Lit Night: Alameda Shorts

Every month, March through October, I host Alameda Shorts in front of a live audience in a cozy bookstore in our vibrant downtown. This lit night is a curated collection of 5-minute stories written and read to you by local authors who are members of To Live & Write in Alameda. You don’t have to live in Alameda to be a member, but you do have to be a member to participate in Alameda Shorts. If you can’t make it to our little island city to read your piece, check out our virtual lit night, Screen Shorts.

Alameda Shorts features the same prompts, submission guidelines, and judges assigned to Screen Shorts. The only difference is that Alameda Shorts happens in person. The audience is live, the butterflies feel real, and the vibe is the same: Storytime for Grown Ups.

If anything is better about Alameda Shorts, it’s that you get to be in a bookstore, surrounded by books and writers and neighbors. You get to leave the house, get away from your screens for an hour, and talk to real people in real life.

Here’s how it works:

  1. On the first of the month, I drop the theme.
  2. You get the full month to write a short story or personal narrative (no poetry) that can be read out loud in five minutes or less (emphasis on the less).
  3. You submit your piece and wait about a week to find out if the anonymous panel of readers has selected your piece to be read at Alameda Shorts.
  4. On the second Thursday of the following month, we present Alameda Shorts to a live audience.

Submission guidelines:

  • Theme: Weather or Whether (you choose)
  • Deadline: Midnight, May 31, 2024
  • Event: 600pm Thursday, June 13, 2024
  • Length: Five minutes (800-1000 words, depending on how dense your writing is)
  • Format: Word document attached to an email
  • Font: Times New Roman, 12pt.
  • File Name: Alameda Shorts – Your Name – Theme
  • Submit to: [email protected]
  • Subject line: Alameda Shorts – Your Name – Theme
  • REMEMBER: Type your name inside your document, above the title. I will keep the copy with your name for my purposes and send a copy with your name removed to the judges. Do not embed your name, turn it into a watermark, or do anything else that prevents its removal; sending it from your email address to ours is all you need to prove it came from you.

Immediate disqualifiers:

(take this opportunity to practice being a real writer who follows submission guidelines: check your formatting before sending it in).

  • Using Google Docs, Pages, or any format other than Word.
  • Using any font that isn’t Times New Roman.
  • Ignoring the file name instructions.
  • Ignoring the subject line instructions.
  • Including the title of your piece in the file name or subject line.
  • Forgetting your name anywhere (file name, subject line, in the document).
  • Submitting after the deadline.
  • Neglecting to write to the theme.
  • Not editing your piece down to a 5-minute read.
  • Not editing your piece (submitting a rough draft).

REMEMBER: The point of having submission guidelines in place is to give you the opportunity to practice following submission guidelines when it comes to being published.

How to guarantee the panel will select your piece:

  • You can’t. It’s purely subjective. Submitting an edited, polished piece that pays attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation is a good start.