Piccolo Fiction Open used to be an open short story competition where writers from all over the state could compete to have their works published or read on the radio. Blue Bicycle Books owner Jonathan Sanchez was a participant before he began helping writer Lisa Annelouise Rentz organize it. About six years ago, Rentz decided to change it up to a format that remains as this year’s template. “She switched it over to a fiction invitational, where she’d pick four or five writers and have them read,” Sanchez says.

Six years ago is also when Sanchez bought Blue Bicycle Books, and so they began hosting the readings to a packed house each year in its little courtyard. It’s Piccolo’s longest running event devoted to the art of writing fiction. This year, it will see three writers read stories they’ve composed around a specific phrase: “I ducked into an alley.”

“What I’ve been doing the past three years is I actually commission a short story of like a thousand words, and we’ve done the same beginning because I like it,” Sanchez says.

This year’s featured writers include Jonathan Bohr Heinen, College of Charleston professor and managing editor of the school’s well-known literary publication, Crazyhorse. Upstate humor writer George Singleton, longtime teacher and author of six short story collections, will also read in addition to Sandy Lang, who publishes frequent travel pieces in Garden & Gun and is a contributing editor to Charleston magazine.

Piccolo Fiction in the Courtyard is a one-night-only free event, and Sanchez encourages all to get there early to ensure a good listening spot. —

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