. I didn't freeze or say anything too inappropriate, and Evan and I introduced the course and the location, and said what we needed to say. The part of the evening I had been concerned with was the Flash writing session in the second half. I had already heard that some people weren't keen on "writing exercises". Well, to be honest, neither am I. I either want to write or not write. Exercises, for me, such as "describe your character's childhood" or "write about a scene where two people have an argument" don't work for me. But writing to a set of flash prompts, that really does because it taps into that part of my brain that is activated when I am in the "zone".

So I told them all this. I said that this wasn't a writing exercise, but actual writing. I said how I had over 100 flash stories from such flash sessions, several of whom have been published. And they seemed to be happy to try.

Then someone said, Yes but what do we do with what we've written? And this was the part I hadn't wanted to mention til afterwards: the reading out of everyone's rough 1st drafts. I had to reveal that, and say that it would be wonderful if everyone read, but if someone really didn't want to...

Let me say: they all read! And they were all fabulous! Everyone had written a story, or the beginning of one. And each one was different, unique. I got such a thrill out of it, and I hope the others did too - seeing everyone take it seriously, and reading out their work with no hesitation, no disclaimers. It was a joy.

Sadly, I won't be seeing them again for 5 weeks - it is a 12-session course over 6 months, and Evan and I are alternating classes. I am really looking forward to it. A milestone, definitely. Paying me to talk about short stories? How crazy is that?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Scientist Best Books of 2008

I found out yesterday that this morning The White Road and Other Stories was going to be reviewed in New Scientist's Christmas Books Special: Best of 2008. The print edition is in the shops today, it is also online. This is the whole review:
THE title story in this book is everything fiction should be: inspiring, moving, comical, provocative and heartbreaking - and all that in just seven and a half pages. The rest of the stories in this collection are similarly remarkable. Some are also remarkably short: Go Away is, essentially, a well-told joke (and laugh-out-loud funny). Hershman's economy with words cloaks her subtlety and power, though: a second reading uncovers hidden moments in each story. Inspired by scientific progress and science journalism, including articles in New Scientist, and driven by an author dripping with talent, this is as good as modern reading gets.
Those are my italics at the end. I won't rant on here, but this is for me the dream upon the dream coming true. First the book is published, then New Scientist, whose articles inspired half the stories, likes it and decides to reprint the title story. And now... they include it in their Best of 2008! And the reviewer, Michael Brooks, says crazy things like this is as good as modern reading gets.

I don't know what to say.

It is hard to accept that he is talking about my stories. But I will try hard to accept it. Or maybe I shouldn't. As a wise reviewer said to me, read the review, smile, let it go. Because otherwise I might just go wobbly. And how can I hold my (metaphoric) pen and write if I am wobbling??

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Greening" the White Road

When my book was accepted for publication by Salt, one of my first thoughts, when I had stopped jumping up and down and weeping, was that I wanted Eco-Libris, a company founded by Israelis that I had written about when I was a journalist, to "balance out" the paper that would be used to print my short story collection by planting a tree for every book. I got in touch, we all got excited, and you will notice that on the back of The White Road and Other Stories is the beautiful Eco-Libris logo. I pay them a small amount per book and they use the money to plant trees, together with their planting partners in Central America and Africa.

I like their ethos, it speaks to me:
"We believe in providing people with easy and affordable ways to take responsibility for their actions and go green. We don’t believe in preaching doom and gloom. It’s not our style. We do believe in taking action and in the power of small changes to make a big impact."
To this end, they aim to balance out (Eco-Libris doesn't like the term "offset") half a million books by the end of 2009. As well as collaborating with authors and publishers, any reader can go to the website and pay Eco-Libris to balance out their own books.

Well, I was happy enough to be collaborating with Eco-Libris, but I didn't know how much effort they would also put in to publicise my book, which they have written about on all sorts of green websites, for which I am very grateful! And now, I am appearing on the Eco-Libris blog as part of my 11-stop Virtual Book Tour. We're talking about green issues, as well as other topics like living in Israel. A taster:
Q: One eco-friendly option for book lovers is going to the public library. Do you do that? if so, how often?

A: I loved libraries as a child in London, my weekly trip with my Dad, the hushed atmosphere, the miles of free books, so much to read, a seemingly endless supply. Here in Jerusalem, things are a little different. I don't read for pleasure in Hebrew.

We used to live a few doors from the British Council and they had a great English-language library, but budget cuts forced them to close, and I haven't found a replacement. But when we spent a year in the UK for me to do my MA in Creative Writing, we lived in Bristol and I spent a lot of time in all the city's libraries, and even set a story there. I wish there was somewhere here I could go to. But I must confess that I like to buy books and I like to own the books I love. It's a constant struggle.
Read the rest of the blog interview here and if you leave a comment you can win a free book!

Authors - think about doing this yourselves. It doesn't cost a fortune, and, as someone recently said on their blog, if your book becomes a bestseller and it does end up costing more, then you'll be so rich and famous it won't matter! My book is only a teeny drop in that "half a million books" ocean, but every little helps.

A little love from Canongate

I am delighted that independent publishing house Canongate have chosen The Short Review as their Site of the Week on their new "Meet At the Gate" forum and "cultural hub"!

They say:
"Here are Canongate we’re big fans of the short story..... though [The Short Review] may only just be celebrating it’s first anniversary, [Tania's] love and passion for the short story have already brought The Short Review Internet acclaim....In short (pardon the pun), with interviews, reviews and features in abundance this is definitely the place to go if you want to keep your finger on the short story pulse.""
Thank you, Canongate - publishers of story collections by Miranda July and Nam Le - so glad to meet fellow short story lovers.

Check out the full article and don't forget to vote, leave a comment and have a look around Meet At The Gate.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Author interview: Mark Budman

Continuing in the spirit of not talking about myself, I have the great honour of hosting Mark Budman, editor of flash fiction lit mag Vestal Review (for which I used to work as a First Reader) and author of the newly-published novel, My Life at First Try, published by Counterpoint Press. Here is Publishers Weekly's review of the book:

This blazingly fast and funny semi-autobiographical novel follows a Russian man's comically earnest pursuit of the American dream. As a child, Alex, living in 1950s Siberia with his parents and grandparents, sees a picture of his American-born second cousin, Annie, and he believes he has found his destiny. Throughout his formative sexual experiences, he fantasizes about Annie, who embodies the exoticness of Western culture and the wholesomeness of the American dream. By the late 1970s, when Alex's parents decide to decamp for the U.S., Alex packs up his wife and their young daughter, too, and after the trio land in upstate New York, Alex goes to work at the IBM-like HAL Corporation while his wife, Lyuba, an internist, takes longer to settle in. At first, Alex is content with his new freedom-loving democratic identity, but as his children grow and Lyuba becomes more independent the dream begins to lose its sheen. The novel is hilarious, eye-opening and, by the end, a little depressing. It's tough not to have Alex's buoyant energy rub off on the reader.

I talked to Mark over email about the novel:

Tania: How long did it take you to write this book and what was the first section you wrote?
Mark: Well, it took me all my life to write it, but it took me two years to actually put it on paper. I wrote chapter 1 first.

T: What a neat answer, to have started with chapter 1. It took you all your life because it is, more or less, your life story? What made you start two years ago?
M: Original, too. Yes, it's my life story, however I fictionalize it to protect the innocent (I am guilty myself, so I need no protection). My younger daughter urged me to put the book on paper.

T: Was it a story you used to tell your daughters at bedtime? Did they already know a lot of it? Or did she urge you to write it down because she wanted to know?
M: No, I actually kept it mostly to myself. She wanted to know.

T: How was it, exploring something you had kept to yourself for so long? What did it bring up for you? Was it cathartic? Are there parts of Alex that are definitely not you and did this make the process of writing the book easier?
M:It was like quenching thirst. I should have written the book earlier, but I was ashamed to expose myself to the readers. So, yes, it was cathartic, physiologically speaking. As for Alex, he is more adventurous than I am and less inhibited. That's why I made him my spokesman.

T: Quenching a thirst, that's a great way to describe writing a novel! Perhaps you couldn't have written it earlier, I believe things come out when they come out - maybe you weren't thirsty enough before? You have described the book as "a novel in flash stories". You are the editor of the wonderful flash fiction magazine Vestal Review, which publishes stories under 500 words in print and online. What do you love about flash? And was this a conscious choice to write your novel this way?
M: I like the economy and the energy of flash. The ability to say a lot with a few words. As for your question if it was a conscious choice, writing is part art and part science. So you can plan but you need to improvise. Yes, I wanted the chapters to be short, but sometimes they spilled beyond my intended boundaries.

T: You are the co-editor of the You Have Time for This flash anthology but this is your first book. How is it to have a novel published? What are you having to do now to promote it? How much does your publisher do? Any tips for fellow authors who have books to promote (like me, for example!)?
M: When you are a sole author rather than a co-editor, it's like driving your own sports car rather than a rented minivan. Unfortunately, my publisher does very little promotion except for sending a copy to book reviewers. I do most of the work myself through my website and blog, contacting reviewers, blogs and publications. I find reviews of the books that are similar to mine and send a reviewer an e-mail asking if they would be interested in my book.

T: Ok, last question: What's your next project?
M: I have several. A new anthology I co-edit will come come next year from Persea. We still need to add more stories to it. My agent is looking for a home for my next completed novel about two immigrants in search of a diamond.
And I am writing a novel about Lenin.

Busy man! Thanks so much to Mark for taking the time to answer my questions, I wish him much success with My Life at First Try. You can find out more about Mark on his website.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Melissa Bank and Billy Collins on writing

I occasionally listen to the Writers on Writing podcast, and when I saw that Barbara DeMarco Barrett was interviewing Melissa Bank, author of Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing and the Wonder Spot, two of my favourite books - which are really short story collections, not novels - I stopped everything I was doing to listen to it. Melissa is great, dry and funny, and also has a lot of wisdom about her own writing processes, I highly recommended listening to it.

A few interesting things: Melissa said that having always written on computer, she now writes first drafts by hand, to get rid of that urge that comes to instantly revise when you are typing on screen because it's so easy to cut-and-paste, shift things around. She says of her second book the Wonder Spot, that because she "knew this would be published" she didn't have any sense when it was finished and "had to have it ripped from my hands". She often, she says, has to rely on other people to tell her when to stop revising.

She also said something that I just encountered in my writing group's flash writing session this week: I felt that what I was writing wasn't flowing, that I was pushing it, and when I read it out, no-one understood the story, least of all me... and I knew exactly why! Melissa likens it to a ouija board, saying: "If I am pressing down to hard it will just stop." I like that sense that it is something mystical, this business of writing, something otherworldly, and you know, you just know, if you are doing it instead of it doing you.

Also - just listening to an older Writers on Writing podcast interview with poet Billy Collins, who talks about how he feels like a novel is a houseguest, who can be with you for weeks, even longer, where a poem just appears, says something and leaves. I guess a short story is somewhere in between, someone who pops in for tea. He also says that he has no work schedule, he writes as quickly as possible to get it all over with!
I am trying to avoid the difficulty!....There is very little pre-thought about it, lines will come and will form a little rhythm in your head... I am always looking for initiating line, the one that triggers, gets the poem going. ... Some lines have some forward roll to them and they create instant momentum and they drive you into the guts of the poem. And then the problem is how to get out.... The most difficult part of a poem is getting rid of it, getting out and getting back to the rest of your life.... All poems are about one thing, to the poet anyway. They are not about love or death or separation. They are about their own completion... how to drive the poem to some satisfactory, not conclusion or resolution, but some satisfactory line that will bring the poem home and leave the reader with a sense of fulfilment.
He says he knows a poem is working when it does something to him, when
"it wakes you up. When the writer starts paying attention and wondering where is this all getting us and you feel yourself being carried into a new dimension. If the end of a poem arrives at a place that did not exist, was not conceivable before this particular poem began, then I think the poem is exciting, creates an impossible destination."
This really speaks to me, I think it applies to short stories as well as poems, especially flash fiction. Go listen to this podcast too.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Source of Lit: Something for the Weekend

A few recommendations for great reading that I've enjoyed this week (links open new windows so feel free to click 'em all!):

Flash fiction
Missing by Marcia Aldrich, Vestal Review
You Should Know This by Meg Pokrass, Dogzplot
The Meaning of Life by Tom Robbins, Conjunctions

Short Stories
Her Ennead by Matt Bell, Storyglossia
The Dynamics of Windows by Kuzhali Manickavel, Subtropics

Allegory by Kiki Petrosino, Contrary magazine

My Life at First Try by Mark Budman

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Drunk and Lonely Men

Great title for a lit zine, eh? I am honoured that my flash, And Bruised, is published in Drunk and Lonely Men's third issue. These are their submission guidelines:

Submission Guidelines
Depress us.
Send up to 3 of your saddest poems or stories (250 words or less)
We accept simultaneous submissions and reprints, suicide notes and bomb threats.

I am delighted I managed to sufficiently depress them. Always the aim of my writing.
Go read the issue, it's killer stuff.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Supporting those who support us so wonderfully

My publisher, Salt, run by Chris and Jen Hamilton-Emery, works tirelessly to champion poets and short story writers who would, mostly, go un-championed in this odd publishing climate where quality does not turn into sales figures. They are having a very hard time, not having wanted to rely on Arts Council funding, wanting to stand on their own feet, wanting to increase sales, to sell beautiful books, to give readers something fabulous to read. Please support them - and every other small press who works for love and not for profit. Go and browse their site, look through their hundreds of books, many of them award-winning, both poetry and short stories.

As well as their regular discounts, with their exclusive Christmas offer, all books are now a further 13% off, so the total discount is 33%. It's an offer you can't beat, and there really is something for everyone. Buy a few for the readers in your life - there is no greater gift for a reader, in my opinion, than being introduced to a new writer.

And - join Salt's Poetry Bank or the Story Bank: an annual subscription gets you four luxury, first edition hardbacks that Salt picks for you, as well as discounts on other Salt titles, and a free copy of either David Gaffney's wonderful flash fiction collection, Sawn-Off Tales (Story Bank) or Chris Hamilton Emery's own Poets in View (Poetry Bank).

Here are a few book covers to whet your appetite. Click on the images to visit the Salt page:
and yes...some of you might have heard me mention this one:

Happy holiday reading!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Short play comp shortlisting

Well, I asked the universe last night for some guidance as to what my direction should be now... and I got a swift and positive response three hours later: my play, Exchange Rates, which I adapted from my story of the same name, (and is included in The White Road and Other Stories), has been shortlisted for the Total Beast 6-Minute Theatre competition and will be performed, along with the other ten shortlisted entries, some time in 2009. The winner will then be chosen, and will receive 200 pounds and a professional critique of his or her play.

I was Highly Commended in last year's comp for my stage adaptation of the title story of my book, The White Road, so this is wonderful news, and also, it seems, a push in the direction of the theatre. I love theatre, did a lot of acting. So... must think about this some more. Perhaps "flash plays" adapated from flash fiction? There are One-Minute play competitions too!

Monday, December 01, 2008

On the couch... at Eric Forbes' Book Addict's Guide to Good Books

I can't stop talking about myself yet, it seems! My sixth stop on the Walking the White Road virtual book tour has me On the Couch over at Eric Forbes' wonderful Good Books Guide blog. Here is a small snippet:
"Ali Smith and Lorrie Moore are enormous influences; their short stories show me the possibilities of the form, that stories don’t have to be mini-novels, that they can be magical and otherworldly, can play with language. Alice Munro’s stories always inspire me, her language is unfussy, not pretty, not frilly, yet her stories slam into you and leave you reeling."
Read the rest of the interview here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No, I can't

I was going to blog about how wonderful it is to be home again after almost a month away. I was going to blog about the highlights of the last week of my trip - finally meeting the wonderful Sue Guiney, going to the Momaya Press awards ceremony, seeing a great French film with my mother that reminded me of a perfectly-crafted short story (Let's Talk About the Rain). I was going to write a few words of cautionary advice for anyone planning on going to a writing retreat. I was going to blog about what I might be up to this week.

But I can't. I am so distressed by what happened in Mumbai - and what is still happening, because we here know from bitter experience that just because the bombs have stopped exploded, the guns have stopped firing, the terrorists have been killed or detained, this isn't the end of anything. Hundreds of families and friends of the killed and wounded will never be the same, the city will never recover, nor will the country. I know that appalling atrocities are happening everywhere, all the time. Why has this one affected me so much? I don't know.

So, I can't. I can't find a reason to talk about myself, can't find a reason to cheerfully waffle on about short stories, can't find any answer to the question of why, can't see this answer in fiction, in writing fiction, in talking about fiction.

So I will be quiet for a while. I don't want to talk about myself here right now. My virtual book tour continues, and that is making me contemplate and dig deep for the answers to the questions. That will be it for the moment. A moment of silence.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Virtual Book Tour Stop 5: Tim Jones' Books in Trees

The fifth stop on my round-the-world virtual book tour is New Zealand author Tim Jones' blog, Books in the Trees. We're chatting about interstitital fiction, fiction which falls between genres... as well as books, trees, and the number 27! A taster:

Tim: If we consider interstitial fiction as being fiction that crosses, or falls between, genre boundaries, do you regard all or some of the stories in The White Road and Other Stories as being interstitial fiction, and if so, do you feel a kinship with other writers of interstitial fiction?

Tania: Well, strictly speaking, interstitial fiction only exists if you believe in the genre boundaries in the first place. But since we haven't reached a genre-less state yet, I will answer your question. When I wrote the stories in The White Road, I had no thought of genre, of where they might “fit”. Plaits is a story where a woman talks to her knees; in The White Road the main character sets up a cafe in Antarctica; the protagonist of Rainstiffness is temporarily paralyzed every time it rains; the main character of Self Raising makes “scientific” cakes. I don't know where this places my stories!.

Read more here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Leaving France & Second Review of The White Road

I am leaving France today after my three week stay and so I thought I would write a little more about my experiences. I had high expectations, extraordinarily high, due to having been spoiled - twice - by my stays at the Anam Cara writers retreat. Compared to Anam Cara I would describe La Muse, which is in a beautiful setting, very isolated, amazing views, more as "self-catering accomodation for writers and artists", which is different from a cushioned and all-catered retreat. It's not a place where you can think only of your writing, your characters, your plot knots and tangles - there are fires to be lit to keep warm, and three meals a day to be thought out. I didn't "do" all the work I thought I wanted to, but I did sleep a lot, and meet four wonderful people, Cynthia, Adrian, Susan and S, and we five conjured up that magical space of creativity, inspiration, writing and reading, sharing and eating that is what this is all about! Thank you, all four of you, for co-creating this space, in which we cooked together, read to each other, did flash-writing sessions, laughed a lot, drank quite a bit (I introduced them to some great Israeli wine!), and gave the Scrabble board a strenuous workout! A retreat really is only as good as your fellow retreaters, and this really was a wonderful group.
Today I am leaving, and looking forward to reuniting with J, and to going to the Momaya Press short story awards in London tomorrow, and to meeting Sue Guiney on Wednesday, and to finding myself a cupcake, and to hanging out with my family members, and then, then, to be going home, via a convoluted flight plan which involves three take-offs and landings, but will be fine.
To speed me on my way, a second and cheek-reddeningly glowing review for The White Road and Other Stories, from John Lloyd at The BookBag.A little snippet:
There are small links and connections between some of the stories that can be found, if one wants to look for them, but on the whole the book is tempered by the author's excellent ability to bring the global down to a personal level. What is life but for us responding to human biology, the weather, the spirit and energy of the world? That's exactly what Hershman has done, and what she makes her characters do...this collection is one of those rare instances of a sustained brilliance, introducing to me a true artist with a high degree of quality control. I will be eagerly looking for more published works from her – of any length.
Read the rest of the review here on the The BookBag.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Source of Lit

Taking my inspiration from the wonderful Emerging Writers Network, I thought I'd mention just a few of the sources of great writing I've been enjoying recently:

Flash fiction:

The Deadline by Stefanie Freele in the newly launched Gander Press Review

The Table by David Erlewine in Smokelong Quarterly

The Collector of Shiny by Sara Crowley in Every Day Fiction

Going to be Like Miss Marple by Frances Gapper in Wigleaf

Two Minute Silence
by Sarah Hilary in Smokelong

Short Stories

Used to be by Elizabeth Baines in Carve


A Stone for Your Shoe by Vanessa Gebbie in Every Day Poets

Three Poems by Harvey Molloy (thanks to Tim Jones!)


Tangled Roots by Sue Guiney - I had been looking forward to reading this for ages, and was most certainly not disappointed, with its perfect blend of physics, family dynamics and wonderful writing! I will post a proper review soon.

Absent Kisses by Frances Gapper - a wonderful collection of fabulous, funny, odd and moving flash stories.

by A L Kennedy - am half way through and I am blown away by this book, the prose, the characters. Unbelievable.

The Scent of Cinnamon: and Other Stories (Salt Modern Fiction) by Charles Lambert. I've only read a few stories but am loving this collection, it is surprising, dark, witty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star

If you'd like to see me reading two of my stories from The White Road at the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival in Ireland in September, here they are, thanks to the wonderful James and his camera! (It's kind of odd to watch and listen to myself... I don't think it looks much like me!)

Also: a short interview with me on Fictionaut, a great new site for writers. Pop along.

'Plaits' by Tania Hershman on Vimeo.

'North Cold' by Tania Hershman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stop 4 on the Walking the White Road Virtual Book Tour: Let's Talk Religion

Today I am hosted by the wonderful Sue Guiney on her blog, and we're talking about fiction and religion, something I had never thought about before she asked me her thought-provoking questions. A taster:

In a way, the fiction writer's “What if...?” that he or she asks himself is similar to the Talmudic rabbis, who discussed and pondered every possible permutation that occurred to them, every possible behaviour or situation that someone might come up against, in order to formulate a Jewish answer – or more than one! I have studied a little bit of Talmud and find it fascinating, the rabbis were often highly imaginative in the scenarios they thought up and in the ways they formulated solutions to problems.
For the rest of the interview, click here.
For more details about my Virtual Book Tour, visit

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back online, in several ways

I have been Internet-less for the past few days, it was wonderful to get back online today and find 21 comments waiting for me, thank you all for your congratulations, it means so much to me. Must pay in that cheque...

(Just a note: all the links in this blog post open in a new window, so feel free to click without fear of missing anything here!)

In other nice news: I heard about Eyeshot last week through the Literary rejections on display blog, which was talking about the editor, Lee Klein's, legendary and lengthy rejection letters. I thought to myself, Well, let's get me one of those great rejections, and I sent off a new and strange flash story.

Instead, two days later, I got this:
I get so many purportedly "flash fiction" things - short pieces that try to do what you've done here - and although, content-wise, they don't really deliver much less than this piece, formally they don't suspend distraction as well or focus attention for a moment -- a quick, sharp look into a world, which this one does. Thus, I'd like to post it, definitely.
So incredibly nice. The story is now up on Eyeshot. And I am delighted to be there. Thanks, Lee!

Second, I have tried and failed for a long time to get anything accepted by online flash fiction journal Smokelong Quarterly. Finally, to my great delight, I was asked by one of the editors to submit several flash stories. That is a first for me, but I know that being solicited by a magazine is no guarantee of acceptance, so I was doubly thrilled that today they accepted one of the flash stories, Coat and Shoes. It will be published in the next issue, in December, along with an interview with me, I believe.

I'm back in France on the writers retreat now, after all the hubbub of the past few days, between awards ceremonies and the funeral of a dear, dear man, JB. It's nice to be back in the silence, I am determined to "make the most" of this last week of retreating, but not in a way that puts great pressure on me to "do" and "produce". Resting, thinking, contemplating how it will be when I get home; all these will also be "making the most". Here's wishing you all a wonderful week.

PS Next stop on the Walking the White Road virtual book tour: Sue Guiney's Blog, Tues Nov 18th, for a discussion on fiction and religion!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finally... I can tell you what I won!

I've been keeping it in for three months and now, finally, I can announce: I am the European regional winner of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's short story competition. I went to the awards ceremony tonight, it was wonderful, in a beautiful historic building in London, on Pall Mall.

There are more details on the website and you can download an audio version of my very short story, Straight Up, read by a professional actor. I still can't quite believe it...very very thrilling!

Huge congratulations to Julie Curwin, the overall winner, who came over from Canada, and all the other regional winners and highly commended writers, some of whom I had the privilege of meeting tonight. I can't wait to listen to everyone's stories. A great and wonderful celebration of the short story!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Routine inquiries: what goes into a writing 'process'?

A very timely blog on the Guardian today made me laugh and added to my sense that a writing routine, especially for a short story writer, doesn't really work. Now this is a great idea:
The best thing I discovered was the fake commute, recommended by a (non-famous) writer friend: aping one of his own heroes, he gets up every morning, gets dressed, walks around the block several times, and goes home to work. I have adapted this practice by riding my bicycle in a circuitous route through rush-hour traffic, which makes me feel much more serious when I return to write at the table where I've just had breakfast.
Routine inquiries: what goes into a writing 'process'? | Books |
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Retreating is hard

Isn't it gorgeous? This is a rooftop in the small village I am staying in for the writers' retreat. I finally went out of the house yesterday and went for a long, long walk, down the mountainside, along winding roads, to another stunning village where I wandered along the stream and cleared my head.
I have been here for just over a week and I have found it incredibly hard to settle down and "do" anything. I had grand plans for all the projects I was going to work on, but just haven't been able to do any of them. I have been missing home, missing James, missing the cats, missing my favourite cafes, missing all the distractions. Unsettled, I have been carrying on with my normal "routine" of checking email, playing Scrabble, Facebook, etc...I was so desperate for this month, craving it, but now I am here, it's just not quite what I imagined for myself.

But, during my walk yesterday, I realised that I have been retreating. First, I have been sleeping. A lot. And that's not something I had been doing much of since the White Road came out. Two months of almost constant head-spinning, that's how it has felt. Two months of sudden, "Must sell my book" pressure, with confusion over what I am supposed to be doing, how a "published" author behaves, who should I contact to get it out there, so many questions.

So: sleep. Very important. Very welcome. I can do that.

Second, I have made some decisions about what I am not going to do. I am not going to rush into a second book, a collection of flash fiction. I just don't need to. And I am not at all convinced that my flashes would work in a book by themselves, without longer stories interspersed. Not convinced. So, no rush.

Third, this morning I gathered a set of prompts and four of us did a wonderful flash-writing session, where we all wrote for 20 minutes using the same set of prompts and then read out what we had written. Magic. It's always magical, seeing what each person makes of the same fragments of sentences (which I "liberated" from various poems I found online). It's a renewal of faith in that creative process, the one in which there is no story and then, 20 minutes later, here are characters, willed into existence, with lives, loves, desires, pain. We are going to do more of this!

Part of why I am unsettled has to do with the fact that I am leaving the retreat tomorrow for a quick trip to London for an awards ceremony (details will be available Thursday night), so knowing I was going has perhaps stopped me from truly immersing myself. But then I think to myself - would I have immersed? Immersed into what?

I need to let go, let go of the need to "do", and as Cynthia so aptly reminded me this morning, by sending me the link to this blog post: How Getting Nothing Done can Make You More Productive. Yes. Ok. I think I will try that. It's hard.

Perhaps I should have done as Vanessa has on her blog today, set out some goals for her upcoming retreat in Ireland (have a wonderful time!). Perhaps I was unprepared. But I am here now, and must do what I must do - including not pressuring myself to do anything.

On a brighter note, my fellow Salt author Charles Lambert sets off on his own "Something Rich and Strange" Virtual Book Tour with his first appearance, on fellow author and blogger Elizabeth Baines' blog. Do check it out, it's well worth the read, as is his collection. Bon (virtual) voyage, Charles!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stop 3 on the Walking the White Road virtual book tour

Today I'm visiting Vanessa Gebbie's blog for a discussion about magical realism. Here's a taster:

"Only some of the stories in my book would be called magical realist, and that this isn't something I set out consciously to do. Much like you, I imagine, I just follow where the story leads me. If, as happened with the story Rainstiffness, I hear the first line in my head: “When it rains, she stiffens”, I just go with it and am not put off, made nervous by the fact that actually my main character is semi-paralyzed during rainstorms, something I have not heard of happening in “real life”. Many of my stories are far more realist, whatever that means, some are perhaps more in the science fiction realm – not realist enough to be even magical realism. What I am trying to say is that I believe in doing whatever serves a particular story, rather than setting out to write a piece of magical realism."

Read more on Vanessa Gebbie's blog.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


The most ENORMOUS congratulations to my extremely talented, not to mention lovely, writer friend Elaine Chiew, who has scooped one of the biggest prizes in the short story world, the Bridport Prize, for her story, Face. I am so totally thrilled! What a joy, when a friend and a wonderful writer receives recognition for her work. Elaine, spend the money unwisely ;) !

Friday, November 07, 2008

In the Jewish Chronicle!

Thank you to the wonderful Anne Joseph for her article about me in this week's issue of the Jewish Chronicle, Britain's national Jewish newspaper. It's been many years since I appeared between these pages as a character in a local youth club's production of... of...? Oops, forgotten. But this, well this is different (they have called me "triple-award-winning" - quite a build up!)

A taster:
"It seems trendy currently to talk about the death of the short story and it's simply not true. There is a huge amount of activity going on, both in magazines and online. Podcasts are another exciting medium and may well be a way to get short stories across to more people."
Full article here. Someone save me a print copy??

PS More exciting news coming next Thursday, something I haven't been able to talk about yet.... Just thought I'd start building suspense....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

God says Yes

Thank you, thank you to Sarah for bringing this wonderful poem to my attention. It spoke to me so clearly about what I am doing here, on this retreat. (I took the word "short" in the third line to be about the length of the stories I am writing!). May we be inspired, on this exciting day of great potential and change:

God Says Yes to Me
by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Walking the White Road: Stop 2: LiteraryMinded in Australia

The world certainly seems to be a different place to wake up to this morning, excitement and change in the air. For me, I may be in France, but I am also appearing in Australia today, the second leg of my Walking the White Road virtual book tour! A small taster from LiteraryMinded blog author Angela Meyer:
"Tania Hershman takes you on a series of short imaginative adventures in The White Road. Some stories are casual, tough, or laid-back, many are poetic. There are backwards unravellings, fantastical flights, speculated inventions, surprises, cleverness, humour, and scorn. The snapshots vary in tone, and explore possibilities - scientific, technological, emotional. The book is physically bag-sized and each story can be read in a sitting, but are all worthy of full attention."
I talk a bit about inspiration:
Other writers inspire me. Great writing inspires me. Bad writing inspires me. Films, plays, television programmes, magazines, conversations, inspiration comes from every corner.
...and a bit about two eleven-year-old boys. Head over to LiteraryMinded to find out more!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

La Muse: Day 1

I arrived at La Muse writers and artists retreat at midnight last night, so this could still be counted as day one. My journey took rather longer than expected, do to trains being stuck in tunnels between Spain and France, and then more trains not arriving, leaving me sitting for 3 hours on the floor of Narbonne Station, watching the last episode of Mad Men season two on my laptop!

I was a little distressed about it all, not used to being a lone traveller any more, especially not a long traveller with a stupidly heavy case on wheels, when French railway stations seem to pride themselves on their many and steep flights of stairs to get from Platform A to Platform B. Disabled access? A little lacking. But I was assisted by helping hands from behind on every staircase, kind French men who insisted on heaving up my stupidly heavy case for me! That made it all much more bearable. (I gave a free copy of my book to a lovely Austrian guy who went far beyond the call of duty and carried my bag up many many steps when we were forced, because of the stuck train, to get a lift by car from a wonderful French couple from Spain over the border to France to get to the next station. Thank you, A, if you are out there!)

OK. La Muse. Wow. Pictures (taken with new digital camera purchased specially for this purpose):
This is La Muse.
The view.
My living room - just one of the three rooms that are all mine - bathroom (with bath and shower), bedroom and enormous living room with a view of the wooded hills from four windows.

The bed. Large, and with what appears to be the fleece of several sheep to guard against the cold.

I met my fellow retreaters this morning, Susan Pogorzetski, a writer, and Cynthia Morris, writer and artist. (there is also Shahnaz, who was here for October and decided to stay on through La Muse's barter system). We have only met briefly, more later I hope.) We had a get-together with John, who runs La Muse together with his wife Kerry (who will appear tomorrow). Did we have any questions about the ten pages of "guidelines" we had been giving? Reading them at midnight last night was a little nerve-wracking, but ultimately they are about protecting us and making sure we can get as much work done, in peace and quiet, as possible, and that we respect the place and each other.

I do hope it's a productive, inspiring month for all of us. I am nervous I won't make the most of it, but those nerves, obviously, are completely self-destructive. Whatever I do, it's already good. I feel relaxed, the twitch under my eye that has been bugging me for two weeks has gone overnight. (So it wasn't the coffee, yippee!).

I will blog when I feel like it, which might be daily, might not. Not committing to anything!

I just stopped typing for a second and...

complete silence.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Brainwave most likely to strike at 10.04pm

Just came across this:
Brainwaves are least likely to strike in the afternoon, according to a survey that suggests office workers have little chance of solving problems after lunch.The least creative time in the day is 4.33pm, with 92 per cent of people admitting to feeling uninspired in the afternoon.The poll of 1,426 people showed that a quarter of us stay up late burning the midnight oil when seeking inspiration.Taking a shower is the most popular way of getting our creative juices flowing, with 44 per cent of us heading beneath the nozzle when in need of a mental breakthrough.It appears that bathrooms have a key role to play in bringing on brainwaves. ....

The research also showed that 58 per cent of people forget their best ideas by failing to write them down immediately, although women are more successful at keeping note of their brainwaves.A third of all people polled aged 35 or more choose to write notes on the backs of their hands, the poll by the Crowne Plaza hotel chain showed.
(full article here: Brainwave most likely to strike at 10.04pm - Telegraph)

Very very interesting. (Also: Crowne Plaza hotel chain poll??)

This seems to confirm my hunch that I should be working at night... I love night time and was thinking that going on retreat might be the chance to flip my schedule (schedule?) around and work from 10 ish for several hours. I will see if that works. Looking forward to meeting other writers and artists and seeing what works for them.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Fix review and congrats to Vanessa!

There is a great review in The Fix of the 3rd issue of Greatest Uncommon Denominator magazine, which I am honoured to be included in, along with my writer friend Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau.
The theme of GUD #3 is Mechanical Flight. The cover, created by Zak Jarvis, shows parts of a model steam bat. What’s really cool is how on page 205 there are instructions on how to assemble the steam bat. It’s a neat piece of work and ties in with the aesthetic which strives to connect various art forms, thus creating Greatest Uncommon Denominator. Issue #3 is pretty hefty with more than 200 pages of stories, artwork, and poetry.
They give my flash fiction story a brief but extremely kind mention:
Tania Hershman’s “Splitting the Atom” is short and sweet. I can’t say much about it without giving it away. But you won’t want to miss this one
I say don't miss this whole issue, it's the first GUD I have read and I was extremely impressed, an excellent and entertaining read, so full and so diverse. Find out more here.

Secondly, huge congratulations to Vanessa, whose poem made the shortlist of the highly prestigious Bridport Prize. Vanessa, already an award-winning short story writer whose stunning first collection, Words from a Glass Bubble, was published in March, is a new poet, and it seems as though the universe is telling her that she is definitely on the right track. Is there anything this woman can't do?!
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Short Review Guest Blog Post: Randall Brown Gives Thanks

We're delighted to have Randall Brown, author of the newly-published collection of flash fiction Mad to Live (Flume Press) telling us about his process of giving thanks. Here is a taster:
"Recently, I had to write the acknowledgements for a collection of (very) short fiction, and as I thought of person after person to thank, I realized maybe I hadn't been that kind-of mythic, solitary writer of lore, holed away from the world as if in a cave, banging out words that barely can be seen with the light of a single desk lamp.....

The hardest thing for me, as both a person and a writer, to do is to step out of that dark, womb-like cave and take the risks necessary to face the uncertainties inherent in writing stories. While the final answer always resides inside, the outside world of writers and readers have helped me with every single story I've written or published."
Read the rest of the blog post here.