Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest

Every other month, the kind folks at Shock Totem host a flash fiction contest. They give a prompt and you have a week to come up with a story. Then everyone participating in the contest has to vote and critique the stories within a certain period of time. At the end of the year, the contest winners are read by an independent source and that person's top pick appears in the next issue of the zine. Pretty cool, yes?

The theme for the July contest was Monsters and Fireworks and lo and behold, my story, The Taste of Duty, won first place. I was rather stunned by the win as all the stories were amazing.

The next contest will be in September, so if you're interested, you have to sign up on the ST forum.

And if you're wondering what duty tastes like, well, according to the main character in my story, it tastes like a 'f*ckload of wrong'. ;)

But the Shock Totem contest win? That tastes like a f*ckload of right. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oh, the Horror!

The New York Times featured an article recently called The Critique of Pure Horror, which asks the question: "why do so many of us enjoy being disgusted and terrified?"

For me, it's the delicious chill up the spine that an effective horror novel or movie offers. I'm talking about unsettling dread, not the quick 'made you jump' or the whole 'hey, let's see how much we can gross you out' techniques. I'm not squeamish, but one bloody, gory scene after another might make me wince, but it doesn't make me afraid to go down in my basement or jump when there's a noise in my kitchen.

I was disappointed when I saw Hostel. The concept was awesome and the movie could have been so cool. Imagine dimly lit corridors, muffled screams and the whir of instruments behind closed doors. A trail of blood running out from under a door. A spatter of red against a wall. Imagine never seeing what's really happening, but allowing your own mind to wander... Instead, it offered boobs! and guts! and gore! Sigh. After I watched it, I ate dinner. Pasta, I think, with lots of chunky red sauce. And maybe some grapes for dessert. ;)

The Exorcist is one movie that still scares the crap out of me. I have to watch it with all the lights out, of course, and when the credits roll, I run around flipping every light on and checking over my shoulders. Sure, there's a bit of gore here and there, but it's very tame by modern standards. The creepiest scene to me is when Regan is sitting up in bed and the shadow on the wall behind her is that of the demon. Even thinking about that scene while sitting in my kitchen with the bright light of day flooding in gives me goosebumps.

And The Shining? That book made me afraid of what might be behind the shower curtain for a long, long time. And if truth be told, I might still peek behind it from time to time.

That's pure horror to me. And it's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Short Story News

I've sold my short story, In Exchange for Sorrow, to Kaleidotrope. The speculative fiction zine is currently transitioning from print to an online, quarterly format. My story will appear sometime in 2012; I will keep you posted.

Keep writing, reading, and daydreaming!