Creative writing

I’ve been writing creatively since I could hold a pen but I started taking it a bit more seriously in 2011. In 2016 I joined the fabulous writer’s group (Rushmoor Writers) and started submitting my work in summer ’17. The second piece I sent off won first place in a big magazine competition so I’ve been hooked on submitting ever since.

I tend towards the dark side of fiction, but there’s usually a sliver of hope too. I write across most genres and I read a lot. I’m still learning how to write fiction, and that will never change – I’ll always be improving. I get a lot of pieces rejected, longlisted and shortlisted as well as published. I blog about the process, very occasionally, on here.

Below is the list of my published pieces, you can read some of the pieces. They are all very short as I’m a big fan of flash fiction (under 1000 words).

2020 Successes
*I’m currently working on a novel and not submitting much*

I won the much coveted Little Ms quarterly flashcard in January – I think this might’ve been my 20th try at this comp. It was in response to a picture prompt and titled ‘3 Bunnies’. 

I also had a lovely letter from Reflex Fiction who will be publishing my piece ‘Pretend Play, Pretend Living‘ later in the year in a print anthology (best of 2019).

2019 Publications

“Enhancements” is a micro-fiction published in Ellipsis Zine: Six. I had tried to get into Ellipsis so many times, very glad to finally get an acceptance! Subscribe to Ellipsis Zine HERE.

“Captivity” was published in the Best of Ink Tears print anthology in July 2019. You can purchase the anthology HERE.

“Dare You” was published as part of the National Flash Fiction Day ‘Flash Flood’ in June 2019.

“Pretend Play, Pretend Living” was published by Reflex Fiction as a long lister in their quarterly fiction competition. You can read it here; https://www.reflexfiction.com/author/jennifer-riddalls/

“Yaffle”, my first short story, won the July 2018 quarterly Dark Tales competition and was published in March 2019.

“Taken” was published as one of three finalist in Mslexia’s annual flash competition and published in the 20th Anniverary of this iconic literary magazine (March ’19). You can read it at the bottom of this page.

2018 Publications

“Captivity”, also known as Pacing the Cage, was highly commended in Ink Tears quarterly flash fiction competition (a competition for pieces already published elsewhere). November 2018

“Lumpen” won first place for Retreat West’s Quarterly Flash Competition. This was my first historical flash fiction. My goal for 2018 was to get a piece onto their amazing Flash Fiction page. I made it just in time. You can read it here. November 2018

“Leaves, Witches and Wool” won Retreat West’s Fantastic Flashing competition. You can read it here. October 2018

“Pacing the Cage” won first place at Farnham Flash Festival 2018 and was published in the print anthology. July 2018

“Grace” was accepted for the 81 words anthology, published here online and will be in print once 1000 stories have been accepted. The anthology will raise money for charity Arkbound Foundation. February 2018

“Final Note” won Morgen Bailey’s December prompt [a sign of hope] and was published on her website. You can read it below. January 2018

2017 Publications

“Reasons to Collect” is a non-fiction piece which was selected to appear in the ‘Call Us Collectors’ article in Neptune’s Stories.  Print Publication. You can order Neptune’s Stories for free here. Autumn 2017

Lana’s mother had been dead for eleven years when she saw her on a packed train is a prompt I entered  into the Penguin-Random House 2017 Prompt Competition and it was published in the final list. You can see all the prompts here. August 2017

“The Rest Will Follow” appeared in print in Writer’s Forum magazine – Issue #189 wining their Flash Fiction Competition – 1st place. Print Publication. You can visit the magazine’s website here. July 2017


Taken

The noise draws you out, like a rat lured by a pretty tune. You often hear the cry of a baby in the strangest of sounds; the bark of a dog, the creak of a door, a voice raised in song. Every time, it causes a little stab of pain.
Standing outside, you curl your bare toes over the cool chipped stone step and leave your door gaping open behind you, inviting you back in. You listen to the wailing hitch and spiral down and lift again like a siren. This cry is real.
The other doors in the corridor are firmly closed. No sign of life, just peeling paint and peepholes full of blank stares. You gently push open the grimy door that sends out the wail and you notice the toenail yellow walls then the filth, then the curdled milk and shit stink of his room. The rest is a blur that you can’t recall.
Weeks later, far from home, you see pictures of him on the news, his mother gaunt and scared. She wants him back and she wants to know why.
‘Because he was neglected,’ you say to the TV.
‘Because my first son never even got to cry,’ you say to the radio.
‘Because you called for me and I answered,’ you say to the sleepy bundle in your bed.

Now, you hear the sound of a police siren in the baby’s late-night cries, in the whine of the washing machine, in bird song. Every time, it causes a little stab of fear and the unbidden image of another mother, stricken, enters your mind and threatens to spread like a stain over everything. Every morning, chubby little hands reach up for you and wash everything clean.

 


Reasons to collect

[The brief – a personal story regarding collecting]

I revived my childhood love of collecting when my little boy, Winston, turned 3 and became hooked on collecting ‘treasures’. These can range from dull looking chunks of gravel to shards of amethyst or smooth pebbles of sea glass. His infectious passion for his treasures has inspired me to collect them too, or rather I curate on his behalf. He always vetoes them carefully before deciding if they’re worthy.

Now 6, Winston’s favourite pieces are real gemstones but he also delights in anything found in rivers, on beaches or buried under leaves in the woods. He bought a large tool chest with his Christmas money and categorises his things in a system of his own making. That probably sums up his collecting as a whole – it’s personal to him and no one else. His collection also serves a social purpose. His Dad secretly hides polished gemstones in nearby woods and then there’s a gem hunt where Winston is ecstatic when he comes across these all by himself. It’s something they do just the two of them. And despite habitually fighting with his little brothers (who have their own fledgling collections) for most of the day, he will still assign them a stone to hold each night during story time. He also takes a piece to bed, to look at under torchlight after lights out, and loans special jewels to close friends.

Damien Hirst said “I think of a collection as being like a map of a person’s life”. That certainly seems true for Winston. Oddly, for a boy who seems to remember nothing of what he does at school each day, he can pick up an ordinary little stone from his collection, turn in it in his hand thoughtfully then tell me it came from the stream near our house, or the sea in Belgium or from his Granny’s kind friend. He’s always right, even if it was collected years ago. The stones have become memories that he can hold. I can’t think of a better reason, young or old, to become a collector.


Final Note

[The brief – 100 words exactly on the theme ‘a sign of hope’.

Every day I stare at the little red Acer tree in our garden and whisper to nature, ‘Please don’t let it die’. My children think me mad with grief. My brain, several times an hour, forgets the current situation. My eyes go to a closed door and I fully expect to see him come bumbling through. I’m constantly waiting for the final note in a melody that never sounds.

How long before I stop looking?

So I look at the Acer instead, the last thing he planted. This morning, fresh scarlet leaves have unfurled and I remember how to smile.