#GhostsOfBelfast Contest: At last, the winners!

Sunday, November 22, 2009, 10:53 PM

At long last, at least three weeks late, here are the winners of the Ghosts Of Belfast twitfic contest. I'm very pleased that my favourite scary tweet was also the most popular amongst voters, but more of that in a second. I had originally planned to choose the top five tweets, then select one as the outright winner based on votes, but as it turned out there were eight finalists with a clear first and second, but third place was a two-way tie, meaning fourth places was skipped, while fifth place was tied three ways, leaving one finalist unplaced. In the circumstances, and also by of apology for taking so long at this, I've decided that all eight finalists will each receive a signed copy of The Ghosts of Belfast. So, can each one of you please DM an email address to me via Twitter, or email me at info@stuartneville.com?

But what you probably want to know is: who was the ultimate winner? This tweet stood out for me because it had voice, a wonderful economy of words, painted a vivid picture, and let my own imagination do much of the work - exactly the kind of writing I enjoy, whether it's just a few words or a whole novel. That tweet was by @portiaalex, and it read thusly:

"Saw on the floor. Blood in the sink. Hair in the drain. Pie in the oven. Lunchtime."

Isn't that brilliant? Whatever @portiaalex's literary ambitions are, I have no doubt she will succeed. Writing like that isn't a fluke - that's skill and talent. So, well done to @portiaalex, drop me a line and we'll get your prize sorted.

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#GhostsOfBelfast Contest: The Shortlist!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 9:53 PM

Finally, more than two weeks late, here are the ten finalists for the #GhostsOfBelfast twitfic contest. For those who missed it, the idea was to write a scary story in a single tweet, including the hash tag #GhostsOfBelfast so I could find it. There were hundreds of entries, but due to a glitch with Twitter some of them were lost. Apologies to those whose tweets fell through the cracks, and thanks to those with the patience to tweet again so I could find you.

So, without further ado, here in alphabetical order are the ten tweets that most shivered my scary-bone:

@current_self: The long fingers pressed inexpertly at my throat. I gasped awake. "Just a dream, child," mother shushed me. "Just a dream."

@current_self: /Dress to Impress/, said the invite. Val began her cutting and stitching at her legs, adding the ribbons of her dreams.

@danielkjarrell: The Hunters Moon sets. Life ebbs as my clothes refill with straw and I sag against the post. Yearly cursed to a night alive.

@djpyle: My dog's spirit howled nightly until I tossed a yowling sack in the river and made him a litter of ghost kittens to chase.

@OHNOITSKEN: Fifty people pressed against each other for protection, scared. The lights flickered off and on. Only forty people now.

@portiaalex: Saw on the floor. Blood in the sink. Hair in the drain. Pie in the oven. Lunchtime.

@portiaalex: Dark alley. Man pets his cat. 'Sorry old friend,' he says. He clutches chest and dies. Cat nuzzles close and starts to eat.

@stacy_chambers: In his virtual world, he was God, and everyone did his bidding. In real life, he was a nobody. A nobody with a gun.

@stephy442: In life, I jilted my lover from afar. In death, she kept my best bits in a jar.

@twitbork: Half asleep, she felt his familiar form press against her body bringing waves of ecstasy. Even in death he knew her so well.

And there you have it. I'll blog about this at another time, but I've got to say how impressed I was by the entries. Painting such vivid pictures in so few words is no easy task, and my hat's off not only to the finalists, but to all those who almost made the cut.

Now for the voting...

Simplicity itself. To vote for your favourite finalist, simply tweet their screen name along with #GhostsOfBelfast. For example, if you wanted to waste a vote on me, you'd tweet "@stuartneville #GhostsOfBelfast". You can add other comments if you like, but it's those two key ingredients that will count. So, finalists and anyone else following this, get tweeting!

NOTE: Most unique votes wins - Each voter may only vote for one finalist - No multiple votes allowed - Voting closes at midnight on Saturday 21st November.

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#GhostsOfBelfast Emergency Contest Judgment Contingency Plan

Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 10:35 PM

So, Twitter is a big bag of arse. When I launched the #GhostsOfBelfast TwitFic contest just over a month ago, I assumed the entries would be available for searching in perpetuity. Apparently not. Therefore, I propose the following:

If you entered the #GhostsOfBelfast contest, just tweet the hash tag #GhostsOfBelfast one more time before midnight on Saturday, and I will spend Sunday finding all the entries using a third party website that can look back further given a username and a search term. It'll be a bit of a slog, but there were so many great entries that I don't want to let any slip past.

With any luck, I'll have the finalists some time on Monday. Apologies to all those who entered for the extra hassle this entails, and I thank you for your patience.

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What are you doing this Saturday night? Going to see James Ellroy in Belfast, of course.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009, 10:31 AM

This Saturday evening, I'll be talking with a certain James Ellroy on stage at Belfast Waterfront. By sheer coincidence, Mr. Ellroy just happened to be reading at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, Colorado, on the day I flew in to see Betsy Dornbusch. So Betsy, her husband Carlin and I all trooped over that evening to see the Demon Dog in the flesh.

James's monologue and reading was as entertaining as you could possibly want, and he proved to be open and amiable for the audience questions that followed. After the event, I was able to chat with my favourite author for a few minutes and grab this snap.

I'm looking forward to talking with James Ellroy again this Saturday night, but the difference is you'll be able to listen in. Tickets are available from the Waterfront box office (www.waterfront.co.uk) and from David Torrans at No Alibis (www.noalibis.com). This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone in Ireland who loves crime fiction to see its greatest living exponent up close and personal. You'd be a fool to miss it.