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ChipLitFest Short Story Competition


I’m delighted to announce that pennyshorts is sponsoring the fifth ChipLitFest Short Story competition, which is now open for entries. Top prize is £500, and the deadline is midnight GMT, 8th Feb 2020. To enter, here’s the link:

All details can be found at, but for quick reference, here they are:

Judge: Sarah Franklin
Entry fee: £5 for sto­ries up to 2,500 words. £8 for sto­ries up to 5,000 words
Word Lim­it: 2,500 (£5) 5,000 (£8)
Dead­line (Clos­ing Date): 12 Mid­night GMT, Sat­ur­day 8 Feb­ru­ary 2020
First Prize: £500, Sec­ond Prize: £100, Third Prize: £50

The authors of the Top 10 sto­ries will have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to fea­ture on penny shorts, and the Top 3 sto­ries will be pub­lished on the ChipLit­Fest website. Plus, they will be read to an audience at a special event at the festival itself, which takes place 23rd – 26th April 2020.

Best of luck with your entries.

All the best

Cathy Evans

pennyshorts Review Competition

pennyshorts Review Competition

ps transparent logo copy

Pick a story, any story…

Fancy your reviewing skills? We’re offering a cash prize of £50 to the most insightful and compelling review submitted between now and midnight, 31st May 2018. Here are some guidelines:

  • Make it short and engaging.
  • Describe what you like about the story and why.
  • Criticism is always welcome, as long as it’s constructive.
  • No spoilers!
  • Multiple reviews are welcome
  • Authors are free to review other writers’ stories.

Any questions or comments about any aspect of the site or the stories, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

If anyone spots any egregious errors after our careful editing, I’d be very grateful if they point them out by emailing

Thanks and good luck!

Cathy Evans



New Stories... 21st March 2018

New Stories… 21st March 2018

Three new stories published yesterday, 20th March.

Jamie Hittman’s ‘Movers of Possible Futures’. Here’s the link:  A tiger prowls suburbia. This is not only beautifully written, but it’s a study in economic characterisation.

DC Diamondopolous’s ‘Billy Luck’. At 85, after a lifetime with Gerling’s Carnival of Fun, Billy goes to visit his dying friend Daisy, a midget who’s ‘got religion’. Billy and Daisy share a secret, and after all these years he still can’t help but do her bidding. Billy’s Southern voice is confiding and authentic, and you’ll forget you’re not sitting in a saloon or a train car as you hear his tale.

Amanda Staples’s ‘One Moment’. ‘You never notice the numerous babies in every shop. On every street. On every TV advert. Everywhere. Until you can’t have one’. Never imagining she’d be desperate for a baby, a woman finds herself in a police station after a child is abducted.

Hope you enjoy them: don’t forget to rate and review them!





Update February 2017

Hello Readers and Authors

Let’s face it, we’ve been pretty rubbish at keeping you abreast of the great things going on at pennyshorts, so here goes:

– We’re working with seven authors on new stories, which should be released on the site very soon. We tweet about all new stories and add a write-up on our FB page, so please keep an eye on both.

– We receive up to 10 new stories every day from writers around the world. It would be a huge boost to our site to have more readers and more ratings and reviews. Please go ahead and read as many as you like, and if you think someone would like a story, send them the link to it. Don’t forget to click on the adverts (smiley emoticon).

– I’m hosting an event at Soho Farmhouse on 30th March, where I will be reading out a few pennyshorts, and discussing what makes them successful. I’ve chosen Peter Jordan’s ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ and Gary Ives’s ‘Leaving Rapid City’. I’m waiting to get permission from author No. 3, and may read a story of my own, ‘Miss Higginbottom’, which actually isn’t on the site yet; it’s in the queue along with everybody else’s.

– For the second year in a row, pennyshorts has sponsored the ChipLitFest Short Story Competition. We’ve received 270 entries, and have until March 20th to come up with a shortlist of 10 for our judge, author Martyn Waites, aka thriller crime writer Tania Carver. I’ve appointed two independent readers, who are beavering away as we speak. Half the profits of the competition will go towards the Author’s Pot, which is steadily growing.

– In April, pennyshorts is sponsoring ChipLItFest’s Trade Secrets Day, featuring authors Mick Herron and Hannah Kohler. Literary agent Caroline Wood of Felicity Bryan will give advice on novel pitches, which attendees can send to her in advance. For anyone interested in attending, here’s the link:

– We’re still looking into producing audio files; wouldn’t it be fabulous if people could download pennyshorts as podcasts? I’ll keep you posted.

– It’s high time we produced a pennyshorts anthology. I’ve drawn up a long list, and I’m investigating how to do this via CreateSpace. I’ll get in touch with long listed authors for permissions and terms very soon.

BTW I’ve had a lot of confused emails about my name; my maiden name is Evans and my married name is Horlick. I use both interchangeably which I realise is annoying and/or confusing. If only we had Icelandic patronymics, then I’d be Catherine Michaelsdottir from birth to death and that would be that.

If you have any comments, suggestions and ideas on how to improve pennyshorts, I’d love to hear from you.

A bientot,


Letter to Authors Confirming Change to Free Content

Yesterday we sent the following letter to 118 authors, all of whom have backed pennyshorts’ move to free content. Four authors elected to withdraw their stories… we’re sorry to see them go, but they know they’d be welcome back.

Dear Authors

Thank you so much to all of you for sticking with us, and for backing the changes to pennyshorts.  It means a lot and believe me, we’ll be fighting your corner to increase your readership and making sure that your frantic scribbling and late night tippety tapping is financially rewarded.
The new free website is now ready (a couple of days late thanks to computer issues – thank you Apple), so please spread the word.  We want as many hits as possible.  All users will need to log in to the site so we can keep track of the downloads, but we’ve made it very easy:  they can do so on the site itself, or via facebook, google or twitter.
The Author’s Pot currently stands at £783, and this will grow, from adverts, donations, grants, competitions, e-books, live events, writer’s workshops and merchandising. All other money-spinning ideas are very welcome – we ain’t proud.
The pot will be split between authors on a pro-rata basis depending on how many times their story(ies) has been downloaded. Authors will be paid annually (first pay date will be 3rd May 2017) provided they have accrued a threshold amount of £25.
The Author’s Pot does NOT include amounts that have accrued to authors whose stories were downloaded in the past year. This money has been allocated separately to the relevant authors and will go towards their £25 threshold.  Congrats to the authors of our most popular downloads in the last year:
The Duke – Victoria Pougatch (20)
You Are What You Don’t Eat – Sally Basmajian (20)
The Last of Salinger – Tom Ray (17)
Gone Fishing – KB Carle (17)
Doing Time – Sinead McCabe (16)
All The Time In The World – Julie Dawn (13)
Vagabundo – Tom Perrin (12)
And So It Was – James McLoughlin (12)
Motherhood – Poppy Akers (12)
Also huge congrats to Heidi James, Louisa Adjoa Parker and Edward McDermott, whose stories were cherrypicked from pennyshorts for the Fresh Ink Anthology. This is exactly what pennyshorts was set up for: to get new readers for our authors and to get our short stories out there.
The pennyshorts app will be ready in a couple of month’s time, and we will shortly be adding audiofiles to our offering, which will greatly increase our readership.  We will be sending out guidance on this in the next couple of weeks. Many of you have expressed interest in reading your own stories – this is fabulous as long as you are reasonably expressive and that the recording is clear.  Don’t panic if you don’t fancy doing it – we’re assembling a stable of quality readers, some of whom are gifted amateurs, including (ahem) Yours Truly and others who are professional actors.
We hope this email will encourage you all to go mad and frantically download each others’ stories.  The best way to improve your short story writing is to read as many of them as possible.
Please get in touch if you have any questions, comments, ideas or if you just feel like a chat.