Firewords Competition 2016: Shortlist Announcement

Our competition, in partnership with Bloomsbury and Writers & Artists, has now come to a close! Reading so many stories that all originate from one prompt image has been such an exciting and fun experience. We were blown away by the quality of submissions and it's been a real challenge to choose only 10 entries to make up the following shortlist...

  • The Visit by Toni Allen
  • Last Man Standing by Jen Falkner
  • After the Dark by James Hatton
  • Stars by Liam Hogan
  • Homeland by Katherine Mezzacappa
  • A Mother Whale Lifts Her Head by Jeanne Panfley
  • A Good Thing by Megan Parker
  • Mountain Ash by Nicole Pearson
  • The man with no shadow by Stephanie Percival
  • The Seventh Sense by Dee Takemoto

Next, we have to narrow it down even further! The two runners up and overall winner will be announced at the end of November. Watch this space!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter this competition. If you didn't make the shortlist, please don't be too disappointed. We received over 550 entries so a lot of amazing stories didn't make it.

Firewords Competition with Bloomsbury and Writers & Artists

Firewords Competition with Bloomsbury and Writers & Artists

Illustrator Maggie Chiang created some beautiful artwork for us in Issue 5, and we’re thrilled to work with her again for a new competition that we are launching today. The challenge is to write a short story (under 1000 words) that is inspired by Maggie’s illustration, above.

The artwork that appears in Firewords is normally created based on the text, so this is a fun contrast to our usual way of doing things and we’re excited to read the results!

The deadline for entries is 31st October and the prizes include publication in our ‘Escape’ themed Issue 8, back issue bundles, and copies of the brand new 2017 Writers' & Artists' Yearbook. It’s a completely free competition, so head over to the Writers & Artists website for more details and how to enter.

Best of luck!
Dan & Jen

Submissions now open

While still spreading the word about Issue 6, we are also looking to the future – Submissions for Issue 7 are open now! Here are the facts you need if you want to get involved:

WHEN: Sunday 29th May until Saturday 11th June

WHAT: Short stories (under 2000 words) and flash fiction


The loose theme for this issue is ‘Dark/Light’. There will also be our usual flash fiction challenge, with a maximum 400 words based on this visual prompt by illustrator Rondie Li:

We are only open for two weeks this time so don’t hang around. Submissions will open until 11th June and we are only accepting short stories and flash fiction; we received so much great poetry for Issue 6, we felt that some had to be carried forward to this issue.

If you haven’t already done so, check out the newly published ‘Secrets’ edition. Not only a great read, it will also show you the kind of writing that captures our interest for the next submission round.

We can’t wait to see what Issue 7 will hold.

Announcing our Pushcart Prize nominations


Last year, we just missed the nomination window for the Pushcart Prize and we were kicking ourselves for weeks! This year, we managed to submit our nominations just before the deadline.

In case you haven’t heard of the Pushcart Prize before, it celebrates the work published by small presses and independent magazines in the current year (so for us that means Issue 4 & 5) and prints the winners in a yearly anthology. We wanted to take part because it gives a few of our authors the chance for the acclaim and recognition we think they deserve.

Each publisher is permitted six nominations and we found it extremely challenging to narrow ours down, especially because we have the honour of publishing work of such a high standard. We tried to select a mixture of styles and favourites from different team members. So, without further ado, our nominations for the next Pushcart Prize are:

  • Marie Peach-Geraghty – ‘The Pigeon Problem’ (Issue 4)
  • Christopher Swiedler – ‘Orion, the Hunter’ (Issue 4)
  • Damon King – ‘Eight Across’ (Issue 4)
  • Robert Ford – ‘Heart-shaped’ (Issue 5)
  • Die Booth – ‘Things the sea brings us’ (Issue 5)
  • Sue Wilsea – ‘View from the Top’ (Issue 5)

Psst… If you want the chance to be published in our next issue and perhaps be nominated next year, our submissions open on Dec 17th!

Firewords is nominated for a Stack Award!


If you’re a fan of magazines yet haven’t heard of Stack, you should really check it out. Stack selects the best independent magazines and delivers a surprise mag to its subscribers every month. Earlier this year, the news that Stack was starting an awards scheme aimed purely at independent magazines was very exciting… and even more exciting was finding out that Firewords had been shortlisted in the ‘Best Original Fiction’ category. Yay!

Here are the awards explained by Stack founder, Steve Watson…

Independent publishers make some of the world’s most exciting and inspiring magazines, but come awards time they’re virtually invisible. The Stack Awards 2015 is our attempt to put that right; an awards scheme made specifically for independent magazines, recognising the best work done by independent publishers and their contributors between October 2014 and September 2015.

The big awards ceremony is on Monday 30th November in London, so wish us luck! To be honest, we aren’t expecting a win because the competition is so strong but just being shortlisted is a huge honour. The other five shortlisted magazines in the ‘Best Original Fiction’ (as well as those in all the other categories) are fantastic, so whichever mag picks up the award will be a worthy winner.

Long live indie mags!

What happened to Firewords?

An explanation by Jen Scott, Associate Editor

Our regular readers will have noticed a sizeable gap between Issue 4 and what is now the beginning of Issue 5. A small break in our publishing schedule was already planned because half of the editorial team was relocating to Toronto. However, a particular event has turned our world upside down and it is one we feel is important to share.

During my first few weeks in this stunning new country I was involved in an accident that was extremely severe and life-threatening, and which I may never have fully recovered from; I was hit by a 4x4 truck (at a set of traffic lights where I was following the ‘walking man’ to cross the road). Unfortunately, the driver turned the corner when he shouldn’t have and didn’t see me crossing.

Sitting now, writing this, it is impossible to capture the feeling of missing three weeks of my life completely. My family have told me about these weeks in an intensive care unit at an extremely efficient and caring hospital. However, I do remember the weeks when I was moved to a two-person ward and slowly came to realise what had happened. My parents had arrived quickly from Scotland and, each night, either they or my fiance would stay at the hospital to keep an eye on me - something which I believe has greatly contributed to the speed and extent of my recovery. A bonus was certainly when my brother also managed to fly over and stay for a few nights!

Whatever the reasons for my progress, or incredible luck, I am now an outpatient receiving rehabilitation treatment and, while I await a further operation, myself and all the Firewords team are eager to get Issue 5 moving again. Therefore, it is with great excitement that we are announcing that submissions will open on August 1st and close on August 28th. The theme of this issue is Change, something that we were interested in before but, post-accident, has acquired even more significance for us.

So, if your creative juices are flowing, we look forward to hearing from you in a couple of weeks. I cannot wait for the absolute joy of reading original and inspirational creative writing from around the world. Thank you all again for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.