Friday, 25 November 2016

Videos of The Apocalypse Alphabet & Other Stories on Sunday 20 November at the SVA in Stroud

Thank you to everyone who came along to our sell-out Stroud Short Stories event - our 13th - at the SVA in Stroud. Our authors received the rapt attention of a hugely supportive and appreciative 70-strong audience.

Chloe Turner writes briefly about the event on her website.

Here are the stories in the order in which they read. Use the link next to the snap to watch/listen to each story on the SSS YouTube Channel.

(Videos by David Penny Snaps by Tim Byford. Thank you both)

Alex Clark reads The Thief

Paul Evans reads Morning Market Monologue by Ken Clements

Ken Clements - author of Morning Market Monologue

Steve Wheeler reads Sculpted Bones

Andrew Stevenson reads Letter of Complaint

Nastasya Parker reads The Apocalypse Alphabet

Chloe Turner reads While the Mynah Bird Watched

Natalie Lee reads The Night

Kate O'Grady reads Porange

Mark Graham reads Wayland Smith-Warrior of the Milky Way

Geoff Mead reads The Acorn and the Oak

If you'd prefer to read it, the text of the story is also on Geoff's website.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Thank you to everyone who came along to last night's sell-out Stroud Short Stories event - our 13th - at the SVA in Stroud. 

Alex Clark, Ken Clements, Steve Wheeler, Andrew Stevenson, Nastasya Parker, Chloe Turner, Natalie Lee, Kate O'Grady, Mark Graham and Geoff Mead read their brilliant stories before an audience of 70 people.

Snaps and videos will follow.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

YouTube Videos of the Stroud Short Stories event at the 2016 Cheltenham Literature Festival

Videos of the seven authors reading at our sell-out fifth birthday event in October are now on our YouTube Channel. Access them via our new tab above or here -

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


The 20 November Stroud Short Stories event 'The Apocalypse Alphabet & Other Stories' has sold out. Now that really was quick! Our authors will read to 70 people at the SVA.

The last seven SSS events have all been sell outs.

Thank you to everyone who has booked their tickets. We look forward to seeing you there. Doors 7.30 for an 8.00 start.


Monday, 7 November 2016

The Apocalypse Alphabet and Other Stories - Sunday 20 November 2016 at the SVA in Stroud

We received 91 stories from 64 writers for our 13th event to be held on Sunday 20 November. I am very grateful to everyone who submitted. The submissions were judged "blind" by Debbie Young and me. Here are the final ten (in librarians' alphabetical order) -

The Acorn and the Oak - Geoff Mead (Kingscote)

The Apocalypse Alphabet - Nastasya Parker (Dursley)

Letter of Complaint - Andrew Stevenson (Nailsworth)

Morning Market Monologue - Ken Clements (Newent)

The Night - Natalie Lee (Stroud)

Porange - Kate O'Grady (Stonehouse)

Sculpted Bones - Steve Wheeler (Stroud)

The Thief - Alex Clark (Cheltenham)

Wayland Smith - Warrior of the Milky Way - Mark Graham (Stroud)

While the Mynah Bird Watched - Chloe Turner (Wotton-under-Edge)

I have no doubt that we will have another brilliant evening of readings, although sadly, many excellent stories have not made it to the final ten.

Eight of our ten authors are new to reading at SSS with only Chloe and Andrew having performed here before. It's certainly the first time we have had an author from Newent, and I think from Stonehouse too.

Massive thanks to the unbelievably busy Debbie Young for sharing judging duties.

Do come along. It's on Sunday 20 November. Doors are at 7.30 for an 8.00 start. It's at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace), John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA. 

Tickets are £7, and are only available in advance (because we may sell out again), and only from the SVA website -

Observations on the short stories submitted

We now expect submissions to SSS to be generally of a high standard, and Debbie Young and I were not disappointed. There were very many genuinely enjoyable stories. Debbie and I found about 25 of them (a kind of unofficial long list) to be of a quality appropriate for our event. It was a devil of a job to wrest ten from our final fifteen though. We had to leave out some great stories.

Is death the new sex? I wrote back in spring that many of the stories received for the April event were based, or at least included, death as a theme. Same again, but this time with an additional smattering of disease. Is the cause Brexit? Trump? Writers will always be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the social and political environment, so such themes are inevitable. But we also have to balance themes when curating an evening's stories. 

SSS regulars know my penchant for amusing, witty or ironic stories and happily three made it to the final ten.

Many short story authors are now writing the even shorter form - flash fiction. The SSS lower limit for submissions is 500 words. We have had a few submitted at that length before, but this time many more. Supporting the case for this form, four of our chosen ten stories weigh in at less than 1,000 words including one at 520 words. Perhaps brevity really is "the soul of wit" (WS). I'll shut up then.


John Holland
Organiser, Stroud Short Stories
Twitter @StroudStories

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tickets for 20 November 2016 Stroud Short Stories event 

+ Snaps of Special SSS Cheltenham LitFest event

Tickets for the 13th SSS event at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace) in John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA on Sunday 20 November at 8pm (Doors 7.30) are now on sale at £7 each from the SVA website -

Do come along. Please note that, because we may sell out, tickets are only available in advance and only from the SVA website.

THANK YOU to all the writers who submitted their stories for this event. As of last night we are closed for submissions. The final total received was 91 stories by 64 authors. Wonderful. My fellow judge Debbie Young and I have already read many, and will continue our task of deciding the final ten before 11 November. We will publish the authors and titles here, but, as always, only after we have informed the authors who submitted their work. (Please note that because we use Mailchimp our emails often arrive in the Promotions Inbox of gmail users).

Stroud Short Stories' Greatest Hits at the 2016 Cheltenham Literature Festival

To celebrate our fifth birthday we held a special SSS event on 10 October at the Cheltenham LitFest. The snaps are below. I chose seven of my favourite stories from the eleven events from 2011 to 2016. We sold out! 140 seats. Huge thanks to the seven authors and to the Cheltenham Literature Festival. And commiserations to Katherine Hunter who was also due to read but couldn't make it. Hope you are feeling much better, Katherine.

(Snaps by Tim Byford. Thank you, Tim)

SSS organiser John Holland introduces the authors

Debbie Young - The Alchemy of Chocolate

Philip Douch - Trog and Kron Almost Get It Right

Ali Bacon - Silver Harvest

Andrew Stevenson - A Good Old-fashioned Copper

Mel Golding - A Small Change

Rick Vick - Seeing
Bill Jones - The Vampires in the Basement

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Stroud Short Stories is open for submissions to our Sunday 20 November event at the SVA in John Street, Stroud at 8pm (doors 7.30)

The last day for submissions is the end of Saturday 29 October.

Ten stories will be chosen and their authors invited to read their story at our 13th event on Sunday 20 November.

It's free to submit. Published or unpublished work. Gloucs & South Gloucs writers. It's an open themed event, so any subject, any genre, any thing! 

Here are the Rules and How to Submit.

Info about our judges is here.

Ticket info will appear on this website.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Line-up and Tickets for the extra-special Cheltenham Literature Festival Stroud Short Stories event Monday 10 October 2016

I imagine that you're not quite as excited as I am about Stroud Short Stories appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October. Frankly, no one could be. Because it's been called 'Greatest Hits' I have had to choose my seven favourite stories from our beginnings in 2011 to the April event this year. That's seven from over a hundred stories read/performed. No easy task - even with the help of SSS founder Bill Jones. 

I like every story in the anthology - and those read since its publication. Some more than others, of course. And I really love quite a lot of them. But seven had to be chosen for the Monday 10 October LitFest special birthday SSS event (starting at 9pm). 

I have done the deed. Here they are in chronological order (They won't be read in this order) -

Bill Jones - The Vampires in the Basement (SSS event Oct 2012)

Philip Douch - Trog and Kron Almost Get It Right (Feb 2013)

Katherine Hunter (formerly Katherine Mitchell) - Holding On (May 2014)

Rick Vick - Seeing (May 2014)

Andrew Stevenson - A Good Old-fashioned Copper (Nov 2015)

Ali Bacon - Silver Harvest (April 2016)

Mel Golding - A Small Change (April 2016)

Congratulations and many thanks indeed to these authors. I think the evening will have a good balance of serious and nuanced writing and the downright silly - and most things between. I will be creating a programme for the evening, in which I plan to name check every single author who has ever read at SSS.

Tickets are £8 (they also charge a transaction fee), and are on sale on the Cheltenham Literature Festival website.

Please come along to support us. It would be really great to see you there.

Don't forget too that we are also currently open for submissions to the 13th SSS event back in the SVA in John Street, Stroud on 20 November. Rules and How to Submit here. Info about the judges here.

Thank you for all your support.

John Holland

Twitter @StroudStories

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

1. Stroud Short Stories is NOW Open for Submissions to our 20 November 2016 Event. Deadline Saturday 29 October.

2. Please come along to see our special one-off birthday event at Cheltenham Literature Festival on Monday 10 October at 9pm to hear the authors read my favourite seven stories from 2011 to 2016.

1. We are now accepting short story submissions for our event on Sunday 20 November at the close of the Stroud Book Festival. The deadline for submissions is the end of Saturday 29 October. 

Ten stories will be selected from those submitted to be read by their authors at Stroud Valleys Artspace (SVA), John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA at 8pm. It will be our 13th event.

This time it's an open theme, so use any subject as the basis of your story. And write in any genre. Or none at all.

As always, submissions are free. We accept both unpublished and previously published work. And we are again seeking stories from writers with connections to Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.

It is essential that you read the Rules & How to Submit before sending us your stories. They are here

We have a new judge this time in the form of short story writer, independent publishing guru and festival organiser Debbie Young, who will share the honours with me. Your stories will be judged "blind" so that the judges will not know your identity. 

Read more about our judges here

The last five events have sold out, and we expect this one to do so. The authors selected will therefore read their stories to an audience of 70 people.  They will also be offered a place in our next anthology - due 2018.

Tickets will be available only online in advance from the SVA website.

Debbie and I are really looking forward to reading your stories.

2. Cheltenham Literature Festival - I'm very excited to say that I will be announcing shortly the names of the seven authors who will be reading my favourite SSS stories from 2011 to 2016 at our special one-off fifth birthday Greatest Hits event on Monday 10 October at 9pm-10.15pm at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Tickets from the Cheltenham Literature Festival website are on sale to Festival members from Wed 31 August at 1pm, and on general sale from Wed 7 September from 1pm.

Please come along and support Stroud Short Stories. It's going to be brilliant (in my view!)

John Holland
Organiser, Stroud Short Stories

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Two SSS events announced for this autumn - including one at the Cheltenham Literature Festival!

Please make a note of these dates in your diary

There will be two more SSS events this year - the normal (but always extraordinary) autumn gig at the SVA in John Street, Stroud which has now been confirmed for 8pm (doors 7.30) on Sunday 20 November - the end of the first Stroud Book Festival. Submissions will open before 1st September and close on Saturday 29 October. Watch this space for more details.

And there will also be a special one-off event - at the 2016 Cheltenham Literature Festival - on Monday 10 October from 9pm to 10.15pm. This will be a special five years birthday celebration event called Stroud Short Stories' Greatest Hits featuring my favourite stories from the beginnings of SSS in 2011 to April this year. Tickets £8 via the Cheltenham LitFest website when it opens. Again more info to follow.

More info about both events will be posted soon. I really hope you can come along and join us.

You can also read a review of April's SSS event by Leah Grant on Good on Paper here.Thanks Leah.

John Holland
Organiser, SSS.
Stroud Short Stories is a non-profit-making event designed to showcase and promote local writers and their writing

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Pictures of the authors reading at our wonderful 24 April 2016 SSS Event

Thank you to everyone who came along for this great evening of short stories. The authors are in the order in which they read.

Snaps by Tim and Cheryl Byford. Thank you both!

Rommy Collingwood reads Dia De Los Muertos

Tim Byford reads his untitled piece
Jan Petrie reads Half a Chance
Jane Gordon-Cumming reads Settling In

Rick Vick reads The Execution 
Ali Bacon reads Silver Harvest
Sarah Hitchcock reads New Glasses
Mel Golding reads A Small Change 
Ken Popple reads A Very Special Day
Mark Rutterford reads Mayfly

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Sunday 24 April 2016 SSS Sold-Out Event 'Los Muertos' Running Order and Authors' Websites

The event is now completely sold-out. The audience will be 70-strong for another outstanding evening of short stories. 

Doors open at 7.30 for an 8.00 start. We normally end about 10.00 - 10.15.

Thank you to everyone who has bought tickets.

(Poster design by Sir Tom Brown. Thanks, Tom!)

This is the running order with the authors' digital links -

1. Dia De Los Muertos - Rommy Collingwood
Twitter - @MyalWoman

2. Untitled - Tim Byford
Twitter - @ByfordTim

3. Half a Chance - Jan Petrie

4. Settling In - Jane Gordon-Cumming
Twitter - @Oxfordwriter

5. The Execution - Rick Vick


6. Silver Harvest - Ali Bacon
Website -
Twitter - @aliBacon

7. New Glasses - Sarah Hitchcock
Twitter - @sarahhitch66

8. A Small Change - Mel Golding
Twitter - @mk_golding

9. A Very Special Day - Ken Popple

10. Mayfly - Mark Rutterford
Twitter - @writingsett

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Our Sunday 24 April 2016 event 'Los Muertos' has sold out.

Thank you to everyone who has bought a ticket and is coming along for what will be a great evening of short stories. We will have an audience of 70 people. Just to confirm that it starts at 8.00. Doors 7.30.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Line-up Announced for 'Los Muertos' - our Sunday 24 April Event + Ticket Info

A big thank you to the 70 Gloucs/S.Gloucs authors who submitted 95 stories for my fellow judge, Nimue Brown, and me to whittle down to the final ten for our April event. 

'Los Muertos' will take place at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace), John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA at 8pm (doors 7.30) on Sunday 24 April.  It is part of the annual Site Festival. Please note that we are recommending ages 16 and over for this one. 

The quality of the submissions was fantastic, and we had to make possibly the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make. The ten stories we have chosen are brilliant - and very varied in content and style. Some nuanced and poignant; others funny and bizarre. And let's not forget gruesome. It's going to be quite an evening.

Here they are - in librarians' alphabetical order -

Dia de Los Muertos - Rommy Collingwood (Stroud)
The Execution - Rick Vick (Stroud)
Half a Chance - Jan Petrie (Sheepscombe)
Mayfly - Mark Rutterford (Filton, South Gloucs.)
New Glasses - Sarah Hitchcock (Stroud)
Settling In - Jane Gordon-Cumming (Minchinhampton)
Silver Harvest - Ali Bacon (Emersons Green, South Gloucs.)
A Small Change - Mel Golding (Brownshill, Stroud)
Untitled - Tim Byford (Randwick)
A Very Special Day - Ken Popple (Stroud)

Seven of these authors have not read at SSS before.

Tickets are only available online from our venue, the SVA. They are £7 this time in order to provide more financial support to the SVA.

Buy your tickets here

The event will not be recorded this time so please come along. And thank you for all your support for SSS.

John Holland
Organiser, Stroud Short Stories

Stroud Short Stories is a twice-yearly non-profit making community event. Our aim is to showcase and promote local writers and their writing.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Stroud Short Stories is now closed for submissions to our 24 April 2016 event. Ticket info below!

The event will be held at the SVA (Stroud Valleys Artspace), John Street, Stroud, GL5 2HA on Sunday 24 April at 8pm. Doors open at 7.30.

Thank you to everyone who sent us their stories. The response has been wonderful. 95 stories were submitted by 70 authors. They have been passed on to our judges, Nimue Brown and SSS organiser John Holland. The titles of the ten stories selected to be read by their authors will be announced as soon as possible and definitely by 8 April.

The event will not be recorded so please do come along.

Tickets for the event are only available online in advance from the SVA website

We always sell out so you may have to move quite quickly.

The event is for people aged 16 and over. Tickets are priced at £7. This is an increase on last year reflecting additional financial support for our venue, the SVA.
Please refer any tickets enquiries to the SVA Tel 01453 751440.