Was the Night Before Christmas…. well, maybe the month before.
All was right with the world and all we had to do now was to relax and wait for Christmas Day.
‘Screw that,’ screamed Chris Jones from stage left…
Judging by the title of this piece, you would be forgiven if you thought I was referring to this Judge Dredd.
Anyone who has seen the movies (2012 being my preference because I love the concept of a contained dystopian story inside a tower block, and a psycho female drug baron as the antagonist) will know that Dredd is the law, and it’s his way or… die.
How does this relate to judging stories for the Twisted Ghosts of Christmas and Santa’s Bedtime Book of Adventure Stories anthologies? Were the team dreadful to work with because they were all using Slo-Mo in order to cope with reading hundreds of submissions super fast? Were the editor and producer laying down the law like Dredd would?
I have written literally hundreds of short pieces, to a one-day deadline, to a prompt. The prospect of getting a story done in ten days held no horrors for me. At the beginning of lock down
I joined a group of writers who did the daily tasks for 70 days in a row, completing over 13,300 words in the process, each! I didn’t stop there and have continued this every day since 24th March
What’s another short story in the mix? Easy, right?
However, writing horror is not something I’ve tried very often, and the main concern I had was whether I could write something horrific enough to be considered for inclusion in the Twisted anthology. My entry for Twisted 50 Vol 1 was rejected. Could I up my game and make it this time?
Time was never my friend.
Any kind of deadline... it usually didn't end well.
Four, five month deadlines for anthologies and I crashed and burned.
But there would be no dishonour in failing to meet a 10 day deadline. Because that's obviously impossible, anyhow, right? So I opened up TextEdit—because unlike Word that meant I wasn't really serious, clearly, was just jotting down random thoughts—and before I knew it had close on 800 words.
Pasted it into Word and thought: this looks like a story... what did I just do???
Classic Horror fans may recall a moment in Bram Stoker's DRACULA, when Van Helsing lops off vampire Lucy's head, CUTS TO him slicing a bloody joint of roast beef on a tavern table. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, it's one of the best ever moments in movie horror that explores aspects of flesh – raw or cooked, ripped or shredded, bloody or drained. As sentient flesh ourselves, naturally we're sensitive to these kinds of connections.
Don't Look Now
You'll have your own motives for reading or writing Horror. Universally shared reasons include awareness of our own fragile mortality, and ultimately, fear that we might have to confront the predator. We are hard-wired to weigh the odds of our survival. Also, we're fascinated. We don't want to look, but we can't resist. This is how Stephen King draws us in. Often, he shows us what a character sees before we (through the character's eyes) understand it.
The submissions for the Twisted: Ghosts of Christmas initiative were sooooo good, we decided to include even more authors work!
So drum roll please for the authors we just added to the book…
As ever, debate among the judges was heated, but we finally arrived at a list!
Please do leave a comment on this post, and if you are not on the list, keep going, it’s an insane job to judge art. We may also sneak some bonus stories into the eBook too!
I will be in touch soon about when to buy copies of the book so that we can co-ordinate getting on the Amazon Best Seller list.
OK.. the tension mounts… So drum roll please… The successful writers and stories are…
Last night at midnight, we closed submissions with just shy of 100 short stories being submitted to Twisted: Ghosts
We have a deadline of the 12th December to have the final draft up and online, so things are 24/7 here!
Our team of experienced readers and writers have been reading everything as it comes in so as to get the jump on the deadline, so we hit our publishing date of December 16th.
Every story will be read by four people before the team choose the stories for the book. Elinor Perry-Smith is heading this up, as she also did Twisted 2 and had decades of experience helping writers.
In the process of prepping Twisted50: Ghosts of Christmas, I discovered that Evil Little Sister, the wicked sibling book to Twisted50 had become unpublished.
So I decided to do a new cover and slightly change the title too. It’s now called ‘Evil Little Sister’ and is part of the Twisted50 series, which Amazon now does. It should be live in the coming days and I will email everyone when it does.
In the meantime, here’s the new artwork. I hope you enjoy it as much I enjoyed making it!
And if you want to enter Twisted50: Ghosts of Christmas, you can do that HERE.
Can you write a short Twisted tale in 1,000 words or less? The fifty best stories will be published in both paperback and online.
We all love a good Christmas ghost story or horror movie. If Hammer House of Horror, Tales of the Unexpected and Pans Books of Horror set your pulse racing and mind spinning as a youngster, then writing a short story, set at Christmas, offers the darkest recesses of your mind, a deliciously macabre feast in which to express itself.
You know you shouldn’t let it out, but you know you want to.
Interested…? Let’s dig a little deeper into this paranormal, wicked and dank shallow grave…
Get involved HERE.
I just found out that Richie Brown, one of our writers from Create50, has sadly died.
Richie was a prolific writer for Create50 and a huge supporter, both publically, and behind the scenes.
A handful of writers really committed to elevating the whole Twisted50 experience for everyone, and Richie was one of them. During the most important months of the project, Richie would email me almost daily with updates, data and information as he tracked in staggering detail, the success of the project. He would also dive into commenting online when commenting became negative.
Writing is something that I have been doing pretty much from age 15. I write horror because darkness is addictive, I still remember checking for monsters under my bed as a child and seeing shadows where there were none.
I have written many horror short stories, getting better all the time, until a good friend recommended Create 50 as a platform for my writing and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Being part of Create 50 and especially the Twisted 50 community, was life changing. Having not only two of my stories shortlisted for Twisted 50 Vol. 2, but actually making it into the book with one of them, The Anniversary, gave me the confidence to believe I could be a horror writer.
2018 seems a long time ago now, but I remember it ended on a high. Sure I’d seen the pictures of the red carpet events put on by Create50 but I never thought I’d attend one. Then I saw my name on the shortlist for The Singularity. Then I found out that my story, Hive Mind, had made the final fifty. So I bought tickets to the double-launch party at the Cinema Museum in London, where I was overwhelmed by the sinister brilliance of the evening—the hazmat suits, the blood, the live exorcism—and the multitude of fantastic writers in attendance. Then I saw my name on the big screen.
Somehow, Hive Mind had won ‘best story’ in the competition.
After that, it was all a bit of a blur. I vaguely recall being on the stage with a microphone in my hand. I remember thinking, this must be a mistake. But it wasn’t. Moments like this are magical and rare. Having spent a fair bit of my writing career not winning things, I know how disheartening it can be, so any time someone connects with one of my stories, it’s an overwhelming experience.
It seems fitting, writing this post, that my FACEBOOK notifications should have spit out a year-old post reminding me that it has been just under 12 months since the TWISTED50 launch party and awards ceremony at the Cinema Museum in London. The reminder was for a change of profile cover picture to the Twisted50 Vol 2 Logo to celebrate winning a place alongside 49 other fantastic writers in that very volume of Twisted Tales produced through the CREATE50 initiative.
CREATE50 is scheme that allows writers, filmmakers and other creatives to develop projects, share in the creative process, give feedback and support each other to produce content. Obviously there had been a TWISTED 50 Volume 1 but there is also a 50 Kisses film and The Impact 50 project which is collecting 50 short films to depict the end of the world. You can find out more about the initiative and these projects on the CREATE50 website.
A far cry from one short story in a horror anthology, I’ve written a novel. It’s called The Quest For Perfection (Is A Damn Fine Thing) and you can order it from Amazon . It’s a mystery-thriller with some horror mixed in for good measure. I like to describe it as ‘if Stephen King or Michael Crichton wrote an episode of Desperate Housewives or Lost’. Before I get into the novel though, let’s rewind a bit!
It was late 2016. I was sitting at my desk in work, trying my best not to watch the clock. Then the e-mail came through from – Twisted 50 was officially a best-seller and had taken the Number 1 spot from the master of horror Stephen King. I couldn’t believe it – it was a phenomenal bookend to an amazing year I had experienced as a writer, and specifically with the Twisted 50 journey.
Imagine a twelve-year-old girl exiled to deepest, dankest Manchester, unknowingly about to be presented to endless relatives offering tinned salmon and peaches, existing instead on blackcurrant jam sandwiches...
Then imagine her in that foreign land, staying in a tiny bedroom, which was crammed full of books packed with the most wonderful things; especially a large compendium of horror stories. I took to horror like a vampire to biting necks.
Then I grew up and went to work. In Finance. Not that it was always boring, I met a fair number of criminals and shysters along the way, but there was always something bubbling underneath.
Splinters: Tales that get under your skin
I've heard other authors refer to their books as their ‘babies', but that's not a term I'd use. I like to think of my book ‘Splinters’ more as a deranged son who mumbles creepy stuff at the dinner table, has an obsession with ‘purifying the flesh of the unworthy’ and inhabits a bedroom soon to be investigated by detectives scanning the walls with flashlights while muttering, 'What the hell happened here?'
Here's the link to get it on Amazon.
I dedicate this blog to the loving memory of my grandparents Les and Maureen Derrick who never ceased in their support of my creative work, but passed on just a little before I was able show them
the stories in which I take great pride, I further dedicate both Brain Drain and to whomever it may concern (before the end) to them. I wish you could read them.
I just want to begin by stating that some Crip folk might be reading this and may decide to get all huffy and outraged on my behalf by some of the things in this post. That’s cool, because at least you’re reading and I didn’t just almost burn a hole in my keyboard for no reason.
If a picture says a thousand words, then these shots from the the book launch and awards for Twisted50 volume to will show you how we progressed from words to screams!
What a night and such amazing photos from Mathias Falcone.
Red carpet photos to follow tomorrow, and you can see and download ALL the photos from our Flickr album HERE.
Check out, download and use the photos on your social media.
When I first read the news, my jaw dropped. A police officer was lured to a man’s flat under the promise of sexual favours and ended up in a cannibalistic feast for one with all the trimmings. Something like this just doesn’t happen in real life, and in London of all places, but there it was. I love my police procedurals so this got my mind racing. I imagined what it would actually be like to be in that interrogation room with the culprit. What would the police officers ask? How would they make him confess? This had all the makings of a horrific short story, so I explored it more. What if the suspect was a most innocuous person? What if their motives were more sinister than what it first appeared? How about a police transcript? How to write a story with only dialogue guiding us as to what is happening in the room; letting our own imaginations fill in the horrid details? Little by little, “For the Record” was born.
My journey to becoming a professional writer truly began when my short story, London’s Crawling was a finalist for Twisted50 Vol 1. Previous to this I had tried to write a children’s fantasy novel three times and no matter how I wrote it, I couldn’t make it work. Then I tried screenwriting, and received a polite rejection from CBBC. Sigh. It took about thirty rejections to realise making a living from storytelling wasn’t going to be easy. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a writer?
I knew in my heart that stories were my gift to the world but I had no idea how to give that gift while also earning enough money to stay alive and help support my family.
I’ve never tracked an Amazon delivery so closely. After reading Chris Jones’ update that Twisted 50 Vol. 2 was available to buy, I instinctively bought 10 (yes, ten) copies. You may think that a little extravagant, but I had a plan. The delivery was arriving Friday, and the next day, I was in Newport, Wales selling my wares at Geeked Festive – the Christmas Newport Comic Con.
I hoped the delivery would arrive before I needed to leave. Thankfully the ping-pong sounded, and a box arrived with 10 (yes, ten) shiny copies of Twisted 50 Vol. 2. I thumbed to story number 50 (I’d already read the preview and seen I was the final story) and read my name atop my first published short story.
One thing we have learned from all our adventures in Create50 is that the writers, and especially THE WRITERS, don’t shout about their success enough.
As one writer shared with us ‘I don’t want to put it on my Facebook feed as my friends will think I am bragging.’
While it’s easy for many of us all to say to that writer, ‘for goodness sake, blow your own trumpet!’, we should also ask, have I been holding back too?
Have you heard the one about the author who asked his agent to send a short story to the editor of a horror magazine? The one where the story sat in the slush pile with hundreds of other stories for nearly a month before the agent chased it up? Let’s imagine the editor was Richard Chizmar, the magazine was Cemetery Dance, and the author of the short story was some guy from Portland, Maine, called Stephen King …
Why submit stories to Twisted50? Is it really that big a deal? Sure there’s a chance you might be published, but then what? It never amounts to more than that, does it? The novelty fades pretty quickly, and life goes on.
Or might there be more to it than that?
We are delighted to share the news that Twisted50 vol 2 have been released, with fifty terrifying tales from 50 of the most breathtaking voices in new horror.
Twisted 50 volume 2 is your second sitting at the table of contemporary horror. Prepare for a forbidden feast of fifty courses… A slice of terror, grilled to perfection. Ripened dread, stewed in a sensual broth of dark delights. Followed by succulent wonder, wrapped in freshly garrotted fear. Fifty new dishes, from fifty master chefs of the contemporary unspeakable. Settle in and sharpen your knives… here come the Hors d’oeuvres!
The authors include many returning writers who featured on Twisted50 vol 1, as well as a new and perhaps even more demented writers… They are... Jane Badrock, Lee Betteridge, Ricardo Bravo, Richie Brown, Jessica Brown, Lee Burgess, Kendall Castor-Perry, Phil Chard, Dee Chilton, Simon Cluett, Jacky Dahlhaus, Karen Davison, Freya Eden-Ellis, Maryna Gaidar, TR Guest, Penegrin Shaw, Lucy V Hay, Rachael Howard, Fiona Hunnisett, Stephanie Hutton, Maggie Innes, James Jay, Chris Jeal, Fiona Leitch, Matt George Lovett, SV MacDonald, Dean Marriner, Ben Marshall, Scott Merrow, Robbie Mori, Tom Nolan, Andy Perry, Steve Pool, Emma Pullar, Lewis Rice, Ann Richardson, Leo Robertson, Paul Shearer, Gordon Slack, Juliet Sneed, Madeleine Swann, Melissa Szydlek, Bruce Thomas, Milethia Thomas, Phil Town, Hillier Townsend, Nick Twyford, Mark Walker, Eileen Wilson and Nick Yates.
You are invited to an unforgettable evening on December 18th to celebrate the double launch AND Awards for Twisted50 volume 2 and Singularity50 in the spooky Cinema Museum in London (close to Elephant and Castle).
Date: Tuesday December 18th at 7:00pm
Time: Doors open 6:30 for 7:00, Awards start at 8pm
Dress code: Fabulous, Futuristic and / or gothic
Expectations: Set to high!
Venue: The Cinema Museum, The Master’s House, 2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road), London SE11 4TH (located in Kennington, close to the Elephant and Castle). Map at foot of page.
The story behind the story, 'Dead Comedians' by Simon Cluett
Picture the scene. It's the late 1970s and a young, fresh-faced whippersnapper in flannel jim-jams has just brushed his toothy pegs and is all ready for beddy-byes. He stifles a yawn as he pads into a garishly decorated front room. For the sake of argument let's call this sleepy-eyed tyke "Simon", for t'was me. I'm eight years old but instead of saying nighty-night to my Mum and Dad I'm transfixed by the strange man on the telly. I'd seen Star Wars the previous year but not even the scum and villainy of Mos Eisley space port had prepared me for this tubby man with piggy eyes and a dicky bow tie.
“Where do you get your ideas from?”
The question all writers get asked at some point in their careers, isn’t it?
Well, it’s not a question I have been asked quite yet, but then I haven’t done anything to garner that much interest for someone to ask the question.
But I’m going to answer the question anyway, whether you like it or not.
And, like any writer, I am sure there is no simple answer.
These are glory days for horror fans. The success of films like It, A Quiet Place and Hereditary have reinvigorated the genre.
TV shows like Stranger Things, and adaptations of some of horror’s most treasured brands, including Bates Motel (Psycho), The Exorcist and The Haunting of Hill House, are perhaps evidence of a growing appetite for the genre. We’ve had four new novels from Stephen King in the last eighteen months and a new trilogy (The Three Births of Daoloth) from Ramsey Campbell that sees the old master back on top form.
From where I sat he looked seven foot tall and with his barrel-chest, his slicked-back black- greying hair and moustache, his heavy-framed glasses, ruddy complexion, crisp shirt and grey suit, he looked every inch like an ex-Sgt. Major who had seen more in war than he would ever want to tell a class of thirty or so nine year old schoolchildren.
Maybe he had.
But we knew him as the Headmaster of Uxbridge Street Infants and Junior School, someone rarely seen but always respected.
None of my stories (well, almost none of them) start out the way they are supposed to. I suppose this is normal, but it drives me nuts. I have an especially bad case of it, you see.
The Azrael started out as a semi-comedic little nightmare about a therapist whose client brings a corpse to the session. Then it became a seriously big nightmare about a therapist who murders his clients because they annoy him ("death therapy"). I have a BA in Psychology, so occasionally I just can't resist the urge to parody my professors. After a while, all those syndromes and complexes just make you want to... Anyway...
Post LondonSWF, team Create50 wipes the cobwebs from Twisted50 vol 2 and begins prep for the pre Xmas launch...
No date is set yet, but we plan to make announcements in the next fourteen days on dates so that you can start to plan. Watch this space for updates...
I've now been diagnosed, with affection, by my friends as a Horror Junkie.
It wasn't always like this but these days I find I'm always on the hunt for the next big scare, that unsuspecting plot twist, an intoxicating adrenaline 'hit'. Where most people aim to avoid that 'fight or flight' feeling, I'm absolutely hooked. It's true, there was a stage where the odd rom-com could satisfy me but not now. Not anymore. So when Create50 invited me to proofread and correct errors in their latest book, Twisted50 Vol 2, it was a no-brainer.
More than just my next fix, I was inspired. I could expose myself to tonnes of new and exciting ideas and authors; whilst simultaneously quenching that thirst for more adrenaline pumping material.
We are getting close and thought we would give you a taste of the dark meal that awaits the bravest of readers… 50 Authors… 50 Nightmares… Twisted50 volume 2.
And if you want to know more about the book when it’s released, or better, join us for the book launch and awards, join then email list below.
Of course I went back for Round 2 of Create50's Twisted competition.
Who wouldn't, after the having such an unexpectedly positive experience with Round 1 (Twisted50 Vol1 and Twisted' Evil Little Sister)? Comradship, insightful feedback, and the many little horrors from other writers to read (preferably alone, in the dark, with the possibility of unnamed things sliding about in the attic) and comment on.
Where else can a writer find all this and a friendly entry fee as well?
When it comes to books and films, I avoid anything scary.
I ‘watched’ The Woman in Black with my eyes closed. I will never watch one of the greatest films ever made, The Exorcist (even writing the words gives me the heebie-jeebies). I won’t even venture into the horror section in a bookshop, lest I make eye contact with a scary front cover.
Sci-fi is more my wireless kettle of fish, so why did I choose to write horror? Create50 takes the credit. I began working on a piece for their Singularity50 project.
I was never one for a happy ending, I cried as a child when Jaws was killed, I was never on the side of the angels. Horror is all I ever wanted to write, but for years I felt I had to conform to what was getting published out there. Until the dark characters’ voices in my head simply needed an outlet.
I decided to give them free reign and one day I did a flash fiction one-day course at Brighton University, I thought with any chance I’ll find my horror voice…… That’s how ‘The Anniversary’ was born, initially as a 500 words flash fiction story, read to a silently stunned audience of peers, none of which wrote as dark as me. The tutor was encouraging but it didn’t matter, I had found my horror voice and it was never going to shut up again.
The announcement of the 50 stories to be included in Twisted 50 Volume 2 pleased at least fifty people, but probably disappointed (in one degree or another) considerably more.
That’s natural, no matter how pleased you might be for some or all of the writers to be included, but what now?
Well, whether it made the shortlist or not, you have a story on the C50 website. It’s been through various iterations following feedback (from the massively-helpful, to the less-helpful ‘I noticed a typo…’) and it is, presumably, a different story (a better story?) than when you posted the first draft.
I don’t do horror. Can’t say I’m big on short stories either. So, at first glance, the Twisted50 concept was not high on my to-do list. I let the deadline for the first volume sail merrily by. I
was delighted for writing friends who’d taken part, and were published, in this highly successful book. Yet when the call came for stories for a second volume, I didn’t pay much attention as I
still didn’t feel it was really my thing.
Now I love the overall Create50 concept, with its fabulous peer-review structure - and had written several scripts for the Impact50 film initiative, but I just didn’t think the horror genre was something I could contribute to.
We’ve come to a place in the arts, where the shock and horror genre has turned to grotesque themes and incredible special effects in an effort to create new entertainment.
True fright, I believe, surrounds us everywhere and everyday… it is all around us: the aberration in an otherwise normal encounter… the twist of a person’s psyche… the perfect person hiding a terrible flaw.
When Poe wrote his tales of horror, he wrote of the twisted mind in the person next door.
Twisted50 was my first foray into horror, yet “The Director’s Cut” remains one of my best work because it was so thoroughly edited before the first submission.
That’s the key to my writing process: editing. Without that, my story would be shit. Accepting this truth helps me move on from Rough Draft Paralysis, when you keep trying to perfect the first draft and never actually finish the story.
I accept that no matter how hard I try, the rough draft will be shit. I let it be shit. And I let the second draft be a (slightly less stinky version of) shit too. I have faith it will get better with each subsequent edit.
Twisted50 is all about the horror, so I suppose it’s fitting that the very idea of even submitting a story was scarier to me than all of the movies I’ve been watching this October.
The story I submitted to Twisted50 Vol. 2 is the first thing I’ve ever put out there for others to read, to judge, to leave feedback on. And I was a bit worried, I will admit.
So I did what writers before me have done and what writers of the future will do: I closed my eyes, cleared my mind, curled up in the fetal position and cried for an hour or two, took a deep breath, and got to work.
I guess that cooking and eating young children is not generally considered acceptable in a modern society. For law abiding, civil, tolerant and considerate people, such a practice should be abhorrent.
Yet with my Twisted50 brain algorithm running (does it ever stop?) such a prospect seemed ghoulishly pleasant and inviting; this led to my Twisted50 V2 story “The Monthly Meal” in which each month (now there’s a surprise!) a group of dedicated gastronomes meet up to prepare and savour the grisly main course.
Not to mention the dessert!
Twisted 50 has given many writers a lift to ‘published author’ status.
Being able to say that your story can be purchased on Amazon is a pretty proud boast for an amateur writer.
Of course, it’s often said that a professional writer is just an amateur that never gave up. Success in Volume 1 of Twisted 50, combined with the constant encouragement and motivation from Create50 founder Chris Jones, has driven many of us to pursue the buzz that comes from peer interaction in the writing process – and especially from the prospect of selection for the next volume!
Congratulations to the fifty writers and their stories to be included in Twisted50 volume 2.
Drum roll please…
They are, and in no particular order…
We have done a number of Twisted50 vol 2 concept book covers and we would like your opinion on which you like most. Take a look at the six here and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Remember we announce the Twisted50 vol2 final stories and authors on Monday at midday – there is still time to support the Thunderclap HERE too.
Leave your thoughts below...
My journey with Create50 began with the Impact film project, submitting several scripts over several months. “I’m a writer working hard to lift my words from page to screen” I said in my profile.
Cheesy but true. I was lucky enough for one of my scripts to make the final 50. As the bubbly and dust settled I was already missing the adrenaline rush of the Create50 emails…”you have a new comment on your screenplay”. My moods had become hooked on those emails. I’d been keeping half an eye on the Twisted shenanigans and reminded myself how keen I’d been on horror movies as a kid. I grew up with posters of Freddy Kruger over my head.
After lots of emails from people asking if we can announce the 50 selected writers and stories that will be published in Twisted50 vol 2, we have relented and we will be announcing them on November 20th (Monday) at midday UK time
To help promote this event, can you please support our Thunderclap? It takes only a few seconds and makes a HUGE difference. Support the Thunderclap
The announcement will be made on the Twisted50 blog here… https://www.twisted50.com/blog/
My name is Sarah Lloyd. I am a Mental Heatlh Nurse working with children and adolescents. I enjoy my work and I nursed in adult services for fifteen years before joining the adolescent team. I often meet interesting and creative people. My other interests are painting, reflexology, yoga, music, drama and of course - writing.
I write in a number of ways in different genres. I've had some poems published that were inspired by the arising questions and conclusions of my youth. Two of my songs have reached the finals in songwriting competitions over the years.
WARNING: The following contains information about scary stories. There may be spoilers, there may be disturbing uses of language that leads to sweating, a quickened heart-beat and in some cases the soiling of one’s lucky underwear. Not so lucky if you ask me.
If you experience any discomfort whilst reading this incredibly well written article, please refrain from contacting the writer as the fault lies squarely with those behind the planned publication of Twisted50: Vol 2/3, namely the Create50 team. I take no responsibility for the outcome of said piece. Oh, and I have added explanations of complex writer thingy bobs.
Good horror doesn’t just come from a creepy idea, it comes from an emotion: fear.
One of my greatest fears is that my degenerative disability will progress to the point where I’m no longer able to enjoy even the limited quality of life I have right now and I’ll be forced to stay in relatively the same place forever.
This is where the idea of Mr. Bentley came from, someone who lures people to his home with promises of fame and success and then inflicts this awful punishment on them for the sake of his art.
Ok, so I was a bit tipsy... and giddy with getting an unexpected, lovely and oh-so-heavy glass award (2nd Best Story)… and feeling really sociable, meeting face-to-face many friends I'd previously met only virtually in the Create 50 community… and I was so happy to be showing my husband and friends (also in attendance) the reality of how fabulous and special the whole Twisted 50 experience is… and very proud that readers had sought me out at the party to tell me how they'd enjoyed my story… and it was so nice to see old friends that I hadn't seen for years (Helen Lloyd and I used to work together; Ellie Torrez starred in a portmanteau collaborative feature film that I co-wrote and co-directed, and there were a few pals from the London Screenwriters Festival there too)… and I really don't get the chance to dress up posh very often… and it was close to the end of the evening so we were being ushered out...
‘It was… a little bit….dark and deathy for my tastes?’
These were the words that accompanied one of my first attempts at showing my short story writing to others when I was younger.
I had always had one of those sorts of imaginations; capable of extracting the very worst possible outcome from any given scenario. An absolute boon for a writer, slightly less so for the shy, awkward teenager, who found other people and new situations stressful at the best of times.
But, still something in me as a teenager was drawn towards both reading and writing horror stories. All through my youth, if a library book had a black cover with blood dripping off of it, or the merest hint of a vampire or fangs, I was there.
I had submitted two stories for Twisted last year and really enjoyed the process and getting my story right.
So this year my goal was to write 3 stories, with only a few days until the deadline I was working on a script and couldn’t concentrate properly and decided to break and go over some of the feedback on the horror stories – I wasn’t really wanting to write anything and then it happened…I wrote the first line and ended up with a one page story and I was quite impressed.
So I gave it a quick edit and posted it up. I was happy to have reached my goal that was triggered by some of the conversations with the other writers.
I made two submissions to TWISTED50 Vol 2.
The first was Zugzwang. Reviewers of the first draft found it a little confusing in parts, so I clarified a few points for the second draft, but had a feeling that the plot wasn’t really original enough to warrant publishing.
I’m glad I stuck with it because a 2nd draft reviewer mentioned the movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and that was the pivot on which I turned the plot around and got much more positive reviews for my 3rd draft.
The deadline for Twisted 50 Vol 2 arrived and I duly submitted my 3rd draft of Unforgettable feeling smug as hell. Job done. Or so I thought…
Then word came from Chris Jones that rewrites were welcome, if not downright mandatory. I sat down to re-read my story cockily expecting to add the odd flourish and tweak here and there.
After all, the feedback from my Twisted 50 peers had been overwhelmingly positive, and if it ain’t broke and all that.
Happy Ever After? What’s that all about, then? That, my friend, is Act 3 without the satisfying ending! We don’t do that here at Twisted 50, do we? No, we’re out to reimagine and reinvent the fairytale – warts and all. So, where does the prospective writer start when that blank page is staring them in the face, deliberately taunting them?
And how about that killer 2,000 words limit in which to write your masterpiece? That’s not an easy call, either. You’d better make sure those little suckers dance to your tune by run, skip and jumping off your page if you’re going to make your story to die for!
After being nagged, pestered and finally (the next bit may be an exaggeration) threatened by a friend, I checked out Create50 and the Twisted50 vol 2 competition.
What I saw was a breath of fresh air compared to both other writing competitions (you mean I get feedback and can re-write my submission?) and social media sites (no – or at least not predominantly – arguments and slagging people off as a past-time, social media’s great gift to society).
So you are working on a screenplay, a short story or a novel. Perhaps you’ve finished a draft, or a rewrite, you’ve gathered feedback, you feel it’s pretty much good to go. What else can you do?
Read it out loud.
Not only to yourself, but to others, or with others, or have it read by others. Yes, you’ll have to leave the absolute safety of your writing den (but anyway, you’re absolutely safe only when you’re dead). Yes, this is different from sending it out and getting a rejection letter; that is delayed response, easier to deal with. Sitting through a live reading can be quite unnerving, if not outright scary, but I urge you to do it.
Everyone has a novel in them, it's said. Well, thanks to Twisted50v2, I have become sure most of us harbour a potential short story.
When the invitation came to write mine, I thought "Can't do that, I'm a guy who presents other peoples' stuff" (I'm a voice actor) and then seconds later "hang on...the genre is horror, and I recall that emotion from my childhood".
So I had a starting point: the cold terror of a seven year old discovering something malevolent under the bed.
Congratulations to the writers of the 182 stories that have made the shortlist for Twisted50 volume 2 (and possibly Twisted50 volume 3) (and NOT in any order too!!!!)
If you are on this list, please do shout about it on Social Media too. And here is the new teaser trailer for the book too.
Can you join our Social Media Thunderclap to announce the Shortlist for Twisted50 volume 2? You can join it HERE and will take just 30 seconds.
The shortlist and link will go live at 11am in July 4th
Once announced we will be selecting the finalists and judging them for the Awards. Right now we are also working on the concept that we will bring Twisted50 volume three out of the shortlist.
This is a reflection of the excellent work submitted.
I am in my fifties but only started writing about four years ago.
A friend's daughter was twelve at the time and said that she had started writing her first book. It was something I had always wanted to do but somehow had never found the time.
I remember thinking if a twelve year old can do it, so can I. After two years of (mostly weekend) writing, I self-published my first novel, The Rage, in November 2015.
The first book was a steep learning curve. I naively thought it would fly off the shelves - of course this didn't happen. Sadly, books don't sell themselves.
By now I'm used to raising my kids, then dropping them off at the airport knowing that I will never see or hear from them again.
Well, that's what it feels like anyway. Every writer knows that we put a lot of ourselves into our work. We spend a great deal of time nurturing our stories, so when the time comes to submit them to a third party it fills us with anxiety and doubt. Did I do enough research? Does it say everything I wanted?
But with most writing competitions we'll never know - we rarely receive feedback.
The few that do provide feedback will only do so for a higher entry fee, and even then you only get comments from a single person.
So the reading and judging process is going well and I thought I would update everyone with a new timeline and process.
We are now going to announce a long list of stories – this will happen around the end of July and it will therefore release around half the stories from the process.
The remaining half will need contracts signing to continue in the process.
We are now also expecting to pull the book launch and awards for Twisted50 volume 2 forward to before Xmas. We, as much as you, want this to happen as soon as possible. This is not a promise but it’s looking ever more likely.
I first came across the concept of Create 50 when Chris launched the ’50 Kisses’ competition in 2012. I wrote a story for it and duly critiqued a minimum of 3 other stories. In reality I critiqued many more as once I started I really enjoyed the reading process. My short script ‘Love Across Time’ I think was long listed but was not chosen for the film.
However, I re-wrote it and entered it in to a script writing competition organised by Film Expo South which took place in February this year and I was one of 10 finalists. It goes to show, nothing is wasted.
Releasing your writing into the wild is scary. It’s your precious baby that you’ve nurtured and put your heart and soul into and now you fear it will be ripped to shreds. I was certainly worried about that when I decided to enter the Twisted 50 Vol. 2 short story competition. It had been a while since I’d written anything that I actually intended other people to read, and because of that I was anxious about the reviewing part of the competition. However, this turned out to be the best bit.
It is so useful to have a competition that enables the writer to improve both their story and their wider skills through the process. The community on the Create 50 site is friendly and supportive. All of the comments I received were either useful criticism given in a constructive and honest manner, or encouraging and inspiring comments. It was truly wonderful to engage with other people’s stories and have them engage with mine in return, and I know that their comments helped to make my story better.
It was a bitterly cold blustery night. She shuddered as she heard the wind howling. There was a full moon and that meant it was time for monsters.
BANG! She jumped. Just a door slamming shut. She rushed to look and cursed the old house for its drafty walls and creaking floorboards. Heavens! Look at that giant cobweb up there? And how come she'd never noticed that noose?
Running back to her study, she sensed the walls of the hall were getting closer together. Was that a hand sticking through?
We have TEN promotional packages of Twisted50 up for grabs in our May Madness promotion! CLICK HERE!
Amazon have been really promoting Twisted 50 on their site and narrowly missed getting into the top 1,000 books on Amazon, which is some amazing feat!
The May Madness bundles cost £25 (including UK delivery): In it you will get Twisted50 (first edition), Twisted’s Evil Little Sister (first edition) and the Twisted50 Audiobook on CD (with MP3 disk) and selected Evil Little Sister stories on CD. What a terrifying MONSTER package!
I was so thrilled to be part of Twisted 50 creative collaboration and the Audiobook that brought together 50 stories, 50 writers and 50 narrators ... and the launch event at the wonderful Cinema
Museum was unlike any other party I have ever been to!
It was great to put faces to all the names I have become so familiar with ... and to meet some of the 50 narrators who narrated the stories for the Audiobook. You may be surprised to know that though I know the work of all of the voices and have worked with all of the narrators involved in some capacity in the past, I haven't actually met many of them face to face.
For the month of May, Twisted50 will get heavily promoted on Amazon in the UK and Australia.
This is a HUGE deal for us as it means the internet giant is getting really behind us. This is how Amazon told us…
‘We are pleased to inform you that the following title was selected for the upcoming Seasonal Sale "May Madness" starting 01/05/2017: Twisted 50: 50 Contemporary Shockers from the most terrifying new writers of horror...’
You know what's really scary? Being taken by total surprise and interviewed on camera. Many will know I can warm to my subject (!) and waffle on, but I feel (hope) I did the Create50 and LSF justice on this occasion.
Fortunately the interviewer, the lovely Ellie Torrez, was superb at putting me/us at ease and asked intelligent, thoughtful questions that were easy to answer and I was already on a high (as you might be able to tell) having spent the evening surrounded by some of my 'tribe' of fellow creatives, all hugely talented and supportive people.
I have been known to look under the bed before turning the light out.
I have been known to check the whole flat, room by room, every nook and cranny, before going to sleep.
Usually it’s because I’ve been watching some drama on TV that has spooked me.
But sometimes it’s because I’ve been reading something deeply disturbing, and the only way I’m going to have peace of mind is by performing this paranoid ritual.
My story is about a bridge. I love bridges, always been fascinated by them, so when Twisted 2 threw out the call for stories I knew mine had to feature a bridge. It also features a brave
protagonist venturing out alone onto said bridge, and a nasty creature waiting to pounce… and if any of this sounds familiar that’s because there is more than a corpse buried in the foundations
of my architectural marvel – there’s one of the world’s most beloved fairy tales in there too.
I’ll come back to that in a mo.
Author John Ashbrook was the only author in Twisted50 volume one who chose to narrate their own story – and what a great job he did too with ‘The Spider Taketh Hold’.
He recently did a radio interview for BBC Radio Humberside and you can listen to it here… We hope you enjoy!
Hi! My name’s Maryna. I’m from Ukraine. Don’t know exactly why, but that’s the way I always introduce myself as if explaining my flawed English or trying to emphasize how damn hard it is to be in film-making or at least to desire it if you’re from Ukraine.
The thing is, in Ukraine there’s nothing like cinematographer. It’s not good or bad, it simply doesn’t exist. And people don’t care too much because they can always watch something made in other countries. Why not? And I more than adore foreign films but for me, it means the only way to accomplish something in film-making is to go abroad.
I came late to Create 50, in December 2016, so I missed the first projects. However, I immediately recognized what a wonderful opportunity this is and decided to go for Twisted 50 vol 2.
The value of the process lies not only in the potential reward at the end but in allowing writers to road test their material – like standup comedians on tour, only without the heckling.
In my experience, critiques have always been honest and thorough, with everybody working hard to be as helpful as possible. Before writing this article, I blitzed on reading the responses to other people’s work and I found them refreshingly well judged – gentle advice for those who need it and harsher criticism for those of us who should know better. Perfect.
Today I am talking to Mark Walker, writer about his experiences with Twisted 50.
Thank you for talking to me today, so, just to start off, what exactly is Twisted 50?
It is, essentially, a competition for authors writing short stories with, wait for it... a ‘twist’ in the tail. Horror seems to be the flavour of the month. So anyone with a creative flair for the dark and mysterious would fit right in. It’s part of the CREATE 50 Initiative and the idea is to end up with 50 great stories to include in a published volume of short stories.
If you have an audible account you can now download and listen to the Twisted50 Audiobook. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up for the free account (30 days) and download it now.
Twisted50 is the first book to come out of the Create50 process, with 50 authors writing 50 horror stories read by 50 narrators. It’s truly exceptional.
Sign up HERE and get the Twisted50 Audiobook free…
And if you do sign up and listen to it, please do leave a review to help bolster ratings, it’s VERY important to our continued success.
UPDATE: Twisted50 is now on iTunes also. get it HERE.
Psst! …You! Yes, you.
It’s me, the small, vaguely fluffy one, dying of embarrassment in the corner.
Anyway, come here, they’re busy and I’ll tell you why ‘Create 50’ is like a good friend.
If you are shy, like me, you can send a story to cyberspace and no one says; ‘Rejection’, ‘Not in our remit’, or ‘Sheep’s away’ i.e. ‘Flock off’, or such like.
Just over a week ago we held the Twisted50 vol 1 Awards.
The whole thing was so exciting and overwhelming, I plain forgot to post the winners on the site here.
So congratulations to the award winners who are…
The official photos from the Twisted50 book launch and awards have landed and they are awesome! Taken by the talented Rob Youngson, they capture the fun and games of the night.
Feel free to download and use on social media to helps spread the word about Twisted50 and Evil Little Sister.
On Friday night we hosted the Twisted50, Evil Little Sister Awards and Audiobook launch in London. More details and accounts of the evening will follow soon, but it’s certain we pulled off an unforgettable night.
We just got the first batch of photos from our ace photographer Craig Connelly from the red carpet and doesn’t everyone look fabulous! Feel free to download and use these pictures on your sites, blog and social media.
Tomorrow night at the Cinema Museum in London, we will be hosting the climactic event for Twisted50 volume one – the awards and the audiobook launch. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the slightly spooky celebrations! You can get tickets below.
Tickets: £15 plus booking fee
Dress code: Fabulous and / or gothic
Expectations: Set to high!
Venue: The Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way, Kennington, SE11
(Nearest tube/train stations: Kennington (Northern Line) and Elephant and Castle (Northern and Bakerloo lines, and BR) are both within easy walking distance).
Not all of my friends are readers. I mean; they can read but they don’t read, at least not beyond a little social media or football reports in The Metro.
And that is no judgment, a number of them are among the most intelligent people I know, they just don’t do books. Whether it’s due to time, inclination, or some other reason, they don’t really know the feeling of immersion that great stories create in their readers.
They’ve never experienced that urgent need to read on and find out what happens next.
The Twisted50 Audiobook (along with selected stories from Evil Little Sister) is now on Audible. This means you can buy it or get it as part of your Audibile subscription online. How cool is that?
Other Audiobook platforms will follow soon. And of course you can still get physical CD copies from us HERE and will send them out after the weekend when they are signed by the Audio narrators.
I suffered from insomnia as a child. I still do. When I was little, I had a huge selection of audiobooks. At bedtime, my mother would pick one, click it in the tape deck and flick the light out.
I would cocoon myself in the blanket against the malevolent night, reach a careful finger out into the black and press play. Lying there, I'd listen to the dead space of the tape as it turned
around, its circular ticks tocking through time, my ears full with the audible fuzz of recorded silence. And then a voice.
I listened to the usual things: Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, Alan Garner. I am still able to repeat sections of these, learned via repetition each night. Those types of strange stories were the perfect bridge to traverse that foggy, unmapped landscape at the edge of dreams.