By The Fire: Episode 149: Challenge 13: This is the End

As I start to write this post the song that is playing in my head is The End by The Doors. Because that’s what this is, the end of the contest and what a trip it has been. The last challenge in The Next Great Horror Writer for episode 149 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is the hardest one yet. This one was only open to the semi-finalists and they had to submit The first 3 chapters of their horror fiction novel including a cover letter, synopsis, and query. Wow!!! I have the highest respect for everyone in this contest because they had to work hard to be a part of it and everyone in it has shown how dedicated they are to their craft. The winner of this challenge and the grand prize for the contest is a book contract from Crystal Lake Publishing.

To sit and think on what everyone in this contest had to do to stay in it just boggles my mind. I can’t imagine doing it myself but this little group of writers really showed us what they were made of. The contest began with almost 120 entries and we eventually saw the field get narrowed down to just few. Along the way our writers had to produce an audio drama, a commercial, short stories, non fiction blog posts, create a monster, an intro to an original character and finally the beginning of a novel.

Through the course of this contest we’ve seen all of these writers grow and improve their skills and get tested like never before. I’ve really enjoyed the journey of these writers throughout this season of the podcast and it makes me sad to see just one winner. I think everyone in the contest should consider themselves a winner and be proud of what they have accomplished. Even if you get rid of all the other parts of the contest and just look at the fact that these writers have gotten to the point where they have submitted the first three chapters of their book is a big deal.

A lot of work goes into writing a novel, the planning, the outlining, the rewrites and finally the finished product. Some people spend years working on a novel and in my opinion its the most personal art form there is. Writers have to put their heart and soul into their novels and sending it to a publisher takes a lot of guts. It’s not easy becoming a published author, there is a lot of work involved in the process and when you do get published a whole new set of challenges await you. A writer’s work is never done and the ones that keep doing it are the ones that consider it their passion.

So Addicts, what did you think of the contest as a whole? Who did you think did the best job on this challenge? what do you thing the hardest part of doing a query and a cover letter are? Have you done one? What are the experiences you’ve had? Let us know in the comments.

 

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#NGHW News: Episode 148

Hello, my Horror Fiends!

This week I’m filling in for your favorite news reporter Adelise since she will be gone for a few weeks. Nicole Kurtz is this week’s guest judge. She is the publisher of Mocha Memoirs Press.   The contest for our horror contestants this week was to write a horror story about an original monster of their creation. The stories this week were fantastic. With just a little tweaking, these stories could be perfect.

Nicole Kurtz is this week’s guest judge. She is from Mocha Memoirs Press. She has brought great personality to the judging of this contest and I can honestly agree with her choices this week.

Nicole’s top three favorites this week, in no particular order, were:

The Guardian – Naching T Kassa. The judges loved the originality of the story. The poem as well was just beautiful. They did think that the story ran a little long.

Whiskey Noir – Daphne Strasert. They loved the story, it was scary and gritty, noir done right. The judges did wish that the main character kicked butt without depending on the guy.

Nightmarescape – Jonathan Fortin. They thought the story was beautiful and poignant. It was very imaginative and a great adventure. The voice wasn’t as much loved because they didn’t like the person. But, to be fair, first person is great when done right.

Another top contender was Jess Landry – Nessling. They loved the main character and the tree monster. It didn’t quite make the top three, but it was amazing.

All of the contestants this week got a breakdown of their strengths with their writing from previous contests as well as their weaknesses.  They received advice on how to further their writing by digging deeper, taking these critiques, and pushing it out into their writing. It can be hard to take critiques but if you can learn to take them and mold them into something great.

The countdown has begun! This was the last challenge before the semi-finals. All nine contestants did such an amazing job this year. This boot camp was horrendously hard and I am so proud of each and every one of them. The top nine contestants are as follows:

Ninth Place – Jacee Martinez

Eighth Place – Fien Gots

Seventh Place – Adele Marie Park

Sixth Place – Sumiko Saulson

Fifth Place – Harry Husbands

Fourth Place – Jess Landry

DRUMROLL PLEASE: The top three contestants who will be moving on to the semi-finals to battle it out for a published novel through Crystal Lake Publishing are:

The top three, in no particular order, are: Naching T Casa, Jonathan Fortin, Daphne Strassert!

Great job writers. I have loved each and every submission you guys have worked on. It’s been a hard year and I can honestly say that this years contestants did phenomenal.

Until next time, stay scared!

  • Kenzie

 

 

By The Fire: Episode 147: Challenge 12: Write a 2500-3000 Word Story Featuring a Diverse Woman and an Original Monster of Your Making

Our contest is drawing to a close, we made it to episode 147 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast and the twelfth challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to Write a 2500-3000 word story featuring a diverse woman (of color/ethnic/minority) that also contains an original monster of the writer’s making. Our contestants created a monster way back in challenge 2 which they can use for this story, or they can create a new monster. The goal is to test their ability to write a story with a theme involved, they will be judged on creativity, overall story concept, and writing quality.

One thing I wonder about is would it be easier to create a monster or to create a good diverse female character and what would be the theme that would fit both? I think for all parts you are using a different part of your imagination. For a monster you want to try to think of something original but you also have to make it scary, being able to describe the monster and make it come alive is important. For the female character you would have to go into detail on her personality, what makes her tick and why should we care about her? When coming up with both of these creations probably the most important thing would be to make us feel some emotion for them and perhaps this is where the story’s theme would come out of. Whether its fear, compassion or even hatred, if we don’t feel anything and there is no theme, then we won’t want to finish the story.

So our contestants already know something about making a monster but how hard is it to come up with a good ethnic female character? Would it be harder to come up with a woman than a man? Or does that depend on if the writer is a woman or a man? Personally I think coming up with the monster would be much easier than coming up with your lead character because the lead character is the most important part of the story. So what do you think the hardest part of this challenge will be and who do you think did the best job with it? Let us know in the comments.

#NGHW News: Episode 147

 

Hello, my Horror Fiends!

This week I’m filling in for your favorite news reporter Adelise since she will be gone for a few weeks. This weeks contest was to create an audio-drama that was no shorter than five minutes but no longer than six minutes. This week’s contestants did a pretty good job. The judges loved the entries this week with a few hiccups. The main issue was that the contestants put visual cues in their audio-dramas. But, you can’t see anything in an audio-drama so it made no sense to add visual elements to this challenge. There were a few contestants that didn’t quite make it the five minutes and a few that ran over time. I actually fangirled this episode because I absolutely love audio-dramas and the cheesiness that goes along with the acting. With that being said, let’s get down to it!

This week’s guest judge was Frank H. Woodward, award winning writer, director, and producer. His top three favorite audio-dramas were:

#3: Fiend Gotts – “Soul bird” was great because the 2 strangers were talking and it felt intimate. He didn’t like how the story ended right as it was getting good.

#2: Harry Husbands – “Turn up & Die” loved the setting for local hangout for the actors who played victims in horror films as well as thought the satire was great. But he didn’t care for the ending because it was stereotypical and the strength would rely on visual gags but it is an audio-drama.

#1: Jonathan Fortin – “Consumption.” was a story in the audio realm with identifiable characters and classic radio in every way.

The top six contestants this week, in no particular order, were:

JONATHAN FORTIN
HARRY HUSBANDS
NACHING KASSA
JESS LANDRY
SUMIKO SAULSON
DAPHNE STRASERT

The top three were:

Harry Husbands – “Turn Up and Die”

Jonathan Fortin – “Consumption.”

Daphne Strasert – “Secondhand Heart.”

THE WINNER THIS WEEK IS Daphne Strasert – “Secondhand Heart.”

Congrats Daphne! Third major win this season. All of the contestants did an amazing job on this challenge. It was innovating, difficult, and yet very entertaining. One thing that Emz and Heather decided this week was to give a chance to the contestants who did not win this season to submit their short stories to the upcoming HorrorAddicts anthology series, “Crescendo of Darkness”. The stories are due no later than Halloween. I will also be submitting a story for this anthology, as well. I can’t wait to read the contestants’ stories!

There is only one more round and then grand finale! Here are the points ranked:

In the lead is Daphne Strassert with 782  points.

Trailing a tad behind her is Jonathan Fortis with 757 points.

Last but not least is Naching T Kassa with 743 points.

Will someone else be able to knock one of the top three out of the running next week? Are these contestants the ones who will be able to pitch their novel for the grand finale? Make sure you keep tuned in to know what happens! It’s getting really close to the finale and I know I’m excited to see which one of our talented contestants will come out on top.

Until next time Horror Addicts, stay scared.

Kenzie

#NGHW News Episode #146

Hello, my Horror Fiends!

This week I’m filling in for your favorite news reporter Adelise since she will be gone for a few weeks. NGHW Episode 146 was a particularly hard episode due to a number of participants who didn’t do exactly what the judges were looking for. Don’t get me wrong, interviewing yourself and answering the questions as yourself is very difficult and this challenge has proven to be the hardest one yet! They did pull through, shining brightly in this dark, decrepit tunnel, and showed us what they’re made of.

Episode #146 brought us six semi-finalists in no particular order:

#1: Harry Husbands

#2: Adele Marie Park

#3: Jess Landry

#4: Naching T Casa

#5: Jonathan Fortin

#6: Daphne Strasert

This week’s mini-prize was cool in the sense that they will actually feel a part of the HorrorAddicts family – getting their interview published to the blog! I remember how it felt for myself being welcomed to the team so I know that this prize is surely one of the better ones.

This week’s special guest judge was Stacy Rich, HorrorAddicts.net Blog Editor.

In order to be a good interviewer and interviewee, you need to have experience and build upon that baseline infrastructure of your skills. Not every writer is a good interviewee or interviewer, which is why this challenge really put our contestants to the test! They had to write their own interview and answer their own questions. Some of the contestants had a tongue-in-cheek way of completing this challenge by adding humor to it, others kept it completely personal to where we can see the real person behind the writer, and some had a good mixture of the two.

The judges, although impressed with how hard the contestants did try this round, were not so impressed with how none of the writers seemed to know how to write an interview. Writing an interview like you would see in a magazine is a skill that does need to be researched and learned, just like if you were writing a paper and needed to learn a specific format. But, other than that, I was truly impressed with how well this challenge went. I loved hearing the contestants interview themselves – it was comical but each contestant brought their own thing to the table.

The judges did have a few special words to say about the following contestants:

Harry Husbands: they thought that his introduction was cute. It brought a different flavor compared to the other entries. Personally, his was one of my favorites. He is classy and knows what he needs to bring to the table.

Adele Marie Park: her professionalism knows no bounds. It’s very streamlined. I love professional writers for the sole purpose that they can be creative and bring forth the most decrepit imagery from their minds, yet still, knows how to be classy.

Naching T Casa: I absolutely loved how she showcased herself as a person – not just a writer. It brought a depth to the interview that was really needed. I love when writers can break free of their characters and really hone in on themselves.

Fiend Gottes – let’s just say we never want to meet this guy in a back alleyway. His imagery is vast and we do need to stay far away from his dungeon. He is one of the scariest writers in this competition. I absolutely adore him.

All in all, everyone did pretty well and I was fangirling all over the place.

Last week, Daphne Strassert took home the prize for the past two competitions, which was a first for this season! What happened this week was that Naching T Casa won and ended the streak that Daphne Strassert had going. I adored Naching’s interview and I felt as though I personally knew her as a friend towards the end of it. My favorite line from her interview was:

“Imagine everyone has a door in their mind which separates their conscious from their unconscious. Most people keep the door closed. They don’t want to see the things which lurk on the other side. Horror writers want to see those things, want to explore them. We love that direct line to the dark side.”

Truly phenomenal, congratulations Naching!

As an update to whose in the lead, Daphne has taken over Jonathan by 24 points! She is leading the competition with 699 points in total. Right behind her is Jonathan, hot on her tail with 675 points. In third place so far is Naching, with 673. They are so close in points, it’s almost scary. I’m hot with anticipation to see who can come out on top. Rounding out the top 6 is Jess, Harry, and Sumiko. Will Naching be able to take over Jonathan in the next round? Will Jonathan be able to come out on top? There are still 2 competitions left before the finale, anything can happen!

Until next time, stay spooky!

  • Kenzie

By The Fire: Episode 145: Challenge 10: Write a 1200-1500 word, non-fiction interview of yourself

In episode 145 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 1200-1500 word, non-fiction interview of yourself. The idea is to come up with questions and ask them how a reporter might ask them and then answer them as a professional writer may answer them. The contestants will be judged on interest of questions, interest of answers, and style. Does this sound like an easy challenge? Not really.

Though they are not being judged for it, the hardest part of this challenge may be selling yourself and your writing. In an interview, the author is the star of the show and the point is to get the readers of the interview to want to buy the author’s work. A writer has to wear several different hats, they may be good at writing fiction but can they sell the reader on their work by describing themselves and their stories in an interview?

Being able to come up with good answers in an interview is important because the person reading it is trying to make a decision on if they like the writer or not and if they are willing to purchase their work. It doesn’t matter how great of a writer you are, if you can’t sell yourself in an interview, you may have trouble getting a reader interested in your work. Personally, for me I love reading interviews, it’s a great way to get to know an author and decide if you like them or not. I’ve often made the decision on whether to buy or not to buy someone’s work based on the answers to interview questions. So in other words, learning how to act in an interview is an important skill.

So how about you, Addicts? Have you bought someone’s book based on an interview they had? I know I have. Can you come up with any examples of a good interview or a bad one? What do you think our contestants will focus on in their interview? What is the most important thing for a writer to talk about in an interview? Let us know in the comments.

#NGHW Winner of the Self-Interview Challenge Naching T. Kassa

Winner Naching T. Kassa!

DIALOGUE WITH THE DARKER HALF
by Naching T. Kassa

Naching T. Kassa describes herself as a wife, mother, and horror writer. She resides in Valley, WA with her family and their dog, Dallas. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to The Demonic Visions book series. Recently, one of her poems was accepted into the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume 4.

But, what do we really know about this dark lady? Who is she and what makes her so darn scary? We asked Nani K, the person who knows her best, to shed a little light on the shadow.

Nani K: Good morning, Naching. Thank you for sitting down with me.

Naching: My pleasure.

Nani K: First off, I have to say this. You don’t look like a horror writer. You’re always smiling and you seem so sweet. Where do you get these ideas?

Naching: (laughs) You’d be surprised how many times I get this question. Usually, my ideas just come to me.

Nani K: Out of the blue?

Naching: In a manner of speaking, yes. Imagine everyone has a door in their mind which separates their conscious from their unconscious. Most people keep the door closed. They don’t want to see the things which lurk on the other side. Horror writers want to see those things, want to explore them. We love that direct line to the dark side.

Nani K: Your ideas come from the unconscious mind?

Naching: Yes, with certain exceptions. There are times when I reach outside the door. Reach for things beyond myself.

Nani K: What do you mean?

Naching: Well, take “The Laughing Man,” for instance.

Nani K: Your 300-word story in the Second Challenge of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest?

Naching: Exactly. In the story, Laughing Man has a very distinctive scent. He smells of almonds. Looking at this part during the editing process I thought, “This is stupid. How is it scary? He’s rotting and leprous. He wouldn’t smell nice.” So, I went online and I looked up the smell of gangrene. That was too gross. I didn’t want my character to puke when the monster entered. He’s supposed to lie still. I decided to look up the smell of infections instead. Now, I had never researched infections before, never seen this site. But, what I found there creeped me out. There was an infection which smelled like almonds. Needless to say, it stayed in the story.

Nani K: Is this what makes a great horror writer? Reaching beyond yourself?

Naching: It can. But, I think great horror writers have a different ability. I think they can touch the darkness which resides in us all. The great writers force us to open our doors and let our monsters out. If only for a little while.

Nani K: I can see that. No one would want the door open all the time.

Naching: As a reader or watcher of horror I wouldn’t want mine open that long. However, a writer is different. Judging by the way Stephen King writes, I’m pretty sure his door is always open.

Nani K: Speaking of King, is he your favorite horror writer?

Naching: Well…I like him very much.

Nani K: You have another favorite?

Naching: I had a dream a while back where Stephen King and Dean Koontz fought for my affection.

Nani K: Oh—

Naching: (laughs) Not that kind of affection. And, it wasn’t some duel with swords. Though, that would’ve been cool. No, King said I was his greatest fan and Koontz said I belonged to him. I met with King in my living room and then I met Koontz in the kitchen.

Nani K: Who won?

Naching: Koontz. I told him he was my favorite. He was ecstatic. (laughs) It was an awesome dream.

Nani K: Do you think Koontz’s door is open all the time?

Naching:  I’m not sure. It’d be frightening if it was.

Nani K: While we’re still on the subject of doors, let’s talk about opportunity knocking on yours. How did you get involved with the Demonic Visions series?

Naching: The editor, Chris Robertson, and I were in an erotic/horror anthology together. I befriended him on Facebook and he told me he was about to start a new series of anthologies. He invited me to write for the first one. There are six volumes now and I have stories in all of them.

Nani K: How many erotic/horror stories have you written?

Naching: I thought you’d pick up on that one. I’ve written two. One was about a demon. The other was vampire erotica. My stories are different from other writers. They tip toward the romantic side.

Nani K: Do you like writing romance?

Naching: I do. Though, I find some of the categories confusing. A few months ago, I received a rejection for a horror story with romantic elements. The editor said he couldn’t buy it because he considered the story a Paranormal Romance. Now, there were no shifters involved. There were no humans in love with supernatural beings. Makes me wonder what criteria he used to decide this.

Nani K: You’ve brought up a good point here. Let’s talk about rejection.

Naching: (groans) Oh, man.

Nani K: What advice would you give a first time writer regarding rejection?

Naching: Persevere. If you get rejected, fix the story and send it out again to another place. If it gets rejected ten times, take some classes and improve your skills. Don’t give up. Never give up.

Nani K: You’re passionate about this.

Naching: It’s not in my nature to give up my dreams. I’m not a just writer by profession. It’s who I am. Also, before both of my parents passed, I told them I’d be a writer. If I give up, it’s like lying to them. And, I’ll never do that.

Nani K: You’ve often credited your father with your introduction to horror. What did your mom think of your interest in it?

Naching: She supported me but I think it worried her. She wasn’t into horror. My dad, on the other hand, was a big fan. He showed me Universal Horror, Hammer films, Hitchcock, Roger Corman films, and all the big movies. We watched Joe Bob Briggs’s Monstervision on TNT. He also bought me horror novels. He bought me my first Dean Koontz. My husband bought most of the rest.

Nani K: You’ve called your husband “your biggest supporter.” How does he help you?

Naching: Dan is great. He’s the sole provider for our family, he watches the kids while I write, and he’s my first reader. He also likes to scare me. He loves to make me jump during horror films.

Nani K: Does he ever worry about your horror writing? Does he stay awake nights wondering whether you’ll come to bed with a knife?

Naching: So, that’s why all the knives disappeared! I wondered why we didn’t have any in the house. No, I’m just kidding. He doesn’t worry. He knows me too well.

Nani K: As a wife and mother, how do you find time to write?

Naching: I write when everyone’s asleep. It’s dark and quiet. Very conducive to horror. I often wind up spooking myself.

Nani K: Earlier, you spoke of skill improvement. What do you do to sharpen skills?

Naching: I take online courses and I read books on writing. There’s a great website called edX.org and it offers classes from distinguished universities. Most classes are free unless you’d like to earn a certificate. Then, you have to pay a fee. My favorite course was English Grammar and Style from Queensland University in Australia. It was terrific.

Nani K: What books do you recommend for the first time horror writer?

Naching: “On Writing” by Stephen King, that’s the horror writer’s bible. “Strunk and White’s Elements of Style” and “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King are also great books.

Nani K: What is the one thing a writer needs most?

Naching: Readers. We should take as many as we can get, no matter what the age group. For a long time, I wrote what I considered adult horror. The funny thing is, most of the readers who approached me and expressed their admiration for my writing were teenagers and young adults. If you think about it, this is our largest audience. And, if they discover us now, they’ll follow our work into adulthood. That’s why I want to be the female version of R.L. Stine. I want to encourage and inspire another generation of readers.

Nani K: Thank you, Naching.

Naching: Thank you, Nani K. It’s been fun.

To find out more about Naching, go to: http://frightenme.weebly.com


Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net