Momaya Judges welcomed writers and readers to the Momaya Press 10th Anniversary Celebration.
Thanks to everyone who was able to join us to celebrate 10 years of Momaya Press championing the short story and the 150 writers we have published in that time.
At the event, we launched the Best Short Stories in a Decade: A Review of Momaya Press 2004-2013. We collected the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place stories from ten years of the Momaya Short Story Competition. This volume includes excellent short stories written in English from writers across the globe. Every year Momaya Press sponsors a short story competition with a specific theme, thus insuring that this compilation has a very rich and diverse range of stories. Anyone interested in exploring the short story would find this an eclectic and absorbing read.
Many great conversations were started on the night, which we hope will continue. You can join the conversation via the Momaya Press Facebook page
Monisha Saldanha, co-Founder and Director of Momaya Press, welcomed the writers, judges and readers. She said, “The common experience of writing is a solitary affair. Whether they are actually alone in their home or sitting in a public space, writers throw their words into the void of a computer screen and notebooks. Most writers rarely experience the pleasure of seeing their words in print, and more rarely still, hear from their readers.
Maya and I founded Momaya Press to redress this balance. We provide a forum for writers to get feedback on their writing through our website, and we sponsor an awards ceremony where writers get to meet the judges who selected their stories for publication and the readers who have subsequently enjoyed reading those stories. We encourage the audience to try their hand at writing their own stories. Momaya Press is building a community of readers and writers around the world, to inspire people to express themselves and to support each other.”
Momaya Judges Andy Callus and Alice Sheppard share their thoughts on the joy of reading the short story.
Andy said, “The best ones grab me by the throat, squeeze me until I can’t breathe and then throw me against the wall. A good short story is also a bridge back to reading for those of us who think we are too busy, and have either lost, or never found, the reading habit.”
Momaya Judge Polly Courtney, a seven times published novelist, discusses why she abandoned her Harper Collin’s book deal in order to self-publish.
Polly said, “It’s great to hear so many writers speak confidently about why they write. Having learnt the hard way, I’m a great believer in pursuing the best route according to your own personal goals. Well done to everyone here from this Momaya Award and previous years.”
Momaya Judge Kay Peddle discusses the market for the short story, both good and bad news (but mostly good!)
A number of writers published by Momaya Press in the past ten years were able to join us on the evening. They shared their thoughts on why they write, how they find the time (given their other commitments) and their plans for the future.
“Thank you so much for the lovely evening. It was a pleasure to meet you and the judges and to meet fellow writers. And it was very inspiring to hear each other’s experiences as writers. I was so sorry to have to leave relatively early.” – Deborah Britton
“It was a great evening, wonderful to meet some other writers and judges, and to see people’s different approaches and motivations for writing. Personally, I write short stories because I like to spin a good yarn (I think I came out with that one!), but at the moment I don’t have any set routine for writing. It’s only really when I get a combination of a spare moment and inspiration. Next year I hope to embark on a novel, but certainly shan’t be turning away from short stories, since it’s a great form to both read and write, and allows me to experiment with different styles and ideas.” – Mike Scott Thomson
“It was a huge honour to be in the anthology and wonderful to meet some of the other writers. I’m still of awe of people who are more natural short story writers than I am, but the Momaya themes are inspiring and being published in this year’s anthology has made me want to keep practising!” – Bea Davenport
“It seems so obvious for a publisher of short stories to bring the writers (and judges) together to share their successes, disappointments and, of course, their insecurities. But this has never happened to me before! So well done to Momaya Press for a great evening.”- John Holland
The site for the event was the Function Room of the Theodore Bullfrog Pub in London.
See more photos from the night on the Momaya Press Facebook Page.
Lily’s Music, Sarah Cuming
The Open Door, John Holland
The Place That Will Keep Us, A.D Croucher
When Grocer Jack Turned Pirate, Bea Davenport
Geoffrey Thompson and the Moonlight Sonata, Cathie Hartigan
The Bird Organ, Alan McClure
Symphonic Variations, Lucy Mouland
Invitation, Clare Reddaway
The Music Box, Hayley Solomon
The Beat of Alfred’s Life, Robyn E Stanton
On Theme: Music
Semibreves, Jane Fraser
Two Pints of Lager, Juno Baker
Green Fingers, Deborah Birch
The Color of Caramel, Gayla Chaney
Bjorn to Run, Steve Chilton
Hobo Blues, Tracey Iceton
The Piano Teacher, Ann Leander
Imagine, Johnny Parker
Buskers, Patricia Philips
Song of Despair, Sylvan Rose
A Smile & A Song, Tom Rhoyd
White Hope, Tracey Scott-Townsend
Mrs. Morris and the Celebrated Chop Waltz, Mike Scott Thomson
The Second Best Sound is Clouds, Kevin Wilkinson
Meet the Authors
I am a freelance writer and copy-editor living in London. I have an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths College and as a performance poet once supported John Cooper Clark. My work has been published in numerous literary magazines and in a recent anthology about the London Olympics.
I was inspired to write Two Pints of Lager by a punk gig full of aging punks and a bad shoe purchase. As I was writing for some reason I remembered this girl years ago who kept asking me if I was all right, and it all came together.
Momaya always publishes stories that are imaginative both in content and in the way they use the form. So when I found out Two Pints of Lager was going to be included in the 2013 Anthology, I was ecstatic and really proud.
As for the future, after this success I feel inspired to finish more of the short stories I’ve started and enter them into competitions. I’m also hoping to find an agent and publisher for my first novel.
I am a mother of two young children who manages the arts service and school music service in Worcestershire, and am passionate about making time to write. I was recently awarded a Highly Commended prize by the Sentinel Poetry Movement for another short story and I have completed two unpublished novels.
Green Fingers is a cheeky story about the audacious behaviour of a highly-opinionated retired teacher. After writing some more serious material, I wanted to try a lighter touch. I love the idea of unlikely goings-on behind seemingly buttoned-up Britishness and I think this story was subconsciously inspired by Alan Bennett’s writing. Mrs Shipstour would be a suitable neighbour for somebody like Irene Ruddock in ‘A Lady of Letters’. Although my lovely mother-in-law is a retired teacher and a stalwart allotment keeper, this is where any comparison ends – she was certainly not the inspiration for my main character or story-line!
My private world of writing provides a very personal and quiet satisfaction. But to know that an established and respected organization like Momaya Press has enjoyed my writing enough to want to publish it is just wonderful. Having something I have written in print has long been an ambition of mine and I am thrilled!
I am currently developing a couple of short story ideas and I look forward to turning these into reality in the near future. One of them involves zebras. I would love to find a publisher for my completed novels and I will turn my attention back to further novel writing in the longer term.
My fiction has appeared in Concho River Review, Thema, Potomac Review, Natural Bridge, Upstart Crows, and recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2013 New Millennium Writings Award. My husband, Phil, and I make our home in central Texas.
My story, “The Color of Caramel,” began years ago when my aunt was fighting Alzheimer’s Disease and her husband became her caretaker and constant companion. I put the unfinished story away for a decade, returning to it after my own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my stepfather revealed the most amazing strength and compassion as he cared for her. I did not choose to give Gloria, the character in my story, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s; instead, I left the cause of her decline deliberately vague because I did not want the disease to play a major role in this story. I wanted to focus on Johnny, the husband, who though almost overcome with exhaustion, frustration, and guilt, manages to carry on day by day, moment by moment, with only songs from the radio providing him with any form of conversation. I decided to have Gloria be the one who kept turning on the radio, interrupting their nearly robotic routine with lyrics and melodies from their past. What Gloria could no longer say or convey, the music could.
I consider it an honor to have one of my stories published by Momaya Press. Momaya Press has continued to give recognition to the short story form as well as the short story writer, and I applaud them for that! Thank you, Momaya Press, for the opportunity to have my work read by your audience.
Like many writers, I steal time to write. Over the years, I’ve managed to write quite a few short stories and get some published. Still, there were so many more I had in my head, needing only the time to put them down on paper. When my children were small, I thought: After they are grown, I’ll have more time to write. But now, I take care of my grandchildren and I have less time. I think of Tillie Olsen a lot, standing there ironing.
I iron, too. Something about the act of ironing inspires me. So many stories come to me as I shake a can of spray starch and attack a wrinkled cotton garment. So, my plans for writing in the future include a lot of ironing, as well as a lot of reading and re-reading of those stories (like Tillie Olsen’s) that first inspired me to tell my own tales.
Having spent 25 years as a local newspaper journalist, sometimes accused of making it up, I now have the chance to do just that by writing fiction. The opportunity came along to strike out as a freelance a couple of years ago and that gave me time to work on some of the short stories that I’d been finding excuses not to write for far too long.
Inspiration. My old Rock-Ola juke-box. Sold some years back for a measly £400. Minus the records which are an eclectic mix of pop’s true format, the three-minute single. Everything from Kate Bush to Bo Diddly, Abba and Elvis. All complete in themselves, hits every one, Not a dirge of an album track amongst them.
But a juke-box is a rare corner of tolerance in the world of pop which can generate more snobbery than most musical genres. Until recently it was never cool to like Abba, probably still isn’t except in an ironic sort of way. Something to do with those awful satin costumes and being from Sweden. On the other hand, who could be cooler than Ziggy Stardust – from south London, even if his band claimed to be from Mars – whose outfits were even more garish? Dancing Queen or Let’s Dance? Why choose, stick ’em both on the juke-box.
It’s a great fillip to be told this story will be published and has given me the nudge I needed to push on. So a big thank you to Momaya. Short stories are my metier, I wouldn’t last the distance for a novel. Hopefully I’ll reach the equivalent of the three-minute single with one. I’ve got a couple on the go and I’m really just enjoying making it up as I go along.
AD Croucher is actually two writers, Angela and Darren, writing as a team. We write short stories, we’ve had TV pilot scripts placed in competitions and we do ghostwriting work for book packagers in the US. Last year we published ALTERED, book one of ALTERED SEQUENCE, a YA sci-fi series set in Detroit. We hang out online here: www.adcroucher.com
This story’s DNA has twin strands. The first was a treatment for a movie script we were working on, about an alcoholic older brother and his younger sister who has to take care of him. It existed in treatment form until we had a conversation with a studio executive, who mentioned that sometimes, short stories and novels can have as much sway in Hollywood as scripts. He talked about how the stories that affect us the most are often the seemingly simplest; the ones that are “smallest” on the surface, but the largest emotionally underneath. That got us thinking, and we revisited the treatment, adapting it into this short story. It always felt like a ballad to us, and the way music appears in the story was as important as the characters themselves.
Being selected by Momaya means everything. One of us (“D”) had a story chosen as an honorable mention in the 2010 Momaya Review, which was tremendously exciting. Being selected again as 3rd place winner this year is a wonderful and humbling feeling for both of us.
We’re currently writing the sequel to ALTERED and prepping to write two movie scripts once that’s complete. Then we’ll tackle that array of ideas that are circling the AD Croucher writing airport, waiting for instructions from our air traffic control to land. These include two YA series, and several stand-alone YA novels.
I live in Hampshire, and spend much of my time out walking, conjuring up the next story. I have an MA in Writing from the University of Warwick and have had short stories published in Papercuts, The Draft, Fusion, Momaya Annual Review 2012, Warwick New Writing Society’s Ink Magazine and now the Momaya Annual Review 2013.
The inspiration for “Lily’s Music” was a long time coming. Although I love listening to music and am a world pro at singing in the shower, my musical talent ends there. However, eventually, I started thinking about what life might be like if I could no longer experience music the way I always had. “Lily’s Music” was the result.
Being selected by Momaya is a tremendous honour. Last year my story “The Embers of a Masterpiece” was published under the theme Heat, but to have somehow jumped from there to 1st place is an astonishing feeling – the kind that makes you freeze solid for a minute before you go running down the stairs to phone everyone you know.
I am currently writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel aimed at young adults, as well as trying my hand at writing short stories for children. Other than that, I intend to carry on submitting stories to competitions, and hope that they will all be as successful as this one!
My debut crime novel, In Too Deep, was published by Legend Press in June 2013. My first novel for children, The Serpent House, is to be published by Curious Fox in June 2014. I have a Creative Writing PhD from Newcastle University.
Like many of my short stories, When Grocer Jack turned Pirate was inspired by something that really happened in my childhood. In this case, it was the song Theme from a Teenage Opera (Grocer Jack), which spent fifteen weeks in the UK charts in 1967. It’s about an old man dying and when I was very little it used to frighten me (I was very easily spooked as a little child!) So I let this happen to the girl in my story and it is a tale about her overcoming her fears and beginning, just a little, to grow up. I’m also interested in the relationships between sisters, mothers and daughters so the story touches, quite lightly, on this, although I wanted to imply that there was a lot more going on!
I had my very first complete short story accepted for the 2010 Momaya anthology, and I’ll never forget how exciting it was to see it in print. I feel just the same having another story selected for the latest anthology. It’s an honour to be part of such a high quality publication.
I’m editing the children’s novel before next summer’s publication and I am also revising a second crime/suspense novel for Legend Press. I find writing short stories most difficult of all genres, but this has inspired me to keep going!
I’m a recently published writer, living in Gower, south Wales who has come to creative writing later in life than I would have liked. By day, I am co-director (along with my husband Philip) of NB:Design, a branding and design agency. By night, and at weekends, I write across a wide range of genres but have a particular love of the short story and haibun forms. You can see my full bio at www.janefraserwriter.com
As well as coming to writing late in life, I also came to music, taking piano lessons with a gifted musician, one half of a set of twins. It was while I was swotting for my Grade 5 Theory Exam and drawing diagrams of the mathematical values of notes, starting with a breve and “splitting” it down into semibreves, minims, crotchets, quavers etc. that I had the idea to use a semibreve as the conceit for a twin, one half of the egg that was originally a breve. The story came from there, focusing on the closeness and distance between twins, the assumptions of a joint, almost morphed, identity and the search for an identity for the self.
It was a delightful shock when I received the email telling me that my story Semibreves had been selected for publication. As all writers know, writing can be a lonely business and it is hugely satisfying that someone out there connects with your work. As a relatively new writer, I have enjoyed a modicum of success to date in competitions, but I am particularly pleased to have been recognised by a prestige press such as Momaya.
I have recently completed a part time MA (with distinction) at Swansea University, under the fabulous tuition of Stevie Davies and Nigel Jenkins. I am now underway with a PhD and am focusing on sense of place, working towards publishing my first themed collection of short stories set in the Gower peninsula, where I have lived for over forty years.
Although I trained as a professional musician, a decade ago I decided to take my life-long love of writing more seriously.
Since then, I’ve won several prizes for my short stories and founded CreativeWritingMatters.co.uk, which offers a range of writing services and administers The Exeter Novel Prize. Music is a constant source of inspiration for me. My experience as a piano teacher provided the background, although not the characters, for Geoffrey Thompson and the Moonlight Sonata. I have known Beethoven’s masterpiece cast its spell on the most unlikely of teenagers. The political scandal at the time of writing provided me with a suitable hook on which my protagonist would find herself wriggling.
I am enormously proud to receive an Honourable Mention. Publication in the anthology is especially pleasing. If the previous winners are anything to go by, I know I’ll be in excellent company.
I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association new writers’ scheme, and a short story of mine is in their forthcoming anthology. Becoming a published novelist remains my primary ambition.
I have been writing short stories for a year or two. I was a regular contributor to Punch back in the 80s and to BBC Radio comedy (Weekending and The News Huddlines) in the 80s and early 90s. A librarian by profession, I worked in public libraries for half a lifetime and more recently campaigned against cuts to library services where I live in Gloucestershire.
Writing is a lonely business, so the approbation I received from the Momaya Press second prize was a Big Fillip to my writing. The fact that it came on top of four other short story successes in a crazy three week period was a disproportionate boost to my already inflated ego.
I have received other runners up awards and commendations including a second prize from multi-story.co.uk. There’s a story of mine in the Marble City Publishing crime anthology Knife Edge published in May 2013. And I will have two pieces in the Earlyworks Press anthology later this year. I read at the Stroud Short Stories event in 2012, and will be reading at the 2013 Cheltenham Literature Festival in October as part of the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network event. I am a founding member of the writers’ group Somewhere Else, to whom I owe a lot. Without these friends I would still be writing “It was a dark and stormy night…” Special thanks to Big Phillip.
The main inspiration for my writing is love in all its forms. In The Open Door it is the love of a man for his music. The story fictionalises real people and places, and includes a few of my favourite things – modern jazz, New York and whiskers on kittens. I am no fan of my own writing and would like to re-write this and every story I have ever written. Too late for this one now.
So, thanks to Momaya Press I plan to get down to more writing. Right away in fact. Well, soon anyway. I just need to listen to that new album. Then put some lard on the cat’s boil. But right after that. Definitely.
I am an author and creative writing tutor based on Teesside. My short stories have appeared in Neon, Litro, Prole, Tears In The Fence, The Yellow Room and the Stories For Homes anthology. My work (both short stories and novels) has been placed in several prestigious competitions. I offer appraisals and mentoring to writers through my website www.trywriting.co.uk.
Hobo Blues started life as a scene in my, as yet unpublished, novel Rock God Complex: The Mickey Hunter Story but was adapted to become a short story. The novel tells the story of Mickey Hunter, legendary rock guitarist with the band Crown and Kingdom, and follows his rise to fame, fall from glory and attempts to resurrect himself and his band before his song plays out. The inspiration for the novel and the short story it spawned was my favourite rock band Led Zeppelin. When Zep reformed for their one-off Celebration Day concert in 2007 it got me thinking about bands like them who are so tight but end up so fractured. What would make a band who spent years working and playing together, split and what would it take to get them to reform? I wanted to explore the psychology behind that and delve into the driving force behind such musicians by creating a fictional character and following his development from childhood to adulthood.
I am delighted to have impressed the judges with my work in such a competitive field. To see my work in print in a prestigious publication like the Momaya Annual Review is a fantastic boost to my confidence as a writer.
This year I begin working towards my PhD in Creative Writing at Northumbria University after being awarded full funding for my project to write the second novel of my Irish Trilogy. The first novel, GREEN DAWN AT ST ENDA’S, will be published by Cinnamon Press in early 2016 to coincide with the centenary of the Dublin Easter Rising on which the novel is based.
When not sailing a barge around the canals of France, I’m with my partner visiting family scattered over four continents. The travel bug has pulled me to fascinating countries such as Italy and Nepal, with jobs as diverse as interpreting, dishwashing and checking remote clinics in the jungles of Africa. As long as I can write, I’m happy in the country or city, but like to be in reach of theatres, arty films, quirky bookshops.
My inspiration for writing comes from this amazing world around us. At odd moments, while people-watching or browsing local newspapers, a story will pop out of nowhere. This one – The Piano Teacher – was inspired by a peoples’ court on Italian radio (a rich source of situations). As a fan of both classical music and jazz, I felt the conflict between the story’s protagonists: the rich but uncultured signora imposing her will on her grandson, the impoverished piano teacher torn between fostering a love of music in his pupil and earning his fee. The story suggested springtime in a Tuscan village in the post-war jazz age period. It needed a crowd to take sides, a Sunday morning gathering of townsfolk in a cobbled square, but most of all it cried out for the child to assert himself, to show his Grandmother he was growing up and had a mind of his own. Long live freedom of choice.
I am a primary school teacher, singer/song-writer and storyteller based in Galloway, south west Scotland. Writing plays a huge role both in my classroom and in keeping me sane. My poetry can be found on www.hellopoetry.com, and has also been published in Poetry Scotland and the Green Handbook, while my songs can be found at therazorbills.bandcamp.com/album/to-hell-with-youth-and-beauty.
The Bird Organ was inspired by the self-perpetuating nature of technology. We live in an age of astonishing technological progress, to the point where progress itself is seen as a worthwhile goal regardless of its consequences. I am in awe of our capabilities, but I worry that we no longer take the time to consider just how necessary new innovations are and that the physical environment, and our relationships in it, often pay a terrible price for our advances. This is a rather heavy subject to tackle, so to make it palatable I approached it as a sort of fairy-tale and with my tongue firmly in my cheek. The result is a kind of Douglas Adams-meets-Hans Christian Anderson piece which I hope readers will laugh at, but will think about for a little while afterwards, too.
I’ve recently developed a lot more ambition for my writing and have been sending off novels, poems, picture books and so on at a furious rate. I could now paper my bedroom with my piles of rejection letters. Having this story published is exactly the encouragement I’ve needed to plough on, and I’m tremendously grateful to Momaya Press for the vote of confidence and for providing an outlet for new writers at a time when publishing can feel like a closed shop.
I am currently seeking representation from agencies in order to promote my two children’s novels, ‘The Choices of Molly Fortune’ and ‘Jack’s Well’. My band, The Razorbills, will soon be releasing their second album after excellent reviews of our first (‘To Hell With Youth and Beauty’), and I have a solo album underway as well. Inspiration is showing no signs of running out, and I’m increasingly determined to find a wider audience for my work.
I am a full time mum, wife and university administrator who tries to fit writing for pleasure in between writing for work, ironing, cooking, cleaning — and sleeping. In former lives I studied history and worked as a Clerk in the House of Lords. I grew up in Norfolk and wherever I am in the world it will always be “home,” a feeling reinforced by my long-standing, passionate (and character building) support for Norwich City Football Club.
The form of a symphony gave me the structure I needed to set my imagination to work. Once I had decided to build a story around it, I wanted to explore the different tempi that a composer might use, and to have fun by mixing something so classical (and often regarded as highbrow and inaccessible) with something rather more mundane. I also wanted to write about the assumptions that people make, particularly about the elderly and what they want and enjoy. I have had personal reasons recently to see the very best and very worst of institutional care and I wanted my character to rebel. That he refused to give in to the horrors of forced sociability and community singing, even if he was doomed to fail, was very important to me. I should also credit my brother-in-law who is a (music) conductor. Although he bears absolutely no resemblance to my character, (I promise) he did lead me to think of the theme of music from the conductor’s point of view. Thank you Jonathan!
Being selected by Momaya Press is the validation that will keep me writing through the cold winter months and help me justify to myself and to others the time I spend doing it. Although I know I would keep writing, come what may, there is no substitute for the buzz that comes with knowing that other writers appreciate what you are trying to do.
In my dreams I will be writing my prize-winning novels from a bijou apartment in the sixth arrondisement in Paris. In reality, I plan to keep submitting short stories to competitions, particularly those that offer feedback, and squeezing the time out of my working days to learn more about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
Being a Liverpudlian I love humour and I like to look at the lighter side of life in my writing. With a full time day job I squeeze writing into an hour or so on the train to work and have typed through my stop more than a few times. I dig the weeds out of my Allotment to relax and get covered in mud; it’s a boy thing.
Being a Liverpudlian and commuting to work on the train I had all the ingredients to write a story about the Beatles meeting up on the Celestial Express, the train to Heaven’s Pearly Gates. I was surrounded by everything Beatles as a kid so all that back story has floated around in my head forever. It was really hard to find an angle to write about them that hadn’t been covered, but in true Beatles fashion it was pretty much written in one go. The whole story just dropped into place within an hour.
I like the idea that even if you are the most famous band the world has ever seen, it doesn’t mean you will be able to just walk in to Heaven. I’m pretty sure God does know everything, but the notion that he makes everyone stand in line like US immigration (unless you are the Rolling Stones) is God’s little joke.
Each one of the Beatles is remembered for different reasons. I felt that John was taken before his time and has unfinished business back on Earth. Paul and George have had fully lives and deserve their place on a cloud. And Ringo… well, it’s back to Limbo I’m afraid! I’m very proud to have Imagine selected by Momaya Press. I’m still pretty much on the bottom rung as a writer and to have some recognition and exposure means a great deal. I hope the piece will be enjoyed by the Momaya readers.
I am about to have my first play, Sting Like a Butterfly, performed at the Liverpool Unity Theatre and I have another play in the pipeline based on my Uncle’s diary of life in the British Royal Navy during the Second World War, called Atlantic Letters. I’ll carry on with short stories and poetry, there is too much inspiration out there to be ignored!
I’m a freelance English lecturer and oral historian living in Manchester, UK. I have always intended to write but got side-lined by work, family, finishing an oral history PhD, and general procrastination. Needing encouragement and deadlines, I started an MA in Writing, at Sheffield Hallam and am now delighted to be writing and actually completing short stories.
The inspiration for this story, Buskers, initially came from a submission theme in What the Dickens magazine. I chose the London Tube as a likely setting. The echoing tunnels amplify the buskers’ music, making it more evocative but the underground at night also lends itself to thoughts of a nightmare attack. The idea of the buskers as ‘guardians’ who could save the protagonist and take revenge on attackers was in my mind from the start but the motivation for the surreal rescue felt a bit weak. I revised it several times and found it worked much better once I developed the memories of the mother as a musician and also highlighted the girl’s regret and longing for her mum.
I am delighted that my story will be published by Momaya Press. It’s a great showcase for new writers and it’s hugely encouraging to be selected when the standard is so high. I can’t wait to see the Momaya Review.
Since last year I have had stories published in What the Dickens magazine, the Scottish Anti-zine, won a Flash Fiction Prize in the online Dark Matter and had a short script performed by professional actors. Now with the Momaya publication I feel inspired to keep on sending work out there and hope to get a publisher for the final short story collection needed for my MA.
Following the publication of some stories during my student years, I moved into the corporate world where I wrote innumerable technical reports. After too many years of that tedium, I returned to writing short fiction. To keep body and soul together, I consult in my technical field. I live in a suburb of Johannesburg that is on the doorstep of that other city, Soweto. My magazine stories have found an African readership.
As an alumnus, I visit the university campus quite regularly. For inspiration for my story, perhaps I had witnessed the encounter of a boy and a girl in the café in the concourse of Senate house, and it refreshed long-ago memories? Perhaps, it recalled things that should have been and could have been, when saying hello was easy and the world out there was still to be faced? Of course, the current multi-cultural milieu of the university affords a very broad canvas for the writer to scribble his notes on.
It is huge to be selected by Momaya Press. An award from such a well-known writing competition and respected publisher is certainly to be appreciated. But its significance goes deeper—to the very heart and soul of a writer. Knowing that your lonely toil is not in vain, is enormously encouraging.
My future plan is to write stories…
At the end of the day, when the traveller seeks refuge in the gathering dark,
there is a yearning to tell of the day’s journey and stumbles along the way,
of pain and fear, joy and exultation, in love and war,
of the wearied spirit and the new sun rising above the morning mist—
… for a story can illuminate both the traveler and the country travelled.
I write scripts and short stories. My short stories have been broadcast on local radio and published in anthologies, on the web and in magazines. They sometimes achieve success in competitions – last year I won the Wells Short Story prize. I love listening to stories being performed, so I run a regular spoken word event in Bath called Story Fridays (see it online at www.awordinyourear.org.uk). My plays have been produced on stage and recorded as audio dramas by a number of production companies.
My story was inspired by hearing, many years ago, rumours about parties held in the ghost stations on London Underground. In those pre-internet days, I was never competent enough (or cool enough) to find the parties, but I’ve always been intrigued by the stations. Sometimes you can glimpse them out of the window as the trains hurtle through the tunnels. I like finding what lies behind facades, the chinks that hint at greater depth and deeper secrets.
It’s lovely to be selected to be published by Momaya Press. I am thrilled to see my story in print, chosen by such a prestigious organisation. Thank you.
As for the future, I am hoping to record more stories, monologues, dialogues and full scripts. I like the merging of story and performance, and I plan to explore this area further.
I lives with my mother on the Yorkshire coast, England, but have also lived in Russia. Following the death of my fiancé in 2009 I published two poetry anthologies for charity. My first novel was published early in 2013 – Spellbound: The Politics of Doom. When I’m not writing, I like reading, or exploring green lanes in my old Land Rover.
Friday 15th March 2013 was “Red Nose Day” – an annual British fundraising event. As well as helping vulnerable people in the UK, these donations save thousands of lives in developing countries. Many of us are familiar with televised scenes of devastation and poverty, and this year’s program went as far as showing infants on the brink of death. A week later I was at a Bible study group and one of our members, Sarah, told us how relieved she was to get a whole night’s sleep. Thanks to her noisy baby, Sam, this was a rare event! I reminded her of those televised reports and despairing mothers who would have given everything to have a baby healthy enough to cry. This struck a chord within the group, and Sarah thanked me for bringing a new perspective to an old problem. How we interpret events changes the world, and a healthy baby crying can sometimes be the sweetest sound of all.
This is the first writing competition I’ve ever entered, and being published by Momaya Press could not have come at a better time. My first meetings with literary agents are penciled in my diary and you have boosted my confidence as a novelist too. One thing’s for sure, Momaya Press is a prestigious catalyst for my writing ambitions.
I aim to complete my fantasy Spellbound trilogy while seeking professional representation. With several novels already plotted in the fantasy and sci-fi genre, I expect to be busy for many years but will continue submitting short stories and articles to competitions and various publications. After all, writing is fun but engaging readers is delightful.
I practised as a Fine Artist for more than 20 years, but am now making pictures with words instead. My four children are growing up and I enjoy travelling as much as possible in my converted camper van with a woodstove to keep warm on those cold evenings. My first novel The Last Time We Saw Marion comes out with Inspired Quill Publishing in April 2014.
My inspiration for White Hope was that sense of waiting for something to happen. The way music influences everything, and in turn evokes thoughts and images, inexplicable yearnings and intense satisfaction. My character had to be waiting for something. She had to feel loss and love and hope. I think it was the image of the white sheets on the line in the sunshine that led into the rest of the story, and because it was morning, the music had to be ‘Morning Mood’. The rest led on from there.
I was touched to have been selected by Momaya Press for publication in their review. I’ve spent the past 3 years working on my skills as a writer and this seems to be the year that my hard work is producing fruit. It’s a privilege to have my work produced alongside the other talented writers, and I’m very happy.
My first novel comes out next year and I’m currently working on my second: Bitter. I intend to continue writing short stories on an on-going basis as well.
I am a New Zealand novelist, poet and short story writer (B.A., H.D.L.I.S., B.Bbl (Hons), M.A.). I have pink hair (representing an extrovert nature with slight rebellious streak) and adore my family. I love singing, writing and reading and hate housework, injustice and snakes. I am a full member of the New Zealand Society of Authors.
The music box is one of my own personal challenges. I am an established author in the regency romance genre, with eighteen titles published, mostly under the Zebra Regency Romance label. The music box is an amusing attempt at writing what is usually an 85,000 word story, with all its traditional elements, in under 3000 words. I like to think I have written the world’s shortest genre romance, though why I should have set myself such a bizarre challenge remains a mystery! Maybe it is just my sense of fun, and my desire to write a quick, warm, feel- good story. I enjoyed the musical elements as singing is dear to my heart, and I loved the idea of my heroine being a thief. Unusual and immediately “arresting” if you’ll pardon the pun!
Being selecting by Momaya Press is a wonderful bonus for me. While I am an experienced novelist, this is only my third short story accepted for publication. The short story genre is really quite different, requiring one to be succinct and very disciplined. Momaya recognizes this and provides motivation to actually put pen to paper, or key to keyboard!
I am currently half way through a full length fan fiction adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I am also finalizing a full anthology of poetry and have a young adult fiction fantasy manuscript clogging up my closet. I would like to work on finding published niches for these. It goes without saying I will also be working on my next Momaya Press competition entry!
I am an Australian writer and psychologist. I have published short stories internationally and won and placed in competitions, sometimes under the name Robyn Singer Rose. I live in Brisbane with my American husband and make frequent trips back to Texas.
I am thrilled, so very thrilled, thrilled to the back teeth and then some to have a story selected by Momaya. I have entered this competition many times with different stories without success. You suggested I should be proud and I am very proud of this story. Thank you.
The use of metaphor inspired the writing. The topic was born out of my work as a psychologist in Catholic welfare. I like to write about the unsaid, inner workings and secrets. The human condition is to judge, sometimes causing untold misery to each other. I hope what I write will broaden the readers response to social change.
I have a novel length manuscript, a psychological thriller in the market for a publisher. I will continue to write and publish Flash fiction. I intend to write two more novel length manuscripts if I successfully get the above published. I am also now eager to write on the captivity theme for the next competition.
I’ve been a writer since my teenage years – the occasional piece of blogging, travel writing and music journalism – but have only been writing fiction since 2011. So far it’s going well: my short stories have been published by The Fiction Desk, Litro, Prole, Writers’ Forum, the “Stories for Homes” anthology (in aid of the housing charity Shelter), and various places online. My short story “Me, Robot” was also adapted for performance by the theatre group Berko Speakeasy, and earlier this year, I was awarded runner up prize in the Ink Tears Short Story Competition. I live in Mitcham, work in broadcasting and can be found online at www.mikescottthomson.com.
For “Mrs. Morris and the Celebrated Chop Waltz”, I drew upon my past relationship with music. At school I studied it; at university I did one of the UK’s first degrees in Music Management; then, for many years afterwards, I worked in the music industry. In retrospect, it is interesting to me that whilst I got into music because I liked to both play and listen to it, I eventually ended up in a place where music was a product, no more, no less: a thing to be packaged, marketed and sold, purely to make money. It’s an age-old conundrum, not just in music but in all the arts: what’s it to be? Huge commercial success or artistic integrity? Can you really have both?
I may have written a story about a musician faced with this dilemma, but to me, the story of a disenchanted music fan (with a punk-spirited distrust of authority and the consequences that brings) gave the idea a fresh angle. Plus, those free “Play Me” pianos seem a wonderful yet strange sort of paradox. You find them in shopping malls – nothing more commercial than that – but they’re not “for” anything; not trying to sell useless tat. They just are.
Having a story selected for publication by Momaya Press is a big honour. When I started writing short fiction, I regarded the quality and variety of the Momaya anthologies as a benchmark to aspire to. It’s wonderful to be joining such an illustrious roster!
As for the future, I love the short story form, so for the near future at least, I’ll continue to write short fiction – whether it be for specific publications, competitions or completely random pieces done for my own amusement (and there’s been a few of those!). But, at some point, there will also be a novel; I’m still plotting and planning at the moment, but I’m expecting it to spring forth in 2014.
An engineer by profession, writing has become a cherished pastime and an escape from the over logical. I was previously short-listed in a competition run by The Telegraph newspaper but this is my first published story. I recently gave up my job in a Chinese government company to focus more on this passion.
What was my inspiration for the story in this year’s review? I was sitting on the rooftop of a courtyard café in the ancient centre of Beijing. It was one of the rare days where both the sky and I were free from a blanket of pollution and I was watching the clouds float between the drum and the bell towers. Thinking over Momaya’s theme of music, it came to me that the clouds and the spaces in-between might represent just that. I then wanted to take this interesting idea and give it to an innocent, emotional, human situation; which became the basis for this story.
To be selected for publication in the Momaya Press review is nothing short of astonishing. For my first printed story to appear in such a high quality anthology is a genuine surprise and a significant milestone for my writing ambition. And really just what a relief, perhaps I don’t spend each day scribbling nonsense.
To be a published author has been and continues to be the dream. When inspiration takes hold, I will also keep up with the greatly enjoyable writing of short stories. After all, what else am I going to do?
Meet the Momaya Press Judges
Andy Callus is a newswire journalist who works as a copy editor for Reuters in London’s Canary Wharf. He began his working life in 1980s Fleet Street, and has reported for Reuters and other newswires in Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and Hanoi.
Andy’s thoughts on The Place That Will Keep Us: We are inside the head of a homeless girl stealing bread for herself and whisky for her alcoholic brother before she has even left the store. Packed tight with character, action and color, if a short story could be described as high definition, then it might look something like this. We race along – a “one-cop” town in Montana – “I fixed Henry up, like I always do,” – “I can see it in his eyes, he knows there are cookies out there in the world with his name on ’em, and he knows I got ’em”. There is not a word wasted. Each sharpens the mood as scraps of family life, unconditional love and acres of hope wage war on waste and violent drunkenness.
Kay Peddle was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2006. She has worked at a small South African literary press as a copy-editor, completed an MA in International Publishing at Oxford Brookes University, an internship at The World Bank and has done reading for a leading literary agency based in Oxford. She is currently an editor at Random House.
Polly Courtney is an “accidental” novelist whose works include Golden Handcuffs, a semi-autobiographical exposé on city life, and It’s a Man’s World, a controversial take on the world of lads’ mags. A fierce champion of the underdog, she is known for breaking free from HarperCollins in protest at the titles and cover designs assigned to her books. For more information, please visit www.pollycourtney.com
Polly’s thoughts on The Open Door: This story stood out for me on many levels. I loved its carefully crafted storyline and confident, steady build-up to the reader’s realisation about the narrator. The writer’s descriptive style really brought this story to life – in particular his/her references to the music: a ‘fiery, emotional cauldron of sound’. As a reader, I felt genuinely moved by Charlie Parker’s relationship with his music – if a little saddened with respect to his poor wife (no doubt the author’s intention!) – as I was transported to the depths of the damp-walled, throbbing jazz club of yesteryear with its peeling posters, brass-wielding fans and greasy chicken wings. While some short stories feel more like a scene from a longer work, this felt to me like a neat, well-planned, self-contained story that was very satisfying and enjoyable to read. A great story with the musical theme pulsing right through its heart. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in future.
Alice Shepherd works in website management and digital marketing. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Editor at Penguin, where she worked on a wide range of commercial fiction. Having started her publishing career at Abner Stein literary agency, she then went on to work at Headline Publishing Group. She continues to edit manuscripts in her own time.
Alice’s thoughts on Lily’s Music: The judges admired Lily’s Music for a number of reasons but chief among them was the way Lily’s reality as a young deaf girl was so cleverly hinted at before being revealed half way through the story. We see Lily on holiday with her parents and brother; a fourteen-year-old girl who is fearful when she finds herself separated from them temporarily, but also unmistakably intrigued when she finds herself on the receiving end of attention from an older man. Her surroundings are revealed to us in a very sensory way; we are told of the ‘grit’ scouring its way between her foot and her flip-flop, the music of a flute that ‘flutters around her collarbone’, and the smell of ‘stale sweat’. However, it isn’t until we witness her brother in a conversation with the older man that we realise Lily is deaf, and along with this come a few more realisations: we understand why Lily’s parents were so concerned at her getting lost, why the reverberations of the music have such a powerful effect on her, and why Lily is so wordless when the older man she is clearly intrigued by speaks to her. The sensory descriptions make perfect sense in this new context of Lily being deaf.
The judges also liked the story’s rather shocking conclusion; when the older man approaches Lily to talk to her, her father reacts defensively. It’s clear that there’s a mixture of emotions in Lily – she is wary of the stranger, but also feels a ‘shiver run up her spine’ when her father sees her talking to him. When her brother tells the man that she is deaf, she is enraged, not wanting her deafness to be known to him. As Lily stews alone in her room, oblivious to all around her, the man enters the room, but is stopped before anything could happen. The reader feels that something important has happened to Lily in this moment – a coming of age, or a loss of innocence in some sense; a girl who only moments ago wanted nothing more than to be apart from her family finds that she still needs them.
Photos, Videos & Speeches from previous Momaya Press Awards:
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2014
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2013
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2012
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2011
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2010
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2009
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2008
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2007
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2006
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2005
Momaya Press Awards Ceremony 2004