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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 9/9/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

Allan Davis examines his priorities. • Join the discussion...

Bruce Bethke ultimately forgives George Lucas for straying off the path. • Join the discussion...

Kersley Fitzgerald continues to put things in perspective sharp contrast. • Join the discussion...

Vidad wins our What's My Line? challenge, by being both funny and memorable. • Join the discussion...

All this and more, as Fight Procrastination Day follows Be Late For Something Day, and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

Dust My Jacket...

As of the deadline for our current challenge, we have received the following entries (listed in the order in which they were received).

Due to the extreme brevity of the challenge, and to keep folks from getting frustrated with an abundance of links, I've taken the liberty of quoting your dust jacket bios here (free publicity FTW!) so that we'll have a single point of reference:

  • J.M. Perkins

    His atomic components are the bones of dead stars. His emotional and physiological features are the end result of millions of years of relentless warrior ape breeding. He is 113 kilograms of tooth, claw and muscle wrapped around the most advanced computer known to man. He draws from the common cultural knowledge of humanity to forge shocking visions through the power of language itself. He is: J.M. Perkins.

  • J.M. Perkins

    J.M. Perkins spent the first 14 years of his life preparing to flee to the wilds of Canada to escape the forces of the Antichrist. Since then, he's spent his time since attending college, working at a candy factory, performing a variety of unsanctioned sociological experiments, getting published and graduating high school... though not necessarily in that order. He lives in San Diego with his roller derby playing photographer wife and his chickenshit dog.

  • xdpaul

    Eness is the first, less famous, farmboy on a remote planet who wondered if there was more to this than moisture vaporators and patch-in droids.

    He writes adventures in rural horror, technology and the burning pink seascape of the soul.

    The head of a rugged clan of six livestock-raising urban denizens, he’s been grafted to the capital city of the future home state of Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

  • Henry

    In his long and varied life, Henry has bagged wild groceries, labored manually, been a student, built sandwiches, purveyed pizzas, sold the news, been a student, edited a magazine, delivered the news, aided engineers for whom English was a second language, been a student, written comic books, supported software (L)users (he says the ‘L’ is silent), broken software, broken more software, told stories professionally, edited a magazine, all while working part-time as a minor god.

  • Vidad

    Vidad MaGoodn is an occasionally typo-prone neurotic, who thinks having lots of babies is good and having debt is bad. Needless to say, that line is easier to type than to live.

    He likes starting fires, arguing both sides of an argument with lots of gesticulation and little actual content, and typing up things that most people wouldn't dare to think.

    His writing verges on the insane and borders on the profound, though both are generally sacrificed to a good joke.

    When he's not writing, he's thinking about writing. When he's not doing either, he's wishing he'd chosen a career that made money without requiring work.

    Gin and cigars are his less-than-secret vices, and both were used in the creation of this book, albeit with limited efficacy.

    Though his "career" is in radio, be glad you're reading this rather than hearing it, since his voice painstakingly intertwines the rich timbre of Larry King with the soothing richness of a far-off truck horn.

    Finally, before reading, be sure to pack your cheeks with something nutritious, because the sweet-tart fluff herein is likely to raise your literary cholesterol. Don't say you weren't warned - because no one will listen.

    Cloning Ray: because "Great" and "American" are both far-off seconds to the word novel.

    (Disqualified due to length, but included for the sake of completeness!)

An enthusiastic “Huzzah” to all who have entered! The judges are now considering your submissions. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 11 September 2011.

Sneaking Killers through the Back Door

And now it is time for this week's Friday Challenge, courtesy of Vidad:

I want to get into the SFWA. Bad.

I was having a conversation with Marc about this last week. In order to get in, you have to sell a short story to one* of their qualifying markets – which he did this year with the sale of his short story “Absinthe Fish” to Bull Spec.

Why do I want to get in? Perhaps the desire for approval, perhaps because it’s a good launching point, perhaps because I have an untoward craving for outside recognition... perhaps all of the above.

I’m sure many of you would like the same thing, for at least one of those reasons.

So... having won the What's My Line? challenge with a good one-liner (the one that didn’t brag about something I was “darn good at” at while simultaneously shooting said thing down with an unfortunate typo), here is what I put forward to you intrepid challengers.

Write a killer short story to sell. A nice, kick-in-the gut piece that’s been mercilessly edited into a shining dagger of literary excellence. A short, sweet tale of perhaps 1000-1500 words that a perceptive editor will look at and go “Hey... I’ve got space for this beauty... I’m gonna run it.”

It’s time to do it. Then take that puppy and shop it. I’m going to do the same thing, because putting this challenge out there gives me a deadline as well. And if I announced my intention and then failed to follow through, I’d be as thoroughly ashamed as a narcoleptic Jolt salesman.

Some of you are good enough. Many of you have better ideas and more plot-building finesse than I do. But most of you are limited on time, like I am (averaging 5 radio scripts a week plus a few dozen audio spots will do that to you). So take that scintillating zinger out of your RAM and make it something that gets you the recognition you crave with shameful and secret desire.

Pupate, dear ones, pupate. Craft a tale that makes us feel something... and launches you to the next level.

I finished my first novel and I’m ready for more. While it’s still in the editing stage, join me in a binge of black coffee and creative genius.

You know it’s in there. Bring it out.

And win the challenge.

* One short story for Associate membership; it still takes three for full-blown Active membership!

Hey Vidad, want to give folks a longer running time, since you are requesting a complete story?

Naw.... make 'em work. We'll thin the herd.

So, at the risk of “thinning the herd”... anyone can enter, without restriction, and you may enter as many times as you wish. (Yes, given the nature of this challenge, Vidad is also allowed to enter! He can't vote for his own work, but if he submits a piece — and I hope he will — I'll try to arrange for additional judges.)

Everyone is asked to vote, and to say a few words about what they liked, and why. Or to say a few words about what they disliked, as the case may be; by submitting an entry, you implicitly agree to accept criticism, because there will probably be some handed out, and no one is immune. When voting, please rank a work as either “0” (not so good), “1” (not as bad), “2” (could have been better) or “3” (pretty good stuff!). If you give either a “0” or “3” vote, feel free to argue in support of your reasoning.

Don't like the negativity? Feel free to think of the levels as “0” (Not bad for a first attempt), “1” (Right on!), “2” (Holy cow, I wanna buy this now...) or “3” (Sweet mother of God, how did you write something this awesome?!!). The point is to clearly differentiate, and rank according to your own preference.

For the purposes of this challenge, Vidad will be serving as Ye Olde High Marker, Voluntarily Walking th' Plank.

As of now, we are playing by the loosely enforced and slightly modified rules of The Friday Challenge. All entries are due by 6 AM Eastern time on the morning of Friday, 16 September 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 18 September 2011.

Oh, there is one more thing... but it is the most important! Have fun. Always have fun.
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