cafedoom_780x195The Sixth Annual Café Doom Writing Competition came to a close today. It’s quite a feat of endurance for the participants because all the entrants have to read everyone else’s entries and then pick their top three. This year there were 50 in all, with a maximum length of 5000 words, making a potential 250K of words to be read in a fortnight.

In fact, it turned out to be a breeze to do the actual reading part because in most cases you could decide pretty early on if a story was going anywhere and the ones that did go somewhere were a joy to read. Actually writing something new for the competition turned to be a bit more challenging, what with Mrs Darcy and the Slingink Scribbling Slam both going strong at the time, so I ended up re-visiting a story from 2007. This was “Symbiosis”, the everyday story of the relationship between a young woman and her intestinal worm, which I’d originally written for a Writing Magazine competition on the subject of “Putting on the Inches”. No, I have no idea what I was thinking either. Anyway, I’d always intended to go back to it and make the ending a bit more gross, so it seemed the ideal opportunity.

As things turned out, I was quite pleased that the piece made 5th place in the popular vote and was thus shortlisted. However, that was as far as it went. I suspect that the fact that there was another worm-related piece last year (which I’d completely forgotten about) may have gone against it, along with the fact that it was very English in tone (there can’t be that many horror stories around that reference Greggs, can there?) The presence of several better stories in the shortlist may also have had something to do with it, of course. Either way, I now have another piece that is ready to send out into the world when I get round to it – along with last year’s flop and 2008’s shortlistee.

Meanwhile, “M is for Monster” has picked up a couple of nice Amazon reviews. Obviously, this is my favourite bit of the first review:

As short as it is grotesquely satisfying, Pinnock’s darkly comical tale is delivered in a staggered fashion, setting down the back-story and plot whilst Tom’s final minutes are played out. The finale hits the reader with the full force of a good dollop of splatterpunk, concluding this downbeat little tale with complete and utter horror-enthusiastic perfection.

Splatterpunk. I like that.

Next – something that I completely forgot to mention a while back. My online chum Geoff Nelder got in touch with me asking if I fancied joining him and Bec Zugor (amongst others) in contributing some ultra-short pieces to go with a book of Sci-Fi art called “The Sixty” being produced by Andy Bigwood, two-time winner of the BSFA award for best artwork. When I saw the pictures, I leapt at the chance, picking this one to write a piece for (called “Pioneer”). I in turn invited my VWC mates Oscar Windsor-Smith and Dave Weaver to join the team and I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. Should be quite some book.

Finally, stop whatever you’re doing and take a look at this extraordinary piece of video art by Richard O’Callaghan based on Tania Hershman’s wonderful story, “The White Road”. Wow. Just wow.