The Online Flash Fest

We’re so excited to be holding our third Online Flash Fest this autumn and we have another brilliant line-up of flash writers joining hosts, Amanda Saint and Gaynor Jones. See the full line-up below.

Writers from all over the world who came to our previous events said:

Thank you @RetreatWest for an amazing weekend. During the Flash Fest, I felt I was learning a lot, but today when I read my notes from the sessions, I saw how much great advice and insights were passed on to us. These two days made me realize why I love writing flash fiction.


What a weekend! Thank you for organising so many interesting and thought provoking sessions.


I loved it all. Thoughtful, helpful, inspiring presentations. Beautifully organized.


So much energy, so much talent – loved every minute.


Saturday 17th September

10.00 – 10.45: The Online Flash Fest Opening & Anthology Launch Party

We’re kicking off the weekend with a celebration of all things flash with the launch of our lates anthology — the winning stories in the 2021 Retreat West Prize. We’ll have readings of a selection of flash and micro stories from the anthology. Plus we’ll reveal the details of the festival competition in which courses, feedback and mentoring prizes will be up for grabs!

11.00 – 12.30 – Masterclass
Pacing Genre Flash with Ross Jeffery

In this genre flash masterclass, Ross Jeffery will show you how how flash storytelling need not compromise on character or genre-specific conventions.

Ross Jeffery is the Bram Stoker nominated and 3x Splatterpunk Award-nominated author of Tome, Juniper, Scorched, Only The Stains Remain, Milk Kisses & Other stories, Beautiful Atrocities & Tethered. He has been published in print with a number of anthologies and his short fiction has also appeared in various online journals. Ross lives in Bristol with his wife (Anna) and two children (Eva and Sophie). You can follow him on Twitter here @RossJeffery_

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
Collaborative Flash Writing with Meg Pokrass and Rosie Garland

Discover the creative potential of working with another writer. A workshop exploring the creative duet of collaborative writing, and how and where to begin. Using a variety of readings and discussion, Meg Pokrass & Rosie Garland will introduce participants to collaborative writing. Their collaborative flash fictions have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize & Best Small Fictions 2022. They will draw on their own experience of building a successful writing partnership, with insights on how it can be done. With plenty of time for participants’ questions, they will reflect on the positives & potential pitfalls of writing collaboratively – not forgetting the sheer darn fun.

Meg is the author of six flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash and a collection of microfiction, ‘Spinning to Mars’ – recipient of the Blue Light Book Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Wigleaf, Waxwing and McSweeney’s. She is the Series Founder and Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.

Writer and singer with post-punk band The March Violets, Rosie writes poetry, prose and things that fall between & outside. Her latest collection ‘What Girls do the Dark’ (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the Polari Prize 2021, & Val McDermid has named her one of the UK’s most compelling LGBT+ writers. Her story “The Hanging of Game Birds” was selected for inclusion in Best Microfiction 2021.

15.15 – 16.15 Workshop
Fighting Shape: Revision Techniques for Lean and Resonant Prose with Meagan Lucas

As an editor, the number one reason Meagan declines good stories is that they are too puffy, a great premise or voice, but bloated with editorializing or backstory; the second reason is a lack of depth. Both problems often stem from the same issue: trusting the reader. Through an examination of successful stories, and a discussion of revision strategies, writers will learn to not only hone their word count, but strengthen their story, by giving the reader some credit.

Meagan Lucas is the author of the award-winning novel, Songbirds and Stray Dogs. Meagan’s short work can be found in places like Santa Fe Writers’ Project, Still: The Journal, MonkeyBicycle, Bull Magazine, and Pithead Chapel. She teaches Creative Writing at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College and is the Editor-in-Chief of Reckon Review

16.30 – 17.30 Workshop
Writing Flash from Prompts with Laura Besley

Having written hundreds of flash and micro stories from prompts, Laura Besley will be sharing the pros and cons of her experience; asking participants to think about what makes a good prompt, and why; whether there are any ‘rules’ to follow or whether there is a ‘cheat sheet’ to make the writing easier; also there will be an opportunity to write and share if you want to. Hopefully you’ll end the day with lots of new ideas and maybe even a draft or two.  

Laura Besley is the author of micro fiction collections, (Un)Natural Elements (Beir Bua Press, 2021) and 100neHundred (Arachne Press, 2021), as well as the flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers (Dahlia Books, 2020). She has been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers. Her work has been nominated for Best Micro Fiction and her story, To Cut a Long Story Short, appeared in the Best Small Fiction anthology in 2021.

Sunday 6th March

10.00 – 10.45: Keynote
Liberation Through Constraint: Setting Your Writing Free with Tania Hershman

Discover how constraint in flash can free your stories to be the best they can be.

Tania Hershman is a writer of short stories, poetry and hybrids, often inspired by science. Her first book The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008), was commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange award for new writers. Her poetry pamphlet, How High Did She Fly?, won the 2019 Live Canon competition, and Tania’s hybrid book, and what if we were all allowed to disappear, was published by Guillemot Press in 2020. Her second poetry collection, Still Life With Octopus, will be published by Nine Arches Press in July 2022. Her debut novel, Go On – a hybrid book called a fictional memoir-in-collage, partly inspired by being writer-in-residence in Manchester’s Southern Cemetery – will be published by Broken Sleep Books in November 2022.

11.00 – 12.30 – Masterclass
The Novella-in-Flash with Tom O’Brien

In this masterclass Tom will share the tools you need to build your own Novella-in-Flash, either from scratch or using elements you already have. From the blueprint stage to a finished work, he’ll use published examples to introduce techniques that will equip you to see your work from fresh perspectives. Whether you want to expand on an idea, link and develop flashes you already have, or just explore the form, we’ll go through planning, sourcing materials, methods of constructing a story arc and thoughts about how to bring it all together into a story made of stories.

 Tom O’Brien is the author of Straw Gods and One For The River; both Novellas-in-Flash, as well as Homemade Weather, the winner of the Retreat West Novelette-in-Flash Prize. He also runs the Novella-in-Flash online course with Amanda Saint at Retreat West.

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
A World on a Page: Focus on the Flash Setting  with Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar

Flash is a medium through which you can create worlds in a few words and populate them with characters, too. Be it the swing on your porch or a hair salon or a foreign land, oceans away, the place where your story is set in becomes real when described with the right detail. The setting deepens a narrative, draws the reader in, and brings the story alive in their minds. In this workshop, we will study examples of well-crafted story settings and write to prompts. 

Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American writer. Born to a middle-class family in India, she later migrated to the USA. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications, in print, and online. Her work has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2022. She is the winner of the ELJ Micro Creative Non-Fiction Prize and the runner-up for the Chestnut Review Chapbook Contest. She is currently a Prose Editor at Janus Literary and a Submissions Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. Her debut flash fiction collection “Morsels of Purple” is available for purchase on Her chapbook will be released in 2022.

15.15 – 16.15 Workshop
Writing the Wild with Mary-Jane Holmes

The landscape, as the geographer Dennis Cosgrove puts it, ‘is a different way of seeing’ and writing about the landscape is one way of creating and articulating a meaningful relationship with the natural world. Landscapes seem to have a great ability to ‘situate’us by translating the abstract world of thought and feeling into a physical language driven by the metaphoric qualities of the form. As Seamus Heaney said – it pulls us into the ‘Country of the Mind’. Mary-Jane will look at the different ways you can use these concepts to write wild flashes that stand out to readers.

Mary-Jane Holmes is a writer, teacher and editor based in the Durham Dales, UK. She has been published in such places as the Best Small Fictions Anthology 2016 and 2018, and the Best Microfictions Anthology 2020. Her work can also be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Spelk, Cabinet of Heed, Flashback Fiction, Mslexia, Fictive Dream, The Lonely Crowd, and Prole amongst others.

She is winner of the Mslexia Prize (2018), the Reflex Fiction prize (Autumn 2019) and the Dromineer Fiction Prize (2014). In 2017, she won the Bridport Poetry Prize and her poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass was published by Pindrop Press in 2018. In 2020, she won the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award for Don’t Tell it to the Bees. She is currently studying for a creative writing PhD at Newcastle University and she has an unpublished flash collection knocking about that was recently short-listed for the International Beverly Prize for Literature.

16.30 – 17.00 Close and Winners of the Retreat West Awards

Every story published by Retreat West between August 2021 and July 2022 is in the running for one of our swish accolades and the winners will be revealed at the close of the festival weekend!


We have a reduced rate price for our Community Members so if you want to join first, you can do that here. Membership starts at just £25 fror a year and includes tons of brilliant things! Otherwise use the Non-Members or Recordings Only buttons below.

Non-Member Tickets

Members Tickets

Recordings Only Tickets

Can’t make it live or in a different time zone? Get the recordings after the event for the bargain price of £35 to watch in your own time.


We have a small number of free or half-price tickets for low-income writers. Email us to get one.

If you’d like to donate a ticket for a writer, get in touch and we can sort that out with you.