When I had the idea for Flashbang, one of the things I wanted to get right was the process by which we encouraged, thanked and congratulated everyone who supported the contest by getting involved. It's no mean feat to write a crime story in 150 words, so that deserves a whoop. And it takes guts to enter a contest, to put your words out there to be judged. Kudos to everyone who did that. I spent an extra fifty minutes this morning sending out personalised emails to each and every entrant, because I know all too well what that deafening silence can do to those waiting to hear, or wondering whether their words landed somewhere instead of circling in cyberspace. It was a privilege and a genuine pleasure to read the entries.
There are easily eight worthy winners (three main prizes plus five runners-up) and we're lucky enough to have many more than that worthy of recognition by the readers and the ultimate judge, Zoë Sharp.
It's been an education to be on the other side of a writing contest, and I didn't get it all right, by any means. I had to apologise abjectly to one lovely writer who got a 'congrats you made the longlist' email seconds before I realised that her story had in fact missed the list by a short margin. I'm still kicking myself over that now. But I've had enough kind thank-you emails from entrants to believe that I got eighty per cent of it right, which is good.
The longlist is here. Look out for the shortlist on 4 May.