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Needle In The Hay is pleased to announce the following entries selected for the MYSTERY OF THE CELLAR DOOR Short List. Congratulations to: Alayna Cole – Guilty Daniel Mac – Cellar Door Dakoda Barker – Unlocked Rebecca McDowell – Birdcage Lauren Clark – Macabre Manor Rebecca Hadland (Sylphien) – You Cannot Open The Cellar Door Daniel Norrish – Eatery Debb Bouch – Symon Says   . Thank you to our ten judges for the long list. The judges for the short list include a fiction magazine editors, former contestants, and a nautropath. and a Best of luck to everyone. The winner will be announced in two weeks    

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Rebecca’s first story with Needle In The Hay is Birdcage, nominated for the long list on the MYSTERY OF THE CELLAR DOOR Award. She’s a lawyer by trade, so we checked our precedents before we threw a few questions her way. First Up, What brought you to NITH? I was searching for story contests, and I came across the Mystery of the Cellar Door. I loved the premise, so I looked around on the site and discovered that you’ve got something very creative going. I like that readers have the opportunity to provide feedback; I enjoy reading short stories. I’ve commented on a couple, and I look forward to reading the other entries in the Cellar Door contest and seeing what people did with the premise.I like the idea of …

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So here it is everyone, the long list for our first ever major award. Seventeen stories have been selected, each one vying for a $1000 first prize. We see some familiar faces, and some new ones as well, as well as plenty of interpretations on a theme.  The long list will remain up until the end of the month while our judges deliberate their favourites. In September there will be a culling (such a brutal word, but fitting perhaps, given the tone of some of the stories) and the remaining stories will face off fort he grand prize. We’ll also be bringing you some interviews and BTS chats with the Cellar Door authors. So check back regularly, or follow us through our social pages. Best of luck everyone. The full …

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  She rapped urgently at the door. There was no rush, other than to escape the howling southwesterly. He opened the battered wooden door so slowly it groaned under the duress and came face to face with the desperate looking young woman. Her frizzy burst of orange hair covered most of her face and added a new dimension to his unease. “Hi, I’m Iris, Iris-Rose actually, although if I had my way it’d be the other way ‘round. Gosh, I love roses. I noticed you have some out the front, all sorts of colours. My favourite is yellow. Did you know the giving of a yellow rose denotes friendship? Anyway, you can call me Rose; I prefer it. Some people call me Iris and I don’t even respond you know, …

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The red wood tables sit with angular indifference in the fifth floor restaurant.  The setting’s spines and surfaces mark out the avenues of movement between the opposite bar and entrance to the kitchen as the staff glide gracefully between them. Waiters and waitresses in perfect white garments pulse from chef to customer and back again like snowflakes on the breath of some great beast. The thick windows show the distance to the world beyond and madness of the busy street below as a reminder that this place, ‘The Cellar Door’ is sanctuary. The heavy chairs shift, slide and scrape over the black tile floor, beneath the black tile ceiling making the only accidental sounds to shutter out over the personal whisperings of customers. The space is dark, lit only by …

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In the midst of all the hub and bub finalising entries for the CELLAR DOOR award you might be forgiven for forgetting about ANNABEL’S LOST AND FOUND Award, an award idea dreamed up by one of our regular competitors. It is with great and somewhat belated pleasure that we finally get to print this author’s name as a winner, but if you’ve been reading NITH short lists for any period of time, or even participated as a judge, you would know what a wonderful and observant writer she can be. Please congratulate the perennial ‘student’ Clarissa NG! Clarissa has participated in just about every competition since she discovered NITH, and from what we understand, she has been making a lot of headway in other writing endeavours as well. Perhaps it’s …

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To paraphrase one of the great philosophers of our time, “Short word counts and small turn arounds makes homer something something.” A focus on the mad, the crazy and the slightly off kilter in this week’s short list. Fair enough, We all go a little crazy sometimes. But a bit of friendly advice, just cause you’re thinking outside the box, doesn’t mean you need to lose your marbles. Full Short List here.

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“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.” Emily Dickinson Maybe we’re not immortal just yet, but don’t let that take away from this week’s winner. Handpicked from a fistful of fun and challenging entries, please take a moment to congratulate first timer Annie M and her winning story Letter To Jane Austen From A Disapproving and Loving Aunt Coming up next we have the short list for ANNABEL’S LOST AND FOUND Award, followed by our major award for 2014 the MYSTERY OF THE CELLAR DOOR Prize. There’s still time to get an entry in for CELLAR DOOR, so head over to the awards page and check it out. If any of the authors for the DEAR AMANDA Award would like feedback …

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Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company. ~Lord Byron We’re in good company this week. Letters to modern comics, classic authors, distinguished scientists and… someone you might know Six hand written (or typed) letters to… who? Well you’ll just have to read and see. Thanks everyone for entering. Best of luck. You can find the short list here.   Dear Bill Bailey by Alice Griffiths The 27th Floor by Naomi Lolita Speaks by Lou Steer An Open Letter To Cousin Martin by Maya Spore (personal fav ha!) A Mother’s Words by Brooke Edwards Letter to Jane Austen by Anne M   PS Don’t forget this is the last month to get your entry in for the MYSTERY OF THE CELLAR DOOR Award.    

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In 2012 bestselling author Paulo Coelho made an unprecedented move, actively encouraging fans and would be readers to download his work for free. ‘Pirate Coelho’ has long been an advocate for peer to peer sharing. He’s not the only magical realism author progressive towards technology. It’s been argued by many that Argentinian mastermind Jorge Luis Borges actually predicted the internet  and NITH favourite Haruki Murakami even has his own app! You’ll find plenty of influence from these authors in the short list, but it was a far more musical tale that stole first place for the MARIUS DE ZAYAS Award. Needle In the Hay regular Debb Bouch lent her trademark appreciation of tone and rhythm to a tale that sweeps you away, only to twist every expectation on it’s head. Here’s …

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This week’s award asked authors to use Marius De Zayas’ portrait of photographer Alfred Stieglitz as the inspiration for a story in the genre of Magical Realism.

Seven’s a lucky number, a magical number even. That’s how many stories we have on this week’s short list, so head over and check out the full short list here

Also, a big NITH welcome to first timer Sandra Mendes!

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Who has lost their faith in the other first?  That’s a (rhetorical)  question from Judge J on this week’s winning entry. If there’s a consistent theme through the CLIMATE FICTION stories, it’s of characters searching for humanity. Be it human contact, a moral purpose, or a sense of identity. It’s exciting then, that our winner is someone who writes under a pseudonym. Someone who’s writing consistently focuses on the relationships and ‘Who has lost their faith first?” In third place, on her third short list in a row, was Ingrid Cor with Future Vision, a story praised for it’s creative and interesting concept. In second place, on his first visit to NITH, is J Perry Kelly with the powerful Nowhere to Hide. Congratulations Mr Kelly, we look forward to more from …

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While it might not be immediately obvious, writing forms the backbone of most art / entertainment projects and games are no different. I sat down with NITH regular and twitter baron Dakoda Barker to talk all things digital. I started by asking him about games in general, and why he’s decided to make that a writing focus?

Dakoda: Growing up, I was always interested in video games. I read a lot as well, but I used to love playing those old games like Double Dragon and Sonic. When I started to get older and branch out into different genres, I started to appreciate the narratives more. I’m fascinated with what you can do with narrative in video games. I’m fascinated with video games in general, and I don’t think games get enough respect as an aspect of popular culture. I’m hoping to apply some of the critical approaches used in literature to video games so I can show the value of games and the creativity that developers infuse into their work. Gaming is a lot deeper than a lot of people think! Continue Reading →

Recently I caught up with Dan Bloom on Climate Fiction and books he thought paved the way for the genre. Dan is a fan of On The Beach by Nevil Shute. I started by asking him why he was drawn to Shute in particular?

Dan: Well, he wrote that powerful 1957 novel ON THE BEACH which became a movie two years later. That novel and movie did much to change human thinking about nuclear war and nuclear winter. So I think we need a contemporary  ON THE BEACH about climate change. Continue Reading →

If you haven’t already, check out our write up on Climate Fiction

The CLIMATE FICTION award asked authors to focus on climate change and how it might affect characters, their relationships, and their way of life. The stories this week do not disappoint. Congratulations to everyone who made the short list and a big welcome to first timers J Perry Kelly, Joshua Keeling, Lachlan Bullivant, Rhiannon Cowan and George Garnett.

You can find the complete short list here

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Hi everyone, hope you love the new site design as much as we do. Here’s a quick breakdown of the features

Orientation

Awards, past and present, can be found under the Awards and Collaborations Page. There’s a neat filter that lets you sort them all out. Because we’re growing in popularity we think having more awards up with spread the load out a bit so we’re not culling too many stories from each short list.

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What are Collaborations?

Collaborations are short story digests written to a particular set of themes, genres or ideas. You can sign up to a collaboration through the awards and collaborations page by submitting a brief before the deadline.

We run a writing workshop for each collaboration. Authors submit drafts and provide feedback over three rounds of drafting. Spots in these workshops are limited, and while participation is not a requirement, if you participate in the workshop, you’re guaranteed a spot in the finished product.

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Alayna is a fourth year university student, writer, and currently manages the Needle In The Hay tumblr. She’s been gracious enough to answer a few questions, so here we go.

Martin: Tell us a little about the novel you’re working on. What’s it about? Who are the main characters?

Alayna: My novel is titled ‘Elymas’ and it’s about a girl named Lily who is in her early twenties and is generally disillusioned by where her life is going. When the circus comes to town, a mysterious man, who introduces himself only as ‘The Magician’, asks her to run away with him and become his beautiful assistant. Lily embarks on an adventure and, as events unfold, is left to decide whether this new life is better than the one she left behind. I’m currently editing my novel for the sixth time – I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it, really. Continue Reading →

The title of a sixties hit whispered in my mind like the punch line of a sick joke. How odd that I could hear it despite the siren that wailed above my head. Even stranger, why should I imagine the title or sense that it somehow held reproach? I surely wasn’t to blame for this lousy mess—for my sitting here trapped in a wheelchair, unable to push it to safety. After three endless minutes, the siren cycled from a pulsating screech to a robotic voice:

“Flood warning…flood warning! Move to higher ground! Flood warning…flood warning! Move to higher ground!”

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