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Hello There All My Lovelies, 

We want your stories again!

That's right, it's time for another SIA short story contest. We want to read your best short stories. This time it's a magical time of the year. We're looking for funny stories featuring a theme of “That’s not how cookies are made!”. The wonderful CB Archer suggested this theme, and I personally love it.

Your short story MUST INCLUDE the following: “That’s not how cookies are made!” Failure to include this sentence of dialogue will result in your story being disqualified.

The conditions for your submission are simple. 

  1. Entries may be emailed to us at siamoderators@gmail.com. Please indicate “SIA’s Cookie Comedy Short Stories Contest” in the Headline. Entries must include your name, a title, as well as a word count.

  2. Submissions MUST BE received NO LATER than December 22nd. And the winner will be announced on December 26th!

  3. You may submit as many entries as you wish. Double or triple your chances!

  4. Your story cannot be shorter than 1000 words and cannot be longer than 2000 words. Any stories not fitting these length requirements will be disqualified.

  5. Excessive elements of gore, sexuality & violence will cause your story to be disqualified. Aim for a PG-13 rating for your story’s content.

  6. Any stories promoting racism, sexism, misogyny or violence against marginalized groups will be disqualified.

The other MODS and I look forward to reading them! Keep being awesome and #SupportIndieAuthors!

PRIZES

1 winner will be chosen if we have less than 50 submissions. 5 winners will be chosen if we have over 50 submissions, and 10 winners will be chosen if we have over 100 submissions. So tell your friends!

 
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Scary Short Story

Contest Winners

Whatever You Do Don’t Turn Around Theme

(in no particular order)


Spider, Spider

by Bea Cannon

Interview with Author

1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

Over the years, I've had orb weavers build their webs across my front door and my porch. We usually just move them since they're pretty harmless, but one morning my daughter tangled with one on her way to work and after screaming a bit because she thought it was in her hair, she turned the hose on it. At the time, I wrote a one hundred word drabble about the incident ("Once upon a Spider" - no sentient spiders in it!). Though much less benign, the short story, "Spider, Spider" kind of developed from that. 

2) What made you decide to enter this “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest?

I entered the contest because I like to write, and I like to do a short story every now and then.

3) Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I don't think I really have a "favorite" author. I like science fiction, fantasy, and horror, so my favorite stories are in those genres. I've read and enjoyed books by Octavia Butler, Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey, Dean Koontz, Isaac Asimov, Jim Butler, Zenna Henderson, Rachel Caine, Ray Bradbury, Piers Anthony, to name just a few. Lately, I've been picking up books written by indy authors.

4) What is your favourite book you read this year and why?

My favorite book I've read this year would be "Rise of the Discordant" by Christina McMullen. 

I like fantasy and this is pretty much a paranormal fantasy (with just a tinge of horror thrown in). It is well written with good characterization, has a good plot, a touch of humor, is irreverent, but most of all, it entertained me. I read the entire five-book box set.

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

The only thing I can think to say to anyone about writing is: if you have a story to tell, tell it. If you find that you love writing, keep doing it.


Premonition

by Kayla Krantz

Interview with Author

1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

The inspiration for my story came from the little ‘what if’ in your mind that you get when you walk home alone or when you get a bad feeling in the pit of your gut that makes you change whatever it is you were about to do. Those “gut” instincts have always fascinated me with the wonder of how and why we come across those feelings.

2) What made you decide to enter this “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest?

I entered the contest because I loved the theme and thought it could easily blend supernatural elements with psychological. I like to put my characters in situations that they can’t explain and this contest offered the perfect situation.

3) Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

My top three favorite authors are Stephen King, Lynn Weingarten, and Gillian Flynn because I absolutely adore psychological thrillers. Books that keep me on the edge of my seat are the best kind because they’re the easiest to get lost inside.

4) What is your favourite book you read this year and why?

I loved Caroline Kepnes’ “You.” As a writer of psychological thrillers, I thought this book about a modern stalker was quirky and well-written because Joe, the main character, is so well fleshed out that the book is absolutely captivating because you know you should hate him, but you also just can’t bring yourself to do so.

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

Never give up, and most importantly, never writer for anyone but yourself. There will be times when you feel discouraged and you might think about quitting or writing to fill a predetermined niche, but don’t do it. Write because it makes you happy, and there will be plenty of reward to reap.


The Black Queen

by Olga Werby

Interview with Author

1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

The Black Queen was about trying to understand minds that are different from our own. Humans are so good at anthropomorphizing everything we encounter. We look at an electrical plug with three holes and see a face. We watch a dog’s face after discovering a a half-eaten chicken on the floor of the kitchen and see remorse, guilt, and need for forgiveness. I watch our tortoise move purposely towards a shoe closet, and I try to attribute needs and desires for her actions. Of course, my tortoise has needs and desires — I strongly believe in expansive emotional lives of animals — but those needs and desires are alien to me. I can only see a reflection of what I feel, not the true feeling. The further away a particular intelligence is from us, the more incomprehensible it is. It is one of the reasons we in the Western World have such a hard time relating to people with different cognitive capabilities — autism, schizophrenia, babies even are all too alien to us to truly understand and relate. The problem is that we rarely recognize our own inability to cope with such differences. If or when at some future date we encounter an actual alien civilization, we have to remember our shortcomings or we might get into serious trouble. So I wanted to make the Black Queen unfathomable and alien, and all those coming in contact with her reacting to their own “reflections” rather than the reality of her. I think such deep inability to understand intelligences other than our own is very scary… terrifying, even. True horror is not knowing why...

2) What made you decide to enter this “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest?

I saw the “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest posted on Facebook. I liked the short fiction format — the challenge to say something meaningful in as few words as possible. I wanted to write a story that was not only scary but disturbing…  I am very happy I participated!

3) Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I have many favorites. That’s partly because as I age I change; as I live through different experiences in my own life, what appeals to me evolves. But also because I like some authors for the charm in their writing (“Gentleman In Moscow” by Amor Towles), others for the shear scope of research that went into their stories (Neal Stephenson), yet some for the ideas (Orson Scott Card), others because they managed to do the impossible feat of getting their work where I can find it and fall in love with it (Hugh Howey), some because they made me cry and feel cleansed (“The Nightingale” by Kristen Hannah), and of course some for the turn of phrase (Oscar Wilde, of course!), and more for the things I’ve learned at the end (Robert Sapolsky and Oliver Sacks — Dr. Sacks is a jewel). For each author, each story, there is a time. The right book at the right time is a true joy.

4) What is your favourite book you read this year and why?

I’ve never read Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series. So 2018 is the year I will get through most of those books. I can’t wait to get to the last several books in the series because they were co-writen by Brandon Sanderson, whom I love (and read everything he had ever written). I find that I learn a lot about how to structure a complex story by reading authors who do that well. Brandon Sanderson is a great teacher as well as writer. He learned his craft from Robert Jordan, and I’m learning from both of them. By reading, I get to glimpse the structure and engineering of writing fiction. I’m also enjoying the story — it’s a good escape from reality, at the moment. And for that, I’m grateful. Stories take us away from our real lives and give us a chance to vacation in other universes.

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

Good writing takes time. You can’t became a good writer until you have written several books — it’s a catch twenty two. Writing for an audience is also very different than writing for oneself. It’s a solitary performance art — oxymoron, I know. And there is a need to please the audience as much as there is a need to satisfy oneself. So the best advice is to write. Write as much as you can. And with time, you’ll get better. Don’t get discouraged — while a spark of talent helps, it really is all about hard work. Good writers are the ones that write. It’s as simple as that. 


Remember!

by Colin Anders Brodd

Interview with Author

1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

Well, the primary inspiration for "Remember!" was a story called "The House of Ecstasy" by Ralph Milne Farley from the April 1938 issue of Weird Tales. It was a rare 2nd person narrative. I began to wonder if I could write one. So it was a personal challenge to myself to write a plausibly 2nd person story in my Norse fantasy setting of Midhgardhur (which did not have the advantage of hypnosis, which was the key to Farley's 2nd person story - sort of "This happened to you, but you don't remember, because you've been hypnotized." So I got the inspiration to have something that affected the mind and memory of my 2nd person protagonist (you) in a medieval fantasy world . . . 

2) What made you decide to enter this “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest?

I saw the contest advertised on Goodreads, and I thought, "Oh, I've got a scary story! Just about everyone who had read "Remember!" was creeped out by it. It isn't literally about not turning around, but I thought it fit that theme pretty well figuratively - the protagonist (you) can't remember what's wrong, you try to retrace your steps, but doing that only makes your situation worse . . . and it ends up being kind of circular, ending where it began (sort of), because you got turned around. 

3) Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I'm a classicist by training, so a lot of my favorite authors are actually ancient Greeks and Romans. But in terms of contemporary-ish writers, a lot of my favorites are old pulp and sword-and-sorcery writers and the early fantasy authors they inspired (H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and Jack Vance come to mind, followed by J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula K. LeGuin. More recently, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, Pierce Brown, and Scott Lynch. These are some of the visionary fantasy and speculative fiction artists I most enjoy reading both to entertain myself and to learn about the craft of writing.

4) What is your favourite book you read this year and why?

I think my favorite book this year has been The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. It weaves her own story with elements from Slavic mythology and folktale, which is what I try to do with my own work using Norse mythology and folktale. I read it months ago, but I'm still in awe and keep coming back to it. Piece Brown's sci-fi Iron Gold is probably a close second. 

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

My number one piece of advice to aspiring authors is always this: READ.  You can't write if you don't read. Read everything, Read for inspiration. Read research. Read other kinds of stories to see other ways of telling a story. Just read. I saw it put this way recently - reading is inhaling, writing is exhaling, but it's all part of breathing, or at least, what it means to be a living, breathing writer. 


Reflection

by Phil Farina

Interview with Author

1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

I write novels dealing with the supernatural. My works are usually in the 80,000 word category, so I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could develop a full story in less than 2,500 words. I saw this as a literary challenge. I have always been fascinated with Halloween and the lore that goes with it. So the challenge to write a short story with a supernatural bent was right  up my alley!

Back in history Samhain, the end of the harvest, was a time when darkness prevailed. The lore and superstitions mark this time as a period when the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest. It was once thought that a mirror was a portal to the dead. So what if it were true?  I wanted to write something using this  theme.  Hence the concept of using Halloween as the precept for allowing a demon to come through a mirror was born.  

2) What made you decide to enter this “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Around” contest?

I love to write. I love to tell a story. I love the supernatural, so we had the trifecta! I saw it as an opportunity to determine if I was any good as a short story writer. I do have 3 novels published, so that is one thing, but a short story, well that’s much more difficult. I began writing this story, as I do will everything I write, with no concept of beginning, middle or end. The story has to write itself, I am only the medium to get the word on the page. I am often as surprised as my readers as to where the story goes. With Reflections, I became part of the story myself, so it was an easy task to complete.

 3) Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I like Dean Koontz the best. His supernatural stories have the air of “possible”  rather than having to completely have a “willing suspension of disbelief” to allow the story not to be nonsense. Dean does not require this to the extent of  say Stephen King, whose stories are much further beyond reality. By the way I love Stephen’s books as well!

I also like the Ann Rice Vampire stories. Again they are truly “possible” in that nothing really happens that is outside the concept of  “under certain conditions” that may actually be true. She also writes in a fluid style that brings the reader into the story. I think for a reader to enjoy the story, they must become part of the story.

In my novels I use this concept of “possible” story lines. I also bring the reader into the story by using the first person voice, much like Ann did in Interview with a Vampire. I think it is more interesting for the reader to read “from the inside” rather than from “the outside”

 4) What is your favorite book you read this year and why?

That’s a tough one. With a full time job and a writing career I really don’t have much time for reading. I would say that the novel I enjoyed the most this year was Origin by Michael Crichton. I went to Thailand on vacation and read this book in one sitting on the plane on the way over. It was fascinating in every regard. I felt I was part of the book right there along with the lead characters trying to solve the mystery. Everything in the book, was possible even probable. How we are giving over our society to AI and the possible effect it may have on the human condition is fascinating… and frightening.

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

Writing must come from deep within. Write as if you are talking to someone. Write from what you know. Let the story come alive, be a part of the story and bring your readers into the story with you. If you are writing a fact based story, please check your facts from multiple sources. Nothing will kill this type of story faster that inaccurate facts. If you are writing fiction, sprinkle in some facts. I wrote a story about GRAVESEND Brooklyn. It was completely fictional but I spread facts about people places and events throughout so that people actually checked the facts and began to believe the story was true.

Make it fun, if writing a story line is a chore, kill it. You will not be happy and if you are not happy the reader will be miserable. Most of all, enjoy what you are doing. A good story will write itself. Let the characters come alive. Let them be real, have their own voice and they will reward you with a great novel.


Honorable Mentions

Until Death Do Us Part by Karen Cogan
Just as Lost by Patrick Brennan
Vampire's Delight by Caroline Peckham 
Little Monster by Allan Walsh
The Summoning by Charlotte Zang and Alex Knudsen


Can't wait for the next Support Indie Authors short story contest? 

Sometimes our brains need a break from whatever drawn out task we're been working on for what seems like ages. Whether it's work related, your current work in progress, or even a never-ending home repair project, spending too much time on one frustrating and teeth grinding activity can wear our brain down. 

Nothing feels more refreshing than taking a break to complete an out of the ordinary, fun, and brain building exercise. Writing flash fiction is an excellent way to restart your brain (since we can't technically turn it off and then back on again) and gain fresh perspective on whatever is bogging you down. 

So hop on over to DoctorShortS and submit some flash fiction! Maybe it's just the thing you need.