Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Flash Fiction Deadline #flashfiction

Only Two Days Left
With the entry deadline fast approaching, you only have two days left to enter the flash fiction category. Here is the link for the Flash Fiction page. Don't miss out on a chance to win £300/£200/£100.
 
Short Story Category
Those of you who write longer fiction will be pleased to know you still have two months to polish and submit short stories between 1,000 and 3,000 words. The short story category closes on 29 February 2016.
 
Prizes: £500/£200/£100
 
Thank You
I'd like to thank you for your support over the past six years. What started out as an outlet for flash fiction has grown into one of the main competition sites on the calendar, now encompassing short stories and novels. Without your entries this could not have happened. Full details of all categories can be found on the Flash 500 Home Page.
 
I wish you all a wealthy, healthy, successful and, above all, happy New Year!
 
Kind regards, 
 
Lorraine






Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Competition News #writers #writing

Novel Winners on Site
The results and judge's report for the Flash 500 Novel Opening and Synopsis 2015 have now been posted. You can find all the information here. Many congratulations to the winners and all who made the long and short lists. The standard this year was incredibly high.
 
Flash Fiction
This quarter closes at midnight on the last day of 2015, so there are just over two weeks left to enter. Flash fiction details can be found here.
 
Short Story Category
Do you have a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words? Maybe more than one? Our short story category has a first prize of £500, with second and third prizes of £200 and £100. Open for entries until 29th February 2016.

For more information on our competition categories, visit the Flash 500 Homepage.
 
Kind regards,
 
Lorraine





Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Guest post by @timetaylor1



Hello, Lorraine! Thank you for inviting me along talk about my novel, Revolution Day, published this summer by Crooked Cat, which follows a year in the life of Latin American dictator, Carlos Almanzor.

Now in his seventies, Carlos is feeling his age and seeing enemies around every corner. And with good reason: his Vice-President, Manuel Jimenez, though outwardly loyal, is burning with frustration at his subordinate position.
Meanwhile, Carlos’ estranged and imprisoned wife Juanita is writing a memoir in which she recalls the revolution that brought him to power and how, once a liberal idealist, he came to embrace autocracy and repression. 

When Manuel’s attempts to increase his profile are met with humiliating rejection, he resolves to take action. Lacking military backing, he must pursue power not by force but through intrigue, playing upon Carlos’ paranoia and manipulating the perceptions of the president and those around him. 

As Manuel makes his move, Juanita and others close to Carlos will soon find themselves unwitting participants in his plans.

Revolution Day is a fictional story and Carlos is not based upon any particular individual. Nevertheless the plot and aspects of Carlos’ character were influenced in different ways by the lives of many real dictators.  Juanita too has some historical precedents – there is a hint of Eva Peron about her.   

My immediate inspiration for the book was the events of the Arab Spring in 2010-11, when a string of dictators who had once seemed unassailable – Gaddafi, Mubarak and others ­­– were toppled one after the other.   

What interested me was not so much the specific reasons for those events, but the wider issues they illuminate regarding the corrupting and deluding effects of power and its ultimate fragility.  Latin America, with its long history of dictatorship, seemed a good setting to explore all this, and hey presto, I had my story!

Here is an extract, an incident early on in the book which helps us understand Carlos’ paranoia:

A column of about fifty people in two parallel lines, each carrying a wreath, marched slowly into the square from the south. At its head, escorted by an inner guard of sixteen soldiers in ceremonial uniform, walked the five members of the Revolutionary Council, led by President Carlos Almanzor himself. He was accompanied by an Archbishop, who wore elaborate robes of white and gold in stark contrast to the military uniforms, dark suits and black dresses of the other mourners. Either side of the column walked two lines of military musicians, playing a funeral march.

A few paces short of the tomb there were two microphones on stands. Here the President and Archbishop came to a halt. The long centipede behind them compressed slightly as each pair of mourners stopped a few moments after the one in front. When all was finally still and the funeral march had come to an end, the President stepped up to one of the microphones and spoke in slow, measured tones.

“Today, on the anniversary of their burial, we pay tribute to those who fell in the cause of liberty on that great day, thirty-seven years ago. In sacrificing their lives, they gave new life to our nation. We are here to show that their courage and their loss were not in vain, and to acknowledge that we are forever in their debt.”

Almanzor finished speaking and stepped back a pace. It had never been his practice to make a long speech on these occasions – for that, there was Revolution Day itself. He saluted, then bowed his head and stood in silence. Some of the people whose remains were in the tomb had been his friends. The Archbishop now stepped forward and began a short service. As he spoke, the others in the column stood motionless under the hot sun. Sweat was beading on their brows, and dark stains were starting to appear at the armpits of some of the suits. They remained stolidly quiet. Even the crowd held their tongues for these moments of holiness.

Amid the stillness, a small object flew from the east towards the west side of the square. It might have been mistaken for a bird, but some people noticed its parabolic trajectory and the fact that it was tumbling end over end. Before anyone could react, the object exploded harmlessly in mid-air with a small puff of smoke and a loud crack. All eyes turned towards the sound, including those of the police and the soldiers, who instinctively turned their rifles towards it.

In that second, from the east side of the square whence the object had come, a long-haired figure forced its way through the crowd and leapt over the barrier. It raised its arms, pointing them towards the President, and from a small silver object in its hands came a flash and a second sharp crack. Every eye, and every rifle, in the square now turned towards this new sound. There were five more bangs, louder and deeper than before. The figure staggered, dropping the silver object, and blotches of red appeared upon its white t-shirt. It stumbled backwards and fell over.
              
If your readers are intrigued, they might like to know that, from today, the Revolution Day e-book is on special offer for Christmas at 99p/$1.99! More information and excerpts can be found on the Revolution Day page on my website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!revday/cwpf. 

Thanks again for hosting me, Lorraine!

              
Other Links: 


Bio

Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.  

Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife and daughter and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.






Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Friday, 27 November 2015

Novel Competition Shortlist #amwriting #results

Novel Shortlisted Titles on Site
The Novel Opening and Synopsis shortlist for 2015 has now been posted. You can find the titles here. These have now gone into the final judging stage.
 
Flash Fiction
This quarter closes at midnight on the last day of 2015, so you still have plenty of time to enter. Flash fiction details can be found here.
 
Short Story Category
Do you have a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words? Maybe more than one? Our short story category has a first prize of £500, with second and third prizes of £200 and £100.

For more information on our competition categories, visit the Flash 500 Homepage.
 
Kind regards,
 
Lorraine





Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Guest post by @shani_struthers



Thank you for hosting me on your blog today! My new book, Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story launches on the 24th November on Amazon and is the prequel to the popular Psychic Surveys series. Featuring two of the Psychic Surveys team – Theo Lawson and Vanessa Patterson – it’s set between 1899 and 1999 and is loosely inspired by a true event.

In my fictional re-telling, Theo and Ness are asked to investigate a town weighed down by the sorrow of what happened 100 years before…

Blurb
What do you do when a whole town is haunted?

In 1899, in the North Yorkshire market town of Thorpe Morton, a tragedy occurred; 59 people died at the market hall whilst celebrating Christmas Eve, many of them children. One hundred years on and the spirits of the deceased are restless still, ‘haunting’ the community, refusing to let them forget.

In 1999, psychic investigators Theo Lawson and Ness Patterson are called in to help, sensing immediately on arrival how weighed down the town is. Quickly they discover there’s no safe haven. The past taints everything.

Hurtling towards the anniversary as well as a new millennium, their aim is to move the spirits on, to cleanse the atmosphere so everyone – the living and the dead – can start again. But the spirits prove resistant and soon Theo and Ness are caught up in battle, fighting against something that knows their deepest fears and can twist them in the most dangerous of ways.

They’ll need all their courage to succeed and the help of a little girl too – a spirit who didn’t die at the hall, who shouldn’t even be there…

Excerpt
As Theo turned round to face the double doors, she had a feeling that someone - something - was rushing at her, as fleetingly as whatever had been in Adelaide's house. Refusing to let fear get a stranglehold, she turned back, her aim to confront it. A black wisp of a shape, like wood smoke, sideswiped her, before fading into nothing. Staring after it, wondering what it was, something else caught her attention. At the far end of the second room was something more substantial: a little girl, staring at her.

Theo's eyes widened. "Oh darling, darling," she whispered. She took a step forwards, tried to remember the names of the children on the list from earlier: Alice, Helen, Bessie, Adelaide's ancestor, Ellen Corsby perhaps. Which one was she?

She inched closer still. "Darling, your name, tell me what it is."

The little girl's arms moved upwards, she stretched them out, her manner beseeching although she remained mute. Theo tried again, told the child her own name.

"It's short for Theodora. I bet you're called something pretty."

The girl had a dress on; long, brownish, a course material - linen perhaps? Nothing special but if it was her party dress then maybe it was special to her. Her boots were brown too - lace ups, sturdy looking. She was around eight or nine but it was hard to tell. She could have been older just small for her age. Her hair was brown and tangled; she had a mane of it. Everything about her seemed to be brown or sepia, maybe sepia was the right word, as though she'd stepped out of an old photograph.

"I'm here now, sweetheart, I've come to help. You've been here for such a long time. Too long. You need to go to the light, go home, rest awhile."

Up closer, Theo could read her eyes. The longing in them stirred her pity.

"Let me help you," Theo persisted, her voice catching in her throat. As glorious as the other side might be, she still felt it unfair to be felled at such a young age. Often this was a good existence too and it deserved to be experienced fully.

She was close now, so close and still her arms were outstretched.

Harriet - the name presented itself whole in her mind.

"Your name's Harriet. Is that correct? It's lovely, it suits you."

Was that a smile on the child's lips, the beginnings of trust? Soon she'd be able to reach out and touch her. What would she feel like? Cold? Ethereal?

"Darling, I'm here," she repeated, no more than a foot between them. "I'm here."

Joy surged - one spirit had come forward - it was an encouraging start.

Just before their hands touched everything changed. Hope and joy were replaced with confusion as something sour - fetid almost - rose up, making her feel nauseous.

"Don't be afraid," Theo implored. Yet there was nothing but fear in her eyes now. No, not fear, that was too tame a word - terror.

"I'm not here to harm you," she continued. "I'm here to help."

As the words left her mouth, other hands appeared behind the child, a whole sea of them - disembodied hands that clawed at her, forcing her backwards.

"No!" Theo shouted. "Stop it. Leave her alone!"

But it was no use. Her words faded as the girl did. She'd been torn away, recaptured; the one who'd dared to step forward. Theo could feel sweat break out on her forehead, her hands were clammy. She clutched at her chest, her breathing difficult suddenly, laboured. Her heart had been problematic of late, a result of the pounds she'd piled on. She must go to the doctor to get some medication. Struggling to gain control, it took a few moments, perhaps a full minute, before her heart stopped hammering. And when it did, she remembered something else. The girl's eyes - her sweet, brown, trusting eyes - when the expression changed in them they hadn't been looking at her, they'd been looking beyond her. Was it at the thing that sideswiped her? Theo couldn't be certain. She wasn't certain either if that 'thing' was a spirit or much less than that - something with no soul, but with an appetite, an extreme appetite: a craving. Something, she feared, was insatiable.


Author Bio
Brighton-based author of paranormal fiction, including UK Amazon Bestseller, Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall. Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, is also available and due out in November 2015 is Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story - the prequel to the Psychic Surveys series. She is also the author of Jessamine, an atmospheric psychological romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and described as a 'Wuthering Heights for the 21st century.'

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is in progress.

All events in her books are inspired by true life and events.

Catch up with Shani via her website www.shanistruthers.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9






Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Friday, 20 November 2015

Novel long list is up #amwriting #novels



Novel Long List Titles on Site
The Novel Opening and Synopsis long list for 2015 has now been posted. You can read the titles here. Good luck for the next stage of judging to all those listed. Our readers stated how difficult it was to reduce the numbers to those on site, as the standard of entries was very high and the list could easily have been twice as long.

Flash Fiction
Entries are coming in nice and early for this category - it seems lots of you want to avoid the Christmas and New Year festive period. This quarter closes at midnight on the last day of 2015, so you still have plenty of time to enter. Flash fiction details can be found here 

Short Story Category
Do you have a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words? Maybe more than one? Our short story category has a first prize of £500, with second and third prizes of £200 and £100.

For more information on our competition categories, visit the Flash 500 Homepage.

Kind regards,

Lorraine






Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions