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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.

ChipLitFest Short Story competition – brought to you by pennyshorts!

Hello, literary ones… pennyshorts is sponsoring ChipLitFest’s Short Story competition, so get your entries in by 15th March 2016.  All entries will be considered as future pennyshorts.  Our judge, novelist Tessa Hadley, will pick three winners in April.  Multiple entries are welcome from writers all over the world, as long as they are 16 years of age by the closing date.  We’ve had a number of entries already, and are looking forward to receiving a load more.  It’s only a fiver to enter each story, and all proceeds will go towards the running of the festival, a registered charity which does incredibly work promoting literacy in schools.  Good luck with your stories, and may the best scribbler win.

October is a month for marketing

Hello dear readers!  To focus on marketing and to wade through our bulging inboxes, we have closed for submissions in October, which is nearly over already.  We’re now up to 143 stories by 108 authors to date and both numbers grow all the time.  Please like us on FB, and follow us on twitter, @pennyshorts.  The FB page is starting to look like a little gallery.  Also, please check out the new-look Home page, a much cleaner look with the new story bundles. Those mothers are gonna fly offa them shelves…  Other news to watch:

  • The development of the pennyshorts app, which will make downloading stories and bundles on the move much easier, and will notify users of offers, new stories, news items etc.
  • The launch of a US website, identical to this one, but with US pricing.
  • We’re investigating the practicalities of sending out a story a week for a year, a kind of Editor’s Pick which will go out to those on a self-selecting mailing list.  There are all sorts of issues to get around that I won’t bore you with here, but if this is a list you’d like to be included on, please get in touch

Most exciting of all:  three pennyshorts authors will be included in a new anthology ‘Fresh Ink’, which will feature 12-15 stories, and which is likely to be volume 1 of a series, with two volumes a year.  The three authors are Heidi James, with her story ‘Sentimental’, Louisa Adjoa Parker with ‘Good as Gold’ and Edward McDermott with ‘Back From The Grave’.  As soon as we know more about publication date and other details, we’ll put a post out about it.  pennyshorts is not an exclusive site.  We are very happy to publish reprints, as long as they’re not free online.  This is exactly what pennyshorts was set up to do in the first place:  to get the best voices in fiction heard

Please continue to rate and review the stories you read.  Your feedback will guide other users to the best stories.  We all love a bit of praise, but constructive criticism is actually more valuable.

If you experience any issues or problems with the website, I’d be very grateful for this feedback too.  The site is still in beta mode, and will remain so until it’s so slick it’s sickening.

15th Sept – pennyshorts update

In response to the many who have asked me: ‘Why do you have a News button when you never post anything?’,   I’ve finally been shamed into writing an update.  pennyshorts is now 3 months old.  It features 118 stories by 100 authors.  A few little factoids:  The most popular author’s name is Peter (Step forward Messrs de Aguilar, Jordan, Lingard, Mills and Tickler).  The site’s acceptance rate is 14%, so if you submitted a story which joined the 86% rejected, swallow that bitter taste of rejection and submit another!  One author submitted seven stories before finally hitting paydirt. The most popular story was downloaded 17 times in the first quarter:  Folks, we need to do better.  Yes, we’re competing against free content, but this site is all about quality… not only quality of content, but of presentation too.  Seamless writing, with no irritating typos, apostrophes in the right places, properly formatted dialogue…  Authors and readers, please do whatever you can to spread the word, and think about buying a subscription to pennyshorts for a friend or family member as a present.  In fact, Christmas is coming up…   a cheap (and environmentally friendly) way of giving someone hours of entertainment.

Other news:  Simon, my wonderful web guru ( is developing a pennyshorts app.  I’ll keep you posted.