As the nights start to draw in, Autumn is the perfect time to sit and write halloween tales, especially when there are so many opportunities for horror writing right now. Here are just a few of them. Whether yours is a tale of killer clowns or a horror more subtle, good luck submitting.
The Master’s Review Micro Ghost Stories
What’s the beef? Ghost stories of 250 words or less. Fiction or Non Fiction (for those of you who believe in things that go bump in the night)
What’s the prize? One prize of $50. All other stories published on The Master’s Review blog on 28th October.
What’ll it cost me? Nothing at all.
Closing date: 19th October 2016
Check it out: Here Themastersreview.com
The Writer Darkest Hours Competition
What’s the beef? A short story using any definition, nuance or understanding of the word ‘dark.’ Max 2000 words.
What’s the prize? 1st prize: $1000 and publication in The Writer magazine. 2nd prize: $500 and publication on the website. 3rd prize: $250 and publication on the website.
What’ll it cost me? $25 per entry. (Discount available for multiple entries)
Closing date: 15th November 2016
Check it out: Here Thewritermag.com
Furious Gazelle Halloween Writing Competition
What’s the beef? Halloween themed writing – fiction, non-fiction or poetry Max 7000 words.
What’s the prize? All winning submissions published on their website. Best piece wins $50 and a book of your choice.
What’ll it cost me? Nothing. And you can enter up to 5 submissions.
Closing date: 26th October 2016
Check it out: Here Furiousgazelle.com
Storgy Halloween Short Story Competition
What’s the beef? Halloween horror stories up to 2000 words.
What’s the prize? 1st prize: £200, 2nd and 3rd prize: The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.
What’ll it cost me? £5 per entry and you’ll have to follow them on twitter @morestorgy
Closing date: 26th October 2016
Check it out: Here storgy.com
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King Rating 2/5 stars.
A lot of people are real snobs about Stephen King. I’ve never understood why. A good yarn is a good yarn no matter who it is by or what shelf it appears on in the book shop. This time, however, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
I remember reading The Shining for the first time and having to have long breaks in the sunshine, so affecting is the tension and nightmarish atmosphere of The Overlook Hotel. The infamous horror finale (yeah the famous part with the axe from Kubrick’s film) only takes up the final third of the novel. Until then the focus is on building up the tension and introducing the reader to characters that are simultaneously sympathetic and sinister: the emotionally sensitive child Dan Torrance (REDRUM!) and his creepy imaginary friend Tony; his father Jack trying to restrain his angry outbursts and thirst for alcohol. Stephen King has himself spoken on how Jack Torrance was reflection of himself and his own battle with alcoholism.
And here is the problem I have with Doctor Sleep: is it impossible to judge the sequel without always thinking of, always comparing with, the original story. King himself writes in the ‘Author’s Note’ at the end of the book:
I like to think I’m pretty good at what I do, but nothing can live up to the memory of a good scare…And people change. The man who wrote Doctor Sleep is very different from the well-meaning alcoholic who wrote The Shining…
Almost as though he knows no matter what he writes it cannot possible live up to the original.
WARNING: SOME MINOR SPOILERS!
So the book catches up with Dan Torrance as an adult some years after the end of The Shining. He (like his father) is a recovering alcoholic who helps the dying elderly pass over to the other side. He is also getting ‘the shine’ from a young girl called Abra, who needs a mentor to help her understand her place in the world. Much like Dick Hallorann did for Dan.
Problem is that Doctor Sleep has none of the subtle tension of the first book. Only 4 pages in, the lady from room 217 makes a cameo appearance, having somehow travelled from the burnt Overlook (where presumably all spirits were meant to have been destroyed) to pop by and say hello. After seeing a decaying corpse sitting on your loo, where can you possibly go after that?
Well, apparently its gonna go like that 1980’s film Near Dark. The main plot of Doctor Sleep involves a group of hippies in an RV called The True Knot, who gain strength and youth from murdering people who have the shine. Basically psychic vampires.
Of course, these vampires are super strong. Super smart. Super psychic. But guess what is their one weakness?
I kid you not.
There are other things I could write about here, where a large amount of suspension of disbelief is needed but this would mean this review would be riddled with spoilers. The ones I’ve mentioned do not really give too much away about the plot should you wish to read it for yourself.
So is there anything good? Well, I still read to the end which means it is somehow still compelling despite it’s lack of subtlety. It also tries to give insight into the psychology of an alcoholic and what really goes on in AA meetings.
I keep wondering if I were able to judge it as a standalone book rather than a sequel, if I would be more impressed but I think that depends on what you are looking for. If you want to be scared out of your wits, then this book isn’t going to do it. Likewise, if you want a cracking good yarn, then King has written better.
And if you really want a scary Stephen King story, reread The Shining instead! 😉