Monday, 31 January 2011


We at the Chronicle take a pride in our investigative journalism. There are no other journalists like us on West Uist!

We have great pleasure in giving you a little information on our three winners.

First,  Simon Sylvester, whose winning 26 word story LAST ORDERS took first prize.

Simon Sylvester

Simon was born in 1980. His short stories have been published in magazines including Smoke, Gutter and Fractured West. His nanofiction collection 140 Characters is published by Cargo Crate, and he writes new stories daily on

Photo by

He lives in Cumbria with the abstract painter Monica Metsers, earning his crust as a teacher, journalist and labourer. 

His nanofiction collection is available as an ebook or as a print on demand paperback from Cargo Press at

Why don't you check out his stories on twitter and his collection on Cargo Press. Just click the links.

And in second place with his story MEMORIES

Andy McNab
I was born in 1986 in deepest Yorkshire.

I have dabbled in History and Law at various institutions in Hull, London and York for several years now.

I am an avid reader and I have always fantasised about writing something of my own, but a lack of confidence has hindered me from putting pen to paper.

Fortunately in my haste to hide from my textbooks I stumbled upon the addictive medium of FLASH FICTION. And thought I would try my luck.

This is my first attempt at writing anything and I am very happy that people seemed to enjoy my story!

And in third place with his story D.I.D. SHE DO IT

Joe Lunn
I was born in 1985 in Cawthorne, Barnsley. You can follow me on twitter!/Joelunn07

I have been interested in writing stories from a young age although not so much in my teen years. This competition has given me great encouragement to write more stories in the future.

This is the first time I've entered a writing competition and I was extremely pleased and surprised to have done so well. I guess the endless hours I've spent watching crime movies  and episodes of C.S.I. have inspired me to write my story.

This is my first attempt at writing anything and I am very happy that people seemed to enjoy my story!

And we certainly enjoyed all of your stories.

Congratulations again, guys!

Calum Steele
Keith Souter


Good morning folks,

The poll finished last night and we have three clear winners:

First prize         LAST ORDERS by Simon Sylvester
Second Prize     MEMORIES  by Andy  McNab
Third Prize       D.I.D. SHE DO IT by Joe Lunn

All three winners will be notified by email this morning and their prizes will be on their way this week.

These three stories consistently topped the final long-short list of 26 stories. All three were well crafted, told a story and had a twist. And the results speak for themselves. The public liked them.

Congratulations also to all of the writers who made the long-short list. Every one of them had its strength and deserved to be there.

Thank you also to all those writers whose stories did not make the list. As we said before, it was a very hard task whittling it down to a list of 26 stories. We literally had stories from all round the world.

Please come back later. We will try and get some information on these winning writers.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

Sunday, 30 January 2011


Dear Readers,

The flash fiction competition is heating up. The votes are still coming in, as you can see.

The order at the top of the leader board has shifted:


And in 4th place   KYOTO

Still half a day, so anything can happen.

I must say that after watching the Australian Open tennis final and seeing our lad Andy Murray falter, Keith and I needed something to lift our spirits. This flurry of voting is doing just that.

We have really enjoyed this competition - some really great stories.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

 PS We are looking forward to the French Open now!

Friday, 28 January 2011


The competition is still close. A surge could see anyone rise up the table.

Currently the order is:


with in 4th place

Calum Steele
Keith Souter


Most of the votes are on the board now! A few votes are still missing. Our records show that every story has at least one point on the board.

This is certainly showing the same main contenders:


Still plenty of time to catch the leaders.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

Thursday, 27 January 2011


The top positions are as at the time of posting are:




Dear readers and voters,

There is still trouble at the poll!

Not just here, but in polls around the world, it seems. The trouble is that the votes come in, then disappear again after a while. The totals opposite this article are not accurate.

The only thing for us to do is keep a close watch. We are maintaining a manual tally and adjusting it with the votes that come in. Rather than reproducing the whole listing, we will post the top 4 positions, and only change them when and if another joins them on the same numbers, or knocks them out of the top four.

The top 4 at the time of posting are:


Calum Steele
Keith Souter


Dear readers and voters,

We are afraid that there has been a technical problem with the poll and the recording is showing the results for two days ago. But fear not, we have been able to keep a tally and we shall continue to do this manually.

New voters please keep voting.

We can assure you all that this will be done entirely accurately  and there will be no shenanigans! As all our readers know, The West Uist Chronicle is known for its journalistic integrity. We stand up for the people and we will do our utmost to ensure that we protect each and every one of our writers in this competition. Despite the technology we are going to ensure the fairness of this competition.

Calum Steele


Hi folks,

If you have popped in to check on how your story is going you may be surprised to see that the poll seems to be showing the vote count from a couple of days ago. We are trying to find out what has happened. A technical hitch has occured and we are trying to have it fixed.

We checked this morning and it was fine, then votes have been lost. It seems that we are not the only poll affected, though!

Sorry, bear with us.

Please bear with us.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Right folks, here we have the long-short list for our flash fiction competition. We thought the fairest way to get to the winners is by public vote. So here are the stories. Read them all and select the one that you think is best. Voting goes on until midnight on 31st January. The top three stories will win one of the prizes, as we announced earlier, and which you can see if you scroll down. In the event of ties the editorial team will decide.

Our congratulations to everyone who made it onto the list. Good luck to you all.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

Monday, 24 January 2011


Well, we've done it! After numerous cups of tea, some debate and a lot of agonising, we have whittled the entries down to 26. That seems an appropriate number, since 26 was the wordage allowed.

Here are the selected stories, anonymized for you to have a look at.
& Keith

All Ben can do, (except fight Guy harder), is join karate lessons Monday night. Other possibilities quite resemble solitude.
Tough, unmerciful violence withstood xenophobic youth zabernism.

Andy's backhand created deuce. Eagerly Federer gasped, highly irritated, jeering knowingly like McEnroe. Notorious opposing player quickly reveals Swiss tennis "unbeatable's" vulnerability with xerophytic youthful zeal.

For peace of mind Graeme packed the parachutes with absolute precision every time. This gave him confidence that they would hit the ground at 120 mph.

It went on for years. And then, one day, she said ‘yes.’ It was whispered, hushed, involuntary, panted. It cut him to his addled core.

They walked up the hill together, father and son. He emptied the little urn from the top of Wasdale; he walked down on his own.

The RSPCA had a strong case all along, and now Schroedinger’s defence lay foundering on the news that the cat was most definitely dead.

Torrents of it, soaking, drenching. Really rather pretty. Still, I’m sure the nurse will notice sooner or later, and wheel me back inside.

An irrational Robyn Diamonds had lacerated Jacks vertebral artery. His wife Maddison Byron laid covered in arterial spray, distraught and realising the anagram of her name.
[ D.I.D – Dissociative Identity Disorder]

He grasped the book, the old man's eyes an ocean, swirling and deep. "But why now? Here?". No reply. "But...". Exhausted, he drifted into the darkness.

Wielding only a pen; gods and kings knelt before him. Now from the Market Stage only groundlings stood laughing as the sword flashed down.

He saw sumptuous alpine passes, flawless white sands and turquoise waters, colossal erupting mountains and craggy, gnarled and crooked forests as his fingers scanned the Braille.

 Tommy gun sang and crimson blood danced in the apartment. But she was at the fight with him and he was at the club with her.
After a year I've tracked down the man who stole my identity. I'm following him. He goes into an alley. He's cornered. He turns. It's me.

As we try to divide up the CDs we play the music we fell in love to. Maybe I'll leave tomorrow.

The dawn is cold. The past is dim. The drink was strong. The pain is hell. Who are you? Don't wake. I'm gone. 

Todd was a man of science, Jonas of theology. "What created the Big Bang if there was nothing before it?" mused Todd. "God?" mused Jonas.


Police interviewed him about a crime he didn't commit. Innocent but a fool he spat in an officer's face and spent the night in jail anyway.


They marched for peace, waved banners and started a riot. He watched from a distance, shook his head and said, "They just don't get it."


Lachlan collected worms in a cup and hid them under his bed. By night his worms were missing and he was afraid to go to sleep.

"I CAN'T believe that you still can't tie your own shoelaces," said his wife, waiting. "Nor can I," he muttered, to himself. And then he fell ...

THE woman, aged 20, a student, stood at the door, staring at the man who had knocked, disturbing her studies. "I'm your LibDem candidate," he said.

HE had heard about 1984. He now knew what it meant, as the computer popped up with a message saying his profile had officially been deleted.

"Body twenty-seven, Inspector," McTavish said, trailing bloody footprints.
 "The Alphabet killer?"
 "Same M.O.."
 "Twenty-six bodies, twenty-six entrails... Why didn't he stop?"
 "Because he's discovered Chinese."

my prnts dn’t ndrstnd m :(

 On the Path of Philosophy two teddy bears fish beneath the cherry blossom.

THERE is a man who walks round Scarborough wearing a ski mask.
I always wonder why he wears it and sometimes I think about asking him.


This is a wee apology if you have tried to ring the Chronicle office. We are just so busy at the moment trying to sort through all these wonderful short stories that folk have sent in. Literally from all over the world.

As soon as we have worked out a short list - although because of the high standard of entries it is probably going to be a long short list - we will be back with normal service.

Keep tuning in and we'll have the list soon.

Calum Steele

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Can you write a 26 word (or less) story? We are running a competition this month. The details of entry and examples are right after Fiona McDonald's interview.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

VAMPIRES, ALIENS AND FAIRIES - an interview with talented Artist and Illustrator Fiona McDonald

FIONA MCDONALD is a classically trained artist whose passion for toys manifests itself in the compulsive making of dolls and puppets. Her life size cloth and mixed media figures have received international acclaim and are eagerly sought after by collectors.

Apart from writing and illustrating her own books Fiona recently worked with Keith on THE LITTLE BOOK OF GENIUS,  to be published by The History Press in October 2011.  This happy link up was forged by our wonderful agent, Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors.

The Little Book of Genius
Keith: I very much enjoyed working on the book with you, Fiona. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Thanks Keith. I loved doing the pictures for the Little Book of Genius, and I enjoyed the text as I worked – I must say I’ve learnt a lot.

I was born in Armidale, NSW Australia in an area called New England. It was founded by a McDonald, probably a relative, but certainly with strong Scottish ties and I think the town’s population reflects that.

I hated school and left in year 11, the second last year of secondary school. And I have never regretted it.

I went to art school in Sydney. Julian Ashton’s is Australia’s oldest independent art school and it is one of the few left that teaches classical skills of drawing, perspective, anatomy etc. To pay for my tuition fees I cleaned the premises, including the toilets and made the ritual lunch time pot of tea in an enormous tea pot. Art school was one of the highlights of my life.

From Sydney I went to the Blue Mountains, two hours west of Sydney with my young daughter. It was in Katoomba that I began developing my cloth dolls. These started as toys for my daughter based on an imagined and longed for doll from my own childhood. I took the results to a local gallery and they took them on and sold them.

I began wiring them inside and painting them with oil paints and they got larger and larger till they were life size and could no longer be called dolls.


After my son was born I enrolled in university and studied Italian and English literature. This led to a pause in my art as I got further immersed in the world of Dante and Milton.

I am back doing art now. I’m drawing, painting and designing knitted dolls and other toys. I am trying hard to make a living out of these activities but have to resort to teaching every now and then.

Keith: I am envious of people who can draw. You have a wonderful and very unique style. When did you realise that you had this skill, and how have you developed it?

From childhood! Well, at least I have always had the passion for it. 
I loved drawing princesses with long curly hair only I left out the noses because they looked awful. I doodled my way through high school. I still have some of my old books and the margins are full of intricate and delicate drawings.

Keith:  What projects are you working on now?

I’m working on a book of knitted vampires for Search Press, they have brought out Knitted Babes, Knitted Aliens and will shortly release Knitted Fairies. I finished the manuscript for a history of textiles for Remember When, an imprint of Pen and Sword and I am working on a book about the 1920s for them at the moment. And I’m doing some large, detailed pen drawings.

                                                                    To Sleep

Keith: Who have been your biggest influences?

I have been in love with a group of women artists who were closely associated with the Surreal movement: Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. I also adore Paula Rego’s work.

What type of books, films, music do you like?

Music – I like lots of different times and styles from medieval to rock. I hate bland music. I play baroque flute and recorder with a small group here in Armidale.
Books- I read lots of children’s and young adults’ novels. I can’t go past a good who- dunnit though.

Keith:  (Cough, cough.) I know someone who writes passable who-dunnits! But on a serious note, what  are your ultimate aims artistically?

I want to make a decent living out of art and writing. I’d love to be able to produce work that I want to do and then to sell it. This is probably not very realistic these days. I would certainly settle for regular illustrative work.

What are your aims professionally?

Apart from making a living from my art work I want to open an alternative toy shop. Granny Fi’s Toy Cupboard, specialising in handmade and unusual toys. I want the shop to look old fashioned and to act as an antidote to all that modern plastic and inanity. I like dolls to have character and to act as companions and confidantes to children. I feel that the kind of play I did with my cousins, as a child, is getting rarer. WE used our toys as the cast of thousands to support us in our conquests of space, the ocean or when we were teaching school and fighting dragons. The toy shop is an idea that keeps coming back to me so I think I will work on it to make it happen.

                                                            In the Toyshop

What advice would you give to other artists and illustrators?

Firstly, hone your technical skills. You can never have enough drawing skills even if your style is very stylised. And then go for your passion. Work, work, work. And grow a really thick skin so you can accept rejection after rejection. But don’t give up. Bounce back, reassess your work and push your foot into as many doors as possible.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

It is funny you ask this question. I have just joined a women in business mentor group as a mentoree. I have just been answering the same thing for them only it was in six years. My answer was that I would be busy, as it was pre-Christmas, 2016, in my Granny Fi’s Toy Cupboard, helping my staff sell, wrap toys and give out sweets to children. I also said I’d have some of my music students playing beautiful carols outside the shop door. I don’t want to be tied to the business but want to be able to sell my own, as well as other people’s, designs through it. I think it would be lovely to have a toy shop. I guess this means I have never really grown up. I would also dearly love to have some fiction publishes, aimed at children and young adults of course.

Finally, the strange thing is that we may be related. My mother’s side of the family are McDonalds. Your daughter visited the UK this year. Unfortunately I had to go up to Scotland and we missed each other. Have you any plans to return to the old country?

I’m sure we are cousins somewhere along the line, Keith. And if I can make it 2011 I will be over. I think must do it. I have a very strong desire to visit Britain, Scotland in particular. My McDonald family came to Australia around 1880 as free settlers and almost straight away ended up in Armidale. I take my Scottish heritage very seriously. Beatriz, my daughter fell in love with Scotland long before she got there and she was even more in love when she left. I know I will be the same.

Thank you for your time, Fiona
It’s been a pleasure Keith.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


A Happy New Year to all of our readers. We hope that this will be a good writing year for you and we hope that you will consider submitting a story or two to our inaugural Flash Fiction competition.

So get out your quill and pen us a story. To make this easy (or hard, actually!) we are inviting stories of 26 words maximum, excluding the title, on any subject you like. Well, anything as long as it is not rude, racist or nasty about anyone living. So that gives plenty of scope.

You might think that 26 words is an odd number to choose (even though it is an even number), but the reason is simply that there are 26 letters in the alphabet. You can use less if you wish.

While we expect straight forward stories to be the commonest type of entry, if you feel really adventurous you may like to try writing an A-Z story. That is one that uses 26 words, each starting with a letter of the alphabet in the order of the alphabet. That is not easy, so we will allow some leeway with the letters X and Z, the only stipulation being that it still needs to read like a story.

The story element is all important. There has to be  a sense of narrative and we love little twists, if you can get one into a story so short as a 26-worder.

Here is an example of a straight story.

                                               THE TOMB ROBBER
He had expected treasure, but his neck broke when he fell into the tomb. His unseeing eyes stared as his unheard scream echoed into eternity.

An A-Z story  to show that it is possible.

                                   LOST IN TRANSPLANTATION – a case of rejection
Aorta burst causing deadly exsanguination!
Foreign gutter headlines implied jealousy killing, leaving mistress needing oxygen. Police questioned rival surgeon’s technique.
‘Unaccepted vessel was xenograft,’  yammered Zurginski.

  • Submit your stories by sending them to Keith Souter (aka Keith Moray and Clay More) at   
  • Put WEST UIST STORY in your the subject box of your email
  • Include your story, its title, your name and address in the email - you will receive a reply to acknowledge receipt of your entry.
  • You can enter up to five stories
  • Free entry.
  • CLOSING DATE - midnight on Sunday 23rd January
We will select the top 10 stories and publish them on this blog, then the winners will be announced on Monday 31st January 2011.

  • 1st prize An gift certificate or a Paypal payment of £30, plus a signed copy of Keith Moray's latest crime novel Flotsam and Jetsam.
  • 2nd prize An gift certificate or a Paypal payment of £20, plus a signed copy of Dr Keith Souter's book Doctors' Latin
  • 3rd Prize An gift certificate or a Paypal payment of £15, plus a signed copy of a western novel by Clay More
It would be worth following Keith on Twitter for any interim announcements.Good luck!

Calum Steele
Keith Souter