Instead of participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I took part in Project REUTSway, a writing competition held by REUTS Publications. Each week during the month of November, participants were given a writing prompt for a 2,000 – 5,000 word short story. Four prompts were given over the course of the contest. Up to 30 stories will be picked for an anthology to be both digitally and print published. The anthology will be sold for charity, so this is for author credit only, but that would still be awesome.
Today the list of finalists was announced—and MY NAME WAS ON THE LIST!!!!! YAY!!!
While I don’t know yet if any of my stories (I submitted three) will end up in the anthology, runners-up will have one complete story appear on a REUTS blog series that they are starting in February. The winners will be announced January 31st.
The overall theme of the contest was Grimm and Classic Tales (Not for the Faint of Heart). We were to take a classic fairy tale (or other classic tale—there was a list of permissible stories) and rework it to fit the weekly prompt. The prompts were all in the horror genre, though we could also meld them with other genres. All stories had to fit into either the Young Adult or New Adult categories.
Each week several stories were picked for “Top Looks” and excerpts were featured on the REUTS Publications blog.
The first week, the challenge was “Bloody Ever After” and had to feature vampires, revenants, chupacabras, cannibals and/or bloodsuckers of some kind. As an additional challenge, the story could be in the point of view of a different character from the traditional fairy tale hero.
For the first story, I chose to rework The Little Mermaid as a vampire story and did it in the point of view of her sister. I liked the ideas I had for the story but think it was a bit ambitious for a short story. It may have worked better as a novella or full-length novel. Of the three I submitted, this is the one I have the least amount of confidence in. (I couldn’t even think of a title for it.)
The second week, the challenge was “The Ugly Dead” and had to feature zombies, mummies or ghosts. You could also choose an unconventional setting for the story as an additional challenge. I gave myself an extra challenge by writing it in present tense, which I’ve never done before. Not as easy as I thought!
I chose a re-working of Cinderella with zombies and set it in the American West. I really liked how this one came out and feel that it could be expanded into a full-length novel, which I may do if it’s not ultimately chosen for the anthology.
The third week, the challenge was Fairy Tales from Hell, and had to feature devils or fallen angels. I had a terrible time with this one, just didn’t feel it at all. I scoured every obscure fairy tale for inspiration and finally gave up.
The fourth week, the challenge was Shifty Stories, and had to feature Werewolves and other Were-Animals–Therianthropy of all kinds–Skin-Walkers, Shape Shifters, Selkies, etc.
This time I decided to really challenge myself by writing a science fiction story, something I have NEVER dared to do. I chose Little Red Riding Hood as the fairy tale. Instead of visiting Grandma in the woods, I had my Red Riding Hood visit her grandmother on a space station.
We had a little extra time to write this one as it was Thanksgiving week so I procrastinated a little (a LOT) and left most of it for the Friday after Thanksgiving. And—of course my computer started acting up. It took me most of the day to fix it. I was devastated!
I almost gave up on it, but because I hadn’t submitted anything the previous week, I forced myself to finish it and uploaded the story just in time. Then I started thinking over the weekend about everything that was wrong with it, and how could I have been SO stupid to think I could write in the sci-fi genre, and generally feeling totally depressed about it.
Just before I went to bed on Sunday, I checked the REUTS blog to see who made it into “Top Looks”—many of the people participating in the contest were becoming friendly via Twitter—and almost fell off my chair when I saw an excerpt from MY story!
You can see it here. The title is of the story is “Earlobe.”
I was even more tickled that they picked that particular scene, as it’s based on a childhood memory of an incident that actually happened while I was on an overnight trip during summer camp.
The editors stressed that making it into Top Looks did not guarantee a spot in the anthology (and not making it into Top Looks did not mean you weren’t in the running) but I’m guessing this story has the best chance of the three.
Even if none of them get in, I’m just excited and happy to have received some validation—it’s a nice feeling. What a great way to cap off the year!
Here’s hoping 2013 was good to you, and that you have many wonderful things to look forward to in 2014!