Monday, 16 July 2018

Congratulations, John!

Stroud Short Stories Organiser Wins Short Story Award

We interrupt our normal promotion of our events to congratulate Stroud Short Stories Organiser John Holland on winning the Dorset Fiction Award - an award for short stories with fewer than one thousand words. 

John's story 'Cows' - about two people in a car surrounded by a herd of cows - has won him First Prize, £500, and both online and print publication.

The judges' assessment is here

The story - and an interview - is here

Well done, John!


PS The next Stroud Short Stories event is on 11 November 2018. It will be an open theme. We will open for submissions at the beginning of September.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Images from our 16th event 'On Pulling Newts from Ponds & Other Stories' held on 20 May 2018

Poster design by James Holland.
Illustrated by Sarah Chapman
Thank you to everyone who came along on Sunday to our latest sell-out event at the SVA. These are shots of the authors (in the order in which they read) performing their brilliant stories to the appreciative and enthusiastic audience.

87 Gloucestershire writers submitted128 stories to the judges, which equalled our all-time record from 2015. Four of the writers selected made their debuts at SSS, five were reading for the second time and one (Rick Vick) for the seventh time!

Our third author to read on the night, Val Ormrod, was the 100th author to read at a SSS event. Congratulations, Val!

Videos of nine of the ten authors reading are now on our YouTube Channel. See tab above or click here.

Our next event will be on Sunday 11 November 2018 and will be part of the Stroud Book Festival. Submissions will open at the beginning of September.

Very many thanks indeed to Angela Fitch of Angela Fitch Photography and Geoff Moore at for the images.


Nastasya Parker reads 'From Newcastle with Love'

Steve Wheeler reads 'Fashion in Men's Footwear - Late 20th Century'

Val Ormrod reads'The iFairy'

James Northern - author of 'In the Firing Line' 
Ed Holland reads 'In the Firing Line' by James Northern 
Jason Jackson reads 'Here are the New Men'

Joanna Campbell reads 'The Journey to Everywhere'

Sarah Chapman reads 'On Pulling Newts from Ponds' 

Rick Vick reads 'Surprise'

Nick Browne reads 'The Stardust Girl'

Judith Gunn reads '#peace' 

Monday, 30 April 2018

Our 20 May event 'On Pulling Newts from Ponds and Other Stories' has SOLD OUT in record time + Judge's Statement

I was pretty surprised last November when our venue, the SVA, sold all tickets for the SSS event in SIX DAYS. The May event has just SOLD OUT in FIVE DAYS! Thank you to everyone who has bought tickets. Our authors will be reading to an audience of 70 people.

Sometimes 'return' tickets do come my way, so if you'd like to join a waiting list please email me at

87 writers submitted a record-equalling 128 stories for our consideration this time. I am extremely grateful to Ali Bacon, my co-judge for this event, for her wisdom, understanding and conscientiousness. Here is her judge's statement -

'Now that I've been co-judge of Stroud Short Stories for a second time, I can only say it doesn't get any easier! In fact, it seemed more difficult this time to pick out ten. There are always one or two personal favourites, but after these there were so many well-written and engaging stories of what seemed like equal merit that we struggled to come to our decision - hence the first ever SSS 'long-list'.

In terms of theme, although those short story favourites (love, loss, death, relationships and family) did make an appearance, they were by and large treated in an original way or with striking use of language or style. There was also a very liberal sprinkling of off-beat and up-beat stories, and enough humour - from gentle to black - to save us from wallowing in too much emotion. I'm pleased to say that several such stories make an appearance in the final line-up.

There were some stories which didn't quite 'deliver' in the indefinable way a short story should, and some more than a few had an ending we agreed didn't live up to the rest. Unusually we also found the opposite - good endings with less convincing starts! All of these are reminders of how difficult it is to write a really successful short story, especially one for performance, and how an apparently very small thing (like the last line) can make a huge difference.

Finally, I'd like to thank John for the opportunity to read all your wonderful work. I'm looking forward tremendously to hearing our choices read aloud and savouring them again in the new anthology due later in the year.'

The list of the ten authors who will read their stories on 20 May is below.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Here are the Ten Stories and Authors for our 20 May 2018 event + Ticket Information

Thank you to everyone who submitted stories for our 16th event on 20 May. With a record-equalling total of 128 submissions from 87 writers, my co-judge, Ali Bacon, and I had our work cut out. We enjoyed very many of the stories, and seriously considered about fifty excellent tales for the final ten.

All writers who submitted have been informed of our decisions, so I can now share the news here on the website. 

These are the stories you will hear on the night (in librarians' alphabetical order) -

Fashion in Men's Footwear - Late 20th Century - Steve Wheeler (Sheepscombe)
From Newcastle with Love - Nastasya Parker (Dursley)
Here are the New Men - Jason Jackson (Kingswood, South Gloucs)
The iFairy - Val Ormrod (Alvington, Forest of Dean)
In the Firing Line - James Northern (Cheltenham)
The Journey to Everywhere - Joanna Campbell (Bisley)
On Pulling Newts from Ponds - Sarah Chapman (Kings Stanley)
#peace - Judith Gunn (Stroud)
The Stardust Girl - Nick Browne (Cheltenham)
Surprise - Rick Vick (Stroud)

These are truly brilliant stories. Huge congratulations to these authors in such a competitive field. They will be offered publication of their stories in the new Stroud Short Stories Anthology 2015-18 due out this summer. And of course they will read these stories to what will be a packed house at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace) on Sunday 20 May at 8pm (doors 7.30).

As always the Ten includes authors new to SSS. This time there will be four. We welcome and congratulate James, Nick, Sarah and Val. Excitingly, one will be the 100th author to read at a SSS event.

Tickets are on sale

The event is on Sunday 20 May at 8pm (doors at 7.30) at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace), John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA. There is a bar.

Tickets, priced at £8 (including the SVA's booking fee), are on sale from the SVA website. Click on 'Tickets', then the word 'advance' on the SSS advert. Then bob's your haircut. They always sell out in advance. Last November, tickets sold out in just six days. Do not tarry. 

Please note that Stroud Short Stories does not sell the tickets.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Thank you for all your stories - all 128 of them! Stroud Short Stories is now closed for submissions to its 20 May 2018 event

Thank you so much for sending us your stories. 

We have a bumper crop of 128 stories to read, a figure which equals our record for submissions set in March 2015. The 128 stories represent the work of 87 writers.

We will let all writers who have sent us stories know the ten we have chosen by 4 May at the very latest. Earlier if we can. The judges are hard at work.

Tickets for the 20 May event will only be available  from the website of our venue, the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace) in John Street, Stroud in advance of the event. I will try to let you know when they go on sale, but it's worth you checking the SVA's website regularly. The SVA always sells out our event. Our last one sold out in 6 days.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

We are open for your submissions until Saturday 14 April 2018 at 23.59 -  and we still want your stories!

We are still open for submissions for our 20 May event, but we close at the end of Saturday 14 April - at one minute to midnight.  There is no theme for this, our 16th event. So any style, any genre or no genre.

As ever it's free to submit and we accept both published and unpublished stories from Gloucestershire and South Gloucs writers. Ten authors will read their work in front of a capacity audience of 70 short story lovers at 8pm on Sunday 20 May at the SVA in John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA.

For the Rules and How to Submit to the May event click on the tab above or here.

We will be publishing a second anthology later this year and all ten authors will be invited to have their stories published in it.

I am delighted to have inveigled the brilliant author Ali Bacon to judge with me for the second time. 

Check out more info about the judges using the tab above or here.

Can May's event possibly be as good as last November's? That's really up to you, isn't it? There's still lots of time to write something for us. Or you may try us with one of your favourite published stories.

If you want an idea of what we like (and we do like lots of different styles) listen to six of the November stories hereBut remember it's a live lit event, so complex multi-dimensional stories and stories with many voices and lots of dialogue are not best suited to the event.

For the Rules and How to Submit to the May event click on the tab above or here.

What do you have to lose by submitting? As Edwin Starr once said, "Absolutely nothing!"


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Recordings of the authors reading at our 5 November event 'All You Need is Love. Or is it?' are now on the SSS YouTube Channel

Listen to live recordings of Kim Lakin-Smith, Tais Brias Avila, Mel Golding, Mary Flood, Simon Piney and Emma Kernahan reading in front of an audience of 70 at the SVA in Stroud.
They're here.