Category Archives: online

The Willesden Prize, Stories and Tunnels

Stephen Moran, head honcho of the Willesden Herald, has invited me to judge this year’s Willesden Prize, aka ‘The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition 2017’, and I’m a bit worried I won’t be up to the job, because the only thing I’m good for right now is listening to music (mostly, this past week or so, The Psychedelic Furs). This month I’ve also started, but not finished reading, several lengthy novels. I’m hoping it won’t be like that when it comes to reading the shortlist. The not finishing, I mean. But then, it’s rare for me not to finish a short story, or not hear the end of a song. No doubt commitment comes into it. The end of a novel or TV series can feel so far off you’ll never get there, and sometimes it seems the writers have had trouble getting there, too.

But songs and stories tunnel into their content instead of finding ways around or over it. I love tunnels: old railway tunnels, foot tunnels, even disused mines, especially when they lead somewhere unexpected. Another country, an underground concert, a beach with no visible path leading to it…


(…not a request for stories featuring tunnels as much as for surprises.) If you’re thinking of giving this a go, here’s a bit more info.

The Willesden Herald New Short Stories Competition

The Willesden Prize is open to anyone, anywhere, writing short stories in English. Length and theme are unimportant – just send the best unpublished piece you have, up to a max of 7500 words. Entries are read blind.

Closing date: August 31

Entries must be sent via the online entry page, with an entry fee of £7.50.

Winners anthology

The winners announcement will be made probably in October or November.  Stories by the ten shortlisted writers will be included in the a paperback book to be published, by December 2017, “Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 10”. (If you’re curious,  find the back issues here.) Each contributing writer will receive two comp copies. Entry fees help pay for the anthology and prizes.

£1200 in prizes

This prize is not all about the money, far from it. Everyone who works on it, sifting, doing admin, judging and editing the anthology, does so on a voluntary basis — but… A prize fund of £1,200 will be split between the 10 shortlisted writers. The winner receives a Willesden Herald mug plus £300, the runner-up £200, and 8 short-listed writers each receive £75.

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an Alt.Valentine Story of the Month on Seren Books

Read this story on the Seren website

Resolution – no phone?


You could call this is not a resolution so much as entropy. My old and battered smartphone has turned into some kind of phone sandwich. Instead of replacing it, I’m giving it go without.

  • Plusses
  • More time for other things
  • More money for other things
  • Not having to charge the phone
  • Not having to carry it everywhere, and worry about losing it
  • No  last-minute tweak option for meetings
  • Minuses
  • Am not always carrying a camera (sometimes a plus)
  • Sometime need to use other methods to replace texting
  • No last-minute tweak option for meetings




This little story was written in 2015 and accepted early this year. For editorial reasons there was a gap between acceptance and publication, during which time several people read @2016EvieSo big thanks are due to Flo, Siófra, Brendan, and Fachtna for their encouragement. Thanks also to the publisher, Number Eleven magazine — great to see @2016EVIE up there because it’s a lovely magazine to read. Ive been enjoying the current issue which features new stories by Eoin Devereux, Carolyn Batcheler, Gerard McKeown, and others. Two memorable (and somewhat thematically linked) stories from previous issues are Marie Kennedy’s Two Sheets to The Wind and Claire Hennessy’s This is Not the Story, and it’s nice to know that @2016EVIE is now keeping them company.


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Chernobyl Cherries

There’s a cherry tree in the back yard, but it’s too tall. The birds get the cherries, and I get to sweep up the stones. Still, it’s magic when in bloom.

One time that I did eat lots of cherries was in Greece, in 1986, and it’s the subject of my one page story, Chernobyl Cherries, published this month by Transnational Literature. I found out years later that cherries were off most people’s shopping lists in Greece that year, which explains how affordable they were. 

If this little flashback inspires you to read more, either as reinvestigation if you were alive in 1986, or social history if you were not, then try dipping into Gennady Grushevoy’s ‘Monologue on Cartesian philosophy and on eating a radioactive sandwich with someone so as not to be ashamed’ from the current issue of Five Dials.


Monologue on Cartesian philosophy and on eating a radioactive sandwichis published in the oral history book Voices from Chernobyl, and online at Five Dials. Gennady Grushevoy was chair of Children of Chernobyl and taught philosophy at Belarusian State University.
Chernobyl Cherries by Lane Ashfeldt is published in the Winter 2016 edition of Transnational Literature.