The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

The winner of the 2013 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Chris Wieloch of Brookfield, WI, who writes: “Since it is too easy to unmask an imposter in these days of the Internet I am forced into the rather boring truth. I am a late middle aged male who has been lucky enough to be married to a woman I love for 31 years. I have 3 male children of college age. I have a wonderful family life. I am an engineer by trade and training and am intrigued by science. I enjoy the creative/inventive side of this and hold more than 60 patents on a wide variety of things. I have an engineering and technology development business. I find the world a magical place and the people who live in it fascinating. I love books, poetry, music and art. Language has always fascinated me. An artful turn of phrase or a great line can stay with me for days. I stumbled on the Bulwer-Lytton Contest this year for the first time. I laughed loud and long. I was awed at how truly awful language could be on purpose. I was hooked immediately and had many days of great fun composing my own chance at immortality. The downside of this is that I continue to have horrible little lines popping up in my head at the oddest times. I will be throwing these turds at this contest for years to come. To even be considered bad enough be named a finalist is beyond any hope I had. Thank you.”

Winner:

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination. — Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI

Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award

“Don’t know no tunnels hereabout,” said the old-timer, “unless you mean the abandoned subway line that runs from Hanging Hill, under that weird ruined church, beneath the Indian burial ground, past the dilapidated Usher mansion, and out to the old abandoned asylum for the criminally insane where they had all those murders.” — Lawrence Person, Austin, TX

Winner: Adventure

“I told you to wear sensible shoes, but no, your vanity would not allow it!” he yelled at me as if that had something to do with the airplane crashing into the jungle and all the bodies draped in the trees, but it was just the sort of nonsense I was used to from him, making me wish one or the other of us was hanging dead above us, instead of Rodney. — Thor F. Carden, Madison, TN

Runner-Up:

  • As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course. — Ron D Smith, Louisville, KY

Dishonorable Mentions:

  • It was a tricky situation, given the complex behavioral instincts of the Lowland Gorilla, and this accidental group encounter with a silver-backed dominant male was taxing Professor Wiesenheimer’s knowledge of interspecies primate interaction to the limit, yet confidently and without hesitation, he turned to his startled pupils and whispered, “Run like Hell.” — Mark Watson, Raleigh, NC

Winner: Crime

It was such a beautiful night; the bright moonlight illuminated the sky, the thick clouds floated leisurely by just above the silhouette of tall, majestic trees, and I was viewing it all from the front row seat of the bullet hole in my car trunk. — Tonya Lavel, Barbados, West Indies

Winner: Fantasy

The fairies of Minglewood, which is near Dingly Pool, were having a grand revel with flower-cakes, and butterfly dances, looking ever so pretty, while Queen Bellaflora swept her wand o’er the waterfall’s foam, making it pop like the snot-bubbles on your baby sister’s face. — Janine Beacham, Busselton, WA, Australia

Runner-Up

  • There once was a nasty, evil troll who lived beneath a bridge and took pleasure in collecting gold from the unsuspecting users of the infrastructure; however, no one used the bridge because an evil troll lived under it so the troll didn’t do much of anything. — Rachel Flanigan, Honolulu, HI

Winner: Historical Fiction

The Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered around the feast, a veritable cornucopia of harvest and game, a gastronomic monument to the bountiful biodiversity of the land, and while Mrs. Standish’s cranberry sauce was a far cry from the homogeneous gelatinous can-imprinted sacrosanct blob which has become the holiday’s sine qua non, the rest of the food was good. — Jordan Kaderli, Dallas, TX

Winner: Horror

Even though Letitia had brushed her teeth, Draco could still smell her garlicky breath, but assuming her blood would at least be toxin free, if not particularly appetizing – because of the antibiotic properties of the garlic’s allicin, an organosulfur compound – he gleefully plunged his incisors into her throbbing jugular vein. — Maggie Lyons, Callao, VA

Runner-Up:

  • Count Glandula’s castle flickered with eerie lights, where the immortal villain slaked his evil thirst in the dungeons with innocent victims – two moldy old peasants because the virtuous maidens had all been taken by the hot teenaged vampires down the road whose breath wasn’t so icky. — Janine Beacham, Busselton, WA, Australia

Winner: Romance

On their first date he’d asked how much she thought Edgar Allan Poe’s toe nails would sell for on eBay, and on their second he paid for subway fair with nickels he fished out of a fountain, but he was otherwise charming and she thought that they could have a perfectly tolerable life together. — Jessica Sashihara, Martinsville, NJ

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

  • The dark and foreboding landscape was littered with crumbling castles, collapsed crypts, and earthworks for forgotten fortresses wherein lurked those most dastardly of degenerates, whose blood curdling cries made the lives of the locals a living hell – the historical reenactment society. — Phil Davies, Cardiff, UK

Much of this is reprinted from http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2013win.html I picked my favorite parts to share with you. If they don’t cause you to laugh right out loud, they should at the very least provoke a groan – hope you enjoy! PJ

Can Internet-only Promotion Really Work? by Velda Brotherton

newVeldaCan Internet-only Promotion Really Work?

By Velda Brotherton

It’s interesting to note how many writers do not use the Internet to promote their books. Is it enough to do personal appearances? How many of those can we afford to do nowadays with gas being so high and bookstores closing right and left? When my novels came out in 2012 and 2013 I could no longer handle physical appearances, so I made the tough decision to use the Internet to promote myself and my work. Occasionally I’ll do a book signing or conference appearance, but not often enough to make a spike in sales.

Just think of it. Sitting in an office and touching people all over the globe with information about your writing, your books, and your life as a writer. Yet it was a tough decision for several reasons. I like talking to readers and writers, and all I knew about my computer was writing and formatting manuscripts. So the first step was to devote time to learning what I’d have to know. Since I had a few manuscripts lying around, I could spend a full summer on that project.

First I submitted a couple of new manuscripts to small publishers, then went to work.

I had an Amazon Page, a website, and three blogs on Blogger. I belonged to a couple of organizations that had Yahoo groups online. I joined LinkedIn and Good Reads. Quickly I realized this was not enough to get my brand out there. It is more important to become known by your name than by an individual book. People know you and like you, then they’ll just naturally want to read your books.

So I added Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and then Pinterest when it arrived on the scene. I’ve discovered it’s not enough to use these sites, but it’s important to learn the secrets of using them well, which I’m still in the process of doing. Take one at a time and conquer the ins and outs.

I promote online for two days out of my six-day writing week. Joining writing groups on Yahoo, Linked In and Google has afforded me the most information on promotion sites online. There writers share sites they have found, they offer to host bloggers, to review books, or share sites that perform those tasks. With good organization, you can post on these quickly and efficiently. Ask friends to repost, re-pin, and re-tweet to double, triple and go beyond with your posts. A blog is a must, and I moved those on Blogger to Word Press where I could get more pages for my books and other subject matter.

There are also what I call virtual book stores online. These are sites that will display your book cover(s), something about ThePurloinedSkullFC300(1)you and the book and a buy link. This gives readers the opportunity to browse specific books without getting lost in the millions of books on Amazon. Most of these are free or have a small minimal sign-up fee. Ask David is such a site, and it is exceptional. For a basic small one-time fee it will exhibit all your books and promote them. There are many genre-related promo sites. Google for them.

Don’t forget that when you post on Facebook, you aren’t limited to your own personal site. There are many group sites that will allow you to join and post information of your own, such as Incredible Indie Ebooks. If you belong to a writer’s group, it often has a Facebook page where members can post.

Beware: Don’t turn into a spammer. Post interesting information about all sorts of subjects, like something from one of your books or something you learned while researching for that book.

For instance while researching for my recent book, The Purloined Skull, the first of my series, A Twist of Poe Mysteries. I learned that Edgar Allan Poe did not receive any royalties for his re-published short story, The Purloined Letter, because at the time there were no International Royalty laws.

cover4When researching for Once There Were Sad Songs, my hero rode a Harley Motorcycle, so one day I was driving through Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and there was a motorcycle gathering for the weekend. Spotting a few guys with their bikes parked, I pulled over. They were eager to answer all my questions, and I had a great time visiting with them. Did you know that if you jump one of those heavy Harleys you’re liable to ruin the shocks or worse wreck it? But it is often done by guys with a death wish. So, in my book, my hero, a veteran with a death wish, jumps his bike off a bluff down onto the sandy shoreline of a creek and lives to tell about it.

There I told you about two of my books without spamming you, because I included something you might think interesting. Make yourself easy to find by posting everywhere possible.

Website: http://www.veldabrotherton.com

Blog: http://www.veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

FB: http://www.facebook.com/vebrotherton

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/veldabrotherton

How about you? What can you add to share experiences in online promotion?

BROWSING, METAPHOR OF COWS by Nancy Springer

I was fascinated when my first copyeditor told me that “main force” comes from the French for “force of hand” and it was therefore inappropriate for me to have a character kick someone with main force. (It was a fantasy novel, and I was young. Forgive me.) At the time I was teaching a creative writing workshop, and I shared my new and exciting insight with the class, adding similar niceties, such as how “nit-picking” refers to the eggs of lice and is not to be confused with knit-picking the fuzz balls off of sweaters, and a “strait jacket” is not straight but tight, like the Straits of Magellan or the Biblical “strait and narrow path,” which is not straight either. I went on to explain what it meant to be on “tenterhooks,” meaning the hooks on which canvas is stretched to make tents, having nothing to do with fishhooks or tenderness. And I was just about to explain that “spitting image” is ludicrous, the old term being “spit (spirit) and image,” when a student raised her hand and asked plaintively, “Do we have to know all this stuff to be a writer?”

At the time I became speechless, slack-jawed with astonishment at the apparent fact that she did not want to know “all this stuff.” But once I got home and had time to mull over what she had said, in bed, which is where I do my best mulling (not a mixed metaphor; “mulling” as cogitation is simply a homonym for the process of heating, sweetening or spicing beverages such as wine) – once I had time to consider, ponder, and ruminate (metaphor of cows?), YES, I decided, writers should know all this stuff, or at the very least they should want to know it. What had taken me so very much aback, or by surprise (note to self: look up “aback”) was that anyone who wanted to be a writer should ask such a question, because how could anyone possibly want to be a writer if she did not like words?

(“To take aback” turns out to be a nautical metaphor, referring to the wind pushing against the wrong side of sails and sending the ship backwards. It does not, as I had conjectured, refer to being attacked from behind. I am relieved to have cleared this up in my own mind.)

My first copyeditor has long since given up the ghost (or perhaps her spit) and I have had oodles of copyeditors since, and I still welcome every new word or nuance of words I can learn from them. To be a writer one must like words. Arguably, one must love them. And to love them means to learn and respect their nuances, their connotations, and their derivations so as to choreograph them to best effect.

Here are some worthwhile words from my big, new novel, Dark Lie: candor, verity, fulcrum, malar (referring to the rash on my protagonist’s face; she has lupus) and Mylar (balloons). Ascenders, descenders, arcades and garlands as jargon of handwriting analysis. Sociopath as differentiated from psychopath. Psychopomp, meaning shaman without the tribal connotations.

Prismatic, luminous, pellucid, limpid lake of light – all are words that might be used to describe the near-death experience. But I guess maybe the more important words in Dark Lie are simpler: daughter, mother, danger, suspense, dark, secret, love.

AUTHOR BIO
Nancy Springer has written fifty novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres that include mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. Dark Lie is her first venture into adult suspense.

Born in New Jersey, Nancy Springer lived for many decades near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of Civil War fame, raising two children, writing, riding horseback, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.