This is a 'What's My Scene?' post by Tania from UK short story advocates, ShortStops.
ShortStops is an online hub for all-things-short-story in the UK and Ireland. I set the site up in November 2013 because I was seeing so many wonderful things happening around here and wanted to both whip up some national pride in the short story – which I knew to be sorely lacking – and create a sense of togetherness amongst writers, readers, performers, literary mag editors, event and competition organisers, and the wider community.
I'm a poet and short story writer, the author of two collections of fiction, and a voracious reader, I read over 1000 short stories a year. I love short stories – my first venture was The Short Review, an online journal I founded in 2007 to fill what I saw was a serious gap - the reviewing of short story collections. I ended up with over 40 reviewers worldwide reviewing all types and genres of short story collections, old and new, and interviewing authors. That was wonderful - it introduced me to new favourite authors and books I never would have found. It was also great for my fantastic reviewers, many of whom became friends. And it was my way to help short story writers and publishers, who are so often the amazing small presses who don't have the resources to do a great deal of marketing.
At that time I was living in Israel, and when I moved back to the UK in 2009 I started getting a stronger sense of both the vibrancy of the local short story scene – especially the emergence of more live literary events – and the still-prevailing myth that there's nothing happening for short story writers in the UK, no literary magazines, and no opportunities. To be honest, I was fairly exhausted by running The Short Review, which for the first five years produced a monthly edition. While I was hoping someone else would set up something like ShortStops, no-one did, and so I went ahead, having learned valuable lessons from The Short Review. The most valuable of these lessons was, “Use Wordpress instead of hand-coding your website in HTML!” Hours of my life have been given back to me.
The ShortStops project is structured in two parts: listings along with a very active blog, and an even more active Twitter account. The listings are in three sections, although to be honest there is more overlap now than there was: literary magazines (printed and online) with some connection to the UK and Ireland; live literary events around the UK and Ireland; and short story collection authors based in or from the UK and Ireland. Each literary mag and live literary event has its own Page where you'll find a general description of the publication or event. Each magazine editor, event organiser, or anyone who would like to publicise anything short-story-related (competitions, workshops etc...) can write a blog, maximum once a month, with calls for submissions, announcements of new issues, competitions etc... Learning another lesson from The Short Review, I don't create any content myself. Instead, I “curate” - everyone is signed up to the site and they draft the blog posts themselves.
I am also enormously active on Twitter, as @shortstopsuk, which is a wonderful place for creating community – I have created Twitter lists of literary magazines, live literary events, short story authors, publishers and the like, and spend time daily passing on tweets of interest to our almost-4000 followers. This is the place to look for daily content of interest. You can also sign up to the site itself to get notified of each new blog post – and there's also a fortnightly email newsletter I send out with a round-up of everything that's been on our blog over the past few weeks, and upcoming deadlines.
The site isn't just aimed at short story writers but also short story readers and the audiences for live literary events, as well as for literary mags and live literary events to hear about each other – the next step I am contemplating is to encourage some collaborations! If you fit into any of our categories – or have any new ideas for ShortStops - and would like to get involved, email me and I'll sign you up. You’ll be very welcome.
Come join the short story party!
Are you part of an exciting event, collaboration, or project? If you'd like to tell people about what you're doing as part of Writers Bloc's 'What's My Scene' series, get in touch!
Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.