Thursday, October 10, 2013

PodCastle Flash Fiction Contest

I currently have a Flash Fiction story (500 words or less) in a contest over at the Escape Artists forums. This time it the PodCastle contest which means the theme is "Fantasy". My story has already survived the first round of voting and is now in the semi finals. The field has been narrowed from 121 stories down to 30. There are some great stories in this contest, and all are well worth reading.

The rules of the contest forbid me from revealing which story is mine, but I am allowed to point people who are interested in supporting either me, or the contest, to the forums with instructions on how to participate. From there I can only hope that my stories are the ones you end up voting for.

So, for those who like fantasy stories, and want to (hopefully) support my writing, here are some basic instructions:

First, go to From there you will see a place to login or register for the forums. You'll have to register in order to access the contest, but it's a simple registration, all they want is a username, email, and password. Once you've submitted your info, you'll receive a verification email. Follow the link in the email to complete your registration.

Once you're logged in, scroll down until you find the category "The Arcade". Beneath this category is a subcategory entitled, "Contests" with a child forum called, "Flash Contest III - PodCastle". Click on this link.

Before you can actually view the entries, you have to quickly prove that you are not a spambot, so click on the forum called, "New Members: Please post if you want to vote in the contest" and on the right hand side, click "Reply" and add a simple comment such as, "Hello"; anything just to enter a post. Once that's done you'll automatically be granted access to the contest groups, which will appear above the Contest Rules group.

From there, read the entries and vote for your top three in each group. You're welcome to read all of the entries through the first ten groups, but the voting is already concluded on those. At the bottom of the list you'll find the "Semi-Final" rounds. My story is currently in one of those

Voting for the Semi-Final Rounds will probably close around October 21st, so if your going to participate, get going.

Thank you to everyone who chooses to participate in the contest and for your willingness to support me and my writing. I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I have. Have fun!

This is a Call

Of course I have to name this post after one of my favorite Foo Fighters songs. Our Ramble topic for this month is the Hero’s Journey; specifically, the first stage of the Hero’s Journey, "Departure", which is comprised of five steps;

1. The Call to Adventure
2. Refusal of the Call
3. Supernatural Aid
4. The Crossing of the First Threshold
5. The Belly of the Whale

For my part I will be discussing The Call to Adventure. To read more about the other four steps of this stage, see the other entries over at The Writers Ramble.

So, how exactly is one “called” to adventure? Is it a physical summoning that lures us out, such as a siren’s song, or perhaps the call of nature? Or is it more metaphysical, like a spiritual prompting or emotional drive?

Honestly, it can be any or all of these. The call to adventure is whatever draws us from our comfort zone and drives us to make a difference either in our own life or in the lives of those around us. In real life, it can be the desire to join the military and embark on worldwide experiences, or it can be a prompting from God to undertake a mission to spread His word. Perhaps it’s merely the desire to find love and hold on to it with both hands.

In fiction, it can be all of these and so much more. Like Wendy, following Peter Pan to Neverland in search of a “grand adventure”. Or Indiana Jones deciphering the clues that lead him to the Ark of the Covenant. Even Ray Kinsella’s urge to build a ballpark in the middle of a cornfield. These characters felt the call, and answered it willingly, even eagerly.

But sometimes our hero may be a little—or a lot—more resistant to the call. Luke Skywalker, Bilbo Baggins, Mrs. Frisby. These are the characters who find themselves drawn into the adventure whether they want to go or not. And oftentimes these are the heroes we relate to the most. Why? Because, like them, we are reluctant to seek adventure.

Think about it, if we truly sought to answer our own Call to Adventure, we would. We would join the military, backpack across Europe, rob a liquor store, or climb Mt. Everest. Yes, there are a lot of people who do these things, but there are even more of us who don’t. We’re content to sit at home and experience adventure vicariously through the lives of the characters we read about or watch on the screen. Yet we still dream about these things, these adventures. And we imagine that, if someone or something forced us into action, then we could be the hero.

So when Jack Ryan is sent out to help hunt the Red October, even though he’s just an analyst; or when Jen embarks to find the shard of the Dark Crystal even though he knows the Skeksis will try to kill him; or when Dotty joins the Rockford Peaches so that her kid sister will be allowed to play; we cheer them on. We understand their reluctance, we don’t want to leave the comfort of our homes either, but we also know, as they do, that they must go. And we love them for it. Why? Because they don’t answer the call for greed, or power, or excitement. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s that quiet nobility, and humility, that endears them so strongly to our hearts.

So the next time you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, take a long look at your characters. Find that nobility within them, and then send them out to save the world. Not because they want to; but because they have to.