one hundred breaths

October will bring with it the first of our new releases for the autumn. Stephanie Shields, author of The Star Princess And The Kitchen Witch, is releasing her first book intended for adults only, one hundred breaths.

The book, consisting of a hundred, one hundred word stories, is a collection of tales of love, loss, the unusual, the painful and the hopeful.

Ahead of the one hundred breaths’ release (October 1 2018) we spoke with Stephanie and asked her to tell us more about the book in answers of, of course, one hundred words.


Cynefin Road (CR): How would you describe one hundred breaths in one hundred words?

Stephanie Shields (SS): It’s the twists and turns of my mind as I look at the world and watch it turning.

It’s expressions of hope and words of warning, desires of wishes and cautions against their fulfilment. It’s whimsical and tender and loving yet unsettling, holding up a mirror to the lost and those that do the losing.

It’s about hope and love and the minutiae of life that occurs in every breathing second which supports people in getting through those times, for good and for bad.

And there’s a little bit of magic in there too, if you know how to look.

What is your process in writing hundred word stories?

I defer to Hemingway in describing the process; I just sit down at my keyboard and bleed.

There is no specific process, I might make notes on my phone, I might sit at my laptop and type various lines or thoughts. Some ideas never progress beyond 8 words or 25 and sometimes I think that’s the words telling me this is the length they want to be.

And sometimes I can have an idea and know that it is good, it’s a fire, a feeling that grips me from the inside and those I always pursue to the full 100.

How meaningful are your stories to you?

I realised when I had about 30 or so that I had no back up copies saved anywhere and the thought of losing them was like a blow to the stomach. I created a backup copy and emailed a friend, designating her Keeper of the Stories.

They are my work, my art. A way of engaging with the world when perhaps I can’t or don’t want to find the right conversation.

I do have favourites, some that sit deep in my heart, and some that disturb me even though I wrote them. But overall, I’m proud I made them happen.

In one hundred words which writers inspire you?

When I was a child, Judith Kerr, Tove Jansson, Eve Titus, Susan Cooper. I came to Tolkein very young but that means I’ve had plenty of time to read and reread The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As I went through my teens to my twenties, Terry Pratchett, Jilly Cooper, Robert Jordan, Joanne Harris, Joanna Trollope, Georgette Heyer. Shakespeare along the way. And most recently David Quantick, Sarah Phelps, Patrick Rothfuss, Rupi Kaur, Nayyirah Waheed, India Knight, Sali Hughes, Cailtin Moran.

Inspiration is difficult to define. They all write things I enjoy and what’s inspiration without enjoyment?

What are your plans for the future?

Having a large drink after I’ve finished answering these questions. Dearie dearie me. No-one tells you that these are steps you need to take when you start being published.

I’ve never been very good at having plans. I have ideas and aspirations and hopes, plans not so much.

This evening I shall have a bath. This week I will see good friends. This month I will share a present to make someone smile. And this year I will accept all this year has given me and all challenges that this year has presented me. That’s plans enough for any woman.

Why, in a hundred words, should readers pick up one hundred breaths?

I would hope because they want to, because they are curious or interested or in need of distraction.

Perhaps there is a question in their own hearts they cannot answer or haven’t been able to ask. Maybe because they need to see the world through someone else’s eyes before they can look back at it through their own.

Because the stories I tell, the fables I spin, the doom and the delight; none of it is nasty or unkind. It may not always be cheerful but there is a truthfulness of spirit and a care that sometimes we all need.

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Audacity Submissions Open

We are seeking contributions to a very special zine, Audacity, which is being put together in this tumbledown world of ours.

The topic for the fifth edition is ABILITY.

We are looking for writings of up to 500 words, photographs which speak volumes, and art which shouts a thousand words at a time. Our submissions deadline is April the 30th, so there isn’t long to get your creative on.

With this edition we are asking only for submissions for those creatives who are disabled or with disabilities, people dealing with chronic illness, visible or not, people who are neurodivergent or anyone who has been questioned in their ability to achieve self actualisation.

Submissions to be made to:

Audacity may well be a zine, and completely pro-bono, but it will be freely distributed across the world in electronic form. Call it a showcase, call it an anthology, call it a collection. Call it what you may, we’re going to take this inspiration, this creativity, this love, and we’re going to add a little magic and set it free on the winds. Where it belongs.

Submissions 2016.

We are delighted to be opening for submissions between the 1st and 20th of October 2016.

Unsolicited and unrepresented authors are most welcome and we will consider all genres and work aimed at all ages. We are looking to take on ten titles for release over the next twelve months.

Please follow the submission guidelines below.


  1. At the time of submission your work must be complete to at least First Draft and previously unpublished.
  2. In the first instance please send a detailed covering letter which tells us why you write, where life’s journey has taken you so far and where you want to be. Previous work should be summarised briefly, including any publication details. If you are active on social networks tell us about it and where to find you. We are looking for people we can invest in personally, people with a real personality and a story to tell.
  3. Please attach a one page, 500 word synopsis of the work you are submitting, including the title, word count, current completion status (no less than above), and pop in a two line elevator pitch before the synopsis. (Don’t sweat this, we know synopsis writing is an awful experience, but try to reflect the style of your work).
  4. The covering letter should be in the body of the email and the attachment should be in .doc, .odt, or .pdf format.
  5. If your work is illustrated, please also attach no more than two sample images of your artwork in .jpg format.
  6. Submissions must be recieved between the 1st and 20th of October 2016 by email to


You’ll notice that, in the first instance, we are not looking for samples of the work itself. Once your submission is in and the closing date arrives, we anticipate it will take around four weeks to select the authors and works best suited to us. At this stage full maunscripts will be requested for a final assessment with an interim offer and draft contract issued where appropriate.

Please do not expect template style rejections, we aim to provide productive feedback to all writers who approach us, because we know how tough the industry can be and want to change things for the better.

We look forward to getting started, good luck!





Everybody loves an underdog. It’s one of those psychological oddities of humanity, like the fear of bananas. Nobody knows why but it’s no less real as a part of the world we live in.

There have been a few studies of the underdog support phenomenon, one even concluded it was all a matter of BIRG – that’s basking in reflected glory to those of us not in the know. The basic conclusion is people find it more satisfying to watch someone destined to fail (the odds stacked against them by flaws or circumstance) succeed against something else more likely to win. This has been around in books since the Old Testament and is absolutely key to the success of getting a reader to invest in the story.

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Misery – the writer’s a mess, his feet have been chopped off, he shouldn’t win but we root for him to overcome and escape.

Fight Club – the narrator’s an oddball who fights himself, yet you want him to win the psychological battle against his split personality.

Spot The Dog – he’s been naughty but you want him to get a cuddle from his mum.

Personally, for what this opinion is worth, I like to think it’s because we all recognise our own flaws, the things which block us or leave us stuck, and we put ourselves in the shoes of a person with a fight on their hands. It’s not BIRG, not at all. It boils down to IIWMIWTWT – if it was me I’d want to win too. Which is much nicer than the other concept of underdog psychology: we all secretly want to watch the car crash unfold because we like to see other people suffer.

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Books are a creative reflection of life in which the best stories take the underdog then have them triumph. Life, every now and then, also reflects art. Which is where Cynefin Road has come from. Bumbling into an established, giant industry, without so much as knocking on the door or really knowing the rules. And these are the kind of stories we’re interested in too – and not just the books themselves but the writers as well.

So, Hello! from an underdog looking for underdogs.

It might not be a fancy mission statement but, by all accounts, it’s not a bad starting point.

Everybody loves an underdog. It’s one of those psychological oddities of humanity, like the fear of bananas.