Remember the Rainbows – Guest Judge – Laura Besley

Thrilled to announce that the amazing LAURA BESLEY is the Guest Judge for our #remembertherainbow #writingcompetition!

Laura has recently been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers with her story ‘On Repeat’ (Reflex Fiction). Her flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers, was published in March 2020, and her new book 100neHundred is available now with Arcane Press.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @laurabesley and Facebook: @besley_laura.

BABYBABBLE editor, Lauren Hayhurst, chats to Laura about her new book, her lockdown experience, and Laura shares exactly what she’s looking for in your Remember the Rainbows submissions…

BB: What was your motivation behind writing 100neHundred? What does it mean to you?

LB: I started writing 100-word stories a long time ago when I discovered an online competition run by morgen Bailey. Each month is themed and you can enter up to three. I’ve entered almost every month for years, amassing so many that the idea started brewing about putting a collection together. Along the way, I totally fell in love with this form of storytelling: the challenge of writing a story in such a tight space, having to meticulously choose each and every word to carry meaning and earn its place. I’m so immensely grateful that these tiny tales have been collated into a collection for others to hopefully read and enjoy.

BB: Are there one or two particular stories in 100neHundred that you could tell us about?

LB: A particularly fun story to write was ‘Out of Sight’ about a tiny man who is “the voice” inside a toy dinosaur. That one came about because I was up early one morning writing and my youngest son’s dinosaur suddenly sprang into life (as toys sometimes do) and scared the life out of me. It sparked an idea which became that story.

There is a triptych (previously published on Ellipsis Zine under the title of: Life Forms) which consists of three interlinked stories with the same main character. And The Monthly Checker Part I & II are the same story effectively, but told from different points of view.

There are lots of stories that are poignant to me, but one that stands out is the first one in the collection, ‘Arrhythmia’, the reason being that it was one of the first stories I wrote that I would say is a little ‘quirky’. For me this was a definite shift in my writing style and this quirkiness is something I’ve since embraced and am writing more and more of.

BB: When thinking back to this year of lockdown in the future, what 3 things would you like your children to know about?

LB: I’d like them to know that the most important thing for me was their safety and they were ‘stuck at home’ for a reason; I’d like them to know that I was so grateful they had each other and most of the time they got on. It’s because of this enforced and prolonged time together that they love and adore each other so much; I’d like them to know that although I love them dearly, I needed to continue writing, not only as therapy and to make sense of the scary world around me, but to continue to have an identity of my own, alongside being their mum.

BB: How have you managed to keep writing during lockdown? Do you have any tips for mums trying to write with limited time and sanity available?!

LB: I think there are predominantly two types of writers: those who need to have their ‘house’ in order before they can write and those that write to get their ‘house’ in order. What I mean by this is that some people can’t write if their to do list isn’t complete – there are too many distractions for them, in their heads or otherwise, that won’t allow them the headspace to write. And there are those who need to write to boost their energy to get through the to do list. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just who we are. I’m very much the second kind. My house could practically be falling down around me and I’d still be trying to finish that piece of writing.

Fitting writing in around kids, especially during lockdown, was hard. One thing I did was put a notebook in the kitchen and if I had an idea, I quickly jotted it down before I forgot it. Another thing I did was fall back on an old trick: getting up before anyone else. This can be 15 minutes or 3 hours. Whatever you feel you have the energy for. I know not everyone is a morning person (and then it’s probably not recommended!), but for me it really works. I get up, make a cup of tea and write for an hour before the kids wake up and then no matter how the rest of the day goes, I feel like I’ve achieved something and done something for myself and that gives me the energy to get through the day.

BB: And what does ‘good writing’ look like for you?

LB: Good writing is impossible to define. There are obviously a few ‘staples’, like realistic dialogue and well-drawn characters; beautiful prose, alliteration or assonance; an emotional resonance, or an urgency which makes you hold your breath throughout. But a great piece needs more than that; it needs the intangible “wow factor” and that could be anything. I appreciate this isn’t helpful as such, but then no one is writing to a formula. The best tip I think I can give is to write what you want to write. Write whatever is bursting to get out, that story or poem or piece of creative non-fiction. Write something that won’t leave you alone, that bugs you in the middle of the night and you write in stolen moments in the kitchen when the food is slowly burning in the oven or sticking to the pan. That’s the piece that will stand the best possible chance

BB: With that in mind, what are you hoping to find in the Remember the Rainbow submissions?

LB: What I’m looking for first and foremost is a connection to the theme in whichever way the writer or poet decides to interpret that. I’m ready to be awed and shocked, laugh and brought to tears; whichever emotion, I want to feel something deeply and for that piece of writing to stay with me long after I’ve finished reading it.

BB: Thank you so much Laura for taking the time to talk to us! We look forward to sending you the long-list!

To send Laura your best poetry, flash fiction and creative non-fiction,
read the full guidelines and submit here:

For flash fiction inspiration, check out Laura’s new book 100neHundred, there are one-hundred stories – each one-hundred words long: “Laura captures her characters’ universes in vivid detail, their predicaments unspooling and oozing off the page. Brimming with tenderness and triumph, heartbreak and wonderment, 100neHundred is a masterful collection of micro stories that read macro.”

Purchase 100neHundred here and support indie writers and small presses!

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