Spooky real estate parable wins competition

home auction picThe winners of Shooter’s 2017 Short Story Competition have been announced, with Emma Parfitt scooping the top prize for her supernatural parable about London’s brutal housing market, “Baby’s Day Out”, and Jim Brannin as runner-up for his poignant tale of ageing, “The White Cat”.

Parfitt, an English teacher in Kent by day, has previously written several Young Adult e-books, but in recent years has turned to writing fiction for older readers. Her winning story was the fruit of a creative writing course at the Faber Academy in London.

“At a certain point I couldn’t afford to live in London any more, so I had that experience of being pushed out of the housing market myself,” she said via email, “though not in quite such an extreme manner as in the story.”

“Baby’s Day Out” is a rare hybrid of literary horror, as well as the first ghost story Shooter has published (it will appear in Shooter’s print magazine, the upcoming “Bad Girls” issue, as well as online). Competition readers and Shooter’s editor, Melanie White, enjoyed the way it worked as social commentary as well as an effectively spooky – and unexpected – ghost story. They also lauded the elegant, polished quality of the writing.

“Winning something like Shooter’s competition is so encouraging,” Parfitt said. “It has definitely spurred me on to keep at it and persevere with longer-form work, which can feel much more daunting.” She is currently working on a novel, also in the genre of literary horror, set in London’s financial world.

Jim Brannin’s second-place story, “The White Cat”, focused closely on dilemmas of ageing, with a protagonist who engaged and moved the readers. Brannin, who splits his time between Barcelona and London, has co-authored seven books of non-fiction and published several short stories in literary journals.

Both “Baby’s Day Out” and “The White Cat” can be read on Shooter’s website. The winning story will also appear in Shooter’s summer issue, out soon. For subscriptions or to order a copy of the print edition in advance, please visit the Subscriptions page.

Shooter’s annual Short Story Competition will reopen for entries early next year, while the magazine’s Poetry Competition will open later this summer. Details on how to enter will be posted on the website. ‘Til then, enjoy all winning stories and poems on the Competition Winners page!

Take a trip into Issue #5: Cities


Cover art by Erin Schuetz

In the era of the staycation, travel writing offers a metaphorically transporting way to experience distant realms. With the “Cities” issue, we sought pieces that captured the flavour of a place without sacrificing narrative: more literary than literal guide. The fiction, memoir, reportage and poetry we ended up with convey a strong sense of a particular city (or an imagined one) while keeping character, plot and style to the fore.

We were delighted to find an abundance of captivating pieces that whisk the reader around the world, across Europe, America, Asia, and even into the dystopian urban future. The range among the non-fiction offerings has never been broader, from Emma Rault’s Brit’s-eye-view of LA (“Los Angeles, Seen from a Tree”) to Cheryl Lynn Smart’s impassioned in-depth report on the housing projects of Memphis (“The Bricks”). Judith Roney poetically takes the pulse of Orlando following last year’s nightclub shootings in “<80 BPM”, while Conor Montague depicts backpackers in Gorakhpur with comic flair in “The Integrity of Cockroaches”.

In addition to poems distilling key aspects of Paris and New York, Dundee and Liverpool, of particular note is the winning entry in Shooter’s inaugural Poetry Competition. Miriam Celeste Ramos scooped the prize with “The Long Arm” for its raw energy, surging Beat-style rhythm, and emotional power. Her poem, along with that of runner-up Stephen Williams, also appears online.

Many of the issue’s short stories play with perception as well as place. Paul Blaney’s “A Lisbon Story” seemed a good choice to open the edition given its sharp sense of setting and the kind of questions it raises about identity and invention, opportunities for which cities so frequently present. Sarah Evans, in “The Architecture of Emotion”, reflects her main character’s inner turmoil in London’s outer landscape. Dave Wakely’s “In the Gut” also elegantly explores heartache, this time in the Maltese capital of Valletta, while the protagonist in P W Lewis’s “A Tale of Two” becomes mired in a murky world of art and infidelity in Vienna.

Culture clash emerges as another common theme. Máire Cooney’s Glaswegian schoolgirl has trouble adjusting to Edinburgh life in “Nobody Said Anything”. A stint teaching English in Hong Kong shatters the main character’s illusions in Joshan Esfandiari Martin’s “Charmed Lives”. And not just culture but survival clashes loom in Malachi King’s “The Waters of Michigan”, when two post-apocalyptic survivors roam an unnamed city, dreaming of a better place.

When cities become visions of hell, what idyll beckons with greatest allure? The country.

To order a copy, please visit the Subscriptions page.

Submissions open for Issue #6: Bad Girls

While we wait for the “Cities” issue to return from the printers, writers can sharpen their pencils and flex their fingers in preparation for the summer issue’s theme: “Bad Girls”.


Illustration by Arthur M. Doweyko: http://www.ArthurMDoweyko.com

As the peerless Rebecca Solnit writes in the London Review of Books about the US election, “One got the impression that any power a woman had was too much, and that a lot of men found women very scary.” In line with the kind of women feared by patriarchy, Shooter seeks literary short fiction, non-fiction and poetry featuring not the Playboyesque, video-game, comic-book notions of Bad Girls, but defiant women who speak up and act out. We want to read about convention-defying antiheroines and unapologetic badasses who carve their own path. Give us the antics and mishaps of adventurers, intrepid souls and challenging contrarians, but make sure these characters are surprising and complex rather than reductive and cartoonish. Non-fiction that deals with topical feminist issues and women in male-dominated environments is particularly welcome. As usual, we prefer poetry that inclines to the observational rather than experimental end of the spectrum.

Please read the Submission Guidelines for information on how to submit. Writers may send one prose piece (between 2,000 and 7,500 words) and/or up to three poems to submissions.shooterlitmag@gmail.com by April 2nd, 2017, for inclusion in the summer issue.

Submissions are also open for Shooter’s 2017 Short Story Competition, which carries a slightly later deadline of April 16th, 2017, with no restrictions on theme. Please go here to read more on how to submit to the competition – we look forward to reading your work!

Ramos wins Poetry Competition

Miriam Celeste Ramos has won Shooter’s inaugural Poetry Competition with “The Long Arm”, a free-verse poem that impressed the contest’s readers with its raw energy and emotional power.

Ramos, a New Yorker living in London, said she originally wrote the poem to be performed aloud – fitting for verse with a strong voice and insistent, Beat-style rhythm. In addition to poetry, Ramos has written fiction, films and essays; more about her work can be found at www.miriamisms.tumblr.com. As the winning entry, “The Long Arm” appears in Shooter Issue #5 (to be released next week), as well as online here.

A humorous poem, “B&Q Blues” by Stephen Williams, finished second in the contest and also appears online. Williams writes comic poetry and teaches secondary school English in North Yorkshire; he maintains a poetry website at www.jiggerypoetry.com.

All winners from Shooter’s short story and poetry competitions can be found on the Competition Winners page. The 2017 Short Story Competition will open for submissions next week (along with submissions for Shooter’s summer issue), and the Poetry Competition will return in August – stay tuned for further details!

Read winning stories online

If you’re looking for a little late summer diversion, both the winner and runner-up of Shooter’s 2016 Short Story Competition are now available online for your reading pleasure.

Ka Bradley’s winning tale, “Examination for Empathy, Sympathy, Emotion (ESE) 004”, appeared on the website in conjunction with the launch of Issue #4: Technology, in which the story also appeared. The competition runner-up, Laura Lamb’s “The Collector”, is posted exclusively on Shooter’s website.

Inventively framed and immediately absorbing, “Examination for Empathy, Sympathy, Emotion (ESE) 004” zeroes in on the minutiae of a miserable commuter experience, with darkly humorous, razor-sharp observation. “The Collector”, a whimsical and imaginative fable, depicts the unusual way a man manages to conquer his fear of public speaking.

These winning stories exhibit different literary strengths and styles, but both amount to the kind of work that Shooter seeks to champion: original ideas and execution, beautifully wrought language, an intriguing premise, compelling characters and, fundamentally, writing that appeals to both the head and the heart.

You, the reader, can play an important role in helping to support these new writers by sharing links to their work on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, and, if you like what you read, please feel free to leave comments. Our next story competition will open in January 2017 but, until then, we hope you’ll enjoy these winning tales from our inaugural contest!

Submissions open for Issue #5: Cities


“Brooklyn” by Richard Chance: http://richardachance.com


The fifth issue of Shooter Literary Magazine will take the geographic theme of Cities, drawing upon the vitality and diversity of urban life – or, depending on the writer’s perspective, the grinding challenges of the crowded, fast-paced metropolis.

Writers may submit short fiction, non-fiction and poetry to do with historic, contemporary or futuristic cities, engaging with some aspect of the politics, pressures and allure of the urban experience. On the non-fiction side, insightful travel pieces revealing something unusual or unique about any city around the world are especially welcome.

Prose should fall between 2,000 and 7,500 words, and poets may submit up to three poems by October 16th, 2016. As always, Shooter seeks to uphold a high literary standard, so the quality of the writing is paramount. A vividly conjured urban setting is not enough to make a compelling story: we’re looking for pieces that explore some aspect of human experience unique to a city, stories that lead with character and illuminate the universal by means of the particular. Similarly, sharply observational, insightful poetry is preferred to obscure experimental fare.

For further guidelines on how to submit to Issue #5, please visit the Submissions page.

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.