And the January Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

J. Kyle Turner

J. Kyle won with his story “Xuan the Tiger.”

The prompt for this first contest of 2013 was based on this terribly tragic article, particularly this line: “She was dying a death that was meant for someone else.”

J. Kyle’s story won decisively, receiving nearly double the Second Place votes.

In Second Place was “Balladyna,” by Michael Wehunt, his fourth Top 3 finish. He’ll also be appearing in our soon-to-be-release sixth issue.

Rounding things out, in Third Place, was Amanda C. Davis’s “Omen.” Amanda is also no stranger to the winners circle; we’ve hosted sixteen contests thus far and Amanda has made the Top 3 seven times!

So a big congratulations to all!

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And the 2012 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Magnolia’s Prayer
by John Guzman


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was up-and-coming horror scribe Adam Cesare, author of the brilliant Tribesmen, Video Night, and the just-released Bound by Jade novella.

Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2012, Adam chose “Magnolia’s Prayer,” by John Guzman, as the winner. This story was based on the strange prompt of undelivered mail.

You’ll be able to read “Magnolia’s Prayer” in issue #6.


Not the final cover.

Congratulations, John!

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And the September Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Steven Bouchard

Steven won with his story “The Whole Tooth.”

The prompt for this contest was a photo taken outside the hotel this year’s Horrorfind convention was held at. A creepy little thing, indeed!

The contest was close this month. The top three were all within a point of each other, and we had a three-way tie for Second!

In addition to Steven’s winning tale, Megan Engelhardt (her fourth top-three finish), H.L. Fullerton (July’s winner), and Amanda C. Davis (her sixth time in the top three) all tied for Second Place, and Allison Dellinger took Third Place.

Steven’s story, plus this year’s four previous winning stories, will be judged by a neutral reader, someone who is not on the staff and has not participated in any contest, and the story he or she chooses will be published in issue #6!

So a big congratulations to all the winners throughout 2012!

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The Crow’s Caw Reviews The Wicked…Plus an Essay and a Contest

The almighty Jassen Bailey has given The Wicked a great review over at The Crow’s Caw.

“This is one of the coolest paperback I’ve ever laid eyes on. This is the total package.”

You can read the review here.

More than that, however, Jassen has allowed James to guest blog about The Wicked, specifically the excellent characterization found within the book. It’s a wonderfully insightful read.

And if that’s not cool enough, they’re giving away two copies of The Wicked and one copy of James’s fantastic collection, People Are Strange. All you have to do is go to the comments section and post your top 10 favorite horror novels and movies from the 80s. Couldn’t be easier!

Again, you can find the review, essay, and contest here. Dig it!

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And the May Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

John Guzman

John won with his story “Magnolia’s Prayer.”

The prompt for this contest was based on something that has intrigued me for a few years now, ever since I read a few articles on the mystery of undelivered mail. I’ve wanted to write a story about it, but the muse hasn’t been moved, so 41 other authors gave it a shot.

Why do some mailmen hoard undelivered mail? There are obvious reasons, of course—theft, hoarding, etc.—but the authors were instructed to be more creative, write about the not-so-obvious reasons, be unique, stretch the boundaries.

In addition to John’s winning tale, Michael Wehunt, top dog in March’s contest, came in second with “Pavement Rich in Gold”; and Third Place went to “The Things We Hide From View,” by Damien Walters Grintalis, which is her sixth top-three finish!

Congratulations, fellas!

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And the March Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Michael Wehunt

Michael won with his story “Beside Me Singing in the Wilderness.” Not only did he win the contest, but we just sent him an acceptance letter for another story to be published in issue #6. He’s had quite a good day!

The prompt for this contest was this photo, the so-called “blood waterfall,” which Nick wrote about last year. Obviously it is not blood (unless Nick is to be believed), so we asked the authors to explore a simple question:

What if it was blood coming from the earth?

Participants were required to build their story around that image and question. Nearly 50 signed up, 29 finished.

In addition to Michael’s winning tale, Andrew Bourelle came in second with his brilliantly titled “Haemorrhagia Memoriae,” and Third Place went to “Alizarin, with Variations,” by Gio Clairval.

Congratulations, fellas!

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Goodreads Giveaway: Epitaphs: The Journal of New England Horror Writers

Three copies of Epitaphs: The Journal of New England Horror Writers, the Stoker Award nominated anthology featuring work from Kurt Newton, Rick Hautala, Christopher Golden, L.L. Soares, K. Allen Wood (that’s me!), and twenty-one others, are being given away through Goodreads.

If you’re interested in this fantastic collection, toss your name into the virtual hat by clicking Enter to Win below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Enter to win

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And the January Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Lani Carroll

Lani won with her story “Mid-Autumn Moon.” The prompt for this contest was based on Xochimilco, specifically Santana Barrera’s chinampa, sometimes known as the Island of Dolls. You can read about it here, here and here. Sleep well!

Participants were required to build their story around the concept of an island of dolls. Nearly 50 signed up, 31 finished.

In addition to Lani’s winning tale, Damien Walters Grintalis came in second with “Wednesday’s Child,” her sixth top-three placing. Third Place was “Build-A-Dolly,” by Ken Liu.

Congratulations, fellas!

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And the Contest of Dune Winner is…

Desmond Warzel

Desmond figured this one our real quick. About an hour had elapsed between the time we posted the contest and he correctly guessed the answer.

This was a very simple cipher. The letters represented their corresponding numerical place in the alphabet—A being 1, B being 2, Z being 26, etc. Below < and Below _ referred to keys on a keyboard—the comma being below the less-than symbol, and the dash being below the underscore. Dots were just that, dots (i.e. periods).

There were a couple other minor hints, but once the rest was deciphered, you had this:

43.709207,-124.179583

Coordinates for the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Oregon Dunes, for those who don’t know, was the inspiration—or the inspirational catalyst—for the original Dune novel, published in 1965, by Frank Herbert.

So congratulations to Desmond!

Until next time…

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Contest of Dune

Update: Contest was over nearly before it began. See the comments for the answer.

Interested in winning an audiobook copy of Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert’s upcoming book, Sisterhood of Dune?

If so, solve this:


[ it’s not as tough as it looks ]

Post your answers in the comments section below. First person to get it right wins the Sisterhood of Dune audiobook. If you have an e-reader, we’ll throw in a copy of our special holiday e-issue, which features Kevin’s short story “Santa Claus Is Coming to Get You.”

Good luck!

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