Category Archives: competition

All the Birthdays – Lascaux flash competition

And coming in at Number One, it’s All the Birthdays by Moi! Ok, so it’s just that it’s the first up but admit it, you’d milk that Top Spot too wouldn’t you? Go and have a look – only 245-ish words so no time at all. And it’s a bit of a shocker. You’ll like that.

Escape Pod flash competition

Escape Pod (podcast)


The third EscapePod flash fiction competition opens to voting on September 20th. There are ninety-six SF stories (two of them mine, and no I can’t tell you!) all 750 words or under, competing in ten preliminary rounds. The first three of each go to the semi finals, and the top two from each of these, to the final.  Join EP forums (free) to vote, then stick around for some quality podcasts – three of which you might have chosen yourself! Obviously, it helps if you like science fiction so if you don’t, while the rest of us put our critic hats on, you get to do maths homework instead. Fair deal?


‘Five Shades for Greg’ Ether Books competition NOW!

Español: Composición del Reino Unido en el Fes...

Shameless bandwagoning, but then it’s a competition and I’m going as low as it’s possible to go! I don’t need to win, in fact I’m competing within the Ether stable for the WOTSA (the Worst Olympic Themed something or other I can’t recall). Frankly, I’d just like to avoid being the UK Eurovision entry with a download tally of nul points. So if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you could chalk up a couple of downloads for FREE and you don’t even have to read the blighter! You can get the iPhone/iPad app from Ether Books . The competition opens midday (UK time) August 4th and closes midday (UK time) Friday August 10th. If nothing else, you get a good excuse to download some badly written faux erotica, and that’s got to be worth a bit of bandwidth!

Up now: Ether Books App –>Authors–>Suzanne Conboy-Hill–>Five Shades for Greg. There, that was easy!

Got NOT-ted!

Chris Anderson is the curator of the TED (Tech...

Image via Wikipedia

Look at that, two watershed moments in one title! The first, the NOT, is a bit of news I’ve been sitting on for a couple of weeks now – an actual, whole, bona fide ( or in this case, more aptly perhaps, bony fido) *publication!! Ok, so another 79 people won the competition too but what good company my junior offering is in! Fancy a look at a real feast of bite-sized fiction? Get yourself over to Michael J Solender’s blog ‘NOT from here, are you?’ and download the e-chap. The out-and-out winner was Sam Adamson whose story ‘The Pit of Hades’ is a beautifully crafted and neatly tailored piece of work which also contains the word NOT in capitals twice. Clever, that. I’d have over done it, if I’d thought of it at all, and it would have been a convoluted macrame of a tale. Good thing I left it in the capable hands of a fellow Brit, a northerner to boot, which combination allows me to glow shamelessly in (possibly) unwelcomed allegiance!

The second part, the TED, is an ambition that has been creeping up on me, tapping me on the shoulder and sneaking off again, for about a year now. Oh what wouldn’t I do to be invited to give a TED Talk! That’s my other life; the one with the research, the virtual worlds, the writing that makes a different kind of difference. What luck that I can take a shot at both and that whatever I learn from one, is likely to enhance the other. It doesn’t get much better, does it?

*’Rory’s Tie’

Hugo Nominee – are we suckered by techno-twaddle?

starsI like my sci-fi, really I do, and having been inducted at the age of eight into this genre, I am more than familiar with the essentials of pseudo-scientific terminology. Heck, I write it myself and I appreciate both the value and the pitfalls of inventing tech-speak to describe something that isn’t yet in existence.

For me, the best tech-speak conveys a sense of familiarity so that, on reading it, I have a feeling I know what this is even though that has to be impossible. The worst offers a stream of multi-hyphenated guff and tells me this is ‘normal’, as in ‘Kraark clicked into the usual teleo-spectro-binswanger protrusion and disappeared in a cloud of pre-insular tachyons‘. Come on, gimme a break!

Sadly, this sort of neologismical nightmare is often the product of minds that either are, or believe themselves to be, superior to the mundane equipment the rest of us possess. People who seem perfectly able to write a half way decent letter or report, go into paroxysms of verbiage when asked to write for entertainment. I know, I’ve done it (give or take the superior mind bit). Fancy footwork that packs in vocabulaic (see what I mean?) excess and delights the author, showy sentences that have so little redundancy of language that you need a scalpel to dissect out the meaning, and purple paragraphs that lilt, roll, undulate, and titillate with the lightness of gossamer made of fine steel, and – where exactly is the verb here? Subject or object anyone?

Well, I’ve done quite a lot of work on myself to expunge this kind of self indulgence and write so that the writing itself is not the message. I’ve learned about ‘show, not tell’, although not always to best effect when it comes to the practical, and I’ve pretty much got my clever-cleverness under control most of the time. I’ve let it off the leash a bit in this post for the purposes of illustration (so just imagine what I can do if I really mean it!) and because I believe I’ve been out garbaged by a Hugo Award nominee.

Yes. Up for a major prize. That sort of Hugo Award nominee.

Admittedly this was an audio podcast and so keeping track was more difficult as the presentation has its own pace and narrator delivery style. But even so, it was, to me, a turgid, self important, blind-em-with-science agglutination of made-up verbiage that lectured and postured its way to a blindingly obvious conclusion. But it got some good reviews, people who liked the style, people who thought it was smart and intricate. And it’s up for an award.

So what do I make of this? Emporer’s New Clothes or am I missing something maybe? I think not. I think the people who liked it have the same apparent need to show superiority as the author (this man claims to have a PhD in cognitive sciences and linguistics and to be a university academic) so their appreciation is based on a kind of intellectual snobbery. Some years ago, a one-off study showed that academics at a conference rated most highly a deliberately incomprehensible lecture, thereby illustrating what we all know to be true – no-one likes to be thought an idiot. I suspect the same may be true in this situation, pseudo-scientific twaddle being accepted on the basis of the apparent credentials of the author and rated accordingly.

So, where do I go from here then? Clever-clever comes easy, been doing it for years, and since I’ve also got a PhD handy, I reckon I might be able to knot up enough punters to get myself a reasonable, if perpetually bemused, following. But that’s not what it’s about is it? Since getting to grips with my florid and verbally dense passages, making a conscious effort at dialogue, and at least nodding towards the ‘show’ imperative, I’ve been much more satisfied with my writing and happier with the product so I’ll not be going back other than in momentary lapses and happy indulgences such as today.

I won’t half be narked though if that undeconstructible, hyper-formal, word-saladic, pomposificatory, faux techno baffle-babble wins!

Double or dilute?

voting papers, pic from MorgueFileChances, that is. Last week, after mercilessly punching out redundancy and pruning my tiny story down to the even tinier requisite of 500 words, I submitted the final product to an online competition. My first. Virgin territory. Exhausted, I crawled away to bandage psychic wounds (all those abandoned and unwanted words, left unloved by the literary roadside) and to sleep off the emotional ravages of exposing my soul to public judging. Well ok, bit of dramatic licence there but you know where I’m coming from, right?

Anyway, two days later and an acknowledgment appears. Yes, they received it, yes, the word count is right, and would I like to submit another as the flash category is allowed two? Well it’s an attractive option and, although the deadline is a bit tight, there might be something in my ‘remnants’ drawer that could be shaped up for the purpose. I take a look at ‘Warehouse’ – only a few words over, ideal!

But hang on a minute, does submitting two stories double my chances or halve them? There’s only one winner so only one of them could nab the prize (wishful thinking there in full flight). One of them might get all the votes and be the outright winner (more fantasy here, but in the interests of a mathematical model, as you’ll begin to see), but which one? More likely, if people are attracted to my style (the submissions are anonymised), some might vote for Tale One and others for Tale Two, thereby allowing a third story (not mine) with less than my total vote to sneak in ahead. Hm. It’s the old problem of divided competition; if you want to drive out some old duffer who’s held onto his seat on the council by three votes for the last century, you have to hope the desire to unseat him doesn’t lead to a raft of alternative candidates, each of whom will appeal to a minority of voters thereby ensuring he stays put. You hope for one strong candidate behind whom the populus will stand in order to make the necessary change.

So, on the principle of the divided vote, I have shelved ‘Warehouse’ (did you see what I did there?!) and put all the remaining eggs in my ‘If it ain’t broke..’ basket.

But oh lawdy, what if  ‘Warehouse’ would have been the one? This is where fantasy really does come into its own – of course ‘Warehouse’ would have been the one! I will sit and stroke it, hear it purr while I tell it how, given the chance, it would have knocked ‘em dead. Yes Precious, pretty Precious, what has it got in its pocketses, Precious…?

I should go get a cup of tea now.


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