Retreat West Online Flash Fest

18-19 September 2021

Develop your flash skills and get writing

We are really excited to be running our first ever online flash fiction festival this year. 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, literary journal editors and competition readers, 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.

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. Micro stories must be submitted by 23.59 (UK time) on 1st August 2021.


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 18th SeptemberSunday 19th September
10.00 – 10.45: The Retreat West Online Flash Fest Opening
We’re kicking off the weekend with a celebration of all things flash through the launch of our latest prize anthology. We’ll have readings of the winning stories in the 2020 Flash Fiction Prize from Jason Jackson, Rebecca Netley, Electra Rhodes and Morgan Quinn.
10.00 – 10.45: Writing Fantastic Flash with Nuala O’Connor
Tight, brief, tense, and precise, flash fictions throw us in-and-out of the human condition in deep and surprising ways. In this session, we will explore what makes a good flash and, as editor at Splonk, Nuala will outline the kinds of things that make her want to publish a story. Followed by Q&A.
11.00 – 12.00: Sensuality in Flash with Catherine McNamara
Litro’s Flash Fiction editor and flash/short fiction author, Catherine McNamara, will help you addresses fears or obstacles you may have in writing about sex and sensuality in your flash fiction. She will be discussing tools of language, being fearless and dodging turn-off cliches; what not to write, authors who are getting it right, and suggestions about what can be ventured on the page. Through prompts and exercises students will be encouraged to produce a new piece of work.
11.00 – 12.00: The Art of the Micro Fiction with Gaynor Jones
Gaynor is an award-winning writer who has had tiny stories published by Paragraph Planet, AdHoc Fiction, 50 Word Stories, Funny Pearls and the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology. Join her for this insightful and invigorating session crammed with craft tips, prompts and exercises that will teach you the skill of leaving just enough story on the page. Suitable for writers of all levels so  if you’ve never written micro before, now’s your chance!
12.15 – 12.45: Social Gathering
Join breakout Zoom groups to chat with other writers about all things flash (and whatever else you’d like to talk about – we won’t force you to only talk about writing!)
12.15 – 12.45: Social Gathering
Another chance to chat with the other writers at the festival.
12.45 – 13.45: Lunch Break
Sadly we cannot provide virtual lunch so you’ll have to shoot off and get your own!
12.45 – 13.45: Lunch Break
Time to recharge for the final sessions.
14.00 – 15.00: Literary Journal Editors Q&A
Your chance to question the editors of your favourite journals: Steve Campbell from Ellipsis Zine; Janice Leagra from Janus Literary; Tommy Dean from Fractured Lit; and Laura Danks from Virtual Zine.
14.00 – 14.45: Retreat West Reading Team Q&A
Your chance to question the reading team who choose the long and shortlists for the Monthly Micro Fiction and the Themed Flash competitions. The team is made up of Retreat West founder, Amanda Saint; Associate Editor for Fractured Lit and reader for Craft Literary, Amy Barnes; multi-award winning short fiction writer, Joanna Campbell; and multi-genre author of flash, novels and chapbooks, Emma Finlayson-Palmer.
15.15 – 16.00: Crafting Character Complexity in Flash  with Amanda Saint
Retreat West founder, Amanda Saint, will show you how to easily convey three dimensional characters that have real depth in flashes from 75 to 500 words. Using examples of stories that do just that she’ll be getting you to create new characters of your own to build your flash stories around. You’ll discover how character can be conveyed in just a few well-chosen words and sentences. Expect to leave the session with three new characters in your pocket.
15.00 – 16.00: The Narrative Mystique: Embodying the Unexpected Narrator in Flash with K.B. Carle
K.B. lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the Associate Editor at Fractured Lit. and Editor at FlashBack Fiction. She’s been nominated for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize and was one of the winners of Sundress Publications’ 2020 Best of the Net Anthology. In this generative workshop, you’ll play with point of view. Two characters are engaged in a heated argument and decide to breakup. Whose point of view isthis story being told? Is it the main character who’s been emotionally absent for weeks? The character who wishes to try again? Perhaps, this story is told from the perspective of the cockroach on the counter or the couple’s laptop, where several incriminating emails are stored? Or, the story unfolds from the point of view of the couple’s child, who stands in the doorway, trying to make sense of it all. You’ll read stories from the point of view of the unexpected narrator. Main characters will take the form of children, animals, and objects. You will also receive prompts based upon the examples provided and have time to write.

16.15 – 17.00 Day One Close and Winners and Readings
We’ll close the day with readings from the winners of our inaugural Novelette-in-Flash Prize: Ian O’Brien, Tom O’Brien and Donna M. Greenwood. Plus we’ll announce the winners of the micro competition that everyone who comes to the festival can enter in advance of the weekend.

16.15 – 17.15 Festival Close and Award Presentations
We’re ending the festival on a celebratory note too and we’ll be announcing the winners of the new Retreat West Awards.

Festival Costs

You can choose from day or weekend tickets. Our 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

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

Weekend Tickets