RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Day 249: Pretty Pretty Princess Trivia ANSWERS

Day 249:  Pretty Pretty Princess Trivia ANSWERS

TODAY’S STATS:

# of pages written: 5

# of literary mags submitted to: 2

 

Yesterday I made up some trivia questions for my own amusement (and yours, too!)  Here are the answers.

Pretty Pretty Princess Trivia: Children’s Books That Were Made Into Movies:  ANSWERS!

#1 In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the magical shoes Dorothy takes from the Wicked Witch are ruby. What color are they in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum?
silver

#2 What is the name (first and last) of the character played by Margaret Hamilton who is a mean woman in Kansas (who later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West) in the movie The Wizard of Oz?
Elmira Gulch

#3 Name two of Jess’s four sisters in the book Bridge to Terabithia.
Their names are May Belle, Joyce, Brenda, and Ellie

#4 Who plays Jess’s music teacher in the movie version of Bridge to Terabithia?
Zooey Deschanel

#5 What is Zero’s real name in the book Holes by Louis Sachar?
Hector Zeroni

#6 What is the one noticeable physical difference between the character Stanley Yelnats in the book Holes and Shia LeBouf, who plays Stanely in the movie version?
In the book Stanley is overweight (The movie’s pretty good otherwise.)

#7 Name 3 physical characteristics of “real witches” according to the book The Witches by Roald Dahl.
Real witches are bald with purple eyes and they have no toes. They also have large nostrils and think that children smell like dogs’ droppings.

#8 Which famous actress plays The Grand High Witch in the 1990 movie version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches?
Angelica Houston

#9 What candy does the White Witch give to Edmund in the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?
Turkish delight (yum!)

#10 James McAvoy, who played Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, starred in two different Oscar-winning movies. What were they?
Atonement and The Last King of Scotland

#11 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Name the two other books.
The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass

#12 Name the famous actor and actress who play Lyra’s parents in the movie version of The Golden Compass.
Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman (terrible casting choice – two blue-eyed parents can’t make a brown-eyed baby!)

#13 In what year was the final Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) released?
2007
#14 In what year was the final Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) released?
2011

Angelica Houston as The Grand High Witch in The Witches.

Angelica Houston as The Grand High Witch in The Witches.

 

How’d you score?

 

Day 248: Pretty Pretty Princess Trivia: Children’s Books That Were Made Into Movies

Day 248:  Pretty Pretty Princess Trivia:  Children’s Books That Were Made Into Movies

TODAY’S STATS:

# of pages written:  7

On Monday night my boyfriend and I went to trivia at Wonderland Ballroom in Washington, DC. Our team name was Pretty Pretty Princess Special, and I think we came in last place.

You see, the situation at Wonderland is that every trivia night has a different host, so you never really know what you’re going to get. What we got Monday night was a host obsessed with college basketball. This was not good news for Pretty Pretty Princess Special, whose areas of expertise include math, children’s literature, physics, and the lyrics to Less Than Jake songs. None of those, by the way, were round categories. Instead we had a round about March Madness and another round dedicated to “the Big Ten.”

“What’s the Big Ten?” I whispered to Paul.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I think they’re schools in the mid-west.”

“Excuse me,” I shouted out to the host, who stood on stage in a basketball jersey and baseball cap. “What’s the Big Ten?”

He stared at me like I had just asked him to explain where babies come from. “Uhhh, they’re eleven schools that are in the Big Ten Conference.”

“Is that for basketball?”

He said yeah, but he might as well have said duh and started slapping his hand against his chest like we used to do in the 90’s.

“So they’re schools that are good at basketball?” I clarified.

Now other people in the bar were starting to stare at me.

“They’re in the mid-west,” he said, looking uncomfortable. “State schools.”

The crowd began to murmur about whether or not I was going to shut up and let him read the first question, and when I looked at Paul, he was burying his face in his hand.

I turned to the rest of the bar and shouted, “there are no stupid questions!”

Only stupid trivia questions, I thought.

Paul and I proceeded to answer “Ohio” for every single question in the Big Ten round. We figured we’d be guaranteed one point that way. We then daydreamed about what our categories would be if we were to host Wonderland trivia night.

Naturally, one of the rounds would be about children’s literature. And so, as a way to make myself feel better after our crushing defeat Monday night, I have created this set of questions about children’s books that have been made into movies. Half of the questions are about the books, the other half about the movies. See what you know, without cheating, and I’ll post the answers next time.

Pretty Pretty Princess Special will rise again!

Pretty Pretty Princess Special will rise again!

Pretty Pretty Princess Trivia: Children’s Books That Were Made Into Movies

#1 In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the magical shoes Dorothy takes from the Wicked Witch are ruby. What color are they in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum?

#2 What is the name (first and last) of the character played by Margaret Hamilton who is a mean woman in Kansas (who later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West) in the movie The Wizard of Oz?

#3 Name two of Jess’s four sisters in the book Bridge to Terabithia.

#4 Who plays Jess’s music teacher in the movie version of Bridge to Terabithia?

#5 What is Zero’s real name in the book Holes by Louis Sachar?

#6 What is the most noticeable physical difference between the character Stanley Yelnats in the book Holes and Shia LeBouf, who plays Stanely in the movie version?

#7 Name 3 physical characteristics of “real witches” according to the book The Witches by Roald Dahl.

#8 Which famous actress plays The Grand High Witch in the 1990 movie version of The Witches?

#9 What candy does the White Witch give to Edmund in the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

#10 James McAvoy, who played Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, starred in two different Oscar-winning movies. What were they?

#11 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Name the two other books.

#12 Name the famous actor and actress who play Lyra’s parents in the movie version of The Golden Compass.

#13 In what year was the final Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) released?

#14 In what year was the final Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) released?

Day 246: An Open Letter to My Single Strand of Gray Hair

Day 246:  An Open Letter to My Single Strand of Gray Hair

 

Recently my friend, Daniel Wallace, got an open letter published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. If you don’t read their column “Open Letters to People or Entities Unlikely to Respond,” you really should start. The letters are often hilarious (like An Open Letter to the People in Charge of Commercials Targeting Women) and sometimes surprisingly bittersweet (like An Open Letter to Everyone Who, When My Fiancé Left Me, Told Me it Was “His Loss.” ).

When Daniel got his letter (An Open Letter to Canonical Authors) published, I was very excited and impressed. I’ve been trying to get in McSweeney’s for years, and had, in fact, sent them an open letter last year about my experience being emotionally swayed by a Levi’s Jeans commercial (An Open Letter to the Levi’s Jeans Company.)

Because of Daniel’s success, I decided to try again. I wrote a new letter and sent it to McSweeneys. Now, here’s the thing…  The letters are supposed to be non-fictional. And everything I wrote in my letter was true… It’s just not true right now. I kind of made it seem like I’m still a high school math teacher. It’s funnier that way. And I sort of exaggerated in general here and there.  But all non-fiction writers exaggerate, right?

I quickly received a pleasant no thank you from the McSweeney’s editors. Maybe they could tell that I was fibbing a little. Maybe they thought I sounded vain. Or maybe they just didn’t like my letter. Since there is no other literary outlet for open letters to people or entities unlikely to respond, whatever should I do with this letter?

Oh yeah. I can post it here. Enjoy!

 

An Open Letter to My Single Strand of Gray Hair


Dear Gray Hair,

First of all, you don’t have to worry. I’m not going to pluck you. I think it’s a wives’ tale that two will grow in your place, but I don’t want to take any chances. Besides, I have thin hair. I can’t afford to lose you.

Don’t get the wrong idea – it’s not that I don’t like you. I think you’re kind of cute, and having you makes me feel distinguished. I showed you to my high school students the other day when they were being really obnoxious.  I said, “look at what you all are doing to me!!” They rolled their eyes and said it wasn’t their fault I’m going gray. I’m just getting old.

You’d think this would upset me, but it was probably a good thing because sometimes my students think I’m closer to their age than I am, and then they start getting too fresh with me. One of the seniors – this boy who looks like The Situation from Jersey Shore – is always asking me if I’m going clubbing Friday night. And last semester one of the juniors kept accidentally-on-purpose touching my butt when he got up to go to the pencil sharpener. But nothing like this has happened since I showed you to everyone, so thank you, Gray Hair, for helping my horny students realize I’m way too old for them.

Anyway, welcome to my head! I wanted to check in with you and see how you’re doing. Did you turn gray from stress? Am I not eating enough veggies? Or is it really because I’m getting old? If it’s one of the first two options, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to have less stress or more salads in my life.

If it’s that I’m getting old, well, yeah. I understand. We all get old in the end, and it’s not that I’m scared of getting old, it’s that I’m scared of looking old. I’ve always gotten a lot with my youthful looks: dates and free drinks and a lucrative part-time job as a SoCo shot girl. I’ve gotten out of parking tickets and hospital bills and other jams by being the very portrait of ignorance. Those things don’t tend to happen once you’ve gone gray.

So I was wondering if you could talk to the other strands of hair around you and convince them to stay brown a little while longer. I mean, if it’s just one or two others that need to turn gray, to keep you company or whatever, that’s fine, but I still shop at Forever 21, and somehow I don’t think my mini-skirts and leggings will go well  with a head full of gray hair. And yeah, I know I could start dying my hair, but I don’t have the time, the money, or the know-how for that. I’ll mess it up, like every time I’ve cut my own bangs, and I’ll end up with hair the texture of straw and the color of Tang. So maybe you could convince the other hairs on my head to hold off on the graying process until after I’ve written a best-selling novel that gets turned into a movie, and I have extra money to spend on a fancy salon that will dye my hair for me.

I know this is a big favor to ask. I know you probably feel awkward, being the only gray hair in a thin sea of brown, and you’d probably like some other gray strands to hang out with. So if I have to get more gray hairs soon, can you at least try to arrange it so that I have a Cruella de Vil streak? I think that would be pretty bad ass, and maybe then my students would be scared of me and stop trying to touch my butt.

Although, to be honest, I don’t want them to stop trying to touch my butt. Because once they do, I’ll know that I’m really and truly old. And I worry that once the horny teenage boys lose interest in me, everyone else will, too. Maybe my boyfriend will lose interest because I’m not the pretty girl he fell in love with. Maybe potential agents for the novel I’m going to write won’t be interested because I’m not a “hot, young writer.” Maybe I won’t be able to get out of speeding tickets anymore. The thing is, when you’re young, or, at least, when you look young, people forgive you your mistakes, and they give you chances, and they care about you because even though you’ve done nothing particularly awesome, you have the potential to do awesome things. When you look old, maybe people think all your potential has been used up — turned gray and brittle like your hair — and they stop caring about you.

I know I should cherish you, dear Gray Hair, because you are a sign of maturity and experience, but in fact you scare me. Because you are also a sign that it’s not going to be about how I look for much longer. It’s going to be about who I really am and what I’m doing with my potential.  So I better start figuring those things out right away.  Thanks, I guess, for the wake-up call.

Most Sincerely,
Eva

 

 

Day 243: The Best YA Books You’ve Never Read, or, Read THIS, not THAT!

TODAY’S STATS:

# of pages of a short story written: 5

Everybody’s read the classics like Number the Stars and Tuck Everlasting and The Outsiders. (And if you haven’t read these, shame on you – visit your local library now!) Everybody’s heard of Harry Potter and the Twilight series. But there are a lot of wonderful YA books and series out there you may not have read or even heard of, and most of them you can enjoy just as much as a not-so-young adult.

THE BEST YA BOOKS YOU’VE NEVER READ

Rasmus and The Vagabond by Astrid Lindgren (1967)  By the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, this tale is realistic instead of fantastic, but just as fun. Shy Rasmus runs away from the orphanage, meets a hobo, and has an wild, yet heartwarming adventure.

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick (2000) Back before everybody and their moms were writing about post-apocalyptic worlds, Philbrick created this ingenious tale about a world where people are genetically improved and the new drug of choice is “mind-probing.”  I like to call it “A Clockwork Orange for children” because Philbrick has created his own slang, and it gives this book a hip, fun, frightening vibe. It’s not too much like A Clockwork Orange, though. Don’t be afraid to give this book to a child.

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (1969) I love this book so much – where to begin? Well, you should know that it inspired the song “Charlotte Sometimes” by the Cure, and Robert Smith admits to using lines from the book in his lyrics. It’s also just a wonderful novel involving time travel, séances, and girls at a solemn British boarding school. What else could you possibly want? It’s smart and beautiful and melancholy – the perfect book for snuggling up with on a cold, rainy day.

Robert Smith of The Cure loves the book Charlotte Sometimes.

Robert Smith of The Cure loves the book Charlotte Sometimes.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (1970) Of course you’ve read Charlotte’s Web, but have you read this one? About a swan who learns to play the trumpet and becomes a nightclub sensation, this book is absolutely charming.  Somehow, E.B. White manages to make everything sound totally plausible.

Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle (1986) We all love A Wrinkle in Time, but I think this story, about twin boys going back in time to just before the biblical flood, might be my favorite. It’s fascinating (and a little bit racy at times!) I highly recommend it.

The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher (1967). Back before trilogies were the “thing” Christopher wrote a legitimate series about life on earth, post-alien-takeover. In this case, the aliens may or may not be intelligent machines, and they control everyone through a metal “cap” that is implanted into the head on the day of the fourteenth birthday. Although the first book, The White Mountains, is good, my favorite is the second: The City of Gold and Lead. Then, of course, you’ll have to read the last one, too: The Pool of Fire.

Half Magic by Edward Eager (1954). Although set in the 1930’s, this book is timeless. About four children who find a magic talisman that takes them on unexpected adventures, the story is quirky, clever, and a lot of fun.

Callie’s Way by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur (1990)  Apparently there is another book called Callie’s Way on Amazon about a scantily-clad bitch who’s had it with men and their selfish ways. Please don’t get that one. Get the one with a plain girl on the front with a red backpack and barrettes in her hair. That’s the one you want. My grandma bought this book for me when I was eleven. It sat on my shelf for awhile unread because it wasn’t Sweet Valley Twins or Baby-sitters Club. When I finally gave it a chance, it became one of my favorite books. Although perhaps a little dated now (none of the characters have cell phones and everyone wears topsiders), it perfectly captures the emotional landscape of being a twelve-year-old girl. Callie as a narrator is funny and observant and pitch-perfect. If I could kiss Ruth Wallace-Brodeur, I would.

You want this one.

You want this one.

NOT this one.

NOT this one.

ASSIGNMENT:  

What were your favorite books as a youngster?  Go back and read them now, and see what you think.  Are they still just as good?

Day 241: Oz Tries to Please Too Many People: A Review of Oz the Great and Powerful

Day 241:  Oz Tries to Please Too Many People:  A Review of Oz the Great and Powerful

TODAY’S STATS:

# of literary mags submitted to: 1

There was a time in childhood when my greatest desire was to go to Oz. I read all the L. Frank Baum books the library had, dressed up as Dorothy one Halloween and the Scarecrow another, and watched both the 1939 Wizard of Oz and the 1985 Return to Oz films approximately fifty times each.

In case you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Return to Oz, I would venture to say that it is the creepiest of all the creepy 1980’s children’s movies.  It begins with Auntie Em taking Dorothy to the sanatorium because she won’t stop talking about Oz. The doctor is going to give Dorothy shock treatments, but she escapes and during a storm manages to get back to Oz.

In Oz, the Scarecrow has been dethroned, the yellow brick road has been destroyed, and the land is being terrorized by the Wheelies, horrifying creatures with wheels for hands and feet. Dorothy is imprisoned by an evil queen who has a hall full of sleeping heads – she’s obtained them by beheading beautiful girls and is waiting for Dorothy to get a little older so she can add her to the collection. There is a particularly disturbing scene where the heads come to life and the Queen chases Dorothy around headless. Eventually Dorothy and her rag-tag group of creepy friends escape from the witch’s castle and defeat the evil gnome king, the villain who had captured the Scarecrow. Oz is returned to “normal,” and Dorothy goes home happy, now realizing that she should just shut up about Oz so that she doesn’t get electro-shocked.

At this point you might ask, why was this one of your favorite movies as a child? It sounds nightmare-inducing. And yes, in some ways it was terrifying. But it was also completely and totally magical. Once you were transported with Dorothy to Oz, you were there, in another world, for better or for worse.

A wheelie from Disney's 1985 film, Return to Oz.

A wheelie from Disney’s 1985 film, Return to Oz.

Because of my love for all things Oz, I couldn’t stop myself from going to see Disney’s new movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, over the weekend. I knew what I was getting myself into –I’d seen the 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – and the movie met my (fairly low) expectations. I enjoyed the old-timey opening credits and the black-and-white Kansas scene. The China Girl was amazing, both in voice and visual effects, and I liked Zach Braff as a flying monkey.

Things that were harder to deal with included the cheap jokes, flimsy plot, and bad acting, most notably James Franco as the Wizard and Mila Kunis as the Wicked Witch of the West.

It seemed as if the movie was trying to please all of the following groups:

1. People who love 3-D movies. I chose not to see the movie in 3-D and was annoyed during the parts (a fairy spitting on Franco, the monsters in the forest, the entire cyclone scene) that were obviously there only for the 3-D effects.

2. Fans of the Oz books. In the movie Glinda is the witch of the south (like in the books) instead of the north (like in the 1939 movie). The Quadlings and the China Girl are also characters from the books.

3. Fans of the Judy Garland movie. The Wicked Witch of the West and the Emerald City look like they did in the 1939 movie. (In the book the Wicked Witch is one-eyed and the Emerald City only appears to be made of emeralds because everyone wears green-tinted glasses). The wicked witches are portrayed as sisters, just as in the 1939 film — although they could have at least given the witch of the east striped stockings.

4. Adults. There were some racy scenes between the Wizard and the wicked witch sisters, and there were some adult jokes here and there, such as when the assistant walks in on Oz romancing a woman and Oz yells about “the sock on the door.”

Oh yeah, and I guess the movie was trying to please children, too, wasn’t it?

Mila Kunis, I like you, but not as the Wicked Witch.

Mila Kunis, I like you, but not as the Wicked Witch.

After the movie I babbled about  a) how I could have been a much better Wicked Witch than Mila Kunis and b) how much I love the 1985 Return to Oz movie.

The two movies are so different. Return to Oz is heavy and disturbing while this new Oz the Great and Powerful is nothing but glitzy fluff. It’s hard to believe they are both Disney movies. I went home and looked up Return to Oz on Rotten Tomatoes and was surprised to see that it had actually gotten a rating of 55%. Critic comments include the following:

It’s bleak, creepy, and occasionally terrifying.
The disturbing/comforting ratio tilts conclusively towards the former.
…a harder, colder looking fantasy world 

So the critics agree that the movie is creepy and terrifying. And I understand that not everyone wants that. I’m sure a lot of people wanted another technicolor candy musical and were disappointed by this new, darker version. But you know what, at least Return to Oz had a vision, and it stuck to it. It’s vision was that Oz is a magical land, and that magic is sometimes wonderful and sometimes scary. It didn’t sugar coat, and it certainly didn’t try to please everyone.

Unlike Disney’s latest Oz film. There was nothing remotely scary, or wonderful, about Oz the Great and Terrible. The adult jokes and 3-D tricks brought me out of the land of Oz and into the minds of the movie makers, who obviously tried to figure out what would be the most entertaining to the largest number of people. Instead of narrowing their vision and making a movie that sticks to one, consistent tone, they threw together a little bit of everything, and the movie became a hodge-podge of nothing. Sure, there were entertaining bits, but it wasn’t magic. Magic takes a chance.

*   *  *

I want to keep this in mind as I start my next novel. Of course I want everyone to like my novel, but if I try to please everyone, I will end up pleasing no one. Unlike Oz the Great and Powerful, I need to stay consistent in tone and true to my vision. The worst thing is for readers to be pulled out of the world I’ve created because they can see my hand, trying too hard to entertain them.

Day 239: Babies, Weddings, and the Road Less Traveled

Day 239:  Babies, Weddings, and the Road Less Traveled

Check out this poem I wrote on Burlesque Press’s new Variety Show blog

TODAY’S STATS:

# of writing contests entered: 1

# of literary mags submitted to: 2

The other day I was talking to my Ukrainian student, Natalia, about baby showers. I’ve been to a lot of them, and they are all pretty much the same. We wear binkies around our necks and play games like taste the baby food (is it bananas or strained squash?), and we look at melted candy bars inside diapers and try to tell the Snickers from the Butterfingers from the Baby Ruth. We eat strawberries from a fruit tray and drink sparkling lemonade and watch the mother-to-be open her pastel-wrapped presents. The word cute is uttered approximately sixty times a minute.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s what a baby shower is.

Me with a baby (not mine).

Me with a baby (not mine).

Speaking of other events that involve showers, my friends Cory and Melissa are getting married this October. “Have you started planning the wedding?” I asked Melissa on the phone yesterday.

“No,” she groaned. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing or when.”

“I think there are websites,” I suggested, “that help you organize and plan.”

“Ugh,” she said. “Those websites are overwhelming.”

It’s true. According to the wedding planning websites, you need approximately a million things for the reception, including, but certainly not limited to, a photo booth, hand-stamped place cards, and a chocolate fountain at the dessert table.

“I keep thinking this is what a wedding is, it has to have all these things,” Melissa said. “I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t have to have anything. It can be whatever I want.”

“Exactly,” I said. “If you want the groomsmen dressed like newsies, that’s your prerogative.” (This was a desire Melissa had expressed earlier, by the way, not a random suggestion of my own.)

“I know I don’t have to have a traditional wedding,” Melissa sighed. “I know I can do what I want. The problem is, I don’t know what I want.”

*   *   *

We’ve all had this problem before. We’re not sure what we want, so we do what everybody else has done before us. We take the well-traveled road because we don’t know of any other way.

I keep thinking that there is only one path to being a successful writer. That being a successful writer is getting an agent, publishing best-selling, prize-winning novels, and having the novels made into movies starring Johnny Depp. I keep obsessing over the idea that I have to get an agent and publish novels. But maybe there are other ways to finding a successful career in writing.

Because, in fact, there ARE other ways to do just about anything. I’d taken for granted the baby showers had to be pre-birth and involve baby food games, but when I talked to Natalia she told me in the Ukraine they wait until some point in the child’s second year, and then the family has a modest celebration.

For everything you think has to be a certain way, there’s someone who’s broken the rules. Take my friend Degra’s baby shower. She invited men and women, the cake was black, and we played bizarre games like “bobbing for babies.” (Yes, it was a bit morbid to see a bucket of water with plastic baby dolls floating face down in it, but it was also hilariously awesome.) Or take my friends John and Angelyn’s wedding. Angelyn walked down the aisle to the Imperial March from Star Wars, and we all drank tall boys of PBR at the reception. When it comes to weddings and showers, and your life in general, you can pretty much do what you want as long as you have the gumption.  Don’t think “this is how it has to be;” instead, think “what do I want it to be?”

That doesn’t solve Melissa’s dilemma, though – that she doesn’t know what she wants. And that doesn’t solve my problem, either. I can’t get it out of my head that what I want is an agent and best-selling novel.  Although what if I only think that’s what I want because I don’t know of any other way?

Maybe everything I’m doing these days – writing this blog, going to conferences, submitting to magazines, experimenting with different writing styles — is my way of hunting around in the under brush for a new path. Maybe I’ll discover a winding and weed-choked road that will lead me, eventually, to a successful writing career. What is it they say about the road less traveled? Oh yeah. It makes all the difference.

And to Melissa, I say, slap some newsie caps on the boys and pop the champagne. We’ll have a great time no matter what.

Me talking to John at his wedding and drinking a tallboy.

Me talking to John at his wedding and drinking a tallboy.

Day 235: 10 Crazy Cool Writing Contests

Day 235:  10 Crazy Cool Writing Contests

TODAY’S STATS:

# of writing contests entered: 2

 My general advice about contests is to enter a few a year, just for kicks, but don’t expect anything.  In fact, best to submit and forget.  The odds are not in your favor.  That being said, look for contests that give a free subscription with your entry fee, like Narrative or Indiana Review.  Look at the judges — do you like their work?  If not, they might not like yours.  Also look at the prizes.  If the prize is $100 and the entry fee is $20, it’s probably not worth it.

As I was combing through various writing magazines, I came across the following contests that jumped out at me for their craziness, their coolness, and, sometimes, for their cost-effectiveness.  Be sure to read all the details carefully on the websites.  These are my descriptions, not theirs.

CRAZY COOL WRITING CONTESTS:

Tattoo-Haiku2: For only $5 you can enter the 555 Collective’s haiku contest for a chance to win a $555 Amazon gift certificate. All proceeds go to Cedar Tree Inc., a writing program for at-risk youth, and the winning haiku will be tattooed on the editor.

The Glass Woman Prize: Is only open to women authors who are former readers for the prize, which seems pretty fair to me. They had to suffer through a bunch of bad stories — they deserve to be awarded.  Just become a reader this year then enter the contest next year with your fiction or nonfiction piece. Winner gets $500.

Dancing Poetry Contest: The three grand prize winners not only receive $100, they also will see their poem “danced” at the Dancing Poetry Festival. All prizewinners (21 in all) will get tickets to the festival, a reading opportunity at the festival, and a” certificate suitable for framing.” Only $5 to enter.

The Burlesque Press Hands-On Contest & Dark Contest: Enter your fiction, nonfiction, or poetry piece for a chance to win a free registration to the 3-day  Hands-On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball  being held in New Orleans this New Year’s Eve. Winners will also receive a $250 stipend and a featured reading at the festival. For the Dark Contest (enter your mystery, noir, macabre, etc. fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) winners will get all of that great stuff, but for one of the 2014 BP writing retreats: Krakow, Poland or Edinburgh, Scotland – your choice.

Sixfold Writer Voted Contest: Do you think the snooty writing contest judges don’t know good literature when they see it? Well, for a $6 fee you can upload your short story or poem then vote within your genre to determine the winning manuscripts. First/second/third places get $1000/$200/$100.

Gemini Short Story Contest: No restrictions on content, style, genre, or length. So, basically, send them whatever. Just make sure it’s good. The fee is only $4, and the prize is $1000, so I’d say this one is definitely cost-effective.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest: Sure, the entry fee is $16 (still a steal compared to others), but with ten cash prizes totaling $5,550, and a top prize of $3,000, this is another cost-effective contest.

Literal Latte: Offers five annual contests with a fee of $10 each, but you can get discounts if you enter more than one. Submit to the fiction, flash fiction, poetry, or essay contest. Of, if you like to wax poetic about all the wonderful things there are to eat, consider entering their food verse contest.

The Playboy College Fiction Contest: It’s only $5 to enter for a chance at winning $3000 and publication in Playboy. I won third place in 2009 (no publication, but I got a $1000 check from Hugh Hefner), and trust me, my story was not sexy in the least. As long as you’re in college (grad school counts), send them the best, most crowd-pleasing story you’ve got.

Here is a magical purple mushroom for good luck.

Here is a magical purple mushroom for good luck.