Saturday, 5 September 2015

Festival of Drabbles 2015 - Drabble Competition

As part of the celebration of 100 word stories Festival of Drabbles 2015 I am hosting a competition to find the best drabble. There are two categories: Judged and People's Choice. The judged winner will be selected by myself and any guest judges and the People's Choice will be selected through a poll by the public.

Both winners will receive a £30 Amazon or PayPal prize and four voters will also be randomly selected to win £10 Amazon gift cards for participating. So there are prizes for both writers and readers in this competition!

There is no entry fee and entries should be submitted using the form below and please post in the comments that you have entered.

To enter you must indicate that you are attending the festival, you can join on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/375605662648575/

Or on Goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/event/show/970201-festival-of-drabbles-2015

Here are the rules for the competition:


  • You must be attending the Festival of Drabbles 2015 on Facebook or Goodreads
  • There is only one entry per person
  • Entries must be submitted before midday GMT 8th November 2015
  • Entry grants me a non-exclusive license to use the drabble as part pf the Festival of Drabbles on this and other blogs/sites
  • The submitted drabble must be exactly 100 words

You should submit your entry through the form below:

Monday, 31 August 2015

Guest Post - The Importance of a "Good" Bad Guy by Andy Peloquin

To celebrate the release of his new novel 'Blade of the Destroyer' Andy Peloquin has provided a guest post on the importance of a 'good' bad guy:

The Importance of a "Good" Bad Guy
by Andy Peloquin

How important is the villain in fiction? I'd almost venture to say that he/she is more important than the hero!

Think about the movies and books that have "made it big" over the years:


  • Harry Potter -- The only reason Harry Potter is important, is because he's going to defeat Voldermort. Without a Voldermort, he's just another kid learning to be a wizard.
  • Star Wars --  Why does Luke Skywalker matter? He's a Jedi who defeats not only the ultimate evil (the Emperor), but he shuts out the temptations of his father (a great villain) to join the Dark Side. 
  • The Avengers -- Every Marvel movie has been about defeating a villain. Which movie was the most successful of all time? The one with the awesome villain: Loki.
  • Game of Thrones -- The books/TV shows are riddled with characters that should/could be classified as "villains", and all the "heroes" die out early on.  

These are just a few examples, but they showcase the importance of a good villain.

The thing that makes a hero more "heroic" is the amount of villainy he has to face and overcome.
Think about Harry Potter if the primary villain of the book was Draco Malfoy. All he'd have to do is defeat House Slytherin in the Quidditch Cup, and he would have his victory. One book, and it's done!

Look at Star Wars. The only reason that any of the movies happened was because of the Emperor pulling the strings behind the scenes. Without his incredibly complex schemes, things would have been at peace, the Jedi would have multiplied, and the galaxy would have been very different.

But what TYPE of villain are you writing? Are you writing the clich├ęd "evil"--maniacal, bloodthirsty, and cruel for the sake of being cruel? Literature has progressed to the point that few people enjoy reading about this unrealistic character.

Now, people are much more savvy about the underlying psychology of what makes a villain or hero do the things they do. You can't just throw "evil" on a page and expect people to read it. In fact, that's going to get you laughed out of the room faster than writing a "buxom heroine" or a "blond, blue-eyed hero".

The best villains are the ones who have a "good" reason for doing what they're doing. Perhaps they were slighted by the city or country that they are now seeking to burn to the ground. Or maybe the king they're trying to kill did something to harm their family in the past. Better yet, they may be trying to do something perceived as "evil" because, in the long run, they have "good" intentions at heart.

That is what makes a villain memorable, and that's what makes them worth reading. How many truly maniacal people do you know? Not many. How many people do you know that will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals? Probably A LOT.

When writing your villains, keep this in mind: "There is no evil; there is only desire, and what you will do to achieve it."

Write your villains as real people who have real thoughts and feelings. Give them a reason to do what they're doing, and give them something that will help the reader identify with them. The best villains are the ones you can't help but love (look at Loki in the Avengers), and they are the ones that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Click on image to buy from Amazon
The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Haunted by lost memories, he is bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power but denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.
When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?

Click here to buy Blade of the Destroyer from Amazon

Sunday, 30 August 2015

August Short Fiction Contest Winners

"Watain 27 03 2014 08" by Vassil - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The winners of August's Short Fiction Contest have been chosen and as always it was a difficult task to pick just three stories from all of those selected. As you can see from the winning stories the satanic altar inspired a wider range of perspectives than you'd might expect.

Thank you to everyone who entered and also thanks to those who help spread the word about the monthly contest. And now for the winners:

 - First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to John Moralee for his story 'Appy Endings'
 - Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Diane Arnelle for her story 'Paulie's Mom'
 - Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Lee Hodgson for his story 'The Devil's Barber'

Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:

Appy Endings by John Moralee


Don’t blame me for what happened. Our start-up needed money to get it off the ground – but no banks were willing to invest in our idea. Our Kickstarter campaign had failed miserably. We were desperate for funding. That’s why we ended up summoning Satan.

Understand this. I had nothing to do with the satanic ritual. Eric found the book of demonology on eBay. He also made the altar and performed the first sacrifice, slicing off his own pinkie finger, the price of an initial consultation with Satan. Tom and I were just there in the room when Satan’s image appeared in our pentagram, looking like a slick lawyer in a sharp suit. He glared at us with a look that could literally kill – if we had not bound him inside the pentagram.

“WHO DARES CALL ME?”

Eric did the speaking for us. “I do, sir. My name’s Eric. That’s Tom and Jason. We’re business partners.”

“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, HUMANS?”

“Master, we need help with our start-up. We have a great idea for an app called DreamR  - but we don’t have the money to get it running.”

“TELL ME MORE.”

“We’ve created a piece of hardware that turns dreams into a digital format. That means dreams can be copied and delivered into another person’s mind via a wi-fi connected device. Each time someone borrows a dream from us, we intend to charge them a small transaction fee and pay the original dreamer a royalty. We believe it can be worth billions. All we need is the money to develop the technology and marketing.”

“I CAN PROVIDE EVERYTHING YOU NEED – BUT HOW WILL I BENEFIT? I HAVE NO NEED FOR MATERIAL WEALTH. I WANT HUMAN SOULS.”

Eric answered immediately, making me suspect he had already worked out his pitch long in advance. “We will use a subscription service, master. Users will have to sign up – so you can make giving away their souls part of the agreement.”

“NOBODY WOULD SELL THEIR SOUL FOR AN APP.”

“That little detail can be hidden in the terms and conditions, master. Nobody ever reads the small print.”

“VERY WELL. YOU HAVE A DEAL – BUT I DON’T LIKE THE NAME.”

“It can be changed,” Eric said.

“YOU MUST ALL SIGN A LEGAL CONTRACT. I WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH THE FUNDING, BUT I WILL TAKE YOUR SOULS IF YOU FAIL TO GET AT LEAST A BILLION SUBSCRIBERS IN TEN YEARS.”

“Sounds doable,” Eric said.

You know the rest. Our app was a huge success. Our subscribers all unknowingly gave away their souls to Satan while we became the richest people on Earth. Our app easily reached a billion users by the deadline. Over half the world’s population subscribed.

The rest wasn’t my fault. 

I didn’t know Satan was going to turn our users into an army of soulless monsters, bringing Armageddon to Earth.

Paulie's Mom by Diane Arnelle


Paulie's Mom studied the clothes, crusty dishes, and fast food wrappers covering the entire bedroom. She took a breath of sweaty sock odor and said, "Damn, seventeen and such a pig!"

She walked to the overflowing closet and started digging through game pieces, porn magazines, and sports equipment. Hitting the inside wall, she noticed the small dormer door ajar and lights flickering behind it.

She bent low, pushed the door open and saw Paulie, backlit by dozens of candles, pouring red liquid onto a large starlike drawing on the floor.

"That better not stain," Paulie's Mom shouted. "Now get a bucket and clean this mess up!"

"Ah Mom!"

"Now!"

As she watched Paulie leave the room the candles on a makeshift alter blew out with a gust of wind from nowhere. She sighed, and stepping onto the floor drawing said, "I'd give anything to have that boy listen to me!"

"Seriously?" A voice like a hailstorm on a tin roof said. "Anything?"

Paulie's Mom looked at the squat figure in the dim light. "Do I know you? You one of Paulie's stoner friends?"

"No," the figure said and relit the candles with a snap of the fingers, "But I think we can get to know each other… very well."

Paulie's Mom gasped as she took in the huge fangs, the purple hairy, naked body and the short horns on top of his head. "Oh," she gasped. "You're a… a,,,"

"I'm a demon and I can grant your every wish, in exchange for your soul of course."

"Every wish? Well, maybe… I mean… Paulie is a nightmare and his father was a womanizing bum. You could punish my husband, make him suffer?"

The demon smiled, "In ways you can't even imagine."

"Make Paulie finally realize that I'm right when I tell him to do something?"

"Every word from your lips will be like gospel to him."

Just then Paulie walked in, "Here's your bucket."

I want you to clean this mess."

"Ah Mom! Paulie whined then looked at the demon. "Whoa! It worked. "Like you're mine now, so like, kill my mom for me OK?"

"Actually I'm hers now."

She nodded, "OK, you said everything I tell him?"

"Like gospel."

"Paulie, you know I love you but I want you to take my place in hell, I don't think my demon, uh, what's your name?"

"You can't pronounce it."

"I'll call you Harvey then. Anyway, Harvey won't mind."

"Nope, a soul's a soul."

Paulie frowned, "No way!" but he suddenly was signing the contract that magically appeared before him. 

With a scream, he vanished.

"Will he be all right?" she asked. 

"Sure," the demon said. "We done now?"

"Well, I need another son, I want you to take Paulie's place, Harvey."

The demon scowled, "Well all right, a deal's a deal. By the way you cook meatloaf?"

"Only the best on Earth," Harvey's Mom said. "Now let's clean up this mess and go eat dinner."

The Devil's Barber by Lee Hodgson

Harry consulted the mouldy leather-bound tome, studying the ancient diagrams. His wire-frame spectacles glimmered in the muted crimson light.
 
He turned from the book, chalk in hand, and knelt down next to the large pentagram on the floor. Sweat beaded on his bare torso, and as he leaned forward a drop fell onto a dusty white line. Harry tutted and dragged the chalk over the spoiled section.

With a grunt of satisfaction, he stood and directed his attention back to the book lying open on the altar.

As he examined the volume, a noise from behind made him pause, finger poised over the page. He turned slowly. A tendril of smoke spiralled up from the chalk line his sweat had fouled. Flickering into flame, it quickly spread across the pentagram. He watched through the hazy air as the flames blazed high and the pentagram crumbled away, leaving a ragged hole smouldering in the floor.

Eyes wide, Harry stepped forward into the acrid smoke and peered into the hole.

A large slug-like demon was climbing towards him using incongruously short limbs, tongue lolling from a gaping maw framed with an incomplete set of splintered, rotting teeth. It dragged its bloated body from the fiery opening and squatted in a haze of sulphurous smoke, bloodshot eyes staring hungrily at Harry.

‘You must be … Gary,’ slurred the beast, tongue snagging on its teeth. ‘I’ve been ordered to give you three wishes.’ 

‘Harry,’ was all Harry could meekly articulate.

The demon scowled at him. ‘If you say so.’ 

Harry’s tongue felt thick in his mouth. ‘You’re a demon,’ he said, his mind in the same predicament as his tongue.

‘You’re a sharp one.’ The demon slumped forward onto its distended abdomen and undulated across the floor toward Harry.

‘I … I didn’t summon you,’ he stammered, backing into the altar. ‘I was casting a spell to make my hair grow.’ His hand went up to his shiny pink scalp. 

The beast stopped moving and squinted up at Harry’s head. ‘That comb-over is bordering on satanic. No wonder you were messing with the dark arts.’ It resumed its slither.

‘Y … you mentioned wishes?’ Faint hope stirred in Harry’s dark soul. ‘I wish for a full head of hair,’ he blurted.

The demon lurched upright, supporting itself on underdeveloped legs. It leered at Harry with a malevolent chuckle. It sounded like rocks being grated together.

‘Let’s see what I can do.’ 

Harry flinched as the creature raised a cruel serrated blade before his eyes.

‘Hold still.’

The demon leaned forward and slashed the blade across Harry’s bare chest. 

Harry screeched in shocked pain. ‘What about the wishes?’ he cried, hands clasping the wound as blood spurted between his fingers.

‘Wishes?’ The demon’s mottled brow knitted in confusion. ‘Oh no, I meant gashes. I always get those two confused.’ It drew back the blade and displayed its teeth once more. ‘Two to go.’

Friday, 28 August 2015

Festival of Drabbles 2015 - Calling All Bloggers and Website Owners


The Festival of Drabbles 2015 starts on November 9th and runs until November 15th to celebrate the art of drabbles. Drabbles are stories that are exactly 100 words long. If you've not joined the event yet then you can do so on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/375605662648575/

Or on Goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/event/show/970201-festival-of-drabbles-2015

The festival activities will take place on various blogs and websites and this is your opportunity to get involved. If you write a blog or a website and would like to take part then simply leave your details in the comments below and I will start compiling a calendar of events.

You should include your name, web address and which days you plan to host something on, if you know what it will be then include that as well!

Here's what my blog will have for that week:

Michael Brookes
thecultofme.blogspot.com
Monday 9th - My First Drabble
Tuesday 10th - Places to Find Drabbles
Wednesday 11th - Drabble Books
Thursday 12th - Drabbles of Art
Friday 13th - Drabble Writing Tips
Saturday 14th - Drabble Contest Winner
Sunday 15th - Peoples Choice Drabble Contest Winner

You don't have to host something every day - but you're more than welcome to if you want!

Don't worry if you want to host something but don't have any drabbles or anything related, just list your blog below and post that you'd like content to feature and I will look for suitable content for you. As we approach the festival I will be promoting the calendar of events and so you'll gain additional exposure for your blog or website.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Drabbles of the Gods - Badb

By Zeynel Cebeci (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

For this week's Drabble of the Gods we hop over the Irish Sea to meet Badb. I've taken part of the translated Second Battle of Motura as the basis of this drabble.

If you've not read the previous drabbles in the series then you will find them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/drabbles-of-gods.html

Badb

I am the crow of doom, the mist of war and the screams of the dying.

I shall not see a world that will be dear to me.

Summer without flowers,

Cows will be without milk,

Women without modesty,

Men without valour,

Captures without a king.

Woods without mast,

Sea without produce,

Wrong judgments of old men,

False precedents of law,

Every man a betrayer,

Every boy a reaver.

Son will enter his father's bed,

Father will enter his son's bed,

Everyone will be his brother's brother-in-law.

An evil time!

Son will deceive his father,

Daughter will deceive her mother.

My Books on Goodreads