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Creative Writing Retreats

Up your word count and learn with great authors on residential writing retreats.

 

Online Creative Writing Courses

Get writing with the online courses.

Competitions

Get your work read by top literary agents, win cash prizes and get published in the creative writing competitions.

Books

Discover great new authors and read great stories with Retreat West Books.

Win a place on the October Fantastic Flashing course

September 16, 2018
Flash Fiction Competition We love comps at Retreat West and we love flash fiction! So our latest competition is to win a place on the October 2018 Fantastic Flashing online course (15th to 28th). Designed and taught by me, it’ll get you creating oodles of new work, reading lots of flashes to learn about different styles, and I’ll give you feedback on a story at the end. Get more info on the course here. To win a place on the course you have to write a flash story based on the prompt below and send by the deadline. Submit stories through Submittable using the button below. Two writers will be chosen and they’ll both get a free place on the course. Two second place writers will get a half price place on the course.   Competition Prompt Write a list of things associated with autumn and then pick three of them to build a story around. 1st Prize (two available) A place on the October Fantastic Flashing course. 2nd Prize (two available) A 50% discount on the October 2018 Fantastic Flashing course (so course costs  just £87.50) All writers that enter will also receive a free ebook edition of the What Was Left anthology of winning stories from the 2016 RW Short Story and RW Flash Fiction Prizes and a £20 discount if they book on the September course (Retreat West Author Members will get the £20 discount on top of their already discounted course fee). Entry Fee: £5 Deadline: 30th September 2018   Competition Rules Submit stories written in English through Submittable using the button below by 23.59 GMT on the deadline date (sorry late entries will not be included). Do not include your name on the document or submission title but provide a short bio in the body of the email. All entries are read anonymously so any submissions showing the author’s name will be automatically disqualified. Your story must not exceed 200 words. Entries that exceed the word count will be automatically disqualified. The story must be based on the prompt and not have been published online or in print, or have won any other competitions. By entering the competition you agree to take part in the September 2018 Fantastic Flashing online course if you win a free or discounted place. Stories can be in any genre apart from children’s fiction and erotica. YA is allowed. You can enter as many times as you like but all entries must be made separately and the entry fee paid each time. The judge’s decision is final. There are no alternative prizes. Winners will be announced by the 7th October 2018.

Win a How To Write a Page Turner Course

September 3, 2018
Win a How To Write a Page Turner Course We love comps that get you writing more! Our latest one is to win our new online course from Rose McGinty – How To Write a Page Turner. Something we all need to know! There are four prizes up for grabs. The course will teach you about injecting urgency into your stories to keep your readers hooked, as well as how to create great characters, unforgettable dialogue and play with time to up the suspense. What you learn can be used to develop your short stories and novels. So what do you have to do to win? Write a novel opening from the prompt… Competition Prompt Write a 200 word novel opening starting with this sentence: I read it in a book… 1st Prize (two available) A 6-week online How To Write a Page Turner course with feedback from Rose on the story you create. 2nd Prize (two available) A 6-week online How To Write a Page Turner course without feedback. Entry Fee: £5 Deadline: 17th September 2018 Competition Rules Submit novel openings written in English through Submittable using the button below by 23.59 GMT on the deadline date (sorry late entries will not be included). Do not include your name on the document or submission title but provide a short bio in the body of the email. All entries are read anonymously so any submissions showing the author’s name will be automatically disqualified. Your story must not exceed 200 words. Entries that exceed the word count will be automatically disqualified. The story must be based on the prompt and not have been published online or in print, or have won any other competitions. Stories can be in any genre apart from children’s fiction and erotica. YA is allowed. You can enter as many times as you like but all entries must be made separately and the entry fee paid each time. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. There are no alternative prizes. Winners will be announced in October 2018.

Milk Chocolate. Grapes. Earthworm. by Michael Loveday

August 31, 2018
Milk Chocolate. Grapes. Earthworm. Michael Loveday   I told myself it wasn’t my fault. I visited him as often as I could, trekking almost weekly through London down to East Sussex. Things were different in those days, my friends now insist, but even then a faint, familiar pain gnawed at my conscience. I brought him library books – bedraggled poetry anthologies – and found myself repeatedly ferrying slabs of milk chocolate, though I felt shamed – my offerings were so inadequate. *** He tells me his name is Pewee. “With three Es,” he explains – a little apologetically. I’m standing in Highgate Cemetery at my brother’s grave, the tramp sitting crosslegged beside it. I’m clutching a bunch of white daffodils. All about us, headstones lean and topple, suffocated by dark green ivy and ringed by ferns bursting out of the undergrowth. *** In retrospect, we should have noticed – seen the tremors before the construction collapsed. But changes came on imperceptibly. Always the black sheep, mum would say. He’d pour salt in our tea, stare and laugh manically. Back then, no one understood his disease. We left him out of family games; conversations danced in loops around him in the third person. He’d disappear for days. When he came home late at night we locked him out. We pushed and pushed, not realising he’d break. *** The tramp loiters by the darkened archway bolstered by four fluted pillars. He says he doesn’t come here often. I haven’t asked him if he does – he just volunteers the fact with a kind of conspiratorial glance. I think he must be waiting for someone. I can’t see what lies beyond the arch, but I get the feeling it isn’t a velvet chaise longue with someone hand-feeding me grapes. *** Each time we met, though my brother smiled in recognition, something within him seemed absent. The small room bore the atmosphere of a sealed confessional. I wished both of us would confess. My brother, his hurt; and me, my regret. Instead, the minutes ticked onward. Sometimes he drifted towards sleep. He looked peaceful then. I passed these moments gazing out of the window. Rows of vegetable boxes lined the hospital’s small garden, tended in hope of future reaping. *** He keeps poking a nail file into his black candy-floss hair while scrutinizing his face in a mirror glued onto the reverse of an Oddbins loyalty card. An earthworm crawls in and out of the top pocket of his overcoat. He gathers it squirming in his hand and offers it to me – as if to eat. For one moment the ghost of my brother’s face wails in his features. He reaches out his other hand for mine, and – slowly, wordlessly – we waltz.   About the author: Michael Loveday’s flash fiction novella ‘Three Men on the Edge‘ is published by V. Press (2018) and his stories have appeared in journals such as Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine, Funny Bone: Flashing for Comic Relief, and the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2017. He helps to organise the UK Flash Fiction Festival, and is judging the 2019 Bath Novella-in-Flash

Do You Remember Me? by Nancy Ludmerer

August 31, 2018
Do You Remember Me? Nancy Ludmerer   ‘You really remember me?’  he asked on the phone.  ‘After 25 years?’ ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘From Honors Lit.’ He was between jobs, suggested lunch, wanted to discuss the law. At the restaurant, he lied and said I hadn’t changed. I lied too and mouthed the same words about him. He had changed, from a cute sandy-haired kid with a never-ending supply of pot to a jowly sad-eyed fellow in pinstripes. Over salads, we discussed how we both took up law because there was no living in poetry. We spoke about his girl and my boy, both twenty, both named Jamie – how crazy was that? I commiserated because, unlike me, he’d not remarried after divorce and was still brooding about it. In my purse I had the business card of a friend who placed temp lawyers and another card for someone who hired out-of-work attorneys as paralegals – but I wasn’t sure that’s what he meant by I’ll take anything right now. ‘You really remember me?” he asked again. I said I remembered we both loved Delmore Schwartz (which made sense for a Jewish girl from Queens but less so for a prep-school Irish-Scots blue-blood). I remembered when six Honors Lit majors got high and played charades. He acted “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.” I solved it.’ He remembered my kindness. Then his tone changed. ‘Here’s the truth. I spent three years in rehab. My daughter doesn’t speak to me since I stopped paying Skidmore tuition. I can’t even get an interview with a firm – you’re the only person who agreed to meet me. Will I ever work as a lawyer again?’ I said I didn’t know. We sipped coffee. His hand shook and his spoon clattered against a silver dish of vanilla, his nails bitten to the bone. I grabbed the check, opened my purse, saw the two business cards nestled there. Undisturbed. I closed my purse.  Paid the bill. ‘Funny,’ he said. “About the charades. I’d forgotten that.’ Only after we said goodbye and good luck did I confront myself in a storefront window. Unrecognizable.   About the author: Nancy Ludmerer’s short stories and flash fiction appear in Litro, Fish Anthology 2015, Bath Flash Fiction Vols. I and II, Brighton Prize Anthology, Green Mountains Review, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Cimarron Review, Vestal Review, and New Orleans Review, among other fine journals. Her flash fiction has won prizes from Grain, Night Train, Blue Monday Review and River Styx and is reprinted in Best Small Fictions 2016. She lives in New York City with her husband, Malcolm, and cat Sandy, a brave survivor of Superstorm Sandy.   If you’ve enjoyed this story, please let the author know in the comments below.

Winners of the Reunion themed flash competition

August 31, 2018
Themed Flash Competition: Reunion Winners I’ve been reading the shortlist over and over again on different days, at different times, when I’m in different moods, seeing so much in all of them that made me dither over the runners-up repeatedly. But my top spot was never in any doubt from the very first reading. To all writers on the shortlist, well done. I hope to read more of your work soon. Winner: Milk Chocolate. Grapes. Earthworm. by Michael Loveday Why I chose it: This is stunning writing in a story that is both surreal and strange. It feels like a whole lifetime has been captured in these short, disjointed scenes yet it never feels like it is trying to do too much, which is so hard to pull off in flash. And the last line was so unexpected yet ends the story perfectly.   Runner Up: Do You Remember Me? by Nancy Ludmerer Why I chose it: I loved how the theme was played with here to reveal that the narrator no longer knew who she was after meeting up with an old college friend many years later. Words used skilfully to draw stark contrasts between who they had been and who they were now without it seeming like that’s what was happening. Clever stuff.   Runner Up: Agape by Fiona Mackintosh Why I chose it: Again, loved how the theme was used here to reflect a relationship gone awry. I was left questioning how long things had been like it and the atmosphere and descriptive writing is beautiful, cleverly foreshadowing what is to come.     Congratulations to our winners. You can see the shortlist for this competition here; and the longlist here. The blogs have now been updated with the author’s names.   There’s still almost a month to get your flash stories in for the next themed flash comp and be in with a chance of winning up to £400 and getting your story published on the website. The theme is Protest and the deadline is 30th September. Our Retreat West Author Members get entry to the comps included as part of their benefits package, as well as a lots of other great stuff. We hope to read your work soon!