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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By The Fire: Episode 146: Challenge 11: Write a 5-6 minute Horror Audio Drama

Hello, Addicts, how time flies, we are getting towards the end of The Next Great Horror Writer contest and we have another tough challenge to talk about. In episode 146 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast, the challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to write a 5-6 minute horror audio drama. This is another one of those challenges that doesn’t sound too hard but really is. At first glance, 5-6 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot but when you write it out, that’s 6 pages of script. Contestants will be judged on creativity, entertainment value, and concept. Contestants have to come up with their own characters and own idea, they can’t use anyone else’s characters or established story. Winner will get their audio drama produced for the show.

One great thing about this contest is that the participants are really getting tested in every aspect of writing. They have had interviews, short stories, commercials, nonfiction blog posts and other challenges. An audio drama is another form of writing that is very different from any other form of writing. When I think of audio dramas I think of the old radio plays from the thirties and forties. Radio plays are kind of a lost art form but if you look for them you can still find podcasts dedicated to this art. The horroraddicts.net podcast has had a few good audio dramas throughout the years.

Audio dramas are very different from reading a short story or novel, the story is always important but in this case, you have to tell a lot of your story in dialogue form. You also probably need a narrator to set up the story and you have to consider what kind of sound effects you would need. Finding voice actors may be something that has to be considered also.

So Addicts, do you enjoy listening to audio dramas? If so what are some of your favorites and what makes an audio drama good? I think the right voice actors play a big part in it but you also have to come up with good characters, a good setting and a great story idea. So what do you think the contestants will come up with and who do you think will do the best job? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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.

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.

 

 

By The Fire, Episode 139: Challenge 3: 500 words non-fiction blog post

Hey Horror addicts, we just had our third challenge in the horroraddicts.net Next Great Writer Challenge. This episode’s challenge is to write a 500-word non-fiction blog post on something horror related. The contestants are judged on if it’s a good blog topic, topic interest and the quality of the writing.  This seems like an easy enough task but the question is what is a good enough subject to write about.

You could compare vampire novels, you could say who is scarier Frankenstein or The Wolfman, or you could just write about your favorite horror novel or movie. These topics almost seem too easy though. A better nonfiction horror topic would be how horror movies have changed over the decades. Or why does something that people thought of as scary in the 1930’s, not scare anyone today? You could also write a fun topic such as why are bad horror movies just as much fun to watch as good horror movies.

One topic that really interests me is how horror films can be metaphors on what scares us in society. In the 1930’s vampires were popular and I’ve heard some scholars say that vampires represented The Great Depression sucking the life out of people. I’ve also heard that zombies represent the idea of people losing their individuality and just mindlessly buying whatever product comes our way.

Another great topic would be how the female role has changed in horror films and books. In eighties slasher films and even going back further, women didn’t have very good roles in horror films. One may come out as a hero in the end but most of them did nothing but scream throughout the movie. In the horror films of today, women are just as tough as men and sometimes rescue the man rather than the other way around. When did this role change in horror movies? I wonder if it changed because filmmakers noticed that just as many women love horror movies as men.

This brings me to another good topic: what scares people and why? This is a broad topic and you could have 500 people write a blog post on it and each one would have a different answer. Horror seems simple but it is really a complex genre. What would your favorite nonfiction horror topic be to write about and why? Let us know in the comments, I’m dying to hear what you have to say on this one.

#NGHW News 138

 

Hello, Addicts!

Well, how good were this week’s stories! I can’t tell you how happy I am that our judges did not agree. This way, we were blessed with seven stories instead of the promised three. And oh my Odin, what stories they were!

So this week’s challenge was to write 250 words about a monster. Seven monsters we were given, three survived to the next round and then one was picked and deemed worthy of the mini prize – Professional audio production of the winning short story.

Our stories, this week were:
1 LARVAE #teamsumiko
2 THE PET #teamdaphne
3 LINGUA #teamJC
4 BLOODWORM #teamjonathan
5 THE ODDMENTS MONSTER #teamadele
6 THE LAUGHING MAN #teamnaching
7 ALWAYS HUNGRY #teamcat
You can read and/or listen to all these brilliant stories here.

In the discussion after the stories were read, we learned some juicy deets about our beautiful, spooky host, Emz. Our leader into the night is scared of insects and monkeys! And even though the contestants have been warned, it will be interesting to see if any of them draw on this info for their next projects. Knowing what spooks the judges could give them a leg up or tear them down. Only time will tell if any of them dare to scare our dearest Emz.

But this discussion leads me to think … What do our fearsome fifteen fear? What makes our makers of fear jump in the night? I simply had to ask. (And if you’re wondering what scares me, it’s koalas.)

We had some super interesting answers. AE Kirk – our archaeologist – was freaked out by skeletons as a child. Sumiko – the author of LARVAE – has an irrational fear of maggots, which may explain her monster. Naching – our winner for this week’s challenge (oh, had I not mentioned that yet!) – is claustrophobic. Ten points to who can guess what JC is scared of …

One story, which I really wanted to share with you, was from our sweet Daphne. I will let her tell you the story…

“I am TERRIFIED of ladybugs. Yes, the little red and black beetles that populate gardens and children’s story books. I wasn’t always afraid of them–I wore a ladybug dress to my first day of kindergarten–but that all changed when I was ten.
My parents, after twenty-plus years of marriage, finally built their dream home in the Missouri countryside: a magazine-worthy log cabin situated on five acres of wooded land. All was well. The house was completed and we moved in. But at some point during the construction process, ladybugs had laid eggs in one of the interior rooms–specifically, what would become my room.
After a few weeks, the eggs hatched. Thousands of them. While the room had been open to the environment when they were deposited, it was now sealed, locking the beetles inside the house along with me. They were everywhere: in my bed, my clothes, my hair. Their tiny armored bodies blocked out the light that streamed through my windows as they swarmed toward what they thought was freedom. My father would vacuum my room every day (taking the wriggling, writhing mass of insects outside for disposal), only for more ladybugs to appear in their kin’s place. This continued for months before a significant majority of the monsters had been rehomed outside (where I assume they went on to reproduce more of their abhorrent kind). Yet, to this day, when visiting my childhood home, I, without fail, find one of them creeping over a couch cushion or across my arm.”

So, back to the contest. The top three stories this week were BLOODWORM by Jonathan Fortin, THE PET by Daphne Straset and THE LAUGHING MAN by Naching T Kassa. But I totally already spoiled it by telling you that Naching won. Her story, set in a war zone and crossed with creepy bedtime tale, won her this week’s mini prize which you can also hear on the podcast.

Next week on the #NGHW contest is challenge number 3! Write a 450-500 word, non-fiction, blog post about anything horror. This is to test our fearsome fifteen’s ability to blog which is a super important asset for any writer’s career. This is a very different challenge that may see some different contestants take the limelight. It will be really interesting to see how the contestants handle non-fiction. They will be judged on:
• Blog ability. What will appeal to the readers.
• Topic interest. Is it something horror addicts are interested in today.
• Writing quality.
The winner will have their subject discussed on a prominent horror podcast.
So, who will you follow? Perhaps you will be on #teamjonathan – the gothic, demon lover with a taste for the unique and bizarre – or #teamfeind – Cthulu’s best friend and our favourite metal head – or #teamquentin – our filmmaking fan of Frankenstein’s monster – or #teamriley – the beautiful cosplaying gal who loves herself a little bit of Freddy. Let us know in the comments or on the social media.

Stay spooky!

Hugs xxx

Adelise M Cullens

KIDNAPPED BLOG: Released by Selah Janel

halogokidnappednotdateby Selah Janel

For me, a horror story begins as a what if. I like to suspend belief when I plunge my characters into a situation, and this also tends to keep me from uber-focusing on only one style or subgenre in horror and dark fiction. I’m just as open to writing evil invisible friends that can end the world as I am vampires, zombies, fairy tale eldergods, or naïve serial killers looking for love.

As you can imagine, my family is very proud.

However, sometime’s it’s hard to jump start an idea, or even find the right way to portray it to get it started on paper.

Flash fiction has always been a challenge for me, but I love writing prompts because they tend to immediately activate the what if portion of my brain. If I have a couple words or a phrase, I’m much more likely to start jotting down something than I am if you tell me “write something scary!”

You do that, you’ll probably get something sarcastic about bunnies, just sayin’.

At any rate, once I have a direction, the rest tends to just…pour out.

This is a classic example. I was taking part in a blogging campaign right when I first started my blog, and there were flash fiction contests every so often. I think the prompt for this was “wall” and I had like five hundred words or so to tell a tale. I love little moments like this, and I still really like this piece. It’s amazing what can come out of a person’s brain in five hundred words one you’re given a direction.

Released

Shadows crept along the wall as velvet grey fingers seared right through the mortar between crumbling bricks. The longer Morgana stared, the more her suspicions were reinforced. The crawling, skittering veins and puddles of effervescent nightmares were not attacking the wall, but were coming from it.

“I stared too long,” she murmured, as if to convince her terrified logic that she was still alive. “I looked too closely and saw into The Wall. Somehow it saw me.” Past scrawled orange graffiti, under the brick, Morgana had seen it. And it had been trapped safely away, because it was evil.

She’d been warned to ignore the Cobbington Village Wall. No one remembered when or why it had been built across Shepherd’s Field, but the entire village population was content to let the whole place fall to neglect if it meant they could ignore The Wall.

“I just had to go for a walk,” Morgana whimpered, unable to move or even blink away from the skulking, oozing touches of the vile nothing that leaked out. “I just had to listen to the talk shows and change things up a bit. I couldn’t just be content watching a movie, eating dinner on my own, and falling asleep on the couch.” What had seemed a horrible prison sentence even thirty minutes ago was suddenly heaven; why had she been so stupid as to long for more than her humdrum, cashier, sweat-suit life?

The black entity that The Wall had held captive for so long oozed and splatted onto the grass. It sucked the life and color away as it claimed the good and simple of everyday life into its clutches. Morgana watched numbly as the ground, the air, the ants at her feet screamed and shriveled into grey nothing. “All I wanted was something different!” she stammered as the tendrils crept towards her toes. “Why did I have to go outside today?”

The rippling darkness chuckled and slowly flowed over her feet like spilled porridge, devouring her beat-up sneakers in its cold, blank grasp. She choked back a cry when the slimy ice feeling gripped her ankles.

“This is better,” the living tar streaming over her feet burbled into her mind. “They tried to hold me back for so long…now I’ll use you to return to Cobbington. We’ll both break free from the village, you and I.” Morgana tried to scream, but the horrible realization that at least her life would finally be interesting actually made her smile as her thoughts stopped becoming her own. For its part, the darkness growled its thanks before everything Morgana knew faded.

***

Selah Janel writes in many genres and wrecks them all. When she’s not writing, she’s making trolls and other costumes. Check her out at the following places:

Blog: http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel