2018 Flash Fiction competition

Ready To write

The Askance 2018 Flash Fiction competition is open!

We’re really looking forward to reading your stories, so don’t leave it until the last minute to send them in. There is no theme, just a good story well told, which is really what Askance has always been about. But we do like innovation too, whether that’s in the form or the content. Look at our competition details page for full details of how to enter. And if you have a question then please get in touch.

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Flash Fiction Comp opens on 17th September

Our first flash fiction competition opens for entries on 17th September 2018.

Prizes? Yes, there are prizes! 1st £100, 2nd £50, 3rd £25 plus publication on the Askance website and as much publicity as we can muster.

How many words is ‘flash’? For this competition we mean a minimum of 250 and a maximum of 1000 words.

Any theme? Yes, any theme you like, we’re not telling you what to write.

So what are we looking for? Others express plenty of lofty ambitions about exciting new voices and stories that thrill and entrance etc etc but what it comes right down to is this: a good story, well told. We’re always open to originality of form or content just so long as you keep that basic premise in mind.

Any entry fee? Yes, the entry fee for each story will be £6.00.

We welcome writing from anywhere in the world, previous entries to Askance competitions have come from many countries including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United States and the United Kingdom.

Check back to the website on September 17th details of how to enter. We’ll post it on Facebook too. Get writing!

Dr Abdulrahman Dheyab

abdulrahman photo black and whiteDr. Abdulrahman Dheyab is a London-based Iraqi journalist covering Middle Eastern and Western politics. He has an interest in cultural issues and very much believes in using culture as a soft power to build a bridge between the West and East.

Dheyab studied print journalism at Baghdad University in 1994. However, he did not work in journalism until the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. His media career began with the Iraqi Today newspaper – published by a British publisher – where he covered stories from all over Iraq, including US military operations in more unstable areas. This work put him at real risk from the military, militants groups, and especially terrorists – and he very nearly lost his life on a number of occasions.
In 2005 Dheyab moved to London where he studied for a Masters Degree in International Journalism at City University, specialising in TV journalism. During his studies he also worked as a freelance journalist for news organisations including Channel 4, APTN, BBC, Al-Jazeera English, and as a reporter for Alsharqiya – an Iraqi satellite channel based in London.

In 2007 Dheyab embarked on PhD research exploring the American role in shaping the Iraqi media between 2003-2005. He was awarded a Doctoral Degree in Philosophy from City University, London in December 2011. It is from this research that his book: The Media in Occupied Iraq is mainly drawn.

Dheyab is currently the Director of the Iraqi Cultural Centre in London – which he established in 2012. The Centre is sponsored by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture.  In 2013 he founded a media production company, “Dima”, also based in London, which continues to work with Western TV companies in the Middle East and with Arab and Iraqi TV companies in the UK.

Why Short is Good – a review of “The Edible Anarchist”

Edible Anarchist cover for sharingIf a story is good, does it matter how long it is? Author, Peter Bendall has made me think that maybe it’s time I questioned how and what I read.

I’m not wooed by size, but a big fat work of fiction can provide a crude sense of achievement when its end is reached. A long book can flood the brain with a plot for weeks; a novel can span years of story; and characters can develop and play their part over generations. Some stories come in a series – I am told that authors approaching publishers these days need to convincingly pitch also for book two, three and even four.  We consume fiction as we do the television box-set.  Stories have to be long, and almost as ongoing as a soap opera.

And yet paradoxically, we are also transfixed by the brief.   Our lives are quick and fast.  We need information and entertainment that wastes no time. A 10 second Youtube clip will thrill us.  For our wisdom we read memes, not religious books or essays by philosophers.  We tweet 140 characters rather than writing a letter.

I have to confess that, unless it’s a racing car, speed is not my thing. I actually *like* box-sets, thick books (especially non fiction ones), taking weeks to make an oil painting, long slow walks (not runs), and to cook and eat a lengthy meal with friends rather than snatch a quick take away.

Which leads me to “The Edible Anarchist“.  This book has forced me to break my habits.  Previously I may have associated “brief” with inferior, “short” with less good -slapdash even. When I first heard of the genre of “flash fiction” I thought it a fad and a sad reflection of our times. However Peter Bendall has proved me wrong.  Every single one of his ultra short stories has been carefully crafted, he is like the painter of a miniature, or a skilled watchmaker.

His stories may be brief – most not more than a page long – yet the clear craft in their composition demonstrates a commitment of time in the writing. Not surprising, the writer is a English language expert – a teacher and publisher of grammar texts – his love of language is clear.

The back cover of the book asks, “Can an anarchist be edible?  Is it possible to apprehend yourself? Do radiators contain universes? Can irony kill?”  Bendall’s work is at the same time witty, playful, tragic and deliciously twisted at times.  Two stories that have been shared online are “A Sunny” and “At the Seaside” – one presents itself almost as a quirky grammar exercise, the other defining the end of a relationship – and yet both clearly written by Bendall’s hand.

The Edible Anarchist surely is edible, but despite the brevity of each story, I would recommend it is sampled in courses, and savoured slowly, like the poetic set of dishes that it is. This book of flash fiction is not to be rushed.


The Edible Anarchist is available in paperback priced £7.99 and on Kindle for £1.99

At the Seaside

Susan and Jim went to the seaside with their cat Frantenskein. Frantenskein played happily on the beach while Susan and Jim sat eating sandwiches and drinking lemonade. As Frantenskein was destroying a sandcastle, he caught sight of a kite falling into the sea and rushed off to try and catch it, but was soon tossed hither and thither by the incoming waves. Seeing the cat in trouble in the salty water, Jim dived in to save him. While he and the impetuous animal were engaged in their life and death struggle with the elements, the lemonade bottle exploded and made a ghastly stain all over Susan’s new dress. In her anger and dismay, Susan left the picnic things on the beach and caught a train to London, where she found a new life as the director of a large corporation. She never discovered what became of Jim and Frantenskein, though in later years she occasionally thought of them with a modicum of sympathy and regret.

(If Susan is still alive and happens to be reading this, she should know that her abrupt abandonment of Jim and Frantenskein did not cause lasting damage to either of them. Frantenskein was destined to die young in any case, and Jim soon pulled himself together. In time he became a moderately successful drummer in a jazz band. His later alcoholism had nothing to do with the beach incident – at least, he always denied it).


This short story was written by Peter Bendall  At the Seaside is one of over a hundred very short stories published in “THE EDIBLE ANARCHIST – and other sentimental tales” – visit the webpage to buy a copy.

Short Story Competition – closes 31st May

It’s time to remind you that our competition closes in 20 days time, on 31st May. We have received a fair amount of entries so far – but not as many international stories as in previous years.  Remember that we accept entries from anywhere in the world. So get writing!  Full details are on our competition pages.  We are looking forward to a good read in June and handing out a cash price in the autumn.