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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 14 August 2017

How a dragon cracked a writing competition

Last Friday afternoon I received an email which concluded almost seven years of perseverance. The email came from Lorraine Mace, organiser and mastermind behind the Flash500 competition. If you write flash fiction then you've probably entered this quarterly competition at some point in your writing career. I've been entering since November 2010, with a total of 23 entries and 9 short listings. I was determined to get beyond the short list and make the top 3. And on Friday 11 August 2017 I did it - my story 'Sky Lighter' came 2nd, winning £200. You can read the story and the lovely critique from judge JJ Marsh here.
[Note: that number of entries sounds scary but many later went on to earn income from other competitions and many have been published elsewhere. Never waste a good story!]

I'd like to add how impressed I've been with this competition. It always turns around within 6 weeks of closing. The results and stories were up on the website within hours and I received my winnings the same day without delay. There are few regular writing competitions that can match the professionalism of Flash500.

I believe there are 3 Ps essential to writing:

and I kept true to all of these with Flash500. I believed that one day I WOULD crack the competition and I did ...
Coincidentally this echoes the subject of my writing chum Wendy Clarke's blog post today on not giving up, read it here.

'Sky Lighter' is a complete work of fiction. It is pure imagination and not based on any folk tale, though I like to believe an old storyteller once told fireside tales about Borealis the Sky Lighter dragon who flames the skies with the Northern Lights. The story haunted me for some time and I was working with poet and artist friend, Hannah Brockbank, on turning it into an illustrated book for children. We've both been swept away by other projects and Hannah is immersed in her PhD, but maybe we can pick it up again - though poor Hannah as the illustrator has the bulk of the work to do. Here are two of the initial drawings that Hannah created for 'Sky Lighter.' The girl/ Aurora backed by the Northern Lights and Borealis the Sky Lighter dragon (below).
Hannah Brockbank is a superb artist who also does commissions (read more here, find her on Twitter @hannahbrockbank). She is also a talented poet - her debut pamphlet 'Bloodline' will be published later this year by Indigo Dreams (watch this blog for news on publication date).

Illustrations have been reproduced here with the kind permission of Hannah Brockbank.


  1. Congratulations on your coming second in an established competition, well done.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

  2. Congratulations, Tracy:)

  3. Huge congratulations, Tracy, on your success. How good it is to read about how a positive outlook will always bear fruit. You're so right never to give up on a good story xxx

  4. Many congratulations, Tracy! I feel I've shared this Flash 500 path with you over the years (after hearing you talk about it over tea cakes). As you say, persistence is the key word... and talent, of course.

    1. Thank you, Wendy, but is this really code for 'I've been bored rigid hearing about this competition for years!' :)

  5. Nothing pays off like persistence. Congrats, Tracy, and lovely to see Hannah's illustrations.

    1. Thanks, Richard and for your feedback on this story earlier in the year.

  6. Well done, Tracy!

    Totally agree with your three Ps.

  7. Great to hear of your success, Tracy - well done! Love those illustrations.

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  9. Thanks for the awesome list. I really like how you included the restrictions for the different contests as well.
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