By The Fire: Episode 145: Challenge 9: Write a 1200-1500 word campfire tale in storyteller format

Hey HorrorAddicts, I hope you’re enjoying the contest so far because things are getting more exciting. In episode 145 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 1200-1500 word campfire tale in storyteller format, as if you are telling it to us around the campfire. Contestants will be judged on scare factor, originality and storytelling ability. The winner will have their story published by horroraddicts.net publishing as part of their “Horror Bites Series”.

Campfire tales are possibly the most fun form of horror storytelling there is. If a campfire tale isn’t simple enough it will lose its effect. They should be short, hopefully, have a monster, crazed killer or a ghost and a shock ending would be the icing on the cake. Campfire tales aren’t rocket science, the story doesn’t have to even be that good as long as it’s scary. The whole idea is to gather around the campfire and try to scare your friends with tales of the grotesque or a good urban legend. We’re all storytellers if you think about it and a campfire is a perfect place to perfect your craft.

So Addicts, have you ever told scary tales around the fire? I think most people have, it’s like a rite of passage. To quote A Nightmare Before Christmas: “life’s no fun without a good scare”. What were the stories you tried to scare your friends with? Was your audience scared? Did someone scare you with their story? Pretend this blog is a roaring fire and let us know what your favorite scary story is and leave your tall tale in the comments.

#NGHW News Episode #144

Hello, Addicts!
This week was way more brutal than I think we or the contestants thought it would be. Creating an original character can be tough, but having to write 900 words, mostly of clear character description and have some story to it … that, my horror-addicted friends, is super difficult.
But our writers still did it. They saw the challenge through, even though it lived up to its name – “challenge.”
Episode #144 brought us six semi-finalists.

  1. Silt and bone by Jess Landry
  2. Kerry Anne by Harry Husbands
  3. Changeling by Daphne Strasert
  4. Dr. Sonya Quillius by Jonathan Fortin
  5. Selkie by Adele Marie Park
  6. Cerebus by Sumiko Saulson

This week’s mini prize was pretty awesome. Using the description the author gave, an anime sketch will be drawn of the character they portrayed. This will be done by the amazing artist, Alyca, from Pixel Ghost Creations.

Creative jobs, although they may seem fanciful and relaxed, can be some of the toughest out there and artists often do not get the recognition they deserve. Artists have to create something out of nothing, giving life to where there was none before. Then they have to sit back and see if people like it or even see it at all. Wading through the sea of criticism and self-doubt searching for the buoys of validation can be exhausting and as much as we say we don’t need validation, sometimes it is a necessary evil. Artists have to eat too.

This can be doubly difficult when life happens to us. As it does to all of us. Whether this means your day job getting in the way, relationship issues, sickness, and all the other stray, flaming, Frisbees life likes to throw at us while our backs are turned, this can all inhibit creativity.

Which brings us to this week’s question! This time, I asked our Evil Eleven, “Do you have anything to help you stick with your writing? Even though it is something we love to do and can be therapeutic, when life happens it can be hard to make the time. How do you adult and be a writer?”

“I write on my phone using google docs while I’m on the train to work in the morning. Try to find the little moments in the day to get a little done.
Sometimes I write more if I think of everything else as “that thing I have to do,” rather than my writing. Maybe someday there’s an episode of a show I want to watch. I think of the show as “that thing I have to get done,” and then my writing becomes an act of fun rebellion against myself. It’s weird but effective.” – Jonathan
“I stick with my writing because my heart desires. It wants me to write my dreams down, and to express the things that it deems interesting. The need to create and communicate is what drives me forward. It is my passion, after all, to tell stories.

Also, maybe my secret is that I don’t adult. Sure, my body has grown, and as time goes by, I have a better understanding of things and situations, but I’ve always tried to remain young in my heart and mind. Also in my soul, if such a thing exists. I try to keep things as simple as possible, never take anything too seriously or personally, and remember that growing up is a thing we never stop doing.” – JC

“I eliminate all distractions. No TV. No Facebook. No internet (unless it’s for research). No husband walking around without his shirt on. (In fact, my husband is required to dress in loose, long-sleeved shirts until I have finished writing for the day.) no cute children in the room, no cute puppies or kitties, and no cute ice cream cones or cherry bonbons.” – Naching

Our finalists for episode 144 were, in no particular order, Jess, Daphne and Sumiko. The judges were also quite taken with Harry and Jonathan’s entries also, but the points decided the contestants.

Last week, Daphne took home her first win. This week, there was another first for this comp. Daphne took home her second win! One win after another. Congrats, Daphne! You can read Daphne’s full entry here.

The scores are getting very close. Jonathan is still in the lead, but Daphne is now hot on his tail with only eight points between them. Third place is a tie between Jess and Naching with 29 points between them and Daphne. But it could still be won by anyone. One turn of the tables and everything could change.

So, until next episode, stay spooky!
Hugs
Adelise

By The Fire: Episode 144: Challenge 8: 900-1000 Word Introduction of an Original Horror Character

In episode 144 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 900-1000 word introduction of an original horror character. The point of this challenge was to test the writer’s ability to create a believable and descriptive character. The prize for this part of the contest is for an anime sketch of the writer’s creation. So if they can’t describe their main character well, the artist can’t draw it and the person reading their work can’t form a mental image of who is being written about.

Describing a character in a book may not seem important but if an author leaves too much to the reader’s imagination, the reader’s image will be different from what the author is thinking about. The writer can’t control how the reader imagines his or her creation will be but they can at least give the reader an idea of what they were thinking. Writing a character description probably isn’t as easy as it sounds because how do you know when you over described them? You have to leave something to the reader’s imagination, but if you leave everything up to the reader it could ruin your whole story.

I have a great example of the importance of character description. Keep in mind that I’m coming from the reader’s point of view and not the writer’s. I just finished reading a horror novel where the monster in it is a Sasquatch. In this book, there is no real description given of the Sasquatch beyond the fact that it was big and hairy. The author left what the monster looked like to my imagination and instead of coming up with the image of a horrifying monster in my head I found myself thinking of the Sasquatch from the Jack Link beef jerky Messing with Sasquatch commercials. Every time the monster did something horrible in the book I wasn’t feeling scared for the protagonists instead I was laughing at how funny those commercials were. The writer’s attempt at making me scared of his monster failed because he didn’t give me enough information on what he was thinking.

So if you can’t give enough description of a character it could ruin your whole story. Character description in a horror novel is probably more important than in any other genre of fiction. Horror is all about emotion and as a reader if I don’t know enough about someone in a book I can’t feel any emotion for him. To fear a monster I need to know how evil it is and to be scared for a victim, I have to feel some compassion for him. It doesn’t even have to be a visual description if you describe how the monster in question has killed others that could get me to fear him. Same thing for the protagonist, just give me something I can relate to like how hard he works to support his family. That way I’ll be hoping he gets away from the monster because his family needs him. So horror addicts how would you describe your favorite monster? And what did you think of the contestants’ description? Leave a comment and let us know.

 

 

#NGHW News Episode #143

Hello Addicts,

This episode opens up with a little more sad news. We are down to eleven contestants now. Timothy has now left us. But hopefully it will not be the last we hear of him.

We do still have our Evil Eleven and competition is getting fierce.

Episode #143 brought us some true stories of horror that the contestants personally experienced. And the mini prize was full publication on this very blog.

So, let’s get straight into this episode’s seven semifinalists, shall we?

  1. Black Death by Naching T Kassa
  2. A Day at The Beach by Harry Husbands
  3. Calling The Dead by Cat Voluer
  4. Sin Scope by JC Martinez
  5. Into The Grave by Daphne Strasert
  6. My Life as a Young Adult Urban Horror Heroine by Sumiko Saulson
  7. Dogs and Sand by Jonathan Fortin

It is so important for authors to blog, these days, and it is good to see such talent and honesty in our Evil Eleven. It is difficult for most people to be honest and open with someone that you are close to, let alone be open and honest with the world. And that is what the contestants have demonstrated here.

Unfortunately, we only got a snippet as always, but I think it was enough to get a feel for the piece and the writing style. Plus, we got to hear our authors’ voices, real voices. They spoke about why they deserve to be the next great horror writer, and the difficulties they have had to face.

Next episode will show the 8th challenge. It is a 900-1000 word Horror Character description. The Eleven have to describe an original character in a story telling way. So, it cannot sound like an instruction manual. The winner of this challenge will have the amazing prize of having their character brought to life by the amazing Anime artist Alyssa from Pixel Ghost Creations. Seeing their character in front of their eyes and not just in their head would be amazing.

Which brings me to the question I asked the contestants this week. I asked the contestants about book covers. We all know that old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but do any of us actually follow this? As exciting as it may be for an author to see their characters brought to life, having a character on the cover of a book can be distracting and, sometimes, deceiving. Here is what some of the authors think.

“I’m picky about book covers. I know they say not to judge, but you only get one first impression. If an author (publisher, etc.) took the time to create a good cover, then I assume they took that same care with the story inside. I love covers that show a character, but only if they’re well made. I’m not a fan of stock photo manipulation. Artist renderings (like those for Patricia Briggs’ novels) are my favorite.” Daphne

“Graphic design is my day job, so covers are definitely very important to me!
As far as the design of the book covers, I think whatever fits the story best is a-okay. If your cover shows a character–great! If not–that’s great, too! But the readers should definitely get a sense of what your novel is about based off its cover.” Jess

“I think readers often make determinations about whether or not to buy a book based on its cover. When I answer calls for submissions for anthologies, the cover art is often a factor. The cover art for Mocha Memoir Press “Death’s Cafe,” Colors in Darkness “Forever Vacancy” and HorrorAddict’s “Clockwork Wonderland” attracted me to those anthologies – I have work in all three.” Sumiko

“I look at a book cover much like an album cover. A bold exciting cover will get people’s attention, holding that attention is then all up to the content. Put shiny wrapping paper on a gift it’ll catch people’s attention but what’s inside is what they’ll remember. No one remembers the wrapping paper once the gift is opened, all they remember is what was inside.” Feind

“Book covers are very important. Even though they tell you not to judge based on them, covers are what catch your eye, and in a world where there are so many choices, covers are the first thing that sets your book apart from others.
Truth be told, I’ve never given too much thought to character-centric book covers. I think the most important for me is that a cover has an understanding of the content of a book, and accurately conveys it with simple yet powerful images.” JC

“They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, many people do. Most won’t even read a book unless the cover intrigues them. Good art does a lot for a story. Bad art can hurt one.
Suppose you’ve written a story about a brave Knight battling a dragon and you illustrate it yourself. Unfortunately, you have no talent when it comes to dragons. Every time you draw your cover, the dragon resembles a mutant spider fighting a stick-figure with a top hat. You publish the story with said cover and no one buys it. Do you need to wonder why? Bad art shows a lack of quality. It’s a disservice to your work. You may have written the best thing in the world but no one will touch it because they think it’s about a man with a hat walking his spider.
By the way, this never happened to me. If it did, I was much younger and my access to art supplies consisted of three crayons, two of which were broken.” Naching

“I am so picky about book covers. I LOVE pretty book covers but ugly covers can detract from the entire experience of reading or make the book seem less professional. I can’t stand covers where we see the character, but not their eyes or forehead. Or only from the neck down. Anonymous Naked Man Chest is also a variety of this. Some of my favorite books have decidedly boring covers (American Gods, Perdido Street Station, Name of the Wind)–covers that aren’t necessarily BAD but aren’t exactly GREAT either. On the other hand, when I see an absolutely BEAUTIFUL cover it makes me want to buy the book. Original, well-crafted, aesthetically pleasing works of art created specifically for the book are my favorite.” Jonathan

What are your thoughts on book covers? Do you agree with any of the contestants?

Our finalists this episode were Harry, Daphne and Jonathan. And don’t forget, addicts, that every challenge brings points to every contestant. The points are close and the big prize of a publication contract could still be anyone’s. You can check out the overall scores here.

Without further delay, if you didn’t already know, I will reveal this episode’s winner. #TeamDaphne got her first win of the series! Congrats to you, Daphne! You can go and read the whole blog post right here.

Come and join in the discussion at the HorrorAddicts.net Facebook page, a community of freaks, weirdos, goths, vampires, and general horror fanatics. We’d love some fresh meat. (insert maniacal laughter here) but seriously, come and have a chat, talk to the contestants and the staff and other addicts in the community.

Until next episode, Addicts, stay spooky!

Hugs xxx

Adelise

#NGHW News Episode #142

 

Hello Addicts!

In the last episode, our writers were hit with a big one. A 3000-5000 word horror story. The theme: Music. They were given the extra time, of course, Emz is no monster. But it must have taken a lot out of them. After whipping up 5000 words worth of story… plus editing … and rewriting … and then having it publicly judged, surely they are feeling exhausted.

“For the 5000-word story–man, that was tough! I’m a procrastinator by nature, so of course, I didn’t start writing it until a few days before it was due. I jammed-packed all the emotions a writer goes through while writing a longer story. Basically going from ‘Ooh, this could work as an idea!’ to ‘Dear God, what have I done?’ in less than 24 hours. A new personal best!”-Jess

“I always feel good when I write. And after I’ve finished something, if it will be read or not, if it’s good or bad, regardless of whatever circumstances surround a piece I’ve written, I just keep writing. I think that’s the only thing a writer can do.” -JC

We had some great snippets here. All of them unique and left me wanting to hear the rest. The uses of the genre and the theme were stretched and I really enjoyed the fact that I was surprised by the story ideas. Alternative worlds were Music is like a drug to Japanese folklore. Their stories were so different, it was hard to believe they were given the same set of instructions. But they all ran with the same theme, keeping to the rules. Our semi-finalists last week were:

  1. Cherry Blossoms and Yokai by Adele Marie Park
  2. Scordatura by Jess Landry
  3. Audio Addict by Daphne Strasert
  4. Requiem in Frost by Jonathan Fortin
  5. Audition by Naching T. Kassa
  6. The Agent by Harry Husbands
  7. The Lament of the Piano Man by AE Kirk

This week’s mini prize was not so mini. Publication in the upcoming short story anthology, Crescendo of Darkness. To make the prize even more special, the other contestants were banned from submitting their stories for the anthology. As much as this hurt Emz to do, the stories were so good that she would have liked more of them in the anthology.

Let’s have a quick chat about next episode’s challenge. A 900-1000 word non-fiction blog post on something horrific that the writer experienced. This could be a haunting, a phobia, anything that they have experienced that they found horrifying. It will be judged based on: blog-ability, topic choice, and writing quality.

This week’s challenge is a little more personal than the rest. Even though what writers do is personal, mostly we can hide behind that banner of “fiction”. I asked the writers how they feel about baring something so personal?

This also made me think about privacy and people’s comfort levels with how much they are willing to let people in. As writers, we are generally introverts, but with success comes other things that introverts don’t tend to like. So I asked the writers if being in the public eye is something they feel will be difficult?

“This week’s challenge was difficult. You’re baring a piece of your soul to the world and you’re hoping they understand your point of view. My experience happened over 30 years ago and may seem funny to those who read it. The things we fear may seem ridiculous to others or just as frightening. Sometimes, we don’t choose our fears. They choose us. (By the way, you’re talking to someone whose first fear was a flying sandwich with vampire teeth. Did he choose me? Or, did I choose him? It’s the eternal question.)

I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble being in the public eye. Like most people, I’m nervous at first. But, after a while, I turn into a huge ham. Maybe, that’s why the sandwich chose me.” -Naching

“In real life, I am a total introvert, practically like a monk living high in the mountains away from civilization at times, but writing isn’t like being a rock star or movie star. Most of our “public” attention comes online which is a much easier animal for us introverts to withstand. I don’t know how I’ll stand up to a convention or book signing at some point but armed with my anxiety pills I should be fine. LOL” -Feind

“I’m not a fan of writing about my personal life and would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to just make some stuff up. I’m sure that’s a viable option, but it defeats the purpose. I think in writing about your own experiences, you’re saying: “Hey, I may write fiction, but I’m real.” and that’s too valuable a thing to be phony about. I’m no good at it, but I get real pleasure from reading about writers’ lives whom I admire and so if I ever gained any kind of readership, I’d want to be able to do that for them too. I don’t see myself being in the public eye at any point (I’m talking tabloid man-boob close-ups) but if by some off-chance I ever was, I’d be swift in retreating to the mountains for a while until it all blew over.” -Harry

Episode #142 meant Naching took home her second win! Congrats #teamnaching! You can go and check out a snippet of Naching’s winning story on our website. Remember that if you wish to learn more about the contestants, the past, and present, you can do so at our contestants’ page. Have a peek at their websites or blogs, connect with them via the social media.

We have a little sad news this week. Our fearsome thirteen has been cut down to the Twisted Twelve, with our beautiful cosplaying Riley leaving. I hope that, as I do with all of the writers, that this is not the last we hear of her. I wish nothing but success for all of our contestants.

So, halfway through the contest now and Jonathan still holds the lead with a score of 399. Naching is close on his heels with 375 and coming up into third is Daphne with 369. It is still a close contest. Each week every contestant get a score and just because they don’t win that particular challenge doesn’t mean they can’t take home the big prize. Consistently good can still win out. If you want to check out how close the scores are, you can do so right here.

Until next episode, Addicts, stay spooky!

Hugs xxx

Adelise

By The Fire Edpisode 142: Challenge 6: 3,000 to 5,000 word story on Horror and Music

 

In episode 142 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 3,0000 to 5,000-word story that includes music, horror and musical instruments. The story will be judged on musical theme, creativeness and writing quality. The winner of this contest will get their story published in the anthology Crescendo of Darkness from horroraddicts.net publishing.

If you’re not familiar with Crescendo Of Darkness it’s going to be horroraddicts.net publishing’s 6th anthology and will be edited by Jeremiah Donaldson. You can find more about it here. This could be the hardest challenge yet for the contestants, it’s certainly the longest. First, of all, you would have to come up with an idea on how music can be scary. Could the story be about a cursed instrument? A song with backward messages causing people to go crazy? Or could it be a spirit trapped in a song? The sound of music can cause powerful emotions in people but does it scare people? Can music be dangerous?

I think a lot of times when people think of horror they don’t necessarily think of music, but think for a minute what horror films would be like without music to set the mood. Movies like Halloween and Psycho would not have had the same effect without the orchestra music in the background. What would happen if you replace the music in Suspiria with country music? It definitely would not have the same effect. Music soundtracks are only one way that we see how music can be scary, there are also quite a few stories out there about cursed musical instruments. M.R. James wrote about a cursed harp and Caitlin Kiernan had a story about a cursed violin. Music is a form of communication and it can be used to strike terror in someone’s heart.

So addicts do you have a certain song that when you hear it causes you to feel a strong emotion? Can a certain instrument cause you to have chills? I’ve always felt that music can take you to another place and time but can it create fear? Tell us in the comments if you’ve ever been scared by a song or just how you think music can be something scary.  Also if you were in this contest or submitting to the anthology what would you write about?

#NGHW News Episode #141

Hello Addicts!

This episode on the next great horror writer we got to see a sweeter side of our fearsome thirteen. If you can call demon conjuring, zombie love, and flesh-devouring barnacles “sweet.” A 650-700 word, Epic Romantic Horror Poem was the challenge this episode and didn’t the contestants pull out the good stuff! Despite them not liking it very much.

This week the mini prize was publication in Siren’s Call magazine plus ten bucks from Horroraddicts.net!

Nautical seemed to be hugely popular among the contestants. And I loved the different “Romance” scenarios and they were not all completely serious. The only issue that I have is that we didn’t get to hear the whole poems! They were so good!

First cab off the rank was Under the Water by Sumiko Saulson. It was beautiful and dark, ocean and Leviathan imagery ringing through.

Next was Siren’s Song by Riley Pierce. Haunting and a little sad. One of sacrifice and of possible unrequited love.

Flesh Passion by Feind Gottes was a gorgeously dark tale that makes me long for more. Sticking to Feind’s style, it seems a little thicker on the horror than the other poems. And hearing the judges talk about the rest of it, I definitely want to hear the rest.

Our fourth poem was A Warning on Wings by Jonathan Fortin. JF wove a story of longing in such a poetic way that just left me wanting more, yet again.

The imagery in number five is so beautiful. The Only Thing That Remains by Jess Landry is so sweet, I can only imagine how the rest of the poem goes…

A Vampire and a Zombie by AE Kirk went in, what to me was, totally the other way. Lovely and apocalyptic and comical, if you like decaying flesh jokes (which we have already established that I do like the sick sense of humour) and with back story that I simply must find out…

Maybe I can use my journalistic advantage for evil and request the full poems? (insert maniacal journo laughter here)

If you haven’t noticed (but you probably have), we are down to thirteen contestants. We have lost two of our fearsome – Patrick and Quinten – which is sad. The comp is tough. The challenges, although from the outside may seem easy, are grueling, pushing the contestants to the limits of their creative minds and souls.

This week, I asked the fearsome to give some feedback on how they are going. We are almost halfway and things are really moving. We have some clear leaders at the moment but it is in no ways “in the bag.” The going has been tough, but it is not over yet.

This is what some of them had to say…

“So, the poetry challenge. I didn’t hate it, jajaja, and it was a good opportunity to create something I wouldn’t have created otherwise… About the challenge in general… the important thing, to me, is to keep writing. The contestants have made an incredible effort, an incredible job, and have created amazing art, which is the most important. I hope they keep up the great work.”
JC

“I was one of the few who enjoyed the poetry challenge and, though I didn’t make it into the top six, I had a great time. Sometimes, your submission doesn’t meet the needs of the judges or potential editors. It doesn’t necessarily mean your piece sucks. As writers, we tend to link our personal feelings to our art. We act as though any criticism of what we’ve created is a critique of ourselves, our own personalities. This isn’t the case. Many times, editors have no idea who we are.
Sometimes, rejection can be awesome. I submitted a piece to the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy earlier this year and received a personal rejection from the editor. He told me what he liked and didn’t like about the story and then, he invited me to submit another story in the future! Best rejection ever! I’ll crack that market yet!
With regards to the contest, I must say I love the challenges. Not only are they fun, they’re also functional. I’m building a terrific portfolio here. It’s something I wouldn’t have done otherwise. And, I say, the more difficult the better. I love testing my brain. This whole thing is a blast. I wish it would never end.”
Naching

“I can only speak for myself but the poetry challenge was the toughest so far for sure. I used to write little poems all the time just for fun but trying to write a poem that long (650-700 words) on a subject, horror romance, that I would never touch with a ten-foot pole was no easy task… I feel this contest has already helped improve my writing overall by forcing me to push my limits. No matter how I end up in this contest be it first place or dead last I will continue writing and searching for outlets for my work. During the course of this contest, I have had two stories accepted for publication and several more in the pipeline with more I’m writing every day. The only real problem I see is that because of how much we are being pushed out of our comfort zones that some who perhaps aren’t doing so well will be discouraged from continuing. Writing is a subjective medium, what one person or judge loves another will hate… Everyone has their own taste in art so no matter what happens in this contest it’s important for me and the other contestants to keep in mind that while we must always strive to improve it is equally important to find like-minded outlets for whatever style it is we do best. I’ve been lucky enough to find some and I hope every one of my talented competitors do also.”
Feind

“I really enjoyed the challenge. It was tricky because I had to abandon the stanza structure I was using in order to make it fit the word count, but it worked out in the end.”
Jonathan

Well, Sumiko, Feind and Jonathan got into the finals this week but it worked out really well for Jonathan in the end, because he is the winner of this week’s challenge! Congrats, #teamjonathan. “Trigger the becoming of the darkest greatest you.” This win puts Jonathan in the lead overall.

This brings us to our sixth challenge. It will be a 3000-5000 word story with music or musical instruments involved and in the horror genre. This will be judged on musical theme, creativeness and writing quality. It will be the longest challenge for the season. The winner will be published in the Horroraddicts.net submission call, Crescendo of Darkness, released in 2018. We are only publishing the winner.

So that brings us up to date and ready for the next episode. Stay tuned addicts! Don’t forget to come and connect with us at the Facebook group and let us know who you are cheering for!

Stay spooky!

Hugs xxx