Another Dark and Stormy Night

Another Dark and Stormy Night
Terry Odell

Bulwer-LyttonIt’s time for a fun break. I look forward to the annual announcement of winners and dishonorable mentions of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. For those who might be unfamiliar with it, here’s the skinny from their website.

Since 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to the worst novel never written. The whimsical literary competition honors Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.”

The contest receives thousands of entries each year, and every summer our Panel of Undistinguished Judges convenes to select winners and dishonorable mentions for such categories as Purpose Prose and Vile Puns.

Last year, PJ Parrish did an in-depth analysis of several entries. But, as I said, I’m posting this as a fun break. For those who want to work, feel free to look at these openings as if they were submitted for First Page Critiques here at TKZ. Do they meet the criteria? Start with action? Identify the protagonist? Establish setting? Make you want to keep reading?

The 2021 Grand Prize goes to Stu Duval of Auckland, New Zealand.

“A lecherous sunrise flaunted itself over a flatulent sea, ripping the obsidian bodice of night asunder with its rapacious fingers of gold, thus exposing her dusky bosom to the dawn’s ogling stare.”

More winners in other categories

Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award

“Victor Frankenstein admired his masterpiece stretched out on the lab slab; it was almost human, OK, no conscience or social awareness, and not too bright, but a little plastic surgery to hide the scars and bolts, maybe a spray tan and a hairdo, and this guy could run for President!”  David Hynes, Bromma, Sweden


Adventure

“When I asked our novice Safari guide Guy Pommeroy to identify what that roaring sound was he replied (and these were his last words), “It sounds to me like someone with a bad case of bronchitis; I’ll check and be right back.” Greg Homer, San Vito, Costa Rica


Crime & Detective

“The Big Joe Palooka murder wasn’t just another killing, another homicide, another manslaughter, another slaying, another hit, another whack, another rubbing-out, another bumping-off, another assassination, another liquidation, another extermination, another execution—but it was nothing new for Johnny Synonymous, Obsessive-Compulsive Crime Fighter.”  Paul Scheeler, Buffalo, NY


Dark & Stormy

“It was a dark and stormy . . . morning, Gotcha! — this is just the first of innumerable twists and turns that you, dear Reader, will struggle to keep abreast of as I unfold my tale of adventure as second plumber aboard the hapless SS Hotdog during that fateful summer of 1974.”  Louise Taylor, Paris, France


Historical Fiction

“Choking back his frustration at his parents, Marcus Licinius Junius Dextus Sextus Gnaeus Castor Ligantor Germanicus barked his name *again* at the boatman holding the list, certain that the man was toying with him, whilst in the background Mount Vesuvius rumbled like a pregnant woman with severe morning sickness.” Dave Hurt, Harrogate, England


Romance

“Their eyes had met and they’d had coffee, but now Miss latte-mocha-with-a-chai-twist bid a wistful adieu to Mr. black-cup-of-Joe-strong-enough-to-walk-over-and-beat-up-the-cheese-Danish, and they parted.”  CP Marsh, Urbana, IL


Science Fiction

“Believe it or not Ripley refrained from firing her laser at the alien creature lurking in the starship’s ceiling above the crew’s happy hour gathering, its dripping secretions burning through the titanium floor like it was made of cheap wet toilet paper, when she discovered by sheer accident that just one drop of the oozing substance reacted with the contents of her cocktail glass to produce a martini so perfect that 007 himself would have betrayed Queen and country for just one sip, as long as it was shaken and not stirred.”  Reinhold Friebertshauser, Chagrin Falls, OH


Western

“After commandeering the Black Dog Saloon for a day and a half to lay out every map, zoning ordinance, and land deed in the Territory, and after checking and rechecking their cartographic calculations, Tumbleweed Mulligan and Johnny “Trigger” McAllister were forced to admit that there might just be room in this town for the both of them.”  Ben Connor, Wilmington, Delaware


Vile Puns

“One time at the hoagie shop the actress Ms. O’Hara asked what the tiny pimiento-stuffed thing in my cheddar-bread sandwich was and I had to respond: “Wee olive in a yellow sub, Maureen.”  Fr. Jerry Kopacek, Elma, IA


Purple Prose

“She had a deep, throaty laugh, like the sound a dog makes right before it throws up.”  Janie Doohan, Walla Walla, WA


See the complete list, including the “Dishonorable Mentions.”

What say you, TKZers. Want to tackle critiquing any of these?


Trusting Uncertainty by Terry OdellAvailable Now Trusting Uncertainty, Book 10 in the Blackthorne, Inc. series.
You can’t go back and fix the past. Moving on means moving forward.


Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tips for Writing for Television

Tips for Writing for Television
Terry Odell

Writing for Television

Image by Bokskapet from Pixabay

Are you a fan of television mystery shows? Ever thought of writing one? Or any kind of television show? If so, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.
  2. If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of year.
  3. It’s easy for anyone to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down
  4. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off, even while SCUBA diving.
  5. The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.
  6. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.
  7. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds
  8. When paying for a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a bill—just grab one at random. It will always be the correct fare.
  9. During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
  10. Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.
  11. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.
  12. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.
  13. All single women have a cat.
  14. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.
  15. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts. Your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one, by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessor.
  16. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish
  17. Dogs always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.
  18. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their archenemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gases, lasers, and man eating sharks that will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.
  19. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.
  20. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

Okay, tongue was inserted firmly in cheek. But sometimes, you just want to sit back and have some fun.

Any favorites among these? Any to add?


Trusting Uncertainty by Terry OdellNow available for Preorder. Trusting Uncertainty, Book 10 in the Blackthorne, Inc. series.
You can’t go back and fix the past. Moving on means moving forward.


Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned from my Parents

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

If you’ve never read humorist Robert Fulghum, treat yourself by buying his books. His most famous one is ‘All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.’ More than 17 million copies of his books are in print, in 31 languages, in 103 countries.

On the downloads tab of his website, he had a delightful offering – Argentina Tango Chronicles – tales from a solo traveler. Since I am traveling solo to northern Italy in the fall, I can’t wait to read how Fulghum makes the most of his trips where he reinvents himself in foreign lands. Yes, he even changes his name.

Robert Fulghum grew up in Waco, Texas. In his youth he worked as a ditch-digger, newspaper carrier, ranch hand, and singing cowboy. After college, he had a brief career with IBM, but he wasn’t satisfied. After completing his graduate degree in theology, he served 22 years as a Unitarian parish minister in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taught drawing, painting, art history and philosophy. He’s also an accomplished painter and sculptor and sings, plays guitar and mando-cello. Fulghum even marches in parades, playing cymbals and tambourine.

Now that’s a diverse resume. He’d be a blast to hang out with.

His good-natured stories about families and life lessons are told with subtle ‘feel good’ humor. I love reading his short stories at bedtime, particularly after a long, trying day. His humor, and his ways of structuring a short story, always makes me laugh.

Fulghum’s work makes me think about my own upbringing and what I’ve learned from my parents. I’ve been blessed with a loving family and wanted to share my parents with you, my TKZ family.

***

My parents (Ignacio & Kathryn) have been married 68 years. They had a picture-perfect wedding in San Antonio at one of the oldest active cathedrals in the United States, the stunning San Fernando Cathedral, founded in 1731. We are blessed that they are still healthy and active and thriving. Good genes.

My dad is 93 years old and still going strong. I call him ‘the renaissance man’ because there is NO TOPIC that doesn’t interest him or that he wouldn’t try. He gave me my love for art and self-expression. He also gave me a competitive spirit and a ‘never say never’ attitude at trying new things. In his career, he designed and built things – an architect who became influential in developing downtown San Antonio. He actually named the Riverwalk – the Paseo del Rio. He retired early, but that didn’t stop him from exploring his love for the many things that still interest him. He has a mind like a sponge, always learning. I hope I have a fraction of his ability. He loves to cook, especially gourmet food and exotic recipes. This is the guy who dug a pit in our backyard to cook game on a spit or who wrapped fish in banana leaves to cook in an underground oven.

To this day, my dad studies food and painting techniques as if he were a young man. He’s a constant inspiration on how to grab life and hang on tight. He loves mind puzzles and the strategies of playing chess. Despite having hearing problems–due to his stubbornness at wearing hearing aids–he’s quick with a joke that makes me laugh. I usually say that my worst habits, I got from my dad, but I’m thankful I inherited other things too.

My mother is 90 years old. From her, I learned my lifetime love for reading. I have many fond memories with my mom, but she literally taught me how to devour books and planted the seed for my love of writing. Summers off from school were spent at the library (in the stacks) and I came home with dozens of books to read. My mom’s compassion for people and her generosity helped me see the world in a different way. That certainly gave me the insight to write about the lives of others in my books. She’s my best friend. We talk several times a day and I am their primary care giver, living only minutes away. Quite a change from when I was an angry rebellious teen. Even with our age difference, she has an intriguing mind that has adjusted over the years. She accepts a great deal and tries to understand things. We have long talks about how everything has changed, but she is curious and I love it.

Both my parents have a great deal of humor, but they are different. That doubles down the fun. I buy my mom the latest in Youtube (she calls it U2) viral video-wear, like her ‘Honey Badger Don’t Care‘ shirt or the Weiner Dog tee she’s wearing in this pic. Dad tries not to be seen with her in public when she’s wearing them. (Isn’t she cute?)

But on a day of weakness, even dad can be persuaded to do crazy family stuff, like the time we did a retreat to celebrate Willie Nelson. Long story. Even my dogs have headbands and braids.

FOR DISCUSSION:
1.) Please share what you learned from your parents or your childhood that has influenced you as an adult.

2.) Any funny stories to share?

Now if you’ll excuse me. My tambourine lesson is in thirty minutes.