Poised Pen Long List – and December 4th

I’m absolutely delighted that the long list for The Poised Pen’s Another Place Competition is up. If you entered and your name’s not on there do have a read about what I said here. There were some brilliant stories that didn’t quite make it.

And if your name is on there: CONGRATULATIONS. You’ve done wonderfully well because the standard of stories I read was very, very high. And if you are on it – go and do something to celebrate. It’s not often we get to feel like actual writers because, mostly, we’re stuck at desk and behind computer screens, or glued to notebooks. Or hoovering or ironing or cooking or putting children to bed. So go, eat cake. Drink something fizzy. Or just have five minutes to yourself and say: I did this. I’m good, me.

The winners and the rest of the results will be announced in Liverpool on December 4th at the Another Place Results night at the Fly in the Loaf, Hardman Street, Liverpool, where I’ll be reading too. It sounds like it’ll be a great night – lots of other writing and reading (and, I think, musical) goodness on offer and I’d love to see you there if you can make it. I might even buy you something fizzy myself.


Special Christmas Offer. Introducing the The Beautiful Bundle

Hello, hello. How are we all? It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? I’m fine, thank you very much.

And it would have been a little while longer were it not for those fine folks over at RoastBooks putting on a Very Special Offer. Introducing: The Beautiful Bundle.


Not So Perfect
Here’s what it is: It’s all of the books RoastBooks have published of mine, in a bundle, for £20. That’s right – Not So Perfect, A Book of Beautiful Words, and Beautiful Trees for only £20 (which by even my terrible maths works out at about a third off the price – I think the lot would set you back about £33 normally).

I’m sure there is considerable Christmas gift potential there (even though, I know, it’s a bit early – but if John Lewis and the like can run their crimbo adverts in November then I jolly well can too).



The offer will only run for a short period and it’s only available from Roastbooks’ site – CLICK HERE to order.

Bunnies and Rejection

First up – I’m over at Books With Bunny today, talking about all sorts of things – from giving my heart away to how Beautiful Trees came about, and why every word matters. Click here to read in full.

And a huge part of yesterday was spent with the very short stories I’m judging for the Poised Pen Competition. Judging is hard work. It’s terrific fun because I get to read lots of brilliant things and that’s something I’ll never get tired off and I was really happy when I sent over the long list just after midnight.

But there’s another side to it that I’d like to talk about, a side that isn’t all that pleasant.

Here’s the thing – there can only be one winner. There can only be a certain number of stories that make a long or short list. And that means that there will always be stories that don’t. I’ve not counted properly but I read well over a hundred stories yesterday and 21 made the long list. You can do the maths.

What everyone who ever enters any competition, or submits their work anywhere, and hasn’t got anywhere needs to know is that it’s probably not because your story’s rubbish (it might be, of course, but that’s usually not the case). There were loads, and I mean loads that I read yesterday that were very, very good. But what happens is that I have an important decision to make and while there are loads of factors that will affect that (story, structure, execution, writing, idea, grammar and punctuation, where it’s been polished enough et al) what it can come down to a lot of the time is simply what I prefer.

We’ve all been in the situation where a friend’s told us we must watch or read or listen to something because it’s incredible to find that, when we do, it’s just not our cup of tea. Or that, yeah, it’s all right but we simply prefer something else. It’s the same. So please don’t be disheartened too much and remember that being rejected is never personal. What it is though is a big part of being a writer and while I’d never suggest celebrating it I would say that, if you’ve been rejected, there are things you can do about it – go back to your story, see if it can be improved – or simply send it somewhere else. And you’re definitely in the club. And that club has a lot of very, very good members. Welcome! I’ve been in it for years.

So there we go. More on the comp ver soon once the long list goes live.


The Trees Are Growing and I Have an Old Soul

It’s been just over a week since Beautiful Trees was published so I thought I’d post an update here. I also thought I’d leave it a week so you didn’t get fed up of me going on about it.

The response has been wonderful. Better than I expected by a mile. I think the best feeling any writer can have, other than affecting someone through their stories (read: making them cry) is to know that people are really getting their work. And people are definitely getting Beautiful Trees. I have had some amazing responses and more emails, I think, about this book than any other. Thank you all who’ve helped and supported and bought and liked and reviewed and tweeted and Facebooked and got in touch.

And here are some Trees happenings elsewhere.


Over in the US, the great Sam Sattler reviewed it.

He said lots of nice things including:

‘Let’s just say that Nik Perring packs a lot of emotion and understanding of relationships into the relatively few pages he allows himself to tell his story.  And that is why I call Nik Perring one of the masters of flash fiction. 

Nik is a young man with an old soul – and I love his work for that very reason.’


The wonderful Sara Crowley reviewed it here.

She says: ‘For a book so brief it’s surprisingly moving, but that’s because Perring is extraordinarily good at this. A written review can’t quite explain how this all works. Suffice to say it is all very uniquely Perring.’


And, on launch day, I talked to the brilliant Aliya Whiteley about it: where I say things like:

I think all writing’s a risk. Even if that’s only the risk of writing something that no one will like, or that won’t work. And that’s why I think writers, good ones, are brave.

I approached Trees in the same way as I approach pretty much anything I write: I try my best to let the story be what it is. 

And, earlier, Dan Powell said great things about it too.


There’s plenty more to tell – including a really exciting Christmas offer – and I’ll get around to that very soon. In the meantime, there’s still chance to enter the 150 Words Competition (we’ve had loads of entries which is cool) – click here for all the details.


My Fairy Tale

I’m a big fairy tale fan. A collection of Perrault’s works is one of my most treasured books. I have loads and loads of fairytale collections of all sizes and for all ages and there’s definitely been a fairytale slant to many, many of my stories for ages.

But Carmine’s Fruit is the only one where I’ve set out to offer my own take on one. It’s a sort of retelling of Little Red Riding Hood where Red might not be as innocent as she’s often portrayed, where the Wolf isn’t a wolf at all, and where Grandma is, well – she’s still in her house in the woods waiting for food. And it’s a longer piece for me too. And that’s why I was so pleased when it won a prize.


Not only can I put prize-winning author on my bio now (which, let’s face it, probably isn’t ever going to happen) but – far more importantly – I can now point you in this direction, towards the brilliant Artifcium’s place, where you can buy the anthology it’s published in. This is the first thing I’ve published, (Beautiful Trees aside – more on that soon; I’m trying desperately to not bore the life out of you with it) in ages, and definitely the longest I’ve published in a long, long time. And it’s in along with some great writers. I’m not just saying this, but it’s something I’d buy (and you can, of course, buy here, if you’d like to).

Here’s how it begins:



And here’s the handsome devil of a cover.


And, of course, a huge thanks to Sean and Alex (and all at Team Artificium) for their hard work in putting it together.

Book Monster!

Beautiful Trees has been out for a few days now and, so far, the response to it has been amazing. But I’m not here to talk about that. Nope – you’ve got a day off. Today I’m delighted to welcome Bookmonster Ally here.

I know Ally from my work in The Children’s Central in Sheffield , so I can happily say not only that she’s one of the loveliest book people out there, or that her displays are wonderful, but also that’s she’s someone who is absolutely passionate about books and young readers. She’s here to talk about her website (which is AMAZING – DO check it out if you’re a young reader, a teacher, a student, a parent, career – or if you love children’s and young people’s books) and what she does as a librarian. Over to her.


Write a guest blog Nik said, it’ll be easy he said… Thank you Nik for welcoming me so eagerly onto your creative corner of the internet. As a huge fan and respecter of everything Nik does, I am incredibly chuffed to be here to talk about my website www.bookmonsters.info.

I’m Alexis (aka Ally) and I’ve worked in the Central Children’s Library in Sheffield for over 10 years as a library and information assistant, coming initially from a short teaching background. I absolutely love my job and feel very fortunate to be able to work in such a worthwhile and wonderful environment. Every day I see the positive impact libraries and their staff have on customers and feel that they still have an important role to play in our communities. For libraries this should be a period of evolution not extinction.

Alongside my day job I create and maintain websites and I am also working towards being a fully fledged graphic designer in the very near future.

As a child I read anything and everything and my favourite books hold so much affection and nostalgia in my heart that I want other children to feel this way. If just one child is inspired in the way I was by Dogger (Shirley Hughes) or Cops and Robbers (Alan Ahlberg) then Book Monsters has done the job. 2015 has been a particularly great one for children’s publishing with so many incredible new releases. My favourite for this year has to be The Bear and the Piano ( David Litchfield), I’ve banged on about it a lot!! Beautiful, poetic and atmospheric it’s a picture book everyone can enjoy. I adore its heart warming, positive message and stunning illustrations.

Aside from that, I love the Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre books, unique, funny and very accessible. I’ve also been really impressed by Barrington Stokes’ new Red Squirrel books, a series of dyslexia-friendly picture books designed specifically for parents and carers with dyslexia, to help them read with, and to, their children. Wonderful idea perfectly executed. As for adult books, I don’t get much time for them anymore, but Matt Haig’s Reason’s to Stay Alive and The Martian by Andy Wier are my two top reads this year. My favourite book of all time,(it’s a cliché), but this is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, witty and romantic. The only book I’ve owned that has disintegrated through over-use.

I have always just loved loving books, but Book Monsters really came about as a direct result of my library work. In this job I am always trying to read and familiarise myself with the books in our library as we are regularly asked for recommendations. All these wonderful books go into my head space and stick there, only popping out when a customer specifically enquires or I can see they need it. This got me thinking about maybe creating a website about children’s books where I could share my favourite finds with a wider audience.

My aim was to create a site for parents, carers, librarians, teachers, students and anyone at all who just enjoys children’s literature. I admit one of my driving forces was the influx of reading lists we get brought into the library particularly at the start of a new school year. Over 10 years these lists are amazingly still haven’t changed all that much to the one I was given as a trainee teacher 14 years ago! Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stunning classic children’s books that must be read, but there are also many wonderfully creative, interesting and educational new releases each year that I feel are being overlooked by some of the most influential people in children’s lives. I really want Book Monsters to exhibit the best of these books to people who will be selecting and recommending books themselves, so that children don’t miss out.

I wanted Book Monsters to be unique and very visual, something for people to enjoy looking at as well as reading. This is where my book monster drawings stemmed from. I’ve always called children little monsters as they all have such different characters and just tear through life with bundles of enthusiasm and fun. As I was thinking about my website, I had this image in my head of a little book monster, devouring book pages with relish. It seemed the ideal theme for my website, so I took the concept and developed a group of little eye catching monsters. I wanted to customise them to make each book review personal to the author and illustrator (where appropriate) and as a form of branding to help the blog be memorable and hopefully encourage return visits. It makes each review much more time consuming to do, but I hope it adds an extra dimension to them.

My long term aim with Book Monsters is to support authors and illustrators in promotion, help recommend titles for reluctant and keen readers, make suggestions for children and parents with dyslexia and just celebrate the wonderful array of books available. Through following authors and illustrators on social media, it’s clear the immense amount of work, heart and, at times, nagging self doubt that goes into producing their books. When we, as readers, come across a gem, the very least we can do is share and tell as many as possible. We need to support the talented people who create books as much as the children who read them.

Book Monsters is still very much a new website and a work in progress. I want to add more than just reviews on there for it to hopefully evolve into a useful resource for parents, teachers and librarians. It is all quite new and scary though, so I always welcome and appreciate feedback and suggestions on the site via the contact form or comments sections. I’m very grateful to anyone who takes the time to read Book Monsters and maybe tell others about a book or two they see on there and like the look of.

Thank you so much for reading

I can be found merrily munching on books at the following places:

Ally Portrait Web

Web: www.bookmonsters.info
Twitter: @BookMonsterAlly
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BookMonsterAlly

(Image courtesy of the wonderful Emma Reynolds)





150 Words Competition!

So, my latest book, Beautiful Trees, is now published. And to celebrate there are prizes to be won!


To be in with a chance of winning first prize – my whole back catalogue, personalised and signed (either for you or for a present – Christmas is just around the corner…) all you have to do is to enter a story or poem, under 150 words long, on the subject of TREES.

Winning stories and poems will go up here on the site and all prizes will be sorted and sent very quickly.

There’ll be runners-up prizes too. Competition closes at midnight on November 30th. Spread the word – and good luck! I can’t wait to read them.


To enter mail to menikperringATgmailDOTCOM – as a Word file, with no names on the document, just your name and contact details in the body of the email (I won’t be opening them, so don’t worry!)


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Beautiful Trees – Out Now

It makes me astonishingly happy that Beautiful Trees is now published (and available from all good bookshops).


And I’m astonishingly proud of it, and astonishingly proud that my publishers, the wonderful RoastBooks, have let me put a book like this out there. I think a lot might think (and quite rightly, perhaps) that a picture book for adults, detailing the lives of its characters through a bunch of tiny, individual stories all grounded around (planted around) significant trees – with added interesting facts – might not work. But – and I know I’d say this anyway – I really think it does. I’m pleased as punch about the story, Miranda’s illustrations are incredible again, and, to be honest, I’m really giddy about it all.

To all who’ve already pre-ordered it (and I know there have been loads, which is hugely heartening) – THANK YOU. I really hope you enjoy it. And to those who will buy it, or give it away as a present, thank you too – your ongoing support means the world, it really does, and I would not be able to keep putting these strange, odd, quirky little buggers out there without you. Here’s how this one begins…


There’s been a really lovely buzz going on with Beautiful Trees for a while now and I’d love for that to keep going, so if any of you could help by spreading the word, tweeting, Facebooking, reviewing, Goodreadsing, etc, etc then I will love you forever. This kind of thing really does make a difference.

I’ll stop waffling now. Thank you all. (And stay tuned – there’s a pretty exciting competition we’re just putting the finishing touches to, just around the corner…)

And look – this is what Kate Long said about it:

“Beautifully-produced, poignant and poetic.”

– Kate Long, author of The Bad Mother’s Handbook, and Something Only We Know

And Dan Powell said nice things about it here.

Buy it here. Or from all bookshops.

And here’s a peek inside – the view from my behind my desk.



Beautiful Trees’ First Outing

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Off The Shelf Festival Words festival in Sheffield, where I sat on a panel along with Marina Lewycka (of Ukrainian Tractors fame) and Virginia Macgregor, who were both lovely. I got to hear Marina read from We Are All Made of Glue, and Virgina read from What Milo Saw (which I’m reading and very much enjoying). I read from Not So Perfect (as you’ll see below) and there was much interesting discussion (mostly, as a result of what I read below, on character age in fiction – and how old is old).

I had a great time and the audience were terrific – and a huge thanks to all who’ve been in touch afterwards – especially the ones I made cry (all four of you!). And thanks too, to all who chatted afterwards and who bought books – I hope you like them.

I also read, for the first time in public, from Beautiful Trees and – and this is probably the best bit about being an author – people really liked it. I know I’ve mentioned on here before, many times, how scary it is publishing a new book. Seeing that people like it – that they’re getting it – that they’re buying it as presents already makes me feel really, really proud. There seems to be a real buzz around this one (he says, knowing full well he’s probably jinxed it!) and that’s not something that happens very often at all. And it is released, officially, on Thursday. I’m still terrified, but I’m very excited too.


You can pre-order here.



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Want to be Judged by Stephen King?

As it’s my favourite time of the year (autumn) and as we’ve just celebrated my favourite thing that people celebrate (Halloween), this seems incredibly timely – especially as it’s got everything to do with my favourite form (the short story): a short story competition judged by Stephen King.

I love what he said here: There’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience. It can be invigorating, sometimes even shocking, like a waltz with a stranger you will never see again, or a kiss in the dark, or a beautiful curio for sale at a street bazaar.

So there you go. Get writing or editing or sending. Good luck!


It’s also less than week until Beautiful Trees is released and I am starting to feel very nervous and excited. You can pre-order from all good book shops.