Win $1000 Grand Prize and $20 monthly in Extaordinaryreads.com short story competition

Extaordinaryreads Short Story Competition. Win $1000 and $20 per month

Entry Rules

  • Entries must be written in English.
  • Entries should be between 500 – 5000 words long.
  • Entries must be suitable for a family-friendly audience, so, they should not include excessive violence or graphically sexual content. If the piece is only suitable for adult eyes the work must include an over eighteen rating, and as such may be disqualified, based on the level of adult content.
  • Entries may be of any genre.
  • Winning entries will be selected by popularity. The story with the highest rating and number of votes, wins. If there is a tie the web mistress, Susan Hern, will choose the winner between the entrants.
  • All announced results must be considered final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Entrants must be older than thirteen.
  • There is no entry fee, but those entries, which include the code published in the website’s magazine ‘The Fresh Voice’, which is on sale at the links below for $0.99, will receive much higher prize payouts.
    Prizes are as follows
    1. First place, $800 if the entry is accompanied by the competition code to be found in The Fresh Voice Magazine(amazon or Smashwords $0.99 or get a free copy by signing up for extaordinaryreads’ newsletter http://www.extaordinaryreads.com/newsletter.php ), $100 if it is not.
    2. Second place $150 if accompanied by magazine code, $10 if it is not.
    3. Third place, $50 if accompanied by magazine code, one years magazine subscription if not
    4. Fourth, fifth and sixth places: entries will be published, along with the other winners, in an anthology. The entrants will receive 80% (after retailer’s commission) of all sales from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Goodreads, Scribd, iTunes and various other digital retail book platforms. The book will also be published in paper back, for distribution to the American market, by Create Space. The publishing contract will include, proofreading, editing, book formatting, cover art and advertising and distribution.
    5. All winners receive the publishing package described above.
    6. One winning story will be published in the magazine ‘The Fresh Voice’, monthly.
    7. The competition is open from the 29th of April 2014, and runs until, 29th of April 2015(or until at least 1000 entries have been received). Monthly, winners will also be selected by the voters, and those winners will receive a $20 Amazon book voucher monthly
    8. A list of winners will be published on Our Newsletter page and in the magazine ‘The Fresh Voice’, monthly.
  • Entries must be uploaded on site using the webform provided on the members page. Membership is free and always will be sign up here Register or Login
  • Entries are available for all to read and vote on, instantly after upload on site.
  • Entries may be viewed in highest-to-lowest popularity(based on ratings), or newest-to-oldest.
  • Entries must be accompanied by cover art (black and white is preferable ), the image must be 500 px wide by 700 px long, and will be reduced to this size if larger. Entries will be disqualified if not accompanied by a cover image which must include a pen name.(not the entrants real name)
  • Winners will be notified by email.
  • The magazine prize enhancement code may be added to entries at any time during the first month of publication, and does not have to be included on upload
  • Entries must be the original work of the author, and may not be available elsewhere in digital format, other than the author’s blog.
  • Staff, owners or affiliates of extaordinaryreads may enter the competition as examples of stories required but may not win any prizes despite their voter status (eg:-Nora Black)

Magazine Retail sites from 5th of May

Smashwords
Amazon

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Proofreading:- An Author’s Dilemma!

Despite each emerging author’s initial confidence in their ability to proofread and/ or edit their own work, there comes a time when the truth stares starkly back at them from their own pages, and it’s more than likely not the pretty sight they had envisaged.

As an author, you might be re-reading a paragraph down the line that you believed to be perfect and find it, literally, unreadable. If you are one of the lucky ones — to get the manuscript picked up by an agent or publisher–you will be fortunate enough to get your work polished by professional copy writers and editors. Nevertheless, the less presentable your book is, the less chance you will have of getting it through the tight doors of international publishing. It’s a catch twenty two situation, really, you need your book to be ‘discovered’ in order to benefit from professional services, but you are unlikely to get it ‘picked up’ unless you do a good job of imitating those services before you send it to the publishing fraternity. Furthermore, most authors do not have deep enough pockets before they hook-up with an agent or publisher to afford the top notch service providers of the literary world, many of whom charge by the word and will not guarantee a perfect product if engaged freelance–due, they say, to the nature of the craft.

So then what is the aspiring writer to do?

Here are a few tips and tricks each author could employ to improve their raw manuscript.

  • Let it Rest- Put the manuscript down, leave it untouched for a couple of days then re-read it, you will be surprised at the benefit a little distance can bring to the desk.
  • Involve your trusted family members and your pals-Get your family and friends to read the book. Even unprofessional eyes can pick up errors, especially editing problems, such as discrepancies in plot sequences and traits assigned to characters. A good example is one I can take from my own novel. I had an evening scene in which one of my characters were injured and rushed to hospital. In the following chapter, obviously still in the evening, I described the sunlight dappling interesting patterns on the doctors face as he spoke to my character’s wife. I had written the second scene after a weeks break(not really an excuse, but it happens to every author, believe me!), my mom picked up the discrepancy (thankfully!). You will find yourself beholden to their fresh perspective. Also, you might find their honesty really helpful, few care as much as those closest to you so don’t skip this opportunity.
  • Use a Spellchecker- This may seem obvious, but it can be time consuming and difficult to spell check a document as long as, say, 100 000 words. Check one chapter at a time, and be consistent about using American or British spelling.
  • Use online proofing software programs- Although these tools rarely point out typos they can be invaluable for picking up grammatical errors such as ‘Passive Voice’, double negatives, incorrect punctuation and holes in the overall standard of writing. Some discover words that are repeated too frequently, and some offer improved sentence structure for you to accept or reject as you wish. Once again checking an entire manuscript can be an onerous task, but if done in batch form the end result is certainly an improved product. Paper Rater is a good online proofreading service and it’s free.
  • Use your computer’s ‘text to speech’ program to listen to your book- This is simply the single most valuable thing you can do for your work. While listening, you will hear all the typos, typos that may be missed by even the most trained professional eye. It will also give you clues on improving your word flow, sentence structure and punctuation. I cannot stress the value of any tool more. You will be amazed at the number of errors you will hear, and the manner in which it will improve your work.
  • Ask any professionals in the field to help you- Don’t be shy, if you still have contact will an ex-teacher or lecturer, ask for help! You might find yourself surprised by their encouragement and their respect at the fact that you actually completed a novel!

Hopefully these few pointers will assist. Good luck!

Kibin Editing Service

Today, I uploaded a one thousand word document to the Kibin online editing service. This is a very good idea. Any author may simply prepare a document and then, in one easy step, send it over the Net to a qualified accessor for proofing. I was impressed with the turn around time –12 hours, and the detailed report issued by the service. If you need to have absolute confidence in your writing for professional reasons; then, this service might just be the ideal thing for you. Kibin.com, offers a quote based on three different time frames for you to choose between, the longer you wait the cheaper the service. All in all, a useful and easy to use tool!

Book Review Bloom by Martin Kee.

Bloom
By Martin Kee.

Bloom, or Scribblers disease is introduced as a horror fungus, a sprouting phenomena that is bound to keep you awake at night; however, it evolves into something far more complex and calculating–a measure of a wonderfully productive imagination. Bloom is the future, it is all knowledge, science and life. The story opens with two young characters; the male character’s function is to protect and love the female, the female must protect and love the world. This is an adult fairy tale, a gem, a marvel. It is Alice in Wonderland, The Hulk, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix all rolled into one. Rarely if ever have I enjoyed or become so completely enmeshed in a book.
The reader is transported into a dystopia world on the brink of extinction. Allison Rosling and the charmingly named, Tennyson Middlebrook, are childhood friends whose devotion to each other is the stuff of legend. They populate the pages of the novel’s past, present and future. Allison cannot bear anything to feel pain, she is special and Tennyson must struggle to keep abreast. The story unfolds intelligently on more than one level at all times. We are pulled along by the parallel tale of Lil’it the fairy. But, this fairy is of a type you’ve never even begun to imagine; she is beautiful, tiny and brilliant, however, she is also poison itself. Her adventures are a delight to read, they are also spectacularly woven into the Allison-Tennyson backstory that traverses a myriad of millennia–you will find yourself flinging pages aside in your need to discover the outcome of their strange symbiosis. The book is exciting, unique and beautifully written. To imagine how this wonderfully original fantasy escaped major publishing interest is only a sad sign of the times.

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Bleeding Shame By Nora Black:- Excerpt.

PART 1.

A TASTE OF BLOOD.

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

― Woody Allen.

“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.”

― William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

1.

Stacey..

*

She remembered that it was very cold and very wet on that day; the rain beating a resounding tattoo against the fragile glass windows of her house. She knew that she would have been far more afraid of the downpour than she was, if circumstance had been different. The brass knocker on the front door was sturdy and beautifully wrought, it was also substantial enough to drown out the sound of the weather with its ominous clang.

From her corner of the hall, quiet, secret, and still, she saw him. Big and burly he was, clad head to toe in black, with shiny brass buttons singularly out of place along the front of his jacket. His face, although pasty white, was highlighted by two rosy cherub-like globes on his cheeks. He had a booming voice, and of all the unbelievably nasty things that were that week, he was the worst.

She watched as he circled Cook Janie, she saw Janie stare transfixed at the toes of her shoes as he questioned her. She knew, by instinct alone, that Janie would tell the truth, to the best of her ability anyway…

Questions echoed around the great rooms, and the constable seemed to swell with each new one, as if the facts, as abhorrent as they were, were somehow of his own making, without ever being his fault. His measure took the weight of it and multiplied it into a case for his own self-importance. It made much of him, and little of her. You would think people would be kind when they came to announce a death to a child, he treated her as if she were the culprit.

Thoughts of that dreadful day were a cloud across her mind, a mind that was swiftly drifting away from the world in a rank anonymous motel room splattered wall-to-wall, in blood.

*

2..

Frankie..

*

The cliché, ‘hair like spun gold’, was simply the best way to describe the shiny coil of blonde nestled between her shoulder and her neck. Sunlight peeking through the shutters glinted on the strands, reflecting sharp metallic shards back at me.

Perhaps it was the sheer beauty, so unsettling, so out of place. Perhaps the cliché, which had popped into my mind unbidden, so apt in its provocative truth. Whatever it was, the scene stabbed a chill into my veins.

I have dealt with death so very often in my life, most of it violent, most of it ugly that familiarity has made me immune. This blood-soaked corpse with its perfectly preserved vibrant young locks cleaved cleanly through my toughened hide.

The motel, known to cater to the call girl industry, was comprised of a series of independent rondavels, with perfunctory patios separated from the en suite bedrooms by aluminum framed glass sliders. They overlooked an almost bald path of grass behind each room ahead. There were about a hundred individual structures making up the whole, each with an attached carport, which made them private–which I guessed was the point. There was a central reception-cum-entertainment area, with the usual selection of restaurants, bars and sports facilities offered by motels in the price range. The room, itself, was expensive but shamefully dirty. Laminated mahogany surfaces littered with the dregs of last night’s party–empty wine bottles, beer cans and cigarette packs–looked forlorn and sad. Lots of strewn, rumpled cellophane, which sparkled incongruously in the reflected light like garish tinsel advertising a good time. Despite their price tag, the rooms were dark, cramped and unimaginatively decorated. Not a space anyone would willingly choose to spend their last moments in.

The girl was probably in her late twenties, but the vulnerable angle of her neck above her naked form made her seem younger. She had been securely fastened using, of all things, white cable-ties. A dark red gash at the base of her throat, partly hidden by the fall of her hair, looked to be the cause of death, but then again–although in the face of murder it is impossible not to speculate–I have learned never to judge the ingenuity of killers, nor the workings of their twisted minds. On my mental checklist, I added a tick next to getting someone to interview the service staff. Experience had taught me that hospitality employees were usually reticent to a fault, but one simply never knew, persistence might have a payoff.

“Try not to contaminate this set-up, guys, I would hate the perp to walk on a technicality.” I was talking to the room in general, nevertheless, I knew I had been heard.

A tap on my shoulder gave me an excuse to tear my eyes away from the girl and give my attention to Andy, one of my ‘fiber and spec’ guys.
“Weird one, Frank, guy’s all but given us his address. This place is like a forensic gold mine;” he held out a woman’s handbag for me to get a look at what he meant, “see… girl’s ID, driver’s license everything… Hanging outta here. Why would he leave this behind, do you think?” I nodded my head at him, then gave the place a more studied look. Andy was right there were even clear footprints outlined on the blood-streaked carpet.

“Fingerprints too, Frank. He made no attempt to clean up really sloppy, or just plain crazy.” Andy was muttering more to himself now than to me, shrugging his shoulders, after dropping the bag into an evidence pouch. The oddness of the scene should have piqued my sense of judgment immediately, but I didn’t have my customary distance to use as a mood detector that day, the room was way too structured…. Even calculated, but I didn’t visualize purpose in it.

Andy and his team quickly dispensed with final mop-up. Remarkable, I thought, how they always managed to wipe out every trace of most crimes in a few hours. They had scrubbed and scraped. The room looked spotless, but try as I might I was unable to eliminate the broken image of the girl, or the thickness of the congealing blood that had filled the space only a heart-beat ago.

“We’re off to Nick’s after,” Andy threw a friendly arm over my shoulder, “why don’t you tag along?” I could no longer disengage myself from the scene unnoticed.

“Thanks, sounds good.” Rather than going home to my empty apartment I had been lassoed into a boys’ after party, never the right gift for any participant’s liver.

Out on the highway I rolled down my Jetta’s window to get a current of fresh air into my nostrils. Death has a stink to it. A stink that tends to cling to anyone who has been close. It mingles into your hair, puts an invisible stain on your clothes. Clean air helps, it’s not capable of dispensing with the reek entirely, but at least it makes you feel better.

I checked my rear-view mirror before switching lanes. A heaviness behind my gray-blue eyes – already sweeping into dark circles of fatigue under them – alerted me to the fact that this girl, so defenseless in her nudity, her senseless vicious death, had already begun to reel me in. The answer was always amongst the labyrinth of objects at the scene, it’s a truth, a fact of crime. A killer never leaves the root of the deed without polluting it with something personal. The frustrating thing is that it’s almost impossible, without hindsight, to identify that something. When the body had been finally removed, a scrap of note paper, with what looked like scientific jargon had been fished out from under it. The script was barely distinguishable, having been in a position of much friction with the writhing skin above it, but I had my hopes.

Nick’s establishment was located across the road from our offices; a drinking hole, would probably suit as a description to anyone coming across it without having experience of Nick’s special brand of personal attention, and great food (a surprise in any bar). The brick entrance-way, next to its grassy parkade, smelt like home.
“How’s the wife and ‘wickeds’?” Nick, the bartender, asked once I was seated in front of him. He prided himself on knowing tidbits about all of his regulars, and since our department tended to spend more time in his establishment than in our own offices, it wasn’t surprising that he knew a little about most of us, as well as any interesting gossip attached.

“All good.” I loved my kids, or ‘wickeds’ as Nick liked to call them. I had been separated from my wife, Marissa, for a few years, but we hadn’t actually managed to get divorced yet. My life, or rather the department’s demands, interfered with normal existence. Marissa hated living under siege, as she called it, during my investigations. I also suspected that she couldn’t take the fear anymore–never knowing if I would come home at all, let alone in one piece. She had known I was committed to being a cop when she married me, and in the early years she hadn’t minded it much, but after the girls were born, Shiloh first, then Natasha, everything changed.

I was constantly on call – she called that ‘detachment from family’.
I drank tequila to relax – she called that ‘alcoholism’.
The list of my offenses was indeed long, and she had that list pinned to her heart.

I’d moved into my own apartment four years ago. It was meant to be a temporary arrangement until I could find something better. Time had simply washed over my intentions, caving into procrastination, and carrying my plans away on its relentless tide. Psychologically, I knew, I would never be able to truly make a space of my own seem comfortable without my family, but that’s simply the way it crumbles.

Andy slipped into the chair next to me,

“So, what are your thoughts, Frank?”

“We’ll have to wait and see. I hate the cable-ties, the cigarette ends, pity she had to have those as her last memory.”

I meant it to be non-committal, but Andy’s shock would have been comic, if his features hadn’t worn such a tragic look.

“What, am I not allowed to view the victim in a personal way?” I snarled, the day’s stress cutting into my voice. I felt lousy,

“Sorry, Andy, that wasn’t …..”

“Forget it, Frank, I know, believe me, I know…” He stemmed the flow of my sentiment with a weary sigh.

After that, except for the background music, and the sounds of people jostling for liquor, we simply drank…. a lot, in silence. Eventually the sky through the bar’s windows turned from royal to pitch, the day’s melancholy; a weighty thing, grim with the swirl of fate it wanted to cloak us in, while sending us into the midst of its confusion.

*

3..

Seth.

*

Our offices were in the upper section above the Rosebank Police Station. Homicide Special Operations–emblazoned in gold lettering on our door–was the only nod the department offered by way of status. The room was functional, and held a few more techie gadgets than others in the building. The layout was open plan; each cubicle joined to its neighbor by a low padded, fabric covered screen. The interior designer could not possibly have been a cheerful personality, since the coloring was a mismatch of clashing dingy greens and grays. However, huge windows drew in the sunlight and the sounds of the sidewalks below, real old-fashioned ‘vensters’ as they would be called in the local dialect. It was refreshing to work under the glare of natural, rather than neon, light.

My desk, with its paraphernalia of loose-leaf files, and various linked and unlinked laptops was the tidiest thing about me. Generally, despite my job, and the fact that I think I have a logical mind, I’m not a very orderly guy. Clean, yes, neat, not at all. I pulled over one of my favorite computers, and was about to begin my report when Seth, my partner, jutted his blade of a nose over my screen,

“Hey, Frank… fuck, you look somewhat bedraggled. Any party I should have known about?” I grinned, despite myself.

“Not unless you can call a visit to Nick’s a party, no.”

“Ah, so you have been gallivanting without me. I’m crushed, how will I ever be able to trust you again?” I laughed at that, and when I looked up he was making his way around the divider into my section. He was always full of rancor and spunk. Our relationship had grown from being thrown together in a way only cops could ever understand. The proximity created by crime on its minions invents a unique type of peer identity, as close as a sibling, with the type of heightened trust only necessity brings to the party.

“Been looking into your latest, Frankie,” he added without ceremony.

“You’re fast, you are,” I countered, my mood swinging back into sobriety,

“Fingerprints on a glass, and on the handbag from the motel room,” Seth informed, setting himself at a jaunty angle on my desktop,

“This guy, Frank, obviously doesn’t watch TV, or read many novels. Her name was Stacey Cornish, seems like she worked for an escort agency based in Sandton, classy joint. Apparently the John left proof of payment in the bedside drawer; he paid by credit card. Case is weird, you know, Frank…. nasty weird.” He nodded his heavy jaw in the direction of the central computer terminal, then added, “I’m going to run his prints through, Pixie. See what it throws out.” (He used the nickname the office staff had christened me with–my daughters had modernized my hairdo with gel and highlights, I’d quite liked the effect, but my staff had never forgiven me).

I knew, instantly, that we were going to find our man, but there was something off about it, and the oddness was beginning to nag at the corners of my better judgment. However, when the prints matched a guy who had been nicked for possession and dealing, my fears disappeared, druggies often got lazy, or stupid (or both). Damon Harris, now aged thirty-four, had been hauled in on three occasions between the ages of nineteen and twenty-one.

Vices:
On the first count, possession of cocaine.
On the second, possession.
On the third, possession and dealing.

He had done a stint of a year, and been released on good behavior. I shook my head in amazement, once again, at how our system insisted on putting criminals back on the street, who would be re-arrested, time and again, for similar, or worse crimes.

“Seth, check the domicile on Harris. Take a few boys and go and see what our deviant is up to these days.” Seth looked enthusiastic about that.

“Sure thing, this boy looks like he hasn’t seen cuffs in a while, maybe we can remind him what they look like.”

Seth was, what you would call a ‘Ham’. He was a big redhead, with the proverbial temper that went with the hair. Although he was no Einstein, he could be relied upon to get the job done thoroughly, and usually with ‘that’ smidgen of insight that made a cop a detective, rather than merely a police officer. He was hard not to like (as long as you weren’t on the other side of his temper, that is). I would have liked to meet Mr. Harris, but both sides of the crime had to be tackled. So rather than tag along I found the correct number on my terminal, and phoned to make an appointment to interview Stacey’s boss.

A tinny sing-song voice answered, instructing me that I had been allocated to slot twenty-three in the throng of waiting callers. Business must, indeed, have been brisk at the agency, because I was kept on the line for at least fifteen minutes before the click of connection echoed.

“Satin and Lace, how may we be of service?” God, unbelievable. Sweet candied voice; dripping with sexual promise.

“Hi, my name is Detective Frank Harlow, I’m looking into the Stacey Cornish affair. I need to speak to the manager or owner of your agency.”

“Oh, police…” Silence.

“Yes, can you arrange an interview, or must I arrive unannounced?” Subtle pressure.

“No, sir, I mean detective, I’ll speak to Miss Forrester right away. If you’ll hold on, I’ll confirm, then be with you again in a bit.”

True to her word, it didn’t take long, I had an interview arranged for the next morning. I wanted to cover all the angles, get a feel for the environment the victim had inhabited.

*

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Ohh how I hate you significant other !!

Simply the worst catch phrase of immediacy is ‘Significant Other’, hells bells, what on earth does that mean? Quite honestly, apart from the saying- ” Back in the day”, it is the single most mis-aligned sentiment on the block.
What is wrong with partner, if we are too shy to say lover. These are the correct descriptions…, So why the shaded meaning, the clandestine approach? For heavens sake, say what you mean, and don’t be ashamed of it.
Lover
Boyfriend
Girlfriend
Husband
Wife
Partner.
Clean, fresh and a thousand times more emotive and real, No?

You are the best you, you can be

Did you invent something today, talk your way out of an unfavorable situation, or simple ride the traffic wave like nobody else before you? If you did I’m proud of you, I think you’re a rare flower, an orchid… Nevertheless, quite honestly, you do not need to be Leonardo De Vinci to be someone, if you hone the value of being truly you, you will achieve the ultimate, you will discover that being you is the very best you, you can be!