Posts Tagged: contest

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Greetings all! Today’s post comes to you in one part.

Part one: Anthology news.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the people who have agreed to take part. All twelve people who bought tickets. I’d also like to thank all the people who submitted stories. All five of you. Yes. We had five stories in total this year. And I must admit that I was one of those who didn’t submit, since issues with my Mphil thesis came up, and as usual, life and procrastination got in the way.

But even if we had six stories here, I think you can see the problem. An anthology of so few stories is not really something we could publish. Even if it was sold for a very low price on Amazon, it would seem somewhat redundant.

This, as you can imagine, put me in a quandary. I couldn’t simply cancel the anthology. That would be unfair to all the people who did submit, and it seems too much like a defeat to just pack up and go home. But my wife, being the kind, thoughtful, and helpful person she is, came up with a solution.

We will be merging the 2013 anthology with the 2014 one. A new prompt will be announced in January of 2014 and we will be making a more substantial anthology that we can put out there as something we can really sell to the world as a substantial body of work. If all goes well, we will be releasing that anthology in the middle of next year.

I’m pleased we came to this compromise and look forward to announcing our new direction next year.

See you all then!

Best Wishes, God Bless, and DFTBA

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Dear writers!

You really haven’t got long now! If you are wanting to participate in the DFTBA short story contest, you’ve got just over eight hours left to buy a ticket. Please remember, this isn’t hours to finish your story. You can still send in a story up until the 14th, but unless it comes with a ticket, it won’t be accepted. So please, buy your tickets now and when your story is finished, send the ticket and the story in by e-mail.

This is where you buy your tickets from.

Thank you! God Bless, Best Wishes and DFTBA!

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There is actually a term for NSA agents spying on love interests

If there isn’t a story in this…

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Dear all

This post comes to you in two parts, so lets get right to it!

Part one! Inspiration Waystation

So I am frustratingly aware of the fact that I have been really bad when it comes to updating the blog for inspiration waystation. There are plenty of good reasons for this, but the main one is just called “Life”. I’ve been super extra busy of late, for good reasons. I’ve had some job interviews and been sorting out samples to write for other jobs. It’s been crazy, and so I havn’t been as involved here as I would have liked to been.

But you don’t come on here to hear my life story. You come here to get inspired, and so that’s what I’m going to do. Here are six potential points of inspiration for your stories. But please don’t feel limited by them! If you’ve found something better, please, take it away!

Link One - Anti Secrecy Activists

What’s kind of fascinating and also terrifying about Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden is that they didn’t act out of a sense of nationalism, or in aid of a specific group or ideology, they acted because they thought that a government simply shouldn’t keep secrets. We know this in part because if Manning had been interested in simply revealing the US’s military wrongs, he would have been much more selective about what he gave to Wikileaks.

This is very much a 21st Century phenomenon. In the information age, people are beginning to take issue with the concept of privacy as a whole. So what does this issue mean? Can you imagine a story about such a thing? A story that delves into the discussion of the rights and wrongs of a government keeping secrets. Is someone a hero for simply letting out information? Even if that information doesn’t compromise anything? So why is it secret? What does the government have to hide?

For another source on this, here is a blog on the subject from the Federation of American Scientists project on Governmental secrecy.

Link Two - Women in Politics. Same old, same old?

There’s an old joke about the etymology of the word “Politics” which I’m sure many of you have heard. Poli - Means many, and tics- tiny blood sucking parasites. Corruption, scandal, abuse of power and people. These are often traits associated with politicians. The question is, is this a trait about power, or is it a trait of men being in power. The article I here link to discusses the question of whether women in power in general behave less dishonourably, and maybe that in general women get into politics for different reasons.

So here’s an idea for a story. What/How/Why would things be different about a corruption scandal involving a woman? Would anything be different? Do women fail in their morality for different reasons? Or are we all subject to the same power-plays? What is it about power that makes us do these things? Look at the article, and maybe some other places, and find out.

Link Three - A trip to the Martian lakes

If you’re watching Sci-Show regularly this may be moderately old news to you. Back in March of 2013, the Curiosity rover made a string of discoveries that confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Mars once had liquid water on its surface. In fact, it was liquid water that was good enough to drink!

My question then is, and the question I’d love to see someone try and tackle with a story is, what would have life been like when that lake had water? What if someone travelled back in time and went to see Mars in the days when it had water? Would they see life? Were there aliens on Mars in the past? What would that life be like? And if there was life, why aren’t they there now? And why is there no remnants of their civilisation at all? Or was Mars just empty? If so, what would someone travelling in time use it for.

Here’s Hank’s video on this.

Link Four - The platform of the future

Back in 1997 BP released the following advert for their petrol stations. The idea for cars is somewhat facial, although for planes it has sometimes been a necessity, but what if we could do this with trains, except rather than refuelling, we take passengers on and off. The idea of a moving platform for high speed trains to “dock” with to take passengers on and off, so that the more powerful trains wouldn’t waste energy stopping, allowing smaller ones to take up the slack. How would this change our understanding of how transport functioned? What would chasing a criminal on such a system look like? What if we applied this internationally?

And of course, the future of trains has been very much in the news this week with the discussion of the hyperloop. Elon Musk’s idea, if employed in Britain, would make it possible for you to travel from London to Birmingham in 8 minutes! That’s quicker than it takes me to drive from my house to my university! This is an insane game changer, and what’s more it can be powered entirely by solar (according to Musk’s schematics, but some engineers remain unconvinced). How would this change culture? I’m sure you can imagine a million different ways that a technology like this could change everything about what it means to live somewhere. Suddenly the people you regularly socialise with could be from much much further afield. You could live in Exeter, and have a girlfriend/boyfriend who lives in Abderdeen who you get to see much more than every weekend. But how much would using this transport cost? Would it create a class of people who traversed the entire country in a day, and others left technologically shackled to a much slower form of travel? And what affect would this have on relationships. What would it be like to know that people who you never thought you’d see again are less than an hour away from wherever you live. You can’t seriously tell me that such an idea isn’t ripe for story potential.

Link Five - Gender imbalance writ large

I have talked about this one before, but wanted to re-emphasise it because its something that is not going away, and is something we should all think about. For a variety of reasons, all of them bad, there is wide scale infanticide/sex selective abortions going on in India, China, and many other parts of the world right now. The upshot being, there will be a lot more men in these places than there are women in a few decades. What will that mean for those societies? What will it be like for a man living there? What will it be like for a woman? Will women being in higher demand put more social pressure on men who can’t find a partner? Will the abundance of men for women give them something to be happy about, or something they deeply resent? And what about people outside the hetro norm. How will the QUILTBAG communities in these places respond to these demographic shifts? What will this all mean? Settings like this, the future, look like science fiction, but just because a story is in the future and is speculative, doesn’t mean it is SF. So don’t think “I don’t write SF, I can’t write this”. Because the S in SF isn’t always science. Sometimes people prefer the word “Speculative fiction” as in “If the world was like X, what would it be like”…

Link Six - Digital Aristotle

This is an idea penned together by CGP Gray for this video, but others are working to turn it into reality. Things like project Halo and Wolfram Alpha are steps in this direction. But what would it really be like. There is lots of research out there on the effectiveness of video in learning, and how we can use new technologies to better our education system. So what would be working/learning in such a school be like? Would it make our citizenry more educated, and thus provide us with a better future? Or would it do something to our socialisation? Would it change people if they used interactive but non-interpersonal learning systems? What would our society look like in such a world?

Part Two - Disturbingly low take up.

Here’s a problem I’ve got. We have so far had very very few submissions for this year’s contest. I’m worried that if things don’t pick up soon, there may not be able to be an anthology for this year, and that would suck a lot. If this is about the prompt, if you’re confused or don’t know where to start, or you’re worried about making a mistake, let me just say not to worry. We here at the contest understand the prompt is more complex and so we’re very open to people asking about it. We’re also going to be very lenient in terms of acceptances. You would have to go very very far outside of the prompt before you got disqualified. If you’re feeling befuddled or baffled or bamboozled about any part of the contest, please ask. It would be a monumental shame if we didn’t get an anthology this year.

Thank you all, God Bless, Best Wishes, and DFTBA

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Here’s your first instalment. In these posts, we’re going to link to academic articles, non-fiction books, and research news to talk about the kinds of things you could be writing about in your story. So, lets make a start.


Ten Billion

These are two books with very similar titles (Dorling’s book does have a subtitle, so they’re not actually the same) and they explore a very big question. How will the planet handle a population of ten billion people. Because that’s how many there are expected to be by the end of the century. What will this mean for the environment? How will we feed ourselves? What will happen if everyone wants a car? These are all very pertinent questions that we really should be thinking about.

Now of course, these arn’t the only books out there on the topic, but even from a very brief thought process it should be clear to see that this kind of topic is ripe for story telling. What will society be like in a world where we have that many people? Will we see rationing? Will we see stricter government control? Or will we see anarchy? Will things just get out of control. Read up on the subject, from these books or any other verifiable sources, and find out!

Bluffing

It’s an important part of poker, business, sometimes relationships, and all the time its a great source for drama. But how do we know when people are doing it? Can we tell? And what does that mean for the way we function? What would life be like for someone who could always see through the bluster, or someone who never could? Or what about someone who can’t help but bolster up their own achievements and accomplishments. What would the research we presented here mean to the police, or to crime detection in general? All these ideas could make great stories! Look into them!

Where in the world are the Romanovs?

Do we actually know what happened at the end of Imperial rule in Russia? Did any of the Romanovs escape? Where did they go? How did they get there? What kind of lives might they have lead in hiding in the thick of the Russian Civil war, or even afterwards? What if they had children? Would they have kept their families imperial heritage secret? Stories of this subject are dramatic and numerous. Maybe you’d like to add your own to the collection…

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Dear all, today’s post comes to you in several parts. Let’s see how many as we go.


Part One: Another welcome!

We’ve been gradually picking up followers over the past few weeks, and we’re now up to 600! So welcome one and all! We’re really glad to have you and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the stories and ideas you guys are going to come up with! Welcome!

Part Two: An extension

Activity has been kind of slower this year than last. And that’s in part my fault since for the last few weeks, I haven’t really been updating. And I realise that lots of people have lots of things on, so its difficult to get things done. So to make things just that little bit easier, I’m making a slight extension to the deadline. Although the deadline to buy tickets will still be the same, the end of August, you’ll have another week on top of that to submit. So the final deadline for stories will be the 7th September. Which means…

Part Three: Countdown

This is how long you have got to submit your stories. To be clear, this isn’t how long you have to buy a ticket. All ticket sales will stop on 31st August. If you buy one on that day, you have an extra 7 days to send us your story. If you’re not exactly clear on how to buy a ticket and submit your story to us, see here for instructions.

Part Four: Inspiration

I know that lots of people are having problems with the prompt. I agree, it’s not an easy one, but I think that challenge breeds better writing. That said, I’m the admin of this contest and I would be neglecting my duties if I didn’t try to ease the burden on your end. So, starting today, and every day up until the contest ends, I will be publishing posts entitled “Inspiration Waystation” where I highlight to you pieces of research, innovation, development, etc from the last 13 years that it’d be a great idea for you to have a look at and see what you can do to base a story off of. That isn’t to say these are the only things you can use to get ideas, but every little helps, right! I’ll do my best to cover a broad range of subject matter, to give as many people as possible the kinds of story writing prompts they might want.

I hope this all helps, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!

God Bless, Best Wishes, and DFTBA!

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Greetings all!

Enclosed here is the second of our blog posts from the judges. Marcy Collier - A judge who took part in our debut contest, last year. A professional critic for the Western Pennsylvania branch of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators as well as being the editor of the Golden Penn newsletter (a blog she regularly contributes to can be found here and her twitter is here).

Applied 21st Century Research Creative Nonfiction - What?
by Marcy Collier

"The prompt for the DFTBA Short Story Contest for 2013 is to write a story about something that was proposed, researched, discovered, developed or invented in the last 13 years. Many of the contest applicants have found the prompt confusing. If you haven’t read a lot or any nonfiction lately, the theme is no doubt daunting. But let me ease your fears and give you a few suggestions.


Having a background in journalism, I find straight nonfiction easier to write and have sold these types of stories to magazines for the children’s market. My current work-in-progress is based off of a lady from a community near where I was raised who accomplished some pretty amazing things in the 1930s.


The possibilities for story topics are endless. Personally, I think the key is finding a subject that holds your interest. Many people don’t read nonfiction books because they associate factual books as boring stories. They think of those awful books their elementary school teachers made them read. But a great nonfiction book is far from boring. It can bring a story and real events to life.


When you read the newspaper today or watch the news, think, really think about the stories you’re hearing. I’ll bet you wouldn’t have been able to make up some of the things you hear.


Now, think about a subject that interests you. Use your favorite search engine to do a little research. What books come up on that particular subject? Go to your local library or bookstore or download a sample of a story that sparks your interest. Delve into many more subjects until you find that particular one which excites you. The best writing stems from a topic that you as the writer will get fired up about because your passion for the subject will show through to your readers.


Here are a few books that have moved me to read more on certain subjects. I write for children, so my picks are from the children’s market. 
We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson


(Book blurb as noted on amazon)


The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences. But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings - breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game. We Are the Ship is a tour de force for baseball lovers of all ages. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award 2009 – author award and illustrator honor; Winner of the Sibert Medal Home Page Award 2009.


You can find the link here

This book is absolutely amazing. As a kid, I grew up near where the Homestead Grays played baseball. Today, I look out the window of my office and can see the Homestead Grays bridge. Local history is fascinating to me. This book is beautifully written and illustrated depicting the heroes of the negro baseball leagues. I’ve read many books about the Homestead Grays and the story of their struggles of overcoming adversity to do what they loved most – play baseball. You could take any character from this book (players, managers or fans) and start asking yourself questions. Draw up a character sketch and a story outline. Relate their accomplishments to current ball players and the struggles they face. Think of the stories you could come up with!

Strong female protagonists fascinate me. When I take a step back and see how much women have done to progress equal rights over the last 100 years, their stories inspire me. This next book kept me up at night reading.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming


(Book blurb as noted on amazon)


From the acclaimed author of The Great and Only Barnum—as well as The Lincolns, Our Eleanor, and Ben Franklin’s Almanac—comes the thrilling story of America’s most celebrated flyer, Amelia Earhart.

In alternating chapters, Fleming deftly moves readers back and forth between Amelia’s life (from childhood up until her last flight) and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. With incredible photos, maps, and handwritten notes from Amelia herself—plus informative sidebars tackling everything from the history of flight to what Amelia liked to eat while flying (tomato soup)—this unique nonfiction title is tailor-made for middle graders.

Amelia Lost received four starred reviews and Best Book of the Year accolades from School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book Magazine, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.


You can find the link here

I’ve read many stories on female fliers. This narrative is both compelling and interesting with a lot of heart and soul. The accomplishments made by young fliers like Amelia Earhart and many women you’ve never read about are unbelievable. Most of these women died young. The breakthroughs they made for women in aviation in a boys’ only club were compelling and admirable. Consider taking a young aviatrix and placing her into a steampunk story or futuristic encounter. Let your imagination fly away!

The third book on my list is Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America by Jim Murphy.


(Book blurb as noted on amazon)


With his powerful and intriguing narrative style, Newbery Honor Book author Jim Murphy tells the harrowing story of the Blizzard of 1888. Available for the first time in paperback.

Snow began falling over New York City on March 12, 1888. All around town, people struggled along slippery streets and sidewalks — some seeking the warmth of their homes, some to get to work or to care for the less fortunate, and some to experience what they assumed would be the last little snowfall of one of the warmest winters on record. What no one realized was that in a very few hours, the wind and snow would bury the city in nearly 21 inches of snow and bring it to a ferocious standstill.


You can find the link here

I was fortunate enough to sit in on a five-on-five session last year with Jim Murphy at the Rutgers One-On-One Plus conference. He is as brilliant as he is nice. His books are fast-paced and the stories and characters he brings to life are both compelling and intriguing. I read this particular story during a snowstorm, which made it even more frightening. The what if scenarios are endless. Think of all the weather disasters we’ve had recently. You could take any number of these scenarios and write about what happened during or after the storm.

I hope that I’ve given you some things to consider when choosing your subject for the contest. Don’t allow the theme to scare you. Use it to launch real-life characters or events into an exciting story that only you could write. Let your mind carry you off into new and fascinating worlds. I can’t wait to read what you’ve written!”

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Greetings one and all,


I see that we have lots of new followers joining us recently! Welcome one and all. This post comes to you in two parts. Or perhaps, one and a half parts. I say that because the first part is something of an introduction to the second part and… okay lets get to it.

Part One: The Email

Recently, I sent a round-robin email to all our judges that asked them two questions.

1. What are your top three favourite creative non-fiction books that have been published in 2000 or after?
2. What kind of stories could you imagine using those books as a jumping off point?

And so here, in part two, is Aaron Simon’s response to these questions. To see more of Aaron’s work, click here.

Part Two: Aaron Simon

"Creative nonfiction’s not usually my thing.

Scratch that.

Nonfiction’s not usually not my thing.

We’re so inundated with the goings-on of real life - you might say we even live in it - that, man, at the end of the day, you just want to curl into the fetal position, grab a bottle of scotch, and either bawl yourself to sleep or read a book that’s not set on this planet.[1]

That said, I do occasionally venture out of the fiction bubble. I’ll pick up a book on Zen philosophy, or a human interest piece, or, if I’m feeling particularly daring, an incredibly dense - but enjoyable - book on the universe. Reb Trimmer asked for my top three of the 2000s so far, so here they are:

1. Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, & Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye. Long title, right? Well, around the time I was in my sophomore year of undergrad, I was really coming to the point where I knew that my religion up until then wasn’t for me. I knew that Islam and Christianity weren’t for me, either, so I did some poking around and found Soto Zen, then Zen in general. Now, I ain’t saying I’m a good practitioner of it, but I am saying that it makes a good amount of sense, and Brad Warner does a great job of chopping away at the ritual and ornamentation and showing what it is, based on Dogen’s work.

2. The Lost City of Z. It’s like an adventure novel, something you’d see by Arthur Conan Doyle - when he wasn’t writing about spiritualism or detectives - or H Rider Haggard. The catch is that it was written by a New York Times journalist, and tracks a Victorian explorer’s quest to find a long-mythologized lost city in the heart of the Amazon.

3. What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal. Laina Dawes writes about her experiences growing up as an adopted black woman in the heavy metal scene. The book talks to women like her from the metal and punk scenes, and discusses the genres’ pasts, present, and futures, and what those women have gone through. Obviously, it’s a human interest piece, and you have to be at least somewhat interested in the histories and scenes and cultures of the two genres to get anything out of it.

Second on Reb Trimmer’s to-do list was to to talk about what sorts of stories could be created from these.

Ultimately, I’m a believer in letting a writer stare at something long enough and - hopefully - she’ll come up with a story. However, I tell that to people, and follow up with “It works for me - most of the time,” and, judging from the amount of obscenities and rude gestures I get in return, that doesn’t quite work for other people.

So, personally speaking, I’d probably get the most traction out of The Lost City of Z. Something like a modern-day explorer going through the jungle to track down ruins spotted via thermal imaging, but runs into some really spooky shit. The exploration turns into a fight for survival as his party is hunted down by - something.

At the heart of the trouble, though, isn’t finding creative nonfiction, or journalism, or anything else. It’s making a story into a story. I mean, come on! There’s already a narrative - what else do you need?

Well, let me tell you what I think about real life: It’s boring. Dull. Yeah, even the exciting bits are pretty boring. Life can’t hold a candle to fiction when it comes to excitement. And why? Because there’s always another side. There’s always some logical reason for things to happen why they do, and, when there’s a logical reason, there’s consequences.

You don’t have to think about all of the stormtroopers who died in the first Death Star in the Yavin system, nor do you have to think about their families waiting for them after their tours of duty ended.

You don’t have to think about how severely screwed up the fact that a giant great white shark prowling the waters off a beach in Jaws is. (There’s no way there’s only going to be big sharks. There are going to be big everything. That shit don’t happen without other weird shit happening.)

And you know why? Because it’s fiction. It’s not real. We are free to place ourselves in a universe far, far away, where those dudes are supremely evil, and it, frankly, doesn’t matter what the consequences are. Or, we’re free to go “Yay! The big, mean shark is dead and the two guys lived!”

So, perhaps you should take a look at a piece of nonfiction that you really like and say, “How can I turn this into a rollicking good time? How can I turn this not into a narrative, but a rollercoaster ride?”

Will you run the risk of not being Literary because you’re not writing in a Realist mode? Will you not attain a position in the hallowed halls of academic literature because you’re not another Jonathan Franzen?

Probably. But, man, I hate to break it to you, but even the most melodramatic parts of your day-to-day life don’t always have some existential meaning. Sometimes stuff just happens.

Hell, some days go by when you’re not faced with an existential breakdown brought on by… I don’t know. What’s the buzz in the Times best-seller list these days?

Sometimes, you just have to have fun.”

[1] That’s not particularly true. Most of the time, it’s a high-gravity beer.

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Dear all


Just a short message to help people along with the prompt. It seems some people are still having some issues with it, so to grease the wheels a little, I thought I’d introduce a very slight extension. The definition of “21st Century Research” can now include creative non fiction books.

What do I mean by this? Well there’s lots of kinds of non fiction out there, from textbooks to guidebooks to cookbooks etc, but creative non fiction often engages with its subject matter in a fashion to make a particular point or to explore something in a way that perhaps you hadn’t previously considered.

So I’m quite happy for you to take your prompt from something you learned about through a creative work of non-fiction. Crucially though, this means no textbooks. To give you some things to work off, here are some great pieces of creative non-fiction that I love.

The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin

Immigrants - Your Country Needs Them! by Philippe Legrain

Mission to Mars by Buzz Aldrin

Moscow 1937 by Karl Schlögel

50 Facts That Should Change the World 2.0 by Jessica Williams

Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening by David Hendy

A True History Full of Romance: Mixed Marriages and Ethnic Identity in Dutch Art, News Media, and Popular Culture (1883-1955) by Marga Altena

A Woman Unafraid: The Achievements of Frances Perkins by Penny Colman

These are just a few. If you go to your local bookstore or library, you’ll find lots more. Maybe if you want to go down this route, find a biography of someone you are inspired by and write a fictionalised account of part of their life. Just remember, creative non fiction isn’t the same as general reference!

Thank you, God Bless, and DFTBA

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DFTBA 2012 anthology (2012) | Book reviews from Bullet Reviews

Last year’s anthology is reviewed by the good people of Bullet Reviews. See what they thought!

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Just a reminder, you’ve still got the opportunity to ask questions to our esteemed panel of judges. Given they’ll be looking over your stories very soon, I’m sure you’d like to know lots about them!

So go ahead! What do you want to know?

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Greetings fellow Tumblrers!

Today’s post comes to you in two parts, one of which I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and one that is only relevant today, so lets get to it.

Part One: Easter!

While I’m aware that not everyone is a Christian who follows this tumblr, that doesn’t mean I’d want to do anything other than wish any of you a very happy Easter time. I’d also just like to share a very small thought that I have about Easter every year. In many ways, it is the most important day in the Christian calendar. Although the exact day of it traces its routes to Paganism, the thing that’s being celebrated is so important. Without Jesus rising, Christians have no hope at all, and its a day that means so much to me, that I just wanted to share with you all the joy that I feel as a result of it (The Bible itself talks about Christianity without a resurection in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20). I don’t want any of you to feel like I’m preaching or anything. This is just me sharing my life and my feelings. If I have a message to share here, its that if you have Christian friends, and you want to know what it is that is so important to them, or if you just want to understand it better in general, I’d really encourage you to read just those eight verses I referenced earlier to see why people thing its so important. Even if you don’t believe, or your of a different belief, its always good to understand your neighbour better, especially on a day that’s so important to them. Whatever your faith, or lack thereof, I hope today is good for you. I hope I’ve not offended or upset anyone by talking about this. This is just me sharing me. Thank you for your time, and God Bless.

Part 2: Judges!

We’re coming to the end of our annual gathering of the judges, since we’ve already got quite a number, but if anyone else is interested, I will give you another two weeks to send me a message for my consideration. Email me at


DFTBA[DOT]Short{DOT}Story(DOT)Contest<AT>inbox[DOT]Com

Now I have some announcements to make regarding new judges, but before we get into that, here’s a reminder about the ones that have already been announced.


Becky Havens - A student from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, who’s getting her degree in English Writing with a minor in philosophy. You can find her tumblr here

Lies Lanckman - Whose name you may recognise as being credited on the last anthology as being the assistant editor, so she’s got a very keen eye for grammar. She’s a post graduate student from the University of Kent, looking into Gender Studies in 1930s film.

Marcy Collier - A judge who took part in our debut contest, last year. A professional critic for the Western Pennsylvania branch of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators as well as being the editor of the Golden Penn newsletter (a blog she regularly contributes to can be found here and her twitter is here).

Sanne Vliegenthart - often better known as the booktuber extraordinare BooksAndQuills! Guest contributor to LeakyNews and all round exceptional literary culture internet personality.

But now, we have three more names joining that list, two of which you may be familiar with, and one who might be new to you.

First off, we have the clever, discerning and always entertaining Aaron Simon and Errol Stephen Philip Flynn, both of the reviewing website “Bullet Reviews” who both worked on last year’s anthology and both have done amazing things in their own spheres also. They’ll be making a welcome return, giving the same kind of careful and insightful eye to the stories you send in that they give to the wide variety of books, films and games that grace their web portfolios.

Secondly, we have the wonderful, clever and above all intellectually engaging Stevie Finegan AKA SableCaught. Another excellent booktuber who has recently been taking part in an amazing discussion of the question of women on Youtube in the wake of the “becoming youtube” series’ take on the matter. She does excellent reviews of various books, which I’d definitely recommend you watch, and she’ll be bringing that thoughtfulness and consideration into her reading of your exciting and interesting stories come this September!

So as you can see, just as was the case last year, we’ve pulled together a quite spectacular list of minds and eyes to cast their thoughts over your stories. Hopefully, you’ll feel like rising to the challenge rather than running away in fear! So go out there, find some 21st century research to be inspired by, and come back with a great story!

God Bless, Best Wishes, and DFTBA!

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In response to the claim that there is not enough in the prompt for people who write fantasy or romance stories, here’s something to help those people out. 11 articles that you can access for free from Google Scholar, that deal with both these topics. I hope this allays your fears

Romance

More than myth: The developmental significance of romantic relationships during adolescence - WA Collins - Journal of research on adolescence, 2003

Adolescent obesity, overt and relational peer victimization, and romantic relationships - MJ Pearce, J Boergers, MJ Prinstein - Obesity Research, 2002

Psychosocial adjustment, school outcomes, and romantic relationships of adolescents with same‐sex parents - JL Wainright, ST Russell, CJ Patterson - Child development, 2004

Peacocks, Picasso, and Parental Investment: The Effects of Romantic
Motives on Creativity - Vladas Griskevicius, Robert B. Cialdini, and Douglas T. Kenrick Arizona State University 2006

Sex Differences in Mate Preferences Revisited: Do People Know What
They Initially Desire in a Romantic Partner? Paul W. Eastwick and Eli J. Finkel Northwestern University 2008

Forgiveness and romantic relationships in college: Can it heal the wounded heart? MS Rye, KI Pargament - Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2002


Identity Implications of Influence Goals: Initiating, Intensifying, and Ending Romantic Relationships A Kunkel, SR Wilson, JO Olufowote, S Robson - 2003


EFFECTS OF A DISSOLVED WORKPLACE ROMANCE AND RATER CHARACTERISTICS ON RESPONSES TO A SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACCUSATION - CA Pierce, H Aguinis, SKR Adams - Academy of Management Journal, 2000

Slashing the romance narrative - A Kustritz - The Journal of American Culture, 2003

Red, Rank, and Romance in Women Viewing Men - Journal of Experimental Psychology 2010

The Realness of Cybercheating Men’s and Women’s Representations of Unfaithful Internet Relationships - MT Whitty - Social Science Computer Review, 2005 

Fantasy

YOUNG SCHOLARS IN FIRST-YEAR WRITING ELVES AND EXTREMISM: THE USE OF FANTASY IN THE RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST MOVEMENT - S Baldo

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?”: Interpreting the Relationships of Propero, Ariel, and Caliban in The Tempest through the Mythology of Northern Europe K Cavanaugh - Shawangunk Review, 2001

The Irish Banshee and the Keen - N Sullivan - 2007

 

The Fetter, the Ring and the Oath: Binding Symbolism in Viking Mythology
R Enochs - 2004

 

Futurist Fiction & Fantasy: The Racial Establishment GE Rutledge - Callaloo, 2001

FROM FANTASY TO REALITY IN EPIC DUELS—ILIAD 22 AND AENEID 12. P Mountford - 2007

Zeus’ Missing Ears - FE Brenk 2007

Worlds of fantasy - C Kurkjian, N Livingston, T Young - The Reading Teacher, 2006

 

The Djinn - T Nathan 2005

Fear and Uncertainty: Local Perceptions of the Sorcerer and the State in an Indonesian Witch-hunt - N Herriman - Asian Journal of Social Sciences, 2006

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Greetings fellow Tumblrers

So as you may have seen, one or two people have been asking questions about the prompt, and whether it limits people and how exactly one is supposed to go about writing a story about this. I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the prompt in some more detail and deal with some people’s concerns. Specifically, what I’m going to do is to write about some potential ways you can use this prompt to write great stories. But before we do that, let’s get into what not to do.

I have said this before, but I will say it again. Avoid tangential inclusion of the theme. The theme isn’t just a background idea. The point is to use it as the centre of the story. The way you test for this is to imagine your story with the theme taken out. If it still works, and doesn’t compromise the fundamental essence of the story, you’ve made a mistake. The theme is meant to be central.

Having dealt with that though, let’s deal with some ways you can use the theme of “21st Century Research” to write some really awesome stories. The first way is perhaps the one I personally find most interesting, but its far from the only one here. I’m talking about extrapolation. This is something science fiction writers do all the time, but it doesn’t have to use the physical sciences to make it work. This is where you take a piece of research, or an invention or a recently discovered social trend etc and imagine “what would happen if this continued?” or “what if this went further”. You take the research, and extrapolate from there. Think of the Google Glasses example. You ask the question “what would the world be like if everyone had these” and then use that as a prompt for a story. Of course, writing a story about the entire world would be tricky, so you focus things for a bit. Maybe you say “what would detective work be like in a world with everyone wearing Google glasses” etc. Since there are thousands of technologies out there, not to mention all the other areas of research and development, the possibilities are endless.

And if you think that the non-physical sciences crowd aren’t getting a look in here, think again. Social research comes out all the time, in all shapes and sizes. For example, there is research that demonstrates that women are outperforming men in colleges and universities in many parts of the world. Maybe extrapolate what a world would look like after several years of this. Or what about the fact that society is ageing, and in a few years there will be more people over 65 than there will be under 25. There has been lots of research done into the consequences of this, maybe write a story set in a world like that. Or how about a world that employs a different voting model? There has been research into what might happen if the US for example, abandoned the electoral college for the presidency, and instead used a simple direct number of voters. Or what if new EU legislation meant that the European Parliamentary elections became more important. Extrapolate from there. Would the US get more divided? Would EU voting become more important? Would people relate to each other differently during elections? Its all there. There are lots of questions out there.

Even history isn’t excluded from this extrapolation style. This is where alternative history comes into play. Lets say you find some research that says that a particular historical figure may have been more/less important than we think. Or that a particular event had a greater impact than we thought. Using that information, extrapolate. How different would history be if that hadn’t happened. What would the world become? How would the modern world look?

But at the risk of getting carried away with these amazing ideas, always remember to bring it back down to earth. A good story has to involve good characters. A story can be set in worlds like the ones we’ve discussed, but the story still needs to be a story, with a clear beginning, middle, end, and above all, people. How does this world affect people? That’s what we’re probably wanting to know above all.

So that’s the extrapolation model, now let’s look at another one, the revelation model. One thing good research does is reveal to us things we didn’t know before, or tells us things we though we knew were actually false. So in this model, what you have is a story set in the kinds of worlds that the research actually describes. Instead of extrapolation, where you expand upon what we already know, in revelation you ground your story in what we do know. For example, there is lots of research out there on the War on Drugs, and how in fact the reality of the situation in South and Central America, where lots of the coca plants are being grown, is in fact very different to how most people imagine it. I bring up this example because I read a lot about it myself in a book called “Shooting Up” by Vanda Felbab-Brown, but there are lots of other sources out there on all kinds of topics. You could have a story about a piece of research that shows us what life was really like to live under the Shogunate in Japan for a woman, or what it was like for Monks on Iona to work and preserve the knowledge that they had gathered for so long. Revelatory stories reveal to us a world that did exist, but we didn’t know about. Find a piece of research and paint a story about what it tells us.

Finally, there is the research model itself. This one is a difficult one, because of these three it is the most limiting probably, but if done well it could be very interesting. This is the story where you actually write about people doing research into this topic and discovering what it is that the research you have found discovered. Or it could be about people actually inventing the device you are talking about. This is definitely the most defined field, but it’s also the most challenging. If you can write a story using the drama of research, all credit to you, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

I hope this post gives people some ideas about how to go about writing their stories. Just to be clear, these are not the only ways. You may be able to write a story that uses the theme centrally and doesn’t fall into any of these categories. If you manage that, well done! I look forward to reading your work, as do the judges. I really look forward to seeing what people come up with, and I hope this has been helpful.

God Bless, Best Wishes, and DFTBA.

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Greetings followers! Today’s post comes to you two parts, one much shorter than the other.

Part One: Comic Relief

This is just a very short signal boost for a charity event going on in my country right now. If you’re British, you probably know all about this, comic relief, the red noses, the comedians and other celebrities embarrassing themselves (I think in particular, Tumblr enjoyed David Tennant’s contribution earlier). To anyone who doesn’t know, and you don’t have an equivalent in your country, Wikipedia has a basic primer here. This is just a little message to say that what they are doing, while it might be responsible for a lot of bad television, is also responsible for some really great charity work, and if you have the resources to hand, please do support them. They have a paypal here. Thank you.

Another brief note here, if there are charity events going on in your country on a given day, and they have internet donation systems, send me an ask about it, and I will feature it here.

Now onto part two…

Part Two: Our new judge

Now you may remember that we’ve mentioned some of our judges in a few earlier posts. Here’s a reminder once more

Becky Havens - A student from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, who’s getting her degree in English Writing with a minor in philosophy. You can find her tumblr here

Lies Lanckman - Whose name you may recognise as being credited on the last anthology as being the assistant editor, so she’s got a very keen eye for grammar. She’s a post graduate student from the University of Kent, looking into Gender Studies in 1930s film.

Marcy Collier - A judge who took part in our debut contest, last year. A professional critic for the Western Pennsylvania branch of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators as well as being the editor of the Golden Penn newsletter (a blog she regularly contributes to can be found here and her twitter is here).

Well I’m pleased to announce, that we’ve got a new judge, and if you love books, and love YouTube, you may have seen/heard of her before. I am, of course, talking about…

Sanne Vliegenthart, often better known as BooksAndQuills!


She’s so very good at what she does, I’d almost say she needs no introduction, but that’s just not true. Not only is she a Guest contributer to LeakyNews, she also does amazing reviews of all kinds of books (from “Twilight” to “A Hologram for the King”, via, “Coraline”, “Three Men in a Boat”, and “Scott Pilgrim” to choose just a few) she thoughtfully considers the subjects of literature, writing, and the kinds of experiences that surround those things, whether you’re studying it or just engaging with it because you love it. I’d really thoroughly recommend you go check out her Youtube, Twitter, Tumblr,, Pinterest and of course GoodReads if your not already (which, given her 31,000+ subscribers, you quite possibly are).

 

It’s really great to have people like Becky, Lies, Marcy, and Sanne who are so passionate about books being involved in this! Thank you all so much!

BUT

We are not finished! If there are any nerdfightastic people out there who feel they have the experience/ability to be a judge for our amazing contest this year, please do email us at


DFTBA[DOT]Short{DOT}Story(DOT)Contest<AT>inbox[DOT]Com

Thank you all in advance

God Bless, Best Wishes, and DFTBA