A new flash of mine went up at the excellent Spelk yesterday. Usually these things come from prompts, but this one emerged out of the blue. Can’t quite remember exactly how it emerged, mind. I think it was probably the mysterious cage that set it going and it acquired a life of its own after that. You are free to add your own interpretations, explanations and back stories as you see fit.
Well, it’s been a while since I last had a book published. Almost three years in fact. So I have to say I’m extremely pleased, not to say relieved, to announce that I have a new short story collection coming out in 2018, courtesy of the excellent Cultured Llama Publishing.
This book is a sort of sequel (or at least follow-up) to 2012’s DOT DASH, and is going to be called DIP FLASH. The running order is still a little fluid, although I can say that there will be fewer of the ultra short pieces, mainly because (1) I haven’t written many of them recently and (2) I’m beginning to think that kind of thing has run its course. As things stand at the moment, most of the stories have been published somewhere or other already, but it will be nice to have them all gathered together in one place. Stories do get lonely, you know.
And in case you were wondering where the title came from, here’s a clue.
Once upon a time I used to have loads of short story and poetry submissions on the go (I think the most I ever had out at the same time was 40). In recent years, however, this flood has dwindled to a mere trickle, mainly – I suppose – because I started getting proper books published.
I do still get a kick out of getting short stuff out there, though, particularly on places like Every Day Fiction, because you get to find out very soon what people think of your work – even if it isn’t always the reaction you were hoping for. So I was very pleased to get an acceptance from them for a piece I sent them recently called ‘Too Old for Suzuki.’ It’s a very slight piece, heavy on the dialogue with not a lot actually happening, so it may get some stick from the readers, but I still like it a lot. I’ll put up a link when it goes live.
Back in April, I wrote a poem. It was (and I appreciate these things are always subjective) intended to be a funny poem. However, I couldn’t work out where to send it, and to cut a long story short, I ended up creating my very own online poetry magazine, specifically aimed at publishing humorous poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis.
Of course, what happened next was that one of the responders to my very first post on SCOMA (still not sure about that acronym – sounds like an unpleasant medical condition) pointed out that a humorous poetry magazine already existed, in the shape of Lighten Up Online. Well, there’s room enough in the world for two humorous poetry magazines, so I went ahead with SCOMA anyway. Doesn’t seem to have done either of us any harm so far.
Having set up SCOMA, I thought the least I could do was send LUO the poem that started the thought process off. So that’s exactly what I did. What’s more, they agreed to publish it, and it went up on their site last week.
The odd thing about it was that in the few months between submission and publication, it’s already become out of date, what with Gawker being sued out of existence. Such are the perils of trying to write up-to-the-minute satire. I can see this is one piece that’s going to evolve over the years.
Is it that time of year already? Apparently it is. A week tomorrow (June 25th) is National Flash Fiction Day, 2016. I think I’m right in saying this is the fifth incarnation of the event, which suggests an impressive level of commitment from Calum Kerr and his loyal band of organisers.
As ever, there was a microfiction competition, for which my very short piece “Saved for Later” was longlisted – although it was up against some stiff competition (take a look at the second prize winner in particular) and got no further. I was slightly anxious that this might mean that I was going to miss being included in the NFFD anthology for the first time ever (as I didn’t even get a free pass this time – for the last couple of years I’ve been a microfiction judge). However, my submission “Family Values” was indeed selected, so my record remains untarnished.
And here’s the book itself – rather striking, don’t you think? You can buy copies here and if you take a look at the list of authors, I think you’ll agree with me that it promises to be rather special.
Had a mildly traumatic few days this week, after an OSX upgrade caused my vintage desktop computer to give up the ghost. It’s lasted almost seven years, so I can’t really complain. What I will say is that, for the third time in recent years, Apple’s Time Machine has proved to be a life-saver. If you rely on a Mac and haven’t set up Time Machine, (1) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? and (2) DO IT NOW.
While all this was going on, I had an acceptance for my poem ‘The Incredible Zabriskie Ponders His Retirement Plan’, which will appear at the excellent Ink, Sweat and Tears in about three months or so from now. I’m really pleased that this one is going to get an airing, as I’m rather fond of it.
Bit of a pre-Christmas flurry of activity going on here. First of all, my story “Phosphorescence” is now up at The Nottingham Review. As I think I mentioned when I posted about its acceptance, it was shortlisted – under a different name – for the Bridport Prize back in 2012 but it’s struggled to find a home ever since. I think the reason for this is that it doesn’t, on the face of it, make a lot of sense. To be honest, I really wasn’t sure what I was doing when I wrote it, but it sort of felt right, so I went with it. I should do this more often.
I’ve also had an acceptance from The Pygmy Giant for my flash “Phocoena Phocoena”. Not sure when this is going to appear, but I’ll let you know.
And finally, I’ve also got something coming up at an old favourite haunt of mine, but I think I’ll keep that under wraps for the time being. Always keep your readership hungry for more, eh?
My cheeky little flash “Graffiti” went up at Spelk the other day. In case you’re wondering where the idea for this came from, I was thinking about the “sword” dangling from Orion’s belt and whether that interpretation might have been somewhat bowdlerised over the years…
In other news, I was chuffed to find out last week that I was one of the finalists in this year’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Award for my short story “Adagio Assai”. I also found out that my humorous flash “Embarrassing Dad” had been accepted for Flash Magazine’s forthcoming “Funny Bone” anthology, which I’d been invited to submit to a while back. I always panic when I get invited to submit to things, because I never know if the piece has been accepted on its merits or simply because I got a free pass. I’d like to think that they could have turned this one down, but I’ll never really know. (This is, incidentally, the same reason why I try to avoid self-publishing – I need to know that whatever I’ve done has succeeded in fooling at least one gatekeeper.)
And finally, I also found out last week that I have passed my MA in Creative Writing. Get me.
A casual viewer of this blog over the last few months would scarcely guess that it’s been running pretty much continuously for seven and a bit years. Time was when I’d be constantly bombarding you with reports about things I’d had accepted or published, to say nothing of the occasional interview or even a review or two. I recently got invited to a couple of events for book bloggers at the Groucho Club, and I felt too embarrassed to go because it’s been so long since I last reviewed anything here.
Still, even though the blog is a bit thin on the ground, I have been writing stuff. TTAAAP is now over 77000 words long and is nearing the final showdown. I’d love to share some nuggets of information about the process I’m going through with it, but it feels a bit presumptuous to do so. I still feel like a complete beginner with this. Perhaps I always will. One thing I can say is that I had a massive wobble last week when I discovered a plot hole the size of a small crater and it seemed like I was going to have to unpick a considerable part of the book in order to fix it. Fortunately, I managed to find an acceptable way of filling it, and I think I can now see my way to the finish. Just one detail to sort out, and we’re done. Then one last edit, and it’s over to the beta readers.
In the meantime, I’ve had a couple of acceptances for short stories. My cheeky little ultra-short, “Graffiti”, has been taken by Spelk, and my slightly longer story, “Phosphorescence”, has been taken by The Nottingham Review. “Phosphorescence” was actually shortlisted in the 2012 Bridport Prize under the name “The Joy Inside”, but it’s been struggling to find a nice home ever since. I’m quite fond of it, even if I still don’t quite understand it. You’ll see what I mean when it gets published.
Back in the middle of September, the excellent Greg McQueen put out a call for stories to make up a new charity anthology, Refugees Welcome, in aid of Syrian refugees. The guidelines were for stories up to 3000 words:
Stories about hope, happiness, humour, stories that somehow shine a light in a dark situation.
I really wanted to submit to this one, for two reasons. Firstly, Greg’s charity anthologies are excellent (I’ve still not quite forgiven myself for failing to submit to the Haiti one, but I was proud to be part of the Pakistan earthquake book). But more importantly, the whole tone of the current debate about refugees sickens me, and the idea of being part of a project that would plaster the phrase ‘Refugees Welcome’ all over the internet appealed to me.
There were, however, a couple of problems. The first one was that the submission deadline was the day after the final deadline for my MA manuscript. The second, slightly trickier one, was that bit about hope, happiness and humour, and shining a light in a dark situation. This is not an area that I am comfortable with. I can do humour (I think) but it tends to be a bit on the dark side. My forte is more in the area of casting a shadow over a light and cheerful situation.
Anyway, in the end I did manage to come up with something that came close to ticking the right boxes and I just squeezed it in before the deadline. And last night I found out that “Pure Blood” was one of the twenty-one stories accepted. Watch out for me boring you about it a bit more when the anthology gets published.
My name's Jonathan Pinnock. I lead a dual life. In one half of this, I run a software development company called Jonathan Pinnock and Associates. If you've come here looking for that, here's where you need to go.
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The bio-historico-musicological-memoir thing Take It Cool was published by Two Ravens Press in July 2014.
The Scott Prize-winning short story collection Dot Dash was published by Salt in November 2012.