Tuesday, 22 November 2016

SHORT STORY COMPETITION: The Brighton Prize Flash Fiction

Dear all,

Here is my last short story competition entry blog post for the year. I entered more but some of the longer pieces I have decided to include in a collection sometime next year. From August onwards I did not enter any further competitions because I focussed on one particular short story that developed into a 30k word piece and I will release that as an individual short story either just before or just after Christmas. During the year, while making note of suitable competitions, I noted around 90 that I could feasibly enter and once I have finished this 30k piece I will have to decide what time I want to spend on entering these in 2017. I do need to plan ahead as I desperately want to get back to working on my novel. Yet, I do feel I improved this year through entering competitions and I have dozens of ideas (most of which have actually been started) ready to go. I am not the fastest of writers and I am concerned about not finding the right balance. I feel it is very important to finish my novel and I do not want to leave it much longer. Also, my colleagues at Thinking Plainly have nearly completed their latest works and so we have a lot of work ahead finishing those and getting them out there. It will be a busy winter that I am looking forward to.

I'll keep you posted... but for now, here's the last of 2016's entries to share with you. Until you buy my ebooks in the new year that is ;)

The Brighton Prize
The maximum word count was 350 and there was no given theme.

Form Filling

Her jaw jutted forward as if her response would normally flow. The flinch rattled her grey fringe, and her composure with it. In one sweeping motion she raises her glasses from her chest, tied around her neck by a fraying shoelace, high to the top of her head, clamping the loose hair.
‘I mean, you know, it’s… it’s… look, just put it down for now, we can change it later,’ mum said. She was scrabbling for words, talking to me like I was five years old.
‘Up to you. Leave it if you want… just because I- ’
‘I know I can put what I like, thank you very much,’
Her eyes widen and the look of a thousand tellings-off creeps into her expression. She knows not to bother making a fuss though; it’s an argument neither of us can win. It’s just a form, she thinks.
‘Leave it at that please,’ mum says. She stares at the screen, ready to tackle the next page.
‘All done,’
‘That’s it?’
‘Yep. Nothing more to add, we’ve put in all the details they want,’
‘Oh. Lovely. Didn’t take long!’
She smiles and pats me on the shoulder as she leaves. I watch her lower her glasses and let her hair fall, her way of showing relief. My hand almost reaches out to grab her, to pull her back and smash her face into the screen.
‘Bye! Anything else, just give me a shout!’ I say cheerily.
‘Thank you love!’
Her voice fades as she enters the kitchen and I hear the kettle click. I look at the form and press the icon that takes me back to the previous page. I see the word ‘Catholic’ and tap it. From the drop down selection I pick ‘No Religion’ and replace her choice. I nod in silence. After all this time she still feels pressured. She doesn’t even know how indoctrinated she is, that’s the problem. For all her success… underneath it all, she still can’t be herself. I’m doing her a favour.
Submit details?

There we go; now it’s really all done.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

SHORT STORY COMPETITION: The Bridport Prize (Flash Fiction)

Dear all,

One more competition entry I can now blog as the time period for selection has passed. This time it was flash fiction with a maximum word count of 250.

The Bridport Prize (Flash Fiction)

Self Portrait

Damn this chair! I’m catching a layer of dirty air that overlays a prismatic array of coloured mist across my face. That will not do! The angle of my neck is impossible, I will not lie, but the bulging veins and lizard skin are forcing my hand. That will not do! Holding my shoulders back, high and wide with chin up and jutting jaw stating my place in the world corrupts the mirror. The thinning blue tint of the morning strangles me but the afternoon grey is too dark and ages unfairly. The person I am is not being seen! This amalgam of oils cannot distill the tricks this room is playing. That will not do! I want to be remembered for all the dreams I had, to hell with life’s limitations and barricades. Shame on them! That will not do! My eyes tell of other people’s failures and I am more than their disappointments, more than the crooked eyebrows and sunken cheeks that rob me of my influence… my passion must live on in black gold grandeur… but this room… It will not do! 

Have a great weekend,

R.G Rankine

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Dear all,

Here's a short story competition entry I can now blog as the time period for selection has passed. Check out the competition on the link below. The maximum word count was 800 and the theme was 'nostalgia'.

Creative Competitor 

Raise the Drawbridge

I would like to go back five years, not six hundred. What did you do Henry? Once discarded, why not destroy it all so I would have no reminder?
Over the waving white blossom I see three white towers and behind those, one mile or perhaps a million, the rocket ship of St George’s Wharf Tower. My dislocation has found some comfort.
I had a misfortune today, or rather three. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! My triptych trauma! How did Henry deal with a repetition in name and in pain? His crāwe-in-the-throat of Catherines? Good Henry, bad Henry! I command thee arise and help me! Well… maybe it is best not to ask. 
From 1935 I entered 1479 and smiled at the steel within the trusses, the beauty of the old and the new, the will to survive, of how to grow old gracefully. There is always a way! A thigh high wooden table, its two carved legs as stout to my own as a lumberjack’s neck is to a baby’s finger, made me want to smash down a goblet of mead on its aged but polished surface. A Visitors Book lay on top, open with pen askew. It is four o’clock in the afternoon now, so it would have been nearly three then, on a Thursday so the pages were full of names from the week’s activity. There, in time and in place, both the here and now, and my every waking moment, is her name repeated: once, twice and thrice! How can it be that three guests with the same name appear in sequence? What cruel mockery did the universe employ for its pleasure, hurting me with its Royal Flush of coincidence? Light from the blue sky fell over the gallery-come-lately, the ancient seeming crisscrossed stained glass, the Sun and the Rose, posing my shock cinematic. Was it a sunny day when she was here too? I cannot remember. I feel her looking at me, smiling in the Wild Flower Meadow; I feel her press against me as we navigate through the crowds in the narrow opening of the Sunken Rose Garden and I feel the heat of her legs as they lay over my lap on the South Lawn, but… I cannot remember. There is no joy imagining feasts instead of silent-headphoned-tourists as I peer over the edge, the creaking floorboards urging me to shuffle forth. I wish I could be back there, centuries before she was born so I would never know. I could be the fool or the King, and be released. I look up and wonder if the eavesdroppers remember us and I picture her face, but… I cannot remember. We had walked amongst the present and the history, wrapped up in no one’s procession but ours; that day was the trumpet call of our future. Half a decade later, a blink for the Great Hall, a lifetime for me, and I have managed a day-to-day acceptance. I do not remember what I do not allow to be thought, and I do not miss what I deny had existed. Then I see her name, threefold, and I remember I loved her and I love her still. The empty palace holds its own memories and now it holds mine. 
I cross the North Stone Bridge and leave the past behind for today, yet she walks by my side, her hand in mine, while I plead for a future as the willow weeps.

Have a great week all,

R.G Rankine