Once again, I’m helping best selling author RR Haywood judge the semi-annual writing contest he conducts in his closed The Living Army or TLA Facebook group. The group, made up of a couple thousand mostly British, American and Australian fans of his Undead zombie horror series, has lately become populated with fans of his new best selling time travel series, Extracted.
His Undead series, which now numbers 26 books, each of them best sellers on their own, is the kind of series with which fans become obsessed and inevitably find themselves looking for like-minded readers. It’s that search for connection with others who share obsessions which spawned the TLA group, many of whom have read the entire series a number of times, have listened to them in audiobook and spend days and days arguing over who should be in the dream casts for hopeful TV and movie adaptations. (Hint, hint, movie and TV producers. This series is screaming for TV time.) I reviewed one of the books in the series here.
Any author with that kind of fan following would probably count themselves lucky and RR Haywood, definitely feels appreciated by his fan base, but he obviously loves to write and isn’t going to restrict himself to zombie horror.
Haywood’s recent foray into the science fiction genre has been equally successful in drumming up appreciative fans, enough to make his Extracted series number one in both the UK and the US in the time travel sub-genre. Deservedly so. All thee books, Extracted, Executed and Extinct are entertaining, suspenseful and filled with the kind of endearing and complex characters readers loved from his Undead series.
All of this to say that his semi-annual writing contest is a bit different this time. In the past, he has asked writers to submit the first chapter (the first 500 words) of a post-apocalyptic story.
Now he’d like writers to submit the first chapter (the first 500 words) in a science fiction story. ** I forgot to add that in addition to being science fiction, the story must also have at least one talking robot. It can be a toaster, a computer, it can have one line or 50. It simply must have at least one instance of a computer that talks.**
We’ve already heard a bit of push back from those who say they don’t read science fiction, therefore, they aren’t interested. Which is baffling. Lots of different stories take place in a science fiction setting. Mystery, romance, thriller, satire and even zombie horror could be told in a science fiction setting. According to Haywood, “Just set it in space.”
Which makes perfect sense.
The second thing that is different, groundbreaking, fantastic and amazing, is that Haywood is offering, for the first time, CASH PRIZES for the winners! 150 GBP for first place, 50 GBP for 2nd place and 25 GBP for third place. He’s offering these cash prizes because Haywood is always encouraging new writers. The first book in the Undead series was the first book he’d ever written. Now 26 books later he’s writing full time, working on two very different best selling series and juggling a fan base that grows by the day. Read my interview with him here. His success story is inspiring and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow.
The contest starts this Friday, Jan. 19, and will probably only be open for a week or so. So don’t wait! Go to The Living Army Facebook group and request admittance if you aren’t a member already. When I won the contest more than a year ago, I wrote 500 words as the start of a story I loved and at some point, I still hope to go back and write that book. If you’ve never tried it before, take a shot at writing a science fiction first chapter and see what happens.