Retreat West Online Flash Fest

5-6 March 2022

Develop your flash skills and get writing

We had such a brilliant time at our first ever online flash fiction festival last year that we’re doing it all again! As you know, we’re mad about all things flash at Retreat West so we’ve put together a fantastic lineup of flash fiction writers, tutors and literary journal editors to bring you workshops, readings, panel discussions, Q&As and a whole lot of flash fun!

Get published

Everyone who comes along has the chance to get published in the festival anthology, details of what we’re looking for will be announced over the weekend and you’ll have 2 months after the festival takes place to submit. Everyone who is included in the anthology will receive a free paperback copy when we publish it in 2022 and will be eligible to win our new annual Retreat West Awards.

Win prizes

For the festival competition you can submit a micro story in advance to a prompt given when you book. Winners and their prizes will be announced at the festival and their stories published on our website. Winners of the competition at the last festival won places on our Experiments in Flash and Fantastic Flashing courses, mentoring sessions and editorial feedback on flash stories.


If you can’t make the sessions live, everyone who has booked a ticket will be sent recordings of the events after the weekend so that they can catch up on what they missed, or just enjoy it all over again!

Saturday 5th March

10.00 – 10.45: The Retreat West Online Flash Fest Opening & Birthday Party

We’re kicking off the weekend with a celebration of all things flash and all things Retreat West with the launch of our 10th Birthday Anthology. Yes Retreat West turns 10 in 2022! We’ll invite some of the writers featured in the anthology to read at the launch. Submission for the anthology are open until 28th November 2021. See all the info here.

11.00 – 12.30 – Masterclass
Where the Shell Meets the Story: Hermit Crab Flash Fiction with Cheryl Pappas

What happens when you take an ordinary, familiar structure, such as a bank statement or a recipe,  and fill it with story? Cheryl Pappas will introduce this innovative form, showing how sparks fly when you juxtapose familiar elements with rich narrative. She’ll offer close readings of stellar examples and offer in-class prompts, with time for writers to share some responses and ask questions.   

Cheryl Pappas is an American writer from Boston. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry ReviewJukedSmokeLong QuarterlyThe Chattahoochee Review, and more. She is author of the flash fiction chapbook The Clarity of Hunger (Word West Press, 2021). Her website is and you can find her on Twitter at @fabulistpappas.

12.30 – 13.00 – Social Zoom
Meet other writers in Zoom breakout groups.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch
Time to fuel up for the afternoon sessions.

14.00 – 15.00 Workshop
Using Tropes to Fuel Flash Fiction with Meghan Phillips

As writers, especially when we’re starting out, we’re told to avoid tropes in our writing, but tropes have a universal appeal and understanding that can quickly usher the reader into the world of the story. In this generative workshop, we’ll use tropes, primarily from fairy tales and horror, as an entry point for our flash and explore the ways in which twisting or subverting these tropes can help us craft fresh, exciting stories. 

Meghan Phillips is the author of the flash fiction chapbook Abstinence Only (Barrelhouse). Her short fiction has appeared in HobartFractured LiteraryHayden’s Ferry Review online, and wigleaf among others, and has been anthologized in Best Microfiction 2019, 2020, & 2021 and The Best Small Fictions 2019. She was a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. You can find her writing at and her tweets at @mcarphil

15.15 – 16.15 Workshop
Beautiful Worlds: Lyrical techniques for bringing place to life with Matt Kendrick

Constrained by the need for concision that goes hand in hand with writing flash fiction, how do we paint a clear picture in a reader’s mind without using up too much of our precious word count? Some writers have a knack for the evocative and, in this workshop, we’ll be focusing on one brilliant example of place-writing, exploring the way it builds a beautiful world to enhance both character and story.

Matt Kendrick is a writer, editor and creative writing teacher whose work has appeared in Cheap Pop, Craft Literary, FlashBack Fiction, Fictive Dream, New Flash Fiction Review and elsewhere.

16.30 – 17.00 – Close and Winner Announcements

We’ll end the first day with the announcements of the winners of our 2021 Novelette-in-Flash competition (still time to enter here!) and the festival micro competition.

Sunday 6th March

10.00 – 10.45: Keynote
Building the layers of flash fiction with Anita Goveas

Flash fiction is its own art form, but it can teach many skills that can be applied to all types of writing. In this session we will examine what flash fiction can show us about using mood, tone, character and structure and Anita will discuss what draws her into writing shorter stories.

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, and London-based and once killed a cactus. . She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Microfictions and a Pushcart prize, has two stories in Best Microfictions 2019, and made the BIFFY 50 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 lists and the 2021 Wigleaf Top 50 list. She is part of the Koyal Writers group and teaches flash fiction workshops with Farhana Khalique. 

She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer Her debut flash collection, ‘Families and other natural disasters’, is available from Reflex Press, and links to her stories are at 

11.00 – 12.30 – Masterclass
Flash Perspectives: Exploring Narrative Voice in Short Fiction with Emily Devane

Narrative voice is the lens through which a story is experienced. This might range from close to distant, confessional to coolly objective, authoritative to unreliable. Flash fiction is the perfect form for playing with perspective. In this interactive session packed with examples, tips and exercises, Emily Devane will explore how narrative voice affects the reader’s experience. There will be opportunities to experiment, discuss and share ideas.

Emily Devane is an award-winning writer, teacher and editor living in West Yorkshire. She has won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, a Northern Writers’ Award and a Word Factory Apprenticeship. Her stories have been nominated for Best Small Fictions (finalist), a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net (finalist). Recent publications include Lost Balloon, Smokelong Quarterly, New Flash Fiction Review and Best Microfictions. Emily is a founding editor at historical flash fiction journal FlashBack Fiction, and she co-hosts Word Factory’s Strike! Short Story Club.

12.30 – 13.00 – Social Zoom
Meet other writers in Zoom breakout groups.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch
Time to fuel up for the afternoon sessions.

14.00 – 15.00 – Workshop
Using the everyday to inspire flash fiction with Susmita Bhattacharya

This workshop will focus on writing the mundane with a sensory spark using audio-visual writing prompts to discover the senses in everyday experiences. Keeping a ‘Senses Diary’ to inspire flash fiction. A writing workshop that will heighten your awareness of the world around them.

Susmita Bhattacharya is an Indian-born writer and creative writing lecturer. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian, 2015, BEE Books, India 2016) was long-listed for the Word to Screen Prize at the Mumbai Film Festival, 2018. Her short story collection, Table Manners (Dahlia Publishing, 2018) won the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection (2019) and was a finalist for the Hall & Woodhouse DLF Prize, 2019. Her short stories have been featured on BBC Radio 4.

She teaches creative writing at Winchester University, facilitates the ArtfulScribe Mayflower Young Writers programme in Southampton and has been involved in several Mayflower 400 projects in 2020. She was a mentor on Dahlia Publishing’s The Middle Way Mentoring Project. She was also the Writer-in-Residence at the Word Factory, London in 2021. She lives in Winchester. 

15.15 – 16.15 – Literary Journal Editor’s Q&A
Panel discussion

Christopher Allen is the editor-in-chief of SmokeLong Quarterly and the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press). His work has appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2019, Indiana Review, Booth, Split Lip Magazine, Longleaf Review, and elsewhere. A regular workshop leader at the UK Flash Fiction Festival and a teacher for almost three decades, Allen is a nomad. 

Judy Darley is Flash Fiction Editor at Reflex Press and has co-judged competitions for National Flash Fiction Day and Oxford Flash Fiction Prize. Judy is a British fiction writer, poet and journalist who can’t stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. Her flash fiction has been published in the UK, Canada, US, New Zealand and India, including by Retreat WestCypressThe Mechanics’ Institute Review and The Pomegranate.  She is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me to the Bees (Tangent Books). Her third collection, The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain, will be published by Reflex Press in 2022. You can find Judy at and

J. Archer Avary (he/him) is is the founder of Sledgehammer Lit. He’s a writer based in South Tyneside. He’s got one novella to his name (The Dog Ditter, 2021, Daily Drunk Press) and his work has appeared in many journals, including Punk Noir Magazine, 3 Moon Magazine and White Wall Review. He is excited about new writing projects in the works.

16.30 – 17.00 Close and Open Mic

Volunteer to read a story created over the weekend at the open mic session closing of the festival.

Festival Costs

You can choose from day or weekend tickets. Our community members get reduced rate tickets.

We have a number of free tickets available to unemployed and low-income writers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to attend. Email us at to request one.

If you would like to donate a ticket for someone, get in touch and we’ll sort that out with you.

Member PricesNon-Member Prices
Day Tickets £35Day Tickets: £40
Weekend Tickets: £65Weekend Tickets: £75

Recordings Only Tickets

Does the time zone or dates not work for you? We are now also offering Recordings Only tickets for those who can’t make it live!

You won’t get to take part in the competitions or be able to submit for the anthology but you can watch all of the fantastic masterclasses, workshops, readings and Q&A sessions whenever suits you best. All for just £35!

Buying Tickets

If you are a member of our community, then please login to the community website and access the ticket sales page on there to get your reduced rate tickets. If you’re not a member you can book using the buttons below, or you can join our community here.

Day Tickets (only 5 left for each day!)

Weekend Tickets (only 25 left!)

Recordings Only Tickets