Shooter Poetry Competition is open

Hot on the heels of the 2016 Short Story Competition, Shooter offers the same shot at fame* and fortune** to the rising stars of the poetry world.

The 2016 Poetry Competition welcomes poems on any subject, in any style, up to 125 lines long. We’re looking for sharply observed poetry with strong ideas and imaginative use of language: in short, arresting poems that appeal to both the head and the heart.

In return for the entry fee of £3 per poem (or a discounted £8 for three poems), ALL ENTRANTS will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s winter issue, in which the winning poem will appear. The deadline for entries is October 30, 2016. Full guidelines can be found here; we look forward to reading your work!

 

*The winning poem will be published in the pages of Shooter and online, while the runner-up will be published on Shooter’s website.

**Cash prizes of £100 and £50 for the winner and runner-up.

Issue #4: Technology is here!

Shooter issue 4 cover

Illustration by Louis-Cesar Leroux

Technology increasingly dominates our lives, from digital communication and wirelessly connected gadgetry to robot workers and cutting-edge innovations in fields like energy, agriculture and health. But do these developments benefit us in terms of broadened social circles and the saving of both time and lives, or do they corrode our relationships and the very fabric of society?

Such questions drove many of the writers submitting work to Issue #4 of Shooter. A majority chose to focus on social media’s impact on love and relationships, exploring side-effects like alienation and envy. Alexandra Coulton, our first writer with both poetry and prose in a single issue, chose to examine such consequences in “Status” and “The Girl in the Machine”, her essay about Facebook stalking.

Similarly, in “Look Up, It’s Me”, Katherine Harrison hones in on phone-obsession with a blackly satirical eye, while Chris Donald depicts the emotional and physical disconnection of digital dating in “At a Distance”. John Cleland (a pseudonym taken from, aptly enough, the author of Fanny Hill, the first erotic novel in English) questions whether sexual intimacy is helped or hindered by the latest in erotic technology, from sexting to teledildonics, in his non-fiction piece “Adventures in Techno-Sexual Land”.

David Green (“Messages”) and Adam Connors (“Identity”) explore ways in which technology enables people to don the mantle of others, testing the edges of their characters’ sanity in the process. In keeping with Connors’ dystopian vision, Jon Wesick, too, imagines the downside of digital retirement in the ironically titled “A Better World”.

Many contributors to the issue lace their skepticism with humour. Gregory Jackson and Don Hogle meld modern technology with historical figures in their amusingly anachronistic poems. Gretchen Ryan takes wordplay to its limit in “Cyber Attacks!”, while Nick Roth rounds out the issue with a comic letter heralding maternal resurrection in “Crynodyne Congratulates You”.

In the single, significant departure from the theme, Issue #4 features the winner of Shooter’s inaugural Short Story Competition. Ka Bradley (who, unsurprisingly, turned out to be an editor at Granta and Portobello Books) produced by far the most compelling submission: original, challenging, edgy and dark in both humour and subtext. No doubt Bradley, in addition to bringing noteworthy writers to light at some of the UK’s best independent presses, will soon be publishing fiction of her own more widely. For now, enjoy her winning story, “Examination for Empathy, Sympathy, Emotion (ESE) 004”, both online and in the pages of Shooter.

Order an annual subscription or a copy of the Technology Issue here.

And the winners are…

We decided to launch a short story competition at Shooter (and a poetry competition in the second half of the year) as a complementary means of spotlighting new literary talent. It’s a useful way, beyond the themed requirements of the print magazine, to open up an avenue for writers with diverse concerns and styles to gain notice. Winning a literary competition boosts authors of the future one rung farther up the ladder to publication, helping to attract the attention of publishers or agents. It provides a simple but vital surge of encouragement to writers who might be working in isolation, lacking regular feedback or a sense of their work’s artistic worth.

There was a clear winner of the 2016 Shooter Short Story Competition: Ka Bradley, for “Examination for Empathy, Sympathy, Emotion (ESE) 004”. Inventively framed and immediately absorbing, Bradley’s story zeroed in on the minutiae of a miserable commuter experience with darkly humorous, razor-sharp observation. Fundamentally, it was also beautifully written: the baseline requirement for any good story, whether genre or literary, fantastical or realistic, historical or contemporary. This is what Shooter stands for and seeks to uphold.

The runner-up, Laura Lamb, won second place for her imaginative fable “The Collector”, about the unusual way a man manages to conquer his fear of public speaking. Both stories will be published on Shooter’s website following publication of the summer issue, which will also feature Bradley’s winning story.

An honourable mention goes to Angelita Bradney for “Lobsterfest”, about a waitress at a seafood restaurant on the island of Jersey, who exacts a satisfying revenge on her psychologically abusive boss.

At this early stage, Shooter’s prize money is a small pot compared to many other literary awards, funded solely by proceeds from subscriptions. (Sales of the magazine at bookstores like Foyles, at live literary events, and to subscribers also enable us to pay every issue’s contributors, as well as the cover artist.) We plan to apply for Arts Council funding to increase the competition prizes. As a token of appreciation, at least, all entrants to the competition will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s summer issue, so everyone gains something in return for entering.

As Shooter continues to grow, we aim to increase our support for a high standard of literary writing through greater exposure and magazine circulation, as well as remuneration for authors. In the meantime, huge congratulations to Ka Bradley and Laura Lamb for their compelling work, and many thanks to all the writers who entered the 2016 Shooter Short Story Competition. We hope you’ll keep writing and try again next year!

Submissions open for Issue #4: Technology

Staring into screens all day as so many of us now do, it’s not surprising to end up contemplating the extent to which fast-evolving technologies improve our lives – or deaden us to reality.

Given the impact that cutting-edge technology will continue to have on our lives – whether in the fields of medicine, agriculture, energy, warfare, entertainment, love or pretty much any area of human life – it seems that this is a crucial theme for writers to contemplate. Scientific advances may keep people alive for longer; but what will be the quality of life? Industry has polluted the earth to levels that ultimately may threaten our survival; will environmental innovation develop in time to combat the effects of climate change? The global population continues to mushroom; how will we manage to feed the planet? The latest dating apps arguably encourage grass-is-greener syndrome and an expedient attitude towards sex and romance; in light of this, how will people build loving relationships and stable families?

With so many significant issues swirling around technology, Shooter invites submissions of short fiction, non-fiction and poetry on that theme for its summer issue. We’ll favour pieces that grapple with the effect of real technologies (either those already in existence or currently being developed) over imaginary technologies of futuristic science-fiction. Fantastical sci-fi will be considered, but must either be related to a current technology or be of an exceptionally high literary standard. Whether in the form of a gadget, digital app, scientific development or cutting-edge process, technology can form either a small or large part of the story or poem, but in all cases work should address the impact that technology has on human experience, interaction or way of life.

As always, Shooter places a high value on entertaining, emotionally engaging stories that feature elegant writing and compelling characters. Irrespective of genre, writing must be of a high literary standard. Poetry that inclines to the observational, rather than experimental, end of the spectrum is preferred. Non-fiction can take the form of an opinion essay, personal memoir or reported piece of narrative journalism; non-fiction writers may query Melanie White at editor.shooterlitmag@gmail.com if they wish to run an idea past her first.

Prose writers may submit one story of 2,000 to 7,500 words, while poets may submit up to three poems by the deadline of April 24th. Shooter also seeks original illustrations for the cover; artists should send samples of their work or a link to their portfolio to artwork.shooterlitmag@gmail.com. For submission guidelines and further details, please visit www.shooterlitmag.com/submissions.

Shooter launches short story competition

Shooter has launched its first Short Story Competition, with cash prizes and publication both in Shooter’s summer issue and online.

Unlike regular submissions to the magazine, competition entries may be any theme or genre. Consequently writers are offered the chance to write about whatever they find most compelling, in any style, to any length up to 5,000 words. Shooter seeks imaginative, surprising, absorbing and beautifully written stories that bring characters to life and elicit an emotional response from the reader. In short, well written tales that appeal to both the head and the heart.

In return for the £7 entry fee, ALL ENTRANTS will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s summer 2016 issue, which will feature the winning story.

  • The winner of the 2016 Shooter Short Story Competition will receive £150, publication in the summer issue and on the website, and promotion on Shooter’s social media.
  • The runner-up will receive £50, publication on Shooter’s website, and promotion on social media.
  • All entrants will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s summer issue.
  • Stories may be any theme or genre, and any length up to 5,000 words.
  • The competition is open to entries through May 1, 2016.
  • All proceeds from entry fees go toward prizes, contributor payments and Shooter’s production costs, supporting the magazine’s mission to promote the best new writing and encourage the principle of paying writers for their work.

For guidelines on how to enter, please visit www.shooterlitmag.com/competition.

Shooter will hold a poetry competition during the second half of the year, with the winning entry to be published in the winter issue. Details for poets will be announced in August 2016.

Issue 3: Surreal is here!

Shooter issue 3 front cover

Cover illustration by Nevena Katalina

The most bizarre thing to emerge from the Surreal issue, aside from the strange twists of the stories and imaginative turns of the poetry, turned out to be the surprising lack of literary non-fiction wending its way to Shooter.

While I was delighted to assemble an issue full of comic takes on religious myths, unlikely circumstances, and human emotions explored to metaphorical extremes, I had hoped writers might also examine mental illness and everyday sexism, perhaps, or personal experiences of supernatural encounters, dreams and nightmares. Although I wasn’t looking for obvious essays on Surrealist artists, 2015 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of seminal TV show Twin Peaks; I would have welcomed a piece to do with David Lynch. The director’s signature magnification of the ordinary, the way he hones in on the weirdness in the everyday, represents the most compelling kind of surreal artistry.

The lesson appears to be that non-fiction must be commissioned, perhaps because of the greater legwork of research or reportage involved. Maybe non-fiction writers require greater reassurance that readers would be interested in their work. There are certainly fewer forums for essays, memoirs and creative non-fiction in the UK than in the US, where there are about fifteen times as many print publications showcasing such work, according to Duotrope. Shooter will go a small way toward redressing the balance.

Thankfully, I did find a great deal to transport and surprise readers in this issue’s submissions of fiction and poetry. Some of the strongest innovation came from the poets, with intriguing plays on subject and form made by Sara Backer, Mary Petralia and Ariela Freedman in the first three poems.

In his hilarious tale “The Cat Licked Its Paws”, Nick Burbidge conjures the hallucinatory consequences of literary madness, appropriately enough, in the context of a creative writing class. João Cerqueira and Sharon Eckman twist Biblical themes in comic style in “Eve’s Backside” and “Dinner for Four”. Sophie Sellars and Mark Charney play with more secular concepts of heroes in “Macramé for Beginners” and “The Origins of Biodegradable Man”.

The most overtly surreal takes on the theme can be found in Mi L Holliday’s celestially strange poem “A Mother’s Concern” and David Hartley’s sci-fi fantasy “A Time Before Horses”, in which time-travelling steeds confront a terrifying creature. A pair of stories, Die Booth’s “In Hope” and Larry Lefkowitz’s “The Ultimate Collector”, depict the search for a perfect partner, while Pam McWilliams’ heroine in “The Fandango” resorts to extreme measures to escape her decidedly imperfect husband. Finally, a single girl on the threshold of thirty awakes, in Anne Summerfield’s “Finding Herself”, to a metamorphosis far more outlandish than that of man into bug.

If shy non-fiction writers need to be courted, it’s appropriate that I came by this issue’s sole non-fiction piece courtesy of dating website OK Cupid. I was grateful that Thomas Percy Hughes agreed to let me publish part of “Two Years a Tramp”, a true account of his extraordinary recent exploits, which saw him careen thousands of miles across Europe, mostly on foot, with unusual sexual encounters, police brutality, prison and homelessness as waypoints. If Charles Bukowski and Hank Moody had a literary lovechild, they might have spawned Hughes; the rawness and black humour of his piece make for a riveting read, proving once again the truth of the adage that fact is stranger than fiction.

Order a copy of the Surreal issue here: www.shooterlitmag.com/subscriptions.

Shortlisted work for the Surreal issue

We’ve read, we’ve tallied, we’ve whittled down to a shortlist and, following the submissions deadline two weeks ago, faced quite a tough challenge to select the pieces for publication from about five percent of entries. We’ve now notified the writers whose work will appear in the Surreal issue, the top stories and poems from more than 400 submissions.

However, there were a few that very nearly made the cut, and we want to acknowledge those shortlisted writers here for their variously imaginative, strange, diverting, innovative and stirring work. Many thanks to all who submitted and get your orders in now to snag a copy of Issue #3 in January!

Poetry:

Chelsey Harris, “Remembering Nate” and “My Brother Gets Interviewed About His Murdered Friend”

Tania Hershman, “Me and Elvis Do Dartmoor”

Tom McColl, “Commas Kill”

Abegail Morley, “Dressing for the Moment” and “Seamless”

Stories:

Alex Eastlake, “Broken Dreams”

Jessica Goodard, “Willie’s Body”

Tom Howard, “Last Train to Oblivion”

Claire Lawrence, “Last Flight of the Vespa Mandarinia Japonica”

Isabel Miles, “Badgered”