Short Stories, Sweet Success!

Nick Cross
Giant slices of cake all round this week as we celebrate the recent publication of "Princess of Dirt" by our very own Nick Cross in the brand new Stew Magazine!

Nick Cross is an ex-zombie, part-time superhero and all-round techno-ninja. A former winner of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices, Nick writes almost exclusively for Middle Grade, creating stories that are dark, funny and exciting. Nick, formerly Webmaster for SCBWI British Isles, now fulfils the role of Blog Editor for Words & Pictures magazine, while also blogging weekly at

As well as his Stew work, Nick is currently seeking representation for a humorous Middle Grade adventure novel that he describes as “Kick Ass meets Transformers for girls.”

"The opportunity to write for Stew Magazine came (like so many things) through Undiscovered Voices. Ali Fraser, Stew’s editor, emailed the previous winners in early 2013 to see if anyone would be interested in writing 500-600 word stories for a new independent children’s magazine, aimed at 8-12 year-olds. My initial reaction was “No way!” as I’d been concentrating on novel-length writing and hadn’t written a short story in over three years. The low word-count of the pieces was to allow them to be fully illustrated, but trying to tell a satisfying story at that length struck me as impossible."

"So it seemed that would be that, but it niggled me that I might be letting an opportunity slip away. After a couple of days of procrastination, I screwed up my courage and contacted Ali, even though I had nothing prepared that he could use."

"He came back after reading my blog and invited me to submit something. His criteria for the story were clear - it should be very readable and suitable for the age group, but with a bit of an edge to it. I was excited by the idea that these stories would not only have clever twists and turns, but could challenge the reader at the same time as entertaining them, pushing them out of their comfort zone."

"I found a concept that I’d developed for a novel (but never written), and it seemed ideal for a short story. Of course, I still had the length problem, but I quickly realised that I’d been writing 500-600 word pieces every week for the last three years on my blog! Once I started to write the first story, my initial fears melted away and it was like turning on a tap. Within a few weeks, I had written three stories, all based on discarded concepts for children’s novels. The fourth followed shortly after, and this one was intended from the start as a short story. It became Princess of Dirt, which is the story featured in the debut issue of Stew Magazine."

I spoke to Ali Fraser, the editor of Stew Magazine and he had the following words of praise for Nick and his work:

"Nick Cross contacted me and asked if I might be interested in a short story for Stew that he'd written. I hadn't heard of Nick, so didn't know his writing and had no expectation one way or the other of what to expect. He sent me the story and I was blown away. It was brilliant. It had pace, tension and a marvellous twist in the tail. I'm a big fan of flash fiction, but rarely see it done as well as this. I asked if he could do it again. And sure enough, another equally terrific story arrived. And another. I don't know how he does it. They are miniature marvels and I consider myself very fortunate to be able to publish them. They are perfect for Stew."

Definitely worthy of another slice of cake I think so tuck in everyone and you can read Nick's next story "The Door Keeper", about a child labourer making an otherworldly discovery in a 19th century coal mine in the next issue of Stew Magazine.

Lorraine Gregory has been writing fantasy adventure books aimed at middlegrade boys for the last three years. She's been a chef and a restaurant manager and now works from home as an Antenatal Teacher. She belongs to the Words & Pictures Team and helps Tania to bring joy to our Saturday Celebrations' posts


  1. Fantastic. Congratulations, Nick. Go you, and your miniature marvels!

  2. The stories sound brilliant! Well done and congratulations 🎉

  3. Fantastic! Can't wait to get my copy!

  4. Great stuff, Nick. I'll really look forward to reading your marvellous twists in the tale.

  5. This is Brilliant, Nick! Congratulations!
    Stew looks like a classy publication for kids - how exciting to be in at the beginning!

  6. Super reading, very inspirational. Don't know how you found the time, but you did and it's paid off. Congratulations!

  7. Thank you, everyone! It's so nice to discover a new talent!


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