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The Cloud Writing Competition

Join A Project to Create the Internet's First Workshop - Based Novel

Winning entries receive a publishing contact for inclusion in the published novel.

TheNextBigWriter in conjunction with Odin Roark of iPOV BOOKS present the first workshop-built-novel. The novel will be comprised of individual chapters/short stories written by different writers from TheNextBigWriter around a central theme and premise.

The Cloud

The novel project called THE CLOUD is a concept created by Odin Roark based on a premise that challenges religion, commerce, and science, as well as general behavior in the 21st century.  The plot involves reactions to a dark gray cloud that takes residence over the skies of Las Vegas in August of 2013 and is still there at the book’s conclusion in January 2014.  The genre of this book is literary.

Thought at first to be just another incident of weather, the cloud ultimately becomes a concern for both science and religion, as over the course of several months, it seems to be moving only a few miles at a time, always returning to a similar position over Las Vegas.  Given the seeming permanency of the cloud, science investigates, coming up with no answer as to how and why it refuses to move away or extinguish itself.

City coffers begin to suffer for a lack of sunshine, and low hotel bookings begin to pose serious problems to tourism.  Conventions, vacations and weekend getaways continue to be impacted, as well as the job market.  Layoffs begin, casino profits plunge, and for the first in its history, concern for the bottom-line compels the city to conserve energy by shutting down 30% of their night lighting after 10 PM. 

Writer Guidelines

The Cloud will consist of a minimum of 10 different short stories based around the premise of the cloud. Each writer may submit as many stories/entries as they want.

To see the full entry guidlines as well as the full Contest Rules and Regulations, please click here.

The plot of your story should surround The Cloud’s impact on your characters' personal lives, as well as their careers, either now or in the future if the cloud doesn’t dissipate.  Such characters can be residents or visitors to the city, or as outlined above, reside in another city.



The writers whose stories are selected as winners will receive a Publishing Contract to have their story published as part of the The Cloud Anthology. 50% of the net proceeds will be equally shared by the estimated 15 to 20 authors. 50% of the remaining net proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the formation of a charity fund developed by Odin Roark that will provide computers for children in developing countries.

Story Timeline

In order for all authors to be writing with a mutual understanding of the Cloud’s timetable of existence, the following progression of general events surrounding the phenomena should be adhered to in your depiction of its effect on your characters.

The time is a few years in the future, but this it not a science-fiction project. 

August 10, 2013 - Cloud moves in overnight and greets the morning with the look of a doomsday.  Most take it in stride, but from the beginning, some residents of the city and a handful of tourists see it as something ominous.

August 17, 2013 – Tourists complain to the hotels that their vacations were a bust, that heavy cloud cover spoiled everything.  Merchants notice little difference in sales, as most merchandizing takes place indoors. Local weathermen and women experience a bonanza of popularity.

August 24, 2013 – Even though there is a few-mile drift back and forth of the cloud each day, meteorologists and other weather experts begin to take the lack of substantial movement seriously. Church attendance increases in Las Vegas and congregations and clergy begin addressing the concerns of their flocks.

Hotels start to get contingency bookings for conventions. Everyday tourists ask for more concessions in light of the dark weather.

With the gradual drop in tourism, merchants start becoming concerned.

Solar heated industrial operations begin to feel the cost of oil for their back-up generators.  A couple of the big hotels relying on solar power for part of their energy needs see a spike in energy costs.

August 31, 2013 – With the cloud in its 3rd week, Washington sends reps to the city to meet with scientists.

Several evangelist organizations move their TV operations temporarily to Las Vegas in order to be closer to what some are beginning to call Armageddon and the antecedent to the second coming.

Travel agents and hotels are receiving more and more cancellations.

Merchants start to panic.

September 7, 2013 - Washington orders Homeland Security and the Defense Department to send weather balloons and reconnaissance planes to investigate the cloud.

The city's hotels begin to lose significant money as the precipitous drop in tourism and convention bookings continue.  Entertainment acts for the next two months are cancelled and hotel marquees begin to show “B” list talent bookings.

Merchants begin closing their doors.  Going out of business signs pop up, giving the tourist industry headaches.  Behind the closed doors of the Casinos, there is talk of sending “persuaders” out to prevent further closings by merchants and especially “the strip” shops.

September 14, 2013 - TV news shows are now dominated by pundits offering every explanation possible gleaned through interviews with those supposedly “in the know.”  Talk shows and satirical news shows experience astronomical ratings.

Working in secrecy, several scientists create what they think is a way to break up the cloud.

Weather balloons and other hi-tech equipment determine that the cloud has all of the regular properties of a - a cloud.  Wind patterns notwithstanding, they can’t determine why it’s not moving away or breaking up.

Las Vegas unemployment spikes to 12%.

The State of Nevada worries that tax payments are going to plummet from the loss of jobs and declining tourism.

Jumping To December 27, 2013

New Year's Eve bookings are a disaster. 

Religious zealots are on every street corner preaching the end of the world.

The Governor is discussing with Washington an anticipated state of emergency as more and more people are moving out of the city, causing mayhem for the state transportation department and local law enforcement.

Two hotel/casinos close.

Closed storefronts experience looting.

A new TV reality series has planted itself on the strip to broadcast the unfolding mayhem live.

Discount flights into Vegas drop to $20.00 each way from anywhere in America.  The Hotels agree to pay the retail travel difference to the airlines.

January 2014 - ????


Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost to this competition?

You must be a member of TheNextBigWriter to enter this contest. There is a nominal fee for membership which provides you with entry into one of the most advanced online writing workshops on the Web. As a member, some of what you'll receive includes:

  • Unlimited workshopping of your novels, poems, and short stories.
  • Entry into other competitions such as the Droubble/Drabble competition and the Chaiku competition.
  • Access to a vibrant community of writers and readers.

For more on TheNextBigWriter membership, please click here. Or to preview the site for free, sign up as a Review Member .

How Do I Enter?

When you are posting your writing on the site, be sure to add the following term in the tag box: the_cloud. If you forgot to add it or did not add it correctly, you can add it later by going to Your Account, clicking the title of the story, and then clicking the Edit Main Story Information link. Find the tag box, add the term the_cloud and then click the submit button at the bottom of the page. You should then see your entry in the official list.

Do I have to review other writers to submit my entry?

It depends. If you are a new member, you can submit your first post without needing to review any other writers and earn posting credits. If you have already posted a piece on the site, then you will need to review other writers to accumulate the points needed to post your entry.

Please note that TheNextBigWriter is an online writing workshop. The peer-review process is an integral part of the site and members find it is an invaluable tool for improving their writing and an enjoyable part of the writing experience.

How much will I have to review and how much time will it take?

As a rule of thumb, you'll have to review 4 similar-length posts to post one of your own. You accumulate credits by reviewing other writers and use these credits to post your own chapters. New members receive bonus credits and can post their first chapter without having to do any reviews. Time-pressed members can purchase credits from the credit bank instead of reviewing.

Reviewing generally takes 30-40 minutes for a typical short story, depending on your reading speed. Reviews are usually between 100-300 words.

Can I submit more than one entry to the competition?

Yes. You can submit as many entries as you like.

I'm from a country that isn't eligible to enter the competition. Why are some countries excluded?

This has to do with international competition law. Each country in the world has different regulations regarding competitions and we do not have the resources to research all of them at the moment. For example, the Province of Quebec requires that all competition material be duplicated in French, something we don't have the money or expertise to do. We picked the largest English speaking countries and researched those to ensure we were in compliance. We apologize if your country is not on the list and will do our best to add you in the future. Until then, we hope you will use the rest of the features on TheNextBigWriter.com.

Do I give up any rights to my work by entering this contest?

No, per our member agreement, you retain all rights to everything you post.

If you have additional questions, please post them in our Strongest Start Competition 2009 Forum hosted on TheNextBigWriter.com.

Do you have any experience publishing books?

Yes, TheNextBigWriter previously published My Writing Life: 10 Tales of Writing Passion.

Contest Deadline: January 21, 2010

How to Enter

»Full Competition Rules and Regulations
»The Cloud Novel Forum
»Sample Publishing Contract

»View all entries


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