Three years ago, I got a phone call telling me I'd won the Chapter One Promotions International Short Story Prize. It made for a surreal afternoon. I was on my own, halfway through the process of renovating my house – at the point where it looks like you’ve done so much damage you can’t really imagine it ever looking like a proper house again. It was freezing cold because the heating hadn’t been hooked up. I'd taken a break from sanding the skirting boards or some other equally soul-destroying task to eat a sandwich, when my phone rang. After establishing it definitely wasn’t a hoax or a mistake, I hung up and sat on the windowsill for a while. I’d just won a big prize and here I was in a house with no carpets or curtains and bare plaster walls. I couldn’t get a grip on what had happened; it was too much for me to deal with. I tried phoning a few people, but it was a weekday and everyone was at work. I wandered around the house, looking in the empty rooms as though all my friends might be hiding somewhere, ready to jump out and shout, “Surprise!” – but they weren’t. I was on the verge of running out into the street, whooping with joy and hugging strangers. Eventually, though, little by little, it sank in.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, and it took a long time to get hold of the prize money. The main problem, though, was my story seemed to disappear into the ether. The printed anthology appeared, to no fanfare whatsoever, two-and-a-half years later. I was pleased it had made it out into the world, and glad to hear (via Twitter) that a couple of people had read and enjoyed it. But that was it, and I couldn't help but feel disappointed. It remains one of my best stories, a piece I’m proud of and that I think other people will enjoy. I gave the Chapter One anthology a chance to make whatever kind of impact it was going to, and then looked for somewhere that would publish my story and make it available to (potentially) a much broader audience. It worked – it got snapped up pretty quickly, by an online journal I’ve got a lot of respect for. I’m pleased to announce that Us: A Retrospective has just been published in the Valentine’s special of Jersey Devil Press. The other stories are well worth checking out, too - there's a good Godzilla-themed story amongst them, and that's never a bad thing.
In other news, I’ve signed up to Goodreads. I’m not entirely sure how it all works, or what it can do, but I've set up my author profile set up and added my books. If you’re on Goodreads too, please pop over and say hello, or whatever it is you do over there, and if you’ve read either edition of my anthology, I’d be very grateful for any ratings and/or reviews.
I'm judging the Erewash Writers' Group Flash Fiction Competition. Up to 500 words themed around "Start" - it could be the start of something, a couple trying to start over, a car that won't start, you name it. It's free to enter, you can win a copy of Somewhere to Start From, and the winning story will be published on the EWG website (global exposure for your work!). The closing date is 21 March 2013, so get going! I listed a few tips on how to make your story stand out, HERE. Good luck!