November 30, 2010

Get your Story Straight! The Bristol Prize now open!

The last month of the old year not even gone and already people can't wait for the new! With the Aeon Award 2010 closing its door tonight at midnight (the 30th of November), the Bristol Prize 2011 is open for entries as of today.

This rather young but prestigious award hands out £1000 for the first prize, £700 for the second prize and £400 for the third prize, plus several gift certificates for major retailers (Waterstone's, etc) and shortlists 20 of its entries, each of which get a £100 gift certificate. Every shortlisted story is automatically published in next years anthology.

Rules are simple. Stories cannot exceed 3000 words and must be written in the English language. Everything is else is open. Stories can be genre-based writing, like sci-fi, fantasy, romance, historical and so on or in any style including graphics. It doesn't matter where you come from, as long as the story is written in the English language.

Closing date is 31st of March 2011, so dot those i's and cross those t's and hand in your best effort. For more info click

The Bristol Short Story Prize was founded by the editors of the quarterly cultural magazine Bristol Review of Books in 2007 with the aim of publishing great short stories and raising funds for the magazine, enabling it to remain a free publication. The magazine specializes not only in book reviews but also publishes features and comment on a wide range of cultural events, history and arts. 

Other contests I'm entering:

Bridport Prize
Aeon Award

November 28, 2010

Real life ghosts?

In a short conversation we had today with our Romanian friend, she told us that in Romania it is still very common to believe that when a person dies, the ghost stays around for 40 days.

It will be haunting the survivors, but usually not in a bad way. She went to explain how strange sounds during these 40 days can be heard, especially around the things that the deceased held dear. Afterward the ghost disappears to the afterlife. As our friend tells it, this is a very real and serious thing for the survivors. They believe in these ghosts.

I am hardly the one to start a discussion on the existence of ghosts or spirits on a blog for horror literature, but it sparked something. So I went around the Internet and found some links of pictures of real ghosts. Whether you believe it or not, some of these are very eerie, so be warned.

Demonic Creature haunts accident scene - The longer you stare at this picture, the more real it becomes. The haunting thing is that it is actually an accident scene. Your brain just ties the two things together.

Ghost child in group photo - This one comes off pretty friendly at first, especially since its a group photo of a party. Once you start to realize what you're looking at and what the implications might be, it becomes a little scarier.

Friendly ghost posing for photograph - This could easily be trick photography or an accident of exposure. Since it's late at night, long shutter speeds, etcetera. The strength in this lies in a simple question: what if its not?

Ghost Monk of Newby Church - Waaah! Not for the faint of heart! This could easily come out of some horror flick from the 30s. Skeptics might be a distrustful of the black-and-white and the grainy quality of this picture, but it still leaves an impression.

Ghost Face in Cemetery - With most pictures you have to stare at it for a while, but this one is very in-your-face. Literally. Not very scare, but certainly odd.

There you have it. I must say that during the viewing of some of these I had to check over my shoulder from time to time and I might leave the light on when retiring tonight. If you search a little more around the Net you will find loads of videos, pictures, some of dubious quality, but some quite convincing.

Have a good evening!

November 25, 2010

Top Ten Short Stories of Horror Literature

It's funny how since the eighties or so short horror stories have kind of disappeared from the general preference in favour of longer novels and even series of novels. Short literature is no longer taken serious, it seems, unless written by an established name. But what is nicer than to read a short story of appropriate length on a bus or a train, on the beach in the sun, or in the comfort of your own bed just before falling asleep?

And what of the authors who are able to conjure up a universe in just a few broad strokes, deepen the characters and suck you into their world in a mere ten or twenty pages. Doesn't therein lie the true craftsmanship? For this list I have looked at the lesser known, but excellent short stories ranging from the delightfully devilish to the horrifically funny.

1) The Vertical Ladder - William A. Sansom - A young boy gets coaxed by his peers to climb a ladder up a silo. Not a supernatural horror story, but the fear in the young boy going up the vertical ladder is very real and captured beautifully in this story. The following cruelty is one that can only be expected from children.

2) Lamb to the Slaughter - Roald Dahl - Who can resist the satirical imagination of this master of suspense? A woman kills her husband and finds an ingenious way of ridding herself of the evidence. Get your hands on a collection of Dahl's short stories as soon as you can!

3) The Shadow over Innsmouth - H.P. Lovecraft -The dealings of a young man in a strange and unsettling fisherman's village when he finds out more than he wishes to know about his family history. Told in Lovecraft's usual runny prose, it sucks you in deeper and deeper until the horrific conclusion. 
4) Charlie the purple giraffe was acting strangely - David D. Levine - The title alone is wonderful, but wait until you read the story. A cartoon giraffe becomes aware of his readers and upsets his fellow characters. Technically speaking maybe not a horror story, but with an outcome that gives you the creeps anyway.

5) Christmas Meeting - Rosemary Timperly - On a lonely Christmas evening a middle aged woman laments her lonely life when a strange visitor arrives. The carefully woven English language, the realistic dialogue and the punch line of this story still comes to mind years after reading this story. Read only on a cold winter night when home alone.

6) Possession on Completion - Collin Brooks - A young author moves into a brand new house with his brand new wife, only to find that the house's lack of character is why he can't write. All the pages of this story seem to lead up to its inevitable ending and when it does, the blood runs from your face and the sweat breaks on your back. A must-read for any author suffering from writers block.

7) The Black Cat - Edgar Allen Poe - Does this one really need an introduction? Poe's tortured anti-hero spiraling down a vortex of alcohol and violence still brings both horror and grief to anyone who reads this horrific story.

8) The Cocoon - John B.L. Goodwin - Being an avid collector of bugs when I was growing up I couldn't leave out this story of a young boy and his collection of butterflies. It's revenge, darkness, a little boys imagination and big bugs. What can go wrong?

9) Lucy Comes to Stay - Robert Bloch - What else can we expect from the writer of Psycho than a story on... schizophrenia! A horrific tale of a woman driven to madness and getting help from an unexpected source. The character of Lucy is welcome and horrible at the same time.

10) Sandmagic - Orson Scott Card - This dark fantasy tale reads like the synopsis of a novel. A young boy trains himself in the dark arts of magic to take his revenge on the soldiers who killed his parents. The events follow each other in such fast pace that it leaves you breathless between the first word and the last. A great tale filled with anger and unscrupulous revenge.

So the next time you see an anthology or stumble upon a short story written by a budding writer on the internet, take the time to read a few pages. You might be holding gold! In the meantime check out these links:

Small Evils

Short story - A small group of four boys thrown together by chance have to learn to live with each other. One fine winter afternoon their forced friendship is tested heavily and their strengths and weaknesses become apparent.
This was my submission to the Bridport Prize 2010. A uncharacteristic lapse from the horror genre, this story is more general fiction. Although, I think, even horror buffs might find something here.

November 24, 2010

How to make a quill pen!

Okay, okay, we've all heard of 'shoe' fetishes, ladies underwear and several really really weird ones which I won't mention here (there are other places for that on the Internet). But we've never before heard of a stationary fetish, have we? Nope. Still, when we stumbled across this little how-to article, we couldn't let this one pass us by. It shows you how to make a quill pen. The ones used in the 'olden days', by Marquis de Sade, Shakespeare, you name it! It even comes with a Youtube video showing you how it's done! Now all we need is some old burned parchment and we can make our own treasure map...

November 22, 2010

London Comedy Writers Writing Opportunities!

For all you struggling authors out there, the following link provides a huge amount of writing opportunities. Ranging from short story and poetry competitions to TV-networks looking for the next big sitcom script, it's all here. We would feed these to you via RSS, if only they had one. Sigh... 

November 18, 2010

The Pan Books of Horror Stories!

As a kid, I remember browsing through dusty little shops looking for these. And when I got my hands on one I hadn't read yet, I'd pay my two guilders or so and run on home to read as fast as I could! Now, this site is trying hard to get them back into print. They are wonderful little books combining the best literary horror has to offer. Brought together by Herbert van Thal, it brought us such masters as Robert Bloch, Bram Stoker, H.G. Wells, William Sansom and many more!

Let's support this endeavor to bring true horror back to print!

November 17, 2010

Sign the Petition! Bring classic horror movies back!

Remember those movies that frightened you as a kid, but you just couldn't look away? Well, here's petition that wants to bring classic horror movies back to the small screen. The Friday Night Fright special or the Saturday afternoon Creature Feature? Want to have those back? Then vote now! We already did!

November 15, 2010

A Boost for E-books...

What impact does self-publishing have on the publishing landscape and could authors really make a bundle writing and selling their own book? A short article tapping into this trend and touching on a rather awkward point for authors.

November 14, 2010

Bag of Bones... For Sale!

A nice pile of bones... For sale!

At Bonzrus they offer all sorts of skeletal knick-knacks, we're guessing for educational purposes since everything is life-like and life-sized. Still, it seems one smart marketing guy with a sense of macabre humor found a nice way of off-loading the left-overs. Pretty cool, though...

'Lloyd and the Bear'

Browsing around the web we found this little gem. It's the story of a boy and his bear - IN SPACE!
The story is about Lloyd and his bear who are captured and send off into space. As it turns out the bear is also an alien and together they have some wild adventures.

Not just a cool concept, but Gibson Grey manages to keep Lloyd cute while the bear kicks ass fighting all sorts of evil aliens. The drawings in the first issue are a bit crude, but it picks up from the second issue. Although currently working on the 4th issue, we hope there will be many more issues to follow.

Start reading right here:

Free stories to download!

Hello all,

Floating Robes has prepared a short list of free stories to download. Some include older works, others more recent. One of them, 'Small Evils', was my entry to the Bridport Prize 2010! Have a look and tell me what you think! You can get them here:
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