We Need Coffee Contest, Fall 2011

The Automat


Play the above video to hear the contest question.

Find the answer *somewhere* in Whittington’s blog.

And please don’t ask him for the answer, I’ve already asked him to not give it away!

Good Luck!

Rules, details, and other fussy stuff:

1. Answer the relevant question in the video correctly in a comment to this post (below).

2. Participants may leave more than 1 comment, but the first comment-answer by a specific participant will be the only answer counted from said participant.

3. What constitutes a “correct answer” will be determined by me.

4. Winner will be randomly selected (using an online random number generator) from all correct entries.

5. Winner will be awarded a $10 gift certificate to Larry’s Beans.

6. Deadline is Friday, October 7, 2011.

7. In the event of “no correct answers,” this contest expires on Friday, October 7, 2011.

8. The certificate will be emailed to the winner’s email address within 1 week after said winner provides said email address to me.

9. Not responsible for lost or misdirected email.

10. I’m not affiliated with Larry’s Beans, I just think this is a cool-as-beans prize! Good luck!



Sip of coffee heats

A leaf falls, covers my cup

Embittered tisane



Dunkin’ Donuts





One must drink the unseen caffeine doom

And then use their obscene latrine room


10-7 UPDATE: No certificate winner in this contest. Visit The Automat and search for “coffee” to see what you missed!

Check out the update on my last flash fiction challenge!

Dancing- a Flash Fiction Challenge


Feeling brave? I am. So here goes:

Write a flash fiction story inspired by the above gif, post it at your blog, and link it back in the comments of this post. Any genre, or no genre. Word count range is 100 – 1000. Time limit is noon on Friday, September 30, EST. I will be posting my own story here by then.

If one or more people participate (besides me), I will choose one of those entries at random, and critique its strong points in the comments of this post. And of course other readers are invited to join in the friendly critique. I’ll put a link to this post in my next post, so those interested can simply click to revisit this challenge.

See you Friday!


p.s. If you are really brave, my first flash fiction challenge is still open!


Here’s my “Dancing” entry:

Happy Birthday, Ida

Dear Ida,

I don’t remember life before the bombs. But I remember the first time the bombs exploded. B-day, 1981. The window light got very bright, and then there was no window. Then part of the wall disappeared. Quick and easy. And the bombs kept exploding.

If only you would turn around, and see you finally have that sunroom you always wanted. Happy birthday, Ida. The sunset is beautiful- glowing purple and pink.

The bombs made your hands grow big and strong, and now you “knit one, purl two” all day and all night. You finally have the time and energy to knit. Your hair grew too. Big and billowy. High. Puffy. You finally have that bouffant hairdo you always wanted. You looks so nice on your special day.

The bombs closed the agency, so I don’t go to work anymore. I get to spend more time with you, Ida. You do nothing but knitty knit-knit since B-day. But that’s what you love, so I don’t stop you. I love you, Ida. I have another birthday surprise for you.

The bombs made me stronger. I dance all day and all night. I feed off their energy. If I can get out of these office clothes and into my dancing clothes, we’ll go out dancing for your birthday.

The bombs made my necktie big and strong as a mallet. And awfully heavy. It pulls tight on my neck, growing and swinging. I’ve been dancing since B-day with a mallet-tie around my neck. I can’t loosen it. I have to hold it up to keep from strangling.

If it weren’t for the bombs, I’d dance with you, dear Ida. If only you’d turn around and see me dance in front of your new sunroom, glowing pink and purple.

But the bombs are too strong. And big. And billowy. High. Puffy.

Oh hell, here’s another one. You don’t want another bomb on your birthday.

I’ll drop this damn mallet on it.



Writers Get Their Drink On . . Plus Cock Tail Recipeeps

* * *

Ahem. We of the ivy-towered writerly persuasion are known to imbibe now and again as the occasion calls, to further fuel our fevered muses, do we not? So OBVIOUS is the highbrow calling of our spirit-quaffing that I really needn’t bother with placating the proletarian OR the bourgeois masses with the tapestretical subtleties- yea, the chakra-dwelling agni of the artist-muse conduit which is called . . er . .

oh hell, where’s my beer???

Found it.

So do writers tend to have addictive personalities? Or is that all hype and myth? Stephen King wrote the razor-sharp “Cujo” in 1981 in an alcohol- and drug-induced stupor, and barely remembers any of it. In 1987 his family emptied the contents of his trash can onto the floor: beer cans, NyQuil, Valium and Xanax bottles, and cocaine and marijuana baggies. So he sobered up. Some fans think King’s post-sobriety novels are notable for their comparative fluffiness.


What was I saying? Oh yeah . . Is writerly sobriety worth it?

You know, we writerly types aren’t fooling anyone. Whether it’s beer or wine, sangria or Everclear, we like to get our drink on. And it’s not to fuel our muses. It’s to make the loneliness of writing a tad more tolerable take the sting out of yet another thumb-nosed rejection slip drown the gut-wrenching, hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing despair OHMYMITHRAPLEASEHELPMEEEE

OK. Just had another beer. I feel better now. Where were we . .

You say you don’t drink? You’re not a writer. No way, no how. You say you have 20 published books and you’ve never touched a drop of alcohol? Well . . then you at least have tried apple cider at some point, right? Yes? Alright, we’re back in business. Apple cider counts as hard liquor on Mars. You squeak by as a Martian writer.

Anyway, whether you’re a writer from Mars, Earth, or Betelgeuse . .

Welcome to the Writers-Are-Drinkers-Club!

As a member, part of your welcome package is some dubious advice à la Hemingway and Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers.

Of course, we won’t forget the biggest party favor.

Funny story about my first hard liquor drink- it was Wild Turkey. I must’ve been around 10. It was at my aunt and uncle’s house. The adults were chatting in the kitchen, and my cousins were in the playroom. I was sitting at the mini-bar in the front room, looking at a bottle, and wondering why the alcohol was called “Wild Turkey.” I also thought the drawing of the bird was interesting, and that a drink named “Wild Turkey” with a picture of a pretty bird must not be all that bad. Knowing it was a “grown-up” drink, I had to move quickly. I grabbed the bottle off the bar, unscrewed the cap, and took a swig without first smelling it (pretty fast, eh?). HOLY CRAP Lucky for me it was a small swig, and I managed to not retch or fall off the stool. And to this day I don’t know how Gonzo did it. And I’m still a lightweight. Whisky is my least favorite liquor. But I’m partial to rum and vodka cocktails. And wine. And beer. And wine and beer cocktails. I guess I’m partial to cocktails in general.

What was I saying? Oh yeah . .

Gronlund, this one’s for you:

Beastie Boys-Honored Brass Monkey

malt liquor (may substitute super-sized regular bottled beer if you’re a lightweight and don’t want to hurl after consuming)

OJ (the drink)

Drink malt liquor / beer to label.

Fill to top with OJ.


* * *

Oh my Mithra! I can’t believe I watched that video all the way through, and then actually posted it! What about my writerly reputation? Now somebody on Facebook Twitter G+ might not take me seriously as a writer anymore! . . only another Brass Monkey can console me know.

Ahhhh. I feel bebber. An at lease that video wasn’t funny Rebecca Black parody videoie.

OK thass mean, an I’m not mean drunk, so gonna make it up ta ya. Here go cleanse yer brain palate.

brain- get it? b-rain? beer-rain? mever nind.

An cheers!

Immerse Yourself in the REAL World

Many writers tend to write in solitude, behind closed doors. They do better without the distraction of the “real” world. I know I’m like this. I’m most productive when I’m alone in front of my computer with the curtains drawn and the TV off. No music, no background chatter, no people vying for my attention. I’m able to focus on the settings, characters, motivations, and actions in my novels in clear and immediate detail. And that’s exactly what I need to do to produce a quality story. But sometimes I need a break from my solitude (vacuuming the floor or fixing dinner or saying “Hi” to the UPS guy doesn’t count). A break- defined as an unusual “real” world experience- can inject energy and newness into our writing. Even simple experiences can heighten our perceptions:

Are you a life-long city-dweller? Visit a family farm. Always lived in the country? Grab a friend and wander the streets of the nearest big city.


Attend a country-western music concert if you’re a headbanger. If you prefer classical, try techno. Listen with a playful attitude and an open mind.


Plan ahead and visit an unfamiliar environment- the beach, a cave, the desert, a forest, the mountains . .


Eat at a restaurant which serves a cuisine you haven’t yet tried. Or try cooking an unfamilar dish yourself.


Commit to reading a novel in a genre you normally skip, and read it outdoors.


Whatever- just do it!


And let’s take it a step further. The next time you take a break, bring along a pen and notepad, a voice recorder, or a camcorder:

1. Sight- Look for something nobody else sees. Describe it in a way nobody else would.

2. Smell- Note the over-riding odors in your environment. Now note the underlying scent.

3. Sound- Pick a repetitive sound, close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus only on that sound. Keep focusing until your mind creates a vivid reaction. Describe the reaction.

4. Taste- The next time you’re hungry, drink a glass of water and go for a walk. On your walk, imagine preparing and eating your favorite food. Describe the taste. Then imagine preparing and eating your least favorite food. Describe the taste.

5. Touch- Choose 7 different inanimate objects along your walk (for example- tree, mulch, brick, etc.) As you pass each object, touch it and describe its personality.

Remember- simply reading about these exercises doesn’t count as actually doing the exercises.

So pick one- or all- and get out there and do it!

Then, if you’d like, share your experience below.


p.s. If you’d like to catch up on my first flash-fiction-or-other challenge, click . . . . . . . . . . . . . HERE.

Flash Fiction Challenge- Sequential Line Drawings

I have so much fun participating in flash fiction challenges, I decided to try hosting challenges as well. So this is my first flash fiction challenge to anybody who would like to participate. The exercise is great for keeping your writing creative and fresh, and the instructions are simple. Write a flash fiction story inspired by the above sequential line drawings (anonymous), post it at your blog, and link it back in the comments of this post. Any genre, or no genre. It can even be non-fiction, a poem, or a drawing of your own, as long as the starting point is the above prompt. Word limit is 1000. Time limit: next Monday- September 12 at noon EST. *No time limit on this one!* I will be posting my own story here next Monday. I hope some of you participate- and I look forward to reading the entries!

Oh yeah- the finale is I will choose an entry at random, and critique its strong points in the comments of this post. And of course other readers are invited to join in the friendly critique. I’ll put a link to this post in my next post, so those interested can simply click to revisit this challenge.

See you next week!


Here’s my entry, I ended up with a poem . .

Stand Lest Die

 Score lain along the
corporeal lip, draft of power, false ascent,


To purge animas:

Phage money





Spill and spawn rich



and still

sun — rise

light — dawn

Again, the

Surrender sentient
requiem, as corners unfold, Celestia blinks, dies, disappears

One swain comes another,
a love regress

 Still no heaven

No hope for sheol